HC Deb 12 March 1878 vol 238 cc1156-217

rose to call attention to the Correspondence between Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople and the Foreign Office, relating to certain statements which had been made as to communications which had passed between the Right honourable the Member for Greenwich and a M. Negroponte; and to move— That this House, having had before it the Correspondence between Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople and the Foreign Office, relating to certain charges which had been made against the Right honourable the Member for Greenwich, based on his Letters to a M. Negroponte, views with regret the part taken in the matter by Her Majesty's Ambassador. The hon. Gentleman said, he was not presenting himself to the House as the champion or the advocate of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). It would be great presumption in him to assume such a part; for as long as that right hon. Gentleman lived, he would want no advocate and need call no witness save his own high character and splendid reputation. He (Mr. Ashley) had been honoured with the right hon. Gentleman's friendship, and, as far as such considerations were concerned, he might also add that for nearly 20 years he had had the acquaintance of Mr. Layard. But it was not on the score of personal reasons that he had brought the matter forward; but on far higher grounds—as it involved questions, in fact, of great interest to their future public life. He had brought forward the question without any consultation with, or suggestion from, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. He had no special or private means of information; but the sources from which he obtained his knowledge were those open to everyone—namely, the official Correspondence laid on the Table, and the columns of the London newspapers. He desired, also, to draw special attention to the fact that everything that would be laid to the charge of the Ambassador at Constantinople had been told by himself; so that while no doubt could be entertained of its truth, they would also have the satisfaction of knowing that it had probably been presented in the most favourable light. He hoped the House would excuse him if he begged them not to be led away from the subject under discussion. The matter, in his opinion, lay in a nutshell; and, in lawyers' language, he might say he did not intend to travel out of the record, or to be enticed into paths and thickets which they might have on another occasion to explore; but with which, at present, they had nothing whatever to do. The affair they had to deal with was very compact; but it was not for that reason the less important in principle. What was involved was whether, in future, a public servant in high place was to be at liberty to use all the advantages and power of his position to crush, or attempt to crush, any man whom he might think was an obstacle to his policy? He said if that principle was once recognized or passed over without notice, then they would be in danger of rapidly degenerating into that tyranny of officialism which was so disastrously rampant in France a few months ago. Again, if they were to be allowed to use all the means in their power to discredit their opponents, then he said their public life in this country would become a mere political stock exchange, where they would be divided into bulls and bears, engaged by telegrams, by communiqués, by whispers, in raising their own stock, and depreciating the stock of their rivals. He was bringing before the House the conduct, not of Mr. Layard, but of the Ambassador at Constantinople. Nor did he call attention to the matter on account of the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich; he would have done the same if anyone else had been similarly treated; but, at the same time, it would be affectation for him to conceal his opinion that the great services of the right hon. Gentleman to his country, and his former relations with the Ambassador, did undoubtedly give a deeper hue to the treatment he had received. He hoped the House would allow him to read a few extracts from the Correspondence; and hon. Members must remember that every one of those documents was before the Ambassador at Constantinople at the time when he wrote his despatch at the end of October; so that he had full opportunity for forming a judgment as to the truth of the statements and as to the propriety of the course which he ought to have adopted. The first letter was one from the right hon. Gentleman to M. Negroponte, dated January 9, 1877. The date was important, because this was the letter on which the whole controversy hinged. At this time the Conference was sitting, and every reasonable man had full expectation and hope that the unanimous decision of Europe would be accepted by Turkey, and that war would not take place. The right hon. Gentleman on that date wrote as follows:— Hawarden Castle, January 9, 1877. For me the question of the East is not a question of Christianity against Islamism. It is, however, a question of the Christians against the Porte and the governing Ottomans;" because all the grievances of the Mussulman and Jewish subjects—and such, without doubt, there are— ought to disappear in the act of applying an efficacious and well-considered remedy to the grievances of the Christians, who form the mass of the oppressed. I do not, then, recognize any plurality of causes; for mo the cause is one only, and I cannot commend either Greeks, who refuse their moral support (concours moral) to the Slavs, or Slavs who refuse it to the Greeks. That efficacious remedy I find in the development of the local liberties of all such Provinces as are proved to be suffering, in order to put an end to evils which have made the world shudder, to arrest the selfish intrigues (if such exist) of any Power whatever, and to afford to Turkey the means, or at least the possibility, of a repose that she will never obtain under the actual conditions, nor under what is called her Constitution. The equitable delimitation of Slav and Hellenic Provinces is a question difficult and grave enough; but it is also an ulterior question such as cannot, in my opinion, be adjusted in a satisfactory manner unless when Greek and Slav alike shall have imparted to one another, on the basis of a plan of local liberties, the reciprocal sympathy which will be alike generous and wise. That letter, he had forgotten to say, was written in reply to one from M. Negroponte. Now, there was nothing incendiary in this letter. Anybody who had given any thought to this Eastern Question, would readily appreciate what were the dissensions referred to which had tended to keep back the Christian populations from the attainment of comparative freedom and power. M. Negroponte wrote again, and the answer of the right hon. Gentleman to his second letter ran thus— Hawarden, Chester, July 21, 1877. In answer to your letter of the 29th of May, I beg to assure you, in the first place, that my own conduct in the future, if it be a matter of interest to anyone, may be with tolerable certainty anticipated and prefigured from what it has been in the past. And, in the second place, it was and is far from my intention to pronounce upon the merits of the controversy between Greek and Slav. I sought only to insist upon the policy and duty of treating the Christian cause as one in the face of the Ottoman power and influence, and of adjourning to a future juncture the settlement of the inter-Christian controversies. It has not been thought right to act upon this principle, but upon the opposite one—thought right, I moan, among the Hellenes of the Empire. Events seem to me to be rapidly supplying materials for a judgment on the question whether the policy thus pursued has been a wise one. It certainly has not raised up, at least in this country, one solitary friend to the Hellenic cause. I hope it is not too late to change. That was the entire Correspondence which passed between the right hon. Gentleman and M. Negroponte. They must now leave England and proceed to Constantinople. What did they find there, by the account given by Mr. Layard himself? They found that M. Negroponte had said to the Ambassador some time in August that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had been writing, inciting the Greeks to rise against the Turks; and that the right hon. Gentleman's second letter was taken to the Ambassador on the 20th of August by a gentleman who was correspondent of The Times. The Ambassador, according to his own statement, was shown the letter, but told he must not have a copy of it; and thereupon he sent at once for a member of the Embassy, and proceeded to impart to him a verbal account of the contents of the letter, and to send that verbal account to the correspondent of what?—of The Daily Telegraph. Now, he asked why did. our Ambassador at Constantinople select The Daily Telegraph as the medium of communication? He did not flinch from saying that it must have been notorious to him, as to everybody in this country, that for some time past that newspaper had become a public scandal. He would go further, and say, a public danger, in moments of excitement. For what? Not for the opinions which it held—for it was welcome to them — but for the total untrustworthiness of its statements and for the recklessness of its assertions. It could hardly be— and he would not impute such a thing to the Ambassador—yet it was singular for the Ambassador to select a newspaper which, like the savages they had heard of, who burnt what they formerly adored, had undoubtedly shown itself most ready to roast that idol when in the desert, which it had formerly worshipped when it stood in high places. It was a coincidence; but it was remarkable that the Ambassador should at once have sent through a member of the Embassy—a most unjustifiable thing—an account of that letter to the correspondent of such a newspaper as The Daily Telegraph. He (Mr. Ashley) could not, of course, state what the exact tenor of the message to the paper might have been; the statement of the Ambassador was that it was only a communication of the contents of the letter. But, surely by its fruits they must know it, and they could only judge of the tenor of the message by the effect it produced. He would ask the particular attention of hon. Members to the words of the telegram which was consequently sent by the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph. It was dated August 27, 1877, and was printed in the issue of the next day— (From our Special Correspondent, Pera.) Important papers have just been made known showing that Mr. Gladstone has been trying to stir up the Greeks against Turkey. About two months ago Mr. Gladstone wrote a letter to a Greek merchant in Constantinople urging that the countrymen of the latter should unite with the Slavs in an attack upon the Turks. M. Negroponte replied to the effect that the interests of the Greeks were altogether different from those of the Slavs, that the best policy of Greece was rather to fight the Russians than the Turks, and that Greece, if she were wise, would remain tranquil. Mr. Gladstone, in answer to this, wrote a second letter, very curtly worded, saying that he had given his opinion and was astonished to find the Christians of the East so disinclined to make common cause against the Mussulmans. He again urged the Greeks to attack the Turks. M. Negroponte, in reply, stated that Mr. Gladstone's was not good advice, and there the correspondence at present rests. They all knew the sensation which the telegram made in the country, and the use which was made of it; the way in which all who had in any way shared the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman had this thrown into their teeth, and how it was looked upon as a tremendous triumph to the Ottoman Party that such an accusation should have been made against him in the "largest circulation in the world." Well, the right hon. Gentleman at once wrote, stating that it was to him a most startling telegram, and calling for documents; but no notice was taken of the matter, and the next man who appeared on the scene was M. Negroponte, who wrote to The Times as follows, referring to that telegram:— On the 27th of August there was published a despatch from Constantinople, of which I only received cognizance yesterday. What I most emphatically deny is that the contents of the letters interchanged were at all of the nature attributed to them by your contemporary, or that Mr. Gladstone ever, by letter or action, within my knowledge, encouraged the Greeks against the Turks, or advised a Slavo-Greek alliance; or, further, that I ever expressed an opinion in opposition to any views on his part. Consequently I have no hesitation in declaring the statement wholly unfounded and an unworthy perversion of the truth by certain persons intriguing here to damage the political reputation of Mr. Gladstone, and who, not having the courage to meet their adversaries in fair fight, are obliged to have recourse to underhand methods. Now, it suited some people to say that M. Negroponte was a liar; but he, for his part, believed that M. Negroponte was, on this occasion, telling the truth. M. Negroponte went on to say— Out of delicacy I will not mention the name of the person from whom undoubtedly proceeded the information which gave rise to the despatch to your contemporary and the perversion of the contents of the letter in question.…I leave it, however, to public opinion in England to form a judgment as to how far this may be considered honourable conduct on the part of a person of consequence. M. J. NEGROPONTE. Constantinople, Sept. 7. That letter was published in The Times on the 15th of September, 1877; but it drew no notice, any more than the other documents, no retractation, apology, or explanation from their Ambassador at Constantinople, who knew that, wittingly or unwittingly, he had started the ball rolling. Perhaps the Ambassador thought, in regard to M. Negroponte, of the words"Grœculus esuriens in cœlum jusseris ibit;" that nobody in England would pay any attention to the contradiction of a mere Greekling; that the story which had been set afloat would run its course and do its work, and that it was not his business to step forward and stop it. But at last the right hon. Member for Greenwich, having, after some search in London, obtained the original letter in question, himself wrote to the newspapers. The right hon. Gentleman inserted at full length his letter to M. Negroponte, which he (Mr. Ashley) had just read to the House, and made these comments— It is, however, plain that he (the Special Correspondent of The Daily Telegraph) has been no more than a dupe in the business. There is some Polonius behind the curtain, and I call upon him to come out. From the letter of M. Negroponte it might be inferred that he is a person of importance. Be he who he may, let him come out. An accusation has been made and believed, and has fluttered all the diplomatic body. I am justified in now saying, from the, evidence before us, it is a false accusation. I ask your correspondent, if he can do it honourably, forthwith to name his informant. If he cannot, I ask the informant, in vindication of his own honour, to name himself. Before he went to the conduct and language of the Ambassador when that reached his ears, he would quote to the House the editorial article of The Daily Telegraph on that letter of the right hon. Gentleman—not because they had anything to do with The Daily Telegraph, or The Daily Telegraph with them—but because he wished to call attention to the extraordinary solidarité, if he might use the phrase, between the way in which The Daily Telegraph dealt with the right hon. Gentleman's explanation and remonstrance, and the way in which the Ambassador dealt with them. Instead of taking a warning by the behaviour of the newspaper, and feeling that it was such grossly unfair conduct that he was all the more bound in honour to come forward and sot matters right, the Ambassador, on the contrary, closely imitated the language of the newspaper itself. The paragraph in the journal ran as follows: — The statement which our Correspondent made was avowedly based on the description given by several distinguished persons who had seen the Negroponte letters. That specimen which Mr. Gladstone has been good enough to send us is but one of the series; —thus thrusting aside the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman that there were only two. The leader went on to say that— To substantiate the full meaning of the Correspondence, it was necessary for our representative to do one of two things—either to obtain a complete file from M. Negroponte, or to transfer to diplomatic authorities all responsibility by naming them. He cannot do the first, because M. Negroponte withholds the originals, while Mr. Gladstone possesses no copies of the other communications. This was a gratuitous assertion, as there was no statement on M. Negroponte's part that he withheld other originals; on the contrary, he said that there were only two letters— Our Correspondent cannot do the second because those who have seen the Correspondence, and spoken of its purport, now place under the seal of confidence what they had stated to him. All this was before the Ambassador when he wrote his despatch of the 29th October. Then The Daily Telegraph went on— Our Correspondent withdraws the statement which circumstances oblige him to leave un-proven by documents. Failing a direction, from Mr. Gladstone himself to M. Negroponte for the publication of the entire Correspondence, this appears to him the sole and proper course to take.…We avoid prolonging the discussion or diminishing the completeness of that satisfaction which, under the peculiar aspects of the affair, Mr. Gladstone has a technical right to ask. We therefore leave the subject to public judgment, with these frank explanations. He left to the judgment of the House what degree of frankness there was in these explanations; but would again call attention to the fact that the correspondent of this paper was in close communication with the Ambassador at Constantinople, and that the action of the two was precisely alike. Now he came to the despatch. The Ambassador, after that appeal of the right hon. Member for Greenwich had reached him, took some time to consider; but at last he came forward on the 29th of October. The despatch was before the House. He would not now read it, because that was unnecessary, the document having been long before the House. He would simply draw attention to this—that the Ambassador, instead of meeting the matter in a frank way, and either saying that he had made a mistake and given a wrong account, or that he was the author of a gross misrepresentation which he deeply regretted, and which, as far as he was concerned, he absolutely retracted, dealt with it in the most diffuse manner; so that, having read that despatch many times, he (Mr. Ashley) was not perfectly clear as to the defence which the Ambassador wanted to set up. Now, the Ambassador had three persons to get rid of—first, the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, who had compromised him; next, M. Negroponte, who had directly charged him; and then, the right hon. Member for Greenwich, who had sent him an appeal, and protested against the statements in the published telegram. He got rid of The Daily Telegraph in a most extraordinary manner. He would not use strong language, or he might call it disingenuous; but it was entirely contrary to the fact, no doubt from carelessness on the part of the Ambassador. The Ambassador said— I mentioned the contents of the letter to a gentleman connected with the Embassy, adding that if he saw the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph he could mention it to him. He did not do so; but a third person, to whom he spoke on the subject, did inform the correspondent of the latter on the following day. The correspondent took time to inquire into the matter, and having satisfied himself that a correspondence was going on between Mr. Gladstone and M. Negroponte, and that the Greeks were under the impression that Mr. Gladstone had been stirring them up to unite with the Slavs to attack the Turks, he telegraphed to that effect on Monday the 27th August, and his telegram was published on the following day."—[Turkey. No. 10 (1878), p. 2.] Now, the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph did not confine his communication to the fact that there had been a Correspondence going on between the right hon. Gentleman and M. Negroponte, and that the Greeks were under the impression referred to; but he sent to his newspaper—and for this the Ambassador must be held responsible—a telegram distinctly charging the right hon. Gentleman with having incited the Greeks to rise against the Turks, and stating, moreover, that documents could be produced which would prove that charge. The Ambassador did not seem to have been unwilling to take M. Negroponte's word when charges were being brought against the right hon. Gemtleman; but, subsequently, he said that M. Negroponte's word was not to be trusted. Well, taking it for the sake of the argument that M. Negroponte was not to be trusted, he held that the Ambassador was perfectly incapable of being accurate. He charged M. Negroponte with saying that one of the two persons to whom he showed the letter was a person of consequence, to whom he imputed the origin of the mischief, and he gave his denial to that fact. But M. Negroponte had said he showed the letter only to two persons, neither of whom caused the mischief; but that it was caused by a totally different person. The Ambassador went on to say that M. Negroponte offered to telegraph to The Times that neither of the two persons to whom he alluded was in any way connected with the British Embassy, and that the only reason why this was not done was that he—the Ambassador—did not consent, wishing, out of regard for some of M. Negroponte's relations, to spare him from adding another falsehood to those of which he had already been guilty. He (Mr. Ashley) did not see that there was any untruth in that statement; but if there was, it was a curious reason to give as the only one for withdrawing it—namely, the accidental friendship of the Ambassador with some of M. Negroponte's relations. But all this showed how difficult it was to get at anything substantial or straightforward. Now, coming to the really important part of the despatch, how did the Ambassador get rid of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich? He virtually charged the right hon. Gentleman with two new offences. He charged him with suppressing other letters that had passed between him and M. Negroponte, and a letter received from The Times correspondent which would have thrown great light on the matter. He says— I am aware that M. Negroponte has transmitted to Mr. Gladstone either the originals or copies of all the correspondence, but he has not thought fit to publish them. Moreover, I have the authority of The Times correspondent to say that he sent Mr. Gladstone a letter for publication in that journal, which would have disproved the statements made by M. Negroponte in his letter to The Times. Mr. Gladstone has not thought proper to publish this letter."—[Ibid.] He had very little more to say, and he wished to deal with the remainder of the Correspondence very shortly. He would merely draw attention to the extremely moderate language of the right hon. Gentleman in his letter of November 20, in which he denied the possession of these letters which he was accused of suppressing; but gives every loophole to the Ambassador to withdraw from the position which he had assumed. The whole of December passed, the early part of January passed, and the Ambassador took no notice whatever of the right hon. Gentleman; but treated him with perfect and entire contempt. At last the Foreign Office, instigated by the right hon. Gentleman, sent a telegram to the Ambas- sador on the 16th of January, 1878, saying— Are you preparing any answer to my despatch of 22nd November last, enclosing a copy of a letter from Mr. Gladstone relative to the Negroponte Correspondence; and, if so, when may it be expected? The next day he telegraphed, in reply, merely this— With reference to your telegram of yesterday, I have not thought it necessary to continue the controversy with Mr. Gladstone."—[Ibid. p. 5.] He thought comment on that was superfluous. But the Ambassador seemed to appeal to public opinion, and said he was quite willing that the Correspondence should be published. Well, that was the reason why he (Mr. Ashley) had thought it his duty to bring this matter before the House. There had been a distinct appeal to public opinion and to the opinion of that House upon the Papers on the Table. He was not blaming the Foreign Office; but he must draw the attention of the House to this—that no censure was expressed by-it on the conduct of the Ambassador, and no objection to the attitude he assumed. He (Mr. Ashley) said that made it imperative on the House to express an opinion on the matter. He thought it was a very bad novelty that an Ambassador should use his position and influence to attack a Party Leader at home. An Ambassador should at all times be entirely free from Party, He could not help thinking that in days gone by, however fierce were the disputes, how differently a thing of this sort would have been met. He was the other day reading a Life of Edmund Burke, and he came across a very striking passage, the applicability of which to the question now before the House he would point out after he had read the extract. The biographer of Edmund Burke was talking about the time of the American War. Burke was in the minority, and opposed it. The biographer said— Those who could not refute the arguments of a Burke were at no loss for opprobrious names. They styled the supporters of liberty and the enemies of war Yankees, Republicans, Cromwellians, and Levellers. Burke was peculiarly obnoxious because he had been the longest, most constant, and persevering opposer of American taxation. The common talk among courtiers and their dependents in town, the nobility and their retainers in the country, was that the Rebellion was owing to the Opposition Leaders. Burke, however, was not moved by the attacks of servility and selfishness, nor by the frivolous defamation of ignorance and folly. They knew that Edmund Burke was hooted by a London mob; but they had not read—he (Mr. Ashley) had not read —that he was ever pelted behind his back at the same time by an Ambassador. But he felt perfectly certain of this—that if Burke had been so attacked by an Ambassador, our forefathers in that House would not have shrunk from protecting him. He hoped that, on this occasion, they would not prove degenerate sons of those who had preceded them. He thought the Resolution he had put before the House was very moderate in its terms. He was sure the House could not say that he had used exaggerated language. He had merely said this—that the House, having had laid before it the Correspondence, and, therefore, having had the matter brought under its cognizance, viewed with regret the part taken by Her Majesty's Ambassador. He did not, under the circumstances, ask the House to express more than that; less than that they would not be justified in assenting to, if they valued and wished to maintain the old traditions of British statesmanship, British truth, and British fair play. As to the despatch from Mr. Layard, which at 5 o'clock that afternoon hon. Members had had placed in their hands, it was received at the Foreign Office on the 1st of March— that was to say, over 10 days ago. But he was not going to find fault with the Foreign Office. He supposed the reason why it was not laid on the Table before was this—that the Foreign Office saw at once that that despatch made matters much worse; and they very rightly and properly said—"If the hon. Member for Poole is not going on with his Motion, we may as well, for the sake of the Ambassador, keep the despatch back." It was only on Friday he put down the terms of his Motion, and then the Foreign Office thought it necessary to lay the despatch on the Table of the House. He had read the despatch hastily; but he saw clearly that it was as an apology not worth the paper on which it was written. It was dated February 19, and, at the time it was written, the Ambassador must have known that the matter was going to be brought before the House; but the only regret he expressed was this— If he mentioned to a gentleman connected with the Embassy that he might tell the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, as a piece of news, that there was a letter from Mr. Gladstone to M. Negroponte, then in the hands of another newspaper correspondent, he expressed regret for that."—[Turkey, No. 18 (1878), p. 1.] But the Ambassador had owned in his former despatch that he went further than that, and that he communicated the contents of that letter. He (Mr. Ashley) had conscientiously come to the conclusion that this last despatch, in its general tenor and tone, instead of making matters better, made them infinitely worse. When a man in the position of Her Majesty's Ambassador had, wittingly or unwittingly, by force of will or unintentionally, been reputed to be the cause of so gross a piece of injustice as that which had been circulated throughout England of a man in the position of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, he had only two courses open to him— one to say that the accusation which had been brought against that right hon. Gentleman was perfectly true, and that he would substantiate it; and the other to say in a few simple, straightforward words—"I do not believe that I was the cause of its being brought; but if I was, I not only desire to retract it, amply, fully, and freely, but I desire to express my unbounded regret that by my communication with persons connected with The Daily Telegraph this telegram should have been sent." But, instead of that, they had had a couple of despatches, which were both confused and aggressive, and entirely unsatisfactory, and which confirmed him in his opinion that it was the duty of the House to affirm its regret at the part taken by the British Ambassador in the propagation of this scandal. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House, having had laid before it the Correspondence between Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople and the Foreign Office, relating to certain charges which had been made against the Eight honourable the Member for Greenwich, based on his Letters to a M. Negroponte, views with regret the part taken in the matter by Her Majesty's Ambassador."—(Mr. Evelyn Ashley.)


