§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
The QUEEN'S Message read, as follows—
Her Majesty, deeming it expedient to provide for any additional expense which may arise in consequence of the War in which Her Majesty is now engaged against the Emperor of Russia, and relying on the experienced zeal and affection of Her faithful Commons, trusts they will make provision accordingly.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Mr. Bouverie, I rise for the purpose of asking the Committee to agree to a Vote of 3,000,000l. in Supply, usually denominated a Vote of Credit. In performing this task, I think it quite unnecessary to travel through the negotiations which preceded the breaking out of hostilities, or to the causes of the war in which we now find ourselves engaged. I am ready to acknowledge at all times the willingness with which this House concurred with Her Majesty in recog- 599 nising the necessity of undertaking that war, and the readiness with which it has granted the supplies which have been asked for by the Ministers of the Crown. I have likewise to acknowledge that—having at the commencement of these hostilities stated to the House that it would tend greatly to impede the public service if questions were asked from time to time with respect to the mode of carrying on the war—the Members of this House have been remarkably forbearing in putting questions which might have embarrassed the Government with respect to the conduct of naval and military operations. I have therefore, in the first place, to return the thanks of the Government to this House for the support we have received in the arduous task which we have had to undertake; and, in the next place, I have to state that—which, indeed, is well known to the House—that large expeditions have been fitted out; that, with regard to our Navy, two large fleets of Her Majesty occupy the Baltic and the Black Seas—that they are undisputed masters of those seas, and that the enemy has not ventured to come out of their ports to encounter Her Majesty's arms in either of those seas, which have been hitherto considered as the peculiar domain of the Russian navy. While it must be admitted that this circumstance is gratifying, it no doubt would have been more gratifying to our gallant seamen if they had been able, in fair battle, to measure their prowess against that of the enemy, and to have reaped some of those laurels which have been so amply the share of our forefathers. But, Sir, I may perhaps be allowed to state, somewhat more in detail, the increase which has been made to our naval force in consequence of the Votes of this House since the beginning of the year 1853. Under the head of first, second, and third rates, of steam-vessels we had, on the 1st of January, 1853, only one; on the 1st of July, 1854, we had seventeen. With respect to sailing line-of-battle ships, we had in January, 1853, eleven; we have now eighteen. Therefore, while the steam-vessels of war have increased from one to seventeen, the sailing vessels have increased from eleven to eighteen. The whole number of steam-vessels, which were then 100, are now 139, and the sailing vessels, which were 109, are now 120; and the total number has been increased from 209 to 259. The seamen afloat have also been augmented from 28,189 to 47,595, and the marines 600 from 5,721 to 9,605; so that the total force of these services, which, on the 1st of January, 1853, was 33,910, is now 57,200. With regard to our Army likewise, we have been enabled, by the great exertions which have been made, to place on the Turkish shores a military force exceeding 30,000 in number, a great part of which was lately at Varna and its neighbourhood. I shall, of course, not notice in this House the various criticisms that have been made with respect to the operations of our fleets and armies. As I have already said, great forbearance has been displayed on this subject. The operations of the war have, on our parts, but just commenced, and no person who is acquainted with naval and military operations would agree in those remarks that have been made, depreciatory either of the conduct of any of our admirals or that of any of our generals. But it is impossible not to notice in this place, that while our exertions have been directed to making preparations for war, that ally whom we went to succour—the Turkish army—has performed acts of valour and prowess which are deserving of the highest admiration. In the course of last year, when negotiations were in suspense, it was frequently represented that if we went to the assistance of Turkey we should be extending a useless aid to a decaying State—that we should be seeking to raise an empire already fallen; and, to refer to the language of the Foreign Minister of the Emperor of Russia, it was said, and said by him no later than at Olmutz, that it required but a filip from the Emperor of Russia to overthrow the whole Ottoman empire. So far is it from this being the case that we find the Emperor of Russia, having occupied the Principalities at first with only a small force, and having devoted a whole year to preparations with the avowed purpose that in the month of May in the present year the operations of the campaign would begin with the siege and capture of Silistria, the Russian army which crossed the Danube for that purpose (whose numbers, though not reported at first with specific accuracy, are now stated to have amounted to 80,000 men), have beep. driven back and repulsed from the outworks of that fortress; and after a siege in which feats of valour were performed worthy of the greatest examples of siege operations either in ancient or in modern times—worthy of Saguntum or of Sara- 601 gossa—the Russian army has been compelled ignominiously to abandon that object of their attack. Although I have it not in my power to recount any actual operations of war, one circumstance has taken place of too much importance to be passed over in this cursory notice of the present situation of affairs. It was thought by many persons that, however motives of policy might induce the Governments of England and France to combine in an alliance against the aggression of Russia, yet that the wars in which the two nations have so frequently been engaged had left such feelings of national animosity that the two countries could not be induced to any cordial mutual co-operation either by land or sea. We have seen, however, not only the armies of the two nations combined in the neighbourhood of Constantinople with the most friendly feelings, but we have also seen within the last few days a considerable French military force embark on board English line-of-battle ships:—in short, every circumstance that comes under our observation indicates that nothing can be more cordial and friendly than the feeling displayed by the armed troops and seamen of the two nations. While it is impossible not deeply to regret the interruption of peace, still I must say that the establishment of such cordial feelings between two nations which have so often encountered each other in arms, and whose history teems with accounts of many a well-fought field on either side—the establishment of cordial feelings with a nation so near and so powerful as France, is in itself a great security for the future maintenance of the amicable relations between the two nations whom we should ever wish to see united.
In referring now to the present state of affairs, and the necessity which exists for this Vote, I shall refrain altogether going into any details as to the services for which this large sum may be required. With the plan of operations undertaken in Turkey, the Commissariat expenses may amount to a very considerable sum; the Ordnance expenses will also, no doubt, be much greater than they have hitherto been. Some expenses must likewise be incurred for the Navy and for transports—especially for the later operations—which have not been included in any of the Votes which have passed this House. But it is quite impossible to frame anything like a clear estimate of what those services may require, as they will greatly 602 depend upon the nature of the operations which our admirals and our generals may think fit to undertake. Under these circumstances I feel it would not be consistent with our duty to go into any particular estimates with respect to the application of the sums for which I have now asked. Speaking generally, I should think, so far as we can at present foresee, that nearly 2,000,000l. will be absorbed in the services to which I have alluded. But we may have other calls upon the resources of the nation, and more especially, among other things, a question has been raised, or rather suggestions have been made, that a large body of Turkish troops might be joined with our Army, and receive pay from the British Government. That is one way in which it may be thought fit to apply part of the resources which I have named; but I avowedly ask for this Vote with the view that Her Majesty's Government may apply the money from time to time for services rendered necessary by the prosecution of the war. I ask the Vote confessedly without an estimate, on the ground that as the usual time of the prorogation of Parliament has nearly arrived, we may be enabled, while Parliament is not sitting, to direct the resources with which we ask you to intrust us to the attainment of such success as may lead to an honourable peace.
I shall now touch upon two other points, and shall do so because, it being near the time of the prorogation of Parliament, I think it is fitting to give to this House as much information as, consistently with the public duty of the Government, I may be able to afford. When I addressed the House last year, nearly at a similar period to the present, and stated that negotiations were then proceeding, I was above all careful not to say anything which would tend to disturb the train of those negotiations or to diminish in the least degree the chance of their success. We are now more certainly at liberty in that respect, and our exertions must now be undisguisedly directed in a different manner to the attaining by the force of our arms and the strength of our alliances that just and honourable peace both for Turkey and for ourselves which we have been unable to procure by our negotiations. In adverting to the present state of Europe, every one is naturally anxious to learn what will be the part taken by Austria on this very important question. I have always maintained that whatever might be the interest of 603 England and France in defending and protecting Turkey, the interests of Austria were much greater. It is impossible to conceive of the Emperor of Russia, if he should succeed in what must now be considered as his designs, namely, the effective control, if not acknowledged dominion, over the Principalities, and an increased and predominant influence in Turkey, without his having at the same time a complete command over the Government of Austria. I cannot conceive how the independence of Austria could be maintained if Russia were to extend her power in the way in which she now evidently intends to do. But in order fairly to consider this question, it is necessary to bear in mind the difficulties with which Austria must have to deal, now that upon more than one side of her empire the Russian armies can approach to no great distance from her capital; and that it would have been imprudent in her to commit herself to arms against Russia unless she had been fully prepared. We must also remember that with regard to two of the kingdoms submitting to her sway, those kingdoms have been in very recent years so greatly disturbed as to make the peril of entering into hostilities greater than it would have been had no such state of things existed. It has, therefore, been the policy of Austria, while declaring that she concurs with us in our objects, to attempt as long as possible by negotiations to obtain a settlement of the question in dispute. Austria has more than once declared that the principles which Her Majesty's Government has laid down, and the objects which Her Majesty had in view, meet with her full approbation; but that she does not despair of Russia evacuating the Principalities and agreeing to terms of arrangement which would secure the maintenance of the balance of power in Europe. Very lately Austria has sent to the Emperor of Russia a message—which has been published in the newspapers within the last few days—asking Russia to evacuate the Principalities—asking her to fix a time for that evacuation at no remote period. With this message Austria transmitted to St. Petersburg the protocol of April, agreed to at Vienna between the Four Powers, in which it is declared that the object of the Four Powers was, that Turkey should be attached to the system of Europe; that that kingdom should form part of the general balance of power in Europe; and that arrangements ought to be carried into 604 effect by the general consent and concurrence of the other Powers of Europe in order to obtain that settlement. An answer has been received from the Government of Russia—an answer which, for my own part, I should hardly call evasive—but which pretended in some sort to be a compliance with the request of Austria. But in the first place Russia does not profess herself ready to fix any time for the evacuation of the Principalities. She declares in effect, that now that war has been declared, that now that the English and French are engaged in hostilities against her, and are superior to her in the Black Sea and in the Baltic, where her fleets do not leave their ports, that there remain only the seat of war in the Principalities and the neighbourhood of the Danube where she can hope to restore the balance, and by the success of her arms obtain victory for herself. She therefore declines evacuating the Principalities. She declares, to be sure, that she is ready to adopt the principles contained in the protocol of Vienna of the 9th of April, those principles being plainly declared to be the evacuation of the Principalities, the granting of privileges and rights to the Christian inhabitants of the Sultan by the Sultan, in such a manner as to ensure these rights; and likewise that a treaty or convention should be entered into between the Four Powers and Turkey assuring those rights. Now, without criticising this reply, there is this objection to it, which all those who have read the protocol will readily admit to be a fair one, and that is, there is a complete omission of that which is the essential part and foundation of the protocol—namely, that Turkey should in future form part of the general system of Europe. That question is the one which is at the bottom of the differences on which Russia and Turkey were engaged in the last war; it is the foundation of the war in which we find ourselves at present engaged. Ever since the victories of the Empress Catharine, the Government of Russia has considered the relations between Russia and Turkey so peculiar that Turkey could not form any alliance with other Powers except with the general supervision of Russia, and that, the greater part of the subjects of Turkey being Christians, they were to look to the Emperor of Russia as their protector and supporter, in spite of and in contradiction, if need be, of their own Government. The object of the Four Powers 605 is, on the contrary, that the Sultan having the right, which he has exercised, of confirming by solemn acts the privileges of his Christian subjects, should be admitted to form part of our general system, should be permitted to govern his own people by the exercise of those sovereign rights which belong to sovereignty in itself, and, forming a part of the general system of Europe, should not look for protection solely to Russia, but should look to the Powers of Europe, singly or united, to maintain him, as they maintain the other States of Europe in their possession. Such, however, being the answer which the Emperor of Russia has given, the Government of Austria—which had informed us of what they intended to do in each of three cases—namely, of the reply being affirmative, negative, or evasive—has considered this reply as evasive, and has asked the Governments of England and France to communicate to her what is their opinion of the proposal which has thus been made. I should have said that not only does the Emperor of Russia require that England and France should be parties to any arrangement by which the Principalities should be evacuated, but that an armistice should be concluded by which we should not by our troops or our fleets in the Black Sea—and I suppose in the Baltic—attack his troops or his fleets while he is evacuating the Principalities. Our answer is, that we cannot admit that this proposal of Russia affords any grounds for peace, and that we must continue to obtain by the force of those armies and fleets which are already engaged in the war such conditions as we may deem necessary for a just, an honourable, and a safe peace. With respect to Austria and the part she may take when she knows our answer, all I can say is, that, although she might be mistaken as to her policy—although I think she has been mistaken in not joining sooner and more frankly with the Western Powers in endeavouring to curb the ambition of Russia—I cannot believe she will forfeit the engagements into which she has entered. Austria has entered into engagements, not only with the Western Powers, but with Turkey. She has declared to the Western Powers, that if the Principalities are not evacuated by Russia, she will use forcible means in order to compel their evacuation. She has stipulated, in a convention with the Sultan of Turkey, that she will endeavour to secure the evacuation of the Principalities by negotiation; but if these ne- 606 gotiations should fail, then that she will resort to other means, and that she will be ready to furnish the number of troops necessary for that purpose. I conceive from these declarations and by these engagements that Austria will be bound to take part in the attempt to drive back Russia from the unjust aggression which she has attempted. Whether Austria may act with that hesitation and delay which have been unfortunately already prolonged too much, or should attempt to gain from St. Petersburg some better and some more satisfactory assurances, I am unable to say. We have, of course, no control over the councils of the Emperor of Austria. With respect to the policy of Austria I have no doubt; neither have I any doubt that she will honourably fulfil her engagements; but, with the difficult circumstances which surround her, with but a poor half-and-half support from the kingdom of Prussia—that she may think it necessary to attempt once more to obtain a favourable answer to her representations at St. Petersburg I cannot say. I have stated this much in order that the House may be in possession of the actual facts of the case so far as I can afford the information. I have stated some things which have not recently taken place, but have also stated the answer which we propose to give to Austria. There has been as yet no formal communication from the Court of Austria on the subject of the answer of Russia; I am, therefore, only speaking of what is contemplated and intended by the British Government when that answer shall have been received.
But, Sir, I think it fair to the House, though on a former occasion I refused, and must refuse now, to bind the Government in any way with respect to the conditions of peace to which Her Majesty's Government would agree, because the conditions of peace must always depend upon the state of the belligerents at the time when negotiations are entered into—yet I think it is fair that I should state what I think is the nature of the conditions which I consider would be absolutely necessary to justify us in assenting to any treaty of peace with Russia. While the negotiations were going on last year, if the Sultan's Ministers had thought proper to advise him to agree to the Menchikoff note, or if at a later period they had advised him to agree to the Vienna note without alteration or subsequent explanation, I believe the people of this country, seeing that the Turkish Government was satisfied to enter 607 into these engagements, and to take the assurances thus offered, would have been well pleased that no war should have broken out, and that the continuance of peace, for a time at least, should have been secured. But the Turkish Government having failed to accept those terms, and having declared that the proposed conditions threatened the independence of Turkey—having refused at all risks and at all hazards, while her alliances were uncertain and her forces were considered by no means equal to those of Russia, to yield to conditions which she thought ignominious, her position is now entirely changed. We are engaged in war—engaged in support of Turkey, with the view of defending her from aggression, and it behoves us to see in any treaty of peace which we may make that we do not leave Turkey in as bad a condition as, or possibly even in a worse condition than, when we promised her our succour and assistance. Let the House consider for a moment what are the dangers to Turkey of a treaty of peace similar to those which existed previous to the continuance of this war. That question has been elucidated by the very clear and masterly despatch of the noble Lord now at the head of Her Majesty's Government, written soon after the Treaty of Adrianople was signed. I intend to read but one passage from the despatch; but that document is one which exhibits those dangers in the strongest light. The despatch states—The modes of domination may be various, although all equally irresistible. The independence of a State may be overthrown, and its subjection effectually secured, without the presence of a hostile force, or the permanent occupation of its soil. Under the present treaty the territorial acquisitions of Russia are small, it must be admitted, in extent, although most important in their character. They are commanding positions far more valuable than the possession of barren provinces and depopulated towns, and better calculated to rivet the fetters by which the Sultan is bound.The despatch goes on to show in what manner this power is secured to Russia. For many years—five-and-twenty years—Russia was content, without any increase of territory, and without bringing her augmented influence to the arbitrement of war, to rest satisfied with the conditions of the treaty. These conditions gave very great power to the Emperor of Russia; and now that the position has been changed it behoves us to consider, not the securities into which he had entered under the Treaty of Adrianople, but the securities which may be had 608 from a Power having had the advantages of the Treaty of Adrianople, and having, moreover, the will and the disposition to push those advantages to the utmost, and to extend her influence even to the subjugation of Turkey. Now, Sir, I say we are justified in so considering the question, because, in the first place, the occupation of the Principalities by Russia was effected under the most flimsy pretences. In the next place, we know, from correspondence which has been produced before the House, that the Emperor of Russia had a fixed idea in his mind that the empire of Turkey was about to fall, and that her neighbours were justified in securing a part of the spoil to themselves. We know more particularly that the possession of those provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia by Russia, under the title of a protectorate with nominal chiefs, was a part of the scheme which the Emperor of Russia had formed in his own mind. We know, moreover, that after a long reign—exhibiting, I must say, great forbearance in many instances of temptation—forbearance in not interfering with the affairs of other nations of Europe—forbearance in not attempting conquests—of the two parties in Russia known by the names of the German party and the Muscovite party, the latter has recently obtained the sway, and that it is the fixed plan and purpose of that Muscovite party to establish what is called a Southern Russia, and that the seat of that Empire of Southern Russia is to be Constantinople—I say, with the knowledge of such a state of affairs, we ought to endeavour to obtain valid securities against acts of aggression similar to that which has so recently taken place. I hold, therefore, that it is impossible that the arrangements which were made by the Treaty of Adrianople with respect to the Principalities shall again be renewed—arrangements which gives the Emperor of Russia a predominant voice in the political affairs of Wallachia and Moldavia—which gives him the power of control in cases where he thinks the affairs are not conducted to his satisfaction, and which, by the destruction of all the Turkish fortresses, gave him facility at any moment for occupying with his army the two provinces, containing 4,000,000 of inhabitants. I say that the integrity of Turkey and the balance of power in Europe could not be secured by reverting to the status quo ante bellum, which would confirm such arrangements as regards Russia and Turkey. But, Sir, 609 there is another mode in which the position of Russia is menacing to the independence and integrity of Turkey; the establishment of a great fortress, prepared with all the combinations of art and science, made as impregnable as it is possible for art and science to make it, and containing within its ports a very large fleet of line-of-battle ships, ready at any moment to come down with a favourable wind to the Bosphorus—that I consider is a position so menacing to Turkey, that no treaty of peace could be considered safe which left the Emperor of Russia in that same menacing position with respect to Turkey. I have thought it right to state, not the particular, but the general view of the Government with respect to the securities which we ought to obtain. What these special securities should be, in what manner they should he gained, and how they should be affirmed, is not a subject upon which I think I can go further than I have already done. I believe we shall be ready, as we have been ready, to communicate with the Government of France on this subject. I have every reason to believe that the views of the Government of the Emperor of France coincide with our own in this respect. We shall be ready to communicate also with the Government of Austria when it wishes to know our opinion with respect to such a settlement as in our opinion would be alone secure, honourable, and just. I must say—and I say it with regret—that with regard to those securities, I see no symptom of the Emperor of Russia at present being disposed—I will not say to grant conditions such as I have hinted at, or to give securities such as I have said are in our opinion desirable—I cannot see that he is disposed to depart in any respect from those demands which, when made by Prince Menchikoff were indignantly rejected by Turkey. In the great acquisitions which have been made by Russia from the time of the Empress Catharine, the same course of policy has uniformly been pursued. It was the adoption of this course of policy which at every treaty of peace secured to Russia increased territory. The Treaty of Kainardji secured—I will not say "secured," but—stipulated the independence of the Crimea. The following treaty and the following war made the Crimea a Russian province. Bessarabia has been added lately, and combined with it the command of the Danube in such a manner that Russia has been able to impede and obstruct the naviga- 610 tion of that great and important river—then followed the Treaty of Adrianople. At each step she has weakened Turkey; she has kept Turkey in that situation in which, without giving immediate alarm to Europe, she could dictate at Constantinople. Late years have seen a considerable change in the government of Turkey. I will not say that change has extended to all the interior, or to all the pashas and governors; but the Government of Turkey has seen that there are new and improved modes of government, consisting in dispensing equal justice to all her subjects, whatever might be their religion, which might make Turkey stronger as a Power than she had ever been while her power rested upon the ascendancy of the Mahomedan race, and the subjection and degradation of every other race. These great improvements in Turkey have excited the jealousy and apprehension of Russia. You will see that in no case has the Government of Russia, which has always pretended to be anxious for the extension of the privileges and the promotion of the good of the Christian subjects of Turkey, been favourable to those amendments and enlightened reforms which the Government of Turkey has carried out. On the contrary, the language of Russia has always been, "Turkey must fall unless her ancient Mahomedan maxims are kept in force—Turkey must fall unless her ancient Mahomedan system is kept up in full vigour—Turkey must fall unless the separation between the Mahomedan and the Christian population is duly preserved and strengthened." Such being the language of Russia, who can doubt what is the ultimate object of that Power. Going from step to step, augmenting her territory, increasing her influence, alienating the Christian subjects of the Porte from their allegiance, her final and ultimate object—which was commenced about the middle, or perhaps before the middle of the last century, and which may not be carried out for some time to come—must be the subjugation of the Ottoman empire and the absorption of a great part of it in her own dominions, while other portions which would remain nominally independent, would in effect be dependent upon her influence and her authority. Such a state of things would be so dangerous to Europe, that we, on our side, must not stop till we obtain some security against such a consummation being reached. She, on her side, I have no doubt, will not stop till she is assured by the events and by the calamities of war, 611 by such repulses as she lately met with at Silistria, and by other and more formidable losses and discomfitures, that the great project of her ambition cannot be execnted against the consent of Europe. It is in this mighty contest that Europe is engaged; and I think I should be deceiving this House if I were to tell them that, engaged with such an enemy, with a Sovereign of immense power, of great influence, and of great talents, we may hope for a speedy termination to such a contest. But of this I am sure, that if we were to shrink from that contest—if we were to patch up a peace which would be hollow and insecure, we should lose our Allies, we should lose the confidence and respect of Europe, and Russia would be placed, not in the position which she held previous to the breaking out of hostilities, not in the position which she held from 1829 to 1853, but in such a position that the Emperor of Russia would then justly be called that which by some of his courtiers and flatterers he has been already called—the arbiter of the destinies of Europe. It is our business to prevent that consummation. To prevent that consummation this House has willingly and almost unanimously, not only voted immense supplies, but has been content to forego those blessings of peace which were never more rightly called blessings than during the last few years. We have been willing to forego many advantages to our commerce, and many political and social improvements which might be delayed; but having made these present sacrifices for this great object, let us, at all events, take care fully to secure that object; let us see that, while we can trust with implicit confidence in the gallantry of those men who are placed at the head of our fleets and armies, no weakness in the councils of this kingdom shall prove that those councils are unworthy of the soldiers and sailors whom we have sent to fight the battles of their country on remote fields and on distant seas.
