§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
I rise to move for certain papers relative to the affairs of Greece. The circumstances that Mr. Elliot has returned from his special mission without any information as to its results having been laid before the House, that the Duke of Saxe-Coburg has definitively declined to accept the throne of Greece, and that the state of the country is at this moment excessively critical, amply justify me in calling the attention of the House to this question. Hon. Members are doubtless aware that we are particularly interested in the affairs of Greece, but may not know to what extent. They will understand that better when I state that the unguaranteed debt of Greece, together with the unpaid interest, amounts to £7,000,000, and that the guaranteed debt in connection with the loan of 1832 is about £2,000,000, on which there is about £900,000 of unpaid interest, and of which our share comes to £800,000. It is clear, therefore, that we have a very deep interest in the good government of that State. Moreover, the House cannot be ignorant of the universal sympathy which Greece has shown towards this country by the unanimous vote of the people for Prince Alfred. Seeing, then, that she has thrown herself entirely on our protection, and thereby forfeited the goodwill of France and Russia, it is right we should ask how Her Majesty's Government have fulfilled the obligation thus imposed on them, and how far they have exhibited that fairness, truthfulness, and consideration which Greece had a right to expect at their hands. I regret to be compelled to say that the conduct of the British Government has not been just or generous, and that the Greeks are suffering now, and will suffer still more, from the policy which we have pursued in regard to their affairs. That statement I am prepared to prove. I am bound to say that I think Earl Russell is chiefly to blame for this. Remembering, as I do, bow earnestly and cordially the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, has in days past advocated the Greek cause, I cannot but feel 1471 assured, that had he now held the seals of the Foreign Office, the present difficulties would not have occurred, and I am even led to doubt whether the noble Viscount really knows the whole truth in regard to the conduct of that Department. I will now ask the attention of the House to some facts, which I will state as briefly and precisely as possible, in support of the charge I have to make against Earl Russell. The change in the Government of Greece occurred last October. Immediately afterwards Earl Russell communicated with the French and Russian Governments urging upon them that the Protocols and Treaties of 1829, 1830, and 1832, by which any member of the reigning families of the three Powers was prohibited from occupying the throne of Greece, should be held binding. The Russian Government agreed at once to this proposal, but the French Government did so with a great deal of reserve. On the 4th of December M. Drouyn de Lhuys wrote as follows: —'In one sense we admit that circumstances are not absolutely identical. The three Powers were then empowered by a formal delegation of Greece to dispose of the Crown; now the Greeks make direct use of their sovereign power; and France, England, and Russia may have decided upon exclusions to which they are reciprocally bound, without being justified, perhaps, in compelling the Greeks at this moment to adopt their views …Nor do I pretend that this restrictive clause of the protocol is rigorously applicable to the present state of things.'That despatch is important, because it proves that but for Earl Russell's interference these protocols would not have been held binding, and the Greeks would have had the option of electing the Duke de Leuchtenberg, the Duke d'Aumale, or any one else. On receipt of the above letter Earl Russell wrote, on the 6th of November, to our Ambassador in Greece in these terms—Her Majesty's Government have no desire to influence the decision which the Greeks may come to as to the choice of their new Sovereign, except to remind them that by the agreements and engagements concluded in 1832 between England, France, and Russia, no person connected with the Royal or Imperial Family of either of the three Powers can be placed upon the throne of Greece.Mr. Scarlett's letter, to be found at page 50 of the Correspondence, was in reply to a communication from the noble Earl, and was as follows: —Upon the receipt of your Lordship's telegram, dated November 3, which reached me on the 10th instant, reminding me that by the Treaty of July 6, 1829, and Protocols of April, 1827, and February, 1830, both Prince Alfred and the Duke of 1472 Leuchtenberg would be equally excluded from becoming candidates for the throne of Greece, I lost no time in communicating to M. Diamantopoulos the necessary information on that subject.…I said I really could not perceive at this moment any chance whatever of the acceptation by Prince Alfred of the throne of Greece.Thus far nothing could be more correct than the conduct of the Foreign Secretary; but the importance of Earl Russell's Despatch is to be ascertained only from reading Mr. Scarlett's letter of the 17th. December. Mr. Scarlett wrote to his Lordship—I observe in some of the newspapers lately received from England that Her Majesty's Government is blamed for not announcing sooner to the Greeks that His Royal Highness Prince Alfred could not accept the throne, and that I ought to have been instructed earlier on this point. To this it may with perfect justice be replied, that at the very outset of this movement your Lordship did instruct me to state to the Greek Government the belief of Her Majesty's Government that both Prince Alfred and the Due de Leuchtenberg were excluded under the Protocol of 1830; an instruction which I did not fail to carry immediately into effect by reading both your Lordship's telegrams and despatch to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Provisional Government.The only despatch of the noble Earl to which Mr. Scarlett could have referred, is that in which he was desired to write at once to the Greek Government to put a stop to the candidature of Prince Alfred. Directly after November 6, however, a great change took place. Earl Russell became acquainted with two very important facts. He learned from Mr. Scarlett that Prince Alfred was universally popular in Greece, and from Russia that that Power, while recognising the binding effect of the protocols, did not deem the Duke de Leuchtenberg to be within their scope. Upon this Earl Russell, who, while under the impression that Prince Alfred and the Duke de Leuchtenberg were alike excluded, had distinctly pointed out to the Greek Government that the protocols were binding, felt it necessary to reconsider his position; but if he saw no possibility of Prince Alfred being allowed to accept the throne, he ought to have intimated as much to the Greeks in the plainest and most distinct manner. After the decided language which Mr. Scarlett had held to the Foreign Minister of Greece, it is clear that any extenuation of the view originally expressed would be misunderstood by the Greeks, and would lead the people to suppose that Prince Alfred would be allowed to assume the crown. Hence it 1473 was of the utmost importance that there should be no ambiguous communications on the subject, and that the fatal candidature of His Royal His Highness should not be allowed to proceed. On November 17 Earl Russell wrote to Mr. Scarlett as follows: —I have received your telegram of the 10th inst., reporting that the Provisional Government of Greece considered the renunciation by the Powers parties to the Treaty of 1827, in regard to the Sovereign of Greece being chosen from among their families, to have no longer a binding effect after the fall of the Bavarian dynasty, which is considered to be complete; and that a strong feeling prevails throughout the country in favour of the election of His Royal Highness Prince Alfred to the vacant throne, in which case the provisions of the 40th Article of the Constitution, in regard to the religion of the successor to King Otho, would not he allowed to stand in the way of His Royal Highness's assumption of the sovereignty. In reply to your request for instructions as to the course you should pursue in this state of things, I have to desire that you will not interfere in regard to the election of the future Sovereign of Greece without direct instructions from Her Majesty's Government. Their desire is that the Greeks should be left free to choose their own King. With regard to the obligations of the three protecting Powers towards one another, I may have further communications to make to you.How was this received by France and Russia? M Dronyn do Lhuys, in a despatch dated December 4, says the English Cabinetappeared to see, in the hesitation of Russia in explaining whether the Duke de Leuchtenberg was in her sight comprehended in the stipulations of exclusion, a circumstance which might release her from her own engagements, and give her entire freedom of opinion. The candidature of Prince Alfred, which the semi-official organs of the English Ministry no longer rejected, assumed from that moment a new character. Interrupting the prolonged silence of the British Government, the Greeks appeared to consider it an implicit assent, and European opinion no longer asked if prince Alfred would be elected, but if England would accept for him the Hellenic Crown.Prince Gortschakoff, writing on the 2nd of December, says—The rapid march of events in Greece seemed to have inspired the conviction, that if England took from the Hellenic people all hope as to the candidateship of an English Prince, the public sentiment would inevitably bear towards a Russian Prince; and thus the Government of Her Britannic Majesty believed themselves authorized in not discouraging the sympathies which were manifested in Greece towards the candidateship of Monseigneur the Prince Alfred.In a despatch, dated December 7, Lord Napier says —In the course of my conversation with the Vice Chancellor His Excellency alluded again to the contrivances and incitements by which the 1474 alleged candidature of His Royal Highness Prince Alfred had been promoted in Greece, to electioneering arts, to the exhibition of specious inducements, the encouragement of hopes, arid the distribution of gold. His Excellency did not say that these practices were directed by Her Majesty's Government., hut he seemed to refer them generally to English instigation, and to the agency of persons in authority under Her Majesty's Government.Let us now see what Mr. Scarlett did upon the receipt of the despatch from the Foreign Office. There was great excitement in Athens, and portraits of Prince Alfred were carried about the streets in procession. Writing on the 24th of November, Mr. Scarlett says—On Saturday evening, after I had dined at home, I was informed by several gentlemen who came in to see me, that a demonstration was actually even then gathering in the streets, and on its way to my house. In about twenty minutes after not less than 2,000 persons, consisting many of them of students and professors, and the most respectable townspeople, with a few cavalry and infantry, assembled in the space in front of the Legation, crying out, 'Long live Prince Alfred, the future King of Greece!' As the crowd showed no intention of retiring from their position, I opened the window and stepped out on the balcony, where I was received with the greatest possible enthusiasm; the portrait of His Royal Highness was exhibited to me from the roof of a carriage in the centre of the procession; the people bore aloft lighted torches, and Bengal lights were burnt to render the scene more imposing. As soon as silence was restored, I shortly thanked them all, in English, for the honour they had done to His Royal Highness, and expressed the sympathy I felt for the Greek nation I asked a Greek gentleman, M. Bondouris, who had just come into the house, to translate the words I had used, which were well received, and they went away loudly cheering.It was evident, therefore, that the words spoken by Mr. Scarlett could not have conveyed the notion that Prince Alfred would not accept. Further on, in the same despatch, he gives the following account of another demonstration: —Yesterday, Sunday, a still larger demonstration appeared about three o'clock before the British Legation, consisting not only of the same people, but also of a large number of persons who had come up on purpose from the Piraeus to Athens to take part in the ceremony. On a platform placed on the top of a carriage were displayed, on this occasion, not only the portrait of Prince Alfred, but also those of Her Majesty the Queen, the Emperor of Russia, and the Emperor of the French. The crowd was fully as orderly and well-conducted as that of the preceding evening. Nearly the same proceedings took place; I was addressed in the same manner, and spoke on this occasion to the same effect, adding that I felt bound to continue my reserve with regard to the name of Prince Alfred, whose acceptation of the throne of Greece depended on considerations which I was unable then to determine.1475 Surely that was holding out hopes to the people that the Prince would accept the throne! At various places in Greece, our Consuls spoke very much to the same effect. At the Piraeus Mr. Neale said—You naturally turn to the free British nation, who in Her Majesty Queen Victoria have been in possession of this inestimable blessing, and the choice of your hearts is fixed on the sailor Prince, Prince Alfred,It was evident from the tenor of those despatches at this time that the people of Greece believed that the question was still open, whether Prince Alfred would or would not eventually accept the throne, The noble Lord expressed himself in anything hut a positive tone upon this subject. If he had, is it to be supposed the people of Greece would have continued to act as they did, under the persuasion that the British Prince might ultimately occupy the throne of their country? I now turn to a remarkable despatch. It is to be found in page 60 of the Correspondence. It appears that Lord Russell had a conversation with M. Tricoupi, on the 29th of November, and that the noble Burl reported that conversation to Mr. Scarlett. In pointing out to him the several reasons which would prevent the acceptance of the throne by Prince Alfred he proceeds as follows: —There are other considerations besides those which I thought it proper to communicate to the Chargé d' Affaires of Greece which influence Her Majesty's resolution on this subject. It is Her Majesty's duty to look to the duo succession to the Crown. Prince Alfred stands next to the Prince of Wales in the order of succession, and is heir-presumptive to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Among the contingencies which are far from being impossible, it might happen that the sons of Prince Alfred, after being brought up as members of the Greek Church, might be called upon to ascend the throne of England. It is necessary to provide against chances of this kind, and you will therefore not be surprised to learn that it is Her Majesty's fixed determination not to give her consent to the acceptance by his Royal Highness Prince Alfred, or any other of Her Majesty's sons, of the Crown of Greece.Why were these considerations not stated before? Why did not Earl Russell express himself with as much frankness to M. Tricoupi? I will tell you. Our Government were then negotiating another protocol with France and Russia, for the exclusion of the members of the reigning families, and it would not have been convenient at the moment to let the whole truth be known. With these facts before the House I think I am justified in characterizing this conduct of the noble Earl as neither just nor fair to the Greek nation. In private life a 1476 transaction characterized by such duplicity and want of candour, would be stigmatized in very severe language, and the most disagreeable epithets would probably be applied to the offending party. Hitherto I have depended solely on public documents; but I have received a great many private letters from Greece, and two of them, which I received this morning, are so important that I may be permitted to read portions of them. I am not at liberty to give the names of the writers, who are persons of great authority in Greece, but I shall be glad to communicate them in confidence to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The first, dated November 25, says—The name of Prince Alfred makes every heart vibrate; what a happiness will it be for the country to have the son of an English Sovereign on the throne! His name will be a guarantee and pledge for the future. We know well that England has an interest in befriending us, and it is this knowledge that leads us to give full faith to the assurances which we receive from her agents here that the Prince Alfred so loved and so desired will accept the throne.The next letter shows what the feeling now is towards our English. It is dated January 18, and runs as follows:—You tell me of the enthusiam of the English for us, but we are not satisfied of this; it is through the English Government we are in this deplorable condition. On the eve of a massacre, we live in perpetual alarm. We were permitted to indulge the idea that Prince Alfred would be allowed to go to Greece, and thus we have lost the support of the other Powers.Having materially injured the Greeks while pretending to assist them, our Government at length set to work to make them ridiculous. Now, one fact is clear. In December Mr. Elliot was sent to Athens on a special mission; he arrived on the 23rd, and on the following day made the first official announcement to the Provisional Government that Prince Alfred could not accept the Throne, But here let me notice a curious incident. On the 9th of February, in reply to a question, the noble Viscount at the head of the Government made the following statement in this House:—The Greek question at present stands thus:— The Greek nation fixed upon the election of Prince Alfred, son of Her Majesty, and it was only yesterday that the Greek Minister communicated that decision to my noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office. To that, of course, the answer given was in conformity with the announcement in the Speech; but no other candidate has yet been proposed to the Greek nation in any formal manner. The Duke of Coburg has been sounded privately on the subject, for the purpose of ascertaining whether, in the event of being proposed or elected by the Greek people, he would 1477 accept the throne, and the Duke of Coburg has declined to he put in nomination for the throne of Greece." [Ante, p. 194.]Now, The Times special correspondent, writing from Athens on the 31st of January, reported that—On Tuesday last Mr. Elliot received a telegraphic message stating that Duke Ernest of Saxe-Coburg was ready to accept the Crown of Greece if it were offered to him; that he was warmly supported both by France and England; that he would retain his paternal dominions; and that, having no children, he reserved to himself the right of proposing at once to the Greek nation a successor who was ready to adopt the orthodox religion.