HC Deb 10 May 1877 vol 234 cc623-708

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 Wolf,) —instead thereof.

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

Debate resumed.


regretted the absence, through indisposition, of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), by whom the debate was to have been resumed. On Monday night, when hon. Members came down to that House to hear the speech of the right hon. Member for Greenwich in support of his Resolutions, they found that the order of the proposed proceedings had been entirely changed. He had on that occasion expressed his apprehensions of the consequences of that change and regret that it had been made, and what had since occurred had tended to confirm those apprehensions and that regret. What was the position of himself and of those who thought with him at that time? The question which was now occupying the attention of the House had agitated the country for many months, and yet it was one upon which the House of Commons had not as yet expressed any definite opinion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich at length, in compliance with the expressed wishes of the mass of the people, asked the House to give its adhesion to a particular policy. The hope excited in the minds of hon. Members who approved the policy indicated by the right hon. Gentleman's Resolutions was shared by a proportion of the people out-of-doors—he would not say what proportion, but it was a large proportion—who had hastened to testify their approbation of what the right hon. Gentleman had undertaken to do. Numberless meetings were held in support of these Resolutions, and Petitions adopted in their favour. Therefore, when those hon. Members came down on Monday night and found that the right hon. Gentleman was not about to invite the attention of the House to the policy embodied in his third and fourth Resolutions, they received the intelligence with feelings of consternation and bewilderment. How did matters then stand? By the withdrawal of the third and fourth Resolutions, only two propositions were left for discussion by that House. The first of those propositions was that the House had just cause for dissatisfaction and complaint in the conduct of the Ottoman Porte with regard to the despatch written by the Earl of Derby on the 21st of September, and relating to the massacres in Bulgaria. Every hon. Member in that House must be of that opinion, and, indeed, no persons could be more dissatisfied with the action of the Porte in connection with that despatch than the Colleagues of the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office. He believed, however, that since the debate had been commenced, one voice—that of the right hon. Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe)—had been raised in opposition to that proposition, inasmuch as he objected to the despatch having been written at all, believing that the Foreign Secretary had strayed from the path of discretion and had deviated from the impartiality he ought to have preserved in addressing this despatch to the Turkish Government. He was not quite sure he interpreted the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman aright; but, subject to this exception, he believed that all hon. Members were agreed in approving the proposition submitted to them in the first Resolution. The second proposition in its amended form was that the Turkish Government, by its treatment of its subject populations, must be deemed to have lost all claim to receive either the material or the moral support of the British Crown. He preferred the Amendment to the original form; but it must be observed that the cardinal word of both was the word "claim." The Turkish Government was declared to have lost all "claim" upon our aid. He believed that no one would disagree from that proposition. Her Majesty's Government must agree with it, because if the Turkish Government had not, by its conduct, forfeited all claim to our material and moral support, we should be at war on behalf of Turkey at the present moment, and certainly hon. Members on his side of the House must heartily approve it. Even those on the other side, who were strongest in their feelings of opposition to Russia, and might hereafter call for action against Russia, based their position upon no supposed claims of Turkey, but on what they conceived to be our interests. There was, therefore, no ground upon which the propositions as they stood could be discussed; and, indeed, the hon. and gallant Member for Berkshire (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) had proposed to stop all discussion upon the subject by suggesting that the House should immediately give its adherence to them. That was the result of the arrangement that had been come to, and it was said that the unanimity of the Liberal Party had been gained by it. No one could be more deeply desirous for the unanimity of the Liberal Party than he was, but the term unanimity expressed the idea of persons being of one mind, and therefore that there should be a mind; but he had failed to discover evidences of mind in the agreement that had been arrived at. The Liberal Party might now have one voice, but it was not a voice expressing one will or one policy, or even one opinion. The Liberal Party were, in fact, reduced very much to what Her Majesty's Government had reduced the European concert to. The latter was a very valuable thing, but in the hands of Her Majesty's Government it never did anything it was wanted to do, and it appeared that it could only be maintained as long as it dealt in empty professions. The present position of the Liberal Party, resembling too faithfully the European concert, was that of the chorus in a Greek play, which strikes in with moral sentiments every now and then, without affecting in ally way the action of the play, but appeals to Heaven and exclaims—"How very unjust, how very wrong, how very injudicious on the part of a people hastening blindly to their ruin." What had happened in this matter made scoffers rejoice and discouraged those who were faithful. He appealed, therefore, to hon. Members whether the apprehensions he had felt had not been realized. It had been said that they had had a magnificent speech from the right hon. Member for Greenwich. No one could admire the argument of that speech or could have been moved by its eloquence more than himself, but they would still have had that speech, even if the third and fourth Resolutions had not been withdrawn; but now they had lost the crown and purpose of that speech, and the very reason for which the speech was made had been withdrawn, while they were not permitted to express any opinion upon the policy which it advocated. If the third and fourth Resolutions had not been withdrawn there would have been a debate which would have instructed the House and the country. The speeches which had been delivered in this debate had, however, not turned upon the question of policy, but upon the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. Had the Resolutions been maintained, the right hon. Gentlemen on the front Opposition bench, who had spoken on Tuesday, must have addressed themselves to the policy of the Resolutions, instead of which they had indulged in a weary round of aimless criticism. The country was left without a Leader as much as ever. He should be sorry to use language which could be regarded as a reproach to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. He had no feeling of that kind towards him. He was sure the reasons which had induced the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw the third and fourth Resolutions were of a most noble character. But he regarded the course adopted by the right hon. Gentleman as a great error of judgment, which must be deplored in the interests of this country and of the cause which the right hon. Gentleman himself had at heart. In order to appreciate the effect of what had been done, he (Mr. Courtney) invited the House to go back. Let them consider the time of Sir Robert Peel, when the division of Parties in that House was much the same as it was now. At that time there was one great question—that of the repeal of the Corn Laws—which occupied the attention of the country, and there was then, as now, a great division of opinion on the Opposition benches. A total and immediate repeal of the Corn Laws was demanded by the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), by Mr. Cobden, and by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. C. P. Villiers.) The noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition (Lord John Russell) went about murmuring that it would be much wiser to demand an 8s. fixed duty. Suppose the champion of Corn Law repeal had put on the Table of the House a Resolution for an immediate repeal of the Corn Laws; suppose that meetings had been held throughout the country in support of that movement, that Members came to the House to support it, but that at the last moment the Resolution had been changed into a proposal that the sliding scale ought to be modified—what would have been the consternation, what would have been the indignation, of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham? He (Mr. Courtney) hoped before he sat down to recall the House in some degree to the question of policy. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) had proposed with reference to the first Resolution an Amendment to the effect that the House declined to entertain any Motion which would embarrass Her Majesty's Government without indicating an alternative line of policy. He (Mr. Courtney) felt there was considerable justice in that position. The Home Secretary said on Monday this was a critical question, and that no Member had ventured to recommend coercion. In the most unequivocal manner, he (Mr. Courtney) was prepared to recommend the employment of force. One policy was that of maintaining unaltered the status quo of the Ottoman Empire. There was another policy—namely, that of assisting as much as possible in its gradual dismemberment. He ventured to say that the policy of wisdom was that policy which recommended dismemberment. He advocated dismemberment, in the first place, because, although it did not depend on us at all whether the Ottoman Empire should be dismembered, it did depend upon us whether it should be dismembered one way or another. This was not a new question. It was 300 or 400 years old. It was 200 years at least since the Ottoman Empire began to decline. One by one Provinces had been taken from it, and a great improvement had resulted in the condition of Europe as well as in the condition of those Provinces. At one time great part of Hungary was under the dominion of the Ottoman Empire, and the change that had since occurred in the condition of that part of Hungary was such as would occur in Bulgaria when it ceased to be an Ottoman Province. The change that would occur in respect of the equilibrium of Europe was equally clear. That equilibrium was threatened by the strenuous efforts to keep together the parts of this machine which had in themselves no gravitation one to another. Every five or 10 years an attempt was made, which somehow or other was put down, to break off a Province here or a Province there. If, instead of adhering to the old notion of keeping these Provinces together, we directed our energy to promoting a dismemberment of this Empire, we should find the task before us, he believed, easy and safe. In the conduct of these negotiations the policy of Her Majesty's Government from the beginning had been that of keeping back the other Powers of Europe from acting. One Government might have been said to be unwilling to go forward; but even that Government was always more anxious for action than ourselves, because it was placed nearer to Turkey and was better informed about its condition than ourselves—he meant the Government of Austro-Hungary. Twelve months ago the immediate question might have been easily solved by cutting off Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Ottoman Empire, to which they were attached by a very narrow neck of land. The dimensions of the problem had since grown, and if we were wise we should hasten to settle it before it became indefinitely extended. The solution of the question rested primarily with us and Germany, and it might have been altogether settled by the joint action of those two Powers, if our Government had made a communication to Prince Bismarck; but not such a communication as Lord Derby had made, beseeching the German Chancellor to interfere and bring his influence to bear on the Czar to stop the development of Slav nationality. That appeal showed an utter want of appreciation of the question, because Prince Bismarck well knew that the greatest force at work in the present century was the principle of nationality, as was exemplified in the re-construction of the German Empire itself. An appeal, therefore, to Prince Bismarck in order to repress the nationality of the Slays, was like appealing to a man to commit an act of suicide, and it was impossible that it should have met with any other response than the one it received. But if they had gone to the German Chancellor and said that the question affected Germany more intimately than it did England, connected as it was with the navigation of the Danube and the advance of Russia in Eastern Europe; asking him whether, in conjunction with Austria, they could not meet the Czar half way, and propose that these outlying Provinces of Turkey should receive a form of government that would be tolerable to their populalation, the strife might have been arrested at that stage. If that had been done, Prince Bismarck would have acceded to the proposal, they would have made another step in advance towards the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, and they would have averted this terrible war. The Vice President of the Council, the other night, referring to the distinction between moral and material coercion, appeared to be unaware that that distinction had been drawn by Lord Derby in a despatch in which he said that Turkey must not rely on receiving more than our moral support.


said, he had not alluded to any distinction between moral and material coercion, but to the distinction between the moral retention of certain Resolutions and their material withdrawal.


said, that did not in the least affect the gist of his argument. Of course, in proposing a policy of that kind they had the possibility of war in the background. That was the ultima ratio regum, the sanction by which it was supported. If they proposed a partial dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, they might, should Turkey not agree to their terms, have to make her accept them. But what then? They would have Russia, Germany, and Austria with them. On the sea, what was the Turkish Fleet without the help of Englishmen? That fleet was commanded by an Englishman; there was not a single iron-clad in it which did not depend for its navigation on English engineers, and if war broke out between England and Turkey the consequence would be that the whole Ottoman Fleet would be reduced to inaction, unless the Englishmen on board consented to forego their nationality; otherwise they would be liable to be treated as rebels to their own Sovereign. That would at once destroy the power of the Turkish Fleet; so that, although the name of war was in the background, it would really be only a nominal coercion. The case would be like that of a "rough" with half-a-dozen policemen round him, who told him that if he resisted they were afraid they would have to use their truncheons against him. The fear of war was no more serious than that. He was astonished at the strange contrast presented between the fear shown in that case and the rashness evinced in another transaction which they had all heard of within the last few days. The Government had just annexed an independent Republic in South Africa—an act which involved more risks than the proposal which he had described. It might be said that annexation in South Africa would involve no risk; but to that he would answer—"Wait till the end." As far as he could see, that act, without any justification of policy or of principle, exposed this country to greater peril of serious war than the suggestion he had made for settling that question. But if they were going to break off those Provinces from the Turkish Empire, they must have some assurance that it would be possible to set up an improved form of government in them. The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council asked—"How is it possible that free England and unfree Russia should work together to establish any form of government that would suit both?" The answer to that was, that the thing had been done. How did it happen that free England and unfree Russia were the great motive-power which set up free Servia, free Roumania, and which also worked together to set up free Greece? It might be said that in all three cases the Governments so set up were imperfect. He admitted it, but they were all free; and as there was no difficulty in those instances in such a form of government being set up by the joint action of those two Powers, neither would there be any difficulty in setting it up in Herzegovina and Bosnia. The Government of free Greece was a living, active, and trustworthy Government; and even in the Lebanon a local autonomy had also been established. In fact, the policy of Mr. Canning was the true policy to follow — not, indeed, in all its original details, but with the corrections suggested by subsequent experience, and adapted to the varying circumstances of the problem. That, he was sure, was a policy of peace, a policy of honour, and a policy of economy. The House would perceive that he was not regarding that great question from a Party point of view. Probably as many hon. Members sitting on his own side dissented from what he had said as sat on the opposite benches. But he might acid that he was not expressing convictions which had resulted from any Bulgarian horrors. Those convictions he had adopted when still young—in fact, during the Crimean War—a war which he regarded as an act of great un wisdom; and the experience of every year that had since gone by had only confirmed, strengthened, and deepened them. He might, therefore, claim to speak with some independence on that matter, especially when he vindicated the right hon. Member for Greenwich from the accusation brought against him, that he now propounded a great and comprehensive policy on that question, although he never when in power gave a hint that he had any desire to pursue it. Such a charge could only be advanced by those who did not understand the conditions of political life. People out-of-doors might catch it up; it was incredible that any one engaged in public life could seriously urge it. No one in that House would advance it who knew the difficulties under which Ministers of the Crown laboured and the burden of the duties which were cast upon them, or how little choice they really had in suggesting new enterprizes. The work of the First Minister of the Crown of England was so vast that he could scarcely understand how any man could achieve it. And when the right hon. Member for Greenwich was engaged during his Administration in enterprizes so gigantic that hon. Gentlemen opposite denounced them beforehand as problems which could not be solved, as works which amounted to a revolution, as something more disastrous than the invasion of a foreign army, how was it to be expected that he should also, at the same time, have undertaken a comprehensive scheme for the settlement of the Eastern Question? It might be said—"The Ottoman Empire is falling to pieces of itself. Why should England interfere?" The answer to that was, in the first place, that we had a general responsibility in the matter as one of the Great Powers; and, in the second place, that in 1854 we did a grievous wrong to the subject races of the Porte which it was our duty to repair. How stood the case before the Crimean War? By the Treaty of Kainardji the Porte promised to protect the Christian religion and its churches, and to permit the erection of a church at Constantinople. That was a promise made to the Czar. Now, it was one of the simplest axioms of jurisprudence that if a promise was made to some person for a valuable consideration, that person had a right to exact its performance. Under the Treaty of Kainardji, therefore, the Czar had a right to require the Porte to protect the Christian religion and its churches. He was sure if hon. Members would for one moment free their minds from the confusion and excitement attendant upon the Eastern Question, they would admit the justice of that assertion. If in the course of the last century, at the conclusion of our war with Spain, we had exacted from His Most Catholic Majesty a promise to extend toleration to all Protestants in that country, and to permit the erection of a Protestant Church in Madrid, should we have been content with the non-fulfilment of that engagement? That was a parallel case, and he commended it to the attention of those who denied the right of the Czar before the Crimean War to interfere for the protection of the Christian races of the Ottoman Empire. Well, the Crimean War abolished that Treaty and put nothing in its place. It was one of the most wonderful examples of the portentious illusions generated by that war that the united Powers of Europe thought the Sultan might be trusted, of his own grace and love of justice, to afford that freedom and protection to the Christian Church which he had failed to give under a solemn promise. England absolutely declared she had nothing to do with the relations between the Sultan and his subjects. The Sultan issued a Finnan which accorded certain privileges, but which gave no rights, and so it came to pass that the promise given under the Treaty of Kainardji was abolished and nothing substituted for it. That, in his opinion, was one of the greatest international crimes ever committed. It left millions of Greek Christians under the dominion of the Sultan absolutely stripped of the protection which they had previously enjoyed; and if the risk were greater than it was; if the labour were greater than it was, he would say, let the power of England be exerted to undo the wrong which was then unwittingly done. It might be asked, even, if these aims were good and these propositions sound, how could we possibly enter into co-operation with Russia? How could we be so deluded as to suppose that Russia was animated by any sincere desire to protect or to give protection to those oppressed subjects of the Sultan? ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members opposite cheered. He invited them to consider the condition of England 50 years ago, when Mr. Canning interfered to secure some justice, some protection, to the oppressed population of Greece. He invited them to compare the condition of England then with that of, Russia now, and to say whether there was a single charge now brought against Russia which could not have been brought with the same justice against England then. Fifty years ago, in Mr. Canning's time, there were many people who remembered the events of the suppression of the Irish Rebellion in 1798. Had hon. Members opposite read Maxwell's History of the Irish Rebellion,? It was uncommonly good reading for Englishmen and very bad reading for Irishmen. If they had read it, they would remember something of Sir Judkin Fitzgerald, who received a pension from the Crown for deeds as foul as ever were committed by any Russian. He did not wish to say anything which might be humiliating to any hon. Member; but what was the composition of that House then? What was the practical worth of the English Church then? What was the character of England then? They talked of the Protective policy of Russia. What was the commercial policy of England then? They talked of the extension of Russian Dominions in Central Asia. He asked them to look back to the once continuous extension of the British possessions in India. They talked of pledges forfeited. He asked them to remember how Governor General after Governor General went out to India with professions of peace, and how they went on adding to the territory of their predecessors. He wondered at what he was afraid he must call the want of intelligence, at the inertness of intellect which prevented men from looking at the history of their own country before judging of the misdeeds of other countries, or from seeing how far the charges which they brought against others could be brought against themselves. There was another reason often advanced why we should not enter into alliance with Russia. He was almost ashamed to mention it, but it was necessary to do so. There were many people who were moved to action in this matter chiefly by the fact that the oppressed races of Turkey were for the most part members of the Greek Church. But there were, on the other hand, many people who were kept back from sympathizing with those oppressed races because they were members of the Greek Church. For himself, he believed that with Greek Church or Latin, or with any other ritual, he should feel the same sympathy; and he trusted that the Liberal Members of the House of Commons would never withhold their sympathy from him who suffered, whatever his creed might be. There was one other point to which he might refer. When he looked to the state of Europe at the present time he saw something which justified the deepest anxiety. At home there was nothing to fear. Progress might be more or less rapid, but the maintenance of progress was certain. It was different abroad. He saw nation separated from nation by feelings of suspicion, of jealousy, of hate. International jealousy was so strong that there was not even a free exchange of thought. Ideas and feelings would not pass from one nation to another. The very sources of intellectual and moral life were poisoned by that jealousy. If anyone thought his language overcharged, let him visit the two countries which were supposed to be foremost in the development of civilization—France and Germany. Men used to go to Paris to meet emancipated intellect working freely, discussing all manner of problems. If one went thither now, and in talking with a Frenchman broached the subject of Germany, he would find that on that question the mind of the Frenchman was absolutely closed. The French could not understand anything good in Germany. They hated the name, they hated the civilization, they hated the learning of Germany. In Berlin, again, we should, no doubt, find monsters of learning to put our ignorance to shame; but if we broached the subject of France, we should find a total incapacity to understand anything good in France. He had hoped that the co-operation of the Great Powers in connection with the Eastern Question would afford an opportunity of breaking down this mutual hostility. In particular, he had expected that the Conference at Constantinople would do much to develop among the nations of Europe a feeling of common interest. He had looked for the inauguration of a rule of justice, and for the formation of a new Holy Alliance very different in its nature from that Holy Alliance the object of which was to keep everything as it was. It was to be deplored, for the sake not only of England, but of all Europe, that failure had attended the attempts to which he referred. That opportunity had been lost, but occasions would recur again and again. If the principles of international action which he had endeavoured to explain should find any acceptance in the councils of this country, there would be no want of opportunities to put them in operation. Even within the last two or three days, he understood, Russia had reiterated the determination of the Czar to make no territorial aggrandizement. As the war proceeded step by step there would no doubt be stages at which it would be in the power of this country to help the Czar in completing the work he had undertaken. This discussion served to give expression to the feeling, which, in his opinion, was shared by the majority of the people of this country, that the power of England should be exerted on behalf of justice in alliance with the Czar. ["No!"] He might, of course, be mistaken in what he had just said. It was a question of the estimate of public forces outside, and he only went on the evidence as it had been presented to himself. No doubt the majority of the Members of that House were of opinion that the judgment he had expressed was wrong. But he was not discouraged on that account. There watched and waited upon the deliberations of Parliament an enfranchised and generous people; and he would be content, in the event of defeat in that House, to go before the tribunal of their judgment, to which the pleas of humanity and of justice were never addressed in vain.


