LORD DUDLEY STUART*
rose, pursuant to notice, to move for copies or extracts of any correspondence between this Government and the Governments of Turkey and Russia, relating to the occupation by Russian troops of the provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia. The noble Lord said: I am quite aware how very little attention questions of foreign policy generally excite in this House, and I regret my own want of ability to invest my present subject with the interest which I conceive it deserves. I am, however, deeply impressed with the importance of the question, and trust the House will extend to me some indulgence while I endeavour, to the best of my power, and in as short a time as I can, to discharge what I believe to be my duty, by laying before it a statement on the subject of which I have given notice. Some hon. Gentlemen may think that time employed on discussions relating to foreign affairs is wasted. Such, however, has not been the opinion of our best and greatest statesmen. In support of that position, I might quote authorities from Lord Chatham down to the present day; but I shall confine myself to a reference to the opinions of one on whom I look with great respect, and which, I presume, will not be treated lightly by any one sitting on the Treasury bench, for they are the opinions of one who must be allowed to be, as well by his enemies as by his supporters, one of the ablest Ministers to whom the Foreign Department of this country has ever been entrusted. The authority to which I refer is that of the noble Lord the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. My noble Friend, some years ago, made use of the following language:—I know that there are many persons in this House who look with great indifference, if not with actual repugnance, at discussions which turn upon our foreign relations; who think that they sufficiently perform their duties in this House, by devoting themselves sedulously to our domestic concerns; who are willing to leave our* From a printed pamphlet.1129foreign affairs to the unquestioned discretion of His Majesty's Ministers; or who, at least, believe those affairs to be matters of peculiar mystery and craft, upon which none but the fully initiated are capable of arriving at sound and satisfactory opinions. Why, as well might a man think that provided he looked carefully after his estate, and managed his household with economy and order, it was unimportant to him what might be his behaviour towards his neighbours. When we consider how much our purely domestic interests are concerned in our diplomatic relations with other countries—when we reflect what influence the foreign policy of so great a Power as England must necessarily have upon the transactions of the world, and how much it must affect the welfare and peace of nations—it is plain that both those who look only to our own selfish interests, and those whose views take a higher flight, ought equally to watch with jealous anxiety every step of the Government in these matters. But then, as to the difficulty of understanding these things. It may suit the purposes of some to endeavour, like the high priests of Egypt, to keep knowledge to themselves, by locking it up in mystical and unintelligible language; but the days are gone by when diplomacy was an occult science; the intercourse of nations must now be conducted upon the same principles as that of individuals. I say, then, that every English gentleman, who brings to the debates of this House an honest mind and a manly and generous spirit, will find it just as easy to judge of these matters, if he will only insist upon having proper information, as he would of anything else to which he may direct his attention. I, therefore, implore this House to rouse themselves from that apathy as to our foreign affairs which has prevailed so long; for they may be assured that never, upon a matter of high national concernment, was the salutary control of their interference more urgently required.I will show that the subject to which, on the present occasion, I ask your attention, is one of high national concernment. Those persons who are the most averse from interference with the affairs of other countries, even the total abstinence men, the teetotallers in politics, are apt, when they declare against all interference, to make a reservation with regard to questions in which our honour or our interest may be directly concerned—I will show that the present question affects both, and that it is precisely because we are a commercial nation that we are deeply interested in it. Now I beg the House will not be alarmed—I am not going to urge it into war—far from it. I do not even wish the Government to assume an attitude hostile to Russia—I know the nation is determined to remain at peace—everyone is for peace—I am for peace—and I have given security to that effect in the votes I have recorded in favour of the proposals of my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding, for the reduction 1130 of our forces and the diminution of our expenditure. It is not for war, then, that I am about to ask in my present Motion, but for information. If my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs will say that there is no correspondence on the subject referred to, then there is an end to the question. But my noble Friend knows, and the whole world knows, that there has been a vast deal of correspondence on the subject, and that it has occupied the attention of the Governments of various countries for a length of time. In order to understand the question it is necessary to inquire what are Moldavia or Wallachia—what is, and what has been, their political condition? These princicipalities, which contain a population of about three millions, lying on the north of the Danube, and placed between that river and Russia and Hungary, form parts of the Turkish empire. They have done so for four or five centuries. The inhabitants after struggling long for their independence, at length submitted to the rule of Turkey, and entered into treaties, or capitulations as they are termed, by which they acknowledged the Forte as their Suzerain, on certain conditions most favourable to their liberty. The first of these capitulations was signed in 1393. It stipulated, amongst other things, that the Wallachians should always be governed by their own laws; the other capitulations were signed in 1460 and in 1513. Those capitulations have been acknowledged and confirmed not only by Turkey, but also by Russia, even so recently as in the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829. The inhabitants, notwithstanding that they are of the same religion as the Russians, and notwithstanding the intrigues of the latter, have remained firm in their allegiance to the Porte, and are more so now than at any former time. It is true that for some fifteen or twenty years they have been anxious to introduce reforms into their institutions; and that desire, though not occasioned by, has doubtless received an impulse from the electric shock communicated to all nations by the events of February, 1848. This, in the course of last year, led to petitions, on the part of the Moldavians, for reforms. The Hospodar, instead of agreeing to them, threw the petitioners into prison, and Russian troops then entered the territory. This occurred about the end of June. In Wallachia, about the same time, a new constitution was adopted, with the consent of the Hospodar, 1131 who, however, shortly after abdicated. No violence was employed—no blood was shed—no disturbance occurred; a Provisional Government was established, and governed the country to the satisfaction of the inhabitants for three months. In the meantime a deputation was sent to Constantinople. The Sultan appeared at first to approve of what had been done, but required some alterations in the composition of the Government, which were immediately assented to. The Emperor of Russia, however, thought proper to interfere, and he declared to the Porte that, if she did not put down by force of arms the new state of things in Wallachia, he would. The Porte applied to England and France for advice, and was recommended to submit to the wishes of Russia.
Turkish troops were then sent into Wallachia, they entered Bucharest on the 25th of September, accompanied by the Russian General, Duhamel, overthrew the Provisional Government, and re-established the former order of things. Notwithstanding that all pretext for further interference was thus removed, a Russian army entered Wallachia a short time afterwards; and General Duhamel proclaimed that he took possession of the province in the name of the Czar, his master. This occupation was accompanied with circumstances of insult to the Turks, and oppression to the inhabitants; all authority, civil as well as military, was usurped by the Russians, all legal as well as illegal acts were performed by them. A Turkish subject was arrested in the house of the Turkish commander-in-chief. An English subject was dragged to prison, in spite of the remonstrances of the British Consul. All persons obnoxious to Russia were thrown into prison; and, what was worst of all, the Russian army, amounting to no less than 60,000 men, was maintained at the expense of the wretched inhabitants. At first, contributions in money were levied, and, as may easily be imagined, found their way as often into the pockets of the officers as into the military chest; then provisions were ordered to be supplied; but when it appeared that the troops were in danger of starvation, the Emperor generously permitted the Wallachian Government to open a credit at St. Petersburgh; thus saddling the country with a heavy national debt, and preparing pretexts for future oppression. Towards the close of the last Session, I asked my noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office, whether it was 1132 true that Russian troops had entered Moldavia; and my noble Friend stated in reply, that they had so entered without the authority of the Czar, and at the request of the Moldavian authorities; but that that movement had taken place solely for the purpose of restoring order in the province, and that the occupation was not to continue for any length of time. My noble Friend, however, must since have found out that he has been grossly deceived on the subject, for the Russian troops are still in Moldavia, and the Emperor has also taken military possession of Wallachia. The Russian Government has been extolled on account of what is termed its dignified attitude, its moderation, and its forbearance from intervention with the affairs of other States in the eventful year 1848. But it must be owned that such forbearance has not been exemplified in Wallachia. To march an army into the territory of a neighbour, occupy provinces belonging to an independent State with 60,000 men, and force the inhabitants to maintain them at their own expense for six months, is conduct which, at first sight, looks more like lawless aggression, than moderation or forbearance—it makes a pretty strong primâ facie case against the Power pursuing such a course; and unless reasons can be assigned giving Russia a right so to act, and making it justifiable for her to exercise the right, it must deprive her of all title to be looked upon in any better light than she has always been considered—that is, as a Power seeking unscrupulously her own aggrandisement, without any regard to her engagements, or any respect to the most solemn treaties. But was there anything to justify that interference on the part of Russia? I contend that there was not. In the Treaty of Kainardji, adopted in the year 1774, it was declared by the 16th Article—The Porte consents, that according to the circumstances of the two principalities, the Ministers of the Imperial Court of Russia may speak in their favour; and promises to take into consideration such representations conformably to the amity and respect which it has for the Powers.But that stipulation, which strongly contrasts by its moderation with the arrogant tone now assumed by Russia, cannot give her that power of interference which she claims. In the Treaty of Bucharest, and in those of Ackerman and of Adrianople, there were stipulations in favour of the 1133 principalities; but those stipulations have in no way been violated; it is not even alleged that they have been violated; and they cannot, therefore, justify the course which Russia has taken. A guarantee, in order to be performed, must be claimed. There is no guarantee on the part of Russia in these treaties, except one, which is of so extraordinary a nature that it must excite the greatest surprise, and that certainly has not been claimed.