[Mr. LAYARD was understood to dissent.] The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, and, of course, the documents which have been sent to me may be wrong. But on the 5th. of February Mr. Elliot made this speech to a Greek deputation which had waited on him—I am charged by my Government to notify to the Provisional Government of Greece that Her Majesty's Goverement have, with the concurrence of the Emperor of the French, agreed to recommend the Prince Ernest of Saxe-Coburg as a suitable candidate for the throne of Greece. The Emperor eagerly accepted this proposition made by England, and Prince Ernest accepts the throne that is offered him, on the condition that he shall continue to hold, so long as he may consider it desirable that he should do so, his hereditary estates. The Prince, once proclaimed King of Greece, will propose to the National Assembly as his successor one of the sons of his cousin Augustus and the Princess Clementine, daughter of Louis Philippe, late King of France. This Prince is seventeen years of age, and will be educated in the faith of the orthodox Greek Church.From the answer given in this House by the noble Lord, it would really appear as if he had not been acquainted with what was going on in Greece. At all events, if the Duke of Saxe-Coburg had then decidedly declined to accept the throne, it was most inconsistent that Mr. Elliot should thus have trifled with the Greek people. And what does the House suppose was the effect of this? I will take the language of the City Article of The Times on this point. On the 25th of February the writer in that journal says—Greek Bonds are again an eighth lower, and the mortification of the unfortunate holders who made investments at 24, on the faith of the unqualified announcement by the British Government regarding the Duke of Coburg, is increased by the fact, not merely that the manner in which they were misled has never been thought to call for explanation or apology, or caused even a question to be asked in Parliament, but that the affairs of Greece seem now wholly to be discarded for other questions, the country being left to drift 1478 into republican anarchy. In the absence of any light to the contrary, the universal feeling in the City is that a more lamentable instance of mismanagement has not often been witnessed.That is the opinion which was entertained in the City in regard to the conduct of Mr. Elliot, which certainly requires the fullest explanation. But let the House mark the consequences in Greece itself. The Greek Government scarcely knew what to do. I hold in my hand a list of the candidates for whom the Greek people voted, and among the names are Prince Napoleon, "a Republic," a Russian Prince, Prince Ypsilanti, General Garibaldi, the Duke d'Aumale, General M'Mahon, and many others. About 230,000 votes were given for Prince Alfred. I am surprised that one right hon. Gentleman's name opposite is not mentioned among the candidates. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has no idea of his popularity in Greece, and I can only assure him that if he went there, he would find the finest field for his financial abilities. Indeed, there is no end of the candidates whose names were put forward. A Mr. Godfrey de Bouillon was suggested, as was also a Mr. William Cecrops, who claimed his descent from the second daughter of the ancient founder of Athens, and had the advantage of an English education as well as an English Christian name. I come now to another point connected with the same system of trifling upon this question which has created so much dissatisfaction. When Mr. Elliot went to Greece, it was natural for Lord Russell to suppose that his policy would give great dissatisfaction; and the course hit upon for getting rid of that feeling seemed to be by a sort of coup d'état— namely, by a proposal to cede the Ionian Islands. This was meant as a mode of keeping the Greeks quiet, and it has had that effect. I have heard it said by Greeks, "You must be very cautions how you deal with this question. The English Government have behaved very badly in the matter; but if you say too much about it, we shall never get the Ionian Islands." Mr. Elliot arrived at Athens, and in an extraordinary sentence, interlarded with more "ifs" than I recollect ever seeing in the same space, he promised that the Ionian Islands should be given up to Greece, He said—If the new Assembly of the representatives of the Greek nation should prove faithful to this declaration, should maintain constitutional 1479 monarchy, and should refrain from all aggression against neighbouring States, and if they should choose a Sovereign against whom no well-founded objection could be raised, Her Majesty would see in this course of conduct a promise of future freedom and happiness for Greece. In such case Her Majesty, with a view to strengthen the Greek Monarchy, would be ready to announce to the Senate and representatives of the Ionian Islands Her Majesty's wish to see them united to the Monarchy of Greece, and to form with Greece one united State; and if this wish should be expressed also by the Ionian Legislature, Her Majesty would then take steps for obtaining the concurrence of the Powers who were parties to the treaty by which the seven Ionian Islands and their dependencies were placed as a separate State under the protectorate of the British Crown.I cannot help thinking that it would have been better to wait till a constitutional monarchy had been formed, and the opinion of the people of the Ionian Islands taken, before making any such promise as that. This is the reflection that might occur to any man, unless, as I have said, the proposed act of cession was a sort of sugarplum thrown to the Greeks to pacify their very natural dissatisfaction at the treatment they have received. But I ask, are the Greeks being deceived even now in this matter? I find this statement in a telegram from Vienna, dated March 6, and published in The Times—Advices received here from Corfu to the 3rd instant, announce that the Lord High Commissioner has prohibited the assembling of a meeting in favour of the union of the Ionian Islands to Greece, which was to have been held under the presidency of the are Archbishop. The Lord High Commissioner at the same time intimated, that should further similar demonstrations take place, they would be suppressed by the police. The same advices add that the committee of the meeting will protest against these proceedings to the English Ministry.Now, what can the Greek Government think of the conduct of Her Majesty's Ministers in respect to this matter? In many of Earl Russell's despatches he strongly insists that there must be an entire absence of territorial encroachment on the part of the Greek nation. It is extraordinary that it did not suggest itself to that noble Lord that the annexation of the Ionian Islands to Greece had an important bearing on the position of Albania, Thessaly, and Candia. In 1861 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking with the eloquence and energy he always displays, said—Consider again the bearing of this union of the Ionian Islands, if it took place, upon the condition of what I may call the Greek provinces of Turkey. What! Are we to say to the people of 1480 the Ionian Islands, it is so intolerable that you should remain apart from the kingdom that has its capital at Athens; and could we at the same time say, to the people of Candia, Thessaly, and Albania, a Christian Protectorate was too bad for others, a Turkish domination is good enough for you." [3 Hansard, clxii. 1688.]Yet my right hon. Friend, having by his own arguments proved that this cession must be followed by encroachments upon Turkey, is now a party to the proposed surrender of these Islands, and at the same time the Government of which he is a member wishes to discourage the grandes id´es of the Greeks On the same occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer said—The Greeks do entertain a strong sentiment of nationality, and do desire that the day may come when the Greek race shall be again united and powerful. And, Sir, I confess it grieves me to the last degree when I see, as I occasionally do see, that sentiment on the part of this long unhappy and often oppressed people treated in this country with ridicule and scorn. We assume the care of a people who have been for centuries in the most unfortunate circumstances, and who have always been subject, in one form or another, to foreign domination—we couple that assumption with an express recognition of their independence—we find that they retain the memory of the glorious origin from which they sprung; and then that very sentiment, which is in truth the badge, the proof of national, political, and moral life among them, and their best hope and pledge for the future, we set up, and expose as the butt for wanton, cruel, and, I must say, dastardly ridicule." [3 Hansard, clxii. 1683.]These are noble words—words which associate the right hon. Gentleman with the warmest sympathies of the Greeks; and, possessing the support of that right hon. Gentleman, and also of another very eloquent man across the channel—the Count de Montalembert—who spoke the other day in glowing terms of the future development of that race, Greece may well cherish hope. This I will say, that looking to future eventualities in the East, I, for one, must express my great regret that Prince Alfred was not allowed to accept the throne of Greece. I assure the House that this is no party question. I have not had the honour of speaking to hon. or right hon. Gentlemen below me upon it. My only desire is that justice may be done to Greece, and I only hope that it may he done through the noble Lord's Government. I have been requested to read to the House this letter from the Chairman of the Committee of holders of Greek Bonds of 1824 and 1825—Sir,—It having been announced that you intend bringing the present condition of Greece to 1481 the notice of Parliament, the Committee of the Greek Bondholders in England cannot forbear offering their warmest thanks for your valuable exertions on behalf of that country.Prince Wilhelm the younger, brother to the Princess of Wales, has many advantages as a candidate for the throne of Greece. His Protestant religion is in his favour; he is in the naval profession—a great point for a maritime people; he is not connected by descent with any of the three allied guaranteeing Powers. Denmark has a purely constitutional Government, and, further, it enjoys the advantage of having a very high character in financial matters; and we have a right to suppose that he would take with him the prestige of the good name which his country bears, and restore the credit of Greece.Having submitted those facts to the House, and pointed out the actual condition of Greece, and the great responsibility that hangs over her future, I ask, am I not justified in saying that Her Majesty's Government have not treated the people of Greece with justice and good faith? The first formal act of their political existence was to place the dignity. honour, and independence of the country under the protection of Great Britain. They exhibit now the same feeling of touching affection towards this country. Prince Alfred was spoken of throughout his candidature as a son of the beloved and widowed Queen of England; but, I must repeat, the Government have not acted fairly towards them. It might have been perfectly right to have protested against the election of a Russian Prince, to have renewed those protestations, and to have stated that Prince Alfred could not accept the throne of Greece; but it was not right to deceive the Greek Government and people, who had trusted in them, for the sake of a diplomatic victory, at the same time casting the people of Greece into all the dangers of an untried future. For these reasons I ask the Government not only to explain their conduct in the past, but also the course they intend to pursue for the future. I beg leave to move for these Papers.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copy of further Correspondence relating to the Affairs of Greece.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he had followed the observations of his hon. Friend with much pleasure, and in that portion of them in which he regretted the existing untoward state of Greece he entirely concurred. He sympathized in his generous aspira- 1482 tions with regard to the future condition of Greece; but the sentence in which he uttered those aspirations was concluded with the expression of a wish that Prince Alfred had been permitted to ascend the throne of Greece. Now, having regard both to the interests of England and Greece, he must say he thought the Government had been right in the course they had pursued. Independently of those considerations that were pointed out in Earl Russell's Despatch, they could not shut their eyes to the fact that jealousies must have arisen by his succeeding to the throne, that complications of a grave character might have been produced, and that most dangerous precedents might have been established for future thrones to be occupied or made for other Royal or Imperial Princes. Not only so, but they should bear in mind that Prince Alfred was but a young and inexperienced man; that if he had gone to Greece, he must either have had to go alone, or had the assistance of English advisers. Had he gone alone to Greece he might, from his inexperience, have fallen into the hands of those who would have rendered him unpopular; and, on the other hand, had he gone to Greece accompanied by English advisers, although they would, no doubt, have been different to the Bavarian advisers who were with Otho, yet it was well known that the interference of foreigners was apt to irritate, and in a moment of some popular outbreak Prince Alfred might have lost the throne of Greece. An act of great humiliation would thus have been inflicted on England, and a most pernicious and hostile feeling excited towards Greece in this country. There was another point in which he differed from his hon. Friend. He (Mr. Gregory) maintained, that from the very beginning of this business to the end, Government did not hold out any hopes that Prince Alfred would be allowed to accept the throne of Greece. It was important to refer to dates. On the 27th of October the insurrection broke out in Athens, and Mr. Scarlett immediately telegraphed to the Foreign Office. On the 28th another telegram was sent to the Foreign Office conveying the intelligence of the successful issue of the revolution, and it appeared from the papers now placed before them, and from Mr. Scarlett's own statement, that so far from the Government being privy to any impression that Prince Alfred would be permitted to accept the throne of 1483 Greece, the contrary impression was conveyed both by the letter of the 6th of November and the telegram immediately sent on receiving intelligence of the revolution. There could not be better testimony on that point than Mr. Scarlett's own clear and decisive representation of the case at page 119. He says —I observe in one of the newspapers lately received from England that Her Majesty's Government is blamed for not announcing sooner to the Greeks that his Royal Highness Prince Alfred could not accept the throne, and that I ought to have been instructed earlier on this point. To this it may with perfect justice be replied that at the very outset of this movement your Lordship did instruct me to state to the Greek Government the belief of Her Majesty's Government that both Prince Alfred and the Due de Leuchtenburg were excluded under the protocol of 1830—an instruction which I did not fail to carry immediately into effect, by reading both your Lordship's telegrams and the despatch to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Provisional Government.Thus, then, at the very beginning of the revolution, and down to the present time, the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government had been perfectly clear and above-board in regard to the candidature of Prince Alfred, contrasting most favourably with the shifty, and not to mince the matter, double dealing of the Russian Government. On this point also he entirely differed from his hon. Friend, although no doubt they had both the same object in view—namely, the prosperity of Greece. He thought nothing could be more detrimental than that Greece should lose all confidence in England, and he therefore thought it unfortunate that his hon. Friend should endeavour to persuade Greece that Her Majesty's Government had played her false from the beginning to the end of these transactions. Before leaving this part of the discussion he could not help referring to one passage in this correspondence, which was so entirely characteristic of the style of the Foreign Minister, that he ventured to say if it were thrown on the table with five hundred other diplomatic extracts, it would be singled out at once as coming from his pen. It occurred at page 84. Earl Russell was referring to the quibble raised by Count Bloudoff, that, "juridically, he did not consider the Duke of Leuchtenburg excluded by the terms of the protocol, though politically he might be so." and he said—The judicial doubt raised by Prince Gortschakoff, and repeated by Count Bloudoff, seems at length to have been resolved by the unbought popularity of Prince Alfred, and the determina- 1484 tion of the British Government, that the protocol should not hold good for excluding an English Prince and be deemed invalid for excluding a Russian.Well, he (Mr. Gregory) did not find fault with the noble Lord for this little bit of smart writing. The noble Earl had fought very boldly and stoutly against the Russian diplomatists; and if on achieving a very legitimate triumph he flapped his wings a little, such exultation was, of course, very natural. But he (Mr. Gregory) wished to ask his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State a few questions, and he hoped he would take a note of them. The first was, whether since the Foreign Office had been under its present régime there was any particular axiom or rule laid down, that when any extremly difficult matter in foreign affairs had to be conducted, the ordinary diplomatic agents were to be set aside, and the management handed over to a gentleman of one particular family? He meant the family of Elliot—that is, the Elliots with two I's. His hon. Friend would see that there was good reason for asking the question, as he would recollect that a noble Peer hearing that name was sent to Italy in 1848—a difficult and dangerous time—in order to instil into that country an appreciation of the advantages of constitutional government. Of late, when Italy was passing through a very severe ordeal, requiring a man of great ability in communication with the Government, it was proposed to supersede Sir James Hudson, and to replace him by a gentleman of the name of Elliot; and on this occasion he (Mr. Gregory) presumed Mr. Scarlett was considered unequal to the emergency, and a Mr. Elliot was sent out in his place. Mr. Elliot gave his own account of his tour and arrival in Greece. On the 23rd of December Mr. Elliot arrived at Athens, and forthwith held communication with the head of the provisional Government. He said, "Here I am." He opened his budget and said, "This is what I have; I have the King of Portugal in one hand, and the Ionian Islands in the other. I have brought them both to you." The Greeks certainly did not seem to have received that intimation with any great degree of enthusiasm. But Mr. Elliot was evidently a man of considerable power of persuasion, for in a few days alter, on the 2nd of January, he wrote a rather extraordinary despatch, to the effect that, up to that point, the mistaken confidence of the Greeks in the 1485 election of Prince Alfred had had a most beneficial effect. But the beneficial effect was increased a week after, when an undeniable improvement had taken place in the opinions of the influential classes regarding the King of Portugal. After that Undeniable improvement, which was no doubt owing to the persuasion of Mr. Elliot, all at once there came down upon the people a clap of thunder, in the shape of a despatch, fourteen days later, from Lord Russell, stating that he was sorry to say that King Ferdinand, on account of his affection for his sons, had declined the throne. Now, he (Mr. Gregory) asked why did not the Government ascertain the state of the King of Portugal's affections before hand? Was any application inside to the King of Portugal? If so, let them know it, and hear what it was. But if no application was made to the King of Portugal, then he (Mr. Gregory) contended there was a most unwarrantable liberty taken with a Royal personage, and a most cruel delusion practised on the Greeks, by proposing to them as King a person whose candidature was a mere idea of a British Minister. The Greeks, however, were still to have a repetition of this expectation, because, after they had been informed on the 15th that King Ferdinand had declined the throne, Lord Russell informed Mr. Elliot, on the 19th, that the Duke of Coburg might well he brought under the notice of the Greek Provisional Government, but upon the 8th of February the noble Lord the Prime Minister announced that the Duke of Saxe-Coburg had declined to accept the throne if he was elected. There appeared, to use a common but expressive phrase, to have been a series of "sells" practised upon the Greek nation; and if Her Majesty's Government were to blame for pulling forward those two illustrious names without first ascertaining the views of the personages themselves, he could only regard such diplomacy as reckless. It was reckless, because, it made our diplomacy the laughing-stock of Europe—and because it did away with the legitimate influence which England ought to possess in Greece; for it was to a prosperous, a well-governed, and an extended Greece that he, for one, looked eventually for the main solution of the so-called eastern question. And as he had spoken of an "extended" Greece, he would add, that he entirely approved of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in proposing