HL Deb 31 July 1876 vol 231 cc74-113

My Lords, some weeks ago I ventured to maintain that, before Parliament prorogued, Resolutions ought to be adopted on the Eastern Question, on a ground I then alluded to with brevity. Since the further Correspondence was delivered, when nothing of the kind appeared likely to emanate from any other quarter, at the end of last week I put down the Notice which the House observes upon the Paper. My Lords, looking to the feeling out-of-doors, and to what is going on to-night in the other House of Parliament, this Assembly would be placed so inconveniently, unless a Resolution was before it, that even if I found myself alone, I should not be much censured. Without the slightest indiscretion I may mention that what I now propose has the concurrence of the noble Lord who recently supported me, our late Ambassador at St. Petersburg, and that he would have been here to express himself to-night, were he not absent in a remote part of the United Kingdom. As regards the further Correspondence, I shall not dwell upon it, as so many noble Lords are able to discuss it. However rich in the materials of which history is composed, it does not give birth to many new political conclusions. The most important revelation I have found in it is at Page 160, where it appears that the Prince of Montenegro virtually dictated the Memorandum of Berlin. The self-abasement of the Magnates who espoused that Memorandum could not go much further than when they raised the Prince of Montenegro to be the arbiter of Europe; and they ought, perhaps, no longer to suggest the grave invectives which have been occasionally lavished on them. My Lords, I at once approach the Resolution to beloved. In order to defend it, I shall only ask your Lordships to examine for a moment the circumstances in which we are placed, the results at which we ought to aim; and the degree to which the Resolution, if adopted, would be likely to conduce to them.

The general position is not very different from what it was at the end of June. The effort of the Servian vassal to make war upon his Suzerain, and annex a portion of his territory, seems to have pretty well collapsed. In Bulgaria, to which I may refer again, there is not any dangerous movement. But the former insurrection, openly, instead of secretly, abetted by the Prince of Montenegro, still continues. Among the Russian troops, according to the Continental Press, in certain garrisons excitement has been manifested. You still have at Constantinople men in power anxious to correct abuses in the Empire. The hostility of Austria to the Porte in the affair of closing Klek and Suttorina has been more openly exhibited, and that Power is seen, as before, to be directly influenced by Russia. Every now and then some new and fanciful encroachment on the Treaties of 1856 is meditated, whispered, or projected. The Foreign Office have been recently approached by that class of politicians who opposed the Crimean War, and have not much respect for the engagements it bequeathed to us. These circumstances, although but a scanty fragment of the moving panorama which surrounds us, suffice to point to the results which ought to be pursued. My Lords, they would appear to be to fortify the Government against those elements which might divert them from the line of policy and duty they have entered on; to encourage the reforms in Turkey, which such men as Lord Stratford de Redcliffe have long ago traced out, which such men as the Grand Vizier and Midhat Pasha have determined to inaugurate; and, last of all, to secure the maintenance of peace in Europe where it has not been hitherto disturbed.

That the present Resolution, if adopted, would tend to fortify the Government in the manner I have pointed to, is too obvious to require demonstration: that it would tend to the advantage of the races subject to the Porte is equally distinct upon the face of it: that it would tend to secure the maintenance of peace, so great an object to a country like Great Britain, rich in fame, contented with achievement, engrossed by industry, opposed to acquisition, requires but an easy course of argument to prove it. What would be most likely to beget hostilities during the autumn? Some ill-conceived adventure or experiment against the Treaties of 1856 on the part of the Power they restrain, which could not be regarded with indifference by the people of this country; or some defiance of public law such as occurred in 1870, which would be canvassed and resented in every fraction of society. What is most likely to bring about these sources of collision? Is it not the hope that they will meet with acquiescence and inertness, which such a Resolution as I move must damp and render difficult to cherish. How was the war in 1853 created? My Lords, it was created, as anyone may see who looks back to the proceedings of the time, by the silence and ambiguity of Parliament, which led the Russian Czar to misconceive, to misinterpret the intentions of the country. At that time the ill-judged reserve which decided the Czar to cross the Pruth was more excusable than it would be at present. After a peace of 40 years, statesmen had apparently forgotten how war could be averted, how it could be carried on, and how it could be finished with propriety; so that we had official speeches calculated to produce it, Estimates inadequate to feed it, negotiations when it reached the internecine phase, which only arms could settle. Again, in 1853, there were not any Treaties like the present to uphold; and it is not so easy for Parliament to indicate a line of action to the Government, as merely to declare or to inspire fidelity to the engagements which exist. My Lords, if the experience of 1853 is not to tell upon us at this moment, all history is a source of folly and deception, and those who have recorded it are among the greatest enemies of wisdom and of statesmanship. Such, however, is not the opinion of mankind at large upon a point which both in ancient and modern times has been habitually contemplated. I will, however, reason only from the knowledge to be acquired in our day upon the Bosporus. It is easy to remark there that the policy of Russia upon the Eastern Question has its source at Constantinople, even more than at St. Petersburg. The former capital is given up to the exertions of diplomacy. In one street you have condensed the thoughts, the passions, and the rivalries of Europe. When the British Embassy is prevalent, your relations with the Powers hostile to the Porte aren't immediately endangered, because that Embassy presents a formidable barrier. When the British Embassy is feeble in its influence, the Powers hostile to the Porte are constantly encouraged to create the tension, which is least to be desired. When is the British Embassy most capable? When it is possible to say that Parliament is undecided and irresolute in its adherence to the Treaties of 1856, or when it is not possible to say so? My Lords, it would be a waste of time to argue such a question. Let those who doubt, proceed and form their own opinions on the spot where only one can be arrived at.

Although no one will contend that such a Resolution can be dangerous, when it is shown to be the best expedient for averting war, some might be led, at first, to view it as superfluous. But as soon as they reflect on what has taken place within the last 12 months they must, I think, abandon that impression. Within that time, there have been many reasons why Parliament should be misunderstood, and its adherence to the Treaties should be doubted. We cannot overlook the animosity against the Porte, which the position of the bondholders excited. We cannot overlook the language of the individuals or the organs who sustained the outbreak in Herzegovina, when it began. We cannot assume that the excited patrons of those whom they consider as oppressed, the unconscious instruments of those who have fomented the disturbances, have not had some effect upon the Continent. No one who has lived anywhere within the great circumference in which the Eastern danger agitates the world, could possibly maintain that the attachment of the British Parliament to the Treaties of 1856 is so well known, as to make a declaration in their favour useless or inapposite. On the other hand, it is inconceivable that, at such a moment, Government should not desire Parliament to strengthen them in their maintenance of Treaties. Five Powers have been arrayed against them at Berlin. Except in time of war, the balance of Europe was never so completely overthrown. The scale which nearly kicks the beam is not entitled to repudiate the weight which Parliament can add to it. And if it does, discussion in the Houses is even worse than fruitless. You have the inconvenience and you miss the compensation.

My Lords, of the three grounds on which I recommend the Motion to your Lordships, its tendency to guard the interests of peace appears to me by far the most important. Other agencies may back up the policy of the Government against the influence which might enfeeble or deprave it. Other agencies may cherish and encourage the reforms by which the Sublime Porte would best consult its honour and prosperity. But to calm and to control the spirit of aggressive restlessness, from which calamities may spring, from which in former years they have sprung, it is difficult to point to any element whatever, except the moderating voice of Parliament in favour of the Treaties.

These arguments would probably suffice among those who hold that the Treaties ought to be maintained. But a party has been lately formed—unfortunately it is represented in this House—who, under guise of sympathy with the Bulgarians, openly assert that the Treaties ought to be abandoned; and even hint that Russia—in their eyes—would now be welcome on the Bosphorus. My Lords, I do not yield to this new party in sympathy with the Bulgarians—with whom, perhaps, I have had more intercourse than they have. The Bulgarians have sent me many pages on their wrongs that I might make them known to your Lordships, which I would certainly attempt to do, unless I were assured from another quarter that their complaints are now being thoroughly investigated, and every effort made to join humanity to firmness in opposing the disturbances, of which their country was the theatre. My Lords, the existence of the new party to which I have referred obliges me to trespass on the House rather longer than I should have done, and to hurry over one or two of the grounds on which it appears to me—in spite of their demand—the treaties ought to be adhered to.

Of course, the general dishonour of abandoning engagements need not be insisted on before an audience in which so great a sensibility exists upon the topic. But we cannot be unaffectedly the circumstance that the country has no redundant store of credit upon foreign policy, from which it can afford to throw away a fraction with impunity. Whether the blame falls justly on Parliament, or on First Ministers, or on Secretaries of State, or on allies, or on adverse turns of fortune not to be surmounted, the result is beyond controversy. Great Britain has suffered deeply in her credit, since the period of that war of which Denmark was the victim. On such a point other nations are the only judges, and their voice is universal. What took place in 1870 heightened the impression; and what took place in 1871 was little likely to reduce it. Many other circumstances, I should not like to specify at present, require a long course of wise and honourable action to efface their recollection. Departure from the Treaties of 1856, so far as they survive, would be the overflowing drop in that cup of national disparagement, which does not need to be replenished. We cannot afford to crown a series of reproaches. But the noble Earl the Secretary of State, the Government, and the House itself, are quite as much impressed as I am on this topic.

My Lords, there is another ground on which the Treaties ought to be maintained, which does not appeal to sentiment of any kind, although sentiment and policy will not, perhaps, in this House appear entirely unconnected. It is the insuperable difficulty of any new arrangement on the Bosphorus which the Western Powers could accede to. Men who have spent many days and nights upon the Eastern Question will be the first to recognize the difficulty. In exact proportion as they learn something about Serbia, the United Principalities, and Greece, they are convinced that none of them can become the centre of a new and civilized society, qualified to guard Constantinople for the interest of Europe. A new possibility is started by some reasoners. They urge that Austria ought to be established at that capital, and seem to think that there are none but very trifling objections to the consummation they aspire to. In one of his published speeches, Prince Bismarck gives a striking illustration of the defect which marks the class of intellects in which this kind of vision has originated. He compares them to persons who have never been in any highland country, and who, when they see a mountain large and naked to the eye, imagine there is nothing easier than by a straight and simple line to march directly to its summit. The crevices, the chasms, the water courses, and the glaciers, are utterly beyond their faculties to realize. In the case of the projectors I allude to, the first bar to their ascending stride, which utterly escapes them, is the Treaty which engages Austria in defence of Ottoman integrity. That, perhaps, might be surmounted. They have then to encounter the dual system recently established by Count Beust, which could scarcely work harmoniously in favour of their enterprize. Beyond that they are doomed to find among the Magyars the greatest fear of being englobed in a Slavonic population. In the next place, they meet in eminent Hungarians, such as General Klapka, whose views have lately been pronounced, the strongest possible objection to encroachment on the Porte, to which, in former days, they felt themselves indebted. Last of all, they come into collision with the Greek Patriarch at Constantinople—a force which co-exists with Mussulman, but might not be equally prepared to hail a Roman Catholic ascendancy. If, indeed, in the inscrutable events the future may reserve, the Austrian Empire was in some degree divided; if germs we see already pushed into maturity; if Hungary was standing by itself, for anything we know the Vassal Principalities of Turkey might be led to gravitate towards it. But even if they did the problem would continue. In any case it is unnecessary to dwell upon contingencies beyond our power to secure. We are thus thrown back upon the Treaties of 1856, the more we labour for alternatives to fill up the void their disappearance would occasion.

My Lords, what course the late Government will take on this Motion is unknown to me. The course they ought to take is much more easy to determine. The late Government aspire to lead the Party who established the Treaties of 1856. They owe whatever influence they have, in no small degree, to past connection with Lord Palmerston. That which the world regarded as undue subserviency to Russia was among the causes of their downfall. There is now an opportunity before them of usefully disclaiming that propensity. But it is not to be admitted, for a moment, that the opinion of the late Government, whatever it may be, ought to decide the noble Earl the Secretary of State and his Colleagues on a question of this gravity. When much of Europe is disturbed, and more of it is menaced with disturbance; when an alliance fraught with peril starts out of the tomb, to which our greatest statesmen had consigned it, and luring France with Italy towards it, nearly drags Great Britain at its wheels; when out-of-doors fanatics utterly unversed in all the elements of history and of policy are endeavouring to fan a war between the Crescent and the Cross; the noble Earl the Secretary of State is not entitled to forego the aid which Parliament can offer him, because a section of political opponents may be ready to deprive him of it. The conflict in which he is engaged abroad, although a proud, is an unequal one. In referring to the concert of the three Powers on the 26th of June, the noble Lord the former Ambassador at St. Petersburg did not hesitate to tell your Lordships that the Holy Alliance had been set up again for revolutionary purposes. But an authority more grave, more elevated than the late Ambassador at St. Petersburg, had even previously come forward to interpret it. On this point I shall, as far as possible, avoid every phrase which scrupulous diplomatists would cavil at. But many of your Lordships must have seen during the first fortnight of December a speech which came from the Russian Czar himself—it was everywhere published—in which it was proclaimed that the three Emperors had re-established the alliance of their Predecessors, with a view to the objects for which it was originally formed. Such a speech ought, of course, to be regarded as the emanation of a Council. The Sovereign of Russia is not like public men, who, having nobody to tell them what to say, must often fall into imprudences, however great their effort to avoid them. It is worth while, therefore, to remember for what purposes that system was designed, which can be only judged by seeing of what purposes it was the instrument. My Lords, that system overthrew the Polish nationality; after a long interval it crushed the hopes of every patriot in Italy; it despatched in 1823 a French Army to Madrid, against the ineffectual voice of Parliament and the Foreign Office; in 1826 it imposed upon Great Britain the necessity of sending an expedition for the defence of Portugal into the Tagus; and last of all, by trampling on everything settled at Vienna, it put an end to the Republic of Cracow in 1847. These were its performances and purposes, and such a memory as that of the noble Earl the Secretary of State without more accurate description can recall them. My Lords, will the noble Earl, whose part it is to grapple with that system, wantonly decline, as far as possible, to arm himself against it? What is the defence the Resolution offers—if adopted—and what the armour it secures? My Lords, I wish to meet that question with precision. The noble Earl has had already to withstand demands from those three Powers, which he regarded as subversive of or injurious to Ottoman stability. If such a Resolution becomes the voice of Parliament, or even of your Lordships, demands of the same kind will be less likely to recur, and if they do recur, will be more easy to encounter.

My Lords, the essence of the case resides in that position. It would therefore be against my object, by dwelling upon other topics, to efface it. I have had to chose between two dangers; the danger of oppressing or exhausting the House by the materials which must occur to anyone whose thoughts during the last two years have been directed to the subject; the danger of appearing to present considerations which may be, not unconvincing, but inadequate, when you look to the magnitude of the interests at stake, of the commotions which environ us. I resolved to choose the latter danger, because the argument will not, I hope, depend on me. In this House there are present some, whose blood was shed, or whose lives were risked in the Crimea. There are present some to whom at least the names of Balaclava and Inkerman suggest the thoughts with which they ought to be connected. There are present some who recollect the objects for which that war was undertaken, the Treaties in which it closed and the necessity of guarding them at present. I leave the subject in their hands, and if they concur with me that Parliament has now a duty to perform, I engage them, more effectually than I have done to urge and encourage its performance. Moved, "That this House, anxious for the welfare of the various races subject to the Ottoman Empire, and for an improved administration of their Government, is ready to support the measures which become necessary for upholding the Treaties of 30th March and 15th April, 1856."—(The Lord Campbell.)


I am obliged to the noble Earl for having given Notice to call the attention of the House to this important subject, for if some other Peer had not done so I should have felt bound to undertake the task, so that an opportunity should be given for a subject of so much gravity being discussed in this House. With regard to the Resolution submitted by the noble Lord, however, I feel myself in some difficulty. I do not quite understand the drift of it—and I am sorry to say his speech has not fully enlightened me on the subject. My Lords, we all know that a civil war of a lamentable character is going on in some of the Provinces of European Turkey, a war which, if it continues—and no one can say that it will not do so, after a fashion—for a long time, will ruin those Provinces, will decimate their populations, and will confirm and increase the hatred which now exists between different races of different creeds. The noble Lord asks who is to blame for this war? There are, no doubt, historical causes over which the present generation has no control; but in these we cannot find the sole origin of the evil. It is impossible to deny that the Government of the Porte has much to answer for, and in answering the noble Lord's question, I confine my observations to the period which has elapsed since the Crimean War. The Crimean War had its origin in a quarrel between the Latin and Greek Churches, backed up respectively by France and Russia. I always thought that at the time too much was made of the Memoranda of two conversations held by the Emperor Nicholas—one in 1844 with the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, and the Earl of Aberdeen; the other with Sir Hamilton Seymour, in 1853, after the difficulty about the Churches had arisen. The propositions laid down in the first Memorandum were— The maintenance of the Ottoman Empire, the abstinence from selfish demands and from exclusive dictation, the joint action of the Powers to assist any one of them who had just cause of complaint, the duty of all the Powers to urge upon the Porte the conciliation of its Christian subjects, the use of the same influence to keep these subjects in allegiance, the agreement of Russia and England as to the course to be pursued in the case of a calamity befalling the Turkish Empire. This declaration of principles, although it did not call for action on the part of the English Government, did not appear objectionable to the distinguished men to whom it was made or to their successors. The same views were communicated to Sir Hamilton Seymour in 1850 upon the latter's introducing the subject of the Eastern Question; but they were more strongly impregnated with the idea of the imminent fall of the Turk, and showed an equal desire to act with England. The cause of the Crimean War was the departure by the Emperor from the principles he had laid down in his two confidential conversations, aided by some other untoward circumstances. He took separate and private action, and attempted not only to assert what he considered his previous rights, but to extort from the Porte an acknowledgment of further rights on his part in regard to the Porte's Christian subjects. War ensued, and we were successful. I have no intention this evening of discussing the necessity, the justice, or the policy of that war, or the results of it upon the general policy of Europe. I shall confine myself to the position in which it left Turkey at its close. The war, as I have said, ended successfully, and it ended in a manner which is a remark able exception to what in old times was thought one of the most general lessons taught by history—namely, that nothing is so dangerous for a weak State as to call in the armed assistance of one or more powerful nations. Excepting the general interest which all commercial nations had in the freedom of the Danube, and the general interest of Europe that the Turkish Empire should not fall a prey to the ambition of any one Power, we did not attempt to obtain one single object of a selfish character. The objects of the war were stated at the beginning of the war. They were distinctly recapitulated by Lord Clarendon and by Count Beust, after the failure of the Vienna negotiations to this effect:—That the exclusive right to interfere to a certain extent in the internal affairs of Provinces belonging to the Turkish Empire which Russia had in former years wrung from the necessities of the Porte should no longer be exercised by that Power; that the channel of the Lower Danube, and more especially the outlets of the river into the Black Sea, should no longer be subject to the exclusive control of Russia, but should, on the contrary, be confided to the superintendence of delegates appointed by other Powers as well as by Russia, and who should take measures for freeing and keeping free from obstructions the great water communication of Central Germany with the rest of the world; that the Turkish Empire should become part of the system of European equilibrium, and that means should be taken to put an end to the preponderance of Russia in the Black Sea; that the pretentions of Russia officially to protect the subjects of the Porte should be renounced; and that the Powers should use their influence to obtain from the Sultan, by an act of his own Sovereign authority, the confirmation and observance of the religious privileges of his Christian subjects. I hold that these objects were fully provided for by the Treaty of 1856. Since the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman Empire the Porte never held such a position in Europe as it did after the Treaty of Paris. Not only was the Empire made secure, as Lord Palmerston boasted, against naval, military, and diplomatic attacks, but it had taken the place in the system of the equilibrium of Europe, it was left with a very small Debt at a comparatively small rate of interest, and it had—under the advice and pressure, it is true, of the representatives of its co-belligerents at Constantinople, but with an entire reservation of the dignity of the Sovereign—issued a declaration as to the future government of the Empire, on principles which if fully carried out would have insured the prosperity, the happiness, and probably the contentment of its subjects. But it may be said, as it has so often been said out-of-doors, that this advantageous Treaty, and with it the object for which the Crimean war was waged, was abandoned by the late Government in 1871. I may be allowed to say one word on this point, because the ignorance about it is so great, that not only have some Members of your Lordships' House stated that in 1871 we gave up all the objects of the Crimean War, but my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) has, in at least two despatches just presented, shown complete forgetfulness of the only point which was changed in the Treaty of 1856. He speaks of the Treaty of 1844 regarding the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles as having been confirmed by the Treaties of 1856 and of 1871; while the fact is that the Treaty of 1871 entirely altered that particular provision. I believe some of your Lordships will hear with surprise that of the four objects named in Lord Clarendon's despatch and carried out by the Treaty of 1856 three remain exactly as they were, with the additional solemn adherence of the Emperor of Russia—not under the pressure of the sword, but from his own free will; that the only point which has been changed was that portion of the third section to which I have referred which relates to the neutralization of the Black Sea, which in itself was an afterthought to the Conference of Vienna. That stipulation, which was denounced in Parliament at the time, and acknowledged by France, Germany, Austria, and Italy to be one which ought not to continued, had done its work. It had put an end to the naval preponderance of Russia in the Black Sea, and it had given time to Turkey to create a most powerful Navy, the only fault of which was that it was much too large for her finances. I saw that at a great meeting the other day Lord Palmerston was quoted as having prophecied the speedy end of the Treaty of 1856. He did no such thing. His allusion was to the particular clause of neutralization to which I have just alluded. Well, we substituted another, and I belive much more effectual, provision for the Turks, though less offensive to Russia. Instead of the Porte being able to bring the fleets of her allies into the Black Sea, after a declaration of war, it was agreed that she should have the power of doing so previous to such a declaration. The advantage of this provision is obvious. Under the Treaty of 1856, Russia could build any number of transports by which she might have conveyed troops to any point of Turkish territory without Turkey being able to oppose them by her own ships or the ships of allies, unless after a formal declaration of war. I hope your Lordships will excuse me for clearing up a point about which there has been so much misunderstanding. Turkey was by the Treaty of 1856 in a position with reference to the rest of Europe different from that which she formerly occupied. Now I will ask your Lordships how she has availed herself of this interval of comparative quiet and of absolute internal security. I do not mean that bad advice has not been given her from some quarters, or that we have not been foremost in pouring into the Treasury of the Sultan some £100,000,000 of money, which has had exactly the same corrupting and destructive effect as the spirits and rum supplied by civilized nations has upon the neighbouring savages; but there was no obligation upon the Porte to ask for bad advice, to accept loans which were out of proportion to the resources of the country. What, then, were some of the principal things promised in the famous Hatti-Humayoun of 1856? Mixed tribunals of justice, codes, and translations of codes; a sound fiscal system, measures against corruption, the establishment of banks, the promotion of roads, canals, and railways, and the invitation of foreign capital, so as to develop the the resources of the country. Have any of these promises been kept? Is it not true that they have been absoluely reversed? If you have any doubt, read the excellent despatch of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) of June 26. It appears to me impossible to deny that the Government of the Porte is responsible for much that has happened. It is also quite true that there has been great activity to create discontent among others than the inhabitants of the districts which have actually revolted. But is this not always the case? What two greater, and I believe beneficial, events have happened than the unity of Italy and the unity of Germany? Have the Sardinians been unjustly accused of working up the latent discontent of the rest of Italy? Did the Prussians hold themselves absolutely aloof from the agitation which prevailed in other parts of Germany? As far as the Papers just presented go, they show most clearly that the agitation has not been due to foreign Governments, however difficult in some cases the action of some of these Governments are to follow, but to national movements and instincts; and could such national committees find more suitable materials for their work than those which had been manufactured for them by the Porte itself? And now I must say a few words with respect to the action of Her Majesty's Government, taking the date of the commencement of the negotiations for the Andrassy Note. The few words said by the noble Earl about a month ago on the subject of Her Majesty's Government having allowed the three Imperial Governments to take so completely the initiative in a matter which concerned ourselves and the rest of Europe have not supplied a sufficient answer. It is true that it appears by the Papers that some changes were effected by Her Majesty's Government in the Note, and we grumbled a little at the position in which we were placed. But I cannot help thinking that by a few direct explanations on our part before the Note was proposed at all, to the effect that in matters of so great a European importance we must insist on ourselves and other Powers taking their full share of the negotiations, we should have prevented the three Powers doing that which I believe they are now aware was a great mistake on their part. Still, I believe Her Majesty's Government were right in agreeing to the modified form of the Andrassy Note. As to the Berlin proposals, I stated in the House a month ago that I could give no opinion till I had seen the document. After reading that Paper, I agree that it would not have been wise to accede to that document. There are two questions raised by it—the form of presenting it to us, and the substance of it. It appears from the despatch of Sir Andrew Buchanan that Her Majesty's Government were supposed to have resented the form, and I was certainly told at the time that the telegraph had announced to all Europe a considerable display of temper on the part of one of Her Majesty's principal Ministers. I doubt, however, whether the form was really meant to show disrespect to Her Majesty's Government, and was not merely the result of our having abandoned to the Three Powers the initiative in the matter, and the noble Earl in this House dissipated that idea. As to the substance, I think that as a whole it was not acceptable; but, as sometimes is the case, the reasons given for objecting to everything in it do not appear to me sound, and in no case do I think it was wise to drop the matter so completely. We were more Turk than the Turks themselves in objecting to the armistice which very soon after was proposed by the Turks, and objected to by the Christians. I do not see also how it would have been impossible for the Turks to rebuild the houses of the refugees, which, indeed, they had previously offered to-do, and which would certainly have cost less money than making war on a great scale. But the chief objection I have is the way we washed our hands of further negotiation. I do not think the noble Earl was bound to produce a cut-and-dried counter-proposal, but he might have shown more readiness to discuss with all the other Powers some better plan than that proposed at Berlin. He was urged to do so not only by Russia, but also by Austria, Italy, and France. All along Germany has somewhat ostentatiously kept in the background. There is no reason to suppose she is unfriendly to this country, and it must not be forgotten how powerful she will be when the moment of decision comes. I hope we shall have some fuller explanation as to the refusal of a plan subsequently, as it appears, proposed by Russia, which consisted in giving Little Zvornick to Servia, making some concessions to Montenegro of a territorial character, and giving to Bosnia and Herzegovina an administrative autonomy, leaving the Sovereignty of Turkey intact—a plan on which the Russian Government pledged the pacification of the insurgent districts. I cannot say that the war has broken out in consequence of the refusal of the Berlin proposals, unaccompanied by any suggestions from Her Majesty's Government for any other policy. But on the other hand it is impossible for them to deny that this may be the case. The Prince of Montenegro alleges that it is so, and it is clear that by the complete refusal to concert anything, any moral claim upon Russia to continue her pressure upon Servia and Montenegro ceased to exist. There is no doubt that, rightly or wrongly, the impression made both upon philo-Turks and anti-Turks is the same—that the neutrality of Her Majesty's Government has been of a very benevolent kind towards the Turks, and that doubts still exist whether Her Majesty's Government felt to the full extent the obligations under which we are with respect to the Christian subjects of the Porte. When, in a few words which I said a month ago, I alluded to the influence which the Treaty of 1856 gives us in respect of the claims of the Christians to be fairly governed, I thought I remarked some appearance of dissent. This dissent was probably founded on the 9th Article of the Treaty of 1856. But what did Lord Palmerston say on the subject? I believe with perfect truth— We felt that it would have been utterly inconsistent with the objects and principles laid down at the commencement of the war to frame the Treaty in such a manner as to give to the Allies an authoritative right of interference between the Sultan and his subjects. The Sultan, however, was perfectly willing to give to the Allies that sort of moral right which I think ought to he considered a sufficient security for the maintenance of the arrangements which were made, and which in themselves were satisfactory. The Firman is not included in the Treaty, and no Power, therefore, has a right to say, 'Here, by Treaty, I am entitled to come to you, and to tell you that you have violated your Firman with regard to this villager, or that priest, or that peasant, or that farmer, or that merchant, and I call on you by right of Treaty to alter your course; and I am to be the party to judge between you and your subjects and not yourself.' But the Treaty having recorded that that Firman has been issued by the Sultan, it is perfectly plain to my mind that it cannot he revoked. In fact, that it should be revoked is a thing which I hold to be as impossible almost, morally speaking, as that the sun should go backwards. That which is more possible, however, is that, for some time to come, cases will arise in which the Firman will not be fully executed by the authorities of the Porte in distant provinces and in places not immediately under the view of the Consuls; and if that should occur, the fact of the Firman having been adverted to in the Treaty, and the issuing of it having been recorded in the Treaty, would give to the Allied Powers that moral right of diplomatic interference and of remonstrance with the Sultan which I am perfectly convinced would be quite sufficient to accomplish the desired purpose."—[3 Hansard, cxlii. 125–6.] If Lord Palmerston was wrong in his interpretation of the rights we have to see such solemn promises executed, and without which the maintenance of the Ottoman Empire for any time is impossible, in what a position the co-belligerent Powers were placed by the Treaty of 1856 as regards the Christians. We took absolutely from them the possibly interested, but very effective, support of Russia, and have substituted nothing of value in its stead. I am encouraged to hope by some of the later despatches that the noble Earl is alive to this obligation, and it is to a certain degree confirmed by a remarkable speech, which has given great satisfaction, addressed to a deputation some days ago at the Foreign Office. Before touching upon that speech, I feel bound to ask the noble Earl to give us some explanation why the information given in it was not afforded to this House, and at an earlier period. In that speech the noble Earl said— From the day it became evident that the crisis had arrived, that war would come to pass, we stated that all reserve was at an end. But this day arrived weeks ago, and yet day after day we were left without papers and without information, and in consequence of this absence of information, the most alarming rumours prevail. The next bad things to war—namely, rumours of war—were rife. It was announced, not only in England, but in all Europe, that we had checkmated Russia, not only by our judicious refusal of the Berlin Memorandum, but especially by the menacing demonstration in Besika Bay. Holders of Russian stock in this country lost from 8 to 15 per cent in their desire to realize, and trade all over Europe was sensibly affected—not to mention the angry feelings created both in this country and in Russia. Well, on the 14th of July the noble Earl entirely extinguished all these false alarms. He explained how the Ambassadors had met together, how they had consulted for the common safety, and unanimously agreed as to the expediency of obtaining for unoffending persons, and as a security against disorder, such armed force as was at hand. He said the initiative was taken from Constantinople:—and it is well that you should recollect, and it is not generally understood in this country—it was not a step taken by this country alone. It was a step taken by us simply as one of, and acting in concert with, the other Great Powers. I think you will admit that the facts do not bear the inference which has popularly been drawn from them. And the noble Earl gave an assurance which would be more completely reassuring if he had not promised in last autumn that we should hear nothing more about the insurrection in Herzegovina; that— So far as is possible to forecast the future of events, I think it is the most impossible thing in the world that in consequence of anything that is now passing within the limits of the Turkish Empire a general European war should ensue. I have nothing to gainsay in this—nothing could be more complete or more satisfactory than the assurances. But why were they not given before? Passing over earlier opportunities, the noble Lord (Lord Campbell) called the attention of this House to Turkish affairs on the 26th of June, nearly three weeks before this speech. Lord Hammond blamed the Government for having allowed others to take the initiative, but he praised other acts of Her Majesty's Government, especially the pregnant measures of sending the Meet to Besika Bay as an intimation of our determination to protect Turkey. Lord Napier, in an able speech, arguing for the Porte against the Christians, was particularly laudatory of the movement of the Mediterranean Fleet, stated the objections that might be raised against it as a premature menace, and refuted them according to his views. At the end of the debate I said a few words in reference to the object with which the Fleet had been sent to the Mediterranean, and asked whether it had been sent as an intimation to Russia, as a hint to the Porte, or as a defence of the Christians? The noble Earl spoke: he declined giving information, on the ground that a Minister's words might be misconstrued, and that the Papers were not in our hands. But when he made his speech to the deputation no Papers had been then presented, and nothing could be more intelligible than the words of the noble Earl. In one part of that able and successful speech the noble Earl lamented a want of knowledge of the wishes of his employers, the public. I have no right to speak for the public; but I hope I shall not be thought presumptuous if I state what my own wishes are. I entirely approve the noble Earl's policy of non-intervention, and of his, at the same time, not binding himself to non-intervention in any possible contingencies. I approve his taking no steps to destroy the Treaty of 1856 or to accelerate the fall of the Ottoman Empire. If all Europe were agreed, it would not be an easy task to settle the problem of what should take its place. With the different ambitions and interests that exist, to attempt to do so in anticipation of events would be full of danger. On the other hand, I trust that he will hasten rather than delay the moment when Europe in concert can by diplomatic action put an end to a state of things which is fatal for the Christians, ruinous to the Turks, and which the longer it lasts may the more readily give rise to European complications; and in any such arrangements I trust that every care will be taken to secure the welfare and good government of our fellow-religionists in Turkey. Where the inhabitants of a Province are chiefly Christians, there can be no real difficulty in allowing them a share of government, subject to the Sovereignty of the Porte; where the races are more equal in number the difficulty is great, but ought not to be in superable. What Lord Dufferin effected in Syria cannot be impossible in other parts. But of one thing I feel certain—that the people of this country will not be satisfied if, as the result of the Crimean War and of our diplomatic exertions at the present crisis, they find the Christian subjects of the Porte in as bad or worse a position than they undoubtedly have been during the last 20 years. In conclusion, I have to thank your Lordships for the attention with which you have listened to me, and to ask your indulgence for my having thus laid my views on this important question before you.


My Lords, I think it well that I should not delay to comment upon what I admit to be the very moderate, fair, and candid speech just delivered by the noble Earl (Earl Granville). First, however, I must advert to the address of my noble Friend who opened this debate. My noble Friend approved entirely of what the Government had done, and gave some advice, to which I listened with respect, as to what we ought to do in the future. During his speech I felt in the agreeable position of the gentleman who is waiting to return thanks for his health at a public dinner rather than in that of a Minister who is about to defend his policy against attack. I thank my noble Friend for the courtesy and friendliness of his remarks, and may say in passing that I think he would do better not to press to a division the Motion of which he has given Notice. Though he hoped the Motion would receive the unanimous support of this House, there are some of your Lordships who might dissent from it; and I think that when, so far as I can see, we appear for all practical purposes to be of one mind, it would be a pity that any form of words should be laid before us, possibly leading to an appearance of disunion which really does not exist. There is another reason why I think my noble Friend should not press his Motion. He asks your Lordships to express your readiness "to support the measures which become necessary for upholding the Treaties" of 1856. Now, in the abstract I do not dissent from that declaration of opinion; but I think if such a Resolution went forth to the world as being adopted by this House, it would create an impression for which I hope and believe there is no foundation—namely, that there is some imminent danger of those Treaties of 1856 being broken. The assertion by your Lordships of a Resolution to defend them would imply an intention on the part of some Power to break them, and would be something in the nature of a defiance addressed by this House to foreign States. I pass now from the speech of the noble Lord who moved the Resolution to the remarks of my noble Friend opposite (Earl Granville). In his opening observations he laid down many propositions from which I certainly should not dissent. I agree with him that it is desirable that this subject should be brought before the House. I agree with him in regretting the unhappy war which has broken out, and in hoping that it will remain localized, at least, if not shortly brought to an end. I agree with him in thinking that there have been on the part of the Turkish Government great and grievous faults of administration during the last 20 years, and that these faults have contributed in some not inconsiderable degree to the insurrectionary movements which we have witnessed during the last 12 months. Upon this point, however, I am bound to make one remark. I do not doubt that maladministration has contributed to bring about those insurrectionary movements; but I do not think we should take a just or accurate view of the situation if we ascribed them wholly or even mainly to this cause. There is no question that there has arisen among the European subjects of the Porte a very strong feeling in favour not only of better administration, but of independence. Now, this feeling, to whatever extent it exists, obviously would not be removed by better government. I do not think it necessary to go back to the year 1844, or to the conversation—which, as we all remember, made so great an impression—between the Emperor Nicholas and Sir Hamilton Seymour in 1853, or to the acts and general policy of the English Government at that period. I do not assert—I have never been one of those who did assert—that the results of the Crimean War have been altogether futile. Whatever may have since occurred, we now have, at any rate, a state of things which could not be said to exist at the time when that war was undertaken—we have a general feeling existing among the States of Europe that the future of the Turkish Empire is a question to be settled not by aggressive movements on, the part of any one Power, but if possible, and as far as possible, by a general assent of European nations. I do not care to discuss—I do not think it important for our present purpose to discuss—the effect of the modification of the Black Sea Treaty in 1871; still less shall I defend myself against the charge of verbal inaccuracy to which my noble Friend has thought it worth while to allude. I shall be very glad if what I say and do is subject to no graver imputation. If it were worth while, I could defend not only the substance but the words of the statement mentioned by my noble Friend. But there are matters of greater importance to be dealt with. I come now to the real gist of my noble Friend's speech. His first criticism is founded upon the circumstances which attended the presentation of the Andrassy Note; and he said, if I understood him rightly, "Why did you allow that Note to be framed by the Three Powers without interference or remonstrance? Why did you not interpose at an earlier date and tell them that England required to be consulted?" My answer is, that we never at any time contemplated that that declaration of policy would be issued by the Three Powers alone, without obtaining the consent of the other European Powers. Whether it was framed in the first instance by one or two or three Powers was a matter of comparatively small importance, provided always that—as undoubtedly happened in this case, though not in a later instance—ample time and opportunity were given to us to consider whether we would or would not give it our support, and, if so, upon what conditions. I think that to wait until it was brought before us, knowing that it must be so brought before us, was a policy more prudent and more wise than if we had insisted on knowing beforehand what the three Cabinets were planning among themselves. The test in such matters is the result. Did we lose any influence or authority in the Councils of Europe? I will venture to say precisely the contrary. We considered the matter, and in consequence of our criticism, modifications were introduced into the Note. As a matter of fact I can vouch for this—and many of your Lordships know it too,—the general anxiety and feeling of uneasiness throughout Europe when it was believed that our support to that proposition would be withheld was very great; and the feeling of relief in every European Cabinet was correspondingly great when it was known that, with certain modifications, it had received our assent. My Lords, I do not believe that the course we pursued was one which diminished the influence or power of this country. Nor do I think it unreasonable that Austria and Russia—at least that Austria—should take the initiative in a matter of this kind. Whatever may have occurred since that time, the insurrection in part of Bosnia was then purely local; and it undoubtedly affected Austria as a Power bordering upon Turkey more than any other State. The Cabinet of Vienna, then, had the best right of any to take the initiative; and it had a better opportunity than any of us had of knowing what was really passing on the spot, and what was the real explanation of many circumstances which to us, at a distance, were entirely obscure. I pass on to the question of the Berlin Memorandum; and upon that question I understand my noble Friend to say that he does not dissent from the course we adopted. He thinks we were right in not giving it our adhesion, but were not fortunate in the reasons we gave for taking such a course.


What I said was that I did not think the noble Earl was bound to produce a cut-and-dried counter-proposal, but that he might have shown greater readiness to discuss with the other Powers some better plan than that proposed at Berlin.


That is a separate proposition. First, my noble Friend says, "Your conclusions may be right, but your reasons are wrong;" and secondly, he maintains that we were wrong in not submitting counter-proposals. Naturally, when a proposal is made consisting of a variety of separate propositions you must take them one by one and state the objections which occur upon each. If the proposals for bringing back the refugees to their homes had stood alone, I do not at all say that we might not have got over the objections entertained against that particular proposal. But it was a question of calling on the Porte to repair all the damage done, not only by their own troops, but by the Insurgents also. It was proposed that the money to be expended should be placed in the hands of committees on which the representation of the Turkish Government would have been extremely feeble, and which would therefore have no inducement to limit the expenditure, but many inducements in the contrary direction. In point of fact, the proposal was that the Turkish Treasury should be opened, and that committees whose sympathies could not be expected to be with the Turkish Government should be allowed to help themselves at their discretion. I think there is something to be said against that proposition. Then the noble Earl said, "Why did you object to the armistice? You are the friends of the Turks, who accepted the armistice, while, on the other hand, it was the Insurgents who refused it." I need hardly explain that there is a very wide difference between accepting a proposition on your own account and forcing it on somebody else. We never said it would necessarily be a mistake for the Turks to grant an armistice. We thought that the solution of that question depended to a great extent upon military as well as upon civil considerations, and that to force an armistice on the Turks would have been a very one-sided proceeding. There is no doubt that the officers of the Turkish force would have observed their engagements; but the Insurgents have not the same discipline—they have no one chief who is responsible for the whole body; and it seems probable that an armistice, if agreed upon, would have been strictly maintained on the one side and entirely disregarded on the other. I may observe, in support of that view that no mention is made in the Correspondence, as far as I recollect, of any means to be taken to insure that the armistice should be strictly observed by the Insurgents. I do not, however, lay much stress on these points, for the real and the insuperable objection to the Memorandum is the paragraph with which it concludes. In substance the paragraph says:—"These are the terms we offer now, provided the Insurgents will accept them; but if they do not want to accept them, they need not do so, and we will then see what more we can offer." It seemed to us that a proposition like that would be considered by the Insurgents as a direct encouragement to refuse whatever was proposed. Again, the noble Earl asked why we allowed the negotiations to go off, without making a counter-proposition. My Lords, I am happy to believe that any feeling of soreness and irritation which may have been caused by our action in the matter has long ago subsided, but at the moment there undoubtedly was a certain soreness and irritation; and considering that the three Northern Powers had accepted en bloc the propositions embodied in the Berlin Memorandum, it was hardly reasonable to expect that they would at once have turned round, thrown over the Memorandum, and accepted a proposal on a different basis, if we had had such a proposal to make. With regard to the negotiations, I may remark that I never, either in speech or in writing, discouraged further propositions on the subject. At a rather later date, it is true, I made a statement on the condition in which matters then were, and I said it seemed to me to be hopeless to expect to bring about an understanding with the Powers. It came shortly to this—that the Insurgents appeared to be determined to accept nothing short of independence, and that the Government of the Porte, while, no doubt, it would willing to grant large administrative reforms, would never consent to grant independence. Therefore, it seemed hopeless to attempt to do anything until one party or the other abated its pretensions. If the military operations resulted in favour of the Insurgents, no doubt they would have a stronger position for coming before Europe and asking for intervention in their favour; if unsuccessful, they would probably have been willing to accept something less than that which they had, in the first instance, asked for. But while one party wants independence and the other will grant almost anything short of that, but will not concede that, it seemed for the moment that no room for mediation was left. Now, my Lords, I pass on to the comment of the noble Earl on the speech which I addressed at the Foreign Office to a deputation of Members of Parliament. My noble Friend asks why my statement was not made before, and why it was not made in Parliament? With regard to the first question, I can only repeat what I said then—namely, that I thought a discussion on the subject would probably have an unfavourable effect in reference to the maintenance of peace, and that therefore it was not desirable that such a discussion should be raised as long as there was a hope of peace being maintained. But from the hour when the war was declared I felt that Parliament and the country should know as soon as possible all that could be known on the subject, and I directed all these Papers to be prepared for publication with the least possible delay. As for my not having made the statement in this House, I think it would not have been a usual course for a Minister who was not questioned and not confronted by any Motion to volunteer a general statement. As to a general discussion, in the first place, none was proposed; nor do I think it would have been desirable to commence such a discussion in this House until your Lordships were in possession of the information supplied by this Correspondence; but, of course, I knew that Parliament could not and ought not to separate without having an opportunity of going fully into the whole question. The circumstance of my statement having been elicited from me at the Foreign Office and not here was due to mere accident, because the question addressed to me came in the form of a deputation, and not in the form of a Parliamentary interpellation. If the same questions had been put to me in this House, as they were at the Foreign Office, I should of course have answered them, and in the same sense. I have nothing whatever to add to the statement I then made. Well, the noble Earl (Earl Granville) proceeded to comment on the summons of the Fleet to Besika Bay. At that time the wildest rumours were afloat as to what might or might not be the intentions of the Great Powers; and, although, as a matter of fact, the revolution which had set in at Constantinople was a bloodless and a tranquil one, yet no man could say what might at any moment occur, and it was quite on the cards that the events which led to the deposition of the late Sultan might have given rise to a sanguinary revolt. No one could, in the circumstances, foresee what fanaticism might bring about, or what might be produced by a feeling of rage or despair on the part of the population. In such a state of things it seemed to us that the presence of a British Fleet could not fail to have a satisfactory influence. It exercised a certain moral control; it also served to dispel those unfounded apprehensions which were undoubtedly entertained by a large portion of the population; and it is absolutely true that the presence of that fleet in Besika Bay was a protection to the Christian population, and tended to prevent any local outbreak. If the result of our bringing the combined fleets to Besika Bay was to increase, as I firmly believe it did, the naval influence of England, an influence which could only be used in the maintenance of peace, I cannot think that is a result of which we have any cause to be ashamed. I pass on now to almost the only other subject to which my noble Friend alluded. He has expressed his approval generally of the course of proceeding which has been adopted by Her Majesty's Government. He agrees with us in our policy of non-intervention, and he also concurs with us in thinking that, considering our antecedents and our Treaty obligations, we ought not to do anything which would precipitate the fall of the Turkish Empire. As to the main features of our policy, there is, indeed, very little difference between us and the noble Earl; but he made some remarks as to what in diplomatic phrase is called a "benevolent neutrality," to the justice of which I cannot subscribe. I should be glad to know on what particular passage of my despatch it is based. What we have endeavoured to do has been to hold the scales as equally as possible. No man can judge as to the result of what he does; but he may be allowed to know his own intention; and we have endeavoured to deal with this question in a spirit as nearly judicial as possible—to deal with both sides in the spirit of equal justice. As to the obligations imposed on us by Treaty to do what in us lies to protect the subject-races of Turkey from misgovernment, the obligation to interfere for the protection of the Empire from external attack implies a corresponding duty of control. There is an Article in the Treaty, no doubt, which seems to preclude such interference, but I read that Article as not in any way forbidding a joint intervention in the interests of humanity, the intention clearly being to guard against exclusive interference by any one Power. I will not say anything now as to the course of policy which we propose to adopt in the future. That must, in a great measure, depend on the result of the military operations which are at present going on, and upon the possibility of obtaining the co-operation of the other Powers. As to the observations which the noble Earl made with reference to autonomy, I think if he will only look at that which I have written he will find that it contains no phrase which would justify him in attributing to me the determination at which he appears to suppose I have arrived. The great difficulty in the way of autonomy is that of giving self-government to a semi-barbarous population—half Christian, half Mahomedan—who have not many ideas or interests in common. I do not mean to say that that is an insuperable difficulty, but it certainly is one of a very grave character; and I cannot help thinking it would be well as far as possible to avoid that phrase autonomy, because it seems to me to be of all phrases one of the most elastic. We shall endeavour to act impartially. We shall endeavour as far as possible to act, not in an isolated manner, but in co-operation with the other Powers. We shall do all that we can, in short, to bring about, if we can, a permanent and satisfactory settlement of the Eastern Question. I need not detain your Lord-ships any longer, because all I have to say on this point will be found pretty clearly stated in the Papers to which I have called your Lordships' attention:


observed that if much had not been said in other places which required contradiction he should have preferred not to have troubled their Lordships with any observations, feeling confidence and satisfaction at the conduct of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Any dissatisfaction that might be felt at some passages in the noble Earl's reply to the large deputation which lately went to him was removed when it was remembered that it was necessary to appease that deputation and those whom it represented—foremost amongst whom must be reckoned Mr. Bright, whose language at the time was one of the principal causes of the Emperor Nicholas crossing the Pruth before the Crimean war, and whose language now again was misleading public opinion here and in Russia. If it were a love for humanity which was actuating those persons who formed the deputation, they had a singular way of showing their benevolence; for whilst none of them paused to reflect on the criminality of the Servian Government in invading Bulgaria, notwithstanding the alleged remonstrances of the Russian and Austrian Governments, or the criminality of the Austrian Slavs, amounting to many thousands of ex-soldiers of the Gränzen regiments, who had gone across their frontier in such large numbers, they had not scrupled to encourage these men in their unprovoked invasion of the peaceful territory of a neighbouring State; and the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury), whose whole career had been actuated by humanitarian feelings, forgot these so far as to join in the clamour for the expulsion—in other words, the extermination—of four or five millions of people from Turkey in Europe—forgetting that such language from a person of his weight must embitter the present struggle, and that if the result which he professed to desire were attained it would probably be attended by the extension of all the horrors of a war of insurrection to our own peaceful territory of India. The noble Earl, when he wished to see the Russians on the Bosphorus, was also strangely forgetful of the flogging of the Polish nuns, of all the Poles that had been sent to perish in Siberia and the mines of Nertschinsk, and of the quite recent massacre of United Greek Ruthenes in Russian Poland. With regard to another noble Earl (Earl Russell), for whom he shared with their Lordships the veneration all felt for him, he would only say that he was very inconsistent, for in 1862, when Foreign Secretary, Earl Russell opposed the cession by the Porte of Belgrade and her other fortresses in Servia on the ground that It was impossible for Her Majesty's Government to ask the Sultan to concede to his enemies the means of assailing the security of his Empire. The noble Lord then referred to some figures and statements in a letter of Aly Suavy Effendy to a French newspaper, showing that more Mussulman houses than Christian houses had been burned in the district of Tatar Bazarjik by the agents for getting up an insurrection, and that the Turks would not have burned their own houses and villages. So long as the present state of affairs continued it was to be desired that, as far as concerned Turkey, Her Majesty's Government should persist in their present course. The Porte was able to meet its enemies, and no fear need be entertained that it would wish to inflict a too severe chastisement upon the Servians —for it had already used the language which was traditional to it with regard to insurrections—namely, that the people, the mass of insurgents, had been led away and deceived, and that the leaders alone were guilty. But as a well-wisher of the Austrian Empire, which was so necessary to the balance of power in Europe, he would venture to entreat the Secretary of State to use all his influence to withdraw Austria from the dangerous incline on to which she had been brought by the action of some of her subjects. Austria's worst and least valuable subjects were those that lived near the frontier of Bosnia. They were worse than Fenians, and the complaints they had been in the habit of making against Austria were more frivolous than those of the Fenians against England. In 1863 the Croats at Agram were agitating for the abolition of the Gränzen regiments, which were abolished four or five years ago; they pretended that the Italian War had cost Croatia 50,000 widows. It was hardly probable that Croatia had furnished 50,000 soldiers in that war, still less that 50,000 had been killed, and if that number had been killed they would not all be married men. These Croats also accused the Magyars of being an ignorant Asiatic horde. But the worst feature for Austria was, that the three Provinces of Dalmatia, Croatia, and Syrmia claimed to be three united kingdoms, and to be able and desirous of forming a separate and independent State. This was not the conversation of the market-place, but of persons of position. In 1869, at the time of the Vatican Council at Rome, it fell to his lot to have to collect the signatures of some of the leading Bishops to a document, the object of which was the restoration of respect for the Law of Nations. When he asked Bishop Strossmayer, the Bishop of Syrmia, to give his signature along with the other Bishops, he refused, saying, "I cannot sign that; it would impede, or clog, my action in Bosnia; I would willingly shed my blood to liberate my brothers in Turkey." This was not a fitting speech for a Christian Bishop. He was, however, one of the most contumacious opponents of the Pope and the great majority of the Council, and, though later he made his submission to the Holy See, it appears that it was only skin deep, since according to some newspaper reports, he had lately been active in promoting the invasion of Bosnia by the Croat bands—acting thus in opposition to the precepts of the Holy See against the insurrection, which had been received and obeyed by the rest of the Catholic clergy in those parts. With such dispositions on the part of its subjects, it was not surprising that Austria should have been hurried on further than was safe for herself or justifiable as regards her conduct towards her neighbour. But unfortunately the Austrian Government had allowed its neutrality to be violated in a way that could not be excused by the irregular action of its subjects in remote mountainous districts. She had also made a great blunder in closing the port of Klek to the Ottoman ships, on the pretence of observing neutrality, for the obligations of neutrality pointed the other way. For it was the Austrian Plenipotentiary, Count Buol, who in the 14th and 15th Protocols of the Treaty of Paris of 1856, described Montenegro as a Province of the Ottoman Empire, and elicited from the Russian Plenipotentiary admissions to that effect which were considered satisfactory by the other Plenipotentiaries. The Republic of Ragusa had placed itself under the protection of the Porte as early as the reign of Orkhan the second Sovereign of the Ottoman dynasty. The strips of land coming down to the sea at Klek and Sutorina were formally ceded by Venice to the Ottoman Empire for the protection of Ragusa by the Treaty of Carlovitz in 1699, when Venice also ceded Lepanto, and razed the fortifications of Prevesa. This cession was confirmed by the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718; and in the negotiations of Tilsit and Campo Formio, the dependence of Ragusa on the Ottoman Empire was recognized. Austria only acquired Ragusa by the Treaty of 1815, but she acquired it subject to the rights of third parties, and she could not make a mare clausum of the gulf at the head of which Klek stood, because one side of that gulf was formed by the peninsula of Sabioncello, which formed part of the Ragusan territory, which was a dependency of the Ottoman Empire. The desire of Austria to shut out the Turks from the use of their port of Klek had, however, been due as much to commercial as to political motives, for if the port of Klek were open it would afford ingress and an outlet to goods for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which at present had to pass through Austrian custom-houses in Dalmatia. But since the Austrian and Russian Governments both professed to have used all their influence with Servia to prevent her from invading Bulgaria, those Governments could not, with any show of justice, step in to prevent the natural consequences of the Servian rebellion, nor show their disappointment at its ill success, without adopting the acts of their subjects who were carrying on what was called the insurrection of Turkey, and of which they must be supposed to repudiate the responsibility. In his opinion, the safest course for the Secretary of State to pursue was to act as he had done with regard to the Berlin Memorandum, and to keep out of Conferences.


regretted that the House had heard from the noble Earl the Secretary of State no expressions of sympathy either with those feelings of our common humanity, or our common Christianity, which would seem to be involved in the question under discussion. The noble Earl professed to attempt to take a judicial position between the two parties; but he had not told the House on what principles of justice he would feel bound to decide, or in what manner he proposed to act towards a rule which was, perhaps, the most brutal that had ever disgraced the earth. The country had shown most positively that it would not have any fresh Crimean War, with all the misfortunes and sacrifices with which that war was identified, while it had a certain amount of jealousy of the Russian power in the Black Sea. Beyond that, however, there was a strong feeling of horror and indignation against these violations of the laws of humanity and philanthropy; and when it came to know the truth with regard to the atrocities of the Turks in Bulgaria—the thousands of men and women massacred, the hundreds of children mutilated or sold for slaves—and if it should turn out that the Government had, in any way, supported the Power that had committed these atrocities, there would be such a feeling of indignation excited as would be dangerous to its own stability. The noble Earl said that it was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to interfere by force of arms either on behalf of the Turks or of the Servians, but he had not told them what he would do if some other Power interfered on behalf of the Insurgents. If there should be such an interference, and the Government, either by diplomatic notes or threats, or force of arms, should prevent such an interference, it would be held by the country to be action in support of the Turkish Government, with all the atrocities of which it had been now and aforetime guilty, and of which it would always be guilty so long as it had power over Christians. The excitement such a state of things would arouse in the country would not easily be pacified. Every Church in England, whether High or Low, and every chapel, of whatever sect, would all unite in protesting against the power of England being made use of to support such a blood-stained and savage rule.


said, that he agreed with the noble Lord who opened the debate (Lord Campbell) as to the importance of the Treaties of March 30 and April 15, 1856; but he would have been glad if, in framing his Resolution, he had given more distinct utterance to the obligations under which the Porte rested with respect to its Christian subjects. It seemed to him that this country, in common with the other Powers who were parties to the Treaty of 1856, was entitled to expect that the Porte should treat its Christian subjects with justice and moderation, and should adopt a system of administrative reform, which would remove the just causes of dissatisfaction and complaint which now disturbed not only the Christian, but also the Mussulman races under its rule. It was to be hoped that the Porte, if successful in the present war, would not seek to modify or set aside the privileges which Servia had heretofore been allowed to enjoy. Turkey, indeed, might well be satisfied with the penalty which, if defeated, the Prince and the people of Servia would have to pay for their wanton and unprovoked aggression, without seeking to impose upon them other penalties which would infallibly provoke discussion and objection on the part of the other Treaty Powers. Allusion had been made to the 9th Article of the Treaty of 1856, in which it was said that the communication of the Hatti Humaioun to the Powers gave them no right of interference in the relations between the Sultan and his subjects; but the first clause of that Article recorded the constant solicitude of the Sultan for all classes of his subjects without distinction of religion or race, and specifically his generous intentions towards the Christian population of his Empire; and so far amounted to a distinct engagement on the part of the Sultan. From the Papers now before the House it was clear that, notwithstanding the many grievances under which the Christian population of European Turkey undoubtedly labour, they would not have risen in arms against the authority of the Sultan had they not been instigated to do so, directly or indirectly, by foreign agency. But while they deplored, as all must do, the ruin, misery, and loss of life which had overwhelmed the Christian population in certain parts of European Turkey, they could not conceal from themselves how great a share in producing them must, as set forth in the Correspondence, be attributed to the wanton outrages committed by bands of Insurgents on their peaceable fellow-Christians in order to compel them, from want of the necessaries of life, and of their homes laid waste by their co-religionists, to take part in the insurrection, in which otherwise they had no desire to engage. Neither must they ignore the fact of outrages no less wanton having been committed on Mussulmans by insurrectionary bands; or the necessary consequence that unprovoked outrage could not fail to engender retaliation on the part of the sufferers, and that a conflict of race thus commenced must be inevitably stained with revolting atrocities and cruelties. Her Majesty's Government appeared to have spared no pains to impress on the Porte the necessity of repressing, in the strongest manner, the wanton and vindictive cruelties which had disgraced their Mussulman perpetrators; and it was but fair to say that the Porte had shown no reluctance to control and chastise the infuriated Mussulmans of the Northern Provinces, who had been connected with outrages on the Christian subjects of the Sultan. It was not, however, only the immediate repression of the conflict of extermination going on before their eyes with which they had to deal, but rather to provide against the recurrence of such a conflict, by inducing the Porte, if it desired to stand well with the civilized world, and specifically with this country—if it desired still to retain the benefits assured to Turkey by the blood and treasure of her allies so lavishly spent in the Crimean War, and by the subsequent guarantees of the Treaties of 1856—no longer to confine itself to illusive promises of administrative reform, but to set itself steadily, earnestly, and effectually to work, with a determination to relieve its subjects of all races from grievances which pressed equally on all; and more especially to watch over the Christian subjects of the Sultan, to secure them from a renewal of the injustice and persecution of which they had been the victims, and to protect them from wrong and violence, whether directed against them by the malevolence of their Mussulman fellow-subjects, or by oppression and exactions on the part of local Mussulman authorities. As regarded the course which, as shown in the Correspondence, Her Majesty's Government had generally pursued in these matters, he was not prepared to offer any unfriendly criticism; but he would rather express satisfaction at their having so pointedly, though in moderate and cautious terms, exposed the extravagant and obnoxious pretension under which certain Powers had assumed to themselves a right to lay down a policy in matters in regard to which other Powers had, under Treaty, a common interest with themselves, and had thereupon called on those other Powers to adopt and enforce the conclusion at which they had arrived. In the melancholy state of affairs now prevailing in European Turkey, any attempt on the part of Her Majesty's Government at the present moment to put an end to it would probably be worse than useless. Still, while employing their utmost influence at Constantinople to induce the Porte to prevent or suppress any general outbreak of fanaticism on the part of the Mussulmans, which might aggravate the calamities of the Christian subjects of the Sultan, Her Majesty's Government might well declare, in the most distinct terms, their desire and readiness, whenever a suitable opportunity offered itself, to exert their good offices in order to promote a return of peace and to heal the injuries of that most calamitous and destructive warfare, so that hereafter relations of good neighbourhood might prevail between the Christian and Mussulman subjects of the Sultan. Endeavours made at this moment prematurely and ostentatiously to effect a reconciliation between contending interests would, in all probability, only add fuel to the existing flame of insurrection. The time might, however, come, and, indeed, was probably not far distant, when the insurgent Provinces might moderate their demands, and when Her Majesty's Government might thereupon feel themselves warranted in recommending the Porte to accede to them.


said, he was inclined to think that the character of the present struggle in Turkey was not yet quite appreciated. It did not appear to be a conflict between ordinary belligerents, but was rather the culminating point of an antagonism of races which had been accumulating for ages. He dissented from the opinion that that movement had been precipitated from without. If there was anything more clearly shown than another by the Papers before them it was that that was an internal conflict. A great responsibility was coming upon us. If the Turkish Government had been unable to put down the isolated efforts of a small handful of insurgents, what was the prospect before it when two military masses, at all events, were in action against it? The Turkish Government had not now to deal, as it had a few years ago, with the goat-herds of the Morea or the traders of the Archipelago, but with mountain races trained to mountain warfare, and, more than that, with one organized community, one Principality, which had shown that it possessed within itself elements of progress, and which had held its people in hand under great exasperation. When it was asked what should be done in the event of intervention by another Power occurring in that contest, his answer was that the Power that had proved equal to influence the other Power—the Power which had its iron-clad fleet in Besika Bay was perfectly able to deal with that question. England was, for the moment, mistress of the situation. She had shown no uncertain policy; and he trusted that when the confusion of events brought up new phases of action, whoever wielded English power would not hesitate to act in a large spirit and in the interests of freedom. Without reference to Andrassy Notes or Berlin Memorandums, let the Ambassadors of the Great Powers be invited to participate in the conclusions at which a Conference might arrive; and with them there should be united the Representatives of the maritime States of Europe, which, although they had not yet been named in debate, had no less interest in the settlement of that question than those Great Powers themselves.


I regret to be obliged to ask the indulgence of the House for a few minutes; but it was not to be supposed that a question of this kind could be immediately disposed of. And, first, let me return my thanks to the noble Lord the former Under Secretary at the Foreign Office, and the noble Lord who has just retired from the House, for the qualified support which they have given to the Motion. The noble Earl the former Secretary of State (Earl Granville) said that it dissatisfied him, but did not proceed to specify a single point on which he could object to it. When the noble Earl is dissatisfied with any Resolution, and yet is utterly unable to impugn it, or overthrow the grounds on which it stands, it clearly has a good deal to recommend it. If the noble Earl thought the terms of the Resolution badly chosen, while its sense was just, why could he not have offered an Amendment, which, had it been consistent with the general idea, I should not have resisted when it came from such a quarter. The noble Earl entered into a long defence of the proceedings in 1871 for the revision of the Treaty of March 30, 1856. And as they had scarcely been alluded to to-night, he certainly betrayed an uneasy conscience in defending them. I now come to the noble Earl the Secretary of State, who told the House in reference to what had fallen from me, that he had heard an after-dinner speech in favour of his health, when he desired to hear a criticizm of his policy. My Lords, I never listened to a phrase in either House of Parliament more thoroughly devoid of generosity and delicacy. Is anyone to be the object of derisive taunts, because he has not dwelt on the errors of the noble Earl, when a question wholly separate and different, when a question much more practical and grave, was brought before your Lordships? The question before the House was and is, whether or not to adopt a Resolution tending to the repose of Europe and the maintenance of Treaties? And the noble Earl complains because in restricting myself to this high and important ground, I have not touched on the reproaches to which the Government are open. What degree of accusation does he call for? Supposing I admitted that for the union of the three Powers in October, 1874, the inertness of the Foreign Office is exclusively responsible, would he be satisfied? Supposing I admitted—as I did last Session—that the loss of Austria as an ally may be attributed to his proceedings, would he be contented? Supposing I went further, and remarked that he ought not to have participated in the mission of the Consuls to Mostar, and thus encouraged the insurgents, would he acquit me? If I advanced another step, and urged that he ought never to have subscribed to the Andrassy Note, whose consequences are now before the world, should I respond to that appetite for criticizm which it appears that in my former speech I left unsatisfied this evening? Or must I go so far as to maintain that, while he holds his present office, there is very little chance, in my opinion, that the balance of the world will be restored, or the reforms essential to the cause of Ottoman integrity established? I shall if he requires it. My Lords, in asking and expecting me to withdraw the Resolution, the noble Earl has shown but little penetration when, to speak against it, he was driven to the frivolous and feeble pretext that it contained expressions of defiance, a view which nobody who read its terms could possibly accede to. It was not lightly framed, it has not been precipitately offered. To withdraw it would not be consistent with the duty which I owe to others out-of-doors, or to myself, or to your Lordships. The Government must either negative, accept, or move the Previous Question on it. If you negative it, you proclaim to the world that you are hostile to the European races of the Porte, and to the Treaties which enable you to come forward on the subject. If you move the Previous Question, you place the House of Lords in an ambiguous and not a satisfactory position. Whatever course is taken, the noble Earl will have no more success in urging me to withdraw the Resolution than he has had as yet in urging the three Powers to withdraw from one another.

And, a question being stated thereupon, the previous question was put—"Whether the said Question shall be now put?"

Resolved in the negative.

House adjourned at half-past Eight o'clock, till To-morrow half-past Four o'clock.