HC Deb 08 April 1878 vol 239 cc858-942

Her Majesty's Message [1st April] considered.

Message again read.


Sir, I rise to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, thanking Her Majesty for Her Most Gracious Message, which has just been read at the Table. I presume that it is quite unnecessary for me to state for the information of hon. Members what the character of the measure is which Her Majesty has been advised to take; but, in order that there may be no misapprehension on the subject out-of-doors, it may be as well to remind the House that the step which Her Majesty has been advised to take has been that of calling out, under the Acts which regulate the present system of the Army Reserve, certain portions of the Reserve Forces of the country. The House will bear in mind that that is a necessary incident of the present system of our Army Service; that instead of having, as in old times was the case, an Army recruited for long periods of service, we have now an Army which is recruited for short periods of service, and which is divided into the portion which is actually under service, and the portion in reserve, which is liable to be called out; and that when an occasion arises which, as described in the Act of 1870, is one of emergency, it is in the power of Her Majesty, whether Parliament be sitting or not, to take measures for immediately calling out the Reserve to join the ranks. When Parliament is sitting, that step is announced by Royal Message, and when Parliament is not sitting, it is announced after an Order in Council by Proclamation, and in either case it is carried into effect by Proclamation. It will be understood, of course, that in taking such a step, it is not intended on the part of Her Majesty or Her Advisers to alarm the country by stating that there is any emergency such as might arise in any moment of great national peril. It is not, for instance, an emergency of the character which arose when the Army of the First Napoleon was encamped upon the heights of Boulogne, and when an invasion of this country was threatened. Nor is it such an emergency as that which arose when our Armies were called out to hasten to India to suppress the Indian Mutiny. But it is an emergency of such a character as renders it desirable in Her Majesty's opinion that Her Army should be put upon a footing which permits of it being made use of, if necessary, without delay. Now, it is obvious that, supposing the services of the Army, which is maintained on the footing that is necessary for the discharge of its duties in time of peace—supposing it is necessary that the Army so organized should be called into active service, it is obvious the necessity would very speedily arise for supplying the demands of those portions of Her Forces which Her Majesty might be advised to send abroad, and that that could only be done in one of two, or perhaps I might say three, ways. It might be done by recruiting. To bring in raw recruits would take some time, and when brought in, they would be of comparatively little value if hastily called out; or it might be done by taking men from one regiment to strengthen another, which would be greatly to the disadvantage of the former regiment; or, thirdly, it might be done by the system now established by the wisdom of Parliament—that of calling out the Reserves which are available for such occasions. Well, Sir, it is with the view of so mobilizing the Army of this country that this step has been taken by the Government and the Crown, and it is a measure very similar to, and should be treated in the same spirit as, the measures taken when the Vote of Credit was passed by this House. At that time we asked for a Vote of Credit in order that we might be supplied with the means of moving, if necessary, an Army Corps, and that we might have all the materials necessary for the service of an Army Corps, if its services should be required. If we did not at that time ask for an addition to the number of men in the Army—and it was remarked that we did not do so—it was because it was known that we had these Reserves to fall back upon, and that we could easily and quickly avail ourselves of them if occasion should arise. Sir, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, that occasion has now arisen, and it is necessary that the Reserves should be called out, not in any sense as a measure of war, but simply as a measure of precaution, in order that if occasion should arise, we may quickly avail ourselves of the services of the Army, and that there should be no delay or difficulty in making any of the necessary arrangements. It may be asked why at this moment we should think it necessary to take such a measure of precaution as that; and it may be asked, and it has been asked by some, why, if we were content to sit quiet while the war between Russia and Turkey was proceeding, now, when that war is at an end, we should think it necessary to take measures of precaution which appeared to be superfluous during the continuance of hostilities? There were reasons why it was objectionable to take such measures while war was proceeding. Her Majesty's Government had taken up a position of neutrality during the war, and that was an attitude which it appeared to be right for them to assume on behalf of this country, and it was an attitude which they faithfully observed during the continuance of those hostilities. It was obvious that if a measure of this kind had been taken during the continuance of hostilities, it might have given occasion to both parties to believe that we were about to depart from that attitude; and, considering that the neutrality which we observed was a neutrality under certain conditions, which conditions were observed during the course of the struggle, it would have been impossible for us without apparent inconsistency to have taken measures such as those which we have since found necessary. Since the war has come to an end matters have assumed an entirely new aspect, and it has become necessary for this country to consider her position and the duty she might be called upon to discharge. The war is at an end, and the war has been concluded by the Treaty of San Stefano. Well, now, we ought to bear in mind that the whole settlement of South-Eastern Europe has rested upon Treaties to which the Great Powers of Europe, and this country among the rest, have been parties. Those Treaties have settled for many years the basis upon which the European system was to rest, and, according to which it was believed the interests of Europe, as a whole, and the interests of separate countries, might be best secured. But that system has virtually come to an end. That system has broken down, and a new one must be put in its place; and it becomes necessary for this country to consider what the new system should be. The Treaty of Paris has been virtually set aside, and it is proposed to substitute the Treaty of San Stefano for it. But, if that is the case, if the Treaty of San Stefano is to be made the basis of the future European system, it is necessary that those Powers who are interested in the maintenance of European peace, and in the various matters which affect the settlement of what has been included in all those arrangements which were the subjects of the Treaties of 1856 and 1871, should take counsel and consider what is the nature of the settlement to which they are asked to be parties. And this country, among others, must claim, and does claim, that she should have a voice in the settlement of those Treaties which are now to be put aside and the other Treaties which are to be put in their place, that we may know what the arrangements are which we are called upon to agree to. We approach this question in no mere narrow desire to guard the peculiar interests of our own country alone. It is our desire to consult the general welfare of Europe, of which this country is a component part and a very important part. We have interests which are, more or less, separate and peculiar to ourselves; but we have, above all, interests in which others are equally sharers—interests in the maintenance of peace, interests in the maintenance of good government in countries which it is most undesirable should be exposed to insurrections and disturbances, and interests in the fair, full, and free development of the different nationalities and different elements of which those countries are composed. It is impossible that all the questions arising out of a settlement of this kind can be dealt with at all, or dealt with satisfactorily, unless the nations of Europe, meeting in free, open, and unreserved discussion, are enabled to take a general view of all that is proposed by way of settlement, not only to consider each individual article of the proposed Treaty, but to consider the Treaty as a whole, and in its bearing on every party to the Congress. That is the sort of Conference to which we consider Europe is invited, and to which we desire, at all events, she should come. It has been said by some that England is throwing obstacles in the way of the assembling of a Conference. There is nothing more untrue than that England is in any way throwing obstacles in the way of a Conference. What England desires above all is the opening of a free Conference—of a Conference that will be able and willing to undertake the settlement of these great matters, What we do object to above all things is the opening of an unreal Conference—of a Conference which would feel itself in some way or other tied or hampered in approaching the settlement of questions, which are all cardinal questions and cannot be passed over. We should feel it was a serious evil, and a very great cause of danger to Europe, if we should find ourselves in a Conference from which, in consequence of the mode in which it was conducted, we should find it necessary to withdraw. "We should feel it to be a still greater evil if we found ourselves in a Conference in which great questions were opened, but were smothered over with ambiguous phrases and terms which might be construed in one way by one and in another way by another, and which left open dangerous questions, and left untouched the seeds of future wars and disturbances. We desire that there should be no ambiguity in what we are about. We desire that we should be allowed to go into this Conference with full and free powers to discuss what is to be the future charter of Europe as regards all that portion of the Continent, and that we should do that with the full and free understanding beforehand that there should be no let or hindrance to our proceeding in that way. I think it is altogether unmeaning to find fault with Her Majesty's Government, as being over-particular or over-susceptible with regard to the phraseology that is to be used in settling the terms upon which the Conference is to meet. Undoubtedly, we should be guilty of a most gross violation of duty, if we were to allow any question of phraseology or any point of vanity to prevent our taking part in a great, substantial, and beneficial settlement. But in these matters, words are things, and it is of the highest importance that we should be clear as to our words—that we should be clear, at all events, as to the meaning to be attached to them. We know what evil consequences might arise from a misunderstanding. I have myself known the evil consequences which have sometimes arisen from being too ready to accept an understanding which never, after all, was understood to be an understanding. I can remember cases—I do not wish to make more special reference to them—in which, even in diplomatic transactions, difficulties have arisen subsequently, because there was too much readiness to endeavour not to see a difficulty, and to assume an understanding when understanding has not been arrived at. We ought to take warning from cases of that kind. There should be no possibility of a misunderstanding arising in the Conference to which we and Europe are now invited, and we believe that it is for the interests, not of ourselves only, but of Europe generally, and we are convinced that it is also for the interests of Russia herself, that there should be a clear and distinct agreement between us all; and that the Conference, which, we trust, is to be held, should be a real and final one, and should not leave open those matters of which Russia, as well as others, had found the inconvenience of leaving open. The language of Russia from the beginning of this question has been pointed in that direction. When first she called attention to the difficulties arising in Turkey, the argument she advanced when, upon the failure of the Conference of Constantinople, she took up arms to enforce what could not be settled by argument—her argument was that it was impossible for her to allow the turbulence and the discontent that had been going on so many years on her immediate borders to continue, as they led to excitement among her own people and neighbours, and to that condition of things she could not submit. But if there is to be an unreal and sham Conference—an attempt to gloss over difficulties and shrink from boldly grappling with them—we should leave Russia exposed to the very danger from which she said she had suffered so much, and we shall run the risk, of course, in a very few years, of seeing the whole of these matters re-opened, and the opportunity now offered will be lost for ever. I wish most carefully to abstain in anything I may say from using language that can be regarded as in the slightest degree irritating or offensive to a great country like Russia. There is no question whatever that Russia has gone through a struggle, has made sacrifices, and has endured suffering which entitle her to great consideration, and entitle her to claim that what she says should be listened to with attention, and that due allowance should be made for feelings that naturally are engendered in a great contest of that sort. But, at the same time, we must speak frankly, and must say that we cannot permit the pretensions put forward in a Treaty like that of San Stefano to pass unchallenged, or without a most complete and searching examination. We know very well what the effect of that Treaty will be. We see that if that Treaty is allowed to pass as it is, Russia will have a complete grasp over the whole of that which has hitherto been known as the Turkish Empire. It seems that the Treaty places Russia in a position which will enable her to make use of the commanding position it gives her in such a way as may be most dangerous and most inconvenient to the general interests of the European Powers. If that settlement is acquiesced in, it cannot continue for ever. We know that difficulties and jealousies will arise, that there will be before long disturbances and quarrels, and that wars will probably break out. Then, if we look at some of the individual arrangements of the Treaty, we see there is an absence of consideration for all populations except those of Slavonic origin. Although the question of the Greeks and of the Mussulmans is partly touched upon by the Treaty, it is by no means adequately provided for; and we see that if the country is left in the position in which that Treaty would leave it, there are almost certain to be jealousies, almost certain to be heartburnings, almost certain to be insurrections and quarrels between the various nationalities which are more or less affected by it. Sir, we think it is the duty of this country to use her influence in the Councils of Europe to endeavour to have that Treaty so carefully and so fully considered, as that we may be enabled to get upon a footing that will make it more consonant with the maintenance of the European system than it at present promises to be. And in making that request—that demand—we are only asking for that which, in point, of fact, Russia has always, I believe, from the beginning of the war contemplated. We have always understood, and certainly at a comparatively early period we were distinctly informed by Russia that, after the war was over and the preliminary conditions of peace arranged, Europe would be invited to a Conference for the consideration of the final conditions of peace. That statement was made to Colonel Wellesley by the Emperor at the beginning of the month of August or the end of July last year. That is precisely what we have always felt assured would be the case, and it was in the confident assurance that it would be the case at the end of the war, that England maintained the neutrality which she had proclaimed, and which has certainly not been otherwise than beneficial to Russia. Therefore, all that we are asking that Russia should do now is that which in the month of August she said she was prepared to do—namely, that Europe should be consulted in Conference to settle the conditions of peace. And we are in hopes even now, although difficulties have arisen for the moment, that those difficulties may be but apparent, that they may be surmounted, and that we may find ourselves invited to a Conference upon what shall be a satisfactory settlement. It is, however, idle to conceal from ourselves that that is not the position at the present moment. It is idle to conceal from ourselves that—disguise it as you may, soften it as you will—Russia has not at the present time agreed to that full discussion of the Treaty of San Stefano in all its Articles in relation to their bearing on existing Treaties that we desire and that we think essential. Even now Russia may, when she considers the matter more calmly, come to a different conclusion, and may see that in making this demand upon her there is no arrière pensée on the part of England, that it is from no selfish object or desire to interfere with a proper and reasonable settlement that England is thus particular in insisting upon the terms upon which alone she will go into a Conference; but that it is with a sincere wish to enter into a settlement which shall be beneficial to Europe as well as to Russia as a part of Europe. I am sure, at all events, that the sentiment of Europe is in accord with the sentiment of Her Majesty's Government, and that Europe desires to see an end put to these great and disadvantageous distractions. I am satisfied that the voice of Europe is entirely in accord with us in a desire for the settlement of the Eastern Question upon a broad and—as far as anything human can be called final—a final basis. It desires to see a Conference entered upon which should seriously treat every Article by itself, and also every Article in relation to the whole. It is absurd to say that——"You can treat one Article by itself, and as this is a matter which relates only to the interests of Russia and Austria, let Russia and Austria settle it, and we have nothing to do with it. Here, again, is an Article that relates to the interests of Russia and England, let Russia and England settle it between themselves and let the other Powers stand aside. Here, again, is an Article that relates simply to the interests of Russia and Turkey, let Russia and Turkey arrange it together, and let the other Powers stand aside." It may be that one Article may more especially affect one country and another Article may more especially affect another country. But to leave the consideration of the whole out of the case—to leave the consideration of the general effect of a Treaty which involves these Articles on one side would be to leave the whole matter open to danger and unsettlement. Probably a partial settlement may be made here and another partial settlement there; and in that way separate interests are created and separate feelings are aroused which may make joint action more impossible. In these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government must continue to press for the condition which they have insisted upon. We believe that we may be successful; but if it be not so, at all events it is our duty to consider what are the special and peculiar interests of England; and if we are denied the advantage of taking part in a general European settlement such as we desire, it is the paramount duty of those who are charged with the administration of affairs in this country to see that the interests of England should take no damage. The House knows as well as we do—because it has been repeated over and over again—that it is a cardinal point of our policy to maintain the integrity of the Empire, to maintain the communications between its different parts. They know that we look to the maintenence of our communications with India and with the East; that we desire to establish ourselves on such a footing that there should be no danger either of the interruption of those communications or of such a threatening of our position as may cause them embarrassment or difficulty. I do not go into the minute questions of routes and lines of invasion and attack. I, for one, am as well disposed to think lightly of them as anyone in this House. I have, indeed, often agreed with what my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney (Mr. Laing) has said with reference to particular lines of possible attack on or invasion of India. But, on the other hand, we have not been able to conceal from ourselves the moral effect which might be produced on our position in India from changes that might be made. We have not been able to conceal from ourselves the effect that possible changes might have on the routes and communications that are now kept open to our Eastern Dominions. And it is our duty to be prepared, if, unfortunately, occasion should require it, to defend by our own right hands, and our own means, the communications which we think essential. Although I am obliged to use words of that sort to justify the position which we might have to take, I trust that no occasion of that kind will arise. I trust that the spirit which has animated this country, and which has manifested itself throughout these transactions, will continue to the end and will bring its reward with it. Whatever may have been our feelings of anxiety and of uneasiness during some of these transactions, we have invariably endeavoured to follow one rule, and one rule only—namely, to ask ourselves on each occasion which was the right and the proper course for us to pursue. We have endeavoured to do that which is right, and to leave the issue to a higher Power. We maintained an attitude of neutrality during the great struggle which has been going on, because we felt it was a war in which we should not have been justified, and in which the feeling of the country would not have justified us, in taking a part. We have now endeavoured not to take any selfish line in that which remains before us. But we stand up and assert, with full confidence in the energy, the courage, the resources, and the patriotism of this people, that we shall be able—and that we are as determined as we are able—to maintain the interests of our Empire if those interests should be threatened. The policy which prompts the step which has been taken by Her Majesty's Government on the occasion which has now brought us together is the same policy which led Her Majesty's Government to call on Parliament some few months ago for support by means of the Vote of Credit, which Parliament granted with such very decided approbation, and with so marked an effusion of patriotism. I believe that the same spirit which prevailed then will prevail now. We believe it is a spirit as far as possible removed from a desire to provoke or to cause war; but it is a spirit of determination to stand by our rights, and to stand by our duty. That spirit, reflected as it will be by both Houses of Parliament, I trust, in the course of this evening, is a spirit which I believe will go far to secure both the rights of England in time of peace, and also to maintain her credit in the eyes of Europe and the world.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty, thanking Her Majesty for Her Most Gracious Message communicating to this House Her Majesty's intention to cause the Reserve Force, and the Militia Reserve Force, or such part thereof as Her Majesty should think necessary, to be forthwith called out for permanent service."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)


