§ LORD BEAUMONT
rose to move the Resolutions of which he had given notice:—That it appears from the Documents which Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to communicate to this House that the Efforts of Her Majesty and of Her Majesty's Allies to establish, without Recourse to Arms, amicable Relations between the Sublime Porte and His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia have been unremitting.That it appears also that those Efforts have failed to produce the desired Effect, and that The Emperor of Russia continues to hold by three of Arms Two important Provinces of the Ottoman Empire.That it is, therefore, the Opinion of this House that the Honour and best Interests of this Country require that immediate and effectual Means be taken to repel the unjustifiable Aggression of Russia on the Territory of the Sultan; and that the Power and Influence of this Country should be exerted to place the Relations of the Sublime Porte with the rest of Europe on such Foundations as shall appear best calculated to secure a durable Peace, and afford the Ottoman Empire a fair Opportunity for developing its natural Resources, and of proceeding with its administrative Reforms.1202 The noble Lord proceeded to say, that it was not his intention on the present occasion to resume the thread of the discussion that took place in their Lordship's House a short time since on the Motion of his noble Friend (the Marquess of Clanricarde); for, however anxious he might have been on that occasion to go into a minute analysis of the papers that had been laid upon the table, and to point out those passages which he thought reflected on the conduct of the Government, as well as those which he thought a justification of a portion of their conduct, still he believed that to pursue such a course at the present moment would neither tend to promote the object he had then in view, nor to explain the grounds upon which he made the present Motion. There could be no doubt that the analysis which his noble Friend on that occasion made of the papers was most ably executed; and although he must allow that much had been afterwards said to explain away many of the charges brought against the Government, and although he thought that on many points a better defence might be offered for the Government than they had yet made for themselves, vet he must still maintain that one or two charges with respect to the past conduct of the Government still remained unanswered. He would not then enter into any details with regard to those papers, and would only refer to them in such a general manner as was absolutely necessary by way of explanation and to carry the history of events up to the present period. As to the charges that in his opinion remained unanswered, he must say, with all due submission to his noble Friends on the Treasury bench, that the charge of credulity being carried to the point of weakness remained wholly uncontradicted. It appeared to him that it was utterly impossible to justify the conduct of the Government in placing confidence in the professed intentions of the Emperor of Russia when they had such positive evidence in contradiction, as appeared, not only in the papers laid before the House, but in the past conduct of the Emperor in regard to this subject. He admitted that the difficulties that surrounded the Government were extreme; he admitted that the most distinct professions were made by the Emperor; and he believed that, in addition to what appeared in the papers, much stronger verbal declarations had been made, and which, being delivered by the Russian Ambassador here, must have been supposed to be the echo of the Emperor's 1203 instructions: no doubt, therefore, the Government were in this difficult position—that they must either at once have positively charged the Emperor of Russia with direct falsehood, or must have given some weight to the positive assurances that were made on his behalf. This certainly was an excuse. But still when, time after time, information of an opposite character reached them from every quarter of Europe; when everybody, not only in Turkey, but in Russia, understood the designs of the Emperor, when facts came positively contradicting the assurances given, why, then, even that respect which should always be shown to the word of a crowned head should have had its limits. It must have been known to the Government that the demands of Russia with respect to European Turkey were of a systematic character, and formed part of an enormous plan long since framed, which had never been departed from, which from its commencement had been pursued with unflinching perseverance, and with great ability. There were documents to which not only noble Lords on the Treasury bench, but all their Lordships, might have access, and in these documents were distinctly stated the intentions and policy of the Russian Government on the highest authority; and although their date was no doubt rather distant, they distinctly anticipated as a portion of their policy the manner in which it was intended to meet such events as had since taken place. These papers showed with what skill they had laid their net to entrap the greater part of Europe. It was remarkable how, throughout all their proceedings for the last twenty years, they had carefully connected that which belonged to the religious with that which belonged to the political part of the question; and, in fact, they had done so so systematically that at last, when they talked about the religious question, they implied a claim to a control over all the inhabitants of Turkey who professed the Greek faith. One of the documents to which he referred, though written a long time ago, had only been given to the public some short time since; and their Lordships were aware that certain State papers belonging to Russia had, at various times, been betrayed by the officials employed in their public offices, or copies of them had, as in the present case, been discovered and given to the world in the course of some revolution. Now, in one of the papers, which he held in his hand, he found a scheme drawn out at the suggestion of the 1204 Emperor of Russia with regard to the very state of circumstances now occurring. No doubt some of those papers combined with that a reference to the existing state of things at the time they were drawn up—to the treaty of July, and to the position of France, England, and Austria, at that particular moment: but the general broad scheme of the perpetual and standing policy of Russia was nevertheless there given; and the same scheme was repeated at a later period, the papers containing it being on both occasions drawn up at the request of the Emperor. The Emperor, desiring to have the opinions of the leading men of his country on this subject, asked the views of Pozzo di Borgo, Prince Lieven, and Count Nesselrode, and of many other persons whose abilities rendered them capable of drawing up a plan for the aggrandisement of the position of Russia in the East, and by which he might eventually be able to obtain a control over the Ottoman empire. One of these was so strong that he could not help quoting two or three passages as to the scheme it was thought ought to be pursued. Pozzo di Borgo, in the paper which he submitted to the Emperor, said:—On the side of Turkey it is necessary to have everything ready to penetrate to the capital of that country. It is also necessary to turn the Servians to our advantage, and also all other Christians who are willing to join us. As soon as the Principalities are occupied by us, there is no reason why we should not establish relations with the Greeks in the Turkish empire. In stating this, I do not intend to suggest any step which would imply recognition of that people. It would be sufficient to make them feel by means of agents, whom we need not avow, that their safety depended on the resolutions taken by his Imperial Majesty, and that they should always be ready to follow his direction. It would also be useful to associate Persia with us in our designs, and to try what could be done in that quarter in case of a war with Turkey.Then he went on to show the great change which he believed to have taken place in the policy of England from the accession of Mr. Canning to power; to state how hostile he felt that Minister to be to the Russian plan of aggrandisement, and how much was to be feared from the principles he had introduced. He next calculates carefully the power and the position of England, and considers how she would be circumstanced were she to declare war against Russia on the Turkish question. He says no doubt she might have successes by sea, and might blockade the ports of Russia, and it would be prudent to prepare for these events; but hostili- 1205 ties with England would not impede the progress of the Russian arms, and would cause her no serious evil, especially if not supported by continental co-operation. "Besides," he says, "she will always be desirous to arrange matters, even if a rupture with us were to take place." He next goes on to suppose that Austria co-operated with England, and says, "Great Britain is not formidable without allies;" and then adds:—She will, however, be weaker still when she has compromised Austria, for then she will have exposed part of her system to destruction. Our policy, therefore, requires us to present ourselves under an aspect terrible to Austria, so as to persuade her that if she moves or takes a step against us, she will encounter one of the most terrible storms she has ever witnessed.… In consequence of that, she will either tell the Turks to listen to our proposals, or she will herself fall on the provinces of the Turkish empire. In the first case, we shall perfectly agree with her; in the second, we shall come to an agreement.Now, these were only specimens of the schemes and plans of the Russian statesmen; and knowing these, he certainly was surprised at the confidence which the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) and some other Members of the Government seemed to have reposed in the assurances which they received from the Emperor. It was the more surprising, when they recollected the conduct of Russia in the Greek war, in the war with Turkey in 1828 and 1829, and in the treaty forced upon the Porte at the peace of Adrianople, which was a complete violation of all her previous engagements and agreements, that the Government should not have been more upon their guard against the professions of that country. After this very treaty of Adrianople, Count Nesselrode, by command of his master, wrote a State paper containing an account of the position of Turkey and Russia, and drew up a plan of the course of policy which the latter should adopt with respect to her neighbour. He there says:—In the opinion of the Emperor the continuance of the Ottoman empire, if reduced to exist only under the protection of Russia, and obliged to listen in future to all the wishes of Russia, would suit our political and commercial interests better than any new combinations which would necessitate the extension of our dominions by conquest or by the substitution of other States in the place of the Ottoman empire, which might become our rivals. It is on this principle we should deal with the Divan. We do not wish the ruin of the Turkish empire; we seek to sustain it in the state it now is, as this Government can only he faithful to us by its deference towards us.With all these, and a hundred other in- 1206 stances before us, though the Russian assurances were very strong, and although no doubt Baron Brunnow and Count Nesselrode, and the Emperor himself, were all "honourable men," yet still he thought that, with all this before them, the Government might well have felt and expressed some doubt as to the bonâ fide intentions of the Emperor, or as to the positive true and literal meaning of the assurances which he gave as to his intentions. On that point, therefore, he could not think that the Government were entirely blameless. He thought they had carried credulity to weakness; but still he perceived the enormous difficulties which surrounded them, and was willing to admit that the results of their policy had not turned out to be very disastrous. It had its good as well as its bad side. The delay which had taken place had no doubt been of great use to Turkey, the party most interested; and it was now, no doubt, of great use to the Government, albeit through circumstances over which they had no control, by enabling them to lay before the public, a better case, by allowing the people to become acquainted with the subject, by giving time for public feeling to rise into enthusiasm, and by placing it in the power of Government to say, "We are rather urged on by the voice of the people than conducting the people towards war."
He must own, too, that there appeared to him another defect in the past conduct of the Government that he could not pass over. He thought they had not sufficiently availed themselves of the many opportunities they had had to inform themselves thoroughly of the position of the Turkish empire. They were not well aware of the character of the Ottoman empire and its resources, or of the nature and conduct of its Government, or they would not have spoken of that empire or acted towards it in the manner they had. Had they been aware, as they must now be, that that country was still great, powerful, and independent—that its councils were directed with extreme wisdom—that its troops were prepared to fight with courage—that the people were ready to show their patriotism and to respond to the call of their sovereign, they would have, no doubt, taken a different tone both towards Russia and Turkey—they would have been less humble and subservient in their addresses to Russia, and more firm in their appeals to the Emperor, and they would never have ventured, without calling for the advice of 1207 the Turkish Minister, to have drawn up a note which was to arrange and settle definitively the relations between the Ottoman empire and Russia. He believed that had they regarded this question as one relating to two great and powerful countries—though, no doubt, one was more powerful than the other—they would have acted in such a manner that the proceedings at Vienna might have had a successful and honourable result. Unfortunately, however, instead of taking that view, some portion of the Cabinet, and particularly that section of it which was more directly represented in that House in consequence of the head of the Government having a seat there, had used language towards Turkey at the commencement of these proceedings, which was calculated to run down and depreciate that country. And though he would never charge Ministers with any direct communication with the public press, he must say that one at least of the journals which was supposed to represent the opinions of the Government, and particularly of the Prime Minister, took a line at the commencement of these proceedings—it had taken a much wiser course since—which tended in every way to encourage Russia by running down Turkey. We were told that to fight for the independence of Turkey was to fight for a shadow; for that her integrity and her independence were alike impossible. The whole tone assumed by some of the members of the Government, as well as by their supposed organs, bad a very injurious effect; and during the four or five months that he (Lord Beaumont) was on the Continent, he never heard a person whose opinion was worth having, who did not say that it was his firm conviction that the English Cabinet were rather inclined to favour Russia, that they had a bias for Russia, and that they had no intention of going to war with that country to support the integrity and independence of Turkey. It was the general opinion on the Continent, that they looked on her independence as a shadow and an impossibility; that they knew that Russia must prevail; that all they wanted was to avoid a general continental war, and that they would do this by framing any bridge to enable Russia to retreat. Although, as he had said before, he (Lord Beaumont) never would accuse any Minister of descending to work on the public mind in an underhand way, through the press, when he had an opportunity of declaring his opinions in Parlia- 1208 ment, yet, still, knowing that it was generally understood who the writers of these articles were, and that it was whispered that some of them came from persons holding some inferior offices not far from Downing Street, and who might, therefore, have opportunities of learning what were the sentiments of the Government, he thought that these articles must pass as semi-official communications of the opinions and policy of the Government. There had been a wide difference between the language that had been used on this subject by the members of the Government in that House and the members of the Government in the House of Commons; and no contrast could be more complete than the contrast between the speeches which he had lately read in the newspapers, stated to have been delivered by Lord Palmerston, and by Lord John Russell in another place, and the speeches which he had listened to in that House, and which had been delivered by the noble Earl at the head of the Government. He read that the two noble Lords to whom he alluded had made speeches in the other House, so worthy of the dignity of the country, so firm in purpose, so decided with regard to the proceedings of the Government, so positive in their declarations with regard to hostile measures, so condemnatory in every way of the conduct of the Emperor of Russia, so approving, applauding, and asserting the progress of Turkey, stating that they were not fighting for a shadow when they were fighting for the independence of a great progressive power, and stating so distinctly that, under the circumstances in which they were placed, they should go right forward in the course which they had professed to take, namely, to act as the firm and faithful ally of the Porte—that the deduction to be drawn from those speeches was, that no peace would be entered into which did not afford a proper security for the independence of Turkey, and a firm guarantee also for the general peace of Europe. That warlike tone—those spirited phrases—that appeal to the people—that urging on of great armies to proceed—that calling upon the patriotism of the people to support them, contrasted strongly with the speeches they had heard in that House, where a tone bad been assumed which would have been perfectly appropriate in the mouths of Mr. Pease and Mr. Sturge. He found in the speech of the noble Earl a sentence which was not only a contrast, to the speeches of his Colleagues in an- 1209 other place, but which had the effect of making the present state of affairs so gross an anomaly, that he felt the necessity of adopting some vote like that which he proposed. The noble Earl at the head of the Government, in answer to the noble Earl at the head of the Opposition, observed that, when that noble Earl said he was more of a war Minister than he had intended, he had put forth more truth than he perhaps contemplated; for, said the noble Earl, "I can assure him in good truth that if I have any misgiving, it certainly is not that we have been too pacific." Was not that a direct contradiction to the whole statement made in the other House? Did the noble Earl say he was forced to go on against his opinion? Did he still say he had a misgiving whether they were right in going to war? Did he persist in saying, that while his colleagues were blowing the blast of war, he was still hanging on to some hopes of peace? He (Lord Beaumont) could not imagine anything more puzzling or more strange. But the noble Earl said more than that; he said, "the feeling is a generous one, to resist aggression and injustice; but it is not for us to encourage that feeling." He (Lord Beaumont) differed widely from the morality of the noble Earl, who proceeded to add, "On the contrary, it is the duty of the Government as much as possible to resist such feelings, however natural and generous they may be, and to direct them in the course of a more pacific policy." He (Lord Beaumont) differed totally from the noble Earl, and asserted that it was not the duty of the Government, nor of any man, to try to suppress feelings that were honourable in themselves, or to encourage the people to adopt pacific views—that is to say, peace at all price—when war should be the honourable choice. Why should they attempt to crush everything that was patriotic, noble, and generous in the hearts of the people, and to instil into them those ridiculous and absurd doctrines that were preached by that absurd society called the Peace Society? They might smile at the mention of that Society; but it was no smiling matter, when the same doctrines were preached by the head of the Government that were held up by that little club of ridiculous people.
He should now proceed to refer to the conduct of the Government since the meeting of Parliament; and it was upon their proceedings since the meeting of Parlia- 1210 ment that he justified his present Motion. At the meeting of Parliament Her Majesty stated that documents would be laid upon the table relative to the war in the East, and they were informed that, though efforts to obtain peace had been unremitting, they had been unsuccessful; but that, nevertheless, they would be proceeded with, and that it would be necessary to support those efforts by an increase in the naval and military forces. Now, he (Lord Beaumont) presumed those documents were laid there to be read and studied; and he could not understand the allegation that it was useless "to potter" over those papers. They were informed of the position of affairs at the meeting of Parliament, and, though the information given them by the Government was not very precise, it was sufficient for the purpose, and as much as he thought ought at that period to have been given. At that time the note founded on the protocol of Vienna was still before the Emperor of Russia, no positive answer had been received from him, and the Porte, from whom the note was supposed to have proceeded, with the approval of the Conference, had allowed forty days for the Emperor to answer it. He understood that note to be the ultimatum of the whole of the Powers that were represented at the Conference, and that if in forty days no answer was given, or if the note were rejected, there was nothing left then but the last thing they could appeal to—namely, war. Since that, he believed positive information had been received that the Emperor of Russia declined to accept the terms; and after that it was naturally expected that the next step would have been a declaration of war, or, at any rate, that a Message would have come down to Parliament announcing the position in which they then were, and that the last appeal by negotiation was totally at an end. Instead of that, what took place? There had been no information from the Government, there had been no Message from the Crown; on the contrary, whenever an attempt was made to obtain any information from the Government, the members of the Government in that House answered in a manner the most puzzling that was possible. The answer of the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was indeed not only ingenious, for it left them more in the dark than before, but it also, he believed, truly represented the exact position of the Government. Their Lordships would well remember the comments that had been 1211 made on the noble Earl's answer, in a most facetious tone, by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby). The noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon) stated that they were not at peace—that they were not at war—that they were not neutral; but that they were drifting towards war. Now, drifting meant this—and he believed it to be the true position of the Government at the time—drifting was applied to a ship that was going with every wind and tide, and would not obey the helm, and he believed that was the true position of the Government at the time, and he was afraid it was the position of the Government at present. He believed that they were then catching at straws—hoping against hope—thinking that something would happen—that perhaps Austria would come forward and make some convenient bridge for the Emperor to get off—that Count Orloff might propose some more pacific measure—that it was possible that at Berlin something might occur—that something would occur, perhaps, in the Principalities—that the Emperor might win some battle—whereas, on the contrary, he had lost a battle, on the Danube—that his pride would then be satisfied, and that he would come to an arrangement. But everything had turned out contrary to what they expected—all these sources had failed them. Count Orloff's message was more hostile and warlike than any answer that had been received before—the proposal from Vienna had been rejected with scorn—nothing had taken place in Berlin of which he was aware—and instead of the Emperor of Russia winning a battle, he had suffered a defeat. Under these circumstances, he thought that they would have bad, at any rate, a Message from the Crown, or some information from the Minister, to show that, instead of drifting towards war, the ship obeyed her helm, that she had luffed up, and that they were really going to take some decided course. Nothing of the sort; and it appeared to him most extraordinary that, Parliament being sitting, there was no Message from the Crown or statement from the Minister, and that all they could know of the state they were in was to be obtained from the public newspapers, and not from the Minister in Parliament. To his astonishment, he found by the public papers, that a proclamation had been issued which would interrupt the trade of the country—which set aside an Act of Parliament—which prevented men from carrying on their trade—a pro- 1212 clamation which would be justifiable in the case of a war, when the safety of the country required it—which was requisite for the public security, under the circumstances of their going to war with Russia, but which could hardly be reconciled with the assurances of the noble Premier, and the hopes he held out that no hostile measures would be necessary. That proclamation had appeared in the public papers, and yet not only had there been no declaration of war, but they had had no Message from the Crown, or statement from the Government. All they could gather from the speech of the noble Earl at the head of the Government was, that they were still at peace, and likely so to remain; it is true the speeches of the noble Lords in the other House of Parliament indicated something like war, and the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs stated that they were drifting towards war. Surely under these circumstances, as Parliament was sitting, some communication ought now to be made, which, if not equivalent to a declaration of war, would let us know what we were about, and which, going forth to the world, would let it know in what position our fleets were placed. They should consider the dangers to which our merchantmen might be exposed. We might hear some day of some accident having happened. He understood there were now Russian vessels in the Adriatic, and it was possible that some of our ships might fall in with them. If such a thing happened, what was to be done? Would they salute each other? or would our ships seize upon the Russian ships? Or, suppose that the Russian ships should be found acting in cooperation on the coasts with the Palicari, or with Albanian or Greek robbers, who had got possession of some of the mountain passes of Albania, and were trying to raise a rebellion there, until there was a declaration of war, how could the British men-of-war interfere with them? They should have a declaration of some kind; that declaration, indeed, he thought should be a declaration of war, as that would be the natural result of the Emperor of Russia's refusal to accept the ultimatum at the expiry of forty days; but whatever that declaration might be, it should be one which would put an end to the contradictions which now characterised the speeches of Ministers. These circumstances justified him in bringing the subject before their. Lordships; such a state of ignorance ought 1213 not to continue; they ought to be enlightened with regard to the intentions of Government; they should know the position they were placed in. He understood, also, that in the China seas there was a large—certainly a Russian—force. In addition to that, he was afraid of something which was still more serious—and he would be candid on that point, for it was the great object he had in view in waking the present Motion. He was afraid the Government considered that the note which resulted from the protocol of Vienna was still under the consideration of the Emperor of Russia; and he was afraid, that if the Emperor of Russia now accepted that note, the Government would feel themselves justified in coming to an arrangement. Now, he (Lord Beaumont) protested against that—he protested against the possibility of such an act altering the situation of affairs. If they made peace in that way—if they allowed the Emperor of Russia, after he had put them to the expense of fitting out 10,000 or 20,000 men—sending their fleets into the Black Sea and preparing for war—after he had insulted this country in the manner he had done—after he had warred against the opinion of Europe and attempted to trample down the people of Turkey—after he had laid desolate two provinces on the banks of the Danube and destroyed the trade there, blockaded its mouth, and injured the best interests not only of Turkey, but of the whole of Europe—if, after he had done all that—after they had condescendingly and generously given him twenty bridges to retreat over without loss of honour, and he had obstinately refused to avail himself of them—they offered him terms almost equivalent to the terms he originally asked—if they offered now again to sacrifice Turkey, which they would have done if the Czar had accepted any of those offers—if, after he had done all that, they had agreed not only to put him in as good, but in fact in a better position than he stood in before he undertook this unlawful and Unmoral war, he (Lord Beaumont) protested against their purchasing peace at such a price. But he feared that a portion of the Government would eagerly seize upon that straw. He had no fear that the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department would accept such terms. His language was the language he wished to hear in that House, and that noble Lord's tone, the tone which he wished Ministers would assume there. He had no fear that 1214 the leader of the House of Commons, who had made a most eloquent speech, and had spoken out like a man on the subject, to use a vulgar phrase, would submit to such terms; but from all he could collect from the members of the Government in this House, particularly from the noble Earl at the head of it, such terms as these might be acceptable to them. He protested against anything of that sort; but he found, on comparing the expressed opinions of the Prime Minister with all that had fallen on a previous occasion from his noble Friend below him (Earl Grey), except his depreciation of Russia, there was a nearer approach between his noble Friend and the noble Earl at the head of the Government, than between the noble Premier and either of the noble Lords to whose speeches elsewhere he had alluded. If the noble Earl really agreed with his noble Friend below him; if he really thought that the independence of Turkey was a shadow, and that in fighting for Turkey they were fighting for a mere name, he did not think the noble Earl was justified in going to war. If he held those opinions he should recommend them at once to accept any peace they could get, to agree to the Menchikoff note, and to bully the Porte into accepting it. The noble Earl below him (Earl Grey) had said that Turkey was not an independent Power; but he (Lord Beaumont) would undertake to prove that Turkey was as independent a Power as any other Power in continental Europe. It was said that Turkey must either rely upon some of the Western Powers or upon Russia; but admitting the truth of that statement, was there, he asked, a Power is Europe that must not rely upon some of its neighbours, or upon some great Power in Europe, if there should be a combination of other great Powers against it? Was Austria independent? Why, at one period Austria could not have existed for an hour without the support of Russia; and if Russia were to attack her she could not exist an hour if Turkey were not to defend her southern frontier. Could Austria exist if the other Powers in Germany rose in rebellion against her, except she was protected by Russia? He would remind their Lordships of what had taken place in 1850, when the course taken by Prussia would have been fatal to Austria had not the Emperor of Russia interposed in a manner even more violent than he had done towards Turkey: for he drew up a plan for the settlement of the disputes be- 1215 tween Austria and Prussia, and said, "Accept this, or I will march upon you." He treated them both as dependent Powers, and dependent Powers they were. The consequence was, that Prussia was obliged to succumb and obey the mandate of the Czar; she did so, she eat dirt; and the Emperor of Russia told the Emperor of Austria that he could not defend himself against one of his own revolted provinces; but that he, as his protector, would come to his assistance, and that the Emperor of Austria should pay him for it by putting himself entirely at his disposal. For the time, Prussia, Austria, and the other States of Germany were the vassals and slaves of Russia; and that vassalage and slavery existed till the tie was broken not by the manly conduct of Austria or Prussia, but was broken by the cannon of Omar Pasha at Oltenitza. Luckily there was now an opportunity afforded to them of assuming their former position, and he trusted they would, by ranging themselves on the side of national independence and of Turkey, throw off the incubus of Russian influence. What other States were completely independent of all aid in Europe? Was Spain or Portugal? Certainly not. The United States of America are, and perhaps this country and France are, independent Powers; but could even France or England be considered perfectly secure without allies? France and England had wisely sought an alliance with each other; but one of them opposed to the rest of the world would fight an unequal battle, and this is exactly the case with the Ottoman empire—namely, that Turkey, by herself, would also fight an unequal battle. She must seek alliances somewhere to defend herself against the aggression of a foreign Power, as every other Power in Europe under similar circumstances would be obliged to do, and this fact showed the wisdom of General Marmont's observation, that she must seek an alliance either with the Western Powers or with Russia. She preferred the alliance of the Western Powers; but unless they treated her cordially and as an independent State she would be driven into an alliance with Russia, and such an alliance was one of the great objects of Russian statesmen, He believed Russia, when she professed that she did not want to take territory from Turkey, or to take a portion of it herself and give a portion of it to another State; but she desired that Turkey should be united to her in such a manner that she would possess not a province here or a province there, but that she would 1216 be able to exercise a moral influence throughout the whole of Turkey. She might wish to acquire Constantinople, but he believed she would never attempt to hold Constantinople, as she knew the race of men who now possessed it, and she knew that the Sea of Marmora would be one pool of blood, and that no mosque or minaret would be left standing before the Osmanli would permit the Muscovite to possess those territories. She therefore thought it would be better for her own interests to spread a Russian protectorate, which would act like a subtle poison over all the institutions of Turkey, so as to keep her in a state of subjection and enable the Czar to exercise a kind of sneaking control over her. They had now an opportunity of thwarting this long-cherished design, and of driving Russia back from the Principalities over which she had exercised a protectorate, and they should not let slip by that opportunity, but put an end to that protectorate, not only as regarded Wallachia and Moldavia, but as regarded Servia, which had been exercised so much to the detriment of the Ottoman empire. It was their duty to be prepared to do something which might confer a lasting benefit on Europe now that they were preparing to expend their money and their blood and to involve themselves in war. He believed this country would never be satisfied if the war they were about to commence did not lead to some better result than the protocol of Vienna—if it did not, above all, secure the real independence of the Ottoman empire. They should also throw back the Russians from that ground which was called the quarantine ground, at the mouth of the Danube, where, under the name of a quarantine station, she had forts to control the commerce there. The mouth of the Danube should be cleared, and they should establish on it, like all other great European rivers, a highway for all nations and for all flags. This country had now gone too far to go back, and they must for ever shut the books on the table, and no more look to the miserable Vienna note, or equally paltry protocol of the Conference; but they must look forward to making Turkey and Russia distinct countries, without any of those treaties between them which encourage mutual aggression and interference. He was sorry to find that some persons mixed up with the question of the freedom of the Danube the question of the freedom of the Black Sea, and spoke against the treaty of 1841, 1217 which closed the Dardanelles' against foreign vessels. But he (Lord Beaumont) would stand by that treaty. It was a wise and safe treaty for Turkey, and a still wiser and safer treaty for England and France. That treaty, in time of peace, shut the Dardanelles against them, but it also shut the Bosphorus against Russia. Let them consider what was the effect of that treaty, Although Russia could build any amount of ships she liked in the Black Sea, and could also man them and exercise them, as she possessed some of the finest harbours in the world there, she could not, while the treaty of 1841 was in existence, take them into the Mediterranean, If she were not at war with the Porte, her fleet would be perfectly useless to her, because it would be shut up in the Black Sea. All that Russia would be able to do, in the event of a war with England, would be to put a stop to that portion of our trade which was carried on between Constantinople and the ports in the Black Sea; whereas, if the treaty were not in existence, she would be able to come suddenly down into the Mediterranean, and thus keep as large a fleet there as she now kept in the Black Sea. This would oblige us also to increase our fleet in the Mediterranean, and would add both to our danger and to our expense. The treaty of 1841, therefore, guarded this country against surprise by shutting up the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. Certainly, if it were not for that treaty, they could go into the Black Sea; but where would be the use of their going into the Black Sea, unless they went in there with a larger fleet than was possessed by Russia? When we wanted to go into the Black Sea it was generally in consequence of some aggression on the Turkish territory, and when that took place the treaty fell to the ground. Surely a treaty could not be made upon a safer footing. He wished to see that treaty reenacted, and its preamble freed from ambiguity. He said this on account of the interpretation which the noble Earl (Earl of Aberdeen) had put upon this instrument; otherwise he (Lord Beaumont) would be perfectly satisfied with the treaty as it stood. The noble Earl said that the treaty shut the Dardanelles, but contained nothing binding us to uphold the integrity or independence of Turkey. Now, taking the words literally, that might be so; but by the spirit of the treaty we were so bound, and it was unworthy of nations to act upon quibbles of this kind. What was the intention of France in joining in the treaty? In a 1218 despatch of the French Government which was not in the blue book, but which appeared in the Moniteur—and therefore he presumed he might quote it—it was stated that Turkey claimed, under the treaty of 1841, and now had a right to share in the solidarity which now unites all the European States, and in the security which those States now derived from it. He (Lord Beaumont) thought that Turkey was justified in making this demand; because M. Guizot, alluding to this treaty, called it an official act which introduced the Porte into the public right of Europe, and which declared the common intention of the great Powers to respect the inviolability of the Sultan's rights, and to consolidate the repose of his empire. There could, therefore, be no doubt that this treaty admitted the Porte into the comity of European nations, so that the Porte had as good a right to demand protection against the infraction of its integrity as any Power included in the treaty of the Congress of Vienna had a right to demand assistance should their territory be endangered. He (Lord Beaumont) hoped, therefore, that in future they would hear no more about its being advisable that the Black Sea should no longer be a mare clausum. When this question was last before the House his noble Friend below him (Earl Grey) made a speech containing many passages which, if they had fallen from many persons, he should have deemed too absurd for notice, but which, proceeding from an individual who displayed immense ability and judgment in most cases, he felt bound to make some observations upon. He hoped his noble Friend would acquit him of anything ungracious or disrespectful when he declared that he never heard a speech containing so many statements, both of fact and opinion, from which he so completely differed. The general principles which his noble Friend laid down were totally destructive of all society, because, by rendering treaties entirely useless, they would reduce the whole world to a jumble of anarchy and confusion, and leave nations to make what they could for themselves in a universal scramble, instead of appealing to the justice of the common law of Europe, as they now did in all questions of right. He also differed from the noble Earl's alleged facts, although the noble Earl had with great ingenuity strung together, in a very plausible and eloquent speech, isolated circumstances relating at one time to Albania, and at another time to some other equally 1219 obscure territory. The noble Earl's sketch of the Turkish empire was about as true as that wonderful narrative, so agreeable to youth, "Jack the Giant Killer." In the first place the noble Earl stated that Turkey was the most intolerant country, and that no Christian was allowed any degree of freedom there. Now he (Lord Beaumont) ventured to say, from fourteen months' personal experience of Turkey, as well as from the assertions of other persons of the highest authority who had resided there, that there was no portion of Europe, not excepting England itself, where such complete religious toleration for different sects and different opinions prevailed as was the case in Turkey. Indeed, so great was that toleration, that—though the opinion might startle some persons—he could wish it were in some degree curtailed, because it at present enabled the clergy to oppress the laity of the different communions. The toleration of Christians in Turkey went to this extent, that there existed no Ecclesiastical Titles Bill there—the titles of Christian bishops of all denominations were acknowledged. Every man might go freely with book and candle to church; and in fact every religious privilege that could possibly exist was enjoyed by different communities in Turkey. The bishops, priests, and other members of the hierarchy were judges in various cases, and they had the power, in certain instances, of putting in force sentences of excommunication. Quarrels, it was true, sometimes happened between tribes of Mahomedans on the one side and Christians on the other, because the Mahomedans had certain privileges which the Christians had not; but be (Lord Beaumont) scarcely recollected a single instance in which any such quarrel had originated on any question of a purely religious character. The case, indeed, was different between the Christians of different sects. To speak from his own experience—in an island in the Archipelago, where Latin and Greek Christians resided, the enmity between the two sects was so great, that when a Roman Catholic sailor was dying, and wished the viaticum, the Catholic priest came out with the consecrated host, and was proceeding to the death-bed, when the Greek Christians collected a mob, blew out his torches and candles, insulted him in every way, and prevented him from fulfilling the last rite of his church to the living. Catholic processions with the consecrated Host were frequently seen in the 1220 streets walking under the protection of the Mahomedan soldiery; and, on the other hand, the processions of the Greek clergy had to be protected from the Latin Christians in the same manner. In Turkey there were innumerable sects of Christians, and they were all hostile to each other. There was no intolerance displayed on the part of the Turks; in fact, there was not one sect of Christians who were not more intolerant towards their fellow Christians than the Mahomedans; and the Turkish Government invariably took the side of order, and did its utmost to maintain it. The powers of the Christian clergy relating to excommunication and some other matters ought to be regulated or withdrawn. During the last fifteen or twenty years Turkey had made vast progress in social improvement, and in the development of administrative reforms. In a great portion of the empire the wise and excellent provisions of the famous proclamation of Gulhané had been in operation, and tribunals of commerce and courts of criminal jurisdiction had been established, and were working admirably, giving protection to life and property, and affording perfect satisfaction to the community. A code had also been published, and was now in operation; the army had been reorganised, and a perfect system of police instituted; financial reforms had been commenced, and it was not the fault of the Turkish Government that the Christian population did not serve and receive promotion in the army in the same way as the Mahomedans. An able Turkish diplomatist had informed him that the Government were fully aware that the system of conscription, by being confined to the Mahomedans, checked the increase of the Mussulman population, whilst it gave undue advantage to the Christian population. His informant also told him that the Government had been most anxious to induce the Christians to serve in the army, because by this extension of the conscription over the whole population of the country, it would fall much lighter upon the Mussulmans, and enable them to follow agricultural and other industrial pursuits, from which they were to a great extent precluded by the existing system. The Government had, therefore, offered to abolish the capitation tax levied upon the Christians on condition that they would accept service in the army, but the Christians of various denominations had refused to render military service, and preferred, and indeed 1221 begged and intreated, to be allowed to pay the capitation tax instead. The provision of the hatti sheriff of Gulhané in this respect, although it was now the law of the land, and had been so for some years, had not been able to be carried into effect. In fact, then, Turkey had been making rapid strides in social improvement of late years; and—as the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the home Department had stated elsewhere—she had made more internal progress during the last fifteen years than Russia had done in 150 years. The noble Earl (Earl Grey) must therefore have been reading some antiquated books when he came to the conclusion that the independence of Turkey was a shadow, and that she was the most intolerant and the most stationary country on the earth.
He (Lord Beaumont) would now briefly refer to the position in which England stood at the present moment, before he sat down. As he had said before, all negotiations had terminated on the 9th of this month. Since then we had been drifting about, as the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs said, and now it was time that we should know whether we were likely to take some certain course, and also towards what point the Government intended to steer. If the Government meant now to go to war with a great object in view—namely, to complete such a peace as was likely to be permanent—never could a Government go to war under better auspices. We were closely bound and allied to the great and powerful nation of France by the ties of common interests and common objects, and in vain would any attempt be made to separate the two countries. We had likewise the prospect of having Austria and Prussia with us, to the statesmen of which countries it must be clear and evident, as it was to the world, that the chance of maintaining the independence of these two German Powers rested upon their joint action with England and France. The geographical position of Austria indicated the necessity of such a combination, and the honour of Prussia urged her in the same direction. Had we not, therefore, the certainty of the joint action of these three great Powers in the course we were about to pursue? Further than that, had we not also an ally in the Power on whose land we were going to fight the battle of civilisation against barbarism, of independence against aggression, and right against wrong? Had we not also already witnessed the bravery and the success of the 1222 arms of Turkey, and the people of that country rallying round their Sovereign eager to defend his rights?—had we not also observed the judgment, the intelligence, the honour, and the honesty of the Turkish Government? The ability, and firmness, and good sense displayed by Reshid Pasha and the other Turkish Ministers, was some guarantee that that Government was not likely to be led away by any vain hopes, or to be induced to act without the fullest confidence in the friendship and support of her allies. Nor was this all. Far beyond all these elements of strength, our Government had with them at this moment the people of England, whose patriotic enthusiasm had been fully aroused. Never was a more interesting spectacle witnessed than that presented by the departure of the Guards the other day, cheered as they went by crowds of their fellow-countrymen, and showing by the words which fell from them that their hearts were enlisted in the cause in which they were about to serve. Backed by this immense moral and physical support, it was the duty of the Government to obtain something far more advantageous than a counterpart of the protocol of Vienna—something that should secure a firm and lasting peace. With this view he had brought the subject under the consideration of the House. Let the people of this country be assured that the Government was not engaging in a war in order to patch up worthless treaties—for shadows or phantoms, but for great European objects—for objects worthy of our arms, and for the real and earnest support of an ally and a nation essential to our existence, and who he believed was now fighting our battle as well as its own on the banks of the Danube. Turkey had long been the means of saving Europe from the invasion of northern barbarism, and now we must not repeat our former blunders by leaving her to fight it alone, but identify her cause with our own, and endeavour to draw from our expenditure a permanent good for her and for Europe at large. Well, with all this in our favour, what was there arrayed against us? He could not agree with his noble Friend (Earl Grey) in his estimate of the power of Russia, which seemed to be on a par with that once entertained by a Gentleman who talked of "crumpling it up." Russia was an immense Power, and in a just cause would not easily be beaten. She was a great military Power, and possessed great moral power over a large por- 1223 tion of Europe, which a short time ago would have given her immense influence over the destinies of both Prussia and Austria. Let them not, then, despise Russia; but still it was true she now stood single-handed against the combination of all the Punters of Europe. By whom was she supported? Nut by the public opinion of Europe—not by the Christian population of Turkey, though great efforts had been made to create a Russian cause among them. He knew that there had been some outbreaks in Albania and other places, but be was able, by previous experience, to put a proper estimate on those outbreaks. He knew that the Emperor of Russia bad plied the trade of Mazzini in Turkey without either the excuse or the ability of the Italian agitator. Russia's policy was always first to excite disaffection in the countries which she wished to subdue; and she had sought to spread anarchy in the Turkish States by means of agents whom she could afterwards disavow. But she had failed. The Bulgarian population of Russia had evinced a desire to emigrate to Turkey, in order to enjoy the blessings of a milder government. Even the Christian population of Turkey so much dreaded the nominal protection of Russia that they had spontaneously declared that they would sooner live under the rule of the Porte. In Moldavia and Wallachia, and particularly in the latter province, the whole of the liberal party had loudly proclaimed in 1848, and since that date, their wish to be under the simple suzerainty of the Sultan, with the liberties which he had offered them, and to be released from the incubus of the guarantee and protection of Russia. Russia, then, in the present case, stood alone on the one side, and all Europe on the other. Whatever might be the difficulties, therefore, which they might have to overcome, he never could believe that, in a state of circumstances such as that, this country and its allies would not in a very short time have its enemy in such a position as to be able to dictate whatever terms it pleased. This was in truth the real object of his Motion. He had no wish to force on the Emperor of Russia any unjust or exaggerated demands, but he should not have any confidence in the Government unless they demanded of Russia something more than a mere protocol embodying the substance of the Vienna note, and unless they insisted upon some clear and definite measure from Russia which would hereafter ensure the peace of Europe 1224 and vindicate the common law of nations. Be should feel little confidence in the Government if he thought, as appeared to be indicated by the speeches of two noble Lords in the other House of Parliament, that the Government merely contemplated the reinstatement of the protocol of Vienna. But if Her Majesty's Ministers were willing to announce that the objects they had in view were such as were worthy of the country, then he would give them his humble support, and he hoped and believed they would receive the support of the United Kingdom. The noble Lord having apologised to their Lordships for having so long trespassed on their attention, concluded by moving his Resolutions.
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
My Lords, I have listened with great attention to the long, able, and discursive speech of my noble Friend who has just sat down; but I have listened in vain for any arguments in support of the Resolutions with which he has concluded his speech. My Lords, I think that there are parts of those Resolutions which are certainly unobjectionable; but, at the same time, I consider that it is perfectly useless for your Lordships to affirm by a positive Resolution a notorious fact, which was stated in Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne, and that it is also perfectly useless to affirm other statements which have been made in both Houses of Parliament. I think it also highly objectionable that your Lordships should tie your hands with reference to the results of a war which is not yet commenced, in order to give scope to speculative or administrative reforms in Turkey. But I hope that my noble Friend, now having had that opportunity, which he says he did not have the other night, of making his speech, will not press the Resolutions which he has now laid on the table. And, my Lords, I am certainly not about to follow—even if I were able to do so—my noble Friend through the various topics to which he has at different times returned and returned again in the course of his speech. I shall not follow him through his details, neither shall I refer to the despatch of M. Pozzo di Borgo, nor to the details in the Times newspaper, nor to the Russian iniquities which he has recounted, nor to the Turkish statistics into which he so fully entered: nor, since it has been my duty to trespass on your Lordships' attention at some length on a very recent occasion, should I have troubled you at all this evening, had it not been that 1225 my noble Friend has joined in much of that uncandid opposition to which Her Majesty's Government has been subjected; had he not accused us, as others have done, of that which I know is not the fact; and had he not said, in reference to the past, that we have exhibited an easy credulity and behaved without sufficient decision during the negotiations on this question. I will only detain your Lordships a very few minutes by offering a remark on that part of my noble Friend's speech which refers to past events: and, indeed, if I feel boned to offer any explanation to your Lordships and to the country—and, in fact, the only matter concerning which any explanation either to your Lordships or to the country is at all necessary—it is in respect to that part of my noble Friend's speech which refers, not to past events, but to the position in which we now stand, and the objects which we have in view. However, my Lords, with reference to the past, I will say a very few words in reply to my noble Friend. My noble Friend has referred to our really credence of what was stated to us by Russia. I say that, up to the beginning of May, when we knew that Prince Menchikoff had other designs than those which we were led to believe—I say it would have been impossible not to have given credit to those frequent, those solemn, and, in many instances, unsolicited assurances which we received from Russia; and I am perfectly certain that my noble Friend himself, if he had been in our place, would have done the same. As soon, however, as we found—which was within less than two months after these negotiations commenced—as soon as we found what was the course of policy being pursued by Russia—as soon as we found that it was not what we had been led to expect it to be, there was never for one moment any hesitation in our opinion as to the course we should adopt. We declared our determination to uphold the integrity and independence of the Turkish empire; we advised the Sultan not to assent to anything contrary to his dignity or independence; and we assured him, and we told him that if the terms which he proposed and which were consistent with his dignity, were refused by Russia, he might then securely count upon our active support. But, at the same time, my Lords, we strenuously and sincerely laboured in the cause of peace; and if my noble Friend had had the candour to put himself in our place seven or eight months ago, he would, I 1226 am sure, admit that it was for our interest, and for the interest of our ally; but, above all, for the interest of Turkey, which is mainly in view, that we should not have rushed into war. The state of things, at that time, was this—that Turkey was wholly unprepared for war, that she could have offered no resistance, that there was no Baltic fleet, and that, at this very time, our own fleet, except that portion of it which was at Besika Bay, and also the fleet of France, were scattered over the world; while Austria and Prussia, condemning alike with ourselves the occupation of the Principalities, were entreating us not to resort to warlike measures until remonstrances and representations had been made to Russia, but assuring us that if those representations were not effectual, they would act in concert with us. And your Lordships must bear this other fact in mind, that no sooner had a Russian force entered the Principalities, than the Emperor of Russia asked for the mediation of Austria, whose principal object was to get him out of the Principalities. So far from there being at that time any desire for war, or that enthusiasm which my noble Friend has said exists at this moment, no one would listen to war, or believe in its possibility. But my noble Friend and others say that we did not use strong language, which would have controlled the Emperor of Russia, and prevented war. My Lords, strong language means menace, and menace means war; for I suppose my noble Friend does not mean that we should menace the Emperor of Russia unless we were prepared to support the menace; and I say you have no right—that my noble Friend has no right—to say that the Emperor of Russia more than any other man would have bent to menace. In speaking of Russia, let it be remembered that we are speaking of, and dealing with, a very great nation, and also with a single man, a man holding despotic power and irresponsible for the exercise of it; accustomed to the predominance of his will, and possess: big great resources. I should like to know why the Emperor of Russia should have bent to menace, and why he should have evacuated the Principalities upon the English and French fleets occupying the Black Sea? If we had then gene to war—gone to war, mind you, as my noble Friend says, on account of the great military preparations that Russia had made—on account of the vast armaments and corps d' armée that were collected on the Turkish frontier— 1227 what would have been the sentiments of the people of England? If Russia was then prepared, as my noble Friend thinks she was, and we had gone to war, there was nothing to have prevented the Russian army from crossing the Danube and proceeding towards Constantinople. Now, I believe that Russia could not have crossed the Danube, and I believe that, as my noble Friend (Lord Beaumont) says, territorial aggrandisement is not what Russia wants; but what would have been the consequence of that if it had taken place—the Turks being unarmed, unprepared, and unable to resist? Why, the consequence would have been that the Russians would have exacted, from the fears and weakness of Turkey, what terms they had desired; while Austria and Prussia might fairly have said to us, "You have disregarded our interests, you have disregarded our entreaties; you have not allowed us to use the means at our disposal; you must not, therefore, be surprised, nor quarrel with us, if you find that our alliance with Russia is cemented." The people of this country would have been justly indignant if no measures had been taken, if no attempts had been made to save the vast foreign interests of this country from the calamities of war. But, my Lords, we acted otherwise—we acted as our accusers would have acted, or as any men of sense and alive to the consequences and responsibilities of their own acts, would have acted; and what have been the consequences? Why, as even my noble Friend admits, a powerful army has been raised in Turkey with an alacrity that is perfectly wonderful; that that army has already done great and good service; and that a national spirit, wholly apart from a fanatical spirit, has been raised in Turkey, which inspires the utmost confidence in the vigour and vitality of that country; while Austria and Prussia, grateful for the deference that we have shown to their opinions, and as fully alive as we are to the aggressive and mischievous policy of Russia, are now with us. We no longer hear any talk about neutrality. It was only this day that I heard by telegraph that 25,000 fresh troops had been ordered by Austria to the frontier. We ourselves shall shortly have in the Downs as effective and powerful a fleet as ever left the shores of England to sustain her glory; the French Government are precisely in the same position; while the conviction existing in England that war is inevitable, because every means of main- 1228 taining peace have been exhausted, will be a very important source of success. I say, then, my Lords, that we have brought to bear against Russia an amount of moral and material power such as no nation on earth ever before had to encounter; and that this is the result of six months forbearance and moderation. And now, my Lords, that the facts are before the people of England, who in their judgments are always just and reasonable, to judgment and sense of justice we appeal. They admit that these things are so; and as to the charges brought against us of credulity and connivance to the dishonouring of England, there is no echo of these accusations from the people of this country.
My Lords, I now come to the part of my noble Friend's speech in which he asked, what is our present position—whether we are at war? and very justly deduced that we are not at war, because no declaration to that effect has been made by the Government in either House of Parliament. My noble Friend seemed to show a most feverish and nervous anxiety lest the deferring of the declaration of war should indicate a settled determination on the part of the Government to maintain peace. I can to a certain extent relieve the mind of my noble Friend on that subject; because, although I certainly am just as desirous for peace as ever, and should be just as happy as ever if I could inform your Lordships that peace was now attainable upon just and honest grounds, yet I must say that I see no prospect of such a thing. Just and honourable terms have been in the hands of the Emperor of Russia. He might, with honour to himself, have relieved Europe from the state of suspense and anxiety in which it now is, and have saved it from the calamities of the war in which we may now be about to plunge; but he has rejected all overtures of a pacific nature, and has added to his original unreasonable demands requisitions that cannot for a moment be entertained. He has made representations and addressed remonstrances to his nearest allies; and by a requisitition to them to connect themselves with his policy, it is not too much to say that he has hurled defiance at Europe. My noble Friend need not be under any apprehension that that challenge will not be taken up. But your Lordships must be well aware that we are not acting alone; it is not a quarrel between England and Russia alone;—we are acting with allies 1229 and for allies, and it would be the height of imprudence were we not to take all the precautions which the circumstances of the case render necessary; or if we were to be induced by any sneers or reproaches to declare or to announce anything which we do not consider the actual state of things to require. I am quite sure that your Lordships will not require that we should do so. Your Lordships never do require that any statement should be made by a Government which they believe would be prejudicial to the public service; and your Lordships will readily understand that, as Austria and Prussia have fully entitled themselves to our confidence, it is our duty to defer to a certain extent to their wishes, as well as our interest to know what, under certain contingencies, will be their policy. We are also bound to consult, not alone the wishes, but also the dignity of the Sultan, and to inform him of the measures we are about to take in order to guard the integrity and independence of his empire. We have consequently proposed to the Sultan a convention, and until his assent to that is given, it would be to consult neither his dignity nor his independence to land an English and French army upon his territory. My noble Friend need therefore be under no alarm in consequence of the declaration of war not having yet been communicated to the Houses of Parliament, because he must be aware that no time is lost and no injury caused by the delay; that during this time our preparations are being carried on with all necessary vigour and energy; and that the fleets and armies of England and France will be in a state to carry out effectively the great purpose of any war—the prompt restoration of peace.
My noble Friend has said much about what the objects of that peace should be, and has required your Lordships to bind yourselves to what shall be the ultimate object in view. I think, however, that your Lordships will be of opinion that it would be a most imprudent course—nay, it would be an impossible course—for you to pledge yourselves as to the results of a war which has not yet commenced, and upon the contingencies, upon the proverbial chances and uncertainties of which they must depend. There are many things which may be just and desirable to be attained, but which at the present moment it is totally impossible for us to say can be attained. Many of the things my noble Friend has alluded to may be just and de- 1230 sirable—it may be desirable that none of the treaties now existing between Russia and Turkey should continue in force. But, by the way, there is a great misapprehension about those treaties. I will take, for instance, the treaty of Kainardji. Why does the Emperor of Russia quarrel with that treaty? Because he says it does not give him what he wants, and that it is ineffectual for its purpose. He wants to interpret it in a manner in which Europe will not permit him to interpret it, in order that he may get a power and influence which he can get in no other way. It is the 7th article of that treaty on which he rests his claim. What is that 7th article? He says that the Sultan promises, by that article, to protect the Greek religion and all its churches throughout the Ottoman empire. I must say that this is a very proper pledge for a Mahomedan Power to give to a Christian one; but it is limited to, or rather it extends no further than, the general protection; and the only intervention permitted to Russia with respect to the Greek Church is with respect to a church at that time building in Constantinople. It, therefore, proves that the Emperor has no right to protect the Greek Church, which does not equally apply to other denominations. So much with respect to the treaty of Kainardji. I say the same with regard to the treaty of Balta Liman in respect to the provinces. The Emperor of Russia is not in possession of the Principalities by virtue of that treaty, but in violation of it. If that treaty had never existed, his troops might, and probably would, have been there. He is there by the right, or rather by an abuse of the right, of vicinage. The Emperor of Russia has an army on the frontier, and whenever he wants to coerce Turkey he marches into her neighbouring territory; that is all that it has to do with the existence of a treaty. I was going to say, however, that it might be just and desirable to effect some of the things alluded to by my noble Friend. It might be desirable not to retain these treaties; it might be very desirable or very just to take from Russia, and to restore to the countries from which they had been taken, various territories which Russia had taken from other countries; it may be very just and desirable to make Russia pay the cost of the war; but, my Lords, it is impossible that we should take any resolution upon any of these subjects without knowing with what skill and with what success the war will be con- 1231 ducted, or what will be the position and circumstances of the Emperor of Russia at its conclusion. The predilection of Mr. Pitt for the French Royal Family, for the Bourbons, was certainly very strong. No one could desire more than he did, as the result of the war, that they should be restored to the throne of their ancestors; yet throughout the war, notwithstanding that he was constantly pressed to do so, Mr. Pitt never would say that the restoration of the Bourbons was the object of the war, or should be the ground on which peace should be concluded. In the same way, my Lords, I affirm that we cannot now come to any resolution as to how a peace shall be made durable, or how Turkey shall so become a portion of the great European family as shall tend to make peace durable. My Lords, for my own part, I think that we are now on the threshold of very momentous and important events; and I think that it would in become the gravity of the moment and the circumstances of the case to come to any resolution such as is suggested by the noble Lord. We are now approaching—or rather, I may say, we are already embarked in—that great question which has long been foreseen, and which has long been postponed, by all the ablest and clearest-sighted statesmen in Europe, on account of its magnitude—of the universal political embarrassment and commercial dislocation which it would cause; but, my Lords, as we are about to undertake it, and as we have been forced into it against our wish, I say that it ought to be settled, and firmly settled, once for all. I again repeat, my Lords, that it is impossible for us at this moment to tell what the result will be; but I can assure your Lordships that it is the purpose of every man who directly or indirectly will take part in this war, and that it is the purpose of Her Majesty's Government, so far as the course of events will permit, to do that which is necessary for, the future security and tranquillity of Europe—to check the aggressive and ambitious power of Russia;—I say that it will be necessary to maintain the integrity of the Ottoman empire; I say it will be necessary to take solid guarantees that Europe shall not be again deprived of the great blessings of peace; but I say also that neither this country nor the other Christian Powers would fulfil the great duty that has devolved upon them, nor, indeed, would they consult the best interests of the Sultan himself, if they did 1232 not take this opportunity to secure equal rights and equal justice to the Christian subjects of the Porte, and to pave the way for that progress and prosperity which Christian civilisation would bring about in that empire.
§ THE EARL OF MORNINGTON
was understood to blame the Government for having, at one stage of the transactions, placed too great confidence in the assurances of peace made by Russia, while that Power was actively arming for war. He thought that, in the face of certain notorious facts, they ought to have required from that Power more distinct and positive explanations. It was necessary, in his opinion, in order to maintain the just balance of power in Europe, to deprive Russia of that power which she exercised, under the pretext of religious treaties, against the independence of the Sultan. The Russo-Greek communion and the Greek Church were as different as Protestantism and Romanism; and, therefore, the Emperor of Russia had no justification for putting forward the claims be had made to the protectorate of that Church. He had a great respect for the Turkish character, and very little for the position of the Greek and Christian population generally in the Turkish dominions; but the way to prove that population and to render them more moral was to let them see that all Christian nations collectively in Europe were ready, should they be oppressed by the Turks, to interest themselves in their behalf for the sake of Christianity, but not for the purpose of supporting one sect against the other as had hitherto been the case.
§ LORD LYTTELTON
My Lords, on this question I will not say that it is my misfortune to agree with the noble Earl (Earl Grey): I do not put it in that way, for I am very glad to agree with that noble Earl whenever I can. But I have the misfortune to hold to some extent, in common with him, views in which I fear very few of your Lordships, very few people of this country, concur. That being so, I have, indeed, no sort of satisfaction in giving expression to these views in this place. A noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst) once quoted here a saying of a learned man in old times—Nunquan libentius loquor, quam cum quod dico auditoribus displicet. The noble Lord said he did not share in that feeling—neither do I. But I do feel unwilling that the noble Earl should be alone in this House in giving 1233 expression to those opinions; and I hope I may ask the indulgence of the House if I now act on that feeling. I do not profess adhesion to all the views stated by the noble Earl. Concerning the condition of the Russian and Turkish empires—concerning the old question of the balance of European power—I will only say, that what the noble Earl said seems to me deserving of serious consideration. I propose to take a much narrower ground—to confine myself to the demand of Russia—for what I presume was the most important point in the recent negotiations, the power of interference, control—what you will—over the affairs of the Greek Church in Turkey, and, with reference to that, to the period of Prince Menchikoff's mission. Since, or nearly since that time, I much agree with the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), that, mainly, I suppose, by the indecision and embarrassment of the Austrian Government, the negotiations became such as it is very difficult to understand, to follow, or to recollect. I trust that no apology is required—an apology is due at any time from so insignificant a Member of the House as myself, for troubling the House—but I trust no apology is required for adverting to these early negotiations. At least, I do not think there has been any general response to the opinion expressed in some quarters, that it is a waste of time to speak of these early transactions. I apprehend it has always been the custom, the right, and the duty of Parliament, closely to scrutinise the origin of wars; that it is important for various reasons, and especially with respect to the guidance of our future policy. Now I by no means deny that, preceding and accompanying Prince Menchikoff's mission, there was much in the conduct of Russia to excite suspicion and disapproval—in her vast armaments, in the imperious tone, and in the demand for secrecy, which he was instructed to make use of. But that is not the exact question. I wish to look at the actual demands made by Russia, and at what our negotiators were prepared to concede; and I desire to ask attention, with perhaps rather more precision than has yet been done, to the words of some of the inure important documents of that time. It seems that there were four important papers issued by Prince Menchikoff; and what I would urge is, that as that series of proposals was a series of concessions on the part of Russia, so the difference of the parties, which began by 1234 being one of substance, became one of form, and in the end even that difference of form was obliterated. The first paper was a project of secret treaty; the second, a letter proposing a different sort of convetion; the third, the actual draft of convention founded on that letter; the fourth, the well-known note or ultimatum. I must ask leave of the House to read the particular clauses in these papers which bear on my point. The first is this:—The Greek religion shall always be protected in all the churches; the representatives of the imperial Court shall have the right to give orders to the churches in Constantinople and in other places, as well as to the ecclesiastics; and as these recommendations proceed from a friendly and neighbouring Government, they shall be welt received.No one can doubt that this is an objectionable proposal. Considering the relation of the parties, of course these "orders" would be peremptory ones; and their being "well received" means, of course, the absolute submission of Turkey. In the very next paper these grounds of objection have disappeared. It is there merely said that "a sened or convention shall be made for the guarantee of the strict status quo of the privileges of the Catholic Greco Russian rite of the Eastern Church, and of its sanctuaries." The third paper puts this in a definite form, namely, the article—No change shall be made as regards the rights, privileges, and immunities which have been enjoyed by, or are possessed ab antiquo by, the orthodox churches, pious institutions, and clergy in the dominion of the Porte, which is pleased to secure the same to them in perpetuity, on the strict basis of the status quo now existing.The fourth is substantially the same as the third, but the form is varied from a convention to an official note. Now this question is one partly of substance, partly of form—partly the form of the question is itself its substance; and I would first ask the attention of the House to an important despatch of Lord Stratford, inclosing (under date 15th May) a proposal which he then thought, between the time of the third and fourth proposals of Prince Menchikoff, might be accepted by the Porte. In that despatch he states—"Your Lordship will perceive that it gives everything required by Russia, except the form of guarantee." Now it is true that these words are not literally correct. The clause referred to does concede all that Russia asks, but that the limiting words are added, "as regards spiritual matters." And I am aware that in some parts of these 1235 papers, stress is laid on this circumstance. But I apprehend nothing can, in fact, be built upon it. For whatever Lord Stratford may have thought about it, it is clear that the Porte itself was prepared to go beyond those words. This appears in many places, but especially in a firman which the Porte issued, or was to issue, at a subsequent period, and which appears in p. 271. There the Sultan says:—I propose that the special privileges concerning spiritual matters which my ancestors have granted to the clergy of the Greek religion, my faithful subjects—that the immunities and privileges granted to its churches" (additional) "with the lands and real property dependent thereon—and that the immunities and rights which peculiarly appertain to the Greek clergy—shall be for ever maintained.And again, in the protest against the occupation of the Principalities, the Porte "does not hesitate to give sufficient assurances respecting the rights, spiritual privileges, and other immunities attaching to the Greek churches." I conceive, therefore, that Lord Stratford's words are substantially correct, and that the difference was only one of form. Well, then the form was given up! In the elaborate language sometimes used in these despatches, all that was "bilateral and synallagmatic" in the form was given up, and an official note was substituted. It is true that in one place Lord Stratford says that the note would have the force of a treaty. But how could that be? If the force, why not the form? I must repeat that the stress was laid on the mere form, and that that form was given up. And, accordingly, on the note being submitted by them to the Porte, and their advice asked, our negotiators, rather like people unexpectedly taken at their word, refused to say anything. I must say this seems rather a poor-spirited and improper thing to do. I conceive that it was their duty throughout these transactions to have advised the Porte. But, in fact, though nominally they did not advise, it cannot be doubted that their opinion was well known at Constantinople. In the very despatch sending home the note, Lord Stratford says:—The Pasha declared his opinion that the altered form of the Russian demands left them as objectionable as ever, and I found that my colleagues agreed with me in adopting an opinion essentially identical with that of the Turkish Minister.Now it is true that this confinement of the question to the point of form was not resorted to by our Government at home as it 1236 was at Constantinople. The noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon) always insisted much on the substance of the demand. That substance may be found most conveniently stated in the third of Prince Menchikoff's papers, as follows:—No change shall be made as regards the rights, privileges, and immunities which have been enjoyed by, or are possessed ab antiquo by, the orthodox clergy, &c., in the dominions of the Porte, which is pleased to secure the same to them in perpetuity, on the strict basis of the status quo now existing.One objection was taken by the Secretary of State to a part of this clause, which hardly seems to have much weight—namely, founded on the words ab antiquo, as possibly admitting a number of indefinite and obsolete claims on the part of Russia, to the danger of the Turkish empire. Now this is answered in several parts of the Russian papers, but it was really superfluous to do so, for the clause itself says that what is claimed is the status quo now existing. I desire, then, to know what is the objection to the substance of this demand? I do not mean to say its effect on the actual state of things—the actual condition of the people in the Turkish empire. If that were the question, there is much curious evidence upon it that may be inferred from the despatches of that able negotiator, Sir Hamilton Seymour. It will be found that in several places, when pressed by Count Nesselrode to say what would be the harm of this—what would be the real change—he evades, in a remarkable way, giving any argument in reply. He says:—"After a little discussion on this, we passed on;" or, "I said it was of no use to advert to that; that the mind of my Government was made up upon it, and there was nothing more to be said." But there is one much more significant passage. In a report (p. 242) of a conversation which he had with Count Nesselrode, Sir H. Seymour says he observed—"this was a question of granting to the Emperor a right of protection over 10,000,000 of Greeks, which would make them all look up to a foreign sovereign, and not to their own master." "Have they looked," Count Nesselrode replied, "for the last 100 years in any other direction?" Sir H. Seymour, of course, denies this in a general sort of way, but he does not controvert it; and his concluding sentence seems to me still more significant. He says:—It may, indeed, be argued that this influence is already possessed by Russia, and that, although 1237 the right to interfere generally on behalf of the Greek subjects of the Porte is not yet secured to her, the practice of so interfering has long prevailed, All this may be true.And then he adds words which, I must say, coming from so clear a writer as Sir H. Seymour, seem to me, from their feebleness and indistinctness, to furnish strong proof that he himself felt very little force in what he was saying. He says:—All this may be true, but it is no less certain that a long-cherished object is seen to have been sought by a tortuous path, and that if words be not intended to disguise intentions, Her Majesty's Government have good right to look with suspicion upon their demands.But what I am to look at is the condition of the existing treaties. I desire to know in what respect this demand departs from the substance of the treaty of Kainardji? No doubt the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Clanricarde) and others have put their finger on these very treaties, and have said, "The mischief lies here, and these treaties must be reconstructed." That may be or may not; I am not concerned to argue it. Very likely it is so, and that reconstruction may be an incidental advantage of the present war; but of course there was no such question as that in the negotiation, and the argument tells the other way. No one can doubt that, if Russia could have established that her demands did not vary from the treaties, her case would have been made out. Well, the words in the treaty of Kainardji are no doubt very few, very simple, very general:—"The Porte promises to protect the Christian religion and its churches." And the only argument in these papers against the Russian allegation that its present demand, though more explicit and detailed, is substantially identical with the terms of the treaty is—first, that the treaty is general, while the demand is precise; and, secondly, that whereas the treaty mentions the Christian religion, the demand relates to the Greek Church. But the more general words are, the more space they may cover in a question; and, with regard to the first and to the second point, with every desire to find a satisfactory answer, and, though it is what one does not like to do—at such a moment it may sound unnational—to adopt the enemy's words, I cannot resist the force of a few sentences, which I will read, of Count Nesselrode, in a sort of semi-official letter which he wrote to Sir H. Seymour (p. 328):— 1238As regards the treaty of Kainardji, it is very true that, if taken literally, the rights and privileges of the Greek religion are not mentioned therein in express terms; but protection granted to religion and its churches clearly implies, in the estimation of every sensible and honest man, that of the rights and privileges of the said churches. From the moment that the Sultan pledged himself to us to protect them, he by that very act conferred upon us the right of watching over the manner in which he fulfilled that engagement. And, as regards the term 'Christian religion,' employed in the article of the treaty, we will not do the English Cabinet the injustice to suppose that it is desirous of quibbling (subtiliser) on that term. It is very evident that, in stipulating for religion and churches in Turkey, the Catholic rite being already placed there under another protection than than own, there could only be a question of the religion and the churches to which we and the subjects of the Sultan our co-religionists belong.I, therefore, cannot resist the conclusion, that the Porte ought to have been advised to accept this ultimatum; and that, if so, the war would have been averted or postponed. Perhaps, indeed, that is not denied. The noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) seemed to think it enough to say that it would only have been so for a time. I reply, that a mere postponement of a war is a clear gain and a great advantage. It is so even in the nation implicated, unless it can be shown that, after postponement, it would enter on the war at an increased disadvantage. And how can that be maintained of Turkey? Is it not the fact that, since the last war, or the last danger of war, that empire has greatly increased in military power and ability? Are we not loudly told by the friends of Turkey, that that improvement is rapidly going on? And still more, might it not have been hoped, though I at least could not confidently expect it, that had peace been preserved, Turkey might have well spent the years that are coming in the conciliation and consolidation of the affections of her own people, especially of her Christian population? I must say, notwithstanding what has been said by my noble Friend (Lord Beaumont), that some credit must be given to what we see in these blue books; and that nothing can be more I eminently unsatisfactory than the reports there furnished by Lord Stratford of the state of that Christian population. And I should conjecture that, if at this moment there is one subject which more than and other weighs upon the minds of Her Majesty's Ministers, it is the accounts which reach us day by day of the Greek insurrection in the Turkish provinces. Moreover, 1239 the question whether war was or was not, sooner or later, inevitable, does not make insignificant the question, whether it was just in its origin at the time it was entered upon. I am one of those who consider that the war of 1793 was not, at the time and on the grounds on which we engaged in it, a justifiable one. I have no idea that it could have been long deferred; but still the question, whether it was then a right one, has always been held an important one in history. Having ventured to express these opinions, I am anxious to add some words, to some extent, in qualification of them. First, it would be very presumptuous and unbecoming in me to cast any strong or sweeping censure either on the Government, or on the able man who has conducted these negotiations at Constantinople. I cannot, indeed, resist the opinion, that at an important moment errors of judgment were committed, but no one can feel more strongly that both here and there they were actuated by the most sincere love of justice and the most anxious desire of peace. My noble Friend (the Earl of Aberdeen) has often told us that he feels, as every man ought to feel, the contest pain at the thought of this country being involved in war from any cause whatever. I also wish distinctly to avow, that these opinions have no practical bearing on the present or immediate future conduct of this country. Not only now, but for many months past, I believe that war has been inevitable; and an inevitable war is a just war. For many months past, I conceive that Russia, almost by her every step, has been putting herself more and more in the wrong, and so has altered the whole aspect of the question. Still more, after the approval, the support, the encouragement, the promises which we have given to Turkey, it would be impossible to desert her now in her hour of extreme peril and need. Parliament, indeed, is not responsible for this war. By the necessities of our foreign system—almost entirely even while Parliament is sitting, quite so when it is not—the responsibility of a war lies upon the executive Government. But Parliament is responsible for the execution of the promises of the Government, and, therefore, would be so for so flagrant a breach of faith as the desertion of Turkey now would be. War, therefore, must be; and must be carried on in the most humane, that is, the most vigorous manner. And, no doubt, it is well in many, perhaps in most, points of view, that in such a war we should have 1240 the strong popular feeling which now exists on our side. But I hope that no one is relying too much on the continuance of that popular feeling. No one can tell me of any war that was not popular at its outset with the people of this country, and the more so now because it is so entire a novelty to the present generation. No wonder, then, magnificent preparations for war delight them. But that same novelty and inexperience will very soon have a powerful opposite effect, when the people begin to feel the burdens of war, of which they now know nothing. I believe, and sincerely hope, that the Government intend to make the country pay for this war year by year, without running into debt. That is the only right way; but its effect on the popular feeling may easily be anticipated. But, as to the people's approval of this war, what do the bulk of the people know about the origin of this war? What can they know about it? What they know and see is, that there is a big fellow bullying a little one, and that the little one is making a brave fight of it—and they are all for the little one. And that is very good and right; but it has nothing to do with the question of the justice of the origin of this war. I can only hope that the result may be a peace more stable and durable than we have lately had—the production of some good that may more than counterbalance the certain interruption of good, and creation of evil, that any war whatever must occasion.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
said, he would not trespass long upon their Lordships' time, but he rose to express the satisfaction with which be had listened to the able and eloquent speech of the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, because, whatever might be their Lordships' opinions with regard to the origin of the dispute and the manner in which the negotiations had been conducted, they were all agreed with the noble Lord (Lord Lyttelton), that the prosecution of the war in a vigorous manner was the best, the safest, and the most humane policy. The speech of the noble Earl held out hopes to the country that Her Majesty's Government were fully alive to that consideration, and were amply doing their duty. But he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) wished to call the attention of their Lordships to the fact, that there never before had been an occasion when the country sent out an armed expedition and organised great fleets without a communication upon the subject, or the ob- 1241 ject, being made direct from the Crown to the two Houses of Parliament. And such a message from the Crown might have been made on the present occasion, and yet need not have communicated one quarter as much in the way of revealing in a direct form the plans of the Government as was contained in the speech of his noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon), The noble Earl had referred to the authority of Mr. Pitt as a precedent. He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) would also refer to the authority of Mr. Pitt, and of those who were his contemporaries; and he found that when Mr. Pitt went to war, and when Mr. Addington, his successor, went to war, they came down to the Houses of Parliament and not only made a communication, but moved an Address, by which the sense of Parliament was expressed on the expediency of the war. The Address moved in the year 1803 might be adopted almost verbatim at the present crisis, merely changing the word "France" to "Russia;" it expressed a determination to resist the spirit of encroachment, of ambition and aggression, which then actuated the Government of France. He was highly gratified at the result of the present debate, on account of the speech it had drawn forth from the Treasury bench; though, undoubtedly, it would have been still more gratifying if they had had that speech from the noble Earl the First Lord of the Treasury—because it was impossible not to have noticed the discrepancy of tone which had been evident in the speeches of different members of the Government at different times on this important subject. Having said this much, he would not go back to the blue books, or again repeat his opinion further than to declare that nothing had been advanced in these discussions which proved that this war might not have been avoided. A new question had now sprung up of a very embarrassing nature, which reminded him of the manner in which the pretensions of Russia were checked on former occasions by the firm and decided attitude that had been then taken; he alluded to time claims of Russia upon Turkey in reference to political refugees. This had been a question in the Cabinet of Russia for many years, and he remembered that, in a debate which took place in their Lordships' House in 1850, the noble Earl now the First Lord of the Treasury sneered at the appearance of the British fleet at that time in the Levant, in consequence of this very ques- 1242 tion of the political refugees having been mooted by Russia. The agents of Russia knew well that the great Western Powers, France and England, would not stand idly by and permit the encroachment upon the independence, of the Sultan, which, in respect of that very point, Russia was attempting to make. True, our naval forces did not then arrive in Turkish waters until after that question was settled; but that was a case almost exactly similar to the present, and there would have been no occasion for a ship of war to approach the Turkish coast now if it had been clearly understood from the outset that, now as then, the Governments of France and England were prepared to act in concert to resist the aggressions of Russia. He would repeat that he had heard with pleasure the speech of his noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon) that night, because he hoped it would do much to counteract the bad effects which it was impossible to conceal from themselves had been produced in the East by the extraordinary position in which the combined fleets were placed. We read that the fleets were in the Bosphorus. But why? Because they were waiting for an explanation of their instructions. He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) had no right to ask what those instructions had been, or what they were to be. But he held that it was a most unfortunate thing that the Admirals should have been instructed to put forth a threat which they could not fulfil, and which turned out to be a mere idle boastful menace. Captain Drummond was sent in the frigate Retribution to Sebastopol, and well had he executed his commission. Would that courage and determination similar to that of Captain Drummond had been exhibited in the counsels of the allies of the Sultan a year ago. Captain Drummond was sent to Sebastopol to intimate that the combined fleets would not allow the Russian fleet any longer to assail the Turkish coasts or interfere with Turkish vessels in the Black Sea. Had we carried that threat into execution? He might be told that professional reasons had prevented its being done. No doubt they had; but it was a most unfortunate thing, indeed, that we should have held out that threat, and that the nations of the East, susceptible as they were known to be, should see our fleet retire, and the Russian ships come out from Sebastopol, and, at no great distance from the fleet, bombard the fort of Shefkatil, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. He 1243 hoped, therefore, that the speech of his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary would go forth to the East without delay, for every minute lost was of the greatest importance there. He believed that prompt action on the part of the combined squadrons would be worth more than an army of 20,000 men on the shores of the Caucasus for if once the fleet showed that England and France were really opposed to the pretensions of Russia, the whole population of that and the adjacent countries would join the standard of the Sultan. He would appeal to the noble Lord (Lord Beaumont) not to press his Resolutions to a division, on the ground that such a proceeding would be unusual and unwise after the satisfactory declarations of his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, that no apology was necessary on the part of the noble Lord (Lord Beaumont) for having again brought forward the present question; for his noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (the Earl of Clarendon) had a few nights ago expressed a strong wish, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, that the discussion upon this subject should be of the most ample kind; and he thought his noble Friend had had that wish granted, and that, by the granting of that wish, it was shown that the more the blue books had been "pottered over" and the question discussed, either in that or the other House of Parliament, the stronger and the more general had the opinion become of the wisdom, and sagacity, and ability with which his noble Friend had conducted these most difficult negotiations. The question had resolved itself into two accusations against the Government—the first, made with singular ability by a noble Earl (Lord Grey) was, that they had been too inclined to go to war, and that the reasons they had adopted for going to war were not good reasons. He need not argue now whether this opinion was well or in founded, for the utterance of this opinion had not met with any response either in the country or in their Lordships' House. As to the other charge, it was satisfactory to know that it was the very identical charge which every Opposition in almost every country in Europe concerned in this great question had made on their Governments—namely, that they had shown weakness and vacillation. Every post confirmed the unpopularity of Count Nesselrode for the course be had pursued towards England and 1244 France. In Turkey, the population of the capital actually broke into open insurrection, from discontent with their Government not taking a sufficiently energetic tone. The same accusations were made against the Government of France as against that of England; that Government being accused of being dragged in the wake of England for a cause which did not interest France; while in this country it was said that our only acts of vigour were the consequence of the spirited action of the French; so that they had the Oppositions bringing against two Governments, which, he believed, had in an unexampled manner acted together in perfect confidence for a disinterested object, the same accusations—accusations so incompatible that they could be mathematically shown to be impossible. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Clanricarde) had stated his case as if the Government were going to war without making any communication to Parliament upon the subject. But that was not the fact, and he held that it was a matter entirely for Government to decide when it was proper to make a declaration of war.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
had said nothing about a declaration of war. He had spoken merely of the expedition which had just been sent out.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
was not aware that it was customary for communications to be made to Parliament every time that troops were sent to the colonies, and the troops which had recently embarked had gone to Malta. As to the reflections which had to-night been made upon the combined squadrons employed in the Bosphorus, he was sure the noble Marquess would, upon consideration, perceive that he was not justified in the statement he had put forth. There had been no squabble respecting the Admirals refusing to do a service they were called upon to perform. No want of spirit had been displayed on their part. They were perfectly prepared to do what they were required to do; but, influenced by nautical considerations (and all professional authorities in the country agreed with them), they thought it better to take possession of the Black Sea, by moving war steamers from place to place, than by exposing the men-of-war to be knocked about, or keeping them in the very position where, to use the expression of one of the gallant officers employed, Russia most wished them to be for the next two or three months. With regard to the Motion before the House, he (Earl Granville) did not know what was 1245 meant by it. It was either a vote of want of confidence (and after the declarations that had been made by his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary the House would unanimously reject it), or else it was a vote of confidence; but the Government did not want a vote of confidence. He considered the course pursued to be very remarkable. If a vote of want of confidence had been carried, or nearly carried, against the Government, the necessity for such a Motion as the present might, perhaps, have then arisen; but the contrary was the case, for it was a most remarkable fact, that in neither House of Parliament had the slightest attempt been made to convey at real censure on the Government. And even if the noble Lord had meant it in a favourable sense, and the Government had accepted it, he was sure the effect would be bad, not only in this country, but throughout all Europe. There was one other point to which he wished to advert. His noble Friend who had introduced the discussion had talked of a discrepancy between the language which had been held by members of the Government in that House, who had strongly expressed their opinions as to the desirability of peace and the horrors of war, and the language which had been held by other members of the Government in the other House, who had made a patriotic appeal to the country to carry on hostilities in the spirit which became Englishmen. He (Earl Granville) as a very humble member of the Government, protested against such being the case. Even at the present time be felt no enthusiasm at the approach of war. He had remarked that the noble Marquess himself had carefully guarded himself against the possibility of its being supposed that he was anxious for hostilities, although his noble Friend, with whom the discussion had originated, had hardly spoken in so temperate a tone. But he (Earl Granville) believed that there was not one Member of that House who would not be prepared to express his conviction that war was a frightful calamity, that it was pregnant with evil and destructive of much good; but was it to be asserted on that account that the war, when once it was undertaken, ought not to be carried on with becoming vigour and energy. His noble Friend had quoted from a despatch of Count Pozzo di Borgo. He also (Earl Granville) had read that paper, and, speaking from memory, it seemed to him that that despatch only served to prove the wisdom of the course 1246 which had been pursued by Her Majesty's Government. But he remembered another despatch written by Count Pozzo di Borgo six months later, and to which he would for a moment direct their Lordships' attention. In that latter document the writer stated his reasons why England could not, in his opinion, go to war on the Eastern question. He said that England could never succeed in combining with her the other European Powers—that her internal state was such as would prevent her from going to war—that her commerce was in a most desperate condition—that a Roman Catholic insurrection was on the point of breaking out in Ireland—that the revenue of this country was diminishing from year to year—that we were suffering from a scarcity of food—that the people were clamorous for a repeal of the corn laws, which the aristocracy would not grant. Now these statements were, to a great extent, true in the year 1826, when they were made. But what was the state of England at present? In consequence of the legislative measures which had been passed of late years, and which had been supported by every member of Her Majesty's Government, and which were approved of by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Clanricarde), though not, he believed, by the noble Lord the Mover of the Resolutions (Lord Beaumont), the greatest prosperity, both as regards trade and commerce, was enjoyed by this country. Her commerce and her manufactures were flourishing; her revenue, instead of declining from quarter to quarter, was increasing from quarter to quarter, and the increase in the last quarter had amounted to 3,000,000l.; and instead of the people of Ireland being in a state of insurrection, the most gratifying accounts were received of their hurrying to the British standard in a manner most creditable to that brave nation. He agreed with the noble Lord near him (Lord Lyttelton) that for the sake of a permanent peace, and of a satisfactory settlement, not only of this, but of other questions, it was necessary that the whole force of this country should be put forward the moment it engaged in war. He hoped that policy would be pursued, and he, for one, could not have the slightest doubt of its success. There had been idle discussions carried on for the purpose of deciding whether the progress of science, as applied to war of late years, had been as great as the progress of science in the arts of peace. Whatever might be the judgment at which people might arrive 1247 upon that point, it was quite clear that nearly all those modern inventions which had been so useful in peace could be applied to the purposes of war; and he could not believe that this country, which possessed within itself so vast a quantity of the raw material which supplied the moving power of steam, which was almost unknown in the rest of Europe, and which had been so extensively employed in our navigation, in our inland locomotion, and in every species of machinery—he could not believe that this country could fail in the most effective and formidable application of modern scientific discoveries to the operations of war. He felt persuaded that the freedom of our commerce, and the great extension of our trade, in recent times had not unnerved the people of the United Kingdom. He believed, on the contrary, that the expansion of our commercial enterprise, and that perfect freedom of thought and action which we enjoyed, would indefinitely extend our material resources. All that Her Majesty's Government asked at present from their Lordships was, a continuance of that confidence which had been placed in them on a preceding evening. They felt that they had undertaken a great responsibility; but it was a responsibility from which they would not retreat. He thought he could answer for the noble Earl at the head of the Government, that supported as he would be by his colleagues, he would do his duty, while he took as his guiding rule of conduct that principle which has been laid down as the only proper basis of English policy by the illustrious Canning and by Sir James Macintosh—the principle of respect for the faith of treaties—respect for the independence of nations—respect for that territorial arrangement of Europe which was known as the balance of power—and though last, not least, respect for the honour and interest of England.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
explained that he did not mean to cast the slightest imputation on the gallant officers commanding the fleets in the Black Sea; he had merely said they were detained in the Bosphorus for explanation of their instructions. He knew, if they were told to go out and fight the Russians, they would make short work of them.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
would not argue the point. The Queen's Speech had informed the House that warlike preparations were being made, the present destination of the troops was known, and when the 1248 proper time arrived further information would be given.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
said, he believed that was the first time in the history of this country in which some communication had not been made to Parliament by the Ministry of such portentous proceedings as those in which Her Majesty's present Government had become engaged. He would, however, assure his noble Friend that he was not one who blamed the Government for their endeavours to procure peace, but rather because their endeavours to obtain it had, judging from the result, been unsuccessful and misdirected. He could not help thinking that if they had pursued a more vigorous policy at the commencement of these proceedings a different result might have been arrived at. Without entering into any examination of the blue books, he would remind their Lordships that some sort of insinuation had been now and then thrown out, either in that or the other House of Parliament, that at the commencement, when the Russian Ambassador appeared at Constantinople, there was not quite a sufficient degree of prudence exercised by the gentleman who filled the office of Chargé d'Affaires of this country at Constantinople. Prince Menchikoff arrived at Constantinople about the 7th of March. In consequence of his arrival, and, at the instance of the Grand Vizier, Colonel Rose sent to the fleets to go to Vourla Bay. The result of that being known at the Russian Legation produced a total change in the character and conduct of Prince Menchikoff, who before that had behaved in a most insulting manner to the Porte; but the change on the part of the Russian Legation was so marked as to produce an impression upon some of the Ministers of the Sultan that it was not their intention to act in any other than a friendly manner. What happened, however, when it became known that the order to the fleet had been countermanded? Then came back the insulting tone, the menace, and the frown. The charge to which he thought the Government was obnoxious was, that they had failed in energy, not at the termination, but at the commencement of the negotiations. With respect to the particular Motion before the House, he confessed that he entertained, to a certain degree, the objection which had been offered to it by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and upon that account he proposed to move an Amendment to the latter part of the Resolution. He agreed 1249 with the Government that it would not be expedient to point in detail to the particulars at which they might think it desirable to arrive; but he did not admit that they should conceal from Parliament what were the objects which they proposed to themselves in allowing the country to be drawn into a war. He wanted to know what we were going to war for, and he wished to warn the Government against their suffering to be infused into the minds of foreign nations suspicions of what the objects of England were. He was far more afraid of the wiles of Russia than of her power; and he wished it to be stated as the opinion of one individual member of their Lordships' House what the object ought to be for which we were going to war. The common law of Europe declared that no State should be allowed to encroach upon the territories of a neighbour. It was that common law which protected the weak from the strong; it was that common law which had been invaded by the Emperor of Russia, and it was that invasion of the common law of Europe which he thought it desirable that that House should mark with its reprobation. When they were about to engage in war, they should declare what was the cause which justified that war, and he should propose to substitute for the end of the Resolution words in which it would be impossible to suggest even the trace of any selfish motive upon the part of England. The Amendment which he proposed was as follows:—That it is, therefore, the opinion of the House that the time has arrived when immediate and effectual steps ought to be taken to vindicate the public law of Europe by repelling the unprovoked aggression of Russia upon the territory of the Sultan, and to obtain a durable and secure peace.The duty of England was a great one. He hoped that, single-handed, England could contend with all the nations of the earth. Her Navy ought to be able to cope with all the navies of the world, and, combined with France, she ought to be able to crush them all. But, when he saw that the other Powers were combined with England, and were acting with her with a cordiality which, perhaps, was not to have been expected, he could entertain no doubt about the conclusion of the war. It must be conducted, however, upon a great scale; they must make no little war; they must task the energies of this country to the utmost. It was the duty of the Government to make the people understand what was the character and what might be 1250 the duration of the war, and to teach them that they must not repine at the sacrifice of pleasure or of life, but that the greater the early sacrifice, the more sure would be the speedy and successful termination to the war.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
, in reply, said, that the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had, on this occasion, made a speech of quite an unusual character. Presuming him to speak the sentiments of the Cabinet, he (Lord Beaumont) had obtained from that Cabinet an assurance equivalent entirely to that which was proposed to be obtained by the Motion; for if he understood the noble Earl at all, he agreed that effectual means must be taken to repel the aggression of Russia—that the power of this country should be exerted to place the relations of the Sublime Porte and the rest of Europe on a foundation calculated to secure a durable peace. The noble Earl stated more. He stated that affairs were really advancing to that end, and that an agreement was now being entered into with the Porte and France which had for its object the supporting of the dignity and integrity of the Ottoman empire. He could not in such circumstances press his Motion, and he, therefore, begged leave to withdraw it.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
said, the Motion could not be withdrawn, if any one of their Lordships objected to the withdrawal.
§ After a short discussion,
§ Motion, by leave of the House, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned to Monday next.