Sir, I have one word more to say with regard to the Vote which I shall put into your hands. I have been informed since I came into the House that it is the intention of an hon. Member to propose in some form or other—I care not in what form—some restriction upon the authority of the Crown with regard to the prorogation and with respect to the reassembling of Parliament. Sir, it is better to say at once that while the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Buckinghamshire 612 may be fairly entitled to contend in argument that it is expedient to have an autumnal Session, and while it may be the advice which the Ministers of the Crown themselves may give that Parliament should again meet in the course of the autumn, still it is not the part of the Ministers of the Crown to accept at the hands of Members of this House restrictions on their freedom in giving to the Sovereign such advice as they may think proper. Circumstances may make it very advisable to meet Parliament again soon, looking to the state of Europe or to new alliances that we may form; but, on the other hand, there may be circumstances in public affairs which would induce the Cabinet to think such a meeting inexpedient. We must be left at full liberty to give such advice as the circumstances of the times, at the time, may seem from us to demand. At the commencement of the century the Coalition Ministry of Lord Granville and Grey were asked by the Sovereign to bind themselves as to the advice which they might give him with regard to a particular measure to which he felt the strongest repugnance. Lord Granville and Lord Grey said that it would be unbecoming in them, as the advisers of the Crown, to bind and fetter themselves by any such engagement. The engagement which those noblemen refused to enter into with the Crown, we must refuse to enter into with the House of Commons. We must, as I have said, be at full liberty to give such advice to the Crown as we may think proper at the time. If we merit at all the confidence of this House—if we are to be intrusted with the disposal of the vast resources of this country—if we are to direct this great war, and negotiate with the Powers of Europe—we must be unfettered as to the time at which we may advise Her Majesty to take the advice of Parliament. There can be no unwillingness on our part to call for that advice, because we have experienced the support and the strength which, during this Session, we have derived in the face of Europe from the unanimous—the nearly unanimous—opinion of the representatives of the people. Anything that happened or was said before the meeting of Parliament might have been represented, and not unnaturally represented, as the impulse of a single meeting, or the opinion of a single individual; but the voice of Parliament could not be mistaken. That voice has pronounced that we are engaged 613 in a just and necessary war, and I am sure it will equally declare that that war is not to be concluded but by a just and honourable peace. Sir, I beg to place the Vote in your hands—That a sum, not exceeding three millions, be granted to Her Majesty, to enable Her Majesty to provide for any additional expense which may arise in consequence of the War in which Her Majesty is now engaged against the Emperor of all the Russias.
§ MR. ALCOCK
said, that notwithstanding the readiness of the House of Commons to vote vast supplies, there was a large portion of the people who believed that the Government had not conducted the war with becoming vigour. There was a general impression abroad that the way to cripple the power of Russia, and bring her to terms, was not to operate on the banks of the Danube, or in Asia, but to attack the Crimea, and take possession of her fleet in the Black Sea. Such was the opinion, among others, of M. Drouyn de Lhuys, Lord Lyndhurst, and the Times newspaper. It was also the opinion of General Macintosh, an officer of high reputation, who had lately published a book on the subject. But what did Lord Aberdeen say? He said, "I will not attack the Crimea at all. I don't intend to touch the Russian fleet in the Black Sea." These were not his exact words, but they expressed accurately enough his intentions; and only a short time ago he stated in another place that his object was to push the English army forward to the Balkan Mountains, with a view to encounter the Russians on the Danube. If such were really his recommendation, nothing could more clearly prove that he did not wish to attack the Crimea or any of the vulnerable parts of Russia. For what purpose had he sent out a cavalry force at an expense equal to one-half of the whole cost of the war up to the present time? Not surely to act against Russia in the Crimea, where alone she could be attacked with effect, because General Macintosh said that no cavalry were wanted in the Crimea, inasmuch as there was a Circassian cavalry force in the neighbourhood which might be employed at little or no expense, and which was equal, if not superior, to any regular cavalry in Europe. General Macintosh was of opinion that 150,000l. or 200,000l. distributed among the Circassians would enable them to assist effectually in the great object of attacking the Russians in the Crimea. So 614 also with respect to the Persians, who might readily be induced, by a gift of 100,000l., to send an army of 40,000 or 50,000 men to assist the Turks, and drive the Russians out of Georgia and Armenia, thus rescuing some of the finest countries in the world from the clutches of an ambitious and despotic Power.
§ MR. BANKES
said, that as one of those Members who had certainly not interrupted the Government during the progress of the war, he thought the present a fitting occasion to offer a few remarks. The statement of the noble Lord appeared to him to be, on the whole, of a satisfactory character; but he feared the noble Lord spoke his own sentiments only, not those of the Cabinet. The noble Lord had said, he understood there was some Member of the House whose intention it was to offer a proposition binding the Government to call Parliament together again in the autumn, and he added that he thought such a proposal would interfere unduly with the prerogative of the Crown. He (Mr. Bankes) knew not if any Member intended making such a proposition, but it appeared to him very desirable that there should be an autumnal Session, and he did not see why a respectful Address might not be presented to the Crown upon that subject, without in any way trenching on the Royal prerogative. The noble Lord had himself admitted, that he had hitherto found in the support of the House of Commons a tower of strength in the prosecution of the war; that tower of strength might be wanted again in the autumn, and might be found as beneficial then as it had been before. The noble Lord had made one remark, which appeared to deserve special notice. The noble Lord had intimated that a subsidy would probably be asked for our allies, the Turks. Now he (Mr. Bankes) was far from saying it would be improper to encourage the action of that brave people in this way; but after all they had heard in this House about the days of subsidies being at an end, this must be looked upon as a very important point, and it was one upon which he could not but think the Government ought not to enter without the immediate counsel of the House of Commons. When they were told of the vacillating conduct of the Court of Vienna, he would like to ask the noble Lord whether he was quite sure Austria was not waiting for a subsidy? And if she were, whether the noble Lord was inclined to show such an indulgence to that 615 Power as well as to the Turks? However disposed he might be, under the peculiar circumstances in which Turkey was placed, to be induced, by such arguments as might be brought forward by the Government, to accede to a proposition which should lead that gallant people still to continue the struggle which up to this time they had so gallantly maintained—however disposed he might be to such a course as respected Turkey, with regard to Austria he could hear of no such proposition with any degree of patience; and therefore he thought it would be most inexpedient for the Government in any way to sanction the principle of subsidies, without first procuring the sanction of the House of Commons. There were, then, in his view, many reasons why Parliament should not meet later than November; and it would be no attack upon the prerogative of the Crown, if that House should intimate that the condition of the country was such, either as regarded its internal or its external relations, that they humbly submitted to Her Majesty it was not desirable she should release Members from their duties for any considerable period. If such a proposition were made, so as not to assume the form of any attack upon the prerogative of the Crown, or upon the conduct of the Ministry in carrying on the war, he avowed that he should be very much disposed to accede to it. We were bound to remember that the people of this country had great confidence in that House, and, because they entertained that confidence, had hitherto gone with it in the course taken upon this question. If, however, that House were not sitting during many months, when the pressure of the war taxation was beginning to operate, the people might begin to doubt whether it was expedient at such a cost to maintain the bravery of a falling nation. Deeply should he regret if these sentiments should supersede the more generous ones which ought to animate this nation; but, when they remembered the extension of the income tax to classes hitherto exempt, he thought it would be generally conceded that there was great danger of dissatisfaction springing up among the constituencies, unless their representatives were sitting prepared to answer for their conduct, and to give explanations of the line of policy which it might be thought proper to pursue. With regard to the operations of our land and naval forces, the nation at large would be better satisfied to wait for the 616 striking of some great blow, if those who were the accredited guardians of the State were here to answer any charges which might be brought against the Government. Although the House had sanctioned and willingly agreed to the very large demands hitherto made upon the people, the people, perhaps, might not be entirely satisfied, even up to the present moment, with the mode in which the money had been expended. It might seem minute criticism, but with regard to that arrangement which was made the other day—he meant the establishment of the new office of Minister of War—he was bound to say that the public were very far from being satisfied. They considered that a very unnecessary degree of expenditure had been fixed upon the country, perhaps for ever. Granted that it might be right to have a new office of Minister of War, was it necessary to continue that of the Secretary at War also—was it necessary to make that multiplicity of arrangements which had been made for the purpose of effecting that which appeared so simple an object? In his opinion, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War (Mr. Sidney Herbert), whose able speech upon the subject of the new arrangements showed his practical acquaintance with every detail connected with his office, should have been appointed the new Minister, and in that case an unnecessary charge would not have been laid upon the country. When he was told that it would be trenching on the prerogative of the Crown to intimate that Parliament should meet again in the autumn, he must be allowed to say that there had been occasions when the Opposition did not consider it trenching upon the prerogative of the Crown to exact such conditions. What was the case as regarded the Government of my Lord Derby? The history of that period was not so far back that we should forget it. That noble Lord was forced to give a pledge, or something approaching to it, that after the dissolution of the Parliament of 1852, the House should again assemble in the November of that year. It did assemble, and on these grounds—It was said, "You are a new Government—you have not had the opportunity of stating your principles, or the line of policy you will pursue." At that time it was not considered trenching on the prerogative of the Crown to require that the new Parliament should meet for that purpose—and a very legitimate purpose it was. How stood the case now? We had 617 not a new, but a coalition, Government, formed of very discordant materials—at least they were once discordant, but whether or not so at present the secrecy of the Cabinet would not allow him to say, though it was occasionally evident the harmony of their course was not always uninterrupted. They had heard different language used by the Minister in this House from what had been used by the Prime Minister in the other; and therefore he thought they were justified in expecting that, as Lord Derby was required to meet Parliament in November, so, also, should Lord Aberdeen, that the country might know from time to time the principles on which this important war was being conducted. The strong and explicit language used by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was very satisfactory; but how do we know that that very evening exactly opposite language had not been held in the other House? True, they might have some "explanations," some old papers moved for, and things raked up from the grave of oblivion, to show that long ago the noble Lord the Prime Minister was a very sagacious and far-seeing man. But what they wanted to know was as to the present line of conduct to be pursued, what the noble Lord would do, and on what terms and principles he will negotiate peace. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had told the House that there must be some great and tangible security for the preservation of peace for the future, that Sebastopol must be denuded of her fleet, and that Turkey must not be menaced by such a stronghold. This was language which the country would hear with very great satisfaction, for he did believe these were the sentiments which were generally entertained throughout the kingdom. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) could not do impossibilities: but they were assured everything would be done to obtain an honourable peace. But, in another place the noble Earl the Prime Minister might hold out a middle course, and qualify the words of the noble Lord opposite; therefore how could we hope that this war would be short, and that the peace to follow would be honourable? The result would be that we should have neither peace nor war, but be held in a vacillating condition, having all the disadvantages of war without any of the blessings of peace. He (Mr. Bankes) saw, therefore, in this and many other considerations, reasons why it might be a very great advantage, 618 however great the personal sacrifice to Members of this House, however great the sacrifice to the noble Lord and his Colleagues—who, no doubt, wished to get rid of the House of Commons on the "early-closing" system—why it would be very desirable that Parliament should be called together again in the autumn; and, therefore, if such a proposition as had been alluded to were made, clear of any objection as to its trenching upon the prerogative of the Crown, and clear of any matter implying censure of the Ministry, that proposition would have his vote.
said, he should not have addressed the House but for one or two circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House appeared to wish it to be understood that the noble Lord had not spoken the sentiments of the Cabinet, but had only been giving utterance to his own opinions. Now, he (Mr. Hume) had certainly understood the noble Lord to state, not his own opinion alone, but the opinion which, at the present moment, was entertained by Her Majesty's Government. Although differences had existed before, he thought it would be a pity that upon so important a question any idea should go forth to the country that there was a difference of opinion in the Ministry now—the head of the Government in one place expressing a certain opinion, and a Member of his Cabinet in this House a different opinion. He should be glad to see the matter put beyond the possibility of question. Unless there was union in council there could be no success in action; and it would not be desirable that it should be supposed that there did exist any want of union. He had heard a great outcry about a Coalition Ministry; now, he (Mr. Hume) saw no possibility of any Government at all without coalition. Let the right hon. Gentleman attempt to form a Government which would give satisfaction to the country and to that House which was not a Coalition Ministry. Times were altered, and he was very glad to see the followers of Sir R. Peel joining the old Liberals in that House, who received them with great pleasure. He hoped, therefore, that what they had just heard from the noble Lord was the joint opinion of the Cabinet, and would be carried into effect. He was sorry to hear his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Alcock) indulge in criticisms as to the conduct of the war. If the hon. Member were Minister of War, he (Mr. Hume) would be very glad to listen 619 to him on the subject; but when he heard complaints as to the little which was being done, he turned to the page of history—he could find no parallel instance in which so much exertion had been made, and so many troops, fully equipped, sent to so great a distance in so short a time as had been done since the breaking out of the present war. He must acknowledge that when Sir Charles Napier was appointed to the Baltic he was rather afraid that the operations under him would be too rapid and too hasty; but, on the contrary, it now appeared that Sir Charles was a man Who could consider before he acted, and, he hoped, when the time came, act with effect. With regard to the question of subsidies—and it was upon this that he wished to call the attention of the Committee—he did not think the advance of money would be a good or a wise scheme. During the late revolutionary war we had advanced 66,000,000l. of subsidies, every shilling of which he could show had been misapplied, that they had not tended to advance the object for which they were given, that a vast proportion was wasted, and that the system tended rather to paralyse than to excite the energies of the people to whom they were given. The Turks had now, without our assistance, kept the Russians at bay, and, while the English and French troops had not come into contact with the enemy, they had gained the victories, and to them the honour was due. The Turks had done all this without money from us, and, if we once began to supply them with money, the House must not believe that their efforts would be what they had been. When the Russians were driven from the Principalities, as he hoped they soon would be, the Turks would require less expenditure for carrying on the war, and their empire would, he believed, supply plenty of means. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bankes), that he should be sorry to see the granting of any subsidies, even to Turkey, resolved upon by the Ministry without the sanction of that House, for he thought he could see reasons so powerful and so cogent, that the House Would never agree to any subsidy again. We went to War in aid of the Turks; let the Turks, then, rouse themselves and collect all the means in their power and all the resources they could command; but let us not begin by offering or giving any hopes of a subsidy. In conclusion, he hoped that upon the Vote asked for by the 620 Government for the further prosecution of the war there would be no difference of opinion, so as to hold out, either to our Allies or to our opponents, the belief that there was likely to be any division on the part of that House, or any want of energy in bringing this war to a satisfactory conclusion.
