HC Deb 05 February 1878 vol 237 cc1069-139


Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [31st January],"That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair"(for Committee of Supply).

And which Amendment was, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, having been informed in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech that the conditions on which Her Majesty's neutrality is founded had not been infringed by either belligerent engaged in the war in the East of Europe, and having since received no information sufficient to justify a departure from the policy of neutrality and peace, sees no reason for adding to the burthens of the people by voting unnecessary Supplies,"— (Mr. William Edward Forster,)

—instead thereof.

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

Debate resumed.


said, that, after the exciting scene which the House had just witnessed, he must feel as if he were acting in the character of an intruder, being the person by whom the attention of the House was to be called to the debate which was still going on. He could assure the House that it was with very serious feelings of diffidence that he ventured into a debate of that importance, to place his opinions before the House. He did not intend to address himself to the questions of policy, except so far as he was compelled to advert to them in the course of his remarks. Those questions had already been dealt with by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen; but it seemed to him, in the first instance, that there were several points on which, unintentionally no doubt, some misrepresentations had been made, and as to which statements had been made in the House which were calculated to mislead, both as to the object and prospective use of the Vote. Now, whatever doubt he might have had otherwise, he would confess that he never felt so confident of the position in which the Government stood as he did on that occasion, and when he found after all that the most earnest hands and eloquent tongues in the House had been able to urge against the Vote, that the position of the Government was so little affected, and their arguments so little disturbed. He would briefly say that the arguments which right hon. Gentlemen opposite had used had divided themselves mainly into four heads. It had been said that the Vote was unprecedented; it had been called "unreal" and a "sham;" it had been said that it could not be expected; and, finally—and he thought with the least justification of all—it had been said that it was a menace to the peace of Europe. Perhaps he might be allowed, in the first instance, to endeavour, however inferior he felt to such antagonists, to correct some mistakes committed by the two right hon. Gentlemen who occupied the attention of the House during the greater portion of last night. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), who spoke last, and to whose words, as at all times, the House gave complete attention, unfortunately spoke at an hour of the night which was unfavourable to the giving of a full report of his observations in the ordinary sources of information; and therefore, if he (Colonel Stanley) misquoted the right hon. Gentleman's words, he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not impute it to any intentional want of courtesy. First, with regard to this Vote being unprecedented, the right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech, took them back to historic—lie had almost said to prehistoric—times. The right hon. Gentleman appealed to the course taken in 1718. He (Colonel Stanley) had not had time, even if he were of opinion that such researches were profitable, to investigate all the authorities cited by the right hon. Gentleman; hut he had looked at one or two of thorn, and was not drawn by that investigation to entirely the same conclusions as the right hon. Gentleman. As he understood the drift of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, it was that there was little or no precedent for these Votes of Credit, except when war was apprehended. With regard to the question of preparation for war, he (Colonel Stanley) would cite are instance. The right hon. Gentleman referred to language used by Mr. Pitt with reference to Spain in 1790; but he (Colonel Stanley) did not find in the report of Mr. Pitt's speech the same inference as that which the right hon. Gentleman sought to establish.


In that case a Vote of Credit was taken, and I expressly cited it as showing the distinction made between that Vote and the Vote in 1791, which was not a money Vote.


said, that what happened was this—Mr. Pitt, in moving for the Vote, said that— There were two views in the contemplation of the Government, the one being a hope, which he believed was not altogether irrational, that the matter in dispute between us and Spain might be accommodated without going to the extremity of war, and the other was that war might be unavoidable. Therefore, he might maintain that the Vote of Credit was laid before the House when the absolute necessity of a war was not fully before the country. He did not wish to follow the right hon. Gentleman into his historical recollections; but one thing did astonish him—that, in the researches of the right hon. Gentleman, there was an obvious gap or hiatus which one could not account for; and, just as by the erratic motions of certain heavenly bodies astronomers were led to look for the disturbing cause, so he could not understand why 1870 was passed over, and he was thus brought to inquire into the reason for the omission.


I spoke at an hour when the ordinary channels of information as to what takes place in Parliament are closed, and this may explain why the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not aware of what I said; but I explained that there were three clear distinctions between the Vote of 1870 and this Vote, and I stated what they were.