The 5th Article of the Treaty of Adrianople runs thus:—The principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia having by a capitulation placed themselves under the Suzerainté of the Sublime Porte, and Russia having guaranteed their prosperity.The Emperor Nicholas is a powerful sovereign, no doubt, and a great potentate; his will is law, or he thinks it ought to be; but he is, I believe, the first mortal who has thought of giving to any country a guarantee for its prosperity. One Emperor of Russia did, indeed, declare himself to be God, proclaiming that as God was his God, so he was the god of his subjects; and really, in reading this article of the treaty, one must conclude that the Emperor Nicholas arrogates to himself the attributes of the Deity. I believe that after the present Motion has been disposed of, a question will come on relating to the actual condition of Ireland. Let hon. Gentlemen from that country apply to the Emperor Nicholas for a guarantee. Oh! if he would only extend his benignity to Ireland—if he would only take Connemara under his protection, there would be no more potatoe rot—no more famine—no squalor—no evictions—no emigration—no further occasion for a rate in aid; and the right hon. Member for Tamworth need not, in pursuance of the plan which has occasioned so much delight in Ireland, lay out his money in the purchase of Ballynahinch, but might save his thousands without stirring from the shades of Whitehall Gardens or the schools of Tamworth. Where is the hon. Member for Macclesfield? Let him get a guarantee from Nicholas the Great, and the prosperity of Regent Street may be ensured. Where is my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham? He should get a treaty negotiated with Nicholas, and with a guarantee for the prosperity of Birmingham he might stroke his beard with complacency, undisturbed by advertisements announcing the importation of scissors and knives from Germany!
1134 But, besides this guarantee, there is something else in the article I have been referring to; it states that Russia having guaranteed the prosperity of the principalities, it is understood that they shall preserve all the privileges and immunities granted to them in virtue of their capitulations.
Now, what were those privileges and immunities? First and foremost, the right of making their own laws. However absurd the first part of the article, there is certainly something logical in the sequel; for the best mode of carrying into effect a guarantee for the prosperity of a people is to allow them to govern themselves; therefore, immediately after the guarantee, conies, as a consequence, the stipulation for self-government. Now, how has Russia, which has provided for the prosperity of the principalities by saddling them with the expense of maintaining 60,000 troops, how has she evinced her respect for their rights and privileges? On the publication of a new edition of the Organic Statute or Constitution of the Provinces, Russia interfered in a manner wholly unjustified by treaty. It was necessary that the Organic Statute should be voted by the Legislative Chambers. Russia procured the adoption of some words by which she was termed the protectress of the provinces, and endeavoured to get inserted in it additional words, prohibiting any change in the constitution without the consent of the protecting Power. The Chambers indignantly refused. Nevertheless, the Russian Minister procured the surreptitious introduction of the words into the official copy of the Act; but the Assembly having immediately and formally protested against it—and the protest may be read in Martens' collection of treaties—it cannot be considered as having any validity. It can have no more validity than an Act of Parliament would, if words were interpolated in it without the sanction of this House. It is upon such pretexts that Russia has violated the territory of a neighbouring State with an army of 60,000 men, and forced the inhabitants to maintain them for more than six months at their own expense; and Russia has been eulogised for its moderation, dignity, and forbearance, and has received this eulogy from those who can set no bounds to their vituperation of Charles Albert and of the King of Prussia, for their interference in Lombardy and in Schleswig-Holstein. Let those who are so loud in their denunciation of Governments whom they accuse of disregarding 1135 the obligations of treaties, in order to assist and defend popular and national rights, display equal indignation at similar conduct when the object is to oppress and to trample down such rights; or let them stand forth in their true colours, not as the scrupulous defenders of good faith, but as the friends of despotism; and let it be seen that their pretended attachment to the faith of treaties is but a mask to disguise their hatred of liberty, and the desire which lurks in the bottom of their hearts to put down all popular rights, and to see mankind subjected to the degrading yoke of arbitrary power. It may, no doubt, he very convenient to Russia to hold possession of these provinces, in order to menace and overawe those who are struggling for their liberty in Hungary. So, too, it would be convenient to her to occupy the Ionian Islands, in order to intimidate the patriots of Italy; and who can doubt that she would do so, if not deterred by one only reason—namely, that they are in the hands of a powerful State; and that, in short, she dare not. Who can doubt that if these islands had been in weaker hands, that they would have been treated like the principalities of the Danube?
She has already, under pretext of invitation from the inhabitants of Hermanstadt and other frontier towns—and by what arts such invitations are obtained, it is not difficult to imagine—advanced from Wallachia into Transylvania. And what has been her conduct there, where she professes to have gone solely for the benevolent purpose of preserving the inhabitants from the evils of anarchy and confusion? Finding some unfortunate Wallachians, who had fled into exile in order to escape from her fury, and who fancied themselves in safety in the territory of another State, she has seized them, and, without respecting sex, has sent off even women and unmarried girls prisoners into Russia. The preservation of the integrity of the Turkish empire has always been considered an object of the utmost importance by our statesmen. It has been declared to be so in many a Royal Speech from the Throne. It has been proclaimed by Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs, and by Prime Ministers, belonging as well to conservative as to liberal Governments, and even by hon. Gentlemen who may possibly belong to future Governments—by protectionists. Our statesmen have vied with each other in declarations on this subject. My noble Friend at the head of the Foreign 1136 Office, in the course of a debate which took place on the 4th of February, 1834, said—I consider it of the greatest importance to this country, and to the balance of power in Europe, that the Turkish empire, such as it subsists, should be maintained in all its independence and integrity; and it was not without due consideration that this was pointed out in the Speech from the Throne as a matter deserving of the serious attention of Parliament.It is, however, unnecessary to quote speeches when facts can be referred to. For what did we incur the risk of war with France, and encounter not the risk, but the reality—which I trust sincerely may never occur again—of a misunderstanding of long duration with that country—for what but to prevent the Pacha of Egypt retaining possession of Syria? Was it a more serious blow to the independence of the Ottoman empire that Egyptian troops should occupy Syria, than that Russian troops should take possession of Moldavia and Wallachia? But perhaps there is a change in the views of those governing the country. Perhaps it is a mistake to consider it of consequence that the integrity of the Turkish empire should be maintained, and, perhaps, that is now considered a matter of trifling importance.
