HC Deb 14 March 1878 vol 238 cc1336-70

in rising to call attention to the representation of this country at the proposed Congress at Berlin, and to ask a question on the subject, said: The Notice I have placed upon the Paper divides itself into two heads of inquiry, which I venture respectfully to submit to the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. The first has reference to the representation of this country at the proposed Congress, and the second has reference to the Congress itself. At this late hour I am particularly loth to occupy the time of the House; but the opportunities private Members have of gaining its ear are so rare, and the position of affairs is so critical, that I am anxious, if the House will permit me, to state what are not only my own opinions, but what I believe to be the opinions of a great many in this House and out-of-doors as regards the critical state of affairs at the present moment. When we look at the present position, what do we find? No doubt peace has been concluded; but no sooner is peace concluded than armaments have commenced—in fact, we may say that the conclusion of peace is likely to be the commencement of war. Nothing could be more appropriate in connection with the Navy Estimates than the observations I am going to make. I heard with great satisfaction the remarks this evening made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when be said that England would require each Article of the Treaty to be separately examined. But what is the state of affairs at the present moment? Why, the Channel Meet has actually joined the Mediterranean Fleet, although peace has been proclaimed. The hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) said just now that we have no Naval Reserve whatever. I do not know what Reserve there may be on the coasts of this country; but it is a remarkable fact that no sooner is peace concluded than the Channel Fleet proceeds to the waters of the Mediterranean and joins itself with the Mediterranean Squadron. And not only so, but the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief of the Staff of a so-called Expeditionary Force have been appointed. Heaven knows where that Expeditionary Force is to go to; but we see in the newspapers that 50,000 men are ready to go somewhere when called for. The hon. Member for West Norfolk in his remarks just now expressed an opinion respecting the Army in which I cannot concur. He said that it was in an emaciated condition. But we have the authority of the Commander-in-Chief upon this point. Last week he said that the Army had undergone great changes, but he hoped it would not be put to the test just now; and therefore I say, when people put forward the idea that, peace having been concluded, we are going to send 50,000 men somewhere, I hope they will dismiss the idea from their minds. There is no doubt, however, that great armaments are being made throughout Europe. Look at the position of Austria at this moment! Austria is arming to the teeth—peacehaving just been concluded; and a Supplementary Vote has been passed by her for the mobilization of her Army. Roumania is dissatisfied, and Greece at this moment is fighting. Above all, Her Majesty's Government have repeatedly told us—and I say this in no carping spirit, nor as finding fault with them—that for the last month the Foreign Office knows nothing of what is going on. We do know nothing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) the other night asked a Question of the Government, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in reply to him, said—"We know nothing more than you do of what is going on." Well, I say—however opportune or inopportune may be the remarks I am submitting to the House—the country is, and must be, uneasy in regard to this state of things. The country wants to know something of what is going on, and I think that it is entitled to know more than has been vouchsafed to Parliament during the last few weeks. Let the House look at the state of Eastern Europe at this moment. Peace has been concluded. The terms of peace, no doubt, will be considered in this proposed Congress; and I am happy to have heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night that England goes to this Congress unpledged and unbiassed, and determined to consider every Article of these terms of peace one by one. True, certain terms which were in the first instance monstrous, and which, I believe, were never earnestly put forward, have been withdrawn—such as the acquisition of the Turkish Fleet and the hypothecation of the Egyptian Tribute. These claims, I say, I do not believe were ever earnestly put forward. But, look; what is the actual and present position staring us in the face as regards Russia? It is enough to make us pause. It is serious enough to make us reflect upon what must be the future in store for Europe. There is Russia standing at this moment with one foot on the Sea of Marmora and the other on the Black Sea, in immediate propinquity to the Bosphorus—insulating, as it were, the Peninsula upon which stands Constantinople. European Turkey has ceased to exist. That may be good or bad; but Russia stands in its place. Russia is an autocratic despotism. Now, of all forms of Government, an autocratic despotism is that which does most to suppress the hopes, the aspirations, and the energies of mankind; and it is an autocratic despotism which at the present time threatens, overshadows, and dominates the peace and liberties of Europe. I wish now to say a few words respecting what this country is going to do in the Conference or Congress. Before peace was made—even as far back as the 12th of February—the Foreign Secretary announced to this country that a Conference was to be held. "All the Powers," said Lord Derby, "had agreed to everything except the point as to where that Conference was to be held." Well, that was a matter of very small importance. But Lord Derby afterwards informed Parliament, in "another place," that ultimately Baden-Baden had been selected. Subsequently Lord Derby informed Parliament that the Conference was to be held in the first week of March. In the first week of March peace was concluded between Russia and Turkey at San Stefano—on the 3rd of March, I think it was. And there was one Member of this House who certainly took the earliest opportunity of expressing his opinion—and I think he almost stood alone in that opinion—with regard to the terms of peace. My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) rushed—anybody who has read that Treaty knows what to think about it;—but my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, on the 4th—the day following—rushed to the Town Hall of Shoreditch, and at the top of his voice, and from the bottom of his heart, said—"This is, indeed, great and glorious news." ["Hear, hear!"] I do not know whether the hon. Members who cheer me have read certain particulars of that Treaty; but I consider there is one clause in it which is more painful than anything that ever appeared in the diplomatic history of the world—namely, that within two years every Mussulman who lives within the region to be comprised in the new Bulgaria shall be forced to leave it. Well, the hon. Member for Hackney rushed, as I said, down to the Town Hall of Shoreditch, and in a loud voice, and from the bottom of his heart, said—"This is, indeed, great and glorious news;" and he added—"The most perverse ingenuity cannot discover in what way the interests of England are menaced by these moderate terms." I leave my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney to his moderation; but I think that nothing can be more serious, not only for Europe, not only for the peace and interests of Europe, but of this great country, than the terms of peace agreed to between Russia and Turkey. After that it was proposed, not that a Conference should be held at Baden-Baden, but that a Congress should be held at Berlin. No doubt, the amenities between Germany and Russia might convince this country that, of course, this must have been really a plan between those two Powers. But, whether that was so or not, the fact remains that Berlin was selected, and that Prince Bismarck, after a good deal of frank hesitation, consented to be President of the Congress. I think the Presidency of the chief promoter of the Triple Alliance between the three Emperors, which is a standing menace to Europe, is not a good omen to start with. But I venture to say that nobody in this country will find fault with the policy of the Government in having agreed to go into the Conference, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us to-night in terms which will rejoice the country, that we shall go into the Congress as free agents, unfettered and unpledged. I have heard some in this country who say that, with a feeling of offended dignity, we ought to stand aloof from the Congress; but I am sure the good sense of the House of Commons and the good sense of the country will not be prepared to endorse that opinion. What I say—and what I believe a majority in this House and in the country would say—is—"Let this country go into the Congress with a manly consciousness of its own dignity and of its own power. Let it go in imbued with a desire to promote the welfare of Europe. Let it go in willing to accept, as a fait accompli, that which is now irrevocable," and I am satisfied that this country will be able to do some good in Europe. But who is to represent this country in the Congress? And what is to be the subject of the Congress? I know that the British Ambassador at Paris was appointed to represent this country at the Conference at Baden-Baden, and I understand that he has now been named to the Congress at Berlin. I am not going to say a word of attack on Lord Lyons. I did not join in the attacks which were made the other night on the British Ambassador at Constantinople; and I am not going to say anything as regards Lord Lyons that cannot be attributed to a sentiment of honour. I meant to have taken part in the discussion the other night as regards the conduct of Mr. Layard; but, like many others, no doubt, I was debarred doing so by the press of others who were more anxious, perhaps, or who had a better right to address the House. If I am now going to refer to Lord Lyons, I will not call him a con- spirator; I will not, in delicate language, call him an untruthful man; I will not call him "no gentleman;" I will not stab him in the back when his hands are tied. I consider Lord Lyons to be a most respectable gentleman; but what can he be expected to know of the feelings of this country on the Eastern Question? What can he be expected to know of the policy of the Foreign Office on the Eastern Question—what it is, what it has been, what it may be? All that he can know is, must be, at second-hand, either from the Secretary of State, or from Lord Granville, or from the Russian Ambassador. I do not think the latter are persons who can rightly interpret the intense feeling of this country at the present moment upon the Eastern Question. I do not think myself—and I have followed his career for many years—that Lord Lyons is a man who is able to grapple with the frankness of Prince Bismarck, or the finesse of Prince Gortchakoff. I think Lord Lyons may be a man who knows, no doubt, a good deal about the diplomatic profession, living, and learning, under the aegis of a flourishing Republic. But I am sorry to believe—and I shall be glad to hear it contradicted by the Government—that the opinions of Lord Lyons differ essentially from those which are entertained, and which have been entertained, by the late Ambassador at Constantinople and by the present Ambassador, Mr. Layard. If that is not the case, I shall be glad to hear it contradicted by Her Majesty's Government; because I think this country does not want to see a recurrence of those disorders which marked the diplomatic negotiations of our Representatives at Constantinople last year, and which led to such unfortunate results. To my mind—and I believe in the opinion of the country—Lord Lyons is not the man to go to Berlin to advocate the interests of this country. There is only one man who ought to go there, and that is Lord Derby. The Foreign Minister is, in my opinion, the proper person to represent this country at the Congress. He would carry more weight as Foreign Secretary, and he would be only following precedents which I snail venture respectfully, with the permission of the House, to quote. I say that Lord Derby, as Foreign Minister, ought to go to the Congress. Lord Castlereagh was Foreign Minister in this country in 1814, and as First Plenipotentiary he signed the first Treaty of Paris in that year. Lord Clarendon—an honoured name in this country—was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and he was First Plenipotentiary and signed the Treaty of Paris upon the Eastern Question in 1856. Lord Granville was Minister for Foreign Affairs, and as First Plenipotentiary he signed the Treaty of London in 1871 modifying the stipulations of the Treaty of Paris of 1856. And I may add that Lord Granville, when Foreign Secretary, signed, as First Plenipotentiary, that most important Declaration between Great Britain, Austria, France, Italy, Russia, and Turkey respecting the inviolability of Treaties. I say, with the precedents I have quoted, the Foreign Minister is the proper person to represent this country at the Congress. A Congress is a different thing from a Conference. A Congress is composed of the chief persons of the countries which they represent. As Lord Castlereagh, Lord Clarendon, and Lord Granville represented it, so, I am bound to say, Lord Derby is, in the opinion of this country, far better qualified to represent England than the British Ambassador at Paris. Lord Derby knows better than any man in this country the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I will point out one other objection to the appointment of Lord Lyons as the Representative of England. Lord Lyons, the British Ambassador at Paris, will go to Berlin. He knows nothing, he can know nothing—it is not his fault—of the intense feeling of this country upon this question. He will have to receive his instructions from Lord Derby; Lord Derby will have to submit those instructions to the Cabinet; whereas if, as in the case of Lord Castlereagh, Lord Clarendon, and Lord Granville, the Foreign Secretary were to go, he would only receive his instructions, if there were any to give, from the Prime Minister; and, in my humble judgment, the Prime Minister of the present day would be very likely to interpret aright the feelings and opinions of this country. On the whole, therefore, I think Lord Derby would be the best to represent the country at the Congress; and I hope to hear an assurance from the Leader of this House to-night that Her Majesty's Government will be prepared, if a Congress should be held— which I very much doubt—to send, not the Ambassador at Paris, but the Foreign Secretary, to represent—as he is bound to do—the interests of this country. He should not shrink from the responsibility of his position. He is responsible for what has been taking place during the last 10 months. I have never lent myself to say anything against the character of Lord Derby. I have always declined, though urged on more than one occasion, to find fault with his policy in this House. I have always shrunk from attacking a man who is not in this House to defend himself, and who can be attacked for his policy in "another place." But I do say that Lord Derby ought to go; but whether he or Lord Lyons goes, what are they to go for? What are the objects of this country in going to the Congress? I hope I am not wearying the House. [Cheers.] I will now state in a very few words what I believe those objects are. I can only repeat that I, in common with others in this House, was delighted to hear the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night, that this country can still take an interest in Turkish affairs without its being supposed, as has often been thrown in our teeth, that British interests are bound up in maintaining misrule in Turkey, or in the perpetuation of misgovernment. That is a position which I decline to accept. If England goes into this Congress she goes, as the Leader of this House told the country to-night, not to register the deeds—be they good or be they evil—of Russia. She goes in only to consider which of the provisions of the Treaty of Peace are just and fair to Europe, and to say that they shall separately, one and all, be considered. I have no longer, personally, any faith in Treaties with Russia. Lord Granville, as Foreign Minister, signed that Protocol declaration between the Great Powers which they bound themselves solemnly to adhere to as regards the inviolability of Treaties. The first to break that has been Russia; but Russia has, perhaps, better things to offer to Europe than the inviolability of Treaties. We have been told, over and over again, that we can accept, with confidence, the sacred word of honour of the Sovereign of Russia, which certainly, if not more binding, is a more facile arrangement for those Powers who adopt that plan. I must say that any Treaty with Russia will fail to give that confidence to Europe which I should like to see; but, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer said to-night—and I think very rightly—that he must decline to enter into the basis of the arrangements upon which this country would go into the Congress, I will put it to the House—I will put it to the country—whether there are not four principal matters which will have to be discussed at length in the Congress. The first is Greece; the second is Bulgaria; the third, the free navigation of the Danube; and the fourth the free navigation of the Straits. These are the four points which pre-eminently interest this country, and which can be treated by the Foreign Minister, if he goes to the Congress, with a greater knowledge than can be possessed by Lord Lyons. But, as regards the Congress, I am bound to say that I was very sorry to hear the announcement of the Foreign Secretary the other night in the House of Lords. He stated that the British Government had recommended that Greece should form part of the Congress. Well, we may all respect the aspirations of Greece; but that action on the part of the Government is an announcement to Russia that they abandon altogether the Treaty of Paris. The Treaty of Paris was between the Great Powers of Europe, and as soon as you admit—as I see by this night's papers—that Greece can enter the Congress, Russia asks that Servia and Montenegro may enter. Now, I hold that the Congress ought to be confined strictly to the Great Powers who signed the Treaties of 1856 and 1871. Next, as regards Bulgaria, it is proposed to erect Bulgaria into a separate Kingdom. I suppose—and I am sure I am not singular in my opinion—that there is no race of men in Europe so destitute of all the qualities that would constitute a vigorous national people as the Bulgarians. I see by to-night's papers that Russia recognizes—but I do not know what truth there may be in the statement—the name of Prince Battenberg for the Kingdom of Bulgaria. There is to be placed at the head of a newly-elected Kingdom a man utterly unknown, and, I should say, utterly unworthy of such a position. As to the free navigation of the Danube, that is a matter of vital importance to Europe; and Russia, contrary to the Treaties, did interfere with the free navigation of the Danube during the progress of the war. Let me, in a few words, point out the importance of the free navigation of the Danube. That River flows for 2,000 miles through Europe, and eight different States are watered by the stream. The Danube is joined to the Rhine and the Maine, and is the highway of commerce for the whole centre of Europe. Will the House believe that, as regards Austria alone and its commerce, the Danube carries 30,000,000 cwt of merchandize annually and 1,000,000 passengers? That is alone sufficient to show the House the importance of the free navigation of the Danube. It should be one of the most important questions to be treated at the Congress, and no one ought to be better able to treat the subject than the Foreign Secretary. I come to the last point of all, and I will not detain the House beyond two or three minutes. That is the free navigation of the Straits. This is a matter of vital importance to this country. The commerce of this country through the Straits exceeds three times that of every and of all other countries in the world put together. Surely, then, these are subjects which ought to be treated not by the Ambassador at Paris, but by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of this country. He ought to have—he must have all these questions at his fingers' ends; and instead of calling to represent this country at the Congress the British Ambassador from Paris, he is bound, I say, not to shirk from the responsibility of the position he holds; and every man, in my opinion, and in the opinion of this House, believes that no one ought to be more capable than the Foreign Minister to consider these questions, which are of such vital importance to the diplomatic and commercial interests of England. I must apologize to the House for having detained it so long. The opportunities are so rare for an independent Member bringing a matter of this importance before the House that I was anxious not to lose this opportunity of expressing what I feel. The moment, I admit, is difficult. There were, no doubt, as I have said, armaments taking place at the moment of peace being signed; and, as I have said, it looks very much as if the conclusion of peace threatened the com- mencement of war. I hope this is not so; but what I do not like—and what many in this House do not like, and what a great many in this country do not approve of—has been that "know-nothing" policy of the Foreign Office, which has caused so much distrust throughout the country. I should suppose that there is no one who must be more sick of this "know-nothing" policy than Admiral Hornby, if Admirals are ever sick. What has been his position? Admiral Hornby has been sent—I was going to say tossed—backward and forward, not on the stormy billows of a troublesome sea, but on the troublesome issues of orders and counter - orders. Poor Admiral Hornby! To my mind, his peregrinations resemble those of that moon-struck silly fellow Telemachus, without even the excitement of his amorous adventures. I am sure that Admiral Hornby must earnestly hope that this "know-nothing" policy of the Government will soon end. In putting these two questions to the Leader of this House as regards the representation of this country at the Congress and the subjects of the Congress—while thanking the House for the generous and kind attention with, which they have listened to the observations I have ventured to make—I do want to see the policy of the Foreign Office have more of British freedom about it—I want to see the Foreign Office getting into the old British groove of Lord Palmerston—I desire that the voice of this country shall still be raised as of old with national power, and. to see the Government of this country standing with firmness and decision, in that front rank of the councils of the nations of Europe which she is indubitably entitled to hold.


said, he would not pretend to set his opinion against that of the right hon. Baronet; but he did not think that the right hon. Baronet's proposal to send Lord Derby to the Congress would be of much advantage to the interests the Government were pledged to defend. Had the policy Lord Derby had hitherto pursued anything of the true British ring about it? When it was first proposed to send the Fleet to the Dardanelles Lord Derby objected to that course; when it was again proposed, and while there was still time to stop the Russians from reaching Constantinople—which was one of those British interests that the Government had pledged its honour to defend—Lord Derby resigned. To bring back Lord Derby the Fleet was recalled. His Lordship remained in office, and the Fleet was sent out again. These were some of "the weaknesses and the vacillations" which had occurred in connection with the policy which, he supposed, Lord Derby himself, to a great extent, had dictated. Had that policy anything of the true British ring about it? It was certainly not what would have been expected from Palmerston, Pitt, and Chatham; and yet the right hon. Baronet wanted to send Lord Derby to Berlin. He thought the weakness and vacillation of his past policy was quite a sufficient bar to his being sent to Berlin to represent the interests of England. The only difference would be that Lord Derby, instead of sending the Instructions of the Cabinet to our Representative at the Congress, would himself receive them from Lord Beaconsfield; and the state of things would be brought back to that which existed when Sir Henry Elliot was our Ambassador at Constantinople. If Lord Beaconsfield could go, there might he some confidence in the result, for the Prime Minister was the one man in the Cabinet who had the pluck to carry out the views of the country. But at present he had no great confidence in the Congress or Conference at all. He did not know that it would ever meet; but if it did, he did not believe it would last many days. It would be the occasion of a little holiday excursion for the Representatives who might attend; but, in his opinion, it would not result in any good whatever to this country, even if it did not result in very considerable damage. Why? Because, as the right hon. Baronet had said, Turkey was "gone," and we had Russia in her place. It was true—Turkey was "gone"—although a Member of the Cabinet, the present Postmaster General, had said that Turkey was not gone yet, but was still a match for Russia. The noble Lord (Lord John Manners) based his assertion on the opinion of Lord Ponsonby, who was right at the time, because then there were those in Turkey, directing its Councils, who had some interest in its well-doing; whereas now it was at present in the hands of persons who cared nothing for the well- being of the country, but only for the gold they could put in their pockets. It was not that Turkey had been abolished and swept away from the map of Europe, or that her power was gone; but that that power was now transferred to the hand of Russia. Turkey was the puppet and Russia made Turkey dance. Turkey had still power, but Russia used that power and would use it against Europe. He had asked the Government over and over again whether there was not an alliance, offensive and defensive, between Russia and Turkey, to be used against England?—and, though he was always met with a know-nothing reply, he believed such an alliance existed. He did not care whether it did or not, for Turkey was in the hands of Russia, which had command of Constantinople and of all the strong places, and, as we had learnt to-day, was advancing on the suburbs of Constantinople and planting foot on the Bosphorus. That and the Black Sea were closed against the English Fleet, and the Black Sea, which was Russia's future base of operations, was beyond the reach of Austria and England. Through the mistaken and ignorant indolence—he was going to say the criminal culpability—of the Government, Turkey had gone, and Russia was in her place, and the power of Turkey was wielded by Russia, and would be wielded against us. And then we were asked to go into a Conference—Good Heaven!—where we could deliberate while Russia held Constantinople and the Bosphorus, and her Navy roamed over the Black Sea and brought supplies to her Armies at will. How could there be free deliberation? If we objected to a clause we should be laughed to scorn, as we had already been told that something was not our business but the business of the belligerents alone. Such an answer had been made to us—a people who once stood against Europe in arms. We were expected to deliberate hampered by the fear of Russia and Turkey united, when in the Sea of Marmora there were six of our ships which might be gone within 12 hours. ["No, no!"] What if Russia, which was within half-an-hour of the lines of Boulair, seized Sestos and Abydos and abvanced on Gallipoli? Did we expect to pass the Dardanelles, then? It was a great feat of heroism when Sir Thomas Duckworth did it, though the guns could not be depressed and the shots went over the ships; but now the danger would be so great and terrible, that deliberation in a Conference was impossible. If we did enter the Conference, what should we say when we got there? It was said we should require that all the clauses of the Treaty of Peace should be laid before the Conference. But Prince Gortchakoff said—"I do not understand that word 'require,' because, when you were informed of the desires of Russia last June, you did not dare to object. You told us not to advance on Constantinople; you dared us to do so, and you sent your Fleet. We replied by saying we would send our troops to the Bosphorus, and you brought back your Fleet." Then we should say—"We take our stand upon the sanctity of International Law and of Treaties;" but Prince Gortchakoff would reply—"Did you not cast your Treaties to the winds on the 6th of May, when you said that British interests were all you should consider; when you said that one of the British interests—the dearest of all—is that we should not approach Constantinople? We have approached—your British interests are worth no more than your Treaties." That was the way Prince Gortchakoff would treat us. On what principle were we to proceed? The right hon. Baronet had given us one—we were to go into the Conference acknowledging un fait accompli in regard to what had happened. That was a principle to which he would never give his assent. If they adopted that principle, Prince Gortchakoff would say—"Then I am satisfied. We have the whole of Bulgaria, we have our heel planted on Constantinople, we have possession of the road to India, we have ports on the Egean and perhaps on the Mediterranean, we have the Black Sea locked up, Persia at our mercy, the Khedive of Egypt the Vassal of a Vassal—for Turkey is the Vassal of Russia—what more can you prevent?" Another principle was that preached the other night by the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt)—the principle of nationalities—the nationalities of the Greek and the Slav. That was no new doctrine—it had been urged before now by the right hon. Member for Greenwich, who proposed to run the Greek against the Slav. When did the Greeks ever rule a great Empire? When were they ever thought fit for anything but to cheat and to slander throughout all the great towns of Europe? ["Oh, oh!"] Go into France, or into any other country in Europe, and ask what was the character of the Greeks? In France the word "Greek" was not supposed to mean a nationality, but it was a synonym for a. pickpocket and a swindler. ["Oh, oh!"] They were now seeing the old blunder of 1829 repeated. He believed Her Majesty's Government made an enormous blunder in ever giving way to the iniquitous dream of adopting the Greeks and putting them against the Slavs. Another principle had been put forward—the right of interference for the sake of religion and of race. The object of the war was supposed to be the amelioration of Turkish populations who were called Christians. Were we to acknowledge that principle or not? If we did we could not stop at Bulgaria; for there were Christians throughout Armenia, in Palestine, and in Egypt, and if we would not act on their behalf we must abandon the principle. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) had said that he had no faith in Treaties by Russia. He thought no sensible man in this day had. But why, then, go into a Conference? A Conference must come to a decision, and that decision must be embodied in a Treaty. And yet they were told by the right hon. Baronet that he had no confidence in a Treaty. Neither had he (Lord Robert Montagu), and therefore he had no confidence in a Conference. Russia made a Treaty with Roumania on April 16, 1877, and within a year had broken it. The Treaty was not that the Roumanians were to help the Russians, but that they were merely to allow them to pass through their territory; and for this service the integrity of Roumania was guaranteed. The Russians having met with two disastrous defeats at Plevna, everyone thought Russia was ruined. What happened? The Russian diplomatist went to Roumania, and said—"For Heaven's sake, come and kelp us or we are done for, and if we are, you are done for too! If you will help us we will give you independence and an increase of your territory." The poor foolish Roumanians believed the Russians, they went to the aid of Russia, supplied the place of the thousands she had lost, and virtually won the campaign for her. Yet the moment the Russians were victorious the Treaty of the 16th April was forgotten, the services of the Roumanians were ignored, and instead of getting an increase of territory, the Russians proposed to take a slice off. The Treaties, threats, and prayers of the Roumanians were all unavailing. Prince Gortchakoff said—"We have Roumania between the hammer and the anvil; if she says a word we will crush her entirely." That was the way that Russia treated her friends. Within nine months the Treaty with Roumania was ignored. Then there was the Armistice of the 14th February—how long was it regarded? When it was agreed to, all Europe threw up their caps with delight. How long did it last? Within 10 days it was broken by the advance of the Russians to San Stefano. Plighted faith, honour, and the sanctity of Treaties, what were they to Russia? Were honour and honesty considerations which weighed with Russia? No; but power and might were considerations which weighed a great deal. Turkey was the tool and puppet of Russia. Russia had the Bosphorus, and Turkey must do as she was bidden. The Turks, they might be certain, were going to assist the Russians at the Congress. Perhaps Austria would be on the side of England. Let them suppose? that France and Germany were prevented from flying' at each other's throats—and that was the best that could happen—if Russia and Turkey together were equal to England and Austria in the Conference they would not mind; but if they were not equal, Russia would give way, and give way little by little, till she found a point at which England would join her; and then a Treaty would be concluded. But she would then turn to Austria and say—"Don't mind those foolish Islanders; you see how they treated Turkey, whose independence they were bound by Treaty to defend. They are selfish people; they care for their own interests, and nothing else. I can do more for you than they can do." In this way Austria would be detached from the alliance; Germany and France would be satisfied; England would stand alone—Russia, aided by Turkey, would be left master of the situation. Did they think that Russia would stand by the Treaty one moment longer than they thought proper, when they had broken a Treaty made with their own allies, the Roumanians, and another Treaty with their new friends and quondam enemies, the Turks? Did they think that a Treaty extorted by fear would stand for one single moment against the interest of Russia? He did not believe that there was one man in this House who was so foolish as in his heart of hearts to believe it. He wished that for one moment everyone who spoke on this subject would speak as he thought. They would have very few speaking against the views which he represented; but Party Government was the ruin of truth. If, instead of agitating, and talking, and petitioning to get the ballot established outside, they had got the ballot established in the House, they would have a very different vote on this question. When they examined the ballot box they would find all the balls on one side, and the only wonder would be "how the devil they all got there!" The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Peel) had vented his spleen and spat his venom on Lord Lyons—[Sir ROBERT PEEL: No, no!]—but he (Lord Robert Montagu) had always heard that he was a most honourable and capable man.


I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I never vented any spleen, or expressed any feelings of malignity, against Lord Lyons. I disclaimed saying one word against him. I believe him a most worthy man.


said, he was sorry for it, because he had hoped the right hon. Baronet had vented his spleen and got rid of it. If he had not done that he still had it in him. He (Lord Robert Montagu) had always regard Lord Lyons as an able diplomatist, and his appointment as Ambassador at Paris showed that he must be au fait of the diplomacy of Europe—he believed him superior to the humbug, the bamboozling, and cheating, which passed muster for diplomacy—he believed he was a match for all the other Plenipotentiaries. The right hon. Baronet said that they should send Lord Derby to the Conference. If that were so, the best thing for those who regarded the dignity and honour of England to do would be to denationalize themselves as rapidly as possible; let them sell their properties and escape to some distant land before the final catastrophe arrived. Who- ever might be sent, he believed that the Conference would come to nothing. If this country could summon courage to look facts in the face and act with enlightenment, then he believed the result of the Conference would be war. But if the Conference ended in peace, it augured for this country something worse than war—slavery and impotence from which it would take a century to recover.


said, that in the speeches of the right hon. Baronet and the noble Lord they had heard the last dying cry and the political will and testament of the old Turkophil party. Whatever difference of opinion there might be between the two sides of the House, he believed that they would generally agree that the proceedings of the Turkophil party had been an unmixed misfortune to this country. That he said from no love of Russia; but he could not help thinking that the manner in which the Turkophil party had spoken of Lord Derby was most indecent and most extraordinary, and had weakened this country in the eyes of Europe and of the world. No one could conceal from themselves that the object of the speech of the right hon. Baronet was to sneer at Lord Lyons, and to diminish the prestige and influence of the Foreign Secretary, and that, too, at a time when it ought to be the object of every patriotic Englishman to uphold it to the utmost. The right hon. Baronet complained that the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had given, perhaps, a premature expression of approval to the terms of peace imposed by Russia upon Turkey. He (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) ventured to think that that was the severest criticism on the right hon. Baronet's own proceedings. If the hon. Member for Hackney spoke without knowledge of the terms of peace, had the right hon. Baronet that knowledge? Had the right hon. Baronet, who took for his text when speaking what purported to be the terms of peace, been taken into the confidence of the Emperor of Russia and supplied with a copy of the terms? Both the right hon. Baronet and the noble Lord who followed him went out of their way to make observations about the Bulgarians and the Greeks; but he ventured to think that the present moment was most inopportune for insulting either of those peoples. He believed that the proceedings of the Foreign Secretary in asking that the Greeks should be represented at the Conference had mot the almost unanimous approval of Parliament and of the country; and if anything could increase that approval, it was that the only party to criticize the course taken was the small, disconnected, and broken-up Turkophil party, which still maintained a quasi-existence. That party was attempting to bolster up the unjust Government of Turkey, of which they were the only champions. The right hon. Baronet suggested that Lord Derby should be sent to the Conference instead of Lord Lyons; but the whole of his speech up to the moment at which he made the suggestion was an elaborate indictment of the policy of the Foreign Secretary. If the policy of the Foreign Office was so weak and miserable as to be justly described as a "do-nothing" policy, the Foreign Secretary was the last person who should be sent to the Congress. When Lord Salisbury was sent last year to the Conference at Constantinople, the right hon. Baronet and his Friends complained that the office of British Representative was not filled by a professional diplomatist. Her Majesty's Government were now going to send a professional diplomatist, and the right hon. Member for Tamworth thereupon made an attack on Her Majesty's Government. This country had never been bound in the matter of sending out Representatives by any hard-and-fastrule. In the various Treaties which had been negotiated during the last 100 years, this country had been sometimes represented by professional diplomatists and sometimes by Foreign Secretaries, and even by persons who were neither the one nor the other. It did not seem to him that this was a moment at which the right hon. Member for Tamworth ought to have raised a discussion of this kind. This country was at present in a most dangerous and delicate situation, and the Government ought not to be embarrassed by criticizing the conduct of any individual. If the House were called upon to vote by ballot, no doubt they would say that the right hon. Baronet was the fittest person. He would uphold the fame of England, and the country would be represented by a diplomatist of almost superhuman energy and exalted character. But as this was not to be, he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) thought it would be much the wiser course for Parliament to place confidence in the selection made by Her Majesty's Government, and to reserve to itself the free right afterwards to criticize and to give or withhold its approval of the course taken and the results which flowed from it. The name of Lord Lyons was well known throughout Europe as that of a diplomatist of great ability, in whom everybody had the utmost confidence; and he, for one, felt convinced that in the coming Conference he would represent this country in such a way as to entitle his name to a place in the exalted roll of names mentioned in the speech of the right hon. Baronet.


said, he did not propose to enter into the question between Lord Lyons and Lord Derby, because he believed that Her Majesty's Ministers were able to defend Lord Lyons, whilst Lord Derby was in no want of defenders on the other side of the House, as was shown by the somewhat lengthened letter of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), which had done the Foreign Secretary the greatest injury it was possible to inflict on him, and also the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice), who had followed in the steps of his Leader. He wished to put to the Government one or two questions with regard to the forthcoming Congress. He should not insist on any answer that might be considered inconvenient, for he was perfectly satisfied with the answers which had been given to the Questions put by the hon. Member for the West Biding (Mr. C. Beckett-Denison) and the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow). But there had been a certain divergence in the answers given in that House and in the other House, and between the words of the Government and their written despatches'. The Secretary of State for the Home Department last year had told the House that England would object to Constantinople being approached or occupied by Russia; whilst Lord Derby, in writing to Lord Augustus Loftus, limited himself to an expression which seemed only to mean a permanent occupation, while in July last it was said that any movement by Russia would be met by the movement of the English Fleet. Now, the actual movement of the Fleet in February led to the resignation of Lord Derby and Lord Carnarvon. What he wanted to ask the Government was, what would be their position as regarded Russia in the forthcoming Congress? At the present moment, the Government knew nothing about the terms of peace, as on a former occasion they knew nothing about the terms of the Armistice. The words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer were much stronger than the words used by Lord Derby. But the words to which the Government were fixed was the declaration of Prince Gortchakoff, that the interests of Europe would be submitted to the Congress. In 1856 the bases of peace between England, France, Turkey, and Italy on the one hand, and Russia on the other, were submitted to the Congress at Paris, which signed the preliminaries of peace, and ultimately the Treaty. Now, he wished to know whether Her Majesty's Government were prepared to insist upon all the conditions of the Treaty of San Stefano being placed before the Congress at Berlin for alteration if necessary, or whether they would accept them as faits acoomplis and acknowledge the doctrine of Bead possidentes—or whether they were to go into the Congress and agree to a large State in Bulgaria with a Prince nominated by Russia, and whether the new institutions in Bulgaria were to be directed by Russian Commissioners; was the education of that country, religious and secular, to be subjected to Russian authority; or whether this country was or was not to have a voice in the future of Bulgaria, or was it to be established by Russia, and to be tendered for our acceptance or refused blindly? He had the greatest reluctance to any interference by Russia in the education of the youth of Bulgaria; and he would show what was the real meaning of Russian education by reading an extract from the Catechism taught in the schools of Poland by order of the Russian Government. It was as follows:— Q. 1. How is the authority of the Emperor to be considered in reference to the spirit of Christianity?—Ans. As proceeding immediately from God. Q. 17. What are the supernaturally revealed motives for the worship (of the Emperor)?—Ans. The supernaturally revealed motives are that the Emperor is the Vicegerent and Minister of God to execute the Divine commands; and, consequently, disobedience to the Emperor is identified with disobedience to God himself; that God will reward us in the world to come for the worship and obedience we render the Emperor, and punish us severely to all eternity should we disobey or neglect to worship him. Moreover, God commands us to love and obey from the inmost recesses of the heart every authority, and particularly the Emperor, not from worldly considerations, but from apprehensions of the final judgment. He wished to know whether Her Majesty's Government were prepared to allow the dissemination of such doctrines in Bulgaria? But this was not all. There was the Treaty of 1840, by which the Government of Egypt was maintained in the family of Mehemet Ali. Well, the Straits were menaced by the erection of the new Bulgarian State, because it would not be possible for Turkey to maintain the police of the Straits in the future as she had done in the past. The power of Russia was to be established on the Egean, while by the extension of her territory into Armenia, she would be enabled to march down through Asia Minor to Egypt whenever she liked. He should like, therefore, to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it was the intention of the Government to strengthen, our position in Egypt; whether they proposed to take any island or territory near it or to establish any authority in Egypt itself; or whether they meant to go on in that happy-go-lucky policy which he was afraid prevailed at the present moment among politicians and which was essentially damaging to the interests of the country? He foresaw considerable danger from the formation of the Euphrates Valley Railway. That railway was never encouraged financially by this country, because neither English financiers nor the Government were inclined to spend money on territory belonging to another country. But once let that territory belong to Russia, and let Russia obtain possession of funds by an appropriation of Turkish territory under an infliction of a heavy indemnity, the Euphrates Valley Railway, which had been so long a dream, would ere long become a reality. He should like, therefore, to ask his right hon. Friend further, whether the Government still thought the Indian Empire was worth keeping; whether they still adhered to the policy which induced them to buy the Suez Canal shares, and to that by which, he was happy to say, the Queen was created Empress of India? The last question he would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer was, what were the intentions of the Government with regard to Greece? He did not, he might observe, agree with the noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu) in the view which he took in reference to the Greeks. He had lived much among them, and he knew their virtues as well as their vices. On the whole, the balance was, he thought, in favour of the former; but, be that as it might, it was, in his opinion, absolutely essential, seeing that the domination of the Turks was being taken away, to establish some means by which to prevent the preponderance of any one race or religious sect in South-Eastern Europe. The Greeks had a very great ambition so far as Constantinople was concerned; and unless some satisfactory arrangement were now made, there would be constant irritation among them, which would be taken advantage of by Russia, as she had hitherto taken advantage of dissensions between the Christian sects very much to our detriment. While, therefore, he was of opinion that the Government had exercised a wise discretion in insisting that Greece should be allowed to enter the Congress, he should wish to be further enlightened as to the object of that proposition, so that we might see how far it tended to diminish the evils to which we were subjected by the existing state of things. In 1856, before the Congress sat, we knew the full terms with which it had to deal. Then the constitution of the present Principality of Roumania was submitted to a Commission to which all the European Powers sent Representatives. Was that example to be followed on the present occasion? Were we to allow Russia to decide what were European interests or not? Were we going to discuss every question relating to the Treaty of San Stefano, without receiving any information with respect to it, or merely having a scrap thrown to us here and there and then being told that it was a fait accompli? He hoped Her Majesty's Government would take a bold and firm course, a step which would save us from war far more than by any vacillation and indecision. The Government ought to be frank to Parliament, for Parliament had shown to the Government an unbounded loyalty. If they allowed this country to be made the plaything of Russia any longer; if we were to be told every day that the Government knew nothing; if we were to be told that the secret was to be kept at Constantinople by the imperious will of Russia over the Turks; and if we were to go in ignorance to the Congress and there be debarred from voting on every subject, then, he said, although they might stave off war for a few months, at the end of the Conference a war would probably break out which would be far more dangerous and detrimental to the interests of this country than any temporary irritation which might be caused by insisting upon our just rights.


I will not detain the House more than a few minutes while I give an answer to the somewhat severe catechism which has been addressed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It seems to me that there is some poetical justice in the matter, unless, indeed, the Questions were pre-arranged. I should hardly have supposed that that was so; but I recollect that in the course of last winter the Chancellor of the Exchequer assisted at a Conservative demonstration at Christ-church in honour of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down; and I remember that on that occasion he made a statement, which did not much surprise me, having always admired the abilities of the hon. Member for Christchurch, to the effect that whenever Her Majesty's Government found themselves in a difficulty, they always relied upon the hon. Member for Christchurch to get them out of it. I can only assume that the Government and the country being, as we all know, in a position of peculiar difficulty and delicacy at this moment, have desired the hon. Member for Christchurch to come forward to-night and ask them exactly those Questions which they were anxious to answer. What otherwise would have appeared to be a singularly mischievous and inopportune proceeding on the part of the hon. Member for Christchurch, in this point of view presents itself as a friendly act towards the Government; and I have no doubt that in a few moments we shall hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a most categorical answer to the searching inquiries put by the hon. Gentleman, who is always so ready to relieve the Government of their embarrassments. But that is not exactly the course I should have recommended or pursued. We have been in the habit, on this side of the House, of being very severely lectured by Gentlemen who sit below the Gangway on the other side as to the unpatriotic character of our conduct. We have been told that there are two things we ought never to do—we are never to embarrass the Government in a critical position; and, above all, we are never to discredit Her Majesty's Representatives abroad. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) began his speech tonight by discrediting, by anticipation, the person who has been selected by Her Majesty's Ministers to represent this country at the coming Congress. If, then, what is laid down is a sound principle, I beg to point out that it has been most singularly violated by the chief doctors of the doctrine to which I have referred. There has been language of a similar character applied by the noble Lord behind me (Lord Robert Montagu) to another person in an equally responsible position; but I do not think that we must be held responsible on this side of the House for the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord. The noble Lord, like the right hon. Baronet opposite, enjoys the position of an independent Member, and one of the most valuable of the privileges of an independent Member is to condemn and abuse both sides of the House with equal impartiality. The noble Lord has never departed from this principle; therefore I cannot accept the sentiments which the noble Lord has expressed in denouncing Lord Derby, and I wish to take this opportunity of repudiating for myself, and I believe, also, for most of the hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House what, with all respect to the noble Lord, I must call the unbecoming language in which he spoke of the Greek nation. The caus6 of the Greeks is a cause of which England is proud, and has reason to be proud. I think that one of the noblest chapters of the history of which our Foreign Ministers have reason to be proud is that which relates to the emancipation of Greece, effected under the genius of Canning, though he did not live to see it completed. My be- lief is that if Canning had not prematurely died, the emancipation of Greece would have been carried to a much greater extent than it was carried ultimately in 1829 and 1830. The great scheme of a great genius was marred, because he was not able to put the finishing stroke to his policy. There is nothing, in my opinion, in the policy of the Government more commanding the confidence of the Government and the approbation of hon. Gentlemen who sit on this side of the House than the announcement that they have determined, as far as they can possibly do so, to support and put forward the claims of Greece in the coming Congress. These attacks on Lord Lyons, and Lord Derby, and the Greeks, do not represent the feeling of this side of the House. We repudiate them altogether. At a time of singular. difficulty and singular complication in public affairs and in the foreign relations of this country, we certainly cannot support such a course as that which is now taken; but, on the contrary, we strongly condemn the policy pursued to-night by the right hon. Member for Tamworth, the hon. Member for Christchurch, and the noble Lord who sits behind me. It is an attempt, as it appears to me, most unwisely and most unfitly to compel Her Majesty's Government to state here that which it may be very inconvenient, very unwise, and very impolitic that they should state. The hon. Member for Christchurch has spoken of the support which has been given on this side of the House to Lord Derby. He referred to myself and to the protest I had made, and which I will make again as long as the same system continues, against the indecent abuse levelled against Lord Derby both in and out of this House. I admit that I have made that protest, and I say that I will do so again if the same occasion should arise. The hon. Member for Christchurch said it did Lord Derby much harm. I doubt whether the language of the hon. Gentleman did Lord Derby much harm. [Sir H. DRUMMOND WOLFF said, he had not attacked Lord Derby at all.] I have heard what the noble Lord behind me said in regard to Lord Derby; and if I were to ask a Question on the subject of Lord Derby, which I am not disposed to do, it would be whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared to sever themselves from the policy of Lord Derby? I feel sure that they are not. Everybody knows that the language and policy of Lord Derby are, and must be, the language and policy of Her Majesty's Government; and the attempt to make out that Her Majesty's Government do not approve the language and the policy of Lord Derby tends to discredit, not Lord Derby, but the Government of the Queen, both at home and abroad. Therefore, I protested against this language, and I protest against it again. We are told that the Government, in a period of great difficulty and peril, are to receive the support of a patriotic House of Commons Then their patron, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, comes forward and he talks of their "know-nothing" policy, and the hon. Member for Christchurch, who always relieves them from embarrassment, talks of their "happy-go-lucky" policy. Then they turn upon us and say—"You are embarrassing the Government." I think the Government will be able to judge, from what has taken place tonight, who are those who give to them, not a servile and indiscriminate support, but, at all events, a general support, whenever they are taking that course which they believe to be essential to the interests of the country. As soon as it was known that the Government were coming forward in the Conference, not for the purpose of maintaining a policy which we believe to be past and done with, but with the view of maintaining the rights, not of one nationality, but of all nationalities, you have heard no language of condemnation from this side of the House; but the very moment it was seen that that policy did necessarily involve the confusion and defeat of the Turkophiles below the Gangway, then Lord Derby, next Lord Lyons, then Her Majesty's Government, then any single man and every body of men who stood between them and that course for which they were prepared to sacrifice everything and to drag this country into war—then these Gentlemen below the Gangway came forward and talked of the "know-nothing" policy of the Government and the "happy-go-lucky" conduct of Her Majesty's Ministers. That is not language or conduct which we on this side of the House should imitate; and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks it right to tell the House of Commons that, in the present state of Europe, he does not think it advisable, or expedient, or politic to answer the catechism of the hon. Member for Christchurch, I think he will find that many Gentlemen on both sides of the House will support him. I think he will find that the sentiment of the country is entirely with him, and whatever a small knot of Gentlemen below the Gangway, who think this is a proper moment to embarrass and attack the Government, and to use such language as that which has been just applied to the distinguished diplomatist the Government have selected to represent the nation—whatever they may do, from the great body of the House of Commons, the Government will receive that support which they deserve in maintaining the character and interests of this country.


said, he had not the least intention of taking part in the debate; but it was really a little more than the most peace-loving Member of the House could submit to, to be patronized as they had been by the hon. and learned Member who had spoken last. Events had happened very rapidly within the last few weeks; but hon. Members would remember one evening when, standing at that Table, the hon. and learned Member had banged the desk before him until pens and papers hopped off it in all directions, whilst he warned the Government of what he was going to do—when he went down to see his constituents at Oxford, the country was to be roused. That was not a moment of absolute tranquillity, and the Government had asked for £6,000,000 in order to strengthen their hands. "But," said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "you shall not have one penny until you tell me whether you are going to adopt the policy of a Castlereagh or of a Canning, and how exactly you are going to re-arrange the interests and pretensions of the conflicting races of Bulgaria." Now he tells the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he is not to answer Questions asked of him by the hon. Member for christchurch, certainly more gently and politely than those which were put by the hon. and learned Member before he went down to Oxford. Next he told them they were not to venture to criticize the conduct of the Envoys of England abroad. Yet it was only on the night before last that the hon. and learned Gentleman and his Friends spent a long evening and sustained a humiliating defeat in endeavouring to discredit and denounce our Ambassador at Constantinople. That was too much. The hon. and learned Gentleman thought that by standing at that desk and assuming a condescending and magnanimous tone towards the Government, he was patronizing them and defending them from their supporters below the Gangway. Hon. Members were told, above all things, that they must not single out for attack one Member of the Government beyond another; and they were further told that a speech made by one Member of a Cabinet must be taken to have the sanction of the whole body. Now, what happened at Oxford? Was it possible that the hon. and learned Gentleman had forgotten how he sat by when his former Leader assured the world that he had spent 18 months in denouncing the conduct and obstructing the policy of the Prime Minister of England; that he (Mr. Gladstone) could not bring himself to believe that it was the policy' of the whole Cabinet. Then it was Lord Beacons-field, now it was Lord Derby. Perhaps it was because Lord Derby was in the ascendant now that the hon. and learned Gentleman offered that noble Lord his patronage. The policy of the Government—except, perhaps, for one moment, and one moment only—had, up to the present, been united, and there was not a shadow of foundation for these accusations of divergence of views in the Cabinet. The hon. and learned Member was trespassing a little too much on the memory and on the patience of the House, and the goodwill which the House always bore towards him, for the eloquence with which he often delighted them—though, no doubt, it was from a rather exalted station that he usually condescended to enlighten and edify his humbler fellow-countrymen—when he required them to sit and listen to a speech which, if it had any object at all, was intended to incense the supporters of the Ministry below the Gangway against the Government. Who was it, when the danger was critical and the necessity for supporting the Government urgent, who used his utmost efforts to embarrass the Government in their endeavours to preserve peace? It was the hon. and learned Member. But the consequences of that visit to Oxford had had a very healthy effect upon the hon. and learned Member, and ever since he had sat comparatively quiet in his place; but, when he thought that he had the chance given to him by the right hon. Baronet and the hon. Member for Christchurch, he was eager again to hold his sharp lance aloft and clash into the fray. With that noble and condescending manner he knew so well how to assume, he came down now to patronize the Government against their insubordinate supporters. He (Mr. Plunket) did not believe that at that moment the Government required the patronage of the hon. and learned Member. No doubt, when they did want his support, they would get it! Meantime, he hoped the hon. and learned Member would appreciate how very grateful they all felt for the assistance the hon. and learned Member had so frankly and patriotically given to them. He would not say a word against Lord Lyons or Lord Derby. Certainly, every hon. Member was entitled to make any inquiries he pleased; and, on the other hand, he thought the Government had a right to answer only such Questions as they considered they could answer with propriety. He, for one, was not going to press the Government for any premature disclosure of what they were doing; and if they thought it not advisable to make any statement at the present moment, he was sure the whole House, and no one more than the right hon. Baronet who had initiated this debate, would be satisfied. Hitherto they had from point to point kept the House fairly and fully informed, and he was sure in the future they would continue to enjoy the approval and support of the great majority of that House and of the people in the course they might decide to take.


Sir, I am quite sure that the House will feel that there is something a little inconvenient in the discussion which has been raised. At the same time, I am bound to say that I do not in the least degree impute to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel), or to others who have taken part in this discussion, the slightest intention of embarrassing or annoying the Government. I can quite understand that they feel—and the House feels, as the country feels—very great anxiety at the present time. I can quite understand that the anxiety which is felt at so great a crisis naturally leads to the expression of sentiments, and to the putting of questions which are a proof of that anxiety; and I do not in the least believe that what we have heard to-night has been intended to convey any opinion of want of confidence in the Government. On the contrary, I should rather be inclined to accept the remarkable string of Questions, put to us as a proof of the confidence which my right hon. Friend places in us—that is to say, in our power and determination—whatever Questions are put to us, not to say anything which may be contrary to the interests of the country; and, therefore, I trust that in the same spirit in which I receive the Questions they may be received by the House. I stated at the beginning of the evening our general view with regard to the principles upon which we were to enter the Congress. I said that we were to enter the Congress, reserving our full right of individual action and decision on the matters which came before it; that if we were in a minority, we were not to be bound by. the decision of the majority; and I stated further that England would require that the whole of the questions involved in the Treaty concluded between Russia, and Turkey should be brought to the knowledge of the Congress in such a manner as to enable the Congress to take them into its consideration with the view of deciding upon them. I think I cannot say more than that, because the whole covers the parts; and it is unnecessary, and somewhat inconvenient, after having made a statement as a whole to be called upon to say what we will do with reference to this particular item or that particular item—"Do you, or do you not, intend to register that which has already been done; or, before you go, do you intend to have a voice and consider the question?" I say, of course, if it is a matter involving European or English interests, we shall claim to have a voice in the discussion of it, and we shall not accept as practically concluded against us points which have been settled without our having a part in settling them. I cannot say more than that, and I do not see there is any use in repeating it. I trust, therefore, Sir, that I may be excused.

from entering into detail on the questions which have been raised. Now, with regard to the Question which the right hon. Baronet has put as to the selection of our Representative, I must ask the House to believe and consider that in all these matters the Government is acting as a whole, and that the Representative of England, whoever he may be—whether it be the Foreign Secretary, or Lord Lyons, or anybody else—will be there as the Representative of the united Cabinet and Government of England; and it will be in the name and under the instructions of the Government of England that he will take his share in the Congress. I think it is both unnecessary and inconvenient that any Questions should be put to go behind that responsibility. If any valid reasons could be adduced against the selection of Lord Lyons, I admit that it might be a fair thing, in this House, that those reasons should be stated; but, really there have been no such reasons given; and I can most assuredly say that Lord Lyons stands in the highest position in our Diplomatic Service, as the senior of our Ambassadors, as one who has held the highest posts, as one who has had practical acquaintance with Constantinople, where he was an Ambassador for some time—all these positions which he has held in our Service must necessarily make him familiar with all that has been going on during the last two or three eventful years, and will enable him to represent the Government in the most perfect, and, we are satisfied it will be, in the most able, manner. I may also say, although I do not think it is necessary I should touch upon such a point—I may venture, as the right hon. Baronet has raised the question of the personal opinions of Lord Lyons, to say that from communications I have had myself with Lord Lyons, I know it is incorrect to represent him as holding such opinions as have been imputed to him, and that it is altogether incorrect to suppose he has taken any position which would be antagonistic to the views which have been held and expressed by other Representatives of Her Majesty's Government. I know that those of our Representatives who have had a share in the conduct of these affairs are perfectly satisfied with him, and fully admit that no man is better qualified or more thoroughly to be trusted in such a matter than Lord Lyons. But, Sir, it is really not a question at all of what the personal opinions of Lord Lyons are. He is a man eminently fitted for any diplomatic business. He is one who will conduct the negotiations placed in his hands with dignity, with tact, and with a perfect acquaintance with diplomatic usages, and a most complete knowledge of the relations in which he stands to Her Majesty's Government. I wish it to be clearly understood, that from the beginning to the end, whatever may take place, Lord Lyons will represent Her Majesty's Government at the Congress, and that it is not he, but they, who are responsible to the country. I will not attempt to follow the noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu) into some of the topics he has touched upon. I own I was rather surprised that he should have allowed himself to make use of one or two of the expressions which fell from him. And, especially, I do not think it ought to go forth to foreign countries at such a moment as this, that such expressions have been used in this House, as that the British Fleet is in such a position that the Russians could within 12hours destroy or capture it if they chose entirely deny that statement, and regret that at such a moment the noble Lord should endeavour to damage his country That statement is not patriotic.—


Mr. Speaker, I must rise to a point of Order. The Chancellor of the Exchequer imputes a motive to me. He says that my statement about the Fleet was an endeavour to damage my country. I never intended to do anything of the kind. What I endeavoured to do was to save the country from the bad management of Her Majesty's Government.


I will, then, withdraw the expression "endeavour to damage his country," and I will accept his own view—that his language was an endeavour to save the country; but I leave it to the judgment of the House whether it is an endeavour likely to be successful. At all events, I will venture to say that in my view true patriotism rather consists in supporting your country, unless you are prepared to challenge and withdraw your confidence from the responsible Ministers of the Crown, and to relieve them of that responsibility. Sir, we have had a most difficult task to perform. We have, at the present moment, a task of the very gravest difficulty, and we do appeal to Parliament—we do appeal to the country, if they are still disposed to trust us with the administration of affairs, not to weaken our hands. I think I need say nothing more upon the particular questions that have now been raised; but I do wish before I sit down to speak very earnestly to the House upon the position in which we stand at the present moment with reference to the Business of the House. It cannot escape the attention of many hon. Members, that in this attempt to strengthen our hands, the House is practically stopping our proceeding with the Navy Estimates, and that we are in a state of very great difficulty and embarrassment; because until we get the first Vote in the Navy Estimates—until we get the Vote which will give us the number of men—it is impossible for us to proceed with the Marine Mutiny Bill. Time is drawing on, and my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is now charged for the first time with the duty of bringing forward the Navy Estimates, at a most critical period in the history of the country, has been endeavouring, but without success, to get into Committee and to bring forward the Navy Estimates. At a time when it is most important that our Naval Force should be in proper order, he has for two nights been endeavouring to get into Committee, and his statement has not been made. Now, it will be impossible to give my right hon. Friend Monday for going on with this question; because on Monday it is essentially necessary that we should take the Supplementary Estimates. There are Supplementary Estimates for the Naval, Military, and also for the Civil Services, and these must be taken on Monday next; because, unless we sit on Saturday, that is the last day on which these Estimates could be taken in order to carry through the necessary measures for voting the money and passing the Bills before the close of the financial year. Therefore, we are in this position. It is too late to go on with the Navy Estimates to-night, and unless we can by some arrangement induce the House to agree to go on with them to-morrow, we shall be thrown over for another week. The position is very serious indeed. I do not deny the natural anxiety of Members to take the opportunity of bringing forward subjects in which they are interested, and I do not deny that a great deal of interesting matter has been advanced in the preliminary discussion; but hon. Members must be good enough to look at this question as a whole, and consider in what position the House is placed. I am not making this appeal in the interest of the Government, but really in the interest of the public service. I trust we shall be permitted to put down the Navy Estimates for to-morrow, and that it will be possible for us to proceed with them.


said, that perhaps he might be allowed to support, to the best of his power, the appeal which had been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In justice to those who sat on that—the Opposition—front bench, he must say that, although some of them took great interest in naval questions, not one of them had risen to speak on those subjects that night, as they were most anxious that the First Lord of the Admiralty should make his statement. He hoped that to-morrow the House would go into the Navy Estimates at as early a moment as possible.


did not object to the appeal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but wished to point out that the Members below the Gangway, who were so often charged with obstructing the Business of the House, were not chargeable on this occasion with having caused any unnecessary delay.