My first duty, Sir, is to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) for having kindly waived the precedence to which he was entitled as the Mover of an Amendment. I have also to express my thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) for a similar act of kindness. Their indulgence enables me to state the course that I individually intend to take, and my reasons for taking it. I have listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer with this feeling. Had it been a simple exposition of the policy of the Government on his own authority given in the way of explanation, and having no Motion, no measure connected with it, and standing in no relation to other and yet more authoritative expositions of the policy of the Government, I, for my part, should have been contented either to sit silent, or, at all events, to take but a limited exception to the terms of that speech; because by far the greater portion of the sentences that have fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer were sentences such as I, for one, should not have had the smallest scruple or hesitation in using. Sir, the speech, whether in accordance with a special measure or not, was a speech introducing a Motion, and that Motion has direct reference to a measure which has been explained, not only in this House, but probably "elsewhere," by another speech, which I hope may resemble the one we have just heard. But, more authoritatively than either of these, that policy has been explained by a despatch which has received the approval and sanction of Her Majesty's Government, and which has gone abroad as an authentic commentary on the measure they have adopted. ["Hear, hear!"] lam glad that the proposition I utter is so freely recognized on the other side of the House. In these circumstances, it is not possible for me to confine myself to the limited observations which the speech of the Leader of the House alone need have drawn forth. It is necessary to consider the situation, not only in connection with the measure proposed to us, but in connection with what has preceded it, with what may follow it, and especially with what accompanies it—namely, the declaration of policy contained in the despatch of Lord Salisbury. At the same time, while claiming that right, and exercising that duty—for, as my right hon. Friend says, our rights and our duties are inseparably associated, both nationally and individually—I have no intention of asking the House, by a Motion in the nature of an Amendment, to contest the Address which my right hon. Friend has proposed. We have had past opportunities of declaring our opinion by our votes upon what I may call the military policy of Her Majesty's Government; future opportunities will occur to us when the Government submits to us the Supplementary Estimates required by their military measure; and, undoubtedly, where there is a choice, the reply to a Message received from the Crown does not offer the occasion most desirable and most appropriate upon general grounds for raising an issue to be decided by a division. If that be so, I have the further satisfaction of admitting that as the speech of my right hon. Friend was undoubtedly the very mildest speech which, in connection with the measure which he has proposed, it would have been possible for him to deliver, so that Message is the very mildest Message that, for the purpose which it had in view, it was possible to frame. I was very glad when I saw, after the ominous declarations which we have heard elsewhere about a restoration of the balance of power in the East, which appeared to me, if they had a real meaning, to point to the building up again of that fabric of iniquity—the Ottoman Empire—that no allusion to this subject was made in the Message. Her Majesty has been pleased to assure us that she has called out Her Reserves, and that she makes her communication to us, in the interests of peace. I am quite certain that even if there had been something equivocal in the attachment of the Government, or of any Member of the Government, to peace, that the Government could never have advised that these words should be put into the mouth of Her Majesty without intending to convey to her Parliament and her people by the use of these words a strong and solemn assurance. I will, therefore, Sir, neither move any Amendment, nor can I recommend any Friend who may look to my advice that any Amendment should be made upon this occasion, or that when the question is put from the Chair, any issue should be raised. I frankly own that, in so doing, I am making no boon to right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite. I know perfectly well, in addition to the reason which I have just given, that it is not in my power, by means of any Amendment that I might move or support, to check effectually upon the instant the military policy of which I so much disapprove. That is the position in which I, for one, stand in reference to the present debate, and I hope that I have made it sufficiently clear. I will now proceed to state the views I take of the measure of Her Majesty's Government, and likewise of the important document—the too important document—in which the grounds of that measure have been explained by the Foreign Secretary. I cannot admit, with my right hon. Friend, that what the Act of Parliament describes as a great emergency, has arisen in the present case. I observe, that by an omission on his part—unintentional, no doubt—he speaks not of a great emergency, but of an emergency; while the language of the Statute is not an emergency, but a great emergency. This is a question of the utmost importance and moment. Our Queen rules over an Empire, and our fellow-subjects are concerned in an Empire, not, like other Empires, limited to one part of the globe, but so spread and distributed over all its surface that no great disturbances can anywhere arise without raising questions of serious concern for the British Empire. If we are to give a lax construction to this Act of Parliament—which I believe contemplated the use of the phrase, and I may speak as one of those responsible for its selection and its application in that cautious and reserved manner which has been the habit of former Ministers in former times—we may change its real meaning; and it is most important to consider how often we may be in the unhappy predicament of having a great urgency alleged by the Government for calling out the Reserve Forces; and, I am sorry to add, whatever be the intention, and whatever the re-assuring character of the speech of my right hon. Friend, thereby disquieting the world, I can only say that within the last 12 or 15 years there have been at least three occasions upon which, in my opinion, if this be a great emergency, the principle of great emergencies might have been applied. Of course, I am aware that not till the year 1870 the present words were introduced into the Act; but that is not my point. My point is that if the circumstances now existing in the East constitute a great emergency, I have known within the last 12 or 15 years, at least, three occasions which, in my judgment, would likewise have to be contemplated as great emergencies if similar cases occurred in the future. I, therefore, wish to see what would be the significance of this interpretation of the terms should the course of events in the future be marked as it has been in the past, and as it must be from time to time by the re-occurrence of disturbances in various parts of the world. Most certainly it would have been a great emergency when, by the American War, 2,000,000 of our population had the bread taken out of their mouths, and were reduced to starvation or charity. Most certainly it would have been a great emergency when, at the time of the Franco-German War, a treacherous document was discovered, of which, naturally, no man has been eager to claim the paternity—I mean the instrument, not so much known or so much remembered as it ought to be, for the partition of Belgium and the absorption of a free country, and the suppression of its independence—a country which has offered an example of free government, combined with order, to every country in Europe. I will say, again, that the occasion of the Danish War would have been à fortiori a great emergency, if the present circumstances constitute one; for, in that Danish War, we came nearer to military measures than Her Majesty's Government have yet gone on the present occasion. We went so far as to make a formal proposal to France, that England and France should join and say to Prussia and Austria—"You shall not settle the question of the Danish Succession except by juridical and legal means." That was a proposal which, in similar circumstances, would have been made by the present Government; for I recollect that the present Foreign Minister attacked us for not going further than we went. As Lord Robert Cecil, he expressed that view of our policy; and, therefore, when such an occasion occurs again, it might undoubtedly be for him a great emergency. I contemplate that, if we are to have a lax interpretation of this phrase, the military machinery of this country may be put into extended motion upon grounds such as are now alleged of the necessity of defending British interests, which no one has attacked—which no one has expressed any intention of attacking—and which I say, advisedly, it is against the plain and palpable interests of any one of the Powers interested in this question to attack. If, under such circumstances, we are to have a great emergency, in my opinion, within three, four, or five years, the people of this country, should this principle receive permanent sanction, may expect to have a great emergency, and, while their heart is set upon peace, to discover that they have been led almost to the brink of war. My right hon. Friend says that this measure is a measure parallel to the Vote of Credit. Permit me to say that he has not referred to the express declarations with which the Vote of Credit was introduced, and by which it was recommended by himself as well as others. We were told by the right hon. Gentleman who is now Secretary of State for War that of that Vote of Credit no portion would be required. ["No, no!"] We were told that that was his opinion. I took the words down at the time, and, if my right hon. Friend opposite is not aware of that, I am sorry that he should have to depend upon my infirm memory for the declaration of his Colleagues. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the greater part of the Vote of Credit would be restored to the Exchequer. But I do not depend so much upon that as upon the declaration which accompanied the Vote. It was proposed to enable Her Majesty's Government to go into a European Congress on an equality with the other Powers, and not, therefore, in the slightest degree with military views. But is that the language held now? On the contrary, the world has been under the belief, and we are still under the belief, notwithstanding the faint glimmer of hope to be gathered from the speech of my right hon. Friend, that it was not to enable Her Majesty's Government to go into the Congress armed with what they called a Vote of Confidence—that they have had long ago, and everything it could give them they have long ago enjoyed—but that the present proposal points undisguisedly to military preparation. Unless we are much mistaken, the measure directly contemplates an expedition beyond our own shores. Surely, therefore, I am justified in saying that the proposal now before us comes before us in a different aspect from the former, and has an advanced purpose altogether distinct from it. I believe Her Majesty's Government have wrongly advised the Crown upon the use of the words "great emergency"—words clearly intended to have reference to some great danger to the interests or the honour of the country, neither of which are in danger at the present moment. Now, Sir, I heard with great satisfaction one declaration of my right hon. Friend, and I must say it would give me a degree of pleasure I can hardly describe were it in my power to substitute the speech we have just heard for the despatch lately laid upon the Table. [A laugh.] The hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) smiles, as though I had thought of some practical proposal for that purpose, and imagined there was some Parliamentary Form through which it could be carried out. Let me suggest to the acute mind of the hon. Member that what I meant was that if I could substitute something conceived in the spirit of the speech of to-day for the despatch conceived in the spirit in which it was composed, it would give me indescribable pleasure. Sir, my right hon. Friend, for the first time, on the part of the Government, has given scope to his feelings on the subject of the Congress. He said, in substance, that it was his earnest and warmest desire to find himself honourably placed in a Conference of the Powers of Europe. All along, during these discussions, I have gathered up every crumb of comfort I could. I have never heard a syllable falling from the lips of a Member of the Government in the public interest, as it appeared to me, without endeavouring to turn it to account; and so I gladly record the words of my right hon. Friend. I believe it is to this point we should address our principal consideration to-night. I believe that the heart of the vast mass of the people of this country is set upon having such a Congress. As to having it upon honourable terms, that is a matter of course; no one would dream of having it upon any other terms. My right hon. Friend tells us—and again I thank him for it—that he has yet some hope the Congress may meet. I rejoice to receive that limited assurance in a matter of such profound and vital interest to us. Why, I ask, is it not to meet? Because, says Lord Salisbury, of the reservations laid down by Prince Gortchakoff in his most recent document—that is to say, the document in which he says that any Power may propose for discussion what it pleases, and that Russia—like any other Power, I presume—will reserve it to herself to accept or not accept the discussion. What do these words mean? Do they mean that Russia claims a title to limit the discussions of the Congress, or simply a title to limit her own share in it? These two things are essentially different. I have again and again endeavoured to obtain from the Chancellor of the Exchequer an explanation upon that point. Tonight a great portion of the speech of my right hon. Friend has been a denunciation of ambiguity. He tells me of the necessity of leaving everything clear and of not going forward blindfold. Why, then, does the Chancellor of the Exchequer decline to give me the meaning of these words? It is one thing for Russia to limit the discussions of the Congress; it is another to do that which Turkey may do, which France, Italy, England, Austria, Germany can do—that is to say, to make herself the judge of the share she should take in those discussions and in the proceedings of the Congress altogether. In vain have I asked whether the Russian Minister intends to claim the right of withdrawal, which every Power possesses, or the right of veto, which no Power possesses? If the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that the latter was the power claimed, it would be something gained in the way of clearness; but that explanation was steadily withheld in the answer the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave me across the Table. I endeavoured to find out whether the Government were willing or not to give consideration to the German proposals for a preliminary Meeting of the Powers. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says it is most important to have a clear understanding before we enter the Congress. If so, why do the Government refuse the German proposal? If they want a clear understanding, why do they limit it to themselves and Russia? The German Government have pointed out to Her Majesty's Government the right and sound and common-sense way of proceeding. Why can they not in some shape or way meet by their Ministers or Plenipotentiaries, as was done at Vienna, and clear away all ambiguities before the Congress assembles? What is the use of controversies carried on by telegram in brief sentences, showing how curtly men can write, and showing, too, that they are not men accustomed to carry on such proceedings in a manner calculated to lead to a satisfactory result? Why not, I say, meet together to consider your doubts and misgivings, and contrive to find out what you can of the general sentiment? If you settle the matter with Russia, another Power may find out some other ambiguity, and enter into the same angry—perhaps, that is too strong a word; but, at any rate, not very good-humoured or friendly—correspondence on the subject. We have set ourselves up as the organs of, and the substitutes for, Europe. We call out for the rights of Europe, and we call out justly for the rights of Europe against Russia, and we will not allow her to compromise them; but we make ourselves the judges of what Europe ought to require before going into Congress. ["No, no!"] No! If you do not, then meet before the assembling of the Congress the Representatives of the Powers, and determine what the method of procedure should be. That is the way, as it appears to me, that doubt and ambiguity may best be got rid of. I never heard sounder doctrine on that point than what the Chancellor of the Exchequer laid down; but, all through, it appeared to me a severe criticism on the letter in which the British Government told the German Government that it saw no benefit to be derived from a preliminary discussion with the Powers on this point. Sir, some of the proceedings of Her Majesty's Government I have had occasion to notice—included in the speech of my right hon. Friend and the Message under consideration. I observe with very great pleasure the promise given by Her Majesty's Government to the Kingdom of Greece, which obviously was a promise, not to the Kingdom of Greece in its isolated and separate capacity, but the Kingdom of Greece as the natural, although informal, representative of the Hellenic race beyond that Kingdom. Before saying anything in a hostile sense in reference to the despatch of Lord Salisbury, let me say, with pleasure, one word upon an important part of it. As long as I can I will cling to the belief that the definition of policy towards the end of the despatch is one which contemplates truly British objects. I refer to the definition which states that the true policy must be one to secure "good government, assured peace, and freedom" for the populations living in the Christian Provinces of the Porte. There is, indeed, one passage which might excite alarm in Turkish quarters, if the construction which it seems to me to bear be the right one. It is that which refers to "the Government of Constantinople," and which has caused a great deal of attention. About the middle of page 4, it will be found that the noble Marquess is taking objection to the Treaty of San Stefano, as threatening almost the entire subordination of the political independence of the Government of Constantinople. I, for one, have never seen that phrase used before. I have heard of "the Ottoman Porte," "the Sublime Porte," "the Sultan," "the Padishah," "the Turkish Government," and so forth, but never of "the Government of Constantinople"—a phrase which seems to me to disassociate the possession of Constantinople from all connection with the Sultan and with the Turkish race. I make no comment on the phrase beyond calling attention to it. Its use may have been accidental; but it has drawn attention, and it may or may not have considerable signification. I view, as I have said, the definition of policy with satisfaction, and I have no greater desire than to assist Her Majesty's Government by any feeble efforts I can make in the prosecution of the policy so defined. What I feel in regard to the Government is this, and I am speaking of them as a whole—I do not speak of the Prime Minister—is that we cannot reconcile their different proceedings. They appear to me to move to-day in one direction, and tomorrow in another; so much so, that whenever, for a long while past, anything has happened that has given pleasure, I have said—"Oh, let us take care; tomorrow there will be something different;" and, whenever, on the other hand, something has happened that has created apprehension and alarm, I have said—"Probably, in the course of a few days, it will be balanced by something of a better character." I will now give the reasons for this difficulty which I have felt. With regard to our position to-night, I must ask the House to enter with me into a short retrospect. I am not going back to any former discussions on the Eastern Question, nor to the period when the present Eastern Question arose, but only to that portion of the present transaction which has occurred within the last four or five months—since it has been clear that Turkey must succumb in the war. I hope the House and the country will recognize over how very much ground we have travelled during that period of a few months. At times, various causes have led to great apprehension—painful apprehension, I believe, in most quarters, exulting apprehension in others, and notably in the offices of some of the London daily newspapers, which are very far from being unimportant factors in the conduct of the present question. Apprehensions prevailed a short time back tending to the idea that the country was going into a war which, as I believe, the heart of the country detests and abhors, and which, I believe, can be avoided. The country was, however, reassured by the remarkable speeches of the Earl of Derby and the Earl of Carnarvon, when they were Members of the Ministry. But, let us follow the course of events since those speeches were delivered. From that time we have been sliding onwards upon a declivity, and it is most needful for us to consider where our movements are to end. First of all, came the disappearance of the Earl of Carnarvon from the Ministry, and the disappearance produced no inconsiderable check upon the confidence of the public. Secondly, came the presence, and, at length, the abiding presence, of the British Fleet in the Sea of Marmora. It is true that in the first instance—and English Governments always strongly insist upon their own veracity, and cannot admit England to be less virtuous than any other country—we were told that the Fleet only went up for the purpose of protecting the lives and property of British subjects; and that declaration has never been recalled or qualified—the Fleet remains, and the effect of the fact on the public mind has been to bring us a step or two nearer to the precipice. Then, as soon as the Fleet was comfortably settled in the Sea of Marmora, we had the Vote of Credit for £6,000,000. That Vote was the result of an appeal from the Government; and, whatever may have been said as to its sole object being to send us into the Congress with appropriate and adequate dignity, its undoubted effect has been to produce a disposition towards, and a craving for, war. Whatever may be the self-command and moral and mental equilibrium of the people, the Executive Government of this country is nearly as absolute—and from necessity—as in a despotic country in exciting the people towards war. On all the occasions that I can recollect when we have had war, such as the great Revolutionary War of Mr. Pitt, and the Crimean War in 1853, and on occasions when we might have had war, such as the very menacing quarrel, though from a very trivial incident, that arose between us and France in 1844, respecting the Island of Tahiti, the whole bearing and energy of the country have been addressed to repressing the first movement of the martial spirit, and to endeavour to secure calm and strict peace until the time of dire necessity arises. I am bound to say that it has not been so on this occasion. I cannot refrain from saying it has not been so on the present occasion. The peaceful declarations of one Member of the Cabinet have been qualified or have been overruled by declarations of another kind from the Prime Minister, or from other quarters. Therefore, Sir, partly from that, and partly from the special cause I have mentioned, I feel that has tended to bring us nearer to a warlike frame of mind. Then came the rupture of the Congress negotiations—that was another step in the same direction, which I hope the speech of to-night may do something to redress; and then came the disappearance of Lord Derby—another important step; for now two men were gone from the Cabinet upon whom, both for their disposition and their firmness, the hopes of the country had been, if not exclusively, yet principally, placed. Now comes the calling out of the Reserves; and I ask the House whether, amid the peaceful declarations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, made in terms the sincerity of which no one can doubt, we are not drifting towards war? "Drifting" is a phrase which has now become historical, and I contend that it is a true and accurate one to apply to the movement of the mind and temper of this people and the Government during the last four months. There remains to us this abstraction, that there is no cause for war; at least, that a great many of us have looked into the facts of the dispute, and we find that there is no cause for our going into war. I would remind the House that, in the opinion of all thoughtful men, a causeless war voluntarily incurred is one of the greatest and most abominable crimes of which a country can be guilty. Now, I must ask what effect the important despatch which has been written by the Marquess of Salisbury has had on the disposition of this country? I ask the House to consider the important character of that despatch—about some of its arguments and the character of its assertions I shall have something to say presently. But I ask the House now to consider the time at which the reproaches it contains have been produced, and have been launched at the other party in the controversy. As to the spirit of that despatch, and the spirit in which the provisions of the Treaty of San Stefano have been considered, I cannot describe them so well as they describe themselves. But that spirit is well summarized in one of the newspapers of this day, which says that— Lord Salisbury proved, in the most conclusive manner, that until either we retire altogether from India, or else obtain the mastery of the entire portion of the Globe between us and India, there will be opportunities for making a great emergency whenever the Ministry is disposed to make it. I feel that to be a correct designation of the logical argumentative triumph effected by a portion of that despatch. In that despatch I find the Congress spoken about; but not one word to show that the writer set any value on the Congress, or had any such feeling about the Congress as the Chancellor of the Exchequer describes to be his own feeling. I am now going to make a charge, which, as I see the Secretary of State for India is making notes, I beg he will note. I shall endeavour to make myself perfectly clear, and I crave the indulgence of the House when I say that I intend to charge Lord Salisbury's despatch with misstatements. I do not doubt that these misstatements have been committed involuntarily; but, at the same time, I do not think they are creditable to the Foreign Minister of this country. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen may cry "Oh, oh!" but I would ask them, are misstatements creditable? I disapprove of certain statements in the despatch, and all I ask is that hon. Gentlemen who disagree with me should listen to my proof. After having done that, they may, if they like, rise in their places, and, if they think fit, attempt to disprove what I may say. But, to pass on—what says the despatch upon the important question of the choice of a Prince of Bulgaria? It says—"Bulgaria is to be subjected to a Ruler whom Russia will practically choose." But what says the San Stefano Treaty? Can anyone believe that a Secretary of State should have made this assertion, when there is nothing in the Treaty which secures to Russia as a separate Power the right of choosing this Ruler of Bulgaria? The stipulations of the Treaty on this head are three in number, and they are to be found in Article VII. In the first place, this Prince of Bulgaria is to be freely elected by the people. His election is to be confirmed by the Porte, and that with the assent of the other Powers. I put it to Parliament, whether those being the stipulations of the Treaty, they think it candid or honourable to state as a result of the terms of the Treaty that a Prince of Bulgaria is to be one whom Russia will practically choose? If the case were reversed—if we had been making these stipulations for the choice of a Ruler of Bulgaria, and we had provided for the free election by the people, and confirmation by the Porte, and confirmation by all the Powers of Europe in the final arrangement, I should like to know what would be thought if Prince Gortchakoff had said that the Prince of Bulgaria would be a Ruler who would be practically chosen by England? We should not have allowed it to be said, because by the Treaty it would have appeared different. The next misstatement I have to notice is, perhaps, not quite equal in importance to that I have just pointed out; but I think it is worth noticing, because it is most inequitable. It is most important, in conducting diplomatic controversies of this kind, which may affect the peace of the world, that every statement should be equitably made. What is said in this despatch with regard to the Christian Provinces other than Bulgaria? It states that the laws by which they are to be governed are to be framed under the supervision of the Russian Government. That is the whole description given of the provisions of the Treaty for framing the regulations for the government of any Province. But what does the Treaty say? Turn to Article XV. It deals first with the question of Crete. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that in that Article, the Russian negotiator, whoever he may be, appears to have had it in mind to pay a special compliment to Her Majesty's Government, by following out the organic Law of 1868 for Crete, which was framed with the approval, and with the large participation, of the Party opposite. That was a very defective law indeed. The Russians have cut down that law lower than they ought to have done in justice to the Christian population of Crete, for the purpose, evidently, to soothe and conciliate Her Majesty's Government. They have, however, I must say, improved upon the Treaty of 1868, for they have not said simpliciter that the basis shall be the Law of 1868; but they have likewise introduced the previously expressed wishes of the population, which are also to be taken into account. Well, now comes something else. With regard to the other Provinces—Thessaly, Epirus, &c.—the Treaty says there are to be analogous arrangements. How are they to be made? They are to be made by special Commissions—Commissions appointed by the Porte, with the Native element largely represented. The plans are to be submitted to the Porte, and the Porte is to consult Russia before carrying them into effect. Those are the terms. The organic Law of Greece is the basis. A special Commission is to be framed by the Porte, in which the Native element is to be largely represented; the plans are to be submitted to the Porte, and the Porte to consult Russia before carrying them into effect. Then, is it a fair description of that state of arrangements to say the plans shall be framed under the supervision of the Russian Government? Is that a method of proceeding, or a method of description, that any one of you would follow with his friend in a private contract? Would you adopt such a mode of proceeding with a friend? I call it a contentious mode of proceeding. I will not call it attorneyism, because none but the meanest of attorneys would have adopted it. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh at that statement. I am sorry that they should do so, because I am not aware that this is a subject for ridicule, and I do not know that the hon. Members who laugh have done much to elucidate this question. I am doing my best to do so, and by the course they are taking they are making my task more difficult than it need be, and therefore I must request their forbearance while I continue my observations. Now I go on to what follows in this despatch. It is stated in the portion of the despatch which follows the portion to which I have just referred, that the Treaty contains engagements for the protection of the members of the Russian Church. In the first place, the members of the Russian Church are nowhere mentioned in the Treaty. Certain members of the Russian Church undoubtedly are mentioned, they being the ecclesiastics, clerks, pilgrims, including the monks of the three communities of Mount Athos, who are of Russian origin. The members of the Russian Church number some 60,000,000, whereas the members of the Russian Church living in the Southern Provinces cannot number more than 200,000 at the outside; while those in Turkey itself cannot exceed 2,000. This is a perfect sample of the ordinary stipulation made by one Power in treaty with another to secure immunities for its subjects—those known as the most favoured nations—immunities for its subjects when away in the territory of that other Power. I ask whether there is any other Article, however treated, besides Article XXII., to which Lord Salisbury alludes. I ask whether the Government are aware, or if the Secretary of State for India is aware, of any other Article? I do not wish to take up the time of the House unnecessarily. Then, if you cannot find, I cannot find any Article except Article XXII., and I think I hardly can be wrong. I do not wish to impute gross carelessness in a document without examination, and therefore I wish to feel the ground under me. The despatch of Lord Salisbury goes on to say that the Treaty contains engagements for the protection of members of the Russian Church. I have shown that that is a most improper phrase, for the words cannot be more limited in their scope than those in the Articles of the Treaty of Kainardji, which were the foundation of the Russian terms of 1854, and which were put an end to by the Treaty of Paris of 1856. If my opinion be a unanimous opinion or not, when I see a grave official statement of this character upon a matter so important as that Russia had endeavoured to dispose of the whole Treaty of Kainardji, not more limited in their scope, and suggesting that they were even more limited, I read those words with the greatest pain. Why, Sir, the Russians must have been doing some act of madness in inserting such stipulations as these in the Treaty. But what is the fact? The Treaty has nothing whatever to do with the Treaty of Kainardji. The Foreign Secretary cannot have read the Treaty of Kainardji, and no Member of the Government can have read it. There is a clause in the Treaty of Kainardji as to the Russian subjects. That was not the important clause of the Treaty of Kainardji. It was that which gave the Russian Emperor the right of requiring that the Sultan should protect the Churches of whatever denomination through the length and breadth of his Empire. It was on the Treaty of Kainardji that the Emperor of Russia founded the exorbitant claim which led to the Crimean War; and when there is not one solitary syllable in the Treaty before us to that effect, the Foreign Secretary of England, in the name of his Government, and with the concurrence of his Government, has brought this charge against the Government of Russia when the public mind is in an inflammable state, and when, if a match were applied, mischief might be produced far beyond his or my power to calculate or to check. I beg the right hon. Gentleman will observe the statement I have made, and will reply to it. I should be very sorry if he omitted an opportunity of making a satisfactory reply. What are the principal complaints contained in this despatch? The principal are these—They refer, in the first place, to Bulgaria; in the second place, to Thessaly; in the third place, to Bessarabia; in the fourth place, to Armenia; and in the fifth place to the indemnity. Now, of these five points or complaints upon which this formidable despatch is built, the indemnity is one that does not, as appears to me, belong to the consideration of Europe, except in so far as provision is made for a commutation of the indemnity. Territorial commutation is, I think, obviously, of European concern. Bulgaria, Thessaly, Bessarabia, and Armenia, are the other counts of the indictment. As to the taking of Bessarabia from Roumania, it appears to me impossible to conceive an act more impolitic or more culpable than that spoliation would be. [Ministerial cheers.] I am heartily glad to have sympathy with the other side of the House. I entertain a very sincere and a very strong opinion with regard to that spoliation. I think it quite unworthy of Russia. It is a step suggested apparently by considerations of national vanity, and what is called prestige, to which, unfortunately, other people are apt to be subject. Considering the gallant conduct of Roumania, the aid which she rendered to Russia at a critical moment in the history of the war, I shall not believe, until I see it in a Congress of United Europe, that Russia will adhere to this proposition. It is, however, clearly a question for the consideration of United Europe, which would have a right to do what it pleased in the matter of Bessarabia. England might not have the power to ensure that little bit of Bessarabia to Roumania, but Europe has the power and ought to use it. The question, however, appears to cut a very secondary figure, indeed, in the despatch of Lord Salisbury. I come to my last point, on which I am sorry to detain the House. I invite the attention of the Secretary of State for India. If you want to show that these stipulations endangered the peace and tranquillity of the world—that you must take military measures in consequence of them, why did you keep your resentment shut up from the month of June, 1877? There is hardly anything in the despatch of Lord Salisbury which in the summer of last year you were not made clearly aware of. Of course, there must be provisions in a Treaty which cannot possibly be communicated in a preliminary conversation. But let me give you the facts. The first point in the indictment appears to be that connected with Bulgaria—with the grandest and noblest part of the noble work of liberation which has been done without our participation, and with our hostility and displeasure. What are the points of objection taken by Lord Salisbury to the provisions of the Treaty with regard to Bulgaria? First of all, the extent of Bulgaria. I must say a word on that by-and-bye. Gentlemen opposite will admit, though I have troubled you and taxed your patience, yet on this particular subject I have not intruded much on you within the last few weeks. The first objection taken is the extent of Bulgaria. Now, the extent to which Bulgaria will be carried was substantially made known by the Russian Government to the Government of this country on the 14th of June, 1877. It was not contained in the original Memorandum of the 8th of June, but on the 14th of June it was made known. Lord Salisbury objects to the control Russia is exercising. I perfectly agree it would be very much better if you would make it a joint control as far as possible, but the completion of the work must appertain in a great degree to Russia. It has grown out of the necessities of the case, and it is impossible for Russia absolutely to withdraw without making some provision for the time during which the military occupation is to continue. The army of occupation, again, Lord Salisbury objects to, but an armed occupation was distinctly announced to the British Government on the 7th of August, 1877. It was distinctly stated that there must be an army of occupation in Bulgaria. And then, lastly, he makes complaints with reference to Armenia and other Provinces, and Constantinople. I agree that is a very fair subject for consideration at the Conference; but there are two sides to it, and there are also two sides to the question of the extent of Bulgaria. At the same time, I do not recollect to have seen a map of the Bulgaria proposed at the Conference of Constantinople, but I am inclined to believe that that Bulgaria was not materially different from the Bulgaria against which Lord Salisbury now brings this heavy indictment. Thessaly is another subject of complaint, but you were informed about the proceedings as to Thessaly on the 8th of June last year. The Emperor of Russia stated that the best possible regulations would be made for its regular administration, and that the European Powers should be parties to those regulations. How could he stipulate on the part of the European Powers what arrangements they would make for the government of Thessaly? This lamentable idea of the detachment of Bessarabia from Roumania was distinctly conveyed to you on the 8th of June—nine months ago. Armenia is another subject of horror and alarm, and forms a great count in Lord Salisbury's indictment. Now, I am determined not willingly to deviate from justice in this matter. I know what it costs a man if he makes a proposition. The cost of making any proposition is that a man is to have it cast in his teeth at the end of a long life by men of authority and rank as a Russian agent. I know that. Yet, in the face of that, I say here and now that as far as I can form an opinion—it may be erroneous or not—the stipulations of the Treaty of San Stefano in regard to Armenia are fair and moderate. But, whether they are fair and moderate or not, I can show that Her Majesty's Government were made privy to the whole of those stipulations which form the entire basis of the late inflammatory despatch of Lord Salisbury. How were they received by Her Majesty's Government in June, and again in August? Did they then consider that they threatened permanently to disturb the East, to set the several populations by the ears, to endanger the Suez Canal, and, in fact, to throw a vast portion of the globe in confusion? If so, why was there not a word of warning given? There is not one syllable of the kind in the despatches of Her Majesty's Government. Let us see how these terrible proposals of Russia were received by the Government. It is important in this controversy to bear in mind that Russia at the present time has concluded with Turkey—when within a few miles of Constantinople—a peace which, with, the exception of the indemnity, is substantially the same, is based substantially on the same terms, as Russia announced to our Government in June and again in August, when the battle raged on nearly equal terms and before she had crossed the Balkans. I must say, I think, that in the case of Bessarabia Her Majesty's Government ought to have warned Russia. On some occasions they have said too much; on this occasion I think they said too little. There are objections to be taken to the Treaty of San Stefano, and it would have been a friendly thing on their part to have indicated to Russia that it would be their duty to object to some of those terms. However, on the 9th of June, a despatch was sent to Lord Augustus Loftus without one word of blame or of warning against those stipulations. I will make good what I say; I will show how these terrible propositions of Russia were received by Her Majesty's Government. I have heard Her Majesty's Government blamed for not publishing them in time, but I confess they could not have published them in time. There were objections to be taken to the Treaty of San Stefano, and that happened on more than one point, and it would have been a friendly act if Her Majesty's Government had indicated to Russia the probability that it would be their duty to object. They, however, indicated no such probability. On the 11th of June, Lord Derby wrote, saying he refrained at present from expressing any opinion on the terms proposed by Russia. A despatch was also sent in June to Mr. Layard with those terms without the least reprobation of them. In that instance I must say I think Mr. Layard might, if you had let him, have been of some use to the Government, because Mr. Layard wrote back the thunder and lightning despatches on this subject which figure in the Papers before us. On the 18th of June, Lord Derby says he does not understand that any expression of opinion upon the terms is asked from Her Majesty's Government. Lord Derby saw nothing in them to make it his duty to consult his Colleagues upon them. He only remarked that, under the circumstances, it was hardly to be expected that the Turkish Government would accept them. In July, when he had got all these dreadful propositions of Russia—all these horrible schemes for aggrandizement and absorption in his hands, Lord Derby writes that— Her Majesty's Government receive with much satisfaction the statement that the Emperor has authorized Colonel Wellesley to say that he was ready to treat for peace if the Sultan would make suitable propositions. Her Majesty's Government knew perfectly well then what the Emperor meant by suitable propositions, and they expressed their great satisfaction at hearing this. In the next paragraph Lord Derby said that— Her Majesty's Government will be ready to use their influence in concert with the other Powers to induce the Porte to terminate the present disastrous war by acceding to such terms as, while they were honourable to Russia, would yet be such as the Sultan could accept. But if the terms they had in their hands were in themselves mischievous and bad, was it right, was it natural, was it honourable, to keep the knowledge and description of them locked up in their own breasts, and never to give Russia any intimation of it? I charge the Government with no dishonourable motive in the suppression or omission of this information. My own impression is that at that time Her Majesty's Government probably thought these two things—first, that before long Russia, after all, must, in all likelihood, succeed; and, secondly, that, subject to discussion and adaptation in detail, the demands which Russia had sketched out were not unreasonable. But then, the whole of Lord Salisbury's despatch rests on a totally different basis. About the 12th of August, when they learnt that the Russians were to enter upon a military occupation of Bulgaria, Her Majesty's Government wrote— That they received with satisfaction the statement made by the Emperor of the objects of the war, his disclaimer of any idea of an extended annexation, and also his readiness to enter into negotiations for peace. They expressed their dissatisfaction at his disclaiming ideas of extended annexation, when they had in their possession the official declaration from him that he meant to re-conquer the piece of Bessarabia, and meant to have territorial compensation for Armenia! These are grave facts, especially taken in conjunction with what has since followed. Before Russia had crossed the Balkans she told you her intentions. You receive them again and again as they are unfolded to you—first in their main features, and afterwards with some supplementary points; you receive them with perfect complacency, and you never give her the smallest idea that you will object to a Treaty founded on that basis. She crossed the Balkans, and she crushed her enemies. You did not object to her terms before she crossed the Balkans, and now when she is satisfied with substantially the same terms as she communicated to you before she had crossed the Balkans, although she might have then raised them, you turn round and produce this despatch of Lord Salisbury's, making all these charges against Russia. For my own part, Sir, I must say that I do not know how the act of advancing these charges at this time is to be reconciled with our national honour after the reticence of the last six or nine months. I am sorry to have to say so, but I think it is better to speak out what a man feels than to produce it six or nine months hence. I can understand that at the time to which I am referring, and before Russia had gained some of her greatest successes, the remonstrances of Her Majesty's Government against these terms, if they had been made, would have been entitled to be listened to with great respect. The neutrality of England had been declared to be conditional. If you had wanted your remonstrance to tell, then was the time for making it. Therefore, whether on the ground of honour or of prudence, I am equally at a loss to reconcile the conduct that was then pursued with the course which we find pursued in Lord Salisbury's despatch. When I read Lord Salisbury's vigorous argument I confess it appeared to me that all this argument showed how imperative is the necessity for going into a Congress, and yet he chooses to make it a disqualification for not going into it. This appears to me to show what an immense responsibility is incurred by those who shall do anything to obstruct or defeat the Congress except upon substantial ground, and I will venture to say except upon grounds on which they have something like support from the other Powers of Europe. The Congress will have much to do with Bulgaria, and with regard to its extent, which will, I hope, not be reduced. Bulgaria might be a security against undue Russian influence, and Russia would find it easier to deal with a small than with a large Bulgaria. This is not the first lesson we have had on that subject. In 1858 I moved the Motion in this House for the union of the Danubian Principalities. It was then opposed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who said—"Do not make a large Roumania, because if you have a large Roumania it will be under Russian influence," and so forth. Happily, in spite of their opposition, it was done, and you have now seen that in Roumania you have planted the true seed of national life, that Russia is not predominant, and that the principle of freedom and the desire for self-government are far stronger than any previous relations between the Principalities and Russia. In the same way, I believe, that though a large Bulgaria, with ports on the Ægean, might not be just to the Greeks, yet a large Bulgaria would be less in danger of coming under Russian influence than a small one. With regard to the Hellenic Provinces, they are now the scene of a bloody act. We see the absence of civil government; we see outrages, terrorism, carnage, and massacre; and a distinguished countryman of our own has unhappily fallen within the sweep of these terrible calamities. To the Congress alone you can look for the pacification of Thessaly. It is not in the power of Her Majesty's Government to pacify the Hellenic Provinces by their solitary action. For Heaven's sake, let us have done with these ambiguities! which the Chancellor of the Exchequer denounces, but which, when he is challenged, he declines to explain. I know not in the least degree what is the real point upon which you have come to a rupture with Russia. Do not let us have needless delays and difficulties as to the meeting of a Congress, the authority of which must necessarily be great. They have raised no preliminary question which ought not to have been raised till the Congress met; and if the Government wanted to throw away their chance they have taken the best method to destroy it. Now, we have the Straits to deal with, which, though it is not part of the present contention, is clearly part of the general settlement. There is another duty attaching to the Congress besides all these, and that is the sacred duty of watching sedulously and vigilantly over its whole proceedings against any invasion or disparagement by Russia or by Austria, united or singly, of those local liberties of the populations which are the only security you can take for a pacified and contented East. I will release hon. Gentlemen in a moment. I object to this resumption by Her Majesty's Government of the most unhappy and ill-starred system of solitary action which has been their bane all through. They began with it, and it seems as if they were determined to end with it. They began by objecting to the joint intervention of the Consuls in the Herzegovinian rebellion. They went on with it when they destroyed the Berlin Memorandum. They continued it when they released the Porte by their own communication from all fear of coercive consequences with respect to the Conference at Constantinople. Now again, instead of frankly referring to the other Powers that which they had to say with regard to the proper mode of carrying on the Congress, and thus putting down any pretensions of Russia to narrow its deliberations, they have, without the authority of any other Power in Europe, and after having distinctly rejected a most rational proposition of the German Government, taken the correspondence with Russia into their own hand and brought it to an untimely and unhappy end. Sir, the worse the Treaty of San Stefano, the more need there is for the Congress. I should have been better pleased if my right hon. Friend had pointed out what I think in fairness he ought to have done, that, so far from the Treaty of San Stefano being ushered in as a final settlement, it has been put into our hands with the marked and significant title of a preliminary Treaty. Sir, these are the reasons which compel me still very greatly to object to Her Majesty's Government's method of procedure—not uniformly, because I do not think the method of procedure is unform. We are told of the great difficulties through which the Government has to guide us—God grant that they may guide us aright!—but it must be by a better policy than the policy of the Government. If they do not so guide us, the historian, looking back upon this question with all its outs and ins—with all its zig-zag movements, will say that, though the subject was not without difficulties, yet there was a sufficient union both of interest and feeling to have made it practicable to attain a fair solution without disturbance and disquietude; they have chosen when there was a path along a plain, safe, and open country to conduct us along the very brink of the precipice. I shall be glad if they guide us safely along that brink, and if they do not get us any nearer than we are at present, though I perceive that we are a good deal nearer than we were four months ago. If Her Majesty's Government will consent to that which I really believe to be described in a few words of the despatch—if they will work for the ends of justice and of freedom—if they will be content so far to humble themselves as to work with Europe, and not without or against Europe—my belief is that they will receive the support of a united people, that they will earn the gratitude of a nation that is never slow to yield it, and that they will escape the immeasurable guilt of a causeless war.


in rising to move at the end of the Question, to add the words— But that this House regrets that Her Majesty's Ministers have thought it right to advise the calling out of Her Majesty's Reserve Forces, considering that no great emergency has been shown to exist, and that such calling out of the Reserves is neither prudent in the interests of European Peace, necessary for the safety of the Country, nor warranted by the state of matters abroad; said, that no one felt more keenly than himself the importance of the question, but he feared that the temper of the nation was becoming more warlike. He felt it to be his duty to raise his voice in season and out of season against unjust and unnecessary wars; and he now came forward to prevent, if possible, the country from drifting into such a conflict. He desired to say that he alone was responsible for the Amendment he intended to move. If it came to any good, those who supported it would have the credit; if it came to any harm, he alone should bear the reproach. He and many other hon. Members could have wished that the noble Marquess at the head of the Opposition could have seen his way to move an Amendment to the Address. He knew, however, the difficulty with which the noble Marquess had to contend, and was not there to blame him. The noble Marquess had been "rattened" by a number of the Gentlemen who sat behind him. They had elected him as their Leader, but sought to make him their humble follower. The question they had to consider was, what was the reason for the warlike step on which the Government had determined? They had it on the high authority of the Secretary of State for India, that the desire to plunge the country into war was a criminal state of mind. He should not have gone quite so far; but, accepting the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, he could not but think, if such were the case, there were a great many criminals about. He very much blamed the conduct of the Government for the state of things which existed just now. It had created the "War Party," which consisted of medical students, Whitechapel roughs, and Lord Mayors. This War Party was openly encouraged by Leaders of the Government. When by force, they had broken up a public meeting, they proceeded to the residence of the Prime Minister, who thanked them for their patriotic conduct, and they then marched to the residence of the late Prime Minister, and broke the windows of his house. That was called patriotism, but, for his part, he did not consider it a very patriotic proceeding. He might say that at the outset many of his friends blamed him for the opinions he held on this Eastern Question. When Russia went to war, those who thought that the war meant annexation as well as emancipation, might not have been very far wrong. He could not concur with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich that we ought to have joined in coercing Turkey by force. He believed in the doctrine of non-intervention, and could not understand how it was that when a case arose, advocates of non-intervention came to think it was an exceptional case. Far from blaming Her Majesty's Government for what occurred in the early phases of this matter, he admired Lord Derby's calmness and courage. Many of the despatches of the noble Lord were worthy of the dignity of a great nation, and he should always remember with pleasure that saying of his, that the greatest of all British interests was the interest of peace. But they had not the same Ministers now they had at the beginning of the year. Lords Derby and Carnarvon were gone, and Lord Salisbury, in whom they had all put their trust, remained; but he appeared to be absolutely mesmerized by the influence of the First Lord of the Treasury. The noble Marquess who had protested against the folly of fighting against a nightmare, who had told Russia that the best course she could adopt was to study a big map, had fallen from his high estate and issued a despatch full of the "balance of power," the "integrity of Turkey," the "eternity of Treaties," and all those fictions which had for centuries lured nations on to their ruin. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, whose speech last year was an epoch—a turning-point—on the Eastern Question, had also fallen away. They all remembered how he came down and in tragic tones and tremulous accents assured the terrified House of Commons that the Russians were advancing; but it turned out that they were advancing in due order and in the proper course of things. The Government had adopted what he might call a "nagging policy" towards Russia—never satisfied, always distrustful, always finding fault, always discovering some shade of unveracity. Last year the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said that a lying spirit was abroad. Well, there was a lying spirit abroad, and it sent home a great many lies for home consumption. If the Russians were now and then unveracious, were our hands quite clean? In that House they were told on the first night of the Session that we had a Cabinet united on the Eastern Question; but now it was known there were the grossest and widest differences between them. Strict accuracy, indeed! Did they not hear that the Fleet was sent to the Dardanelles solely to protect British life and property, and were not the newspapers within three or four days declaring that the Fleet was sent out as a threat to Russia? Our policy towards Russia of late had not been a word and a blow, but a word and a threat of a blow. The Vote of Credit; was not that meant to be in the nature of a threat? Again, the presence of the Fleet in the Sea of Marmora was most dangerous. Apart from the question whether its presence there was or was not an infraction of a Treaty, he thought it could not be denied that the Government, in ordering it to go through the Dardanelles, had taken as rash, uncalled-for, and reckless a step as was ever taken by an English Government. It was precisely the same step as that which, according to Mr. Kingslake, had convinced the Russians in 1853 that England had a settled determination to humiliate them, and had rendered the Crimean War inevitable. The third step of the Government, which, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had said, had led us nearer to the precipice, was calling out the Reserves. He understood that though the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made a very moderate speech, much more fiery language had been used. The Reserves had been called out, it was said, because there was an emergency. But that step had been announced last Thursday, and then put off for four days. Surely, if the danger was great, it was the duty of the Government at once to have taken the necessary steps for the protection of the country? Her Majesty's Government was a most extraordinary one, for when it had summoned Parliament it had made the announcement that they were preparing for an unexpected event. They would now go down to posterity, he believed, as the Government which had prepared for an unexpected event and postponed a great emergency. It was to his mind a humiliating spectacle to see free and prosperous England setting the example of arming to other nations, or taking part in a course of conduct which was turning Europe into a vast camp. What was it all for? He hoped at least before the debate ended the House would hear from the Ministry what it was proposed to do with the new iron-clads. He would like to know also who were going to assist us if we went to war; for any Government who went to war alone would be perfectly insane. Were they going to fight along with Turkey? If they were it would only be on the understanding on the part of Turkey that she was to be reinstated as a European Power; and if we fought for the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire, Her Majesty's Government might be perfectly well assured that the whole country would soon join the right hon. Member for Greenwich in declaring that British blood and treasure should not be employed for any such purpose. Would France help them? No; for France was in a very different position now to 25 years ago, when a Despot was on the Throne, who found it necessary to bolster himself up by a military alliance with a free people. Was Germany going to help them? Why, the fact was, that Prince Bismarck was laughing with contempt at the feeble fidgeting of our diplomacy, and Germany was thinking—"What fools those Englishmen are to put their paws in the fire to pull out our chestnuts." Possibly Her Majesty's Government might secure Austria as an Ally, for that country was accustomed to do wicked things, and would probably be inclined to take almost any step that would promote her own selfish ends. But if Her Majesty's Government got Austria as an Ally, they would lose another ally in the shape of his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen), who had been all his life opposing such Governments. What were they going to fight for? He had understood that the Government would fight for nothing except "British interests." That was an elastic term; but he understood it to mean freedom, prosperity, and good government of all the nations of the world. If that were accepted as the definition, the Government would have no warmer supporter than himself. Even if the Home Secretary's definition of the route to India were accepted, he contended there was not a shadow of a reason for going to war. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in referring to that matter, had said that he would not go into details as to the routes to India. But the whole question was whether those routes were in danger; and the Government had proved no such danger. As to the demand for the retrocession of Bessarabia, he would grant that it was a great injustice and a wrong on the part of Russia; but if this country were to undertake to redress every act of injustice or oppression which took place in the world, we should never be at peace. He was for protecting the 30,000,000 of people at home. Those were the British interests he wanted to look after, and if the House of Commons devoted itself to that it would do more good than by interfering in any foreign quarrels. He should be told that was a policy of isolation, and everyone just now was terribly afraid of that new word, but he should not at all object to isolation from all the Governments of Europe in any of their cruel enterprizes. He would rather have isolation than a declaration of war. That, he supposed, would be called cowardice, for it seemed to be considered that everyone was a coward who did not want to kill other people. He thought, however, that the cowards were the writers in the newspapers who sat in their club rooms, and hounded on their fellow-countrymen to slaughter and death. More than that, he contended that there was something cowardly in the Members of the House of Commons sitting there to vote the money of other people, that they might go to be killed, while they themselves intended to live quietly at home. From all parts of the world the cry arose that we ourselves were the greatest of freebooters. There was no clime in which, in former days, we had not taken possession of and annexed countries. And now, should we, the Pharisees of Europe, having done all this, stand up and say—"We thank Heaven we are not like this Russian?" To do so would be a pitiable exhibition of hypocrisy. It had been said lately that one nation might annex the Transvaal, whilst another might not look over the Balkans. Were we going to fight because we could not make suitable arrangements for holding the Conference? He confessed he could not understand what was the real point in dispute—it seemed to be whether the Treaty should be laid on the Table or laid on a chair. If there were all these difficulties in arranging what was to be done at the Congress, it was clearly the duty of the Government to agree to the preliminary Conference proposed by Germany, and their refusal was quite sufficient to condemn them. He supposed we were to fight about a question of phraseology. There had been wars for an idea, for plunder, and for defence; but was it reserved to the Government of this Christian nation in 1878 to go to war for the sake of mere phraseology, and to take steps which would lead to the deluging of Europe with blood? It was said that there was no immediate danger of war; but on this point he could only reecho the words of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, and say that all these steps—these steps of bluster, which might be mere brag—were leading us daily nearer and nearer to the precipice, and must at length plunge us into war. This was a pitiable state of things. We had all read something about the paths of honour; but the path we were treading was to offer to Russia a petty, paltry, and pitiable provocation, which was unworthy of the British nation and of the Government which led us. We had called out our Reserves; and he believed that last Sunday, when the people went to hear the words of peace and goodwill, they saw on the church-doors the summons calling them to bloodshed. It now remained for those who deprecated the course taken by Her Majesty's Government to call out their reserves, in the shape of the common sense, the common humanity, the common honesty, and the common justice of this country, to save, ere it were too late, this nation from the commission of a senseless and a stupendous crime.

Amendment proposed, At the end of the Question, to add the words "but that this House regrets that Her Majesty's Ministers have thought it right to advise the calling out of Her Majesty's Reserve Forces, considering that no great emergency has been shown to exist, and that such calling out of the Reserves is neither prudent in the interests of European peace, necessary for the safety of the country, nor warranted by the state of matters abroad."—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson.) Question proposed, "That those words be there added."


observed, that all hon. Members who addressed the House on this question must feel the momentous character of the issues which were raised by it. Hitherto he had not said one word upon the Eastern Question, because he felt that Her Majesty's Ministers had a very difficult and delicate duty to perform, and that they were acting under a sense of grave responsibility, and that they should have full confidence and trust reposed in them while they were discharging that task. He had listened with marked attention to the eloquent speech of the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), and he must say that he should have been better satisfied if that right hon. Gentleman had concluded his speech with an intimation that he thought it right not to offer any opposition to these measures which Her Majesty's Government had considered it necessary, in the best interests of this country, to ask Parliament to adopt. Let them look at the position in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich and his supporters would have been placed if they had been in power now, and had been asked to tear up the Treaties of Paris and of London, which they had been mainly instrumental in drawing up. Would it have been so certain they would have been able to have kept the country out of war—would it not have been more probable they would long ago have been forced into war? One thing was quite evident—that up to the present time Her Majesty's Government had completely succeeded in keeping us out of war; and, in his humble opinion, we were not likely to go to war in the near future, because he believed that by taking these proper measures of precaution Her Majesty's Government were more likely to keep us out of war than by sitting still and letting matters take their chance. The proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, if adopted, would tend to the degradation and the humiliation of this country. While agreeing that it was not desirable to re-establish the Turkish Empire on its old footing, he could not help regarding this Treaty as an Act of spoliation in favour of one country alone. Russia had declared that her only object in going to war was the amelioration of the condition of the Christian populations of Turkey, and, according to universal admission, she had not treated those populations fairly. They knew that the object of Russia was to become dominant in New Bulgaria, and that Greece was to be excluded from the exercise of all influence at Constantinople. If this Treaty was carried out, what was to become of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Epirus, and Thessaly? And what would the position of Turkey be, having to pass through a hostile Bulgaria when she wanted to get to her Northern Provinces? He had no hesitation in saying that our Government, knowing in June last what the terms were that were to be asked for by the Russian Government, ought to have said—"If you occupy Adrianople the Turks must be hopelessly beaten, and you must make Peace there; but if you advance beyond Adrianople we shall occupy the lines about Constantinople, as well as Gallipoli and the Boulair lines." The Russians had, however, now advanced to the gates of Constantinople. These considerations demanded that every portion of the Treaty should be examined, and that the claims of Greece should have fair consideration. He thought the course of the Government was plain. They had decided to call out the Reserves, not for the purpose of war, but for the purpose of being prepared if an eventuality should arise that might lead to war. He was glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), because he honoured the principle which that right hon. Gentleman had always advocated with regard to the Crimean War and to this war. But he should like to ask him plainly, whether he did not think the whole country was against him with reference to the Treaty of San Stefano? He believed the right hon. Gentleman was of opinion that that Treaty should be altered, but that he was against going to war to compel an alteration of it. The only way to deal with a Power like Russia was not to ask her to do a certain thing, but to show her that we were prepared to take action in case of necessity. He ventured to hope that peaceful councils might still prevail. Some hon. Gentlemen always talked about the isolation of England, and expressed their anxiety that she should co-operate with all the Powers of Enrope. No one was more anxious than himself that she should do so. But things had changed since 1870. We were, he might say, almost the only nation that could inaugurate a movement against Russia, and if we took that course no doubt other Powers would come forward—and had already come forward—to co-operate with us. He hoped that we should be able to keep in check the designs of Russia, whose aim and object had been for generations past to obtain Constantinople for her own. In calling out the Reserves, it was, as he had said, not necessarily war, but to test whether our present military system was a good one, and that we could depend in moments of danger or necessity on obtaining the force that the Reserve was intended to create. While we prayed for peace, we might be forced into war; and he was sure that if such a fate was in store for us, we should be able to maintain those great and historic interests that had been handed down to us from our ancestors.


said, that the situation in which the country was placed was a great deal too serious to allow anyone to treat it in a Party spirit, and he need hardly say that he had not the remotest intention of doing so. On the contrary, he thought that the task to which we should all set ourselves was to help those who were at present charged with the affairs of the country towards wise decisions. In order to effect that, we must know in what direction they were going to move, and the few remarks which he proposed to make would be directed to try to obtain as clear an answer as circumstances would permit to the question—What was their policy? The only indication of their policy, which we had had for some time past, was contained in the Circular Despatch of Lord Salisbury, an extremely clear and well-written document, which showed, as other documents from the same hand had shown, that it was not for nothing that its author graduated in the school of the English Buloz—the late Mr. John Douglas Cook. He could not, however, assert that he found the contents of that document quite as interesting as its style, and he agreed, indeed, with an observation that had been made about it—that it would have been an excellent report on the situation if it had been made by his secretary; but that it was in no way the kind of despatch one expected to see signed by the Secretary of State himself. It set forth no policy, and hinted no policy. It showed, indeed, that the writer would like to return to the position of affairs which existed before the Constantinople Conference; but that was not a policy, it was a mere feeble velleity. When the Government took the unhappy step which had brought them on to that shifting sand, they ought to have known that they were abandoning the right of initiative which they had had up to that moment, and were putting their policy at the mercy of events which they could not control. He knew it would be said that that step had been very generally approved by many persons in the Party to which he belonged, but he differed from them on that point. "Amicus Plato magis amica veritas." Now, the position of Her Majesty's Government, before they went into Conference, was this—they had, after some demur, adhered to the Andrassy Note. They had done this with the support, not only of their own Party, but with the support of Lord Granville, who held the Seals of the Foreign Office when their Opponents were in power. By that Act, and others to which he need not allude, they had expressed their opinion that immense reforms were required and ought immediately to be carried into effect in the government of Turkey; but they had done nothing to detract from the position of the Sultan as a weak, but still independent Power. The status quo was maintained in essentials, although in some respects modified. Further, they had declined to accede to the Berlin Memorandum, and this they had done likewise with the assent of Lord Granville, expressed in his place in the House of Lords. Although, then, a vast amount of angry clamour had been directed against them from various quarters, they had a right to say, at the end of the Session of 1876, that their Eastern policy had been acquiesced in by the most authoritative exponent of the views of their adversaries as to questions of foreign affairs. Then, however, broke forth the agitation about the Bulgarian massacres, and that agitation, and the circumstances which led to it, produced, it was clear, a considerable effect as well upon the Government as upon the Opposition; for Lord Derby's despatch was at least as much stronger in its condemnation of an independent Power than most diplomatic documents, as the pamphlet of the right hon. Member for Greenwich was than most documents which he (Mr. Grant Duff) recollected to have been produced by a leading Member of the Opposition. Meantime, the German Government had taken up this attitude. It had said—"You have not seen your way to adhere to the Berlin Memorandum, which seems to us, on the whole, the wisest step to take at the moment we took it. What, then, have you to propose? We will agree to anything in reason." It was evident then that, at that moment, the Cabinet of St. James's, if it had known its own mind, was master of the situation. It could have taken either of two diametrically opposite lines. It might have said—"Badly as the Turk has behaved, we will be no parties to interfering with his independence. We have spoken our mind to him as distinctly as one Government ever spoke to another, but further we will not go, or encourage anyone else to go. If Russia thinks fit to go further, we shall act as we deem best, but we take our stand upon the status quo, as modified by the Andrassy Note." That was one course. He did not say it would have been a right one, but it would have been intelligible and logical. On the other hand, Her Majesty's Government might have taken a precisely opposite course. It might have argued, after the publication of the pamphlet and the speech of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, that if we took our stand on the status quo, and broke off all negotiations with Russia, which had reference to Turkey, sooner or later we might have to go further and assert our views by force; but it was idle for an English Government to dream of going to war in the teeth of a very large and active minority of its own people, and they would be blind, indeed, if they did not see that the pamphlet and the speech of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, whether they were wise or unwise, represented the views of an extremely powerful minority. Might we not all, then, have assured British interests, saved the Turk from great calamities, and conferred immense blessings upon all South-Eastern Europe, by recognizing that on us was to come the hard necessity of dealing with that terrible question of Constantinople, which had been so long the nightmare of statesmen? If Her Majesty's Government had come to this conclusion, and had grasped the whole European situation, it would have tried whether it would not have been possible, in concert, especially with Germany, to arrive at some arrangement for the future of the Balkan Peninsula, which, while it gave all that Russia had a right to ask, guaranteed civilized government to the populations of the Balkan Peninsula, recognized the fair claims of Greece, assured the Mussulman inhabitants of those countries of perfect protection, safeguarded the interests of Austria, and made, in short, the arrangement that would be the least inconvenient to everybody concerned. He did not believe that it would have been impossible to arrive at such an arrangement, which would have saved a most enormous expenditure of blood and treasure, and prevented not only many evils that were past, but many that were yet to come. But nothing of the kind was attempted. The Cabinet thought it consistent with their honour and duty to float feebly on the surface of events, not mastering them, but mastered by them. Thus it was that they allowed themselves to drift into the Conference, which ended in nothing, and enabled Russia comfortably to tide through the bad weather, and arrive at the season of the year that was favourable for moving her armies. When the war had broken out, the Government, as he thought, once more fell into a good, though certainly not a glorious, line of policy. They maintained an attitude of absolute neutrality, and said they would maintain it till British interests were threatened. Nothing could have been better under the circumstances. They had missed, as he believed, in the autumn of 1876, a great opportunity, and there was nothing to be done in the summer of 1877, but to watch events. It was something, and something considerable, for a Government to be able to say—"We admit that we have not been able to do anything great in the East, but, at least, we shall keep the country out of the war, unless, and until, circumstances arise which will make the vast majority of Englishmen desirous to take part in it." That reasonable, if not very magnificent policy was pursued till Plevna fell; but then commenced a series of small, fussy, meaningless acts, which were fresh in the memory of them all, and which had ended in depriving Her Majesty's Ministers of two of their ablest Colleagues. The secession of the second of those Colleagues seemed to have set free the hands of Ministers, for we had immediately thrown at us the Circular Despatch, which was apparently intended to be a new departure. We heard nothing in it of "British interests" or neutrality. The question was raised to a higher level, and Her Majesty's Government once more appeared as a great European Power, claiming to have a potent voice in the re-settlement of South-Eastern Europe. He wished that they had never abandoned that attitude; but, as they did abandon it, it seemed to him difficult beyond measure for them to return to the point where they missed the right road. We were told, in that document, that every material stipulation which the Treaty of San Stefano contained involved a departure from the Treaty of 1856. The writer of the dispatch objected to the Russian character of the New Bulgaria, to the Russian colour to be given to the improved institutions of the population of Thessaly and Epirus, to the engagements for the protection of members of the Russian Church, to the territorial severance of the Provinces left to the Porte in Europe, to the compulsory separation of a portion of Bessarabia from Roumania, to the extension of Bulgaria to the shores of the Black Sea, and to a great variety of other things. Well, but, if the Government were going, at the end of the war, to take up this kind of attitude, why, in the name of wonder, did they not announce it long ago? For his part, Russia, who was told for so many months that we cared for nothing but "British interests," had surely been rather hardly used. What had "British interests" to do with the great majority of the stipulations of the Treaty which were impugned? He wished not to be misunderstood. He objected to a great many of these stipulations; but then he never agreed with Her Majesty's Government in thinking that we had no duties to discharge in South-Eastern Europe, except to protect "British interests." He would, when we came to "the parting of the ways" in the autumn of 1876, have insisted, either on the maintenance of the Treaties made 20 years before, or on a new order of things being put in place of those Treaties, by virtue of a European arrangement. But Her Majesty's Government turned its back upon the Treaties of 1856, and proposed nothing in their place. They had now, however, if that Circular Despatch was a new departure, and not one more mistake, seen their way to return to the position of claiming a right to have a potent voice in the re-arrangement of South-Eastern Europe. He gave them joy, for it was a great deal better to be wise than consistent. What, then, was now their leading idea? He did not ask for details; but their constituents, who paid the greatly increased taxation which their policy, or want of a policy, had rendered necessary, had a right to ask for some sort of general notion as to the objects for which their money was to be expended. What, in short, were they driving at? Did they think that the prosperity of South-Eastern Europe could be assured by leaving all its Provinces, or any of them, under the Turks? If they did, he replied that it was too late. There was a time when, by a wise application of diplomatic pressure, that might have been done; but that time had gone by for ever, and the curse of history lay at the door of those whose negligence omitted to apply that pressure, and brought upon the world the horrors we had been witnessing. He would not, for a moment, imagine that the Government had any such idea, if it were not for some unlucky expressions in the despatch. We read, for instance— Large changes may, and no doubt will, be requisite in the Treaties by which South-Eastern Europe has hitherto been ruled. Large changes! He should think so! Had the writer been spending the last two years in the cave of the Seven Sleepers? Totius rei fontem atque caput ignorat, one was almost inclined to say. He and his Colleagues had stood by while the Ottoman Empire in Europe had been mortally wounded, and they did not seem even to have found it out. It was no question now of a "Sick Man," whose health was to be watched, and whose heritage was to be kept for his natural heirs. They had to deal with a man in the last gasp, in whose house those who were not his natural heirs had got a footing from which it would be very difficult to dislodge them. If the policy of Her Majesty's Government was to try to give good government and freedom under the Porte to these Provinces, it seemed to him that they were possessed with the wildest dream that ever misled statesmen. Or, if that was not their idea, was it to enlarge Greece, and try to re-create in that way the Eastern Empire? He hoped not. That idea had had its advocates of late among English politicians, but it seemed to him an altogether mistaken one. He should like to see Greece increased by the addition to it of any purely Greek districts upon the mainland which were conterminous with it, as well as by Crete and a number of the other islands; but his notion of the future of Greece would be that it should listen, as did Greece of old, as much as possible to "those two old voices of Liberty—the voice of the mountains and the voice of the sea," that it should remember as much as possible its pre-Roman, not its post-Roman, day; that its dreams should be of resuscitating Athens, not of reconquering Byzantium. If it was attempted to set up Greece against Slavonia in the Balkan Peninsula, that attempt would perish and come to nought. It was the same attempt to fight against the nature of things which was made by the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and others in 1864, when they tried to set up Denmark against Germany, an attempt on which destiny stamped with an iron heel, as it had done, by the way, on most of the non-Indian hopes and projects of that noble Lord since first he entered public life. Or was the idea of the Government merely to pare down in a feeble way the provisions of the Treaty of San Stefano? He, for one, heartily hated the whole scheme of that Treaty; but the notion of spending British gold and British blood to carrying into effect peddling objections to it was altogether abhorrent to him. The whole scheme of the Treaty was devised in pro-Russian and anti-West-European interests; but no sort of good could be done by amending it in detail. Or, if none of these hypotheses as to the policy of the Government were correct, could there be any sort of truth in the rumour of an alliance with Austria, and of a desire on the part of that Power to extend itself down to the Ægean at Salonica, and to rule the whole of the western half of the Balkan Peninsula? He knew that that idea had partizans, and influential partizans, at Vienna. But could it have prevailed, even at Vienna; or, if it had prevailed there, could it possibly have prevailed with Her Majesty's Government? Of course, if Austria were a homoge-geneous body like France, much worse arrangements might be devised; but the very first effect of such an arrangement would be to upset the whole system of policy under which Austria had been living since 1866—a policy which, if it had not given the Empire prosperity, had, at least, given her much more peace than had fallen to her lot during the 18 preceding years. None knew better than the wiser inhabitants of Austria themselves that Austria was a reed on which no man could lean without having his hand pierced. That they should do all they could to uphold Austria as a most useful member of the European system he most earnestly believed; but he deprecated their attempting to build any large scheme of policy on the duration of Austria. Or again, if none of these ideas was the mot de l'enigme of the Government policy, was it conceivable that they should see their way to erecting in the Northern half of the Balkan Peninsula a powerful civilized State, with its centre at Constantinople? On that idea, which he had put forth in many ways and many places, he would not now dwell; because he thought it was far too good to be hoped for under those who at present guided our affairs. They rejected it when it was comparatively easy of accomplishment, and were not likely to take it up now. Or were they to see all questions as to the final adjustment of affairs in the Eastern Peninsula adjourned to a more convenient season? Were they going to do that to which their military preparations—which seemed destined rather for small than great operations—appeared to point? Were they going to say—"We don't recognize the Treaty of San Stefano; the Russians may stay where they are if they please; but we shall seize Gallipoli and one or more islands, and perhaps a harbour in Crete, and encourage the Khedive by a promise of our protection to break off all connection with the Porte, if, indeed, we do not insist on his accepting our control instead?'' Well, by these steps "British interests" would be safeguarded, and more than safeguarded, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) knew as well as he did that it was absolutely within the power of the Government at that moment to take those steps with the acquiescence of the most powerful of European States. Well, but if only those steps, or a fraction of those steps, were what they had got in their mind, why that Circular Despatch? The old cry of British interests, of which we heard so much in the five nights' debate of last year, was quite enough to lay a foundation for such a policy as would be carried into effect by those steps. To write that tremendous Circular, opening out the whole Eastern Question with a view to taking those steps, was like cracking a nut with a Nasmyth's hammer. Or lastly, was the House to think of this great despatch that it was, as someone said of its author the other day—"a lath painted to look like iron?" Were Ministers still floating feebly on the surface of events, paralyzed by fear of Germany's intentions—the offspring of the most blessed ignorance of that country in its past, in its present, in its hopes and fears and tendencies—which had been the key to so many of their errors in the past two years? He trusted that the despatch was really iron, and not lath—that England's policy was not going to be as feeble in the future as it had been in the past. He trusted it was a new departure, and that Lord Salisbury, whose Indian policy had been respectable, was anxious to prove that he could be, for once, right in a non-Indian question, and unaided by a council of experts; but he repeated, that the despatch might be laying the foundation for a variety of different policies, and he wanted to know not only where they were, but what, as a nation, they were to be asked to do under these circumstances? He hoped everything, but he feared much; for, whereas his notion of the way in which the settlement of this great European Question should be approached by an English Minister, might be summed up in the words— Sine Germaniâ nulla salus, he saw the Seals of the Foreign Office in the hands of the man who had been hitherto, of all English statesmen, the most consistent and bitter enemy of Germany. That could not be said of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he hoped that the influence of the right hon. Gentleman would be sufficient to neutralize that very mischievous policy. He trusted, after listening to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that evening, that it was his more conciliatory temper which was to prevail in their policy.


said, the affectation of the last speaker, in pretending he could not tell what policy the Government had, was ridiculous. It was a policy which they had announced from the beginning of these transactions—namely, neutrality, which, although sometimes praised and sometimes blamed, had been adhered to with the strictest fidelity. The Government had announced from the first, that unless British interests were interfered with, and the signatories to the Treaty of 1856 were consenting parties, that neutrality would be observed. By the Treaty of 1856, Russia agreed that no action should be taken as to the integrity of Turkey without the assent and consent of the other Powers. In 1856, just after the Crimean War, when portions of the Russian territory were in the hands of the Allies, preliminaries of peace were entered into at Vienna, subject to a Conference which afterwards met at Paris. Count Walewski, its President, stipulated that the Treaty should be taken item by item, and each considered, discussed, altered, passed, and finally adopted. That was agreed to and acted upon; and Her Majesty's Government, on the present occasion, while asking for no more in reference to the Treaty of San Stefano, felt that they would not be justified in accepting less. It was the fashion to accuse the Government of being averse from the Conference, but they had done all they could in its favour. On the 7th of March it was proposed by the Austrian Government, evidently after communication with the Russian Ambassador at that Court, to hold a Congress at Vienna, at which all questions of the peace shortly to be concluded between Russia and Turkey should be considered. Our Government immediately assented. A question was raised as to the place of meeting, and Baden-Baden was proposed, to which our Government at once acceded. Shortly afterwards it was proposed to be held at Berlin, and our Foreign Minister again wrote to say that he saw no objection, if nothing was to be considered as acknowledged and valid without the assent of the Great Powers; and, up to the 16th of March, when Prince Gortchakoff began to introduce novel conditions, no difficulties existed. It was evident that what Russia had won by the sword she intended to keep by the sword, and she desired in entering the Conference to retain a power of vetoing any discussion upon such stipulations of the Treaty as she might think fit to regard as final. Was it possible for a great Power like England to enter on the Conference under such conditions as that? He contended that Turkey was not a free agent when she signed the Treaty of San Stefano. If hon. Members would look at the map, they would see that there was scarcely a single point of the Treaties of 1856 and 1871 that this recent Treaty between Russia and Turkey did not violate. By the later instrument, it was agreed between the signatories, that no alteration of a Treaty was to be effected without the concurrence of all the parties signing it; and yet, in the face of that solemn international engagement, Russia, by the Treaty of San Stefano, had sought to set aside nearly all the fundamental provisions of the Treaty of Paris. Russia had attempted to create a New Kingdom of Bulgaria, extending far beyond the limits of Bulgaria, and embracing a large population of the nationalities other than Bulgarian. The Prince of this New Province was to be elected with the approval of Russia, the territory was to be occupied by Russian troops for two years, its laws and its course of government were to be framed by Russia, and in fact it was to become a Russian Province. Russia further stipulated that the port of Batoum, in the Black Sea, was to be ceded to her, which would give her the absolute control of our commerce with Persia, the value of which exceeded £4,000,000 per annum. Then, again, Russia demanded that she should have the control of the mouths of the Danube placed in her hands by the cession of Bessarabia. The result of the recent Treaty would be to create a dominant Power in Europe, which must be injurious to European nations as a whole, but especially so to England. The demand of the Government, under these circumstances, was that the whole of the new Treaty which was to abrogate the old should be submitted to the Congress. That demand was, in his opinion, perfectly reasonable, and was more likely than any other course that could have been adopted to preserve peace. Her Majesty's Government had adhered in this proposal to the course of policy they pursued throughout—that of preserving a strict neutrality on condition that Russia carried out her portion of the contract. If England had not continued its refusal to aid Turkey, Russia would never have been in the position to enforce the terms of the San Stefano Treaty, which he hoped the Congress would show she had been unwise in putting forth. He should be sorry to see the House divided at a time like the present, but hoped that a gracious answer would be unanimously returned to the Crown on this occasion.


said, his sympathies were with the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), but he regretted he could not give him his vote. He had the strongest objections to what had been done in calling out the Reserves, but he objected rather to the manner of doing it than to the measure itself. He voted against the Vote of Credit, from its being a dangerous Vote; but when £4,000,000 of that sum had been spent in warlike preparation, it would be hardly consistent to refuse the men when they were really wanted. They must then make use of the materials, and the cost of the men would be, comparatively speaking, not great. The Government must not suppose, however, because they had flourished their trumpet and called out the Reserves, that this country was a great military Power. He thought it right to warn the Government that they must not trust to India for a great addition to our Forces. Some had said that 300,000 men could be got from India, some had said 80,000, and some had said 50,000. He believed he would not be contradicted by military men, who knew more of the matter than he did, when he said that even 50,000 could not be got from our present Forces in India. The Native Army was not as large as was supposed. Perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 of that Army were fit for war in Europe, and more might be raised; but it would be a very dangerous thing to employ large numbers of Indian troops in war in Europe, and then send them back to India. If that were done, an addition would have to be made to the Native Army, which would embarrass us in several ways. He had placed an Amendment on the Paper, which, however, he could not propose to the House; but, nevertheless, he would read it as showing his view upon the question. He had proposed, instead of the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, to add to the Motion for an Address, the following:— And humbly praying that Her Majesty will accept the Preliminary Conference proposed by the Government of Germany; and, while abstaining from any isolated action in a matter in which this Country has little direct interest, will intimate to the other European Powers that Her Majesty's Government is prepared to support them in any concerted action which they may take to resist the act of undisguised perfidy and spoliation which the Russian Government has threatened to perpetrate on Roumania. He thought it was most extraordinary that Her Majesty's Government should have refused to accept the rational and common-sense suggestion of Germany that they should have a Preliminary Conference of second or some other Plenipotentiaries, to talk matters over and see if there was any substantial difference between the Russian and the English positions in regard to the holding of the Congress. He could not understand why our Government should have cried off and declined, a proposal dictated, as he believed, by an honest desire for peace. Our Government, like the boy who refused to go into the water because he had not learned to swim, had refused to go into the Congress until they were quite sure that they were agreed with Russia as to what questions should be discussed by the Congress. While he was opposed to an isolated policy of hectoring other Powers and riding the high horse, he was equally averse from our wrapping ourselves up in a selfish isolation which refused to join in protecting the weak against the strong. He hoped the time was not far off when Europe, as a quasi-confederation, would come together to decide disputes arising between different States, and would also enforce its decisions. He thought that the Conference of Constantinople ought to have enforced its decision upon Turkey, and that as the Conference had failed Russia was justified in making war. The Treaty which Russia had extorted from Turkey, he regarded as for the most part just and fair, although, no doubt, there were points in it to which objection might be taken. Her Majesty's Government ought not to have denounced that Treaty as a whole, as they had unfortunately done in a despatch bearing the name of Lord Salisbury; but which he was convinced, from that noble Lord's conduct at the Conference of Constantinople, was not his composition, but perhaps that of a higher Member of the Cabinet. Inasmuch as Russia, in June last, announced almost in so many words her intention to regain Bessarabia, if Roumania had consented to that transfer we could hardly have objected to it. But we knew that Roumania appealed to Europe against the transaction; while Russia threatened not only to take Bessarabia by force, but threatened, if Roumania would not allow her troops to go through that Principality, to disarm and destroy it. The present Emperor of Russia had done good service to humanity; but he should be taught that on that matter his personal wishes in regard to the honour of his father or himself could not prevail against the feelings of 500,000 Roumanians, who ought not to be denationalized and transferred to another country against their will. That would be a very great wrong; and, although he was not so Quixotic as to wish that our Government alone should right it, yet he was slow to believe that Germany, which was largely interested in the mouths of the Danube, would not desire to prevent the perpetration of that wrong. A war against Russia, waged by us in alliance with Austria, would be a war in which we might be called upon to make immense efforts, very injurious to us, and ending in objects that would not be ours, while we might not obtain the support we expected from that military Power. With regard to the limits and the population of Bulgaria, the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) seemed to think that the Bulgaria proposed to be constituted by the present Treaty was not larger than that which was proposed by Lord Salisbury in the Conference of Constantinople. From careful inquiry, he might say that, to some extent, this statement was incorrect, and that the Bulgaria now proposed was considerably, though not very, much more extensive than that projected at the Conference. Russia, being isolated, had made Bulgaria too large, leaving room for snippings and cuttings. It was not the case that there were no Bulgarians South of the Balkans. The ancient capital of Bulgaria was in that part, and the Bulgarians there were to the Greeks as six or seven to one. There was no reason why Bulgaria should not be extended to the Ægean, and if she had a port or two on that sea, she would be brought into commercial relations with England. But the settlement of Bulgaria was expressly reserved for the consideration of Europe, and, consequently, no injustice had been done. He could not discuss fully so large a subject as Armenia; but it was his opinion, on the whole, that Russia had been tolerably moderate in annexing Kara and Bayazid, provided that she did not claim a protectorate over the rest of the country. The Persian trade through Trebizonde had been gradually dying out, and it now went through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. Whatever we did, he trusted that we should not take any of the islands as a military or naval station. He regretted he was not able to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice; but if the Government would accept the first part of it, he would reserve the second half for a confidential communication at another time.


contended, that it would be very much better to have Austria as an Ally than to go to war single-handed. Indeed, Austria was our only possible Ally amongst the Great Powers in the present state of Europe, and it was, to say the least, impolitic, to abuse and disparage her. The plain facts of the case were that Russia was already virtually in posession of Constantinople, and of other territory in which it would be impossible to allow her to remain. Clearly, if the Treaty of San Stefano were to be carried out, she would remain in Bulgaria for two years; but we had no guarantee except her pledge that her stay would not be longer. Russia was not a Power to be trusted, especially considering the manner in which her solemn pledge respecting the annexation of Khivan territory had been disregarded. Her Government respected Treaties only as long as the signatories were able to enforce them, and her conduct in 1871 was the proof of that statement. How, again, could we trust a Power so deceitful to Roumania, and which, after using her to the utmost—for the Roumanians saved the Russians a heavy reverse before Plevna—turned upon her to take away her territory? The truth was, that the Treaty of San Stefano was fraught with great danger to England, both in Europe and in Asia, what was to prevent in another 10 years the Russian game being repeated, and rebellions springing up among the Christians in Asia Minor. It appeared to him that, sooner or later, we should be driven to fight Russia, and that we were in a better position to do so now, after her severe losses of men and money, than we were likely to be 10 years hence. At present, we should be able to enforce our demands, for, whatever might be the inclination of the Turkish Government, the Turkish people would not go against us, and the Turkish soldiers, led by British officers, were the best in the world. They marched for ever, required much less to eat than British soldiers, and, in the cause of their religion, rather liked being killed than otherwise, as they believed they went straight to Heaven, and had beautiful houris at their disposal. In a war against Russia at the present time, they could get any number of Indian Mussulmans, than whom there were no finer men, and under British officers they would be equal to any number of Russians. If they now had to go to war, they should encounter Russia near Constantinople, and it was not likely that Austria would stand quietly and look on, seeing that she could not allow the mouths of the Danube to become Russian property. We could now, therefore, not only hold our own against Russia, but drive her to the Arctic circle, which was her natural home. In the future, it appeared to him, that it should be an essential part of our policy not to allow Russia to advance any further in Central Asia. At present, the Russian boundary was not more than 240 miles from our Indian Frontier; and, though it was a 240 miles of mountains and valleys, the distance was so short that, in the event of war, Russia might threaten us in India while we were fighting her in Turkey. We should also prevent her gaining any greater influence in Persia, as Persia constituted one of the best approaches to India, and Russia might in that way threaten us most seriously in India. What we wanted was to prevent Russia becoming too powerful in Europe, and, by overawing the European Powers, seize Asia Minor, march down on the Suez Canal, and so cut our Empire into halves. The best thing we could do to prevent such a proceeding would be to seize on Gallipoli, which we could hold against all the world. He hoped, therefore, if we were to have war, the Government would, as their first step, seize on Gallipoli.


said, he hoped that the present crisis would be met by the united front of a united Government, an almost united Parliament, and, as he believed, by a united country. But of one thing he was certain, that whether the Government and the country be or be not united, the House was with the Government in the opinion that great questions were not to be decided on the principles of the Permissive Bill. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had seriously attacked the despatch of Lord Salisbury, and had bestowed the whole of his praise for conscientious dealing on those two Ministers who, having unfortunately great sympathy with himself, had retired from the Government. He believed the despatch of Lord Salisbury had done more to preserve the peace of Europe and protect the interests of this country than anything which had happened during the last 14 years. We had no longer a Minister who had told us in 1875, three months after the insurrection had broken out, that we should hear little more of it, and that our interests lay rather in China than in Turkey; who, in 1876, had informed us that Russia could not go to war on account of financial difficulties; a Minister, who was the intimate friend and associate of the Russian Ambassador, and who had told the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) and a deputation of his Party, that they were his employers, and from them he received his instructions; a Minister, who in that House, was obliged to shelter himself under the wing of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt). He believed the country was alive to its danger; but there was one point, which had been referred to by the right hon. Member for Greenwich, in which he thought injustice had been done to Lord Derby. He had reproached the Government with not having pointed out what they objected to in the terms of peace, which had been submitted by Count Schouvaloff in 1877; but if the right hon. Gentleman had read the despatch of Lord Derby of June, 1877, to Lord Augustus Lofus, he would have seen that Lord Derby, when asked by Count Schouvaloff whether he proposed to give any opinion on those proposals, said, that he must consult his Colleagues before doing so, but that his own opinion was that it would be better for Count Schouvaloff not to ask for a reply to his communication—to which his Excellency agreed. It was idle, therefore, to charge the Government with collusion in regard of any pretensions of Russia in 1878, on the ground that Lord Derby had never given any answer to the projects of the peace they intended to ask. The country was happily alive to the situation, for it was aware what had been the policy of Russia for more than 100 years. In 1768, Russia had no settlements on the Black Sea; then she had undertaken a war against Turkey on the same pretence as the recent war—informing other countries that it was undertaken in the cause of their common Christianity. Then had come the Treaty of Kainardji, and the first annexation on the coasts of the Black Sea. The same plea had been put forward on behalf of the Greeks in the Morea, in 1828, and the war had ended in the Treaty of Adrianople, giving still further territory to Russia in Asia. The result now was that Russia had gone 1,000 miles south-east, annexed Batoum, and made such advances in Central Asia that, as the House had just heard, her boundary was only 240 miles from our Frontier. In a passage of Lord Salisbury's despatch, it was pointed out that Prince Gortschakoff had declared that only European questions should be submitted to a Congress. But what were those European questions? Bessarabia was a European question, but it was not to be submitted to the Congress. It might be paradoxical, but he would ask whether African or Asiatic questions might not be European questions? As they knew, the Dardanelles divided Europe from Asia. ["Hear, hear!"] He was glad to have told hon. Members opposite something they did not know before. Again, the whole question of the Egyptian Government succession was settled by a European Treaty; and, in fact, if all the questions that had or could arise were gone through, it would be found that British interests, properly so-called, would be thrust out into the cold unless they could be considered as affected by our relations not only in and with Europe, but with Asia also. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) said that Bessarabia might be settled by Russia and Roumania, without reference to Europe; but that was not the fact. In 1856, the Congress of Paris decided that, in consequence of the defective administration of Russia with regard to keeping open the mouths of the Danube, that district should be taken from them, and the duty of keeping open the mouths of the Danube devolved upon a mixed Commission. If hon. Members would refer to the Correspondence between this country and Russia during 1849 and 1853, first by Lord Palmerston and then by Lord Clarendon, they would find complaints of the unremoved obstructions which prevented our ships entering the Danube; and, on one occasion, there were 25 English ships so hindered, because the Russians refused to take the most ordinary means to clear the mouths of the Danube. The right hon. Member for Greenwich glanced but slightly at the question of the Straits. The matter was one which had been discussed before in the House; and it had been suggested—he believed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham—that a compromise should be effected, by limiting the number of ships of war that should be allowed to pass through the Straits at the same time. This was a sort of artificial restriction, which had been unsuccessfully tried in the Black Sea, and he should be sorry to see the system again resorted to. It was a curious fact that neutralization was first commenced by Russia herself, who, in 1813 and 1828, forced the Persian Government to make Treaties, by which no war flag was allowed to fly in the Caspian Sea except that of Russia. The right hon. Member for Greenwich had, in the course of his speech, accused Lord Salisbury of stating opinions unworthy of the meanest attorney—language which he thought scarcely proper to be used in that House. With regard to the allegation of misstatement, he maintained that a more unfounded charge was never brought by one public man against another. The right hon. Gentleman had often, when he had spoken early in a debate, said that attacks were made upon him which it was known he could not, in consequence of the rules of debate, answer. Similarly, he felt justified in saying of the right hon. Gentleman, that he had that evening made charges against Lord Salisbury which he would not have made if the noble Lord had been present in the House. The right hon. Member said that in Lord Salisbury's despatch there were statements which were not creditable; but comments were not misstatements, and, whether creditable or not, that did not depend on any opinion expressed by the right hon. Member. The first accusation of mis-statement was that the future Ruler of Servia would be practically chosen by Russia; but if the right hon. Member had consulted the Treaty itself, and quoted Article VII. properly, he would have seen that Lord Salisbury was perfectly justified in that remark. A brief study of history, and an application of it to the present case, would show that the choice was to follow the precedent established in the Danubian Principalities in 1830, when the Councils were chosen by Russia, and administered the Principalities under the superintendence of high officials appointed by the Russian Government, the Porte solemnly undertaking to confirm the administrative regulations laid down by Russia. The right hon. Member was very severe on Lord Salisbury's remarks upon Article XVIII., which he said was beneath the meanest attorney. But, anyone who read the Treaty, must see at a glance, that Lord Salisbury was justified in saying that it would practically put the Greek inhabitants of Epirus and Thessaly under the supervision of Russia. He would not discuss the boundaries of the New Bulgaria. But no one could deny that they were to be very large; that they were to extend from the Danube and the Black Sea to the Ægean, and that they would give Russia access to the Mediterranean. Well, if Russia were to have the administration of this new Province, if she were to have the education of the children, if she were to have possession of the mouths of the Danube, and if she were to be allowed to remain in the new Province for two years, the natural end must inevitably be that there would be no difference between Russia and Bulgaria. And what would be the result? Russia, the only really despotic Government in Europe, which had destroyed the Constitutions Poland and Turkey, and had crushed the rising freedom of Hungary, would be brought into the Mediterranean, to overawe, it might be, constitutional nations, whose liberty had been partly established by English arms and English influence. What he wanted to see was the peace of Europe secure, and the interests of this country made safe. These objects, he believed, would be secured by Lord Salisbury's despatch; because it made known our wishes, in a clear, straightforward, and manly way, to foreign Powers. We should experience in the Government no more drifting or resigning. If the Government were determined to do its duty, he hoped it would be supported by a united Parliament, as he believed it was by a united people.


