HC Deb 07 August 1876 vol 231 cc721-46

said, he felt that he owed some explanation to the House for bringing forward at such very short Notice what appeared to him to be an extremely important subject, but the fact was that there was no other course open to him. It was only that day and the day before that documents had come to hand, and that Papers had been published which appeared to render it highly desirable that the House of Commons should have another opportunity of expressing its opinion upon these atrocities; and every hon. Member knew well that at that period of the Session there was no possible way of calling attention to the subject except on the Report of Supply. He could have wished that attention had been called to the matter by a more influential Mem- ber than he, for he felt that the news which they had heard lately upon this subject really called for the expression of a very strong opinion indeed on the part of the House of Commons. It would be in the recollection of the House that on the 10th of July last they had a short debate on the subject of the Bulgarian atrocities, and they on that (the Liberal) side of the House, and certainly a very great many people out of it, were extremely dissatisfied with the tone adopted by the Prime Minister in his reply on that occasion. They considered that the right hon. Gentleman was treating a very important subject with great levity. They considered that he was rather palliating and justifying and denying the truth of things which appeared to them to be only too well founded to have been treated in that way. All that they had heard since had proved that the opinion which they entertained in regard to that matter was correct. He had himself received papers and letters from Constantinople announcing the receipt of the papers with reports of that debate in them, and the feeling amongst the European population at Constantinople was one of great disgust with the way in which Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's Minister out there had treated the matter. With the permission of the House, he would take the liberty of reading an extract from a newspaper—The Stamboul—published in Constantinople— Apropos of the excesses committed by the irregular troops, we must notice a fact that might be of importance—that is to say, the debates which have taken place in the English Parliament on the subject. The public of our city, both Mussulmans and Christians, have imbibed a painful impression from reading the despatch announcing that the English Ministry, by the avowal of Mr. Disraeli, has been kept in ignorance of these facts, and that having asked for information from their Ambassador, he has charged as exaggerations the horrors narrated by the correspondent of The Daily News, and had even taken up the defence of the Circassians and the Bashi Bazouks, by alleging that they had done no more than make reprisals. We wait the more official account of the Chamber to confirm or otherwise this version, so as not to commit ourselves to the word 'defence,' for we do not believe, with the knowledge which we have of the country, that there exists one single Mussulman capable of being willing to take the defence of the Circassians. By an unfortunate coincidence, the same day that this discussion took place in the House of Commons, the Turkish Government sent one of its Ministers into Bulgaria to make an inquiry. We have learned since that the Commission appointed by the Minister has hanged on the field five of these plunderers, and everybody has read the proclamation of the Grand Vizier, which is an indirect avowal of all the misdeeds committed. Sir Henry Elliot, when he applies in such a case the word 'reprisals,' seems ignorant that many months before the breaking out of the insurrection the newspapers were filled with mournful details of plunder and disorders committed by the Circassians and Bashi Bazouks, and that the Government was warned that it must expect an insurrection if it did not take measures to repress these abuses. On which side, then, were the reprisals. But even if there was no truth in the facts quoted by the newspapers such rumours deserved to have the attention of the Ambassador, and he ought always to have informed his Government. Now it results, in the language of Mr. Disraeli, that the English Government had not even suspected the existence of such facts, although it was so much its interest to know them. He would next read a short extract from a private letter— Christians of all denominations here were very much shocked at the attempted palliation by the British Government and Sir Henry Elliot of the atrocities committed upon Christians by Mussulmans in the interior. These atrocities were notorious here many months before the so-called Bulgarian insurrection. Now, it would be observed that it was stated that these atrocities were being committed many months before the so-called insurrection. It was stated that this so-called insurrection was to have taken place on the 1st May, but that it had been anticipated by a few days, and he would now show by extracts from Constantinople newspapers that in November and December, 1875, these atrocities were going on. One account said— On the night of the 4th October the Mussulmans of Sulmeschli district of Eski Zagra, set fire to the dwellings of the Bulgarians and fired guns. The Bulgarians fled from their houses and the village, but were surrounded by Mussulmans, who fired on them, killing some and wounding a great many. Those who were caught had atrocious tortures to suffer, putting fire in the hair of some, thrusting red-hot irons into the tongues of others, and making others dance barefooted on a heap of thorns. When at last gendarmes came to their assistance, six men were found dead, fifteen wounded, and many women and children half dead. Another account said— The inquiry opened by the authorities discovers every day some new abuse. For instance, Sadik Bey, in company with some of his companions in iniquity, recently went through these villages, violating the young Bulgarian girls, Among the girls thus dishonoured may be mentioned the little daughters of Diado Stoyan, of the village of Chahmali. The village of Sulmeschli has a population of Bulgarians and Mussulmans. The latter, armed with implements of labour and other weapons, in the middle of the night, attacked the Bulgarian part of the village, have killed 12 men and have wounded 8, and violated 10 young girls and 3 young women. They then retired, having taken away the grain and other provisions, and the furniture of the houses. Kasanka, near Eski Zagra, is also inhabited by Bulgarians and Mussulmans. The forest guard, with some other Mussulmans, having at their head two gendarmes, attacked the Bulgarian houses in the middle of the night, and having seized 15 of the richest, imprisoned them in a hut, and, with knives at their throats, demanded money, and in this way extorted 46 livres. This process was repeated by the same individuals at the villages of Baloukli and Ada Tépé. The peasants complain in vain because Hadji Tahir Aga, one of the notables of Eski Zagra, protects the culprits for his own ends. That Hadji Tahir Aga and his colleague Emine Bey are the misfortunes of the country. They are one of the causes of the many violations committed on young Bulgarian girls. They also commit an infinity of abuse in forcing the peasants to reap, to labour, and carry wood for them without payment, and then they are despoiled of their fields and dare not complain, for these men hold the offices of caimacan and cadi in town and country. A certain Kourtschi Osman, at the head of some Mussulmans, has gone through the villages of the district Kezanlik, taking ransom from the richest inhabitants. He says to them—Pay me 8 livres Turkish or I will denounce you to the authorities as taking part in the revolutionary committee. The peasants pay the sum demanded to escape torture or perhaps death, and Kourtschi Osman, with his companions, has taken in this way 560 livres Turkish. These acts took place during the first days of October last. These extracts showed that in Constantinople it was perfectly notorious that these outrages were going on, and still we had Sir Henry Elliot pretending to know nothing about them, and keeping the Government at home in ignorance of facts which it was his business to know. The statements as to these atrocities might be in some degree exaggerated, but they were in the main authenticated by the names and dates which were given. But what said the Turkish defence which had been published. He would read portions of the summary of it that had appeared in The ScotsmanThe Turkish Embassy in London has issued the report of Edib Effendi, the Commissioner appointed by the Turkish Government to inquire into the alleged Bulgarian atrocities. He says the insurrection was extensively organized, and was to have broken out on May 1, but the date was anticipated by a few days. The towns of Philippopolis, Bazardjik, Adrianople, and Sofia were to be set on fire and plundered. The villages, which were the centre of the insurrection, were fortified. Wooden cannon were prepared, and the inhabitants had secreted all their valuable property. The Mussulman population who refused submission were to be put to death, as well as their wives and children. In consequence of measures to suppress the insurrection it did not spread, but 28 villages were burnt, of which 18 were Christian and 4 were Mussulman. The stories of Christian children beingsold into slavery arose simply from abandoned children having been collected and cared for in the Mussulman villages, most of whom have been restored to their homes. The cases in which women were killed by the troops were due solely to the obstinate resistance of the rebels. The leaders of the insurrection, it is affirmed, were everywhere schoolmasters and village popes. This manfinished up his report by the pious expression—There is nothing left but to pray for Divine assistance in the work of restoring order. He thought a more contemptible thing in the form of a defence never was laid before a civilized community. In the charges against the Turkish Government there were names given. In this defence there was no case in which a name or date was mentioned. The defence confined itself entirely to the 1st of May, or about that time, and said not a word about the old atrocities. It said the insurrection was extensively organized, and quoted a document found on some man who was killed. It did not give the name of the man, nor the signatures appended to the document. Nothing was stated that would permit the truth of the statement to be tested. So far as he was concerned he had no hesitation in saying that this was a trumped-up story, that there hardly was an insurrection planned, that atrocities were going on, until the people in a state of despair at a constant denial of justice, and a constant suffering which humanity could no longer endure, made up their minds at last to some idea of insurrection, and then the flame was fanned in order that these atrocious Turks might have an opportunity of coming down upon the people, and punishing them most severely. He might dismiss that defence without further comment. But the atrocities were going on now. There was on Saturday in The Daily News a statement of atrocities now taking place in Bosnia. What was called an insurrection in Bulgaria having been put down by such atrocious means, it was now being tried whether the same means would have a similar effect in Bosnia; and after the information we had received, and were receiving daily, and after the statements in The Daily News, it would not do to throw discredit upon them in the way that the Prime Minister so improperly did before. He would read some extracts from The Daily NewsA telegram from Vienna to the Courrier de France says that massacres have been committed by the Turks in Bosnia. In the villages of Pervan and Timar 300 Christians were drowned after being tortured. At Pavics 12 women were cut to pieces and thrown to the dogs. At Ratklovo 60 children were stoned by the Turks, led by one Fechim Effendi, to avenge a relation of Major Stocsvic Bey, killed at Bellina. At Sokelovo 180 young girls taken from the neighbouring villages were penned in a field, and after the prettiest had been picked out for the harems of Fechim and Stocsvic, the others were abandoned to the soldiery, and violated and murdered. At Maidan the Christian population assembled at market were massacred by a fanatical mob led by Hadji Omer Effendi, and another functionary named Ibrahim Kurusovics Aga. The victims in this case numbered 3,000. On July 21st there was another massacre at Pryedor under similar circumstances. All sorts of excesses by Bashi-Bazouks are reported from Brod. On the 12th and 13th a band of Bashi-Bazouks, numbering 600, pillaged and burned the village of Gens Mahalli on the railway between Adrianopole and Philippopolis. In the neighbourhood of Ismid Nicomeden there were similar atrocities. Even allowing for exaggeration—as he was quite willing to do—the particularity of these statements, the names, and the dates given in them, showed that there must be much truth in them. But he came now to the statements in that day's Daily News, which spoke of atrocities exceeding any previously heard of. In this case, he did not see how it was possible to throw doubt on the statements, because they were sent by a correspondent accompanying the American Commissioner, M. Schuyler. He would repeat a few of these statements, which he was sure must have sent a thrill of horror through the heart of every one who had read them— Mr. Baring will report 60 villages burnt. He is accompanied by a Turkish Guard, which frightens the people. This was a serious difficulty in Mr. Baring's way, besides his ignorance of the Bulgarian language. Nobody doubted that he would do his best to get at the truth, but the doubt was as to whether he was in a position to get at the truth, whether he could inspire the peasantry with such confidence that they would come and tell him what was the real state of matters— The peasantry afterwards told M. Schuyler that they were afraid to come and testify. That was most important— Proof has been obtained of atrocities corresponding in the majority of cases with the details of The Daily News. A schoolmistress, a beautiful girl, was arrested for embroidering a flag, and brutally maltreated. Then they came to the town of Batok, where, on approaching the town on a hill, they saw a number of dogs who ran away, and they Found on the spot a number of skulls gathered about, and one ghastly heap of skeletons, with clothing. I counted from the saddle 100 skulls, picked and licked clean, all of women and children. We entered the town. On every side were skulls and skeletons, charred among the ruins, or lying entire where they fell in their clothing. There were skeletons of girls and women with long brown hair hanging to the skulls. We approached the church; there these remains were more frequent, until the ground was literally covered with skeletons, skulls, and putrefying bodies in clothing. Between the church and the school there were heaps. The stench was fearful. We entered the churchyard; the sight was more dreadful. The whole churchyard for 3 feet deep was festering with dead bodies partly covered—hands, legs, arms, and heads projected in ghastly confusion. I saw many little hands, heads, and feet of children of three years of age, and girls with heads covered with beautiful hair. The church was still worse. The floor was covered with rotting bodies, quite uncovered. I never imagined anything so fearful. There were 3,000 bodies in the churchyard and church….In the school, a fine building, 200 women and children had been burnt alive. All over the town were the same scenes….The man who did all this, Achmed Aga, has been promoted, and is still governor of the district. The newspaper accounts were not exaggerated. They could not be. No crime invented by Turkish ferocity was left uncommitted. Hon. Members would know what that meant. The statement that the Bulgarians committed atrocities is utterly unfounded and shamefully false. M. Schuyler thinks that less than 200 Turks were killed, nearly all in open combat. There is no proof yet that a single Turkish woman or child was killed or violated. He would not proceed further than to express his own horror at what he had read to the House. He was sure every hon. Member would feel upon the subject as strongly as he did. They would remember the cry of horror, he might say the cry of vengeance, that ran through the land at the tale of Cawnpore. Here was a tale far more bloody than that of Cawnpore. Cawnpore was exaggerated 10 or 20 times over in one town alone, and we might expect daily similar accounts from other towns of that unhappy country. Amid all this we stood by, and did nothing. There were only mild protestations from Sir Henry Elliot, who kept concealed from our Government at home his belief in, or knowledge of, these atrocities. There appeared to be a conspiracy of silence out there among officials and Ministers. They did not tell the Government exactly how matters stood, and we were giving our moral support to a nation that did such things as had been described. We sent our Fleet to Besika Bay without making any explanation why it was sent; and all the world had been left to believe that it was sent to give moral support to this vile nation of Turkey. All this must come to an end. He did not believe the people of this country would consent any longer to be on any terms with Turkey either of friendship or alliance. Her Majesty's Government would be required to take some stronger step than they had yet taken, and to make stronger representations than they had yet made, if possible in combination with other civilized nations in Europe, to put a complete stop to such horrible procedure. Hethought nothing else would content the country, and he hoped the House would have that night some expressions from the Prime Minister of a very different kind from those he gave them on the last occasion when this subject was before the House.


said, that as the result of a few words of protest he had uttered on a former occasion against the atrocities revealed in The Daily News, he had received letters of confirmation whose authenticity the Prime Minister, if he saw them, would not dispute. Had he known that the subject would have come before the House he would have had them with him. One was from Dr. Washbourne, the head of the American Missionaries' College in Constantinople, and one from Dr. Sandwith, enclosing letters from Bulgaria, from men for whose honour and truthfulness he could vouch. Some of these correspondents begged that nothing should be stated publicly that would at all enable the Turkish Government to identify them, because such identification would be utter destruction to them. He (Mr. Mundella) had intended to give a Notice on this subject for Thursday, but he was glad his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) had anticipated him. He would not claim a monopoly of humanity for his side of the House. He believed every Englishman who read the accounts which had been quoted would feel, as he and his hon. Friend did in this matter—that it was horrible that such crimes should be perpetrated in Europe by a Government with whom we were in alliance, and that believed it was supported by the power and strength of England. The Prime Minister, when questioned on these Eastern events, had always said that his official information did not warrant these newspaper statements, or that they were exaggerated. Crimes of murder, arson, and outrage, gave rise to panic, and would always be somewhat exaggerated; but where there was such a mass of indisputable evidence as there was in this case, it was really shocking that an English Minister should speak of these crimes as "inevitable." That was an expression which, he confessed, caused him great pain. We were now hearing more of these atrocities from the newspapers, because they were better informed than Her Majesty's Government. Their correspondents, our own countrymen, were on the spot, and many of them men of great reputation known to all of them. They all knew what The Daily News correspondence was in the Franco-German War, and how it gave the earliest information, and gave it long before the Government gave any. The enterprize of the Press outstripped the processes of Ministers, who believed in red tape, and who made these common-place statements about exaggerations. That was simply the stereotyped language of diplomacy. The mystery-mongering of the Foreign Office never brought out the truth unless the Press had brought it straight to them long before. Hence the doubt thrown by the Prime Minister on these statements. But they had been borne out by the testimony of M. Schuyler and the concurrent testimony of The Times, for what did The Times' correspondent say? That gentleman described in glowing language the magnificence of the country on the frontier of Servia, and remarked— The Turk has blighted all. Such an exodus! never since the flight of the Israelites had the like of it been witnessed. I cannot command words which will enable your readers to realize it. Again, the same correspondent said— I believe that, could all Europe have seen it as I did yesterday, all Europe would rise in indignation. Thousands of Christians, the inhabitants of the villages along this frontier of Servia, were flying for their lives and for the honour of their wives and daughters from the cruel and remorseless Turk. This was from a foreign correspondent of great ability, and writer of great reputation, and who had been relied upon for the best news over and over again, yet our Government sat still. He (Mr. Mundella) was not an advocate of war, but he said it was unworthy of England, if she had any power, or if she had any influence in the counsels of Europe, not to say to this "thing," which now was said to govern Turkey—whose Predecessor had died of the scissors, who was himself in the way of something worse, and whose probable successor was a fanatic—"Bring these things to an end, or we will point our guns at your palaces. "England was once governed by a man named Cromwell, who in a case like this uttered words which brought massacres to an end. He prayed the Prime Minister to shake off the lethargy which had been too marked in this case, and to let them have some plain English speaking on the subject. It was too atrocious to be met with silence. We could not maintain these monsters any longer in Europe. It must not seem that we were maintaining them by our Fleet, as it apparently did to the ferocious ruffians who had actually appeared at the British Consulates demanding the wages of their guilt, in the belief that the English Consuls were to pay for what they had done. He spoke strongly, as he felt. It was time somebody spoke out, and that England awoke to a sense of her responsibility as a great Christian Power, and in the name of humanity did something to bring these things to an end.


said, it was much to be regretted that these inflammatory speeches should be made in that House. The speeches just delivered were exactly in the same style as a speech recently delivered at Willis's Rooms, in which the strongest opinions were expressed. Every one, and no one more than the Prime Minister himself, must mourn over the miseries attending civil war; but nobody could have read the Blue Book carefully without coming to the conclusion that these atrocities had been greatly magnified, and that they were not confined to one side. The responsibility for these events did not lie with our Ministry, but with those who instigated that war, and it was rather for them to try to mitigate these atrocities than for the Government of this country to interfere. He thought these speeches did the greatest harm. They were Party speeches against the Turkish Government, and the hon. Members opposite who delivered them should look at both sides of the question, and judge fairly and impartially between the two parties.


urged the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to throw off official reticence on this subject, and say what had been done. From communications which he (Mr. Hayter) had received, he was assured that there had been no exaggeration whatever as to the number of these murders, and there really had been 12,000 persons murdered in Bulgaria. No doubt it was impossible for Her Majesty's Government to control the irregular troops of the Porte, but Her Majesty's Government would agree that the Porte was responsible for whatever irregular troops the Porte took into its employ. On this point he might cite the answer of General Liprandi to Lord Raglan. During the Crimean War Lord Raglan begged General Liprandi not to allow the Cossacks to murder and plunder English officers who were wounded and lying on the ground; and General Liprandi replied—"I can keep in order the disciplined troops of Russia, but I cannot control the Cossacks, who are obliged to be used by the Russian Government in their extremity, and who are obliged to make up by plunder for the want of pay. "Now, the Bashi-Bazouks probably received no pay, and there was in the printed Papers a letter from the Pasha in some of the disturbed districts in Bosnia, stating that he would not be responsible for the irregular troops unless the Turkish Government sent out some pay for them. He himself had seen irregular Turkish troops in a state of mutiny, and officers going down on their knees begging the men to obey orders. As to the Bulgarians, he had travelled in that country, and was prepared to say that the peasantry were among the most inoffensive people in the world. A large settlement of Circassians had been set down by the side of them, and probably to these Circassians part of the atrocities were due. But they were aided by the troops of a European Power, and it was this fact of which Her Majesty's Government ought to take account. It would be very easy for the right hon. Gentleman to rise at the close of this debate and say—"What do you want me to do?" Well, he, for one, intended to insist that Her Majesty's Government ought to use all their diplomatic power to insist on the withdrawal of the Bashi-Bazouks from these Provinces, to insist that the families of these murdered men were compensated, and that the Turkish Government should give an assurance that these irregular troops should not be employed to put down insurrection. When they had done that Her Majesty's Government would have done something to put down these disgraceful outrages.


believed thatin the House and out of the House the people were indebted to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) for again directing the attention of Parliament to atrocities which he (Mr. Taylor) would not say were never equalled in the history of the world, but which neither in modern, nor ancient times were ever surpassed. His only regret was that the Forms of the House did not enable him to frame the observations he had made in a distinctive Motion, because it was essential before separating for the Recess that representation should be made in that House of the feelings of shame and indignation which rushed through every heart in this Realm. The House of Commons and the country were disappointed that in the references to these atrocities, from the Government bench the Prime Minister did all he could to throw a slur on the correctness of the reports given by correspondents, and to show that these were the ordinary consequences of civil war. The right hon. Gentleman would be glad of the opportunity given him that night to set himself right with the country. The House of Commons and the country knew very well that the excuses of the Turkish Government were not valid in the slightest degree, but rested on absolute falsehood. Atrocities had been going on, and were going on at the present moment, of an almost unparalleled character. Red Indians in the American wilds scalped their victims, but never did what these fiends in Eastern Europe were doing. The right hon. Gentleman on a late occasion had referred to Jamaica. He (Mr. Taylor) had never been disposed to say less of the atrocities in Jamaica than they deserved, for he, with others, did his best to bring Governor Eyre to justice for the murders done there; but it was a libel on Governor Eyre to compare what was done in Jamaica with the savage and obscene atrocities of the Turks in Europe. In answer to the question—"What is to be done?" he thought the first thing was to recognize the crime. It might be said what could we do? There was a gallant old gentleman in this country (Lord Russell)—he (Mr. Taylor) wished he were at the head of the Government now—who might not, as had been said, take command of the Fleet at an hour's notice, but who would assuredly not have allowed the name of England to be dragged into the atrocities now going on. He trusted some Member of the Government would clear this country of the shame that attached to it in connection with these occurrences.


held that a very strong case had been made out against the Turkish Government in respect to the horrible atrocities committed in Bulgaria, and that much blame was due to Her Majesty's Government, who, either from ignorance or apathy, had seemed rather to palliate than to endeavour to check these crimes. It had been said that there was much exaggeration, but he thought it was almost impossible there could have been much exaggeration. The correspondents of our leading daily newspapers who made the facts public wrote with the full knowledge that everything that appeared in the Press would be subject to severe criticism, and if untrue would be denied. It was impossible that gentlemen of their position and experience could send these accounts unless they were aware of the facts. The language of his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had been strong, but in his opinion was not too strong for a case such as this. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) referred to the presence of a British Fleet in Besika Bay. He did not know for what purpose the Fleet was sent there, and what it was expected to do, but as it was there, he believed it would gladden the hearts of the English people to learn that it could lend some influence to the representations of our Government in favour of the cause of humanity in Europe. If we had never interfered in Turkish affairs the position would not be quite the same, but we always had been interfering in the affairs of Turkey, and indeed half the nations of Europe were deliberating upon the affairs of that country and claiming the right to interfere. That being the case, it was a scandal to Europe that such atrocities should take place within her borders. He hoped that one result of the discussion which had been raised would be to quicken the conscience of Her Majesty's Government, and if they had not yet made vigorous efforts to stop these terrible scenes, that in future at least the country would not have cause to complain of their remissness.


said, the House was still uninformed of the purpose of the Fleet being at Besika Bay. Before the debate closed he hoped they would be informed. It was said to be there to protect the Christians and prevent disturbances, but if that were so, what had been the result? He feared it was there in a bad cause, for the Christians were unprotected, and the disturbances were still going on. He hoped the Government would not allow the debate to close without intimating that every power that England possessed would be exercised to cause a cessation of these terrible calamities and cruelties.


said, that when the statement of these atrocities was first made known in this country he communicated with correspondents in Constantinople, and within the last few days had been assured that not only were the reports accurate, but were understated. A general impression prevailed among the English residents in Constantinople that our Ambassador there displayed unnecessary Turkish leanings, and, further, that, with the best intentions and unquestionable capacity, his health was such that he was not in a position to afford the Government at home accurate and detailed information.


said, before dealing with the very serious matter which they had just been discussing, he wished to refer to the present condition of the Stockholm church, as brought under the notice of the House by the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope). There seemed to be a misapprehension as to some of the facts. For instance, the church did not belong, exclusively to British subjects, but to the English-speaking community, and as there was a Protestant community, the Government did not think it necessary to maintain a Consular chaplain. When he was withdrawn, a committee of the congregation elected a chaplain of their own, but after a time he resigned. He then wished to withdraw his resignation, but was not allowed to do so. All official connection on the part of the Government with the church having ceased, the committee succeeded in getting another chaplain, and the original chaplain protested against these proceedings, and called a meeting, which was attended by others than British subjects. Another committee was appointed, representing the whole congregation, and a dispute commenced between it and the old committee, representing British subjects alone. The Law Officers of the Crown had advised Her Majesty's Government that they ought not to interfere, and it was thought better to leave the settlement of the matter to the parties interested. He did not think they could recede from the position which the Government had taken up; and as to the Swedish Government breaking open the church in process of law, nothing offensive was intended. He hoped—and he could not do more than this—that the termination of this unhappy quarrel would be reached at as early a date as possible. He came now to the subject which had been introduced by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson), and he was sure that it would be admitted that, whatever were the reasons for bringing the case before the House on the present occasion, that course was attended with some amount of inconvenience. He had only received two hours' notice of the matter, and therefore he was not in a position to refer to the documents which were in the Blue Book bearing on this subject, with a view to their explanation. Still, although inconvenient, he could not in the least be surprised, after what had occurred, at any hon. Member bringing the subject forward. He regretted in the remarks which had fallen from the hon. Member to hear at the very outset of his speech a statement which was totally unfounded. The hon. Member said that in the discussion of this question, when before the House, the Prime Minister treated it with a degree of levity. He knew just the reverse was the case, because he had been ordered by the Prime Minister to be in daily communication with him on the subject; and he (Mr. Bourke) stated this, upon his honour, that there was no subject connected with foreign affairs that had given his right hon. Friend such cause for anxious consideration as the question now before the House. The gravity of the subject made it advisable and absolutely necessary that a man who occupied the position of his right hon. Friend in Europe should talk of these atrocities with the greatest possible circumspection, because if one word of exaggeration was used by him, it might be made an excuse in answer to any representations made by him to the Turkish Government. It, therefore, was incumbent on his right hon. Friend, in dealing with these horrible atrocities, in the first place to find out the exact truth; and he was perfectly certain there was no man in the world, if these atrocities turned out to be true, that would more sternly vindicate the cause of humanity than his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. The hon. Member for Glasgow had also made an attack on the Minister at Constantinople, and a more unjust attack never was made. If he (Mr. Bourke) had before him the Papers which were discussed last week, he could have shown that long before the subject was mentioned in the daily papers Sir Henry Elliot brought this subject to the notice of the Turkish Government, and went at once to the bottom of the matter. He at once said that so long as the Circassians and Bashi-Bazouks were employed, he was afraid irregularities would occur; and Sir Henry Elliot spoke in this spirit before a single outrage was heard of. In a letter contained in the Blue Book Sir Henry Elliot wrote to Lord Derby (in a private letter, I think)— For once that I have made these reports to your Lordship, I have spoken a dozen times to the Turkish Government. There could not be the slightest doubt, therefore, that a word could not be said justly against Sir Henry Elliot for any breach of duty or want of energy in this matter. He was not going to say one word as to whether everything that had appeared in The Daily News was true or not; but that was exactly the position which was assumed by his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. [An hon. Member: Exaggerated.] His right hon. Friend read accounts from Adrianople, and he said that in certain cases they were very much exaggerated. He (Mr. Bourke) did not wish to join issue with anybody on the subject whether they were exaggerated or not; he did not think, so far as the effect on the minds of the English people was concerned, it mattered whether 100 persons had been killed or 50; if these atrocities had been committed in anything like the numbers stated, Her Majesty's Government, of course, were bound to do everything they possibly could to prevent their recurrence, and to punish the guilty. When they, however, talked of the Fleet in Besika Bay, and remembered that these atrocities were committed in Bulgaria, he must remind hon. Members that the two matters had little in common. Why, the Fleet could not reach Bulgaria—[Mr. Mundella: It could reach Constantinople.] There was no necessity for that in order to make representations to the Turkish Government. They could exercise moral compulsion without the intervention of the Fleet. With regard to what the hon. Member had said respecting newspaper correspondents, he admitted that newspaper correspondents were persons of the greatest possible consideration, but he also knew that in some cases correspondents were easily satisfied with a very small amount of evidence, and they took a great deal at second-hand; and they knew that taking statements at second-hand was a very dangerous mode of ascertaining the truth. As for the letters which had been read by hon. Members, they were of no greater authority than the declarations of any other hon. Gentleman sitting in that House—that was to say, the statements in them were not the declarations of persons who had seen the thing themselves, and they all knew that when one man went and told another that some horrible thing had taken place, particularly where numbers were concerned, that the exaggeration was very great. However, he did not wish to weigh the statements of one correspondent against another. All he would say was that Her Majesty's Government had not shown the least apathy with regard to the subject, and from the first they had done the very best they could. Now, what had been done? [Ironical cheers.] The very first time they heard of these outrages they telegraphed for information to Sir Henry Elliot, and afterwards they instructed him to have inquiries made on the spot. Some of the official Reports received had been already presented to Parliament; others had come to hand within the last three or four days, and the other day he had mentioned to the House that Mr. Baring and another gentleman had been sent from Constantinople to make inquiries. Mr. Baring had lost not one moment in making these inquiries, and he had before him a Paper which would be presented to the House in the course of a very few days. With regard to others that might arrive in connection with the subject, he believed he might say, although he had no authority to do so, that his noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office would take means to have Reports published during the Recess, if he thought they would be interesting to the public. It was impossible to read all the Papers on the subject, but he hoped they would be in the hands of hon. Members in a few days. All he would read was one letter from Mr. Baring. He would do so in order to show that the Government had done whatever they could in the matter, and the House might form their own opinion upon it. But before doing so he would refer to the article in that day's Daily News, because he observed that some disparagement was thrown upon Mr. Baring therein, and also upon the interpreter who accompanied him. The remark to which he alluded was that Mr. Baring was honestly desirous of obtaining the truth, but that he was always accompanied by a Turkish escort which frightened the peasantry. But what other escort than a Turkish escort could Mr. Baring have? It was absolutely necessary for him to have a Turkish escort. The article went on to say that Mr. Guacchiomo, the interpreter, was unfairly prejudiced in favour of the Turks and that he browbeat the Bulgarians. He was sorry to say that that at once stamped the whole thing with a partizan character, and, to his mind, took away from the value of the report, because he could never imagine that Mr. Baring would allow his interpreter either to browbeat or to bully the Bulgarians, or to show the slightest preference for Turks over Bulgarians. The letter from Mr. Baring was— Philippopolis, July 22, 1876. Sir,—I have the honour to report to your Excellency that, during the last two days I have been endeavouring to obtain information in this town respecting the occurrences which have of late excited so much attention in England and elsewhere. The masses of conflicting statements I have heard from all parties render my mission one of extreme difficulty, and I fear I cannot as yet forward to your Excellency any full report of what has taken place. The sale of women and children in the streets of Philippopolis and Tartar Bazardjik is, I have no doubt, a pure invention; the most independent testimony leads me to the belief that no such traffic has been carried on here. What has happened is this—families have been scattered, and the children have often been taken into the houses of persons of all religions out of pure charity. Of course, under the circumstances, it is not easy for the parents to trace them, and consequently the rumour goes abroad that they are sold into slavery. As regards the young girls, I am told that it is very probable that after the sack of the villages a certain number of their number were taken to the houses of their captors, but I do not believe that anything like open sale took place. There is not, I believe, one word of truth in the wild fable about the cartloads of heads being paraded in the streets by Albanian Bashi-Bazouks, of whom, by the way, there are extremely few, most of the Irregulars who committed the atrocities in these Provinces being Circassians, Gipsies, and Pomaks. As regards the number of killed, till I visited the villages I hardly dare speak, but my present opinion, which I trust hereafter to be able to modify, is that about 12,000 Bulgarians have perished. The number of Turks killed is equally difficult to ascertain; the authorities put the figure at above 1,000, but my information leads me to believe this to be a gross exaggeration; about half that number would probably be correct; but there is no doubt that the deaths of many of them were attended with circumstances of great cruelty. Some 60 villages have been wholly or partially burnt, by far the greater portion of them by the Bashi-Bazouks, though a few, perhaps about ten, have been destroyed by the Insurgents. Some great horrors have come to my ears respecting the circumstances which attended the entry into Philippopolis of 400 prisoners coming from Tartar Bazardjik. They were heavily chained by fours, and, as after their journey they were sinking with fatigue, they were driven like cattle by the zaptiehs, who used the butt ends of their guns without mercy, while the Circassians flogged them with whips. I visited the prisons yesterday and found them extremely crowded. The captives are confined in the common prison and in two large Khans, the notables of Philippopolis being kept separate, and being subjected, as far as I could see, to no great discomfort. Those that I interrogated said that they had no particular cause of complaint as regards food and treatment, though, perhaps, fear may have made them declare their case to be better than it really is. The prison is now about as full as it can hold, and about half the prisoners have been released or sentenced, so that there can be no doubt that at the commencement the overcrowding must have been something fearful. I hear that it is currently reported in the town that the authorities knowing I was going to the prison had it cleaned out, and that the sleeping mats I saw were laid down shortly before I entered. Of course, I cannot say whether this is true or not, but as I purposely gave the authorities as little notice as possible of my intentions, I cannot but think it is invention of the malicious. A Bashi-Bazouk was hung this morning for having taken part in the Hasskeni affair, respecting which I believe Mr. Dupuis has fully reported to your Excellency. The depredations of these Irregulars still continue, and they are taking what little was left by those who suppressed the insurrection. Two have now been hung here, but till a much severer example is made they will still go on with their misdeeds.—Moreover, it is indispensable that they should have officers of the Regular Army put over them who could control their acts, and that when they arrive at the principal stations they should be received by some Regular troops. One-thing is perfectly clear, viz., that the Province is ruined, as the Government will discover to its cost when the tithe is collected. It is stated that the loss to the Treasury will amount to £100,000 Turkish—a sum which can now be ill spared. It seems to me that there is but one course open to the Government if it wishes to bring them back in any way to their normal condition, viz., to give some slight aid to the inhabitants of the villages which have been destroyed. Large numbers of horses, oxen, sheep and cows have been driven off by Pomaks and others, and it is the duty of the Government to oblige the latter to return them to their owners; a little help could also be given in providing materials for rebuilding houses, and seed for the fields, should also be given. It is true that at the present moment the Imperial Treasury could ill afford the smallest strain, but still less can it afford to lose the sums which formerly flowed into it from these districts, and which, if the autumn and winter be allowed to pass without anything being done, may be considered as lost for ever. I was present to-day at the first examinations of some of the prisoners, and to all appearances the proceedings were properly conducted, and Salim Effendi, Alibey, and the Chief Mollah of Adrianople have the reputation of being just men; the same, however, is not said of all the members of the Commission chosen among the natives of Philippopolis, one of whom has been especially mentioned to me as corrupt, fanatical, and cruel. A priest, a schoolmaster, a 'Tchorbaji,'and another Bulgarian were brought up while I was in Court; their declarations were read over to them, and they were asked whether the contents were true; and, though all contained evidence which would send a man to the gallows before any Tribunal, they invariably replied that everything was correct. Their defence was generally the same; they had acted as they had done either from coercion, fear, or sheer stupidity, and they ended by begging for mercy with tears and lamentations. To-day two Bulgarians were hung, four sentenced to death, and seven to different terms of imprisonment. Both Kiani Pasha and Salim Effendi have assured me that in a few days by releasing a large number of prisoners they hoped to reduce the cases to be tried to about 500, and the President added that in about 25 days he trusted all would be disposed of. The Bulgarian Bishop's representative complained to me that the prisoners sentenced to death were not permitted to confer in private, that no notice was sent to them when a man was to be hung, and that when priests were executed their beards and hair were cut off, and they were not unfrocked; also that he was not asked to attend the sittings of the Commission. Salim Effendi, to whom I spoke on the subject, positively denied the truth of all these statements, and said that to-day he had, by verbal message, invited the Bishop's representative to attend the sitting at which I was present, but that he had not come. On other occasions also he was invited, but he only attended once and stayed five minutes. I told Salim Effendi that the next time he had better send the invitation in writing, as there could then be no mistake about it. Salim Effendi told me that he had sent copies of the depositions to Constantinople, which he said contained startling evidence given by prisoners themselves respecting the great cruelties committed on Mussulmans at the outbreak of the insurrection, and if what he says is correct, it appears to me that the Porte would do well to publish these documents, in order to prove to the world that if the Mussulmans committed atrocities and depredations, the Christians were also guilty of many foul deeds.—I have, &c., H. Baring."—[Turkey, No. 5 (1876), No, 27.] He thought, after that, that the House would be satisfied that Mr. Baring was doing his duty well and efficiently, for he did not think that anybody could read that letter without seeing that Mr. Baring did not wish to keep back anything, and that he was doing his duty in no spirit of partizanship one way or the other. He could not imagine how the spirit of partizanship had crept into the discussion; but, after all, that was not the matter they had to consider. He was quite certain that there was not a man in the House who did not feel the gravity of the subject of these atrocities, and no man felt it more than the Prime Minister. He therefore thought the House would be willing to leave the matter now in the hands of Her Majesty's Government, feeling perfectly certain that measures would be taken to bring those atrocities to an end and their perpetrators to justice. He wished to read the following passage from these papers with reference to the proclamation issued by the GrandVizier:— The Grand Vizier has addressed the following telegraphic order to the Governors General of the Provinces of Adrianople, the Danube, Bosnia, and Monastir, and to Abdul-Kerim Pasha, the Generalissimo of the Turkish forces, at Head-Quarters at Nish. The telegram is dated the 25th inst. (Tuesday last):—'I have just learnt that there are, among the volunteers of the Army Corps at Widdin, men who have sold as slaves children of both sexes, of which they obtained possession during their expedition into Servia. This is an act which I formally reprove, and its authors must not escape the punishment it entails. Henceforth, all persons who shall sell or buy children of either sex, whether coming from Servia or any other place, shall be immediately punished with the penalty of death. Those who may have bought children of this kind are summoned to give them up to the local authorities within a given period, and all contraveners of these orders will be condemned to death. Those who are found to be going to the war for the purpose of committing acts of outrage and pillage will be at once sent back to their homes. You are requested to give publicity to these decisions by printed proclamation, and to use every possible vigilance in carrying them into execution. Her Majesty's Government, after the Reports they had received, would, of course, take the matter into their serious consideration; but it would involve a considerable amount of thought how the influence of that House, of the people of England, and, he might say, of all the friends of humanity, should be brought to bear on the scenes where those acts had occurred, and he thought the House would agree with him that if the Government were to attempt anything like force, it would at once lead to complications in Europe which might be the cause of greater barbarities than any which had hitherto taken place. We must take care that these atrocious acts were not taken advantage of to carry out a policy hostile to England as well as to Turkey. The hon. Member for Glasgow had spoken of there having been no Bulgarian insurrection at all; but they would find that the insurrection not only had not suddenly sprung up, but that for months and months it had been extending; and, dreadful as those atrocities had been, there was no doubt that the Bulgarians would not have been disturbed in the prosperity they were enjoying only 10 months ago if it had not been for the machinations of those persons who were the first to produce the insurrection. He would not say who those persons were, but would leave hon. Members to judge for themselves when they saw the Papers.


The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has complained that there has been a disposition in this and other questions to give them a partizan character; but I am sure there is no disposition in the House to make this in any degree a Party question; and if it has in any degree assumed a Party aspect, I cannot think it has been the fault of, or that it is felt to be so, by hon. Members who sit on this side. It was quite unnecessary for the hon. Gentleman to disclaim for the Government, and for the head of the Government, any possible sympathy with the perpetrators of those outrages. No such idea ever entered the mind of any hon. Gentleman. But what was felt when the first Questions were asked on this subject was, that Her Majesty's Government seemed to be rather unwilling to believe the charges brought against a friendly Power, and too ready to lend credence to the representations of that Power, and did not take sufficiently prompt and energetic measures to ascertain what was the real state of the case, and then to remonstrate with the Government that was responsible for it. From the statement which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bourke) has been able make this evening, and from the contents of the Papers which are to be laid on the Table, I am afraid it is becoming apparent that after all there has been very little exaggeration of these atrocities; and the House must recollect that the despatch which my hon. Friend has read, full as that despatch was of horrible accounts of what had taken place, was not of nearly so late a date as the despatches of The Daily News upon this subject. The despatch the hon. Member read was dated July 22nd, and the accounts which have been sent to The Daily News are dated July 31st and August 3rd. We are most of us tolerably well aware of the responsible character of the gentlemen who are employed by the London newspapers upon missions such as that upon which the correspondent of The Daily News is employed, and if it were necessary I have no doubt there are many hon. Gentleman in this Honse who could say they are personally acquainted with the gentleman who represents The Daily News in Turkey, and who would testify to the general trustworthiness of the statements he may make. It is hardly credible that, while apparently personally accompanying Mr. Baring, this newspaper correspondent should misrepresent the things that he had himself seen. It is quite possible that a newspaper correspondent may be misled by reports that are brought to him; it is quite possible also that he may give an exaggerated colour to those reports; but it is hardly conceivable that a gentleman representing an important and influential English paper would be guilty of any mis-statement, which could be very shortly contradicted, of those things that he had seen with his own eyes. Therefore, Sir, I fear that in the accounts that have been given by the correspondent of The Daily News there is very little, if any, exaggeration whatever, and there is very little reason to hope that there was any reason for exaggerating them. But what can we have more frightful than the statement in the despatch just read to us that Mr. Baring has very little doubt but that 12,000 Bulgarians have perished? We have heard nothing of any severe fighting in Bulgaria. Sir Henry Elliot has not made Her Majesty's Government acquainted with any severe fighting there. If, therefore, Mr. Baring has come to the conclusion that something like 12,000 Bulgarians have perished in the insurrection, is there not reason to fear that the greater part of that number have been massacred in cold blood? There is every excuse for Her Majesty's Government having desired to receive favourably the representations made by a friendly Power, but I think the House has some right to ask for explanations from them as to the reason why they have not hitherto been better informed on this subject. It seems to me, I must say, a remarkable thing, when there has been slaughter of this description—I do not say whether in cold blood or not—in one of the Provinces of Turkey, that no intelligence of these atrocities should have reached Sir Henry Elliot. Reference has been made to despatches which were laid on the Table a short time ago, and I may, perhaps, be allowed to refer to one or two of those despatches. On July 6, writing to Lord Derby, Sir Henry Elliot says that with reference to the excesses committed in the suppression of the insurrection, there had undoubtedly been great excesses, as was inevitable from the nature of the Force which the Porte was obliged to employ, but that it was equally certain that the details which were given, coming as they did almost exclusively from Russian and Bulgarian sources, were so monstrously exaggerated as to deprive them of credit. Now, I can hardly think if Sir Henry Elliot had been in possession of anything like accurate information, such as that contained in Mr. Baring's Report, that these are the terms in which he would have written of those atrocities. On the 14th of July Sir Henry Elliot reported that he had an interview with a Bulgarian, on whom he could rely, who assured him that the accounts published were grossly exaggerated. It does appear to me that Sir Henry Elliot does not possess the means which he ought to possess of being made aware of what is going on in the Provinces of Turkey. If Sir Henry Elliot had had at his disposal more full and trustworthy sources of information, I cannot help thinking a knowledge of these proceedings would sooner have reached his ears, and through him the English Government; and I cannot help thinking that had the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government been in possession of the evidence which ought to have reached him he would not have treated the first Question on this subject in the manner he did. I trust my hon. Friend will endeavour to have these Papers laid on the Table with as little delay as possible, so that it may be in the power of the House, if necessary, to have one more opportunity before it separates of expressing its opinion upon these matters. My hon. Friend said it would be a matter of grave consideration how the influence of the House, the Government, and the people of this country can be brought to bear upon the Turkish Government. It may be a matter for the Government to consider how the influence of the Government and of Parliament is to be brought to bear, but there can be no doubt whatever that the influence of this people has been brought to bear, and will from day to day be brought to bear more strongly upon the Turkish Government. In this way the Turkish Government will know it, and the sooner our Government represent to them the better, that unless some complete defence against these terrible atrocities can be put forward, the Turkish Government will lose as it has lost, and is rapidly daily losing, all traces of the sympathy previously shown it. I do trust that the influence of the Government will be exerted to make known those facts to the Turkish Government. I do not think that even the Turkish Government can consider a fact of this nature an unimportant matter. To be deprived of the sympathy of a country like England, which has always to the best of its ability befriended Turkey, cannot be matter of indifference to the Turkish Government. I do not think it is possible for the Government to speak in too strong terms of the conduct of the Turkish Government, and of the course which it is too clear has been taken during the continuance and in the suppression of this insurrection.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions [August 5] reported.

First Seven Resolutions agreed to.

The Eighth Resolution read a second time.