HC Deb 08 May 1877 vol 234 cc501-83

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [7th May], That this House finds just cause of dissatisfaction and complaint in the conduct of the Ottoman Porte with regard to the Despatch written by the Earl of Derby on the 21st day of September 1876, and relating to the massacres in Bulgaria."—(Mr. Gladstone.)

And which Amendment was, To leave out from the word "House" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "declines to entertain any Resolutions which may embarrass Her Majesty's Government in the maintenance of peace and in the protection of British interests, without indicating any alternative line of policy,"—(Sir Henry Wolff,)

—instead thereof.

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


said, he rose to support to the best of his power the Motion of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, whose speech, though not delivered under circumstances of great public convenience, considering the two hours' wrangle which preceded it, had been listened to with sincere admiration as one of the greatest and most noble efforts which his right hon. Friend had ever made in the House. That speech was a statement of policy at once complete, interesting, and worthy of guiding the House and the country on the greatest question which had come before this Parliament. In those third and fourth Resolutions, which were not to be put, the House might perceive the elements of the solution of this question; and whatever differences there might be on points of detail, and he confessed he shared them, he had no doubt that history would give his right hon. Friend his due in regard to a statement of policy which was of the most vital importance to the interests of this country. If the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich had done no more than elicit some of the expressions, some of the assurances, some of the declarations which were made last night by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, it would have resulted in a great gain for the cause which he and those near him had so much at heart. There was a great peculiarity about the reception of the speech of the Home Secretary by hon. Members opposite. He had watched the right hon. Gentleman himself very carefully while he was delivering his speech; but he had watched still more carefully the faces of the right hon. and hon. Members sitting behind him. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the charges brought against Her Majesty's Government as being false, the whole of the hon. Members opposite cheered him to the echo; when he spoke of the unity of the Government and of their internal agreement, he was received with cheers from one end of the House to the other; when he denounced war against Turkey, the cheers were still louder; when he referred to his first landmark of "No coercion," the cheers were redoubled; when he spoke of the action of Russia being the real obstacle to peace, and used the usual stock Party arguments to which we had been so accustomed during the last three months, nothing could be louder than the cheers he called forth from hon. Members opposite. But when the right hon. Gentleman went further, and announced his utter detestation of the Bulgarian outrages — [Ministerial cheers.] Yes, hon. Members opposite cheered now. When he said that he abhorred from the bottom of his heart what had occurred in Turkey not a single cheer came from the opposite side. When he said that the whole responsibility for the present state of things rested upon the Sultan, hon. Members opposite had listened to him with dismay. ["Oh, oh!"] He (Mr. Childers) was telling the strict truth. When the right hon. Gentleman said that in the war that was now going on England was determined to observe not only absolute neutrality, but absolute impartiality, hon. Members opposite did not cheer; and when he said that our interests were in danger in so remote a future that he need hardly contemplate it, even the hon. and gallant Member who sat behind him (Admiral Sir William Edmonstone) began to fan his face. He (Mr. Childers) pretended to know nothing about the secrets of the Cabinet. The Cabinet kept its own secrets; but, at any rate, he knew, and those who saw the faces of hon. Members opposite last night must know, a great deal of the effect which the declarations of the right hon. Gentleman produced upon them.


rose to Order. He begged to ask, whether it was competent for the right hon. Gentleman to take advantage of this opportunity to give an account of what happened last night, which he (Mr. Plunket) begged to say was an entire misrepresentation of what took place?


The right hon. Gentleman is referring to a speech in the current debate, and it is perfectly competent for him to do so.


remarked that the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of misrepresentation, and in the same breath called him to Order for reference to a past debate. Had it come to this—that they on that side might not even refer to a discussion on a previous night adjourned to the present, but might be accused under cover of rising to Order of misrepresentation. That was a very curious attempt to take advantage of the rules of debate. He would, however, at once turn to the main question before the House. What were the Resolutions which were before the House, and what was the Amendment they were asked to discuss? In the first place, he would ask what the Resolutions were not? Although his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich had expounded and explained with a force difficult to answer the whole of his four Resolutions, he did not intend, as he distinctly stated, to move the third and the fourth, but merely intended to move the first and second, and to agree to certain Amendments in the latter. The third and fourth Resolutions, therefore, were no longer before the House; but his right hon. Friend had a perfect right, in fact, he was bound, in his view of the question, to refer to them so as to enable him to put before the House and the country his policy as a whole. The third and fourth Resolutions expressed very plainly the policy which the right hon. Gentleman advocated; but he was bound to admit that it was desirable, that they should not be put to the House as they stood, on account of one or two expressions which occurred in them, and which were undoubtedly open to question, snore, perhaps, on the score of opportunity than on any other ground. With regard to the third Resolution, for instance, he might admit that there was an ambiguity and indefiniteness about its language, inasmuch as it expressed a desire that— The influence of the British Crown in the Councils of Europe should be employed with a view to the early and effectual development of local liberty and practical self-government in the disturbed Provinces of Turkey, by putting an end to the oppression which they now suffer, without the imposition upon them of any other Foreign Dominion. This might mean that under no circumstances should any of the oppressed Provinces be annexed to Austria, a position he was not prepared to adopt. Again, the fourth Resolution was open to question as to the propriety of the House demanding that the influence of Great Britain should be— Addressed to promoting the concert of the European Powers in exacting from the Ottoman Porte, by their united authority, such changes in the Government of Turkey as they may deem to be necessary for the purposes of humanity and justice, for effectual defence against intrigue, and for the peace of the world. What did "exacting" mean? and was it necessary that all the Powers should be united? It was unnecessary to enter into further details with reference to the third and fourth Resolutions at the present I moment. The case, however, was very different with regard to the first and second Resolutions. The first Resolution was perfectly plain, for it related to the action of the Ottoman Empire in answer to the despatch of the 21st of September, 1876, action—or, rather, inaction — which was practically an affront to this country; and the second Resolution followed up that assertion by the almost inevitable conclusion that the Porte by its conduct had forfeited all claims to assistance from this country, whether it were moral or material; and upon those two Resolutions he should endeavour to show the House that it was most expedient that Parliament and the country should pronounce clearly. That the House would do well in the present position of affairs in the East to pronounce most distinctly that neither moral nor material support should be given to Turkey, was a proposition so clear, so simple, that he was surprised at the kind of opposition which had been made to it in certain quarters. It had been stated out-of-doors and suggested in that House that the first Resolution was unusual and unwise, as it censured, not the Government of this country, but the Government of Turkey. As a general rule, the province of the House was rather to censure the acts of Her Majesty's Government than of foreign Governments in no way responsible to us; but there was a peculiarity in the despatch of the 21st of September, 1876, written by Her Majesty's Government. It expressed, no doubt, the opinion of the Government, and it professed to speak in the name of the Queen; but, in point of fact, it originated in and conveyed to Turkey the decision, almost the commands of the people of England; and so it was understood by the Porte. In the Blue Book that had been recently published Lord Derby, writing to our Chargé d'Affaires in Constantinople, gave an account of an interview which he had had with the Turkish Ambassador here, in which he said that the latter, referring to the Despatch of the 21st of September, endeavoured to persuade him to soften his demands, and not to press for the rigorous punishment of the men who were guilty of these outrages in Bulgaria. The Turkish Ambassador, in unequivocal language, appealed to the forbearance, not of the Queen or the Government, but of the people of England. If, then, that despatch was written as from the people of England, we who represent the people were fully entitled to remark on the manner of its reception, and the entire avoidance of our demands. He had observed strong expressions outside the House as to that despatch being unworthy, unjust, and undiplomatic—something which an independent State ought never to receive from another State. But the fact was — no matter what words might be used on the subject — that Turkey was not independent, and had never been independent for a century past. No one had expressed that fact more clearly than Lord Salisbury himself, when he spoke of Turkey as a Power which depended upon the protection of others for its very existence. He could not help thinking that the old Parliamentary definition of independence might not be very ill-applied to the Ottoman Power. An independent Member of Parliament was once said to be a Member who could not be depended on; and he thought such a definition fairly expressed the amount of independence which we were entitled to attribute to Turkey. In fact, the despatch, from beginning to end, was a peremptory order to the Turkish Government to make reparation as quickly as possible for the greatest crime that had stained the history of the present century. What had the Ottoman Government done in answer to the appeal and orders of Her Majesty's Government? He did not think it was possible to say that, in the trials or sham trials which had taken place, the Ottoman Government had complied with that despatch in the smallest degree. In the first Blue Book they found that nothing had been done; in the last Blue Book they found that nothing had been done. Mr. Baring, in accounting for his departure in disgust from Philippopolis, said—"Murder, arson, pillage have been committed in broad day, and yet nobody has been punished." He had waded carefully through those despatches, and he could not find one word that went to show that the Porte had in any way complied with the wishes of Her Majesty's Government. The Government had been using the name of the Sovereign and expressing the feeling of the country; but their requests had been entirely neglected. That being so, he could not see what objection there could be to the first Resolution of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone). But an Amendment to the Resolution had been submitted to the House by the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), and that Amendment implied that the adoption of the Resolution would "embarrass Her Majesty's Government." How could that be the case? The policy of the despatch of September, 1876, was the policy of Her Majesty's Government. They admitted that they had been flouted and scorned by the Ottoman Government. Could Her Majesty's Government be embarrassed by the House formally declaring what Her Majesty's Government themselves had declared over and over again? But the real fact was that the country had been told repeatedly, not by Her Majesty's Government, but by those outside, who were said to be friends of Her Majesty's Government, that it was a despatch which did not do justice to Turkey. [An hon. MEMBER: Name.] The hon. Gentleman could not have read the newspapers for the last six months. If the Amendment to this Resolution were carried, those who said the despatch did not do justice to Turkey might be satisfied; but he should have thought Her Majesty's Government who wrote that despatch, which fairly expressed the opinion of the people of England, would scarcely be satisfied. The second Resolution of his right hon. Friend stated that the Porte by its conduct to its subject populations, and by its refusal to give guarantees for their better government, had forfeited all claims to the moral or material support of the British Crown. Was there any Member of the House who would really deny that that proposition was true and ought to be affirmed? It would be curious to watch in the course of the debate whether any such denial would be attempted. Certainly, the proposition had not been denied by the Home Secretary in his speech of the previous evening. The right hon. Gentleman had said that England would be absolutely impartial in the war between Russia and Turkey, that Turkey was suffering for her faults, and that he had not a word to say for her. If so, why was the House to be precluded from pronouncing that Turkey did not deserve moral or material support from this country? So, again, in the Instructions given to Lord Salisbury it was stated that Great Britain was resolved not to sanction misgovernment and oppression, and that if the Porte by its obstinacy opposed the efforts then being made to place its Empire on a more secure basis, the responsibility for the consequences that might ensue would rest solely on the Turkish Government. Again, in the Blue Book issued a few days ago, there was a very interesting despatch from Consul Holmes, which expressed very clearly what the view of the English Government was as to the claim of Turkey to the moral support of England. He said— I have therefore thought it my duty to explain to them, that in the conduct of the British Government there has been no question of hostility to Turkey, or of friendship for Russia. That the efforts of Great Britain have been employed to bring about a peaceful solution of difficulties which endanger the very existence of Turkey, and that the only manner to do this was to go with Russia, as far as was just and reasonable, so as to be able to restrain her from action, and persistent in what was neither desirable for Turkey, nor Europe in general. I have pointed out to them that their Government and themselves have, by their conduct, rendered the position of their friends almost impossible, but that even now the desire of Great Britain is to see them, if there is yet any hope, prosperous and powerful; but that this is utterly impossible so long as their Christian fellow-subjects are oppressed and ill-treated, and the character of their Government remains the same. I have reminded them of the long years during which England has steadily supported and befriended them, and asked them whether, in private life, they would continue to do the same to any person whose promises of good conduct were never fulfilled, who was always affording justification for the assertions of his enemies, who ill-treated his dependents, who borrowed money which was squandered, and of which repayment was refused, and who, finally, repudiated advice given for his own safety and reinstatement. I added that they and their Government had one chance more, and that was to avail of the present to show that there was a real determination to reform their wretchedly corrupt and unjust system of administration, and substantially improve the condition of their Christian subjects, in which case I felt convinced that they would have no cause to complain of the attitude of Great Britain towards them. And if it were said that this expressed Consul Holmes's view, not that of the Government, it was only necessary to read a few pages further the despatch distinctly approving Consul Holmes's language on this occasion. In fact, Her Majesty's Government, in the strongest possible manner, had told Turkey that she had forfeited all claim either to the material or the moral support of this country; and that was all that the second Resolution expressed, and expressed in unmistakeable terms. He now came to the question started by the Mover of the Amendment last night—namely, that of British interests. It was suggested that the passing of that Resolution would in some way tie the hands of the Government so that they would not be able at the proper time, if it ever came, to give due attention to the protection of British interests. Now, on that point he had heard with very great satisfaction the statement of the Home Secretary. If ever there was a statement which dispelled a whole cloud of popular and vague theory as to British interests it was the one made last night by that right hon. Gentleman. It had been dinned into their ears for weeks, if not for months past, that they were to do something to prevent Russia from going to India. Now, he did not think that the Home Secretary even alluded, unless it was very distantly and parenthetically, to India. We had lately heard that unless we stopped the progress of Russia she would get to the Euphrates Valley, from the Euphrates to the Persian Gulf, where she would build a naval station from which fleets would come, imperilling our interests in the Indian Ocean. He was happy to find that the Home Secretary gave no countenance whatever to those alarms. But the right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the points at which they ought to be careful about British interests in that or in any war which might break out, and had referred to the Suez Canal and to Alexandria—a town which he had been rather surprised to hear a Minister speak of as a French, an English, or an European town, in oblivion of his own declarations about the independence of the Ottoman Empire of which it formed a part. However, there was no question that if our great interests at Alexandria and the Suez Canal were endangered we should be entitled, and every English Government would be bound, to protect them. But which was the great naval Power against which we had to protect them? Was it Russia? Why, they heard continued boasts about the greatness of the Turkish Fleet, and of its power to give a good account of any squadron which Russia could send into the Mediterranean against it. Certainly, British interests ought to be protected; but against whom was it within the bounds of possibility that they would have to protect them unless it was against Turkey, which had the more powerful fleet, and not against Russia? Interference with the freedom of passage in the Suez Canal was far more likely to come from Turkey than from her enemy. The same remark applied to the Dardanelles, where, the right hon. Gentleman said very truly, this country had great interests. Therefore, all they came to, when the protection of British interests was brought before them by the Home Secretary, was the probability of Turkey, rather than of Russia, taking steps which might interfere with the undoubted liberty we ought to have for trade at Suez, Alexandria, and the Bosphorus. [Mr. ASSHETON CROSS: I did not say so.] No; but he was describing what were the realities with which we should be faced, if the right hon. Gentleman's account of our interests were true, and as to those interests themselves there was practically no dispute between them. The protection of British interests would be, in his opinion, first rendered necessary, not in consequence of an attack by Russia, but from complications arising through the action in the Suez Canal or the Dardanelles of Turkey. So far, therefore, as to the appeals for immediate action against Russia which had gone up and down the country for the last few weeks, they had been set aside, and they might take it that the right hon. Gentleman attached their due importance to them, though he was not sure that that was the view taken by the Members of the Government as a body. The House had delivered to it within the last day or too a despatch from Lord Derby to Lord Augustus Loftus, dated May 1, in answer to Prince Gortchakoff's Circular, announcing that the Russian Armies had been ordered to cross the Turkish frontiers; and he was bound to say—and he said it with all sincerity—that he thought a more ill-advised, more violent, and more provoking despatch had been rarely laid before them. There was hardly a paragraph in it which did not contain language which a Power like Russia could not but feel to be a direct or indirect attack upon her; and hardly a paragraph which was not a distinct encouragement to Turkey—a mitigation of all that Turkey had done, and an encouragement to her, he did not say to walk in the same course as she had done, but to expect sooner or later the moral support at least of Her Majesty's Government. Whoever had written that despatch must have been singularly forgetful of what he had been writing a few days before. Lord Derby in that despatch, referring to the expressions used in the Protocol, said— The Porte no doubt has thought fit—unfortunately in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government—to protest against the expressions in question as implying an encroachment on the Sultan's sovereignty and independence. But, while so doing, and while declaring that they cannot consider the Protocol as having any binding character on Turkey, the Turkish Government have again affirmed their intention of carrying into execution the reforms already promised. The despatch went on to refer to the presence of Russian Forces on the Turkish frontiers as standing in the way of the execution of the projected reforms, and spoke in terms of condemnation of the action of Russia generally. What could that despatch mean? It could only mean that while Her Majesty's Government admitted that Turkey had committed some error of judgment, they desired it to be understood that the offence of Russia was infinitely greater. Compare this with what Lord Derby had said a few days before, when, on the 15th of April, writing to the Charge d'Affairs at Constantinople, he pointed out that if Turkey recklessly refused to assent to the proposals on the part of the Powers, she would give Russia the opportunity of putting her in the wrong in the eyes of Europe. Now, there was nothing about "reckless refusal" in the despatch of the 1st of May, and nothing about her being "put in the wrong." He would also refer hon. Members to that remarkable despatch describing Lord Derby's interview with Musurus Pasha, and the description he then gave the Ambassador of the conduct of the Porte. Altogether that despatch was an unworthy despatch to have emanated from any Government. It was highly provocative to Russia in every sense of the word; but there was one remark in it which he could not help noticing—namely, that the course on which the Russian Government had entered involved serious considerations, and was "in contravention of the stipulation of the Treaty of Paris." These were serious words. They implied that the Treaty of Paris had been violated by some act originating with the Russian Government; but he would remind the House that Lord Derby, in September last, expressly declared that war with Rus- sia, which Her Majesty's Government could do nothing to prevent, would bring this country into opposition with its previous engagements. That was an assertion that if Turkey persisted in the conduct it was then pursuing, it would compel this country to violate her Treaty engagements. Well, Turkey did persist in the course she was then pursuing, and now Russia was told, not that we were violating our Treaty engagements, but that she was doing so, and doing so not by the fault of the Porte, but by her own act. When that despatch was penned some one ought to have reminded Lord Derby of his previous language. The despatch, he presumed, emanated from the Cabinet, and they could know nothing of Cabinet secrets; but he could not help thinking that, though the hand was the hand of Lord Derby, the voice was Lord Beaconsfield's. That being the case, such a temperate Motion as had been brought forward by his right hon. Friend, and such a debate as was now taking place, were, in his humble judgment, not only opportune, but most necessary; thoroughly consistent with that definition of the duty of an Opposition which had been stated with such force lately in another place—namely, that when a Government appeared wavering between two courses, one wise and the other unwise, to impress the former on the country by a Parliamentary Vote in a manner alike temperate and unequivocal. No one could deny that there had been during the past few days a powerful endeavour on the part of the Press to mark the difference which existed between the two sections of Her Majesty's Government. In the Press which represented the Conservative Party, both in the daily and weekly organs, those differences had been accentuated in the clearest possible manner, and it was to those differences that he would refer hon. Members who thought the recent conduct of Her Majesty's Government consistent with the Blue Books. He had recently read in the principal organ of what he might call the intellectual Conservatives an article which, referring to the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), put the case admirably, and he would read a sentence from it. The article said— The question at once arises of confidence in the British Government—a Government which can accept a Resolution like the Resolution of the noble Lord—one which professes to be concerned, in the first instance, for the future safety of the Christian populations. On a matter so serious as this the country will not much longer endure to remain in ignorance, whether we are governed by Lord Beaconsfield or Lord Salisbury, or whether or not the control of the foreign policy has or has not passed from Lord Derby to Lord Salisbury. That extract was taken from The Pall Hall Gazette, a paper which hitherto had been the consistant supporter of the Foreign Office. It was from friends like those that they were doing their best to protect Her Majesty's Government; it was from friends like those—not isolated, not to be found only here and there, but pervading all society that the real danger arose. From that point of view he could not help thinking his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) had done a good work in bringing forward his Resolutions. They would, at any rate for a time, save the country from being dragged into the fatal policy of which the despatch to Prince Gortchakoff was the latest expression.


