HC Deb 03 March 1853 vol 124 cc978-99

said, he rose in pursuance of notice to call the attention of the House to the affairs of Turkey, as affected by the contest now proceeding in Montenegro. He regretted that this subject had not been taken up by some much more able and influential Member of the House than himself, because it must be obvious to every mind that this question was one involving the independence and integrity of the Turkish Empire—objects which it had always been the policy of all Governments in this country for many years past to regard as being of paramount importance. Those objects, however, were now greatly endangered. They had heard that large armies of Austrians were marching towards her frontiers in one direction, and that Prince Menzikoff was at the head of three corps d'armée of Russians in another direction, and that an ultimatum, in terms the most peremptory, had been addressed to the Ottoman Court, to be answered in the space of a few days. The most prominent cause of these proceedings was the present state of the small province, or part of a province, called Montenegro—so small in extent, in importance, and in population, that under other circumstances it might be described at Vienna as a geographical atom. Now Montenegro was within the Turkish territories; it was about sixty miles long by thirty broad, with a population of 100,000 persons, half barbarous and uncivilised. It had formed part of the province of Scutari, and was won from the Venetians in 1478. Several treaties, from that of Carlovicz in 1699, and of Passarovicz in 1718, down to that of Sisrow in 1791, had recognised the dominion of Turkey over this province; and in the last-named treaty signed between Austria and Turkey, under the mediation of England, Holland, and Prussia, there was the following clause:— Art. 1. There will be henceforth a perpetual and universal peace on land, sea, and rivers between the two Empires, their subjects and vassals—a true and sincere friendship—a close and perfect union—a suppression and a full and general amnesty of all hostilities, violence, and injuries committed during that war by the two Powers, or by the subjects and vassals of the one which have sided with the other, and especially the inhabitants, of any condition, of Montenegro, Bosnia, Servia, Wallachia, and Moldavia, who, in virtue of this amnesty, can repossess any ancient dwellings, possessions, and rights, and enjoy them peacefully without ever being disturbed, molested, or punished for having declared themselves against their own Sovereign, or for having taken an oath of allegiance to the Imperial and Royal Court. To this treaty was appended the following declaration of the negotiating Ministers:— We, Plenipotentiaries of His Majesty the King of Great Britain, of His Majesty the King of Prussia, and of the High Powers the General States of the United Provinces, having served as negotiators of this work of pacification, do declare that the above treaty between the Imperial and Royal Court and the Sublime Ottoman Porte, with all the clauses, conditions, and stipulations which are therein contained, has been concluded by the mediation of their Majesties the Kings of Great Britain and of Prussia, and of the High Powers the General States of the Provinces. In testimony whereof we have signed these presents with our hands, and caused the seal of our arms to be set to it. Done at Sistow this 4th of August, 1791. ROBERT MURRAY KEITH. JEROME MARQUESS DE LUCCHESSINI. R. DE HAEFTEN. Since that time there had been no treaty signed between Austria and Turkey which could in any way affect the subject. True, the Montenegrins had at various times endeavoured to gain their independence, and had to a certain degree enjoyed it, but they had always been entirely under the suzerainty of the Porte. The treaty of Vienna in 1815, which defined the limits of Austria, left Montenegro as it was before—a portion of the Turkish Empire. Of late the Montenegrins had endeavoured to pursue a course which evinced a disregard of the authority of Turkey, and had done so under very peculiar circumstances. Montenegro was governed by a bishop, whose authority was hereditary. Now, the Greek bishops were not allowed to marry, and, of course, could have no issue, so the right of rule over the country descended, not from father to son, but from uncle to nephew. The late bishop, or Vladika, as he was called, having died last year, his authority had devolved upon his nephew, Prince Daniel, who was a young man about thirty years of age. It. appeared that this young prince had no desire to be a bishop; the nolo episcopari with him was much more sincere than with some Protestant bishops, however conscientious they might be; and Prince Daniel had conceived the desire of becoming the head or prince of the country without assuming episcopal functions. With that view he had repaired to St. Petersburgh, probably to consult the Czar upon the subject, and to obtain his sanction to this new arrangement—a mode of action which might appear very natural to those who, like the noble Earl lately Secretary for Foreign Affairs, were so ignorant as to suppose that the Emperor of Russia was the head of the Greek Church. He said so ignorant, though in using that phrase he would not be thought to speak in any manner offensive to the noble Earl; but it was undoubted that in another place the Earl of Malmesbury described the Emperor of Russia as head of the Greek Church. That was a complete error, and he believed that the noble Earl was now convinced of the blunder he had made. The fact was, that all the Emperor of Russia could claim was to be the head of those persons professing the Greek faith who were subjects of his own own; but legally he had nothing whatever to do with any members of that religion who were the subjects of any other country, these persons looking up to the patriarch of Constantinople as the head of their religion. It was said by persons well informed, that when Prince Daniel was at St. Petersburgh he received advice from the highest quarters to adopt a rebellious course with regard to the Sultan, and to act as if he were independent. However that might be, it was certain that soon after his return from St. Petersburgh those disturbances arose which had led to the present uneasy state of the East, and had called for the active interference of Turkey with a large force. It was