§ MR. KNIGHT
bore testimony to the bravery of the Circassians, and to the necessity of giving them an ample supply of arms, and the importance of securing them as auxiliaries in this struggle. That People were thoroughly at enmity with the Russians, and they could give us most efficient assistance in the war. the Circassians were a people who were trained to arms from their earliest childhood—every man was a soldier—and when well drilled could easily be converted into most efficient infantry, riflemen, and cavalry; and he hoped that what had appeared in some of the German newspapers with reference to a rupture in the relations between this country and that nation was entirely without foundation. In his opinion, the best means of enlisting the Circassians in our behalf would be to take Anapa, and to place a Pasha there, and then restore the Turkish rule, for although the people might be unwilling to fight in our behalf, they would willingly fight in behalf of the Turks. With respect to subsidies, he differed entirely from the hon. Member for Montrose as to their being never desirable. When the Emperor Napoleon was at Boulogne the question to be considered was, where the battle was to be fought; and as it was difficult to raise men in England, it became expedient to hire men to fight on behalf of this country, and to choose some other ground than this country itself for the battle-field, and as in that case subsidies had been found necessary to accomplish that purpose, so other cases might occur in which subsidies might be found equally desirable.
said, he had no doubt the reception given by the House to the remarks the noble Lord had made that night with regard to Sebastopol would be echoed from one end of the country to the other. But the noble Lord had omitted altogether to refer to what had in reality been the main business to which the power of the Government had been directed for the last six months. Great activity had unquestionably been displayed in collecting troops, in equipping fleets, and in forwarding troops and stores 621 to the scene of action; but he thought it must be allowed that those were preparatory measures, and that the whole force of the Government had been directed to diplomatic action. With regard, however, to the operation of that diplomacy, the House was still without any information whatever since the declaration of war was issued. In his opinion, it was a great misfortune that during the last recess the Government abstained from furnishing the public with an account of these negotiations; but since the declaration of war they had only had some papers with reference to the affairs of Greece, and a few legal protocols, which were absolutely unintelligible without some account of their character and bearing, either supplied by diplomatic papers, or, in their absence, by information communicated to the House. He thought that a misfortune, not only to the country, but to the Government itself. He believed they did themselves great injustice by their reluctance to furnish information. He was convinced that that reluctance gave rise to misapprehensions and suspicions which were most probably unreasonable, and tended to diminish the enthusiasm with Which the country had entered upon the war, and without which the best and wisest Government would be incapable of conducting a protracted struggle. He felt this so strongly, that he thought the Vote to which the House was now called upon to agree, and in which he heartily concurred, might fairly be made contingent upon a promise on the part of the Government to lay before Parliament papers with regard to their diplomatic efforts, and especially those relating to that centre of activity, the States of the German Confederation. If, in making one or two remarks on the distinctive character of that diplomatic action, he should fall into error, or undervalue the obstacles which the Government had encountered, he must remind the House that the silence of the Government left no alternative but either to vote the money silently as it was asked, or to incur the risk of errors which, under the circumstances, were unavoidable. It appeared to him that the main character of the diplomacy of the Government during the last six months had been an excessive anxiety to secure the alliance of Austria, and a readiness to forego almost every advantage, and to risk every disappointment, provided they were sure of that connection. He thought they could 622 not have better proof of it than in the treaty which the Sultan had been induced to agree to with Austria, authorising the Austrian occupation of the Principalities. He said induced, because, although this country was no party to that treaty, it was idle to suppose the Sultan would have concluded it, except at the instigation, or, at least, with the encouragement of the British Ambassador. He mentioned that point to show the extremity to which the Government would go, and the equanimity with which they would bear any disappointment, to secure the alliance of Austria. Now, what had been the result of that course of policy? The noble Lord said he did not despair that Austria would fulfil all her engagements. It was surely not straining the meaning of the phrase to say, at least, that the noble Lord was gradually losing any sanguine hope that such would be the case. He trusted, at all events, that this treaty with Turkey was not intended to pave the way for the permanent annexation of the Principalities to Austria, and he was convinced no course would be more contrary to the public opinion of this country and of Europe than that Turkey should be robbed of those provinces which she had, single-handed, so gallantly defended. Passing that over, he wished to remind the Government that this Austrian alliance would not be an unqualified advantage, and that it would entail unavoidable drawbacks. There was another point on which the noble Lord had touched very slightly, which, however, required very careful consideration, and that was, what would be the result of an alliance with Austria in regard to the other States of Germany? No one could have considered the condition of Germany without being aware that Her Majesty's Government were practically driven to the choice of an active alliance either with the Northern or the Southern States of Germany, and that it was almost impossible to contract an alliance of great intimacy with the southern group of States without risking the alienation of the northern or rival group of States. That being the case, he thought the House had a right to ask what account the Government could give of the Prussian alliance, and what causes had operated to disturb the cordiality which lately existed between this country and Prussia. He would remind the House that, with the single exception of France, there was no country in Europe whose alliance was so desirable on so 623 many grounds as that of Prussia, connected as that country was with us by the recollection of struggles which had been waged in union against other Powers that threatened the peace of Europe, connected also by religious sentiment, and by all the moral and intellectual sympathies common to both branches of the Saxon race. And when added to that, was the consideration that united Germany, in the absence of Poland, would ever be the best bulwark against Russia, and that Prussia was called to fill the place in Germany which Sardinia filled in Italy, as the source from which all measures of national progress and utility proceeded, it was impossible, he thought, to over-estimate the importance and value of a firm alliance between Prussia and England. They all knew the unfortunate circumstances which had given a complexion of hesitation and timidity to the Prussian councils, but it was notorious that on several occasions during the last twelve months there was a prospect of the liberal and anti-Russian party regaining the ascendancy in the councils of that Monarch. They should recollect there had been circumstances particularly favourable to the exertions of able diplomacy, and he thought Parliament had a good right to call upon the Government to show that they had not created any obstacles in their own way by receiving the propositions of Prussia in a lukewarm manner, that they had not raised up opposition by their ostentatious partiality for the rival Court of Austria, and that it was no fault of ours that the enlightened policy was no longer pursued which had made Prussia for many years the centre of German nationality and anti-Russian feeling, and had been conducted by a series of statesmen ever since the Congress of Vienna. They knew that the alliance with Austria was recommended, as placing this country in opposition to what some persons called the revolutionary, but what he thought might be more justly called the contitutional and liberal, party in Europe. His conviction was, that throughout these negotiations Austria had been steadily keeping in her eye her own misgoverned provinces, for the purpose of seizing every opportunity to rivet their chains which might be afforded by our indifference or blindness. In the protocol of the 23rd of May was embodied the treaty between Austria and Russia, signed in the preceding April, and guaranteeing to Austria the security of her non-German provinces. By the Federal 624 Act of 1815, the members of the German Confederation guaranteed to each other tranquil possession of the German provinces, but there was no stipulation as to the non-German provinces; so that the German troops might be called in to suppress disturbances at Munich or Vienna; but if Austria had risings in Italy, she must put them down by her own powers; and if she could not keep Hungary in order, she had no resource but to go suing to the Emperor of Russia, as she did in 1849. It was now conceived that Prussia should give a guarantee for the Italian and Hungarian possessions of Austria. He knew the noble Lord would say that we had given no sanction to this guarantee; but he thought there was great reason to fear that if the time should come when German troops should be marched from all points, to suppress liberal movements in Hungary or Italy, Austrian diplomatists would point to the protocol of the 23rd of May, and say, "It is too late to protest against a principle which has already been recognised." He mentioned that as no chimerical or imaginary danger, but one against which he would warn the Government; for he trusted this would prove to be no step towards making this country an accomplice in supporting the Austrian system of Government in southern and central Europe.
§ MR. COBDEN
Sir, the speech of the noble Lord has, in some degree, converted this discussion into a council of war, because the noble Lord has displayed what I believe to be very bad strategy on the part of a general—by revealing the object of the campaign and the future purposes of the war. It is not I, therefore, but the noble Lord, who is responsible for publicly discussing the conduct and tactics of the war, and if I say anything calculated to discourage the course which the noble Lord seems, with the concurrence, I presume, of his Colleagues in the Cabinet, resolved to take, I can only plead, in excuse of the publicity of this expression of my opinions, that the noble Lord has been doing what I should have thought an unwise and a very indiscreet thing—always supposing that in discussing the point of occupying the Crimea and capturing Sebastopol we are not discussing it after the work is done. The noble Lord, of course, knows better than we do what orders have been given to the commanders and what are their intentions; and if at the time we are speaking an expedition has gone to the Crimea 625 and captured Sebastopol, it is clear it can do no harm discussing the matter here. It is obvious, I think, that supposing the noble Lord to speak the opinion of the Cabinet, very important changes have occurred in the progress of these events. The noble Lord has told us that the war cannot be concluded by the resumption of the status quo, but that the Government are determined to take material guarantees for the future peace of Europe by taking possession of the great southern stronghold of Russia. Now, we have one advantage in discussing this question to-day. We need none of us be under that apprehension, that feeling of prostrate panic, in which we have been so long accustomed to speak of the power of Russia. I have never joined in that tone, but I have been very much laughed at because I would not join in it. I have never, in the least degree, feared the aggressive power of Russia, always bearing in mind that there is a difference between the power of Russia for aggression and for defence—because I have ever rigorously drawn a line between those two powers. I have been the subject of considerable ridicule on account of the opinions I have formerly expressed on this subject; but will any one now bring forward the old argument of the danger of Russia overrunning Europe, and reviving the invasion of the Huns and Goths, when this deluge of barbarism has been broken into spray against the mere outwork of a third or fourth rate fortress? Why has Russia shown such impotence in the abortive attempt against Silistria? It is simply because Russia has to march an army nearly a thousand miles—from Moscow to the seat of war—before they come to the field of operations, through almost impassable roads, and without a mile's transit by means of railways. According to the marches of our troops it is a three months' journey from the southern capital to the field of operations; and that accounts for these enormous armies on paper being dissipated and vanishing away before they can face an enemy. Every one who has been in Russia, or who has studied the subject, must be well aware that, however mighty the armies Russia can support when spread over that vast territory which figures as about one-half of Europe, besides a large portion of Asia—that however gigantic her armaments may appear on paper—it is utterly impossible, from the, nature of the country and of its population, that her armies can ever be concen- 626 trated in great masses on any one point. Take, for example, the case of the battle of Borodino. The Emperor Napoleon had given twelve months' notice of his design, having 600,000 troops and all the Continent at his disposal. Yet, with all the preparations consequent on this long notice, no more than 150,000 Russians could be collected to oppose him, and a large portion of them were clothed as peasants, and only armed with scythes. And every one must be aware, who has seen the villages of wooden huts of Russia, and how rarely the traveller comes upon a town with one stone building in it—with a population so scattered, that if you attempt to concentrate troops, the addition of twenty men in a village for a month would eat up all the surplus provision and all the accumulated capital of the place—that it is impossible to concentrate troops and march them simultaneously on any one road. These difficulties must be apparent to every one, and with this last experiment I hope we have had conclusive proof that there is no fear of Russia marching out of her own territory, and invading and conquering the civilised world. I have said again and again, and been ridiculed for saying, that Russia could not carry on a single campaign across her western borders without coming for a loan; and she has not finished a campaign of the present war before she sues in formâ pauperis at Amsterdam, and tries to raise money as a loan. I hope, therefore, that I—and those who hold the opinions that I do—need not talk again on this subject under the fear of having it cast in our own faces that we are the friends of Russia. I wish to look this bugbear fairly in the face; but when I speak of the difficulty or impossibility of Russia invading the rest of Europe, on account of the thinness of her population, the impassability of the roads, and the want of means to support her armies, I give the very reasons why we should not invade Russia. The moment you leave your vessels and the points of supply which you can command, you place yourselves in the same difficulties and the same dangers in which Russia is placed the instant she attempts to cross her own frontier. We come, then, to this question. Knowing these facts, and being fully aware of these difficulties, it seems that the Government are not content with going to war to restore Turkey to what she was, but you Will make war on Russia and take possession of a portion of her territory. I 627 take it for granted that the Cabinet mean not merely to go and take Sebastopol—that would be nothing if you came away again—but to occupy the Crimea; and I tell the noble Lord this—unless the thing has been already accomplished, he has been guilty of very great indiscretion, because he has given notice to the enemy that that is the point of attack, and that that should be the point of defence. If the noble Lord has in his possession statements from the commanders of the forces in those regions, telling him that the thing is impracticable—telling him that Sebastopol is another Gibraltar, and that it cannot be taken—if he has heard, and if he believes that—and future times alone can settle that point—then he has committed worse than an indiscretion in what he has said to-night. But in this council of war which we are holding, it is not an unimportant question to ask what is the nature of the climate of the Crimea, and what is the disposition of the people towards Russia. It seems to be everywhere taken for granted that, because the people are Mahomedans in religion and Tartars in origin, therefore they must be disaffected towards Russia, and have sympathy for the Turks. Now, that would be an important element in the chances of success, if it were true. But is it so? I have lately been reading a most reliable book on this subject—Mr. Edmund Spencer's Travels in the Crimea—and recollect he is not a defender of Russia—he is as much in favour of a war with Russia as any man in or out of this House. He says that such is the nature of the climate, and so great the danger from fevers in the steppes and valleys of the Crimea during the summer months, that it is almost impossible for a stranger to avoid sickness; and that the Englishmen employed by Count Woronzow complained to him that they were certain to be attacked with fever if they went out in the heat, or if they partook of milk or eggs, or even water, after eating fruit. This was the description of the Crimea by a most competent authority. Now, I have that opinion of the French and English armies, especially when in the presence of each other, and stirred by mutual emulation that I can scarcely conceive of anything which human being scan do that they will not accomplish. But I must remind the House and the noble Lord that against these fevers and diseases of which I have spoken, the strongest and most 628 powerful men will be as impotent as the merest child—nay, they will be still more liable to attack from these diseases. All persons who have travelled in the Danubian provinces tell you, that when on board the steamer the captains intimate to them, as evening comes on, that they had better go below to avoid the river fever. But your soldiers can take no such precautions: they must bivouac in ditches; they must, of necessity, do that which in the case of other men would involve the grossest imprudence; they must expose themselves to every risk, and cannot hope, therefore, to escape disease. I trust, therefore, that this element in the difficulty of the enterprise has been taken into calculation by the noble Lord. With regard to the disposition of the population of the Crimea, I have seen assurances given as glibly as you please that that population is most eager to throw off the Russian yoke, and to return to the allegiance of the Turks. But what says Mr. Spencer on this point? He tells us that, even though the Tartars are willing to acknowledge the Sultan as their spiritual head, they have no desire to become his subjects in temporal affairs, for in all his wanderings over the country he had not met with a single Tartar Who was anxious to return under the sway of the Turks. The Tartars would tell him that they preferred the rule of the Emperor of Russia to that of their old tyrant the Turk, because they knew precisely the taxes which Russia demanded from them, but they remembered their flocks and herds were never safe from the grasp of the Turkish pasha. Now, in my opinion, before you take possession of the Crimea and hand it over to the Turks, it is important that you should know the feelings of the population. This is not a mere strategical operation; it is a great constitutional question. In my opinion, you have no right to say to the population of the Crimea, "You must become Turks, or English, or French;" you ought to leave them to settle that question for themselves, for it is against all right to dispose of territory in spite of the will and desire of the population. I would not have said this if the noble Lord had not told us that the Government had made up its mind upon the question; and if I did not believe that the time will come when the noble Lord will be anxious to see that excitement allayed which he, as much as any man in the country, has produced—I mean the time when the absurd 629 expectations as to what is to be done in this war must be disappointed—when the people are to be brought to another tone than that which it has suited statesmen to keep them in for the last six or seven months. The noble Lord will not be sorry, then, that something has been said now calculated to diminish the enthusiasm and the too sanguine expectations that have been raised on the subject by the noble Lord himself. But there is another and a far more important point involved in this question. If I have rightly read the protocol which has been issued by the German Powers in relation to this matter—and it appears they are now united as one—they seem to have laid down this fundamental principle as the basis of their entering into negotiations with the Western Powers—that there should be no diminution of the territories of Russia as a consequence of this war. I understand that Austria and Prussia, and the whole of Germany, are as averse to taking away any portion of territory from Russia as they are opposed to Russia seizing upon any portion of Turkish territory. They stand by the settlement of Vienna, and I take it that the apportionment of the Crimea and of Bessarabia were included in the settlement of Vienna as much as the other territories in Europe. When, therefore, the noble Lord says that England and France mean to take the Crimea from Russia, I warn him that that may be held by the German Powers as releasing them from their quasi alliance with us, and may even set them in antagonism to the Western Powers. This will be a source of great future embarrassment to the noble Lord.
