HC Deb 18 June 1875 vol 225 cc181-219

, in rising to call attention to the 9th clause of the Treaty of Paris of 1856, and to the condition of Turkey in so far as it bears on British interest; and to move an Address for— Copies of any Correspondence between the Foreign Office and the Sublime Porte relating to the non-fulfilment of the provisions of the Khathy Humâïoun by the Government of the Sultan between 1856 and the present time; and, of Circular Memorandum of Fuad Pasha, dated July 1867, to the representatives of the Porto at the different Courts of Europe on the progress of the fulfilment of the engagement of the Khathy Humâïoun, said, whatever charge might be brought against Parliament that Session it could not be said it had hitherto wasted much time on questions of foreign policy. There had been but two conversations on such questions in the course of the Session, one of which related to the Carlists; and he was encouraged in opening a third by a remark of the Prime Minister last Session, to the effect that he should not regret if the House occasionally diverted its mind from home questions by considering things which happened outside the boundaries of this country. The question which he wished to bring before the House that evening was one which he believed to be of immense importance not only to the interests of England but of Europe, and, if necessary, he could fortify himself with the authority of a long list of eminent names, from that of Chatham, who would not condescend to argue with a man who differed from him on this point, down to that of Lord Palmerston. Now, however, we were not content to rest upon authorities merely; and before he proceeded to show the state of the Turkish monarchy, he would give one or two reasons why he thought the independence and integrity of Turkey ought to be maintained. The Emperor Nicholas, in his celebrated conversation with Sir Hamilton Seymour, called Egypt our road to India; but he (Mr. Yorke) thought that in a truer sense Turkey might be called our road to India. We had in India 30,000,000 of subjects professing the Mahomedan faith, and for the most part they lived peaceably under our rule, being advised by their learned men that it was lawful and right to live in peace under the British Crown. With the exception of the Wahabees in the North-Western Provinces, it might be said that the Mahomedan population were peaceable, orderly, and quiet; and it was difficult to limit the extent to which this was owing to the long-established friendship between the head of their faith, the Sultan of Turkey, the vicar of the Prophet, and the Sovereign of England. At a recent meeting of Mahomedans at Calcutta, a speaker from European Turkey enjoined obedience to England, and it appeared from Lord Elgin's despatches that Tippoo Sahib, at the time he made war against England, received a letter from Sultan Selim, then Sultan of Turkey, in which that Monarch requested Tippoo to desist from offensive enter prizes against England, inasmuch as she was the ancient and trusted friend of Turkey. His second point was, What would happen supposing there were to be a collapse and a partition of Turkey? Would Egypt and Candia be any compensation to us, even supposing they were given to us, as proposed by the Emperor Nicholas, for what we should lose? Constantinople could not remain a free city; the experiment of free cities had been tried and had failed. Where were the free cities of Cracow, Lubeck, Frankfort, and Hamburg? Each section of the inhabitants of Constantinople would contend for the supremacy. Servia, Roumania, and Greece would wish to extend their frontiers at the expense of Turkey; Russia would succeed in the end, and the consequence would be the further consolidarity between the three military Powers which remained now that the sun of France had been eclipsed. As the partition of Poland produced the Holy Alliance, so these three Powers would come together in any question which affected their pre-eminence. At present they had the power of regulating everything which happened on the Continent, tempered only by the maritime supremacy of England; and, if Constantinople were in the hands of one of these Powers, how long would that power of England remain? With the vast forests and mineral wealth of Turkey in the possession of Russia, with a harbour commanding the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and with all the resources of civilization, how long would it be before our maritime supremacy came to an end? Prom Turkey and Russia we derived raw materials used in our manufactures. The basis of Turkish commerce was Free Trade; that of Russian commerce was Protection. In Turkey there were harbour dues and licence duties, but they were rendered necessary by financial embarrassment, and were not adopted on grounds of policy. If Russia and Turkey were under the same Government, and we had to depend upon them for supplies for our manufactures, and they had a high protective tariff over those manufactures which were sent into the country, the commercial position of England in the East would be seriously compromised. It was Turkey which enabled us to defeat the policy of Napoleon expressed in the Berlin decree. Our ascendancy in India, our maritime supremacy, and our interest in freedom of trade, therefore, constituted three strong reasons why we should defend the independence of Turkey. To pass, however, from material to moral considerations, Constantinople was the point of contact between Mahomedanism and Christianity, and Mahomedanism had more hold over its subjects than perhaps any other religion in the world. At present the best chance of Europeanizing and Christianizing the Turkish Provinces was to use the influence we could exercise through the Sultan; but if, with the Crescent and the Cross facing each other on opposite shores, Turkey passed into the hands of Russia, we should defer indefinitely the moral conquest we might otherwise achieve. His contention was that the integrity and independence of Turkey were seriously compromised by the present state of its finances. If the interest of Turkey was vital to us, so also must be its good government. He was sorry to say that the misgovernment of the country was flagrant, notorious, and even ruinous. The year 1854 was the first year in which Turkey learnt how to charge the future with the extravagance of the present. She had proved a very apt pupil, and between then and now she had borrowed in the European markets £150,000,000 sterling, two-thirds of which were held in England. Between 1854 and 1865 she borrowed in no one year more than £5,000,000, but in this case vires acquirit laudo, and in 1865 she began to increase her loans until last year she had borrowed £40,000,000, issued by the Ottoman Bank. Of course, these loans were issued at increasingly ruinous rates, the last being issued at 5 per cent and the price being 42. The annual interest on the debt was £15,000,000. It might be asked what they had to show for that vast sum of money. They had two railway systems, both enormously great in promises but hitherto very moderate in performances. There were two main railways which were not yet finished; in Asia, there had been many schemes, but nothing was yet completed, except a few score miles of railway. Vast sums had been spent in re-organizing the Army and building new ships, but it was difficult to say how far the men were paid now, or whether they would receive any money at all if war broke out, and it was doubtful if these services were much improved. Palaces and mosques had been built, but chiefly out of the Civil List, and the fact remained that the only reproductive expenditure was represented by a railway. He would give a short account of the financial prospects of the year. The income raised last year was under 21,000,000 lira. Three-fourths of the entire revenue went to pay the interest on the debt; only one quarter, or 5,000,000 lira, was left for administration. The estimated expenditure this year was 29,000,000 lira. The available revenue was 21,000,000 lira, and the nominal deficit 8,000,000 lira. But the Turks added to their estimate 5,000,000 lira, and hoped to reduce the deficit to 2,000,000 lira or 3,000,000 lira by two calculations—1st, by estimating a reduction of 2,000,000 lira last year by Asia Minor famine as temporary, although it was very doubtful if it could be reduced more than 1,000,000, and, second, by estimating three new taxes this year as likely to produce 3,000,000 lira. Those taxes were a stamp tax, a Constantinople property tax, estimated to produce 2,000,000 lira, and a patent tax. This estimate, he believed, was delusive. The taxes would not be paid. If they were, the deficit would be 3,000,000 lira. Taking the unrealized income at 2,250,000 lira—and this was a sanguine calculation—the normal deficit would be 5,000,000 lira at least. It was believed by those who were best informed on the matter that this deficit would amount to 11,000,000 lira. This was arrived at by estimating the expenditure at 29,000,000 lira. The items constituting the deficit were these—Normal deficit, 4,500,000 lira; excess of floating debt over the amount consolidated, 3,250,000 lira; Asia Minor famine relief and purchases of arms, 2,200,000 lira; and public works, 1,300,000 lira, making an approximate total deficit of 11,000,000 lira. For practical purposes the normal deficit was 5,000,000 lira. This had to be annually met by new consolidation loans on increasingly ruinous terms. It was reported by those who ought to know that there would be a deficiency on 20 out of 29 sources of revenue. He ventured to predict that the revenue would produce about 4,000,000 lira less than the estimate; but on the most favourable hypothesis the revenue would be 22,000,000 lira, and the annual charge for debt being 15,000,000 lira there would remain a balance of 7,000,000 lira to defray all Imperial charges, including Army, Navy, a huge Civil List, and the Civil Service of the whole Empire. What was the moral and political significance of this? The services of the country were so starved that only one-half per cent of the revenue could be afforded for educational requirements; only 2 per cent for the administration of justice—Judges, to whom the decision of questions involving large commercial interests was confided receiving a salary less than that of a clerk in the Common Pleas—it meant backshish and necessary corruption. With the permission of the House he would give an extract from the letter of a correspondent who was well acquainted with the state of Turkey, in which the course of justice and the Courts of Law were thus described— Courts of Law, too, markets, not open markets, but dirty back-door shops, closets for fraud, comers for chicane, and dens where professional brokers meet the judicial staff to job causes and rob suitors. We have 2,000 British vessels annually passing in these waters. We have enormous maritime interests at stake, and these are confided to a Court where the corruption of the Judges, their ignorance and greediness, reduce the proceedings to a farce, for which suitors pay and by which commerce is robbed. We have lately been obliged to break off all communication with the Maritime Tribunal at Constantinople on account of its notorious corruption, and to refuse to refer British interests to these sinks of iniquity. Such was the state of justice, the backbone of a nation's well-being, in Turkey. Could it be wondered that capital fled from it? There were great obstacles in the way of commercial and agricultural enterprize. The question suggested itself whether, under these circumstances, the revenue of Turkey could be increased. The country was replete with untapped wealth, for it was covered with virgin forests, and the soil abounded in the richest minerals, which only required capital to be made available; but at present agriculture was the only subject for taxation; therefore, to increase the revenue meant to increase the taxation of agriculture. But land was already burdened to the very margin of profitable cultivation. This burdensome taxation was aggravated by the mode of levying it. The chief tax on the land was the dime or tithe, which was taken in kind, and now stood not at 10 but 12½ per cent. and had been as high as 15 per cent. The cultivator had to convey the amount of the tax to the district depot, sometimes 15 miles away, at his own cost. The effect on agriculturists was exceedingly vexatious, and the general result of the system was simply to involve the whole country in misery and ruin. An illustration of the working of the system was afforded two years ago in the case of the famine caused by the want of rain in different parts. In other parts of the country plenty of rain fell, but there were no proper communications or other means whereby the condition of one district could be alleviated from the supplies which others could have afforded, and the result was that with rich harvests existing at no great distance from the famished districts, 150,000 lives were lost. The fact was that an easy acquiescence in corruption was the prevailing weakness of the Turkish character. The average duration of a Grand Vizier's term of office since the death of Ali Pasha was five months, and under such a system the Ministers thought it was the best way to take care of themselves. The Grand Vizier drew £30,000 a-year; the Finance Minister £15,000, and the Minister of Public Works £ 11,000. Considering the gross amount of money in the Exchequer such salaries could hardly be called moderate. And yet, although the condition of the country was so serious, he thought there were elements which, if rightly used, might bring about a restoration; but there was a previous question to be disposed of, and that was, What right had we to interfere in the internal affairs of Turkey, and if so, how far? He thought we had, because Turkey was a country in which we had a vast interest; moreover, we were vitally bound up with her future. We had also lent her £100,000,000 sterling, and on all these grounds we were entitled to step in before her ruin was complete. With regard to the loan advanced by English creditors, it might be said the argument of caveat emptor applied, that those who went in for a high interest got a bad security, and we ought not to trouble ourselves on the subject. Now, in January, 1848, Lord Palmerston addressed a Memorandum to Her Majesty's Representatives on the Continent, in which he said it was entirely a matter of discretion whether our Government should interfere on behalf of our foreign bondholders, and he declared that our right to interfere as far as International Law was concerned was indisputable. The same doctrine was held by statesmen on both sides of the House on the Motion of Lord George Bentinck in 1847. Surely, then, we had a right to tender advice to Turkey in a friendly spirit when we saw a national collapse threatening her. He would further quote a despatch of Lord Russell's forwarded in 1862. The despatch was a telegram, and the words were—"I insist on instant transmission of the payment of the interest on the loan of 1858." If this was not intervention, what was? He did not commend the style of the communication to the present Foreign Minister, for it was somewhat too tart and concise, even though it assumed a telegraphic form, and had the additional merit of being far less prolix than some the House had heard of. But, further, we had spent £100,000,000 and sacrificed thousands of lives in the Crimean War, and were therefore entitled to see that we had got something in return for them. The real objects of that war were to take away from Russia the pretext for single-handed interference which she claimed to exercise in virtue of the Treaty of Kaynardji, and to introduce into the organization of Turkey, if possible, the humanizing influences of European civilization. Those objects were provided for by the 9th Article of the Treaty of Paris, in which allusion was made to the Khathy-Humâïoun which, though not embodied in the Treaty, was published shortly before and was communicated in the most solemn manner by the Sultan to the Representatives of the great Powers. It amounted to a solemn engagement on the part of the Sultan that certain reforms should be carried out. It was an extension of the Hatt-y-Scheriff of Gulhané, dated 1839, which contained 35 Articles, and promised, among other things, religious equality as between Christians and Mahomedans. Persecution was foreign to the nature of the Turk. He was a fanatic, but not a persecutor; and the cases of injury to Christian subjects which occurred were largely attributable directly or indirectly to the weakness of the central authority and the independence of the Pashas. The second part of the Hatt-y-Scheriff of Gulhané promised a codification of the law, mixed tribunals, the construction of railways, roads, and canals, and the establishment of banks to develop the resources of the country. Instead, however, of these improvements having been actually effected, they had still mock Courts, unpaid Judges, arbitrary procedure, and corrupt decisions. No step had been taken to admit Christians and Mahomedans on equal terms to the Army as had been promised. Multitudes died in Asia Minor for want of a road; and the chief achievement in making railways was the line from Constantinople to Adrianople that had given rise to a scandal of which most of them had heard. When Lord Lyons remonstrated with Fuad Pasha on the non-fulfilment of the Khathy-Humâïoun, the Pasha issued a circular, dated July 1867, in reply, which was sent to all the Great Powers, and in which he described the difficulties with which the Turkish Government had to contend with, and asserted that she had done as much in the way of reform as could fairly have been expected from her in the time she had had for the purpose. Fuad Pasha died next year, and incapacity and corruption again prevailed. All the other Powers were continually meddling in Turkey. They all had Representatives on the spot, who mixed themselves up with petty commercial jobs, more or less, and each of them used its power to further the interests of its own country. The more patriotic Turks invited our interposition, and asked why of all nations England, their ancient friend and ally, interfered so little. He now came to the grounds of hope for Turkey. She had had very bad times. She had an unfortunate war with Russia in 1829; her fleets were destroyed by the maritime Powers at Navarino; the Kingdom of Greece was carved out of her dominions; her Janissaries were destroyed; Albania, her chief recruiting ground, was in revolt; and in Egypt Mehemet Ali threatened her very existence. Under those circumstances there must have been unusual vitality in an Empire that could survive such extraordinary disasters. Turkey had a vast reserve of wealth in mines, timber, and cultivable land. It was estimated that only one-half of her cultivable land was under cultivation, and that its produce was capable under proper management of being multiplied four-fold. It was remarkable how quickly things recovered themselves in districts where there was anything like good administration. Mehemet Redschid Pasha, Midad Pasha, Governor of Vilayet of the Danube, and Ahmed Vefyk Effendi, at Broussa, were distinguished men, who had done much to remedy the evils they found in their respective provinces. These individuals were all alive and well, as were other able and honest men whom the Government would not employ. In Eastern countries, he might remark, society was far more homogeneous than it was in Western countries. In the former there had been no relaxation of the feudal system, and there were none of the numerous industrial and commercial questions which were continually cropping up in the West of Europe. If the Governor were changed it would be found that the whole landscape of the country around him would be altered also. It was this circumstance which made him hopeful of the future of Turkey, if diplomatic remonstrances could be addressed to her in such a manner as to be effectual. But as long as the Sultan's will and caprice were the only laws there would be no reliable improvement. At present the sinister influence of Russia, backed by Austria, was the only one brought to bear on him. The Sultan had possessed unlimited power since the reforms introduced by Mahmoud. There were limits on the power of the Czar of Russia and the Shah of Persia, but the power of the Sultan was practically absolute. The Sultan's power had not, however, been always unlimited. Before Sultan Mahmoud's time, the Janissaries, a kind of Pretorian Guard, themselves checked by the Albanians, often became the armed organs of public opinion, but their turbulence finally made them odious, and when Mahmoud appealed to the people against them they were massacred by a rising en masse. The second limitation to the Sultan's power in former days was the Derebeys, or great provincial Pashas, who were feudal chiefs supported by armed retainers. These Derebeys were as independent as the Percies and Norfolks of our own early history, and the Sultan's writ ran in the provinces only so far as they chose to permit it. But they were destroyed by Sultan Mahmoud and his Grand Vizier, the Louis XIII. and Richelieu of Turkey, who introduced the Tanzimat, or new organization, substituting the Nizzam, a regular force of the Albanians. The people got wearied of the local magnates, and their armed force supported the Sultan as their liberator. However, by not erecting a National Divan as a check on the absolute power of the Sultan, they missed their opportunity and were now "chastised with scorpions." Ali Fuad, a real statesman, who had an instinct for the situation, saw the need of a check on the despotism of their master, and deliberately invoked it in the form of foreign interference, especially of England and of France, as far as France followed England. They were not jealous of the great personal influence of Lord Stratford, but counted it as a support to the reforms which they could not have carried out. This third limitation to the Sultan's power had now disappeared. The events of the Crimean War, coupled with French diplomatic audacity, substituted French for English influence. The influence of France became odious in consequence of its arrogance and its employment, not for the good of Turkey, but to advance petty French commercial interests. Then came the German War of 1870, and the Turks gladly seized the opportunity of throwing off the French influence. Unluckily, England missed her opportunity. Then came Prince Gortchakoff's despatch. The Black Sea Treaty was contemptuously torn up by Russia and thrown in our faces, and as a consequence Russian influence became paramount. The truth was, that diplomatic influence, as understood by Fuad Pasha and exercised by Lord Stratford, had ceased to exist. General Ignatieff was now supreme. His influence, founded on fear, was backed by Austria, and was exercised for evil. The Turks perfectly understood General Ignatieff's policy, which was to weaken them by every means in his power. He supported all the vassals against their Suzerain, picked quarrels through consuls, with local governors, was intimate with the Sultan, whom he supported in his despotic acts, and he might, indeed, be described as the Mephistophiles of Turkey. The German Ambassador, Baron Werther, was General Ignatieff's shadow, it being the policy of Germany to conciliate Russia in order to get her support in the West. Austria again had abandoned independent action, because her crippled condition prevented her from taking any unless she was supported by England. All she did now was to develop her commerce with the vassal States and Roumelia, for which she had to bargain with Russia, who, of course, demanded reciprocal advantages. Her commercial necessities had become Russia's political opportunities. The commercial treaties with Roumania and the diplomatic action of the three Powers in the matter of Baron Hirsch's railways resulted from this solidarity between the three Powers. The only country which counted for nothing at present was England. She certainly kept out of diplomatic intrigues and scandals, but she also had to forego the higher duty of remonstrance and advice on the general good and bad governments of the country which Lord Stratford discharged with such effect. England had abandoned her old programme, and the Turk looked in vain for his accustomed friend at Pera. He would now say something about the personal character of the present Sultan of Turkey. The hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey), who visited Constantinople last year, wrote as follows:— The authorized Civil List of the Sultan is about £1,200,000, and by means of various more or less arbitrary grants it is actually little short of £2,000,000 a-year. All along the shores of the Bosphorus vast palaces and elaborate kiosks occur in succession at a distance of a little more than a mile apart. Some of these buildings are furnished in the most costly style. The daily dinner of the Sultan—he always dines alone—consists of 94 dishes, and 10 other meals are prepared in case it should be his fancy to partake of them. He has 800 horses, 700 wives, attended and guarded by 350 eunuches. For this enormous household 40,000 oxen are yearly slaughtered, and the purveyors are required to furnish daily 200 sheep, 100 lambs or goats, 10 calves, 200 hens, 200 pairs of pullets, 100 pairs of pigeons, and 50 green geese. The people of Constantinople were quite aware of their Monarch's failings, and did not extenuate them in conversation among themselves. In fact, the Government of Turkey might be described as despotism "tempered by defamation of the despot." Scandals were constantly circulated respecting the corruption of the Court, and the Sultan was said to have accumulated vast wealth, among other ways, by occasionally receiving large sums of money from contractors. He now came to the practical part of the question, which was as to how we should conduct diplomatic intervention on the lines of the Khathy Humâïoun. We had recently interfered, when Sir Henry Elliott remonstrated against the removal of a patriotic Minister. England could not afford to let Turkey alone. Our interests were too deeply bound up with hers for us to let her sink without, at any rate, making an effort that we alone could make effectually to save her, and he hoped therefore the British Government would make that effort. Next to England, the Turks valued France most highly, though France had in the course of her history done Turkey some bad turns. If we were to take no steps for that purpose it was not difficult to foresee in what manner the final collapse would come. There was a whole group of minor difficulties, some of which were constantly arising, such as the Montenegrin-Podgoritza affair, the Roumanian Treaty of Commerce, and the Servian question, all of which were ready to be manipulated at any moment by designing persons, and converted into questions of first-rate importance, and in reference to which Turkey might be driven into a corner; then a military demonstration might be made by some Continental Powers, England would remonstrate as uselessly as she did at the time of the war with Denmark, and, war being declared, the beginning of the end would come. He asked Her Majesty's Government whether they would allow this undesirable consummation to come about without making a fair struggle against it? Were he addressing the Government of Lord Russell or that of the late Ministry, he should not have much hope in the matter; but he believed that the Conservative Government held the opinion that England had stood aloof long enough from the councils of Europe. As a possible arbitrator of peace or war between other Powers, we must take a more active part than we had of late in the councils of Europe, and it was therefore with much misgiving, but not without some hope, that he concluded by asking the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs to lay the Papers referred to in his Motion upon the Table of the House, which Papers, he trusted, would show that the question he had brought forward had not been altogether overlooked by our successive Governments, and that hereafter a determined and decided position would be taken up by our diplomatic agents, so as to restore to England some portion, at all events, of her ancient prestige. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Address of which he had given Notice.


said, that after the able and comprehensive speech of the hon. Member, and seeing that so many hon. Members were anxious to speak upon the subject, he should not trespass upon the attention of the House for any great length of time. He begged to second the Motion of the hon. Member in the same spirit in which the subject had been introduced by the hon. Member—a spirit that was in no way hostile to Turkey, and was not induced by any anxiety to show up the shortcomings and deficiencies of that country, but which, on the contrary, had for its object the strengthening and the maintenance of that kingdom. He believed that the object would be best attained by bringing this most important question before the country, and by obtaining from that House an expression of opinion with regard to it. It was impossible to deny that our influence in Turkey had greatly diminished within the last few years. That fact, however, was no reflection upon the merits of the distinguished gentlemen who had filled the post of English Ambassador at Constantinople since the days of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. Since the death of Fuad Pasha and of Ali Pasha, who were both singularly advanced in their notions, Turkey had greatly deteriorated, and with that deterioration our influence had equally deteriorated. The hon. Member, therefore, had done well in calling the attention of the House and of the country to the false position in which we might before long be placed with reference not only to that country, but with regard also to Russia. The hon. Gentleman had alluded to a letter which had been written in 1869 by Fuad Pasha, shortly before his death, to the Sultan. That letter was as follows— When this writing shall he placed under your Majesty's eyes I shall no longer be of this world. On this occasion, therefore, you may listen to me without mistrust; the voice from the tomb is always sincere.…. God has in trusted you with a mission as glorious as it is full of perils. In order to accomplish it worthily your Majesty must endeavour fully to realise one great and painful truth—the Empire of the Osmanli is in danger.…. Among our foreign allies you will find England always in the first rank. Her policy and her friendship are as firm as her institutions. She has rendered us immense services, and it would be impossible to calculate those she may render us in the future. Whatever happens, the English people, the most steadfast and the most wonderful in the world, will be the first and best of our allies. I would rather lose several Provinces than see the Sublime Porte abandoned by England. … I come at last to Russia—that inveterate enemy of our nation. The extension of that power towards the East is a fatal law of the Muscovite destiny. If I had been myself a Russian Minister I would have overturned the world to conquer Constantinople. When it was remembered that that letter was written in 1869, and what the condition of Turkey was now, it was marvellous to see how great her deterioration had been in that short period. What was the present financial position of that country? Her revenue was £18,000,000 per annum, while the interest upon her debt amounted to £15,000,000, and the expenses of the Sultan's establishment were £2,000,000, which left only £1,000,000 for the support of her Army, her Navy, and her Civil Service. The result was that loans were heaped upon loans, and the interest upon the old debt was paid out of fresh loans. That was certainly not a sound state of things. Contrasted with Turkey, how did Egypt stand? Why, under two of the most enlightened men of the day, the present Viceroy and Nubar Pasha, that country had within 10 years doubled her revenue, and, although £52,000,000 had been raised by loans, every penny of the money had been expended on roads, railroads, the Suez Canal, and other public improvements. The reason of this difference between the two countries was that Egypt was not governed as Turkey was, by foreign influence. It was Russia who introduced the Note, in which Lord Stanley so wisely refused to join, ceding Crete to Greece. For different reasons from those by which Russia was animated, he approved that step only because it tended to strengthen the Christian element, while the artichoke policy of Russia was to weaken Turkey bit by bit until nothing was left of her but the heart of the artichoke, which Russia could then readily swallow. With regard to the existing relations of Russia with Turkey, the policy of Russia was to establish ports for her own advantage, and which she could herself control. He did not advocate any undue interference in the matter; but, at any rate, the opinion of England ought to be expressed so that the whole world might know what was going on. It was said that under the obligations of the Treaty we could not interfere; but Lord Stratford de Redcliffe had printed a letter upon the subject, in which he entirely denied that interpretation, and said that this country was not precluded from interfering in favour of the Treaty of Paris being carried out. The state of Turkey at the present time had been alluded to. What that state of things was would be found in the official Reports of our Consuls, which it would be well for the House to study. Mr. Consul Palgrave said— Capital has vanished from the land. Every undertaking, commercial, industrial, or agricultural, is smitten with failure. The social condition is deteriorating in every respect, the number of the inhabitants diminishing, and the symptoms precursive of a general bankruptcy, not of means and finances only, but of vitality and of men, becoming more menacing year by year, almost day by day. The Levant Herald said— There is no capital in the country, consequently no enterprise, no spread of ideas, no real national vitality. … Continue the present system, and it is impossible to predict how soon there may be a general and hopeless collapse. And, again, Mr. Locock, Attaché to the British Embassy at Constantinople, in a recent Report, said— There are many and serious evils affecting not only British merchants, but, one way or another, all British residents in this country. Sir Bartle Frere, on the other hand, speaking of Egypt, said— There is one Eastern Power to which the eyes of all friends of Africa turn with hopefulness. Egypt has been the great centre of African civilization. Under the present dynasty, of the enormous increase of the aggregate wealth of the country there can be no doubt. If Egypt had made such progress, why should not Turkey also materially advance? He could only say that they had already made great sacrifices, both of money and blood, in her behalf; and, in his opinion, by those sacrifices of the past, in the interests of the present, and for the hopes of the future we ought to endeavour to do something to remedy the existing state of things in Turkey.

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 the Sublime Porte relating to the non-fulfilment of the provisions of the Khathy Humaiöun by the Government of the Sultan between 1856 and the present time; and, of Circular Memorandum of Fuad Pasha, dated July 1867, to the representatives of the Porte at the different Courts of Europe on the progress of the fulfilment of the engagement of the Khathy Humaiöun,"—(Mr. Reginald Yorke,)

—instead thereof.

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


said, that young and inexperienced as he was, he should probably not have troubled the House upon the subject, for the old Eastern saying—"Speech is silvern, but silence is golden," had always been his favourite motto; but having recently returned from Constantinople, to which capital he had proceeded upon a mission deeply interesting to all Christians at home, having reference to a subject of religious difficulty, he might be permitted to say a few words upon it. The mission had for its object the presentation to His Majesty the Sultan of a memorial numerously and most influentially signed by Members of that and the other House of Parliament, among the latter Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, by the Archbishops and many of the Bishops, and by the Lord Mayors and Mayors of most of our cities and towns. The memorial was intended to call the attention of His Majesty to cases of religious persecution which had occurred in direct violation of the Hatti-Scheriff issued in 1856, and there was nothing in the memorial which could offend the susceptibilities of the most sensitive Moslems. It set forth the case of certain Ansairyeh subjects of His Majesty, whose religion, previous to their conversion to Christianity, was somewhat of a homogeneous character, as it contained the Sabeanism of the Chaldeans, the Fire worship of the Persians, and the old Baal worship of the Canaanites, and who had acted as teachers in Christian schools. No fault could be found with them as subjects of the Ottoman Empire, and yet after the death of Fuad Pasha and Ali Pasha they were subjected to persecution and even to banishment, the latter on the plea—a plea which he found to be without foundation—of protecting them from the fanaticism of the people. Cases of persecution inflicted upon Christians were also set forth, and it was hoped that the wrongs of those unhappy people would be redressed. The members of the mission were, however, informed that they could not be received by His Majesty, because they had not any known official character, and that it was not customary to receive a non-official deputation. That, however, was not a well-founded plea, as Sir Moses Montefiore on one occasion had an interview with the Sultan upon a question of Jewish persecution. There was only one course left for the deputation to pursue, and that was one which would have been derogatory to a mission which contained Members of both Houses of Parliament among its number. They might have presented their memorial, but they must have done so like the Mahomedans. They must have stood in the streets as the Sultan went to the mosque, and by that means alone could they have got their memorial into His Majesty's hands. The greatest interest was shown by Christians of all denominations in the success of the mission, and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Constantinople bitterly complained of the persecutions which some of his flock had suffered at the hands of the Mahomedan authorities. He did not complain so much of the Mahomedan population as of the Mahomedan authorities, because in the days of Fuad Pasha there were none of these persecutions. The deputation finally came to the conclusion that they had better leave the address with Her Majesty's Ambassador and return home. Having served in His Majesty's Navy in the East in 1851, and during the Crimean War, he knew something of Turkey, and when he visited Constantinople last February, he became sadly aware how great had been the change since the time when this country was represented by Sir Stratford Canning, now Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. The Turks had a saying that if a Turk became a Christian it was desirable to cut off his head at once, because if once "the great Eltchi," as Sir Stratford was called, came to know it, he would not allow it to be done. He did not blame this or that Minister, and it was difficult to state how it had happened, but the influence of England was at present at its lowest ebb in Turkey. He was asked by people of all classes "What is England doing?" and he was assured that if she went on in her present course her legitimate influence with Turkey would soon become a name and a recollection of the past. After the great sacrifices she had made to maintain the Turkish Empire, she ought to insist upon the Christians being exempted from persecutions, and receiving the protection they were justly entitled to.


said, that for many years past he had felt that our relations with the Ottoman Empire were exceedingly unsatisfactory, and without going back to the Crimean War or tracing the policy or the projects of Russia, he thought that the present social and political position of Turkey ought to be better known to the British public. His acquaintance with that country began in earlier life, and, as he had just returned from a six months' visit to the Levant, perhaps the House would allow him to describe in simple language what he saw and heard. He was not an advocate of any particular policy in the East, but the deplorable condition of things in Turkey was so profoundly impressed upon his mind that, although he had not taken part in a foreign debate in that House for many years, he felt it his duty to say a few words on the present occasion. When he had formerly been in the East—and he had been there several times—there had always been among the foreign residents, and especially among the British, a very strong "Turkish party," who believed in the resurrection of Turkey, who thought that new life had been infused into it, and that the signs of decadence had passed away. He was bound to tell the House that he met on this occasion with no such party at all. On the contrary, every man he met, native or foreign—British, French, German, or American—mercantile men, officials of the respective foreign Governments, and missionaries, were all agreed that things had come to such a pass that a break-up was inevitable. The subject was uppermost in men's thoughts, and they were all told that the misgovernment, oppression, venality, and corruption of the oppressed Turkish Empire were so great as to fill men's minds with apprehension and alarm. But more than that, he had met with men in high office—Pashas of high rank and others—who, not only in private, but in public conveyances, spoke in the most open manner, and without hesitation of the approaching break up of the Turkish Empire. There were still many people who believed in the stability of Ottoman rule, and, he was sorry to say, there were other people who had invested their money in Turkish bonds. Now, there were some things which these persons ought to know. He had inquired whether it was true that no Turkish Minister of State either past or present had ever invested his money in Turkish bonds. It was commonly reported that these dignitaries were just as well aware as other people of the impending catastrophe, and that at this moment they were engaged in the very pleasant process of feathering their own nests. He had heard of Pashas presiding over large districts who could not speak a word of Arabic. They could only speak Turkish, and they were unapproachable by the people, except by means of largo bribes. It was notorious that Pashas who governed districts for only a year or two, and some even only for a few months, returned to Constantinople very rich men. It would be well therefore if those who invested their money in Turkish bonds on the faith of promises that the money would be spent in developing the resources of Turkey would just inquire a little into the manner in which those promises had been fulfilled. The hon. Member for East Gloucestershire (Mr. Yorke) had given the House much valuable information on the subject; but one of the principal statements made by the promoters of these loans was that Turkey required the money for roads. Well, how much of these loans had been spent on roads? He doubted whether Turkey had a single road except that between Beyrout and Damascus, and that had been made and sustained by the French Government. Nothing whatever had been done, as they had been led to expect would be, to facilitate commerce. The Civil List was not only extravagant, but there was no check upon it whatever; and all the money collected out of the pockets of the people of this country on the plea of developing the resources of Turkey had been spent in useless palaces, upon useless officials, in adding to harems and building that fleet of iron-clads which were of no use whatever in propping up a tottering and decaying Empire. During the late famine in Asia Minor thousands of people had perished, not because there was no food, but because there were no roads to transport the provisions sent by benevolent people in Europe to the starving population of Asia Minor. It was even asserted that a quantity of that food had been actually sold by the local Turkish Governments. Remarking upon an excellent pamphlet which had been published on the condition of things in Turkey, The Times used the following language:— We find here clearly indicated the reasons for the perfect paralysis and helplessness of the country—namely, an ill-informed Government, an untrustworthy executive, a peasantry without capital or credit, overtaxed and subject to extortion alike of the local authorities and the usurers—the want of a middle-class and the destruction of manufacture by the suicidal policy of the Porte, and their arbitrary treatment of trade. Add to this the want of roads and the utter inability of the peasant to make his cries heard either for justice or pity, and we need seek no further for explanation of the dire misery which is covering Asia Minor as with a dark garment. The whole evidence of this transaction, we regret to say, leads to the conclusion that neither justice, nor generosity, nor humanity regulates the conduct of the ordinary Turkish official. All this, in this opinion, pointed directly to national bankruptcy; and he could not understand how any one could rise from a perusal of the correspondence with regard to the Turkish Loans of 1858 and 1862 without coming to the conclusion that such a catastrophe could not long be avoided. It was not, however, the business of the Foreign Office to interfere in these matters; the remedy was not complaining to the Foreign Office, but withholding more money. Quotations had been made from Earl Russell and Lord Palmerston involving a policy which he hoped had been abandoned by this country, and he would supplement these quotations by one from a despatch written by the present Lord Hammond on the 26th of April, 1871. He said— Her Majesty's Government are in no way party to private loan transactions with foreign States. Contracts of this nature rests only between the Power borrowing and the capitalists who enter into them as speculative enterprises, and who are content to undertake extraordinary risks in the hope of large contingent profits. Further, it is scarcely necessary to point out the endless troubles which certainly would arise if the active intervention of England were exerted to redress the grievances of bondholders Independently of the expense which would necessarily be incurred, and the risk of international complications, forcible measures, if adopted towards small States, which for the most part are the ones complained of, would subject this country to grievous imputaions. For such and other obvious reasons, Her Majesty's Government have determined, as a matter of wise policy, to abstain from taking up, as international questions, the complaints of British subjects against Foreign States which fail to make good their engagements in regard to such pecuniary transactions, or to interpose, except by good offices, between bondholders and the States by which they may be wronged. He hoped that extract, which met with his (Mr. Baxter's) entire approval, and which he should be glad to see sent to every holder of foreign bonds, would be endorsed on the part of the Government. Everything he saw and heard in the Turkish Empire left a melancholy impression upon his mind, on account of the universal deadness that prevailed; land was going out of cultivation; taxes were oppressive, ridiculous in amount, and made more galling by the violence with which they were collected; the population was falling off in once fertile districts; crimes of violence were increasing, and murders were committed in the large towns, and were passed over not only without the discovery of the perpetrators, but without investigation. It was only the other day we read in the newspapers of an attempt to murder in the streets of Damascus our able Representative Mr. Green, whose merits, he hoped, would be recognized by promotion, and although the ruffian was well known, no action was taken until strong representations had been made in the matter by all the Consuls, in the course of a deputation to the Governor. That was but a sample of what was going on all over the Empire. In Syria he spent two months, and he did not meet a man who did not voluntarily express an earnest hope for a change of Government. All deprecated and deplored in the strongest manner the action of Great Britain in 1840 in driving out Ibrahim Pasha, and so detested was the Turkish Government in Syria, that the people would be glad to be annexed, in preference, to Egypt or any other Power; and the Syrians in Turkey were looking for a Confederation on the Danube or anywhere else or anything which could save them from the oppression and corruption that prevailed in Turkey. He should be glad if Great Britain could do anything, but he could not see that energetic diplomatic action would make things better, and yet nothing could be worse than their present condition. As to the oppression of Christians, the universal testimony of every one he met was that the old spirit of Mussulman fanaticism had risen once more, and had risen just in proportion as the Mussulmans felt they were about to lose, and to lose for ever, their dominion in Europe. Many persons said to him that they expected before long to see a renewal of such massacres as disgraced Damascus; and every person he met expressed a fervent and ardent hope that whatever complications arose, whatever steps were taken, nothing would be done by Great Britain to prop up a Power which had been guilty of such dereliction of duty.


said, the Khathy Humâïoun of 1856 partook of a European character; it was formally communicated to the Powers and solemnly recorded in a Treaty, and it was designed, according to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, to secure liberty of conscience, security of personal property, and the development of the resources of Turkey. It was all that remained to us of what was achieved by the Crimean War; and we wore, therefore, justified in discussing the provisions and the success of a law which cost us so much blood and treasure. He thought, however, as far as the interests of this country were concerned, looking at the matter in a selfish point of view, what she had to consider most was the safely of her own possessions in India, especially the Euphrates Valley. Of the 14 races in Turkey, nine were Christian, and no one of those would like to see the other dominant. In 1854, Lord Palmerston, who had been considered the first authority on this subject, endorsing an opinion confidently expressed by Mr. Palgrave, said that, however much they might wish that those vast and fertile regions should be ruled over by a Christian Government, the Mahomedan race was the only one that could keep the country together. It had always been the misfortune of Turkey that she undertook more than she was able to perform, and now that councils had been established to assist, the Pachas endeavoured to shift their responsibility upon the councils. Fuad Pacha, however, in 1867, talked of various reforms which had been effected, and to these might be added a law as to colonies, and the right of foreigners to hold land: and altogether the catalogue of improvements attempted by Turkey had not been a small one. In the first place her Army and Navy had been much improved; and although this might have impoverished the country, yet it must be borne in mind that by the Treaty of Paris, Turkey had been to a great extent thrown upon her own resources to support herself against her great enemy Russia. The revenue had increased from £9,712,000 in 1860 to £19,500,000 in 1873, and if a proper administration were established in the provinces and the finances put into good order, and if honesty were enforced in the Central Bureau at Constantinople a revenue of £27,000,000 might be very easily raised. Trade, too, had of late greatly increased in Turkey. In 1859 the imports were valued at £2,813,000. In 1873 they rose to £6,068,000. The exports in 1869 were£4,680,000, and in 1873 £8,120,000. On the other hand, there was something very sad in the state of the accounts, for she was ground down by a taxation of from 30 to 40 per cent. She suffered from a deficiency of good roads, from a bad administration, and from the famine in Asia Minor. An hon. Gentleman had moreover stated she had to endure an increasing load of debt. That, no doubt, was so, but still Turkey had never done what Italy or Austria had done. She had never imposed an income tax upon the interest of her foreign loans. She had never repudiated her liabilities, but had on the contrary made every honest effort to meet her liabilities. In 1862 this country sent out financial agents to Turkey to instruct her how to borrow, and when the Government sent out an agent like Captain Tyler to teach her how to spend the money she had raised, they had to listen to complaints on both sides of the House. We had, he thought, taught her a bad system of finance, for such he considered a system of loans founded upon the hypothecation of particular revenues. All such loans ought to be raised on the faith of the country itself. What was to be the remedy? Isolated laws would not cure the evils which existed, so long as there was no one to administer them properly. What was wanted was good local government, irrigation, and commercial enterprize, assisted by foreign capital, looking only for ordinary mercantile return, and not for Government guarantees. What was really required was the reform of that centralization at Constantinople from which eminated the whole of the administration of the country. Turkey had no public opinion like Russia, and Constantinople had no press like Moscow. Therefore, it was impossible to permeate the provinces with opinions from the capital, whilst, at the same time, the provinces could not influence the capital. No one could report against the local officials but the Consuls, and they acted principally from the interests of their own countries or from some personal jealousy. He happened for some time to see a great deal of Fuad Pacha, and he said that one of the great evils of Constantinople arose from the wives of the great functionaries being immured in the harems, so that there was no society there. Another of the great evils in connection with affairs in Turkey was the wretched constitution of the Consular tribunals, and although he did not wish to reflect in any way upon the memory of that noble Lord, he thought that that constitution inaugurated by Lord Clarendon and adopted by the Governments of other nations, had done a great deal of harm to Turkey and to the countries which traded with Turkey. The capitulations of 1675 laid it down that if any dispute happened to arise among English subjects, the decision thereof should be left to their Ambassador or Consul without the Judge or other Governor interfering. But that was intended to apply only to a small number of the English themselves living at Constantinople, and the erection of a tribunal with such powers as were now claimed was never contemplated. He recollected one day walking down the Grande Rue at Pera, when he was attacked by an English sailor. Nobody would interfere, and he had to take such measures as he thought proper in his own defence. At Galata, again, there were gambling houses under Dutch protection, for there were no fewer than 16 protections, jurisdictions, and systems of police at Constantinople, and these had to do only with their own co-nationalists. When it was found that these houses were under Dutch protection, the Dutch Consul was applied to; but the owners said that they had made them over to the Portuguese, and the Portuguese in their turn had a similar story to tell, and so these gambling houses could not be got at. We ought to make some allowance for the difficulties of a country which had 14 races, 19 religious sects, and 16 or 17 jurisdictions. The refusal of the Sultan to receive the English Mission was a token of our diminished influence. That Mission had been invited by one Turkish Minister to go out; but by the time they arrived, another Minister was in power, who refused to allow them to see the Sultan. For some years we had looked upon our Ambassadors as merely the needles of a telegraph to be worked by somebody in London, and therefore they had lost their influence. In 1864 one of the Resolutions of the House of Commons affirmed to a great extent the principle of non-intervention. From that time our Ambassadors had been regarded as mere agents, and forbidden to exercise any personal influence but it was personal influence which was important. Let hon. Gentlemen only call to mind the influence which M. Van de Weyer possessed when he was Belgian Minister in London; and Baron Solvyms, who was now here, when at Constantinople exercised an influence superior to that of the British Ambassador. But the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office had recently assumed in European politics an attitude worthy of the country, and he (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) trusted the noble Lord might pursue the same policy at Constantinople, enter upon a salutary course of advice and assistance, and restore to us the name we once held on the Bosphorus of being the true, faithful, and impartial friend of Turkey, and of all her various nationalities.


said, the question of religious persecution in Turkey was much more germane to the subject brought before the House that evening than might at first sight appear. Among the few things to be gleaned from the debate, one was the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), that the growth of fanaticism in the Ottoman Empire was one of the most remarkable features of the day, as evincing its weakness. He (Mr. Ashley) quite coincided with that view, and he maintained that if Her Majesty's Government failed in pressing on Constantinople the evils of religious persecution, they would not only fail in the traditional policy of the country, but do a great disservice to Turkey herself. The House had heard that the abuses that prevailed everywhere in Turkey were due to the weakness of the central powers and the want of control over distant Pachas. He believed that to be the fact. If that was allowed to be pleaded as an excuse for acts of fanaticism, it would also be used to meet any pressure put upon the central authority for the promotion of the other reforms promised in the Khathy Humâïoun. With reference to the question whether we were prevented by an Article in the Treaty of Paris from interfering in these matters, he would quote an authority which would be conclusive. In the debate in that House on the Peace of 1856, Lord Palmerston said— It is said that that which the Sultan gives to-day he may revoke to-morrow, and that the treaty does not give to the Allied Powers that right of interference which some hon. Members think necessary for the security of the Christian subjects of the Sultan. …. The Sultan, however, was perfectly willing to give to the Allies that sort of moral right which I think ought to be considered a sufficient security for the maintenance of the arrangements which were made, and which in themselves were satisfactory. …. For some time to come cases will arise in which the firman will not be fully executed by the authorities of the Porte in distant provinces and in places not immediately under the view of the consuls; and if that should occur, the fact of the firman having been adverted to in the treaty and the issuing of it having been recorded in the treaty, would give to the Allied Powers that moral right of diplomatic interference and of remonstrance with the Sultan, which I am perfectly convinced would be sufficient to accomplish the desired purpose. …. But at the same time the transactions which have taken place at Paris and the stipulations contained in this treaty will give to all the Powers the right of watching whether the firman is carried into effect, and of remonstrance in case of violation of it; and I am convinced that this right will, in course of time, cause the firman not only to be looked upon as law, but to he carried into practice throughout the Turkish Empire."—[3 Hansard, cxlii. 124–5–6.] There could be no doubt, then, that the Treaty gave us the right of exercising such a moral pressure on the Turkish Government as would be sufficient for the purpose, and yet the Foreign Secretary declined to interfere for the presentation of the memorial of the deputation at Constantinople. He hoped the Government for the future would not fail to give effect to the policy indicated by Lord Palmerston in the extract he had read.


said, that, carefully as he had listened to the debate, he had not heard anyone state what the British interests in Turkey were. He thought it was essential that some attempt should be made to define those interests. For himself, he fancied that our interests were confined to this point—that Turkey should show that she preserved within herself those elements of stability which would enable her to maintain its national independence. He felt bound regretfully to say that the condemnatory terms in which Turkish rule had been spoken of to-night were mainly borne out by fact. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose had told them what he had seen in his late visit, and his (Mr. Cartwright's) own recollections, though his experience was not so recent, confirmed all he had said to a melancholy degree. It could not be said that an Empire that witnessed the brawl which took place at Montenego could be in any other than a precarious condition. That opinion was borne out by the testimony of men most experienced as to the condition of Turkey—men who were living in that country long enough to be unmoved by the expression of any sentimental grievance, and whose position entitled their testimony to credit. Three Consuls had reported on the condition of the people in the regions which they respectively represented. The Consul of Beyrout, an experienced officer, said the peasantry were oppressed alike by the wealthy of their own people and the officials of the Government. The poverty of the peasant rendered it impossible to seek protection from the proper tribunals owing to the great distance which he would have to travel for that purpose. One great evil was the want of Government assistance to the encouragement of agriculture. The Consul at Bosnia said the too frequent changes of the Government was a great evil, owing to the placing of persons in power who were ignorant of provincial affairs. The Consul at Damascus deplored the low state of agriculture, and the decrease of the population. A great deal had been said of the equilibrium and balance of power, but Turkey should be able to afford evidence of its efficiency to maintain itself as a Power worthy of consideration, and it was, he urged our interest to assist the development of the material resources of that country. Those regions were important in connection with that object; and it was most desirable that they should be under a Government which could give guarantees that it was able to maintain itself against those who might challenge it. He was bound to say he had some misgivings that the policy of this country lately had not been that of holding out a ready hand of assistance to organic elements whenever they had shown themselves, which might, in the event of a catastrophe occuring there, afford a useful substitute for the Government which now existed. He was alluding to the efforts which had been made of late by the Danubian Principalities to negotiate Treaties of Commerce. It might be said that that was a dangerous precedent, and that the Turkish Government might to some extent put a veto on those negotiations. But if any counsel had been given, as he believed it had, by our Government on that matter, he was afraid that they had rather come athwart, and had retarded the development of that which might have proved an element of strength at a future day. Imperfect as those countries had shown themselves in many respects, he thought it would be acknowledged by all who were acquainted with them that they possessed greater activity and vital force than were at present manifested in the Turkish Provinces. Would it not, then, be a wise policy on our part in every way to stretch out a hand of fellowship to those elements when they showed, not any political ambition, but a desire for material progress? There was great evidence of want of vital energy and mismanagement in the Turkish Provinces, and although they were told that the Turkish Government had never repudiated the payment of the interest on its debt; yet he wished to know how much of that interest had been paid out of loans contracted for the purpose of paying it. He admitted that no prudent politician would like to attempt to disturb the Turkish Empire—at all events, at the present moment. A chance circumstance such as occurred a few months ago on the Montenegrin frontier might, however, bring about an explosion which every politician would deplore. He did not wish to say anything harsh of Turkey, but still he hoped the criticisms made in the course of this discussion would, though unpalatable at first, prove beneficial in the end.


said, he had much knowledge of Turkish affairs, and regretted that observations had been made indicative of a desire on our part to interfere in their domestic affairs. He would, therefore, like to ask one question—namely, whether that House meant that they should undertake the government of Turkey? He had listened with some regret to some of the remarks made by his hon. Friend the Member for East Gloucestershire (Mr. Yorke) about the Sovereign and Ministers of an independent Power. In particular, he was sorry the statements about the Sultan's habits and mode of life had been quoted in the House of Commons. He also regretted that the hon. Member had spoken of one able administrator of the Empire in a way as if the hon. Member wished him to return to power; because it was undesirable that opinions favourable to any particular Minister resuming power in a foreign country should be given in that House. Some of the Turkish Ministers since Fuad Pasha and Ali Pasha did not deserve the language which had been applied to them, for they were men of since patriotism and undoubted ability. He had had great experience of Turkey, and was aware that there was much misgovernment in the country; but it must be borne in mind that it was most difficult to obtain accurate information on the subject. There was properly no independent Press, and no public opinion, while the ruling classes were from their nature singularly reticent. There was no middle class in Turkey, and the merely official superintendence of executive officers had seldom been able to keep them in order, unless those who were under them had the opportunity of expressing their opinions and making the Government feel how they were treated. Consequently, we were usually left to gather what occurred in the country from the stories of people who might be very ill-informed respecting the real condition of affairs. Under the system of capitulations those who should form the middle class were taken out of all responsibility, and placed under the jurisdiction of those Consular Courts, which were established in so many towns of the Turkish Empire. In many places there were Consuls of 16 different nationalities. The Consuls had dragomen, some of whom were scoundrels; and these people who occupied a kind of official position were able at any time to bring about the fall of any Governor who happened to displease them. He thought a great many of the administrative difficulties arose from the position in which foreigners were placed, a position without example in any European State. The want of progress of Turkey in reform was a great deal owing to the absence of that influence formerly exercised by the English Government. Events in Europe had changed the relative power of nations, and if the British Ambassador was active, the Russian and German Ambassadors would be active. As to the Christian population, he believed they had not been treated with any settled persecution by the Mahomedans; there might be in some remote parts persecution and violence, but even in the British Islands sometimes they had cases not altogether dissimilar. The Protestant sects generally had met with the sympathy and indulgence of the Turkish Government, because they were not animated with that antinational feeling which belonged to some other creeds. They must not forget the position of the Christian population in Turkey. In Europe they had seen the effect of large Christian communities being under the influence of foreign Powers. They had seen what had happened in the case of the Roman Catholics of Germany and Poland, and in Turkey it was not wonderful if there was a little hostility. Besides, there was quite as much hostility between the different Christian sects as between the Mahomedans and the Christians, and those who had been at Jerusalem at the Great Festival, and seen how the Christians were only kept from flying at each other's throats, would admit there was a great deal of fanaticism that did not belong to Mahomedanism. The great difficulty which had to be met in Turkey was weak administration, and whatever might be said of its finances, it had as yet always paid its dividends. If the English Government should adopt any policy with regard to Turkey, it should be a policy not of men, but of principles, and its object should be not to interfere with the Turkish Government, but to prevent others from interfering. He regretted extremely that the much-needed reform as to the establishment of Consular Courts in Egypt—a subject which had been debated in that House last year—had not been carried out by Her Majesty's Government, all the more that as he understood France was the only Power which objected to take action in the matter. If such a policy was recommended with respect to Turkey, he hoped that England, for the sake of her own position and influence, would take an independent lead, and would not wait to see how other Powers would act.


said, that the Motion which had been so ably introduced by his hon. Friend the Member for East Gloucestershire might be divided into two portions. It first asked for the production of correspondence between the Sublime Porte and the Foreign Office relating to the non-fulfilment of the provisions of the Khathy Humâïoun by the Government of the Sultan between 1856 and the present time. He had to inform his hon. Friend that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to lay upon the Table a considerable number of Papers relating to the alleged persecution of Christians in Turkey, and the Papers which his hon. Friend referred to would be found among them. With respect to that which was next asked for by his hon. Friend, there was no such Memorandum in the Foreign Office as that mentioned in the Notice; but there was a Memorandum of Fuad Pasha of May, 1867, which was no doubt that which his hon. Friend required, and he would find that it had been for some years upon the Table of the House of Commons. In point of fact, therefore, there was nothing in the way of Papers to be moved for. His hon. Friend, however, proposed to call attention to the 9th clause of the Treaty of Paris and to the condition of Turkey, in so far as it bore on British interests. Now, he had listened with some curiosity throughout the debate to hear of anything which had special relation to British interests in connection with the subject referred to—namely, the Khathy Humâïoun—and he had not heard a word which tended to show that British interests were specially affected by our relations with Turkey in that respect. [Sir H. DRUMMOND WOLFF: The road to India.] Yes; but our road to India did not lie through Turkey. [Sir H. DRUMMOND WOLFF: Egypt.] Well, Egypt was, no doubt, a part of the Turkish Empire, but it was remarkable that during the entire discussion Egypt had been very little alluded to. However, with respect to that part of the Motion of his hon. Friend, he would ask the attention of the House to the 9th clause of the Treaty of Paris, and to the fact that that clause distinctly laid down that it was not the right of the Powers to interfere collectively or separately in the internal affairs of Turkey. The whole condition of the Turkish Empire had been minutely described, and not only its material condition, but the relations existing between the Turkish Empire and the other Powers had been adverted to. Questions relating to the Turkish Army, the Navy, its financial system, and the Civil List of the Sultan had been brought into the debate. He should be guilty of great indiscretion if he followed hon. Members into these various subjects, and Her Majesty's Government would be showing a bad example to the rest of the world if they interfered in the internal affairs of Turkey when it was the object of the signataries to the Treaty of Paris in the 9th Article to put an end to such an interference. Apart from the Treaty of Paris and our international obligations, there could be no greater act of imprudence than for the representative of a Foreign Department to enter into a discussion upon the internal affairs of a friendly Power, because in so doing he would not fail to meet with delicate and difficult questions which were better fitted for diplomatic correspondence than for debates in the House of Commons. If that were true as a general principle, he must say that in the case of no country ought that principle to be more scrupulously followed than in the instance of Turkey; because, if they recollected the past history of Turkey, the variety of its races and religions, and the intensity of the rancour existing among different sects, it must be admitted that Turkey, of all the other nations of the world, necessarily encountered the greatest difficulties in the administration of her internal affairs. These difficulties, moreover, although great in themselves, were much increased by the relations of Turkey with Europe. And those who carped at and criticized the present condition of Turkey ought not to forget the struggle she underwent 40 years ago when she emancipated herself from the isolated position in which she had lain for centuries. When Reschid Pasha initiated the great reforms which would hand down his name to posterity as one of the greatest benefactors to Turkey that ever lived, he found himself surrounded with every difficulty which it was possible for an administrator to contend with. Old prejudices, then, still existed. The Christian races were treated with contumely, the dominant race was proud of its former conquests in Europe, Asia, and Africa, heavy taxes were levied upon her non-Mussulman population, who could not even travel without leave; they were shut out from employment, and every odious distinction existed between the Mussulman and Christian population. The Army had fallen into decay, the Navy had been destroyed at Navarino, and every province was in a state of popular tumult and disorganization. The edict which secured the principle of toleration was then issued. In theory it left nothing to be desired, because it left the Mussulman and non-Mussulman population of Turkey equal before the law. Then came the Crimean War, and the change since made in the condition of affairs in Turkey was most remarkable. In the first place, Turkey went through a great war with credit to herself. Her Army had since been completely re-organized. She had built herself a Navy. More than a thousand miles of railway had been made, and the improved position of the non-Mussulman portion of her population could not be denied. Elementary education had made progress, and though the financial and judicial arrangements of Turkey were not what we could wish them to be, they were a great contrast to the condition of things 50 years ago. Two things were clear—namely, that Turkey during the last 40 years had been in a state of transition, and that she had made considerable advance in tolerance and in material prosperity. The part of the speech of the Mover of the Resolution which he heard with most regret was that in which sweeping charges were made against individuals without any proof being adduced of the condemnations that were uttered. With regard to the bondholders, it had been the traditional policy of the Foreign Office to treat them as they were being treated at present. A despatch of Earl Russell's upon this subject had been quoted, and he wished to read from it another paragraph, which was as follows:— Her Majesty's Government will at all times be ready to give their unofficial support to bondholders in the prosecution of their claims upon foreign Governments, and such parties may always count upon moral influence being exercised on their behalf, but unofficially. This was the position which had always been assumed with regard to them, and it was not the intention of the Government to depart from it. We had already shown our goodwill towards Turkey by sending out a Commission which effected considerable reforms; and the Government would avail themselves of any opportunity of offering advice to the Government of Turkey. He could not say that the Khathy-Humâïoun had been completely fulfilled; but he did not think that the non-Mussulman subjects of the Porte had now much to complain of as non-Mussulman subjects. In looking over some Papers which would shortly be presented to Parliament, he had been struck by the absence of any complaints of religious persecutions; and in one despatch Sir Henry Elliot said that nothing in the nature of the persecution of Christians by the authorities existed, but there was very decided sectarian persecution. The cases of cruelty that we heard of from time to time were really produced by these sectarian differences. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose certainly took a gloomy view of their condition; but he must remind him that we were now discussing the Khathy Humâïoun of 1856, and the opinion of the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member was certainly different from that which the right hon. Gentleman had now expressed; for, in 1872, in answer to a Question put by the late Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) in this House, the noble Lord who then represented the Foreign Office (Viscount Enfield) said that the latest reports from Constantinople stated that, as a general rule, the law affecting Christians was fairly carried out, and they had no ground of complaint. He would now make a few remarks on the speech of his noble Friend the Member for Clare County (Lord Francis Conyngham), who had spoken of the mission of the Evangelical Alliance to Constantinople. The deputation of the Evangelical Alliance, headed by his noble Friend, made a demand which was wholly unprecedented. It had never been the practice of the Sultan to receive deputations composed of foreigners on business of that kind. When the character of that deputation was considered, hon. Members would, he thought, agree that if the same thing were done in our own country precisely the same result would follow. He would put an analogous case. In Portugal there was no capital punishment. Now, supposing a deputation from Portugal were to come here and ask their Ambassador to obtain for them an audience of the Queen, for the purpose of appealing to Her Majesty to put an end to capital punishment in this country, he would probably decline to do so; and even if he did make the request to the Foreign Secretary, that Minister would repel any attempt to intrude upon Her Majesty's privacy. Besides, it must be remembered that the Sultan of Turkey had 17,000,000 Mussulman subjects who regarded him as their spiritual head; and he could conceive no act more likely to create rebellion among his subjects than for the Sultan to receive a deputation whose avowed object was to address His Majesty on the question of the conversion of Mahomedans to Christianity, and vice versâ. He would not now dwell with greater particularity on the proceedings of the Evangelical Alliance, as Papers relating to the subject would shortly be laid on the Table of the House. In conclusion, he would say that the progress of Turkey, although slow, was undoubted. It was true, indeed, that the Porte had not fulfilled its promises in many respects, but that was attributable more to the subordinates in the distant Provinces, than to any unwillingness on the part of the Porte itself. Her Majesty's present Government wished to make Turkey as strong and as powerful as possible; but he did not think the interference of our Ambassador at Constantinople in things which did not concern British interests would tend to produce that result. He rather thought it was by encouraging Turkey to depend on herself that she would attain to that condition of reform which was intended when the Treaty of Paris was promulgated in 1856. It was to be borne in mind that that was the great charter on which all reforms in Turkey were to be expected, and it was clearly understood by European Powers in general that these projected reforms, proceeding from the Sultan's own free will, did not give to the European Powers the right to interfere collectively or separately in the relations of the Sultan and his subjects or the internal administration of the Empire.


said, he should like to ask if the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs meant to say that the 9th Article in the Treaty of Paris did not give this country the right to see that the provisions of the Khaththy Humâïoun was observed? It would not be in the power of the Government of this country to enter into minute details; but if the right to interfere did not exist, how was how was it that Fuad Pasha entered minutely into the several representations made by the Embassy at Constantinople, and pointed out in answer to the remonstrances of the English Ambassador that the terms of that instrument had been carried out as fairly as circumstances would permit. That instrument was an embodiment of the reforming policy of the Emperor Mahmoud. Previous to his time two checks existed in Turkey against the autocracy of the Sultan; the one was the check of the Janissaries, and the other was the power of the Pashas, and it was through the popularity of the Emperor Mahmoud, and his Grand Vizier Reschid Pacha, who were the Louis Treize and Richelieu of Turkey, that these checks were allowed to go. The great mistake made at that time by the people of Turkey was that, whereas previous checks were destroyed, no new ones were created. If the Emperor Mahmoud had been less popular, previous restrictions might have remained in force. For the very reason that Mahmoud was popular, the checks were allowed to go. The difficulty in Turkey was that that country laboured under an absolute autocratic system, and whereas people from one end of the Empire to the other were in a state of the greatest possible discontent, there was no means of giving effect to their wishes. They were, in fact, in such a state that an hon. Gentleman had said if they had the greatest tyrant, they had no cheek on his madness. If even they had a madman on the Throne they had no power whatever to check his madness. Fuad Pacha, finding no check on the autocratic power of the Sultan, used the only means available at Constantinople, by inventing one, in the way of using the influence of the Embassies, and especially that of the British Embassy, in making representations, which under the guise of diplomatic remonstrances, virtually supported the policy which he and Ali Pasha had at heart. That check existed down to the period of the Crimean War, and it certainly was a strange thing to hear from a British Minister that his duty was merely limited to this—"We will give advice, if they ask us; but we will not put ourselves about to do it. We will give in an otiose easy way, sound advice when it is asked for; but we will not put ourselves about to do it." These were strange words indeed to be addressed to the British Parliament in a matter which so nearly concerned British interests as the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. The House of Commons of England was not a Governing Body. Nobody here sought to govern Turkey. But Turkey was bound to regard Treaty obligations. Ever since the time of Fuad Pacha the Khaththy Humâïoun, that great Reform Bill of Turkey had been absolutely and entirely a dead letter. What was the condition of Turkey now? There could be no question that everything about that Empire was going to wreck and ruin. Her finances were hopelessly disordered, and there was a normal deficit of something like £5,000,000. There was corruption at the core. It was well known that the Judges were paid so miserably that their salaries were not equal to those of a body-clerk of an English Justice of the Common Pleas. Corruption was an obligatory vice with them. They were told that Turkey was improving and advancing. How was she improving or advancing? Twenty years ago she was a prosperous and well-ordered country compared with what she was now. The whole of her debt of £150,000,000 had been incurred during the last 20 years, and she had absolutely not an old pair of gloves to show for it. She was advancing, it was true, and rapidly, but it was down-hill, and in the paths that lead to destruction. As to Navy and Army reforms, he would like to know whether her ironclads or her soldiers could keep an enemy out of Constantinople. If England were true to her enormous interests at stake, Turkey might yet be saved. It was because such language was used at Constantinople as had just been used by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in that House that Turkey was being driven to ruin and destruction by the selfish and incapable men at the head of her affairs; but it was not the language that should be used towards Turkey by a Minister who was mindful of our British and Indian interests. There could be no doubt that if misrule, and corruption, and reaction, and fanaticism had their own way, Turkey might be driven across the Bosphorus into Asia. It was only at Constantinople that they could expect to influence the Mahomedan people, and if that connection was cut off there would be no means left by which European Christianity could influence the Mahomedan world. If others were prepared to see the Turkish Empire break up, he as an Englishman could not view such a policy with complacency or satisfaction, and it was for that reason he deprecated the manner in which our duties towards Turkey appeared to be regarded by the Government. He, for one, felt that the very existence of the friendly State of Turkey depended upon the action which the British Government chose to take. They had in Turkey a great field for diplomatic action of the noblest kind, and the interests of the two countries were so reciprocal that the exercise of the influence of this country ought not to be wanting.


said, that anyone who heard the animated and eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Canterbury must think that the British Government had become estranged from the friendly Power of Turkey; but there was no such feeling on the part of the English Government. The English Government felt the deepest interest in the welfare of Turkey; and he did not understand upon what ground the hon. Member could assert that she did not now feel that interest. [Mr. BUTLER-JOHNSTONE: I alluded to a new fact.] He was at a loss to understand what the hon. Member meant by a new fact. His hon. Friend had insisted that the English Government ought to interfere in the internal affairs of Turkey; but if the English Government did that, it was probable that in the course of six months our relations with Turkey would not be so friendly as they now were. The English Government was fully alive to the importance of maintaining Turkey in her position as an independent Power.


explained that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs alluded to a new fact as causing the British Government not to feel that there were any British interests now in Turkey which England felt interest in.


explained that the hon. Member entirely misunderstood what he said in reference to British interests.

Question put, and agreed to.

Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."