In the remarkable speech of the hon. Gentleman who has has just sat down, in spite of the want of intellect with which he charged us who sit on this side of the House, I am free to acknowledge that it left nothing to be desired in the frank, manly, and straightforward avowal of the policy which, in his opinion, ought to be pursued. Perhaps, however, before going into the general matter of the remarks which I am about to submit to it, the House will allow me to make a few remarks on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe), made at the close of the debate on Tuesday night. The right hon. Gentleman delivered a speech on the occasion which was full of severe and caustic criticism upon the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. He characterized it as being full of blunders, distinguished by faults of judgment and temper and obvious concealment. He began with the Andrassy Note, and said that document was deprived of its grace by the manner in which Lord Derby gave his adhesion to it. I entirely dissent from that opinion, but I shall say nothing more about it. He then went on to speak of the Berlin Memorandum, and contended that it contained the principle of a satisfactory solution of this question. It had been rejected, he said, by Her Majesty's Government on "small and technical grounds." I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means by "small and technical grounds." The "small and technical ground" on which it was rejected was that it recommended armed intervention in the affairs of Turkey if the proposals it contained were not accepted by the Porte. In other words, it proposed a policy of coercion, and that is precisely the policy against which Her Majesty's Government was consistently opposed, and which it is quite unprepared to adopt now. However, the right hon. Gentleman went on to charge the Prime Minister with having spoken of the massacres that occurred in Bulgaria in a spirit of levity. As I am a follower of the Prime Minister I feel bound to vindicate him from such a charge. When it is said that the Head of the Government is guilty of levity in regard to such a question as this it is a slander not only upon him, but upon the Administration of which he is the head. Perhaps the House will allow me to quote the words of Lord Beaconsfield himself with reference to this charge. In a letter to The Times, dated September 6, he said— There are some occasions on which a misstatement, frequently repeated, ought to be noticed. There is such a case, I think, in your leading article of yesterday. I never used such an expression as 'an historical people,' to which it is difficult to annex a precise idea, or ever sought to raise a laugh at the more primitive and speedy methods used by such peoples to get rid of their enemies. My statement was in answer to one that 10,000 Bulgarians had been submitted to torture. I was perfectly grave when I replied that I was sceptical as to such occurrences, as massacre, not torture, was the custom of an Oriental (not historical) people. Unhappily, it has turned out that I was correct. Certainly, on the occasion in question there was, to my surprise, a laugh, but it came, as I was subsequently told, only from one Member. I hope the misplaced laughter of another is no proof of the levity of your obedient servant, BEACONSFIELD. This, I think, is a conclusive answer, and should be accepted as such by hon. Members on both sides of the House. The right hon. Gentleman, however, went on to argue that this levity caused the Autumn agitation. Has it ever occurred to the right hon. Gentleman that there may be changes of circumstances as well as changes of policy? The Government at the time of the speech of Lord Beaconsfield had not received any official information of the circumstances that occurred in Bulgaria, but when they received further and fuller details from Mr. Baring's Report the circumstances were by no means the same; and within the very first week after this official information had been received the Government sent a despatch to their Ambassador to be communicated to the Porte, the severity and stringency of which has been frequently commented upon in these debates. The right hon. Gentleman then referred to the Guildhall speech, and said it was an ungenerous answer to the protestations of Russia. I disagree entirely with that view, and I think the language that was used was that of a great statesman who deserved well of his countrymen; and the right hon. Gentleman would have been nearer the mark if he had said that it contained a timely, though, alas, an ineffectual warning to Russia. The Prime Minister, however, repeated that language in "another place," which by the Rules of this House we are not per- mitted to mention, and not one of the Colleagues or supporters of the right hon. Gentleman there challenged the statement; and I must say that it would have been more becoming if the right hon. Gentleman had refrained from making the charge in the absence of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) in his speech made one remark to which I wish to refer. He said that the answer of Lord Derby to the Circular of Prince Gortchakoff was ill-advised, violent, and provoking. I think, on the other hand, that a more dignified Paper, and one more deservedly warranted, was never penned in the British Foreign Office. The right hon. Gentleman certainly did not say in so many words that in the conduct of these negotiations the voice of Her Majesty's Government was the voice of Jacob, but the hands were the hands of Esau, but he did insinuate that, although the despatch was unwillingly penned by Lord Derby, it was dictated by Lord Beaconsfield. Well, whose voice would you wish to hear in a great and solemn crisis like this but the voice of the Prime Minister of England? But it was not only the voice of Lord Beaconsfield; it was the voice of Lord Derby as well—aye, and of a united Cabinet also. I once for all protest against the insinuations that have been made about the existence of divisions in the Cabinet, based upon reports taken from evening newspapers, for which there is not the shadow of a foundation. I believe that in the minds of those who make it the wish is father to the thought. The hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), however, comes forward in the boldest manner and urges upon us not only a war policy, but a policy of dismemberment of the Turkish Empire. I will only say this with regard to the policy of coercion that is proposed by the hon. Gentleman opposite, that it comes a good deal too late; and when I oppose a policy of dismemberment, although I am not prepared to say what should be put in its place, I am prepared to say that if it were to be carried out by Russia and England Russia would want a portion of the spoil, Germany would want a slice, and Austria would require something. In my opinion, a more dangerous policy could not be proposed. Upon the Resolutions, or rather what were the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), I have a word or two to say. When I came down to the House on Monday night I was in hopes that we were about to be confronted at last with a Motion which was meant to be something more than simply one of those to hang speeches on, of which there have been too many. I was sanguine enough to believe that the time had at length arrived when we were to have something more than the irregular warfare which has been pursued so long, and that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, having taken a careful survey of the position, was prepared at last to lead an onslaught on Her Majesty's Government. From what took place on Monday night, however, I must say that we are again doomed to disappointment. I share to the full the bewilderment of hon. Gentlemen with regard to the position in which we are placed, and the change that has come over the spirit of the dream of the right hon. Gentleman. I think his courage has failed him again at the last moment, and that under a speech which for force and splendour the like of which has seldom been heard in this House, he has, to use military language, been engaged in the operation of what is generally known as covering a retreat. I regret that more than I can say. I always thought it a grievous error on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, and a grave misfortune for the interests of England and of Europe, that this question had not been brought to a decisive issue the moment Parliament re-assembled. I thought so then, and I think so now, because I hold it to be impossible that if there was any real division of opinion among us that Europe, and, more especially, that Russia should know what the actual opinion of the Parliament of this country was as to the course she was contemplating and evidently pursuing. Even now I cannot help thinking that, if this had been done, if such an expression of our opinion had been elicited as would have shown to the world and to Russia how much in this country we should have been opposed to the independent action of Russia, Russia would have paused long, if she had not altogether refrained from taking steps which now were perhaps beyond hope of recall, and by which, I fear, she is too deeply committed. I may be asked how it was, that holding these views, no one on this side of the House felt it to be his duty to make such a Motion. We could not do that on this side of the House, because it would have been moving a Vote of Confidence in ourselves. I do not think either that such a Motion could have come from the noble Lord opposite, the Leader of the Opposition. He is, at all events, the recognized Leader on that side of the House, and we had no right to expect any such Motion from him; for so long ago as last August, just before Parliament was prorogued, and in the very last speech he made, he concluded a statement by saying that, on the whole, he approved of the policy which Her Majesty's Government had pursued. Not so the right hon. Gentleman who brought forward these Resolutions. He took a very different course last Autumn, and one that disclosed a remarkable state of affairs, the culmination of which, I suppose, we witnessed in the events of last Monday night. Very soon after that speech of the noble Lord the right hon. Gentleman fiercely denounced Her Majesty's Government because for 12 months or more he thought their policy had been deplorable and opposed to the convictions of the people of England, although the recognized Leader of the Opposition had spoken of it in terms of distinct, if not emphatic approval. I say that, under these circumstances, it rested with the right hon. Gentleman to take the sense and opinion of Parliament on the subject, as soon as it met, to obtain its opinion for the information of Europe and the instruction of Russia. I know that the state of public feeling in this country has been raised during this discussion, and the hon. Member for Liskeard has followed the example of the right hon. Gentleman by hinting his doubt as to the House being a fair exponent of public opinion on this question. I remember that in the Recess hon. Gentlemen opposite were loud in their appeals to have the decision submitted to the judgment of Parliament. One Member of the late Administration, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), whom I am glad to see in his place, went so far as to say that the demand was constitutionally wise, and that if it was complied with he did not fear what the verdict of Parliament would he. Par- liament has now been met for some time; but I suppose that hon. Gentlemen opposite find that its verdict is not likely to be what they wish, and so now they think it right to turn round and to talk of appealing again to the country. And what, let me ask, is the feeling of the country? I think it will be admitted that the people of Salford represent very fairly the views and the feelings of the people of England. ["No."] At any rate, hon. Gentleman on that side of the House thought so before the election. The people of Salford have given hon. Gentlemen the answer. They have told the right hon. Gentleman who has brought forward these Resolutions, that in the unhappy and unfortunate course he has pursued on this question, he has neither the people of this country, nor the opinion of Parliament with him. Long ago he could have found out the opinion of this House, and got a verdict upon this deplorable agitation. The right hon. Gentleman, in the exercise of his discretion, did nothing whatever in the earlier stages of the difficulty; and it is only now when everything—persuasion, protest, Conference, and Protocol—has been exhausted, when war was begun and the worst passions of men were already aroused, that he thinks it the convenient moment to produce his five Resolutions; and with all due respect to him, I may be allowed to say that anything more ill-considered or impossible of fulfilment than these Resolutions cannot be very easily imagined. Four of those Resolutions have been withdrawn. ["No, no."] Well, then, three of them have been withdrawn. ["No, no."] Well, two of them have been withdrawn. ["No, no."] They were, at all events, to use the phrase of the right hon. Gentleman himself, morally, if not materially, withdrawn. ["No, no."] Well, then, let us suppose that they are all still on the Paper, and that being the case, so much the better, as the House wiil have an opportunity of dividing upon them. It will not be much more wonderful if they did than some of the proceedings they criticized on Monday night. I Would say a few words on the Resolutions, especially on the first, because in that, in my opinion, was really contained the principle of them all. What I understood the right hon. Gentleman to propose was this. We were to promote the concert of the European Powers, with a view to exact from the Porte certain changes of government in their own country—that was to say, we were to join with Russia and the other Powers if they consented to coerce Turkey, which meant armed intervention. I doubt very much whether the Powers would concert for that purpose. The despatches, I think with one exception, lead to a conclusion the opposite of this. The hon Member for Liskeard said that Austria was prepared to adopt such a course. I believe there is a despatch in which it is stated that Austria at one time made a sort of proposal to send the united fleets to the Bosphorus; but, so far as I can remember, the proposal was subsequently withdrawn. But there is another despatch to which I must call attention. It occurs in the Blue Book (No. 1, 1877), page 452. It is dated October 9, 1876, and is written by Mr. Malet to Lord Derby. It contains this passage— Signor Melegari told me that he had learnt with much satisfaction that Austro-Hungary had likewise refused to co-operate in the proposed intervention in the Turkish Provinces, for the presence of an Austrian occupying force in Bosnia would be a serious embarrassment to, Italy, and would arouse questions which are happily at present dormant. But, after all, if there was so much efficacy in the policy of coercion, why were we not told of it when the Session commenced? Why did the right hon. Member for Greenwich content himself with saying at Taunton that he wished to impress on the people the duty of watching Her Majesty's Government? Why did he not state frankly what was in his mind—that coercion, and coercion alone, was the policy they ought to pursue? War had not then begun, and there was a chance, at any rate, that the threat of coercion might have had the effect of maintaining the general peace. But now that that time has gone by, and as Turkey is in the midst of her trouble, it seems to me to be unfair, if not cowardly, to propose any such measure. What fair reasons can be assigned for the proposed change in the course of policy towards Turkey which has been followed by English statesmen for so many years? Surely the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich is not the man to ask them to do that. The right hon. Gentleman would not plead that the reason why they should take such a course was the long system of oppression on the part of Turkey; because, whatever might have been the faults of the Porte in this respect, they had been condoned by the right hon. Gentleman himself, whose Government solemnly renewed the Treaty of 1856 in the year 1871. Nor can it be founded on the absence of any disposition on the part of Turkey to fulfil her obligations after the Crimean War; because on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman's own Government it was stated, that in 1872, those obligations were being fairly fulfilled, and that, as a class, the Christian subjects of the Porte had no cause to complain. Therefore, it is to later events that we must look for the changes of policy, and I suppose that the reasons assigned would be the massacres of Bulgaria; and, if so, it is only right that we should know everything with reference to those massacres. Some people seemed to imagine that the Turks were entirely responsible for those massacres. But I believe that Russia has to bear her share of the guilt which has been showered—I own with so much justice—on Turkey. What do we find in the Blue Book? Despatch after despatch bears upon this point, and as this is a part of the question which has been somewhat overlooked, I hope the House will allow me to read one or two short extracts. I find, on the 27th of July, Mr. Dupuis, referring to the destruction of Peroushtiza, says— M. Gueroff, the Russian Consul of Philippopoli, now absent, is said to be the chief cause of this disaster."—[Turkey, No. 1. (1877), p. 14.] That is confirmed on the 11th of August by Sir Henry Elliot, who says, in a despatch to Lord Derby— A letter from Mr. Baring received yesterday contains these words:—'There is not the slightest doubt that the Russian Consul at Philippopoli had a leading part in creating the late insurrection.' "—[Ibid., p. 20.] It is said the insurrection was promoted not by Regular troops, but by the Bashi Bazouks, and the right hon. Member for Greenwich asks who employed the Bashi Bazouks. Here is an answer, though I admit not a complete and satisfactory answer. On the 12th of September Sir Henry Elliot wrote to Lord Derby— The Grand Vizier asserts that the person really responsible for the general arming of the Mahomedans was Mahmoud Pasha, who, acting under the influence of the Russian Ambassador, refused to send the troops applied for by the authorities."—[Ibid., p. 253.] I do say if we attentively study the causes of the insurrection, we can come to no other conclusion than that, if Turkey is guilty, Russia must bear her share of the blame. Shocking and horrible, therefore, as the massacres have been, they form no adequate reason for adopting a change in our traditional policy by joining with Russia in coercing Turkey for crimes for which Russia is partly herself responsible. I confess I fail to see bow the wants of humanity and justice are to be secured by coercion; nor do I see how one nation should, under the circumstances, be punished and the other allowed to go free. "My object," said the right hon. Gentleman, "is the peace of the world," and he would accomplish that object by armed intervention, and by bringing six instead of only two of the Powers into collision. The right hon. Gentleman has said that the Government have failed entirely, but I believe that they have tried everything which, humanly speaking, could have been tried, to prevent war; and the country which was responsible for it was Russia. If Russia ever wanted peace, peace we should have at this moment; but as she wanted war, a war is now being waged in Asia and in Europe, the limits of which no man can foresee. No Government, I think, has ever had a more difficult task to contend with, but its difficulties and complications were in a ten-fold degree intensified by the course which was pursued by the right hon. Gentleman in the Autumn. I do not complain of that great outburst of natural sympathy, so far as it reflects the generous action of the English nation. I saw nothing in it but what every Englishman might be justly proud; but if these are the last words which I may utter in this House, I did denounce, and will continue to denounce, those who, at a risk of inciting a war which might lead to a general conflagration of Europe, to the prejudice of any arrangement of peace which might have been made, did not scruple to use for political ends, the best feelings of our nature, the generous, noble instincts of the English people. Can there be anyone who does not feel that upon the leaders of that movement, who had made such a series of attacks upon the Government, a large share of responsibility for the present un-unhappy position in which Europe is now placed rests? I ask, would the armies of Russia have been moved, but for the speeches, writings, meetings, and pamphlets of the right hon. Gentleman, misrepresenting as they did the feelings and opinions of the people of England? And then there was the pamphlet which has been so often referred to, which some have called "famous," and which was translated and published among the Russian people. With all these things the question which I have asked might well be asked; but I should be sorry to answer it were I in the place of the right hon. Member for Greenwich. God forbid that I should impute to the right hon. Gentleman aught but the best and highest motives. I would scorn to do so of a man who, however much I might disagree with him on political grounds, is an honour to his country. The right hon. Gentleman made an appeal to this House on Monday which wrung from foes as well as friends a tribute of enthusiastic admiration, not only for its eloquence and power, but also for the unmistakeable convictions and sympathies by which it was inspired. But why did the right hon. Gentleman not allow to those on this side of the House a small portion, at any rate, of those feelings which they as much honoured as himself. For myself, I would say—"Give to the Porte a further time of trial and probation for the execution of the reforms which she promised under the watchful vigilance of the Powers, but free from the ever-pressing curse of unscrupulous interference." I know the right hon. Gentleman disagrees with me and I will not venture for a moment to put my opinion against that of the right hon. Gentleman; but I will quote an opinion, the weight and authority of which the right hon. Gentleman will be the first to recognize. What said the man of iron will, to whose ability and experience the right hon. Gentleman testified with so much eloquence on Monday?— Give them (the reforms) a fair trial and they may turn out to be a reality, and in that case perhaps the better for wearing the semblance of a voluntary act. Should they prove a failure the pressure might surely be renewed with a better show of reason and a better prospect of success. Those were the words of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, a man who was par excellence the greatest authority upon the Eastern Question; and, in the face of that opinion, has the right hon. Gentleman nothing better to offer than the cruel and bitter charges he has made against Gentlemen on this side, because, with one common object, our policy is different from his? I am grateful to the House for the kindness with which they have heard me, and I will detain them only a very few minutes longer. I cannot help feeling that it is too late now to undo or recall the past; we have only to deal with the present and the future. What is the duty of England in the present crisis? is the question on every lip, and which we have to decide. I believe that duty to be this—to maintain a strict and severe neutrality, to minimize and limit as far as may be the area of the war, to seek the earliest opportunity of restoring peace, and to abstain from all and every interference as long as the interests of Britain permit. But neither the ridicule which has been so unkindly cast upon us, nor taunts nor sneers about British selfishness shall tempt me to forget, even though others may not remember, what those interests at this time really mean. They mean the welfare, the happiness of 200,000,000 subjects of the Queen. If it were selfishness to govern, for their good, races dependent upon us by the civilizing progress of the West, to foster and develop material happiness and prosperity in the East, to give the people there equal laws, to mete out even-handed justice—if that be nought but selfishness, if the Government and the House of Commons, and the self-sacrificing efforts of the servants of the Queen to rescue from the pangs of famine and from agonizing death the starving millions of our people, then I, for one, am content to accept the charge, and say that a higher duty, a nobler task no Minister or Statesman could desire than to guard and defend such interests as those. Our duty in addition is to watch and wait in readiness and armed preparation with this fixed, steady purpose in our minds—that Russia shall never set foot in Constantinople while we have a man or a gun to prevent it; that our highway to India shall be kept free and open to us for ever, if our ships have to sweep the Mediterranean to effect it. It is for the Government to decide what measures and preparations it may be for them to take for that purpose. I would remind them, however, of a pregnant sentence or two assigned to Lord Dalhousie, who presided over the Royal Commission of 1866— Recent events, however, have taught us that we must not rely in future on having time for preparation. Wars will be sudden in their commencement and short in their duration, and woe to that country which is not prepared to defend itself against any contingency that may arise, or combination that may be formed against it. I would ask the question — "Are we prepared at this moment?" I trust that before long we shall be told by those who are responsible that the position of this country will be one of armed and complete preparation, as well as of strict neutrality. It is by these considerations that the policy of England must be guided at the present crisis — not in haste, not in panic, not in hurry; but with the firm, unalterable determination which becomes us as Englishmen and Members of the British House of Commons, that by that standard of our interests, of our duties, and our rights, we as a nation will either stand or fall.