the cession of the Ionian Islands. His 1486 hon. Friend had declared that that proposal was a mere sop, to make other less agreeable things go down, and he quoted a speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year. But his hon. Friend must see, that if the Ionian Islands were offered to Greece at a time when that country was well governed, they were denied to her at a time when she was one of the worst-governed countries in Europe; and that was the whole fact of the matter. He was perfectly prepared to advocate at some future time the cession of the Ionian Islands, even on strategic considerations; but he advocated it mainly on the grounds on which his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Queen's County (Colonel Dunne) the other night opposed it. His hon. and gallant Friend said, that if the Islands were attached to Greece, they would be a standing menace to the opposite coast of Turkey. That was the very reason why he (Mr. Gregory) supported their cession. Another reason was this. It was said that we had espoused the cause of oppressed nationalities in Hungary, Venice, and Italy, that we had uttered our protest against the proceedings in Poland, yet here we were keeping down a nationality which was desirous of escaping from our protection, or domination, and whose aspirations to be joined to another country, with which they considered themselves naturally connected, had frequently been quenched in blood. These were the reasons which induced him (Mr. Gregory) to support Her Majesty's Government in these questions. But before he sat down perhaps the House would allow him to make some observations on a subject which, though not strictly connected with that which had been introduced by his hon. Friend, yet was on such intimate relation with it that it ought not to be passed over in silence. He had long thought that the policy of England as regarded what was called the Eastern question was well worthy at the present moment of the very gravest consideration; and in making that observation he did not in the slightest degree mean to impugn the policy which had hitherto been pursued by English statesmen. All he meant to do was this—to assert that our past policy should not be accepted as a criterion and standard for the future. He contended, that although the past policy of the English Government had been to preserve the integrity of the Turkish Empire, even though it might have been accompanied with great disaster to 1487 those unfortunate nationalities which had been groaning under that government, yet that, on the whole, perhaps, the interests of Europe required that England should maintain the policy she had hitherto followed. But he asserted that things were now different. The principle on which that policy was pursued was contained in the maxim, "Out of two evils choose the least." It had been our ungrateful hut perhaps necessary task to preserve and maintain an imbecile, corrupt and irreclaimable government, which had hung like a millstone round the neck of some of the fairest provinces of Europe—a government under which all knowledge, all education, every aspiration which sprung from civilization had long been defunct—a dynasty which was rotten to the very heart's core, under which advancement was sought, not by great deeds or by great experience, or even by great worth, but by venality and corruption, the means for which were obtained through the misery and suffering of those unfortunate populations who were ruled by emissaries from Constantinople—a dynasty whose predominant characteristics were its ignorance and corruption — a dynasty which not one sane person in Europe believed to be otherwise than hopelessly incurable, and with regard to which there was not a man with a spark of humanity in his bosom, who knew the state of the case, but would rejoice with exceeding joy when the day of the dissolution of the sick man should arrive. That was the condition of Turkey; and it was an odious and ungrateful task of England to uphold and preserve such a Power. There was, indeed, on the other hand, an unscrupulous and aggressive State, the hereditary policy of which pointed to Constantinople as the place from which they would dominate the East; and the greatest captain of modern times said that the will of the Czar would give the law to Europe if Russia possessed Constantinople. England had then hut a choice of evils, either to preserve the Turkish Empire or submit to a European war and Russian aggrandisement. Of two evils perhaps they chose the least in upholding Turkey. But the time was come when a change of policy ought to be made. The Russia of 1862 was no longer the Russia of 1852. He did not mean to say that the aspirations of Russia were not the fame. The papers before them still showed her arrogant spirit and her intrigues in the Danubian Principalities, but her means were not the same. Russia, to 1488 use the expression of an illustrious Member of that House, was "crumpled up" in every one of the materials of her strength —ships, stores, men, and money; the discontent of Poland was eating like an ulcer into her very heart, and, as a letter which they had lately read announced, the Russian Government was sitting on a volcano. They might now, therefore, he able to do justice to those nationalities which were endeavouring to emerge from the prostration they had long suffered under, and to join the rest of Europe in the onward march of improvement and freedom. He referred particularly to Servia and the Danubian Principalities. He also looked upon the territorial extension of Greece as an absolute necessity, and he justified such an extension by the language which they had invariably held in that House with regard to Italy, for they said that the extension of Italian territory was necessary to her strength and security. He found exactly the same line of argument in a French paper, which contended, that as Italy was not able to change her régime without being forced to claim the internal provinces, so it was impossible for the Kingdom of Greece to be established without the acquisition of the Ionian Islands, Candia, Thessaly, and Epirus. Whatever our past policy might have been, this was the true solution of the Eastern question. It was impossible to expect a stable Government in Servia or the Danubian Principalities as long as they were exposed to intrigues, and intrigues would continue as long as the influence of England was exerted in favour of a Power under whom they considered it impossible for them to progress. What was the complaint of those nationalities? It was that it was not Turkey that was keeping them down, but the strong hand and influence of England. A writer in the Revue des Deux Mondes, the ablest of French periodicals, said that there was no longer a. Turkey in the East but England and an English Government, that Greece, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, the Danubian Provinces, no longer looked to Constantinople but to London, and that Turkey had found out the secret of being more formidable now than she was in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, by being nothing of herself, but everything through England. Could they wonder, then, after the intrigues which had lately taken place, and which led to the foulest and most inexplicable bombardment of an unoffending city that 1489 had ever occurred, when England was supposed to be on the side of the wrongdoer, that those provinces should look to any quarter rather than to England. It was the policy of England that the Christian provinces of Turkey should be tranquil, prosperous, and contented; it was the policy of Russia that they should be unquiet, wretched, and discontented. The Emperor Nicholas, in 1853, informed Sir Hamilton Seymour that he would never permit the attempted reconstruction of the Byzantine empire, or such an extension of Greece as would render her a powerful state. The Greeks were perfectly aware of what they owed to Russia. On the other hand, they looked to England for countenance and support, and were delighted when, on the occasion of the recent revolution in their country, they found that the old spirit which had sent Byron, and Cochrane, and Church, to Greece, had nut died away. The despatch which Lord Russell wrote after the late revolution was one which reflected the greatest credit on him; it was translated into Greek, and the Greeks carried it about in their pockets as a kind of phylactery or charm, a compliment not often paid to the noble Lord's despatches in foreign countries. In that despatch the noble Lord said, "Her Majesty's Government cannot deny that the Greeks have had good cause for the action they have taken." And in another paragraph he foretold, that if the Government should act with prudence, the future of Greece would be a degree of prosperity which it never before attained. He (Mr. Gregory) advocated an extension of territory for Greece because the territory which the Greeks coveted was sure sooner or later to full into the hands of some Power or other, and because, that being so, it was well that England should hold out some encouragement to Greece, if she established her claim to this increased territory by good order and good government. He would not now raise the question of Tur-ke3', because he had given notice of his intention to bring the whole subject of that country before the House after Easter. But he might say that the prediction of his hon. Friend (Mr. Layard) that the reign of the new Sultan would inaugurate a new state of things in Turkey had altogether failed. The only difference between the present and the late Sultan was that the present was a retrograde fanatic, where as the other was a weak, imbecile debauché. Turkey was as incapable in internal reform 1490 as in adopting European civilization. Various modes of resuscitating Turkey had been tried, but in vain; and now her regeneration was attempted by filling the Sultan's coffers with English money. This was a complete mistake. The last Sultan lavished his money upon women and palaces. The present Sultan spent his treasures upon soldiers and barracks. As to the Greeks, justice had hardly yet been rendered to them. People imagined that a few years of self-government, or rather of mis-government, would eradicate in a country the seeds sown during centuries of tyranny and oppression, and that, like Minerva, they would emerge at once in the full panoply of every social and political virtue. But, applying the ordinary tests to the condition of Greece, there was much ground of confidence as to her future. Within the last thirty years she had doubled her population; the most anxious desire was shown for education. Primary and secondary schools, lyceums, academies, and gymnasiums — old terms which fell pleasantly on the ears of the Greeks—had sprung up. His hon. Friend would, perhaps, tell the House that the blood of Pericles, and Epaminondas, and Brasidas, did not flow in the veins of the modern Greeks, but they still cherished the old traditions, still had the letters which Cadmus gave them, and were the inheritors of those winged words which had traversed continents and seas, and were still loved and cherished wherever the reasoning powers were to be expanded, or the imagination to be pleased, or a sense of beauty was left among mankind. The Greeks had monopolized the whole commerce of the Levant; Greek houses had establishments in all parts of Europe; the little rocky isle of Syra was the emporium of the Archipelago. The deduction from all this was that England should use her endeavours to procure for Greece a wise and enlightened Prince, who should not be fettered in his views respecting an increase of territory by any diplomatic action on the part of this country. Other nations had their grandes idées; and if the Greeks aspired to Constantinople for their capital and St. Sophia for their sanctuary, he trusted that such an aspiration might ultimately be realized. In the hope that increased territory might come to them, not by violence, conspiracy, or aggression, but by such an example of good government as should induce other nations to cluster round them by a sort of natural gravitation, he 1491 begged to second the Motion of the hon. Member.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
Sir, I doubt whether my hon. Friend has done very good service to the cause which he has so warmly advocated by converting the question before us into a Turkish question. I think, that if in one point more than another Greece has won the sympathy of Europe, it is that her people have shown a self-command which is the real foundation of all freedom, and that in this crisis of their fate they have thought about their own Government and their own internal affairs instead of being tempted into foreign aggression. It is this, I believe, which has led Her Majesty's Government to join with the rest of Europe in according to the Greeks their best sympathy and approbation. As to the policy of Her Majesty's Government, I do believe that it has been founded upon the best intentions towards Greece, but I cannot think that the issue has been so successful as the intention was good. They intended to show for the Greek revolution at once interest and respect. Their interest in it has been shown, but I hardly think that they have treated that great event with respect by leaving it, as they have left it, so entirely in the hands of diplomacy; nor can I think that diplomacy has shown itself as wise or as successful as we might have hoped to see it. There were two lines of conduct which England might have pursued, and I think that each would have been more successful than the middle line which she has actually adopted. For my part, I can-nut agree with those who hold that there was an absolute necessity of re-establishing the protocol which excludes from the throne of Greece the leading princes of Europe. What is the effect of that protocol? At this moment we tell the Greek people that they are at liberty to choose what Sovereign they please, and at the same time we exclude from their choice all the Royal personages of those three great Powers who may be supposed to be brought up with the largest views and the highest intelligence of which Royal persons are capable. We, in fact, limit the choice of the Greek people to the princes of Germany. We deprive them of all that sympathy in religion and race which we might secure by electing a Russian prince; we deprive them of the means of strengthening that great intellectual and sympathetic connection which they have long bad with France by preventing them from electing 1492 a French prince; and we deprive them of the best chance of constitutional liberty by preventing them from calling an English prince to the Greek throne. I do not think, that even if this protocol had not existed, Her Majesty's Government would have done right in acceding to the election of Prince Alfred. My objection to their doing so would he founded on different grounds. I believe that the free choice of the Greeks should light on some man of ability and experience—on some man who would be fully capable, understanding the work he had undertaken, of earning out the duties of his position with courage and prudence. I do not think it would be prudent to place on the throne of Greece a young and inexperienced prince, which, providing it meant anything, would mean "the protection of England." I believe the Greek people ought not to be under any protection, but should be left to do the best they can, to stand by themselves; but if, on the one hand, diplomacy was to be introduced into this matter—if the occupancy of the Greek throne was to be made the pour parler from Court to Court—if that line of diplomacy was to be pursued, I cannot understand why it should not have been more reticent. If it had been more reticent, it might have been more successful. Why was it known and commented on by every newspaper in every part of Europe that the King of Portugal had been asked but had refused to become a candidate for the throne of Greece? Why was the Duke of Saxe-Coburg's name mentioned before it had been ascertained whether he could become a candidate? Why, above all, was the imprudence committed of allowing Mr. Elliot to proclaim to the Greek people the candidature of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg before that illustrious prince had consulted his own States in order to know whether he should receive from them that sanction without which he could not accept the throne of Greece. No doubt it is to be regretted that a prince of his high courage, intellectual ability, and enlightened views, has not felt himself in a position to become a candidate. If he had been permitted to commit the charge of his own State to a Regent while he reigned in Greece, I believe there would have been every hope of his achieving a success equal to that which has attended his distinguished uncle's occupancy of the throne of Belgium. But I believe the Duke of Saxe-Coburg acted rightly in making that a condition; for I do not 1493 know how much of the success of the King of the Belgians may not be owing to the fact of the Belgian people knowing that any day he was ready to come back to Claremont. On this point we are now at sea. It seems that there is no candidate in the field who has received the sanction of the Powers of Europe. If my hon. Friend (Mr. Layard) is not able to name one this evening, I should venture to advise the Government that we should give up looking for candidates. I think it would be better that the Greek people should have to try the principles of self-government for some time than that we should go on in the useless course of proposing prince after prince, and getting refusal after refusal. The future of Greece does not seem to me to depend very much on the character of the Sovereign who may happen to be elected, because the real test of the fitness of a nation to exist is its power of enduring an unpopular Sovereign for at least a considerable time, and of choosing a new one when there is no other resource. I should therefore be glad if it were possible to combine the throne of Greece with some other principle than that of popular election. If some arrangement could not be made' by which an appearance, a semblance of succession to the Greek Throne was established, I cannot see that it would lead to any considerable advantage; and if that course is not adopted, I see nothing for Greece but a Provisional Government for a considerable period. Greece is not m-w in municipal institutions. Her municipal institutions in the olden times carried her through under the Roman Empire, and later they enabled her to survive through the Byzantine period and under the domination of the Turks. They have been a considerable agent in the liberation of the country, and why should she not, in a great measure, revert to those institutions? Why, with the aid of those institutions, should not Greece continue for some time under a Republican form of Government? I believe, that if she succeeded in that, she would acquire a high position. It would be a hard test, a strong test; but let her succeed in standing it, and the time will come when princes will not think it unworthy of them to obtain the chief magistrature of such n State, and to take part in shaping the destiny of such a nation. I believe that destiny is one to be won by prudence and self-control: but hitherto I am bound to say the mercantile classes of Greece have not shown the 1494 patriotic spirit that might have been expected of them, by taking back to their own land the wealth acquired in foreign countries, and using it to fructify the resources of Greece. We know very well the ability of Greek merchants in foreign cities. We know very well that there are hardly any merchants who can compete with them on 'Change in the great commercial cities. Why is not that skill and energy to be employed for the benefit of their own country? In this crisis of their fortunes, let the Greek people but show a spirit of self-control in their own Government, endeavouring, if they can, to elect a wise, good, and courageous man for a Sovereign, hut let them not go about Europe looking for a foreign Sovereign as a symbol of foreign protection. If they could secure some one of the able men from whose number they are still permitted to choose, I should heartily rejoice in it; but I profoundly regret that by the provisions of the protocol they are prevented from choosing such men as the Duke of Leuchtenberg, Prince Napoleon, and the Duke of Cambridge. I believe that the political combinations which might arise from such a choice would be comparatively unimportant as compared with the advantages which would accrue from having an experienced man and an intelligent Sovereign at the head of the Greek people.
