§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [25th May] to Amendment [24th May], which was, to leave out from the first word "House," in the Original Question, to the word "feels," in line 5, in order to insert the words, "having seen with regret that the Conferences of Vienna have not led to a termination of hostilities,"—(Sir Francis Baring,)—instead thereof:—And to which Amendment, an Amendment had been proposed on the 25th May, to insert after the words "regret that," the words "owing to the refusal of Russia to restrict the strength of her Navy in the Black Sea:"—(Mr. Lowe).
§ Question again proposed, "That these words—namely, 'owing to the refusal of Russia to restrict the strength of her Navy in the Black Sea,' be inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
At any time, Sir, I should be exceedingly anxious not to trespass at any length on the indulgence of the House, but I am more than ordinarily anxious not to do so on the present occasion on account of my weakness, with which I hope the House will bear. I shall at once proceed to state my opinion—for I am unable to argue the matter—why I think this war should be proceeded with vigorously, so that we may obtain—and I hope we shall—the blessing of an honourable and a permanent peace. The opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) at all times meets with the greatest consideration from me, and I must say I had looked forward 1555 to the speech which he made the other evening with great curiosity, because, as I had a shrewd suspicion of the course which he would adopt, I was anxious to know upon what grounds he would rest his justification of that course. The right hon. Gentleman had been a prominent Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government when it determined upon a war with Russia, and the last time that he had addressed this House he had declared that in his opinion the war was a just and necessary war—those two words are important, because it shows that it was for our interest to go to war. I was curious, therefore, to see how the right hon. Gentleman would now shape his course,, and, in what manner he would explain how it was that he was now all for peace, when a few months ago he had been all for war. I was curious to know what had occurred between his leaving office and the end of the Conferences at Vienna which could have induced him to change his opinion, and I felt confident that he would state the causes for which we went to war, the objects which we sought to gain by it, and that he would then maintain that those objects ware accomplished. I was curious to know what is his opinion those objects were, and I was still more curious how he could sup-pose that they had been attained. Two years ago this country was in a state of profound peace; we had been accustomed to, and were pursuing the avocations of, peace with an energy and activity that were almost unparalleled in the history of man. The arts and sciences were introduced and encouraged in nearly every clime, there was no sea which was not visited by our ships, not a market which was not filled with our goods. While thus pursuing with unsurpassed energy the avocations of peace, England and the world were suddenly startled by an appeal from the Ministry of this country to go to war with Russia? Now by whom was that appeal made more lustily than by the night hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle? The grounds stated for that appeal were, that the independence, of Europe was threatened; that there was a great Power which bad long been nursing its resources in the north, which from year to year had pursued with untiring ambition the projects of dominion; and that now the time was come when its designs ware ripened, and when it purposed to execute those designs by beginning to absorb the dominions of the Ottoman Empire. We all recollect, when the war 1556 trumpet was sounded, how the right hon. Gentleman blew into it. We all recollect the speeches at the Reform Club and at the Mansion House. It was said then that the war which we were about to wage was to be a war of freedom against slavery, of civilisation against barbarism, of constitutional government against despotism. It was said that the attempt of Russia to enslave Turkey was her first step towards enslaving Europe, that she was not intent simply upon swallowing up Turkey, but that her design was, by placing herself in Constantinople, and assuming to herself the rights of the Turkish Empire, to obtain a dominion, over Europe and become a standing menace to the world. It was not merely that an insolent embassy had been sent to Constantinople, that Russia had crossed the boundaries, of the Turkish Empire, that we, were, told that there was a standing threat against Europe, and that it was necessary, for the safety of Europe, that Russia should be crippled and her power of offence, taken away. It was not Turkey simply that we were called on to protect, but Europe, civilisation, and the liberties and dearest interests of mankind. Well, Sir, we went to war, and disasters followed. A Motion made in this House by myself led to important conesquences, one of which was the utter defeat and destruction of Lord Aberdeen's Government. This House passed a Resolution by a majority almost unprecedented, condemning the mode—for that was its meaning in reality—in which the war had been carried on. The House, passed a Resolution to appoint a Committee of inquiry; but between the passing of that Resolution and the appointment of the Committee the Ministry of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was formed, and that Ministry the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle joined. Over that Ministry hung the appointment of this Committee for it must have been clear to everybody that the Committee would have to be appointed, and that the House would proceed with the Resolution which it had affirmed by so large a majority. But, notwithstanding that, and in spite of the difficulty thus staring him in the face, the right hon. Gentleman chose to join the Government of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. The first question which came before the House after the formation of that Ministry was the appointment of the Sebastopol Committee, and upon that question the right hon. Gentleman seceded 1557 from the Government. These circumstances I point out because they we the most significant circumstances which occurred between the time when the right hon. Gentleman advocated the war and the time when he advocates peace; and I ask the right hon. Gentleman, and I ask the House, what has happened since to induce him to become a, peace advocate? It was quite clear, when the right hon. Gentleman joined the noble Lord's Government, that this Committee of inquiry would go on; it was as certain that Motions would be made in this House involving the consideration of the conduct of the war. The right hot, Gentleman being a prominent Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government, we have a right to consider that everything done and said by that Government was done and said by the right hon. Gentleman himself, When the expedition to the Crimea was propounded by the Government—for it was propounded by the Government and not by the generals—the Duke of Newcastle wrote a despatch to Lord Raglan, in which he said that there could be no peace for Europe until Sebastopol was taken and destroyed. That was the statement made by the Government, and for that statement I hold the right hon. Gentleman responsible. When the Conferences at Vienna ended—I do not mean the day before yesterday—but when they ended in reality, before that sham scene was enacted in this House, had Sebastopol then fallen? I will allow that the Russian fleet had been destroyed, but suppose that at that moment we had made peace— I ask this House and I ask every thinking man what would have been the result of such a proceeding? Would it not have been the universal opinion in the East that England and France had been conquered—would it not have been the general opinion there that the fleets, and armies of France and England had retired with disgrace and discredit; would it not have been plain to the smallest tribe in the East that we had left the Crimea because we could not take Sebastopol, and because we could not obtain the objects for which the war was entered into? Yet this is the conduct which the right hon. Gentleman asks us to pursue. Suppose we had made peace, as the right hon. Gentleman would have had us, would Europe have been safe—would the Turkish Empire have been safe? True it is that the Russian army had retired, beyond the pruth—that it had, evacuated, the Principal 1558 palities—but what security have we that in two years afterwards she would, not have been across the Danube again? What does the House, think of the political morality which would recommend us to undertake a war to obtain such paltry ends as those with which the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied? We have spent millions of money and sacrificed thousands of gallant lives; our army lifts undergone unparalleled sufferings; and all for what? Indeed, it may be said that the right hon. Gentleman is out of office, and I well know that that does make a wonderful difference in opinions; but I again ask the House whether the power of Russia has been crippled, or whether any one object for which, when in office, he entered into the war has been attained? I think, Sir, that we should bring degradation on this country if we adopted the course which he now suggests. He is one of those who cannot plead unwariness in the resolutions he takes, What he does he does with great deliberation. I do not say that he always acts prudently; but that, if he acts imprudently, it is with his eyes open. It was with his eyes thus open that be undertook this war; and for what did he induce the people of England to leave their peaceful avocations and sacrifice their blood and treasure? Was it simply that the Russian should retire beyond the Pruth, keeping all his armies and his power intact and as great as ever, and with the reputation of England and France reduced? That is all we should have obtained by following the right hon. Gentleman's advice. We should, indeed, have had a peace, but a dishonourable peace, and our power would have been weaker than when we entered into the war. I will be frank with the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government. I said in this House some days ago that the country had not confidence in the present Government for the management of the Conferences of Vienna; and I will now tell the noble Lord why I said so. In the first place, a rumour had gone abroad that there were still in the noble Lord's Government persons who felt as those felt who have left that Government; and, when I say this, I shall indulge in none of those taunts which the right hon. Gentleman told us on the last night of this debate were difficult to bear, such as that of being the friend of Russia. What I impute to him is not that he was the friend of Russia, but that, from a mistake in judgment, he was not the friend of Eng- 1559 land. I do not suppose that he was a traitor to his country, but I believe that he has committed a grave error, and, having done so, I shall have little faith in the right hon. Gentleman's judgment in future. I have told the noble Lord that there was an impression that there are still in his Government persons entertaining the same sentiments as those who lately seceded from it. One person to whom I particularly point is the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell); and the reason why I say this is, that the noble Lord held language at the Conferences of Vienna that was unworthy of an English Minister. I say that no truly English Minister, especially no friend of reform in Parliament, would have put his hand to that protocol to which the noble Lord put his, taking from an independent people the power over their own affairs. England's interests are, I believe, the interests of the world, and those of civilisation and self-government; but the noble Lord sided with the despots of Europe—sided with those who would crush an independent people, and take from them the management of their own affairs. The House must know the protocol to which I now allude. A Minister of England, really understanding the position of his country and the part that Austria was playing, would have whispered in the ear of the latter Power talismanic words which, when I name them, I know will rouse the voice of Members of this House against me. But I am as sure as I am of my own existence that the time shall come when the three words which I would have mentioned to Austria shall be the watchwords of freedom and the forerunners of good government in Europe. The words I mean are —"Poland, Hungary, and Italy." It may be said that I am now arousing nationalities. Sir, I take the part of nationalities against despots always; and I believe that Austria, if these words had been whispered in her ear, would have understood her position, and would not have played fast and loose as she has done with the people of this country and of France, but would have trembled before the spirit that would have been conjured up before her at the sound of those names. I know what I incur by the statement I now make; but, although, feeble as I am, I cannot maintain as I would wish the belief that I put forth, yet I am strong in the conviction that these three words are talismans to Europe. I will tell the noble Lord the 1560 Member for the City of London that his first speech in this debate went far to answer the imputations that were rife in the public mind against him. I believe, from the statement it contained, that the world was led to suppose that the noble Lord was not of that peace party which sits behind me, although I must say that the subsequent speech of the noble Lord went greatly towards destroying the effect of his first one. And, Sir, I do object to this fast and loose mode of speaking. The people of England have been dragged by their leaders into war. I do not, however, mean to say that they have gone into it without a full confidence in those who lead them. The people have had such a confidence, but I say it behoves those who are the leaders of such a people to be stedfast in their faith, and not in the month of September to send out to their generals despatches telling them that the only means of safety to Europe spring from the destruction of Sebastopol and of the Russian fleet; and then, in the months of April, May, and June, to be the advocates of a peace, and to propose that England should make a humiliating and degrading submission to Russia. I do not believe, however, that the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Councils is of this wavering disposition. I believe that he went into this war with his eyes open and his spirit firm, that he was not about to vacillate from change of circumstances—personal changes I mean. I believe that he kept before him the interests of England, that those interests were, in his mind, paramount to all others, and that he meant to consider them far beyond himself. I do hope and trust that the noble Lord will maintain the same spirit—that as we entered into this war so we shall continue it—that we shall be firm, bold, straightforward—that what we gain we shall in no self-denying spirit unwarily give up—that what in the cause of civilisation against barbarism, of Europe against Russia, we acquire honestly by our arms, we shall maintain firmly by the same means—that, our object being to cripple Russia, what we take we shall keep. These, Sir, are significant phrases, and I mean them to be such. To cripple Russia we are not to consider her honour, but we are to consider mankind as our allies in the struggle, and that in crippling Russia we are fighting the battle of mankind, and benefiting the whole human race.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
Sir, I have 1561 risen thus early in the debate because I imagine it is the wish of the House, if possible, to compress the discussion within the scope of this night, and I am anxious to leave time and room for others whom I think it is important that we should hear before we arrive at any decision on this question. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has made an attack on my right hon. Friend who sits beside me (Sir J. Graham), upon grounds which no doubt he thinks are conclusive against him, but which I trust in a few sentences to convince him are fallacious. He says, in the first place, that in a despatch written by the Duke of Newcastle so far back as June last, a despatch which was produced before the Committee of which the hon. and learned Gentleman was Chairman, the Duke of Newcastle pledged this country to make no peace until the fortress of Sebastopol was captured or destroyed. Let me say, so far as these words are concerned, that is not a correct quotation. The Duke of Newcastle never said there shall be no peace. He said there will be no prospect of peace until we can deal to Russia such a body-blow as shall induce her to submit to the terms we hope to get. [Mr. ROEBUCK: Hear, hear!] The hon. and learned Gentleman cheers that. See back to the first despatch, in which the Duke of Newcastle says—Bear in mind that if the Russian generals make no demonstration of any further onward movement, it may become essential for the attainment of the objects of the war that some operations of an offensive character be undertaken by the allied armies;some operations actually of an offensive character, but being part of a defensive system they should be to that extent defensive operations. He goes on, "No blow that could be struck at the southern extremities of Russia would be so effectual as the taking of Sebastopol." The Duke of Newcastle conceived that to be the heaviest blow which could be dealt to the Russian empire. [Sir J. PAKINGTON: Is that the despatch of the 10th of April?] Yes; and then comes the subsequent despatch of the 29th of July. I do not see how, after those despatches, the hon. and learned Gentleman can say the Duke of Newcastle ever said we could not make peace till the fortress was taken; for how can he reconcile that with the fact that in the despatch there is not one word of imperative injunction, but the General is told 1562 it is left to his discretion? [Mr. ROEBUCK: Hear, hear!] Yes; but the discretion was not left because we would not make peace without it, but to undertake operations which, if successful, would, more than any other, force Russia to accept terms of peace. Is that the plain and obvious meaning of the expression? ["Hear, hear," and a laugh!] The hon. and learned Gentleman laughs; but I ask him, if the capture of Sebastopol was to be a condition of peace, why did not such a condition appear in the Four Points? My right hon. Friend the Member for South-wark (Sir W. Molesworth), in his eloquent and very impassioned speech, said, "If you do not take Sebastopol, you will have to return to England and furl your banners in disgrace." Is that so? What would have happened if, ten days ago, Russia had accepted the limitation you required as a condition of peace? That was what the late Mr. Sheil would have called a "rhetorical artifice." The whole error consists in this fact—we are making confusion of two things essentially distinct—confounding the operations of war, which are the means to an end, with the end itself. The operations of war are conducted with a view to force your antagonist to agree to peace. When you are at war I agree with the hon. Baronet (Sir E. B. Lytton) that we should humble our enemy if possible. When at war, injure her, humble her, crush her, if you can. But when you contemplate peace you stand on different ground. In the first case, when dealing with an enemy, you are right to seek to crush him, but in the second you are dealing with those who are about to become friends. You may mistrust them, bind them, tie their hands, but do not try to humble or insult those whom you hope may become your friends. I pass from that question raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), and come to another matter which I think of some importance in this discussion. In the first place, let me say I feel as everybody else feels, in the utmost difficulty arising from the great confusion into which the subject has been thrown—the confusion of opinions beyond the power of human ingenuity to understand. We have a war party, we have a peace party, and subdivisions of both, with different objects and different antecedents or points of departure. Take the party which is of opinion the time has come when the country may with honour to itself, and with 1563 material advantage to her interests, make an honourable, safe, and prudent peace. How is that point urged by those who hold that opinion? We have the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) who has from the first objected to the war, and who has, let me say, though I do not agree With him, in speeches of consummate ability and earnestness Urged those opinions, and with a courage which does him credit, for he stood almost alone against an immense amount of popular feeling, which he resisted in the consciousness of a sincere conviction in the opinions he advocated. Then we have his Colleague (Mr. M. Gibson) who disapproved of the particular war from its commencement, but does not share the opinions of his hon. Colleague on the subject of all war. Then we have those sitting immediately behind me, who were, like me, advocates for a war for which they shared their portion of the responsibility, and are willing to bear it, thinking they can justify it. We think it is not right to assert that there is anything inconsistent or dishonourable in those who were advocates for war to attain certain objects, when they think those objects have been gained, to become the advocates of a peace as a natural consequence. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir E. B. Lytton), to whose speech I listened with the pleasure which all must have felt, as it was essentially the speech of a gentleman and a scholar, asked). "How comes it you who were advocates for beginning war are now advocates of peace?" Well, that begs the whole question of what has happened since. I now, calmly looking back at the history of the war, recollecting the circumstances from which it sprung, the attitude of Russia towards Turkey, the imminent danger to the latter Power, and recollecting what I held then, as I hold now, to have been one of the greatest instances, I must say, of brigandage—for we have no word in English which suits it—and violation of the public law of Europe—the invasion of the Principalities by Russia—well, I hold all those opinions now; but I shrink in nothing from the weight of the responsibility, And, I declare before God, I know nothing more trying to the conscience of a man than having to give, even as an humble Member of a Government, his aye or no upon a question which involves such fearful consequences and exposes his country to such fearful hazards and distress. It was, then, in no spirit of levity, and not without weighty con- 1564 sideration of the great interests involved, that I came to the conclusion that my voice should be given in favour of a declaration of War. I justify it to myself by the magnitude of the objects we sought to obtain. Those Objects we specified and stated over and over again in public documents, which are historical—in treaties with our allies. I will tell you what the objects were. They were the abrogation of that network of treaties by which Russia held Turkey in her grasp; they were the abolition of that exclusive claim to a protectorate of the Christians by which Russia had the right of interference in the Principalities and exercised it without check or hindrance from any of the allies, and the question of the freedom of the Danube. Those were objects of paramount importance, and were specified in public documents, and in our agreements with France, Austria, Turkey, and Prussia. In not one of those documents was there any mention of "limitation." Our objects were separate from that; limitation was the child of afterthought. Having stated these objects, and having the strongest conviction of their immense value and importance, when you ask me, "How can you who were for war be now for peace?" I ask, "How can we be for war now those objects are obtained, or are attainable; nay, I ask further, how can you pretend those objects are worthless and of insufficient value for peace, and yet justify the war?" That is my answer, I think we have not in this country done ourselves justice. We have not done justice to the Military operations or the successes we have achieved; we are not now doing justice to the value and extent of the submission to which Russia has been forced. The hon. Baronet (Sir E. B. Lytton) said, in answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), these concessions, these terms are not due to negotiations—they are owing to the efforts of your arms—to the successes of the Alma and of Inkerman. I accept that; but in the first place you never do get terms by negotiations. The sword gets them, and it is the business of negotiation to define in intelligible terms the nature and extent of the successes you have gained; the pen only specifies what the sword gains. What have been our military successes; what is the difference in the relations of Russia and Turkey in a military and strategical point of view? The latter Power went to war and made a few successful forays across the Danube 1565 with great distinction; but the Principalities were (in the occupation of Russia. Those Principalities are now evacuated. Early in the commencement of the campaign you had the destruction of the fortresses on the Circassian coast, the Capture of Bomarsund, the blockade of two seas, the destruction of Russian commerce, and the inability of Russian men-of-war to show their flag in any part of those two seas which she boasted were her lakes. You have also, it is said, insurrection in some of those provinces where the peasantry are Russian and the nobles are Polish; you have a growing discontent among a nobility accustomed to seek throughout Europe for pleasures which they cannot find at home; and lastly, and most important of all, you have the inability of Russia, the strongest and most exclusively military Power in the world in its objects and habits, to expel from its shores for eight months two hostile armies encamped upon its soil. We have not done ourselves justice, we have kept our eyes fixed with microscopic exactitude upon failures, not upon defeats, because from beginning to end our army has never met with defeat. The superiority of our navy has been admitted. The terror of her name has deprived her of the triumphs she had a right to expect, because the Russian fleets have been unwilling in any one instance to face the navies of the allies. Last of all, you have had a success at which I rejoice with all my heart. I mean the success of which you recently received the outline by telegraph, add the details by the despatches published to-day. I wish to say a few words upon the successes at Kertch. The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. Collier) has attacked those Members of the late Government who left it under circumstances which my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck) has described with the gusto with Which a sportsman recites the number of pheasants he has bagged, and the hon. and learned Gentleman stated that the successes which have now been obtained are owing to the withdrawal from the Cabinet of men whose heart was not in the War, and who paralyzed by their directions the efforts which would otherwise have been made and the successes which would otherwise have been obtained by the naval and military commanders. Now that, Sir, is a grave charge, and one which I will not pretend to answer by any professions of my own. I say sincerely, that if any one, after a 1566 life of twenty years spent in this House and devoted to the public service—and of course the observation applies still more strongly to my two right hon. Friends sitting beside me (Sir J. Graham and Mr. Gladstone)—can be supposed to have been guilty of conduct so base and treasonable there is no use in character, and I cannot condescend to enter protests, caveats, of denials against such a charge. But let us look at the facts. The army, it is said, is now in a better condition, and, thank God, so it is. [MR. WHITESIDE: Hear, hear!] The hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen cheers me, and I am glad to say that in his speech the other night he made an approach to accuracy upon this subject, for, in speaking of the number of soldiers that had perished, ha did not do much more than double our losses, he said we had lost half of our army. That is a gradual subsidence from old exaggeration. We did not lose half nor a quarter of our army, although, God knows, we lost enough, for, from the last returns—and they are fearful to contemplate—I find that upwards of 13,000 men have, since the first declaration of war, fallen victims to the sword or disease. But we should be cautious how we exaggerate these numbers. We should recollect what may be the effect of our doing so, how much we may thereby damage our position with regard to negotiations. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, that successes have been obtained because three traitors have been expelled from the Cabinet, and there are stories circulating all over the town as to my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) being the man who prevented the expedition to Kertch and the bombardment of Odessa. I regretted to hear the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) in his able and eloquent speech, deprecate in some respects our successes at Kertch, and say that the corn taken by us was private property. Now, I read in the newspaper to-day the statement of General Pelissier, taken from the Moniteur, upon that subject. General Pelissier, says—Advices received from Kertch, dated the 31st of May, announce that, on the refusal of the military authorities of Genitchi, situate on the northern extremity of the tongue of land of Arabat, to give up the Government stores and ninety vessels laden with provisions for the Russian army in the Crimea, the squadron, under the orders of Captain Lyons, bombarded the place, drove out the troops, and destroyed all the stores. The enemy has thus lost, in four 1567 days, an immense quantity of provisions, four war steamers, and 240 vessels employed exclusively in provisioning the troops in the Crimea.On the other hand,) I think the press is now, in its leading articles, drawing inferences from the successes which are not justified by the facts, for it is talking as if Arabat and Genitchi were already taken. But, although we have bombarded the one and destroyed the stores at the other place, we are not yet in possession of them, and we must not, therefore, think, because of the successes we have obtained, that we are already masters of the Putrid Sea. I hail these successes, because in war success is the best road to peace; but, if, after your objects were attained, you still went on for mere military success, your criminality would be great. This nation is a generous nation, and I believe that if we have success (as I trust in God we may) the difficulty will not be to extort sufficiently high terms from Russia, but there will be a feeling in this country to care nothing for terms, to say—we have got what we wanted, we have taught Russia a great lesson, let bygones be bygones; and the difficulty will be to get public opinion to back diplomatists in asking for any terms at all. I will now revert to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, who looked upon my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) as a traitor for having prevented the execution of the operations which have since been undertaken. Eager and anxious officers are said to have been urging the Admiralty to undertake those services, and from my right hon. Friend are supposed to have proceeded the chilling orders to refrain from carrying out measures which would hare facilitated our operations. Now, I have the permission of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to read some despatches upon this subject, and I will first take one dated October 13th, 1854, because it comprehends several points.The Secretary to the Admiralty toVice Admiral Dundas.Admiralty, Oct. 13, 1854.SIR,—I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, with reference to the operations of the fleet under your orders, to call your especial and particular attention to the necessity of exercising the utmost vigilance and care in preventing the movement of craft of all descriptions proceeding out of the Bay of Kherson and the River Dniester, and I am to signify their directions to you to take every precaution in your power to prevent communication with the Crimea from ports in that direction. My Lords are further of opinion that, whenever the means 1568 at your disposal will admit, proper measures should be concerted with your colleagues in command of the allied forces for obtaining an entrance by the Gulf of Kertch into the Sea of Azoff, with a view to interrupt the communications of the enemy with the eastern shores of the Crimea, to which their Lordships have always attached the greatest importance. In concert, likewise, with your colleagues, my Lords consider that no opportunities should be lost to occupy the attention of the enemy by frequent attacks upon all parts of the coast extending from the mouths of the Danube to the isthmus of Perekop, and that any proper opportunity for the bombardment of Odessa should not be omitted.That is my answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I now wish to say one word in defence of Admiral Dundas. I should be the last man to cast imputations on those who are absent, but I am bound to state that there was a conclusive reason why Admiral Dundas, who was himself eager for the attack on Odessa, did not undertake it. Admiral Dundas wanted to make the attack; he had prepared means for it, but he was prevented. What stopped him? Why, it was the opinion, given upon strategic grounds, not only of the English, but also of the French general, that the destruction of Odessa would liberate troops, which would immediately be sent to the Crimea. The generals were firm in that opinion, and it was in consequence of their urgent request that Admiral Dundas felt that he could not undertake the operation. I am not giving any opinion as to whether the strategic reasons assigned by the generals were sound or not, I am not competent to do so, but I assert that they entirely acquit Admiral Dundas. If there is any doubt as to the intentions of my right hon. Friend, then at the head of the Admiralty, as to Odessa, I will read a despatch which I think will satisfy the House on that subject.
I wish, Sir, to ask whether this despatch has been laid upon the table, because I think that if we are to have a discussion on the despatches, and if they are to be read on one side, we ought to have the answers to them on the other. I shall therefore move for those despatches, and for any answer which may have been received in reply to them. I hope the noble Lord at the head of the Government will not object to lay them before the House.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
The objection taken by the noble Lord is a fair one. It is a rule of the House that no despatches shall be read which have not been laid upon the table, but there are 1569 moments and occasions when the generosity of the House will allow that rule to be departed from, when a man's character is attacked, and when he can vindicate himself by the reading of a despatch to the publication of which the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government makes no objection on the ground of public convenience. The House, I trust, will therefore bear with me while I read it—Admiralty, Dec. 8, 1854.SIR,—I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to call your attention to their letter of the 13th of October last, No. 622, respecting an attack on the port of Odessa at any proper opportunity.Although this question has been postponed, at the request of the generals commanding the allied forces on shore, my Lords are of opinion it should be again taken into consideration, with a view to an effectual operation, whenever circumstances will permit.I am, &c.R. OSBORNE.Vice Admiral Dundas.Now, the noble Lord the Member for Totness says I ought not to read these despatches unless the House has also the answers to them. But I have given a reason why Admiral Dundas had not executed the attack upon Odessa, and why he should be acquitted of all blame. I have made no imputation upon the commanders on shore. I have no doubt they had sound and good military reasons for doing what they did. But these despatches are necessary to the defence of a public man, whose character is public property. And now let me say a few words with regard to the Straits of Kertch. It may be said, "Why did not Sir Edmund Lyons attack Kertch, and open the passage before?" My right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) stated, on a previous occasion, and stated with truth, that the Russians had blocked up the passage with ships sunk for that purpose. But the other day it was said, "Where are the ships?" It was stated that there were no ships sunk, that the statement of my right hon. Friend was a mere excuse, and that the thing ought to have been done long ago. But what does Sir Edmund Lyons say in his letter published in The Times of to-day, and addressed to the Secretary of the Admiralty? He says—Had this expedition been deferred but a short time longer, there would have been many and great difficulties to overcome, for the enemy was actively employed in strengthening the sea defences, and in replacing the sunken vessels which had been carried away by the current during the winter months.1570 And this is a current from a frozen sea, which brings down with it many obstacles to navigation. The letter proceeds—Of the forty vessels sunk last year some still remain, and a French steamer touched upon one of them yesterday. It appears that the enemy did not succeed in destroying the coals, either at Kertch or Yenikale, so that about 17,000 tons remain, which will be available for our steamers.Well, that is my answer, and I think it is conclusive and satisfactory against those discreditable attacks which were made on Tuesday by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. Collier.) I have said that the objects of the war have been successfully attained, and that this gives us a golden opportunity of bringing the war to a termination whenever the country shall be so pleased. My right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham), in that lucid and masterly speech which he addressed to the House on Tuesday night, went seriatim through the proposals made at the conferences. I will not enter upon the question of the protectorate of the Principalities. I will not enter upon the question of the freedom of the navigation of the Danube, or the question of the right of interference with regard to the protection of the Christians in general in Turkey, except in passing to say, that I was struck by a statement made by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), who stated as a reason for not having entered upon the fourth point, that he found in a conversation with the Turkish Ambassador that he objected to a stipulation which would infringe on the rights of the Suzerain of Turkey by giving a vested right in interference, not to one nation, but to several, in the internal concerns of the Turkish Empire. Well, that surely was not an unnatural observation for the Ambassador of Turkey to make, but there was this singularity in it, that after the enemy had agreed, not to the particular stipulations but to the four bases upon which peace should be concluded, there was one party who had not given in a similar agreement, and that party was our ally. Now that complicated the negotiations considerably. With regard to the third point, we should recollect that it divided itself into several portions. You have the question touched upon by the hon. baronet (Sir E. B. Lytton), that that which was merely the preamble of the treaty of 1841 is now to be converted into a condition. There was a statement with regard to the independence of Turkey 1571 which was recited in the treaty, but it was not made a condition in the treaty. But now, by a concession, as the hon. gentleman says, extorted by the swords of Alma and of Inkerman, it becomes converted into a condition. Well, now, look at the question of the Straits. The noble Lord our Plenipotentiary at Vienna was offered by Russia the mare apertum. He gave his reason for not accepting it, and I thought it unanswerable. For some time I have held that opinion myself. But let me recall the attention of the House to a circumstance which should show how cautious we ought to be in pledging ourselves to opinions upon matters with which we are but little acquainted. When the question of peace was discussed twelve months ago in the press, every one said that no peace would be good for anything which did not open the Straits. [Mr. Layard: "I protested against it."] The hon. Member for Aylesbury, having a great knowledge of the country, protested against that opinion, but scarcely any one discussed the question in the press who did not say—"He must open the Dardanelles. "The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) however, said that to open the Dardanelles would be to infringe the rights of Turkey, and would be a great advantage to Russia. It would introduce the Russian fleet into the Mediterranean, where we have great interests, and it would allow Russia or any other power to menace the existence of Turkey, which is a weak Power. I thought that was a conclusive answer. But what was the second proposition of Russia with regard to the Straits? The limitation of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea seems to be falling into general disrepute. I was originally, like my right hon. Friend, a party to limitation; but it was not one of the original objects of the war. It was not, I think, heard of till December last. I am not sure by which of the confederated Powers it was suggested. I am not disposed to blame the Government for making it a sine quâ non, to which, however, we were no party. We should be careful how we blame the Government for matters, in which they may be sometimes, apparently at any rate, in error. They may have several courses which they may pursue, and the difference between those courses in point of policy may be very small. The Government can adopt but one, and in this an Opposition has great advantage, all the unadopted courses become their property, but in this particular case they have a 1572 quadruple advantage. They have got as the ground of opposition the errors, not of one Government but of four; and any Government may have to take the course which it may not itself prefer. We should, therefore, look with indulgence on the conduct of the Government in questions of this kind. Hon. Members may wish only to attack the Government, but the shaft goes further, and they may be striking an ally as well as hitting the Government. Well, but the limitation is now pretty generally said to be illusory. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) said the Russians were only to have four ships in the Black Sea, but some one said seven or eight. The hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) argued that it was impossible to go to war upon one ship more or less. The noble Lord replied that they could not, but that when Russia added seven or eight, instead of four ships, the suspicions of Europe would be aroused, and then some steps would be taken to prevent the threatened evil. The hon. Member for the West Riding further stated that Russia could get ships built, not of rotten timber, at home, but could get screw vessels of the greatest size built in the Thames or the Mersey. But to that the noble Lord said, "No; for no vessels unarmed could pass the Straits." There, I think, the noble Lord was in error, for I believe that any ships not armed could pass the Straits. Here, then, was another argument in favour of limitation destroyed. I do not know with whom the question of limitation originated. I do not make that limitation a charge against the Government—I cannot afford to do so—but I was not a party, and I do not know who is, to making this a sine quâ non. It will not be found from the papers presented to Parliament that the French or Austrian Government made it an ultimatum. It was not an ultimatum nor a sine quâ non. My impression is, that it is, in the shape proposed by us at Vienna, no valid or sufficient security, though it might be made the basis of one; but I believe that, at all events, this particular basis is now defunct. We should now consider what was the merit of the counter-offer made by Russia. I do not think that question has yet been fairly stated. Constantinople is a capital situated upon a narrow strait. Turkey exercises, and has exercised from time immemorial, the right—some say the natural right—of closing these Straits, upwards or downwards, to ships of war. Other capitals are placed 1573 in a position somewhat similar. In the Bay of Naples, I believe, ships above a certain number of guns are not allowed to enter. At Copenhagen no ships of war are permitted to come within three miles of a certain battery. But, by the treaty of 1841, this restriction was put on Turkey—that, although her right to close the Straits was recognised, she could not open them at all except in case of war, and then not in favour of one particular nation, but in favour of all nations. Was that the proposal made by Russia? No! The proposal made by Russia was this,—that Turkey, at her discretion, shall either open the Dardanelles upwards, or the Bosphorus downwards, to any one Power she chooses at any time she thinks herself menaced, and although she may not be at war. The only restriction in the Russian document is when Turkey considers herself menaced. There may be objections to that. I can fancy arguments against it. But Russia has not told us to what further extent she will concede; she has not produced this proposal as an ultimatum, but as something for negotiation, reserving to herself the right to yield, if she cannot avoid doing so. Now, if we recognise Turkey as an independent Power she has that natural right, and if so, it may be said it is no concession on the part of Russia; but is Russia making no concession when she deprives herself of the natural right of issuing from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean? In case Turkey should be menaced by Russia after such an arrangement, what does she do? Declare war"? That is always a fatal course for Turkey, unless she has friends to back her. No; but she can call to her aid a fleet which shall preponderate, and from that moment you have the cessation of Russian preponderance which you want, and that safety for Turkey which she requires. Now, I frankly confess that, if it had been submitted to me, when a member of the Government, to make this proposal to Russia, I should have said, "You may ask it, as in negotiation you may ask anything." No one knows better than the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston), who argued so impressively on the North American treaty of the late Lord Ashburton, that you do not go into negotiation with an ultimatum, and I should have said, "You may ask it if you like, but it is childish to think that Russia will make such a concession." By the treaty of 1841 great restrictions were placed upon Tur- 1574 key. That treaty was drawn by the hand of Baron Brunow. By that treaty, and those restrictions on Turkey, Russia secured important advantages to herself. By refusing this proposal you go back to the status quo and those restrictions which Baron Brunow imposed; and you throw away immense advantage, which have been withheld since 1841, but which now you have an opportunity of regaining. Is this my opinion only? Here is an extract from a private letter written in 1829 by Sir Robert Gordon, our Ambassador at Constantinople, at the time of the treaty of Adrianople. He had seen a victorious Russian army—or, at any rate, what was supposed to be a victorious army—at Adrianople, dictating terms by which Turkey lost immensely in territory and strength, and here is his opinion of what should be the policy of England in the Black Sea:—I beg to record my opinion that, should England at any time go to war with Russia, and the seat of war be Turkey, you ought to take care to have a British fleet on this side the Dardanelles. This alone can save (and it will effectually save) the Porte from utter destruction, while Russia will be attacked in the only quarter in which she is directly vulnerable to Great Britain.That is the opinion of a man who knew thoroughly the merits of the Case to which his attention had been turned, under very important and peculiar circumstances, and he at that distance of time foresaw the necessity of some arrangement by which to have an English fleet in the Black Sea. If you can have an English or a Western Power fleet (I do not care which for the purpose of my argument) in the Black Sea, not after war is declared, but without any one having a right to declare war on that account, or to take offence, or even to ask explanations, you may depend upon it that is the most effectual way of protecting Turkey. I said I would not touch upon the other points. I have mentioned this point because I do not think sufficient attention has been directed to it, and, as far as my judgment can lead me, my belief is that if in the autumn of 1853, instead of the then treaty preventing Turkey allowing any ships of war to enter into the Black Sea, we had lad had in force this condition which we lave now extorted from Russia by our success in war, the presence then of two powerful fleets in the Black Sea might lave prevented any war whatever. But it was not open to us. We had a treaty 1575 to break, but I do believe, looking back to the circumstances, that if this proposal had formed the treaty, then we should have escaped the war. The House has heard me with great indulgence, and I wish to be very brief as the only return I can make. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir E. B. Lytton)—he must pardon me for again referring to him, as it is but the penalty of making a speech so argumentative and able as his—the hon. Baronet says to my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone)—"You cannot have had your heart warm, because at the outset of the war you describe the objects of it in such low terms," and the hon. Baronet quoted a passage from the speech of the right hon. Member for the University, in which he said the Turkish Government was full of anomalies—"Think," said the hon. Baronet, "of your chilling the people by saying you were going to war for a Government full of anomalies." Well, I ask, is it not full of anomalies? But I apprehend we are not making war for the purpose of supporting the institutions of Turkey, but regretting that her institutions, her religion, and everything about her should have exposed her to attack. We think it desirable that some other Power than Russia should hold the key of the Dardanelles; we cannot help it, but Turkey happens to be there, and so we support her by our arms. The hon. Baronet says, in order to excite the people you should not tell the truth—you should not tell these; chilling facts to the people, but paint the objects of the war in brighter colours. In plain English, why did you not tell lies in order to excite the people. I must say, if those were the ingredients to excitement which were to be supplied, so great have been the contributions of other parties, that if the Government had had no scruple on the subject, it would have been a work of supererogation to throw in any additional supply. I rejoice to think that my right hon. Friend has not been guilty of exaggerating the objects of the war, or the advantages of the nation whom we defend, and whom we defend not because we are bound by treaty to defend her, but in order to retain a great Power in the Mediterranean, and to prevent Russia marching on in her policy of aggression. I have spoken of the advantages of the propose of Russia with respect to the Black Sea. The immense advantages to be derived 1576 from the abrogation of treaties, which were as a network upon Turkey, no one ought to know better than England. What has Russia done? Russia has been in the habit of treating Turkey as an Asiatic Power. How do we treat an Asiatic Power? How does France treat an African Power? We know that whenever a civilised nation comes in contact with a barbarous nation, seemingly by a law of Providence, the one absorbs the other. But what do we do in Asia? We make a treaty, and the moment the Sovereign puts his hand to a treaty, be he Sultan, Nabob, Rajah, or Ameer, his kingdom has departed From him. We take an early opportunity of declaring that the conditions have been broken, it is a casus belli, we pounce upon him, and there is an end. That too is the way France treats, in Africa, with the uncivilised nations next to her. That is the way Russia treats with the uncivilised nations next to her. The mistake Russia committed was, that she applied this system to a European power; for though by nature Asiatic, Turkey by her geographical situation is European. Europe cannot afford to have these loose Asiatic principles obtaining in the case of Turkey, and, therefore, England, France, and Austria—Austria chiefly—are interested in preventing this aggression. Now, however, comes the question, what are we to do? I have said the peace party is very much divided. They start from different points; but they have the same end in view, thinking there is an opportunity now of effecting an honourable termination of this war. Are the war party perfectly agreed? What says my hon. and learned Friend who opened the debate this evening? "Whisper but three words"—that is, whisper three words to Austria; and I must say here, in reference to what has fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman, I beg leave to give my hearty dissent from the opinion that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), in the late conferences, played a part unworthy of the British nation; because, looking through those papers, I am bound to say, I think the conduct of the noble Lord was dictated by a high sense of the honour and interest of his country, and that he was in no way an unfit representative of England either in his conduct or character on that occasion. But what says my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield? Whisper but these three words into the ear of Austria—"Poland, Hungary, Italy." I have heard com- 1577 plaints that Austria will not fight; I have heard complaints that Prussia will net go heartily with us. Whisper, says my hon. and learned Friend, to Austria and to Prussia the word Poland. But I ask you, do you want to drive those two Powers into strict alliance with your enemy? If so, depend upon it that whisper will do it. I was glad to hear the noble Lord at the head of the Government say, that the balance of power in Europe could only be preserved by maintaining the strength of Austria. We must not be led away by our sympathies nor by any abstract regard for nationalities. Whisper "Poland," whisper "Hungary," and what will be the consequence to Europe. Then, again, the hon. and learned Gentleman says, whisper "Italy," but to whom are we to whisper it? To Austria? Is all Italy Austria? Is it the Austrian bayonet alone that keeps Italy down? If you whisper "Italy," you must whisper it in a much gentler tone, for your whisper will reach another and a heavier Power—a Power more closely allied to England herself. The moment you interfere with nationalities, away with the doctrine that you are not to meddle with political and religious sympathies, and are not to seek to propagate certain opinions and principles. If ever it should come to a war of nationalities, England, Protestant England, free England, must never forget that there is one country which has ten thousand times greater claims than Poland or Hungary on her regard. By a great crime Poland may have been divided; by a political injustice Hungary may have been subjugated; but in those countries it is the absence of individual liberty that is suffered, it is the oppression of the body, as it were, that is to be endured; but there is a country in which not only the body, but the mind, the intellect, and the soul are enslaved—and by whom? By the Government of the Pope, which seems to be perpetuated by Providence in order to give us a warning never to trust the management of our temporal affairs to the guidance of ecclesiastics. In that State, what are the affections of the people for their Government? What did I read two days ago in the foreign correspondence of a newspaper? I read an account of the Pope having—mark the expression—effected his return to Rome from Castel Gondolfo; but how did he effect it? It was done by stationing at intervals small pickets of mounted gendarmerie along 1578 the line of his route for his protection. But, if you are going to whisper nationalities—if you are going to name Poland, Hungary, and Italy as words of menace—you must whisper them to one whose sympathies are Roman Catholic, and who gives great support to the Roman Catholic faith in his own dominions; you must whisper them to an ally who is, in this particular, diametrically opposed to you in his sympathies, and whose alliance is too valuable to be trifled with for the sake of any such Utopian topics as these. You must whisper them to one who has been fighting by your side with a bravery, a fidelity, a courage, and good-fellowship that has never yet been surpassed. Speaking of the time when I was a Member of the Government, I can bear testimony that the Emperor of the French behaved towards the English Government with a frankness, cordiality, and good faith to which I attach the greatest importance. But do I attach to it that importance merely because we are engaged in a mighty enterprise together? No; but I do so because I believe that the conduct of the Emperor of the French is the conduct of the French people. I believe that he represents the French nation, that he understands their feelings, and thoroughly appreciates their character; and I trust in God that when this war shall be happily at an end the alliance we have now formed may lay the foundation of a lasting friendship between this country and that valiant and chivalrous people. But the question with us now is, what are we to do? The Four Points are, or are not, at an end—I do not know which. It has been lately stated by Lord Clarendon that the Four Points may still be considered to contain the main objects of the war. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London, in the course of this debate, has used expressions with regard to Russia which have given great alarm to hon. Gentlemen occupying the benches below the gangway. He said that the Russian family had entered into marriage alliances with the German Courts; and I observed also that Lord Clarendon adopted a similar line of argument in a speech delivered by him in the House of Lords, when he at the same time observed that Russia had been converting her line-of-battle ships into screw steamers and was covering her territory with railways. The reflection I made on reading this was, that I hoped to God we were not going to establish as a precedent, that the fact of a coun- 1579 try converting liners into screws, forming family alliances with German princes, and covering its territory with railways, was a sufficient reason for an European combination to humble and reduce its power. As an Englishman I protest against that doctrine. I am bound, however, to say that the noble Lord satisfied me on Tuesday night that he had no intention of establishing such a precedent. He said that he had used those statements merely as facts, the truth of which was well known. Having had the honour of being Lord Clarendon's colleague, I can bear my humble testimony to the great ability, patience, and tact with which he has carried on the most difficult negotiations and which required immediate action. Well, Sir, in regard to the course which is now to be taken by this country, before any decisive step is determined upon, it is necessary that we should carefully look both at the state of our alliances and at the existing state of Europe in general. I have already spoken of the interest which France and of the interest which Austria has in this war. There is no doubt that with respect to the people of France the war has never been so popular with them as it is with the people of England. Any man coming from France will tell you this. The alliance with England is popular in France, but the war itself is not. And why is this? It cannot be because it has imposed any additional burden of taxation on the people, for the war has hitherto been carried on by France wholly upon credit. There has not been one sixpence additional taxation imposed upon them on account of the War. The reason why the war is not popular in France I believe to be that its objects are too remote to be tangible to the imaginations of the French people. It is a war which commenced with self-denying ordinances in respect to conquest; but, I ask, has the Emperor of the French himself the same zeal in the cause of war as is felt by England? We know that the Emperor Napoleon is his own Minister, but that the Foreign Minister of France is virtually Prime Minister. Now, we also know that M. Drouyn de Lhuys, the late colleague of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) at Vienna, made a proposal to us. I assume that that propsal was made with the approval of the Emperor; and what is it that I saw two or three days after this proposal was said to have been made? I read in the Moniteur an extract from the Independence Belge—a publication under 1580 the immediate surveillance of the Government—to the effect that the French Government had made certain proposals for renewing negotiations for peace, and which proposals were believed to be in consonance with the interests and honour of France, but that the Emperor had consented to withdraw those proposals out of respect to England. Now, I infer from that that France is nearer making peace than we are. I believe she will stand by you in this struggle as long as she can, but her interests are different. I believe in the cordiality of her friendship, but there is no friendship so cordial that can admit of being taxed too highly. Take also the case of Austria; why, even Austria may get alarmed when men like the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield whisper Poland in her ear. But there is another nation of whom we seem of late almost to have lost sight in this quarrel, and that is Turkey. What is the case of Turkey? Just let me read a despatch of Lord Stratford, in the autumn of 1852, when Lord Clarendon sent a proposal for making peace, which he thought might be settled on safe and honourable grounds, with every moral and political advantage on the Sultan's side. He observed that—An unnecessary continuance of hostilities would involve the most perilous hazards, the most exhausting sacrifices, a vast effusion of blood, and more than possible the horrors of a general war. And how was this proposal received? It was peremptorily rejected by the Ministers, the Council, and the Sultan, to all of whom it Was Successively submitted, 'for they are now bent,' says Lord Stratford, 'upon, excluding every kind of note, however carefully expressed. Unfortunately,' he adds, 'the motives to forbearance are thrown into the shade by the dazzling illusions of hope, and passion is in league with occasion to merge all fears of danger and all considerations of prudence in a wild, though attractive speculation, difficult at least to realise, and of which even the accomplishment would not be Unattended with formidable drawbacks.' Our Government seems to have been perfectly aware of the danger, nay, the almost certain destruction for Turkey herself, involved in a war. Lord Clarendon says that 'it would entail the destruction of the Ottoman empire.' And again, 'Russia would be effectually repelled; but Turkey, in the meanwhile, might be irretrievably ruined, and we might find it then impossible to restore her integrity, or to maintain her independence.I saw a statement in The Times, the other day, showing the difference that exists in Turkey in the means of recruiting the army now and when the war first broke out. The enlistment at the commencement of the war soon raised an army 150,000 strong. But what was the case 1581 now? It should be recollected that there is in Turkey a standing element in Society—a Russian party. They are beginning to have their prejudices aroused. The Ottomans begin to think that they are suffering more from the presence of the allies than from that of the Russians. They are beginning to be apprehensive as to what may be the real intentions of the allies, and if you continue this state of things long you will strengthen that Russian party which, after peace shall be concluded, will raise its head and become more powerful than ever. Recollect that in those provinces, which are half Russian, the greatest jealousy and hatred are directed against the occupying army, to whatever nation it may belong. They had great hatred and jealousy of Russia, which, I believe, was increased by the behaviour of the Russian army while occupying the country. Austria now occupies it; and a state of things, in which a foreign army remains the master of those provinces, is one which it would be prudent to put an end to as soon as possible. I have asked you to look at these matters, because I think the country should consider them. The country wishes for successes; so do I—I admit that I long for successes, and I believe that successes will bring us nearer to peace; I think, undoubtedly, that success facilitates immensely the acquirement of an honourable peace, but it must be borne in mind that there are dangers imminent—the want of water in the Crimea, and a climate which Europeans seldom encounter without loss of health or life. But that the Government can judge of better than I. I admit that were I in the Government, the chances of success would greatly weigh with me. Therefore I entirely concur in that part of the Motion which assures Her Majesty that we are willing to support her in a war which may end in a just and honourable peace. For the rest, I care little for the words of my hon. Friend (Mr. Lowe), which he says are truisms, but which I say would be truisms if true. A portion of the hon. Gentleman's Amendment implied that Prince Gortchakoff refused to entertain the question of the limitation of Russian naval power in the Black Sea, but he made a qualification which prevents that assertion from being strictly accurate. I, however, as a party to the limitation, though not a sine quâ non, cannot censure the Government for adopting that part of the Amendment; and I am not now going 1582 to discuss it, nor do I mean to give a vote oh it. Thanking the House for the indulgence with which they have heard me, I beg to say, in conclusion, that all I meant to do was to defend my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) and myself against imputations which have been cast upon us, to show that we, who are thought to be the originators of the war, have a right to express an opinion as to its termination, and to explain that for the reason we thought war justifiable we now think peace justifiable, because we have met with the successes we desired. I have stated what are the dangers and difficulties by which the indefinite continuance of this war is beset, and, having so done, I leave it to the House to consider them.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, that the right hon. gentleman who had just sat down had stated that at the commencement of the war he was in favour of it, but that now matters have arrived at a point at which he was in favour of peace. Now his opinion was exactly the reverse of that of the right hon. Gentleman, for he (Mr. Drummond) had originally deprecated the war, and he now concluded that there was nothing left but to go on with it. There was one sentiment, however, expressed by the right hon. Gentleman which he was sorry to hear, because he thought it was unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to his character in that House, and so did the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), who seemed to have caught the same weak affection. Now, when Sir Francis Burdett first entered the House of Commons, Jeremy Bentham said to him, "When you hear a man appeal to his character in the House of Commons put both your hands in your pockets." The right hon. Gentleman needed not to fear that any one would apply the anecdote to him; and it was therefore quite unnecessary for the right hon. Gentleman to make the observation he did about his character. He was glad that the noble Lord the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour) objected to the practice of reading despatches which were not fairly laid on the table of the House; and in reference to this matter the House should bear in mind the extraordinary doctrine broached by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), that he might make use of the private letters of commanders (treating them either as public or private, as he pleased), and that he might use them in his own defence and justification. and as 1583 matters of charge against those commanders, though they had not the right to use similar documents in a similar way. They had heard much about stimulating the country, and he believed that the country was in a false position by this over stimulus. The origin of the present war was not so recent as most Gentlemen seemed to suppose. There had been a hatred of Russia inculcated for many years. The noble Lord at the head of the Government could not have a stronger opinion than he (Mr. Drummond) as to the policy of Russia, but as to its aggressive power the noble Lord had in his opinion for many years overrated that. It was this overrating of the power of Russia that was the great cause of the war. If ever there was a man, next to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who was most active in deluding the people on the subject of Russia, that man was the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), and it was no use now for him to say that when he talked of "crumpling up" Russia, he meant something else. The hon. Gentleman certainly meant to hold Russia cheap. Moreover, everything had been done to make Russia odious in the eyes of the people. They went on coquetting with and encouraging the parties who coquetted with oppressed nationalities; they flirted with Hungarians, and sent Lord Minto to flirt with the Italians; and, not content with that, they continually urged that which they now deprecated—the calling forth of these nationalities and working a ferment in Europe. Russia stood forward as the head of Conservatism or Toryism, for he did not know what Conservatism meant. Russia stood forward as the champion of legitimate monarchy, while every one of the Gentlemen near him stood forward as the champion of rebellion. Having stimulated this hatred against Russia, and having effectually poisoned the public mind on the subject, they went to war for two objects, as they said, one object being civilisation, and the other the integrity of the Turkish empire. Now, to begin with the integrity of the Turkish empire, he utterly denied that at any time any European Power ever admitted its integrity. Well, he could not repeat all Gibbon in the course of half an hour, but he thought very few chapters would convince them that the holy places built by Constantine immediately became the subject of battles between the Greek and Latin bishops. In the time of Francis I., of Louis XIV. of 1584 France, there were treaties with the Sultan with respect to them. That certainly was no proof of the integrity of the Turkish empire. They were going now to protect the Greek religionists; but it was necessary that there should be a clear understanding on this point, or they would only be deceiving those people. His belief was that in their hearts those people were against their professed defenders, and cordially with Russia, and did not believe that the allies would effectually protect them. Indeed, the allies could not protect them and preserve intact the sovereignty of the Sultan. Well! was geographical integrity meant? That would be at an end before the war finished. Then, with regard to civilisation, he asked, looking at the social condition of Turkey, did ever such an abomination exist? He would go into no theological question, but would appeal to the social condition of the country, and would ask whether such an abomination ever had existed? There the whole female sex were held, politically, legally, socially, and practically, as beasts—they were treated as such—they were murdered when old, while the children were murdered when young. Every one who knew any thing about the matter was aware that there was no woman in existence there above fifty years of age, that infanticide was a universal system, and that marriage was impossible with all but the rich. He would not allude to the moral condition of the great mass of the people, but for what a civilisation was it that we were told we were at war? Never was there such an abuse of terms as that by which the people of this country were deceived. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding said the other night that the people would soon rise in disgust, and then, as was his wont—for in his time he had heard the hon. Member do it three times (once to Sir Robert Peel, in the case of the corn laws)—he went on to threaten the Ministers with personal violence. He would remind the hon. Gentleman that it required much less ability than he possessed to rouse the bad passions of the mob, but a great deal more talent than he was gifted with to calm them when once roused. The hon. Gentleman must also remember that it was very frequently the tribunes of the people who fell the first victims to the excited passions of the multitude. Robespierre and Danton were as in popular in their day as any demagogue could wish to be now. No doubt, the peo- 1585 ple would get disgusted; the way in which this debate had drawled on its wearisome length for three nights showed that there was a pressure from without acting on hon. Members, of which they scarcely knew how to get rid. Nevertheless, this was a people's war. Roused as the people had been by the false character given of Russia—roused as they had been by various other unworthy means, the Government had not the manliness to stand up and say to them that they should not go to war until we were prepared, and when the war was begun the Government had still less the manliness to say that they would not send a weak force to undertake that which a weak force could not accomplish. The Government were afraid of the pressure from without, and they yielded to it. It was therefore, as he had just asserted, a people's war, and the people must bear its consequences. The great danger was that the people, through that House, would make themselves the executive, and would be unjust to our commanders, naval and military. Even now they were asking for a victim somewhere—at present they might be contented with an admiral or a general, but if they got that they would not be long content without a Cabinet Minister. The malaise into which they had got showed itself by the ridiculous terms in which their demands were made. They were attacking the aristocracy, though no one in this country knew what the aristocracy was. They were clamouring for Administrative reform, though no one could tell what that meant. Then, said the hon. Member for the West Riding, the danger to the country was that there was no confidence in public men. How could it be otherwise? Every Opposition by its trade blackened the Government of the day; the people believed in the blackness, and the Opposition of the day fancied, because they blackened the other side, that they whitened themselves. Most miserable mistake!the people believed both to be black alike. But never, so long as the generation lived which recollected the name of Sir Robert Peel, would any confidence be again placed in public men. The more those who affected an intimate alliance with his principles, professed themselves his followers, the less they would be trusted. Though he could perfectly well understand the delicacy of the friendship which would never hear him coarsely assailed without defending him, still the pub- 1586 lic evil which was done by the conduct of that great statesman was one under which we were still suffering, and out of which he saw no means of escape. So far from thinking that the Government was to be blamed for its ambiguous language, he thought its language had been a great deal too little ambiguous. Talk of "humbling Russia" and "material guarantee," surely, we had better measure our material strength with a little more judgment before using such language as that. But, however that might be, the Emperor of Russia was quite right when he wrote to the noble Lord the Member for the city of London that when the sick man died would be the time when the difficulty would come as to his inheritance. At all events, two good things would result from this war—first, that it would see the end of the Mahomedan power; and, secondly, that the French, whatever might happen, would assuredly remain masters of Constantinople.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHEE
said, the question before the House was in substance this—that, owing to the refusal of Russia to limit the number of her ships of war in the Black Sea, the means of arriving at an agreement by negotiation were altogether exhausted, and there was no course to pursue but to persist in the prosecution of the war. Now, he dissented from that proposition; he did not think it was true that the means of coming to an agreement by negotiation were exhausted because the proposition of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) on behalf of the Government was rejected. After the best consideration which he had been able to give to the whole history of this Oriental question, he thought that the first proposal of Russia was the one which offered the fairest prospect of their arriving at a safe and prudent adjustment of the present difficulties. He must be allowed briefly to state what he understood that proposition to have been. It was agreed by the Government of Russia that an end should be put to the preponderance of her power in the Black Sea by arrangements to be concerted with all the parties who were represented at the conference. Her Majesty's Government then made a proposal which the Russian Plenipotentiary declared it was impossible for him to accept, because it restricted in express terms his Master's Sovereignty in his own dominions. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had been much blamed for having admitted at the 1587 conference that arrangement to be the best which would leave the honour of Russia untouched. He (Mr. Serjeant Shee) did did not think that the noble Lord was open to reproach on that ground. Prince Gortchakoff, at the very commencement of the proceedings, had declared that Russia would never consent to anything which would touch her sovereignty and honour. Until all accommodation became hopeless it was evidently good policy to assent to that principle of arrangement. The proposition of the noble Lord and M. Drouyn de Lhuys having been rejected, the Russian Plenipotentiary made a proposal, and that proposal was, that the Straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus should be opened not only to the commerce but to the war flags of all countries. If this proposition had been accepted, what possible object could Russia thenceforth have to keep a fleet in the Black Sea liable at all times to be mastered by the combined squadrons of the allies? This proposal he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) regarded as indicating an intention on the part of Russia to consent to the restriction of her naval power in the Black Sea by rendering it impossible that her fleet, under the arrangements she suggested, could prove dangerous to the independence and integrity of Turkey. From Annex A to the Protocol of the conference of the 21st of April it would be found that Russia, though she would not engage never to have in her own ports more than a specified number of ships, was yet willing to agree to England, France, and Turkey sending as marry ships of the lime and frigates as they pleased into the Black Sea. So that, unless they supposed Russia determined to keep at all times, for no possible object, a fleet larger than was required for legitimate purposes in the Black Sea, it stood to reason, said the Russian Plenipotentiaries, that by the proposals to which they would agree the naval preponderance of their sovereign in those waters would be reduced. In fact, the Russian Plenipotentiaries indicated in the clearest manner their intention to assent to an arrangement which would have the inevitable effect of limiting the power of Russia in the Black Sea, for the simple reason that it would be of no use for her to keep an armament there for purposes of aggression. Prince Gortchakoff stated that Turkey had ports of her own in that Sea, such as Varna, Sinope, and Trebizonde, where the allies, with the concurrence of the Ottoman Porte, could repair 1588 and provision their ships, and thus be enabled to maintain a very considerable strength in the Euxine. It was obvious, indeed, from the Annex to the Protocol to which he had alluded, that the opening of the Straits to all flags was never intended by the Russian Plenipotentiaries to stand as a naked proposition, but was meant to be accompanied by other arrangements, with the view of completing it in the idea of Russia, and which might, for all they knew, if the conferences had not been broken off, have proved satisfactory to the Western Powers. Taking these offers, in connection with Count Nesselrode's circular to the representatives of his Government at foreign Courts, it was plain that every possible facility would have been given to the fleets of France, England, and Turkey, to maintain themselves in the Black Sea, and effect all the objects for which there was any necessity that they should be there. The right hon. Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert) said that the second proposal of Russia would have answered all the purposes of the negotiation. The case was not so, however; because, under that arrangement, if the fleets of France and England were wanted, they might hot be on the spot just at the time when danger most menaced Turkey. When the first proposal was made by Prince Gortchakoff, M. Drouyn de Lhuys said he was not authorised to discuss its. details, which were diametrically opposed to the scheme which France wished to see maintained; the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell) declared that it rested upon a basis on which he was not authorised to treat, and added with some appearance of impatience that he could not prevent Prince Gortchakoff from explaining it; and Aali Pasha, the Ottoman representative, stated that his instructions prescribed the maintenance of the principle of closing the Straits which the Russian plan tended to abolish. It thus appeared that after Russia had consented to abandon her preponderance of a naval Power in the Black Sea the allies urged the Russian Plenipotentiaries to take the initiative, and to develope the plan of Russia, but the moment that plan Was developed they were met by a peremptory refusal on the part of France and England to discuss it, and even by an expression of unwillingness to have it fully explained. He had been delighted to hear that the views which appeared to him to be rational had for a considerable time been entertained 1589 by the very intelligent gentlemen who wrote the leading articles for the London press. He thought some of those gentlemen knew as much about the matter as some Members of that House; but, if it were true that before the war broke out, or before it attained its present gigantic proportions, the public press of England thought the only mode of finally settling the Oriental question was that proposed by the Emperor of Russia, he derived considerable support in pressing upon the House the views he entertained. He understood the hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. B. Lytton) to say the other night that, having encouraged Turkey to make war against a most powerful enemy, this country ought not to accept any terms of peace Which Turkey would herself indignantly refuse to endorse. He wished to know why, if on account of the vicious system of the Turkish Government England and France were compelled to maintain vast armaments in the Black Sea, and to wage war with the most powerful among European monarchs for the protection of Turkey, they should ask Turkey on what terms peace was to be made. The noble Lord opposite had also stated the other night that he had been told in conversation by the Plenipotentiary of Turkey that the Turkish Government would never consent to any interference with its rights as a Sovereign State to make what laws it pleased affecting the interests of its Christian as well as its Mahomedan subject. In his (Mr. Serjeant Shee's) opinion, however, if the war ended without substantial guarantees being obtained for the possession of just and equal rights, civil and religious, by the Christian and Mahomedan subjects of the Porte, all the money and blood expended in the contest would have been thrown away; for, unless they secured the Christian subjects of the Porte against any necessity for seeking the protection of Russia, they would only patch up this question instead of arriving at any substantial and durable settlement. With regard to the opening of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, it was said to be a fundamental rule of the Ottoman Empire that those Straits should be closed to vessels of war; but it must be remembered that the same rule applied to merchant ships until the treaty of Adrianople, under which perfect freedom of access was given to the mercantile navies of all European nations. There was a doubt on the minds 1590 of some of the most distinguished jurists as to the right of a nation to impose such restrictions; some held that such a right only existed as long as there was power to enforce it. Turkey, however, did not now possess power to enforce the closing of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, and he might remind the House that in 1839, when there was reason to suppose that Turkey, then in alliance with England, would have objected to the passage of the Dardanelles by ships of war, the noble Viscount (Lord Palmerston) proposed to Marshal Soult to force the Dardanelles, if necessary, and to land troops to take possession of the forts. If then, under the circumstances, it would be for the interest of Europe that the right of Turkey to close the Dardanelles should be questioned ought to be questioned, and that, in his opinion, would be the best way to avoid for the future, complications such as We were at present involved in. He regretted that at the conference the representatives of the two great Western Powers should have allowed such a proposition to be made by Russia, and not only not discussed, but peremptorily rejected, with A curt expression from the Plenipotentiary for England that he could not prevent Prince Gortchak off from making what proposals he pleased. The only objection to that proposition had been raised by Count Walewski, the present Foreign Minister of France, who said the concessions offered by Russia amounted to nothing more than a permission to England and France to send their fleets into a sea where they had neither ports for refuge nor arsenals for supplies. Was there ever such a futile answer! Nations, in time of peace, did not refuse refuge, or stores, or supplies, to ships of war of other nations, and, therefore, if the proposition had been adopted, what would have prevented us from having as a place of refuge the port of Sebastopol itself? Why, at the outbreak of this very war a Russian war vessel was being repaired at Portsmouth. In considering, therefore, the Russian proposition, we must endeavour to forget for a moment a state of war, and consider only the condition of things when in a state of peace. Besides this, a remedy for the difficulty thus suggested was pointed out by the Russians themselves, who showed that the ports of Varna, Galatz, Sinope, and Trebizond, were ports well adapted for every purpose required. Looking to the whole proposal, and the corollaries to which it led, and 1591 not to the naked form of the proposal, he did say that it was altogether inexcusable for the Governments of England and France—he would not say, not to accept the proposition—but not even to discuss it. If it was a bad proposition, the country should have had from the noble Lord the Member for the city of London a fully reasoned statement of the grounds upon which it would be inconsistent with the policy of England to entertain it. We should also have had one from M. Drouyn de Lhuys, one of the ablest among the writers of State papers, and then it would have been out of the power of the Emperor of Russia to send to all foreign States such a circular as that which Count Nesselrode had addressed to European Courts, and which had never received any answer. It was true that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had said if the proposal were accepted it would enable the Russian fleet to leave the Black Sea and to be employed in intriguing with the various populations inhabiting the coasts of the Mediterranean. But with whom were they to intrigue? Not surely with the Pope's subjects. He thought the right hon. Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert) had somewhat slightingly spoken of the Pope as a Sovereign Prince, considering what he had done. The only check the Emperor Nicholas received in the zenith of his power, the only humiliation he ever had to feel was in the palace of the Vatican at the hands of the Pope, from whose presence he went humbled and abashed as the persecutor of his subjects. It was not right to say too much against a weak temporal Power, but one which nevertheless exercised greater influence in every part of the world than any other Sovereign. There could be no apprehension that the Russian fleet would be employed in intriguing with the Italian subjects of Austria, with the inhabitants of Ireland or of France; but, were it otherwise, a large fleet was not necessary for that purpose, and Russia could send her ships from the Baltic if she thought fit to undertake such a task. There was not a single inconvenience attaching to the first proposal of Russia which did not equally attach to the proposal of Her Majesty's Government. Their object was to keep Turkey independent, in the sense in which Belgium, Bavaria, and Switzerland are independent—in the sense of being always under recognizances to keep the peace towards neighbouring States, and of not arousing the susceptibilities of those States by injustice towards 1592 her own Christian subjects. What plan of peace was now under their consideration? The plan of the Government was said to be defunct, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wiltshire had, as it seemed to him, refuted, though supporting it, the second proposal of the Russian Government. No course was left for them to adopt, especially if the House should, by agreeing to the unwise proposition of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) bind the Government by a declaration that all means of negotiation were exhausted, except that of continuing the war until they had destroyed the power of Russia. They had declared that their policy was only to destroy the preponderance of Russia in the Black Sea; but by refusing to discuss any terms but their own they had embarked in a policy which had a very different object—namely, the entire destruction of the power of Russia in the Black Sea. All the aspirations of those who wished for the prolongation of the war tended to that end. But what would they do if they succeeded in that object? They were not making war alone, and they would have to consult the wishes of France. Suppose France thought it suited her purpose to remain for a time in the Crimea as she had done at Ancona, at Civita-Vecchia, and also, in spite of the remonstrances of England, in Algiers, would England remain there too? Were we also to occupy the Crimea? That, he apprehended, would be a, highly dangerous policy. They would have to consider what part of the Crimea should be occupied by France, and what part by England, and they must remember that their forces would be exposed to the same dangers from pestilence, and subject to the same disasters in peace as in war. Russia also would resist their occupation of the Crimea to the utmost. Then would they give it to Turkey, and, if they did, could Turkey retain possession of it without the assistance of a French and English fleet? He would admit that, after the necessity of taking arms had been forced on them by the conduct of Russia at Sinope, they ought not to be satisfied until they had obtained terms of an honourable and durable peace. But they went to war for two objects, one of which was the advancement of civilisation and Christianity by the extension of the protection of the Allied Powers to the Christian subjects of the Porte. Those subjects were members of the Græco-Russian Church, who were, 1593 in most of the points which in the estimation of Protestants were objectionable, of the same religious creed as those whom they called Papists. Hitherto they had had no protection from England. The only occasion on which England had interested herself for them was when, in conjunction with Russia, she put a stop to the atrocities committed by the Turkish Government in the Morea. What chance of protection would they have from France? The points of difference between Protestants and Roman Catholics were not more hotly contested than the points of difference between the Greek and the Latin Churches. The difficulties which led to the war originated in their rival pretensions. Substantially, then, there would be no protection whatever for the Christian subjects of the Porte. Their only protection for the last fifty years against intolerable oppression had been the influence exercised by Russia, and the knowledge on the part of the Porte that Russia had power to enforce the representations she made. Remove that influence, and there would be a repetition of what had occurred in the Morea and at Scio, of the dreadful massacres which had taken place when the whole adult population of a large Christian island was annihilated, and the children of the noblest families sold at 5s. a head in the streets of Constantinople. If the power of Russia were destroyed he believed the Christian subjects of the Porte would be treated worse than they ever had been hitherto, and they would then most probably rise in insurrection. If they failed they would be extirpated, and if they succeeded, what would become of the integrity and independence of the Ottoman empire? The noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord C. Hamilton) had, in the excellent speech he made the other night, adverted to what took place in 1833. There was, then, nothing to restrain Mehemet Ali from marching upon Constantinople but the certainty that there was a Russian force at Sebastopol that would be used for the defence of the Turkish capital. It was said that the Turks might have called in the English fleet; but they were wanted on the coasts of Egypt and Syria. In 1839 Mehemet Ali marched another army into Asia Minor, under the command of his distinguished son, Ibrahim Pacha. France was then prepared to make over Syria and the Egyptian and Syrian pachalics to Mehemet Ali, and there was nothing to prevent her from doing so but the power of 1594 Russia. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) protested against the course taken by France on that occasion, but that Power refused to interfere for the protection of Turkey. No one could prize more highly than he did the alliance of this country with France. He believed it to be an honourable alliance, and he hoped it would be a durable one. He had no doubt that it would be so, as far as depended on the present Emperor of the French, for it was his interest to be on good terms with England, and that he had behaved in the noblest and most honourable manner towards this country. His intentions, no doubt, were as sincere as his actions were high-spirited and honourable, but we should not forget the precarious tenure of human life. We should not forget that but for a providential interference the Emperor might have fallen the other day a lifeless corpse in the streets of Paris. And who would undertake to say of what duration our alliance with France would be if any other sovereign were to occupy the throne of that country than the illustrious person now seated on it? We should not permit present events to engross our attention to such an extent as to make us unmindful of the solemn lessons of history; nor should we omit from recollection the relations which subsisted between this country and France in 1839, when, in the event of a rupture between them, the English Government relied upon our alliance with the Emperor of Russia. With all the teachings of history, and all the warnings of experience before us, he entreated the House not to fetter the discretion of the Government by pledging them to any such proposition as that, because Russia had taken the course she had, all hope of peace was necessarily destroyed, and all means of negotiation exhausted. So far was he from sharing any such opinion, that if, on our having become masters of any considerable town or fortress of the Russian empire, Prince Gortchakoff and M. de Titoff should again make overtures of peace, and offer propositions in a modified form, he believed that it would be treason to this country not to take them into consideration. With these views he should give a decided negative to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kidderminster.
