HL Deb 12 August 1853 vol 129 cc1605-52

My Lords, in accordance with the notice I placed on the Minutes of your Lordships' House, I rise to move for the papers which I there mentioned, being a translation of the two circulars addressed by Count Nesselrode to the diplomatic agents of the Russian Government, and published in the St. Petersburgh Gazette; and also, any answer which Her Majesty's Government may have sent to the statements therein contained. Your Lordships may easily imagine that if I had been moved by any party feeling or factious motives, or even by any feeling of personal vanity, in wishing to present myself before you to discuss so important a question as the present, I should not have chosen this late period of the Session—I should have risen before now to ask what had been the negotiations of the Government on this subject, and should not have waited until within a very few days of the close of the Session, and when so few noble Friends of mine are in London to attend the House. But, my Lords, having once had the honour of being in the position which my noble Friend opposite now holds, I certainly thought every indulgence should be given to a Minister employed, as he had been, in a question of such momentous importance to the peace of Europe. I therefore, as your Lordships well know, having at different periods asked questions of the noble Earl as to the continuance and the result of his negotiations, have always bowed to his wish and the wish of the Government, not to proceed into the whole matter in question, and not in any way to embarrass the Government, inasmuch as they led us to suppose that any premature discussion upon the subject, would possibly have prevented that happy result which we all so anxiously desired. But with respect to the papers for which I now move, I may fairly say they are not to be set in the same category as negotiations and correspondence carried on by a continued series of despatches. I must say, judging from the little experience I had in the office now held by my noble Friend, that I can see no objection to the production of the papers, which are not correspondence, but which have been published to all Europe by the Emperor of Russia himself in his own language, and which have appeared in the language and in the public prints of France and England. For the same reason I cannot see any objection why we should not have the answers which we understood, the other night, had been made by my noble Friend opposite to those manifestoes of the Emperor of Russia. Those manifestoes contain much that ought to be answered; they contain much that none of your Lordships can possibly assent to; and inasmuch as the French Government did answer them immediately and ably, and inasmuch as two out of three of the parties engaged in these negotiations have publicly put forth their sentiments on the matter, I cannot understand on what ground Her Majesty's Government can stand up to refuse to your Lordships and to the other House of Parliament their reply, which we are told would be sent soon after that of the French Government. I was told, when I asked for papers connected with this question, that it was not the custom in this country to publish diplomatic correspondence. It is certainly perfectly true that diplomatic communications are for obvious reasons kept back until the Minister, in the exercise of his discretion, thinks it right to place them before Parliament; but, as I said before, I do not think these papers come within the category of that correspondence; and there certainly are precedents, well known to your Lordships, for not opposing their production, which will at once relieve my noble Friend, who is anything but a pedant, from any pedantic pressure that might be laid on him by official custom. In 1822, if I am not mistaken, when the entry of the French army into Spain took place, Mr. Canning immediately published a paper on that subject—I believe within four and twenty hours of the time when the news arrived; and, to go to a much later period, it is only a few months since Lord John Russell published in the newspapers of the day despatch which he had sent, in the case of the Madiai, to the Court of Tuscany.

My Lords, before I say one word more on the question—a question which has certainly caused more public anxiety than anything which occurred during the last twenty years—I must remind my noble Friend opposite that, after thirty-eight years of peace, when the minds of men have been turned for so long a time to the peaceful employments of commerce and the arts civilisation, we may, perhaps, feel somewhat more nervous than our forefathers did, who were more accustomed to long wars and hostile alarms. We have all the indications of the greatest possible agitation in this country, and all the signs of that apprehension must have been clear to your Lordships. There has been a great fall in the funds, there has been a great rise in certain provisions, and there has been a considerable dulness in speculation and trade; and I think the Government ought to leave no means unemployed to allay the excitement, which has been certainly raised to a very high pitch. I believe, however, that that excitement and those apprehensions have been very much increased by the continued and lengthened mystery which the Government have thrown over their operations and negotiations on this subject. This state of things may be now said to have continued ever since the month of March last. It was difficult for you, as it was difficult for me, to believe, when we first saw these signs of an aggression on the part of Russia upon an ancient ally—that most important country to us and to all. Europe, Turkey—it was certainly a matter of great astonishment to every per- son here, who had for so many years placed the greatest confidence, not only in the honour of the Emperor of Russia, but also in the conservative policy in which he so long appeared to pride himself, and which he had so emphatically proved during the Revolutions of 1848. My Lords, no one could be more astonished than myself; for during the year 1852, when I had the honour of holding the office which my noble Friend now holds, it was impossible for any Court to give more repeated assurances, to show a more sincere interest in the maintenance of the treaties by which Europe is bound, and in those territorial arrangements which have happily subsisted for so long a period, than the Emperor of Russia. If there is one Sovereign more than another, if there is one Government in Europe more than another, which impressed on me the important of maintaining inviolate those treaties, and an interest that the present territorial distribution of Europe should remain undisturbed, it was the Emperor of Russia and his Government. Not being in office, I cannot follow the events which have taken place so closely as my noble Friend, who is acquainted with all their various details; but I cannot help thinking I can account in a great degree for what has happened. The Emperor of Russia, it appears, was of deeply irritated at the conduct of the French Government in respect to the Holy Shrines in Palestine. My Lords, that subject had long occupied my attention, and that of Her Majesty's Government, while I held the seals of office, and we left no opportunity untried of urging the French Government to bring to an early and satisfactory issue that unfortunate dispute. On the part of the French Government and the French Emperor we were met by assurances that they were equally anxious to bring that dispute to an end, and that they would make no unreasonable demands; and just before my noble Friend, then at the head of the Government, left office, the French Ambassador at Constantinople was changed, and M. de la Cour, a man of singularly mild and conciliating conduct succeeded in his place. But, my Lords, it appears that, in the Emperor of Russia's mind, what had passed had not been effaced in consequence of the feeling on the part of the French Government, which impression subsequently assumed a more practical form. Although, when M. de la Cour had repaired to Constantinople, the question relating to these Holy Places had been fully and satisfactorily settled; and although this took place before Prince Menschikoff arrived at Constantino still it appears that the impression on the mind of the Russian Government remained unaltered—that they were dissatisfied with the settlement of that question, and still suspected, or pretended to suspect, the Turkish Government of wishing again to impose upon them conditions which they thought they had no right to impose. It is impossible for us or any human being to read the human mind; but your Lordships are well aware of the traditional policy imputed to Russia and its successive Governments, and it is impossible, therefore, to divest the mind of the idea that probably the Russian Government might have conceived from these circumstances, that the moment had arrived, to which a vast portion of the Russian population had been taught for many generations to look forward, as the predestined epoch at which they were to march to the southward, and obtain possession of the capital and the country which their former sovereigns had so long coveted. Now, supposing these feelings to have been shared by the present Emperor of Russia, and by the members of his Government, I must say that I think they have been, if not urged, at least not restrained, from yielding to the fatal temptation presented by the course of events which had recently occurred. When Her Majesty's late Government was in office, our policy was naturally reviewed, canvassed, and criticised on many points; but there was one upon which unremitting censure was showered from that portion of the press which represented, or appeared to represent, the opinions of the then Opposition. The newspapers of the day, during the whole time that Lord Derby's Government were in office, fiercely assailed his foreign policy—I mean that part of the foreign policy which was followed with regard to France; and if one newspaper exceeded another in constant abuse of the policy which prompted us to maintain a close reliance with France, it was a newspaper, supposed by the public—I know not whether justly or not—to be peculiarly connected and intimately associated with that political party whose members are more celebrated for their talents than for their numbers, and who have since formed a most important portion of the present Administration. That newspaper and others of the Opposition continually taunted us with what they called our subservient and cringing policy to the French Emperor. Personally, my Lords, I was continually abused—even terms of ribaldry were continually used upon this point whenever the subject was discussed:—indeed, it was broadly insinuated in these newspapers that I was unworthy of the post that I occupied—that I had acted unfaithfully to my trust, and had lost the feelings of an Englishman, and was altogether blinded to the interests of my country by my extraordinary partiality to a foreign nation and a foreign ruler. If I could have been personally moved by such observations, I have the satisfaction of knowing, as subsequent events have proved, that that policy, that close alliance formed with the new dynasty in France, has been productive of the most important consequences to this country. I have had the satisfaction of seeing the columns of those very newspapers commending this intimate alliance with France as the most useful, and prudent, and important policy; and, going still further in exaggeration than I should have thought it possible, it has been proclaimed that it is the only alliance that is of any use or consequence to England. As far as I am personally concerned, I have the satisfaction of knowing that my successor in office—one of the most eminent Members of the present Government—stated to the House of Commons, cordially and generously, that in my policy with respect to France I had maintained the dignity of my country. It was not, therefore, as a matter of personal annoyance that I regretted these systematic attacks against our policy towards France; but it was because I knew that foreign countries did not understand what we Englishmen understand, that certain journals belong to one party and certain others to another, and that whoever may happen to be Minister is certain of being continuously and vigorously abused by the newspapers in the interest of the parties opposed to him. This, my Lords, I knew as well as your Lordships; and not one of you who might have been in my place, would have escaped being attacked in the same way; but I regretted the persevering attacks on our important neighbour and on our own policy, and our anxiety to maintain a close alliance with her, because I was satisfied they would not be understood at their real value, but would be construed into a wish, not of the general body, but of the majority of the English people, either to be averse to an alliance with France, or to be indifferent to that alliance. I cannot help thinking that the language of the press during eleven months, always taking this direction, must unfortunately have made a very strong impression on foreign Courts, but above all upon the Court of Russia. But if such an impression does exist—I know, as a fact that it does generally exist—how much that impression must have been strengthened, if not changed into almost positive conviction, by the circumstances which followed! Lord Derby's Government resigned on the 28th of December, and Her Majesty's present Government succeeded to their places. Your Lordships know that, especially upon the foreign policy of the new Government, the eyes of all Europe were turned—that the probability of what view they might take on foreign policy was anxiously canvassed in foreign Courts. I say these foreign Courts, being under the impression which they had received from the constant language of the Opposition press whilst we were in office, had their attention at that moment attracted by two remarkable speeches, made in allusion to France, by two Members of Her Majesty's Government. My noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Clarendon) will not, of course, suppose that I am making any attack on him, for he was not then in office; as little can the noble Earl suppose that I am attacking his eminent Colleague who succeeded me in office (Lord John Russell); nor am I making an attack on the noble Earl at the head of the Government, for both of them must have deplored those speeches as much as I did; but still, they were made—one of them at Carlisle by the First Lord of the Admiralty, one of the most experienced Members of the Cabinet; and the other by the President of the Board of Control, at Halifax. In those speeches the speakers did not hesitate openly to condemn the policy and character of the present Emperor of the French, the ally of Her Majesty, nor did they hesitate openly to condemn the French people for their choice of that Prince as their Sovereign; and the only inference that could be drawn from those speeches, which I will not take the trouble to quote, was, that those two Members of the Government were actuated by a hostile feeling towards the people and the Prince of the country of which they spoke. Now, my Lords, can it be supposed that the speeches of two such distinguished individuals, following on the language which the Opposition press had then for so long a period used, made no impression on the Emperor of Russia, adhering to the hereditary tra- dition of his family, and hesitating whether he should yield to the temptations of his position? Do you not suppose that the first feeling he must have had, in common with all other Sovereigns and States, was that it was impossible that a cordial and practical understanding and alliance could continue between France and England, when a new Government had succeeded to office supposed to be under impressions of political hostility to France? It is consistent to suppose that this should have been the case. I know it was the case. I know the impression made, and I know the convictions forced on the minds of all the leading persons in every Court in Europe. This, I say, was an additional temptation to Russia; because if England and France do not hold together, and together resist any aggression on Turkey, there can be no doubt that Turkey must fall. But there was after that another reason for doubting the anxiety of Her Majesty's Government to maintain the independence and freedom of the Turkish Sultan. I think Her Majesty's Government did not, at the time when the Austrian Government sent a diplomatist to make demands on Turkey, show that activity in supporting their ancient ally which it would have been their wisest as well as their most honourable policy to evince. I think that, when Prince Leiningen's mission took place, there was a certain supineness shown by our Government with respect to the language used and the demands made by Austria; I will not go into the whole of that question further than to say that we did not regard the Sultan's best interests when we allowed Austria to insist on the Sultan abstaining from further coercion of his own subjects, the rebellious Montenegrins, and we did not secure to the Turkish army a safe and peaceable retreat from the rough and dangerous country in which they were employed; because I know no previous instance in which an army has evacuated a hostile country by treaty, in which an agreement has not been made that they shall not be molested in their retreat. In this case no such agreement was made in favour of the Turkish armies by her allies, England and France; and in consequence, in their retreat from those fastnesses the Turkish army lost 1,500 or 2,000 men. I think that this and other circumstances attending Prince Leiningen's mission, must have impressed the mind of the Emperor of Russia with a feeling that we were not very anxious to take a warm interest in measures for defending our ancient ally. But, as events passed on, there was another point which certainly must have confirmed the impression of the Russian Court, and which I know did make an impression on the different Courts of Europe. I speak of that period when, after Prince Mensehikoff had arrived at Constantinople, but before he had made his famous demands with respect to the privileges of the Greek population. At that period we had at Constantinople, as our Chargé d' Affaires, a gentleman of considerable experience, whose character was much appreciated by Lord Palmerston when he employed him, and of whom I can say nothing but praise during the time when I employed him—Colonel Rose—to whom it appeared that events were impending which made it desirable that the English and French fleets should approach near to Constantinople; and he recommended Admiral Dundas to go—I do not know whether he named any particular spot—in short he wished them to make a demonstration in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. It seems that Admiral Dundas took a different view of the case; and using, perhaps, a wise discretion, did not comply with that intimation. It appears, further, that Her Majesty's Government approved of Admiral Dundas's view of the subject, and took a different view of the necessity of the case from that entertained by Colonel Rose. I do not intend to say that it was desirable, that on that occasion, the English and French fleets should have repaired to Besika Bay, or even to Smyrna; but I think that it was of the highest consequence, of the most immense importance at that moment, that the English and French fleets should be as near together as possible, and that every appearance of want of cordiality, not only in the feelings but in the policy of the Governments of England and France, should have been carefully avoided. Now, my Lords, what happened? The French Government, taking alarm at Colonel Rose's view of the case, within two or three days, sent their fleet to the Greek waters at Salamis; while ours, notwithstanding the recommendation of our Chargé d' Affaires, remained at Malta. This circumstance naturally inspired the Courts of Europe with the idea that the two Government of England and France were proceeding on different lines of policy; and nothing, in my opinion, could have tended more than this unfortunate incident to encourage Russia to make the demands she afterwards preferred. I see no reason why our fleet should not have gone to Smyrna or Besika Bay; but it might even have gone to Naples, or any other friendly port, so as we might have appeared to be following the same policy as the French Government. If that had been done, I believe, on my conscience, it would have made such an impression on the Court of Russia that, bold as it may be, I am convinced that Prince Menschikoff would have stopped there, and not have made the demands which he subsequently did make. It is to these events that I attribute principally the demands made by Russia upon Turkey; and it is not in any way to attack Her Majesty's Government that I have made these observations, but only to call your Lordships' attention to these unfortunate circumstances as they happened:—to the abuse of the policy followed by the Earl of Derby's Government by the Opposition press; the impression, nay, the conviction on the minds of foreign Courts, subsequently strengthened by the language of Sir James Graham and Sir Charles Wood; and which finally appeared to be proved by the mistake made by the two Governments of England and France, when they did not at once place their fleets in a position to show to all Europe that their policy and their feelings were allied.

My Lords, with respect to the alliance which now happily exists between England and France, your Lordships know that Her Majesty's late Government valued it so much that they made its maintenance one of the principal points of their foreign policy. Discarding old prejudices which had hitherto existed between the two countries, they considered it as one of the most important elements of civilisation to extinguish those feelings which, after centuries of war, had only ended in leaving two great countries perfectly independent of each other, unable, although they had often tried to do so, to subjugate one another, so that all their power might be employed in spreading civilisation over every part of world, and in maintaining peace in Europe, founded on the territorial distribution which now exists. At the moment when we came into office, the French people had ratified the change which had been made in the Government by the President of the French. They had ratified the change from the Government of the Chambers to a despotic constitution, and it was evident to all who were at all acquainted with the President that he would not fail, as soon as possible, to restore the dynasty of his uncle. It was felt to be of great consequence, at that time, that this country should stand well with that new dynasty and that new Prince, occupying, as he did, an almost unparalleled position; and we found, with pleasure, that he was equally anxious with ourselves to establish relations of amity between the two nations. It was not by words alone that the Emperor of the French manifested his anxiety on this point. He proved it by acts during the whole time of our administration. He proved it when, being about to advance an army upon Switzerland, he accepted the advice and good offices of this country, as did the Helvetic Republic also, to settle their differences, and to put an end to a danger that might easily have brought on a war in Europe. He proved it when we wished to secure Cuba to Spain, and to save that island from the possibility of being annexed to the United States; and he showed it when we wished to render the river communication to South America open to the world, by establishing an ambassador, at the same time as ourselves, at Buenos Ayres. He proved it still more, perhaps, than in any of the other instances I have quoted, by his conduct, when an unfortunate discussion arose between the Sultan of Turkey and the Viceroy of Egypt, in consequence of the firman, by which, when the Sultan insisted, pedantically, as I think, insisted on forcing the tanzimat on a country as yet perfectly unsuited to receive that mild code which now rules in Turkey. This case was very remarkable, because your Lordships know the feeling with which France has always regarded English influence in Egypt. It has always been the traditional policy of France to thwart the English agents and English interests in Egypt. It was supposed to be impossible that French and English agents should act together in that country. At the very moment when the Sultan threatened to force his vassal to accept these laws, when that vassal seemed equally determined to resist, and the interests of Turkey would have been still further jeopardised by civil war, Her Majesty's late Government alone had failed in bringing the Sultan to reason. We were anxious on the point, and we appealed to other great Powers of Europe. My Lords, we found none more anxious than France to produce, and more efficacious in producing, the happy results that did take place; and in the arrangement that fol- lowed those negotiations, none were more active than the Government of France. Considering all the jealousies that existed with respect to that country, I think your Lordships will say that there could not be a stronger test of the sincerity of the French Government than their assistance at that moment. Then, again, with that Government we found no difficulty upon the vexed question of political refugees. Perhaps there is no country, on account of its vicinity to this country, which is more interested in the point than the Government of France. I will do them the justice to say, that never whilst I was in office did the Government of France show any unreasonably irritable feeling with respect to that question. I am glad that we were not discouraged by the attacks which were showered upon us by the daily press from carrying out that policy respecting our alliance with our great neighbour—a policy which was afterwards justified by the way in which it was practically met by the Government of France. But, my Lords, when I have said so much of one course of policy with regard to France, I must add, that it has in no way prevented our alliance with other countries continuing on the same footing of amity which existed between them and the Government which preceded ours. Our language, my Lords, to all countries was alike—that while England would not willingly become the adversary of any nation, at the same time she would be the ally of no Government or State which took on itself any act of aggression which would have the effect of destroying the landmarks of the present territorial arrangement in Europe, or would infringe any rights existing—any interference with which would meet with resistance and discouragement at her hands. My Lords, I think the present Government must have found, when they came into office, the happy results of the foreign policy which we thought it our duty to adopt; at all events, they certainly have found it in the intimate alliance which they have been able to maintain with France; because I said that, if it be true—and I trust it is true—that Turkey has been saved from Russian aggression and appropriation, that result is owing to England France; and the foundation which the late Government formed for a cordial alliance between those two Powers has now brought forth its fruits, and of these fruits none have been more ready to take advantage than the present Government.

My Lords, it is hardly necessary for me to point out to your Lordships the immense importance of maintaining the independence and integrity of Turkey; and, indeed, I should not touch on the subject at all, if I did not know that there is a section of politicians—a small one, happily, who openly and without hesitation declare that the independence and integrity of Turkey are not worth a war—that it signifies very little to whom Turkey belongs—and who do not scruple to say, when it is shown to them that unless the independence of Turkey be maintained, we could hardly maintain our hold of India, that they do not see in such an event as that any great calamity. It is, indeed, scarcely worth while answering such politicians. Still, however, I will venture to avail myself of this opportunity to bring to your Lordships' recollection of what importance the independence of Turkey is to this country. It will be found that our trade with Turkey is two-thirds better and more important than that with Russia. Your Lordships will also see that if Constantinople, the great emporium of Turkish commerce, by any division of Turkey, should happen to fall into the hands of Russia, the Mediterranean will be in the possession of three! great Powers—France, Russia, and England. It is now in the possession of England and France; but if you allow another close seas of the Euxine and the Marmora, and to possess itself of the flourishing capital of Constantinople, your Lordships will perceive that, if it should so happen that if she should join herself with any one of the other two Powers, it would be almost impossible for the other Power to maintain its position in the Mediterranean. I therefore cannot conceive any point in our foreign the politics of more vital consequence to this country than the maintenance of the independence and integrity of Turkey; and I can hardly imagine a sacrifice too great to secure that independence, for it would not only be for the interests of this country, but for the interests of peace, and the maintenance of the territorial distribution of Europe, as arranged by treaty. My Lords, it has been said by many persons in this country that the Turkish Empire is in a state of decay, and that the most prudent course to adopt with regard to it would be, laying aside all treaties and obligations, to come forward and make a partition of Turkey, or establish there some independent Government more suited to the state of European policy.My Lords, that is a theory, to my mind, at least, as absurd and ruinous as the one to which I have already referred. It is absurd to suppose that a Government so established, whatever might be its form, whether it be a federal Government of several States, an empire, or a monarchy, could be really independent, or that it would not be under the control and direction of Russia and Austria. It is impossible that such a Government could in any way maintain the equilibrium of power which now exists in Europe, but which would bid fair to be subverted unless the Ottoman Empire be maintained in all its integrity. My Lords, I, for one, do not agree with the statements which have been made, that the Turkish Empire is in a state of caducity. It has no debt, and its commerce has of late years much increased; and I do not believe, although it may perhaps be less civilised as regards its domestic affairs than other countries of Europe, that that circumstance renders it a bit the less formidable to its enemies, or that the axiom is true that in all cases civilisation makes a country more powerful in resisting the attack of an invading enemy. The Turkish army I believe to be in a better condition and more efficient than it used to be; the commerce of the country has considerably increased; the policy of Turkey to foreigners is an improving policy, and I know no country so liberal to all religious denominations. I am unable to see any symptoms of decay in the points to which I have called your Lordships' attention. An argument has been urged in support of the alleged caducity of the Ottoman Empire, to which I must beg your Lordships' attention. It has been said that the fact of the proportion of the Greek subjects of the Sultan being immensely larger than that of the Mussulman population, is a symptom of the caducity of the Turkish Empire. Now, that is an argument which might with equal, if not greater, cogency be applied to our Indian possessions. The excess of the Greek subjects over the Mussulmans in the Ottoman mpire is nothing compared with that of the Pagans over the Christians in our Indian territories—and yet it can hardly be said that that vast Empire is in a state of caducity.

My Lords, before I sit down I wish your Lordships to follow me in a sketch—the shortest I can possibly make—of what has occurred in Turkey during the last four or five months. It appears that the ques- tion of Holy Places being settled in February, immediately after the Emperor of Russia sent Prince Menschikoff to Constantinople, he arrived there apparently with no very distinct intentions; his language was haughty, his mien arrogant, and his manner peremptory; and the first act he committed after his arrival at Constantinople, was to insist up on the immediate dismissal of the then Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He then refused to hold any communication with the Minister, and insisted upon communicating directly with the sultan. My Lords, at that time he did not, however, make the proposition which has since become famous; that proposition was not put forward for six weeks after his arrival; and I must beg leave to point out to your Lordships what was in reality the purport—what the meaning—of that proposal. It insisted that the Turkish Government should grant, under treaty, to its Greek subjects for a perpetuity all those privileges which they had enjoyed by successive firmans from the Sultan—that was to say, privileges which they had enjoyed at the will and pleasure of their Sovereign. That was placing the independence of the Sultan under the power of Russia, inasmuch as he was to bind himself and his successors to an act which came entirely within his own jurisdiction. The proposal was analogous to a foreign Power insisting upon the Queen of this country securing for ever by an act of treaty those privileges to Her Roman Catholic subjects which were conferred upon them by an act of Her own in 1829. It was a matter of perfect impossibility that such a demand could be complied with. The Turkish Government could not have acceded to it, even if they had not been backed by their old allies, but stood alone in the quarrel. Be that as it may, the proposal was refused. We are not in possession of official papers relating to this affair, as none have been laid upon the table of your Lordships' House; but public are in possession of correspondence on the subject, which there is no reason to believe to be at all incorrect. The Turkish Government replied with much dignity and calmness, that it was impossible to comply with so unreasonable a proposition. The Russian envoy then gave notice that he should quit Constantinople, and retire to Odessa; but before doing so he wrote a note to the Turkish Government—extraordinary, from its unprovoked insolence; and which, if it be au- thentie, is unsurpassed by any letter to any civilise Government in the history of the world. I must beg to read to your Lordships that letter. I take it from one of the daily journals, which states that— Prince Menschikoff, on taking his departure from this place, having failed in intimidating or seducing the Porte into the most dangerous concessions, addressed the following note to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which, has been communicated to the Legations of England, France, Austria, and Prussia:— 'Bujukdere, May 9, (21). 'At the moment of departure from Constantinople the undersigned, Ambassador of Russia, has learnt that the Sublime Porte manifested its intention to proclaim a guarantee for the exercise of the spiritual rights vested in the clergy of the Eastern Church, which in fact renders doubtful the maintenance of the other privileges which that Church enjoys. 'Whatover may be the motive of this determination the underground is under the necessity of informing his Highness the Minister of Foreign Affairs that a declaration or any other act which although it may preserve the integrity of the purely spiritual rights of the orthodox Church, tends to invalidate the other rights, privileges, and immunities accorded to her religion and clergy from the most ancient times, and which they enjoy at the present moment, will be cousidered by the Imperial Cabinet as an act of hostility to Russia and to ber religion 'The undersigned, begs, &c., 'MENSCHIKOFF. 'His Highness Redsehid Pasha, Minister of Foreign Affairs.' You perceive, my Lords, that the Sultan was willing to give further privileges to Christian population in his own dominions; but that because they were not granted exactly in the terms and in the manner required by this haughty Ambassador, he demanded of the Sultan many other privileges and concessions, and called his refusal an act of hostility to the Russian Government, and one which would bring down dangers on his head. I can conceive no proceeding so aptly described by the trite expression "trying to pick a quarrel," as the demand and the subsequent letter of Prince Menschikoff. I can hardly conceive, my Lords, that the Russian Government could be cognisant of such a proceeding, or that they could support it.

After having despatched the note, Prince Menschikoff left Constantinople and retired to Odessa, and shortly afterwards—on the 19th—Count Nesselrode sent a despatch to the Turkish Government, stating, that if the terms demanded by his Sovereign were not acceded to, he should at once cross the Pruth and invade the Principalities. Now, my Lords, I must beg your Lordships' at- tention to another point. It seems, from the documents which have appeared, taking for granted that they were authentic, that Count Nesselrode founded his claim upon the treaty of Kainardji, and said that the Emperor asked for nothing more than the observance of that treaty, which in reality gave all the privileges he required. Now, my Lords, I can conceive no object in asking for a treaty to guarantee rights guaranteed already by a treaty in existence; and if the treaty of Kainardji in 1774 guaranteed the rights and privileges demanded by the Emperor, what was the use of a new treaty in 1853? But does the treaty of Kainardji guarantee the privileges demanded by the Emperor in 1853? The seventh article of that treaty —"promises to protect constantly the Christian religion and its Churches, and also permits to the Ministers of the Imperial Court of Russia to make representations in favour of the new Church at Constantinople, promising to take them in consideration as made by a neighbouring and sincerely friendly Power. To that point only does the treaty of Kainardji go. There is a wide difference, as your Lordships cannot fail to see, between a promise to protect the Christian religion, and giving the Emperor of Russia a treaty by which the Sultan binds himself to give certain unchangeable and positive privileges for ever, not to all Christians, but only to those of his subjects who belong to the Orthodox Greek Church. That is one of the misrepresentations of the Russian Government, and upon that misrepresentation they founded certain demands, at the same time threatening that if those demands were not acceded to they would send an army across the Pruth and occupy the Principalities. My Lords, I must say that I consider sending an army across the Pruth to be nothing more nor less than an invasion. I have heard the occupation of the Principalities defended on the ground that by certain treaties the Emperor of Russia has a right to send his troops into those provinces; but under circumstances totally different from and precisely at variance with the present state of affairs. In the first place, there can be no doubt as to the national boundaries of Turkey. The treaty of Adrianople and the treaty of Akermann, in 1826, declared that the Pruth was the boundary between the territory of Russia and the Ottoman empire. Subsequent treaties also speak of those two provinces as belonging to the Turkish empire, and therefore there cannot be the slightest pos- sible doubt as to which country those two provinces belong to. On the 5th of July the Russians crossed the Pruth and usurped the government of those provinces—the collection of the revenue, the management of the post-office, and in short all those departments which form the civil Government—and it is even said that they went further still, and enlisted some of the natives of those provinces into their own army. I consider, my Lords, that the Russians by thus crossing the Pruth and invading the Principalities, have violated the treaty of Adrianople, for the present occupation is very unlike any former occupation. The former occupations of the Principalities have been either to secure the payment of a debt which the Ottoman empire did not abjure, or to have taken place at the wish of the Turkish Government to put an end to disturbances, as was the case in the year 1848. There is not the slightest analogy between those occupations and the present one. The present one has taken place, not only without the consent but, in spite of the protest of the Sultan, and not to expedite the payment of a debt, but to compel the fulfilment of a demand made to the Turkish Government in the form of an ultimatum, and in direct violation of existing treaties; and I can only look upon it as an act of aggression.

My Lords, I do not know whether the Government will lay upon the table all the correspondence that has passed; but I must say with regard to their conduct, that unless they have had some good reasons unknown to the people of this country, for adopting the course they have adopted, I do not think they have acted wisely. I think that it was a prudent thing at the outset to place the fleet of this country, in conjunction with the French fleet, within the reach of the Ambassadors of either country; but I also think that when the Russian army crossed the Pruth, the moment had arrived to go a step further, and to give instruction to the allied fleets to enter the Dardanelles. In my opinion, their crossing the river was a casus belli, and I consider that Her Majesty's Government did not act wisely in not issuing such instructions, for, my Lords, I firmly believe that had the fleets entered the Dardanelles we should be in a more advantageous position than we are at present. It ought to have been the policy of this country to advance step by step with Russia, and retreat in a similar manner. There is another reason why it was most desirable that the fleets should have entered the Dardanelles. Your Lordships may not be aware that there exists considerable excitement at Constantinople among the Turkish population, and therefore there is a second danger. There is the danger of the Russians proceeding in their career of aggression, and there is the danger of the Turkish population forcing their Government into measures which may expedite or actually bring on war; and the resistance which you will have to meet may be at Constantinople instead of St, Petersburg; and I say, if the two fleets had been in the Dardanelles, that danger would not have been so imminent; and you would have taken away all suspicion from the minds of the Turks that they were deserted by their allies, and that those allies were not willing to assist them in withstanding any acts of violence on the part of Russia. It would have been useful also in case the Sultan should require assistance against the violence and excitement of his subjects. I must, there fore repeat, my Lords, that unless the Government have had hood reason, un known to us, for the policy they have adopted, I cannot but think that they have committed a grave error. Having made these observations, I will say but little more, but I must apologise to your Lordships before I sit down for the time I have taken up, and I must thank your Lordships for the indulgence which you have shown me in listening to the remarks which I have felt it my duty to make. I feel most strongly the importance of the subject; but nothing could have induced me—although there may be a precedent for it—to make any factious Motion against the Government on the question of their foreign policy. The present question is not only a matter of importance as regards the stake at issue, but the honour of England is completely involved in the result; and I do think that it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to furnish the country with some information on the subject, to state what line of policy they have adopted, and with what results, and to declare with what animus they entered into the affair; and I am firmly persuaded that they might safely have done this without in the least degree impeding or embarrassing the negotiations which were going on. They might have answered publicly the manifestoes of Russia, which were no doubt intended to be read by Englishmen as well as any one else; and the effect of not answering those manifestoes has been cer- tainly unfavourable to the Government, as far as the public is concerned. I am well aware that certain despatches are necessarily kept secret; but I think that the Government have rendered themselves liable to injurious suppositions, from their having given the House and the public no information on an affair so closely affecting the honour of the country. The French Government published their manifesto, relative to which there never was any difference between the Governments of France and England. You appear to have thought that France was too bold, and ran too much risk of offending the Emperor of Russia. These suspicions arose from your silence, but there was no reason to justify your concealment. I am certain that the document sent in reply by Her Majesty's Government would have done that Government honour. I do not suspect the Government of not having answered the Russian circular in fitting terms, and I think it was a grievous mistake not to publish that answer. Wherever I go I hear it repeatedly remarked that it is humiliating to England to see her Foreign Minister appear as if he could not answer Count Nessselrode's circular. If you had taken this line, instead of being embarrassed in this House, I think you would have found, what you have always found, and will always find, that Parliament will support you in any difficulty which concerns the interest of our common country; and you will see, what I should like to show to foreign nations and foreign Governments, that in this country, not only have we not degenerated from our predecessors, because we have grown richer in peace, and have advanced in civilisation, but also that even that spirit which is inseparable from free institutions—the spirit of party—would have been sacrificed whenever the common interests of our common country and the honour of the Crown were at stake.


My Lords, I certainly was not prepared, when my noble Friend gave me notice of the question he was going to put, for so long a speech—very interesting certainly, but still so long, and consisting of so many narratives as my noble Friend has given. There are parts of his speech which I hope he will not think me discourteous if I decline to follow. My noble Friend has laid down various propositions which no one, I think, will be inclined to dispute; and he has also made allusions and statements which, in the present state of affairs, I think it my public duty not to notice, from the same motives on which I have hitherto acted. I assure my noble Friend that it is very painful to me to have to give the same answers to questions over and over again, and to decline to lay before your Lordships all the information that your Lordships have a right—and which the country have the right—to expect, to remove the state of anxious suspense that has so long lasted, which interferes with the business transactions of the country, and which has led to feelings of impatience and irritation. And I assure my noble Friend that it is with great reluctance, and from nothing but a sense of public duty, that I still adhere to that principle which has been the principle of all former Governments of this country, and which has always been sanctioned by Parliament—namely, that of not making communications while negotiations are pending, and of not laying before Parliament separate despatches or portions of correspondence. But with respect to the answer to that circular for which my noble Friend has asked, and to which at the end of his speech he referred, I assure him that it is in argument the same, and in tone not less firm or moderate, than the note of the French Government, of which he has expressed his satisfaction. He may therefore readily believe that it is, as I have said, nothing but a sense of duty that prevents me giving myself the satisfaction of laying that answer on your Lordships' table. But Her Majesty's Government are anxious to do and say nothing that can impede the peaceful solution of this embarrassing question; for our object—and it must be that of your Lordships—is the maintenance of peace; but peace, as I have said before, consistent with the national honour and the national faith, and therefore with the national interests. For, my Lords, I am sure Her Majesty's Government would ill represent the feeling of the country, and they could not rely upon any support either from your Lordships or from the public, if peace were purchased on any other terms. My Lords, in one portion of my noble Friend's speech, with reference to the alliance with France, he has reviewed first the circumstances that may have impaired that alliance, and next the reasons that may have induced the Emperor of Russia to take the course he has done. My noble Friend began with a full review of his own policy during the time the was himself in office—against which I am not prepared to say anything. He alluded to the abuse which was directed against himself by the press. I think, my Lords, it is a little out of time and place in him to allude to such matters on this occasion, but I am sure he will acquit me of having had anything to do with these attacks [The Earl of MALMESBURY: Hear, hear!] I can only say I very much regret many of those attacks which were made against my noble Friend. I believed them to be unjust at the time, and I have found them to be unjust since; and I entirely agree in the statements of my noble Friend in the other House, that there was nothing in the relations between my noble Friend and the French Government that was in any way inconsistent with the dignity and honour of this country. But I cannot admit that my noble Friend is entitled to claim the entire credit of having established our friendly relations with the French Government. He has talked as if between this Government and that of France there had always existed a state of semi-hostility, if not more, and that the idea had first struck him that it would be very desirable that the two countries should live together in peace and harmony. Now, in the first place, I would remind my noble Friend—and I am in your Lordships' recollection—what has always been the policy of this country, and I trust always will be towards France, that friendly relations should exist between the two countries. The relations existing between us have indeed been of a nature so friendly and intimate that they formed the subject of congratulation in speeches from the Throne. My noble Friend might have seen, and I am sure when in office he must have seen, ample evidence of the desire of this country to be on the most friendly terms with France, whatever form of government the people of that country might choose—whether it was a limited monarchy, a republic, or the Imperial form under which they now live. There always has been exactly the same feeling, and I do not say it to the credit of any one Government more than another; but it was the duty of every Government, because it was the manifest interest of this country, to maintain the most friendly, cordial, and I intimate relations with France. Though the attacks of certain newspapers—because I do not apprehend they all joined in such attacks—but though the attacks of certain newspapers upon my noble Friend for hav- ing laboured to maintain those relations, were no doubt heavy, yet he did but his duty in maintaining them; but that they should have produced any effect in the manner he supposes on the mind of the Emperor of Russia, is what I really cannot believe, any more than I can believe that his mind has been influenced, or that his policy towards Turkey has been guided by the two speeches to which my noble Friend, I am sorry to say, has again alluded. I think it perfectly unnecessary to answer that part of my noble Friend's speech. I do not think that those speeches have led to any results such as he has attributed to them. It is a bygone story; and I cannot congratulate my noble Friend upon having again brought it forward. Those speeches, my Lords, I am certainly not here to defend, but they were certainly delivered without any such intention as my noble Friend has imputed. One of them, as my noble Friend knows, was delivered at a public meeting, without any reference to France, and as an illustration how universal suffrage might lead to results different from those attributed to it, without any thought of the French Emperor or the French Empire. The other speech was delivered at a mere private meeting, equally without thought or reflection as applying to France. As your Lordships are aware, immediately upon the meeting of Parliament this Session, the matter was brought by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Clanricarde) under the attention of this House. It was then fully explained by the noble Earl at the head of the Government this House, and equally satisfactorily explained, and I may say apologised for, in the other House of Parliament. I believe that my noble Friend (the Marquess of Clanricarde) expressed himself satisfied with the explanation then given, and I know that the same feeling existed in the other House. And I may say, to the credit of the Emperor of the French, that if ever he had any such feeling as the noble Earl imagines, he at once accepted those explanations given by the right hon. Gentlemen of the accidental circumstances, as I may call them, in which they were spoken, and the thing was treated as non-avenu. And I do not think that my noble Friend will find many to share his opinion, expressed in bringing these speeches forward, that they had anything to do with the notion that England and France could not act together, and that it would therefore be safe for the Emperor of Russia to pur- sue his own policy. I have, my Lords, on more than one occasion, stated to your Lordships how intimate and cordial the alliance between France and England has been. I rejoice on this as on every other opportunity to repeat it, and to assure your Lordships that there has been throughout the whole of this Eastern question the most intimate and cordial, and I may almost say daily, communication between the two Governments. On every important proceeding there has never existed any material difference of opinion. They have taken the same view of the policy to be adopted, and there has been complete unity of action between them in the course that has been pursued in carrying that policy out. I think that with those assurances that have been given to the public of both Governments, and with those manifestations which have also been given of this unanimity, and which are now before the world, it would be impossible for the Emperor of Russia, if his policy in the East had any reference to the alliance of France and England—it must have been impossible for him to believe that that alliance did not exist, or that it was not sincere, or that it would not be brought to act in any way in which those Governments might determine.

My Lords, the next point to which my noble Friend alluded as having influenced the Emperor of Russia was, the little care and interest which Her Majesty's Government appeared to show towards Turkey during the mission of Prince Leiningen. This question has also been brought before the House, and I gave explanations at the time, which your Lordships thought satisfactory. We were in communication with the Austrian Government on the subject. We did not fail to ask for full explanations relative to the mission of Prince Leiningen, which explanations, I must say, there was, on the part of Austria, no disinclination to give. The Austrian Government said that the expedition to Montenegro was carried on upon a very large scale, contrary to the advice given by the allied Powers at Constantinople, so as to endanger the security of all the provinces on that part of the Austrian Empire—that she had every reason to apprehend that there would be a son rising of her people, and that her frontier would be in danger. Under these circumstances, Austria sent a mission to the Porte, to request that this expedition of Omar Pasha should be put an end to, and to represent that, although she did not mean to dispute the authority of the Sultan over the Montenegrins, but merely the manner in which his authority was exercised, yet that such a contest going on in the territory of a neighbouring Power was dangerous to herself. With respect to the retreat of the Turkish army, I am not aware that any stipulations were violated. All I found was, that 1,500 or 2,000 men were afterwards captured. Even after the Sultan had given orders for withdrawing his force, Her Majesty's Government were in constant communication with Austria to insure the full completion of the terms of the stipulations that no injury should be done to the Turkish authority. I have reason to believe that those stipulations were carried out, and that the efforts made by the Austrian Government in that direction were quite satisfactory.

The next point to which my noble Friend alluded, as a proof that the French and English Governments were not acting cordially together, and that this again must have influenced the Russian Government, was, that at the time the English fleet was sent for by Colonel Rose, the French fleet sailed from Toulon, while ours did not leave Malta. I have said before that Colonel Rose did write to Admiral Dundas under the first impression and excitement produced by Prince Menschikoff's arrival—attended by certain circumstances to which my noble Friend has alluded, although not correctly. Prince Menschikoff did not ask for the dismissal of the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs. He did nothing more than has been announced by the Russian Government; he sent in a note, saying that that Minister having been the instrument by whose conduct the violation of the promises given by the Sultan to the Emperor had occurred, the Emperor was determined not to intrust any negotiations through that channel, and therefore, when Prince Menschikoff went to the Sultan, he requested that the correspondence should be sent through the Grand Vizier or any other Minister. Prince Menschikoff did not call upon Fund Effendi, and that Minister was dismissed; but his dismissal was not asked by the Russian Government. Still, Prince Menschikoff's arrival under the circumstances did produce a great deal of excitement and alarm in the minds of the Turkish Government, and Colonel Rose did write to Admiral Dundas, not exactly to come to Constantinople, but stating that he understood the fleets were about to take their summer cruise to the East, and that he recommended that his departure from Malta should be hastened by eight or nine days. Admiral Dundas did not comply with that request, and when, a few days after, things became peaceable at Constantinople, Colonel Rose expressed his satisfaction that the fleet had not come, and his belief that bad results to the negotiations then carried on at Constantinople would have followed had it done so, and that those negotiations might have taken a more hostile character. On the news of the English fleet having been sent for by Colonel Rose reaching (Paris by the telegraph, orders were given for the French fleet to go to Salamis. This was done without consultation with our Government. It was done on the spur of the moment, the French Government believing that the danger was imminent. However, the order was given, and when the French Government communicated this order to Her Majesty's Government, we frankly told them that the danger did not appear to us to be so imminent, and that at that moment we did not think it necessary that our fleet should leave Malta. But the French Government said that under the circumstances—and it made no difference in our relations—Toulon being further west than Malta, if danger did occur, and the two fleets should be wanted at Constantinople, they would now be much more in a line together, and more handy for action and better able to arrive at Constantinople at the same time, and to act in combination, if one were at Salamis and the other at Malta. We entirely agreed in this, and the circumstance did not for one moment throw a single shade of difference over our relations. Her Majesty's Governmen were entirely satisfied that the French fleet should be so much ahead of the English fleet, and the result has proved, that when the fleets were wanted to proceed to Besika Bay, the instructions were agreed upon on the same day at Paris and in London, and despatched by the same telegraph; and within a few hours of each other the fleets arrived at Besika Bay, which could not have been the case if one fleet had been at Toulon, and the other at Malta. That circumstance never produced the slightest difference, or shade of difference, between the two Governments.

My Lords, my noble Friend said it was difficult to define or explain the motives which influenced the Emperor of Russia in his policy towards Turkey. I cannot dive into the mind of any man further than my noble Friend, but I will merely say that I the assurances that were given to us were the same as those given to my noble Friend, although they went further—because the Russian Government gave us general assurances, and also more particular assurances, as to the objects sought by Russia in the East. No Sovereign could have given more solemn or more sacred assurances of respect for existing treaties, and for the territorial arrangements of Europe. The Emperor of Russia has never hesitated to say that he considered the maintenance of the Turkish empire as a great principle of European policy, and that for that purpose he would yield to none in his desire to maintain the independence and integrity of Turkey. The Russian Government has, on more than one occasion, agreed with Her Majesty's Government that the dismemberment of the Turkish empire would be a great European calamity, that it would lead unquestionably to war, and that it could be settled without great disturbance to the existing balance of power in Europe. Under these circumstances, the Russian Government sent Prince Menschikoff to Constantinople; not, as my noble Friend says, when the question of the Holy Places was settled, because it was not settled. It may have been settled in the French sense, but that makes all the difference; it was on that account that the Emperor of Russia resisted the settlement. He said that those privileges had been transferred to the Latins which heretofore had been given to the Greeks—that this was a violation of solemn promises made to himself; that it was impairing his moral influence, occupying as he does a high and elevated position in the Greek Church; and that it not only impaired his influence among his Greek co-religionists in the Turkish dominions, but that it reacted prejudicially upon himself over his subjects in his own dominions. He, therefore, considered that it was absolutely necessary that the question should be set right; and—I must any that, from first to last, acting with great respect towards the French Government—he said he would not seek to deprive the Latins of the advantages they thus gained, although at his own expense; but that he would seek from the Turkish Government some equivalent, and he should require that that equivalent should be secured to him, not, as before, under a firman, which experience had shown him could be violated, but by some explanatory act of a more binding character, which should prevent future disturbance. Therefore, my Lords, this mission was undertaken, not, as my noble Friend says, after the question was settled, but it was undertaken for the purpose of settling the question. It was not at first so very easily settled. Various conferences took place. The Russian Ambassador and the French Ambassador had to meet various times upon it, and it was at last mainly adjusted by the friendly intervention of my noble Friend Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, who, this' country being uninterested in the question, was enabled to act as amicus curiœ. By the advice he gave, the question was settled in a manner satisfactory to all parties, and his services were acknowledged by both the French, the Austrian, and the Russian Governments. It was only after this that—as my noble Friend stated—on the 5th of May, certain further propositions were made by the Russian Government—propositions certainly of which we had, until that time, no idea. We certainly, did not know that proposals—which amounted at last to little less than a protectorate—that any such proposals would be made; and we not unnaturally supposed—having officially received the assurance that Prince Menschikoff had a very wide latitude in his instructions to conclude the matter in any way he thought proper—I say, we not unnaturally supposed that this first proposal of his was an attempt to gain as much as he possibly could, with an intention to take less if that was offered. And so it turned out. This convention was objected to, and my noble Friend the British Ambassador at Constantinople pointed out to him what would be its practical operation supposing it to be agreed to. Prince Menschikoff accordingly gave it up. He next proposed another form—a sened, which is equivalent to a protocol. That, also, was objected to, although it was far less objectionable than the first proposal; and then the Prince proposed, lastly, a form of note, which the Sultan objected to also; and which, too, was withdrawn. I must say that throughout the whole of these negotiations it was a matter of satisfaction to Her Majesty's Government that the combined fleets had not passed the Dardanelles, because nobody could say that the Turks had not acted in a perfectly free and independent manner, guided only by what they considered to be their own interest, and because all pretexts were taken from any Power to say that the Turks acted under pressure from other Governments. On the 22nd of May Prince Menschikoff left Constantinople. I have no doubt that the passage read by my noble Friend from his valedictory letter is correct; and I think, if it is correct, my noble Friend designated it rightly, for such language as that is fortunately very rare in diplomatic correspondence, and I hope it will long remain an exception to the general rule. Your Lordships are also aware that after Prince Menschikoff had quitted Constantinople, a note was sent by Count Nesselrode to Redschid Pasha, asking him to accept within eight days the note of Prince Mensehikoff. Redschid Pasha declined, although in the most courteous manner; and then, in pursuance of the threat which that letter contained, the Principalities were occupied. I certainly have not the least hesitation in saying we have looked upon that occupation as a violation of existing treaties. Although, however, my noble Friend blamed the Government for the line of conduct pursued by them upon the occupation of the Principalities, I do not intend now to enter upon a defence of that part of our policy, for a sense of public duty does not permit me to do so. We might certainly, if we had thought fit, have recommended the Sultan to have acted upon that which was unquestionably a casus belli. I have not the least doubt that we might, if we had thought proper, have advised the Sultan to treat the occupation of the Principalities as a casus belli, to suspend existing treaties, and ask for our protection. We did not, however, think it advisable under circumstances to do so—not because we did not consider it to be a casus belli, but because we thought it was incumbent upon us in the first place to do all that in us lay to avoid the chances of war; and we thought that we were bound to consider that event as probable, and that having to appeal to the people of this country, we should not come with a good grace to them unless we could show that we had exercised and exhausted every effort to maintain an honourable peace. It was upon these grounds that, upon the mere occupation of the Principalities, we did not recommend to the Sultan to exercise his undoubted and unquestionable right of treating that act, as it was, as an act of war. And in this I must beg to say that, throughout the whole of the negotiations, although I did not allude to the joint action of the French Government, I must beg your Lordships to understand that in nothing have we taken a step without consulting the French Government. There have been communications almost daily by despatches or by telegraph; questions have been asked, and answers immediately returned, in order that there should not exist any variation of policy; and in nothing was the French Government more united with us than in the propriety of recommending the Sultan not to consider this as a casus belli. Moreover, we found that the instructions we sent to our Ambassador at Constantinople to this effect crossed the despatches which were soon afterwards received from my noble Friend (Lord Stratford) stating that such had been the view of the Porte, and that such had been the advice he had given to the Porte. My Lords, I certainly was not prepared to enter into this question so fully as I have been led to do by the speech of my noble Friend (the Earl of Malmesbury), but still I have been most desirous to put your Lordships, as far as I can, in possession of the information which both your Lordships and the country at large must be anxious to possess. Although negotiations are still pending, I will not hesitate to state to your Lordships by what steps those negotiations have arrived at their present stage and what is their present position;—and I am sure, when I do so, my noble Friend must be at once convinced, looking to the forbearance and moderation which he has hitherto exercised, and bearing in mind that he is aware from late experience of the extent of Ministerial responsibility in these matters—I am sure, I say, he will understand that a more full discussion of such matters will not at present be desirable. It was after the note of Count Nesselrode had been rejected by the Porte, and after the Principalities had been occupied, that the opportunity seemed then to have arisen when mutual friends might treat the matter as having entered into a new phase. It had then certainly, by the occupation of this portion of the Turkish territory, and in contravention of existing treaties, assumed a European character, which imposed upon other Powers the necessity of interfering in some way or other to put an end to such a state of things. The mediation of Austria was offered. Whether it was asked for or not, or offered without being asked for, I don't exactly know; I only know it was acted upon. The Austrian Government made a most fair and reasonable proposition, saying to the Porte, "You have rejected this note; furnish us with such a note as we may send to St. Petersburg—something which shall be safe to you, and not unacceptable to the Emperor of Russia. Furnish us with such a note as that, and we will agree to send it to St. Petersburg, and support it when there." A Ministerial crisis and other causes, which at this moment I am unable to explain, caused delay at Constantinople, and the Austrian Government, foreseeing the very great dangers that would arise from delay, called together the representatives of the other Powers—the Ministers of France, England, and Prussia—and proposed to take as a basis the note which had originated with the French Government, which, with some slight modifications, they proposed should be laid before the Governments of the Emperor and of the Sultan as a means of settling the differences. These modifications were, in the first instance, referred to London and to Paris. They were approved by Her Majesty's Government and by the French Government; and the note was sent to St. Petersburg and to Constantinople on the 2nd of this month. The Russian Minister at Vienna had mean while transmitted the substance of this note to his Court, where it was well received; and on the 3rd of this month a telegraphic message was sent from St. Petersburg to Vienna, announcing that that note met the Emperor's views, and would be accepted by him if it met the views of the Sultan. Since that time, I have heard this morning, Count Nesselrode has made to Sir Hamilton Seymour an official communication that that note would be duly accepted by the Emperor. As this note, slightly modified, no doubt, originating, as it did, with the French Government, contains nothing derogatory to the dignity or to the independence of the Porte, I can see no difficulty in accepting it.

Your Lordships will see, without going into more details upon the subjects which my noble Friend has brought under your notice, I have endeavoured to place your Lordships in possession of the information which is most important in reference to this affair. You will now see that, although these negotiations may be certainly said to be brought to the point of a satisfactory conclusion, they are still pending; and, therefore, my object, and that of Her Majesty's Government, is, while these negotiations are pending—while, therefore, there is a risk of their not coming to the satisfactory conclusion which all hope for—to abstain from a more full discussion of this subject, to abstain from laying before your Lordships any papers—including perhaps the papers moved for by my noble Friend—to abstain, in fact, from doing or saying anything which might endanger the solution which, as I said before, I am sure your Lordships feel the Government desire.


said, that he was sure his noble Friend would do both the House and the country the justice to acknowledge, that neither the one nor the other had attempted to embarrass Government or interrupt negotiations by premature discussions or ill-timed demands for information. He (Lord Beaumont) had systematically abstained from forcing on a debate upon this question, for fear of placing obstacles in the way of a peaceful solution; nor would he now have continued the conversation, if it were not that he found it difficult to reconcile what had now transpired with the former professions of the Government. The facts stated by the noble Earl, and the steps taken by this country, did not appear to be quite in conformity with the avowed principles and declared policy of Her Majesty's Ministers. In order to bring their Lordships' attention to the point on which he thought the Government had failed to carry out the principles they had on more than one occasion avowed, he would briefly refer to the commencement of this most unfortunate affair, and follow the course of events up to the period when he thought the noble Earl's Government had abandoned the policy they had at first announced. He looked upon the ill-judged mission of Monsieur Lavalette to Constantinople, and the demands made by the French Government on behalf of the Latin Church, as the origin and beginning of the whole affair. In this ill-advised step on the part of France, was to be found the only justification, or shadow of a justification, of the subsequent proceedings of Russia. No doubt the Emperor must have felt any concession to the Latin Church which would trench on the privileges of the Greek Church as derogatory to his dignity as a prominent member of the Greek community, and injurious to his reputation as an influential patron of it. Such concession was offensive to him individually, as well as injurious to his Church, for it would have essentially led to a diminution of his influence amongst his coreligionists, and annihilated the prestige of his name throughout the whole East. If, in addition to the offence thus committed against the Church of which he was a member, it was proved that some of the concessions made to France were direct violations of the promises formerly made to the Emperor of Russia himself, he was certainly justified in representing the case to the Sultan, and asking him to rescind or modify the agreement with France, so far as they infringed the rights or privileges previously conceded to Russia. Prince Mennschikoff's mission was at first announced as a special mission on the subject of the Holy Places; and as long as it was confined to that question it was a matter which touched the Latin and Greek Churches alone, and Her Majesty's Government were in consequence perfectly justified in abstaining from all interference whatever. As long, therefore, as Prince Menschikoff went no farther than to demand a firman regarding the Holy Places, to rectify the wrong which he conceived to have been done by the concessions made to France, he (Lord Beaumont) saw nothing to find fault with in the conduct of Russia, and no grounds whatever for our interference. It happened, however, that France, with a liberality and foresight which did her the greatest honour, behaved! on the occasion in a manner so generous towards the Porte, and so creditable to herself, that the whole question of the Holy Places became one of easy arrangement. She freely resigned her disputed claims, and took such steps as would effectually prevent what had previously taken place, from becoming an excuse for further proceedings on the part of any other Power. Her generous conduct reduced the question between Russia and the Porte to this position; namely, the matter relating to the Holy Shrines being once settled, there was no justification for further demands, and no excuse for the prolongation of the mission of Prince Menschikoff. The noble Earl had told them, that at an early period of this transaction, all the questions rising out of the subject of the Holy Places had, by the voluntary and generous concessions of France, been settled to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. From that moment, therefore, the quarrel about the Holy Places ceased to be on the scene, and whatever has since taken place in this eventful drama, must necessarily have been a distinct question, and one of a totally different character. It was then, when every just ground of quarrel or complaint had been removed, it was then, and not till then, that those demands, which were both unjustifiable in their nature, and uncalled for by circumstances, were avowedly put forward by Russia, and it was then that it became the bounden duty of Her Majesty's Government to watch closely the conduct of Russia, and be at hand to advise, if necessary, the Porte. Now, he did not think that either France or this country were called on to interfere, as long as the Porte was merely pressed to grant a favour, and not threatened with consequences in case she refused. He did not think it advisable then, or, in fact, until the matter assumed a decidedly hostile character, that the Western Powers should hastily take any strong measure, or proceed to any violent step on the subject. As long as the question was one of negotiation between the Emperor and the Porte, and no threat to carry his point by force had been made by the former, it was not necessary for England to interfere, further than by giving advice when consulted by the Sultan or his Divan. The noble Earl had stated, that during the whole of this negotiation, and up to the final rupture, the Porte acted singly and on its own opinion, as any great and independent Power would have done. There was no interference, therefore, nor was there any necessity for any. But the moment the refusal of Turkey to comply with the unjust demands of Russia, produced that note of Prince Menschikoff's, which had been read by the noble Earl opposite—the moment the Emperor no longer asked a favour, but insisted on a right—the moment he declared that ulterior measures would be adopted if the Porte persisted in refusing his demands, the active interference of England became not only justifiable but absolutely necessary. From that moment the whole features of the case were changed. The question ceased to be one of negotiation between Russia and Turkey; it became an attempt to obtain by threats that which could be lawfully and legitimately withheld. The law of nations was then broken, and all the subsequent proceedings of Russia were unjustifiable acts of violence. The Russian Embassy was withdrawn—all negotiation was at an end. The last note of Prince Menschikoff allowed no misinterpretation; it demanded a surrender, or declared war as the alternative. Turkey preferred to run the risk of the latter, rather than to submit to the imposition of the terms dictated by Russia. Europe generally, and England in particular, were interested in the resistance of Turkey to a measure which might have eventually involved every maritime Power in difficulties, and endangered the basis on which the balance of power is founded. Both France and England were satisfied with the view the Porte had taken of the demands of Russia, and declared that she was justified in refusing to comply with them. Each of the three Powers were from that time equally engaged to resist the attempts on the part of Russia to obtain by force that which they had considered it right to refuse to her demands. To the strong measures taken by the Emperor, should have been opposed equally strong measures on the part of the Allies. France and England should then have directed their efforts towards arresting the progress of Russia in the unjust course she had adopted, and endeavouring to induce her to respect the law of nations. We should have insisted on the rights of Turkey being acknowledged, instead of suggesting modifications in the concessions which she was unjustly called upon to make. While our Ambassador was advising the Divan to be moderate, while we were bidding the Sultan to hold his hand, Russia was permitted to execute her threats, and met with neither resistance nor rebuke. The frontiers of Turkey were invaded, the Principalities occupied, the local government superseded, and a hostile force advanced to the Danube, and yet, while all this was taking place, while war was actually being carried on, the Powers who professed to be friendly to the Porte, who had justified her in the course she had taken, and were bound alike by interest and honour to repel the invasion and punish the infraction of the peace, remained inactive, and took no single step to arrest Russia, or assist Turkey in her defence. The fault he therefore found with the Government of this country, and by implication with that of France, was their acting simply as mediators, instead of conducting themselves as the parties against whom the acts of aggression had been directed. Treaties were broken, the law of nations violated, the policy of Europe opposed, and other acts committed which affected the interest and touched the honour of every the State of Europe; and yet, if he understood his noble Friend rightly, we had allowed all this to take place without even a remonstrance, much less an attempt to check the unprovoked and unjustifiable progress of the peace-breakers. In fact, after all the delay which had taken place—all the valuable time which had been lost—all the supposed negotiations we had been led to believe in—we were now told that the Government had been employed, not in negotiating with Russia, not in inducing Russia to desist, not in bidding Russia retrace her steps, but in trying to prevail on the Sultan to yield to his opponent, and surrender that which we had told him he was right to withhold. We now learned that there had been no negotiation at all on the subject with St. Petersburg, but a negotiation with Constantinople, and instead of resisting the wrong-doer, we had been coercing the party wronged. We had not addressed ourselves to the offender, and declared to him that unless he retreated from the countries he had invaded, and unless he made reparation for the injury he had inflicted, we should take effectual measures to make him do so; but we had been acting as advisers to the Sultan, and counselling him to make no resistance. We had been abetting Russia, not opposing her; helping the Emperor to make good his position, not exposing him to the punishment he deserved. The Governments of England and France had not only not acted up to their declared principles and professions, but diametrically opposite to them. They had professed to see right maintained and justice done; they had professed to support the law of nations and punish its infraction; they had professed to throw the weight of their influence into the balance on the side of the oppressed, and to repel the wrong-doer when his attack was on a party not quite able to right itself. But what had been the result of our actions, and the effect of our conduct? Why, that the party who had been wronged was the party who was advised to make concessions, and the party who had done the wrong was the party to be rewarded. We were about to punish Turkey for being in the right, and to heap favours on Russia for being in the wrong. Was not that the real result of our intervention? Would Russia have obtained any concession whatsoever from Turkey and her allies if she had not proceeded to violent measures? As long as Prince Menschikoff merely negotiated, France and England encouraged Turkey to refuse the demands of Russia, and loudly approved of the conduct of the Divan in not consenting to the proposition of the Emperor; and if the allies were now themselves actually proposing concessions, was not this change their counsels attributable alone to the strong measures and offensive position which the Emperor had taken? It was laid down as a rule by all text writers on the law of nations, that when a demand, which was not legally founded on a right, and could only be granted as a favour, was made by one nation on another, and refused by that other nation, was attempted to be obtained by threats or violence, such attempt was a violation of the law of nations, and constituted an unjustifiable interference with the independence and rights of nations. This was exactly the position in which Russia stood; she was attempting to obtain by violence and threats of violence what she had no right to demand, and which she had already been refused. Any advantage, therefore, which Russia gained in consequence of her hostile position would be a direct reward and encouragement to breaking the law. We placed ourselves on the side of Russia the moment we consulted her as to the concessions she would be satisfied with, and took up the cause of the lawbreaker when we endeavoured to obtain those concessions for him. It appeared that we were now actually engaged in urging the Turks to yield, and inducing them to propose terms St. Petersburg—in other words, to throw themselves at the feet of the Emperor and ask him to accept as a favour to them what he had taken up arms to obtain by violence. We were acting as mediators in the interest of Russia, instead of standing forth as, the defenders of the law of nations. Instead of maintaining the peace, we were rewarding a breach of it. It might be that the concession made at our request was no sacrifice of the honour or dignity of Turkey—it might be that neither the interest nor the position of the Sultan was affected by it; but be it what it might—be it even a profit and a gain to Turkey, it was still a concession, and a concession which established a principle dangerous if not fatal to the best interests of society, and totally destructive of the adopted policy of Europe. It established the principle that by using violence and breaking treaties—by breaking through all rules and trampling on all rights—by acting singly and setting at defiance the united voice of Europe, a Power may obtain some advantage, and secure a benefit she is not entitled to. If the proper course were taken, and true justice done, Russia would be obliged not only to retreat, but to pay a penalty for the wrong she has done; she would not only be obliged to forego her demands on the Sultan, but make reparation for the offence committed against his sovereignty; to pay the whole expenses of the preparations for war she has caused, and repair the injuries she has inflicted. But, instead of placing the real merits and justice of the case before her, we, it appears, were employed in bestowing some recompense on her for her illegal proceedings, and giving her a reward for her show of violence. If such were to be the result of our interference, glad as he might be that a war had been averted, he could not felicitate Her Majesty's Ministers on the issue of their negotiations. He must, however, say that he never believed in the probability of a war; he always felt that Russia would see it was her interest to avoid a war if possible. He knew that Russia was not prepared then, nor was she now, for a war on such a scale as that which she must have undertaken to attain her object. Her experience obtained in former wars made her aware of the difficulties which would attend a campaign in Turkey; and she knew, though many here did not, that the defensive power of the Sultan had considerably increased since the period of her last war. There was here an exaggerated idea of the military force of Russia; but on the frontiers of the empire a more correct knowledge of her weakness existed, and there it was well understood that if Russia were rash enough to rush into a war on a large scale, the dogged obstinacy and persevering firmness of the Turks, which had been so often displayed in the last war, would again lead to long protracted and probably a successful resistance. The Court of St. Petersburg knew well enough that strong as Russia was, she was not strong enough for a tussle of that sort—a tussle in which she would have to waste both treasure and lives, and in which she would have the opposition instead of the sympathy of Europe. Knowing that the Porte is far better prepared for war than is supposed here, and Russia less capable of great exertions far from her frontier than most military Powers, he never believed that the Court of St. Petersburg was anxious for or ever intended war. It hoped to obtain its object by a show of violence and making a demonstration, with out ever pushing things so far as to involve it in a serious war with the Porte. Its policy had been successful, for while it had avoided the inconvenience and serious losses which would have attended a struggle with Turkey, it had gained more than even a complete concession of its demands would have given it: it had placed France and England in a humiliating position: it had actually forced then to employ their time and use their efforts in making the Sultan yield something, no matter how little or how great that something night be, still something to Russia, and it had shown to the world that the Western Powers had not ventured to act boldly and vigorously at St. Petersburg, where the real matter of complaint ought to have been redressed. The explanations of that day had, therefore, caused him much regret. He had heard his noble Friend with pain, and he must again repeat that he could not felicitate the Government on the result or conclusion of their labours and negotiations.


did not think the debate had given their Lordships much insight into the circumstances of the case, nor was it likely that any results would follow from it. The difference which existed between himself and the noble Earl opposite as to the course which had been pursued by Her Majesty's Government was this—that whereas the policy which the noble Earl had pursued had been of a more tender, slow, and pacific character, so his (the Earl of Hardwicke's) should have been quicker, more determined, but, he believed, of a not less pacific character. His impression was, that the pacific character of the communications which had taken place between this country and Russia, and between this country and Turkey, would ultimately tend to produce more difficulty than if they had been of a more serious and determined character. His conviction was, that where there was any breach of the law of nations, and of great principles which had been laid down by treaties, the surest way of supporting the peace of Europe was to act with those treaties in hand, to take them as the public law of Europe, and to deal with them as with any other legal documents. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Clarendon), in his usual kind and gentlemanly tone, had addressed the house, and had gone at some length into the subject; but he had not given their Lordships one iota of information of which they were not in possession before. Of the nature of the concession to be made, they knew nothing as yet, and were therefore unable to deal with it in any way that should give satisfaction to the public, or information to the world. He hoped and trusted that his noble Friend and Her Majesty's Government would succeed in its endeavours to preserve the peace of the world; but they certainly had placed themselves in a position of the deepest responsibility and anx- iety by the manner in which these negotiations had been conducted. Certainly, from the position in which the Emperor of Russia and the Sultan had been placed, a very strong argument could be used against the Government of this country by both those Sovereigns, if these negotiations should fail. The Emperor of Russia might fairly say, " When you, England, saw the position I had taken up, the serious tone that I used at Constantinople, when you were thoroughly informed of the motions of my armies and fleets, that was the time to warn me that I was about to break the law of nations, and to declare that I should not perpetrate the act I meditated before war should be declared." On the other hand, the Sultan might well say that we had persuaded him not to take alarm at the invasion of his empire, and had told him that we would not allow his privileges and rights to be infringed. He (the Earl of Hardwicke) was convinced that if a firmer course had been taken from the first, none of these events would have taken place. To use a homely simile, if any one of their Lordships allowed a man for an illegal purpose to walk into his house and take up a position in his entrance hall—and then, without his having moved a step further, were to proceed to throw him out of the window, would not the man have a fair ground of complaint of such an aggression being committed on him, after he had been admitted into the house in violation of the known law of the country? Those who had persuaded the Sultan not to take up arms on the invasion of his empire, had drawn upon themselves the responsibility of all the consequences which might ensue. If it should be the feeling of the Emperor of Russia that these provinces were necessary for the interest and security of his dominions, and if, when called upon to quit them, he should refuse, the Government of this country would find that it had drawn upon itself a responsibility which might well alarm any one. That, however, was not the whole question. The manner in which the present state of things had been protracted, aggravated by the mode in which the public law of Europe had been tampered with, had led nearly to the ruin of the Turkish empire. While we had been negotiating, the Emperor of Russia had carried on a campaign, and the expenses of the war had led almost to the ruin of the Turkish empire in a financial point of view. While the Powers had been treating, the finances of Turkey had been brought to the verge of ruin, and that was another reason why he regretted that the affair had not been stopped at the beginning; and it was on that ground alone that the slightest difference existed between him and his noble Friend opposite.


said, he was satisfied with the explanation of the noble Earl, in so far as they now knew positively that negotiations for peace were in a favourable position; so far, therefore, as the prospect of peace went, the noble Earl's assurances had given him great satisfaction. An important question, however, still remained, which he could not expect, and which indeed he did not wish, that the noble Earl would attempt to answer—what did the note which had been accepted contain? He must state that in his opinion how the matter was proposed to be settled would depend upon that. His noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon) said the other evening that the evacuation of the Principalities must be a sine quâ non before the question was settled; and in his (the Marquess of Clanricarde's) opinion, that evacuation ought to be immediate. In saying that, he was not throwing out any suspicions that were not legitimate, because his noble Friend told them that he had in the course of these proceedings been already deceived, and they knew that what had taken place in the Principalities was distinctly at variance with what was contained in the document that had been published by Count Nesselrode. He should, therefore, not be satisfied until the authority of the Sultan had been established in those provinces. He should want, too, to know what satisfaction was to be afforded to the Turkish Government and to individuals who were Turkish subjects for the violence done to them by being forced to enlist in the Russian army? If the newspaper accounts were true, nothing could be more illegal or insulting than the proceedings of Russia, and full reparation should be made for the indignity which the Turkish empire had received. That, however, was not the only question now to be settled. He should hope to know when Parliament next met what had been done to prevent a recurrence of such proceedings. The course taken by the Russian Government had opened the entire question of Eastern Europe, and there had been an opportunity, such as had not occurred in his memory, and, very likely, would never occur again, for entirely settling this question. That should be done, he thought, not by propping it up just for the pre- sent, at all hazards and at all risks, whatever might be the course of the Government of the Sultan, but by taking good care that, for the future, no one great Power should be able to gain, by any event which might take place in Turkey, such an accession of strength as might endanger the balance of power in Europe, or such an influence as might be fatal to the spread of our commerce and the advancement, he might say, of the true religion of Christ. The Government of the Sultan was one of the most tolerant in matters of religion in Europe; while, on the other hand, it was well known that the Government of Russia was most intolerant. There was, therefore, a great religious as well as a great commercial question involved in the whole of this matter. It was perfectly well known that the Reformed as well as the Latin religion had made great progress throughout the Turkish dominions. The great aim of Russia had been, not so much to get liberty of worship for the old Greek Church—the Oriental Church, as he might call it—as to enforce the concession of privileges to the Greek-Russian population, which the Emperor of Russia might interfere to enforce; thus importing a foreign temporal, not a spiritual, power into the heart of the Turkish dominions. But it was also well known that, in order to establish that feeling, the Russian Government had assisted that part of the Greek clergy who were most anxious to prevent American and other missionaries from pursuing their missions in Turkey, notwithstanding all the Sultan could do to maintain toleration and freedom to all sects. That was a point to be well taken care of and considered. He had been sorry to hear the noble Lord speak of the "mere" occupation of the Principalities. The fact was that the Russian troops had entirely over-run those provinces. They had traversed the banks of the Danube, and although they had not yet landed on the opposite side, they had taken possession of an island in the middle of the river, and had advanced to the very shore of the other bank. Care must be taken that no traces were left of this occupation which could give Russia any further power or any influence beyond that which she now possessed. With regard to our commercial interests in connexion with the question, it was notorious that the Turkish tariff and customs regulations were extremely liberal, while those of Russia were most prohibitory and vexatious. The people of this country hardly knew how important to their commercial interests it was that the Turkish rule should be maintained, or, if anything happened to it, that nothing like Russian rule should be established in that country. He would not quote statistics to prove facts which were very well known to their Lordships; but as the opportunity had occurred, we ought to take care of these interests for the future, and these points, he trusted, would not be neglected by Her Majesty's Government. It was very well to say that they had made this a European question; but was it made a European question by their forbearance? No! There was no European question in the case, until the fleets entered Besika Bay, and the world became aware that France and England were acting vigorously together; for then Austria and Prussia were forced to take part in the affair. If, at a former period, when the French fleet was ready to sail for the Turkish waters, and when, unless all the accounts in the newspapers were wrong, the French authorities most urgently pressed the English fleet to sail also—if, he said, at that time the fleets had proceeded to Constantinople, it was difficult for a person unacquainted with the parties concerned not to believe that not a man would then have passed the Pruth. In one of the circulars of Count Nesselrode there was something said, in reference to the advance of the Russian forces, of an analogous movement in the occupation by the combined fleets of Besika Bay; but Besika Bay was a mare liberum, not a mare clausum, and there the fleets ought to have been in the month of March, It was very remarkable that Prince Menschikoff, as it appeared from the newspapers, put forth pretensions something like those of the note of the 5th of May very early in March; but then Colonel Rose sent for the fleet, and no more was heard of these pretensions from Prince Menschikoff until the fleet refused to come even to Besika Bay. Then they were renewed by Prince Menschikoff on the 5th of May. He said, then, that by being a little more vigorous at an earlier period, they might have arrived at a settlement of the question sooner. He rejoieed to hear now that it was in a fair train for settlement; but until he heard what the nature of that settlement might be, his satisfaction could not be complete.


said, he had always thought that the less said on this very important subject the better, and therefore he should detain their Lordships by very few observations. He was desi- rous of expressing his entire concurrence in what had fallen both from his noble Friend (the Earl of Malmesbury), and from the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs with respect to the policy which ought to be pursued by this country in reference to France. He held his opinion upon that policy traditionary from the Duke of Wellington, in whose Government he had the honour of acting. He recollected well what the Duke of Wellington always said—namely, that a war between England and France would be a war throughout the world; but that so long as there was a good understanding between England and France, then, if a war took place, it would not be—at least to this country—serious, and, probably, not long. He therefore, adhering to that principle, entirely concurred with both the noble Earls in what they had said upon that point; but he could not agree with his noble Friend in thinking that, after the Russians had taken military possession of Moldavia and Wallachia, their taking civil possession of those countries was adding anything to the original offence. The first duty of a general in such a case was to disarm the population; and the first duty of a sovereign was to protect his army in any operations he might direct it to perform. Taking possession of the civil administration was the necessary consequence of the military occupation of a country. Without that the army was not secure; and it was absolutely essential that the army should be made secure by the sovereign who directed and the general who commanded it. He saw no increase, therefore, of offence in taking civil possession, in addition to military possession, of the Principalities. He confessed he had always taken a very serious view of the probable consequences of Prince Menschikoff's proceedings. Looking to the character of the Emperor of Russia, the force of which he disposed, the moderation he had hitherto manifested since 1842—looking also to the whole character of the Russian nation, he confessed he had never been without serious apprehensions as to the ultimate consequences of this affair. He never could believe that the Emperor of Russia would have taken such a great step without making up his mind to all the consequences which must result from it, and without being determined to meet all those consequences. That had been from the first his impression. Noble Lords talked somewhat too lightly of a war with Russia. Undoubtedly, he thought it would be better to make war for the preservation of the integrity of the Turkish empire, than, after that integrity was gone, to make war, which would ultimately be forced on this country by disputes with other Powers with reference to the different portions of the dismembered Turkish empire. In the first case this country would fight with allies, and especially with France by its side. In the latter case, he was unwilling to state under what circumstances he thought the country would be compelled to carry on war. He did not say that in a war for the integrity of Turkey this country might not succeed. It might be forced on the country by considerations of honour as well as of national interests; but he entreated the Government and noble Lords in that House, before they urged the country to such a war, to calculate well its extent, and to consider all the sacrifices it would entail, and the great effects it would produce throughout the whole world. That war must be an offensive and not a defensive war, if intended to be successful. It must be a war in Circassia—it must be a war in Poland—and that was a point which should be considered above all by Russia as well as by this country, when taking into view its probable consequences of what was now going forward at Constantinople. He earnestly trusted that, as expected by others, this state of things might be determined by diplomacy; but if it were so determined, he should think much better of diplomacy and its influence than he had hitherto had reason to do. He confessed that he still entertained very great apprehensions; but he certainly did not think that any earlier hostile demonstration on the part of England and France would have placed the affair in a better position.


My Lords, I will not say that in the present state of affairs it is at all unnatural that noble Lords should be desirous of having the most accurate information on this subject; and my noble Friend has, I think, fully satisfied, or ought to have fully satisfied, the expectations of noble Lords. My noble Friend has given in substance the fullest statement of the actual condition of affairs, and in such a manner as must have given sincere satisfaction to your Lordships. My noble Friend who just sat down, has given some very good advice on this subject, and has expressed opinions, in some of which I agree. My noble Friend has referred to the opinion of the Duke of Wellington, of whom, when at the head of the Govern- ment, I was, as well as the noble Earl, the colleague, having had the special direction of Foreign Affairs. I agreed with the noble Duke in opinion at that time, and ever since I have felt the same conviction, that a close intimacy with France was the real policy of this country. I felt that conviction in the time of King Charles X.; I felt that conviction under King Louis Philippe; and I feel it now; and I have no doubt that while there is any Government of France with whom we can enter into engagements, and which is so solid and established as to be capable of maintaining its enagagements, that Government—be it republican, be it imperial, be it royal—is a Government with which we ought closely to connect ourselves. That is the course we have pursued throughout the whole of these transactions. It is true the noble Lord behind me, and others, have expressed their firm conviction that if we had at an earlier time taken vigorous and decisive measures, we should have put a stop to all those difficulties. My Lords, it is easy to prognosticate what would be the case after an event has occurred; but I find it is impossible for me to say what might have been the case if we had followed a different course; I can only say that we shall be perfectly satisfied, if the course we have followed should lead to a happy conclusion. I do not doubt when the great Powers of England and France are united in any course they may please to take, that they will be successful; but, at the same time, it is of no small importance to have the other great Powers of Europe united with England and France; and that is the state in which we stand at the present moment. The four great Powers of Europe are now acting in concert: they speak the same language, they make the same conditions which, as my noble Friend says, have already been accepted by one of the Powers with whom we are mediating. I shall certainly not enter into the particulars of these terms; but this at least is quite clear, that this country, that France, that Austria, all of them, are equally concerned in preserving substantially the integrity of Turkey—Prussia indeed may not feel herself equally interested—and it is not likely that we would consent to propose any sacrifice on the part of the Sultan which he could have any reason to object to, or to hesitate in accepting. Your Lordships are aware that those are our motives. We are not bound by any treaty—for I deny that this coun- try is bound by the stipulations of any treaty to take a part in hostilities for the support of the Turkish empire—it is from a sense of our national interests, and from a sense of what is due to the general interests of Europe, and of our own honour, that we take the part we have done; for though we have no treaty engagements, undoubtedly there are honourable engagements that must more or less weigh with every country on this question. But your Lordships may be satisfied that, interested as the Great Powers of Europe are in preserving the independence of the Turkish empire, as long as it can be upheld by foreign countenance and support, nothing will be proposed that can militate against the honour and the essential interests of the country.


said, that there had been an expression of regret upon the part of noble Lords opposite that the discussion in which they were engaged had taken place. Now, in his opinion, it would have been far better if Her Majesty's Government had at an earlier period of the Session consented to satisfy the public mind with reference to the important question before them, so far as was consistent with the due discharge of the public service. He believed that the documents to which his Motion related could not be classed in the category either of correspondence or despatches, and he was of opinion that, as the answer of the Government of France to the circular of Count Nesselrode had been published, there could be no reasonable excuse alleged why Her Majesty's Ministers should not produce the reply which had been made upon the part of this country to the same document. Its production would have served to show to the public the animus by which the Government were actuated. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Aberdeen) was perfectly correct in stating that there was in existence no treaty or guarantee by which England was pledged to defend the Porte against Russia. He believed, however, that the noble Earl would agree with him in thinking that this country was unquestionably bound in honour by the preamble of the Treaty of 1841, to maintain the independence and sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire. In conclusion he should observe that in accordance with the course he had hitherto adopted, he did not wish to press the Government to lay upon the table of that House any papers which they might have declared it to be contrary to the public interest that they should produce. He should, therefore, withdraw his Motion, and he believed he consulted the feelings of their Lordships in so doing.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

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