said, he took a note of all the right hon. Gentleman's points, and followed him carefully through his speech, and, although there were one or two allusions to the Vote of 1870, he certainly did not find this explanation of different reasons. Still, of course, he accepted the right hon. Gentleman's disclaimer. He thought the right hon. Gentleman's references to the forms of the Vote were somewhat incomplete; because he omitted that of 1870, and one attached some importance to that, because that Vote was obtained by the Government of which he was a Member, and was especially noticeable by the contrast which he and other right hon. Gentlemen on the front Opposition bench had tried to draw between that Vote and this. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) said that it was unheard of to lay a charge on the people without proof that there was full justification for such a measure. He fully agreed with that, and that it rested on them to show that the Vote was required, and he thought the country would accept the proof that was at their disposal, and could be given. The right hon. Gentleman next said that they had no right to ask for money except in time of war; but, turning to the precedent of 1870, they found themselves driven on the horns of a dilemma. Surely the House, at the instigation of the Liberal Government, voted that money on that occasion under a total misapprehension, or else we were not aware at that time that we were in a state of peace. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had commented strongly on the conduct of the Government in asking for a Vote without explaining the purposes to which it was to be devoted. Yet that same right hon. Gentleman, when he asked for a Vote of Credit in 1870, acknowledged it was not possible for him to divulge the reasons which impelled him to the necessity of demanding that Vote; and, as a matter of fact, it was not explained till six days afterwards in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. The Government were challenged to show what the purposes of the present Vote might be, and especially to show how they proposed to provide for it, the right hon. Member for Greenwich being particularly severe in what he said as to the taxation which would be necessary to meet the possible operation of that Vote of Credit. Were they, then, to understand, with the vast financial know-lodge of that right hon. Gentleman and with the distinct explanation of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the present Vote was essentially a Vote of Credit; and that, although it might be granted, it was possible that none of it, and probably scarcely any of it, would be spent—were they to understand that they ought towards the end of the financial year to have imposed additional taxation, a thing inconvenient in itself, likely to cause considerable disturbance in the operations of the public service, and also to provoke premature and informal discussions on the financial arrangements of the ensuing year. What would be the position of a Chancellor of the Exchequer who, having levied additional taxation in such circumstances in the last six weeks of the year, found, after all, that the money he had thus raised was not required? It had been asked why they could take so large a Vote as £6,000,000 when they had so short a time in which to expend it. Now, with regard to any of those Votes in Supply, there was formerly no obligation on the part of the Executive to surrender them, and they were, like all other Votes at an early date in our financial history, available for an unlimited period. Limitations were subsequently introduced, and Army and Navy grants were confined to the financial year. But Votes of Credit escaped from that rule up to a recent date. In regard to the Vote of Credit for the Ashantee War, the Auditor General reported that inconvenience would necessarily have ensued to the public account from the impossibility of adjusting finally or with complete accuracy the regular Estimates of the year, while the Vote of Credit was still partially open. And there was the further objection that advantage might be taken by an unscrupulous Department to swell a Vote in the Estimates by some portion of a Vote of Credit. He would not have alluded to that last consideration but for the fact that recently questions had been put from the other side of the House which went to the whole root of that matter, and which had the appearance of implying that the Government, having overstepped their regular Estimates, were going to supplement them out of the proposed Vote of Credit. He entered his distinct protest against any such principle as that. We prided ourselves upon the greater degree of financial accuracy that was obtained year by year; and he believed that the opinion he held that supplemental expenses should in all cases be dealt with by means of Supplemental Estimates, had the approval even of the right hon. Gentleman. Her Majesty's Government had been called to account for having limited the operation of this Vote to the 31st of March. But did the House see the position in which Her Majesty's Government had placed themselves by putting that limit upon its operation? In taking that course they were doing what every Government should be glad to do with regard to financial matters—namely, increasing the control of the House of Commons. Therefore, if it were to be said that it was a mistake to put this limit upon the operation of the Vote, it should be clearly understood if that limit were extended that it was not the Government that asked for power to do so, but the House that conferred the power. The right hon. Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) drew a most touching picture of the position in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would find himself when the clock struck 12 on the night of the 31st of March, with all his glories run away, and with his money bags collapsed. He, however, ventured to hope that should it be the duty of the Government to apply to the House for an extension of the operation of the Vote to the next financial year, they would meet with the response which the British House of Commons always gave to those Ministers who succeeded in justifying their demands. He relied with much confidence on that patriotism both of the House and of the country, which the right hon. Member for the University of London had gone out of his way to disclaim. He would now proceed to cite authorities in support of his statement. He might, perhaps, be excused by hon. Members for looking up to the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) as a great authority in financial matters. Well, the right hon. Gentleman in the debate on the Abyssinian Vote of Credit on the 26th of November, 1867, said— When there arises an occasion for a great deviation from the usual state of things, and when, under some decision at which the Government has arrived, it becomes necessary to apply a large portion of the Supplies voted for the ordinary peace establishments for a warlike purpose, it becomes then the duty of the Government to submit the matter to Parliament, and ask for Supplies for the purposes of war, quite irrespective of the question whether their legal power to draw upon the Exchequer does or does not exist."'—[3 Hansard, cxc. 301–2.] On the present occasion, Her Majesty's Government did consider that such an increase was necessary; and, acting upon what they believed to be a Constitutional principle, they had applied to the House of Commons for this Vote. Both the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) and the right hon. Member for Greenwich had argued in favour of waiting until the actual necessity arose before proposing such a Vote. They both said that if Her Majesty's Government had waited until an expedition was ready to start the House of Commons would have voted the money without scruple. But what would have been the position of the Government in that case? Owing to the Forms of that House and owing to the very natural interest which hon. Members took in financial discussions, it was most important to consider how our financial machinery would act when we came to act beyond this country. No Vote in Supply could be used unless Ways and Means were granted, not by a Vote of that House, but by Act of Parliament. The result was that had it been necessary to send out an expedition at the date when Notice of this Motion was given by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the earliest date at which a Ways and Means Bill could have received the Royal Assent, assuming that the Standing Orders of both Houses were not suspended, was Monday, the 11th of February. No doubt, in grave circumstances, Her Majesty's Government might take upon themselves the responsibility of action without waiting for such an Act to be passed, trusting that an act of indemnity would be passed or that some other Parliamentary relief would be afforded them; but it certainly was not the wish of Her Majesty's Government that in the present circumstances they should be forced to take upon themselves such a responsibility as that. It was objected, moreover, that the terms of this Vote of Credit were vague and indefinite. On this point, however, he might cite an authority whom hon. Members opposite would doubtless recognize as having considerable weight. It was said by Mr. Sidney Herbert, on the occasion of the Vote of Credit for the China War, moved July 12, 1860— I will not weary the Committee by citing precedents, but I have carefully examined the precedents of the votes for the China wars— that is, the first and second expeditions—of the votes for the Caffre wars and the Crimean War, and in every case I find a lump sum presented to the House and voted as a Vote of Credit, without details. The reason is obvious. You cannot foresee in a particular war what the expenditure will be. …If I were to depart from the precedent of putting the Estimate in a lump sum, I should depart from it for the purpose of laying before the House an Estimate which would be illusory and one which would deceive the House as to the sums which they were voting. What is the use of laying items before the House? Obviously that the House may exercise its discretion and accept them or not—that they may put their finger on an item and say this is too much."—[3 Hansard, clix, 1815–6.] The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had described the Vote as one of confidence, but he did not use the phrase in the conventional sense in which it was understood in that Assembly; he used it rather in the literal sense of the word. On this point, therefore, it was his duty to cite an authority. The right hon. Gentleman, from whom he had been quoting, said— I may really say that the very term 'Vote of Credit' shows what is intended. It is not an Estimate—not sums of money approved by the House of Commons—but a Vote given in confidence to the Government that they will spend it for purposes which are requisite to the best of their ability."—[Ibid. 1816.] These were not the words of a man speaking without a full knowledge of the responsibilities of office, or of one whose words would not be listened to with respect and attention by hon. Members on the other side of the House. They were the words of one who was in the front of various wars, and who was as conversant with matters of the kind as any Member of that House—they were the words of Mr. Sidney Herbert. Last evening the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich complained that the asking for this Vote had not been preceded by a Royal Message. He did not think this was a matter of great im- portance; but, as a matter of fact, Her Majesty's Government had in this respect followed the precedent set by the right hon. Gentleman himself in 1870. The right hon. Gentleman, in his speech last evening, said he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1854, and from the time war was declared control over the public expenditure did not diminish; it was extinct. Further, the right hon. Gentleman said the Government was asking for £6,000,000 with less than two months to expend it for the augmentation of the military and naval establishments of the country, no portion of it having as yet been expended. The right hon. Gentleman further said that the money could not possibly be spent in the time; there were no contrivances known in the regular order of business by means of which the money could be expended before the 31st of March. The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to argue from the experience of the Crimean War. He hoped he should be acquitted of saying anything intended to give pain to the right hon. Gentleman or any hon. Members opposite when he reminded the House that, with the experience of the Crimean War before their eyes, the country had never since ventured to shrink from any necessary expenditure. The Vote now asked was for a purpose which had unhappily been rendered necessary — namely, that of placing our naval and military forces in a state of efficiency. Therefore he joined issue with the right hon. Gentleman and said that the Crimean War, so far from forming a precedent on the present occasion, was, if a precedent at all, one to be honoured rather in the breach than in the observance. Those hon. and gallant Members who had had personal experience of that unhappy war—and there were some of them in the House —well knew whether the provision made for the forces engaged in that war was or was not sufficient and efficient. If they answered that question in the negative, they, at any rate, would not object to such an expenditure as would be necessary, under somewhat similar circumstances, properly to equip and provision a force that might be sent to any part of the world. Then, again, he was amazed to hear the right hon. Gentleman, when speaking of our military and naval forces from a financial point of view, instituting a comparison between the forces of this country and those of Austria and Italy. In England we had adhered to the old system, under which a contract with a soldier was a contract of service, and the soldier was paid just as any other servant would be; while in the countries he had named any number of men might be called into the service by a mere stroke of the pen, and when the necessity for their service ceased the authorities could dismiss them to their homes. He did not enter upon the question of whether the English system was or was not the best; but, at any rate, it existed, and carried with it an expense which was unknown in foreign countries. Therefore, the comparison could be of no practical value. Her Majesty's Government had been blamed for not asking for men as well as money. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told the House that the money was not to be used unless it became necessary to use it; but it would be treating hon. Members as children to disguise from them the fact that the money was required for the purchase of stores, equipment, and other things that would be necessary in the event of a possible war. So far as men were concerned, they had not been asked for, because at the present time—thanks partly to the Party now in opposition and to a former Conservative Government— the country possessed a sufficient army of reserves, who could be brought to the colours at a very short notice. It would be an undue disturbance of labour, and would cause an unnecessary expense to the country, to call up those reserves at once; it was sufficient for their purpose to know that they existed and could be called out at any moment. Speaking on this question of asking for men, let them remember what occurred in 1870, when there was a possibility of our having to go to war with either Germany or France in defence of the neutrality of Belgium. At that time France had 336,000 men and Germany 519,000; but Her Majesty's Government only asked for £2,000,000 and 20,000 men. These men were not required, as it turned out, but they were raised, and consisted mainly of men bought back after having been discharged, and many of them had proved to be very bad bargains ever since. If it had been necessary to proceed in 1870, the whole 20,000 men and more must have been sent to the front, and this would have involved calling up the Militia for the garrisons; which in itself would have involved the obtaining Parliamentary consent within 10 days. He thought he was justified in saying that the word "sham" was, at any rate, as applicable to the Vote of 1870 as it could possibly be to the one now asked for. That was a word which, however unpalatable, was not of his coinage, and he frankly made a present of it to hon. Gentlemen opposite. The country did not, and the Government did not, wish to be involved in war; what they did wish was that they should be able to act, and to act promptly, up to our engagements, and so as to assure other countries acting with us that we had the ability as well as the will to keep good faith. Now in the case of a small force everything depended upon preparation and readiness, and therefore he could not too much emphasize the necessity that they should be prepared and ready. He did not disguise from the House that he meant preparation for possible war. They did not, however, intend to spend the money for which they asked unless they were forced to do so. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) and other right hon. Gentlemen had asked what the money was wanted for, and, as he had already said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had pledged his great financial reputation to the impossibility of their being able to spend the money, if they were granted it, before the end of the financial year. He would show one or two grounds for stating that the estimate of the right hon Gentleman was not well founded. This country had the great advantage—one which could not be overrated—of being defended by the sea, surrounded as it was by that "silver streak" which had become classical. But the fact placed them at a great disadvantage so far as the conduct of operations out of the country was concerned. They could not arrange, as other countries could, to send their forces by certain trains and lines, and subject to no disturbance from embarkation and disembarkation. Everything that was required, men and materials must be taken to ports and there embarked on transports, to be carried subject to the vicissitudes of wind and weather, and afterwards disembarked and forwarded with that system of arrangement without which it would become practically useless. These were among the causes which made it necessary to be ready beforehand. They should remember that transport vessels were not to be had for nothing, and he had no doubt some hon. Gentlemen who heard him would echo the sentiment when he said that shipping would have to be paid for at considerable rates. Then, again, they could not transport horses long distances, but would have to purchase them elsewhere. But, it was said, even with these expenses, they could not make up the sum they asked for. Let them bear in mind that they were dealing with armaments compared with which the armaments of former days were as nothing; and further, as he had shown, that they must be subject to considerable difficulty from their system of recruiting. He would take a case quite removed from the range of dispute. Lord Cardwell, when he was Secretary for War, prepared an apparently moderate scheme of localization—a scheme the dimensions of which might grow; and it was his (Colonel Stanley's) duty when at the War Office to inquire as to the expense of carrying out that scheme—which was, he might say, the first step this country had taken to be prepared beforehand—a scheme which would work automatically, so to say, to fill up the blanks caused by war. fie would ask the House to take the figures on his responsibility; but he found that the cost for six months of raising the force which Lord Cardwell contemplated in his scheme, together with first-class stores and other necessary matters for a longer period, would be no less than £12,500,000. That scheme was modest compared with the scale on which Continental Powers made their military arrangements. It was all very well to refer to the halcyon days to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) alluded, when the expenditure for the Army and Navy was about half its present amount. It was no more use going back 20 years in such a matter than it would be to go back to the days when clothing consisted of a coat of blue paint and arms of a stone tomahawk. They must take what was actually before them, and be prepared and able to move quickly. It was for that reason he had ventured to show that acting as they believed they were right in doing, and in a Constitutional manner, should the occasion arise delays would inevitably be interposed, which might not only detract from the success of our arms, but cause the loss of valuable lives, and gaps in family circles which could never be filled up. So far he had dealt with the strictly financial question; he would now say a few words in reference to the general subject, especially in reference to the point whether the Motion was or was not a menace. In doing so, he would venture to follow the example which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, with peculiar good taste, had set, and not go back too much upon the past. He would deal rather with that which was prospective and practically useful. Now, the despatch of his noble Relative of the 6th of May, indicating the policy of Her Majesty's Government, had been so frequently quoted that he need not refer to it in detail. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary repeated, emphasized, and adhered to that declaration in the debate which subsequently took place, and the House affirmed completely their belief in that policy. He did not wish to use hard words, but various attempts had been made—he did not say whether on this side or on that—by misrepresentation to drive the Government in one direction from the line of policy laid down. He might call as witness the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham himself— and his words would linger long in the memory of the House—who had borne testimony that the Government had been successful in preserving peace. Then they had the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary reminding them that neither belligerent had complained that the attitude of neutrality had been departed from, and therefore he had a right to maintain that it had not been broken. He wished to refer briefly to what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ernest Noel), and, in perhaps a less marked manner, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, had said with regard to the wish, or the supposed wish, of the Conservative side of the House to use influence or force in keeping down the Christian race in the East. Now, he distinctly said, and he knew it was the feeling of many Members on both sides, that however much they might respect the bravery of the Turk, they certainly had no sympathy with his rule. [Cheers.] He did not wish to use one word that would be misrepresented as going one atom beyond its legitimate meaning. He quite understood — at least he thought he did—some portion of that cheer, and he distinctly wished to say to those Gentlemen who wished to impute to the Conservative Party that they had sympathy with oppression or wrong, they had only to look at the consistent representations which, at the instance of his noble Relative, acting on behalf of the Government, had been made, to see that there was no foundation for the charge. If he wished to go back further and argue, he might point out that it was in 1867, when his noble Relative was at the Foreign Office, that assurances of further concessions were made to Servia—concessions which established more completely her position —if he might use the term—of tributary independence. How those effort shad been rewarded was a matter of history, but he did not wish to go into considerations which might, after all, involve only side issues. They had to bear in mind not only that which they wished to see, but they must look to the circumstances of the case, and see how their wishes might be ultimately accomplished. They often found aspirations unfulfilled and hopes disappointed. He recollected on one occasion the right hon. Member for Greenwich making a most eloquent speech upon the Roumanian question, and he laid no slight stress on Roumania as a State which would be an effective barrier against encroachment. He only referred to that, and to what had occurred since, as showing that hopes might be disappointed. In the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman on the previous day in that most eloquent passage, in which he spoke of the blessings of liberty, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to forget a point which was not immaterial. He dealt with his idea of liberty as if it were something that could be imposed upon a nation from the outside. In our Northern States, at least, he knew this had not been so. Liberty might be a plant of slow growth, but it was a plant which, to be hardy and vigorous, must spring spontaneously from the soil; but if they placed this exotic in an uncon- genial soil, and tinder circumstances not suited to it, they might peril its very existence—it would wither, perish, and decay. He did not understand it to he the wish of that House that one denomination or that one ruling power should be replaced by another. They did not wish to supplant the harsh dominion of the Turk by the possibly equally harsh dominion of the Slav. They wished to consider how the interests of these various races and nationalities might be best met; and how, having regard both to their own interests and the interests that surrounded them, they could best give them that liberty which this country valued as so priceless a treasure. It was not desirable in the interest of Europe, that any State, whether tributary or autonomous, should be placed in such a position as to render it likely to be on its own account or on that of others the disturber of the peace of Europe. The Government wished that the settlement should be well grounded and sincere; they wished to guard beforehand as wise men should guard against the possibility of the fomentation of discontent, either by those within or by those without the country, which might lead to any danger of the disturbance of peace. With those objects in view, as his noble Friend Lord Beaconsfield had said, it was well that the Vote of England should not be counted but weighed; and although they were as unwilling as anyone could be to throw the weight of the sword into the scale, they did not think they would act justifiably by themselves, the country, or the world, if they entered into the Councils of Europe inadequately prepared. They had been taunted with their isolation; but he did not believe the time had yet come when this country, if it saw the path of duty before it, would be deterred from pursuing that path by taunts of isolation. He denied that there were sufficient grounds for those taunts; but if hon. Gentlemen opposite endeavoured to describe the position of this country from their own internal consciousness, he thought the picture they drew was one which Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House might decline to recognize. The hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) had drawn a sad picture of the commercial depression unfortunately existing in this and in other countries—of coal mines scarcely working, and of iron works which were still, and the various commercial centres lapsing into a state of depression which had scarcely ever been felt before; but for that very reason it was desirable that the peace should be a lasting one. He had heard— and the occasion on which he heard the saying had graven it into his heart—that"if work was worth doing at all it was worth doing well." The Government did not wish either to be isolated or to unnecessarily hold themselves committed to the action of other Powers; but they could not shut their eyes to their own interests, and they must watch that as other nations were watching their interests. The American Emerson, speaking about an Englishman as being one who did not care to fight for an idea or for glory, said—"But touch an Englishman's house or his cow, and he will fight to the day of judgment." He did not wish by this to be interpreted as holding language of a warlike character. The policy of the Government was affirmed last year; the question was tried then, and it was not now raised, although the Government were open to any challenge; they had nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to disavow. Although the policy was not challenged, hon. Gentlemen, however much they might endeavour to gloss it over, were practically trying to hamper the action of the Executive, and to that extent they were interfering with the power of the responsible Government for carrying out the policy which the House had affirmed. If he were sitting on the opposite side of the House, he should feel that he was in a position of having to face the alternative of defeat or surrender, and therefore he could easily understand how the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) had come forward under the circumstances to suggest what the one had called a proposal, and the other had described as an armistice. But, as in some other eases to which he need not refer, if they had no better bases of peace upon which to establish an armistice, however well the proposition might sound at first, the Government was bound to tell them that the terms were so uncertain, and had been so variously defined, that they must be excused if they declined to entertain them. It might be a hard case for hon. Gentlemen opposite, but they must excuse the Government for not consenting to save their susceptibilities at the expense of abstaining from the performance of their duty, and challenging the vote of the House. The responsibility for division in the House did not rest with them. When he heard of those searchings of heart and the running to and fro on the face of the earth which were said to have disturbed the rest of the blessed Sabbath, he could not help imagining that the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) must have bitterly thought of the lines— Parties are much like fish, 'tis said; The tail directs them, not the head. If he had spoken more strongly or less advisedly than he should have done, he asked the indulgence of the House. To recapitulate, their policy had been defined, their neutrality had been complete, their attitude had been firm, and; he thought he might venture to say, that he had proved their course had not been unprecedented. They could not accept the terms offered by the other side, because they had a duty to fulfil. It might be easy here and there to find discrepancies in dates, to say that this or that question, communication, or despatch had not been fully answered, or not answered without delay, or, perhaps, without proper consideration; but these were small matters, which were capable of explanation. On the main points they were quite clear, and they were not to be led away by any side issues. They knew, or rather they believed and thought that they knew, that there was outside this House a strong common sense in the country by which all such small matters were swept away. People outside looked to actions and not to words, except so far as words supported those actions; and, therefore, the Government might feel perfectly safe as to the decision of the country in regard to the question of neutrality. He would not refer, as he might with just pride, to the demonstrations at Manchester, Sheffield, Wakefield, and other places in support of the Government, except to say that the country had looked to the policy of the Government, had approved it, and, he believed, would support it. They were taking a course adverse to the right hon. Gentleman opposite in discharge of what they believed to be their duty. The country recognized, as the right hon. Member for Birmingham did, that they were striving after peace, and that only a strong necessity could oblige them to depart from an attitude of observation. If they did so it would be only in discharge of obligations which could not be neglected. They had endeavoured so far to do their duty, and the country had recognized the fact. To that duty they adhered, and by the country they were content to be judged.