§ MR LAYARD
Sir, of the three hon. Gentlemen who have spoken on this question no one agrees with the other, though all seem to disagree with the policy of Her Majesty's Government, except my hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory), the earlier part of whose speech I admire more than the latter. I am desirous of calling the attention of the House to dates. I think dates have been somewhat overlooked, especially by my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton. To judge from what fell from my hon. Friend, it might be supposed that Her Majesty's Government had not, throughout the whole of those events in Greece, held the same language. He says we have treated the Greeks unjustly and ungenerously, that we have misled them, that their present difficulties are a consequence of that line of policy, and that if those difficulties should increase and disaster ensue, we shall be responsible. Now, I think that by referring to dates I shall be able to show that my hon. Friend's charge is an unjust one. On the 27th of October the news of 1495 the revolution in Greece was telegraphed to us, and there was not the slightest idea then that an English prince would he elected to the throne. Earl Russell did that which he was bound to do; he stated that the English Government was not desirous of intervening in any way in the affairs of Greece, that they admitted that the Greeks had a full tight to change their Government and elect another King, and all that England meant to do was to adhere to treaty engagements and to insist on other Powers doing the same. Shortly afterwards a rumour reached England that the Greeks were likely to elect Prince Alfred for their King. Earl Russell at once telegraphed to Mr. Scarlett to the effect that the future King of Greece could not be a member of a reigning family of either of the three Powers which had been parties to the protocol drawn up at the time of the first revolution. The opinion of the French Government was asked, and, as will be seen at page 21 of these papers, they stated that they took the same view of the protocol as we did. They considered the engagement then entered into to he binding, and they meant to adhere to it. The Russian Government were also asked for their views, and they answered that they adhered to the views expressed in the protocol, but that they insisted upon the article of the Greek Constitution which made it necessary that the next King of Greece should be of the orthodox faith. This answer naturally excited some suspicion in the minds of Her Majesty's Government, seeing that there were no princes coining within that definition except the princes of the Imperial House of Russia. It was thought necessary to ascertain the views of the Russian Government still more fully, and we asked this distinct question and required to it a categorical answer—Does the Russian Government consider the Duke of Leuchtenberg to be included in that protocol? Originally, perhaps, the Duke was nut a member of the Imperial family; but by a special ukase he was made a member of it, under the title of Prince Romanoffsky. To this question we got at first an equivocal answer, and it was some time before we could obtain an assurance from Prince Gortschakoff that the Duke of Leuchtenberg was included in the protocol. The exchange of notes in which that assurance is conveyed only took place on the 4th of December. Any hon. Gentleman who will read the reasons which Earl Rus- 1496 sell gave as to the necessity of arriving at a complete understanding with Russia as to the persons included in the protocol will come to the conclusion, I think, that my noble Friend was perfectly right in what he did. Prince Alfred stood in two separate and distinct conditions in regard to the Greeks. We had stated that for certain reasons he could not accept the Crown of Greece. Those were great reasons of State; they were fully understood and appreciated by the country at large, and they received the support of the entire press of this country. Everybody felt that it was not desirable that a prince of the English blood so nearly related to the Queen, and so near in the order of succession, should accept the throne of Greece. But these reasons only applied in this specific case to Prince Alfred personally. There were general reasons which would exclude him and every other prince of the English blood Royal from the throne under the protocol. Earl Russell thus puts forward his views on this subject as applied equally to the Duke of Leuchten berg—The line of Great Britain upon this question has been clear and simple. She might hind herself by a protocol or a declaration by which the other two protecting Powers should be equally bound; or she might, for the sake of British interests, refuse to entangle herself in the politics of Greece, and to separate from her own Royal family a prince so near in the order of succession to the Crown. But, as Her Majesty's Government considered the Duke of Leuchtenberg as a prince of the Imperial family of Russia, they could not declare themselves to be bound by the protocol of 1830, without knowing what that protocol meant. If it was meant that Prince Alfred should be bound to refuse, and Prince Romanoff-sky free to accept the Crown of Greece, that would have been, in the eyes of Her Majesty's Government a position of inferiority and inequality which Great Britain could not accept.That reasoning is perfectly conclusive. Earl Russell did not at any time change his language on this subject. If the hon. Gentleman will look through the papers, he will see that from the beginning, in all his communications with the Russian Government, with the French Government, and with M. Tricoupi, Earl Russell distinctly stated that Prince Alfred could not accept the Crown of Greece. My hon. Friend opposite has mixed up two different things. Earl Russell at one time did give instructions to Mr. Scarlett not to interfere in the elections; but if my hon. Friend will follow me, he will see that in so doing he in no way departed from his first declaration that Prince Alfred could not accept 1497 the throne. The Greeks had a perfect right, if they chose, to elect Prince Alfred, after having being solemnly warned, as they were warned, that he could not accept the Crown, and we certainly should not have been justified in attempting to prevent them if we could have done so. But suppose we had interfered in the election before the Russian Government had declared their views about the protocol. We knew that there were intrigues going on in Greece in favour of the Duke of Leuchtenberg—I will not say that they were intrigues prompted by the Russian Government—but there were intrigues. If we had insisted that Prince Alfred should not be elected, the Greeks might have considered themselves free to elect the Duke of Leuchtenberg; and Russia, not having admitted the validity of his exclusion by the protocol, might have turned round and said, "You may have withdrawn Prince Alfred, but we do not see any reason why we should withdraw the Duke of Leuchtenberg, and we insist on his election." There was no concealment in the policy of England, and it will be seen in the papers that Lord Napier was instructed by Earl Russell to state distinctly to Prince Gortschakoff that we should consider it our duty to do all we could to oppose the election of the Duke of Leuchtenberg. We had good reasons for doing so. I believe the policy of Her Majesty's Government was a wise policy, and I have not the least doubt that the election of the Duke of Leuchtenberg would have been as mischievous to Greece as to Europe. There were other reasons, also, for not intervening. We were told by persons well acquainted with Greece, that if any attempt were made at that time to check the general unanimous feeling in favour of Prince Alfred, mischief might occur; that Greece had been left suddenly in a state of great disorder, and that the only chance of restoring order was by such a candidate as Prince Alfred being put forward. My hon. Friend read a lung list of candidates, but he did not read the number of votes given for them. Very few votes, in fact, were given for any one but Prince Alfred, and the election was practically unanimous, I hope the few words I have said will make it clear to the House that the conduct of the Government has been perfectly straightforward. We felt the deepest interest in Greece, hut it was not for us to interfere with them in their choice of a Government. They had a perfect right to 1498 change their Government as they chose. We were bound by solemn treaties, and it was our duty to ascertain what view was taken of those engagements by the other contracting parties. My hon. Friend the Member for Galway amused himself by making some observations in reference to Mr. Elliot, whose position he entirely mistakes, and who, he thinks, on the strength of his spelling his name with two "I's" and one "t," was selected, as a near connection of Lord Russell, for a special but unnecessary mission to Greece. If Mr. Elliot is an instance of the advantage of having such family connections, I can only say that he is a very discouraging example of being related to the head of the Foreign Office; for just as he was comfortably settled at Naples, he was suddenly deprived, by no fault of his own, of his position there, and has since remained unemployed in his profession. He had been previously in Greece; and when it became necessary to send a special mission to Greece, as he was not employed in active service, he was chosen for it. Had another diplomatist been taken from some other post for temporary employment, whilst Mr. Elliot was permanently put in his place, my hon. Friend might have had some ground for blaming Lord Russell. It is said that we deceived the Greeks by holding out other candidates. But, if you look carefully at the language used by Her Majesty's Government, you will see that there was nothing in it calculated to deceive the Greeks. Her Majesty's Government have not the slightest wish to deprive the Greek nation of the utmost liberty in choosing their king. It is true the King of Portugal was mentioned to them by us, under the impression that he would he inclined to accept the crown. His administration of the affairs of Portugal had been such that, if he had thought fit to accept, a more eligible candidate for the crown of Greece could not have been found, and Her Majesty's Government recommended him to the Greeks upon that ground. Unfortunately, he thought fit to decline. The next candidate was the Duke of Saxe-Coburg. It is well known that he is a wise and liberal prince, and I believe, if the Greeks had had the good fortune to obtain him for their King, they would be in a few years in a very different position from what they are now. Her Majesty's Government recommended him under the impression that he was prepared to accept, but unexpected difficulties 1499 arose in another quarter. His Chambers refused, except under certain inadmissible conditions, to sanction his acceptance of the throne of Greece, and he declined. I should have limited myself to these remarks upon the policy of Her Majesty's Government in the case of Greece, if observations had not fallen from hon. Members to which it is very desirable a reply should be given. The policy of Her Majesty's Government in the East has of late been very much misunderstood and very deliberately misrepresented. Her Majesty's policy in Greece is a part and parcel of her policy in the East. I believe that the necessity to Greece of an extension of territory has been greatly exaggerated. What is the utmost extension you could, upon any just grounds, claim for Greece? The only parts of the Turkish Empire inhabited entirely by Greeks are Thessaly and part of Epirus. They are mountainous districts. Thessaly possesses one fine harbour and one or two plains, but, I believe, that neither Thessaly nor Epirus would in any way add to the material strength or wealth of Greece. The Greeks have been diverted from that which would have really contributed to their welfare and happiness by this cry after an extension of territory in Turkey. Such extension would not add to their trade, or to their material resources. Their commerce is more the commerce of brokers. They have never been a manufacturing people, nor have they been merchants in the strict sense of the term. I grant that they have driven the English merchants out of the East, but how has that happened? The English merchant, under the ancient Levant Company, and his successor was one of those merchant princes of whom we hear people often speak. He lived in great luxury. He had horses and carriages. He indulged in profuse hospitality. To live in that way be had to make a great deal of money, and it was done by selling his goods at enhanced prices. The Greek, who became his rival, and finally succeeded him, lived on olives and cuttlefish. He slept on a carpet in his reception-room. He indulged in no luxury. He devoted his whole intelligence and ability to trade, and very great, I admit, are the intelligence and enterprise of the Greeks. The consequence was that he was able to undersell the great English merchants, and one after another they went. But by selling English goods at a less price they have 1500 very much increased the English trade, so that, undoubtedly, we are greatly indebted to the Greeks. Greece is remarkably well calculated for a race of enterprising people such as its present inhabitants. The people have maritime tastes, and the country is full of the finest harbours. They could command the most extensive and lucrative carrying trade, but all their prospects have been destroyed by the fatal spirit of intrigue. Instead of seeking to develop the resources which they possessed, they have sought to extend their territories and to look for other resources. This has led to great and unnecessary expenditure. They had an army and navy of no use whatever. They were compelled to maintain a useless and expensive diplomacy. Representative institutions fell into contempt; there was a general state of insecurity. No roads were formed, no improvements were -effected; bankruptcy supervened; they did not pay their debts; their public men forfeited the public confidence—the same fate followed the King and Queen, and the end was the expulsion of the Bavarian dynasty. Her Majesty's Government have been constantly advising them to give up that fatal policy, and devote their attention to the improvement of the country. The answer has been, "You are enemies to the Christians; you are friends to the Turks." I believe the advice which was given was sound, and that if it had been taken, the Greeks would not have been in the condition in which they now are. No country in Europe was in such an admirable position as Greece. No one could attack her, for she was guaranteed by the European Towers. She needed no army and no diplomacy. And, with regard to Turkey, I defy any one to say, that during the connection of Turkey and Greece Turkey has ever violated any of her stipulations with Greece. If there have been violations of treaties, they have systematically been by the Greeks and not by the Turks. Hon. Gentlemen say, that we offered to cede the Ionian Islands to compensate for the disappointment felt by the Greeks when we refused them a prince. Two or three years ago I had the honour to take part in a debate on the Ionian Islands in this House, and the views which I expressed then I maintain now. If we had given to Greece the Ionian Islands at a time when the policy of Greece was so aggressive, it would have been fatal to British policy in the East. 1501 We have made it a condition that Greece must give up her aggressive views if she expects this Government to cede to her the Ionian Islands. I remember that I said, the time might come when it would be equally advantageous to this country and to Greece for this country to cede the Ionian Islands, and I hope and trust that time will very shortly arrive. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) further touched on our policy in the East, and it is of the greatest importance there should be clear views as to what that policy really is. The cry has been raised, that the Turks look to London rather than to Constantinople. I remember M. Thiers on one occasion saying, when commencing a speech in the French Chambers, "I am going to give you a lecture on geography." I will not venture to lecture the House, but I wish to draw attention to three or four facts. Of what is Turkey in Europe composed? There are the Danubian Principalities, under the suzerainty of the Porte, inhabited by an unmixed Christian population, with their independence guaranteed by the European Powers, so that Turkey hi\s only to receive the annual tribute. You have Servia, with rights not so extensive, inhabited by a pure Sclavonic race of the Greek faith, but in no wise dependent upon the Constantinopolitan head of the orthodox Greek Church. On the contrary, one of her first struggles was to release herself from the government of the Greek Patriarch at Constantinople, and to obtain an independent Patriarch in Belgrade. You have Bulgaria, inhabited by a race presenting an ethnological anomaly. Although speaking a debased Sclavonic language, they are, in fact, a Tartar tribe. The landowners are Turks, and they hold the land absolutely. The labouring population are Christians of the Greek faith, yet not accepting the superintendence of the Greek Patriarch at Constantinople, for a very short time ago so great was the struggle to throw off the government of the Greek Patriarch, that they actually threatened the become Roman Catholics if they did not succeed. You have Bosnia, inhabited by a Sclavonic race. At the time of the Turkish conquest the landowners embraced the Mohammedan faith to save their lands. They were the old feudal landowners, and in some cases properties have descended among them for hundreds of years. But the agricultural population are of the Greek faith. In Roumelia you have the 1502 Bulgarians, a Sclavonic people of the Greek faith, but the landowners are Turks, descendants of the conquerors. We then come to Albania, where, with the exception of the south, the population is Mohammedan. They are not Sclaves, nor are they Greeks. In Thessaly, a very small province, you have a substratum of the Greek race, but there too, the landowners are for the most part descendants of the old Mohammedan conquerors; while in Macedonia the substratum is Sclavonic with the exception, that a few seaport towns are inhabited by Greeks. But what, let me ask, are the relative populations of these provinces, for it is of importance the real facts of the case should be known to the country. I find that M. Ubicini, who is a good authority on the subject, gives the population of Turkey in Europe as follows: — Mohammedans, 4,550,000; Greeks, 1,000,000; Armenians, 400,000; Sclaves, 6,200,000; and Roumans, 4,000,000. About one million of the Sclaves inhabit the principality of Servia, the Roumans are the inhabitants of the Danubian Principalities. In Constantinople you have Mohammedans, 475,000; Armenians, 205,000; the Greeks being only 130,000. Such being the case, you will perceive that the great majority of the population of Constantinople is Mohammedan, while in the provinces the Mohammedans, who exceed four millions, are also the great landowners. More than this, they are men inured to arms, against whom the Christians have no power of successfully contending. I must, moreover, maintain, in opposition to my hon. Friend, that it was not the Turks who corrupted the Greeks, but the Greeks who corrupted the Turks, and I venture to say that no conquerors ever pursued a more liberal policy than that which the Turks adopted. They acknowledged the church of the Greeks and their municipal system. It is all very well to talk of taking the Greeks to Constantinople. Indeed, I do not exactly know what is meant by those who speak after that fashion. Do they desire to give Constantinople a Greek Administration and a Greek King? That is to say to put foreigners there to reign over the Bulgarians, Roumans, and Mohammedans of various races, and thus to violate all the principles of nationality. If so, you would only bring about a state of things infinitely worse than that which now exists. Now, without being particularly in love with 1503 the Mohammedans, I wish to be just to all parties; and how, let me ask, if the views to which I have adverted are carried into effect, do you propose to deal with the large population of Mohammedan landowners? Are you to forfeit their lands? Fortunately, the Sultan has never preached a war of religion; for if he were to raise that cry, the whole Mohammedan population would rise, and the result would be too horrible to contemplate. It is not to be expected that 4,000,000 of a warlike race of landowners would give up their land without a struggle; they would fight, and either conquer the Christians, or the Powers of Europe would step in, and thus lead to a European war. My hon. Friend alluded to Belgrade, and I think it is well to state that Servia was under the guarantee of the European Powers; that Turkey never broke her treaties with Seivia, while Servia over and over again violated them in the case of Turkey. When, however, there was a struggle in Servia between those who attempted to oppress the people and the people themselves, the Porte invariably took the side of the liberal party. For two years there had been deliberate attempts made to break treaties, and to drive the Turks from Belgrade. The Turkish population, which lived near the walls of the fortress, had negligently allowed the Greeks to build within the gates which were the outworks of the fortress. The Prince of Servia instituted a military police, by whom the Turkish quarter was attacked. Before the bombardment the Servians fired at the castle, and sacked the Turkish quarter, murdering many women and men, and the Pasha, who was greatly alarmed, bombarded the town —a step which could not be justified. A man accustomed to military command would not have done it, but there was a certain amount of provocation. To throw the blame of what followed entirely on the Turks is to adopt a line of argument totally at variance with the facts of the case. The Porte did its utmost to make amends by deposing the Pasha and sending one of its most eminent statesmen to make an inquiry into the facts of the case. Now, what we say is that we should like to see the position of the Christians improved; that we should wish them to have the full enjoyment of their properties, to be allowed to profess their religion unmolested, and to be as well governed as possible. That we believe to be a much safer and surer way to better their con- 1504 dition, and to prepare them for the destiny which may be in store for them, than to permit them to be worked upon every year by intriguers, and exposed to be put down by Turkish or European intervention. You say we are always interfering in Turkey; hut all we ask is, that no one else should interfere. Then we shall have no wish to do so. We have no desire to throw back these Christian populations for years and years, instead of allowing them to improve their condition. What has happened in Montenegro in consequence of her recent war, brought on by foreign intriguers? She has lost some of her best men, has been thrown back fifty years, and has gained nothing. If she had taken our advice, instead of wantonly attacking the Turks, and of rising in so hopeless a manner, all this would not have happened. My conviction is, then, that the policy pursued by the Government is a just and wise policy, and that it is the best, not only for the Christians themselves, but for Europe at large, which can be adopted.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the speech of the hon. Gentleman was directed to the state of Turkey, rather than the conduct of Her Majesty's Government, in reference to the affairs of Greece. He never remembered a debate which wandered so widely from its legitimate object; and in the few observations which he should address to the House he should endeavour to confine himself strictly to the matter they had in hand. It was natural that his hon. Friend the Member for Honiton, so long and so honourably connected with Greece, should look at the question from a Greek point of view; but, fur himself, while wishing the Greeks well, and hoping that they would do in future what they had failed, according to the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary, to do in the past—namely, that they would pay attention to their commerce, cultivate their land, pay their debts, and respect the landmarks of their neighbours, he should discuss the question in an English sense, and with reference to European consideration. The question the House had to discuss was really very simple—namely, had the conduct of the English Government since the revolution broke out in Greece been manly, straightforward, and honest, and had their policy been a policy calculated to maintain the reputation of England and secure the tranquillity of Eastern Europe? Upon a careful perusal of the documents which the Government had sub- 1505 milled to Parliament, he was prepared to contend that they had failed most signally in those particulars. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary appealed to dates. He (Lord John Manners) accepted the challenge. He contended that the question was essentially a question of dates; and he took leave to ask the House—regarding it as a question of dates—if it could not be legitimately converted into a play with three completed acts and a fourth in progress? The first act of the Greek drama commenced with the expulsion of King Otho from the throne, and the determination of the three protecting Powers to act in harmony and concert together, and mutually to respect the Treaty of 1832. The time occupied in that act ranged over the first fortnight of November. The hon. Gentleman had told the House that England was the first to propose an adherence to the Protocol of Paris of 1832, and the first to re-enact the provisions of the treaty by which the independence of Greece was guaranteed. It appeared, however, from the papers submitted to Parliament, that if strict justice were done to Russia, she was the first Power to propose an adherence to the Protocol of 1832. It appeared that on the last day of October Lord Napier wrote from St. Petersburg that such was the wish of the Russian Government; and on the 6th of November the English Government took that view of the case in a letter addressed by Earl Russell to Earl Cowley at Paris. On the 7th of November Earl Cowley wrote that the Government of France had arrived at the same conclusion. So that at that date the three protecting Powers were entirely at harmony as to the principles which were to characterize their policy in Greece. Indeed, the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs appeared to be so pleased with the overtures from Russia and so well satisfied with Russia, up to that time, that he could not refrain from expressing his gratification at the conduct of the Russian Cabinet. In answer to Lord Napier, Earl Russell said, in a despatch dated the 10th of November—I stated to your Excellency, in reply to your telegram of the 31st of October, that Her Majesty's Government were glad to hear the view taken by Prince Gortschakoff as to the mutual obligations of the protecting Powers, and that Her Majesty's Government have no doubt that those Powers will agree as to their duties and obligations in regard to Greece,Again, Earl Russell wrote, so late as the 15th of November, to Lord Napier— 1506Prince Gortschakoff has been the first on the present occasion to appeal to that engagement, and to state most truly that it could not be departed from without the consent of the three Powers who were parties to it.…So far, I trust, there may be a concurrence of views among the three Powers. But the Russian Government, it appears, lay great stress on the provision of the Greek Constitution and subsequent engagements which provide that the successor of King Otho should be a member of the Greek Church.The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had argued that from that expression the Russian Government had shown an inclination to procure the election of a member of the Russian Royal family as King of Greece; because it was impossible, according to the Under Secretary, that any Prince could be found who was a member of the orthodox Greek Church without being also a member of the Russian Royal family. Did Lord Napier entertain the same view? On the 31st of October, Lord Napier wrote to Earl Russell —I thanked Prince Gortschakoff for his obliging communication, and then put the following question to him;—If a Prince of the House of Bavaria should present himself professing the orthodox religion, and fulfilling all the provisions I of the treaty, would he have that degree of, moral support on the part of the Imperial Government which could be exercised without applying an unjust constraint on the Greek people, and which would appear conformable to the spirit of the treaty, by which the three Powers had recognised the Bavarian dynasty and; regulated the succession?Again, in the course of the debate, reference had been made to a statement made by Her Majesty's Government, early in the Session, that a Prince of the House of Saxe-Coburg was most eligible, because the Duke was ready to promise that a young member of his family should be educated in the Greek Church, in order that he might fulfil the obligations upon which Russia laid such great stress. Therefore, the argument that Russia, because she expressed anxiety to maintain what seemed to her the essential principles of the Protocol of 1832, was intriguing in favour of a scion of her own Imperial, family, was a most gratuitous assumption.
§ MR. LAYARD
explained that he had not charged the Russian Government with intriguing. There were intrigues, but the Russian Government denied having anything to do with them.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
observed, that his hon. Friend never made a charge against the Russian Government.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he thought the best plan would be for the noble Lord, and the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary, to settle between themselves what course they would take in the debate. It was very unseemly that they should be contradicting each other.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he wished to know whether the hon. Gentleman meant to make any charge of intrigue against the Russian Government or not, for he certainly understood him in his first speech to intimate, that because the Russian Government laid stress on the maintenance of that particular provision inserted in the Treaty of 1832, there was an intrigue going on in the Russian court, the object of which was to place a Russian Prince on the throne of Greece. If the hon. Gentleman said that there was no foundation for any such charge, then all the observations he (Lord John Manners) had made fell to the ground; but if he did not, then there was no proof whatever in the correspondence before them of any such intrigue existing, and the charge he now brought against the Government was that the change in the policy of the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office was not justified by any appearance or even suspicion of intrigue on the part of Russia. As he had already stated, the first act of this melancholy Greek comedy terminated on the 15th of November. Earl Russell's despatches of that day expressed his satisfaction at the substantial agreement of Russia on the general policy which the great Powers ought to pursue, and the curtain descended amidst the plaudits of the British Government and expressions of hopefulness for the future of Greece. But what appeared when the curtain drew up for the second act? On the very next day, the 16th of November, the whole policy of the English Government had changed. The declaration of the noble Lord, that under no circumstances should Prince Alfred accept the throne of Greece, had become a dead letter: on the 16th of November the noble Lord telegraphed, and on the 17th wrote to Mr. Scarlett. The noble Lord said —I have received your telegram of the 10th instant, reporting that the Provisional Government of Greece considered the renunciation by the Powers parties to the Treaties of 1827, in regard to the Sovereign of Greece being chosen 1508 from their families, to have no longer a binding effect after the fall of the Bavarian dynasty; and that a strong feeling prevails throughout the country in favour of the election of His Royal Highness Prince Alfred to the vacant throne, in which case the provisions of the 40th article of the constitution in regard to the religion of the successor to King Otho would not be allowed to stand in the way of His Royal Highness's assumption of the sovereignty. In reply to your request for instructions as to the course you should pursue in this state of things, I have to desire that you will not interfere in regard to the election of the future Sovereign of Greece without direct instructions from Her Majesty's Government. Their desire is that the Greeks should be left free to choose their own King. With regard to the obligations of the three protecting Powers towards one another, I may have further communications to make to you.Now, it was remarkable that the telegram of the 10th instant, which he believed to be the key to the change of policy by England, was not given in the papers laid on the table of the House, nor was any despatch connected therewith. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary tried to make out that the despatch of the 17th merely meant that the mode of the election of the King of Greece was to be left free, and he explained that to mean the mode of election by ballot, or universal, or restricted suffrage, and that it had nothing whatever to do with the change of policy of the British Government as to the eligibility of Prince Alfred. Was that the view that Karl Russell himself took? He found Earl Russell on the 6th of February stating—It appears to me that the proper course to pursue will be to leave the Greeks entirely free to take their own course and to reserve our objections.Well, but the objections which the noble Lord had to the election of Prince Alfred on the 6th of November were not reserved, nor were they up to the 16th; and his complaint was, that the noble Lord did not treat the matter fairly, but having originally told the Greeks that they were not to have Prince Alfred for their king if they elected him, he departed from it in a fortnight, and for a whole month afterwards the Greeks were left to imagine, that if they elected Prince Alfred, no obstacle would be interposed by the British Government to his assumption of the Greek throne. Let the House observe the effect of the letter to Mr. Scarlett, requesting him to hold his hand and not interfere. From the 17th of November downwards, a great part of the despatches in the correspondence contained state- 1509 ments from persons engaged in various official capacities, from consuls, vice-conconsuls, and others as to the general feeling of the Greeks in favour of the election of Prince Alfred. On the 21st of November, Mr. Scarlett writes—I have the honour to enclose an extract from a Greek paper called the Future of the East, which alludes to the report spread everywhere yesterday that Prince Alfred is on his way to Corfu, and that His Royal Highness will he raised to the throne of the seven united islands. Since your Lordship's instructions to me by the telegram of November 16, I have, when asked any questions on the subject of a successor to the throne, merely held the language that I do not intend to interfere about the election of another Sovereign in this country. Of the strength of the feeling existing here your Lordship will, however, host he able to judge by the extract herewith enclosed. The writer, hearing, from common report, that I had received instructions to leave the Greeks entirely to their own inspirations in this conjuncture, apparently at once infers that I am favouring the movement. I need not assure your Lordship that my language both before and alter the receipt of the telegram above referred to has been most guarded.The House would see that the language of Mr. Scarlett before the receipt of the telegram was most clear and decided that Prince Alfred could not accept the throne; but after that event it was guarded, as Mr. Scarlett himself said, and, in point of fact, confined to telling the Greeks that in this conjuncture he should not interfere in the election of a successor to the throne. The example set by Mr. Scarlett, in obedience to the direct command of his chief, was followed with alacrity by all his subordinates. For instance, there was an account given by Mr. Lloyd, the Consul at Syra, of the enthusiasm with which the name of Prince Alfred was received. The people assembled before the door of the British Consulate, and cheered when the Consul thanked them for the expression of their sentiments, which he said could not but be highly flattering. No doubt he maintained a guarded silence with reference to the acceptance of the throne by the Prince; but, undoubtedly, the people left his house under the full impression that no obstacle would be thrown by the British Government in the way of the Prince's acceptance of the 'throne. Mr. Scarlett himself made a speech, which was reported in the papers and copied into the blue-book, in which he said that the English Government desired to see the Greeks prosperous and free to choose whatever Prince they liked. Was that holding guarded language? Was that telling the 1510 people from first to last, from the end of October to December, that under no circumstances was the policy of the British Government changed? On the contrary, Mr. Scarlett told them in the same speech, which was corrected by himself, published in the National Guard, and sent to the British Government, that England would respect the expression of the desire of the Greek people; but that as to Prince Alfred it was impossible for him to tell them whether the throne would be accepted by that Prince. On another occasion Mr. Scarlett said that when an influential gentleman asked him his opinion upon that point, he declined to give him any opinion upon the matter, not having received further instructions; all that be did being to express a hope that the Greek nation would proceed to a modification of the Government, and be neither Republican at homo nor aggressive abroad. Consul Ongley, at Patras, also gave an account of a demonstration to which he had responded with the usual reserve, without the least hint of Prince Alfred being excluded from the candidature. Hearing the repeated statements on the part of the British officials, in which there was no allusion to restrictions on the freedom of choice, and observing the marked difference in the language held at the beginning and at the end of November, it was impossible for a sharp, quick-witted people like the Greeks not to jump at the conclusion that the British Government had seen reason to change its views in a most material respect, and would no longer oppose the election of Prince Alfred. Thus the curtain fell on the second act, leaving the Greeks befooled into the notion that they were free to have the Prince of their choice. Reference had been made to the reluctance of Russia to consent to the exclusion of Prince Romanoff sky, and the noble Earl no doubt flattered himself he had achieved a diplomatic triumph over the Court of St. Petersburg on that point. Now, he could not learn from the despatches that the Greeks were at any time disposed to accept Prince Romanoffsky, or that the Russian Government had any design of thrusting him upon thorn. The voting papers certainly showed that he had scarcely any supporters at the election. It seemed to be a mere suspicion on the part of the English Government, and it was as well to recollect that similar comments were made at St. Petersburg, with much more apparent foundation, concerning the proceedings of our consuls and 1511 captains in regard to Prince Alfred. We had undoubtedly a vast deal of influence in Greece, and much greater means of propagating our views than Russia. If suspicions were in question, Russia had really more ground for saying that during the election England used underhand exertions in favour of Prince Alfred, than we had for charging Russia with improperly promoting the candidature of Prince Romanoffsky. But even if it were true that Russia had been intriguing in the matter, the proper mode of counteracting her efforts was not to plunge into other intrigues, such as those which had brought confusion upon Greece and misery upon the people, but to proclaim boldly and manfully that England would not accept or respect the election of Prince Romanoffsky. Who could believe, that if such a declaration had been published by us at a time when we had such moral influence and such an overwhelming material force in that quarter, the Greeks would have disregarded it, and elected Prince Romanoffsky? The idea was too preposterous to be dwelt upon for a moment. When the curtain rose for the third act, it disclosed the Greeks with their eyes at length opened to the truth by the peremptory despatch of the 1st of December, and introduced a new character. The stage direction was "Exit Scarlett with the policy of silence and reserve, and enter Elliot with the written exclusion of Prince Alfred in one hand, and the promise of the Ionian Islands as a sop in the other." With respect to that cession, that was, perhaps, not the proper time to enter into the question, and the printed papers threw remarkably little light upon either the reasons for the measure or the motive for adopting it at that particular moment; but there could-be no doubt that it was offered as a sop to sweeten the refusal of the British Government to place Prince Alfred on the Greek throne. It was not, how-ever, uninstructive to notice how the cession of the Ionian Islands first came to be mentioned in these papers. It was, it appeared, the Greek Minister in London who first suggested the cession. In a despatch to Mr. Scarlett, dated November 29, Lord Russell stated that Mr. Tricoupi told him it was understood all over Greece that the election of Prince Alfred meant that "a time might hereafter arrive when Thessaly and Epirus on one side, and the Ionian Islands on the other, might be peacefully united to the Greek kingdom." The noble Lord said that he had a good 1512 deal of desultory conversation with the Greek Minister, and in that desultory conversation the first idea seemed to have occurred to the noble Lord of the extent to which the desires of the Greeks were to he indulged. He (Lord J. Manners) did not think that that was a time when the question of the Ionian Islands should be gone into at length; but he felt bound to say, that whether the question were viewed from an English or from a European point of view, it could be shown to be impolitic and indefensible. Looking at the question from an English point of view, it amounted to a confession on the part of England that she had either failed or was likely to fail in the discharge of the trust which had been placed in her hands by the other great Powers of Europe in the Treaty of 1815, and was content to occupy less ground in Europe than she had hitherto occupied. Such an act must be regarded as the abandonment of a most important naval and military stronghold, which had been occupied by England for nearly forty years, and a departure from the traditional policy of the country. In a European point of view it was a virtual abandonment of the traditionary and well-founded policy of England, which regarded as of the highest importance the independence and integrity of Austria and Turkey. Certain illusory and childish safeguards, no doubt, hedged round this cession, but they would not be worth the paper on which they were written after the cession was made. Observe what they are. Greece must be a Constitutional Monarchy; she must elect a Sovereign who shall, in the language of Mr. Scarlett, be "a guarantee of order at home, and in the foreign relations of the country," and refrain from all attacks on her neighbours; and then, if the other Powers sanction such folly, and the Ionians are mad enough to vote it, Corfu, which lies off the coast of Turkey, is to be incorporated with the Greek Kingdom, in order to strengthen the really peaceful Empires of Austria and Turkey. As no suggestion was thrown out of the necessity of obtaining the consent of the Parliament of England, he supposed the House of Commons were not to have a voice in the matter, but he remembered in the Parliamentary history of this country a proposed cession of territory by a powerful Whig Ministry in the last century. The King was willing, foreign countries were treated with, and the cession was arranged by the Cabinet. But Parliament, the consent of 1513 which had never been asked, interfered, the cession was overruled, and Gibraltar still belonged to this country. But if this cession of the Ionian Islands were carried out, and Parliament remained silent, how long would Gibraltar continue ours? He trusted that Parliament would speak out in unmistakable language against this proposed cession of the Ionian Islands,: and that a regard for the integrity of Austria and Turkey would hinder so unwise and so revolutionary a disposition of the territory of Eastern Europe. He called it unwise and revolutionary, and he now wished to look for a moment at the almost certain result of the cession, with its futile safeguards, if it were accomplished. M. Tricoupi had already announced that Greece seeks Epirus and Thessaly as well as the Seven Islands, and the Archbishop of Corfu, on congratulating Sir H. Storks on the tardy magnanimity shown by England in this cession, appealed to it as a pledge, that when reconstructed Greece should attack Turkey, the moral and material aid of England would be afforded to her. Who could doubt that Corfu would become the nucleus and starting point of every piratical expedition which refugees might plan for the purpose of invading Thessaly or Epirus, or promoting any other revolutionary design dangerous to the existence of the established Powers of; Eastern Europe. He now came to the fourth act of this extraordinary drama; but over that darkness, hitherto impenetrable, seemed to hover. The hon. Under Secretary had been expected to shed some light upon the subject, but he had not said a single word upon it. The hon. Gentleman had, indeed, given the House an interesting account of the neighbouring provinces, but of the present state of the Crown of Greece he had not said one single word. It was anticipated that the hon. Gentleman would tell the House when the solution of the existing difficulty was likely to be arrived at, and what that solution was likely to be. So far as he could understand, England was performing the undignified part of hawking about this damaged crown in every little German principality, and dangling the bauble before the unenraptured eyes of every German, or, for aught they knew, every Scandinavian princelet. What was to be the end of that Downing Street Comedy of Errors? The noble Viscount at the head of the Government was fertile in resource, and was seldom baffled in his undertakings. 1514 The noble Lord would, however, pardon him if he compared him in this instance to the unsuccessful manager of a theatre, anxious for the termination of a play which had not had a great success either at home or abroad. Might he therefore make a suggestion? Would it not be possible that the performance might be brought to a successful issue if this oft-rejected crown, which had been slipping through the weary fingers of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, were to alight on his own unanointed head? Greece would thus gain a model constitutional monarch, and England lose, for a time at least, one of the most rash, meddlesome, and impulsive of all her pen-wielding politicians.
§ MR. HENRY SEYMOUR
said, that although he did not think Her Majesty's Government were quite free from blame in their conduct of the negotiations respecting the succession to the throne of Greece, yet they were not, in his opinion, open to all the severe criticisms which had been lavished on them by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. To one matter he would refer, as it appeared to be considered important; it was not correct to say that they had concealed from the Greeks their determination to regard the Protocol of 1830 as valid, and to enforce it in the present instance. As early as the week after the revolution, Earl Russell wrote a despatch to Mr. Scarlett, in which he stated that the English Cabinet had resolved to consider the protocol as valid, and that fact was communicated immediately by our representative at Athena to the Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs. Nor was that all. At the very time when Mr. Scarlett was accused of misleading the Greeks, at Athens, when it was represented as culpable secrecy on the part of Earl Russell, it might have been ascertained, as both the hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the House upon the subject might have found, if they had more closely examined the despatches, that Earl Russell had caused the proposal to be made at St. Petersburg, that the three Powers should at once make known their determination to act upon the arrangement of 1830. It was the Russian Government, and not the English, which objected to that course. On the 19th of November, Lord Napier— in accordance with instructions from England— proposed to Prince Gortschakoff that the three Powers should make a joint declaration at Athens that the Protocol of 1830 was to he accepted as binding; but 1515 the Russian Minister refused to be a party to any such announcement. That at once disposed of all the arguments which had been advanced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. With regard to other points which had been raised in the course of the debate, he did not think Her Majesty's Government equally free from blame. He should like to know whether King Ferdinand had ever been consulted before the throne was offered to him. That was a point which the hon. Under Secretary of State had not answered. How was it, too, the negotiations with the Duke of Coburg were announced as having been completed at Athens? That was not managing things in a proper manner, for it tended, more than anything else, to bring the Greeks into contempt. They complained, that having thrown themselves entirely upon England, England had neglected and betrayed them. They said— "The selection of a Sovereign is a most important tiling for us, a young nation, which has just effected a revolution in a manner of which the English Government has spoken approvingly. We, throwing off all our own relations, come forward and say to England, 'We admire your Constitution more than that of any other nation, and we will be guided entirely by your Foreign Office.' "Probably, too, the Greeks wished to pay a compliment to Her Majesty, whose virtues had raised the repute of constitutional monarchy so high. They went to the Foreign Office, and for six months that Department left them in a state of absolute neglect, or, when it acted, moved in such a blundering manner that he regretted a statesman with the high character of Earl Russell should have so committed himself. What was the present position of the question? It was not known whether King Ferdinand was ever consulted; all that could be said was that he had refused. The Duke of Coburg's acceptance had been announced as certain. On examination, that statement was found to be premature. Certain conditions had been imposed which could not be fulfilled, and therefore he also was out of the field. Who was in the field now? Months had elapsed; the Greeks, for what he might call a half-civilized people, behaved admirably; they kept order for some time, but no people could maintain order permanently in the absence of a settled Government. And that was the position in which the question now stood? The Greeks were deeply interested in the issue of that de- 1516 bate, and he hoped it would not close without some definite expression of opinion on the part of the Government. He felt anxious to press that point, as he perceived that the noble Lord the Prime Minister had just re-entered the House. It was highly desirable that the debate should not close, leaving the House, the Greeks, and Europe at large in its present state of uncertainty. It was expedient that some person should be chosen who had been previously consulted, and had consented to accept the throne; but it was also necessary that that choice should be made quickly. The Greeks had placed the choice of their future King in the hands, not of three Powers, as in 1830, but entirely in the hands of the British Government. The destinies of that people were confided altogether to the British Foreign Office; and, what was more, the Government had tacitly accepted that trust. But for months past there had been no sign of action, and it was not known in the least who was to be the future King of Greece. One thing was certain— that the state of Greece was daily growing worse. Among that impulsive people there were many spirits whom it was difficult to keep in order, and, after years of misgovernment, the country necessarily was not in a satisfactory state. No man in Europe was more interested than the noble Lord in the solution of this question; for, to his honour, Greece might be regarded as one of his children. The noble Lord, who was then the Minister of a party including many members who doubted whether a constitutional sway was the best form of Government for the human race, at a time when democratic theories were much more in fashion than at present, and when Europe had not as enlarged a political experience, called into existence that family of constitutional monarchies throughout Europe, which in most instances had succeeded so well. he hoped the noble Lord would give his utmost care to this important subject, and the first choice having Bailed so lamentably, he would try to discover—though not among the little princes or Germany—a King who would fulfil his constitutional duties, under whose sway life and property would be respected, and who would advance the social progress of the country. The parallel between Sardinia and Greece, must have struck most persons. It was the only part of a great nice governed by a ruler of its own choice. As 1517 an example to the whole of the Greco-Sclavonic peninsula, extending to Constantinople, it was of the utmost importance that it should be well governed. He could scarcely believe his ears, when he heard the speech of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the great Italian reformer—the Gentleman who during his whole life had been so indignant at the wrongs of Italy, the misgovernment of Austrian Lombardy, of Tuscany, and of Naples, Could it be possible that it was he —for he had taken down his words—who said that it was "intrigues which spoiled the Greeks"? As he listened to his hon. Friend, he really might have mistaken his sentiments for those of the Member for Honiton, with regard to Naples, The advice which his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs gave to the Christians of Turkey, was, that if they were well governed, it did not matter whether they were the subjects of Mohammedans or of a King of their own choice. That was a most singular instance of inconsistency. A change of position, as they all know, sometimes entailed a change of opinion; but his hon. Friend —Turk as he was — must admit that Lombardy was a little better governed than the province of Roumelia. Even he must admit that there was more reason for the Greeks to desire a change than for those who had been subject to the Austrian yoke; that a Christian population did not like to be under a Mohammedan conqueror, and that the provinces of European Turkey could hear no comparison to any portion of the rest of Europe, not even to Greece itself, in cultivation and in civilization. Of all the Eastern people he had known, the Turks possessed the least idea of Western civilization. The Hindoo, the Persian, or the Affghan, he would even say the Tartar of the Caspian Sea, was infinitely superior to the Turk. Russia had civilized the Mohammedans under her sway, and made them vastly superior to the denizens of the Turkish Empire. He spoke the sincere convictions implanted by observation. Where were the Turkish universities, where the Turkish Merchants? Our Consul's reports told how Mohammedans treated the Christians. The name of Belgrade had been introduced into the debate. The hon. Under Secretary for Foreigh Affairs had explained that the Pasha bombarded the town because an innocent Turkish fisherman had been killed.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, that what he had stated was, that among the various wrongs complained of, was the murder of two or three Turks.
§ MR. HENRY SEYMOUR
And for that the town was bombarded! He thanked the hon. Gentleman opposite for bringing forward this subject. The Greeks having asked the son of our Queen to fill their vacant throne, the British parliament was bound to see that the Government settled the question satisfactorily. The hon. Under Secretary looked down upon the Greeks, and stigmatized them as brokers, and not merchants. He had asked commercial gentlemen what that phrase could mean, and they were as little able to understand it as he was. If a firm like that of Ralli, for example, was not composed of merchants but of brokers, then the first firms in London also were not merchants but brokers. The Greek race was throbbing with a new life, and it was only the foot of a spy that was attempting to crush out that life. For the sake of the Greeks themselves, he should be sorry to see any province yet added to their kingdom; but they could not long remain deaf to the cry of the Greek Christians in Turkey. Their diplomacy had been wanting in that energy and decision which might have been expected from it, since the Treaty of 1856. The Turk was an Asiatic rather than a European, and ought to be peremptorily told, that if he did not introduce the reforms he had so often promised, his doom was sealed, and that not even the arm of England could shield him from the fate which surely awaited him. He rejoiced at the course taken by Her Majesty's Government in respect to the Ionian Islands, the proposed cession of which was a practical denial that we were, as a nation, actuated by the lust of conquest, and had gained for us the good opinion of Europe. In conclusion, he thought every Englishman must feel that the best mode of showing our sense of the honour done us and our institutions by the offer of the Greek throne, for an English Prince, was by extricating the Greeks from their difficulties as quickly as possible.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
said, he would not have ventured to address the House had he not conceived that many hon. Members who had spoken had strayed very far from the question. The point really at issue was, whether Her Majesty's Government had followed a straightforward course in their conduct towards the Greeks. Hav- 1519 ing perused the papers before the House, he was sorry to say, that as far as he could make out, they had pursued a very double-dealing and Machiavellian line of policy in the matter. There had been a very animated discussion between hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the relative merits of Turk and Greek. That was not the first time the hon. Under Secretary had taken up the challenge thrown down to him on that head, and had espoused the cause of the Turk with all the warmth which usually characterized his advocacy. The real question, however, was as to when the candidature of Prince Alfred had positively been withdrawn. After the very able speech of the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) it was impossible not to see, that if Her Majesty's Government had as distinctly announced to the Greeks as their diplomatists announced to their agents, that Prince Alfred could not become the King of Greece, the unfortunate imbroglio in which the Greeks were now involved would never have arisen. Another question which it was material to consider was, whether Her Majesty's Government had really a right to drag the names of two most eminent members of the Royal Houses of Europe before the public without obtaining the previous sanction of those princes for doing so. It had been insisted upon by several speakers, and more especially by the hon. Under Secretary, that the choice and election of the Sovereign of Greece was to proceed from the Greeks themselves. Now, it occurred to him that that had not been allowed to take place, and that the persons who had really had the selection and nomination of the candidates were Her Majesty's Government. They had placed themselves in the unenviable position of going round about the world, and saying to this or that Prince, "Come, and let us offer you as a candidate for the Crown of Greece." Whatever might have been their motives —whether to obtain a predominant influence in Greece, or to secure to themselves the first choice of the King — it was not for him to say; but it seemed to him that their policy bad been actuated more by a desire to exclude the Duke of Leuchtenberg than to give the Greeks the first opportunity of quietly selecting a Sovereign for themselves. He did not say it would not have been of advantage to exclude the Duke of Leuchtenberg; but if that object was to be attained, it should have been attained in a straightforward man- 1520 ner, not only by distinctly declaring, as Earl Russell did at first, but by consistently adhering to the declaration afterwards, that no candidate could possibly be accepted out of the reigning houses of the countries which had signed the treaty. Had the Government acted with similar candour and distinctness throughout the transactions, the Greeks would not have been placed in their present unenviable position. It was scarcely proper that the candidature of Prince Alfred should have been used simply to prevent the election of a Russian Prince.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, that if the course which the Government had taken had had the effect of preventing another great Power exercising an undue influence over Greece, he was not prepared, having regard to all the difficulties with which they had had to contend, severely to censure the Government for the want of directness in their proceedings. At the same time, he was of opinion that the policy of successive Governments of this country, with regard to the East and to Greece, had not been consistent with any intelligible principle, but had been most wavering and contradictory. They made her a nation, and then deprived her of those very provinces which had been the cradle of ancient Greece. The name of ancient Greece could not be mentioned without Thessaly and Epirus suggesting themselves. The very names, Hellas and Hellene belonged to provinces which did not now belong to Greece. They had deprived her of these provinces, and they had imposed a Government upon her which was alien both in language and in religion. They offered them an acquisition—the Ionian Islands—upon the condition that they should make no use of it. What could be the use of the fortress of Corfu to them except to fill the Adriatic with gunboats; but they were to be forbidden to use it for the only purpose for which they would care to possess it—namely, to make aggression on the neighbouring provinces of Turkey. To make concessions with crippling conditions was a cheap kind of generosity. He was most anxious to know upon what constitutional doctrine that proceeding was founded. He had understood the noble Lord at the head of the Government to say that the prerogative, in virtue of which Her Majesty had offered to surrender the Ionian Islands, would authorize her, if she thought fit, to give up any other possession of the Crown. Some 1521 of his friends thought that the noble Lord could not have asserted such a position, and he was therefore desirous of knowing what interpretation the Law Officers put upon the prerogative in this respect. The cases which had been mentioned by the noble Viscount the other night were not at all analogous. No doubt, when a treaty of peace was being negotiated, the Crown was authorized to determine the conditions. But on such occasions the public were alive to what was going on, and had an opportunity generally of expressing their wishes. Therefore when Minorca was restored to Spain by the Treaties of 1783, or of Amiens, or on other similar occasions, the country was not taken by surprise. But in the present case Parliament was not sitting, and had not the slightest suspicion of what was going on, when the Ministry, wielding the prerogative of the Crown, entered into and might have completed the transaction. The Ministry were thus exercising a despotic power, and instances were not wanting of Liberal Ministries using the prerogative unscrupulously, as at the time of the Reform Bill, when they were not satisfied even by a verbal assurance, but actually required the King to sign a paper that he would swamp the House of Peers. If the Ionian Islands could thus be ceded, why not Gibraltar or Canada? It would therefore be extremely satisfactory to he told how far the doctrine of the Royal prerogative could be carried. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary generally got himself into some difficulty during autumn, when Parliament was not sitting, and it was a matter of very grave consideration how far such a cession could take place without the immediate knowledge of Parliament.
§ MR. CAVE
felt sure that no debate could take place upon the affairs of Greece without allusion to that most remarkable episode of a remarkable history, the proposed surrender of the Ionian Islands; he thought it was now full time for those who took an interest in the Ionian people to ask Her Majesty's Government how long those unhappy islanders were to drift on the uncertain sea of Greek politics, to the daily-increasing detriment of their best interests. It had been generally assumed, whenever this question had cropped up, as it were, in Parliament, that the Ionians desired separation from this country. He believed that to be an erroneous impression. He admitted that their Legislature had more than once 1522 passed resolutions to that effect, and they would probably do so again. He allowed that ordinarily the voice of the Parliament was to be taken as the voice of the people; but this was a very peculiar case, and it might be well to inquire whether since the hasty and inconsiderate changes which took place in 1849, during Lord Grey's Administration, but for which he was not entirely responsible, the Ionian people could really be said to have been represented at all. Even in this country it was sometimes difficult to say whether public opinion was the result of deliberate judgment, or merely the product of an organized agitation, which, while professing to educate the public mind, allowed it to dwell only on one side of the question; but in a small community like the Ionian Islands that was still more the case. Where there were few people of leisure, and the best men could not give time to public affairs, and especially where there was payment of representatives, politics degenerated into a mere trade, and public opinion, instead of pervading the whole community, was, like the Demos in the play of Aristophanes, only one character in the drama, and that not a very important one. Hon. Members scarcely knew perpahs how things were managed in the Ionian Parliament. Let them imagine a building with accommodation for the forty-two deputies on the floor, and some four hundred strangers in the galleries, who expressed their approbation or otherwise of the various speakers in a way which here would be considered very extraordinary, so that a debate was more like a scene at the hustings than a serious discussion in a deliberative assembly. Let hon. Members recollect that the franchise was practically low, especially in the towns, that political courage was not a conspicuous virtue of the Ionian character, and that the deputies were paid what was nearly equivalent to £300 a year in this country, and that the biennial protest against England gave them two advantages. The first would be appreciated nearer home; it was the éclat of patriots, martyrs, and conspirators, without the slightest risk. The second might be understood even within those walls; it was the speedy termination of the Session, which sent hon. Members back to their farms or their merchandise to enjoy their official salary without working for it, un 'er the shadow of that Power they had openly defied. No inconvenience resulted from this. It had been provided for by the Constitution, and the Govern- 1523 ment was carried on during the long recess; by the Lord High Commissioner and the Senate. This proceeding was, in fact, analogous to that House passing abstract Resolutions, a mode of obtaining popularity without responsibility; but playing with edged tools was a dangerous game, and had proved so in both cases. There was, indeed, a powerful party in the background, willing to bring things to a deadlock, that they might get rid of Lord Seaton's Constitution. They were still less sincere in the cry for separation. The right hon. Gentleman now Chancellor of the Exchequer offered them an amended Constitution. He did not think it would have answered, for the same reason that a similar Constitution did not work well in Jamaica; but it was a bonâ fide offer, and met most of their complaints. That was its fault. Agitators were the last people to desire the extinction of the grievances they denounced, and by which they lived. He had said that there was little public opinion in the Ionian Islands; but when the intelligence arrived that they were to be taken at their word, that real public opinion which was evoked by interest was aroused, and it was not too much to say that the news was received with universal consternation. The demonstrations in its favour were mere shams; that at Corfu was headed by a Zantiote, and composed of a few Greek priests and boys singing the Greek Marseillaise in the streets. The fact was, that the Ionians were too contented and too prosperous to wish for changes. The difficulties which followed Lord Seaton's ill-judged reforms, which threw succeeding Governments into the hands of a camarilla, by which we became the protected rather than the protectors to the just discontent of the people, had been to a great degree surmounted by the energy of the present Lord High Commissioner; and though Lord Russell's famous Turin despatch increased those difficulties by playing into the hands of the demagogues, yet he believed that to be true which was stated to him by an Ionian, who was no personal friend to the English (if he might be excused for repeating the exact words) "that every Ionian who had a pair of breeches was in favour of the protection." There were no more industrious, quiet, well-disposed people than the Ionians when left alone by agitators, especially the country people, and there was security of life and property throughout the Seven Islands which was not known in this 1524 country, and was wholly unknown in independent Greece. The evil reports they sometimes heard of them came from the fluctuating English population, who could not speak their language, took no pains to understand them, and sometimes, he regretted to say, treated them with that hauteur and want of consideration which was too often characteristic of our bearing towards foreign, and especially towards dependent races. From what he heard, however, he was afraid the present uncertainty was exercising a most unfavourable influence upon their character. They all had the fixed belief that some day they would be annexed to Greece. That idea was usually dormant, just as all hoped some day to grow old, but did not wish to precipitate the event. But they were an excitable race, and on such occasions as the present fell an easy prey to demagogues and agitators. But, whatever might be the result of this extraordinary measure in the islands, a more important question arose as to its effect on our ancient allies. We had heard a great deal lately of the regeneration of the Ottoman Empire, of its growing civilization and prosperous finances. Lord Hobart and Mr. Foster had been sent as a kind of dry nurses to that renovated youth; but was the present policy of Her Majesty's Government consistent with that deep interest in Turkey? The noble Lord could not be ignorant of the dangers which menace the Turkish Empire. He must know that Russia adhered to her traditionary policy; that arms were carried last year by Russian agents from Corfu to Montenegro; that arms accumulated in Servia, and that there was a confident expectation throughout the neighbouring provinces of Illyria and Dalmatia of a revolt among the Christian subjects of the Porte. Was this a time to make a demonstration on her other flank? the cession of Corfu would be a standing menace to Epirus and Thessaly. The great island of Candia would certainly be induced to revolt. When he was in the Turkish town of Prevesa, the Greek inhabitants who were voting for Prince Alfred openly proclaimed their hope that within the year Albania would be as much Greek as the opposite coast of Acarnania. This was so well understood on the Continent that the noble Lord's policy was a perfect enigma there. An influential French journal asked "whether he had thrown over his first love, or was, like Moliére's Don Juan, trying to persuade each of his victims that he loved her 1525 alone." "For, unless," the journalist wont on to say, "the noble Lord has abandoned Turkey, his Eastern policy can only be called political bigamy—la politique bigame." But if that policy was difficult to be understood by others, how much more so by those who remembered the debate in 1861, on the Motion of the hon. Member for Dungarvan. He was not going to quote Hansard; the actual words used did not signify, but he appealed to those who remembered the debate whether the hon. Gentleman now Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Under Secretary for the Colonies, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the noble Lord at the head of the Government did not then give the strongest reasons against the cession of the Ionian Islands, and whether those reasons had not equal force now. He did not complain of change of policy; and when changed, it was manly and honest to avow it, but they had a right to know the fact and the reason. Was it a concession to that party who were fond of exhibiting expenditure in one band and aristocratic patronage in the other, and of turning them round in a kind of political thauma-trope till the two appeared inseparably connected; or had Her Majesty's Government no settled policy at all, but were ready at one time to make war for Cervi, Sapienza, or Turk's Island, and at another to throw away valuable possessions, like the poor maniac who one hour crowned himself with straws and the next tore off his most necessary clothing? the noble Lord, indeed, told them in the most decided tone that he was not going to give up Malta or Gibraltar, but in 1861 he had told them in a tone equally decided that he was not going to abandon the Ionian Islands. He (Mr. Cave) did not share in the unfavourable opinions entertained by many people respecting the Greeks. He looked on their future as more hopeful than that of Turkey. Again, he admitted that the Ionian Islands were not so important to England even with regard to our Indian communications as they formerly were, since the use of steam, and especially since the extension of railways down the Italian coast would shortly enable steamers to sail direct for Alexandria from Brindisi or Otranto without sloping to coal. But it must be borne in mind that in case of rupture with France or Italy the Trieste route, and therefore Corfu, might become again very important. He was not competent to speak of the strength of the works, but he was informed on very good 1526 authority that they could hold out for some months against any force which could be brought against them, and they must remember that in the days of Collingwood, when our sailors were not accustomed to shrink from desperate enterprises, those works, when far inferior, set at defiance the British squadron. There was no doubt, however, that these islands involved an annual outlay, and placed us in a somewhat false position. They could not stand alone, and their manifest destiny was to be absorbed in Greece, for Greek they were in language and feeling, even in Corfu, though some of the principal families were of Venetian origin—as much Greek as Attica, the population of which was half Albanian, He should have no objection to see them belong to Greece; but then it must be to a well-governed and tranquil Greece — a Greece which would do them justice, and continue the good Government they had hitherto enjoyed, and not use them as stepping-stones to aggression upon her neighbours. Greece must show that she could rule five cities before she could claim to be intrusted with ten. The converse had been done in this ca>e. Like a foolish parent who bribed a child to he good, we had with almost indecent haste offered the Ionian Islands to Greece as an inducement to be moderate, forgetting that we were dealing with the most subtle race in the world. They would take our bribe, but would they abandon that dream of extended empire which was ever present with them, and which we gave them additional means of realizing? He believed that the expense of the occupation might be much diminished. The storekeepers and commissariat might be curtailed, and the engineers, who seemed to think it their business to change the face of nature in every possible way, might be checked. But, however that might be, he believed that the truest economy was the maintenance of the national character; and it appeared to him that by thus precipitating what might have been later done with honour and propriety, the Government had acted unfairly towards our dependents, inconsiderately towards our allies, and gained neither the gratitude of Greece nor the good opinion of Europe.
§ MR. C. C. CLIFFORD
said, that the people of the Ionian Islands might be divided into two classes—those who had got places, and those who wanted places. A few days before, he had received a letter from Corfu, in which the writer said, that when the news arrived of the proposed 1527 cession, an Ionian asked him what demon could have inspired the English Government to entertain such a horrible idea. I "But how comes it," replied his informant, "that you, who were the great author and proposer of annexation to Greece, should now avow opinions so diametrically opposite?" To which the answer, full of charming candour, was, "That's true; but now I have got a place, then I wanted one." The misfortune of the islands was that the educated classes had no profession to follow. There was no army, no navy, no bar; the clergy were taken chiefly from the agricultural classes, and so there was no other resource open to those classes but to try for place under Government. There was thus one continual rush for places; and unless men succeeded, they would join in an agitation against any Government. He agreed, also, with the hon. Member who had just spoken, that it was a great misfortune to the Ionians to have paid representatives, for politics thus became a mere trade. While admitting that, however, his conclusion differed from that of the hon. Member. He believed that we were in a false position in the Ionian Islands. The people there were not British subjects. They were simply placed under British protection, and he thought it was a great pity that England had ever accepted such an invidious trust. The people had constantly remonstrated against the protectorate, and expressed their desire for union with Greece, but now that we had taken them at their word he believed that they would most bitterly repent it. Under British rule they had been much better governed than they would have been if united to Greece; but still the connection with this country had been unfortunate. He fully believed that the value of the islands had been much overrated. Corfu was no longer valuable as a naval station, and he was assured that during the war between France and Austria the news that the French fleet had steamed up the Adriatic on its way to blockade Venice first reached the Islands from the newspapers of the Continent. In his opinion the political interests of this country, as well as a regard for economy, would be best consulted by severing a connection which had been obnoxious, or been said to be obnoxious, to the inhabitants and prejudicial to ourselves.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I own that when the hon. Member who made this Motion gave notice of his intention, my curiosity was greatly excited to discover 1528 what could possibly be the ground upon which he would found an attack upon Her Majesty's Government for its conduct in regard to this affair of Greece. And certainly the result of his speech has shown that, whatever talent he possesses—and I do full credit to it—even his ingenuity and that of those who have followed him have been very much at fault to find any tangible point upon which they could rest a real attack. They have been liberal in their personal abuse of my noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Department. But the able conduct of our foreign relations by my noble Friend is sufficiently well known to the public to make him perfectly indifferent to the personal attacks which have been made upon him this evening. And judging by recent allusions to the motives which influence persons in the Ionian Islands, who are described as only attacking the Government when they want places, I think, that if that be a reflection generally applicable to mankind, my noble Friend may be still more indifferent to the personal observations which have been made this evening. As far as I was able to collect that which has fallen from Gentlemen opposite, I think there are one or two things which have grievously weighed upon their minds, and which have excited on their part bitter regret and disappointment. The first is, that the Greeks should have exhibited so universal a desire to elect an English Prince. ["No, no!"] I will prove it, because one attack which has been made upon the Government is that we did not let the Greeks know that by our diplomatic engagements, and by considerations of our own, Prince Alfred could not accept the crown of Greece, and that we did not thus prevent his election. But those who raised that objection were compelled, by the papers which they held in their hands, to acknowledge that at the earliest possible moment we did let the Greeks know that our diplomatic engagements and our own Imperial considerations would prevent him from accepting the Greek crown. Then, when we had told the Greeks that Prince Alfred could not accept the crown if elected, and when in spite of that communication the Greeks went on with a full determination to elect him, hoping that—as they themselves avowed—in spite of the first refusal, those objections would be waived if he were elected by a unanimous vote of the Greek nation, it is said, "You committed an egregious fault because you actually told your Minister in Greece that 1529 he was not to interfere in the Greek election." Well, Sir, that was indeed a grave offence. Would hon. Members opposite, then, have had Mr. Scarlett and Mr. Elliot to have gone about to nil the Greek hustings and all the assemblies where the elections were taking place, saying to the people, "Now, mind you are not to vote for Prince Alfred, but vote for anybody else you please?" Why, Sir, if we had instructed our Minister to interfere in any such way, we should have been told that it was most unbecoming thus to meddle with the domestic concerns of any foreign nation. We did our duty by taking the earliest opportunity of acquainting the Greeks that Prince Alfred could not be; their King, if elected; but it would have been a gross impertinence on our part had we interfered in the election by trying to prevent the Greeks from voting in a particular manner. The noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners) talked about the instructions given to our Minister which had reference to the conduct of the election, whether by ballot or open suffrage. Surely, the noble Lord could not have supposed anything so absurd? What was meant was what the plain words expressed —namely, that our Minister, having told the Greeks what the decision of the English Government would be, was not to meddle in any manner as to the mode in which they might see fit to express their opinions by their votes. Sir, I am astonished that hon. Gentlemen, English men, should feel this sort of regret that the Greek nation have expressed such confidence in England. ["No, no!"] If that is not the feeling of' hon. Gentlemen who have spoken from the other side of the House, what is it they mean, and what is it they would have had us do? Two things evidently weighed upon their minds— First, that the Greek nation should have been permitted to express a unanimous vote in favour of an English Prince; and, next, that they should not have been allowed to elect a Russian. That is the only conclusion to which we can come from the arguments that have been used. ["No, no!"] When hon. Gentlemen declare that we have befooled the Greeks, that we have deluded them, and brought them into a wretched condition, I deny every one of these assertions, and say that our course throughout was perfectly frank and straightforward. We told the Greeks from the first what our position was, and what would be the result of their election; and if they chose in spite of this to mani- 1530 fest their confidence in the British Constitution, and their attachment to the Royal family of this country, I say that instead of repining at that, as hon. Gentlemen do — [Loud cries of No! ]—they may cry "No," if they please; but the country, when it reads this debate, will say "Yes!" —instead of repining at such a mark of confidence, they ought to feel proud at an election which enabled the Greeks in the face of the world to show their respect for England, and their admiration for the Royal family and institutions of this country. It is said that we have neglected the Greeks — that we have not taken pains to fulfil the trust reposed by them in the British Government with respect to suggesting to them a fit person to be their Sovereign. But, Sir, we have lost no time, and spared no pains, to accomplish that object. We have communicated with several distinguished persons whom we thought fit to be selected by the Greeks for the high post of reigning over that which, in spite of all that has been said, is, I believe, a most enlightened nation, and one destined to a high place among the people of Europe. The distinguished persons to whom our attention was directed as being fitted for the selection were persons who had other interests and other occupations which prevented them from accepting the throne. But, undoubtedly, we did from time to time let the Greek Government know we were in connection with these persons. We were greatly mortified, and the Greeks were much disappointed, when one after another these illustrious persons felt themselves prevented by their local duties and ties from allowing themselves to be put in nomination for the Greek throne; but we do not despair that we may yet be able to point out to the Greeks one who may be fit to perform the high duty of reigning over Greece and be acceptable to the people at large. At the same time, the selection of a Sovereign lies with the Greeks themselves; for we have not received, as my hon. Friend seems to suppose, plenary powers from that people to select a Sovereign for them. They are to exercise their own choice. All the British Government can do is to suggest a person who may appear fitting on the one hand, and whom they would be likely to accept on the other. Sir, it has been said that the Greeks are reduced to a lamentable condition. They are reduced to no lamentable condition. They have shown great moderation and prudence; they have con- 1531 ducted a great revolution in a manner that does them honour. There have been no acts of violence—no popular outbreaks. They have had great difficulties in arranging their Provisional Government, but they have done it to the best of their judgment, and nothing has happened to entitle any man to say that their condition is a miserable one, or that they have suffered in the eyes of Europe by the course which they have pursued. It is most meritorious on their part, because, undoubtedly, the Government they have suffered under for the last thirty years has been calculated to degrade and demoralize them. It has been a Government carried on by corruption for the purposes of arbitrary and despotic rule. It has been a Government on which a Constitution was forced in 1843, but which, from that time down to the last moment of its existence, endeavoured by every device and artifice to render that Constitution null. That endeavour was made by corruption of every description, which at last led to the events of October. And, Sir, when hon. Gentlemen say the Greeks are so difficult to govern that it will not be easy to find a prince to undertake that task, I say that a nation which has submitted for thirty years to such a Government as the Greeks have at last severed themselves from cannot be difficult to govern. There must be in such a people a latent principle of subordination and order which must give rise to a feeling of encouragement, and not of difficulty, in those who are called upon to take a part in managing their affairs. I should like to know in what manner we have laid ourselves open to imputation in our dealings towards Greece. I say that from the beginning of the negotiations to this moment we have been frank and straightforward in our language to the Greeks, and that we have been persevering in our efforts to find a prince willing to accept the throne who would be fitted for that high position and acceptable to the Greek nation. What has been said by my hon. Friend (Mr. Layard) as to the conduct of Russia is quite true. I will speak out. The shuffling and evasion on the part of the Russian Government were such that it was with the utmost difficulty we got them to acknowledge that the Duke of Leuchtenberg was, as he is, a member of the Imperial family. He is doubly a member of the Imperial family—First, as the son of the daughter of the late Emperor; and next, through an ukase by which he was aggregated to the Imperial 1532 family, and brought within the line of succession to the Russian throne. We had a right to expect a more frank and straightforward course of conduct on the part of the Russian Government at the outset than that which we had to contend with in bringing them to a frank and fair categorical admission that the Duke de Leuchtenberg is excluded by the protocol. Now, Sir, other topics have been brought into the discussion. My hon. Friend the Under Secretary has been taxed with having introduced the subject of Turkey and the European provinces of Turkey. It was not he who introduced it. It was my hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory), who, soon breaking away from Greece, entered the lists in regard to Belgrade, Servia, and other places. My hon. Friend the Under Secretary followed very rightly, to correct the errors into which my hon. Friend the Member for Galway had fallen. From his knowledge and personal experience of the country, no man has a better right to express an opinion on the subject; and he has stated, that so far from Turkey being in a decrepid state, in which it is the fashion in some quarters to represent to the House, it has of late years made great progress towards that state of civilization at which we hope to see it arrive. My hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Mr. Henry Seymour) has used language which shows that he has prejudices against the Turks. He ought to get rid of those prejudices, for it is perfectly clear that education and intelligence are abroad in Turkey, and that the Turkish Government is improving. I trust their organization will go on improving from day to day. As to the Christians, no doubt there are privileges and equalities yet to be conceded to them; but they are much better off than they were at any former period. I will not go into "the siege of Belgrade," or the attack on the fortresses; but there is another question which has been introduced, and which is connected with the subject of the debate, although it was not much alluded to by the hon. Member who opened it—namely, the cession of the Ionian Islands. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. D. Griffith) strongly argued that they are a British possession, and that in the course of last autumn, when Parliament was not sitting, we alienated them. Now, first, the House knows that the Ionian Islands are not a possession of the British Crown; and secondly, it is aware, that though we intimated that under certain circumstances we should take cer- 1533 tain steps which would lead to the cession of those Islands to Greece, yet nothing has been actually done. Therefore, when the hon. Member says we have surreptitiously alienated what he calls a possession of the British Crown, I must reply that we have done no such thing. The hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Cave) said he was much opposed to the cession which we proposed; but he added, that if the Greek Government would maintain order and peace, and conduct itself in such a way as to render the people happy, then it might be well to cede the Ionian Islands to Greece. But, Sir, the hon. Member has only paraphrased a passage in the despatch of my noble Friend; because these were the conditions on which my noble Friend said the Government was willing to take steps for a cession of the Ionian Islands to Greece. The hon. Member, though, began by stating facts which had come to his knowledge, to show that the Ionians were anything but willing to part with the English protection and be ceded to Greece. No doubt, as Greece was under the late Government, under King Otho, it would have been a misfortune for the Ionian Islands to have been transferred to Greece; and when we are told that we argued against the cession in 1861, it was because Greece was so ill-governed at the time that we felt it would have been a cruelty to be accessory to depriving the Ionian Islands of the protectorate of this country and ceding thorn to Greece; but if the Government of Greece becomes a good one, regulated by the principles referred to by the hon. Member for Shoreham, then the feelings of the Ionians may become entirely altered, and they may be desirous of being transferred to Greece. Again, he said, that annexation to Greece is the manifest; destiny of those islands. If that be so, we are not to blame for saying the time may come when that destiny may be accomplished to their profit and not to our loss, and that we ought to aid in accomplishing it. The hon. Member says that we are laughed at in France for this transfer. Perhaps, in a country which very lately made such acquisitions, and in such a manner, as Savoy and Nice, the voluntary surrender of anything belonging to us may be looked on as a childish piece of folly; but I cannot help thinking that the example, if we set it, of: a country on principle, and without any regard to selfish considerations, releasing a population from her rule on the ground that it is for the advantage of that popula- 1534 tion she should do so—I cannot help thinking that this may be an example so applicable to many transactions pending in Europe as to be not only honourable to England, but useful, and likely to lead to good results to other parts of Europe. I can only say, that I hope the hon. Gentleman who I made the Motion will be content with having I expressed his own opinions. We shall be ready to give any papers which may seem to bear usefully on the subject, and I hope that, notwithstanding the late hour, he will now allow us to go into Committee of Supply. I promise him that as time and the correspondence go on, or when there are other papers which may be useful to the deliberations of the House, we shall have no objection to produce them.
§ MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
Sir, although in the course of this debate we have wandered from the subject originally before us, and various Members have taken us half over the map of Europe, yet at the same time the question itself is very short, simple, and narrow. The noble Lord who has just sat down, it is quite true, baa recalled the House to the question before us; yet he, too, has—I think very adroitly —tried to lead away the House from the real point presented to our consideration by the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Baillie Cochrane). It seems as if the noble Lord was conscious of the weakness of his answer, and seemed to think that to the particular point under consideration the Government would not venture to reply. The noble Lord entered upon topics totally unjustified by the course of the debate, and which seem to me to have nothing on earth to do with the question before us. The noble Lord said he was suprised that the debate had been taken advantage of by those on this side of the House, and some other hon. Members, to make a personal attack upon the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office. Well, Sir, I have been in the House since the commencement of the debate—I have listened attentively to every speech that has been made, and I have not heard from the beginning of the evening to the present moment anything that in any form or shape, could be construed into a personal attack. If criticism of a Minister and his policy is to be characterized as a personal attack, then I think there will very speedily be an end to freedom of discussion and an end of all comment on the policy of the Government. But the noble Lord went beyond that, for he told us that the debate had been taken advantage of by hon. 1535 Gentlemen on this side of the House, who were moved with regret that a Russian Prince had not been placed on the throne of Greece, and that it had been made a matter of complaint by those hon. Members that the people of Greece had shown respect to the people of this country and their Sovereign by offering the crown to a British Prince. Sir, I say that not only no such reflection has been made by hon. Members on this side of the House, but, on the contrary, they have expressed a sentiment, on this and on the other side of the House, that the choice of the Greek people was a credit to Greece, as it was at the same time a high compliment to the Crown and people of this country. The question before the House is simple: it is whether the policy of Her Majesty's Government as regards the people of Greece in this question has been a frank, a straightforward, and an English one. No hon. Member has expressed regret that an English Prince had been selected by the Greek people; but it has been regretted that the policy of Her Majesty's Government has not been that which became the English Government. Now, what is really the history of this case? We have heard from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in strong language, his opinion of the Greek people, and of the way in which this revolution has been carried through. We have been told that it has done them honour to have got rid of, what he calls, a corrupt Government, in the way they have done, without violence or bloodshed; that they have asserted their rights; that they have looked to the establishment of constitutional government; that they directed their first wishes to this country as being the best security to obtain such a form of Government; that they disclaimed the desire to wage war or commit acts of aggression on their neighbours; and that they had desired solely to obtain their rights in a peaceable and constitutional manner. This is what the noble Lord has stated as the object of revolution. Well, what is the position of the Greeks now? They are without a Government and without a So-vereign, and on this very day we receive news from Greece that the army is divided into two parts, and that the Greeks themselves are in hourly fear of massacre and anarchy. We ask ourselves what it is that has produced this state of things? How is it that a revolution which at its outset was so hopeful, which in its course, and in the various steps taken by those 1536 who promoted it, did so much credit to the people, has led to results so contrary to all that was hoped or expected? Instead of constitutional government, you have anarchy; instead of peace, the fear of massacre and bloodshed. The reason is this— the hopes and wishes of the Greek people have been trifled with. That the opportunity has been lost of establishing a constitutional government in that country, that now they are drifting hopelessly on the sea, is, we believe, to a great extent the result of the policy of Her Majesty's Government. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and the noble Lord at the head of the Government, have not dealt fairly with the House in quoting the papers to which reference has been made. Scarcely any one in this House, I believe (unless it be an hon. Friend behind me, judging from a chance expression which he dropped), will regret that Prince Alfred did not accept the throne of Greece. I believe that the acceptance of the throne by His Royal Highness would have been a most fruitful source of complication and embarrassment and danger to this country, and would have contributed neither to the peace nor the future honour of His Royal Highness. Therefore, I put that altogether out of consideration now, because nobody regrets it. But what we regret is, that Her Majesty's Government, having in the first instance adopted a clear, open, and decided policy, and boldly announced it in the most unmistakable terms, afterwards, for reasons which I shall presently advert to, changed their tone, and allowed the Greek people to believe it was possible, if Prince Alfred were elected, that he still might accept the throne, and that at the last moment the Greeks found their hopes most cruelly disappointed. I am not going to refer to the papers at any length. They have already been referred to in the debate, and on all sides it is quite conceded, both on the part of those who impeach the conduct of the Government, and on the part of the Government, who themselves have pointed it out, that in the first instance they clearly announced their opinion that any member of the Royal families of the three protecting Powers was ineligible to the throne. With that we entirely agree, but what we say is that you afterwards changed your tone, and that can be easily proved by reference to one despatch. After the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office had communicated, in the most open terms, his opinion that 1537 no member of the Royal families of Prance, Russia, or England were eligible, and had directed Mr. Scarlett not only to express that to the Ministers, but to make the opinion of the English Government known in all quarters wherever he possibly could, he sent a telegram on the 16th of November, which is thus referred to by Mr. Scarlett, in a despatch dated November 24, and received on December 6 —Your Lordship is aware that on account of the uncertainty hanging over the question of a successor to the throne of King Otho, and more especially since I received a telegram from your Lordship (dated the 16th of November) directing me ' not to interfere at all in election of the King,' but to leave them 'to choose whom they like,' I have, in my position here, maintained the necessary reserve on that important subject. When informed previously that a demonstration was likely to occur in front of the Legation, in order not to give umbrage to any of my colleagues I purposely left the house, and by my language deprecated the intention of the Crocks to make any manifestation of this kind before my residence, thinking it might have the effect of compromising Her Majesty's Mission, and causing a false construction to be placed on the neutral line of conduct I had determined to adopt.It was perfectly clear that at that time Earl Russell had, in the first instance, directed Mr. Scarlett to announce, not only to the Greek Government, but where-ever he possibly could, in society, to public bodies, and others, the statement that Prince Alfred could not be elected. He then sends another telegram desiring him to let it be known that the Greeks may "choose whom they like," and directing Mr. Scarlett not to interfere in the election. That telegram, according to Mr. Scarlett, throws the Greek people into the most utter uncertainty as to the future. We will go on a little further. Mr. Scarlett speaks of a demonstration in favour of Prince Alfred, and he says that in returning thanks for this demonstration he merely thanked them for the honour they had done His Royal Highness, and expressed sympathy for the Greek nation; but he does not any louder say, as Earl Russell had desired him in the first instance, that it was impossible for Prince Alfred to accept the throne. On the same day there is another demonstration, and when be is asked to be the bearer of the sincere and unanimous wish of the people to have Prince Alfred for their King, Mr. Scarlett replies that he is "not authorized to give them an answer on this matter." Not authorized to give an answer on this matter! Why, the in- 1538 structions he received from Earl Russell in the first instance were, that he was to make it known everywhere that Prince Alfred could not accept the throne; and it is only until uncertainty is produced by this telegram that this modified answer is given by Mr. Scarlett. Is that all? On the following day, Sunday, a still larger demonstration took place, and, in describing the form of it, he says—I was addressed in the same manner, and spoke on this occasion to the same effect, adding that I felt bound to continue my reserve with regard to the name of Prince Alfred, whose acceptation of the throne of Greece depended on considerations which I was unable then to determine.Is it not perfectly clear from these papers which the Government have given us, that in the first instance they intended to exclude the members of the three Royal families; and then, finding Russia willing to agree to it—nominally, but not really, because, although Russia was willing to agree to the protocol as regards the members of the Royal family of Russia, she wished to exclude from that description the Duke de Leuchtenberg—is it not clear that the British Government, finding that, changed their tone and allowed it to be considered by the Greek people as possible that Prince Alfred might be elected, and that he might possibly accept the throne? And that with this double object —they knew, on the other hand, that Prince Alfred was the more popular candidate of the two, and they thought that if he were withdrawn, the Duke de Leuchtenberg might be elected, and they therefore allowed the Greek people to think that Prince Alfred might be elected, and might accept the throne, in order to prevent, as far as lay with them, the election of the Duke de Leuchtenberg. And this was further done with another object as regards Russia—that the Russian Government might be put in this position, finding that the Duke de Leuchtenberg had no chance, that the popularity of Prince Alfred was such that his election was secure, they would be driven to acknowledge that the Duke did come under the description of a member of the Royal family of Russia, and was therefore excluded from the throne. Her Majesty's Government succeeded in this—they succeeded in preventing the Duke being elected, and in obtaining a declaration that he was ineligible because Prince Alfred was ineligible. But is that a policy which the English Government ought to pursue—trifling with the 1539 feelings and aspirations of a whole people? Is this a straightforward, frank, and candid course? No, Sir; it appears to me to be a disingenuous policy, to be a tricky policy, and one that reflects no credit on this country or on the Government. This is the charge that has been made against the Government, and it is that which they have not sought to meet except by inaccurately quoting papers which they themselves have supplied. There are other grounds of quarrel I have with the Government. Having thus, as the hon. Member for Honiton has well said, befooled the Greek people, they make that people and themselves ridiculous; and why? Because, throughout, as it appears to me, their policy has been one of impulse, and they have acted without consideration and advice. As regards candidates, they have proposed King Ferdinand of Portugal, who, it was soon found, would have nothing to do with the Greeks. Would it not have been more reasonable to have ascertained his wishes and feelings before they proposed him to the Greek people? Then they took the same course with regard to the Duke of Coburg, Would it not have been as well if they had ascertained the grounds on which they were proceeding before they proposed his candidature, and went the length of authorizing the minister at Athens to announce his acceptance of the throne? Has not this hasty, hand-over-head policy, which has marked their choice of candidates, characterized the course of the Government in reference to the Ionian Islands? Before Greece had a government, they said they were willing to give up the protectorate if the Sovereign to be elected would do as Otho had done thirty years before—promise everything and fulfil nothing. Did it never strike the Government that there were others to be considered—that the question might be deemed by the British Parliament of sufficient magnitude and importance to deserve their consideration. Did it never strike them, before throwing this apple of discord among the people in the East, that it might be as well if the Ionian people were consulted. The noble Lord the other night told us that this was a mere offer, and that it went for nothing—he said it meant nothing because it was necessary to consult the other parties to the Treaty of Vienna before the protectorate could be given up. Did it not strike the noble Lord that Austria was deeply concerned in the matter, 1540 and that her consent might have been asked? Or was this intended to show a piece of cheap generosity, in exhibiting to the Greek people the readiness of England to make the cession, and throwing the odium upon Austria of standing in the way? It appears to me that the policy of the British Government has been throughout hasty and ill-considered, and that from the beginning to the end— whether looking to their negotiation with Greece as regards the candidates proposed, to the cession of the Ionian Islands, or still more looking to the conduct they pursued towards the Greeks in first refusing Prince Alfred, then encouraging them to hope, and finally denying them — their conduct has not been such as to reflect honour on this country, and that is certainly a charge which her Majesty's Government have not successfully met this evening.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, after the appeal which had been made to him by the noble Viscount, he would not divide the House. The noble Lord had misrepresented him. He had never said that the Greeks were difficult to govern. On the contrary, he expressed his admiration of their conduct in the increased difficulties consequent upon the noble Lord's policy. It was also a misrepresentation to say that hon. Gentlemen on those (the Opposition) benches regretted the popularity of Prince Alfred. He had said himself, that it was the noblest testimony which could be given of the high opinion entertained towards Her Majesty and English institutions. The conduct of Earl Russell had excited false hope, and was disrespectful to the Sovereign in making use of Prince Alfred's name for the sake of a diplomatic intrigue.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn,