§ MR. FAWCETT,
in rising to call attention to the Despatches of Lord Derby and Lord Salisbury relating to the recent Conference, and also to the present condition of the people of Bosnia, Bulgaria, and the Herzegovina, and to move,That, in the opinion of this House, any promises of reform made by the Porte, without guarantees for their execution, will be fruitless: that the Powers have a right to demand, in the interests of the peace of Europe, adequate securities for better government in Turkey; and that the misrule which has brought such misery on the Christian subjects of the Porte will continue unless the European Powers obtain some such guarantees for improved administration as they agreed on at the Conference,said, he could assure that House that he had not decided to raise this discussion without due consideration. He was sure that the time had come when, whatever might be the feeling of hon. Members, the country at least expected that the House of Commons should not be silent on the Eastern Question. If they were silent now, what justification was there for the attitude which many of them took up during the autumn; what was the reason for the hundreds and thousands of speeches which were made from every platform of every town and almost every village in England? Why should they be so outspoken in the country and so reticent in the House? He wished unreservedly to say that as long as he had a seat in the English House of Commons he should despise himself if he said one thing on the platform and had not the courage to say it in the House. He spoke with a due sense of responsibility, and he would show that he felt that responsibility by not indulging in one useless word about the past, and when he resumed his seat he hoped there was not a single Member of the Government or any one of their staunch Supporters who would be able to say that he had uttered a single syllable in the spirit of purposeless recrimination. If he wanted any justification for the course he was now pursuing, it was to be found in the language of Lord Derby to a deputation during the last Session. He said—When a thing is settled and a step is irrevocably taken, you complain, and come and tell me what you wanted. If you only had had 396 the courage to tell me what you wanted before the thing was settled, we might have modified our course so as to meet your views.To those who enjoined silence on the Opposition in regard to this question, he would point out that it was impossible to take up a single newspaper without finding the most positive opinions expressed as to the wishes of the people, and when those journals expressed such opinions openly every day, why should it be deemed wrong for the House of Commons to express its views. Yesterday he turned over two or three daily journals, and in one he found it declared that it was the universal opinion of England and the universal wish of the English nation that the English Government should not attempt to obtain a single guarantee for good government in Turkey. He denied that statement altogether, and maintained that the people of England had not spoken of late, because the House of Commons had been sitting, and yet had not given them the guidance they had a right to expect. Yet that statement had, doubtless, been telegraphed to every capital in Europe; and if he and others declared that England would never adopt this craven policy, why should it be left to be thought in other countries that England had shrunk back into a do-nothing policy, and had determined to leave the subjects of Turkey to become the prey of misery and misgovernment? But if, as he believed, the Opposition in that House had most unwisely pursued a policy of forbearance and reticence—against the opinion of the constituencies—how had it been reciprocated? The more they had borne, the more they had to bear. The Government said that the Opposition ought to do nothing in the midst of negotiations. But had the Government done nothing in the midst of negotiations? Before the Protocol was signed, and while it was being considered, what did the Government do, and how did they reciprocate the forbearance of the Opposition? They did what they knew would cause the maximum amount of irritation and annoyance to many hon. Members of that House, and to a vast portion of the English people. Whatever might be the diplomatic forms with which they withdrew their Ambassador from Constantinople, yet in the midst of the negotiations, and before they received the smallest assurance 397 that Turkey was going to carry out one of the reforms necessary to prevent incalculable misery to so many of her subjects; before it was known whether she was not again going to treat our remonstrances with contempt, derision, and scorn, and without, so far as was known, consulting a single European Power with whom we acted in concert, our Government, as representing England, were the first to announce ostentatiously that they were going to send back an Ambassador to Constantinople just as if nothing had happened, and as if Turkey had promised to pursue a policy of conciliation. What impression was that likely to produce in Constantinople? The Turkish Government could only put one interpretation upon it. Last October the English Government issued a mandate that the Turkish officials who had perpetrated the most heinous crimes that had ever disgraced a civilized State should be brought to justice. That, however, had not been done, and those persons were now flaunting their decorations in the streets of Constantinople, and the Turkish Government were still holding out to their protégés the official reward of their infamy. The Turks had treated the English Government with contempt, yet they in a spirit of miserable sub-serviency came forward and said they would send back their Ambassador to Constantinople—that everything should be done to wipe off the past, and that they wished it to be felt from one end of Europe to the other that England could afford to issue a mandate that was disregarded, and was anxious, after all these insults, to renew diplomatic relations with the Power that had thus treated her. If the Opposition continued their policy of reticence and forbearance they would still be treated in the same way, and would richly deserve it. On the previous day there was a spectacle in that House which he hoped would not again soon be repeated. The Chancellor of the Exchequer lectured hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House about certain Questions they put. But if those Questions had not been put last Session, and if the Government had not been pressed for an answer, those deeds which had stirred the indignation of Europe might still have been described as "coffeehouse babble." He trusted that the Opposition, whenever they thought there were such horrors to be exposed, would 398 still use their rights as individual Members and continue to press the Government for information. If, however, they were to adopt the policy of silence and reticence and remain in their present attitude as an Opposition, the best thing that could happen for the Eastern Question would be that the House of Commons should adjourn and meet again when it was settled. They were not only doing no good, but doing positive harm, because it could not be denied that that House neutralized, to a considerable extent, the public opinion of the country. The public were silent, expecting the Members of the House to speak. No one would pretend to say that if that House had not been sitting during the last six weeks there would not have been some expression of opinion on behalf of the English people. They all knew how speedily the foreign policy of the Government had been affected by public opinion, and that the skilful artist did not more quickly mould the clay which under his hands was to assume some form of beauty than did the Government make and adjust its policy in conformity with public opinion, if it were only expressed with sufficient persistency and consistency. When hon. Members read the Blue Books they could trace with certainty and absolute precision the changes of opinion of Her Majesty's Government on the Turkish Question. What difference could be greater than that between the despatches of Lord Derby in May and in November? In May, at the period of the Andrassy Note, he only offered friendly advice; in November—the people having in the meantime expressed their opinion he spoke the language of absolute command, and insisted on certain things being done and on certain reforms being carried out. He did not wish the House to suppose that he rested. his case on any particular atrocities. If nothing had occurred in Turkey but an outbreak of fanatical fury the country ought not to be condemned for it. He wished to say it in no spirit of Party, but everyone in that House and every Englishman had to bear his share of the disgrace of having been in the past negligent and indifferent to the great moral responsibility we had assumed when in our own interests we preserved the Turkish Government to afflict its Christian subjects. A college friend of his, Mr. Sedley 399 Taylor, had gone through the Blue Books to show that 16 or 17 years ago there was in the possession of the House irrefragable evidence of the absolute incapacity of the Turks to conduct the government of that country. On this subject he would speak with strict impartiality, and without shirking one particle of that blame which was justly due to him as an Englishman and as a Member of the Liberal Party. He would therefore quote from Reports of Consuls independently of time or of the circumstances whether a Tory or a Liberal Government was in power. In 1857 a volume of those Reports was laid upon the Table of the House; and he found that as long ago as 1860 one of our Consuls said the Turkish system of taxation sometimes took from people their last shilling, and not unfrequently the amount demanded was three or four times greater than it ought to have been. Another Consul, in 1863, said extortion had been carried to the very uttermost, and often twice or three times more taken than was due. A third Consul in 1867 reported that taxation was put up to public auction, and that the most extortionate tax-gatherer was the official who was certain to receive the most ample public recognition. All those statements were summarized in the Report of the Secretary to the Embassy, Sir Henry D. Barron, who said that the extortionate character of the Turkish taxation had proved ruinous to Turkish agriculture. Whole Provinces, he went on to remark, were first impoverished and then depopulated, and the unfortunate peasants who were subjected to this inhuman and illegal treatment had not the smallest chance of obtaining redress. Then, again, the absolute denial of justice to the Christian population of Turkey was known and ought to have been recognized by Her Majesty's Government long before these Bulgarian atrocities occurred. One Consul reported that Christian evidence was not accepted, and that the law which provided that no man should be imprisoned without trial was wholly disregarded in the case of the Christians. No one could accuse Sir Henry Bulwer of bearing unduly hardly on the Turks, but he said that—Wherever the Turk is sufficiently predominant to be implicitly obeyed, laziness, corruption, extravagance, and penury mark his rule.Now, his object in referring to these 400 statements respecting the condition of Turkey in the past was to show that ever since we guaranteed the existence of Turkey she had lacked the two essentials of good government, without which, it was impossible for a nation to enjoy any happiness or prosperity. The people had not the smallest security that they would be allowed to reap that which they had sown, or that if wronged they would obtain redress. They had allowed the proofs of this state of things to lie on the Table, and no notice had been taken of them by successive Governments or successive Parliaments in this country; but his object was not now to express vain regrets about the past. The moral to be drawn from the story was, that the greater our neglect had been in the past, the greater was now our responsibility with regard to the future, and so much the more impossible was it for us to glide into a do-nothing policy. He thought he had said enough to justify a discussion of this subject at the present time. His object in bringing forward the Resolution certainly was not to attack the Government. ["Oh, oh"] There was nothing in his Resolution which could by the most perverse ingenuity be so construed. The main object he had in view was to bring more clearly before the country the admirable declarations which had been made by Lord Derby and Lord Salisbury in connection with the Conference, and to ask them what had since occurred in Turkey to induce them to change their minds? If the first assertion in his Resolution—namely, that any promises of reform made by the Porte without guarantees would be fruitless—was an attack on the Government, to negative that statement would be a heavy Vote of Censure on Lord Derby and Lord Salisbury. The second statement in his Resolution, to the effect that the Powers had a right to demand adequate securities for the better government of Turkey, had been asserted again and again by those two statesmen; and if, in the last place, it was an attack on the Government to assert that the misrule of the Porte would continue unless the Powers obtained guarantees to the contrary, all he could say was that Lord Derby and other Members of the Government had expressed opinions exactly the opposite to those which the Government and their Supporters now 401 entertained, and he thought he had a right to demand information on those points as to the change that had occurred. Every morning the country was told that this was a momentous crisis in the history of the Eastern Question. For his own part, he feared that it might turn out to be something more—that it would turn out to be a time of great moment in the history of our own country as well. He would go further, indeed, and say that if after all those declarations of the Government, they were now prepared to shrink back into a "do-nothing policy"—if, after all the magnificent language which the Government had held and their expressed determination to bring the perpetrators of the Bulgarian outrages to justice—if, he repeated, after all their high-sounding declarations the Government were now going to shrink back from the attitude which they assumed three months ago, the present time would be something more than a momentous crisis in the history of the Eastern Question; it would be a time which subsequent generations would point to as the period of England's shame and humiliation. He would ask those redoubtable advocates of a "spirited foreign policy" on the Conservative benches into what position they were now going to put themselves? Did the "spirited foreign policy" which they talked so much about three years ago amount to this—that they approved and upheld the Government which, in conjunction with all Europe, shrank back terrified and alarmed before the Ottomans at Constantinople? He knew that some of his Friends were in favour of a policy of absolute nonintervention, and that in their opinion nothing could justify England in showing an interest in the people of another country who were oppressed. They were of opinion that we should hold a position of isolation, and only concern ourselves with matters that affected our own material prosperity. He could understand that, but he never had been, and he hoped he never should be, the advocate of that non-intervention policy. At all events, if we were prepared to adopt the principle of a non-intervention policy, and shelter ourselves under it as a general rule, what the Government themselves had said would absolutely preclude us adopting it with regard to Turkey. Our blood and treasure saved 402 Turkey from destruction, and we could not, if we would, shake off from ourselves the responsibility we had assumed, incurred by the Crimean War. Having gone so far, the Government could not without discredit shrink back on a do-nothing policy. It was not a dignified position for a country like England to be going about as a moral adviser, moral teacher of the world, and then do nothing when the occasion for interference arose. But the Government did more than that at the Conference. If they were now to resort to a non-intervention policy, how could they justify their interference at the Conference and the language they had held there? They had not spoken there words of admonition and advice, but words of command. They had said—" We shall insist on this being done. Such and such things are indispensable, and we are determined that such things shall be done; "and, after using all that tall talk, was it not evident that the louder their language and the more magnificent their protestations had been, the more ignominious now became their retreat, leaving to their fate these oppressed peoples and refusing to lift a finger to mitigate their terrible misery? He would not ask the House to be guided by his own opinions in this matter, as they were worth nothing. He wished to place his own opinion at the lowest possible estimate, because he wished to raise to the highest point the importance of what had been said by Representatives of the Government. If hon. Members opposite attached little weight to what ho had himself to say, they would not fail to attribute due importance to the declarations of that Government to which they so warmly gave their support. Lord Derby on the 20th November said that it was necessary to secure administrative autonomy for Bosnia and Herzegovina and guarantees against the recurrence of maladministration in Bulgaria. Well, if four months ago administrative autonomy was essential for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and guarantees were indispensable against maladministration in Bulgaria, why were they not essential and indispensable now? The Government would no doubt say—"The Ottoman Government has made new professions of reform, new assurance of improvement; "but they were absolutely precluded from maintaining that plea. 403 For what said Lord Derby? He said—The mere announcement of reforms by the Porte cannot be accepted as sufficient;" and he added—"Even if Her Majesty's Government would be disposed to accept such an announcement, no other Power would do so.But there was a stronger declaration than that to quote against Lord Derby, who was constantly represented as the embodiment of common sense and moderation. Lord Derby said—The whole history of the Ottoman Empire since it was admitted into the European concert under the engagements of the Treaty of Paris, has proved that the Porte is unable to guarantee the execution of reforms in the Provinces by Turkish officials, who accept them with reluctance and neglect them with impunity.Why, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich never condemned the Turkish Government in stronger language than that used by the representative of moderation and common sense. Well, if no reliance was to be placed upon Turkish professions of reform before, why was any reliance to be placed upon them now? Again, Lord Derby had absolutely precluded himself from pleading the establishment of an Ottoman Parliament as any ground for giving Europe renewed confidence, because he had said—It is in vain for the Porte to expect that the Powers will be satisfied with the mere general assurances which have already been so often given, and have proved to be so imperfectly executed…. Pacification cannot be attained by Proclamations, and the Powers have a right to demand, in the interest of the peace of Europe, that they shall examine for themselves the measures required for the reform of the administration of the disturbed Provinces, and that adequate security shall be provided for carrying those measures into operation.The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day said that the people of this country did not understand foreign policy. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: No.] Well, that they did not generally; but the people of the whole country would expect to-morrow morning to hoar from the Government, and would look with the utmost interest to the explanation, what single thing had happened with regard to the condition of Turkey since November and December to make the English Government, or any person of common sense, place more reliance on Turkish promises of reform than they 404 could then; or why the peace of Europe was more likely to be maintained now than it was then without anything more reliable than Turkish promises of reform. Had the Government in their possession any information which they had not vouchsafed to the House, which made them, or would make the country, take a more hopeful view of the position of Turkey now than they did before? Every day accounts were received which showed that everything that was bad in Turkey before was becoming rapidly worse. They were told by a gallant young Oxford man, who was then in the country showing the most praiseworthy courage, that thousands of men, women, and children, in the bitterest weather, famished with cold and want, and suffering from typhus and small-pox, were huddled together in caves and clefts of the rock, seeking refuge from that cruel Government which it was admitted would never reform itself. Then, as to Herzegovina, a lady who had for years been engaged with calm patience and heroic courage in alleviating the misery of the distressed people of that Province—Miss Irby—told him (Mr. Fawcett) that tens of thousands of refugees had crossed from Herzegovina to Dalmatia, leaving behind them everything they valued in this life, to escape from the same cruel oppression. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bourke) was obliged himself to admit, in answer to a Question put by his hon. Friend the Member for Frome, that in a peaceful village of Macedonia a band of ruffianly soldiers had recently maltreated the men, outraged the women, and robbed the people of every shilling they had. The Foreign Office was not yet able to say whether the accounts of terrible outrages described in several English newspapers as having occurred at the end of February near Adrianople were true or not; but what the hon. Gentleman said on Tuesday showed that the area of that fearful misery was increasing. The position of those unfortunate people was now most critical. Was that a state of matters which would justify us in shrinking back in a miserably craven spirit from the position we had taken up to a do-nothing policy, leaving everything to take care of itself? The responsibility would attach to every Member of the House, if it permitted this 405 policy of inaction and procrastination to be pursued. Four months ago Lord Derby himself had said that the pacification of Herzegovina and Bosnia was a matter of immediate necessity; and what chance was there of their being pacified now, while such a policy was maintained? The people of those unhappy Provinces would rather die than go back to the brutal tyranny against which they had so heroically struggled. He would again quote Lord Derby, and this he (Mr. Fawcett) thought was the most important quotation that could be found in the whole of these Blue Books. Lord Derby said, on November 20th—The cruelty with which the attempted rising in the Balkans was suppressed has aroused the indignation of the civilized world, and made it equally imperative that the recurrence of such outrages should be adequately guarded against.Our do-nothing policy was at once condemned by that simple declaration. If it was necessary four months ago to obtain adequate security against a recurrence of these abominations, it was a hundred or a thousand times more necessary now. Within the last four or five days accounts appeared in the English newspapers—which had never been contradicted, but he believed, on the contrary, had been confirmed by mercantile men in this country—that large consignments of arms from Belgium and America were constantly arriving in Turkey. What was done with these arms? They were distributed among the Mussulman population, who were styled a national Militia, but who were nothing more than the Bashi-Bazouks who perpetrated the deeds of unspeakable infamy at Batak. Let the House consider what might be the consequence of such a state of things in Turkey. One of the guarantees considered by Lord Salisbury at the Conference as most important was the admission of Christians into the militia and gendarmerie in proportion to their numbers. Without this reform, he said, the Christian would "still be exposed to massacre in times of trouble." It was not done, however; not a single additional Christian was armed, but hundreds and thousands of additional Mussulmans were armed; and if there should be a massacre Her Majesty's Government had been forewarned by one whose judgment they respected, and whose advice they ought not to despise. Lord Salisbury, after confer- 406 ring with the other representatives of European Powers, and hearing what the Turkish officials on the spot had to say in their defence, said corruption prevailed universally among the official classes in Turkey, and it was necessary, in order to protect the people, that some guarantee should be supplied by external pressure. Such was the language that had been used by a Member of Her Majesty's Government, and he did not think it was to the credit of our Ministers that they should say one thing one month, and then do nothing to carry it out the next month. If the Government would only say that they had not altered their opinion, that they believed Turkish promises of reform to be useless, and that something else must be done to secure the object in view, he (Mr. Fawcett) would feel abundantly satisfied, and he believed the country would be abundantly content. Some would say—"England cannot be always concerning herself in the affairs of foreign countries; "but although we could not be perpetually going about the world avenging every wrong which people were suffering, it must be remembered that we were placed in an exceptional position in relation to Turkey, and could not escape from the responsibility we had incurred with regard to the protection of the people of that country. Lord Salisbury, before he left the Conference at Constantinople, used the memorable words—Europe having guaranteed the existence of Turkey for 20 years, cannot now relieve herself of the responsibility which she owes to the people of that country.Were the Government as desirous now, as then, to discharge that duty? England having been the first to recognize that responsibility should be the last to desire to escape from it. Of course, it would be presumptuous for him to attempt to say what were the particular guarantees that should be insisted upon. He had not the requisite official information to enable him to suggest the means; but he would not do the Government the injustice to suppose that when guarantees were demanded, they knew that no guarantees were practicable. He should be satisfied—and he believed the country would be satisfied—with the guarantees demanded by Lord Salisbury; but what he was dissatisfied with was this—that 407 having gone through the empty show I and parade of a Conference, and the Government having used such strong language against Turkey as to say that they would insist upon such and such things being done, yet because Turkey proved obstinate and refused to do anything, they would retire and were prepared to do nothing. That course was calculated not only to do no good, but must inevitably lead to a great deal of harm; for if nothing were done, Turkey would be able to say—"Europe has remonstrated, has advised, and has ordered; I have treated those remonstrances, those counsels, and those orders with contempt; and Europe has retired vanquished and disgraced. I therefore may with impunity persevere in wrongdoing." He would ask those hon. Gentlemen who were once advocates of a "spirited foreign policy" what spirit they thought there was in the policy which they were now prepared to support? He believed the English nation now fully recognized the responsibility which they owed to this unhappy people, and that every account which came from that unhappy country would only make them more determined to act up faithfully to the traditions which they had inherited of not showing a craven spirit, but, having once put their hands to the plough, would not retire until they had done something to prevent Turkey from enjoying continued immunity in wrong doing, from treating their remonstrances with contempt, and laughing to scorn their protestations. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.