But I am anxious now to say one or two words upon another part of the question. Now that there is no longer a chance as to the power of Russia—now that no one any longer entertains a fear that she will overrun the rest of Europe—I think it may be possible for us to pay a little more respect to the rights and immunities of weaker communities; and I am anxious, therefore, to bring under the notice of the House our proceedings with regard to the Christian populations of Turkey. I have not brought down with me the blue books relating to Greece, and therefore the House need not fear the infliction upon them of long extracts from these blue books; but I wish something to be said in this House to show that we do not neglect or forget those who have 630 not the power at present to do justice to themselves. In speaking of the Greek Christians of Turkey, let it be at once understood that I do not raise any discussion as to the kingdom of Greece. I do not defend King Otho, or his Ministers, or his Queen. I admit that all which the noble Lord —all which Mr. Wyse—all which our Consuls in that part of the world have said with respect to the Court at Athens may be founded in truth and justice. I have not a word to say in defence of them—they are not my clients. But I may say a passing word with respect to the kingdom of Greece—and if the creation of that monarchy has not been followed by all the success which so many sanguine Philhellenes expected, I do not think that that is attributable to the Greek people. I am willing to admit that there has been a complete failure in the Greek monarchy, but there has been no failure in the Greek race. They have done more than any other people, sunk for many hundreds of years in most abject slavery, would have done in the same period—they, have done far more than enough to justify the good opinion which was formed of them, and to inspire their friends with hope and confidence for the future. When I speak of the Greek race, therefore, I do not mean to speak of the Greek monarchy, that miserable blunder of diplomacy which cut off from Greece the provinces of Thessaly, and Epirus, and Macedonia, the cradle of the Hellenic race—which imposed upon the poorest part of the country and the most devastated by civil war a monarchy, a civil list, an army and navy, a diplomatic corps, and all the paraphernalia of a great and powerful monarchy—which saddled them with a loan of 2,000,000l. sterling, of which not more than 20,000l. was spent on objects beneficial to Greece. It was not surprising that all this should break down, and that Greece, unable to bear these burdens, should have lost all hope of paying its debts, and should have become the battle-ground of intrigue among the three guaranteeing Powers. The Greeks I wish to speak of are the Greeks who have been left under the sovereignty of the Porte. The Duke of Wellington was in power when the Greek monarchy was founded, and wishing to retain territory for Turkey, he cut off from the Greek monarchy Thessaly, Epirus, and Macedonia, the very cradle of the Greek race. The consequence of the absurd line of demarcation he then made was, that considerable num- 631 bers of Greeks from the Turkish provinces had emigrated into the kingdom of Greece, and those who remained had never abandoned the hope that the day would come when they might be able to rejoin their fellow-countrymen in the monarchy of Greece. They believe that they have found this opportunity when they see that Turkey is involved in a war with Russia, and the Greek race under Turkish rule, seizing the opportunity; instantly rose in rebellion. I am not going to deny that Russia, acting through the medium of the Court of Athens, has favoured this insurrection; what I maintain is, that the Greek race under the Turkish rule, having found this opportunity to rise in rebellion, have availed themselves of it as they would have done if Turkey had been involved in a war with France or England, for the Greeks look upon all wars with Turkey as a war in their favour. Now, I will not go so far as to turn round and protest that this is all the secret intrigue and manœuvre of Russia, because the founders of the Greek monarchy cannot exculpate themselves from the charge of being the cause of this movement; they have no right to describe it as being all the work of Russia, or to pretend that the Greek race would not have risen if, instead of the Emperor of Russia, some other Power had been at war with Turkey. The official papers published by the Government, the letters of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, the communications from our Consuls in various parts of Turkey, all predict that a revolution is about to take place; and even Lord Clarendon, in a letter to the Earl of Westmoreland, distinctly says that in case of a war with Russia the Christians will rise in rebellion, not in aid of the Russians, but in aid of themselves. Well, then, the insurrection thus predicted, and justified by a long course of tyranny, abuse, and iniquity, stated by English authority to have been practised by Turkey against her Christian subjects, having broken out, what is our course with regard to the Christian population of Turkey? The moment that insurrection takes place, we use every means in our power to put it down or discourage it. Our Consuls issue proclamations, our ships of war are sent upon the coast, for the same purpose; we even express a wish that Austria should draw a military cordon round the frontiers, and matters go so far that one of our gallant captains (Captain Peel); being instructed to go to Prevesa, 632 and to assist in putting down the insurrection, demurs to his instructions, and tells the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands that he does not consider it any part of his duty to put down insurrection in the Ottoman territories. There is, therefore, no doubt that, partly by moral means, partly by means of a more material kind, England and France have succeeded in putting down the insurrection of the Greek Christians in Turkey. But are we not thereby in some degree committed to these Greek Christians? Have we not pledged ourselves to them beforehand that we will see justice done to them? We have it again and again stated by Lord Clarendon and by the other Ministers in Parliament that one of the objects of this war is, that we should secure the rights of the Christian population in Turkey. That may be right or it may be wrong. Lord Derby and his Friends have all along declared that we ought not to mix ourselves up in the internal affairs of other States. I must confess that I am much of the same opinion, and predict that hence will arise one of our future difficulties; but, however this may be, you have involved yourselves in promises which you cannot evade, and having put them down when they rose in insurrection, it is due to that population that the House should feel its responsibilities and see justice done to them according to the declarations they publicly uttered. He would say that on another ground also—that of expediency—this should be done. Let it be remembered that, after all, three-fourths of the population of Turkey in Europe are Christians; and though you may find, in a time of war, that the Turks, who are the only part of the population that are armed, alone fight the battle of the Sultan, yet depend upon it when the time of peace arrives—if it ever does arrive in our day—you will find that you cannot go on maintaining the permanent ascendancy of that race. Mind that the Christians are the sole progressive element in Turkey. I know I am liable to be met with the statement, "See how the Turks have fought." The Turks always have fought well, and it is to be remembered that most of the Turks now in arms are not European Turks—they are brought from Asia, and many of them from Egypt; but what I have always found deficient in the Turks is, not military prowess, but the elements of progressive civilisation. I may be subject to a six months' taunt 633 for the statement, but as sure as I speak from this spot, so sure is it that when the time of peace comes, the Christian population—who are the only progressive population in Turkey, and, without bigotry, I say progressive because Christian—the Christian population of Turkey in Europe will rise into the ascendant in the eyes of statesmen. The Emperor of Russia knows that fact well, and therefore he is constantly appealing to the sympathies of the Christian race—therefore he promises to be their protector—therefore he appeals to their prejudices, if you will, for he knows that eventually and permanently they will govern the destinies of Turkey. Even now all the external commerce of Turkey is carried on by Christians. I can scarcely find a single Turkish merchant in any one of the great towns of England. All the merchants are Greeks, born subjects of the Porte, but all have left their native country and become naturalised in others. The wealth, the intelligence, the prosperity of Turkey in Europe are all the possession of the Greek merchants. I do not mean to say that the Armenian race are devoid of intelligence—they have distinguished themselves as bankers, as architects; but what I mean to say is, that the Greek race, par excellence, contains in itself the elements of progress; and this is the people whom you are alienating from your sway. I have no hesitation in saying that, by the course you have taken in putting down the insurrection in Turkey, you have discouraged their attempts to emancipate themselves from the slavery under which they suffer, and you have, in a great measure, put yourselves in a state of antagonism towards the whole Greek race. There is no doubt that we are unpopular among them, and that they are not heartily anxious for our success. But this question of our conduct towards the Christian population in Turkey gives rise to another consideration of great importance. You are now at the beginning of war. You know not how soon it may break out in other localities. What are these outbreaks in Spain, but the mere echoes of the cannon that are fired on the banks of the Danube? Who knows where it may explode next? Faint murmurs have already been heard in Italy; and we all know that very great dissatisfaction exists among some of the largest States on the continent of Europe. I want to know then, once for all—is it to be understood, in case of a war on the Continent, that we 634 are to ally ourselves with the sovereignties and against the nationalities? I ask this with the most perfect fairness and impartiality, because I am against all interference either on the one side or the other. I have proclaimed it over and over again, that I would not go to war to help either the one or the other. But what I want to know is, whether this war is to be carried on elsewhere on the same policy that it has been carried on in Turkey? We have helped to put down the Greek Christians in Turkey, in comparison with whom the Hungarians and the Italians have no grievances to allege against their Governments which could for a moment be set in contrast with the grievances that the Christians in Turkey have to endure, for the Christians in Turkey are not only deprived of all liberty, but of all law. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) shakes his head. I put to him this question, Can a Christian in Turkey be a magistrate? can he be a cadi? The hon. Member knows as well as I do that the laws of Turkey are administered according to the Koran, and no Christian could administer law according to the Koran. I want to know, then, whether this same policy is to be pursued towards other countries. No doubt, a great delusion has prevailed in the minds of the people of this country as to the purposes and objects of this war. We have all seen and experienced it. There is a row of hon. Gentlemen below me who have largely shared in that delusion. I know their sentiments. Of course, I do not presume to be the exponent of the opinions of the hon. Member for West Surrey; but we know that the others sympathise largely with Hungary and Italy and the other nationalities. [Cheers.] The hon. Gentlemen cheer me. Those hon. Gentlemen who used to be called Young India may fairly be considered as the representatives of the delusion which is shared in by multitudes out of doors. They have all along been under the impression that this war was undertaken in defence of the interests of Hungary and Italy, and other oppressed nationalities. Now, is that the case? We have lately heard an eloquent voice raised among us, giving utterance in the English language, never better expressed, in some of the most populous districts of our country, to the sentiment distinctly declared that this was not a war undertaken in the interests of Hungary, but that it was a war against Hun- 635 gary, and in the interests of the oppressors of Hungary. Now, is that true, or is it not? I know these hon. Gentlemen are great admirers of the Hungarian chief to whom I have alluded, and they will admit that he is as good a judge of what is for the interest of his own people as they can be, or any one else. Yet that eminent man has declared that this war, as it is at present carried on, is a war to increase the power of the oppressors of Hungary, and to rivet the chains by which Hungary is bound in subjection to Austria. I wish to know the opinion of these hon. and deluded Gentlemen on this matter. I have heard them resorting to a device that is more ingenious than logical—crying out that the government is not carrying on the war as they ought to do, and that we ought to have another man at the head of the War Department, or for another head to the Government itself—calling out, in fact, for Lord Palmerston, and all this they have done in the interest of the Hungarians and Italians. But what say the illustrious chiefs who are entitled to speak the sentiments of the down-trodden nations to whom I have referred—what do they say on this point? To my own knowledge, the chiefs of Italy and of Hungary have proclaimed it without stint or reserve, that so far from their hopes and aspirations resting on the noble Lord, when the noble Lord had an opportunity of giving these nations moral support—and no more was then asked of him—he would not utter the faintest whisper in their behalf; and if there is any man in the Cabinet whom the leaders of these nations are least disposed to rely upon at the present moment—I speak it advisedly—it is the noble Lord whom these hon. and deluded Gentlemen are constantly calling upon to assume the helm in a war that is to be managed, not for the interests of Austria, but for the interests of Italy and Hungary. I do not say this in disparagement of the noble Lord, for I never asked the noble Lord to go to war, and I do not think that he is the author of the great imposture that has been practised in his name. But there are many who are weak enough to labour under the delusion in the House, and there is a great mass of the people out of the House who are under the impression that the noble Lord when in the Cabinet was constantly and assiduously acting in favour of these nationalities, and that if the war were carried on under his auspices assuredly it would be brought to a conclusion satisfac- 636 torily to the suffering people. The delusion has been happily exploded, and that is a most important fact. You have a good deal of popularity with respect to this war amongst the masses. I have never denied that fact, and though I have been called a demagogue, yet I have never stooped to shape my course according to the fleeting popularity of this or that among the mass of the people. Nay, I have to confess that there is so much of stubbornness in my nature that when a popular cry is got up on one side, I am disposed to examine the other, and see if there be any truth in its favour. Well, the delusion has been to a great extent dissipated, mainly, I believe, through those eloquent harangues to which I have already referred—which were listened to by thousands—which have since been extensively read, as they deserved to be, for they are lessons in the English language, though produced by a foreigner—and they have produced a considerable change in the public mind. A day of reckoning must at last come between the Government and the people, as to the objects and purposes of this war. I believe that, when this object has been explained, it will be found that it has not been undertaken in the interests of Hungary and of Italy. I never believed that an alliance formed between Lord Aberdeen, the Emperor Louis Napoleon, and the Grand Turk, could be entered into in favour of revolutionists. That is indeed a delusion which surpasses all the popular delusions that have existed in modern days; but whatever delusion exists out of the House it is always sure to be represented by somebody within its walls. The time will come when this war will be stripped of all the popularity that has been attached to it from the supposition that we were fighting in the interest of nations, and then will come the bald and naked statement that you are fighting to maintain the balance of power. But I do not think that popularity will be long maintained for an object of that vague nature. There has been a burst of enthusiasm in this country because it, has been thought that we were going to fight for somebody's freedom. The noble Lord has now made his plunge—it was some time before he could make up his mind to take it; but in stating what were the objects of the war he has used phraseology with respect to Turkey which is rather calculated to discourage those who thought that the people of Europe were interested in the matter. He tells us that we have 637 gone to war for the sovereign rights of the Sultan of Turkey—he spoke of the rights of sovereignty, and that we could not allow any one to interfere with them, the rights of sovereignty of the Sultan, as the representative of all Turkey. Now, I do not think that the people of this country will continue to bear a heavy pressure of taxation only for the purpose of maintaining the sovereign rights of the Sultan of Turkey. The people of this country are too much interested in the independence of nations, and when it is once found that this is a war for the advantage of an individual and a class, it will not long be popular in this country. But are we not in danger of depopularising this war elsewhere? I have been at some pains to get information as to the opinion entertained of this war in America. I am not speaking of the papers conducted by Irishmen. No, they are not Irishmen, because there is one of them at least whom every Irishman must repudiate—the man who goes from Ireland advocating freedom, and settles down in New York advocating black slavery—that man I am sure every Irishman will repudiate. But look at the more respectable journals in America. A considerable change has come over their opinions, with regard to the present war in Europe. No doubt they all agree, as we all agree, that Russia has made an unjust and wanton aggression upon Turkey. But the people of America, like the people of England, had the idea that this war was to lead to a general bouleversement, and that out of it something would arise favourable to freedom. But they begin now to see that this is to be a war of dynasties and of diplomatists, and that little or no concessions are to be made to the people, and with dynastic or territorial wars they have no sympathy. I observe, also, that a considerable change is taking place among the periodicals of Germany, and particularly in Prussia. In Prussia there has always been a very strong sympathy for the Greeks. Several of them have indulged in severe remarks upon our conduct to the Greek Christians in Turkey, and one of the members of the present Chamber of Berlin observed, in a speech lately delivered, that he had always hitherto been a great admirer of England, and looked upon her Government as a model in regard to freedom of Government, but that he had altogether changed his opinion since he had seen her conduct towards the Greek Christians. That feeling is likely to spread; 638 and remember it cannot be concealed—for you have already published in your own official papers that the Greeks have grievous oppressions to complain of: therefore you are your own judges, and will be your own judges if you now say that these oppressions do not exist. Lord Stratford de Redcliffe was sent to Turkey, because the Government had confidence in him, for the purpose of seeing that her internal affairs were better managed, and that he might protect the Christians from the oppressions they had to endure. The noble Lord finds himself in some embarrassment. The Turks have, hitherto, been fighting their own battles; and, though I am a peaceable man, if I had been War Minister the Turks would not have been left to fight their battle by themselves, because like to do a thing in earnest when I undertake to do it. You have allowed the Turks to do everything, and you are involved hi this difficuly—it is not likely the Turks will be very docile in listening to you henceforth in the internal affairs of Turkey. You have put down the Greek insurrection, and you have made a promise that justice will be done to them; but it is likely that the Turk will take his stand upon his sovereign rights, and say he will not allow any person to interfere in the internal affairs of his country. You have gone further than you should have gone in Thessaly and Macedonia. I have seen the papers, though they have never been laid before Parliament. The Consuls exhorted the Greeks to lay down their arms, and even threatened them if they did not lay down their arms. There was a pressure put upon the Christian population of Turkey, but always with the promise that England and France would see that justice was done to them. But not only had the British Consuls in Greece held out these promises to the Greeks, but Lord Clarendon and other Ministers had made the same declarations—the Allies were therefore involved in serious obligations. And as you are going now to have possession of Turkey, for probably a long time—for he must be a sanguine man who at my age thinks he will live to see the English and French troops taken away from Turkey—it is not out of place for him to put in a word in favour of those who are helpless now because they are disarmed, and who, according to your own statement, have been oppressed. I beg again to be understood that I do not defend the monarch of Greece; I am not champion of the King or Queen 639 of Greece; but I speak for the Greek Christian population in the Turkish territory, who are the great support of the country and carry on all its commerce. I presume, according to the declaration of the noble Lord, that we shall have many opportunities of discussing this war question. The noble Lord has expressed the opinion and intentions of the Government, and until we have a change of Government I think we shall not be likely to have peace. For myself, for the reasons I have stated, I think it would be just as likely that you should take a part of the United States and keep it permanently, as that you should be able to seize a portion of the territory of Russia and retain permanent possession of it. If that is to be your task, and if you will not be content with driving the Russians out of Turkey, you have involved this country in a war which one or two additional screws of the income tax will not satisfy. You will have more taxation to bear, and before you have much experience in it, the people will become a little more dissatisfied. The noble Lord is a great reader of history, and I should be astonished if, before he committed himself to this policy, he did not recall a passage in the Stowe Papers recently published by the Duke of Buckingham. I quote from a recent number of the Quarterly Review. The passage is this—Indeed Lord Grenville declares, that a blind and unreasoning eagerness to go to war is one of our most fixed national characteristics. In a letter to the Marquess of Buckingham, dated April 28, 1797, published in the Courts and Cabinet of George III.,he says, 'It is a curious speculation in history to see how often the good people of England have played this game over and over again, and how incorrigible they are in it. To desire war without reflection, to be unreasonably elated with success, to be still more unreasonably depressed by difficulties, and to call out for peace with an impatience which makes suitable terms unattainable, are the established maxims and the regular progress of the popular mind in this country.'
§ MR. LAYARD
Mr. Bouverie, Sir, after the opinions I have expressed in this House, and the course I have pursued, it will not be anticipated that I am about to throw any difficulties in the way of Her Majesty's Government in obtaining additional supplies for carrying on the war. One thing, however, appears to me to be absolutely necessary, and on this I think the Committee will be disposed to concur with me—that before voting the estimate before us we should receive distinct, positive, and satisfactory assurances as to the real object Her Ma- 640 jetty's Government have in view in carrying on the war, and as to the general results with which they will be disposed to be satisfied before concluding a peace. I am willing to admit that we have this evening heard from my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council declarations which are satisfactory as far as they go. I confess that when my noble Friend commenced his speech I scarcely anticipated such a termination to it. My noble Friend appeared to me to be addressing the Committee in a more subdued tone than that which has hitherto characterised his speeches on this great question; but he warmed as he proceeded, and concluded by pointing out what our true policy and what our object should be in prosecuting this war, in words which commanded the unanimous approbation of the Committee, and which will, I am convinced, prove equally satisfactory to the country. There are, however, still one or two matters of great importance which require explanation, and upon which I trust we shall have some information from Her Majesty's Government before the conclusion of this debate. Considering the part I have taken in this House upon this question, I should not be discharging my duty were I not to bring these points under the notice of the Committee, and in endeavouring to do so I shall have more need of its indulgence than I have ever hitherto had when addressing this House. But before entering upon the principal object of the debate or the general policy of the Government, I am anxious to say a few words in reply to what has fallen from my hon. Friend—and I trust he will permit me to return the compliment he has paid to those who are sitting below him, by adding my "deluded"—Friend the Member for the West Riding; for although these Gentlemen may be "deluded," yet my hon. Friend seems to me to be labouring under still greater delusion, as I shall presently show than perhaps any other Member of this House. Long before I had the honour of a seat in this House and of enjoying the personal acquaintance of my hon. Friend, I was accustomed to read his speeches with great admiration, but then they were on subjects with which my hon. Friend was intimately acquainted. I wish I could say as much upon the present occasion, but I am bound to say I feel surprised that a Gentleman of the well-known abilities and acuteness of my hon. Friend should be capable of making the speech which we have just heard from 641 him, abounding, as it did, in the most extraordinary and most palpable inconsistencies. My noble Friend has principally dwelt upon three points: the comparative strength of Russia, the condition of the Greek population, and the obligation which our policy imposes upon us with regard to the revolutionary element in other European States. Now, I am ready to meet him upon the three points. What is his position with regard to the first? He declares that the strength of Russia has been enormously exaggerated, and that we now see that, like a great wave advancing towards the shore, when she meets a rock she breaks into mere spray. But let me ask if that rock were not there might she not, instead of breaking into spray, roll onwards and carry everything before her? We are that rock—we are endeavouring to break the force of the wave, and to render it harmless. Are we to allow her to gain strength day by day until she becomes formidable and is really able to threaten Europe. Now is the time to meet her, when she is, as my hon. Friend states, neither strong nor formidable. It is not by waiting until she has absorbed the greater part of Turkey—until she has gained over to her its Christian population—as we have just heard from my hon. Friend she has absorbed and gained over the Tartar population of the Crimea—that her strength will be diminished, and that we shall be better able to contend with her. Surely, such would not be a wise policy—every day's delay could but add to the danger. The argument of my hon. Friend appears to me to be of all others the one which should induce him to give his support to the war. With regard to the second argument advanced by my hon. Friend, I must remind him that he has again fallen into the error which he has repeatedly committed, and which is by no means peculiar to himself, of mixing up all the Christian races inhabiting the Turkish empire and calling them Greeks. Every one who is acquainted with the nature of these different races—their antagonism in language, feelings, habits, and even in some cases, in religion, is aware how absurd such a proceeding is, and how impossible it is to maintain any argument based upon such an assumption. As I have already more than once pointed out how little we can judge of the feelings and opinions of one race by those of another, I will not recur to the subject. In order to show the oppression to which the 642 Greeks, as he calls them, are subject, he asked me whether a Christian in Turkey can become a cadi or a magistrate? As to a Christian becoming a cadi, my hon. Friend does not appear to be aware that a cadi is the administrator of the Mussulman law, as based upon the Koran, and he might as well ask whether a Mussulman could become Archbishop of Canterbury. With regard to a Greek becoming a magistrate, there is no doubt whatever that he can. By the Tanzimat, or reformed system, the local administration in which the provinces and districts of the empire is carried on by a council formed by the pasha, or governor, the head of the Mussulman law, the bishop, or head man of the Greeks and Armenians, and whatever other Christian sects may be found in the country, and, with a liberality not even known in this country, by the chief of the Jewish community. It is, unfortunately, true that in most cases the power falls almost entirely into the hands of the Mussulman members of the council; but for this the Christians themselves are to blame. They are too generally men of bad character, given to drunkenness, and other vices. They soon become objects of contempt to their Mussulman colleagues, and are not consulted in the administration of public affairs. If, on the contrary, the Christian members of the council were men of character and spirit, and would assert the rights which had been bestowed upon them, and which the Sultan had now solemnly admitted to belong to them, they would undoubtedly in that case, although perhaps for a time exposed to difficulties and persecution, obtain the position which has been ceded in principle to them. If in such cases, when the pasha is disposed to prevent them enjoying the authority which has been given to them, they appealed to the Porte, I have no doubt that in that case they would obtain complete redress. The fact is, that as yet the Greeks, or rather let us say the Christians, of Turkey, want character, courage, and principle to enable them to become independent. Let me ask my hon. Friend, now that he is drawing comparisons between the Turks and Greeks, whether, if the Greeks had been in possession of Constantinople and of Turkey in Europe instead of the Turks, they would have been able to resist the aggression of Russia—whether they would have made the noble stand which the Turks are making for their national independence? I have not a doubt that, long 643 ere this, the whole of what now constitutes the Turkish dominions in Europe would have been swallowed up by Russia, had it been in the hands of the Christians. My hon. Friend is accustomed to address me as if I were a Turk. Now, let me set him right upon that point. I am not more of a Turk than he is himself. I have endeavoured, from the very commencement, to make this question a great European, and not a Turkish question. It is not whether the Turks are to remain at Constantinople, but whether Constantinople is to fall into the hands of Russia. I believe that the Christians of Turkey, whether Greeks, Sclavonians, or Armenians, have great qualities—qualities which may one day render them fit to hold rank as an independent nation, and to become a real check upon Russian aggression in the East—and I believe, moreover, that the time will come when they will be ready and able to assert their independence; but I have no hesitation in saying that that time is not yet come, and that, in endeavouring to force it on, you will render it far more remote than it now is, and perhaps will render impossible the accomplishment of that which you now advocate. I believe, and I think no one acquainted with the condition of the Christian populations of the East will be inclined to deny, that if you had left Greece, not under the direct government, but under the protection of Turkey, as in the case of Servia, she would have been far more prosperous at this moment, far nearer the fulfilment of that destiny which may be in store for her, and ready to receive, as an addition to her territory, those provinces which might have been better annexed to Greece, even in the interest of Turkey, than left under the dominion of the Sultan. I cannot but contrast the happy and independent condition of Servia, with the miserable state of Greece. Instead of being erected into an independent State, and burdened with all the expenses and annoyances of a court, a diplomatic service, and similar establishments, the curse of an infant State, the Servians were left under the protection of the Porte, the only thing which interfered with their liberties and independence being the so-called protection of Russia. I cannot better illustrate the result of this state of things in Servia, than by quoting from a document which has been laid upon the table of this House—the protest of the Servians against the occupation of their territory by Austria. They declare— 644As far as concerns internal insurrections, we fear them now less than ever. The whole nation is perfectly convinced that its most precious interests impose upon it the maintenance of tranquillity and order, and the avoidance of anything that could involve it in the war, and turn Servia into a battle-field. Filled with a deep gratitude to the suzerain Court for the privileges which have been graciously confirmed to them, and for the attitude which they have been allowed to hold during this war, the government and people of Servia are too much alive to their own interests, and too much attached to the happiness of their country, to hesitate a moment as to the line of conduct to be followed. Their consciousness of their own situation will preserve them better than any threats whatever from all false and injurious measures.Would that Greece, alive to her true interests, and mindful of what she owes to Turkey and to Europe, had held similar language and pursued a similar conduct! She would have been in a very different position to what she now is, and would have given more hope to those who are her real friends and well-wishers. My hon. Friend declares that there was a spontaneous rising throughout the Turkish frontier provinces in favour of the Greeks. I deny this altogether. Not anticipating a Greek debate, I am not provided with extracts I had made from the blue book, and from authentic letters from those personally acquainted with the subject, which would prove beyond a doubt that the Greek population, when they did rise, we enforced into insurrection, and induced to join the invaders by false statements. The moment the English and French Consuls informed them of the real state of things, and that England and France had not united with Russia against Turkey, as had been falsely declared by the Greek agents, they returned to their allegiance to the Porte; and I could quote many instances of the extreme cruelty exercised by the so-called patriots to compel the inhabitants of Turkish villages to join them. I will only allude to the conduct of General Grivas at Mezzovo, which is described in the blue book. The third argument dwelt upon by my hon. Friend is this, "that as we have aided the Porte in putting down the Greeks, we must also aid Austria to put down the Italians and Hungarians in case they should rise." I am surprised that my hon. Friend should have drawn such an inference. Why did we interfere in Greece? Because the Greek Government endeavoured to raise the Christian population of Turkey and thereby to aid Russia, and to impede the action of the Allies. We were bound, even by strategical considerations 645 alone, to interfere, and Her Majesty's Ministers are perfectly justified in the course they have pursued. Had the Greeks risen against their own Government, in favour of a constitution, or for any other reason, we should not have meddled with them. If the Italians were to cross the Adriatic, to incite a rebellion in Turkey, or the Hungarians to enter Bulgaria for a similar purpose, we should, of course, look upon them as hostile to us, and act accordingly. With their own affairs we should have nothing to do. My hon. Friend has stated that the Liberal party in Europe are opposed to this view, and he has particularly instanced M. Kossuth as denouncing it as a war waged in favour of the interests of the oppressors of his country. I have the greatest admiration for the eloquence and abilities of the great Hungarian leader, and I should deeply regret to find him impeding this country in the prosecution of this just war. Let me ask what his own case is. A fugitive from the vengeance of Austria, he received sympathy and protection in Turkey. He owed his very life to the Sultan, who risked war with his then most powerful neighbours to defend him. At that time, I have reason to believe, my hon. Friend himself wrote letters to the Turkish Minister in London, urging the Porte to persevere in its determination not to give up the Hungarian refugees, and promising that if at any time the Porte needed his assistance and support, they should be heartily given to it. Is the hon. Member now fulfilling his pledge? The Porte has rendered its greatest services to the Liberal party in Europe. Not only Hungarians, but Poles and Italians, and men of those countries who had been compelled, from political causes, to fly their native land, have received protection and the most hospitable treatment in Turkey. They have received employment in her cities, and command in her armies. If the Liberal party were now to be found allied with her enemies, they would indeed be guilty of the grossest ingratitude. I trust we shall have no further discussion on the subject of the Christians of Turkey. The time is not come for it yet. The Christians are most undoubtedly entitled to protection, and we are under certain obligations to insist upon that protection being afforded them. Although there have hitherto undoubtedly been numerous cases of oppression and injustice, yet, on the whole, they are far less numerous than is 646 generally believed. We have done much towards preventing their recurrence, and that hitherto without straining our influence in Turkey too much, or having recourse to undue interference. All we have to do is, by the assistance of our Consuls—very intelligent and prudent men for the most part—to bring to the notice of the Porte such cases as occur, and redress will generally be given. My hon. Friend attributes the want of character of the Christians, and their inability to govern themselves, to Turkish misgovernment and to their being under a Mussulman yoke. That such is not quite the case, surely the actual condition of Greece is sufficient to prove; and I may further point to the island of Samos, which governs itself under Turkish protection. The fact is, we can never hope much of the Greeks until their national character is modified by education and intercourse with Europe. I believe that this end will be best accomplished by leaving the Christian population of Turkey for some time to come under the Government of the Sultan. This may appear a paradox; but owing to various causes—principally to the perfect freedom they enjoy both in political and religious matters, to the spread of Protestantism, to the increase of commerce—the Christians of Turkey are rapidly improving, and only require a continuation of the present state of things to render themselves ultimately competent to form a great and prosperous Christian empire.
