HL Deb 29 July 1878 vol 242 cc479-514

rose, pursuant to Notice, to call attention to the Protocols of the Congress at Berlin, and to the Convention of June 4th between Great Britain and the Porte, and said: My Lords, when the Protocols were laid upon the Table, many speeches were delivered. Even on Friday last, from a Question of a noble Earl (the Earl of Rosebery) upon an isolated point, there arose a rather general discussion to which my present Notice refers. If, on either of these occasions, the topic which appears to me the most important had been noticed, I should, for many reasons, have been indisposed to encroach at all just now upon the patience of the House. That topic is the Russian occupation, and the degree to which it has been sanctioned.

My Lords, I have not put a Resolution on the Paper, because it did not seem to be a moment when any Resolution, even if adopted by your Lordships, would lead to practical results. Even if Parliament advised the Crown to withhold ratification from some parts of the Treaty, and, if it was with held, as far as I can learn among diplomatists, the Treaty would not fail to operate in Europe. As to arraignment of the Government on the Eastern Question, it requires the transactions of many years to be exhibited, and involves materials beyond human force at this time of the Session, even to advert to. It could only be appropriate in order to bring about a change which nobody yet aims at. But I will move for some documents which it would, perhaps, be easy to produce, and which would throw a certain light upon the occupation I have mentioned.

It is not requisite to dwell upon the Protocols, because they were alluded to on Friday, and the subject thus in some degree anticipated. The first, in which the Prime Minister, in spite of all the eloquence he is said to have brought to bear upon the Congress, was unable to effect the withdrawal of the Russian troops from the positions which they occupied, may be regarded as a sample. It illustrates the spirit by which the Congress was directed, and which the three Plenipotentiaries habitually encountered. What I propose is during a few minutes to examine, as a whole, the Convention and the Treaty under some divisions which make it easier to judge of them, although it is to one point alone I wish to draw the more particular attention of your Lordships.

The first division which occurs is that of stipulation to which a qualified degree of praise may be accorded. It contains, however, nothing as I view it; but the arrangement by which, as the noble Marquess who went to Berlin (the Marquess of Salisbury) has explained, the Porte is sheltered from the weight of the indemnity demanded. It may not be agreeable to the bondholders of the Sultan, since one class—at least, one individual—must be perpetually unpaid, to keep his Empire from destruction. The interpretation of the noble Marquess is disputed as to the contract which exists; but, if accurate, it cannot be denied that a mischievous effect of a destructive war has been ingeniously parried.

The next division would refer to several arrangements which admit of plausible defence, although they may be seriously criticized. As I regard the subject, it includes the whole mass of stipulations upon Cyprus and upon Asia Minor. It is here important to remark that no new obligation to defend has been contracted. Ever since 1856 the obligation has existed. From that period we were bound to defend the Ottoman Dominions, either in Asia or in Europe, either with others or alone. Of course, the more recent the engagement, the less decorous to connive at it. But that is all the difference. So, too, the right to interfere as a defending Power previously existed. In the same division, one might reckon what has been done in Bessarabia. It is to be regretted as a Russian triumph over Europe. But it was necessary that Roumania, after making war upon her Suzerain, should incur a penalty of some kind. Nothing better might have been acceptable at Berlin, where the Vassal has, of course, considerable influence.

The third division would consist of several arrangements objectionable on the face of them, and highly mischievous when separately viewed; but which may have a latent plea as conducive to some great and distant object, if Ottoman authority should fail to be perpetuated on this side of the Bosphorus. To this category I should venture to refer the independence of Servia and Roumania— in itself at once an element of conflict, and a premium on rebellion; at the same time, the creation of another Vassal Principality, which is sure to follow the example of the former ones; again, the mode in which Eastern Roumlia is to be virtually subjected to the Embassies at Constantinople, and the strife it will produce. To that class I should assign, too, the Austrian possession of Herzegovina and Bosnia. They all would seem to merit censure; but all may have a hidden vindication in some beneficent design to which they may be gradually subordinated.

The last division to be noticed is that of measures which no policy excuses, which no kind of argument can possibly defend. The Russian occupation is the only one I shall advert to in this category. The essential point to keep in view is that there is no security whatever for its ceasing. There will be innumerable pretexts for extending it. The new Austrian possession of Herzegovina and Bosnia is among them. Austria has never been a check to Russian progress during the whole of these transactions, although it might have frequently been urged it was her interest to be so. Those who feel convinced that in a year the occupation will determine should be referred to Polish history. It is the specific medicine for credulity of that kind. But there is something else to be considered. At this moment the Russian occupation is causing the iniquities and horrors which the two Mr. Bartlett's, authoritative witnesses just returned from European Turkey, have, in their own names, so vividly delineated. These gentlemen are brothers. One is a contributor to literature on the Eastern Question. The other was engaged by Lady Burdett-Coutts to assist in organizing and distributing her well-known fund for refugees and victims of the conflict. They have both addressed themselves to that journal whose circulation is allowed to be the largest. According to these gentlemen, 100 villages can be named which subsequently to the Armistice have been razed by Cossacks and Bulgarians. There is now, in consequence, to the extent of many thousands, a starving and a houseless population. Eight hundred people, who were lately sent back to their homes under promise of Russian protection, were robbed of everything and brutally ill-treated by Bulgarians in sight of Russian troops. Near Constantinople, mosques and graveyards have been knocked to pieces. There is a statement with regard to the Bulgarian police and Russian officers, which I refrain from communicating to your Lordships. The occupation of the Russians during the last five months is responsible for 500,000 deaths. Even if the occupation was doomed to cease, when, in an inverse sense, it had repeated the atrocities of which we heard so much two years ago, it could not be defended.

Instead of dwelling upon these gloomy scenes, let me remind the House that the existence of Russian Armies, where the Treaty will permit them to remain, is certain to preclude the action of the now suspended Ottoman Assemblies, the best and. latest check to the despotic power so long regarded as incapable of adequately governing. It is, at the same time, a bar to every improvement the British Embassy might call for. It utterly annihilates their influence. The proposition will come home to everyone who knows Constantinople, and the noble Marquess the Secretary of State is now himself among the number. But there is a larger and. a graver sense in which the occupation ought to be regarded.

Whatever prepossessions or convictions he may have in favour of that system, everyone must see that late events have weakened the arrangements the Crimean War was undertaken to establish. No one, although he may decline to initiate or countenance, can help canvassing and listening to schemes by which it is proposed to guard Con- stantinople against Russia without the slightest reference to Ottoman dominion. On the character of these schemes I do not hazard an opinion at this moment. The point to be insisted on is that the Russian occupation as effectually defeats them, as it is a positive impediment to every improved and salutary form of government under the direction of the Sultan. We have heard of Byzantine Empires, although the term has not been properly defined. How can you possibly establish a Byzantine Empire, in the face of a Russian Army which, for years to come, may hold Adrianople? A Danubian federation was long ago suggested by a very eminent Hungarian, but certainly will not be framed while Russian soldiers still command the passes of the Balkans— which they may do without a limit. But projects of that magnitude would be difficult to realize in any case, even without an intercepting Army to prohibit them. Considerable reasoners have urged with a more practical, more statesmanlike acumen, that if Austria only had the Suzerainty of Moldavia and wallachia which have been withdrawn from the Sultan, and which cannot stand alone, the Russian march to Constantinople would be barred, since war with Austria—possibly with Germany behind her—would be a necessary incident of trying it. But even such a combination would be useless, when Russian Armies are so placed that they no longer have the pruth and Danube to get over. It is not my aim or hope to-night to do much justice to the topic. Let me only add that the occupation whether of Bulgaria or Eastern Roumelia, for the time allowed, has not a shadow of a ground, in the advantage of the inhabitants, or in the interest of Europe, since, if it had, the Protocols would have revealed it.

