§ THE EARL OF ABERDEEN,
in moving "for the production of a despatch addressed by the Earl of Aberdeen to Lord Heytesbury, His Majesty's Ambassador at St. Petersburg on the subject of the Treaty of Adrianople," said: MY Lords, I have taken a somewhat unusual course upon the present occasion, but perhaps your Lordships will not think it altogether unjustifiable or unreasonable that I should be desirous of availing myself of the earliest opportunity to remove misapprehensions which have taken place, and which have led in consequence to great misrepresentations of some observations which I addressed to your Lordships in the course of the last week. My Lords, I could wish that those who have expressed an opinion upon the observations in question would take the trouble to read the report of that speech. I have done so myself; and although I declare that I have nothing to retract or to contradict, nevertheless I readily admit that, from the imperfect manner in which I always address your Lordships, there may probably—there may undoubtedly—be reason for further explanation, and some further development of that which I intended to address to the House, with a view to bring folly and clearly before your Lordships the views and opinions which I entertain upon the subject to which my observations referred. My Lords, I feel that I can do so with great case, and, fortunately, in a very short time—otherwise, from the indisposition under which I suffer at this moment, I should not attempt to address your Lordships upon the present occasion. My Lords, the despatch for which I intend to move was first referred to in this House by the late Lord Grey, very shortly after he became Minister. It has been mentioned at other times, both here and in the House of Commons. It has also been moved for, but it has been hitherto withheld for various reasons. It was likewise referred to by 641 myself not very long ago, and I have now resolved to produce it, deeming this a fitting time; because I have read in print, and I understand there has proceeded from a very high authority in another place, the astounding declaration that I have recently claimed the honour of framing the Treaty of Adrianople. Now, my Lords, the production of the despatch in question will show you how far I was instrumental in framing that treaty, and what was my opinion, and the opinion of the Government whose organ I was on that occasion, and what were the opinions and feelings they entertained of that compact between the Porte and Russia. My Lords, it has been said—or, at all events, it has been inferred from what I said a few days ago—that I regarded the Treaty of Adrianople, if not with approbation, at least with indifference. Now, my Lords, the fact is, such was the impression produced by that treaty—such was the alarm excited by its conclusion—such were the supposed dangers which we dreaded to the existence of the Turkish empire—that the whole policy of the British Government was changed on a most material point in consequence of that treaty. I have already, I think, referred in this House to the fact, which your Lordships well know, that at the beginning and during the progress of the Greek revolution, Mr. Canning never contemplated the existence of Greece as an independent kingdom; neither did the Duke of Wellington ever contemplate the existence of Greece as an independent kingdom, but solely as a vassal State under the suzerainty of the Porte, somewhat similar to the provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia. When, however, the Treaty of Adrianople was signed, it appeared to me, and my noble Friend at the head of the Government at the time agreed with me, that the condition of the Turkish empire was so perilous in itself that it would be extremely unwise to create a State and to place it under the protection and suzerainty of an empire which itself was exposed to extreme peril, and whose existence was not to be counted on for any time with the least degree of certainty. Therefore we agreed to propose to our allies to convert that vassal State into an independent kingdom. Our allies agreed with us, and the Porte at last assented to our proposal. Hence the existence of Greece as an independent kingdom is due to the impressions produced upon us by the terms of the Treaty of Adrianople. My Lords, what I 642 have now said shows at least what were our impressions with regard to that treaty; and although they may be thought by some to have been erroneous, I can assure your Lordships that at the time they were unquestionably honest and sincere. I fully admit that the apprehensions which we then felt have turned out to be greatly exaggerated. However disastrous the Treaty of Adrianople, and however mischievous its conditions, nevertheless we have the experience of the last twenty-five years to assure us of the continued existence of the Turkish empire; and more than that, we have had proof of the vigour, of the energy, and of the courage and perseverance with which the troops of that empire have maintained the integrity and independence of their country. It is obvious, then, that we were under the most exaggerated alarm for the consequences of the Treaty of Adrianople. Now, my Lords, I do not mean to say that, although fortunately we were somewhat mistaken as to the amount of the danger to be apprehended from the Treaty of Adrianople—I do not mean to say, nor have I ever pretended, either the other night or at any other time, that that treaty was not, in the highest degree, dangerous and prejudicial to the interests of Europe. My noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) called it, I think, an "unfortunate" treaty. My Lords, that is not a word sufficiently strong to describe the character of that treaty. True, my Lords, I said the other night that, disastrous as the Treaty of Adrianople was, Russia had made no great territorial acquisitions in consequence of that treaty. I said so as the simple truth. I was induced to say so at the moment, and perhaps to dwell upon it, in consequence of a declaration, most exaggerated and most unfounded, that my noble and learned Friend had made, that the Russian empire had doubled its territory in Europe in the course of the last fifty years. That I hold to be completely incorrect, and with the recollection of the Treaty of Adrianople before me, I certainly did refer to it in proof that no such extension of territory had taken place as that asserted by my noble and learned Friend. But, my Lords, although I knew perfectly well, and indeed I think there can be no doubt of the fact, that no considerable extension of territory has taken place in consequence of that treaty, nevertheless, I was not at all the less aware of the importance of the acquisitions that 643 had actually been made by that treaty. I know perfectly well the importance of the acquisitions which Russia has made with respect to the navigation of the Danube; and I am equally sensible of the importance of the posts which she has acquired in Asia, which, although small in extent, are, from their character, of the highest political importance. My Lords, as the despatch for which I intend to move is long, and will be immediately upon the table of the House, I will not fatigue your Lordships by reading it in extenso; but I must trouble you with a single extract, to show that, although I dwelt strongly the other evening upon the limited extent of the territorial acquisitions made by Russia, I did not in the slightest degree mean by that to invalidate the political importance of the acquisitions actually made. The passage is expressed in these terms:—It may not be easy to accuse of want of generosity the conqueror who checks the unresisted progress of success. and who spares the defenceless capital of his enemy. Nevertheless, the treaty in question—certainly not in conformity with the expectations held out by preceding declarations and assurances—appears vitally to affect the interests, the strength, the dignity, the present safety, and future independence of the Ottoman empire. The modes of domination may be various, although all equally irresistible. The independence of a State may be overthrown, and its subjection effectually secured, without the presence of it hostile force or the permanent possession of its soil. Under the present treaty the territorial acquisitions of Russia are small, it must be admitted, in extent, although most important in their character. They are commanding positions, far more valuable than the possession of barren provinces and depopulated towns, and better calculated to rivet the fetters by which the Sultan is bound.[A noble Lord: What is the date?] The despatch is dated the 31st day of October, 1829. My Lords, the extract I have read shows that the small extent of the territorial acquisitions made by Russia did not blind me to the importance and character of what had been obtained; and, therefore, when the other night I dwelt upon the absence of any great territorial acquisitions, of course I did so with a view to contradict the fact asserted of my noble and learned Friend, and to state what may be termed a geographical truth, but without the slightest reference to the undoubted political importance of those political acquisitions which have actually been made by that treaty. My Lords, the conclusion of the Treaty of Adrianople was the commencement of a change of policy on the 644 part of Russia. It is highly probable that if the policy of the Empress Catherine had been pursued in the Treaty of Adrianople, great acquisitions of territory would have been obtained. But, as I have said, at that time Russia commenced a change of policy which has been carried on to the present day with ever-increasing vigour, and which accounts, to a certain extent, for the absence of those territorial acquisitions which, in other circumstances, would no doubt have been made. But this change of policy was not a change of intention—far from it. That change of policy consists in this—Russia, instead of pursuing the policy which was followed in the preceding century, has, since the conclusion of the Treaty of Adrianople, looked to the extension of her political influence rather than to the acquisition of territory. A very prudent and politic change it has been. We have all heard ofSatan, now grown wiser than of yore;and, perhaps, the line is not inapplicable to the Emperor of Russia, in having determined to pursue the same objects by different means—by means calculated not so greatly to alarm the European Powers. I believe this is the secret of all that has taken place in recent years. Take, for example, the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, concluded when a Russian army was in possession of Constantinople. There can be no doubt that if the former policy of the Empress Catherine had been followed upon that occasion, great territorial acquisitions would have been made, and could not have been resisted in the relative positions of the two Powers at the time; but in consequence, as I believe, of the change of policy commenced by the Treaty of Adrianople, the demands of Russia at the conclusion of the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, though they were unquestionably of the highest importance both to Russia and the Porte, did not assume the character of territorial aggrandisement, but privileges were exacted which were highly important to Russia to receive and highly injurious to the Porte to grant. So with the mission of Prince Menchikoff himself. Russia was in a position in which she might have made demands of the most pressing nature upon Turkey. She had some reason for adopting that course; but, instead of exacting anything like territorial indemnity, she at once pressed for an increase of privileges—for additional privileges—and if she had obtained those additional 645 privileges for her hierarchy, for her coreligionists in the Turkish empire—I have no doubt that the invasion of the Principalities would never have taken place, or would immediately have ceased on the Sultan complying with her demands. But, of course, we felt—Europe felt—that the independence of Turkey would be as much endangered by the cession of such rights and privileges as were claimed by Russia as it would have been had she made a positive demand for territorial indemnity; and therefore it was that the pretensions of Russia were resisted. Now, my Lords, I have been supposed to say also that I desired, or did not object to, a return to the Treaty of Adrianople, because I stated that if we could obtain a peace which should last for twenty-five years we should not do amiss. Nor should we; but when I said that, I never for a moment meant to convey the impression which it seems my words have produced. I never said a word to imply that I desired to return to the Treaty of Adrianople. What I said, or intended to say, was, that the Treaty of Adrianople had given us peace for twenty-five years, and that if by any treaty which the fortune of war might enable us to make we should secure peace for an equal length of time, I said then and I say now, we should not, considering the instability of all human affairs, do so very far amiss. Therefore, my Lords, I am quite at a loss to conceive upon what ground any one should dare to say, first, that I have claimed the honour of making the Treaty of Adrianople, and next, that I approved of or was indifferent to its conditions, and was ready to return to and renew it without reference to its character or to the present posture of affairs. I am at a loss to conceive how such assertions could have been made. I have explained to your Lordships how it came that I insisted the other evening upon the limited extent of the territorial acquisitions which Russia has made in consequence of the Treaty of Adrianople, arising, as I have said, from the change of Russian policy at that time. My statement upon that point is perfectly true; it is incontrovertible; but it was intended to be qualified in the manner which I have now stated to your Lordships. I feel, therefore, that I have nothing further to say of the Treaty of Adrianople. It has also been said that I recommended a return to the status quo, or, at least, that I would not object to it. Now, my Lords, this 646 statement surprises me more than anything else, because I thought I had taken special care to explain that point in my answer to the observations of my noble mid learned Friend. I stated that that might be the cause of some apparently ambiguous expressions used by Austria and by Prussia, as compared with the expressions used by ourselves, and I said that Austria and Prussia might be desirous to restore the status quo; but, at the same time I made the specific declaration that that was by no means applicable to us—that is, to England and France. You are aware, my Lords, that before the declaration of war the status quo was all that we hoped for—all that we desired—all that we attempted to obtain, and that was the condition which the Turkish Government signified its willingness to agree to. This was communicated to the Emperor of Russia; what is called the Vienna Note was framed upon the understanding come to by all the Four Powers, that the relations between Russia and Turkey should revert to the status quo. We thought that was quite as much as the Emperor of Russia could expect to be offered, and much more than he had any right to expect. But, my Lords, we proposed that note in the hope that we should be able to preserve the state of peace, and if the Emperor of Russia had listened to anything but the voice of those passions by which he was at that time moved, he would have been arrested from entering upon a course where all the evil passions that war engenders would be let loose. But the instant that war was declared, the state of the question was entirely altered. From that moment everything depended upon the war itself; we were left free to exercise our own judgment—to do that which we think will best suit our own interests and policy in framing the terms of peace. From that moment the status quo was entirely at an end for us. I also said, as to the terms of peace, that, however desirable, however necessary we might think certain terms to be, still it would be unwise in us now, in the present state of the war, to lay down any conditions of peace as those to which alone we will accede. These must depend upon the events of the war; and in the debate to which I have already referred I recollect I did say, that the conditions of peace would be very different if we found the Russians at Constantinople from what they would be if we found ourselves at St. Petersburg. Well, my Lords, within the 647 whole of that scope lies the variation from the status quo. How far we may deviate from the status quo no man can at this moment say, because that must depend upon events which are not within our power absolutely to control. But this we can say, that the independence and integrity of the Ottoman empire are undoubted conditions—they constitute the sine quâ non that must be secured, and secured effectually. But how that is to be done must again depend upon the progress of events, and the course of the negotiations which may take place at the moment—but that security must be taken—security for the independence and integrity of Turkey, so far as depends upon Russia, must clearly be the object from which we are determined not to depart. But again, I say, how that is to be obtained neither I nor any man in this House is able to say. We know what our object is—our main object at least—and of course by one mode or another we will obtain that without which peace is impossible. I think, also, exception has been taken to some expressions of mine, as if I expressed doubt or disbelief of any danger from Russian aggression. Now, I wish to be clearly understood that I have the greatest alarm as to Russian aggression against Turkey; and against that aggression in any shape—whether in the shape of influence, whether in the shape of conquest, or in any other mode—we are prepared to protect her. But, with respect to Russian aggression upon Europe, independent of her designs upon Turkey, I certainly did express no great alarm, because I feel no great alarm, and I am inclined to feel less and less every day. If Russia, indeed, could be supposed to be in possession of Constantinople—if she had made good her aggression upon Turkey, and were in possession of Constantinople, then, indeed, I should feel alarmed for Europe, because I think Russia would acquire then the means of becoming formidable and dangerous to Europe. Without that, my Lords, I cannot pretend to say that I feel any great alarm on this point. I consider France to be more powerful than Russia and Austria put together; and it is, therefore, impossible for me to look upon Russia with any great alarm out of her own frontiers, or in such a light as would induce me to think that it would be better to enter at Once into a state of war in order to repress dangers which I do not believe to exist. Danger from Russia against Europe appears to me mainly, if not entirely, to 648 depend upon her power in Turkey and in the East. If that power be checked—and it is to be hoped that we shall succeed in keeping her entirely free from exciting further alarm in the Turkish territories—then I cannot possibly think that there need be any very great alarm as to what she may do to Austria, or Prussia, or France, or England. This, however much it has been misunderstood, was really all that I meant to express as to my general incredulity of any danger from Russian aggression. I have now shown your Lordships what sort of aggression it is that I am afraid of, and what sort of aggression it is that I am not afraid of. I am not aware that there is any other part of the observations which I addressed to your Lordships the other night which requires further explanation. I believe I have already explained everything which, from being misunderstood at the time, appeared to be calculated to excite feelings of distrust in the Government. My Lords, I wish I could confine myself to this explanation, and to the development of those sentiments which I entertain, and which appeared to me necessary to be explained to the House. I could have wished certainly that I might have been spared the necessity of saying anything about the extraordinary and absurd imputations—the personal imputations—to which I have been exposed. I have no fear that your Lordships, who are accustomed to weigh the actions and the sentiments of public men, will fail to comprehend the motives from which I have acted; and the misrepresentation of them has been so ludicrously absurd that I feel—indiguant as I am—I feel it would not be worthy of the position which I now occupy—it would not be worthy of the memory of those with whom, I have acted—it would not be worthy of my own character, if I were to condescend to enter upon any justification of my personal motives on accusations so absurd and preposterous. My Lords, it is true that I have more than any other man struggled to preserve the state of peace for this country. I have done so because I thought it my duty to the people of this country—my duty to God and man—first to exhaust every possible means of preserving peace before I engaged the country in war, and my only regret is—though I trust your Lordships will acquit me on that point—my only regret is, lest I should not have done all, and lest in any way I should have lost some possible means of averting what I consider the greatest calamity that can 649 befall a country; for, however glorious any war may be, the calamities which accompany it are heavy enough greatly to outweigh that glory. I know it has been said if you love peace so much, you are unfit for war. My Lords, though peace is so dear to my feelings, still I am convinced of the necessity of this war. But how do I wish to make war? I wish to make war in order to obtain a peace; and I know well that the best and surest mode of making war in order speedily to obtain a peace is to make that war with the utmost vigour and determination. My noble Friends near me know well enough that, peaceable as I am, I have never shrunk—that, on the contrary, I have always been most ready to co-operate with my Colleagues—that I have given my most ready concurrence to the most active measures of hostility and warlike preparations. Nay, more, I believe I may say they will I admit that I have personally been more urgent than perhaps any other man in exhorting the speedy concentration and advance of the allied forces north of the Balkan, in support of the gallant army of Omar Pasha, and to extend a helping hand to Austria in order to enable her to carry out her professions, and to take an active part in the operations of the war. This, except for the warmth of the feelings under which I speak, I ought not, perhaps, to say; but it is the truth that, in the course we have taken, I have invariably urged the most decided course of action. My Lords, I have now no more to say. I wish to confine myself to this subject without entering upon other topics more or less connected with the general policy of the war, or with the events that led to it, or that may follow from it—I wish to remove misunderstandings which I feel to arise from perfectly erroneous interpretations of what I said in this House; and I now declare that, so far from my former endeavours to preserve peace disqualifying me from carrying on the war, I think, though of course I may be wrong in the particular means, I think we ought to have recourse to the most efficient, the most prompt, the most successful means of carrying it on. I maintain and assert, therefore, that my very love of peace induces me, now that we have entered upon this war, which I unquestionably believe to be a perfectly just war, to use—so long as I have anything to do with the Government—those means best calculated to bring it to an advantageous conclusion, and to secure a safe and honourable peace.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for Copy of a Despatch addressed by The Earl of Aberdeen to Lord Heytesbury, His Majesty's Ambassador at St. Petersburg, on the Subject of the Treaty of Adrianople.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
said, he was glad that the noble Earl had, upon reflection, thought it right and necessary to retract, as well as to explain, a great portion of the speech which he had made the other night, partly in answer to that luminous, and in some respects marvellous, speech delivered by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst), for the advantage of this country and of Europe, and for which Europe and this country would feel grateful, but partly also in answer to the speech of the noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon) the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Although, however, he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) was happy that the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) had thought it necessary to retract—[The Earl of ABERDEEN: No!]—he thought the noble Earl did retract or explain away great portions of his speech on the former occasion—the question which the noble Earl had now brought before their Lordships was one of infinitely wider scope than the question of the precise terms or the immediate effects of the Treaty of Adrianople. He understood the noble Earl, by his Motion, and still more by his speech, to state to the House not merely his views on the present war, but his past and permanent foreign policy in general. The noble Earl had gone back to the year 1829, and had more than once stated that he had been consistent—in which he was correct—and he had done this for the purpose of laying before their Lordships the grounds on which he thought himself entitled to claim the confidence of Parliament and the country in conducting this war to a termination, and negotiating the peace which may follow it. This was a wide question which the noble Earl had mooted, and one which undoubtedly he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) would not have mooted himself; but as it was mooted, he would not shrink from it—and while he admitted to the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) that, throughout his public life, he had acted with perfect consistency, he claimed credit to himself also for similar consistency—because, from the year 1829, and even earlier, he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) had differed from the noble Earl on almost every principle that had actuated his foreign policy; he thought 651 the sentiments and opinions which had dictated that policy had been the principal causes of the present war, and, judging from the experience of past years, unfitted the noble Earl for being the chief adviser of Her Majesty in conducting it. Before going into that subject he must say one word of the immediate Motion before the House, and something of the apparent disrespect with which the noble Earl had treated Parliament in regard to the very despatch he was now about to produce. The noble Earl stated that he had years ago desired its production—that the late Earl Grey and the late Lord Melbourne had considered it so full of peril that it was not produced. More lately, it had been adverted to and quoted by the noble Earl himself; and then, when an hon. Member of the other House, very properly thinking that any public document from which a Minister of the Crown quoted ought to be produced, moved for its production, in February last, the answer of Lord John Russell to that Motion was, that he could not say whether it would he produced without consultation with the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen. That consultation was held, and the result was announced—that the despatch could not be produced. And yet now, after all, the noble Earl, for his own vindication and personal convenience—perhaps it was necessary for his own vindication, but m any case from purely personal motives—produced this very despatch, which had so often and so long been refused to the reiterated requests of Members of both Houses of Parliament. And do not let him be told that this wonderful document, which had been so much talked of, and which was now about to be submitted to profane eyes do not let it be said that the contents were of so inflammatory a character that, though it might be produced now that war was declared, it could not with safety have been produced in February last, when war had not been declared—because the noble Earl had the other night, smarting under the effect of that extraordinary speech of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst), taunted the noble and learned Lord by saying that his philippic against Russia—as the noble Earl called it—might have been of some service a few months ago to in flame the feelings of the country to raise the nation in preparation for war, but that now, when war was going on, it was unsuited to the occasion; because, if that were true with regard to the noble and learned Lord's 652 observations, it would be equally true with regard to the production of this despatch. It was clear, therefore, that this could not be the reason why the despatch in question had not been produced; and it was plain that, if it could be produced now, it could have been, and it ought to have been, produced last February. He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) would now advert to that reference which the noble Earl had made to the period of 1829. The noble Earl had, on assuming the position which he now occupied, made a general statement of his views, and was reported to have declared that the main principles of the foreign policy of this country had not varied for thirty years past—that the execution of those principles might, indeed, have varied according to the individual to whom that execution had been intrusted, but that the main principles of our policy had not in themselves varied. He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) differed from the noble Earl in that statement, and considered that the differences in our foreign policy during that period had been fundamental and differences of principle. During the last thirty years contending principles had been in conflict over the Continent of Europe, and during that time the different Governments mid different Ministers of England had varied their policy, and directed the affairs of this country, very much according to the views they had themselves taken of those principles; and he thought that from the first, from 1829, when the noble Earl was at the head of Foreign Affairs, down to 1846, when the noble Earl was again in the same position, and now in his present position, the noble Earl had been the consistent, zealous, and earliest supporter, in every quarter, of arbitrary Government. [The Earl of ABERDEEN: Hear, hear!] The noble Earl, he repeated, had been the supporter of all the views of the arbitrary Powers of Europe, and at all times the advocate and adherent of the Emperor of Russia. [The Earl of ABERDEEN: Hear, hear!] Yes; the noble Earl had on every possible occasion befriended those arbitrary Powers, and had opposed, upon every possible occasion, the progress and recognition of constitutional reforms in the countries with which he had to deal. [The Earl of ABERDEEN: No!] The noble Earl cried, No; therefore he must give the noble Earl some reasons for the statements which he made. He would refer back to the period of the Treaty of Adrianople. The noble Earl 653 had told their Lordships that he had regarded that treaty as disastrous, that he had written a despatch to our Ambassador at Constantinople about it; but he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) did not want to know what the noble Earl had written to St. Petersburg in December about a treaty which had been signed in September; but what he did want the noble Earl to tell them was, what despatch the noble Earl had written to our Ambassador at St. Petersburg about it, before the treaty was signed. Their Lordships wished to hear what steps the noble Earl had taken for the purpose of preventing the treaty from being signed. The noble Earl had stated, on a former occasion, that the Russian Emperor, at that period, was in the position of a conqueror—virtually master of the country, and rapidly advancing on Constantinople, and that if he had persevered he might have overturned the Government of Turkey. Now, if the noble Earl did not know the real state of the case at the time the treaty was signed, which, if proper care had been taken, he might have known, yet, surely, he ought to have known in December of that year, when he wrote that despatch (and most assuredly he ought to know now), that, although the Russian army did arrive at Adrianople as conquerors, the Russian general commanding there had not above 15,000 men left, of whom not above 8,000 were effective, the rest having become hors de combat through fatigue, disease, or wounds, while the Turkish general was at no great distance with an army of 25,000 Albanese; so that if the Turks had been furnished with the least information as to the true state of affairs that disastrous treaty would never have been signed. If the noble Earl, as the Foreign Minister of this country, had at that time only held up his finger, the treaty would not have been concluded. But what was the course the noble Earl pursued? The Russian general allowed but a short time to the Turkish general to consider whether he would sign the treaty, well knowing that if there were a longer delay his own position would be discovered; he, therefore, did not give beyond five or six days, and when the treaty was taken to Constantinople the Minister of Turkey summoned to his councils the Ambassadors of Austria, Prussia, and England, and asked their advice; and what was the advice tendered by the English Ambassador? It was, to sign the treaty—that 654 treaty which the noble Earl now said he knew at the time was so disastrous. Who was our Ambassador at that time? The late lamented and able diplomatist Sir Robert Gordon (who had shortly before, in a rather summary manner, superseded Sir Stratford Canning)—one who doubtless was fully cognisant of the sentiments of his Government and especially of the noble Earl on the subject, at the time he offered to the Turkish Government that advice to sign the Treaty of Adrianople, upon which the noble Earl had subsequently written that despatch. When, then, the noble Earl referred to the period of the Treaty of Adrianople as affording proofs of what his feelings were upon Russian aggression, let the noble Earl state what steps he took to prevent the treaty from being signed—and not talk about a despatch written after it was concluded. The noble Earl spoke of the despatch as characterised by so much asperity, forsooth! but it was plain that that despatch had done the noble Earl no harm in the eyes of the Emperor of Russia, for the noble Earl must not think that the country had forgotten the terms of fulsome flattery and affectionate friendship which the Emperor had addressed to him on his assuming office, or those confidential communications of former years, then referred to, and which showed that the Emperor, far from regarding the noble Earl as an enemy, regarded him as his fervent and most reliable friend. The noble Earl had told their Lordships what had been the effect of the Treaty of Adrianople on the policy of the British Government at that time, and that whereas, before the treaty they had considered that Greece should continue a portion of time Turkish empire, when the treaty was signed, and they found the power of Turkey in so much peril, they concurred in detaching Greece from Turkey. Thus, because time treaty was so "disastrous," on that account Turkey was to lose Greece, which the Government of the noble Earl had previously meant to leave to her. Such was the noble Earl's way of reasoning as to Turkey; such his strange mode of settling the balance of power which had been so disturbed by that "disastrous" treaty—though how the removing of Greece from Turkey was likely to strengthen and support Turkey he confessed it was past his comprehension to understand. The noble Earl had, indeed, said that we had enjoyed twenty-five years of peace in consequence 655 of the treaty—he presumed the noble Earl meant, for he could only mean, peace between Russia and Turkey. Peace! What was it the noble Earl—what was it that he a Minister of England—considered "peace?" Was it a state of things which a British Minister could describe as "peace," when all knew the cabals, intrigues, encroachments, and even military invasions of Turkish territory, which had repeatedly taken place during those twenty-five years on the part of Russia? Was that the noble Earl's notion of a peaceable neighbour? What could be the notion of the duty of the Emperor of Russia towards Turkey in the mind of a Minister who could describe those twenty-five years as years of peace, although ten years ago there had been made to him, and as soon as he had assumed the Government of this country there had been repeated to him, a proposition for considering the partition of that country towards which he now told them that Russia was a peaceable and well-conducted neighbour? Was that the morality the noble Earl would fain see imitated by powerful neighbours towards weaker Powers? Yet the noble Earl had actually called the Emperor of Russia a "peaceable" and "serviceable" ally of Turkey, that Emperor who had twice in ten years made proposals to the noble Earl himself for a partition and appropriation of her territories. The noble Earl had ironically cheered the character which he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) had ascribed to the general foreign policy of the noble Earl during the last twenty or thirty years. But if they reverted with the noble Earl to his despatch for 1829, it would be found that there were other great questions which at that time had agitated Europe and bad been discussed in the Parliament of this country. At that time there was a contest going on in Portugal, which had always been described to be a contest essentially of opinion. Dom Miguel was at that period the chief under whom arbitrary rule and despotism were contended for in the Spanish peninsula, while Donna Maria, the legitimate heiress to the throne, was in favour of a constitutional Government. What was then the conduct of the noble Earl? He was the mainstay of Dom Miguel, and, if he had not been in power at that time, he defied any man to say that Dom Miguel would have ever acceded to the throne, which he had usurped for a short time, of Portugal. Perhaps the noble Earl would say, that 656 he had not recognised Dom Miguel. True, he had not, but at the same time he prevented the sailing of an expedition which would have dethroned the usurper, and his refusal to recognise him proceeded from no dislike to his arbitrary principles, but because he would not comply with some special conditions which the noble Earl attached to his recognition. He had, however, given to Dom Miguel and the Absolutists in Portugal all the support which he dared and was able to give, and a great deal more than was approved by the Parliament or the country of Great Britain. But was that all? How did matters stand a little later in Spain? Was not the noble Earl continually finding fault with what was done there for the support of constitutional institutions? He was continually in the habit of criticising the Quadruple Alliance, by means of which a constitutional Government was established in Spain, and he was notoriously attached to the cause of Don Carlos. [Dissent.] The noble Earl shook his head, but he would refer him to still another matter. What did he say to the case of Belgium? After the French Revolution, the Belgians, who were suffering, not only from national feelings, but from very grievous results of misgovernment, revolted; the noble Earl, who was then in office, talked of it as a revolt, and openly expressed his wish that the authority of the King of Holland might be re-established. He did not blame the noble Earl for holding that language when the revolt was in progress; but what did he say in 1832, after the separation of the two countries had been completed? He then told the House that nothing surprised him as a cause of rebellion in any country, but that the Belgian revolution was the most senseless and unintelligible of any recorded in history. Those were his sentiments in 1832, and that was all the sympathy he manifested towards a gallant people, who had thrown off a yoke which they were unable to bear, and who were then engaged in laying the foundations of a constitutional Government, which had been the means since of showing the Continent of Europe how much loyalty and liberty were compatible with each other, and how the arts and industry flourished best under a constitutional form of government. He must say he had been astonished to hear the noble Earl, on a former occasion, taunt the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) with having received the compliments of Prince Schwarzenberg on his accession to 657 office. There was no one of their Lordships who could mistake for a moment what those compliments meant. The noble Earl opposite had received them because he had been thrown by the vicissitudes of party into the same Cabinet and Government as the noble Earl, of whom he was consequently at one time a supporter and an abettor, and whose policy it was supposed he would carry out and continue. The noble Earl took credit to himself for being the author of the entente cordiale with France. But as the noble Earl had carried them back to 1829, it was not to be forgotten that in that year Prince Polignac had left this country for Paris to become the Minister of France. It was perfectly notorious that the noble Earl long had wished Prince Polignac to be the French Minister. He was Minister for a few months, and they all knew the catastrophe which followed. The noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) had laboured in vain to do away with the effect which his speech of the other evening had produced both in this country and on the Continent. The noble Earl, perhaps, was hardly aware of the entire effect it had produced abroad. It was not merely a question of whether it contained this or that particular phrase or expression; the entire performance, its general effect and purport, must be regarded as it issued from the noble Earl's lips. Whose speech was it that the noble Earl really and virtually rose to answer? He rose evidently to reply to the speech of the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who had quite adopted the reasoning and conclusions of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst); and it was in despair at this that the noble Earl the First Minister of the Crown, rose, and—"out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh"—had given vent to his own sentiments in the speech which had excited such universal astonishment and indignation that the noble Earl now came down to the House to endeavour to explain it away and mitigate its effect. It was in his (the Marquess of Clanricarde's) power to produce a most impartial witness as to the effect of the speech. L' Indépendance Belge was a paper which more than any other, perhaps, circulated on the Continent. Let it be remembered that the noble Earl had attempted to justify the vacillation, delay, and hesitation which have characterised the whole of our proceedings in regard to Russia, from a desire to carry with him the Go- 658 vernments of Europe, and especially of Germany. Well, here was a paper published on the borders of Germany, and circulating most widely in that country. How did it sum up the substance and the scope of the noble Earl's speech the other night? The gentleman who reported for it endeavoured to exercise a very impartial judgment, and in his telegraphic despatch, which, of course, gave a very few lines to each speech, the speeches, including that of the noble Earl, were thus reported—Londres, Mardi.Dans la séance de la Chambre des Lords de la unit derniére, Lord Lyndhurst a appelé Pattention du Gouvernement et de la Chambre sur le Memorandum relatif à la question d'Orient transmis par les tours de Vienne et de Berlin à leurs envoyés respectifs près de la Diéte Germanique.Les Lords Lyndhurst et Clarendon ont déclaré qu'il fallait que la Russie fournît des garanties matérielles centre le retour des notes d'agression qui ont provoqué la situation actuelle.Lord Derby a soutenu qu'il fallait que la, Russie fût contrainte à restituer les territoires dont elle s'est rendue maîtresse au détriment des nations voisines. Lord Aberdeen a essayé de justifier la conduite de la Russie, et plaidé la cause de la, paix.That was a just, though terse, summary of the speech of the noble Earl, and that was the view that was entertained of it over the whole Continent. He would appeal to their Lordships whether (even assuming that these were not the sentiments of the Cabinet, but only of the noble Earl) it was well that such opinions should be put forth by the First Minister of this country at such a period. "The noble Earl justified the conduct of the Emperor of Russia, and pleaded the cause of peace!" He thought that, for a short summary, that gave fairly the tenor of the noble Earl's speech, for he thought that the noble Earl had justified the Emperor in some of his acts, and had pleaded very strongly in favour of peace; but was that a wise speech for an English Minister to make at a time when we were engaged in a struggle which, whether or not it were to be speedily closed, as the noble Earl hoped, was one which must call on the people of this country to make great and generous sacrifices for its support. So far from directly or indirectly "pleading the cause of peace" at such a crisis, the language of the Minister of the Crown ought to have been of a totally opposite character. He ought to have used such language as would have stimulated the zeal and the exertion of every one engaged in the service of the country, from the admiral and general down to the humblest 659 private soldier, seaman, or drummer-boy, by the conviction, that the war they were engaged in, and in which they were exposing their lives and enduring all sorts of hardships, was absolutely necessary; that it was a war against unjust aggression, and that it was carried on only because the interests of the country and of Europe imperatively demanded it. The noble Earl said that he had been the most of all urgent in hurrying forward the preparations for the war; that was a question between the noble Earl and his Colleagues, although he had certainly come to a very different conclusion, and he wished the noble Earl, who had thought it necessary to correct other misapprehensions, had taken an earlier opportunity of correcting misapprehensions which were entertained throughout the country and the Continent with regard to his sentiments upon the war; because he could state that to his knowledge it was believed throughout Germany, and he believed it had gone still further, that from first to last the noble Earl had not hesitated to say repeatedly, that such was his recollection of the horrors of war, that, come what might, to war he would be no party. This now turned out to be a misapprehension, for the noble Earl now told them that he was engaged at the time he was supposed to have such feelings in hastening the preparations of war. Their Lordships were now in possession of a good deal more in formation than when this subject was discussed at the beginning of the Session. The information they now had from Russia was more full and accurate than at that time, and they knew more now of what was passing in that country, as many persons who had been residing there had since been obliged to return to England. They knew now what had been going on in the Russian capital in the month of December last, and also what was taking place in other considerable towns of that empire. He could state it as a fact, that he knew the plan of the campaign, which had been attempted to be executed, had been drawn up by the highest military authorities in Russia—that it had been communicated to the heads of the different military corps in the month of December last. He contended that it was impossible that this Government could not have had information of the fact, that the plan was not for the occupation or retention of the Principalities alone, but it was one for crossing the Danube, for the siege of Silistria, for the 660 establishment of magazines on the opposite bank, for the masking of Schumla, and proceeding with the army by the lower road, with every contingency provided for during the march, to the other side of the Balkans. This complete plan had been discussed in military circles at St. Petersburg, and the other towns of the empire, in the month of December last. It was impossible that the Government of this country could not have been aware of the fact at least in the course of the month of January. More than that, the common talk in military circles was of what would be done by the other foreign Powers; it had even been discussed what should be done in the event of 30,000 or 40,000 English and French troops being met at or behind the Balkans;—and this contingency was always held to be impossible and incredible, in consequence of the language which had been held by the English Government, so that it never entered into the calculation or hypothesis of the Russian authorities. If the British Government was ignorant of these things, they were extremely ill-informed by their agents; and if they were informed of them, was it right or proper that the noble Earl should have come to that House in the month February last and talked of peace, and held out hopes of a pacific settlement, while he neglected to give orders for those preparations which he should have given in the month of January or February? But when were our preparations begun? That was a question that had not been yet ascertained; and of course he could not be supposed to have access to any official information on the subject. At the same time things would creep out, because the subordinate officials of the Government would not labour hard without taking to themselves the benefit of some little credit for their exertions—and God knew they had little else to get—in the service of the Government. He had reason to believe, although he might be wrong, that no instructions were given by the Cabinet to the Minister of War until quite the end of February, if not the beginning of March. When the noble Earl took credit for being the most urgent to commence preparations for war, he would tell him that these preparations should have been made in November or December last; and instead of taking credit for finishing off some gunboats in an incredibly small number of days or weeks, he should have had the fleets in the Baltic 661 and the Black Sea supplied with them long previously, and if proper measures had been taken in time their armies would have been transported at half the cost, and suitable preparations would have been made to receive them on their landing. Looking at the general colour of affairs, it was impossible not to see that upon this subject there were very great differences and variations in the statements made. The language of the noble Earl the other night was not only inconsistent with that of the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, but last year, and in the early part of the present year, the whole tone of the noble Earl was not that taken by the Members of the Government in another place; and he would say that this had shaken the confidence of the country very much in the measures that had been taken. He must also mention what he thought was a matter, although of a personal nature, yet of the very greatest importance. The Government had found it necessary to strengthen its position by a new arrangement of the Cabinet; and the noble Duke who who had previously held the seals of War and the Colonies recommended that his department should be divided and the efficiency of the administration thereby increased. Now, at least for the personal composition of the Cabinet the head of the Cabinet was responsible. He was sure the noble Duke who filled the situation of War Minister would feel that he was not guilty of the slightest personal disrespect in the observations he was about to make, and he had no doubt that in the discharge of the duties of his present office the noble Duke would exhibit the same powers and application, the same impartial uprightness, and the same sober and temperate judgment, which he had shown in other situations; but he must say that on such an occasion as that in which the nation was now placed, and upon which the noble Earl at the head of the Government had lately to act, no party favour, no favour to any section of a party, no personal favour to any man or set of men, ought to have weighed in the decision. He did not say that favour had weighed in the decision, but he did say that there was one man, and one man only, in this country, whom the voice of all parties in the country, and he believed all classes, pointed out as the proper and fitting man to be selected, and the best Minister of War to be found on either side of either House—he need hardly say 662 he meant Lord Palmerston—a nobleman to whom a rare conjunction of circumstances had granted a long experience in military administration, and at the same time of great knowledge of foreign affairs—aye, and even of foreign armies—beyond any man in this country. What his talent, and his power, and his vigour in the administration of different departments had been, he need not say; but he did say that when Lord Palmerston was retained at the Home Office—and the country had no reason to believe that any proposition had been made to him to undertake the post for which the whole country thought him the fittest—there was a neglect on the part of the Government of an opportunity for adding greatly to the strength and efficiency of the Cabinet and of organising the resources of the country. The Parliamentary position of the Government was one not only unprecedented, but one which he was sure must suggest the most serious reflections—he might say the gravest apprehensions—in the mind of any man who understood anything about the conduct of public affairs in this country and the working of our Constitution. Let their Lordships consider for a moment what that position was. The present House of Commons was elected about two years ago, in the midst of the heat of a party contest. He thought, in round numbers, the decidedly Conservative party returned to that Parliament way something a little short of 300 Members. The Liberal party, which had previously held office, returned about the same number. Those who were considered the followers of the late Sir Robert Peel amounted to between twenty and thirty. There were, besides, a certain number of Members who might be termed neutral. The result was that, by a combination of forces, the Conservative Government was overthrown, and the new Administration took office with the support of 320 or 330 Members; but there had been in the ranks of the supporters of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) a very considerable number of persons who, although they might prefer his Government to any other, were ready to support any Government sufficiently Conservative to ensure the maintenance of the great institutions of the country, and who, therefore, were not indisposed to support the present Administration. Last year, therefore, the Government might be considered as at the head of a party of about 400 Members. But what was the state of things now? 663 They had seen that the Government had been unable to carry almost any one important measure this Session. That was a very serious consideration, and he would ask to what was that owing? Let him not be told that it was owing to the Reform Bill, and to the fact that there were no longer close boroughs in existence, which would enable a Minister to count his adherents beforehand. Since the passing of the Reform Bill there had been Governments of different parties and of different complexions, which had been as well able as any before the Reform Bill to exercise sufficient influence to enable them to carry on the business of the Crown in Parliament; and if the assertion were true as to the difficulty of managing a reformed Parliament, he would ask, how could any Minister, while he made such an excuse, if it were one, or such an assertion—how could any Minister make that assertion, and at the same time propose a further Reform Bill? He voted for the Reform Bill, and he maintained that it had had no such effect as to prevent the servants of the Crown from possessing a due influence in Parliament for the purpose of carrying such measures as the exigency of the time and the expediency of the case required. They could not look at the constitution of the House of Commons as affording any clue to this. Was the reason for this state of things to be found in the want of ability in the Members of the Government who sat in the other House? He need hardly say anything with regard to the reputation, the ability, and character of Lord John Russell, a statesman respected by all men, followed by many, than whom no one possessed greater practical Parliamentary tact and experience. Was he unaided upon the bench on which he sat? He had upon the one side Lord Palmerston, indisputably the most popular man with the country in either House of Parliament, and on the other side Mr. Gladstone, a most accomplished debater, undoubtedly the most acute logician in either House, whose power of reasoning had almost persuaded them the other day that black was white. The Government consisted of a combination of men eminent for administrative capacity, who were at the head of a great party, and who, besides that party, were supported by a great number of other, although, perhaps, less attached friends. How came it, then, that they were in the predicament he had described—for no one 664 could deny that they had been defeated day after day, and obliged to withdraw measures they had proposed, so that, practically, the servants of the Crown could not carry on the business which they thought it desirable to carry. He attributed it fairly to the First Lord of the Treasury. The noble Earl had invited that discussion, and he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) would not shrink from it. He thought it lied arisen because neither the Houses of Parliament nor the country had confidence in the noble Earl in the exigency and emergency in which they were at present placed. It was his firm belief that the country did not think that his councils had been salutary, either in averting war or in preparing to meet it in a manner becoming this country. The noble Earl said, and he believed truly, because in all he had said he made no attack upon his private character, and he hoped he had not said one word inconsistent with the perfect and sincere personal respect which he felt for him—the noble Earl had stated that he had been actuated now and always by a love of peace, and that his endeavours had been directed to preserve peace. He, however, must say that his endeavours were mal-directed for peace. He did not doubt the sincerity by which he had been impelled to make those efforts, but he thought that, as in former times, the noble Earl's connection with and influence in our Government had conduced to disorders and revolutions and troubles in Europe, so his counsels were at the present time the cause of our now being engaged in war. He had never altered the opinion he had expressed when these unhappy transactions were first debated, and he would say that if a proper and clear—he had almost said an honest—tone had been taken by the Government twelve or fifteen months ago, there never would have been a war. Every day proved that. How did the noble Earl talk about Turkey in former times? He spoke about the power of Russia in such a manner that lie evidently thought it a hopeless case to defend Turkey, and that, as one noble Earl had said in that House, that country ought to be left to its fate. Having, then, the misfortune to attribute the present state of the Government, and the war, and the enormous and loose expenditure that had been entailed upon the country by its not having made preparations in time, to the noble Earl, he did not hesitate to say that he thought it was not to the advantage of the country 665 that he should continue to be the Minister, either to direct the war or to superintend the negotiations for peace, when peace might be attainable, of which he feared at present there was no great prospect. No doubt he might be told that, holding this opinion, it might be expected that he should have moved an Address to the Crown, or move directly for a vote of want of confidence in the noble Earl. That was usually the answer of Ministers when their conduct was criticised. He quite agreed that in this case it was an objection very difficult for him to answer. He knew he ought to make that Motion, and he would do so if he could see his way clearly afterwards; but in the humble position in which he stood he did not think it would be wise or advantageous in him to make such a Motion. Therefore, he had not expressed before what he had expressed to-night, but he had expressed his opinions to-night, because he thought he was called upon by the deliberate notice given by the noble Earl that he would revert to the year 1829, that he would explain his views with respect to the speech ho had made with respect to the war, and, what was more important, with respect to the peace which might possibly be negotiated. Under these circumstances he had thought it his duty not to be so uncandid—not to be so timid—not to be so wanting in his duty, as to hesitate to say that he conscientiously believed that it was not for the advantage of this country that the noble Earl who claimed their confidence should continue to be the chief adviser of the British Crown.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
said, he must express his admiration of the moral courage of the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen), who, when he found that his speech was likely to be injurious to the cause in hand, took the first opportunity of explaining—though some persons might think it a humiliating position for a Prime Minister to explain—the language he had used, going out of his way to create the opportunity for so doing. He, therefore, in his remarks should avoid everything which partook of a personal character. But he was bound to say, though he considered the amended speech much better than the original, and though he confessed it had removed many painful impressions which the first speech had created, yet still he felt, from his recollection of certain passages in that speech connected with other events which had taken place elsewhere, 666 that altogether a more satisfactory answer might have been given to what had been said on the subject out of doors. The reason for saying that was, that in the course of his observations the noble Earl made some remarks which conveyed to him the impression that what was stated and repeated out of doors had some truth in it. He seldom placed much reliance on what was stated in the public press, and especially in the paper to which he was about to allude, nor should he have thought of alluding to it if the noble Earl had not himself given some importance to that paper by making quotations from it on a former occasion. The journal in question was supposed to represent the opinions, not of the noble Earl at the head of the Government, but of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby). In this paper—the Press—he found the following statement—His Highness Prince Metternich, at the special and personal request of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Austria, has embodied in a State paper his view of the arrangements which, in the present condition of affairs, may conduce to 'a just and honourable peace.' We have reason to believe that these views have been communicated, although not officially, to the Earl of Aberdeen; and that little doubt prevails, from previous communications that have taken place, that they will be substantially adopted by the English Minister.Connecting that paragraph with other articles of intelligence which he had seen in various journals, the general result seemed to have some bearing upon a passage in the speech which the noble Earl at the head of the Government made on Monday last. The noble Earl then said that the Court of Vienna was at present advised by Prince Metternich. Coupling all these circumstances together, he could not help thinking that some communication—perhaps of a non-official character—of the terms upon which, in the opinion of Austria, Russia would now be disposed to treat for peace, had been made to our Government. If there was any ground for the assertion in this paper, and if the noble Earl knew, as he stated, Prince Metternich was guiding the councils of Austria, he then considered there was serious cause for alarm that this country might be already compromised by some act of its Minister, and that, however great the defeat sustained by Russia at the hands of the Turks, the peace to which they would have to look forward would not be of that character which this country was entitled to expect. He hoped, before the debate closed, the noble Earl would give some 667 further explanation as to that passage in his speech. With regard to what the noble Earl had said in respect to the Treaty of Adrianople and the history of that period, he owned, when he heard the statement of the noble Earl the other night, he was astonished at what he believed to be the noble Earl's misapprehension of the position of the parties at the time, and what appeared to him to be an incorrect statement of facts. He certainly did understand the noble Earl to say that the Treaty of Adrianople gave no territorial accession to Russia, or at least none greater than she was entitled under the circumstances to demand. With regard to territorial accession, they knew that in Europe Russia obtained a most important, though not very extensive, addition by the Treaty of Adrianople; but in Asia, but for that accession of territory, the whole of Georgia and Azerbijan would have been in the hands of the Turks. Russia obtained the greater part of an important pashalic by the possession of a fortress which commanded the high road, and was the key and passage to that portion of the Russian States; and it was only in consequence of the impregnable character of that fortress that, early in the commencement of the present war, the Turks did not take possession of Turks. Russia obtained also command of the Black Sea, and was able to establish stations by which to maintain troops, and to carry on a bloody struggle the independent inhabitants of Circassia. The noble Earl might lightly estimate those advantages, but he was surprised that, under the circumstances in which the facts really stood, he should consider Russia made no better terms than in her position she was entitled to expect, because the noble Earl must know, upon various Russian authorities, that at the moment the Treaty of Adrianople peace was everything to Russia, that a fortnight's delay would not have left a single Russian alive south of the Balkan, and that the campaign must then have been re-commenced. He thought opinions coming from the noble Earl which tended to lower the character of the Turks, and at the same time to raise the character of the Russians for moderation and honourable conduct in moments of triumph, were calculated to injure the cause of peace. The impression made upon the country by the noble Earl's former speech was must unfortunate; but he trusted the declarations of the noble Earl that even- 668 ing would do away these unfavourable impressions, and that the noble Earl, having adopted a new and improved course, would pursue it with as much warmth as he had apparently pursued the previous one. He would refrain from any remarks on the personal conduct of the noble Earl, as he rose merely to draw his attention to a point upon which he hoped to hear some explanation.
§ THE EARL OF ABERDEEN
The noble Baron has addressed a question to me, which I am perfectly ready to answer, and I hope to be able to answer satisfactorily. I observed the paragraph in the paper which he has quoted, and I admired its ingenuity, because, my former acquaintance and friendship with Prince Metternich having been known, it was a very good notion to throw out the idea that I was engaged in negotiations with him in the sense which was endeavoured to be implied by the writer of that article. Therefore I thought it very ingenious. But I can only say this—that although the Emperor of Austria may have consulted an old and valued servant—and I hope he may have consulted him—yet whether he has or not, I am perfectly ignorant. My noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) mentioned Prince Metternich the other night with praise, and I took up the same strain, and having seen it reported somewhere—in some newspaper I believe—that the Emperor was about to take the advice of Prince Metternich, I expressed a hope that that statement was true. I hope that the paragraph referred to by the noble Baron is in that respect correct, but whether it be so or not I cannot say. All I know is, as far as I am concerned there is just the same amount of truth in it as in all the other imputations against me, which I have the happiness of seeing day after day—that is to say, that there is not a syllable of truth in it from beginning to end. It so happens that since I have been in office, intimate as I formerly was with Prince Metternich, neither directly nor indirectly have I had any communication with him for the last year and a half until a few days ago, when a lady friend of mine and his told me she was writing to Prince Metternich, and asked me whether I had anything to say to him, and I said, "Pray make my best remembrances to him."
said, he did not wish to enter into a discussion of the great number of subjects which had been alluded to in the course of the debate. The noble Marquess would forgive, and he was sure 669 the House would pardon him if he declined entering upon the very comprehensive field of inquiry which he had opened; but he wished to revert to two words in the noble Marquess's very able and eloquent speech. The noble Marquess had applied the words "retracted" and "explained away," to the speech which his noble Friend at the head of the Government had that evening made in explanation of one he had made on Monday last. He (Lord Brougham) certainly had listened to the former speech of his noble Friend with that attention which the importance of the subject and his high position demanded, and he had also listened with equal attention to the speech which the noble Earl bad just made. He was not prepared to say that in the statements of the noble Earl that evening there had been anything said which could be called either retracting or explaining away anything in the former speech which had been so greatly misapprehended and misrepresented. He certainly felt highly satisfied with the speech of that evening, not on account of the details into which it entered, but more especially on account of that with which he began, and that with which the noble Earl had concluded, avowing that the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had truly spoken his sentiments on the occasion, and that after all the pains which he had taken—and for which their Lordships and the country ought to feel grateful—to avoid the necessity of war, yet that, once entered upon the contest, it should be no fault of his that it was not conducted with perfect determination and vigour. As for what the noble Earl had said of the Treaty of Adrianople, he purposely declined going into that question, except simply to state that he thought the noble Earl had not, with his usual acuteness, perceived the very great difference between the present state of things and those which existed when the production of this despatch was first refused. It was first asked for in February—it was granted towards the end of June; and in the interval there had arisen the unhappy circumstance that we were at war with the Emperor Nicholas. The production of a despatch containing expressions likely to cause irritation in the mind of a Sovereign with whom we were at peace would have been most injudicious, even most hurtful, and the Government acted most prudently in resisting its publication:—but in the present state of things it could produce no 670 such evil. He entirely agreed with those who felt apprehensive of entering at the present moment—in the present posture of affairs, aye, and in the present posture of our foreign relations—into anything like a discussion, or minute examination—he would almost say of any discussion or examination at all—of what it would be expedient to lay down hereafter, when the time for negotiation should happily arrive, as the basis of that negotiation. All must depend upon the state of affairs at that time; and it would be a monstrous and injurious folly, fraught with serious inconvenience and mischief, if they were now to discuss hypothetically what might or might not be fit terms to accept. I cannot, however, avoid expressing my admiration of the heroic and successful efforts of the Ottoman forces. It was of incalculable importance that, by the blessing of Providence and the marvellous efforts of the Ottoman armies, the successes which had been achieved had been effected by the Turks themselves, and before their allies had even time to interfere or give their aid by coming to their assistance. His apprehensions, he confessed, were for the period when he should hear that a movement had been made by the enemy for quitting the Principalities and to return to his own territory. He could not help fearing that there might arise embarrassment to us and to our ally France—that great embarrassment of Russia having probably made some concession to Austria, and Austria then calling upon us to enter into negotiations—of that he had more dread than of the war itself;—because, if we were drawn into negotiations, the long series of diplomatic acts and protocols might be continued, with all the resources of Russian diplomacy, dragging us, perhaps, through the whole summer and autumn, to the time when the Black Sea and the Baltic would be in very different circumstances from those in which they happily now were. He trusted that the opinion expressed the other night, and now repeated by the noble Earl, that the Western Powers were not committed by anything which had been done at Vienna or Berlin, would be shared by our great, magnanimous, and most honourable ally—France. He had no distrust of Austria—he should say nothing of Prussia; he had perfect confidence in the wisdom and sage councils of the advisors of the Emperor of Austria, and in the character of the young Emperor himself; but certainly 671 a proposition was supposed to have been made by Austria to the Czar which, if it were to lead to negotiations, it would be for the Western Powers to say whether they should bear a part in them or not, and if they were to bear a part in them, he trusted that a certain time—and that not a very long time—would be fixed, within which those negotiations must terminate or cease, and then the war be prosecuted with energy as before. It was out of the power of Her Majesty's Government, or of any one else, to prognosticate what would be the result of the present war. It must depend, not upon ourselves alone, but upon others. He did not mean the Eastern Powers, but our ally, France. This, however, he would venture to hope, that that perfect cordiality which happily had prevailed between this country and France up to the present time would still continue, and that they should go on together as they had gone on from the beginning until peace was obtained, coupled with guarantees against the repetition, at a more opportune moment, of conduct which all must condemn. Those guarantees would, he trusted, be such as should afford security against future aggression, and of such a nature as should entitle us to call the result of our negotiations and of our campaign by the name of "peace," for without such guarantee it would only be a semblance of peace, or, at best, little better than an armed truce.
§ On Question, Resolved in the Affirmative.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.