rose to put a Question, having given Notice to the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. What passed on Monday had led to a general impression that the noble Earl was, under any circumstances, opposed to the advance of the Fleet towards Constantinople. Its advance might be necessary—he (Lord Campbell) thought it was necessary—to guard honour, to protect interests, and avert a state of things which hostilities would follow. If the Government was unable to advance it, the country was deprived of its executive. He wished to know whether the noble Earl had been correctly understood upon the subject?
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I think the Question put by my noble Friend is of rather a peculiar character, but I will answer it to the best of ray ability. I certainly never asserted that under no conceivable circumstances would it be right or proper for the British Fleet to be sent up to Constantinople. Obviously, it is conceivable by me or by anybody else that circumstances might arise in which the sending our Fleet to Constantinople would be quite right; and in which, without in any manner endangering the general peace, it might be for the interests of humanity that such a step should be taken. When 690 my noble Friend asks me to define what the circumstances are which would afford such justification—
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I am glad I was mistaken, because, had my noble Friend asked me such a Question, I must have declined to answer it.
§ EARL STANHOPE
wished to ask one or two Questions of his noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, relating to the rumoured armistice and terms of peace. The situation changed so much from day to day that it was desirable they should have from Government the fullest information of what was going on. They had had presented to them a great mass of Papers relating to the Eastern Question; and he thought that anyone who had read that portion of the diplomatic Correspondence which had hitherto been published would be of opinion that while the despatches of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary were clear, direct, and intelligible, those which had proceeded from the Russian Government, and also certain of the verbal statements of the Russian Government, were eminently unsatisfactory and evasive. In proof of the latter proposition he need only refer to the reply made by Baron Jomini, on the part of Prince Gortchakoff, to Lord Augustus Loftus, in reference to the intentions of the Russian Government with respect to Gallipoli, which was—"The Russian Government have no intention of directing their military operations on Gallipoli unless Turkish regular troops should concentrate there." Again, a short time ago, when the Porte asked for peace, the Russian Government, instead of sending a telegraphic message in reply, sent messengers who were 10 days on the journey, and all this time the Russian Army was advancing towards Constantinople. Their Lordships would have also read in a despatch published to-day, and dated 29th January, from Mr. Layard, that he had received an assurance from the Grand Vizier to the effect that no delay on the part of the Turkish authorities could have been possible. Really, therefore, what in the name of British truth and straightforwardness, he asked, did all this mean? Did it mean that the offer of a crushed Power for an armistice and negotiations for peace had not been acceded to, or, if agreed to, why not acted 691 upon? The facts stated in that telegram were very strange. He begged to ask his noble Friend, whether Her Majesty's Government had received any information respecting the conclusion of an armistice between the belligerents in the East? Also, whether the question of an occupation of Constantinople, either by the Russians alone or conjointly with one of the other great Powers, had recently arisen in the negotiations for peace?
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, in answer to the first part of the Inquiry of my noble Friend—whether Her Majesty's Government have any information as to the conclusion of an armistice? —I can only answer in the negative. I have no information of the kind; and having seen the Russian Ambassador about two hours ago, I found that he was equally uninformed. I read a communication addressed to him direct from his Government, and in it the delay was unexplained. On the other hand, as your Lordships know from Mr. Layard's telegram, to which my noble Friend has referred, the Turkish Government say that more than a week has elapsed without official information, that the delay does not rest with them, and that they are unable to explain the cause of it. Under these circumstances, I am not in a position to give any information or offer any opinion; but I do not suppose we shall have to wait long for an explanation of what certainly is a most perplexing matter. With regard to the second Question of my noble Friend, I must answer it also in the negative. No proposition has been made by the Russian Government for diplomatic sanction to a Russian occupation of Constantinople, and no proposal has been made for a joint occupation of that city.
THE EARL OF PEMBROKE AND MONTGOMERY,
in rising to ask, Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government, in the coming negotiations, to insist on adequate measures being taken for the security of the lives and property of the Mussulman population of European Turkey? said: My Lords, Before putting the Question which stands in my name, I hope I may be allowed, by the indulgence of the House, to say a few words on the matter to which it relates. I do not think I need make much apology for bringing this question 692 forward at this particular moment. It is one which must be raised now if it is to be raised to any purpose; and I think I may plead, besides, that it is not, in one sense, a political question. It has nothing directly to do with "British interests," "Russian ambition," "the support of Turkey," or any such dangerous and inflammable matters. It is in itself a simple question of humanity, upon which it would be perfectly reasonable to appeal to Russia herself, as a civilized nation, for co-operation and support. A few days ago, I hoped and believed that the necessity for putting this Question had ceased to exist. The terms of peace, as first rumoured through the newspapers, seemed right and reasonable enough. Christian Governors were to be appointed in the European Provinces of Turkey; due measures were to be taken to afford complete protection to the Christian population, but, apart from this, these Provinces were to remain a part of the Turkish Empire. Some such arrangement would have been, I think, a just one. It would have fulfilled the avowed object of the war; it would have given security to both Christian and Mussulman. But it seems now that a very different arrangement is in contemplation—an arrangement which will certainly free the Christian from Turkish misrule, but which will afford to the Mussulman population no security whatever. I apprehend that no one in this House is inclined to make light of the sufferings that the Mussulman population of Turkey have undergone during the last year, or the intense suffering and peril of thousands of them at this moment; so it will be unnecessary for me to inflict upon your Lordships the loathsome details of the massacres that have taken place, or the still more terrible particulars of the agonies of those who have preferred the horrors of flight to the tender mercies of the Bulgarians and their allies. It will be enough to say that at this moment nearly the entire Mussulman population of European Turkey is undergoing every conceivable form of human misery. I would rather ask your Lordships to look forward, and consider what can be done to enable these unfortunate creatures to return in security to their homes and property when the war is at an end. This is not a matter that can be left to take care of itself. The Bulgarian may 693 have all the virtues with which he has lately been credited; but he does not exercise them towards the Turk. Those who expect to see the Christian Slav as tolerant towards an alien race and an alien creed as the unspeakable Turk will, I fear, be disappointed. And Turkey, under the arrangements that are now foreshadowed, will be very weak; not very able—probably very unwilling—-to assert the rights of Mussulmen in the autonomous Provinces, for fear of giving an excuse to her ambitious and implacable neighbours for a fresh series of aggressions. Nothing but pressure from without—nothing but proper safeguards devised and firmly insisted on by the Powers of Europe, will make it possible for these refugees to return to their homes and obtain their civil rights under Christian rule. I do not wish to sneer at Humanitarianism— indeed, this question has a purely humanitarian object; but I must say that, from the very beginning of these troubles, I have felt it to be a most grave reproach against those who raised the anti-Turkish cry in 1876—not merely that they were reckless, that they were hounding on Russia to a war that would cause more sin and suffering than half-a-century of Turkish misrule—but that they were reckless that by so doing they wore inevitably exposing the whole Mussulman population to the risk of expulsion or extermination. They were reckless then, and they are apathetic now. The very men who insisted that every crime committed in Bulgaria should be registered and reported home by Her Majesty's Consuls are now silent and apparently indifferent to the sufferings that the Turks have already endured, and careless of horrors that may be still to come. We have most of us read this morning a highly ingenious speech on the Eastern Question, delivered by Mr. Gladstone. In that elaborate speech I could not find one word of horror at, or commiseration for, the misery they are now enduring. The only mention of it by any of that Party, that I can call to mind, was when one spoke lately of a "baptism of blood." "A drowning" would have been a more appropriate expression. Putting aside, as unworthy of a serious answer, the small band of fanatics who regard this question solely from the crusader's point of view, and care nothing for any sufferings of the 694 infidel so long as the Christian triumphs, I think there are two great mistakes at the bottom of this apathy. The first is a vague idea that these unfortunate people are in some way or another so connected with the perpetrators of the famous atrocities as to be unworthy of protection or assistance. There are no grounds for believing this is true of one in a hundred of them. The other consists in the Darwinian view of the question, mentioned the other day in the debate on the Address by the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll). The view that this unfortunate race is being destroyed in consequence of their inferiority—not merely by the forcible and most terrible means that we see at work, but by some subtle and mysterious law of Nature at the back of them which it is impossible for us, or anyone else, to resist or avert. Now I want to say one or two things about this Darwinian view. In the first place, it seems to be morally a dangerous view—a view that would justify a treatment of lower races to which we are always too prone, and which I am sure the noble Duke would be the very first to denounce. And I do not think it can be a very safe method of studying such matters. When we look back on past history, and see how great nations have sprung apparently out of nothing; how other nations have, when apparently in the fullness of their vigour, suddenly withered and faded away, I think he will be a bold man who will undertake to prophesy the ultimate destiny of any European or Asiatic race. But, apart from all this, supposing that the Darwinian theory is a safe and proper guide to the study of contemporary history, does it apply in the present case? Is it true that this degree of superiority of the Bulgarian over the Turk exists? Is it the fact that the Bulgarian, by virtue of this superiority, intellectual, moral, or physical, has exemplified the Darwinian theory by becoming the governing race and improving the Turk off the face of the earth? Why, my Lords, a few years ago, before the angelic nature of the Bulgarian was discovered, it was almost invariably held by those who visited the country that the Osmanli was the equal or superior of any of the subject races in everything except monogamy and the commercial instinct. And, as to the other question, we all know 695 perfectly well that the Turk has been conquered—after a desperate struggle, in which he has given the strongest proofs of national vitality—not by the superiority of the Bulgarian, not by any subtle and mysterious law of Nature, but by a military force which might have overrun Italy, or even England, if it could have been landed on our shores. I should like to know whether, in the event of such a misfortune taking place, the noble Duke, or anyone else, would attribute it to the action of the Darwinian theory? When I hear the subject treated in this pseudo - scientific manner—when I hear people indulging in this sort of slip-shod fatalism—I feel reminded of nothing so much as the somewhat ribald lines of Lowell, the American poet—Parson Wilbur, he calls all these arguments lies,Says they're nothing in the world but just fee-faw-fum,And that all this grand talk of the Destinies Is half of it ignorance, t'other half fum.I need not say that these lines are not intended to have any personal significance. I think these poor wretches have the strongest claim upon the sympathy and assistance of this nation; for what is the cry that we have heard throughout England for the last two years?—"We must not support Turkey, because by so doing we make ourselves responsible for the misgovernment of the Christians." If there was truth in that cry, and our Government partially endorsed it by their policy, must there not also be some truth in its converse—"If we assent to the destruction of Turkey, we make ourselves responsible for the fate of its Mussulman population, whose solo security for life or property lies in the supremacy of the Porte." I think that this is a very strong claim, and I earnestly hope that in the coming Congress our Government will see that proper measures are taken to enable the Mussulman population to return to, and remain in, their homes. I cannot conceive it to be a matter of insuperable difficulty. It is not a question on which the interests and jealousies of the European Powers are likely to clash; and it will not, I fear, be a very large question. Many of them will be dead; many more, too, heartbroken, too terrified of the very name of Christian rule, to make any attempt to return and claim 696 their own. But those who wish to return ought to be enabled to do so; and in obtaining for them the necessary security I am sure Government will find the country at its back. I will now put the Question that stands in my name.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
My Lords, if it were possible under the forms of Parliament to second a Question as one would second a Motion, I should say—"I rise to second the Question of the noble Earl who has just sat down." That Question involves matter of much more interest and importance than one might gather even from the speech of the noble Earl himself. My Lords, that Question implies, in the first place, and in the strongest possible language, that we have the right of protectorate over the subject-populations of Turkey. In that I entirely concur, and I rejoice to hear it from the other side of the House. The next proposition involved in the Question is that this right of protectorate and its corresponding duty is not a duty or a right founded upon Treaty, but upon the general principles of humanity. We have the right of protectorate over the Christian population by Treaty, but we have none by Treaty over the Mussulmans; therefore the Question implies, quite apart from Treaty, that England has a general right of protectorate over the whole of these people. I only wish that admission had come from the front Bench and not from the second. I do not expect to hear anything of the kind from the Government—especially from the cautious lips of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I will say for myself and those who generally act with me, that we desire good government and protection of the lives, property, and honour of the Mussulman population as well as the Christian. My noble Friend —if he will allow me to call him so, for I had the privilege of friendship with those from whom he derives his name— taunted us with not having expressed any sympathy until now with the Mussulman population of Turkey. Did it never occur to him that it was a taunt which might be turned upon himself? Has he till this moment expressed any great concern for the Christian population, when it was the Christians who were underneath and the Mussulmans who were above? I admit the right of every man, whatever be his religious be- 697 lief, to claim the privileges which belong to every man of every nation under every Government under the sun. But, my Lords, if my noble Friend means to tell me or to tell the House that under the Empire of Turkey the Christians and Mussulmans have been equally oppressed—
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
I am very glad to hear it. But my noble Friend did say that more misery had been inflicted in this war than would have been inflicted by half a century of peace. What I complain of is that noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen will not read the evidence which is placed before them on this subject, which their own Government places at their disposal. They road books such as Burnaby's Ride to Khiva, and stuff of that sort. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, I read this book with interest myself, as the account of a spirited ride by a spirited officer; but certainly I should not go to it for my information respecting the condition of the Christian population of Turkey; and what I complain of is that people will not read the official evidence which the Government places on the Table of this House. With regard to the question of the comparative incidence of the Government of Turkey upon the Mussulman and non-Mussulman population, it so happens that there was laid on the Table of this House towards the middle of last Session a thin Blue Book—very small indeed—so small that any of your Lordships could read it in an hour; but which gives complete and conclusive evidence as to the character of the Turkish rule in these Provinces. It is a collection of the Consular Reports on the condition of the various Provinces of Turkey during the 20 years which have elapsed from the Crimean War down to the commencement of the present war. This evidence is wholly unconnected with the Bulgarian massacres — wholly unconnected with everything which can bear in a Party character on this question. I will from this Book show to the House what is the condition of that Government, what has been its conduct upon the subject-population, and what its effect upon the Mussulman population. The first witness I will call into Court is Sir William Fenwick Williams. I will read 698 from a despatch which Sir Fenwick Williams wrote to Lord Clarendon just before he undertook that defence of Ears which will ever remain a noble specimen of British bravery, skill, and endurance. This despatch is dated from Erzeroum, the capital of Armenia—that Province of Turkey which some of the friends of the Turks in England regard with so much jealousy. Let us see what is the condition of Armenia, according to Sir Fenwick Williams. He says—The whole body of cavasses, whether employed as police in the capital or other cities and towns of the Empire, or in the Provinces as the agents through whom the revenue is collected, constitutes an engine of tyranny perhaps unequalled in the world. It is needless for me to assure your Lordships that no language can pourtray the infamy which characterizes the life and character of this body of men; the scenes of their exploits lie in the villages, and more especially Christian, though it must be stated the Mussulman cultivator does not escape their insolence, extortion, and rapine. Throughout the vast extent of this Empire over which I have travelled I have invariably found the last stroke of ruin inflicted on a crumbling village to have been perpetrated by a cavass. The Mussulman villagers might, and possibly did, remonstrate, but woe to the Christian serf who opened his mouth before the tax-gathering and tyrannical cavass. I feel convinced that the Allies who have fought and bled to keep the Russians out of these fertile countries will not allow their triumph to be a barren one to the unhappy and oppressed Christian, nor to his fellow-subject, the Mussulman cultivator.That was the account of them by Sir Fenwick Williams in 1856. [A noble LORD: Twenty-two years ago!] Yes, twenty-two years ago—and I suppose the noble Baron who makes that observation has some reason to suppose that things have mended since. I have evidence to the contrary. Here is a despatch, dated 13 years later, dated from the same place, from Consul Taylor to Lord Clarendon. This is what he says—It was dispiriting on my onward route to Kaghizman, through Shuragel, the ancient Shirai, formerly the richest and most populous district in Armenia, to pass so many spots marking the sites of towns and villages, some of them only recently deserted, but now encumbered with their ruins or the mean huts of the indigent population that remained. On many of these deserted sites the massive fabrics of early Armenian churches had successfully resisted the ravages of time and the efforts of man, urged by an implacable hostility to everything Christian, to destroy them.A few pages further the same Consul says— 699The Kurds belong to the Hassananlee and Millikanlee tribes living in the vicinity of Akhlat, Boolanik, and Malazgerd, under the chieftainship of Soofie Agha, Khaznadar, and Eeseh Oghli. The depredations of their dependants, encouraged by, and proceeds shared in by them, are manifest all around. Deserted villages, ruined churches, crumbling mosques, abandoned fields meet the eye everywhere. The ruthless conduct of these ruffians, rendered bolder by the feebleness of the Executive, has rendered what ought to be a paradise a desert. People who formerly possessed 30 to 40 buffaloes, besides sheep and cows, at the same time working ten ploughs, are now begging their bread; and within the last two years the Christian villages of Medzk Kosthiyan, Tapa Vank, Jizroke, Khulleek, Pogkey, and Sivratore have been utterly abandoned by the Armenians, owing to the depredations of the people mentioned above.That is the account of one of our Consuls in 1869; but there is one later still in this little and instructive Blue Book. We have a Report from Consul Zohrab, and his evidence goes down to 1875. He says, in a despatch to the noble Earl who is now at the head of the Foreign Office, dated July 19, 1875—The real condition of this part of the Sultan's Dominions is, I fear, so little known, that the cases I expose may seem exaggerated. I have, however, reported authenticated facts. Were I to report all the cases of cruelty and oppression which have come to my knowledge, but which I have not been able to investigate, but one conclusion could be deduced from them—that fanaticism, cruelty, and dishonesty are the only incentives to action which move the men who are sent to administer this unhappy country. Unfortunately, such a conclusion would be the correct one. Bribery alone can now obtain an appointment; honesty and administrative capacity are not required; the ability to pay is the barometer of a man's ability to do duty. The country is consequently overrun with a crowd of hungry, unprincipled, ignorant men, whose only object is to enrich themselves as far as they can. They are surrounded by satellites, who work for them and for themselves. Extortion is the every-day work of these men. I believe but few of the officials coming from Constantinople are imbued with fanatical ideas; generally they are very indifferent, but as they cannot enrich themselves without the aid of the influential Mussulman classes they are obliged, in return, to permit cruelty and oppression towards the Christians.This same Consul, Mr. Zohrab, a few days later, in a despatch addressed to the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), speaks of an atrocious case of the robbery of a daughter from a Christian family. He draws the noble Earl's attention to two cases. He says—I have brought two cases to your Excellency's notice. In the first case a girl was forcibly taken from her home by the authorities, 700 and for her courageous adherence to her faith she has been punished by a sentence of perpetual exile and separation from her parents, her safety being the untenable plea of the authorities. The second case this despatch reports.The Consul goes on to say—It is clear that any Mussulman can now legally rob Christian children from their parents, and, with the aid of the authorities, forcibly convert them to Islamism. Christians, therefore, are no longer safe, and Europeans are eqully in peril. A Turk has merely to go and swear before an authority that he heard some member of an European family declare a desire to embrace Islamism to plunge that family in grief and trouble.And that takes place in the Province which you are anxious to keep under the dominion of the Turk; and you speak as if it were the most terrible misfortune in the world that this Government should be brought to trial. Before I pass from Armenia I should like to relate a case which I learned from reading this Blue Book. A man who was, I think, originally a sausage maker, raised himself to the position of a contractor to the Turkish Government, where he amassed an enormous fortune. This man undertook to rebuild at his own cost a large part of the town of Erzeroum, and also to rebuild at his own cost one of their own mosques. That man became the victim of a Mahometan conspiracy. A body offanatics, with the Chief Justice of Erzeroum at their head, made up their minds to burn all the new buildings which that man had erected. They set fire more than once to the quarter of the town which he had erected; but after each successive burning he proceeded to rebuild with extraordinary energy and perseverance; but very soon after, when this poor man was sitting in the streets of Erzeroum, he was approached by a man, who shot him dead in the open day with a pistol, and the crime has to this day never been punished. It was instituted by a fanatical society of Mahometans, who were jealous of his success. My Lords, these things are disgraceful; and yet we are told that the Turkish Government is a Government which should be upheld. What is the natural effect of conduct such as I have described? Why, that the Armenians are becoming Russians—that the Russian feeling among them is rapidly increasing. No doubt they would be very glad to have a Government of their own, and I 701 do not say that they wish to remain under Russia as the best thing in the world; but they do desire to come under Russia rather than to remain under the Turks. I submit that the evidence of these two men, Consuls Taylor and Zohrab, proves to demonstration that when the Russians advance in Armenia they will be welcomed by the great mass of the population. I now pass to another part of Turkey—to the European Provinces. In doing so, let us suppose that such an occurrence as the massacre of Batak, for example, was a mere accident attendant upon the putting down of an insurrection. I am not talking of this war— of the causes of it, or of the probable consequences of it. I am speaking of the permanent Government of Turkey. Well, then, with regard to Bosnia, we have heard a good deal as to the evidence of Consul Holmes —and in referring to that gentleman I may make this general observation, that the position of men accredited from this country to a Government which is thoroughly barbarous and entirely rotten, like that of Turkey, is somewhat peculiar. It is so peculiar that you may almost get from any of our Consuls two contradictory views—the one in violent abuse of the Turk, and the other in defence of him. They look upon themselves as accredited to a Government which is entirely barbarous and rotten, and they think themselves free to comment upon the proceedings of that Government until it is attacked by others—then they turn to defend it. Consuls in Turkey may be compared to vultures who are feeding on a carcase, but who every now and then stop to fight with each other, and when they are fighting with each other, they appear as though they were defending the carcase. That is exactly the position of our Consuls; and when you want to get at the truth you must take their evidence, not when they are fighting with the Consuls of other European States, but when they come voluntarily forward and give their unbiassed and spontaneous testimony. Considering what has been said of Consul Holmes since the war broke out—considering the strong manner in which he has taken what may be called a Turkish side—I confess I was amazed in reading this little Blue Book. Referring to a period when there was no particular fighting going on between the 702 Consuls, I find from it that immediately before the war Consul Holmes gives the most emphatic evidence as to the horrible condition of Bosnia, and shows that the Mussulmans were in a perpetual state of conspiracy against the Christians of Bosnia. Writing on the 24th of February, 1871, he says—The unnecessary delay and neglect, to the prejudice often of innocent persons, the open bribery and corruption, the invariable and unjust favour shown to Mussulmans in all cases between Turks and Christians which distinguish the Turkish administration of what is called 'justice' throughout the Empire cannot fail to suggest the question, What would be the lot of foreigners in Turkey were the European Powers to give up the Capitulations? I am convinced that their position in the Provinces, at all events, would be intolerable, and that they would quit the country to a man, while the outcry and feeling in Europe against Turkey would ultimately cause her ruin. The universal ignorance, corruption, and fanaticism of all classes preclude all hope of an efficient administration of justice for at least another generation.That is not the only passage to the same effect in Consul Holmes's Report. There is this curious circumstance as to Consul Holmes. Sir Henry Elliot was at that time our Ambassador in Constantinople, and he does not seem to have approved of the Report of Consul Holmes to which I refer. In regard to that point, I may say that I do not generally agree with the principle of choosing men to represent England abroad who are favourable, upon the whole, to the Government to which they are accredited; but I am bound to say that some of our recent Ministers at Constantinople—and eminently our Representative there now —have taken a more zealous part in defending what is indefensible than was necessary to their position. However that may be, the Report of Consul Holmes goes to Sir Henry Elliot; and Sir Henry, referring to a remark in it as to corrupt Turkish officials, says to him in effect—"You ought not to use this sort of language unless you are prepared to give names." But Consul Holmes stands to his guns, and he writes back—"You ask me to give you the names of the men who are corrupt. You had better ask me to give you the names of the men who are honest. There is hardly such a thing as an honest official in Turkey." The same Consul also says that in any law case in which Mussulmans are concerned against Christians, there is no possibility of getting justice for the 703 Christians. I pass on to Syria. And here again you have distinct evidence from our Consuls that the fanaticism of the Mussulman population has been rapidly on the increase in recent years, and especially since the political submergence of France. I do not know exactly why, but we all know that France has always assumed a particular right of protectorate over the Christians in Syria. It may be a mere matter of feeling, but we are all aware that the French are very much governed by sentiment, and your Lordships must have seen, from evidence laid before you, that our intervention in Syria, in 1860–61, was very much due to the insistance of the French Government. At the present moment, however, Syria is not under the watchful eye of France as it was before, and the result is the state of matters which the Reports of our Consuls disclose. Our Consuls at Damascus and Aleppo describe the state of things in Syria as daily growing worse. As regards Bulgaria, when Her Majesty's Government sent Mr. Baring to inquire what was going on there, such were his discoveries that he wrote in his despatch—"The result of my inquiries is that the condition of the Christians in Bulgaria is intolerable." I now pass from Bosnia and Bulgaria to Greece. With regard to the Provinces of Turkey closely bordering upon Greece, I agree with what was said the other night by my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Derby), in answer to a Question asked by Lord Emly, that no Government could possibly wish to bring about an extension of the area of this dreadful war. At the same time, there is as great a responsibility in advising people not to rebel against Turkey as there is in giving contrary counsel. It is all very well to say that peace is the interest of all the world; but I agree with the Prime Minister when he recently said, in alluding to a remark of my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby), that "the greatest of all British interests is peace," that that is a passage of rhetoric and not a maxim of politics. I deny that war is the greatest of all human evils, and I say you must compare it with the permanent condition of the country in respect of which an insurrection is spoken of. What, then, as to the Turkish Provinces contiguous to Greece? Most ample proof of the condition of things in Epirus is contained in the Report of 704 Consul Stuart addressed to the Foreign Office in 1873, but published not very long ago. Until I read that Report I had no conception that matters were so bad in the Greek Provinces of European Turkey. The Report shows that there is great inequality before the law in the case of Mussulmans and Christians, the inequality being much in favour of the former, and based, in the view of Consul Stuart, on "a fixed intention to keep back the Christian." We have it from Consul Stuart's reply that in Epirus the so-called "equality" of Mussulman and Christian evidence in courts of justice is a mere catchword, and has never been anything else. We have it that the country is governed by Mussulmans, who are armed, that the Christians are unarmed, that their evidence is not received in courts of justice, and that acts of violence and spoliation are not un-frequently heard of, and are almost always connived at by the Government authorities. We also have it from Mr. Stuart that in the matter of taxes the last farthing is wrung from the Christian, while the Mussulman is easily dealt with and mildly let off. What is the result? That the population of Epirus is rapidly diminishing—diminishing at the rate of upwards of 20 per cent in 12 years. That is the condition to which Epirus has been brought; and it may be taken as an illustration of the other and contiguous Provinces. But a great movement of deliverance has been commenced, and, by the help of Russia, I trust may be successful. Well, my Lords, I would ask whether it is fair for any man belonging to either Party—and in this matter I care nothing for Party—to write or to speak on this question without carefully reading such evidence as I have adduced—evidence which clearly shows that the Government of Turkey has been getting worse and worse. I ask the Government whether, in the negotiations which are about to take place, they will consider it their duty to "insist," in the language of the noble Earl who has introduced the subject, upon securities for the better government of the whole population, Mussulman and Christian alike, of those great Provinces. I have said that our Treaty right is confined to the Christians. We are in a position to protect them, and we have a right to do so. I confess that on that point I have never thought the language of the Foreign Secretary 705 entirely satisfactory. Along with the other European Powers, we extracted from Turkey a promise that she would protect the rights of her Christian subjects; and I lay this down as a proposition which cannot be disputed—that when one man extracts from another a promise in favour of a third, it is his duty, as far as he can, to see that that promise is fulfilled. Lord Russell, speaking in 1864, recognized this, saying that the Cabinet of the Earl of Aberdeen, while actively defending the independence of Turkey, felt that in objecting to the separate interference of Russia, they were bound to obtain some guarantee for the security of the subjects of the Porte professing the Christian faith, whether of the Greek or Roman Catholic Church, or Protestants, whether Christians by descent, or Turkish converts. The same noble Lord on another occasion used these words—The Treaty of 1856 contemplated the substitution of a collective protectorate of the five Powers on behalf of the Christian subjects of the Porte, in place of an exclusive protectorate by one Power alone, which is in the Treaty expressly renounced and abolished.It might be asked why the Liberal Party did not express its views fully on this question when it was in Office? And on this question I must say that in my opinion it is not politic for any Foreign Office voluntarily to raise the Eastern Question, which has for years been the nightmare of every Foreign Minister in Europe. But, at the same time, I must say that the late Lord Clarendon, who was neither a sentimentalist nor a humanitarian, but, in the best sense of the term, a man of the world, has spoken frankly on the question. On the 30th of June, 1857, Lord Clarendon, writing to Lord Stratford de Redeliffe, used these words—I transmit for your Excellency's information copies of a despatch from Consul Churchill and of my reply respecting the bad treatment of the Christians in Bosnia.Her Majesty's Government know by experience the utter inutility of appealing on such matters to the Porte; but the Turkish Government should be made aware that if this systematic misgovernment and persecution of Christians and violations of engagements continue, it will be impossible to arrest the progress of opinion which is now manifesting itself—that Mahomedan rule is incompatible with civilization and humanity, and can no longer be endured.I wish a similar tone had been adopted in all the despatches written by 706 my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Derby). Before sitting down I should like to refer to a Paper which was not before us on the first night of the Session, but which has since been produced. I refer to a despatch dated December 14. That despatch I have read with no small concern—I would even say I have read it with alarm—for it refers to an expression of thanks on the part of the Porte for an assurance which had been given that whennegotiations for peace were set on foot Her Majesty's Government would do what lay in their power to obtain favourable conditions for Turkey.I ask what does that mean? In diplomatic language it is known that when we speak of Turkey we mean the Government of Turkey. Is it really true that the Government of England is to go into a Conference or into the Councils of Europe in some less formal shape, and give the influence and authority of England in favour of Turkey without check and without security against misgovernment? I am glad to see from a gesture of my noble Friend that he repudiates such an interpretation. In that case you ought to guard yourselves, for you may depend upon it that the Turks will understand that that attitude is in favour of them as a Government, and they will say—"We are effecting reforms—we have a Parliament as well as you, and we have a Constitution as good as yours;" and they will give no weight to the indignant denunciations of the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury), that these institutions are mere delusions. The language which I have quoted was quite sufficient to encourage the Turks; and the guarantees which have been mentioned were illusory, if it were not for the fact, at which I rejoice, that the military power of Turkey has been crushed. I wish the noble Earl and his Government had taken a different course at first. I should have been glad that the very moderate conditions proposed to Turkey in the Conference had been adopted and carried out; but from the moment the Porte is told that no coercion will be resorted to it is clear what the result will be. It is remarkable that there is not a hint or an indication in all the Papers before your Lordships of the Government of Turkey repenting. Take the case of 707 Shefket Pasha, a monster who has been the cause of the massacre of thousands of men, women, and children. His punishment was demanded; but not only has he not been punished—he has been honoured and rewarded—by the Turkish Government, who are wholly unable to comprehend why the people of this country should care about the massacres and atrocities that have occurred. When my noble Friend answers the Question of the noble Earl, I trust we shall have an announcement to the effect that Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to use the power and influence of England in order to obtain the best possible conditions for the Government of Turkey; but that they will use that power and influence to the last degree to obtain good government for the subject-populations of Turkey. I fully and readily admit the personal humanity of noble Lords opposite, and that they desire good government for Turkey; but it seems that throughout the negotiations their effort has been to obtain as much good government for Turkey as they could consistently with the maintenance of the independence and integrity of Turkey. I hope that such language will be given up. The independence and integrity of Turkey, as the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) has said, are gone. The conditions of peace, to use the language of Mr. Layard in one of his recent despatches, are inconsistent with the existence of the Turkish Power in Europe. I do not know whether it is in the contemplation of Her Majesty's Government that the Sultan shall be kept at Constantinople in the same way as the Mogul was kept at Delhi; but this I know—that Turkey, as an independent European Power is—thank God!— gone. It is a Government which has abused every power it possessed, and has been a curse to the population over which it ruled; and it will be a. shame to England if her power and influence are used to get the most favourable terms possible with a view to the maintenance of such a Government. I will only add that, much as I differ from the policy pursued by my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby), there is no man in the House who more sincerely rejoices than I do at his convalescence and at his re-appearance in this House and at the Foreign Office. The opportunity has not passed away, 708 and my noble Friend may yet take an active part in the deliverance of the subject-populations of Turkey. I am fully satisfied with the policy of neutrality which my noble Friend has persistently and consistently advocated. During the last two years my noble Friend has been the object of incessant personal attacks—personal in one sense only, of attack directed with great keenness, sometimes with some excess of keenness of language—with respect to his conduct of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government; but I am bound to say—and the fact has the homage of my sincere respect—that during the whole of this controversy not one single hasty word or intemperate expression has passed the lips of my noble Friend. Under the circumstances, that could be said of very few indeed; and anything I have said of my noble Friend has been actuated solely by a regard for the merits of the question, and in no respect by any personal and political hostility towards himself.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said, it was quite clear that the Question of the noble Earl referred to the Mussulman population that might be torn from Turkey, and included in an autonomous Bulgaria, or in Servia, or Montenegro, and not to the Mussulmans under the rule of the Sublime Porte. The previous speeches of the noble Duke who had just sat down had not accustomed their Lordships to the special pleading with which he had followed the Question of the noble Earl; but the object of that special pleading was to renew his assertion of a Treaty-right to protect the Christians in Turkey, which had been formerly denied by the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The noble Duke said there was as much responsibility in advising people not to rebel, as in advising them to rebel, and he had advised Her Majesty's Ministers to be more guarded in their language; but he had not been so, and their Lordships would remember how, at the beginning of last Session, the noble Duke had incited the subjects of an Ally of Her Majesty to rebel. He did not refer to that passionate harangue, at which most of their Lordships murmured, but to the subsequent speech, in which the noble Duke toned down his first speech, and said that insurrection was justified where the tribunals were closed. These were 709 two-edged words, and the noble Duke had less right than any other to use them, for when he had been Secretary of State for India, he had been most inaccessible both to the Natives of India and to members of the Civil Service; and he had closed the doors of the Privy Council on the first disputed case which arose under Lord Canning's Sunnud, which was the Charter of India and the foundation of the new Indian Empire. If the noble Duke thought that no one should have an opinion without having read the Consular Reports in the Blue Book, why had he discredited these Consuls by comparing them to vultures fighting over a carcase? As to the Question before the House, it was one which in ordinary times would meet with the support of everyone in the House; but was it not too late, and whatever the Answer might be, only adding to our humiliation? For England was humiliated and made ridiculous before Europe by the orders and counter-orders to stop troop-ships at Port Said and at Malta, and by the Fleet being sent to the Dardanelles and then back again. That was not the fault of the Government, but the fault of the country, and of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) and the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll), who had misled and divided England. It was now two or three weeks since the Government made proposals to the Russian Government in reference to an armistice for peace, and yet we had been told this evening that no armistice had yet been signed. The Russians were advancing on Constantinople and Gallipoli, and those British interests which the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said were so precisely defined in his despatch of May 6, 1877, would disappear. When England was thus played with and hoodwinked, there was only one course for the Government if it wished to be respected at home and abroad, and that was to send his passports to the Russian Ambassador. This was not necessarily a rupture, for in recent years the Representatives of England had received their passports from two countries—first from Spain, and later from the United States.
THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
said, he should ask their Lordships to come back to the Question which had been submitted to them by the noble Earl. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of 710 Argyll) had been discussing another subject, and he had not read the Question as it was on the Paper.
THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
said, they were words he could not find. It struck him that the noble Duke had raised a new question—the bad government of Turkey; and certainly if Turkey had been upon its trial, they could not have had a more fervent, vehement, and active advocate for the prosecution than the noble Duke had been that evening. He had no doubt the noble Duke had read the last Blue Book laid before them. If he read it, he would find there plenty of those horrors which they had heard talked of in former days. He was not surprised at a noble Earl opposite asking, why load the Table with additional horrors?—because those horrors were perpetrated by his own friends—by those mild Russians and civilized Bulgarians. They could read there how the Jews were treated, and of the Mussulman population flying before the Russians, suffering immense hardships and dying by hundreds by the roadside. They had been told that the Turks were to be turned out of Europe bag-and-baggage. They had been told by the noble Duke—though he had modified it a little afterwards—that they should be thrust out of Europe, the just and the unjust alike. It was to be hoped the House would come back to the Question, and not let the world imagine that every one was impressed with.-this furore against the Turks—many in this country looked upon such a policy with no favour. They had already thrown over their old Ally, and he thought that was enough without heaping insult and abuse upon him.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
said, he had listened to the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) with some surprise when he heard him utter the fervent aspiration that the Turks might be driven out of Europe, because he could not forget —not to speak of the Treaty of Paris in 1856—that the noble Duke was party to the Treaty of 1871, and now when he spoke against maintaining the integrity of Turkey, he must ask—what had happened since to effect this striking change in his views? He could not learn from any official accounts that there had been any sudden and very marked deteriora- 711 tion in the Turkish Government since the noble Duke left Office and the present Government came in. The noble Duke had quoted a Consular Report of a startling character in 1869. In 1871 a Question was put to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs by Sir John Gray to this effect—If any information could be given to the House "whether the Sultan's Government had recently taken steps in favour of civil and religious liberty?" Viscount Enfield replied that—All the accounts from Turkey agreed in confirming the progress made in that country by the Sultan's Government towards toleration; and much had been done of late years towards raising the position of the Christian population in Turkey."—[3 Hansard, ccyiii. 313.]In 1872 Sir John Gray asked whether effect had been given to the provisions in the various edicts? and the reply was that—The latest reports stated that, as a general rule, the edicts were fairly carried into effect, and that the Christians as a class had no reason for complaint."—[ccxiii. 454.]He could not understand how deterioration and improvement could be going on simultaneously in the same country. He confessed that what he saw in his short tour in the East did not impress him favourably of the Turkish Government, and nothing that he had read of since had led him to take a very favourable view of that Government either in its conduct or in its results upon the population. But he thought it was rather extraordinary that such a sudden access of horror should have seized the late Prime Minister and the noble Duke, both parties, if not to the Treaty of 1856, to the Treaty of 1871. If the Turk was so very anti-human last year, he could not have been very human in 1871 and 1872. The Bulgarian atrocities, committed under the influence of panic at a real though abortive insurrection, suppressed by the local authorities in the absence of regular troops, were no doubt abominable; but they had been certainly very much exaggerated as to their number and extent. They had conclusive evidence that the Bulgarians, though shamefully insulted, had not been materially altogether unpros-perous under Turkish rule. He did. not say at all that such a Government as that of Turkey was satisfactory. Par from it. But he did not think that the struggling efforts of the new Represen- 712 tative Assembly in that country merited the utter contempt with which the Liberal Party had spoken of them. The Spanish Junta, sitting in Cadiz as a refuge left from Napoleon's domination, committed follies and absurdities in abundance; but they had the sympathies of England, because they represented the struggle for independence of a nation, whose country had been seized by a hypocritical invader under the plea of giving it a better government than its previous notoriously bad one. With sympathies inclined to the side of a nation that had been unjustly invaded, he did not feel more reconciled to the proceedings of Russia when he contrasted her profession of disinterested zeal for humanity at the commencement of the war with her present vague but unquestionably large demands. In former times Russia used to be regarded as the chief enemy of Liberal principles. She was identified abroad with the most determined hostility to Constitutional government and representative institutions, and was identified at home with the sternest and most despotic administration; with religious intolerance, if not persecution, and with the most stringent protectionism. These features in her character caused her to be viewed with even more disfavour by the Liberal than the Conservative Party; but both were agreed as to her habitual duplicity in diplomacy and disregard of Treaties. The language of Lord Palmerston and other Liberals in 1854 was mild in comparison with that of the late Lord Derby and the Tory ex-Chancellor Lord Lyndhurst, who said, citing examples to prove his case, that the history of the Russian Empire from its first establishment down to the time when he spoke was a history of fraud, duplicity, trickery, artifice, and violence. Since 1854 her religious intolerance had been illustrated by the persecution of the Uniate Catholics, her contempt for Treaties by her conduct in 1871, and the untrustworthiness of her most solemn diplomatic assurances by her annexation of Khiva. He did not wish to compare the milder reign of the present Czar with those of his Predecessors; for his reign would go down to posterity as made illustrious by the noble act of the emancipation of the serfs; but, as a matter of fact, there were no germs of Constitutional freedom in Russia, no security for personal liberty, and her 713 tariff was as protectionist as ever. In considering how it was that the views of the Liberal Party in regard to Russia had undergone such a complete change, it was necessary to remember that some theological questions might have had something to do with it. The extraordinary zeal and activity of the Ritualist Party—with which the right hon. Gentleman had in many ways shown his sympathy—had latterly been withdrawn from that course which had conducted so many of the most eminent among them, lay as well as clerical, to Rome. They looked of late to the Greek Church, for which the Party now professed a warm sympathy, in spite of the denunciations of that creed whose continued use in the services of our Church he could not help deploring as an undesirable heritage received from sterner times. The Greek Church recognized Anglican Orders, while the Church of Rome scornfully repudiated them—that might have had something to do with it. Moreover, the right hon. Gentleman had been personally engaged in angry controversy with the Roman Catholics. His chief supporters in his anti-Irish agitation had been the Ritualists and the Nonconformists. The latter, partly no doubt, from the zeal for humanity which had so honourably distinguished them since the earliest days of anti-slavery agitation; partly, also, from gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman for his past services on questions especially interesting to them; and partly, also, probably, from the hope of similar services from him hereafter. He could not but feel that just indignation at the misgovernment of Turkey and the suffering of the Christian people under Turkish rule had blinded many to the evils resulting from the domination of Russia, and had led them to take a too sanguine view of the probable prosperity and well-being of the Christian Provinces if they became autonomous under Russian auspices. He believed, too, that those feelings had blinded many to the greatness of the British interests involved in the maintenance of the Black Sea as an open sea to the commerce of all nations. He could not conceive a more formidable state of things than Russia with a powerful Navy in the Black Sea and Constantinople as a base of operations from which to attack our highway to India. He had been pained to hear the 714 denunciations of the Crimean War as having been a mistake. He was one of those who believed then, and believed now, that that was a wise and just war, and that its consequences to the liberties of Europe could hardly be overrated. He believed that the Constitutional liberty enjoyed at this moment by Germany and Austria would have been much less if the influence of Russia had not been seriously diminished by the defeats she sustained in that war. He was a supporter of that war, and he believed the whole nation supported it. At any rate, there was evidence that the large constituencies supported it in his own case. He contested at the time one of the most important constituencies in the Empire, and was returned by a largo majority against another Liberal, between whom and himself there was only this ground of difference—that his opponent was a follower of Mr. Bright in regard to that war. He hoped and trusted peace would be maintained, but he quite agreed with the noble Duke, that war was not the greatest of evils that might befall a nation. He had always understood that the efforts of the Peace Party had much to do in inciting the ambition of the late Czar to take steps which at last rendered it imperative on England and France to resist him; and so he now believed the interests of peaco would be best served by putting our Forces by sea and land in such a position as to enable England to speak with confidence and authority, as he was sure she always desired to speak with justice and moderation.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
rose to enter his protest against the criticisms of the noble Earl (Earl Fortescue) on the speech of the noble Duke behind him. The noble Earl had twitted the noble Duke with having expressed an ardent desire that the Turks should be driven out of Europe. Now, he did not understand that the noble Duke made use of language of that kind. What he did say was that the Turkish Government in Europe was on its last legs— almost destroyed—a matter of fact about which, he thought, there was very little difference of opinion. The noble Earl had used against the noble Duke the argumentum ad hominem of why it was, when his noble Friend was in Office, during the time these evils of which he produced proofs were going on, no pro- 715 tests were made against the conduct of the Turkish Government by the British Government or the Liberal Party, such as they had made during the last two or three years. His (the Marquess of Ripon's) answer to that was that the Eastern question had been the bugbear of all the Foreign Offices of Europe, and one which not any of the Powers would single-handed have ventured to raise. His noble Friend had read the vigorous and energetic protest of Lord Clarendon and others against the proceedings of the Turkish Government; and the great complaint against that Government at the present moment was, that they had from time to time made promises which they had broken, and promulgated ordinances which were so many dead letters. The noble Earl said how strange it was that Liberals should be found to speak with disrespect of the Turkish Government, since it had granted the country a free Constitution. The worthlessness of that Constitution had been demonstrated in the incisive language of the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The real friends of free government could surely place no confidence in that Constitution, produced as it was at a particular moment for obvious purposes. It was a Constitution on which it was impossible for anyone to place the slightest reliance, and in which no friend of free institutions could be called upon to believe. He did not stand there as an advocate or a defender of Russia. He had no sympathy with Russian Governments— he knew the truth of many of the charges brought against her; but he regretted that, owing to the course which events had taken during the last few years, it should have been left to the Russian Government—a Government not famous for its love of freedom—to be alone the defender of the freedom of the Christian populations of Turkey, and that England should have been deprived of a share in that great and noble work.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, when I came down to the House to answer the very simple and inoffensive Question of my noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Pembroke), I certainly did not expect to have to encounter these formidable masked batteries which have been opened upon me by the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll). I am al- 716 ways ready to listen with interest and attention to anything he says, whether I agree with it or not; but I must point out that there is some inconvenience in a debate which arises in this manner when there is really no definite question before the House. A great variety of topics are mentioned; it is scarcely possible to know what are the points to which the several speakers desire that the attention of the Government should be directed; and as a discussion of this kind begins with no especial reason, so it ends with no particular conclusion. Having made that preliminary observation, I begin by saying I am not inclined to follow the noble Duke through that very long and very elaborate series of accusations which he has brought against the Government of the Porte. General attacks of that kind cannot, I think, prove a great deal. Those who are most conversant with Turkey have never given her credit for having a well-administered Government; but, on the other hand, if you take the history of countries—especially of semi-civilized countries—for some 20 or 25 years, and put together every instance of crime, outrage, and miscarriage of justice which you can collect out of a long series of reports, there are a good many countries which you might paint in very black colours. The noble Duke, in quoting from the Reports made by our Consuls, points out that one particular Consul reported occasionally in more favourable terms of the administration than he did at another. The conclusion I should draw from that fact would be that the despatches show him to be an impartial man, who merely reports the facts which come before him without reference to the inferences which may be drawn from them. But my noble Friend gives a different explanation— He says that when our Consuls are criticizing the Turkish Government on their own account their criticisms are in disparaging terms; but when criticizing statements made by the agents of other countries, then the feeling of jealousy is so strong between them that they are sure to take up the Turkish defence. Well, my Lords, that is my noble Friend's view of Consular Reports, not mine. I do not think I should have undertaken to frame an indictment against the Turkish Government based on Consular Reports if I held that 717 view in regard to them. Nor, my Lords, do I think it advisable in the present state of things to dwell, as my noble Friend has done, on the disinclination of the Armenians to remain under the Turkish Government and their decided preference for that of Russia. I doubt the wisdom of using language of that kind in this House; and though I do not attach that extreme importance to Armenia which some people are inclined to do, still I do not think any of us would like to see an indefinite extension of the Russian Empire along the southern coast of the Black Sea. My Lords, the noble Duke has referred to a statement which he said he had seen somewhere as to the increasing fanaticism of the Mussulman population in Syria in recent times. He ascribed that increase, with a good deal of ingenuity, to the comparative political insignificance of France during the years immediately succeeding the Franco-German War of 1870; and he went on to draw the inference that it was French influence which had kept down that fanaticism, and that when that pressure was withdrawn the fanaticism showed itself with increased strength. I think, however, that there may be a different explanation of the circumstances than that which is given by the noble Duke. I think that any of the Turkish officials or population who have paid attention to European politics must perfectly well understand that the comparative weakness of France would diminish the chance of that protectorate of the Empire against Russian encroachments, which arose out of the Crimean War, being appealed to with the same effect on a future occasion; and that the anticipation of danger in the future would lead on the part of the Turks to exasperation against those who sympathized with the country to which Turkey was opposed. That, I think, is a simpler explanation of the matter than the one suggested by the noble Duke. Then the noble Duke speaks of the complaints caused by the oppressive manner in which the tax-gatherers collect the finances; and I have no doubt that there is much foundation for those complaints. It must be remembered, however, that the last few years have been years of great calamity and financial depression in the Turkish Empire. No doubt the pressure of taxation has been very severely felt, and there has been great 718 discontent among all classes of the community. But the temporary eclipse of Franco has had nothing to do with that. I need not follow the noble Duke through all the details to which he adverted; nor shall I enter into the question, which has been discussed over and over again, of what is the real state of the people of Bulgaria; but I believe there is some truth in the statement which has often been made of late that when the Russian troops entered that country they were much disgusted to find that they had come for the liberation of a people who were, upon the whole, much better off than they were themselves in their own homes. The noble Duke, in alluding to a phrase of mine that peace is the greatest of British interests, said that war was not the greatest of all evils. I quite agree with the noble Duke that phrases of that kind have very little value, except in relation to the particular circumstances under which they are expressed. When the noble Duke says that war is not the greatest of all evils, I answer that I do not know that anybody ever said it was. What I do say is, that when you attempt to remedy misgovernment in any country by the rough method of arms—by internal revolution or invasion from without—you run a great risk of creating a larger aggregate of human suffering than that which you seek to remedy; and that opinion I would not be unwilling to express as applied to the present case. The noble Duke has said that nobody is entitled to express an opinion on this question who has not made himself master of all the Blue Books. I sympathize with him to this extent—that it is certainly an inconvenience to hear opinions so continually expressed upon public affairs by persons who have not taken the trouble even to make themselves acquainted with the most elementary parts of the subject. But the argument is one which cuts both ways. There are a great many people out-of-doors to whose opinions we are invited to listen, and who from time to time send up Petitions and Memorials on the subject, expressed in extreme terms, who have not, I believe, any clear or definite idea of the subject, and who, probably, if they were questioned, would be found to be ignorant what the war is really about. But if nobody is to express an opinion on 719 the subject except those that read all the Blue Books, then popular opinion— in the generally accepted sense of the phrase—is entirely swept away as a factor in the discussion. The noble Duke expressed an opinion in the course of his speech which I can scarcely think was seriously put forward. He said that had we written despatches in the tone of those who preceded us as to the Christian subjects of Turkey, this war would never have taken place. I can only say that if that is the view of the noble Duke —if he believes that the war really arose out of local disturbances in the Herzegovina—if he does not see that there were other and earlier causes at work which led up to the conflict, and which led up to it through the action of those Powers who took the principal part in bringing it about, then his position and mine differ so entirely upon the whole question that we have no common ground on which to argue. But I do not admit that there is that distinction which the noble Duke assumes between former Governments and the Government now in power in anxiety to do what in them lay, and what in us lies, to secure protection and good government for the Christian populations of Turkey. I have never been inclined to lay much stress upon the mere theory of the question, or to argue how far, according to the mere wording of the Treaty, we were entitled to interfere in the affairs of Turkey. Whatever right of interference we claim, or have been in the habit of claiming, does not, I think, rest upon the wording of a Treaty so much as upon that general duty of protection which, subsequent to the Crimean War, we did assume. Obviously, when you undertake the protection of a State, you acquire a moral right to see that its power and independence are not abused. But that is a view of the question which it would be well not to press too far; for it may be argued that if our right of interference depends entirely on assuming the position of protectors of the Turkish Empire, those now in power in Turkey would be entitled to say—"Last year you did not protect us, and we must decline any interference whatever." I state that merely as a theoretical consideration. But I have always thought, in considering the question of the proper limit of our interference in the internal affairs of Turkey, that the 720 great obstacle to its efficacy as a remedy for misgovernment consists in this — that there must manifestly be extreme difficulty in carrying out any such interference persistently and in detail. I repeat, what I have already stated in this House on a previous occasion, that it is impossible to govern a country through a Committee of foreign Ambassadors, all of whom would generally be pulling in different directions. The noble Duke has said that in our most recent official documents there is no mention of "the integrity and independence of Turkey." Well, my Lords, it is not for me to anticipate. Whatever one may have said at the beginning of the war it was pretty clear that something in the nature of territorial concession was likely to follow from it, and territorial concession must obviously affect the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. That is a sufficient reason for the omission of the phrase from the more recent despatches. The noble Duke hopes that in dealing with this subject Her Majesty's Government will insist upon obtaining good government for the Christian populations of Turkey. My Lords, I believe we shall; and I think that the exhortation which has been addressed to us on that point was, if I may say so, a little superfluous. The question with which we have to deal is very important. It is not sufficient to secure good administration within a certain area, and to take no care for another. We must look to the various parts of the Turkish Empire and endeavour to secure a settlement which will possess the elements of stability, which will have a fair chance of lasting, and which will not involve the almost certainty of future wars at no distant date. It is not enough to consider what arrangement may be most satisfactory to those who inhabit particular districts—what we have to consider is the chance of maintaining permanent peace amongst the various districts and races which compose the Turkish Empire. That is the real difficulty of the situation. The noble Duke has said that the Turkish Empire is gone, and that he thanked God for it. Perhaps that is anticipating a little; but in any case, before I broke out into such an expression of pious gratitude, I should like to see my way a little more clearly than I do at present as to what is to replace the Empire which is "gone." My Lords, 721 there can be no question that there is a formidable difficulty before us — a difficulty which will require for its solution all the care and skill, and, I should add, all the justice and right feeling of the European Powers. I think our first care should be to secure that the settlement shall be one made with the assent and concurrence of all the European Powers. For ourselves, we do not claim any special, peculiar, or exclusive privilege. On the other hand, we are entitled to deny the existence of any exclusive right or privilege on the part of any other Power. At present we know but imperfectly the proposed bases of peace, which must eventually form the subject of our most careful consideration. As far as that is concerned the noble Lord opposite and my noble Friend behind me will assent when I say that it will be our duty to see—one of our most obvious duties—that, as far as possible in a semi-civilized country, where a good deal of fanatical feeling exists on both sides, strict and equal justice shall be dealt out to Mussulman and Christian alike.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.