§ MR. EVELYN DENISON
said, he rose to propose that the thanks of the House be returned to Her Majesty for Her gracious communication to the House upon the subject of the Treaty of Peace concluded at Paris on the 30th of March last. He craved the indulgence of the House, of which he had great need, for the performance of this task. He would promise to compress what he had to say into a narrow compass, and he would endeavour to avoid all topics calculated to excite unnecessary difference, being anxious to conciliate for his Motion the largest possible amount of general accord and support. It was but two short years, however replete those years may have been with great events and deep anxieties—it was but two years since a communication was made from the Throne to that House, calling upon the House for its support on the out-break of the war. At that time, how dark and uncertain did the future appear! He would ask hon. Gentlemen to go back to the time when the first detachment of Guards sailed for Malta. How various, then, were the speculations of men! Some said, "You are going to engage in a war, of which the youngest man now living will, perhaps, not see the conclusion:" others said, "Are you going to desert your native element, and to 2038 engage in a contest on land with a nation that possesses 1,200,000 trained soldiers?" Others, again, were satisfied, "That the extent of our operations would be the establishment of an entrenched camp for the defence of Constantinople at the last extremity." If, at that period, some one had appeared amongst us, possessing a power of penetrating the secrets of futurity, and if that person had said, "No, that is not the destiny of your army; that army is destined, in conjunction with the army of France, not to establish an entrenched camp at Constantinople, but to throw itself boldly on the enemy's shores, to engage the redoubtable army of Russia in its chosen position, to fight two great battles, to gain two great victories, to beleaguer the stronghold of Sebastopol, and then, when all question of surprise was at an end, to engage the enemy in a desperate and protracted struggle; your army shall endure great sufferings, which shall only serve to exhibit in stronger relief its heroic endurance, and after a dreadful conflict, and not on the first assault, the devoted fortress shall fall; you shall capture 3,800 pieces of cannon—that great fleet which has so long been the terror of the East shall sink beneath the waves; in the North, the strong fortress of the Aland Islands shall fall into your hands; you shall sweep the northern seas; you shall carry terror to the walls of St. Petersburg; and, at length, after two years, a peace shall be concluded at Paris, by which all the great objects of the war shall be accomplished and ample security be taken for the future"—had, he said, at that time such a prediction been made, who would have given it credence? Who would not have said, "May it indeed be so, and God's name be praised." And now, when that, and more than that, has been accomplished, shall we regard that, which in the prospect appeared so precious, with indifference? Shall we undervalue the great exploits of our army and navy? Shall we be slow in expressing our thanks to the great Disposer of events? When he said that this, and more than this, had been accomplished, he did not speak of the success of the British fleet in the Sea of Azoff and the capture of the forts, showing how long was the arm and how far the reach of the British navy. He spoke rather of the moral and political results which had been achieved. They had broken the great alliance of the North—that alliance which held, not only the words, but the very 2039 thoughts of men in subjection through great part of Europe down to the heel of Italy. In the North they had shaken the hand of Russia from off the throat of Sweden. If Russia had been allowed, not only to establish herself on the Aland Islands, but to accomplish her darling object of establishing a harbour and erecting a fortress in the North Sea, Sweden would have been fixed in a vice, of which Russia held the screw, and the independence of Sweden was gone. What use had Sweden made of her restored animation? She had entered into a treaty with France and England, which had given a most effectual security against the further progress of Russia in that quarter. Among all that had been accomplished, none, in his opinion, was of greater importance or of more precious significance than this alliance between Sweden and the Western Powers. The late Emperor of Russia, the aggressor in this war, sunk under the anxieties and labours which he had brought upon himself; they had heard these remarkable words from his successor—that the public opinion of Europe had pronounced against them, and it was time to withdraw from the contest. New words, these, to be heard in the Halls of Moscow. New, indeed, this recognition of public opinion, and this concession to its power. It required no small amount of moral courage in an Emperor of Russia to give them utterance. They gave indications of moderation and of wisdom, which were good auguries for the happiness of his own subjects, and, considering the leading part which he was destined to play on the theatre of the world, they were good auguries for the happiness of mankind. He had said that the great objects of the war had been accomplished. Now what, he would ask, was the great object of the war? It was to secure the independence of Turkey and to take a pledge for the peace of Europe for the future. What was the great danger which menaced Turkey? It was the strong fortress of Sebastopol and the overwhelming fleet of Russia in the Black Sea. Sebastopol has fallen, not to be restored; the fleet has sunk beneath the waves, not to emerge from them again. The Black Sea has been neutralised; Turkey has been received under the common law of Europe; and the independence of Turkey has been guaranteed by the great Powers. All this had been effected by the exertions of the Allies. But the Sultan 2040 himself, of his own motion, had done an important act towards invigorating the resources of his own empire. He had put an end to all degrading distinctions among his subjects; he had granted equal laws to all denominations of his people; he had raised the Christians to that just position which they ought to hold. Those were great, important, and generous reforms; and any hon. Gentleman who had applied himself to the papers which were before the House could not fail to see how large a part in effecting those great reforms was due to the well-established influence of our Ambassador at Constantinople. Severe things had been said lately of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, but the House was generous and just, and would not close its eyes to the important services which Lord Stratford de Redcliffe had rendered to his country. There was another point of no small importance which it was necessary to refer to. It was contained in the twentieth Article of the treaty, and was called the rectification of the frontier between Turkey and Russia. He liked the word "rectification." It was not a very common word. It was a word which had the same signification in English and in French. It seemed to him to imply something more than to correct the line of demarcation, and to mark out a good road from one point to another. It appeared to him to contain in it something like an acknowledgment of redress—something like a moral and material compensation to Turkey. Such a word was rather a new word, employed in a treaty between Russia and Turkey, and, if it implied, what he was happy to acknowledge, wisdom and moderation on the part of the Emperor of Russia, it at the same time implied, in significant terms, what the strength had been, which had been engaged in this contest. These things had been accomplished by England and her Allies. First and foremost by France, next by Sardinia. Our alliance with France had been proved by severe trials, by some reverses and by great successes. He trusted that the close of the war had drawn the links of the alliance more closely and intimately between the two countries. France and England had at other times learnt each to know how great was the power of the other; they had learnt to respect each other. This was the first time in history that they had learnt to trust each other; and great results had flowed from this confidence—this confidence which was mainly due to the exact and scrupulous good faith 2041 with which the Emperor of the French had discharged every obligation which he had entered into with this country. He must be allowed to say one word with regard to Sardinia, a country not equal in extent of territory or in power of resources to either of those with which she was associated, but inferior to neither in heart or in spirit. She had shown herself worthy to stand by their side, both in the battle-field and at the council table. He congratulated the able statesman who presided over the affairs of Sardinia on the success of his policy. He rejoiced that the voice of Sardinia had been heard on the subject of Italy at the Conferences at Paris. They knew that Sardinia would countenance no excesses and no extravagance. Her voice would be for well-regulated liberty and constitutional government. If for a single moment he might venture, instead of speaking in his own humble name, to speak in the name of the House of Commons, he would say that England would never forget that it was at the moment of her sharpest trial, when other nations stood by and looked on, that Sardinia cast her lot into this struggle, and that Sardinia had earned for herself the firm good will and the lasting friendship of England. Speaking for himself, he could not hesitate to say that this peace was a good and an honourable peace. It was true it had not been received with any great exultation or enthusiasm by the country. The truth was that the country was so confident in her resources, that having made great exertions, and having brought her army and her navy to the point of perfection at which they now existed, and feeling herself more ready to carry on the war than at the moment when it commenced, the country was comparatively indifferent whether the war should be carried on or whether peace should be concluded. But if the noble Lord at the head of the Government rightly represented the feeling of the country last year, when he proposed to carry the war with vigour to a successful conclusion, he believed the noble Lord no less truly represented all that was rational and solid in the country in granting to it, at the earliest moment consistent with its honour, and the accomplishment of the objects in view, the inestimable blessing of peace. He believed the country would accept the peace with joy and satisfaction, and that that satisfaction would increase from day to day. He trusted the House would 2042 justly reflect the opinion of the country upon this point. He was very anxious to keep faith with the House, and he should be most unwilling to travel into collateral matters; but there was one point which he could not entirely pass over—he meant the point which referred to a question of what might be called arbitration, or the mediation of friendly Powers in cases of difference arising in future between nations. He regretted that one of the hon. Members for Manchester (Mr. Bright) and one of the hon. Members for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cobden) should not be present, and he still more deplored the causes of their absence. That particular clause of the treaty would, he was sure, receive their cordial approval and their warm support. It appeared to him, by giving time for angry passions to cool and for reflection to operate, to throw round peace an additional bulwark, and to set a new landmark in the progress of civilisation and humanity. Our thanks for this, as well as for many other objects accomplished by the treaty, were mainly due to the talents and perseverance of our chief Plenipotentiary, Lord Clarendon. Those qualities of the noble Lord had received a distinguished compliment before the assembled delegates of Europe in the Hall of the Tuileries, and he was sure that the House of Commons would not be slow to mark its sense of the services which Lord Clarendon had performed to his country. He would not enter upon other points connected with this treaty. He had already said he thought the peace a good and honourable peace. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, in carrying the war to a successful issue, had had his great reward. He believed that the people of England would receive from his hands with equal satisfaction the peace which was now offered to them, and in the confidence that the House would reflect the general sentiment, and cordially thanking them for the attention which they had bestowed upon him, he asked, not without confidence, their support to the Motion which he had the honour to propose.
§ MR. H. HERBERT
said, that in seconding the Address which had just been so ably moved by the hon. Member for Malton, he could assure the House that he deeply felt the necessity of asking their indulgence, as the only claim which he could put forward, was not that he was able to say anything worthy of the occasion, but that he was not in the habit of 2043 trespassing upon their attention for any length of time, He would endeavour to compress his observations into as small a compass as was consistent with the duty which he had undertaken. His hon. Friend (Mr. E. Denison) had said, that the peace recently concluded at Paris had not been received by this country with the enthusiasm with which peace had been received on former similar occasions. He quite agreed with him in that remark; but he believed that the want of anxiety for peace and the absence of enthusiasm when it was attained, did not spring from any well-founded belief that the terms were unfavourable or not satisfactory; there were a variety of causes which produced those feelings. In the first place, there was a general conviction throughout the country that if the war had continued, our army, which was now in a most admirable state of order and discipline, would have added largely to the laurels which it had already so abundantly gained. The people of this country also believed that, being released from the arduous and terrible duties of the siege, our army would have been able at last to meet the enemy in the open field, and thereby give more distinguishing proofs of its powers than had hitherto been possible. They likewise believed, that at the commencement of the war, we were unprovided with the specific means of attack which the peculiar nature of the naval warfare required. They also believed, that if the war had continued, a very different result would have occurred in the ensuing campaign. Those were the main causes, in his opinion, of the want of enthusiasm, but he would submit to hon. Members that when such was the temper of the nation, it was the duty of the Government and all who regulated public affairs most scrupulously to ascertain how far the necessity still existed for continuing a war, upon which we had been forced to enter. He confessed, that when he read the accounts of the state of the army in the East, and when he saw on a recent occasion that magnificent armament which the energy and foresight of Her Majesty's Government had prepared to carry on the struggle, he could not get rid of a feeling of regret, that in a future campaign opportunity should not be afforded to show to the world what the fully developed resources and the fully aroused spirit of England could achieve. He, therefore, submitted, that that was exactly the frame of mind when the discipline of self-examination 2044 should be applied, and they should most seriously consider whether the objects of the war had been attained. At the moment when they were inclined to something like arrogant self-confidence, they should remember the chances of war, that "the race was not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong," and beware lest, by continuing the strife when peace was possible, they might forfeit the support of that great Being by whom they had been enabled to bring the contest to a successful termination. To enable them to consider the subject, they must go back to the years which preceded the commencement of the war. Partly by treaties which gave rise to indefinite claims, partly by constant interference, Russia had obtained such an ascendancy over Turkey, that it became manifest that at some period or other the complicated web which was wound round Turkey must be cut by the swords of the Western Powers, unless they were prepared to see the Ottoman territory absorbed bit by bit by her gigantic neighbour, and that glorious capital, Constantinople, fall under a Power which would have given her a preponderance that would have rendered the independence of the west of Europe impossible. Things, however, were brought to a crisis by an aggression on the part of Russia. War ensued, which was commenced by the allied Governments, with a declaration that they sought no new territorial aggrandisement for themselves. The great object of the war was stated to be the defence of the integrity of Turkey. It was impossible for any man to say that that object, at all events, had not been attained. The events of the war had now become matter of history. It was stated on a recent occasion by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that there were three modes in which Russia might attack Turkey, Upon all those points the enemy had been driven back. The heroic gallantry of the Turks, assisted by some of our own countrymen, at the siege of Silistria, drove the enemy back from the Danube. The gallantry of our army, with the assistance of our Allies, carried Sebastopol, and stayed Russian aggression in the Black Sea. And the gallantry of General Williams and our other fellow-countrymen at Kars had arrested the march of the Russian troops in Asia Minor, concerning which such great apprehensions had been entertained. He believed that those apprehensions were exaggerated, He did 2045 not think it to be so easy as some imagined for Russia to menace Constantinople from that quarter. No Russian General in his senses would advance by that line to Constantinople so long as an enemy had possession of the sea. But had it not been for the gallant defence of Kars by General Williams, Russia would have extended her conquests in Asia Minor, and would have been enabled to set up a claim in consequence for better terms at Paris. The gallantry and fortitude of General Williams had been alluded to the other night in the debate on the fall of Kars; but he thought hon. Members had underrated the enormous advantages derived from protracting the defence of that fortress, which rendered it impossible for the Russian armies to spread over a larger field in Asia Minor. Having provided for the present defence of Turkey, it became important that the system of aggression which had been pursued by Russia should no longer be allowed to exist. And on this part of the subject the Allies had been fully as successful as in the other. He did not propose to discuss what political objects in Europe might be necessary at the present time. He did not wish to allude to those political changes which many hon. Members might wish to see. He could not say that the political state of many countries in Europe was not exceedingly unsatisfactory, but the rectification of those evils did not form part of the object of the late war. It might be desirable, and he for one most heartily wished, that a different state of things should exist in Italy. It might also be desirable that the kingdom of Poland should again exist, and he for one should be glad to see that ancient kingdom restored. But he did not think that any hon. Gentleman had a fair ground for saying that a peace was not satisfactory because it did not provide for those changes, when the main design with which we had commenced the war and formed an alliance with other countries did not comprise these objects. Some might ask how the safety of Turkey was provided for by this treaty? Turkey was now admitted into the European system, and her integrity and her independence was guaranteed by the whole of Europe, as far as any political objects could be guaranteed or secured. It would now be just as impossible for Russia to interfere with or to attack Turkey, as for any powerful state of Europe to attack a weaker neighbour. That protectorate over the Christians 2046 in Turkey which had enabled Russia to interfere in the internal concerns of Turkey had ceased. The Black Sea was neutralized and that splendid fleet which had carried terror to Constantinople a few months ago was now beneath the waves, and the Emperor of Russia was bound never more to rebuild it. The arrangements relative to the Black Sea, which formed the subject of a convention between Russia and Turkey, were eminently satisfactory. It was impossible to say that for the suppression of piracy and the enforcement of Customs' regulations, Russia ought not to have some vessels of war in the Black Sea. But these vessels were to be limited to ten of a certain size, and Turkey was to have the same number, so that there would be an equality of force between the two Powers. Then, England, France, Austria, and Sardinia were empowered to station two small vessels of war at the mouth of the Danube, so that on any sudden emergency occurring there would be eighteen vessels of the allied Powers in the Black Sea for ten of Russia. Then, again, the Emperor of Russia had also agreed not to establish or maintain any military-maritime arsenals in the Black Sea, the principal of which we had destroyed. [Ironical cries of "Hear, hear!"] He did not say anything as to fortifications, but he referred only to naval and military arsenals. There was a declaration in one of the protocols with reference to one of these arsenals which did not lie in the Black Sea—he alluded to Nicholaieff, and which the relative position of the Allies and the enemy scarcely gave us, a claim to interfere with, without trying the result of another campaign. The Plenipotentiary of Russia remarked upon the maintenance of Nicholaieff:—The Emperor, his august master, on acceding with sincerity to the propositions of peace firmly resolved, strictly to carry out all the engagements resulting from them; but that Nicholaieff, being situated far from the shore of the Black Sea, respect for her dignity would not permit Russia to allow a principle solely applicable to the coast to be extended to the interior of the empire.He thought that a very reasonable and unanswerable argument in the relative state of the armies of the belligerent Powers. But the Plenipotentiary of Russia added—The security of and watching over the coasts required, moreover, that Russia should have, as had been admitted, a certain number of light vessels in the Black Sea, and that if she consented to give up the ship-building yards of Nicholaieff, she would be compelled to establish others in some 2047 other point of her southern possessions; that, in order at once to provide for his engagements and for the requirements of the naval service, the Emperor intends only to authorise the construction at Nicholaieff of the vessels of war mentioned in the basis of the negotiation.The First Plenipotentiary of Great Britain, and, after him, the other Plenipotentiaries, considered that declaration satisfactory. The Earl of Clarendon then inquired of the first Plenipotentiary of Russia whether he would agree to the insertion of this declaration in the protocol. After having replied in the affirmative, Count Orloff added,That, in order to prove the sincerity of his intentions the Emperor had entrusted him to demand a free passage through the Straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles for the two ships of the line which alone are now at Nicholaieff, and which would have to proceed to the Baltic as soon as peace was concluded.So far as a guarantee could be given, he thought we had security that for the future those engagements would be carried out. The freedom of the Danube was secured. An important point had been conceded by the rectification of the frontier at the mouth of the Danube. The House, however, would form a very inadequate idea of the importance of that concession if they measured it by the actual area of the territory which had been yielded. The line that had been drawn clearly excluded Russia, not only from all concern in the mouths of the Danube but also to a very considerable extent up the river Pruth; indeed, they were excluded from all that part which being accessible to gunboats, would have left the Russians a secure place of refuge for a force that had been used with great effect during the Danubian campaign. As a further proof of the importance of that cession he need only remind the House of the celebrated siege of Ismail, and of the words addressed by Prince Potemkin to General Suwaroff seventy years ago, "Vous prendrez Ismail; mais à quel prix?" A phrase which sufficiently showed the sense entertained by Russia of the importance of what was involved in the concession and which would be a strong barrier against future agression. The agreement which Russia had entered into with regard to Bomarsund it was unnecessary for him to dwell upon; but he ventured to submit that the agreements which had been come to and the guarantees which had been given had fully and fairly accomplished the objects of the war—that they secured, as far as treaties could secure, that those interferences 2048 on the part of Russia of which we had had so much reason to complain should not be repeated; and when he reflected upon the terms of peace which a short time ago many persons thought would have been admissible, and at the result which had now been obtained through the firmness and energy of the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown and his colleagues, he considered that the Government were entitled to the gratitude of the country. The noble Lord at the head of the Government might fairly claim the glory of having taken the helm at a time of enormous difficulties and discouragements, and of having brought the country through an arduous struggle to a satisfactory and triumphant issue. In conclusion, he would only glance for a moment at the attitude in which this country now stood. It might be true that the country accepted peace not with any great enthusiasm, and that she was as ready for war as for peace. She had, indeed, no occasion for enthusiasm, for she had not been relieved from any pressing danger near her own shores, but she had been engaged in a distant contest in which she had fully succeeded. She had carried that contest through—more especially the latter portion of it—with unexampled vigour, and she would be ready to continue that contest if it were necessary with increased strength and animation. Our alliance with France had been cemented; and England was now prepared to resume the pursuits of peace without any animosity to those who had been recently her antagonists. She could well afford to admire the bravery of those Russian soldiers who had opposed her with so much ability and courage, though they had never been able to defeat her in the open field. She could admire the courage and tenacity with which they had clung to that fortress the custody of which had been committed to their care; and she could admire not less the generosity than the determination of that man who had achieved an important triumph in Asia. He hoped that the House would be unanimous in agreeing to the Address which had been, proposed by his hon. Friend, and that they would more especially respond to the words in the concluding paragraph:—That the peace which has now been concluded may, under the favour of Divine Providence long continue to shed its blessings over Europe; and that harmony among Governments and friendly intercourse among nations may steadily promote the progress of civilisation and secure the welfare and happiness of mankind.2049 Motion made, and Question proposed—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to return to Her Majesty the sincere acknowledgments and thanks of this House for the important communication which Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to make to this House of the General Treaty concluded at Paris on the 30th day of March, between Her Majesty, the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of the French, the King of Prussia, the Emperor of Russia, the King of Sardinia, and the Sultan, by which Peace has been established between Her Majesty, the Emperor of the French, the King of Sardinia, and the Sultan, on the one hand, and the Emperor of Russia on the other.To assure Her Majesty, that, while we should have deemed it our duty cheerfully to afford Her Majesty our firm support if it had unfortunately been found necessary to continue the War, we have learned with joy and satisfaction that Her Majesty has been enabled to re-establish Peace, on conditions honourable to Her Majesty's Crown, and which fully accomplished the great objects for which the War was undertaken.To express to Her Majesty the great satisfaction which we feel, at finding that while those Alliances which have so mainly contributed to the vigorous and successful prosecution of the War, have been equally effective in the consolidation of Peace, Powers which have not taken an active part in the War, have combined with the belligerents to give additional firmness to the arrangements by which the repose of Europe is in future to be protected from disturbance.To state to Her Majesty that we rejoice that, notwithstanding the great exertions which the late War has rendered necessary, the Resources of the Empire remain unimpaired.To express our hope that the Peace which has now been concluded, may, under the favour of Divine Providence, long continue to shed its blessings over Europe; and that harmony among Governments and friendly intercourse among Nations may steadily promote the progress of civilisation, and secure the welfare and happiness of mankind.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
Sir, I rise, not to oppose the reception of this Address, but to state some exceptions, and strong ones, to the terms contained in it. I must apologise for not having given notice of my intention to do so; but the Government, in their anxiety to get the Address agreed to as speedily as possible, allowed no opportunity to any independent Member of knowing its terms until Saturday, so that it was impossible to give any notice of objecting to it. Sir, I object to certain words in the second paragraph of the Address, in which we are asked to assure Her Majesty "that we have learned, with joy and satisfaction, that Her Majesty has been enabled to re-establish Peace on conditions honourable to Her Majesty's Crown, and which fully accomplish the great objects for which the war was undertaken." Now, Sir, it strikes me that the hon. Gentleman 2050 opposite (Mr. E. Denison), who of course, I must assume, is responsible for the wording of the Address, must have fancied that he was sitting in the capital of our great and gallant Ally, and was deputed to draw up an Address which should faithfully represent the feelings of the French people, and would be gratifying to the distinguished man who now sits on the throne of France. Sir, I object to the words I have read, because I do not believe that they represent either the facts of the case or the sentiments of the English people on the conclusion of the war The mover and seconder of the Address have both very fairly stated the great object for which the war had been undertaken, and they have claimed credit for the Government upon the assumption that the peace accomplished the objects of the war. Now, those objects were the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire at present, and the security of that integrity and independence for the future. As to the first of those objects, I believe it has been obtained; and I should cordially join in the expression of the satisfaction of the House at that result. But with respect to the second, which was by far the most important of those objects, the security of the integrity and independence of the Turkish empire for the future, I take leave to say that in one most important point the treaty does not accomplish that great and all-important object. And in discussing that point I shall have to consider the question whether the honour of the Crown has or has not been satisfied by this treaty. Sir, the question divides itself into two parts, the integrity and independence of the Turkish empire in Europe as well as in Asia. I ventured on the first night of the Session to express an opinion that when we came to consider any treaty that might be concluded, it was more than probable that we should find that the second part of the subject was not satisfactorily settled. And now I proceed to ask the House whether by this peace we have fully secured the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire in Asia? Be it never forgotten that (in the words of Mr. Oliphant) that integrity and independence have been as often and as dangerously imperilled on the Araxes as on the Danube. Let me now examine, then, what securities have been taken or attempted to be taken against the aggression of Russia on the Asiatic dominions of Turkey. It is remarkable that in the 2051 speeches of the mover and seconder of the Address—although they went through every point of the treaty which could at all bear speaking of, they sedulously abstained from mentioning Asia—if I except that passage in the speech of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion in which he depreciated—unwisely and unjustly, as I think—the importance of the last Asiatic campaign. With that solitary exception no allusion was made to this most important part of the subject. Now, Sir, is the House prepared to say that in settling this great question no guarantees should have been taken with respect to the Asiatic provinces of the Turkish Empire? If it is maintained that our sole object was to raise up an effectual barrier in Europe against Russian aggression, I admit that object has been fully attained. But I believe that in Europe is not to be found the real danger to the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire. Refer to history—of no remote date—not beyond the memory of many who are living. Let hon. Members recur to the state of affairs in 1828–29. With what force did Russia then commence her advance upon the banks of the Danube; and what was the condition of Turkey? The battle of Navarino had been fought. The Turkish navy was destroyed, and the finances of the country were seriously impaired by a protracted and an exhausting war with Greece. Russia seized that opportunity, and then Diebietsch commenced a campaign on the Pruth at the head of 158,000 men. Successes were of course obtained at first. But at the end of that campaign what was the condition of Russia? She found herself upon the banks of the Danube, and out of that vast armament not more than 80,000 men remained. She resumed the field in 1829, her army having been largely reinforced, and with 150,000 men they marched even to Adrianople. But what was the state of the Russian army at that time? It has been stated differently, some have put its force as low as 7,000 men. But no one can deny that at the moment of victory Diebietsch was only saved from certain destruction by the intervention of the great Powers of Europe. Is that doubted? Lord Ponsonby has said, in my hearing, that he had it from the chief of the staff of General Diebietsch, that the news of the acceptance of terms of peace found him praying to the Almighty for rescue from certain destruction. And from what quarter was it about to overtake the 2052 remnant of that mighty host? From an obscure Turkish Pasha, whose name no one then knew, and which no one has heard since, who came up at the head of 25,000 Turkish troops, ready to capture or destroy the remains of the Russian army. That was the end of the second campaign in the Principalities, undertaken under such circumstances and carried on with every advantage. Let us now look to the events which have recently occurred, and which show that the real danger to the integrity and independence of Turkey lies not in Europe, but, as I have previously asserted, in Asia. In 1854, before the tardy succours of the Allies arrived, the gallant Turkish army had repelled in more than one battle the whole available force of the Russian army; and for the first time in its annals there was a movement on the part of Austria. That significant motion told the astute and wily statesmen of Russia that they must not expect that Austria would permit Turkey to be invaded through her European frontier. Look at all these facts put together, that out of three campaigns undertaken by Russia, all were unsuccessful as to the object with which they were undertaken. Look at the position assumed by Austria—see the effective state into which the Turkish armies have been brought by the genius of one man whom it is the fashion of some hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial benches to sneer at—I mean Omar Pasha; and tell me if, with this new element of successful resistance to Russian aggression in Europe, it is likely that her astute statesmen would again venture to attack Turkey on the side of her European frontier? But now for a moment let us reverse the picture. Let us look at the success with which Russia has invaded the Asiatic dominions of Turkey. In 1828 how many men were available for the invasion of Asia and the siege of Kars? Only 20,000 men, and of them Prince Paskiewitsch never could muster more than 12,000 or 14,000 round his standards; yet with that force in 1828 he reduced in less than a month that strong fortress of Kars, against which the great Persian conqueror had a century before directed his vast hosts in vain, and which from that time had been deemed throughout the East impregnable. With 12,000 men, however, in less than a month, Paskiewitsch captured Kars. Fortress after fortress fell before his arms, and so closed the campaign of 1823. In 1829 Prince Paskiewitsch advanced again in Asia. 2053 Erzeroum surrendered; Batoum soon fell; and in a few months a force of 15,000 men had effected what ten times that number had essayed in vain upon the banks of the Danube. Now the importance of the Asiatic dominions of Turkey, I maintain, is altogether overlooked in the treaty. Sir, can this House be asked to affirm that the objects of the war have been fully achieved when only one poor pitiable attempt was made at the Conference to procure some guarantee and raise up some barrier against Russian aggression in Asia. A most unaccountable delusion appears to have prevailed upon this subject, which I will endeavour to dissipate. I repeat that the only allusion at the Conferences in Paris to the Asiatic dominions of Turkey, is to be found in the poor and miserable attempt of Lord Clarendon to prevent the re-erection of the Russian forts upon the Eastern coast of the Black Sea. We are now assured, however, by the noble Lord, that Russia is at perfect liberty to re-erect these forts. And with what object, I ask the House, would she re-erect them? Why, for the purpose of conquering, and perhaps exterminating, the gallant Circassians and the other tribes who inhabit the mountains of the Caucasus. Who are these people, and what have been the relations of England with respect to them? They are a people who, in the language of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside), in his magnificent oration a few nights since did that in 1854, which you (the Government) failed digracefully to do for yourselves in 1855.They raised the siege of Kars in 1854; they are the people whom you took every pains to excite to hostility against Russia, and, having succeeded in so doing, basely abandoned. Gracious Heaven! if these things can be done in the hour of victory, what baseness would not have marked your conduct in a moment of disaster? When the war broke out we entered into friendly relations with the Circassian chiefs. We induced them, in order to satisfy our most proper and laudable prejudices, to a band on a traffic hateful and horrible to ourselves, but lucrative to them. We then sent an accredited diplomatic agent, Mr. Longworth, to them, to arrange a plan of campaign, and, of course, we proposed to protect them. Were these people to be told that they could rely on the honour and might of England, but at last to be sacrificed at the shrine of expediency by Her Majesty's Ministers? and who was Mr. Longworth? 2054 He was, by his past history and by his zealous efforts in her favour, to Circassia what the late Lord Dudley Stuart was to Poland. He was sent on his delicate errand with all the pomp and ceremony calculated to impress on the minds of the Circassian chiefs the importance of his mission. He went out in a man of war, commanded, if I mistake not, by Sir Edmund Lyons; was accompanied by a suite of attachés, and he remained at his post during the whole of the war. Sir, Her Majesty's Government could afford to do for the Circassians that which they declined to do for our fellow-countrymen shut up in the beleagured city of Kars. Arms, money, and ammunition were sent to the Circassians, But when all this had been done, and the faith of England pledged, what effort has been made to save this unfortunate but gallant people in the Conferences at Paris? The Government may set up two lines of defence, and only two. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) may either say that the Government when the war broke out regarded the Circassians as independent of Russia, or that he regarded them as dependent, and therefore as insurgents against the rule of their lawful Sovereign. But, Sir, what do we find as one of the earliest consequences of the past conduct on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers? Why, on the 30th of April, from Vienna, was despatched the following announcement:—Advices from Constantinople of the 24th of April have been received here. A deputation had arrived there from Cireassia, to request the recognition and the guarantee of the independence of that country by the Porte, England, and France.Now, what answer had Her Majesty's Government given, or what answer were they prepared to give to this demand on the part of the Circassians? The only answer contained in the protocols is, that Russia shall be at liberty to rebuild the fortresses on the Circassian coast, and exterminate the people, if she be so minded. Sir, my position is that, up to the present moment, neither England nor Europe has ever recognised by any State paper the right of Russia to Circassia. But one of the first proofs that we have of the satisfactory and honourable conclusion of this most "successful war" is to give the sanction of European law to Russia for the acquisition of all these important territories. I am willing to make this admission to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, 2055 that by the Treaty of Adrianople Russia undoubtedly set up her claim, not only to Circassia, but to a great many other countries; to more indeed than she very wisely chose to specify. The fourth article of that treaty was in the following terms—Georgia, Imeritia, Mingrelia, Gouriel, and many other provinces of the Caucasus, being united for many years and for ever to the empire of Russia, and that empire having, further by the treaty concluded with Persia at Tourkmantchai, on the 10th of February, 1828, acquired the Khanats of Erivan and of Naktchivan, the two high contracting Powers have recognised the necessity of establishing between their respective States, along the whole of that line, a frontier well determined, and likely to prevent all future discussion.That was a treaty which affected Turkey and Russia alone, but neither England nor any other European Power sanctioned this vast and indeterminate power on the part of Russia with regard to these provinces. [Mr. LAYARD: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member for Aylesbury cheers, and fortifies me in that opinion. In 1839 Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, speaking on the subject of this treaty, said—Mutual explanations took place, and he believed he was justified in saying that any candid mind brought to the consideration of the case must come to the conclusion that, in point of honour, Russia was restrained from availing herself of her successes over the Turkish empire to increase her territory to the smallest extent; but when the acquisition extended to not less than 250 miles of a line of coast, with an average depth of 100 miles, including not only Circassia, but the whole of the mountainous range of the Caucasus, it was impossible not be astonished at the claims which were now advanced.Advanced, but not conceded then. It remained for the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) in this magnificent treaty of peace, to make the concession to Russia of these all-important territories for the future vindication of the future integrity and independence of the Turkish empire. But, Sir, I ask the noble Lord whether he regards Circassia independent of Russia or not? It is said that there is a map in existence marked by the noble Lord, on which many of these places are marked as independent. At all events we have the authority of the late Sir Robert Peel, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, and the Earl of Derby for saying that these territories were independent. Now, Sir, I ask are we in the very first moment of success to make them dependent? If we are to make them dependent, I cannot find words to express my sense of 2056 the baseness of England under such a contingency. You supplied the Circassians with arms; you arranged the campaign in concert with them; you spared neither arms nor ammunition in order that they might act vigorously against the common foe; and after so treating them—after they had saved for you a fortress which you could not save for yourselves—you throw them away like the sucked orange for which you have no further use, and allow Russia to proceed with her schemes of final conquest in Asia. To put a parallel case, what would have been said if we had so worked on the feelings of the Poles? Supposing that when the war broke out, we had received adeputation of Poles from Warsaw, arranged a plan of action for them, that we had sent out the late Lord Dudley Stuart as our representative in Poland, and that at the end of the war, after having destroyed the Russian fortresses on the Polish frontier, of which we used to hear so much from the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell)—all we should attempt to do for the Poles, after rousing them to successful rebellion, should be to make a feeble and, as I believe, an unreal attempt to prevent the reconstruction of those fortresses—what, I ask, would then be thought of us? But, if such is the case in point of honour, what is it in point of policy? Is it, as stated by the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address, that the Asiatic question and Asiatic campaign were of secondary importance? That I believe is not the opinion of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), who the other night laid great stress upon the silence of the noble Lord at the head of the Government upon that point. Without relying too much upon the opinions of others, I must say I have considerable support for my views in the statements of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, and some wise, and, no doubt, discreet observations made by hon. Gentlemen who either sit on or immediately behind the Treasury benches. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, on a previous evening, that the fall of Kars had nothing to do with the terms of peace, that it was an insignificant affair, and that everything had been agreed upon at Vienna before the fall of Kars was made known. I should like to know if the right hon. Gentleman has ever studied a valuable book written by one of his colleagues, the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. D. Seymour). In his work 2057 on the Black Sea that hon. Gentleman said—When peace shall be made, it will be most fortuate should we be able to secure the freedom of the eastern coast of the Black Sea by treaty, for the independence of that country would form one of the best securities against Russian aggression. At the Caucasus, Russia may be said to end, and a new class of nationalities to begin.Hon. Gentlemen who have so long sympathised with oppressed nationalities, might surely find some enthusiasm in favour of the oppressed nationality of Circassia:—And she can only desire to possess that mountain range with the intention of extending her conquests beyond it. The Caucasus—that is, the mountain range itself and the countries that lie at the foot of them, to the north and south—are the most convenient entrance to the heart of the great tableland of Asia, which, when once thoroughly subdued, might constitute an impregnable citadel whence Russia would be enabled to extend her influence and dominion in every direction. The Caucasus is the real citadel of Russian power in the south and east, although as yet beleaguered by the nations from which it has been partially wrested. Russia has surrounded it by an army of 170,000 men, and carefully keeps its inhabitants from communication with civilised Europe. We have never acknowledged the sovereignty of the Russians over this territory.—[Can we say so after this debate?]—nor over the Christian provinces to the south of the Caucasus. If her blockade were permanently removed from the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the brave inhabitants of the mountains allowed to carry on a liberal commerce with Europe, their energies would be quickly turned from war to peaceful arts.The hon. Gentleman subsequently went on to say—The coast of Circassia is now free, and all that is required is, that it should be kept so without being again subjected to a barbarous blockade. If a consul were placed there and merchants encouraged to frequent it, its gallant inhabitants would soon yield to the civilising influences of Europe and engage themselves in developing its boundless resources. We may rest satisfied that the freedom of the Caucasus will form an important element towards the diminution of Russian influence in the East.These were wise and weighty words, coming as they did from a subordinate Member of the Government, and I think it would have been well if we had seen some of that wisdom and foresight manifested in the conduct or even in the language of Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary in Paris. But if Lord Clarendon and the noble Lord at the head of the Government failed to uphold the language, or were disinclined to adopt the enlightened views of one of their subordinates, I find support in another quarter, which I am given to understand 2058 is not entirely unconnected with the Treasury bench. In one of the organs of public opinion, I find an article upon the terms upon which peace might have been made, and of which I will read a paragraph, and then ask whether hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury bench have ever heard of it before:—An agreement on the part of Russia to keep no more ships in the Black Sea, to abstain from any future interference with Turkey, and to open the navigation of the Danube, would not be worth a single sixpence or a single life. It is precisely on this account that we insist upon the capture of Sebastopol, the retention of the Crimea, the recovery and restitution of the mouths of the great Great German river, and the expulsion of the Russians from their possessions south of Caucasus; for these would not be parchment promises, but 'great facts'—not engagements which Russia might violate at pleasure, but actual losses which would tie her hands and paralyse her power of mischief.Sir, that paragraph is from an article in the Economist newspaper. I did hope that the writer of that article, fully impressed with the importance of the subject which he had taken in hand would follow it up. I was not deceived; another article appeared on January 26th even more forcible, if possible, on the point. The writer said:—But the fact still remains, notwithstanding these natural reflections, that the retention of those provinces by Russia is incompatible with any feeling of security or permanence. From these she at once overawes Persia and menaces Turkey. From the fastnesses, natural and artificial, with which they abound, her armies can at any moment issue forth to ravage Asia Minor and assault Constantinople. The capital of Turkey can be as speedily and probably more easily reached from Tiflis and Gumri than from the frontiers of Moldavia or Bessarabia. … Russia needs and desires the Transcaucasian provinces solely for purposes of encroachment and extension, and as long as she retains them the temptation to use them will be irresistible.Such, Sir, is the opinion of the gentleman, be he who he may, who aspired to be the guide of public opinion in that valuable organ on this subject. It was clear, too, from the statement of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, that he was not one who attached any small importance to the handing over of the Transcaucasian provinces to Russia, for having shown in a late memorable debate that Ministers were mainly responsible for the loss of Kars, he pardoned that error in consideration of their having secured the non re-erection of the Russian forts on the Black Sea. No Member of the Government had given any explicit statement 2059 on the subject until Friday night, when the noble Lord at the head of the Government spoke, and stated that Russia was at liberty under this famous treaty, which is to secure the independence of Turkish power, to re-erect every one of those fortresses. Well, but what do we see in another most influential organ of public opinion of this morning, after the declaration of the noble Lord, that those forts might be rebuilt? What is the language of that organ of public opinion which at present, at any rate, undertakes to defend the policy of Her Majesty's Government? I find in an article in which the writer sums up the results of this treaty, of which the country, it is said, ought to be so proud, but concerning which, according to the mover and seconder of this Address, they take very good care to hide their enthusiasm. I find it stated in this summary—The fortifications on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, constructed with so much labour and expense, are to remain dismantled; and even Kars, bought at the price of so much blood and so much suffering—the solitary trophy which Russia can show, is given back to Turkey.[Viscount PALMERSTON: So it is.] Let us be thankful, then, for even the smallest favours. What I have read, Sir, is the language of the apologist of the noble Lord as to the rendering back of the fortress of Kars. This morning organ, which it is vain to deny is the mainstay of Her Majesty's Government, comes to this conclusion, which is important to a clear understanding of the case. It says:—Less would not have satisfied our honour; more might have endangered the permanance, stability, and tranquillity of Europe.But the country has less; and therefore, according to the panegyrist of the noble Lord, the honour of England is not satisfied. Now, Sir, I ask the noble Lord are the Circassian fortresses to be dismantled or not? Is the whole Transcaucasian coast to be placed under a powerful and ruthless invader or not? It has been stated that great gains have been obtained by this treaty; but in my mind there has been no gain, but on the contrary a loss, and if so, even according to The Times, the country ought not to be satisfied. I cannot, therefore, consent to the terms of the Address, in assuring the Crown that by this treaty this country has accomplished all the great objects of the war. Can any one doubt that these forts in the provinces of the Caucasus will be rebuilt? 2060 Is it not plain that the sole object of Russia is the subjugation of those provinces—provinces extending along 250 miles of coast, and reaching 150 miles inland; inhabited by a gallant and loyal people, rich in internal resources, and which are of the greatest importance to the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire? Why, Sir, before the ink has dried with which this belauded treaty was signed we find statements as to the new footing upon which the Transcaucasian army is to be put. At St. Petersburg they are already beginning to talk of warlike expeditions. The Times correspondent at Berlin, under the date of April 28, writes thus:—In St. Petersburg they are already beginning to talk of warlike expeditions to be undertaken in the summer; a portion of the Caucasian army, under the command of General Khruleff, is to operate towards the Tschetsehnaia, while other troops that will by that time have been set free from the Crimea are to act against the Abchasen(?). It appears that, carefully as all news of the facts have been Kept from the knowledge of the Western press, these mountain tribes had availed themselves of the Russians being perfectly occupied with their more imposing foes to harass them in a variety of ways, and to encounter them in a variety of skirmishes, not always without success. The first use their implacable neighbour the Muscovite intends to make of the leisure the present peace has procured him is to subdue and subjugate these tribes, and then to rebuild the frontier fortresses for the purpose of perpetuating that subjugation. The supplies that are to be contracted for to be delivered this year sound enormous: the infantry require 2,223,000 pairs of boots; 168,000 ells of regimental cloth are to be forwarded from Tamboff to Astrachan by water; 200,000 ells from Tamboff to Moscow; 590,000 ells from Simbirsk to St. Petersburg; 415,000 ells from Kasan to St. Petersburg; and 300,000 ells from Kasan to Moscow. The new organisation of the military force is going on rapidly; the Caucasian army has been strengthened by two fresh regiments of infantry, to be called 'Crimea' and 'Sebastopol;' and two regiments of Dragoons, 'Seversk' and 'Péréiaslaff." The Guards have got an addition of two new battalions of Rifles.Now, Sir, all this takes place before the treaty is discussed—all this is announced as taking place in St. Petersburg, and we are now informed by the noble Lord that Europe consents to the re-erection of these fortresses in the Black Sea. Sir, I have shown you how intimately the honour of the Crown of England and of this country is impugned by these disgraceful terms of capitulation. I have endeavoured to show you the gross impolicy of handing over these Provinces to Russia. Already by our unwise conduct of the war in Asia, we have raised the military supremacy of 2061 Russia from the Caucasus to the Hindoo Koosh. And now we are about to tell the tribes of Circassia that they are to have no faith in the honour of England, and that, unable to strengthen the hands or animate the hearts of our Plenipotentiaries, tribes whom we have excited to action in time of war we are prepared to abandon in a time of peace. I will turn at once to the sole paragraph in the protocols that bears any reference to the question, and I will entreat the attention of the House to the remarkable, though brief, discussion that is there reported. But first let me express my regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not present to hear the allusions which I am forced to make in reference to the right hon. Gentleman's observations as to the fall of Kars. Well, at the sitting of March the 1st,—Count Walewski states that, as the second separate condition, the Allied Powers require that the state of the territories situated to the east of the Black Sea should be specially inquired into.Baron Brunow explains the diplomatic transactions which have placed Russia in possession of those territories, and their present situation.Now, of course, they could not know what was the explanation given of these diplomatic transactions, but I am curious to know whether the representative of Her Majesty assented to the whole of the explanation given by Baron Brunow. I very much wish to know if Russia based her explanations upon the treaty of 1843 or the treaty of 1829, and maintained that the whole of those provinces belonged of right to Russia. Upon this point there is no reply whatever from Lord Clarendon. After, however, a little further amiable discussion, Count Walewski goes on to observe that Russia has erected forts on the eastern coasts of the Black Sea, which she had herself in part blown up.Count Walewski observes that Russia had erected forts on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, which she had herself in part blown up, and that it will be necessary to come to an understanding in this respect.Then came the solitary observation of the Earl of Clarendon, the only proof throughout the whole of the protocols that Asia was ever present to his mind, or that the gallant people whom the Government of which he was a Member had incited to war against their powerful and implacable neighbour were not altogether overlooked by this great statesman.The Earl of Clarendon, relying, specifically, on the principle of the neutralisation of the Black 2062 Sea, proceeds to show that these forts could not be rebuilt.The Russian Plenipotentiaries, setting up the distinction which, according to them, exists between these forts and military-maritime arsenals, maintain the contrary opinion.Of course, the Russian Plenipotentiaries maintained the contrary opinion, and they maintained it with great skill, with great courtesy, and, as the event proved, with remarkable success. But what was the result? Why, that the consideration of the point was adjourned. Until when? Until the Ides of March—until the Greek kalends! And the noble Lord the representative of England, who could state that the terms of this treaty would not permit Russia to re-erect these forts, when his position was controverted had not the heart to resume a discussion in which the honour and interests of England were preeminently concerned. Why did the noble Lord shrink from the rediscussion of the question, and why, I ask, did he consent to terms so dishonourable to the Crown of England? The answer is obvious and patent. Here I will beg to request the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what I am about to read, as I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman will adhere to his opinion, that the fall of Kars had no influence upon the conduct of the negotiations at Paris. Well, Kars was the next point touched upon.Count Walewski lays down that the town of Kars, and the Ottoman territory at present in the occupation of the Russian army, shall be restored to Turkey.The Earl of Clarendon supports and enlarges on this opinion.The Russian Plenipotentiaries admit the principles of this restitution; but, as it cannot be finally decided on till the end of the negotiation, they express a hope that, in the course of the negotiation, credit will be given to them for the concessions which they make in consideration of the separate conditions proposed in addition to the bases already agreed upon.Well, now, what other meaning can you attach to this, but that in consideration of the restitution of Kars the Transcaucasian provinces, the Circassian coast, and the right to re-establish the forts on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, should be conceded to Russia?Count Walewski, while taking note of the adhesion of the Russian Plenipotentiaries, bears witness to the conciliatory disposition which they have evinced during the sitting, as well in regard to Kars as in regard to the Aland Islands.Were they to be told, in spite of the statements of Count Walewski and the Russian 2063 Plenipotentiaries, that the Aland Islands were the compensation for Kars, and that the fall of Kars did not in any way affect the question of the Transcaucasian provinces and the re-erection of the forts on the eastern shores of the Black Sea? I understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that the fall of Kars had no influence on the discussions at Paris or the terms of the treaty, inasmuch as it was not known at Vienna until after the bases of the treaty had been agreed upon. Now, did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that what we were determined to ask at Vienna we asked bonâ fide, and with the intention of obtaining it in the Conferences at Paris? Two points which we had agreed to ask at Vienna were the non-reerection of the fortifications on the Aland Islands, and the non-reerection of the forts on the Circassian coast. Well, now, coming to the actual treaty of peace, we find that the non-reconstruction of the fortifications on the Aland Islands conceded, while the non-reerection of the forts upon the Circassian coast was resisted, and successfully resisted, by Russia. Was it alleged that, we had not agreed at Vienna to demand the non-reerection of the forts on the Circassian coast—that the point was left perfectly open, in order to take advantage of what in the interim might be the state of the war? I think that any Gentleman who has read the protocols must come to the inevitable conclusion that at Vienna it was our intention to secure, by prohibiting the re-erection of these forts, the independence of that gallant people, and, with their independence, the future independence and integrity of the Turkish Empire. If such was the intention at Vienna, how came it to miscarry at Paris? Kars had fallen. The fall of Kars was brought prominently before the Conferences by the French and Russian Plenipotentiaries, and its restitution was quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer as proof of the conciliatory disposition of Russia. Russia was complimented upon her conciliatory disposition, and the Circassians were handed over, without pity or remorse, to their implacable and inveterate foe. Sir, I really cannot believe that the hon. Gentleman who moved the Address to-night could really be of opinion that the honour of the Crown had been sustained, or that the great objects of the war had been secured by this treaty, or that the future integrity 2064 of the dominions of Turkey in Asia Minor were not implicated in the Conferences of Paris. I must say that I rose from the perusal of the protocols which recounted the Conferences at Paris with feelings very far from those of satisfaction and pride. As an Englishman, I could not but feel that the representatives of halting, hesitating Prussia, and even the representatives of Sardinia, occupied far higher ground in those negotiations than did the representatives of the Queen of Great Britain. Their opinions were at least always clearly stated and manfully sustained, but when. Lord Clarendon stated some opinion of paramount importance it seemed to be hinted at only to be withdrawn. If those to whom liberty in every shape was dear, and who looked upon the liberty of the press as the palladium of English liberty, would read the laboured speech of Lord Clarendon at the conclusion of the Conferences, they would think they had good reason to complain of the terms in which Lord Clarendon expressed himself upon the proposal of Count Walewski. Now, what was that proposal, expressed, no doubt, in courteous and diplomatic language? It was, that if the laws and constitution of Belgium were found not strong enough to put that amount of repression upon the press of Belgium which Count Walewski thought proper, an armed intervention would take place. What, Sir, was the reply of the representative of England to those observations?As regards the observations offered by Count Walewski on the excesses of the Belgian press, and the dangers which result therefrom for the adjoining countries, the Plenipotentiaries of England admit their importance; but, as the representatives of a country in which a free and independent press is, so to say, one of the fundamental institutions, they cannot associate themselves to measures of coercion against the press of another State.["Hear, hear!" from the Treasury bench.] Hon. Gentlemen upon the Treasury bench seemed quite astounded at the boldness with which Lord Clarendon "declined to associate himself to the measures of coercion, against the liberty of the press." It certainly was satisfactory to find that at the end of the negotiations the representative of England "screwed up his courage to the sticking point," and that he gave the Plenipotentiaries no reason to expect that in the event of an armed intervention by France, the fleet reviewed the other day at Spithead would be sent to its assistance. Let us, however, as I said 2065 before, be grateful for small mercies. But was that the language in which the representative of a Liberal Government might be expected by hon. Gentlemen opposite to express an opinion on a proposal to gag and fetter the press of one of the only free countries now left upon the Continent? The protocol went on to say—The first Plenipotentiary of Great Britain, while deploring the violence in which certain organs of the Belgian press indulge, does not hesitate to declare that the authors of the execrable doctrines to which Count Walewski alludes, the men who preach assassination as the means of attaining a political object, are undeserving of the protection which guarantees to the press, its liberty, and its independence.This moral truth who could doubt? Practically, however, what would happen if it were carried into effect? The liberty of the press would be gagged and put an end to in the endeavour to prevent these incitements to assassination. Does the noble Lord opposite, who took a share in constituting Belgium as an independent kingdom, believe that the laws and constitution of Belgium were impotent to restrain these excesses, and that they were so much less powerful than our own that an armed intervention was required, and would be justified on this account? It seems to me, however, that the language of Lord Clarendon, in "declining to associate himself" to those reactionary and restrictive measures, would give far more countenance and encouragement to the future intentions of the French Government than it would reassure the Belgium Government that the support and countenance of the English Government would be afforded to them in resisting such a project. I wonder Lord Clarendon, from his own experience, did not recommend a more gentle and efficacious way of silencing an obnoxious press. Did Lord Clarendon proceed to Paris to sign a treaty of peace, however poor, pitiful, and dishonourable its conditions might be? I believe that Lord Clarendon went to Paris to bring back a treaty of peace, and in that object he unquestionably succeeded. But it was a treaty that established the political and military supremacy of Russia throughout the whole of Asia; that rendered Persia a satrap of Russia; that permitted that very fleet, which we so foolishly boasted we had for ever destroyed, to anchor in the Golden Horn, on its way to be refitted, perhaps, at Portsmouth, before it finally took up its position before the fortifications of Cronstadt, which we had failed to endamage. 2066 It was a treaty that placed Circassia at the feet of her implacable foe, and in so doing violated the honour of the Crown, and failed to accomplish one of the great objects of the war. As by military mismanagement we had rendered the idea of Russian military supremacy paramount in the East, so we had now fatally impressed upon the mind of every Eastern ruler that as we were unable to baffle the armies of Russia in war, so we were unable to cope with her diplomacy in peace. I must apologise to the House for trespassing upon its indulgence at such length, but I felt bound to raise my voice and protest against the exaggerated and untrue description of the peace contained in the second paragraph of the Address; and I will submit to the noble Lord, if he is anxious that the Address should pass unanimously, the necessity of modifying the terms of this paragraph, so that the House may agree to a unanimous expression of satisfaction at the conclusion of peace, the terms of which they were not prepared too minutely and too curiously to scrutinise.