§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
, in rising to move—That this House, deeply deploring the persecution and outrages to which the Jews have been subjected in portions of the Russian Empire, trusts that Her Majesty's Government will find means, either alone or in conjunction with other Great Powers, of using their good offices with the Government of His Majesty the Czar to prevent the recurrence of similar acts of violence,said: Sir, I feel the grave responsibility which attaches to me, inasmuch as I have taken upon myself to plead the cause of 3,500,000 of human beings, 31 so persecuted and ill-used that their cries for help and sympathy could never reach the ears of generous Christian men and women, were they not re-echoed by those who, like myself, live under a free and enlightened rule. I should not have ventured to undertake this responsibility had I not been convinced that justice and right are on my side. In pleading their cause I am strengthened by a knowledge of the fact that I am following the precedent of the illustrious statesman at the head of the Government when he, some years ago, with that power, vigour, and eloquence for which he is so pre-eminently distinguished, pleaded, with no uncertain sound, the cause of the oppressed Bulgarians. I trust I shall be able to approach this subject without any tinge of Party feeling, for it is a question not of one Party or of the other, but one which affects the humanity which is common to all. If the House will allow me, I will read an extract from a speech of the Prime Minister at Blackheath in 1876. I do not, however, plead that as a justification of the course I am now taking. The right hon. Gentleman said—It is idle to deny or to depreciate the character of this movement. It is absurd to say that it emanates from a political Party. I rejoice that, with scarcely an exception, both Parties are animated by the same sentiments as those which animate this meeting. I rejoice to think that I have heard in the House of Commons, and out of the House of Commons, many a voice from those who profess Conservative opinions, as sincere, as zealous, as energetic as anyone can be; for they feel that this question has a breadth, and a height, and a depth which carry it far out of the lower region of Party differences, and establishes it on the grounds, not of a political Party, not of English nationality, not of Christian faith, but on the greatest and broadest grounds of all—the grounds of our common humanity.Sir, I feel convinced that if I endeavour to tread in the footsteps of the illustrious statesman, and follow the lines he has laid down, I shall not be accused of using this question for Party purposes. In this great and charitable England, scarcely a month passes that we do not read of a fund initiated by the Chief Magistrate of London, and generously supported by rich and poor, in aid of suffering humanity in our own or distant climes—humanity, stricken down by illness, famine, or accident. We can, however, find but solitary examples of the appeal which now daily greets us in the Press—an appeal for the suffering 32 and persecuted Jews of Russia—a cry for help from man stricken down by his fellow-man. The appeal which was made in England on behalf of the Bulgarians was made in the same spirit of generosity as that with which this appeal and this plea is made. I do not wish to draw any distinction between the two cases; but, if a comparison be made, I think that the persecution of the Russian Jews appeals still more to the sympathies of Europe than did that of the Bulgarians. It must be remembered that the Bulgarian atrocities—much as I deplore them—took place at a time when the whole country was in a semi-state of war—[Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL: No, no!]—and that they were committed by savage and undisciplined troops. But the atrocities on the Russian Jews were perpetrated in the midst of a nation claiming to be a Great Power and a civilized and Christian State. They took place, moreover, not in the fields, as did the Bulgarian outrages, but in the capital towns of that country. And they were not committed by savage troops; but the soldiery who ought to have defended the inoffensive citizens actually connived at what was taking place. I must say that it was with a feeling of deep regret that I heard the Prime Minister state the other night that he could not grant an evening for the discussion of this question. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has the same sympathies as we all have. His whole political career proves how deeply he sympathizes with oppressed nationalities. I am sorry that some Government night has not been given to me for this discussion; but by a lucky accident I have secured to-night. I have no hesitation as to the course I have adopted, for the Prime Minister himself some years ago approved of the action of the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight in bringing forward the question of the Bulgarians under precisely similar circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman, on that occasion, said—Five attempts had been made to penetrate the mystery of the official mind, and, after a sixth and a seventh had failed, the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight brought up the subject for discussion. I believe that the voices of Members on both sides of the House will be raised in support of humanity and justice.I trust those words of the Prime Minister will be realized on this occasion-Certain statements have been put forward by the Russian Government in de- 33 fence—if defence there can be—of the atrocities that have been committed. I think it will be well that the English public should know that those statements are mere subterfuges. The whole history of the question shows unmistakably that the worst element in that persecution was religious fanaticism. In 1817 the State Papers Nos. 1, 2, and 3 showed that the Emperor Alexander had promised perfect liberty to the Jews in Russia provided they became converted. There could not be a better proof than that that the persecutions to which the Jews have been subjected have originated in their desire to retain their ancient faith. In fact, that is their only crime. But General Ignatieff's Rescript of the 3rd September, 1881, under which Commissions have been appointed with a view to imposing further disabilities on the Jews, alleges, in justification of this course, that they are guilty of very serious crimes, and that they follow nefarious callings. I deny the truth of that. There probably are some out of 3,500,000 who may follow nefarious callings; but many of those who do, do so from necessity rather than from inclination. The truth is that the effect of the Ukase of 1827 has been to force the Jews into all sorts of callings they would not voluntarily have accepted. They are forbidden to traffic in the interior of Russia, they are not allowed to sell in shops or at their lodgings, nor to hawk about wares, to open workshops, nor to take apprentices in any department of trade whatever. The action of the Russian Government towards the Jews could not be better described than in the words used by Macaulay, when he made his speech in favour of removing the Jewish disabilities—Bigots never fail to plead in justification of persecution the vices which persecution has engendered.With regard to the outrages, I will give the House the figures. I believe I am understating rather than overstating them. Two hundred and one women have been violated, 56 Jews killed, 70 wounded, 20,000 rendered homeless, and £16,000,000 worth of property wrecked. No words of mine can so clearly set before the world the infamous character of the outrages at which the Russian Government have connived. As regards the Consular Reports of these atrocities, I will venture to say that I have never 34 seen any official documents so unsatisfactory as they are. The House will see the inaccuracy of the Consular Reports from this—that whereas the bulk of the outrages took place in various outlying districts, the information respecting them almost invariably came from St. Petersburg. I fully admit that Consuls, as a rule, are extremely worthy servants of the Crown; but they are surrounded by officials of the country in which they reside, and, to a great extent, are obliged to modify their real views. In fact, our Consuls in Russia could not exist for six months in the positions they now occupy were they to put in their Reports all they know. The House will remember the case of Mr. Mitchell at St. Petersburg, who had to leave that city because his Reports were unpleasant to the Russian Government. The Consular accounts, therefore, are absolutely and totally unreliable, being nothing more than hearsay reports of what took place, gathered many hundreds of miles from the seat of the outrages themselves. Such Reports ought not to weigh beside the statements of eye witnesses and actual sufferers which have appeared in the newspapers and elsewhere. The Jews cannot, indeed, pay a sufficient tribute to the Press, both Liberal and Conservative, for having brought before the eyes of England and the eyes of the whole world these atrocious outrages. It is probable that had the Press not taken the matter up in the way it has done many of the outrages would never have been heard of, and these Consular Reports would have been received without contradiction. I may refer particularly to the refutation of the Consular Reports which has appeared in The Times of this morning, and which shows them to be completely untrustworthy. The evidence there published completely refutes the statements which have been made by Consul General Stanley. In Kieff there were 22 women and three girls violated. The horrors, indeed, are so terrible that it is impossible for me to relate them in this House. Are they to be passed by without a word? We have been told that this is not a matter on which the House ought to express an opinion. But the country, from North to South, and from East to West, has expressed its abomination of these outrages; and are we not to be allowed to corroborate the opinion of our constituents? Should I shrink from 35 asking the Representatives of the people in this House to express that which their constituents have already boldly and rightly expressed? Is the House of Commons to be muzzled? There is no man on this side or on the other side of the House who would not repudiate such a course. The Prime Minister cannot fear in this Motion any Party attack—[Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!]—and I hope he will give me his support. I do not ask the Prime Minister to make a legal claim upon Russia—no such claim, of course, exists; but Russia has connived at what has happened; she is particeps criminis, and morally responsible for what has happened, because she might have interfered, but did not; and I ask the Prime Minister to make a representation—a representation in the true sense of the word—which will show the Russian Government, as far as possible, that these outrages have touched the hearts of the nations of Europe—and call upon it to use all the means it possesses to avert a recurrence of them. Such a representation cannot give offence. Surely greater offence would be given to a friendly Government if such things were known to another State, and nothing said by it. The highest authority on International Law, if any were wanted—Professor Bluntschli—in his work, Modern International Law of Civilized States, says—If the state of affairs in any country endangers the peace of Europe, or the action of such country threatens the security of the European States, or the sufferings of its population appear unbearable and unworthy of civilized Europe, such a condition is then no longer the exclusive affair of the particular country in question; but the collective European Powers are justified in urging remedial measures.And the Prime Minister himself stated, in his pamphlet upon the Bulgarian atrocities—Now, there are states of affairs in which human sympathy refuses to he confined by the rules, necessarily limited and conventional, of International Law. If any Englishman doubts that such a case may really occur, let him remember the public excitement of this country nine months ago respecting the Slave Circular of the Government, and ask himself whether we model our Slave Circulars respecting runaways on the precise provisions of International Law.The House has now to deal with something quite as terrible as the sufferings of fugitive slaves—to deal with horrors 36 such as have rarely disgraced any country since the Middle Ages. It has to deal with outrages sufficient to make the blood run cold, outrages which showed no respect for the innocence of childhood, no respect for mothers, no respect for wives, no respect for old age, and which sacrificed everything to bestial lust and barbarism. If those do not come under the precedent laid down by the Prime Minister in his pamphlet, I do not know when we may expect a case to arise which will. A few months ago the right hon. Gentleman rose in his place, and, in the most telling words, appealed to the House to express its deep sympathy and condolence with the Imperial Family of Russia in the loss it had sustained. The right hon. Gentleman asked us not only to express this condolence, but to condemn the terrible outrage which resulted in the death of the Emperor. I know well enough the sincerity of those words; and I ask him now to rise in his place and express his sympathy with the injuries of those who, though not high born, are yet human beings; I ask him that that meed of sympathy should be accorded in no measured words. I do not believe he would extend sympathy to the murdered Emperor which he would not give to the murdered peasant. Such an expression as I desire from the Government would not bear any resemblance to Lord John Russell's remonstrances with the Russian Government for their treatment of the Poles. Those remonstrances were founded on Treaty rights and on Treaty guarantees, and a Government like Russia would clearly refuse to answer a remonstrance which resembled a threat. But if the Government have the will, they can easily find means of getting over the diplomatic difficulties which they say stand in their way, and might use their good offices with the Russian Government. Sir, if we are to be precluded from asserting sympathy with the oppressed and condemnation of the oppressor by a fear of offending the official susceptibilities of a friendly Power, or of stimulating the blind fanaticism of a brutal and ignorant mob, we should, by a parity of reasoning, observe a complacent silence if it pleased any nation to re-establish the Inquisition, and ourselves affect a virtuous indignation should some unborn Mary re-kindle the fires of Smithfield. It cannot be a mere 37 question of degree, for some of these Russian outrages are as bad as any of the horrors of the Inquisition. It is our duty in regard to these Russian atrocities, which outrage all decency and humanity, not to shield ourselves behind the worthless Papers of Consuls, and say we cannot interfere with the internal affairs of other nations. I do not urge upon the Government any course that may involve the country in unpleasant relations with Russia; but the opponents of the Resolution will be offering the worst possible apology for Russia if they hold that she will not listen to the counsels of humanity. In this House frequent appeals have been made on behalf of suffering humanity in every part of the world; here the Slave Trade has been abolished; here the horrors of the Neapolitan dungeons have been exposed—[Mr. GLADSTONE: They were not brought before the House of Commons.]—here the Polish atrocities have been denounced; here religious liberty has ever been effectively asserted; and the spirit of the House will be sadly changed if the present appeal, made in all honesty and without a trace of Party feeling, be rejected. It will be sad if the few words which I have ventured to address to the Government should be useless. I beg the House, therefore, to adopt the more generous course, and I would remind them of the words with which one who was renowned alike for eloquence and for political virtue ended his address on the Slave Trade—Hear this, ye Senates, hear the truth sublime,He who allows oppression shares the crime.The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.
§ MR. SLAGG
, in seconding the Resolution, said, that he was not at all desirous that the Government should suggest to the Russian Government the best method of managing their own internal affairs; but the subject, with all its sad and terrible incidents and painful characteristics, naturally excited deep feeling, and called forth the liveliest emotions of sympathy for a suffering and persecuted people. It must be borne in mind, however, that there was more than a slight distinction between the circumstances of these atrocities in Russia and the case of the Bulgarian atrocities which were denounced by the Prime Minister. In the case of Bulgaria this 38 country was associated by Treaties and by strong ties of international policy with the Government of Turkey, and had largely spent the blood and treasure of the country in backing up Turkey, the author and perpetrator of those crimes. It behaved them, therefore, placed as they were in that position, to take some action; whereas, in the present case, no such relations existed between England and the Russian Government. The Empire of Russia was an independent Power in every sense, and any intervention or any representation which might be the outcome of the action taken in that House should be of the most delicate and cautious character. Certainly, he was not in favour of reckless interference with the affairs of foreign nations. The traditions and principles of the school in which he received his earliest political impressions were antagonistic to any policy of that description; and they would appeal in vain to the present Government to adopt any line so dangerous and fraught with so much possible mischief. But this debate would serve to elicit from those who had special information on the subject the whole truth in regard to these outrages; and it would add largely to the national sympathy which had found expression in almost every large town throughout the country. And why was it that that sympathy had been so strikingly manifested in relation to another nation? It was because the English people were bound up with the Jews in all the relations of life in the most intimate degree; and we all must admit that, as a race, they acquitted themselves in a manner which did them credit as citizens; and whether we regarded them as traders, or considered their accomplishments and high integrity, we could not help according to the Jews the highest position which it was possible for members of any community to occupy. He had the honour to represent a constituency in which a most important class of the community were composed of members of the Jewish race; and in their benevolence, their public spirit, their thorough equity of dealing, and in all their acts of citizenship, they were not excelled by the members of any other creed. It was clear, therefore, that when placed under just and fair conditions they behaved in the manner which gave strength and honour to 39 a community; and it was only when subjected to shameful and unjust persecution that they developed those qualities of which their opponents made so much, but which were not characteristic of their race. Was it not fair to argue that if the Jews had been treated in Russia—as in other countries—such as England and France—they would have shown themselves an excellent people, as they had done in every other part of the globe? In Russia they were not allowed to dwell or travel in 24 out of the 80 Governments, and they were subject to various other vexatious disqualifications, the chief of which were that they might not hold landed property or leasehold estates, and might not employ any but Christian foremen in their businesses. It was alleged, in part extenuation of the treatment which they had received in Russia, that they occupied the position of usurers, and that they were of such grasping habits that they had produced a feeling of resentment which had culminated in these atrocious acts. It seemed to him that the accusation was a very feeble one indeed. If they were sober, thrifty, and industrious as compared with their neighbours, was it not hard that they should have to pay such a penalty for those qualities? It remained to be proved that the Jews in any part of Russia had done anything which contravened the law; and, if not, whatever their habits might be, they were clearly entitled to be protected by the law. His hon. Friend had borne testimony to the sufferings the Jewish race in Russia had undergone. It was sickening to reflect upon the crimes inflicted upon the women of a race whose women were renowned for their chastity. He did not think the purposes of the friends of the Russian Jews would be served by pushing the Government to any specific line of action, or that a division on the question would by any means promote the object they had in view. The Resolution, in fact, did not prescribe to the Government what they should do; and its supporters simply asked—and he thought it a very reasonable request—that if it should appear to the Government to be in any way possible for them to use their good offices with the Russian Government they would do so to the best of their ability. He trusted such an opportunity would soon occur, and that the Government would 40 now give the House an assurance they would avail themselves of it. He hoped, at least, that the expression of opinion which he was sure would be elicited of deep sympathy with this suffering people would have the result of showing that the English heart still beat warmly for every oppressed nationality, without distinction of race or creed, and that they were specially concerned for a race so noble, and bound up with this country by so many ties of a strong and enduring character.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, deeply deploring the persecution and outrages to which the Jews have been subjected in portions of the Russian Empire, trusts that Her Majesty's Government will find means, either alone or in conjunction with other Great Powers, of using their good offices with the Government of His Majesty the Czar to prevent the recurrence of similar acts of violence,"—(Baron Henry de Worms,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
said, that he gave the hon. Gentleman opposite (Baron Henry de Worms) the credit for having acted with the best possible intentions, and for being actuated by the best motives; but he was bound to say that he considered the hon. Gentleman had assumed an enormous responsibility in separating himself from other Gentlemen in the House, professing the Jewish religion, who were as deeply interested and concerned in this question as he could be. The hon. Gentleman had stated that he felt the weight of the responsibility in taking up the cause of 3,500,000 of human beings; but he thought that the hon. Gentleman had, in the course he had taken, jeopardized rather than aided the cause he had at heart. He (Mr. Serjeant Simon) had spent all his life, not now a short one, in advocating the claims to justice of his brothers in religion. During the 14 years he had sat in the House—the hon. Gentleman opposite had sat there but two years—it would be in the knowledge of most hon. Members that he had again and again felt it his duty to bring forward the claims of his brethren in different parts of the world, and that on no occasion had he done so without 41 the approval of both sides of the House. He regretted, however, to have to dissent entirely from the hon. Member on the present occasion. If he had thought that the House of Commons, by pronouncing an opinion, or that Her Majesty's Government, by taking action, could have done the slightest good to his suffering brethren in Russia, he would not have waited for the hon. Member opposite to bring forward this Motion, but would have taken up the matter himself, as he had taken up Jewish matters before. He knew something of the ways of the House, and he ventured to point out the danger of the course which the House was about to enter upon, and how very fraught with mischief it might be to the very persons whom it was proposed to assist. There was one point in the speech of the hon. Gentleman with which he entirely concurred. It was not possible, he thought, for language to exaggerate the evils and the outrages to which the Jews of Russia had been subjected. As a Member of the Committee appointed to collect and investigate the evidence, he was able to say that there was evidence sufficient to substantiate every charge that had been brought against the Russian mobs; and he could not hold the authorities in Russia free from blame in the matter. They had had notice of what was about to happen, and in Warsaw they allowed the atrocities to go on for three days without interruption. He asserted, further, that the repressive and exclusive laws of the country had tended to degrade a section of the Jews; and the only wonder was that, under such laws, so few of them were addicted to the practices complained of. He had seen the evidence of many of the refugees who had come over to this country, and he was able to state that there was not a single usurer or dram seller among them; they were all artizans, working men, and agriculturists; those were the victims, not people who had been earning their living by usurious transactions. In his opinion, the matter was one that could not properly be discussed in that House. He asked hon. Gentlemen to take the Motion in their hands, and to read for Russia and the Jews some particular place in this Kingdom, and to suppose that the German Government had passed a Resolution, and had called 42 upon His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Germany to use his influence with Her Britannic Majesty to put a stop to outrages complained of, and to prevent their recurrence. What would have been thought of such a proceeding here? What would the House of Commons have said? What would the people of England have said? Why, there would have been an outburst of indignation from one end of the country to the other. Yet that was what the House was asked to invite Her Majesty's Government to do, with regard to the internal administration of another country. The Motion was a most unwise one, and, as such, he protested against it. If such a Motion were carried, it would establish a precedent that would be most fatal, and would seriously disturb the relations between the two countries. What right had this country to pass a Vote of Censure upon a Foreign Power? No precedent could be found in favour of such a course. It had been suggested by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Slagg) that there was a distinction between this case and that of Bulgaria, and the hon. Member had disclaimed against the introduction into the question of any tinge of Party politics; but he (Mr. Serjeant Simon) must express his regret that he had introduced the Bulgarian Question, which had been a Party question. He protested, as an Israelite, against the hon. Gentleman dragging the unfortunate Jews and their sufferings before the House of Commons——
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
rose to Order. He had never made a Party question of the matter, and had stated so distinctly. He regretted that the hon. and learned Gentleman should have taken the opportunity of his temporary absence to say that he had done so.
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
said, that the hon. Member had said he did not make this a Party question; but he contended that the hon. Gentleman's zeal carried him away when he quoted the Bulgarian atrocities, and the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) respecting them. It appeared to him very much like a defiance hurled at the head of the Prime Minister. They had no Constitutional right or warrant in International Law to pass a Resolution of this kind; and, if passed, its first effect would be to stir up the angriest and the bitterest 43 feelings against the Jews in Russia, whose condition was bad enough now, as the atrocities had not yet ceased. We ought to rejoice at the idea that, instead of setting one Government against the other and one nation against the other, we had at this moment a Government which was in friendly relations with the Russian Government. He believed that in the friendly relations of the two Governments would be found the best security for the future of the Jews in Russia; but if we assumed a tone of remonstrance, or asserted a right to dictate to Russia how she should govern her Jewish subjects, he believed that the first people who would suffer would be the Jews themselves. Let the House consider the mischief that this Motion might even now do. Pass the Resolution, and they would see at once what would follow—angry feelings between the two countries; or let it be withdrawn or rejected, and how would the matter stand? It would go forth to Russia that an appeal had been made to the House of Commons to express sympathy with the Jews, and that the House of Commons had refused its sympathy. Everyone knew that the Russian Press was not like the English Press—that it was not a free Press. The decision of the House of Commons would go forth as a refusal of the expression of its abhorrence of the atrocities which had been committed. There was no chance of a report of this debate reaching a Russian paper, the reasons would not be made known in Russia, and the Russian people would simply have the fact that the House of Commons had rejected the Motion. On the first day of the Session he addressed a Question to the Prime Minister, not for the purpose of inviting diplomatic interference, but in order to enable the right hon. Gentleman to dispel many false ideas which wore afloat in the Jewish community. There wore people who believed that Parliament could do anything, and that the Prime Minister could dictate his own will to Russia. Deeming it desirable that such false ideas should be dispelled, he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it was possible for Her Majesty's Government in any manner to exercise its friendly influence with the Russian Government on behalf of the Jews. The right hon. Gentleman, in reply, expressed as a man the pain and horror with which he re- 44 garded the treatment of the Jews in Russia; and he explained how detrimental it would be to the Jews themselves if the Government were to assume anything like diplomatic action on their behalf. On the same evening Lord Granville, in "another place," made a similar statement, pointing out the difficulty of diplomatic interference, and saying that he could make no promise even of private interference. Lord Granville was followed by Lord Salisbury; and he should have thought that the hon. Member for Greenwich would have paid some deference to the opinion of that statesman, who was now at the head of his Party. What did Lord Salisbury say? ["Order!"] He was not speaking of the House of Lords, but of "another place."
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Member is citing a speech made in the House of Lords, and has named the Peer who delivered it. He is clearly out of Order.
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
said, he should be sorry to commit a breach of the Rules of the House. Lord Salisbury expressed—["Order!"] He would not name him. A distinguished nobleman, making a speech on the subject, said he quite concurred with the noble Earl.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
rose to Order. The hon. and learned Member was now citing a passage verbatim from a speech delivered in the other House.
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
said, he was citing the statement of a distinguished nobleman, who said he quite concurred with the noble Earl that official, and even unofficial, representations in matters of this kind were of doubtful utility. That was said by the Head of the Party to which the hon. Member for Greenwich owed allegiance. He further said—If in the discussion of this subject or at any meetings those who represent in this country the political Party to which I belong have thought it, on the whole, better not to make a prominent appearance, it is because we have been actuated by much the same feelings as those which guide the noble Earl. We were afraid that the motive for our interference might be mistaken, and that this, which is a question of pure humanity, might be mixed up with others which are purely political questions; and we thought it better, on the whole, that the voice of the people of England should be heard in some less official form than it can receive within the walls of this building."—[3 Hansard, cclxvi. 229.]The noble Peer to whom he was referring, 45 then, not only endorsed the views of Lord Granville and the Prime Minister, but he went further—he thought that even unofficial representations were unadvisable, and he deprecated anything being said or done within the walls of Parliament, lest it might assume an official character. Therefore, he thought hon. Members opposite would not consider he was taking an extraordinary course if he deprecated such a discussion as they had to-night. It was, he should have thought, the very A, B, C of International Law that one independent country should not interfere with the internal affairs of another country; and, notwithstanding the precedents which had been cited, he ventured to say, without fear of contradiction, that there was not in political and international history a single precedent to justify this Motion. He hoped the House would consider that on a subject of this kind his opinion was entitled to some consideration. He did not think that the hon. Member was supported by any amount of Jewish opinion outside the House. On the contrary, persons of position in the Jewish community, to whose opinion weight ought to be attached, did not wish this subject to be brought forward. Numerous applications had been made to him as to the desirability of getting up a requisition, requesting the hon. Member not to proceed in the course he had adopted. He trusted that the House, having regard not only to the considerations to which he had alluded, but to what he believed was the real opinion of the Jewish community in this country, would not accede to the Motion.
I think, Sir, in the state of opinion which prevails, especially among the Members of the Jewish community in this House, and considering the very difficult circumstances in which they find themselves placed, it will be advantageous that I should take an early opportunity of saying something on the part of the Government. And, Sir, with regard to the hon. Gentleman opposite, I assure him that I entirely acquit him—indeed, he does not need any acquittal—of being actuated by that Party feeling which he has laboriously disclaimed. Every word of his speech was conceived in a manner which, whether I might regret its having been delivered or not, proved, I 46 think, that it flowed direct from his heart. On the other hand, I must say that I think there is very great force in what has been said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dews-bury (Mr. Serjeant Simon). It is not, I think, possible for the House, wisely or usefully, to adopt a Motion of this kind. On the contrary, I go the whole length of my hon. and learned Friend, and I am firmly convinced that its adoption would be positively injurious to the interests of those in whose behalf it is brought forward. But, on the other hand, the negativing or the withdrawal of such a Motion does place us, as my hon. and learned Friend has said, in a position which may be misunderstood. When the result only is known without the discussion and the explanations that have taken place, it does place us in the position of being liable to what would certainly be gross misapprehension—namely, that we do not feel deeply on behalf of those whom the hon. Gentleman represents. The hon. Gentleman says that the Consular Reports are, in his view, no evidence. I am not surprised if, on an occasion of this kind, which appeals very directly to the feelings of all men, and most of all to those connected with the particular religion of the sufferers—I am not surprised if some exaggeration here and there should creep into the views that they take of some of those cases. I am not prepared, Sir—though I will not enter into details—I am not prepared to admit, and I have no reason to believe, that these Consular Reports, which are made by responsible men of character and ability, deserve the epithet which has been applied to them. At the same time, I enter into no details—it is not necessary to do so—as to the accuracy of this statement or of that. Again, I am bound to say, Sir, that I am not prepared to assert or to impute connivance to the Russian Government. On the contrary, I am bound to believe—and I know of no reason which would disincline me to believe—that the Emperor of Russia and his Government regard these outrages with the same feelings as we contemplate them ourselves. Whether or not, as stated by my hon. Friend, the zeal of the subordinate and intermediate agents between the Supreme Government at the seat of power and the sufferers, who ought to be the active agents of authority in 47 preventing outrage, has slackened, or even in certain cases turned into connivance and satisfaction, that is a matter upon which I do not think it would be advantageous for me to enter. There can be no doubt that deeds which are terrible and atrocious have been committed on a scale which, whether it be the largest that is supposed by some—or the most contracted that is alleged by others—still constitutes a dreadful and terrible fact in the history of any country, and of the civilization of mankind. That is quite enough to say, so far as the statements of the hon. Gentleman are concerned; but I may be permitted to add, what I think we must all feel, that if we are in this place an Assembly almost uniformly professing Christianity, and if we as Christians believe, as we do believe, that it has been part of the office and effect of Christianity to establish a new and a far higher standard of civilization and humanity, then we must also feel that those deeds, so far as they have been done, being done by Christians, are more guilty, and not less guilty, than if they had been done by persons not professing that religion. Now, Sir, that is all that I intend to say, and all that my duty, I think, permits me to say, upon the nature of those dreadful occurrences to which this Motion refers. But I am bound to say that it is not from discussions of this kind that the full information can be obtained which my hon. Friend who seconded the Motion seemed to anticipate. Her Majesty's Government is not in possession of full information on the subject. Moreover, it is not possible that they could be in possession of such full information. They have not that international title which alone could warrant them in employing agents for the purpose of obtaining a competent knowledge and command of facts. I agree with the hon. Gentleman opposite, that there are cases for which the stipulations of International Law do not adequately provide. I can easily appreciate the views of those who think that when great outrages are committed under the impulse of popular fury, such a case has arisen as can hardly be regarded according to the strict views of International Law. I can agree with my hon. Friend again in the compliment he has paid to the Press on this occasion. The function of the Press is 48 to awaken public opinion without official responsibility. It is quite evident that those by whom the Press is worked enjoy immense advantages on an occasion of this kind; because there is a chance, or at least a hope, that their representations may be judged according to their merits, and may escape the odious imputation of being due to national jealousy and a desire for unwarrantable interference. But the hon. Member must, I think, observe that there is no possible form in which this House could make an Address to the Crown upon a subject of this kind which would not lead to mischief. It is true that the words "good offices" are capable of a wide signification. It is quite true, also, that a judicious representative of the British Crown may have useful opportunities of touching upon subjects of this kind, and that it is his duty to make use of such opportunities; but, Sir, they must be wholly and entirely detached from all public, diplomatic, and Parliamentary action. The House cannot move in this matter without a serious risk of doing mischief. Those outrages which have occurred are due to popular fury and prejudice; and you must leave the responsible governors of the country to deal with it as they best can, without the intervention of a Government not based upon any international title. The fact of our being a party in the case would be certain to cause a strong reaction, not merely in the minds of those who have committed the outrages, but likewise on the part of a much larger number, who, while, perhaps, not sympathizing with the outrages themselves, yet are jealously averse to anything that may seem like an invasion of national independence. So you run the risk of bringing into the field against you those whose natural place is not to be among the approvers of these misdeeds. The hon. Gentleman has done me the honour to refer to conduct of mine in another contingency, which he thinks more or less resembles this. My conduct in the case of Bulgaria, I believe myself, was not based upon Party spirit, for at the time my proceedings commenced I really did not believe there was any difference of feeling between the two great Parties in the country on the subject. It may have been right, or it may have been wrong; 49 but it was based upon a conviction of a most distinct character, which upon every occasion I was careful to state. It was this—that we had, by the Crimean War and the Peace of Paris, deprived the subject races in Turkey of the benefits which previously they were entitled to expect and to claim from the intervention of Russia on their behalf, that right of Russia to intervene being founded upon a previous Treaty between us and Turkey. We destroyed it for the sake of the general peace and security of Europe. I always contended, from the time of the Peace of Paris, and at the time of the Peace of Paris Lord Palmerston admitted, that we could not possibly divest ourselves of the responsibility which had previously been the responsibility of the Russian Government, and which, in consequence of the Crimean War, became a European responsibility and a European right. That was the ground upon which the whole of my argument and proceedings were founded. It may have been right, or it may have been wrong; but it is impossible for it to be alleged in the present case. The hon. Gentleman has referred to the case of Poland. There was a case in which there was something in the nature of a European title to intervene and remonstrate; but I am bound to say that our remonstrances, although joined in by the other Powers of Europe, were a total and absolute failure. What amount of harm they did I am not able to say; but good, unquestionably, they did not do in the smallest degree. The hon. Member, by a not unnatural error, following upon some statement which he may have read in a public journal, supposed that I appealed to this House with regard to the great mischiefs, the terrible mischiefs—though of a totally different character—that at one time prevailed in the Kingdom of Naples. Sir, I most carefully and studiously avoided any illusion to public authority, any appeal of a hostile kind on that subject. Lord Aberdeen, united as he was with me in friendship and affection, and being possessed of great influence over Continental Governments, did me the great favour to endeavour through the Austrian Government to give friendly effect to my remonstrances and statements; and when he entirely failed, as I think, in that purpose, my appeal was made, not to any Govern- 50 ment, not to the House of Commons—never did I say one word in this House on the subject—but it was made entirely to the public opinion of Europe through the medium of the Press, to which the hon. Gentleman has, on this occasion, paid a just compliment. I apologize to the House for mixing so small a matter as the rules of my own previous conduct with an important matter of this kind. The matter is undoubtedly important; and I hope the impression will not go forth that this question is viewed in any portion of this House, or in any portion of this country, with indifference. I believe, however, we should be most unwise if we led the Russian Government to suppose that we looked upon that Government as sympathizing with the perpetrators of these outrages. On the contrary, I hope the Russian Government will believe that we give them credit for every desire to put down and to prevent conduct which is a disgrace to civilization and humanity; and that the Russian Government will rather be encouraged by the assurance of our sympathy to use more and more vigorous efforts for the purpose of securing that great end. Such is the course I believe it wise and necessary for us to pursue. I do not found myself on the question of strict right; I will not say how far the strict rights of human nature might warrant us in going, if you mean by those strict rights the right of remonstrating and of expressing indignation against terrible misdeeds. But I say we shall be mistaken if we place the question on the ground of strict right. That which I wish to look to is that to which my hon. and learned Friend has addressed himself. Can we, by a Motion of this kind, do good to the persons for whom we wish to procure benefit? Do we not, on the contrary, run the most serious risk—nay, almost incur the certainty—of doing mischief by creating a re-action unfavourable to their interests? That is the ground on which I entreat the hon. Gentleman and the House to believe we act when we decline to become parties to any action of the House of Commons for such a purpose. On the former occasions, to which reference has been made, both my noble Friend (Earl Granville) and myself have been careful to point out the only mode in which we believed, on favourable opportunity, friendly counsel might be given 51 with regard to matters of this kind. Anything beyond that will tend to defeat its own purpose. It is not because we disapprove of the purpose, not because we do not sympathize with the purpose, not because we undervalue its importance, but because we believe that an injudicious step will tend absolutely to defeat it, that I hope that this Motion will not be pressed on the attention of the House.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I think the language of the Prime Minister is in conformity with that which we should expect from him. No one can doubt, after what he has said, that he and his Colleagues share completely in the feelings which all Englishmen must have as to the terrible stories which have come to us respecting the sufferings and the persecution of the Jews in Russia. I must say I regretted to hear such language as was used by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Serjeant Simon). When I reflect upon the many occasions on which the hon. and learned Gentleman, in the course of the last Parliament, pressed upon the late Government the claims of the Jewish population in Roumania, for instance, and used to urge upon us the duty and the necessity of taking strong measures for the purpose of procuring their protection, I own I did not expect to have heard the language which the hon. and learned Gentleman applied to my hon. Friend behind me (Baron Henry do Worms). Whether my hon. Friend is, or is not, taking the best course for the purpose of obtaining that which he desires, some interposition which may diminish the sufferings of his co-religionists, at least anybody would admit that it is with the purest feelings of humanity, and with the most natural feelings, which we must all respect, that he has brought forward this case, and that he has done so with absolute freedom from anything like Party spirit. The hon. and learned Gentleman comes up and tells us we must not compare this case with that of the Bulgarian outrages, because they were brought forward in a Party spirit. In saying this, it was, I think, an admission for which the right hon. Gentleman would not thank him——
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
rose to Order He had not, he remarked, said that the Bulgarian case was brought forward as 52 a Party question. His statement was that the hon. Gentleman had referred to Bulgaria in a Party spirit.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
My non. Friend referred to the Bulgarian case for the purpose of justifying himself in what he was doing by the authority of the Prime Minister, who, as he was willing to believe, and who, as he stated to the House, called attention to the outrages and atrocities in Bulgaria, not at all in a Party spirit, but because he believed it was a duty he owed to humanity. The Prime Minister now has endorsed that view, and has entirely justified my hon. Friend in the spirit in which he has referred to that case. The Prime Minister distinguishes between the two cases, and it may or may not be a just distinction which he draws; but certainly the spirit in which my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich has brought this subject forward is distinctly and entirely apart from anything in the nature of a Party move. I feel, and I think the House must feel, the very great delicacy of the position in which the House is placed. Everybody, I presume, shares in the feelings of horror and disgust at the stories which have reached us, and which, I am afraid, it is hardly possible to doubt are substantially correct. Everybody feels, and everybody desires, if it be possible, to relieve in some way the sufferings which are being endured. The question is—how can we best take steps to accomplish that object? I was sorry, and rather surprised, to hear something said in opposition to the properly-worded suggestion of the Prime Minister; we are assured by the Prime Minister—we all feel convinced it must be so—that the Russian Government could have no sympathy with, could have no toleration for, could have no other feeling than that of indignant anger and grief at the injuries which have been perpetrated in some portions of their dominions. But it is said that there are places in which the Government may be powerless to stop that which is going on, or places in which the agents of the Government are, perhaps, countenancing, or rather not restraining, or doing worse, without the knowledge of the Imperial Government itself. If that be the case, does it not seem reasonable that any information Her Majesty's Government might obtain from their 53 Consuls, and which might refer to the conduct of subordinates that would otherwise be kept from the knowledge of the Imperial Government, might be communicated to the Russian Government, which, if thus made aware of what is going on, might take measures to restrain or control its agents? It seems to me that it might very possibly be of advantage to those who are sufferers that any communications which Her Majesty's Government may have received, and which they can rely upon, should be placed in such manner as would, at least in the most informal manner—my hon. Friend does not insist on any official interference—but should be placed in the most informal and most friendly manner before those who can make use of them. But it is said that any interference, any remarks, any expression of sympathy with these people may cause them increase of suffering by provoking reactionary feelings of national independence on the part of Russia. That I hope is a slander on the Russian Government; I can hardly believe that such an argument would be tolerated by it. What is the position in which we stand? Undoubtedly there have been many cases in which the Government of this country has more or less officially called attention to, or taken steps to endeavour to mitigate, the sufferings of the peoples of other countries. We are told it depends a good deal upon our actual relations—our claims to speak in consequence of Treaty rights. I scarcely know how that was possible in the case of Roumania; I am not aware that there was any Treaty right in that case. In the case of Naples, we are told that though nothing was done in the House, yet some kind of friendly influence was used to bring about a mitigation of the sufferings of the people. Now, let me ask the Prime Minister, is the thing worthy of consideration? You have in one of the latest of great international settlements of Europe, the Treaty of Berlin, an Article in reference to the protection of the Armenian subjects of Turkey. Russia is a party to the Treaty; and suppose you had occasion to call on the Turkish Government to take steps for the improvement of the condition of its Armenian subjects, what would be the position in which Russia would be placed if it could be retorted—"You are speaking for the benefit of the Arme- 54 nians; but look what is being done to your Jewish subjects in your own dominions." It would weaken the effect of an European remonstrance on behalf of Armenia if one of the parties to the Treaty giving the right to remonstrate was open to such a retort as that. I cannot help thinking that without asking for anything in the nature of official interference, or anything in the way of remonstrances that would give offence, it might be possible—and if possible it would certainly be most desirable—for Her Majesty's Government to take some step which would serve to mitigate the condition of these unfortunate sufferers. The right hon. Gentleman says there is great inconvenience in any course which may be suggested with that object. There may be inconvenience—in fact, the situation is one so terrible that it is almost impossible to touch it without meeting something in the nature of inconvenience. But what I am quite sure of is this—that my hon. Friend has brought the matter forward with no kind of object of embarrassing Her Majesty's Government in the slightest degree, but with the sole and simple end of endeavouring to do good to those whose cause he was pleading; he has acted, as he told us in the beginning of his speech, under a very considerable sense of responsibility; but he entirely subordinated the mode of proceeding to the great object that he had in view; and if he receives from the Government any encouragement to believe that this matter is one on which they will be prepared to do whatever upon reflection seems to them to be possible, he would, I am sure, be the last man to desire to bring about the appearance of discord in this House by pressing such a Motion to a division. But it should be distinctly understood that the Government entirely recognize the spirit in which the Motion has been brought forward, and are prepared, as far as may be possible, and in such a way as they may find by their own experience to be the best, to do anything they can for the mitigation of such great sufferings. I know I have correctly described the spirit in which my hon. Friend brought forward his Motion; and I earnestly trust that it may be found possible, consistently with the object which he has in view, to prevent anything in the nature of a hostile vote.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, seeing the nature of the question, he thought it better not to put contrary views on the accuracy of the parables which had been drawn between the conduct of the Government in Opposition and the conduct of the Government when not in Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had re-asserted his convictions with regard to the motives that actuated him upon the Bulgarian Question; and, although on his mind it was still vivid, or appeared to be vivid, that the right hon. Gentleman drew a broad distinction between atrocities practised upon Christians and atrocities practised upon Mussulmans, on principle he still thought that it was the nature of the right hon. Gentleman to devote himself with undivided zeal to one side of the question, and the earnestness with which he devoted himself to its contemplation had a tendency to prevent him from realizing all that was concerned on the other side. He (Mr. O'Donnell) need not say that he most warmly and earnestly sympathized with the hon. Member for Greenwich in bringing1 forward this subject. As a member of the Catholic community, he was perfectly certain that he expressed the feelings of the entire Catholic community in Great Britain and Ireland in assuring the hon. Member for Greenwich of the cordial sympathy of all his co-religionists. The Head of the Catholic Church in this Kingdom had already, in a manner far beyond his power to emulate, given expression to his deep and warm sympathy with the persecuted Jews. But while expressing his very deep sympathy with the object which the hon. Member for Greenwich had in view, he (Mr. O'Donnell) could not but see that this Resolution was divisible into two parts; that one part of this Resolution proposed that they should express their sympathy, and that the other suggested that the British Government should enter upon a course of remonstrance with the Russian Government for the protection of the Jews in Russia. With the first part of the Resolution he entirely agreed; but when the hon. Member for Greenwich asked them to initiate a movement of remonstrance with the Russian Government, he might say frankly that he did not think, in the first place, that there was much in the character of the British Government to entitle it to any 56 special moral respect at the hands of the Russian Government when they had to deal with the ill-treatment of subject populations. This was not a subject with which he wished to deal at any length; but, if he were disposed, he could easily show that there was not a disability inflicted upon the Jews in Russia which was not at this moment inflicted upon vastly larger masses of Her Majesty's subjects in one part or another of the British Empire; and the times had been when infamies hardly inferior to those perpetrated on the Jews of Russia had been committed in Jamaica, in India, and in Ireland by persons who, if not actual agents, were suspiciously like agents of the British Government of the day. The first consideration, therefore, to be kept in view on an occasion like the present was whether any official remonstrance, such as that now suggested on behalf of the suffering Jews, would be calculated to benefit or to injure those whom it was intended to serve. It might elicit a retaliatory despatch intimating that the British Government was at times more addicted to preaching than to practising all the Commandments. When, moreover, it was borne in mind that popular feeling in Russia was directed almost as strongly against the English as against the Teutonic race, he thought Her Majesty's Government ought to hesitate, out of regard for the interests of the Russian Jews alone, to assume the part of their special protectors. Not only might they expose themselves to a sharp tu quoque despatch from the Russian Chancellerie with no practical alternative but quietly to pocket the affront, but it would increase the unpopularity of the Jewish race in Russia if it was supposed to be covered by the œgis of England. A moral remonstrance on behalf of the Russian Jews from the Liberal Government would have no backbone behind it; and he strongly suspected that even a Conservative Ministry would think twice before picking a quarrel with Russia in such a matter. That question having, however, been raised in the House, it would be worse than a lame and impotent conclusion if the House either abstained from expressing any opinion upon it or rejected the Motion of the hon. Member for Greenwich. He thought there was abundant power in the hands of the Jews to put down such outrages 57 as these. He could not but remember that in the hands of the Jews themselves rested the control of the Money Markets of the world; and, so long as that was the fact, a Government like Russia must depend largely upon the favour of the rulers of the Money Market. Of course, there might be no objection on the part of the British Government to remonstrate with a weak Government; and he hoped those on the Government side of the House who saw the immense difficulties of Governmental remonstrances with a strong Government would recognize the advisability of recording some emphatic declaration of their sympathy with the persecuted Jews, and their abhorrence of the cruelty with which they had been treated.
§ MR. ARTHUR COHEN
said, that there were two questions which they had to consider. The principal question, perhaps, was, whether the course which his hon. Friend had invited the House to take was likely to conduce to the benefit of the Jews in Russia? But there was also another question—namely, whether that course was or was not consistent with precedents, with International Law, and with the usage and the dignity of the House? He need hardly say that he sympathized with the sufferings of his co-religionists in Russia. He had done his best to assist the efforts of the Russian Jewish Committee, presided over by his hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild). It ought to be observed that his hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich did not bring forward his Motion with the sanction of that Committee. His hon. Friend brought it forward in opposition to the wishes of every Member of the Jewish persuasion in the House, with the exception of himself. They believed that the adoption of this Motion would seriously endanger and prejudice the position of their coreligionists in Russia. Public meetings had been held all over the country, in which men of all classes, creeds, and Parties joined, and to which our two great Universities of Oxford and Cambridge had given the weight of their influence and co-operation. They had expressed their detestation of those outrages, and declared that if Russia wished to retain the respect of England she must perform the primary duty of a civilized country—she must afford protection to all her citizens alike, without distinction of race or creed. He be- 58 lieved that nothing within the walls of Parliament could add to the effect produced by that remarkable manifestation of public feeling and opinion; and was afraid that much might take place here that would mar the good effect which had already been so produced, which might needlessly irritate the Russian Government, and still further excite the resentment and animosity of the Russian people against those 3,500,000 Jews dispersed over the Empire, who were now so completely at the mercy of the Russians. But he altogether declined to consider this question solely with reference to the interests of the Russian Jews. As an Englishman and as a Member of Parliament, he felt bound to take special care that his feelings and sympathies did not lead him to support any Motion which was inconsistent with precedent, with international usage, or with the dignity of Parliament. It appeared to him that there were only three cases in which it was proper for Parliament or the Government to protest against the conduct of a Foreign Government with reference to its own subjects. These cases were—first, where England became a party to a Treaty which guarded the interests of a people subject to a Foreign Government; secondly, where England was bound by the conditions of a Treaty, or by a regard to her own interests, to protect the independence of another foreign country; and, thirdly, where a Government instigated or actively encouraged atrocities of a very flagrant character. In this last case humanity and civilization might compel the Government to protest; but even in this case no protest ought to be made unless the Government were ready to follow it up by act or deed. Unless it could be followed up by act or deed, it was sure to impair the dignity and weaken the influence of the Government and of Parliament; and it was likely to injure, delude, and deceive the people on whose behalf it was made. As far as he could judge, there was no evidence proving that the Russian Government had instigated those persecutions. [Baron HENRY DE WORMS: Oh, oh!] If the Russian Government were, in fact, guilty of the political crime apparently now imputed to it by the hon. Member, then it seemed to him that the Motion he had brought forward was singularly feeble and inadequate. In such a case the House, if 59 it took any action, could, in his opinion, do nothing less than call upon Her Majesty's Government to make use of the European Concert and formally protest against persecution and outrages which were a disgrace to civilization. There was, however, in his opinion, no sufficient proof justifying this House to prefer so grave a charge against the Russian Government. Under the se circumstances, the Motion before the House was inopportune and inexpedient. For his own part, he felt sure that the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister, who had both taken so active a part in the political emancipation of the Jews of this country, would exert all their influence with the Russian Government with a view of improving the position of the Jews in the Empire of Russia. For these reasons, he should feel it his duty to withhold his support from the Motion before the House.
§ MR. BOURKE
said, he thought that this was a subject which it was desirable the House should approach with as much unanimity as possible. The more unanimous they were on that occasion the more powerful would be the result of the very interesting discussion they had had that evening. He was quite certain that when the remarks of his hon. Friend were published and known throughout this country and the world, they would carry with them universal sympathy. Practically, he thought that the House was unanimous upon the merits of this question. It would, therefore, be a most deplorable thing if for any reason the value of that unanimity should be lessoned. His right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote) had invited Her Majesty's Government to say a little more than had fallen from the Prime Minister; and it was hoped that before the debate closed the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs would be in a position to give that additional assurance, or at least clear up what was obscure in the words of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. He was quite sure that his hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich would think that his object had been attained, and would be willing to withdraw his Motion, if the hon. Baronet could inform the House that this subject of the Jews would receive the attention of English diplomatists abroad, and that those who represented Eng- 60 land in foreign countries would bring it to the notice of the Governments to which they were respectively accredited. He did not ask the Government to make any promise; all he asked them to do was to lay down the proposition that this was a subject which English diplomatists could bring before the notice of foreign Governments. If that were so, their diplomatists would, no doubt, take the opportunity, whenever a good one arose, of bringing the subject to the notice of Foreign Governments. He hoped the hon. Baronet would be able to give that assurance, that he would go that length, which was certainly not one much further than an influential Member of the Government in "another place "had gone. Under such circumstances he should advise his hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. ECROYD
said, nothing could be further from his wish than to introduce into this debate anything which had, in the slightest degree, a Party aspect. But he was glad the subject had been brought forward, for that great and free Parliament had ever been the chosen arena in which were debated questions which touched the cause of freedom, the interests of humanity, and the immunity of oppressed races from unjust persecution. In his opinion, the greatest object to be attained by the present discussion was the emphatic expression of the undoubtedly unanimous opinion of the people of this country on the subject. He hoped that Her Majesty's Government would be prepared, consistently with the limitations laid down by the Prime Minister, to put in motion that wise, judicious, and, it might be, quiet, unpretending action of her trusted agents to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded. He j trusted that no result detrimental to the interests of the Jews would follow from the debate; and that the feeling attributed by the Prime Minister to the Emperor of Russia might insure a cordial reception of those delicate and prudent suggestions which he hoped would be made. He felt that, in one respect, the Jews occupied a position which gave them a special claim on their sympathy, and demanded the exercise of whatever influence they might rightly be able to use on their behalf. He would not speak of their great interest as Christian men in the Jewish race and religion, or of the debt of gratitude which the world 61 owed to that remarkable people. The Jews had no localized nationality, no Government that could speak in their name, or appeal in the name of humanity to the various nations for better treatment and greater enjoyment of personal freedom; and on that account he thought they had a right to expect that England, who had! always been foremost in the promotion of freedom in every country, should especially speak on their behalf. He trusted that this debate would have the effect of placing before the public of Europe a j temperate expression of sympathy with the Jewish people in their affliction dissociated from all trace of Party feeling.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that he could no longer defer rising to answer the appeal that had been made to him by hon. Members opposite. It was quite impossible for Her Majesty's Government to go beyond the ground that they had taken up in reference to this subject on former occasions. As the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bourke) had referred to the words which had been used on behalf of the Government in "another place" in relation to this question, he now begged to repeat them for the information of the House. They were as follows:—If we apply this rule to ourselves, it is perfectly impossible to apply another rule to other countries; and, even putting aside the question of right, I believe that nothing would be more inexpedient than to do so. We should either irritate the foreign Governments or weaken them with regard to their own subjects in dealing with the question. It has been strongly suggested, by some who acknowledge that diplomatic interference would be a mistake, that we should privately and confidentially use our influence on this point. Now, I imagine that no person placed in the position which I happen to occupy would not avail himself of any proper opportunity, when it was likely to have effect, to refer in an unofficial manner to any subject that affects the good of humanity or the friendly relations between the two countries, although the question might not be properly one for diplomatic interference. But I beg to point out that if such a Minister were either to boast he had done so, or publicly promise he would do so, it would at once entirely change the character of unofficial and private communications, which sometimes, though not always, may be of the greatest value."—[3 Hansard, cclxvi. 227.]Those were the views which were expressed on this subject on behalf of Her Majesty's Government in "another place" on a former occasion, and Her Majesty's Government saw no reason for departing from them now. He 62 trusted that that language would commend itself to those who supported this Motion, because it had fully satisfied the Representatives of the same Party in "another place." Having made those remarks, he should not have further trespassed upon the attention of the House had it not been for the fact that in the course of the very able speech of the Mover of the Amendment there were some reflections made upon the character of the Consular Reports which might have been omitted. The hon. Member spoke of those Reports as being worthless Papers, that the information they contained was untrustworthy, having been founded upon hearsay evidence picked up at St. Petersburg. Those were very strong expressions for the hon. Member to have used with regard to those Reports; and he could assure the House that the charges they contained were not well founded. It was perfectly true that the outrages were only at first referred to in the very brief telegrams that had been received from their Consular Agents in Russia, and that the detailed Reports did not reach this country until several months afterwards. This delay in the forwarding of the Reports was inevitable, inasmuch as they had no Consular Representatives in those places where the worst outrages occurred. But when the hon. Member said that the information contained in those Reports was utterly untrustworthy, and was founded upon hearsay evidence picked up in St. Petersburg, he must say that he was mistaken. Thus Colonel Maude had been an eye-witness of the outrages at Warsaw, Consul General Stanley of those at Odessa, Vice Consul Lowe of those at Berdiansk, and Vice Consul Wagstaff of those at Nicolaieff, while Lieutenant Law, who had been their Vice Consul at St. Petersburg, had been sent all over Podolia, where the worst outrages had been committed. They had the evidence of four of their Consuls General or Vice Consuls who had been eye-witnesses of the outrages. The hon. Member was not justified in saying that those Reports were untrustworthy. Not only had Her Majesty's Government received Colonel Maude's Report, but its Members had also had the opportunity of speaking to him several times on the subject. With regard to the statement of the hon. Member that all persona in that House were of the same opinion as to the 63 character of these outrages, he wished to point out that the Prime Minister, in reply to the hon. and learned Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Serjeant Simon), on February 9, had said—My hon. and learned Friend has called my attention to a subject to which no man of ordinary feeling can refer without sentiments of the utmost pain and horror;while that evening the right hon. Gentleman had referred to the outrages as "deeds which are terrible and atrocious," and as "deeds which are a disgrace to Christianity and humanity." He concurred with the hon. and learned Members for Southwark and Dewsbury (Mr. Cohen and Mr. Serjeant Simon), who spoke with great weight and authority as Representatives of the Jewish community, when they expressed the opinion that anything like serious representation by Her Majesty's Government to the Government of Russia on the subject would be more likely to do harm than good. He had certainly been rather surprised to hear the hon. Member opposite cite the instance of our interference in the cases of Roumania and of Bulgaria as being in point, because they were totally distinct from the present case. In the former case they were about to confer certain privileges upon the country; and in the latter they had Treaty rights which did not exist in the present case. But with regard to the general principles which should actuate a Government in making representations to a Foreign Power, he would merely refer to the view taken by Lord Derby when he held the Office of Conservative Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He had then said—We must not suppose that in a day we can overcome the rooted prejudices of years. For my own part, I have great confidence, not so much in diplomatic representations, as in the pressure of general European opinion, which as nations come more and more into contact with each other is brought to bear on every community and people.He need not endorse the eloquent words of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Slagg) with regard to the position of the Jews in this country, and the opinion he had formed as to the beneficial effects of a policy of toleration in developing the full intellectual powers of the Jewish race. Her Majesty's Government had always expressed those views in the face of Europe; but there was a great difference between holding those views and interfering in the internal affairs of a 64 foreign country. All the precedents of interference abroad had been precedents which it was not well to follow, for interference with Spain in 1848 had been severely attacked by the late Lord Beaconsfield; and it was now the general opinion of those who looked back to the time that their interference on that occasion somewhat justified the rebuff they received from the Government of Spain. It would also be remembered that their interference in Naples in 1858 was not productive of satisfactory results. It had been declared by the Representatives of the Jewish community of England—and in that declaration he himself agreed—that the acceptance of the Motion by Her Majesty's Government was not calculated, on the whole, to do any good to the suffering Jews in Russia; and he therefore hoped, after the assurance that had been given, that the hon. Gentleman would withdraw his Motion.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
agreed to withdraw his Motion, on the assurance that the Government would do their utmost to make such representations as were possible within the lines laid down by a noble Lord in "another place;" and he ventured to hope that the expression of opinion they had heard that day, so far from doing harm, would, on the contrary, do good to the cause they all had at heart.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, the tone of the Prime Minister's speech that night presented a remarkable contrast to that which he adopted four or five years ago in regard to outrages in another part of Europe. What were the facts? The State of Russia was one in which no expression of opinion, no Resolution, however forcible, that was passed by the House of Commons could be known to the Russian people except by the will and authorization of the Russian Government. A complete cloud of ignorance was spread over the whole of the Russian Empire; therefore the argument used by our Government, that a Resolution of this kind would do harm to the Jews, fell to the ground, unless they confessed that they were afraid that the Czar and his Ministers might be so wicked as deliberately to make use of such a Resolution in order to excite the population against the Jews. The Russian Government was a barbarous and unscrupulous one, just as the Russians were a barbarous and ignorant 65 people. These atrocities were carried out with the connivance of high Russian officials, and with the Russian troops looking on. Indeed, in one case a Governor, who ought to have been held responsible and punished for them, was actually promoted. What was the position of the House with reference to this Resolution? He should be sorry if the hon. Member for Greenwich withdrew it, for if he did not mean to press it he ought not to have put it on the Paper. The hon. Member had ascertained the opinion of the Prime Minister on a previous occasion, and had been told that the Government considered that the Resolution would do harm to the Jews if it was brought forward. If the hon. Gentleman did divide, and hon. Gentlemen opposite voted against him, they would find hereafter that, so far as their constituencies were concerned, it was a most unfortunate step for them to take. He had already asked what was the position of the House of Commons with respect to this subject? They deplored these atrocities, and they saw that the Resolution did not propose to censure the Russian Government. It merely expressed horror at these outrages, which the Prime Minister stated the Russian Government itself deplored, although he (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) very much doubted it. The Resolution simply asked the Government to make representations to the Russian Government on the question at the time they thought proper and in the way they thought best. But let it be known that the House of Commons was not afraid to agree to a Resolution condemning atrocities which were a disgrace to humanity. What would the nation say? Why, it would be felt that the Government were afraid to make these official representations for fear if they made any representations to the Russian Government, the latter would reply to the Prime Minister—"Physician, healthy-self; how is it that you are pressing us to maintain order and peace, and to respect life and property, when in an integral portion of your own Empire you are unable to do the same within a distance of 400 or 500 miles of your Metropolis?" And, no doubt, the same retort might be made with reference to the action of the British Ministry as to the reforms in Armenia. So far as the argument of the Prime Mi- 66 nister regarding the possible excitement amongst the Russian populace was concerned, the Russian populace were absolutely under the control of their Government—never more so than at the present moment—and they could not do anything without the permission of that Government; in short, the Russian Government could have prevented these outrages, could now prevent them, and could prevent them in the future were they so inclined. The fact was, however, that they rather wished these outrages to continue, in order to distract the attention of the people from considering the misdeeds of those who governed them. The Prime Minister evidently wished them to believe that the Czar of Russia was as desirous as they were that these outrages should be put an end to. But how was the Czar situated? He was virtually imprisoned; and he (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) doubted very much whether General Ignatieff allowed him to know very much of what was going on in his own Dominions. Even if he did, it is doubtful whether he would object, because he allowed atrocities of equal magnitude to be committed on vast numbers of his subjects. High Russian authorities had before now been cognizant of, and had looked on at, outrages as bad as those committed on these unfortunate Jews. The treatment of the Mussulmans by the Bulgarians and by the Russian troops was infamous yet these the Skobeleffs, the Todlebens, the Gourkas, and all their most famous Generals had witnessed, and in mid-winter Skobeleff had himself given the order to his destroying troops to fire upon and drive into the mountains a vast encampment of 80,000 men, women, and children, who perished there of cold and starvation. There were numerous similar cases in the late war between Russia and Turkey, and in Central Asia. In fact, it would be found that, for the last 100 years up to the present time, Russians, whether in high or low position, had never hesitated to exercise the most revolting cruelty on those who were unfortunate enough to fall under their power. It was vain, therefore, for the Prime Minister, in what might be termed his usual subterranean fashion, to throw in a word in favour of the Czar and the Russian Government, by declaring that this miserable persecution of the Jews was a fact which both the Czar and his 67 Government deeply deplored, but were unable to put a stop to. He rather regretted the language that had been used by the hon. Member for Greenwich with respect to the Consular Reports from Russia. The position of an English Consul in that country was a very painful one. If he was a strictly conscientious man he could hardly remain there; if he was a needy and an easy-going man he might remain there, but he could not furnish full and true Reports. It was no secret that Lord Dufferin refused to remain at St. Petersburg because he would not consent to hoodwink Ms Government and the English people; for an English official in Russia must either remain with his eyes shut and return such Reports home as the Russian Government chose to give him, or he must leave his post. It was absolutely impossible for an English newspaper correspondent to stay in St. Petersburg, for after he had sent two or three letters to his paper his whereabouts was discovered, and he was either told to leave, or allowed to stay on condition that his letters should be viséd by the Russian authorities. As he had said before, the Russian people were kept in profound ignorance of everything that was going on; and until the English Government and the House of Commons recognized that fact, they would never succeed when they had any dealings with Russian Ministers. They could never persuade the Russian Government to do anything; but the influence of fear might be brought to bear upon them with advantage. General Skobeleff was recalled because they were afraid of the Germans and Austrians, although there was no doubt he went to France as the Russian Agent. The circumstances of the case changed, however, when M. Gambetta fell; the combination collapsed as soon as more moderate and abler men took the reins of power in France, and our Government had, from the same cause, found themselves in a great difficulty with regard to Egypt, Owing to the management of Prince Bismarck, Russia was for a time friendless in Europe.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, he thought that when the right hon. Gentleman saw his deduction he would consider his argument a fair one, as he 68 was endeavouring to show that, at a moment when Russia was standing alone, England might, even single-handed, play upon her fears, and exercise a considerable amount of influence over her in favour of these suffering Jews. If this Motion was withdrawn, he was of opinion that the House would be placed in a very false position, as the country would think they were ready enough to bully Turkey in 1876, but were afraid to make an official representation to Russia, with reference to similar movements, in 1882. He did not believe that this Resolution, if passed, would do the Jews in Russia any harm; but if it did, it would show that the Russian Government were so barbarous that no Resolution passed by this or any other Parliament would have any effect upon them. It would have been far more creditable to the Prime Minister, after the savage language he had used towards the Turks, if he had taken some action in the matter; for the outrages that he had so bitterly complained of were not committed by the Turkish Government or by the Turkish authorities, but by the Bulgarian Christians upon the Bulgarian Mussulmans. He did not think that the attitude of the Prime Minister was consistent, or that it would redound to his credit or reputation in the country.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he was sorry the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett), with whom he generally sympathized, had not heard the last three speeches and the arrangement which had been come to. Had he been in the House he would hardly have made what might be called a general speech on the subject of Russia. He thought the hon. Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry de Worms) was perfectly entitled, from his position in reference to the Jewish community, to bring the question forward in the manner he had, and that it was most unhandsome on the part of some other Members of the same community in that House to object to his assuming the part he had taken in it. As Christians, they all owed the greatest debt to the Jews, who had, among other remarkable services, preserved the Sacred Scriptures; and he was glad to observe the kindly feeling shown by the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who breathed the language of Lord Derby. He had no 69 doubt the Government would take some opportunity of making unofficial remonstrances; and, if remonstrances failed, he believed there was yet in the country something of the spirit it displayed in the days of Cromwell, who, rebel as he was in England, and tyrant in Ireland, threatened that the thunder of England's cannon should be heard on the Tiber if the persecution of Protestants continued.
§ MR. E. COLLINS
said, he felt that he should not be justified in allowing this debate to come to a conclusion without expressing condemnation of the language employed by the hon. Member for Eye towards a great and powerful State, between which and ourselves the most friendly relations continued to exist. During the years he had had a seat in the House, he could not call to mind utterances respecting any great friendly Power which pained him more than did these of the hon. Gentleman whose statements he had to complain of. He confessed that he listened with astonishment to his speech; and he asked himself how it was possible that any Member of this House in his representative capacity, how an educated Gentleman of any refinement, could so far forget himself as to have dared, he might say, to use such language? What had the hon. Member for Eye asserted? He told them in effect that the Czar of Russia, the great Ruler of 84,000,000 of people, was an assassin and a murderer, the slaughterer of his own subjects.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
explained, that he had not said that the Czar was a murderer or an assassin. What he had said was that, considering the oppression which existed under the rule of the Czar, it would not create any surprise if he was more or less acquainted with the treatment of the Jews.
§ MR. E. COLLINS
said, the hon. Member's explanation did not help him out of the difficulty, for he admitted having associated indirectly, if not directly, the Czar with the slaughter of his subjects, because an infuriated mob, blinded with drunken passion, had taken the lives of 56 poor, unoffending, and unprotected victims, as if such a miserable sacrifice were needed to sustain his authority; and he had also told them that the Government of Russia was a savage and a barbarous Government. [Mr. ASH- 70 MEAD-BARTLETT: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member for Eye further said that the Government of Russia had lent themselves, if the Czar had not done it, to the incitement of outrages. [Mr. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT: Hear, hear!] It would be interesting to know whence the hon. Member for Eye had derived his information. He (Mr. Collins) had resided for many years in Russia, and had mixed in Russian society, from the highest almost to the lowest, and he would venture to say that the information of one who had resided in the country, and who knew its people, might be placed against that of the hon. Member, whose statements he confidently contraverted. In conclusion, he would venture to suggest to the hon. Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry de Worms) that it would be a graceful act on his part if, at the termination of the discussion he had initiated in so proper a spirit, he would withdraw the imputations he had placed upon the Government of Russia. One was to the effect that Russia had connived at these proceedings against the Jews. On another occasion he said that these infamous outrages were done with the connivance of the Russian Government. He thought the hon. Member would withdraw such imputations, and that such a withdrawal would be to the advantage of himself and his co-religionists in Russia.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
reminded the House that if some Jews in Russia had fallen into the lowest occupations in life, as the hon. Member for Greenwich admitted, they had to contend with great persecution. He quoted the eloquent words of the late Sir Robert Peel on this point. Their degradation was the result of that persecution; and wherever, as in England, they were admitted to the privileges of the country in which they lived, they were always to be found among the best and most useful citizens in the State. The hon. Member had done very great service, not only to the community of which he was an honoured member, but to the cause of humanity at large, in bringing this matter before the House.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.