§ MR. ALCOCK
said, he believed that it was from no want of ability or sincerity on the part of those who took part in them that 1595 the Vienna Conferences had proved unsuccessful. Those conferences had failed because we had failed in proving our mastery in war by the taking of Sebastopol; and we had failed in establishing that mastery solely because Government had neglected to supply the necessary means. He was of opinion that the Government were deeply reprehensible in not having supplied the commanders in the Black Sea with sufficient armaments, both naval and military, to enable them to carry on the operations with, vigour, and to show at once that they were masters of Russia in the art of war. If there had been a sufficient number of transports, and an adequate supply of vessels of light draught, the expedition to Kertch might have been ascomplished fifteen months ago, and we might, if necessary, have taken possession of Anapa. He had always been of opinion that the moment it was found the Russians could not beat the Turks on the Danube, we ought to have directed our operations against Anapa, but that we did not do so was not the fault of Admiral Dundas. If Lord Nelson had been in command he could no more have done it than Admiral Dundas, because he had not force enough at his disposal. The bloodless triumphs in the Sea of Azoff resulted from adequate land and sea forces being employed, and showed that so humane and advantageous a course ought to be adopted on every occasion. With regard to Persia it was only two or three months ago that Mr. Murray was sent out, and up to that time our appointed Envoy to the Persian Court had for years been in England. He questioned the qualifications of Mr. Murray in comparison with those of Sir John M'Neill, who was a man of consummate ability, had for years been in Persia, and, in his opinion, was very superior in fitness for the appointment. The noble Viscount at the head of Her Majesty's Government, however, had sent Sir John M'Neill to inquire into the best mode of mitigating the evils of pestilence at Balaklaya; but he (Mr. Alcock) wondered that the noble Viscount had not rather sent him to the Court of Persia, where he had been our Minister for years, with the view of inducing Persia to be our ally against Russia. We first sent a Minister to Persia at the beginning of this century, and Russia first sent a Minister there in 1828. At that time the English Minster had great influence at the Persian Court; and, in fact, but for his recommendations, the Russian 1596 Minister would not have been received at that Court. Nevertheless, in 1837, the Russian Minister was absolutely in the ascendant there, and now, in 1855, Russia rules supreme in Persia, and our Minister (Mr. Murray) has not yet been received. It had also been stated that we were about to send a fleet to the East to attack Persia. If we had properly used our influence in that country, we should have had firm supporters in the Tartar population. When our troops landed at Eupatoria, the Tartar population there rendered great service to them, whilst it was well known that the Greek population there, and elsewhere, were the friends of Russia. He would not vote for any proposition the effect of which would be to drive the present Ministry from office. Suppose the present Government were displaced, who would be their next War Minister? Most probably Lord Ellenborough; but he (Mr. Alcock) had no desire to see the war carried on under that noble Lord's direction. Lord Ellenborough, a few weeks ago, was considered by many to be the most competent man to conduct the war, because it was said he understood more about the matter than any other man. But he heard that noble Lord say a few days ago, in another place, that no expedition to the Crimea ought to have taken place under any circumstances, either with a large or a small army, and that our forces ought to have attacked the Russian army on the Danube, and followed it into Bessarabia. The noble Lord also said that it was of little purpose to attack Russian strength in the Black Sea, and that our energies ought to be directed to the destruction of her power in the Baltic. Now, he believed that men of great authority on this subject held opinions widely different from those held by the noble Lord, and he should be very sorry, if, by any vote of that House, the management of the war should be entrusted to that noble Lord.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he very much regretted that, as the Government had thought it right to send a special mission to Vienna, the opportunity was not taken to sift to the very uttermost all the propositions that might have emanated from the Russian Government. If the British Government had, from the commencement, determined to make the reduction of the number of Russian ships in the Black Sea a sine quâ non, that point might have been ascertained through the ordinary channel of the English Ambassa- 1597 dor at Vienna, and the noble Lord the Member for London might have been spared his journey. But, if the real object was to ascertain what were the views of Russia, be could not comprehend why the questions stated at Vienna were not fully entered into. There was a treaty to which no allusion whatever had been made in these discussions—a treaty made between Russia and Turkey—he meant the treaty of Unkiar Skelessi. It was a treaty of offensive and defensive alliance, in which Russia stipulated to render military assistance to Turkey in case of need. But the stipulation which Russia required of Turkey in return for the great service she had rendered to the Porte was, that the Straits of the Dardanelles should be hermetically closed to all Powers that might be opposed to Russia. This appeared to him to be the key by which the allied Powers might find out the mode by which to effect an honourable and permanent peace. The question had been raised between the two proposals—namely, that of making the Black Sea an apertum mare, and that of making it a clausum mare. If hon. Gentlemen would refer to the geographical position of the Crimea, they would be convinced that, if it were a point of British policy that Russia should apt be in possession of Constantinople, the very last proposal that this country should insist upon would be that of making the Black Sea an apertum mare. Human wit could not devise a better system for Russia. By the treaty of 1841, while the Porte was at peace, the Straits of the Dardanelles were closed; and whatever might be the danger which threatened the Porte, unless actual war existed, she had no means of protecting herself by calling in her allies. Therefore, if power were given to Turkey to call to her assistance her allies whenever she might be attacked, whether on the side of the Pruth, or in her Asiatic dominions, or by a squadron from Sebastopol itself, he thought that one most important element for the final settlement of this question would be obtained. It was not, however, to be supposed that by any one proposition to be made the object of England and France could be attained. To effect a peace that should give permanent security to the independence and integrity of Turkey, a variety of stipulations and conditions would be necessary, and which must be adjusted in reference to the particular circumstances and relations existing between that country 1598 and Russia. If the Danube was to be kept open, some force must be kept up to provide for the security of the mouth of that river. If we desired the security of Turkey we should insist on her right to have a military position on either side of the Danube. With such a position upon the Danube, some power to secure the entrance of that river, and the treaty of 1841 revised, we should then, in his (Sir H.Willoughby's) opinion, have the means of settling a peace. He could not understand on what principle it would be Desirable to adopt the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe), and if any Resolution at all were adopted, that proposed by the right hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) seemed best to meet the ease.
§ SIR WILLIAM CLAY
said, he thought that it would have been better to have adopted the suggestion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and have adjourned the debate for the present; for at present they were carrying on a discussion which had no definite object, nor was there indeed any Motion before them which expressed distinctly the opinion of any party in the House. Feeling, however, that this was the most important question which there had been for years before the House, he thought it was the duty of hon. Members, more especially of those who represented large constituencies, to take a plain intelligible course with regard to it, and for that reason he did not feel justified in giving a silent vote. In all negotiations there must be a moment when, by the elimination or settlement of the majority of points under consideration, the matter in dispute was brought to a narrow issue. It rarely happened, however, that the point remaining open was one of small importance. It might appear in terms insignificant, but, upon investigation, it generally proved to have a very important bearing on the negotiation. So it was with reference to the Conferences at Vienna. The demand for the reduction of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea within a given limit—although apparently a trivial point on which to break off negotiations—was yet substantially, and yet more, perhaps, collaterally, a point of the greatest value. If the Russian fleet were restricted to four sail of the line, Turkey might be able to guard herself against any such a force. But if the Russian ships should be allowed to number fourteen or twenty-four, then it would be ruinous 1599 for Turkey to attempt to keep up a countervailing force. Again, if we were to have consular agents in the Black Sea, we would receive from them timely notice in case Russia attempted to increase the number of vessels of war to which she would be limited by treaty. On these grounds he thought the limitation of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea a matter of greater importance in itself than some hon. Friends of his had conceived it to be; but he considered that the fact of so limiting the naval strength of that empire would have great collateral effects, as it would be evidence to the weak and trembling neighbours of Russia that there existed a power greater than the Colossus they so dreaded—a power which could say to the advancing waves of barbaric conquest thus far shalt thou go, but no further. He did not seek for the humiliation of Russia; but if the English and French Governments had succeeded in obtaining the limitation of her fleet, she would have brought that humiliation on herself, and it would have been a wholesome humiliation, for her conquests had ever been achieved more by terror than by arms. That proposal having been rejected by Russia, the feeling, he was persuaded, throughout the country at present was that it was only by a steady and consistent carrying on of the war that any safe conditions of peace could now be secured. He did not know how to argue with those who still believed in the pretended moderation of Russia. From the will of Peter the Great to the last protocol at Vienna, from the first invasion of Poland to the seizure of the Principalities, if there were meaning in words or significance in acts, it was manifest that Russia had one settled policy—that of aggression and conquest; and that she has always meant, and does now mean per fas aut ne fas, to seize on Constantinople, and to make it the southern capital of her Empire, His hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cobden) had said that we should do wrong to impose so heavy a burden on the country as would be occasioned by the maintenance of large armies to be employed in interfering in foreign wars. But, if Russia were permitted to annex the Turkish Empire to her own, we should have to maintain a much larger force than would be requisite now to prevent her following up her schemes of aggression. It was said again that we should have confined ourselves to the operations of our naval force; but the employment of 1600 a naval force alone would not have coerced the enemy into terms of peace. He would remind his hon. Friend that a naval was proverbially a long war. He agreed with his hon. Friends the Members for the West Riding and Manchester, in entertaining a sincere desire for peace, but he differed from them in the means by which we could obtain it. They said, "see how puny are your efforts, how inadequate the force with which you are attacking the vast empire of Russia;" but we were attacking precisely that portion of the Russian Empire where our naval superiority gave us an incontestable advantage. We were attacking, too, precisely that portion, too, of her territory which she most valued, as affording the means of further aggression, and the loss of which would most destroy her prestige throughout the East. If England and France persevered, success was certain, and that success would insure far more favourable terms than had, at Vienna, been offered and refused. Still he was of opinion that the Government were justified in offering those terms, and that, those terms being rejected, they were equally justified in carrying on the war. In the vigorous prosecution of that war, however much he might regret its necessity, he should heartily support the Crown until a secure and honourable peace could be obtained.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, he thought the hon. Baronet who spoke last was a worthy follower of the Government he supported, his speech being a complete caricature of their conduct and policy. The Government were satisfied with contradicting themselves in one night, but the hon. Baronet contradicted himself in almost two consecutive sentences in the same speech. He asserted that there was no distinct and intelligible issue before the House, and then he proceeded to admit that the propositions made at the Vienna Conferences were the subjects of their discussions. The leader of the House had himself admitted that the real subject of discussion in that debate was the conduct of the Government at those conferences. The negotiations had just been terminated—their final closing might have the effect of plunging this country and Europe into a prolonged war, and, having now arrived at what was the most important turning point in the history of the present century, were they, forsooth, to be told that there was no issue before the House? No doubt the question had been sufficiently perplexed by the introduction of the subject of Poland, 1601 the relations of Russia to northern Europe, and many other extraneous topics; but the real issue on which the House had now to decide was whether the noble Lord the Member for London was justified in proposing as an ultimatum at the Conferences of Vienna, that the ships of Russia in the Black Sea should be limited in their number; and whether, in thereby involving Europe in a war which might last for many years, he had acted consistently with his duty to that House and to his country? It was not the province of that House to chalk out a line of policy for the Government to pursue, but rather, when negotiations were finished and the papers relating to them laid on the table, to review, as they were now doing, the course the Ministry had adopted, and to express their opinion upon it. Now, it had not been shown that the security assumed to be afforded by the ultimatum of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) would be in any way effectual for its professed object. It was said Turkey could resist Russia better if the latter Power had only four ships of the line than if she had a much larger number; but how were they to ensure the fulfilment of any limiting stipulation? How were they to make Russia only keep up a small fleet. The Black Sea was not the only place where Russia built ships—the majority of her vessels were stated to be built one hundred miles up in the interior of her dominions; and could it be seriously intended that we should therefore line the banks of her rivers with a chain of consuls, posted like Martello towers, in order to watch whether she was constructing more ships than the prescribed quota? But did the ultimatum of the Government define what ships of war were, and might not Russia have twenty-five hulks and other vessels on the stocks, or keep 500 transports in the harbour of Sebastopol, without violating the conditions imposed on her? Even if Russia observed such a treaty when made, it would be utterly useless; and, on the other hand, their ultimatum gave not the slightest security that if accepted it would ever be adhered to. Again, did the history of the world really prove that Constantinople was threatened by navies from the sea, and not rather from attacks by land? As to the Motion of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) it stated that every means of a specific solution of the dispute was exhausted; and surely it would be most unwise for that House to fetter itself by a 1602 pledge to that effect, as it would do by recording such a Resolution as this on its Journals. Then taking even the most favourable view of the prospects of the war, supposing we succeeded in capturing Sebastopol and in occupying the Crimea, what were we to do with them after we we had got them? Was it to be supposed that the other Powers of Europe would allow Englishmen or Frenchmen to be placed permanently in the Crimea? To colonise it with Englishmen would certainly be to present a formidable barrier to Russia, and to destroy for ever any hopes she might have of establishing herself in Constantinople. But would the Turks agree to that? Were they then to ask the Turks to occupy it? Who would think of placing a lot of Dutchmen in the Isle of Wight, and telling them to hold it in the teeth of England; and yet it was just as reasonable to ask the Turks to hold the Crimea in the teeth of Russia. If they did not care about the wrath of Russia, and were inclined to keep it themselves, they could not do so, because they did not know what to do with it. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) spoke of appealing to the nationalities, and pointed out the importance of arousing Poland; but really this question of nationalities had been so eloquently and powerfully condemned in that House that it was scarcely worth while now to advert to the subject. There was one solution of the question before them, mentioned with approval by the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) to which for one moment he would refer, and that was the propsal of M. Drouyn de Lhuys for what he called the neutralisation of the Black Sea—in other words, that the Black Sea should be closed to ships of war, and left entirely to the nations of the earth to trade in. Now, how should we like a proposition for the neutralisation of the North Sea, or one which would bind us to have no fleets or arsenals on the coast of England; Or what would be thought of a proposal that would extend the same prohibition to the coasts of France and Norway? The proposition was neither more nor less than that Russia should so disarm herself that at any moment France and England, or any other Powers, should be able to destroy every portion of her trade in the Black Sea, while Russia would be wholly unable to do anything in her own defence. Yet, this was a proposition made by the French Minister, and approved by the 1603 noble Lord opposite, who began his negotiations with the foolish and absurd sentiment that the object of the English Ministers was the maintenance of the honour and dignity of Russia. The only remaining solution of this question would, he believed, be found in a development, more or less, of Prince Gortchakoff's idea. Those who had spoken in the course of the debate had devoted much attention to the first portion of Prince Gortchakoff's proposition; but the second part of it had received little discussion, at least from the Ministerial speakers. It was that the Black Sea should remain closed, has it had been, and that the Sultan should have the power to introduce ships of war ad libitum whenever he was in danger, he being the only judge as to the fact whether he was in danger or not. Now, by the development of this idea, the Sultan might be able to introduce an English and French fleet, and keep them in the Black Sea, and so by that means provide a more complete assurance for the security of Turkey than any other that could be given. Against this solution of the question he had heard only one or two arguments. One was that the presence of hostile fleets in the presence of each other would be likely to provoke collisions. That was an argument which might be expected from the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) and the members of the Peace Society; but was it one in accordance with the views of that House, or with the principles on which we were accustomed to act? Did the English and French fleets get into collision with each other at any of those stations in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, close to which ships of both nations might be seen at anchor? Another argument against this solution had been put forward, not only with the authority of the noble Lord opposite, but also with that of Lord Clarendon in another place, and of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, and it was that the expense incurred would prevent us from protecting Turkey with our own fleets. He supposed 2,000,000l. a-year would cover the utmost amount that would be required to keep a fleet in the Black Sea—1,000,000l, by France, and 1,000,000l. by this country—and such an annual sum would be purchased in perpetuity by a single year's expenditure in this war. But, at all events, whatever might be the solution of this question, he protested against our being forced to com- 1604 mit ourselves against any solution whatever, and he protested against being bound to an ultimatum which not twenty men in that House approved—which was more pregnant with war, and likely to produce more disastrous consequences than any proposition on record.
§ MR. BRIGHT
Last year, when the declaration of war was brought down to the House, I took the opportunity of making a speech in opposition to the policy of the Government of that day. I was told I was too late; and it has been also said repeatedly in this debate that those who take the views which I take are too late on this occasion. It seems to be one of the consequences of the, I would say, irresponsible system of diplomacy in this country with regard to foreign affairs that we are never allowed to discuss a mischief when it is growing, but only when it is completed, and when no remedy can be applied. And now we are at liberty to discuss the conduct of the Government in the Conferences at Vienna; and, though we were repeatedly told from the Treasury bench that it might be injurious to the public service to discuss what was going on till the affair was concluded, I suspect the House has come to the conclusion that we have been pursuing our true duty to the country in the debate that has taken place. We are indebted to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) for having placed his notice on the table of the House, and not less to my right hon. Friend and Colleague that he, before the recess, moved the adjournment of the debate. I am satisfied myself that the people of this country have no intention to go wrong either in home or foreign affairs, and it requires only that questions of this nature should be frequently discussed by the intelligent men of which this House is composed to set before them the true state of affairs, and to bring them to a wise opinion with regard to the policy which is being pursued. Now, we are not discussing the policy of the war—that is, of the origin of the war. If we were, I should lay claim to being fairly allowed to be confirmed in the opinion which I expressed a year ago, for there seems to be a general feeling that the sacrifices that have already been made are somewhat greater than the results that have been obtained. I am anxious, in the observations I may have to address to the House, to impress my opinions on them, if it be possible to do so, and to lay before 1605 my countrymen out of the House that which I believe involves their true interests with regard to this question. It is necessary, therefore, to have a basis for our discussion—to fix what were the objects of the war—to ascertain, if that be possible, whether those objects have been secured and accomplished—and whether there can be anything in prospect that we are likely to gain that will justify the Government and the House in proceeding further with the war. Now, in my observations I am not about to carry on this discussion with the Gentlemen below me, who are interested in a question which is not the question before the House. They are interested in some vast, and, as it seems to me, imaginary scheme that would involve Europe in protracted and widely-extended hostilities; and I think that, so far as the House is concerned in discussing the question with the Government, these Gentlemen are almost altogether out of court. It appears to me, if they were logical in their course, finding that the objects of the Government and the objects of the Government of France were entirely different from those which they have at heart, and believing, as they do, that the objects of the allied Governments are not worth a war, then they ought rather to join us on this bench, and, instead of there being one peace bench in the House, there would be two peace benches, and the peace party Would clearly gain a considerable accession of strength. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies has stated over and over again—and amid the confusion of statements which he and his colleagues have made, I think he will not find fault if I assume that the object of the war is simply the security of the Turkish territory from the grasp of Russia, and probably from the grasp of any other Power—the noble Lord has stated that he apprehends that if Russia were to extend her empire by the possession of Turkey, it would give her a power that would be unsafe with regard to the other nations of Europe. When the noble Lord speaks in that vague, and, if I were not speaking of a man so eminent, I should say, absurd language of the liberties of Europe and the civilisation of the world, I should say he means by that merely those great objects, so far as they can be conserved by the conservation of the Turkish territory. The noble Lord tells us—we are now getting out of some of the mystifications—that he has no kind 1606 of sympathy that would lead him into war for the oppressed nationalities of Europe. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) a few nights ago turned the cold shoulder to the people of Hungary. He said, he thought there could be no greater calamity to Europe than that Hungary should be separated from the Austrian Empire. Well, then, we have got rid of Hungary; and, next, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell) tells us it is quite a mistake to suppose that he ever intended to go to war for Poland. In fact he stated, what will be very disheartening to hon. Gentlemen below me, that he never supposed we were going to war for such a Quixotic object; that the case of Poland is one that is hopeless, and therefore it would be madness in England and France—not indiscretion—not a doubtful undertaking—but positive madness in England and France to take any part in promoting resistance in that country. Having now got rid of Hungary and Poland, we only require that some Member of the Cabinet should get up later in this evening—and that I have no doubt will be the case—to state that it is utterly impossible for this country to involve itself in hostilities with a view to the regeneration of any part of Italy. The noble Lord the Member for London tells us we are not going to war for the sake of conquest; and that, I think, is a matter which ought to be kept in mind by hon. Gentlemen who are urging the Government on to a prolonged war. He stated on Tuesday night, "Be it always remembered that we are seeking no object of our own;"—it would be a very odd thing if we were to go to war for the objects of somebody else—"that we are seeking no object of our own; that when peace is concluded we shall not have acquired one ell of new territory or secured any advantage whatever for ourselves. It is for Turkey and the general system of Europe that we are struggling." In fact, the whole matter always resolves itself into some general mystification, and at this moment we are, every man of us, almost entirely in the dark as to what are the ultimate objects of the war. One other point that I ought to mention is the question of crippling and humbling Russia. I am, of course, willing to admit that when people go to war they are not expected to be very nice in their treatment of each other, and, if the taking of Sebastopol be an object of those who are in favour of the war, to take 1607 Sebastopol, they will inflict any injury they can upon Russia. But the noble Lord told us last year that he still intended to leave Russia a great empire. I thought that exceedingly considerate of the noble Lord, and I understand—I think it has been stated in the public papers—that it is considered at St. Petersburg a great condescension on the part of so eminent a statesman. Well, then, if we are not going to war for nationalities, nor yet for conquest, nor yet for any such crippling of Russia as would be effected by her dismemberment, we come to this simple question—in the condition in which Turkey has long existed, what are the means by which the security of Turkey can be best guaranteed? No man asserts that the security of Turkey can be absolute, but that it must be partial and conditional. As it is well to have high authority for these statements, I have here an extract from a speech made by Lord Clarendon a few nights ago on the Resolution moved by Lord Grey. The noble Lord then stated—My noble Friend says, and says truly, that the attainment of all this would offer no security to Turkey. The value of a treaty must always depend upon the spirit in which it is agreed to, and the good faith with which it is entered into. No treaty can make a weak Power like Turkey perfectly safe against a powerful neighbour immediately in contact with her, if that neighbour is determined to act the aggressive towards her."—[3 Hansard, cxxxviii., 1152.]Thus Lord Clarendon admits, what is perfectly obvious to the common sense of all who have heard anything of Russia or Turkey, except from the lips of the Prime Minister, that what we are seeking to obtain is not an absolute security for Turkey, but a conditional security, such as her circumstances, her population, her Government, and geographical position, render attainable by her friends and allies. We have now been fourteen months at war, and two Cabinets—the Cabinets of Lord Aberdeen and of the present Prime Minister—I might say four Cabinets, for the Cabinets of France and Austria must have agreed to the same thing—have agreed to certain terms, and have offered them to Russia. They have been accepted as the basis of negotiations, conferences have been opened, and certain proceedings towards a settlement have taken place; and now I should like to know whether the terms which were offered were offered in earnest. Judging of the Cabinet of Lord Aberdeen by the conduct 1608 of some of its Members, and especially of Lord Aberdeen himself, I am certain that they were sincere in the terms they offered. But The Times newspaper, which now in its many changes has become the organ and great stimulant of the present Cabinet, expresses its astonishment that any person should think that peace was intended by the Conferences at Vienna. The Times states that the object of the conferences was not to bring about a peace, but to shame Austria into becoming a faithful and warlike ally. Now, when the noble Lord the Member for London was sent to Vienna to negotiate, I confess I was one of those who formed the opinion that that noble Lord, amid the many eccentricities of his career, would not have undertaken that mission unless he himself had been honest with regard to the terms to be offered, and anxious, if possible, to consolidate a peace. There were, however, certain persons—malicious people, of course—who found out that it would be convenient to the Prime Minister to have the noble Lord at a distance, at least for a time. But I never gave in to that idea. I did not believe that the noble Lord's journey to Vienna, with a retinue that required him to occupy no less than thirty-two rooms in one single hotel, would have been undertaken unless the noble Lord considered that the object was a reality, on which the interests of the country and of Europe depended. I think he would have been the last man in the country to lend himself to such a miserable hoax as going to Vienna, not to make peace, but to shame Austria into becoming a faithful and warlike ally. I assume, therefore, that terms were sincerely offered, and that those terms gave guarantees which were sufficient, and a security which was as ample as the circumstances admitted for the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire. It is from that starting point that I would discuss the question. There are hon. Members in this House who think that even if those terms were obtained they would still be no kind of compensation for the enormous sacrifices which the country has made. I happen to hold the same opinion, and it was with that conviction that I protested against going into the war. Indeed, I think that the argument I used a year ago, that nothing to be obtained in the war could at all approach a compensation for the enormous sacrifices the country would be called upon to make, has been greatly strengthen- 1609 ed. Well, Sir, the terms offered are called "bases;" from which one understands, not that they are everything, but that they are something capable of what diplomatists call "development." I recollect a question asked of a child at school, in one of those lessons called "object lessons"—"What is the basis of a batter pudding?" It was obvious that flour was the basis, but the eggs and the butter and the rest were developments and additions. Well, but if the bases are capable of development, so I take it for granted that the meaning of negotiation is not the offering of an ultimatum, but the word involves to every man's sense the probability of concession—butter, it may be—but concession of one sort or another. I will not go through all the Four Points, because the attention of the House ought really to be centred upon the third article and the matters connected with it. The House must remember that that article involves two most important subjects—first, the territorial guarantee, which if it were sufficiently secured would be everything the House and the country required from the war—namely, that the territories of Turkey shall never be molested, so long as the treaty shall continue by any of the great Powers who are parties to such treaty; and, secondly, that the preponderance of Russia in the Black Sea shall cease. Now, the territorial guarantee was granted without difficulty. [An hon. Member: No.] Well, no difficulty was made about the territorial guarantee but this:—Prince Gortchakoff said, very wisely, that he would not enter into an absolute pledge to go to war in case of any infraction of the treaty, and the noble Lord who said "No" will find when he has examined the question a little more closely, that it does not make the slightest difference as to the actual results of a treaty whether a Power guarantees in the mode proposed by Russia, or in the manner proposed by the noble Member for the City of London, because when an infraction of a treaty occurs the power of judging whether any of the Governments who are parties to such treaty should go to war or not is left with each individual Government. If, for example, France stretched her dominions westwards towards Morocco, or eastward towards Tunis or Tripoli, it would, of course, have been the duty, and would have been in the power of Russia, even had she accepted the exact terms proposed by the allies, to judge for herself whether a case had arisen which required her to 1610 go to war, or which justified her in doing so. Such a case arose very lately with reference to Schleswig-Holstein. We were bound, under an ancient treaty, to go to war in the event of the infraction of certain treaties affecting Schleswig-Holstein; but when this case occurred the subject was considered by the Government, the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) being at the time, I believe, Foreign Secretary—who most wisely and properly, not only for this country, but for the interests of Schleswig-Holstein and of Europe, declined to act upon what was represented to be the strict letter of the treaty, and England did not engage in war in consequence of the disputes which then took place. I must say that what strikes me as the most statesmanlike and elevated declaration in the protocols is the statement of Prince Gortchakoff that the blood of Russia is the property of Russia, and that he will not pledge himself that years hence—it may even be a century hence—the blood of Russia shall be shed in a cause which, when the time arrives, may be one which would be altogether unworthy of such a sacrifice. With respect to the question of the Christian protectorate, the House will probably recollect that it was represented over and over again by Ministers in this House—it was stated in the speeches of Lord Clarendon in another place, that the proposition of Russia, as conveyed in the Menchikoff note, was intended to transfer the virtual sovereignty of 10,000,000 or 12,000,000 of Ottoman subjects to the Czar. If that were so, the Menchikoff note, and all the old protectorate treaties being abolished, surely the House will consider whether the combination of the three propositions—the territorial guarantees, the Christian protectorate, and the Black Sea project—did not give such securities to Turkey as the condition of Turkey would permit. Now the preponderance of Russia in the Black Sea, as I think my hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) showed very clearly the other evening, is in a certain sense a fact which all the negotiations in the world cannot write off. I see that one of the public journals this morning, commenting upon my hon. Friend's speech, says, "Yes, truly, the commercial preponderance of Russia in the Black Sea is a fact which cannot be denied;" and then proceeds to argue that it does not follow that Russia should have a political and naval preponderance. But I do not know any case in which there is a commercial 1611 supremacy in a sea like the Black Sea that is not followed by a preponderance of every other kind. The question now is, however, how is that preponderance to cease? The noble Member for the City of London referred the other night to a proposition made by the French Government, but which, I think, does not appear at all distinctly in the protocols, with regard to making the Black Sea a neutral sea. I conceive that was so monstrous a proposition, in the present condition of Europe, that I am surprised it should have been entertained for a moment by any sensible man. I supposed it was found so utterly indefensible that it does not appear as a distinct proposition in the protocols. This proposal of making the Black Sea a neutral sea gave place to another project, which appears to me very like asking Russia, voluntarily or by compulsion, to perform the operation of amputation upon herself. I maintain that the third article as offered to Russia in December last could not mean what the noble Lord offered to Russia at Vienna, because the cessation of preponderance does not mean the transfer of preponderance, but rather the establishment of an equilibrium—not the destruction of an equilibrium and the establishment of preponderance on the other side. Some hon. Gentlemen talk as if Russia were a Power which you could take to Bow Street, and bind over before some stipendiary magistrate to keep the peace for six months. Russia is a great Power, as England is, and in treating with her you must consider that the Russian Government has to consult its own dignity, its own interests, and public opinion, just as much at least as the Government of this country. Now, what was the proposition of this third article? The proposal was, that Russia should have eight ships; but what was the proposition with regard to her present antagonists? That Turkey should also have eight ships, that France should have four, and that England should have four; and I believe that in a preceding protocol, which has not been alluded to in this debate, it is proposed that the contracting Powers should have two ships each at the mouth of the Danube, so that if these terms had been agreed upon, Russia would have had eight ships in the Black Sea, while Turkey, France, and England would have had twenty. Now that is not a mere cessation of a preponderance; it is not the establishment of an equilibrium; it is a transfer of the supremacy of the Black Sea, from 1612 that country which, if any country should be supreme there, has the best claim—namely, Russia. Besides this, however, Turkey would have had whatever ships she liked in the Bosphorus, and the allies would also have had as many ships as they chose in the Mediterranean and the Levant. Now, let us for a moment consider the offer with which Russia met this proposal. The first proposition was that of the open Straits, which is disapproved by the hon. Baronet opposite. I am not about to say that that proposition should have been accepted in preference to the other, but I think it is the true interests of Europe, and also of Turkey itself, that the Straits should be thrown open. At any rate, it must be admitted that the preponderance of Russia, in the sense in which we now understand it, would be absolutely destroyed if the Straits were thrown open. Russia made a proposition which appears to me to be highly satisfactory—that such regulations should be made by the Sultan and his Government with regard to the position and duration of the anchorages of ships between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea as would preclude the possibility, so far as there were means of doing so, of any inconvenience or danger to Constantinople from the opening of the Straits. If that had been agreed to, all nations would have been entitled to the passage of the Straits, and I believe that all nations would equally have respected the privilege thus granted to them. Now, suppose these Straits, instead of being one mile wide, had been ten miles wide, what difference would it make to Turkey? If the Straits were ten miles wide they would be open. Turkey would have no right to close them, and European nations would not permit her to pretend to or to exercise, any such power; but Constantitinople would be no more secure then, than it would be now with the Straits open, whether they were ten miles wide or one mile wide. If the Straits were open, the consequences to Constantinople and to Turkey appear to me to be about precisely the same. Turkey would be equally safe; Turkey would be equally menaced. Our fleets would visit the Black Sea in the course of the season, and the Russian Black Sea fleet, if it chose, would visit the Mediterranean. There would be no sort of pretence for wrangling about the Straits; and the balance of power—if I may use the term—between the fleets of Russia, France, and England, would be probably the best guarantee that could be 1613 offered for the security of Constantinople and Turkey, so far as they are in danger of aggression either from the Black Sea or the Mediterranean. But it is said, the Sultan's sovereignty would be menaced—that he has an undoubted right to close these Straits. I doubt whether that right will be very long maintained, but if it be maintained, and if you are to reject any proposition which interferes with the Sultan s sovereignty, I ask you whether the sovereignty of the Czar is not as dear to him? and whether, if, in negotiations of this kind, you can find any mode of attaining your object without inflicting injury upon either the sovereignty of the Sultan or the Czar, it would not be much more statesmanlike to adopt it, and so to frame your treaties that neither should feel that it was subjected to an indignity, and therefore seek to violate such treaties at the first opportunity? Well, but the second proposition, which I think the hon. Baronet approved, and which I think the noble Lord proposed, was, that the Sultan should open the Straits at will. I ask the House whether that proposition, if accepted, would not imply that the Sultan could have no other enemy than Russia?—which I think is doubtful. If the Black Sea were open to the West, and the Mediterranean closed to the East, surely that is assuming that the Sultan could have no enemy but Russia. The Sultan could close the Straits to Russia, but the Western Powers could always proceed to the Black Sea. The French plan, in my opinion, far more exposed Turkey to the West than the Russian plan exposed her to the East. Nothing can be more short-sighted than the notion which the noble Lord the Member for London started at the conferences, that Turkey could have no enemy but Russia. In fact, everybody there seemed to be on exceedingly good terms with himself. The Austrian Minister said nobody would suspect Austria—no one could be suspected but Russia. But our experience for many years will tell us that there has been just as much menace from the West as from the East—the rapacity of the West is not less perceptible than that of the East. ["Hear."] Some one expresses a sentiment in opposition—it is a Gentleman who has never read the Blue-books—he does not know that almost the whole of this business began in a threat of the most audacious and insulting character from the Ambassador of France, a threat to order up the French fleet the Dardanelles, and fur- 1614 ther to land an expedition in Syria to take possession of Jerusalem and the whole of the Holy Places. Do you mean to tell me, you and the noble Lord himself, who tried to frighten the country with the notion of the French fleet coming to invade England, that the fleet which three years ago threatened England, and more recently threatened the Dardanelles, has for ever abandoned rapacious desires, and that, therefore, there will never again be a menace against Turkey from France? I understand, however, there is a very different opinion prevalent upon the southern shores of the Mediterranean. The Emperor of Morocco, a potentate somewhat allied to this country, as I am told his empress is an Irish lady—the Emperor of Morocco, who is not very well versed in what is going on in this House, has been making inquiries of the most anxious character as to whether the particular guarantee which the noble Lord was going to enter into included the territory of Morocco: and I understand he has not been able to find it out from the most assiduous study of the Gibraltar newspapers. It so happens that the Governor of Gibraltar—the noble Lord at the head of the Government corrected me the other night when I called him an irrational man—has issued an ordinance by which he has entirely suppressed the newspaper press in that town and garrison. Now we come to the question, which of the propositions would be most secure? I was very much struck by an observation which fell from my hon. colleague (Mr. M. Gibson) in the course of his speech the other night—a point I think very worthy of the attention of the House and of the Government; he said the limitation plan was one which must depend for its efficacy on the will and fidelity of Russia. I am not one of those who believe Russia to be the treacherous and felonious Power which I she is described to be by the press of this country, as she is described by the noble Lord to be, and I believe the right hon. I Baronet the Member for Southwark gave her the same character. Although Russia may not be more treacherous than other Powers, when you are making a bargain with her it is better you should make the efficacy of the terms depend on your own vigilance than on her good faith. The noble Lord the Member for London has admitted that the limitation plan is, after all, an inefficient one. He said that Russia might get another ship—perhaps three or four—and when she had doubled the 1615 navy permitted to her, perhaps the noble Lord would be writing despatches about it, although I am not sure he would do that. I think it would be holding out a temptation to buy Mr. Scott Russell's great ship as one of the eight ships she is to be allowed to keep by the treaty. My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding remarked that Russia might purchase vessels of large size from the United States, and still keep within the prescribed limit; but if this great ship, now building in the Thames, should succeed, as I hope she will, Russia might buy her and send her into the Black Sea. Somebody says she could not go there without passing the Straits, but, as she is built for mercantile purposes, that monster vessel might freely be taken up, and then form one of the eight ships allowed to Russia. Another proposition has been alluded to by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay)—that pointed out by the Russian Plenipotentiary—that Russia and Turkey should enter into a friendly treaty between themselves and arrange that point; but the other diplomatists would not allow it, unless done under the eyes of the conference and bearing the same features of force and compulsion as their proposal of the limitation possessed. I was astonished to hear the hon. Baronet, as I understood him, say that, even although it could be shown that the Russian propositions were better than our own, he thought the proposition which bore on its face coercion of Russia was most desirable. A more un-statesmanlike and immoral view upon a great question between nations I have rarely heard. [Sir WILLIAM CLAY rose, and was understood to deny the sentiments imputed to him by the hon. Member.] I understood my hon. Friend so. Perhaps he did not mean what I thought he did mean, but that was the conclusion I came to from his argument, and I do not think he will say I entirely misrepresented him. It has, however, been said by the press that, whether we were sincere or not at the conference, Russia was not. Hon. Gentlemen have read in The Times and other papers blowing the flames of war, that from first to last Russia was treacherous and insincere. I would put it to the noble Lord the Member for London whether he can say that was the case, for I observe he said, in his speech in this House on the 23rd of January last, in answer to a question from the hon. Member for Aylesbury, or some other Member— 1616My hon. Friend will see that by that act the Russian Plenipotentiary accepted this interpretation as the basis of negotiation, of course reserving to himself the power, when this basis shall have been laid down in a definite article, of making any observations on the part of his Government which he should think proper."—[3 Hansard, cxxxvi. 911.]Of course the Russian Plenipotentiary, when he accepted it, did so upon the understanding that it was the basis of negotiation and discussion, as no one will deny it was a question capable of being solved in more ways than one, and it was no indication of insincerity for him to refuse the precise mode proposed by the Plenipotentiary for England. With regard to the terms proposed, I should like to read to the House a statement I have on very good authority as to the language which Prince Gortchakoff held at Vienna. The statement I have is not to be found in the protocols, but I believe it may be relied upon as the precise words he used. The noble Lord insisted, as I understand, that it was no indignity to ask Russia to limit the number of her ships in the Black Sea; but I would submit it is precisely the same in principle as if she were asked to limit the amount of her force in the Crimea to four or six regiments. Prince Gortchakoff said—To ask from an independent Power that it should limit its force, is to assail its rights of sovereignty on its own territory. It is with a bad grace that they would sustain the rights of the Sultan and wish to attack those of the Emperor of Russia. The proposition to render the Black Sea inaccessible to vessels of war of all nations is so strange (si bizarre) that one is astonished to see the fate of nations confided to men such as those who have conceived it. How could it be believed that Russia would consent to give herself up disarmed at the good pleasure of the Napoleons and the Palmerstons, who will be able themselves to have armed forces in the Mediterranean?There was no answer to that. If any diplomatist from this country, under the same circumstances as Russia was placed in, had consented to terms such as the noble Lord had endeavoured to force upon Russia—I say, that if he entered the door of this House, he would he met by one universal shout of execration, and, as a public man, would be ruined for ever. I wish to ask the House this question—whether it has deliberately made up its mind that that was a proposition which ought to be imposed upon Russia? If they have ascertained which is the best—and I rather think the general opinion is that the proposition of the Government is 1617 the worst; but, assuming that it is not so, and that there may be some little difference—I want to know what that difference is, and if there is any difference which can be measured even by the finest diplomatic and statesmanlike instrument ever invented, I ask, is that difference worth to this country the incalculable calamities which a prolonged war must bring upon us? I am of opinion that, with the territorial guarantee and the abolition of the Christian protectorate, either the terms proposed by the noble Lord or by Prince Gortchakoff would have been as secure for Turkey as it is possible under existing circumstances for Turkey to be by any treaty between the great Powers of Europe. And recollect that we have been thrown a little off the original proposition, for when that proposition was first agreed to in the Cabinet of Lord Aberdeen I am satisfied in my own mind that it meant something very like that which the Russians themselves have proposed. If we take this first protocol of the conference, and look to the speech made by Count Buol and to the proposition he made, you will find the third article runs in this language—"The treaty of July 13, 1841, shall be revised with the double object," and so on. But what is the meaning of revising the treaty of 1841? That treaty has only one object, which is to guarantee to the Turk the right he has claimed since his possession of Constantinople—namely, that the Straits should be closed under the guarantee of the Powers, except in case of war. Therefore, when the Aberdeen Government, of which the noble Lords were Members, originally agreed upon these terms, their object was that the Black Sea should be thrown open, or, at least, that the closing of the Straits should be relaxed; and I presume that it was not until after it was known that, while Russia had no objection to the opening of the Straits, Turkey was very much opposed to it that it was found necessary to change the terms and bring them forward in another form. But, surely, if this be so, the House and the Government should be chary indeed of carrying on a prolonged war with Russia, Russia having been willing to accept a proposition made originally by us, and which I believe to be the best for Turkey and for the interests of Europe. If, I say, this be so, was the Government justified in breaking off these negotiations, because that really is the issue which this House is called upon to try? Can they obtain better terms? If 1618 the terms are sufficient for Turkey they ought not to ask for better ones. I do not say they may not get better terms. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), that England and France, if they choose to sacrifice 500,000 men, and to throw away 200,000,000l. or 300,000,000l. of treasure, may dismember the Russian Empire. But I doubt whether this would give better terms for Turkey—I am sure it would not give better terms for England and France. Now, what has it cost to obtain all this? And here I must be permitted to say one word with regard to the course taken by those right hon. Gentlemen who have recently taken their seats on this bench, and whose conduct on this question has been the cause of great debate, and of language which I think the state of the case has not wholly justified. I presume it will be admitted that these right hon. Gentlemen at least know the object of the war as well as any other men in this House. I presume, too, that, entertaining as they do a very serious idea of the results of a prolonged war, they are at liberty to come to the conclusion that certain terms, to which they themselves were parties, are sufficient; and if this be the conviction at which they have arrived, surely no Member of this House will say that, because they were Members of a Cabinet some time ago which went into this war, therefore they should be forbidden to endeavour to avert the incalculable calamities which threaten their country, and should be expected to maintain a show of consistency, for which they must sacrifice everything that an honest man would hold dear. Have these men gained anything in popularity with the country, or even with the Members of this House, by the course they have taken? I am almost ashamed to say anything in the defence of those who are so capable of explaining and defending their own conduct in this matter; but I may be pardoned if I rejoice that men ranking high as statesmen, powerful by their oratory, distinguished by their long services, have separated themselves from that rash, that inexcusable recklessness which, I say, marks the present Government, and are anxious to deliver their country from the dangers which surround it. Why, my hon. Friends below me—and I am quite sure not one of them will suppose that I speak from the mere wish to oppose them in any way; they are personal friends of mine, and it pains me now to differ from them—but 1619 hon. Members seem to think, when they are looking a long way off for the objects to be gained by war, that a man who looks at home is not a friend to his country. Is war the only thing a nation enters upon in which the cost is never to be reckoned? Is it nothing that in twelve months you have sacrificed 20,000 or 30,000 men who a year ago were your own fellow-citizens, living in your midst, and interested, as you are, in all the social and political occurrences of the day? Is it nothing that, in addition to those lives, a sum of—I am almost afraid to say how much, but 30,000,000l. or 40,000,000l. will not be beyond the mark—has already been expended? And let the House bear in mind this solemn fact—that the four nations engaged in this war have already lost as many men as if you were to go from Chelsea to Blackwall and from High-gate and Hampstead to Norwood and take every man of a fighting age and put him to death—that if you did this you would not sacrifice a larger number of lives than have already been sacrificed in these twelve months of war. Your own troops, as you know, have suffered, during a Crimean winter, tortures and horrors which the great Florentine hardly imagined when he wrote his immortal epic. Hon. Members are ready, I know, to say, "Whose fault is that?" But if our loss has been less than that of the French, less than that of the Turks, and less than that of the Russians, it is fair to assume that, whatever mistakes may have been committed by the Government, the loss in the aggregate would, even under other circumstances, have fallen very little short of that which I have attempted to describe. Are these things to be accounted nothing? We have had for twelve years past a gradual reduction of taxation, and there has been an immense improvement in the physical, intellectual, and moral condition of the people of this country; while for the last two years we have commenced a career of reimposing taxes, have had to apply for a loan, and, no doubt, if this war goes on, extensive loans are still in prospect. Hon. Members may think this is nothing. They say it is a "low" view of the case. Why, these things are the foundation of your national greatness, and of your national duration; and you may be following visionary phantoms in all parts of the world while your own country is becoming rotten within, and calamities may be in store for the monarchy and 1620 the nation of which now, it appears, you take no heed. Every man connected with trade knows how much trade has suffered, how much profits in every branch of trade—except in contracts arising out of the war—have diminished, how industry is becoming more precarious and the reward for industry less, how the price of food is raised, and how much there is of a growing pressure of all classes, especially upon the poorest of the people—a pressure which by and by—not just now, when the popular frenzy is lashed into fury morning after morning by the newspapers[Murmurs]—but I say by and by this discontent will grow rapidly, and you (pointing to the Ministerial bench) who now fancy you are fulfilling the behests of the national will will find yourselves pointed to as the men who ought to have taught the nation better. I will not enter into the question of the harvest. That is in the hand of Providence, and may Providence grant that the harvest may be as bountiful as it was last year! But the House must recollect that in 1853, only two years ago, there was the worst harvest that had been known for forty years. Prices were very high in consequence. Last year the harvest was the greatest ever known, yet prices have been scarcely lower, and there are not wanting men of great information and of sound judgment who look with great alarm to what may come—I trust it may not come—if we should have, in addition to the calamities of war, calamities arising from a scarcity of food, which may be scarcely less destructive of the peace and comfort of the population of this country. I will ask the House in this state of things whether they are disposed to place implicit confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers? On that (the Opposition) side of the House there is not, I believe, much confidence in the Government, and on this side I suspect there are many men who are wishful that at this critical moment the affairs of the country should be under the guidance of men of greater solidity and of better judgment. I will point out now one or two causes which I think show that I am justified in placing no confidence whatever in Her Majesty's Government. Take for example what they have been doing with Austria. The noble Lord at the head of the Government has stated to us that it was of European importance that Hungary should be connected with Austria. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London said the other night it was of essential im- 1621 portance that Austria should be preserved as she is—a great conservative Power in the midst of Europe. Well, but at the same time this Government has been urging Austria, month after month, to enter into the same ruinous course which they themselves are disposed to pursue. They know perfectly well that if Austria were to join either with Russia on the one hand, or with the Western Powers on the other, in all human probability this great empire would no longer remain that "great conservative Power in the midst of Europe," but would be stripped on the one side of her Italian provinces, and of Hungary on the other; or, if not stripped of these two portions of the empire, would be plunged into an interminable anarchy which would prove destructive of her power. What can be more inconsistent than for Ministers to tell us that they wish Austria to be preserved, and, at the same time, to urge her upon a course which they know perfectly well must end in her disruption, and in the destruction of that which they think essential to the balance of power in Europe? We are told, with regard to our other alliance, that it is a very delicate topic. It is a very delicate and a very important topic, but there is another topic still more delicate and important—namely, the future of this country with regard to that alliance. I think we have before now spent 1,000,000,000l. sterling, more or less, for the sake of a French dynasty. At this moment there are French armies in Rome, in Athens, in Gallipoli, in Constantinople, and in the Crimea, and the end of all this, I fear, is not yet. It has been repeatedly stated in this House that the people of France are not themselves enthusiastic in favour of this war. I would fain hope, whatever else may happen, that between the people of England and of France an improved and friendly feeling has grown up, but, as far as the war is concerned, your alliance depends on one life. The present dynasty may be a permanent, but it may be an ephemeral one, and I cannot but think that when men are looking forward to prolonged warfare they should at least take into consideration the ground on which they are standing. Lord Clarendon has told us, with regard to Russia, that Europe was standing on a mine, and did not know it. I do not know that he is much more acute than other people, but I can fancy that Lord Clarendon by the blunders of his negotiations and the alliances he has endeavoured to form has 1622 placed this country on a mine far more dangerous and destructive than that upon which he thinks Europe was placed by the colossal power of Russia. There is another point I have to touch upon. To me it was really frightful to hear the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell) tell the House that we are net fighting for ourselves, but for Germany. I recollect one passage among many in the noble Lord's speeches upon this point; and, in looking over what has been said by Ministers, one really wonders that they should have allowed anything of the kind to appear in Hansard. On the 17th of February last year the noble Lord said—They (England and France) feel that the cause is one, in the first place, of the independence of Turkey * * * It is to maintain the independence, not only of Turkey, but of Germany and of all European nations."—[3 Hansard, cxxx. 906.]["Hear, hear!"] An hon. Member cheers. What a notion a man must have of the duties of the 27,000,000 of people living in these islands if he thinks they ought to come forward as the defenders of the 60,000,000 of people in Germany, that the blood of England is not the property of the people of England, and that the sacred treasure of the bravery, resolution, and unfaltering courage of the people of England is to be squandered in a contest in which the noble Lord says we have no interest, for the preservation of the independence of Germany, and of the integrity, civilisation, and something else, of all Europe. The noble Lord takes a much better view, as I presume many of us do, of things past than of things present. The noble Lord knows that we once did go to war for all Europe, but then we went to war with nearly all Europe, whereas now we are going to war with France only, except the little State of Sardinia, which we have cajoled or coerced into a course which I believe every friend to the freedom of Italy and to Sardinia will live to regret. All the rest of Europe—Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Prussia, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden—take no part in the war, and yet our Ministers have—what I should call, if I were not in this House, the effrontery and audaeity to get up and tell us that they are fighting the battle of all Europe, and that all Europe is leagued with us against the colossal power of Russia. Europe, in the last war, did, for the most part, unite with us. We went to Spain because we were 1623 called to go by the patriot Spaniards, but I think the Duke of Wellington has stated, in his despatches, that if he had known how little assistance would be received from them he would not have recommended even that expedition. But now, not only has all Europe not united with you, but other countries will not even allow their men to fight with you. You pay the Turks to fight their own battles, you enlist men in Germany to fight the battles of Germany, and the persons engaged in Switzerland and Hamburg in enlisting men for you are looked upon with suspicion by the authorities, and I am not sure that some of them have not even been taken into custody. Why, then, should you pretend that all Europe is leagued against Russia, and that you have authority to fight the battles of all Europe against Russia, when the greater part of Europe is standing by apathetically wondering at the folly you are committing? I would appeal to the noble Lord the Member for the Colonies—I beg his pardon, the Member for London—but he has been in so many different positions lately that it is extremely difficult to identify him. I would appeal to the noble Lord, because, however much I differ from him, I have never yet come to the conclusion that he has not at heart the interest of his country, that he is not capable of appreciating a fair argument when it is laid before him, and that he has not some sense of the responsibility as to the political course he takes, and I would ask him if there be no other world of kingdoms and of nations but that old world of Europe with which the noble Lord is so disposed to entangle this country? I wish the noble Lord could blot out from his recollection, for a little time, William III., and all the particulars of what has been called by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) "the Dutch conquest," which is supposed to have enthroned the Whig aristocracy in this country. I would ask the noble Lord to do this for to-night—for an hour—for five minutes. There is a country called the United States of America. Only on Tuesday night the very remarkable circumstance occurred—and I think the House will be of opinion that it is one worth notice—of two of the distinguished men being present listening to the debates in this House who have occupied the position of President of the United States, a position, I venture to say, not lower in honour and dignity than 1624 that of any crowned monarch on the surface of the globe. The United States is precisely the country which is running with us the race of power and of greatness. Its population will, I believe, at the next census exceed the population of the United Kingdom; in its manufactures and general industry it is by far the most formidable rival that the great manufacturers of this country now have to contend with; it has, I suppose, ten steamers for one steamer of this country; its magnificent steamships have crossed the Atlantic in a shorter time than the steamships of this country; the finest vessels which are at this moment performing the voyage between England and the Australian colonies have been built in the United States; therefore, in shipbuilding industry the United States not only compete with, but in some respects even excel, this country. Look at our present position and that of the United States. May I entreat the attention of the House, for I am not declaiming, I am not making a party attack, I am treating of that which, in my mind, is of vital importance to every family in the kingdom. This year the Chancellor of the Exchequer told you that he must have a sum of 86,000,000l. in order to carry on the various departments of your Government, and to defray your vast military expenditure. The United States has at this moment in her Treasury enough, I think, to pay off all her debt. Deduct the whole amount of the expenses of the Government of the United States, not only of the general Government, but also of the thirty independent sovereign States, from the 86,000,000l. we are spending, and you will find that about 75,000,000l. will be left, which is, therefore, the sum of taxation that we are paying this year more than the people of the United States. Some hon. Gentlemen know what it is to run a horse that has been weighted. I heard, the other day, of a horse that won every race in which it started up to a certain period when it was for the first time weighted. It then lost the race, and it is reported in the annals of the turf that it never won a race afterwards. If that be the case with regard to a horse, it is much more true with regard to a nation. When a nation has gone a step backwards it is difficult to restore it to its position; if another nation has passed it in the race, it is almost impossible for it to regain the ground it has lost. I now speak particularly to hon. Members opposite, for there 1625 are, perhaps, more Gentlemen upon that than upon this side of the House in the happy position of owners of vast, produductive, beautiful, and, I hope, unincumbered estates in the various parts of the kingdom. We are now about ten days' journey from the United States, and within ten years we shall probably communicate with that country by telegraph as quickly as we now do with the Crimea. I hope it will be for a much better object. The people of the United States are our people, and there are few families in England which have not friends and relatives connected with or settled in that country. The inducements of men to remain at home and their attachment to the place of their birth are necessarily to some extent weakened by the facility with which they can now travel almost round the world in a few weeks. Do you believe that when the capital of the greatest banking-house in Lombard Street can be transferred to the United States on a small piece of paper in one post, that the imposition of 75,000,000l. of taxation over and above the taxation of an equal population in the United States will not have the effect of transferring capital from this country to the United States, and, if capital, then trade, population, and all that forms the bone and sinew of this great empire? I ask hon. Members to remember what fell on a previous evening from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Works. The right hon. Gentleman talked of the war lasting, perhaps, six years with our resources undiminished. Now, nothing is easier than for a Cornish Baronet, possessing I am afraid to say how many thousands a year, a Member of a Cabinet, or for all those who are surrounded with every comfort, to look with the utmost complacency upon the calamities which may befall others not so fortunately situated as themselves. Six years of this war, and our resources undiminished! Why, Sir, six years of this war, at an annual expenditure of 75,000,000l., give 450,000,000l. to the side of the United States as against the condition of the people of this country. Am I, then, talking of trifles? Am I talking to sane men, that it is necessary to bring forward facts like these? I am amazed, when the newspaper press, when public speakers, when Gentlemen on both sides of this House are so ready upon questions relating to Turkey, to Servia, or to Schamyl, that I cannot get the House of Commons to 1626 consider a question so great as the expenditure of 450,000,000l., and when we have to consider if we shall trust that vast issue in the hands of the noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury bench. I have stated that I have no confidence in the Government, and I will now tell the House another reason for that want of confidence. My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding, on a previous occasion, treated the right hon. President of the Board of Works very summarily, but I wish to call the attention of the House to what was said by the right hon. Gentleman in 1850, in the debate which then took place upon the foreign policy of the noble Lord now his chief. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman told the House that the foreign policy of the noble Lord now at the head of the Government had made us hated by every party in every nation in Europe; he said that the noble Lord had excited the disaffected to revolt, and, having brought upon them the vengeance of the Governments under which they lived, had then betrayed them. I do not say that that is true, but I state it upon the authority of a Minister now in the Cabinet of the noble Lord; but, whether true or not, I cannot have confidence in the right hon. Gentleman when sitting in a Cabinet to carry out the foreign policy of the noble Lord. I will take the case of another Minister, and I do not think that when he speaks he will call my observations undeserved. A most distinguished Member of the Government—the Chancellor of the Exchequer—has been twice elected within a very short period, once before and once since his acceptance of office, and I must say that I do not like to see changes, because a man one night sits on one bench and another night on another. On the 8th of February, 1855, the right hon. Gentleman, addressing his constituents at Radnor, said:—I am not prepared to give my vote in favour of any change in our policy which would attempt to make England a first-rate military Power. It seems to me that it would be little short of madness to attempt any such gigantic undertaking. It is our true wisdom to limit ourselves to that amount of military force which shall enable us to defend our own shores, and to protect our great dependencies abroad. If we can completely defend our own coasts, it appears to me that the objects of our national policy have been fulfilled.And, then, as if he had in view the language of the noble Lord at the head of the Government and that of his colleague 1627 the Member for London, he proceeded to say—I wish to see a cessation of that inordinate and senseless desire which has been sometimes expressed of late, almost usurping the functions of Providence, that we should go to almost all parts of the world to redress wrong and to see that right is done.I say that the right hon. Gentleman no doubt had the language of his colleagues in view, and when he speaks he will no doubt admit that such was the case. For What did the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies say when he addressed the baillies and the enthusiastic citizens of Greenock? He said,—It is likewise to be considered, and I trust we shall none of us forget it, that this country holds an important position among the nations of the world—that not once, but many times, she has stood forward to resist oppression, to maintain the independence of weaker nations, to preserve to the general family of nations that freedom, that power of governing themselves, of which others have sought to deprive them. I trust that character will not be forgotten, will not be abandoned by a people which is now stronger in means, which is more populous and more wealthy than it ever has been at any former period. This, then, you will agree with me, is not the period to abandon any of those duties towards the world, towards the whole of mankind, which Great Britain has hitherto performed.Now let us see what the right hon. Gentleman said, after having accepted the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman made a speech, and it was just after the death of the late Emperor of Russia, and, in referring to the new Emperor, he said,—If, however, it should please this mighty Potentate to continue in the course of aggression upon which his father had entered, and if our reasonable hopes of a more pacific policy should be disappointed, then let him know that in England he will find a country prepared to maintain its own rights and the rights of other nations.Observe, "the rights of other nations," and he goes on,—A country which, although its army has been placed in a perilous position, and has had to undergo the rigours of a Russian winter, has its resources unimpaired, has its revenue flourishing, has its trade substantially undiminished, has its spirit unbroken, and will be prepared, in case of necessity, to vindicate its own honour, and to maintain the rights and liberties of Europe.I wish the House to observe what a complete change there is in the language of the right hon. Gentleman upon these two occasions. Either of the two opinions which he expressed may be right, but both of them cannot be so, and I confess that 1628 when I find that a Gentleman says one thing one day, and a month later, when he comes into office, the exact opposite, I do not think that I can be expected to have that confidence in him as to be willing to entrust him with the vast issues depending on the war. I will now refer to a colleague of the right hon. Gentleman—one who has also distinguished himself—I mean the First Lord of the Admiralty. That right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) has said nothing upon the subject of the war, and I have felt that he must entertain great doubts as to its policy; but, not very long ago, he also addressed his constituents, and indulged in very hostile and insulting language towards "our great and magnanimous ally;" but he, too, has changed his mind; and not long ago he went down by express train to Folkstone or Dover—I forget which—to meet in the most friendly and, probably, in the most humble manner, the very potentate whom he had formerly abused. If I hare disposed of these Gentlemen and shown why I can have no confidence in them, are there any better reasons why I should have confidence in those two noble Lords who were the active and restless spirits in the Cabinet which the noble Lord the Member for London overthrew? I regard those noble Lords as responsible for the policy of this war. I am bound to suppose that they acted in accordance with their conscientious convictions; but, still, the fact of their having embarked in that policy is no reason why I should have confidence in them. But, are those two noble Lords men in whom the House and country ought to place implicit confidence? What of late could be more remarkable than the caprices of the noble Lord the Member for London? When that noble Lord was in the Government of Lord Aberdeen he went to Greenock, I think to Bedford, and certainly to Bristol—and, in fact, he took every opportunity which offered itself of bringing himself before the public; and, with his power of speech, his long experience, and eminent character, did his utmost to stimulate the feelings of the people to a policy which I believe to be a destructive policy, and which I think the majority of this House in calm moments does not believe to have been the wisest which could have been pursued. It certainly appears to me to be unjustifiable that, while Lord Aberdeen was honestly endeavouring to bring the negotiations to a peaceful conclusion, the noble Lord was taking a course which rendered states- 1629 manship valueless in conducting the foreign policy of the nation. The noble Lord, however, at last brought his conduct to a climax. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) came forward as a little David with sling and stone, weapons which he did not even use, but at the sight of which the Whig Goliah went howling and vanquished to the back benches. I am afraid, Sir, to trust myself to speak of the conduct of the noble Lord on that occasion. I presume that we shall have to wait for the advent of that Somersetshire historian, whose coming the noble Lord expects, before we know whether his conduct on that occasion was, what some persons still call it, treachery to his chief, or whether it arose from that description of moral cowardice which in every man is the death of all true statesmanship. But in the year 1852 the noble Lord the Member for London gave me a strong reason why I should feel no confidence in his present chief. The House will remember that he then ejected the present Prime Minister under whom he serves from the Cabinet of which he himself was then the head, and in the explanation which he made to the House, he told us that men like Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne, men of age, of authority, and experience, had been able in some degree to control his noble Friend, but, that he being younger than the noble Lord, and having been a less long time on the political stage, had found it difficult to control him. The description which the noble Lord might give of his colleague is a little like that which we occasionally see given of a runaway horse—that he got the bit between his teeth, and there was no holding him. The noble Lord the Member for London was the captain of the State vessel, and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was the mate. But how is it now? The noble Lord the Member for the City of London has accepted the position of mate in the most perilous times, in the most tempestuous weather, and with no chart he goes to sea on a most dangerous and interminable voyage, and with the very reckless captain whom he would not trust as mate. Sir, the noble Lord the Member for London has made a defence of his conduct at the Conferences at Vienna. I am willing to give him credit that he did then honestly intend peace; but I do think that when he goes again, and on such a journey, he will do well to leave some of his historic knowledge behind him. They were indeed 1630 historic fancies. There is nothing to me so out of place as the comparison which the noble Lord made between the limitation of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea and the destruction of Dunkirk, or between the condition of the Black Sea and that of the lakes of North America. The noble Lord can never have heard of the falls of Niagara. If there were falls like them between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean the cases would be somewhat similar, for the Russian fleet in the Black Sea would not then be exposed to the assaults of the vast navies of England or France. Why, when I allude to this subject, I am reminded of that Welshman whom Shakspeare immortalised, who found some analogy between a river in Macedon and a river in Monmouth. He knew the name of the river in Monmouth, and he did not know the name of the river in Macedon, but he insisted upon the analogy between them because there were salmon in both. Well, Sir, I now come to the noble Lord at the head of the Government. I do not complain that he is at the head of the Government. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London had thrown everything into such inimitable and unlooked-for confusion that any one next door to him must necessarily occupy the place. But I cannot have confidence in the noble Viscount, because I cannot but recollect that in 1850 he received the condemnation of his foreign policy in the other House of Parliament; and in a speech which I shall never forget, the last, and one of the best ever delivered by the greatest statesman of the time, he received a similar condemnation, and the noble Viscount only escaped condemnation by a direct vote of this House by the energetic defence of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, and by the stress laid upon many Members on this side of the House. But only six weeks after this the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) presented to the noble Viscount a letter from his Sovereign, which I cannot but think must have cost him much pain, and to which I will not refer further, except to say that I do not know how it is possible, if the contents of that letter were true, that either the noble Lord or the House can be called upon to place implicit confidence in the noble Lord the leader of the Government. I have observed the noble Viscount's conduct ever since I had the honour of a seat in this House, and the noble Viscount will excuse me if I state the reason why I have often opposed him. 1631 The reason is, that the noble Viscount treats all these questions, and the House itself, with such a want of seriousness that it has appeared to me that he has no serious, or sufficiently serious, conviction of the important business that so constantly comes before this House. I judge the noble Viscount as a man who has experience, but who with experience has not gained wisdom—as a man who has age, but who, with age, has not the gravity of age, and who, now occupying the highest seat of power, has—and I say it with pain—not appeared affected with a due sense of the responsibility that belongs to that elevated position. We are now in the hands of these two noble Lords. They are the authors of the war. It lies between them that peace was not made at Vienna upon some proper terms. And whatever disasters may be in store for this country or for Europe they will lie at the doors of these noble Lords. Their influence in the Cabinet must be supreme; their influence in this House is necessarily great; and their influence with the country is greater than that of any two statesmen now upon the stage of political life in England. They have carried on the war. They have, however, not yet crippled Russia, although it is generally admitted that they have destroyed Turkey. They have not yet saved Europe in its independence and civilisation, they have only succeeded in convulsing it. They have not added to the honour and renown of England, but they have placed the honour and renown of this country in peril. The country has been, I am afraid, the sport of their ancient rivalry, and I should be very sorry if it should be the victim of the policy which they have so long advocated. There is only one other point upon which I will trouble the House, if it will give me its attention. These Ministers—the right hon. Member for Southwark, the Commissioner of the Board of Works, especially, and evidently the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I am afraid many other Members of this House, seem to think little of taxes. Some Members of this House seem to have no patience with me if I speak of the cost of the war; but I am obliged to ask its attention to this point. I recollect reading in the life of Necker, that an aristocratic lady came to him when he was Finance Minister of Louis XVI., and asked him to give her 1,000 crowns from the public treasury—not an unusual demand in those 1632 days. Necker refused to give the money. The lady started with astonishment—she had an eye to the vast funds of the State, and she asked, "What can 1,000 crowns be to the King? Necker's answer was, "Madam! 1,000 crowns are the taxes of a whole village!" I ask hon. Gentlemen what are the taxes of a whole village, and what they mean? They mean bareness of furniture, of clothing, and of the table in many a cottage in Lancashire, in Suffolk, and in Dorsetshire. They mean an absence of medical attendance for a sick wife, an absence of the school pence of three or four little children—hopeless toil to the father of a family, penury through his life, a cheerless old age, and, if I may quote the language of a poet of humble life, at last—"the little bell tolled hastily for the pauper's funeral." That is what taxes mean. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire spoke the other night in a manner rather flippant and hardly respectful of some of us on this question. But the labourers of Dorsetshire, as well as the weavers and spinners of Lancashire, are toiling and must toil harder, longer, and with smaller remuneration for every single 100l. that you extract in taxes from the people more than is necessary for the just requirements of the Exchequer of the country. I hope I may be permitted to treat the question on this ground, and I ask the House to recollect that when you strike down the children in the cottage you attack also the children in the palace. If you darken the lives and destroy the hopes of the humble dwellers of the country, you also darken the prospects of those children the offspring of your Queen, in whom are bound up so much of the interests and so much of the hopes of the people of this country. If I defend, therefore, the interests of the people on this point, I do not the less defend the permanence of the dignity of the Crown. We on this bench are not willing to place ourselves alongside of noble Lords who are for carrying on this war with no definite object and for an indefinite period, and are ready to take our chance of the verdict of posterity whether they or we more deserve the character of statesmen in the course we have taken on this question. The House must know that the people are misled and bewildered, and that if every man in this House, who doubts the policy that is being pursued, would boldly say so in this House and out of it, it would not be in the power of the press to mislead the people as it has done 1633 for the last twelve months. If they are thus misled and bewildered, is it not the duty of this House to speak with the voice of authority in this hour of peril? We are the depositories of the power and the guardians of the interests of a great nation and of an ancient monarchy. Why should we not fully measure our responsibility? Why should we not disregard the small-minded ambition that struggles for place? and why should we not, by a faithful, just, and earnest policy, as I believe we may, restore tranquillity to Europe and prosperity to the country so dear to us?
§ MR. F. SCOTT moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. BARROW
said, he wished to observe, if the debate were not adjourned, that he should go into the same lobby with the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), not because he agreed with him in all his opinions, but because he would not fetter future negotiators.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he felt that it would be difficult to resist the wish of the House for an adjournment of the debate if such a wish existed; but he really hoped, after the length to which the discussion had extended, that the House would seriously determine to come to a division to-morrow.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.