§ MR. MAGUIRE
I appear, Sir, not only on behalf of a British, subject who has been wronged in his property, but in vindication of a principle which every man in this House holds dear. It has been proclaimed over and over from the Treasury Bench that England is not alone the home of liberty, but the propagandist of freedom. The case to which I am about 811 to refer, proves that Her Majesty's Government have violated that principle of freedom; and I stand here to demand an explanation of the reasons which induced them to commit an act which, if properly understood by this country, ought to bring a blush of shame to the cheek of every Englishman. Liberty of the press is no longer a cant phrase in this country; it is a household word—a creed which the nation professes, and, better than professes, believes. Her Majesty's Government have violated that principle; and in their manner of doing so, they have done more to degrade the dignity and character of the country than any misguided Government has almost ever done by their official blunders. The British Government have, so far as they could, suppressed a British paper, published in London by a naturalized British subject, an elector of the City of London—one who pays his rates and taxes like any Englishman. The gentleman to whom I refer—M. Zenos—is a Greek by birth, but he has lived fourteen years in this country; and if he have any one feeling stronger than another, it is admiration of the laws and institutions of England, and of the genius and virtues of her people. I am rather stating the feelings of M. Zenos than my own. This gentleman, who is engaged in extensive mercantile transactions, and who is well known in the City, having also a taste for literary pursuits, established a paper, some two years since, with the noble and patriotic object of infusing, so far as he was able, European ideas and civilization, together with a knowledge of European progress, into European Turkey, but especially among his compatriots of the East, whether in Greece proper, or in the Ottoman Empire. The main portion of this paper, which is printed in modern Greek, and profusely illustrated, is devoted to literary, scientific, and artistic subjects. The illustrations are of the highest order of art; and as to the literary portion of it, those who have had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the British Star, speak of it in terms of praise. I hold in my hand a copy of the paper; and it is necessary that I should call particular attention to the fact that the political part, which consists but of four pages, can be easily separated from the main body of the paper. The political portion of the British Star, consists of articles partly original and partly copied from the leading journals of England. Among the latter there 812 would occasionally appear a thundering leader from the Times, or perhaps a spicy article from the Saturday Review. Only four pages, however, are devoted to political matter; the great bulk of the paper being devoted to subjects of a literary, scientific, or artistic nature. It is essential that this description should be borne in mind, as the sequel will show how important it, is in understanding the hard case of this British newspaper. On the 3rd of May, M. Zenos, the proprietor of the British Star, received a communication from Mr. Hill, the Tinder Secretary of the Post Office, informing him that, at the request of the Ottoman Government, received through Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, the Postmaster General had given directions to the British Postmaster at Constantinople not to deliver, but to return to this country, all copies of the British Star which might reach his office. Practically, this order amounted to a suppression of this newspaper in European Turkey. Could anything be worse than this in France? No; this was worse than that which we deprecate in France. In France, before a newspaper is suppressed, two warnings are given to its conductors. But the British Government, without any warning whatever, practically suppressed a British newspaper. The representative of the greatest Power has thus degraded himself, his Government, and his country, by becoming the instrument of one of the vilest despotisms in the world. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen may laugh, but I will prove what I assert. In this letter of the 3rd of May, the reason why the paper was suppressed is thus given—" it being alleged by the Porte that such newspaper contains articles inciting to revolt against the Government and laws of Turkey." The letter did not state that the allegation had been proved, or that the noble Lord the Foreign Minister, or the Under Secretary, had read these articles, and endorsed the statement of the Ottoman Government. The paper was suppressed in consequence of a simple allegation; and thus the British Government, the representative of the greatest Power in the world, made itself the catspaw of the vilest despotism in the world. M. Zenos immediately wrote to the noble Lord the Foreign Minister, denying that any such articles had appeared in his paper; and in proof of that assertion he forwarded to the Foreign Office a file of the paper for the current year. After 813 stating what his object was in establishing the British Star, M. Zenos adds—My paper has been very often in opposition to the Government of King Otho, and has pointed out, from time to time, the abuses that exist in the administration of affairs in Greece. It is this opposition, I fear, my Lord, that has caused the Government of the Sultan to apply to that of England, to prevent the circulation of my paper in Turkey. For, a short time since, M. Barotsi, dragoman of the Greek Legation in Constantinople, meeting my father, who is my agent in that capital, told him, that as I persisted in my opposition to the Government of King Otho, he, Barotsi, would use all his influence with the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Turkey, to get him to suppress the circulation of the British Star in that country.I hope the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary will be able to state that he was ignorant of any such contemptible intrigue. M. Zenos however makes a proposal, to which I beg to call special attention—Should your Lordship, after what I have stated, still feel not justified in removing the prohibition placed on my paper, I beg to propose, that my paper being divided into two sections—one literary and scientific, and the other political, the former be permitted to pass through the British post-office, pending the settlement of this question. I have been at very considerable expense in preparing woodcuts illustrative of the International Exhibition. All this expenditure will be in a great measure thrown away if I be prevented sending my paper to Turkey, and the Greek population of that country will also be deprived of any knowledge of this great exhibition of international industry; and as the British Star, independently of its political views, has been the chief literary as well as scientific instructor of my compatriots of the Ottoman Empire, I trust your Lordship will see fit to grant my petition.What did the noble Lord say to this reasonable and moderate request? He had the following curt and snubbing answer written to this gentleman:—I am directed by Earl Russell to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 8th inst., in which, after adverting to the fact that the British Postmaster at Constantinople has been ordered not to distribute a paper called the British Star, you request that the literary and scientific portions of that journal maybe forwarded separately, and I am to state in reply that Lord Russell cannot comply with your request.M. Zenos was utterly amazed. For what had he proposed to do? To eliminate from his journal all that was political, or that could possibly give offence, and to confine it exclusively to that which would not only be harmless and unobjectionable, but useful and beneficial. You take pride in your International Exhibition, and you boast of the advantages which it is certain to confer on this country, as well as on all 814 other countries that obtain a knowledge of the advance which it evidences in the material and artistic progress of the world M. Zenos was anxious to impart that information to his compatriots in European Turkey; but the British Government denied him the means and opportunity of so doing. M. Zenos was bewildered; he could not understand what this refusal meant; and after acknowledging the receipt of the last communication from the Foreign Office, he ventured to ask his Lordship the Foreign Minister his reasons for not granting his request. The House has often heard of Irish bulls; but the noble Lord—who has none of the vivacity of character which accounts for trivial mistakes of the kind, and which even redeems some of the faults of my countrymen, but who is distinguished, on the contrary, for all the coldness of the genuine John Bull—fell into one of the most absurd blunders of which I have ever heard, in his reply to M. Zenos. On the 16th of May this reply was sent; and with respect to the language and its sense I certainly cannot congratulate the noble Lord or the hon. Gentleman opposite, if he had any hand in its composition. It was as follows:—I am directed by Earl Russell to state to you, in reply to your letter of the 13th inst., that the political character of the newspaper called the British Star is sufficient to justify the British Post Office at Constantinople.M. Zenos proposed to eliminate the political portion of the journal, and only to send abroad the literary and scientific sheets, which were not only unobjectionable but positively beneficial. This the noble Lord could not allow—why? Because of the political character of the paper? Was that a practical bull, or was it not? Now, I ask for the demand, or request, made by the Ottoman Government, in which this correspondence originated, and for the correspondence between the British Ambassador and the Home Government, in order that some explanation may be given of an act which is a disgrace to this country. When I was asked by M. Zenos to bring this subject before Parliament, I urged him to tell me if any articles really had appeared in the British Star of the character attributed to them—namely, of inciting to revolt in Turkey; and the answer given to that question was, that no such articles were published in his paper; and that in addressing, as he did, the highest class of 815 his comptriots in the East, his chief object was to bring about as speedily as possible the realization of the solemn promises made by the Turkish Government to the Great Powers, and guaranteed by treaties in favour of the Christian subjects of the Porte. I then asked him, "How can you account for this hostility to your paper? I cannot discover any valid reason on the face of the correspondence. Have you offended any one in authority?" M. Zenos could only account for the hostility shown towards him by the British Government or the Foreign Office, by the fact that he had inserted an article throwing ridicule upon certain statements of the hon. Gentleman opposite in reference to the Turkish loan, and which may have hurt the susceptibilities, financial or otherwise, of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. That hon. Gentleman is no longer Chairman of the Ottoman Bank, the agent for the Ottoman Loan; he is, I understand, only a shareholder in that concern; but he still no doubt regards it with a kind of parental affection, and anything said against the Turkish Loan naturally excites his indignation. On the 14th of March, in reply to the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Freeland) the Under Secretary gave a glowing description of Turkish finances and Turkish reforms. He was asked by the hon. Member for Chichester to produce a document which was one of the ablest State papers ever presented to the House, and which, if anything could, might, if acted upon, prove the salvation of the Ottoman Empire. The document I refer to is the Report of Mr. Foster and Lord Hobart on the financial condition of Turkey. It was signed at and sent from Constantinople on the 7th of December, and reached the Foreign Office on the 20th of December. When the hon. Member for Chichester moved for that paper, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary, asked him not to persevere in his request, as the production of the Report might defeat the object for which it had been drawn up, and which the Turkish Government had in view. I venture to think that the object with which the Report had been refused on that occasion was to prevent it from damaging the Turkish Loan, which had been puffed from the Treasury Bench. If I had not a high respect for the personal honour of those who sit on that bench, I would say the Turkish Loan had been puffed by them for the purpose of "rigging the market;" 816 but I would not say anything of the kind, for I have too much respect for the personal honour and character of the gentlemen who occupy an exalted position. I must however ask, whether, in his speech, in reply to the hon. Member for Chichester, the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs faithfully represented the financial position of that rotten empire, Turkey? His statements on that occasion and those contained in the Report do not agree; and if the latter had been analysed, and if that analysis had been read over at the Stock Exchange, hon. Members would not have heard much of the success of the Turkish Loan. The article of the British Star combated the statements of the Under Secretary, and ridiculed the alleged progress and prosperity which he described. The Under Secretary described a number of reforms which had been inaugurated in Turkey. He stated, among other improvements, that the Sultan had cut down his Civil List, and effected certain reforms in his palace, and that his Majesty's example was certain to be followed by the officials of the empire. It is, I believe, the fact that the present Sultan dismissed certain employés who had been in the service of his brother, and that he has likewise discharged a number of the unhappy women who formed the harem of the late ruler of the Turkish empire. It is a fact that he has effected the latter reform; but having applied the broom of reform pretty freely to the seraglio, the reigning potentate sent his agents into Georgia and Circassia, and culled some of the fairest flowers to be found in the mountains and plains of those countries, which have been so long famous for the beauty of their female inhabitants, and which have contributed so largely to form the harems of successive sultans. Indeed, I believe it may be asserted that the harem of the present ruler of Turkey is furnished as well, and with as little regard to cost, as that of any of his illustrious predecessors—a fact which may be of some slight interest to those who are influenced by Oriental sympathies. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs proceeded to say that the very first selection made by His Majesty the present Sultan was that of a distinguished financial reformer, whom he (Mr. Layard) lauded to the stars as a man of genius—a gentleman named Achmet Effendi. To him was intrusted the property given to mosques and religious bodies for religious purposes; and he (Mr. Layard) 817 mentioned some of the reforms which Achmet Effendi had been able to carry out. But did the hon. Gentleman know at the time that this distinguished reformer had been dismissed shortly before his laudatory statement was made. The dismissal of Achmet Effendi took place before the time the hon. Gentleman made his statement. In reference to this department and this minister, the Commissioners— Mr. Foster and Lord Hobart—say, in page 30 of their Report—The Minister, however, who was appointed to take charge of this department, since our arrival here had commenced the introduction of a superior system of accounts, and by his reforms had, in the few months of his administration, greatly improved the financial position of this department. We heard, therefore, with regret that this intelligent officer had been dismissed.So much for the reforms, and the manner in which the reformer has been treated by a reforming Government. The hon. Gentleman represented that the Turkish debt amounted to only £14,000,000. In the Report of Mr. Poster and Lord Hobart that amount swelled out to £46,000,000, which did not include enormous sums taken under various pretences from Greek and Armenian merchants. These sums, borrowed from the Christian subjects of the Porte, have not been paid back, and in too many instances the loss of this money has brought ruin and bankruptcy upon eminent mercantile houses. If hon. Members look into the subject, and read the valuable Report of the English Commissioners, they will find that the state of things existing in Turkey is very bad indeed. With respect to "income tax" in that country, the local authorities to whom the tax is farmed could assess a man to any amount they pleased, and it depended afterwards upon the correctness of the accounts of the provincial or district authorities, whether a taxpayer might not have to pay his portion three or four times over. The Report says that—The amount of 'verghi' payable by each person is decided annually by the authorities of the town or village to which he belongs. The distribution, which is ostensibly based upon the relative wealth of each member of the community, has hitherto been made in the rudest, most informal, mid most arbitrary manner. The consequence has been that all kinds of unfairness, favouritism, and unjust exaction, have prevailed in the assessment of the impost, and that the wealthier classes have usually escaped with a very light application, or with no application at all, of the tax, which therefore falls with additional weight upon the poorer portion of the community.818 Some attempt at reforming this monstrous abuse has been made in one or two places. Let Gentlemen who feel so uneasy at an additional penny in the pound on their income tax appreciate this delightful state of things, and then consider how pleasant it would be if they had to pay their taxes two or three times over, instead of once. And yet the Commissioners tell us that this kind of thing frequently occurs. The taxpayer is in ignorance as to the amount he has to pay—no receipt or written discharge is given to him—and "the payers are liable to be, and frequently are, called upon to pay the same amount of tax twice, and even three times over." The collection of the "Rachat," or tax for exemption from military service, is equally unsatisfactory, equally arbitrary, and equally oppressive to the individual. This is levied on the Christian subjects, who are not allowed to bear arms. The Customs are farmed out, the clerks are badly paid, and the corruption of the officials is matter of notoriety. I believe there is scarcely any other country, boasting of even the rudest civilization, in which there is not an effective system of postage established by the Government; but even the environs of Constantinople are without the most ordinary means of communication by letter. Twenty times over, in their Report, the Commissioners urge on the Government of the Porte the necessity of roads for internal communication. One instance of the neglect of this progressive Government may be given, and I take it from the Report of the Commissioners. Corn is worth thirty to forty piastres per kilo, at the seaboard, which same corn does not pay the cultivator more than four to five piastres—the difference being made up by the cost and the difficulties of transit. Yes, there was an attempt at reform last year, but it was in the wrong direction. Under the head of "Ministry of Commerce and Public Works," there is a reduction of £20,000; but this is at the expense of the repairs of streets, roads, and bridges. There is another attempt at reform, but it is also stupid and jealous. Some facilities, though under restrictions of a capricious nature, are to be allowed to the subjects of the Porte to work mines in Turkey; but no encouragement is given —in fact, no permission is to be allowed —to any Frank or foreign Company to work the mines of that country ["Question !"] I am keeping to the question. M. Zenos endeavoured to show up that 819 state of things for the purpose of bringing about its reform. Is that a crime? Is it a crime of The Times to censure a Government for its short-comings, or to suggest reforms? If not, is M. Zenos to be punished for having followed so illustrious an example? It is of importance that the House and the country should know what is the real state of things which the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary is constantly puffing. In the office of the Ministry of War, as in other public offices, the clerks, who are miserably paid, can only get an increase through interest. Superannuations, or pensions, depend altogether on the amount of interest which the recipients can employ to obtain them. In the army, the authorities demand payment in rations and clothing, and pay for more men than are actually in the different regiments. In the navy things are as bad. The Capitan Pasha has had his pay raised from £10,000 to £13,000; while the captains of vessels receive but £40 a year, and rations in proportion to their rank. All the inferior officers are miserably paid, and yet they must live. What is the state of the tribunals? The judges are paid by fees, and are liable and open to corruption. In fact, they are notoriously the most corrupt in the world. "It is asserted," say the Commissioners, "that in some instances (at Acre, for instance) the office of judge has been farmed out to the highest bidder." Of the provincial police, Lord Hobart and Mr. Foster say the people prefer the brigands to them. In the Admiralty stores there is a storekeeper, but there are no accounts—no regular check upon the articles received and issued; and when the Commissioners inquired if no books were kept, they were shown a rude memorandum book. In fact, there is no proper system of accounts, or anything approaching it, kept in Turkey; and the whole system is corrupt and rotten—one of peculation and robbery, plunder and oppression. The reforms are up to this merely nominal, and I believe that the few which have been attempted, have been attempted solely for the purpose of making a demand upon the purse of the English nation. We have been led to believe that the state of the Ottoman finances was most promising. But what is the fact? The Commissioners state that the deficiency on the current year— that is, the year 1861—was £2,920,000; and for this year they calculated on a deficiency, or an excess of expenditure over 820 revenue, of £1,700,000. And yet the House was told in March last of some telegram announcing a surplus for this year's budget of £800,000. I should like to know how that surplus, which must exist in the imagination rather than in reality, has been made out. I think it would require a more accomplished financier than the Under Secretary to reconcile this gratifying surplus with the figures of the Commissioners. Where, I ask, is the wonderful prosperity and progress we have been hearing of?—where the splendid field for the investment of British capital? M. Zenos has told the truth in his paper in reference to all this, and the result has been the practical suppression of his paper in our Constantinople post-office. But there is something more important than a mere question of finance. To save this rotten empire you spent £100,000,000 of money, and I shall not say how many human lives; and yet how have the promises made by this wretched Government been carried out? Turkey was saved from the grasp of Russia by France, England, and Sardinia—three Christian Powers; and by the treaty of Paris, in 1856, to which the Great Powers were parties, partly out of gratitude, and partly from necessity, it guaranteed to its Christian subjects certain rights, which up to this moment have not been conceded— not one of them. Is the Christian yet on an equality with the Turk before the judge of a native tribunal? Nothing of the kind; and yet it was by Christian arms that this wretched empire was saved from destruction. The law of Turkey at this moment is the law of the Koran, which says that the evidence of any one Turk is to outweigh that of a whole village of unbelievers; so that the evidence of a Turk, no matter how mean his position or how bad his character, would be received in preference to the evidence of any number of Christians, no matter how respectable or trustworthy. Is this a state of things which we, as a Christian people, are to endure? This is the year 1862—six years after the treaty of Paris, in which this equality of civil rights was guaranteed; and yet no step has been taken to redeem that most important of all the stipulations. Who are these Turks?—what are their numbers? The Turks in European Turkey are not 2,000,000 in number, and yet by a policy of savage cunning they keep down 12,000,000 Christians; because the latter are not allowed the use of arms—not al- 821 lowed to become soldiers, although they are subjected to a poll tax, arbitrarily imposed, and more oppressively collected. Again, no Christian can hold landed property in his own name; he might do so in the name of some female of his family, because it is thought that at one time or another she may become the property of the Mussulman. ["Oh!"] It is a fact. M. Zenos sought to purchase land in Smyrna in his own name, but he has not been allowed, though he might have done so in the name of his sister. Other matters were guaranteed by the Treaty of Paris, but, like those I have mentioned, nothing has been done to realize them to the Christian subjects of the Porte. Now, M. Zenos does not incite to revolt against the laws and government of Turkey; but he does advocate the fulfilment of that compact which this country was a party to, when it spent its blood and treasure in the vain attempt to prop up this rotten despotism.
[The hon. Member then quoted passages from the Earl of Carlisle's "Diary in Turkish Waters," in which the decaying state of the Turkish Empire is vividly described. The hon. Member then proceeded—]
And yet this is the country, and these are the people, for which and for whom we have laid heavy burdens upon ourselves, and imposed heavy liabilities upon those who will come after us. And when M. Zenos endeavours, through his journal, to infuse English notions, English civilization, into this country, is Her Majesty's Government to place an interdict on his Journal? I might give another reason why M. Zenos' newspaper does not find favour in the eyes of the hon. Member the Tinder Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The hon. Member last year made a speech, denouncing the Greeks, and treating them contemptuously, and a Greek gentleman wrote from Paris a stinging letter, which must have galled the hon. Gentleman, and that letter appeared prominently in this Greek journal. Upon the Christian population of Turkey rest its entire hopes of progress or prosperity. The Christian element is the only active element; and of the Christian population the Greeks are the most active, the most energetic, and the most enterprising. Lord Carlisle shows how it is the Greek peasant that tills the fields and thrives, while the Turk "reclines, smokes his pipe, and decays." The fact is that 822 the trade, commerce, and civilization of Turkey—at least such civilization as it possesses—are all owing to the Greeks. They are its greatest and most successful merchants there, as they are amongst the proudest merchants of this country. They love art, and literature, and refinement, and they diffuse some of that refinement around them. M. Zenos has the spirit of his countrymen in those respects, and he uses his paper as a means of promoting their improvement. Well, it is just at the moment when M. Zenos is going to a large expense in order to show his countrymen abroad the nature and Character of the International Exhibition, of which this country is so proud, that the British authorities deprive him of the power of diffusing that civilizing knowledge. I call upon the hon. Gentleman to state what is the real cause of this conduct. I cannot understand how a Government, which is the propagandist of revolution in other countries, would not allow the breath of free opinion to circulate in Turkey. Why did the hon. Gentleman, who can make speeches about the spread of light in Naples and Rome, prevent the progress of a journal, such as I have described, in a country which requires the breath of free opinion more than any other country in the world? I ask the hon. Gentleman to lay on the table the documents which I move for, and I call on the Government to withdraw from the perilous and shameful position they have assumed; perilous, because it compromises their honour and the great principle which they advocate—and to do justice at this late hour to this gentleman, who has expended much capital in the attempts to carry out the noble and patriotic object which he has in view. That object is the elevation and improvement of his compatriots in the East. I shall now conclude, Sir, by calling on the hon. Gentleman to explain what he has done in reference to the prohibition of which I complain, and to say whether he will allow free circulation to the British Star through the British Post-office in Constantinople; and I hope, Sir, that the hon. Gentleman will be able to show, from authentic documents, that the state of things in Turkey is more satisfactory and more hopeful than has been described in the paper of M. Zenos, or in the Report of our own Commissioners.
To leave out from the word "That" to the
end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies of all Correspondence between the Foreign Office and M. Zenos in reference to the official announcement made to M. Zenos from the General Post Office, on the 3rd day of May 1862, informing that gentleman that directions had been given to the British Postmaster at Constantinople 'not to deliver, but to return to this country, all Copies of the "British Star" which might reach his office:'
Of the Correspondence between the Ottoman Government and Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople in reference to the application, on the part of the Ottoman Government, to prohibit the transmission of the 'British Star' through the British Post-office at Constantinople; and between Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople and the Foreign Office:
And, of Articles alleged to have 'incited to revolt against the Government and Laws of Turkey,' specifying whether they were Articles written by the Editor of the 'British Star,' or copied from other journals, with the date of their publication,
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. LAYARD
observed that the hon. Gentleman had placed a notice of Motion on the paper for an Address for copies of correspondence relating to M. Zenos and his newspaper, and he (Mr. Layard) had come down to the House under the impression that the hon. Gentleman would confine himself to that subject. Instead, however, of that being so, the hon. Gentleman had gone over the whole Turkish question, and he must add that he had himself been treated with little courtesy by the hon. Gentleman, who had made a personal attack on him of a serious nature. Of that attack he had had no notice whatever; and therefore he had come down to the House unprepared to meet it, but he would do his best to discuss the matter with all the temper and discretion he could command, though labouring under great provocation. Before going into the question of Turkish finance, he would explain to the House the position in which the Government were placed as regarded M. Zenos and his newspaper. The Turkish Government, with a liberality unknown in any other country, permitted the English Embassy to have a post-office at Constantinople, through which letters were distributed to British subjects and others, without any interference whatever. Up to that day there had never been any complaint on 824 the part of the Porte of the manner in which the business of that office was conducted. The letters were delivered by our own agents, and there was no instance of a letter having been stopped or opened. With other nations this country had postal conventions, in which there was almost invariably a clause stipulating that each nation should have the right of refusing to deliver any printed papers which might be considered opposed to the laws and regulations of the country; and the British Government had no voice in the matter. It was well known that the authorities in a neighbouring nation sometimes took offence at a facetious publication published in this country, and stopped its circulation among their people, but the British Government never thought of calling for an explanation. His hon. Friend had denounced what he called the heinous despotism of the Turkish Government because they wished to do the same thing, and had used terms in speaking of that Government which were highly reprehensible as applied to a Power with which this country was in friendly alliance? The hon. Gentleman's complaint was, that the Turkish Government had prohibited the circulation of a paper containing articles which he himself described as most inflammatory. Those articles, they were told, sought to undermine the authority of the Sultan, and denounced the established religion of Turkey. Well, was it surprising that the Turkish Government should object to the circulation of such articles? He would remind the hon. Gentleman, that if he directed his attention to another quarter, he would find that the complaints which he urged against the Turkish Government would there be far more applicable than in the present instance; for he must be well aware that under the dominion of the Pope publications which contained doctrines not in accordance with the views of the Roman authorities were not only prohibited, but their authors consigned—over and above being liable to criminal punishment in this world—to everlasting perdition in the next. The Turkish Government objected to the publication in question on grounds which were quite intelligible. They alleged that it contained articles systematically hostile to the ruling Power, and that it habitually instigated the subjects of the Sultan to rebellion against his authority. Under those circumstances they naturally asked whether it was fair that the privilege of having a post-office under our own control which 825 they had granted us, should be taken advantage of, to disseminate such treasonable matter, and be made the instrument by which disaffection and disobedience to the law were incited. Let him suppose that, in answer to such an appeal, the English Government had replied, that they would insist upon the paper in question being circulated; would not the Turkish authorities have been justified in saying, "If you choose to avail yourselves of a privilege, which we with such unexampled liberality grant you, to exercise it in this way, we must, in justice to ourselves, withdraw it altogether?" But the hon. Gentleman was entirely wrong in asserting that the Government of this country had suppressed M. Zenos's newspaper. He might still send it through the Austrian or the French post; nay, he might try even the Roman post. But, to bring the matter to a closer issue, let him suppose that a French post-office, such as that which was established by the English Government in Turkey, existed in Dublin, and that by its means documents were circulated throughout the country denouncing the oppression under which the people of Ireland were suffering, and urging them on to rebellion—would the English Government not have a right to remonstrate with France and to take the necessary steps to prevent such a privilege as that which she enjoyed being thus abused? So far as the papers asked for by the hon. Gentleman—were concerned, he had not the slightest objection to produce them, with the exception of those embraced in the concluding paragraph of his Motion, which he was obviously unable to give, inasmuch as it called upon him to say which articles were or were not written by the editor of the British Star, or which were those copied from other journals. He could not possibly say what articles were written by M. Zenos, and any such Return, therefore, it would be impossible to give; but if he would be satisfied with the correspondence which had taken place between the Foreign Office and Her Majesty's Minister at Constantinople, and M. Zenos himself, he should have much pleasure in producing it. The hon. Gentleman, he might add, had charged his noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office with inconsistency, but it was doubtful whether the hon. Gentleman had not in the fullest extent laid himself open to that charge, because, while he accused the Turkish Government of being the vilest of despotisms, he yet represented the free Greek Govern- 826 ment of which he spoke with so much enthusiasm, as calling upon the Forte to suppress a paper circulated in Turkey which reflected upon the Government of Greece. In fact, it was the Greek Government which had instigated the Forte to ask for the withdrawal of the permission to M. Zenos to send his newspaper through the English post, because that paper contained articles hostile to the Greek Government. He had, he thought, now stated sufficient to show the House the grounds on which the Government had acted in the case of M. Zenos. M. Zenos was perfectly free to circulate his papers, but he was not free to abuse the privilege of the British post. He would now turn to another topic dwelt upon by the hon. Gentleman, who had ventured to insinuate that he (Mr. Layard) had made a speech in that House in favour of Turkish finance because he was interested in it as the recent chairman of the Ottoman Bank, and one of its shareholders. Now, he would not condescend to answer or deny such a charge coming from such a man. He had certainly made in the course of the Session a statement on the subject of Turkish finance, and to that statement he still adhered.
§ MR. SCULLY
Sir, I rise to order. I beg to move that the words just used by the hon. Gentleman be taken down. I submit it is unparliamentary to apply such words to any Member of this House, I do do not care who he is. Indeed, the hon. Member to whom they are applied in the present instance, so far from being a friend of mine, has always shown himself to be my personal enemy. But, be that as it may, the words "such a charge coming from such a man" are clearly unparliamentary, and I therefore beg to move that they be taken down by the clerk at the table.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The words which the hon. Gentleman wishes to be taken down must be exactly those which fell from the hon. Member for Southwark.
§ MR. SCULLY
I cannot be expected to vouch for the exact words, but I understood the hon. Gentleman to use these words:—" I cannot be expected to answer such a charge coming from such a man."I move that they be taken down, but I was in hopes that the hon. Gentleman would explain.
§ MR. LAYARD
If, of course, Sir, I have used words which are unparliamentary, I 827 should at once submit to any decision with respect to them which you might think proper to pronounce. I should withdraw them if you think I am called upon to do so. You, Sir, heard what the hon. Gentleman opposite said. He accused me, in language not to be mistaken, of unparliamentary and dishonourable conduct. He stated or insinuated that I had made a speech in this House by means of which I endeavoured to force up the Turkish Loan. That, at all events, was the impression he left on my mind. He used the words "rigging the market," and seemed to wish the House to suppose, that because I had recently been chairman of the Ottoman Bank and one of its shareholders, I made the speech in question with the object which I have indicated. Now, I venture to say that so serious a charge as that has scarcely ever before been made in this House against one of its Members, and I certainly did reply to it, as I submit I was perfectly justified in doing, by saying I should be doing what was inconsistent with my character as a man of honour, as a Member of the Government, and as a Member of Parliament, if I condescend to answer such a charge coming from such a quarter. I have no wish to retract those words.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I understand there is a question as to whether the words should be taken down. Certainly, if the hon. Gentleman had simply used the phrase "from such a quarter," his language would have been Parliamentary. In using, as he did, the words "such a man," he must, I think, have spoken inadvertently in the hurry of debate, and I am the more inclined to that opinion because in his previous observations he referred in the most courteous terms to the hon. Member for Dungarvan, for he distinctly called him three times his "hon. Friend." Indeed, so much struck was I by the remarkable courtesy thus exhibited by him, notwithstanding the peculiar expressions used by the hon. Member for Dungarvan with respect to his relations in connection with the Turkish Loan, that it was a matter of observation on the part of my hon. Friends by me and myself that Parliamentary courtesy had never in all probability been strained to such a degree before. I looked upon the hon. Gentleman, in short, as setting all of us a very good example. But now, as this painful misconception has arisen, I think the House will be of opinion that 828 the hon. Gentleman used the words "such a man," which were clearly unparliamentary, and could not be tolerated, inadvertently; and I feel assured he will recall them, and express his regret that he did not use the words "such a quarter," which, I believe, would not be out of order. That being done, the question might be considered as settled, and we should be able to proceed with the discussion.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I may he allowed to say that I think both hon. Gentlemen have, perhaps, somewhat overstepped those limits within which, on cooler reflection, they would, I am sure, admit it is desirable to keep. In the first place, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvan used very offensive, I may almost say unparliamentary and unbecoming language, as between gentleman and gentleman, in accusing my hon. Friend near me of being influenced in his Parliamentary conduct by private motives. That was a charge which everybody must feel that one Member ought not to have launched against another. It was an accusation which no gentleman, conscious of its injustice, could hear made against him with the calmest temper in the world, and I am not surprised that my hon. Friend should have replied to it in words somewhat overstepping the usual courtesy of debate. The House will recollect, moreover, that the hon. Member for Dungarvan laid himself open in a peculiar manner to such a retort from my hon. Friend, because he said in the course of his speech that he did not make the statement he was addressing to the House upon his own knowledge or authority, but upon information derived from somebody else. I must say, that if an attack should be made upon my private character by a man who says that he does not speak from his own knowledge, but from the instructions of another person, I should hesitate before condescending to answer "such a charge coming from such a man." My hon. Friend, I am sure, will not insist upon words which may be considered unparliamentary, but will at once submit to the decision of the House and withdraw them.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
I shall be glad at any time to settle with the Under Secretary any personal matter which may arise between us. My object, however, in rising now is to make an explanation, for I think there should be no misconception as to the real meaning of what I did say. 829 Perhaps I was infelicitous in the words I used, but I never intended to imply that the hon. Gentleman was actuated by any base motive of personal interest in advancing the Turkish loan. I endeavoured, on the contrary, to guard myself against that misconception by saying that I had too high a respect for the character and position of those who occupied seats on the Treasury bench to imagine for a moment that they would lend themselves to what would be disgraceful. That was what I stated and I have only to repeat, in conclusion, that I shall he happy to meet the hon. Member anywhere he pleases to discuss our personal matters.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, that after the statement of the hon. Gentleman he would be happy to bow to the decision of the House, and withdraw any expression which might be considered unparliamentary. He was satisfied, at the same time, that the House would not expect him to make any explanation as to the charge which the hon. Gentleman had, if not made, at least insinuated, against him. He would therefore pass over that subject. As to M. Zenos, who seemed to think that he (Mr. Layard) was actuated by a feeling against him in consequence of any articles that he might have written in his newspaper, all he could say was that he did not believe he had ever seen a copy of the journal in question. He had certainly never read one of its articles. Nor was he aware that the House would wish him to follow the hon. Gentleman into a long discussion upon Turkish finance; but, at any rate, he might be permitted to say a few words upon one or two points which somewhat affected his personal character. The hon. Gentleman had charged him with making a statement not founded in fact when he informed the House that the Turkish debt amounted to only £14,000,000. He had already, in reply to the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. D. Griffith), reminded the House, that when he said the debt of Turkey did not exceed £14,000,000, he distinctly stated that he referred exclusively to the foreign debt. [A gesture of dissent from Mr. DARBY GRIFFITH.] The hon. Gentleman shook his head, but he would read from Hansard the words he used. The words were—That the foreign debt of Turkey amounted to £14,000,000, and that the whole of the interest on her foreign and domestic debt was only one-eighth of her revenue.If any one would consider this for a moment, he would see that he could not have 830 spoken of £14,000,000 as the whole amount of the indebtedness of the Porte, because one-eighth of the total revenue was a great deal more than the interest upon £14,000,000. Besides, at the time he was discussing the question of foreign loans. The hon. Gentleman had also charged him with suppressing the Report of Lord Hobart and Mr. Foster, because he knew that its publication would destroy public confidence and render abortive the endeavour to raise a Turkish loan. It would be recollected that some time ago the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Freeland) moved that the Report in question should be laid on the table. At that time the Report had just been received. It was a document of a very peculiar character, and arose out of somewhat singular circumstances. The Turkish Government, wishing to reform its finances and introduce extensive changes into its administration, had asked our Government to allow two gentlemen well acquainted with financial matters to go to Constantinople to assist in carrying out this reform. In compliance with that request two gentlemen of great ability—Lord Hobart and Mr. Foster — had been selected for the purpose, and had gone to Constantinople. The Turkish Government had concealed nothing from them, had thrown everything open to their inspection, and had behaved towards them in the most courteous and generous manner. The Commissioners, if such they might be called, had made a full and detailed Report upon Turkish finance, and upon the resources and financial administration of the country. When the hon. Member for Chichester brought forward his Motion, it was stated that the Government had no objection to lay the Report on the table; but that, inasmuch as it concerned the most vital interests of the Turkish empire, and had been made for the Turkish and not for the English Government, they would not think themselves justified in presenting it to Parliament without first obtaining the consent of the Turkish Government. Immediately afterwards the Turkish Government were consulted on the subject, and, with unheard-of liberality, they at once agreed to the publication of the Report. Let the House recollect what that Report was. It examined into every part of the Turkish Administration; it showed up every weak part of the Turkish empire; it was remarkably minute and penetrating, and spared nothing which deserved con- 831 damnation, and yet the Turkish Government did not hesitate to allow it to be laid before the British Parliament. He doubted whether there was another Government in Europe which would have permitted such a Report, made at its own request by the agents of a foreign Power, to be published; and he thought the Turkish Government were entitled to great credit for the liberality they had shown in the matter. The hon. Gentleman had said that if the Report had been published at once, down would have gone the Turkish loan. Why, the Report had been published, and the Turkish loan was higher now than it was before the Report came out. At that moment, he believed, the loan was at £4 premium, so that the publication of the Report, instead of lessening, had increased public confidence. He might state, moreover, that the Report was communicated to the contractors for the loan before it was laid before Parliament. It was so communicated because our Government wished the contractors to have the whole case fairly before them; and it was submitted to them, too, with the express sanction of the Turkish Ambassador. The hon. Gentleman had gone into details upon the authority of M. Zenos' statements; but no one could have known better than M. Zenos that many of those statements were entirely untrue. M. Zenos was a Greek, and must be supposed to know well what he was writing about. He would show how the hon. Gentleman had nevertheless been misinformed by M. Zenos. First he made an attack on Achmet Vefyk Effendi, a personal friend, he (Mr. Layard) was happy to say, of his own, and a man of genius, and of the highest honour and the most unimpeachable honesty—a man who was never, as the hon. Gentleman had affirmed, dismissed from the Turkish Government; but who had resigned more than once, because he was asked to do things which he did not believe to be compatible with his integrity. It was not true that when he stated to the House that the Turkish Government had put Achmet Vefyk Effendi at the head of the Finance Committee he knew that he had been dismissed. He did not know that Achmet Vefyk Effendi ever had been dismissed. On the contrary, he knew that his career had been most distinguished and successful, and that he was now at the head of a most important Department of State in Turkey. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the Turkish customs were farmed. 832 Some, no doubt, were, but all the customs were not fanned. It was impossible to carry out any sweeping measure of reform in a single day; but already the Turks had taken a large portion of their revenue from the farmers, and he believed that eventually they would have the collection of the whole in their own hands. The hon. Gentleman had also asserted that Franks were not allowed to work mines in Turkey. All he could say was that there were Franks working mines at the present moment.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, he had been often in Turkey, and had never heard of any such restriction, and he knew that foreigners were working mines in Thessaly and in other parts of that empire. Then the hon. Gentleman said that Christians could not hold land in Turkey. That statement was utterly at variance with the fact, because half the subjects of the Sultan were Christians, and they held laud as well as the other subjects of the Sultan. It was true that foreigners could not hold laud in Turkey. The hon. Member was surprised that such a state of things should be possible, and asked whether it would be tolerated in England? Why in England by the law no foreigner could hold land. Then the hon. Gentleman taunted the Turkish Government with such charges as taxed the credulity of the House, for he said that any woman might hold land in Turkey because she might be taken possession of for certain purposes. When such a statement was made, he hardly knew how to answer it, except by saying that the person upon whose authority the hon. Gentleman spoke had wilfully and designedly misinformed and cajoled him. The Turkish Government very liberally allowed foreigners to hold land by permitting them to avail themselves of a fiction of the Mohammedan law, and to have the deeds made out in the name of any woman in Turkey, all women by a legal fiction being considered subjects of the Sultan, and a large amount of Catholic and other church property in the East belonging to foreign institutions was actually held and registered in the name of the Virgin Mary. A large number also of English, French, and other foreign subjects, held laud in Turkey merely by having it registered in the names of ladies who were not even Turkish subjects, and 833 the hon. Gentleman could not find a single instance in which this vile despotic government, as he chose to call it, had acted upon its right, and had interposed with property so held. The hon. Gentleman said that Christians were not allowed to give evidence in courts of justice. That was not the case, as in the commercial courts their evidence was received like that of Mussulmans, although in criminal cases it was not received as of the same weight as that of Mohammedans. But a similar state of things existed in countries boasting of high civilization. Did the hon. Gentleman know the position of Protestants in the Romish States, and the disabilities under which they laboured? Did he know that Protestants in Spain were not allowed to give evidence? Did he know that the other day a case came before the English Foreign Office, in which an English Protestant lady at Rome, married to a Roman Catholic, was refused a passport to enable her to join her husband, who was dangerously ill in England, and that it was only when she allowed the passport to be made out in her maiden name, thereby acknowledging that she was not legally married, that the prohibition was removed? ["Question!"] Those were subjects upon which he should certainly not have touched if the hon. Gentleman had not himself gone into them. he came down to the House unprepared to discuss anything but M. Zenos and his newspaper; but when the hon. Gentleman got up and attacked Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Turkey, and by implication the Italian policy of the Government, and he endeavoured to reply to those attacks, he was told that he was not speaking to the question. The hon. Gentleman had quoted the case of M. Zenos as an instance of a Christian not being able to hold land in Turkey. What were the facts? M. Zenos—this man who had been denouncing and attacking the Turkish Government—wanted to buy land in Smyrna. He was informed that he could not buy land for himself; but if his sister was still a Turkish subject, he might buy land in her name, and nothing would be said about it. Was that a liberal proceeding on the part of the Turkish Government, or was it not? No Government could have shown more liberality in that or in any other matter than was shown by the Government of Turkey. He thought he had answered the principal points of the hon. Gentleman's speech; 834 and as regarded M. Zenos, he would recommend him not to trust him again. M. Zenos protended that his paper, as prepared for circulation in Turkey, was purely scientific and literary; but after what he had heard that night he thought the Government were entirely justified in refusing to allow their post-office to be made the vehicle for the circulation of such matter as that newspaper was admitted to contain. He could only say further that the Government did not pretend to be the judges of what effect the articles might produce, that was a question for the consideration of the Turkish Government alone; but no Government, acting honestly and fairly, could refuse the request of a Power, which had granted to it such privileges as the Porte had granted to this country, not to allow those privileges to be taken advantage of for the purpose of circulating matters dangerous to the peace of the country, and detrimental to the authority of the Sultan. He was quite willing to lay before the House all papers upon the subject, except the articles, of which he had no knowledge whatever.
§ MR. BRIGHT
I am very sorry that this question has become a matter of contest between the partisans of the Turks and the partisans of the Pope. Whatever I may think of the wisdom of an attack on Turkey, I cannot consider that these incessant attacks on the Pope from the Treasury Bench are either very judicious or very statesmanlike. There are six millions of Roman Catholics in the United Kingdom, and I find constantly that there is nothing which comes from the Treasury Bench so likely to obtain a cheer in certain quarters in this House as an attack upon anything connected with Rome, with the Pope, or the Catholic Church. I shall not be suspected of being a partisan of the Pope, or of the Catholic Church; but I say so much on behalf of the harmony and good feeling which I wish to preserve among all classes of the people of this kingdom. Now, notwithstanding that so much has been said with regard to Turkey, which has rather covered and concealed the case which was originally brought before the House, I still think there is a case which it is worth while to attend to for a few minutes longer. This M. Zenos, of whom the hon. Gentleman speaks with so much contempt, is a gentleman who has lived many—I think fourteen years or more in this country as a merchant of great respectability, He is 835 part owner, and I believe agent, for a most extensive line of steamboats between this country and the Levant, He is a gentleman of education, and very far above the average of men that we are accustomed to meet with. He has not established this paper for the purpose of pecuniary advantage. It has been at work, I believe, about two years, and I think I am not mistaken in saying that during those two years it has been a loss to those who have conducted it of at least some thousands of pounds. The paper is one of the very first character as to the manner in which it is got up. The subscription for abroad is three guineas a year for one paper per week. That, I think, is something about 1s. 3d. per copy. This paper, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan has already shown, is printed in the Greek character and language, and nothing that I have seen in the press here can be said to be much, if at all, superior to it. There are advertisements. I suppose the Greeks are very fond of cosmetics, for I find in it many advertisements of those articles. This side—[the hon. Gentleman held a copy in his hand]—is devoted to commercial news, and another is taken up with correspondence. Here there are pictures, such as the Illustrated London News and other papers publish; here is an Indian story; after that comes general literature. Here there is another page of pictures, and here is a page which is called statistics, containing facts and statistics of all countries in the world. Here is a page containing extracts and varieties, and then we have a portrait of General Scott of the United States. There are two or three pages giving a graphic description of the Exhibition; and in the political part, some of the debates in this House, or extracts from them, have been given, particulars of courts of justice, and notices of eminent men in this country. The fact is, that M. Zenos is, perhaps, more English than any one here—much more English than the hon. Member for Dungarvan is, according to his own admission. He is an enthusiast in favour of everything English. His object in starting this paper has been to endeavour to enlighten his fellow-countrymen wherever they are in all matters connected with English thought, and opinion, and practice, and literature, and government. I do not well know how a man, a Greek by birth, living in this country, and having acquired sufficient means, could more display his patriotism or his worth as 836 regards his own country than by the course which he has taken. His object has been to enlighten and elevate the Christian and the Greek population of the Levant. The hon. Gentleman has made no kind of answer to the statement of the Member for Dungarvan, with regard to the particular correspondence which was brought before the House. The original letter declares that the Turkish Government alleged that there were articles in this paper adverse to that Government, and tending to destroy order in the Turkish empire, and that they were bound to suppress it. I do not want at all to make any claim for M. Zenos which is not in my mind entirely reasonable. I will admit, that if he had been in the habit of writing articles such as have been impugned, intended and likely to be mischievous in Turkey, in a political sense, the Government might, with a degree of fairness, have taken a hint from the Turkish Government, and have informed M. Zenos that if that course were continued, they would no longer introduce his paper into that country; and then M. Zenos might have changed his course or not, as he thought proper. But when they make their statement to M. Zenos, what does he say? He says, "Here are two or three pages of this paper which are entirely political, but all the rest contains no politics whatever. I will take out every word that is political. They shall not know anything in the least in the Levant as to whether they are living under a despotism or under a republic, and I will say nothing as to what is going on in the Turkish empire." Surely that promise would have met the case—because the remonstrance of the Turkish Government was based entirely upon these political articles, and upon the effects that might be produced in the empire of Turkey. And when M. Zenos writes to the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office, he says, "I will take all politics out; I will insert nothing but literature and art; nothing but that which you say elevates and ennobles in the West will I send to the East; will you allow my paper then to go?"—he receives a very short letter indeed. It is not argumentative, it is not explanatory, but it is curt and all but offensive. The thing, he is told, cannot be done—the paper cannot be carried, and there is an end of M. Zenos and the British Star. Well, I think he had a fair right when he took away the ground of complaint to expect 837 that his case should be at least reconsidered; and that it should have been found that he had transgressed the line laid down for him before his paper was subjected to what is tantamount to suppression, The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary has not told us whether, when M. Zenos made this answer to Lord Russell, any communication was had with Sir Henry Bulwer at Constantinople, or whether Sir Henry Bulwer communicated with the Ottoman Government. It is just possible that the Ottoman Government, which the hon. Gentleman has described as being liberal beyond every other Government, if it had known that this paper henceforth was not to have a single paragraph of politics in it, would have consented to its coming into that country for the purpose of instructing its people. The noble Lord at the head of the Government has said there is no country which has made such advances in civilization as Turkey within the the last twenty or thirty years. If that be true—and I know it is not true—but if any portion of it be true, or any approximation to it be true, then surely the Turkish Government would not have objected to the introduction of this periodical, when nil politics had been taken out of it. One other point only deserves notice. European Turkey contains, as the hon. Member for Dungarvan has said, at least 11,000,000 Christians of one name or other, and about 2,250,000 or 2,500,000 Mahometans. Well, everybody must see that Turkey in Europe in point of fact, except in its feeble Government, is Christian. This paper is directed specially to improve that large population. I have always understood the noble Lord at the head of the Government to have what I should call an almost fanatical wish that there should be an intimate connection between Turkey—and particularly between Turkey in Europe— and the people of England. But how could that object be brought about more completely, more certainly, than by the circulation in that country, and amongst that population of such a paper as M. Zenos prints, apart from polities, which he is willing to take out of it? It seems to me, that we are following a bad example. I am told that in Odessa the Russians did not want this paper to circulate—that the Austrians, in order that they might suppress it amongst such portion of their population as are Greek, placed upon it a very onerous postage tax, and sometimes kept it in their offices for weeks and did 838 not deliver it, until at length it was suppressed there. And there remained only Constantinople, and that part of Turkey where any considerable circulation of this paper was to be obtained. Now, I complain that the Foreign Office, in my opinion, acted needlessly and with great hardship in this matter. They appear to me to have acted with love rather than with reluctance at the urgent request of the Turkish Government. Although M. Zenos proposed to take out of his paper every word of politics, the English Foreign Office, without consulting the Turkish Government as to the proposed change—and, so far as I hear, instead of giving any explanation whatever—merely adhered to their former declaration, and withheld their means of conveying the publication to Constantinople; and this gentleman, who, I venture to say, does not deserve in the least the sneers and contempt of the Under Secretary of the Foreign Office, is prevented from doing that which I believe would be a patriotic and useful act, I object to this, not only on the ground of what is due to M. Zenos, but on the ground of what we value most—with regard to freedom of the press. I object to it because I believe that it would be greatly to the advantage of the population of Turkey in Europe if that population could have access through this paper to those vast stores of information which are open to the people of this country and Western Europe. And I believe that the time will come when the Christians and Greeks of Turkey in Europe will form Turkey in Europe; and that whenever that day comes —as it must come before long—it will be beneficial to them and also a great political and commercial advantage to us that they should be thoroughly intimate with the thoughts, and habits, and character, and practice to be found in this country. On these grounds, therefore, I think that the hon. Gentleman and the noble Earl, who is his chief at the Foreign Office, have behaved with a suddenness, I may say a harshness and unreasonableness, which I did not expect. I would not have complained if they had only followed the Turkish Government so far as politics went. But I say, in my opinion they had no right to go further than that. I regret very much the matters which have been needlessly introduced into this discussion, and given rise to some unpleasantness; but, nevertheless, I hope the noble Earl at the Foreign Office will reconsider this question, 839 and that tins property of M. Zenos may not be wholly destroyed, nor his patriotic attempts entirely frustrated.
MR. H. A. BRUCE
said, that the charge which had been insinuated by the hon. Member for Dungarvan against his hon. Friend the Member for Southwark was even more offensive than if it had been more directly made; and having himself, as a director of the Ottoman Bank, a personal knowledge of the matter, he was able to give—and should feel ashamed of himself if he had not risen to give—his direct denial, on his honour as a gentleman and a Member of that House, to the charge so insinuated against his hon. Friend. He could appeal to facts which would carry conviction to the mind—he would not say of the hon. Member for Dungarvan, but of every person who would consider the subject in a fair and candid manner. The views of his hon. Friend the Member for Southwark with respect to the resources of Turkey had been known ever since he first sat in that House; and there was nothing new in his affirming that with good management the finances of that country might be put in a sound position. His hon. Friend became chairman of the Ottoman Bank; and when he ceased to be so, he was appointed Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. It might, therefore, have been thought, when the Turkish Government wanted a loan, that the Ottoman Bank was the right quarter to apply first to in the matter. But was that done? The loan was issued to a respectable firm at Constantinople; and when its representatives came to London to get it negotiated, they went straight to an eminent house in the City, and it was only when driven by refusals on all sides and from all other bodies that they came near the Ottoman Bank. When they applied to that bank, the answer of its directors was, "We believe we can issue this loan upon certain conditions; but, having some years before been interested in the issue of a loan for the purpose of placing the finances of Turkey in a healthy state, we decline altogether to have anything to do with this one without having some sort of security that it will be applied to the purposes for which it is raised." The question then arose what means should be taken to secure that object. The Ottoman Bank, after considering the matter, informed both the Turkish Minister and the negotiators of the loan that unless the English Government would appoint some person to see to its proper 840 application they would have nothing to do with it. The Turkish Ambassador communicated with Her Majesty's Ministers on the subject, and they thought it of sufficient importance to appoint a person to superintend the proper application of the loan. These were the simple facts of the case, as far as his hon. Friend was concerned; and he begged to give his most solemn assurance that the conduct of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary throughout the whole matter was most guarded and most delicate, and that any insinuation to the contrary was most cruel and most unjust.
§ SIR ROBERT CLIFTON
said, he thought the hon. Member for Dungarvan would have done well if he had translated the article which had been the cause of the difficulty, and the House would then have been able to judge whether it was of such an inflammatory character as to justify the Government in slopping the circulation of the paper in the Turkish dominions. He must confess that after the promise of M. Zenos that the paper thenceforth should contain no political matter, he did not see why his first offence should not have been pardoned. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State also might have laid the objectionable article before the House to enable them to form a correct opinion upon the matter. He thought also that the hon. Member for Dungarvan had been very much misinformed as to what had taken place in Turkey since the accession of the present Sultan. It was well known that the Sultan was doing everything in his power to extend trade and commerce, by granting concessions for new lines of railway, and by improving the harbours in his dominions. It was not, however, to be expected that a Government which at one time had nearly fallen to the ground could move as fast as the hon. Member for Dungarvan, or as fast as he might wish. From his own experience he could bear testimony to the great abilities and extended knowledge of Achmet Effendi, who had earnestly devoted himself to the interests of his country.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, there was one important point upon which there appeared to exist some misapprehension—the position of Her Majesty's Government, and the responsibility of its officers in relation to the subject before the House. The question had been treated as, in effect, the same as if the 841 Post-office in London had refused to circulate newspapers in this country. But the case was really very different. It was competent for any foreign Government to maintain a post-office or not, as it chose. It was competent for any foreign Government to decline to circulate letters or journals from foreign countries. Such a course, however, though not open to complaint on international grounds, would yet be considered churlish and unneighbourly, and was not adopted by any of the nations of Europe. Any independent Government, deeming it convenient to afford postal facilities to its subjects, could retain the control of the post-office in its own hands. When a post-office was established, the Government having the power to refuse to allow it to be made the medium of circulating journals from abroad, it was only by convention that any Government could obtain from any other, as a matter of right, the use of its post-office for the distribution of correspondence and journals. Many such conventions existed, but it was an invariable condition that the Government consenting to give the facilities should have the right to refuse to deliver printed papers, the importation of which was prohibited by the laws of the country into which they were sent. Under no convention could a foreign Government be expected to assist in the dissemination of journals hostile to itself. This country had made no convention with Turkey, and therefore they had no right to demand permission to circulate any letters or newspapers through the post-office in that country; but the Turkish Government had permitted the establishment of a post-office in Constantinople under the management of British subjects. Nothing could be more liberal than such a concession. Finding, however, that the particular journal of M. Zenos was passing through the British post-office, and being of opinion that its contents were calculated to subvert order and to promote revolution in Turkey, they communicated that opinion to the British authorities. They desired that the British authorities should no longer allow the post-office at Constantinople, which was itself a matter of indulgence, to be the medium of circulating such an objectionable journal. What, according to the law of nations, ought to have been the course pursued by the British Government, under such circumstances? He admitted that they were not bound to continue to avail themselves 842 of any indulgence upon terms dishonouring to themselves, but he contended that there was nothing dishonourable in listening to the representations of the Turkish Government upon the subject of this journal. They accordingly said to M. Zenos, "We don't sit in judgment upon your journal; it is not a matter for our consideration; but we are informed by the Turkish Government that they regard the British Star as dangerous to the peace and good order of Turkey, and therefore we cannot continue to transmit your journal to that country." The British Government might, as the only other alternative, have declared, that unless they were allowed to circulate the journal, they would give up the post-office at Constantinople, and put British subjects there to the great inconvenience of taking away from them these postal facilities. But he did not believe that even the hon. Member for Dungarvan would consider the circulation of the journal a point of so much importance as to warrant any such proceeding. In the absence of any convention, the Turkish Government, according to every rule of international law, were the judges as to the circulation of any printed matter in their dominions, and the British Government could have properly adopted no other course than that which had been complained of.
§ MR. SCULLY
said, he thought that M. Zenos had a strong case upon high constitutional grounds, but the Attorney General had argued it on the lowest legal grounds. He (Mr. Scully) had moved that certain words used by the hon. Member (Mr. Layard) be taken down. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli), however, had reminded him that the Under Secretary (Mr. Layard) had used the words "hon. Friend" in speaking of the hon. Member for Dungarvan, and that was followed by the Under Secretary's explanation that by the word "man" he really meant "quarter." He confessed that he was surprised at such an expression coming from the Under Secretary. However, after the explanation made by the Under Secretary, who had cried "quarter," he (Mr. Scully) had no objection to grant quarter, by withdrawing his Motion. The real question before the House had been widely departed from in the course of debate, and it had nothing to do with the Ottoman Bank or with the state of Turkey. For the first quarter of an hour the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire) had got on very 843 well, and had made out a good case, but for the last three-quarters of an hour he had done harm to his client's cause by travelling into Turkish politics, which were altogether irrelevant. The Under Secretary, again, had, very unnecessarily and mischievously, said everything he could to incense and annoy the Roman Catholic Members of this House. The hon. Gentleman seemed to have a sort of monomania on that subject. Perhaps he was actuated by personal feeling. It could hardly be that he used that language as mere claptrap for Southwark, or to excite a passing cheer in this House. He had told a cock and bull story about some Protestant lady of his acquaintance. [Mr. LAYARD: No.] Well, then, of a lady whose acquaintance he disclaimed, or with whom he was only officially acquainted, and who seemed to be very much annoyed with His Holiness the Pope. All that sort of language was very mischievous, and in the mouths of Gentlemen in office was utterly inexcusable. Such Gentlemen ought to have a little more discretion than to indulge in that offensive language towards one-third or one-fourth of Her Majesty's subjects. It seemed, however, to be a practice on the part of some Members of the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland was especially fond of indulging in similar rho-domontade. [Sir ROBERT PEEL: I beg the hon. Member's pardon.] Then the right hon. Gentleman denies that he ever indulged in that way. At all events he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would never do so in future, and in that case he should be happy to give him plenary indulgence for the past. He would now pass to the real point at issue. M. Zenos had proposed that one-half of his journal, devoted to literary and scientific matters, should be allowed to pass through the post; while the question respecting the political half should be reserved for consideration, and he urged that he had been at great expense in getting up illustrations of the International Exhibition, which illustrations would be quite thrown away if the circulation of his journal were thus interfered with. The reply was that Earl Russell could not grant the request. M. Zenos asked for reasons, and he was told that the political character of the newspaper was sufficient to justify the prohibition. If The Times or the Illustrated London News were excluded from Rome, there would be elaborate explanations from 844 Earl Russell and the Under Secretary that it was entirely against their wish, but that they were forced to bow to the tyrannical, oppressive, and narrow-minded views of the Roman Government. In the case under consideration, however, it was plain that a very cool snub had been given to M. Zenos, when he requested to know why circulation was to be refused to a newspaper containing only literary matter, and some illustrations of the International Exhibition.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he wished to make a practical suggestion. His hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General said, there were only two courses open to the Government. One was to accede to the request of the Turkish Government; the other, was not to accede to it, and to forego the privilege granted by the Porte. But there was another course. The Government might have said to the Turkish Government, "M. Zenos does not intend hereafter to introduce any political matter into the paper. Has the Turkish Government any objection to the circulation of such a publication?" Courtesy in office was a very great thing, and he would ask the hon. Under Secretary to turn his attention to it. A little regard for men's feelings and a little less curtness would smooth many difficulties and overcome many obstructions. He believed, that if the hon. Member would apply himself to the art, and apply some of the powers of his mind to teaching it to the Turkish Government, there would be real advantage from the circulation of a paper which simply contained instruction for the inhabitants. It would be doing good to the people of Turkey; it would do no harm to England, and it would certainly do no harm to the hon. Gentleman himself.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, that if the Government were to adopt the suggestion that had just been made, they would expose themselves to severe criticism, and would be trifling with the Turkish Government. The address of the hon. Member for Dungarvan did certainly appeal to his sympathies, but further consideration had altered his first impression of the case. He did not think that M. Zenos had been treated with too much curtness, but the reverse. All the arguments raised had been derived from the departure from that official curtness, which was really, after all, most merciful and most useful in such correspondence. If the hon. Gentleman had not given reasons, if he had not stated that the reason for the circulation of the paper 845 being prohibited was its political character, there would have been no ground for the appeal to the House, and no reasons for the debate. How was it possible to eliminate political matter from the paper? Who was to examine it? In literary and scientific articles an able editor might give a most complete exposition of his political views. It would be trifling with the Ottoman Government to adopt the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. In reply to the reproofs that had been administered by the hon. Members for Birmingham and Cork, respecting the allusions that had been made to Roman Catholics, he contended that it was rather hard if their discussions were to be limited to the strict subjects of debate, and they were not to be allowed to refer to instances in past or contemporaneous history in illustration of their arguments. It was well known that there were instances in the history of Jesuitism of men who had avowed Protestant principles in public and in private, and that they did that the more effectually to promote the interests of the religion to which they really belonged. He did not say that any Member of that House was so unworthy as to suppress his own sentiments. He warned the House against supposing that whoever alluded to the conduct of Roman Catholics was therefore necessarily uncharitable, unchristian, and inhuman, because Members who professed to be Protestants thought fit to use such language. As to the language used by professed Roman Catholics, he did not think it necessary to allude to it.
§ MR. O'BRIEN
bore testimony to the great liberality of the Turkish Government during the Irish famine, and said, that they had set an example in this respect which many Christian Governments might have imitated.
§ MR. P. A. TAYLOR
said, that the Government might have maintained their position in a technical and diplomatic point of view, but they had not, in dealing with the matter, upheld as they should have done the traditions of England, in reference to the freedom of the press in a country where they were supposed to exercise a very prominent influence. The very existence of an English post-office in a country which knew nothing of freedom, was in itself an anomaly, and likely to place them in a position of great difficulty. The Government, however, as the hon. Member for Birmingham had remarked, seemed to rush and jump at the opportunity of 846 putting down this paper. The first thing they should have done was to ascertain if there was any foundation for the charge that was made by the Turkish Government. A similar application had been made by the Turkish Government to the Austrian Government respecting a paper published at Trieste; but the Austrian Government, before taking any step in the matter, sent an agent to Trieste to ascertain if there was any truth in the statement that sedition and revolution were preached in the paper. That was a different course from that pursued by Her Majesty's Government, which was one that did not reflect credit on them or upon the country. He trusted that the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Sheffield would be taken advantage of, and that even then tardy justice would be done to M. Zenos.
MR. DIGBY SEYMOUR
said, he must protest against the somewhat extravagant charge, that the Government had taken a rush or a jump to put down the paper. There was nothing in the political character either of the hon. and learned Attorney General or of the hon. Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs to warrant such an accusation. The hon. and learned Attorney General had placed the question upon international grounds which were quite irresistible; but at the same time he hoped that the Government would not refuse to accept the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, that he would accept the papers which had been offered to him by the hon. Under Secretary of State.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.