said, he was not astonished at the considerable difference of opinion between the hon. and gallant Member and the right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) on the subject of precedents; it was due to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had been inaccurately reported, and had been made to say exactly the opposite of what he had said. He was the better able to confirm that from the fact of his having listened attentively to his right hon. Friend's speech, and from his having recently, for literary purposes, referred to the precedents of 1718, 1791, and 1792, by which his right hon. Friend had shown that no Vote of Credit had ever been asked for except on clear proof of necessity owing to impending hostilities. In the case of the Nootka Sound dispute there was an apprehension of immediate hostilities. He did not, however, think that the precedents about financial details were the most important points at issue at present. There were wider and broader issues, both of which had been alluded to with such taste and vigour by his hon. and gallant Friend towards the conclusion of his remarks. There was a remarkable contrast between the speech they had just heard and those of the hon. Baronet the Member for Christ-church (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) and the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) last evening, when the denunciations of the hon. Baronet would have gratified the schoolmistress in Dickens's novel who was so anxious to have heard Cicero's onslaught on Cataline. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire talked of the Vote about to be given as the Vote of a united Parliament; but the House of Commons taken by itself was not the Parliament, and the impression itself was merely one of those magnificent and high-sounding phrases in which the hon. Member indulged when denouncing the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). He was reminded by the hon. Member for Christchurch of certain streams of which it was said when people drank they were at once affected in various extraordinary and disagreeable ways, pouring forth incoherent language and purchasing the cheap reputation of being prophets. There was in the district represented by that hon. Member the celebrated Boscombe Spa, which chemical analysis showed to contain a great deal of gas, and no doubt the hon. Member had been imbibing pretty freely of its waters before he came down to that House and gave off the sulphuretted hydrogen which he had been previously absorbing. The hon. Member had uttered one remarkable sentence in the course of his speech, and that was when he said that if other hon. Members had had his experience and knowledge of the orthodox Greek Church they would not go on in the way they were doing. Now, it would interest the House to know a little more on that subject, and perhaps, on some future occasion, he would give the House some further information as to the period of his life when he was a member of the Greek Church. The hon. Member told them a long story about a despatch of Lord Aberdeen to Lord Heytesbury in favour of making an alliance in order to preserve the independence and integrity of Turkey; but what was the use of going back on those topics? No doubt there were great statesmen who once thought that the integrity of that Empire should be maintained; but, on the other hand, there were equally great statesmen —such as Lord Goderich and Lord Holland—who said even many years ago that it was useless to conceal from themselves the fact that the day was rapidly approaching when the Ottoman Empire must fall to the ground. He believed the frequent allusions by hon. Gentlemen opposite to the speeches of statesmen who at various times had proclaimed themselves in favour of the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire as indicating the spirit in which we ought now to act had encouraged Turkey in this most unfortunate struggle. The hon. Member for Christchurch turned round and charged the Opposition with having encouraged the Russians in their aggressions. He did not think that a fair accusation. They were not defenders of the Russians. They only asked that justice should be done to them. Whatever crimes they might have committed, and they were many, they had been the means of carrying out what they believed to be a noble work in defence of the rights of the Christian subjects of the Porte. So far did they defend them and no further. But his more immediate object in rising was not to touch upon these points, but to offer some observations upon a side of the question which had hardly yet been sufficiently noticed in the course of the debate. The right hon. Member for Greenwich had made a proposition with the view of rendering it possible that the debate should not end in a fierce Party division; but, owing to the character of the reply of the Secretary for War, that portion of his observations had been lost sight of; they had now gone back to the old lines of debate, and were discussing the conduct of Russia and Turkey. The appeal of the right hon. Member for Greenwich was dignified and almost touching—that they should consider whether some means might not yet be found by which the House of Commons should not offer to the people of England and the nations of Europe the spectacle of indecent quarrels and dissensions at a crisis of public affairs. It was a melancholy thing that at a grave moment like the present the House, instead of being unanimous, was engaged in dissensions and recriminations. He frankly confessed that when the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) first placed his Amendment on the Paper, he was not an enthusiastic admirer of its terms. It seemed to him open to this condemnation — that in all probability before they arrived at a division the Amendment, to a certain extant, would have become superannuated. One of two things was almost certain to happen before the division was reached—either Russia would enter Constantinople by force, or the preliminaries of peace would be signed. One of these had happened; the preliminaries of peace had been signed, and the House was now discussing matters which were not in existence when the Amendment was proposed. The objections to the proposal of the Government had been classed under three heads. There was the objection to the Vote as a war Vote; there was the objection to the Vote on the score of economy; and there was the objection on what might be called the confidence issue raised by the Government. The dangers of immediate war could not any longer be stated with any great force in that House. Peace had been signed, a Conference was about to be held. No doubt a war might arise out of the Conference; but still there were just and reasonable hopes that war would not arise. He thought most of the arguments on the score of economy were well founded. At a moment of this kind, however, whatever the precedents might be, there would be a very great tendency to meet the Government in a fair, just, and even generous spirit. The question of economy would not, therefore, be likely to be very seriously discussed. The Government, he thought, in bringing forward the Vote, had, however, seized upon an unfortunate moment to use the word "confidence;" and his noble Friend below him at once naturally attached to its use the meaning which it usually bore in discussions in that House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had afterwards explained that he did not use the term confidence in the sense in which it was ordinarily accepted by the House, but in the sense of a Vote of Confidence to an English Government in the eyes of Europe. In that appeal the right hon. Gentleman was abundantly justified; and he believed there was a desire on the part of the Opposition to meet the Government, as far as they could, halfway. But the Government, in speaking of confidence in relation to their position in the face of Europe, forced those who sat on the Opposition benches to consider their past conduct in the face of England on the Eastern Question. He and those who held similar opinions would, he contended, be justified in going even farther back than the last three or four months and raking up the various mistakes which they had committed during the whole progress of the negotiations with respect to the Eastern Question. All those issues were forced upon them when the Government asked them to pass a Vote of Confidence in its policy. The question, therefore, arose whether, not being anxious for a mere Party triumph, and being animated precisely by the same wishes for the welfare of the country which inspired hon. Gentlemen opposite, they could not, while not in the least afraid to place on record their own convictions, be they supported by never so small a minority, find a via media, by means of which, setting the interests of the country above faction and Party, they would give the Government a strength infinitely greater than they would receive from carrying the present Vote. He had been reading on Saturday a great number of foreign newspapers, and he found that, although they differed widely in political principle, they were all unanimous in looking upon the attitude of the English House of Commons and the English people fighting among themselves at a moment so solemn as not only extraordinary, but undignified. When foreigners, who in this matter were not perhaps such bad judges, pointed out to us that our attitude was not that of the English people in past times, their opinion was surely entitled to some consideration, and was enough to make the Government pause before they caused a large minority of the House to pass under the Caudine forks to secure a Party triumph. It was not, he might add, only in Europe that the present was a solemn moment. There was a war going on in Africa which would, he dared say, consume the entire £6,000,000askedfor, while on our Northwestern Frontier in India clouds were fast gathering. Indian finance, too, was in such a condition that a Select Committee of that House had once more to be appointed to inquire into it. There was a grave political crisis in one of our Australian Colonies. At home there was commercial distress and the complaints of the working classes. Knowing all that, and the great anxiety which gathered round the approaching Congress, was the present, he would ask, a fitting time for domestic quarrels? Certainly not, and he believed there were many hon. Members on both sides of the House who would be glad to find the via media of which he spoke. If hon. Gentlemen opposite did not like to accept the proposal of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich because of the agitation in which he had been engaged, then might not some other statesman be found who would come forward with an analogous proposition? As to his right hon. Friend, his own position in that House did not entitle him to offer a word of comment on the course which he had thought it his duty to pursue. The taunts to which he had been subjected would, he felt sure, pass by him as the idle wind, and what he had done he felt satisfied had been done from the highest and purest motives. The same might, he believed, be said of another statesman whose name had also been dragged in the mud. He meant Lord Beaconsfield. This was not the moment for fierce partizans to attack the greatest names in the country. For, however amusing it might be for spectators to see Englishmen tearing one another to pieces in that House and elsewhere, the sight was not a pleasant one to true patriots. These mutual recriminations were miserable things, and it should be our object, not to follow the example of the Greeks of Byzantium, who, when the armies of the Turk were streaming over the walls, were themselves found engaged in theological wrangles; but rather to imitate the example of our ancestors, who, when the Spanish Fleets and Armies were approaching our shores, although they were divided by personal hate and religious discord, sunk their differences and brought a common allegiance to the foot of a patriot Queen. The differences between the two Parties were not now so great as those which then divided men into two hostile camps; and, such being the case, he thought it would be well for them to drop all recriminations, forgetting their quarrels, and, as his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich had suggested, join in presenting an Address to Her Majesty, assuring her that at the present critical juncture she had a united Parliament and a united people.


acknowledged the kind and conciliatory spirit of the observations of his noble Friend the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice), and he thanked him for them. He admitted that a great change had taken place since this Vote was asked for, and he hoped the Opposition would yet allow the Government to take the money without dividing the House. In his opinion the Vote was not unprecedented, as had been alleged, and in support of that view he would refer to some observations of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), in introducing the Budget of 1854, on the eve of the Crimean War. The right hon. Gentleman then asked for a Special Vote, on the ground, as he then expressed it, that it was desirable to vote a sum of money as a Vote of Confidence in the Government, in order that foreign countries should see from the readiness with which the House of Commons granted the Vote that there was a promptitude and an earnestness on the part of the nation. That application was not described as flunkeyism, vulgarity, or a desire to show ourselves to foreign nations; but it was asked for, and given, as an expression of the confidence of the nation in the Government. It seemed to him that Ministers were now acting on the same principle as that which under similar circumstances commended itself to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. With regard to the entry of the British Fleet into the Dardanelles, he said he did not think there need be any apprehension that when this country took part in the approaching Conference it would be thrown in our teeth that England had infringed the Treaty of 1856. In this debate it had been assumed that the Christians in Turkey were most cruelly oppressed; but, however much men's feelings might be excited, he thought it only fair to say that he disbelieved much of what had been asserted on this subject. The late Sir Robert Peel remarked that if Russia had gone forward with the idea of protecting the Christian populations, interference on her part had invariably resulted in annexation of territory. At the time of the Treaty of Paris it was stipulated that Russia should give up the protectorate of the Christians in Turkey, and all the Great Powers expressed their accord with the sentiments which were then uttered. During the vacation he had had an opportunity of visiting Constantinople and making himself acquainted with the sentiments of a very large portion of the Christians, Jews, and others who were not Mussulmans. He also had opportunities of meeting Christians who resided in the interior. There were, he found, complaints from the extremities of the country, but few or none from other parts. He was exceedingly vexed to find that, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), read out to the House the bases of peace, he did not allude to the absence of all provision for giving protection while those bases of peace were being carried into effect to the distressed women and children of the Mussulman population. Those women and children were crowding into the Turkish capital; and one would have thought that they would not have been overlooked by the protectors of civil and religious liberty. What was the position in which we stood with reference to the proposed Vote? The Government had said there must be a very trying time if we were going to regulate the conditions on which the remaining portions of Turkey should be governed. We had to provide, in the first place, against a state of anarchy arising in Constantinople and its immediate surroundings. Although the bases of peace recognized some provision as to the suzerainship of the Sultan, yet he would have to rely more and more upon the Great Powers to maintain him in his position. In the circumstances, therefore, would it not be wrong if the Government did not ask for some support and aid previous to taking measures of that kind? He maintained that the present case was identical with what occurred in 1854. There might exist State reasons which rendered it undesirable for the Government to announce the purposes for which they wanted this money. At a crisis like this, when the eyes of Europe were upon us, we ought to sink those minor differences which divided us. It was not so much a question of money as being able to uphold the real interests of the country. Our trade in the Black Sea alone amounted to about £4,000,000 annually, and that was surely a question for consideration. The great complaint which was made by Turkey was that the constant interference of other nations in her concerns never allowed her to govern as she desired; and she claimed to have greater freedom of religion, greater freedom of education, and greater freedom for the acquisition of land than existed in any other country in Europe. He had found places in which the Turks had parted with their properties to Christians, not, perhaps, to the extent of a vilayet, but of what would be considered a large tract in this country, and where they had allowed even their mosques to pass into the hands of the Christians. The great difficulty of Turkey was that she had parted with her power to Consuls under what were called "concessions." Under the Consular Courts foreigners at Constantinople claimed almost total exemption from all taxation. The European Powers had so bound down Turkey, that they did not allow her to have even her own Post Office. The Great Powers had so impeded her that she had been paralyzed, and from the paralysis of the centre it had been rendered almost impossible for the Government of the Porte to extend their operations to the extremity of the Empire. He hoped we should enable our Government to enter upon this Conference in such a manner that we might be not only able to protect our own interests, but to procure for Turkey such a settlement as might last for many years. The Government were determined to do the best they could, and confidence should be awarded to them.


said, it was not his intention to go over the ground traversed by previous speakers, or to dwell in detail on the various incidents which had marked the progress of the Eastern Question. The retrospect would be in many respects painful and unsatisfactory, and he should therefore draw attention not to the past but to the actual position of affairs at the present moment. It was not any part of his duty to apologize for or to eulogize the conduct of the Government. He could not give an unqualified support to their conduct within the past few months. In some respects it had been irresolute when it should have been determined, weak when it should have been strong, and occasionally rash when it ought to have been calm and dignified. He thought the utterances of the Prime Minister within the past 12 months had not been judicious or calculated to place us on the most friendly footing with other countries of Europe. But having said this much, he must be just, and he would at once say that he entirely approved of that policy of conditional neutrality which they enunciated in May last, and which, in his opinion, they had faithfully carried out, thereby keeping this country free from any participation in the war. They had had unusual difficulties to contend with. They had to maintain the interests and the dignity of this country in the face of what he believed to have been a preconcerted action between the three Great Empires of the North, and that at a time when we were deprived of the aid of our natural Allies in the Eastern Question—the French, who were only recovering from the effects of a great disaster, and whose attention was naturally concentrated on their own home and domestic affairs. He had not deemed it his duty to take any part in the agitation which had been going on, and which, he confessed, he thought had been too much resorted to of late, and which had added to the difficulties of the Government abroad by giving them difficulties at home. Those difficulties had been increased by the action of injudicious friends and by the violent partizans of Turkey; while, on the other hand, they had met with unflinching opposition on the part of able opponents. In his opinion, any attempt to prejudice the Government in the eyes of the country at a juncture like the present ought not to be encouraged. There appeared to him to be a great popular error throughout the country with regard to the intentions of the Government, and he attributed that error to the efforts made by certain associations to direct public opinion in a particular direction. He found, for example, that the resolutions adopted at the various meetings to which he referred even within the last week called on the Government to maintain its neutrality and not go to war for Turkey. The question of neutrality was a thing of the past. Turkey was lying at the feet of Russia. It had been maintained, and the natural consequence was that considerable blame therefore attached to those who kept people in the impression that there was danger of their being dragged into war to restore the status quo. It was scarcely fair to constantly taunt Her Majesty's Government with this in the face of repeated statements to the contrary, made not by one, but by every Member of the Government who had expressed himself upon the subject. These repeated denials ought to be sufficient to satisfy the country that the accusations levelled against the Government were destitute of foundation in fact. The duty of the Government in connection with the proposed Conference would be a very important and a very difficult one. The neutrality of the Danube was a question in which England had the greatest possible interest, for not only did this country derive from that quarter a large proportion of our foreign supply of grain, but our tonnnge was very largely employed in the conveyance of that valuable freight. The question of the limits to be assigned to the new Principality of Bulgaria was of the highest interest and of the greatest difficulty, and he could imagine no question of more importance to this country than the passage of the Dardanelles. If we were to permit Russia or any other Power to have exclusive rights to the passage of war vessels through those Straits, that state of things would be fraught with peril to important branches of our trade; and Her Majesty's Government would be justified in taking almost any step to prevent the exercise of such exclusive rights. If a judicious arrangement could be made for enabling war vessels of all the Powers to pass through the Dardanelles, he saw no objection to it; but it would be necessary to establish a new coaling station and additional cruisers to protect our commerce, and that would swell the Navy Estimates by £200,000 or £300,000 a-year. These important interests were of greater moment than the Suez Canal. When the question of the purchase of that Canal was brought forward, he expressed the opinion that its value to this country had been exaggerated. It was possible with a few hundred weights of dynamite to make the Canal impassable for ships, and that it would take weeks before the mischief could be repaired. Our commerce and reinforcements for the East would in time of war be sent round the Cape, and no Power or combination of Powers could ever prevent us from taking that route. The difference in time between that and the Canal passage was not so serious as many hon. Gentlemen imagined; for ships were delayed in going through the Canal, on entering it, upon the way through, and when they reached the other side. Vessels navigating the Canal must have a comparatively small draft of water, which necessarily limited the size and consequent speed combined with carrying power. The development of scientific improvements in machinery of ocean-going steamers might yet produce vessels which could make the voyage round the Cape to Calcutta and China in less time than ships now took in passing by way of the Suez Canal. With regard to the Vote, he could not approve the manner in which it had been brought forward. He did not think the time had been well selected. He could easily have understood the Government saying last Autumn—"We shall not meet for some months. Circumstances are of such a character that some great change may suddenly occur;" or even if the Vote had been asked at the commencement of the Session it would not have been so objectionable in some respects as it appeared at present. But whether it was judicious or not, there the Vote was, and the House had to deal with it. With reference to the Amendment, it was very cleverly drawn, but he could not disguise from himself it amounted to a complete denial of the Vote. He would like to ask the right hon Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) what good purpose he expected to derive from his proposal. If the right hon. Gentleman could show him that there was a probability of his Amendment being carried, and that the reins of Government at this crisis would be transferred from the hands of the Earl of Beaconsfield into those of Earl Granville, his Party instincts might at once have led him to follow the right hon. Gentleman into the Lobby, and place Gentlemen opposite in a minority. But what were the facts? No doubt there would be a considerable majority in favour of the Government when the division on this Vote took place. What, then, was the outcome of the Amendment, but to disparage and discredit Her Majesty's Government in the face of Europe at a period when they were about to enter upon a most arduous task. More than once he had followed his Leaders when he had not altogether agreed with them, and he believed that was the experience of many hon. Gentlemen; but this was an occasion upon which he could not pass on the responsibility which rested upon him, and also, he believed, upon every individual Member of the House, even to a political Leader whom he so highly respected—as he did the noble Marquess the Member for the Radnor Boroughs (the Marquess of Hartington). This was a question they must answer for themselves; and for himself, though not agreeing with much that the Government had done, though he thought the Vote was injudicious, he could not, he dared not, support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. When he made that declaration, he would not have it supposed that his constituency or himself had the slightest wish for war. Perhaps no constituency more urgently desired peace, and especially peace with Russia; for their trade and other connections were most intimate with that country, so much so that they would be disposed to submit to almost any sacrifice in order to ensure a continuation of friendly relations with Russia. What they wanted was peace that would be solid and lasting, and would provide the necessary protection to the Christian populations of Turkey; but, above all, a peace which would be in accordance with the general interests of Europe, of commerce, and of Great Britain. In the ordinary course of events the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition would be at the head not only of his Party, but the Government of this country; and he would ask the noble Marquess whether he would endorse the course of proceeding adopted by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on that side, which would present an awkward precedent, and be a painful embarrassment to him at some future time; for he too, might then have Colleagues crotchetty and difficult to manage; he, too, might have a hostile Opposition to contend against; and he, too, might have to come down to the House and ask for its confidence and support under trying circumstances. It was to be hoped that at the last moment the noble Marquess would abstain from committing himself so far as going to a division in support of the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Bradford. The time had arrived when independent Members should have an opportunity of giving their individual opinions. Too often on these occasions they witnessed a mere duel between right hon. Gentlemen on one front bench and right hon. Gentlemen on the other front bench. There were interests much larger than those represented by the occupants of the front bench; and he, for one, felt it to be his duty to stand in his place and express his regret that his Party had determined to go to a division upon this Vote. In his opinion, the proper course would be to exercise to the full their Constitutional duty of criticism and interrogation with a view of obtaining before the face of the country an elucidation of the intentions of the Government; and seeing that the Government must carry the Vote by a large majority, they should then hold them responsible for the manner in which they had spent the money to the last farthing.


said, he was pleased to gather from the tone of the speeches they had heard that evening that the two sides of the House were approaching nearer and nearer to that unity of sentiment which he could not doubt the Leaders on both sides desired should be arrived at. No voice had been raised in that House in favour of war. They were all sincerely desirous of peace, and at last hon. Members opposite were beginning to believe in the declarations of Her Majesty's Ministers on that subject. On one point he was glad to think they were all agreed. They heard nothing now of the "gospel of selfishness;" but were all desirous that British interests should be protected. The hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Norwood) had spoken of the difficulties which Her Majesty's Government had had to encounter, and of the labour they had endured, and had also opened up the question as to the interests of British commerce; and it was an important one. He (Mr. Birley) was well aware that the mercantile and manufacturing interests of the country were largely bound up with the Levant and with the States in the East. They all knew that not only was Russia a highly "protective" Power, but that she enforced the doctrines of protection upon all the States over which she had any influence. Another point on which they were agreed was their distrust—he would not say their jealousy—of Russian policy. On that subject there was, he believed, little difference of sentiment in the House or in the country. He hoped they were also approaching an understanding in reference to the Vote before the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) admitted that resolutions had been passed at many public meetings in favour of the policy of Her Majesty's Government; but he said he had not heard of one in favour of the Vote of Credit. Well, a meeting had been held at the Pomona Gardens, at Manchester, attended, as he had reason to assert— for the numbers had been carefully computed—by over 29,000 persons, at which a resolution had been carried unanimously in favour of the proposed Vote of Credit. An opposing meeting had also been held in Manchester; but it was attended by a very limited number of persons. For more than one reason he hoped the Vote would be granted. It was in accordance with the precedents of 1718 and 1791, and it must be clear that it was necessary to take precautions before the Conference. With respect to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, that the Amendment and Motion should be withdrawn, and an Address of both Houses to the Crown carried expressive of confidence in the Government, he feared that such a proposition would not be agreed to, notwithstanding their growing approach to a united sentiment. The junior Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) expressed the mind of other hon. Members when he said last night he would hesitate to follow the right hon. Gentleman into the Lobby on such a Motion. He hoped, therefore, the Government would persevere with their proposal, and he had no doubt the House would sanction it.


said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down had quoted a phrase which he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had used in the previous year. He assured the hon. Member that he never would have applied the phrase "gospel of selfishness," which had also been quoted by the hon. and gallant Member who had spoken from the Conservative front bench, to such speeches as they had heard that night. The speech, for instance, of the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Stanley) had contained a most eloquent passage with regard to the claims of the subject-population, and he was happy to be able to state that that passage had been cheered by the Home Secretary. He thought that there was a growing agreement as regarded the present and the future between the two sides of the House, and it was for that reason that he regretted that the present unhappy Vote had been proposed. If it had not been for the Vote, England would have gone into the Conference, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, not, indeed, with an united Cabinet, but with an united nation. When he referred for one moment to the "united Cabinet," he must be allowed to point out, in respect to a phrase of which they had heard a great deal—namely,"condi- tional neutrality"—that Lord Derby's was the real conditional neutrality. Lord Derby was in favour of this Vote, provided that no use was ever to be made of it at any time. He did not agree in the attacks which had been made upon those Members of the Government who had seats in the House of Commons, in which it was alleged that they were indifferent to the sufferings of the subject-populations; and he believed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Home Secretary held strongly the conviction—as strongly as any who sat upon the Opposition side of the House —that the condition of those peoples called for remedy and redress. When, however, he made this statement, he could not but go on to add that he had been sorry to note the words which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his opening statement, had used with regard to Greece. He would read the most amazing passages to the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said— Whenever we are authorized to produce the Papers relating to Turkey and Greece …it will he found that all we have done has been to endeavour, as far as possible, to reconcile the comparatively slight differences which have from time to time arisen between those Powers.…. We have never put pressure upon Greece to induce her to change her policy; we have endeavoured, only, to play a friendly part by smoothing down the slight differences that have from time to time arisen between Greece and Turkey. That was a most marvellous, extraordinary, and amazing statement. "Slight differences!" Why, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had distinctly admitted in "another place" that the statements of the Greeks with regard to the atrocities which had been committed upon their people in Thessaly and Epirus were quite true. Did the Chancellor of the Exchequer know, or did he not know, that massacres had been taking place ever since September last; that not only irregular troops, but even convicts, had been let loose in thousands on those unfortunate Provinces in October last; that a Greek Consulate had been sacked; that shameful outrages had been perpetrated on women? The right hon. Gentleman declared that the Government had not put any pressure upon Greece; but had not Her Majesty's Government forwarded to Greece, without remonstrance or remark, a despatch in which the Porte threatened the bombardment of Athens in case Greece should decline to disown or to change her temperate policy. Such a Government as that of England—England, the creator and historic friend of Greece— England the great Naval Power—could not silently forward that despatch without by this very act putting great pressure upon Greece. Let them compare with this action thus taken towards Greece the manner in which Government had acted with regard to Egypt. They had allowed the Khedive, without remonstrance, to supply men and money to the Turks. Not only was there no remonstrance, but our Government had even forced Russia to declare that she would leave Egypt outside the scope of her military operations. Egypt was to send men and money to Turkey, and yet to remain outside the war; but Greece, if she only indirectly aided Russia, was to have her capital bombarded. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach)—he did not know whether to call him Colonial Secretary or Chief Secretary for Ireland, for he had answered Questions that evening in both capacities—had said that the real question before the House was, "Have you confidence in us or have you not." Now confidence as regarded the future must be based, to some extent, upon confidence as regarded the past. As regarded the future, however, he sincerely wished that we might have gone to the Conference united, instead of making our appearance there after a division in the House of Commons, in which three-fifths of the House would have voted one way, and nearly two-fifths would have voted the other, thus leaving it to be supposed abroad that we were divided, not only on the question of this wretched Vote, but also as to the principles that should guide us in the present crisis. Let him declare that in spite of the division which would be taken, there was no division upon the most important point, for hon. Members on his side of the House did not yield to those who might sit opposite in respect for British interests, or in regard for the honour and dignity of England. For his part, he differed from his hon. Friend the Member for the Border Boroughs (Mr. Trevelyan), and fully believed also in the ability of England to maintain her position, before the world; and he felt sorry with regard to that demand for credit, lest it should be thought that England needed to borrow £6,000,000 for six weeks in order to keep her place in Europe. There was, however, a difference between the sides. It was impossible to pretend that as regarded the past the Liberals could feel satisfied with the policy of the Government. He agreed—and it was a singular agreement—with the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), that the Government could have prevented the war. The policy of the Government in the past had left them face to face with a betrayed Turkey and an irritated Russia. Not only could they have prevented the war, but they had been, without wishing it, the cause of the continuance of the resistance of the Turks after the fall of Plevna, and the Turks had, in consequence, to thank them for the state in which they found themselves at the present time. Turkey in Europe had become a geographical expression, and Turkey in Asia was in a state of anarchy. They had had in Turkey a protegé whom they had proved unable to protect, and who now justly blamed them for its downfall. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) had shown that the Government had been the cause of the loss of 11 days to Turkey at the period during which the Russian army was advancing with the most rapid strides. "When there had been in England the change from Old Style to New, the people had gone about the country with banners, on which were inscribed the words—"Give us back our 11 days." With more truth the Turkish Government might have said to the English that they had robbed them of 11 days. With regard to the past, one of the most indefensible acts that the Government had committed had been their sending orders to the Fleet to enter the forbidden waters without the knowledge of Parliament; for by summoning Parliament to meet at an unusual time, they had given a tacit pledge that they would take no such important step as this without the knowledge or consent of Parliament. At the same time, whatever might have been their feeling as to the vacillation which had marked the policy of our Government in the past, it was clear from a comparison between the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, that but for the proposal of the present Vote, the House of Commons would have been united, and that the country would have been united, with the exception of a few pro-Turkish fanatics—like the promoters of a certain demonstration in Trafalgar Square, and a few pro-Russian fanatics, like the hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness (Sir Tollemache Sinclair). The country was against the present Vote. The hon. Member for Manchester, who had just addressed the House, and the hon. and gallant Member who had spoken at an earlier hour of the afternoon, had pretended that the country was upon their side. He denied it. He admitted that the country was opposed to the territorial aggrandizement of Russia. So was he. But the country was not for a sham strong policy, and it was not for a sham war Vote. What was the best test of the opinion of the country, if it were not the elections to that House? What did the recent elections show? In Perthshire, the Liberal poll had been increased, and the Conservative poll had been diminished; at Leith, an opponent of the Vote had been returned, but even the Conservative candidate at Leith had pledged himself against the Vote. At Greenock, Perth, and Marlborough, opponents of the Vote had been returned. At Oxford the city had been placarded by the Conservative agent to the effect that the Conservative Member (Mr. Hall) would have stood for the county but for the fact that his seat would infallibly have been lost to Government. A great deal had been made by hon. Members opposite of the breaking up of the Cannon Street Meeting. The disturbance of that meeting had been a got-up affair, and though it would be a waste of time to trouble the House with the proofs, he could supply the names and addresses of those who organized the disturbance, and of the workmen from Woolwich Arsenal who committed it, to whom their railway-fares and a gratuity were given, who afterwards went to the Guildhall, and who then returned to Woolwich and disturbed a meeting there. Any Member who wished to discover the facts for himself, had better move for a Return of the workmen employed at Woolwich Arsenal who took short time upon the day in question. In the moderate and limited sense in which the hon. Member for Manchester had spoken, it was true that the country was anti-Russian. There was a distrust of Russia—a distrust which he himself had often expressed in that House and to his constituents. But that was no reason for granting a sham Vote, and it was no reason for going into a peaceful Conference armed to the teeth. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Stanley) seemed distressed at the Vote being called a sham Vote. Two views had been taken of the Vote upon the Opposition side of the House. Some, like his hon. Friend the Member for the Border Boroughs, looked upon it as a war Vote; others, like his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), looked upon it as a sham Vote. He confessed he took the latter view. The Cabinet was too vacillating, the policy of Lord Derby too profoundly peaceful, to allow him to consider it as a war Vote; but considering it as a sham Vote, he thought it, nevertheless, unconstitutional and unprecedented. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had pointed out that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) had admitted that the Government deserved credit for having during months of excitement kept the country out of war. He wished them to go on keeping the country out of war, and that was why he could not consent to giving them these millions, which, although not meant by themselves to be employed for war purposes, would, if given by a large majority, tempt them to adopt a dictatorial policy. The hon. and gallant Member had made it a charge against the Opposition that they had not challenged the policy of the Administration during the present Session. How and when could they have challenged it? A paragraph had been inserted in the Queen's Speech about the policy of the Government, but in terms so singularly obscure that no one could discover what they meant. Then, within a day or two after the meeting of Parliament, they heard of the resignation of one Minister. The next day they heard of the resignation of another, the brother of the hon. and gallant Member, the Foreign Secretary himself. How could the have challenged the policy of the Government, when no one knew of whom the Govern- ment was composed, or what its policy might be? The hon. and gallant Member had said—speaking of last Sunday —that the repose of a Sabbath had been violated by negotiations between the Leader of the Opposition and his unruly followers below the Gangway. That statement rested upon no foundation. But the repose of one Sabbath had been violated. He meant that of the previous Sunday, when a Cabinet Council had been held which the Chancellor had refused to attend on the ground of the sanctity of the day, but which had been held for no other purpose than that of proclaiming to the world that the dissensions of the Government were temporarily at an end, and that the brother of the hon. and gallant Member had consented to return to his repentant Colleagues. The hon. and gallant Member had made a praiseworthy attempt to defend the Vote upon its merits, and had said that it was needed to enable us "to act up to our engagements." What did he mean by the word "engagements?" Did he mean the Tripartite Treaty? Why, the Tripartite Treaty had been killed by the noble Lord, his brother, in a speech in the House of Lords last year. Did he mean engagements to the House of Commons? Did he mean the engagements to Parliament and to the country contained in his brother's despatch of May, and in the Home Secretary's speech of the same month? If so, that was all the Opposition asked. Let them stick to their engagements, if these were the engagements that they meant. But let them not go beyond those engagements. The fear was, that when they had got this Vote, which they did all they could to prove a sham Vote, but which some of their supporters were still obliged to call a war Vote, they might be tempted by their majority to go beyond those engagements. They claimed credit for having kept the country out of war in the past; let them continue to do so in the future. Let them not attempt to bully Europe. The hon. and gallant Member had dealt with precedents, and, after saying that there was "no need of going back for 20 years or 30 years," he had gone back to the 18th century to a precedent which did not apply. The so-called precedent, of which he had made the post, had been that of the Vote of 1870. The great difference be- tween the eases was, that in 1870 Parliament was about to adjourn, and no one could say that the money might not be needed during the Recess. On the present occasion Parliament had only just assembled. It had been brought together "to be taken into the confidence of the Government." The amount of that confidence had been shown by the concealment from Parliament of the despatch of the Fleet into the prohibited waters until that act had been cancelled by the resignation of the hon. and gallant Member's brother. In 1870, according to the hon. and gallant Member, the then Government had been unable, as the present Government was now unable, to lay before the House the real reasons why a Vote was wanted. He was amazed at such a statement. In 1870 a secret Treaty for the partition of Belgium, for the integrity of which England was determined to fight, had been published in The Times a day or two before the Vote was asked for, and the exact reason for the Vote was known to every Member in the House. The hon. and gallant Member had declared that the Vote of 1870 was a sham Vote, because 20,000 men would have been useless in such a war; but the 20,000 men were not for an army of 20,000 men, but for an addition of 20,000 men to the existing Army; and a representative of the English Army ought not to stand up in his place and to pretend that an addition of 50,000 British troops to the Army of either belligerent would not have made an essential difference to the conditions of that war. He would assert, from his own experience, that in at least one period of that war a small British Army would have changed its fortune. The hon. and gallant Member had declared that "should the necessity not be over by the 31st of March," a fresh Vote would be needed. If, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had explained, the Vote was intended to strengthen our diplomacy at the Conference, then certainly the necessity would not be over by that date, for the Conference would hardly meet within the present financial year. He should like to ask the hon. and gallant Member how he could explain the title of the Vote? Was it a general Vote for military and naval purposes? Could the money be spent in Africa against the Kaffirs, or was its application limited by its title? If so, what would become of it in the probable event of the signature of peace? For the title mentioned "the present war." He had done with the hon. and gallant Member; but before he sat down he must allude for a moment to the speech which had been delivered by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tarn worth (Sir Robert Peel) on the previous Friday. The right hon. Baronet had expressed the most complete confidence in the anti-Russian policy of the Earl of Beaconsfield, and the most violent dissent from the pro-Russian policy—as he thought it—of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. On the 30th of March, 1871, the right hon. Baronet had expressed his most complete confidence in the pro-Russian policy of the right hon. Gentleman who now was Member for Greenwich. He (Sir Robert Peel) now said that he had the greatest distrust of Russia. In 1871 he had declared that it was essential to the highest interests of this country that our Government should endeavour to keep up a good understanding and a friendly feeling between England and Russia. The following were his words in 1871:— We should never permit any personal prejudices to interfere with such an understanding. If the terms of the Note of Prince Gortchakoff were such as to ruffle the kindly nature and the good feeling of Earl Granville, the latter acted most judiciously in not giving way to the impulse they may have given rise to."—[3 Mansard, ccv. 955.] The right hon. Baronet on Friday had been careful to say nothing of the terms of peace; but he had supported the proposal for a grant of £6,000,000 after hearing the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon those terms, and "with a view of enabling the Government, with a bold front and a strong arm, to labour in the interests of peace." This was generally understood by the House to mean opposition to several of the claims of Russia; but in 1871 the right hon. Baronet had said— I have always felt that the stipulations respecting the Black Sea were injurious to Russia. To me it has always been evident that such stipulations must he unendurable to a gigantic Power like Russia. Russia complains—and to my mind most justly complains—that since the Treaty of 1856 was signed the balance of power in Europe has been most essentially altered. And is she not perfectly correct in making such an assertion? Why, Europe is hardly the same now as she was then; its whole features on the map present a totally different appearance, and Russia has a right to demand that under such circumstances, the conditions of the Treaty of 1856 should he revised."—[Ibid.] A more eloquent pro-Russian speech was probably never made in that House than the right hon. Baronet's speech in 1871. Hon. Members should bear in mind what was the character of the right hon. Baronet's speech of Friday night. After all, the strongest of all the reasons against the Vote was that it would be misinterpreted abroad. It would be misinterpreted everywhere except in Russia. The Russians, who were directly interested in the subject, would know that it was a sham Vote; other Powers would take it for a war Vote. The present action of the Government would be misinterpreted, as their action had been misinterpreted last year and the year before. Their action had been misinterpreted on almost all the occasions when they had violated the European concert; and there had been 11 or 12 occasions of that kind. Their isolated action in the past had been misunderstood by foreign Powers, and their isolated action in proposing this Vote would be misunderstood by Europe. He protested against the supposition that in opposing this Vote the Opposition were taking a course which patriotism should refuse. They were as deeply concerned for the interest and honour of their country, and as anxious to preserve them, as could be Members on the other side of the House. They only differed as to the manner in which the desired end should be achieved. They had not full confidence in the Government for the future, because their acts in the past had been of a character which made confidence impossible. At the same time, they saw Government go into the Conference with the most earnest desire that they should procure that which they professed themselves able to procure, that which was the greatest of British interests—a lasting peace.


remarked that it had been said that the solution of the Eastern Question depended on the bases of peace. There were three possibilities with regard to those bases. The first was, that they might not have been moderate and reasonable. Secondly, they might have proved to contain something which must have been regarded as a casus belli by this country, but which he was glad to say they did not; and, thirdly, they might have been so involved and obscure as to press either lightly or heavily on this country, according as the will of England might seem to be in accordance with, or in antagonism to, the spirit of those who went before the Conference. The last contingency had undoubtedly taken place; for the terms of peace were both involved and obscure, and there were important interests of Great Britain which must depend on the way in which the voice of this country was represented at the Conference. It was not only absurd, but wrong to say that this country had no greater or profounder interests either in the Black Sea, in Eastern Europe, or in the Straits, than the other nations of Europe. Where was the trade of Germany, Italy, Prance, or Spain that could compare with the trade of England in Eastern Europe? Our trade in the Black Sea was prodigious. At least 20,000 ships per annum were engaged in it—ten times more than Russia had engaged in her trade there. What was to become of that trade if Russia became Lord Paramount on the Danube, and was able to impose differential duties in favour of Austrian and German Danube-borne goods. Then there were important interests in regard to European Turkey as regarded the subject-races, which ought not to take place without Great Britain being authoritatively represented. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must not suppose they had a monopoly of the love of freedom. That sacred love glowed, he hoped, with as much earnestness in the breasts of hon. Gentlemen on the Government side of the House as it did on the opposite benches, and hon. Members opposite ought to recognize it in their opponents, as the latter most gladly acknowledged it in them. But, after all, the main point to consider was, what was the feeling of the ordinary common-sense Englishman on the question? He thought what would be said out-of-doors was, that if those important interests must be regulated by the voice of Great Britain, the agent of Great Britain must be given the authority which he believed to be necessary, and for the use of which he would be responsible. The right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) had told them that they must not take that common-sense view, because to do so would be to go into the Conference with shotted guns. If he (Mr. Hall) might venture to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman, he would ask him, as a man of business, whether on entering into negotiations in which his own material interests might be in question, he would prefer to enter them in the character of a strong, wealthy, influential man, or in the character of one whom his own family would not trust with a shilling. Let the House be wise and strengthen the hands of the Government, in order that, when England entered into the Council, she might receive that attention which she always received in the time of our forefathers, and which he was sure we all hoped she might receive in future. But if we were weak-handed we had better stay at home altogether, and leave the Christians of the Turkish Provinces to be dealt with by Prince Gortchakoff and Prince Bismarck. A great deal of freedom, he opined, they would get from those two Gentlemen! With reference to the famous speech recently delivered at Oxford by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, although he (Mr. Hall) could not understand the course of policy of the right hon. Gentleman, he had never been able to speak of him in any other terms but those which were due to his high position, and still more to his higher character. He should not find fault with that speech, for he was exceedingly obliged to him for having delivered it, because it had immensely smoothed his part at the next General Election; for the right hon. Gentleman had revealed to his astounded constituents that if he had been in office, supported by his (Mr. Hall's) hon. and learned Colleague—if they had not quarrelled over Van Espin meanwhile—their policy would have been a policy of coercion for Turkey, which must, of course, have brought us into a war with Turkey. But that policy might have been dependent on the circumstance whether or not he had any difficulty in carrying it out. A great deal had been said about one defection from Lord Beaconsfield's Cabinet, and some people would be led to suppose that there had never been a defection from any other Cabinet. Now, on looking over a work called the Annals of our Time, he found this most curious circumstance—that in August, 1873, a great amount of dissension took place in the Ministry then in Office, leading to a complete re-arrangement of Offices. He found it stated that Lord Bipon and Mr. Childers were leaving the Cabinet, that Mr. Bruce was to be raised to the Peerage, that Mr. Bright was to succeed Mr. Childers, that Mr. Lowe would give up being Chancellor of the Exchequer, that Mr. Gladstone would hold that Office as well as that of First Lord of the Treasury, that Mr. Ayrton would be made Judge Advocate General, and Mr. Adam First Commissioner of Works. Well, here was as great a shuffle of the Ministerial cards as ever was seen, and all the round men seemed to be put into the square holes. And now, because one Minister had left Lord Beaconsfield's Cabinet, the fact had been dwelt upon by almost all the hon. Members opposite who had spoken during the debate. They tried to make political capital out of the resignation of Lord Carnarvon; but on this question, at all events, Lord Carnarvon was at one with Her Majesty's Government, and had expressed an opinion in the most pithy sentence which he (Mr. Hall) believed had been uttered on this subject—for, if he remembered rightly, that noble Lord said he would support this Vote because he believed it would strengthen the diplomacy of England. Well, he (Mr. Hall) hoped we all wanted to strengthen the diplomacy of England, and therefore he was surprised that ex-Ministers should oppose the Vote. What would have been the result if the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had been pursued? Of course, Turkey would have been destroyed sooner than it was now destroyed, and Eussia would have been somewhat wealthier and England somewhat poorer than they now were respectively. But with regard to European Turkey, with regard to the future occupation of Constantinople and the navigation of the Straits, the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues would have had to come down and ask that House for that authority which could alone have been granted on behalf of the Sovereign and the country, and said that England must be enabled to speak with no uncertain voice in the Councils. He could imagine with what eloquence the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich would have spoken upon that subject, and with what indignation he would have inveighed against any unfortunate politician who would venture to refuse giving support to the Government in pursuing a national policy. The right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues would have found all necessary support in the pursuit of that patriotic policy. ["Hear, hear!"] He (Mr. Hall) thought history justified him in saying so. In 1856 the Conservative Opposition behaved like true patriots, and. backed up the Government as they wanted to be backed up, and the result was that, although Napoleon III. was half inclined to shift a little, Lord Clarendon, backed up by the House of Commons and the Conservative Opposition, was able to stand firm, and England was embodied in the Treaty of Paris. But the present Opposition seemed utterly unable to rise to that high level. What could be the reason? He did not believe that was owing to Party spleen or anything of that kind, but because some one of their Leaders had made a stupid mistake. Still, he ought to have come forward and said—"I have made a mistake, and I release my followers." If that was not the reason, what was the reason? Was the reason to be found in the alliance of Erastians, Ritualists, money-grubbers, and doctrinaires —those modern Coeur de Lions who would destroy the children of the Prophet not by their own valour, but by taking advantage of the aggressive disposition of Russia, and who quenched their Party and religious spleen not in the ordinary way, but in the unfathomable depths of Russian duplicity. The Conservative Party were asked why could they not get rid of the suspicion of Russian duplicity? In answer to that, he would say, we wished to get rid of it with all our hearts; but how were we to get rid of it with any regard for the history of the past? Those who said get rid of Russian duplicity should tell us whether we could get rid of the handwriting against that country, of that which the right hon. Member for Birmingham alluded to the other night with so much eloquence—the bloody pages of Polish history—that record, not only of the cruelty of Russia, but of her ghastly treachery, which told how, with one hand, she by an agent stirred up insurrection in that hapless land, and with the other quenched it in seas of blood. Could they get rid of Khiva and the Imperial subterfuges connected with it? Were these Russians the Apostles of Peace who were to go to the distracted Provinces of Turkey, and take peace, freedom, and civilization to that unhappy land? More fitly might they be described as the merciless hordes of a Northern despot, who, under the hypocritical mask of Christianity, sought only to add territory to territory and people to people, that he might crush them beneath the Juggernaut of a cruel and relentless despotism. Distrust of Russia was as natural to Englishmen as the love of freedom, for Russia and freedom were wide as the poles asunder. We distrusted them because our predecessors distrusted them, and they were our equals in statesmanship and sagacity; but the Opposition reserved that distrust and ill-will, not for the possible rivals of this country in Europe and its certain rivals in Asia, but for those whose highest ambition was to serve the country faithfully—the Ministers of the Queen. But they on the Ministerial side trusted them, for they knew that that trust would not be betrayed, for they knew that the Government longed for peace, and that they were honest and faithful guardians of the honour and interests of England. They had never had fair play from the opposite side, for they had been thwarted in a hundred petty ways, and had been misrepresented on a thousand platforms. But they might rest assured that truth would conquer at the last, and when the end came the Government might safely leave their Ministerial reputation to the impartial verdict of a sober-judging people.


Sir, as I have listened to the impetuous eloquence of my hon. Colleague, I have been tempted to ask whether that speech, cheered from that side of the House, represents the policy with which you are going to the Congress at Vienna? because, if it does, do not come to this House for a sham Vote of £6,000,000, but for a Vote of £100,000,000. That speech, if it means anything, means instant war. ["No, no!"] Then, in my opinion, it means nothing at all. It is what was called in the vulgar vernacular the other night, "bounce." If you are seriously going with language like that which the hon. Gentleman applied to Russia to the Congress at Vienna; if that, cheered by the Conservative Party, represents the Vote you are going to take; if the Government accept that language, if they do not disavow it, the public will know what it means. I had hoped that the armistice which had been offered would have shed some of the balmy and blessed atmosphere of peace over these debates. [Ironical laughter.] Well, I do not think that is a hope likely to be realized. If it had ever been likely to be realized, the speech of the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Hardy) last night would have dispelled all chance of its realization. Now, Sir, I am not one of those who are at all disposed to object to the fervid eloquence of the Secretary of State for War; though I am one of the unhappy victims, very often, of his rhetoric. I rather admire the spectacle. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich is in the House, but he has a good deal of literary leisure, and the Secretary of State for War is the Achilles of the Conservative Party— Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer —and I should recommend my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) to compose a new Iliad, in which he may recite the wrath of that Achilles, and describe the innumerable woes it has worked for Greece. But the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War is like Achilles in another respect; he is never satisfied with slaying his enemy, but he must also drag him around the walls of Troy. He told us the other night a good deal about volcanoes. Why, Chimborazo and Cotopaxi would be nothing like the eruptive eloquence which he pours on us; and as I suffered myself from that burning lava I felt like the unfortunate gentlemen who, walking about the streets of Herculaneum and Pompeii, were suddenly overtaken, and were some centuries afterwards excavated—and I do not know whether some centuries hence we shall not be dug out of the volcanic mud which he has heaped on us. Talk of conciliation to the Secretary of State for War! You might just as well pour cold water on a hot bar of iron. It hisses, and hisses, and bubbles, and disappears altogether in steam—and that is the end of conciliation.[Murmurs.] I hope we may express our feelings quite as freely as the Secretary of State for War. I do not take it at all amiss. I like to see the Secretary of State for War as he ought to be—in his war paint. He always reminds me of the famous description of the war horse in the Book of Job; he sniffs the battle from afar; he champs the bit, and he makes a magnificent rush into the fray. But to try to stop him would be the most injudicious thing in the world. It would be like a man getting in the way of an express engine with the steam up, and trying to pacify the engine at full speed by patting it on the boiler. And I entirely appreciate the feeling of the right hon. Gentleman. He had had a proposal of conciliation made to him, and had had, indeed, an armistice proposed. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, an armistice; and I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman and his army felt exactly like the Grand Duke Nicholas when, in sight of Constantinople, he was ordered to stop his march. You are in sight of your Constantinople; you have a great majority; and you do not mean to be baulked. I am not at all astonished that the right hon. Gentleman sympathises with that feeling, and that his supporters should share it. His speech was an admirable speech to rally an enthusiastic Party; but I think the country may doubt whether it was a speech which was calculated to unite Parliament. I wonder—I do wonder, though I do not take it amiss—that, considering the majority you have got, you cannot afford to be a little more good-humoured in your language. If you were in a minority you might be entitled to show a little temper; but with the majority you have got I think you need not be so strong in your anger. You are going to have a majority. It is the business of a Government to have a majority, and it is the fate of an Opposition to be in a minority. I could have wished that the right hon. Gentleman had spoken a little more in the tone of conciliation which I heard to-night from the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Birley); that he had recognized the fact that there was a very considerable union of feeling in the country, and that he had endeavoured to develop that, and had not endeavoured to exaggerate the differences that exist. As for these personal elements in the debate, I, for one, regret them. I cannot charge myself with having taken part in them. I have heard a great deal said about attacks on the Earl of Beaconsfield. From what I have observed of the noble Earl's character, I think he is about the very last man who would care about them. I have heard him say that invective was the ornament of debate, and if that be so, all I can say is that the Gentlemen on the bench opposite have given us a very ornamental debate. But neither here nor elsewhere have I ever spoken words inconsistent with personal respect for the Prime Minister. I have always admired his genius and, in spite of difference of politics, I have, with others of his political opponents, experienced that kindness which he is always so ready to show. It may be that hard things have been said of the Earl of Beaconsfield; but is the Earl of Beaconsfield the only man of whom hard things have been said? I should like to ask whether my hon. Friends the Members for Mid Lincolnshire and Christchurch (Mr. Chaplin and Sir H, Drummond Wolff) are the best entitled to throw the first stone on that matter? These personal bitternesses in political conflicts have, I am afraid, always been the law of English political life. At the beginning of the present century, parties were not satisfied without calling Mr. Pitt a monster of blood-thirstiness, and calling Mr. Fox an unpatriotic statesman. But these have not been the verdicts of history. History has not cared to inquire what Clubs at particular times in their lives they were members of. As to Clubs, you say that we have borrowed my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich from the Carlton, and you borrowed the late Earl of Derby from Brooks's. If you are satisfied with the change so are we. But when I think of these personal asperities which have been introduced, I am reminded of those lines which describe the tombs of Pitt and Fox, as they lie in the Abbey of Westminster— Drop upon Fox's grave the tear: 'Twill trickle to his rival's bier. And of those two "mighty chiefs" it might well be added— The sons shall blush their fathers e'er were foes. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War is a man of war, and I think that in his nature he is not averse to a fight. I myself, professionally, am a man of peace. I should like to devote the observations which I shall make rather to the bases of political peace. I am not going to make a proposal. I do not wish to be misunderstood. When I talk about the bases of political peace I mean that I may be permitted to discard the recriminations of the past, and that we should condone on both sides the errors, if there have been errors, for they are at all events now irremediable. Let us consider for a moment the cause of the bitterness which has arisen in the political situation. That bitterness seems to have taken rise from what I will not call misrepresentation, but from misconception of either Party. You talk of misrepresentation of your policy and your motives. Well, that may be so; but we may ask whether we also have not misrepresentations to be set right? I see, not in this House, but in the country, we are called traitors and Russian agents. Well, if any hon. Gentleman were to say that I should not call him a "lying spirit," because that would be a plagiarism upon a style which I do not admire. I will not, of course, refer to an accidental expression which fell from the Home Secretary, which was unseemly, and which was immediately withdrawn. But language of that kind should not be used. You know it is not true. You know that we are, like you, English gentlemen, and that we are as much interested in the welfare and honour of our country as you are. Language of that kind is a Billingsgate which may be left to penny-a-liners and to Dukes. But among persons more moderate in their character and more decent in their language, there are still some who feel surprised and indignant at a course of conduct which they think gives an undue, an impolitic, and even an unpatriotic appearance to our actions. What has been our attitude in this matter? When the Conference at Constantinople ended last year the Porte had altogether refused those terms which the Conference had agreed to, and Europe was set at nought. What was to be done? There were several things that might be done. We might have rested content and let the populations of Turkey remain as they were, and have trusted in what the Home Secretary called the waste paper of Turkish pro- mises. That course was denounced by Lord Salisbury, and therefore that was not the course you would expect us to take. There was another course—there might have been the united coercion of Europe. No one can tell whether that course would have been successful. You opposed it, and it was opposed by the other Powers also. There was a third course—coercion by Russia conjointly with us. All I can say is, that this is a policy in which I never concurred. There was a fourth course, and that was coercion of Turkey by Russia alone. That was the only course by which the submission of Turkey to the will of Europe, as expressed at the Conference, could be secured. Now, the English Government has said Russia is not our mandatory to carry out the Conference. Well, that may be true. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER dissented.] I do not wish to misrepresent the action of the Government by declaring that Russia was not its mandatory; but, at all events, they took no active measures to counteract the action of Russia. But if it was necessary that the resistance of Turkey should be overpowered, and if the force of Russia was the only force that could be employed for that purpose, whether Russia was the mandatory of Europe or not, it is Russia that in the end will make Turkey accept the mandates of Europe. Well, that is just what happened with regard to Greece in 1829. You had a Conference, which went on from year to year, which made representations to Turkey, and of which Turkey took no notice, and at length the decisions of the Conference were given effect to in the Treaty of Adrianople. What we desired was that this force— the only force which could be employed to overpower the resistance of Turkey to Europe—should not be interfered with by the influence, and still less by the support, of England, and that is the support which we have given to Russia. We believed that in this matter Russia had a special work to do, and at this moment Turkey is in a position which she was not in 12 months ago, in which she must accept the will of Europe at the next Conference. That is the situation now; that is what we desired; and we are glad of it; but if you suppose that we had any sympathy with the principles and object and the aspirations of Russia you are entirely mistaken. If you supposed that we had a desire to assist Russia in the re-settlement of that part of Europe you are entirely mistaken. We desire that the re-settlement should be solved upon European interests just as much as you possibly can do. That is the extent of the charge against us, and whatever you may think of it, we are not ashamed of it. There is another misconception which, I think, led to a great deal of unnecessary bitterness. That misconception arose like other misconceptions, from mutual errors and mutual fear. Fear engenders suspicion, and suspicion engenders bitterness, and so it turns out that in spite of peace in Turkey, we are "fighting like devils for conciliation, and hating each other for the love of God." Our fear was that we should be embarked in what we deemed to be an unjust and unnecessary war. Now where was the "lying spirit?" For my part, I have never imputed to Her Majesty's Government, either here or elsewhere, that they desired to go to war. Since last Session I have never spoken outside this House except on the ordinary occasions when I spoke to my constituents; and I should not have referred to that but my right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) alluded to it. I am sorry that Oxford has been brought so much upon the carpet. It seems as if Oxford has become, like Belgium, a sort of cockpit. In my speech at Oxford I did not put any petroleum whatever. The right hon. Baronet has done me the honour to refer to a passage from that speech. It is true I did express a fear of war; but it was not that Her Majesty's Government were going to war.


You used the expression, "mischievous and inflammatory Party."


That was not Her Majesty's Government; but if the right hon. Baronet wishes, I will tell him where the "inflammatory Party" is to be found. The right hon. Baronet is one of those mild and innocent persons who has never heard of a wicked thing; he has never heard of a war Party. He is the Apostle of Peace; he was once Saul the Persecutor; but now he says he will never consent to make war against a despot, as was done in 1856.


I beg the hon. and learned Gentleman's pardon, but I never said anything of the sort. What I said was this—that in reference to the speech of the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), when he said the experience from 1854 to 1856 had taught this country a lesson, I said I had learnt a lesson from the teaching of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, and that never again would I give a vote in favour of a war by England in defence of the independence and integrity of Turkey.


That is exactly what I understood him, and he added these words—and if he did not use them let him disavow them—"or to curb the ambition of a despot." Now, the right hon. Gentleman says he did that once. He is a reformed character. He sat at the feet of Gamaliel, and he can, like the Apostle Paul, now—


I must protest against the language of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I am sure my hon. and learned Friend has no desire to misrepresent me. I never represented the character of the Apostle Paul. I consider myself far too sensible a man to have the presumption to do so. I never used the words "against a despot," and I only said what I have already mentioned, that I would not give a vote again in favour of a war by England in support of the independence and integrity of Turkey.


