THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
rose, pursuant to Notice, to call attention to the Treaties of 1856, and to our present position in respect of them; also to move for copies of any Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Greece, and said: My Lords, I have no doubt it will be in the recollection of the House that when the noble Earl at the head of the Government moved, some nights ago, the Vote of Credit Bills, he expressed a hope that the country would exhibit the aspect of a united people on the Eastern Question. My Lords, I do not rise to say a single word at variance with the spirit of the wish then expressed by the noble Earl. There have been undoubtedly great and profound differences of opinion. These differences may again emerge; but there is a time for everything, and I should be the last man to revive them at a time when the Prime Minister has told us, in the most solemn manner, that he and his Colleagues are engaged day by day in the arduous effort of securing the peace of Europe, and when my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is daily exposed to attacks out-of-doors as violent as they are unjust. My Lords, I have a definite object in view which I will endeavour to explain to your Lordships, and which I hope will not be found altogether unworthy of the consideration of your Lordships' House. I rise to deal with, and if I can, dispel some widely-prevalent misconceptions 831 with reference to the Treaties of 1856 which have obtained expression in this House, and out-of-doors—whether in attacks on the Government or in attacks on us who sit on this bench. My Lords, I think I may say that during the course of the debates which have recently been held in this House the tendency has been, on the one hand, to condemn the Government—or rather to upbraid the Government—on the ground that they have not fulfilled their obligations under the Treaty of 1856 of maintaining the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire. There has been, on the other hand, as against those who sit on this bench, a tendency to upbraid us for not upholding Treaties in which we ourselves had our share—which, in fact, we ourselves had approved on behalf of this country, and which we contended were of the greatest value for the interests of the British Empire. Again, on the part of some there has been a rejoicing over the destruction of Treaties which those who took part in this rejoicing claim the merit of always having denounced as foolish. Those are people who say—"Did not we always tell you so?" Now, my Lords, all those references equally indicate complete misconception of what the Treaties of 1856 really were. The public impression seems to be—and that impression is one which seems to be shared in by many Members of this House — that the Treaties of 1856 were an absolute guarantee for the maintenance of the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire, or, if not an absolute guarantee, at least a guarantee in such circumstances as have actually occurred. This being so, my Lords, I wish to recall to the mind of the House what those Treaties actually are. A short account of those Treaties may be given, and, in fact, has been given by noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs since the beginning of the present Session. In alluding to the accusation that the Turks had been encouraged to unreasonable resistence owing to the hopes held out to them by Her Majesty's Government, the noble Earl, in his own calm and philosophic manner, said that their resistance was rather owing to the difficulty experienced by the Oriental mind in appreciating the fact that the world has changed since the making of those Treaties. That is true. The world has 832 changed since that time—your Lordships' House has changed. Looking at the bench opposite to me, there is not now a single one remaining of the distinguished men who then surrounded the late Earl of Derby, and who took part in the debates of that time. If the change even among ourselves has been very great, in Europe it has been tremendous. France is no longer the France of 1853; Germany is no longer the Germany of 1853; Italy is no longer the Italy of 1853. Since then Europe has, in fact, changed altogether. But that is by no means a satisfactory account of the change which we find in our position in regard to the Treaties of 1856. There are other causes to which we must look for the change in reference to these Treaties, and I ask the House to follow me in a calm review of the Treaties of 1856 in order that we may see what they do and what they do not say, and what are the obligations which remain under them. Now, my Lords, at first sight, Article I. of the Tripartite Treaty of 1856 does seem an absolute and unconditional guarantee. The Treaty is one between Great Britain, Austria, and France, and the 1st Article declares—The High Contracting Parties guarantee, jointly and severally, the independence and the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, recorded in the Treaty concluded at Paris on the 30th of March, 1856.Nothing apparently could be more absolute than that to anyone who never read the succeeding Articles or the Preamble of the Treaty; but it is no such thing. It is a guarantee in the event of an infringement of the general Treaty, not, of course, by Turkey itself, but by any of the other Powers; so that we are absolutely released from that 1st Article and from every part of the guarantee, unless it can be proved that there has been a previous infraction of the Treaty of Paris by some or one of the other Powers. In the general Treaty between Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia, and Turkey there are no fewer than 34 clauses; but the whole principle of the Treaty is to be found in the 7th, 8th, and 9th Articles. The 7th Article contains the promises which the European Powers make to each other with respect to Turkey—Their Majesties engage each on his part, to respect the independence and the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire; guarantee in 833 common the strict observance of that engagement; and will, in consequence, consider any act tending to its violation as a question of general interest.The 8th Article defines the method in which those promises are to be fulfilled. The 9th Article contains a counter-pledge on the side of Turkey towards the European Powers in exchange for the protection given to her by the Powers. Now, let us look at each of these Articles in their order. The 7th Article, my Lords, begins with what appears to be a strong declaration. It says that the united Powersdeclare the Sublime Porte admitted to participate in the advantages of the public law and system (concert) of Europe.Now, what does this mean? Had Turkey been an outlaw before 1856? On the contrary, she was a country with which nearly all the Sovereigns of Europe had concluded Treaties before 1856. They had sent Ambassadors and Ministers to Constantinople, and in every respect of International business she had been an European Power. But Turkey was not included with the other Powers in the great settlements of 1815; and it is a remarkable fact that in the war between Russia and Turkey, which happened 25 years before the Crimean War, Russia dwelt upon that fact. When, in 1828, Russia went to war with Turkey, there was this remarkable passage in her declaration of war—And yet a war with Turkey would not in any way have embarrassed the relations of Russia with her principal allies. No convention of guarantee, no political combination connected the fate of the Ottoman Empire with the Healing Acts of 1814 and 1815, under the protection of which civilized and Christian Europe reposed after her long dissensions, and saw her Governments united by the recollection of common glory and a happy identity of principles and views.Now, it was to remedy that state of things that the Declaration to which I just now referred was made by the Great Powers in 1856—a Declaration by which Turkey was made a member of the European Family, and the independence and territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire was made a matter of general interest to the Great Powers. That is the history of this part of the 7th Article of the general Treaty, and the remaining portions of it make it clear that its sole purport was to es- 834 tablish the principle that the fate of Turkey was to be in the future an acknowledged matter of European concern. And now, my Lords, I want the House to remark that this Article has not the effect of excluding separate action on the part of the European Powers against Turkey. It may seem to do so at first sight; but on examination you will find that it does nothing of the kind. You cannot recognize a Power as independent without, at the same time, recognizing its responsibility towards other Powers. Turkey was not put up as a sort of elder brother, against whom no question was to be admitted. Accordingly, that she was to be responsible—like every other State—to all the Powers is conclusively shown by the following Article—Article 8 —which is in these terms—If there should arise between the Sublime Porte and one or more of the other signing Powers, any misunderstanding which might endanger the maintenance of their relations, the Sublime Porto, and each of such Powers, before having recourse to the use of force, shall afford the other Contracting Parties the opportunity of preventing such an extremity by means of their mediation.I say, my Lords, this not only recognizes, but provides for the possible case of separate action on the part of the Powers against Turkey in case mediation should prove ineffectual. The guarantee given to Turkey does not contemplate an infraction of the Treaty by Turkey itself— that was a contingency which never was thought of, and could not have been provided against. The 8th Article, as I said before, contains a pledge which Turkey gives the Powers in return for what they are doing for her. And what was the demand made of her? All we asked of Turkey in 1856 for the blood and treasure which we had shed and expended for her in the Crimean War— and it was all the Great Powers asked of her for what they had done for her by the 7th Article—was that she should treat her own subjects with decency— that in her Government the common rights of humanity should be respected. According to the 9th Article—His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, having, in his constant solicitude for the welfare of his subjects, issued a Firman which, while ameliorating their condition without distinction of religion or of race, records his generous intentions towards the Christian population of his Empire, and wishing to give a further proof of his sentiments in that respect, has resolved to 835 communicate to the Contracting Parties the said Firman emanating spontaneously from his sovereign will.I would particularly ask the attention of your Lordships to the last clause of this Article—The Contracting Powers recognize the high value of this communication. It is clearly understood that it cannot, in any case, give to the said Powers the right to interfere, either collectively or separately, in the relation of His Majesty the Sultan with his subjects, nor in the internal administration of his Empire.The common impression is that by the clause I have just read the Powers of Europe repudiated any right to interfere with the internal affairs of Turkey. They did no such thing. You have only to read the clause carefully to see that. No lawyer, no jurist, would so interpret it. It is not a repudiation of the right of the Powers to interfere in extreme cases. It amounts only to this —that the fact of Turkey communicating the Firman to the Powers of Europe gave them no right of interference with the internal affairs of Turkey; but the clause does not take away the right which, in the nature of things, the Powers have to interfere in the internal affairs of Turkey. It is extremely important your Lordships should see that the result of the clause is simply this—-Turkey made promises to Europe, and was bound by them; but, at the same time, she was intrusted with the execution of her own promises. If those promises should be violated by Turkey, a case arises for which the Treaty does not provide, and for which, in the nature of things, no Treaty can provide. Now, another word on this point. I ask your Lordships, not as politicians, not as Members of the Liberal or of the Conservative Party, but as men of honour, in what position do we stand as regards the subject-races of Turkey in consequence of these transactions? We resisted Russian aggression; we were parties to putting Turkey in the position described in the Treaty; and we exacted formal promises from her that she would treat her Christian subjects with justice—that she would give them certain privileges. I ask, then, all your Lordships, as men of honour, does not that impose obligations on us? Word it as you please—I do not wish to lead you into extreme terms—but I say it does impose some sort of duty on our 836 part to see those promises carried into effect. In the common language of society in 1853 and 1854, and not only in that language, but in the correspondence of public men, and in a remarkable manner in the correspondence of the Prince Consort, our position towards the Christian subjects of Turkey is described as that of a Protectorate, in substitution of the exclusive Protectorate which had been claimed by Russia. Again, be it observed, our position under the 9th Article of the Treaty of Paris excludes absolutely any help to Turkey against insurrection on the part of her own subjects. And not only this, but it imposes a duty on us, in extreme cases, of insisting on reforms. Then, my Lords, there are subsidiary clauses. One, Article 11, was for the neutralization of the Black Sea, as a guarantee against sudden attack on Turkey. Then there were two others of great importance for the substitution of European for Russian guarantee over the vassal States—the Principalities of Wallachia and Roumania, and the Principality of Servia. In those three subsidiary Articles may be read the pith and core of the whole Treaty. They are consistent with its essential principle, and they are correlative with Article 9. And now, my Lords, I ask, how have those Treaties worked during the time which has elapsed since they were made, up to the present day? But, my Lords, in the first place, before I go into particular events to illustrate my meaning as to the obligations imposed on us, let me say this to the House— that, though we professed to admit Turkey into the family of European nations, there are two important respects in which, practically, she was never admitted to an equality with the other Powers. With regard to the non-interference in the internal affairs of Turkey, the condition, from the nature of the case, became little more than mere words. There has been perpetual interference on our part with these internal affairs through our agents, through our Ambassadors, and through our Consuls. Interference in the internal affairs of Turkey has not been the exception, but the rule. We were habitually interfering, because it became necessary in the interests of Turkey herself. To such an extent was this interference carried, that I find one of our Ambassadors thought himself entitled to remonstrate with the in- 837 dependent Sovereign of Turkey on the expense he was going to on the marriage of his daughter. That is the way the independence of the Sultan has been viewed by us—not through any ill-will on our part, but through good-will, and to save Turkey from the consequences of her own acts. Again, there is another respect in which Turkey has never been admitted into the brotherhood of nations. She never has been intrusted with legal jurisdiction over the subjects of other nations resident in her territory. Though we have thought her administration of justice quite good enough for 14,000,000 or 15,000,000 of other people, we never have thought it good enough for a single human being connected with ourselves, and special Acts of Parliament have been passed giving Consular jurisdiction in order that British subjects should not be subject to the jurisdiction of Turkish Courts. Many years ago Lord Russell pointed to the fact that this arose, not from any desire to violate Treaties, but because, in the administration of justice, the Turkish was not a civilized but a barbarous Government.
Having referred to these general circumstances, I wish now to point out what has happened since the making of the Treaties of 1856. The first event that followed them was the Syrian massacres in 1860. It was the old story of the rival fanaticisms of the Mussulman and other tribes under Turkish rule, together with the weakness or corruption of Turkish officials. They were horrible massacres, and your Lordships will remember how they shocked the conscience of Europe, and provoked European intervention. And how does this stand with reference to the Treaty? It was not a violation of the Treaty—it was a case for which the Treaty did not provide. And what was the result? When these Syrian massacres took place, the Government of France told us that they could not abstain from interference. The other Powers agreed with her, and you will find, from the Papers presented to this House at that time, that Lord Palmorston and Lord Russell felt themselves compelled to concur in that interference. The result was an armed intervention by Europe, the occupation of Syria, and, therefore, a very decided interference in the internal affairs of Turkey. The interference of Europe, then, was the 838 dealing with a case for which the Treaties of 1856 did not provide, and could not have provided. That was the first proof after the making of those Treaties that Turkey could not always be intrusted with the execution of her own promises. I hope the Members of your Lordships' House will make up their minds to consider whether this was or was not to be called a violation of the Treaties. I contend that it was not provided for by the Treaties. It was outside the Treaties; but it was not in violation of the Treaties. Now, what was the second event? The second event was a very remarkable one. and extended over several years—it was a series of revolutions in the vassal States of Turkey. The Roumanian and Servian revolutions, which extended over nine years, brought about—first, the junction of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia; next, the appointment of one Hospodar for those two Principalities, resulting in their complete union under the name of Roumania; then the deliverance of Sorvia from Turkish garrisons; and, lastly, the election of a European Prince to preside over the great vassal Province of Roumania. How did Europe deal with these revolutionary movements? It was unquestionably the intention of the Treaties of 1856 that the status quo should be maintained, and that the vassal States of Turkey should be kept in vassalage under the Ottoman Power—divided, and not united under one Prince, and that the fortresses of Servia should be occupied by the Suzerain power, tending to keep the suzerainty of Turkey over its vassal States a reality. But the series of revolutions to which I have referred have all been tending directly to the separation and independence of these States—and yet every one of those revolutions has been sanctioned by the Powers—sanctioned reluctantly, sanctioned in some cases sulkily, but sanctioned. And why? Because it was no part of the obligations in the Treaties of 1856 to defend Turkey against insurrections. In relation to her own subjects, she was not protected by us. We had no call to protect her against the results of her own misgovernment; and accordingly, when, by hook or by crook—and sometimes by foreign aid—those insurrections succeeded, the Powers did not go to war for Turkey. That is a most sig- 839 nificant circumstance as showing the European understanding of the Treaties. What was the next event? The great and bloody insurrection in the Island of Crete in 1867. My noble Friend the Foreign Secretary knows that I never urged that it was our duty to interfere, or accused him because he refused to interfere. My only objection to his policy was that he carried his neutrality to such an extent that he refused to allow our naval officers to rescue women and children from the brutality of the Turkish troops. That, however, was settled in the manner in which things of the kind sometimes have been settled —by a naval officer taking the matter into his own hands, refusing to carry out to the letter the instructions to the Service, and carrying into safety a large number of fugitives. Although the Cretan insurrection had no general bearing on the question of Turkey and the Contracting Powers, it had this consequence—that it was perhaps the first event that aroused public feeling in this country with respect to Turkish government. During the 10 years which had elapsed between the making of the Treaties and the Cretan insurrection, the internal administration of Turkey had scarcely been brought under the consideration of the people of this country. The Syrian insurrection had been very bad, but that was far off in Asia; and, so far as I recollect, there had been no case in which any great complaint was made against the Government of Turkey in Europe till the insurrection in Crete. The next event was the breaking out of the war between Germany and Franco in July, 1870. In the course of a few weeks it became apparent to the world that France had temporarily ceased to be one of the great military Powers of Europe. In these circumstances, it was the duty of those who presided over our foreign relations at that time to consider what would be the result of a quarrel breaking out between Russia and Turkey in respect to the government of the Christian subjects of the Porte; and whether, without the assistance of that great military Ally with whom we were united during the Crimean War, it would be possible for us, either physically or morally, to take the same course as we did then? I need not say what the conclusion was at which our Foreign 840 Minister of that time arrived on the question; and I cannot help thinking that the sagacity displayed by my noble Friend behind me, who at the time held that office (Earl Granville), has not received its due meed of recognition from the fact that the public have hardly noticed the invaluable despatch which he wrote some weeks after the Franco-German War broke out, in which he gave full warning to Turkey as to the consequence which would be likely to result from any such quarrel with Russia. My noble Friend, on the 6th of October, 1870, wrote as follows:—I have already told the Turkish Ambassador that I could not give assurances as to future contingencies. Would it not be more friendly to say more, and to point out that there are contingencies in which Turkey must feel sure that she could not rely upon our aid, and to impress upon her that her real safety will depend upon the spirit and feelings of the populations over which she rules? It is certain that the feelings of the Christian subjects of the Porte will be in favour of the Porto or of Russia exactly in proportion to the amount of liberty, prosperity, and order which they enjoy under the one, or are likely to obtain under the other.This is a most invaluable warning; but it throws also invaluable light on the understanding which was held in this country at the time as to the degree and kind of obligation which was imposed upon us by the Treaty of 1856. I say my noble Friend was perfectly right— that in no circumstances would we give Turkey assistance in any quarrel arising out of her misgovernment of her own subjects, and out of her breach of covenant in this respect with the Christian Powers of Europe. By this warning Turkey was thrown on her own defence, and she was warned that she must look to reform in her own administration as the only hope of safety. We now come to the first event connected with our own country which immediately followed the defeat of Franco. Russia lost no time in denouncing that clause of the Treaty of 1856 which forbade her to have a Fleet in the waters of the Black Sea. She had no quarrel with Turkey. Her act was simply a spontaneous one. She said to herself—"I see my opportunity, and I will take advantage of it." Unquestionably, that act was an outrage on the public law of Europe, and my noble Friend behind me did right in entering an immediate protest against it. He pronounced no opinion 841 against the merits of the claim. Turkey had come to possess a great ironclad Fleet; and thus, although, under the provisions of the Treaty, the Black Sea was neutralized, the Bosphorus might be armed to the teeth with men-of-war, which might at a moment's notice take possession of the whole seaboard of the Russian Empire. In these circumstances, it would not have been unreasonable had Russia brought the matter under the notice of the European Powers, and said—"This is a clause by which it is not reasonable I should be bound, and I ask you to relieve me from it." But instead of coming forward and saying this, and annulling the clause by the action of Europe, Russia did so by annulling the clause of her own will. That she should thus take the question into her own hands was a mode of proceeding against which my noble Friend very naturally protested. There was a Conference held, and as to the substance of the clause it was declared not unreasonable, that it should in the circumstances be abrogated; but a special Declaration was drawn up to the effect that such a violent act as that complained of on the part of any single Power to a Treaty was against the public law of Europe. That Declaration is as follows:—The Plenipotentiaries of North Germany, of Austro-Hungary, of Great Britain, of Italy, of Russia, and of Turkey, assembled to-day in Conference, recognize that it is an essential principle of the law of nations that no Power can liberate itself from the engagements of a Treaty, nor modify the stipulations thereof, unless with the consent of the Contracting Powers by means of an amicable arrangement.To that Russia assented; and it is well worthy of remark, that although she thus obtained liberty to build a Fleet in the Black Sea, she has never, strange to say, taken advantage of that liberty for a period of six years. During these six years the command of the Black Sea was left to Turkey, and when the war broke out—a proof, I think, that it was not long premeditated by Russia—the Government of Turkey were as completely masters of the Euxine as if there had never been any modification of the Treaty.
I now come to an event with which your Lordships are all familiar. The insurrection of 1875 broke out. What was the action of our Government? They tried to the very last moment to keep to 842 the principle that Turkey should be intrusted with the execution of her own promises. They resisted, as long as they could, every attempt towards external interference. They said—"Turkey has given new promises—let us try her again." I do not now say anything to blame the Government for the course which they then pursued. It was an attempt in the spirit of 1856; although, if they had acted otherwise, they would not have violated the provisions of the Treaty, as I have already maintained. I do not know whether any of your Lordships have read lately the Andrassy Note; but I would advise your Lordships to read it again. No such indictment against any Government in the world has ever been signed by the great European Powers. It contains a recapitulation, extending over a period of 30 years, of all the promises which had been made by Turkey and violated. It has many pages of the severest censure on the conduct of Turkey; and it is, it should be remembered, a declaration against the misgovernment of Turkey which can never be withdrawn. Do you think such a document could be signed by all the Powers without producing some effect on the political atmosphere of Europe, and casting a new light on the position of a semi-barbarous State?
Then came the Bulgarian massacres in May, 1876, when, at last, not only the conscience, but the passion of the country was aroused, and my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Derby) felt, in a moment, that it would be impossible to maintain any longer the policy of abstention to which they had hitherto adhered with respect to the internal affairs of Turkey. My noble Friend accordingly, on the 5th of September, 1876, wrote as follows to our Ambassador at Constantinople:—For your guidance as to the language to be held by you to the Turkish Ministers at this juncture, it is right that you should be accurately acquainted with the state of public opinion in England on the subject of Turkey. It is my duty to inform you that any sympathy which was previously felt hero towards that country has been completely destroyed by the recent lamentable occurrences in Bulgaria. The accounts of the outrages and excesses committed by the Turkish troops upon an unhappy and, for the most part, an unresisting population, has roused a universal feeling of indignation in all classes of English society, and to such a pitch has this risen that, in the extreme case of Russia 843 declaring war against Turkey, Her Majesty's Government would find it practically impossible to interfere in defence of the Ottoman Empire.There you have the announcement to the Turkish rulers that we were absolved from the duty of protecting the independence of the Turkish Empire; that circumstances had arisen which made it impossible that we should defend it. My Lords, I say that this declaration was new only in this respect—as a declaration of the principle that the misgovernment of Turkey, and the violation of her promises, forfeited her rights under the Treaties of 1856. Was Turkey to be bolstered up as a European Power, however bad her principles and conduct might be? Clearly not; and I only say for the Government that drew up those Treaties, that they never contemplated those results; and I do not believe that even Lord Palmerston would have adopted any other language than that of my noble Friend.
My Lords, I come to the next point— the Servian War—with respect to which the Prime Minister had spoken with such severity. No doubt, the ordinary relations between a Sovereign State and its vassals might have justified such language; but it is hardly for us to be judges of the provocations that have been received from the subject populations of Turkey. We are so very comfortable ourselves at home, that it is difficult for us to estimate the full measure of such provocation, or to realize the temptations to which the neighbouring populations of Turkey are exposed; and you may take it as a fact that these populations will, on every possible occasion, try to assort their own independence. Well, the Servians went to war, and were completely beaten. What did Europe do when this happened? When the Turks were preparing to invade Servia, you said—"Forgive Servia, and resume your former relations with her." Why did you say this? Why did you deprecate the conquest of Servia by Turkey? Because you knew that it would not be allowed by Russia, or by Austria, or by Europe as a whole. You knew the law, that when once the Moslem Power has been driven from any part of Europe, it is impossible that it should ever be re-established. Now, we know what our claim is on Servia's gratitude. But what is the light thrown on the Treaties of 1856 by these transactions? 844 The relations between Turkey and her subject States formed part of those Treaties, and this was the consummation of a series of revolutions to which Europe was obliged to assent.
Next I must mention the Instructions given to the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) on going to the Conference. Those Instructions laid down the principle that it was absolutely necessary that some European guarantee should be taken for the execution of the promises of reform made by Turkey; and the Conference was, in fact, broken up upon that very point. Turkey would not admit even the most limited form of interference, and said—though the demands diminished one after another— that she would take her stand on her own interpretation of the Treaties of 1856, to the effect that in no case whatever had Europe any right to interfere.
Now we come to the Protocol of London, March 31, 1877, which was signed on the understanding that if peace were not obtained, the document would have no effect. It was, however, important in this respect that Russia agreed to withdraw her threats of armed intervention, and that the efforts of England had succeeded so far as to secure Turkey another respite if she would sign the Protocol. But what happened? Turkey again refused, and in terms which, considering the efforts made in her behalf, were in the highest degree insulting to the Government—Turkey, as an independent State, cannot submit to any interference, whether collective or not. The Treaty of Paris explicitly declared the principle of non-intervention, and Turkey is determined to keep the place which Providence has destined her for.What I want to represent to the House is, that up to that moment of the Protocol of London, the Treaty of 1856 was in full and satisfactory operation, and its principle was that the fate of Turkey should be settled by Europe, and not by Russia alone. It was in full force, and there was no violation of it till Turkey refused to put herself under the conditions proposed by the Protocol.
My general proposition is, that in all these long transactions, there has been no violation of the Treaty of 1856, except by Turkey. She has been the only Power systematically violating the Treaty. It seems to be almost universally believed that when Russia deter- 845 mined to go to war with Turkey she broke the Treaty of 1856. I do not say that her conduct may not be condemned on other grounds; but I say that Russia, in taking up the common quarrel when all the other Powers refused, in no way violated the Treaty of 1856. That Treaty contemplated mediation, it is true; but it also contemplated individual action in the event of the failure of mediation. The noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office had said that time and patience would cure all; would have cured all the evils from which the Christian populations have so long suffered. Yes; but whose time and patience? Does it mean our time and patience, or the time and patience of those 15,000,000 of people who have been so long denied the blessings of good government? And why should this patience be demanded of them for the convenience of England, or even of Europe as a whole? Have they not waited and suffered long enough? One or two circumstances have shown us what would have happened to those populations if there had been no war. In September we had glimpses of what the state of things would be if Turkey had succeeded. During that terrible month of September, when the tide of invasion was rolled back by the repulse of General Gourko on the south of the Balkans, the Turkish Army were in possession of one of the richest parts of Bulgaria; and what was the spirit in which they acted? One of our Consuls wrote to Mr. Layard in terms of extreme horror at the conduct of both parties, and almost reviled the Bulgarians for the revengeful massacres they had committed; but he said that when the Turks were in full swing and full power there, and no insurrection was going on, their conduct was such as to lead to the belief that it was the intention of their Government to exterminate the Christian population in that part of the country. I am not going to say a word to-night in favour of Russia in any other respect than as concerns this Treaty. You may condemn her on any other ground, if you will, but not on the ground of the Treaty of 1856.