Before I venture to examine the case opened to the House by the hon. and learned Member for Poole, I wish to explain why the Paper he last alluded to was not in the hands of hon. Members this morning. It was printed yesterday, and when I left the Foreign Office directions were given that the printer should place it in the hands of hon. Members this morning. I need scarcely explain that it is not always in the power of a Department to have its Papers placed in the hands of hon. Members exactly at the time it should wish; because once the Papers have passed from the Department to the printer, the business of the Foreign Office is concluded with respect to them. I had several copies in the House last night, and I gave them to those hon. Members I thought likely to be interested in the question. It has been the wish of the Foreign Office to produce all these Papers as soon as possible, and there is not the slightest foundation for the surmise made by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Ashley) that it was the desire of the Foreign Office to keep them back. We had no object either one way or the other. Our only desire was that the matter might be fully before the House. The House, I am sure, will quite agree with me when I say that this is a Vote of Censure upon Mr. Layard of a very aggravated and severe character; and, although the hon. and learned Gentleman seems to think that he has couched his Motion in very mild terms, at the same time I cannot but think that nothing could be more injurious to one of our Ambassadors than that the House of Commons should come to the conclusion that it read with regret certain despatches which he had written. [Opposition cheers.] I perceive that hon. Gentlemen opposite accept this view. A Vote of Censure, I need not remind the House, is to a public servant a very grave matter. I conceive it ought not to be brought forward, or, at any rate, it ought not to be agreed to by this House, without the deepest consideration. And I cannot help expressing my belief that if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), judging from his Correspondence, had been asked whether, in his opinion, Mr. Layard ought to have a Vote of Censure passed upon him by this House, he would, taking all the circumstances into consideration, have differed from the hon. and learned Member for Poole. I daresay a considerable number of hon. Gentlemen have read these Papers, but I am greatly afraid that there are many who have not, and they would necessarily be placed at a disadvantage; because, although the hon. and learned Member for Poole has, no doubt, read a certain portion of the Papers, at the same time it was impossible for him to read the whole of them, and he gave, naturally enough, what was his own view of the case. But I must say I come to a totally different conclusion with regard to the interpretation to be put upon these despatches. I shall state at once what is Mr. Layard's defence of his conduct in the whole of this conflict. It may be stated in one single sentence, and that is that he is in no way responsible for the telegram that was sent by the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph. That is the beginning and end of all this conflict; and although the hon. and learned Member tried to fasten on Mr. Layard, by means of statements of his own, a certain connection with the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, his assertions came to nothing but this— that Mr. Layard and every other Ambassador of every other country represented at Constantinople, are on terms of friendly communication not only with the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph there, but with the correspondent of every other newspaper in London and of other capitals who are there. A great portion of the hon. and learned Member's speech was taken up with an attack not upon Mr. Layard or Her Majesty's Government, but with an attack upon The Daily Telegraph. Well, Sir, I have heard these attacks before in this House; but I will not follow the example of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who certainly seemed to me to introduce that branch of the subject merely for the purpose of prejudice; because it has nothing in the world to do with the question before us. I will avoid the example he has set of introducing topics of an irritating character connected with the Press; because I believe that if the House will calmly look at this matter from the point of view in which I hope to present it, they will come to the conclusion that there is no cause whatever for censuring the course taken by Mr. Layard. At the risk of wearying the House, I will recur to the facts of the case. They will be found upon the first page of the first series of Papers. It will there be seen that M. Negroponte, in August, called upon Mr. Layard. In some conversation with Mr. Layard, he mentioned that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, in a correspondence with him, was endeavouring to persuade him that the time was come for a general rising of the Greek population, and that they should unite with the Slavs to throw off the Turkish yoke. M. Negroponte did not show Mr. Layard the letter, neither did he mention its date, but he stated what was his opinion. Now, it is quite clear that at the time M. Negroponte made that statement he gave Mr. Layard a totally erroneous view of the letter he had received from the right hon. Gentleman. If that is the case, it is perfectly clear that M. Negroponte was the fountain and origin of what was believed in Constantinople on the subject, and that he was asserting all over the town that he was in correspondence with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, and that from that correspondence, it was his opinion that the writer (Mr. Gladstone) thought the time was come for the Greeks to unite with the Slavs to throw off the Turkish yoke. That was in August. On the 20th of that month, at an assembly at the Ambassador's house, a letter was shown, not by M. Negroponte, but by the correspondent of The Times, to Mr. Layard. Now, the hon. and learned Member gave the House, I think, to understand that the whole of this controversy arose upon the first letter of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone). The first letter had nothing to do with the subsequent controversy, because at this time the Ambassador knew nothing about it, except what M. Negroponte had told him. The Times correspondent showed the letter to our Ambassador—that is, the second letter— but would not allow him to copy it. Thus the whole of the controversy arose on the second letter, not on the first letter, as the House would understand from the statement of the hon. and learned Mover of this Motion. Now, I do not want to raise any controversy as to what might be the interpretation of the second letter. I wish to confine my remarks within the despatches that are now before the House. I see before me the chance of a very long debate if any question on the second letter is raised; and I do not think that anyone on either side of the House will say that it has anything to do with the controversy. The whole question turns on whether the responsibility for the sending of this telegram to The Daily Telegraph ought to be thrown on Mr. Layard. After Mr. Layard had been shown this second letter of the right hon. Gentleman by the correspondent of The Times, he mentioned its contents to a gentleman connected with the Embassy. The hon. and learned Gentleman said Mr. Layard sent for this gentleman on the subject. He did not; he merely mentioned it casually. [Mr. EVELYN ASHLEY: I said he sent an attaché to him.] Well, he did nothing of the kind. He mentioned casually to a third person—If you see the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, mention it to him. I do not wish for one moment to conceal or misrepresent anything. The facts are perfectly clear. The hon. and learned Member made a great deal of the word "contents," and he assumed—and this is the gist of the whole charge—that Mr. Layard, in mentioning the "contents" of the letter, mentioned, in fact, the telegram in The Daily Telegraph. If he did not assume that, there is no evidence, for the "contents," so far as Mr. Layard described them, were perfectly innocent. More than that, he acquitted the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) on the spot of having said anything approaching what was stated in the telegram in The Daily TelegraphAs far as I can recollect its substance from a very hasty perusal of it, it was to the effect that as M. Negroponte was not inclined to take his (Mr. Gladstone's) advice that the Greeks should throw their lot in with the Slavs, he had none other to give."—[Turkey, No. 10 (1878), p.1.] That was Mr. Layard's notion of the contents of the letter. What does the whole of the charge come to? You cannot carry it forward, and you cannot connect the statement with the telegram in The Daily Telegraph. I defy you by any means, or or in any way, to connect the statement with the telegram. For what did Mr. Layard say? These are his words— I remember observing to the person who showed it to me that although there was not much in the letter, it might he very mischievous when in such hands, and that it appeared to me that Mr. Gladstone did not understand the true feelings of the two races, which would rather fight than unite."—[Ibid. p. 2.] Here is a statement of Mr. Layard at the very time when, according to the hon. and learned Member, he was concocting some tremendous charge against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich; and Mr. Layard tells everybody around him that he did not consider there was much in the letter, but that in the hands of M. Negroponte it might be used for a very bad purpose. It was quite clear what was running in Mr. Layard's mind. It was this—that, notwithstanding the knowledge and learning of the right hon. Gentleman, he had mistaken the feelings of the two races of Christians in the East. That was the point of the whole of Mr. Layard's observations. What is to be found in the Paper out this evening? I need not defend Mr. Layard on this subject, for he has defended himself. He says— When Mr. Gladstone wrote that I 'made, or caused to he made, anonymously and irresponsibly, through correspondents of newspapers, serious and injurious charges against him, or anyone else, he surely could not have been aware of the facts. All that I have to answer for is that I may, perhaps indiscreetly, have called the attention of a newspaper correspondent to a letter which was already public property. If Mr. Gladstone thinks that I have done Mm an injustice by doing so, I am quite willing to express my regret to him for it."— [Turkey, No. 18 (1878), p. i.] When the hon. and learned Member says there is not one word expressing regret in the Correspondence—


I said the only expression of regret was for having mentioned the fact of the existence of the letter, and not for having communicated the contents.


There is Mr. Layard's whole account of it, and it is not for me to say whether it is discreet or indiscreet. He says himself, "indiscreetly." How can anybody say, after making use of the sentence which I have quoted, that they can read these despatches with regret. Mr. Layard makes as much an amende to the right hon. Gentleman as he possibly can. I think I ought not to sit down without mentioning that although the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich thinks Mr. Layard brought an injurious charge against him in The Daily Telegraph, I think we ought not to forget that the right hon. Gentleman has brought very injurious charges against Mr. Layard. What does Mr. Layard say about that? Mr. Layard says— Mr. Gladstone accuses me of 'having transmitted to the anonymous correspondent of a London journal an injurious accusation against him, which was forwarded by telegraph, and published accordingly. This accusation was that Mr. Gladstone had incited the Greeks to enter into the war between Russia and Turkey, in which his Sovereign was neutral.' There is no foundation whatever for this charge."—[Ibid. p. 1.] As I have said before, the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph sent this telegram entirely on his own authority; and Mr. Layard has over and over again, in this Correspondence, denied that what he desired might be mentioned to the correspondent had anything whatever to do with the telegram afterwards published in the London papers. I do not know that it is necessary for me to say more to the House. I hope I have made it clear what the gist of Mr. Layard's defence is. He has said what he believes to the meaning of the second letter. He has said he believed it to be totally different from the telegram in The Daily Telegraph. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had known that this originally was the impression of Mr. Layard, the whole of this Correspondence would have been avoided. The right hon. Gentleman saw the telegram in The Daily Telegraph, and jumped to the conclusion that the author of it was Mr. Layard. That is evident from the letter which he published afterwards. If he had seen the explanation given by Mr. Layard afterwards, I am quite sure that he would have felt that he had done Mr. Layard a great injustice in saying that he was the circulator of anonymous reports injurious to his character. Mr. Layard did nothing of the kind. On the contrary, there are several expressions of admiration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich in the Correspondence. They are to be found throughout the whole of these Papers; and I do not think it is right for hon. Members when they find expressions of that kind to pass them by and treat them as nothing, or to treat every ex- pression as merely used in self-defence, or construe it into an attack on the right hon. Gentleman. I hope the House will agree with me that there is no cause for expressing any regret at this Correspondence, and that when a charge of this kind is made against an Ambassador that we are bound to listen to what he has to say. When he disclaims, in the fullest way, the interpretation which has been put on his intention, I think the House will do a very unjust thing not to accept his explanation. If there has been made more noise of this than there was any necessity for, it has not been the ftaul of Mr. Layard; but has been the fault of persons who certainly were not very scrupulous in the interpretation which they gave of the letters of the right hon. Gentleman. I hope this discussion will not be carried further than these Papers, that we shall not enter upon any question with regard to the East, and that it will come to a conclusion which is satisfactory to the House and the country.


said, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bourke) had contended that they could not make Mr. Layard responsible for the telegram which appeared in The Daily Telegraph. Now, that was exactly the point; and what were the facts? Mr. Layard was shown the letter by a gentleman in Constantinople. He read it, and formed an opinion on it. He mentioned, not the fact of the letter's existence, but its contents, to a gentleman connected with the Embassy, and said if he saw the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph he might mention the matter to him. The gentleman did see the correspondent, and the result was the telegram which appeared in The Daily Telegraph, and which could not be defended, because it contained a false charge against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. When The Daily Telegraph was asked for its authority, the answer was that the telegram was based on information derived from "a person of consequence in the Embassy." He could not prove that Mr. Layard read The Daily Telegraph; but he must have seen the telegram, and knew the charge it contained, and that he was the person of consequence referred to, and he ought, therefore, at once to have taken means to say that the charge was unfounded; but he took no steps, directly or in- directly, to have the statement withdrawn which was contained in the false telegram. There was more than this. In Mr. Layard's statements there were perpetual little inaccuracies. Mr. Layard, in his last letter, said—"I mentioned the fact of the existence of the letter;" whereas, in reality, as appeared by his own statement earlier, he mentioned its contents. Mr. Layard drew attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had not published the whole of the Correspondence, when he had the means of knowing that there were only two letters, and that one of them had been published. There was no reason why an Ambassador should not be acquainted with newspaper correspondents; but it was no part of his duty to indirectly supply information to them; and it was doubly unbecoming of an Ambassador, after he had been shown a letter respecting which he formed a hasty judgment, to put himself in communication with the correspondent of a newspaper, giving him the opportunity of using its existence, and a knowledge of its contents, so as materially to compromise the position and opinions of a distinguished public man. The essential fact was that Mr. Layard, by the message which he permitted to be communicated to the newspaper correspondent, caused a telegram to be sent to The Daily Telegraph, which contained a false charge, and that he afterwards took no means to have that false statement set right.


said, the hon. and learned Member for Poole (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) in bringing forward his Motion intimated that he did not intend to travel beyond the Correspondence and Papers relating to this question; but he (Lord Elcho) thought that anyone who looked at the question from a rational point of view would see that that assertion had not been adhered to in the debate. Assuming that all the hon. and learned Member said in reference to Mr. Layard was right; assuming that Mr. Layard had acted wrongfully; he was of opinion that the House would do well to remember what was the position which Mr. Layard occupied at the present time—to remember that he was their Ambassador at Constantinople, and that he was now in the midst of complications, perhaps, of the gravest character, with which this country had had to deal, certainly within the last century; and assuming that he had done all the wrong which the hon. and learned Member had endeavoured to show, it appeared to him that the present was not the proper moment to ask the House of Commons to censure our Ambassador at Constantinople. He wished to take the liberty of following a somewhat different course from that which several hon. Members had taken in dealing with the matter; and as regards the question itself, it appeared to him, so far as the charge against Mr. Layard was concerned, that the charge fell to the ground in consequence of the despatch in Paper No. 18, which had just been presented to the House. Assuming that the Ambassador might have acted wrongfully, his (Lord Elcho's) experience of that House was that a man might say almost anything, and commit almost any outrage, if he afterwards came forward, expressed regret, and apologized to the House and to the persons he was supposed to have injured. Such an apology was invariably accepted, and in this despatch he read a distinct and definite apology on the part of Mr. Layard to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), which, if made by a Member of the House to the House and to one of its Members, would undoubtedly be accepted. He should read Mr. Layard's words. In his despatch, dated the 19th of February, Mr. Layard said— When Mr. Gladstone wrote that I 'made or caused to be made, anonymously and irresponsibly, through correspondents of newspapers, serious and injurious charges' against him, or anyone else, he surely could not have been aware of the facts. All that I have to answer for is that I may, perhaps indiscreetly, have called the attention of a newspaper correspondent to a letter which was already public property. If Mr. Gladstone thinks that I have done him an injustice by doing so, I am quite willing to express my regret to him for it."— [Turkey, No. 18 (1878), p. 1.] He repeated that if this had occurred between two Members of that House, and if such an apology as that had been made, the Member to whom it was made would have been bound by the feeling of the House to accept it. He therefore thought that, not only was this Motion ill-timed, even supposing it was founded on just and reasonable grounds, but that this despatch had cut the ground from under the feet of the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced it; and had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich been aware of the despatch, he might have counselled the hon. and learned Member for Poole to refrain from bringing forward his Motion. He regretted himself, having looked at the Correspondence, that Mr. Layard had written those despatches; and he considered at the time that it ought to have been followed up by some such despatch as that which had been laid on the Table of the House. In his opinion, therefore, both sides of the House ought to be satisfied with the course the Ambassador had taken. He was going to travel still further from the record, and that was to say this—that anyone who had observed what had occurred with reference to this Eastern Question during the last two years, commencing in 1876, must have noticed that there had been a most remarkable, and, he thought, as regarded the nation, a hurtful departure from what was called tradition. They had departed from their traditional policy on the Eastern Question; but, with reference to that question, he would say nothing at the present time. They had departed from another traditional course of action. Hitherto it had always been the custom to support rather than throw difficulties in the path of the Government when dealing with the interests of the nation in foreign complicated questions. He thought there had been more or less a departure from that wise tradition. But there was a third departure from tradition, perhaps not less important than the others, and that was the tradition that the servants of the Crown—Foreign Ministers, Consuls, and Ambassadors—were pretty certain that so long as they retained the confidence of those who appointed them or who kept them in office, they would be supported in their endeavours to give effect to the views of the Government and do their duty by the State. But the House must have observed that there had been a departure from that tradition during the past two years. It began with Sir Henry Elliot. He would not say whether, if they had followed the advice of Sir Henry Elliot, they would have found themselves in the position in which they were now placed in regard to this Eastern Question; but there was no denying the fact that it suited partizan purposes—["Oh!"]—to strike at the Government through the body of the Ambassador at Constantinople. It suited partizan purposes to strike at the Government through the Consuls who acted under the Ambassador, endeavouring to do their duty for England and the State. He ventured to say there had been with regard to Sir Henry Elliot, who was driven into resignation—for he was recalled more or less in consequence of this departure from tradition—a policy pursued which could not meet with approval in the House. That policy had been pursued more or less with regard to Mr. Layard, and there had been no man more active in that course than the hon. and learned Member for Poole. He ventured to say that this tradition of the sanctity of foreign Ministers was one which was necessary for the interests of the nation— that no nation could be well served that treated its public servants in the way he had described. If there was one man in the House of Commons more than another who ought not to have taken this course, and sanctioned such a departure from traditions, it was the hon. and learned Member for Poole. Who began the attack against Sir Henry Elliot in 1876? No one else than the hon. and learned Member for Poole; and why did he (Lord Elcho) say that he was the last man who ought to have done so? Simply because the hon. and learned Gentleman was the private secretary and biographer of Lord Palmerston; and if there was one thing more remarkable about Lord Palmerston's Administration than another, it was that he was better served than any other Minister, and on this ground—he always stood by his servants. He always stood by his servants, and if they were attacked, they would be defended by him, whether right or wrong. [Ironical cheers.] Well, there was no doubt on that point; he repeated it—whether they were right or wrong. He hoped that the House would, by not voting on this occasion, maintain a wise tradition with reference to this question of supporting their Ambassadors abroad. He felt strongly on this question; and all that remained for him to do was to apologize to the House for having dealt with it at such length.


said, he thought the Government would do well not to accept the advice of the noble Lord who had just spoken, to support their foreign Representatives whether they were right or wrong. The noble Lord had talked about the sanctity of their foreign Representatives; but surely their foreign Representatives ought to consider this before they attacked other people. He did not wish to follow the noble Lord in his arguments, as it would seem that he had endeavoured to lead the House away to something very different from the question before them. He wished, on the other hand, to confine the attention of the House to the letters in question. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs began by apologizing to the House for not presenting the Paper (No. 18) until that afternoon. But the question was not why was not that Paper in the hands of hon. Members that morning, but why was it not in the hands of hon. Members 10 days ago? The dates proved that the Government had the letter in their possession in the beginning of the month, and no explanation had been given. Why did the Government keep it from the House till 5 o'clock on the day on which the Motion on the subject to which it related was to be brought on? The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated that he had some copies in the House last night, and that he had done his best to distribute them amongst hon. Members who were interested in the question; but it was certainly a most extraordinary thing that he had omitted to give one to the hon. and learned Member for Poole (Mr. Evelyn Ashley), who, as the Mover of the Resolution now before the House, might be, at any rate, supposed to take some interest in the matter. With regard to the Papers themselves, which were said to be an apology, it was observed by the noble Lord that they cut the ground entirely away from the hon. and learned Member for Poole, because they were an ample and complete apology. But he (Mr. Anderson) contended that no apology had been made at all. In Letter No. 10, Mr. Layard, when asked by the Government whether he had any reply to send, said, on the 17th of January— With reference to your telegram of yesterday, I have not thought it necessary to continue controversy with Mr. Gladstone, and am quite willing that Correspondence should he puh-lished."—[Turkey, No. 10 (1878), p. 5.] But what had happened in the meantime? The hon. and learned Member for Poole had asked for Papers, and had given Notice that he would bring the question before the House. That Notice was given on the 12th of February, and he had asked for Papers some four or five days before that. Mr. Layard had ample time to ascertain that the question was to be brought before the House; and after the telegram stating that he did not intend to say anything more upon the subject, and upon gaining knowledge that the matter was to be introduced in the House, he changed his views, and wrote the letter now before them, which some Members said was a frank apology. That letter was no apology at all—it rather aggravated the offence. It was said they would do a great wrong to Mr. Layard if they passed a Vote of Censure on him; but he should have considered this before he did what was wrong. Then the noble Lord opposite (Lord Elcho) said the Motion was out of place at the present time, because the affairs of the country were in a complicated state; but he (Mr. Anderson) would put it to the House whether that argument was to be admitted; for, if so, it might be held that Ambassadors during complicated times might be permitted to do anything that was wrong and escape censure. He did not think that was a theory which the House could support; and he should, therefore, vote with much pleasure for the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Poole if he pressed it to a division.


agreed that they had in the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) one of the most distinguished Members of that House, and one whose reputation must be valued most highly by everyone in the House, on whichever side he sat. On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that the Ambassador, whose conduct was called in question, was one of the most distinguished men of the present day. Mr. Layard once held the position of Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in a Liberal Government, and he owed his promotion to the great office of Ambassador at Madrid to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. Under these circumstances, it was beneath the dignity of the House of Commons to enter into minute criticisms of despatches which related to possibly inadvertent observations made at a public reception. The charge was, in fact, devoid of all substance; but on it was sought to be grounded a grave Vote of Censure against an eminent public servant. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Poole had come forward with a Resolution couched in terms of studied moderation; but in the course of his speech, he had made strong observations with reference to their Ambassador, and he denied the right of the hon. Gentleman to endeavour to obtain votes on the footing that the Resolution was a Resolution of a mild and moderate character. The hon. Member had said that the Motion, if passed, could do Mr. Layard no harm—


I never said that. I said that the language was moderate; but, of course, it would affect the Ambassador.


The language of the Resolution was, as he had said, moderate; but the effect of passing it would be extremely strong, and might inflict upon Mr. Layard a serious, and probably a most grievous wrong. It was unfair to refer to documents of which the Ambassador had no cognizance. Now, what was the foundation of the whole matter? The Ambassador, on the 20th of August last, held a public reception. It was attended, among many others, by the correspondents of several London and Continental newspapers. On that occasion a letter was shown to Layard by the correspondent of The Times, and he perused it hurriedly, and gave his impression of it in the despatch to which reference had been made. Well, now that the original letter had been found and published, it turned out that Mr. Layard's impression of it was substantially right, and that the impression of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich was wrong. The letter was not in French, as the right hon. Gentleman thought, but in English, as Mr. Layard said. That, however, was a small matter; he merely mentioned it to show that no great importance ought to be attached to trifles. The important matter was that Mr. Layard's version of the letter was right; for it said that if M. Negroponte was not inclined to take the advice that the Greeks should throw in their lot with the Slavs, he—the writer—had none other to give. But what happened at the reception? Mr. Layard, having read the letter, which was in possession of one correspondent, authorized his attaché to mention its contents to another. An attempt had been made to fix the responsibility of the telegram which appeared in The Daily Telegraph upon the Ambassador; but they had the important fact that that telegram was not forwarded for a week after the reception. It was impossible, therefore, to refer the telegram to anything that occurred on that occasion. And yet that was the whole charge against Mr. Layard. Again, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, as appeared by his published letter, was under the impression that the letter which Mr. Layard had seen referred to a former letter, of which it was a summary; and he expressed surprise that that letter had not been called for before comments were made on the later letter. As to that, too, the right hon. Gentleman was under a wrong impression. They now knew that a former letter was not referred to. The House would not fail to bear in mind the state of things which existed at the time Mr. Layard saw the letter. It was a time of excitement and of intrigue. A great war had broken out. It was thought that the Turkish Empire was about to be broken up. The Greeks were urging rebellion against the Porte, and numerous interests were conflicting, and various races contending. All these things threw the greatest difficulties in the way of their Ambassador. To ask them to solemnly pronounce censure upon an eminent public servant because of some expressions dropped in a casual way at a public reception, and afterwards exaggerated in transmission to the public, was totally unworthy of the great historic dignity of the House; and he would fain hope that the Resolution of the hon. Member for Poole had no countenance from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, who himself had not thought it necessary to take any steps in the matter. Their Ambassador had in no niggardly manner, but most fully and frankly, offered an apology; and, under those circumstances, it would be pushing personal feeling to too great a length, and would certainly be a strange stretch beyond what was usual in the conduct of a Legislative Assembly, to ask that his apology should be followed by a strong and formal censure. He trusted the House would take into consideration the eminent services of Mr. Layard, the difficulty of the position in which he was placed, and the casual nature of the charge made against him, and that it would refuse the Motion of the hon. Member for Poole.


said, it was a very grave matter, no doubt, to pass a Resolution involving a Vote of Censure on one of Her Majesty's Ambassadors. The question, however, for the House to consider was, whether the conduct of the Ambassador had been such that any Member could defend it. No one opposite had ventured to defend the sending of the information to The Daily Telegraph in the manner in which Mr. Layard had sent it. Not even the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) or the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had attempted to do that; but they had appealed to the right hon. Member for Greenwich by saying—"You are too generous a man to insist on censure of our Ambassador for anything said by him against you." But what right had they to make such an appeal, if they could not defend Mr. Layard, and when they had been told that the Motion was brought forward neither with the concurrence, nor at the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman? The question was, did Mr. Layard send the information that appeared in The Daily Telegraph? Some hon. Members had contended that the first letter had nothing to do with the matter; but he maintained that, looking at the terms of the explanatory despatches, it was clear that the contents of that letter were in Mr. Layard's mind —that the information given to The Daily Telegraph was, in fact, the reflection, in his memory, of its terms. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had said that Mr. Layard was acquainted with any number of correspondents in Constantinople; but, if so, why did Mr. Layard choose The Daily Telegraph as the medium of conveying the information in question? Was it on any other ground but that the matter was so highly spiced as to be fitted for that journal? Was it not to damage the right hon. Gentleman? It had been urged that what Mr. Layard did was not equivalent to sending the news to the paper; but the way to look at it was that the mat- ter was intended to reach The Daily Telegraph, and it did so reach it. If Mr. Layard did not send the information to The Daily Telegraph, why did he not correct it? Why did he leave it uncorrected for so long a time? Why did he delay to make atonement to the man who had been injured until Notice of this Motion had been given? The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire said that he had often heard outrageous things said in the House of Commons by one Member of another; but the moment the Member said he was sorry for the language he had used, the matter dropped. Did Mr. Layard say he was sorry? Did he not, in the very despatch which was called an apology, say something insulting above and below his expressions of regret? Why, also, had that despatch been kept back until 5 o'clock that afternoon? He felt sure there was not a man in the House who did not view with regret "the part taken in this matter by Her Majesty's Ambassador."


said, that if at the time this statement was current, Mr. Layard thought—as he very reasonably might think—that there was some substantial ground for such statement, it thereupon became the Ambassador's clear and bounden duty to report the matter to this country and to his Government at home. He (Mr. Wheel-house) apprehended that there could be no question that when Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople heard of this report, he could not fail to consider it of the greatest moment; and, that being so, it was alike necessary and desirable that inquiry as early as possible should be made into the truth of the allegations. If the House looked fairly at this Correspondence, he imagined— and he thought the House would follow him in the opinion—that there was nothing whatever, from beginning to end, in these letters which really deserved that objurgation to which they had been subjected. If Mr. Layard were in possession of this information, surely it was necessary that he should, without delay, make the substance of it known to this country; and he considered that any Ambassador would have been extremely culpable if, knowing that such a report was actually circulating in the diplomatic circle of Constantinople, in which he was located, he had not immediately taken steps to bring it to the knowledge of his own Home Government. Do not let them enter into circumstances mixing up two matters which seemed to be not only distinguishable, but totally distinct from each other; and more especially was it necessary to avoid connecting the two matters together unfairly. What The Daily Telegraph might have reported to this country or anywhere else was one thing, what Mr. Layard said was another, and by that alone could he be bound; and he (Mr. Wheelhouse) would ask anyone to look at these letters without prejudice, and say whether there was anything in them which ought to render Mr. Layard blameworthy. Had he not done that which it had been stated he had done unwisely and indiscreetly—namely, to have caused an investigation into what he had heard—he would surely have been guilty of a very grievous omission, not to say violation, of his manifest duty. Again, it was said that there was nothing like an apology in this Correspondence from beginning to end. If, however, anyone would take the trouble to look through the letters, they would find, so far from that being the case, that almost the very first statement made by Mr. Layard, after the matter became disputable, was one which ought to be considered sufficient as between gentleman and gentleman; because he says, in effect—"If I have done wrong, I am exceedingly sorry for it." He (Mr. Wheelhouse) did not know how anyone could more adequately conceive or express an apology. Let there be neither misunderstanding nor mincing of matters on a question like this. This was not really an attack upon Mr. Layard personally; it was, in fact, an attack upon Her Majesty's present Administration through Mr. Layard; and, moreover, let the House remember that it was by no means the only attack of the kind. Let them recall the fate of Sir Henry Elliot, to say nothing of some of the smaller officials, and then the House would be fully aware of the facts on which this Motion was in reality founded. If the Gentlemen now occupying the opposite benches had been sitting on this side of the House—the Gentlemen, be it remembered, who, while Mr. Layard was here, were themselves his own friends and political associates, and those to whom Mr. Layard first owed his rise in diplomatic life—he ventured to say the House would have heard nothing whatever of this Motion. There was another point in this case, which to him (Mr. Wheelhouse) was, after all, the very gravest. Why did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich write to M. Negroponte at all? [Laughter.] It might be matter of laughter to hon. Gentlemen opposite; but he asked the question in no spirit of ridicule or of irony—it was one which he would repeat, and it would be asked and repeated pretty widely throughout Europe —he again asked why, on such a subject, at a moment possibly more critical than any other in their previous history, the right hon. Member for Greenwich— an ex-Premier of this country—was in correspondence with M. Negroponte at all? If that question could be fairly and satisfactorily answered, they might learn something more; and it would be fraught with still more especial importance if they could get at that letter, that second letter, which was acknowledged to have been received, as he (Mr. Wheel-house) understood it, by the right hon. Member for Greenwich, but which, somehow or other, now that it was found to be all-important, as tending to elucidate this business, was not apparently forthcoming. He was greatly interested in the character and conduct of any public servant, who, being far away from home when an attack such as this was made upon him, could not defend himself at once; and he could not discover that Mr. Layard had in this instance exceeded his duty. And, so little did he think it, that, if he were not quite aware that this Motion would be satisfactorily disposed of by the mere negative, he should be very much inclined to move an Amendment in the 9th line of the Motion of the hon. Member for Poole, and that would be to substitute for the words "Her Majesty's Ambassador" those of "the Eight honourable the Member for Greenwich," as he believed they would best meet the whole circumstances of this case.


said, it had been remarked that this was a Vote of Censure, and he should be the last to deny that it was. They must first ask themselves whether the transaction they wish to characterize was culpable or praiseworthy. It had been said that it was for the honour of this country to be slow in casting blame upon one of its Representatives in a foreign country. He admitted the force of that plea, but he wished to know whether the character and reputation of the country — he should almost say its peace abroad, and certainly the good-will of other countries —were not likely to be seriously compromised by the assertion that the late Prime Minister had been detected playing the part of an incendiary conspirator, the instigator of insurrection, against one of Her Majesty's Allies. He had in vain hoped that some of the right hon. Gentlemen who sat upon the Treasury bench would have risen in their places and grappled with the question whether the transaction viewed in that light was a scandal to England or not. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had performed the part which had been ascribed to him by the correspondent of a would-be official journal in this metropolis, whose stock-in-trade it was to pretend that he was the semi-official mouthpiece of Mr. Layard—if, indeed, he was not more intimate with the Grand Vizier—it was a question worthy of the notice of the House and of the Government whether the right hon. Gentleman had not been acting in a manner inconsistent with his duty as a Member of this Assembly, and as a citizen of this country. The charge against him was that he, while England was on terms of friendship with the Sultan, endeavoured to foment insurrection in Turkey, and to incite the Greek population to attack the Porte. That was an accusation of the gravest kind to be levelled against one who had filled the position of First Minister of the Crown. He (Mr. Sullivan) should have expected the Government to rise above Party feeling on an occasion like this, and when the character of one of their leading public men was affected to come forward and say that they would not allow the charge to pass uninvestigated and unrefuted. The parties who fabricated and circulated such a charge, the origination of which was traced to the purlieus of the British Embassy at Constantinople, were confederates in a common conspiracy to defame and ruin a public man. He traced the connection between the Ambassador and the correspondent, and between the correspondent and his confederate in the City of London. There appeared in an illustrated paper what were called cartoons of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, in the garb of an assassin, putting a dagger in the hand of a figure representing Greece, with which to stab in the back a noble individual which stood for Turkey. All England ought to have been ashamed if one of its foremost statesmen had been found capable of acting so mean and despicable a part as was attributed to the right hon. Gentleman. Yet such charges were spread throughout the length and breadth of the land by the journal in which those things appeared?—a journal which was supported by the confidence of the ruling Party in this country; although he would not insult those who sat upon the Treasury bench by supposing that they had any complicity with its calumnies on the right hon. Member for Greenwich. After the foul and malevolent libel had done its work at home, there spread a whisper that there was some lurking Polonius behind the arras. The rumour went that he was an influential personage, and investigation came; but did any man, he would ask, believe that the story had not affected England as England in all the capitals of Europe? Were there not men in those capitals to whom it might have occurred that the day might come when they would have Lord Beaconsfield, too, discovered as secretly conspiring against their liberties? But be that as it might, the story was shuffled between The Daily Telegraph and Mr. Layard. The correspondent of that paper, with noble audacity, said he was bound in secret confidence to his distinguished informant. Was that true or false'? Was it the fact that Mr. Layard placed his friend of The Daily Telegraph under the seal and bond of confidence? Did Mr. Layard do that? If so, why? If Mr. Layard was so quick to resent the fancied wrongs of the right hon. Gentleman, why had he not come out and disclaimed any connection with that correspondent? The course Mr. Layard had taken was utterly unworthy the position of an Ambassador of this country. What was his own story? It was like that of Mrs. Grundy, who always circulated gossip about her neighbours "in a casual way." Mr. Layard said to one of his attachés —"If you meet the representative of The Daily Telegraph, tell him the contents of such a letter; "and he was told. How the story read when it appeared in London the House was aware. Yet week after week passed, and there was not a word in the shape of disclaimer from the British Embassy. It was only when the thing was dragged to light that explanation was tendered. He (Mr. Sullivan) would have expected that at the first whisper Mr. Layard would have leapt forward and said the story was calumnious. He considered all this a shabby plot to ruin the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. To whom was the message conveyed? To the representative of a paper which had been long denouncing him in language disgraceful to the age, the representative of a journal which was designating him as a traitor to his Sovereign and his country. He (Mr. Sullivan) had in his time used strong language of public men; but whenever he found out that he had made a wrongful charge, he expressed his regret, and did not hedge it round with such miserable conditions as those which he found in those papers. The Daily Telegraph had, he repeated, designated Mr. Gladstone as a traitor to his country, until he blushed to say they had at last come to witness the spectacle of that right hon. Gentleman's residence having to be guarded by the police. Shame, he called, upon England and Englishmen, when such a thing was possible! What was the nature of the transaction in which Mr. Layard was volved? The Ambassador knew a man who could deal a deadly blow. He was reminded of a scene in Macbeth, where Macbeth sent for a gentleman of the Press, and said— Was it not yesterday we spoke together? This gentleman said— It was, so please your Highness. Macbeth. Well then, now Have you considered of my speeches? Know That it was he, in the times past which held You so under fortune; And thence it is That I to your assistance do make love; Masking the business from the common eye For sundry weighty reasons. And he could imagine the newspaper gentleman saying— I shall, my lord, Perform what you command me; and then going off to the electric telegraph office. The House had been told by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge that, in Mr. Layard's last despatch just laid on the Table of the House, an apology had been given. He (Mr. Sullivan) ventured to say that an apology of that sort, if given in a Court of Law, would only aggravate the damages. After that hypothetical apology had been penned, the end of the letter ought not to have contained a renewed libel, for it ran thus— My view of the duty of an Ambassador is that he should faithfully and fearlessly serve the interests of his Sovereign and of his country. I do not know whether that is the view of Mr. Gladstone. Did he not know it? Had he spoken the truth? Had he been so ignorant? Had the memories of past friendship so perished from his mind, that his recollections of the life and character of the man whom he assailed could not enable him to answer whether that was the view of the right hon. Gentleman? The shadow of Lord Palmerston had been invoked by a noble Lord who had called upon them to vindicate the character of the Ambassador. He would read one sentence of what Lord Palmerston had said when Mr. Layard had been calumniating Lord Hardinge, a great public man. The noble Lord said— When it was proved that the charges made through the hon. Member were utterly false and calumnious, I should have expected that a due regard for himself and the House would have compelled the hon. Member to acknowledge that he had been misled in this matter, and induced him to boar testimony to the high character of the individual whom he has assailed. Now, Mr. Layard was at the same game still, and he needed these words to be said about him to-night, as much as he did then. The violence of Transatlantic politicians was often condemned; but if the high tone which had hitherto distinguished our criticisms upon public men on this side of the ocean were to be exchanged for unscrupulous calumny and personal defamation, no one with any self-respect would be able to serve his country, or mingle in the intercourse and the duties of public life.


said, that he rose with some reluctance; but he felt bound to observe that the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) was not the exponent of the views of all those who sat on that side of the House. The hon. and learned Member asked them all to be above Party in considering this question—to go into the merits of the question, and endeavour to find out who the incendiary was—but it struck him (Dr. O'Leary) that the hon. and learned Member came down to that House prepared with his quotations from Shakspeare and from Lord Palmerston, with the addition of a little modern wit, to support the Resolution. But the hon. and learned Member had raised questions of his own, and had not ventured to give a single argumentative opinion upon the Papers before them. He had indulged in a series of ex parte statements—had spoken of the duty of public servants, and so forth, and then waxed wroth in telling them that they should be above Party. The hon. and learned Member had spoken of the purlieus of the Embassy at Constantinople, and yet he had not given a single fact to show that there was any conspiracy to ruin a public man. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman that he had got an Irish Member who was above Party to come and speak against his countrymen, and against his own Ambassador, in order to sustain the character of the right hon. Member for Greenwich. What were the merits of the case? Let them see what was behind all this? What did it mean? Would a single hon. Member assert that it was not the wish, the hope, and intention of the covert work of the right hon. Member for Greenwich to bring about the state of things referred to as between "the Greeks and the Turks? There was no question about it. Would that be less criminal than the right hon. Gentleman printing and publishing in St. Petersburg, and taking care to have the copy corrected by his own hand, a pamphlet calculated to urge Russia against Turkey, and ultimately succeeding in destroying the peaceful intention of the Russian Emperor? Weighing the merits of the question, and considering the effect of the public acts of the right hon. Gentleman on the negotiations of this country with other countries, he should say they had been of a most damnable character. [Cries of" Oh, oh!"and "Order!"]


The hon. Member has used a most un-Parliamentary expression, and I must beg of him to withdraw it.


said, he meant to use the word damaging. But the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman was not only of a most damaging, but also of a most unpatriotic, character, and he would tell the House why. At the time of the war going on between France and Prussia a Provisional Grant was asked for by the Government, and, without opposition, freely given in that House; and, like patriots who studied the welfare of their country, this Opposition supported the Government, as people loving the Constitution ought to do. At that time, when Prance and Prussia were at war, and there was a danger of this country being involved in war, a small grant of money was asked for. Contrast the action of the Government and Opposition then with what had taken place since! At that time a small meeting was called in Dublin by sympathizers with Prance. What did the then Government do? By their order the meeting was suppressed by the police. The right hon. Member for Greenwich, then at the head of the Government, said—"You must not tie our hands, you must leave us free. The Opposition have joined in giving us this £2,000,000, and you must not attempt to interfere." So much for Irish liberty. The right hon. Gentleman would not allow Irishmen to say a word in support of one of the belligerents; and what had the right hon. Gentleman done in the present case? Then the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) complained that weeks elapsed without the Ambassador pursuing the question of the Greek plot; but surely he had quite sufficient to do to counteract the plots against the peace of this country. But what happened five or six weeks ago? He, as an Irishman, never saw a more unpatriotic proceeding. The Chancellor of the Exchequer read a despatch from Mr. Layard, who was supposed to have our confidence. He was conducting at that moment delicate and difficult proceedings, and in his hands were the honour and well-being of this country. Three hours later a letter from Count Schouvaloff was received with a most unpatriotic cheer from the Opposition side of the House because it branded our Ambassador as a liar. The tactics of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) were not those of the Irish Members, who did not intend to be tied to the Whig benches for ever.


said, it had been remarked several times in the course of that debate—and in that view he believed they would all concur—that it was their bounden duty to do all that lay in their power to support the authority of the Ministers who represented us abroad; and he conceived that if censure were without foundation endeavoured to be cast on such a Minister—if lightly and without a sense of responsibility attacks were made upon him—those who sought to inflict that censure or to make those attacks would themselves receive sure and speedy condemnation from public opinion. But, on the other hand, it would surely be correct to say that the best way to support English Representatives in foreign countries would be to show that, if their conduct was not such as could generally be approved by English gentlemen, the House of' Commons did not shrink from expressing its opinion on that conduct. And it was because he held that there was a grave matter involved in Mr. Layard's conduct which would not receive the approval of English gentlemen that he thought the House and the country would be losing character if, by their silence, they gave to that conduct their tacit sanction or treated it as involving nothing that was worthy of criticism. It was with that feeling of responsibility that every person who criticized Mr. Layard's conduct was bound to approach the question. It might not be a loss of time to discuss, in the first place, what was Mr. Layard's duty in the position in which he was placed. He was the Representative of this country at a foreign Court at a time when, from many reasons, the position was a difficult one. Surely a Minister so situated ought to have made it his chief care to remove himself from all considerations of Party politics, and to keep himself above all suspicion that he had in view anything but the interests of his country as a whole? It had been said that another duty was cast upon him, and this was a small matter— namely, to be in constant communication with the representatives of the public journals of this country. There might be some differences of opinion on that point. If that was really his duty, surely it ought to have been performed impartially in relation to all journals alike, and in a manner entirely free from Party bias. Now, it appeared that certain communications were made to Mr. Layard, as to which he might have taken several different views. He might have thought they conveyed grave charges against the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). If anything communicated to him by his first informant, M. Negroponte, was believed by him, and he really accepted the statements that the right hon. Member for Greenwich was engaged in an endeavour to stir up the Greek subjects of the Porte to revolt, Mr. Layard's first duty was to have investigated their truth. If he had had reason to believe them, he would have felt that one of the most influential of our statesmen was playing a part which no Englishman ought to play; and it would have been Mr. Layard's duty, as was remarked by the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse), to communicate with his Government on the subject. It was incumbent on him, if he thought there was a shadow of truth in the accusation, to tell those whom he represented that a distinguished statesman, still one of Her Majesty's Privy Councillors and Advisers, was violating his duty alike to his Sovereign and to his country, and was secretly plotting to produce war and revolution in a foreign State. Mr. Layard, however, never could have believed that there was a shadow of foundation for that charge, or, if he did believe it, had he fulfilled his primary duty of communicating it to the Foreign Secretary? Had he not become a party by his silence to the plot and intrigue imputed to the right hon. Member for Greenwich? It was clear that Mr. Layard never for a moment credited the charge; because, from first to last, not one word on the subject had been communicated to the Foreign Office, and Mr. Layard had maintained a discreet silence regarding it. There was a second course which he might have taken. If he had believed, as he stated in his despatch, that the letter to M. Negroponte was a harmless letter, but that it might be misunderstood, would it not have been well for Mr. Layard to have communicated with the most distinguished statesman for whom he said he had feelings of the greatest respect and regard, to have told him that an innocent letter of his was being misused and misapplied, against his wish, so as to stir up insurrection and produce bloodshed, and to have prayed him to withdraw that letter and make his intention quite clear? Unfortunately for the reputation of our Foreign Minister, unfortunately for the reputation of English public men, Mr. Layard took another course. Having read hastily a letter which he was told was a private letter, and of which he was not allowed to take a copy, he addressed himself to the good offices of one of those who were attached to the Embassy, and told that gentleman that if he saw the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph he could mention the contents of that letter to him. For what purpose? Did a sense of duty urge him? Was that the most convenient way of communicating with Her Majesty's Government? It was an inconvenient way of communicating with Her Majesty's Government, to send one of those gentlemen whose assistance he had, by word of mouth to tell somebody else that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had incited rebellion. He quite admitted that if the matter stood there—if Mr. Layard had simply told an attaché of the Embassy if he saw somebody to tell another person to tell the correspondent that the contents of the letter were such as they appeared to him after a hasty perusal, Mr. Layard would not have had brought home to him responsibility for the phraseology which the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph thought proper to use. The Under Secretary' for Foreign Affairs said that Mr. Layard was in no way responsible for the telegram sent by the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph. But if he was in any way responsible for it, he (Sir Henry James) understood the hon. Gentleman to admit that Mr. Layard merited our disapproval. But now, in a very few words, let them see upon what ground it was that Mr. Layard was in some way responsible for the telegram. The correspondent of The Daily Telegraph thought right to make a very specific charge. He (Sir Henry James) was sorry even for a moment to appear indirectly to be casting censure upon a newspaper. The Daily Telegraph was not upon its trial there. It was scarcely compatible with the dignity of the House that they should be discussing in any sense what a journal chose to write unless some question affecting the Privi- leges of the House was before them. But while they had very little to do with The Daily Telegraph, unfortunately Mr. Layard had a great deal to do with it, and they were bound to consider the matter in all its bearings. On the strength of the information which Mr. Layard had favoured him, the correspondent made against the right hon. Member for Greenwich the serious charge that he had urged the Greeks to attack the Turks—that was to say, had incited a foreign people to rebellion. No charge could be more specific. Mr. Layard had since said that he read the telegram with great surprise, and well he might have done so. But although Mr. Layard knew that the statements were bitterly untrue, and that his chosen agent had falsified the information which had been imparted to him, he stood silently by, making not the slightest protest, although he was perfectly aware that the reputation of a distinguished statesman was imperilled. He asked no undue consideration for the right hon. Member for Greenwich; the humblest Englishman was entitled to protection at the hands of the Ambassador under such circumstances; and, considering that Mr. Layard was himself responsible for having set the charge in motion, when he saw that the contents of an innocent letter had been falsified, his duty was to have at once uttered an emphatic protest. Could it be said that Mr. Layard was in no way responsible for the statement in The Daily Telegraph? He thought not. Mr. Layard might not have been responsible for the phraseology of the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, but he was responsible for the fact that the charge was made at all. When the person set in motion exceeded the truth, was it not a duty which Mr. Layard owed to everyone in this country who valued its character, and, above all, the character of its public men, to deny that the charge could be supported, and to lay bare the libel which he knew had been made? Mr. Layard's attention was called to this matter in a way which he (Sir Henry James) thought must be painful to all of us who would, if we could, see the character of Representatives of the English nation supported. He was very unwilling to critizize the character of a newspaper there, and he certainly did not wish to state anything on the authority of a newspaper which, in justice to Mr. Layard, ought not to be done. When this charge appeared, his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich not unnaturally asked on what authority it had been made? It turned out that the correspondent was then shut up in some Turkish fortress; and when he returned to Constantinople, the proprietors of the journal felt it their duty to demand on what authority he had forwarded the intelligence complained of? The editorial statement of The Daily Telegraph was that their correspondent had applied to eminent diplomatic authorities for leave to state from whom the information had been received; but that he had been placed under the seal of confidence, and therefore he was unable to give up the name of the author of the information. This, therefore, was what Mr. Layard had done—he had given the information upon which the telegram was founded, and then he had forbidden the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph to refer to him as the author of it. But it was said that Mr. Layard was not responsible for the telegram itself. Why, he had not only read it and had stood by without seeking to contradict it, but he had actually placed the seal of confidence upon the person sending it—and thus it stood, that the English Ambassador at Constantinople, who had been sent there to support not only British interests, but British honour, had not openly but secretly made a communication which had been published, not in the way of information, but for the purpose of attacking the right hon. Gentleman, and who had stood by when he found that the weapon he himself had supplied had been connected with the dagger of the assassin; and it was only when he had been threatened to be dragged to the bar of public opinion that he had come from behind the curtain which had concealed him. His endeavour to secrete himself had failed, because it was the fact that before the 22nd of October he had become aware that the right hon. Gentleman specially charged him with being the informant in the case. He would next call attention to the apology contained in the despatch published this afternoon, and the manner in which he apologized; for, in his opinion, that very despatch contained additional false evidence against the right hon. Gentleman. The Ambassador know he had never heard of any letter save two; and yet, in the letter of October 29, he said that Mr. Gladstone had published his first letter in French to M. Negro-ponte, and not the one in English shown to Mr. Layard, nor any others that might have passed between them. This was a suggestion that there were other letters which Mr. Gladstone was intentionally keeping back. And he went on to say— I am aware that M. Negroponte has transmitted to Mr. Gladstone either the original or copies of all the correspondence, but he has not thought fit to publish them. That statement was totally devoid of accuracy. No such letters had ever been transmitted, for the right hon. Gentleman would only have been too glad to obtain and publish them. But Mr. Layard, after having made these statements on the authority of M. Negroponte, informed Her Majesty's Government that that gentleman had been guilty of gross falsehoods, and that it was impossible to rely upon what he said. But was it right that an English Ambassador should make statements of this kind respecting an English public man upon the authority of persons who could not be believed? Some hon. Members opposite differed strongly from the political views of the right hon. Gentleman, and disapproved the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman put forward his opinions; but that was all the greater reason why they would refrain from wounding him secretly. Political opponents should be met at the proper time by open argument; and he was satisfied that there was not one of the hon. Members opposite who would vote to-night in favour of the proposition that the conduct of Mr. Layard was worthy of approval who would not have shrunk from adopting the course he had done in this matter. It seemed to be generally admitted that Mr. Layard had been guilty of indiscretion, and what the House differed about seemed to be the censure that should be employed. If they could have come to the conclusion that an apology had been made, there would have been no one who would not have gladly escaped from the discussion. But to whom should the apology have been made? How was it, if the Government regarded the despatch as a complete and ample apology, that it had remained unpublished from the 1st of March until to-day, and how was it that it had never yet been forwarded to the right hon. Member for Geeenwich? Was it not the duty of the Foreign Office to have communicated Mr. Layard's letter to Mr. Gladstone, although it might have been good taste to keep it back? Of course, Mr. Layard was willing to admit that which he could not deny, and he apologized if he had been indiscreet in communicating with the correspondent; but in every other line of the letter he reiterated his attacks, and made assertions every one of which could be proved to be inaccurate. Towards the close of the letter, in order to qualify the apology, he charged the right hon. Gentleman with disingenuousness in saying what might suggest that his Correspondence with M. Negroponte occurred while the Conference was sitting at Constantinople, whereas the second letter was written in July, during the progress of the Servian War, and in the hands of M. Negroponte might be used to drag the Greeks into the war. That might or might not be a well-founded opinion, but these were not words of apology. An apology should be free from the reiteration of offensive matter; but Mr. Layard suggested a new charge. He stated that his view of the duty of an Ambassador was that he was to serve the interests of his Sovereign and his country, and not those of factions or individuals. And this was a letter of apology. A letter containing this statement was to be accepted by the right hon. Gentleman as an apology, and he was to be satisfied. Whatever might be the views of the right hon. Gentleman, it was the view of his political Friends, and must be that of every independent man, that conduct such as this could be met only in one way. Some hon. Members had found fault with the absence of the right hon. Gentleman— that distinguished statesman whom Mr. Layard so "esteems and respects;" but he, for one, must confess that he did not think it unbecoming that the right hon. Gentleman should not be present to take part in the Councils of his personal and his political Friends in reference to this debate. What he contended was that, when attacks had been made upon a man persistently, and when the calumnies cast upon him had been disproved, an unqualified and unconditional acknowledgment should be made. In this instance, such an acknowledg- ment had not been placed before the House; and he trusted that, in support of that authority which was now being attacked, and for the maintenance of English honour—which could rest only upon the basis of high-class and straightforward and open conduct—the House would not shrink from performing the duty, painful and responsible though it might be, of refusing its approval to the conduct of the British Ambassador at Constantinople.


Sir, before any commentary is made on the qualified nature of the apology contained in the Papers, we ought, I think, to ascertain what is the accusation made against Mr. Layard; because a gentleman may take this view of what he has done. He may say—"I have acted to the best of my judgment, and have not been guilty of any intentional wrong. I may have been guilty of imprudence in acting upon what others told me: and if I have caused any wrong to anybody in that way, I am sorry for it." But if, on the other hand, it is charged against him that he has been guilty, not of imprudence, but of a foul plot, deliberately planned to crush a man with whom be is at political variance, then I can understand him saying—"I have no apology to offer." But it is not candid to criticize a document which deals with both those views as if it dealt with one only. Now, I should like to know what is the view of hon. Members opposite? The hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) has, in the plainest and freest language, described Mr. Layard as a conspirator—as one who had entered into a deliberate conspiracy to slander a public man, whom to slander in this case would be peculiarly base. [Cheers.] I accept that assent to what I have said; but I want to know what evidence there is that Mr. Layard has been guilty of conspiracy? What is the evidence of so foul a charge? I am surprised to hear hon. Members—hon. and learned Members who, by very reason of their Profession, ought to take care that a charge is well established before it is preferred — making grave accusations of this sort. As far as I see, the charge is of an alternative character —either that Mr. Layard was extremely careless or very wicked. That is the ground on which we are to proceed. Are we to accept Mr. Layard's statement, founded upon facts within his own know-lodge, or are we not? ["No, no!"] Some Gentlemen say "No, no;" but I am willing to believe that the great majority of hon. Gentlemen opposite would shrink from attributing to an English gentleman that he was guilty of absolute falsehood without any particular evidence of the fact. Mr. Layard has given a statement of what occurred in his own presence and within his own knowledge. Is that statement to be accepted as true? If so, it comes to this— that Mr. Layard had a statement made to him by a Greek gentleman that the time had come when there ought to be a rising of Greece against Turkey. The explanation of Mr. Layard is, that on August 20, a correspondent of The Times produced a letter from Mr. Gladstone to M. Negroponte, which he told him he might mention to another correspondent, but of which he was not allowed to take a copy. The commentary of the hon. and learned Member upon that is that he looked at a private letter.


I said that it was in this sense a private letter, that he was not allowed to make a copy of it.


I believe the hon. and learned Gentleman has very accurately repeated what he said at first; but I am unable to understand such mixed-up arguments. I want to know what is the accusation founded on that? Was it wrong for Mr. Layard to look at it? Hon. Members seem to forget that they are discussing the conduct of a Gentleman who is not only not in the House to defend himself, but not near at hand to give explanations of casual expressions in his letter. They ought to remember, when they are asked to do justice to the right hon. Member for Greenwich, that Mr. Layard has not the same means of explanation which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich has. What was Mr. Layard's explanation? He says— I remember observing to the person who showed it to me that, although there was not much in the letter, it might he very mischievous when in such hands…The letter was shown to me under no pledge of secrecy. So far from such being the case, it seemed to me, as it was in the hands of a newspaper correspondent, to be public property. It was, I know, shown to my Italian and Greek Colleagues, and I have every reason to believe to many other persons. I mentioned its contents to a person connected with the Embassy, adding that if he saw the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph he could mention it to him. [Cheers.] He would venture to say that from the commencement to the close of the Correspondence, that sentence which hon. Members cheered was the only one on which this superstructure of accusation against Mr. Layard could be raised. The hon. learned Member for Louth spoke of assassins hired to stab the character of an enemy; but I would ask the hon. and learned Member if he has ever seen or comprehended the proceedings of a court of justice, or thought of the kind of evidence which would be required to support an accusation of such heinous enormity against a gentleman against whom, to say the least, no such charge as that of being a co-conspirator has ever previously been made. What I maintain is, that it is all very well for the hon. and learned Member for Louth to indulge in smartly-turned sentences like this; but, if it means anything, it means this—that Mr. Layard intended and directed the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph to write an accusation and publish it in this country, which accusation Mr. Layard knew to be untrue, for the purpose of injuring the right hon. Member for Greenwich. [Cheers.] I recognize the fact that this is not a sentiment which will be generally cheered on that side of the House. With what force can an accusation of that sort be made upon such materials as have been relied upon to justify it? What ground has Mr. Layard given in his past life or conduct to lead anyone to suppose that now he could be capable of conduct which would render him unfit not only to be a British Ambassador, but would disentitle him to be admitted a member of society? I do not hesitate to say that any one of the meanest criminals whom we see at the bars of our courts would be less morally guilty than a gentleman who, in Mr. Layard's position, could act in the manner so characterized by the hon. and learned Member for Louth. I feel some degree of difficulty in controlling the words proper to apply to such an accusation. The hon. and learned Member for Taunton, referring to the sentence in Mr. Layard's letter— I mentioned its contents to a gentleman connected with the Embassy, adding that if he saw the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph he could mention it to him; —on that ground, and on that ground alone, attributes to Mr. Layard the responsibility for the telegram which was sent to this country. But what did Mr. Layard say on this subject, and what he said remained uncontradicted? He said— The correspondent took time to inquire into the matter, and, having satisfied himself that a Correspondence was going on between Mr. Gladstone and M. Negroponte, and that the Greeks were under the impression that Mr. Gladstone had been stirring them up' to unite with the Slavs to attack the Turks, he telegraphed to that effect on Monday, the 27th of August, and his telegram was published on the following day. So that Mr. Layard expressly attributes the telegram to the inquiries which the correspondent had made independent entirely of this communication; and yet the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite assumes that the telegram was altogether the consequence of that communication, and then, as a corollary, that Mr. Layard had placed the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph under a seal of secrecy that he was not to disclose his informant. In the first place, I say, a candid reading of the despatches disposes of this assumption; and, secondly, that my hon. and learned Friend (Sir Henry James) has failed to point out a single instance in which either the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph or Mr. Layard admitted any such confidence between them. The whole case that has been put forward against Mr. Layard depends upon assumptions which are negatived by the despatches. I hope and believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite will not take the view that Mr. Layard is a conspirator. Mr. Layard must be the most uncandid person in the world if he sheltered himself behind such a veil of secrecy. Now what said Mr. Layard in this Correspondence on that subject. He says— My sole imprudence, if imprudence it was, was that communication. I utterly deny that I have been a party to any attack on the character of Mr. Gladstone. The hon. and learned Member for Poole (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) started the discussion by asking if it was a part of the duty of an Ambassador of this country to lend the weight and authority of his position for the purpose of crushing a public man? That observation, if relevant at all—and I suppose it was intended to be made so—conveys the impression that that was what Mr. Layard was doing. Mr. Layard denied the insinuation against him, in the form in which an English gentleman would do so, and he naturally assumed that his denial would be sufficient. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had published an attack in by no means measured terms upon Mr. Layard; and, in considering the tone of his last despatch, it should be remembered that he was defending himself against the particular imputation which he, good, innocent man, thought was disposed of, when he pledged his honour as a gentleman that he had nothing to do with the telegram to The Daily Telegraph. Notwithstanding some extreme minds, who without evidence are willing to accept the gravest accusations, I believe the great majority of English gentlemen will recognize the fact that when Mr. Layard had pledged his honour to a statement, it should be accepted as true; when he said— I am extremely sorry if any imprudence of mine has led to any unfounded or unjust attack on one with whom I have long been on terms of political intimacy; but he went on to say that his general conduct had been attacked, and that a British Minister ought not to be browbeaten and made the victim of a faction either in England or elsewhere—but he would firmly and courageously do his duty undeterred by any attack which might be made upon him, however eminent the source from which they came. These words were described as an additional insult; but they were written by Mr. Layard in defence of his conduct, which, without reference to this particular issue, had been violently attacked by the right hon. Member for Greenwich and others. I believe the great body of his countrymen will echo and recognize the fact that Mr. Layard in this respect has acted as becomes an Englishman.


Sir, this question has been discussed at considerable length and with great ability, although I must say I am unable to congratulate the Government upon either the amount or character of the unofficial support they have received during the debate. I am sure the House will not expect me to follow minutely the speech which has just been delivered by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General. Qualified as he is by the Profession of which he is an ornament to go with effect into minute details, I feel I shall not do justice to the case which has been so ably argued by my hon. and learned Friends the Members for Poole and Taunton if I were to enter into any legal argument; but there is one observation I wish to make with regard to the whole of the speech we have just heard. It appeared to me that the hon. and learned Gentleman, finding some difficulty in meeting the charge brought against Mr. Layard, and the speeches by which it has been supported, has thought it necessary and easier to defend Mr. Layard against charges which are not brought forward, or, which, at all events, have not been generally brought forward by hon. Members on this side of the House. I believe in the warmth of debate the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) did, in the course of his able speech, say something about a conspiracy, which probably the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite thought would apply to Mr. Layard. What I wish to point out is that the charge made in this Resolution by the hon. and learned Member for Taunton, and generally on this side of the House, is nothing of the kind, and there is no imputation whatever that Mr. Layard deliberately entered into a conspiracy to injure my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich. What charge actually is made, I will, by the permission of the House, state by-and-by. With reference to what fell from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I am quite willing to admit and at once, that the Motion which has been made, and which it is my intention to support, is a Vote of Censure on Mr. Layard, and the course which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Poole (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) took in moving that Vote of Censure is one which requires no apologies. It was a course which it was his duty to take if he brought forward this question at all. I do not think that my hon. and learned Friend would have done his duty if he had called attention to these Papers, and had not said he would invite the House to pass judgment on the conduct of Mr. Layard. Both Mr. Layard and the Government would have had cause of complaint if he had adopted any other course. It was the only course possible. The Under Secretary of State said—and I very much agree with him— that, although there is some complication about some parts of the matter, the whole thing really lies in a nutshell; and he stated that his defence of Mr. Layard was grounded solely on the basis that Mr. Layard denied his responsibility for the telegrams sent to The Daily Telegraph. Just let us see how the matter stands. There can be no doubt that Mr. Layard had some responsibility with that telegram, because he acknowledges a message sent to the correspondent of that paper, which called the attention of that correspondent to the matter, and on which, to a certain extent, the telegram was founded; but I quite admit that that message contained no foundation for the monstrous telegram forwarded by the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph. But what we have to consider is whether what took place subsequently did not impose some responsibility upon Mr. Layard. As was pointed out by my hon. and learned Friend, one would have thought that Mr. Layard would have felt some responsibility, when a copy of The Daily Telegraph containing the assertion of the correspondent reached him. He must have known that the letters of the Correspondence to which that message referred were the letters to which he had called the correspondent's attention; and it must have caused some astonishment in his mind that so monstrous a misstatement had been made, and that it should be based upon evidence so slight as that which he knew to exist. One would have thought he would have considered it necessary to take some action. What happened afterwards? In the letters of M. Negroponte to The Times, and the editorial explanations of The Daily Telegraph, Mr. Layard must have known he was directly indicated and charged with being the origin of the statement which was put forward. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER dissented.] I see the Chancellor of the Exchequer appears to dissent, and I may have used the expression not strictly accurate when I said "directly indicated and charged;" but if he was not directly, he was indirectly charged, in a manner which must have been perfectly clear and unmistakeable to himself, with being the person on whose authority that telegram was, in the first instance, sent; but, notwithstanding that, Mr. Layard does not seem to have considered it necessary to take any action in the matter except that which we have before us. We know what explanation Mr. Layard has thought it necessary to make. What the House has to consider, without debating whether Mr. Layard is engaged in a conspiracy with the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph —which, for my part, I do not for one moment conceive possible—is whether, looking at the unfortunate indiscretion into which he was in the first instance betrayed, he has made that apology and that reparation to the character of my right hon. Friend which he is bound in duty and in honour to make. I do not think it was enough for him to make a statement showing that his connection with the affair was not a very great or a very close one. He cannot deny—he does not attempt to deny—that he had something to do with it. He cannot deny that upon further explanation he was satisfied that there was no foundation whatever for the charge which was brought against my right hon. Friend. What is the course which would have been taken by almost everyone in this House under those circumstances? He would have stated, as he has done frankly, what part he took in the matter; but he would have gone on to say that he was now satisfied by the publication of the whole Correspondence that there was not a shadow of foundation for the charge against my right hon. Friend, and that he deeply regretted having been implicated in any manner and to any extent with the giving of information which had led to the publication of such a baseless and totally unfounded charge. I regret the part which has been taken by Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, and that he has not thought it necessary to take the course which would have been obvious to most gentlemen. On the contrary, though not in the least degree supporting the charge which has been brought against my right hon. Friend, he argues and fences, and asks for the Correspondence, and thinks there is still behind some Corre- spondence which may make the charge not so very improbable; and even in his last statement, which we are to take as an ample apology, Mr. Layard cannot refrain from returning to the charge. He says— As regards the effect which that letter, in the hands of M. Negroponte, was calculated to produce, I will leave those who have studied its terms, and those who know this country, to judge."—[Turkey, No. 18 (1878), p. 2.] That is contained in the letter which is represented to us now as a sufficient letter of retractation and apology. True, he says there is no foundation for the charges of the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph; but he adds that he cannot help thinking that this Correspondence was a very objectionable Correspondence, and those who are acquainted with the country know what its effect might have been. What has been the conduct of the Government in this matter? Have they expressed the smallest disapprobation of Mr. Layard's conduct? If, in the course of this debate, any Representative of Her Majesty's Government had come forward to say that they regretted the course he had taken, and they thought a more ample apology should have been made, and that they would take steps to recommend Mr. Layard to make that more ample apology, I should have been disposed to advise my hon. and learned Friend to ask for permission to withdraw his Motion; but no such statement has been made. The Government have not expressed the smallest disapprobation of the conduct of Mr. Layard. On the contrary, that conduct has been defended in every respect by Members of Her Majesty's Government who have spoken; and I think, before we go to a division, we have a right to ask the Government to say whether, in the first place, they think that it is conduct befitting Her Majesty's Representative to hold this sort of communication with a representative of the Press—communication, let it be remembered, not as to facts that it may be desirable should be made known—communication, not with the representatives of the Press generally, but with one organ —communication, not as to facts, but as to rumours and surmises and imputations founded upon letters which, as Mr. Layard himself admitted, did not seem to be of importance, but upon which a charge might be made damaging to a political opponent—I ask whether, in the opinion of the Government, that is conduct befitting and worthy of the Representative of Her Majesty at Constantinople? In the next place, if they approve of such communications as these passing between the Ambassador and a representative of the Press, I ask them whether they approve of Mr. Layard's conduct since the utter want of foundation for the charge which was brought against my right hon. Friend, partly at the instigation of Mr. Layard, was made known—I ask them whether they consider that the reparation which Mr. Layard has made is ample and sufficient? In the absence of such an explanation, I cannot do otherwise than advise my hon. and learned Friend to go to a division, in which I shall join him most cordially.


I confess that the speech of the noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) goes a very little way indeed to remove the difficulty under which we have laboured throughout the whole course of this debate—I mean the difficulty of knowing what the precise charge is which is to be made against Mr. Layard, having regard to the particular words used in the Motion in reference to an expression of regret for the conduct referred to on the part of Her Majesty's Ambassador. Everybody knows perfectly well that the force of language of that kind depends on the meaning attached to the words used, and that for the House of Commons or the Houses of Parliament to express regret with regard to the conduct of an important person like the Representative of Her Majesty at a foreign Court is a very serious thing indeed. It is a very serious step to be taken, under any circumstances; but it may be more or less serious, according to the meaning that is attached to it. Now, if the meaning that is attached to the phrase we are asked to accept were the meaning given to it by the noble Lord, though it would be one we could not possibly agree to accept, and, though it would be one which we should feel would be injurious to the position of, and unfair to, our Ambassador at Constantinople, still it would amount to very little more than this—that it was intended to express the opinion of this House, that, in a certain matter, our Ambassador had not been quite as discreet as he should have been, and that the apology, or expression of regret, offered for the consequences of that indiscretion, had not been as ample and as well-worded as, in the opinion of some persons, it should have been. It would have been impossible for us to accept that, because we do no not think it would be justified; yet it would be very different to the meaning attached to these same words by many hon. Gentlemen who have taken part in this debate, either by speech, or still more, by the expression of their opinion in another and more noisy way. What other Gentlemen charge Her Majesty's Ambassador with is, not that he was merely guilty of an indiscreet action, or of using a few indiscreet words, and not with having failed to express his regret for the consequences of that indiscretion in language which they think sufficient; but they charge him with a wicked and deliberate conspiracy to crush, as was said by the hon. Mover of the Motion—from whom, and not from the noble Lord, we must take the meaning attached to it — to crush a distinguished statesman in this country by the use of his position and his influence as Ambassador at Constantinople. That charge has become still more serious when it is enforced by the eloquent and heated language of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), who used language which it has been said might have passed in the heat of debate; but which was of a peculiar character for language to be used in the heat of debate, because it comprised elaborate quotations from Shakspeare and from Hansard of many years ago. Therefore, the heat must have been of some standing. Now, what I want to point out to the House is, that they should consider what the effect of their accepting this [Resolution would be upon the position and character of our Ambassador. I want them to consider what would be the effect to-morrow morning, over England and over all the world, if after such a debate, and after such charges as these, the House of Commons agreed to pass a Resolution of this character. Everybody must see that it would be consequences of the most serious character. Well, then, we ask—and I must decline to go into the minor ques- tion raised by the noble Lord, because I am bound to address myself to the more serious charge made by a considerable number of hon. Gentlemen in this House—we ask on what foundation is it that you prefer this charge against Her Majesty's Ambassador? I have observed, and I have observed with regret, that hon. Gentlemen who are so loud in calling for fair play, and in denouncing everything which, they say, is at all calculated to prejudice the position of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich—I have observed that these hon. Gentlemen, when an attempt was made to argue the question upon its merits, and to ask what is the evidence on which the serious charge you make rests, met such attempts as were made with impatience and unwillingness to listen to the arguments addressed to them. My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General (Sir Hardinge Giffard) was quite right, and was bound to take the course he did. He was speaking in behalf of a Representative of Her Majesty, who was, as it wore, on his trial in this House, and against whom an indictment of a very serious character had been preferred. He asked—"On what evidence does it rest?" When, however, he attempted to analyze the evidence, and to show that it was insufficient to bear out any charge of the kind, he was, I am sorry to say, met with interruption which seemed to imply that he was endeavouring to evade the question at issue. He endeavoured to pin hon. Gentlemen opposite to a precise and definite charge. We are ready to accept the issue, fairly raised. My hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, at the very beginning of the debate— indeed, in the first speech delivered in answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ashley)—put the case in a single sentence. He said the whole ease, as we understand it, rests on this—it rests on the supposed connection of Mr. Layard with the telegram of The Daily Telegraph, and he said—"Mr. Layard is not responsible for the telegram that was sent to The Daily Telegraph." Well, around that assertion and defence which have been made by my hon. and learned Friend, there has grown up a large amount of discussion which has ranged over a very wide area. But after all, it is the point to which we must come back, and we must inquire how far, and to what extent, if to any extent, Mr. Layard is responsible for that telegram. If hon. Gentlemen wish to do justice to Mr. Layard, as I cannot doubt they really do in their calmer moments, they must consider one or two things which have hardly been sufficiently noticed in this debate. They must consider what the circumstances were at the time that the conversation took place to which reference has been made—I mean the conversation at which the letter of Mr. Gladstone was shown to Mr. Layard. They must remember that it took place at Constantinople at a time when a very serious war was going on, and when efforts were being made in Constantinople by persons who may have been justified, from their own point of view, in what they were doing—when very serious efforts were being made to induce the Greek people to rise and to join in the struggle going on between the Turks and the Slavs. M. Negroponte was one of those who were particularly active in promoting that line of conduct. I say nothing against him for taking that line of conduct if he thought it right; but it was not the policy of Her Majesty's Government to encourage anything of the sort. On the contrary, Mr. Layard, acting in accordance with the Instructions he had received, was discouraging these attempts, and it appears that M. Negroponte had more than once been in communication with him, and had endeavoured to persuade Mr. Layard to take a different line, and to advocate the joining of the Greeks with the Slavs. Mr. Layard had urged that that was not the right course to take, and M. Negroponte had come forward and had told him that though he (Mr. Layard) dissented from it, Mr. Gladstone had. taken a different view, and was of opinion that the time had come for the Greeks to unite with the Slavs and to throw off the Turkish yoke. Further, M. Negroponte stated that he had received a letter from my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich to that effect. Then, besides these communications going on with M. Negroponte himself, it appears there were other persons speaking in the same sense, for Mr. Layard proceeds to say— I subsequently heard from several persons, amongst them my Greek colleague"— that was rather an important person, and would naturally take much interest in what was going on— that a Correspondence was going on between M. Negroponte and Mr. Gladstone, who had expressed himself in favour of a Greek rising."—[Turkey, No. 10, (1878), p. 1.] He then goes on to state that there were other persons who had been so informed, and he refers to a letter published in The Pall Mall Gazette of the 15th of September. He says— The author of which, a well-known publicist in this capital, had. been informed by M. Negroponte of his Correspondence with Mr. Gladstone apparently towards the end of July."—[Ibid.] All these things had been brought to Mr. Layard's notice, and it was pressed on him from more quarters than one, two, or three, that there was a Correspondence of this kind going on between my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and M. Negroponte. In the middle of the communications, at a reception at Mr. Layard's house, a gentleman likely to be well-informed—namely, the correspondent of The Times newspaper—thought it right and desirable to show to Mr. Layard, and to put into his hands, a letter from my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich. That letter contained this expression, which I think we ought to bear in mind injustice to Mr. Layard— I sought only to insist on the policy and duty of treating the Christian cause as one in the face of the Ottoman power and influence, and of adjourning to a future day the settlement of an inter-Christian Conference. That was a perfectly innocent and legitimate statement for my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich to make; but what struck Mr. Layard the moment he saw it was that it was made to M. Negroponte, who was at the head of a revolutionary movement, and who was going about and making use of the great name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich in order to persuade people that this idea of the Greeks joining the Slavs was not an unsupported idea of his own, but had the sanction of one of the greatest statesmen in England. It occurred to Mr. Layard that such a letter in the hands of a man who might make a bad use of it was a dangerous thing, and that although there was not much in the let- ter, it might be very mischievous when in such hands. Under these circumstances, he returns the letter, of course, and then he did that upon which the charge rests—that is to say, he told a member of the Embassy that if he saw the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, he might inform him of it. In regard to this letter, it should be borne in mind that the knowledge of its existence was not confined to Mr. Layard, because it was known to several other persons, and, amongst others, to his Greek and Italian Colleagues. It was under these circumstances that Mr. Layard said to a gentleman connected with the Embassy that if he saw the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, he might mention the letter to him. The question whether Mr. Layard had better have made that communication or not, is a matter fairly open for consideration and question; but, however important you may think it—however indiscreet you may think it of him to have said anything of that sort, it falls so very far short of the imputations thrown upon Mr. Layard in this matter, that it is really hardly worth considering. Well, what happens? Mr. Layard informs us that he heard nothing more about it for some time, and it does not appear that the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, immediately on receiving the information, telegraphed it off to England. He waited for a whole week, and, in the course of that week, as far as we can judge from the information incidentally conveyed by the papers, he got the information from other papers also, and from that information he constructed the telegram which was sent to The Daily Telegraph. In the form in which that telegram was given, it no doubt created a great sensation in this country; and it is no wonder that my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, as soon as he became aware of it, should have challenged the accuracy of the statement, and have taken the course he did. Unfortunately, it appears that the gentleman who was the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph had been sent off to another place, and was not accessible. He was shut up in Plevna during the great siege, and there were no means of secure communication with him on the subject open either to his employers or to Mr. Layard, a fact which accounts for some little of the delay which took place in the matter. But hon. Gentlemen say that Mr. Layard endeavoured to shelter himself behind the injunction of secrecy which he laid upon the correspondent of The Daily Telegraph when the matter was mentioned. It is entirely a matter of assumption that that was the case. The correspondent of The Daily Telegraph undoubtedly says there were persons of high position, and so forth, who had laid this injunction of secrecy upon him, and it may be that Mr. Layard may have been one of them. But it really is an assumption, and it is an assumption that I do not know we have any of us a right to make. We must bear in mind that, after all, Mr. Layard is the person who voluntarily comes forward and discloses the share he had in the matter. How is it we know anything about it? The first we know about it is contained in the despatch addressed by Mr. Layard himself to Lord Derby on the 29th of October. How does it begin?—"My Lord, I am desirous"—he is not called on, but it is a voluntary act on his part— My Lord, I am desirous, injustice to myself, to put on record what took place between M. Negroponte and me with reference to the correspondence between that gentleman and Mr. Gladstone, which appears to have given rise to much unfavourable comment and a good deal of misrepresentation in England and elsewhere."—[Ibid.] He does it, undoubtedly, because he had seen the Correspondence which had taken place in England—the letter of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, and he had seen also that the matter, to which probably he did not attach very much importance, was creating great excitement in England. Then he comes forward, and he does not conceal anything at all. He comes forward and states exactly what has taken place as far as anything appears, and he is entirely borne out by the facts which have been proved. Now, I do say that in such a state of things as that, to come forward and charge deliberately and angrily a man like Mr. Layard, holding the responsible position he does, with an attempt to use his official position to crush or to injure an English statesman, towards whom he stood in peculiar relations, and to charge him with doing that by means of an anonymous and concealed attack, is so very unfair, and so very monstrous a charge, that I am persuaded no House of Commons and no Deliberative Assembly of Englishmen will countenance such a charge without the clearest proof. And you have nothing of the sort. The evidence, on the contrary, bears all the other way. The evidence may, if you like to say so, amount to that which Her Majesty's Ambassador himself describes as an indiscreet proceeding on his part; and if that is all that is meant, I am not prepared to say that it is the most discreet thing in the world to send messages to newspaper correspondents. But as to making a charge against Mr. Layard of having deliberately intended by the proceeding to do any act of an unfair or underhand character, or anything that could be construed into an attempt to injure the character and reputation of an English statesman, is to pass a gross libel upon Mr. Layard, and it is language which I am perfectly certain the British House of Commons will never consent to use.

Question put.

The House divided: —Ayes 132; Noes 206: Majority 74.—(Div. List, No. 46.;