also said that the Czar, having given this counsel to the Vladika, gave precisely the contrary advice by his ambassador to the Sultan, and urged him to put down by force the Montenegrins, who endeavoured to throw off his authority. Thus we saw the Emperor of Russia giving one kind of advice at St. Petersburgh and another at Constantinople; and so pursuing that course which history told us had always been the course of Russia with regard to those countries not ruled by herself, with a view of creating animosity and discord, in order either that she might be called in as a mediator, or that those States not subject to her might be weakened by internal disorder. We had seen this same line of policy pursued in Poland; we had seen it in Turkey previous to the present emergency, and we had seen it in Hungary lately, when it was well known that, having interfered most unjustly with her army to put an end to the struggle of the Hungarians for their constitutional rights, she did everything she could to represent the Austrians to the inhabitants of Hungary in the worst possible light, and herself as their saviour and defender. The Montenegrins having received the advice he had alluded to, acted upon it. They began to make incursions into the neighbouring territory of Turkey, they began to commit acts of robbery, pillage, and murder, and went so far as to surprise the Turkish fort of Zabljak, and to put to death the small garrison which it contained. The Sultan thereupon sent a considerable force to re-establish order, under the command of Omar Pasha, who was one of the ablest generals Turkey possessed, and who as early as 1839 had commanded a brigade in Syria, and in 1846 had led an expedition into Kurdistan for the deliverance of the Christians persecuted by Bader Khan Bey. This expedition into Montenegro it was which had occasioned the interference of Austria. That country had made complaints upon the subject, and had addressed demands wholly incompatible with the respect due to Turkey, if it was to be considered an independent State. It appeared that Austria complained that a large army should be assembled in that part of Turkey without previous notice to her, demanded the removal of certain Hungarian refugees, who were serving against the Montenegrins, and called for the concession of certain points on the coast; or, if those points were not conceded to her, she demanded an engagement from the Turks not to use those places in any way. It was reported that these demands were urged so peremptorily that the ambassador of Austria required an answer in five days, or he was to withdraw from Constantinople. Now, undoubtedly, it was usual to ask for explanations, if a neighbouring country assembled upon its frontiers a large body of men; but if the country asking for these explanations meant to be on terms of amity with its neighbour, and to treat it as an independent Government, these explanations must be demanded in a proper manner, and with the courtesies usual between nation and nation; and no ultimatum must be given, or threats held out, as had been the case in this instance. No doubt, if such explnnations had been asked for at Constantinople in a proper manner, they would have been given, and Turkey would have given every assurance that this army was not intended to threaten Austria, but only to put down the disturbances which had arisen in Montenegro, and to re-establish a peaceable state of things among those whom she considered her own subjects. That the idea of Turkey having any design upon the Austrian Empire, or any design of disturbing its peace, or making an incursion into its territory, was absolutely preposterous, must be admitted by anybody who knew the relative forces of the two Kingdoms. As to the force under Omer Pasha being large, that might be satisfactorily explained, for the Montenegrins were admitted to be a very martial and brave people, and Turkey had previously experienced the difficulty of subduing these warlike mountaineers. Could it be supposed that Austria had any right to tell the Sultan he was not to put an end to the lawless state of things which existed in Montenegro? Did Austria pretend that Montenegro was an independent State? Why, all the maps and the geographical works of any credit, placed that country in the Turkish dominions as part of Turkey; and he had seen the official map published at Vienna, which laid down Montenegro in no other position. But it was certainly a strange thing to see Austria contending for the independence of a State like Montenegro. Why, this was Austria, which a short time ago spoke of another independent State as a "geographical atom," and which, notwithstanding the obligation of treaties formed with every State in Europe, and notwithstanding her own obligations to protect that State, did without scruple violate the independence of what she called a "geographical atom,"—the Republic of Cracow—and violently annexed it to her own dominions; a proceeding which called forth a protest from the Government of this country and of Prance, which was now a matter of history. And whom had Austria sent to interfere on behalf of the independence of Montenegro? Why, as if to turn all the obligations of treaties into ridicule, the ambassador sent to defend the independence of Montenegro was no other than Count Leiningen, the military governor of Cracow. As to the demand for the removal of certain Hungarian refugees from the army of Turkey, those refugees had probably embraced the Mussulman faith; and it was a well-known law of Turkey that, by so doing, they acquired all the rights and privileges of Turks, and the Turkish Government, therefore, was perfectly justified in considering those people in the same light as native Turks. Certainly she might remove them, and place them elsewhere, in order to conciliate the feelings of Austria; and no doubt, if such a demand had been properly urged, it would have met with attention. There was another demand which it was said had been made—namely, that Austria should be considered the protector of all Roman Catholics in the Turkish dominions. The Turks might well say, in reply to this, that any such protector was altogether unnecessary. Could Austria show that those persons had been ill-treated? Had they been interfered with in any one way in the exercise of their religion? He believed that, on the contrary, there was no Government so tolerant of all religions as the Turkish Government. The Roman Catholics in that country were allowed to worship without let or hindrance; and in Constantinople religious processions might be seen passing through the streets without being interfered with or molested by any of the inhabitants. That toleration was given to every sect, was further proved by the fact that at Jerusalem there was a bishop of the Anglican Church; and Protestants, Roman Catholics, and members of the Greek Church, all enjoyed the freest exercise of their own religion. They were never interfered with in any way, and he only wished that the same thing could be said of every Christian Government. The Turks had always shown this toleration; let it not be said that it was only lately that it had been evinced, because they were weak, and wanted to conciliate other Governments. History told us the contrary. When they took Constantinople they did not expel the conquered race, as the conquered race had been expelled from Spain, although in the one case there was a treaty, and none existed in the other. When, again, the Turks took Jerusalem, they established liberty for all religions; and he was afraid the consequence of this had been such contests between the Christians themselves, as were not only disgraceful to the religion they professed, but had led to discussions and disputes which turned out very injurious to the Turkish Government. He alluded to the quarrels in regard to the Holy Sepulchre which prevailed between France and Russia; and Turkey was threatened first by one and then by the other of those two Governments, in a manner which seemed to involve the loss of her independence, and which, he feared, was the result of her own tolerance. But by whom were the present pretences in regard to Turkey put forward? By the most intolerant Power which existed, or which ever did exist. Austria had been doing nothing ever since the Reformation but persecuting the Protestants, and thousands had lost their lives by her persecutions. Let the House remember the Protestant persecutions under Charles V. in Flanders, the religious persecutions in Bohemia, and those under Ferdinand II. in Hungary. To whom was it owing that the Protestants in Hungary were not exterminated by the Austrians? It was owing to the Turks, who gave them assistance and support for the one hundred and fifty years during which their dominion in Hungary lasted, and who had always allowed the Protestants the free exercise of their religion. Now what was the reason of this hostility to Turkey on the part of Russia and Austria? Had she done anything to give offence to those Powers, which they took this opportunity to resent? Who was there that supposed that the pretexts put forward had any sincerity in them? Who was there who did not feel that there must he some secret motive urging Austria to take this tyrannical course? Had not Austria demanded that certain Hungarian refugees should he delivered up to her in order that she might slake her vengeance upon them; and had not Turkey nobly resisted that demand? Formerly she made similar demands about Ragotzi, to which Turkey replied with the same dignity. At the bottom of all the talk about religious freedom and national independence was a vindictive spirit on account of Hungary and Kossuth. Hid Turkey address any demand to Austria at the time she had insurgents to deal with similar to those which Austria was now addressing to Turkey? Did she find fault with Austria because that Power had large armies in Hungary, and even marched them on to Turkish territory, when flying before the irresistible banner of the brave Bern? They could not but regard the proceedings of Austria against Turkey as those of might against right, unsanctioned in any way by justice or public law. He wanted to know how the Government regarded these matters. Hid England hold the same conviction of the necessity of maintaining Turkish independence as hitherto? He believed we were bound by the faith of treaties to adhere to that ancient policy, and these our obligations had been often insisted upon in speeches from the Throne, and in Ministerial declarations from Governments of every description—Liberal, Tory, and Peelite. We were indeed no less bound by good faith than by good feeling to give that support to Turkey which we had been accustomed to afford her. If we did not, the great Powers would divide Turkey between them, and the equilibrium of Europe would be entirely destroyed. Some hon. Members spoke of that equilibrium with great contempt; but that was not his opinion of the balance of power. If Russia and Austria took possession of European Turkey between them, they would acquire so much power that it would become exceedingly difficult to resist them, and the liberties of Europe would be placed in serious jeopardy. Again, in a commercial point of view, it was of the utmost consequence that we should maintain the rule of the Sultan at Constantinople. Our commerce with Turkey was increasing at a most prodigious rate. He had moved last year for a Return of our exports to Turkey, Russia, and Austria. It appeared from these Returns that within the last twenty years our trade with Turkey had been quadrupled, with Russia only doubled, whilst with Austria it had actually diminished. No one could suppose that, if Turkey fell into the hands of Austria or Russia, our trade with her would not suffer most materially. Did any one suppose, if such an event were to take place, that there would be any religious freedom in Turkey? Many hon. Gentlemen were most desirous to see that Protestants in every quarter of the globe enjoyed perfect toleration. He asked those Gentlemen how long they thought an English bishop would he permitted to remain in Jerusalem if Austria took possession of Turkey? A good deal had been said some years ago of Turkey being our ancient ally; could that friendship subsist if we allowed her independence to be attacked—if we allowed her to be treated in a manner contrary to the law and usage of nations? It had been also said that Austria was our ancient ally. He did not wish to see England on bad terms with Austria or any other country—far from it; but he believed it was perfectly possible frankly to extend the hand of friendship and assist Turkey, without quarrelling with any other Power. As to Austria being our ancient ally, he humbly thought this was not a correct description, for Austria herself was the most modern of existing Empires—more modern than the revived Empire of France. In the days of Marlborough our alliance was not with the Empire of Austria, but with the Empire of Germany, and Austria had no longer the same hold of Germany as in those days. Indeed, a very small portion of her dominion was German—not above a quarter. The greater part of her territories was composed of other nations, a great part of whose population detested her rule—never more would they hear the cry in Hungary, Pro rege moriamur. In. Italy, too, there was the greatest discontent; the tyrannic rule of Austria there was such that, like the crushed worm, the hapless people rose up against their tyrants even without any hope of success. Austria seemed to be animated by a most inimical and unfriendly feeling towards the people of this country. In the Austrian dominions, as well as in those countries in which Austria had influence, England had just reason to complain of the treatment of her subjects. Thus, in Saxony, Mr. Paget had been treated with great indignity; in Tuscany, an Englishman had been cut down by an Austrian officer at the head of his troops, and that officer had not been so much as reprimanded; and in numberless other instances had English subjects experienced insult and outrage at the hands of Austria. It had been very much the habit to attribute bad feeling on the part of Austria towards England to his noble Friend the present Home Secretary; but it was a very remarkable thing that all those proceedings which he had mentioned had taken place subsequently to his noble Friend's retirement from the Foreign Office; and whilst there was another Government in power, which was most eager in its declarations of amity towards Austria, they had seen an affront put upon England by Austria which never could have been expected, and which the people of this country deeply felt; for Austria, be it remembered, was the only State in Europe which refused to honour the memory of the illustrious hero whom we had lost by declining to send her representative to attend the Duke of Wellington's funeral—Austria, too, which, it was no great exaggeration to say, owed her safety mainly to the victories of that great man. History showed that there were two men, who, more than any others, had saved the empire of Austria—one was the Duke of Wellington, and the other was John Sobieski—and to both these men she displayed her ingratitude. He did not bring this question forward as a party question, because the maintenance of the independence of Turkey ought to interest them all. He would say to hon. Gentlemen—are you Protestants? If so, he would show them that Protestants were better treated by the Turkish Government than by any other; to Roman Catholics he would say that there was no country in the world not Catholic itself where Catholics enjoyed such perfect toleration; Utilitarians he would remind that there were great and substantial advantages to be derived by England from Turkey remaining independent; if they were of the Peace party, he would say to them, maintain the independence of Turkey, for otherwise there is every probability of Europe being involved in a general war. Those who sat on the Opposition benches he would remind of the ancient policy of their party, and of the speech of their leader during the last Session, which did him infinite honour, and in which he (Mr. Disraeli) showed the necessity of maintaining Turkish independence; those who belonged to the, present Government he would remind of their former sentiments, and he would ask all to remember the noble conduct of the Turks, and how, having first saved those poor refugees from death, they afterwards, by the advice of England, set them at liberty, when they might have won the favour and conciliated the support of powerful neighbours, by detaining them in captivity. The Government of this country—representing the feelings and wishes of the people of this country—backed Turkey in her gallant refusal to deliver up those men We had advised her throughout—we were now bound in honour to see that she did not suffer for that chivalrous conduct in which we counselled her, and promised her our support. He was sorry to see that a certain portion of the press of the metropolis viewed the question in a different light. He considered we were bound to uphold the independence of Turkey upon the faith of treaties; but he now found that in the London newspapers the partition of Turkey was calmly discussed, as if such a thing were admissible, even if it wore our interest—which it clearly was not. The only advantage we could hope from it would be a passage to Egypt, which we now had. He trusted England would never give its consent to any proceeding so flagitious, and that the good understanding which he had heard with so much pleasure existed between England and France, would he exerted in behalf of Turkish independence; for it was no less the interest of France than of England that her independence should be maintained, and the faith of treaties observed. And here he would take leave to observe that the French nation and the French Government, ever since the peace, had adhered to treaties most creditably—to treaties which, according to French views, it was disagreeable to observe; and this honourable fidelity to international compacts had not been evinced by either Russia, Prussia, or Austria, which had all repeatedly and openly violated the treaty of Vienna, and thereby endangered the peace of Europe. He hoped France and England would unite together to protect Turkey, and to induce that Power to do everything which could be done to ameliorate the condition of the Christian population in the Turkish territories. He believed the Turkish Government was well disposed to listen to such advice; it had shown a disposition to do so, and he had not the least doubt that if such advice were tendered in a proper and amicable mode—not a demand in a peremptory way by an ultimatum—not made by the general of a largo army, with insolent threats, but friendly advice—if so, he bad no doubt that the Turkish Government would at once attend to that advice, and by ameliorating the condition of its Christian subjects, and attaching them to its rule, consolidate the internal strength of the empire, and give a fresh proof to the other Powers of Europe of its desire to conciliate their good opinion.


said, that while he admitted that be could not fully adopt some of his noble Friend's observations, nevertheless, with much cordiality, he would second the Motion. He thought that the question relating to Montenegro had considerable importance attached to it. Here was a small mountain district, about sixty miles long, and between thirty and thirty-five broad, placed almost upon the frontier of the great Turkish dominions, and nominally conquered at as early a date as the year 1398, though it was rather surrounded by conquered territories than itself subdued. The district had derived much consideration, as well from its peculiar situation as from the character of its people. A portion of its territory abutted upon the Adriatic, thus affording to the Power possessing it excellent harbours. The circumstance, however, which invested this small district with most interest was the peculiar and indomitable character of the inhabitants, who had always succeeded in maintaining themselves in a state of quasi independence. The plain truth was, that the Turkish dominion bad always existed in Montenegro de jure, but hardly ever de facto. The inhabitants were a wild and courageous people, and had preserved then independence, more or less, down to the present day. Another singular circumstance in the history of Montenegro was, that Powers had affected to cede it by treaty who bad never had it in their possession. Thus it was ceded to Turkey by Venice in 1718, and by the Emperor Leopold in 1791, without either party having themselves over been in possession of it. He did not believe, however, that the Turks would ever have interfered with the Montenegrins if they had kept themselves quiet; but like other brave mountainous races, they wore little civilised, being governed rather by customs and traditions than by laws. This being so, they were continually descending into the plains to destroy Turkish harvests, and committing other outrages in the Turkish territory. By this conduct, therefore, they made themselves extremely obnoxious to their neighbours. For a long period of history, however, dating from the time of the Czar Peter, the authority of the Russian monarch had been more or less acknowledged by the Montenegrins—and hence, in 1812, having applied to Russia for assistance, they received it—and in the Austrian and Russian war, towards the end of the last century, the population of Montenegro gave effective aid to Russia It was on account, then, of this influence of Russia, that he considered it essential that English diplomacy should be made to interfere. For, on the one hand, if the large Turkish army which had been sent to the frontier should possess itself of Montenegro, the greatest excitement would naturally prevail among the Christian population of that part of the Turkish dominions. And, on the other hand, there was the precedent of the year 1716, when a large Turkish army of 30,000 men was destroyed by a small band of mountaineers—a fact which ought to induce those who wore friendly to the existence of that Empire to take the question into their most serious consideration, and this, he owned, appeared to him the more probable result of the two. Thus he thought it would have been very well if the united diplomatic action of France and England at Constantinople had been brought to bear to prevent that army from departing for Montenegro. And he could not help thinking that if England had been as active during the last year at Constantinople as she had been during former years, that Turkey would have been saved the great outlay on account of this expedition. He hoped that the efforts of the British Government would be directed to maintain the Montenegrins in that state of modified independence in which they had so long sustained themselves. The European Christian subjects of Turkey in general had no taste or desire for the bureaucratic system of either Austria or Russia; they preferred the temporary inconvenience and temporary degradation of submitting to a heathen monarch, to being incorporated with either of those despotic Governments, when their present individuality, and their hopes of future independence, would be alike annihilated. He believed it might be very possible that Her Majesty's Government would be unable to lay the papers asked for on the table of the House, for the reason that negotiations had not as yet come to a conclusion. Nevertheless, he trusted that they would assert that it was the duty of this country to protect the Turkish territory from the invasion of either Austria or Russia. He trusted that British influence would be supported at Constantinople as it had heretofore been by the distinguished representative of the Crown who had been for some time residing in this country. He was also glad to see that the interests of France were about to be represented at Vienna by M. De Bourqueney, a gentleman who had been long known and esteemed in this country. He rejoiced to see that gentleman restored to the diplomatic service of France, because he knew him to be at the same time a friend of England. As to the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire, which had lately been alluded to, the ways of Providence were not as our ways; such a catastrophe could not occur without convulsing Europe to its very centre, and the interests of England required that every means should be employed to avert that event.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies or Extracts of any Communications addressed by the Austrian or Turkish Governments to the British Government on the subject of the question of Montenegro, and of any replies thereto.


Sir, I trust that my noble Friend who has brought forward this Motion will not feel it necessary to press for the papers asked for, as the negotiations on the subject have not yet come to a termination. I will, however, follow my noble Friend in his remarks upon the subject to which he professes in his notice to call the attention of the House—namely, the affairs of Turkey as affected by the contest now proceeding in Montenegro. I agree in the general principles laid down by my noble Friend, that this country ought to be cautious to maintain the independence and integrity of Turkey. Turkey has long formed an important part of the European system. Its independence and integrity have been repeatedly affirmed by treaties, and sanctioned by a convention of the general Powers of Europe, no longer ago than in 1840. I trust that that independence may long be maintained, and I own I could not conceive any greater calamity falling on Europe at the present time than that the necessity should arise of considering what should be done in such a case as of a proposal for the dismemberment of Turkey. I have seen, therefore, with much pain, the speculations that have been recently put forth upon this subject. In my opinion we could not attempt the dismemberment of Turkey by force and aggression without committing a great crime and breach of faith towards Turkey, and a violation of all the ties which bind nations together. I trust there is no Englishman who wishes to be a party to such transactions as those which accompanied the partition of Poland. But if unfortunately Turkey should fall to pieces from her own weakness, a question of very-great importance might arise; and for my own part I own that it appears to me a question of such great gravity that I can hardly expect it to be solved without exciting a war in Europe. I am afraid, looking at the position of the different Powers, that it would be hardly possible to provide for such a case without producing in Europe such a preponderance of one Power as would naturally raise the envy and opposition of all the other European States, and without producing such a state of anarchy in Asia as it is fearful to contemplate. For my own part I think, therefore, that on grounds of right, of international law, of faith towards our ally, and also on grounds of general policy and expediency, the maintenance of the integrity and independence of Turkey should be a great and ruling point in the foreign policy of England. Sir, with respect to the transactions which have lately occurred, I will state to the House, without going into the particulars of these negotiations, the general outline of what has occurred with respect to Montenegro. I will not enter into questions relating to the other Powers; but with regard to the relations between Austria and Turkey I think I can give at least some explanations to the House. The little territory of Montenegro has been, as my noble Friend described it, inhabited by a very hardy race of mountaineers belonging to a Christian Church, but certainly departing from the Christian precepts, for it has been their custom to commit robberies upon and to pillage their neighbours, and to enrich themselves by the most lawless proceedings. However, although acknowledged by the treaty of Carlovicz and several others—the latest being that of Sistow—to be under the sovereignty of Turkey, they have for a long period maintained a de facto independence. For about a century this independence appears to have been acknowledged by Russia. There is this difference between the relations of Austria and those of Russia towards Montenegro—that while Austria has at all times, and up to the present day, acknowledged that Montenegro was subject to Turkey, the Russian Government does not appear to have acknowledged any such claim on the part of the Sultan of Turkey, but, on the contrary, has treated Montenegro as an independent State. For a long time the bishops of Montenegro, who have combined both the civil and the ecclesiastical power, have been accustomed to resort to St. Petersburg, to the Russian patriarch, to obtain investiture, instead of going to the Patriarch of Constantinople, or any other patriarch of the Greek Church equal in authority—indeed, perhaps, as to the Patriarch of Constantinople, superior in authority—to the Russian Patriarch. On the occasion of the last vacancy in the see, by the death of the late bishop, who is generally described as having been a very remarkable man, his nephew went to St. Petersburg, there declared that he did not wish to enter into the ecclesiastical state, and that his friends and follow countrymen in Montenegro were willing to acknowledge him as chief without his holding the episcopal dignity, and proposed that he should therefore rule the people as an independent chief, and that another person should become the Bishop of Montenegro. To this arrangement the Emperor of Russia appears to have lent a willing ear; and, according to the statement of the Russian Government, the Emperor dismissed the young man with many words of civility, advising him at the same time not to attack his neighbours, or to commit any acts of aggression upon them, but to live in peace with Turkey and all the other countries near him. This young prince does not appear to have profited by that advice, for we very soon hear of attacks that were made by the people of Montenegro upon the neighbouring villages and towns in Turkey—of property being destroyed and houses burned to the ground; and evidence was given of the inhabitants having been injured, and in some instances killed, by those who called themselves the subjects of this chief of Montenegro. The Turkish Government, as I think most justifiably, determined to meet this aggression, and to punish those who had been guilty of those attacks upon the subjects of the Sultan; but in doing so it adopted the plan of attempting the complete conquest of Montenegro. It raised a very large force of 50,000 men; it placed a very able chief at the head of it, Omer Pacha, who is supposed to have promised the Sultan that he would utterly subdue what the Sultan considered the rebellious part of his dominions. It appears to the British Government, and likewise to the French Government, that this was an imprudent proceeding on the part of the Porte. In the first place, on a consideration of the state of the financial resources of Turkey, and of its military forces, it was thought that it would be an effort that must be accompanied by a great drain on those resources, and, therefore, was in itself an act not justified by prudence; in the next place, it appears very probable, as my hon. Friend who seconded the Motion (Mr. Monckton Milnes) said, that the destruction and the utter subjugation, and probably the driving away of a great part of the 100,000 inhabitants of Montenegro, would excite great alarm on the part of the Christian population of the neighbouring districts, and that a religious war might thus be excited. A representation and friendly advice to the Sultan, not to attempt this expedition on so large a scale, was made and given under the Government of the Earl of Derby, and was repeated by me when I held the seals of the Foreign Office. I believe that the French Government, which has generally taken the same view as the British Government has taken, gave at the same time similar advice. However, the expedition went on. I will not now enter into the military events that followed, but the next matter of great importance to which the attention of Her Majesty's Government was called was the mission of Prince Leiningen to the Porte. Whatever may be the object of that mission, it was evident from the first commu- nication that was made by the Austrian Government that Prince Leiningen was instructed to place the demands of Austria before the Porte in a very peremptory manner, and while on the one hand it was promised that, if those demands were complied with, the friendly relations which have hitherto existed between the two countries, but which had for some time past been impaired, would be resumed on their former footing, on the other hand it was stated that the most grave consequences might follow from the refusal of those demands. Her Majesty's Government thought it necessary, on the intimation of such demands, to have at once a frank explanation with the Government of the Emperor of Austria. We communicated to the Government of the Emperor of Austria the view we had always taken of the policy of maintaining the independence and integrity of Turkey. We pointed out, without entering into the particular merits of the demands that were made, the danger of anything like a menace to Turkey, and of a collision between the forces of the two Empires. I must say that the explanations we received from Austria showed that, whatever might be the necessity for making those demands at the present time, Austria was animated, according to assurances to which we gave full credit, by the same desire as ourselves of maintaining the independence of Turkey, and expressed the strongest wish to be enabled to restore those amicable relations so very long maintained between them, and of adhering to the policy of preserving the independence of Turkey, which is known to be the policy of that great Empire. The demands made by Austria were of various kinds, to some of which I need hardly refer; but with respect to Montenegro her demand did not depart from the provisions of the previous treaties to which I have referred, nor did it depart, as might have been expected from a Power that has always maintained the greatest respect for the international law of Europe, in principle from the claims that might be justified by that law. It was said that though Montenegro de jure belonged to Turkey, yet for a long period of time the independence of the mountaineers had not been disturbed—that the invasion of a great army could not but raise disturbances on the frontier of Austria—that a great number of persons would take refuge across the frontier, so as to make the maintenance of tranquillity on that frontier extremely difficult, and make it necessary for Austria to keep up a great force in order to maintain the tranquillity of her dominions. She stated likewise the danger of a religious war to which I have alluded, and which it was conceived would cause more danger than anything else. She therefore wished, that while Turkey did not depart from the maintenance of her title—while she should punish those who committed acts of pillage in the Turkish territories—she should look, as the end of the controversy, to the restoration of the quasi independence of Montenegro, and the maintenance of the independent power which Montenegro had hitherto held. With regard to two portions of territory, Kleck and Satorina, an allegation was made on the part of Austria of a complicated nature, and which depends upon complicated evidence. Those portions of territory are intermingled with the territory of Austria, and they are so intermingled because they formerly belonged to the republic of Ragusa, while other portions of territory given to Austria by the treaty of Vienna were formerly portions of the republic of Venice. The Austrian Government has always stated that the position of those intermingled territories by the Turkish Government was very inconvenient to her; and so long ago as in 1832 and 1833 she endeavoured to obtain, by purchase from Turkey, the sovereignty of this small portion of territory. Having failed in the negotiation at that time, and never having been able to accomplish her object since, she claims rights which she says were exercised by the Venetian republic, and enforced by the maintenance of ships of war upon the coast; that while the land is allowed to be the property of Turkey, no encroachments should be made on the coast for the purpose of trade or commerce by Turkey. With regard to this subject, as with regard to other subjects I mention, I am not stating that Austria is well founded in all her allegations; I am only endeavouring to give the House some insight into the nature of her claims, and the reasons which governed the mission of Prince Leiningen to Constantinople. Another complaint which was made by Austria was, that some Hungarian refugees, who had remained in Turkey from the time the war in Hungary ceased, were not only countenanced by Turkey, but allowed to serve in the army of Omar Pacha, and held distinguished posts in that army, and, being close to the frontier of Austria, were necessarily a cause of much annoyance to Aus- tria. With respect to the Hungarian refugees who were permitted to leave Turkey, but had remained there, the Turkish Government had promised to make some explanation why Turkey had acted in a manner that was contrary to an engagement—not a written engagement, but. a verbal engagement—into which she had entered with reference to them. Added to these demands, there are other questions with respect to Austrian subjects who are alleged to have suffered wrongs, and who have not received redress from the Turkish Government, and for whom the Austrian Government now demands reparation or compensation. Such was the general nature of the demands which Prince Leiningin was ordered to lay before the Porte I cannot say—not being called upon to make any allegation either as to the justice or injustice of those demands, in a particular manner—I cannot say that there was any one of them that could be said to affect the independence of the Sultan, and which were not founded at least upon some allegation on which the Austrian Government might fairly rely as a Government not unfriendly to that independence. Sir, I am unable to inform the House as to the exact arrangements that have been entered into. I know that these questions were placed before the Turkish Government, and that for some days there was a great deal of consultation on them; and we have been informed by our Ambassador at the Court of Vienna that the Austrian Government is satisfied; that the mission of Prince Leiningen has been successful, and I trust those differences are now at an end. I trust that, such being the case, the relations between those countries will again be placed on their former intimate and friendly footing. With respect to other questions to which my noble Friend has incidentally alluded, I do not think that any public purpose could be served by my entering at present into them, as there are unfortunately, questions still pending which are of vital importance to the territory of Turkey. Our course throughout those proceedings has been, and our course throughout any future proceedings will be, to give Turkey the advice that is best calculated to maintain her honour and her independence, and at the same time not to expose her to the rude shock of war, for which she might not be at present prepared. No man more than Lord Stratford do Redcliffe—who is already proceeding on his voyage there—will enforce this opinion, that by the good government of the Christian subjects of the Porte, by the enforcement of regular Jaws, by the maintenance of a system similar to that which prevails in civilised European communities, and by adopting and enforcing just principles, she ought to give her Christian subjects no reason to complain that they are not living unde a sovereign of the same faith as themselves. I believe, as stated by my hon. Friend who seconded this Motion, that this much is perfectly practicable; I believe it is quite possible for Turkey—discarding some of those notions that belong to times of conquest, when the Turks first got possession of those very territories—to give to its Christian subjects quite as good a government as they would be likely to obtain from those sovereigns that are the neighbours of the Porte. If she conducts herself in that way, and takes the friendly advice of the Ambassador that is now proceeding to the Porte, I need hardly say that Turkey will always find a faithful ally in Great Britain. We have no object to serve other than a most friendly one—we covet none of her provinces—we wish to share in none of her territories or provinces. It is our interest, as we conceive, in common with all the Powers of Europe, that Turkey should be maintained in its integrity, and that likewise it should be governed in such a manner as not to be visited by those insurrections, by those perpetually recurring weaknesses, and by those dissensions which have often offered the best temptation to the foreign foe to be her aggressor. I trust that the other Powers of Europe will take a similar view to ourselves. Many of the dangers which threatened her very lately, I trust are now passed, and I have the greatest confidence that the dangers which still remain in suspense may, by fair negotiation, and by a reasonable consideration of all the consequences, be brought to a pacific solution, and that the maintenance of the present territorial distribution of Europe be preserved. We have had frequent communications with the French Government during those negotiations, and I am happy to find that, with the exception of one question, which I think it is not necessary to raise at present—a question in winch we do not take an immediate interest, and which has reference to the holy places—we have acted in perfect concurrence with the French Government, and I trust that all our expectations will be accomplished.


said, he must be allowed to express his satisfaction at the explanation which had been given by the noble Lord; but he should reserve to himself the right of again referring to the subject, should circumstances render such a course necessary.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.