If I have used any expression which the right hon. Baronet does not like, I withdraw it. All this from the right hon. Baronet is very charming and re-assuring; but I should like to tell the end of the story— for there is an end to it. The right hon. Baronet is dreadfully shocked at anybody at a critical period interfering with the Government. "You should not speak to the man at the helm; you should not put pressure upon the Government, or interfere with men who know the state of European affairs much better than you do." I heard the other day a rumour that on a certain Tuesday evening 41 Members of Parliament demanded an audience of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I shall not tell you, though it is only half a secret, because it was announced the next morning with exultation by the war Press, that these 41 Members represented 70 others who put pressure on the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What an improper thing to do at a critical period in the affairs of the country! It is a curious coincidence that this was on Tuesday evening, and that on Wednesday the decision was taken to send the Fleet to the Dardanelles. My informant, whose name I cannot reveal, told me that the ringleader in that movement was the peaceful Baronet the Member for Tam-worth. He said, speaking of the Earl of Carnarvon—I thought he rather sneered at the Earl of Carnarvon, but I do not think the country sneers at him—"What a pleasant Colleague to have!"[Sir ROBERT PEEL: A nice sort of Colleague.] Yes; and I think that when the right hon. Baronet left the Chancellor of the Exchequer must have said—"What a nice sort of supporter!" This personal pressure was followed by what was, in my opinion, a very dangerous act. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must not complain of my describing it, because the Earl of Derby and the Earl of Carnarvon thought it was dangerous too. It was found necessary to put another pressure on the Government in an opposite direction, and that pressure was put by two resignations. And then the right hon. Baronet, having taken this course, comes down to us and coos like any sucking dove, and tells us he is a converted friend of peace. Now, what were we to do when we knew that the right hon. Baronet and his allies were putting pressure on the Government in one direction? What ought we to do but put pressure on the Government in the opposite direction? We could not resign —we have nothing to resign. We used what means we had at our disposal. The right hon. Baronet was tugging in the direction of the Dardanelles, and we pulled as hard as we could the other way; and that is the extent of our interference with Her Majesty's Government. Well, now I tell you that one of the causes of our anxiety—if you like of our over-anxiety, our unfounded anxiety— was that we feared that the Government might be driven by operations of that character into war. We do not fear war now; at all events, as far as we can see, the danger is over for the present. I do not think even the right hon. Baronet, and the 40 Members of Parliament who accompanied him, could even now make a private war on their own account. We had our fears and you had yours—fears I have no doubt equally sincere, and it may be even more unfounded. You thought that British interests were in danger, and you asked for assurances from the Government. You defined what British interests are, and we have not quarrelled with that. You said—"We must not have a separate peace between Russia and Turkey," and you received pledges on that subject. You asked to be guaranteed against the occupation of Constantinople by Russia, and assurances were given. You feared for the Straits and for Gallipoli, and assurances were given that the question of the Straits was to be made a European question; and as to Gallipoli I do not think that even now we have anything to fear. In spite of all these things you say—"This is all very well, but don't believe a word of it." Well, now, I want to know whether this is wise language to use? I do not say you ought not to be prudent, guarded, and vigilant; but, I ask, is that wise language to use towards a Power with which you are about to treat, and with which you must ultimately be on friendly terms, both in Europe and Asia? I venture to say that it is bad diplomacy and bad statesmanship, and it is both, because it is bad temper. You discourage concessions that are for the interest of England by language of that kind. I think that in the interest of this country there is nothing so much to be deprecated as this kind of provocative language, which is of no use for the purposes of real debate. It is a singular coincidence that at the very moment when the Home Secretary was illustrating the advances of the Russian Army in so dramatic a manner on the back of the English statute book, the ink of the signatures to the armistice was scarcely dry. If we have been fearing war too much, and if you have been anticipating danger to English interests too much, and if the armistice has removed all that, surely, having got rid of the quarrels of the past, the best thing we can do is to occupy ourselves with the prospects of the future. I think there is some misapprehension which it would be well to remove in reference to the form of the negotiations. There is a great deal of ignorant jealousy in some quarters of separate negotiations between Russia and Turkey. Why, you accepted the arrangement that, primarily and provisionally, Russia and Turkey were to treat with each other alone, and that subsequently all matters contained in the Treaty that were of European interest should be brought under the cognizance of the European Powers. We are perfectly prepared to support you in the demand that they shall come under European cognizance. The object of that separate negotiation was to deprive Turkey of the power of doing what she did last year—namely, that of saying, when Europe had come to a decision, she would not agree to that decision; because, by her antecedent agreement with Russia, she will have parted with that power. Well, now, you ask us for our confidence. Gentlemen behind you are entitled to give you their confidence blindly. ["No, no!"] Oh, then, you know the policy of the Government. We do not know what that policy is, and we are going to ask. We know what was its policy during the war, and we have not disapproved of that policy. ["Oh, oh!"] We have always approved of the policy of conditional neutrality. Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not appear to understand that it is like the principle of a united Cabinet. It is said that if the Members of the Cabinet agreed on the main line of policy, it does not matter if they differ as to the method of carrying it out. In that way Parliament is united on both sides, just in the same way as they are a united Cabinet. A word now respecting the policy of the Government during the war. Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not object to that; but now that the war is over, as we may hope it will be immediately, we want to know what is to be the policy of the Government in time of peace and during the negotiations. That is what we ought to know before this Vote is passed, and what every Opposition is bound to ask. I do not ask for the details of your policy; it would be impolitic for the Government to give them, and improper for me to ask for them. I should have been satisfied if the Leader of the House had been content to do what the Earl of Derby did—namely, to read out the bases of peace, and nothing more. But he did not do that—he read them with a running commentary which I do not understand, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give some explanation which will render it less unsatisfactory. I do not wish to misrepresent him; but I thought that when he read the articles with reference to autonomy, and when he commented on the provisions in the bases of peace for the liberties of Bulgaria, he spoke in the tone of a man who rather grudged the extension of those liberties. I hope it is not so; but the right hon. Gentleman will speak before the close of the debate, and I only tell him the impression that was produced upon my mind, so that, if he thinks it necessary, he may try to remove it. Now, the Government have said that they desire a solid and a permanent peace. So do we; and in the establishment of a solid and a permanent peace we will render them all the support in our power. But, in order to have a solid and a permanent peace, you must have some sound general diplomatic basis of negotiations, and what is the basis of your negotiations going to be? The bases of the negotiations of the Treaty of Paris in 1856 were the maintenance of the territorial integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire. I hope I shall not startle or shock hon. Members opposite when I say that if you are to have a stable, a permanent, and a solid peace, the diplomatic basis of the Congress of 1878 must be the recognition of the fact that the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire has ceased to exist. I believe that every man who has thought "on this subject— some sooner, some later, some reluctantly, some willingly—have arrived at that conclusion. It is difficult to speak becomingly on this subject, because, in the moment of the distress of a gallant people, one does not wish to use language which would be unnecessarily wounding. But we are speaking of great political interests, and I shall speak with respect of the fallen. I use the word "fallen" upon high authority; for last night the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs spoke of Turkey as a fallen Empire. Events have marched rapidly. I remember that in August 1876—and I remember it with regret, a regret which is, I believe, shared by every Gentleman whom I address, for it was the last time we hoard the voice of Mr. Disraeli in this House—I ventured to express the sentiment I now express, in somewhat emphatic language, and the Prime Minister good-naturedly touched me with the blunt end of his lance, and said—"Can anyone believe such things would happen?" His words were— There is the Tripartite Treaty, by which we not only generally, but singly, guaranteed the territorial integrity of Turkey."—[3 Hansard, ccxxxi. 1145.] What has become of the Tripartite Treaty, and where is now the territorial integrity of Turkey? He ended that speech—and these were the last words he uttered in this House—by saying— We will never agree to any step that hazards the existence of that Empire."—[Ibid. 1147.] But that Empire has ceased to exist. ["No, no!"] I daresay you may not think so; but you will allow me to express my opinion on the subject. I have told you what Lord Derby said yesterday when he spoke of a "fallen Empire;" I have given you the words of the Prime Minister in 1876; I will now read the words of the Foreign Minister on the 28th of January. They are these— I will only say that if any man thinks we ought to have gone to war to maintain the Treaties of 1856 and 1871 that is an intelligible view of the case, but it is not the view of Her Majesty's Government, or of the great majority of the people. I am not now speaking of our going to war, but of the question whether the Turkish Empire can be sustained or not, and Her Majesty's Government have come to the conclusion that it cannot; but they have come to it late. I venture to express my opinion that, if they had come to that conclusion earlier, this war might have been prevented. I believe that all their objections—natural objections, I admit, but I think mistaken objections—first of all, to the Andrassy Note, then to the Berlin Memorandum, and next to the 50 other measures proposed to prevent the war—were founded upon a natural reluctance to compromise the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire. But, Sir, not all the King's horses, nor all the King's men, will ever set up that Empire again. I do not wish to speak with censure or harshness of those who have expressed a different opinion. We are converts to a now political faith on this matter, and therefore we have no right to rage against those who adhere to the ancient religion. I have heard very harsh things said of Mr. Layard. I enjoyed for many years his acquaintance, and valued it. Mr. Layard is Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, and it is very natural that he should desire to maintain the Ottoman Empire and the British Embassy at Constantinople. But Mr. Layard has said that these bases of peace, if accepted, must destroy the Ottoman Empire. That is perfectly true. Does the Government, or even Mr. Layard, believe that these bases of peace, or something like them, will not be ultimately carried into effect? If that is so, you have got two lines of policy before you. You may either try to patch up the broken pieces of this ruined Empire; you may endeavour at the Congress to re-establish a weaker and a more enfeebled Turkey, and in that you are likely to get assistance. An enfeebled Turkey is probably what Russia would desire, because a weak and an enfeebled Turkey would inevitably lead to her becoming the vassal of Russia. If you adopt that policy, in my opinion you will miserably fail. It is said that the Treaties of 1856 and 1871 still exist. Well, so they do in form, but in substance they are gone; because these Treaties had no other end or object in view except the maintenance of the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire. I agree entirely in the language of the Protocol to those Treaties, that they ought not to be set aside without the concurrence of Europe. The concurrence of Europe will be given, and the Treaties will be re-established on totally different bases. Therefore, I hope Her Majesty's Government are not going to rest their title to be at the Congress upon the feeble parchments of the Treaties of 1856 and 1871. They have a much better title to be there. They have a right to be at the Congress of Europe as representing one of the Great Powers in Europe, and in going there upon that title they may be sure of the support of every man in this House. But what is the true principle upon which you ought to go into this Congress? I think if you want to get a permanent settlement of Europe, you should see what are the causes which have destroyed the previous settlement. The Treaty of Vienna of 1815 was negotiated by great statesmen. There were giants in the land in those days; but they made a gigantic blunder, and their work has failed. The Treaty of Vienna was signed 12 years before I was born, and in my lifetime I have seen every bit of it torn into fragments. The chain first broke where it was weakest, for a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. It broke in Greece. The emancipation of Greece, under the influence of England, was the first breach in the Treaty of Vienna. Then followed the emancipation of Belgium; then that of Italy; then came the Holstein affair, and then the break-up of the German Confederation at the battle of Sadowa, and it was completed at the battle of Sedan. Why had the Treaty of Vienna failed? Because the negotiations were founded upon principles which were radically false. It had relation only to dynastic arrangements and geographical puzzles. It was made to suit the ambition of rulers, and it neglected altogether the interests and the sympathies of nationalities and populations. I do not wonder that the negotiators at Vienna made that mistake, fatal as it was. When, after the deluge of the French Revolution, the spires of ancient institutions began to appear out of the flood, it was not unnatural that a different view should be taken from what is taken now; but the edifice was built of untempered mortar; it has broken down, and it now lies in ruins. What is it that has broken down that edifice; what is it that has worked like leaven in the lump; what is it that has destroyed the Treaty of 1815? It is the principle of nationalities. What is it that has made Prince Bismarck so strong in Europe? It is not his armies, great as they are; but it is because he has had the courage and the wisdom to grasp the principle of nationalities, by which he has ground his Potentates to powder. What is it that has made Austria so weak? It is because, by the very conditions of her existence, she is the enemy of the principles of nationality and autonomy. What has made Russia so weak? Her treatment of Poland. What has made her so strong? Because she is the vindicator of oppressed races. ["Oh!"] Is she not strong? Is she not the vindicator of oppressed races? You dislike the Slavs. I do not know why. I daresay you know as much about them as I do. The Slavs are a great nationality. You cannot extinguish them. They have their rights and their sympathies, and whether you like them or not they will assert their existence. You fear the increasing power of Russia, and if you act upon the old policy you have good reason to fear it. But it is not the extension of her frontiers, it is not the fortresses she acquires, that will make her strong. Her strength will be in the imperishable gratitude of the people she has emancipated. ["Oh, oh!"] What, do you think she will not emancipate them, or that the people will not be grateful! I tell you it is not too late for Her Majesty's Government yet to equal and to rival Russia in these sources of strength, if you only go to the Conference with a true policy. England may appear at that Conference in a character in which she would surpass the influence of Russia, for she might be the champion, not of one race, but of all the races there. I have heard a whisper of an Austrian alliance. Well, Sir, Austria has not had a fortunate history in modern Europe. And why? Because, from the conditions of her existence, she has been opposed to the principle of nationalities, and her Empire has broken away. Therefore it is that she has been obliged to have a dual Government and a dual policy. I should be glad that Her Majesty's Government should have the alliance of Austria for objects which England can desire and approve—for the protection of Constantinople, for the preservation of the freedom of the navigation of the Straits and of the Danube; but if you are going to purchase that alliance by aiding her in paring down the autonomy of the Christian Provinces of Turkey—if that is what you desire, then I have a right to say that that is a policy not worthy of the English nation. I had hoped, as was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, that Her Majesty's Government would appear at the Congress as the champion of those who have no power to defend themselves—I mean the Greek nationality. But what is the policy on which you ask our confidence? This is far more important than all these Party squabbles, because this is the question on which the permanent peace of Europe depends, and upon which the future of England must rest. I hope, therefore, that before the end of this debate, we shall hear from Her Majesty's Goverment—for we have not heard it yet except in some satisfactory sentences from the Secretary to the Treasury— what is the spirit in which you are going to the Conference. Are you going to endeavour to save out of the wreck some miserable fragment of a ruined system; or are you going, as you ought to go, to call a new world into existence, to repair the scandals of the old? Are you going to this Conference in the spirit of Castlereagh or in the spirit of Canning? That policy, which began by emancipating the Greeks, I hope you are not going to mar it, as the policy of Canning was marred by the Duke of Wellington and Lord Aberdeen? That is a question we have a right to ask before assenting to give you our confidence on the money which you say is required to strengthen you in the negotiations. Compared with these considerations, the Vote of Credit, to my mind, is a matter of very small account. The Secretary for War said we were refusing to vote the Supplies. That was a very good thing to say, as a Party cry; but really we are not refusing Supplies. I have heard no answer yet to the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers). The speech of the hon. and gallant Member the Secretary to the Treasury was able and interesting, and fully justified his appointment to the high and responsible position which he holds, but it was no answer at all. This Vote is not Supply in any sense of the Constitution. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, it comes to this, then—that if Her Majesty's Government come down and ask for money without saying what it is for, anybody who refuses to vote that money does an unpatriotic thing. You may make that a Tory doctrine; but you can never make it a Whig doctrine as long as you live. If that is Supply, you might as well have no House of Commons at all. But it is not money, it is confidence that is the main point. I have appealed to Her Majesty's Government that they shall tell us the outline of their policy, and the direction in which it would take us? They have asked for an "outward and visible sign." That they may get by a Party majority; but you will never get from a Parliamentary majority the "inward and spiritual grace"—["Oh, oh!"]—why not let me finish the sentence—of "a large and an enlightened Liberal policy." If the Government will, before the close of this debate, declare a policy worthy to command the sympathy of a free people, they will then have the unanimous support of the nation, and they will command the united vote of the House of Commons.