Even if the occupation is irrevocable, so far as it is sanctioned by the Congress, it is not useless to refer to it. The question leads to several conclusions as regards the British Meet maintaining its position; as regards the hazard of a struggle at no distant time; as regards alliances to be created or revived in order to prepare for it. Above all, a due attention to this subject may correct a doubtful spirit which has recently been manifested—the spirit which is ready to give up political engagements for material possessions, to exult in Cyprus, to forget the Dardanelles and Bosphorus, as if all the Islands of the Archipelago could be a set-off for abandoning the European interests of which, 20 years ago we were—of which so much more recently we meant to be—the guardians. But that disposition would also be restrained by anything which brings in an authentic shape before the House the effects the Russian occupation is producing, and enables it to see how far the witnesses I have invoked have faithfully described them. I move for Copies of any Diplomatic Correspondence with Her Majesty's Government on the state of European Turkey since the termination of hostilities.


My Lords, I thought some Member of the Government would have risen to reply to the speech of the noble Lord. I wish, however, to refer to another matter. The noble Earl at the head of the Government is reported to have made a speech on Saturday at a banquet at Knights-bridge, in which he complained that he had in this House opponents who never "unsheathed the sword," and that the Government were met only by "innuendo and question," although the two chief Plenipotentiaries of the Queen sit in this House. I am anxious to know whether the noble Earl can quote many instances—or even one instance—when, during the five years of an eventful foreign policy pursued by the late Government, the noble Earl over unsheathed his sword at all. I am not aware that he ever did so, although he has made many disparaging remarks of that foreign policy. I own that I do not quite understand all these complaints about what takes place in this House. I do not understand this complaint that we have not done more than ask Questions. I think, for instance, that last Friday's debate gave no proof of what the noble Earl referred to. The noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury), on a recent occasion, criticized the disappearance, for a very few minutes, of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) from his place in this House. On Friday last, following the example of the First Plenipotentiary, the noble Marquess escaped from the House before half the discussion, which was of a very interesting character, was over; and it was perfectly impossible to extract any remarks from the two Members of the Government who remained. It appears to me that Her Majesty's Government do not wish to enter into discussions, while they clamour for Motions and for votes which they themselves, when in Opposition, never made or insisted upon. It is said that we confine ourselves exclusively to innuendo and question. As regards Questions, we did not act in a very embarrassing way—I even observed perfect silence—during the time the Plenipotentiaries were away from the House. Since their return, we have certainly put Questions—Questions which we thought were of some importance— in order to elucidate the action of the Plenipotentiaries. I am bound to say that to those Questions we have either received no answer at all, or an answer to which the maxim of a great moralist might have been applied—"If the first rule is truth, discretion is the second." As regards innuendo—I will not refer to the speeches — the very weighty speeches — made by the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the late Secretary of State for the Colonies, nor will I refer to the speeches made by the noble Duke and the noble Marquess who sit opposite; but I do think I have heard in this House something of argument and something of reasoning, not only from the late Lord Chancellor, from the noble Earl (the Earl of Kimberley), and the noble Viscount behind me, but from several Members of your Lordships' House sitting on the back Benches of the Opposition— some of which speeches have up to this time been met with no reply. Then it is said that we confine ourselves to innuendo. What is an innuendo? Your Lordships may have heard of the word, though it is so insufficiently acclimatized as not to be found in five different English dictionaries which I consulted on the point. I have an idea as to what an innuendo means, and it may be possible to give your Lordships some idea of an innuendo. Your Lordships will remember what appeared to me a rather painful scene when, in the course of a debate, the noble Marquess thought it right to compare the vilest character in English history to a great personage in this House. I think something of innuendo lurked in that remark. The noble Earl at the head of the Government is also at the head of a large majority in this House, and a majority normally of 100 in "another place." He boasts that he has the confidence of his Sovereign—which I do not doubt. The Queen has graciously and constitutionally shown Her confidence to every successive Ministry which has existed. The noble Earl also spoke of the confidence of the country. At the beginning of this Session he defied us to prove that there had been any real difference between himself and any of his Colleagues; and he further assured us that since the very beginning there had never been the slightest hesitation as to the course which Her Majesty's Government should pursue with regard to the great events in the East. On Saturday, he is reported to have stated that he came back from Berlin with the firm conviction—I presume, imparted to him by Prince Gortchakoff— that the Crimean War and the late War might have been prevented if England had been more firm in her language; and he deprecated the renewal of Councils where there might be hesitation, a want of decision, and a want of firmness—he described Ministers doubting, considering contingencies, and then acting, but, perhaps, too late. It does appear to me that if this is not an admission of great weakness on the part of the noble Earl— that is, not to have used language when it was in his power to prevent war—it is something like an innuendo against his own Colleagues in the way in which they have supported him during the last two years. A great political contemporary of his, in a speech made a week before, used a very strong epithet—"insane"— and applied it to the Anglo-Turkish Convention. The speech was devoid of any personal allusion. That Convention seems to have been defended by the noble Earl on Saturday, on the ground that it forces all future Governments, whatever may be their opinions or the opinion of the country, or the circumstances of the time, to do that which Her Majesty's Government a year ago firmly declined to do—admit a policy was right, whether the circumstances were favourable or unfavourable. The noble Earl thought it became himself and his own great position to give an offensive personalty to a tu quogue which he had very carefully and with almost painful elaboration prepared, and which reminded one in its violence, though not in power, of the attacks made some 30 years ago against a very great statesman of this country. I do not know whether this is innuendo, or whether it is more than innuendo; but I utterly deny that we on this side of the House have indulged in such practices as these, and I certainly do hope that we shall not be led by such example to do anything of the sort in the future.


I am rather at a loss to ascertain what is the exact object of the observations which we have heard from the noble Earl. Possibly they form one class of innuendo themselves. The noble Earl wishes to insinuate some remarks, for which probably I shall show there is no foundation, which may disturb the digestion of the dinner of last Saturday. The noble Earl, in the first place, has remarked upon some observations which I made upon a charge that was urged against the Convention of June 4, by a right hon. Gentleman who described it as an "insane Convention." The noble Earl admits that was rather a strong epithet—one of a character that could scarcely be passed unnoticed. He says that the person who made it indulged in no personal remark. No personal allusion, it seems, escaped his lips, and he spoke with all the abstraction of a political philosopher. It is very possible that on that occasion, although so strong a charge was made against the Convention for which I and my Colleagues are responsible—a charge that I think required notice—it is possible, I think, that the charge may not have been coupled by the speaker with any personal allusion at the moment. But, although I could not have thought of introducing the question myself, as the noble Earl has introduced it, I must say that that speaker on several occasions has taken the opportunity of making personal allusions to myself—allusions which were intended to be extremely offensive— though I am glad to say that they were allusions that did not much disturb me. I may refer, amongst other instances, to a speech at Oxford, which I believe was not even an after-dinner speech, but which was made in cold blood. He singled me out of the Cabinet—he charged me with all the offences of the Cabinet, he described me as a dangerous, and, I believe, even a devilish character. If I had taken a very early opportunity of noticing the expressions of the right hon. Gentleman, and noticing them with some acerbity, I do not think the world would have been surprised. For a long time I did not take any notice at all of the criticism which came from that quarter; but when his criticism was levelled at a political act which, I believe, is of the highest importance to the welfare of the country—coming, as it did, from one occupying a great position with great Parliamentary experience —it appeared to me that it was one that should be noticed. Previously, during a more or less exciting rhetorical campaigning of a period of two years, the right hon. Gentleman levelled the most offensive epithets and criticism upon my conduct and in a description of my character; and I thought it was not remarkable that I should take an opportunity of expressing what I thought a very just view of the position of the individual, of his conduct, and of his language. The next charge against us in this lengthy innuendo of the noble Earl seems to be one which he has made before. It is perfectly erroneous; but it is impossible to notice, at the time, every erroneous statement. They are always sure to re-appear again when the noble Earl is concerned. He has taken this opportunity of declaring that my noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) and myself have asserted that there never was any difference of opinion in the Cabinet. No such statement ever was made by me or by my noble Friend. We said there had been no change in the policy of the Cabinet. We adhered to the policy which we understood those two distinguished Noblemen who resigned had accepted, and which I understood they were prepared to carry into effect. We thought they had given their adherence to a policy which, when the time came to carry into effect, they shrank from the responsibility of so doing. That I deeply regret. It was a policy that declared, until British interests were in danger, we should not feel it our duty to counsel war with Russia. It was said that was a contracted policy, but it was a distinct and definite policy. When the time came, and we thought British interests were in danger, and we appealed to our Colleagues to act according to such circumstances, they did not think it consistent with their duty to do so. But the policy of the Cabinet was not changed. The statement that I or my noble Friend ever declared to this House that there had been no difference of opinion in the Cabinet between its various Members is one utterly unfounded. No such statement was ever made. I think I have noticed pretty well the different points of the noble Earl's remarks. This criticism upon a dinner is difficult to meet. What we complain of the noble Earl and his Friends is not that they ask Questions, but that they ask Questions on the most limited subjects, and of the most limited interest. For instance, what was the Question which the noble Earl (the Earl of Rosebery) introduced the other night? Really I forget what the subject was, but it was one of a limited character. I think he asked for some explanation about that Memorandum which was surreptitiously obtained and published to the detriment of the Public Service. Now, that Question was of a limited character. It was answered completely by my noble Friend the Secretary of State, who took the opportunity of explaining the matter in a way that must have been gratifying to those who were not acquainted with the details of the case. But the occasion was taken to produce what my noble Friend calls a debate of considerable interest— that is to say, a well-prepared debate— a debate conducted by noble Lords who had prepared their speeches, and who were ready to assail, as they did assail, the Government—but a debate ending with no Motion and beginning with no Notice. That, I say, is a very unsatisfactory way of conducting business, and I repeat my objection to such tactics. The noble Earl says that during the last five years of the late Administration, when there were Questions of great interest in regard to their foreign policy, I never unsheathed my sword. Well, I was not aware that, during the five years in which the late Government administered our affairs, Questions of foreign policy did considerably attract their attention. Indeed, I think it was very much regretted by the country that those Questions were generally neglected by the late Government. The most important Question of that kind that probably occurred during their Administration was that relating to the policy which referred the American claims—the Alabama claims—to arbitration. Certainly, I did not unsheath my sword at that time to attack Her Majesty's Government. But when Her Majesty's Government were attacked at a time of considerable peril, and when many of their Friends were not ready to support them, I did then unsheath my sword to defend and uphold a policy which, though I could not approve all its details, I believed to be, on the whole, a wise policy. We heard, as I say, very little of foreign policy during the Administration of the late Government. Those Questions were generally neglected, and we have suffered in consequence; but, on the most important occasion, I was, at least, their humble defender. I think I have now touched upon most of the points comprised in the noble Earl's definition of innuendo. I do not myself wish to speak in the way of innuendo on this matter; and I would say, that if the noble Earl and his Friends do not approve of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, if they think the Convention of June 4th is an "insane Convention"—and I understand they have adopted the policy which that epithet describes—I think it is their duty to ask the opinion of this House and of Parliament on the subject. That is the constitutional mode of proceeding. It is not by little petty criticism—it is not by asking little questions and making long speeches—it is not by calling your Lordships' attention to questions of the greatest importance without giving due notice of an intention of making speeches, and shrinking after making those speeches from the Motions which would test your Lordships' real opinion —it is not, I say, by such methods that I think an Opposition can recommend itself to the confidence of the people of this country.


said, it was impossible not to deeply regret that the ability and energy displayed in bringing about a settlement of the question that had occupied so much of the attention of Europe had not been applied from the beginning in defending the Treaties which had been attacked. Though he held sentiments on this subject which were not shared by many noble Lords on his side of the House, it certainly was not his intention to defend the whole course of action pursued by Her Majesty's Government. It was not his intention to enter into any analysis of the past; he should content himself with dealing with the two Treaties as they stood at that moment. He was of opinion that the general settlement which had been effected for Turkey in Europe was not one which could be perfectly defended from any point of view. From a Turkish point of view, the concessions made by Her Majesty's Government were too extensive; from a Russian point of view, they were not large enough. The arrangements were too delicate and complex to have much chance of permanency. In his opinion, the European portions of the Treaties were not destined to be practically useful, or of long endurance; but his chief purpose was to call their Lordships' attention to the Convention of the 4th June—that Convention for which Her Majesty's Government stood singly responsible, and respecting which many erroneous impressions had been disseminated. Now, what was the character of that Convention? It bound the Government of the Porte to make reforms in the administration of Asiatic Turkey, and to make them to the satisfaction of Her Majesty's Government. On the other hand, it bound England to defend the Asiatic territory of the Porte in case of necessity. Now, it was contended, in opposition to Her Majesty's Government, that the Porte could not effect those reforms alone, and that England could not assist it to do so without taking the government of Asia Minor into her own hands, which was much to be deprecated. It became important, therefore, to ascertain what was the nature of the reforms which the Porte would be expected to effect in her Asiatic Kingdom. If those reforms were to be of a very extensive, complex, or elaborate character, he should despair of the Porte being able to carry them out, either assisted or unassisted. They had heard a noble Earl on that side of the House, not long since Governor General of India (the Earl of Northbrook) descant on the immense responsibilities which the Porte had undertaken in promising those reforms. The late Governor General of India had spoken of the necessity of establishing a good revenue system, a good judicial system, a good system of popular education, a good system of public works, the creation of an order of intelligent and useful proprietors to stand between the Turkish Government and the people, the reform and reorganization of the Army, which was to be placed under the command of English and other European officers, and the erection of a line of fortresses to secure the country from future Russian attacks. If all these reforms were necessary for the prosperity and happiness of Asia Minor, the task would be indeed difficult, if not impossible; but, as a fact, they could not be reasonably expected from the Government under present circumstances. First, in regard to the Turkish revenue system. That system, he believed, was the only system possible in the state of society now existing in the country. It was almost identical with the revenue system in India, the main feature of which was the exaction of a certain proportion of the produce of the country by the Government from the country. If the matter were fully examined into, and the totality of taxation in Turkey was compared with the weight of taxation which existed in some European States—in Russia and Italy, for instance—it would be found that the Turkish system was not more oppressive than the systems which obtained in the countries he had named. The Turkish system was not in itself oppressive; it was the manner in which was imposed that made it crushing. Again, it was very desirable to establish good laws and a good judicial system; but that was the most difficult task of all. Why, in some parts of British India, which had now been under English influence for so many years, the judicial system was still so corrupt that the humblest subject of Her Majesty was not allowed to be tried before a criminal court in a Native State. God forbid that he should say that it was not necessary that Turkey should have better tribunals; all he asserted was that the reform presented one of those problems which in any country, but especially in a semi-barbarous country, it was very difficult to solve. Then, again, the Turkish Government was to be called upon to immediately establish a good system of popular education. Talk of popular education in Asia Minor!—why, at this moment, there were large provinces of British India which had been subjected to our humane and intelligent rule for half-a-century, in which not 6 or 10 per cent of the population could either read or write. He himself went to India with an ardent and a sincere desire to see a good system of elementary education established in those parts with which he was connected. He was assisted in that desire by a gentleman of the highest ability, who had devoted his whole life to the cause of education; yet he was compelled to leave the country without having accomplished his object. In fact, he was driven to this conclusion— that it was better, on the whole, that the people should remained untaxed and ignorant. Next, Turkey was called upon to promote a good system of public works. Nothing was more desirable and politic; but where was the money to come from? They would not find it in Turkey; it would, indeed, be an insult to the indigence and misery of the country to ask the Government to raise the money. Were Her Majesty's Government, then, to be asked to give guarantees? Were the people of this country to be asked to find the money for making public works on the territory upon which they had already poured millions without any return, or the slightest prospect of return? The noble Earl the late Governor General of India insisted with much earnestness upon the absolute necessity of establishing a class of landed proprietors to stand between the Government and the labouring classes. Far be it from him to undervalue the importance and utility of a class of intelligent, humane, and philanthropic landed proprietors, to any country; it certainly was of the highest importance that such a class should exist in the Dominions of the Sultan; but, unfortunately, those landed proprietors, unless their power was very much limited and controlled, would not be the sort of men that his noble Friend would like to see instituted. The existence of large classes of landed proprietors had not been found beneficial in Oriental countries. In fact, people flourished best in those parts where equality prevailed, and where there were either few or no proprietors at all. He might cite the case of Bulgaria in contrast to that of Bosnia, where the people were oppressed and discontented, and, consequently, given to assassination. Bulgaria enjoyed a very fair share of material prosperity, yet there were no gentlemen in Bulgaria. Once more, it was insisted that Turkey ought to reform and re-organize her Army, placing it under the command of British officers. Now, of all the bad advice which it was possible to offer to the Government of the Sultan, that was the worst. It meant an increase of expenditure where there ought to be a deduction. It was this preposterous expenditure on military and naval purposes that had been the curse and the ruin of Turkey. He could not too strongly deprecate, too, any proposition for committing the Turkish Army to the command of British officers. He trusted that in this matter Her Majesty's Government would exercise great caution and judgment, and that they would abstain from pressing upon the Turkish Government the desirability of inviting foreigners to fill places either of civil or military authority. If the foreigners were not Englishmen, they might expect that they would not respect either the policy or the interests of this country; and, therefore, their introduction into the Government of Turkey would be a serious and dangerous innovation. Her Majesty's Government had no notion of anything of the kind. If we were prematurely and imprudently to urge on a policy of this nature, we should inspire the Porte with the profoundest, most incurable, suspicion of the intentions of our Government, and drive it from our side to seek protection and support from Russia or some other European Power. With reference to the proposal to immediately set to work to fortify Asiatic Turkey and create new ramparts, it seemed to him to be most unreasonable and unnecessary; for, not to speak of the expense such a course would involve, we have given a guarantee, which was the chief defence of Turkey, and would enable her for a time to do without other defences. The necessary remedy for the misfortunes and sufferings of Asia Minor was to his mind very simple. It was one which was enjoyed by the Children of Israel after they had taken possession of Canaan, and after they had become wearied by many struggles and vicissitudes. It was described in the Book of Judges in these words—"And the land had rest 40 years." Asia Minor required rest from the tax-gatherer, from the recruiting officers, from enforced labour; and there was no insuperable difficulty in obtaining this repose for some years. It might be said that rest was a very good thing, but the Turkish Government was incapable of giving it. He did not believe there would be any difficulty in that way, although the condition of the populations of Asia Minor had been an unhappy one, and their history had been darkened by atrocities; still, relatively, that condition had not been so bad as might be supposed. It would be unjust and unreasonable to suppose that the inhabitants of Asia Minor had ever enjoyed the same security for life and property, and the same certainty of justice, as Her Majesty's Indian subjects did; but, in many places, they had enjoyed as large a share of material prosperity as in some parts of India and Russia, and even in some parts of this country. When he visited Asia Minor, he always asked the Consuls what was the condition of the people, and one Consul told him that their condition was middling. The Mussulmans were better off in some particulars, because they did not drink, and the Christians were better off in another sense, because they were not compelled to serve in the Army. If that was the condition of the country, the great thing they wanted was repose, and he did not see why the Turkish Government could not obtain and secure that rest. He saw no reason to fear for the future. In Asia Minor there was no organized political conspiracy, no wild spirits of revolt. The Kurds might come down upon the Nestorians, the Druses upon the Maronites, and the Bedouins upon all who possessed houses; but these were partial, accidental, and controllable evils, and, with a moderate military establishment, the Porte could stop these acts of brigandage and sectarian animosity if they had a mind to do it, and secure for the community a tolerable amount of material peace. The question arose, then, what could the Turkish Government do, and what could Her Majesty's Government do to assist the Porte? He thought it was very undesirable that Her Majesty's Government should force in any new controlling power between the Porte and her subjects; but there was a permissable organization already to hand through which we could act more freely, and that was the Consular body, which, in many cases, had rendered most substantial and valuable services, and which gave great energy and efficiency to its actions, without infringing upon the Sovereignty of the Porte. It might be that we were to engage in more active interventions than hitherto, and that some improvements should be effected in the character of our Consular arrangements; and, if so, he would advise that the Consular body should be strengthened by a large importation of the military element, and that we should look to the officers who had been engaged in political and administrative functions in India. There were many instances in which, in India, Consuls had exercised salutary and beneficial influences, and an example could be found in the House in one who filled an important political office for more than 10 years, as Consul General of Beyrout, during which period it was said that not a mouse could stir in the Lebanon without the knowledge of Colonel Rose. For many years he might be said to have pacified and ruled the greater part of Syria. He created no jealousy whatever, and was equally confided in by the Mussulman authorities and the Christian populations. By improving and extending their Consular establishments, they would do much to procure for Asia Minor that repose, and eventually those reforms of which she stood so much in need. He did not undervalue the responsibility that would attach to our Ambassador at Constantinople. It would be necessary that he should incessantly enforce upon the Turkish Government the duty of fulfilling their promises and effecting legitimate reforms. The other evening he had heard an expression fall from a noble Earl on his side of the House, but who was not now present, which caused him sincere regret. He said that Sir Austen Layard was more of a Turk or a philo-Turk, than the Turks themselves. He was sorry to hear such an expression fall from one of so much authority with reference to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, who had been exposed, in the performance of his arduous and responsible duties, to so much misrepresentation. He had had the advantage of knowing Sir Austen Layard for a very long period. He had recently, by the course of events, been identified with the Turkish Government. It had been his duty to give that Government energetic and invaluable support; but it must not be supposed that because he had performed his duty in that respect he was insensible to the highest claims of the Christian population. Sir Austen Layard belonged to the school of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe; and he would venture to say that when the proper time came it would be found that there was no more ardent defender, no more enlightened and liberal advocate, of the claims and rights of the Christian subjects of Turkey than the British Ambassador at the Porte. If the task was to be an arduous one for the Ambassador, so also the Foreign Office must bestir itself. It must not be satisfied to hold its hands. It must, for years to come, keep its attention fixed on the question of Asiatic Turkey. He would even go so far as to say that the Government might be obliged to have recourse to some military demonstration, and they did not suppose the reform of Asia Minor could be carried out without some risk of that sort. They remembered the terrible explosion of Turkish fanaticism in the Lebanon, and the French Government did not shrink from the responsibility of sending a large Force to Syria to show that they were not to be trifled with. They amply fulfilled the duty they undertook, and the result was that peace had prevailed ever since. Then it was said that we had guaranteed the Turkish frontier in Asia, and this was objected to on these grounds. This Guarantee, it was said, placed us in a position of permanent antagonism to Russia; in the second place, it imposed on us obligations dangerous, and exactly in case of difficulties arising from other Powers; and, thirdly, it was urged that the Guarantee was not necessary for our own interests. He could not agree with any of those arguments. So far from embroiling us with Russia, he thought it would have quite the opposite effect. From the moment this Guarantee was signed, our relations with Russia would probably be better than they were before. It was only necessary to tell Russia what we wanted, and there would be no disposition to interfere with us. The responsibility we should incur by this Guarantee was only greater because it was single; but we knew what the contingency was, and we could be prepared for it; and his experience of Russia was that she would not come into collision with England, if she knew definitely what England insisted upon. Lord Palmer- ston's despatches proved that, and he was certain the attitude now adopted by Her Majesty's Government would result in their being on better terms with Russia than before. It was said that by the Convention we had enormously increased our responsibility. But the responsibility was only greater because it was single and more direct; and whereas, formerly, we scarcely knew what it might involve us in, we were now aware what was the contingency which would render it necessary for us to act, and must be prepared for it accordingly. It might be observed that the responsibility extended over so large a range of territory that no wise Government would have incurred it. But there never was a more prudent Administrator in the world than the Earl of Aberdeen, and yet he signed a Treaty by which he engaged the honour of England in defence of the 49th parallel as the boundary of our North American possessions; and if that vast territory, extending across an entire Continent, was defended by anything, it was defended simply by the Guarantee and prestige of England. Nor was the multiplication of such Guarantees necessarily dangerous. His belief was that the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs might go into his cabinet, pull down the map fixed to the wall, and, with his pencil, trace a line across the wilds of Afghanistan or the woods of America; and if that line in any measure expressed the true interests and real resolutions of the British people, it would not be lightly transgressed by any Power. That line might run where no human foot, had ever before trod; but still it would remain inviolate, because it would be protected by the unseen yet irresistible genius of our country's destiny. He trusted that Her Majesty's Government would not be prevented from undertaking responsibility of this nature by the apprehension that it might tend to excite the enmity of foreign Powers. The Guarantee might not be immediately necessary in view of British interests; but it would eventually be so, and it was just as easy to establish it now as at any other time. It might have been better to have given the Guarantee to Afghanistan instead of to Turkey in Asia Minor, yet the road to India in that direction would probably be established at some period or another, and when it was established, the further Russian power was kept from it the better. The Russians were not at present in a condition to endanger our interests in Asia Minor; but still, the whole of that territory had been over and over again traversed by hostile armies; and if Russia were allowed to encroach on the provinces of Asia Minor, the time might come when her attitude would create a feeling of insecurity as to our communications with India. It might be said that it was not possible to defend the Convention of the 4th of June, inasmuch as by it we had not only undertaken a separate responsibility, but left the European concert. Was that objection a well-founded one? Was it true that, having contracted a separate Treaty, we had isolated ourselves from European action? He thought the objection was not well-founded, it being perfectly consistent with previous policy to frame and sign a separate Treaty. What occurred in 1856? In that year there was a general Treaty of adjustment and peace; but Her Majesty's then Government, not being satisfied with its stipulations, negotiated and signed a separate Treaty of Guarantee, with Austria and France, for the protection of the Turkish Empire. On this occasion, Her Majesty's Government had followed, though in a different form, exactly the same course. Having signed a general Treaty of adjustment and peace, they had negotiated a separate Treaty, not with two Powers— because two Powers were not available for their policy—but with Turkey, because that Power was necessary for their policy; and, therefore, he said that this separate Treaty was strictly conformable to precedent. The last objection upon which many persons had founded their opposition to the Convention was that it had been negotiated in secret, and not in communion with other Powers. It had even been stated that it was a departure from the character of British diplomacy. He did not deny that the diplomacy of England was more open than that of other Powers; but it certainly would be very erroneous for one moment to infer from that, that Her Majesty's Government were not entitled to negotiate in secret a Treaty when, as in this transaction, secrecy was expedient. It was not necessary to go far back for an example of an important Treaty negotiated in secret. The first great diplo- matic transaction of which he had any knowledge in early life was the Treaty of 1840. How was that Treaty negotiated? In this way. The Liberal Government of that time had exhausted every means of coming to an understanding with France for the pacification of affairs in the East. What did Lord Palmerston do? Did he negotiate a Treaty in public? No. With the greatest energy, he undertook the negotiation of a secret Treaty with the Northern Powers, and the French Ambassador knew nothing about it until Lord Palmerston handed it to him himself across the Table. The negotiation of that Treaty placed Lord Palmerston at the head of European diplomacy, and England, for years, in the van of Europe, just as at the present moment the diplomacy of the noble Earl opposite had done. It was always a painful thing for a person to advocate opinions which were antagonistic with the opinions of the Leaders of the Party to which he was attached by birth and education. He was unable to state exactly how far his opinions were antagonistic with those of the noble Lords who sat on the front Opposition Benches, because he had not heard those opinions expressed with sufficient accuracy. It was even possible that the opinions of the noble Lords did not entirely agree the one with another. But he must admit that he was at variance with that great Leader of his Party in ''another place"—a statesman to whom he must always look with the greatest reverence and gratitude, on account of the immense service which, in past times, he had rendered to his Party and to his country. No one regretted more than he did that he was unable to agree with the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman; but the interests which had been brought under discussion in those debates were interests with which his official life in former times had identified him so much, that he did not feel at liberty to subordinate his impressions to those of any other person.


said, that when he rose to address their Lordships, a short time ago, he had certainly no intention of travelling over the wide field which the noble Lord who had last spoken (Lord Napier and Ettrick) had traversed. He would endeavour to correct some misapprehensions into which the noble Earl the Prime Minister seemed to have fallen, and to point out some forgetfulness to which he had been subject with respect to the course taken in that House on the Eastern Question. The noble Earl complained that although Questions had been addressed to the Government, no Motion had been made nor issue joined. The noble Earl could scarcely have recollected the nature of the Questions which had been put to Her Majesty's Government on the subject when he passed them over so lightly. Those Questions had related to the character and circumstances of the Island of Cyprus, which had recently been taken possession of on the part of Her Majesty. Noble Lords on his side of the House had been anxious to learn from Her Majesty's Government the capabilities of the Island; what was the law under which Her Majesty's subjects and the other inhabitants of the Island —who, he supposed, would remain subject to the Sultan, though under a special form of Administration by Her Majesty —would henceforth live; and on what principle justice was to be administered in the country. There had been, also, Questions which constituted an attempt to obtain from Her Majesty's Government some sort of explanation of the nature and meaning of what was called the Anglo-Turkish Convention, and the circumstances under which it had been negotiated. The noble Lord who had just sat down had given the House his interpretation of that Treaty; but Her Majesty's Government had not, so far as he was aware, condescended to give Parliament any information at all on the subject. The noble Earl observed that a Question was raised the other night by his noble Friend (the Earl of Rosebery). He said—"I forget what the Question was, but it was something about the Memorandum between the noble Marquess the Foreign Secretary and Count Schouvaloff." He was not surprised that the noble Earl should not desire to recollect that discussion, and the able speech of the noble Earl by whom it was introduced. No doubt, the noble Earl and the noble Marquess ran away from the discussion at the earliest possible period, and did not wait to receive the heavy shots fired at them from their own side in the latter part of the evening. The nature of the discussion was surely not unimportant, because it involved the inquiry, whether the manner in which Her Majesty's Government had intended to treat Parliament was frank and open, and whether, if it had not been for the surreptitious disclosure of the Memorandum between the noble Marquess and Count Schouvaloff, the Papers laid upon the Table would have given a complete and honest statement of the course pursued by the Government? The noble Earl seemed to intimate that the Question was brought forward without Notice. He (the Marquess of Ripon) believed, however, that the Notice stood upon the Paper for a considerable number of days. Certainly, the course pursued by those who sat on that side of the House was not one which was not contemplated by the Rules and Practices of the House, because the fact that those Rules and Practices differed from those which prevailed in the House of Commons, showed that it had been found convenient to initiate discussions in their Lordships' House without terminating with a Motion. His experience of their Lordships' House was more extended than that of the noble Earl opposite, and he could only say that he had heard most interesting discussions raised and carried on in that manner. Then the noble Earl, when he was challenged with not having himself followed, when in Opposition, the course which he so kindly recommended to the present Opposition, said—"I could not do that, because no important questions of foreign policy occurred under the late Administration." Well, he was not quite sure whether it was the best test of a foreign policy that it should be very noisy, and bring the country very near the verge of war. He was by no means sure that a foreign policy of which little was heard, but which kept the country at peace, and on good terms with its Allies, was not really the best and soundest foreign policy after all. In point of fact, however, there were a considerable number of important questions, relating to foreign affairs, going on during the period the noble Earl referred to. The noble Earl himself mentioned the question of the Treaty with America. Then there was the Franco-German War; and one of the most important Treaties ever entered into by any Ministry in this country was made by his noble Friend behind him (Earl Granville), for the purpose of maintaining the independence of Belgium. Again, there was the Treaty of 1871, for the revision of the Treaty of 1856. He was not going to find fault with the noble Earl because he did not violently attack the foreign policy of the late Government; but he might remark that the noble Earl, as Leader of the Opposition, did take advantage of many of those occasions to make serious criticisms and complaints, though he did not bring his criticisms and complaints to the test of a division. Of course, every Opposition must be the best judges of the course they ought to pursue; and he was sure that the noble Earl himself would have been the last man in the world, when in Opposition, to have shaped his course in accordance with recommendations emanating from the Treasury Bench. He would now ask their Lordships to allow him, for a few moments, to make some observations on the larger and more important questions which had been touched upon in the speech of the noble Lord behind him. He, for one, very much agreed with the noble Lord in the estimate which he appeared to place on the future results of the Treaty of Berlin. The noble Lord said, that if that Treaty stood alone, it would not be likely to be a very permanent arrangement, and that it was the kind of thing upon which future difficulties might, from time to time, arise. That appeared to him to be also the opinion of the noble Earl opposite; because, in his speech last Saturday, as reported in the morning papers, he said the very same thing. The noble Earl said— If we had made the Treaty of Berlin, and had not made the Anglo-Turkish Convention, we should have been told that there was no permanent security, and that after the lapse of 10 or 11 years these questions might turn up again. The noble Earl also stated, that if the Government had spoken out, and adopted the course which, he believed, they ought to have taken, the war last year would not have occurred. The truth seemed to be this, that the noble Earl had shrank—he considered most wisely —from involving this country in war for the objects for which we must have fought if we had taken up arms on behalf of Turkey; and, in his opinion, that was the strongest condemnation that could be pronounced on the policy of the Anglo-Turkish Convention. Our vital interests might be attacked in other quarters; "but," said the noble Earl, "on no such ground as that must we withdraw from our obligations in Asia Minor." Whatever the circumstances of the time, the future Governments of England were to be debarred, so far as the noble Earl could debar them, from exercising, on behalf of the country, the discretion which statesmen ought to possess. Furthermore, if the policy of the Anglo-Turkish Convention was a sound policy, it was in itself the strongest possible condemnation of some portions of the Treaty of Berlin. If the noble Earl could bind the future Ministers of this country as he desired to bind them, surely, when he proposed to convert the Asiatic frontier of Turkey into the frontier of this country for military purposes, so far as attack from Russia was concerned, he ought not to have yielded up, in the Treaty of Berlin, the strongholds of that frontier to the enemy he professed to dread? With regard to the complaint which had been made by the noble Lord behind him (Lord Napier and Ettrick) as to the absence of his noble Friend the late Governor General of India (the Earl of Northbrook) and other Peers on the present occasion, he would remark that it was not usual in their Lordships' House to refer at great length to speeches delivered in a previous debate, and that noble Lords could not be expected to be present when reference was being made to their conduct of which they had received no warning. On the general question his noble Friend's (the Earl of Northbrook's) argument appeared to be this — Her Majesty's Government had undertaken, by this Anglo-Turkish Convention, special obligations for the good government of Asiatic Turkey, and it would be impossible to carry out those obligations without providing a sound system of finance, and education, of public works, and a satisfactory administration of justice. But it was said Turkey could not provide anything of the kind. No doubt, that was so; but it was just because Turkey could not do anything of the kind, and just because England had undertaken to accomplish such a task, through the Turkish Government—a task which was almost beyond human power—that he, for one, objected to the Anglo-Turkish Convention. There was one feature of that Convention which had not been much alluded to, but which he thought well worthy of consideration. It was this—the principle upon which it was founded was, in reality, a reversal of one of the main principles of the Treaty of 1856, which was the substitution of the collective Protectorate of Europe for the individual Protectorate of any particular country. In the Treaty of Berlin there were certain collective engagements on the part of the Powers, of which he would only say that they were very good indeed on paper, but that their value depended entirely upon the mode in which they were carried out, and that they did not seem to him to go very much beyond the engagements made in 1856. But in Asiatic Turkey, by virtue of the Anglo-Turkish Convention, England had undertaken a special and individual responsibility of a nature so serious, that to fail in it would be a disgrace and a shame to us. That responsibility was one which it did not seem wise or sound policy for this country to undertake. He would not venture to pronounce the Anglo-Turkish Convention an "insane Convention," because that was a phrase which did not seem to have secured the approbation of the noble Earl (the Earl of Beaconsfield); but he would say it was one of the most dangerous and unwise engagements into which any Minister of this country had ever entered. The noble Earl said he did not know what were the views taken by the Opposition as to the course to be pursued in regard to Asiatic Turkey. Well, it was not the business of the Opposition to provide measures of detail in regard to a question upon which they had such a very limited amount of information as the present one. At the same time, the information they possessed seemed to him sufficient to show that the engagements entered into by Her Majesty's Government were of the character which he had ventured to state. If, however, the intentions of Her Majesty's Government had been misapprehended in this matter, the explanation was to be found in the persistency with which Her Majesty's Government had kept Parliament in the dark with regard to the whole scope of their policy, as it affected the relations of this country with other Powers. It was this want of frankness on the part of the Government which had all along constituted the difficulty in the discussion of this subject, and which increased the conviction, looking to the whole scope of the engagements into which this country had entered, apart from the other countries of Europe, that Her Majesty's Government had once more departed from that European concert, which, if they had maintained it, would have prevented all these troubles.


My Lords, the noble Marquess who has just sat down has, I think, rather misapprehended the nature of the complaint we have ventured to make with respect to the conduct of Business by Her Majesty's Opposition in this House. We complain that they have departed, in two respects, from what we have always considered to be the legitimate mode of conducting Business, and from the traditions of other Oppositions. Formerly, it used to be regarded as the duty of the Opposition, whenever they entertained a strong objection to the policy of the Government upon any great and capital question, to lay their objections before Parliament, and put them to the test of a division. This has always been done on all great questions where the Opposition of the day has challenged the policy of the Government of the day. I will speak only of what is within my own recollection. I remember two capital questions upon which the Opposition differed from, and condemned strongly, the policy of the Government. There was, first, the Chinese Question. That was condemned by us very strongly; but did we satisfy ourselves, in either House, by putting small Questions night after night, and getting up desultory discussions? On the contrary, a formal Motion of Condemnation was moved—and a formal division was taken in both Houses— and, if I remember rightly, we were defeated in one, but were successful in the other. The next great question upon which we differed deeply from the Government of the day was the Danish Question—a question of prime European importance. No doubt, there were during the whole of the Session preceding the ultimate negotiations occasional discussions. When, however, we were in a position to challenge the policy of the Government, a formal Motion was made, and a division taken, and in that case, again, we were successful in one House and unsuccessful in the other. If you will go further back, you will find that the run of precedents is unmistakable; and there can be no doubt that the precedents agree with that which is the rational and intelligible course to take—namely, that this House should, like the other, be allowed to express its views in a formal manner, and have the result recorded on the Journals of the House. But that is not our only complaint. We complain that these desultory discussions invert the usual order of proceeding. The strange fate seems to pursue them, that the discussions never have any logical connection with the Notice by which they are introduced. The first Notice given was that by the noble Earl (the Earl of Camper-down), whom I do not see in the House. The noble Earl brought under our notice a very limited question—whether the Government would lay on the Table details of the financial arrangements with the Turkish Government about Cyprus?—a question about as small as it is possible to conceive; and upon that question was raised the whole matter of the Anglo-Turkish Convention, the question whether slavery existed in Cyprus, and what we intended to do with it, and the whole question of the future government of Cyprus, and the powers now vested in the Government of the Queen. Then the noble Earl (the Earl of Rosebery) called attention to a certain document which had been surreptitiously obtained from the Foreign Office; and I am bound to say, in his own remarks, he did not wander much beyond the narrow record he had prescribed to himself. But what did we have? We had the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Ripon), and the noble Earl who recently left the Cabinet (the Earl of Carnarvon), making speeches which had come too late for the debate on the first night after the return of the Plenipotentiaries, when the whole question of the Congress of Berlin was discussed. The same fate has pursued them now. The noble Lord (Lord Campbell) has put down a large Notice on the Paper which would cover a debate of great extent, and we are treated to a lengthened criticism on what took place at a dinner at Knights-bridge. We prefer that the time-honoured practice should be pursued. If noble Lords opposite entertain deep objections to the policy that has been pursued—if they pronounce it unsound —if they think it worthy of the great efforts made in the other House—we think that this House ought also to be allowed the opportunity of recording on the Journals its own judgment on the policy pursued. But if the Opposition will not take this course—if they persist in bringing forward this succession of petty debates—at least, we have a right to ask that the Notices on the Paper shall give some indication of the speeches which are to be made. But, my Lords, the speeches we have heard to-night have been devoted to a criticism of something beyond what took place in the House; and since it pleases the noble Marquess who has just sat down (the Marquess of Ripon) to answer speeches not made here, but at the dinner at Knights-bridge—where I am afraid there was no chance of finding him—I regret he did not study more carefully the documents he proposed to answer. As I understand my noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Beaconsfield), the ground on which he asserted that we have not increased our responsibility by the Anglo-Turkish Convention was this— that the policy of preventing Russia from acquiring an influence would diminish instead of increase our responsibilities.


interposed a remark which was not heard.


I regret if I misrepresent the noble Marquess; but I repeat my impression is that the charge he brought against my noble Friend behind me was that he had defended the Convention on the ground that it did not increase our responsibilities but would diminish them.


What I did say was this. I understood the noble Earl opposite to say that he admitted the Berlin Treaty alone would not be of a permanent character, and that, therefore, it was necessary to make up for its defects. That was the part of the speech to which I referred; and I stated that the policy of the Government had increased our responsibility; but I did not say this with reference to the speech of the noble Earl on Saturday.


Then it comes to this—that we have increased our responsibility. Our ground is simply this—whatever happens, whatever Party be in power, we feel convinced, knowing what the spirit of the people of the country is, that they will never tolerate that Russian influence shall be supreme in the valleys of the Euphrates and the Tigris. We take that as a firm point of departure, and we challenge you to contradict it if you think we are wrong by an appeal to Parliament. But, if that is true, so far from increasing the responsibilities of England, we have diminished them by announcing beforehand to Russia the policy which, in all cases, the nation is determined to pursue, and we illustrate the value of that precaution by referring to all that was lost in the Crimean War by want of similar frankness. It has been established again and again, and on the best authority—on the authority of the Emperor Nicholas himself—that if he had known what the policy of the English Government was—what the English people would definitely oppose—he never would have taken those steps from which he could not retreat, and he never would have pledged his honour to the pursuit of a disastrous war. We desire to save the Russian Government in the future from that danger, and therefore we have placed upon public record, in the most solemn and unmistakable manner, the policy which we believe the English people are determined to pursue; and in so doing I think we have given character and plainness and frankness to English diplomacy which, perhaps, in recent years, it was in danger of losing. Those misty and shadowy guarantees which bound you to everything in theory, and which turned out, in practice, to bind you to nothing, were anything but honourable to the character of European diplomacy. There was, for instance, the Tripartite Treaty, which engaged in the strongest language possible the Governments of Austria, France, and England, to make it a casus belli if any of the provisions of the Treaty of Paris were broken. But when the hour of trial came, and the provisions of the Treaty of Paris were broken, it was found that the Guarantee was collective; and that, therefore, it was not binding on those who made it. I think it is time that the practice of making pledges of this kind was abandoned in the diplomacy of Europe. We claim, at all events, that we have made a pledge which will be easily understood by those whom it concerns; and therefore it is that I am not alarmed even by the condemnation passed on it by the noble Lord, when he declares that we have de- parted from the "European concert." What will the future historian think of the "European concert " when he comes to record what that concert has promised and what it performed? The "European concert" in 1856 was to preserve the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire; and certainly a more imposing machinery could not be devised. But 20 years have passed, and not one member of the "European concert" has lifted its hand in defence of the integrity of the Turkish Empire. I am not complaining of this result, but of pledges being made, which must have misled Turkey, on the one hand, and taught Russia, on the other, to despise them. I think it is better that we should come to a simpler form of engagement, in which, only two Powers being mixed up, there can be no doubt as to the pledges being fulfilled. It is, perhaps, characteristic of these debates and Motions that we should, in our speeches, have wholly forgotten the Motion of the noble Lord who introduced it. There was much in the noble Lord's speech which was complimentary to the Government; therefore; I need not notice it; but there is one observation which I should not pass over without remark. The noble Lord seemed to be under the impression that the Russian occupation would last over nine months, and he said we were guilty of great credulity in thinking that it would terminate in that time. It is impossible to compete with prophecy, and I will not put my prophecy against that of the noble Lord. But if he will examine the Protocols he will find that the subject of the evacuation of Turkey in Europe was one to which the Government of Austria attached intense importance; and if England and Austria agree that the Russian Army shall not remain there, the Russian Army must retreat. Therefore, I think the noble Lord need be under no apprehension in that respect. I have not the faintest suspicion that Russia desires in any way to depart from the engagement so solemnly made. On the contrary, the Russian Plenipotentiaries came forward at the end of the Congress, and offered to bind themselves by engagements more than ordinarily solemn that, on their part, the Treaty would be observed; but we did not think it desirable to depart from the ordinary diplomatic practice of Treaties in this respect, and most of the Powers de- clined to entertain the proposal Russia made. There was nothing in all that passed at the Congress Table, there is nothing in the present aspect of the diplomatic world, which justifies the slightest suspicion that Russia desires in any way to depart from the engagements into which she has solemnly and frankly entered.


My Lords, we have arrived at an hour at which your Lordships do not desire to continue the debate, and I have not risen to do more than notice one or two remarks that have fallen from the noble Marquess who has just addressed you. He complains that we depart from the usual practice in not putting down a Motion on the subject, and he tells us what his side did when they differed from the late Government on questions of foreign policy. He did not tell us that his Friends knew perfectly well that they had a very considerable majority in the House at the time they so confidently appealed to it.


We were beaten on the Chinese Question.


But you did not expect to be; so that my noble Friend's answer is not quite so successful as he expected it to be. We were told by the Prime Minister earlier in the evening that our objections were very small; but, in spite of the view which the Government profess to take of them, we fail to obtain any information. The first Question raised by my noble Friend (the Earl of Rosebery) the other night related to the financial position of the Island of Cyprus; but though the Question was so small, we failed to obtain an answer. A similar result attended an effort to obtain information about the harbours and resources of Cyprus, as affecting our own liabilities. Next, a Question was asked as to the future laws under which Cyprus would be placed; objection was taken that no Notice had been given of the Question. But it was one which had been asked on a former occasion, when no answer whatever was given to it. Is it inconsistent with our practice to ask Questions about that which we want to know? I have been glad to hear from the noble Earl opposite one definite statement — that this Anglo-Turkish Convention is a certainty and reality; and that, being a Guarantee given by ourselves, and not mixed up with foreign countries, it is one that will be carried into effect. To enable us to form a judgment, we wanted an answer to the Question whether it was to be a reality or not? We were anxious to know whether it was to realize the picture we have read of what is to happen, when the Turkish Government is reformed and purified, in that most fertile, most classical, and most interesting portion of the world? But these Questions were deemed not worth answering at all. Were the answers consistent with the Notices given and with the expectations we might justly entertain? The other House, presumably, will have to ask some Questions as to the bearing of these arrangements on the responsibility of the taxpayers of the country, and whether it will find the money or accept the new duties devolved by the Convention on the country? Surely, we are within our right in endeavouring to obtain clear views upon the subject? Are we to sit still and say nothing? Are we to propose Motions of Censure, condemning things of which we are as yet only imperfectly informed? Our duty is exactly that which we have discharged. It is very kind of the noble Earl the Prime Minister to take so much pains to impress upon us, line upon line, precept by precept, what it is our duty to do, and. how we are to conduct our own affairs. I am not surprised at it; he has educated his own Party with infinite skill and success; but if he finds us less amenable to his instructions, he cannot be astonished or disappointed.


It is somewhat singular that that which my noble Friend does not accept as the duty of this House he affirms to be the duty of the other, and that the deficiency of information which he pleads as an excuse for inaction in this House does not deter the Leader of the Opposition in the other from moving a Resolution to condemn the Government; and that he is at this very moment, despite his want of information, engaged in thoroughly condemning every portion of our policy. It seems to be an unsatisfactory way of dealing with questions that affect the Government of the country, that those who may in their turn be called upon to administer affairs should be so doubtful as to the course that they would take on a great question that they confine them- selves to criticism, and carefully refuse to commit themselves to anything they would do under any circumstances in which they might be placed. There is every readiness to take advantage of all the condemnation they can bring forward in the way they have done it in this House without showing the country in any respect what it is they think ought to be done at this time, and how far the country ought to be advised to go in order to get rid. of the engagements which have been entered into. They will not say whether they will support them hereafter or they will not; but they throw out insinuations of every kind which favour the supposition that this is not a sincere movement on the part of this country, and that no reliance can be placed on this country fulfilling its engagements. We take a different view; we enter into these engagements meaning to fulfil them. We have no idea of making Asia Minor a Garden of Eden or a Paradise; no such expressions have been used by Members of the Government. We are too well aware of the condition of things that has existed there—at the same time, we are not unwilling to do what we can to bring about a better. A gradual and a slow process it may be, but it is one which will promote the interests not only of England, but of the world; for it is well known that if that country were occupied by the great Power to which allusion has been so often made, that would materially affect the interests of this country and the destinies of the world. It was under these circumstances that my noble Friends undertook to enter into that Convention. They did it with the full assent of the Cabinet, and, having done so, they think it a poor kind of criticism which they are called upon to meet night after night —a carping criticism, which, instead of making definite charges against them or the document they have signed on behalf of the Government, indulges in vague insinuations. Nothing is done like to what was done in the cases of China and of Denmark, when we affirmed our views of the policy of the Government of the day. We have nothing now but criticism. Considering, also, the ingenious personal insinuations thrown out against some of us on more than one occasion, I am obliged to conclude that the only reason why the Opposition do not venture to propose a dis- tinct Resolution is the consciousness that they will have, in so doing, the support, not of a majority, but of a very small minority, either of this House or of the country.


My Lords, we have heard many charges in this and the other House as to the policy that was pursued by the late Government; but I am delighted to hear from noble Lords opposite that, although questions of the greatest importance in foreign policy were dealt with during the five years, no occasion arose upon which it was possible to found any clear and definite charge against the foreign policy of the Government.


pressed for an explanation of how the occupation of Cyprus would enable the Government to defend the Turkish frontier in Asia Minor and to watch over the internal administration of that country?


, in reply, said, he understood that the Government acquiesced in his Motion for the Correspondence.


said, that no Notice having been given of the noble Lord's Motion, it was contrary to the Rules of the House to entertain it.


continued, that on points of Order he was always ready to enhance the authority of the noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack, so much wanted in the House; but might still be permitted to make one observation on what had fallen from the noble Marquess the Secretary of State. He concurred with the noble Marquess that Austria and Great Britain, if united, would suffice to close the Russian occupation; but he could not forget that the whole history of the transactions which had so long engaged them prohibited reliance upon Austria as a controlling Power over Russia, in any policy the latter might be inclined to adopt.


said, that Papers of the kind indicated in the noble Lord's Motion were on the point of being given to the House.


said, that in that case the object of the Motion was attained.