Mr. Speaker,—If I may be allowed to select out of the numerous speeches to which I have attentively listened, that which most nearly expresses my own views as to the Eastern Question, I should select the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), because it was founded on his own recent experience in the East, and it thoroughly comprehends all that I have thought and have often expressed as to Turkish rule in Europe, of which I have had a personal knowledge for more than 30 years. I speak, however, only for myself; I have no authority to represent the views of any of my Parliamentary Colleagues: indeed, as a body we have no collective views on this subject, but I will claim to represent the feelings of my own constituents. The county of Galway has always supported the cause of the oppressed Christians of the East, never with so much power and effect as when it was represented by my late Colleague, Sir William Gregory, whose speeches in 1860 on the atrocities in Crete riveted the attention of the country not more by their generosity and their truth than by the classic beauty of the language in which he clothed them. But, Mr. Speaker, I will go even further, and boldly claim on behalf of the people of Ireland that it is a calumny to assert, as some do, that they care nothing for the sufferings of the Eastern Christians because they are not of their own faith; and if anyone had the hardihood to appear on a platform in Ireland to maintain that because Russia has oppressed the Roman Catholic Poles, or because she now grievously oppresses the unhappy Catholics in her Empire, that therefore we are to maintain the hated rule of the Turk, and to assist him to keep in misery and subjection those who, like ourselves, find rest for their souls under the shadow of the Cross, I venture to say he would be driven away with execration. The Irish people sympathize with human suffering wherever it is to be found. They, Sir, have learned from their own unhappy history to keep ever fresh in their hearts, and often on their lips, that beautiful and pathetic prayer in which we call upon the common Father of all mankind, "to show pity upon all prisoners and captives, and upon all who are desolate and oppressed." But it has been asked—Why was Ireland silent during the Autumn, when England and Scotland were agitated from one end to the other by the Bulgarian atrocities? The answer is not difficult to find. The Irish people disbelieve in the sincerity of Parties on either side of this House, and remembering their own experience, doubt the genuiness of the cry of humanity which coincides with the cry of a political combination. They know from the testimony of their own fathers, and from the despatches of Lord Cornwallis during the Irish Rebellion, that rapine and flame, lust and murder, everywhere accompanied the march of His Majesty's troops, till their very commander cried out in shame and anger to the Government of the day. They remember the putting down of the Indian Mutiny, when men were blown from guns, and their limbs scattered to the winds of Heaven, because, in pursuance of a policy which seemed to have been born of Hell, advantage was taken of the belief of these Hindoos that in such a mode of death they lost both soul and body. An hon. Gentleman exclaims that it was a common Indian punishment. Will he contend that if we go to Corea, we are to adopt crucifixion as a punishment, because it is common there? Nor do the Irish forget that during the Jamaica insurrection it was thought a notable and praiseworthy discovery that excellent and enduring cats could be made of piano wire. Turning now to the present debate, I must say that nothing has filled me with more sorrow than the tone of half the speeches that have been delivered—speeches that may fittingly be described as recriminatory speeches. Hon. and right gon. Gentlemen, on one side or time other, seem to think more of taunting each other than of the greatness of the subject, or of the many and momentous interests involved. Why, say the Government supporters to this side, did you not do so and so when you were so long in office? Why, answers the Opposition, did you so word such a despatch? Why did you neglect such and such a recent opportunity? I am weary utterly of hearing of Treaties and despatches. "A plague on both your Houses." All your Governments are in fault; the House of Commons is in fault; the country is in fault; and, like great national faults, the stain will not be wiped out without bitter retribution. We stand on this subject of Turkish oppression in the same position as the United States stood as regards slavery. For long years the Northern States, knowing the evil, deploring the sin, forbidden as it was by their own Constitution, connived at slavery, sacrificed their most cherished convictions, all for the sake of the almighty dollar, and for au ignoble peace. But at last the time came when the patience of the nation was exhausted, and at the Convention of Leavenworth the people said—Thus far, and no further. Then was raised the dreadful veil that concealed the Civil War, and, through untold suffering, the United States set free the slave, and paid the penalty of its sin. So—God grant it may be without the suffering—must it be with us. The massacres of Bulgaria have filled the cup of endurance to overflowing, and the knell of Turkish tyranny at last has sounded. But you, the Conservative Party, during the American War, acted exactly the part you are acting now. Your cry then, as now, was for British interests, and you thought that the break-up of the great American Republic was to serve the cause of British interests—let slavery continue for ever, so that the States be rent in twain. And now British interests demand the integrity of the Turkish Empire, let Christian peoples be kept for ever in bondage more galling, in a tyranny more appalling, in abominations unequalled except in the descriptions and denunciations of St. Paul. And how has your boasted diplomacy served you?—that diplomacy which no man can depend upon, and which never tells the truth, as I will proceed to show. In 1868 we had the Cretan debates, and, as usual, Lord Stanley, then a Member of this House, minimizes and denies. In July, 1869, the present Baron Dowse asked how the Sultan was fulfilling his solemn promises to the Christians, and Mr. Otway, then Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, answered "most satisfactorily." In April of next year Sir David Wedderburn inquired about the unhappy people of the Sporades Islands, and again Mr. Otway answers, "the Turkish Government is removing all real grounds of complaint, and any dissatisfaction and disturbances are all owing to people in London," just as now Christian risings are owing to people in St. Petersburg. In July of the next year Sir John Gray—and I am glad that it is Irish Members who have always interfered—repeated the inquiry; and Viscount Enfield, who had succeeded to the office and to the traditions of our foreign policy, again gave the stereotyped reply. Next year, on the 5th August, 1872, Sir John Gray—and. I will quote the exact words—inquired of Viscount Enfield— If he would inform the House whether the authorities of the Ottoman Porte are giving effect to the provisions contained in various edicts issued by the Sultan of Turkey during recent years in favour of his Christian subjects? Let the House listen to Viscount Enfield's reply— Sir, the latest report received from Constantinople, received two days ago, states that, as a general rule, the edicts in favour of the Christians are fairly carried into effect, and that as a class they have no reason for complaint."—[3 Hansard, ccxiii. 454.] And it is just the same now—the Foreign Office is the last to hear, the Bri- tish Consuls who have been so long in the East that they have ceased to look son things with English eyes, are the last to understand that anything is wrong; and if it had not been for the enterprize of the Press, and the daring of the newspaper correspondents, all the horrors denied so long by officials would have been kept back from the people of this country. But if we would understand the ins and the outs of this question, we must carefully distinguish between the official Turk and the lower classes of Moslems, and it must not be supposed that the Christians alone were oppressed. On the contrary, nothing can be worse than the condition of the villagers both in Turkey and in Egypt. Amongst the lower Mussulmans you will often find fidelity, truth, hospitality, a sense of justice, as well as the sobriety and resignation which their religion teaches them. But for the anti-human type you must go to the man who farms the taxes, or to the Turk who has graduated in the saloons of London or of Paris, and who, with a splendid forgetfulness of the Koran, has contracted a taste for the good things and the champagne of the West. Let me read to the House a few lines describing the character of the Turkish Government— Wherever the Turk is suffered to predominate and to be implicitly obeyed, laziness, corruption, extravagance, and penury mark his rule; and wherever he is too feeble to exert more than a doubtful and a nominal authority, the system of Government that prevails is that of the Arab robber and the lawless Highland chieftain. These were the words, not of some novelist or fanciful writer, they were the words of your own Ambassador, Sir Henry Bulwer, in 1860. Lord Dalling, as he afterwards became, knew the official Moslem well; and it is related of him that when he once went to Cairo to observe for himself as to whether slaves were still bought and sold, he quietly got his information, and, accepting in the politest way all the official assurances given to him, put on his cloak one evening, and, attended by two or three Kavasses, walked straight up to the house where he knew the sale was going on as briskly as ever. And I have more than once told the Government in this House that if it will even now bid its Consul use his eyes, he will find cargoes of slaves on the Nile, not far from Cairo, passing under the noses of the Provincial Gover- nors, notwithstanding all the assurances of the Foreign Office. This I mention in passing as an illustration of the worthlessness of our diplomatic system—none so blind as those who will not see. It is not through our diplomatic Staff that we know what has passed and is passing in the East. It is, I repeat, the newspaper correspondents—those brave and fearless men who have not feared to tell the truth—that have aroused the English people, and at last have extorted from unwilling officials a confirmation of the hideous tales of massacre and outrage. But, Sir, we are now brought face to face with this terrible Eastern Question, to settle it, I hope, for ever. On the one hand we leave 3,000,000 of Mussulmans keeping in bondage 11,500,000 Christians, and who, if the Christian nations had been united, would have been liberated long ago. The Turk invariably yields to what he calls his Kismet or Fate; he has a tradition that he is not to remain in Europe, in which he is a lawless intruder, of which there can be no better proof than that all Constantinople Turks bury their dead in Asia, lest the hated foot of the Giaour should one day tread upon their graves. Suppose we reverse the picture; would 11,500,000 Mahomedans, who really do believe in their religion, have suffered 3,000,000 Christians to hold them in this abject subjection? And do you think that the Turk credits you with believing in your own religion? No—to him you are an unbelieving dog—he despises the Christian in his heart, he tolerates him when it is not worth while to crush him, and when Englishmen and Members of Parliament go to Constantinople and accept the cajoleries and the delicate hospitalities of some astute Pasha, and come back here to sound the praises of the civilized Turk, they only deepen the contempt and scorn which the Mussulman entertains for the Christian race. It is a false issue to put it as it has been put in this debate, that to hate Turkish tyranny is to love Russian oppression. It is no question between Russia and Turkey—it is the question between justice and mercy and foul wrong and oppression; between a Christianity which, imperfect as it may be, yet contains within it that element of moral development and of social progress which appertains to every believer in Christ, but is impossible in the ortho- dox Mahomedan. The noble Lord (Lord Eslington) told us the other day that we ought to be tender with the Turk when he does not admit Christian testimony against a Mussulman, because the Koran forbids it. Why, Sir, that is the very reason why we must get rid of the Turk. So long as he is an orthodox believer, it is impossible for him to do justice to the Christian; and this is, in truth, the secret of your diplomatic failures. Then we are told that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) has discovered a new policy. It is no such thing. In 1865, the right hon. Gentleman said in the debate— A great object of European policy is to prevent the extension of the Russian power in the direction of Constantinople; and this, I believe, is his doctrine now. [Mr. GLADSTONE made a gesture of assent.]— The best resistance (continued the right hon Member in the same speech) to be offered to Russia is by the strength and freedom of the countries which will have to resist her. You want to place a living barrier between Russia and Turkey, and there is no barrier like the breasts of free men. These, Sir, are noble sentiments, and for my part I elect to stand on them. The European Powers will never allow the extension of Russian acquisition south of the Danube, or permit to her the possession of Constantinople; but that we Christian men should connive at these hideous wrongs, on some fanciful speculation that Russia may one day possess the Danubian Principalities—a thing incredible so long as Austria, Hungary, and Germany continue to exist—is, to my mind, altogether inexplicable. But, then, we are told, there is the Euphrates Valley and English interests in the East. Who, let me ask, is wise enough to tell us what are English interests in the East? Has the House forgotten the history of the Suez Canal? The greatest statesman of modern times, the most experienced Foreign Secretary, the most skilful diplomatist, from first to last opposed the making of the Suez Canal, because, in his opinion, it would be contrary to British interests. Yet, if he had lived, Lord Palmerston would leave learned that the existence of the Suez Canal has immeasurably served the cause of British interests, and of British Eastern power. A railway through the valley of the Euphrates would be an enormous blessing to mankind, even if it is made by Russia—a prospect distant indeed. There is no injury Russia can do to us so great as we can do to surselves when we desert the principles of our forefathers, and refuse to recognize the voice of humanity in our dealings with our co-religionists in the East of Europe. We may lose our own self-respect in idle panic; we may lose the respect of the World, and the affection of those races that will yet be free; but if there is a repetition of the massacres and crimes of the Autumn, and the Conservative Party adopts the tone and the semi-indifference of the past—the Government, with all its majority, will be swept away by the awakened anger of the subjects of the Queen, and no other will be able to stand in its place that fails to remember that the watchword of a Christian people should be "do justice and fear not."


was desirous of giving some explanation of the part he had taken at the meeting held in the Guildhall last Autumn, and of the course he intended to adopt in reference to the question now before the House. All England was thrilled with horror at the terrible events which had happened in Bulgaria, and the City of London was among the foremost to express its opinion on the subject at the great meeting to which he had referred. Resolutions were unanimously adopted on that occasion which were subsequently presented to Lord Derby, and these three points were especially insisted upon—first, an expression of horror at the atrocities perpetrated in Bulgaria, and of sympathy with the suffering Christians of European Turkey; second, an expression of utter despair of any amendment on the part of the Turkish Government in its course of misrule; and the third was an appeal to Her Majesty's Government to use such means and influence as they possessed, in concurrence with the other Great Powers of Europe, to bring about not only an immediate amendment in the government of Turkey, but to obtain securities for the future. He need not comment upon the course of policy which had been pursued from that day to this, or on the many remarkable events which had signalized the policy of this country during the last 18 months. He would, however, state his belief that the expression of feeling which had proceeded from the citizens of London was shared by the whole country and by the Members of Her Majesty's Government. One unfortunate feature of the controversy which ensued was that so much personal feeling had been mixed up in the matter, and so many unfounded charges made in reference to the conduct of public men who ought to have been far above suspicion. As to the course which, in his opinion, should have been pursued in dealing with Turkey during the progress of the negotiations on the Eastern Question, he maintained that if the 9th Article of the Treaty of Paris, which insured the territorial integrity and independence of the Porte, was to be regarded as involving a perpetual obligation, anything like effective intervention on the part of the Great Powers in favour of the Christians was out of the question. The Turks were too astute not to see what effect that Article must have in Europe, and therefore they never gave heed to anything in the shape of moral persuasion. If, too, it was laid down that remonstrance on their behalf was in no event to be followed by coercion, our dealings with the Government of Turkey must in the same way be deprived of the slightest efficacy. If, however, a remonstrance had been made to the Porte, undiluted and unqualified by any declaration of doubt as to the mode in which it was to be enforced, the Turks, he believed, must have submitted to the pressure, seeing that the disparity of strength between them and the Great Powers was so enormous. Suppose it were said that by taking that firm course they would have been in danger of coming into actual collision, his answer would be that it would be impossible to adopt any policy without running that risk. But why should there be such a morbid feeling against taking a bold course, because of the risk of collision, when the country had a great Army and a great Navy? War implied a sacrifice of blood and of treasure, and this country had never refused to shed and expend them in the cause of humanity. The country would not shrink from war if the cause was one that she could engage in as a duty. There were now certain propositions before the House, and he must state that the feelings which he entertained at Guildhall, and when he went as one of the deputation to Lord Derby, were exactly expressed in the first two Resolutions of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich. He could not, however, vote in favour of those Resolutions, because his right hon. Friend, who was instinct with so generous a feeling on behalf of suffering humanity, made in the course of his forcible speech so serious an impeachment of the Government that, differing absolutely from him in his view of their conduct, he thought it Would be wrong of him to give his assent to the Resolutions as the outcome of that speech. Still less did he find himself able to concur in the Motion of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff); and therefore, without retreating in the least from any of the opinions which he had expressed, he felt it to be his duty to abstain from supporting by his vote any of the Resolutions now before the House. He wished, in conclusion, to observe that he deeply regretted the imputation of unworthy motives which, in dealing with this question, pervaded too often the speeches of even eminent public men.


claimed the indulgence of the House in rising to speak upon the question, inasmuch as he had in connection with it refused office some 20 years ago. It seemed to him, he might add, that apart from the wording of the Resolutions of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, there were two great and paramount objects which he had in view in proposing them—the first being, by means of an appeal to the House and the country, to frustrate the efforts of those who were endeavouring to get up a Russian scare in order to drift us into war. In addition to this, his right hon. Friend, being challenged to say what he wanted, laid down in his third and fourth Resolutions the outline of a broad, wise, and generous national policy. Yet, while he heartily concurred in that policy, he thought its assertion was of less importance at the present moment than the prevention of a Russian scare which might drift us into war. If that policy could have been adopted by the House, or by the country at an earlier period—if at the time Lord Salis- bury was at Constantinople and the Conference was still sitting such a line had been followed—he believed that all the horrors of war might have been averted and that a great and beneficent end might have been attained. At the same time, hostilities having now broken out, he must admit that it was open to considerable question whether it would be wise for the House to lay down any abstract Resolutions of policy for the future—to lay down any Resolutions which, under the varying conditions of military events, might not prove altogether applicable. There were some Members of the Opposition who objected to a policy of coercion as being likely to lead to war, and as the persistence of his right hon. Friend might have led to great divisions on that side of the House and neutralized the effect of the first two Resolutions, the wise and patriotic course had been adopted of sacrificing the minor to the major object, and the result was that the Liberal Party would go to a united vote on the question. There could be no doubt that there were a great many persons who, in their hearts, really desired that England should take part in a war with Turkey against Russia. It was evident, also, that that was the general tone of what was called West-end opinion on the subject. One could scarcely go to a club or to a West-end dinner party without finding that three men out of every four were so blinded with antipathy to Russia that they were incapable of calmly reasoning on the question, and evidently had no wish except to see a repetition of the conflict in the Crimea. But what about West-end opinion on other matters? What about the opinion of the West-end of London during the war with America? Would not that opinion, had it been acted upon, have involved this country in a war in support of the Southern slaveholders as against the Northern States? Again, was not West-end opinion strongly adverse to the formation of the great German Empire; and had the establishment of that Empire proved prejudicial to British interests? Was it not, on the contrary, one of the greatest safeguards in connection with those interests? The same might be said with respect to Italy. West-end opinion had been entirely opposed to a free and independent Italian Kingdom; but such a Kingdom now existed, and could any person doubt that it was best for English interests that there should be a free and independent Italy? On all these questions events had proved that West-end opinion had been entirely wrong. At the time of the Crimean War there were reasonable grounds of apprehension of Russia. Germany was not then an united Empire; Austria had just been rescued from ruin by a Russian Army. France, Russia, and England were the only three Great Powers who were able to move in the Eastern Question; and if we had refused the invitation of France, it was possible that Russia might have been strong enough to take Constantinople. Now the conditions of the problem were changed. The preponderance of military force was on the side of Germany and Austria, and it would be as difficult for Russia to go to Constantinople without their leave as for her to go to Vienna or Berlin. Germany and Austria might also be left to take care of the mouths of the Danube. But then we were told that we must look at Asia. Now, he had heard the question of a Russian invasion of India discussed on the spot by men of great military knowledge and experience. He would first remind the House of the opinion of Lord Hardinge, a great warrior as well as a statesman, who, in 1847, being asked to give his views to the Government of that day, said that India could only be approached by Russia through Afghanistan and the Khyber Pass. Such an invasion was, however, for military reasons, impracticable, or, if it were attempted, a Russian Army could be met by a superior force. "As to a Russian invasion of India," said Lord Hardinge, "depend upon it, it is a political nightmare." That despatch was referred to a still higher authority, and the Duke of Wellington said —"Lord Hardinge is quite right. Rely upon it you have nothing to apprehend from Russia in that quarter." Since that time our position in India with regard to a Russian invasion had been enormously strengthened. The Sikh State and Scinde were then hostile. Afghanistan was also opposed to us in consequence of the unwise invasion into which we were hurried by a Russian scare exactly identical with that which so many people were trying to get up at the present time. We had now the Punjaub, the Sikh State, and Scinde, which, so far from being hostile, now formed the strongest bulwark against a Russian invasion that we could possibly possess. Then as regarded Afghanistan, as long as we pursued the sensible policy of Lord Canning and Lord Lawrence—which had been observed for some years past—of keeping out of all complications with that country, and letting its people know that we had no desire to interfere with their independence—what had we to apprehend from them? If Afghanistan was invaded by a Russian force with a view to a subsequent attack upon India, the Afghans must gravitate to our side, for they would know that the Russians would never withdraw from their territory. Unless, therefore, we were going to adopt an entirely new policy we had nothing to fear from Afghanistan. The cure, in short, he would suggest for those who were afflicted with Russia on the brain was a course of physical geography. If those who held such alarmists views upon the subject were only to take such a lesson as is ordinarily given to a child in a National School, they would learn that there was such a range as the Himalaya mountains, the lowest pass of which was higher than the top of Mont Blanc, which barred the way to India, leaving but one road open by the Valley of the Emphrates, which terminated in the cul-de-sac of the Persian Gulf, where one British ironclad could stop the legions of Russia. And what, he would ask, was the amount of impedimenta with which a Russian Army of Invasion must necessarily be encumbered? Why, for every fighting man sent to the front there would, according to careful calculation, be required two camels, and one horse and a half. An army of 50,000 Russians would require 100,000 camels, 75,000 horses, and in addition to that, they should have 500,000 camp followers. Why, then, were we to get up a scare on the subject of a Russian invasion of India, which would cost us millions of money? It was the most ridiculous conception which could enter the mind of man—to use the words of Lord Hardinge, it was a political nightmare. He had never, whatever his own private sympathies might have been, swerved from the policy of non-intervention, nor would he do so now but for the Bulgarian atrocities, for which he considered that England was morally responsible, though he did not advocate a policy of Quixotism for the redress of grievances all the world over. It had been said that Russia had been guilty of atrocities in Poland; but if that were so, we were not in any sense responsible for them. If, however, they considered the case of the Christian subjects of the Porte they could not but see that England was morally responsible for what had occurred, having, among other things, set Turkey up as the result of the Crimean War. The Bulgarian massacres drew the attention of this country to what Turkish misrule really meant, and marked an era in the Eastern Question. There were two theories which had been held in regard to Turkey—the one, the old tradition of the English Foreign Office which excluded all mention of Turkish misdeeds. On the other hand, we had the theory of travellers, newspaper correspondents, missionaries, and others who visited the country, all of whom concurred in stating that the Christian inhabitants were subjected to a grinding misgovernment which no man could tolerate for a moment when he saw the slightest means of getting out of it. In the case of the Bulgarian atrocities they had Mr. Schuyler and The Daily News Correspondent maintaining that awful atrocities had been committed; and they had Sir Henry Elliot and the English officials generally ignoring them as long as it was possible to do so. A crucial experiment was made by the sending of Mr. Baring—a witness of whose impartiality there could be no doubt, and the result of his Report was that the Foreign Office and official theory was exploded, and the theory as to the existence of oppression and the committal of atrocities established, and if there were the slightest desire on the part of Turkey to put a stop to that state of things, why, he asked, had not the known authors of the atrocities been brought to justice? It was impossible to rely upon Turkey doing anything in order to reform her institutions and her internal administration, and he could not understand this country standing by and approving a do-nothing policy of the kind. If he believed in the existence of the aggressive designs attributed to Russia, he should be the last man to advocate the staking of England's fortunes upon a losing card; but he had no such belief. The Turkish cause was on the ebb. The Turks did not even keep up their population; they had no trade, nor did they till the soil. As far as he knew, no Turk ever made a competent fortune by honest industry; whereas the Christian subjects of the Porte had, wherever they were not absolutely exterminated by the dominant race, increased trade, tilled the soil, educated their children, and promoted the best interests of the human race. Therefore, by taking up the cause of the Turks England would be lending herself not only to a bad, but to a losing cause, which, if patched up now, would rise again in the course of a few years, and at a time when its settlement on a satisfactory basis would not be nearly as easy as at the present time. At present Germany and Austria were united in the same great interests as ourselves; whereas if the difficulty were now patched up, who could say that France, having recovered her military power, might not enter into a league with Russia to allow her to do as she liked at Constantinople, in return for aid to recover Alsace and Lorraine? The effect of our present policy of doing nothing to settle the Eastern Question might result, therefore, in our being obliged to see Russia do as she liked in the East, or in our being obliged to engage single-handed in one of the greatest European wars the world had ever seen. As to the distrust and antipathy to Russia now so commonly expressed, if they compared the conduct of Russia throughout the negotiations with that of Turkey, he thought it impossible to avoid coming to the conclusion that so far from Russia having determined upon war from the commencement, there never had been a moment at which Turkey might not, by simply choosing to say yes to the minimized demands of her antagonist, have averted the war. Turkey had made no concessions, nor, indeed, had she taken any steps to promote European peace; whereas Russia had, among other things, emancipated her serfs—one of the grandest measures in the advancement of progress that the world had ever seen. In fact, there was no point of comparison between Russia and Turkey in which the former was not infinitely superior. Much stress had been laid upon the encouragement which the agitation in this country had given to Russia; but he asked if no encouragement had been given to Turkey by the Aylesbury and Mansion House speeches of Lord Beaconsfield. He agreed with Lord Carnarvon that a policy of suspicion against Russia was ungenerous and hateful, and the sooner we got rid of our Russian scare the better it would be for our interests and our future tranquillity. In conclusion, he implored hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider the great responsibility which would devolve upon them if, for the sake of a little temporary advantage, they precipitated a conflict which would entail such terrible consequences on future generations.


