§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT,
in rising to call attention to the action of the Government in connection with the affairs of Greece, and to move—That Her Majesty's Government, by their encouragement to the Greeks to mobilize their Army, by their injustice to Turkey, and by their refusal to publicly advise Greece to moderate her excessive demands, have alienated the Mussulman feeling of the East, have imposed overwhelming burdens upon the Greek Nation, and have tended to disturb the peace of Europe,said: Sir, at the outset, I wish to protest against the character of the Papers on the Greek Question issued by the present Government. They are of a singularly meagre character, and from the end of January to April there is not a despatch of any kind whatever among them. This is without precedent. I also wish to protest against the manner in which the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs replies to Questions addressed to him. His style and language is certainly more endurable than the vacillating and helpless answers of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, than the verbose, confusing, and incomprehensible replies of the Prime Minister, or than the turgid prolixity of the Postmaster General. The language is unobjectionable, but the matter is invariably inaccurate. My charge against the Government is briefly this—that by their unwarrantable encouragement to Greece, official and unofficial, they have raised hopes that could not be fulfilled, that they have been the means of involving that misguided State in tremendous military preparations and a crushing expenditure, and all to no purpose; that they have alienated Turkey by their unjust and unprovoked persecution; and that they have disturbed the whole East of Europe, and rendered a general war, if not imminent, at all events possible, and perhaps even probable. They have run this terrible risk out of sheer wantonness and without any 2016 necessity. They wished to reverse the policy of Lord Beaconsfield, and to discredit the action of the late Government; so they took up the cause of Greece as a stalking-horse, without reflection and without discretion, and they have ended by producing there, as everywhere else, general confusion. They have effectually got rid of old allies, and they have disgusted and acquired the hatred of the people whose cause they affected to espouse. For what is the fact about the negotiations between Greece and Turkey? That now in the month of May, 1881, they are pressing upon a reluctant Greek Ministry the very terms which might have been obtained from Turkey six months ago—yes, and 10 months ago—without cost or risk of war. They are now obliged to do what every sensible and impartial politician in Europe has been predicting for the last eight months they would have to do—urge upon Greece to moderate her demands and to be contented with the very generous offers of the Porte. Let hon. Members read the despatch of the Porte of October 3rd, in Blue Book No. 2, and see what Greece might then have had without trouble. How much has Greece gained by the delay? Advantages, if ally, not appreciable. What has she lost by the month after month of war-fever and expense? £6,000,000 at least of money, an amount as great for her scanty population as £250,000,000 would be for England; 80,000 men taken from their natural industries, and kept in enforced idleness while they are being drilled into combatant machines. Other Powers warned Greece and warned Her Majesty's Government, months ago, that the line suggested by the Berlin Conference could not be carried out. Yet the British Cabinet adhered to it with pernicious obstinacy through thick and thin, and refused to advise Greece to be moderate, until at last, brought face to face with the almost certainty of war, they have hurriedly beaten a retreat, reversed all their previous advice, and done what France did four or five months earlier. Why had not Her Majesty's Government followed the praiseworthy example of M. St. Hilaire, the French Foreign Minister, whose admirable Note to Greece of December 28, 1880, conveyed such sound warnings, and made such a profound impression upon Europe? Simply because they 2017 were so wedded to the monstrous off-spring of their injustice, the line of their ridiculous Conference of Berlin, that they could listen to neither reason nor justice. In August last the British Government formally withdrew the advice of the late Ministry against Greek mobilization. It was said that Great Britain was the last to take that most foolish and disastrous step; but what evidence could the hon. Baronet allege in support of this statement beyond the statement of M. Tricoupi, the Greek Minister? Even if it were so, to withdraw advice against mobilization was a most unfortunate step. For what did it mean? It was a practical incentive to war, and so it had acted. Governments do not say—"Arm and attack your enemy." That is too gross and outspoken a method for modern diplomacy. But when one Government says to another, "We no longer advise you not to mobilize your army," its practical effect is—"We do not object to your going to war;" and so the Greeks understood it. Even in so serious an act as this the British Government appear to have allowed themselves to get into some confusion, for they seem to have believed M. Tricoupi, that "mobilization meant the training of untrained men." At all events, from this moment the Greek Question assumed a new and menacing aspect, as such questions always do when inflammable material in the shape of large bodies of hostile and armed men are brought face to face. This encouragement of Greek mobilization was the chief blunder of the British Government. Now, at last, they were literally compelled to menace Greece with all sorts of penalties, unless she accepted about three-fifths of the Berlin line, after they had all along urged her to take nothing less than that line. Was it any wonder then that the feeling in Greece now should be, as one of her most ecstatic friends, the Correspondent of The Standard, had written on April 5th—European diplomacy has worked Greece up to fever heat, and Greece refuses to swallow the palliatives Europe, for its own convenience, now proposes to administer?What had the conduct of Her Majesty's Government cost the other party to this dispute, the long-suffering, reviled, much-abused people of Turkey? What preparations had they been compelled to make? What cost had their exhausted Treasury been put to in consequence of 2018 the inflammatory policy of the English Cabinet? It would be too much to expect the right hon. Gentleman to consider any sufferings of Turkey in this or any other matter; but when they wanted an Ally in Europe or in Asia, they would realize their folly. First, there was their boasted concert of Europe. This is a plausible phrase invented to satisfy those timid people who never had the courage to have a policy of their own. It originated in the attempts of the Liberal Party, in 1878, to suggest some counter policy to the manly and successful action of Lord Beaconsfield in checking the aggression of Russia. It has also been very useful to the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, as a shield behind which to hide the policy, or want of policy, of the Government, and to avoid giving plain answers to inconvenient Questions. Any real "concert of Europe" could not exist at present, and never had existed. When the nations of Europe were all armed to the last man, watching each other with the utmost keenness and anxiety, and ready, as the past 25 years had shown, to take advantage of each other's weakness or perplexity for individual aggrandizement, what likelihood was there of any practical "concert" to accomplish any really important results? A perusal of the Blue Books would show that there never was any real concert, that independent action was being constantly taken, and, what was most curious, that the British Government had almost invariably been the principal obstacle in the way of "concert." Once, and once only, had there been something approaching to concerted action. The famous Naval Demonstration, that never dared to demonstrate, had united the Powers in a brief appearance of a common movement. Their only achievement was the conspicuous fiasco of Dulcigno. After six months of despatch-writing, 10 weeks of demonstration by 20 great ships and 135 enormous guns, some 8,000 Albanians were transferred from the rule of a Sovereign they preferred to that of a Prince they detested. That was, perhaps, the most signal instance of disproportion between the means adopted and the results achieved. But what was the truth about this flash in the pan of a "concert," which rendered its participators, and especially its originators, ridiculous from one end of the world to 2019 the other? Not that it was a means to an end, and that end the settlement of the Montenegrin Frontier, as it professed to be, but that it was an end in itself, or rather the means of keeping up the pretence of a concert which did not exist. This is made clear in a despatch of Sir Henry Elliot to Lord Granville, of November 5th, in which Baron Haymerle, the Austrain Minister, is reported to have said that the "Dulcigno Demonstration was only necessary for the maintenance of the concert." In other words, it was to gratify the caprice of the Prime Minister of England that Turkey could be bullied with impunity, and always yielded to force. The negotiations relative to the Dulcigno Demonstration showed long ago the hopelessness of the "concert." The process by which the appearance of union was established has been laid bare by the Austrain Red Book. First, Russia and England put their heads together and agreed to try to bring the rest of the Powers into their net. The British Cabinet, for the first time in history, played the dishonourable rôle of henchman to the cruel despotism of St. Petersburg. Then they got Italy with them, only too glad to air her spick-and-span men-of-war in such big company. The relations between the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and M. Gambetta secured the support of France, for moral coercion at all events; though, as the sequel showed, when it came to action, the French Government showed a most desperate reluctance to move. This very nearly upset the Demonstration at starting. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and Russia thus got two other Powers more or less with them, and so put Austria and Germany in a minority. What happened is worth particular notice. The British Cabinet declared itself prepared to go on with its demonstration with Russia and Italy alone, France being friendly, but not joining. Such a course would have been fatal to European peace. Russia would have, by hook or by crook, succeeded in doing what she so much wished—putting the torch to the magazine of mischief she had so carefully prepared throughout South-Eastern Europe. Italy was by no means averse, for she has always hoped, in a fresh scramble, to pick up some of those titbits which, to her bitter and unconcealed 2020 chagrin, did not fall to her lot at Berlin. Once start this conflagration, and Austria and Germany knew perfectly well it would never end without a struggle of nations such as Europe has, happily, not seen since the wars of the First Napoleon. So, not being able to prevent the follies of the British Cabinet, they joined in the Demonstration, to control and moderate it. That there never was any real concert is perfectly plain from the disclosures of the Austrian. Red Book, and from the tone of the whole German and Austrian Press right through the crisis. First of all, Austria distinctly refused to assent to the Fleets appearing off Dulcigno, or to armed ships' boats going up the Boyana river. These proposals might fairly have been construed by Turkey as acts of war. They were simply, as proposed by the British Cabinet, the most detestable of all modern artifices—unofficial warfare. In them the Prime Minister took another leaf out of the book of his favourite Russian instructors. Austria further limited the number of each Squadron to two ships; and both Austria and Germany made a distinct declaration that they would consent to no active measures, either to place the Montenegrins in Dulcigno, or to keep them there when once they were in occupation. Then followed the courageous refusal of Turkey, last October, to be bullied. The friendly intervention of the German Powers, assisted by France, was a Deus ex machinâ to the British Cabinet in the forlorn plight to which this open resistance of Turkey reduced them. There was no longer any question of demanding the immediate surrender of Dulcigno. The Turkish Government were to have unlimited time. They were not to be pressed in the least. And so it came about that even after the concession made by Turkey, owing to the separate action of two Powers, five or six weeks elapsed before the completion of the transfer. Let this be marked by those who are disposed to crow over the success of a coercion policy, that it was only after six months of diplomatic pressure, three months of actual demonstration, and volumes of Notes, remonstrances, and counter-pleas, that "the concert" of six Powers extracted from Turkey—what? Not a cession of territory to Greece, not reform in Armenia, not Constitutional Government, not a 2021 purified Administration at Constantinople—none of these things; but the surrender of a small Albanian village on the Adriatic, with a few thousand inhabitants, to the satellite and instrument of Russia! Then they made the Smyrna proposals, about which so little has been made known. Austria, Germany, and France absolutely refused to have anything to do with the monstrous piracy and robbery suggested. Russia was most anxious to go on with her promising game, which was to bring about a war with England on the wrong side, and so to destroy, in a single campaign, the fruits of three generations of English statesmanship. Then came, as I have said, the private and separate influence of Germany and Austria at Constantinople, supported by France in the interests of peace. There was no nonsense of "the concert" about it. It was simply friendly and diplomatic pressure, exerted in the old-fashioned and accustomed way, independent of the Triumvirate who were in favour of reckless coercion. If the Porte gave up Dulcigno unconditionally, the interceding Powers engaged to give up the Demonstration, and to allow ample time for the settlement of the Greek Question. These Greek Papers illustrated further proofs of absence of "concert." First, the proposal of England to extend the Demonstration to the case of Greece was promptly declined; and even the ingenious proposition that the squadrons "should arrange a place for call" was refused. In October, Austria, Germany, and France were urging Greece to be prudent, and to suspend her military operations. Lord Granville was in a state of the greatest surprise, almost of indignation. He hastily saw all the Ambassadors of Foreign States, and wished to know the exact tenour of the advice given to the Hellenic Government, and reminded Prince Bismarck and Baron Haymerle that they were pledged to the Berlin Conference. In a very humble - minded interview with General Menabrea on November 11th, Lord Granville denied that "the European Concert" was broken up, "although it was possible that it might at any moment terminate." All of the Powers, meanwhile, had given Greece sound advice. On November 3, Prince Bismarck sent Herr Radowitz as Special Envoy to Athens— 2022To explain to the Greek Government his views as to the necessity of abstaining from precipitate action.On November 8, Baron Haymerle in-sisted—That the tension in which Europe had been kept should come to an end.….After the experience we had had of the resistance of Turkey to the most trifling territorial cession, he would deprecate insisting upon further sacrifices….What now was most required was breathing time, which would allow the excited feeling throughout the East to calm down.And the Austrian Envoy made strong representations to this effect at Athens. On November 8, Lord Lyons informs Lord Granville that M. St. Hilaire, the French Foreign Minister, had said to him—That a Naval Demonstration would be wholly inadequate to the Greek case, and that the French Government could not consent to any such measure;and, further on, that—The Greeks were trying to force the hand of Europe by crossing the Frontier.….That the French Government had sent instructions to their Representative at Athens to urge the Greeks in the strongest terms to be patient and quiet.Italy also gave like advice on December 15th; and even Russia, who all through these Blue Books acted as the warm admirer of Gladstonian policy in the East, felt bound to warn Greece of her folly. M. de Giers hoped all thePowers would impress on Greece the absolute necessity for prudence. Any rash step might promote a conflagration the limits of winch no man could foresee.All this was six months ago. Had England joined this concert of remonstrance, it would have been effectual. It is not surprising that the British Government was agitated at finding that the other Powers were making pacific remonstrances at Athens, when we read in a despatch of November 18, from Mr. Corbett, the British Minister at Athens, that—In accordance with your Lordship's instructions, I have scrupulously abstained from giving the Greek Government any advice as to the employment of force by Greece to obtain possession of the Frontier recommended by the Conference of Berlin, though both M. Tricoupi and M. Coumoundouros were anxious to ascertain the views of Her Majesty's Government on the subject, and both showed a disposition to be guided by their advice.Here is the British Representative at Athens actually forbidden to give Greece 2023 the peaceful advice she almost craves, and which Greek Ministers "were anxious to be guided by." When, reluctantly, Lord Granville affected to concur in the general peacefulness, it was with this strange proviso—which altogether nullified the good intentions and neutralized the value of the efforts of the other Powers—thatGreece was to be placed in no worse position by such advice than she had held under the Conference of Berlin.This begged the whole question. The object of Germany, France, and Austria was to get the Hellenic Government to take less than was so foolishly there suggested for her. The Prime Minister's Cabinet, blindly wedded to their pet Conference and its scheme, held out to the last minute; and now, in May, 1881, are obliged ignominiously to recommend Greece with threats to accept three-fifths. Her Majesty's Government stated over and over again that they would not withdraw from what they called the decision—there really was no decision at all—of the Conference at Berlin. In a Note of last October, the Ottoman Government declared that it would evacuate Dulcigno only on the following conditions:—First, that the Naval Demonstration was not to be repeated; secondly, that Janina and Metzovo were excluded from the territory demanded for Greece; and, further, that the Porte should be assured that the Powers renounced definitely the application then and for the future of all forcible pressure on the Empire. That pressure has been renounced, and I do not think it will be again repeated. All these points have been since conceded by Her Majesty's Government and by the Powers. They might have been obtained with ease six months ago, but for the opposition of the British Government. Greece and Turkey would have been saved great expense, and Europe much alarm, and imminent danger of war. Then there was the arbitration proposal of the French Government in December last, a very sensible and promising plan for bringing both parties to refer their differences to the five Powers of Europe, and agree to be bound by their decision. This was immediately accepted by the other Powers. England alone held aloof. Three times had the French Minister in London to beg Lord Granville to join in the "Concert of 2024 Europe" on this subject. Week after week was Mr. Corbett left without instructions; and then, finally, when he was allowed to join the other Envoys in their advice, it was with the same reservation that nothing less than the Conference Frontier should be recommended. Lord Granville's first observation regarding the Arbitration proposal was "that there was not much likelihood of the Powers" agreeing to it. Then, when the remarkable Circular of M. St. Hilaire, of January 7th, to the European Governments was made known to the British Cabinet, Lord Granville sent a despatch all over Europe, and in it actually denounced the arguments of the French Government as "Turkish reasons," without at all answering them. M. St. Hilaire, the French Foreign Minister, very properly replied that, whether they were Turkish reasons or not, they were sound and valid, and he adhered to them. That was a sample of the fairness of Her Majesty's Government towards Turkey. Finally, when arbitration failed, owing to the obstinate refusal of the Greek Government, encouraged by the action of the British Government, to make any concessions, Lord Granville could not conceal his joy. He informed the French Minister, on being told that it had failed, that "they were not premature in abandoning the scheme." So much for the "Concert of Europe," and the part played by Her Majesty's Government in that notable farce. In the next four months, we have no information whatever afforded by Her Majesty's Government. There is the unique and unprecedented fact that between the early part of January, 1881, and the end of April, 1881, not a single Paper has been issued. The reason is not far to see. Doubtless the gradual increase of the peril, the warnings of the Powers, the obstinacy of Greece, the ruin and cost of the warlike preparations, the slow and painful process by which the Prime Minister of England and the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the President of the Board of Trade were brought to acquiesce in the opinions expressed by the other Powers five months before and even longer, are too awkward and unpleasant reading for Her Majesty's Government to lay before Parliament. The suppression of 70 pages of the Austrian Red Book—to effect which Sir Henry Elliot had been sent post 2025 haste to Pesth—was not more necessary for the reputation of the British Cabinet than the silence of their new Blue Books. They would not confess the absolute failure of their Conference at Berlin. The first effort of the new Government was that as Lord Beaconsfield had held a Congress, so they must hold a Conference. It was to settle everything off-hand, and do that in a fortnight which the late Government had failed to do in as many years. All went smoothly enough at first. By intriguing with "Republican France and free Italy," the Prime Minister's Cabinet got an unusual majority for its boundary line. Austria and Germany opposed it, but did not long resist, feeling sure that their time would come, and that the ridiculous failure of the exorbitant demands of the British Government would soon be made manifest. Lord Granville's piteous despatch of April, 1881, is their practical confession of failure. Read between the lines, it is the last moan over the blighted off-spring of their hopes, the Berlin Conference, "the Concert of Europe," and the Naval Demonstration. "The Turkish reasons," so derided, have prevailed. The confession of failure is embodied in a despatch of April 6th from Lord Granville to Mr. Corbett—The course of events have shown that these anticipations were of a sanguine character. The feeling of the Albanians created a difficulty which would in us be overlooked.This is a valuable concession, for it is the first time Her Majesty's Government have admitted that Mussulmans have any feelings at all, or that, having them, such feelings are entitled to the slightest respect; but this very Albanian resistance was what every impartial critic inside and outside of Parliament had been predicting for 12 months. The cruel fiasco of Dulcigno has aroused a spirit of indignation throughout Albania which has lately culminated in open rebellion and serious bloodshed. The Dulcigno Demonstration did not settle, it only aggravated, the Albanian difficulty. Again, the despatch goes—"The opposition of the Porte became more marked." Another important admission. Formerly, Turkish opposition counted for less than nothing. It only existed to give the British Premier a chance of bringing the Porte down on its marrow-bones by main force. 2026It soon became evident that all Europe was not prepared to insist on the line laid down at the Berlin Conference.…..This line could only be acquired under present circumstances to Greece as the result of a successful war against Turkey. This would be ruinous to Turkey, and scarcely less fatal to Greece. … Her Majesty's Government, though they would have preferred a line more nearly approaching that of the Conference, yet they feel it their duty to press upon Greece in the strongest manner the acceptance of the present arrangement.Precisely so. But why did they not make this discovery and press this advice four, six, or eight months before, when they might have saved their proêtegé untold troubles and expense. The indisposition of the Powers of Europe to go to extremities was perfectly evident in October, November, and December of last year. It is remarkable to notice how closely the arguments used by Lord Granville on April 6th, 1881, resemble those used by M. St. Hilaire in December, 1880, and January, 1881, which arguments the British Cabinet denounced as "Turkish reasons." The French Minister well retorted that they were all the same "sound reasons;" and so sound were they that they won the victory in the end. In this and a preceding Note of April 6th, there is an attempt made to show that the terms finally offered to Greece were "decided upon by the Powers," and given as "an award." The Collective Note, however, of the Ambassadors at the Porte, dated April 19th, disproves this. It says—After a full examination, the Representatives of the Powers at Constantinople unanimously concluded that the last proposals of the Ottoman Delegates might supply the basis of a solution. ….. These conclusions are henceforward formerly substituted by the Powers for those of the Conference of Berlin.The truth being that the proposal of the Porte last January to re-open the negotiations by a Conference of the Ambassadors at Constantinople—and denied at the time by the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreigh Affairs for fear its admission should seem to throw a doubt on the infallibility and irrevocability of his favourite Berlin Conference—had been carried into effect, and, after long negotiations, the latest offer of Turkey had proved acceptable. Europe and England thus formally urged Greece to take two-fifths less than the Berlin Conference had suggested. The efforts of the British Foreign Office to 2027 substitute the words "award" and "decision" for those of "mediation" and "suggestions," and that with regard to both the Congress and Conference, are very amusing. In this respect they closely followed the example of the ingenious, but not ingenuous, Government of Greece, who always spoke and wrote of the conclusions of the two Assemblies as if they were "final awards." The Turkish Government, however, alive to its rights, and to the facts of the case, have never accepted these assumptions, and have always repudiated, quietly and with dignity, the attempt to get in the thin edge of the wedge of authoritative interference. The hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and his Friends were always trying to assume the right of perpetual interference. But no such power was conferred by the Treaty of Berlin. This was made perfectly evident by the masterly argument with which M. St. Hilaire exposed the fallacies of the Greek claims in his Circular Despatch of January 7th, and in his Letter of December 28th:—In both Assemblies, that is, the Congress and Conference of Berlin, the Powers neither wished to be, nor were, anything but mediators; their intention was to facilitate negotiations between the interested parties; they had no wish to go and they had not gone beyond this. They had not, as the Greek Government assumed, a sentence to be executed, for they had no right to take by force that which had not been conceded by the legitimate proprietor. Europe could not dispose of Crete, of Epirus, and of Thessaly, because Europe does not possess them, It had simply counselled Greece and Turkey to arrange a rectification of frontiers, and she had indicated what seemed a practical line.Then, quoting Vattel, M. St. Hilaire says—A mediator is not a judge. He is a conciliator. He must observe an exact impartiality. His vocation is to procure peace. This is exactly what the Conference of Berlin did, and as mediator it could not do more.He then proceeds to point out howGreece has interpreted matters quite differently, and persisted in this erroneous interpretation.He adds—Greece has not right on her side, and the aggression which she meditates is nothing but a gratuitous attack on the Law of Nations. She is not even menaced by Turkey, for the Porte only puts itself on the defensive against the attack which Greece announces.2028 Further on, M. St. Hilaire, after warning Greece of the fatal consequences that will result from her folly, ruin to herself, and in all probability a general war, says—The mediating Powers have never accorded to Greece the right to seize by open force the territories which have not been legitimately conceded to it. Nations must guard themselves no less than individuals against these egotistic illusions.In the Circular of January 7th, after quoting in detail the phraseology of the Congress and Conferences, M. St. Hilaire says of Protocol 13 of the Berlin Treaty, which offered mediation to facilitate negotiations—Nothing is clearer than the different texts; their sense is not susceptible of the slightest equivocation. Europe never had any intention of regulating the property in territories which did not belong to it.Of the Conference he writes—It had no title to change nor to modify any of the intentions and stipulations of the Congress. But in effect the Conference absolutely did nothing more than execute the benevolent mediation offered by the Congress.It suggested aFresh line on the advice of the International Commission, which might prove more acceptable to the two parties.And so and so forth. I recommend every Member of the Greek Committee—and particularly the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold)—to read these two despatches of the Foreign Minister, and to answer them if they can. Nor does M. St. Hilaire stand alone. Baron Haymerle, on November 4th, said that the Austrian Government—Had never assumed the responsibility of acquiring for her the new frontier which had been laid down, not as a line to be enforced, butt as one upon which to mediate, and for the carrying out of which the Powers were as little pledged as to any of the other provisions of the Treaty of Berlin.In this view Prince Bismarck concurred. This large cession of what Lord Granville calls "very fertile territory" to Greece, so long offered by the Porte, and now at last accepted, is, in fact, an act of pure grace on the part of Turkey, and one for which, as made by a stronger to a weaker Power, without a war, and without any compensating advantage, Turkey deserves the gratitude of Europe, as made in the interests of public peace. The Under Secretary of State for 2029 Foreign Affairs is distinguished for the inaccuracy of his replies in this House. There is his famous statement as to the recall of General Skobeleff, introduced to point his arguments in a critical debate, which has been disproved. The hon. Gentleman made a speech at Chelsea in December last, every statement of which relative to this question was inaccurate. First, he said that the French proposed the Berlin Conference. A reference to these Papers will show that the British Government on May 4th, 1880, proposed an Identic Note to the Porte, and on May 11th proposed the Conference, before France had made any mention of it. It might be that France had over a year before, and to a different English Government, made some mention of a Conference; but there was no continuity in the proposal. This was an entirely fresh proposition on the part of Her Majesty's Government. Then there is the statement of the hon. Gentleman that the initiative properly belonged to France, and that she, rather than England, was responsible for what had happened owing to "the Concert" and the Demonstration. What was the opinion of the two French Foreign Ministers upon this extraordinary assumption? On August 4th, M. de Freycinet, in refusing to draw up the Collective Note to the Porte proposed by Great Britain, said—With respect to the Greek Frontier Question he could not admit that the initiative remained with France. Her initiation entirely ceased from the period of the Berlin Conference.And M. St. Hilaire, on November 8th, in objecting to the continuance of the Naval Demonstration, writes—A Naval Demonstration would be utterly inadequate in the Greek case, and the French Government could not consent to any means which could be construed as pledging them to use their naval forces for settling the question of the Greek Frontier.Yet, in spite of these emphatic declarations, the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs did not shrink from telling the English public that the chief responsibility rested with France, a sentiment which was re-echoed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds (Mr. Herbert Gladstone). It was true that Lord Granville himself, and through his agents abroad, made frantic efforts to get the French Government to assume the lead and the responsibility.
2030 Mr. Adams, the Chargé d'Affaires in Paris, after stating what an elaborate argument he had entered into to persuade M. de Freycinet to take the lead, says—I then made a strong appeal to M. de Freycinet in favour of your Lordship's request, and I expressed the earnest hope that the French Government should draw up the collective rejoinder.Subsequent attempts to entrap the French Ministers proved equally unfortunate, and the Collective Note, which met with such an effectual rebuff from the Porte, was drawn in London. Then there are the repeated inaccuracies of the hon. Gentleman with regard to the proportions of the Christian and Mussulman populations in the district proposed to be ceded by the Berlin Conference. On one occasion he stated that only one-seventh were Mussulmans. As a matter of fact, at least three-sevenths of the total are Mussulmans, and of the remaining four-sevenths, by no means all are anxious for union with Greece. The assertion seemed to be made on the authority of Mr. Kirby Green, who was a sort of stalking-horse for the hon. Baronet.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
denied that he had ever quoted Mr. Kirby Green as an authority. He had quoted others—Sir Lintorn Simmons and Captain Sale—but he had not quoted Mr. Green.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
I will accept the statement; but the hon. Baronet, who has spent his political life in denouncing the civil and military servants of the Crown, has gone out of his way no less than three times to eulogize Mr. Kirby Green, and that is enough to make others suspicious. What personal acquaintance has Sir Lintorn Simmons with these countries? It is like the hon. Baronet's (Sir Charles W. Dilke's) famous statement that most of the people of Dulcigno were Christians, whereas there is hardly a Christian in that district. When challenged to give details as to the population of certain of the chief cities, the hon. Baronet had egregiously failed, alleging as his excuse that he had the details for the whole districts, but not for the principal towns. But that was clearly inconsistent, and showed the unreliability of all the hon. Gentleman's figures. If any estimates would be accurate, they might be expected to 2031 be those for the large centres of the population whose amounts could be readily ascertained and checked. The hon. Baronet was, however, too wise to give details. I can, however, help the hon. Baronet. Taking Larissa as one of the chief towns in which the hon. Baronet stated the Greek population is in a majority, I find a Return of Mr. Consul Longworth, which states that there are 9,000 Mussulmans, 4,000 Christians, and 5,000 Jews—figures which are totally opposed to the estimates of the Government. Again, the hon. Baronet found grave fault in his Chelsea speech with Lord Salisbury, for stating that the entente cordiale with Austria and Germany had been broken by the present Government, and that the paramount influence of Russia and of France had been substituted. This is a notorious fact. The Government of Lord Beaconsfield had, in order to secure the carrying out of the Treaty of Berlin, and to preserve the balance of power in Europe, and to check the aggression of Russia, formed an alliance with the only two stable Powers of Europe—the great German States of Central Europe. This was an effectual guarantee for the peace of Europe; for no counter combination could be strong enough to defy such an alliance. But no sooner had the present Government come into Power than, in their anxiety to overthrow everything done by their Predecessors, they at once set to work to make fresh alliances. The admiration of the right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister for Russia, her Rulers, and everything connected with her despotism, is notorious. Then there are subsidiary preferences, such as that of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for an eminent French statesman. The hon. Baronet has, indeed, avowed his desire of carrying out a fresh policy in conjunction with what he calls "Free Italy and Republican France"—the old Republican tendencies of the hon. Gentleman once more asserting themselves even as a Minister of the Crown. The influence of Russia has been but too evident. The British Government wished to deal with the Greek Question first of all; but, in deference to the strong wishes of the Czar on behalf of his interesting protegé, the Prince of Montenegro, the least important clause of the Berlin Treaty had been put in the forefront, and 2032 the painful and absurd blunder of Dulcigno had been perpetrated. In the course of the Greek negotiations, the only Power that displays any cordiality towards the British Government was Russia. They have managed by their weakness and injustice to alienate "Republican France." "Free Italy," with much judgment, holds aloof from the complications their folly engendered. Russia alone is bursting over with affection. "She rejoices to accede to the British proposals." M. de Giers expresses "the warmest feelings of cordiality towards Her Majesty's Government." "The Russian Government are most anxious to do all in their power to act with the British Ministry;" and so forth. As to the changed feelings of Austria and Germany towards England, since the change of Government here, they are perfectly well-known. They are evident from the tone of the whole German which was enthusiastic in its admiration of Lord Beaconsfield, and which is as unanimous in its condemnation of his Successors. Nor is it in Germany alone such a feeling prevails. In East or West—in America, in Asia, as well as in Europe, a similar estimate of the two Ministries is expressed. It is clear from these Papers, that the statement of the hon. Baronet that the Government is on perfectly good terms with Germany and Austria, is not supported by any evidence. Austria and Germany have, in a manner which alarmed Lord Granville, taken the initiative in advising Greece to moderate her demands. There is not a cordial word from Austria or Germany to be found in the Blue Books. The poor opinion Prince Bismarck holds of the present Government is a matter of notoriety; that estimate has steadily got lower and lower as he knows more of their incapacity. He has made it the subject of his common talk. I challenge the hon. Baronet to show a single instance in which the Austrian or German Government have shown any feeling of cordiality towards Her Majesty's Government. I charge the Government with having needlessly alienated the Turkish nation and the whole Mussulman feeling of the East. Hon. Members opposite do not regret this much. What have they got in exchange, however, for "the 500,000 of Ottoman warriors, who fought without pay and without reward?" Do they expect the 2033 wily and commercial Greek, the savage and truculent Bulgarian, the soft-hearted Servian, the wild Montenegrin, to be their allies in the future? If so, they will be grievously disappointed. The British people have not now a single Ally on whom they can depend in the troubles of the future. The name of Gladstone is associated throughout the whole East with persecution of the Mahometan religion and people. The course of the Government with regard to the Berlin Treaty has not tended to dissipate previous impressions. Of all the unfulfilled clauses of the Berlin Treaty, they have fixed upon those only which are to the loss of Turkey, and have totally neglected those which are in her favour. The Danubian fortresses are still standing; Russo-Bulgarian gunboats are still on the Danube; no tribute has been paid to the Porte by the Vassal Principalities; the Balkan line is still unoccupied by Ottoman troops; the Mussulman population is still oppressed and kept out of the enjoyment of its property. The mischief of this injustice is not only felt in Turkey alone, but it is working throughout the whole East. Do not let the Government imagine that in these days of rapid communication all these facts are not known to the Mahometans of India. The policy of the Government is having an evil effect among the 60,000,000 of Mussulman subjects of the Queen, and that is not a matter lightly to be disregarded. The Greek people, also, are most indignant at having been so grievously misled. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is now as unpopular in Greece as he is in Ireland. The feeling among the Greeks is much what the feeling of the Danes was in 1864 after a similar betrayal by a Liberal Ministry. As to the claims of Greece, and the policy of the Government with regard to Greece, I ask on what grounds they are based? They are based on the pretended right of Nationality, and on the fact that the majority of the population of the district are said to be anxious to transfer their allegiance to the King of Greece. The principle of Nationality is often an extremely dangerous principle. It is one which has received much mischievous development of late years, and has largely supplanted an older and more important principle, the principle of liberty. It often proves to be not only injurious to the public 2034 peace, but subversive of liberty. I am disposed to ask what has Greece done to show herself worthy of the immense claims she is now making? How has she used her 60 years of freedom? Greece incurred a Debt 40 or 50 years ago; why has she not paid her Debt? Why do the Greeks abroad, though rolling in wealth, not contribute to the satisfaction of her honour by paying their country's liabilities? The Greek Governments are little to be relied upon. No Ministry exists in Greece more than six months, if it lasts so long. Greek politicians are all dishonest and corrupt. Only four good roads exist in the whole of Greece. The country has been drained to make a beautiful capital. I have sympathies with the Greek people, and should be glad to see them get a moderate accession of territory; but why should gross injustice be done to Turkey in order to satisfy the extreme demands of Greece? The only hope for the future of the Greeks is the preservation of the Ottoman Empire in Europe. If Turkey is destroyed, it will not be the Greek people who will succeed her; but it will be the more virile Sclavonian races. No policy could have been more disastrous to the Greek race than that of encouraging Russia. The events of 1876, 1877, 1878, have been fatal to the progress of Greece. Previous to their occurrence Greeks occupied the highest position in the Ottoman Empire, and their intellectual superiority would soon have given them dominant influence throughout the Empire. But that influence has been destroyed, and the Russians and the Bulgarians have persecuted the Greek people, and driven them out of the Balkan Provinces. The Blue Books of the last three years are full of the complaints of the Greeks against the Russians and the Bulgarians. The Greeks, with all their intellectual refinement and commercial ability, are deficient in the virile qualities found in the Turkish and even in the Bulgarian people. The Turkish peasantry are, perhaps, the finest peasantry in the world; no people are so courageous, honest, and truthful, and religious; but I am speaking of the people, and not of the Government. The noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India laughs at that statement. [The Marquess of HARTINGTON: I did not hear it.] It is to be regretted that 2035 the noble Marquess pays as little attention to important statements—[Laughter]—as he does to the speeches of his own Colleagues. I challenge anyone to controvert my statement as to the good qualities of the Turkish people, the possession of which is affirmed by all who have had dealings with them. If the Greeks succeed in annihilating the Ottoman Empire in the present struggle, I warn them that they will do away with the only people who can assist them in resisting Sclavonian aggression in the future. It is only by a cordial alliance with Turkey that the Greek people can hope to survive the dangerous and difficult position in which they now find themselves. I am afraid that I have detained the House much too long; and I thank it for the patient and attentive hearing I have received. I regret that I have not been able, owing to the late hour of the evening, to do justice to the Blue Books. I could make a very large number of quotations which would be exceedingly awkward hearing for Her Majesty's Government; but I will not abuse the indulgence of the House. The policy of Her Majesty's Government has been unfortunate and disturbing, not only in Greece, but in every quarter of the globe, has alienated our Allies, has not obtained for us a single friend, and has tended to disturb the balance of power in Europe. The Greek Minister has, in public speech in the Parliament at Athens, given evidence of the disturbing effect which the advent to power of the present Ministry has had—The Party which came into power in England has publicly assumed obligations towards the English nation to work on behalf of the Greek Question. At once we set ourselves to work. …. We gave orders for war material, and we commenced then to negotiate a loan,So it is throughout the whole world. In Central Asia, the hasty retreat from Cabul and the weakening of the garrison of Candahar encouraged Ayoub's march, and led to the terrible disaster of Maiwand. In South Africa, the Boers, incited to rebellion by the reckless harangues of Members of the present Ministry, broke out into rebellion, and inflicted painful reverses upon the British arms. A war conducted with discredit has been concluded with dishonour. Even at home the same warlike 2036 and injurious effects have been produced. Ireland has been allowed to arm, and that country has, by the weakness, and worse, of the Ministry, been converted from "a state of unusual peace and prosperity" into a "condition that is a shame and disgrace to England in the eyes of the civilized world." The whole of the East has been stirred into action. From Kurdistan to Albania armed men have sprung into existence like Deucalion's crop; and no one can foresee the end of the present complications. The policy of Her Majesty's Government has produced anarchy at home and disturbance abroad; and if European war has been averted, it is in no way due to their action, but to the moderating influence of Austria and Germany. I beg to move the Resolution of which I have given Notice.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "Her Majesty's Government, by their encouragement to the Greeks to mobilise their army, by their injustice to Turkey, and by their refusal to publicly advise Greece to moderate her excessive demands, have alienated the Mussulman feeling of the East, have imposed overwhelming burdens upon the Greek Nation, and have tended to disturb the peace of Europe,"—(Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he was much astonished when the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) originally gave Notice of his Amendment; but he was still more amazed when he found the hon. Gentleman intended to bring it forward that night, because the statements of the Amendment were, he was sorry to say, of a piece with the hon. Member's speech—that was to say, they were statements which most undoubtedly could not be borne out in fact. The speech of the hon. Member had been, indeed, very wide of the Amendment, because he not only discussed the transfer of Dulcigno, which was not mentioned in the Amendment, but he had alluded to the affairs of Central Asia, of the Transvaal, of Ireland, and other portions of the world. No one could obtain the slightest information as to the nature of his speech from the words 2037 placed upon the Paper. Neither was it possible for him to understand that the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) intended to devote a great part of his remarks to a speech which he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) made in Kensington in December last. The hon. Member did not inform him that he intended to refer to that speech; otherwise, he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) would have refreshed his memory. He was the more astonished that the hon. Member should have brought forward that Amendment to-night, because, a few days ago, the country was addressed through the Press by the Leader of the Opposition in that House; and, although the right hon. Gentleman made a most elaborate and lengthy attack on the conduct of the Government, he refrained from saying a single word upon their conduct of foreign affairs. He rather gathered from the tone of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, which embraced not only Colonial, Home, and Irish, but other questions, that he did not omit foreign affairs from any desire to omit them, but because he found no criticism which he could justly apply to them.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
said, he must beg the hon. Baronet's pardon. He (Captain Price) was present at the meeting, and the right hon. Baronet made the most distinct allusions to the affairs of South Africa.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that the Department he represented had no responsibility for South Africa. The hon. Member for Eye, in referring to the speech to which he had alluded, ascribed to him words which certainly he had never used. The hon. Member, speaking of what he said with respect to Germany and Austria and our relations with those Powers, told the House that we were entirely out of harmony with them and received no friendly assurances from them.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, he disputed the accuracy of the hon. Baronet's representation of his remarks, and would like him to state what the words were which he (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) had quoted from the hon. Baronet's speech. He had merely stated that there were no friendly assurances from the Powers contained in the Blue Books.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he was unable to write down all the 2038 hon. Member's words; but the words in which he undoubtedly misrepresented him were when he said that he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) desired to substitute an alliance with Italy and France for the general concord with the European Powers. The hon. Member had not given the reference, and he confessed that he was unable to follow him.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, he had not referred to that particular speech. He could not state the exact date on which the words were used, but they were quoted by the correspondent of a Hungarian newspaper, and also appeared in all the English papers. The words of the hon. Baronet amounted to an announcement that the Government intended to pursue a policy "in accord with Free Italy and Republican France."
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, lie had never had any communication with the correspondent of a Hungarian newspaper, and had never seen anything purporting to be a report of anything of the kind. The hon. Member had forgotten the mode in which the last phase of the Greek Question had been approached. The present settlement of the Greek Question had, according to the opinion of all the Powers, been reached by an agreement at Berlin between Mr. Goschen and Prince Bismarck, which led to the united action of Germany and England. [Mr. ASHMEADBARTLETT: When?] That was when Mr. Goschen returned to Constantinople and visited Berlin in the course of his journey. In the closing words of his speech, the hon. Member had used very unjust and ungenerous language with regard to the Greeks—language that was out of harmony with that of the Leaders of the Conservative Party, and at variance with the declarations of several Members of the late Government, including the late Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the late President of the Board of Trade, the late Postmaster General, and the present Leader of the Opposition in that House. The statements of the hon. Member did not coincide with what those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen had said. When the hon. Member had compared the conduct of Greece to that of a burglar or a footpad—[Mr. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT dissented.] He had quoted the words of the hon. 2039 Gentleman, which he had taken down at the time.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
rose, amid loud cries of "Order!" and said, that the hon. Baronet was misrepresenting him. He, therefore, felt bound to correct him, and explain what it was he really had said. He had said that the arguments of those who defended the Greek claims on certain grounds were arguments that might have been used by burglars or footpads.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
replied, that those were arguments that had been used by the late Government, who had maintained that Greece deserved the consideration of her territorial claims on account of her conduct during the late war. The hon. Member had also spoken of Greece in a disparaging manner, on the ground that brigandage was still rife in that country; but the fact was that, on the contrary, Greece had earned credit for having purged herself of that curse. ["Oh, oh!"] At any rate, no case of brigandage had occurred in Greece during the political recollection of the hon. Member. Again, the arguments of the hon. Member as to the present position of Greece were at variance with the view taken by Baron Haymerle, the Minister of Austria, his favourite Power, whose language was wholly inconsistent with that of the hon. Member. Then, to pass on to another point. The hon. Member had, in more than one part of his speech, made merry over the statistics of the Foreign Office, while his own figures were far less trustworthy. He had spoken, for instance, of the massacre of 1,000,000 of innocent people in Bulgaria—a statement wholly contrary to fact, but on a par with the romantic character of many passages in his speech. He was sorry that his criticisms on the speech of the hon. Member were necessarily so discursive; but that was unavoidable, as the hon. Member had not kept to the terms of his Motion, but had delivered all the speeches that he ought to have made on the four occasions on which he had had Notices in the Order Book. It was to be borne in mind, however, that the hon. Member had not always been fortunate enough to find an opportunity of bringing on his Motion, and had, therefore, been compelled, during the hour in which he had given unmixed amusement to those who sat opposite him and pain to his 2040 own Friends, to compress all his speeches into one. Then the hon. Member told the House that the result of our policy would be the destruction of the Turkish Empire, and that the destruction of the Turkish Empire would be the annihilation of the Turkish race.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he took down the words at the time the hon. Member uttered them. The hon. Member shook his head when he told him that he had spoken at considerable length of the Dulcigno incident. The House was informed by the hon. Member that there was a ridiculous disproportion between the force displayed and the result achieved. In point of fact, however, the transfer had been successfully accomplished and carried into effect. And when the desired result had been achieved, we ought not to be too much disposed to talk about the disproportion of means to ends. The hon. Member had stated that many thousands of Albanians had been transferred from the Government which they preferred to the rule of a Government which they detested. There was no shadow of a foundation for that statement. Her Majesty's Government were officially informed that there was now no portion of the population of Dulcigno that had permanently left the town or the district in consequence of the transfer. The few families—under 20 in number—who left the town in order to avoid the transfer had now returned, and nothing could be more popular than the Montenegrin rule in the district of Dulcigno at the present time. Again, the hon. Gentleman told the House that the concert, of Europe had broken down, and that the result was obtained by Austria and Germany, and not by the other Powers. It was on record, however, that it was the proposal with regard to the Smyrna scheme that induced the Porte to consent to the Dulcigno proposition. The hon. Member's account of the transactions with regard to the Greek Frontier was as romantic as his account of the Dulcigno affair. In one portion of his speech the hon. Member attacked Her Majesty's Government for having promoted the concert of Europe, and in another for having destroyed it. In regard to the charge that Her 2041 Majesty's Government encouraged the Greeks to mobilize their Army and went beyond the other Powers in this direction, he must once more place the real facts before the House. Her Majesty's Government having been informed that the Greek Government intended to mobilize their forces, Mr. Corbett was instructed on the 7th of July last to inform the Greek Government that Her Majesty's Government considered such a step to be premature. On the 28th of July, as it appeared that all the other Powers except England had withdrawn their objections, Her Majesty's Government were unwilling to incur the responsibility of imposing their advice on the Greek Government, and they then ceased to press them any further to abstain from issuing the proclamation, if they thought it necessary to do so. The Greek Minister so informed the Greek Chamber on the 29th of July. The same statement was repeated to Mr. Corbett on the 30th of July and the 3rd of August. M. Tricoupi stated in the Greek Chamber on November 10, that—All the Powers one after another ceased to represent to the Greek Government that they were opposed to the issue of the mobilization decree, and, last of all, England gave up its representation concerning the postponement of the mobilization.On January 1, 1881, Mr. Corbett was instructed to support the arbitration scheme, not only on the ground of the general objections of Her Majesty's Government to a war,The necessity for which might be avoided by peaceable means, but on the particular risk and danger both of war and even of preparations for war in the present case.On February 17, 1881, Mr. Corbett told the Prime Minister, in reply to his statement that the King was advised to call out the Reserves at once, that the proceeding appeared very ill-timed, and pressed upon M. Coumoundouros the importance of explaining clearly to the country and to the Powers that the step contemplated was not meant as a menace against Turkey. M. Coumoundouros assured Mr. Corbett that explanations should be given in that sense, which was done. [Mr. ASHMEADBARTLETT: That is not published.] It would be published. So much for the statement that Her Majesty's Government pressed Greece to mobilize her forces. He thought, however, it would 2042 be impossible to convince the hon. Gentleman by any argument. It was not easy, perhaps, to keep up the concert of six European Powers; but when it was maintained its action was as valuable as it was difficult to secure. Her Majesty's Government had succeeded in saving Europe from war, both immediately and in the future. The hon. Member had taunted the Government with having failed in obtaining a sufficiently advanced frontier for Greece. At any rate, Her Majesty's Government had obtained a far better frontier for her than the hon. Member and those who thought with him would have done. They had secured for Greece 14–20ths of the population she sought to obtain, and the most fertile of the Provinces she had asked for. The hon. Member had raised the question of the accuracy of the Foreign Office statistics, and had been peculiarly severe upon Mr. Kirby Green; but it must be recollected that that gentleman had the confidence not only of the present Government, but of the late Government, and that he never had any connection whatever with the Greek Frontier Question. The figures on this subject, to which the hon. Member had objected, were supplied by the late Government. The hon. Member had also attacked Sir Lintorn Simmons, who certainly knew more on this subject than any other man in Europe. The hon. Member had taunted the Government with having brought about universal war, whereas, in fact, they had brought about universal peace. It was true that the area of freedom secured was less than the Government had expected to obtain; nevertheless, Her Majesty's Government had constantly been on the side of the greatest possible extension. They had prevented war, and had done so by means that he was satisfied did not deserve the censure of that House.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
could not but regret that the hon. Baronet (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had marred the general effect of his speech by commenting upon the supposed ignorance of his adversary of that French language of which he intimated that he himself was such a proficient. On the whole, he (Mr. O'Donnell) considered it was at least open to the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to suppose that the hon. Member for Eye was of opinion that a document in the French language, though quite open to the com- 2043 prehension of the Liberal Party of the House, might not be equally clear to the electors of the country, and, consequently, that where Blue Books in the French language professing to explain the general policy of the Government were put in circulation by them, there was a certain difficulty among true-born Britons in following that policy. He would admit that if they kept an eye on only one of the policies offered by Her Majesty's Government on Eastern Affairs, the explanation offered by the Under Secretary was cogent and convincing; but the fact was, that the Government had at least two policies with regard to Grecian matters. There was the official, above board, behind the Table, which was always observable in the able and convincing statements of the Under Secretary when Questions were put from that (the Conservative) side of the House; but, then, alongside of this policy on Grecian affairs was what he might call the Greek Committee policy. The Under Secretary, whose dexterity in dealing with foreign affairs he himself had had some reason to admire, doubtless had convinced the House that the Government never encouraged the Greeks to expect extensive concessions from Turkey, and had never encouraged the armament of Greece. Strictly speaking, in an official manner, this could be proved; but there was the awkward fact that, at this moment, the popular Press in Greece was complaining that the "Gladstone" policy had misled them—that, owing to that policy, as explained by such credited Representatives as Lord Rosebery, for instance, the Greeks had been led to mortgage their remaining resources, to plunge themselves in debt, and to call out all their male population, the result being that they only obtained about half that which Her Majesty's Government—if not officially, at least unofficially—gave them to understand they would secure by agitation. In the manipulation of diplomatic documents by the Government, everything had depended upon the position of a comma; but it was not by the position of a comma that the world at large would judge the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to Eastern affairs. It so happened that the Greek Government believed that Her Majesty's Government were prepared at one time to back them up through thick and thin; and he strongly 2044 suspected that Her Majesty's Government would have done so, only for that inconvenient default of the French Government just in the nick of time. When Her Majesty's Government thought they were going to begin a crusade against the Turks, France said that not a shot should be fired by her in support of the belligerent policy of England. Undoubtedly, as the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock had said, there had been other declarations besides those of Lord Rosebery which had misled the Greeks. He did not refer to the utterances of that all-important Member of the Liberal Party, the Member for Salford, but there had been the speeches of the Colleague of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. No one who had read in the magazines statements as to the part the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) had taken in obtaining the success of the Liberal Party through his marvellous caucus organization could doubt that, when the President of the Board of Trade addressed the men of Birmingham, and assured them of what England was going to do for Greece, the Greeks who read his sentiments must have believed that one of the most important Members of the Liberal camp was giving them the pledge of Liberalism—and, of course, the Greeks were not supposed to be as fully acquainted as hon. Members were of the value of the pledges of Liberalism. Of course, it was not necessary to follow the discursive reply of the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs too closely; but he might point out to him that it really was hardly an argument to lay before the House of Commons, even at this advanced hour of the night, to say that the people of Dulcigno were in favour of being transferred to Montenegro, because so very few of them had consented to be torn from the land of their birth and take up a settlement in some other part of the Ottoman Empire. If the Under Secretary was capable of that argument he might, with equal justice, argue that because the Irish population did not emigrate to America on masse, therefore, the policy the Government of that country represented was in the highest possible favour in Ireland. The hon. Member for Eye might not have been able to pin down Her Majesty's Government to official statements, espe- 2045 cially when it could be easily shown that even when official statements had been forthcoming, and when attempts had been made to pin then down to those statements, they had replied on another tack. The general belief in Europe was that Her Majesty's Government had directly encouraged the Greeks to expect more than they got; and that after promising mountains, Her Majesty's Government had been obliged to agree to a policy in which the Greeks had obtained only little more than mole-hills. It was said that England and Germany had taken the initiative—had gone hand-in-hand in arriving at a triumphant settlement. But there was more than one way in which two persons could take the initiative. For instance, there was this way—Prince Bismarck, seeing the difficulty Her Majesty's Government were in, put out his strong arm and tucked under it the Representative of British Foreign policy, and carried him in the way the German Chancellor was going. That might be described as "England and Germany taking the initiative;" but he was afraid that, beyond being an official explanation, the statement would not be of much value. With the few trifling exceptions that he had ventured to point out, he agreed, generally, with the explanations of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Question is "That I do now leave the Chair." As many as are of that opinion say "Aye;" contrary, "No."
§ MR. SPEAKER
I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member who challenges the division wishes to keep me in the Chair.
I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. I do not wish to keep you in the Chair; but I submit that the Motion should not be allowed to be withdrawn.
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. and learned Member desires a division on the Question, that is another matter. The Question is "That I do now leave the Chair."
§ EARL PERCY
I should like to ask you, Sir, what position are we now in? As I understand it, the Motion of the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) has been negatived, and the present Question before us is "That you do now leave the Chair."
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.