§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT,
in rising to move, that—This House condemns Her Majesty's Government for their neglect and mistakes which have brought about the War in Egypt, and especially for the Bombardment of Alexandria without a landing force sufficient to have saved life and property, and considers that the Foreign Policy of the Government has alienated the Allies, and weakened the influence and power of the country,said: Sir, the country is now fairly involved in a war in Egypt. There are some 25,000 troops, British and Indian, in that country, or on their way to the valley of the Nile. The estimated cost of a three months' campaign is already over £4,000,000 sterling. Such estimates are generally far under the real cost. Ministers cannot bear to forecast the full consequences of their blundering. It will be well if the country escapes with a fresh debt of £10,000,000. Now, there are reasons why, even at this last moment of a weary Session, a criticism of the foreign policy of the Government should be made, and there are especial reasons on this present occasion. Events move rapidly in our age. The causes of catastrophes are often forgotten in the panic of defeat, or amid the tumults of victory. Much is forgiven to a Ministry that can struggle out of a serious crisis, even if those troubles be of its own creation. But there are other reasons why some reference should be made to the general policy of the Government. The real difficulties and problems of this Egyptian crisis are but beginning. No one doubts the ability and power of England to crush the ad- 1876 venturous soldier—be he self-seeking rebel or unselfish patriot—who has centred in himself the forces of the ancient land of the Pharaohs. But when you have chased Arabi from his entrenchments your worse embarrassments will begin. You will have to settle the future of Egypt. You will have to decide the control of the Suez Canal; and here you will encounter ambitions more resolute and unscrupulous and forces more potent than the arms of Arabi, or than the opposition of the Ottoman Government, whom you have been alternately bullying and cajoling, according to the most approved methods of a Liberal Ministry. No one will envy the Cabinet the task of settling the various claims and rights which they have professed to have in view—the Sovereignty of the Sultan, the power of the Khedive, the aspirations of the Egyptian people, the rights of the bondholders, and, let us add, a fifth, which the Prime Minister always omits if he can, the interests of the British Empire. Will you be able to pare away, as you no doubt hope to do, the Sovereignty of the Sultan? Can you bolster up on his Throne an unpopular Khedive whom the bulk of his own people detest because of your support? Can you give a fanatical and ill-educated nation the control of their own destinies and finances, which you have already refused them? If you do, what will become of the Khedive, your protégé, and of the bondholders, your countrymen? How will you settle the vast claims from European and Native owners of property which will arise out of the destruction of Alexandria, brought about by your bombardment, and other wider claims which will arise if the Egyptian Army, in despair, should destroy, as it undoubtedly is able to destroy, the whole of the accumulated property of every kind in the Delta of the Nile? Is Egypt, already impoverished and drained by usurious engagements, to be further saddled, when she can least bear them, with the charges arising out of these losses? Above all, what are you going to do with that white elephant of your own creation which you have conceived, nourished, petted, resuscitated, and brought to a monstrous development of mischief, which has hung like a millstone round your neck, hampering you at every step, embarrassing you with suggestions, plans, modifications, and control—I mean your Conference, fit emblem of your 1877 "Concert of Europe?" You are already realizing some of the consequences of these imaginative escapades of an incoherent genius; but I will venture to prophecy that in another six months' time you will be as sick of your "concerted action" as you have become of your boasted "joint action," and as anxious to wriggle out of your Conference as you have lately been to get rid of your entangling co-operation in doing nothing with France. Nothing is more amusing than the steady discomfiture of the Government in every dodge they have resorted to. I use the word advisedly, for there has been no policy in the whole business, but merely a succession, of pitiful dodges, each taken up rashly, tried with feebleness, and abandoned with haste and without dignity, as the Ministry have been made to realize its impotence. "Joint action" with France was the first of these weak expedients. That was meant to free the Ministry from the necessity of that cooperation with the "anti-human Turk," which bad been the traditional and successful policy of English statesmen. "Joint action" had a varied and a troubled existence. It was from the first a sickly bantling, though M. Gambetta's force of character and clearness of aim, dragging, as it did, your helpless shift-lessness along with it for several months in leading strings, gave it a temporary appearance of life, which soon faded away when dread of a European war caused the fall of that aggressive politician. "Joint action" received its death blow when the French Fleet steamed away from Alexandria and left you to do the work alone. Its funeral service was the refusal of the Vote of Credit by the French Assembly and the fall of the Ministry of M. de Freycinet. Her Majesty's Government had from time to time kept up a kind of sham flirtation with the Ottoman Government, which took the form of pretty speeches as the warm fit came on, accompanied by a steady current of underhand abuse and of intrigue and counter action on every question of moment. When, however, "joint action" became an awkward embarrassment, they had recourse to an old love, "the Concert of Europe." This myth, which the ridicule and asbestos géloso of Dulcigno had all but exploded, was now trotted out, and eulogized before the 1878 British public as a magnificent resource. There was in the Conference more than the mere pomposity of the idea and theatrical display of "the Concert." Her Majesty's Government, who never think or see more than a fortnight, if so far, ahead, thought they might rid themselves of the troubles of their impracticable "joint action" behind the shield of their Conference. But they only exchanged the whips of France for the scorpions of concerted Europe. In a month's time they got weary of their second artifice, and tried to cut the Gordian knot with the unsheathed sword of England alone. The Concert bothered, baulked, delayed them, so they bombarded Alexandria—that is, they had resort to "independent" and, more or less, "resolute" British action. This is one-half the policy I urged upon them six months ago, in February last, when they scoffed at my advice and ridiculed my predictions, all of which have been verified. The other half the Government profess to be about to adopt, though with reluctance—I mean, "co-operation with the Ottoman Government." However, as usual, the Ministry adopt even the right policy at the wrong time, and without any provision or precautions. They commenced hostilities without securing any allies, in the way most ingeniously chosen to give offence to everybody and to benefit no one. They irritated the Egyptian Army, without intimidating or overwhelming it, and they destroyed the forts without protecting the town or the life and property within its walls. They insulted the Conference they had summoned by beginning war without its mandate or even its consent; they injured the Porte by a flagrant contempt for its Sovereignty; and they give Arabi, by their ill-judged action, tenfold greater force, and turned him from a mutineer into a National hero. But this is not the last of their expedients. Isolated action is all very well for the guns of our iron-clads; but when it comes to a war, and a war which threatens to arouse the furious religious passions of Islam against England, the largest Mahomedan Power in the world, the Government begin at the twelfth hour to realize the importance, nay, the absolute necessity, of an understanding and co-operation with the Porte. So they are now professing to carry out the second half of the policy, which even so 1879 inexperienced a Member of this House as myself urged upon them in February last. The irresistible logic of facts has forced upon the Government slowly, reluctantly, and at a terrible cost, the only policy which, from the first, could settle the question, bristling as it does with the gravest dangers. That policy cannot be better described than in the words of a resolution which was passed at a great meeting of the Patriotic Association lately held in this City—"A resolute and independent British policy in co-operation with the Ottoman Government." But, I repeat, at what a terrible cost has the present Ministry found its way into the right path, which lay equally open to them in August, in October, in February, even in June and July last. All might then have been settled easily, without bloodshed and without expense. Beckon up the danger and agitation, the immense destruction of material wealth in Egypt, and the injury to her creditors; the cost of this unnecessary and ill-omened war in human life and in money; the infinite complications arising out of it, the danger of a European war not yet by any means past; and the sum of the charges which we advance and can prove against the Government will be, in some measure, arrived at. In a word, we charge the Government with having caused this war by their incredible neglect and still more incredible mistakes, and with beginning it at the wrong time and in the way most fruitful of danger. The excitement of the combat, the National pride in the display and valour of the Queen's Forces by land and sea, the desire to support the Government at a crisis, may drown for a time the recollection of these truths; but when the cool time of reflection comes, when the bill for the follies of the Cabinet has to be paid, then truth will be acknowledged. I am not referring to these points as a mere matter of criticism. The past is gone, and cannot be recalled. But the same errors will be repeated unless the Government listen to wholesome advice. They must reverse their whole European policy if they are to free the country not only from this war, but from greater perils. They must revert in their general policy, as they have already been forced to do in so many important details, to the far-sighted and statesmanlike policy of their illustrious Predecessor, Lord Beacons- 1880 field. I make bold, Sir, to say this, and feel justified in doing so, inasmuch as I warned the Government, both in August and February last, of the dangers they were provoking, and my warnings have in all respects been borne out by subsequent events. The Prime Minister answered me in a contemptuous formula, "affirming everything that I denied, and denying everything that I affirmed." It was a convenient form of reply for the moment, but it does not read quite so well now. I affirmed that "the Concert of Europe" was a delusion, and that any reliance on it could only embarrass and entangle England in her foreign relations. That has come true. I affirmed that the attempt to politically co-operate with France in the affairs of Egypt and of the Mediterranean in general was impracticable, and could only lead to weakness and dissension. That has been proved ten times over. I affirmed that the Prime Minister was committing a deplorable mistake in his policy of injustice and persecution towards Turkey, and that the only way in which we could secure our power and influence in the East was by a recurrence to the friendly alliance of Lord Palmerston with the Ottoman Empire. The Ministry, by their present action, are admitting this. I referred to the value of Cyprus, a subject on which the Prime Minister was at the time quite ecstatic in his ridicule, and I called attention to the immense gain to the country by the statesmanlike purchase of the Suez Canal Shares. These have both been demonstrated. But the question upon which I laid most stress was that of alliances, and this has been the principal blunder of the Government, and very largely the cause of all their troubles and humiliations. The late Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster preferred, he once said, "friends to allies," and from him such a sentiment is at least comprehensible. The Home Secretary, with his charming capacity for adopting any side of a question, said that he did not think very highly of allies, which, coming from a Minister whose Government was completely isolated, was at best a "fox-and-grapes" kind of statement. But there was something that the right hon. and learned Gentleman did value, and that was the "sympathy of emancipated peoples." It is interesting to note how effective such random talk as this is with the mass of 1881 the followers of the Party opposite. It was, no doubt, accepted as a noble and philanthropic sentiment in accordance with the highest behests of that moral law whose principal apostles have of late had a slight divergence of opinion. But, Sir, when you consider of how little practical value to this country is the sympathy of the races to which the Home Secretary referred—the savage and cruel Bulgarian, the wild Montenegrin, the treacherous Greek, or the unlovely Armenian—compared with the alliance of two intelligent and powerful nations such as those of Austria and Germany, the measure of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statesmanship may be obtained. But the Government subsequently showed that they were not insensible to the advantage of alliances by the Mission which they sent to Germany, in the person of the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), with reference to the Dulcigno Question.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
I think the hon. Baronet is disorderly in interrupting me. He will have an opportunity of replying afterwards.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
Then, I will say the communications which the hon. Gentleman held with the German authorities upon that question. It may even be that the right hon. Gentleman did not conduct negotiations at Berlin at this precise date; but he went there on at least two diplomatic Missions. My belief is that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) endeavoured to bring his Government to a fuller appreciation of the advantages of a German alliance. Now, however, they are quite isolated and alone in Europe, and that is the principal cause of their present troubles in Egypt. I beg the attention of the House very briefly to this question of alliances. It is in this point that the Government most conspicuously reversed the policy of Lord Beaconsfield, and, I repeat, this has led them into their principal difficulties. 1882 Alliances are necessary to England. As compared with other nations, we are an unwarlike nation, and it is necessary for us to secure stable allies. The Treaty of Berlin was based upon the arrangement between the German Powers and England, which compelled Russia to modify her pretensions, and to yield up more than half the fruits of her barbarous crusade. Lord Beaconsfield found Europe almost help less he fore the Kaiser-bund. It was his greatest achievement that he isolated Russia from her two powerful allies, and put England in the place of England's most dangerous foe. The alliance of England, Germany, and Austria was an invincible combination. It not only secured the fulfilment of the Treaty of Berlin, but it was a guarantee for the peace of Europe and for the interests of Great Britain, for it gave England an active voice in the counsels of the master spirit of European statecraft. There was this further and most important recommendation, that in itself such an alliance possessed all the elements of stability and permanence. The interests of Germany, Austria, and England are very largely harmonious and coincident; at least, they are identical in a sense in which the interests of England are not coincident with those of any other European State. All three Powers want peace. None are now aggressive. All have a common interest in checking the ambition of those two great disturbers of public peace—the military despotism of Russia on the one side, and the restless and unsettled democracy of France on the other. After all, mutual interest is the best guarantee of international alliances, and this bond exists between England and the German Powers. But, Sir, none of these things affected the Prime Minister and his Colleagues. When he took Office he had but one purpose in view, and he moved onwards, to use a phrase of his, "marching, as if to drum and fife, ohne hast und ohne rast," to his end. That end was to reverse everything Lord Beaconsfield had done. The state of Ireland, the state of Egypt, the agitation in the East, the isolation of England, all show now how well he has succeeded. The insult to Austria gave the key-note to a complete change of policy and of European combinations. The British Cabinet, flushed with victory at the Elections, unhampered with know- 1883 ledge, and reckless of results, rushed with light heart into counter plans. The pride of Germany should be humbled. Prince Bismarck should be taught to keep his "hands off." Was there not "Free Italy" and "Republican France"—Italy, the darling of the sentimental associations of the Prime Minister; France, the Democratic Republic so dear to the President of the Board of Trade and to the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs? Would not these, together with the Colossus of the North, the true ideal of all crusading enthusiasts and pseudo-humanitarians, be a match for the German Powers, and enable you to do without the allies chosen by your hated rival? For a few months all went merrily. The full measure of your incapacity was not taken even at Berlin. You held your Conference, and outvoted Austria and Germany there to your heart's content. You signed away the territory of the "anti-human" Turk to Greece and Montenegro, as if you were sporting with an Indian Budget. You heeded, not the remonstrance of the German Chancellor, who told you that you were demanding impossibilities. In a few months you had brought Europe to the verge of a general war. You had to recede from nearly half your demands, and to reflect that your ill-advised schemes had cost Greece some £7,000,000, a distressing mobilization, and a Ministry, in order that she might be forced to accept that which she might have had six months before without expense. You were only saved from a general conflagration by the refusal of Republican France to participate in your piratical schemes against Smyrna and the Dardanelles. That was the first blow. The second came in 1881, when Italy, with her usual sagacity, deserted your bootless friendship and went over to the German Powers. Russia, to a certain extent, made her peace soon after with Germany, and you could no longer rely even on so undesirable a friend. As to France, her action has been so much bound up with this Egyptian Question that I shall not refer to it here. Even France, for whom you have sacrificed so much, has at last thrown you over. You are now alone. It is worth noticing, however, that your sham friends did not go away empty handed. Russia took advantage of your credulity to bring her forces 500 miles nearer your 1884 Indian Frontier, and to annex a fertile and valuable region. France occupied Tunis, increased her influence in the Mediterranean, refused you the Commercial Treaty, and would, but for events in no way due to your action or wisdom, have used you as the catspaw to establish herself in the land of her ambition—the fertile valley of the Nile. Meanwhile, Germany was assiduously cultivating the friendship of the despised Turk, whom you were persecuting. German officers and financiers were supplanting English, and the great Chancellor gained what you threw away—the alliance of a Power that can put into line 500,000 of the finest troops in the world. So the net result was this. You rejected the splendid alliances of Lord Beaconsfield; you tried others, but your allies first deceived you, then profited by your weakness, and finally deserted you. Now you are quite alone. This has been the first cause of your perils. The controlling forces of Europe have been against you. You have been met and countered at every point by the will of the greatest statesman of the age, in whose grasp you are as young children trying to pull the tail of a mastiff. Do you think that the Germans saw with anything but hostility your close union early in the year with that Chauvinist Republican, M. Gambetta? Was Prince Bismarck going to permit you to involve England in a "joint action" with his country's enemy which might add the force of England, sooner or later, to the foes against whom he is ever labouring to secure Germany? A leading German paper, under the inspiration of Prince Bismarck, wrote—M. Gambetta gives his full assent to Mr. Gladstone's policy, hoping that it will afford him an opportunity for creating a conflict between England and the Austro-German allies.The whole of the German Press was instantly on the qui vive as to French aims. But M. Gambetta fell, and you were saved from worse dangers, into which you were plunging with the levity of ignorance, and your "joint action" collapsed. Perhaps you did not recognize the hand behind the scenes that said check to M. Gambetta's ambition and to your weakness; but you had better recognize it now, or you will fall into still greater evils. Do you think that the very warm language which the Prime Minister, 1885 the Under Secretary of State, and the President of the Board of Trade, who are really responsible for the policy of the Government and its mistakes, used towards the French Republic during the last Egyptian debate, was not noticed at Berlin? So long as you try to intrigue with France you will be countered, and effectually countered, at Berlin. You can only secure the success of your plans by re-establishing the understanding with Germany which Lord Beaconsfield left you. Otherwise everything you arrange will fail. You will find fresh difficulties which cannot be provided against rising up at every point. At one time it may be the Conference, at another Turkey, at a third Russia, at a fourth Italy, at a fifth the sudden secession of France; but until you restore the main principle of Lord Beaconsfield's policy—a cordial co-operation with the German Powers—you will find nothing but failure and vexation of spirit. Twice, if not three times, has the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon, by his Missions to Berlin, persuaded Prince Bismarck to drag you out of the mire. Be warned in time, and avert the necessity for a fourth appeal ad misericordiam. So much for the general policy of the Government, which has undoubtedly led to their misfortunes in the particular crisis which we have to meet, and has caused the weakness of the present Cabinet in its attempts to deal with the Egyptian Question. Now, there are four crowning blunders which the Government have been committing, and been steadily repeating, all through this unfortunate business. The first is neglect of, and contempt for, and hostility to, the undeniable rights of the Sultan, who is Sovereign of Egypt, over that country. The second is the vain attempt to set up a "joint action" with France, whose interests are divergent from our own—that is, if we go one step beyond the internal financial administration. The third is indifference to the efforts of the Egyptian Chamber and people after self-government and lessened taxation. The fourth is that blunder which has marked their conduct in every point of their home and foreign policy—always being too late. They have never seen troubles and dangers which were patent to everybody else. They have refused to entertain any warning, however well-founded or reiterated. They have al- 1886 lowed perils to increase and accumulate by their delay until the difficulties of dealing with them have been made tenfold greater than timely action would have encountered. There are three very good reasons why a French alliance with regard to Egyptian and Eastern affairs is most undesirable for England. First, it can never be of any practical benefit to us. England and France are rivals in the Mediterranean and Egypt. They have been so for generations; and all the fine talking in the world will not lessen their rivalry. French ambition has long aspired to the domination of the regions of the Nile; and recently French arms have annexed a large territory in North Africa, not remote from Egypt. The dreams of the great Napoleon, all but realized, of Eastern Empire, have not been forgotten by modern French statesmen. Not only did British valour wrest Egypt in the early years of this century from the bayonets of Napoleon, but British statesmanship, represented by the sage and patriotic counsels of Palmerston in 1840, again thwarted the determined and all but matured scheme of M. Thiers for acquiring predominant control in Egypt. No one can read the recent speeches of French statesmen, and especially the astute utterances of M. Gambetta, without feeling that the same spirit still animates French policy. What said M. Gambetta only the other day in the French Assembly?—The Conference may decree a Turkish intervention. I think that would he the worst solution of all. Once the Turks are in Egypt, possibly with the collusion of other Powers, you cannot get them out, and then France may say good-bye to all her dreams of becoming an Eastern Power. And what most attaches me to the English alliance in the Mediterranean is that I dread that a possible rupture will open to England rivers and territories where your right to live and trade are greater than her own.In these sentences we see displayed the whole aims and instruments of French policy; the secret of their hostility to Turkey, in the dread lest Turkish power should punish France for her cruel aggression upon and oppression of Mahomedans in Algeria, and still more in Tunis; the dread of a breach with England, lest such a breach should, as it did in the great wars of Pitt and Wellington, give to England a vast amount of trade and wealth which France had hoped to keep for herself, 1887 The second reason why a joint action with France is now most undesirable for us is the extreme bitterness which exists, and naturally exists, between France and the Mussulman feeling of the East. This comes out strongly in every document and evidence in the Blue Books. It flavours every speech in the French Assembly and Senate; and it is most unfortunate that England should have associated herself with, and subserved so painfully, a Power that is now the bête noir of Turkey and of all Mahomedans. It is this injurious fact which has prevented the Sultan from being willing, or from being able, if he had been willing, to act with England in her policy towards Egypt. It is, therefore, an act of almost incredible folly for Her Majesty's Government to have associated themselves with a Power so detested by the Mussulmans. It was only the dread of a European war, and the terrible lesson that France had learnt from her war with Germany, that led to the failure of the "joint action" between herself and England—a joint action which, had it continued, would have ultimately led to a war between the two countries. The third objection to a French alliance is the extreme instability of French Ministries and of French policy. Some 20 Ministries have risen and fallen within the past decade of Republican Government. The British Government, early this year, pinned all their hopes to M. Gambetta. He was overthrown within three months, and their policy collapsed with him. France is really weak and unreliable to the last degree. Were our interests harmonious with hers, it would be rash to stake all upon an alliance with such a Government. As it is, it is simply madness to forswear the splendid and stable alliance with Austria and Germany in favour of the shiftless Republic. A further capital blunder which the Ministry committed has been their hostility towards, and their persecution of, the Ottoman Government. Every step they have taken, from first to last, has been against the interests of Turkey, and almost always without her knowledge or consent, and against her emphatic protest. I have never defended misgovernment in Turkey, any more than in Russia or in any other country; but from personal experience of the East I know the value of the Turkish alliance to England, and I 1888 know, also, the worth and strength of the Ottoman people, apart from their Government. That which has maintained Turkey so long in the face of the greatest dangers, and of the most strenuous attacks from all sides, was not at all the Turkish Government, but the inherent vigour and vitality of the Ottoman people—their manly fighting power in the last resort. Those qualities would have enabled them to resist successfully, if they had had a General of ordinary ability, the power of Russia, Servia, and Montenegro in 1876 and 1877. It was a consideration of that fact, together with the identity of our interests with those of Turkey, which made me insist on the value and importance of the alliance of England with the Ottoman Government—an alliance which rested on the highest traditions of British statesmanship, and by which the interests and the power of England can alone be sustained in the East. This the Government are now finding out, for they are endeavouring to secure some means of co-operation with Turkey in Egypt. They have by unjust and ungenerous insinuations attempted to attribute the difficulty in Egypt to the delay and want of faith of the Ottoman Government. The Blue Books show, however, that the Ottoman Government has acted in the most upright manner, and with an earnest desire to secure the friendship and alliance of England.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he might point out to the hon. Member that this had no reference whatever to the Appropriation Bill.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
I am endeavouring to trace the present war in Egypt, the expenses of which will be partly met by the Appropriation Bill, to the mistaken policy of Her Majesty's Government, and to show that at every stage of the Egyptian Question they attacked and misrepresented the Ottoman Government. The Turkish Government was a good nine months in advance of our Government, so far as foresight is concerned. The Porte saw the danger from Arabi and the military movement in October last, and was prepared to quell it. The Porte sent Commissioners to Cairo, whose advent produced most favourable effects. The bare mention of their approach caused Arabi to retire from Cairo. Says Sir Edward Malet, on October 4—"The effect has been good,' 1889 On October 15, he again telegraphs that—The effect of their mission has been good, as supporting the Viceroy and marking the Sultan's disapprobation of the conduct of the army.Will it be believed that the British Government actually chased these Envoys out of Cairo within 10 days. This was done under direct pressure from France, and especially from its bellicose Premier, M. Gambetta. So at the outset the Ministry took the most prominent step they possibly could take to prevent the Sovereign of Egypt from interfering in his own Province for the restoration of tranquillity, and to weaken and discredit his authority. This first stage of the dismissal of the Sultan's Envoys from Egypt is marked also by the two other principal blunders of the Government—their co-operation, or professed co-operation, with France, and their failure to take the due measure of the impending danger from the growth of the Military Party. The Sultan foresaw it, and tried to nip it in the bud. Our Government did not see what any tyro in political affairs might have seen, and they prevented those who did forecast the peril rightly from checking it as they desired. All three blunders were here coincident—the intrusion upon the rights of the Sovereign power, incapacity to foresee the trouble that was coming, and that misleading and injurious attempt to act with France, which has been the most disastrous of the errors of the Cabinet. Nothing could be more ridiculous than to suppose that the Turkish Government has really favoured Arabi. Nothing is less desired by that exhausted State than such a re-opening of the Eastern Question as this crisis in Egypt must cause. The Turks dread both the general Arab uprising which Arabi's action threatens to bring on, and they fear the so-called National movement in Egypt, which must tend to separation. From the first Arabi's views have been totally inharmonious with those of the Turkish Government. Well, the Mission sent to Cairo was ignominiously chased from Egypt by Her Majesty's Government. This was the initial stage of our difficulties. The next stage was the sending of the Joint Note of January 6th by England and France to the Khedive. Imagine what the English nation would say if two Powers de- 1890 spatched a Note to the Viceroy of Ireland, even if that country had Home Rule, without consulting or even acquainting the British Government of their act. Yet this is just what Mr. Gladstone, again led by M. Gambetta, did. No wonder that the Porte sent the strongest possible protest to the British Ministry and demanded "imperiously" to have explanations. That protest of Turkey was formally backed up by the four other Great Powers—by Austria, Germany, Italy, and Russia—and here we have, for the first time, that most significant fact, the alliance of four against the "joint action" of two. We have not beard the last of that combination. What could have been a greater affront to the Sovereign than, without consulting him, to send a Joint Note to his vassal? The Note in itself was ridiculous and impracticable; but the sending of it was the greatest affront to both the Sovereign and the Egyptian Chamber that could be offered. Then came the point-blank refusal of the British Government to allow the Egyptian Chamber to vote that portion of the Budget which did not relate to the Public Debt. This moderate and reasonable request, recommended by Sir Edward Malet, was actually rejected by a Liberal Ministry, acting under pressure from Republican France. The joint Anglo-French Squadrons were now sent to Alexandria against the protest of the Porte, and against the urgent advice of those who best knew how such a measure would irritate the Arab population against England. The Natives might bear the action of all Europe; but the intervention of England, acting under the direction of France, the notorious enemy of Mussulmans, would, Sir Edward Malet warned his Government, have a disastrous effect. The next step was the sending of the Ultimatum to Arabi, again without the consent of his Sovereign, and without any pre consideration of the difficulties and unfortunate results it might lead to. The bombardment, again, was undertaken in spite of the strongest protests from the Ottoman Government; and your Conference was also assembled in face of the remonstrances of the Sovereign of Egypt. So at every stage you have acted in most direct opposition to the wishes of Turkey, and it is ridiculous to pretend that you have been playing a friendly part towards that Power. The 1891 Under Secretary had given several assurances, up to the very moment of the bombardment, that—England and France were in absolute accord as to the steps to be taken with regard to future eventualities.But when it came to action the French Fleet steamed away. The Joint Note had created two camps in Europe; it set up the action of four Powers against the action of two. This action was seen in the protest against the Joint Note; it had re-appeared on various occasions, and notably during the Conference, and our Government had found a disagreeable union between Austria, Germany, Russia, and Italy against English views with regard to the Suez Canal and other questions. These four mistakes of the Government — neglect, attempted cooperation with France, and disregard of the rights of Turkey, and of the just grievances of the Egyptian people—are the causes of the war. Turkey desired to get rid of Arabi without fuss or disturbance; that was a sensible and practical view, which was thwarted by the premature and inefficient action of the English Government. Arabi would have been deported, taken away in some manner; but England, by joining with France, rendered it more and more difficult for the Sultan to remove Arabi; and by taking forcible action, prematurely and unnecessarily, we elevated Arabi into a national hero. The bombardment of Alexandria was premature, and was carried out in the way likely to do the most evil and the least good. There is an almost universal concurrence of opinion that a small landing force would have saved the destruction of property and the loss of life after the bombardment. The Government were warned, over and over again, of the necessity for such a force; and every person on the spot capable of judging states that 3,000 or 4,000 men, who might have been landed under the shelter of our guns, could have caught Arabi and his army as in a trap. It is inconsistent to speak of the landing of such a force as disrespectful to the Conference. It could have been no more disrespectful than the bombardment itself, or than the subsequent landing of an insufficient force. The fact of the matter is, the Ministry have drifted into a war without knowledge and without any proper precautions. The correspondent 1892 of every newspaper—of The Times, and even of The Daily News, and the very able correspondent of The Standard—all concur that a small force ready to land on Tuesday, the 11th, or Wednesday, the 12th of July, would have saved Alexandria from ruin, annihilated Arabi's forces, and averted all the cost and labour of this war. The configuration of the city is such, with a narrow strip of land affording the only exit for the enemy, that they could with ease have been captured, to use a homely phrase, like rats in a trap. The Government are without the slightest excuse for their failure to take such a simple and necessary precaution. They had been warned by the Consuls General of all the Powers, as well as by all the newspaper correspondents, and by many European residents, and by an experienced Military Agent of their own, as to what would happen if they commenced hostilities without having a force ready to strike an effective blow; but they were, as usual, blind to every advice and warning. Their premature bombardment led directly to the ruin of Alexandria, to the immense prolongation and increased cost of this struggle, and to the conversion of Arabi into a national hero. The Government have been led away by a new kind of "Jingoism." I do not willingly use the word, but it was one freely thrown at Lord Beaconsfield and his followers. If it has any meaning at all, it implies a spirit that would plunge the country into unnecessary war. It was not at all applicable to the late Government; but it is really applicable to the Party and the policy that involved the country in the Crimean War and in this Egyptian War. This war has been begun in the most unhealthy season, and the one most undesirable for a campaign, which again showed a want of foresight. None of the interests which the Government professed to serve, in a vain endeavour to make the ostensible aims of their policy square with the views of every Party, will in reality benefit by their long delay in taking any effective action. The interests of the bondholders will not be at all advanced by the destruction of Alexandria and by the ravages of war. And as for the interests of the Khedive, it is doubtful whether we can maintain him without a permanent occupation of the country. He has been rendered intensely 1893 unpopular by the fact of our support. The Egyptian people—that is, the great mass of the people—are undoubtedly ignorant and fanatical, and they are responsible for the terrible massacres which have taken place. How can the Government hope to uphold the Khedive and the interests of European capital if they carry out their programme of giving control of their own destinies to the very classes who are most opposed to British intervention and most in favour of Arabi? The Government rely on the Chamber of Notables; but though the Notables are an estimable body, they hold very much the same position as the House of Lords do in this country. It is impossible that their support can maintain our position in Egypt in spite of the mass of the population. The difficulties with which Her Majesty's Government find themselves environed are entirely of their own creation. They have been brought about by their unfortunate reversal of the policy of Lord Beaconsfield. They can only be removed by a prompt recurrence to the traditional policy of English statesmen. These myths of "concerted action" and "joint action," whose impracticability has been so fully demonstrated during the past eight months, must be for ever abandoned. If the Government will re-establish the old alliance with the Ottoman Government, by means of a frank, cordial, and sincere understanding at Constantinople, then troubles will disappear. If we have for our policy the support of the Prince, who is admitted by all Europe to be the Sovereign of Egypt, our position is one of unassailable legality. But if the Sultan is opposed to us, and with good reason, owing to the course of hostility adopted by the present occupants of the Treasury Bench, then any other Power—Germany, France, Italy, or Russia—can always find a potent lever wherewith to embarrass and wholly disconcert our aims and influence. The true policy is to persuade the Turkish people that you are their best friends, and so you can successfully promote reforms in the Ottoman Empire, and at the same time make your influence paramount. By this friendly and sensible policy you gain a faithful and valuable Ally, and acquire such a position in Egypt, or elsewhere, that England can, if the Turkish Power breaks up, quietly and without struggle 1894 succeed as her natural legatee, beloved and respected by the Mahomedan populations of the East. With Turkey on our side we can do as we like in Egypt. Against her we are powerless to settle the future of Egypt satisfactorily, although we may overrun it with our armies. And as this is true with regard to the particular difficulties of the Egyptian crisis, so the only way in which the Government can hope to be successful in their general policy is by a speedy return to the alliance with the German Powers, which Lord Beaconsfield left them, and which they recklessly alienated. Attempts to actively work with Russia and with France must prove, in the future, as they have proved during the past two years, vain and disastrous. The interests involved are too divergent, and the policy of Russia and of France is too uncertain and too aggressive. But in Austria and Germany England can have most powerful, most permanent, and most reliable support. I am glad to notice that in the last few days there are signs of a better frame of mind and of a more intelligent policy on the part of Her Majesty's present Advisers. They are beginning to realize what we have long urged upon them in vain, both the value of co-operation with Turkey, and the importance of a good understanding with Germany. If they continue in this path, the war in Egypt will be brought to a satisfactory end, and England may hope for a return of the tranquillity and general respect which was her portion under the sagacious and patriotic statesmanship of the Administration of Lord Beaconsfield. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House condemns Her Majesty's Government for their neglect and mistakes which have Drought about the War in Egypt, and especially for the Bombardment of Alexandria without a landing force sufficient to have saved life and property, and considers that the Foreign Policy of the Government has alienated the Allies, and weakened the influence and power of the Country,"—(Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."1895
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he would not attempt to make any reply to the very general and discursive observations of the hon. Member with regard to the general policy of the Government, as this was a subject which had been fully debated in the course of the present Session. With regard, however, to the statement that the policy of the Government had cost this country the alliance of Austria and Germany, he could only assure the House in the strongest possible terms that at no time, he was certain, were the relations, he might say the friendship, closer between this country and Austria and Germany than at the present time. The hon. Member also spoke of a reversal of the alliance which was left as a legacy by the late Government. He could only characterize that statement—if the term was Parliamentary—as all "moonshine" and nonsense. The Government had every reason to congratulate themselves upon their relations with the German Government at the present time, and he might say in a word that the German Government had warmly co-operated with this country in its Egyptian policy throughout. They valued very highly the support they had received on recent occasions. The hon. Member had made several strong personal references to himself. He had said that he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had had a share in forming a counter alliance to that of which he spoke. That allegation had been made before, and he could only give it the most direct and emphatic contradiction. The hon. Member also said that he had had something to do with the Joint Note that was issued. There was absolutely no foundation whatever for that statement. The hon. Member had gone on to say that the influence of the German Government was increasing at Constantinople. But there was absolutely no jealousy whatever on the part of the Government as regarded that influence. He could not conceive how it could be in any way detrimental to our interests. The hon. Member also said that we had tried to set up a joint military action with France in Egypt. If the hon. Member had read the Papers he would have seen that the effect of the Government was to obtain a joint action with any of the Powers. The hon. Member said that the object of our action was that four Powers were antagonistic to us 1896 on the question of the Suez Canal. That matter seemed to be like a species of gout from which the hon. Member was suffering, which broke out from time to time. There were no grounds for believing that any such union of the four Powers had ever existed, nor was there any foundation whatever for the statement. He unhesitatingly denied that the four Powers referred to were against us in regard to this question. He thought that disposed of the point of the hon. Member's speech, and he would defer his further remarks until a later period.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he had but one remark to make, and regretted that the hon. Member for Eye was not in his place to hear it. He thought it was due to Her Majesty's Government to confirm to the full what fell from the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with regard to the mission to Berlin, to which the hon. Member for Eye had alluded. The hon. Member ought to know that this was entirely a "cock and bull" story. There was absolutely no truth whatever in—not even a foundation for—the rumour that he went to Berlin officially or semi-officially, or in any other way than as a private gentleman. He had a grievance against the hon. Member for Eye, who had repeated these statements over and over again; and if he should go to Berlin again the hon. Member, who never took any denial, might once more repeat the statement. After what had fallen from the Under Secretary it was almost unnecessary for him to state that there was no official character whatever in his visit to Berlin.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."