said, that he did not propose to attempt to compose the domestic differences of the City of Oxford. He had listened with great interest and with some instruction to the sentiments which had been uttered by both the hon. Members who represented that ancient city, and he had found great difficulty in ascertaining at that period of the debate and at that period of the history of the proceedings which had led to the debate what were the exact differences between them. It was very easy to treat the events which had happened during the last 18 months as having been blotted out and as being of no importance; but those who remembered what those events had been and how the interests of this country had been protected by Her Majesty's Government in spite of the difficulties which had been placed in their way, might well be disposed to ask, with some curiosity, how hon. Members opposite were disposed to treat in so mild and tender and gentle a manner the policy of this country and the mode in which it was in future to be conducted? It was a fact that this country had been kept out of the war. It was a fact that, but for the firmness of Her Majesty's Government, certain right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would have driven the country into war. He wanted to know what it was, when they had arrived at this condition of events, that had produced the difference in the tone and spirit of the speeches delivered in the course of that debate and that of the speeches which had been echoing and re-echoing through the country during the last 18 months? Was it the collapse of the Turkish Empire? ["Yes!"] The hon. Gentleman opposite said "Yes," but was not that event anticipated? Was it not a fact that so far from being unanticipated, people paused with astonishment at the wonderful power of resistance opposed to the overwhelming odds of the Russian Forces? He should have thought that hon. Members opposite would have been ready to give Her Majesty's Government credit for anticipating what was an obvious event to every mind, that the Turkish Power was totally unable to resist the overwhelming odds brought against her. But instead of that, during the period described, every kind of assertion had been made that Her Majesty's Ministers desired to take England into war, and those who stopped short of that proposition declared that the policy was framed to encourage the aggressors and to depress the nation attacked. He did not wish to interfere with what the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Sir William Harcourt) had described as the armistice of the debate as well as the armistice in the war which had been raging. It was not worth while, nor was it a proposition becoming the dignity of Her Majesty's Ministers, that they should unnecessarily hark back to the conduct of their antagonists, or search their speeches for expressions to prove that they had been endeavouring to prevent the Government from speaking with a firm and certain sound. It was said that there was a tone of conciliation in the country; but it appeared to him that that alleged tone coincided, in point of time, with the tone of certain public meetings which could scarcely be described as conciliatory in their tone. Up to the commencement of the debate it was nothing but war and fury, and statements were freely made that Her Majesty's Government intended to plunge the country into war despite the determined voice of the people. This was the tone which right hon. Gentlemen opposite felt it consistent with their dignity to adopt. He was happy that this tone had passed, and he would not inquire as to what its disappearance was due, but content himself with discussing the question upon the conciliatory and amiable grounds upon which it had now been placed. But he had been exceedingly anxious to hear, among the many counts in the indictment presented against Her Majesty's Ministers, the speeches of the international lawyers, of whom the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) was so much afraid, and who were, according to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, to prove that Her Majesty's Government had committed a breach of international law in the course they had taken. They were not, however, forthcoming. He had heard the hon. and learned Member for Durham (Mr. Herschell), and from first to last he declined to endorse the opinion that the conduct of the Government had been a breach of international law, if not an act of war against Russia. He had listened in vain for any Gentleman who had a regard for hi8 own reputation as a lawyer to affirm that proposition. He had listened, also, with a certain amount of pain, because he thought it was due to the House of Commons, after what had been said, not simply to avoid the topic, but to disavow the proposition. That had not been done, and unless there was in reserve some Gentleman who was going to quote Puffendorff, Grotius, and a whole tribe of authorities on the subject, he was afraid he must take it that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) was to be left unsupported, and that no international lawyer would be found to come forward and affirm the proposition laid down. He had some difficulty in following the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) who had just spoken, because the words "you" and "we" so frequently occurred in his speech, that it was not easy to tell which side of the House was to be credited with the various propositions which he discussed. They were accustomed to the editorial "we," and to its use by Gentlemen who considered themselves of sufficient dignity and importance to employ it; but he did not know that he was particularly concerned to disentangle into its integral parts the "we" that the hon. and learned Member thought proper to represent. But when the hon. Member adopted the "you," he (the Solicitor General) confessed he was somewhat disturbed, because every proposition which the hon. and learned Gentleman had discovered to have been uttered by anybody, and some inferences there from which he had drawn himself, he thought proper to address broadly to the Conservative Party, and say—"You do this and you do that, and from that I deduce that it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government." Well, he had to inform the hon. and learned Gentleman that there were independent opinions on that side of the House as well as on his own, although he did not believe that in the matter they were then discussing there was any difference of opinion among them. Her Majesty's Government, he believed, enjoyed the full confidence of the Party whom they represented. But when they were told, as they were recently, that they were like so many sheep, that their discipline was marvellous, and that they did this or that as they were ordered, he wished to know how hon. Gentlemen opposite would like such language applied to them? ["Name!"] He was reluctant to name the author of the sentiment—so much of wrath had during the debate been poured on his devoted head; he preferred to protest against it. The hon. and learned Gentleman said it was not wise to use language distrustful of Russia. Although his "you" was supposed to stand for the algebraic X, which the House was to solve, they were told that the "you" on some occasion or other distrusted Russia, and it was not wise to go into the Conference using such language. Well, he did not know to whom that language was attributed. In the House of Commons they ought to deal frankly and speak plainly of the subject under discussion. It might be extremely impolitic and imprudent for Her Majesty's Ministers to depart from the decorous usage of diplomatic language; but freedom from such restraint was an advantage of which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite had unsparingly availed themselves, and if some proposition of theirs could not be replied to without a breach of diplomatic courtesy and without fettering the con-duet of the Government in the most difficult and intricate negotiations into which they might enter, they thought that because no answer had been given no answer could be given. They wore asked to believe that the proceedings by Russia were dictated by a love of enlightenment, nationality, and self-government. If one were to discuss these questions freely, without the fetter that diplomatic language placed upon them, one would be compelled to appeal to the history of even recent negotiations to show that, in the language of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, they were in the face of an essentially astute diplomatist, with respect to whom it was extremely undesirable to draw aside that veil of diplomatic language which was forced upon persons holding official and responsible situations. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite must be aware that they had been tied and bound by the same kind of fetters, and he asked them to say whether their adversaries had abused the advantage they possessed. He could not help saying he was somewhat ashamed of the tone adopted in some part of the debate. There was one thing upon which he believed they were all agreed. He had not heard from a single hon. Member a denial of the extreme gravity of the situation. They were in a situation in the history of this country— he would say in the history of the world— which was probably without parallel in reference to the materials of mischief, and the possibility of an explosion which would be unexampled in its disastrous effects upon the civilization of every nation of the globe. That being the condition of things, what was the sort of discussion which had been raised? They were asked to discuss, forsooth, whether the Motion before the House was a Supplementary Estimate or a Vote of Credit. Was that worthy of the position which they at present occupied? Was that the sort of discussion which ought to arise when these exigencies were pressing? Why, if that sort of objection had been raised in a Law Court he knew what would be said. They would be told that they were losing in the forms the substance of the things they were asking for. But he was glad that a lawyer was not responsible for the proceeding. Why, if it was not a Supplementary Estimate or a Vote of Credit what mattered it? It was the thing asked for by the Government which they ought to discuss. It was the means wherewith to protect the State, and to revert to forms of the sort adopted by the Opposition seemed to him to be the abandonment of the real substance of the matter at issue. He would not discuss the matter further. It was conceded on all hands, it had been conceded by the right hon. Member for Greenwich, that they were now in this position— that in the settlement of Europe this country was faced by a condition of things which no generation had witnessed within living memory, and that that which was supposed to be a barrier against utter confusion of the European system had been, if not removed, at all events impaired. It was in reference to this state of things that the Government asked not the confidence of a Party Vote but the confidence of the country and of Parliament in their efforts to protect the honour and the interests of the Empire. But in what way had the Government proposals been met? They had been threatened and denounced—threatened with an exposure of the evil intentions and policy of the Queen's Ministers. Some statements he would rather not refer to particularly; but when they heard it said that the object of this Vote was to provide places for the sons and nephews of Ministers, he confessed that he could not master his indignation that in an assemby of Englishmen statements of that sort should not meet with the contumely they deserved. They were dealing with a condition of things in which it was admitted that the greatest interests that any country could possess were at stake, and he did therefore protest against the alternative presented to them by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. He protested against the alternative in which he was only permitted, on the one hand, to say he was for Turkey and for the maintenance of its misgovernment, which no one had denied; or, on the other side, that he must admit that the object, purpose, and tendency of Russian policy was the establishment and enfranchisement of the subject-races, and to establish a new era in the liberties of mankind. He protested against that alternative as entirely untrue. It was not true that any hon. Members on his side of the House had put forward for admiration and respect the institutions of the Turkish Empire. They were, unfortunately, self-condemned. They were unable to act for themselves, and were hopelessly abandoned by reason, inasmuch as they were the will of a single man, acted upon, unfortunately, by no public spirit or deliberative assembly. On the other hand, if it was to be suggested that because he refused to accept that alternative, he was driven to the other, and that he must accept the influence and intentions of Russia as likely to operate for the benefit of mankind in the establishment of free States, that was what the common sense of mankind would repudiate as utterly untrue. With what force could any hon. Member who put forward that proposition avoid the argument which was applicable to the actual condition of things when he was asked while Russia is reforming other States and enfranchising subject-populations what was the condition of her own? He did not desire, and it would be imprudent for many reasons, to go through the catalogue of history, or it might be used to show that the Russian Government was not calculated to make subject-populations which were under her rule examples either of free government or of happiness. Every hon. Member would be able from his own memory to give examples to enforce that proposition. Now, in what position were we? and that was the question with which the House was dealing. Hon. Members opposite, and the hon. and learned Member himself, had spoken as if this country should aid and assist Russia in the mission which he assumed to be for the enfranchisement and enlightenment of the subject-populations over which her arms might now give her sway. He would like to know what guarantee to this country the hon. and learned Member could point to, to prove that if we should use our influence in that direction, the power so conferred would be used in the direction he desired that it should be? And in what way was it to be used? Was the House to discuss the question that ought to be discussed by the responsible Advisers of the Crown, or were they to prescribe and lay down the particular way in which this country was to advance its view? If not, what was the course to be pursued? He should have thought, with reference to any administration, that the position at which they had arrived must be taken into consideration. Given the conclusion at which they had arrived—given the admitted declaration of the Government that their efforts had been to preserve the interests of the country and the peace of the country— he should have thought that the necessary consequence was that they could not discuss the matter in the House of Commons, and that the inevitable result would be to trust the Government for the time being, and if they could not be trusted, to substitute another Government; but whilst they were at the helm the House had no right to interfere with their steering. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of exhibiting strength by showing our confidence in other countries. These were marvellously fine words; but, practically, what did they mean? They were not legislating for Bulgaria or Roumania, but whether the Government should go into the Conference with the voice of the country at their back, or whether that influence should be destroyed by an adverse Vote. They were discussing that question on a totally artificial hypothesis. It was known the Amendment would not be successful. The Opposition ought to argue as they would if it were probable that the Amendment would be carried, and as if by carrying it they must displace the Government. In a momentous crisis, when to his astonishment the conduct of the Government met with almost universal approbation, the Opposition asked the House to refuse a Vote which the Government thought necessary to maintain England in the Conference, and then they sheltered themselves under the known fact that they would be defeated; because they knew they dared not, if there was the smallest possibility of their Amendment succeeding, expose to the country the absence of interest in their own country which such a vote would necessarily involve. That was a self-confessed act of faction. It was not a genuine determination to conduct the affairs of the country according to their view in which those affairs should be conducted. It was dragging down to the regions of Party that which ought at all times and under every Government to be the first and ruling object of every Englishman—the words were not his, nor those of a politician who sat on his side of the House, but of a distinguished Liberal, who said, with regard to this question, he must remember that he was an Englishman first and a Liberal afterwards. The condition of things, therefore, was this—at this period in the history of Europe, with every element of mischief existing in every country in Europe—with the influence of England trembling in the balance, when no specific charge was made against the Government, it was thought a fit and opportune moment to deprive them of that support which every Government ought to receive from the existing House of Commons, be the Government on one side or another. He felt that at that period of the evening he bad kept the House too long, but there was one observation he was desirous of making. It had been repeatedly observed that the Government and those who spoke in their support were continually harping on selfish interests alone. What did foreign nations regard as our title to interfere? Not our general championship of the rights of mankind. But what they did recognize, and what they were compelled to recognize, was the interest which every country had in its own welfare; and any country which came to the Conference of Nations and claimed a hearing would be compelled to show that its national rights were interfered with and its interests were at issue, which they were bound to guard. And what was improper or inappropriate to those entrusted with the interests of a great nation in saying that they would not interfere with Turkey or Russia, so far as they fight their own battles? The Government had said that consistently; yet now, when they came forward to guard English interests, which they were bound to do, they were to be refused the support of the House of Commons in the Vote which they felt to be essential to the efficient conduct of the negotiations. When these subjects went before the Conference, the Minister of this country should be entitled to say England had a voice on this question, which affected the future condition of England. If that was so, why were they not in the House of Commons to exhibit their great characteristics—to say that they could afford to speak out the truth, that they were able to abide by what they had said? When he spoke of English interests, he believed it to be no exaggeration to say that in representing English interests it represented the interests of the country which alone had carried, and had dared to carry all through the globe, those principles of liberty which were as dear to hon. Members on his side of the House as to hon. Members opposite— those principles of independence, those desires for education, the desire for the raising of the subject-populations over which our sway might extend—in maintaining the interests of England we should be maintaining the interests of civilization and freedom throughout the world.


moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow.

House adjourned at half after Twelve o'clock.