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he could not think—apathetic as the people of England no doubt were with regard to the peace—that the noble Lord who had just sat down would find many persons to agree with him in the exaggerations into which he had allowed himself to be drawn, that the peace which had been ratified contained in it anything that was either dishonourable or degrading to England. It was, however, a different question whether the peace actually accomplished all that the people of England desired—whether it realised all that the ardent hopes of the people had anticipate—whether it really secured that permanence of peace which it professed to do, and which every one hoped that it might accomplish. He contended that there was nothing to be ashamed of in the present attitude of the people of England on this subject, for he thought that they now looked upon peace without joy, as they had looked upon war without fear. When he considered the circumstances in which the war had originated, he thought that no one could have calculated that it would ever be brought to a conclusion which would at any time be grateful to the feelings of the people of this country. The real cause of this probably was, that the war had been regarded in a somewhat different spirit by the Government to that in which it had been viewed by the people. By the British 2067 Government and by our Imperial Ally it had been regarded solely as political, bearing upon certain distinct political objects, and tending to certain distinct political ends. By the people of this country, on the other hand, it had been associated with far other hopes, far other desires, far other expectations; and the accomplishment of one of those results did not in any degree carry with it the accomplishment of the other. He thought, however, that when the terms of the treaty came to be carefully considered the people of England would find in them certain results to which they would be able to look back with at least a moderate degree of satisfaction. The people of England had been mainly actuated, in the enthusiasm and generosity with which they had supported the war, by the conviction that the power of Russia was likely to extend to a degree which would disturb the peace of Europe, and that that power was essentially an immoral power—the result of brute force. He thought that we might now encourage a hope that the aggressive and encroaching spirit of Russia had been to a considerable degree checked and curbed by the occurrences of the late war. He did not say how much this had depended upon the providential event of the removal of that Emperor who had been the cause of the war; but he had no reason to doubt that, from the very moment the present Emperor determined that peace should be made, that determination had been carried out in a spirit of perfect sincerity. There had been no reticences on the part of the Russian Government which should lead us to doubt their good faith; and, as the present Emperor of Russia appeared prepared to devote his energies to the internal improvement of the people, so the Russian people might suspend those extravagant notions of aggrandisement which had so long disturbed the real and material progress of that vast empire. He thought, too, that the people of England would find some gratification in the conviction that the integrity of Turkey had now received a guarantee such as could hardly have been hoped for under present circumstances. As regarded the Circassian people, the noble Lord (Lord J. Manners) had, in his opinion, enormously exaggerated the amount of independence which that people bad asserted and enjoyed, as well as the claim which they were supposed to have upon England. There was scarcely any incident of the war which had 2068 more disappointed the advocates of freedom than the small amount of interest and sympathy which the Circassian people had taken in the great contest in which we had been engaged. He believed the fact to be that very intimate relations existed between the Russian Government and the leaders of the principal Circassian tribes; and that all the noble Lord's fears of any vengeance being wreaked upon the Circassians by their "implacable foes," as the noble Lord termed them, in consequence of anything that they might have done during the late war, were entirely visionary and groundless. He wished that he could feel as certain with regard to others who had indeed felt a deep sympathy with the war, and whose relations with Russia ought to have attracted some attention—he, of course, alluded to the Poles. He knew that there were few things more distasteful to that House than the mention of the name of Poland, but he thought that at least some consideration should have been shown for the future safeguard of those Poles who had taken part in the war, and that the fullest security should have been taken for their lives and fortunes, for he feared that the vengeance of Russia might be felt elsewhere than in Circassia. The noble Lord, towards the end of his speech, had alluded to a subject which he (Mr. Milnes) should be glad to see frequently brought under the notice of the House before the close of the debate. He alluded to the speech of Count Walewski at the Conference, in reference to the Belgian press. It was his firm belief that it would have been impossible to have chosen a topic less germane to the business of the Conference than that which formed the subject of Count Walewski's alarm. There was one country in Europe which was prevented, by the circumstances of its political existence, from joining in the war, which, by the guarantee under which it enjoyed its political existence, was almost out of the region of political conflict, and its affairs formed a subject with which the Conference had no business one way or the other. That country was Belgium. He (Mr. M. Milnes) knew his noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston) was very proud of what was called his little political experiment, with which he had often been twitted, but with which he had every reason to be proud; but he assuredly did not think his noble Friend had equal reason to be proud of the language of Lord Clarendon, when the free press of Belgium was so gratuitously 2069 attacked. If it had been the business of the Congress to discuss all the questions that disturbed the peace of Europe, surely there were others which would have come before them more naturally than this, and when Count Walewski made his complaint against the press of Belgium, he, and the Government he represented, should have remembered that there was no person present who could have answered the imputation, or who could have defended the character and cause of that country. The imputations were grave, and required defence, and if there had been any person present authorised to enter into that defence, or if Lord Clarendon had been sufficiently acquainted with the circumstances to do so, as perhaps from the connexion between Belgium and this country he might have been expected to do, he (Mr. M. Milnes) did not think that the subject could have been allowed to remain in its present state. If his Lordship had stated, in answer to the accusation of Count Walewski, that Belgium was so impressed with the responsibility arising from its vicinage to France, that in the year 1852 the Belgian Parliament had enacted a law declaring that all offences against the person or character of any Sovereign, or any person connected with the Sovereign of another country, either by printing, writing, or misrepresentation, should be severely punished by the Belgian law, on the demand of the representative of the offended Sovereign; if he had also informed Count Walewski that on the representation of the French Government in 1854, the Belgian Parliament prolonged their Alien Act until 1858, for the sole purpose of holding a strong authority over any French refugees that might he in that country; and if Lord Clarendon had also maintained, as he might have done, that in the month of March last, at Windsor itself, the King of the Belgians gave his consent to a law, the object of which was to declare that any persons, whatever their nation might be, who were suspected of encouraging projects of assassination against any Sovereign should not receive any cloak of defence as political refugees; if it had been strongly declared what great marks of deference the Belgian Government had shown to the political exigency of France, he (Mr. M. Milnes) thought that such statements would have been more becoming an English representative than, words that bore the colour, in his opinion, of vindicating the attack of the 2070 French Government. Of course he could not suppose that Lord Clarendon intended to convey to the Conference the idea that, under any circumstances, this or any other free Government could associate themselves with the French for the purpose of repressing the free institutions of Belgium; for he must have known that if one French soldier crossed the Belgian frontier, the general guarantee would have been violated, and that the integrity of the Belgian territory must be defended by force of arms. That being the case, Count Walewski's words could have conveyed nothing more than an empty menace. That it was a menace no one could deny. It would be taken as a menace by the Belgian Legislature, which would meet in a few days to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Belgian independence; and, therefore, he trusted that both from the Treasury bench and the House, they would have a declaration of what was certainly the sense of the people of England, namely, that that passage, from the proceedings of the Conference, had been read in this country with the greatest pain, and that the effect would tell most injuriously on the reception of the peace, if it could be inferred for one moment that an English representative had given any countenance whatever to so unjust an accusation. The principle had been asserted that we should be content with this peace, because it accomplished all the objects for which the war had been declared. He, for one, should be sorry if such a doctrine were accepted. It was a new principle in international law, and he believed that if the war had continued this country would have been justified in demanding far other terms and conditions than had now been obtained. He wished to place the peace on its true grounds, and he had no hesitation in stating that he was satisfied with its terms, not because the object for which the war was undertaken had been attained, but because, having reference to all the circumstances of Europe, and more especially the peculiar condition of our ally, he considered the peace to be as good a peace as any reasonable man could hope to obtain. The people of England, no doubt, had thought that the effect of a peace might be to remove existing difficulties in Southern and Eastern Europe by are arrangement of territory, by a readjustment of freedom, by some liberty extended; and no such result had been obtained. Italy, in all her 2071 confusion, remained the same, the various portions of the Austrian empire were no better amalgamated than before; in other parts of Europe causes of disturbance still remained, which it would require all the efforts of statesmen to remove, but he trusted that the spirit in which the terms of peace had been accepted afforded some good reason for hope for the future. Another great advantage of the war was the fact that the French alliance remained unbroken, and, considering all the circumstances of the case, although he did not look upon the peace which had just been concluded as containing such elements of security as would allow us to throw aside all just means of precaution for the future, yet, nevertheless, it afforded reasonable ground for trusting that, by adhering to a wise course of policy, this country might, by the blessings of Providence, he spared for a long time to come from the horrors of war.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, the Address which had been moved that evening was so worded that to a large portion of it he could quite agree, though he must confess, as regarded all the great objects of the war, he did not think that they had been accomplished. He was, however, willing to accept the terms of the Address to this extent—that, so far as the intentions of Her Majesty's Government went when they entered into the war, the chief objects of the war had been attained. He was not going to criticise vexatiously the peace which was now about to be celebrated; but he thought it was due to himself, considering the interest he had taken in this subject from its commencement, to claim for a short time the indulgence of the House, while he entered—not more fully than the subject deserved—into the several articles contained in the treaty. It appeared to him that they were too much in the habit of coming to a decision upon generalities when discussing these subjects. With the exception of the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Colchester (Lord J. Manners), with great part of which he was certainly compelled to agree, the House had heard no actual criticism upon the peace itself. Now, it was, he thought, a reasonable wish that the opinion which one had formed might be placed on record, and, as he should not probably trouble the House again on this point, he would venture now, for the last time, to lay before them his opinion as to the chief subjects settled by the treaty of 2072 peace. The differences which had existed between himself and many others in that House on the subject of the war arose upon questions of principle at its very commencement. He had always maintained that we were led into error by the line taken by Lord Aberdeen's Government. He, and those who thought with him, believed that this war, entered into upon sound principles, and in a proper spirit, might have led to very great results; that an opportunity offered of doing much for the cause of civilisation and of liberty in Europe; that the war might have taken a very large area; and that there were other questions to settle besides what was commonly called the independence and integrity of Turkey. Lord Aberdeen's Government, however, thought differently. They believed that much might he done without extending the war beyond the immediate limits of Turkey. That, he would admit, was a fair question for discussion—he thought, however, that they had lost a golden opportunity—but still there might be arguments in favour of the more restricted course pursued. Under the circumstances, as it was useless now to point out what might have been done, he should confine himself to a discussion of the peace, on the supposition that the late and the present Government were right in the principles upon which they had acted. Discussing the peace in that spirit, the House would remember that they had been contending for "four points;" a fifth was added during the progress of the Conferences at Paris, but that was, and remained, very ambiguous to his mind. The four points were clearly laid down, namely, the emancipation of the Christians in Turkey, the condition of the Principalities, the navigation of the Danube, and the Russian naval force in the Black Sea. In discussing those points he wished to be perfectly fair and impartial. He thought it was hardly fair of the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Manners) to pick out a particular part of the treaty or of the protocols and criticise that portion, without relation to its other conditions, and leaving out of view altogether the general character of the peace. He knew all the difficulties to which the Government had been exposed, and was quite willing to make every allowance for those difficulties. The French alliance, for example, had proved a source of great embarrassment. Now, he was one of those 2073 who would make every sacrifice for a French alliance, except a sacrifice of the national honour and national independence. He must confess, however, that to his mind, from the very commencement, our position with regard to France had been a most anomalous one. For this the present Government were not so much to blame as those who originated and took the first steps in the war, for the war once commenced, it was too late to change the relative position of the two countries. From the beginning he had been deeply impressed with the equivocal position we had held with regard to France, and he thought no one could read these protocols and those of the Vienna Conferences, or could have followed the events of the war, without being persuaded that we assumed a false position as respected France, that we had placed ourselves unnecessarily in her power, and had taken a course which could never be consistent with the true interests and honour of this country. Having once embarked on this course, however, we could not recede, and, therefore, bearing in mind that Lord Aberdeen's Government had entered upon the war, he was therefore willing to make every allowance for Her Majesty's Government in considering these protocols, and to examine the treaty with all fairness and impartiality. The country expected from that House that an inquiry should be made, and they also expected that an impartial verdict should be returned. The first and most important point was that regarding the Christians in the Turkish empire, and he must own that on this subject much more had been done than he could possibly have expected when the war was commenced. The question was a most difficult one. The Christians were at once both the strength and the weakness of the Ottoman empire. They represented its strength, because they stood first in intelligence, in wealth, and in activity, the Turks themselves not possessing these qualities. They represented its weakness, because the natural result was, when the intelligent and wealthy classes exceeded in number the dominant class there was a continual fear of such popular movements as might overthrow the Government and produce confusion in the State. They had, therefore, to deal with those very discordant elements. A firman had been granted by the Sultan to the Christians, but he thought Lord Clarendon acted most wisely, fairly, and honourably—and he hoped his Lordship's conduct would be appreciated at Constantinople—when he supported the Plenipotentiary, 2074 Aali Pasha, in his objection to the embodiment of that firman in the treaty. The firman in question was prepared at Constantinople under the auspices of Austria, France, and England, and no document could be more liberal in its tone, and if the noble Lord at the head of the Government could promise them some equally liberal measure in England he thought the people ought to be very well satisfied; the Administrative Reformers themselves could not have asked for more. Christians were, under this firman, to be admitted to the highest places in the Government; they were placed on a perfect equality with Mussulmans; and in theory nothing was withheld from them. Of course such a firman as that could not be fully carried out, but to have those principles admitted was an immense gain. He had said it was wise on the part of Lord Clarendon to support Aali Pasha in his objection to see that firman form part of the treaty. The war with Russia had been chiefly entered into to endeavour to prevent her from interfering with the internal affairs of Turkey, and if that firman had formed part of the treaty it would have certainly given all the countries who were parties to the treaty the right to interfere, but that power of interference would have been exercised almost exclusively by Russia. By one of the articles of the treaty it was expressly stated that the communication of this firman gave to the contracting Powers no "right to interfere, either collectively or separately, in the relations of His Majesty the Sultan with his subjects, nor in the internal administration of his empire." The Sultan's Government deserved all praise for their liberality, and he had therefore been much grieved to hear the language which had been used in that House respecting them. Hon. Members might, perhaps, have looked through some papers laid on the table containing the correspondence and communications which had taken place between Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, Her Majesty's Government, and the Porte on the subject of concessions to the Christians. Those papers were of peculiar interest. The hon. and learned Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire), who enjoyed to a great extent the vituperative talents peculiar to that part of the world which gave him birth, had spoken strongly on the subject of the Porte and of Lord Stratford. Now, he (Mr. Layard) thought it most unwise that that language should be used; it was most unjust and unfair towards the Porte; and how could we expect Turkey 2075 would go with us and accede to our demands when such language was employed towards her? Among the papers to which he was referring was one signed by many missionaries and clergymen—English and American—of his acquaintance, expressive of their satisfaction with the hatti-sheriff and of their gratitude and obligations to Lord Stratford for his efforts on behalf of the Christians in Turkey—efforts which they believed by this act had been crowned with success. Even in this country we had some relics of barbarism—a band playing in Hyde Park on Sunday, or a grant to Maynooth excited the opposition of educated and worthy gentlemen. It could well be imagined, then, that it would not be wise to ask the Turks in one day to alter all their laws and religion—to forego every form which they had inherited from their forefathers. It would be most unwise and imprudent to compel the Porte to make concessions which would only exasperate its subjects and have the certain effect of preventing, or, at least, retarding the accomplishment of those ends which all had in view. Immense changes had lately taken place in Turkey; every day fresh progress was made, and as intercourse with Europe increased that progress would also increase. There was, however, one point upon which he was not so well satisfied. He was of opinion that the extension of the conscription to the Christian subjects of the Porte was unwise; that it would expose them to hardships which hitherto had been reserved exclusively to Mussulmans, and the exemption from which had been one of the causes of the great prosperity of the Christians in Turkey. There were one or two points which he was glad to find, although not included in the treaty, were noticed in the protocols, which pledged those who were parties to it. He was glad to find that both points had been originated by Lord Clarendon—one of them referring to our commercial system as far as Turkey was concerned, and the other relating to the abolition of the capitulations. He (Mr. Layard) was not desirous of remodelling the treaty to which the noble Lord at the head of the Government had referred in an earlier period of the evening, but he was anxious to see the duty upon grain and other articles of export abolished or much reduced; such a step would be, he believed, the best means of destroying Russian influence in Turkey, and nothing would tend so much to the strength and prosperity of that empire as an unrestricted trade in corn. At 2076 present the export duty upon all Turkish produce was 12 per cent, while the import duty on foreign articles was only 5 per cent. With respect to the capitulations, he was glad to find there were to be deliberations upon that subject. These capitulations belonged to a past age, when groups of Christians were allowed to settle in various parts of Turkey without being subject to Turkish law, but under the