Let me now turn to the speech of my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council. The noble Lord has asked for a considerable grant to carry on the war, and there is no doubt that after the speech we have heard the Committee will willingly vote the supplies required, if only convinced that the money is to be properly expended. As my noble Friend has alluded to the various objects to which the sum demanded is to be applied, I may be allowed to make a few observations upon them. The noble Lord has told us that a considerable portion of it will be applied to the Commissariat. Now, I have carefully avoided, for some months, alluding to the conduct of the war, not because I was satisfied with the mode in which affairs were conducted, but because I felt that I should be insensible to the magnitude of the contest in which we were engaged if I did not know that under the very best management some failures, some over- 647 sights, and some disasters, must ensue, and that it would ill become us to appear continually as the assailants of the Government. I have, however, all along felt that the Commissariat had not been in that state in which it ought to have been, considering the very liberal sums voted to the Government on that account. Everybody is aware that when the Duke of Wellington took the command in the Peninsula he found the Commissariat, notwithstanding the enormous sums which were expended upon it, in a most hopeless condition. He at once applied himself to remedying this great defect, well knowing that a good Commissariat was essential to the success of the Army. In the month of May, 1809, he drew up a celebrated minute, entering most fully, and with a knowledge of details and principles which showed his master mind, into every particular connected with the subject. The Commissariat henceforth formed one of the most efficient branches of the service, and to it may be attributed in a great measure the success of those glorious campaigns which have rendered the Duke of Wellington's name immortal. At the close of the war, however, the system which he had introduced fell into disuse. The Commissariat was transferred to the Treasury—men acquainted with the active duties of the field were no longer employed, and it was prophesied by those well acquainted with the subject that whenever a war broke out again we should be exposed to the same difficulties; and have to incur the same needless expenses, as when we first engaged in the Peninsular campaign. These prophecies have been fulfilled. I do not wish to attribute to the Government the results of a system which they received from their predecessors, and for which they are not responsible, and I should not have said a word on the subject had it not been that the Government were warned upon every point early in the winter, and that all the difficulties to which we have been exposed could have been avoided had the Government taken proper measures, and listened to the advice tendered to them. I speak now from personal knowledge, not from any vague reports. Those who had the management of the Commissariat were told that the country about to be occupied by our armies was deficient in beasts of burden and in the means of transport. They were told that it was only by sending into distant parts of Asia Minor and to the islands 648 that the necessary animals could be procured. Every suggestion they received, to the very places indicated, have been justified by the result. Again, the class of men to be organised as camp followers were pointed out to them. Many gentlemen were named who were admirably calculated to be the means of intercourse and communication between the army and the natives. However, it would seem that a rule had been made not to employ one person acquainted with the resources of the country or the manners and languages of the inhabitants. All that was done was to send a gentleman from the Treasury to Constantinople to make inquiries. After one or two weeks' residence he drew up a report upon the history, government, policy, manners, and resources of a country, of which it might almost be said that the more one lives in it the less one knows of it. In fact, the population and resources of adjoining provinces differ so essentially that a perfect knowledge of the one would only mislead you as to the other. But the report of this gentleman was printed and circulated in the army as directions for the Commissariat officers! No wonder that when our army landed they found themselves deficient in the necessary supplies. The accounts which appeared in the Times, although at first denied, are now admitted to be correct, and notwithstanding the horror that appeared to be entertained at the presence of a Times' correspondent, it cannot but be admitted that those gentlemen have done much towards calling public attention to and remedying abuses. I hold in my hand extracts from several letters, which I will read to the Committee—If we are badly off here then, what may we expect to be there? But I see no present possibility of getting there. We have only just carts enough to bring us our daily rations of bread. We have no organised waggon train, and to the absence of it, I presume, may our present delay be attributed, and indirectly, if not directly, nearly all the inconveniencies we are suffering from. Here again our shrewd Allies beat us hollow. Before the French landed they had bought waggons, bullocks, or mules, &c., and brought with them a regular waggon train. The commissary in charge of the light division told me that at the present moment we have only thirty regular commissariat carts for the whole army, and only one field ambulance. They had, as they imagined, a number of bullock carts of the country ready for use, but either from some misunderstanding about wages, or from a more attractive offer elsewhere, the men absconded with their bullocks and left us crippled. We fear being compelled to leave our tents behind, not having means to carry food for the baggage animals. Our arrangements for the sick and wounded are 649 alike deficient. I have just been to the Commissariat folk, and they tell me they cannot even give to the hospital the bullocks and drivers required to take the hospital marquee and stores.A private letter from Varna states—With regard to the hospital establishment it is very defective. I have heard many complaints from the surgeons. They have not supplied us here with a single pannier for conveying medicines—and with the army in movement, we were forced the other day to borrow from the French, who kindly offered it, a conveyance to take a sick man from their camp to Gallipoli. Ask the question in the House, and you will be told that you are misinformed, or it will be denied altogether.Had it not been for our excellent Consul, Mr. Calvert, I do not know what our troops would have done on reaching Gallipoli. He had to provide them with quarters, to look after their commissariat, and to be the organ of communication with the local authorities. It is fortunate we had such a Consul on the spot. The Committee is probably not well aware of the multifarious duties which are imposed upon a British Consul in the East, and of the nature of the requirements which he is expected to possess. He is a judge, both in civil and criminal suits, and is called upon to adjudicate upon every variety of case from a murder to a divorce. He must be a diplomatist and politician, and he is the political agent at the petty court of a pasha. He must be well versed in commercial and maritime law, as he is the authority to which merchants and seamen must apply, and he is generally the agent of Lloyd's. He must speak with fluency half a dozen languages, and, add to all this, he is expected to entertain, at a salary of 250l. a year, from which all manner of deductions in the way of Foreign Office agency and income tax are made, every traveller who chances to visit his district. He must, indeed, be a phenomenon—and Mr. Calvert may fairly be quoted as an instance of such a phenomenon. But for his services our troops would have met with great difficulties, and would undoubtedly have been exposed to great hardships. The noble Lord has stated to the Committee that a considerable portion of the sum to be voted this evening will be required for the transport service. A noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) has already in another place called the attention of the country to the enormous sum which has already been expended in transporting our troops to the East, and has ably pointed out the defects in that branch of the service. It would 650 be instructive to have a return of the various sums paid for demurrage upon vessels engaged for this purpose by the Government. I am informed that on the Himalaya alone nearly 20,000l. was expended on account of some change of plan in keeping our troops at Malta. I do not now wish to blame the Government for what has happened, which may, as in similar cases, be attributed to a defective system; but such facts ought to be known, that their recurrence may be prevented. Let us look also at the number of accidents which have occurred to us, whilst, as far as I can learn, not one has happened to our Allies. Surely this must show great defect and mismanagement somewhere. One of our principal sources of failure and expense is the neglect, so apparent in everything connected with the prosecution of the present war, of taking precautionary and other measures in proper time. Why, I cannot but ask, were not British Commissioners sent last year to the Turkish camp to ascertain the real condition of the Turkish army and the prospects of the campaign. Had this step been taken we should not have heard last year, as we did in this House and elsewhere, that the Russians might march unimpeded to Constantinople. Even the Spanish Government, little interested as it must be compared with ourselves in this war, sent General Prim as a military Commissioner to the Turkish camp. Had we taken a similar step how many mistakes we should have avoided, That the presence of a few English military men of recognised ability and of experience would have been of the utmost importance to the Turks is now fully proved by the gallant defence of Silistria, which would not have held out had it not have been for the counsels and encouragement given by two British officers, Captains Butler and Nasmyth, one of whom, unfortunately, has not survived to reap the reward to which his courage and skill so fully entitled him. It might be said that the defects of which I complain have undoubtedly hitherto existed, but that a remedy was now applied by the formation of a new department and the nomination of a Minister at War, under whom the various branches of the military service would be consolidated. But, unfortunately, the change announced by the Government has not been carried out either to the satisfaction of the House or the country. A Minister of War has been named, but the old system appears still to exist with all its anomalies and 651 abuses. It is true that the Government has promised that the consolidation shall ultimately take place, and that the required changes shall be made; but, unfortunately, this Session has been more fruitful in promise than in performance. My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding has taunted some of those who sit beneath him with a predilection for a certain noble Lord who is supposed to have been preeminently qualified to fill the office of Minister of War. But my hon. Friend has much exaggerated. No one, and I less than any one, would wish to say one word against the noble Duke who now holds that high position. I believe him to be eminently qualified from his known integrity, his habits of business, and his great industry, to discharge the arduous and responsible duties of his office. But this is no personal question. I wish to raise it above any personalities. What are the facts of the case? The noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton was believed in the country to represent certain opinions, and to be identified with a certain policy, which, whether rightly or wrongly, I will not pretend to say, were supposed to be guarantees that this war would be carried on with increased energy and for certain great ends. The noble Viscount had earned a great European reputation by his vigorous and decisive policy in a question almost parallel with that which arose last year, and which has led to this war. I do not wish, under present circumstances, to do more than to allude to this case; but the Committee will remember that when we were on the very brink of a war, peace was maintained by the decision and vigour of action of the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount's long experience in the public affairs of Europe as Foreign Minister of this country, and his no less intimate acquaintance with the conduct of war, seemed to point him out as the man peculiarly qualified for the direction of this great contest. His appointment to the Ministry of War would have been accepted in Europe as an earnest of our determination to carry on the war with due vigour, and would have been worth an army to us. The Duke of Newcastle—perhaps erroneously—has the reputation of being a Member of that party in the Cabinet which is opposed to the war, and which has embarked with reluctance in any hostilities whatever. His appointment was consequently looked upon as a triumph of that party in the Cabinet which is known as the peace party. It is 652 on this account alone that his nomination was calculated to create distrust in the intentions of the Government both at home and abroad. Many appointments have recently been made by the Government which have caused great dissatisfaction. I have often heard it said—and, indeed, one of my correspondents from the East makes a similar remark—why does not the Government allow some great firm to contract for carrying on the war? This question, however ludicrous it may appear, is based upon a very good common-sense view of the matter. If my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkwall (Mr. Laing) were to build a new Crystal Palace, or the hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. Stevenson) were to undertake some great railway in a foreign land, they would not employ this man, because he was first-cousin to a celebrated engineer, or that man because he had been two or three years longer in the trade than another contractor; but they would seek out those who, by their abilities, experience, and knowledge, were best calculated to carry the undertaking to a successful, speedy, and economical conclusion. It is upon the same principle that the public wish appointments to be made; and until appointments are made upon this principle we shall ever have to complain of failures and fatal errors. In speaking of the public service I may allude to a notice of Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Poole which has appeared for some time on the papers, relative to Persia, and which I regret has not been brought before the House. It is certainly not right that at such a crisis as the present the head of our mission in Persia should be absent from his post. The affairs of the mission are now confided to a gentleman, who, while speaking of him with every respect, I cannot say I believe to be competent to the discharge of the most important duties which must now devolve upon him. Had it not been for the Turkish Ambassador at Teheran, a man of consummate abilities, indeed of real genius, I believe that Persia, by this time, would have openly sided with Russia. Persia is now of the utmost importance to us as an ally; more especially as the Ottoman troops have hitherto been unable to contend successfully with Russia in Asia; and, I believe, that had our mission been in good hands, we might, by this time, have secured her active co-operation.
I will now turn to the speech of my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council. That speech was undoubtedly 653 in many respects highly satisfactory to the Committee, and will, I believe, prove so to the country. But unfortunately that noble Lord is not the Prime Minister, upon whom, after all, the conduct of the policy of this country depends. The noble Lord has made speeches in a similar spirit before that which now occurred. But a very few days ago I considered it my duty to call the attention of the House to a speech which had been made in another place by Lord Aberdeen. In consequence of the notice of a Resolution which I gave, that noble Earl volunteered an explanation, which, unsatisfactory as I confess it to have been to me, I accepted, and, in conformity with what appeared to be the general feeling of the House, I withdrew my notice. But it is of the utmost importance to have the history of that speech in mind, as precisely the same thing might occur again. It was this. A noble and learned Lord, deeming the time come when some definite explanation should be given by the Government as to our relations with Austria and the German Powers, brought that subject forward in another place in a speech of singular eloquence, rendered still more remarkable by the great age of the noble orator, who seemed to be uttering the wisdom founded upon the knowledge and experience of almost two ordinary lives—in which, with masterly clearness, he pointed out the disastrous effects of the ambition of Russia, and the only means by which that fatal lust of conquest and aggrandisement could be effectually checked. The noble Earl the Minister for Foreign Affairs enlarged upon the speech of Lord Lyndhurst, and pointed out, in words worthy of the occasion, the only true policy of England. The leader of the Opposition (Lord Derby), in a candid and generous spirit, expressed his full concurrence in the sentiments which had fallen from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and declared the satisfaction with which they would be received by the country. It might reasonably have been supposed that even the Government would have rejoiced at an unanimity which would have enabled them to persecute their war with vigour and energy. But a fatal impulse induced Lord Aberdeen to rise, and, without any apparent reason, to make a speech, which completely destroyed the effect of the statements of the Foreign Minister, and again plunged the country into doubt and alarm. Now, unfortunately the very same thing may occur again. Unfortunately 654 Lord Aberdeen is the Prime Minister of this country. It is to him we are to look for the policy of the Government. He may, as recent events have shown, dismiss a Minister at any moment without notice or consultation with his colleagues. During what I may almost call their temporary suspension of the constitution, even the noble Lord who has spoken this evening, and that noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton might be told at any time that their places had been disposed of, and that their room was more desired than their company.
It will be remembered, too, that last autumn, whilst negotiations of the utmost importance were going on, upon which the very question of war or peace depended, decisions of the most momentous character were come to by only two or three Members of the Cabinet, who met together without reference to their colleagues. In such a state of things we should be ill discharging our duties—ill fulfilling the important trust placed in us—if we were to allow the House to separate without obtaining the most distinct and positive assurances, not from one Member of Her Majesty's Government, but from the Government generally, as to their real policy, and the objects and ends of the war. Let me now turn to the speech of Lord Aberdeen, to which I have alluded, and to the explanation which must, I presume, be received as the solemn declaration of the noble Earl of his opinion and policy. The noble Earl in his first speech had laid down three principal propositions, namely, that Russia had not enlarged her territorial possessions by the Treaty of Adrianople; that the only use she had made of the power gained by that treaty, was to afford, in a time of great need, valuable aid to Turkey; and that, if we could only secure a peace for twenty-five years on the same terms, we might consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate. Now, the noble Earl prefaced his explanatory statement by the declaration that there was nothing in his first speech which he had to retract or contradict. It is true, he admitted, that although the Treaty of Adrianople had conferred no very considerable territorial possessions on Russia, it had nevertheless given her territorial positions, even more important than possessions, as they called her to exercise an influence which must alternately secure to her the large accession of territory which she undoubtedly desired. With the exception, therefore, of this point, the other de- 655 clarations of the noble Earl remain uncontradicted. We must consequently examine how far they are consistent with the truth, and with the true policy of this country. In order to justify himself, the noble Earl had produced a despatch, written by him to our Ambassador at St. Petersburg, some time after the signing of the Treaty of Adrianople, and communicated, it is asserted to the Russian Government. That despatch is, no doubt, an admirably written document; there is scarcely a sentiment in it with which I do not heartily agree, but the question naturally occurs why, with the knowledge of the views and the policy of Russia which this despatch displays—why, with these facts before your eyes, did you permit the Treaty of Adrianople to be concluded at all. It was very easy to protest after it was too late; this step should have been taken before. Let us for one moment recur to the circumstances under which this treaty was obtained; they are of very great interest at this moment in illustrating, to a very remarkable degree, the policy which had been pursued by Lord Aberdeen on the present occasion. In a selection of documents, the authenticity of which is admitted in a well-known speech by the noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton, I mean the State Papers, which appeared some years ago in the Portfolio, is a despatch from Prince Lieven to Count Nesselrode, written some time before the signature of the Treaty of Adrianople. It appears that the Russian Ambassador wished to enlist this country in the cause of Russia during her war with Turkey, and that he applied to the Duke of Wellington, who, however, showed great alarm at the probable results of the contest, and appeared inclined to oppose the views of Russia. Prince Lieven then had recourse to Lord Aberdeen, who was Minister for Foreign Affairs. In a despatch to the Emperor, he reports the results of this interview with that statesman.As he (Lord Aberdeen)," he writes, "was acquainted only imperfectly with our conversation with the First Minister, he laboured, when he learnt the details of it, to soften the disagreeable impressions that might have been left upon us by his language at the commencement of it, by the reiterated assurance that at no period had it entered into the intentions of England to seek a quarrel with Russia. Public opinion was always ready to burst forth against us (Russia). The Government (British) could not constantly prove it, and it would be dangerous to excite it on questions of maritime law that touched so nearly the national prejudices. On the other side, we 656 could reckon with entire confidence upon the well-disposed (bienveillante) and friendly disposition of the English Ministry, which struggled against them (the national prejudices). Public opinion was pronounced against us because generally in England it took the side of the Whig—but, au reste, the British Cabinet was far from not wishing us success; on the contrary, it wished us success, prompt and decisive, because it knew that it was the only means of terminating the war, which could not be regarded except as a great misfortune, since it was impossible to foresee its results. The English Minister entered into long directions to demonstrate that we lent to him intentions that he could not have, and ended by saying that the Cabinet of London desired that the war should be terminated to the honour and advantage of Russia.The language held by Lord Aberdeen at that period, as reported in this despatch, corresponds, I believe, exactly with that held by the noble Earl during the negotiations which preceded the war. At that time I had good reason for believing there was a strong hope felt and expressed that the Russians should be successful at Khalafat and elsewhere, because success might lead them to moderate their terms, and might then smooth the way to a peace. Fortunately for the honour and interests of this country, those who had thus hoped were disappointed. Lord Aberdeen has declared that at the time of the Treaty of Adrianople the Russians displayed great moderation, as they might have marched upon the capital.. But we now learn, from undoubted sources, that so far from the capital being in danger, it was the remains of the Russian army that was in the most imminent peril. Out of the 25,000 men who reached Adrianople, scarcely 8,000 were fit for active service, the rest being utterly helpless from disease, and Mustapha Pasha was advancing upon them with from 50,000 to 80,000 fresh troops. I have been told that when Sir Pulteney Malcolm informed Admiral Hayden, who commanded the Russian blockading fleet in the Ægean, of the signature of the treaty, the latter jumped out of bed, and, embracing the bearer of such welcome intelligence, exclaimed, "We are saved." Let the House remember that Lord Aberdeen himself stated in his despatch that that treaty was accepted by the Porte at the persuasion of the British Ambassador—his own brother. The French Court at that time was well known to be in the direct interests of Russia, if not to have secret understanding with her. The noble Earl has declared that so far from the Treaty of Adrianople having led to any aggression on the part of Russia on Turkey, 657 it has enabled Russia to confer a signal service upon the Porte. How far is such a statement warranted by facts? In the first place let it be remembered that the secret article of the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, that signal service to which Lord Aberdeen alludes, was made directly in favour of Russia, as it expressly states, closing the Bosphorus and Dardanelles against the ships of war of all other Powers. The indignation which that secret article created throughout Europe cannot be forgotten. But what has the Treaty of Adrianople enabled Russia to do in Servia, in the Principalities, on the Danube? Of Servia I can speak with some confidence; and, now that twelve years have elapsed since the events to which I refer occurred, without betraying any diplomatic secrets. I was employed in that province on a secret mission when the revolution of 1842 broke out. It was a national movement against the reigning Prince Michael, who had become a mere tool of Russia, and had incurred the popular resentment. He was expelled. Our Consul General there misunderstood the cause of the revolution, and protesting against it, lowered his flag, and left the country. I took a different view of the subject. Lord Stratford, then Sir Stratford Canning, did so also, and supported the Porte in her recognition of the change. Russia, however, placing a sense upon the Treaty of Adrianople which it could not bear, insisted upon a new election of a Prince, the expulsion of the leading men of Servia, and the cancelling of the act of recognition of the Porte. What course did Lord Aberdeen take? Why, he justified and approved of the conduct of Russia, admitted the construction he had placed upon the Treaty of Adrianople, and, in replying to Lord Beaumont, who brought the subject forward in another place, declared that—Nothing could exceed the state of horror of the Servian people, from the excesses which had been committed by those who had arrived at power. The noble Lord (Lord Beaumont) had distinctly referred to the revolt as an attempt of a free people to exercise their just right to elect their chief; but, so far from this being correct, the revolt was the effect of a corrupt bargain with the Pasha of Belgrade and two or three ambitious Servian chiefs. The revolt possessed no character of a patriotic and national movement; and so far was he from entertaining the apprehensions expressed by the noble Lord opposite, that Russia would move 50,000 men into Servia, he had very little doubt that in a short time we should see the youth at the head of the Govern- 658 ment but too happy to make his escape from that people over whom he now reigned.It would be difficult to point out any prophecy which had proved so utterly false. The Prince, then elected, is still the chief of the Servian nation, and that province, under his administration, has attained that condition of prosperity and independence which renders him the hope of the Sclavonian population of Turkey. The conduct of Russia in the Danubian Principalities had been more successful than in Servia. From a mere right of interference, she has gradually arrogated to herself a right of actual occupation; and Wallachia and Moldavia have become, in her eyes, mere Russian provinces. Such having been the policy of Russia since the Treaty of Adrianople, fully justifying the results which Lord Aberdeen predicted from that treaty, is it not surprising to find that Ministers for Foreign Affairs of this country last year, whilst Lord Aberdeen was Prime Minister, thus addressing their own Ambassador at St. Petersburg to the Emperor of Russia. Lord John Russell's despatch of February 9, 1853, runs thus—Upon the whole, then, Her Majesty's Government are persuaded that no course of policy can be adopted more wise, more disinterested, more beneficial to Europe, than that which His Imperial Majesty has so long followed, and which will render his name more illustrious than that of the most famous Sovereigns who have sought immortality by unprovoked conquest and ephemeral glory.Lord Clarendon writes to Sir Seymour, March 23, 1853—They (the Government) feel entire confidence in the rectitude of His Imperial Majesty's intentions, and as they have the satisfaction of thinking that the interests of Russia and England in the East are completely identical, they entertain an earnest hope that a similar policy there will prevail.It was such declarations as these, Sir, which acted as an encouragement to the Emperor of Russia, and mainly led to the state of things which ended in this war.
As the noble Lord the Lord President of the Council has alluded to the policy of Austria in his speech, it is necessary that I should say a few words upon that subject. After the Russian forces had crossed the Pruth and war became inevitable, the Government, instead of at once taking their stand upon the great principles involved, threw themselves as a last resource into the arms of Austria, and she became for a time the arbiter of the peace of Eu- 659 rope. This I believe to have been a very fatal error, one which has led, and which will inevitably lead, to great evils. Austria, from the very commencement, had held but one language—that which she demanded, and was prepared to demand, was a return to the status quo ante bellum. This policy had been formally announced in State papers, to some of which even the representatives of France and England are parties. In every treaty and protocol which has hitherto emanated from Vienna, this principle is most distinctly laid down. If Austria hereafter should refuse to go a step further, we have no cause to complain. We might, in the first instance, have been persuaded that such would have been her policy. In treating with nations, we must inquire what their real interests are; by this alone will their policy be guided. Now, what are the interests of Austria in this contest, and what is her position? Her dominions are made up of a number of distinct races, some of which, from various causes, are disaffected to the Government and ready to rise against it. Austria must, therefore, be anxious to avoid any event, such as a war, which might lead to disturbances within her own territories. Again, Austria is a representative of the despotic principle in Europe, of which Russia also is a representative. Austria has received signal aid from Russia in quelling a great revolutionary movement, and she naturally looks to Russia alone for future help under similar circumstances, which must sooner or later inevitably occur. The interests of Austria are, therefore, opposed to any hostility with Russia. On the other hand, she cannot join Russia against England and France, because she knows that the loss of her Italian provinces would follow, and that she is quite unable to resist a great maritime Power. Although her true policy thus prevents her uniting cordially either with Russia or ourselves, still it is essential to her interests that the Principalities should be evacuated and should be as much as possible withdrawn from the influence of Russia. The reason is obvious to those acquainted with those countries. Austria knows full well that the moment the Danubian Principalities are brought completely under the influence of Russia, the intrigues of that ambitious Power will be brought to bear upon the Sclavonian populations of Servia, Bosnia, and ultimately of the adjoining Sclavonian provinces of Austria. In the Turkish Sclavonian provinces the interests of Austria are 660 of precisely the same character as those of Russia. Such being the position of Austria, it is evident that her true policy was one of strict neutrality; and I believe we have committed a great political error, in endeavouring to force her to abandon her true policy, and to take part with us. And, if Lord Aberdeen's not very complimentary assertion, "that France is more than a match for Austria and Russia put together," be true, there was surely no need of her alliance. Few statesmen would, at such a time as this, be inclined to deny that it is of the utmost importance to this country, that there should be in the centre of Europe two great neutral Powers like Austria and Prussia. But, notwithstanding all our efforts, we have heard this evening that the course which Austria is prepared to take is still doubtful. And this uncertainty becomes a serious cause of embarrassment to us; as long as it exists, we cannot decide upon the part that our troops are to take in this war, whether they are to remain inactive at Varna, to advance to the Danube to aid the Turks in expelling the Russians from the Principalities, or to be sent at once to Sebastopol? Although the Turkish troops have fought with a bravery unsurpassed behind walls and in entrenchments, yet their utter want of proper officers would render it exceedingly hazardous for them to venture upon a battle in the open field against a Russian army. Unless, therefore, the action of Austria be brought at once to bear upon the Principalities, and the Russians are induced to withdraw, we cannot leave the Turks to themselves. The assurances of the noble Lord with regard to Austria have, it appears to me, been very unsatisfactory; and at the end of his speech I was at a loss to determine whether he had told us that she was with us or against us. There were some assurances of the noble Lord, however, which were undoubtedly highly satisfactory, especially that with regard to the destruction of Sebastopol, the Russian fleet, and of the future relations of the Danubian Principalities with Russia. I might have wished that he had touched upon one or two other points—there is the possession of Bessarabia, and the consequent command of the navigation of the Danube—without a satisfactory settlement of which this war should not be brought to a close. There are the Circassians, who have resisted with extraordinary perseverance and courage all attempts of Russia to take possession of their country 661 and to destroy their national independence. We have now encouraged them to take the field against their oppressors, and aided them in their attempts to drive the Russians from their country. It would be the height of ingratitude to desert them at the conclusion of a war, and to leave them to the vengeance of Russia. I have heard it very frequently said, that no peace would be satisfactory unless the Bosphorus and Dardanelles were opened to the fleets of all nations. But it must be remembered, that as long as Sebastopol exists, and a Russian fleet commands the Black Sea, such a state of things would be in the highest degree dangerous. No one acquainted with the subject can doubt that had the Dardanelles and Bosphorus been open twelve months ago to the fleets of all nations, either the Porte would have been compelled to submit to any terms the Emperor of Russia might have dictated, or Constantinople would have been in his hands. In consequence of the treaty of 1841 the appearance of the Russian fleet at the entrance of the Bosphorus would have been an act of war, and the Turks might have resisted, and if that treaty had not existed, Russia, before a declaration of war, might have entered the Straits under any plea, and might have inclosed a part of Constantinople. If Sebastopol is to fall, no time is to be lost in attempting its reduction. The noble Lord has told us that the Russian fleet is now useless, that it is blocked up in harbour by the allied fleets, and that it dare not venture out to sea. This may be perfectly true, but we must remember that in three months our position will be reversed. It is impossible, as Admiral Dundas has himself reported, for our fleet to hold to open sea after the beginning of November. We shall then be shut up in the Bosphorus, and the Russians, acting upon their policy of avoiding a superior force, and seizing the opportunity of inflicting injury upon a weaker, will arise from Sebastopol, and we may have a repetition of the lamentable event of Sinope. As yet to the Turks alone are due all the successes of the present campaign; they alone have resisted the power of the Czar. I trust I am the last man to clamour for victories, and to show an unworthy impatience, which can only prove an ignorance of the true nature of the great struggle into which we have entered, but I think I may venture to say that, after the great sacrifices we have made, and the magnitude of the military and naval 662 forces sent out from the shores of England, the country may fairly expect some results commensurate to them before the close of the year. But such ends can only be obtained if the Government be determined to carry on this war with energy and vigour, and with a view to such results as would alone have warranted us in entering into it. After the discrepancies of opinion amongst various Members of the Government which I have pointed out, it becomes of the utmost importance that before the conclusion of this debate we should learn what the intentions of Her Majesty's Ministers really are from one of those right hon. Gentlemen who are believed to represent opinions opposed to those of the Lord President of the Council, for instance, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Let satisfactory assurances be distinctly given, and I for one will vote with alacrity any sum which Her Majesty's advisers may think necessary to enable them to carry on this war. But we should not be discharging the trust placed in us by the country if we permitted the House to separate without having received some such declaration from the Government upon which we could entirely rely.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
said, he had not the least desire to interfere with the Vote proposed. On the contrary, he wished to afford every assistance to the Government in carrying on with vigour the war in which the country was engaged. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London had referred in his speech to the wish of some Members who desired that the House should reassemble in autumn. It was his opinion that the House, in voting the money, and in consenting to place the Vote of Credit in the hands of the Government, should endeavour to obtain from the Government some such an assurance. Her Majesty should be asked not to exercise Her power of proroguing Parliament, except for the purpose of reassembling it after a short recess. Such an assurance would give satisfaction to the House and to the country. We were engaged in a war which one of the Ministers had described as a war for the independence of nations, and as a struggle of civilisation against barbarism. The people had come forward nobly to support the Government in carrying on the war, and they had readily made great sacrifices; but they wished the contest to be prosecuted with energy, in order that they might have some compensation for those sacrifices. They were anxious that these sacrifices 663 should not be made without obtaining equivalent advantages. But the people of the country looked to the conduct of the war with a jealous eye, and, he might safely add, with feelings of apprehension, and with a certain degree of suspicion. Their apprehensions were not aroused as regarded the enemy, much less by any mistrust as to the prowess of their naval and land forces; but the suspicion was, that some of those who were in power had not their hearts in the war, and were not honest in their intentions to prosecute it with vigour. He had no doubt that this was the general opinion of the country. Men of all parties concurred in opinion that the Minister now at the head of the Government was not the man who ought to be in power during the continuation of a war like the present. He repeated that this was the general opinion; and however placemen and Peelites might flatter themselves that it was not so, he assured them they would find it out if they would only go among the people. It was his firm belief that if a meeting were to be held in Drury Lane Theatre, in order to express the opinion of the public upon the mode of proceeding adopted by the Prime Minister, the place would be full from the gallery to the pit, and that it would be unanimous in condemning him. The people were ready to give their money to carry on the war; but they wanted to have value for it. When they saw vast armaments proceeding from this country, armaments as great and as grand as any we had ever sent forth, and that nothing was accomplished by them, they could not help being possessed with suspicions that, somehow or other, orders had been given to their gallant commanders which prevented them from using the power at their disposal. They could not help believing that directions had been given to carry on the war against the great "gentleman" of Russia in a gentlemanlike way, and not to press him too far. The people of England also saw that those who had been most engaged in resisting him diplomatically, who had most exposed the designs and pretensions of the Emperor of Russia, and who had done most to present him to the world in his true colours, had not, when they returned to their own country, been received with any marks of special favour. Sir Hamilton Seymour, who had conducted the important mission of which he had charge in a manner that did infinite credit to his temper, ability, and ca- 664 pacity, came home lately, and it was supposed that hardly any reward would have been too great for him. But what reward had Sir Hamilton Seymour received? What mark of royal favour had Her Majesty been advised by Her responsible Ministers to confer upon him? Yet we saw at the same time Russian noblemen visiting this country during the war, and treated as the favoured guests of Cabinet Ministers. All these were things which made an impression upon the people of this country, and inspired them with distrust of the Government, or at least of its head. To be sure, the House had to-night heard a very spirited, an able, and a noble speech from the noble Lord the leader of the House; and he (Lord D. Stuart) could not help, whilst listening to that discourse, experiencing the common feeling of three-fourths of the House—what a pity it was that such a statesman, who could utter such sound, noble, and truly British views, should only occupy a comparatively subordinate situation in the councils of the country. The distrust entertained of the Government in the country was general, but it was confined to the Prime Minister. Nor could any one be surprised at it, for, at the very moment when the noble Lord was, in such eloquent sentences, expounding the policy of the country, Lord Aberdeen was in another place uttering a speech of a different description, a speech which he had been told deserved the reproaches of the country for its lukewarmness and faint-heartedness. What was the use of the noble Lord the leader of that House making vigorous declarations so long as they were counteracted by another Minister, more powerful, in another place? There was only one thing which could dispel the distrust in the Government that had so long existed, and which had grown more and more till it had reached the highest pitch. He believed, if the Ministry had thought proper to advise Her Majesty to appoint a certain Minister as Secretary of the War Department, the country might have been reconciled to the Government of Lord Aberdeen. He believed that if his noble Friend the Home Secretary had been appointed to that office, his name would have been a guarantee to the people for the war being carried on with vigour and energy. There was no doubt that the very name of Palmerston carried with it an amount of moral force equal to a whole army. His noble Friend's name was 665 known in war as well as in peace; and wherever it was known it was both loved and feared, for it was synonymous with the power and the strength of England. It was rumoured, however, that the Prime Minister had declared, or had been heard to say, that so long as he was in power Lord Palmerston should never have the conduct of the war. The opinions he had expressed he firmly believed were the general opinions of the country. Let the House consider whether they were founded in truth. If they were only senseless clamour, it was the duty of the House of Commons to show that they had no foundation. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had spoken of the great armaments sent out from this country. Grand armaments they were; but up to this time they had produced little or no effect. He gave every credit to those at the head of departments for the extraordinary promptitude with which they had equipped and sent them forth;—all honour to them for that!