HC Deb 15 February 1867 vol 185 cc406-50

rose to move an Amendment for an Address for Copies of Correspondence with foreign Governments on the subject of the Insurrection in Crete, and the Servian fortresses, and for Reports of our Consular agents on those subjects. He said, that in 1863 he brought under the notice of the House one of the most inexcusable outrages that had taken place during the last quarter of a century—namely, the bombardment of Belgrade by the Turkish garrison. He used the word inexcusable advisedly, resting that expression on the protests of all the Consuls, headed by Mr. Longworth, and on the Reports of the Consuls of France, Italy, and Prussia. Between the Mussulmans and the Christians in Servia there had always existed a bad feeling; but this outrage had aggravated that feeling into such intense hatred, that no one could tell what the next day might bring forth. Any rash word or action might end in the destruction of a Turkish garrison or of a Christian town. With discontent so rife as it was, it was impossible that people could pursue the avocations of peace, for capital and commerce deserted a country which might at any moment become the theatre of sanguinary insurrection. In 1863 he showed that the imports of Belgrade, which in the second half of 1861 were valued at 31,500,000 of Turkish piastres, in the second half of 1862 (after the bombardment of Belgrade) had fallen to 16,000,000 piastres. Since then, the Servians had prayed and besought the European Powers to aid them in obtaining removal of the Turkish garrisons. They had shown that all internal improvement was at a standstill, and must be as long as the two peoples were in presence of each other, and they had pointed out that Moldavia and Wallachia, without a Turkish garrison or even a single Turk, acquiesced willingly in the suzerainty of the Porte. If, however, these fortresses were intended to repel foreign aggression, how much more necessary would it be to maintain them on the frontiers of Moldavia, the most accessible point from which Turkey could be attacked by the only enemy likely to assail her in that direction. Surely, if they could be left un-garrisoned still more might Servia, which was exposed to attack only from Austria, the last Power to be suspected of aggressive designs. These fortresses were originally nothing more than old Turkish outposts, whence the Turks issued to lay waste Christian territory. Now they could serve only to irritate and terrify the Servians, and to impose on Turkey financial burdens which she could not bear. The result was, Servia had become the focus of intrigues, whence discontent in Montenegro, the Herzegovina, and Bosnia received encouragement. It was perfectly notorious that the fabrication of arms and munitions of war was carried on, and that the Servians were determined to appeal to the sword rather than submit to the continuance of a state of things so intolerable. Could any one doubt but that the first shot on the Danube would be re-echoed in Montenegro, the Herzegovina, Thessaly, Epirus, and though not perhaps immediately, yet ultimately in Bulgaria? Could any one help fearing that the shock between the Crescent and the Cross might not spread ever onward, and its undulations be felt in massacres and tumults wherever Christianity was brought into contact with Islamism? His object was to prevent this catastrophe. He had no wish to see the Turkish Empire torn to pieces without anything to replace it. His policy was gradually to bring these Christian dependencies of the Porte to civilization and self-government; to render them fit to stand ultimately alone; and to become worthy heritors of what must eventually be theirs. That was the true solution of this dreaded Eastern question—a solution identified with the happiness of many millions of people, the stability of their future institutions, and the peace of Europe. There were three policies pursued by the three greatest Powers in dealing with the East of Europe. There was the Russian policy, which was one of pure self-interest and aggrandizement. Its object was to keep the Eastern Christians united to it by the bonds of a common faith in constant discontent and turbulence. It had no desire to see them rise, thrive, and become strong, self-governing, and satisfied. Mis-government and misery were the foundations of its strength. Remove that mis-government, and her arms fell idly to the ground. It was extraordinary the unblushing cynicism with which this course of conduct was avowed. The instant other nations endeavoured to effect a permanent settlement of any portion of these countries there stepped in Russia, affecting an astonishing punctiliousness for the rights and independence of the Porte. Read the papers lately presented about the Danubian provinces, and it would there be seen that when England and France approved their choice of a foreign Prince Russia opposed that choice with might and main, on the ground of its interference with the authority of the Sultan. Did the House of Commons imagine that these people were blinded to all this? Quite the reverse. The Servians understood it—the Greeks understood it better. They remembered the Czar's conversation with Sir Hamilton Seymour, in which he said that Russia would never tolerate Greece becoming a strong and united kingdom. Nevertheless, so great is the irritation and despair, that these people, finding the Western Powers indifferent, if not hostile, turn their eyes and hearts to Russia, because from her they obtain a sympathy if even interested, and promises if even false. As to the next, the English policy, he was bound to say that it was, at all events, disinterested though inconsistent and mistaken. We had pursued the policy of preserving at all hazards the integrity of Turkey, whatever the sufferings or the wishes of her Christian dependencies. He did not for a moment mean to imply that England was indifferent to the oppression, the mis-government, and the sufferings which had been inflicted upon those Christian populations. We had interfered, protested, menaced, beseeched. The whole course of Sir Stratford Canning's diplomacy at Constantinople, as also Lord Palmerston's action at the Foreign Office, had been a continued protest. But what he meant was this, that the sufferings and discontent of the Christian dependencies of Turkey seemed to be as dust in the balance when compared with the fancied danger of the removal of one single pebble from that crumbling edifice. We had gone on year after year, hoping against hope that we could work a cure where the disease was inveterate, that we could wash a blackamoor white, or render any system of Turkish government enlightened, progressive, and humane. Surely, to persevere in such a system was wrong, after years of experience had proved it to be a failure; a failure as regards the happiness of millions of Eastern Christians; a failure in its main object—namely, placing a barrier in the way of Russia. It was also inconsistent. For we had invariably hailed the independence of every people that had escaped from oppression to self-government. We had given moral assistance to the Republics of South America; we gave more than moral assistance to Greece. We had rejoiced at the independence of Italy, and the expulsion of the Austrians. But if the bad government which these countries had suffered was as nothing compared with the oppression of the Christian dependencies of Turkey, was not our conduct inconsistent? If any one wished to have an exposition of the true policy which we ought to pursue, let him read the speech of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gladstone) on the subject of the Danubian principalities. Of the many wise and noble speeches which the right hon. Gentleman had made, history would pronounce that speech to be one of the wisest and the noblest. The right hon. Gentleman said— I must really say that if it were our desire to embroil the East, to sow the seeds and create the elements of permanent difficulty and disunion, to aggravate every danger which threatens Turkey, to pave the way for Russia, and to prepare willing auxiliaries for Russia in her projects southwards, we could not attain those objects by any scheme better laid down than that of abandoning our pledges and promises and giving in to Austrian policy."—[3 Hansard, cl. 65.] But Austrian policy was synonymous with English policy, as was proved from the speeches of Lord Palmerston and Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald. On that occasion, Mr. Gladstone proceeded— It is natural that Austria should view with the utmost jealousy anything that tends to give freedom, vitality, and strength to her neighbours on the Danube. It is impossible to blame her on that account; but it is probable—it is natural—it is reasonable and right that we at least should beware of being drawn into her policy."—[3 Hansard, cl. 50.] In another place, he said— It is a great object of European policy to prevent the extension of the Russian power in the direction of Constantinople. … The best resistance to be offered to Russia is by the strength and freedom of those countries that will have to resist her. You want to place a living barrier between her and Turkey—there is no barrier then like the breasts of free men."—? [3 Hansard, cl. 59.] This was his justification for saying that our policy was unwise; and he felt additionally justified if the rumour were true that Austria had at length seen the error of her ways, and that Baron Beust had discovered that to deprive these provinces of all that contributes to vitality, strength, and contentment was to place the most powerful weapons for her own chastisement in the hands of that powerful neighbour, Russia, who looked on her with no loving eye. He (Mr. Gregory) had described the policy of Russia and England; there remained the policy of France. Doubts had been expressed as to her sincerity. Whatever it might have been, at present he thought it was enlightened and sincere. It might have been different, and no doubt it was in former times when there was a perpetual rivalry throughout the world. It was then sufficient for England to recommend and for France to oppose. French diplomacy was the unscrupulous opponent of Marcocordato, the best statesman of Greece, and the advocate of Coletti the worst. Much of the evil doings of King Otho, the curse and ruin of Greece, were performed under French influence and support. But that was the policy of the past. He would borrow his definition of French policy in these days from the words of that distinguished statesman M. Guizot. He said— To maintain the Ottoman Empire for the purposes of European equilibrium, and when by the natural progress of events some dismemberment takes place, some province detaches itself from the crumbling Empire, to favour the transformation of that province into a new and independent sovereignty, which would take its place in the family of States, and serve one day to form a new European equilibrium—that is the policy which suits France, it is one to which she has been naturally led, and in it, I think, she will be wise to persevere. He was perfectly confident that before long that would be the policy of England also. He could see public opinion tending steadily that way. Ever since the outrage in 1862, to which he had adverted, took place, France had advocated the removal of those fortresses, which were only a source of weakness to Turkey, while they were a menace and an insult to Servia. What did M. Thouvenel say upon this subject— While the right of garrisoning these fortresses incontestibly belongs to the Porte, I do not hesitate to believe that the Porte would do wisely in acceding to the demands of Servia. Turkey, in evacuating these provinces, would find herself placed in the same position it occupied towards Moldo-Wallachia in Egypt. The discontent of the Servians can alone induce them to favour those troubles which may arise in the Turkish provinces. On the contrary, if their wishes were satisfied, they would have less inclination then ever to second those of neighbouring populations. I see no better hope or means for the Porte to take away from these agitations the only chance they have of creating danger, than by deferring to the demands of Servia. Judging from the papers that had been produced, he had reason to believe that the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord Stanley) would proceed in a wise and liberal course. Whatever might have been the policy of England twenty-five years ago, the noble Lord would probably acknowledge that it was not applicable to the present state of affairs, and he felt justified in hoping that the course which England might pursue would be followed by other nations. The noble Lord, in the Correspondence on the Danubian Principalities, wrote thus in July, 1866— The strength and not the weakness of the Principalities was the best source of security to the Porte. If the noble Lord would substitute Servia for the Principalities, and deal with Servia in that spirit, he would be perfectly satisfied. Up to this point, and in recommending that Servia should be placed upon precisely the same footing as Moldo-Wallachia, he had spoken without the slightest hesitation; but in approaching the circumstances of the Cretan insurrection, he confessed he did so with faltering and hesitation. He was thoroughly aware of the character of the Greek people, of their enthusiasm, their excitability, their readiness to hail every incident and word as pregnant with encouragement. Such being the case, and knowing the additional misery which the protraction of the war would entail upon Crete, he dreaded lest any unguarded words might excite illusory hopes of assistance, and be the means of protracting a hopeless struggle, if the struggle be hopeless. For the last six months pillage, murder, and devastation had been laying waste one of the finest islands in the Mediterranean. At the very threshold was an instance of the difficulties attending this discussion. What was the origin of these troubles? Who were really the guilty parties? The Turks maintain that the outbreak was not owing to mis-government, but was excited by foreign emissaries, with a view to annexing the island to Greece. M. Moustier, the French Minister, in his note, inserted in The Moniteur of December 5, held nearly the same tone as Ali Pasha, adding that the sound part of the population had not hitherto participated in the insurrection. Baron Brunnow, in a conversation with Lord Stanley, seemed to have arrived at a similar opinion. There was, on the other hand, positive evidence that the iniquitous mis-government of the Turks was the sole cause of the outbreak. The circumstances attending the insurrection of 1866 resembled exactly what occurred in 1858. In 1858 the Cretans assembled in order to demand a redress of proved and intolerable grievances, and dispersed on receiving assurances that this would be done. At that time Turkey had its hands full with Montenegro and the Herzegovina, and as usual, at first temporized, and on being pressed, promised. Not one pledge was fulfilled. Instead of those promises having been performed, the taxes had been increased, and the administration of justice was more flagrantly iniquitous and corrupt than it was before. A passage in the petition which the Cretans had addressed to Her Majesty was one of the most pathetic that he had ever read. It was as follows:— We pay enormous taxes, which are increased each year, without enjoying any of the advantages which all nations receive in return for such taxation. Justice is a thing unheard of. We have no tribunals worthy of that name; nor have we any laws. Our government depends on the arbitrary will of the representative of the Sublime Porte. Our children, from want of public instruction, wallow in ignorance; the few schools we have are maintained at our own small means. The clergy are even paid by us. We are not admitted into the public service. We have no roads or bridges. Our evidence is of no avail against that of a Mussulman. The excesses committed by the Turks are rarely punished. We have never experienced any of the advantages enjoyed by the poorest subjects of civilized nations. We are the slaves of another race. After expressing their utter distrust from better experience in the promises of the Porte, they represented their desire for annexation to Greece; and, in default of this, implored that something at least might be done to obtain for them a political organization under which there might be laws and regular tribunals, less grievous and better imposed taxes, by which the morality of the people might become possible, and that at least one part of the revenues of the country should be expended in its improvement. This petition assuredly did not convey the impression that they were determined all along upon insurrection, even though their grievances were redressed; and the British Consul, Mr. Dickson, stated, that when they met in May to petition the Sultan they were unarmed, and unanimously professed their sentiments of loyalty and submission to the Porte. Moreover, a statement recently received by the hon. Member for Reading from the American Consul disclosed a degree of misgovernment quite sufficient to account for the outbreak. Have we any moral doubts that it can be otherwise with Crete than with other portions of the Ottoman Empire? The Consular Reports of 1860, on the condition of the Christian defences of the Porte, showed that in every part of its dominions justice was unknown, and the lives and properties of the Christian populations without any protection. The Cretans, in the first instance, assembled to ask for a redress of their grievances, and they then dispersed, leaving thirty of their number to await the answer of the Turkish Government. The Porte not only resorted to evasion and delay, but before giving a reply sent 6,000 Egyptian troops to occupy every point of strategical importance, while the Governor occupied himself in endeavouring to arrest every man who had taken a prominent part in the movement. Under these circumstances the Cretans flew to arms, and then the Porte, acting on its usual policy, sent Mustapha Pasha as a Commissioner with promises of redress. Before, however, he arrived the mischief had been done, and peace had become impossible. Mr. Dickson, who had behaved throughout with great prudence and propriety, said— Up to the arrival of Mustapha Pasha many excesses have been committed in those districts, whole villages having been sacked and laid waste, churches and mosques having been violated, and even some graves have not been spared in the work of wanton destruction that has been going on. The conduct of the military is described as having been bad in several instances. Then came a series of testimonials from unbiased persons of the atrocities committed by the Turks. Mr. Erskine, writing on November 3, said— I have seen letters from three different persons in Candia, all foreigners, who speak of the conduct of the Turkish and Egyptian troops as simply atrocious. One gentleman describes the massacre of 200 persons, chiefly old men, women, and children; and the barbarities committed by the troops as beyond all belief. Another states that the Turks refused all quarter to the Christians, and mercilessly chopped off the heads of the unfortunate wounded, as well as dead, a reward of 100 lira having been offered for each head thus brought to the camp. The writer of this letter adds, it is true, that similar barbarities are committed by the Christians. If these statements at all resemble the truth, it may be conceived how difficult it will be ever to reconcile the Christians to the Turkish rule, or to persuade them to live harmoniously with native Mussulmans whom they accuse of such horrors. At a later date Mr. Erskine quoted the opinion of one of our own naval officers, Commander Pym, to the following effect:— He is no less confident that the Cretans will not submit to the Turkish yoke one moment longer than is absolutely necessary, and that as soon as any considerable portion of the Ottoman forces is withdrawn the people will rise and again seek to avenge the numerous wrongs which have been inflicted upon them by a barbarous Government and a savage and brutal soldiery. Despatches from Commander Pym and Mr. Erskine described the outrages committed by the Turks upon the Christian population of Crete, especially upon women. The account given by the Russian commander was to the same effect. He added, that the Turks hoisted English colours in order to decoy these unfortunate Christians, non-combatants, old men, women, and children within range, when they opened on them with grapeshot. The last telegrams stated that this insurrection had ceased; but it appeared to him quite impossible that the Cretans would ever return to Turkish rule. The horrors and outrages they had endured at the hands of the Turks would never be forgotten; they had left wounds which could never he healed. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) might be perfectly certain that there never would be peace in Eastern Europe so long as these insurrections were perpetually bursting out. He gave the noble Lord the fullest credit for humanity. His conduct had been most kind and conciliatory, and his action contrasted favourably with that of the stern, harsh, and menacing course of the French Government. He was glad, however, to perceive from these papers that some change was coming over the policy of the French Government. It seems that some proposal had been made to give a local autonomy to the island; for the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had, on the 19th of January last, written a despatch to Sir Andrew Buchanan, in which he stated— We are willing to support the proposition of France and Russia for giving local autonomy to Crete. But we respect the independence of the Porte, and shall consider that in offering this friendly advice me have discharged our duty. We disclaim all idea of putting a pressure on the Porte. It is understood that the Porte has itself a plan for giving to the Christian population of the island guarantees for good government in the shape of some new administrative arrangement. We are glad to hear this; and provided that object be secured, we are indifferent as to the precise means. We do not understand by the word local autonomy anything in the nature of a separation of Crete from the rest of the Empire. Baron Brunnow expressed his satisfaction at this announcement, adding that he quite understood that it was not in accordance with the ideas or feelings of the British Government to carry intervention further. In another part of the blue book would be found a criticism on this proposal on the part of Prince Gortschakoff, and there was great good sense in the observations of the Russian Minister to Sir Andrew Buchanan, who, writing on the 30th of January to the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), said— His Excellency replied that he had received a memorandum communicated by your Lordship to Baron Brunnow as to the nature of the support which will be afforded by Her Majesty's Government to the proposals of France and Russia for giving local autonomy to Crete, but he feared that advice given to the Porte in the manner intended by your Lordship would be thrown away; and as I said that Her Majesty's Government had been assured that the plan which the Turkish Government were themselves preparing for establishing a new system of administration in the island would satisfy the legitimate wants of the inhabitants, he answered that he had no confidence in plans emanating solely from the Porte, and that there was little doubt that the reforms contemplated by the Turkish Government would prove as visionary as those promised by the Hatti-Humayoun. The Cretans were evidently of the opinion of Prince Gortschakoff. By the latest accounts they had refused to accept the concessions offered by the Porte, knowing that they were not worth the paper on which they were written. He, for one, was not prepared to advocate at the present moment the union of Crete with Greece. That union must come sooner or later; but at present the great Powers were averse to it. They grounded their opposition on the pressure that must be put on Turkey, and the results that might follow from the pressure; and last, but not least, on the misgovernment which prevails in Greece. What he proposed was that there should be an immediate, strict, and searching inquiry into the complaints of the Cretans. We had a right to know whether the promises made by the Porte in the Hatti-Humayoun of 1856 had been fulfilled, and whether the stipulations made by the Porte in 1858 with the Christians of Crete had been carried out. England, in 1856, had taken on herself obligations, and was bound by them to call upon the Turks to give an account of their stewardship. If these allegations of the Cretans were proved against the Porte, the Cretans had a right to claim the privileges of self-government. In 1830 Crete almost obtained her independence. The whole of the island, with the exception of three or four fortresses, was in the possession of the Cretans. Diplomacy, however, stepped in, and handed over the island, first to Egypt and afterwards to Turkey. One of the objections urged at the time against detaching Crete from Turkey was that the Mahomedan population at that time comprised one-half of the island. That objection did not now apply, because the Mahomedans had dwindled down to one-third of the inhabitants of the island, and, deducting the public functionaries and the army, the proportion was still lower. If the demand were made to annex the island to Greece, they would but follow the example of Lord Holland, Sir James Mackintosh, Lords Russell and Palmerston in recommending such a course. On the 16th of February, 1830, Lord Russell proposed a Resolution in reference to Greece, of which the following words were a portion:— That it is the confident hope of this House that such final settlement may be found to secure Greece a territory sufficient for national defence."—[2 Hansard,xxii. 549.] It was because this hope was not fulfilled that Greece lost Prince Leopold, who foresaw the impossibility of governing the new kingdom with its restricted territory, and who was well aware that, with the Greek populations of Epirus and Thessaly left in Turkish hands upon her frontiers, there would be constant incentives to aggression and disturbance. Sir James Mackintosh deprecated, in the same debate, "the restriction of the Greek boundary." Then came Lord Palmerston, who, in words that seemed prescient of all that had since occurred, said— The Secretary of State had altogether failed in showing that the addition of Candia to the territory of Greece was not essential to the well-being and independence of the new State. … No man who had turned his attention to the subject could doubt that the political existence and the military defence of Greece would mainly depend upon the possession of Candia. … The Turks had wrongfully preserved possession of Candia, and now it was contended they should be allowed to profit by that wrong. It was a principle of law that no man should profit by his own wrong. It was a maxim of justice that the infliction of one injury should not stand good as a reason for the infliction of further and deeper injuries. It was acknowledged that, at the present moment, a civil war was going on in Candia. Were they to have another Treaty of London for the pacification of Candia? or was that devoted and unhappy island to be left exposed to the pouring forth of the vials of Turkish wrath in all its inhuman and atrocious barbarity, to a repetition of the atrocities of Ipsara and Scio? There had been a talk of amnesty; they must all, by this time, know pretty well what amnesty meant when translated into the languages of Spain, or Portugal, or Turkey. In Turkey they had a proverb that there were three merciless things—time, fire, and the Sultan; and if he knew anything of the history of Turkey, he would say there was little probability of that being less true at the present than at any former period. Let Candia remain in the hands of the Turks, and what probability was there that the Greeks in that island would remain patient under that yoke which their brethren had shaken off?. … Would it he possible for the Sovereign of Greece to stand by and see thousands of his subjects slaughtered by the Turks without interference? … Or if both England and the Sovereign of Greece refused to interfere, the Greeks themselves would fly to the succour of their brethren, and then of what advantage would it be that the State was nominally at peace?"—[2 Hansard, xxii. 563.] The latter part of this question was exactly applicable to the present state of things. Lord Holland used similar language. Most heartily should he rejoice if the rumour were true, that France was changing her attitude on this question. If this were true, he trusted England would advance with her. A faltering and timid policy would only aggravate the evil, and render the danger of an explosion through- out the East more imminent. He was aware it might be against the policy of the great Powers at present that Candia, or that Thessaly and Epirus, should be joined to Greece; but he felt sure that there were many Gentlemen then listening to him who would live to see those changes, though how or when they would be brought about he did not know. Who could have known a few years ago how or when Venetia would be joined to Italy? And yet that event had happily taken place; and so it will be, and that ere long, with Thessaly, Epirus, and Crete. It might be said by some that, whatever be the wishes of Crete, Greece was incapable of self-government, and unworthy of any extension of her territory. It was said that she was a failure, and had falsified every hope. But he must deny that assertion. Evil without end had been spoken of the Greek Government, and much evil also of the Greeks themselves. They were not Greeks but Byzantines, said the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Layaid)—they were not descendants of that great people who once filled the world with the renown of their exploits—they were a mongrel bastard race, descended from the population of the Lower Empire, with all the turbulence, the corruption, and the other attributes of that people. Would those who indulged in these declamations against the Greeks remember what the Greeks had been and what they are? For 1,000 years they lay in a state of utter prostration. For 400 years afterwards they lay at the feet of the most brutal and ignorant race of conquerors that ever weighed upon the earth. They felt that their property, their lives, and the honour of their families, were at the mercy of shifting, arbitrary rulers, intent only on plunder and oppression. Their religion was insulted and reviled—their laws trampled under foot—justice had fled the land, but violence remained. That with such a past of almost moral death, that with such a present of misery and despair, there should still linger a spark of vitality and national character is a marvel in itself; but that all at once, at the last hour, they should with one great effort have rolled back the heavy stone from the door of their sepulchre, and in the noble words of Colonel Mure— That they should shake off the spirit of tame submission which had become to them a second nature; that they should rise to a man against the overwhelming power of their oppressors, and with all the native energy of a young and vigorous race of fierce barbarians, is an event unexampled in the history of mankind. But was the war they waged during the long and dreadful struggle, between 1821 and 1830, a war of soft and silken Byzantines, or could it be worthily compared with the war of freedom of the noblest days of Greece? Was that fierce army of Turks, flushed with the arrogance of conquest and dominion, less formidable than that of Persia? Let him quote from Colonel Mure a comparison between the past and the present champions of the independence of Greece. Colonel Mure said, as eloquently as truthfully— The Greeks at the period of the Persian war were a people in the flower of youth and vigour, flushed with recollections of ancient glory, filled with the loftiest spirit of national pride and independence. The whole population was trained to arms, and inured to the dangers and duties of military life. Their lower classes were practical warriors, their upper ranks skilful commanders; their armies and fleets were in a high state of discipline and equipment, and were opposed to comparatively undisciplined and unwarlike hordes. In the case of the modern Greeks all these favourable circumstances were reversed. Their wealthier classes were either merchants or servants of the Porte—a timid and time-serving race—their warriors were brigands and outlaws, or raw unpractised peasantry; their mariners, fishermen or pirates. Their enemies were not only a race of approved valour and powerful resources, comparatively disciplined, experienced, and well equipped, but were cantoned in the heart of the country, and in possession of all its principal fortresses. But besides this, during the two or three first years of the war, they had not only the force of their declared enemy to contend with, but the still more galling hostility of his European allies, many of whom, under the name of neutrality, used every means consistent with the shadow of its maintenance to favour the Turks and browbeat the Greeks. Driven from their fields and homes to make their abode for months and years 'in deserts and in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth,' astonished and appalled to find themselves denounced as the common enemy of civilized Europe, under all these afflicting discouragements they never lost heart; and a few raw levies of squalid mountaineers or unwarlike fishermen, by the unaided resources of their own valour or conduct, successively dispersed the choicest armies, and baffled or discomfited the ponderous navies of one of the mightiest Empires of modern times. Such heroism and devotion to their country, coupled with a keen and subtle intellect, and a marvellous aptitude for commerce, were surely no bad ingredients for the moulding of a young nation. Now, if it is to be proved that the independence of Greece has been a failure, it must be shown that population has decreased, revenue fallen, the internal condition of the coun- try receded from bad to worse, and the lower classes more ignorant and discontented during the last thirty-six years. He could prove the reverse. In every village he believed there was a school, and the rising generation of Greeks generally was better educated than that of this country. Since 1831 the Greeks had rebuilt twenty-one towns destroyed in the war, besides founding ten new ones. In 1831 their revenue was only £178,000, and in 1864 it had risen to £781,000. In 1866, including the revenue of the Ionian Islands, the public income amounted to £1,081,000. Within the same period the population had nearly doubled. They had replanted their groves of olives and currants destroyed in the war. They had built over 5,000 vessels. They monopolized almost all the commerce of the Levant. At Odessa, Ibraila, and Galatz their flag outnumbered all the flags of the world. At Constantinople and Leghorn they were only second to the English; at Marseilles second only to the French. And all that progress had been achieved within thirty years, and in spite of a Government which the late Lord Carlisle described as the moat inefficient, most corrupt, and most contemptible with which a nation ever was cursed. If the Greeks were turbulent and corrupt, it should be borne in mind what sort of education they had received during those thirty years. Their Legislative Chambers had been packed with Court satellites; their tribunals were subservient and venal; and the funds applicable for the construction of roads, bridges, harbours, and other internal improvements, were wasted or spent in bribery. His only wonder was that with such a training things were not worse than they were. But the greatness of a nation did not depend on its innocence, but on its energy. One predominant trait in the character of the Greek, whether he was found at Marseilles or Manchester, in Corfu or in Greece, was his intense longing for the unity of his race. The Ionians were perfectly well aware of the price they would have to pay for their dissociation from England, and no doubt the government of those islands had been bad since their annexation to Greece. But he was convinced, from all information he had received, that if they put it to the ballot among the Ionians whether they would return under the dominion of England, the enormous majority of them would prefer to remain united with their native land, with all their present inconveniences, rather than go back to the case, security, and strong, good government they had left. There was something noble in that spirit; and the nation which was guided by such a star would not long suffer their country to be a failure. In conclusion, he hoped to elicit from the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) some intimation that the policy of the past would not be the policy of the present; but that the policy of the Foreign Office, as regarded the Christian dependencies of Turkey, would, as long as it was in his hands, rest on the assumption that in their gradual elevation to self-government and independence was the best hope for the happiness of many millions of our fellow-creatures, and for the preservation of peace, as well as for the true solution of the Eastern question. The hon. Member concluded by moving an Address for the Papers.


said, that Eastern questions stood on a different footing from that of other foreign questions in the Parliament of this country. The principle of non-intervention could scarcely he applied to them. Greece was under great pecuniary and other obligations to England. We had rendered her great services, and this fact certainly gave us a right to interfere so far as to make such suggestions as we thought might be useful to that country. We were a party to the transactions of 1856. We had a right, therefore, to see that the engagements entered into in that year with respect to the Christian subjects of the Turkish Government were faithfully carried out. By making over the Ionian Islands to Greece we had given one more proof of our interest in the Greeks. In times of difficulty Eastern nations turned to us, notwithstanding our principles of non-intervention. Thus, in 1862, on the occasion of the bombardment of Belgrade, neither the Austrian Consul nor the French Consul was applied to; but the assistance of the British Consul was sought for. When the Throne of Greece was declared vacant, the eyes of the Greek nation were turned towards England, in the hope that a Prince of our Royal Family should become their King. The part our Government had played in that transaction was as unfair—he might almost say dishonourable—as any ever played by a Government under anything like similar circumstances. We had in every way led the Greeks to suppose that we should allow a son of the Queen to accept the Throne if he should be elected King, when at the same time we had no intention that he should do anything of the kind. This had been done to play a trick upon Russia, and prevent the election of a Russian Prince. The only point in which he differed from his hon. Friend (Mr. Gregory) was in the rather strong language he had applied to the Turkish Government. He thought the crisis was one that called for the exercise of the spirit of moderation. As an example of this, he was happy to be able to point to the despatches of his noble Friend now at the head of the Foreign Office (Lord Stanley). The sound and moderate views displayed in those despatches did the greatest credit to the wisdom and judgment of his noble Friend, and would do more to raise the character of our foreign policy than those wild phrases to which we had been accustomed from the Foreign Office in former days, and which had led the people of other countries to expect intervention when there was no intention to offer it on their behalf. The real point, however, for their consideration at present was, what was the state of Crete? Had the conditions of the treaty between Turkey and the British Government been faithfully carried out? Any one who had read the blue book must feel distressed at the state of things therein described, and at the barbarities that were practised. He knew that the massacre of the 500 had been disputed; but the fact of its being even a report showed that things were in a very bad way. At Constantinople the Christians had justice done to them, but it was different in the distant provinces of the Turkish Empire. If we turned to Greece we should find that a great advance had been made during the last thirty-six years. From published Returns it appeared that— In 1830 the population of independent Greece numbered 650,000 souls; it is now 1,250,000; nearly double, exclusive of the Ionian Isles. In 1833 the revenue of Greece was 7,950,000 drachmas, equal to £280,000. The Budget of 1865 was Greece, £833,920; Ionian Isles, £171,684; total, £1,005,604. In 1830 the total quantity of currants grown in Greece was 6,000 tons. It is now 40,000 tons, from which the British Government derives an annual revenue of about £300,000. In 1830 oil was an article of importation. It is now largely produced, and in seasons of a good crop the exports reach to 8,000 tuns. In 1830 but few tons of figs were exported, now the exports reach 5,000 tons annually. In every village there is a free school where the poor can send their children. In many towns there are free colleges, and every person, irrespective of rank or station, can send his children to school or college free of all expense. It can be stated, without fear of contradiction, that the system of education in Greece is one of the moat perfect in Europe. All masters of schools or colleges are hound to pass a rigid examination, and all professors, masters, and tutors are paid by Government. There is a national bank, the shares of which are at a high premium; a steam navigation company, successfully conducted; and there are some insurance companies. The Mercantile Marine of Greece numbers 5,000 flags, and there are shipbuilding yards in the island of Syra, Galaxidi, Poros, and other places in Greece. Athens, the capital of independent Greece, has now a population of 50,000 inhabitants; it had only 7,000 in 1830. It was then a miserable dilapidated town of mud huts and Turkish hovels. It is now much enlarged, and well lighted with gas, having stone and marble buildings. It has a university, colleges, free schools, asylums, observatories, libraries, museums, free hospitals. There are at present 1,500 students in Athens, coming from all parts of the East, and finishing their studies there. It was charged against Turkey that 9,000,000 or 10,000,000 of Christians were ground down by 2,000,000 of Turks. In a book containing an account of the travels of two ladies, and published within the last two days, Miss Muir Mackenzie made this statement— The Christian community at Nori Bazaar is at the mercy of the Mussulmans; they enter houses both by day and by night, take what they choose, and behave as they will. Raise an arm or speak a word and you bring on yourself death or the loss of a limb; make a representation to the authorities, and you are ruined by the revenge of those of whom you dared to complain. And again at Ipek— We are suffering what no tongue can tell, what flesh and blood will endure no longer. Our lives, our properties, our wives, our children are at the mercy of a pack of robbers. Our governors, our judges, and police—all are thieves, villains, and bloodguilty. If one among them would do better than the rest—if he try to do us ever so little justice, the rest fall on him and destroy him. It might he said that those ladies had been deceived by false testimony; but it would be admitted that no man was more complete master of Turkish questions than Lord Stratford. And what did he say, writing to Lord Malmesbury, of an interview which he had with the late Sultan on the 6th of October, 1858?— I submitted that little had been done in execution of the Hatti-Humayoun since its promulgation two years and a half ago; that a feeling of disappointment, and almost of despair, was on that account spreading throughout Europe; that the proofs of it were to be found not only in the remarks of private individuals and of public men in high stations, but in the Continental Press—in that of France particularly, and of late, to a certain extent, in the leading journals of England; that the necessity of a comprehensive reform having been recognised by the Ottoman Govern- ment, and corresponding measures proclaimed by his Majesty, it was most desirable to pass without any unnecessary delay from the old to the new system. Such were the expostulations of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. What did Lord Russell say? He used the same language in 1860 respecting the outrages in Syria— This treachery, brutality, and cruelty on the part of those selected by the Sultan himself to govern his best provinces shows either some deep design to exterminate the Christians, or an unheard-of degree of weakness and apathy at Constantinople, or an amount of venality and corruption which it is difficult to credit. You must not be surprised that such feelings should be excited and such reflections made; nor would it be of any use to conceal from the Porte that either the whole system of the Ottoman Government must be replaced by one founded on integrity and justice, or the Sultan must prepare himself for the abandonment of his cause by his best and most persevering allies. And then, what was the opinion of Sir Henry Bulwer? In a despatch dated April 24, 1860, Sir Henry Bulwer says— Wherever the Turk is sufficiently predominant to be implicitly obeyed, laziness, corruption, extravagance, and penury mark his rule; and wherever he is too feeble to exert more than a doubtful and nominal authority, the system of government which prevails is that of the Arab robber and the lawless Highland chieftain. His hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Layard), who was formerly well prepared to defend the Turkish Government, would of course do so on the present occasion. He did not think that this was a fitting occasion to exasperate this bitter question by making an attack upon the Turkish Government; but still, it was right that the truth should be made known, and that the House should be aware that the stipulations entered into with the Turkish Government in 1856 had never been carried out. It would be idle to hold out hopes or to make menaces which we were not prepared to act upon. It was apparent that this country could have no desire, having gone to war at one time in favour of Turkey, now to weaken her by promoting insurrection in any of her dominions. He thought it would be better for the noble Lord to consider whether representations could not be brought to hear on the Turkish Government, and whether steps could not be taken in order to overrule the tyrannical conduct of the subordinates of that Government, for he believed that the central authorities at Constantinople were anxious to put an end to the present state of things. He would suggest, for instance, that our Consuls should have more authority. He hoped that this discussion would give hon. Members an opportunity of approaching the subject in a moderate spirit, and of rendering good to those who were oppressed.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the 'word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies of any Correspondence between the Foreign Office and Foreign Governments on the subject of the insurrection in Crete and the Turkish Fortresses in Servia; and of any Reports from our Consular Agents on these subjects,"—(Mr. Gregory,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he very much regretted that his hon. Friend had thought fit to bring this question before the House at the present moment; more especially as, according to the latest information, the Ottoman Special Commissioner who had been sent to Crete had succeeded in bringing about a better feeling between the Christians and Mahomedans, both parties having sent representatives to Constantinople to state their grievances with the view of having them remedied. His hon. Friend commenced his speech by saying that he should be exceedingly calm and moderate while referring to the misfortunes which had befallen the Island of Crete. That promise, he was afraid, had not been kept. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that his hon. Friend made use of terms, with reference to the Turkish Government and the insurrection, which ought not to have been used, and which might possibly lead to additional trouble. No doubt his hon. Friend did not intend to bring about any such result; but he really was not aware of the importance of speeches of that kind. He might be quite sure that his speech, or a very improved version of it, would be "crowned," as a broadsheet of The Times had been, at Athens or elsewhere. If it were accompanied by the other speeches which would no doubt be made on the subject, the consequences might not be so serious. But, unfortunately, everything which tended to encourage the insurgents was published in Greece, and everything on the other side was suppressed, the result being that the unhappy people were led to believe that some intervention would take place on their behalf, and were urged on to take a course which could only lead to fresh disasters. He could not wonder that there should be much sympathy with the unhappy people of Crete; but still, there were times when a statesman should take a broad and general view of questions like this, and not allow himself to be influenced by these feelings of humanity alone. The question to be determined was, what should be done in order to lessen the amount of suffering and bloodshed. Expressions of sympathy on such occasions might lead to still greater disasters. He was certain that no one could feel more for the Cretans than the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), and no doubt that it was with great pain that he felt it his duty to give the orders directing English vessels of war not to aid the fugitives, and forbidding our Consular agents to distribute funds which had been raised on behalf of the distressed insurgents. That might, to some persons, appear unfeeling; but after all it was a wise and statesmanlike course of proceeding, for if a different course had been adopted, the only result would have been that the hopes of the insurgents would have been raised in vain, and more bloodshed must have followed. He must also say that the speech of his hon. Friend, though eloquent, consisted principally of vague generalities, which were utterly useless as data upon which to form a reliable opinion, or, indeed, were only calculated to mislead. The first question was this—What were the grievances of the Cretan population? The hon. Gentleman had made an excellent speech, but he had no practical acquaintance with the country, or with the dispositions of the people of the East. It was all very well to write generalities in an essay, but when a statesman had to deal with a question the case was very different, and to act upon such generalities might do infinite harm. He confessed he should have liked to see among the papers—if such a document were in existence—some report from our Consul in the island as to whether the complaints of the people of Crete were justified or not. We could not discuss the grievances of the Cretans until we had received fuller information respecting them. The hon. Gentleman was under a mistake when he said that he (Mr. Layard) had always defended the Turkish Government when they had neglected their duty. On the contrary, no man felt more indigna- tion than he did at some acts which had been committed by its authority. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. B. Cochrane) that it was the duty of the Powers who placed Turkey in her present position to see that she fulfilled her engagements, and he had always been ready to condemn the Turkish Government whenever it had failed in this respect. No one had more frequently exposed the laches of that Government than he had; but if these particular grievances complained of by the Cretans were looked into they would not be found so serious as was supposed, and were certainly not such as to justify civil war. According to our Consul, the first grievance of the Cretans was a vicious system of farming the tithes, whereby more than a tenth part of the produce was levied. The oppressive mode usually practised for enforcing payment was also complained of. The system, however, was an old one, and existed in Greece as well as in Turkey; it had, however, been greatly modified, and even abolished altogether in many provinces of Turkey, and, as administrative officers could be found, the Turks were further reducing the number of districts in which the taxes were sold by auction. The next grievance was that undue influence had been exercised on the part of Ismail Pasha, the Governor General, in the late popular election of members of the Demigerondia. No doubt, some influence might have been exercised, but in Crete the Christian population were a large majority, and in some places Christians were the sole population; and any influence which might have been exercised was probably owing to the Christians themselves, and could not have been such as to justify a rebellion. Of the third grievance—the baneful practice of seizing hostages—he knew nothing. The last was the delays attending the adjudication of civil and criminal cases, and such delays occurred in other States besides Turkey. But look at the statements of the Cretans themselves, of their grievances as complained of in their address to the Sultan. The letter addressed to the Great Powers which the hon. Member had read came from Athens or elsewhere, and was no more Cretan in its origin than the hon. Member's speech. The first statement spoke not of the oppressive nature of the taxes, but of a prayer of the people of Sfakia that they should continue to be exempt from its taxation, as they had hitherto been—no allegation being made that taxes was about to be imposed upon them. They complained, secondly, of the badness of the roads; but what were the facts? In 1858, the Turkish Government sent a Mr. Woodward, an English gentleman, to make roads, but the Cretans compelled the Turks to renounce the attempt; first, on the ground that their object was to give military access to their country; and second, that the inhabitants of the village were required to contribute towards the expense. Another complaint was that the mode of electing the representatives of the people was defective; but was Crete the only country in which such a complaint was made? They further complained that the oil-sellers were also money-lenders, and that there were no banks; but it would be hard to lay the blame of these circumstances on the Turkish Government. The fifth complaint referred to the rejection of Christian evidence in the Mahomedan Courts as contrary to the Hatti-Humayoun. It was true, and he regretted it, that in the Mekhiameh or purely Mussulman Courts such evidence was not yet received; but, to remedy the evil, the Turks had established mixed tribunals in which Christian and Mahomedan evidence was equally received. There was no doubt that the Porte was bound to alter the law as regards the reception of Christian evidence; but some allowance must be made for the Turkish Government, which had great difficulty in contending with the feelings and prejudices of a dominant race that had been deeply rooted for centuries. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) was quite right in reminding the Turkish Government that they were bound to fulfil their pledges to Europe, and that the first duty of the Government to the people of Crete was to carry out those promises. The establishment of schools, which was the subject of the next complaint, depended to a great extent upon the Christians themselves; and there was scarcely a Christian village in Turkey in which there was not a school supported by the people. The education given was as good as that received by Christians who were under the government of Greece. Even in this country it was but recently that we had assisted education by public grants, and it was, perhaps, too much as yet to expect the Turkish Government to make large grants to promote Christian education. Still, they had done so; and he had been in schools which had received liberal support from the Government and from the Sultan him- self. There was, however, no need to discuss those grievances, because they formed no part of the causes of the rebellion in Crete. The Cretans themselves admitted this in their address to the Consuls. The Turkish Government knew it from the outset, as did the Governments of France and England. The only Government which did not, was that of Russia. Baron Brunow, however, ultimately, as was seen in a quotation already made, admitted that the insurrection was mainly caused by foreign intervention, and had for its object annexation to Greece. These alleged grievances were not got up by the Cretans themselves, but by foreign agents, in order to justify the movement in the face of Europe, and, if possible, bring about the interference of a European Power. To get at the real history of the Cretan insurrection it was necessary to go a little further back. He would advise the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) to lay on the table reports sent to the Foreign Office in 1858, when a rebellion was threatened in Crete, upon the ground of the grievances of the population against the Turkish Government. At that time Sir Henry Bulwer sent from Constantinople to Crete a gentleman of the highest integrity and impartiality, and better acquainted with the languages, habits, and customs of the various populations of Turkey than most persons. This gentleman—Mr. Longworth—reported, that although the Turkish Government had not done all that it ought to have done, the alleged grievances had nothing to do with the anticipated revolt; and, so far from the Cretans complaining of the Turks, if there were cause of complaint it was on the part of the Turks against the Christians, who had got so powerful in Crete, and were so much encouraged and petted by the Pasha, that they even presumed upon this favour to carry off Mussulman children and convert them to Christianity. Then, as now, insurrection was fomented by intrigues from Athens, and the "Head Centre" was M. Canaris, the Greek Consul. The English Consul, Mr. Ongley, having sent impartial accounts to Constantinople, was, as usual, attacked and covered with abuse; but the reports of Mr. Longworth, who was sent to inquire into his conduct, satisfied not only the English Ambassador, but the French and Russian Ambassadors; and the result was that the exequatur of the Greek Consul was withdrawn to the satisfaction of all the Powers, the Greek Government never venturing to remonstrate. The intrigue ceased as soon as the cause of it was removed; and for eight years Crete enjoyed peace. The breaking out of the great war last year was considered a fitting opportunity to get up the Eastern question, and Crete was more at hand than Servia. The movement for independence and annexation to Greece was instigated, directed, and supplied with money and volunteers from Athens, without which the Cretans themselves, had they risen of their own accord, would have submitted long ago. He had read with great satisfaction the Correspondence produced by the Foreign Office. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had throughout taken a most wise and statesmanlike course—the only course that could be taken by a responsible Minister. It was all very well in that House to declaim against the Turks, but it was another matter when it came to practical statesmanship. The noble Lord had urged the removal of all just causes of complaint; he had reminded the Porte of its obligations to Europe; he had urged upon the Porte, in suppressing the revolt, to treat prisoners with kindness and humanity, and to endeavour, as much as possible, to prevent the effusion of blood; and, at the same time, he had wisely entered a protest against the course taken by Greece, which sought, not the welfare and happiness of the people of Crete, but the gratification of ambitious designs. His hon. Friend had said that France was pursuing in the East a much more enlightened policy than ours. That might be, but he rejoiced that, in the Cretan question at least, France had gone entirely with us, and the other Powers—including Russia herself—had come round to the same way of thinking. He protested against the proceedings of Greece as unjust, unfair, and wicked, calculated only to raise constant rebellions in the East, and to destroy there every hope of the Christian population developing their resources, increasing their wealth, and placing themselves on a par with their Mahomedan neighbours. As regarded Greece, Turkey had been a good neighbour; she had fulfilled all her engagements to her. There had been times when Turkey might have done Greece the greatest harm, when she might have taken advantage of her internal condition to strike the severest blow, and from the conduct of Greece she would have been justified in doing so. Turkey, in fact, had been most unjustly treated by Greece. From the time of her acknowledgment of Greece he defied any man to say that Turkey had broken one of her engagements to that kingdom. Hon. Gentlemen had talked of the increasing wealth of Greece. But how had it been chiefly obtained? To whom was it owing? To the liberality and neighbourly feeling of Turkey, who had freely opened her coasting trade to Greece, and had placed Greek subjects on the same footing as her own. They had said that the revenues of Greece had increased from £200,000 to £900,000. Well, but if Greece had obtained such an enormous increase of revenue, why had she not paid what she owed to other nations? Had Turkey acted in that way? Had she not paid her debts? [An hon. MEMBER: How?] He cared not how; but she had paid her debts, and at very great sacrifices. So little regard had Greece for her international relations, that we find from the despatches on the table that M. Tricoupi, the Greek Foreign Minister, actually claimed a right to excite insurrection amongst the populations of Turkey, and coolly proposed to desist from doing so in Thessaly and Epirus if the European Powers would connive at his proceedings in Crete. What other nation would tolerate the course which Greece had pursued? Turkey, by the simplest possible means, might have stopped the trade of Greece—she might have turned the Greek merchants out of her ports and cities, but she abstained from doing so. He must say we were in the habit of treating Turkey very unfairly. Before a rebellion broke out we prevented her from interfering. When the rebellion had broken out we condemned her for needless severity in suppressing it. We accused her of not giving liberties and privileges to her Christian subjects, and the moment they were given we connived at their being turned against herself. All he asked was that she should be treated with common justice. He would appeal to his hon. Friend the Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), whether that could be called a liberal and Christian policy which denied the commonest justice to a Turk because he happened to be a Mahomedan in religion, or that maintained that what was right as regarded a Christian was wrong with respect to a Turk. But that was the kind of language that was adopted by hon. Gentlemen in that House when they talked of expelling the Turks and giving the Greeks their rights. The Turks in Europe were very much like what the English were in Ireland, and if there was a difference it was in their favour. In parts of Turkey—such as Roumalia—the Mahomedan owners of the land were for the most part, no doubt, descendants of the original conquerors, amongst whom it had been partitioned, as amongst the English conquerors in Ireland; but in Bosnia, Epirus, and Crete, the land was held by the descendants of the ancient Christian proprietors, who had changed their religion at the time of the conquest—men whose land-rolls and pedigrees went, perhaps, further back than those of any families in this country—they went back beyond the Middle Ages. Well, were they not just as much entitled to their lands as Christian people? But his hon. Friend would say, "Nobody wants to turn them out." [Mr. GREGORY: Hear, hear!] That might be the opinion of the hon. Gentleman; but had he ever spoken to a Christian of Greece, of Servia, or of Bosnia, on the subject? Their opinion was not that the Mahomedans should be allowed to remain in the country, but that every man, woman, and child should be dispossessed of his land and property, as had already been done in Servia, and turned out of Europe. But was it so easy to do that? Did his hon. Friend know what the amount of the Mahomedan population of Turkey was? According to Mr. Longworth, it was not far from 4,000,000; according to German authorities, it was 3,500,000. It would be no easy thing, to say nothing of the question of humanity and justice, to drive such a population as that from house and home, from goods and lands, to starve. This was not merely a political question, it was a religious question, also, and one not merely between the Mahomedans and the Greeks. Such was the religious animosities amongst the populations of the East, that if they gave power to the Greeks to-day, the Greeks would, he ventured to say, expel all the Roman Catholics or compel them to become Greeks. But there was another question. Would the Turks consent to be handed over to the Greeks? Let his hon. Friend think for a moment on the infinite mischief to which such opinions as these propagated by influential people might lead. In the first place, the Turks in Europe were a warlike population, and they knew perfectly well what the intentions of the Christians were. Did his hon. Friend suppose they would give up, without a struggle, their lands, goods, and houses, and allow themselves, their wives and children, to be driven out of Europe as starving outcasts? The only effect of the policy advocated by his hon. Friend, if adopted by any Minister whatever, would be to excite such a rising of Mahomedans in Turkey in Europe, and such a massacre, as the world had never seen. And if the Mahomedans were driven out through the active intervention of foreign Powers, and after a prolonged war—for it could be accomplished by no other means—what would be the consequence? There would be 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 of women and children thrown starving on the world, in addition to a terrible slaughter on both sides, and what man would take upon his shoulders the responsibility for that and all the blood that would be shed? It was all very well for his hon. Friend to disclaim any such intentions. But with the Turks it would be a struggle for life or death, and they would make it so when the time came. There was a second consideration. We, like the Turks, governed races from which we differed in religion, and who were impatient of our rule. We held many millions of Mahomedans in India under our sway, and they might say, "If Mahomedans have no right to govern Christians, Christians have no right to govern Mahomedans." And if they found us backing up the Christians in murdering the Turks, who would guarantee the security of affairs in India? Let his hon. Friend only turn to the history of the rebellion in India, and he would see how much it had been influenced by events in Europe. It was of the utmost importance that this country should keep a just position between Christians and Mahomedans, and not sacrifice the Mahomedans to the Christians, any more than the Christians to the Mahomedans. He wished to see both races fairly treated, and that was the principle for which he had always contended. And if his hon. Friend wished for a proof of the good effect which that policy had exercised in the East, he will find it in a despatch amongst the papers from our Consul in Epirus, who describes the result upon the Mahomedans of that country of the fear that we were about now to abandon it, and to sacrifice Turks to Christians. Suppose the Cretans had obtained what their friends at Athens desired—annexation to Greece—would they have improved their position? The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary had put the case so fairly in a despatch to Mr. Erskine, under date of December 11, that he hoped he might be allowed to quote from it. The noble Lord said— It can scarcely be doubted that if the insurrection had not been countenanced and supported from Greece tranquillity would have been long since restored; and if the King or his Government should urge, in justification of their conduct, that they are seeking to improve the condition of the Christians in Candia by emancipating them from subjection to the Sultan and incorporating them in the kingdom, you will not disguise from them that, looking to the results of the recent incorporation of the Ionian States with the Greek Kingdom, and to the disorders which prevail, and appear to be on the increase, throughout the Greek Provinces, it may well be doubted whether the Candiots would derive any substantial benefit from the transfer of their allegiance. Certainly no impartial person would view the present state of things in the Ionian Islands, and in Greece itself, as affording encouragement or justification for an attempt to bring other countries under the same Government, however faulty may be the system of administration under which such countries may now be held. Any one reading the blue book would rise from it with the conviction that Mr. Erskine had shown a rather unfair bias against the Turks, and had too readily credited the stories of the Greeks to their prejudice; yet even he, writing to Lord Stanley on the 29th of December, said— But the most serious statement I have yet heard for the cause of the insurrection is that a very bad feeling has sprung up between the natives and the Hellenic volunteers. If they fall out thus early in the day, what will it be should the Hellenic Government hereafter be permitted to extend its baneful rule to this unhappy island? His hon. Friend had spoken of the miserable condition of Crete, but that island was not overrun with brigands as Greece was, a person being scarcely able to leave Athens without falling into their hands. Then, with regard to the Ionian Islands, had he read the reports received from our Consuls at Zante, Corfu, and elsewhere? Those reports stated that the improvements and public works which the English Government carried out were all neglected and falling into ruin; that justice is no longer administered; that that distinguished patriot Lombardo, whose cause the hon. Gentleman had advocated, the great regenerator of those islands, the great promoter of their removal from British rule and of their annexation to Greece, was keeping Zante in a state of terrorism such as had never been equalled in any country. He sent bands of armed men, who went about murdering those who refused to vote for him or to support his plans, People were assassinated by them in the open streets and in coffee-houses, nobody, not even the police, daring to interfere. These atrocities had risen to such a pitch, that the Greek Government were obliged to send an honest man thither as chief of the police; but Lombardo soon afterwards became Minister of the Interior, and this officer, who was succeeding in placing some check upon the anarchy and licence which prevailed, was speedily deprived of his office. It was evident, therefore, that Crete would gain nothing by annexation to Greece. It had been suggested that Crete should have what is termed her "autonomy," like Servia and the Danubian Principalities. But Crete, unlike those provinces, had a mixed population, and the difficulty was to provide a form of government which would deal fairly with both Mahomedans and Christians. The Mussulman population was fixed by some at 90,000, and by others at 60,000. He would take a mean between these figures, and would assume that the number was 70,000 or 75,000. Now it would be manifestly as unfair, knowing the antagonism which existed between them, to put these Mahomedans, who were for the most part landed proprietors in the island, and just as much Cretans by race and language as the Greeks themselves, under the Christian rule, as to put the Christians under the Mahomedan rule. In some of the other dependencies of Turkey autonomy was enjoyed, but the population there was not of so mixed a character. In Samos, for instance, which was governed by a Christian and by local councils and laws, the Mahomedans were so few that they could not be taken into account. In Crete, however, the circumstances were different; and it would, he thought, be wise and prudent for the Turkish Government to find some plan, as by the Governors being alternately Christians and Mahomedans, which would satisfy, and protect the rights of, both Mahomedans and Christians. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) would, no doubt, be able to make some suggestion with this object. Before leaving the subject of the annexation of Crete to Greece, he wished to make a remark. With respect to the Ionian Islands, he thought we were right in giving them up, because we occupied an invidious position from which we derived no advantage. We allowed the freest expression of opinion, and that freedom consisted in allowing those who were adverse to English rule to agitate as much as they liked, while there was no demonstration of opinion on the other side. The result was that a great outcry was raised against us by Lombardo and others, who were supposed to represent the popular feeling, and the opinion spread throughout Europe that our rule was odious to the people. He regretted that our connection with the Islands had ceased, not for our own sakes but for the sake of the Christians of the East; for though, no doubt, there were faults on our part, our government was by far the best in the East. In the Ionian Islands there was a large and contented population, who while under our protection were very lightly taxed, and were gradually being trained to habits of self-government, for which, doubtless, the next generation would have been fitted. They enjoyed a national Assembly and a free press, and formed a little Greek community around which other Greek communities might have gathered, and from which they might have learnt the art of self-government. The spectacle of an island so well administered would have afforded them a valuable example, and have stimulated them to establish something on the same model in their own provinces. All hope of this was now destroyed, and he thought this a great loss to the Christians of the East. His hon. Friend had denounced the Turks for the barbarities which were imputed to them, but he utterly disbelieved many of those stories, and anybody reading the Correspondence would see that they had, for the most part, been disproved. Barbarities had, no doubt, been committed, such as required no exaggeration, but they had been practised by the Christians as well as by the Turks, the former perhaps being the more ingenious in their tortures. But he could not help pointing out this great difference, that whilst the Ottoman Government condemned and did their best to punish them, though they could not always reach their officials, the Greek Government, without exception, palliated or justified them. The humane manner in which the Turkish Government treated even Greek emissaries who were captured red-handed, was acknowledged even by the prisoners themselves. One of them, M. Manos, a Greek officer, who was taken in the redoubt at Vrysses, was stated in a despatch by Mr. Erskine, at page 93 of the "Correspondence," to have written to his family to inform them how humanely, and even generously, he was treated by Mustapha Pasha. The testimony of other Greek prisoners was to the same effect; and we find the Turkish Government actually sending their own vessels of war to transport back to Greece the volunteers who had been the principal cause of the insurrection in the Island, and had caused so much Turkish blood to be shed. What course would Christian nations have pursued under similar circumstances? Let us look a little more at home, and consider what had been done by ourselves in the East and in the West under similar circumstances. Even Mr. Erskine, in a despatch, in which on rather dubious authority he imputed great atrocities to the Turks, was obliged to add that similar barbarities were perpetrated by the Christians, No doubt horrible deeds had been committed, but these were inevitable whenever an insurrection was raised, and whenever two barbarous races came into collision. He had himself seen barbarities practised by both sides, and could tell stories which would make his hon. Friend's hair stand on end. A friend of his saw the bodies of fifteen Turks who, having been captured in Epirus, had been covered with pitch and then set on fire and burnt slowly to death. A Greek patriot crossed over from Greece to liberate the suffering Christians in Turkey, and what he did was to carry off a whole school of Christian children near Monastir, boys of eight or ten years old, whose ears he cut off and sent to their parents with an intimation that unless a certain ransom was paid their heads would follow. They were saved chiefly by the intercession of an English officer. Some doubt having been expressed as to the truth of the story, the Consul at Monastir actually enclosed in a letter to the Embassy at Constantinople some of the ears thus sent to the unhappy parents. He himself witnessed the horrors committed by Greek "patriots" who were sent to liberate Thessaly. Their course was marked by robbery, pillage, and violation, and the population were obliged to appeal to Fuad Pasha to protect them from their liberators. He did not cite these facts as any justification of the Turks, but only to show with what barbarous races we had to deal. Both races were equally barbarous, and the only way to put a stop to their barbarities was not to encourage one party against the other, but to bring the public opinion of Europe to bear upon the Governments of both Turkey and Greece. The Christians had the advantage of a press. The moment a Mussulman, whether by accident or design, killed a Christian, there were letters in every newspaper in Europe denouncing the barbarity of the Turks; but we never heard of the atrocities committed by the Christians, except occasionally, when a British officer happened to be an eye-witness of them. Had not the officers of a British man-of-war witnessed the horrible and disgraceful attack of the population of the Piræus on the Greek volunteers who had been brought back to Greece by the humane exertions of the Turks, we should not have had the account of that attack contained in the blue book—we should not have known that some of these unfortunate people had had their brains knocked out with paving stones, and had been held under water until they were drowned, only because they had returned from a hopeless [insurrection. Fortunately, we had a Consul at Syra, or we should never have heard of the murder of an unfortunate Mahomedan who happened to land there from a steamer, and whose only crime was being "a Turk." Yet such things happened almost daily, and it would be found on examination that as many atrocities were committed by Christians as by Mahomedans; while, if the government were reversed, the atrocities that would be resorted to by the former would be infinitely greater than those that had ever been committed by the Turks. This was a bold thing to say, but he stated it because he knew the hatred which was borne by the Christians towards the Mahomedans, and the religious animosities that existed between the Christians of different sects. He did not wish to take the part of the Turks; but he thought it unfair to condemn them merely because of their religion, and he desired to take an impartial view. It was all very well to have these debates which only tended to encourage the Christians to rise against the Turkish Government, but those who suffered were beyond the help of the House. Nor could they hope anything from Greece, No service was done to them by encouraging them to rebel. They were not to be liberated—if they were to be liberated at all—or created into an independent Power, and the Turkish population expelled, without the aid and direct assistance of the European Powers. No doubt, if the European Powers could be got together and brought to an agreement they might expel the Turks, at an enormous cost. Until, however, the European Powers were prepared to intervene—and modern policy did not run greatly in favour of intervention—it was only doing those unhappy Christians an incalculable mischief to encourage them in these hopeless rebellions. He believed there was a future in store for the Christian population of Turkey. They were rapidly improving in wealth and intelligence; and this fact, which had been generally admitted, and indeed urged in their favour in this debate, did not agree with the terrible accounts of Turkish oppression and misrule which were given by his hon. Friend. If the English ladies, to whom his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) had referred, could only relate the idle stories that were told to every traveller in Turkey, they might as well have staid at home. He had heard similar stories over and over again. If life and property were so insecure as they described them to be, was it possible for the Christian population to go on improving in wealth and intelligence? The Turks were now under the influence of the public opinion of Europe. Since he first knew Turkey an incalculable improvement had taken place. Some years ago Christians were not allowed to ride on horses in certain towns in Turkey, and were compelled to wear certain dresses. Those restrictions, and nearly all others which made a distinction between the two creeds, were now done away with, and the two races were beginning to find that it was for the advantage of each that the rights and property of the other should be respected. Events were rapidly bringing the two races together, and the only danger was lest animosities and mutual hatred between them should be kindled by Motions of this kind, and by injudicious or ambitious foreign interference. He felt certain a time would come when some method would be found by these populations themselves for coming to a better understanding. The Turks would see it to be to their advantage to concede to the Christians the rights they ought to possess, and the Christians on their part would find that the Turks also had their just rights. Thus mutual concessions would be made, and a form of government might be ultimately devised in which all sects would be fairly represented, and the rights and privileges of all be respected without great and manifest injustice being done to either Turks or Christians.


said, he agreed with much that had fallen from his hon. Friend opposite; but with regard to the future, he had entirely failed to shadow forth any solution of the question. He believed that under certain conditions and stipulations there were countries under Turkish dominion more fortunate than those under certain other Powers, with higher pretensions to civilization. The course which he recommended last year in the case of the Danubian Principalities had since been carried out, and those countries had been entirely liberated from the intervention of Turkey. The negotiations had resulted in the abandonment of the quasi- rights of the Sultan, and in the acceptance of Prince Charles of Hohenzollern as Hospodar of Wallachia on almost his own terms. The only interest that England had in the matter was that the populations of the East should live harmoniously together, and England was the only European Power which had no interest in the acquisition of any fresh territory. He thought the prudence displayed by the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office (Lord Stanley) was the best quality to be exercised in a case of this kind, though it was different to the adventurous policy which they had formerly been accustomed to at the Foreign Office, and which they at one time used to hold in high estimation. He thought the way in which Moldavia and Wallachia had been dealt with ought to be the manner in which the Turks should deal with Servia. Every one knew that after a long and gallant struggle Servia had gained substantial independence, and that the last remnant of Turkish rule consisted in the possession of the fortresses along the line of the Danube. These fortresses were perfectly useless to the Turkish authorities. They consisted for the most part of dilapidated battlements, which could be commanded from every surrounding hill. The only one which was of any military value was that of Belgrade; but he believed the main reason that induced the Turks to maintain it was one of a sentimental character, because it was said to be one of the old historical fortresses of Turkey. But it had belonged to Austria as well as to Turkey, having in fact been taken and re-taken many times within the last 400 years, till at last by treaty provision it was made a Turkish fortress. The city of Belgrade, the capital of the province, was placed in the position of a mere suburb of the castle, and the palace of the Prince was within three-quarters of a mile from the fortress, and therefore within reach of its guns, which the bombardment of 1862 had so fully demonstrated. The occupation, therefore, of that fortress by the Turks was a standing insult as well as a menace to the Servians, and it was impossible that the city could flourish while it and its inhabitants were liable to be annihilated at any moment that the Turkish employés chose to bombard them. In the interest of the Porto herself it was desirable that she should give up these fortresses, which cost her some £200,000 a year, while the entire tribute she obtained from Servia was only £20,000. At this moment he was afraid that the demands of Servia were on the point of reaching their climax, and that they would no longer remain in their present state of humiliation. There would be an outbreak ere long in that country, if the grievance he was referring to was not redressed—which would be very likely to extend into other districts. He hoped, therefore, the noble Lord would take the example of the proceedings with regard to the Danubian Provinces, and urge on the Porte to follow that example in regard to Servia, by yielding to the strongly-expressed wishes of the population and withdrawing from the fortresses. He recommended these considerations to the noble Lord, and he left the case with great confidence in his hands. He knew the calm and clear reason which operated in his mind; and though, as he had said, these were not the qualities which they had been accustomed to see in the Foreign Office, yet they were not the less valuable on that account.


Sir. I should be very sorry if, with regard to Turkey, we were not to treat her with the respect that is due to an independent Power responsible for the government of an extended territory. At the same time, with reference to many of her provinces, and even her general concerns, circumstances have at various times placed her in such a position that we are entitled, and indeed in many cases bound, to entertain questions affecting her internal relations to her people such as it would be impertinence to entertain in respect to most other foreign countries. With so much of apology, I must say I cannot help being of opinion that there is great good sense and justice in most of what has fallen from the hon. Member in regard to the case of Servia. We cannot expect Turkey to conform her notions to ours. All we can expect is that where she has contracted either legal or moral engagements she should fulfil them, and that where she is under no such engagement she should lend a willing ear to counsels in themselves judicious, and which aim solely at the promotion of her interests. When we reduce the question of the retention of the fortresses of Servia by Turkey to this issue, the sole issue—how far such retention can serve the interests of the Ottoman Government—it appears to me impossible that that question can receive any answer but one in the negative. I am not aware of any purpose of utility, whether for peace at home or for defence against foreign Powers, which Turkey can accomplish by military possession of Servia; while, unquestionably, the monetary burden which it imposes on her adds to the inconvenience of her financial condition, always difficult. At the same time, such possession keeps up a painful feeling of irritation between the people of Servia and those of Turkey, which is a constant source of danger. I cannot, therefore, but subscribe to the opinion of the hon. Member, and hope that at the present or some other time, an opportunity will be taken of tendering some friendly counsel on the subject from this country to the Ottoman Porte. But a great part of the interesting discussion of this evening has been devoted to a point which at this time will enlist more of the sympathy of the House—namely, that connected with the—I do not know whether I should say recent, or still existing disturbances in Crete. I am hardly able to subscribe to the proposition we have beard to-night that the grievances of the island of Candia have had nothing to do with the production of those disturbances. I expressed a hope on a former occasion that when Her Majesty's Government laid the papers on the table, those papers would show that the Ottoman Government had fulfilled its engagements—I do not mean written engagements only, but moral, substantial engagements to Europe about the existence of which there can be no doubt. If there has been a prompt and faithful performance of the stipulations of what is known as the Hatti-Humayoun of 1856, I am not able—after reading those papers—to affirm that they show it. This book does not contain evidence to that effect; but if the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), with his more extended and accurate knowledge, is able in his place to say that Turkey has completely and fully accomplished the engagements she entered into, I would re- ceive that assurance with great satisfaction and willingly bow to the opinion issuing from such a source. For upon that question depends another—namely, whether the responsibility of those disturbances of Crete, and of the barbarity, the cruelty, and devastation which have taken place there, lies at the door of those immediately concerned in the outbreak or of the Government under which they live. I do not think after the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Layard) it can rightly be said that the rights and claims of the Turkish Government are inadequately or inefficiently or even only sufficiently represented in this House. I must say that the case of Turkey against Crete has been stated by my hon. Friend much better than it is stated in the document itself contained in this blue book. But it is fair to admit, and I should not hesitate to admit, that, in addition to any grievance that might have arisen from the non-performance of the Hatti-Humayoun, there has been the deeper grievance resulting from the strong Hellenic feeling which pervades the population. Some at least of the population would be disposed to avail themselves of every opportunity to give effect to that sentiment of nationality. I also agree with what has been stated with great force by my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark, and by my hon. Friend the Member for Gal-way, as to the extreme responsibility incurred by those who in this House deliver statements which, going forth, perhaps, in a garbled form to other countries, may be the means of fomenting disturbances or of prolonging efforts which, whether they be right or whether they be wrong in themselves tend in the actual condition of things to expose to greater dangers those by whom they are undertaken. In such a question as that of the liberation of Greece, the statesmen of England would have made themselves deeply responsible if they had encouraged the people of that country in their struggle for freedom. I would not venture to say one word which would have the effect of encouraging the people of Crete to throw off the Ottoman rule. But as far as regards the stipulations of the Hatti-Humayoun, we are not only entitled from opposition to advise Turkey in her own interests, in her regard to humanity, in her sense of justice, in her desire to be a civilized European Power, to fulfil those engagements; but we are also entitled to say to her that her fulfilment of those stipulations is a matter of moral faith, an obligation to which she is absolutely bound, and the disregard of which will entail upon her disgrace in the eyes of Europe. I am happy to observe that, as far as I can gather from the papers before us, the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office (Lord Stanley) has exhibited much discretion and forbearance in this matter. I agree in the opinion that he rightly determined to observe and to enforce the laws of neutrality, even though at the expense of the calls of mere humanity. The calls of mere humanity it was his duty to repress, and he has repressed them. It was right and wise to say that he would not encourage the separation of Candia from the Ottoman Empire; and it was also right and wise to point out to the Ottoman Porte, as he has done, especially in his despatch of the 17th of January of this present year, that the true policy of the Ottoman Empire, its only policy—the only possible course which it could take in relation to the Powers of Europe, with peace and satisfaction to others as well as to itself—was to do full justice to the principles of the Hatti-Humayoun, and to allow the Christians under their rule to feel that, though nominally under the sway of a Mussulman Power, they enjoyed all the advantages of a Christian Government. I cannot but hope that, within the last year, we have seen a step in advance, in that policy adopted not at the first moment, but after a brief delay—which it is not for us to complain of—in the case of the Danubian Principalities. The literal application of it may be impossible; but I hope that the principle acted upon in that instance may be adopted throughout the European provinces of the Ottoman Porte. My hon. Friend the Member for Southwark has pointed out, and the noble Lord points out, the difficulty in the case of Candia, which arises from the presence of a Mahomedan population, which, though numerically small as compared with the Christian population, is in possession of domination and ascendancy from ancient times, and is in a more powerful position in consequence of the property and rank which belong to its members. I do not, therefore, pretend to say that the same arrangements as those which have been adopted elsewhere are applicable to Crete; but we are entitled to require from Turkey the execution of her literal engagements, and we are entitled to recommend to her such a policy as the noble Lord has put before her in his despatches. I trust that what has been clone by Turkey in the Danubian Principalities may promise for the future the existence of such relations between that country and her provinces as will conduce in the highest degree to the interest of both parties.


Sir, I do not feel it my duty to take part in that animated controversy respecting the comparative merits of the Turkish and the Christian races which has been carried on with so much ability on both sides of the House, and with a knowledge of local details probably unrivalled in this country, by the hon. Member for Southwark. Neither shall I go into the question of the foreign policy on Eastern matters, pursued by England in former times. Every age and every generation has its own policy—one suited to its ideas and its wants. My business is not to question what was done in former times, but simply to explain, and if necessary—I am happy to say from the course of the debate that on this occasion it does not seem to be necessary—to vindicate the course which the present Government have taken. Two questions have been raised—one relating to Crete, the other to Servia. As to Servia the explanation will be brief, but I trust satisfactory. We have, after much deliberation and in concert with other Powers, advised the Porte to make such concessions as appear to us to be necessary to meet the natural and reasonable wishes of the Servians. We hope that those concessions will bring about a good understanding, and we have recommended them with all sincerity in the interest of the Turkish Empire, because it is impossible to doubt that a serious outbreak in Servia at the present time would be one of the greatest misfortunes that could occur to Turkey. We have endeavoured to offer that advice in such a manner as to leave with the Porte itself, to whom it more properly belongs, the initiative of making those concessions which we consider necessary; because it is obvious that they would lose much of their grace and value if they were made, or seemed to be made, at the dictation of any foreign Power. I am not able at present to say more than that the representations which we have thought it our duty to address to the Porte have been made in a spirit of moderation—in a spirit which is fair, friendly, and conciliatory. I hope, therefore, that these representations will not be wholly ineffective. At the same time, no positive answer has been received, and I think the House will agree with me that while correspondence is still being carried on, and while negotiations are pending, it would not conduce to the object which we all have in view if the papers asked for by the hon. Gentleman were laid upon the table. When the matter is settled I will produce them. With regard to the perhaps larger, certainly more urgent, question of Crete, it is even less necessary that I should explain in detail the views of the Government; because those views have been stated very fully upon many occasions in the papers which I presented a few days ago. I have been asked by several speakers what we consider to be the real origin of the insurrection. A more difficult question it is impossible to put or to answer. It is very hard to get at the truth in any of these matters. Impartial witnesses are few, and, as a general rule, statements received from the two sides are not merely divergent and conflicting, but absolutely and flatly contradictory. I do not for a moment doubt that local grievances have to some extent existed, and I do not doubt that the administration of Candia has not been what we should consider a good one in a civilized country accustomed to regular Government. But what is the precise magnitude of the grievances of which the island may have had to complain is a question which I am utterly unable to answer. However, whether local grievances have had any part in causing this insurrection or not—in my opinion they have had some part—I am clear that they have not been the sole causes. There is another explanation which more readily occurs. I think it has been from the first—or at least from the moment when it began to be serious—a movement, not for the redress of any local abuses, but a movement of a religious and a national character in favour of entire separation from the Turkish Government. Nor is it unnatural that a feeling of that kind should have existed. These Hellenes—for, no doubt, the centre of the movement was in Greece, though the disturbances broke out beyond the limits of that country—had observed the great success attending other movements in favour of nationalities. They had seen Italy made a nation, and Germany to a great extent united, and I do not think it unnatural that they should believe that their time had come. The movements they had witnessed in other countries re-acted upon them. Then I have been asked questions as to acts of cruelty and barbarity which are said to have taken place. I am afraid there have been many of these on both sides. I am afraid this will always happen, where you have, in a country—which the hon. Member for Southwark has rightly described as semi-barbarous—wars of religion and of race. In such a country, and in quarrels of that nature, it is impossible that these acts of atrocity should not occur. Of such acts, I fear the blame must be pretty equally allotted to either side; but as to the extent to which they took place, it is not easy to judge. In the first place, one must not trust everything that one hears coming by native report from the interior of Crete. It must be borne in mind that the acts said to have been perpetrated have very seldom been witnessed by any one except the combatants themselves, who are not in a frame of mind to send impartial reports. I ought, in passing, to say that the truth of the most horrible story of all—that of women and children been allured to the shore by a Turkish vessel hoisting the English flag, and then fired upon—has been entirely denied on the part of the Turkish officers, and, for the credit of human nature, I hope it is not true. As to what has happened there, I do not know that it is much worse than what we unhappily know to be true—I mean that attack by the mob of the Piraeus on their own volunteers, in which several lives were lost, and where there was no other provocation than that these unfortunate men had returned home unsuccessful. It is just also to say that whatever acts of cruelty may have been committed by the troops—and where irregular troops and Albanians have been employed these are almost sure to happen—there is not the slightest evidence to show that they have been in any case sanctioned, or even tolerated, by the Turkish Government. The prisoners who have fallen into the hands of the Turkish officers have been, as a rule, humanely and fairly treated. I do not know, after the very indulgent criticism which has been passed in this House on the policy of the Government, whether it is necessary for me to enter into any vindication of that policy. Some remarks have been made as to the decision to which the Government came when they were requested by several persons to send ships of war to take off the refugees. We never came to a decision with more regret. I myself never came to a decision with mote personal pain; but never, also, with a clearer conviction that we were right, and were taking the only rational course which was open to us under the circumstances. It is simply impossible for any one who did not closely watch the insurrection, to understand the eagerness with which the slightest symptom of armed intervention on the part of the Western Powers was looked for by these insurgents, or the readiness with which any act which could be distorted into an act of intervention was caught up by them. I am quite sure that if we had given the assistance which was desired it would have been considered as a symptom of armed interference on the part of the European Powers; would have prolonged the hopeless struggle; and been in consequence the cause of ten times as much suffering as has been actually undergone. There is another point of view in which we were bound to consider this question. There are duties of neutrality, and though no one wishes to overstrain them where considerations of humanity come in, they nevertheless constitute an obligation which it is impossible to disregard. But to send troops in the rear of an insurrection for the purpose of taking away non-combatants or of assisting on the spot the families of those who are at that very time in arms, is giving aid and comfort to one of the belligerents. To my mind it is clear that that would be a breach of neutrality. It is certain that we should not have been allowed to take such a course in the case of a war between two strong European Powers, and I do not think there ought to be two rules, one for strong Powers, and one for weak ones, As regards the general question under discussion, there were only three alternatives which the Government could adopt. One was to carry out the principle of non-intervention in the strictest and most literal sense, by taking no notice at all of the whole matter. That alternative, however, I may at once dismiss from consideration. Another, which has sometimes been urged upon us, was, "Why, if you were giving any advice in the matter, did you not at once advise the cession of the island to Greece, and so put an end to the whole dispute." In answering that, I will not refer to the state of the Greek kingdom. I think that the truth as to the present state of Greece lies somewhere between the rose-coloured view of my hon. Friend behind me and the gloomy picture painted by the hon. Member for Southwark. It is impossible to say that the state of the Greek kingdom is at present satisfactory, but I do not think that alone is a reason which ought to have stood in the way of the annexation, had it been on other grounds expedient. The Greeks are a most intelligent and patriotic race. They have had to struggle against immense difficulties, and have had but a very limited time for exercising their unfettered energies. It is less than a quarter of a century since they became possessed of a Constitution. Under these circumstances, we ought to make every allowance for them, and ought not to bear too hardly upon them for what they may have done or left undone. But the reason which weighed with us against advising the annexation of Crete to the Greek kingdom was, first, the certainty that such advice would not be listened to. The Porte would not have been willing to listen for a moment to a suggestion that it should surrender any part of its dominions except under coercion, which is not the policy of this, or, as far as I know, of any other European country to employ. In the next place, if we gave advice professedly in the interest of Turkey we were bound in justice to look at the matter from a Turkish as well as from a Cretan point of view, and I think the Porte might fairly say that whether or not it would be an advantage to be rid of this one disaffected province, still the precedent would be almost fatal to the Empire; because if it came to be understood that in any province an insurrection were to be followed by a recommendation on the part of a European Power that the province should be ceded, that would be a premium on disaffection, and in process of time the Empire would be dismembered. Then I come to the third course, and pass on to the friendly criticism of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone). The right hon. Gentleman rather hinted than said that we might have pressed our advice a little more strongly on the Porte, and he reminded me of the rights which, by the Treaty of 1856, the Christian subjects of the Porte possessed. I do not deny those treaty obligations. I assent to the doe-trine laid down in respect to them; but we must remember that a demand for a separate administration for Crete was far more than could be claimed by any treaty rights, which relate to the toleration of Christians in matters of religion and their admission to give evidence on equal terms with other persons in courts of justice. So much we should have been entitled to demand for them; anything more could only be the subject of request and advice. In matters of this sort there is a double danger to be avoided. If it be thought that you give advice merely to satisfy your own conscience, and that you do not care about the matter, then your advice will lose much of its effect. If, on the other hand, you pressed your advice strongly, then the Porte might turn round and say that they yielded because they could not help themselves, declaring at the same time that you, and not they, were responsible for the consequences. And then you come to the most hopeless and impossible of all political devices—the attempt to govern a great Empire like Turkey by means of an international commission composed of Ambassadors. I do not think that it was in our power to do more than we have done. We had no right to take a merely Greek or a merely Turkish view of the subject. We were bound to see fair play and to secure the observance of treaty obligations. We only gave such advice as seemed to conduce to the common interest of both parties. It is impossible in the present state of nations to form a plan for remote contingencies. No doubt the Turkish Empire is in a state of transition. The advice which is good now may not be good five or six years hence. But the House may rely on this—we shall watch carefully the changing circumstances of the time; we shall keep them and the public fully informed of these events as they pass; and I hope the House will believe that our sympathy for the Christian races of the East is not less real or sincere because we have not thought fit to give a semblance of encouragement to a hopeless insurrection or to compromise ourselves or them by a precipitate and premature action.

Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred till Monday next.

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