trusted that the recent change in the Ministry would mark a change in our policy on this question. He could not help remembering that the late Foreign Secretary had long had notice of the intentions of the Russian Government, and that he had taken no step to let it be known that we could not assent to their being carried into effect. He hoped that the Government would now be united in opinion, because he would rather see them go wrong, holding together, than disunited and changing their opinions from day to day. He did not care for that judicial sort of mind that saw so forcibly both sides of any question that it could never arrive at any decision, and he hailed this despatch of Lord Salisbury as indicating, at all events, energy and vigour on the part of Her Majesty's Government. He agreed, however, with the right hon. Member for Greenwich, that Her Majesty's Government were bound to do everything possible to induce the other Powers to go into the Congress before they even thought of war. For himself, he certainly was no admirer of Russia. He had read and listened with deep regret to several pro-Russian speeches from various hon. Members, and, above all, to that of the right hon. Member for the London University (Mr. Lowe), and he could only tell the right hon. Gentleman, in whose election he (Mr. Goldsmid) had taken an active part, that on this subject he by no means represented the opinion of the University which had elected him. But, strongly as he felt that Russia had gone to war for selfish purposes, he thought that it was the duty of the Government to do all they could to avoid the mischiefs of war, which would spread grief and sorrow in many homes throughout the country. On one point he entirely disagreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to make out that Lord Salisbury was inaccurate when he said that the influence of Russia would predominate in the election of the future Sovereign of Bulgaria. But it could not be forgotten that there was to be an army of occupation, consisting of at least 50,000 Russian troops, in Bulgaria for two years. Anyone who took an interest in foreign affairs knew very well how matters were managed when there was an army of occupation. He remembered, when Savoy was annexed to France, how things were arranged at the ballot-box, and how great the numbers were for union with France; yet, nevertheless, he ventured to say that the annexation of Savoy and Nice was made against the feeling of the Province and the whole Italian people. When Russia had an army of occupation in Bulgaria, Russia would have no difficulty in so manipulating the ballot-box, even though it were to be used in an assembly of notables, that the man of her choice would be chosen; and the statement of Lord Salisbury, though strong, was justified. It was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to create a true and real Conference, and to say that they would be no parties to any so-called settlement of the Eastern Question which would simply transfer great Provinces from Turkish misrule to Russian despotism. There were two kinds of freedom—one which relied on the intelligent co-operation and choice of an active population, and was regulated alone by their just regard for each other's right; the other, which depended for its nominal existence on the beck of an absolute monarch. No British Government should be found supporting the latter sort of freedom. Consequently, he urged the Government to let that be clearly understood, and to do everything to create a public spirit in Eastern Europe. For that, Russia had little regard. Her treatment of Roumania was an example. He was not prejudiced in favour of Roumania, for the Government and people of Roumania had treated very cruelly the Jewish population; but he liked to give honour where honour was due. He could not but admire the gallantry of the Roumanians in the recent contest. If they had not given aid to Russia at a critical moment, the result of the war might have been very different. Roumania entered upon that contest in consequence of the pledge of Russia that her territory should be inviolate. How had that pledge been kept? Another instance was Russia's treatment of the United Greek Church. Consequently, he thought he was justified in urging that if the rising Nationalities in the East required the support of stronger States in their infantile period, let them be under European and not under Russian supervision; for Russia was not likely to consider the welfare of those populations alone, but her own future opportunities of aggrandizement. He trusted, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government would be strong in holding that the enlarged Bulgaria, Servia, Montenegro, and other Principalities, must be self-supporting, and not merely dependent on the beck of Muscovite despotism. Let them be really free, independent alike of Sultan and Czar. The Government ought also to insist with a strong hand and a loud voice that the fortresses of the Straits should be razed and dismantled, and that ingress and egress should be given to all nations to and from the Black Sea, and egress to Russia from the Black Sea. Every Power should have free access both for ships of war and merchant vessels to that sea, and then we could, practically, hold our own against Russia, and she would have more to fear from us than we to fear from her. Under these circumstances, he would not join in opposing Her Majesty's Government; but their responsibility was very great at the present moment. If the Government said they considered it their duty to call out the Reserves in the interests of the British Empire, and for the preservation of its honour, he did not think he should be justified in refusing; though, of course, they would be held responsible for the course they pursued, and would hereafter at the proper time be called strictly to account.