considered that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, by speaking upon his Resolutions as a whole, had in spirit violated the arrangement which had been made for the purpose of uniting the Liberal Party. The country would not separate the right hon. Gentleman's speech from his Resolutions, but would understand that those who supported his first Resolution practically committed themselves to the spirit of the whole of them; and while those who voted against it would be regarded as in favour of maintaining neutrality and peace, those who supported it would be considered to have voted for the coercion of Turkey. He thought the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich was worse than that originally contemplated, because he now declined to take the responsibility of moving a Resolution which, if it pointed to anything, pointed to coercion. Hon. Gentlemen opposite told the House that the country had expressed its opinion in favour of these Resolutions. He entirely repudiated the notion that any such expression of opinion had occurred. Meetings that were called by telegram sent from the Liberal Association in London did not express the opinion of the people of this country. He had recently seen a poster in certain parts of London calling a meeting at St. James's Hall, and headed with three alarming words—"War, war, war!" He wondered whether the gentlemen who attended that meeting went to it under the notion that by attending and making speeches they were practically preaching war instead of assisting to prevent the Government from going to war. The recent meetings were of a very different character from those which were held in the Autumn, and with regard to which he heartily agreed with the Home Secretary, in accepting them as, on the whole, a genuine expression of the feeling of the country. He should have been ashamed of his country if it had not protested against the atrocities in Turkey. He was astonished at an expression of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich when moving these Resolutions. Nothing should ever be said lightly in that House. Whatever was said by the right hon. Gentleman in that House went forth to the country with enormous weight. He was astonished that the right hon. Gentleman should court popularity by endeavouring to set class against class. The right hon. Gentleman attempted to make out that on this point the West-end of London was an opponent of the Christian cause. He (Mr. Ritchie) denied that there was the slightest foundation for such an assertion. ["Oh!"] He challenged any hon. Member to give even the shade of a proof that such a feeling existed. He maintained, on the contrary, that the West-end of London was a friend of the Christian cause and of every good cause. He (Mr. Ritchie) believed the Bulgarian atrocities, and the misgovernment and the oppression of Turkey, were as much detested by those who sat on his side of the House as they were by hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition benches; but he could not help expressing regret that such strong and vigorous denunciations of those outrages and cruelties as those of the Home Secretary had not been heard more frequently from the Ministerial side of the House. For himself, he had not the slightest sympathy with the Turkish Government, whose Christian and Mohamedan subjects alike had been oppressed to a degree which even yet we failed fully to understand. The Turkish Provinces had in the oppression to which they had been subjected sufficient justification for their insurrection to render any inquiry as to the existence of Russian intrigue unnecessary; but while he and those who sat on the Conservative side of the House entertained the greatest sympathy for the downtrodden subjects of the Porte, and were ready by all peaceful means to endeavour to obtain for them better government, until their increased intelligence and strength enabled them to secure self-government, they protested against the means which it was the unmistakeable object of the Party opposite to adopt—namely, to go into the field side by side with Russia to coerce Turkey. He was aware that Turkey had broken her promises, and he was quite ready to admit that this country was to blame for having allowed those promises to remain so long unfulfilled. We undertook a peculiar responsibility in that matter after the Crimean War; but as for the greater part of the time which had since elapsed hon. Gentlemen opposite had been in power, and they were themselves chiefly answerable for what had happened. But though Turkey's promises in the past had been thus unfulfilled, they need not despair that she would show herself determined—now that the eyes of Europe were upon her—to carry out a different policy in the future, if her request for a little more time and a fair chance were granted her. In 1863, when Russia was remonstrated with on account of her oppression of the Poles, she replied that the restoration of order was the first condition of the establishment of an improved administration. Well, Turkey might say the same thing. With insurrection in her Provinces and an immense foreign army on her frontier, it was impossible for her, however sincerely desirous of doing so, to carry out effectual reforms. Hon. Gentlemen opposite wanted to apply coercion to Turkey by means of European concert, yet there was no evidence to show—but quite the contrary—that France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, would join in any such action. There was, moreover, the greatest possible danger in joint occupation, as was illustrated by the case of Schleswig-Holstein. Prussia and Austria had together occupied those Duchies, not for their own aggrandizement, but to execute the will of Germany; and what happened? The Duchies were annexed to Prussia; Austria and Prussia quarrelled and went to war with each other; and that transaction, he feared, was the beginning of the enormous amount of bloodshed which had since been witnessed in Europe. In the present case it was extremely probable that a joint occupation of the Turkish Provinces would be followed by similar quarrels between the occupying Powers themselves. There was a revolt in Poland with regard to the misgovernment of Russia, the insurrection was suppressed with the greatest amount of of cruelty, and Treaties were violated and set aside. In 1863 Lord Russell wrote that Russia had duties towards other nations with regard to Poland, and that the condition of things which had for so long existed in Poland was a source of danger not only to Russia, but to the whole of Europe. That was the precise language now used towards Turkey. At that time there was no suspicion of coercion breathed; and Lord Russell declared in the House of Lords that it was very often expedient to make representations to foreign Governments about their affairs without being prepared to push the controversy to the extremity of war. For himself, he did not believe that Russia was sincere in her present efforts on behalf of the Turkish Christians, because, though long before the insurrection broke out her Ambassador possessed a powerful influence at Constantinople, he had never exercised any of it to obtain better government for the Christian subjects of the Porte. Again, in all the recent negotiations, though Russia had affected great moderation, she had accompanied every proposal by a menace which rendered it absolutely impossible for Turkey to assent to it. The Berlin Memorandum was accompanied by a virtual threat of foreign occupation. Then there was the armistice. After Turkey had agreed to it, Russia thought fit to send an ultimatum. Was that anything like making peaceful advances? Again, when the Conference seemed about to lead to a peaceful settlement, what did Russia do? She mobilized the whole of her Army. Lastly, the Protocol was brought out as an instrument of peace; but lest it should do any good it was accompanied by an insolent Memorandum from Russia which rendered it impossible for Turkey to give way. Such proceedings would have been exasperating to any people; with the fanatical population of Turkey their effect was to render any peaceful arrangement out of the question. He believed Russia never meant peace from first to last. How strange it was to hear her spoken of as the Apostle of toleration! He would not speak of Poland or Turkestan; but certainly our experience of Russia was not calculated to recommend her as the friend of oppressed nationalities, or the advocate of religious freedom. He remembered reading an account of an open - air meeting of students in St. Petersburg, demanding from Russia a Constitution similar to that which Turkey had given to her people. Eighteen persons were looking on and clapping their hands — 14 men and four women—and Russia sentenced these 18 persons to a punishment varying from two years' imprisonment to 15 years in Siberia. The hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) had spoken of the millions of Greeks in Turkey. Now, he had come a good deal into contact with Greeks in Turkey, and, bad as the Government in Turkey was, and bad as the despotism of Turkey was, they would ten thousand times rather come under the yoke of Turkey than under the yoke of Russia. A Greek had said to him—"The yoke of Turkey is made of wood, but the yoke of Russia is made of iron." He trusted we should never spend another penny or shed another drop of blood in support of Turkey; but there were interests which we were bound to maintain. He hoped these interests would not be attacked; but, if they were, we must be prepared at whatever cost to defend them. In that respect he believed Her Majesty's Government were acting in accordance with the views of the vast majority of the people of this country. For his own part, however, he had no fear of Russia invading India by the valley of the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf, and he thought that before she did, we should be able to give a pretty good account of her. He did not apprehend that our interests were threatened by any approach of Russia in that quarter. With regard to the Resolutions, he could not consider the first as separate from the others. He must take them together, and, inviting us to go to war for the purpose of coercing Turkey as they did, he should certainly vote against the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, and support the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff).


said, he rose to support views which had received very little support during the course of this debate. Those who had listened to the debate from the beginning would admit that there was something like a restless feeling in favour of intervention in the Eastern Question on both sides of the House. The Resolutions before the House were an indication that many Members of the Opposition were in favour of acting against Turkey, and the speeches that had been made on the other side of the House gave evidence that there were many Members who, in certain circumstances, would not object to act against Russia. In the midst of all this conflict of opinion he adhered to the view which he had long held in regard to foreign affairs. He was in favour of the rule- of non-intervention in the disputes and wars of other countries. He did not see why they should hold such views generally, and then when a critical case arose, in which its application was of special importance and of great advantage to the country, that the principle should be dropped. He listened with pleasure and received instruction from the speech of the hon. Member for the Orkney Islands (Mr. Laing). There was one thing he was struck with in the course of his remarks. He told the House that he was not a sentimental politician, and that though he had had his sympathies during the progress of wars and territorial changes that had occurred during his life, he had been in favour of non-intervention. But he added that in this particular case he was in favour of intervention. He was sorry to hear that statement from the hon. Member, because he hoped that on that question his views coincided with his own. He did not mean to say that he would lay down the principle of nonintervention as an inflexible rule, from which under no conditions a country should deviate. He would have each case viewed by its own conditions. If it so happened that there had been a people separated from England only by a border line, who had suffered untold wrongs from generation to generation, and that this country had the power to intervene and offer protection, he, for one, would have been in favour of intervention. But the case before the House was wholly different. They were asked to intervene on behalf of a country which was thousands of miles away, near which we had no possessions, and which was not on the path to any of our possessions, which with its mixed populations, each with its own separate aim, offered the most difficult problem that ever confronted a statesman or conqueror. Again, Turkey had powerful neighbours in Russia and Austria, both ruling over a race kindred to its own oppressed subjects. Germany, from its geographical position, could with a small effort exercise great influence in Turkey. Italy was a neighbour. France being a Mediterranean country was much nearer than ourselves. We were at the opposite end of the Continent. He maintained, therefore, that if a man who had held the doctrine of non-intervention all his life could abandon it in this instance, he might abandon it altogether. There was great sympathy not long ago in this country for Italy. When she was struggling for freedom, the right hon. Member for Greenwich took the same honourable course in regard to Italy as he had taken in regard to Turkey. He proclaimed her wrongs to the world, and employed his great influence to improve the condition of the country; but he did not recommend that England should go to war. He believed no responsible statesman in this country recommended that. We left Italy to herself and to the neighbouring nations, and no Member of the House would regret that they took such a course, or believed that the result would have been better if England had intervened. He could vote for the first two Resolutions in their amended form. Nothing would have induced him to vote for the last two. He dissented from them not on mere verbal grounds, but because, as a whole, they were a distinct proclamation of the doctrine of intervention. They assumed that it was wise and advantageous to enter upon a difficult and perilous enterprize in order to settle the affairs of another country. They were asked, as he understood it, to interfere with Turkey on two grounds—to protect our own interests and to protect the injured subjects of the Porte. But what were our interests in Turkey? No two men ever defined them alike. The excited men who sought to drive the Government into war said that changes in Turkey might interfere with the security of India; but the speech of the hon. Member for Orkney showed that the connection between India and Turkey was a political nightmare. We had, no doubt, interests in Turkey, as we had in every accessible spot on the world's surface; but we had no interests to justify a war. Then, with regard to the subjects of the Porte, as our presence had been a source of incal- culable mischief to them the best service we could render them in the future was to cease to interfere. We had been acquiring during the last 20 years a habit of non-intervention. Wars of great magnitude and significance had occurred during those 20 years, and we had abstained from any kind of intervention, and would anyone say that it not been of great benefit to the country that we had so abstained? If we had intervened we should have extended both the area and the duration of war. Many hon. Members, he knew, looked with disdain upon the views he was expressing. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) spoke a short time ago with something like contempt of those who preached the doctrine of non-intervention in foreign affairs. He said that all which those who supported the doctrine cared for was the increase of exports and imports. Well, but exports and imports were of importance to a great part of the population of the country whose means of subsistence were more precarious than those of the hon. Member for Hackney, and exports and imports should, therefore, never be spoken of with contempt in the British House of Commons. The truth was that the people who preached non-intervention did not do so out of regard solely for the material interests of the country, but also, and mainly, for its moral and intellectual interests. They knew what was the condition of the people of this country at the beginning of the century, when we were plunged in constant war; how they were then ground down and neglected. The degradation and brutality which were still too often found in our population, had their origin in the intervention policy of past years. He believed there was nothing in history which would afford suck a warning against interference with the affairs of other countries as the case of Turkey. They had made gigantic sacrifices for Turkey, and the result had been a gigantic failure. Forty thousand of our countrymen who had died or been killed in the very prime of their manhood, were now lying in Turkish graves. We had spent in war £100,000,000, or, in other words, we had sunk £5,000,000 a-year for ever—a sum nearly equal to our whole annual exports to Turkey. Later, influenced by those great authorities referred to with so much satisfaction by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane), we had lent the Sultan some scores of millions on his personal security. Our ablest diplomatists had been stationed at Constantinople, the country had been watched by our Consuls, and these gentlemen had furnished us with a mass of Blue Books, from which only one conclusion could be drawn. All these efforts, all these sacrifices had been useless; and yet on this very night in this House men on both sides were planning fresh schemes of intervention. The hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) was the only Member who had up to the present time adopted the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, and showed what they meant. It would be recollected that at the beginning of the Franco-German War seven men went heroically into the Lobby to vote against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, then at the head of the Government, because he purposed to go to some small expense on behalf of a meritorious little country like Belgium, close to our own shores; but now some of these hon. Gentlemen were ready to adopt the scheme of the hon. Member for Liskeard—a scheme of intervention so great and complicated, that nothing short of Providence could deal with it. We had failed in the affairs of Turkey, and had retired, acknowledging our impotence. Russia had taken our place. She understood the patient better than we did, and would undertake a course of treatment likely to be far more successful. He (Mr. Bright) was not in favour of war; but there were difficulties in the world so deep and tangled that nothing but war could solve them. He believed that nothing but war could solve this difficulty; and, seeing that war had begun, he hoped that it would not end until it had done much to limit the Ottoman Power. On the other side of the House the nerves of hon. Members seemed to be disturbed by the idea of Russia conquering Turkey, but that fear was illusory. Russia had prudence. Besides, even if she had not, the Powers in the neighbourhood had interests there, and would, in defending their own interests, defend also those of Europe. Nothing certainly could he worse in that part of Europe than what had been. Any change must be for the better. No doubt we had important interests in Egypt, and we could not allow the British Empire to be cut in two by a foreign occupation of that country, but there no one was likely to interfere with us. As to Constantinople and the Bosphorus, it appeared to him that if the Government would keep strictly to the view expressed by the Home Secretary, we should have little fear of war. The Government had tried to keep Europe at peace, and had failed. They must now keep England at peace, and if they succeeded they would receive great support, both in that House and in the country from both political Parties.


said, that he agreed with the first and second Resolutions, and to a great degree with the third and fourth, but he should vote for the Amendment because it spoke of " Resolutions which may embarrass Her Majesty's Government," which he had no wish to do. If, however, the question was Aye or No as to the first two Resolutions, he would vote for them at all hazards, and whatever might be the consequence. He was quite aware of the position in which he stood; he did not expect much sympathy from his own side, and he did not ask it from the other. There was a war party in the country, and he feared in the House, but it was not the Party of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, for in all he had said and written there was not a word in favour of war against Turkey. Had Turkey been told at the Conference that Europe was determined to insist on concessions, Turkey would have yielded, and there would have been no war; but she was told beforehand that no force would be used, and that led to the failure of the Conference. There would have been no war, for it might be as well supposed that the Isle of Wight would resist England, Scotland, and Ireland, as that Turkey would resist the united action of Europe in arms. What was to be dreaded from the first, as Lord Augustus Loftus warned us last September, was the isolated action of any Power, and particularly of Russia. It was undoubtedly true that many hon. Members entertained feelings of bitter antagonism to Russia, which was manifested by cheers when charges were made against her, and was indicated by a Notice of Motion put on the Paper by his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Charles Russell), with the object of throwing obloquy on the gallant soldiers against whom he fought in the Crimea. The Notice was for an— Address for Copy of the Evidence taken before a Court of Inquiry at Sebastopol in November, 1854, with reference to the butchery by Russians of the English wounded whilst lying helpless on the ground. Desperate efforts to drag us into war with Russia were being made by a portion of the Press. There was one journal which used to boast that it was written "by gentlemen for gentlemen," but from the raving style it had adopted lately, it seemed to be now written by maniacs for fools. Its favourite device was to represent the Ministry as divided into two hostile camps, and it spoke of a "Cabinet of Compromise." It said lately— To the fact that the Cabinet is a divided Cabinet we have not been more dull than Mr. Edward Jenkins, or the bloodthirsty philanthropists of The Spectator, or the priests, women, and foreigners who seem now to have all the writing in The Times." It was said of Pericles that he was more Athenian than the Athenians, and some of these writers were more Ministerial than the Ministry. He would read a passage from a leading article in The Daily Telegraph— We must treat the matter in a business-like fashion; we must provide against the worst—the only safe course in war — determine that Russia shall not have the Straits, and settle, as speedily as may be, the naval and military plans calculated effectively to secure the execution of our will. These are the resolutions which it becomes England to take; and when peace shall again bless the world, we shall have ample time to think and talk about reforms in the name of justice and humanity. If this did not look like war he did not know the meaning of the English language. The excuse for this was what was called a regard for "British interests;" but the writers displayed ignorance of, or indifference to, geography and the opinions of competent soldiers, statesmen, and writers. In addition to the authority of the Duke of Wellington and Lord Hardinge, which had been already quoted, he would cite the opinion of Lord Palmerston, then whom there was no man more jealous of Russian aggression, or more careful of the interests of England. Lord Palmerston said— Both Lord Hardinge and the Duke of Wellington seem to agree in thinking that the Russians cannot conquer India, and in this opinion they are clearly right. Between Asia Minor and India lay the deserts of Mesopotamia, the kingdom of Persia, and the mountains and defiles of Afghanistan. And there would be the British Navy in the Persian Gulf and the British Army in the Punjab. Mackenzie's work on Russia showed that the intention of transferring the capital from the Neva to the Golden Horn was not seriously entertained by Russian statesmen; and, if the idea were entertained, those statesmen were not such fools as to encounter the resistance that would be provoked by the attempt to carry it out. If Russia were victorious she would probably retain Batouni, Kars, and Erzeroum, and rectify her I3essarabian frontier, but this would not threaten India. The Emperor had solemnly declared at Livadia that he had no intention of acquiring Constantinople, and that, if compelled to occupy Bulgaria, he would only do so provisionally. Could they, as English Gentlemen, believe that the Emperor of Russia would, in the face of all Europe, tell a deliberate lie? His right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had said the other night — "Let us see if the Emperor keeps his word!" [Loud Ministerial cheers.] He hoped he did not misinterpret those cheers. Did they mean that the Emperor did not intend to keep his word? [Cheers.] It certainly looked very like it. He, for one, would not accept that interpretation, and the conduct of Russia in 1829 was a precedent, for then she loyally kept her word. She had promised when she declared war that she would make no territorial acquisition. She conquered Moldavia, Wallachia, and Bulgaria, and at Adrianople had Turkey at her feet. But she gave back everything, and did not keep a foot of territory. Much had been said with reference to the agitation which had taken place in the Autumn; but what was the statement made the other evening by that eminently Conservative Nobleman the Duke of Rutland with regard to this subject? He said, instead of blaming the head of the late Government for the part he had taken in what was called the Autumn Crusade, they ought to thank him for being the means of showing what was the real feeling of the country. The Home Secretary, also, in alluding to the meetings which then took place, said he should have been ashamed if they had not taken place. Had they, or had they not, changed their opinions on that subject? If they bad changed their opinions, it was owing to these meetings. Why had he been almost hooted down by hon. Members on that side of the House some two months ago for having expressed an opinion similar to that of the Home Secretary? He rejoiced that those meetings had been held. They were a generous outburst of public opinion, and he was quite certain they had done a great deal of good both in this country and in Europe. He owed no political allegiance to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. [Here there was some interruption, and the hon. and learned Gentleman turned round and made a remark to the hon. Member who sat behind him.]


Sir, I must ask if the hon. and learned Member is in Order in addressing me?


I must point out to the hon. and learned Member that it is one of our Rules that every Member should address the Chair.


said, he had been pained by the way in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had been attacked. It had been said that he had been actuated in his efforts by a low desire to regain place and power; but he did not believe there was a man in the country who in his soul and conscience believed that to be true. The right hon. Gentleman would live in history when the vast majority of those who sat in that House would be utterly forgotten. Although he differed from him in many respects, and did not agree with him in all things, even on this question, he was glad of that occasion to do full justice publicly to the purity of his motives and the loftiness of his aims.


said, he should not follow the example of the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. Forsyth) who, after approving of the Resolutions, had announced his intention to vote against them. He expressed the satisfaction with which he had heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary the other night. He did not agree with him entirely; but there were some portions of his address which he considered emi- nently satisfactory; and what pleased him most was the assurance he gave that the whole of his Colleagues entirely agreed with his sentiments. It was refreshing to hear from the benches opposite these manly denunciations of the atrocities of Turkey, and that full justice was at length done to those who had taken part in the autumnal meetings. He thanked his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich for bringing forward these Resolutions, and believed that they had elicited an expression of opinion from the country which was extremely serviceable. They had been told that the meetings had been got up by telegraph; if so, why had not hon. Members opposite also got up meetings in the same way to support their own particular views? Some hon. Members appeared to rejoice a few evenings ago at the prospect of a split amongst the Liberal Party on this subject, and the Members of the Government had certainly done their best to promote that split by consenting to the undignified course of meeting the Resolutions of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich with "the Previous Question;" but he was very glad that the split which was apprehended had not taken place. He had had no difficulty, such as some hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House appeared to have, in supporting the Resolutions, which, he thought, did credit to their proposer. Since the war had actually broken out he had experienced great anxiety on this subject. Whenever he met a Conservative friend he was always told that England must go to war against Russia. ["Oh!"] He hardly knew an exception to what he now stated. Whenever, also, he took up a newspaper he read that it was the duty of this country to take up arms against the power ruled by the Czar. In short, in every possible way there was a wicked attempt made to excite the animosity of the people of England against Russia; and, that being so, there could be no doubt that there was some anxiety in our present position. It was with great satisfaction, therefore, that he heard the speech of the Home Secretary the other night; but the view of the case presented then for the first time by the right hon. Gentleman differed widely from what the House had previously heard from the bench opposite. For himself, he was not afraid of Russia; but he thought that the hatred which it was endeavoured to excite against her was quite unjustifiable. There might be inconsistency in the conduct of Russia, but there were many other cases of inconsistency. For example, when the civil war was raging in America, there were many who sympathized with the South, and yet it would be most unfair to say that they were in favour of slavery. Therefore, it was most unfair to say that the feeling of the Russian people for those of their own race and religion was not genuine. It had been alleged over and over again—and he was sorry that the statement had been supported by Lord Derby—that it had all along been the intention of Russia, notwithstanding the negotiations in which she had engaged, to enter into hostilities. He had never, however, either heard or seen any proof in support of that assertion. It might be so; there might be ambition at work; but until distinct proof were brought forward he did not think that any hon. Member had a right to make such an allegation. And as to annexations, we ought to apply the same rule to Russia as to ourselves. What was our justification for the annexation of the Transvaal Republic? We were told that it was forced upon us, because that State was delivered over to anarchy, was rent by faction, was bankrupt, and because President Burgers had lost all influence over the Boers and was unable to effect the reforms he acknowledged to be necessary. The Russians might allege the same plea in justification of themselves. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), which practically asked the House to place confidence in the Government, he should have been glad if, for himself, he had been able to do so. [Laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh; but he meant what he said. He was not actuated in this matter by Party motives. It would have been a source of satisfaction to him had he felt that there was a Minister at the Foreign Office upon whom implicit reliance could be placed. There was a time when he entertained a high opinion of Lord Derby's caution; but the noble Lord's proceedings in connection with this Eastern Question had entirely destroyed that confidence. He could not have confidence in a Foreign Minister who allowed this country for a month to believe that the British Fleet had been despatched to Besika Bay as a demonstration against Russia; who said what was tantamount to this—that he would not be guided by his own convictions, but by the opinion of the people whom he called his masters; who made the imprudent declaration with regard to the finances of Russia that they were so low that we need be under no apprehension of her going to war, and who had replied to the Russian Circular by writing a despatch, which was in direct contradiction to the policy pursued by our Representative at the Conference at Constantinople. For these reasons he could not support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Christchurch.


Sir, however wide has been the difference of opinion in this debate, and the speeches of the hon. Members for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) and Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) have shown that difference; however much I may differ from the conclusions which have been arrived at by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, as to the course which, in his opinion, ought to be followed by the Government in the present emergency, there is one point upon which all of us, whatever side of the House we sit upon, will agree—namely, that it is impossible to have listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend at the opening of the debate without being deeply impressed with the sincerity of his convictions and the earnestness of his appeal. My hon. Friend who has just resumed his seat and the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. Forsyth) have referred to the meetings which have taken place in different parts of the country, and referred to them with some approval. I may therefore also take the liberty of expressing my opinion with regard to that agitation, and I am bound to say that I greatly regret the course which was taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. I think the agitation which, though it is unsuccessful, he has been the cause of creating in this country has been most mischievous. I think it has been most ungenerous on his part. I was in this House before the Crimean War, and I had a seat before the Franco-German War, and I well recollect what took place on both of those occasions. I re- collect the forbearance of the Opposition, the kindness, the sympathy, even the anxiety of the Opposition to assist the Government. The same thing occurred before the Franco-German War. I sat upon these benches night after night in opposition to the Government of that day—the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich—and I recollect the appeals, private as well as public, made to many hon. Members imploring them not to excite the public mind by raising discussions respecting Belgium and Luxembourg. My late lamented right hon. Friend and Colleague, the late Sir Henry Bulwer, was in despair. He had a speech prepared for many days; but private communications were made to him imploring him not to incommode the Government, and I, who had more experience in the House probably than he, ventured to assure him that sooner or later, if he abstained, virtue would meet with its reward. I think that this agitation has been most unbecoming, and that at this critical time particularly it would have been better to have abstained from putting on the Paper these Resolutions. For what has been the effect of them? They have excited the public mind to a very considerable extent; and when we came down hero to listen to them, and to oppose or support them, as the case might be, they were found, in the unanimous opinion of this House, to be so offensive that they were withdrawn. I am not overstating the case, they were found offensive and were withdrawn—and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), who made an excellent speech the other evening, said what was perfectly true, that, although two of the Resolutions had been withdrawn, two-thirds of the right hon. Gentleman's speech were directly in support of those Resolutions. Now, Sir, I come to my expression of regret that the right hon. Gentleman should have taken this course. I do not regret it on account of the Government. And why? Because if ever there was a Government who was prepared loyally to meet every question, to meet every representation, to give every explanation as to their policy and politics, it was the present Government. They have almost on every occasion courted inquiry. They were not like some Governments I have known during the last 25 years, shy in giving their opinions as to the state of affairs; but they have, in my opinion, loyally pursued a straightforward, above-board policy, having nothing to conceal, and have always been ready to give this House and the country all the information in their power. Therefore, it is not on account of the Government that I entertain any regret, neither is it on account of the Opposition. I certainly did feel a pang when I looked at the Opposition benches and saw the hungry wolves rushing into the fold and scattering the sheep without a shepherd. It is not, therefore, on the part of the Government or the Opposition that I regret the course pursued, but on account of the right hon. Gentleman himself. With the splendid position he occupied in the country, the patriotism which I really believe—which I know—animates his breast, I should have hoped that at a very critical and dangerous time like the present, sinking all considerations of Party, he would have given his powerful support to the councils of the country, irrespective of any Government. Instead of doing that, so far as I can learn, all that he has done—if the papers that generally support the Opposition are to be believed, and even The Daily Telegraph—all that he has done has been to divide his Party and to enter into closer communication with the Liberation Society. The hon. Member who spoke last said that these meetings have been very successful. No doubt; and the right hon. Gentleman says—"There have been 100 meetings in support of my policy, and the agitation is real and just." But what did they meet upon? Why, they met in favour of the four Resolutions. Therefore we must recollect that these meetings—unwisely got up—have all had before them a false issue. If he had stuck to the four Resolutions he might have alleged that he had the country at his back; but having withdrawn them he will find that his well - meant endeavour has missed fire. The result reminds me of two lines of a poet who formerly had a seat in this House, and who was a Member of the Government of the day—Mr. Croker—who, speaking of the position of the opposite Party of the time, said— But while they prepared to defeat all their foes, Within their own camp civil discord arose; and what was said in 1815 may be said of the Opposition now— That while they prepared the defeat of their foes, Within their own camp civil discord arose. I come now to the question what the Resolution means in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, because there is a vast difference of opinion about it. He says that these Resolutions would include an alteration in the policy of Her Majesty's Government and that their position is ambiguous. No doubt a change of policy would be involved if the four Resolutions had been adopted, because they breathe war in every line, whilst the Government intend strict neutrality, and the country supports them in that policy. But the right hon. Gentleman means war and coercion. I recollect the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck); he spoke of a war of humanity, and said that the conclusion was that the Ministry should go to war, an opinion stated on the other side of the House as well as on this side. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) really treated the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield most unkindly, and was almost too severe upon him although he was a lawyer. He said that two lawyers had addressed the House, and had treated it like a common jury. Well, I hope he will not have to appear before a common jury for some time to come. How difficult it must be to understand what the Resolutions mean! One party says they mean war; another party says they mean peace; and another important section of the House says they mean nothing at all; and, so far as I can see, except that they are an accusation, against the Government, they really mean nothing at all. The right hon. Gentleman said the policy of the Government is ambiguous. ["Hear, hear!"] "Hear, hear!" is said on the other side; but are we in total ignorance of what foreign countries think of this ambiguity? Now, with the exception of Russia, who has broken away from the rest, France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, have a complete understanding with the British Government; and, moreover, they have expressed nothing about ambiguity in their policy, and are determined to support it. The Italian Minister stated distinctly that he was prepared to follow a policy of strict neutrality, and that until Italian interests were affected they would not interfere. In the German Chamber very much the same thing was said by one of the Ministers. Is there any ambiguity in the policy of Her Majesty's Government, when, with the exception of Russia, all the Great Powers of Europe agree with the policy of England? I can see no ambiguity in it. The only doubt which has been expressed against the policy of any Power had reference to Germany, and it was expressed the other day by an ex-Cabinet Minister, who, I think, ought to have known better, and who, but for the benevolent laws of this country, might have had to air his politics in a totally different atmosphere. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) addressed a meeting the other day in the City of London, when he spoke of the policy of Germany as "cynical." Anything more unfair could not have been said, particularly by an ex-Cabinet Minister, who may, perhaps, by some accident occupy the same position again, though I hope he will not until he reforms his manners. The right hon. Gentleman made use of that expression, and endeavoured to throw a slur on the policy of Germany, which Power had in this matter proved to be England's best ally. Then there is another ex-Cabinet Minister, who has no ambiguity at all on the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I allude to the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports (Earl Granville), who on Monday last addressed a religious meeting. I think opulent sinecurists always appear to the best advantage at religious meetings. Well, the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, speaking at a meeting of the British and Foreign Bible Society, alluded to what he calls the Greenwich. Resolutions. After having spoken lightly on different subjects, his Lordship brought out of his arsenal that fine old English gentleman "Civil and Religious Liberty." He told the meeting that although they might be in great minorities they must vote for the Greenwich Resolutions and "Civil and Religious Liberty." I should have thought he would have avoided the use of that hackneyed phrase, because whatever the Resolutions may mean there can be no difference of opinion in this House as to the meaning of the words civil and religious liberty. The idea of Russia and civil and religious liberty! Russia, a civilizing Power! Russia, whose only interest it is to take care of the Christian Provinces of Turkey! It is urged that we must say nothing about Russia's past, but must confine our remarks to the present. I will say in the British House of Commons what I believe to be the truth about Russia's past and Russia's civil and religious liberty. I should like to learn from the Government whether there does not exist in the archives of the Foreign Office any record sent by our Ambassador at St. Petersburg of the number of persons—male, female, and children—who for no other offence than attachment to the Catholic faith have been sent, without justice and without trial, in chains and misery to the wilds of Siberia? And that is the Power we ought to associate with! Only the other day I was talking to a noble Pole, one who has suffered in his family from love of country, who told me that even now, since the commencement of this war, he knew through his family of cases where poor unhappy people were, solely on account of their religious faith, being sent to chains and misery in Siberia. Is that a Power with which after the Crimean War England should unite and fight against Turkey No, I say; stand to your strict neutrality, and the country will support you. I am indignant to think, after all we have done in the Crimea, after all the losses we have sustained, and a war expenditure representing more than £5,000,000 a-year sacrificed in that struggle—perhaps wrongly—while the same generation is alive, that any one should suggest that England could unite with Russia in another war in the East. I will not tolerate such a thought, for I should conceive it to be the height of folly on the part of this country to attempt in any degree to unite with that Power, considering its doctrines, its policy, and its past. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) said that going to war involved no risk of danger, and he said to the Government—"You are keeping back the other Powers. They are ready to go forward." That, however, is a statement without a shadow of foundation as far as appears from the documents which have been presented to Parliament. We have kept back no foreign Power, and they have all said that they will act on the strictest principles of neutrality as long as their own interests were unaffected. Having alluded to that subject, I wish to come back to another. This discussion has extended over a wide field, and I wish to bring back the attention of the House to two speeches which were delivered from the bench opposite. One is the speech of the right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), and the other is the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe). I have a great affection for the latter right hon. Gentleman. My right hon. Friend said—"I have always held opinions identical with the spirit of the Resolutions. In my view our duty was not to interfere with Turkey in any way. Why, that is precisely the policy of the Government, which intends to maintain a strict neutrality. Then he proceeded to make a most violent attack upon the Government. In fact, his catalogue of epithets exceeds anything to be found in either of his two favourite authors—one or the other of which is quoted in every speech of his—Sydney Smith and Martin Tupper. My right hon. Friend's indictment was most severe; and I must admit honestly I thought the right hon. Gentleman was not quite as happy as I have seen him. I fancied I noticed an air of sadness about him; and I think that air of sadness come over him because it had not fallen to his lot, as it had on many occasions, but to the lot of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich to divide the Liberal Party. Well, I was struck with the words which my right hon. Friend used against the Government. The House was not so full at that time as now, and therefore I will repeat some of them. They are—"Lamentable failure," "universal failure," "duplicity," "want of ability and care in negotiation," "carelessness and recklessness," "series of blunders and mistakes," "faults of temper and of judgment," "swagger and bravado." The Times spoke the other day of "crazy appeals to ignorance and passion," and I must say I think it was unfair for my right hon. Friend to apply to Her Majesty's Government the epithets I have just cited. My right hon. Friend is clever generally; but he is unfair. He said that Lord Beaconsfield's policy was systematic friendliness to Turkey and persistent hostility to Russia, and that that policy is in direct contradiction to the policy of Lord Derby. I have read Lord Beaconsfield's speech at the Guildhall, and I find it to be a most temperate one. His Lordship said— We have believed that that peace would be best maintained by an observance of the Treaties in which all the Great Powers of Europe have joined. Those Treaties are not antique and dusty obsolete documents. In this very capital the Treaty of Paris was revised. It was revised and re-enacted under circumstances which made that re-enactment most solemn, and that Treaty lays it down as the best security for the peace of Europe that we should maintain the independence and territorial integrity of the Turkish Empire. That, then, has been our first object during the past year. That is, in fairness, the quotation from the Guildhall speech, and the essential words contained in it were taken out of the revised Treaty of 1871, which was made by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman who represents the University of London was a Member. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the policy thus indicated is in direct contradiction to the policy of Lord Derby; but I contend that Lord Derby has said precisely the same thing when, in signing the Protocol, he stated that he did so solely in the interests of European peace. But the right hon. Gentleman went further, and, following the example of the right hon. Member for Pontefract, raked up the Bulgarian atrocities. The latter right hon. Gentleman said, as the hon. and gallant Admiral the Member for Stirlingshire (Admiral Sir William Edmonstone) will recollect—I allude to him because he cried "No" at the time—the right hon. Gentleman said he watched the expression on the countenance of those who sat on the Ministerial side of the House when the Secretary of State for the Home Department was expressing his abhorrence of those atrocities, and that they exhibited no signs of approval. What possible right had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract in the present critical state of affairs—how worse than cruel—to speak in that way? I hold in my hand extracts from speeches made by Lord Derby on the 11th of September, 1876, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the 27th of the same month, and by Lord Carnarvon on the 3rd of October, and they one and all express themselves in the strongest terms in condemnation of the atrocities in Bulgaria. Lord Derby, in his despatch to Sir Henry Elliot, dated the 21st of September, says— No political considerations would justify the toleration of such acts; and one of the foremost conditions for the settlement of the questions now pending must be that ample reparation shall be afforded to the sufferers, and their future security guaranteed ….. Your Excellency will, in the name of the Queen and Her Majesty's Government, call for reparation and justice ….. Your Excellency will likewise urge that striking examples should be made on the spot of those who have connived at or taken part in the atrocities."—[Turkey No. 1 (1877), p. 238.] For my own part, I entirely concur with the hon. Gentleman below me (Mr. Forsyth) that it is far better the House should not entertain these Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, which may embarrass the action of the Government in the interests of peace, than that they should accept the opinion of others among us who appear to be in favour of war. The great object of the Resolutions was to divide the Government and the Party, and, that having failed, there has been an attempt to induce the Government to give some sort of pledge as to their future policy. They have, I am happy to say, failed to divide the Government, who, I hope, will not budge one inch beyond that strict neutrality to which they stand pledged. If they do not, I am sure they will be supported by the country. The interests of the nation are far too grave to admit of their making vague declarations of policy which the events of to-morrow may render nugatory. All that they have to do is to stand by their policy of strict neutrality, and not to interfere so long as British interests are not interfered with; and where is there an Englishman who would say that they ought not to interfere if those interests were imperilled? I believe they would be imperilled if a semi-barbarous Power like Russia were to be allowed to obtain a post on the banks of the Bosphorus. Such a thing may not be likely to happen to-day, or to-morrow, or next year; but if once there they would become a source of peril to this country if the unaided forces of Turkey were unable to battle with Muscovite aggression. What we should do, then, I maintain, is to be on our guard. We have to look to ourselves and to British interests; to England's past fame and her future position; to the maintenance of the prestige of our power, which would be greatly affected if the hordes of Russia were permitted to advance on the high road that leads to Constantinople. It is very easy to drift into war; but we expect better things from the present Government. It is very easy to drift into war; but if war should come, we shall, I am sure, exhibit all the pristine valour of our race, and our forces by land and sea will emulate the illustrious annals of the past. I look, however, to a better result from the conduct of the Government under the direction of Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Derby. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London has told us that he spoke as an outsider, and that, speaking as an outsider, he condemns what he calls the duplicity of the Government, its recklessness, and its carelessness. I also, speaking as an outsider, without any Party or even political ambition beyond that which every man in this House must have who is anxious to serve his country at any sacrifice if perils should encircle the country, must say that the Government of Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Derby, instead of having rendered themselves open to those attacks—those crazy attacks, or as the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield calls them, those pettifogging attacks—have, in my opinion, entitled themselves to the thanks of this House, and will secure to themselves, I feel sure, the gratitude of the country. "Carelessness," "recklessness," "duplicity," "swagger," "bravado"—were ignoble words to apply to any Government, and which certainly ought not to be the language applied to a Government which is the foremost in the world in a crisis like the present. It is not by the use of such epithets, but by the wisdom, judgment, discretion, and forbearance of the Government that this country has been placed on a higher pedestal in the eyes of the world than it has occupied for many years. Continue that policy; the voice of Parliament will be with you, and the sentiment of the country will sustain you. For what is that policy? It is a policy based upon principles which have made the nations of Europe say of us that which was once said of the most illus- trious people of ancient times, when, leaving the Land of Egypt to take possession of the Promised Land, they extorted even from their enemies that more splendid eulogy than any that stands recorded in the classic annals of Greece and Rome—when those enemies exclaimed even in the bitterness of their souls—"Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people."


There is one remark of the right hon. Baronet with which I entirely agree. It is easy, as he says, to drift into war; and I am glad to believe that, whatever else may he the result of this long debate, it will not be so easy for the Government to drift into war at the end of this week as it was before. I greatly enjoyed the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. It came as a most refreshing interlude in our debate; but it placed me in this difficulty, that as it was my hard fate to reply to it, I was looking out for something to reply to, but could find nothing. With all the right hon. Gentleman's eloquence and amusing illustrations, he did not make one remark about the actual question before us. He said the Gentlemen on this side are hungry wolves without a shepherd. We may be hungry, and we may be wolves, but in that case it is not likely we should want a shepherd.


I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. What I said was that hungry wolves had broken into the fold and scattered the sheep without a shepherd.


Those who break into the fold are those without it, and those who are without our fold are the Gentlemen on the opposite side. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a speech delivered by the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports at some religious meeting as he termed it—which, however, I suppose was a meeting of the licensed victuallers—and he says that he spoke in favour of civil and religious liberty. But that is not the question before us. That question is whether or not Turkey has a claim on England for moral and material support. He said that there are three classes of opinion with regard to the Resolutions—that some think that they mean something—[An hon. MEMBER: "War!"]—others that they mean little, and others that they mean nothing at all. The right hon. Gentleman must believe that they mean nothing at all, for he said nothing about them. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) says he did so because the Resolutions might be embarrassing to the Government, but he made no attempt to prove how they could be so in any way. The objections urged against the Resolutions are contradictory in themselves. They are called truisms, and the hon. and gallant Member for Berkshire (Colonel Loyd-Lindsay), when he heard that the House would be asked merely to vote for the first two Resolutions, jumped up and said everybody was agreed to them, and he called upon the Government to support them. Many hon. Gentlemen object that the two Resolutions are incomplete, inasmuch as they imply agreement with the third and fourth Resolutions, which my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) does not intend to put to the House. If they are truisms they cannot be embarrassing or incomplete. But I grant that if they are incomplete, and if it is necessary to their meaning that they should imply concurrence with the third and fourth Resolutions, it would: be unadvisable to pass them. Not only so, but it would be cowardly on the part of those who advocate the stronger Resolutions; while it would be dishonest on the part of those who are not prepared to vote for the latter to vote for the first two. I admit that I should be reluctant to vote for the first Resolution if it were to be put by itself. I should be still more reluctant to vote for the second Resolution, without the Amendment suggested by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan). I do not think the House of Commons ought to censure any foreign Government unless it were prepared to take ulterior steps. There is not, I believe, a man in this House who does not believe that Turkey has behaved badly; but, notwithstanding that fact, I think it would be undignified and uncalled for on the part of the House of Commons to take the exceptional course of censuring a foreign Power, unless we had made up our minds to act upon our resolution; and I admit that it would be with reluctance I should have voted for the second Resolution as it was originally drawn. My right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich originally so worded it that he looked to the possibility of Turkey again being able to have a claim upon England for moral or material support in the war in which she is now engaged. My opinion is that Turkey has brought the war upon herself, and that it is too late for her to look to us for either moral or material support. But, taking the first two Resolutions by themselves, and supposing that the third and fourth had never existed, I ask the House is there any sufficient reason for adopting them? The second Resolution is a result and consequence of the first. Taking, then, the second Resolution, as amended, I ask, has Turkey had at any time a claim upon us for moral or material support, and if she had, has she forfeited that claim? I think she had such a claim. The Crimean War, the Treaty of 1856, and the conduct of the British Government since that time have given her the claim which the protected has upon the protector. Let us suppose that Turkey, instead of doing her worst had for the last 25 years done her best, that the expectations of Lord Palmerston had been fulfilled, and that the promised reforms had been carried out. Can anyone deny that in that case she would in her present danger have a claim upon us for support which we would be bound to admit? Well, has the claim been forfeited? I do not think I need dwell upon that. The conduct of Turkey during the last two years has forfeited it. Lord Derby, at the end of last year, told her that unless there was an immediate cessation of the atrocities and punishment of their perpetrators he could not answer for the consequences of the indignation of England and of Europe. The right hon. Baronet has quoted those words, and I need not refer to the statement of Lord Salisbury at the close of the Conference. Well, then, if there has been that forfeiture, how can it be embarrassing to Her Majesty's Government that the House should affirm their acts, and say, as the Ministry have said over and over again, that this old Ally of ours has forfeited her claim to our moral or material support? I should have said that instead of embarrassing them, such a Resolution would have strengthened their hands. Well, the right hon. Baronet seemed to think that British interests were involved in these Resolutions, and other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen appeared to agree with him. How can those interests be affected by the statement that Turkey has forfeited all claim to our moral or material support? That has nothing whatever to do with any question relating to our interests. If there are general reasons for passing these Resolutions—and I think there are—I confess it appears to me that there is a special reason also. That special reason is the last act of the Government, and the last step they have taken. I am not going to enter into a history of the past. Although I disapprove of much that Lord Derby has done, I am not at all sure that anyone else would have done very much better. His difficulties have been great. Not only is this Eastern Question one of the most difficult with which Europe has had to deal—and we ought to put the most generous construction on the actions of any Minister in such circumstances—but it is not only with the Eastern Question Lord Derby has had to deal; he has had to deal also with Western questions of the gravest importance. I grant that his difficulties have been increased by the necessity, which has arisen, of changing the policy of England. I will not say that previous Governments have not been implicated in the transactions which have caused a change in the policy which did mean support of Turkey; but the fact remains that Lord Derby has been driven into this change by the general feeling of the country. Nor do I think Lord Derby's difficulties have been decreased by the speeches of the Prime Minister; but as the noble Lord is no longer a Member of this House—a fact we all regret—I will not further allude to the speeches which he has made on the question. I wish, however, to state the grounds on which I exceedingly regret the reply of England to Prince Gortchakoff's last despatch. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) that the Government should give us reasons why they, of all the Powers of Europe, felt it necessary to reply to that Circular. The right hon. Baronet said—and that was the one remark in his speech which had any bearing upon the real question—he was perfectly sure that the present policy of the Government has the confidence of the other Powers in Europe, with the exception of Russia. It is very pleasant to have that assurance, and I only wish the right hon. Baronet had given us grounds for that belief; but it rather shakes his assurance when we find that no other Power has answered that Circular. But, supposing the Government to have thought it necessary to reply to it, why could not the answer have been confined to a mere disavowal of Prince Gortchakoff's statement that war was declared in order to carry out the views of England and the other Powers? Instead of this, the arguments contained in the reply are, to my mind, inconclusive, founded upon false assumptions, and, to some extent, dangerous. There is one statement, indeed, contained in the answer which is contradictory of the Government policy, and it is an expression of belief in the good faith of Turkey. I should suppose from Lord Derby's despatch—and I should like to be informed if the contrary is the fact—that the Government believes in the new Turkish Constitution. But there is also a statement that the Government believe an entry upon Turkish soil by Russian troops will not improve the condition of the Christian population in Turkey. Now, there may be very great evils in the invasion of Turkey by Russia. I have no doubt great misery will follow from that war; but I am surprised that any Minister, knowing the facts, should state that the condition of the Christian population will not eventually be improved by the Russian invasion if it should prove successful. Take Bulgaria, for instance. We may dislike, for many reasons, that Bulgaria should become Russian. I do not, for my part, think there is the slightest danger of that. We may dislike the idea that Bulgaria may become an autonomous State under the protection of Russia; but does anyone who has studied the question doubt that if Bulgaria was taken over from Turkey, and made an autonomous State, the condition of the Bulgarian population would not be changed infinitely for the better? Looking to the theatre of war, I find that the Russian armies are now in Turkish Armenia, and from all I have been able to learn I should say that the inhabitants of Russian Armenia occupy a very much better position, social, moral, and religious, than those in whose country the Russian troops are now operating. Lord Derby, in a despatch to Mr. Jocelyn written last month, reported an interview he had had with Musurus Pasha, and in that interview he warned the representative of the Sultan that in the event of a war, and the Russian arms being successful, Turkey would not merely lose one or two Provinces, but the Ottoman Empire might cease to exist. Whatever else might follow, there can, I think, be no doubt that such result from Russian success would produce an improvement in the condition of the present Christian subjects of the Porte. There are two other objections which I have to make to the reply of the Foreign Secretary. One is that it is a very strong statement to make that Russia, by the declaration of war, has been guilty of a contravention of the Treaty of Paris. That is a very strong thing, indeed, for our Government to say to the Government of another country which is our Ally. If it be true that Russia, by declaring war, has broken the Treaty of Paris, warning should have been given to her officially and publicly that such would be the effect of her act long ago—at least as early as the close of the Conference. I am not going to enter into the question whether it was or was not wise on our part to tell the Turks that no coercion would be used towards them either by ourselves or by the rest of Europe; but the only screw that was put upon Turkey was to tell her—"If Russia goes to war with you because you don't effect the reforms she demands, we won't support you." Russia and Turkey were both informed that if the latter did not yield it was expected that the former would declare war against her, and Russia has a right to complain that we did not then tell her that by so doing she would be breaking the Treaty of Paris. It might be said that Russia ought to have remembered the Article in that Treaty under which she was bound to require the mediation of the other Powers before going to war. During the Conference it was generally supposed, especially by the newspapers supporting the policy of the Government, that one of the great purposes of the Conference was this mediation, and because it had failed by the action of Turkey it was not to be supposed that it was not to be considered to be the exercise of the right of mediation; but I should like to know whether, if Turkey had asked for mediation under that Article that the British Government, or any other Government, would not have thought it right to grant the request; and if that were so, why come forward and charge Russia with actual breach of that Article? The next passage in the despatch is a complaint against the Emperor of Russia because he has separated himself from the European concert hitherto maintained. I am not here to defend Russia, nor should I have made any remark upon the point but for this despatch; but I ask the House candidly to consider whether Russia is greatly to be blamed for not maintaining this European concert? She would, undoubtedly, be much to blame if that concert was a reality, but not if it was a sham. Well, it was a sham. It became a sham in consequence of the determination of the Conference not being enforced, which gave Russia the right to say that she had no faith in European concert. Then came these very strong words in the reply of the Foreign Secretary—"It is impossible to foresee the consequences," &c. Undoubtedly it is impossible to foresee what may be the consequences of this war; but the noble Lord the Postmaster General must be aware of what is the meaning of diplomatic phraseology; and it is a very serious thing, indeed, when a friendly Power is informed that, having broken a Treaty, it is impossible to foresee the consequences. No wonder that the funds fell on every Stock Exchange in Europe on that reply being made public. No wonder that the newspapers throughout Europe almost all supposed that it meant some danger of war between Russia and England. And I must confess that the fear there is in this country of war would have been greatly increased if that despatch had been left by itself. A good deal has been said with reference to the recent agitation in this country on this question. The feeling which lay behind that agitation has been very much the determination to preserve our neutrality—not, as has been suggested, to drive us into war. There is but a small minority who would go so far as that; but there has been a great fear that we should drift into war, and that we should drift into war on the wrong side on a mistaken notion that our interests were threatened—and that fear would have been greatly increased by this reply if it stood alone. But we have had the advantage in the course of this debate of hearing the declarations of the Home Secretary, which will do much to allay that fear. We must remember what we have read day after day in the newspapers. I am not going to hold the Government responsible for everything that appears in the newspapers which are in the interest of their Party; but I must remind the House that the Government have never contradicted the statements which have appeared in those journals, and I cannot help attaching some weight to the opinions which are constantly being expressed in them that our interests are threatened—not in Egypt, not on the Bosphorus—but on some mountain in Asia Minor or other distant post. There is a fear expressed lest Russia should come down the Euphrates or take possession of some of the head waters of that river, or endanger our interests by getting some possible access to the Persian Gulf. The hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing) has exposed the fallacy of those fears; but we do want an official definition of British interests, and I am delighted that we had the definition which was given by the Home Secretary. Then we have heard a good deal about the danger of Russia getting possession of Batoum; but our interests in that quarter have not been defined very clearly. The Home Secretary gave some definition of our interests in connection with the Suez Canal, and said that we could not allow Egypt to be possessed by any Continental Power. With that I agree; but we must recollect that there might be great difficulties in that matter, and that there must be some forbearance shown towards Russia if she is to be considered as having the rights of a belligerent Power. Egypt is nominally a part of Turkey. Egypt is performing her duty as a part of Turkey. There are Egyptian troops in Turkey ready to fight for her against the armies of the Czar. Egypt is therefore at war with Russia, and though I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that England must protest, and get Europe to protest, against Russia making an attack upon Egypt, I do not suppose for a moment that Her Majesty's Government deny that some forbearance to Russia will be required. The possibility of Russia getting to Constantinople has affected the minds of people in this country as a red rag excites a bull. I was delighted to find the words with Which the Home Secretary treated that fear. He said Egypt and the Suez Canal were European interests as well as English; but I think he gave us the impression that they were pre-eminently English. When he came to Constantinople I think he did not give us that impression, and in that I think he was quite right. For my part, I should be sorry to see Constantinople in the hands of Russia. I believe that the Greeks will regain their lost inheritance, and I should be sorry to see religious liberty exposed to the danger which would arise if Russia were master of Constantinople. If I come to British interests, I do not say they are not affected, but they are less affected than the interests of other countries in Europe. Prince Bismarck said recently—"This is not any business of ours; not a single Pomeranian shall lose his life about this question." Why did he say so? Because he hoped that England would do the work for him as she did in the Crimean War for Prussia and Austria. It is, however, a matter of very great interest to Germany—even to powerful Germany, leading Europe as at this moment she does—that she should not be between France and a much more powerful Russia. Depend upon it, Prince Bismarck knows that it is the interest of Germany, and will take care that Russia shall not be at Constantinople. Let us join in the protest, but let us not fear. Russia has no more intention of running the risk and danger of affronting Europe and Germany by getting Constantinople than she has of marching at once to Calcutta. When an endeavour is made to drag us into all the costs and dangers of war, I do not say by the Government, but by some of their supporters—and a war on the wrong side—I am glad the Home Secretary has done his best to dispel that illusion. There is another matter for which I thank the Home Secretary. He made a declaration which has received the assent of almost every Member that has spoken, except, perhaps, my hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), and that is the declaration of absolute neutrality between Russia and Turkey. I sympathize with that view. It is because I have that feeling so strongly that I should not be able to vote for the third and fourth Resolutions of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) if he had intended to move them. I know it is late; but I feel it would hardly be honest for me to sit down without stating distinctly the grounds on which I could not have supported him. I think the fourth Resolution would have been understood by Russia, by Turkey, by Europe, to have been a declaration of opinion by this House that Russia ought to be assisted in this war, and that it would have been in effect a breach of neutrality. Let me say one word as to Resolutions passed by this House. We must not treat them as mere indications of our feelings. They are orders given by the most powerful body in the State to the Ministers of State to carry out a certain policy — in this case on a European question of immense importance. I am quite aware that my right hon. Friend has tried to guard against this result by saying that it would promote a concert of European Powers in exacting these reforms; but in his most eloquent, most argumentative speech he did not tell us his reasons for believing that there was at this time any chance of that concerted action. It seems to me that this Resolution does imply that we ask Europe to assist Russia in exacting reforms in Turkey. I am not prepared now to make that appeal to Europe. Nor am I now prepared while this war is going on to ask the House to affirm the third Resolution, and for this reason—because I am not prepared to attempt to pledge the House to a policy at the close of that war. In regard, for instance, to the Bosnians, I share the desire of my right hon. Friend. I wish that they should have the glories of their ancient rule restored; for they have a history. But we must remember the position of Austria; and I do not want to pledge myself to the proposition that Bosnia is not to become Austrian. Then, again, I do not suppose my right hon. Friend means to imply that we are to pledge ourselves that the power of Greece is not to be re-instated in Constantinople. I may be thought somewhat inconsistent; but I am not now prepared to make this appeal to Europe to assist Russia or to pledge the House as to the conditions at the end of the war. But before the war was declared there was no policy that I should have more earnestly advocated. I wish my right hon. Friend had been able—there were reasons why he could not—to bring forward this Resolution at any time before the war was declared. My noble Friend the Leader of the Opposition here, and the Leader of our Party in the other House, hinted strongly at European coercion at the very opening of the Session, and I wish the same manifestations of support which are now given had been given to us then. I am not sure that we acted wisely in not pressing that policy. But let me say in self-defence that we most reluctantly came to that conclusion. It was no fear of being beaten in this House; no fear of any disgrace or discomfiture to our Party that influenced us. Our sole fear was that we should do harm to the cause we cared about in pledging the House, as we thought we should do, against a policy which we had still some hope that the Government might themselves entertain. I deeply regret that the Government themselves did not carry out the policy of calling upon Europe to put pressure upon Turkey—to keep up its concert for that purpose; with coercion, if necessary, for that end. I differ from my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) and some other Gentlemen in their opinions upon that matter; and I want to state very shortly the grounds on which I should have been in favour of applying European pressure, and, if necessary, coercion. There are two great schools of opinion on the Eastern Question. There are those who still believe in the possible regeneration or reform of Turkey by itself. They still have the hope which Lord Palmerston expressed some 25 years ago—that there was power in the Ottoman Porte to perform the duties of a civilized Government. One great advocate of that doctrine—the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Butler-Johnstone)—is not now in his place. I believe that its adherents are a minority in this House, that they are a still smaller minority in the Cabinet—to judge from the utterances of its Members, and that they are a very small minority, indeed, in the country. hon. Members generally, and almost all who pay attention to the matter out-of-doors, have, I believe, given up that hope, and have lost faith in the power of Turkey to regenerate herself. But great differences of opinion yet exist as to how the necessary change is to be made. We know that while Turkish misrule lasts the East will not be pacified. I was in favour of using European pressure, and, if necessary, coercion, because that seemed to me the best mode of giving some hope to the oppressed Christians, and the sole means of preventing war and of pacifying the East without war. And why do I say this? Some Gentlemen have stated—what has often been stated before—that Russia got up the Bulgarian atrocities, and I suppose some would add, also Turkish repudiation. Now I am not going into the question of whether Russia has made use of Turkish misrule for her own purposes; but I say that that misrule existed and still exists, and that as long as it does exist the East cannot be pacified. I believe it cannot be terminated except by pressure. There are four kinds of pressure which might have been applied. England might have acted by herself; Russia might act by herself; England might have joined Russia; and, lastly, the European Powers might have acted in concert. Well, I have never been in favour of England acting by herself or of her joining Russia. We owe duties to our own enormous Empire and to Europe, and there would have been great danger to the peace of Europe if we had waged war against Turkey or joined any other Power in doing so. The danger is great now from what Russia has done; but it would have been greater in the case I am supposing. We must not imagine that other nations look at these matters in the same way as the right hon. Gentleman or other hon. Members. They look at them from the point of view of their own interest. The union between Austria and Hungary has hardly yet been confirmed; the wounds inflicted between Germany and France are not yet healed; and it would not have been wise of our Government or of any Government to incur the responsibility of drawing the sword even in so good a cause as that of aiding the oppressed subjects of the Porte, considering the present position of Europe. But had there been European concert the danger would have been minimized. I think that concert has been possible. It was possible at the time of the Andrassy Letter, at the time of the Berlin Memorandum, and especially at the time of the Conference. I deeply regret that Her Majesty's Go- vernment did not advocate that policy, because I believe the Porte would have yielded to the pressure of united Europe; but I am quite aware there would have been danger attending it. We could not have made a threat of war without being prepared to carry it into effect; and even though Turkey had yielded, there would have been danger in a partnership with the other Powers in interference in her internal government. I am not surprised the Government felt that danger; but the danger attending this war is still greater, and it would have been better if they had run the risk. Now, however, that war has begun, the circumstances of the case, as it seems to me, are completely altered. My right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich alludes in his Resolutions to the Protocol of 1826. But that is not a parallel case. The European concert for establishing the independence of Greece was arrived at six months before the declaration of war by Russia, and by the time war broke out Mr. Canning was dead. My right hon. Friend proved the sincerity of his opinions by the eloquent appeal with which his speech concluded—an appeal which will be read as long as our Parliamentary history endures, and which thrilled not only this House, but the country at large. But the right hon. Gentleman prefaced that magnificent appeal with some words with which I could not entirely agree. He said there were two mighty controversies—the controversy between Russia and Turkey, and the controversy between Turkey and her revolted subjects, and that, in his opinion, the latter was the deeper and more important. Certainly, the controversy between Turkey and her revolted subjects is that which most excites our sympathies, but to my mind it cannot be deemed the most important. There is no denying that, however mixed the motives may be which have led to it, this war between two great Empires is one of intense importance. It is a war between two races and between two religions; and it is a war which is certain to be waged with intensity and vigour. It is a fearful war. A settlement of the question by means of a concert of the Great Powers might have been possible before war was declared; but it seems to me that under the actual circumstances we are driven into a position of neutrality, and must be content to wait till some opportunity of mediation presents itself. We must stand by and see this war fought out unless we are either prepared to overwhelm Turkey by joining Russia or to call upon Russia to stop, in order that Europe may interfere. Turning to the two Resolutions before us, it seems to me that the Government ought to welcome them. They will, no doubt, be rejected by the House by a considerable majority; but, however great may be the majority by which they may be so rejected, there will be no majority, I am sure, in the country or in the House against their real spirit. I believe that on both sides of the House, deeply as we have been excited about this question, and whatever may have been our prepossessions, there is really a general concurrence of opinion. I believe that an enormous majority in this House and in the country are in favour of absolute neutrality as between Turkey and Russia. I believe we are all of us determined to protect British interests, should those interests be really menaced and imperilled. I believe a large majority of us are also determined that we will not sacrifice the money of our constituents or the blood of our soldiers in waging a war under the influence of mere fanciful fears. I think I am not wrong in claiming the concurrence of the Government and of Members who support them when I say that we do not forget that England has a duty as well as an interest; and that the best and truest way to promote her interest is to perform her duty. It will be the duty of the Government to use the influence of the British Crown as far as possible in the direction of mediation, whenever mediation may seem practicable. If the war comes to an end by a destruction—which is possible—of the Ottoman Government in the disturbed Provinces, it will be the duty of Her Majesty's Government to do their utmost to secure the future wellbeing of the Christian population. If, as is also possible, peace should soon be made, in consequence of Russia obtaining a success which would enable her to dictate terms, then it will be for England to see that such terms are secured as would lead to that improved government of the Christian subjects of the Porte which we all desire to see, and without which I believe a permanent peace is impossible.


said, he hoped that after these debates the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition would resume the Leadership. The noble Lord was wrong in disclaiming compliments from the Ministerial side of the House, for it would be to his personal advantage and to that of the country also that he should possess in some degree the confidence of those who were opposed to him. What the noble Lord said a month ago, that the sword, and the sword only, could clear away this Eastern Question, was equally true now. At the end of last Session there were those who said it was evident Russia was menacing Turkey, and events had justified their predictions of aggression. Three generations of Russian statesmen had been steadily pursuing the determination to seize the Black Sea and the countries that surround it, always under the plea of obtaining redress for the oppressed Christian subjects of the Porte. Fifty years ago the Duke of Wellington in a letter to Lord Aberdeen said it made him sick to hear of the Czar's desire for peace, which he could secure by offering reasonable terms to Turkey; but he was looking to the conquest and plunder of Constantinople. The events of that time were similar to the events of this. In 1854 Nicholas determined upon a great effort to overwhelm Turkey, which was defeated with our aid. After the Crimean War we were represented at Constantinople by an Ambassador of great firmness. Why was it, with Turkey in our hands, and with such a Minister at Constantinople, we did nothing to put the Turkish house in order? If that had been done the things which we had so much lamented might have been prevented. Nothing, however, had been done, and now these difficulties were upon us. It had been said that circumstances now were very different; but to him they seemed to be very similar to what they had been in 1828 and 1854. The present Emperor of Russia was a more peaceful man than Nicholas; but, unfortunately, all the acquisitions of territory had been made under this peaceful Emperor rather than under Nicholas, and all those acquisitions had been made by the sword. A traveller describing his recent visit to Central Asia said that the recent advances of Russia were marked by the gibbet and the sword. All that, it was said, was of no consequence; but he believed the present attack on Turkey would raise a very great feeling of sympathy throughout the country in favour of the Turks. The English Government had encountered great difficulties, and they had endeavoured to do three things—to preserve the peace of Europe, to keep the Russians out of Turkey, and, as far as they could, to improve the condition of the Christian population of Turkey; but in not one of these things had they received any support whatever from the other Great Powers of Europe. The policy of neutrality proclaimed by England was completely understood by the other Powers; but not a finger had been raised by any Power in Europe to give us any assistance in preserving the peace of Europe. Her Majesty's Government had a very difficult task in dealing with Russia. They had been perfectly willing to attribute no evil to a people with whom we were in friendly alliance, and he entirely disagreed with those hon. Members who said that the Government had shown hostility to Russia. On the contrary, the most generous construction had been put upon what had been done by Russia; he would go further and say that Her Majesty's Government had not been always politic in what they had done, because in the exercise of their discretion they had sometimes kept back despatches which, if given to the country, would have raised a strong counter feeling in England to that which had been raised against Turkey. But there were qualities even higher than generosity; they were truth and justice, and they compelled him to declare that the action of Russia towards Turkey had been marked by great duplicity. Was it not set forth in the despatches of Mr. Baring, and was it not perfectly well known that during the whole time the Russian Ambassador was at the Porte he was intriguing, or if not himself those who were closely associated with him were intriguing, to excite insurrection in Bulgaria? The right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) said he had read the whole of the despatches and could not discover any such intrigues. But had the right hon. Gentleman read the despatches in which it was stated that the Russian Consul at Philippopolis was instrumental in exciting rebellion, and would anyone believe that the Russian Consul in that town was not in close connection with the Russian Ambassador? The Russian Ambassador, who was protected by the laws of hospitality, was all the time he was at Constantinople engaged in raising insurrection, or his Colleagues were. As to the right hon. Gentleman's query, how it happened that the rebellion in Bulgaria had been put down by Bashi-Bazouks? if it were not so late he would bring evidence to prove that it was because the Russian Ambassador had declared that it was so trifling a matter that it was not necessary to use regular troops. When so much blame was thrown on the Turkish authorities, it ought to be remembered that some portion of the blame ought to be borne by those who had influence at the Porte preventing the regular troops from going to put down the atrocities. With reference to the despatch in which Lord Derby dealt with the punishment of the perpertators of the cruelties in Bulgaria, he could only remark that the rebellion was no doubt a most serious one, and that its success would have been fatal to Turkey. And it was also to be remembered that the offenders acted under the influence of terror and without the knowledge of the authorities. Besides, the Duke of Wellington, in one of his despatches from the Peninsula, said that it was wholly impossible to control troops moving in detachments. If English Generals were unable to control detached troops, we ought to put a charitable construction on the conduct of the Turkish Commanders and to assume that they were not responsible for the atrocities committed in Bulgaria. It would, indeed, be a great stretch of power if the Turkish Government were to punish the men who had saved the Ottoman Empire from a grave calamity and almost certain destruction. He concurred in Mr. Canning's opinion, that England ought to maintain an undeviating neutrality when nothing occurred injurious to her interests and her honour. The hon. and gallant Gentleman concluded by expressing a hope that the policy adopted by Her Majesty's Government would receive the approbation of both sides of the House, as it was most essential that the country should be united on so important a question.


confessed that when the information of the atrocities in the Turkish Provinces reached this country his sympathies were strongly against the Turks. But since that time new elements had been introduced into the Eastern Question, and it was no longer a question of merely punishing the perpetrators of those atrocities. An enormous Army had been thrown across the Turkish frontier, and Reports had been published from our Consul at Warsaw regarding the behaviour of Russia to a large class of Catholics residing within her Empire. Under those circumstances, he asked himself where should his sympathies be? He knew that two blacks did not make one white; and, therefore, it might be said because Russia had acted wrongly were they to oppose her? But the true issue was, were they to give Russia increased power to make forcible conversions? Now Russia, if successful, would have the government of the Christians in Turkey. Those Christians were divided into four classes — first, the orthodox Greek Church, which had the Czar for its head; secondly, orthodox Greeks, in communion with the Russian Church, but with a different belief as to the central authority; thirdly, the Uniacks, who, with the same ceremonies as the Greek Church, were in communion with the Roman Catholic Church; and fourthly, Roman Catholics. He found by the Returns moved for by the hon. Member for Carlow, that within a very brief period the Russians had forcibly—by flogging, torture, imprisonment, and exile—converted 1,300,000 Christians to the orthodox Greek Church, which had the Czar for its head; and he feared if she were once established at Constantinople, such conduct might be repeated on an extended scale. He knew not which was the graver trial—for these Christians to endure the occasional outbursts of ferocity from the Turks, or this steady, systematic repression of religious freedom on the part of the Russians. For that reason he could not vote for the Resolutions of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, which in some way would make him responsible for legalizing Russian aggression on religious freedom. One word with regard to British interests. It would be easy to defend the Suez Canal by our Fleet, but he doubted whether any fleet could defend Constantinople. When Admiral Duckworth was there in 1807 he was obliged to retire, because he found his retreat was being cut off by batteries on shore. Any force that controlled the land could always command the sea approaches to Constantinople. He believed that Constantinople would be in very great danger from the Russians before any debate would be renewed in that House. When Russia crossed the Balkans she was only 250 miles in a straight line, or 340 by road, from Constantinople. Ten miles a-day was not a very difficult advance for an army, and so the Russians would be 34 days only from Constantinople, once their army was fairly across the Danube. Now, how long would it take to send an English land Force to Constantinople? It was 14 days' sail from our southern ports, and it would require some time to get the men together and provide vessels for their transport. It might, therefore, at a later epoch become practically useless for us to attempt any defence of Constantinople. It might be said that the Turks would be able to retard the advance of the Russians; but the experience of 1829 showed that after they were beaten in one regular battle the Turks offered no opposition to the advance of Russia. Two enormous changes had been since then made in the situation. The first was that the Russians had really adopted railways, and this would make a great difference in their supplies and commissariat. Railways had brought Russia 700 or 800 miles nearer to Constantinople than she was formerly, while the improvements in scientific warfare being wholly in favour of the scientifically trained officers of Russia, Turkey would go down before her in every battle. He insisted that mere neutrality was not enough. It ought to be an armed neutrality; and if we did not wish to allow Russia to get to Constantinople before us, we would require to station an Army of Observation on some island, or other advantageous position, not far removed from Constantinople, so as to be prepared for immediate action on an emergency.


moved that the Debate be adjourned.


hoped the Debate would be resumed and concluded to-morrow night. The whole week would then have been spent upon it, and that was not at all too much, considering the importance of the subject. The hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) had a Motion of great importance on the Notice Paper, relating to the County Franchise, and as the hon. Member would see that it would be for the general convenience of the House that this debate should be resumed to-morrow, he hoped the hon. Member would waive his right, and allow this debate to be resumed as the First Order of the Day.


willingly gave way under the circumstances, but trusted that having done so, the Government would give him a day for the discussion of the important question of the County Franchise.


objected to the way in which the conduct of debates was arranged. In great debates like that one, unless hon. Members would stoop to beg the Whips of their Party to procure for them an opportunity, they had no chance of speaking; and the effect of that indecent system had been that in the present debate, in three nights speaking, only two of the Members who intended to support all the Resolutions of the right hon. Member for Greenwich had been able to address the House, and therefore the reports of the debates conveyed to the country a totally erroneous idea of the extent of support the right hon. Gentleman would have received had he moved the whole of his Resolutions. He deprecated any idea of the slightest supposition of anything unfair on the part of the Speaker in making his selections, but so long as lists and suggestions were permitted so long such results as he pointed out would be possible.


hoped the Government would accede in some way to the appeal of his hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs.


said, that the hon. Member for the Border Burghs would, perhaps, avail himself of the opportunity of seeking what advantages he could as a private Member. The Speakers that night had been selected with the greatest impartiality. He trusted it might be possible to finish the debate by to-morrow night, though he was afraid no understanding could be come to.


suggested that the hon. Member for the Border Burghs should endeavour to obtain a day for his Motion in the ordinary way; failing which, although in the present state of Public Business he could not give any direct pledge, the Government would recognize the claim which he would have, both on account of his giving way for the convenience of the House and of the importance of the subject of his Motion. So far as the Government was concerned, they would do all in their power to bring the debate to a close to-morrow night.

Motion agreed to.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow.