§ THE EARL OF BEACONSFIELD
My Lords, in laying on the Table of your Lordships' House, as I am about to do, the Protocols of the Congress of Berlin, I have thought I should be only doing my duty to your Lordships' House, to Parliament generally, and to the country, if I made some remarks on the policy which was supported by the Representatives of Her Majesty at the Congress, and which is embodied in the Treaty of Berlin and in the Convention which was placed on your Lordships' Table during my absence.
My Lords, you are aware that the Treaty of San Stefano was looked on with much distrust and alarm by Her Majesty's Government—that they believed it was calculated to bring about a state of affairs dangerous to European independence, and injurious to the interests of the British Empire. Our impeachment of that policy is before your Lordships and the country, and is contained in the Circular of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in April last. Our present contention is that we can show that, by the changes and modifications which have been made in the Treaty of San Stefano by the Congress of Berlin and by the Convention of Constantinople, the menace to European independence has been removed, and the threatened injury to the British Empire has been averted. Your Lordships will recollect that by the Treaty of San Stefano about one-half of Turkey in Europe was formed into a State called Bulgaria—a State consisting of upwards of 50,000 geographical square miles, and containing a population of 4,000,000, with harbours on either sea—both on the shores of the Euxine and of the Archipelago. That disposition of territory severed Constantinople and the limited district which was still spared to the possessors of that city—severed it from the Provinces of Macedonia and Thrace by Bulgaria descending to the very shores of the Ægean; and, altogether, a State was formed which, both from its natural resources and its peculiarly favourable geographical position, must necessarily have exercised a predominant influence over the political and commercial interests of that part of the world. The 1754 remaining portion of Turkey in Europe was reduced also to a considerable degree by affording what was called compensation to previous rebellious tributary Principalities, which have now become independent States—so that the general result of the Treaty of San Stefano was, that while it spared the authority of the Sultan so far as his capital and its immediate vicinity, it reduced him to a state of subjection to the great Power which had defeated his Armies, and which was present at the gates of his capital. Accordingly, though it might be said that he still seemed to be invested with one of the highest functions of public duty—the protection and custody of the Straits—it was apparent that his authority in that respect could be exercised by him only in deference to the superior Power which had vanquished him, and to whom the proposed arrangements would have kept him in subjection. My Lords, in these matters the Congress of Berlin have made great changes. They have restored to the Sultan two-thirds of the territory which was to have formed the great Bulgarian State. They have restored to him upwards of 30,000 geographical square miles, and 2,500,000 of population—that territory being the richest in the Balkans where most of the land is rich, and the population one of the wealthiest, most ingenious, and most loyal of his subjects. The frontiers of his State have been pushed forward from the mere environs of Salonica and Adrianople to the lines of the Balkans and Trajan's Pass; the new Principality, which was to exercise such an influence, and produce a revolution in the disposition of the territory and policy of that part of the globe is now merely a State in the Valley of the Danube, and both in its extent and its population is reduced to one-third of what was contemplated by the Treaty of San Stefano. My Lords, it has been said that while the Congress of Berlin decided upon a policy so bold as that of declaring the range of the Balkans as the frontier of what may now be called New Turkey, they have, in fact, furnished it with a frontier which, instead of being impregnable, is in some parts undefended, and is altogether one of an inadequate character. My Lords, it is very difficult to decide, so far as nature is concerned, whether any combination of circumstances can ever be brought 1755 about which would furnish what is called an impregnable frontier. Whether it be river, desert, or mountainous range, it will be found, in the long run, that the impregnability of a frontier must be supplied by the vital spirit of man; and that it is by the courage, discipline, patriotism, and devotion of a population that impregnable frontiers can alone be formed. And, my Lords, when I remember what race of men it was that created and defended Plevna, I must confess my confidence that, if the cause be a good one, they will not easily find that the frontier of the Balkans is indefensible. But it is said that although the Congress has furnished—and it pretended to furnish nothing more—a competent military frontier to Turkey, the disposition was so ill-managed that, at the same time, it failed to secure an effective barrier—that in devising the frontier, it so arranged matters that this very line of the Balkans may be turned. The Congress has been charged with having committed one of the greatest blunders that could possibly have been accomplished by leaving Sofia in the possession of a Power really independent of Turkey, and one which, in the course of time, might become hostile to Turkey. My Lords, this is, in my opinion, an error on the part of those who furnish information of an authentic character to the different populations of Europe, who naturally desire to have correct information on such matters. It is said that the position of Sofia is of a commanding character, and that of its value the Congress were not aware, and that it was yielded to an imperious demand on the part of one of the Powers represented at the Congress. My Lords, I can assure your Lordships that there is not a shadow of truth in the statement. I shall show that when the Congress resolved to establish the line of the Balkans as the frontier of Turkey, they felt that there would have been no difficulty, as a matter of course, in Turkey retaining the possession of Sofia. What happened was this. The highest military authority of the Turks—so I think I may describe him—was one of the Plenipotentiaries at the Congress of the Porte—I allude to Mehemet Ali Pasha. Well, the moment the line of the Balkans was spoken of, he brought under the notice of his Colleagues at the Conference—and especially, I may say, of the Plenipo- 1756 tentiaries of England—his views on the subject; and, speaking as he did not only with military authority, but also with consummate acquaintance with all these localities, he said nothing could be more erroneous than the idea that Sofia was a strong strategical position, and that those who possessed it would immediately turn the Balkans and march on Constantinople. He said that as a strategical position it was worthless; but that there was a position in the Sandjak of Sofia which, if properly defended, might be regarded as impregnable, and that was the Pass of Ichtiman. He thought it of vital importance to the Sultan that that position should be secured to Turkey, as then His Majesty would have an efficient defence to his capital. That position was secured. It is a pass which, if properly defended, will prevent any host, however powerful, from taking Constantinople by turning the Balkans. But, in consequence of that arrangement, it became the duty of the Plenipotentiaries to see what would be the best arrangement in regard of Sofia and its immediate districts. The population of Sofia and its district are, I believe, without exception, Bulgarian, and it was thought wise, they being Bulgarians, that, if possible, it should be included in Bulgaria. That was accomplished by exchanging it for a district in which the population, if not exclusively, are numerically, Mahomedan, and which, so far as the fertility of the land is concerned, is an exchange highly to the advantage of the Porte. That, my Lords, is a short account of an arrangement which I know has for a month past given rise in Europe, and especially in this country, to a belief that it was in deference to Russia that Sofia was not retained, and that by its not having been retained Turkey had lost the means of defending herself, in the event of her being again plunged into war.
My Lords, it has also been said, with regard to the line of the Balkans, that it was not merely in respect of the possession of Sofia an error was committed, but that the Congress made a great mistake in not retaining Varna. My Lords, I know that there are in this Assembly many Members who have recollections—glorious recollections—of that locality. They will know at once that if the line of the Balkans were 1757 established as the frontier, it would be impossible to include Varna, which is to the North of the Balkans. Varna itself is not a place of importance, and only became so in connection with a system of fortifications which are now to be rased. No doubt, in connection with a line of strongholds, Varna formed a part of a system of defence; but of itself Varna is not a place of importance. Of itself it is only a roadstead, and those who dwell upon the importance of Varna and consider that it was a great error on the part of the Congress not to have secured it for Turkey, quite forget that between the Bosphorus and Varna, upon the coast of the Black Sea, the Congress has allotted to Turkey by far a much more important point on the Black Sea—the harbour of Burgas. My Lords, I think I have shown that the charges made against the Congress on these three grounds—the frontiers of the Balkans, the non-retention of Sofia, and the giving up of Varna—have no foundation whatever.
Well, my Lords, having established the Balkans as the frontier of Turkey in Europe, the Congress resolved that South of the Balkans, to a certain extent, the country should be formed into a Province to which should be given the name of Eastern Roumelia. At one time, it was proposed by some to call it South Bulgaria; but it was manifest that with such a name between it and North Bulgaria, there would be constant intriguing to bring about a union between the two Provinces. We, therefore, thought that the Province of East Roumelia should be formed, and that there should be established in it a Government somewhat different from that of contiguous Provinces where the authority of the Sultan might be more unlimited. I am not myself of opinion that, as a general rule, it is wise to interfere with a military Power which you acknowledge; but, though it might have been erroneous, as a political principle, to limit the military authority of the Sultan, yet there are in this world other things besides political principles—there are such things as historical facts, and he would not be a prudent statesman who did not take into consideration historical facts as well as political principles. The Province which we have formed into Eastern 1758 Roumelia had been the scene of many excesses, by parties on both sides, to which human nature looks with deep regret; and it was thought advisable, in making these arrangements for the peace of Europe, that we should take steps to prevent the probable recurrence of such events. Yet to do this and not give the Sultan a direct military authority in the Province, would have been, in our opinion, a grievous error. We have, therefore, decided that the Sultan should have the power to defend the barrier of the Balkans with all his available force. He has power to defend his frontiers by land and by sea, both by the passes of the mountains and the ports and strongholds of the Black Sea. No limit has been placed on the amount of force he may bring to bear with that object. No one can dictate to him what the amount of that force shall be; but, in respect of the interior and the internal government of the Province, we thought the time had arrived when we should endeavour to carry into effect some of those important proposals intended for the better administration of the States of the Sultan which were discussed and projected at the Conference of Constantinople. My Lords, I will not enter into any minute details on these questions. They might weary you at this moment, and I have several other matters on which I must yet touch; but, generally speaking, I imagine there are three great points which we shall have before us in any attempt to improve the administration of Turkish Dominion. First of all, it is most important—and we have so established it in Eastern Roumelia—that the office of Governor shall be for a specific period, and that, as in India, it should not be for less than five years. If that system generally obtained in the Dominions of the Sultan, I believe it would be of incalculable benefit. Secondly, we thought it desirable that there should be instituted public assemblies, in which the popular element should be adequately represented, and that the business of those assemblies should be to levy and administer the local finances of the Province. And, thirdly, we thought it equally important that order should be maintained in this Province, either by a gendarmerie of adequate force or by a local militia, in both cases the officers holding their commissions from the Sultan. But the whole 1759 subject of the administration of Eastern Roumelia has been referred to an Imperial Commission at Constantinople, and this Commission, after making its investigations, will submit recommendations to the Sultan, who will issue Firmans to carry those recommendations into effect. I may mention here—as it may save time—that in all the arrangements which have been made to improve the condition of the subject-races of Turkey in Europe, inquiry by local commissions in all cases where investigation may be necessary is contemplated. Those commissions are to report their results to the Chief Commission, and, after the Firman of the Sultan has been issued, the changes will take place. It is supposed that in the course of three months from the time of the ratification of the Treaty of Berlin, the principal arrangments may be effected.
My Lords, I may now state what has been effected by the Congress in respect of Bosnia—that being a point on which I think considerable error prevails. One of the most difficult matters we had to encounter in attempting what was the object of the Congress of Berlin—namely, to re-establish the Sultan as a real and substantial authority—was the condition of some of his distant Provinces, and especially of Bosnia. The state of Bosnia, and of those Provinces and Principalities contiguous to it, was one of chronic anarchy. There is no language which can describe adequately the condition of that large portion of the Balkan Peninsula occupied by Roumania, Servia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and other Provinces. Political intrigues, constant rivalries, a total absence of all public spirit and of the pursuit of objects which patriotic minds would wish to accomplish, the hatred of races, the animosities of rival religions, and, above all, the absence of any controlling power that could keep these large districts in anything like order—such were the sad truths, which no one who has investigated the subject could resist for a moment. Hitherto—at least until within the last two years—Turkey had some semblance of authority, which, though it was rarely adequate, and when adequate, was unwisely exercised, still was an authority to which the injured could appeal, and which sometimes might control violence. But the Turkey of the present time was in no condition to 1760 exercise that authority. I inquired into the matter of those most competent to give an opinion, and the result of my investigation was a conviction that nothing short of an Army of 50,000 men of the best troops of Turkey would produce anything like order in those parts, and that, were the attempt to be made, it would be contested and resisted, and might finally be defeated. But what was to be said at a time when all the statesmen of Europe were attempting to concentrate and condense the resources of the Porte with the view of strengthening them—what would have been the position of the Porte if it had to commence its new career—a career, it is to be hoped, of amelioration and tranquillity—by despatching a large Army to Bosnia to deal with those elements of difficulty and danger? It is quite clear, my Lords, that such an effort at this moment by Turkey might bring about its absolute ruin. Then what was to be done? There have been before, in the history of diplomacy, not unfrequent instances in which, even in civilized parts of the globe, States having fallen into decrepitude, have afforded no assistance to keep order and tranquillity, and have become, as these districts have become, a source of danger to their neighbours. Under such circumstances, the Powers of Europe have generally looked to see whether there was any neighbouring Power of a character entirely different from those disturbed and desolated regions, but deeply interested in their welfare and prosperity, who would undertake the task of attempting to restore their tranquillity and prosperity. In the present case, you will see that the position of Austria is one that clearly indicates her as fitted to undertake such an office. It is not the first time that Austria has occupied Provinces at the request of Europe to insure that order and tranquillity, which are European interests, might prevail in them. Not once, twice, or thrice has Austria undertaken such an office. There may be differences of opinion as to the policy on which Austria has acted, or as to the principles of government which she has maintained; but that has nothing to do with the fact that, under circumstances similar to those which I have described as existing in Bosnia and the Provinces contiguous to it, Austria has been invited and has interfered in the 1761 manner I have described, and has brought about order and tranquillity. Austria, in the present case, was deeply interested that some arrangement should be made. Austria, for now nearly three years, has had upwards of 150,000 refugees from Bosnia, which have been supported by her resources, and whose demands notoriously have been of a vexatious and exhausting character. It was, therefore, thought expedient by the Congress that Austria should be invited to occupy Bosnia, and not to leave it until she had deeply laid the foundations of tranquillity and order. My Lords, I am the last man who would wish, when objections are made to our proceedings, to veil them under the decision of the Congress; it was a decision which the Plenipotentiaries of England highly approved. It was a proposal which, as your Lordships will see when you refer to the Protocols which I shall lay on the Table to-night, was made by my noble Friend the Secretary of State, that Austria should accept this trust and fulfil this duty; and I earnestly supported him on that occasion. My Lords, in consequence of that arrangement, cries have been raised against our "partition of Turkey." My Lords, our object has been directly the reverse—our object has been to prevent partition. The question of partition is one upon which, it appears to me, very erroneous ideas are in circulation. Some two years ago—before, I think, the war had commenced, but when the disquietude and dangers of the situation were very generally felt—there was a school of statesmen who were highly in favour of what they believed to be the only remedy—what they called the partition of Turkey. Those who did not agree with them were those who thought we should, on the whole, attempt the restoration of Turkey. Her Majesty's Government at all times have resisted the partition of Turkey. They have done so, because, exclusive of the high moral considerations that are mixed up with the subject, they believed an attempt, on a great scale, to accomplish the partition of Turkey would inevitably lead to a long, a sanguinary, and often-recurring struggle, and that Europe and Asia would both be involved in a series of troubles and sources of disaster and danger of which no adequate idea could be formed. These professors of 1762 partition—quite secure, no doubt, in their own views—have freely spoken to us on this subject. We have been taken up to a high mountain and shown all the Kingdoms of the earth, and they have said—"All these shall be yours if you will worship Partition." But we have declined to do so, for the reasons I have shortly given. And it is a remarkable circumstance that after the great war, and after the prolonged diplomatic negotiations, which lasted during nearly a period of three years, on this matter, the whole Powers of Europe, including Russia, have strictly, and as completely as ever, come to the unanimous conclusion that the best chance for the tranquillity and order of the world is to retain the Sultan as part of the acknowledged political system of Europe. My Lords, unquestionably after a great war—and I call the late war a great war, because the greatness of a war now must not be calculated by its duration, but by the amount of the forces brought into the field, and where a million of men have struggled for supremacy, as has been the case recently, I call that a great war—but, I say, after a great war like this, it is utterly impossible that you can have a settlement of any permanent character without a re-distribution of territory and considerable changes. But that is not partition. My Lords, a country may have lost provinces, but that is not partition. We know that not very long ago a great country—one of the foremost countries of the world—lost provinces; yet, is not France one of the great Powers of the world, and with afuture—a commanding future? Austria herself has lost provinces—more provinces even than Turkey, perhaps; even England has lost provinces—the most precious possessions—the loss of which every Englishmen must deplore to this moment. We lost them from bad government. Had the principles which now obtain between the Metropolis and her Dependencies prevailed then, we should not, perhaps, have lost those provinces, and the power of this Empire would have been proportionally increased. It is perfectly true that the Sultan of Turkey has lost provinces; it is true that his Armies have been defeated; it is true that his enemy is even now at his gates; but all that has happened to other Powers. But a Sovereign who has not yet forfeited his capital, 1763 whose capital has not yet been occupied by his enemy—and that capital one of the strongest in the world—who has Armies and Fleets at his disposal, and still rules over 20,000,000 of inhabitants, cannot be described as a Power whose Dominions have been partitioned. My Lords, it has been said that no limit has been fixed to the occupation of Bosnia by Austria. Well, I think that was a very wise step. The moment you limit an occupation you deprive it of half its virtue. All those opposed to the principles which occupation was devised to foster and strengthen feel they have only to hold their breath and wait a certain time, and the opportunity for their interference would again present itself. Therefore, I cannot agree with the objection which is made to the arrangement with regard to the occupation of Bosnia by Austria on the question of its duration.
My Lords, there is a point on which I feel it now my duty to trouble your Lordships, and that is the question of Greece. A severe charge has been made against the Congress, and particularly against the English Plenipotentiaries, for not having sufficiently attended to the interests and claims of Greece. My Lords, I think you will find on reflection that that charge is utterly unfounded. The English Government were the first that expressed the desire that Greece should be heard at the Congress. But, while they expressed that desire, they communicated confidentially to Greece that it must on no account associate that desire on the part of the Government with any engagement for the re-distribution of territory. That was repeated, and not merely once repeated. The Greek inhabitants, apart from the Kingdom of Greece, are a considerable element in the Turkish Empire, and it is of the greatest importance that their interests should be sedulously attended to. One of the many evils of that large Slav State—the Bulgaria of the San Stefano Treaty—was, that it would have absorbed, and made utterly to disappear from the earth, a considerable Greek population. At the Congress the Greeks were heard, and they were heard by Representatives of considerable eloquence and ability; but it was quite clear, the moment they put their case before the Congress, that they had totally misapprehended the reason why the Congress 1764 had met together, and what were its objects and character. The Greek Representatives, evidently, had not in any way relinquished what they call their great idea—and your Lordships well know that it is one that has no limit which does not reach as far as Constantinople. But they did mention at the Congress, as a practical people, and feeling that they had no chance of obtaining at that moment all they desired—that they were willing to accept as an instalment the two large Provinces of Epirus and Thessaly, and the Island of Crete. It was quite evident to the Congress that the Representatives of Greece utterly misunderstood the objects of our labours—that we were not there to partition Turkey, and give them their share of Turkey, but for a very contrary purpose—as far as we could, to re-establish the Dominion of the Sultan on a rational basis, to condense and concentrate his authority, and to take the opportunity—of which we have largely availed ourselves—of improving the condition of his subjects. I trust, therefore, when I have pointed out to your Lordships this cardinal error in the views of Greece, that your Lordships will feel that the charge made against the Congress has no substantial foundation. But the interests of Greece were not neglected, and least of all by Her Majesty's Government. Before the Congress of Berlin, believing that there was an opportunity of which considerable advantage might be made for Greece without deviating into partition, we applied to the Porte to consider the long-vexed question of the boundaries of the two States. The boundaries of Greece have always been inadequate and inconvenient; they are so formed as to offer a premium to brigandage—which is the curse of both countries, and has led to misunderstanding and violent intercourse between the inhabitants of both. Now, when some re-distribution—and a considerable re-distribution—of territories was about to take place—now, we thought, was the opportunity for Greece to urge her claim; and that claim we were ready to support, and to reconcile the Porte to viewing it in a large and liberal manner. And I am bound to say that the manner in which our overtures were received by the Porte was encouraging, and more than encouraging. For a long period Her 1765 Majesty's Government have urged upon both countries, and especially upon Greece, the advantage of a good understanding between them. We urged that it was only by union between Turks and Greeks that any re-action could be obtained against that overpowering Slav interest which was then exercising such power in the Peninsula, and which had led to this fatal and disastrous war. More than this, on more than one occasion—I may say, on many occasions—we have been the means of preventing serious misunderstandings between Turkey and Greece, and on every occasion we have received from both States an acknowledgment of our good offices. We were, therefore, in a position to assist Greece in this matter. But, of course, to give satisfaction to a State which coveted Constantinople for its capital, and which talked of accepting large Provinces and a powerful Island as only an instalment of its claims for the moment was difficult. It was difficult to get the views of that Government accepted by Turkey, however inclined it might be to consider a re-construction of frontiers on a large and liberal scale. My noble Friend the Secretary of State did use all his influence, and the result was that, in my opinion, Greece has obtained a considerable accession of resources and strength. But we did not find, on the part of the Representatives of Greece, that response or that sympathy which we should have desired. Their minds were in another quarter. But though the Congress could not meet such extravagant and inconsistent views as those urged by Greece—views which were not in any way within the scope of the Congress or the area of its duty—we have still, as will be found in the Treaty, or certainly in the Protocol, indicated what we believe to be a rectification of frontier which would add considerably to the strength and resources of Greece. Therefore, I think, under all the circumstances, it will be acknowledged that Greece has not been neglected. Greece is a country so interesting that it enlists the sympathies of all educated men. Greece has a future; and I would say, if I might be permitted, to Greece, what I would say to an individual who has a future—"Learn to be patient."
Now, my Lords, I have touched upon most of the points connected with Turkey in Europe. My summary is that at this 1766 moment—of course, no longer counting Servia or Roumania, once tributary Principalities, as part of Turkey; not counting even the New Bulgaria, though it is a tributary Principality, as part of Turkey; and that I may not be taunted with taking an element which I am hardly entitled to place in the calculation, omitting even Bosnia—European Turkey still remains a Dominion of 60,000 geographical square miles, with a population of 6,000,000, and that population in a very great degree concentrated and condensed in the Provinces contiguous to the capital. My Lords, it was said, when the line of the Balkans was carried—and it was not carried until after long and agitating discussions—it was said by that illustrious statesman who presided over our labours, that "Turkey in Europe once more exists." My Lords, I do not think that, so far as European Turkey is concerned, this country has any right to complain of the decisions of the Congress, or, I would hope, of the labours of its Plenipotentiaries. You cannot look at the map of Turkey as it had been left by the Treaty of San Stefano, and as it has been re-arranged by the Treaty of Berlin, without seeing that great results have accrued. If these results had been the consequences of a long war—if they had been the results of a struggle like that we underwent in the Crimea—I do not think they would have been even then unsubstantial or unsatisfactory. My Lords, I hope that you and the country will not forget that these results have been obtained without shedding the blood of a single Englishman; and if there has been some expenditure, it has been an expenditure which, at least, has shown the resources and determination of this country. Had you entered into that war for which you were prepared—and well prepared—probably in a month you would have exceeded the whole expenditure you have now incurred.
My Lords, I now ask you for a short time to quit Europe and to visit Asia, and consider the labours of the Congress in another quarter of the world. My Lords, you well know that the Russian arms met with great success in Asia, and that in the Treaty of San Stefano considerable territories were yielded by Turkey to Russia. In point of population, they may not appear to be of that importance that they are generally considered; 1767 because it is a fact which should be borne in mind that the population which was yielded to Russia by Turkey amounted to only about 250,000 souls; and, therefore, if you look to the question of population and to the increase of strength to a State which depends on population, you would hardly believe that the acquisition of 250,000 new subjects is a sufficient return for the terrible military losses which inevitably must accrue from campaigns in that country. But, although the amount of population was not considerable, the strength which the Russians acquired was of a very different character. They obtained Kars by conquest—they obtained Ardahan—another stronghold—they obtained Bayazid, and the Valley of Alashkerd with the adjoining territory, which contain the great commercial routes in that part of the world. They also obtained the port of Batoum. Now, my Lords, the Congress of Berlin have so far sanctioned the Treaty of San Stefano that, with the exception of Bayazid and the Valley which I have mentioned—no doubt very important exceptions, and which were yielded by Russia to the views of the Congress—they have consented to the yielding of the places I have named to Russia. The Congress have so far approved the Treaty of San Stefano that they have sanctioned the retention by Russia of Kars and Batoum. Now the question arises—the Congress having come to that determination—was it a wise step on the part of the Plenipotentiaries of Her Majesty to agree to that decision? That is a question which may legitimately be asked. We might have broken up the Congress, and said—"We will not consent to the retention of those places by Russia, and we will use our force to oblige her to yield them up." Now, my Lords, I wish fairly to consider what was our position in this state of affairs. It is often argued as if Russia and England had been at war, and peace was negotiating between the two Powers. That was not the case. The rest of Europe were critics over a Treaty which was a real Treaty that existed between Russia and Turkey. Turkey had given up Batoum, she had given up Kars and Ardahan, she had given up Bayazid. In an examination of the question, then, we must remember that Russia at this moment, so far as Europe is concerned, has acquired in Europe 1768 nothing but a very small portion of territory, occupied by 130,000 inhabitants. Well, she naturally expected to find some reward in her conquests in Armenia for the sacrifices which she had made. Well, my Lords, consider what those conquests are. There was the strong fort of Kars. We might have gone to war with Russia in order to prevent her acquiring Kars and Batoum, and other places of less importance. The war would not have been, probably, a very short war. It would have been a very expensive war—and, like most wars, it would probably have ended in some compromise, and we should have got only half what we had struggled for. Let us look these two considerable points fairly in the face. Let us first of all take the great stronghold of Kars. Three times has Russia captured Kars. Three times, either by our influence or by other influences, it has been restored to Turkey. Were we to go to war for Kars and restore it to Turkey, and then to wait till the next misunderstanding between Russia and Turkey, when Kars should have been taken again? Was that an occasion of a casus belli? I do not think your Lordships would ever sanction a war carried on for such an object and under such circumstances. Then, my Lords, look at the case of Batoum, of which your Lordships have heard so much. I should have been very glad if Batoum had remained in the possession of the Turks, on the general principle that the less we had reduced its territory in that particular portion of the globe, the better it would be as regards the prestige on which the influence of the Ottoman Porte much depends there. But let us see what is this Batoum of which you have heard so much? It is generally spoken of in society and in the world as if it were a sort of Portsmouth—whereas, in reality, it should rather be compared with Cowes. It will hold three considerable ships, and if it were packed like the London Docks, it might hold six; but in that case the danger, if the wind blew from the North, would be immense. You cannot increase the port seaward; for though the water touching the shore is not absolutely fathomless, it is extremely deep, and you cannot make any artificial harbour or breakwater. Unquestionably, in the interior the port might be increased, but it can only be increased by first-rate engineers, 1769 and by the expenditure of millions of capital; and if we were to calculate the completion of the port by the precedents which exist in many countries, and certainly in the Black Sea, it would not be completed under half a century. Now is that a question for which England would be justified in going to war with Russia? My Lords, we have, therefore, thought it advisable not to grudge Russia those conquests that have been made—especially after obtaining the restoration of the town of Bayazid and its important district.
But it seemed to us the time had come when we ought to consider whether certain efforts should not be made to put an end to these perpetually recurring wars between the Porte and Russia, ending, it may be, sometimes apparently in comparatively insignificant results; but always terminating with one fatal consequence—namely, shaking to the centre the influence and the prestige of the Porte in Asia and diminishing its means of profitably and advantageously governing that country. My Lords, it seemed to us that as we had now taken, and as Europe generally had taken, so avowedly deep an interest in the welfare of the subjects of the Porte in Europe, the time had come when we ought to consider whether we could not do something which would improve the general condition of the Dominions of the Sultan in Asia; and instead of these most favoured portions of the globe every year being in a more forlorn and disadvantageous position, whether it would not be possible to take some steps which would secure at least tranquillity and order; and, when tranquillity and order were secured, whether some opportunity might not be given to Europe to develop the resources of a country which Nature has made so rich and teeming? My Lords, we occupy with respect to this part of the world a peculiar position, which is shared by no other Power. Our Indian Empire is on every occasion on which these discussions occur, or these troubles occur, or these settlements occur—our Indian Empire is to England a source of grave anxiety, and the time appeared to have arrived when, if possible, we should terminate that anxiety. In all the questions connected with European Turkey we had the assistance and sympathy sometimes of all, and often of many of the European Powers 1770 —because they were interested in the question who should possess Constantinople, and who should have the command of the Danube and the freedom of the Mediterranean. But when we come to considerations connected with our Oriental Empire itself, they naturally are not so generally interested as they are in those which relate to the European portion of the Dominions of the Porte, and we have to look to our own resources alone. There has been no want, on our part, of invitations to neutral Powers to join with us in preventing or in arresting war. Besides the great Treaty of Paris there was the Tripartite Treaty, which, if acted upon, would have prevented war. But that Treaty could not be acted upon, from the unwillingness of the parties to it to act; and therefore we must clearly perceive that if anything could be effectually arranged, as far as our Oriental Empire is concerned, the arrangements must be made by ourselves. Now, this was the origin of that Convention at Constantinople which is on your Lordships' Table, and in that Convention our object was not merely a military or chiefly a military object. Our object was to place this country certainly in a position in which its advice and in which its conduct might at least have the advantage of being connected with a military power and with that force which it is necessary to possess often in great transactions, though you may not fortunately feel that it is necessary to have recourse to that force. Our object in entering into that arrangement with Turkey was, as I said before, to produce tranquillity and order. When tranquillity and order were produced, we believed that the time would come when the energy and enterprize of Europe might be invited to what really is another Continent, as far as the experience of man is concerned, and that its development will add greatly not merely to the wealth and the prosperity of the inhabitants, but to the wealth and prosperity of Europe. My Lords, I am surprised to hear—for though I have not heard it myself from any authority, it is so generally in men's mouths that I am bound to notice it—that the step we have taken should be represented as one that is calculated to excite the suspicion or enmity of any of our Allies, or of any State. My Lords, I am convinced that when a little time 1771 has elapsed, and when people are better acquainted with, this subject than they are at present, no one will accuse England of having acted in this matter but with frankness and consideration for other Powers. And if there be a Power in existence to which we have endeavoured to show most consideration from particular circumstances in this matter it is France. There is no step of this kind that I would take without considering the effect it might have upon the feelings of France—a nation to whom we are bound by almost every tie that can unite a people, and with whom our intimacy is daily increasing. If there could be any step which of all others was least calculated to excite the suspicion of France, it would appear to be this—because we avoided Egypt, knowing how susceptible France is with regard to Egypt; we avoided Syria, knowing how susceptible France is on the subject of Syria; and we avoided availing ourselves of any part of the terra firma, because we would not hurt the feelings or excite the suspicions of France. France knows that for the last two or three years we have listened to no appeal which involved anything like an aquisition of territory, because the territory which might have come to us would have been territory which France would see in our hands with suspicion and dislike. But I must make this observation to your Lordships. We have a substantial interest in the East; it is a commanding interest, and its behest must be obeyed. But the interest of France in Egypt, and her interest in Syria, are, as she acknowledges, sentimental and traditionary interests; and, although I respect them, and although I wish to see in the Lebanon and in Egypt the influence of France fairly and justly maintained, and although her officers and ours in that part of the world—and especially in Egypt—are acting together with confidence and trust, we must remember that our connection with the East is not merely an affair of sentiment and tradition, but that we have urgent and substantial and enormous interests which we must guard and keep. Therefore, when we find that the progress of Russia is a progress which, whatever may be the intentions of Russia, necessarily in that part of the world produces such a state of disorganization and want of confidence in the 1772 Porte, it comes to this—that if we do not interfere in vindication of our own interests, that part of Asia must become the victim of anarchy, and ultimately become part of the possessions of Russia.
Now, my Lords, I have ventured to review the chief points connected with the subject on which I wished to address you—namely, what was the policy pursued by us, both at the Congress of Berlin and in the Convention of Constantinople? I am told, indeed, that we have incurred an awful responsibility by the Convention into which we have entered. My Lords, a prudent Minister certainly would not recklessly enter into any responsibility; but a Minister who is afraid to enter into responsibility is, in my mind, not a prudent Minister. We do not, my Lords, wish to enter into any unnecessary responsibility; but there is one responsibility from which we certainly shrink; we shrink from the responsibility of handing to our successors a diminished or a weakened Empire. Our opinion is that the course we have taken will arrest the great evils which are destroying Asia Minor and the equally rich countries beyond. We see in the present state of affairs the Porte losing its influence over its subjects; we see a certainty, in our opinion, of increasing anarchy, of the dissolution of all those ties which, though feeble, yet still exist, and which have kept society together in those countries. We see the inevitable result of such a state of things, and we cannot blame Russia availing herself of it. But, yielding to Russia what she has obtained, we say to her—"Thus far, and no farther." Asia is large enough for both of us. There is no reason for these constant wars, or fears of wars, between Russia and England. Before the circumstances which led to the recent disastrous war, when none of those events which we have seen agitating the world had occurred, and when we were speaking in "another place" of the conduct of Russia in Central Asia, I vindicated that conduct, which I thought was unjustly attacked, and I said then, what I repeat now—there is room enough for Russia and England in Asia. But the room that we require we must secure. We have, therefore, entered into an alliance—a defensive alliance—with Turkey, to guard her against any further attack from Russia. We believe that the result of this Conven- 1773 tion will be order and tranquillity. And then it will be for Europe—for we ask no exclusive privileges or commercial advantages—it will then be for Europe to assist England in availing ourselves of the wealth which has been so long neglected and undeveloped in regions once so fertile and so favoured. We are told, as I have said before, that we are undertaking great responsibilities. From those responsibilities we do not shrink. We think that, with prudence and discretion, we shall bring about a state of affairs as advantageous for Europe as for ourselves; and in that conviction we cannot bring ourselves to believe that the act which we have recommended is one that leads to trouble and to warfare. No, my Lords. I am sure there will be no jealousy between England and France upon this subject. In taking Cyprus the movement is not Mediterranean; it is Indian. We have taken a step there which we think necessary for the maintenance of our Empire and for its preservation in peace. If that be our first consideration, our next is the development of the country. And upon that subject I am told that it was expected to-night that I should in detail lay before the House the minute system by which all those results, which years may bring about, are instantly to be acquired. I, my Lords, am prepared to do nothing of the kind. We must act with considerable caution. We are acting with a Power, let me remind the House, which is an independent Power—the Sultan—and we can decide nothing but with his consent and sanction. We have been in communication with that Prince—who, I may be allowed to remind the House, has other things to think about, even than Asia Minor; for no man was ever tried, from, his accession to the Throne till this moment, so severely as the Sultan has been; but he has invariably during his reign expressed his desire to act with England and to act with Europe, and especially in the better administration and management of his affairs. The time will come—and I hope it is not distant—when my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs may be able to communicate to the House details of these matters, which will be most interesting. But we must protest against being forced into statements on matters of importance which are necessarily still immature. 1774 And we must remember that, formally speaking, even the Treaty of Berlin has not been ratified, and there are many things which cannot even be commenced until the ratification of that Treaty has occurred.
My Lords, I have now laid before you the general outline of the policy that we have pursued, both in the Congress of Berlin and at Constantinople. They are intimately connected with each other, and they must be considered together. I only hope that the House will not misunderstand—and I think the country will not misunderstand—our motives in occupying Cyprus, and in encouraging those intimate relations between ourselves and the Government and the population of Turkey. They are not movements of war; they are operations of peace and of civilization. We have no reason to fear war. Her Majesty has Fleets and Armies which are second to none. England must have seen with pride the Mediterranean covered with her ships; she must have seen with pride the discipline and devotion which have been shown to her and her Government by all her troops, drawn from every part of her Empire. I leave it to the illustrious Duke, in whose presence I speak, to bear witness to the spirit of Imperial patriotism which has been exhibited by the troops from India which ho recently reviewed at Malta. But it is not on our Fleets and Armies, however necessary they may be for the maintenance of our Imperial strength, that I alone or mainly depend in that enterprise on which this country is about to enter. It is on what I most highly value—the consciousness that in the Eastern nations there is confidence in this country, and that, while they know we can enforce our policy, at the same time they know that our Empire is an Empire of liberty, of truth, and of justice.
The noble Earl then presented (by Command) Correspondence relating to the Congress at Berlin, with the Protocols of the Congress.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, although I still adhere to the opinion I previously expressed, that it was not expedient that both the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary should leave England to negotiate a Treaty abroad, I beg now to convey to the noble Earl my conviction that as regards himself, 1775 personally, he executed what he felt to be his duty, and showed, at the same time, a disregard of what might affect his personal comfort, and even what might have affected his health. And I believe I shall express the feelings of your Lordships if I congratulate him on the very length of the speech he has just made, taking that as a sign that he has returned to this country with unimpaired strength. I think your Lordships will not expect me now to go into very great detail with regard to the Treaty of Berlin or the Convention of Constantinople, of which the Protocol has only this minute been laid on the Table; because your Lordships will observe that in the very elaborate account which the noble Earl gave of that Treaty, his arguments were exclusively addressed to many of his own followers who have certainly not been illiberal in criticism during his absence from this country. I wish merely to look at the general character of that Treaty, and to see how far it accords with the view which I myself entertain. The view I have entertained ever since it was clear that the misgovernment of the Christian subjects of the Porte touched not only our feelings of humanity, but was a source of danger to Europe, has been that an effort should be made—I should have preferred that it had been made by concerted Europe—to relieve them from that misgovernment and from the oppression from which those subjects suffered. Now, I must say when once you were agreed on the partition of Turkey—I use that word not with standing what has fallen from the noble Earl, because he ingeniously argued against partition and for partition, and, so far as I could make out any conclusion to which he came, it was that Turkey was in a very flourishing condition—on the principle, I suppose, that the spendthrift, who having got rid of the greater portion of his paternal acres, at last is able to boast that he has placed his property within a ring fence—when you agreed to give those large portions of Turkish territory to some of the Powers I do regret, what I think, showed a want of policy on your part—the manner in which the Greek Christians, decidedly the most intelligent race of Christians in the East, have been treated. The Greeks complain that the Government of this country has betrayed them. I trust there is not the 1776 slightest foundation for such complaint; but I must say that when they read in the reports of the speech of the noble Earl that his advice to them is to be patient, I think they will say—"That is exactly the advice you gave us during the war; and it is from following that advice that we are now placed in a position less favourable than we should otherwise have been in." With respect to Turkey, although I think some of the measures which have been taken out of jealousy of Russia will rather defeat themselves and assist her in increasing and propagating her influence in the future, still the mere fact of something like 10,000,000 of Slavs—who are Christians—being withdrawn from the domination of the Porte is a great advantage, and one in which I rejoice. I feel that considering the consistent advocacy, not lately but for many years, of the noble Marquess the Foreign Secretary, who has based the policy of this country on a Christian and not a Turkish element of the Turkish Empire, it must have been a satisfaction to him to sign a Treaty the general character of which is certainly that for which he laboured. I own, however, I was a little surprised to hear the satisfaction which the noble Earl the Prime Minister expressed at the share he had in the transaction; for up to the last moment, as I have understood it, his principle has been the status quo and the independence of the Turkish Empire. I can hardly conceive that anything but a stern sense of duty could have brought him to agree to the secret Memorandum of the noble Marquess and Count Schouvaloff, which appears to have been with such good faith carried out by both parties; and I cannot help thinking that it was with pain and grief to him—although he may not like to acknowledge it—that he had to sign the Treaty of Berlin, although the pen he signed it with was tipped with silver and taken from the Eagle's wing. There are some points in the noble Earl's statement which I will not quarrel with him for; but I do not put the enormous value the noble Earl does upon the fact that the Turks are to be allowed to garrison the Balkans. Their defence does not depend merely on their position but on the men, and I suspect it is a doubtful compliment to pay to bankrupt Turkey to allow her to garrison mountains which must require a great number 1777 of men, and must place her, should difficulties arise, in a position of great inconvenience between two populations sympathizing with one another and hostile to the Porte. The noble Earl appears to think this hostility has been entirely swept away by the simple expedient of calling one of these populations Eastern Roumelians instead of Southern Bulgarians; But I own I have not quite the same confidence as the noble Earl seems to have in the efficacy of this plan. There is one question which the noble Earl has entirely omitted—and I am rather surprised at it, because it is one which has excited as much criticism as any other—the retrocession of Bessarabia to Russia. When, in 1871, we obtained, by the help of all Europe, that Declaration of Russia with regard to Treaties on which so much stress has been laid—and properly laid—by the Government, we refused to come to any understanding with Russia until she made that declaration. The present Government have taken a different course, and I do not blame them for it. I think they did right, so that they could do it with perfect fairness to other countries, to enter into confidential relations with the Russian Government in a manner that enabled them to meet in Congress, and to give a peaceable result to that meeting. There is one thing, however, which I do regret, because I think it is inconsistent with the traditions that have generally guided our diplomacy, which was the arrangement under that secret Memorandum with regard to Bessarabia. There is something like a chapter of comedy in it. "What about Bessarabia?'' the noble Marquess might have asked. "We want Bessarabia," said Count Schouvaloff. "We cannot give it you," said the noble Marquess. "But we must have it," rejoined the Count. "Well, if you must have it, you must; but for the sake of our honour and our reputation, we must make the strongest objection to it in Congress, when the proposal is made." I presume Count Schouvaloff would say to that—"I have not the slightest objection to your making any objection or declaration you please, in case it is perfectly understood between us that these declarations are to be of a perfectly platonic character, and are to have no effect whatever." I own that I was surprised, when speaking of another part of the question 1778 —of Batoum—the noble Earl appealed to us to know what England could do in the Congress. When the Congress had settled not to take Batoum away from Russia, he asks how could England oppose such a decision as that? But the Congress agreed to Russia retaining Batoum because England had previously agreed with Russia on the subject, and because it was known that you would not really resist with anything but your empty words. I really cannot understand how this Treaty of Berlin can be considered in any other light than giving to Russia all that she really wished or ever expected to have. It is still more difficult for me to understand how the noble Earl claims as one of its results the independence of Turkey. The noble Earl boasted that he retained 6,000,000 of inhabitants in European Turkey; but he had just told us that a very large portion of them, I should think the largest portion—the people of the future—were the Greek subjects of Turkey; who are more dissatisfied at this moment than they have previously been with the Turkish rule. The noble Earl has given us in great detail the advantages which this Treaty has secured. The noble Marquess has written a despatch to the First Secretary of State describing its advantages. But not only that. The Foreign Office has been good enough to print, or rather to colour, a map to explain to us the advantages which we have secured to Turkey. Now, I remember—and similar recollections may occur to some of your Lordships—that a relation of mine who was very anxious to improve his country house showed to me two drawings submitted to him by his professional adviser. One showed the house as it was; the other showed the house as it was to be. By a very singular accident, the drawing representing the existing state of the house appeared to have been taken in the middle of November. The house was encircled with a dead fog; not a bird was to be seen in the air. No human or animal life was in the garden. There was no colour, no light, no sign of movement about the place. But by a very happy chance, the other drawing was taken as representing the brightest October day, with every possible effect of light and shade, with pigeons soaring over the house, beautiful ladies in the garden, and swans and fancy boats 1779 careering over the illuminated lake. Now, my Lords, I do think the Government have treated us a little on this architectural principle with regard to this map. In the brightest tints they have depicted these portions of Turkey which they have saved to Turkey; and the noble Marquess has pointed out in his despatch with great pride that two-thirds of the territory lost to Turkey by the Treaty of San Stefano has been restored by the Treaty of Berlin. I rather doubt whether the proportion is exactly as he has said. With regard to Eastern Roumelia, the noble Marquess in his despatch says it is under the direct military and political administration of the Porte. The noble Marquess has entirely omitted the next sentence, as to the admission of comparative autonomy.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I think the despatch does not agree with what the noble Marquess said. It shows in detail how very much the principle of naval and military administration is affected by the conditions which were wisely introduced into the Treaty. When I look into the map and see the large Province of Bosnia and the smaller Province of Herzegovina, I do not see any trace of what has been taken from Turkey, either by Austria or any other Power. The map also excludes what we thought fit to take to ourselves as our part of the spoil. I do not wish to detain your Lordships on the subject of Batoum. I think it very likely indeed that it is an insignificant port, as it was described by the noble Earl, though it certainly was more prominent in former negotiations. Now, my Lords, there is one point on which the noble Marquess has taken great credit—that is, with regard to the indemnity. Looking at the despatch, he shows that there is no danger from, this source. I do not say that there is any danger in the indemnity; but the objection is that it might be used as a lever on the part of Russia against Turkey. It is quite true that Russia agrees not to interfere with the loans that have security on certain conditions; but I cannot see that that prevents her by her declarations, if she is so inclined—which is not likely—from pressing in a general way to be paid, and saying—"I do not wish to interfere with your other cre- 1780 ditors, or to prevent your paying them; but I do wish you to pay me." Now, the next question that I wish to go to is one which was entirely passed over by the noble Earl, and which appears to me one that could be most properly discussed. Already, some days ago, there has been laid on the Table the Convention between Turkey and England, and it has been announced by the Government that that Convention has not only been signed, but ratified. I am certainly surprised at the perfect silence the noble Earl has observed as to the advantage he proposes to gain by the occupation of the country under that Treaty. That Treaty was alluded to in the Secret Memorandum. The object of it appears to be that, for one thing, we have got Cyprus, and also obtain from, the Sultan a promise to introduce reforms to be agreed upon between the two Governments, and the protection of the Christian and other subjects in Asiatic Turkey; but we also gave a pledge to help Turkey to defend herself from an advance by Russia in the country beyond that agreed to by the Treaty of Berlin. Now, I wish to say a few words with regard to that question. We have already had a discussion in both Houses with regard to the Constitutional points involved in bringing the troops from India without the previous sanction of Parliament. I am not going to open that subject again; but I will go so far as to say that the legal arguments in support of the measure certainly would reduce to a minimum the Parliamentary control over the number of the troops that can be employed by the Crown. The noble Earl urged another reason for keeping that matter secret. He said there were reasons of the greatest urgency that made it impossible to tell the House even at the time he was speaking. I wonder whether it is possible for the noble Marquess to tell us that great secret now. I do not think it was possible that these troops were brought over in order to seize part of the Dominions of the Porte. If it was only to take peaceable possession of Cyprus, what reason was there for not taking Parliament into the same confidence as you did in regard to the Reserves and other military preparations? I shall be exceedingly glad if the noble Marquess could find it consistent with his duty to tell us what the 1781 secret was. The promise that Cyprus is to go back to Turkey if Russia gives back what she has got is of a perfectly illusory character. Looking at it as men of business, we must see that the cession of Cyprus is a virtual cession of a portion of the Porte's Dominions. It is not necessary, according to the Treaty of Paris, for the Porte, in making a willing cession of any portion of its Dominions, to obtain the consent of the Powers of Europe. I rather dissent from the argument so much used that it was absolutely inconsistent with the Treaty of Paris that on the conclusion of peace, any portion of the Ottoman territory should be transferred to another Power. There may be a reason—perhaps the noble Marquess will give it—I do not know whether it was raised by other Powers or not, and it is one that I do not wish to raise on the part of other Powers, because I think there is nothing so undesirable as that we should slip away from engagements which we impose on other Great Powers of Europe. I have said a few words about Cyprus. No one rejoices more than I do at the extent of our great English-speaking community. No one rejoices more than I do in our naval stations in different parts of the world. Take Malta, where we are able to place a large number of troops, and to store provisions and coals, and from where we can at any moment send military forces wherever they are required. I am not quite so certain on another point—namely, that we always do increase our strength by extending our territories; that we add to our power by increasing our vulnerable points; or that we add to our military strength by disseminating our small army on more points than are absolutely necessary. The noble Earl declined to say; but I hope the noble Marquess will favour us with some of the information which it is quite possible may not have been in possession of Her Majesty's Government before Cyprus was taken by us. The information I have received on good authority is exceedingly scarce. I am told that there are no harbours—not even a harbour such as at Batoum, spoken of by the noble Earl. I am told that there are nothing but open roadsteads from which the access to the shore is sometimes difficult. With regard to the sanitary state of Cyprus, the information given by Her 1782 Majesty's Government is not perfectly satisfactory. The noble Duke the Lord President told us the other day that the death-rate of Cyprus was much less than, that of Europe. Now, I have some difficulty in ascertaining what the population of Cyprus is. Accurate statistical information is almost of modern invention even in this country. I have consulted the best geographical authorities. In one I find the population stated to be 60,000; in another, 110,000; and in another, 180,000. I very much doubt whether anybody in the world knew how many people died in Cyprus last year. How, on such evidence, can anyone tell the exact proportion of the death-rate? I only hope the information of the Government has been calculated on more accurate principles. Now, I should like to know whether it is your intention to make harbours and great public works? The noble Earl takes great interest in that country. I am quite ready to admit that I take a great interest in this island on which we live. I am not quite sure that we have nothing wanting in regard to sanitary measures, and I am quite certain that if the present Government had, from motives of economy, given up arrangements which were estimated by the highest naval and military authorities to be of the greatest importance to this country, I only claim some consideration for our public works at home. I want to know when this harbour and these public works have been made, at considerable expense, in what way do you mean to use them? Do you mean to use them for the purpose that was indicated in the despatch of the noble Marquess, who says that it places us in a position to defend Asiatic Turkey should Russia attempt to pass the boundaries? I believe that Cyprus is farther from the Dardanelles than Malta. I believe if we fight Russia for Turkey, Turkey will not be slow in putting every facility in our way at Constantinople. Therefore, if you put Cyprus in a proper state, it will be perfectly useless to send troops there. I am told it is for the defence of Asia. I am told you can send across and land troops in Asia in one day. But then they would have to cross a pestilential marsh, and to cross over mountains 1,000 feet high, where there is only one track. [A Noble LORD: No, no!] I am glad if I have been misled as to the pestilential character of the 1783 harbour. I do not know whether the noble Marquess will be able to tell us something with respect to another matter—I mean, what is the course Her Majesty's Government is prepared to take in regard to the Euphrates Valley Railway? Do they entertain any idea, either by guarantee or by making the work themselves, of making a railway some 900 miles in length for a country such as that which it has to traverse? Another use for Cyprus has been mentioned to me. A certain friend of mine has told me that if I were to read between the lines, I should find the real use of Cyprus is to defend the Suez Canal. I agree with Her Majesty's Government that the object of defending the Suez Canal is one of the greatest importance. I should like to know who are the persons likely to attack the Suez Canal? I would like to know whether, if they do attack it, whether by the addition of a naval station, which all sailors tell me is unfit for the purpose, you think your means of defending the Suez Canal are in the least augmented by the acquisition of Cyprus? You may have satisfied the Government of France, but you have wounded the amour propre of those Mediterranean Powers, who will be in future much less disposed to sympathize with your endeavours in the Mediterranean. I now come to a very much more important question than the taking of Cyprus at the present moment. It is the promise that has been obtained from the Sultan with regard to the reforms that are to be made. It is perfectly impossible that the noble Marquess the Foreign Secretary should persist in the refusal given by the Prime Minister to give us the slightest indication of your policy, and what you mean by the Treaty that you have laid before Parliament, and which is perfectly unintelligible without some such explanation. The Treaty begins in the Preamble by reciting that Her Majesty the "Queen of Great Britain, Empress of India," has agreed to a Convention with "His Imperial Majesty the Sultan;" but when you come to the clauses all this is changed. His Majesty the Sultan agrees to a certain thing and "the Queen" accepts. It is not even "Great Britain," but only "England;" and it is "England" and "His Imperial Majesty the Sultan" that make all these arrangements. With regard to these arrange- 1784 ments, I must say that nothing can possibly be more vague. They do not specify the reforms, and they do not specify what is to be done if we do not agree upon these reforms. I really hope we shall know if we are merely to give advice. Are we to place any confidence in abundant promises such as were given in 1839 and 1856? I think that the House will agree—and nobody more than the noble Marquess—that such a thing would be a mere sham. The noble Marquess points out that the principal thing to be looked at is the character of the administration. I think he informed us after his return from the Conference at Constantinople that the difficulty in Turkey was to be able to find any officials who were able efficiently to do their duty. The noble Marquess seems to suggest that English officers should be employed. In what capacity? Are they all to be Consuls? If they are to be Consuls, are we to imagine that Turkey will give up the habit of playing off one European Power against another, and that she will not invite the Consuls of Russia, France, and Italy, and other Powers, to come in? Do you think these Consuls will be always working with you instead of intriguing against you? Or are the English officials to act as do the Anglo-Indian Residents? If so, then, in my opinion, nothing can be worse. I think that no greater farce could exist than to proceed upon the precedent of Anglo-Indian Residents in the case of Asiatic Turkey. I believe there is no greater fallacy than to argue on the analogy that exists between our government in India and this government in Asiatic Turkey. In India, government was founded by an able and energetic set of merchants—not very scrupulous men—who did things that it would be impossible for a great country like this, in the present day, in the face of the world, to attempt. The Empire of India has been built up bit by bit; and when we first sent Residents, I believe those Residents were supported by the Rulers of those territories who were now willing to send troops to Cyprus, or anywhere else, for the suppression of outbreaks. It appears to me that you are taking upon yourselves a responsibility, and I do not see how you propose to carry it out. You have undertaken to defend, Asiatic Turkey. How 1785 is that to be done? It cannot be done simply by your ships doing as they have been doing during the war. If Russia desired increase of territory, you say that in case of need you might land troops. I may take an old simile—more true than a great many similes are—that a contest in that case between Russia and England would be like a fight between a dog and a fish. Now, I am not sure whether that fish ought not to be shut up in an aquarium at Bedlam who would throw itself on land in view of the foe dog's kennel at any time the dog might choose to eat it up. It appears to me rash to pledge ourselves to go to fight Russia in her stronghold at any moment. That moment does not rest with us in the slightest degree. I trust that God may grant that this country may rest in peace and prosperity; but I cannot say that we shall never have war—or, what is almost as bad—alarms of war. Is it not possible that our relations may become involved with Germany, France, or the United States? There might be some financial or other difficulty in this country, or there might be insurrection in India. Suppose Russia should contemplate further aggression, you may depend upon it her resolution will be kept silent as long as our prosperity continues. But if any one of the unfortunate occurrences I have mentioned were to arise, you will have no responsibility on yourselves, because it is not likely to happen within the next few years—but a responsibility which you have no right to place on those who succeed you. I was talking the other day with a friend who was most intimately acquainted with the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, and we agreed that nothing would have induced either of those two great men, or Lord Palmerston, or Lord Clarendon to have signed a single guarantee of this sort. In the conversation it was suggested that there was one very able man who might have been willing to sign it—the late Lord Ellenborough—a man of patriotic spirit and great ability, and who was certainly disposed to theatrical display. As soon as I had the opportunity I referred to one of his speeches. The first passage I found showed the great injustice of this posthumous attack on Lord Ellenborough. It says— 1786Noble Lords talked somewhat too lightly of a war with Russia. Undoubtedly, he thought it would be better to make war for the preservation, of the integrity of the Turkish Empire than after that integrity was gone to make war, which would ultimately be forced on this country. In the first place, the country would fight with Allies, and especially with France, on its side. In the second case, he was unwilling to say under what circumstances the country would be compelled to carry on the war. The war must be an offensive and not a defensive war.I know of no precedent of this kind, except that which exists between this country and Portugal. I refer to our old Guarantee with regard to Portugal. That country is very small, compared with Turkey. It is only the eighteenth part the size of Asiatic Turkey. It is, comparatively, at our doors, is perfectly easy of access, and it possesses means of defence which our own glorious history shows to be impregnable. Is this in any way a precedent for the Guarantee which we have given to defend Asiatic Turkey, some 2,000 miles from our shores, and contiguous to the enormous hosts of the Czar? The noble Marquess, in a despatch which he has written, states that it was evidently impossible that Turkey could defend her Asiatic dominions. With regard to the Armenians, I am glad to see that the Treaty provides for the concerted action of Europe with the view to secure good government for them. If Turkey is no longer able to govern her Mahomedan Asiatic subjects, it is perfectly idle to imagine that you can, by patching her up, make her that independent Power as stated by the noble Earl. Mr. Canning, two years before he died, boasted that he had called into existence a new world to redress the balance of the old; but he did not seek any material benefit for England. He did not seek to promote English interests by annexing Spanish soil; he did not undertake to teach Spain to govern her territory. He incurred no responsibility of this kind whatever. A noble Friend of mine, now sitting at the Table—the father of a Cabinet Minister—made the other day an eloquent and touching appeal to this House to support Her Majesty's Plenipotentiaries in the task before them at Berlin. He hoped that the peace would be a 30 years' peace, and that it might have the advantage of decreasing the augmenting armies raised for war. Considering the disappointment and indig- 1787 nation of the Greeks, the unsettled state of Eastern Roumelia, the strong irritation of the Western Maritime Powers, and, above all, the entangling engagements into which we have entered, he must be a sanguine man who can expect 30 years, or 20 years, aye, or even 10 years of peace from this arrangement. As to diminishing the armaments of Europe, we have set a bad example by increasing our military stations, and, I presume, by increasing those armaments which, when in Opposition, the noble Earl designated "bloated armaments." I remember—but I dare say the noble Earl has forgotten it—that some 20 years ago he—then Mr. Disraeli—made a violent and, as I believe, unfounded attack on the Government of the day—that of Lord Palmerston. He stated that Lord Palmerston, having no domestic policy of his own, endeavoured, by his foreign policy, to divert the attention of the people of this country from affairs at home, and that he contrived, by his restless foreign policy, to divert attention from the domestic measures which he ought to introduce. He said that the policy of Lord Palmerston was turbulent abroad in order that he might be left quiet and unassailed at home; and this, he said, was accomplished by a system which meant increased expenditure, large taxation, and the neglect of internal administrative reforms. I do not wish to retort on the noble Earl by the use of these strong words; I do not want to say a word against the noble Earl himself. It has never been my habit to attribute motives to my political opponents; but it is very difficult to resist the impression that the Government, having agreed wisely and sensibly to a Treaty, which I believe is not unreasonable or unfair in itself, but which was decidedly unpopular with a portion of their followers—endeavoured to regain the popularity which they had lost, and have imposed upon the people of this country, without their knowledge and sanction, a heavy and impracticable engagement—have entered into an engagement which, if executed at all, may prove both embarrassing and entangling in its operations.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I think I need not apologize for offering a few remarks on the subject of the Treaty which has been laid on the Table. I do not often or willingly address 1788 your Lordships; but, considering the connection which I have had with these negotiations at an early stage in their progress, I believe I shall be expected to say a few words on the present occasion. Looking at the enormous importance of the results of the Treaty upon the future of our country, I should be ashamed of myself if I did not endeavour to view these results impartially and fairly, without being unduly biassed, on the one hand, by the connections of political life, and assuredly without being influenced, on the other hand by the recollection of recent political differences. There is one point upon which I can heartily and sincerely congratulate the Cabinet and the House. Whatever may be the merits or defects of these arrangements, there is one thing in which almost everyone will agree, and that is, that at least they are better than the alternative of war. That supreme evil has been averted for the time, and I congratulate the Government all the more cordially on that, because I am compelled to adhere to the opinion which I formed, and which I expressed in this House some three months ago, that if the decision which was taken by the Government at the time when I left Office had been persevered in, we should be involved in results of a different nature. As far as the European part of this Treaty is concerned, I am bound to say that, looking at it as a whole, and looking at all the difficulties of the situation, I do not think that any reasonable fault can be found with it. Great complaints have been expressed that we should have allowed what is called the retrocession of Bessarabia to take place; but I hold that upon that point, the British negotiators have a perfectly good defence. If all the rest of Europe chose to acquiesce in an act which, though an act of injustice, was not one which touched any English interest or involved any special English responsibility, I do not think that it was our business to stand out against that proposal and resist it single-handed. The Russian Government have acted ungratefully, and by their conduct have turned a devoted and submissive Ally into an enemy; and, in so doing, they have given proof of what I have often observed—that Russian diplomacy is not so preternaturally astute as some people constantly suppose, but 1789 that it is often governed by personal impulse and caprice. Whatever the claims of Roumania may have been against Russia, I do not think she had much claim on the sympathy of Europe. Roumania had no grievance or complaint against Turkey. She went into the war as a matter of speculation, hoping to make a good thing out of it; and if the result is that she loses instead of gains, she has only her own Government to thank for that result. Nor do I think that any charge can be justly brought against the Cabinet with regard to the disappointed expectations of the Greeks. I have no doubt that the Greeks expected more than they got; but, so far as I am aware, they have no ground for charging us with breach of faith, or with having held out hopes which we were not able to gratify. I think that when the re-modelling of the Turkish Empire on so considerable a scale was once taken in hand, it would have been better if the opportunity had been taken for settling the Cretan question, which will be settled only in one way—and that is by allowing the people of Crete to obtain annexation to Greece. The island costs in garrisons infinitely more than the revenue which it produces, and whatever plans of local autonomy may be introduced, I do not think you will put an end to agitation or disturbance there until annexation to Greece is carried out. But while I speak of this as a matter of regret, I do not treat it as a matter of censure. Other Governments besides our own were concerned, and the question is, not what we may have wished to do, but what we were able to do. My Lords, again, with regard to the cession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria. I think the defence which my noble Friend at the head of the Government has made on that proceeding is quite conclusive. The Porte could not regain those provinces; the Porte could not re-conquer them; they were not in a position, considering the anarchy which prevails and the variety of races and of religions, to exercise the right of self-government; and if the Porte could not govern them, the only alternative was that Austria should take possession of them. But, my Lords, I do not quite follow the reasoning of my noble Friend when, in speaking of the separation of these provinces, he says, Congress resisted the policy of partition. I contend that when we give something 1790 to Servia and Montenegro, when we give two provinces to Austria, and when we take an island for ourselves; when we give some portion of Armenia to Russia, not to mention the Roumanian and Bessarabian arrangement; and when all these provinces are thus separated from the Empire and portioned out, that is a process I have never heard described by any other name than partition. But this, after all, is a matter of verbal criticism. I do not believe that the cession of these provinces could, either wholly or in part, have been prevented. I will only notice as a curious fact that, although, as I understand, the cession was proposed by the British Representatives, yet we well know that the transfer of the two provinces to Austria was part of the original engagement between the three Emperors entered into five years ago. Well, my Lords, I will now come to a larger question. The settlement of the Bulgarian boundary was received in this country, when first announced, as a great victory of English over Russian diplomacy. I should be very glad to treat it so, for one always wishes English diplomacy to be successful; but, although I cannot find fault with it, I cannot look at it exactly in that way. No doubt we have obtained, nominally, on the map the boundary of the Balkans as the boundary of Turkey; but the question is whether you do not retain that boundary upon such terms as to make it, for defensive purposes, practically useless. What have we done? We have given to the Bulgarians what in point of fact, is virtually absolute independence. But that country, with a population almost exclusively composed of Slavs, is too small to stand on its own legs, and must lean on some stronger neighbour. South of the Balkans you have given what I may call semi-independence—local autonomy, local self-government—to a population exactly similar—a population of the same race, speaking the same language, and professing the same religion. My noble Friend (the Earl of Beaconsfield) was quite aware of the danger which might be incurred; because, in speaking of the name which was assigned to this new province, he said—We do not choose to call it Southern Bulgaria, as North and South Bulgaria are one province, and form part of one Government.1791 Well, I have not the faith in nomenclature which my noble Friend appears to have. I do not believe that the difference of one name or another will affect the result. Looking at precedents—at what has passed in other communities similarly circumstanced—can you doubt but that a population of this kind, already semi-independent, will take every opportunity and advantage of the freedom they enjoy to make it more complete. You may keep a man quiet, if you tie both his hands; but if you allow one hand to be free, he will, you may be quite sure, use it to liberate the other; and, whether you call this self-governed province South Bulgaria or Eastern Roumelia, there must, there will be, perpetual intercommunication between the people on each side of the mountains, and they will very soon come to an understanding with one another. Remember what happened in the case of Wallachia and Moldavia. I very much doubt whether European diplomacy or Turkish Forces will keep them apart, when they do come to an understanding with one another, not with-standing that the Turkish Army holds defences between the two. I do not dispute the gallantry of the Turks—no one does; but the question is, whether, considering the limited military force which Turkey can now command—whether, with open war on the North, and with an insurrection to the Southward, the Turkish Army occupying the line of the Balkans would not find itself in a trap. A great point has been made of the fact that this New Bulgaria is excluded from the sea-board. For my own part, I say distinctly that I think, on the whole, the balance of advantages undoubtedly preponderates in favour of the arrangement sanctioned in the Congress over that of the Russian Treaty. But the advantage is not all on one side. A large Bulgaria, reaching to the sea, would be necessarily much more independent of Russian influence. It would contain a mixed population—a population not exclusively Slavs; and by the mere fact of its contact with the sea, it would be more open to English influence, for wherever a ship floats, there confessedly ours is the strongest power. Although, as I have said, I do not deny that, on the whole, the advantages of the limited Bulgaria preponderate; yet it is open to this disadvantage—that 1792 that small State north of the Balkans is absolutely inaccessible to you, and that the influence exercised over it will be exclusively Russian. There will be no port open through which you might put pressure on the people, and no commerce which, with a similar object, you can intercept in case of need. That is a set off against the undoubted advantage of the present arrangement. When, however, I come to read the despatch of my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, it seems to me a rather bold assertion on his part to claim that two-thirds of the Sultan's territory has been restored to his direct political and military rule. In what sense has it been restored? These Provinces, alleged to be restored, are self-governing, or partially so; and if only partially so, they will soon be wholly so. But to pass from detail, and looking at this re-distribution—this European arrangement—as a whole, I do not think there is any fault to be found with it, if it goes for what it is—namely, a temporary and provisional arrangement. A final and permanent arrangement it is not, and it seems to me idle to speak of it as if the Congress had interposed an effectual barrier to the extension of Russian aggression or Russian influence. But such as it is, it gives us rest and breathing time; the difficulties are for the moment, in one form or another, postponed, and that is not an inconsiderable advantage. My Lords, so far as England is concerned, the European part of the arrangement appears to me comparatively unimportant. The great matter for us to consider in regard to this settlement is the arrangement made in Asia. There are two branches of it. One is the annexation of the Island of Cyprus, and the other is the consideration given for that island, the Anglo-Turkish agreement or guarantee. So far as England is concerned, we have this to ask—Do we come fairly by it, and what is its worth? Now, my Lords, as to the first part, I readily admit that there is the widest possible difference between the plan which was finally adopted and that which was originally agreed upon. Three months ago, when I quitted the Cabinet in the last days of March, it was on account of the decision then taken—namely, that it was necessary to secure a naval station at the eastern part of the Mediterranean, and 1793 that, for that purpose, it was necessary to seize upon and occupy the Island of Cyprus, together with a point on the Syrian coast. This was to have been done by a secret naval expedition sent out from England, with or without the consent of the Sultan; although, undoubtedly, a part of the arrangement was that full compensation should be made to the Sultan for any loss of revenue which he might sustain. Now, my Lords, I will not argue in detail against this scheme, and as regards its more objectionable features, I can only now say that I could not reconcile it to my conscience, either as a matter of justice or of policy, to be a party, in time of peace, to the seizure of a part of the territory of a friendly Power, without the consent of the rightful owner. Nothing to my mind, except the necessities of self-defence, would have justified such a step, and no such necessity for this event ever was alleged or could have been proved. My Lords, if that step had been taken, it would, I believe, have startled all Europe. It would undoubtedly have thrown Turkey into the arms of Russia, and it would have brought about precisely the complications which for many months before we had been doing our utmost to avert, and for averting which my noble Friend has taken credit; since, undoubtedly, that move would have been followed by the counter-move of a Russian Army entering Constantinople. My Lords, it is more than three months ago since I expressed a fear which, judging from subsequent events, may seem to have been unfounded, that the Government were not merely drifting, but rushing into war. My Lords, I endeavoured to induce the Cabinet to re-consider this determination, and from whatever cause the change took place, I am heartily glad that that unfortunate resolution was modified. My Lords, I need hardly say that my lips were closed on this subject so long as negotiations were going on. I have heard the most extravagant and improbable reasons assigned out-of-doors for my retirement; but now that the matter is settled, and that no harm can be done by stating what is really an historical fact, I thought it due to myself and your Lordships to avail myself of the discretion given to me—as it is always given to an outgoing Minister—to state what really happened. My Lords, as the occupation has now been effected with the consent of the Sultan, 1794 no doubt the great objection which I entertained to the original plan is done away with. But even as matters stand, I do not think the proceeding one free from objection. In the first place, I doubt whether a new naval station is really required. We have Malta within two days' steaming, and I know it is the opinion of competent naval authorities that half the money expended at Malta, which would be required for Cyprus, would be of much more practical use; because, if we keep up two great naval stations in the Mediterranean, we must either do so at enormous cost, or else, which is the more probable result, we shall starve them, both. But that is a matter upon which I should be prepared to defer to authority. Further, I doubt the fitness and convenience of the place. It seems to be admitted that there are no harbours at Cyprus; there are roadsteads out of which a sort of harbour may be made; but that there is no harbour appears now to be an admitted fact. There are various opinions as to the climate, but this much is universally admitted—that at some times of the year it is very unhealthy. Now, my Lords, I come to consider what I am given to understand is the principal object in selecting Cyprus—namely, because it is a station which commands the line of the Euphrates Valley Railway. Now, opinions have differed very much as to the Euphrates Valley Railway. I have looked into the question, and, certainly, I have satisfied my mind that a more hopelessly unremunerative undertaking never was set on foot, even by British speculators at the expense of British capitalists. I believe that without a guarantee from the English or Indian Government, or both, it would be impossible to make that line pay; and if such guarantee were given, I believe it would be a dead loss to one Exchequer or the other of £1,000,000 a-year. Cyprus is said not only to be an important means of defence for the Euphrates Valley Railway, but for the Suez Canal and for Constantinople. As regards Constantinople, the distance is too great to admit of its having any practical value; as regards the Suez Canal, no doubt it is more convenient, and I fully admit the protection of the Suez Canal is a matter of primary importance to England; but I do not know who is threatening the Suez Canal. It is not likely to be threatened by sea, so long as we are there; and the mere fact 1795 that the Russians have got as far as Batoum does not convince me that they are in any threatening proximity to Egypt or the Canal. As to the value of the island, one thing certain is that it will involve us for many years to come in very considerable expense. It is not practicable for English settlers. The heat of the climate, I apprehend, makes it impossible that it can ever attain any importance as a settlement for English emigrants. It will, no doubt, under an orderly administration, become a populous and prosperous community; but it will be a Greek community, not an English one. It is not difficult to anticipate what will happen at the end of a generation, if our protection should continue so long; for we have already had experience in the case of the Ionian Islands, of a population for whose benefit we had spent large sums, whose material prosperity we fostered in every way, and who had nothing, so far as administration was concerned, to complain of; but who, not-with standing, one and all, rich and poor, old and young, asked nothing from us except that we should take ourselves away. My Lords, it may be argued that the land we have acquired is valuable. Well, that may or may not be so; but so long as nine-tenths, I might almost say ninety-nine hundredths of the soil of the British Colonies is still undeveloped, I do not see how we are going to be materially enriched by the acquisition of an island 2,000 miles away from home, where English labourers cannot work, and which is about the size of Yorkshire. I never heard we were richer when we had the Ionian Islands, or poorer when we gave them up. The question of Cyprus is really a small one compared with that which is involved in the price which we have to pay for it; and when I speak of the price we pay, I do not mean merely the penny in the income tax, which it will probably cost for some years—probably an indefinite number—but I mean the price paid for it in the nature of a guarantee. Now, my Lords, it would not have been reasonable to expect that my noble Friend at the head of the Government, whose statement we have listened to with so much interest, could to-night have gone into details as to the precise nature of the arrangement which has been made between ourselves and the Porte with respect to Asiatic Turkey. Probably, in many respects, those details are not yet in a condition in which, they 1796 could be laid before us; but one thing appears certain—that we have given a guarantee—an absolute and single-handed guarantee—to protect the Asiatic Provinces of Turkey. Now, my Lords, I have always held that guarantees are about the most dangerous instruments that you can have to deal with. They are very seductive, because, while they seem to give some immediate advantage, they involve no present expense, and they do not even involve the absolute certainty of expense and trouble in the future. A guarantee, such as we have given in this case, is in the nature of a speculation in which we receive a small payment down, and in consideration for that payment we pledge ourselves to an amount which it is impossible to fix in circumstances which may or may not occur. Again, guarantees are indefinite in point of time. There is no release from them on the ground of lapse of years. Circumstances may change, the advantages which you promised yourselves may not have come, and the pledge you may have given may be claimed at a time when it would be most inconvenient to redeem it. You are exposed, therefore, not merely to the risk which you incur in fulfilling your contract, but to another of a different and, to my mind, more disagreeable character—namely, the risk of not being in a position to fulfil it. Now, I need not go further back than the history of the last two years to illustrate what I say. As a matter of fact, we were not bound by the Treaties of 1856 to fight for Turkey; but I may venture to say that the bulk of the people of this country—nine-tenths of those who wrote or spoke on the subject—believed that we were so bound. The belief was universally diffused that if Turkey were attacked, it would be our duty—according to the terms of the engagement entered into by us—to come to the defence of Turkey. Now, suppose the wording of the Treaty of 1856 had been a little more stringent than it actually was, what would have been the consequence? Why, we know that an armed intervention in favour of the Turkish Empire would have been impossible. What has happened may happen again. Under the guarantee which has now been given, you must either hold yourself in readiness to go into a war utterly repugnant to the feelings and opinions of this country; or you must contemplate the possibility, in certain circumstances, 1797 of being obliged to say you cannot fulfil your bargain. I hardly know which of these alternatives is the least agreeable. Look at the matter from another point of view. It may, no doubt, be argued that it will always be our interest to defend Asiatic Turkey; and, therefore, that we have bound ourselves to nothing but what we should, in any case, have been compelled to do. But in that case I say, why tie our hands? Either the Porte will not place confidence in our promises of protection—and there are many reasons why it should not do so—or it will; and the obvious result of that will be that a country already bankrupt and with its people starving, will not fight on its own behalf, will not spend, except where it cannot help it, what little money it has on military preparations; and that its rulers will still go on wasting its means, neglecting its Forces as they have hitherto done, and with all the more readiness because they will believe we are pledged to make good their short-comings. The Turks have not shown much forethought at any time; but I cannot conceive anything which is likely to be more destructive of any capacity which they may have for that virtue, than this new arrangement which takes the responsibility of defence off their hands. This question of the effect of a guarantee of Asiatic Turkey seems to me to go very much deeper than a mere question of military protection and administration. What is to be the position of England as regards the civil administration of the country? We make ourselves directly responsible for that when we undertake to defend it. Suppose that disturbances occur which, fomented, as they have always been, by foreign intrigue, give rise to a local insurrection in Armenia or some other Province, similar to that which occurred in Bulgaria two years ago—I do not suppose it is intended that English troops should be employed to put down that insurrection, or, what would be nearly the same thing, that Turkish troops commanded by English officers should be employed? But if not, if your defensive alliance goes no further than a guarantee against invasion, there is nothing to prevent the disorganization of the country being effected by the old well-known means. You will have arms sent into the country; foreign agents, well supplied with money, will steal 1798 across the frontiers and through the mountain passes—risings will occur, orders will be sent from Constantinople to suppress them, fresh atrocities will be committed, and a state of things will arise which, sooner or later, will compel foreign interference. Your alliance for protection must become, in fact, a virtual annexation of the country—an annexation not settled by any Treaty, and not recognized by any foreign Power. We do not know that the Sultan is willing to submit to this. He may accept protection—no doubt he will very willingly—but, assuredly, he does not intend to part with the whole internal administration of his Empire. You will then have a perpetual undercurrent of resistance. You will have constant appeals to the natural and inevitable jealousy of other Powers. I know there are persons who look upon this as only an extension of the precedent already set in the case of the Indian protected States; but nobody knows better than my noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office that our relations with the Indian protected States have not always been of the smoothest character. But, not to speak of the difference in size—though that is not unimportant—there is this very material difference between the two cases—that in the case of the Indian protected States, the influence and interference of every other Power is shut out. No European Power can have recognized agents at any Native Court in the peninsula of Hindoostan. If any such agent were to settle, say, at Hyderabad, it would not be long before he would receive a hint to go. But you cannot deal in that way with Turkey. The Great Powers will each have their Ambassador at Constantinople, and their Consular Staff scattered over all the Provinces; and those Consuls will claim, as they have always claimed during the last 50 years, to interfere to a very considerable degree in the details of local administration; and as our exceptional position in this agreement will necessarily create exceptional jealousy—as there will be in the minds of every adviser of the Sultan a constant expectation that, sooner or later, we are going to take the country—I am afraid that any advice given in opposition to ours will be more readily listened to than before, and, if possible, it will be taken. I see no escape from this alternative. If you protect Turkey from external aggression, and if you do nothing as regards 1799 the internal administration, beyond giving advice which will not be taken, then you make yourself responsible for the maintenance of a Government which will probably be abominably bad; but if, on the other hand, you undertake to reform the internal administration, you cannot do it effectually with divided power, and without recognized authority. You are therefore, if I may use the phrase, on an inclined plane, down which you will at last slide to virtual annexation. Now, is it likely that other Powers will agree to such an arrangement? I say nothing now about Germany and Austria: they would probably agree; but would France, with which it has been the desire of English statesmen during the last generation to be on the most intimate and cordial terms,—would Italy, with which we have always professed, and I believe felt, much sympathy, look upon this increased power on our part in that quarter with equanimity? I believe the French Government have too much self-respect to make useless protests against what is an accomplished fact; but there will be in the mind of every French statesman a feeling that we have stolen a march upon them. There is one other aspect in which this protection of Turkey may be viewed. How will it affect the foreign policy of the Turkish Government? Your guarantee is one of a very peculiar kind. It is a protective guarantee against one Power. Turkey is dependent upon England alone as regards its Asiatic dominions, but upon Europe as regards its European portion. It is free as regards its foreign policy with all Powers except Russia; but where Russia is concerned, as we are responsible for what happens in the event of a rupture, we are bound to have a voice in the settlement of the dispute. There are many of us here accustomed to consider such matters, and I appeal to your experience and judgment whether such an arrangement is not so difficult as to be in practice utterly impracticable? I hardly like to argue as to what might happen in the event of this agreement ending in the manner to which circumstances seem to point; but if all the difficulties were overcome; if Russia does not intrigue, or does not intrigue successfully; if France gets over her jealousy; and if the Porte, contrary to all expectations, places itself unreservedly in our hands, we shall become 1800 de facto masters of the country. Admit that we do; will that be a gain to us or a loss? Will it be a source of strength to us, or a source of weakness? We must remember the enormous area of the territories we are taking in hand. They are larger, I believe, than Italy, France, and Spain put together. Our difficulty and our weakness in the event of our being involved in a war is the extent over which our resources are scattered. It has always been held as an axiom that India takes 60,000 European troops to garrison it, and to that extent weakens us as a military Power. Is it good policy to create a second India? Our Indian Empire has been acquired, for the most part, within the last 70 years. It has been held by us, as regards the greater part of the country, for a much shorter period: in a time of general peace and of tolerably steady prosperity we have gone on increasing our indebtedness year after year, so far as the Indian Exchequer is concerned, and I believe those most conversant with the subject are of opinion that were it not for one accidental and very precarious source of revenue—I mean the traffic in opium—the Indian Exchequer would even now be in a condition not far removed from insolvency. We have got India, and we must continue to hold it. We are bound to do that; but when we, with a population of 35,000,000, are already responsible for the protection and good government of a population of 250,000,000 on the other side of the world—is that, I would ask, a state of things in which it is desirable to draw upon our available resources still further, and to involve ourselves in a new liability, indefinite in point of time, and absolutely without limit in regard to the risk and expense which it may involve? There is, no doubt, an answer to that question which has weight with many persons. We may be told that all these great results, be they good or bad, which you foresee, will not come to pass—that Russia, after her late successes, will keep quiet for the next 20 years, and that we shall practically interfere very little with the internal administration of Turkey in Asia. When, therefore, any question arises, of acting on this Treaty, it may be said, its interests will be purely historical; it will be worth just as much as a good many other guarantees into which we have entered in times past, Well, 1801 things may go on in that way; and I am myself not altogether disinclined to think that that may be the real issue. But surely whatever responsibility we may avoid by not maintaining the engagements which we have entered into—that is not a very creditable way out of the difficulty. You cannot, it seems to me, escape from this dilemma. If we act up to the spirit of that which we have promised, we shall be involving ourselves in enormous risk and expense; if we get tired of the expense, as we probably shall before many years are over, we shall then find ourselves in the not very honourable position of a great nation trying to wriggle out of its engagements. There is another consideration—we may be called upon to redeem our pledge at a time when it may be practically impossible for us to do so. If we should be unfortunate enough to be engaged in war with any European country, or if some disturbance like that which occurred in India some 20 years ago should break out, it is perfectly certain that we should have no Forces available for the fulfilment of our obligations. It may, no doubt, be said that in that case, fulfilment being impossible, the plea of impossibility would be sufficient to save us from any imputation of a breach of good faith. That is very true; but is it, I would ask, wise—is it fair to those with whom we are dealing to enter into a permanent engagement of this sort with the knowledge that, under possible and not improbable circumstances, we may be utterly unable to carry it into effect? I have said nothing of any opposition which is likely to be offered by Russia to this arrangement. I have abstained from doing so for the reason, among others, that I think the Russian Government would be the very last which would be disposed to complain of or object to that which we have done. If the two countries remain at peace, as we hope they will, Russia will lose nothing; but should they go to war, it appears to me, speaking humbly, as a civilian, that we have gone out of our way to give our enemy an advantage which he never before possessed. Hitherto, in all discussions as to the possibility of war with Russia, it has been invariably contended that we had one advantage. We could choose our point of attack; we could invade while we could not be invaded. Now, it is evident that if We burden ourselves with the defence of 1802 Turkey in Asia those conditions will be altogether changed. For the first time, we shall have virtually a frontier open to invasion; for the first time, the enormous numerical superiority of Russia in military strength will become available as against us. Not being able to send an iron-clad into the Black Sea—and if we were able to do so, there being no good port there for our Fleet, now that Batoum is occupied by Russia—we should be thrown entirely on our land resources for the defence of Armenia; and it would certainly seem as if, in going half-way to meet Russia, we were doing our utmost to increase her advantages, while diminishing our own. But my noble Friend at the head of the Government says that the object for which we have undertaken the defence of Asia Minor is to protect India. If that is so, you cannot stop there. The Russian road to India does not lie through Asia Minor; it lies through Persia. If you hold Turkish Asia on the one hand, and India on the other, and your object is to connect them in one system of defence, all you may have done will be labour lost, unless in some way or another you obtain military control over the intervening territory of Persia; and, therefore, as an accidental and almost unforeseen result of that to which we have bound ourselves, we may find ourselves engaged in the defence of one of the feeblest States that exists, of one the Government of which is more hopelessly corrupt and oppressive than even that of Turkey itself. I do not wish to look at the subject—I never have done so—as if our relations with Russia must necessarily be those of permanent hostility. But, if I did regard them in that light, I should not find it easy to explain, or to understand, the exultation which this Treaty of Berlin has caused in the minds of many persons who profess to be animated by a feeling of great hostility towards that country. What is the net result of the Treaty so far as Russia is concerned? In Europe, she has given up for a time a considerable part of what she had gained. I say for a time—because I will not argue with anyone who supposes that the Bulgarian arrangement is final. She keeps Bessarabia; she touches through Bulgaria the line of the Balkans; she has the same power she had before to stir up disturbances and agitation in Roumelia; 1803 the autonomous, or semi-autonomous, State will, of course, sympathize with her, and however nominally you may have secured the Balkans as the boundary of European Turkey, I think it will be found that her line of defence does not practically extend beyond the country which lies immediately round Constantinople. In Asia, Russia keeps Kars and Batoum. She, no doubt, has yielded a strip of territory which, in all probability, she only took in order that when, the time for making the bargain arrived, she might have something to give back; but all that she really wanted has been retained. And by way of an effective defence against further encroachment in that quarter, we have substituted a single-handed guarantee for an European guarantee—that is to say, we have told the other European Powers that the affairs of Asia Minor are no business of theirs, and that we intend to charge ourselves with them altogether. There was a school of economists some 50 years ago—I believe they are pretty well extinct now—who used to argue that a National Debt was a national blessing, and that the more a country owed the richer it grew. I do not want to accuse my noble Friends who are Members of the Cabinet of having taken a leaf out of the book of those remarkable reasoners; but their argument appears to me to be very much of the same character. My noble Friends say that we increase our power, our influence, and our prestige, just in proportion as we augment the number of our liabilities to foreign countries, and as we extend the area over which our available resources are spread. For my own part, I cannot see the matter in that light, and I very much doubt whether it will be viewed in that light by the country. Now, my Lords, I end as I began. I hold this Treaty to be so far good, that it is infinitely bettor than war. If we had to deal only with the European, part of the globe, I do not know that I should call it a brilliant success; but I think the most unfriendly critic might say of it as Sir Philip Francis said of the Peace of Amiens—"Although nobody is proud of it, still everybody is glad of it." As to the Asiatic guarantee, it seems to me to be the most dangerous engagement, having regard to its ultimate consequences, that has been entered into by any Minister in our time. If I have at- 1804 tempted to argue against it now, it is not for the sake of making what I know to be an unavailing protest against an accomplished fact; but because I believe that the time is not far distant when all these arrangements will have to be reconsidered. Two years ago, it will be in the recollection of your Lordships, any man would have been thought insane who would have proposed that which has been now done; and when the bill comes in for payment, and the English people understand what they have bound themselves to, I am not at all sure that two years hence we may not find that public opinion on these questions is pretty much what it would have been two years ago.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, when the Eastern Question first appeared as one with which Europe, and England especially, would have to deal, this particular difficulty and embarrassment surrounded the counsels of Her Majesty's Government, that the very elements of the problem with which they had to deal were necessarily to a great extent unknown. Was the Turkish Empire, as some thought and said, a flourishing and powerful State able to defend itself; or, as some others thought, absolutely, and in all classes of society from the bottom to the top, so worn out and effete that at the first touch of military strength it must crumble into dust; or was there any intermediate truth between these two, as to the vitality it still possessed and the resistance it still could offer? If it had the power to defend itself, that was—speaking not as to any individual predilections, but purely from the point of view of an English statesman, and from the point of view of the interest and advantage of this country—perhaps, the most to be desired, because it would oppose a barrier to Russia without imposing on this country any kind of responsibility as to the nature of the institutions by which that barrier was set up. If, on the other hand, the darker anticipation was correct, and Turkey was destined to crumble into dust at the first blow of the aggressor, then problems of the most difficult and dangerous character would have to be approached—problems which probably could hardly be solved without the terrible ordeal of an European war. These considerations account for the attitude which Her Majesty's Government assumed. We 1805 felt it was not our duty to take a definite line with respect to the maintenance of the Sovereignty of Turkey, until we know, by the sure test of facts, of what the Sovereignty of Turkey was made. But when the war was over, the problem was, to a great extent, solved. We knew that the Government was wretched, and that a large body of the governing class was corrupt; but we also knew that beneath all that there was a vast stratum of population sober, loyal, devoted, and gallant, reaching up to the highest model of such qualities which history affords; and upon this know-lodge we based a policy of which we now lay upon the Table the successful issue. What we desired was to do all in our power to purify, to strengthen, and to improve the Turkish Dominion, using it for the purpose of resisting Russian encroachment and giving it a respite—a further period of strength and repose. This was the thought that inspired the policy which Her Majesty's Government have pursued. We have not, and never had, any sympathy with the misgovernment of Turkey. We have, and had, the most earnest intention to do all that in us lay to correct the abuses by which that misgovernment had been caused; but it was clear to us that the time of partition—if that can be legitimately spoken of as a solution that could hereafter be adopted—had not arrived; and that, at all events, for the present occasion, Turkey was to be treated as an integral member of the European system, and as able, with fair assistance, to hold the important strategical position in which she is placed. The next question was how was that object to be attained? How were we, on the one hand, to strengthen Turkey without continuing the abuses which existed within her borders; or, on the other, to refrain from so doing without making it appear that we were in favour of the policy of partition to which I have referred? It was clear that Turkey had been weakened by the war, and that, if she was left to meet Russia unaided, she must succumb in the struggle. Our object, therefore, was to provide her with a defensible frontier, to give her an Empire which her resources were strong enough to maintain, and to give her Allies who should support her in the hour of danger. It has been sufficiently described to your Lordships how these objects were to be attained; but I think, 1806 from the speech of my noble Friend who has just sat down (the Earl of Derby), that he does not sufficiently appreciate the importance of the part which the Austrian arrangement plays in this transaction. Up to the time to which I am referring, Russia knew that if she could only succeed in shaking the fabric of Turkey to pieces, she was the only possible heir to its remains. Poets and enthusiasts have foreshadowed a Greek succession to the possessions of the Turk; but their prophecies have not been verified. They may be true in a somewhat distant future, but no sober-minded statesman would now be found to maintain that Greece now has, or is likely soon to possess, strength to enable her to accept the responsibility, if the Turkish Empire went to pieces, of guarding the territories over which the Sultan now rules. This is as well known to Russia as to us, and she, while paying all due homage to the sentimental considerations by which so many persons are guided, know that Greece would never be a serious competitor with her for the possession of Constantinople. The fact, therefore, remained true up to within the last month—that if Russia could only shake the Turkish Empire to pieces she was the inevitable heir to its remains. But the arrival of the Austrians at Novi Bazar has changed the whole position of affairs. There is now a strong Power—strong in itself, still stronger with its necessary alliances—of which I fear not to say, that under its present and its recent Government, it is one of the best administered States in Europe—a Power which has solved, to a great and singular extent, the difficult problem of reconciling conflicting races and creeds to live under a common government, which is now on the high road to Constantinople; and, though no one who knows the tenour of Austrian policy would suspect her statesmen of the slightest desire to precipitate such a disastrous result, yet her presence has announced to the world in general, and to intending aggressors in particular, that if either intrigue or violence should shake the Turkish Empire to pieces, it will not be Russia that will rule upon the Bosphorus. I do not know that there is any ground for believing that Austria has entered into any agreement with regard to Turkey in Europe analogous to that into which we have entered as far as Asiatic Turkey is concerned; 1807 but the force of circumstances will compel her to the same line of policy, and I believe that the Government of the Sultan in yielding to her certain Provinces, which they were themselves unable to defend, has performed the highest act of statesmanship which any Government could have performed. This, then, is the state of things as we believe we have left them. We have, in Congress, given to the Sultan the support of Austria, and we have also given him a frontier which, we believe, he will be able to defend with his ordinary resources.
I wish now to offer a few criticisms upon the language held by my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby), who has taken the course which I should not have expected of him, and which I would not willingly have taken myself—of leaving the House, after making such a speech, without waiting for a reply.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I rise to Order. I am sure the noble Marquess would be the last person to do the noble Earl an injustice. My noble Friend has certainly left the House, but not for more than 10 minutes.
§ THE MARQUESS OP SALISBURY
Then I must proceed to criticize the language of my noble Friend, who has left the House for only 10 minutes. He objected to the statement that we had recovered, from the operation of the San Stefano Treaty, a tract of country extending from the Ægean Sea to the Balkans, and said that we had given a sort of semi-independent autonomy to the Province of Eastern Roumelia, which would not be under the government of the Sultan, but would provide no effective defence for the Turkish Power. I cannot conceive that my noble Friend has read the Treaty, because it is stated there that the political and military supremacy over that Province will remain with the Sultan. The frontiers will be held by his armies; the interior of the Province will be held by gendarmerie and by militia, officered entirely by himself; and if, under these conditions, the interior peace of the Province is menaced, then the Turkish troops may be called upon to act. I cannot see that military supremacy could have been stated more distinctly. My noble Friend has dwelt upon the word "administrative" autonomy. I admit that the word is an awkward one—but who invented it? 1808 Why, it was invented by my noble Friend. He used the word when proposing the Conference of Constantinople. He proposed a state of "administrative autonomy." Austria said she could not assent to it, and my noble Friend hastened to explain that administrative autonomy meant guarantees against misgovernment. Well, guarantees against misgovernment we have given. Guarantees against misgovernment exist in England; but I never heard that such guarantees prevented the Queen from adequately defending the possessions over which she rules. The people of Roumelia will, I hope, possess adequate guarantees against misgovernment. I believe that they can be obtained without, in the slightest degree, infringing on the military and political supremacy of the Sultan. That military and political supremacy was the thing which seemed to Her Majesty's Government absolutely necessary for the purpose of securing the safety of Constantinople under the altered state of affairs. It was the point for which we contested most earnestly at Berlin, and which, I believe, we have obtained completely.
That being the case, I think I may now pass, as so many speakers have done, speedily from Europe to Asia. Nobody has contested that we have provided a security in Europe for the Sultan, and though my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) has said that he should decline to argue with anyone who contended that the arrangement of Bulgaria will be permanent, I venture to say it will be far more permanent than any which has been proposed to supersede it. But that anything in the South-east of Europe will be permanent, even in the limited sense in which we apply that adjective to human affairs, it may be rash to assert; but it will be allowed, I think, that, on the whole, the chances of this arrangement being permanent are as great as the chances are as to any other arrangement that at present exists on the Continent of Europe.
I come now, my Lords, to the question of Cyprus. With respect to that question, we have had the advantage, which we have frequently enjoyed in recent times, of revelations from the dark interior of the Cabinet. In fact, whenever my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) speaks, he has an instalment of revelations to make. This is the third speech 1809 which my noble Friend has made since he left the Cabinet, and every one of them has contained an instalment of the fatal tale. The same objection was made to Dr. Oates, when he brought forward successive fragments of his disclosure. When taunted with the fact, his answer was that he did not know how much the public would endure. But, my Lords, I would venture to point out that there is a great inconvenience in these revelations from the interior of the Cabinet. Of course, my noble Friend must treat his own obligations in the spirit which pleases himself; but I do not know that I should like to announce, as broadly and palpably as my noble Friend has to the world, that any person who hereafter serves with him in the Cabinet must be prepared to have anything that passes, or is supposed to pass there, produced ultimately, in spite of the rule which Privy Councillors have heretofore observed. But, in the present case, the statement which my noble Friend has made, to the effect that a resolution had been come to in the Cabinet to take the Island of Cyprus and a position on the Coast of Syria by a secret expedition, with or without the consent of the Sultan, and that that was the ground upon which he left the Cabinet, is a statement which, as far as my memory goes, is not true—["Order!"]—well, is not correct.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I must ask my noble Friend, whether he intends to impute that I made an untrue statement?
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I hope that whatever statement the noble Marquess makes, he will act according to the usual practice of the House, and not use un-Parliamentary language.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
A statement of an unprecedented nature has been made which I am bound to answer, and the language I have used does not necessarily impugn the veracity of the speaker.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I have substituted the words "not correct." What I wish to say is, that I was not relying on my own memory. If I had been, I should have some hesitation in putting it forward, because my noble Friend's memory is one of considerable power; but on behalf of my noble Friend the Prime Minister behind me; on behalf of my noble and learned 1810 Friend the Lord Chancellor; on behalf of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for India; of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer; of my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, who happened to be in this House at the time the statement was made; and on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council, who were not in the House at the time, and whose testimony must depend on the account they received of the speech, I beg to state that the statement made by the noble Earl the late Foreign Secretary is not correct. My Lords, I have before dwelt on the extreme inconvenience of these revelations from the Cabinet for this reason. I have just been called to Order by the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville), who thinks I used un-Parliamentary language in contradicting an erroneous statement; but it is obvious that these revelations as to conversations that have passed, and of which no record is made, must, in the nature of things, be exposed to error—especially in an Assembly which very seldom takes a definite and clear decision until the time for action arrives. All kinds of contingencies are spoken of, all possible policies are discussed, and it is quite possible that my noble Friend may have heard some project discussed by this Member of the Cabinet or that. For my part, I cannot charge my memory with what my noble Friend alludes to; but certain it is that no such resolution as that which he has spoken of was, in their recollection, taken by the Cabinet. At the same time, the noble Earl opposite has placed himself on the side of my noble Friend, and thinks that these revelations——
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I beg pardon; a certain statement was made in the House. I did not rise to distinguish between what the noble Marquess and noble Earl stated as to what happened in the Cabinet. It was perfectly impossible I should have an opinion on the subject. I merely rose to Order, and I think I am justified in calling the noble Marquess to Order, for saying that what had been stated in his place by a noble Lord, one of his late Colleagues, was not true.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I was going to found on my protest against my noble Friend an appeal to the noble Earl, in the interests of Parliamentary 1811 government, and of the regularity of the proceedings of our Government, not to give the sanction of his authority to this plan of discussing what has passed in the Cabinet.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I really must rise to Order again. I said not one single word with regard to revelations made as to what passed in the Cabinet; but I have a right as an individual Member of your Lordships' House, when un-Parliamentary language is used, to rise and protest against it. I have not the slightest doubt it is un-Parliamentary for one Peer to state of another—whether a late Colleague or not—that what he said was not true, and I adhere to my remonstrance; but I protest against any further inference being drawn from what I said.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I will only repeat my assertion that I did not intend to make, and I do not think I did make, any imputation on the veracity of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), though, undoubtedly, I make the strongest protest against the correctness of the statement which he has made. That being the case, I will now come to the question of policy. The noble Earl has discussed with considerable severity the policy of annexing the Island of Cyprus, and has suggested all kinds of difficulties and dangers. The noble Earl has shown that fertility which I think his mind is apt to display in finding reasons for doing nothing in the matter. He has dwelt upon a great variety of objections which it is always easy to put together; but, as the noble Earl was going through them, it occurred to me to think what would be the nature of a speech we could suppose him to have made upon some project for the extension of territory in India, had he lived 100 years ago. The noble Earl has told us that, as the soil was not being developed, it was absurd to take an island in which English labourers could not live. Well, suppose the question of making one of these acquisitions in India was brought on 100 years ago, how ingenious would have been the difficulties which my noble Friend would have raised; how he would have magnified the adversaries England would possibly have to contend with; and how he would have put together an ingenious conjunction of imaginary dangers. How he would have gloated over the possible opposition of France. It is singularly 1812 easy for any mind which has the faculty of destructive criticism to such an extent as my noble Friend possesses, to conjure up reasons for doing nothing; but if these reasons had prevailed with our ancestors, not only the Empire of India but the Empire of England would not have existed. My noble Friend has sufficiently shown, by the language which he has used, and the gloomy vaticinations as to the fate of India in which he has indulged, that his sympathies are not very strong with those who built up that Empire. My noble Friend would have confined the enterprize and power of England to this single island. Perhaps he might, by a great effort, have consented to our acquiring the Isle of Man! But all these splendid, bold, and even hazardous enterprizes by which the power of this country has been built up, and on which the fame of England reposes, would have fallen beneath the touch of his chilly and negative criticism. We have been asked by the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) what we are going to do with Cyprus. We have been asked what are its qualities of soil and climate, and I am sorry I have not brought down some authorities which would have satisfied the noble Earl on these points. If, however, the noble Earl will consult the Encyclopœdia Britannica when he goes home, he will get all the information which he desires. But the answer to all he has said about the island being unhealthy, poor, and that there are no seeds of prosperity in it, is the simple statement that in times past it sustained 1,000,000 of population. I do not suppose that anybody will deny, in the first place, that the possession of the island by England is likely to exercise a great civilizing influence; and, secondly, that the presence of the English flag, the presence of English troops, and the accumulation of English material of war, will be a powerful aid if it should ever be our duty to assist any of the populations of Asia Minor in maintaining their independence. The real question is, whether we ought to have come to an arrangement by which we have engaged to defend the Turkish Empire in Asia in case of attack by Russia. The noble Earl (Earl Granville), when detailing all his objections to that undertaking, appeared to forget a certain Tripartite Treaty to which he was one of the con- 1813 senting parties. That was a Treaty which bound England not only to defend one single frontier of the Turkish Empire against one single enemy, but to defend that whole Empire, and gave either of the other Powers an absolute right to call on England for its defence. The real question to ask is, not whether we have taken a great responsibility, but whether the problem we had to solve, and the objects we had to accomplish, were worthy of that responsibility? The whole existence of this country as a great Power is a continual incurring of responsibility. No guarantee, no Treaty by which we could bind ourselves to enter on a desperate contest, is half so binding as an obligation to defend every inch of territory belonging to the Queen if attacked. Wherever we have a great frontier, extending and liable to be attacked by any military or naval Power, there we have incurred this terrible responsibility; and this responsibility may, at any moment, be called into real existence by any act of imprudence or aggression on the part of those States to whose attacks our frontier may be exposed. If we have made up our minds that we are to evade responsibility altogether, we have made up our minds that we ought to renounce Empire. But the question we have to ask ourselves is, whether the responsibility which we have incurred is greater than the responsibility which we would have incurred if we had left the thing alone? We must decide for ourselves whether we are prepared to leave the countries of Mesopotamia and Asia Minor to the fate which inevitably awaits them. It is impossible, unless the Sultan's power in Asia is sustained, that the people of that country should believe in his strength as they have hitherto believed in it. We should have had them speculating on its probable and early fall, and looking to his successor. In Europe good government and other qualities may secure the sympathy of a population. In the East the first quality that secures the sympathy of a population is the possession of strength, and the moment they were convinced that strength had gone from Turkey, the power of Turkey to maintain her Empire was gone. Are your Lordships prepared to see the allegiance of the people of Asia given up to the advancing Power? If so, I ask whether there would be any chance of 1814 maintaining the loyalty of the people of India, when once they knew that the Russian power was dominant down to the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, and that the English power was nothing compared with it? That was the real danger which we had to fear; and what we had to ask ourselves was, supposing Russia attacked these countries, would we defend them? The answer which we ventured to give on behalf of England was that undoubtedly we should. Well, if we had come to this resolution, was it not the wisest and most prudent thing to declare it? I have often heard it said, and I believe it to be true, that the Crimean War would have been averted if the Emperor Nicholas had known for certain that war would have followed. It was because the British Government of that day shilly-shallied and temporized, because they would not declare themselves clearly, that the Emperor Nicholas was induced to speculate on their supposed hesitation, and commit his nation to a point at which retreat became impossible. We desire, and I believe we have succeeded in our desire, to avoid any such danger. We have a strong conviction that there is a statesmanlike Party in Russia which does not desire this indefinite policy of extension and annexation; but which desires to cultivate and extend he resources of the country and avoid the perpetual recurrence of these exhausting and desolating wars. By pointing out to that nation the danger that will inevitably arise if this policy of annexation is pursued in Asia Minor, by announcing it in terms which leave no room for mistake as to the meaning of the policy which this country is likely to pursue, we believe that we have given, an assistance to the more statesmanlike, more prudent, and more sagacious of the advisers of the Government of Russia which will be invaluable to them, and that we have taken the strongest security for insuring in the future that peace which it has been our happiness to bring back to England.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I desire to ask the indulgence of your Lordships while I say a few words in regard to a purely personal matter. My noble Friend, who has just sat down, has made a statement that is very serious in its bearing upon me. I will only say in passing, that though I readily accept my noble Friend's correction of his words, 1815 when he said he did not intend to charge me with anything more than a want of accurate recollection, I still think that the words which fell from him carried a meaning much beyond that. But I take no notice of anything which may have fallen from my noble Friend which on deliberate reflection he would not maintain. What I have to speak to is a question of accuracy, and I feel bound to tell you that I distinctly and positively repeat the statement which I made just now as conveying to the best of my recollection that which actually passed. Everyone knows that business of the kind which we had been discussing is not put upon paper, and, therefore, there may be room for considerable confusion and ambiguity. The decision which I spoke of may have been modified in various ways. It is perfectly possible that some of the Members of the Cabinet did not intend to give it an absolute sanction; but I have stated to the best of my recollection what occurred. That I am sure your Lordships will not doubt. With regard to the question of memory, I have only two remarks to make. In the first place, when a man has to consider whether a particular decision will or will not allow him to remain in the Cabinet, he is not likely to be careless or forgetful in regard of what is passing. In the second place, foreseeing the possibility of some explanation being necessary at a future date, I made within two hours of the time a memorandum of what I understood to have passed. My noble Friend attacks me with some unnecessary bitterness for what he calls revelations of what passed in the Cabinet. When a Minister unfortunately feels himself obliged to separate from his Colleagues, I do not think it can reasonably be contended that he is not free to state the grounds on which the difference of opinion arose. It has been an invariable rule that he should do so; and it is quite clear that if that were not the rule, no man's reputation when he retired from a Cabinet would be capable of vindication from attacks made upon it. It is perfectly right that he should suffer considerable risk of misconstruction and misinterpretation until a time when no public injury would arise from that difference of opinion being known; but when that time has arrived, he has a duty towards his own character and towards the public. I have stated my 1816 reasons now, and I do not think I am likely to have been careless or inaccurate in my account of what took place.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
As the noble Earl has repeated remarks which show him to be under the impression that I have impugned his veracity, I am bound to withdraw any statement which may have seemed to have borne that interpretation; but I have still to state distinctly my belief that his view is not correct. In that belief I am confirmed by the opinion of my Colleagues. But whether he draws from my simile or from my words any impugnment of his veracity, I intended no such imputation, and I withdraw them so far as they seemed to convey one.
§ * THE EARL OF NORTHBROOK
My Lords, it seems to me that no public advantage would be obtained by a continuation of the discussion on the painful subject which has just been referred to. It is not my intention to trouble your Lordships with any general observations upon the Treaty of Berlin; and, indeed, in my opinion, Her Majesty's Government may fairly be congratulated upon many of the provisions contained in that Treaty. I shall address myself exclusively to two subjects which particularly concern the Queen's Dominions in Asia—the despatch of Indian troops to Malta, and the Convention with the Porte of the 4th of June last. When, some weeks ago, a discussion took place in this House upon the despatch of the Indian contingent to Malta, there was an understanding that it should be strictly confined to the Constitutional question; because, in the then state of affairs, it was considered that to discuss the policy of the measure might embarrass Her Majesty's Government. This reason for reticence no longer exists, and I desire to take the first opportunity of expressing my approval of the course taken by the Government. I will not examine whether the despatch of the British Fleet to Constantinople was necessary or right; but it is obvious that when once the Fleet was despatched, peace or war hung upon a thread; and, such being the case, it appears to me that Her Majesty's Government pursued a wise course in showing that they were determined to support that step by the whole strength of this country—by calling out the Reserves at home, and by the despatch of a portion of Her Ma- 1817 jesty's Native Indian Forces to Malta. The greatest loyalty and enthusiasm was shown by those troops, and the manner in which the movement was arranged is highly creditable to the head-quarter Staff of the Army in India, as well as to Sir Richard Temple and the Departments at Bombay, who had to carry out the operation. The measure, moreover, has, I am satisfied, produced a good effect throughout India. During the war between Turkey and Russia there had been, as was natural, some excitement in India; rumours had been current in the Indian bazaars regarding the power of Russia and possible dangers to India. It had, therefore, an excellent effect that those who paid any attention to such rumours in India should see that when there was a probability of war between Russia and England, so far from any apprehensions being entertained of danger to India—so far from the British Force in India being strengthened in order to provide against such dangers—the first step taken was to send away from India a contingent of Native troops, who might, if necessary, take their part in the conflict. My Lords, I also think it is a good arrangement that some of the Indian troops should form part of the Force detailed for occupying Cyprus, if, as I have no doubt will be the case, every precaution be taken to provide for their health. This is not the time to enter into the question of the employment of Indian troops in our garrisons in the Mediterranean in ordinary times; such an arrangement is a very different thing from the employment of a Native Indian Force on such an emergency as has recently occurred, or under similar circumstances, and it involves questions of no little difficulty. I will only say that I trust no decision will be arrived at regarding the general employment of Indian troops in the Mediterranean, or elsewhere out of India, in time of peace, until the question has been most carefully considered by Her Majesty's Government, in communication with the Government of India, The next subject upon which I desire to address some observations to your Lordships is the Convention of the 4th of June, by which Her Majesty's Government have guaranteed the integrity of the Asiatic Dominions of the Porte against Russian attack. It appears, from the despatches of the Secretary of State, which have 1818 been laid before Parliament, that this Convention has no concern with the position of the Turkish Dominions in Europe, as settled by the Treaty of Berlin. We have just heard from the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury)—and I was glad to hear it—that the arrangements of the Treaty of Berlin have, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, secured Constantinople against Russia. The Convention is designed entirely for the purpose of protecting British India against dangers which are apprehended in consequence of the acquisition by Russia of Batoum, Ardahan, and Kars. The Prime Minister has said to-night that the Convention is necessary for the maintenance of our Empire, and for its preservation in peace; but neither he nor the noble Marquess have explained to us in what the dangers consist which the Convention is to meet, nor how the Convention itself will add to the security of India. My Lords, as I believe Her Majesty's Government have, as many people are apt to do, very greatly exaggerated the power of Russia for offence, and have fallen in with the ideas of those who imagine that the least progress on the part of Russia is an immense danger to India; and as I think that the Government by this Convention, so far from having added to the strength of the Indian Empire, may have added seriously to its dangers, I wish, in the absence of any information from Her Majesty's Government, to examine a little in detail what the apprehended dangers to India can really be. We have often heard of the possibility of a Russian invasion of India; but is the invasion of India by Russia apprehended by Her Majesty's Government? I presume not. If there be any such feeling, I do not share in it. If there were any such feeling, I do not think that this Convention is a wise measure of precaution. Those who have studied the Russian Dominions and the Indian Possessions of the Crown, must be aware that there are two routes by which India cannot be seriously assailed. The first is from the North-east over the Himalayas, and the other is from Turkestan. The one from the North-east may be put aside as quite impracticable; and, to say nothing of the distances to be traversed, the resources of Turkestan can never sustain an invading force. We may take it for granted that the only 1819 route which presents even the elements of practicability for the invasion of India is by way of Persia. If Russia were to obtain a complete control over Persia, it may be said that she might collect an army at Teheran with the view of an advance upon India. I myself entertain no apprehensions on this score. The distance from Teheran to our Indian frontier is 1,500 miles, and there are many other reasons which lead me to put aside the danger as unworthy of serious consideration. But even if I should be wrong, this is a danger which can hardly be intended to be met by this Convention; for the Turkish territories in Asia which we have engaged to protect are not on the line between the Russian territories in the Caucasus and Persia, or between Persia and India, but lie far away to the rear of the line of operations. My Lords, it is possible that Her Majesty's Government may be afraid that the Russians may advance through Asia Minor, so as to threaten the Suez Canal or the Persian Gulf. As to the Suez Canal, I think the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) a year ago answered conclusively the apprehensions on that score. So long as England has command of the sea, the Suez Canal is safe. I should say, if any precautions were to be taken for the protection of the Suez Canal, they ought to be taken in another direction, and not by entering into this Convention. France and Italy are Mediterranean Powers, and it should be our policy to act in concert with them. What remains? The Persian Gulf. Is there any danger to the Indian Empire from the possible advance of Russia towards the Persian Gulf? I believe there is no risk of such an extension of Russian power in Asia Minor as can endanger our command over the Persian Gulf. But if it should be ever really threatened, we need feel no apprehension of being unable to take the necessary steps to maintain our interests; we should be close to our resources, our enemy far away from his. But it may be said that, although there may be no actual danger to India from the Russian acquisitions in Armenia, yet the prestige of Russia will be increased by them, the prestige of England will be diminished, and this will be disastrous unless some means be taken to counteract it. It is possible that the acquisition of Kars may be considered in India 1820 as having added to the power of Russia; but I am altogether opposed to the doctrine that the existence of such vague impressions is a sufficient reason for undertaking liabilities such as are involved in this Convention; nor do I see that the Convention in itself is likely to counteract the effect of such rumours. My Lords, rumours regarding the advance of the power of Russia are not new. They have often been considered by Indian statesmen; and, in the opinion of most Indian statesmen of late years—for instance, of Lord Canning, Lord Lawrence, and Lord Mayo—they should be met, not by such measures as are contained in this Convention, but by the good government of India, by the development of her resources, by the maintenance of friendly relations with our neighbours, and by satisfying them that we have no desire to extend our own territories, or to interfere unnecessarily with their internal affairs. I will read the words used in 1869 by my noble Friend (Lord Lawrence), then Viceroy of India, than whom no man was better able to form a judgment upon the military and political position of India—Should a foreign Power [he wrote expressing the deliberate opinion of the Government of India, of which he was the head] such as Russia, ever seriously think of invading India from without, or, what is more probable, of stirring up the elements of dissatisfaction or anarchy within it, our true policy, our strongest security, would then, we conceive, be found to lie in previous absence from entanglements at either Cabul, Candahar, or any similar outpost,"—and entanglements at Cabul or Candahar would be trifles compared with those which may result from this Convention—in full reliance on a compact, highly-equipped, and disciplined Army stationed within our own territories—in the contentment, if not the attachment of the masses—in the sense of security of title and possession with which our whole policy is gradually imbuing the minds of the principal chiefs and the native aristocracy—in the construction of material works within British India which enhance the comfort of the people, while they add to our political and military strength—in husbanding our finances, and consolidating and multiplying our resources—in quiet preparation for all contingencies which no Indian statesman should disregard, and in a trust in the rectitude and honesty of our intentions, coupled with the avoidance of all sources of complaint which either invite foreign aggression or stir up restless spirits to domestic revolt,1821 I wish that Her Majesty's Government had listened rather to the wise opinions of my noble Friend than to the exaggerated views of the power of Russia which appear to have influenced them. But, my Lords, is it supposed that the Treaty of Berlin and this Convention will be acceptable to the Mahomedan subjects of the Queen in India? If I am not greatly mistaken, the Mahomedans in India would have been delighted if Her Majesty's Government had given an effective support to the Porte, and had undertaken the support of Turkey against Russia. But is it conceivable that Mahomedans who are sincere in their religious convictions can be gratified at a Treaty, which is, in effect, an Act for the partition of the Turkish Empire? Is it likely that they will be pleased to hear that the dominions of Turkey in Europe have been reduced so as to comprise only 6,000,000 of people, or that they will contemplate with satisfaction the probable assumption by the British Government of the administration of the Asiatic territories of the Sultan? My Lords, it is well to remember that no support which England can give to the Turkish Empire will conciliate the disloyal portion of the Indian Mahomedans to our rule. This is not mere theory. We know how little the expenditure of English blood and money in defence of Turkey influenced the disloyal Mahomedans a quarter of a century ago. It was not a year after the Crimean War when the Indian Mutiny broke out, and one of the main instigators of that Mutiny was a Mahomedan who had just been to Constantinople, and had himself seen the sacrifices we had made for the Turkish Empire. The disaffected Mahomedans were not influenced for a moment by the sacrifices we made for the defence of Turkey. My Lords, I have endeavoured to examine the dangers to India which may be supposed to result from the Russian acquisitions in Armenia, and I can come to no other conclusion than that the power of Russia to endanger India is a bugbear conjured up by Her Majesty's Government, and that no serious danger to India can result from those acquisitions. I now come to the consideration of the Convention itself. Its objects are partly military and partly civil. It provides for the protection of Asiatic Turkey by England from Russian 1822 attack, and for the reform of the administration of the Asiatic Dominions of the Porte. It is somewhat remarkable that there are no stipulations for the purpose of carrying out the military objects of the Convention. If the obligation we have incurred is not to be a mere paper obligation—if we are not to trust to the chapter of accidents, and be liable at any time to be drawn into war under the greatest possible disadvantages—I presume the first thing to be done is that Her Majesty's Government should arrange with the Porte for the construction and armament of some fortified position, either at Erzeroum or elsewhere, to afford a basis for the defence of the Turkish frontier against an attack from the Russian Force in the Caucasus. Her Majesty's Government must also, I presume, arrange for the organization of a respectable Turkish Force—say of 50,000 men—for the defence of the frontier. The Turks have proved themselves to be excellent troops; but they are badly officered, and their Army is almost entirely deficient in the medical and supply services, which are essential for operations in the field. My Lords, I find no stipulations of the kind in the Convention, and it seems that the only measure which Her Majesty's Government have taken to enable us to fulfil our obligations is the occupation of the Island of Cyprus. I should have liked to hear some explanation of the value of Cyprus for the defence of the Asiatic frontier of Turkey. It seems to me to be very doubtful whether Cyprus is well situated to form the base of any military operations we may have to undertake for this purpose. It would rather appear that in the event of any such operations, as in the Crimean War, the natural base would be Constantinople, and that the Force would be despatched to Trebizonde, or to some point nearer the scene of operations than Alexandretta. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) addressed some weighty observations to your Lordships on the subject of Cyprus; but the noble Marquess who spoke last (the Marquess of Salisbury), had no better answer to give to those observations than to say that as the noble Earl objected to the acquisition of Cyprus, it follows that if he had lived in the times of Clive or Warren Hastings, he would have objected equally to the acquisition 1823 of our Indian Empire. The noble Marquess apparently could give us no information whatever as to the advantages or disadvantages of Cyprus, otherwise than by referring your Lordships to The En-cyclopœdia Britannica. I wish the noble Marquess had been able to give us some assistance in this matter—that we might at least have had one half-pennyworth of bread to all this sack. My Lords, I am so confident in the power and resources of England, that I do not doubt that the undertaking given by Her Majesty's Government can be carried into effect. I do not say that this country has not troops enough, and money enough, to defend the Asiatic frontier of Turkey against Russia; but I contend that as regards the object which the Prime Minister has told us is contemplated by the Convention—namely, the maintenance of our Indian Empire—we have undertaken a liability which is unnecessary, which is certain to be inconvenient, and which may be dangerous. Your Lordships know well that England cannot maintain such armies as are at the disposal of the Continental Powers of Europe, without entirely altering our military system. Having undertaken this liability to protect the Asiatic frontier of Turkey, we may be called upon to fulfil it at a time when there may be some other demands upon our military resources, possibly really affecting the security of India; and it would be in the power of Russia, by a menace of the Asiatic frontier of Turkey, seriously to cripple our available military strength. As regards the civil part of the Convention, your Lordships have heard more than once to-night of the engagements into which Her Majesty's Government have entered. By the 61st Article of the Treaty of Berlin, there is an undertaking on the part of the Porte to carry out without further delay the ameliorations and reforms required by the Armenians. But the improvement of the internal administration of the Asiatic Dominions of the Porte has not been otherwise provided for by the Treaty of Berlin. It appears, however, that we have undertaken in the Convention to prevent misgovernment in Asiatic Turkey. I should like to have heard something from the noble Marquess or the Prime Minister, as to the manner in which this obligation is to be carried into effect. I believe the condition 1824 of the Turkish Dominions in Asia to be deplorable. As regards the cultivators of the soil, who, as your Lordships are aware, constitute the most important portion of the population in all Eastern countries, full information will be found in a Report made in 1869 by Mr. Palgrave, who was then British Consul at Erzeroum. That Report shows that by bad laws and bad administration, the cultivators of the soil have been reduced to the verge of ruin, the old landed gentry have been swept away, and so long as Turkish rule exists, Mr. Palgrave can see no hope of a remedy. The corruption which extends throughout the whole Administration—the want of means of communication—the neglect of education—the maladministration of justice—in short, the accumulation of every abuse and defect which is possible even in an Asiatic State, has produced a condition of things which I believe does not find a parallel in any country in the East, unless, perhaps, in Persia. My Lords, we have heard from the Prime Minister that the reforms are to be carried out in communication with the Sultan, and with his concurrence. Can any of your Lordships, knowing what the Government of Turkey is, and remembering the history of the last 20 years, really suppose that there is a probability of the Turkish Government voluntarily reforming the administration of the Asiatic Provinces in accordance with our advice? What reforms are necessary to put this country into a decent state? The first thing to be done is to revise the assessment of the land, and to try to set up some persons having an interest in the land between the occupiers and the Government. Then you must have a well-organized and well-paid police, honest officers, and Courts of Justice which can be relied upon. Is it possible to get all this in Turkey? Where is the necessary money to come from—where are the resources? Is it probable that these reforms will be made with the consent of the Turkish Government; and if not, in what position shall we be placed? In the same position as we have been placed with regard to some of the protected States of India. We shall keep up the Turkish Government, protecting it from external attack; and when we find the people badly governed, have we no remedy to apply? That is a state of things which neither Parlia- 1825 ment nor the country would tolerate. Notwithstanding what has been said to-night—that there is no partition of Turkey—it seems to me, if this Convention is carried out, that we run very great risk of being forced in the end to annex, or at least to administer, the whole of Asiatic Turkey. What will be the result of that? We shall be told that is rather a desirable thing; that what we have done in India can be done in Asiatic Turkey; that we have magnificent officers in India who will be able to administer the country, and that if we should be forced to annex it, it will add to the strength of the Empire. That is not my opinion. It is a very different thing to acquire gradually such an Empire as we have obtained in India, and to have thrown on our hands, all at once, a country as large as half of Europe, which we shall have to raise from the state which I have endeavoured to describe into a condition of prosperity. Moreover, Asiatic Turkey is essentially a Mahomedan country. Is it likely that 10,000,000 of Mahomedans will be long content to be governed by British officers and under British rule? Will our position be secure without the presence of a large Force of British troops? And will not the necessity of providing such a Force be a stain upon England and a weakness to India? The noble Marquess thinks that in consequence of the Russians possessing Ears, the Mahomedan population of Asia Minor will be content to gravitate towards Russian rule. I do not believe it. Mahomedanism is a religion which chafes under foreign rule, especially the rule of a nation whose religion is not Mahomedan. A really religious Mahomedan cannot be content with other than Mahomedan rule. I maintain that the administration of Asiatic Turkey, which under certain circumstances must result from this Convention, will be not a strength, but a weakness, to the Empire. The considerations which I have urged upon your Lordships respecting the civil administration of Turkey in Asia will show my opinion of the difficulties which we may, at some time or other, have to encounter if this Convention be carried into effect. At the same time, they may to some extent satisfy your Lordships that there is no probability that Russia will ever become a danger to us, if she should be really 1826 desirous of extending her dominions in Asiatic Turkey, for she would have to encounter precisely the same difficulties that I have endeavoured to describe. I entreat Her Majesty's Government, both with regard to the military arrangements to be made in consequence of this Convention, and with regard to the arrangements for the civil reforms to which they have pledged themselves, to act with great caution, and not to commit themselves to any further measures until they see how far the Turkish Government are willing to meet their views, and how far their policy can be carried into practical effect. My Lords, there is no one of your Lordships who has been so recently and so intimately connected with Her Majesty's Indian Empire as I have. No one can feel more anxiety for the welfare of that Empire, or a firmer determination to assist in protecting it from all dangers; but I am convinced that the policy of Her Majesty's Government on which the Convention with the Porte of the 4th of June has been entered upon, was prompted by exaggerated apprehensions of the danger to India from the acquisition of a portion of Turkish Armenia by Russia; and, further, I think that the Convention itself, so far from being likely to have the effect, contemplated by the Prime Minister, of maintaining our Indian Empire and preserving its peace, is certain to bring us into considerable difficulties, and may become a serious danger to the interests of that Empire which it is the desire of Her Majesty's Government to protect.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
The speech of the noble Earl who has just sat down seems to me to call for a few remarks on my part. The noble Earl has been somewhat inconsistent in the course he has taken. He seems to think that, as a necessity of the case, we must suppose that Russia is about to invade India, or that there is a probability of it. Now, an absolute invasion of India by Russia is a danger which no one who is acquainted with the great distances between the two countries has in immediate contemplation; and the danger which has been supposed to exist has been rather the effect which the approach of Russia would have on the Indian population. The statement of the noble Earl, that he approved all that was done with respect to Europe, and that he also ap- 1827 proved the despatch of the Indian troops to the Mediterranean, was wholly inconsistent with the rest of his argument, that the effect on the people of India would be nothing. The fact of bringing over the Indian troops showed that England was bound to India both in government and people. The noble Earl could not but admit that it would have a material effect on India; and, therefore, in commending the use of the Indian troops, he was relying on the very effect which he affected to depreciate. Then the noble Earl said he did not think Russia would ever think of invading the territory of Asia Minor; but, if so, all the difficulties and dangers which he apprehended fall to the ground; and those wars and rumours of wars to which my noble Friend below the Gangway and the noble Earl opposite alluded are gone, and we are left in peace to bring things in Turkey to a better condition. The argument of the noble Earl, who has governed 40,000,000 of Mahomedans himself with success, that we shall be unable to bring into a better condition the Mahomedans of Asiatic Turkey, seems to be contrary to all sound reasoning. The noble Earl supposes we have made a Convention by which we are to wave a wand and immediately produce contentment, happiness, and peace in regions which for years have been left desolate and in confusion. We pretend to do no such thing. As my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has stated in the letter accompanying the Treaty, Turkey has another opportunity of adopting measures of good government, and this, of course, must be done by degrees. Does the noble Earl mean to say that because Asia Minor and Asiatic Turkey generally is in this miserable condition, the populations were so degraded and debased that England is to abstain from holding up a finger in their behalf? Why, two years ago, the Government were being continually reproached because they had not used force in order to compel Turkey to govern her populations better. Yet, now, because we have entered into a Convention dependent on the good conduct of Turkey, a hobgoblin is conjured up, and we are told that we are embarking on those great dangers and difficulties which we were invited to court two years ago. But 1828 suppose that, contrary to all these dismal vaticinations, we introduce peace and prosperity into these countries? Is not that an object for which a nation may properly incur some little trouble and responsibility? When the noble Earl says that no means exist for bringing about such prosperity, I would ask him whether he has lost all confidence in his countrymen? Does he not know that the moment peace, order, and tranquillity are introduced into a country so rich in itself, English and European capital will flow towards that country? The policy of this country for generations past has been one which the noble Earl seems to think is entirely wrong. He appears to think that if Russia were to advance on Asia Minor and to go to the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf, we ought to stand aloof.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
Well, if that is not the policy which the noble Earl recommends, what is it? The noble Earl is, in fact, speaking in a different tone from that which has been adopted by every statesman in this country for generations past. Why should the Indian troops have been brought to take part in the proceedings which were apprehended some time ago? It has always been held that the possession by Russia of Constantinople, the control of the Straits and the Black Sea, and also, probably, of the Mediterranean, would have a most prejudicial effect on our Indian Possessions. We are asked by the noble Earl to give an account as to how we are to assist the Turks in their civil and military government. I was astonished at his proposal that we should tell him the military preparations we are going to make for the defence of Asiatic Turkey. We have not undertaken to defend the frontiers of Asiatic Turkey by military operations on that particular point. We merely say that if those frontiers are menaced we will defend Turkey against the aggressor; but the mode of doing so is a military question to be solved at the time. With regard to the civil administration, the noble Earl himself gave such a description of what is required that one might hope that he may be sent to administer the country; because, if he is, there will be great hopes of his bringing about every reform that is necessary. The Treaty 1829 which has been concluded with Turkey does not provide the means by which reforms are to be effected. On the contrary, it provides that all these matters are to be settled afterwards. There are stringent conditions; and, in my opinion, we should have committed a great wrong if we had undertaken to assist Turkey in the way we have without binding her to good government. Reference has been made to the difficulties which the Sultan had experienced in the beginning of his reign. Never, probably, was a man so unfortunate. There was never a day in which he could consider himself out of personal danger. The Sultan has been in a position such as no Monarch on earth probably ever was in before. And yet people expect him to bring about, instantly, enormous changes in Asiatic Turkey. I believe the Sultan is a man of good will and good purpose; but, unfortunately, he has been surrounded, as other Sultans have been, at Constantinople by men who have been parties to the old and corrupt system of government. Let us hope that we shall, to a certain extent, relieve him, and that the necessity of his position, with Europe looking on at the work which is being accomplished, and with the warnings of those many years which have passed over without any interference on the part of the Government of which the noble Earl opposite was a Member, in order to effect a single reform in Turkey, will now lead to a better state of things. You pledged yourselves by the Treaty of 1856 to bring about good government in Turkey, but what did you do to enforce what you had promised? It is an old vulgar adage that ''too many cooks spoil the broth," and I am afraid that what was the business of all the Powers of Europe was treated very much as if it was nobody's. But now all that is changed. We have undertaken, as a matter of real business, a duty which casts upon us a great responsibility; and if we can bring about in Asiatic Turkey anything like peace and prosperity, even though a long period may pass over—and I say it must be a work of time, it is a thing which must be done carefully and gradually—if we can bring about a higher degree, I will not say of the civilization of modern Europe, but of civilization and order, so that the reign of violence will cease, and men will be able to attend to their legi- 1830 timate industries, we shall have done a work which will be a satisfaction for the responsibilities which we have undertaken, and we shall have fulfilled the highest duty of a civilized nation.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, before I allude to what has been said with regard to Asia Minor, may I be permitted to recall the attention of the House to some remarks made by the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, which were not noticed, I believe, by my noble Friend who followed him (the Earl of Northbrook). Considering that the policy pursued in the East for the last two or three years may now be considered to have reached its natural termination, I do not think it is at all unreasonable that we should take a general view of its results. There are various ways in which that may be done. If we look at the general result from the point of view which was very popular not long ago with many Members of the Party opposite in connection with the foreign policy of the country, I do not think we can feel any deep satisfaction at what has recently taken place. Many Members of that Party were very anxious that the position of Turkey should be maintained, and that her independence should not be sacrificed; and the result is what the noble Earl at the head of the Government described, not as a "partition," because that is an offensive word, but as a "re-distribution" of the Dominions of the Porte. This reminds me of some well-known lines in Shakspeare—Convey, the wise it call: steal!foh: a fico for the phrase.We are told that what has been done is not a partition, but a re-distribution; but by whatever name it is called, it means exactly the same thing. There have been partitions of various kinds, and I am sure the noble Earl opposite would be the last person to forget that Poland has been effectually partitioned or redistributed by degrees. There was more than one bite at that cherry, and by the very large bite which has now been taken at Turkey, the way has been paved for its partition at no distant day. I was quite surprised to hear the noble Marquess opposite speak in the manner that he did of the policy which has been pursued recently. He said that the principle which the Government had 1831 laid down for itself was that of watching to see whether some opportunity might not present itself for re-instating and re-invigorating the Porte. My Lords, is this re-instating and re-invigorating the Porte? The Porte might well exclaim—"Heaven preserve us from such a process of re-instating and re-invigorating!" Why, Turkey in Europe has almost ceased to exist. This process of re-instating and re-invigorating has altered the whole position of Turkey. The Treaty of Paris may have been open to some objections; but it was, at all events, a Treaty which preserved the whole of Turkey complete, and not a mere fragment of it, as is the case under the arrangement explained by the noble Earl at the head of the Government. This is not, however, in my view, a cause for regret. I do not think, that as matters stand, the partition of Turkey effected by the Congress is a thing that ought to be regretted, and I agree very much with the late Foreign Secretary (the Earl of Derby) that, looking at all the circumstances, the Congress has probably made the best it could of the terrible mess it had to deal with. The noble Marquess has spoken of the position of Austria, as if he had made quite a new discovery, as if he were making a revelation to the House. He has told us that Austria is a Great Power, and one which could not but have to be reckoned with in any settlement of the Eastern Question. [The Marquess of SALISBURY interposed an explanation which was inaudible.] I perfectly well remember that the noble Marquess spoke of the position of Austria in regard to Novi Bazar, as if that had settled the Eastern Question. If anybody tells me that what occurred in that respect settled the Eastern Question, he must believe me to be a very credulous person. I venture to say that the position of Austria in relation to this question is no recent discovery. Anybody who remembers the Crimean War, and the position of European Turkey during the progress of that struggle, must feel that there is nothing new in the position of Austria. There is nothing new in the present position of Austria except that she has accepted, and taken part in, the partition of Turkey; and unless Austria was to be destroyed, she could not sit by and see Russia take position of European Turkey without interfering. The em- 1832 barrassments which Austria has suffered owing to the peculiarities of her position, and owing to the difficulties connected with the Maygar and Slav populations, are pefectly well known, and I do not see any reason to find fault with her for the course which she has recently pursued. That you yourselves have discovered that Austria took an interest in the Eastern Question, and, therefore, that the interests of the Porte are safe, is one of the greatest delusions that ever entered into the minds of public men. I wish now to say a word or two about Eastern Roumelia. I must, for my part, honestly and frankly say that I think the present arrangement is an improvement on the previous one. I think that what the noble Earl at the head of the Government said about the desirableness of not entering into details at present was quite right, but I agree with him that, as a whole, the present arrangement is better than the former one; and I think it is better because it avoids the risk of allowing the Slavs of Bulgaria to overrun the whole of the territory occupied by the Greek population in the Southern part of Turkey in Europe, or near the Ægean Sea. I repeat that I think this arrangement is better than the preceding one; but when it is spoken of as a great gain to the Porte, I think it cannot be out of place for me to refer to a despatch which I think Her Majesty's Government will not be disposed to treat with contempt. I allude to a despatch written by our Ambassador at Constantinople, who may be described as more of a Turcophile than the Turks themselves, in June, 1877. In writing respecting the arrangement which was then suggested by the Russian Government, he said, that the destruction of the Turkish fortresses on the Danube, and the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the Province beyond the Balkans, would be the giving up of the main line of defence for Turkey in Europe, and the placing of the rest of the Empire, and Constantinople itself, at the mercy of Russia. Therefore, the Ambassador argued that the very thing which Her Majesty's Government have now consented to in regard to Bulgaria North of the Balkans, must lead to the complete disintegration of the Turkish Empire; and I believe that this was a sound view of the matter. The noble Marquess opposite remarked that the Sultan may 1833 send troops into this autonomous Province of Eastern Roumelia. That may strike many persons as a very important consideration; but I think the noble Marquess rather exaggerates the effect of the arrangement. The Governor General may, under the Treaty, apply to the Porte for troops in the case either of external danger, or of internal disturbances. But what is likely to be the effect of this arrangement? The Governor General is to be a Christian; and does anyone really believe that he would act in the interest of the Porte and not in the interest of the Christian population over which he ruled? It is a very easy thing to say that the Porte might send troops into the Province; but he will only have a right to send troops on the application of the Governor General, and there is a very great distinction between the two things. My Lords, there is one other point in connection with European Turkey on which I wish to say a word or two. As regards Greece, the Congress might have decided that it would do nothing; but what I wish to point out is that by the course it pursued, it has laid a foundation for fresh disturbances. The noble Earl at the head of the Government said that Greece has a future before her. I also say that she has a future; but upon what does that future depend? Upon the extinction of the Ottoman Power in Europe; and in proportion as the hopes of the Greeks are realized, must the Ottoman Power in Europe disappear. When you talk of Turkey still having 6,000,000 of people in Europe, you forget that a considerable portion of that population consists of Greeks. You have prepared the way for an approximation to union. You have held out to Greece a complete bait for disturbance in that part of the Turkish Dominions. You say that she ought to have an addition made to her territory; but you have taken no effectual measures for securing to her an increase, and you may depend upon it that no long period will have elapsed before Greece will raise disturbances for the purpose of accomplishing an object which has been sanctioned by the Congress. Now, my Lords, I wish, in the next place, to say a few words upon another subject which has not yet been much discussed. I allude to the important Treaty which the Government have entered into for the defence of Asiatic Turkey. The 1834 noble Viscount who has just spoken (Viscount Cranbrook) has thrown more light on the policy of that arrangement than had been previously thrown upon it by any Member of Her Majesty's Government. Nothing could be more diplomatic than the manner in which that subject was dealt with by the noble Marquess; but I maintain that when so great an act has been done—and done, too, without the knowledge of Parliament—the least that we could expect from Ministers is that they should state frankly what is the meaning of their policy. There can be no doubt that the Secretary of State for India has just given us some notion of what that policy is. Now, let us just consider this matter, for it is really a very serious one, and even, at this hour of the night, is well worth considering. We have undertaken two things of high importance. Let us bear in mind that what has been done is a matter of extreme importance. This Treaty is, perhaps, the most important Treaty that has been entered into since 1815. It contains two undertakings; the first binding this country to defend Turkey against the attacks of any foreign Power; the second binding Turkey to effect a better administration of its affairs. It is strictly a Treaty containing two conditions, and the fulfilment of one condition is made dependent on that of the other. Now, there are two ways in which this Treaty may be executed, or rather two ways in which it may be dealt with. One is that of treating the Porte tenderly and with consideration, and taking a great deal of time to influence it. I should like to know what would probably be the result of pursuing such a course. The result would, I believe, be nothing. We know perfectly well what has been the result of the advice addressed to the Sultan and his Government during the last 20 years. We know what was the cause of the failure of the Treaty of 1856. The cause of the failure of that Treaty was this—that the policy of Lord Palmerston being founded on the hope of an amelioration of the Turkish system of administration, that hope was entirely disappointed. Upon that hope the whole policy of Lord Palmerston hinged. The policy of the Crimean War on the part of this country was, at all events, a consistent policy, the object being to relieve Turkey from foreign pressure 1835 and to guarantee her independence on the condition that she should carry out the necessary reforms. Well, how did Turkey use her new power? Why, to get deeper and deeper in the mire, to borrow money until she became bankrupt, to resist for 20 years all attempts to induce her to effect improvements, until the conclusion became inevitable that it was necessary for the safety of other Powers that her rule in Europe should cease. What reason have we to expect that the same course will not be run in Asia? For some years after the Crimean War, there was certainly no lack of pressure on the part of the Government of this country. The Porte has one great quality—that of passive resistance—a quality which it possesses in a greater degree than any other Government in the world. Few men have ever been able to bear up against that kind of resistance. Probably the only man who ever knew how to do in Turkey was Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. We have been told with respect to the Sultan that he is a man of very enlightened views, and will listen to any representations which may be made to him by the European Powers with regard to the necessity of introducing improvements into his system of administration. I know but little of the present Sultan, and I sincerely hope that some part of the description which has been given of him this evening may prove to be true. He was, however, the Sovereign of Turkey at the time when the Conference was sitting at Constantinople, and I never heard of any great readiness being shown by him or his Ministers to effect reforms. Certainly there was no lack of pressure on that subject; but, whenever pressure has been exercised, it has been met by opposing to it a simple non possumus. Do you suppose, then, that we can alter the whole administration of affairs in Asiatic Turkey? If we content ourselves with giving advice with regard to Asia Minor, nothing whatever will come of it. What will happen will be that some 10 or 15 years hence, when this country has recovered from the glamour which the noble Earl opposite has cast over men's minds, difficulties such as those which have occurred in the European Dominions of Turkey will arise, at a moment when we are engaged in a dispute with the United States, or with France, or with 1836 some other country, Russia will point out to us that some of the subjects of Turkey are suffering, and ask us what we intend to do; and when we reply that we have given excellent advice, Russia will reply that advice is of no use, and will send troops into Turkish territory. When Turkey calls upon us to fulfil our guarantee for her protection, she will be told that she has not fulfilled the condition into which she entered with regard to the improvement of the administration of her affairs, that she has not listened to the advice which has been given to her for several years past, and that, therefore, that part of the Treaty is not binding upon us. The guarantee will furnish us with a casus belli against Russia, of which, if we like, we may take advantage; but we should probably decline to interfere, and I must say that that would not be a very creditable termination of the matter. But there is another course which has been shadowed out by the Secretary of State for India—a course under which our control over the administration of Turkish territory in Asia would be made a reality. The noble Viscount pointed to some measures which might produce that effect. Now, I have heard this matter a good deal discussed. There are, I believe, a great many people who feel as I do, that the Government has incurred a grave responsibility, and that this country never ought to undertake the task of repairing the administration of other countries. I am not one of those who imagine that a country can become great by shirking its responsibilities; but nations, as well as individuals, have been ruined by undertaking responsibilities without weighing carefully beforehand their ability to fulfil them. The Government seems to me to have been seduced into its present position by the failure of a great Empire; it has been tricked, as it were, by the notion of acquiring influence over the whole of the East, into overlooking the very serious responsibility which must be thus incurred. If you are to fulfil this responsibility, you may do it in two ways. One has been already pointed out—it is to organize a Native Force. Nothing, perhaps, could be more easy than to create a body of Turkish Sepoys. But how are they to be paid? If they are not paid by England, they must be paid from the Turkish Treasury at Constan- 1837 stantinople, out of a balance that may be in it, which will probably not be much. But, besides the military question, there is the question of the civil government of the Turkish Provinces. We may attempt to control the administration of affairs by appointing Residents who shall have a right of control in such matters; but it does not follow that the Sultan or his Ministers will acquiesce in the advice which is given by the Resident. Let me suppose that the Governor of Erzeroum entirely declines to do that which we, or our Resident, may think ought to be done, how is he to be coerced into compliance with our wishes? It really comes to this—that having consented to the partitioning of Turkey in Europe, and provided against the future destruction of the Porte, you take the whole of the rest of the Dominions of the Sultan into your own hands. Now, my Lords, is that the end of our policy? And, if not, I shall be glad to be informed what is? Is it, in fact, an enlarged policy whereby we are to go and take the administration of Turkey entirely under our own control; because, unless we do so, and unless the policy is well maintained, the whole thing can only end in defeat. If, on the other hand, we are not to do that, I should like to know whether the country will go with the Government so far as it has gone, and upon what ground Her Majesty's Government have changed their minds with regard to the policy which they have hitherto been pursuing. My noble Friend behind me, who has criticized the policy of the Government with great force, has pointed out the danger that might ensue from carrying out that which has now been annunciated, and I own that I was not astonished at the time to hear the noble Marquess opposite state that, in his opinion, the idea of any danger to India in consequence of an advance of Russia through their being in possession of Kars or Erzeroum was a mere bugbear. The noble Marquess said that to go to war for any such idea would be a madness of which no one would be guilty, and that it was a mere nightmare to dream of any possibility of danger to India arising out of such a cause. My Lords, I believe it is a nightmare. I am not one of those who think that no precautions should be taken against Russian aggression; but my opinion is that whenever the Rus- 1838 sians march upon India they will do it not by way of Kars or Erzeroun, but their basis of attack will be through Persia. I am not prepared to say that there is no danger as far as the route through that Empire is concerned. Anyone who knows Persia knows that it is perfectly helpless and prostrate, that its Government is as bad as it can be, and that anything like reform there is utterly hopeless. We know, also, perfectly well that the Persian Government is at the disposal of the highest bidder, and we know very well that when an attempt was made to drive the Persians out of Herat, in order that that important town might fall into Russian possession, our Government always insisted that Herat should not fall into Russian hands, because, if it did, everybody must know that the advance into India from Herat would be easy. But, my Lords, how that danger is to be averted by means of a Treaty by which this country undertakes to protect the frontier of Asiatic Turkey passes my comprehension. It seems to me, as my noble Friend says, that this Treaty tends very much to weaken us. Indeed, to undertake to defend an extended frontier would always do that, because an extended frontier is always a great source of weakness to any country. Your Lordships are aware that, owing to the necessary restrictions of which I do not complain, you could not use your Forces until war actually broke out. The Black Sea will not be opened and cannot be opened until that event, and when war did break out we should be placed under very great disadvantages. To suppose that the possession of Cyprus will enable us to protect this country against any advance on the part of Russia towards India would be to suppose something utterly repugnant to common sense and to every principle of the geographical disposition of our Force with regard to the defence of India. Neither, my Lords, can I conceive that there is the least pressure placed upon us for the occupation of Cyprus for the protection of the Suez Canal; and if there was any danger to that Canal I cannot conceive how it could be averted by our undertaking the defence of the extended frontier of Asiatic Turkey. My Lords, I have troubled your Lordships much too long. I feel more deeply upon this subject than I have felt upon any which 1839 has engaged the public attention in the course of my political life, and I cannot help thinking that this country has been embarked upon a policy more rash, more dangerous, less well considered and more likely to lead to disaster than any I remember in our past history. I know that at the present time there is a general shaking of hands, and a kind of all-round congratulation with regard to the so-called triumph of the noble Earl. But, my Lords, I conscientiously believe that the time will come, and indeed is not far distant, when these events will be viewed in a very different light, and when it will be seen that our foreign policy during this period has been the least creditable of any that has been pursued for years; that the Treaty which has been concluded is the virtual destruction of Turkey in Europe, and that the English Government, in its endeavours to restore the balance of power, have brought us into entanglements the result of which we cannot contemplate without uneasiness, and which will ultimately lead us in difficulties and burdens which the nation is not prepared to bear.
LORD NAPIER AND ETTRICK
My Lords, I have no desire whatever to enter into the general question of the bearing of the Treaty of Berlin and the Convention with Turkey upon Europe; but I do desire to offer a few remarks upon some of the matters which have fallen from the noble Earl who spoke last (the Earl of Kimberley), and from my noble Friend the late Governor General of India (Lord Lawrence), upon the restitution of Turkish territory in Asia which has been given back to that Power in return for a guarantee for the future good government of its provinces. In the first place, my Lords, I do not share the apprehensions which have been expressed that little or nothing will be done for the protection of the Christian subjects of the Porte in Asiatic Turkey, nor with respect to the amount of responsibility which this country has there by incurred. In my opinion, we have, in reality, undertaken no responsibility by this Treaty which it was not incumbent upon us to take before by the Treaty of 1856. It has been consistently contended that although the guarantee for the liberty and welfare of the Christian subjects of the Porte was not expressed with sufficient distinctness in the Treaty 1840 of 1856, yet that there was such a guarantee implied in the terms of that Treaty, and that our Government was bound by it to insist upon steps being taken to secure their welfare and protection. It was not only open to us, but it was positively incumbent upon us, to see that the obligations of the Porte were performed in that respect. I admit that when I argue that it is still possible to procure some effective protection in favour of the Christian subjects of the Porte, I am probably arguing against the conviction to which many have been led as the result of the experience of the last 20 years; yet I do contend that that experience is not altogether conclusive against my argument, and when the noble Earl who spoke last contends that no effectual efforts can be made in favour of the Christians in that part of the world, his statement is in direct contradiction to that which recently fell from the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll), whose absence, and the cause of it, we all deplore. That noble Duke is a statesman who entertains the sincerest and most philanthropic views with respect to the welfare of the Christian subjects of the Porte, and no man in the world is more capable of expressing those sentiments with greater force than the noble Duke. My Lords, I heard the noble Duke myself state that the question of the protection of the Christian races of Turkey had been allowed to go to sleep for several years after the Crimean War. I do not think that this expression was altogether accurate. I think that he ought rather to have said that Her Majesty's Government had gone to sleep; I do not mean to say that they did so entirely; I do not mean to say that their Representatives at the Ottoman Court did not avail themselves as opportunity afforded to make some effective representation; and in reference to the Lebanon and some other places, those representations produced a good effect. I have myself had an opportunity of witnessing the good results attending the representations of Mr. Layard, and I do affirm that during the four years that I had an opportunity of becoming intimately acquainted with the conduct of our Representative at the Porte, a great deal was done for the Christian population of Turkey, especially under the administration of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, than whom no one was more 1841 earnest in his endeavours to promote the welfare of Christians in Turkey, and no doubt considerable ameliorations took place. But, unfortunately, with the single exception of our Ambassador (Lord Stratford de Redcliffe), whether supported by Lord Palmerston or the Earl of Aberdeen, there was no kind of concert among the other Diplomatic Agents on the subject, and no one was really actuated by the same earnestness and enthusiasm. I cannot doubt that if the representations which were being constantly made had been well backed up by other Powers, very great changes in the affairs of Turkey might have been effected. The indifference with which England and other countries regarded these questions cannot be better exemplified than by the fact that neither in the Treaty of 1856, nor in the amended Treaty of 1871, was there any allusion to Turkish misgovernment and the treatment of the Christian subjects of the Porte. Now, my Lords, with these facts before my eyes, I am bound to say that I do not despair that the representations of Her Majesty's Government will effect a great improvement in the conduct of Turkey. My Lords, I think that the mere fact that the English Government now stands aloof from the other Powers, and is not obliged to concert measures with them, is a feature indicative of future success. Now, with reference to the Guarantee which Her Majesty's Government has given as to the integrity of the Asiatic Provinces of Turkey, I am bound to state that I think that the dangers and difficulties attached to that Guarantee have been greatly exaggerated. I have some small experience of the policy of Russia, and there is nothing more clear than that when she understands what are the real intentions and the final and definite resolutions of England, when she knows that the English people are in earnest in giving effect to those decisions, she will conduct herself accordingly, and I think the mere existence of the English Guarantee will be a positive and complete defence of the Turkish territory in Asia, and I do not think that it is at all probable that the Guarantee will ever be called into effect. The noble Lords who have just addressed your Lordships have exercised their ingenuity in reckoning up the difficulties that will take place; but, in my opinion, those difficulties will 1842 never arise. For my own part, I will state to your Lordships the extreme satisfaction with which I have heard the general admissions made by the noble Earl with respect to the employment of the Indian troops, and I think that if any one thing more than another will tend to strengthen and consolidate the loyalty of the Indian people, it is the confidence which has been manifested in them upon the present occasion. The policy of the Government in this respect has been both wise and courageous. With respect to the employment of the Indian troops generally, and the formation of what may be termed the new Indian Army, it is a policy which was inaugurated by the late Lord Mayo, and has been successfully carried out. The only point upon which I think there is the least doubt is with regard to the question of Cyprus. I own that when I first heard the intention of the Government in that respect, I entertained considerable misgivings, especially with respect to the susceptibility of France and Italy; but, although that policy may be questioned in some quarters, I still think that there are at least three mitigating circumstances—the first of which is that it will certainly give a military importance to the possession of the place, because it seems to me to be a place where a military force might be prepared on a large scale, especially with reference to cavalry, and upon any eventuality arising, which would necessitate such a step that forces could be easily transported to Asia. In point of fact, the acquisition of the Island of Cyprus, in reference to the defence of Asia Minor, is a step which has long been advocated by high military authorities; and, therefore, there can be no doubt that considerable military importance attaches to it. At all events, the occupation of the island by this country is an indication that we intend to act; and although every one of the Powers seems to have repudiated the Treaty of 1856, I think the acquisition of Cyprus is a pledge that no such repudiation will take place in future. The third mitigating circumstance is that the island itself is a very rich and fertile one; and there is no doubt whatever that its population will be greatly benefited by the fact of its being occupied by this country. On those grounds, therefore, I derive consolation for any inconvenience 1843 that may arise in consequence of the acquisition of Cyprus; and, on the whole, I agree with the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and, with certain reservations, I offer my humble congratulations to the Ministry.
§ Correspondence and Protocol ordered to lie on the Table. [Turkey, No. 39 (1878).]
§ House adjourned at half past Eleven o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.