HC Deb 13 March 1854 vol 131 cc673-4

said, he had to present a petition from Mr. David Urquhart, formerly Member for Stafford, and he trusted that he should fairly represent the views which it contained. The petitioner stated that he was formerly employed in the diplomatic service in Turkey, as secretary of embassy at Constantinople; that, having been long and intimately acquainted with the country, he knew the Ottoman empire was fully able to maintain itself against any attack on the part of Russia, and consequently he believed Russia never would have been guilty of the imprudence of entering upon her recent course, if she had not hoped to be supported by other Powers; that this conclusion was substantially shared by all the chief diplomatic officials at Constantinople, by the former Ambassador and secretaries of the embassy and also by the present Ambassador, who had expressed his sense of the dangers to which Turkey would be exposed by breaking down her cause and defence, and so turning the national spirit against the Government; that, having an intimate acquaintance with the Turkish people, the petitioner feared that great masses, being restrained from falling on the enemy, would turn their swords on one another, from which would ensue a revolution, the dethronement of the Sultan, and all the evils of a disputed succession; that, in his opinion, those dangers would be hastened by the arrival of the land forces, as they had been chiefly created by the presence of the naval forces of Her Majesty; that if the Turks were left free to capture the small Russian army south of the Pruth, our interference would be unnecessary; but the Turks were not suffered to do so, and were constrained to witness Russian reinforcements tranquilly poured into the Danubian provinces as they were last year; that, under these circumstances, there was still time for this House, by speedy interposition, to avert the catastrophe which the petitioner could not but foresee. The words of the prayer of the petition were:— And your petitioner humbly prays that the Commons House of Parliament, in its wisdom, may see fit to advise the Crown, without delay, to withdraw her Ambassador from Constantinople, and her squadron from the Black Sea. [Laughter.] There were many things laughed at which turned out to be very near the truth. He had another petition to present from Mr. William Peplow, a townsman of Stafford, whose views seemed to be more in accordance with those of Mr. Urquhart than the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The petitioner stated he was exceedingly afraid there had been something in the private negotiations between the English Government and the Government of Russia which had not yet seen the light, and perhaps could not bear to see the light; and he implored the House to institute inquiry into the fact, so as to obtain all the secret correspondence which had passed between the Ministers of England and the Court of Russia, on the probable ultimate fate of the Ottoman empire.

Petitions to lie on the table.