My Lords, I have only a few words more to say as to the position in which we now stand in regard to these Treaties. A controversy has been going on in the public Press, which has been taken part 846 in by very eminent men signing their names, and affirming and disputing the proposition that war dissolves Treaties. I cannot help thinking that in this particular instance this is what the late Sir James Graham called a "logomachy." It is a dispute about abstract propositions which have no reference to the circumstances of the case. Russia, under the Treaty of 1856, had a separate as well as a collective quarrel with Turkey; she had a perfect right to go to war with Turkey, and an International right to impose her own conditions. But that we, on the other hand, have our rights and interests, and that Europe has her rights and interests, is a counter-proposition which is also equally true; and we are entitled to reject any proposals which are injurious to the interests of Europe. These two propositions, like many others in politics or in science, seem to be contradictory, but they are both true; and the only question is, whether the particular terms which Russia has insisted on imposing are such terms as really interfere with the interests of Europe? I have only to say this on behalf of those with whom I acted in 1856. In my opinion, the whole object of that Treaty would still be secured if you have really happy and independent Christian Provinces in Turkey. The form of that Treaty was to keep up the interest of Europe in that country through the then existing Government, and that Government was the Porte. But you know that, as an independent military Power, Turkey no longer exists in Europe. I hold that the objects which we aimed at in the Treaty of 1856 will be attained— so far as they can be attained—if you succeed in erecting really satisfactory Principalities in those Provinces. You cannot, however, do that under the Government of the Turks; and I believe that until the Government of the Turks is out of the way you will have these Provinces dependent on Russia. The moment there is no possibility of the Moslem Empire being restored over any part of that country, you will have developed those International jealousies which have already begun to work, and which will probably create a considerable counterpoise to the influence of Russia. I only wish, my Lords, to say this further word. I have often been asked whether it is really possible that in 1853 and 1854 we ever believed in the re- 847 generation of Turkey. I have no right to speak for others. I was the youngest Member of Lord Aberdeen's Cabinet, and I might very well shelter myself behind the authority of much older, abler, and wiser men. But I will confess that, as a member of that Cabinet, I never believed in the regeneration of the Turks. The regeneration of Turkey-is quite another matter; and I am happy to be able to produce evidence as to my views on that point—if your Lordships care to refer to a matter of so small significance as what my opinions were. In 1854 I contributed to The Edinburgh Review a political article on the diplomatic history of the Eastern Question, in which I expressed—as strongly as Mr. Cobden or Mr. Bright could have expressed it—my belief in the necessary fall of Turkey. But what I believed— and what other Members of the Cabinet believed—was that it was quite possible that a decently good Government could be maintained in Turkey until, by the natural progress of events, by the rise of the Christian population, and by their superior knowledge and industry, another form of Government should be peacefully substituted for the existing one. The question of the regeneration of the Turks had nothing to do with the Treaty of 1856, so long as that great change could be brought about peacefully, as was most desirable. The truth is, that we are now witnessing one of those great changes in the history of the world which we might possibly guide, but which it is absolutely impossible to control. It is a change fraught with enormous blessings to an important part of the population of Eastern Europe. And I trust that in the Conference which is about to assemble Her Majesty's Government will look to what is the real interest and honour of England, which is to see that a good Government is established in the Provinces which have been liberated by the arms of Russia.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said, that the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) had renewed his accusations of oppression against the Turkish Government; but these were disproved by the prosperity of Bulgaria, which was not a mountainous country, inaccessible to tax-gathers, but a flat country, with the Turks living in the midst of the other inhabitants. The noble Duke also spoke 848 of 15,000,000 of Christian subjects. Those figures were very incorrect, for they were nearer to the entire population of Turkey in Europe, and nearly 5,000,000 had to be deducted from them for the Wallachians and Moldavians, who had nothing to say to the Turkish Government. The noble Duke said that the conscience of Europe was shocked by the massacres in Bulgaria. How was it that it was not shocked by the proceedings of the Russians, which the Grand Duke Nicholas had just now called Holy work? Was it holy work to send 2,000 sick and wounded out of Kars to perish in the snow; to starve the prisoners in Plevna; to starve them in Roumania; to hang Polish surgeons, who were doubly protected as Austrian subjects, and under the Geneva Convention? He asked himself how it was that those partisans of Russia in this country, who named the author of all this misery the Divine figure from the North, did not tremble to follow in the footsteps of the courtiers of that other King, who, when he made an oration, shouted —"It is the voice of a god and not of a man," and they did not dread to bring upon their idolized patron the death of Herod. He desired to remind their Lordships that a short time ago a Motion was before that House on the subject of Russian encroachments on the Treaties of 1856 and 1871. But how could their Lordships possibly have accepted the Resolution of the noble Lord (Lord Campbell) after the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had himself set aside those Treaties by his despatch of 6th June of last year? That despatch was written as if those Treaties did not exist—and, setting aside part of the public law of Europe, the lower and selfish ground of our material interests was substituted. The noble Earl told the House that our interests were precisely defined in that despatch; but though that despatch did not define them with exact precision, some of them had been clearly defined by the Colleagues of the noble Earl. The speech of the Home Secretary—to the effect that Constantinople was not to be menaced or approached—might be taken as the most important. The declaration of the right hon. Gentleman to the House of Commons must be considered as binding on Her Majesty's Government as any statement by the noble Earl the 849 Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. In the first place, it was accepted by the Government, inasmuch as it had not been modified or corrected by any subsequent declaration on the part of Her Majesty's Government. In the second place, though the two Houses of Parliament were equal, the statement of the Home Secretary was, if there were any difference, made more directly to the country, since it was made to the Representatives of the constituencies and to a larger audience; while the proceedings in the other House were reported more fully by the Press than those in their Lordships' House. The question, then, arose, why the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had taken steps which must have led—and had led—to that calamity which England was pledged to resist:—for since the Fleet in the Sea of Marmora went away to Mudania, it was clear that the protection of British subjects was only a pretext. Those interests were not in danger at the time; and it was a cruel and heartless act to send the Fleet into the Sea of Marmora after the warning given by Russia that that act would lead to their entry into Constantinople. It was a cruel thing to risk this; for the noble Earl must have known that the Russian Army could not be brought into Constantinople without great probability of the massacre of the inhabitants, and of the destruction of that populous city by fire, and leaving houseless all the women and children and sick and wounded. The noble Earl could not now say that the Fleet was despatched to protect British interests in the Black Sea and in the Straits; for if that were the case, why did he on a former occasion prevent the despatch of the Fleet when it might have served that purpose? When the noble Earl stated that the great body of the people of England approved of, and were therefore jointly responsible with him for, the present state of affairs, he did not correctly state the case, for the people of England—or rather that portion only which had no regard for Treaties—had approved of neutrality under very different circumstances. They had accepted it with the conditions laid down by the Home Secretary and others of the noble Earl's Colleagues, and they had been led by Her Majesty's Government to believe in the promises and assurances given by Russia at the com- 850 mencement of the war. The people of England were ignorant of the very different intentions of Russia disclosed to the noble Earl by Count Schouvaloff on the 8th of June. It now appeared that the noble Earl's Colleagues were also kept in ignorance of them for 10 days—
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said, that it appeared from one of the Parliamentary Papers that the noble Earl told Count Schouvaloff on the 18th that before he could give any opinion on the terms of peace he must consult his Colleagues.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My noble Friend is speaking under an entire misconception. I do not recollect precisely what passed; but I know this—that I have kept back no communication of importance from my Colleagues for 24 hours. When I received this Paper from Count Schouvaloff, it was circulated, among the Members of the Cabinet, in the ordinary way. I understood that I was not called upon at the moment of its reception to express any opinion on its terms; and I said, when asked, that I could not do so without taking the opinion of my Colleagues.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
was glad to hear it. He would ask how England, who was at present without an Ally, could expect to have any, after having abandoned the Ally she was bound by Treaty to defend? Rome abandoned the Saguntines and paid the penalty, for Hannibal ravaged all the Ausonian cities. But Rome had only abandoned one city; and England had to answer for the desertion of many cities. When the Roman Envoys went to Spain to ask for Allies they were received with derision, and told to go and seek for them where the slaughter of Saguntum was unknown. Ibi quaratis socios ubi Saguntina dades ignota est. The abandoment of Khiva, of Achin, and of the thousands of old men, women, and children, who had perished on the roads from Adrianople, would be cast in our teeth when we sought for Allies. The noble Earl the Secretary of State said, a short time ago, that the possession of Armenia brought Russia no nearer to India. It might be so as a matter of miles; but Roman history again showed how fallacious was that 851 opinion and way of looking at the matter; for Hannibal, when he reached the Pyrenees, had not got much nearer to Rome than when he was at Barcelona; yet Livy said that when he reached the Pyrenees, just as though he had already crossed the Alps, the Cisalpine Gauls rose in insurrection against the Romans. It appeared that some of Her Majesty's Ministers did not know how to receive a deputation; for the noble Earl had told one he was always glad to receive instructions from his employers. Was that the language fitting for a servant of the Crown, selected by the Crown because he was supposed to know more than the rest of his fellow-subjects of the affairs intrusted to him? and in this case he did know more, for the deputation did not know of the conditions contained in the Memorandum of June 8. The Secretary of State appeared to be rashly endeavouring to graze with his chariot wheels, as closely as possible, the boundary stones of impeachment; and if the noble Earl thought that part of the Constitution was obsolete, he might pause before causing a risk of yet greater popular tumult and excitement, which might endanger not only the Government, but also some of the Institutions of the country. The Revolution of 1848, and the fall of King Louis Philippe, were principally owing to his neglect—or supposed neglect—of the honour of France. He would conclude by appealing to the noble Earl at the head of the Government to take vigorous action, now that he must be convinced that he had the country with him; and that, more successful than Laocoon, he had been able to unmask the Sinon of Harley Street, and to persuade his countrymen not to trust to the wooden horse of Russian assurances and professions.
§ LORD HAMMOND
said, he desired to make some observations on the present aspect of affairs and the approaching Congress. There could be no doubt that, for all practical purposes, the Treaty of 1856 was dead. We might hold an inquest over its body, pronounce a verdict of misadventure, and decently inter it; but it was vain to attempt to resuscitate it. He thought there had never been a greater delusion than the idea that the primary, if not the sole, object for which statesmen, for the last 50 years, had striven to keep alive 852 the Turkish Empire, was to be found in any special regard for Turkey as a Mussulman Power. He ventured to assert that the real object with those who for that long period had administered the affairs of the Government of this country was not primarily to uphold Turkey for Turkey's sake, but to do so for the sake of the great European interests which would be brought in jeopardy by its downfall, and the apprehension—which would seem now about to receive realization— that the overthrow of the Turkish Empire in Europe might involve the establishment of a Russian Empire in its place. To obviate such a catastrophe, the wearisome negotiations which preceded the Crimean War were directed; the blood and treasure of that war were expended; and though it was true that the independence and integrity of the Turkish Empire were set forth as to be upheld under the Treaty of 1856, that engagement was rather as a means to an end, and not the end itself; for the general solicitude of Europe shrank from contemplating the consequences of the subversion of the Turkish Empire, and looked forward with dismay and apprehension to a general war among the Powers of Europe for the division of the spoils—to the possible establishment of Russian supremacy on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, and to the disturbance of the balance of power in Europe, as the necessary result of such momentous changes. With such dangers we now stood face to face. We might find, indeed, in the provisions of the Treaty of 1856 faint outlines of what the general interests of Europe might require; but any attempt to patch up its remains could scarcely fail to end in disappointment. We must frame a new system, in which the interests of the several States of Europe might find an appropriate place. Happily for this country, as he gathered from the statement of the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs some nights ago, our special interests were less directly at stake in the settlement to be made than those of other Powers. The cession of Batoum to Russia, and the cession of a frontier in Armenia which, while it included Kars, ran down to Bayazid, would not, he apprehended, materially affect our interests: and, so far as he understood, the boundary line left the head-waters 853 of the Euphrates in the possession of Turkey, and would not intercept the caravan route between Trebizonde and Persia. But, be that as it might, the Porte had for very many years steadily disregarded our representations for the improvement of that road, and allowed Russia to attract an undue proportion of the trade to the neighbouring port of Poti, than which Batoum would be a more commodious station in the interests of Russia, and also for such European trade with Persia as, notwithstanding Custom House impediments, might follow that direction. British trade, indeed, as he understood, had found a better line of access in the direction of Persia than it had hitherto found through Turkey. As regarded another point, he was unable to share the apprehensions entertained in some quarters — that this increase of Russian territory in Armenia involved a menace to British India. The danger, he conceived, for India lay not in Russian armies, but in Russian. intrigues; and the occupation even of the whole valley of the Euphrates would not facilitate those intrigues, which would be more probably directed against the British possessions through Herat and Affghanistan. But though the interests of this country in Asia might not be deeply concerned in the coming settlement, we could not disregard the interests of European nations at large, which were to be provided for in Europe. For instance, the maintenance of the navigable channel of the Danube, as it existed before the late war, was essential to the interests of Central Europe. But the transfer to Roumania of the whole navigable channels of the Delta from Isatchi to the sea, would sooner or later render nugatory all the efforts which had been made of late years for its improvement. Severed, though it might be, from Turkey, the independence of Roumania would be a fiction;—to all intents and purposes Roumania would be the vassal of Russia; and it was well-known how Russia dealt with the Danube between the Treaty of Adrianople, when she acquired the Delta, and the Crimean War, when she was deprived of it; how, acting in the interests of her own corn-growing Provinces, she evaded her engagements to improve the navigable channel of the Danube for the benefit of the rival in- 854 terests of other corn-growing countries situated on its banks. The zeal and intelligence of the European Commission established under the Treaty of 1856, seconded by the skill of Sir Charles Hartley, the British Engineer of the Commission, succeeded in obtaining for the shipping of all nations a navigable channel having 18 feet or 19 feet depth of water, instead of one limited to between 8 feet and 10 feet, which only was obtained during the Russian occupation. True, indeed, engagements might be contracted for keeping open the channel; but who would venture hereafter implicitly to rely on such engagements? But after all came the great difficulty of Bulgaria, involving, as it did, questions of perplexing magnitude, among which not the least would be that of providing against the constitution, however disguised in name, of a Russian Province, comprising a very large and important portion of European Turkey; and how to reconcile the concession of absolute Bulgarian autonomy with the modified autonomy of other Provinces of European Turkey which were to be left under the suzerainty of the Sultan. The object which, from the beginning of these troubles, all the Powers professed to have in view was the amelioration of the lot of those—and more specifically of the Christians—who, whatever might be their nationality or creed, suffered from maladministration under their Mussulman Governors. But a satisfactory settlement in that respect, which would secure the peace of Europe and the well-being of the populations at large, could never be arrived at by setting up an exclusive Christian supremacy as a substitute for the exclusive Mussulman supremacy which had hitherto held sway in European Turkey. The only hope of arriving at such a settlement would seem to lie in a fusion of the antagonistic races; and he thought such a fusion was not impossible. There was no question but that, in some districts at least, Christians and Mussulmans had heretofore lived in amity and good neighbourhood with each other; and what was now required was the constitution of some responsible governing authority— Christian, if it could be found—under whose supremacy and control a system of local administration might be established, in which persons of every race, in proportion to their numbers in each locality, 855 might find admission; which all, therefore, might equally respect; and under which all might indifferently obtain security for life and property, and enjoy equal rights and privileges in the Courts of Justice. The population of European Turkey, excluding Servia and Roumania, amounted, according to the tables in The Gotha Almanack of 1876, to about 8,400,000 souls, of whom about 4,800,000 were Christians or Jews-there being about 300,000 Roman Catholics, and between 70,000 and 80,000 Jews—and3,600,000Mahomedans; and, taking separately the Bulgaria of the Conference, there would be in the Province so constituted about 2,000,000 Christians and Jews, and 1,300,000 Mussulmans. It was impossible in such a state of things to suppose that the Mussulmans would be content to live in peace if placed in unqualified subjection to the Christians; and the alternative would seem to be social equality between Christians and Mussulmans—as he believed existed in British India between members of different creeds—or the extermination of the latter; and this could, he thought, scarcely be contemplated with complacency in any quarter. But besides this general division of the population; it must be borne in mind that the Christians were not at one among themselves. It was said in "another place," a few days ago, that the result of personal inquiry at Constantinople was, that it admitted of proof that there was a temptation to persecution on the part of the Greek Church. It was notorious, indeed, that much of the persecution to which the Greeks had been exposed originated with the Greek clergy, who did not hesitate to invoke the support of Mussulman authorities to enforce their pecuniary exactions from their flocks. It was no less well known that in some quarters Roman Catholics had suffered— and, indeed, were still suffering—from the intolerant spirit by which the Greek Church when dominant was actuated; and not long since a statement had been put forth by the pastor of a Protestant community in Macedonia—whose trustworthiness was, he understood, admitted by well-informed persons in this country —as to the sufferings of Protestants in Bulgaria at the hands of Greek Church authorities. Moreover, the systematic oppression and persecution to which, 856 not only in Bulgaria, but also in Servia and Roumania, the unfortunate Jews were exposed, were notorious. In such a state of things it was impossible not to concur in the opinion that there could be no greater boon to the rising nationalities of Turkey than that the influence of England should be used, as far as possible, not only on behalf of all persecuted peoples—whether Jews or Protestants—but also to save the majority of the population from the horror and misery which they would bring on themselves if they encouraged a persecuting spirit. Such a boon it might be in the power of the Congress to provide; and, at all events, we might, he hoped, derive an assurance from what fell from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs some short time ago—that Her Majesty's Representatives in the Congress would be instructed earnestly to endeavour to secure that boon for the whole population of European Turkey. One word more, and he had done. Whatever conclusions the Conference might arrive at, it might be hoped that they would not involve this country in any entangling engagement in the form of guarantees. We had had sufficient experience of the illusory character of such engagements; and it was surely unworthy of a great Power to undertake with others a responsibility the discharge of which did not depend on itself alone, and which might be rendered impossible by circumstances which it had no power to control.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
My Lords, if the present state of affairs was, in my opinion, one of the same political tension that has existed for the last few weeks, or if I thought there was any risk of hostilities being renewed or ex-tended, I should preserve silence on the present occasion. I trust, however, that this is not the case; and I can assure your Lordships that I have no intention of saying anything which might tend to embarrass Her Majesty's Government. One reason for the few remarks which I desire to make is this—that while I have listened with admiration to the singularly lucid way in which, from his point of view, the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll) has stated the history and the view he takes of these Treaties, I cannot say that I quite agree with the moral which he draws from the facts. If I understood him rightly, he holds that the Treaty of 1856 imposed certain 857 obligations upon Turkey, and that the other Powers who were signataries to the Treaty having corresponding duties were entitled, either jointly or separately, when the obligations of Turkey were unfulfilled, to intervene. I admit that the Treaty imposed duties upon Turkey, because, as the noble Duke pointed out, the 7th Article provides for the admission of Turkey into the European concert; but the Treaty also imposes upon Turkey corresponding obligations. She was thenceforward to provide better government for her Christian populations, and to carry out those reforms which she had long before specified. Those reforms were, in the reign of the Sultan Abdul Medjid, formulated in a famous document; but that document for years remained a dead letter, and when the Treaty of 1856 was agreed to, the terms were re-imposed; and how have they been executed? They have remained, to all intents and purposes, a dead letter, and the condition of the Christian subjects of the Porte remained in most essentials the same as before. The abuses grew with increased strength; until at last the Turkish Government, having become a borrower to a very great extent, was compelled to repudiate her obligations, and to acknowledge herself to be practically bankrupt. That bankruptcy was an important point in the matter; because, if there had before been any question as to her executing the promised reforms, the fact of her becoming bankrupt rendered it impossible for her to fulfil her undertaking. Turkey, therefore, having accepted the Treaty of 1856, with its obligations, failed in her performance of them. On the other hand, Russia also submitted to the Article in the Treaty which provided for the neutralization of the Black Sea and for the non-maintenance of military and maritime arsenals. It is known that the Article was one to which Russia only submitted after difficulty; and I do not think the noble Duke will deny that the reluctant assent of Russia was mainly due to pressure brought to bear by the English Government. This being so, it was, perhaps, not unnatural that Russia would watch carefully for an opportunity to procure the cancellation of this particular Article of the Treaty. That opportunity presented itself in 1871, and Russia obtained the abrogation of the Article to 858 which she objected, but she did this by obtaining—whatever the circumstances may have been—the formal assent of Europe. There was a departure from the original contract; and there can be no doubt that as Turkey failed in her obligations, so Russia had failed in hers, though she did subsequently obtain the consent of Europe. The moral I would draw from this state of facts is, that we must look to it carefully in any European arrangements that are now made, that they shall not only be practicable, but shall have a fair likelihood of being carried into effect. They will be of little value if they carry in themselves the seeds of early dissolution. They must take into account the tendencies and affinities of nations, and the plain indication of events. We must look beyond the immediate consequences and exigencies of the moment. It is comparatively easy for conquerors to proceed on the væ victis principle—it is easy for by standing nations to patch up hastily a quarrel and put it, like an unclean thing, out of sight; but a quarrel thus made up affords but an insecure foundation for the future well-being and peace of the countries interested. It was, as we all know, the policy of the First Napoleon to press his Treaties upon reluctant and conquered nations without any reference to the future; and we know what the result of that was. We have also seen in a recent war a great military Power extorting two Provinces from France; but does anybody suppose that France would have assented to such a cession of territory except under a sense of absolute compulsion, and that a large proportion of the French nation do not look to the time when they may regain what has been wrested from them? It may be said, in answer to this, that the Treaty of Vienna lasted many years comparatively unimpaired. It was only comparatively; but so far as it did remain unimpaired, it was maintained by the exhaustion of all parties concerned. In addition, those who look to the circumstances, to the times, and the conditions under which the Treaty of Vienna was framed, will admit that it was singularly moderate, and that to its moderation is in a great measure due the permanence that followed its arrangements. Therefore, I trust that in the forthcoming Congress Europe will 859 look not merely to the immediate exigencies of the case, but to the future and permanent condition, and will consider what is likely to endure, as well as what may satisfy the requirements of the moment. Nature in all these matters is stronger than the mere parchments of diplomatists; and, if the necessary territorial re-arrangements are made with foresight and sagacity, we may look for a long endurance of them—I will not say for absolute finality, for that exists neither in politics nor in any decree or institution of man. I do not desire to go into any details of the question, or to deal with any matters affecting special interests in which this country is engaged. Nor do I desire to touch upon the relations of different foreign countries. In the immediate face of the coming Conference I think it would be undesirable to do so. One thing, however, I desire to say, and very much in the sense of the noble Duke—namely, that the condition of things as regards Turkey and her Rulers, especially in relation to Europe, has absolutely passed away. I do not deny that in a merely diplomatic point of view the position which Turkey held as regards this country was a convenient one. It was the position of a Government not strong enough to stand by itself, but strong enough to stand with the support of England—a Government holding the keys of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, and exercising an important influence in the East. A Government such as that, living under the protection of England, was, in a diplomatic point of view, undoubtedly convenient. But any reasonable person who has watched the course of affairs, and who has read history, must have seen that such an arrangement as that was necessarily in its nature temporary. Well, that condition of things has, I believe, absolutely passed away, so completely passed away, that if it were possible to revive a real and substantial portion of Turkish authority in these countries, it may well be questioned if such a revival would be for English interests. Whether we regard the change which has occurred with or without apprehension, it is equally important that we should be clear on that point before this country goes into Conference or Congress; and what there will have to be considered is this—what shall be the substitute for that which 860 has passed away. I do not look for a substitute being found in any possible revival of a dead Government and a fallen race—umbra et imago cadentis civitatis. You cannot re-establish this. Nor do I look for a substitute in the over-shadowing power of a colossal Empire. A better—and perhaps indeed the only—substitute is, in my mind, to be looked for in the improvement and gradual strengthening—it must be most gradual—of the subject-races of Turkey —not few in number, and, as I quite admit, possessed of the faults and vices which a long servitude has engendered, but who, after all, possess the germs of vitality and progress. That is the substitute to which I look; but, anyhow, whether that be so or not, there is a large work of re-construction to be performed. My Lords, it is no light task that lies before the Congress; and I cannot resist expressing an earnest desire that if those races be accepted as the substitute for the state of things which has passed away, this country at least may be fortunate enough to gain the good-will of those people. There is nothing in this wish which ought to offend any man or any Party. Such a wish is, I think, in strict conformity with the true interests of this country. It is a wish which I remember was expressed by my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary some years ago. The broad statesmanship of Lord Grenville, the generous policy of Mr. Canning, the enthusiasm even of Lord Byron, still live in the recollection of the East, and make it not difficult for us to acquire the friendship and good-will of those races. It may be said that recent events have lost us that good-will. If that be so, it is not impossible to regain it. The differences of neighbouring nations and races are proverbial; and, although it may sound ill for human nature, it is absolutely certain that while, on the one hand, it will be difficult for Russia to preserve the gratitude she has won, on the other hand, by good policy on our part, I believe it will be easy for England to acquire it. I trust the Congress will keep steadily before it this view—that the great object should be, not a temporary, but a permanent settlement—as far as human effort can achieve it—of this great question; for it would be beyond the power of all words, shocking and repulsive to think 861 that after the torrents of blood that have been poured forth, after the amount of human agony that has been inflicted, there should, in a few years, be a repetition of those horrors.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
said, he did not think this was the time to come forward and recount the misdeeds of the Turks. He regretted that in this moment of defeat any one should have come forward to trample on the vanquished, and to flatter the arrogant. What did his noble Friend who opened the discussion say of the Treaties? It amounted to this—that they bound Turkey to take care of her Christian subjects; that England had an equal right with Russia and every other Power to go to war with Turkey to effect that object; but they gave to Turkey no matter of right whatever, and his noble Friend said that the partitioning of Turkey would be no violation of the Treaties. He could not help regarding that as a very strange view to take of those Treaties. He must ask what was the value of the Treaty at all? Was not the object of the Treaty to keep the peace in the East of Europe; and, if so, were not these wars violations of the Treaty? He was not a party to it, and was not in the Government at the time of the Crimean War, and could therefore speak with impartiality; but he did regret that they had such an attack from his noble Friend on a conquered and prostrate Power, our ancient Ally, and with whom we had a trade amounting to £11,000,000 or £12,000,000 yearly. With respect to the future, he hoped that now Turkey was, as he might say, "gone," something would be done for her unfortunate population, who had suffered so much, and that this country would do all in its power to lessen the misery which the war had occasioned.
§ THE DUKE OF RUTLAND
regretted that Russia had not spoken out more plainly and frankly with regard to the Treaty of Peace, and with regard to the terms of that Treaty. If she had done so, it would have allayed the great alarm, almost amounting to panic, which prevailed in this country. At the same time, he must confess we were, in a great measure, to blame in the matter; for surely we gave the Emperor of Russia no encouragement to lay his plans before us. They had, unfortunately—or perhaps we should rather say fortunately— 862 a war party in the country — there always was such a party—and he was grieved at the language used by Members of that party in that House, and in the House of Commons—language which, in his opinion, was scarcely becoming so great and powerful a nation as this was. When such language had been used, and in such places, he thought that they could not be astonished that the Emperor of Russia had not made us his confidant in giving to us before the other Powers information as to the terms of peace. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll), in his able speech, had displayed great knowledge of the Treaties of 1856 and 1871—but into that question he (the Duke of Rutland) would not enter. He might, however, observe that he was opposed to the Crimean War, and that he had at the time done his utmost to prevent this country from entering into hostilities against Russia. The course which he then took he had never regretted; but he was, nevertheless, prepared to admit that the Crimean War had produced throe great advantages. It proved, in the first place, that the British Army was as full of determination and pluck as it had shown itself to be at any previous period of our history. It gave us, in the second place, an insight into the mal-administration of the Army, and the many respects in which it required reformation —and which, he believed, had since been reformed—so that he hoped it was now in a satisfactory condition. There was a third advantage which we derived from that war, and that was knowledge that neither by force of Treaties nor of arms could Turkey be upheld, and that she was an anachronism in the European system. That a war party, at the same time, existed in the country could not, he thought, be denied; and he was reminded by that fact of a story which was told him by a noble Friend of his who happened to be travelling in a railway carriage with another gentleman, shortly after a horrible murder had been committed on one of the Metropolitan lines. The gentleman who was with his noble Friend turned to him and said—"I wonder you are not afraid to travel in this carriage with me alone." "Afraid," replied his noble Friend; "why should I be? I do not suppose you mean to attack me; and if you did, you may be perfectly sure I could defend 863 myself." Now, that was the way in which, in his opinion, we ought to meet the apprehended danger of Russian invasion. Such a mode of meeting it would certainly be more becoming to the greatness, real power, real strength, and enormous resources of England, than indulgence in anything like alarm or panic. He was happy, he might add, to find that the preliminaries of peace, at all events, had been concluded; and he hoped the Great Powers would soon go into a Conference, not with a view to bolster up Turkey, but to find for her Government some substitute, and make some satisfactory and permanent arrangement. If in that Conference the Representative of England, whoever he might be, found that her interests were threatened, Her Majesty's Ministers, as well as the Opposition, would, he felt assured, be prepared to defend her rights and interests, while bearing in mind that, in the words of his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, the first interest of England was peace.
§ THE EARL OF FEVERSHAM
said, that much had been said of the misgovernment of the Porte; but he would remind their Lordships that when the troops of Russia first burst across the Danube, they were surprised at finding that the condition of the Bulgarian population was much better than they had anticipated—much better, in fact, than that of Russia herself. Then, with regard to the destruction of the Turkish Empire and Government, he wanted to know what they proposed to substitute for them? He thought that would be a very difficult problem to solve. The noble Duke opposite, who had included in his Notice a Motion for Papers relating to Greece, had not said a word about that country throughout the whole of his speech—although the Greeks constituted a large portion of the Christian population of European Turkey, and although, according to the proposed partition of Turkey, Greece would be completely cut off from Constantinople. The object of Russia was to keep out Greece from the new arrangements, and to extend Slav territory as far southwards as possible. If we were to succeed in the unjust, impolitic, and inconsistent policy of driving the Turks out of Europe, Greece, he contended, had the first claim on our generosity. A great portion of the speech of the noble 864 Duke (the Duke of Argyll) was founded on the assumption that there had existed in this country a party so far favourable to maintaining the independence and integrity of the Turkish Empire that they would have joined in a war against Russia and united with Turkey. He (the Earl of Feversham) had never heard of such a party. He heartily regretted the refusal of Turkey to agree to the demands of the Conference, or to the Protocol of London; for a little timely obedience would have saved her many future disasters; but the result of her obstinacy had been, as everyone knew, to leave her dependent on her own resources. The noble Duke had said that it was open to any Power who had been a signatary of the Treaty of 1856 to take separate action; that, however, was not the opinion expressed by the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in his despatch of May 1, in which he censured the Russian Government and denied the right of any one Power to release itself from its engagements without the consent of the other contracting parties. A policy of conditional neutrality was, no doubt, very commendable; but the noble Earl must have known that the further the Russians advanced beyond the Balkans the more onerous would be the terms of peace. He could not but regret that when Plevna had fallen the noble Earl had not asked for some assurance or guarantee that the victorious armies would not advance further than Adria-nople. If some such step had been taken the Government might very fairly have said that further progress on the part of Russia would endanger interests which we should be prepared to defend; and if the Russian Government had declined to give the required guarantee, we ought to have taken action for the maintenance of those interests, oven though we desired to avoid war. We should have sent our Fleet into Turkish waters; and in that case Turkey would not have surrendered her last lines of defence, and we should have been in the position of the beati possidentes, and masters of the situation instead of Russia. The limitation of the Russian advance would then have been the condition of our neutrality. With regard to the terms of peace, he was afraid that European Turkey would disappear, while Bulgaria would practically fall 865 into the hands of Russia. In Armenia, if Russia was to have Kars and Batoum and Erzeroum, she would have bases of attack from which she could dominate the whole country, and which would render her a standing menace to India. As for Constantinople itself, he trusted that nothing would be done which would leave Turkey wholly weak and powerless, but that some amount—and a considerable amount—of territory in Europe would still remain under direct Turkish rule, and that, notwithstanding what had fallen from noble Lords who had turned their backs upon history and flung Treaties to the winds, we should try to retain as much as we could of those Treaties that had hitherto secured the interests of this country.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, the state of your Lordships' House would not encourage anyone to enter at unnecessary length into the questions, however important, which the noble Duke has raised in this discussion. At the same time, I do not wish to appear wanting in courtesy to my noble Friend, or to your Lordships. The noble Duke dealt mainly with retrospective questions—and, for my own part, I can perfectly understand his very natural and proper desire to explain and to justify the position and the views which he held at the time of the Crimean War. I am not, my Lords, disposed to criticize the statements of my noble Friend with regard to the Treaty of 1856, and for this reason—that inasmuch as I agree with him in his general conclusion, I do not know that it would serve any practical purpose to dispute or cavil at the arguments by which he arrived at that conclusion. I cannot, however, go quite so far as he does in one respect. When I read that 7th Article of the Treaty of the 30th of March, by which we engaged to respect the independence and territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire, to guarantee the strict observance of that engagement, and to consider any act tending to its violation as a question of general interest, I cannot quite reconcile myself to the construction that that implies nothing more than that Turkey is admitted into the concert of European Powers. When you recognize and guarantee the independence and integrity of a nation, you certainly give some pledge that you will endeavour to pro- 866 vent that integrity and independence being violated, though it may be a question how far you will go in your efforts for that object. But I quite agree in the practical conclusion of the noble Duke that that guarantee, whatever it may be worth, does not involve an obligation on the guaranteeing parties to make war. It is expressly said that any act tending to the violation of the guarantee is to be considered a question of general interest; and nobody who examines the language of the Treaty will fail to see that that form of words would never have been adopted if it had been intended to bind each of the guaranteeing parties to make war. But I should be inclined to look at the matter from a more general point of view. I think we may take it for granted that if, at the time of the Crimean War, English statesmen and the English public had been told—"This is not a thing that you are doing once for all; you may set the Turkish Empire on its legs for another 20 or 25 years, but at the end of that time you will have to do the same thing again, and each succeeding generation of Englishmen after another will have to repeat the process for an indefinite length of time"—if that, I say, had been fairly put before the country, I think it is certain that we should never have had a Crimean War at all. I look upon the policy of that time as an attempt to see whether, by obtaining for the Turkish Empire a generation of peace and security from outward attack, it might not be possible to make that State really independent, self-supporting, and strong enough to protect itself against other Powers. That experiment has been tried; and, whatever we may think as to who it is on whom the blame should rest, the fact remains that Turkey has not shown itself to be a State which is able to stand permanently on its own resources. So far, then, as the trial of this experiment is concerned, the object aimed at by the Crimean War-has been attained, and the result has been unsuccessful. I agree, therefore, with the noble Duke's practical conclusion that we were quite free to decline to go to war in defence of the Turkish Empire. With regard to the other question which he raised— namely, as to the duty imposed on the Powers which guaranteed the Turkish 867 Empire, to see that proper protection was given to the subject-populations, there, again, I should say it is very difficult to lay down any fixed and definite rule. I agree with my noble Friend that as far as the Treaty itself goes it does not settle the question one way or the other. It simply says that the issue of the firman by the Sultan in favour of his Christian subjects is not to give to the contracting Powers any right of interference which they did not possess before. But whenever you take up the attitude of Protector towards any State, it follows as a necessary consequence that the assumption of that position involves a corresponding right of interference. Whenever we have discussed that subject in this House —and we have done so on several occasions within the last two years—I have always said that the practical limit of our right and duty of interference, as it seemed to me, was not so much one to be found in the letter, or even in the spirit of any Treaty into which we had entered; but was a limit fixed and defined by the practical impossibility of carrying into effect a policy of minute interference and intervention. With regard to the circumstances of the last two years, it is a question of simple fact that, foreseeing the great European complication which would follow on the Russo-Turkish War, we have done everything which seemed to us to lie in our power to prevent that war, short of a resort to force, or, what is the same thing, a menace of force. We hesitated a good deal before we agreed to join in the Andrassy Note, and we declined to take part in later proceedings, which were a further development of the same policy. We did so, because we were reluctant to embark on a course of action which we knew had been more or less arranged and settled by other Powers among themselves; but with regard to the aims and objects of which we were altogether in the dark. When that matter had ceased to be in question, we interposed to put an end to the Servian War—ostensibly on the face of it for the protection of Servia, but also with the distinct idea in our minds, that if the Turkish generals had pushed their advantages as they might have done, Russia could have taken part in the quarrel, and a Russo-Turkish war would inevitably have broken out. I must add that at 868 the proceedings of the Conference, again, we gave the Government of the Porte a fair and honourable mode of escape out of its difficulty. The Turkish Government very unwisely refused to avail themselves of the opportunity so offered to them. We were not even then discouraged. The idea of the Protocol was not one which originated with us; but we accepted it willingly, and it was proposed to the Porte as an expedient which might probably have served to avert war. The Turkish Government again refused to avail themselves of that opportunity—acting, as I have always believed, and still believe, not so much from overrating their own resources, or underrating the dangers to which they would be liable, as from the conviction that, do what they would, war was sooner or later inevitable, and therefore they might as well have it at once. However, when that was done—when the Protocol was rejected—it was clear that our part was played out, and that we had no alternative left us, except either to take part in the war, or to assume a position of neutrality. And, practically, there was no option; for a course of neutrality was the only course which any Government could at that time have adopted consistently with the state of public feeling in this country. The noble Earl (the Earl of Feversham) has asked why we did not interfere when the Russians had crossed the Balkans, and tell them that they must not go beyond Adrianople. There were two reasons. In the first place, a declaration of that kind would have been a wide departure from the conditions of neutrality which we had announced; and, in the next place, if we had fixed on Adrianople, or any other point, as the limit of the Russian operations, the inevitable effect would have been that the Turkish Armies would have fallen back beyond that point, and we should have been compelled, whether we would or not, to have become parties to the war. I may mention in this connection that I have observed frequent criticisms on the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in not taking up the Russian terms of peace in the summer, and endeavouring to induce the Government of the Porte to accept them. My answer to that is, simply that no man is bound to attempt to do that which he knows on the face of it to be impossible. The 869 Russian Armies had at that time made no considerable progress; and very shortly after those terms were communicated to us there began that remarkable series of temporary successes which the Turkish forces obtained; and your Lordships may judge of what the feeling at that time was in Constantinople, by the fact that a Turkish official —whether then actually in office I do not know, but a man eminent in public life—expressed to foreign diplomatists his hope that if the Porte succeeded in conquering the Russian Province of Georgia, Europe would allow them to keep it. Your Lordships will judge whether a people in that state of mind were likely to accept a peace such as was proposed by Russia. As to the general position, every man sees and feels that the state of things contemplated in 1856 and 1871 is a state which has ceased to exist. We may take those Treaties as a point of departure. We may say that we consider them as still binding, until Europe has ratified new arrangements; but if we take them as the point of departure, it is, undoubtedly, with the intention of departing from them. Your Lordships will not expect me to enter upon the question of the coming Conference, or to say what will be the language or the conduct of England at that Conference; but one or two principles, I think, we may at once lay down. We wish the settlement to be a settlement in a European, and not in an exclusively Russian sense. We wish it to be one which, as far as circumstances allow, may have in it an element of durability. We wish it to be one also which, as far as circumstances admit, will hold the balance fairly between different races and creeds. But I should only be deceiving your Lordships if I were to hold out the hope that the Conference will have before it an easy task. We have six Governments to deal with; each has its own view of the settlement that would be most desirable; and most of these Governments look at the question not merely as it concerns the points immediately in dispute, but as its decision may operate on the general system of European politics; that circumstance creates a condition of things, which is of no common perplexity. We will do what is in our power to bring about a satisfactory result; but what the result will be, it would be 870 unwise in any man to attempt to predict.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
said, he wished the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, when the Russian Ambassador told him it was not the interest of Russia to interfere with the road of England to India, had asked him what he meant by the road to India. He should not be surprised if Russia felt that round the Cape was the best way for soldiers to go to India. That would not be so strange as that Englishmen should think that, because there existed a road at present to India through the Suez Canal, that, therefore, was and always must be the best road to India; when we knew that if Russia obtained all she wanted in Asia Minor, she might, in four or five years, construct a railway to India. We were not specially interested in Turkey in Europe, and Austria would take care that a powerful Bulgaria should not be established on her frontier. It had often been hinted to us that if we wanted Egypt, there would be no great objection to our taking it. Egypt was interesting to us financially, but the country itself was of comparatively little importance to us. The Suez Canal was, of course, important; but we did not want Egypt in order to safeguard the Suez Canal. That would be safeguarded as long as we held the sea. It was the interest of a great many people that England should acquire Egypt. Every enemy of England wished to see her acquire Egypt; because her doing so might bring her into collision with France. It had been said that Turkey in Europe, as a military Power, had ceased to exist. At the end of the Franco-German War it was said that Franco, as a central military Power, had ceased to exist. Whether Turkey had ceased to exist as a military Power we could not tell yet. France, in a few years had sprung up as strong, if not stronger, than ever, and nobody could deny that the bulk of the Turkish nation had shown themselves to be full of vigour, and possessed of great vitality.
said, that even at that hour and in a House so thin he had risen for a moment to place himself in the same line with the noble Duke who had spoken on the right (the Duke of Somerset) and his noble Friend who had just sat down (the Earl of Dunraven). They must have both convinced the 871 House that the noble Duke who opened the debate (the Duke of Argyll) had not represented the Opposition benches. As that noble Duke had gone away—without one remark upon the Motion he concluded with—it might not be appropriate to touch on anything which seemed inaccurate or contradictory in his picture of events since 1856. But, as regarded his general arraignment of the Ottoman Empire, he (Lord Campbell), at a proper time, would be disposed to meet it, both as regarded the engagements the Sublime Porte had entered into, the degree to which they had been acted on, and the persons who were really to be blamed for their imperfect execution. While listening to the noble Earl the Secretary of State that night, he (Lord Campbell) was forcibly reminded of the "destructive criticism of Treaties," which a year ago the noble Duke had imputed to him as a habit. The noble Earl appeared to be resolved that night to give the noble Duke a copious illustration of it. But he would not detain their Lordships. If it seemed to him a duty to bring any further views before the House previous to the Conference, he would attempt to do it in some other manner. Little as he concurred with the arguments of the noble Duke, had he been present to divide the House upon his Motion, he (Lord Campbell) would have been able to vote with him upon it.
§ House adjourned at Nine o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.