Amendment proposed,To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "In the opinion of this House, any promises of reform made by the Porte, without guarantees for their execution, will be fruitless; that the Powers have a right to demand, in the interest of the peace of Europe, adequate securities for better government in Turkey; and that the misrule which has brought such misery on the Christian subjects of the Porte will continue unless the European Powers obtain some such guarantees for improved administration as they agreed on at the Conference,"—(Mr. Fawcett,)—instead thereof.
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir, as the Resolution which has just been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) has recently and rather suddenly assumed a totally unexpected and very different aspect from that which it bore at first, I think it may be convenient that I should state at the earliest period of this debate, in very few words, what views I myself take of the question before the House. As far as I have been able to ascertain, those views are not my own only, but are shared by a good many hon. Gentlemen who sit near me, and whom I have consulted upon the subject. Up to this afternoon, although many of us were aware of the intention of my hon. Friend to obtain in this House an expression of its opinion with respect to the Resolution he has just submitted, it was generally understood that in consequence of the Forms of the House, and in consequence of the number of Resolutions which stood before his on the Paper, it would be impossible for him to challenge the opinion of the House by taking a division. But this afternoon, in consequence of an unexpected and somewhat sudden concurrence of opinion on the part of the Government in the views of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) upon the hours of polling, and the withdrawal by those hon. Members who had a considerable number of Notices of Motion upon the Paper standing before the present Motion of those Motions, the House will be called upon at a later period of the evening, probably to the great surprise of many hon. Members, to declare its opinion upon the issues raised by the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney. Sir, why Her Majesty's Government, if it should be the case, should be so anxious to meet—as it is supposed they are anxious to meet—this Motion, which is founded upon the declarations of its different Members, set forth in various despatches, with a distinct negative I am unable to imagine. It will, however, perhaps be explained by some right hon. Gentleman upon the Treasure Bench who may speak hereafter. I frankly own that I can perfectly understand that they might be unwilling to accept a series of propositions which, although extracted from the despatches of their own Members, might, 409 in their opinion, present only a partial view of the opinions which they collectively entertain; nevertheless, I cannot see, or rather I find it difficult to understand without further explanation why Her Majesty's Government should be so anxious to meet with a direct negative the series of issues raised by the hon. Member. But as to the view which I myself take of this question, I have to say that there is not a great deal in the extremely able speech of the hon. Member for Hackney, to which the House has just listened with so much and with so well-deserved attention, with which I am not most fully able to agree, and, indeed, I may go further and say that as to the terms of the Resolution itself I should be disposed to accept them if the proposal were made at an opportune moment. The only question, however, which I have to consider is whether, as far as I am able to form a judgment, the time at which the hon. Member has thought fit to bring before the House the series of proposals embodied in his Resolution is or is not opportune? No doubt the series of propositions embodied in the Resolution form a declaration of policy, and, as a declaration of policy at this moment may be misconstrued, as well as open to question, I do not precisely see the object of connecting together a series of propositions founded upon those declarations, which the House has never shown any disposition to controvert, and which, as far as I know, Her Majesty's Government are not themselves prepared to disown. I confess that I do not know why, at this particular moment, the hon. Member is so desirous of obtaining an expression of opinion from the House in confirmation of those opinions which, as I have said, are not controverted, either by the House itself or the Government. What I would like to ask the hon. Member is, whether any declaration of policy is or is not particularly required at the present moment. For myself, the answer which presents itself to my mind is, as I have already hinted, that the moment is most inopportune for any such declaration. Why, I ask, should this declaration of policy be made by the House? We have known from the very earliest days of the Session that Her Majesty's Government were not prepared to acquiesce in the policy of enforcing the 410 demands which have been made upon Turkey by means of coercion. We knew that they were not prepared to resort to coercion themselves, neither were they prepared to sanction the use of coercion on the part of others. Hon. Members have known that such was the policy of the Government from a very early period of the Session; and it therefore seems to me that if my hon. Friend or any other hon. Gentleman in this House thought that policy was open to challenge—and I must say that it appeared to me a very grave question whether that policy was or was not open to challenge—still, I think that if such a challenge were to have been given, it ought to have been given at an earlier period of the Session. Why I and those who sit near me have not ventured to offer that challenge is a question upon which I do not think it is necessary for me to enter now, but I shall be perfectly willing upon a fitting opportunity to state the reasons which, as far as I am concerned, have guided me in the course I have pursued in reference to the matter. The hon. Member has stated that Her Majesty's Government, having abandoned and repudiated a policy of coercion, are acting inconsistently with the declarations which they have made on this question, and which he has enumerated in his Resolution. Granted that may be so; but the answer I feel bound to make to my hon. Friend is that I have no authentic information as to the principles upon which Her Majesty's Government are acting at the present moment, and that, therefore, it is utterly impossible for me to agree to a Motion for which, if there be any reason at all, it must simply be this—that the present policy of the Government is inconsistent on this point with the principles they formerly laid down for their own guidance. Of course, if we are to believe all that is stated in certain organs which profess to be the exponents of the policy and to be in the confidence of Her Majesty's Government, no doubt there is a considerable divergence on their part from the principles referred to by my hon. Friend, and no doubt they are proceeding upon a policy totally inconsistent with the previous declarations of Lord Derby and Lord Salisbury. If we are to be guided by what we read in those organs, Her Majesty's Government are ready to trust to the promises of Turkish diplomatists, 411 and it is perfectly true that they are ready to abandon all demands for efficient external guarantees, and that they are indifferent to the misrule which still continues to exist within the Christian Provinces of the Ottoman Empire. But I assert that we have not heard any such confession from Her Majesty's Government themselves, and until the Papers which have been promised us have been laid upon the Table, and until we know from the lips of the Ministry themselves the policy and the views they have been endeavouring to carry into effect during the negotiations which we have been informed are still in progress, I do not think we are justified, and I am certainly not prepared to assert upon any other evidence than that which will be contained in those Papers, that the Government have abandoned the policy they formerly professed and have turned their backs on the principles by which they admitted they were actuated, or that they have adopted views which we condemn. At present, we have but very little definite official knowledge upon the point. We have been told from the opposite bench that negotiations are still in progress, and that the Government have not abandoned the hope of still being able to maintain the European concert. We have been further told that a Protocol has been laid before Her Majesty's Government by the Russian Government, and we have no right to assume—and until I read it in an authentic shape I am not prepared to believe—that the latter Government does not intend to demand an efficient guarantee from Turkey for the better government of her Christian Provinces. Until, therefore, I have the means of knowing what course Her Majesty's Government have been taking in the course of these negotiations, and what views are entertained on the question by the Russian Government, I am not prepared to intervene at this moment and to interrupt the course of these negotiations, by assenting to an abstract proposition such as that contained in the Resolution of the hon. Member, although its principles may have the high sanction of Lord Derby and Lord Salisbury. The time is very near when the present negotiations will be concluded. Whether it will be a prosperous issue or otherwise I know not; but we are told the time is very near at hand when these negotia- 412 tions will be at an end. It seems to me that will be the first time when we shall have reached since the meeting of Parliament the stage upon which it will be fairly open to and incumbent upon the House of Commons to review the whole of the transactions that have taken place. It is true that a certain stage was reached when the Conference separated without attaining any result; but another stage has been reached since the negotiations have been opened. On the very first night of the Session we were told that negotiations were taking place. I do not think it would have been possible for the House to have had a complete and exhaustive discussion upon this subject until a definite stage was reached, and in my opinion this definite stage is now for the first time about to be arrived at. For myself I must say that I am unwilling before that time arrives to fetter myself as to a judgment, which I may or may not be called upon to give, upon the whole of the transactions of the Government by any declaration of policy, premature as I think, such as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will not think it necessary to press the House to divide upon the Motion which he has made. If, however, my hon. Friend persists in pressing his Motion, or if, on the other hand, the House should not permit him to withdraw it, I have no doubt as to the course I shall think it right to take. For the reasons which I have stated, it is not possible for me to support the Motion; but as it contains nothing to which I or, as far as I can understand, any hon. Member of the House can take exception, I should not be able to vote against it, and if a division is taken I shall simply be compelled to abstain from recording my vote at all.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he did not present himself at that moment to the House with a view to unnecessarily protract the debate. On the contrary, he would support the appeal of the noble Lord who had just spoken (the Marquess of Hartington) that the debate should not be enlarged to great and important propositions. The noble Lord was placed in a position of difficulty, and he had extricated himself from that position — considering all the circumstances—with grace. The noble Lord stated at the outset, as an explanation 413 of his view, that the whole subject involved in the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had suddenly presented a totally different aspect. But, if it had not presented that aspect, what would have been the course pursued by several hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Opposition benches? He rather thought that if Her Majesty's Government had not been enabled to give the House an opportunity of expressing its opinion on the subject by a vote, there might have been a desire on the part of certain hon. Members opposite to force on a full discussion of the subject. There would have been a number of very powerful speeches delivered, and it would have been impossible for the House to express its opinion by means of a division. It was therefore, he thought, matter for congratulation that a mode had been found which would allow the House to express its opinion; and he trusted that the hon. Member for Hackney, who had certainly often before shown the courage of his convictions, having thought it his duty to raise the issue, would challenge the opinion of the House; for it would, he thought, have been a most unfortunate circumstance if the question had been brought on without the opportunity of taking a vote. But from the very nature of the circumstances, the Government were almost tongue-tied as to what was going on. They were unable to give a full and entire account of the progress of the negotiations, and hon. Gentlemen opposite could—so far as mere debate went—enjoy an easy opportunity of assailing their proceedings and impugning their policy. That was one reason why he thought it important that a division should be taken on the subject. But there was another reason, and it was this—a division was the only real means whereby, now that this question had been proposed, they would be able to answer the accusations hurled against the Government from certain sections of the Press and from certain platforms, and to assure this country and Europe that there was no considerable difference of opinion in the House as to the policy which Her Majesty's Government had pursued, and that they had confidence in that policy. It was, therefore, on that ground also, he thought, a subject of congratulation that the opportunity of testing opinion by a division had so opportunely 414 occurred. As he had no desire either to prolong or widen the discussion, he should not follow the hon. Member for Hackney into matters of detail; but he would say that when the opportunity promised by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition was afforded the House of challenging the whole policy of the Government and discussing the diplomatic efforts of the last 18 months to secure the peace of Europe, he, for one—and he believed every hon. Member on that side of the House, together with many hon. Members sitting in Opposition—would be ready to maintain and defend what was so often sneered at as "the traditional policy of England." But it was not well that they should enter on that discussion now; and still less was it desirable that anything should be said which could by possibility give offence to any foreign Power. For that reason he should say nothing at all with respect to the traditional policy of Russia towards Turkey. He (Mr. Plunket) felt the responsibility of the moment to be so great that if he or anyone else were now deliberately and unnecessarily to deal with such a topic very grave censure might be incurred by them. There was, however, one part of the speech of the hon. Member for Hackney upon which he must say a few words, because he feared it would create a painful impression when it was represented that the inhabitants of Turkey were, under a bad Government, left without hope of their grievances being redressed, and further, that the Government of this country had determined to abandon them to their fate. Nothing, he contended, could be more unjust than such an accusation of the Government.
§ MR. FAWCETT,
rising to Order, said, that he, so far from accusing the Government, had quoted with approval speeches and despatches made and written by prominent Members of it in reference to this very question.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, it struck him as extraordinary, in that case, that the Motion should have been brought forward, if there was no intention to level accusations against the Government by imputing that they had departed from the policy contained in statements made from time to time by responsible Ministers. The fact that Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Russia—a country which put itself forward as 415 pre-eminently the protector of the suffering subjects of the Porte—were now engaged in diplomatic negotiations in reference to the suffering subjects of the Porte—ought, in his humble view, to be sufficient to induce anyone professing to have the interests of humanity at heart not to raise a controversial question in reference to the whole subject. It was, to say the least of it, inconvenient, not only to have the alterations which were being made in the Protocol discussed, but to have imputations cast upon the policy of the Government. There was still another objection to the Motion which had not been sufficiently dwelt upon. At present, the Great Powers were endeavouring to bring about a policy which, without going the length of coercing the Ottoman Government, should operate in the interests of freedom, and should have the effect of protecting those subjects of the Porte who were indubitably suffering from misgovernment. The only alternative suggested by the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney was one of coercion; but had the hon. Gentleman considered the probable result of adopting a policy of the kind? The result would be that the regular Turkish soldiery would be sent to the frontiers to defend the country from possible invasion, while the Christians would be left face to face with the armed irregular troops strongly exasperated against them, and atrocities with which the world was already sadly familiar, and which had left so melancholy a record on the pages of history, would at once be renewed in an aggravated form. Not only would there be danger of fresh outrages from the adoption of a policy of coercion, but the necessity of keeping up a large army would withdraw the manhood of the country from the ordinary occupations of peaceful life, and at the same time render it almost impossible for the Turkish Government to carry out the reforms they professed a desire to effect in the constitution of the country. He must apologize to the House for having so long trespassed upon its attention; but he was anxious to add his voice to that of the noble Lord opposite in deprecating a discussion of the question at that moment, because he believed it would seriously embarrass the position of the Government, no Member of which could fully and fairly explain to the 416 House all the negotiations which were now taking place, and would run the risk of seriously misleading public opinion at home and abroad. He believed, however, that the result of a division would show to the country and to Europe how little there was of reality in the noisy and constant sneers, accusations, and imputations in reference to the conduct of the Government which had been so freely indulged in.
I do not know, Sir, what effect has been produced by the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Plunket) upon others; but I must confess it has thrown me into a state of much perplexity, and I have undergone greater changes and vicissitudes of mind in listening to it than has ever happened to me before in the course of so short an oration. This, however, is only a description of my own impressions, totally and wholly uninteresting to the House, but let us see whether there is some reason for it. How did the hon. and learned Gentleman begin? He began by greatly deprecating a discussion upon the Eastern Question. He said we are not fit for it; we are not able to enter fully into that wide field, and that it would be extremely inconvenient, besides being mischievous, to do so at a time when the European Powers were unanimously engaged in the endeavour to devise something—which the hon. and learned Gentleman explained to be something which should be intermediate between coercion and non-coercion. Well, Sir, apart from his description of the "something," I quite understand and entirely concur with the hon. and learned Gentleman that this occasion is not a convenient one for a discussion of the larger and more vital parts of the Eastern Question. But that was part one of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. What was part the second? It was this—that although he deprecated and condemned discussion, and had given us strong arguments against it, he rejoiced to think that we were about to have a division. And why did the hon. and learned Gentleman rejoice? Because it would be a division of so insignificant a character that it might perfectly well be taken without any previous discussion? Or was it that my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) was obstinately deter- 417 mined to force his Motion upon the House, and, therefore, that the House should re-act against his dictation, and force him into a division whether ho would or no? I could quite understand either of those reasons; but it was for an exactly opposite reason that a division was to be taken—namely, the enormous importance it was to show that neither in this House nor in the country was there any serious difference of opinion as to the conduct of the Government, and to send forth an unqualified announcement on the part of the House of Commons that either the whole House, or the whole House with an exception of a minority very insignificant, were completely united in supporting the Administration. Well, Sir, I must say that that is the most extraordinary reason for satisfaction in a division and deprecation of a discussion it has ever been my lot to hoar. If we are to take this division, which is to be so unequivocal in its character, speaking to Europe in language so intelligible upon issues so vast and important, why in the world is it that the hon. and learned Gentleman has not given us, instead of apologizing for giving us so little, a great deal more of that eloquence to which we are so often accustomed to listen with pleasure, and why has he not encouraged us to discuss the whole issue in a manner proportioned to its magnitude? So far for the second part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. The first part was to have no discussion, and the second part was, that while we were to have no discussion, we were to have a most important division. And now I come to part the third. Now, what does the hon. and learned Gentleman do with part the third. Having proved conclusively that this time was a most unfit time in his view and judgment—and I think there was much force in what he said—for a discussion on this difficult and vital part of this question, he himself rushed into the middle of that discussion, and I admit advanced no complete argument, no conclusive argument, and no satisfactory argument, but still an argument which he seemed himself to think was satisfactory, complete, and conclusive against using coercion for the purpose of enforcing the opinion of Europe upon Turkey—that is to say, he argued the most vital, the most cen- 418 tral, and the most delicate and difficult points of the whole question, after having deprecated and demonstrated the impropriety of discussion, and having expressed his exultation at having a division without it. He may find justification for this; but ordinary and rustic Members like myself may be pardoned if, under these circumstances, we find ourselves thrown into a state of considerable perplexity. That is the position of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Now, Sir, the hon. and learned Gentleman asked the question, why my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney made his Motion? Well, I have no authority to speak for my hon. Friend. His Notice of Motion was given without any previous knowledge on my part, and when I saw the Notice, rightly or wrongly, I regarded it, viewing the great number of Notices apparently looking to a division that stood on the Paper before it, as a peg, if I may so say, and to use a familiar expression, on which my hon. Friend could hang a speech, and without attempting to construe his motives, for it is not for me to do so, I conceived that he had, in some spirit of courtesy to the House, put down in the form of a Motion that which he must have known he could not bring forward as a Motion, in order to indicate to the House the probable line of his remarks, and to give to those who might be disposed to take part in the discussion an opportunity of judging how far they could coincide in his views or not. As regards the censure to which my hon. Friend has been subjected for having raised a discussion on the question which appears to me to be involved in his Motion, although I could not support the Motion, yet I cannot join in the censure, and for the reasons partly given by himself in his very able speech, and partly for those given by my noble Friend near me in the admirable declaration he has made as to his views and intentions in this case. It is quite true, so far as I know, that there have been no announcements on the part of the Government which have explicitly conveyed a retrocession on their part from the views on which they proceeded in the Conference at Constantinople, and far be it from me, therefore, to charge them with such retrocession; but we have waited for a long time from circumstances which I believe required and justify that ab- 419 stention on our part, and it is impossible for hon. Members of this House not to be influenced to a certain extent by the consistent and coherent language held by the organs, if not by the agents, of the Government with respect to this question. There has been an impression which has widely prevailed, that whereas the essential basis of the Conference at Constantinople was that the promises of reform were paper currency, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Home Secretary well calls them—that the promises of reform and plans of reform are no more than promises and plans of reform—that whereas these were perfectly valueless, guarantees of reform by arrangements which should enlist some other agency than a purely Ottoman agency on behalf of these plans were vital and indispensable. That was the basis of the proceedings at Constantinople. Now, if we consider the uniform tone and tenour of that portion of the Press which supports Her Majesty's Government on this question, and which, in the absence of other evidence, is more or less assumed—not always accurately, but innocently and not unreasonably assumed in some respects to reflect its policy—unquestionably the object of that portion of the Press has been to set aside entirely the question of guarantees and again to remit us to the barren and unprofitable region of promises and plans upon paper. Was it, therefore, Sir, a very unnatural course on the part of my hon. Friend, was it an offence against the rules and proceedings of this House, to make a Motion or propose a Resolution carefully framed and shaped in close conformity with the proceedings and declarations of the Government, and then to use that Resolution as an opportunity of asking the Government whether they would still adhere to the general basis on which they proceeded at the Conference three months ago? I own, Sir, I do not perceive that my hon. Friend can be open to any Parliamentary censure for so doing. And now, Sir, I will state my own reason for agreeing with my noble Friend near me, although, indeed, I might on this part of the case rest almost entirely satisfied with expressing my concurrence with all that fell from him. But I wish to say that no man more heartily agrees with my noble Friend than I do in the self-denying ordinance which a month or 420 five weeks ago he issued on this subject, in which he said that, at whatever disadvantage to ourselves, it was our Parliamentary duty to abstain from a discussion of the vital, central issues of this question in consequence of the announcement made to us, after the Circular of Prince Gortchakoff—that the Powers of Europe were unitedly engaged in an endeavour to effect some kind of settlement of this question. Upon the principles upon which the proceedings of this House have always been regulated, so much was due from us as to the position of the Executive Government, acting in combination with the other Powers of Europe, that until that transaction reached its natural conclusion, it became our clear and manifest duty to be silent. If that was so, then it remains so at the present moment, and therefore I confess I should not have agreed with my hon. Friend if, when he placed this Notice on the Paper, he had done it with the view of obtaining an expression of opinion from the House. I know not what his intentions may be; but if my hon. Friend is forced to take an expression of opinion by not being permitted to withdraw his Motion; if that be the view, all I can say is I cannot comprehend the motives of such a proceeding. It appears to me that its tendency will be to place the House in a false position, because the blow will not be struck—however triumphant that manœuvre or that operation may be on the part of the Government—at my hon. Friend, whom, doubtless, they are not bound to consider—but it will be struck at the matter of his Motion; but the matter of his Motion is of very great importance in itself. It does not attempt to touch what is still more important—namely, whether the will of united Europe should be forced upon Turkey, because it contains this vital and invaluable principle—that without guarantees from without, plans and purposes and schemes and provisions and constitutions of the Turkish Empire, which have been placed before us now for 40 years and more, are so much trash. Not my hon. Friend, but the Government themselves, are disparaged by apparently being made to speak of a hostile division in this House. I have no concern in it one way or the other; but I will take no part in inflicting on them such disparagement, and still less will I consent 421 to vote for a Motion on which it is endeavoured to imprint the character of action hostile to the Government, while I feel it does not raise at all the only point on which I should have wished to join issue with the Government—namely, the question whether the efforts of Europe were to remain mere words, or whether they were to be followed by acts—whether the united power of Europe was to sustain the united judgment, conviction, and demand of Europe. So much for that part of the question, but there are two or three points—one of them, I think, most important, and referred to in the Notice given by my hon. Friend, though not in his Motion—on which I think it very desirable to say a few words to the House. I was responsible on a former occasion for raising a question of considerable importance with respect to the Treaties of the year 1856. On that occasion I confined myself verbally and literally to an argument upon those Treaties, and upon nothing but those Treaties. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, who followed, however, was not able to exercise a similar self-denial, for he went largely into a discussion of the subject of coercion. The debate assumed a discursive character, and most of those who took part in it spoke more or less on the general subject. In consequence of this, the doctrines laid down by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the Treaties of 1856 remained in possession of the field, and I do not intend at present to discuss them at large, but they were in my opinion so singular and perilous that I wish to record in the most decided terms my respectful protest against them, reserving my right to contest them at greater length when a convenient opportunity shall arrive. I do not wish to ascribe to the right lion. Gentleman that which he did not say, and, therefore, I will merely recite what I conceive the principal part of those doctrines to have consisted in. The right hon. Gentleman, if I understood him rightly, would not allow that the rights of Turkey under the Treaty of Paris had lapsed, because he said—" If you hold that the rights of Turkey have lapsed, you must hold also that she is released from her obligations under the Treaty "—that is to say, no Power can forfeit the privileges of a Treaty without being discharged from its obligations. 422 That was the first doctrine. The second doctrine was with regard to the Tripartite Treaty, and if I understood him rightly, the right hon. Gentleman conveyed to the House that, in his judgment, we were not the persons authorized to construe that Treaty for ourselves, and to determine the limits of the obligations arising under it; for, whatever our view of it might be, it might happen that the other parties to the Treaty—namely, Austria and France, might construe it for us, determine on our behalf that the guarantee it contained was still in force, and therefore call upon us to go to war on the side of Turkey in the event of her being assailed by Russia. The third doctrine was this—that if those two Powers did call upon us to go to war in the event of Turkey being attacked by Russia, and if the sentiment of this country was such as to prevent us from going to war, we should then be placed in a humiliating position. Against all these three principles, as being perilous in practice and unwarranted by all that I can learn of international law, I wish on this occasion to record my respectful, but decided protest. So much, Sir, for the question of Treaties. Now, there is another subject to which I wish to refer, and in doing so, I hope I shall not say a word which will in the slightest degree derogate from the principle I have laid down—that we ought to respect the progress of the present negotiations, whether we hope much from them, as some do, or expect little from them, as I do. I wish to say a word on a matter which has been repeatedly under discussion, and which forms an important part of this question. It was touched upon with great force by my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, but I desire to notice it from a different point of view. It is said by many that we have nothing to do with this question, and to my astonishment an hon. Gentleman in this House rose in his place two or three nights ago—not representing himself alone, but cheered by a considerable number of other hon. Members, and conveyed a Notice which was intended to carry a sarcasm of the most trenchant order. He told us that he would ask Her Majesty's Government—I do not know whether the Forms of the House will permit him to put it and I am indifferent on the point—whether they had 423 reason to believe that the Turkish Consuls in this country transmitted to Constantinople news of all brutal outrages committed in England; and that such outrages were chronicled in the journals of Constantinople to prove the lawless state of England and as a fair specimen of the social manners of this country? [" Hear, hear "] The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer says "Hear, hear." [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: I did not say "Hear, hear."] I beg pardon, and retract absolutely with the greatest pleasure; but certainly some other hon. Member did. Well, the meaning of that Notice was this—What have we to do with these outrages in Turkey? And that meaning was conveyed in a manner so fine, so polished, so subtle, that none but a man of genius could have done it. I think it even showed considerable genius to cheer it as some hon. Members did. The plain meaning, reduced to prose, was—"What have we to do with the affairs of Turkey? Have we not enough to do to look after our own?" This is a view which is often urged in discussing the present question, and I think it right to state my opinions shortly on the point. I do not think it is true that the people of this country, are as a general rule, not much disposed to such interference. On the contrary, I think we have as much disposition as other nations to meddle in the affairs of foreign countries, and sometimes without great necessity. But this is a case in which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney pointed out, I think irrefragably, we have not got a sheet of white paper to deal with. This is not a res Integra. We have been in this affair already, and have come under obligations with respect to the interior government of Turkey from which it is impossible for us to escape. We, on this side, who have never professed a "spirited" foreign policy, have felt the stringency of these obligations; but you, with your ''spirited" policy, must feel them all the more keenly. How have these obligations come about? When a deadly conflict was about to arise between Russia and Turkey in 1853, we, together with France, and with the hope of subsequently receiving the aid of Italy, and of Europe—receiving qualified assistance from Austria, had to interpose, and if we had asked ourselves what was likely to be the issue 424 of it, we might have formed a tolerable opinion of the probable result from the lessons of history, which was, that ever since the war which terminated in the Treaty of Kainardji there had been from time to time single-handed wars, or virtually single-handed wars, between Russia and Turkey, and everyone of them resulted in the success of Russia and the disastrous defeat of Turkey. In 1853 Russia was at the height of her fame and power. She had made no military exertion for a length of time, except with regard to Hungary, which I should be the last man to justify, but which contributed greatly to her military prestige. That miserable and dastardly creature called prestige is too much in favour among us. Prestige I do not deny is power, although perhaps a very unsound and illegitimate description of it. She was under the guidance of a Sovereign of immense energy, and there was every likelihood that in the issue of that conflict Turkey would have been crushed. We interposed. We for the first time turned back the tide of Russian war; we for the first time for 100 years, caused Russia to submit to a Treaty, after repeated defeats, with much humiliation, with some loss of territory and more of credit, and with limitations imposed in various respects on her liberty of action. We placed Turkey in that position of rest and independence, so far as external aggression was concerned, which she has enjoyed uninterruptedly for a period of 20 years, and which was secured to her, not by her own courage, by her own energy, or her own wisdom, but by what was done for her by France and England. And, having given to Turkey this lease of peaceful and independent life, having set her up against her own subjects, whom we thus prevented from taking the part of Russia, and who would have been ready in a great degree, but for our intervention, to do so, am I to be told that we can now wash our hands of the way in which Turkey treats those subjects? Those who speak about and uphold a spirited foreign policy may put what construction they please upon these facts; but so long as humble, homely, simple English faith, honour, and morality are revered in this country it will be impossible to decline the consequences of that war of 1853 and the obligations which it has imposed. But then it has been said, 425 and with considerable boldness, that the Crimean War had nothing at all to do with the condition of the Christian subjects of the Porte, that it was a war which was waged simply for our own political purposes, and that the condition of the Christians did not enter into the view of the Powers who waged it. Now, without going fully into voluminous references and citations, I will quote one single document with the view of putting an end, I hope for ever, to that most untrue allegation. Here is a Protocol framed at a solemn moment. The date of it is the 9th of April, 1854, the epoch of the outbreak of the Crimean War. It is a Protocol concluded by England, and Austria, and France, and it will be found in the Eastern Papers 54, No. 8, head 2. In runs thus—The undersigned have at this solemn moment "—I did not know that I was plagiarizing the very words of the document—"declared that their Governments remain united"—not now unite themselves, but at the end and after a long series of negotiations remain united—"in the double object of maintaining the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire, and of consolidating, in an interest so much in conformity with the sentiments of the Sultan, and by every means compatible with his independence and Sovereignty, the civil and religious rights of the Christian subjects of the Porte.I hope, Sir, that after that it will never again be asserted that the question of the Christian subjects of the Porte and all their civil and religious rights, in full conformity, I grant, with the territorial integrity of Turkey and likewise with the independence of the Sultan, was not one of the objects of the Powers who took part in the Crimean War. From that obligation we cannot, in my opinion, escape; but there is another obligation, and it is this—to my astonishment—for really the powers of denial and assertion are marvellous in some individuals, amounting almost to a gift of genius—I have seen it stated over and over again, and by public organs of great respectability, that before the Crimean War there was no title or authority on the part of any Power to interfere on behalf of the Christian subjects of the Porte. Let me now for a moment endeavour to put an end to that delusion also. I might quote by the page from the Correspondence which preceded the Crimean War to show that while we objected to what we thought the undue assertion of the protecting power which 426 Russia claimed under the operation of the Treaty of Kainardji we never denied for a moment the use or possession of such a power—the possession of it, I mean, not as a mere incident of superior force, but as a matter of Treaty right. But I will not quote any political document whatever, I will go back to what is related to us in the pages of the historian, written in the serener atmosphere in which he happily lives. Now, we have, I believe, no classical history of the Ottoman Empire down to the present time. Even Germany, among all her services to literature and politics, has not performed as yet for us that work. But we have a classical history of the kind which comes down to the Treaty of Kainardji. The historian Von Hammer remarks what a very great epoch in the history of Turkey that Treaty was; that down to that time she had never undergone an unbroken series of defeats, and that the very last Treaty concluded before the Treaty of Kainardji—the Treaty of Belgrade—had given her one considerable success, and restored to her, unhappily, one of her ancient conquests. Now, what says Von Hammer? How extraordinary a fate was in reserve for her at this moment when he was compelled to admit for the first time a right of intervention on the part of her Christian subjects, and not only so, but to concede that right of intervention to the Power which from the time it came into the field had been her deadliest and most fatal enemy. I will read you more exactly the words—The Porte recognises on the part of the Empress of Russia the Imperial title, the right of constructing a church at Pera, and the right of protection over the Christian subjects of the Empire and over their churches.
You want the clause of the Treaty. I must give you the original if you please. You shall have the original. The original is in three languages.
There is no German either. When my hon. Friend 427 rises to address the House he can give us the Turkish version, and those may profit by it who can—I am not sorry to say I am not one of them—and the same remark applies to the Arabic. I will, however, read the article in question in the Italian original. I believe it to be an authentic copy, because in the formal recital of the copies of the Treaty the Italian is mentioned first. At any rate, the Italian is original; and Italian was at the time, I believe, the current European language of the Levant, and I will read the article in that language for the hon. Gentleman's satisfaction—La fulgider Porta"—has my hon. Friend ever heard that phrase before?—" promette una forma protezione alle religion Christiana e alle chiesc di quella."The splendid Porte—the shining Porte—the brilliant Porte, promises a firm protection to the Christian religion, and to the Churches of that religion." That is the covenant between Russia and the Porte; and I give you the most unprejudiced and impartial, and, I believe, amongst serious men, a totally undisputed explanation of it. There is a second passage in Von Hammer, who describes this Peace of Kainardji as a peace that declared the Christian nation the most hostile to the Porte to be the protectress of the Moldovs and the Wallachs, and in general of all the people who confess the religion of Christianity and of their churches. So much for the question whether there was before the Crimean War in the hands of a great foreign Power a right of intervention on behalf of the Christian subjects of Turkey. Perhaps you will tell me it was a worthless right. I do not admit the proposition. I will not contest many of the criticisms which are made upon the conduct and policy of Russia. All I wish is to do the same justice to Russia as should be done to any other Power, and with something like shame and sorrow I confess that of the little that has been done for the Christian subjects of Turkey by the Powers of Europe nearly all is due to Russia. Into her motives I do not enter. The extension of her influence over those races I should view with the greatest jealousy and aversion; but to her it is due—not that the Principalities of the Danube owe the final stroke of erecting them into a single State—but to her it is that they owe all the privileges and rights that 428 they had previously obtained. To her it is that in the main it is owing that the gallant efforts of the Servians—mainly confined, after all, to a guerilla warfare—resulted in the establishment of the autonomy or local freedom of Servia. To her in no small degree is owing the establishment of the Kingdom of Greece; for, although I rejoice to think that, through the beneficent action and the splendid genius of Mr. Canning, we are enabled to claim a good share in the honour of that exploit; yet Mr. Canning did not live to see the accomplishment of his work, and another influence came in—the influence of the Duke of Wellington. Great as is the name of the Duke of Wellington, and lasting as will be, I hope, the reverence and gratitude with which his countrymen will cherish his memory, never let a Government do what the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Secretary of State for War did the other night, and attempt to found the fame of the Duke of Wellington on the policy he pursued in the East. It is not through his foreign policy that the great character of the Duke of Wellington is to be established and sustained. It is well known that the Duke of Wellington favoured the Polignac Ministry which brought about the downfall of the Bourbons. It was the Ministry of the Duke of Wellington which condemned the Belgian Revolution, and it was the Ministry of the Duke of Wellington which did all it could to hamper and hem in the work which Mr. Canning was accomplishing for Greece. I believe I speak an undoubted fact when I say that it was either the original proposal or that it was the free wish of the Duke of Wellington that the Kingdom of Greece, when established, should be confined to the Morea. I am sorry, Sir, to be obliged to say this; but, as the right hon. Gentleman said he found in the volume he had cited several passages which he thought to be of such great value, and as he brought in the great and revered name of the Duke of Wellington, he compelled me, much to my regret, to go back upon it. Well, if this were the case of the Christian subjects of the Porte then, what is their case now? There is no Treaty right now. Treaty right now is carefully excluded by the Treaty of Paris. Why is it excluded? We came in and destroyed that Treaty of Kainardji under which these great 429 benefits had been conferred upon the Christians by the Government; and having destroyed that Treaty, out of which sprang the freedom of the Principalities and Servia, and in great part the freedom of Greece, how can we be told by the advocates of "a spirited foreign policy" that we have nothing to do with the condition of these Christian races, and that to ask what is occurring in the Turkish Provinces, and to request that our Consuls should report on the outrages which unhappily nearly every day of the week mark the proceedings of the Turks, would be a proceeding analogous to the Turks desiring their Consuls in Liverpool or in London to report on the wrongs done in the Haymarket or the assaults in Liverpool? I hope I have kept to my pledge in asserting our concern in this matter and in endeavouring to demolish and destroy the opposite doctrine, for that is what I aim at. And now I have one more point to mention, and that is a point to which I attach very great importance. It was also lightly touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, and I had intended to dwell upon it at some length; but, unfortunately, that has happened to me which once happened to Lord Althorp at a crisis in the Committee on the Reform Bill, when Mr. Croker had made an extremely able and ingenious speech for or against a certain borough in Schedule "A." On that occasion his Lordship was obliged to confess that he had lost his papers; but he said he had a most excellent case, and that if the House would only trust him he would pledge himself to bring it forward and prove it on another occasion. The House accordingly did trust him. I am not entitled to make such a demand, and I am thrown upon my memory, and shall be unable to refer to details which otherwise I might have attempted to contradict. Therefore, necessarily I am compelled to be very general in the few remarks I shall make; but I wish to point out to the House, without censuring the Government, or, indeed, anybody—I wish to point out to the House the rather painful position in which we are placed with respect to this great question of the internal condition of the Provinces of the Turkish Empire. From time to time we see—and sometimes we see from what ought to be high authority—assertions that the interior of 430 Turkey is tranquil, and that the subject-races are permitted to go about the ordinary purposes of life without fear or molestation. The other day, to my grief and shame, I saw that assertion boldly made with an English name subscribed to it, and not only with an English name, but the name of one belonging to a class whose honour, credit, and intelligence are dear to us all—I mean the name of an old English naval officer, Hobart Pasha. I refer to his letter, which everyone has seen. There is no question about his meaning. Do not let it be supposed, however, that I accuse him of untruth. Nothing of the sort. I accuse him of that which can be shown against Sir Henry Elliot—namely, of receiving information from the most prejudiced sources without inquiry, and, consequently, committing himself to statements which it is not possible to sustain. We have had an assertion from Hobart Pasha, but do not let it be supposed that I would say one word reflecting on his honour or character. But while Hobart Pasha gives these assurances many of us are under the painful impression that while you are negotiating here—and far be it from me to say that all negotiation should on that ground be precipitated—every month, every week, every day that passes is adding to the long and interminable lists of outrages and horrors which mark with blood and shame the relations of Turkey to her subjects. Never were those relations so unhappily exasperated. Do mot let it be supposed for a moment that the state of things in Turkey now is like the state of things in Turkey ten, or eight, or six, or four, or even two years ago. In the ordinary condition of Turkey, apart from rebellion and convulsion, the very indolence and incompetence, the very lethargy of the Government gave some scope for the freedom and comfort of human life. It is when resistance arises, it is when the tax gatherer's oppressions have become intolerable, it is when the Mahomedan Aga of Bosnia in his pride has assumed extraordinary licence, it is when Pashas have so boldly violated the sanctity of the family that men are goaded into rebellion. Then it is that we arrive at those periods of horror which are never forgotten in the history of mankind. For you may rely upon it that we are now debating, not a question similar to 431 those which commonly occupy the attention of this House, but a question which will leave its mark on the records of the generation in which we live, and will stamp with credit or discredit the name of every man who takes a part it. Do not let us conceal from ourselves this fact. Whether the policy of the Government has been good or bad, whether it has been successful or whether it has been unsuccessful—and not a word will I say on that subject at the present moment—we stand now, if we stop where we are, far worse than we did 18 months ago. You cannot again have such events as the obstinate rebellion in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and still less can you have such events as that poor and feeble attempt at rising in enslaved, terrorized, and dispirited Bulgaria, followed by such deeds as no vocabulary can describe—you cannot suppose it to be possible, as men of the world in any sense, that such events can be and then pass away to leave no trace behind. They leave behind them the trace of a deep and a bitter exasperation, and that exasperation is wound up to a height scarcely credible when such events as the rising in Bulgaria and the suppression of that rising are followed by proceedings on the part of the Turkish Government, which I say boldly are marked at every point, in every principle, in every detail, by the exhibition of the firmest determination to teach their people that the agents of that suppression are not the monsters or the miscreants the world supposes them to be, but are the heroes and the patriots who have saved their country. That is the lesson which the Porte has been teaching her people. I have the materials of proof, and if I do not produce them the House will escape the infliction of a speech of intolerable length. Though I do not wish to be understood as saying that the transactions are on the scale of the period of the late risings, yet I say that similar transactions are going on now. What do we hear of them? We heard of them first authentically in the Parliamentary Recess, after a little had oozed out at the end of last Session, when nine-tenths of the Members had left London. Secondly, we heard of them subsequently in the Blue Books of nearly 1,200 pages. These Blue Books have been, I do not say the pest of my life, but certainly they have 432 disorganized and absorbed my life pretty well in this Session of Parliament, and I believe myself to be one of the very few Members of this House who have thoroughly studied those Blue Books. Few even, in fact, of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench have studied them so closely. They are inaccessible to the world at large. I do not in connection with them wish to pronounce any censure upon the Government, but might there not have been some attempt at a separation of subjects? For the want of such a separation, the search for particular information is almost hopeless, and I myself have spent hours and hours in the attempt to find passages which it is impossible to single out of the mass, and which could not be found at last. Now, how do we stand? In the Blue Books, which were published in February, and which took us some time to master, there are no Consular Reports later, I think, than the end of December, or, possibly, the beginning of January. But we are now coming to the end of March, and officially we know next to nothing about what has happened since the beginning of the year. Such being the facts, some of us on this side of the House who have asked Questions on the subject have been lectured by my right hon. Friend opposite (the Chanceller of the Exchequer) in a manner which is certainly new to me in the course of my Parliamentary experience. Though I fully admit the worry of Parliamentary Questions to a Minister,—and I know something of what it is,—yet, considering the enormous magnitude and interest of this question, which I do not think is even yet fully appreciated, I think it is astonishing that the Questions put have been so few, and I do hope that by an effort some patience will be shown to those who seek information, and who have to seek it piecemeal, though, no doubt, a good deal of trouble may thereby be caused to the Government. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: I only objected to argumentative Questions.] I do not know about argumentative Questions, but I hear very argumentative answers, laying down general doctrines which I should have been very much disposed to dispute there and then had it not been from the reluctance which I felt to interrupt the proceedings of the House by resorting to unusual proceed- 433 ings such as moving the Adjournment of the House. Sir, I say we now know nothing officially since the beginning of January; but in the meantime there is a crisis and a lull in official communication, and from time to time the English newspapers—The Times and The Daily News, at all events—have published harrowing reports which throw much light upon this question, and have attracted a good deal of public attention. The Manchester Guardian also published some most distressing reports. I have been supplied for some time with papers from Constantinople, daily papers, some parts of the contents of which I intended to state particularly to the House. In everyone of these papers there is a list of fresh outrages committed; and these are not outrages committed by Mahomedan villagers, they are outrages committed by the dominant races, they are outrages committed by the appointed police, they are outrages committed by the Kaimakans of the district, who figure as the heroes of these outrages. Is it any wonder that they should so figure? Is it any wonder that they should seek the favour of Constantinople by cruelty and violence? Have they not the knowledge which at length, thanks to Mr. Baring—and I rejoice to refer to his name—and thanks also to Mr. Schuyler, we possess, and which, I am well pleased to state, has been so frankly appropriated by the Foreign Minister on the part of the Government? Do not these Kaimakans know what we know—namely, that everyone who distinguished himself by cruelty, by lust, and by violence in the suppression of the Bulgarian rising received promotion from Constantinople, while the gallant and good men, followers of the Prophet though they be—and all the more credit is due to them for it—the gallant and good men who made a stand for justice and mercy in the midst of these terrible proceedings were in every instance passed over or dismissed? Such is the lesson conveyed to these Kaimakans and others, showing how to prosper there. They tread and travel in the road of promotion when they make themselves distinguished for favouring the wrong-doers and insulting the oppressed, for indulging their own passions at the expense of those whom it is their duty to protect, and for teaching to all who are near them the pestilent and dreadful lesson that the business of the 434 Ottoman Government is to make its subjects miserable. Every day adds to this long list. Murders, rapes, robberies by Circassians, by Turks, countenanced, shared, consummated by the Ministers of Justice, by the local Governors—these are the allegations that appear. Are they allegations bearing upon them the marks of triviality? On the contrary, the names are given, the places are given, the particulars are given; and glad indeed should I be to communicate the whole of them to Her Majesty's Government if it were their wish to see them. I do not much like to name the newspaper from which I quote, because it is a newspaper which has already been suppressed for too great freedom in publishing intelligence at Constantinople, and I am afraid of again bringing down upon it a similar fate. But now I wish to point out a further consideration. Even this is not all. Besides the horrors and dreadful crimes which are multiplied from day to day, and the disorganization which continues, and continues, be it observed, in Bulgaria, a Province full of Regular troops, because there is the frontier, on which, above all, the Regular troops are massed—not only have we all these horrors, but we have a menace of what is to come. From time to time we hear it said—" If pressure be exercised upon Turkey, or if the sword be drawn, you are then to expect new massacres, in comparison with which all former horrors will grow pale." Sir, I know not what degree of credit is to be given to this intimation. I have not the means which Her Majesty's Government possesses of forming a judgment upon it. But I cannot altogether disregard it, and I feel that there is here incumbent upon us some responsibility with respect to which I desire to make a respectful appeal to Her Majesty's Government. In the month of May last, after the excitement produced at Salonica, Sir Henry Elliot, with great wisdom asked for, and the Government, with equal propriety, took means such as they thought the best for the protection of the lives and property of the subject-races, so far as they could be accessible, against outbursts of fanaticism and cruelty. Now, I feel that we may be approaching a crisis far more serious than the murders at Salonica. It may be that during the interval of 10 days for which this House will be prac- 435 tically in abeyance, the crisis of these negotiations will be reached and the sword may be drawn. I can believe, and am disposed to believe, though I have no authority and no special means of judgment, that the fear of Russian armies will do much in those countries which they are likely soon to reach. But clearly such considerations do not touch Bulgaria, the district south of the Balkans, which have been the scene of the greatest horrors, where Mussulman fanaticism is wound up to the highest pitch, and where, unhappily, instead of being animated by the firm resolution to do or die in self-defence, which these horrors would have produced in countries which had not been for four centuries under Mussulman rule, after and since and in consequence of these horrors, the spirit of the people is depressed to such a point that the power and faculty and even the desire for self-defence seem almost wholly to have vanished. Now, I refer as a possibility to the contingency that, with the best intentions and the wisest measures, the Government may fail in averting a crisis. If a crisis comes, I ask what is to happen to these unfortunate people in what is sometimes called Southern Bulgaria—Bulgaria south of the Balkans? I wish to know whether the Government are considering this matter. I do not ask for detailed explanations, but will they take this matter into consideration and adopt such measures as they may think best adapted to the case? They will recollect that, whatever may have been thought of their subsequent proceedings for raising the squadron at Besika Bay to its final and enormous extension of strength, there was but one sentiment about the propriety of their action in making provision for the defenceless and dangerous position of the Christians. We have now reason to suppose, as my hon. Friend said, that in that matter we have not advanced, but have gone back. I want to know, as a matter of fact, is this distribution of arms among the Mahomedan population going on, or is it not? I am not pressing for an answer at this moment; but on that subject I feel that Her Majesty's Government should be prepared with information. I read today in a Constantinople newspaper of the 14th or 15th of March a paragraph, not got up for European publications, 436 but quoted from a Turkish newspaper which appears to be of some authority, in which reference is made to 20,000 rifles of a particular character which had, it is said, been sent into Bosnia, and their pattern and the facility of handling them were immensely approved by the Mahomedans of Bosnia. These facts are most significant, and they entail upon us a considerable responsibility. From that responsibility we cannot hope to escape. I am not now speaking of responsibility as to the political situation. I dismiss from my mind altogether the subject of coercion or no coercion, of guarantees or no guarantees; but I say that for life and property in the circumstances which we have had so large a share in producing—for the life, property, and female honour of the subject-races we have great concern; and whatever we can do it is our duty to do in defence of them. Sir, I have kept the House a long time. I will now close my remarks by saying that I hope it is understood that I am not pressing my right hon. Friend or any other Member of the Government for explanations at the present moment, but I shall be very glad to know what they can tell us with regard to this most important question—whether the general distribution of arms among the Mahomedan population has been going on and has been largely extended during the last few weeks or months, and whether Her Majesty's Government will use every means, with all the power that may be at their disposal, for the protection of the lives; the property, and the honour of the subject-races in European Turkey under the peculiar circumstances of exasperation and danger with which they appear to be threatened.
§ MR. BUTLER-JOHNSTONE
said, he did not wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) when he alluded to him, though he seemed to be drawing an inference not justified by the facts of the case. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would allow him to read, in French, Article VII. of the Treaty of Koutschouc Kainardji—La Sublime Porte promet de protéger constamment la religion Chrétienne et ses églises; et aussi elle permet aux Ministres de la Cour Impériale de Russie de faire dans toutes les occasions des représentations taut en faveur de la nouvelle église a Constantinople que pour ceux qui la desservent.
said, it might be for the convenience of his hon. Friend if he (Mr. Gladstone) were to say that he had not got the whole Article at hand; but if his hon. Friend would refer to it, he would find that the two portions of that Article were as clearly as possible separated in the Italian original. The stipulations were perfectly distinct.
§ MR. BUTLER-JOHNSTONE
hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see that when he interrupted him he did not do so irrelevantly. That was no new question between the right hon. Gentleman and himself; it was an old question, and had been debated over and over again whenever the Treaty rights of the Christian subjects of the Porte became a subject of discussion. There was no doubt that the Russians endeavoured to build up their protectorate of the Christian subjects of Turkey on the Treaty of Koutschouc Kainardji. The Turkish Government was the only Government which protested against the greatest crime of the last century, the Partition of Poland, and perhaps the difficulties and dangers which surrounded us now would never have occurred if the other Powers of Europe had, like the Porte, protested against the violation of rights which was committed at that time. The right hon. Gentleman, with all that power and genius which characterized him, had put himself at the head of a movement which was a total and entire reversal of the whole policy of England relative to that great question of the East. How was he (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) to characterize it? Some characterized it as a humanitarian policy; the right hon. Gentleman himself characterized it as a spirited foreign policy. He made his compliments to the right hon. Gentleman. A spirited foreign policy was one which would tack on England to the tail of the three great military Powers of Europe, perhaps with the assistance of France and Italy, to coerce Turkey. That was the spirited foreign policy which found favour with the right hon. Gentleman. What was the policy to which the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) pointed? It was also that England should join the other great European Powers in coercing Turkey. But this policy of coercion was one which involved gigantic issues which could not 438 be considered too closely or too much. Did anybody believe that if England were to join the other Powers of Europe in coercing the Porte, the Porte would yield to that coercion? If any persons in England or in Europe believed it, all he (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) could say was that they were counting without their host. He had no right to speak with greater authority than any other hon. Member of that House; but he would say he believed most sincerely there was a time at Constantinople when the Government of the Porte did think that England was going to join the other Powers in coercing them, and, in the face of all that, they took the resolution absolutely to fight to the last. For his own part, he would say—"Thank God, there was one nation in Europe that was not going to sign away its independence in the face of any threats or menaces whatever." There was a time when England herself was menaced by coalitions, when the Northern Powers, taking advantage of England being engaged in fighting with the whole of Europe, after a death struggle with her revolted Colonies, menaced her very existence. What did English statesmen do at that time? They defied the armed coalition of Europe, and he should be sorry to think that spirit had departed from the country. There was one point especially to which he wished to refer. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think it was a monstrous thing for the Government of Turkey to put rifles into the hands of the Mussulman population of Bosnia. But what was this Mussulman population? The mountainous part of Bosnia was inhabited by a race which, like the Croatians with regard to Austria, guarded a military frontier. And were we to be told that the Turkish Government, when they heard of the massing of troops on their frontier, and that the three Empires of the North were likely to menace Turkish independence, were to sit down calmly and not to put arms into the hands of their people? If Ottoman statesmen were to do so, they would deserve impeachment for having neglected the first duty of a nation to maintain its independence and existence. He did not know what the Government might say, but if he were speaking for them, he would tell the right hon. Gentleman that the Porte had put arms into the 439 hands of its population, and it was perfectly right in doing so. Now, suppose we united to coerce Turkey, what would happen? Would Turkey be left alone to fight her enemies? Was it to be supposed that the Mussulmans throughout the world would not come to the aid of the Ottoman nation? The hon. Member for the Kirkcaldy Burghs (Sir George Campbell) rather pooh-poohed the idea that the Mussulman population of India took an interest in the fate of Turkey. But people equally well-informed took quite an opposite view. Last year a distinguished Mussulman statesman took a view exactly the opposite to that of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy. The other day there was a discussion at the United Service Institution, and a Mussulman gentleman from India who was studying the law in this country, made a speech in which he declared that if the Ottoman Government were menaced by Europe, it might reckon upon a good deal of assistance from Mussulmans throughout the world. He might quote another Mussulman authority—a gentleman well known in this country, who said—In case of a religious war we hold it to be our duty to go to the assistance of the Ottoman Government. If the European nations were to coalesce to impose their will on the Ottoman Government, then we should all feel it our bounden duty to come to the assistance of the Sublime Porte.It seemed to him that when persons spoke so glibly of Europe coalescing to coerce Turkey, they should ask themselves whether this country in the 19th century was going to repeat the policy and scenes of the Crusades? No one who calmly looked at the matter could think it at all likely; and yet a great deal of what they had heard had been uttered in the spirit of the Crusades. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had certainly explained away certain words he had uttered in the autumn. He then spoke of "driving the Turks out of Europe," but he had since explained that ho did not mean by that expression the whole Turkish race, but only the governing class. The Turks had very pardonably mistaken his meaning, for words should be interpreted not only according to their grammatical sense, but also with reference to their context; and when the right hon. Gen- 440 tleman described them in his pamphlet as an "anti-human race," and as "wild beasts," it was scarcely to be wondered that they put the construction upon those words they had. The right hon. Gentleman was a man of great courage; but on this occasion he did not appear to have the courage of his opinions. If he (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) thought that the Turks were such savage, wild beasts, he should be in favour of bodily driving them out of Europe. The Turks were justified by the context in reading the right hon. Gentleman's speech in the way they had done. He was not sorry the right hon. Gentleman had used the words, for they had given rise to a noble national sentiment as shadowed forth in the mot of that eminent Turkish statesman, Midhat Pasha—We were 600 men when we came into Europe, and we shall be only 600 men when we leave it; the rest of us will be in the graves of our forefathers.This mot was repeated for a whole week in Constantinople as the embodiment in a short and pregnant form of the determination of a whole people to die rather than give up their independence. Why should the Turks be coerced in this manner? It was said all their promises were waste paper—for 20 years they had given promises to do this, that, and the other, and we could put no more faith in their promises; we must now have guarantees. This argument would be valid if it read thus:—For 20 years you have broken your promises; the conditions now are the same, therefore we cannot trust you. But were the conditions the same as during the last 20 years? The conditions were not the same, and therefore the argument had broken down. For 20 years what had been the condition of Turkey? The Constitution of the Ottoman Empire was certainly the most democratic in the whole world. There was no aristocracy. There was no Parliament. The great Council of the nation was abolished by the assistance and with the sanction of the European Powers. There was nothing left to Turkey but an autocratic Government with all kinds of maladministration and corruption, under which both Mussulmans and Christians suffered alike, and if anything the Mussulman suffered more than the Christian. But where was the right hon. Gentleman the 441 Member for Greenwich during the last 20 years? Time after time appeals were made to the right hon. Gentleman himself to speak through the English Ambassador at Constantinople and to obtain from the Sultan better government for the miserable populations of Turkey. But in vain were these appeals made. At last, when the Turkish people could suffer no more, they deposed their Sultan. Not only so, but they brought forward a Constitution. A word about that Constitution. It was not generous to sneer at the idea of the Turkish paper Constitution. A paper Constitution! It must be a paper Constitution at first—even that signed on the plain of Runnymede was only a paper Constitution at the commencement. The Turkish Constitution proclaimed the other day had been for 10 years before the Ottoman people. It was drawn up by the patrotic Party at Constantinople, and pressed on the English Embassy to be forced on the Sultan, and when they got a chance the people compelled the Sultan to promulgate it. Nothing was more dangerous than to make a prediction, yet he ventured to prophecy that this paper Constitution was likely to be a success if not suddenly put a stop to by violence from without. He would go further. It was not unlikely that in 10 or 20 years the only two constitutional countries in the world would be England and Turkey. It was not sufficient to promulgate a Constitution, it was indispensable that the people should have a constitutional temper, and he believed England and Turkey were the only two nations in the world that had the spirit of wise compromise and patriotism. When we talked of guarantees we overlooked the two that we had—namely, the spirit of reform which had impelled the Ottoman people to remove one Sovereign, and to elect another and also the Constitution. When we talked of coercive measures as necessary, because Turkey had hitherto failed to carry out reforms, the argument fell to the ground, because the conditions were not now the same that they had been for 20 years, but were absolutely changed. We heard a great deal about Treaty obligations, and the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) had tried to prove to the House that the Treaties relating to the defence of Turkey were nudum pactum; it was said there was no consideration 442 on the one side, and, therefore, no obligation on the other. One, however, would really think that we entered into these engagements for the benefit of Turkey. The question involved in them was the existence of the Ottoman Empire, though he would venture upon another prophecy, and that was that the Ottoman Empire would outlast many other Empires of Europe; aye, many old and historic Empires would disappear before the Ottoman Empire was shaken. But he believed these Treaties were made for the benefit of England, and, when we discussed the Eastern Question, he wished he could discuss it upon the single and simple issue—what are, not only the right and the duty, but what are the interests of the British Empire? That seemed to him to be the real question, and what the old statesmen of England believed was, that the Ottoman Empire was necessary to the British Empire; they looked upon the territory of the Ottoman Empire as part of the British Empire; and he believed they were right in thinking that the Turkish Army was the vanguard of the British Army; that the Turkish Fleet was the Eastern Fleet of the British Navy; that in destroying the Turkish Army and in sinking the Turkish Fleet, we were destroying part of our own Army and sinking part of our own Fleet; and that when these were destroyed we should see face to face two great Empires, one of which stretched from the Pole to the Black Sea, and the other from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean. In the debate on the Central Asian Question he believed it was the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy who spoke as wishing to see the day when England and Russia would shake hands across the Himalayas.
§ MR. BUTLER-JOHNSTONE
I feel sure the hon. Gentleman did make the remark, although it may have escaped his memory.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
I assure the lion. Member I never said such a thing, as I never even thought of it.
§ MR. BUTLER - JOHNSTONE
I should be sorry to misrepresent the hon. Gentleman; but I fancy he often says things without thinking. ["Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
reminded the hon. Member for Canterbury that in that 443 statement he had transgressed the Rules of debate.
§ MR. BUTLER-JOHNSTONE
said, then in that ease he would retract what he had said with pleasure. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy would believe him when he said he had no wish to say anything that was offensive to him. Many persons might think and say so; but he was certain, however, that the day would never come when England and Russia would shake hands across the Himalayas. They would not do so for two reasons; first, the practice of shaking hands was not an Eastern practice. The practice in the East was to embrace, and he dared say that one day England and Russia would embrace; but when they did, it would be in the spirit of the French poet—J'embrace mon rival, mais c'est pour létrangler.
§ MR. RYLANDS
I am sure the House must have been interested and amused by the speech just delivered by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Butler-Johnstone). It was an advantage to hear from an hon. Gentleman of such marked ability an expression of true Turkish feeling; and not only had the hon. Gentleman expressed the feelings of the Turks, but he had indulged in prophecies of such a bold character that if we had any reason to suppose him to be inspired, I have no doubt his speech would furnish materials for discussion by many learned writers. I do not feel disposed, however, to sympathise with the hon. Gentleman's strong Turkish proclivities, or to believe in his prophecies, and therefore I shall not allow myself to be diverted from the course which I intended to take in continuing this debate. I am one of those Members who have felt it their duty to wade through the Blue Books, and I have attempted carefully to follow out through the involved and badly arranged despatches the different transactions which have taken place from time to time during the course of events in connection with the Eastern Question. I must confess that I have read the Blue Books with a feeling of considerable humiliation and disappointment. I remember how at the end of last summer the feelings of the people of this country were excited, and their sympathies aroused, by the intelligence of the atrocities committed on the Christian in- 444 habitants of the Turkish Provinces. The conscience of England was aroused by a sense of the responsibility incurred by this country in the maintenance of the Turkish rule by British arms 24 years ago, and the feelings of our common humanity were deeply moved. That great outburst led to the strong expression of public opinion that it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to take some steps for securing the amelioration of the condition of the Christian subjects of the Porte, and for the punishment of the perpetrators of those dreadful outrages. The Government have expressed the desire to carry out the wishes of the people of this country on both those points. This determination of the Government has been announced both in the Blue Books and in the speeches of the Ministers of the Crown made in both Houses of Parliament. But if the Government have really been sincere in this declaration of their intentions, it is humiliating to see how signally they have failed to carry them out. But, it may be asked, has it been the policy of the Government to carry out the strongly-expressed desires of the country? For my own part, I have grave doubts if they were really serious in the profession of their desire to carry out those objects. If such have been their real intentions and policy, then I say the Blue Books display a succession of disappointments and humiliations entailed upon them. They have been utterly impotent in securing from the Porte the fulfilment of its promises for the amelioration of the condition of its Christian subjects, and they have failed in obtaining the punishment of the perpetrators of the massacres. I cannot suppose that if the Government were really in earnest in seeking to carry out the expressed wishes of the English people they would have allowed Sir Henry Elliot to remain at Constantinople, or that it should even be contemplated to send him back. Let the House remember the circumstances under which information of the atrocities in Bulgaria reached this country. The intelligence was first communicated by The Daily News towards the end of June, and the horror and indignation which rapidly extended through the country found expression in both Houses of Parliament in Questions put to Her Majesty's Ministers with reference to those shocking 445 events. The Government were in perfect ignorance. For weeks after the period of the massacres the Ministers were unable to give any reliable information—the only information they professed to have received tended to discredit the accounts given in The Daily News, and to palliate the conduct of the Turks. It was felt at the time throughout the country that it was a great scandal that with our numerous and highly-paid Staff of Diplomatic and Consular Agents in Constantinople and the Turkish Provinces, the Government could possibly have been left in ignorance of such momentous occurrences. That they were so left in ignorance is now no longer denied. Lord Beaconsfield on the 22nd of February, in "another place," said—There is not the slightest doubt that Her Majesty's Government was ill-served on that occasion—they did not receive the information they ought to have received." [3 Hansard, ccxxxii. 801.]Who was to blame? There had been an attempt to throw the blame upon wrong parties. At the close of last Session the Prime Minister, with his usual inaccuracy of statement, insinuated that the want of information had arisen in consequence of the penurious action of the House of Commons in cutting down the number of Consuls in Turkey upon the recommendation of the Select Committee on Diplomatic and Consular Services. This insinuation of the Prime Minister formed the text for similar imputations by the writers in Conservative papers during the Parliamentary Recess, and as I was an active Member of the Diplomatic Committee, I was charged with being the great culprit in stopping the means of obtaining intelligence from Turkey. But it turns out, and has been so admitted by Lord Beaconsfield, that there have been no Consuls withdrawn from European Turkey, so that was not the reason why the Government were "badly served," and "did not receive the information they ought to have received." The real fact was, that Sir Henry Elliot failed to communicate to the Foreign Office information which reached him from reliable sources respecting the Bulgarian massacres, whilst, at the same time, his despatches contain many statements derived from Turkish authorities calculated to mislead Her Majesty's Government. I do not make 446 the slightest charge against Sir Henry Elliot's honour or veracity. No doubt Sir Henry Elliot is a truthful and honourable Gentleman, but his prepossessions in favour of maintaining the independence, the integrity, and what he calls in one of his despatches the "dignity" of the Turkish Empire, blinded his eyes and closed his ears to any evidence to the detriment of the Porte, and to the intelligence which was brought to him from all quarters. Lord Derby on June 28th, transmitted to Sir Henry Elliot a copy of the statements which appeared in The Daily News of June 21st, and on July 13th Lord Derby, under pressure of increasing excitement in Parliament and in the country, sent a telegram to Sir Henry Elliot with reference to further statements in The Daily News. This was two months after the principal massacres had occurred, but still our Ambassador at Constantinople had no reliable information. He, however, was not without information from Turkish sources, which he always showed himself ready to accept; and therefore, on July 14th, he telegraphed to Lord Derby that—There can be no doubt the instigators of the insurrection began by committing atrocities on Mussulmans, and burning Bulgarian villages, with the view of creating exasperation between the two races. In this they succeeded, and when the Bashi-Bazouks and Circassians were called out they indulged in every sort of misconduct.In other words, our Ambassador represented the acts of the Bashi-Bazouks as mere reprisals for similar outrages which had been committed upon the Mussulman population. On the very same day in which Sir Henry Elliot communicated his inability to furnish reliable information as to the massacres, he was careful to send a telegraphic message containing intelligence of a very different character. It was to the following effect—Volunteers are offering themselves in considerable numbers for service against the Servians; and the Christians, both in the capital and the Provinces, are enrolling themselves. It is proposed to give the Volunteer corps a flag on which the Crescent and the Cross are displayed side by side.This was, no doubt, a very interesting piece of intelligence to send with the swiftness of the telegraph to Her Majesty's Government, because, if true, it furnished so striking a contradiction of 447 the stories of the conduct of the Porte towards its Christian subjects. The idea was that the Sultan's rule was so good and beneficent that all classes of his subjects gladly rallied together in its support, and that Christians and Mussulmans, united in brotherly love, were ready to march against the enemies of Turkey displaying the standard of the Crescent and the Cross. Of course, in a very short time it was discovered that this piece of important intelligence was a cock-and-bull story, swallowed by Sir Henry Elliot, and intended to impose upon the British public. I have said that Sir Henry Elliot wilfully shut his eyes and ears and would not believe any accounts prejudicial to the Porte. He makes an excuse in his despatches that we had no Consul in Turkey nearer to the scene of the disturbances than Adrianople. But other Governments had Consuls at Philippopolis if we had not. There were no less than four Consuls of foreign Powers stationed there—Austrian, French, Greek, and Russian Consuls—and the Reports of these agents were regularly transmitted to the Ministers of their respective Governments at Constantinople. It has been stated on authority that these Reports were regularly communicated to our Ambassador. I called the attention of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs the other day to the despatch of Prince Gortchakoff to Count Schouvaloff, under date of July 28th, in which occurs the following important passage. Prince Gortchakoff says—Our acting Consul at Philippopolis informs us, under date of July 20, that the English Commission charged with an inquiry into the Bulgarian massacres has returned to that town after visiting a great number of villages. The data it has collected entirely confirm the facts mentioned in the reports of our agent, and which were always communicated by General Ignatieff to his colleagues, including the English ambassador.We have corroborative evidence showing that Sir Henry Elliot did receive information as to what was going on in Bulgaria from the Representatives of the other Powers. The correspondent of The Daily News, whose statements have been so fully substantiated in other cases, affirms positively that M. Matalas, the Greek Consul at Philippopolis, who is no friend to the Bulgarians, reported almost daily the progress of the massacres. He reported the affair of Batak 448 about May 20, and this Report a short time afterwards was shown by the Greek Minister at Constantinople to Sir Henry Elliot. When I asked the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs about these statements, he referred me to a despatch of the date of May 7th, as the only one containing accounts of information obtained by Sir Henry Elliot from his Colleagues, and whilst constant communication with his Colleagues from day to day was admitted, Sir Henry Elliot could not remember dates or particulars of information so received with reference to the events in Bulgaria. It is a remarkable circumstance that in this despatch of May 7th, Sir Henry Elliot is careful to communicate opinions of the Austrian and Russian Ambassadors based upon intelligence of events prior to the principal outrages and which tended to depreciate the importance of those events. Upon July 6th, Sir Henry Elliot makes another communication of intelligence received from a foreign Minister, and in his despatch of that date he states that—The Greek Minister has called upon me, and spoke of a report he had received from his Consul at Philippopolis, where there is no British Consular agent. The Report mentioned a marked improvement in the state of public security, and the disarming of the Mussulmans was being proceeded with. He said the Governor was acting extremely well.Here, again, is a Report favourable to the Turks, and between the date of May 7th and the date of July 6th, two eventful months during which all the outrages had occurred, there are no allusions in Sir Henry Elliot's despatches to Reports communicated to him by the Foreign Ministers at Constantinople. We are asked to believe that no such Reports were furnished. Why, the Consuls at Philippopolis could see the actual flames of burning villages, and must have received daily the most heartrending accounts of what was occurring in the neighbouring districts of Bulgaria, and is it not incredible that they should fail to report such serious occurrences to the Representatives of their Governments at Constantinople? Unquestionably they did so report, and it is impossible to imagine that the Ambassadors in their daily intercourse with Sir Henry Elliot would not call his attention to such alarming events. The only explanation is that he did not believe, or would not 449 believe, information reaching him from such sources. But he was not without other evidence of a reliable character We had a Vice Consul at Bourgas, who, under date of June 14th, sent to Sir Henry Elliot a most remarkable despatch, containing intelligence of a dreadful massacre at Boyadjik. It is as follows, and I have to ask for it the careful attention of the House:—Vice Consul Brophy to Sir H. Elliot. Bourgas, June 14, 1876.Sir,—The account of the affair of Boyadjik, which I had the honour of sending to your Excellency in my Report of the 4th June, was, I regret to say, incorrect. The truth about the destruction of the above village is as follows:—The inhabitants of the neighbouring villages had fled to Boyadjik with their flocks, herds, and other property, from fear of the Bashi-Bazouks and Circassians. Some of the former went to the village and demanded that all the arms should be given up—the invariable prelude to robbery and plunder. The Bulgarians then refused to surrender their weapons to the Bashi-Bazouks, who reported to Aschim Effendi, the Caimakam of Yamboli; the latter, acting under orders from Slimnia, went to Boyadjik, which is in the Cam of Slimnia (not, as I erroneously stated, in that of Yamboli), and was told by the peasants that they were ready to give up their arms to the authorities of their own district.Upon this answer being telegraphed to Slimnia, Chefket Pasha, commanding the troops there, was sent to Boyadjik with a large force of Bashi-Bazouks and some artillerymen.When he arrived on the spot the chief men of the village went out to meet him and threw themselves at his feet, protesting that they had no bad feeling against the Government, and that they had assembled only to protect themselves, their families, and their property against the attacks of Circassians and Bashi-Bazouks; Chefket Pasha then asked if they would give up their arms, and the deputation replied in the affirmative, saying that they would return to the village and collect them: they went back with this intention, but as soon as they were within the village the order to storm it was given by Chefket Pasha, and a general massacre commenced, the Bulgarians offering no resistance, and allowing themselves—to use the words of a Mussulman who was present—to be slaughtered like sheep.Of some two thousand men, women, and children, only about fifty escaped; flocks, herds, and all other property of the villagers were carried off by the murderers."—[Turkey, No. 1 (1877), p. 116.]Now I am quite aware that the importance of this occurrence has been sought to be put aside by the assertion that the account of the numbers massacred was exaggerated. Probably, to some extent this was the case; but after making every deduction on that score there can 450 be no doubt that several hundreds of the inhabitants of Boyadjik—men, women, and children—fell under the ruthless bombardment conducted by the notorious Chefket Pasha. Let hon. Members recollect that this intelligence was communicated to Sir Henry Elliot by the British Vice Consul at Bourgas on June 14th, but for some reason or other this despatch was suppressed. It ought to have appeared amongst the Papers presented last Session, but it was only communicated to Lord Derby on the 31st August. Still it was in the possession of Sir Henry Elliot at the middle of June, and yet he persisted in maintaining for some time afterwards that he was in possession of no reliable information justifying the accounts of The Daily News correspondents. Considering how Sir Henry Elliot had kept back important information and had shut his eyes to atrocities which the Turks had perpetrated, or only regarded them as acts of retaliation for similar injuries previously received, it is not to be supposed that the representations made to the Porte by an Ambassador with those opinions and feelings, would be likely to have any great effect. The same strain runs through all the despatches in which he reports his interviews with the Sultan or the Grand Vizier. He states on July 6 that he had—Never seen one of the Turkish Ministers without insisting upon the necessity of at once putting an end to these excesses, and their answer has been invariably the same. They deny that the cruelties have been upon a scale at all approaching to what they are represented; they point out that the horrors committed on Turkish women and children are passed over in silence; and they plead that they had no alternative but to use the irregular force at their disposal to put down an unprovoked insurrection fomented from abroad, the authors of which are responsible for the sufferings which have been entailed upon both Christians and Mahomedans."—[Turkey, No. 3 (1876) p. 370.]These were the pleas of the Turkish Ministers, and there is not one of them that does not find support and justification in Sir Henry Elliot's own despatches. It is idle, therefore, to say that representations to the Porte conducted by an Ambassador who accepted the pleas urged in justification of the outrages could be other than weak and ineffectual. The Porte was kept fully informed by its agents of all the particulars connected with what was called 451 the "insurrection" in Bulgaria; but Sir Henry Elliot always assumed, in his intercourse with the Turkish Government, that that Government did not know of those atrocities or it would have sought to prevent them, and the result of his whole course of conduct had been to bring humiliation upon this country, because it was a deep humiliation to find our demands for the protection of the Christians of Turkey all disregarded, and the perpetrators of those massacres, instead of being punished, actually honoured and rewarded. I now wish to call the attention of the House to an important despatch, which, acting under the pressure of public opinion, Lord Derby telegraphed to Sir Henry Elliot, on August 22nd, for his guidance as to the language to be held by him to the Porte. Lord Derby stated that the universal feeling of indignation in all classes of English society had risen to such a pitch—That in the extreme case of Russia declaring war against Turkey Her Majesty's Government would find it practically impossible to interfere in defence of the Ottoman Empire.This important despatch was, as I have already said, telegraphed by Lord Derby on the 22nd August, although it was not sent in writing until the 5th September, and appears in the Blue Book under the latter date. It was, however, in possession of Sir Henry Elliot at the time he wrote his despatch to Lord Derby on September 4th, which may be taken as a reply to the telegraphic instructions of August 22nd. Let it be remembered that Lord Derby, for Sir Henry Elliot's express guidance, had announced a change of policy on the part of Her Majesty's Government in their relationship with the Ottoman Empire. This change of policy was avowedly in consequence of the "universal feeling of indignation in all classes of English society" caused by the Turkish atrocities; but how does Sir Henry Elliot meet this change of policy and the circumstances which had led to it? Simply with contempt. He claims, in his reply to Lord Derby, to have upheld the interests of Great Britain to the utmost of his power; and observes—That those interests are deeply engaged in preventing the disruption of the Turkish Empire is a conviction which I share in common with the most eminent statesmen who have directed our foreign policy, but which appears now to be 452 abandoned by shallow politicians or persons who have allowed their feelings of revolted humanity to make them forget the capital interests involved in the question. We may, and must, feel indignant at the needless and monstrous severity with which the Bulgarian insurrection was put down, but the necessity which exists for England to prevent changes from occurring here which would be most detrimental to ourselves, is not affected by the question whether it was 10,000 or 20,000 persons who perished in the suppression. We have been upholding what we know to be a semi-civilised nation, liable under certain circumstances to be carried into fearful excesses; but the fact of this having just now been strikingly brought home to us all cannot be a sufficient reason for abandoning a policy which is the only one that can be followed with a due regard to our own interests."—[Turkey, No. 1 (1877), p. 197.]That was a distinct expression of Sir Henry Elliot's views and of the lines of his policy, and gives the key-note to all his actions. It matters nothing to him whether 10,000 or 20,000 persons are massacred, and the same arguments would apply to the destruction of 100,000 or 250,000 wretched Bulgarians, or the desolation of entire Turkish Provinces—in any event our regard to British interests must still force us into an unholy alliance with the Ottoman Porte to use the strength of Great Britain to prop up a cruel and wicked despotism. I am quite sure that the people of this country do not share in this view of British interests, and I suppose that at the time of writing his despatch Lord Derby did not take that view. He was ready to give up the British policy of backing up Turkey because he yielded to the "universal feeling of indignation"—but Sir Henry Elliot retorts upon his Chief that to abandon that policy of maintaining the Turkish Empire was the act of "shallow politicians" whose "feelings of revolted humanity" carried away their judgment. Why was not Sir Henry Elliot recalled after that despatch? If Lord Derby were sincere in the instructions he sent to Sir Henry Elliot he could not have allowed them to be treated with contempt by our Ambassador at Constantinople. It is quite clear that an Ambassador with such views was not fit to remain at the Porte, if our Government seriously desired the Turks to yield to their representations. But there was a potent reason for not recalling Sir Henry Elliot. About the time of his writing the despatch to which I have called attention, the Prime Minister made a 453 remarkable speech at Aylesbury, in which he avowed that the policy of the Government was "not backed by the country; "and following exactly the same strain as that pursued by Sir Henry Elliot, he talked with something like contempt of the "people of England carried away by enthusiastic feeling," which was "impolitic and based on erroneous data," and which led them to overlook and disregard "permanent British interests." If, therefore, the Government had recalled Sir Henry Elliot, they must also have deposed Lord Beaconsfield. There are, in fact, two lines in the policy of the Government: one line gives the appearance of yielding to public opinion, the other persists in maintaining the old position as regards the maintenance of the Turkish power. No single utterance of Lord Beaconsfield, either in or out of Parliament, has practically altered his position of last year:—there is, in fact, no proof that Lord Beaconsfield has changed ono iota of his policy; but the Government have changed their policy. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members say "No;" but was not the sending of Lord Salisbury to the Conference a change of policy? ["No!"] Why, it was perfectly inconsistent with the policy of the absolute independence of Turkey which was maintained by Lord Derby a few months ago. The reason for sending Lord Salisbury to Constantinople was in accordance with the wishes of the people of this country that he should join with the other Powers in putting Turkey into leading strings. Her Majesty's Government did change their policy by sending Lord Salisbury to Constantinople, and they changed it apparently in obedience to public opinion. There was the greatest satisfaction throughout the country when the Mission of Lord Salisbury was announced. He was known to be a statesman of high position, of independent judgment, and of great force of character. Ho went out with the greatest expectation on the part of the people of this country that he would succeed. But he failed; and he has since told us that he did not expect to succeed. Why did he not expect to be successful? I think I can tell you why. The fact was, that whilst the Government appeared to yield to public opinion by the Mission of Lord Salisbury, the head of the Government never varied from 454 his line of resisting public opinion. Lord Beaconsfield took care to send Lord Salisbury to Constantinople ticketed with the Mansion House speech, in which he strongly insisted upon British honour and British interests being involved in the maintenance of our Treaties with Turkey; and, at the same time, he shook his fist in the face of the Emperor of Russia by the taunt that England was not like Russia, because England could carry on three campaigns. Had not that speech a serious effect upon the Conference at Constantinople? Was it not intended as an impediment to Lord Salisbury's success? Clearly it was calculated to stiffen the backs of the Turks, and to create distrust in the minds of the Foreign Ambassadors at Constantinople. Nor was Lord Beaconsfield's speech the only impediment to Lord Salisbury's success. Had the Government been cordial in support of Lord Salisbury they ought to have withdrawn Sir Henry Elliot, who at every important point opposed and obstructed the policy of Lord Salisbury at Constantinople. It has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) that the two great points insisted upon by Lord Salisbury were the establishment of the autonomy of the Turkish Provinces of Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Bulgaria, and the protection of the Christian population by effectual guarantees, but to both these proposals Sir Henry Elliot offered a continued opposition. He claimed for the whole of the Empire administrative reform on the ground of the danger of granting separate measures to the disturbed Provinces, just what the Turkish Government insisted upon, no doubt with his approval and contrary to Lord Salisbury's proposal. In the same way, whilst Lord Salisbury treated the promises of the Porte as worthless without effectual guarantees, Sir Henry Elliot was always ready to give credit to the protestations of the Turkish Government, and to accept the grand new Constitution proclaimed by the Sultan as a remedy for all the ills of the Empire. I fear that owing to the tenacious determination of the head of the Government—the master-mind of the Cabinet—we have drifted again into the old position we occupied at the time of the Andrassy Note, and that the Christians 455 of Turkey will be left to continue in a most miserable condition, exposed to cruel injustice and continued outrages.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
said, the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Rylands) reminded him very much of the trumpet of Baron Munchausen, which, when a thaw came, emitted a tune that had been played upon it while it was in a frozen state. It was evident that the speech which he delivered to-night was a speech prepared for the Motion of which he had given Notice, and it was scarcely fair that charges should be made against Sir Henry Elliot without some previous Notice. Unfortunately, hon. Members on the Government side had never before been brought face to face with the Opposition on the Eastern Question. Every Motion last Session came from his side of the House. His hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Mr. Bruce) raised the question, and an Amendment on his Motion was moved by the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. Forsyth). Towards the end of the Session the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Ashley) brought forward a Motion with respect to the atrocities; but on all those occasions the benches opposite were conspicuous for their emptiness, and he did not remember that the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) addressed the House at all on the subject. But now it was fortunate for hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side that this position had been changed. During the Recess the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) clamoured with his Friends for an autumn Session, as they had done with reference to the purchase of the Suez Canal shares, and with exactly the same result. We were told at a later period that the Eastern Question was a Party question, and that unless the Government obeyed the dictates of the right hon. Gentleman they would be sent to the winds and the wall. Well, the Government had not undergone that operation, and he thought it was a very good thing that those on the Ministerial side were enabled to-night to defend their little Bosphorus from the attacks of the Russians opposite. The House had heard a good deal as to the effects which had been brought about by the policy of the Foreign Office. The hon. Member for Hackney, with his usual fairness, 456 said he would quote passages from the despatches without reference to what Government was in power when they were written; but he forgot to mention that, from the finish of the Crimean War in 1856 down to 1874, the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his Friends, with the exception of three and a-half years, were perpetually in power. He had a right, then, to ask whether they were not to a great extent responsible for the present state of things in Turkey? The hon. Member for Hackney had told them that he should not have founded this Motion upon what he termed the passing act of the atrocities had they not been the culminating horror of Turkish misrule which had gone before. The right hon. Member for Greenwich had of late repeatedly, and in a pamphlet, said that we could not afford to give Turkey another year's respite. But what said the right hon. Gentleman at the conclusion of the Peace in 1856? He said—I apprehend, what we sought to secure by the war was not the settlement of any question regarding the internal government of Turkey. Great Britain and France have not yet been able to afford a complete solution to the problem which has existed for 600 or 700 years. It was hardly a century and a-half ago when a Mahomedan Empire carried pillage, carnage, and terror throughout Europe; and now, since it has ceased to be an object of fear, it has become the principal cause of anxiety and solicitude to Europe. The juxtaposition of a people professing the Mahomedan religion with a rising Christian population having adverse and conflicting influences presents difficulties which are not to be overcome by certain diplomatists at certain hours and in a certain place. It will be the work and care of many generations—if oven then they were successful—to bring that state of things to a happy and prosperous conclusion. But there was another danger—the danger of the encroachment upon, and the absorption of, Turkey by Russia which would bring upon Europe evils not less formidable than those which already existed. Such a danger to the peace, liberties, and privileges of all Europe we were called upon absolutely to resist by all the means in our power."—[3 Hansard, cxlii. 95–6.]
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
replied that the quotation would be found in Hansard, under the date of the 6th of May, 1856. On the last occasion when this question was before the House he had referred to a certain despatch, which was written by the Government of which the right hon. Member for Greenwich 457 was a distinguished Member. He would not trouble the House by again referring to it; but he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he did not in 1867, during the insurrection in Crete, make a statement almost analogous to those contained in that despatch with regard to the population of that island? [Mr. GLADSTONE: Never.] It appeared from Mr. Hillary Skinner's book that atrocities of the same character as those perpetrated in Bulgaria had been committed in Crete—the women had been outraged, villages had been destroyed, and prisoners had been hacked to death with knives. But what said the right hon. Gentleman in reference to that matter. The right hon. Gentleman said—If there has been a prompt and faithful performance of the stipulations of what is known as the Hatti-Humayoun of 1856, I am not able —after reading those papers—to affirm that they show it ….. I would not venture to say one word which would have the effect of encouraging the people of Crete to throw off the Ottoman rule…. I agree in the opinion that he (Lord Stanley) rightly determined to observe and to enforce the laws of neutrality, even though at the expense of the calls of mere humanity. The calls of mere humanity it was his duty to repress, and he has repressed them." —1–3 Hansard, clxxxv. 442–3–4.]
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
replied that that expression was contained in a speech of the right hon. Gentleman delivered on the 15th of February, 1867. At that time the right hon. Gentleman was, as now, in opposition, but the Government then, unfortunately, was very weak. The Liberals expecting to come into power daily, the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends being, therefore, very differently situated from what they were at present, were obliged to be extremely guarded in their language. There were no pamphlets published at that time by the right hon. Gentleman, nor any meeting on Plumstead Common, but the right hon. Gentleman agreed with what Lord Stanley had done, and said that the rights of Turkey must be protected, even at the expense of humanity. That was in 1867. Then what happened in 1871. He (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) did not complain of what took place at that time. But Lord Enfield had stated that the condition of the Christians in the Turkish Provinces had been 458 greatly improved, and that they were better satisfied than they had been for a considerable time with the Turkish rule. That was the reason why, on the denunciation by Russia of the Black Sea Treaty in 1870-1, Her Majesty's late Government made the proposal that the Powers parties to the Treaty of March 30, 1856, guaranteeing the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire, should assume the obligations of the Tripartite Treaty of April 15, 1856, between England, France, and Austria, declaring that any infraction of the stipulations of the former Treaty should be considered a casus belli. Surely there could not have been such a very great difference between Turkey in 1871 and Turkey in 1875. If there was, that was the result of what was done in 1871. In no way had hon. Members opposite during their long tenure of office shown an anxiety to put a stop to the evil government in the Balkan Provinces, to which Her Majesty's Government had proved themselves desirous of putting an end. But in looking at this question we had to consider not only Turkey, but our present position with regard to the Mahomedan races. Turkey had a population of 52,000,000, of whom 34,000,000 were Mahomedans who were perfectly prepared to defend their interests notwithstanding any possible coalition of Europe against Turkey. He should like to know what the hon. Member for Hackney meant by putting external pressure on Turkey? Moral pressure to the greatest possible extent had been applied and it had failed, and if any other was to be brought to bear it must be physical. Well, if we were to try and force the Turks to yield what they thought they ought not to concede, a religious war would be aroused, the end and ultimate scope of which no human mind could predict. He had been lately travelling in Egypt, and he found that while the whole of the Egyptian officers were disinclined to fight against the Abyssinians, although they were Christians, yet the moment they heard that the Head of the Faithful was in danger, the number of volunteers had been so great that it had been necessary to put a stop to their offers. It was impossible to go into the Mediterranean without seeing how intimately this country was mixed up with Mediterranean interests. The ships of the Peninsular 459 and Oriental Company were manned to a large extent by Lascars and Mahomedans, and British vessels, carrying pilgrims to Mecca or troops to govern Mahomedan subjects in India travelled through a passage which was bordered by countries peopled by Mahomedans. One practical result of re-distributing Slavonic power would be to blot Austria from the map of Europe; a fact which was well known to Austrian statesmen, and was abundantly shown in the dread they always showed of Slavonic movements. Beyond that, the free navigation of the Danube would cease, if Russia held both banks of the river. Germany, with her extensive Russian frontier and seaboard and large Slav population, would be materially injured by an extension of the movement to which he referred; while what, he would ask, lay between Russia and India if Turkey was done away with? European Turkey and Asia Minor now separated Russia and India, but with Turkey destroyed there would be nothing to prevent Russia marching upon Egypt, or obtaining possession of the Euphrates Valley. Great, therefore, would be the responsibility of any Minister who fired the train of gunpowder which underlaid this branch of European politics. We had rendered good service to Turkey and to civilization by the assembling of the Conference at Constantinople, by showing the Porte that Europe was determined to prevent a recurrence of those disasters which had taken place, and to place the Christians on a par with their fellow-subjects, but he (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) protested against this country entering into hostilities the extent of which could not be conceived. We had advised Turkey that the Treaties which existed were for her benefit and for the benefit of Europe, and if she would not listen to that advice, we should disregard those Treaties, excepting as regarded our interests and the peace of Europe. Those interests and that European peace he believed were now, as much as they were in 1856, in danger, if Russia obtained possession of Turkey.
§ COLONEL MURE
(who spoke amid continued interruption) said, that having been in Servia last autumn, he considered the Servians had been very hardly dealt with and much maligned. The hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) had argued from the fact that when the Egyptian troops 460 were glad to come forward to fight for Islam, that the name of Islam had a sort of magical influence among Mahomedan races, and that if we were to adopt the policy in Europe of protecting Christians against Mussulmans we should endanger our power in India. The hon. Member put forward the proposition that England, in order to strengthen herself in India, should show weakness in Europe; and that to rule with the sword in India she must give way to the Mussulman power in Europe. No Government in the world ever ruled with the sword which had to evolve strength out of weakness; and to his mind there could be nothing more intolerable than to have the Government of India writing to the Home Government in England not to interfere with the Mussulman misrule of Christians in Europe, because it would weaken their hands in India. Now, with regard both to the policy of Servia and the conduct of the Servians, he had no hesitation in saying that they had been signally and cruelly misunderstood. When the disturbances in Bosnia and Herzegovina broke out the Servian Ministry for a long period pursued a peaceful policy, until the feeling of the population became so strong that the Minister was obliged to withdraw, and he was replaced by a Minister in favour of war. In his speech at Aylesbury Lord Beaconsfield used very painful expressions with regard to Servia. There was no doubt that Servia broke Treaty; but, as the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) observed on a former occasion, there were occasions when conscience and patriotism were superior to the engagements of Governments, and it was absurd to say that she was ungrateful, for no man, woman, or child in Europe had any cause for gratitude to the Porte. What Servia desired was to obtain some sort of autonomy for the miserable population of Bosnia, and the necessity of an administrative autonomy Lord Derby had himself admitted. Was there anything so very wicked in the desire of Servia that Bosnia should obtain the same advantages as she (Servia) had? There was another point. Consul Holmes had declared that there was no sympathy between the Servians and the Bosnians. But all who had travelled in these countries knew the contrary, and he (Colonel Mure) could testify that the miserable Bosnians who in crowds were 461 obliged to fly from their homes were received with the utmost kindness mid hospitality by the Servians. The Servian Prime Ministers, Ristics and Marinovitza, were both Bosnians. There was another point. The Servians had been accused of cowardice, but General Tchernayeff had assured him (Colonel Mure) that the Regular troops had behaved in the most gallant manner, and that the conduct of the Artillery in particular had been beyond praise. The Prime Minister, in his speech at Aylesbury, had spoken of mischief done by secret societies, and it was true that those countries were honeycombed with secret societies; but the cause of their existence was the abominable misgovernment of Turkey.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I really think the time has come when we may bring this discussion to a close. I could not but regret the manner in which the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down (Colonel Mure) was received. At the same time, I am bound to say that I was not altogether surprised at it. Certainly, it did not arise from any indisposition to give him that patient hearing to which he is so well entitled, and was not at all due either to a want of interest in the subject, or to the manner in which he brought it forward. Everybody in this House, I am certain, listens to the hon. and gallant Gentleman when he addresses us, as he always does, on subjects about which he is well qualified to speak, with respect and attention. But if he encountered some impatience, and perhaps some want of attention, I think he must set it down to this, that it was the feeling of the House—I am sure, at all events, it must be the feeling of a large proportion of the House—that the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was not altogether cognate to the subject before us. I am far from blaming him for having introduced into the discussion a topic on which he was anxious to speak, but which was remote from that which the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had brought before us, because we have been told upon a very high authority—upon the authority of one who is better qualified to speak of what is the practice and the meaning of Motions in this House than almost any other among us—that this Motion of the 462 hon. Member for Hackney ought not to have been regarded as a Motion substantial in itself, but rather as a peg upon which a speech was to be hung; and certainly, if it was a peg upon which one speech might be hung, we cannot be surprised that it should be a peg upon which many speeches might be bung. When we find that the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, interesting and magnificent as it was as a piece of oratory, was yet in many parts far wide from the particular points to which the hon. Member for Hackney directed our attention, we cannot be surprised that other hon. Gentlemen should take advantage of the lesson and follow so brilliant an example. Considering the enormous extent of the group of questions which go under the name of the Eastern Question, if every hon. Member who takes an interest in any part of the subject is to consider himself at liberty to get up upon this Motion and speak on the points in which he takes an especial interest, it is hard to see any prospect of an end to our talking at all. The Easter Recess we may lose without much compunction; but I can see no limit to the discussion if it is to proceed on the principles on which some hon. Gentlemen seem disposed to conduct it. I am anxious that we should not lose ourselves on the sands, but that we should endeavour to follow this river of the Amendment of the hon. Member for. Hackney to its termination, and see what it is which. he asks the House to affirm, and the reasons why we think it necessary to oppose his Motion. The noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Hartington), who spoke early in the evening after the hon. Gentleman, made what may be called an appeal to the House which I thought was exceedingly statesmanlike and reasonable. I understood the noble Lord, without desiring to express an opinion on the topics which were raised by the hon. Gentleman, or upon the past conduct of the Government, which might be open in his view to question, did not regard the present as an opportune moment to enter upon such a discussion as that to which we were invited. Coming from a Member occupying the distinguished and responsible position of the noble Lord, and backed, as it doubtless is, by many hon. Members who are not in the same position as to 463 responsibility, it might, it seems to me, have been very well acknowledged that the Motion was inopportune, and that the House might well proceed to other business. But such does not appear to have been the opinion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, for he, rising almost immediately after the noble Lord—with the simple intervention of the short speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin, who had put the same point as the noble Lord did—criticized, with all that oratorical skill which he possesses above other hon. Members, the speech of my hon. and learned Friend, and launched us into a discussion on every possible topic connected with this question. His speech was, in its way, one of the highest interest, and, it is needless to say, of the highest eloquence; but when he came to the end of it, I must own I felt disposed to ask myself—I do not know what other hon. Members thought—what can all this tend to? It seemed to me that he was much in the position of a man who had been opium eating, and enjoying those splendid visions which that drug produces; but who in the end found that all these visions had disappeared, leaving little except a headache behind. No practical result, no political gain, has been effected; for what is it that we really have before us? The noble Lord at the beginning of the evening expressed his surprise that the Government seemed very anxious to put a direct negative on the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney. He said he did not know why we should desire to take that course with respect to propositions selected from the despatches of the Government itself. Remarks to the same effect were made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, and he even went the length of introducing into his speech a word, the use of which I have heard rather resented in this House—I mean the word "manœuvring." I do not wish to take up a word of that sort; but I venture to think that if there was any manœuvring in the matter it was not ours, but must be applicable to the other side of the House. Some rather peculiar circumstances have occurred with regard to this Motion. It is true the hon. Member for Hackney put his innocent Resolution—this mere peg to hang a speech upon—on the Paper with a great many other Notices 464 in front of it. And what has happened since, and what were those Notices? There was one Motion, of which Notice was given some time since by the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), which it might or might not be desirable to discuss at the present time, and which was one of a very serious and important character. Another Motion was put down in the name of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), connected with the same subject. I am not sure that there was not a third also relating to it; but, at all events, there were other Notices emanating from hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. Now, it certainly seemed when the hon. Member for Hackney put down his Motion that it was not very likely to come on this evening; but somehow or other, for what I thought exceedingly good reasons, the hon. Member for Liskeard first gave Notice that he would defer his Motion, as one which it was not at the present moment opportune to bring forward. The hon. Member for Burnley kept his Notico on the Paper a good deal longer, and we supposed it would be proceeded with, but somehow or another—I will not use the word "manœuvring "—the Motions which stood in front of that of the hon. Member for Hackney disappeared, and disappeared late, for the hon. Member for Burnley, I believe, took his off the Paper only yesterday. We were, however, told in the most emphatic manner by the hon. Member for Hackney that he would not follow such example, and that he would persevere in bringing his Motion forward. And quite right too. If the hon. Member attaches importance to it, it is quite right he should bring it forward. The only thing I complain of is that we are continually harassed and tortured by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who will not give us battle; and although I am at issue with the hon. Member for Hackney in the greater part of his views, I rejoice to find in him an opponent ready to do so, although it seems to me to be somewhat unfortunate that he should have chosen this time for his Motion. But then, says somebody—I do not remember whom—" you have deprived us of the protection of the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea, we did not think that we should be called upon to divide; it is a very awkward thing to divide, and you have treated us very unfairly." What 465 was it they expected us to do? In the first place, they thought it would be necessary for us to vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for Chelsea. But why should we vote against it if, on full consideration, we thought we ought not to vote against it? Why were we, merely for the sake of shutting out the hon. Member for Hackney from a division, to oppose a Motion which we were not prepared to object to? Then we were told of another thing. When the Motion of the hon. Member for Chelsea had been accepted, it became a question whether we should put up Supply or not. It is true we went out of our way to set up Supply in order to enable the hon. Member for Hackney to go on with his Motion, but what would have been said if we had not done so? Should we not have been accused of shrinking from the attack, and could we as men who we hope possess some of that quality which the hon. and gallant Member for Renfrewshire (Colonel Mure) says is so dear to every Englishman, have ventured to take a course which would have us convicted of political cowardice? Then, says the noble Lord—" Why are you so anxious to meet with a direct negative this Motion which embodies your own sentiments?" As a matter of form, we do not meet it with a direct negative. We simply move that the Speaker do leave the Chair and pass over the hon. Member's Resolution. But I do not wish to meet the hon. Member on this technical ground. We do meet the hon. Member with a direct negative. We do not meet with a direct negative the proposition which he has extracted from the despatches of my noble Friend Lord Derby and my noble Friend Lord Salisbury, and other declarations of the Government; but we do meet with a direct negative the speech of the hon. Member and the false construction he has put upon our speeches. What we meet with a direct negative are two things: the first is the censure which the hon. Member wishes to pass on the past conduct of the Government. He may say it is not intended for a censure. I do not know whether it is; but I know quite well that if we accepted it we should be submitting to a Vote of Censure. In the second place, we meet also with a direct negative the taunts which the hon. Member has thought it right to throw not only against Her Majesty's 466 Government, not only against this country, but against the whole of Europe for not plunging Europe and the world into a fatal and sanguinary conflict. This is the sort of charge which we meet with a direct negative. The hon. Member for Hackney—I took down his words—charged Her Majesty's Government with this—that she, "in conjunction with all Europe, shrinks back, terrified and alarmed, before the Ottoman Empire." What is the meaning of this sort of language? What does it all point to? My right hon. Friend in his eloquent speech impresses upon us the duty of this country to watch over the interests of the oppressed subjects of the Porte, and to protest against and try to stop the atrocities which the Christians in that country are subjected to. We do not dispute for a moment our obligation to do all we can for that purpose, and we say that we are doing all we can, and that we are doing it in the way which we believe to be the best to take. And are we to be told that because the line we take is not the line of force and coercion, we are shrinking back horrified before the power, forsooth, of the Ottoman Empire? The idea is perfectly ridiculous. It is worse than ridiculous. If it were only ridiculous, it would not very much signify; but it is mischievous. It is mischievous at any time; but it is doubly and trebly mischievous at such a moment as this—at a moment when we are engaged, in concert with other Powers, in endeavouring to bring about a solution of this great question which shall be at once satisfactory and feasible. At such a moment ought it to be thrown in our teeth, and in the teeth of Europe, that if we do not have recourse to measures of coercion and bloody war we are shrinking back terrified before the Ottoman Empire?
§ MR. FAWCETT
I rise to Order. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is perfectly entitled to draw what conclusion he likes from my remarks, but I never employed a syllable which justifies him in saying what he is saying.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I was quoting the hon. Member's own words, which I took down at the time.
§ MR. FAWCETT
Mr. Speaker, I believe I certainly have a memory which I can generally trust. No such expression or anything like it escaped me. 467 ["Sit down!"] Sit down I shall not sit down, Mr. Speaker, until you order me to do so. I wish to say that no such expression as a "bloody war" escaped my lips, nor anything which can justify the Chancellor of the Exchequer in saying so.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I never intended to say that the hon. Member used such an expression as that. What I said was that he accused this Government, in conjunction with all Europe, with shrinking back terrified and alarmed before the Ottoman Empire. But I do not desire to enter into a controversy as to the exact expressions which the hon. Gentleman used. I want to know what is the scope and bearing of the arguments which he and others adduced. Describing his speech generally, I should say the hon. Member seemed to dwell on our past conduct and what he supposes to be our present conduct. With regard to our past conduct, he has emphasized a great many things which he found had been said by the Government, and he put into our mouths expressions which I think it would be hard to justify by references to the despatches that are laid before the House. With regard to our present conduct, he proceeded to tell us that, after having some time ago advocated a commanding policy, a governing policy, and an insisting policy, we are now falling back on a "do-nothing" policy. Upon what authority, I should like to know, does the hon. Gentleman speak when he says we are advocating a do-nothing policy? We are at the present moment conducting negotiations of a difficult and delicate character. They are negotiations which I have no hesitation in saying are in such a position that they tie our mouths and prevent us from speaking as freely as we shall be able to do when, as the noble Lord so properly said, the time comes for discussing this question. I think the noble Lord made a very just observation when he said the discussion on the whole matter might have been raised at the termination of the Conference; or again, it might be raised when the negotiations pending shall have come to a termination. But at this particular moment it is most inconvenient and detrimental to the public interest that a discussion should be raised in which we are put upon our defence, while, at the same 468 time, we feel ourselves tied by considerations of a higher character from making that defence in any complete manner. Our policy in the past is before the House. Hon. Members have read the Blue Books, or, if they have not read all, have read enough to see the general line of policy which this country is advocating. They know we have been actuated throughout these proceedings by the same principles which guide us now. It is altogether untrue to say that we have changed our policy. Our line of policy has been founded on the same principles throughout, and it will be continued upon those principles. Of course, as circumstances change, and as it is necessary to meet different contingencies and different events, it is necessary to adopt different steps which are suitable to those contingencies; but in every step we have taken we have been actuated by and have followed the same principles from first to last. We have desired to maintain peace in Europe. We have desired to maintain a concert with the Powers of Europe. We have desired to uphold the interests and the honour of this country; and, as an essential part of everyone of those three objects, we have had the object of doing all that lay in our power to improve the government of Turkey and provide for the better security of the Christian subjects of Turkey. We have never separated those objects one from the other; indeed, they cannot be separated. In our belief, if you adopted a different principle, the principle of coercion, you would find yourselves in difficulty, not merely with regard to what are called the interests of this country, but the interests of European peace and the interests and welfare of the Christian subjects of the Porte, which you little contemplated when you used the word "coercion" so freely. Coercion is not very far from meaning destruction. It would be comparatively easy to destroy; it is a harder, though a safer, course to do what is in our power to promote improvement and reform in Turkey. On this point let me say that I am struck by the extreme injustice of the remarks made upon some of the proceedings of Turkey. It is said that Turkey is doing nothing now to give effect to the reforms she has promised; that she is importing arms and distributing them among the 469 Mahomedan population; that she is doing terrible things, inflicting horrible wrongs, and neglecting to do this, that, and the other which she ought to be doing. Nobody, however, seems to consider for a moment the position of Turkey in the presence of this great war-cloud. How can you expect Turkey to give effect to reforms when this great war-cloud is hanging over her and she is menaced with a struggle for existence? How are you to blame her for bringing muskets and rifles into the country when she has to consider how she can best defend herself? It is difficult for us to protest in such a matter, because if we say to Turkey—" You ought not to be importing arms of precision or munitions of war," Turkey may turn round on us and say—"Oh, certainly. If you object, we will not do so. We shall be glad to be relieved from the necessity of importing arms and preparing for our defence, if only you will be good enough to assist us in making that defence." But this is what we have told Turkey we do not mean to do. If she persisted in refusing our advice, we said we would not be responsible for the consequences she would bring upon herself, and though we would not join in coercion against her, she had no right to expect help from us in the way of military assistance. But if that is the case, how is it to be expected that we can call upon her to dismiss her troops and cease to import arms, and set herself seriously to promulgate and carry out reforms when Turkey says—" My life is in danger, and I have no means of devoting myself to the carrying out of reforms? "I have said, and I repeat, that the policy of Her Majesty's Government is that which is expressed in the despatches which are before the House. We are still labouring earnestly, and not without hope of a happy solution, to bring about a settlement which may really gain the objects we have at heart. But I think we shall be most materially impeded in the progress of negotiations upon which we have now entered if we are to proceed upon them with the clog hanging about our necks of either a hostile vote of the House of Commons, or, which is much more embarrassing, and much more to be deprecated, speeches made and enforced with all the eloquence and authority of those who had so great a right to command 470 the ear of the nation—speeches which are to discredit us in the eyes of Europe, to weaken the voice with which this country may speak in the councils of Europe, and the effect of which is, as far as they go, to taunt Europe with cowardice or with negligence if she endeavours to carry into effect the peaceful work in which we are now engaged. Sir, I rejoice to think that, from whatever chain of circumstances it has happened, we have been at last this evening brought face to face with a definite Motion upon this subject; but do not for a moment suppose, if the result of this Division should be of a very decisive character against the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, that we shall assume that the House of Commons gives the Government such a complete approbation on its part as would prevent right hon. Gentlemen or noble Lords opposite at a proper and fitting time from challenging the conduct of the Government. We feel perfectly well that in such a business as this, with such great matters in hand, with negotiations of such vast, such historical importance as my right hon. Friend truly said, it is impossible that a time may not arrive when it may be the duty of Parliament carefully, calmly, and impartially, without fear or favour, to review the course of these negotiations. We shall be ready when the time comes to encounter it. We shall not be surprised if there are those who think that on this or that point we have made a mistake, or perhaps that we have taken a wrong course, nor shall we be surprised or complain if we are subjected to severe criticism; but, at this moment it is of great importance, unless you are prepared really to say that our conduct is such that you have no confidence in us, that you must set us aside, and endeavour to put the conduct of these affairs in the hands of those in whom you have more confidence. We think it is important that the House of Commons, having had its attention called to the matter, the conduct of the Government challenged, and a discussion raised upon it, that they should, with no doubtful voice, pronounce an opinion on the conduct of the Government.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
moved that the debate be now adjourned. He would make an appeal to the patriotism of the Government. A Divi- 471 sion, the House had been informed by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), was of surpassing importance, because it would indicate the policy of the country on Turkish affairs. But it was utterly impossible that such could be the case, for the Leader of the Opposition said, however much he sympathized with it, he could not support the Resolution, and, therefore, he would not vote at all. The Leader of the late Government also, who had identified himself more than any other Member of the House with the sentiments of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr.Fawcett), thought that this was not a time when there ought to be a Division. How, then, could the Government force the House of Commons to a declaration which would not be a declaration of the opinion of the House or of the country, and which would convey a false impression to Turkey? Hon. Gentlemen opposite might show how strong they were, but he asked them to show how patriotic they were. The speech of the right hon. Member for Greenwich would be received as a noble declaration of the feelings which actuated the country whenever her sympathies were roused by a tale of national oppression.
§ LORD FRANCIS CONYNGHAM
seconded the Motion.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Mitchell Henry.)
I too, Sir, as an independent Member, protest against being driven into a Party division. This momentous subject has never yet been fairly and squarely put in issue before the House. The Government wish to make an exhibition of their might in the Division Lobby at a moment when they know well they have their opponents at a disadvantage; so that a division on the Motion discussed to-night might be represented to Europe as a decision on the policy of the Government. I, for one, refuse that test; and there are many independent Members like the hon. Member for Galway and myself who refuse to give a vote one way or another on that policy until we know what it is. We have never been told what it is. ["Oh, oh!"] We have been treated to a policy of mystery. 472 ["Oh, oh!"] I challenge anyone to tell me where or when the policy of the Government on this question has been explained or set forth. Here, to be sure, is a Blue Book; but in this we find numerous policies. Shake the kaleidoscope and you have a charming variety. What policy do you prefer? Here it is. Do you like a robust pro-Russian policy?— here is Lord Salisbury for you. Perhaps you prefer a pro-Turkish policy?—for you we have Sir Henry Elliot. Do you want a policy that flourishes the sword in the face of Russia?—well, hero is Lord Beaconsfield. In fact, you can go through those Blue Books and find any policy you please. "You pay your money and you take your choice." When the Government tells me what its policy really is, I shall be able to say whether or not I shall be able to vote for it; for I am one of those men in this House who are honestly free to vote independently on the issue. It seems to be assumed, indeed, that every Member in this House belongs to one or other of two Parties; that we are all bound by what "the Liberals" said or did when they were in office, or what "the Conservatives" are saying or doing now; and that men must be either admirers of Russia or partizans of Turkey. I have been pained to hear the miserable tu quoque which is bandied about whenever this subject is raised, as if a tu quoque settled all the merits, or had any force against men like my Friend the hon. Member for Galway or myself. Surely, it is a pitiful resort. With the exception of that magnificent speech from one right hon. Gentleman on the front Opposition bench (Mr. Gladstone) no one has risen tonight to the true level of this question, and dealt with it in the noble spirit of a broad humanity rather than as a petty Party contention. There is something higher than Party involved in this issue, and the voice of Ireland, which must be heard upon it, will respond to no mere Party call. Yes; Irishmen, at all events, can be impartial and independent on this subject. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen will understand and perhaps agree with me when I say the sympathies of the Irish people are with gallant Poland. To that great and heroic nation we are linked by the ties of an almost similar political fate, and by the bonds of a common religious faith. We Irishmen can have no love, no admiration, for the 473 Power that has trampled on hapless Poland. But if you think that any the more we love or embrace Mahomedan rule, you are very much mistaken. Irish Members, at all events, can hold the scales impartially between both. When the issue is fairly raised, they will take a side which no miserable Party spirit will determine. They will not be found on the side of massacre and brutality. We will not in the one breath invoke "Treaty faith" as an excuse for backing Turkey, and in the next proclaim to Turkey that if she does not take advice those Treaties are torn into shreds. I have heard such double voices to-night; utterly irreconcilable pleas, like the kaleidoscopic policies of the Blue Book. A division to-night upon the Motion before us will be taken on a false issue, and for a misleading purpose. I, for one, protest against it being paraded tomorrow all over Europe as a signal triumph for a policy which, having never been proclaimed, cannot now be judged.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he had not intended to take any part in the debate till he heard the speeches of the hon. Members for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) and Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry.) He denied that either of those hon. Members had spoken on behalf of the Irish Home Rule Party. He repudiated what they said, and was prepared to answer the hon. Member for Galway if he rose to contradict the statement.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he never assumed to speak for anybody but himself. He remembered, however, that, besides being a Home Rule Member, he was a Member of the Imperial Parliament, and one of the doctrines of the Home Rulers was—[Cries of "Order."]
§ MR. CALLAN
said, in addition to the honour of being a Member of the House, he had the honour and pleasure of being a Member of the Home Rule Party before the hon. Member for Galway was either a Member of the House or of the Home Rule Party, and he had as much right as that hon. Member to assume to represent the Party.
§ MR. SPEAKER
pointed out to the hon. Member that his remarks were not relevant to the subject before the House. The hon. Member should speak on the subject-matter of the debate.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he had simply to refer to the speeches of the hon. Members for Galway and Louth. The latter had 474 alluded to one Party in that House who was independent of either side. It was his (Mr. Callan's) intention not to record his vote, but to vote as he thought fit. His intention was to record his vote in the same manner that he had heard one of the Leaders of the Liberal Party profess he would record his vote, by walking out. He did not say that that was quite satisfactory. He believed, however, that on this question he was equally hostile to the Opposition, as to the Government itself. He repudiated the Leadership, in any shape or form, of the upper part of the Gangway, as much as he did the front Government bench; but on the part of the independent Irish Members, he had to say he would not be led by the nose by some Home Rule Members who sympathized more with the Whigs than the Irish Party. He repudiated on the part of the Home Rule Party any participation whatever in this debate more than had been explained by the Leader of the front Opposition bench.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER,
as an Irish Member, claimed the indulgence of the House for a minute. The hon. Member Louth (Mr. Sullivan) had spoken for the Irish Members—
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
added that the hon. Member had, at any rate, said that the Irish Members would keep the balance between the two sides. What the hon. Member meant by the balance he (Sir George Bowyer) could not understand, because the hon. Member implied that the balance was to go only one way; and his implication was, that the Irish Members sympathized with Poland, and as it was a case of massacre and murder he would vote for the Resolution of the hon. Member for Hackney. He (Sir George Bowyer) did not like to walk out of the House. He thought every hon. Member should vote like a man, and he meant to vote as he thought right, and he was going to vote for Her Majesty's Government.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
thought that the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate had not been supported by reasons which usually commended themselves to the House. It had been moved by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), avowedly 475 for the purpose of preventing the House from taking a division, and it had been supported by the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) on the same principle. Now, he did not think that to be a valid reason on which the Opposition could fairly support the Adjournment of the Debate. He shared in the desire of the hon. Member for Galway not to go to a division; but, in his opinion, the legitimate way of proceeding would be for his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney to withdraw his Motion and for this withdrawal to be accepted by the Government. He gathered, however, from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House that, in the exercise of his discretion, he would not permit any such withdrawal. This determination of the right hon. Gentleman certainly seemed to be consistent with the new political doctrine which had recently been developed. It seemed no longer to be the rule of the House to vote for the Motion or Amendment before it, but to vote according to the speeches of those who had taken part in the debate. Thus the other day the Government assented to a Motion which they regarded at first as doubtful, but which they supported on the ground that the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) had proposed it in such an excellent and unobjectionable a speech. To-night they found the Government opposing the Motion of the hon. Member (Mr. Fawcett), with every word of which they must agree —for the language was their own—because the Motion had been supported by some objectionable speeches. Now, if the Government would not allow the House to take the course most convenient —namely to withdraw the Motion—all that he (the Marquess of Hartington) and his Friends could do was to take the course which would make the vote as little important as possible, and which was to decline to vote upon the question at all. For himself ho should follow the course he announced in the early part of the evening. By doing that, and in pursuing that policy, it would be a matter of very small importance what were the numbers. The Motion for the Adjournment, however, could only reasonably be supported on the ground that there was a large number of hon. Members who wished to take part in the debate, and that it was the wish of a large part of the House that the Debate should be 476 further adjourned. That wish had not been expressed at all. No one who had got up had said he wished to address the House, and that being so, it was impossible for him to support the Motion for the Adjournment.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, that as he had not the right to reply, he hoped he was not arrogating too much in saying that on previous occasions when he had put a Motion on the Paper, he had never shrunk from carrying his Resolution to a division. If this had been a question of domestic policy, he should have carried his Motion to a division, notwithstanding the deference he should wish to pay to the opinion of the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone). He had been, however, told by authorities on both sides of the House that this was a critical moment in foreign affairs, and that a division upon his Motion would not conduce to the advantage of the public service. He therefore accepted the advice offered him by the noble Lord and his right hon. Friend, and he offered to withdraw his Motion. If the House, however, after the statement that it would be for the public advantage that it should be withdrawn, would not let him withdraw it, the responsibility for the division would be on their side. ["No, no!"] Ho would not shrink from a division if forced to it; but the responsibility of that course would rest with the Government. It would be their concern, not his, if they placed themselves in the position of voting against their own specific declarations.
§ MR. DILLWYN
observed that lie had listened to the debate, and did not think that it was yet exhausted; therefore it ought to be adjourned. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer got up, he (Mr. Dillwyn) saw six other Members rise at the same time.
§ MR. ANDERSON
thought there were many good reasons for adjourning the debate. There were many hon. Members on both sides of the House who wished to speak, and in the present impatient state of the House, only those on the Conservative benches were allowed a fair hearing. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had just introduced new arguments that required answering. That right hon. Gentleman had said that while 477 there was such a war-cloud over Turkey, she could do nothing to reform herself; but what had been the cause of that war cloud? Partly that Turkey had brought it over herself by her own misconduct; and, partly, it had come from the weakness and vacillation of Her Majesty's Government, which, by failing in steady co-operation with the other Powers, had driven Russia into independent action. The right hon. Gentleman had said that keeping the European concert was the policy of Her Majesty's Government, but it seemed to him that if the Government had a policy at all, it was certainly not that; for on three separate occasions Britain alone had stood aloof, and broken that concert. The first time was on the occasion of refusing the Berlin Memorandum. That refusal, in his opinion, had been the source of all the misunderstandings and difficulties that had occurred since. The second time was early in October, when all the Powers agreed to the one month's armistice proposed by Britain, and Lord Derby himself abandoned his own proposal, attempted to carry a different one, and failing in that, remained for all the rest of that month in a state of sulky isolation, out of which he emerged only after the acceptance of the Russian ultimatum. The third break in the concert was now, when Her Majesty's Government insisted on new conditions in a Protocol that had been agreed to by all the other Powers. Ho was of opinion that the debate was by no means exhausted, and he would do all in his power to insist on the Adjournment.
§ LORD ELCHO
observed that he would vote, not as had been suggested, against the hon. Member for Hackney's speech, but against his Motion, the sting of which was in its tail. They were to endeavour to obtain guarantees, but how were guarantees to be obtained without coercion? The policy of coercion, in fact, was here brought to the test; and in voting against the Motion he should be voting against England's being led by the Government or driven by the Opposition into taking part by force of arms in the internal administration of Turkey. That was the real question at issue. The policy which had been shadowed out by the Opposition was a policy of coercion; but now, when the matter was about to be brought to the test, it ap- 478 peared that they did not intend to vote for coercion.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he should not vote on this Question; but he entirely disavowed that he gave any opinion whatever as to whether there should be coercion or not employed towards Turkey. He was not going now into that question, which was not the question which depended on that division in any way. Neither did they give the slightest opinion upon any conduct of the Government, as with that conduct they were not acquainted. He therefore asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as the Leader of the House, whether he did not think it would be well to accept the offer of the hon. Member for Hackney and let him withdraw his Resolution? ["No, no!"] The right hon. Gentleman ought really to support his noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington) in recommending the withdrawal of the Resolution.
§ MR. EVELYN ASHLEY
(who spoke amid continued interruption) said, that as one of the few Members who advocated coercion, he also protested against the division being taken as a test as to coercion, and against the assertion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that coercion would involve the country in a bloody war. On the contrary, those who were in favour of coercion believed that it was the only means of avoiding war, as time would prove. He must protest emphatically against the continuous interruption experienced from the Ministerial side of the House, which powerfully contrasted with the patience with which the Opposition bad listened to the remarks of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Elcho).
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he should like to ask hon. Members opposite, whether they considered that they were acting fairly in the matter in not listening to the hon. Member for Liskeard?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the noble Lord was out of Order in addressing the House, he having already spoken on the question.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the noble Lord informed him that he had risen to 479 a point of Order, and therefore he was entitled to a hearing.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, that he was not in the least surprised at having been misunderstood, inasmuch as he was perfectly inaudible when he rose owing to the shouts of hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Liskeard had had a Motion upon the Paper which he had withdrawn, and he had been specially referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was not fair in these circumstances that hon. Members should refuse to give him a hearing. ["Order, order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The noble Lord is not speaking to a point of Order. The hon. Member for Liskeard is in possession of the House, and I trust that the House will not refuse to hear him.
§ MR. COURTNEY
submitted that if the Government had thought it injudicious that his Motion should be brought forward, he thought the right hon. Gentleman would see that it was a fortiori injudicious to place upon the records of the House a vote upon the subject.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the hon. Member for Liskeard with his very clear mind would perceive that there was a great difference between making a suggestion that a certain Motion was inopportune and that it should be postponed, and suggesting that one which had been brought forward in opposition to repeated requests should be withdrawn. The Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney might be regarded as invoking a censure upon Her Majesty's Government. [Mr. COURTNEY: No, no!] The hon. Member for Liskeard dissented from that view, and no doubt hon. Members opposite might not regard the Resolution in that light. Nevertheless, it might have resulted in an imputation upon the conduct of the Government which the latter in consistence with dignity could not shrink from meeting. The hon. Member announced to the House that he would not withdraw his Motion, and he had a perfect right to do so; but having in the exercise of his discretion persisted in bringing the question forward, it was scarcely respectful, to say nothing of fairness, to ask the Party attacked to consider that no attack had been made, and under such circumstances to abstain from calling for a division. He had no wish 480 to force the hon. Member to divide upon his Motion, and would assent to its being negatived without a division; but he certainly could not consent to the Motion for Adjournment, unless it was shown that there were Members wishful to resume the debate, a point on which he was without evidence. In that case, he should expect the discussion to be resumed on Monday.
§ MR. P. A. TAYLOR
said, the only object there could be in forcing a division was to send into the country a false impression as to the opinion of the various Parties in Parliament upon this question. It was sought to show that the great cause of truth and justice advocated by the right hon. Member for Greenwich was only supported by a miserable minority in the House, although the right hon. Gentleman himself declined to vote on this occasion. His own view was that a majority of the people were in favour of the views entertained and so frequently expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich.
MR. J. COWEN
appealed to hon. Members opposite as to whether this was a seemly termination to a discussion affecting the lives and happiness of thousands of human beings? He could appreciate the feelings of his Friends around him, although he could not share them. Hon. Members opposite had been bitterly attacked for some time, and it was natural they should resent it; but he would appeal to them to exercise some consideration to those opposed to them. Individually, he was entirely opposed to coercion, and he distrusted Russia. If they went to a division, the consequence would be that 18 or 20 hon. Members, not more, would go into the Lobby with the hon. Member for Hackney. That would not be a fair representation of the opinion of the House, and he therefore hoped the House would allow the Motion to be withdrawn. [" No, no ! "] It was well to have the strength of a giant, but it was not always well to use it as a giant.
§ SIR WILLIAM FRASER
The right hon. Member for Greenwich has made a powerful speech this evening: that speech was listened to by a scanty audience. The division—and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that a division shall take place—will be the 481 answer, the necessary answer, to that speech.
AYES. Allen, W. S. Lawson, Sir W. Anderson, G. Mackintosh, C. F. Anstruther, Sir R. M'Arthur, W. Bazley, Sir T. Maitland, J. Blake, T. Meldon, C. H. Brogden, A. Milbank, F. A. Brown, A. H. Monk, C. J. Brown, J. C. Morgan, G. O. Campbell, Sir G. Morley, S. Chamberlain, J. Mundella, A. J. Clarke, J. C. Nolan, Captain Clifford, C. C. O'Beirne, Captain Courtney, L. H. O'Byrne, W. R. Cowen, J. O'Conor, D. M. Cross, J. K. O'Sullivan, W. H. Davies, D. Perkins, Sir F. Davies, R. Price, W. E. Dease, E. Rathbone, W. Delahunty, J. Redmond, W. A. Digby, K. T. Richard, H. Dilke, Sir C. W. Rylands, P. Dillwyn, L. L. Samuelson, B. Dunbar, J. Samuelson, H. Fawcett, H. Sheil, E. Fay, C. J. Simon, Mr. Serjeant Ferguson, R. Smith, E. Fletcher, I. Sullivan, A. M. Forster, Sir C. Swanston, A. French, hon. C. Taylor, P. A. Gourley, E. T. Trevelyan, G. O. Harrison, J. F. Whitwell, J. Hill, T. R. Whitworth, B. Holms, J. Wynn, Sir W. W. Holms, W. Young, A. W. Hopwood, C. H. TELLERS. Ingram, W. J. Conyngham, Lord F. James, W. H. Henry, M.
NOES. Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C. Blackburne, Col. J. I. Agnew, R. V. Boord, T. W. Alexander, Colonel Bourke, hon. R. Archdale, W. H. Bourne, Colonel Arkwright, A. P. Bousfield, Colonel Arkwright, F. Bowyer, Sir G. Astley, Sir J. D. Bright, R. Bagge, Sir W. Broadley, W. H. H. Bailey, Sir J. R. Bruce, hon. T. Balfour, A. J. Burrell, Sir W. W. Baring, T. C. Butler-Johnstone, H.A. Barrington, Viscount Buxton, Sir R. J. Barttelot, Sir W. B. Callan, P. Bates, E. Cameron, D. Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H. Cave, rt. hon. S. Beach, W. W. B. Cawley, C. E. Bective, Earl of Chaine, J. Benett-Stanford, V. F. Chaplin, Colonel E. Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C. Chaplin, H. Bentinck, G. W. P. Charley, W. T. Beresford, G. dela Poer Christie, W. L. Birley, H. Clifton, T. H.
Clive, hon. Col. G. W. Home, Captain Clowes, S. W. Hood, hon. Captain A. Cobbold, T. C. W. A. N. Cochrane, A.D.W.R.B. Hunt, rt. hon. G. W. Coope, O. E. Isaac, S. Corry, hon. H. W. L. Jenkinson, Sir G. S. Corry, J. P. Johnson, J. G. Crichton, Viscount Johnstone, Sir F. Cross, rt. hon. R. A. Jolliffe, hon. S. Cubitt, G. Jones, J. Cuninghame, Sir. W. Kenealy, Dr. Cust, H. C. Kennard, Colonel Dalkeith, Earl of Kennaway, Sir J. H. Dalrymple, C. King-Harman, E. R. Deedes, W. Knightley, Sir R. Denison, C. B. Lawrence, Sir T. Denison, W. E. Learmonth, A. Dickson, Major A. G. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Digby, hon. Capt. E. Lee, Major V. Douglas, Sir G. Legard, Sir C. Edmonstone, Admiral Legh, W. J. Sir W. Leighton, S. Egerton, hon. A. F. Leslie, Sir J. Egerton, hon. W. Lewis, C. E. Elcho, Lord Lindsay, Col. R. L. Elliot, Sir G. Lloyd, S. Elliot, G. W. Lloyd, T. E. Eslington, Lord Lopes, Sir M. Fellowes, E. Lowther, hon. W. Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Lowther, J. Floyer, J. Macduff, Viscount Forester, C. T. W. M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. Fraser, Sir W. A. Malcolm, J. W. Fremantle, hon. T. F. Manners, rt. hn. LordJ. Gallwey, Sir W. P. March, Earl of Gardner, J. T. Agg- Marten, A. G. Gamier, J. C. Maxwell, Sir W. S. Gibson, rt. hon. E. Mellor, T. W. Giffard, Sir H. S. Mills, A. Goldney, G. Mills, Sir C. H. Gordon, Sir A. Montgomery, Sir G. G. Gordon, W. Morgan, hon. F. Goulding, W. Morris, G. Grantham, W. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R. Greenall, Sir G. Mulholland, J. Greene, E. Muncaster, Lord Gregory, G. B. Naghten, Lt.-Col. Grosvenor, Lord R. Newport, Viscount Hall, A. W. Noel, rt. hon. G. J. Halsey, T. F. Northcote, rt. hon. Sir Hamilton, Lord C. J. S. H. Hamilton, I. T. O'Callaghan, hon. W. Hamilton, Lord G. Onslow, D. Hamilton, Marquess of Paget, R. H. Hamilton, hon. R. B. Parker, Lt.-Col. W. Hamond, C. F. Pelly, Sir H. C. Hanbury, R. W. Pemberton, E. L. Hardcastle, E. Peploe, Major Hardy, rt. hon. G. Percy, Earl Hardy, J. S. Phipps, P. Hay, right hon. Sir J. Plunket, hon. D. R. C. D. Praed, C. T. Heath, R. Price, Captain Herbert, hon. S. Puleston, J. H. Hermon, E. Raikes, H. C. Hervey, Lord F. Ralli, P. Hick, J. Read, C. S. Hildyard, T. B. T. Rendlesham, Lord Hinchingbrook, Visct. Repton, G. W. Holford, J. P. G. Ridley, M. W. Holker, Sir J. Ripley, H. W. Holland, Sir H. T. Ritchie, C. T. Holt, J. M. Rodwell, B. B. H.
Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
Rothschild, Sir N. M. de Tennant, R. Round, J. Thornhill, T. Russell, Sir C. Thwaites, D. Ryder, G. R. Thynne, Lord H. F. Salt, T. Tollemache, hon.W.F Samuda, J. D'A. Torr, J. Sanderson, T. K. Twells, P. Sandon, Viscount Verner, E. W. Sclater-Booth,rt.hn.G. Wait, W. K. Scott, Lord H. Walker, T. E. Scott, M. D. Wallace, Sir R. Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir Walsh, hon. A. H. J. Watney, J. Severne, J. E. Watson, W. Shirley, S. E. Wellesley, Colonel Smith, A. Wells, E. Smith, F. C. Wheelhouse, W. S. J. Smith, S. G. Whitelaw, A. Smith, W. H. Wilmot, Sir H. Somerset, Lord H. R. C. Wilmot, Sir J. E. Sotheron-Estcourt, G. Wolff, Sir H. D. Stanhope, hon. E. Woodd, B. T. Stanhope, W. T. W. S. Wynham, hon. P. Stanley, hon. F. Wynn, C. W. W. Starkey, L. R. Yarmouth, Earl of Steere, L. Yorke, hon. E. Stewart, M. J. Yorke, J. R. Sykes, C. TELLERS. Talbot, J. G. Dyke, Sir W. H. Taylor, rt. hon. Col. Winn, R.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 71; Noes 242: Majority 171.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he was for coercion, and would vote with the hon. Member for Hackney. He had no desire to shirk a division on the Main Question, but several hon. Members desired still to speak on the subject. He should therefore move the Adjournment of the House.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Sir Charles W. Dilke.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he wished to point out that the effect of the Adjournment of the House would be simply to destroy the Order.
The House divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 233: Majority 153.—(Div. List, No. 45.)
Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. T. E. SMITH
said, this was an inopportune time for taking a division on the Resolution, because it would be misunderstood on the Continent. He would therefore move the Adjournment of the Debate. 484 Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." —(Mr. T. E. Smith.)
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
observed that there was a disposition in the House to make this Debate on the Eastern Question a farce. They had been told that the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney was to decide coercion; if so, as it was only 1.30 in the morning, they had better begin to discuss the question. It was a very large question, and it might keep the House until the time of the Boat Race. He, however, could find nothing in the Motion which touched the question of coercion.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
thought the discussion was degenerating into a wrangle, and they were getting into a very disagreeable and undignified position; but it was not caused by the action of the Government. ["Yes it is"] The present position was caused by the action of the supporters, the semi-supporters, and non - supporters of the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney. The Government was being sinned against, and they were told that they must allow the hon. Member to withdraw his Motion, and that if they did not allow such a proceeding, the House must go on debating it. He thought it was desirable that the House should come to a conclusion on the subject, and that the minority, having been fairly beaten, should succumb to the majority.
§ MR. E. J. REED
said, that the difficulty had arisen through the marked indiscretion of an hon. Member on his side of the House, and he thought that the Government ought to have allowed the Motion to be withdrawn. In pursuing the course they had, the Government seemed anxious to place themselves in a position analogous to that of the Ottoman Porte, and to bring about the massacre of the hon. Member for Hackney, and the pillage of the Liberal Party, by insisting upon a division on the Motion.
§ SIR ROBERT ANSTRUTHER
said, ho greatly regretted that the hon. Mem- 485 ber for Hackney had not been allowed to withdraw his Motion, and for himself he would have been glad if a division had been taken on the Main Question. In that case, he should have supported the Motion, if he had had an opportunity of speaking. Looking to the lateness of the hour, he thought the best course would be for the Government to allow the Motion to be withdrawn.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he was in favour of the debate being adjourned, in order to avoid any decision being come to which would mislead the country as to the opinion of the House of Commons. Two speeches had been delivered that evening from the Opposition side of the House which could not be answered, and it was the object of the Government to force a division, in order to be able to appeal to the majority against the Motion.
§ MR. PARNELL
considered that a division should be at once taken.
The House divided:—Ayes 79; Noes 223: Majority 144.—(Div. List, No. 46.)
Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I think we have now made ourselves acquainted with the situation. We may go on dividing for any number of hours without any different result arising from it. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have brought forward this attack on the Government. The hon. Member for Hackney deserves credit for having had the courage to submit a Resolution which has undergone discussion; but when it comes to the point he wishes to withdraw it. Hon. Members opposite say that the Government do very wrong in not allowing the hon. Member to withdraw his Motion. The Government do not care whether he withdraws his Motion or not. But there are others besides the Government who do care. I must remind hon. Members opposite that if any hon. Member objects to the Motion being withdrawn, the Government are powerless in the matter. Many hon. Gentlemen have come hero for the purpose of expressing their opinion on this 486 question, and they are not willing to be put off by the withdrawal of the Motion. We have come to a point when it is quite clear that the hon. Member and his Friends do not mean to stand by their guns. I shall therefore make a Motion that the House do adjourn.
§ MR. SPEAKER
ruled that technically the right hon. Gentleman was out of Order in the course he was taking, as he had already spoken to the Question before the House.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, it seemed clear to him that all sorts of objections, technical and otherwise, partaking of the nature of subterfuges, were taken in order to get out of a division. The hon. Member for Hackney frequently claimed credit for courage in separating himself from the Party to which he nominally belonged, and had, in this instance, commenced his speech by eulogizing this trait in his character, and he now asked that Party to assist him in making a miserable retreat. Not to waste further time he would move the Adjournment of the House.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Gathorne Hardy.)
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
thought the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War rose to extricate the House from a difficulty, but his tone was not calculated to do so. The Government might as well have yielded two hours ago, as they were the sole cause of the difficulty in not allowing the Motion to be withdrawn.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War had made an unfair attack upon him. He gave the most implicit denial to the right hon. Gentleman's assertion that he had sheltered himself behind his Friends, and called upon the right hon. Gentleman to retract the expression. If the Motion for the Adjournment of the House were withdrawn, he was still prepared to divide upon his Motion.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
explained that he had not heard the hon. Member previously announce his intention to 487 divide, and he therefore withdrew the expression complained of, pointing out, however, that the hon. Member had not attempted to correct the repeated assertions which had been made, that the Adjournment of the Debate was desired merely to avoid a division.
Question put, and agreed to.
§ House adjourned accordingly at half after Two o'clock.