Sir, my hon. Friend who has just sat down (Mr. Goldsmid) has taken a course somewhat different from that which has been adopted by many preceding speakers; for while he called upon the Government, on their responsibility, to state that they have in the past endeavoured to preserve peace, and that in the future they will be guided by a consideration for the honour of the country and of that which is due to its interests, he has called upon us also to say that we are desirous that there should be a European guarantee in the East of Europe and not a Russian one alone. I think I may assure him on all these points, that the Government have acted in the past, are acting in the present, and will act in the future, in accordance with the sentiments which he has expressed. It was not my intention this evening to trouble the House; but, unfortunately, during the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone), something that he said so strongly attracted my attention, that I took up a torn envelope from the floor and took down what he said. This led to a series of challenges, which the right hon. Gentleman expected me to reply to, and which I have waited to reply to until he himself was present. The right hon. Gentleman is an ex-Prime Minister of the Crown, and he is one who, by his great talents and the great part which he has played in this country, must always command and attract attention, not only in the House, but in the country. And the right hon. Gentleman, as I understand him to-night, has told us that his great object in speaking has been, if possible, to bring about a Congress of the European Powers for the purpose of settling the Eastern Question. Well, Sir, when the right hon. Gentleman rose, interposing between the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) and the House, taking the place which is usually occupied by one who moves an Amendment, I imagined that he, as, vir pietate gravis, was to get up, and, with a judicial and calm spirit, was to give to the House such information and guidance as would bring it to a right and safe conclusion; and, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman wished for unity, for he was against a division of the House, but he was not against division in the country. His whole tone was one which was to depreciate the Government that represents the country, to convey to the country that it had a Government which had been unable in times past to guide it with success, and which, in asking its confidence now, was demanding of it that for which it had no justification in the past and no promise in the future. Therefore, while he was asking for a Congress, I venture to say that he was doing all that was possible for him to prevent a meeting of European Powers as far as his influence was concerned; but I am thankful to say, that by the course he has lately taken, that influence is not what it was in times past. I cannot but feel that when the right hon. Gentleman will not appeal to a division of the House, it is because he knows that he will not be followed by those who were his Friends in times past, but who have repudiated his policy and thrown aside his views and his Leadership. I say that the right hon. Gentleman in the course he has taken in condemning to-night the policy of the Government, as set out in the speeches of Members of the Government and in the Circular of Lord Salisbury, has taken his opportunity to show that he opposes our measures; and, it is not merely because he fears he will be put in a minority, that he will not face a division, but because there is division among his own Friends. So he cannot support his views by his vote. But if he holds sincerely the views he has stated, it is his duty to protest against the action of the Government, not only by his voice, but also by his vote. The right hon. Gentleman seems to me to be in that position. He has told us that he is convinced that the country almost unanimously is in favour of a policy of peace, and he has told us that that is his policy. I know not whether the country then considers that the Ministry is a Ministry of peace, as we have said; because, as far as I can ascertain, both in borough and county, we have not found so unanimous a desire for opposition to the Government. The elections which have recently taken place in counties and boroughs do not show it. At this moment one Metropolitan county is vacant, with a constituency representing all classes, and largely those to whom the right hon. Gentleman has been at times inclined to appeal, and yet, so far as I have heard, my noble Friend (Lord George Hamilton), whose talents and politics are deserving of the honour, is at present standing for the county unopposed. Now, I must go further, and tender my tribute of thanks to those who act so differently from the right hon. Gentleman—to the noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Hartington), not because he has deserted his duty, or is doing anything in favour of this side of the House; but because, in the exercise of it, he has declined to be a party to such vague and wild declamation, and to statements so depreciatory of the Government. There is a Government which he cannot displace; so, while he fairly criticizes, as is his duty, he does not resist it—with a fair right, hereafter, to challenge the policy which it has adopted, when he understands more fully all those circumstances and negotiations to which at present he must needs be somewhat of a stranger. I say this, not to make any attack upon those who act differently and who come forward, like the hon. Member for Carlisle, against us not only on one particular point, but on many points—such as the reduction of the Army. I am only sorry for his sake, that mankind still remains quarrelsome, and that we should still be obliged to arm ourselves. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) told us that we had no Army worth considering in India, that we were in no sense a military Power, and, that, so far as we were concerned, it came to this—that unless we could get somebody to fight for us we had better hold our peace. Well, that is not the opinion of the Government. The Government has thought it its duty, its imperative duty, that it should prepare itself for contingencies, believing that England, like the rest of Europe, has a deep interest in what has occurred in the South-Eastern part of Europe. That is in passing. Now, the right hon. Gentleman went through the different points on which he relied, and I will endeavour to reply to him. He said we had put a very lax interpretation upon the Statute. He said there was no great emergency, that the time had not come for us to act as we are acting, and that in 1870 it was never meant that the Act then passed under his Government for calling on the Reserves should be so used. He then gave certain instances in which he said that during the last 15 years there would, under our view of the case, have been great emergencies. Well, let us see what they were. There was, in 1870, the Franco-German War. There were no Army Reserves at that time, and what did the Government and the right hon. Gentleman do? They came down to the House for a Vote of £2,000,000, and called out 20,000 additional recruits. Was that a great emergency? Was the Trent affair in 1861 an emergency? It was such an emergency as this, that strong action was taken—Lord Palmerston not only got troops together, but he actually sent them to Canada. Then comes the War in 1864. I confess that I speak with hesitation of it, for neither France nor England made a very creditable exhibition. That was the fatal cause of much of the European trouble that has followed. I have a great sympathy with the drawing together of the German Empire—a great sympathy for the ties of blood which made that great Empire; but I cannot say but that I regret that the Forces of Prussia and Austria should have been used to crush that gallant little State, Denmark. I cannot but regret that that first instance of might taking its place against right was the one which has given an impetus to the same sort of thing in Europe since, and particularly to the condition of things in which we now find ourselves. These were the right hon. Gentleman's three instances. In 1861, I say there was the action of the Government which showed there was a case of great emergency; in 1870, the right hon. Gentleman acted as if there was a case of great emergency by calling out 20,000 men; of 1864, I will say nothing. Then the right hon. Gentleman compared the speech of my right hon. Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) with the Circular of Lord Salisbury. Well, what was the course my right hon. Friend took? Impressed with the gravity of the situation—Europe all suspense, awaiting to know what is about to happen—my right hon. Friend, with an anxious desire to bring about peace; speaking in a tone consistent with the gravity of the situation, used not a word which could by any possibility offend any nation; not a word which could give to Russia any irritation; carefully abstained from saying anything which could impair the hope of bringing about the Congress. How was the speech of my right hon. Friend followed? By the calm, judicial speech of the right hon. Gentleman? The right hon. Gentleman took an entirely different tone, and used language with respect to Lord Salisbury's Circular, to which I will call attention by-and-by. He alleged that we had changed our position. He said that—"You asked for these £6,000,000 to go with might into Conference." Be it so. But, surely, the £6,000,000 are meant to be spent in warlike preparation, for the purpose of being ready for war, if the occasion should arise. It was treated as a precautionary measure. It is true we were ready to go into the Congress, if it was to be a real Congress. We are prepared to go into a Congress to-morrow, provided only that it is real and genuine, so that we may probe these things to the bottom. But I will ask any hon. Gentleman, whatever side of the House he sits on, whatever his sympathies, whether, when he first saw the map which laid down the limits according to the Treaty of San Stefano, he did not hold up his hands in amazement and stand astonished at the difference between the professions to which we have listened and the Treaty which was concluded, so far as Russia and Turkey are concerned, and which was not to be submitted, as a whole, to the Congress for investigation? The right hon. Gentleman then goes on to another point, and I should like to refer to documents which are conclusive on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman, in his long speech on Friday, asked whether Russia was at liberty to withdraw from the Congress at any period she pleased, and were the other Powers at liberty to do the same? Certainly. We have never disputed that in any way. Any Power that goes into the Congress is at liberty to withdraw from it. But that is not the point of Prince Gortchakoff. There is no ambiguity about Prince Gortchakoff. He understands it, if the right hon. Gentleman does not. We objected to such vague terms as "appreciations and judgments," which are not English, but French terms—terms of art—and which did not give us a clear apprehension of what the Russian Government meant to insist upon; we desired to have them made so clear that those who ran might read. What we also asked was this—was the Treaty to be considered altogether? Not necessarily for acceptance, but in order that it might be considered what Articles required acceptance by the other Powers and what did not. What was the answer? The Russian Government, by Prince Gortchakoff, said— It leaves to the other Powers the liberty of raising such questions at the Congress as they may think fit to discuss, and reserves to itself the liberty of accepting, or not accepting, the discussion of these questions. Is there anything to be disputed about that? Suppose that any Member of the Congress was to discuss the question of Bessarabia. Russia says—"Oh, that is excluded from the discussion—we will not accept the discussion." That would be in accordance with what Prince Gortchakoff says. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the liberty of withdrawal. Can anything be conceived more absurd or even ridiculous than that Russia, on arriving at a particular point, should say—"I am going to withdraw it from discussion. I will have nothing to say to it. Discuss it; but as between Turkey and ourselves it is concluded." What would be the use of such a Congress as that sitting? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say, on the other hand, that if England were to withdraw from the Conference, the other Powers should be at liberty to settle everything as against England without England's concurrence, and that England was to be bound by their act? I hope I live in an England which would refuse to be so treated and bound. England is desirous of peace and loves peace, but England has a European connection, an Asiatic connection, an Empire which extends to every part of the earth; and England, if driven away from the discussion of a question in which her interests are involved, is she to depart from the Congress, to be driven away from the discussion of points in which she takes a material interest, and leave them to be settled behind her back, and without her concurrence? Sir, I say that is an impossible condition of things—one to which no House of Commons would agree. On the contrary, any English House of Commons would insist on our being heard in respect of Treaties to which we are a party. Well, it is hardly worth while to touch on the little points to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. One, however, he surprised me by referring to. He said that Lord Salisbury in his Circular threw over the Ottoman Empire, because, in one clause, he spoke of the Government of Constantinople. Well, the right hon. Gentleman is a great writer, and I daresay he has often changed about his terms with a view to avoid tautology; and if he will read the clause, he will see what Lord Salisbury did. The use of the phrase was merely a form of expression, and meant nothing in particular, but was adopted in order to avoid tautology, and is fully explained by the context. Then, the right hon. Gentleman has complained of the way in which the Government has conducted this business. He says that it has pursued a vacillating course, that when he has heard anything bad from one of its Members, he has been content, knowing that something good must speedily follow, and vice versâ. Now, having heard something which he will doubtless think very bad to-night, can he not be content and expect something good next week? If he would only do this, he would save us a great deal of trouble. Then the right hon. Gentleman said much harm was done by the resignation of two of my noble Colleagues, whose speeches had fostered the feeling in favour of peace. Possibly their speeches may have had that effect, and may have been acceptable to numbers of people in this country as viewed in that light; but can he point to any of the speeches of their Colleagues which had a contrary effect? I do not think they spoke in a more conciliatory tone than my right hon. Friend. A noble Duke has made some allusion to a speech of mine, in which I mentioned trumpets and drums, but I did not make use of the words in a warlike sense at all. In order to give an idea of the extent of the Empire, I said that in some part of the Queen's Dominions, the drum was heard at every hour of an English day and night, and I said, or meant to say, nothing more, and was far from using it with reference to any warlike purpose whatever. From the time of the resignation of my noble Friends, the right hon. Gentleman says, we have been on a declivity, and among other things as showing this, he mentions the fact that we have a Fleet in the Sea of Marmora. A great deal has been said on this subject, and we have been told by Russia that, except for strategic reasons, there would be no approach to Constantinople. But was there a single strategic reason for the approach either to the lines at Gallipoli or to Constantinople? There was an absolute surrender by Turkey at Kezanlik, and there was no occasion for ever advancing beyond Adrianople. In spite of that, there was an alarming advance in both directions, and great consternation prevailed on the subject. Though at the time at which the Fleet entered the Sea of Marmora, there was no danger to British subjects, there had been danger, and it had been the invariable practice of this country to send its Fleets wherever British subjects are in danger. At the same time, I would be uncandid, if I said that the Fleet was there for that purpose only. The Fleet is there as a fair representation of the power of England—a fair representation of the intention of England to have its share in the settlement of the Eastern Question. So far as I understand, that was the reason why we sent the Fleet into the Sea of Marmora. Not in a spirit of hostility to anyone there, for there is no desire on the part of the Government that the Fleet should come into collision with anybody; but it is only reasonable that, having the Fleet there, other ships should be so stationed at Gallipoli as to make it easy for the Fleet to re-pass the Dardanelles when the time comes for it to leave the Sea of Marmora. Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to the rupture of the Congress negotiations; but that is no fault of ours. We were co-signatories of the Treaties of 1856 and 1871, and we entered into an agreement with Russia in the latter Treaty, that no one Power should withdraw from them without the consent of the other; but she has withdrawn from them by the Treaty of San Stefano, and has raised our right to take part in every single point which is an alteration of the Treaties of 1856 and 1871. If we are going to enter the Congress, existing Treaties must be re-organized, for they are the groundwork, or we shall refuse to go. I am quite sure that a great many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite feel quite as much as I do, that when we are accused of having broken up the Congress, we have only asked for what we have a perfect and absolute right to ask. The right hon. Gentleman himself has said, when the time comes, demand what is right, and stick to it; and I say to the nation, if you enter into Treaties, insist on the discussion of every point in these Treaties which are now proposed to be affected without any reference to you as a cosignatory. The right hon. Gentleman then said—"But your Foreign Secretary leaves you?" Quite true; but it should be borne in mind that he was with us and assented to every one of the items on which the right hon. Gentleman has laid stress as being objectionable, and that he consented with us—nay, more, he urged in the strongest manner the terms which we laid down as conditions precedent to our entering the Congress—terms without which it would be perfectly hopeless and futile to enter the Congress at all. It has been suggested that a second Plenipotentiary should have been sent to settle the preliminaries of the Congress, and that, no doubt, would be all very well as far as mere technical preliminaries are concerned; but the preliminaries upon the settlement of which disagreement has arisen were matters which go to the whole base and substance of the matter—namely, whether you were to submit the Treaties of 1856 and 1871 as well as the Treaty of San Stefano to the consideration of the Congress, and we said if you do admit them, we will go into the Congress, but if you will not we refuse to go into the Congress. Well, then, my noble Friend the late Foreign Secretary was in agreement with the rest of his Colleagues also in reference to the Vote of Credit; and in reference to that matter, I may mention that England is not the only European country which has asked for such a Vote, but that there is another country which has done so—a country which is deeply interested in this matter. And now we are told, again and again, that we are isolated; but I say—Wait! Do not be too hasty in coming to that conclusion. There are deep interests involved in this question, and I venture to say with regard to the Circular Despatch of Lord Salisbury that it will live, and that its influence will be felt not only in this country, but throughout Europe. It followed, no doubt, the Vote of Credit, and it has been followed by the steps which we are now taking; but I say that, so far from our taking those steps being drifting into war, it is the bringing to an anchor, it is the placing ourselves in a position where we are understood and intelligible. These steps which we have taken, therefore, will be, in my opinion, the most conclusive for peace which have ever been taken. It is the drifting of unpreparedness which we have to fear. We find that the right hon. Gentleman opposite objects to the use of the word "drifting" as applied to the Crimean War; but if we did not drift into that war, shame and woe be upon the heads of those who went into it so unpreparedly! Why did Lord Derby stay with us? Because he felt that the course we were pursuing, at least up to the time he left us, tended towards peace, and that the object in view was peace. I now come to the question raised with regard to the calling out of the Reserves. In 1870 a change was effected in our Army, and instead of having long service in it we introduced the system of short service in the Army, and subsequent service in the Reserve; so that, instead of having an Army of 100,000 men, we might have an Army of 160,000 or 180,000 men—60,000 or 80,000 of whom might be in the Reserve, who might be called up in time of necessity. What with sending out our best men to the battalions stationed in India and in the Colonies, we have at home only young soldiers, and we fill up the home battalions in time of emergency from the old, seasoned soldiers who form the Reserve. The consequence of the system is that, ordinarily, you have a number of young men in the ranks, and none of your battalions are filled to the full measure until a time of war. The moment that is threatened, it is an essential step at once to put the Reserves into motion, otherwise you might call upon them too late. If there is one point more essential than another, it is that the men of a regiment should know one another; and if you waited till war was proclaimed, and then called out the Reserves, you would fill up regiments with men who are unacquainted with them, and with those whom they are to join. Moreover, the Reserves have been absent from their work for some time; and, of course, they are, to a certain extent, out of the practice essential to make good soldiers. But they very quickly regain their old habits, and soon become fit for the work entrusted to them. When you talk about our calling out our few Reserves having alarmed Europe, it is simply absurd, when other countries have been doing the same thing. Why, look at the state of Europe! You may hear the tramp of armed men in every corner. There is not a square mile in any part of it in which you may not hear the tread of armed men taken from peaceful pursuits. So much is this the case, that even the country which has had enormous sums paid into its coffers finds itself poor on account of the immense Forces which it keeps under arms. We, in this country, have taken a different course. We have only a small Army; it is true it is an expensive Army, because it is a Volunteer Army. But I believe it is a system which will commend itself to us in the strongest way, if it really comes out as we expect. I cannot help thinking that those who hesitate about calling out the Reserves on this occasion might well hold their hands and see whether we really have the Reserves. Some people say we have not, but I believe in it. I believe these men will appear in the ranks; but, at all events, it is a beneficial thing that we should see whether we can rely on these regiments which are now in the background, but which I hope will come forward and show that England has a reliable Force. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of Government being chivalrous in taking up the cause of the injured; but there is a chivalry which, I am sorry to say, is sometimes neglected, and that is the chivalry of standing up for what you have a right to, even if it is supposed that you will have to stand alone. I am told by some that we shall have no Allies. That is the question of the future. I hope we shall not require them; but this country has before now engaged in a war without Allies, and when we were weaker than we are now. This country has been able to maintain its position on every sea, and has shown itself not without effect on many shores. It is true, I believe, that we have never sent out a greater Force than about 30,000 or 33,000 men; but if the need now arises, I believe we should be able to send out English soldiers to a very much greater extent; and that, moreover, a military spirit now exists very much among the Volunteers, which makes us infinitely stronger than in any former time. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that peace is a great object which the majority of the people of this country have at heart. But anxious as the people are for peace, they say—"For Heaven's sake, do not let us preserve it by any dishonourable means; give up nothing you are justly entitled to, and, above all, do not give up anything which would make peace secure. Our object should be to make peace so sure that nothing will break it as far as human ingenuity can settle affairs." Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman then went on from those points to attack the despatch of my noble Friend, and I cannot help thinking that the remarks he made were somemhat harsh and undeserved. Nor do I think that the right hon. Gentleman, when he recalls some of the terms he used, will think they will conduce to the fairness of controversy in this House, or that they will be such as will be looked back upon by himself with that due regard to his position and his dignity which, I am sure, none of us would wish to see diminished. But when the right hon. Gentleman said the language in that despatch was not consistent with decency and honour—that it was inconsistent with national honour—that it showed the spirit of a mean attorney, and the meanest of attorneys—surely, that is language which is hardly deserved by my noble Friend who is well known in this House, and such as the despatch in no degree merits. Now, let us take these points, though my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) touched on them. As the right hon. Gentleman called my attention to them, I should be sorry not to answer those points on which he addressed the House. Now, with respect to the Treaty of Kainardji, there has always been a dispute upon it; but I will say this, that the decision upon the Treaty of Kainardji by the Great Powers was this—that Russia had no right of Protectorate in any sense of the Christiana of Turkey. I know the right hon. Gentleman takes his view of it. In Article 7 of that Treaty, the Sultan promises to protect the Christian religion in all its churches.—and also agrees that the Ministers of the Imperial Court of Russia may make representations in favour of the church to be erected at Constantinople, as well as those officiating therein, and promises to receive those remonstrances as coming from a friendly Power. The Sultan makes a general promise, and makes a specific engagement with Russia. Anybody reading that would see that Russia was excluded from making any interference in the domestic government of Turkey, except in the case of the Christian church at Constantinople. That exception proves that all the rest were excluded. But Russia claimed, under the Treaty of Kainardji, a general Protectorate of the Christian inhabitants of Turkey. Upon that, decisions were come to by the Great Powers, whereby that claim was disposed of. And now let us see whether my noble Friend is wrong in saying that this Treaty is not more limited than that of Kainardji? The Treaty of San Stefano gives Russia the right of interfering on behalf of certain Christians all over the Turkish Empire. Does this Treaty, or does it not, afford an opportunity to Russia—I do not say she would use it—of carrying on intrigue in Turkey, and of bringing about its ruin? I ask any candid person to say, does my noble Friend describe it unduly when he describes this Treaty as not more limited than that of Kainardji? Then, as to the indemnity—I will not differ from what the right hon. Gentleman said. The mere point of money I will not take up, but the question involved—as respects territory, he himself said—must come under the consideration of the Powers. With respect to Bessarabia, the right hon. Gentleman says we do not enter into that subject with sufficient minuteness. We say the compulsory alienation of Bessarabia from Roumania and the acquisition of the important harbour of Batoum will make Russia dominant over all the Black Sea. The right hon. Gentleman—having this distinct intimation from Russia of what she is determined upon, and Russia having declared that if she cannot have Bessarabia otherwise, she will take it by force—appears inclined to do on behalf of Roumania what is, no doubt, a chivalrous act on his part. And it is one of those chivalrous acts in regard to which he says he could sympathize with the Government, if it would draw the sword for these grand sentimental objects. Well, Sir, sentiment is a hard master; and I do not know where it might load us. The real fact is, that Bessarabia has a very material influence on the Danube and the Black Sea, and a most material influence on the well-being of Roumania; and it cannot be wondered at that Roumania has taken the course she has done in existing circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman says the terms were known to us with respect to Bessarabia before. That was prior to the interference of Roumania in the war. But it was treated then very differently by Russia, and it was on the supposition that Roumania was not to help her in the war; but she did help her at a most material point, and in a most material manner. And, therefore, so far as that is concerned, Roumania has a good deal the best of the argument. And here I would remark that the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the importance of a large Bulgaria, which he compared with a large Roumania, as a check to Russian influence. That is a most extraordinary argument, because Roumania became, first, a road for the Russians; and, secondly, became their most important Ally. Yet, we are told, that we are to erect a large Bulgaria, under Russian supervision and control, and to say that such a Bulgaria is to be a real and effective resistance to Russia. After the experience of Roumania, I cannot say that I have any great faith in that. Well, the right hon. Gentleman, with great justice, said that at the time these terms were communicated by Count Schouvaloff, of course it was impossible for Her Majesty's Government to publish them. That is quite obvious on the face of the documents. But the right hon. Gentleman says we took no part in respect to these terms at that time, and that thus we misled Russia. I should like, for a few minutes, if the House will bear with me, to explain what really took place. On the 8th of June these terms were first spoken of to Lord Derby; and observe what the communication of Count Schouvaloff was to Lord Derby! Count Schouvaloff said that in addition, and as a separate matter, he was authorized to offer an exchange of ideas on the question of possible conditions of peace, supposing the Porte—now mark these words—to be willing to come to terms before the Russian Forces had crossed the Balkans. It was all founded on this point—whether the Porte would be inclined to listen to terms—possible terms—at all? The terms mentioned by Count Schouvaloff were never regarded as possible terms by Her Majesty's Government. That was quite obvious from the course we took. They were sent to Mr. Layard, who was asked whether there was any probabibility of the Porte acceding to the terms? otherwise any attempt at mediation would be useless. The Porte was not only not disposed to listen to these terms, but would not then listen to any terms at all—for, according to Mr. Layard's despatch, the Porte was confident of being able to drive the Russians back across the Danube, and also of finally repulsing them in Armenia. Therefore, Turkey was not disposed to listen to any terms of peace at that time. Lord Derby, writing to Lord Augustus Loftus, said he did not understand the terms to be put before the British Cabinet for an expression of opinion, and before he could express one upon them, it would be necessary for him to consult his Colleagues, which he would be ready to do if it was thought desirable; but his Lordship added, that in his personal judgment, it was impossible to expect the Porte to accede to those proposals until it was reduced to the last extremity. It was finally distinctly understood upon both sides that the communication was to be of a personal and private character. Therefore, the thing fell to the ground. Besides that, when we got a little further into August, what was the course of conversation between the Emperor and Colonel Wellesley? Was it said that these terms were to be strictly adhered to as they had been expressed by Count Schouvaloff? How does he put it? He says— The terms of peace required by the Emperor are those lately communicated to Lord Derby by Count Schouvaloff, and will remain as long as England maintains her position of neutrality. His Majesty has no ideas of annexation, beyond that, perhaps, of the territory lost by Russia in 1856, and, perhaps, of a certain portion of Asia Minor. Again, the Emperor will not occupy Constantinople for military honour—but he is near enough already. Again, His Majesty was ready to treat on suitable terms with the Sultan; but as for England, her mediation in favour of the Turks could not be entertained. What was the use, then, of considering these terms of peace? As soon as it was known that the Porte would not listen to them, England was compelled to wash her hands of them. The important thing is that the Emperor qualified his statements to Colonel Wellesley with the word "perhaps;" and, in addition, said that he looked to a Conference for a final settlement of the question. I have gone through some of the points to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, but my notes are incomplete. It seems that the right hon. Gentleman is full of apprehension. He says—first, do nothing without Europe; and we have endeavoured to do nothing without Europe, and we have done everything in our power to bring Europe to one mind, and to bring things to a satisfactory issue. What does the right hon. Gentleman say? He says, look to the Congress to pacify Thessaly; and we do look to the Congress, but we do not know what will be subjected to it, and what will not. We will do all we can for the pacification of Thessaly, and to bring freedom to Mussulmans, Slavs, and Serbs alike; and I trust that any settlement will ensure good government that cannot be broken up by the intrigue of any selfish Power. As for the other points, I must remark that I do not think this the time for a discussion on the Straits, though I quite admit that they have been specially spoken of as subject to the Conference. But what the right hon. Gentleman is most afraid for is the local freedom of the Bulgarians. He says—"Watch Russia." What, watch the Liberator! And—"Watch Austria." Watch Austria! Why, it struck me with astonishment, that we were to watch half Europe. And yet the right hon. Gentleman told us that it was a mis-statement to speak of the election of the Prince of Bulgaria as under Russian influence. Surely, the Prince of the Bulgarians will want watching, for, although he is to be elected freely among the Bulgarians, they are to be assisted by 20,000 Russian troops. And we have these words that the re-organization is to be made "under the superintendence of an Imperial Commissioner, and in the presence of an Ottoman Commissioner." My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch referred to the Danubian Principalities; and it is not too much to say that my noble Friend did not use too strong language, when he said that the Treaty would practically make Russia the Ruler of Bulgaria. But, after all, this is matter of opinion, and it is not a point which is to be spoken of as contrary to decency and honour. Surely, in our interpretation of the Treaty, we are not to be bound by the view the right hon. Gentleman may take—and quite conscientiously, I have no doubt, my noble Friend takes his own view and our view. It is open to everyone to say whether it is the right one. There is no concealment on the part of my noble Friend when he puts forward this as his view of Article 7; and I object that such language as has been used by the right hon. Gentleman should be applied to my noble Friend in the House of Commons. Nobody, Sir, can doubt that there is at this moment, assuming the Treaty of San Stefano to stand, that there is a great darkening overshadowing the South-East of Europe. No one can doubt that one Power in Europe is supreme there at this moment. No one can doubt that Turkey has by that Power been absolutely crushed. The right hon. Gentleman speaks of what was done at the Conference; but the right hon. Gentleman himself more than once said that he was desirous that Turkey should exercise dominion over those States, with proper guarantees for their good government. That was the tone taken at the Conference; but there was no question of this creation of vast independent States. The circumstances are altogether different. Sir, I feel deeply the gravity of the situation. I trust I have not said a word to bring about a collision of opinion or feeling, or which might hinder the establishment of a secure peace. My strong desire has been otherwise. I have endeavoured to confine myself to the points mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. Is it possible that an English Minister, having the interest of England at heart, could possibly wish for war? It is simply absurd that, with our interest in commerce throughout the world, in trade at home, our interest in the happiness of the people, in their freedom from bloodshed, in the quietness of their homes throughout the country—it is, I say, simply impossible that we could be desirous of war. Sir, it is so ridiculous an accusation, that I am almost ashamed to answer it. But, Sir, there are worse evils than war. Worse evils arise from the degradation of a country that is asserting its position and claiming its rights—degradation from the refusal to that country of the right to exercise its just influence in the settlement of the administration of a State in which it has held great interests. It is an insult to such a country to be driven from the free discussion of those points to which it had committed itself by its own adhesion and its own signature in conjunction with other Great Powers. It then becomes the duty of such a country, even at the risk which I, for one, am most anxious to avoid, of some bloodshed to maintain its position. It will only, by deferring the time, weaken itself for future effort, when war will come down upon it heavily and earnestly and against its will. It is better to take time by the forelock; and, if this country is unjustly excluded from its rights, to place itself in such a position as to show that it means to maintain them, and not to allow the Empire of England to be trodden down and dishonoured even by the greatest Empire or by any Power in the world.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. E. Jenkins.)


I hope the House will continue the discussion this day, as we are getting now near the period of the Holidays, and there are still matters to be discussed in connection with the financial measures of the Government. I hope, therefore, it will be convenient to go on with the debate this evening, and that hon. Members who have Motions on the Paper will allow it to take precedence.

Motion agreed to.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow.