§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I now rise to propose that this House at its rising do adjourn till Friday next. I have already stated that before the prorogation of Parliament I would endeavour to make some explanation to the House of the relations at present existing between Russia and Turkey. I certainly have to thank House for its forbearance on this subject during the present Session; and, in anything that I may have to say I shall not enter into anything which might be considered to be a defence of Her Majesty's Government, because Her Majesty's Government has not been attacked in this House. On the contrary, I think every disposition has been shown to leave in the hands of Her Majesty's Executive Government the conduct of the negotiations in this important case. I have, however, a few words to say as to the production of papers which some Members of this House think ought to have been laid on the table. Upon that subject I will say that, on reverting to what has been done on previous occasions, even in cireum stances exceedingly critical, I have not found that it has been usual to lay on the table of the Houses of Parliament papers relating to the negotiations in a state similar to the negotiations which have been lately carried on, and which are now being carried on among the Powers of Europe. I find that in the year 1840, when a convention had been signed amongst various Powers of Europe, with respect to the relations of Turkey and Egypt, my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) asked my noble Friend the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmer stop) then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to produce the convention, and lay it on the table of this House. That hap pened on the 6th of August, and the pro rogation of Parliament took place on the 11th of the same month. My noble Friend declined to lay that convention on the table, as it was not then ratified; but he entered into some explanations at that time, and he stated that the whole of the papers relating to the negotiations would be laid before the two Houses of Parliament at a later period. In the year 1844, again, some discussions took place between this country and France, with respect to 1761 an occurrence at Tahiti; but Sir Robert Peel, who was then First Minister of the Crown, beyond informing the House at its last meeting, which was held in September, that an amicable adjustment of those differences had been effected, did not make any communication to the House, nor lay on the table any papers. In fact, I think that, according to all practical sense with regard to these matters, the period for laying papers before Parliament is when negotiations, whether they end amicably or otherwise, have been brought to some conclusion which would enable the Government to say that they were in a state to be communicated to Parliament. It has been alleged that on a late occasion I de-parted from this practice by laying on the table of the House papers relating to transactions which took place at Florence in the case of the Madiais. But I beg to observe that that was a negotiation which, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, had been entirely concluded. I had thought it necessary to make representations in strong language to the Tuscan Government. I received a communication in answer to those representations, and it had not been my intention to proceed with any further representations or negotiations. I had wished rather to appeal to the public opinion of this country and of Europe on that subject; and I had no intention of entering into any further negotiations with regard to it. Therefore, the House will see that the papers in that case were in a fit state to be laid before Parliament. Now, with regard to what took place in the differences which have arisen between Russia and Turkey, all I propose to do at present is to give an outline to the House of the transactions as they occurred, and to state what is the present position of the negotiations. I do not propose to refer—it would not be fair or right in me to refer—to any papers that are in the nature of secret papers, and which have not been laid before Parliament. I will only refer to those transactions which I believe must have become known to this House and to the country by the publication of different State Papers, and by the course which events have taken. When the present Government entered upon office, my attention was immediately called to the question of the Holy Places at Jerusalem, by the Russian Minister at this Court; and I was told that that question was one of a very important nature, and would probably give rise to some difficulty. I immediately turn 1762 ed my attention to that subject; and I think on the very day on which I took the seals of the Foreign Office, I wrote a private letter to Lord Cowley, Her Majesty's Ambassador in Paris, requesting, as my predecessor had done, his earnest attention to that subject. At a later period I was informed by the Russian Minister that it was the determination of the Emperor of Russia to despatch a special embassy to Constantinople, with a view to put an end to the differences and complaints that had existed upon this subject. The Emperor of Russia complained that certain privileges which had been enjoyed by those professing the Greek religion at Jerusalem had been withheld, and that certain concessions which had been made on this subject by the Sultan had been withdrawn. It was, therefore, a legitimate object on his part to seek to obtain a settlement of those questions; and the Russian Minister stated that, as concessions which had been made at one time had been withdrawn at another, it was the object of the Russian Government, in some form or another, by some act of a solemn nature, to obtain a settlement of these differences which would not be liable to perpetual disturbance hereafter. Of course I could not object to the special embassy from Russia to the Sultan on the subject; but I expressed my hope that the mission would be of a conciliatory nature, and that nothing would happen which would disturb the pacific relations existing between Russia and Turkey and the other Powers of Europe. Prince Menschikoff, who was entrusted with that mission, arrived at Constantinople, and had, I think, an audience with the Sultan on the 2nd of March. An incident then occurred which created a good deal of alarm. Fuad Effendi, the then Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, was pointedly slighted by the Russian Ambassador, and he immediately gave in his resignation. Other circumstances tended. to excite alarm; and Colonel Rose, then Chargé d'Affaires on the part of Her Majesty at Constantinople, at the request of the Grand Vizier, wrote to say that it might be desirable that the Admiral, who was then contemplating a cruize, should hasten his departure from Malta, and approach nearer to the entrance to the Dardanelles. However, about a week afterwards these apprehensions were a good deal allayed—some of the reports which had been prevalent were found to be erroneous; and Colonel Rose wrote a second time to say that the Grand Vizier 1763 no longer persisted in his wish, and, there-fore, he would withdraw the request he had made for the presence of Admiral Dundas's fleet. At a later period—in the beginning of the following month, namely, April—Lord Stratford, who was then at Constantinople, was informed by the Turkish Minister that certain propositions had been made to the Turkish Government to which they were unwilling to accede. I should say that up this time the Government of Her Majesty at home, and Her Majesty's Minister at St. Petersburg, had always understood that the demands to be made by Russia had reference to the Holy Places, and were all comprised, in one form or another, in a desire to render certain and permanent the advantages to which Russia thought herself entitled in favour of the professors of the Greek religion. Lord Stratford understood from the Turkish Minister that it had been much desired by the Russian Ambassador that the request which was made on the part of Russia should be withheld from the knowledge of the representatives of the other Powers of Europe. I believe that these demands were as new to the Government of France as they were to the Government of England, and that they were as new to the Government of Austria as they were to the Government of France. After a considerable time these propositions were changed in their aspect; and the House has heard, and hon. Members will, doubtless, recollect reading in the papers, that there was first a convention proposed in one form, and afterwards a convention proposed in another form, and that, finally, Prince Menschikoff presented a note to the Turkish Government, which note was to be signed by the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, and which he stated was the least concession which he could make, and that, unless that note was signed by the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Prince Menschikoff and his mission would be obliged to leave Constantinople, adding, that Russia would not be responsible for the very grave evils which might ensue. Language at least to this effect was contained in the note of the Russian Ambassador. However, the Turkish Government did not consider that the signature of such a note would be compatible with the independence and the dignity of the Sultan, and they declined to affix the signature of their Minister for Foreign affairs to the note proposed to them. At the same time the Turkish 1764 Minister, instead of a direct and simple negative, wrote a note on his part, which he said that he was quite ready to transmit to the Russian Ambassador, if it would be taken as satisfactory, and thus to close all disputes between the two Governments. I should mention here that the question with regard to the Holy Places, and all the particulars and various details which related to the Greek and Latin Churches, had been previously arranged in a manner that was satisfactory to Prince Menschikoff and the Russian Government. Prince Menschikoff, however, instead of accepting this note, or considering it as a basis for future negotiation, immediately withdrew his mission from Constantinople, and retired to the Russian frontier. Sir, I regard this circumstance as one that was very greatly to be lamented. It has always appeared to me that on the one side and on the other there were statements which could be admitted, while there were others which might have been the subject of compromise and arrangement. The Russian Minister maintained that Russia had by certain treaties, especially by those of Kainardji and of Adrianople, the right to expect that the Christians in the Turkish territory would be protected, and he declared at the same time that Russia did not wish in any manner to injure the independence or the integrity of the Turkish empire. The Sultan's Ministers, on their part, maintained that it was their duty above all things to maintain the independence of the Sultan—that nothing should be acceded to which would be injurious to his dignity, or would derogate from his rights; but at the same time they declared that it was the intention of the Sultan to protect his Christian subjects, and to maintain them in the rights and privileges which they enjoyed by concessions and edicts that had been issued by himself and his predecessors. Such being the statements on the two sides, I own it appears to me that the withdrawal of the Russian mission from Constantinople, aided at the same time as it was—aided, I mean, as a means of compulsion by the preparation of a large Russian force, both military and naval, on the frontier of Turkey—was a most unfortunate step, and has been one which has given, naturally, very great alarm to Europe, while it has imposed great sacrifices both upon Turkey and the Turkish provinces adjoining Russia. Her Majesty's Government, when these appearances be-came so serious, thought it necessary to 1765 give directions that Her Majesty's fleet should leave Malta and approach the neighbourhood of the Dardanelles. The French fleet had a short time before been sent to the Bay of Salamis; but there was a perfect concert between the two Governments upon this subject. It was alleged by the French Government, and truly alleged, that while their fleet remained in the harbour of Toulon it was not so much within reach of any demand from Constantinople as the British fleet would be at Malta, and that it was desirable that the two fleets should be ready to act together if such a step should be unfortunately necessary. That allegation had been perfectly borne out by the facts, because, when the orders were ultimately given to—the two fleets to proceed to Besika Bay, it was found to be not only as easy but more easy to give directions at Malta to have the English fleet sent to Besika Bay, than it was to order the French fleet from the Bay of Salamis to Besika Bay. Therefore, the two Governments upon this occasion, and throughout the whole negotiations, have acted entirely in concert, and have endeavoured in a similar spirit, by daily and constant communication, to obtain a solution of this question, which would be compatible with the independence and the dignity of the Porte, and which at the same time might not lead to any interruption of the peace of Europe. Sir, the next step that was taken by the Russian Government was, a direction to the army of Russia to occupy the Principalities, there being at the same time a declaration put forth on the part of the Russian Government that this act was not to be considered as a hostile invasion of the Principalities, or as an act of war, but that it was intended to occupy the Principalities as an imperial guarantee for peace, and as a means of pressure upon the Turkish Government in order to obtain those moral securities for peace which the Russian Government had hitherto sought by negotiation. It was considered by the English and French Governments, as well as by the Turkish Government, even before they had any communication either with Great Britain or France, that it would be desirable, seeing what great interests were at stake, to forego the clear and undoubted right of Turkey to consider this proceeding as a casus belli, and that it would be desirable to enter into further negotiations, by which the ends sought for might be attained. No actual hostilities, therefore, 1766 further than the occupation of those provinces by the Russian forces, have hitherto taken place. Sir, it was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that, whilst they placed the fleet of Great Britain in conjunction with the fleet of France at the disposal of the Ambassadors of the two Powers in Constantinople, to be called up to Constantinople in case of emergency, it was at the same time desirable to gather up the broken threads of the negotiations, and to attempt to arrive at some arrangement by which the question might be settled, and the peace of Europe maintained. The different Powers considered of various means for this purpose; but more especially the Minister for Foreign Affairs of France—a gentleman whose talents, moderation, and judgment, it is impossible not to estimate highly—drew up a note, which we considered omitted the objectionable part of the demands of Prince Menschikoff, and those parts of the Turkish note which the Russian Government might think inadmissible, and endeavoured to frame a note to which the two parties might agree. About this time the Austrian Government had, as I have stated on a former occasion to this House, declined the proposal—previously to this time, I should say, it had declined the proposal of Her Majesty's Government to enter into any conference on these important circumstances. But when the Russian Government had occupied the Principalities, Austria changed her views of the subject; and she declared that, in conformity with the spirit of the treaty of 1841, it was absolutely necessary for the representatives of the various Powers to meet in conference, and obtain some amicable solution of differences which might otherwise imperil the peace of Europe. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria took the proposition of the French Government as the groundwork of the proposition which he made to the conference. I have already stated, on a former occasion, that it was an Austrian proposition, but it came originally from France. That proposition was submitted for consideration about the 24th July, and no doubt information was immediately conveyed to St. Petersburg of the intentions of the Austrian Government. Her Majesty's Government requested to see the note as it was proposed, with such modifications as the Austrian Government might think it necessary to introduce. That, of course, led to explanations and further communications; and it was not till the 31st—that is, a week 1767 after the first conference—that the final conference was held, in which the form of the note was completely arranged and settled to the satisfaction of the representatives of the four Powers and their respective Governments. The House has already heard—and that intelligence has been confirmed by subsequent information that the Emperor of Russia has given his adhesion to the note of the four Powers: therefore, so far as that original cause of dissension is concerned, and so far as the Emperor of Russia has a demand to make, in. that respect the Emperor of Russia no longer insists upon the exact form of Prince Menschikoff's note, which, according to some of the State papers that have been published, would appear to have been the case, but considers that his objects will be attained and that his honour will be saved, if the note as thus prepared by the four Powers be agreed to by the Turkish Government. I have stated already that it was upon the 2nd August that this note was sent to Constantinople. There has not been hitherto any communication from Constantinople with respect to the reception of that note; but this I can state, that upon the 23rd of last month the Turkish Ministers were prepared to send to Vienna, and subsequently to St. Petersburg, a communication based upon the former note in its mode of meeting the demands of Russia, and in respect to which I think that, having agreed to the former note, they would bind them selves to agree to the note which has met the assent of the four Powers. Sir, supposing, what, however, is quite unsettled—supposing that note to be finally agreed upon as the communication which shall be made by Turkey, and which will be satisfactory to Russia, there will still remain the evacuation of the Principalities. Sir, it is quite evident that no settlement can be satisfactory which does not include, or immediately lead to, the evacuation of those Principalities. According to the declarations which have been made by the general commanding the Russian forces—Prince Gortschakoff—that evacuation ought immediately to follow upon satisfaction being given to the Emperor of Russia. I will only say further, that it is an object which Her Majesty's Government consider essential; but with respect to the mode in which that object is to be attained, I must ask permission of Parliament to say no thing further upon that head, but to leave the means of attaining the end in the 1768 hands of the Executive Government. With respect to the question which has been raised regarding the fleets of England and France at Besika Bay, that, of course, cannot be made any condition, because we ought to have it in our power at all times, supposing Turkey to be in any danger, to send our fleet to the neighbourhood of the Dardanelles, in order to be ready to assist Turkey in case she should be attacked. Therefore we cannot consent to any arrangement by which it may be stipulated that the advance of the fleets to the neigh bourhood of the Dardanelles shall be considered equivalent to the actual invasion of Turkish provinces. With respect to anything further, if these questions shall have been settled, if peace is secured, Besika Bay is not a station which would be of any advantage to the Government either England or of France. I can only add that, whilst I regret not to be able to state that the whole of these transactions are terminated, yet I do think that there is now a fair prospect that, without involving Europe in hostilities, the independence and integrity of Turkey, which from the beginning of the Session I have always stated to be the main object of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in reference to the affairs of the East, will be secured, and that in no very long period. I am sure this House will feel—I know that this country feels—that, if that object can be secured by negotiation, without involving Europe in the calamities of war, it will be a result which the whole world will value, and upon which we shall have reason to congratulate ourselves. I am quite sure that my noble Friend at the head of the Government may well console himself for any attacks that may have been made upon him in contemplating such a result, and that we have cause to appreciate highly the mixture of firmness and judgment by which he has been enabled to attain the end that is before us. Sir, I will only further say that this question of the maintenance of Turkey is one that must always require the attention—the vigilant attention—of any person entrusted with the conduct of the foreign affairs of this country; and further, that I think it can only be secured by a constant union subsisting between England and France, and by a thorough concert and cordial communication between those two Powers. I have now stated, Sir, the general outline of the negotiations that have already taken place, and the present position of the question. I have not en- 1769 tered into any arguments on this subject—I do not think this is the proper occasion to do so. If hereafter, on the papers being produced, any party in this House, or any Member of this House, shall think that the conduct which has been pursued and the policy which has been adopted require censure or observation, then I shall be ready to meet those observations and to defend the course which we have pursued; but all I thought necessary on the present occasion was to make to the House such a statement as would enable it to comprehend the present state of these transactions.
§ MR. LAYARD
Sir, I hope that the House will grant me that indulgence which it usually grants to Members who address it for the first time, and will permit me to say a few words on a subject which, as the House may be aware, has long and deeply interested me. My noble Friend the Member for the City of London has commenced by stating that he is not going to defend the policy of the Government, as that policy has never been attacked—and for a very good reason—the noble Lord has never given me or any other hon. Member an opportunity of making any comments whatever, either favourable or unfavourable, upon the policy of Her Majesty's Government. My noble Friend will, therefore, I trust, admit that I have in this Motion shown no factious desire to impede the policy of the Government, or to throw any difficulties in their way, or to induce Her Majesty's Ministers to make disclosures which might prove injurious or inconvenient to the public service. I hope my noble Friend will believe, and that the House will believe, that I should not have been so presumptuous as to put myself forward in a matter of such vast importance and of so eminently delicate a nature had I not been conscientiously convinced that I had an act of duty to perform, and that I might, however humbly, throw some light upon the question at issue. Indeed, in the first instance I was of opinion that discussion in this House, and a public statement of the true facts of the case, which had been greatly misunderstood and distorted, would have much contributed towards strengthening Her Majesty's Government in pursuing a firm and wise policy. But I have in this respect also shown, I trust, a due deference to the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, and remained silent, although, by so doing, I have exposed myself to considerable misapprehension and even animadvert- 1770 sion. Some persons, and those for whose opinions I have great respect, have been led to believe that I, and those friends who share in my sentiments, have wished to urge this country on to a war. A war, Sir! Is there any man so reckless, so insensible to the inestimable blessings of peace, who would in these days urge this great country on to an unnecessary war? But, nevertheless, while professing these sentiments, I cannot but express the regret I have felt at hearing the language which has been on more than one occasion, and in more than one place, held by the noble Earl at the head of Her Majesty's Government, "that his policy is essentially based on peace."Such, in my humble opinion, should not be the language of a great statesman. The man to whom the interests of this great country are confided should have no other policy than that which is consistent with, and which best becomes those interests. If, unfortunately, the honour and interests of England can only be maintained by war, we should be ready to go to war; and I, Sir, for one, have no doubt that, when convinced of the necessity of war, every man in this country will heartily make any sacrifice to bring it to an honourable issue. But if we can maintain peace consistently with that honour and those interests, then no sacrifice too great can be made to preserve so great a blessing. Why have we heard on all sides during the recent alarm—in the lobby of this House, in private circles, amongst men of all opinions—"Had the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton been at the Foreign Office, we should not have been in these straits."Was it because the country wanted war? No, Sir; it was because the country was convinced that the best means of preserving peace was to assume at once a firm and dignified attitude; to let the world know that, however anxious England might be for peace, she was prepared for war if unfortunately she should be called upon to go to war in support of her own rights, or of those rights which she was bound by treaty to defend, or upon which depended the balance of power in Europe. No other attitude was worthy of this country; any other attitude was but an encouragement to such lawless Powers as Russia, and must ultimately and inevitably lead to war. The words spoken by the great Lord Chatham on an occasion very nearly similar to the present, were so apposite, almost indeed prophetical, that I trust the House will permit me to quote them:— 1771My Lords, I cannot agree with the noble Duke, that nothing less than an immediate attack upon the honour or interest of this nation can authorise us to interpose in defence of weaker States, and in stopping the enterprise of an ambitious neighbour. Whenever that narrow, selfish policy has prevailed in our Councils, we have constantly experienced the fatal effects of it. By suffering our natural enemies to oppress the Powers less able than we are to make a resistance, we have permitted them to increase their strength, we have lost the most favourable opportunities of opposing them with success, and found ourselves at last obliged to run every hazard in making that cause our own, in which we were not wise enough to take part while the expense and danger might have been supported by others. I fear, my Lords, it is too much the temper of this country to be insensible to the approach of danger until it comes with accumulated terror upon us.With regard to the question at issue, the real point of difference between Her Majesty's Government and myself is, whether a great principle has been involved, and whether the conduct of Russia has been part and parcel of a great scheme of policy, or whether it has been a mere casual and temporary occurrence, which could be patched up without material injury or gain to any party concerned. I confess that in my humble opinion a great principle has been concerned in this question, and that it is but a part and parcel of a great and matured line of policy. Without troubling the House at this late period with a recital of all the circumstances connected with Prince Menschikoff's mission—a recital such as the noble Lord has made, and which I should almost blush to make, and which would afford examples of duplicity, falsehood, injustice, and insolence unequalled in diplomacy—I think I shall be able to show upon what grounds that opinion is founded. The whole question resolves itself simply into a question of independent nationalities. I have heard much of the concessions made by the Porte to France, and of the intrigues of M. de Lavalette. They might have formed a very good excuse for the conduct of Russia, and the mission of Prince Mensehikoff; but I will venture to say that they had very little really to do with the matter. I know from undoubted authority—and I have no doubt that Her Majesty's Government is also aware of the fact—that M. Titoff, the Russian Minister, had had in his possession for days, if not for weeks, the draft of the fir-man afterwards granted to the French Government, and upon which the demands for redress of the Russian Government were founded, and that no objection whatever was made to that document. Moreover, 1772 we have seen that the French Government at once disavowed M. de Lavalette, and renounced any extraordinary privileges inconsistent with the pretensions of Russia which that firman might have enforced upon her, wisely deeming it more becoming the true dignity of a great nation like France to make concession than to endanger the peace of Europe by insisting upon empty religious privileges, but little in accordance with the spirit of the age, but to which, it might not be difficult to prove, she had to a considerable extent an actual treaty right. But let us look to the conduct of Russia. Two or three acts of Prince Menschikoff will give the key to his whole policy, and they are those acts which, as usual, have been the least noticed and commented on. On his arrival at Constantinople, and immediately after his public entry, celebrated by every demonstration calculated to insult the Porte, and to en-courage rebellion amongst its Christian subjects, Prince Menschikoff demanded the dismissal of M. Garaschinin, the popular First Minister of the Prince of Servia—a demand which was unfortunately conceded without any notice being taken of it in this country, but which called forth a firm and dignified remonstrance from the Servian Senate—a document so honourable to those who framed it, that I regret time will not permit me to read it to the House, This first step would have given the keynote to the whole of Prince Menschikoff's mission to any one acquainted with the usual course of Russian policy in the East. M. Garaschinin was the popular and national Minister. He was one of those men whom the events of 1843 had brought forth—events of which I may presume to speak with some confidence, as I was not altogether unconnected with them. The House might remember that at that period Prince Michael, the son of Milosh, was expelled by a popular movement from Servia, and the present Prince, Kara-George, elected in his stead. This was a purely national movement, made against foreign influence, especially against that of Russia, in whose hands Michael had become a mere tool. The Russian Government claimed a right of interference, which in my humble opinion was completely unauthorised by treaties, but in which unfortunately she was supported by the English Government. She compelled the Porte, under threats of invasion, to cancel the national act, and to expel all those who had been engaged in it from Servia. The noble Earl now at the 1773 head of Her Majesty's Government, but then Foreign Secretary, justified his policy by a declaration which has always appeared to me subversive of all public law, and as calculated to render the will of the strongest the law of Europe. He declared, "that Russia had the right to put her own construction on her own construction on her own treaties. "Shortly after, on the 15th of August, 1843, just ten years ago, my noble Friend the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), with his usual ability, made a well-known speech on the policy of the noble Earl, in which he gave a masterly and lucid sketch of our true policy in the East. I refer to that speech more particularly because it enables me to contradict the assertion of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), that papers are never given whilst negotiations are pending. Why, the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton then moved for papers during negotiations, on the ground that part of the papers had already been given. He hoped his noble Friend would rise and utter similar sentiments to-day, for the facts of the two cases were strictly analogous. By her success in that transaction, Russia showed that she was mistress in Servia, and could check any rising independent nationality in that quarter. Since that time she has completely carried out her policy in the Danubian Principalities. Taking advantage of the national movement in 1848, she has compelled the Porte to expel from those provinces every man of liberal and independent opinions. They were now scattered as exiles over the face of Europe, and their return to their native land was in consequence of recent events rendered more hopeless than ever. By the convention of Balta Liman, forced upon the Porte, Russia has established her right to interfere in all the internal affairs of the Principalities; and her present occupation has proved that Wallachia and Moldavia are now, to all intents and purposes, Russian provinces. Independent nationality is very nearly crushed in them. There remain in Turkey the Greeks, and those professing the Greek religion, for there is a broad though not sufficiently understood distinction between them. A spirit of inquiry and independence has sprung up amongst the Greeks, which, with their increased commercial intercourse with the free States of Europe, has for some time past greatly alarmed the Russian Government. There is another cause for this alarm, and one perhaps little imagined in this country—the spread of the Protestant 1774 faith amongst the Christians of the East. It may be unknown to this House that, mainly through the influence and teaching of the American missionaries, scarcely a town of any importance exists in Turkey in which the nucleus of a Protestant community has not been formed. The new converts were at first, as was usual, subject to cruel persecution by the heads of the respective Churches which they had left—not, be it remembered, by the Turkish authorities. At length Lord Stratford and Lord Cowley obtained firmans of protection for the new sect, which was recognised by the Porte as one of the religious sects of the Empire, and received privileges accordingly. The spirit of religious inquiry has extended from the Armenians, amongst whom it first principally took root, to the Greeks, and in some instances whole villages have embraced the Reformed faith. The Greek clergy, backed by the Russian mission, have done all in their power to check this movement, and when persecution was no longer available, Prince Menschikoff appeared at Constantinople. I will not trouble the House with all the communications which have passed between the Russian Ambassador and the Turkish Ministers; but the note sent by him on the day of his departure, and which is far more important than it might at first sight appear, proves beyond a doubt or cavil the whole gist of the Emperor's policy and Menschikoff's mission. It will be observed that the distinction is drawn in this document between the purely spiritual rights of the orthodox Eastern Church, and the other rights, privileges, and immunities of the clergy. By the new system of administration introduced into Turkey, the power of the Greek clergy has been gradually curtailed, and the firmans lately issued for the protection of those who might embrace the Reformed faith have taken from them the power of persecution for religion's sake. The Russian Govern meat has viewed with the greatest alarm and jealousy this interference with the temporal power of the clergy, who are nothing but the tools of Russia; hence the distinction drawn by Prince Menschikoff, and the resolution not to accept anything but the entire concession of both spiritual and temporal privileges, rights, and immunities. Whatever may be said to the contrary, Russia has succeeded. Her great object has been to crush the spirit of political and religious independence which has manifested itself of late years among the 1775 Christian subjects of the Porte, and she will spare no effort to effect that end. And this fact leads me to say a few words upon a project with which certain parties in this country and elsewhere have endeavoured of late to familiarise the British public—the immediate establishment of a so-called independent Greek Empire at Constantinople. Now, I believe that this scheme, were there no political objections to it, is based upon a fallacy. I will remind the House that, in the first place, the true Greek population of Turkey in Europe is very small indeed when compared with the other Christian subjects of the Porte. It certainly does not amount to 2,000,000, if indeed it exceeds 1,750,000. The Greek population are confined chiefly to the province of Thessaly. Elsewhere they are merely scattered through the country in detached communities, living amidst the Sclavonians and Bulgarians, who form the real Christian population of Turkey in Europe. The language of these races is not Greek—they differ from the Greeks in blood—they look upon them with great jealousy, and for years they have been struggling to throw off all connexion with them by refusing to accept Greek priests for their clergy and bishops. The Servians, to whom I look as the nucleus of the great southern division of the Slavic race, have completely thrown off all dependence upon the Greek patriarch of Constantinople, and have elected a patriarch of their own. If we were to establish a Greek Empire, as it is called, that which occurred in the fifteenth century would inevitably occur again. The Byzantine Empire fell because it was made up of a variety of hostile and opposite races—Bulgarians, Bosnians, and Servians—in fact, the very races which still people Turkey in Europe—who became an easy prey to the Turkish hordes. The inevitable result of placing a Greek Government at Constantinople would be to throw the whole of Turkey into the hands of Russia, and to render impossible a future independence for any Christian race that might be destined to hold the Turkish provinces of Europe hereafter. Moreover, there is nothing very encouraging in the state of the modern kingdom of Greece; that experiment, at least, should warn us for the present. In my opinion, a Greek Government at Constantinople would at this time be more adverse to the spread of civilisation and of liberty than a Turkish Government. The Greek religion is essentially a persecuting 1776 religion. I need scarcely remind the House of the persecution of the Roman Catholics in Russian Poland, and of the Protestant missionaries and communities in Georgia—nor that the first article of the Greek so-called free constitution declares that proselytism is forbidden. The name of Don Pacifico is certainly not forgotten by this House, nor the annual persecution of the Jews by the Greeks. I am aware that there are some who go so far as to say that it would signify little whether Constantinople were in the hands of Russia or not. As there is no British statesman who would venture to coincide in such an opinion, it is scarcely necessary to meet it with any serious arguments; but I will only ask this question—Are we prepared to deal with all these great provinces which go to make up what is called the Turkish Empire? Remember that the moment the slender tie which binds them together—Constantinople—is broken, they must become the seat of anarchy and confusion. It is very well to talk of driving the Turks into Asia; but how are we to induce the native Mussulman population to consent to such an arrangement? It should be remembered that the Turks are merely a dominant tribe, and that the far greater part of the population of Asia are not Turks—it is made up of Syrians, Arabs, Jews, Armenians, Kurds, and a variety of other races, only held together by the moral and political prestige of the Turkish Government: destroy that prestige by subjecting the Sultan to the humiliation of being expelled from Europe, and you let loose those wild tribes, and the countries they inhabit would be the seats of anarchy and confusion. Are we prepared to take possession of Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt, or can we allow them to pass into the hands of Russia and France? For we must do one or the other, as there is no dominant family in any of those countries except Egypt. We should not forget that although Egypt is a high road to India, Syria and the vallies of the Tigris and Euphrates form the high road, and any Power holding those countries would command India. Nor must it be forgotten, that the Power which holds Constantinople will ever be looked upon in the East as the dominant Power of the world, and with Russia at Constantinople our tenure of India would never be other than a purely military tenure. All those reforms which some of my hon. Friends who have been sitting on the benches near me have been advocating for 1777 the populations of those vast possessions—reforms in the value and importance of which I most heartily agree—will be utterly impossible. But I will not dwell upon this subject. Russia is well aware that no European statesman would permit her to take possession of Constantinople at this time. I will not say that she does not look forward to the possession of that great prize sooner or later; but her object now is to render all independent nationalities in Turkey impossible, to weaken the Turkish power gradually but surely, and to show all those who would oppose her designs that any such opposition is not only useless, but will entail upon them her vengeance; in fact, to render any other Government but her own ultimately impossible in Turkey. In this design she has entirely succeeded on this occasion, and it is on this account that I contend that a great principle is involved in the recent question, and that we ought to have dealt with it accordingly. We have committed, in my humble opinion, two grave diplomatic errors. In the first place, when Colonel Rose learnt that Prince Menschikoff was prepared with a secret treaty—a fact known to many persons at Constantinople, and that he had informed the Porte of his intention to force it upon her, forbidding it, under pain of the Emperor's high displeasure, to communicate it to the Ministers of either England or France, and when we learnt, not from mere report, but from positive and reliable information, that the Russian Government was engaged in pre paring vast armaments on the frontiers of Turkey and at Odessa—we ought not to have been satisfied with such assurances as the noble Lord had stated were given to us in London and St. Petersburg; but we should at once have insisted on an immediate disarmament, or such satisfactory proofs of the pacific intentions of Russia as would have removed all doubts whatever upon the subject. Our neglecting to do so was a grave error. That error having been committed, the results were inevitable; but we had another opportunity, and committed a second error. The very moment we were informed by Russia that she intended to cross the Pruth, we ought to have said to her, "As soon as you enter the Turkish territory, we shall consider it a casus belli, and bring up our fleet to Constantinople." I do not mean to say that we should have gone to war; but this would have been the effect of our declaration: All the treaties of Russia with the Porte, 1778 upon which she founded her pretensions to protect and interfere with the Christian subjects of the Sultan, would have been, ipso facto, by the law of nations abrogated, and we should then have insisted that Turkey should enter into no new treaties with Russia, to which France and England were not privy, and of which they did not approve. Had we held such language with firmness, I, for one, believe that Russia would never have dared to cross the Pruth, and we should in the very beginning have brought this question to an issue. I have little doubt that the Russians will now evacuated the Principalities. It would not be worth the while of Russia to engage in a war with the great Powers of Europe on account of those provinces, which are, to all intents and purposes, her own. She has accustomed Europe to their occupation without a case of war, and she has shown that she may do with them as she pleases, and that any one of their inhabitants who may dare to oppose her, will be subjected to her heavy displeasure. We scarcely knew the importance of even her present power over the Principalities. I will put aside the consideration of our trade—no insignificant consideration, however—but I will observe that Russia, influencing those Principalities as she does, although not actually possessing them, has a complete command over the Danube, and can bring her intrigues to bear upon the whole Sclavonian population of Turkey. It should be borne in mind, also, that the Principalities united to Bessarabia—a province inhabited by a similarrace—on one side, and Hungary on the other, would cut in two the great Slavic race. It would seem that Providence had thus placed this alien tribe in the midst of the Sclavonian races, that Russia might not, by uniting them under one sway, acquire a power fatal to civilisation and freedom. We have lost a golden opportunity of making these provinces the barriers against Russian ambition. To Wallachia and Moldavia, independent and united with Bessarabia—a province which, by one of those fatal errors we have so repeatedly committed, we have allowed to fall into the hands of Russia—we must ultimately look, I believe, for the only means of preserving Constantinople from Russia. We have, we are told, to congratulate ourselves upon having achieved a victory—a peaceful diplomatic victory—if we induce the Russians to leave the Principalities. I much doubt the victory. Russia has gained, without firing a shot, what would have been to her well worth purchas- 1779 ing by a bloody and expensive campaign. She has established her power in the East, she has humiliated Turkey, she has compelled her to submit to an invasion without resistance, she has exhausted her resources, and, what is more, she has humiliated this country and France in the eyes of her own subjects, and of the populations of the East. What have we done for Turkey, who opposed the demands of Russia with our sanction and support—demands which we had previously admitted to be outrageous and unjust? We have subjected her to humiliation, and to all the expenses of war; and we are now urging her to accept the very demands which we advised her, in the first instance, to reject. And how have those demands been now urged upon her, and what does their acceptance involve? Why, we have just learnt from the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) that the draught of the proposals to be agreed to by the representatives of the four Powers at Vienna was first communicated to St. Petersburg, and was, of course, eagerly accepted—the acceptance being sent back without delay, and before the proposal could have even reached the Porte. Now, what are the consequences—what if the Porte declines to adhere to this proposal, Russia will call upon us to support her in compelling the Turkish Government, who has the real voice in the matter, and can alone judge how far the proposal affects her rights and independence, to accept that which we have sanctioned and recommended. In fact, Russia has turned the tables completely upon us, and has made us her allies against Turkey, instead of our being supporters of Turkey in resisting an unjust and unrighteous demand. If Turkey accepts the proposal under this terrible pressure—for it is a terrible pressure—Russia now being united with the four great Powers of Europe against the Porte: if she accepts the proposed note, I say we shall have directly sanctioned the pretensions of Russia to protect and interfere on behalf of 12,000,000 of the Christian subjects of the Porte—a privilege which she might always have claimed, and, to a certain extent, exercised, but in which we have never acquiesced. Why, sir, this is monstrous. Let this case be reversed. If Turkey had been in the place of Russia, what should we have done? Why, we should have compelled her to evacuate the Principalities at once, to have paid the whole expenses caused to Russia by an unrighteous and unwarrantable act; and, in addition, to have 1780 made a complete and ample apology. No-thing less than this will now satisfy the ends of justice. If we do not deal with this outrageous case after this fashion, we show to the world that we have one measure for the weak and another for the strong, and we forfeit our character and prestige in the East, rendering the position of our Ambassador at Constantinople utterly untenable. When once this great country has lent itself to a palpable act of injustice, as she has unfortunately done in this instance, she must descend in the scale of nations. Look at the question as we may, we have taken the place of a second-rate Power, and conceded that of a first-rate Power to Russia alone. It is said that the question is settled; but I contend that it is only a question deferred. Allied with France, supported by the public opinion of the whole of Europe, engaged in a just and righteous cause, we have lost an opportunity which may, perhaps, never occur again, of settling on a proper basis this great Eastern question, and those vast conflicting interests that yearly threaten the peace of the East, and of assigning to Russia that place to which, as a great Power, she is entitled, and which I should be the last person to refuse her; but beyond which the safety of Europe and the interests of civilisation and freedom forbid that she should go. Better would it have been to have induced Turkey at once to have accepted Prince Menschikoff's proposal, than to have abetted her in a resistance which has only ended in her humiliation and disgrace; and which has inflicted a blow upon her which must accelerate her ruin, and render utterly hopeless any attempt to preserve her as an independent Power. Russia has been enabled to strike a blow at Turkey which Turkey will never recover. But it is not only in Turkey and in the East in general that the effects of this fatal policy will be felt. Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and every weak State in Europe, which depends for support—aye, for its very existence—upon the high character of England, and our known respect for treaties, will look upon further opposition to the encroachments of Russia as hopeless. I have witnessed all these circumstances with extreme pain and regret. The day will probably come when we shall see the fatal error we have committed, and repent a policy against which, as a humble Member of this House, I can only record my solemn protest.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I cannot, Sir, help thinking, that we have reason 1781 to complain of the shortness of the notice which the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) has given of his intention to bring this subject before the House. We might fairly have expected that on Friday last, or at latest on Saturday, the noble Lord would have made known his intention to make the statement we have this day heard. I am quite sure that after the repeated postponement of this subject, that postponement having been repeated at the request of the noble Lord, the noble Lord must feel that my right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) would have desired to hear any statement which the noble Lord might have to make, and to take part in any discussion that might arise. My right hon. Friend left London only yesterday morning; and he will read, I believe, with as much surprise as I learnt yesterday that it was the intention of the noble Lord to make the statement to the House which we have just heard. After having listened to that statement, and to the tone in which it was made by the noble Lord, I feel that it would be inexpedient now either to express any opinion on the policy which Her Majesty's Government have adopted on this question, or to follow the noble Lord through the various topics to which he has adverted, or to touch upon those details into which the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down entered in the course of his speech. But I cannot refrain from expressing my very deep regret that, before Parliament separates, it should not have been in the power of the noble Lord to make a statement more satisfactory to Parliament and to the country, than, I am sorry to say, we must regard the statement he has just made. In one respect, however, I heard what fell from the noble Lord with great pleasure. I was very glad to hear the noble Lord confirm what was stated in another place by a noble Colleague of his; namely, that Her Majesty's Government were determined to regard the evacuation of the Principalities as a sine quâ non. But I certainly heard, on the other hand, with great regret, the noble Lord's solution of that question on which I believe there has been an unusual amount of public anxiety lately; namely, whether the note agreed on by the Four Powers contained a provision for the evacuation of the Principalities. I should be very sorry at all to misunderstand what fell from the noble Lord on this important subject; but my impression, as I followed 1782 him in what he said, was, that he distinctly stated that the note agreed on by all the Four Powers, does not involve the evacuation of the Principalities, and that that important point remains as unsettled and as uncertain as heretofore. This is what I understood to fall from the noble Lord, and, if it be so, I am afraid the country cannot consider this question as being otherwise than in a very uncertain and unsettled state. We have, however, had the satisfaction of hearing from the noble Lord that Her Majesty's Government consider that evacuation indispensable before we can arrive at a satisfactory state of things. I have no hesitation in saying, that in this determination on the part of Her Majesty's Government they will be supported, not only by the opinion of this House, but I believe by the almost unanimous opinion of the people of this country. I believe that the people of this country are as united as they have ever been on any public question, on the necessity of making that evacuation an indispensable condition, and of preserving unimpaired the integrity of the Turkish Empire. The noble Lord said a good deal—and very justly and properly said a good deal—of the great importance of preserving to this country those blessings of peace which we have so long enjoyed. The noble Lord's Colleague, the noble Lord at the head of the Administration, said more, if possible, than the noble Lord opposite on that subject; and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down may be thought to have said too much on the question. But so far we will agree with the noble Lord at the head of the Government and the noble Lord opposite. I have no doubt that all parties in this House and in the country desire that the blessings of peace should be preserved. On the other hand, with equal confidence I may say that all parties, as I trust, in this House, that all parties, as I believe, in the country, wish peace to be preserved as long only as it can be so with a due regard to the honour of this country and to the balance of power which has been hitherto maintained. I do not feel that I should be justified in going further into the subject in the absence of the papers, which the noble Lord, I regret to learn, still thinks it inconsistent with his duty to lay before the House. I have no right to question the judgment of the noble Lord on this point. The noble Lord and Her Majesty's Government are, I am willing to believe, the best judges whether the papers ought to be produced. Until they 1783 think fit to produce those papers, they are entitled to the forbearance of Parliament; and we ought not to press for the premature production of the papers. But, until those are produced, it will be impossible for this House or the country to form a conclusive judgment on the policy which Her Majesty's Government have pursued. Till the House shall be in possession of further information than we now possess, it will be impossible for Parliament or the public to judge how far Her Majesty's Government were justified in concurring in the advice given, I understand, by the Four Powers to Turkey, not to consider the invasion of the Principalities a casus belli. Neither can the House nor the public form a conclusive judgment on a question on which great anxiety is felt; namely, whether the blessings of peace might not have been better secured and more surely maintained if the Government had thought fit to follow a more vigorous and decided policy at an earlier period of these negotiations. The House will bear in mind that this question has been pending for many months. For six months it has been unsettled. Not only have the interests of Turkey suffered, but the interests and commerce of this country have suffered from the long suspense; and it will be for the Government to show hereafter that they are not responsible for the suspense and for the injury that have accrued. Having made these remarks, I shall conclude by repeating that I deeply regret that the announcement of the noble Lord has not been more satisfactory than I am able to consider it, and that I, for one, must reserve my judgment on the policy which the noble Lord and the Government have pursued on this highly important question. I beg to add, that I say so without the slightest desire to make those important questions or those momentous interests party questions; but till the papers are produced, I must reserve my judgment with respect to the policy that has been adopted.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
wished to address some observations to the House on a subject to which he had turned much attention for a great many years. He was free to admit that, although on many subjects he did not agree with the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) and hon. Gentlemen opposite, yet on the present occasion he coincided with almost everything the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich had said. With the right hon. Baronet, he thought the House had 1784 cause to complain of the Government for not having allowed some discussion of this most important subject to be taken at an earlier period. There was, he thought, the more ground for complaint, because the course taken by the noble Lord who led that House, had, he ventured to assert, been different from that which it had been the practice of British Ministers to take on similar occasions. On questions of great importance in foreign policy arising, he believed there had, in the history of this country, always been discussions, and often most animated discussions, even while negotiations were going on. One instance had been mentioned by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) in his able speech, when the Member who provoked discussion was no other than one who was now a Cabinet Minister, and the Government from whom explanations were demanded was one in which the policy on foreign affairs was led by him who was now Prime Minister, and under whom his noble Friend was serving. In regard to the affairs of Syria there were discussions in that House. When the question of the Spanish Marriages was depending, the same thing happened. But to go back to earlier times of Parliamentary history, he might state that in 1823, when the Holy Alliance chose to interfere in the affairs of Spain, and during the negotiations then carrying on in order to prevent Europe from being involved in a general war, some of the noblest and most animated debates on that subject took place in that House. On that occasion hon. Members were not slow to declare their sentiments. No Minister of the Crown ventured to tell a British House of Commons that, because negotiations were going on, it would not be proper for a Member to declare his sentiments. So far from that being the case, an hon. Member said that he thought every Member ought to declare his sentiments—ought to be obliged, on being called in alphabetical order, to state whether he thought the interference in Spain was right or wrong. How was that appeal, made by Sir Josepth Yorke, met? It was met by one who had a name that would always be great in Parliamentary history. It was answered by Henry Brougham, who thanked him, and thought the appeal ought to be joined in by every one who enjoyed the name of Briton. The noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs declared that he had no objection to have this matter discussed. If debate had been delayed, it was not so in consequence 1785 of any representations or influence of the Government, but in consequence of the advice of other parties, meaning by those other parties Lord Brougham, who had been shown to have taken a part on another occasion so totally different and so much more noble. If the subject was not an improper one to be discussed in the other House, as the Minister stated who had charge of the department to which that subject fell, why should it be improper that the subject should be discussed in the House of Commons? Members of Parliament were not sent there to bandy compliments, or indulge in eulogistic expressions. Although the explanation of the noble Lord had not been very full—for it told the House nothing but what it knew before—still from its very omissions he was afraid that they must come to the conclusion that the noble Lord had been doing something of which he was or ought to be ashamed. What had every successive Government been doing for years past, but giving assurances to Turkey that one of their greatest desires, one of the objects which they held to be of the utmost importance, was the preservation of the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire? But when it came to the point, how was this to be done? How did they propose to preserve the independence and integrity of Turkey? Instead of acting up to its word, the British Government was entering into negotiations with Russia, the effect of which they were not exactly told, but, so far as they could gather, it was evident that Russia, notwithstanding her violent conduct, notwithstanding that she had assailed Turkey, and, in point of fact, committed an act of war—notwithstanding her insolent demeanour, and her bad faith towards Turkey, towards us, and towards the rest of Europe, was, after all, virtually to get all she wanted. Turkey, after having been advised to resist, and encouraged, moreover, to resist by a show of having some assistance afforded to her, was afterwards urged and advised by British Ministers, who had pretended to be anxious for her independence and integrity, to give way to Russia, and to submit quietly to that which was not only a flagrant insult, but an act of open hostility. Instead of assisting to resist this aggression, the British Ministers contented themselves with advising Turkey to write submissive notes to Russia, and to deprecate the wrath of the Czar. Henceforth it would be asserted throughout Europe that Turkey had been obliged to concede to Russia that 1786 to which she had no right, and that France and England had advised that concession. He said England more particularly, because, though the Government declined to give any information, it was very well known that the Government of France was very much disposed to take more energetic and more becoming steps, and that it was the Government of England—the Government of Lord Aberdeen—which had persuaded France to recede from that which she at first had thought to be right, and to modify her intentions in order to adopt the more pusillanimous line of conduct recommended by Her Majesty's Government. Though that conduct might avert hostilities for the present, be believed that it could not lead to a permanent settlement of the question. Most probably it would only lay foundations for a future war—and a long and bloody war it would be—the responsibility and fault of which posterity would have a right to fix upon the present Government, whose false steps on this occasion had been attended with such disastrous consequences. He would yield to no one in his appreciation of the benefits of peace; this country must always desire peace; it was a rich country, and desired to grow richer, which it could do only by peace; but there were occasions in which nations were called on to make a sacrifice, and to prefer the duties of good faith and maintenance of treaties to that which might appear to be their own material and present interest. They had been told by the noble Lord at the head of the Government that peace had been preserved for thirty years with great advantage to the prosperity and liberty of Europe; but be denied that the liberty of Europe had been benefited by the peace. Where he would ask, was Poland? where Italy? where Hungary?—nay, where Germany? Where were the constitutions which had once existed? If, therefore, peace was so desirable for this country, on the other hand there was no Government in Europe which had so little to dread from war. From the one end of Europe to the other, there was but one monarch—our own—who was firmly seated on Her Throne, because there was none other who ruled in the hearts of their subjects. No other monarch could be sure that the effect of war would not be to destroy his government altogether, uproot his dynasty, and substitute in his stead institutions of a more liberal and better nature. Therefore, every Government but our own had cause to dread war. He had not the slightest doubt that the indepen- 1787 deuce and integrity of Turkey might have been maintained without war if the Government of this country had better played the part which befitted them; if they had exercised common foresight, if they had been endowed with common spirit, they would at once have arrested the audacious designs of the autocrat. If they had acted with spirit, the Czar would never have sent Prince Menschikoff to Constantinople, or, if he had, it would have been with instructions to negotiate for the peaceable attainment of what he desired. If the fleets had been ordered up at the proper time from Besika Bay, Prince Menschikoff would never have exhibited the violence and insolence which marked his conduct; and if the Czar had been informed that the crossing of the Pruth by his troops would be the signal for the fleets to sail into the Black Sea, the Pruth would never have been crossed by the Russian army. There were two ways of maintaining peace; peace might be maintained honourably, and at the same time all might be obtained that could be demanded for ourselves, or those for whom we interested ourselves; or it might be maintained by complacently submitting to all the insults that were offered us, by breaking the engagements which we had entered into with our Allies, by suffering their interests to be thrown overboard, and by placing ourselves in a degraded position where no Power would ever again respect us. A Minister who preserved a peace after this last fashion could never be mentioned but with dishonour; but a Minister who preserved peace without breaking the faith and engagements of the country would ever make himself and his country respected by the whole world. If we had had a Minister who was not a Minister of Austria and of Russia, but the Minister of England, none of those deplorable occurrences which now threatened to disturb and endanger the tranquillity of Europe would have happened. It was of no use saying that the peace had not been endangered, or that it was not not now far from being secured. Some of the worst evils of war had already been endured. What was the situation of the unfortunate inhabitants of the Danubian Provinces? Did hon. Gentlemen know that the Russians had occupied these provinces some few years ago on some flimsy pretence, and kept their armies there for three years? In point of fact, they had not long been gone; it was not three years since, scarcely two, so that apparently these unfortunate people were subject to have their 1788 territories occupied almost every other year by a Russian army with all the attendant peculation, extortion, and tyranny, which it entailed. What the conduct of Russian troops in a foreign State was, every one knew. The last time Russia occupied these provinces, she did so avowedly at the expense of the inhabitants, and I before she withdrew she actually made a demand upon Turkey to pay her an indemnity for that occupation. The inhabitants of these provinces had a right to claim the protection of all Europe against the terrible oppression to which they were now subjected. They were not a barbarous race, who did not deserve the sympathy of Europe; they were a fine, intelligent race, full of aspirations for liberty, and it was in consequence of their attempts to obtain a better form of government—a form too, which had been approved by Turkey—that they were invaded by hordes of Cossacks and other Russian troops. Certainly Russia might have had this additional reason for her occupation of those provinces—that she would thus gain additional facility for the interference which she was even then contemplating in reference to Hungary. He had taken the liberty at the time of the Hungarian struggle for liberty in 1849 of calling the attention of the House to the circumstance, and he had predicted that, if the British Government did not interfere, it would occur again. Such was now the case. He looked with sorrow and dismay at the present state of things, because he saw that this country was humiliated and degraded in the eyes of the world, and justly so too, since we had given assurances, publicly and solemnly, which we had not—he would not say the power, because that would be an excuse, but—the courage and spirit to maintain. He feared the power of Russia would be increased by what had taken place, and for the future we should have no right to expect that any conciliatory advice which we might give to Turkey would be attended to. He believed the Turks were disposed to advance in the path of improvement—indeed they had advanced immensely in the course of the last thirty years—more, perhaps, than any other nation in Europe. Their commerce had increased, and was of the greatest importance to the people of this country. Our commerce with Turkey was much greater than with Russia, for while the one, which twenty years ago only amounted to 500,000l. had increased six-fold since then, the other had only increased twofold since that period. There 1789 could not be a doubt that if the countries now ruled by Turkey were to pass over to the rule of Russia, the same illiberal tariff which now existed in Russia would be introduced into those countries, instead of the liberal one of Turkey, and our commerce would materially suffer. With regard to religious matters, he might go so far even as to say that there was no Government which was so tolerant as that of Turkey, although there were some hon. Members who were unfavourable to Turkey because it was not a Christian Power. There was no country in which all religions were treated so much on an equality, and in this particular it presented a most favourable contrast to Russia. His hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) had mentioned that the Protestant religion was fast spreading in Turkey. It was protected by the Turkish Government; but how long would it be if the rule of Russia were established? They all knew that to every other species of tyranny the Emperor of Russia added that which was the worst of all tyrannies—religious tyranny. None but persons professing the dominant religion of Russia were secure from persecution. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas), whom he saw opposite, would know perfectly well how members of his religion were treated—he would know perfectly well that whole provinces had been converted from the Roman Catholic to the Greek Church at the point of the bayonet, and where Protestants had fallen under the rule of Russia they had suffered in like manner. Those who wished to assure themselves of this needed only to refer to the conduet of the Russian Government in the province of Esthonia, the inhabitants of which being chiefly Protestants, had been objected to the grossest perseeutions, Therefore, whether in regard to religion or commerce, the rule of the Sultan, though not perfect, was more liberal than that of Russia, and the friends of humanity and Christianity must greatly prefer to see it maintained, rather than the rule of the Czar established in its stead. He joined cordially with the noble Lord the leader of the House in those wishes which the noble Lord professed so eloquently, but which he carried out so feebly—that the encroachments of Russia upon Turkey should be arrested. If he had expressed any sentiments which were unjust to the Government, they must excuse him, because he was forced, by their refusal to lay fuller information before Parliament, to speak to some degree in igno- 1790 rance. The noble Lord could not hope to suppress discussion on the subject for ever; it must come on next Session, and when full information was given, though the Government might be found to be open to censure, he hoped it would not remain to the country to blush for the part which it had been made to take in this important crisis.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he thought the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone had dealt rather hardly with the Government, and had made a very rapid deduction, that they must have done something of which they were ashamed, because they had not laid the papers relative to this question on the table of the House. He was afraid that on this subject there existed a great deal of prejudice both on the one side and on the other. They knew it was the habit of this country to allow the Foreign Minister to do what he liked, and to get into as many scrapes as he pleased, always trusting to the ability by which he would be able to get out of it. At the same time, this was one of those peculiar questions on which the display of a little more confidence in the House of Commons would have strengthened the hands of Government. As far as that Government had permitted the knowledge of their proceedings to transpire, he believed that they had acted with very great prudence and judgment; nevertheless, he thought that if the House of Commons had been let a little into their councils their policy would not have at all been lessened in the estimation of the public. He thought in fact that the House of Commons would have urged the Minister to adopt a stronger and a firmer policy in favour of the Turks. He did not think it would be any disadvantage to the Government if the Emperor of Russia should see that the British House of Commons was not only ready to go as far as the Government had gone, but, if necessity called for it, to go still further. He could not believe, that if a firm front had been shown by the House of Commons, it would have had any other effect than that of strengthening the hands of the Government; nor could he suppose for a moment that the Government had been actuated by any fear of their general intentions in this matter being known, or of any Power or potentate in Europe being acted upon by any notion of menace held out to this country. He felt, however, himself so completely the extreme difficulty and complicity of this question that he could not but 1791 excuse Her Majesty's Government for the course they had adopted, they having had all those difficulties to deal with. His hon. Friend below the gangway (Mr. Layard) had spoken of the independence of Turkey in its relations with Russia. He wished it were a question between two independent Powers, and not a question involving two great and difficult subjects of nationality and religion. The more he reflected on those subjects, the more extreme were the difficulties which they presented to his mind; therefore a Minister might be wholly justified in laying down the principle that he would do all he could to support the independence of Turkey, without at the same time pledging himself that he would go to war upon any one particular point which interfered with that policy; because, on the one hand, they would have to contend against a Christian Power, and, on the other, to maintain the political relations of a European Power with a State with whose principles upon every point of religion and civilisation they totally disagreed. He thought the House must therefore see that the question was no longer one between two correlative Christian Powers, where the object of a third Power was to prevent one Christian Power interfering with another; and, in this difficulty, the Government might be permitted in some degree to temporise. If he were inclined to find fault with the information which the noble Lord had given, it was that he had not informed the House that the note, or whatever it was, to which the Turkish Government had agreed, had in any degree placed that Government in a less favourable position than it would have been placed in if they had refused the demands of Prince Menschikoff. He could not, however, help thinking that the impression upon the Turkish Government and upon the Oriental people in general was, that the English and French Governments had encouraged the Turkish Government to go further in their resistance to Russia than those Governments were inclined to support her by force of arms. Knowing, as they did, the financial difficulties of Turkey, they should not have encouraged her to resist further than they were ready to support her; and if it were the policy of this country to permit a certain amount of Russian influence in Turkey without resisting that influence by force of arms, he could not but agree with the noble Lord that the departure of Prince Menschikoff was a most unfortunate event, and it was to be regretted that no means had been used to 1792 prevent that open rupture. Still he was bound to say this, that if at the present moment this country said that the Russian Government should be allowed to exercise considerable authority over, and interference with, the Christian subjects of the Sultan in Turkey—if that was the conclusion of affairs—then it would have been much better to advise Turkey to submit to Russia in the beginning, than to depend upon foreign support which rested upon so narrow a basis. The real question that would hereafter come before Parliament, would not be whether Her Majesty's Government had acted with moderation in submitting to the demands of Russia, and in acceding to those demands, but he thought the question would be whether they had not in some degree encouraged Turkey to pursue a line of policy which they were not prepared to support. They ought not to do anything whatever which might, of absolute necessity, place Turkey in open hostility with any Christian Power. This was the main foundation of our policy. He did not believe that the people of England would permit this country to go to war with Russia for the simple purpose of preventing Russian aggression on Turkey. England was not called upon to engage in a European war for the sake of establishing the power of Turkey over a great Christian population. He did not believe for one moment that the Turkish Government had that hold on the Christian population under its rule that they would loyally and firmly support that Power. There were, however, in. all those provinces to which this question referred a certain class of individuals who did understand what was for the best interests of the population of Turkey, and who believed that the Turkish rule should continue, at Ieast for some time longer, and that the Christian population would enjoy a degree of liberty under that rule which they could not expect to enjoy under any autocratic European domination. But he could not believe that if there were to be an open war between Russia and Turkey, the Turkish Government would find its Christian subjects prompt to support them. Feeling, therefore, that this question was surrounded with all these difficulties, and was so complicated in itself, he could not blame Her Majesty's Government, or accuse them of having acted with any degree of imprudence, though he at the same time believed that they would have strengthened their hands and confirmed their policy if they had shown a little more confidence in Par- 1793 liament, and had given to England and to Europe that information of their intentions in regard to foreign affairs which Russia and France had done by the publication of their circulars in the newspapers—information which would have so materially simplified a question which, in the absence of that information, had been involved in a state of complication and doubt.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I owe some explanation to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), who appears to think that I ought to have given a longer notice of the statement I was going to make. With regard to the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), that right hon. Gentleman must have been aware—and, no doubt, was aware—that I said on a previous occasion that before Parliament should separate I would make the statement that I have made this evening. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire thought (and he was correct in so thinking) that I was not going to enter into a discussion of the reasons and ground on which the Government have proceeded, and that I was merely going to state some facts relating to the present relations between Russia and Turkey. The right hon. Gentle man the Member for Droitwich is quite right when he states that no Member is committed to any opinion on the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in regard to this subject. I wished to elicit no opinion, and I did not state any arguments proving or attempting to prove the wisdom of the course of the Government. But several hon. Members had wished some explanation should be made, and I complied with that wish with the view of giving them such explanation as I could give. In point of fact I went beyond the precedents in this case, and I stated more than was stated in the case to which I alluded in 1841. I think that what the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) has said, only shows that any opinion as to the wisdom or folly of our course ought to be reserved until the papers are seen. I shall not enter into a dispute with him, because if I did so, I would be obliged to enter into a narrative which I can only tell from the papers to which he has not access. Therefore I don't think it is right to enter into that discussion. I can only say, that if peace at any price is a bad maxim, I cannot see that war at any price is at all better. My noble Friend the Member for Marylebone (Lord 1794 D. Stuart), has referred to the questions that were addressed to Her Majesty's Government to ascertain their opinions; and of this I will remind my noble Friend, that when there was a question as to whether there should be a discussion in this House, I did not say, nor did my noble Friend in the other House of Parliament say, that we disapproved of any discussion, nor did we say that we were not ready to meet any question or Motion on the subject. We only said that it was not for the public service that there should be any discussion; and a great majority of the House, when there was a far greater attendance than at the present moment, concurred in opinion that, if the Government thought it would not be for the public service, then such a discussion ought not to take place. But I beg to say, that if any hon. Member had made a Motion on the subject either on that or any other day, I should have been ready then, or at any time, to have met that motion. I always thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury was rather disposed to support than oppose the policy of the Government on this question. I think if any attempt had been made by Russia to conquer and subdue Turkey, the a Christian subjects of the Porte would not have been very glad of the change. Their case would not have been very different from that which was told in an anecdote related by Charles II., who with his usual wit, on an occasion when the Duke of York said he should take care of his life, and hoped he would not go in so unguarded a manner about the streets as he was in the habit of going, said, "I will tell you what, brother; I have this security, I do not think anybody will kill me in order that you may succeed. "In the same way the Mahonredan yoke is not so hateful to the Christian subjects of the Porte that they would be rejoiced to have that Power overthrown in order that they might see a Russian Power established in its place.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, as the noble Lord had gone back to the time of Charles II., he would also do so. It was told of that celebrated monarch, when the Dutch Ambassador made a very objectionable proposal to him, and the King said—"You never would have made such a proposal to Oliver Cromwell;" the answer was—"No: but you are a very different man from Oliver Cromwell." He believed that if we had such Ministers as we should have had, and determined men to govern the country, the Russians never could nave marched into 1795 the Danubian provinces. But Russia entertained the opinion that nothing could make this country go to war. He was justified in saying this, looking at the his tory of the last thirty years. He would not allude to the disgraceful dismemberment of Poland; but he would go back only to 1830, when Poland made great f efforts to regain her liberties and independence; and at that time the Government prevented arms being manufactured and sent from this country to Poland to assist in gaining the liberties of a people who would be the real barriers against the ex-tension of Russian power. After that there was the celebrated interference of Russia with the affairs of Hungary. He thought the interference of any third party between the governors and the governed was most injudicious. We are now reaping the consequences of our injudicious conduct. We had allowed all the natural barriers of Russia to be destroyed, and given her the opportunity of carrying out the design she had entertained for the last century—that of overrunning Turkey. Did Ministers believe that this affair would end now? They ought to have said to Russia, in the first instance—"If you cross the Pruth, we shall consider it a cause of war, and shall think it our duty to support Turkey." What had Russia clone? He had not only crossed the Pruth in spite of them, but he kept the provinces, and had taken every step for their permanent occupation. Then, we had humiliated the Turks by inducing them to give way, so as to conciliate Russia, even before he had evacuated the provinces. The least we could have clone was to say, "Before we take any step to settle this question, you must evacuate these provinces." The course taken by this country was very objectionable, and not only Members of that House, but the people out of doors, were anxious about it, and felt that their honour was sullied. They felt that all sense of honour was lost, and that the country was governed by the consideration of pounds, shillings, and pence. The question now was not whether a certain policy was compatible with the national honour, but whether it was agreeable to certain tradesmen. England had lost that sense of honour and right, not to say chivalry, which she once enjoyed. Let them go back to the time of Oliver Cromwell, and see what he had done in Italy and in France in a similar state of affairs. He interfered immediately, without any consideration of expense. The question with 1796 him was only a question of right, and Government ought to pursue the same course now.
said, he would not leave himself open to the censure of the noble Lord at the bead of the Government by criticising the late transactions, until they were placed before them in an authentic form; but, at the same time, he thought that the noble Lord, by steadily refusing to take Parliament and the people of England into his councils, had increased greatly the responsibility that rested upon the Government; and, of course, the future judgment of that House must be severer than it would otherwise be if it should turn out that, when Parliament reassembled, the t noble Lord had been mistaken in his views, or that he had miscalculated his own position. There was one point that he wished particularly to press upon the House, and that had reference to the occupation of the Danubian provinces. The noble Lord left them in no doubt on the subject, because, from his eloquent silence, they could not think they were wrong in assuming that no mention of the evacuation of the Principalities was contained in the terms to which they were told by the noble Lord the Emperor of Russia had assented to. The question as to the evacuation of the Principalities seemed to him (Mr. Blackett) to be of far more importance than the terms of any treaty which the Emperor of Russia and the Sultan might agree to. He had never doubted that the ingenuity of diplomatists would be able to contrive some document which either party could sign without much humiliation; but the question of the continued occupation of the Principalities was more important, because it was more manifest to Europe, and pressed most heavily on the Turkish power. He should be sorry to see Turkey signing any treaty f of a humiliating character; but the know ledge of that treaty would be confined to a t comparatively limited circle of persons interested in diplomatic affairs, and many a years might elapse before either Power was called upon to put that power into execution, and they had the chapter of accidents to trust to; but the occupation of the n Principalities by the Russian troops was a fact that pressed upon the attention of every peasant in Wallachia and Moldavia, a and was calculated to disorganise the entire Turkish rule. It would be out of the power y of those Principalities to obtain any treaty that would enable them to avoid the intolerable position of occupying the debate able ground between two hostile Empires. 1797 The occupation of the provinces was calculated to extend the prestige of the Russian Empire, and was pregnant, above all, with t the most fatal consequences to the permanent peace of Europe. What was the ground on which the permanent peace of Europe rested? It was not on the power of any single nation; nor, as had been foolishly represented, on the magnanimity of any single sovereign; nor on the wisdom or moderation of popular assemblies. The peace of Europe really rested upon the general conviction that any Power that was the first to break it was sure to find the whole of Europe leagued against it, and was sure to come off the loser. If they would only cast their eyes over the map of Europe, they would everywhere find that powerful States were, perhaps naturally and excusably, inspired by a wish to increase their resources and extend their t territories; and, side by side, they found I weak States offering, but for those barriers, an easy prey to cupidity and ambition. It was nothing but a prudent and honourable apprehension of drawing clown on themselves the reprobation and chastisement of their allies. It was that feeling which had t prevented France from intermeddling with Belgium, Prussia from absorbing Saxony, and Austria from interfering with the Sardinian States; and which, until within the last few months, kept Russia beyond the Pruth; and he was sure that those apprehensions would still restrain Russia within proper limits if the Governments of England and France were united, and remained firm. If they wished to maintain those barriers, it was absolutely necessary that the failure of the Emperor of Russia in his r present schemes should be as palpable and unquestionable as his original pretensions were—in the words of Lord Lyndhurst—insolent and audacious. The Government should not lose time in devising terms to soothe his mortified spirit, but should rather hold the ease up as a warning from Europe to the next public malefactor who attempted to disturb the peace of Europe. If the Government obtained this, then they would have obtained a triumph; but if not, the; injury inflicted upon England and Europe would be irreparable. He could not conceive why the Government should deviate from its straightforward course, or allow itself to be in the least degree swayed by r dynastic sympathies. It would be made plain that England, so ready to threaten, was certain to shrink from the last extremity of arms; and it would be a poor con- 1798 solation for so terrible a misfortune as must infallibly ensue to exact a tremendous retribution from Ministers who had tarnished her honour, squandered her treasure, and destroyed her influence and her fame.
§ MR. COBDEN
I do not exactly see, Sir, that there is any difference of opinion on the question that is before us. I find everybody is agreed that Russia has acted in a manner that is treacherous, overbearing, and violent. I find that, in and out of this House, everybody entertains the opinion that the most fortunate result of the late proceedings in the East is, that it has brought about a firm alliance, not only between the people of England and France, but between the Governments of England and France, for I never can cease to separate the people, de facto, from their Government. Everybody wishes that Russia would evacuate the Principalities, and the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) has himself expressed his conviction that this object will be attained; and I believe everybody in this House, and out of it, would be willing to wait a few months longer, and have all those objects accomplished peaceably. I think that even in Birmingham itself, notwithstanding muskets are manufactured there, the people, if there was a meeting held in the Town Hall, would rather support the noble Lord in a pacific policy, than precipitate the country into a war to obtain the same objects a month or two earlier. But though evidently there is a great acquiescence of opinion amongst us all, there is still a great deal of uneasiness on the subject of Turkey. Is not the reason obvious, though we will not face it, and will rather deal with the superficies of the matter than deal with the interior of it? It is this: Because there is a growing conviction in our minds that what has been hitherto a current phrase, "the independence of the Turkish Empire," has now become a mere empty phrase, and nothing more; because the fact is, that within the last twenty years there has been a growing conviction in the minds of people that the Turks in Europe are intruders—that it is not their domicile or their permanent home—that their home is in Asia, and that Mahomedanism cannot exist in Europe alongside of civilised States. The progress of events has given a vast impetus to that opinion, which is grounded on the conviction that you cannot maintain Mahomedanism in Europe. Do what you will, that is your opinion—that is the embarrassment we feel—and that is, without doubt, the embarrasment of 1799 the Government in dealing with the subject. Disguise it as you will, we are not in earnest in the belief that we can preserve Mahomedanism in Europe. I have no wish to see the Russians in Constantinople; but I will not prevent them by our taking our stand for the preservation of Mahomedanism in Europe. If we or the Americans were the next neighbours of Turkey, judging by what they and we have clone elsewhere, and what we have done with regard to half a dozen Mahomedan dynasties in India, we would have swallowed them up long ago. The fact was, we could not maintain independence in a country if the people were not in a position to maintain it themselves, especially such a people as that of Turkey, numbering 20,000,000 or 30,000,000 in Europe and in Asia. There is another fact that has come up, and that is the existence of a large Christian population in Turkey in Europe. The fact is prominently before us, that the Christian element in Turkey in Europe is now the prominent one, and we cannot ignore it, because, for every one Turk in Turkey in Europe, there are three Christians in Turkey in Europe. The great majority of the people in Turkey in Europe are Christians, and the question is, what are the feelings of the Christian population towards their Mahomedan rulers. I believe that the feeling amongst the Christian population in the interior of Turkey is not favourable. I believe that in the large cities, in Smyrna and Constantinople, the Christians enjoy a certain portion of protection; but if you go into the interior of Turkey all the evidence goes to confirm me when I state that the Christian population in the interior of Turkey, in the small towns and villages, have a very hard lot indeed, and they are as much now under the rule and violent domination of an insolent caste and a barbarous people as ever they were. At this moment there is not a cadi, or pacha, or soldier that may not oppress the poor peasant in the interior almost as badly as they were oppressed two or three hundred years ago. These are facts that you cannot ignore in coming to a decision on the question of what is the feeling of the Christian population. The noble Lord (Lord D. Stuart) offered the opinion that they would prefer the rule of the Turks to that of the Russians. Well, that is possible. But I must say for myself—having visited both countries—that if I were a rayah—that is, a Christian subject of the Porte—I should prefer a Russian 1800 or any other government rather than a Mahomedan one. ["Hear, hear."] I do not say but that the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) who has travelled in Turkey and in Egypt, would not find himself a great deal freer man in either of those countries than in Russia. But it would be a very different thing if he were to become a resident in the East, to mount the badge in his cap, and to be placed in the position of a rayah or Christian subject of the Porte. I admit it is a matter of opinion, but still it is an open question whether they would not prefer the Russian to the Mahomedan rule. All I wish to urge is this, that that is a question which we must entertain. We are not taking the course which will ensure Turkish independence of other Powers, unless we carry the great bulk of the population in Turkey with us. It is obvious that we cannot consider their wishes at present. The question ought to be more discussed; it presses upon us all, and it will press upon us still more—it will hamper the Government in all their negotiations, especially on the question of resisting Russia by force. It may be possible for a time, if you will, to undertake to say how the eastern part of Europe shall be governed; but in the end we must go further, and from a consideration of the wishes of the people themselves we must undertake to say who shall permanently govern the Turkish Empire. That is a question on which I dare say the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) would be able greatly to enlighten us, and to tell us what the tendencies of the Wallachians—what the tendencies of the Scrvians—what the tendencies of the Greeks may be; it is difficult for us to know them all, but of this I am quite sure, that we shall have our hands full if we undertake to deal with this question as it ought to be dealt with. As to sending our fleet to the Bay of Besika, and keeping the Russians out of Constantinople—that you may do, no doubt. Russia has always avoided a collision with a maritime Power. She has avoided it with America—she has avoided it with England—because in such a collision all the illusion respecting her greatness would be dispelled at once. But in the meantime you are keeping up an enormous armament, which does not tend to settle the question—you are inducing the Turkish Government to prepare for war, which will bring ruin and bankruptcy on her finances—you are thereby placing Turkey in a more feeble and pros- 1801 trate condition than she was in before. I have no doubt the Government will prevent a war, but the question will not be settled; it will come up again; and you must, therefore, address yourselves, as men of sense and men of energy, to the question—what are you to do with the Christian population? for Mahomedanism cannot be maintained; and, what is more, I should be sorry to see this country fighting for the maintenance of Mahomedanism. I never could get up any zeal on behalf of the Mahomedans; they keep the plague—they keep slavery—they have a bazaar for the sale of black and white slaves. You may keep Turkey on the map of Europe; you may call the country by the name of Turkey if you like, but do not think you can keep up the Mahomedan rule in that country. A great deal has been said about the necessity of maintaining the independence of Turkey on account of our commerce with her. Now, as a free trader, I must once for all enter my protest against fighting for a market at all. I never would consent to fight for a low tariff. In the first place, I deny that you could do so. What has experience shown? You fought for a tariff in Spain, and after spending between 200,000,000l. and 300,000,000l. of money in keeping Spain out of the hands of an enemy who would have excluded your commerce, you accomplished your object, and Spain and Portugal repaid your exertions by enacting the most restrictive tariffs in Europe. You occupied Sicily during the whole of the last war; and when you left it, what sort of tariff was enacted for your manufactures? In the next place I have too much faith in my principles to go to war for them. I believe that free-trade principles will spread and make converts by means of peace. We are making converts every day by the proofs we are affording of the salutary and striking benefits of free trade. Therefore, do not talk of war as a means of removing restrictions, or of opening markets. Besides, the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) is under a great delusion as to the accounts of our commerce with Turkey. The returns which the noble Lord has given to the House, and on which he relies, are the returns of exports to the Black Sea, which are sent most of them to Austria, up the Danube. That is not Turkish commerce. Constantinople is a mere depot from whence our goods are sent to Trebisond and elsewhere; there is very little consumption of our commerce 1802 in the dominions of Turkey. Though I have no partiality for Russia—on the contrary, I am not sorry to see the great representative of the despotic principle humiliated and dishonoured by the mean plottings and contrivances which he has carried on through the whole of these transactions; yet, let us not delude ourselves with any idea of danger resulting to the commerce of this country from Russian ascendancy. I maintain that all the commerce we have on the Black Sea is owing to Russian invasion. We never had any commence in the Black Sea until Russia took possession of the Crimea. What is the fear, then, that Russia would exclude our commerce if she were to retain the Provinces? What was our commerce in grain in the Black Sea? We did not get food from Turkey, but from Russia; and would not Russia be as glad to sell us her tallow, hemp, and corn, in future, whatever might be her aggressions on foreign countries? It was a great fallacy to suppose otherwise. Take our trade with Russia in the Baltic. Our exports, indeed, are not large, because Russia has followed the example we set her, and placed restrictions upon our manufactures, as we some thirty or forty years ago placed restrictions on her produce. But still for the native produce we do take from her we pay her in sugar and other articles. I, therefore, discard the idea altogether that Russia will discourage our trade. What, on the other hand, is the prospect of our trade with Turkey? It is a country literally without a road. You cannot go three miles out of Constantinople, or any of the large towns, except on horseback. Constantinople has no pavement—it has no lamps—it has no scavengers except the dogs; it has not a building of stone or brick. It is well known as an historical fact, in the flowery language of Burke, that the Turks have been a curse, a desolation and a blight wherever they have come. I do not argue thus to defend Russia, but do not let us suppose that they will refuse to trade with us. Go to St. Petersburg—a city that may vie with London—a city that has all the splendour and magnificence of Paris, with a river twice the breadth of the Thames running through it. Let any man go to St. Petersburg or to Moscow, and then let him go to Constantinople, the one built on the most favoured situation on the face of the earth, the other in the midst of every disadvantage, and yet see the contrast. Constantinople is, as an Ameri- 1803 can traveller has said, a city of boxes with lids that are open all day and shut at night. Do not deceive yourselves, and pretend that we are the natural allies of such a country for the purposes of trade. I protest against the argument that it is for the interest of England, or that we are bound to maintain Turkey in possession of those rich and fertile territories. There may be other political reasons, but I object to facts being brought forward which have no foundation, in order to mislead the English people in regard to their true interests. These points must be developed—they must be reasoned upon—they must he dwelt on for the next few years. The present question may be settled—I do not expect that it will lead to war—I do not find any sensible people who ever did expect that. A great deal has been said about the power of Russia, and about the danger to England if Russia were allowed to occupy the countries of the Bosphorus. I never shared that opinion. I wrote upon that question eighteen years ago at a time when people were much madder upon the question than they are now—when the predecessor of the hon. Member for Birmingham was crying out night after night for a war with Russia. I had travelled in that country, and I expressed my opinion—an opinion which all the recent events have only tended to confirm—that it was absurd to talk of Russia invading England Why, she cannot move an army to her own frontiers, except by the aid of foreign gold. I said so not long since in the City, that she could not make any aggressive movement, except by the aid of an English loan; and nine months afterwards on the invasion of Hungary, I attended in the same room in the City, to denounce a loan of 6,000,000l., which was about to be raised under the pretence that it was for the Moscow railroad. I had seen it myself nearly six months before, and it was then nearly finished; so that it was absurd to talk of the loan being intended for that scheme. The country is poor and thinly populated—it is a mere series of villages; how could it injure England or France? It may possess Turkey, because Turkey is in state of decay, and when a country falls into decrepitude, its next neighbour will be sure to take it if he can. I repudiate the notion of Russia invading England. But what has been done, and by England, towards such of the Mahomedan Powers as we are neighbours to in India? We have not been a whit less unscrupulous 1804 in our diplomacy towards them than Russia has been to Turkey, and especially in the way that, within the last two years, we have dealt with Burmah. But however Russia may deal with Turkey, I do not see what right we have to interfere with a matter so far removed from us. I believe that England would be ready to resist an attack from whatever quarter it might come, and that she would be ten times more powerful to resist than Russia to attack. All the resources that we have in our vast manufactures—all the appliances that we possess in our prodigious steam vessels, and in our mechanical skill, would be turned in six months—ay, in six days—to the contrivance of engines of destruction which would render us more powerful than any other nation on the face of the earth. All these are wanting in Russia; they must come here for their steam boats, or for the artisans to make them, and there is not a chance of their injuring us. But while I say this, let me address a word to those Members who represent the manufacturing districts—let me give them a word of advice as to the position we should occupy if war were to break out. The sufferings which that event would occasion would be such as those who only remember the war that commenced sixty years ago can have no conception of. In the first place, we have a vast increase in material wealth, and that I wealth has greatly increased our manufacturing population. Where we had one man dependent upon the raw materials supplied by foreign countries in 1793, we have twenty-five men now. Where we had 30,000,000l. or 40,000,000l. of exports then, we have 80,000,000l. or 90,000,000l. now. Let me tell my Friends the Members for the manufacturing towns, who talk so glibly of war, that while I agree with them that in a war to defend this kingdom, England would bring all her resources to bear, and would defend herself against all the world, yet I say that if England were to go further, and to engage in a continental war, you do not know what belligerents you might have in six months from its declaration. A war now would be attended with consequences of which the present generation little think, or they would not talk of it so glibly. In the first place, you would have the Americans, whose country was a mere infant in 1793, and to whom we could then say, "You shall come to no part in Europe except by our permission," and we could seize their ships and press their crews at our pleasure. Now, if war 1805 were to break out, what would be the first thing we should be called upon to do? Why, we should be called upon by the Americans to disavow the right of search. We could not refuse that, and that concession would place America at once as our rival in the carrying trade of Europe. And, remember, you have now repealed your navigation laws. In 1793, you could send out large fleets of merchant ships, under the convoy of ships of war, twice a year. You had the monopoly of the seas; and it did not matter to you when or how your ships sailed, because other countries must wait upon you for their supplies. But what would be the case now, if you were to go to war? If you were engaged in war with a maritime Power, they would issue letters of marque to fleets of steamers, who could take refuge when they pleased in Stockholm or other neutral ports. Your insurances for freights would rise at Lloyd's in proportion to the risk of capture. How would your manufacturers—how would your numerous and wealthy colonies, consent to bring over their freights in English bottoms, when Dutchmen, Hamburghers, and Frenchmen were not subject to the same risk? Remember that the repeal of the navigation laws has thrown you open to the competition of the whole world in shipping, as in everything else. I must beg my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Blackett)—and Newcastle has often sent bellicose Members to this House—to remember that there is no port which would suffer more severely, more in proportion to the magnitude of its commerce, than Newcastle would do, if we should go to war. But I beg pardon of the House for having gone into these considerations. All I wish to say is, that I think the Government have done wisely in disregarding the cry of thoughtless men; they have done wisely in not listening to the cry of the newspapers, some of which profess the democratic principle, as if democracy ever gained by war. The Government have done right, not only for the interests of the country, but even for the interests of themselves; for if they should plunge the country into war, the shallow men who now cry for war would, in less than six weeks, call for the disgrace and the removal of the very Ministers who began the war. I have nothing to say to the Ministers. I do not blame them because they have taken up a position to defend the Turkish empire. It is a traditional policy they have followed, which has been handed down to them by previous Govern- 1806 ments, and unless they had public opinion with them, no Government could avoid doing so. All I say is, that I have no doubt they will soon get rid of the difficulties respecting the Wallachiau provinces; and I congratulate them on having been as peaceable as the people would allow them to be.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I cannot not allow the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down to pass without one or two observations. I cannot accept the praise which the hon. Gentleman has bestowed stowed on the conduct of the Government at the conclusion of his speech on the ground on which he has been pleased to place it. Nothing is so painful as to see a man of great ability labouring to bring about a conviction which he knows to be contrary to the opinions of the great majority of his fellow-countrymen, and which, therefore, he is afraid—I will not use a stronger expression—openly to express, but which he endeavours to conceal under every specious device which human ingenuity could afford to the practised orator. The hon. Gentleman, in the beginning, I agreed with every person and everything, and he ended in differing with every one on all points. The hon. Gentleman began by assuming it to be a proper maxim of policy to maintain the independence of Turkey, and to prevent Russia from taking a portion of that territory which belonged to the Turkish empire. But in the course of his speech, the hon. Gentleman used every argument to show that Turkey was not worth anything, and that it was not of much consequence if it fell to pieces. If the hon. Gentleman stood forth as the advocate of the aggressive and ambitious policy of Russia, as the advocate of that system of policy which he pretended so lately to denounce and condemn, in the present state of feeling in this House and the country, I know not how he could dare to pursue a course more calculated to defend and assist and facilitate the views which he pretended to oppose. I confess, Sir, I never heard a speech in my life so full of contradictions. At one moment he tells us that Russia—not as formerly—could be crumpled up like a sheet of brown paper—but he tells us that Russia is so weak that she is perfectly incapable of resisting any serious efforts that might be made against her on the part of this country; at another moment, he declares that war with Russia would be ruin to England. How can he reconcile the two statements? 1807 At one time, Russia is a barbarous Power, with scattered territories, weak in the interior; and then he launches out into praises of the beauty of St. Petersburg, a and, because that city is more beautiful than Constantinople, he thinks that Russia n ought to be possessed of both. The hon. b Gentleman is a free trader, and says free b trade has made great progress throughout u Europe. He has himself made a tour through Europe in that character, and because he has been received with the courtesy and civility to which his personal qualities entitled him, he thinks that he has persuaded all Europe to abandon their former systems and to become free traders. The hon. Gentleman says, that the efforts which this country has made in former times were in favour of low tariffs, and he asks what has been the result to this country? Why, Sir, we went to war for the liberties of Europe, and not for the purpose of gaining so much per cent on our exports. We went to war, not for the purpose of increasing the export of our commodities, but in defence of the liberty and independence of nations, and for the maintenance of that balance of power, which, however the hon. Gentleman may If treat it with contempt and sneer at, because he does not understand it—every body else considers to be a point deserving of assertion, and essential to the liberty and well-being of mankind. I admit that no man has done more in this country for the assertion and practical enforcement of the principle of free trade than the bon. Gentleman, and I am the last man to withhold the tribute of my acknowledgments to him for the great services he has rendered in that respect. But the hon. Gentleman seems entirely to forget his principle when he compares the commercial system of Turkey to that of Russia. Does the hon. Gentleman not know—and if he l knows, why does he seek to withdraw the attention of the public from it?—that the commercial system of Russia is a restrictive and prohibitory one, while that Turkey is the most liberal one that exists in any country with which we have commercial relations? The hon. Gentleman says that Turkey is immaterial in a commercial point of view, because, for sooth, we had no great commerce in the Black Sea till the time of the Empress Catherine. Why, Sir, I never heard an argument from the hon. Gentleman less t calculated to support the conclusion which he wished to draw. But it is not true that 1808 the commerce of Turkey is immaterial to this country. It is material to this country. Her natural and internal products are as important as those that come to us from Russia, and as her natural and internal resources increase, her commerce will become more and more valuable. "Aye, but," says the hon. Gentleman, "you are under deception; for if you look to the returns moved for by an hon. Gentleman, which give us an account of the commerce with Turkey, you will find that the great bulk of it goes not to Turkey, but to other countries through Turkey." Well, but would it go through Turkey if you had the prohibitory tariff of Russia? Whether, therefore, we are to consider Turkey as a consumer, or as the channel through which our manufactures pass into Asia, in either point of view it is of great importance to the commercial interests of England that Turkey should remain independent, in order that a liberal system of commerce may exist. But the hon. Gentleman is great advocate for non-interference. He says, "Do not interfere at all in the internal affairs of other countries; do not dictate to other nations or people their form of government;" and then he says that the state and position of Turkey must be specially committed to the deliberation of the Government and parliament of this country. He says that the question which we have to determine is, what we are to do with the Turkish Empire—that we have to dispose of the relative situation of Mahomedan and Greek, and that we are to decide who are to be the inhabitants of this part of the Turkish Empire. He says that you are now yielding to a vulgar prejudice; that Turkey is a rotten fabric that cannot last long; that the Turkish Empire must expire; that, as the Sultan, his army, and 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 of inhabitants are only encamped in Europe, it would be quite ridiculous and absurd to interfere for their preservation; and, that, on the contrary, we should consider how best to dispose of their territories, and relieve Europe of the blighting presence of the Moslem. That, Sir, is a strange doctrine from one who maintains the necessity of leaving foreign countries to decide on their own form of government. But, Sir, I do not admit to him that Turkey, as an Empire, is in that state of decay which he represents. I say that the maintenance of the integrity of Turkey is not only an object desirable, but one worth contending for, and capable of being carried out to a 1809 successful result. The hon. Gentleman has been greatly misinformed as to the state of Turkey for the last thirty years. I assert, without fear of contradiction from any one who knows anything on the subject, that, so far from having gone back, Turkey has made greater progress and improvement than any other country in the same period. Compare Turkey now with what she was in the reign of Sultan Mahmoud—take either her system of government or the prosperity of her inhabitants—take her army—take her navy—take her administration of justice—take the prosperity of her agriculture—take her improvements in such manufactures as she has—take her commercial system—take her religious toleration—I say, that in all these respects Turkey has made immense progress during the period which I have mentioned. So far from going with the hon. Gentleman in that sort of political slang which is the fashion of those who want to partition and divide Turkey—who say that Turkey is a dead body, or an expiring body, that cannot be kept alive, I am convinced that if you only keep out of it those who wish to get into it—if you only leave those who are now in it to deal with it as they now deal with it, so far is it from internal dissolution that I consider there are not many countries in Europe with whom it would not bear a favourable comparison. I think it as likely to increase in power and prosperity, if you only keep other people's hands off it, as some of those countries to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. Turkey, it must be remembered, has no Poland or Circassia to distract her. Sir, I am bound to say, that if ever I heard a speech which, while it ostensibly commended the course pursued by the Government, was calculated to damp the proper feeling of the country in support of that Government, it was the speech of the hon. Gentleman. But, I am happy to say, it is the only speech we have heard to-night in that tone; and I trust it will not mislead any one beyond the limits of this country, who might be deceived by it. I hope that such language will not excite abroad a feeling that might render it more difficult for Her Majesty's Government to bring about a settlement of the question satisfactorily to the honour of the country. I trust that the great preponderance of the proper feeling and sentiment on this subject will have shown all Europe the real sentiment of Parliament on this subject, and the determination of 1810 the British nation and the British Parliament to support the Government, and, that though there may be one man who wishes to see Russia extend her conquests over Turkey, that is not the wish of the British nation, and that the Government of England, supported by the people of England, are determined to maintain the independence of Turkey—an independence which we think it essential to maintain both for political and commercial purposes. I do not mean to go with the hon. Gentleman into a rearrangement of the Turkish Empire, or to dictate to the Bulgarians, Slavonians, Greeks, or Mussulmans, who are to be their governors, or what their form of government is to be. But it has been the policy of this country to give advice to the Turkish Government, with a view to those internal improvements which we thought would add to the strength of Turkey, and to the happiness and prosperity of the people who are placed under the rule of the Sultan. Our suggestions have, I am happy to say, been attended with most beneficial consequences to Turkey. Our consular agents in the different provinces of Turkey inform us that tranquillity has increased, that justice is better administered, that oppression has ceased, and that those benefits have resulted, which it must be the anxious desire of England to promote in every country which considers its advice worthy of its attention. If that system is pursued; if England, united with France, determine that Turkey shall not belong to Russia or to any other Power, and if that doctrine is enforced in practice, I am convinced that if no foreign Power endeavour to destroy Turkey, our policy, so far from being ridiculous, as the hon. Gentleman endeavoured to represent it, will prove a sound policy—a policy which deserves the approbation of the country, and which it will be the duty of every future British Government to pursue.
MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
said, he thought it would be seen from this debate that the spirit of the British people was not dormant, but that they were prepared to support those Ministers who took an active part in repressing the wanton aggression of Russia. He regretted that the moral influence of this country had been very much weakened by our conduct in the East, for he thought we had taken exactly the contrary course to that adopted by the Romans; Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos. For instance, we had annexed Burmah, because a petty officer 1811 was kept waiting for half an hour in the sun; while, on the other hand, we forbore from any interference with powerful nations which had committed the most wanton aggressions. As he understood, in the memorandum which had been addressed to Russia by Her Majesty's Government, there was no reference to the great aggression of that Power—her entrance into the Principalities. He was glad that the Ministry contained a nobleman of proper English spirit, who, he was certain, would not consent to remain a member of any Administration unless a policy were followed which was conducive to the honour of this country.
§ Motion, That the House at its rising do adjourn till Friday, put, and agreed to.
§ The House adjourned at half-after Seven o'clock.