—but he must observe that they ought to have been prepared much sooner. The army ought to have been sent to the neighbourhood of Turkey before war was declared, in order that it might have acted at once. In war, promptitude was everything. No one knew that better than his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. He had always shown great promptitude. Look at his conduct with regard to Portugal. When he had made up his mind, action immediately followed. The same occurred with respect to Greece. But in the present case, though the army was sent out with great promptitude and in admirable order, did it go out to fight the enemy? No; it first went to eat oranges at Malta, then to Gallipoli, and then to Scutari. At length it got to Varna, and at Varna it had since remained, unable to move because there had not been the forethought to prepare proper means for its advance; the Commissariat was not ready. That department had not provided horses or mules, or beasts of burden of any kind. The army, therefore, was yet at Varna—very well as a demonstration, but unfit for action. Somewhat similar observations might be made as to the Navy. What was wanted, both in the Black Sea and in the Baltic, was vessels of small draught. No operation on the Danube could be undertaken without them. An officer in the fleet when in the Bosphorus, whom he knew, pooh-poohed the idea of our going to war, "be- 666 cause," said he, "we have no vessels of shallow draught, and we can do little or nothing without them. Nor yet in the Baltic were there any vessels of shallow draught. He was credibly informed that we had no steam-vessel in the Baltic which drew less than eleven feet; but what was required in that sea was not vessels drawing eleven feet, but steamers drawing five and three feet. Many weeks ago a naval officer, now holding a command, mentioned this. He was asked, why not go to the Admiralty? "Oh," he said, "I should only be snubbed." The officer took care not to go to the Admiralty, and therefore he was not snubbed, but he got a command. He believed it would be possible to procure steamers of 200 tons drawing only three feet, which would carry one on two heavy guns. Vessels of this kind he was told were built in America fit to navigate any sea in the world. There was, however, nothing of the sort in the Baltic fleet. [Sir J. GRAHAM said that was a mistake.] If the statement was made in mistake he was happy to be corrected; but such statements had been made, and if the right hon. Baronet was incredulous, he could give him references. At all events, a great many useful hints might be taken in this respect from our brethren on the other side of the Atlantic. It was perfectly evident that the war in the Baltic must be carried on by means of bombardment, if at all. To do that there must be mortars; but he was informed that in the Baltic fleet there was no such thing as a mortar. He had been assured that when Admiral Plumridge went to Sveaborg, he found there seven ships of the line and three others moored in the ice. Why were they not attacked? It would have been easy to attack them, but why were they not attacked? The supposition was, that there were orders not to press Russia too hard. Cronstadt, no doubt, was a very formidable place, but he was assured it was accessible upon the north side to vessels of a very considerable size, and that if twenty vessels were sent there with mortars, towed by steamers, the place might be bombarded and the fleet destroyed. But there were no mortars in the fleet. Heavy guns it certainly had, but no mortars. The castles in the Morea were taken by means of mortars. Something of the same sort might easily have been done against Cronstadt. Cronstadt might by this time have been laid in ruins; and he had this opinion of the gallant officer who commanded the fleet that 667 he would have done it, if he had been supplied by the Government with the requisite means, and if he had not received orders to hold his hands. When the people saw these things, it was not surprising that they were dissatisfied, and that they should imagine that some person having preponderating influence in the Government could not be in earnest in this war. Though the Committee might be ready to vote the money required for the war, he thought it would not be desirable for Parliament to separate without having some assurance as to the time of its being reassembled, because there was a fear that, when Members were away, the head of the Cabinet would be most desirous of bringing the war to a conclusion, no matter how; and that negotiations would be entered into which would result in an ignominious, an impolitic, and an unlasting peace. It would be, he believed, perfectly constitutional in him to move an Address to Her Majesty, praying her not to prorogue her Parliament. He had come down to the House to-day firmly resolved to make such a Motion; and he had consulted the Speaker upon the subject, the right hon. Gentleman being always ready kindly to give his advice to any hon. Member who asked it. He could not, he believed, make such a Motion upon going into Committee, nor could he oppose the Speaker leaving the chair, because it would not be respectful to Her Majesty to have so interfered with Her most gracious Message. He then supposed it would be open to him in Committee of Supply to move an Amendment to the same effect; but Mr. Speaker had informed him that, according to the forms of the House, it was not competent for him to make such a Motion. He was therefore unable to make the Motion to-night. If he had the opportunity, he would tell hon. Gentlemen what was the Motion he intended to make, and if he had the opportunity he would make it still. It was exactly like one made at the beginning of the present century by a great statesman who ought to be venerated by the Government bench—Mr. Charles Grey, afterwards Earl Grey. It was this—That an Address be presented to Her Majesty humbly to pray Her Majesty to be graciously pleased not to prorogue Her Parliament until She should have been enabled to afford to this House more full information with regard to Her relations with Foreign Powers, and to Her views and prospects in the contest in which Her Majesty is engaged.Such was the Motion. He could not make 668 it now; but if he could devise any means of doing so without violating the technical forms of the House, he certainly would. His idea was not that they should be sitting de die in diem all through August and September—that would be taxing the patience of hon. Members too much; but supposing the Motion should be made, that it should find favour with the House, and that it should be the Queen's pleasure to consent to the wishes of the House, Parliament, instead of being prorogued, might be adjourned from time to time.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, we have now been listening for nearly six hours to a series of speeches delivered by some of the principal supporters of Her Majesty's Ministers, which have been devoted to criticisms upon some of the most important Members of the Administration, and the policy which they have of late been pursuing. Sir, I do not know that I should have been tempted to appeal to you at all upon this occasion had it not appeared in some degree that to a suggestion thrown out by myself we are indebted for a great portion of this debate. It is true that when the noble Lord and his colleagues gave notice of their intention to ask for this Vote of Credit, I did express my hope and expectation that the noble Lord would be able on this occasion to assure the House that it would have an opportunity of meeting at the latter end of the year, some little time before our usual meeting, in order to be well acquainted with the state of affairs, and so exercise that control, often desirable and salutary, over the conduct of the Minister, or do that which the presence of the House of Commons can often do to the advantage of a Government—namely, aid and, if need be, stimulate them in the moment of trial and exigency. I was not aware that that was a very unreasonable or unprecedented suggestion; and I did hope that the noble Lord might have found it convenient to tell us that he and his colleagues would feel it their duty to recommend Her Majesty to call Parliament together, probably in the month of November, for that purpose. The noble Lord, however, has not felt it his duty to follow that suggestion. But I think that the Committee will feel that it is not in any way an unreasonable proposition; and I do not see how its expediency can be better tested than by recalling the position of the country during the course of last autumn. Everybody must remember the great ambiguity 669 in which public affairs last autumn were involved—the dissatisfaction, the doubt, the uncertainty, the hesitation which seemed to characterise the conduct of public men, and the course of public policy. I do not know that there was a more general feeling throughout the country at the end of last autumn, than the wish that Parliament was assembled to elicit some distinct expression of policy on the part of the Government, and to encourage the Government if their policy was found deserving of support. Well, Parliament did not assemble; but what did occur? No one can forget the catastrophe of Sinope, which happened at the end of autumn; and does anybody suppose that had Parliament been sitting some weeks before that unfortunate affair occurred—if, in consequence of the representations of Parliament, and the expressions of feeling elicited by its sittings, the British fleet had entered the Black Sea three weeks earlier than it did—who does not feel that the affair of Sinope, in all probability, would not have occurred? I imagine that to be an opinion not prevalent merely, but universal. Why, one of the greatest mistakes in all our course has been the delay that took place in the entry of the British fleet into the Black Sea. It is that delay which has led to the greater part of the difficulties with which we are now surrounded, and which we are still labouring to overcome. Therefore, in my opinion nothing could be more reasonable than when a country is involved in war, and a war of this character—a moment of exigency like the present—that Parliament should assemble, and by its presence exercise that control over the Minister, or give to him that support, which the state of affairs may require. Sir, it appears that the noble Lord who has last addressed us (Lord Dudley Stuart) is also of the same opinion, for he meditated a much stronger step than I did myself, as is evident from the details he has just given us. I do not myself exactly understand why the Government should have been so alarmed by the notice which reached them of the intention of the noble Lord, because, as the House had gone into Committee, and the Lord President had moved the Vote, it was not open to the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone to make a Motion of the kind that he has just referred to. Therefore, Sir, although we may not have been able to-night to advance much towards the attainment of that 670 object, of which I believe the country generally highly approves, namely, a reassembling of Parliament at the end of autumn; still I think this will have not become an insignificant night in our deliberations, for it has been one pregnant with most important declarations on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers. Now, Sir, though we have not had a promise from the noble Lord the leader of this House that he and his colleagues will recommend Her Majesty to summon Her Parliament at an earlier period than usual—we have had to-night from the organ of Her Majesty's Government in this House a distinct announcement of the definite objects and purposes of the war in which we are now engaged. We have had before in this House discussions upon the cause of the war. I shall not now dwell upon that subject. I have expressed my opinion upon it. I am not ashamed to say that I still adhere to that opinion. I think that the cause of this war is the discordant materials of which the Government is composed. I think the war has been caused by a Coalition Government, and I believe there is no opinion more generally accepted than that. I know very well that you may say that the war has been produced by the ambition and by the aggressive action of Russia; but the ambition of Russia might have been checked without war—its aggressive action might have been restrained without war. You might have had recourse to the same means to which you had successful recourse before, and obtained your object without involving the country in this great conflict. However, Sir, I do not think it is now necessary for us to inquire too much into the cause of the war. I am sure that I have ever refrained from alluding to the conduct of the war. So long as the Government appealed to the confidence of Parliament to conduct that war in which they had recommended their Sovereign to engage, I felt it to be our duty to extend on that subject to the Government no niggard confidence. I have felt it my duty to agree to every Vote for which they have asked, and to avoid any criticism upon any part of their conduct with respect to the war which might easily have been provoked. I hardly know of any course from which the House of Commons should more rigorously refrain than from that of eagerly criticising the conduct of the commanders of expeditions. I know very well that under any circumstances the commencement of a great war like this must be sub- 671 ject to many accidents which the greatest foresight, the amplest resources, and the utmost prudence and discretion could not prevent; and I am sure that after sitting here six months canvassing the cause of the war, which I think we had a legitimate right to do, no one can accuse any Gentleman on this side of the House of obtruding criticisms upon the conduct of the war. We, of course, reserved to ourselves the right of forming an opinion with regard to that subject; even if we did not express it, we reserved to ourselves the right, when the fitting occasion should arrive, of not being precluded from such an expression of our opinion by being reminded that at the time we did not make any contrary observations. I only assert the privileges of Members in making this remark; but certainly so far as affairs have at present proceeded no word has escaped my lips, nor do I recollect that they have escaped those of any other hon. Member on this side of the House, which could throw any impediment in the way of the prosecution of the war in which we are engaged, or which could place it in the power of any Administration to say, in case consequences, it may be of a disastrous character, should occur, that it was the captious criticisms of the Opposition which prevented them from obtaining that support from the people, and from inspiring that spirit into our commanders, which are so necessary in such an emergency. But, Sir, though we have our opinion as to the origin and cause of the war, and though we have abstained from expressing any opinion upon its conduct, I must say that I have listened to-night with some degree—I will not say merely of surprise, but of consternation—to the announcement which the noble Lord has made this evening of the complete and absolute resolution at which the Cabinet has arrived as to the objects of the war, and the only terms upon which peace is to be concluded. Now, do not let me misrepresent the noble Lord. I understood him in order that he might justify this Vote, in order that he might disarm all opposition—I understood from him—that he was going, without reserve, to allow us to be the partners of the secrets of the Cabinet. I understood the noble Lord to say that the House should understand clearly what the objects were which the Government proposed to themselves in the conduct of this war, and without the accomplishment of which they would not be satisfied. The Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia 672 in the first place, are not to be permitted to come again under the protectorate of Russia. The second point is, that the strong fortress of Sebastopol is to be destroyed, and the Crimea to be conquered and occupied—indeed, the last is of course the necessary consequence of destroying Sebastopol. Sebastopol, then, is to be destroyed, as I understand from the noble Lord—
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I may as well state that what I said was, that I thought Russia could not be allowed to maintain the menacing attitude which she has lately done by keeping so large a fleet at Sebastopol.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Well, Sir, I think I shall have done some good in rising, for I appeal to every hon. Gentleman, wherever he sits in this House, and whatever may be his opinions, whether he has not been for the last six hours in a fool's Paradise—whether every speech that has been made, and every vote that has been refrained from, has not in fact been actuated by an idea totally different from that to which the noble Lord now gives expression. Without questioning in any way the accuracy of the words which the noble Lord has just used, I must repeat the expressions which I mistook him to have used, and I must then contrast them with the authorised version; and I will say it is one of the most remarkable misapprehensions which I have ever fallen into; and the only thing that consoles me under the mistake is, that of the hundreds of Gentlemen present, with the exception of those who occupy the Treasury bench, they must all have fallen into the same error as myself. I thought I heard the noble Lord say that one of the great objects of the war, and the accomplishment of which alone would satisfy the Government—as it certainly seemed to satisfy the House, and from some opinions that have been expressed will also satisfy the country—I thought it was that that great fortress which dominated over the Black Sea was to be destroyed, and the Crimea to be no longer left in the possession of Russia. I will afterwards advert to the observation which I was about to make before I was corrected, in answer to the noble Lord on that point; but what the noble Lord now says is, that this is a mistake, that I was dreaming in company with the vast majority of the House of Commons, and that instead of saying that, what he did say was, that Russia was no longer to be permitted to keep so large a naval force in 673 the Black Sea. Why, Sir, I thought the noble Lord said, although not in language so express, precise, and definite, as the fanciful quotation which I made from his speech respecting Sebastopol and the Crimea—I thought the noble Lord, speaking for an united Cabinet, was also going to free the mouths of the Danube, and even to take away Bessarabia from Russia. I thought I heard all this—I thought also that I heard, about the same time, that a speech was made in another place by the head of the Government, as well as the leader of the other House, couched in a very different tone, and conveyed in very different expressions. I know that when the news arrived in this House of what had there passed, there was a feeling of great distrust, perhaps of habitual suspicion; but all found consolation from what had fallen from the noble Lord in our own House—from the Minister who sits in the House of Commons, speaking to the representatives of the people; and they defied what might have been said in another place, upheld and encouraged by the noble Lord in language which we all admired at the time, and which, in my opinion, had only one fault—in being the fancy of my own imagination—but which I will only refer to, to show how completely we must have misconceived the statement of the noble Lord. Because I was about to remark, in answer to the statement of the noble Lord of the purposes of the united Cabinet, that though I was not disposed to enter into any discussion now as to the policy of taking Bessarabia, of depriving Russia of the protectorate of the Principalities, or of such great feats of arms as the destruction of Sebastopol and the conquest of the Crimea—though I was not disposed to enter into a discussion on such a course, or of the conduct of the Government, or of its allies—still I was about to say that I did think, with due deference to the noble Lord, that it was not the most prudent speech that ever was made. I did think that, whatever were the intentions of the united Cabinet—especially if they were of the colossal nature which as the noble Lord apparently, to my deceived ear, expressed to-night—it would have been perhaps more prudent if he had not exposed them with such complete frankness, and in a manner which hardly becomes us in the position we now occupy in those countries. I should feel I was performing an unworthy task if I were to criticise in an invidious spirit the conduct of our troops and commanders; 674 still, when the noble Lord—as I imagined—did express those brave words, so much, as I thought, "in Ercles' vein," I did think that, when our troops could not go fifteen miles from Varna, it would have been wiser if the noble Lord had not pledged the united Cabinet to those objects as the decided and definitive policy of Lord Aberdeen's Government. I say, then, that this discussion has become a very important one, if I have been mistaken in what the noble Lord said. I thought it important before, because we had, through the noble Lord, the authoritative statement of the policy of the Ministry. Let the Committee remember how that statement was made. It was not made in the heat of debate; it was not made in reply to taunts and sarcasms, such as we sometimes hear as an excuse for statements in this House which are not warranted in fact;—but the noble Lord gave a most important notice on a most important subject, namely, the conduct of the war—for testing, as he said, the confidence of Parliament;—and I have a right to refer to his speech, as an authoritative statement of it has appeared. Well, the noble Lord gives a notice; he takes ample time; late as is the Session, the House is full, to hear from the lips of the head of the Government in this place, this important statement on this most important subject. The noble Lord's speech is characterised with a fervour of feeling and a frankness of expression, according to the general feeling of the House, seldom exceeded; and so far as the tone of that speech could influence—I will not say the passions, but—the opinions and convictions of the House, it was perfectly successful. One after each other, Gentlemen have got up and spoken. Some of them have disapproved of Members of the Administration who are not in this House; some of them have disapproved of the places which others of them in this House occupy in the Cabinet; some have disapproved of the management of the Commissariat; some of them have disapproved of there not being flat-bottomed boats in the Baltic; but all have agreed that the tone of the noble Lord—the distinct manner in which he detailed to them the purposes and objects of the Government in the war they were conducting—was not only satisfactory, but more than satisfactory—more than they expected to hear; and yet, though we have now discussed this important question for six hours, we now find 675 the noble Lord never made this important declaration—we now find that this statement of the definitive policy of the Government is a mere illusion; and therefore I have a right to ask the noble Lord—what is your policy—if you have a policy? Now, Sir, I have had some experience in this House, and see many Gentlemen here who have had more experience than myself. Very strange scenes have sometimes occurred here, and very startling speeches have been made; but this I say in all sincerity, in my Parliamentary experience nothing has ever occurred so remarkable as this imaginary speech of the Lord President—which has occasioned a debate of six hours—which has satisfied the House of Commons—which is to satisfy the country—and which we now find, exactly at midnight, was never made. But is this all? Why, the noble Lord was careful in informing us that he was not only speaking for the Cabinet—and in the course of the evening he was asked by astonished Members whether he was really speaking for the Cabinet, for they could hardly trust their ears during the whole debate—the noble Lord not only said he made this statement on the authority of the united Cabinet, but he also informed the House and the country that he had reason to believe that the French Government entirely agreed with Her Majesty's Ministers in their resolution to achieve the same purposes and to obtain the same terms. Is that an imaginary statement too? The noble Lord shakes his head. I understand, then, that the noble Lord did not make that announcement of the feelings of the French Government. That also is a passage to be obliterated; for it depended on his previous sentence. I am sure I have not the least intention to descend to a cross-examination of the noble Lord—that is not an art which I can pretend to practise; but the noble Lord must admit, that if he did make a communication respecting the French Government, he may probably have been dreaming when he made that communication, instead of supposing that I was dreaming when I referred to it. But there is no end to the mystification in which the House has found itself in consequence of this speech of the Lord President which was never made. Here we are at the end of the Session. We have had a year and a half of doubt and perplexity. I will venture to say, never in this country before has there been such a continuous 676 period of perplexity of the public mind as in regard to the policy we were pursuing towards Turkey and Russia, and the purposes of this war. We are now arrived at the end of this Session. We were told we were to receive full compensation for all this obscurity—all this want of information—all this perplexity, hesitation, and uncertainty—and yet it appears to me there never was a period in which we were more involved in perplexity, in which the policy of the Government was more uncertain and obscure, and our prospects more visionary and fluctuating, than the present. When the House met at the beginning of the year, after that painful autumn, we all recollect when there was the first Parliamentary expression to the Government, reflecting with accuracy and without exaggeration the public opinion out of doors at that time; when we dwelt upon the vacillation, the infirmity of purpose, the impulses of a more suspicious character, which had brought about a result so little satisfactory to the people of this country, how were we met by the Government? The Government took the first opportunity, on the first debate, which must have been, I apprehend, on the Queen's Speech, or at least very early in the first week of the Session, of having their case stated in this House by one of the gravest and weightiest Members of the Cabinet—the First Lord of the Admiralty. What did the First Lord of the Admiralty say six months ago? The First Lord of the Admiralty, with that specious power which he has, admitted all those accusations and imputations which were made, or at least the justice of the grounds which the public had for complaining, and the Parliament for representing. He said there had been delay, and much, no doubt, that appeared unsatisfactory; "but," said he, "we have gained a great object—we have gained the co-operation of the German Powers." That was the statement of the right hon. Gentleman six months ago. Well, for six months we have been kept in the same doubt respecting the co-operation of the German Powers. I think myself that those who are well informed, especially of late, have had somewhat faint hopes of any very fortunate issue in that respect. But what happened to-night? The noble Lord made that statement, or rather I imagined, in a hallucination, the noble Lord to have made a statement which he did not make, about the dismemberment of Russia—about a change in the 677 territorial arrangements of Russia, the destruction of Sebastopol, the conquest of the Crimea and Bessarabia; and what were the arguments of hon. Members on that side of the House, and especially of the hon. Member for the West Riding? Why, the most remarkable of the arguments of that hon. Gentleman was, that "this is a most important announcement of the noble Lord, and fills me with the greatest alarm, for the whole policy of the German Powers is based on this position—however you may mitigate the stipulations in other respects—that the territorial status quo of Russia must be preserved; and now the Government, through the noble Lord, have stated to-nigh that they have changed their policy, and will not recognise the integrity of Russia; the Government have told us that certain provinces are to be taken from Russia, but they have not told us to whom they are to be given." "But," added the hon. Gentleman, "what hope then have we of this co-operation of the German Powers?" If the noble Lord never made that statement, he must have thought the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding was talking in his sleep. Why did not the Treasury benches call "Question"—why did they not terminate his discourse—why did not some one pull him by the coat, and say, "What are you talking about? Who said anything about our taking