If I had felt uneasy at any period as to the future of the Conservative Party, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down I should have felt very considerably relieved. The right hon. Member has talked of the "intellectual Conservative Party," a very different name from what was formerly applied to us by hon. Gentlemen on that Bench—and beyond this, he has been kind enough to say that the Opposition were willing to protect Her Majesty's Government. What with such an acknowledgment of our intellectual position, and. with an offer of such doughty aid, I must conclude that the dark days of the Party are over. We have, in fact, been promoted, and I hope the Party is duly thankful for the kind things that have been said. Now, I am free to confess that on one point I agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he says that the proposal of the right hon. Member for Greenwich is one of vital importance. I will tell you why; but before dwelling on this point, I will briefly run over some of his remarks which seem to call for a reply. And in doing so, I must take exception to the extraordinary feeling of suspicion with which we have been treated in reference to the Bulga- rian atrocities. What have we done in word or act to lead people to suppose that we lack, any more than the rest of the country, the common feelings of humanity? I would not yield to anyone in the feeling of utter detestation of those abominable transactions which so deeply touched the heart of England last Autumn, and, indeed, horrified the whole civilized world. But I confess to a sense of some humiliation, or rather, I should say, of strong indignation that anyone should have dared even to hint that anything but detestation could have been entertained with regard to this subject on the side of the House on which we sit. The right hon. Gentleman has expressed satisfaction that a hundred curious little stories, which were the product of London drawing-rooms and London clubs, have been blown away by the manly speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary; and it is to be hoped that now, at any rate, people will cease to believe all these floating stories, which long ago they ought to have known had not a shadow of a foundation in fact. It seems to me the right hon. Gentleman has taken rather a curious course with regard to the despatch of Lord Derby of the 21st of September. That despatch, the right hon. Gentleman says, was not the despatch of a Ministry, but the despatch of a nation. I need hardly say that Government appreciates the compliment paid to them, and I, for one, am prepared to endorse all that the despatch contained. But then the right hon. Gentleman says that, if the attention paid to such a despatch of a nation is insufficient, the nation ought to reply. Surely it is a new doctrine to lay down that when the Foreign Secretary has written over and over again about the neglect with which the recommendations of a despatch have been treated, the nation should use some other mouthpiece. The whole responsibility of a Foreign Minister is gone if other persons, or even a Committee of this House are to dictate to him his despatches. Then the right hon. Gentleman says it is generally acknowledged that Turkey is not really independent; but surely he could not have forgotten that the Representatives of all the Great Powers took as the basis of the Conference only last year the maintenance of the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire? [Mr. CHILDERS: Lord Salisbury denied it.] Well, granting for a moment that the right hon. Gentleman's view is correct as to Lord Salisbury, in a case of this kind I must decline to accept the dictum of a Secretary of State, however distinguished, if it is in opposition to the formal assertion of the Six Powers of Europe, of which our own country was one. It is satisfactory to find that the right hon. Gentleman at least has some feeling about some British interests. He says he thinks Her Majesty's Government are bound to protect those interests. But British interests, he adds, are, as far as he can see, at present confined to the Suez Canal and Alexandria. That is a very curious statement. The right hon. Gentleman appears to forget altogether that there is such a place as India. India, according to him, is so trifling a spot on the map of the world that it is not worth mentioning. The right hon. Gentleman has had the advantage—and I wish I was able to say as much—of having lived in another Colony of England, and that marvellous Colonial Kingdom of Australia is so large, and its future so great, that I cannot but conclude that his long acquaintance with that Continent has made him overlook India and its vast interests and responsibilities. Such, however, is not the opinion of Her Majesty's Government. We have—is it necessary to avow it?—some regard for the Indian Empire, and for other British interests not included in Alexandria and the Suez Canal. Whether I am right or wrong as to his view of British interests, when I consider the whole bearing of his remarks as to the position taken up by Russia, I can only interpret the speech of the right hon. Gentleman—who spoke with the grave responsibility of a former Cabinet Minister—as meaning that he gives his approbation to the course which Russia is now following. I am sure that the country is by no means aware of the conversion of the front Opposition bench on the subject of Russia. It is high time it should be known, so that the country should ponder well the results likely to follow from this extraordinary state of things. Now, surely I am justified in my remarks. For I confess I was no less astonished than alarmed when I heard the observations which fell the previous night from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, who expressed the opinion that Russia "has made itself the organ of the collective will, the united judgment, and the solemn conclusions of Europe." These words seem to bear one meaning alone—namely, that Russia is justified in going to war. Then, looking to another section of the House, I find an hon. Member below the Gangway—the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain)—saying that he did not see how Russia could have refrained from taking further steps in order to attain the object she had in view. In this, again, is distinct approval of Russia going to war. These views of hon. Members may be right or may be wrong; but it is certainly an important view of foreign affairs which is coming out before the country, which these declarations coming from the right hon. Member for Greenwich, from the front Opposition Bench, and from the Radical section below the Gangway, show to be the opinion of the Leaders of the Liberal Party—namely, that contrary to the formal judgment of France, of Germany, of Austria, and of Italy; contrary to the declaration of Her Majesty's Government and of the rest of this nation generally, if we may judge from the almost unanimous opinion of the Press, that Russia was justified in going to war. Now, the House is not only discussing the observations of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but is also more especially considering the very grave propositions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. I will therefore pass away from the speech of the right hon. Member for Pontefract, and I would entreat the House to weigh well what are the real as well as the ostensible objects of the two Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman. I suppose I may fairly pass over the third and fourth Resolutions, though I must say I am still a little puzzled—and I believe I am not the only Member who is puzzled—as to whether they have really been dropped. I am inclined to believe that the position is pretty much this—that they are physically dropped, but morally retained. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Materially dropped, but morally retained.] I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the word materially—it is just what I was looking for—they are materially dropped, but morally retained—but it seems to me it is a very awkward position to assume—both for the right hon. Gentleman and for the House. It is very difficult to understand the material dropping of these Resolutions; but still more difficult to understand their moral retention. Now, are they or are they not really and seriously dropped? The right hon. Member for Greenwich said that "the first and second Resolutions were, in his mind, introductory to the third and fourth;" that he "looked upon the entire argument as one:" and that, "logically and morally, the Resolutions were connected in his mind." The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) said he did not see how they could be separated. The right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), moreover, spoke of them in a laudatory manner, and held that, although the third and fourth Resolutions are not actually to be moved, Members are entitled to refer to them. So far, then, I understand the wish of the Opposition to be to enjoy the luxury of discussing all the points raised] in the Resolutions without incurring the slightest responsibility attaching to an expression of a definite policy upon this most dangerous question. I cannot think I am wrong, when I look at this group of Resolutions, if I say that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) in proposing them, ought, if followed out logically, to be first a Vote of Censure upon Turkey, and then a Vote of Censure on Her Majesty's Government. I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman, with the opinions he has expressed, does not move such a Vote of Censure. He may have felt a difficulty in getting numerically a majority to upset the Government; but, holding such opinions as the right hon. Gentleman holds, and feeling so strongly as he appears to do their importance, I cannot understand how the right hon. Gentleman—remembering the great position he has held as Prime Minister and as a leading Adviser of the Crown during many years, during periods of great difficulty—can justify his conduct in abstaining, in the face of the country, from proposing such a Vote of Censure. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that, by passing his Resolutions, he undoubtedly contemplates bringing about an alteration in the policy of the Government. That is to say that, as he declines to move a Vote of Censure, the Government is to be kept in power simply to do his bidding. Surely I need not remind the House that that would be a state of things which would be unprecedented in our Parliamentary history. The right hon. Gentleman has not hesitated to say that there has been no chapter in the history of our foreign policy since the Peace of Vienna so deplorable as the history of the last 18 months. Why does he not at once propose a Vote of Censure; or, rather, how can he reconcile it with his duty, as a former principal Adviser of the Crown, to refrain from endeavouring to drive from office Ministers whom he considers guilty of such misconduct? He has asserted in so many words that England has been the sole obstacle to the success of the Conference. That, if true, is a proper cause for the impeachment of the Government. Again, he represented Her Majesty's Government as playing the part of "the evil genius of Europe"—those were his very words: now, holding such opinions, the very least thing the right hon. Gentleman could do would be to move a regular Vote of Censure on Her Majesty's Government; and, at any rate, to give the nation an opportunity by their Representatives of expressing their judgment on such a grave position of affairs. But no; he refuses to put the question to a test; and let the House think what a position the right lion. Gentleman has tried to put the country in. Surely in the conduct of its foreign affairs there can be nothing more fatal to a country's influence in the councils of the world, and consequently to its safety, dignity, and prosperity, than the suspicion that it is under a dual Government. Now, what does the right hon. Gentleman do? He scatters insinuations of dissensions within the Government, and he throws these supposed dissensions, of his own imagination, which every Member of the Government knows to be groundless, in our teeth as the most damaging charge he can make. He proceeds to declare that not only is there a dual Government in the Cabinet; but also that the country is divided—one Party supported by a majority of the House and by the Sovereign, and another—in his opinion the larger one—supported by large public meetings and by the general public out-of-doors. This is surely an intolerable position. The public ought to settle, aye or no, whether there is this division of opinion in the nation, and whether, in such a momentous crisis of the world's affairs, there is to be a dual Government—not as the right hon. Gentleman most recklessly asserts within the Cabinet—but whether he himself, shrinking from proposing a Vote of Censure, without responsibility, is to wield the foreign policy of this country; or whether it is to be still entrusted to the full responsibility of Her Majesty's present Advisers. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman cheers me; why does he not then boldly, and in a straightforward way, propose a Vote of Censure? No one can suppose that these attenuated Resolutions assume anything like the proportions of a Vote of Censure. I agree most cordially with the right hon. Gentleman that the position of affairs in the East is very grave and serious, and is enough to make anyone familiar with those countries, as I am, very unhappy. But I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thinks that the social and municipal reforms which are urgently required are likely to be successfully started in the face of an insurrection in a country honeycombed by foreign emissaries and threatened on every frontier by the large embattled hosts of its hereditary and relentless foes? I beg the right hon. Gentleman to give his best attention to what I am about to say. Since the settlement of 1856 there have been many years of profound peace in Turkey and also in Europe. There were years of peace—years of the greatest importance to Turkey—during which the British nation stood justly high in the opinion of the people of the East and the West. The Party with which the present Government was connected had no real share of power during those 20 years. They were occasionally in office; but, owing to circumstances, they had no substantial power during their short tenures of office, and being weak in support at home, could not influence to any sensible extent the foreign policy of the country. The right hon. Gentleman, on the other hand, was a leading personage in every Government—except the Conservative Governments — since 1856. Well, what was he doing, and what has he done for the Ottoman Porte during that time? Was he using the name of England to support sensible reforms in Turkey? Was he trying to use his influence with the Turkish Government that the taxes should not be farmed, that the police should be improved? Has he been endeavouring during those years to establish a European concert of the Great Powers? I do not refer to the events in Syria and the disturbances in Crete, because these were periods when the European Governments, as a matter of self-preservation, were obliged to do something. But I am talking of the quiet years between 1856 and the time when the right hon. Gentleman went out of office. He praises Lord Stratford de Redcliffe as a man of masterly ability, of iron will, and he acknowledges that some few improvements were made in Turkish administration during those two short years after the Crimean War, during which Lord Stratford was able to remain at his post. But why, I want to know, did not the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends search out for such men as Lord Stratford, whom he so highly praises, and man every Consulate and Embassy in the East with persons of that type and calibre, so as to assist in producing in times of peace those reforms which he now seeks to impose upon the Turkish Government by force of arms in a time of terror and distress? It is clear to me that the right hon. Gentleman is not without certain regrets in this matter, and that his conscience is constantly calling him to account; and I quite understand the plaintive tone in which the right hon. Gentleman admitted that, although there had been remonstrances in these years from his Government when he was in full power, these remonstrances were, as he says, "not very numerous." The golden opportunity was missed, those years of peace were neglected by the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends, the real time for reforms was quietly and calmly allowed to pass. No, Sir, the more you examine the matter, the more clearly does it come out that Turkey received very little friendly advice from the right hon. Gentleman; and, forsooth, the present Government are now to be condemned because they cannot introduce large domestic reforms in a time of disquietude and trouble, when Turkey is torn to pieces by internal dissensions and threat- ened by foreign war. What does the right hon. Gentleman really ask the Government to do? I have picked out a few of the salient phrases from the right hon. Gentleman's speech of last night. I would beg the House to give them their best attention while I read them. He said— But if I am to look at the tone and tenor of the declarations of the Government for the last two or three months, I am sorry to say that they seem to me to be relapsing into a position in which the outrages inflicted by the Government of Turkey are to be contemplated as matters of sentimental regret, and for idle and verbal expostulations. He proceeds to ask— But the question remains, How are these terrible evils, which afflict Turkey and disgrace Europe, to be met? Are they to be met by remonstrances and expostulations only? The answer echoed back from the Ministerial benches is, 'By remonstrances and expostulations only.' Now that, I believe, human nature, the conscience of mankind, and the civilization of the nineteenth century, will no longer bear. And he declares that— It is time to remonstrate against remonstrances, and to protest against protestations. All this surely means that there ought to be no more words, but deeds. The right hon. Gentleman added that this state of things required an effectual remedy. And the right hon. Gentleman did not hesitate to conclude his remarks of this nature by complaining that— We ought to view with regret and misgiving anything that puts a single Power in a position to take such a charge upon herself. As far as I can interpret the right hon. Gentleman's words—which it is sometimes difficult to do, when the House is carried away by the charms of his rhetoric—undoubtedly the right hon. Gentleman requires further action, and—I cannot think that I misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman—that further action only means war against Turkey in concert with Russia. I should be only too charmed to find I am wrong in this impression; but, after the failure of the European Conference, and every conceivable negotiation between all the Powers during the last 18 months, can any reasonable man suppose that this further action can mean anything else but war? The House thus comes face to face with the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman that we are to join Russia in fighting against Turkey. What, I ask, is to be the position of this country in the great war in which we are to take part? Are we to go into it without any allies except Russia? As far as I can judge from the Blue Books, Italy is by no means to join us in war against Turkey, Germany refuses point blank, France assures us she has no notion to take part in the crusade, and Austria repeats as emphatically the same tale. The country, then, would be put in this very serious position, that we were to go to war—at the bidding of the right hon. Gentleman—against Turkey in concert with Russia, and with no other ally. ["Hear, hear!"] I am, indeed, surprised to hear that cheer from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—for what, I ask, is to be the object—what are to be the hopes—of this joint war with Russia against Turkey? Are we to fight under the standard that has been raised by Russia "for Faith and Fatherland?" The right hon. Gentleman surely does not wish to raise that dangerous war cry of the Cross, which either has been or may most probably be raised by our supposed ally? Or does the right hon. Gentleman propose to fight it out on the proposals which the European Conference originally laid down? Or are Her Majesty's Government to arrange simply that the Governors of certain provinces north of the Balkans should hold office for five years, that the police were to be reformed, that an International Commission should sit, and that the taxes should be no longer farmed? Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not want this country to enter into a great war, to sacrifice countless valuable lives, and to waste its treasures for such a cause as this. What does the right hon. Gentleman wish England to fight for? I have shown that it is war clearly to which the right hon. Gentleman would commit us; and, even at the risk of wearying the House, I desire to make out what we are to fight for. I want, in fact, to unravel the policy of the right hon. Gentleman before hon. Gentlemen opposite and the nation are committed to it. I am told he wishes us to fight for autonomous States north of Constantinople. What, then, I say, does the right hon. Gentleman mean by "autonomous States north of Constantinople," and why are we to fight, and can we expect to fight only for autonomy north of Constantinople? These States have been sketched in the right hon. Gentleman's early works on this subject, where he alludes to them as States from which all Turkish officers should be banished. If once we began to establish autonomous States there, all the other nationalities of Turkey will at once ask for them. Now, I have wandered through all the countries between Syria, Persia, and Armenia, and have dwelt with most of the ancient and various races which people these strange and interesting regions; and from my own knowledge of them, I can say that every one of these nationalities aspires after autonomy; but, at the same time, I must express my conviction that, high though the qualities of some of them are, autonomy would be a fatal gift to them, would involve them in endless feuds with their neighbours, and would plunge their country into such a state of anarchy as would be ruinous to all concerned. If, then, we go to war for autonomous States north of Constantinople, we have a most serious flight of demands for similar changes from the other nationalities. If England should plunge into this war, everyone must see that she would, by so doing, reverse the whole of our ancient policy, would astonish Europe, and disturb all the Mahomedans of India. For what purpose, then, should we go to war? I cannot see any sufficient reason or purpose in those I have hitherto discussed for this war with Russia, without any European allies, against our ancient ally; but it must be for some large—some world-wide purpose. But, granted there is sufficient reason, and suppose we do go to war, and suppose that Turkey is overcome, and her fleet is destroyed, what difficulties should we still have to face? The real difficulties would then begin. England and Russia would have, in fact, to settle between them the great question of the East. A dual Government, as we have already said, is mischievous in a single country; what would dual management be in determining this great problem? "Can two people walk together unless they be agreed?" After what type are the constitutions of the new States all over Turkey to be formed? England prides herself on free representative institutions, freedom of speech, on the toleration of every creed, on her free Press, on her free trade. Is it likely that Russia and England would, be agreed in those respects? I do not wish to say anything against the domestic policy of other States. They are perfectly free, of course, to select their own line in these matters; but is it not a matter of notoriety that the Russians, or the ruling classes in Russia, are devoted to a military and despotic Government? They closely supervise the Press; they do not allow the toleration of other creeds; they are in favour of the strictest Protective duties. Is it in the slightest degree likely that these two Powers, England and Russia, could agree as to the government of the States that were to be torn from unhappy Turkey? But when we have torn up Treaties, disturbed Europe, and astonished Asia, should we have a chance of establishing a series of free States? Could Russia permit the establishment of such States either on her European or her Asiatic frontiers? Certainly not. We should have then to be parties to the establishment of States after the model of Russia, and that will be a pretty position in which the Liberal Party, following the lead of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, will, after infinite bloodshed and heavy taxation, find themselves landed. The question involved is so very serious that when once it is considered I can hardly believe that many hon. Gentlemen will be found to follow the lead of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich in a course which will lead to such a prospect of future evil and peril, with hardly any compensating good in view; and I am confident the country, in any case, will not support him. The right hon. Gentleman, I may fairly say, has shown us no tenable alternative policy to that of Her Majesty's Government. I think, therefore, we have a right to demand that we should no longer be subject to these semi-Votes of Censure; and that we should ask the House, with one accord, to suspend all Party feeling, and to accept the proposal of my hon. Friend (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), and to declare that they decline, at such a critical moment as the present, to embarrass Her Majesty's Government by any fanciful Resolutions, however eloquently they may be submitted to the House and with whatever noble sentiments they may be surrounded. Now, the right hon. Gentleman's Resolutions, beyond being a censure on Her Majesty's Government, are also a censure on the Government of Turkey, and is it Parliament's business to pass such a censure on a friendly State? Is it generous and right to do so when that State is in the very agony of a foreign invasion? During the Franco-German War we heard a great deal about neutrality, and England was asked by both sides to observe a benevolent neutrality—which I confess has always appeared to me to be a contradiction in terms. Now we are asked to observe a benevolent neutrality towards Russia, and to pass a Vote of Censure upon Turkey, and by so doing we are clearly invited to commit a breach of that neutrality which Her Majesty has only recently, with the general assent of the nation, proclaimed. What, I would once more ask, does the right hon. Gentleman's Motion mean, even if we accept it for the moment merely as a Vote of Censure not upon the Government, but upon Turkey? The right hon. Gentleman himself explained it when, in reference to Lord Derby's despatch, he said— Now, Sir, I pass from this general argument to the first Resolution, and to Lord Derby's despatch. That despatch involved one of two things. It was either a declaration that ought to have been followed up, or else it was a gross and unwarrantable insult to Turkey. There is no escape from the dilemma. You have no right to go about flinging those violent words in the face of any Power, unless that Power has made itself a criminal before Europe; and if that Power is to have your moral support, you have certainly no right to use such language. You were bound either to tear that despatch into shreds, or to go further in your own vindication. What does that word "further" mean? It means action; and action I have already shown can, under present circumstances, only mean war. The right hon. Gentleman blamed the Secretary of State for having penned in his despatch words which either intimated that England would, in certain circumstances, go further—that is to say, go to war—or, if not, for having insulted Turkey. What is the meaning of his present proposal but to pledge not the Secretary of State, but the House of Commons, to sanction language which, by his own confession, ought to be either followed up by action—that is war—or to be destroyed, to be torn to shreds by the House of Commons as an unwarrantable insult to Turkey? This passage of the right hon. Gentle- man's speech throws a great light on the proceedings in which the House is now engaged; and I cannot imagine how any hon. Gentleman opposite who ponders over it can fail to see that if, in the sense the right hon. Gentleman proposed it, he votes for the two Resolutions, emasculated though they have been, he is voting for going to war with Russia against Turkey. It evidently must mean this—that the passing of the Resolution should be followed up by material intervention on the part of Her Majesty's Government. Nobody admires more than I do enthusiasm such as that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich and his followers, when they believed that the grossest oppression and the foulest crimes had been perpetrated. Real enthusiasm is always a noble thing, and seems to have something of the divine element in it, and, when true and genuine, lifts us above the sordid motives and petty calculations of ordinary life; but much though we honour such feelings, it is surely the business of a Government to see that they are not carried away by such sentiments, however noble, and look at affairs with the calmness which the great interests entrusted to them demand, for it is an enormous charge which Her Majesty's Government has to bear. Instead of talking of British interests, of which hon. Gentlemen opposite have thought fit to speak in contemptuous strains, I prefer to speak of British responsibilities—those heavy responsibilities which belong to us as the very heart of an enormous Empire. The question is not one of sordid interest, lust of pelf, desire of conquest, or pride of possession. We find ourselves at the head of an extraordinary confederation of the Anglo-Saxon race, that rules in every quarter of the globe, that has under its sway the swarthy millions of India, and has marked out for its own, by its commerce and Colonies, all the most favoured regions of the civilized world. When we glance at the map of the world, and mark how there is scarcely a commanding cape or beautiful island on which our flag does not wave, and when we remember—not without some pride and gratitude—that these possessions are for the most part centres of freedom and justice and Christianity, how is it possible that we should not feel that it would be a grievous loss to the world at large if these fair regions were scrambled for by the nations, and were turned into scenes of turmoil and war? It is surely, then, from no sordid sense of British interests, but from a deep and overwhelming sense of British responsibility, that we look with the deepest anxiety upon any steps by any foreign Power—be they great or small, be they in the East or in the West — which threaten to break up that British Empire, or in the remotest degree to weaken that power which alone preserves to these vast and widely-scattered possessions the blessings of a peace and a prosperity such as other nations have seldom known. Whatever may be the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the present danger of that Empire being assailed, we believe it to be our duty to watch and to guard it with the greatest jealousy. No apprehension of temporary ridicule, no dread of misrepresentation, no fear of attack from opponents, will shake our view as to the grave responsibility of our position, or will deter us from doing our best in our day and generation to hand down to our posterity the great charge we have received of the United British Empire—the most wonderful Republic of nations which the world has seen united under the most ancient and most beautiful of Crowns.


said, that no policy would come from that (the Opposition) side of the House which would diminish the glory and the splendour of the British Empire. He denied that the Party with which he was connected had ever sacrificed British interests; and, in his opinion, those interests would always be safe in the hands of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, who was the foremost statesman of the age. He (Mr. Vivian) was one of the few Members now in the House who had the honour of a seat at the time of the declaration of the last war with Russia, and he honestly confessed that he had regretted the vote he had given on that occasion. England and France had intervened on that occasion to prevent the Turkish Empire being destroyed; and, consequently, he thought we were both responsible for the outrages which had since been committed by that nation. He was afraid that unless we took great care and did not speak out we should drift into war now as we drifted into war then, especially if some great Russian victory took place, and the troops of the Czar overran European Turkey and Asia Minor. The noble Lord (Viscount Sandon) repudiated the idea that there was a dual influence in the Government; but when they contrasted the speeches and actions of the head of the Government with what was said yesterday by the Home Secretary, they had a right to suspect and believe that a considerable difference of opinion existed in the Government. If this country had, at an early period, declared its determination that the system of misgovernment in the Turkish provinces should be reformed, at this moment no war would exist. If England had supported the Berlin Memorandum, Turkey would not have been insane enough to repel its proposals. He had heard with the greatest satisfaction of the appointment of Lord Salisbury to the Conference at Constantinople; but he proceeded to that Conference with such a weight hanging round his neck as precluded the possibility of success. In connection with Lord Salisbury's Mission to Constantinople it was very desirable to remember the circumstances in which his Lordship was placed. Did hon. Members suppose that the utterances of the Prime Minister exercised no influence upon the Turkish mind? Did they think that the declaration of the Premier that no more unjust war was ever waged than that which Servia declared against Turkey passed unnoticed by the Porte? Did they imagine that the Guildhall speech had not had its effect in encouraging the resistance of Turkey? All that being so, he must say that he was astonished at a man with the statesmanlike knowledge and power of Lord Salisbury accepting, with a dead weight around his neck, what could hardly fail in the circumstances to prove a thankless office. He would not call the policy of the Government puerile, because he did not think any boy would say to a bully at school—"I wish you would stop ill-using those little boys, but if you do not stop it is not my intention to give you a thrashing." He would not therefore call it puerile. It was senile—it was nothing but the outcome of old age—to say to Turkey—"I will remonstrate with you, but I will not coerce you." The Home Secretary had stated the other day that it would have been most improper to have gone to the Conference and said—"If you do not do that which I recommend I will then be prepared to make war upon you." He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman; but was that the alternative? Surely, when we had a dispute with a man, and entered into negotiation with him, we did not necessarily say—"If you do not give way I will not go to law with you." We endeavoured by every means in our power to get the man to do what we wished; but, while acting in that manner, we did not inform him that we would not go to law with him. That, however, was in effect what the Government had told Turkey; and with what result?—that England had been insulted by the Porte. Our Ambassador had been sent away from Constantinople without even having the opportunity of taking leave of the Sultan, under the miserable pretext that the Sovereign of the country had the toothache. Such an insult had never before been heaped upon any country, so far as he was aware; and yet we continued to pay Turkey "delicate attention." That certainly was not a vigorous foreign policy, and that was the policy which had led to the war which was now in progress. He had the firm conviction that if the Members of Her Majesty's Government had said at once they so detested and abhorred the misrule of Turkey, that they would not allow it to continue, and that if necessary they would be prepared to join with others in insisting upon such measures being taken as would cause justice again to rule in that unhappy country, the present calamitous war would never have occurred. It was because the Government had not taken such a course that he believed the war lay strictly at their door. With reference to the Bulgarian horrors, he was very glad to hear the speech delivered on the previous evening by the Home Secretary. That right hon. Gentleman had expressed his detestation of those atrocities in terms which, so far as he knew, had not been used before by any Member of the Government; and that appeared to him to be a matter for congratulation. His right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich spoke at length on this important point, and a considerable portion of his most able and eloquent speech—the most able and eloquent he had ever heard fall from his right hon. Friend's lips—was directed to fix on the Turkish Government the absolute responsibility for these massacres. This he thoroughly succeeded in doing; and it was rather extraordinary that neither the Home Secretary nor the noble Lord who had just spoken, after 24 hours' reflection on the speech of his right hon. Friend, had attempted to answer the case which he had so elaborately made out against the Turkish Government. He was glad to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer taking a note of this particular point, for he should be happy to hear any defence of the Turkish Government, if any defence could be made; which, however, he did not think possible. The portion of the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich to which he referred had been passed over by the Home Secretary and the noble Lord, and he, therefore, assumed that they considered it unanswerable, and that they regarded the Turkish Government as responsible for the crimes which had been committed. Well, if the Home Secretary and the noble Lord so detested and abhorred those atrocities, they must equally detest and abhor the Turkish Government. The two things followed as a logical sequence; and there was no escape from the position. What, then, was the policy of Her Majesty's Government? Did they mean to support Turkey? Were they now as fully bent upon upholding the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire as they had been during the past year? Or did they not think that the time had come when some arrangement might be made by which the oppressed provinces might be better governed than they had hitherto been or were now by the effete and worn-out administration of the Ottoman? The noble Lord who preceded him in the debate had asked what was the policy of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich? but his right hon. Friend was not bound to have a policy. The Government, however, were bound to have a policy; and what was it? He had not the smallest conception of what it was. He had certainly been somewhat relieved by the speech of the Home Secretary; but what was the policy of that speech? It was a policy of strict neutrality. Well, strict neutrality was a very good policy for the time being; but what of the future? He wanted to know whether Prince Bismarck was spoken to, and if he entertained those fears of Russia which hon. Gentlemen opposite appeared to entertain. Did they suppose that this was the only country which had cause to fear Russian aggression? Austria and Germany were as much interested in the Danube as we were in the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, and they might be certain that neither Austria nor Germany would ever allow Russia to take possession of Constantinople or the northern provinces of Turkey. The Government knew what Prince Bismarck had said on this subject and ought to give some intimation of it to the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated some time ago at Edinburgh that all private Members were utterly ignorant of foreign politics.


I did not say so.


Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will inform us what he did say then.


What I said was that a great many of them did not understand foreign politics.


said, that when he read the statement attributed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer it struck him as a very strong one. He had sat in that House for 25 years, and had never before opened his mouth on foreign policy, yet he took a great interest in the subject. He admitted that private Members had not access to the documents to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had access; and therefore he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would give the House some insight into them, and tell them what were the opinions of Prince Bismarck with reference to Russia and the northern provinces of Turkey. Syria and the coast of the Mediterranean were matters of deep interest to France and Italy as well as to England. What was the policy of the Government as to them? Were they going to uphold the Turkish Empire inviolable with all its terrible consequences? If not, and if the knell of the Turkish Empire had sounded—which, for his part, he fully believed was the case—what was their policy? Egypt and the Suez Canal were of great interest to this country. He went further, and said that the Mediterranean shores of Asia Minor and the Euphrates Valley were also of great importance to us. Russia could not be allowed to take possession of Turkey. Were they prepared to re-establish the old Byzantine Empire? The Emperor Nicholas always said he was not prepared for that; and the Emperor Alexander had pledged his word, in the most solemn manner, that he had no desire for conquest; and surely our Government, if they did not desire to uphold the Turkish Empire, should be prepared with some policy in the event of that Empire being broken up. What was it to be? Did they propose to establish an Empire, a Kingdom, or a Confederation of States? He saw no reason why there should not be a Confederation. It worked well in Switzerland. They might depend upon it that they could not maintain the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire, and the country would never allow them to go to war again for Turkey. They were a strong Government and a united Party. He admired their unity; and it was only by unity that Parties were successful, and the sooner that was recognized by all the better. He had spoken strongly upon this Eastern Question; but whatever his convictions might be, he was not prepared to divide his Party on them. The Home Secretary had challenged them to say whether the people who attended the meetings held in support of the Resolutions of the right hon. Member for Greenwich were informed that the logical consequence of them was that a war would ensue between this country and Turkey? Now, he had attended a public meeting of his own constituents, very near the place where such heroism had lately been displayed by the miners, and he told the meeting that the logical consequence of the course recommended might be war. No resolution for war was put to the meeting; but he was firmly convinced these gallant men would, if the necessity arose, back any Government in this country in a war to prevent the recurrence of the inhuman massacres and the horrible condition of things that had subsisted for so many years in the Turkish Empire. If, on the contrary, the Government should ever be desirous to go to war in favour of Turkey, he wished to let them know that there was a Party in the House of Commons which would prevent them getting one farthing until they had taken the sense of the country on the subject. If the Conservatives wished to send the Liberals to the other side of the House with such a majority at their backs as they had never had before, they had only to go to the country with a policy of that kind.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down surely could not desire that the Government should have used threats to Turkey which they did not intend to carry out. Such conduct would neither have been honourable or conducive to the interests of the country, nor would it have had any effect on the attitude which Turkey had determined on all along, if Russia had gone into the war with Allies or not. The hon. Gentleman belonged to a Party which, for the last 15 years, had been preaching the doctrine that this country should not go to war on any consideration, however great the moral obligation might be, unless the individual defence of this country was concerned. [Mr. HUSSEY VIVIAN: I beg pardon. I do not belong to any such Party.] Well, he (Mr. Percy Wyndham) had had the honour of sitting in that House for 17 years, and those were the sentiments which he had invariably heard from the opposite benches. Moreover, only two Sessions since, at the instance of the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) that House affirmed a Resolution, supported by hon. Members on that side, that no dispute should henceforth be settled by war, but by arbitration alone. It would be a matter of regret if, owing to the Resolutions being brought forward in a mutilated form, it had not been open to the House to discuss the question in its entirety; but he was relieved from any apprehention of that sort by the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) and the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), as the speech of the right hon. Gentleman went beyond the Resolutions in their present restricted form. The country desired the discussion of the question in its entirety, and the time had come when its discussion might take place without harm, and even with public advantage. The time for mediation and advice had gone by; negotiations had ceased, and therefore a debate could not interfere with them. Such a debate, too, would show that while some in this House could not sympathize with Russia, there was no Party or section of a Party anxious for war. Although it had been challenged in that House, he believed the conduct and policy of Her Majesty's Government had been in its main features consistent. They had stated distinctly that they would mediate and give advice, but that they would not go to war to enforce their advice; and therefore the policy which had acceded to the Andrassy Note, which implied advice and not coercion; the policy which had refused to join in the Berlin Memorandum, which implied the enforcement of its provisions; and the policy which had led to the Conference, had been all one and the same. Although, however, the Constantinople Conference had been in accordance with the policy of the Government, he thought it an unfortunate manifestation of their policy, and forced upon them by the action of Parties out-of-doors. The idea of the Conference was, that the family of nations could treat one of their number as a Government treated one of its subjects, and oblige it to give security to keep the peace, and bind it over to good behaviour. He denied the truth of that assumption. No Treaty or Convention had ever given such a power, and it was entirely fatal to the principle of nationalities; and it was to remove the assumption which Russia had set up 20 years ago that the 9th Clause of the Treaty had been passed. The Conference had proposed that the Government of the Sultan should be superseded in his own capital—but only so far as to divorce power from responsibility. But that was not all, for autonomy, in the Provinces had been proposed. We had no exact definition of the meaning of that word, as applied to Turkey, and he doubted whether even Lord Salisbury himself had ever really thought out how it was to be applied to the Christian Provinces. Now, if there was anything on which hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to be perfectly agreed, it was in maintaining that the Turks were morally effete; and if that were so, to endow such a people with autonomy would be absurd, for the moment the existing form of government was removed, the whole fabric must fall to the ground. Indeed, the great hope of Turkey lay in a few of her upper classes, who had reform in her administration at heart, and in the great bulk of her middle and lower classes, who were as honest and as fit for good government as any people in the world. Then there were the Christians, who were wanting in every quality which was usually found combined with governing power, and in whose case nothing but evil, in his opinion, could result from trying a scheme of autonomy which would entirely ignore the changes and past history of the country. It was all very well to take such men, and to propose, as had been done, to set them on their legs again, to see how they would get on; but whenever such a policy had been tried it had ended in failure. He denied altogether that this question could be decided on moral grounds alone. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had alluded again and again to the Bulgarian massacres, which every one deplored; but he had himself shown that even the most civilized nations, under the influence of panic, might commit cruelties which they afterwards deplored. With regard to the charge that the Turkish Government had employed irregular troops in order that the insurrection might be put down in the most cruel and effective manner, there was the evidence of Sir Henry Elliot to show that that course was taken by Mahmoud Pasha, acting upon the advice of General Ignatieff, who tried to persuade him that there was no insurrection, or danger of insurrection, in Bulgaria; and who, although he (Mr. Percy Wyndham) believed he would have hesitated to give such advice if he could foresee the cruelties to which it would lead, yet gave it as the enemy, not as the friend, of Turkey, knowing that the result of employing irregular troops would probably be to bring it into greater difficulties. A great deal had been said about the public meetings in this country: but he did not think public meetings, though largely attended, any great index of the feeling of the people in this country. There was a type of people who attended public meetings—a type found in all classes of society, and a great number of them in the Upper House. But the main body of the people did not care for public meetings. They disliked listening to speeches—and there was only one thing they disliked more, and that was making speeches themselves, and they never drew the inferences from them which hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to draw. No word more true was ever uttered than when the noble Earl (the Earl of Beaconsfield) declared that the war was the work of secret societies; a statement which they might well believe when they remembered that one society had an annual income of £50,000, one-sixth or one-seventh of which was contributed by the Russian Government, and that at its head was a Russian Prince of the Blood. It was a rule, moreover, of the Panslavonic society, that no man could receive aid unless he had first made himself politically obnoxious to the Government to which he owed allegiance. Not very long ago, under the Government of Lord Palmerston, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) was driven from office, merely because he allowed letters sent to a foreign refugee, who had made himself politically obnoxious to his country, to be addressed to the residence of the right hon. Gentleman. But while Russia was at peace with Turkey, a Prince of the Blood of the former Power presided over a society whose sole object was to subvert the Government of Turkey. Mr. Baring in his Report said— The deeds of blood I have spoken of and the misery I have witnessed must rouse just indignation in every mind; but the infamous conduct of those agitators, who, to serve selfish ends of States whose only object is territorial aggran-disement, have not shrunk from exciting poor ignorant peasants to revolt, thus desolating thousands of homes, and leaving a fine rich Province a legacy of tears, should not be allowed to escape without their share of execration. He was surprised to hear hon. Members opposite declare that Mahomedan feeling in India was indifferent from what was going on at the theatre of war. Had they not seen but lately that two contributions of £5,000 had come from Hyderabad and from Delhi towards the relief fund for the benefit of Turkish soldiers? But such questions must not be decided on small and perhaps accidental matters of that kind, but by the rules which prompted the action of communities under such circumstances; and if the force of Christian principles was strong enough to bring the Powers of Europe together at Constantinople, how could they venture to deny that the Mahomedans were uninfluenced by precisely the same feelings? He advised hon. Gentlemen opposite to take care lest, by their present course of action, they brought about the rise of a Mahomedan Power in India. He denied that this question ought to be decided by a comparison of Russia and Turkey. But if it was to be considered a moral question, he denied that we could not go into the past history of Russia and ask what she had done. Only the other day a Member of Parliament in his place had protested against any Papers being published that told against Russia. Russia, red with the blood of Poland, was the very last country in the world to whom should be entrusted the destinies of a weak people. In 1863 pickets were posted in some parts of Poland, and domiciliary visits were made, and 30 or 40 young girls were carried away in one night, children were massacred before their parents' eyes, and the wounded living were buried in one grave with the dead. If this matter was to be regarded only as a moral question between tyrannous Russia and wretched Turkey—whose sins, although great, were rather sins of omission than commission—that was a strong reason why we should look to our own interests as long as they were consistent with the interests of the world. If one talked of the interests of one's own country, one was regarded as deficient in humanity; but that was not his sentiment. Just as the best patriot was the best cosmopolitan, so that nation which respected its own interests and, if necessary, was prepared to defend them, was the best member among the family of nations.


Mr. Speaker, although I do not aspire, Sir, like the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, to solve the Eastern Question in a five minutes' speech, yet, if the House will permit me, I should like to say a very few words upon one or two of the points which have been raised in the course of this debate. The hon. Member has not expressed much sympathy with the agitation of the Autumn; but the noble Lord (Viscount Sandon), who spoke with so much ability earlier in the evening, did express that sympathy, and so did the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in his powerful speech last night. Well, that is just what I should expect from the humane natures of the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman. But I think they had another sufficient reason for speaking warmly of this great outburst of public feeling, and it was this—that outburst of feeling was a perfect Godsend to the Administration of which they are distinguished Members, for it first gave the Government that lead of which up to that time it had stood sorely in need. For what up to that moment had been the course of the Government, if course we may call that which stands still? A mere blind clinging to phrases which had lost their meaning. The ancient philosopher made the discovery that the only thing he knew was that he knew nothing, and if we were to turn to the speeches delivered by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite during the Recess we should find one burden in them all—"The only thing we can decide is that we can decide nothing." [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen did not perhaps say so in so many words, but they enlarged and enlarged upon the difficulties which beset this question until they had proved to their own satisfaction that we were in the midst of a perfect labyrinth, and then they proved that the only way out of it was to remain just where we were. It was the people of England, "most of whom do not understand questions of foreign policy;" it was the "malignity" and "criminal folly" — those were the phrases—of the right hon. Gentleman who moved these Resolutions which created a policy for the Government—and when the policy was created, when it had been accepted by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, when he had decided to send Lord Salisbury to Constantinople in order to carry out that policy, and when he had abandoned the "integrity and independence of Turkey," he turned round, like the Parthian in his flight, and, as he galloped away, he shot them both in our faces! Now, Sir, I wish to express my regret that the Party to which I have the honour to belong, having achieved so much in conjunction with the popular voice, did not stop here. I venture to think that our true line at the beginning of the Session would have been to have said to the Government—"We have given you a policy—the policy of complete neutrality in case of war, the policy of an absolute renunciation of Turkey, and we intend by all the means in our power to hold you to it." Instead of that, what have we been doing? From the first day of the Session, at stated intervals, and at the hands of irrepressible Members, we have been making desultory and abortive attacks upon the Government; we have been nagging at the Government, we have been asking innumerable questions, which no one cared to answer, we have been making Motions about which no one cared to divide, and now we have a string of Resolutions, the most important part of which everyone rejoices to have been withdrawn. I say everyone, and I speak advisedly; for will it be contended that those who might have followed the right hon. Gentleman into the Lobby would have done so with very cheerful countenances? And, as regards those who felt compelled to vote against the right hon. Gentleman, why they would have given the most painful vote of their lives. I have sat in this House a good many years—longer than I like to think of—and during that period the right hon. Gentleman has had no more humble but no more steadfast adherent than myself. But I could not permit my admiration of the right hon. Gentleman, which has been unbounded, to blind my eyes to the fact that the third and fourth Resolutions of which he had given Notice were—I will not say mischievous, but—inopportune; more than that, they were dangerous. They were inopportune because they were sure to have been misconstrued abroad, and because they would have divided and weakened what I cannot but regard as the real party of peace and neutrality in this country. They were dangerous because there was war in them—possible war against Turkey, possible war against Russia; possible war against both! I desire not to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman in any way; but I think I am right in saying that under certain contingencies the right hon. Gentleman contemplates armed intervention, and for armed intervention under the contingencies contemplated by the right hon. Gentleman I, for one, could never have voted. Granting everything which he dreads, and I dread it as much as the right hon. Gentleman; granting, if you will, that the war may terminate without any satisfactory arrangement for securing the liberties of the Christians; granting, further, that Russia may seek to recoup herself for the sacrifices which she has made by absorbing under her rule—a rule which I admit to be hateful—Provinces which I should desire to set free, what then? Are we to go to war to prevent it? and what, under such circumstances, would such a war be—call it by any fine name you please—but a war of mere sympathy? And when has mere sympathy been held to be an adequate motive for going to war since the evil days when we went to war in order to replace the Bourbons on the Throne of France — an instance which escaped the memory of the right hon. Gentleman last night. Sir, our whole attitude towards Europe has long ceased to be one of military menace—our whole military economy is planned for purposes of defence; and if there be one man in the country who is responsible for this state of things, it is the right hon. Gentleman himself. We have disentitled ourselves from entering with a high hand into the councils of Europe. We have disqualified ourselves from taking part in great military wars, because under the guidance of the right hon. Gentleman we have refused to augment our Army in competition with the enormous armaments of the Continent. To interfere upon the Continent as we ought to interfere, if we interfered at all, we must become as Russia has become, as France and Germany have become—a nation of soldiers; but knowing that a nation of soldiers is never very long a nation of free men, we have made our deliberate choice between liberty at home and authority abroad—a choice which the right hon. Gentleman appears to me to have entirely ignored.


observed, that simultaneously with the unseemly discussion carried on in the House last night a meeting was held at St. James's Hall, in consequence of the Notice the right hon. Member for Greenwich had given of his Resolutions. That meeting was called together in the interests of peace, and one of the speakers (Mr. Cohen) said— You know many of us hold that it was England's duty, as it would not have been contrary to her interests, to have put pressure upon the Porte not by mere useless words, but in a far more forcible manner. The Government actually opposed the only means that could have been effectual—namely, active coercion on the part of the Powers to carry out that which they demanded from the Porte. That meant, in plain English, that censure was to be cast upon the Government by members of the Peace Society for not having declared war with Russia against Turkey. He regretted that the right hon. Member for Greenwich was not in his place to explain whether he approved the language held at a meeting almost convened on his authority ["No"], or, at any rate, in support of his Resolutions. The right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) ought, with his opinions, to have moved a distinct Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government. These frequent discussions, which raised no direct issue, tended neither to the dignity of the House nor to the advantage of the country. Let him state briefly his own view of that Eastern Question. They had existing between Europe and Asia a Power alien in creed and in habits from the other Powers of Europe, and also a Power ruling over Christian subjects, whose rule, he admitted, frequently violated the feelings of humanity. It might be asked why, then, did he advocate a policy different from that of hon. Gentlemen opposite? His answer was that the most eminent statesmen of past and present times had always seen that there was a very great difficulty in the position of Turkey; and he warned those who, in that House or in St. James's Hall, denounced the Turks and talked of a new crusade to exterminate them that they had not sufficiently considered what the Eastern Question really was. Turkey must be supported, to prevent any other nation from filling the place she occupied. What were the views of all thinking and responsible statesmen who had given their attention to that important subject? Even Lord Russell, whose humanity was not exceeded by that of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, said in October, 1867— The Crimean War was not a war for the defence of Turkey, but to oppose the designs of Russia. It is well known that the Emperor opposes all civil and religious liberty. I wish to see the people of Turkey entrusted with the government of their own country. In 1828, when Europe was placed in pretty nearly the same position as now, the Duke of Wellington wrote to the Comte de Ferronaye— The invasion of the Turkish dominions in Europe and the occupation of Constantinople must not be viewed in the same light as other invasions and occupations which we witnessed in our days. I am convinced your Excellency feels as strongly as I have already expressed it, that we are all interested in the continued existence in a state of independence of the power of the Porte in Europe. We are not prepared for its destruction. Again, writing to Lord Aberdeen, he said— If we look a little further at the case, we shall see still stronger reason for adhering to our Treaty. We mean to maintain the power of the Porte; and although we were ready to agree to the adoption of a mode of executing our purpose in Greece, consistent with the respect due to that Power, our concurrence in that mode was founded upon the necessity of coming to some settlement in Greece for the sake of the Porte itself. The independence of the Porte is important to all the Powers of Christendom. Its maritime independence, and particularly the independent exercise of sovereign authority in its own waters, is important to all the Powers of the Mediterranean and to all maritime Powers. The deprivation of this independent exercise of power, and the transfer of the responsibility for its exercise from the Sultan to the Emperor of Russia, is an alteration of the state of power in that part of Europe which is very important to the interests of this country. Surely that opinion would have some weight with hon. Gentlemen who thought that we ought not merely to stand aside and allow a blow to be struck at Turkey, but to join with the Russians in attacking her. Now, he came to a still greater authority—namely, Lord Palmerston, who, according to the admirable biography published by the hon. and learned Member for Poole (Mr. Ashley), "hated war, but hated humiliation more, and thoroughly understood the character of Russia." Lord Palmerston wrote to Lord Clarendon in 1863— The policy and practice of the Russian Government has always been to push forward its encroachments as far and as fast as the apathy or want of firmness of other Governments will allow them to go, and always to stop and retire whenever it was met by decided resistance. In furtherance of this policy the Russian Government has always had moderate language and disinterested profession at St. Petersburg, and active aggression by its agents on the scene of operations. Lord Palmerston also referred to the expulsion of the Turks from Europe and the establishment of a Greek Empire in European Turkey. He said— Such a scheme would be diametrically opposed to the principles of policy on which we have acted. I have no partiality for the Turks as Mahomedans, and should be very glad if they could be turned into Christians; but as to the character of the Turkish Government and its treatment of Christians, I am well convinced that there are a vast number of Christians under the government of Russia, Austria, Rome, and Naples who would rejoice to be as well treated and to enjoy as much security for person and property as the Christian subjects of the Sultan. In 1828, it was proposed to found a powerful Greek Kingdom, and the Crown was offered to Prince Leopold, of Belgium, a man of rare sagacity, who might be described as the guide, companion, counsellor, and friend of other Sovereigns. Had he accepted the Greek Crown, what was called la grande idée might have been realized, and many subsequent difficulties averted. But who prevented that? The Russian Government of the day, who strongly advised Prince Leopold not to accept the Crown of Greece. With regard to the Eastern Question with which we were now confronted, it was to be borne in mind that the events out of which it arose were not the growth of a day. They had been growing ever since the Crimean War. The right hon. Gentleman himself (Mr. Gladstone) had been in office during the greater part of that period and nothing was done, although he must have been perfectly well aware of the state of things. By the recent agitation in this country Russia had been encouraged in her traditional policy. No one had a higher feeling of respect for the right hon. Gentleman than he (Mr. Baillie Cochrane), and he, for one, never supposed that the right hon. Gentleman was actuated by any mean or personal motive. But when the right hon. Gentleman stirred up the country by his speeches and pamphlets, he did not sufficiently consider what he was doing, and the result was, Russia was misled as to the real feelings of the English people with regard to affairs in the East. The right hon. Gentleman had, no doubt, acted from the best of motives, but the blunder he committed was a grievous one. All were agreed in sympathizing with the sufferings of the Christian population. Where they differed was as to what should be done. Language had been used that night which seemed to approve the course Russia was taking in making war against Turkey. That war was carried on in the name of humanity. It was well, however, to consider the character of the Power which, if Russia was successful, would take the place of Turkey. Was it a Power which had displayed such humanity as to justify the expectation that under it the races whose condition it was desired to ameliorate would be better governed and enjoy a greater amount of liberty than at present? The House had heard from the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) of the persecution which peasants in Poland underwent a few years ago, and had been told on the authority of Reports published in a Blue Book how men received 50 lashes, women 25, and children 10, because they would not change their creed. It was said that several Polish ladies had been sent to Siberia for using what was deemed audacious language with respect to the Imperial Government, and had been compelled to march part of the way barefooted. About the proceedings of the Russians in Central Asia, a good deal had been learnt from books which had lately been published. General Kauffman had issued orders that when tribute was not paid, every man, woman, and child should be put to the sword and their villages burnt. He would appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite to say whether the cause of humanity in Turkey was likely to gain much by the ascendency of a Power which was guilty of such acts? Unfortunately, he could not say with regard to Turkey—"Let well alone;" but they ought at any rate to know, before the Turkish Power was destroyed, what sort of Power was likely to take its place. If they found from history that Russia had not been governed on those principles of humanity and liberty which they all cherished, they would do well to hesitate before they encouraged her in her present undertaking. The Opposition asked —"What are your views of the course that ought to be taken?" and this was a question which it was of course more easy for an independent Member than for Government to answer. For his part, however, he would say, without hesitation, that he thought Her Majesty's Government ought to interfere when they calmly and reasonably believed that British interests were threatened. It had been said that other European Powers were as much interested in the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal as England. Had Austria, or Germany, or Italy, an Indian or Colonial Empire, and was it not the case that three-fourths of the shipping that passed through the Suez Canal was English shipping? He maintained that English interests were bound up with the independence of the Mediterranean, and that England would find it necessary to oppose any Power which threatened that independence. It was ostensibly for the sake of the Christian races in Turkey that Russia had gone to war, and as those races were only on one side of the Balkan range there would be no necessity for Russia, in pursuing her ostensible object, to set foot on the other side of the mountains. If she did, it could only be with the view of marching to Constantinople. But if she crossed the Balkan mountains, it would be the duty of this country to stop her. In 1853 Lord Palmerston wrote to Lord Aberdeen— I hope you will order the Fleet to go up to the Bosphorus as soon as it is known that the Russians have entered the Principalities"—for his part he (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) did not go so far as to say that—"and also to go into the Black Sea if necessary, for the protection of Turkish territory. This will relieve England from the disagreeable and not very creditable position of not venturing to the hack as friends when forcible possession has been taken of the front wall by enemies. And writing to Lord Russell in the same year, Lord Palmerston said—"We must defend England in Asia as well as in Europe." It was said there was really no danger. He heard it asserted on all sides that Russia had really no intention of going to Constantinople. In answer, he would quote the words that the Emperor Alexander himself had used in replying to a deputation. The Emperor said— There is not a single Russian but dreams of the capture of Constantinople, and I would sacrifice my last rouble and my last man to prevent Constantinople becoming the capital of a Greek Empire or belonging to any nation but our own. Could it be said, after that, that there was no danger? Without saying, like Lord Palmerston, that the country ought to take action whenever the Russians crossed the Pruth, he was certain that England ought to interfere if they crossed the Balkan. Sometimes he heard people speak of compensation for the occupation of Constantinople by Russia. There could be no compensation for it, and any Government worthy of the name would rather spend their last shilling and shed their last drop of blood than suffer such an occupation—an occupation which would be disastrous to the interests, not only of England, but of the world.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had made a very strong attack on his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, in regard to what he chose to call the agitation of the Autumn. The hon. Gentleman, however, forgot that that agitation had altered to a very large extent the policy of Her Majesty's Government; so much so that the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) than whom he could conceive no better authority, had stated in the House that his right hon. Friend had reason to be proud, inasmuch as during the Recess be had dictated the policy of Her Majesty's Government. He (Mr. Baxter) was also proud of having done his little part during the Autumn and Winter to open the eyes of this country to the frightful misgovernment of the Ottoman Porte. He was astonished to hear the hon. Member for West Cumberland (Mr. Percy Wyndham) say to-night that the sins of the Porte had been those of omission rather than of commission; and that, after the atrocities in Bulgaria, and after all we have been reading now for a year past. He had taken part in some of the meetings which had taken place, and he had addressed his own constituents on the subject. He had also taken pains on the spot to investigate some of the causes which had led to the present lamentable state of affairs. He was not going to make a Party speech; he had been in the House over 20 years and had never made a purely Party speech. He had another reason for not doing so now, because he thought that in a matter of this sort they ought as far as possible, to show a united front to Europe. And, besides, he was not so wholly dissatisfied with the new policy and the present attitude of Her Majesty's Government as many hon. Gentlemen who sat on his side of the House. He could not agree with many of the remarks which had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for Glamorganshire (Mr. Hussey Vivian) in the very warlike speech he had made. Though he had not taken an active part in foreign politics he had paid a great deal of attention to this Eastern Question, and he claimed the right to say a few words to-night, as he was almost the first man in this country who had brought the state of Turkey before the House of Commons. On the 18th of June, 1875, he took advantage of a Motion made by the hon. Member for East Gloucestershire (Mr. J. R. Yorke) to implore the House of Commons and the people of this country to look into the dreadful state of things existing in Turkey, and he warned them of three things—first that the Ottoman Porte was bankrupt, and would never pay one shilling of the interest or principal of her Debt; second, that some of the Provinces of Turkey were ripe for revolt; and, third, that there was a general impression over the East that massacres were impending more dreadful than those which some years ago had disgraced the Government and population of Damascus. He admitted that those warnings were treated at the time with a good deal of ridicule, but he did not give utterance to them without some foundation. He was simply relating to the House the nearly universal testimony of men of all nationalities, of all creeds, and of all professions he had met on the shores of the Levant, many of whom had begged and entreated of him to bring before the House of Commons the rottenness of the Turkish system and the imminence of a great disaster. When he was in Turkey he did not see Sir Henry Elliot. Everyone told him he was a much greater believer in the Turks than the Turks were in themselves; but he saw a good many Turkish Pashas, and all those gentlemen went out of their way to tell him in the freest manner possible, that no one of them believed in the permanence of the Turkish Empire, and that they had not invested their money in Turkish bonds. Something had been said by the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Sandon) about our traditional policy in Turkey. He thought it high time that we should once for all change our traditional policy in the East. He was not one of those who thought they ought to throw stones at the Government in this matter. His hon. Friend the Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff) said, we had been acting on imperfect informa- tion, and his remedy was to have more Consular authorities on the spot to keep them better informed. With all deference to his hon. Friend, he did not think it was there that the shoe pinched. It was very generally believed that proofs of Turkish misgovernment were never very welcome, however well-founded, either at the British Embassy at Constantinople or at the Foreign Office in London. It was a great mistake to suppose that it was only the Christians who had been oppressed in Turkey. The Mussulman peasantry, especially in the Asiatic Provinces, complained equally with the Christians of the undisguised venality and oppressive taxation of the Constantinople Government. That this was so was amply proved by the Report of Mr. Calvert, Her Majesty's Consul at Rustchuck, and the Special Correspondent of The Times at Bucharest, the latter authority speaking of the complaints of the Mussulman peasantry at being taken from their homes and driven to fight for the Constantinople Government. When the Resolutions were first laid upon the Table he felt at once he could not support them. The condition of the Ottoman Empire was, to his mind, so irretrievably bad that the second Resolution, as originally proposed, might have been objected to on the ground that by calling upon the Porte to give guarantees we were giving a moral and material support to the Ottoman Empire. That was a course to which evermore after this he would not be a party. Therefore, he gladly welcomed the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), who, he thought, expressed the sentiment of a great portion of the people of this country. So far from giving any moral or material support under any possible circumstances to the Ottoman Porte, firm and decided steps should be taken to get rid of all engagements, of whatever kind, which bound us to a corrupt, a promise-breaking, and a tottering Power. After the speeches of Lord Beaconsfield and of the Secretary of State for War in this House, he read with great satisfaction the speech, delivered "elsewhere," in which Lord Derby declared that Treaties were not supposed to be binding for all time. They were not like the laws of the Medes and Persians, which could not be altered, but should be revised or abrogated when no longer applicable to the situation of affairs. He, for one, had a complaint to make against the Government, which would be remedied if they would accept the second of these Resolutions as altered. They had never told the Ottoman Porte in language firm and decisive enough that their conduct in putting aside all Treaties, in condoning, if not sanctioning, the Bulgarian atrocities, and in assuming a tone of insolent defiance at the Conference, had put them beyond the pale of English sympathy. His criticism, founded on the Papers presented to Parliament, was not that the Government had not gone far enough in coercing Turkey, but that they had complimented the Turks, and had paid them what had been called "delicate attentions"—that they had spoken continually of the interest felt in this country in the preservation of the Ottoman Empire. Holding these sentiments, he could not defend the policy of the action, or rather the inaction, of Lord Derby, and much less the speeches of Lord Beaconsfield, which he very much deplored, and which had given great joy at Constantinople, and had done irreparable harm all over Europe. But the moment he read the first and second Blue Books presented to Parliament, and found the Instructions sent to our Ambassador at Constantinople, and especially the able and statesmanlike letter written by Lord Salisbury, dated, he believed, the 4th of January, he felt at once that he could not support a Vote of Censure, no matter from what quarter proposed. He wished to say emphatically—though he knew in that matter he differed from many hon. Members on his own side of the House—that he was not in favour of coercion of any kind. So far, he entirely approved the position of Her Majesty's Government. He was not in favour of coercion either with or without allies. His position for years had been that the armed interference of this country in the affairs of other countries had never turned out either to the advantage of oppressed peoples or to the benefit of ourselves. We had fought for the liberties of Spain, and every hon. Gentleman who had travelled in that country knew how we were regarded by Spaniards. We had never fought for the unity of Italy, yet every enlight- ened Italian regarded Great Britain as their firmest friend and their most valued ally. He was not prepared to support any Resolution which, under any possible circumstances, might cause the sacrifice of British life and treasure in a war in the East. More than that, he was satisfied that in the long run the Christian subjects of Turkey would suffer from any such action. He entirely agreed with his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich with regard to the autonomy of the States on the Danube. The noble Lord the Vice President of Council had said that if autonomy were granted to the States on the Danube, it would not stop there, because it would be claimed by populations in other parts of Turkey, and also in Asia. So much the better; because, satisfied as he was that the Turkish Empire was tottering to its fall, he believed that the creation of autonomous States was the only way out of the difficulty. He was not at all sorry that the Conference had failed, for he believed that the guarantees proposed by the Great Powers in that Conference would not in the long run have given satisfaction to the European Provinces which had been in revolt. He admitted that converting them into tributary States might prolong the existence of the Government at Constantinople; but every thinking man must look forward to far greater changes in the East than any which had ever been proposed in the Conference. A great deal had been said tonight about Russia; but he declined to follow the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) in regard to what he had said about the designs of Russia. That was not the question now; but it would be ridiculous for an advanced Liberal to profess any enthusiasm or admiration for a paternal despotism which had within its own bounds evils of great magnitude to redress. But he was not one of those who were either afraid or jealous of Russia. That great Empire had sources of weakness within her. She was greatly embarrassed by her great and injudicious conquests in Central Asia; she was embarrassed by her mighty armaments, which had emptied her Treasury and drained her resources; and also by the stifled, but ever increasing, demands of a part of her population for a free Press and for liberal institutions. Great Britain stood in far too high a position to be afraid of anything Russia could do; and he did not envy those politicians and those conductors of newspapers which were hounding on the people of this country, without any provocation, to consider Russia as an enemy. Indeed, he should find difficulty in properly characterizing the responsibility they had undertaken. It was easy to excite people's passions, and unfortunately the British public were bellicose enough without these journalistic incentives. His principal reason, however, for addressing these few observations to the House to-night, was to express an earnest hope that Her Majesty's Government would take no steps whatever, and yield to no temptation which would be inconsistent with their policy of absolute neutrality.


said, we had to consider to-night two lines of policy, and it was a matter of the gravest national importance that we should take our choice between them. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had laid down, in the clearest language, the great object he had in view in recommending his Resolutions to the House. The right hon. Gentleman said that one of his main objects was to clear the position of the Government, and one of the points he would strive to establish was that that position was ambiguous. But he would say, without fear of contradiction, that in the policy of Her Majesty's Government there was no ambiguity. In speaking thus he confined himself to the policy enunciated by the Foreign Minister, because it was he who was the responsible Minister of the Government, and who had been charged with the conduct of those delicate and difficult negotiations. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary when he entered upon his difficult task was guided, as might be gathered from the study of his despatches, by three great principles, the first of which was that he would do nothing to interfere with or lessen the independence and integrity of Turkey. That was not a welcome expression to the ears of many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. But who was it that rivetted upon the archives and the policy of the Foreign Office that great diplomatic principle? It was the right hon. Gentleman, who had invited the House to debate a new line of policy, and the Government over which he had so ably presided, when they re-estab- lished and re-sanctioned solemnly the principle of 1856 in 1871. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary when he entered upon his task felt that the honour, dignity, and good faith of England were pledged to that principle, and by it he was absolutely precluded from coercing Turkey, which some hon. Gentlemen said was the cause why the negotiations failed. The next principle which guided the noble Lord was the maintenance of the peace of Europe. Every honest man in the House agreed that the noble Lord had spared no effort to preserve the peace of Europe. The third point at which the noble Lord aimed was, so far as he was able to do so, to curb the ambition and to counteract the pretensions of Russia. That was the most difficult and most delicate task in which he had to engage, and it was most unjust to him that those who attacked the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government should entirely ignore that difficulty. He did not for himself hesitate to say—and he believed there was not one Englishman in a hundred who did not think with him—that Russia as a Power was not to be trusted. Starting then from that position, he would proceed to notice what fell from a Gentleman who was not apt to fence his words. He meant the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain). That hon. Gentleman had studied politics; but he had not studied the published utterances of the Foreign Secretary. The hon. Gentleman had stated that Her Majesty's Government had "changed its policy in obedience to public opinion." He could disprove that statement, and would refer the hon. Gentleman to a speech made by the Earl of Derby not yesterday, not last year, but at a time long antecedent to this agitation. The noble Earl 13 years ago, when addressing his constituents at Lynn, had said that he could not understand, unless it were from the influence of old diplomatic traditions, the determination of our older statesmen to stand by the Turkish rule, whether it were right or wrong, and that it could not be desirable to make enemies of men who would soon be the dominant race in the East. These were the sentiments on which Lord Derby had acted ever since he had been Foreign Minister. Could anyone deny that his first thought had been the amelioration of the condition of the Chris- tian subjects of the Porte? The Government was now asked to state its policy. That was impossible. Their policy was in abeyance. They advocated neutrality absolute and distinct; but so soon as the war cloud passed away the amelioration of the Christians in Turkey would again become the object of the foreign policy of the Government. When hon. Gentlemen asked what was the foreign policy of the Government, he would ask them to consider what was the present condition of Turkey. Turkey was engaged in a deadly struggle, and that was his reason for refusing to be any party to a Vote of Censure upon her. The natural feelings could not be got rid of altogether; and if generosity was a trait of Englishmen, it surely would be ungenerous in her hour of peril and trial to pass a Vote of Censure upon our oldest and most faithful Ally. But, besides, it would be very impolitic for us to cut ourselves absolutely adrift from Turkey. What could we substitute for her in the event of her destruction? Such an event was possible; but those who regarded it without apprehension were very neglectful indeed of its consequences. It had often been said that we had paid Turkey many delicate attentions, but the despatch of the 21st of September last could hardly be regarded as a delicate attention; and if he had wished to say a word against Lord Derby's foreign policy, he should have thought that no friendly Government could have addressed such a despatch, which was, in truth, one of the severest possible condemnations of Turkey, but, perhaps, not uncalled for. He deprecated and thoroughly hated the system of outrage which it condemned; but he would ask those who preferred Russian rule to Turkish rule if they were prepared to compare the state of religious freedom in the two countries? It was due to Turkey that it should be stated in the House of Commons that religious freedom was as absolute there as it was in England or in America. The evidence of the American missionaries was clear on this point, and the Report of the Bible Society in 1873 said that everyone in Turkey might belong to his own religious community, Christianity might be taught without any molestation, schools were free, and Christian workers might adopt any method they pleased in their labours. That was good evidence as to religious freedom in Turkey. There was one grave charge against the rulers of Turkey—namely, the inadmissibility of Christian evidence into their Courts. Why was Christian testimony inadmissible? It was because the Legal Profession throughout the length and breadth of the land absolutely ignored it; and why? because it was absolutely contrary to the principles of the Koran. But people were to be taken as they were, and judged fairly; and it was but natural for a Mahomedan nation to be guided by the Koran. He listened very attentively to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich last night, and noticed one passage in it which had a dangerous tendency to counteract the action of the Foreign Secretary. For his own part, although the House of Commons might talk for a month, he did not believe in the pure intentions of Russia. The right hon. Gentleman, when he spoke of Syria and Bagdad, as much as said to Russia and her Generals—"Go on and conquer, and do not mind us." This afforded another reason why he should not vote for the Resolution, as he must decline to vote for anything which would give the slightest incentive, stimulus, or encouragement to Russian ambition. The policy of Her Majesty's Government had, in his judgment, been as clear as day all along—namely, the maintenance of peace and the protection of the oppressed communities. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) said last night that a nominal exercise of force would have been sufficient to influence Turkey. Now, he should like to know what was the meaning of a nominal exercise of force? A challenge of that kind was thrown out by the Home Secretary last night; but nobody had replied to it. It could only mean one thing, because whenever the mythical action failed force must be resorted to. He knew this country was not prepared to go to war for Turkey; but, on the other hand, it was equally prepared not to go to war for Russia. This was the reason why he designated the alternative policy proposed in the Resolutions as being much more ambiguous than the line of policy which Her Majesty's Government had pursued. He cordially joined in the sentiments expressed by his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary last night and reiterated to-night from the front bench opposite—that hon. Members should be calm and guarded in their expressions. They knew to their cost that the character of Englishmen was eminently bellicose, and required but little encouragement when war was waging to rise up in a warlike spirit on one side or the other. He trusted, therefore, that in the present and future discussions they would guard themselves against any expressions that would interfere with the position of neutrality which this country had so nobly and wisely taken up. For the reasons he had stated he preferred the policy, which had been consistent, manly, and prudent, of the Foreign Secretary to the ambiguous and, he thought, the dangerous policy contained in the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich.


During the long period which I have passed in this House it has never been my fortune to take part in a debate more important than the present one. There is raging at this time a war, which may spread not over Europe only, but the world. A great Empire is at this moment on the brink of ruin, and the lives and fortunes of many millions of people are in the scales of fortune, and may be made most wretched in the result. That being the state of the case, a man whom this country has believed to be one of its greatest and most deserving and most patriotic Ministers at one time or another—that man, endowed with great ability, with vast power, with a winning manner, and whose influence in this House has been almost illimitable—has thought fit upon the present occasion to bring forward in this House a debate on which the interests of this country and of the world at large, as connected with the present crisis, are mainly dependent. He put upon the Table of the House many days ago five Resolutions as the result, I suppose, of patient consideration, and also as the result of great experience. He put those Resolutions on the Table of this House to discuss them. The Government, feeling the great difficulty of the position — the importance of the right hon. Gentleman who put forward these propositions, and the intense interest which the country took in them—gave him a day for their discussion. We all came down yesterday fully prepared to meet and discuss those Reso- lutions. Those Resolutions contained much that was very important, and which I, among the rest, believe to be vital in their influence on the interests of this country; and we were startled on entering the House to find that three out of the five Resolutions had been withdrawn from the Paper, or, at least, that there was an understanding come to between the Parties in this House that they should not be put to this House. In these circumstances, what is this House to do? Is it to maintain the feeling that it has hitherto held, of great respect and confidence in the opinion of that right hon. Gentleman? Is it to be said that a man who has lived his life in politics, who upon so great an occasion puts forth such important Resolutions as these, should upon a sudden find that he had made a most lamentable mistake? [Cheers and counter cheers.] If he has not made a mistake, why has he changed the Resolutions? But I am told that the conduct of the Government throughout all the matters connected with this Eastern Question has been very ambiguous. Now, when that is said by the right hon. Gentleman, has it never occurred to him to ask himself whether his own conduct will not bear the same epithet? What do these Resolutions mean? I read them carefully—and I studied them before coming down to this House to discuss them—and in the midst of a world of words and of much ambiguity I came to the conclusion that there was one thing which they did propound, and that was that the Ministry should determine to go to war. There can be no doubt upon that matter; and if there were a doubt before the right hon. Gentleman's speech last night, could there be a doubt after it? He did indeed say that he did not intend to propose the Resolutions; but he did not say that he would not discuss them. He, under the guise of having withdrawn them, and having told the House that he did not intend to propose them, felt himself relieved from a vast world of responsibility; but, nevertheless, he expressed his opinion. And what was that opinion? He cannot get out of the responsibility of that, if he can get out of the responsibility of the Resolutions. What he recommended to this House and to the people of this country—what he put forth to the world at large, was that the great people of England should upon the present occasion go to war with Turkey, and in alliance with Russia. Why did he come to that conclusion? Because Turkey, being a despotic country, acted as despots usually do, and maltreated its subjects. And upon whom were we to depend in our action against Turkey when we set forth in this battle of humanity? Upon whom did he tell us to depend for support? On a despot who did exactly the same thing as the right hon. Gentleman complains the Turks have done. ["No!"] I hear an hon. Gentleman say "No." Now, during the sitting of the Conference there were Petitions presented to the Conference from a large body of Mussulmans who were under the control of the Russian Government; and what did they describe as their condition under that Government? Our humanity is not, I suppose, confined to the Christians. I suppose if you saw a man at that table treated flagrantly, beaten, scourged, and maltreated in every possible way, you would not ask what his creed was; but you would say at once that the man who inflicted such punishment was a despicable person, and whether his victim was a Christian or a Mussulman, or anything else, you would pass the same condemnation on the oppressor. Now, these remarks apply, I maintain, to the conduct of Russia towards four of the Provinces under its control. I have the names in my pocket, and I will not trouble the House by reciting any passages from the Blue Book. It is said there that four Petitions were tendered to the Conference at Constantinople of 1876 and 1877 by Mussulman inhabitants of the Crimea and the Provinces of Kazan of White Tartary, Kurdistan, and the Circassians, in the West. The substance of these Petitions is given, and if any hon. Gentleman will read them—I do not know whether they appear at length in the Blue Book or not—he will find in them a description of horrors quite equal to any which have been committed in the Crimea.


I rise to Order, Sir. The House is engaged in discussing the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich; but the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield is now entering on a statement consisting of an attack on Russia, of which he has given no Notice. I ask, Sir, whether the hon. and learned Member is in Order under the circumstances in making a charge against a friendly ally of this country?


The hon. and learned Member is decidedly in Order.


The interruption, Sir, deserves no further answer than that which you have given it. I was endeavouring to show that we are invited by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich to go into a war of humanity with persons who are as guilty as those who are attacked. Now, my argument against that advice is twofold. In the first place, it runs counter to the many Treaties which we have made; and secondly, if we begin a war of humanity we can have no end to our crusade. Now, as to Treaties. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baxter)—ho will perhaps allow me to call him my right lion. Friend—spoke of Treaties in a very light way. He said they depended upon circumstances, and that they ought to be abrogated on occasions when the occasion called for it. If that be our rule with respect to Treaties, the sooner we leave them off, I think, the better. When I enter into a contract I intend to fulfil it. I do not say that I shall change it when it suits my convenience; but having put my hand to it I am bound to perform its obligations. Now, this is the effect of the Treaties into which we have entered. We have bound ourselves to regard Turkey as an independent nation. We have bound ourselves to be no parties to any attack upon her independence. Now, I ask, Sir, as an honest people, not a people led away by any artificial excitement or any oratorical display, or by any attack upon. our feelings — I ask if we, as an honest people, as one bound by our word of honour, whether we are at the present time justified in breaking that Treaty? But it will be said—"Those people do things which are abhorent to humanity." True it is they have; but where, I would ask, is the nation in the world that has not done so? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) himself pointed to our conduct in the Indian Mutiny. I do not at all agree with what he said upon that; but I can very well understand that people under the control of a Government like that of Russia, if we were assailed, could have made these attacks upon us. What can we say of the con- duct of the White Man to the Red Man in America? Is not that as atrocious as anything which has been recited in these debates? Our godly ancestors who left England for freedom's sake, the moment they got to America began to exercise every possible form of despotism. Among other ways in which they outraged the laws of humanity, they drove before them the poor Red Man, slaughtering him with their muskets, running him through with their swords, burning his wigwam, and actually starving him to death. They drove him from his hunting-grounds, and took possession of his patrimony. Have the Turks done more? And are we going in our crusade of humanity to address the Government of Washington and say—"Your conduct now to the Red Man is such as we humane people cannot possibly in any way permit; we intend to go to war with you because you have been inhuman?" To act in that way would, I contend, be just as wise and as justifiable a course to take as to break our faith and go to war with Turkey. The Blue Books have been quoted, and the conduct of the Government has been criticized in a small, narrow, pitiful way, somewhat more like that which takes place at Nisi Prius than as great contests are usually conducted here. We are supposed to be statesmen. We are called upon to take large statesmanlike views of questions, and in doing so we fulfil our duties. But when we desert this end and become mere pettifogging criticizers of the conduct of a Government under difficult circumstances such as the present Government are placed in, we no longer deserve the name of statesmen. Now, I have studied my countrymen for many long years, and tell those right hon. Gentlemen that they must not be afraid as to the results of their policy on the present occasion. When England understands that their object has been to maintain intact the interests of England, the interests of the world, and the peace of mankind, they need not fear the proposal of 4 or 20 Resolutions such as those which have been placed on the Table. On this occasion I feel I am not able to longer continue my argument; but I am convinced that if in this present occasion the Government opposite were to be weak — shamelessly weak — enough to submit to be dictated to by Resolutions of this sort, they would deserve to be hooted from that bench, and would no longer have, or deserve to have, the confidence of their countrymen. But let them fearlessly pursue the line of conduct which they have hitherto adopted, and the people of England will not fail to give them all credit. I have sat for a great number of years on this side of the House, and I found that on these benches there used to be a Peace Party. I recollect that during the Crimean War some gentlemen, representing the peaceful Quakers of this country, went to the Emperor of Russia, and of all the people in the world they used language which induced that great man to go to war with England. If it had not been for their conduct I feel pretty sure that the Czar of that time would not have done so—if he had not been misled about the feeling of this country. And of this I am quite sure—that upon the present occasion, in consequence of the great faith a large body of the people of this country have in the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich they have been entirely misled. I feel, however, confident that they will very shortly see how wise, how prudent, how just, how bold, has been the conduct of Her Majesty's present Government.


said, he should not have intruded himself upon the House had it not been for some observations which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) thought proper to make against himself personally. He had been sitting sonic time in the House listening with entranced attention to the eloquent and interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman, when all of a sudden, to his great surprise, the right hon. Gentleman caught sight of him and directed against him one of the most vehement attacks to which he had ever been subjected, complaining in no measured terms of observations he had made about the right hon. Gentleman when addressing his (the Attorney General's) constituents at Preston. The right hon. Gentleman gave him a severe castigation, and the only consolation he had was that the right hon. Gentleman had had the kindness to elevate him to another sphere and had lectured him on the way in which he must then perform his duties. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman read the speech he made. He did not make many. If the right hon. Gentleman did, he did him a great honour; and if he read that speech he hoped the right hon. Gentleman read some other speeches which he made previously to last Autumn; and if he did he (the Attorney General) thought he could not consider that of those speeches made previous to last Autumn he had any reason to complain. Indeed, he had set up the right hon. Gentleman in his own mind as an idol, which he might at a humble distance bow down to and worship; and he had told his constituents, not once, but frequently—not always to their extreme satisfaction—that he had the greatest admiration for the brilliant genius of the right hon. Gentleman, and that he was a man of most earnest and sincere convictions, and most desirous of accomplishing ends beneficial to mankind. But he said that previous to last Autumn. He had, however, like other people, studied the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the Government, and he supposed he was at liberty to form his own opinion as to the taste and temper which the right hon. Gentleman displayed. He thought he had fair ground of complaint of the tone of the right hon. Gentleman towards Her Majesty's Government. He could not forget that the right hon. Gentleman described in glowing terms, which made them all thrill with excitement, the horrors which had taken place in Turkey; and he could not forget that the right hon. Gentleman said that the Members of the Government were morally responsible and that they were culpable as well as the Turks.


When and where did I say that?


said, he was in the recollection of the House when he stated that the right hon. Gentleman made those accusations.


When and where?


said, if the right hon. Gentleman would have a moment's patience with him he would satisfy him. It was impossible for him to bring into the House all the right hon. Gentleman's speeches, to select all the paragraphs in which he made that accusation.


Give one.


said, he wished to draw the attention of the House, not to a speech made in a mo- meat of passion and excitement, but to some extracts from a letter the right hon. Gentleman wrote to a meeting, which he believed was presided over by the right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), on the subject of the Bulgarian atrocities. The right hon. Gentleman said he had described the conduct of Turkey with regard to her Christian population, he had described the horrors that took place, the massacres and the outrages practised upon the Christians, and he went on to say that the Government were deliberately using the power of the nation to frustrate its wishes. The right hon. Gentleman then said that— After disparaging European concert for 12 months the Government had within the last few weeks begun to recommend it, and we were told of the necessity of bringing into union the views of all the Powers. When it was a question of favouring the Turkish Government against the Christian subjects we heard nothing of this necessity. Now, however, that the strong resentment of the country has made a continuance in this course impossible, a change of form seems to have been adopted without any change of aim, and the views of the other Powers began to be pleaded with a view of securing that the amount of good done to the oppressed should be as small as possible. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not impute motives. What was that but to say Her Majesty's Ministers were determined that the smallest amount of good should be accomplished for those subject-races? [Opposition cheers.] He supposed, from those cheers, that view was still entertained. And this letter was written, not in a moment of passion, but in the calm deliberation of the study, in which the right hon. Gentleman wrote so many letters. He (the Attorney General) was a follower of the Government, and he naturally felt indignant when he went to address his constituents that the right hon. Gentleman should have used such language. He regretted that he did make use of expressions stronger than he ought to have used. He did say that there was malignity against the Ministry in the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Government. If he had to do it again, he certainly should not use such strong language, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman did not mean that the Government were aiding Turkey in her horrible oppression of the Christian population, or that they were desirous of doing nothing for Turkey. He be- lieved that the right hon. Gentleman since he wrote that letter had come to the conclusion that it did not express the real state of the case; and that being so, he (the Attorney General) was sorry he made use of that expression. A great deal had been said about the withdrawal of the right hon. Gentleman's Resolutions, and it must have cost him a severe pang to withdraw them. He admired the right hon. Gentleman's frankness when he told the House that, although he withdrew the third and fourth Resolutions, he believed that if anybody adopted his first Resolution, he would, by implication, adopt the others. He was not going to argue whether that was a fair inference or not, but one thing was clear and had been demonstrated—in fact, the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) made it perfectly plain—that what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich advocated was war against Turkey. There was the greatest possible distinction between the policy of the Government and the policy of the right hon. Gentleman—should he say of the front Opposition Bench. The policy of the Government was one of strict neutrality; the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite who supported the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich was war and dismemberment of the Turkish Empire. What was the ground for that? Why did the right hon. Gentleman advocate it? He said there had been misgovernment—that in the Autumn, or, rather, in the Spring of last year, there were grievous massacres in Turkey—horrible deeds which made one shudder to think of them. It was perfectly true. He did not for a moment mean to mitigate the guilt of those who perpetrated those horrors, although they were instigated by those whose intrigues brought about the revolutions which had been made. Turkey had beyond doubt misgoverned her Provinces and made promises which she had not fulfilled, and, therefore, said the right hon. Gentleman, we ought to go to war with her. It was easy to make that assertion, but were there no objections to urge against it? In the first place if we went to war, would we not break our plighted word—infringe a solemn Treaty and interfere with the internal affairs of a foreign nation? A word as to our Treaty obligations. What he under- stood the right hon. Gentleman to endeavour to establish was this: that Russia had a Protectorate, or something like a Protectorate—he might call it a quasi-protectorate — over the Christian inhabitants of Turkey. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Treaty of Kainardji, and said he could read it in Russian and Turkish, and he (the Attorney General) supposed in Greek and in Arabic. He read them a little bit in Italian, and stopping at a comma, he said the Treaty gave them the right of interference. In addition to that he cited the statement of a historian of Turkey and the opinion of a jurist whose name he (the Attorney General) did not remember. [An hon. MEMBER: Bluntschli.] Well, but they had the Treaty in English, and there were but two clauses in it which referred to the circumstances in which Turkey was now placed, or was placed in the year 1856, when the Treaty of Paris was entered into by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a distinguished Member. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] Well, if not a distinguished Member, at least a strong supporter. What did the Treaty of Kainardji say? By the 14th clause Turkey gave Russia permission to establish in Constantinople, in addition to a chapel there, an additional church of the Greek Ritual under the protection of the Ministers of Russia, and undertook to secure it from all outrage. The 7th clause was— The Sublime Porte promises to protect constantly the Christian religion and its churches, —and that is the point where the right hon. Gentleman left off— and it also allows the Ministers of the Imperial Court of Russia to make upon all occasions representations, as well in favour of the church at Constantinople, of which mention is made in the 14th clause, as on behalf of its officiating ministers, and that these representations will receive due consideration, as being made by a confidential functionary of a neighbouring and sincerely friendly Power. He (the Attorney General) had read the clause, which, it was said, gave Russia the right to interfere with the Christian population of Turkey, and what did it come to? Why, that all Russia was entitled to do, was to make remonstrances. He saw the Benches opposite bristling with lawyers, all well able to construe that Treaty, and he asked them whether any one of them would pledge his opinion that it gave Russia any right to interfere? There was an end of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. But there was more. In 1856, after the Crimean War was concluded, a Treaty was entered into, which had cost much blood and treasure; and that Treaty, instead of transferring any Protectorate or right of interference with Russia had to the Six Great Powers or any of them, expressly, distinctly, and positively excluded such right of interference. If that was so, the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich on this point was perfectly futile. Was the Treaty of Paris, by which we engaged not to take any action which would interfere with the integrity of the Turkish Empire, binding or not? It was. You might go to war with Turkey if you liked—and the right hon. Gentleman would have his forces marshalled at once for that purpose. But do not let us go to war with the notion that Turkey had broken that Treaty, or that this country was absolved from her obligations under it. For his part, he had no other sympathy with Turkey than that which naturally arose from the fact that a weak Power was attacked by a strong Power. She had made promises which she had broken. She had not exerted herself as she ought to have done to prevent the atrocities which had been committed; but was that a sufficient reason why we should embark in a war with her? Was it, he would ask, the true policy of this country to interfere in the affairs of other nations and dictate to them how they were to control their own affairs? Englishmen sympathized with those who were oppressed and were struggling for their liberty; but those who were seeking liberty and deserved it could achieve it. If England was to embark upon this policy of interfering with every country that was guilty of misgovernment, where was she to stop? There were many nations, in addition to Turkey, which had made, and failed to keep, promises of reform, and which had trampled out insurrections by barbarous violence and brutality; but England had not interfered with them, and he failed to see why she should interfere now. If she did, she would find herself involved in a crusade which would have a tendency to embarrass her in every part of the world.


The House has just had the advantage of being addressed by two Gentlemen of the long robe; but I must say that I do not think they have treated us very fairly. I think the least they could have done under the circumstances would have been to treat the House as a special jury; but instead of doing that, they have addressed to us arguments of a character which are accustomed to be addressed to the very commonest of common juries. They have both told us, without the slightest attempt at proof of any kind, that my right hon. hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) is in favour of Her Majesty's Government going to war against Turkey. It may be so. My right hon. Friend, however, has himself said no; but the Attorney General may have, in the recesses of his legal subtlety, some means of proving what is thus denied. However, when learned Gentlemen make such statements as we have had to-night, I think they ought to be prepared with their proofs. As a specimen of the way in which the Attorney General has considered his case, he says that we want to go to war with Turkey, because of these questions about the churches. I will not go into that part of the case, but the relevancy of this question about the churches is this—it is contended that before the Crimean War Russia had some sort of right of protection over some bodies of Christians; that that right was abolished by the Treaty of Peace made after the Crimean War, and it is argued therefore that we ought to have taken care that that right was vested in some other Power. Whether Russia had that power or not is no part of my argument. I only mention it in order to show how the Attorney General has considered his case. I find myself in considerable difficulty with regard to the Resolutions of my right hon. Friend, because, after the splendid oration in which they were brought forward, I can add little in support of them; but, at the same time, I feel that, unless something is said from the bench from which I have just risen, a false impression may grow as to the feeling entertained by the usual occupants of that bench concerning them. My opinions have always been identical with those Resolutions. I took some share in the movement of last autumn, which caused Lord Beaconsfield to compare me with Chefket Pasha and Achmet Aga. I would say now what I said then, that what we have to do is not by any means to go to war with Turkey or to interfere with her in any way, but to wash our hands of her, and to let her drift where her destinies may carry her. I now pass to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), which declares that the House declines to entertain any Resolution which may embarrass Her Majesty's Government in their efforts to maintain the peace and for the protection of British interests. This Amendment contains more than appears at first sight. It is pregnant with the assertion that Her Majesty's Government is at this moment, or has been hitherto, engaged in the maintenance of peace and in the protection of British interests, and that those interests are perfectly safe in their hands. I am very sorry that that is a proposition that I at least am unable to agree in, and I will give the reason why I am unable to agree with it, and it appears to me that the fairest way to do this is to examine what has been the conduct of Her Majesty's Government hitherto, and to ask whether they have so acted as to promote British interests, and if they have not I cannot agree in the assertion that they have done so. Now, the best way to test this is a very vulgar and a very coarse one, and that is to take the criterion of success. What has been the result of the labours of Her Majesty's Government? What is it they have wished to do; and what is it they have accomplished? As to the objects they have had in view, I think they have had a wish to maintain the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire—at least, they have often said so; and I think they have desired to maintain peace in Europe. They have had a wish, probably, to keep together the combined action of the Six Powers, so that they could all act together. I think that they wished probably to obtain guarantees for the future. I think that they had in view to take the lead of Europe, and to direct its councils, and I cannot doubt that they desired to maintain peace. Now, it does so happen that in all these things Her Majesty's Government have signally failed. There is not one of them in which they have not entirely failed. The next question I ask myself is, why have they failed? Giving them credit for all good intentions, which I am quite willing to do, why have they failed? I think it is not difficult to show what are the causes which have led to the failure. I cannot say I think the failure can be traced to any particular perversity of fortune or circumstances. All the circumstances were very favourable. I cannot doubt that the Emperor of Russia was very sincerely disposed if he could to maintain peace. We could judge that by his character and all the incidents of his reign. I cannot believe that Turkey, on the other hand, in her bankrupt state, and other difficulties, could have had any real desire to go to war. It is quite certain also that no other of the Great Powers of Europe—neither Austria, France, nor Italy—could have had the least wish to break the peace. Therefore, I think Her Majesty's Government started very fairly on their enterprize, and that they had a fair chance, as far as the circumstances would permit, of an ultimate success. Then, why did they not succeed? I trace their want of success mainly to the fact that they have always had, as it appears to me, at least three policies going at the same time. I trace it further to the fact that they have carried on a system of concealment, and kept their conduct back from the public in a manner exceedingly injurious to their own interests. I trace it further to a certain want, as I must say, of ability and care in the negotiations which they have conducted. I admit that these are all mere assertions; but I will now go on to see whether the facts do not bear them out. There is one other cause which has assisted to bring about a failure of their plans, and that is their persistent hostility and animosity towards Russia. Now, when I say the Government had three policies I mean this—There was the policy of systematic friendship for Turkey and animosity against Russia—that was the policy, I think I may fairly say, which represents the Prime Minister. Then there was the policy—well, I will not say so much of hatred to Russia—but a policy which consisted very much in doing as little as possible, and when anything was done, doing something to counteract its effect, always leaning to Turkey against Russia: I think that was the policy of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I think there is a third policy which is one very much like that advocated by those who sit on this side of the House, and that the Marquess of Salisbury represents. These three policies have been alternately surging up to the top, and have proved a great power for mischief. Let us now see if events which have happened do not bear out what I say. In the first place, there was the Andrassy Note. Lord Derby agreed to the Andrassy Note, but he took care to couple with it a statement that he only agreed to it because the Turks concurred in it, and that took all the grace out of the concession. The next step was the Berlin Memorandum, and this seems to me have been the turning point in this matter. It contained all the principles upon which a sound and fair settlement of this matter might have been arranged. Everything was provided for, the union of the parties, pressure on the Porte, and the demand for sufficient guarantees. That, again, was refused, and it was refused on grounds which, so far as I can find, took no notice of any of the great principles involved in that document; it was rejected upon small and technical details. Then broke out that kind of animosity towards Russia which I am sorry to see has continued so long after. There was a separate despatch, devoted to a querulous sort of complaint of the manner in which this matter had been brought before this country. That was an opportunity lost which never returned. Then the next thing that happened was what were called the Bulgarian atrocities. I do not mean to dwell upon them at any length. They were treated in this House with a levity which shocked every one. ["No, no!"] It was only reluctantly, inch by inch, that the truth was admitted, and, of course, when once established, it could not admit of any levity. The matter, however, was arrayed in such a way as to convey the idea that the sympathy of the Government was not with the unfortunate victims of these horrible atrocities. The result of that was that the country rose in that spontaneous movement and made such a demonstration that the Government felt themselves obliged to yield to it. They did yield, and on the 21st of September we find a letter written by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the Porte, sufficiently strong in denunciation of these atrocities. But look at the curious perversity that was going on all this while. While this was being done, while these accusations were being made, the Government seemed to be at the utmost pains to conceal the whole matter from the public mind. The Prime Minister spoke at Aylesbury, in bitter defiance of public opinion, at the very time that Lord Derby must have been engaged in preparing that document, which protested in the most indignant language against those outrages. Lord Derby himself received deputation after deputation without giving them the least reason to suppose that he felt any cordial sympathy in the matter. What was the possible use of all this concealment I cannot conceive. It went on not merely till the 21st of September, but it went on up to the very time of the celebrated Guildhall speech. Up to that time, everybody who took an interest in the matter was under the supposition, created by the speeches of the Prime Minister, that it was the intention of the Government to take up arms in defence of Turkey against Russia. ["No, no!"] That was the predominant feeling throughout the country, and it was due entirely to the reticence and concealment on the part of the Government. Look at the Guildhall speech. That was made at a time when Lord Salisbury's instructions, which contained everything that the most ardent admirer of the oppressed nationalities of Turkey could desire, were being drawn up. But how did Lord Beaconsfield behave? He went down to Guildhall with a letter containing the most conciliatory overtures from the Emperor of Russia in his pocket, which letter he never chose to mention to the public at all. He referred then to the mission of Lord Salisbury. We find that the noble Lord was told that his business was to go to Turkey, not to hear and right the wrongs of the oppressed Christian subjects of the Porte, but to maintain the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire. Lord Beaconsfield then spoke in a manner which cannot be easily forgotten of the military resources of England, and upon our capacity for continuing successive campaigns in a manner which everyone understood to be a menace to Russia. I do not say it was so, for I speak as an outsider, who could not know the noble Earl's sentiments; but every one understood it as a menace, and I believe to this moment that it was meant as a menace to Russia. That was the conduct of Lord Beaconsfield; but his policy was much better than he pretended it to be, for while they were acting the part of violent enemies of Russia and as the friends of Turkey, the Government were really taking praiseworthy measures for trying to remove the evils of the Christian subjects of the Porte. I and Gentlemen on this side have no right to complain of being kept in ignorance on this point. Of course when I fall into the hands of my enemies I must bear the injuries they inflict upon me; but those sheep, what have they done? There were a number of hon. Gentlemen who, with the best intentions, and with great eloquence, and great research, were making speeches exactly in a contrary sense. There has been nothing like it since the story told by Sidney Smith; "they sang the wrong song, they drank the wrong beer, they made the wrong speech, they cracked the wrong heads." They went against their own policy. Why did they make their best friends ridiculous in this way? I cannot answer the question. I have no idea what they meant. Then came what I may call the lucid interval in the conduct of the Government. That is the period when Lord Salisbury was sent on his mission to Constantinople. His demeanour was worthy of a great British Envoy, and he comported himself with the utmost dignity and propriety in the whole matter. But when he returned, and the whole thing was over, although it had been said that guarantees would be given for what was required being done, it was found that no guarantees had been given, and that the whole thing had fallen through. Soon after that, the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) challenged us all to move a Vote of Censure on the Government; but at that time I, for one, never felt less inclined to move a Vote of Censure on Her Majesty's Government in my life. They seemed to me to have been making really praiseworthy efforts to set matters to rights, and to be by no means worthy of censure; and if anyone, acting on the suggestion of the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire, had proceeded to move such a Motion, I, for one, should certainly not have voted for it, and I believe many other hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House were of the same way of thinking; because the Government had come round to our way of thinking, that the Bulgarians had suffered cruel injury, and because, moreover, the Government had done their best to remedy these wrongs. It is only an instance of how greatly people may be deceived, and puts me in mind of nothing so much as the story, in Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris, of the man who, in his anxiety to save a person's life, kills all those who come to the rescue. So much for what I have termed the lucid interval of the Government; but somehow or other they soon began to retrograde, and speedily returned to a state of things worse than ever; and the next point to which I wish to call attention is the episode of the Protocol. Now, I have quoted one instance of the treatment of Russia at the hands of Her Majesty's Government; but here is another even more striking than that. Russia induced Her Majesty's Government to sign a Protocol for the purpose, if possible, of averting war. Well, Lord Derby agreed to sign it, but he immediately annexes to it a statement "that inasmuch as it is only in the interests of European peace"—just what I have before said, that whenever the noble Lord does anything which might be productive of good, he immediately follows it up by some act likely to destroy all benefit from what he had previously done, and in this case I contend that nothing could have been more insulting to Russia than his action in that matter—"that Her Majesty's Government had consented to sign the Protocol. In the event of the object not being attained of reciprocal disarmament"—a matter which had not been stipulated at all in the Protocol, but which was merely a suggestion proposed by the English Government for the acceptance of Russia—"that then the Protocol shall be null and void." Lord Derby must have known perfectly well that by putting his signature to that it was in his power to destroy and make null this Protocol, and I contend that not only was that an insult to the feelings of Russia, but that it would actually frustrate the effect of any document, the most important that could possibly be signed by the Powers of Europe. From that moment war was decided on, and there was no more hope of making peace, mainly, as I contend, on account of this act by which we entirely cut off all prospect of any further common action between the Powers. Once more the concert of Europe was broken by our act, all possibility of reconciliation put an end to, and an offence given to Russia which very naturally she must feel very deeply. Then, the last thing, and, probably, the worst, is the document we have just seen published as the Answer to the Circular of Prince Gortchakoff declaring war. It says— With the view of enabling Russia the better to abstain from isolated action, the Protocol affirmed the interest taken in common by the Powers in the condition of the Christian population of Turkey. What an invidious way of putting it. It is quite enough that the thing was done. Then it went on to say— Her Majesty's Government cannot admit, as is contended by Prince Gortchakoff, that the answer of the Porte removed all hope of deference on its part to the wishes and advice of Europe, and all security for the application of the suggested reforms. Nor are they of opinion that the terms of the Note necessarily precluded the possibility of the conclusion of peace with Montenegro, or of the arrangement of mutual disarmament. Her Majesty's Government still believe that with patience and moderation on both sides these objects might not improbably have been attained. In their Instructions to Lord Salisbury they had declared that nothing could be done without guarantees; and yet when there was no guarantee whatever, but merely a vague and general statement as to the wishes and hopes of the Powers, they taunted Russia with having broken off from the European concert, stating their belief, for which I see no foundation, that they saw no reason why the thing should not have gone on, and that still the matter might have been brought to a successful issue—that very issue which they themselves had so fatally disturbed by the Declaration cancelling the Protocol, as far as England was concerned. Then they went on to say of Russia's action— It is in contravention of the stipulations of the Treaties of Paris of March 30, 1856, by which Russia and the other signatory Powers engaged, each on its own part, to respect the independence and the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire. Well, we have had the advantage of hearing the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War on that subject when he told us that it would be absolutely wicked if we deviated from these Treaties; but when he addressed us on another occasion he changed his note—he was still very strong on the point of wickedness, but then the wickedness would be solely if we do not consult our own interest. They seem to have forgotten the statement of Lord Derby that Treaties are not immortal, they grow old like everything else, and the idea of Treaties being binding for ever is quite obsolete and absurd. And yet this is made a bitter ground of complaint against Russia. Then, again— The Emperor of Russia has separated himself from the European concert hitherto maintained, and has, at the same time, departed from the rule to which he himself had solemnly recorded his consent. This is very strong language to be used by one Sovereign to another when we are supposed to be in amicable relations. And when it was alleged that Russia had separated herself from the European concert hitherto maintained, who was it that had really separated themselves from that concert? Why the Six Powers signed this Protocol, and then one of them signed a declaration to the effect that it would be void under certain contingencies? And that Power was England; and then they turn round and use that bitter and insulting language to the Emperor of Russia, adding—"It is impossible to foresee the consequences of such an act." What was that but a direct threat against Russia? A war has broken out between Russia and Turkey, and what further consequences can it be supposed were there intended, unless it was that we were to go to war against Russia? Lastly, Tier Majesty's Government said— They feel bound to state, in a manner equally formal and public, that the decision of the Russian Government is not one which can have their concurrence or approval. They were never asked for their concurrence. There was not the slightest necessity for their answering that Circular at all. It was issued to all the Powers. None of the other Powers, I believe, have answered it; and there was no occasion for our Government to have answered it. Unless it was intended to embroil us in our relations with Russia, why it was answered in that peculiar, bitter, and insulting manner, I cannot understand. Well, I have now gone through my reasons, and I ask the House whether I have not shown them a universal failure in everything that has been undertaken by the Government. It has not been a fortuitous failure, owing to matters that could not have been controlled; but it has been the result of a series of blunders, of mistakes, of faults of temper and of judgment, of useless concealment, without calling in that much-abused power, Fortune, to account for it. Well, Sir, in this state of the case, how can any man of good sense vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff)—that is, to abstain from stating opinions in regard to the state of Turkey for fear we should interfere with the the management of the foreign affairs in the hands of Her Majesty's Government. Why, if there was any possibility of interfering, bad as things are, there might be some hope for us. At any rate, if we cannot alter it, do not let us do ourselves the absurdity of saying we are satisfied with the management that has brought us to this pass, and are so satisfied that we all forbear from stating what we know to be a true and righteous opinion, for fear that by doing so we might derange the admirable state of management and organization which has brought us to this pretty pass.


remarked that in supporting the Resolutions of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had done so on the ground that they ought to wash their hands of Turkey, the very thing which the author of the Resolutions had himself argued they could not justifiably do. Those Resolutions had been supported by Gentlemen who wished to plunge this country into a war against Turkey, and to interfere forcibly in the internal affairs of that now distracted Empire. Having, however, summarily disposed of the Resolutions of his own right hon. Friend for which, nevertheless, he was going to vote, the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last had devoted the rest of his speech to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), which he had opposed, as he said, for three reasons. The first was that Her Majesty's Government during the whole of those protracted and troublesome negotiations had pursued three policies, and he had been kind enough to name the three Members of the Go- vernment who were severally responsible, as he had alleged, for those three different policies. It struck him that, as there were 12 Noblemen and Gentlemen in Her Majesty's confidential service, the right hon. Gentleman might just as well have said that during the negotiations they had had 12 policies, and might have proceeded to name the 12 Members of the Cabinet. The right hon. Gentleman's second reason was that they had concealed their policy. That was one of the most extraordinary charges ever heard of. Why the Government had been taunted with having made their policy so plain that it was impossible for the country to overlook it or to support it—that of maintaining the independence and integrity of Turkey—and at the same time hankering after peace, which was considered in the eyes of some a grave offence. The right hon. Gentleman said there was a very general belief in this country that they intended to take up arms in favour of Turkey, and they had carefully concealed from the country that they had no such intention. But what was the fact? From the first the Turkish Government was informed that England did not intend to give them any material assistance, and the whole country was aware of it. There could not be a single person in the Kingdom who did not know that the Government had no intention of taking up arms for Turkey. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the speech of Lord Beaconsfield at the Guildhall as a menace to Russia, but that was not a just construction to put upon it. Lord Beaconsfield commenced by some most graceful compliments to the peaceful disposition of the Emperor of Russia; and if at the close of his speech he alluded in no boastful manner to the power of England, and said that if called on to wage war it would not be in one or two campaigns that her resources would be exhausted, he should like to know what threat was there contained against the Emperor of Russia? He met the statement of the right hon. Gentleman on that point with a distinct denial. The right hon. Gentleman's third point was that they had displayed an inveterate hostility to Russia. But, if there was one thing more than another which people were disposed to find fault with during the latter months of the year, it was that while the Conference at Constantinople was going on, very great deference indeed was paid to all the wishes and propositions of Russia. There was, in fact, nothing approaching hostility to Russia, and the English and Russian Plenipotentiaries were on a most cordial and harmonious footing during the whole of that trying period. But the right hon. Gentleman found hostility in the Protocol and the Declaration which Lord Derby appended to it. The answer to that was that the Protocol was a Russian document, submitted to them by Russia with the express object of enabling her to retire without any self-felt disgrace from the armed position she had so unfortunately taken up, and that the Declaration was perfectly well known to the Russian Ambassador as part of the whole transaction. Moreover, did the English Declaration stand alone? There was the the Italian Declaration and the Russian Declaration; and if they were to be told that the English Declaration manifested hostility to Russia, to what, he should like to know, did the Russian Declaration manifest hostility? It might be that the terms in which the Russian Declaration was drawn up were so haughty, so unsatisfactory to the Ministers of the Sultan, that it brought about the failure of the Protocol; but certainly, as far as the English Declaration was concerned, the Protocol never was in the slightest jeopardy. Then the right hon. Gentleman pronounced Lord Derby's answer to Prince Gortchakoff's Circular to be insulting and severe, and said Her Majesty's Government ought never to have answered that Circular at all. But, considering the part England had taken in all these transactions, it was impossible for her to pass by that Circular without taking due and legitimate notice of it; for in that document Prince Gortchakoff claimed to act for England and the other Powers of Europe in the war she had already declared against Turkey; and if Her Majesty's Government had not taken occasion to deny that claim, they would have been held by the country and by Europe at large to have authorized Russia to go to war with Turkey on their behalf. That was his vindication, if vindication was necessary, of the terms of Lord Derby's answer to Prince Gortchakoff's Circular. Now, he wished to discuss for a few moments the Reso- lution and some sentences in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. First of all, he desired to make a short personal explanation. In the course of his speech the right hon. Gentleman asked why the Government had not produced Papers showing the atrocities that had been committed in the suppression of the Indian Mutiny? He also asked why Government had not produced a certain despatch detailing the cruelties with which a revolt in Cephalonia had been put down. With regard to the latter, he wished to say that he had since found that a Paper which he handed over to the right hon. Gentleman, under the impression that it was the one to which reference had been made, was a despatch from the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, but not one received from the right lion. Gentleman when he held that office. The right hon. Gentleman accused Her Majesty's Government of "shabby" conduct, inasmuch as they had placed on the Table, at the instance of an hon. Gentleman who sat on the other side of the House, Papers relating to cruelties perpetrated by the Russian Government on its own subjects in Poland, and had not also laid on the Table Papers connected with the cruelties of which this country was guilty in the suppression of the Indian Mutiny. If any Government were to be called "shabby" for not producing those Papers, it could not in justice be Her Majesty's present Government. The right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues were in office when those cruelties were committed, and when, no doubt, the despatches on the subject were received; and they might subsequently, when in office for many years, have produced the Papers if they had thought fit. But was it to be understood that it was "shabby" for a Government to produce Papers which were called for in the ordinary transaction of business by an hon. Gentleman who owed them no official support, because they detailed cruelties committed by a Christian State upon its Christian subjects, and that it was not "shabby" to produce every tittle of tale and rumour that could be extracted from Consul or Vice Consul, provided the Government to which it related was Mussulman, and not .Christian? The shabbiness of the transaction was certainly not to be found in the description given of it by the right hon. Gentleman. Now, with regard to the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman employed in moving his first Resolution, it seemed to him they ought to have culminated, not in a Vote of Censure on the Government of Turkey, but in a Vote of Censure on the Government of England. The whole speech leading up to the Resolutions was one long arraignment of the Government of this country; the product was a censure of the Government of Turkey. But how was this Resolution, this Vote of Censure, to be conveyed to the Government of Turkey? Why, it would remain another of those dead letters, another of those pieces of waste paper upon which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich bestowed so much sarcastic eloquence. With regard to the second Resolution—for he supposed the first must be looked upon as in reality only a Preamble to the second—it pledged the House, as he understood it, for all time, against rendering any material or moral support to Turkey. As to material support, Her Majesty's Government had said from the first that it was not their intention to offer any. There had been, and could be, no mistake on that point. As to moral support, it would have been well if the right hon. Gentleman had defined what it meant. It was proposed to pass this Resolution and tie it, as it were, round the necks of Her Majesty's Government, to hamper their actions for the future, although the House had had no definition of the "moral support" which was never, in any circumstances, to be rendered to Turkey. But the right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech, seemed to suggest what was in his mind when he talked of moral support. Mr. Layard had been sent to Constantinople as an Ambassador, and the right hon. Gentleman seemed to find great fault with that appointment. Was the sending of Mr. Layard to Constantinople an instance of the moral support from which Government would have been debarred, if this Resolution had been accepted previously by the House of Commons? Was good advice tendered at Constantinople by an Ambassador, be he Mr. Layard or anybody else, moral support? He concluded that it was. The sending of the Fleet to Turkish waters had been a great offence. The right hon. Gentle- man had never forgiven it. Well, it might be that in the discharge of their duty to the country Her Majesty's Government might have occasion again to send a British Fleet, if not to Besika Bay, at any rate to Turkish waters. Would that be the moral support to Turkey which was condemned by anticipation in this second Resolution? It was a curious thing that in Lord Palmerston's "Life" there was a private letter of his, written in 1849 to Sir Stratford Canning, in which he spoke of sending a Fleet to Besika Bay as moral support to Turkey. There was reason, then, to ask right hon. Gentlemen opposite to define a little more clearly what they meant by withholding all moral support from Turkey. These two Resolutions, even if the third and fourth were abandoned, were entangling and insidious Resolutions, calculated, if not intended, to weaken the hands and impair the action of Her Majesty's Government, in contingencies which could not be foreseen, but for which the Government should be left free and unfettered. Had the debate shown that the third and fourth Resolutions were absolutely and morally abandoned? Quite the reverse. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) had shown that three-fourths of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich referred to these third and fourth Resolutions, and there had been no attempt on the part of the subsequent speakers to deny the inference deducible from that fact. The speeches of the hon. Members for Glamorganshire (Mr. Hussey Vivian), Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), and Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), all stated distinctly that these Resolutions intended war against Turkey. The third and fourth might be technically withdrawn, but in spirit they were alive; the Resolutions might be sent to a Parliamentary purgatory, but their flavour still permeated the walls of this Assembly. Quo semel est imbuta recens servabit odorem Testa diu. While talking about the Protocol which was rendered harmless by Lord Derby's Declaration, let them look at that which was held up for their admiration in the four suspended Resolutions. The Protocol of 1826 had no safeguard attached to it as had that of 1877; the Protocol of 1826 led to the Treaty of 1827, that to the untoward event of Navarino, and that to the campaign of 1828–9 and the disastrous Treaty of Adrianople; and it was that Protocol of 1826 and the Treaty of 1827 they were now invited to imitate, emulate, and copy. When this was made clear to the people of England there would be no outcry in favour of imitating the Protocol of 1826. The Protocol of 1877 having lapsed through the action of Russia, aided by the unfortunate obstinacy of Turkey, Europe found herself once more free—England, Austria, Turkey, Italy, and France were free. Countries that agreed to the Protocol were also free in their Legislative Assemblies; but in neither Austria, Hungary, Italy, nor France had any right hon. Member for Greenwich proposed Resolutions to goad or hinder the action of the Government; and it was reserved to the right hon. Gentleman to attempt to fetter and humiliate the Government of his own country, which he did not seem disposed to challenge in a more direct manner. He had mentioned Hungary, which seemed to have lost the sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman; but Hungarian patriots owed a deep debt of gratitude to the "anti-human Turks;" and it might be that the Hungarians of 1877 were not thinking merely of their own interest, but were actuated by the nobler sentiment of gratitude. The position in which we found ourselves was this—that by the obstinacy of Turkey and the fatal precipitancy of Russia, the concert of Europe was destroyed and war had broken out. What, then, was the duty of the English Government? According to the right hon. Gentleman it was to follow submissively at the heels and beck of Russia, and join our forces in coercing Turkey. That was not the view which the Government took of their position and duty. They had throughout maintained, in spite of all that had been said by the right hon. Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe), the utmost frankness. Russia had no cause to complain of their having concealed one jot or tittle of their policy from her. She knew what interests of theirs it would be their duty to maintain and defend. It was clear to the House and the country that, in a great war of this kind, commenced, as they thought, without any justifiable cause—a war which was embracing a great portion of Asia as well as of Europe in its scope—with our vast Empire and our varied and ramified interests in three quarters of the globe, it was the primary and paramount duty of England not now to be thinking, as these Resolutions would bid them think, of more guarantees, more Protocols, more Conferences, or the minutiœ of autonomy here or there, but to see that in this great and mighty contest none of the interests of their Empire that might be affected by the war were jeopardized or sacrificed. That was the duty to which Her Majesty's Ministers were devoting themselves. The issue was plain before the House. If the House was of opinion that the policy adumbrated in the first two Resolutions, and carried to their legitimate extent in the last two—a policy of coercive interference in the wake of Russia with the internal concerns of Turkey—was the just and wise policy for this country to pursue, let them say so. But if, on the other hand, the House was of opinion that the policy which the Government had uniformly pursued since these unfortunate events occurred—the policy of' respecting the Treaties to which they were parties, the policy of struggling to maintain European peace and European concord, and the policy of vindicating, by peaceful means if possible — God grant they might be peaceful to the end of the chapter, but by any means if necessary—the essential interests, rights, honour, and integrity of this great Empire—then he asked that these Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman might be rejected by a majority so decisive that neither in this country nor elsewhere could there be any mistake as to the predominant and paramount opinions of the Representatives of the people of this great country.


moved the adjournment of the debate.


thought that as many Members who desired to speak had not yet had the opportunity, the debate might be adjourned.


hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would allow the debate to be prolonged two more days, seeing that some of the Irish Members were desirous to speak.


said, he had no right to speak again; but it rested with the House to prolong the debate if it should be thought necessary, and the Government would not offer any opposition to their wish.

Motion agreed to.

Debate adjourned till Thursday.