control and protection of the Missions of their respective countries. It would not be right, when asking Turkey to make concessions, to allow those to whom those concessions were made to defy the laws of the Porte at their pleasure, and he hoped the result of the deliberations would be to release Turkey from that annoyance. He wished to call the attention of the House to the fact that the only Power which objected to that alteration, as it had likewise done to every proposition to improve every country besides Turkey, was Austria. The condition of the Christians was, as he had shown, greatly improved; they could hold land, and had other rights conferred upon them, and he had no doubt that in a few years that firman would be regarded as the basis of the strength of the Turkish empire. How different was now the state of Turkey compared with that of Austrian Italy, with her desecrated public monuments, her teeming prisons, and swarming police. Compare Turkey with Norway, where, he believed, Jews were not permitted to reside. In Belgium, even, he had been informed that Protestants were almost entirely excluded from all public employment and dignity, and attempts had been made to remove the bodies of deceased Protestants from burial-grounds upon the plea that the ground was consecrated. Therefore upon the whole he considered the position of the Christians in Turkey was one which entitled the Turkish Government to much credit for its efforts on their behalf. That deeds of violence did occasionally occur he did not in the least mean to deny; hundreds of times he had had occasion himself to interfere to obtain justice for Christians, but the Turkish Government had never been the cause; and he thought that the firman had now placed them in a very satisfactory position. The next point was as to the Principalities—Moldavia and Wallachia. He was willing to admit that with regard to them more had been done than he had expected, but there were still many points which required explanation. It was known that the Principalities 2077 had submitted voluntarily to the Porte. Moldavia and Wallachia were inhabited by the same race, speaking the same language and professing the same religion. Russia, however, obtained a right of interference, which she exercised to effect any change she desired in the local government, or to annoy the Porte. That right of interference was now, he was glad to find, abolished, and the Principalities were placed under the guarantee of the contracting Powers, in the same manner as Belgium, but of course still subject to the suzerainté of the Porte. With regard to them it appeared that Lord Clarendon bad proposed a liberal duty—to unite the two provinces—in which proposition he was supported by France and Russia. That union was, however, opposed by Austria, who succeeded in inducing the Porte to join with her in opposing and rejecting it. Austria, without doubt, feared that union, because by it the Principalities would become strong, and consequently become an example and an encouragement to the adjoining Austrian provinces inhabited by the same races, who sympathised with the inhabitants of Moldavia and Wallachia. It appeared that a Commission had been appointed to inquire into the feelings and opinions of the Principalities, and new forms of government were to be framed for both. Divans ad hoc were to be assembled to ascertain the sentiments of the people, but it should be remembered that the provinces had been for some length of time ruled by Austrian bayonets, and were now occupied by Austrian soldiers. Any assemblage at present under such auspices could not be regarded as a true expression of the wishes of the inhabitants; therefore, he trusted that before any sitting took place, the Austrians would be cleared out of the Principalities. He was glad to find that one of the Commissioners to investigate the condition of those provinces was a gentleman of great experience connected with the embassy at Constantinople—Mr. Alison, than whom no one was better qualified for the task, for few understood so well the wants and requirements of the Principalities. If we should succeed in forming those provinces united into a strong government even under the sovereignty of the Porte, which he thought it would be for the best at present to retain, they would prove a formidable barrier against Russia. That was much better than anything which had been proposed at the Vienna Conference, where we had been 2078 on the point of admitting that when anything occurred in the Principalities which Russia and Austria considered not to agree with the quiet of the country, those Powers were to have a right to march in and occupy them. Another point which he considered most valuable was, that the Principalities were to be empowered to raise their own troops for their own internal defence and police. He hoped that those gentlemen who were expelled from Moldavia and Wallachia in 1848, would be allowed to return and take a part in the administration of their country. Many of them were men of high character, and well worthy of being entrusted with that duty. With regard to Servia, it was, in the first instance, agreed that a new form of government should be introduced into that country; but that intention had been changed, and he was glad to find that Servia was to be allowed to administer her own affairs. He had no doubt Servia would one day play a distinguished part in the East. With regard to Montenegro, that territory was still in an unsatisfactory state in respect to the sovereignty claimed over it; and it was, he regretted to find, to be allowed to remain in a state of uncertainty. He then came to the Black Sea, and he would here call attention to the circumstance that the Vienna Conferences had been broken off because Russia would not agree to the limitation then proposed. He would admit, that something had now been gained in regard to the forces to be maintained in the Black Sea by Turkey and Russia—gained so far as the treaty was concerned; that was to say, as long as the parties with whom the treaty was made were willing to abide by it. There was a limitation clause in the treaty, which stipulated that Russia should only have in the Black Sea vessels of a certain size. If Russia adhered to that stipulation, there would be no fear of the result of the treaty. But, in reality, this clause of the treaty was of very little importance, because there were a thousand ways in which Russia might evade the terms of the treaty. Large ships had been proved in the late war to be of very little advantage. Now, there was nothing in the treaty to prevent Russia from having a swarm of gun-boats in the Black Sea, only they must not be called gun-boats. They need not be armed, but they could keep the guns ready, and in case of a war the boats would be armed in a few days. Russia would have a right to introduce as 2079 many vessels of commerce as she thought fit into the Black Sea. Most of the steamers of war belonging to Russia during the late war he had himself seen pass through the Dardanelles as merchant vessels before the war; but when the war broke out they were used at once as vessels of war. He agreed with the noble Lord (Lord J. Manners) in strongly condemning the course which had been taken as regards Circassia. The very name of "Circassia" did not once occur in the protocols. He wished to know whether the blockade formerly established on the Circassian coast was to be continued? That was a question seriously affecting our commerce. We had hitherto been excluded from any commercial intercourse with Circassia; and that intercourse would be the best means of civilising the Circassians and bringing them into communication with Europe. There was no document or protocol existing, emanating from any European Power, which recognised the right of Russia to Circassia. On the contrary, we had always considered that Circassia was wrongly and unlawfully occupied by Russia. But this treaty contained a tacit recognition that Russia was in possession, and had a legal right to Circassia. The very fact of the Plenipotentiaries entering into discussion as to the power of Russia to rebuild the forts on the Circassian coast, admitted the right of Russia to that coast. He was willing to admit the distinction between a fort and a military arsenal. Russia ought to have the power of defending her coasts; but that was not the question; that was a right which might fairly be conceded to Russia. They could not prevent a nation from defending its own coasts, supposing that those fortifications were erected strictly for that purpose; but what he contended was, that the coast of Circassia was not the Russian coast. To raise the question whether Russia could or could not rebuild those forts was at once to admit that she had a positive right to the coast. It was certainly a hard thing to be compelled to give up the rights of an independent people, which undoubtedly were capable of being enforced as regarded Circassia, simply on account of our relations with France or Austria. He wanted to know how far this distinction between forts and ports would apply to our consuls. A consul was an officer entrusted with the supervision of trade; the Government had no right to demand an exequatur for a consul in a fort. Now, he wanted to know whether Sebastopol and Nicholaielf remained 2080 forts, or were merely ports. If they were forts, the Russian Government might refuse to admit a consul within them; and we should then be excluded from any means of information as to what was going on at Sebastopol or Nicholaieff. With reference to that question, the Government had made a most important and a very dangerous admission. Within the last few days, they had asked leave of the Russian Government to send ships into Sebastopol harbour for the purpose of removing the materials of war. The Russian commander said, the question must be referred to St. Petersburg, in order to obtain permission. Now, he wished to know whether Sebastopol harbour was to be closed for ever, and whether British ships were to be excluded from entering it. If so, that would be continuing a state of things which, among others, he had always understood the war was intended to put an end to. With regard to Nicholaieff, we had no consul there, and if it was regarded as a fort and not a port, what would be our protection? England could not go to war with Russia for building a vessel to-day or to-morrow, and we could not keep up a police to look into every corner of the Russian empire. So far, therefore, as that part of the treaty was concerned, he saw very little advantage in it, though, if Russia would adhere to the stipulation, he would confess there would be something gained. He was glad to find that the treaty recognised the old right of Turkey to close the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. He thought it would be a most dangerous thing to open the Dardanelles and the Bosphorous to foreign fleets. If that had been done before the late war, the probability was, that Prince Menchikoff would have been in possession of Constantinople. With regard to the navigation of the Danube, he considered the provisions of the treaty excellent; and it was a wise course to have the Principalities represented in the Commission that was to regulate that navigation. The fifth article of the treaty contained an amnesty to those subjects of Russia who had been engaged in the war. He wished that something had been said about the inhabitants of the Crimea. Those poor people had been exposed to horrible tyranny. It was well known that the policy of Russia, for years, had been to exterminate the Tartar race. They were prevented from leaving the country; they could not make their pilgrimages to Mecca; everything was done to 2081 exterminate them. He wished, therefore, that something had been done by the Conference to guarantee their liberties. The seventh and eighth articles of the treaty were very important; they guaranteed the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire, and placed it on a footing much more advantageous than it had before occupied. Such were the principal points of the treaty; and, taking them all in all, he thought Her Majesty's Government deserved great credit for it. When he saw the preliminaries he certainly was not prepared for so good a treaty. He confessed that the terms far exceeded any reasonable expectation which he had formed; and, in all fairness, he was bound to congratulate the Government on the treaty they had made, and on the principles which it embodied. He would not say that much more might not have been gained; but, assuming the principle laid down by Lord Clarendon, more had been gained by the treaty than he could possibly have hoped for. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the fall of Kars had no influence on the terms of peace. He differed from that; the protocols showed that it had had an influence. If we had been successful in that quarter a most important rectification of the frontier might have been made, by restoring to Turkey two provinces of which she was deprived in the last war, and which would have been most important to her in another war. There was much in the protocols that was equally binding and important with the treaty, and did equal honour to Lord Clarendon. As to Italy, the language held by the noble Lord at Paris was worthy of this country. It was impossible to exaggerate the present state of Italy, or the degradation into which it had fallen. Unfortunately, it was the policy of Austria to make the opinion predominate in Europe that Italians were not practical, and not able to govern themselves; and, to further that policy, Austria had fomented the state of disunion which had led to such misery in Italy. He repudiated the idea, and would point to Sardinia as a proof of how successful the Italians were in governing themselves. What a contrast between the condition of Sardinia and the condition of the Roman States. In the Roman States few offices were held by laymen, and even when held by laymen they were entitled to all the privileges of ecclesiastics. The privilegio di foro exempted all priests and all parties 2082 bearing an ecclesiastical character from the control of any courts of law, except Ecclesiastical Courts, and that was carried to such an extent, that if one person in a suit was entitled to the privilege, though there were forty or fifty who were not, the suit must be adjudicated by the Ecclesiastical Court. No cardinal was subject to the law at all—he could not be summoned to the Ecclesiastical Courts without his own consent. If the canon and the common law clashed, the canon law was preferred, even in the common law Courts. The priests paid no taxes and therefore there was an immense idle population supported by the really industrious portion of the community. The inhabitants in the Papal States were disarmed, and the country was overrun by banditti. The roads were unsafe, and no one could go to a place, even in the immediate vicinity of Rome, without imminent risk of being plundered. Austria, having insisted on the people being disarmed, turned round now and used the argument of the insecurity thereby produced to induce Europe to tolerate her retaining possession of the Roman States. In 1850 there were 10,436 persons in the Roman prisons, and in 1854 the number had increased to 13,006. The existing state of things was intolerable. There was no law. The bishops had a right to imprison. The inquisition, the political governors of towns, and the police had a right to imprison. No man's house was safe for an hour; nobody knew what the law was; and he (Mr. Layard) had been told many times by Italians that they would rather live under the Austrian law, terrible and oppressive as that law was, than under the system which existed in the Roman States. The Austrians had, in addition, compelled the inhabitants to pay for their troops. The French, he was happy to say, had not done so. Suggestions which were made to the Pope for the improvement of the Government were despised, and up to the present day no change for the better had been effected. He left the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) to deal with Naples. But with regard to Sicily, it was almost impossible to conceive the state of that island. The best men were banished. There was some slight riot in the streets, got up by a few boys, without any political object whatever, and humane as the Governor was, he was compelled by the authorities, against his will, to do acts 2083 of great cruelty. In consequence of the riot, which was soon quelled, orders were issued to seize the first six men coming into the town and to shoot them in the public square. A party of men returning from enjoying themselves in the country were seized. One of them died of the shock when told the purpose for which they were seized; his body was dragged to the place of execution, and there his five companions underwent the terrible sentence, which he, by his death, escaped. By a most wicked and atrocious Government, Sicily had been changed from a fertile island into a desert. In Tuscany things were very little better. The Grand Duke was brought back by his own troops, and the first thing he did was to call in the Austrians. Although the troops, he believed, were withdrawn, the Austrian Generals still retained their command in the town. They had all heard of those persecutions for reading the Bible that were discreditable to any Government. Talk of Turkey! Why, there was infinitely more freedom of conscience in Turkey than in any part of Italy except Sardinia. Then look at the confiscations of property in Lombardy. Let his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Bowyer) cross over into Sardinia and see the contrast which that country presented to any other part of Italy. The same state of things which existed in Sardinia would prevail elsewhere if they gave the people of Italy a fair chance of governing themselves, for some most practical men were to be found in all parts of Italy. It was impossible for Piedmont fully to develope its resources while the Austrian occupation continued, for the King of Sardinia was obliged to keep up an army in consequence, and every petty prince in Italy considered himself safe in persecuting his subjects because he knew he could fall back upon Austria. He was glad to see by the protocols that France I had expressed a readiness to withdraw her troops from Italy, and he was sure that, if the Government thought it desirable to represent the necessity of a change of policy in Italy, they would be supported both in that House and out of it. He should be the last to interfere in the concerns of other nations. All that he wished was, that other Powers should not be allowed to interfere. He thought the proposal of Lord Clarendon wise and prudent, and he should be glad to sec the Roman legations placed under a lay Government, with the French code of laws, and under 2084 the suzerainté of the Pope. It would be a step also in the right direction if the Austrian army were withdrawn from the Legations. He could not think that the language of Lord Clarendon with regard to the Belgian press was open to the remarks of the noble Lord (Lord John Manners); but he considered that Count Walewski's resumé of the result of the five points he had submitted to the Plenipotentiaries was not borne out by the facts. Count Walewski stated that the Plenipotentiaries had agreed to the following proposition:—That all the Plenipotentiaries, and even those who considered themselves bound to reserve the principle of the liberty of the press, have not hesitated loudly to condemn the excesses in which the Belgian newspapers indulge with impunity, by recognising the necessity of remedying the inconvenience, which is so greatly abused in Belgium.[Mr. DISRAELI: That is signed.] He did not think this statement was justified by what Lord Clarendon had said, for the words "uncontrolled licence" in the protocol might mean any thing. He certainly was astonished that Lord Clarendon had signed this protocol, and he trusted that they would have some explanation upon it from the noble Viscount at the head of Her Majesty's Government. With regard to the agreement of the Conference concerning privateering, he did not see any objection to this great advance in the practice of civilized States. In conclusion, he thought they had gained much by the I treaty. The condition of the Christians; in Turkey had been improved, they had been released from the Russian protectorate. The principle of the neutralisation of the Black Sea had been admitted, and Turkey had been placed in the European family. Those were great gains, and, in consideration of them, he was inclined to look over much in the treaty that he should otherwise have objected to He agreed, for instance, with those who thought Circassia a great omission in the treaty. It was impossible to aver that the peace had been received with enthusiasm, and why was it that the country was not satisfied with the peace? Because the people of this country did not believe that Russia was sincere, or that this would be a lasting and durable peace, or that Russia, after a war of a couple of years, would change the policy of two centuries. He was astonished to hear hon. Members upon the Ministerial bench now praising Russia who two years ago believed her capable of committing 2085 any atrocity; but he believed that any man acquainted with history would not suppose that Russia, after two years' losses, which were not irremediable, would renounce the policy that formed the very essence of her Government. What was her policy at the present moment. She was now about to form railways and to unite the most distant parts of her empire, and she would no doubt continue to intrigue in Central Asia. The people were not satisfied, too, that the position of this country was at this moment what it was when this war broke out. The war had also shown the necessity of a change in our administrative system, and if this had been one of its results it would not have failed in its effect. He could not sit down without bearing testimony to the very able manner in which the negotiations had been conducted by Lord Clarendon and Lord Cowley. Looking at the services of the whole diplomatic body of this country, there was no one who, in his opinion, was more deserving of public gratitude than Lord Cowley. He had represented and maintained the honour of England with an ability that had never been surpassed, and he had shown a knowledge of his subject and an amount of independence which did him honour. The noble Lord had been many years at Constantinople, and he had brought to bear upon the consideration of this subject an amount of local knowledge which had been of the greatest assistance to Lord Clarendon. As that was probably the last occasion on which he (Mr. Layard) should address the House upon the subject of this war, he must therefore briefly notice the taunt which had been thrown out against the occupants of the bench where he sat, that they had done nothing. He thought that the occupants of that bench could look back with some satisfaction and pride at their efforts for the last two years. Who was it that had drawn attention to the state of the troops in the Crimea? Who was it that had brought forward the Motion which was intended to rescue those brave men from the "horrible and heartrending" condition in which they were stated to have been, but his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck)? Almost every Motion to obtain some change in that administrative system which had plunged us into disgrace had emanated from one or two Gentlemen on that bench, and he should, as long as he lived, look back without regret at the course which they had taken during the war. They might 2086 have been often wrong, but they had never brought forward a Motion for mere factious purposes, and their only object had been to do their duty conscientiously both to the House and to those who had sent them there.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, the noble Lord opposite, the Member for Colchester, has very much blamed a particular part of this treaty, and has more than once applied the word "base" to the conduct of the Government; yet, as he had neither proposed any Amendment nor raised any opposition to the Address to the Crown, the debate must lose much of the interest and excitement that might otherwise belong to it. Still, as the subject is one of great moment, and as we have now to consider the settlement of a question which for half a century at least has occupied the minds of men, and which I am afraid may occupy them again at a future time, it is, I think, of such importance to consider the terms of the peace that we have made that I cannot refrain from offering to the House some observations upon it. I will say at once that I entirely differ from the noble Lord (Lord J. Manners) and that I believe that the conditions of peace are honourable to Her Majesty's Crown, and that they fully accomplish the great objects for which the war was undertaken. That is my persuasion with respect to this peace, and I think, if the House agree in that belief, that no lower or more feeble terms should be used in order to express that sentiment. The Ministers who, after the peace of Amiens, brought forward an Address to the Crown, did not insert in that Address the term "honourable" peace; and I think it was almost condemnatory of their own work that they did not so characterise the peace which they had themselves concluded. Now, with respect to the Motion before the House, I will take first the Articles in the order in which they have been placed over and over again, as they were sent from Vienna to St. Petersburg more than once, and as they have been finally adopted as the preliminaries of peace. The first of those articles respects the condition of the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia; and there can hardly be a question of greater gravity than that. We must recollect that, in 1774, by the treaty of Kainardji, special powers were given to Russia to interfere in certain respects with the condition of those Principalities; that the treaties to that effect were not only renewed 2087 from time to time, but strengthened; that the bonds were drawn closer and closer; that the supremacy of Russia over the nominal sovereigns of those provinces was more and more asserted; and that when at one time the alliance between Napoleon and Alexander the Emperor of Russia seemed to divide the world between them under their undisputed sway, the great object of Alexander in those negotiations was to obtain complete sovereignty and rule over the Principalities. With regard to that first object, it must be observed that, not to day, or at Paris, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) has observed, for some time before the Conferences of Vienna, Russia declared her willingness to give up those treaties, to renounce all the advantages which she had acquired by them, and to consent that there should be no particular and exclusive protection of the Christians of these Principalities on the part of herself or of any other power. The conditions by which that arrangement is carried into effect seem to me to be very efficient for their objects. The Porte declares that the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia shall continue to enjoy all the privileges and immunities of which they are at present in possession. These privileges have long been a subject of dispute, and were so as late as the time of the mission of Prince Menchik off to Constantinople. The Sultan has always declared that the privileges and immunities enjoyed by the inhabitants of those Principalities had been granted by the grace and favour of his ancestors, while, on the other hand, the Emperor of Russia had always endeavoured to induce them to believe that they have derived those privileges through his efforts, and that it is to him that they must look for the retention or extension of them. Now, Sir, in the 23rd Article of the present treaty, the Sublime Porte engages to preserve to the said Principalities an independent and national administration, as well as full liberty of worship, of legislation, of commerce, and of navigation; and those words are almost identical with the words used in the preliminaries to the Conference at Vienna, and Russia now does not recede from the professions she then made. The hon. Member for Aylesbury, however, says—and not for the first time—that there is a great difference between this Article and the Article agreed upon at Vienna, and that by the Articles agreed to at Vienna, Russia and Austria had at any time the power of coming into 2088 the Principalities and destroying the constitution conferred upon them. Now, Sir, I cannot think that any interpretation of the Article in the treaty proposed at Vienna could have justified that opinion of my hon. Friend, There was, it is true, an article in which it was stated that if any armed interference should take place in the Principalities, that armed interference should, either previously to its taking place or afterwards, be made the subject of European deliberation, and in the protocol referring to that Article there was a mistranslation which has doubtless led to some amount of misconception. The simple fact, however, is this, that as the Sultan could not in an ordinary state of affairs send his troops into the Principalities, although they acknowledged him as their suzerain, it appeared necessary that the Powers who were neighbours to those provinces, Russia and Austria, should take some precaution in order to prevent those Principalities becoming scenes of anarchy and a cause of alarm to their neighbours. By the present treaty I find that full precaution is taken to avoid such a state of things. The 27th Article provides that if the internal tranquillity of the Principalities should be menaced or compromised, the Sublime Porte shall come to an understanding with the other contracting Powers in regard to the measures to be taken for the maintenance or restoration of order therein. No armed intervention can take place without previous arrangement or agreement between those Powers. Now, there is, I admit, a difference between this article and the one proposed at Vienna. The article proposed at Vienna did not allow the Sublime Porte, although the suzerain of the Principalities, without concert with the other Powers, to enter them with her troops, and put down any insurrection which might take place, while the present Article provides that no armed intervention shall take place without previous agreement between the Porte and the other contracting Powers. But, while I admit the difference, I still say that both Articles provided for the continuance of those privileges to the inhabitants of the Principalities which were guaranteed to them by England and France, and at the same time they provided that Wallachia and Moldavia should not become the arena of disorder and confusion, or that if they did the suzerain of those provinces should have the means of restoring order. I come next to the question of the navigation 2089 of the Danube. With respect to that point, it appears to me that our successes at Sebastopol have been taken advantage of to obtain much greater security for the future for the free navigation of that river than it was possible to ask for, while our troops were still lying before that town. The Articles in this respect differ a little from the preliminaries. Russia has agreed that a line to mark her new frontier shall be drawn from the Pruth to the Black Sea, not a longitudinal line, but a line across the country by which the forts of Ismail and Novokilia will be placed within the territory of Moldavia, and Russia will be excluded from any power of interference with the navigation of the Danube—an interference which has hitherto been found so mischievous and injurious. It was said by Russia that that control which she exercised was exerted to improve the navigation of the Danube; but, in point of fact, there can be no doubt that it tended very much to impede the navigation of that river. I believe, Sir, that the whole of Europe, and this country no less than any other, will derive the greatest benefit from the improvement of the navigation of the Danube, and that Moldavia and Wallachia, and also Hungary and some of the other Austrian provinces at present little known, will acquire the means of developing their natural resources and their industry, which cannot but materially tend to their future prosperity; and at the same time to the general advantage of Europe. The provisions of the treaty are applicable to the whole course of the Danube, and I fully concur in the appointment of a French and English temporary Commission to clear the obstacles which at present impede the course of that river. I now, Sir, come to the third point, the point which proved a stumbling-block at Vienna, and which prevented any agreement between the belligerents. I mean, of course, the preponderance of Russia in the Black Sea. Now, Sir, as regards either limitation, counterpoise, or neutralisation, I do not think it possible that any treaty introducing either of those principles could be so framed that it would not be possible to pick a hole in it. Or one which Russia, if inclined to violate the faith of the treaty, might not find some excuse for breaking. We are often told, and I must say that I consider the assertion a foolish one, that Russia is not a Power to be dealt with like other Powers; that we cannot trust to her keeping the engagement into which 2090 she enters, and that as soon as she signs a treaty she will find some means of violating it. It appears to me that we must deal with Russia as we would with any other Power. Russia, no doubt, has ambition, but other Powers have ambition also, and if Russia agrees to a treaty which it is to her interest to preserve, and which is agreeable to the general tranquillity of Europe, we have, I think, no reason to believe that she will immediately violate it. If a treaty be found to be injurious to the interests of a country, and some means of violating it are obvious, I do not know of what country in Europe we could predicate a strict observance of that treaty. The objections to a system of counterpoise are obvious, and no doubt there are many objections to a system of limitation, and some can be urged against the system of neutralisation. No doubt Russia can have a number of gunboats unarmed, or even steamers, which, although built for commercial purposes, might readily be adapted for purposes of war. I can only say that I think that as much security has been taken for the future as it was possible to take, and that you could hardly tell Russia more than what Lord Clarendon told Count Orloff at Paris—that the stipulations of the treaty would be nugatory if a great fleet were to be prepared at Nicholaieff, and if the maritime resources of that place should be used for that purpose. It is hardly possible to believe that the Russians would ever have consented to destroy Nicholaieff; and as to the forts on the coast of Circassia, they are not arsenals, arid cannot, therefore, be said to have anything to do with the neutralisation of the Black Sea. The proposal of neutralisation was, I believe, originated by a statesman, for whom I have the greatest respect, and from whom I have always experienced the greatest cordiality—I mean M. Drouyn de Lhuys, and I believe it affords as good a solution of the problem as could have been, discovered. I come now to the fourth point, upon which the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury are so well worth the attention of the House that I hardly like to add anything to them. I believe, with him, that it was wise not to insist either upon inserting the hattisheriff as an article of the treaty, or upon annexing it to the treaty. The document is referred to in this solemn treaty; it is declared a law of the Turkish Empire, and we must expect that the Sultan will use all the means he can in order to carry it into 2091 effect. With regard to the actual Government of the Turkish Empire, I have hardly that respect for it which my hon. Friend entertains, because, whatever may be intended by the Sultan's Government, we all know that when you go 300 miles off in the heart of Asia, or the mountains of Thessaly, the Pashas and their officers may say, "What is this firman to us? We must not regard it. Let the irregular troops be sent out to collect the tribute from the villages; "and these irregular troops, as we know, kill many of the men, and carry the women into slavery, in spite of all the laws which the Sultan has enacted. It is therefore desirable, and I trust we shall see the day when the Sultan may be able, not only to enact just laws at Constantinople, but when, by reforming the corruption which debases and degrades his empire, he may appoint persons in whom he can trust to hold the subordinate offices in the provinces; and, where it is necessary to use force, in order to maintain obedience, we may, I hope, see employed a regular and disciplined soldiery, and not an irregular force, whose pillage and whose lawless violence have been so disgraceful and injurious to the Turkish Empire, and so degrading and ruinous even to the Sultan himself. I say, "ruinous to the Sultan," because it is the outrages and invasions of those irregular troops which lead the Christian subjects of the Porte, who have every reason to be satisfied with his toleration and satisfied with the absence of religious persecution, to dread the Government of the Sultan as a Government which affords no protection to the honour of their wives or the safety and sanctity of their homes. With regard, Sir, to this war, I may say in general—and I think every Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government who began the war must have felt the same—that if we had begun that war for the protection of Turkey against Russia, having no other prospect but that of seeing continued the abuses and misgovernment which caused and accompanied the decay of the Sultan's power in Europe, we should not have been justified in entering upon it. But it was our hope—a hope confirmed by this treaty of peace—that while we prevented an ambitions neighbour from planting himself in fair territories to which he had no claim or title whatever, we might at the same time open to the 10.000,000 or 11,000,000 inhabitants of these countries the prospect of better government, of security in their homes, and an acknowledgment of all those 2092 rights which in civilised parts of Europe contribute so much to the happiness and welfare of the people. I have said already I do not think that any Articles of any treaty, however framed (and these Articles appear to me to be drawn up with very great precision and skill), would give you security against aggression on the part of Russia. It has been a project long meditated; the present Emperor may refrain from carrying it into effect; we may have security during his life that he will not resume these ambitious projects; but taking that at the best, we cannot say that in the Articles of the treaty we possess perfect security that no attempt will ever be made at some future time to realise those projects on the part of Russia. I remember at the commencement of these disputes being very much struck by a political prediction made by a man perhaps as well entitled to deal in these predictions—always very hazardous—as any one—I mean the Emperor Napoleon. Napoleon said, when at the island of St. Helena, that the next war in Europe might very probably be owing to an attempt by Russia to get possession of Constantinople; that, according to his opinion, it was the only thing which could cordially unite England and France in one object; that such an attempt would cordially unite those two Powers; and he thought it likely that Prussia would join them under those circumstances. But he said—and this is a very remarkable part of the prediction.—that Austria would take part with Russia; she would share in the spoils of the declining empire of Turkey; and therefore the efforts of France, Great Britain, and Prussia, would fail in preventing the march of the Russians to Constantinople. He added that this might not happen now; but it might happen in the day of one of the youngest among us, perhaps thirty-five years hence, and I believe the period mentioned in this prediction expired in 1852. There was something very remarkable here; but one point contained in the prediction could hardly fail to be particularly striking—namely, the confidence with which at that time the Emperor Napoleon spoke of the accession of Austria to the projects of Russia against Turkey. Now, in the beginning of 1853–4, the Emperor Nicholas spoke with a similar confidence of the agreement of Austria in any plan he might propose for the dissolution of Turkey. Well, but did not this furnish a suggestion well worthy of consideration by any Power which wished to 2093 resist these projects—namely, that it was desirable to obtain the assent and assistance of Austria in resisting, instead of aiding in these projects? Now, that was the course which has been taken by Lord Clarendon during the time he has held the seals of the Foreign Office—with much discouragement, with many reasons to complain of the backwardness of Austria, with many reasons to say that this was a question which interested her more than any other Power, and yet she was the last who would give her blood and her money for this purpose. With many discouragements of this kind, the plan has nevertheless been persevered in, and the result is the treaty of peace now under consideration. Because we must recollect that, although Austria had, as appeared to me, two objects in view—the one not to enter into the war at all, and the other to favour the Western Powers in their resistance to Russia; yet the first object was so much in her mind, and evidently so much at her heart—owing, perhaps, to particular circumstances—that it was very difficult to get the effective aid of Austria. Now, however, a treaty has been signed, entered into by Austria, in common with Great Britain and France, by which the independence and integrity of Turkey are guaranteed, and by which any attempt to violate that independence and integrity is made a casus belli. Now, Sir, I believe, so long as these Powers can keep together—so long as these Powers will resist these ambitious projects, that whatever changes may take place in the Government of Russia, even if you had a very ambitious prince instead of one who, to his honour, is so much disposed to pacific councils—I believe this Treaty would prevent Russia from carrying out her projects, and that thereby you have a security against the renewal of the war. Of course, if England and France were at war, and Russia had to deal with Austria alone, and obtained military successes over her, the treaty would fail of effect; but so would any treaty you could possibly frame. As far as words and as human wisdom can do so, the present treaty, I firmly believe, secures the integrity of Turkey; you cannot pretend to that perfect security which no human calculation and foresight can possibly hope to obtain. Such, then, being the case—such being the arrangements made with regard to the future, I think this House has every reason to be satisfied with what 2094 has been done; and if I am told that many people are dissatisfied, and if I believe, as I do believe, that my noble Friend was quite right when he said it was probable, if we went on with the war, that we should gain success in the campaign of 1856, and that at the end of the year we might obtain greater advantages than we now have, I only give the more honour to the Government; for, having it in their power, as I believe they had, to induce the nation to continue the war, yet, being satisfied in their own minds that the objects of the war had been fully accomplished, they have preferred peace to further bloodshed and to further warfare. Such, Sir, therefore, are my opinions as to the Treaty of Peace. There are, however, some things upon which, if I ventured upon criticisms, I should ask some explanations. I think, for instance, that, as regards that declaration of Count Orloff as to Nicholaieff, it would have been better to have had it formally delivered as an agreement between the belligerents than to have merely mentioned it in the protocols, subject, on a future occasion, to be disputed or explained away, I think, with regard to the Circassian forts—although I do not know that Circassia has, during the war, even shown that energy we might have expected, or even that inclination to fight for her independence, which might have induced us to bind ourselves to them—yet I do consider that the power which Russia has of restoring those forts is a great means of confirming her power in the Black Sea. My hon. Friend (Mr. Layard) and the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Manners) have argued that Russia has no rights over Circassia. I believe her rights are confined to what were formerly the rights of Turkey. That Power had certain forts which she occupied by her garrisons; she had no sovereignty over the main land, her rights being confined to those forts. By the Treaty of Adrianople those forts were surrendered to Russia, who succeeded to the rights of Turkey, but to no more, and not one inch of ground beyond that which was occupied by the forts could she claim upon that account. Those forts, however, gave Russia the means of sending troops from Odessa and Sebastopol to the Asiatic coast. If I am told that no advantages could be obtained beyond those we have obtained, I confess, I would rather have beard that Russia had stipulated not again 2095 to occupy those forts than to have stipulated about the fortifications of the Aland Isles. I am aware that these stipulations were entered into with a view to the important interests of Sweden, but I would rather have given them up if I could have obtained the consent of Russia to abandon these Circassian forts, which had been already abandoned and destroyed during the war. Having made those criticisms, I will just remark upon one or two points brought under consideration by the protocols. Towards the end of the negotiations it appears that the French. Minister brought under consideration the state of the Belgian press, and objected to what, no doubt, are great excesses and a lamentable abuse of the freedom of the press, but which, as far as my experience goes, belongs to that very freedom, and is inseparable from it. Lord Chatham said that, like air, the press was a "chartered libertine;" and I am not aware that since his time the press has become less "libertine" or less "chartered." The freedom of the Belgian press is secured by the constitution, and the offences of the press arc punished by trial by jury; and, I think that no Ministry which the wise and constitutional Sovereign who presides over that country has ever had has ever proposed any alteration of the constitution upon the subject of the press, or has proposed to submit the press to a censorship, or to any more summary interference. I cannot but think, therefore, that, while we are all ready to say the Emperor of the French in his own dominions may regulate the press as he likes, if it be necessary for the peace and tranquillity of the country, without our having the least right of interference, yet, I think he should respect similar rights in others, and not call upon the Minister of England to do what must be most abhorrent to the feelings of the English nation—to interfere with the press of a foreign country. But there were other and far graver questions discussed in that Conference. The state of Greece—unfortunately a melancholy state—but one which, if examined, will show, not only much disorder, many outrages, great licence and corruption on the part of the Government, but also some of those proofs which any species of freedom and independence must produce in whatever part of the world it may be established. There is another subject, Sir, still more melancholy—the state of Italy. The state of Italy is what the hon. Gentleman who spoke last described 2096 it to be. I called the attention of my noble Friend at the head of the Government to that subject last Session, feeling confident that he would show, by his answer, how much he sympathised with the misfortunes of that misgoverned and much oppressed people. I was not disappointed. I heard the noble Lord enunciate sentiments perfectly satisfactory to me, and which showed that, if at any time he had the means, he would use his best endeavours to relieve them from the tyranny under which they suffered. Since then I have received from some persons protests and complaints as to my having spoken against the Italian Governments. I made further inquiries—looked into details, and the result has been I am more than confirmed in my original impression. I found the condition of the people in the Roman Legations was such as I could hardly have conceived. For instance, the police, having a suspicion of any man, however respectable, or of whatever rank, seize him, place him in a filthy dungeon, where they keep him for months, and, when asked, they refuse to grant him a fair trial; but at last tell him they are convinced there is nothing against him, and therefore they let him go. They let him out of prison in a place where he has no home and no means of following his profession, where he is subjected to a variety of restrictions, such as not being out after eight o'clock, and of not speaking to any suspected person. When he asks who are the suspected persons, he is told, "You know better than we who are suspected, but you must not speak to them." This is not only a tyranny over those unfortunate persons, but it is an oppressive atmosphere for all whom it encompasses. It must destroy the whole enjoyment of life, especially to men who, like the Italians, are quick in idea, sensitive in feeling, endowed with great imaginations, and aspiring to live under good government; to such a people a tyranny of this kind must be quite intolerable. Now, Sir, how is this state of things maintained? Why, by foreign intervention. We all know that there have been many foreign interventions since 1815, but such intervention has always been on account of the momentary overthrow of authority and of order to the momentary supremacy of some demagogical party; and when, after a short time, authority has exercised its legitimate sway, the foreign intervention has ceased. That has been the history of most foreign interventions 2097 since 1815. When we interfered in Portugal a few months saw our intervention at an end. But here is an intervention which has lasted for seven years. The time has surely come when we may ask, "Do you mean your occupation to be perpetual, or at what period do you propose to withdraw?" If the occupation be perpetual, it is the same as a Power seizing a territory which does not belong to it; it is an overthrow of the balance of power so far as that State is concerned. We should ask, too, "If you do not mean to occupy in perpetuity, what are the measures by which the authority of the legitimate Sovereign will be strengthened and be enabled to restore order?" That question might, I think, be answered; but it would be by the sacrifice of a good deal of the priestly power which has been the source of so much misgovernment in that unhappy country. It might also be answered by the sacrifice of the Austrian protectorate over Italy. I am very much in favour of the legitimate dominion of Austria, where she has a legitimate dominion. I think her position in the centre of Europe eminently useful to Europe, and that her influence and authority have often been used to withstand Powers more ambitious than herself. But she has no claim to the protectorate of Italy beyond what is given to her by the treaty of peace at Vienna in 1815; therefore, I trust that the words used by Lord Clarendon at the Conferences, and which I am assured by one who could not be mistaken, were stronger than those put in the protocol, will not be allowed to fall to the ground. Because, if you make a protest against the present state of Italy—if it is taken up by Austria with a refusal to discuss the question at all—you leave Italy in a worse state than you found it, and you will not be justified in what you have done. I have stated this strongly, but I have no intention of saying that Her Majesty's Government will not do all that it is possible to do on this subject. On the contrary, knowing that they will have the support of this House, and feeling, themselves, warmly on the subject, I believe they will take the measures that are necessary. I believe that those measures ought not to be hasty or abrupt. They should be conducted, in the first place, by counsel with the Emperor of the French, who found his troops in possession of Rome protecting the person of the Sovereign; and that in concert 2098 with the Emperor of the French we should speak the language of firmness and of reason to Austria. What should be the particular proposition, Government of course are to determine. It should be left to them to conduct the business. I think there should be no Resolution, no Address proposed on the subject, but that we should leave it entirely in the hands of the Government, evidently knowing, as I am sure they must know, that there is but one almost universal feeling in the country on this subject. But when speaking of the occupation of Italy by Austria, we must not forget that the people of the kingdoms of Naples and of Sicily are subjected to even a still more harsh and iniquitous rule than Italy. There is but one subject more that I shall touch upon, and that is, as to what the hon. Member for Aylesbury has said respecting the Motions which have been made in this House. I trust that with regard to the army the Government will take such measures, not with respect to regimental regulations, but with regard to the general staff of the army, as will make them more fit on a future occasion to meet the sudden requirements of a warlike state of things. But while I trust this will be their course, I hope they will not be led, I feel sure they will not be led, into the false notion that this country ought to be a great military Power. Although I believe that we are essentially a military people, and that in no long time we should be able to produce an army that would be able to cope with any other army in Europe, yet I trust that while we keep up, not only a respectable, but a considerable naval force, we shall not extend the expenses or the scale to our army. If we have an army well constituted and well commanded, with a better knowledge of the usages of war, there is no need whatever that that army should be of considerable extent. These are things which I think the Government ought to have full time to consider. It is a passage from war to peace. It is not a thing to be dealt with at once. A peace establishment requires great consideration, mature reflection, and a proceeding step by step before it is finally accomplished. But I do trust that such an establishment will be accomplished; and that former errors will not be allowed to be passed over because we are now at peace, but that every part of our establishments will be fully considered, and that without any pretence of our being a great military Power, we 2099 may do justice to our military spirit, and preserve our station in Europe as we deserve to maintain it, bright and unimpaired.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, it was his intention to submit to the House a considerable modification of the second paragraph of the Address which had been moved. In that second paragraph it was stated that the House had learnt with "joy and satisfaction that Her Majesty had been enabled to establish peace." Now, he had listened to every speech which had been uttered that night, but had failed to perceive any indications of such joy having been expressed by those who had supported the Address. No one had ventured to say that the people out of doors hailed the treaty with either joy or satisfaction. The seconder of the Address was a Gentleman who usually spoke with considerable vivacity, but in the performance of his present task he had altered his tone considerably. The noble Lord who had just sat down had manifested neither joy nor satisfaction. On the contrary, he had stated his objections to several provisions of the treaty. The treaty did not touch on the subject of Italy, to which the noble Lord had so largely adverted, and he (Lord C. Hamilton), therefore, deprecated the introduction of it. He was not about to touch upon the general policy of the war or the terms of the peace, but to confine himself to its bearings on the gallant inhabitants of Circassia, and to endeavour to prove to the House that it was impossible for Russia to set up any just claim in Circassia founded on any cession of territory by Turkey. The power of rebuilding forts on the Circassian coast would confer great advantage on Russia. In order to show how impossible it was for Russia to found a claim, more especially a right, to the coast of Circassia, he would go back to the case of the Vixen, which was first brought forward by the present Lord Stratford de Redcliffe when he had a seat in the House of Commons. The owners of that vessel attempted to open a trade with Circassia, but before leaving this country to do so, they applied at the Foreign Office to know if any treaty or arrangement existed to interfere with their trading with that coast. They received an evasive reply, stating that it was not the duty of the Foreign Office to give advice on such matters, and referring the owners to Lloyd's. They then applied to Lloyd's, and were informed that no 2100 blockade existed to prevent their going there. The vessel arrived at Constantinople, and there again the owners made inquiries at the British Embassy, and were informed that no official notification of any blockade had been received. The vessel had landed some small portion of her cargo at Soujouk-Kaleh, when a small Russian vessel of war made her a prize, for breach of fiscal and quarantine regulations. The ship was taken into Sebastopol, and claimed as a prize. The owners applied to the British Consul at Odessa, and were informed that no notice of any blockade had been received there. So long as the right of capture was defended on the plea of a breach of Custom House and quarantine regulations it seemed probable that the Russian Government would restore the vessel, as it was perfectly clear that no such regulations had ever been notified to the British Consuls either at Odessa or Constantinople; but the case having gone to St. Petersburg, Count Nesselrode represented to the British Ambassador that there was an actual military occupation of the spot where the goods were landed and de facto a blockade of the coast. That was a complete deception. Mr. Longworth, who visited the spot shortly after the affair of the Vixen, states his readiness to give evidence on oath of the complete want of truth in that assertion of the Russian Government; and the present Government should respect his evidence, as he was the person employed by them to carry on negotiations with the Circassian tribes during the recent war. Mr. Longworth states that the only fort or place that has any military occupation in that vicinity is Alexandrinsky, a small fort of the name of Doba having been enlarged by the Russians and so named by them. This fort is quite out of sight of the spot in the Bay of Semez where the Vixen was captured, being separated by a headland that projects into the sea. There is no road from it to the bay in question. The garrison were completely hemmed in by the Circassians, and their riflemen would have destroyed any force that attempted to penetrate through the woods that lay between the fort and the bay. In short, the Circassians in that locality would as soon expect an invasion from Constantinople as from that fortress. But the Circassians had no means of making the truth known. Our Ambassador was deceived and silenced, and the 2101 rights of the Circassians were sacrificed. The fort of Soujouk-Kaleh was originally a small factory, raised by the Circassians themselves. It became the residence of a Turkish Commissioner, and was ceded to the Turks. In 1783, in a formal treaty, Russia acknowledged the right of Turkey to Soujouk-Kaleh and two other forts, named Anapa and Pote, and upon that old treaty was based the claim of Russia to the whole territory of Circassia, The Russian Government maps, however, distinctly laid down the whole territory as belonging to free and independent tribes; and although Russia, by treaty, ceded these three forts to Turkey, they were never claimed by Turkey. The Turks were anxious to keep up relations of amity with the Circassians, for the sake of their own social and domestic comfort, and maintained constant commercial intercourse, but they never claimed the territory. They did not even maintain these forts for purposes of any military occupation, but merely as places for commercial intercourse, where Turkish Commissioners resided, and there never was the slightest attempt to raise revenue or soldiers in that country, or to claim the inhabitants as subjects. The matter came to a point in 1829, when the Treaty of Adrianople was signed. The Russians claimed of the Divan the cession of the whole territory. The answer of the Divan was straightforward enough—that they could not cede what had never been theirs. Russia insisted, however, upon what she called a trifling cession, but which was, nevertheless, the cession not only of the trifling rights that Turkey really possessed, but of the whole extensive and valuable territory peopled by the different tribes of Circassia, to which the Sultan had never at any time laid claim; and in the Treaty of Adrianople the whole of that territory was ceded to Russia by Turkey under protest. He denied that Russia ever had any right to that territory, and it was the more incumbent upon that House to interpose because England had unfortunately acquiesced in the claim of Russia. As the representatives, therefore, of a free people, he called upon them to insist upon an undertaking from the Government that the Circassians would not be handed over entirely to the power of Russia. The very termination of the war had placed the Circassians in a much worse position than they were before it broke out, owing to the immense augmentation of the forces and 2102 military material collected in the vicinity of their territory, and to the fact that by the terms of this treaty England and France acquiesced for the first time in the claims of Russia to the possession of that territory. Hitherto it has never been acknowledged to belong to Russia either by right of treaty or conquest. But the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) had declared he was not aware that the people of Circassia deserved very much of this country; indeed, it could not be denied that the feeling was pretty general that they seemed to regard the cause of the Allies with apathy. He would, however, beg the House to hesitate before it hastily joined in that condemnation of the Circassians—for there were many reasons to account for their not taking a more active part in the contest. In the first place their chiefs had been misled in the expectations which they had been induced to entertain that the seat of war would necessarily be in Asia. Having been summoned to Constantinople to concert measures against the common enemy, they left Turkey with the impression that they were to be aided by a large body of European troops, who were to serve as the nucleus of the army that was to oppose the Russians in Circassia. Now, he (Lord C. Hamilton) was quite sure that no absolute promise to that effect had ever been given, nevertheless encouragement had been held out justifying the expectation; and, therefore, when it was found that the allied generals had sailed for the Crimea, a feeling of disappointment and discouragement spread far and wide throughout Circassia, to dispel which nothing whatever was ever done. The House must bear in mind that these were a primitive people, who knew little of European politics, and whose whole feelings and interests were bound up in the gallant struggle they had so long maintained against the enormous power of Russia. They naturally looked to their own country as of the greatest importance. They wished to aid the Allies; but they having no regular army, no supplies, no commissariat, could not co-operate with regular troops in campaigns distant from their own homes. Their system of warfare resembles the ancient forays between Highland chieftains. Their ideas were, therefore, limited to operations near their own country, and they earnestly entreated a small body of regular troops with whom they could act—they at last reduced their requests 2103 to the presence of a single battalion—but the exigences of the Allies prevented even that small aid, so that they felt they were wholly neglected. Again, they must recollect, in estimating the claims of the Circassians upon them, how great had been the result of the attack which they made upon Tiflis, which compelled the Russian general to detach a corps d'armée to maintain that fortress. Another cause of the Circassians holding back was the unhappy differences with Mr. Longworth, the Commissioner—differences which undoubtedly were deeply to be regretted. Now, suppose the Circassians had said—"This is our time; Russia is in great straits, and we can make terms." Would any one be entitled to blame the Circassians if they had done so? Why, an assurance of their neutrality would have been, under the circumstances, an immense boon to Russia. But, no, the gallant people refused all the offers that were made to them, and they declined to take advantage of the excellent opportunity thus offered to them for the first time within five-and-twenty years. To leave the gallant people, therefore, as they were was certainly not the treatment which they deserved. For we had sent them a Commissioner—we had sent them arms as well as money, and had, in every way, placed them in direct hostility to the Russians. He must say, therefore, that a peace concluded as this one was, was not an honourable one. He would maintain also that the securities held forth in the treaty would prove wholly inefficacious. In the protocols, as well as in the treaty, there was an allegation of the neutrality of the Black Sea. What was the meaning of the term neutrality? They were told that the Black Sea was to be thrown open to the mercantile marine of the world. But how did that apply to the 250 miles of the Circassian coast; or what was meant by the declaration that it was to be open to them, "subject only to the regulations now in force." Why, the regulations on the Circassian frontier, for the last five-and-twenty years, had been a rigid blockade. What, then, was the meaning of the term "regulations now in force?" Even the noble Lord opposite did not quite approve of the power which had been given to rebuild the forts; but now, let him ask, what became of the neutrality if the forts were to be rebuilt? And let the House remark this power to rebuild was not confined to Anapa, Pole, and Soujouk-Kaleh, 2104 the three forts that did once belong to Turkey and might lawfully be ceded by her—but to all the forts constructed by Russia since the Treaty of Adrianople, whereby she endeavoured to maintain military sway over those gallant tribes. By this treaty we now for the first time formally recognise the unjust claim of Russia to the territory of that brave and free people. Again, at page 36, it was specified that the Black Sea was to be open to transports, which might be of any size. Why, they might include a vessel of the size of a 130-gun ship. Count Orloff contended that aboard these transports there should be a suitable armament, which was ultimately conceded by Lord Clarendon. Now, what was the meaning of a suitable armament? Who was to be the judge of what it was? The reply to that important question was adjourned at Paris. He hoped the Government would not upon this occasion follow the practice that had been pursued at the Conferences and adjourn the answer to all inconvenient questions, for adjournment seemed to him to mean an unconditional surrender to Russia. Again, the treaty of peace made mention of a full and complete amnesty to be granted by each of the contending Powers to such of its subjects as might have taken a part in the war antagonistic to it. Well, turning to another article, which bears upon and explains this amnesty, he would ask, what protection would it afford to the Circassians? He denied that the Circassians were the subjects of Russia, and therefore they were wholly excluded from the conditions of the amnesty. As a free and independent people they could not claim rights as subjects, and would therefore be exposed to the unmitigated vengeance of Russia. Unless, then, Her Majesty's Government could show that by the terms of the fifth article protection was secured to the Circassians, he should certainly press forward the Amendment which he had already sketched out. He would ask any man possessed of British feeling, whether it was consistent with the national spirit to approve of that article unless it secured protection for the Circassians. Nor were they without a precedent to guide them in obtaining for a people not directly concerned with a treaty of peace terms of security for the future against those with whom they might be at war. After the close of the last war, the inhabitants of Parga, a town in Albania, 2105 finding that they could no longer resist the attack of Ali Pasha, petitioned the British Government for relief, and begged to be placed under the same protection as the Ionian Islands. He (Lord C. Hamilton) was happy to say the appeal was responded to, and in the noblest manner, and the inhabitants were at once told they would not be left to the vengeance of the Turk. They were not only protected, but removed to a place of safety, and the sum of £150,000 was voted by Parliament to indemnify them for their losses consequent on leaving their former home. Upon the occasion of the discussion in that House, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, then at the commencement of his distinguished career, advocating with great zeal the claims of that gallant people, said—Would to God I could enter into the question of the cession of Parga with such effect as to be able to induce the House to commiserate the late and relieve the situation of a wronged and gallant people.After alluding to some anonymous writer who endeavoured to defend the transaction, the noble Lord proceeded—He thought the general opinion of mankind would be that this was a case of as notorious treachery and as grievous injury as any that had ever yet occurred in the world. And what had been the consequence as regarded our own reputation? Our enemies always alluded with extreme anxiety to the case of Parga as an instance of our acquiescence in oppression and our desertion of the cause of freemen, and they reproached us with this fatal inconsistency, that we, who for ages and throughout protracted wars had stood forward as the champions of the rights of nations, were content when the enemies of the Parguinotes required their submission and the surrender of their rights, to act in a very different character, and upon principles contrary to those on which we had hitherto unsheathed our swords." [2 Hansard, ij. 106.Now, he thought the case of the Circassians as well deserved the application of such eloquent language as those on whose behalf the noble Lord had spoken; and, he hoped the public spirit of this country had not degenerated, but that it would prove itself still ready to defend those gallant men who had so long defended their liberties against overpowering forces. Believing that, unless due security was given, these gallant people would not be protected from the vengeance of Russia, he should move the Amendment of which he had given notice.
§ Amendment proposed, in paragraph 2, line 3, to leave out the words "joy and2106
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
Sir, as during this discussion, many hon. Gentlemen have called for explanations upon various points from the Government, it is but due to them that those explanations should be given. I have listened with great pleasure to the speeches of my noble Friend the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) and my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard). No one can be better acquainted than the noble Lord with all that took place at Vienna, or than the hon. Member for Aylesbury with the state and condition of the Sultan's dominions; and, consequently, no Member of this House can be better qualified than they are to express an opinion upon the general provisions of the treaty. I was, therefore, much gratified to hear from them an unqualified approbation of the general terms of the treaty. I do not know even that we have much reason to complain of the observations of the noble Lord the Member for Colchester (Lord J. Manners), because, although he seems to be of opinion that it was impossible for us to make other than an ignominious peace, I think that even he has fully admitted that the treaty does accomplish all the objects for which the war was originally commenced. We have not, then, I think, much reason to complain of the noble Lord, who confined his objections to one point, omitted, as he said, from the treaty, but which appears to me never to have been contemplated as one of the objects of the war. The noble Lord has admitted the position maintained in the able speeches of the mover and seconder of the Address—namely, that the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire has been secured. He has admitted that, as regards the present, the integrity of that empire, both in Europe and Asia, is fully secured, and the only point upon which, in his opinion, the security of the Ottoman Empire is not attained for the future was, as regarded the state of those provinces lying between Russia proper and Turkey in Asia, and that opinion has been repeated by the noble Lord who has just sat down. The noble Lord who has just sat down has narrated various transactions which have taken place with regard to those provinces, of which I can only say, that I have never before heard of them. He has talked about our handing over to 2107 the dominion of Russia certain independent provinces, and has accused us of betraying those who were nobly struggling for liberty. Now, I can assure the noble Lord, that all nations gallantly struggling for freedom, will always command the sympathy of this House and of Her Majesty's Government; but, at the same time, I must ask him to explain what he means by our handing over provinces to the dominion of Russia, and also what are the provinces which we have so handed over? With regard to the Christian provinces, Georgia, Mingrelia, and Imeritia, the feelings of the population of those provinces were in favour of Russia rather than of the Allies, and certainly they took no active part against Russia in the prosecution of the war. Neither did they seek independence at our hands from the dominion of Russia, by whom they seemed to think they were well treated. The inhabitants of Daghestan, led by their gallant chief Schamyl, certainly were at war with Russia, but their territory is not on the Black Sea, but on the shores of the Caspian, and they have never co-operated with us. Nothing that the Government could do—except offering arms, which Schamyl declined—could possibly assist him in his operations. That chief did precisely what he pleased, and if report speaks the truth, very soon after the commencement of the war, there was a treaty made between him and Russia. Surely, then, the Government cannot be accused of handing Schamyl over to the Russians. The only people to whom such a charge might be supposed to apply, were those occupying that portion of the country in the neighbourhood of Anapa, with whom the Government were certainly in communication. But Her Majesty's Ministers never held out any expectation to them that they would land an army in Asia, with whom they might co-operate. The only occasion upon which, so far as I am aware, there was any question of co-operation between the Circassian or Abasian tribes and ourselves was, that in which an attack was made by our vessels on Soujouk-Kaleh. On that occasion the neighbouring tribes promised that they would operate on the land side, if we undertook to attack upon the sea side. Well, we did so; the Russians were driven out by the shells from our vessels, but the tribes did not appear at all, and the Russians retired unmolested, when they might all have been cut off. The accounts received so 2108 late as November last from the neighbourhood of Anapa, informed us that the people there were not disposed in the slightest degree to co-operate with us—that, on the contrary, they looked upon us almost in the light of enemies, because we endeavoured to interfere upon a point involving what the noble Lord (Lord C. Hamilton) so delicately calls their arrangements for the social and domestic comforts of the inhabitants of Constantinople, or, in other words, with selling their children as slaves. What, then, does the noble Lord mean, by saying that we handed over provinces to Russia? By the treaty of Adrianople, Turkey ceded to Russia the forts on the coast of Circassia, but it did not cede the territory of Circassia, because it did not belong to Turkey to cede; and that district is now, as regards its internal position, in precisely the same condition as it was before the war began. As to the Asiatic provinces of Turkey, the treaty expressly stipulates that the territories of Russia and Turkey in Asia shall be as they were before the war. As to the apprehension of the noble Lord that those districts will be subject to blockade, the treaty expressly states that—Free from any impediment, the commerce in the ports and waters of the Black Sea shall be subject only to regulations of health, customs, and police, framed in a spirit favourable to the development of commercial transactions.And that is the treaty to which Russia has pledged herself. As regards the districts to which the noble Lord refers, I must inform him that they are districts over which there is no fixed Government, and that consequently there is great difficulty in treating with them. Each chief is something like a Highland laird of the olden time, and in his own territory is independent of all control and acknowledges no superior; so that in order to treat with them, the first thing to be done must be to establish a Government, guarantee its continuance, and then secure some kind of alliance with that Government. I can only repeat that the condition of those provinces now is exactly the same as it was before the war began. I do not mean to say that if the war had continued the establishment of some sort of independence of Circassia might not have been attempted. I do not mean to say that if an independent country could have been set up between Russia on the one hand and Persia on the other hand, great benefits might not have been gained. But that assuredly was not 2109 the object for which the war was undertaken, and the question therefore resolves itself into this—should we have been justified in continuing the war on that ground, when the objects of the war, namely, the independence and integrity of Turkey, had been attained? The hon. Member for Aylesbury spoke of the "larger area" over which the contest must have spread if other objects had been attempted; and the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Monckton Milnes) has lamented that the independence of Poland is not secured, and that the condition of Italy remains as it was. I regret the state both of Italy and of Poland; but, if the Government is to be blamed for not having secured the independence of Poland and the freedom of Italy, I believe that is a censure in which the great body of this House will not join. The forts along the Circassian coast were in the possession of Russia before the war begun, and there is no more reason why we should stipulate that those forts should not be rebuilt than there is for stipulating that the Turks should destroy their forts at Varna or at any other point on the coast of the Euxine. But in forming our judgment on these various questions, I agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Layard) in thinking that the treaty should be examined generally, and not with reference only to one single point. What is done for the security of Turkey? That object is effectually provided for by taking away from Russia the power of attacking Turkey suddenly and with an overpowering force by sea; it is provided for by the fact that Russia binds herself, in common with the other Powers represented in the late Conferences at Paris, to respect the independence and integrity of Turkey, and it is further secured by a treaty which has been laid on the table this day, and has been concluded between Austria, France, and England, guaranteeing the independence of the Porte. We have no right to treat Russia as a Power so faithless that she will break treaties as soon as they are made; and so far as can be done by treaty obligations, I assert that the independence and integrity of the Turkish Empire are fully secured by the treaty now under consideration. As to the other points embraced in it, the hon. Member for Aylesbury, well acquainted as he is with the condition of Turkey, has stated that with respect to the articles relating to the condition of the Christians, we have got more 2110 than he thought we could possibly have obtained. I was glad to hear the opinion expressed by him, that the firman securing to the Christians equal rights and privileges ought not to have been included in the treaty; our desire was to treat Turkey as an independent nation, and by doing so less opportunity is afforded to any Power at any future time to interfere in her internal arrangements. With respect to the Principalities, an hon. Member inquired whether the divan is to be elected during the occupation of the Austrian troops? The hon. Gentleman will find in one of the protocols that Count Buol declares that immediate measures will be taken for the evacuation of the Principalities by the troops of his Imperial master; and it is clearly understood that the Principalities are to be free from Austrian interference previously to any step which they may take for the future settlement of their affairs. With regard to the arrangements for the improvement of the navigation of the Danube, I have heard no dissatifaction expressed by any person as to the provisions introduced into the treaty on that subject. Those provisions are a great improvement upon what was contemplated at Vienna. The Russians are removed altogether from the banks of the Danube, and they have no power therefore to interfere with the navigation. I cannot help thinking that, seeing how the obligations which devolved upon Russia with respect to the navigation of this river have been hitherto neglected, there would have been but little security for the future freedom of the Danube if she had been left in possession of either bank. The next point to which some objection appears to be taken is the arrangement with regard to the neutrality of the Black Sea. At Vienna the proposal was to limit the Russian force, allowing her to retain a certain number of vessels of large size. Now, I cannot help thinking the present arrangement of neutralisation is a very much better one. The number of ships which Russia is allowed to retain in the Black Sea is reduced to ten light vessels of about the size of our second class gunboats. It has been objected by hon. Members that this provision of the treaty may easily be evaded. Now, it is difficult to provide a form of words which cannot be evaded by persons desirous of doing so, in the same way that it is said that there is no Act of Parliament through, which a coach and six may not be driven. 2111 So far, however, as words go, I think we have a security that the naval force I have mentioned will not be exceeded by Russia. No doubt it is true that gunboats may be built by her in some part of the rivers which run into the Black Sea, and guns may be provided for their equipment. But, could we decently impose on Russia the obligation that she should not build, at any distance from the Black Sea, in any of the rivers which run into that sea, vessels which upon occasion might not be converted into gunboats? Why, barges and lighters might upon an emergency be converted into gunboats, and to provide that no such vessels should be built would be carrying jealousy and prohibition somewhat too far. An hon. Member also said that merchantmen may be brought into the Black Sea, which may be subsequently armed. No doubt they may; but are we therefore to prohibit commerce in the Black Sea, and to say that Russia shall have no trading vessels there because they may hereafter be improperly used? To carry out our jealousy of Russia to such an extent would be entirely to defeat the object we had in view, which was to convert the Black Sea into a sea of commerce. We have no reason to suppose that Russia will not abide by her treaties, but, taking matters at the worst, this point at least has been gained—Russia cannot create in a moment a large naval force for purposes of aggression; and long before such a force could be called into existence, the British or French fleet would pass the Bosphorus and would sweep the waters of the Euxine as they have swept it before. Therefore, supposing—which I cannot believe to be possible—that Russia should attempt to break the treaty, ample time is given to us to guard against the effect of such a breach of faith. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) has expressed a fear that the people of the Crimea may not be treated well by the Russians. I am not aware that many of those people have at all subjected themselves to any hostility on the part of the Russian Government, but such as have will be protected by the amnesty contained in the fifth article of the treaty, than which nothing can be more complete and explicit. The stipulations in regard to the Aland Islands are of great importance. Those islands hung over Stockholm as much as Sebastopol hung over Constantinople, and, I think, that beyond those objects for 2112 which the war was undertaken, we have attained a great advantage in securing to a great extent the independence of Sweden both as regards the Aland Islands, and the districts in Finmark from the aggression of Russia. These are the principal stipulations of the treaty, and to me they seem to be stipulations which we ought to receive with joy and satisfaction. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Layard) thinks that the country is disappointed because the character of England has, during the progress of the late war, fallen in the estimation of Europe. I do not believe that such has been the case. I admit that at one time the complaints and misrepresentations of persons in this country, who did all they could to destroy its character, produced some effect on the minds of foreigners who made no allowance for our constitutional privilege and habit of grumbling, but I believe that all such feelings have been entirely removed by the events of the last year, and by the present condition of the British army in the Crimea. I have been informed by an eyewitness that the other day nearly 40,000 British troops were reviewed on the heights before Sebastopol, and that they turned out, to the admiration of the French, and to the astonishment of the Russian army, in such order that, were they being reviewed in Hyde Park, they could not have been in better health or more perfect condition. I agree with my noble Friend the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) that it would be most unwise, impolitic, and wrong to attempt to maintain a large standing army in this country, but I do hope that we shall from this war learn the important lesson that nothing can be such bad economy or so cruel to our troops as to deprive ourselves in time of peace of the means of sending out properly equipped, with the necessary auxiliary means, any force which it may in future be found indispensable to send from our shores. I do not think that any one can doubt our ability to send out a powerful fleet. Circumstances have prevented the navy from signalising itself so much as might have been desired during the late war; but all that was in its power it accomplished in a manner which was worthy of its former credit. I believe that if there is any want of enthusiasm in favour of the peace it is due in a great measure to the disappointment felt by the country that we cannot employ those magnificent forces which the liberality of Parliament has enabled the 2113 Government to provide for carrying on the war. That feeling, I am convinced, will be but a transient one, and I am certain that the more the country looks into the treaty the more it will feel that the ends of the war have been attained, the better satisfied it will be both with the conduct of the war and with its termination, and the more disposed to hail the peace, in the words of the Address, with joy and satisfaction. Having attained the objects for which the war was undertaken, having provided for the safety of the Ottoman Empire, by depriving Russia of her ready means of assaulting it and by admitting that empire into the family of European nations, I do not think that we should have been justified in continuing the war, or that, had we continued it, we should have had a right to expect that Divine blessing which has hitherto crowned our exertions with success. I agree with my noble Friend the Member for London, that the alliances which we have formed, and the admission of Turkey into the system of European politics are additional securities for the maintenance of peace. I hope that the pacification which has just been concluded will be an enduring one; and, notwithstanding the opinions which have been expressed against it, I think that we are justified in saying that it is one which is honourable to the country, which has attained the object for which the war was undertaken. I therefore hope the House will reject the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone, and carry the Address by a large majority.
§ MR. LINDSAY moved the adjournment of the debate to to-morrow.
said, that he had precedence to-morrow for a Motion on the subject of education. He felt that it would be unbecoming in him to prevent the continuance of a debate on an Address to the Crown on such an important question; but, as he had last year postponed the same Motion in order to afford time for the discussion of a question of peace or war, he thought he had a claim upon the Government for a day. Friday had been given up by the hon. Baronet the Member 2114 for Hertfordshire (Sir B. Lytton), and he hoped that that day would therefore be granted to him (Mr. Walpole).
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he should feel very happy to comply with the right hon. Gentleman's request, for the very courteous manner in which the right hon. Gentleman discharged his duties in that House must make every one anxious to defer to him as much as possible. He regretted, however, that in the present instance it was not in his power to concur in the arrangement which the right hon. Gentleman had suggested. He quite agreed with him that, as the debate was founded on a message from the Crown, it was fitting that it should be continued without interruption. If they had arrived at the end of the Session when, in the ordinary course of affairs, there would be no probability of the right hon. Gentleman being able to bring on his Motion until many hon. Members had left town, the right hon. Gentleman would, no doubt, have a strong claim upon the Government to appoint some day for his Motion, but at the present period of the Session the appeal, he thought, was somewhat premature. An arrangement had been made by which the Police Bill was to be brought forward on Friday, which could not be disturbed. Although the hon. Baronet whose Motion had been fixed for Friday had postponed it, it was only a postponement, and the hon. Baronet no doubt believed himself to be entitled to the reversion of another day, in substitution for Friday, whenever he should think the proper time for bringing on his Motion had arrived.
said, he must acknowledge the importance of losing no opportunity of proceeding with so important a Bill as the Police Bill, and would, therefore, be content to waive his claim on Friday. He would try the ballot once more; but so strong was his sense of the importance of the subject that, if he failed, he should feel justified in bringing his measure forward some day on the Motion for going into Committee of Supply.
§ Debate adjourned.
§ The House adjourned at Two o'clock.