I hope the noble Lord will tell us—I call upon him to declare, for I think the House has a right to know—whether the views of Government have undergone a change in this respect, or whether the same importance is attached to it as heretofore. For my part, I hesitate not to declare, that I think it deserves, not only as much, but greater attention than ever.
I said that I would show that it was in its commercial bearings that the question I have ventured to bring before the House was especially important. I think I can do that in a very few words; and I would intreat the calm attention of the House to this part of the subject, I have endeavoured to avoid all asperity in bringing forward this Motion: I have given no expression to those feelings which, I am not ashamed to confess, never fail to rise in my breast when contemplating the acts of the oppressor of Poland. I would beg the House to meet me in the same spirit, and enter dispassionately on the consideration of this branch of the question.
The military occupation of the Danubian principalities must be regarded as the first step towards the dismemberment of the Turkish empire—that conclusion to which the policy of Russia has always tended—or 1137 not the first step; for many such steps have been taken already, sometimes boldly and openly, sometimes insidiously and stealthily, and sometimes, as I hope will be the case in the present instance, they have been, though always unwillingly, retraced. The occupation, then, must be regarded as a step—as another step towards that end. There is no Government so liberal in its commercial dealings as Turkey; none embraces so practically the doctrines of free trade; and any change in the affairs of the world that should place Turkey under the rule of any other Power would be a heavy blow to our commerce. It behoves us, therefore, to be exceedingly jealous of any beginning that may by possibility have such an end. Gentlemen who are disposed to think or speak lightly of such a result, forget that whilst the tariff of Russia either prohibits the introduction of almost all our manufactures, or saddles them with duties of prohibitive amount, Turkey admits them all at the duty of from 3 to 5 per cent.
It appears, from official returns, that only three countries are better customers to us than Turkey—namely, Germany, which is the best of all, then Holland, then Italy, and the Italian Islands. France, though our nearest neighbour, is only on a par with Turkey. No other country comes near her. Russia is more than half a million below Turkey. Prussia, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, all together, do not equal her. Portugal, our ancient ally, supposed to be of so much importance to us in a commercial point of view—Portugal and Spain together, with the Azores, and with Madeira, and the Balearic Islands too, do not reach her; and even if our own possession, Gibraltar, which annually takes more than half a million, be added, barely surpass her. This appears from the revenue and population returns for the year 1846—a year not the most favourable for my purpose, but it is the nearest to the present time to which I have access. I beg to call the attention of the House to some observations powerfully supporting my view of the importance of our trade with Turkey, which appeared on the 24th of December last, in an ably written paper, having a large circulation in the manufacturing district, the Manchester Guardian:—Few Englishmen—few English manufacturers even, are aware that the narrow passage of the Dardanelles is continually traversed by fleets freighted with the produce of English looms, of 1138 English mines, of English workships, and of English colonies; that this great stream of commerce, having arrived at Constantinople, and having suffered there such diminution as serves to supply the wants of that capital and its surrounding provinces, passes on to the Black Sea, where, dividing into two branches, the smaller seeks the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, through the mouth of the Danube, whilst the larger, reaching Trebizond, is again subdivided, diffusing itself over Persia on the one hand, and on the other stretching, by means of the great caravan lines, into the boundless east, as far as Caubul, Khokand, Bokhara, and Chiva. The ignorance which prevails respecting its resources can only be explained by the circumstance that it is carried on almost exclusively by the agency of foreigners. Yet this trade is important on account of its present magnitude, and still more important by the promise which its rapid increase affords of an almost indefinite future development. The question is sometimes asked, "What interest can England, a Christian nation, have in the preservation of the Ottoman empire? When the facts which we have just stated are known, the question admits of an easy answer. Whilst countries, which boast of a higher degree of civilisation, have vied with each other in inventing complicated contrivances, having for their object the protection of native manufactures, to the certain injury, and sometimes to the utter destruction of their foreign commerce, the Turkish Government has adhered to its ancient maxims, and on this point as well as on some others, has set an example of liberality which has been little applauded, and still less imitated, by western Governments. Now, suppose for a moment that any European Power—Austria, France, or Russia, obtained possession of Constantinople, would the manufactured goods of England be permitted in that case to pass into the Black Sea, as they are permitted at present, on paying a small ad valorem duty of between 3 and 5 per cent? Is it not more rational to conclude that any European Power, on gaining the command of the Dardanelles, would extend its present tariff to its new dominions? Now, the tariffs of France, Germany, and Russia are prohibitive of British manufactures, with the exception of the half-manufactured article of cotton twist, which is admitted into the two latter countries as a great favour, at an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent. We must, therefore, expect, if the rapidly approaching frontier of the Russian empire should ever reach the banks of the Hellespont, not merely to see the increase of our Eastern, or Greek trade, as it is termed in Manchester, receive a sudden check, but we must be prepared for the almost total annihilation of that valuable branch of our commerce. Nor does this opinion rest merely on a calculation of probabilities; it has received the confirmation of actual experience. Up to the time when the Russians took possession of Georgia, merchants from that country visited Constantinople in considerable numbers for the purpose of purchasing English manufactured articles; but a few years after its annexation to the Russian empire this commerce ceased, and the Georgian traders have entirely disappeared from Constantinople. The late Earl Grey is reported to have said that the meanest artisan in the kingdom is interested in preserving the balance of power. The observation is no doubt correct; but the 1139 interest must in many instances be somewhat remote. The interest, however, of the Manchester operatives in preserving the independence of Turkey is direct and obvious.The trade with Turkey is not only large, but it is steadily and rapidly increasing. In a speech which I made in this House in the year 1836, I showed that the declared value of our exports to Turkey was, in the year 1827, little more than 500,000l.; in 1834, l,200,000l., that is, the exports to Turkey had increased by 700,000l. Since the last-mentioned period they have further increased by 1,200,000l., that is, from 1834 to 1846 they have doubled; whilst from 1827 to 1846, in twenty years, they have increased fivefold. This increased and increasing power of consumption of our manufactures, forms, I think, a sufficient answer to those who speak of the Turkish empire as effete and in a state of decay; it shows that it has resources in abundance; and surely demonstrates that if it was important to us that the integrity of that empire should be maintained twenty years ago, it is, in a commercial point of view, still more important now. Now, compare the progress of the trade of Turkey with that of Russia. In twenty years, while our annual exports to Turkey have increased by 2,000,000l., our exports to Russia have increased only by 500,000l. Twenty years ago the declared value of our exports to Turkey was less than half that of our exports to Russia. Now, our exports to Turkey exceed those to Russia by more than one-third.
I have stated that twenty years ago our exports to Turkey were only half a million; by the latest returns they are nearly two millions and a half; and during the time that our exports to Turkey have risen from half a million to two millions and a half, those to Russia have only risen from 1,200,000l. to 1,700,000l. But what I have said forms but an imperfect picture of the relative value of the trades; we must inquire of what the exports consist; a large portion of those going to Russia, nearly one-half, is composed of the half manufactured article of cotton twist, which is worked up by the foreign manufacturer into goods, and afterwards brought into competition with our own. The value of cotton manufactured goods exported to Russia is perfectly insignificant; it does not amount to 50,000l. The trade to Turkey presents an aspect precisely the reverse. The value of cotton twist exported is small, and almost the whole of our exports 1140 to that country consists of cotton manufactured goods. In 1847 the declared value of cotton goods alone exported to Turkey equalled, within a few pounds, the declared value of goods of all sorts, cotton twists and all, exported to Russia. It is well known how much more valuable the trade in cotton goods is than that in cotton twist. This has been well expounded in a pamphlet which has lately been published, from which the following are extracts:—Of course the greater the amount of labour and capital required to produce any manufactured article, the greater is its value, in proportion to the value of the raw material of which it is composed. Out of the price of plain and printed calicoes must be paid, not merely the expense of the labour and the interest of the capital employed in producing the yarn, but also the labour of weaving and printing, and the interest of the capital employed in those processes; and according to the best estimates which have been formed on this subject, whilst the value of cotton twist is about double the value of the raw material which has been worked up in making it, the average value of the plain and printed calicoes, of which our exports consist, is about five times greater than that of the raw material. Deducting, then, on this account one-half from our exports of cotton twist, and one-fifth from our exports of plain and printed calicoes, we shall find a residue of 1,424,548l., which must have been received in the shape of profits and wages, by our capitalists and workmen engaged directly or indirectly in the cotton manufacture, on account of our exports to Turkey in the year 1847; and the sum of 413,177l. only as the amount which they received in profits and wages, during the same year, from our exports to Russia. As far as the cotton manufacture is concerned, the Turkish trade is therefore more valuable to England than the Russian, nearly in the proportion of five to two, and as this remarkable difference arises from the liberality of the Turkish tariff, which is uniformly low for all manufactured goods—from three to five per cent on the actual value—whilst the Russian tariff is almost as uniformly prohibitive, it is probable that an examination of the relative value of the Turkish and Russian trades with reference to other products would show a result no less favourable to the former than that at which we have arrived as respects the most important branch of our manufacturing industry.I shall be told that some of these goods are only sent to Turkey in transitu to Persia and other parts of Central Asia; but should we enjoy this advantage if Turkey were in the hands of Russia? And if that event should happen, how long would Persia remain independent?
It will be urged that the aid of the smugglers would be called in to prevent the exclusion of our goods; but this would only operate as a mitigation of the evil, and not as a cure; for if you do not pay the tariff, you must pay the smuggler. It never can be argued, that it is of no consequence 1141 to us whether the tariffs of foreign countries are favourable to the admission of our goods or not. It is admitted, on all hands, to be a great advantage that our manufactures should be admitted at low duties. Even the protectionists admit that; but they object to free trade because they see in other countries no disposition to reciprocity, and though we adopt low duties, other countries refuse to do so. In Turkey, we have a country which sets us the example of free trade, and is ready to take all our manufactures: ought we not to be concerned in maintaining the independence of a country of so much importance to our interests? At this late hour I will not point out the various machinations of Russia, all tending to the detriment of Turkey, nor detain the House while I recount how she has filled with her agents and intrigues Bulgaria and Servia, and other portions of the Sultan's dominions. There is a great deal to be said on these matters, but it would take too long on the present occasion. I have been accused of introducing sentiment into politics: am I not on this occasion, appealing to you in behalf of your interests? On what was called the monster debate, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that nations were influenced only by their fears and their hopes—that Turkey, in reference to Russia, was actuated by fear; and in reference to England, by hope. I trust that my noble Friend will not deceive that hope, and that he will take such measures as that Turkey shall have less reason for fear of Russia, if, indeed, she does not entertain any fear. I, however, am inclined to believe she does not. She is not in the weak state she was in some years ago; and her army is large, and full of spirit. All that she now requires is the moral support of England. On a late occasion, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs told the House that the character of England was unshaken, that her moral influence stood high—that we were in a condition to give advice; and when given, it was listened to, and not despised or spurned. Let him now exert that influence. Every one connected with the East—every one that has been there—every one that knows anything about it, concurs in saying that all that is required by Turkey is that this country should assume a firm and resolute tone in her behalf. Though I see much to approve and admire in the conduct of the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign 1142 Department, I cannot help thinking that his language and attitude are not always sufficiently determined when he has to deal with powerful States. If he had remonstrated energetically when Russia first entered Moldavia—which she did with great hesitation, at first, disavowing the general whose act it was—and had shown that the British Government regarded that step with decided disapprobation and aversion, the proceedings of the general would perhaps never have been sanctioned, and at all events, the troops would soon have been withdrawn. The production of the papers for which I have moved will show how far this opinion is well founded. I hope they will not be withheld; and, thanking the House for their great kindness in listening to me with so much attention, I will only further observe, in words used on a former occasion by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that it is matter of deep interest and high importance that—we should know what have been the principles on which our Government has acted—what has been the spirit in which the influence of England has been exerted, what objects have been aimed at, and by what means we have sought to attain them.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House Copies or Extracts of any Correspondence between this Government and the Government of Turkey, and between this Government and the Government of Russia, relating to the occupation, by Russian troops, of the provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia.
seconded the Motion. Hon. Gentlemen who were in the habit of looking round the political horizon must often have felt a suspicion that the influence of England, like all other sublunary things, must be, in all political respects, far from stationary, and that our naval supremacy ought not to be calculated upon as something which was always to be preserved. A vast republic was growing up on the other side of the Atlantic, which it was probable might not always be animated by the most friendly feelings towards this country. A writer of an American Guide-book could not pass the Horse Guards without indulging in the anticipation, that perhaps within the sight of living individuals, there might be an army of 50,000 Americans drawn up in line behind that building. And when the same writer saw the standard waving over Windsor Castle, he thought it probable that "the 1143 piece of flaunting bunting might be superseded by the modest American stripes and stars." A serious American politician had also given his authority to the probability of the fact, that within the moderate compass of human life a period would arrive when the physical power of the United States would be much greater than that of this country. It might be so. The ground might be slipping away from under us; and—like Genoa, Venice, Holland, and other countries—a time might be coming when England might cease to be as powerful as she was now. She ought, therefore, to contrive to make friends somewhere or of somebody, and to place herself at the head of the great struggle which was going on between civilisation and freedom on one side, and barbarity and despotism on the other. He would not omit the opportunity to set before the Government, that there was in this country a strong current of public opinion in favour of our assuming the same position which Elizabeth and Cromwell—the woman and the man to whom our greatness was mainly owing—had in their day taken. He would not admit that he stood there to plead for war, or that any ancient habits or professional recollections were prompting him to express these opinions. He "hated war." A great leader had said so, and he might be allowed to follow him. But there was such a thing as incurring danger through being afraid of it. Did any man go about proclaiming, that if he were attacked by robbers he would not resist, because robbers were malevolent and strong? Believing, therefore, that the people took a vehement and deep interest in the progress of civilisation and freedom in other countries, and regarding this as an opportunity for the Government to lay before the world some evidence that they regarded foreign affairs with the same views, he would second the Motion.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
thought he should best perform his duty to the House by rising immediately after his hon. and gallant Friend who had seconded the Motion, in order to state the view which he took of the Motion of his noble Friend the Member for Marylebone. He fully retained the opinion which his noble Friend had quoted from a former speech of his, that it was desirable for the interest of this country, as well as creditable to the honour of that House, that the House of Commons should take a lively interest in the foreign relations of this country; and 1144 he owned that sometimes, both in and out of office, it had been a matter of regret to him that the foreign relations of the country excited, comparatively speaking, so little interest within those walls. Although no doubt, it might be inconvenient to the person who filled the situation which he had the honour to hold, to be called on frequently to discuss matters of this kind in that House, yet any man who felt that he honestly and to the best of his ability discharged his duty, must look with confidence to the support of the great majority of the House; and if with that feeling he found himself supported by the House of Commons, he need not say how much that support would contribute to strengthen the hands of the Government in dealing with foreign affairs. Nevertheless, he did not feel it to be consistent with his duty to accede to the Motion, on the ground that the papers which were called for were connected with discussions which were still going on, and also on the ground that the House had invariably acknowledged the inconvenience of producing an unfinished correspondence on matters still pending between this country and foreign countries. He could assure his noble Friend, however, that he would be greatly mistaken if he supposed that the subject to which he had drawn the attention of the House was not considered by Her Majesty's Government of great national and great European importance. He was quite ready to concur in every syllable of what his noble Friend had stated with regard to the necessity of maintaining the independence of the Ottoman empire. He held it to be of vast importance to this country, both in a political and a commercial point of view. With regard to the political branch of the subject, it was not necessary for any man to go into an argument to show that if those vast possessions—for vast they were—which were now under the rule of the Sultan, were to be partitioned among the other Powers of Europe, such a partition could not be effected without great European conflicts, and would materially damage the existing balance of power, to the detriment of those nations which did not participate in the spoil. Now, as England, under any circumstances, could not wish or expect to share in the spoils of such a transaction, it was obvious that it was neither her desire nor her interest to assist in such a partition. That feeling, however, was not confined to this country, and the House might be assured that the 1145 other leading Powers of Europe were as sensible as we were of the great importance of maintaining the integrity of the Turkish empire. That was expressly recognised in a preliminary paragraph of the Treaty of 1841, regulating the passage of ships of war through the Dardanelles; and he was satisfied that none of the great Powers who were parties to that treaty would think of infringing the principles which were so solemnly laid down in the preamble of that public Act. He had said that, politically, the independence of Turkey was of great importance; and, commercially, his noble Friend had in no degree overstated his case. It was true that there was no foreign country with which we carried on commercial intercourse in which the tariff was so low and so liberal as that of Turkey. The trade with Turkey, also, was an annually increasing trade. So far from its having reached its maximum, he believed that, if the improvements which were now making in the internal administration of Turkey were carried out, we should find that step by step our commercial intercourse would increase; and not ours only, but the commercial intercourse of all the trading nations of Europe also; and those regions which in former times were the centre of civilisation, would again approach their former condition. Of course, then, under these circumstances, and with these views, it would have been a dereliction of duty on the part of the Government if they had seen with apathy and indifference transactions which in any way, however indirect, would appear to bear on the independence and integrity of the Turkish empire, and such undoubtedly would be, primâ facie, the occupation of two Turkish provinces by the army of a neighbouring Power. An explanation, however, of that step was given at the time by the Russian authorities, and communications, some written, some verbal, had been going on since, not only between the Russian Ambassador and himself at this Court, but between the representative of Her Majesty and the Russian Government at St. Petersburgh, and the British Ambassador, the Turkish Government, and the Russian Minister at Constantinople. These representations had been made on our part in a most friendly spirit—in that spirit which was suited to the friendly relations which, he was happy to say, existed between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Russia. They had been received in the same 1146 spirit; and whatever might have been the substance of those communications, he thought that the House would be gratified in knowing that they had in no degree produced any change in the friendly relations between the two Governments. When the occupation first took place, a circular was issued by the Russian Government, a copy of which he held in his hand, stating the reasons which had induced the Russian Government to sanction the advance of Russian troops towards these provinces, and stating the contingencies under which that occupation would cease. The general ground on which that sanction was given—he said "sanction," because he believed that the immediate advance of the Russian force arose from communications on the spot between the authorities of the principalities and the Russian general commanding, but was sanctioned afterwards by the Russian Government—was stated in the following passage, which explained the contingency on which the duration of that occupation would depend. Count Nesselrode, after alluding to former occupations, and the evacuations consequent thereon, said—The same thing will happen this time also; and from the moment that, in Wallachia and Moldavia, legal order shall have been established, or that the Porte shall think that it has acquired a sufficient guarantee for the ulterior repose of those provinces, our troops shall be withdrawn from them, to go and reoccupy immediately that strictly defensive position which they occupied before.Now, of course, it was open to anybody to say that, when a Member of the Administration expressed his confidence in the intentions of any foreign Government, that he reposed an undue belief in those intentions, that he was not sufficiently watchful, and that he had not profited by past events. In answer to that, he could only say that, whatever might be said of the validity of the grounds on which the occupation had taken place, he was confident that the Russian Government had no intention of making any permanent encroachment on the Turkish empire; and he was satisfied that the question between Russia and any other Power was a question merely of time, and not a question of ulterior intention. It was but fair to say, that since those events which during the last twelve months had agitated Europe, the Russian Government had evinced a great desire to remain in an expectant attitude, and, with the exception of this occupation, had not interfered in the internal affairs of other 1147 countries. As to the grounds on which Russia had occupied these provinces, it was not for him to discuss their validity now; but the grounds assigned were, that the revolutionary movements which had taken place in these provinces were connected with much more extensive arrangements, and that it was in order to guard her own provinces against a similar movement that she interfered, and assisted the Turkish Government in putting down the revolt. His noble Friend had stated, very correctly, the progress of that, insurrection. It was perfectly true that Wallachia and Moldavia had been for some time dissatisfied with the arrangements of the Turkish Government; and he believed that the Turkish Government itself was convinced that improvements and reforms were necessary to produce contentment and promote prosperity in those provinces. The conduct of the Turkish Government had been most satisfactory; for they had not only given an amnesty for what had occurred, but they had shown an anxious desire to investigate the causes of the discontent which prevailed, and to introduce such improvements as would satisfy the reasonable desires of the people. These matters, and the manner in which the evacuation should take place, were matters for discussion between the Russian Government and the Government of Turkey; and, pending these discussions, he was quite sure that his noble Friend would not—that he could not, consistently with his duty—produce the papers which he had called for. He agreed with his hon. and gallant Friend who seconded the Motion, that it was fitting for this country to maintain the moral position which a great country like this ought to hold, and must always continue to hold, unless by her own fault she forfeited it. He could assure his hon. and gallant Friend that it was the wish of Her Majesty's Government to maintain that position, and to maintain it by those peaceable means which his hon. and gallant Friend had so ably and so justly recommended. He was sure that the Government of every country which was strong in itself, and which could not be suspected of being actuated by fear in any tone which it might take in its communications with foreign countries, and which might, therefore, couch its communications in a manner not calculated to wound the feelings of any other country with which it might communicate, might, and must frequently, have it in its power to promote 1148 the progress of those principles to which his hon. and gallant Friend had adverted. With regard to the present question, Her Majesty's Government had taken the part which they thought most adapted to forward the objects which they had in view; and he trusted that the question of time would be the only thing between Turkey and Russia that could call for adjustment. He should have finished what he had to say long before, had he not been aware that some uneasiness existed out of doors, from an apprehension that the occupation in question might lead to an interruption of the friendly relations between Turkey and Russia; and certainly the orders given by the Turkish Government had tended to impress people with the notion that a rupture might take place. A proclamation had been issued by the Turkish Government, on the 5th of the present month, ordering the usual equipment of a squadron for summer exercise, and the march of troops towards the northern frontier, but disclaiming any notion of hostilities. Looking, therefore, at the assurances given by the Russian Government, and the well-known intentions and interests of the Turkish Government, he trusted that the apprehensions to which he had alluded would be found to have no foundation, and that the negotiations which were now going on between the Turkish Government and the Russian Government, at Constantinople, would terminate to the satisfaction of the parties concerned, and without disturbance to the general peace of Europe.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
said, matters had now assumed so serious an aspect in the east of Europe that if England was what she had formerly been, she would not then be discussing the present question in the House of Commons. He maintained that a fearful blow had been struck at British interests when the first Russian soldier had passed the boundary of those principalities. They had seen on the part of Russia perfidy after perfidy, and fraud after fraud, and yet the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs told the House that he relied upon her honourable intentions, because she had signed the Treaty of June 1841. He contended that the English Government was bound to interfere, and to insist upon the immediate withdrawal of every Calmuck and Russian from that soil, which they polluted by their presence. These provinces were 30,000 square miles in extent, and no less than 20,000 of them were rich and fertile lands. 1149 This territory was inhabited by a population now of upwards of 40,000,000. This population was capable of supplying our markets with every commodity which we were now reduced to purchase, at enhanced prices and inferior quality, in Russia. They were willing to receive payment for their commodities, not in money, but in British produce. The mouths of the Danube were so choked up with sand as to make it impossible to carry on properly the timber trade, which was formerly the most thriving trade in those parts. At this moment there were not more than eight or nine feet of water, and the vessels that could enter there were of too small a size to conduct properly that trade. Russia had beset every mouth and access with her quarantine regulations; so that if even a letter were allowed by the Russian authorities to pass, we owed it to their forbearance, or, as the phrase is—their magnanimity. The consequence was, that British trade in Moldavia and Wallachia was now wholly extinguished. Our merchants were forced against their will to go to Odessa and other ports, which, it might be said, enjoyed the advantage of the prohibitory tariff of Russia. The question the House had now to decide was, whether we were strong enough in our foreign, commercial, and political relations, to submit to this great loss of political influence and commerce in the territory he had described. If Wallachia was suffered to import and export freely, the trade of Russia was gone. So that this was a case of life and death to Russia. If the policy of Russia—and he was afraid he might say the policy of Great Britain—were suffered by Parliament to be carried out in respect to these provinces, he feared that what had been done in Moldavia and Wallachia would be imitated by Russia in every other part of the Turkish dominions, so that the future occupation of the Dardanelles would not be a question for the statesman to consider, but for the historian to record. He did not know what information the noble Viscount had received from his diplomatic agents in this quarter; but he was authorised to say, by one of the highest authorities on this subject, that every attempt was now being made by the Russian general and the troops under him to stimulate and exasperate, not only the population, but the Turkish army of occupation, to aggressive measures against Turkey. As to the noble Viscount's confidence in the disclaimer of Russia in respect 1150 to any aggressive intentions, it should be recollected that Russia had never yet invaded any country without heralding her advances by a disavowal of aggressive designs. It was quite clear that Russia would remain in these provinces in spite of all that had been said and done; so that it was too much for the noble Viscount to say that Russia would withdraw her troops. He should vote for the Motion of his noble Friend the Member for Marylebone; and he hoped that the noble Lord would not yield to any persuasion to withdraw it. If the noble Lord did give way, he (Mr. Anstey) should feel it to be his duty to ask the House to come to a division upon the question.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
trusted that the hon. Member would not persist in his intention to divide the House on this subject, for it would do no good to obtain an expression of opinion in so thin a House; and it would give a very erroneous notion of the opinion entertained as to the importance of the subject. He trusted that the hon. Gentleman would allow himself for the present to be satisfied with the declaration of the noble Viscount the Foreign Secretary. He did not agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Youghal as to the propriety of going back so far as to discuss the policy of the treaties of Akerman and Adrianople. If this country had failed, as was stated by the hon. Gentleman, as a matter of humanity, in seeing these treaties carried out, it was not the fault of the noble Viscount the Foreign Secretary. If the expectations of the noble Viscount were not fulfilled, he trusted that the whole subject would be again brought forward. It was very well to speak as if the fiat of England must at once settle all these matters; and he saw no good in concealing from ourselves the truth that the relations between Turkey and Russia could not always be arranged just as we wished; but still we could do much by exercising a moral influence. It should be recollected, that these relations were the relations of conterminous countries, and there had been going on for a very long period a number of circumstances which excited causes of dispute and difference. We should be cautious not to do anything which was calculated to increase the disturbance of the relations between them. It would be most indiscreet for a Minister of the Crown of this country to use such language towards 1151 Russia as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Youghal had resorted to. The forcible occupation of these principalities by Russian troops, and the making the inhabitants of these poor countries maintain and pay those troops, was an undoubted injury and injustice; and the noble Viscount would do well to make a representation to the Russian Government, that such proceedings met with the strong and general disapprobation of all parties in this country. He knew that this interference was justified in the dubious word protection; but experience, during the French revolution, and long previous, showed what acts were done under that name, and nothing could be more unjust than resorting to such a pretence. There was no doubt as to this protection, as it was termed, having originally been intended to be given with the view of defending the Christian inhabitants of those principalities against the violence and fanaticism of the Mussulman population; but matters now assumed a very different form, and it was in vain for them to suppose, however much they might conceive themselves to be justified by treaties in interfering, that they would not ultimately arouse public opinion throughout the rest of Europe to a pitch of indignation on this subject. He did not believe that this aggressive spirit was attributable to this or that Emperor of Russia; but it was the policy of that country, and it might be forced on the sovereign of that country rather than that the initiative originated with him. On this ground it was most desirable that no Russian sovereign should give any ground for the supposition that he was of an aggressive disposition. As for carrying out the favourite notion, said to prevail in Russia, of an empire from the Baltic to the Dardanelles, it never would be permitted by the maritime Powers. A general combination of other nations would be formed to prevent it, as was the case in the wars with Louis XIV. and Napoleon. If ever a war would be justifiable, it would be for such a purpose, as it would be indispensable for the safety of the rest of Europe. He looked forward to the continued invasion of these territories by Russia as an object which the noble Viscount should strongly keep in mind; and he (Mr. Monckton Milnes) was sure that, in any remonstrances, or other steps, which he might deem it expedient to adopt on the subject, he would secure the cordial support and assistance of France. Let him take firm ground on these matters, 1152 but take care not to dictate in a way which could not be enforced. He believed the advice of England would not be lost on Russia. If this advice was given wisely and opportunely, he did not despair that it would attain that very desirable result, of the restoration to these principalities of that independence to which they were entitled.
§ MR. URQUHART
felt that there was great truth in the objections urged. England could no longer stand by herself, or take her own part; but then they should not presume to discuss subjects on their merits. It was hardly necessary for him to give expression to his loathing as to the malignant influence of Russia on the foreign policy of other countries; but it was not against her, but her mean dupes and victims, that his indignation was aroused. He did not conceive that the thin attendance of Members that evening was a sufficient reason for abstaining from coming to a vote. On the contrary, he considered that to exhibit the thinness of the House on such questions, was the greatest service that could be rendered to England. He saw a number of Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House who had declared themselves in favour of international arbitration. They of course would not venture on a thought derogatory to their well-beloved Czar—under whom if they carried out their projects, they must place England and Europe to be arbitrated for as Poland, and pacified and set in order as Wallachia and Moldavia. He begged the House to recollect that the question before it was not a vote for papers, so as to enable them to obtain information; but whether or not, an aggression having been committed against an ally of the British Crown, we should stand by to approve by our silence. The noble Viscount the Foreign Secretary did not deny the aggression, but had showed his sympathy with the aggressors. He had pledged his word that this was merely a question of time; it had always been so between Turkey and Russia. The question of time was when Turkey should be relieved from the incubus of Russian domination, which for 150 years had pressed so heavily upon her. What further information did they desire—what further explanation could they receive? They knew this to be an aggression on a Power whose independence we had guaranteed by many solemn treaties. Her territories had been invaded by another ally of the British Crown, who was one of 1153 the parties guaranteeing that independence. Europe was menaced by two evils, Muscovite domination and popular frenzy. Turkey alone offered resistance to the former, and she was one of the few Powers unaffected by the latter. After the length to which the discussion had extended, he would not trouble the House further upon this subject; desirous as he might be to go over many parts of the subject—much as he might wish to expose the tyranny that had been exercised over the Ottoman Empire—and great as his desire might be to show how easy it would be for a Minister of England to manacle that power of Russia, before which they all trembled. He hoped his noble Friend would press this question to a division, if only for the purpose of showing how few Members were present, and how small was the amount of opposition which the House could present to the practices of the noble Viscount at the head of the Foreign Department. It was to be hoped that the avowal which that noble Lord had made, of entire reliance and perfect confidence in the acts of Russia in the East, would at least produce this effect, that, henceforward, that confidence would not be placed in him by the Ottoman Empire which the Poles had so bitterly repented having bestowed.
§ MR. HUME
did not understand what the purport of the hon. Member's arguments were. He had raised the forces of Russia in his mind to an enormous extent beyond the reality, and in like manner he magnified the danger to be apprehended from that quarter. He (Mr. Hume) had always warned the House against the aggressions of Russia. One solitary voice had been raised in that House in favour of the Czar when he brought the question of Poland forward; but there was nearly the universal sense of the House expressed in his condemnation, and that decision was applauded by the whole nation. Was not that a check upon the despotism of the Russian Emperor, when the independent community of England censured his acts, and none of his allies approved of them? Was that no inducement for him to halt in his career of cruelty and tyranny? He, for one, believed that Russia was in as much danger as any State in Europe. The Emperor's counsellors were leading him into danger, and before long he might be as helpless as any of the despots whose kingdoms had been plunged into anarchy. The noble 1154 Viscount at the head of the Foreign Department, so far from extenuating the faults of the Emperor, had censured them. He had offered the advice of the independent people of England, and that was all he could do. When the noble Viscount spoke to the Czar, he was backed by the whole authority of the people of England, and that ought to have some weight. The noble Viscount's advice was an honest counsel; and he (Mr. Hume) thought it must have an effect—the more so, that his confident opinion was that Russia did not contemplate the permanent violation of the independence of Wallachia and Moldavia. Under the present circumstances, it was a wise policy in the Government to offer a moral influence in cordial co-operation with France; and he looked to this union as the means whereby the peace of Europe would be preserved. That object would be still further promoted by the co-operation of the other States of Europe; but so long as France and England were joined in a bond of union, they had the power to effect that object. At any rate, the explanation given by the noble Viscount ought to be satisfactory at present; and it would certainly not be wise to divide the House on the Motion. The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone ought to rest satisfied with the repeated declaration of the noble Viscount the Foreign Secretary, who had already answered the question now involved in the Motion, when he stated that the occupation of Wallachia and Moldavia by Russia was only temporary. That statement had been repeated by the noble Viscount; and for the several reasons which he (Mr. Hume) had urged, he thought he might fairly urge his noble Friend the Member for Marylebone not to divide upon the Motion.
§ MR. DISRAELI
advised the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone not to call upon the House to divide. He would not, thereby, advance the interests he advocated. He (Mr. Disraeli) was opposed to those interests, and, therefore, the noble Lord would receive his advice with that qualification. The hon. Member for Montrose, as one of his reasons for recommending the noble Lord not to divide, said that he had sat in Parliament a long time, and that there had always been an unanimous feeling in the House against the policy of Russia—that that policy was never mentioned without being denounced; and he, therefore, proposed that the same course should be adopted which, he said, had been 1155 pursued on former occasions—namely, that these denunciations should be continued for the sake of their moral influence, but that a division was unnecessary. Now, the only inference which he (Mr. Disraeli) could draw from the circumstance of this constant denunciation, if it were so, would be against the advice given by the hon. Member; because speeches made in the House of Commons, and followed by no result, had apparently produced little effect on the policy of the Emperor of Russia. But he must remind the hon. Gentleman that his statement was not exactly accurate, that the policy of the Emperor had always been denounced, and never vindicated. He, for one, was not ashamed to say that on more than one occasion he had not scrupled to vindicate that policy. At this moment there were few who were not ready to admit that there had been on the part of Russia great forbearance, a great wish to maintain that peace which was a matter of so much importance with hon. Gentlemen opposite, and a sincere desire to secure the tranquillity of Europe. What might be the objects and designs of that Power he did not pretend to say, as he did not share in those powers of divination which noble Lords or hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House might possess; but he thought that it was a policy on which he might fairly congratulate this country, that a Power of the importance of Russia, under circumstances of such temptation as had offered themselves during the last few months, should have evinced a disposition, which no one could deny had not only materially tended to, but had been one of the main causes of, the preservation of peace. Contrast the proceedings of Russia, during the last twelve months, with that of the French Republic some forty or fifty years ago. Imagine the course open to a great and disciplined Power like Russia, had she chosen to seize the opportunity that had lately offered, and what suffering, what bloodshed, what loss of civilisation, must have been the immediate result, and the necessary consequence. Nothing, therefore, was, to his mind, more unwise than that hon. Gentlemen opposite should take every opportunity of expressing opinions concerning the character and conduct of one of the greatest Powers of Europe, not on account of what that Power had done, but of what that Power might do, according to the prophetic powers of those hon. Gentlemen. The conduct of Russia was 1156 to be decided upon by what she did; and it was apparent that her course in late transactions had been characterised by temperance and forbearance. In the instance before the House, the occupation of those provinces might have originated in a false interpretation of treaties, or in a misconception of the diplomatic position of Russia with those places; under such circumstances, the conduct of Russia, even though considered opposed to the interests of this country, or adverse to the law of nations, afforded one of those cases in which we must look with confidence to that Minister of the Crown—of whatever party the Ministry might happen to be formed—whose office it was to conduct such transactions. This was an occasion on which full confidence ought to be given, and negotiations allowed to have a fair trial. If the result proved hostile to the interests of England, then would be the time for the House of Commons to interfere; but to attack a great Power, not on ascertained facts, but on account of certain visionary results which might occur, was certainly not the way in which, as practical men, they ought to act. They might as well put an end altogether to the office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and to the whole diplomatic department of the country, as upon occasions like the present to express decided opinions with such very crude materials as they had to deal with; such a course must lead to results not only highly inconvenient to our diplomatic transactions, but dangerous to the tranquillity of Europe. He hoped the House would not divide upon this question, because, by so doing, a false impression would be spread abroad. He did not want the Emperor of Russia, or any other Power, to suppose that there was a want of sympathy in that House with any States who were not treated in accordance with the law of nations; but, at the same time, he hoped the Emperor of Russia would just understand that it was not the opinion of the House of Commons, or, as he believed, of the English people, that he was a despot whose conduct no one could vindicate, and that the whole object of his career was to tyrannize over mankind. He hoped the Emperor of Russia would understand that speeches like that of the hon. Member for Montrose were no fair representations of what was felt by the majority of that House, or by the majority of the people of England. He (Mr. Disraeli) believed, on the contrary, that the general 1157 opinion of the sensible portion of the community was, that, without giving an opinion on the constitutional or political circumstances of the people of Russia as they exist, they did recognise in the ruler of that country an individual of great ability, marked among those who occupy the thrones of the world as a man of intellectual power, and who had, upon the whole, exercised his influence with a due regard to the duties which had devolved upon him. As to speaking of the Emperor as if he had committed some outrage on human nature, in not having been horn under a constitution of King, Lords, and Commons, and in not having a Parliament and Parliamentary Committees to keep him in chock, he did not believe that such was the disposition of the majority of that House, or the feeling of the people who were walking in the street at that moment. The time had gone by for such crude and ignorant sentimentality to have its unchecked course. The hon. Member for Montrose had boasted that, for thirty years, he and others had, without fear of criticism, gone on pronouncing such opinions on the conduct of the Emperor of Russia, and talking what in his (Mr. Disraeli's) opinion was—and he hoped the hon. Member would forgive him saying so—unmitigated nonsense. They submitted the acts of the Emperor to the same criticism as they would apply to the conduct of the Sovereign of these dominions; and because he was not surrounded with constitutional checks, they described him as not only a despot, but as a sort of ogre, causing and exulting in the misery of humanity. He (Mr. Disraeli) could not concur in these views, regarding, as he did, the Emperor of Russia as an able personage, who, throughout his career, had proved himself in advance of the people he governed, and who at this moment was as fairly entitled as any of those who occupied thrones, to the respect of mankind.
§ SIR H. VERNEY
remarked, that if the Emperor of Russia was as forbearing and moderate as had been represented by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, he might on recent occasions have exercised a very powerful and beneficial influence in promoting peace—and in illustration, he (Sir H. Verney) would refer the House to the case of Denmark and the contested claims upon the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Other Powers had expressed strong opinions upon that question, but Russia none. The subject before the 1158 House was of great importance, but he doubted the expediency of a division.
MR. J. A. SMITH
dissented very decidedly from the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, that there was no general feeling in and out of that House against the policy of Russia. His belief was, that there was a very strong and general feeling against it, and that the Emperor of Russia, perhaps from the policy of necessity, was the unscrupulous and determined enemy of the progress of constitutional liberty. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, in recommending confidence in the statements of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, seemed to have forgotten the plain, honest, and undisguised opinions which that noble Lord had expressed in his place in Parliament concerning the conduct of Russia. He (Mr. J. A. Smith) joined with those who advised his noble Friend the Member for Marylebone not to divide; but at the same time he thanked his noble Friend for bringing the subject under consideration. The moral influence of opinion would, on this as on other occasions, have its full force and effect. He had full confidence in the noble Viscount the Foreign Secretary, and he could not forget how justly he claimed that confidence, believing that it was to his policy that we owed those relations with France upon which mainly depended the peace of the world. He (Mr. J. A. Smith) concluded by saying that while he deprecated harsh language, he protested against the occupation of Wallachia and Moldavia as an oppression upon the rights of humanity.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
congratulated the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire upon the cause and the client he had taken up. He (Mr J. O'Connell) agreed with the last speaker, except as regarded harsh language being applied to the conduct of the Emperor of Russia; for if there was any occasion when it was excusable to use strong language, it was when the proceedings of that monster were under consideration. What was he but the scourger of women, and the destroyer of men? Let the House remember the case of the unfortunate nuns of Minsk, who were brutally flogged and otherwise abused, and all with the full cognisance and express written approbation of the client of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. Upon these poor women, devoted to religion, guilty of no crime or fault against man or God, a ruffian soldiery were left to commit the last violence, and 1159 to commit murder. And the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire stood up to defend this man. But was this all that had been heard of the acts of this Emperor—of men being banished for fifteen years for crime merely imputed—of the conscription of the Polish children, torn from their mothers, and exiled to Siberia, and when some of the little creatures pined and died upon the road, more of them being taken to make up the number required by this hideous monster. He was glad that a protest on the subject before the House had been made in moderate and temperate language. Yet no man of humanity could blame him for using strong language in expressing, not morbid sentimentality, but the feelings of a large portion of the English people. He knew he spoke the sentiments of the Irish people. He would vote with the noble Lord if he pressed his Motion to a division.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
, in reply, said: I give full weight to the opinions of those hon. Members, whether agreeing in my views or not, who have recommended me to withdraw the Motion. I have heard with some surprise the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire say, that on this question, he advocates opposite interests to those espoused by me. I am endeavouring to defend the interests of the Turkish empire; and I think I recollect that, not very long ago, the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, in a most eloquent speech on the question of Servia, expressed as strong an opinion on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Ottoman empire, as could possibly be imagined. I have, throughout my observations, endeavoured to express myself with temper and moderation, and I will not be seduced by the exaggerated language in which the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire has thought proper to support his views, or be led to resort to intemperate expressions by way of retort. This is the more easy for me, as I am at present in very good humour. I am very much pleased, and have reason to be so. The opinions of the hon. Gentleman appear to find no echo in the House—and I am sure they will find none in the country, which is much more likely to coincide with the feelings of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick. I confess I have heard the observations of that hon. and learned Member with pleasure. Such generous sentiments do honour to him who delivers them, and to the assembly which receives them with approbation. The hon. Member 1160 for Buckinghamshire, however, takes another view—and he has a right to his opinions. His motives, no doubt, are excellent. Possibly, he may think, now that his contemptuous treatment of the Consolidated Fund, which he termed a dung-hill, has made his being Chancellor of the Exchequer out of the question, that, in the Protectionist Government which is about to be formed, the post of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs may suit him, and that, in that situation, it will be more easy and agreeable to him to carry on business if he be on good terms with the Czar. The hon. Member has pronounced the most unbounded eulogium on the Emperor of Russia. He has said that he is the most magnanimous, the most peaceable—the least ambitious of sovereigns, and the least likely to cause apprehension to other States; but I think, notwithstanding this, that the hon. Gentleman has betrayed, in the course of his speech, considerable doubts of the accuracy of what he has himself stated; for he has proclaimed it as matter of congratulation that the Emperor of Russia has not interfered with any other country. Why, what right has he to interfere in the affairs of other countries? What reason is there for him to do so? How can he intervene without violating the faith of treaties and the law of nations? He has, in fact, interfered in the only quarter in which he durst. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire said that he was not gifted with the power of divination, as we on this side of the House seemed to be, so as to divine the intentions of the Emperor of Russia. As we judge of a tree by its fruits, so we, seeing what Russia has done—what has been her conduct in Poland, in the Crimea, and in Turkey—how, by insidious proceedings, she has extended her frontiers and enlarged her territory, we naturally conclude that she is going to do that which she has done before. I believe that all the Turkish empire wants, is some moral support from this country. When two such countries as France and England are, as happily they now are, cordially united, I do not believe that, if they spoke out and declared their opinions forcibly, they would find any country in the world to go against them. I am gratified that the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary appears to participate in my views. I must, however, correct one error into which the noble Lord appears to have fallen. The noble Lord has stated that the Russians were invited into the principalities by the 1161 authorities. I believe that the Hospodar of Moldavia invited the Russians, but that it was entirely against the will of the mass of the population. As to Wallachia, the Russians entered it gratuitously, without any invitation whatever, and after all pretext had been taken away by the Turks. The noble Lord professes to feel great confidence that the Russian troops will withdraw, and says that it is only a question of time; but during this time the unfortunate inhabitants of the principality are forced to pay for the maintenance of these sixty thousand Russian troops. The noble Lord has been deceived before in this very instance by the Russians, who told him last year that they were going to evacuate Moldavia. The noble Lord says that, except as regards the subject of the present Motion, the conduct of Russia had been marked by dignity and forbearance. The exception is a large one. It reminds me of what recently occurred to a friend of mine, who is known to many hon. Members—I mean the celebrated writer, Mr. Charles Dickens. He was walking in the street, when he felt a man put his hand in his pocket; he seized him, and had him taken before the Marylebone police court, where he himself attended. Mr. Dickens, having visited the prisons, recognised the man as one whom he had before seen, and said, "Have you not been in prison before? ""No, never," was the answer. A policeman who was by, and happened to have conveyed him to prison, immediately nudged him, and exclaimed, "What are you talking about?" "Well," said the prisoner, "I never was—except for two months." Russia has not interfered in the affairs of any other country, except to march an army into the territory of a neighbour, and to take possession of provinces with which she has no right to interfere. In reference to the Motion before the House, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs having stated that the production of the papers might interfere with negotiations now pending, I shall acquiesce in the recommendations made to me from all quarters; and, satisfied with the expression of opinion I have elicited from the noble Lord and from the House, I will not insist on going to a division.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.