the Crimea? There 's not a word been uttered on the subject. What the noble Lord said was quite different." It is only to be hoped that the strangers in the gallery and others who have heard the debate have not been mystified by the Lord President, as we in the body of the House have been, or there is no knowing what mischief may be done before the noble Lord's explanation gets abroad. Consider the alarm that might have been produced on' Change to-morrow, that the manufacturers of Manchester and the merchants of Liverpool might have suspended their operations, what would would have been the price of Consols to-morrow, if, fortunately, I had not risen and represented the general misconception of the House, and had given the Lord President the opportunity of making a statement which, I trust, will be widely circulated, and from which we now learn, on the highest authority, that the policy of the Cabinet, with respect to the Turkish empire, is not of that dangerous nature which the noble Lord, from circumstances, allowed us for a moment to believe, but 678 that the same mild policy which has been pursued from the beginning will, I doubt not, be pursued to the end. But then I do think it of very great importance, after the misconception that has occurred, that we should clearly know from some Member of the Cabinet—and, as we are in Committee, I hope from the Lord President himself—what he really wishes us to believe that he really did say. As confidence in the Administration is the fashion of the day, I shall be too happy to take the noble Lord's last edition, or his last version of this great manifesto which he has delivered to-day, without the slightest doubt or reserve. But a great deal of mischief may have been done in the interim. We live in an age of electric telegraphs. There is a telegraph communicating with Warsaw, I believe—I am not sure that it does not reach St. Petersburg; and, for aught I know, the imaginary speech may be running through Europe at this moment. It is also of importance that the most popular medium of the political information of the day should, at the earliest moment, be enabled to send forth positively the noble Lord's latest version of what he did say, or meant to say. And let me just call the attention of the Committee to the extraordinary position in which Parliament has been placed throughout this Session by the speeches of the leading Ministers of the Crown on our foreign policy, which have been delivered in places where the most clear statements ought to be made—the two Houses of Parliament. Why, a noble Lord in another place, the leader of the Government, made a statement—I did not hear, in that case, that it was an imaginary statement—that excited the indignation of the assembly to which it was addressed, and of the whole nation—the whole people of England. It was very contrary to the statement which we imagined, till just this minute, we had heard this evening from the noble Lord opposite, which excited the admiration of the House, and which to-morrow we supposed would meet with the approbation of the people of England. But allow me to remind the House, that the noble Lord in another place—though he did not pretend for a moment that what he said was imaginary, that what his hearers supposed he said was an hallucination on their part—did, when he found that what he had said created alarm in the country, recall and recant what he had so said. Though the noble Lord was guilty—if it were guilt— 679 of making that first speech which so agitated and alarmed the people of this country—still, I cannot for the life of me understand how that noble Lord erred more than the noble Lord here (Lord John Russell), who has the art of making speeches which convey to the House of Commons, on important subjects, results exactly contrary to those which he intends; because, so far as I can now understand the policy of the noble Lord, there is no difference between the policy which the noble Lord now professes and the policy which was professed in that first speech made in another place by Lord Aberdeen, and which he was obliged, as it were, to recall and recant. What does the noble Lord say? The noble Lord says that peace is not to be for a moment consented to unless the protectorate of Russia over the Principalities is abolished—no very difficult task I should think, under present circumstances, and not requiring a grand alliance; that Russia, under a treaty—of course under a treaty—should not possess in the Black Sea more than a certain number of ships of war at all times—about the most difficult treaty of all kinds to put in practice. But of course it is quite premature to descant on the merits of such a capitulation. The noble Lord cannot, I think, pretend that there is any great difference—and I do not think that hon. Gentlemen in this House who make such painful distinctions between the position and the policy of Lord Aberdeen and the position and policy of some of his colleagues are acting with frankness and fairness to Lord Aberdeen if they persist in them. I do not pretend to be a supporter or admirer of Lord Aberdeen, but I cannot say that I at any time admire the Parliamentary policy that would make a distinction between the responsibility of an individual Member of a Cabinet apart from that of his colleagues under any circumstances. But I go further in the present case. I say that the policy which Lord Aberdeen has recommended, or has announced and follows, does not appear to me, after the noble Lord has informed us that the statement which I imputed to him has no foundation whatever, but is purely imaginary—I say it does not appear to me that the policy of Lord Aberdeen, enunciated in the first speech to which I have referred, substantially, upon this all-important subject, varies from that of the noble Lord opposite. Well, Sir, that is some satisfaction to the people of Eng- 680 land. We have not a divided Cabinet. We hear at last as the Session closes, that they are in unison upon one subject; and, so far as the conduct of the war for mall purposes, so far as having for the great object of their policy a mean and insignificant end, Her Majesty's Ministers, though they are a Coalition Ministry, appear to be unanimous.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I certainly hope, Mr. Bouverie, that that event which the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has announced as probably taking place at the present moment, may in fact, be realised, namely, that what has been passing in debate this evening is already flying upon the wings of lightning to the capital of Russia; for I think it will be news which will place the Power with which we are contending in that same embarrassment and difficulty, between admiration and consternation, in which the right hon. Gentleman has stated himself to have been thrown by the speech of my noble Friend. I think that when the people of Russia find, that upon an occasion on which the British Government has been making a solemn appeal to the Parliament of England for confidence and support, during the period—whatever it may be—when by the ordinary course of events it is divested of the daily countenance and support of Parliament, and when they find that that appeal has been met only by criticisms upon what some hon. Members conceive to be a want of energy here or there, or an insufficiency of vigour in conducting the war—when they see the unanimity with which the great objects which this country has engaged to accomplish has been approved by the representatives of the people of England—I think that they will be struck with admiration at the generous and manly feeling of the country, and will see with consternation the absence of any material difference of opinion as to the main points of the struggle in which the nation has engaged. The right hon. Gentleman has asked us what is our policy? I might, I think, postpone answering that question until he shall have made up his mind as to whether the announcement my noble Friend has made excites his admiration or has overwhelmed him with consternation. Perhaps it may do both; because, without imputing to leaders of Opposition any other feeling than that which naturally becomes their position, any statement from a Ministry that excites their admiration must also necessarily in 681 some degree produce a feeling of consternation. Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman upon this subject—on which perhaps, if there did exist any material difference of opinion, the organ of the party out of power might have taken some large and comprehensive views of the policy of the country—might have stated views differing from those of the Government—and might have confirmed those views by great argument taken from international policy and European interest—the right hon. Gentleman instead has given us a very amusing speech, playing upon words—endeavouring to pick holes in an argument; and I am sure my noble Friend must have shared the satisfaction which all on this bench have felt when we found that, instead of meeting us with any hostile expression—which indeed would have been most painful for us to have heard—the right hon. Gentleman argued the question in a very agreeable and friendly manner, and merely turned his observations to produce some cheers and laughter from that side of the House, founded upon distinctions which—as I have already said—had no real foundation in what fell from my noble Friend. Sir, my noble Friend did speak as the organ of the Government. The opinions which my noble Friend expressed as to the objects and arrangements which could alone be considered as affording a sufficient security to Europe to be accomplished by the war—were opinions which are shared by his Colleagues. It would ill become anybody to argue in this House, to lay down beforehand what should be the especial result of operations which depend upon the chances of war. My noble Friend pretended to do no such thing. My noble Friend pointed out that the object for which we had engaged in this contest was the independence and integrity of the Turkish empire, and, at the same time, security for Europe against the recurrence of those events which have led to the present unfortunate state of things. That security must be accomplished by the united arms of England and France; I care not who else joins us, or who else may stand aloof. These two great countries—the two greatest military and naval Powers of the world—united in cordial alliance for the accomplishment of any object, are surely able, by their own energetic action, to accomplish such a peace as shall satisfy the Conditions upon which we think the security of Europe shall be based. Sir, Gentlemen have found fault with differ- 682 ent parts of the arrangements that have hitherto been made. Why, it is very natural that a country which has for a long period of time been enjoying uninterruptedly the advantages and blessings of peace—it is very natural that it should not be able to estimate all the difficulties which are incident to the commencement of a great war—a war to be carried on at a remote part of the world, whither a large military force has to be conveyed by sea with all the equipments which are necessary for the carrying on of its operations. Why, Sir, instead of thinking that any improper delay has occurred, I think that any man who knows anything of military and naval operations will agree that, considering the short period of time which has elapsed since the forces of England and France left their respective shores, considering the difficulty of transporting over such an extent of sea so large a military force, with all the horses, baggage, guns, and equipments which are necessary to enable it to carry on its operations—I think that the astonishment would rather be at the rapidity with which these operations have been conducted, and at the degree of completeness which they have already attained, rather than any feeling that any undue delay, or any want of proper exertion, had occurred. It will be found that there are at the present time in Turkey two armies, of English and French, as complete, I believe, and as fitted to accomplish whatever operations they may have to perform, as any troops that ever took the field. The commanders by sea and by land are men in whom the two nations may place their confidence, and without—although we are told that this is a council of war—without accepting the bait just held out to discuss the plan of the campaign, and to deliberate upon the operations of the war, I think that if the Parliament of this country have brought themselves so far to place confidence in Her Majesty's Government as to continue to them the conduct of the war, and to intrust them with the ample means which have been placed at their disposal, and moreover to give them that which is now asked to meet incidental and unforeseen emergencies, I think they are bound, at least, to believe that there will be no want of energy in the carrying on of operations—that there will be no want of judgment in selecting the object to which their operations shall be directed. I say, then, that it is satisfactory that, upon he 683 present occasion, there exists in this House, upon the main and great points at issue, that same agreement of opinion which I believe to exist in the country at large. I can assure the House that my noble Friend, in speaking as the organ of the Government, has not overrated the determination of Her Majesty's Ministers to prove themselves worthy of the confidence which the nation and Parliament have placed in them; and that we do trust, that when Parliament meets again, be it sooner or be it later, it will have no reason to think that that confidence has been misapplied, or that the means placed at the disposal of the Government have not been employed for the purpose for which they were intended and voted. With regard to the meeting of Parliament, I am sure that none of those who have heard the manner in which my noble Friend has expressed himself in regard to the feelings of thankfulness which animate Her Majesty's Government for the generous support which we have received from Parliament in the course of these operations, can imagine, that if at any period during the recess circumstances should arise which would render it desirable that we should have the support, assistance, and advice of Parliament, there could be any hesitation on the part of the Government to resort at once to this House and to Parliament for that purpose. Every man knows that prorogations are only from time to time, and that, therefore, there is nothing to prevent Her Majesty's Government, if occasion should arise, from resorting, within the shortest possible period, to the assistance and the advice of Parliament. There can be no need, therefore, for any Resolution of this House, either to direct the attention of the Government to that subject, or to enable them to call Parliament together if they should think it expedient to do so. Sir, I should only hope, that, in whatever may remain of this discussion, this House will recollect that we are discussing this subject in the face of all Europe, that not only the character of the country, but in a great degree the moral position and influence of the country, depends upon the tone which is taken in this House upon matters of such great national importance; and although undoubtedly nothing has been said in this debate to tend in any degree to lower the moral and political influence of England in Europe in regard to these questions, I should hope that the final re- 684 sult will be that Europe—our allies and those who are our foes—our friends and our enemies—those who are with us and those who are against us—and those who are wavering between the two—shall see by the vote of this House that there is a settled determination on the part of Parliament and of the country that this war in which we have been reluctantly engaged—which has originated not from a Coalition Government, but from the reckless ambition of one man whose mind has been carried away by a course of successes which has led him to overrate the power of the country which he governs—that this war, I say, in which we have reluctantly engaged, but into which we have entered for objects of the greatest importance, not only to Europe, but to the civilised world—a war which can only be concluded except upon such terms as may justify the conduct of those who engaged in it, and may afford to Europe and to the world a fair prospect that, for a long time to come, we shall not be placed in a situation in which we may be compelled to make exertions of a similar nature for a similar purpose.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
said, he thought that what had passed that evening had very materially altered the position of affairs. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had made a retractation, or what amounted to a retractation, of one portion of his speech; and as it appeared that a speech of a different character from that of the noble Lord had been made in another place by the head of the Government that evening, he thought that the House ought not to pass the Vote until they should have obtained further information with respect to the intentions of Her Majesty's Ministers, and until they should have been enabled further to consider what course they ought to adopt upon that subject. He, therefore, felt it his duty to move that the Chairman should report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
—Unless some Motion is made which will be either a reduction of the amount asked or a refusal of it, I cannot see on what ground we can be asked to report progress. The noble Lord says that I made a retractation of the speech I delivered in the early part of the evening. But I deny that I made any retractation whatever. I was stating in the speech what might be the terms of peace. I stated at the commencement of the Session, and I repeated to-night, that it was very unadvisable we should discuss 685 the operations of the war, or speculate on what might be the result of those operations. I was not, therefore, speaking in any way as to the operations of the war. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cobden) said that we were holding a council of war, and that I proposed the capture of Sebastopol and the conquest of the Crimea, which was to be given to some new Power. I must say that I never stated anything of the kind. If the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) had not risen, it was my intention at the close of the debate, in answering different observations made in the course of the evening, to have noticed that statement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding. I have no doubt that he mistook what I said; but certainly the difference is very great between a statement with regard to the terms of peace, which, if negotiations were entered into, might be asked as things at present stand, and a speculation as to the operations of the war, in which I never entered. What I said was, that I did not think Russia could be allowed to keep a position at Sebastopol which was menacing to the independence of Turkey; but the manner in which she was to be deprived of that position I left unexplained, as I thought it was my duty to do. I only said that there is at Sebastopol a naval force which is a perpetual menace to the existence of the Turkish empire. I cannot see why the discussion should now be adjourned.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he certainly understood what the noble Lord said very much as he said it now. The noble Lord, in his first address, had drawn a distinction between the proposals which would have formed a proper basis for negotiations before the war, and the proposals which would form such a basis at present; and he had understood the noble Lord, in drawing that distinction, to have stated that some alteration in the Crimea would be one of the bases of negotiations on which the Allied Powers would now insist. It appeared to him that under those circumstances the hon. Member for the West Riding had very naturally inferred that it was intended that an expedition should be directed against the Crimea. He (Mr. Henley) had certainly felt at the time that the announcement of the noble Lord was a very extraordinary one; and that announcement had, as he thought, very naturally misled the House.
§ MR. LAYARD
had certainly understood the noble Lord to say that the large naval establishment in the Crimea should be done away with and destroyed. Considering that something of importance appeared to have been said in another place, and there would probably not be another opportunity of a debate upon this subject, he thought it of the utmost importance that time should be given for consideration, and he should, therefore, support the Motion of the noble Lord (Lord Dudley Stuart) that the Chairman should now report progress.
§ MR. GROGAN
had heard the speech of the noble Lord, and the impression conveyed to his mind was that which had been attributed to the noble Lord. Considering that Parliament was about to be prorogued, and that we had embarked in what we were assured would be a most protracted and expensive war, he did not think they would be doing their duty in allowing this Vote to pass, and this debate to close, without a clear and explicit explanation of what was to be the policy of the Government with regard to the war. Had the statement of the Government been confined to that which had proceeded from the leader of this House, there might have been no reason for protracting this discussion; but considering that a directly contrary version of the policy and the intentions of the Government had, it seemed, been given in another place, Her Majesty's Government ought to have the opportunity of consulting together, and of telling the House to-morrow what was their deliberate and definite policy.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, he most distinctly understood the noble Lord to state that nothing but the destruction of Sebastapol would be a basis for peace, and he even turned to an hon. Friend behind and made him repeat what the noble Lord said. It was lucky for him (Sir J. Shelley) that he did not catch the Chairman's eye, for he intended to have risen and thanked the noble Lord for the gallant speech that he had made; and he could only say that he wished he might to-morrow read in the papers that the noble Lord had made such a speech. He did not wish it to go forth for a moment that there was any doubt that they were prepared to stand by the Government; and, as it seemed to him there would be another opportunity for taking the discussion, he suggested to his noble Friend that he should withdraw his Motion, and that the 687 debate should be taken on bringing up the report.
§ MR. BOOKER
chanced to be standing at the bar in another place during the debate which occurred there this evening, and to his mind nothing could be so contradictory as the statements he had heard here and elsewhere. After the retractations to which he had listened, he was of opinion that an opportunity ought to be afforded for the Government to reconsider the expressions which had been made use of in this House, and for the representatives of the people to consider what course they should pursue.
§ MR. HORSMAN
thought the Motion for reporting progress placed the Committee in a position of some difficulty. The desire for further debate appeared a very reasonable one, but, on the other hand, the noble Lord had reminded them very properly that there was no objection to the Vote, and, without having any issue raised, the Committee would be acting rather inconsistently in adjourning the debate. It should be remembered that, as had been stated, there would be an opportunity to renew the discussion on bringing up the report, and he would suggest that at this stage the Government might arrange that an opportunity should be given to his noble Friend (Lord D. Stuart) to make any observations he pleased as to what had taken place here or elsewhere.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he had no objection to adopt the course suggested by the hon. Gentleman if it could be made to agree with the arrangements of the House. The House was aware that Notices of Motion had precedence of Orders of the Day on Tuesday; but if they could fix the report on this Resolution, supposing it to be now agreed to, at six o'clock to-morrow, before the other business upon the paper, he should be quite ready to agree to this arrangement. As his hon. Friend had stated, this would present an opportunity for any hon. Member to raise this question again.
As one of those Members who had a notice of Motion upon the paper for to-morrow, was quite ready to give way in order to meet the suggestion. With regard to the mistake which had been alluded to, he certainly did understand the noble Lord not at all to express what the right hon. Gentleman opposite had represented him to have said. He had understood the noble Lord to say this—and only this—that Russia could not be allowed to 688 maintain the menacing position she had maintained hitherto with regard to the Crimea and Sebastopol.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, it was due to the noble Lord the Member for the City of London to state what his impression was. He had understood the noble Lord to state that it would be the bounden duty of this country and of its allies, in the event of a peace, to see that some security was taken that we should not be exposed to a similar incursion on the part of Russia in the East, and that certain precautions should be taken against such results, and, among others, that such questions should be considered as the protectorate of the Danubian Principalities, and also whether some precautions should not be taken against that menacing power which existed at Sebastopol at this moment. He did not consider it just to attempt to attach an extreme sense to what had fallen from the noble Lord.
§ SIR THOMAS ACLAND
was under the same impression as to what had fallen from the noble Lord as the hon. Member who had just sat down. He hoped that the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone would not persevere with his Motion, as he felt perfectly sure that the effect of taking a division upon that Motion would be to create an impression, not only in the country, but also among the enemies of the country, that the House of Commons had no confidence in those to whom was confided the conduct of the war.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
was perfectly of opinion that it was very desirable that unanimity should be displayed on this question; and if the noble Lord the President of the Council would give him a distinct assurance that the report of the Committee of Supply should be brought up at such a time as would afford him an opportunity of bringing the subject to which he had referred under discussion, he was willing to withdraw his Motion. He begged to say that it was his intention to move a Resolution to the effect that it was the opinion of that House that an Address should be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty would be graciously pleased not to prorogue Parliament until She might be enabled to afford the House more full information with respect to the relations existing with foreign Powers, and of Her views and prospects in the contest in which Her Majesty was engaged.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
proposed to take the report of Supply at six o'clock this day. 689 He wished at the same time to say, that although it was gratifying to him that three Members of that House should have declared that they understood his observations in the sense in which they were intended, still he greatly regretted that there should have been such ambiguity in his mode of expression that other Members should have attached a different meaning to his words. He was aware that ambiguity of expression was a great fault in one whose duty it was to express the opinions of Government; but the Committee would consider that he was in the difficult position of wishing to afford all the information in his power, while at the same time he was compelled by duty not to say more than was absolutely necessary.
Resolved—That a sum not exceeding 3,000,000l. be granted to Her Majesty, to enable Her Majesty to provide for any additional expense which may arise in consequence of the War in which Her Majesty is now engaged against the Emperor of all the Russias.House resumed.