HL Deb 16 May 1879 vol 246 cc508-66

My Lords, the Notice I have given is a Notice of Motion, and the Motion which I now beg to make is for Copies of the latest Reports from Her Majesty's Consuls and from Her Majesty's Ambassador at the Porte upon the prospect of administrative reforms in the European and Asiatic Provinces of Turkey.

My Lords, when I placed this Notice on the Table of the House, I did it in the confident expectation that I should be able to congratulate Her Majesty's Government and your Lordships, when I addressed you to-night, on the execution, or, at least, upon evident steps being taken for the execution, of the 22nd Article of the Treaty of Berlin. I rejoice to say that in that expectation I have not been disappointed. My Lords, I attach no importance whatever to the change which has been made in the interpretation of that Article of the Treaty by the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I think, indeed, that it would have been bettor if the noble Marquess had admitted that the interpretation which he put upon that Treaty was not a perfectly natural one. No one, in my opinion, can road it without coming to the conclusion that it was intended that the evacuation of the Principalities by the Russian Army should be concluded by the 3rd of May; but, my Lords, as I have said, I attach no importance to the change which has been made in the interpretation of that Article. We have received accounts this morning through the public papers which I think make it plain that it is really the intention of the Russian Government to commence bonâ fide the evacuation of those Provinces, and I accept the solemn assurance which has been given to us by Her Majesty's Government that they fully expect that by the 3rd of August there will be no Russian soldier at this side of the Pruth. My Lords, I rejoice at that fact. No noble Lord opposite, no Member of Her Majesty's Government, can rejoice at it more than I do. It gives us at least a hope that the curtain is about to fall upon what has been a scene of terrible violence and bloodshed.

But, my Lords, that being so, the 3rd of May is unquestionably an epoch in this great Eastern Question. It appears to me that we have arrived at a time when it is possible to look back over nearly four years of negotiations and of war—and to estimate what has been lost and gained during that eventful time in the political history of this country. My Lords, in commercial life we all know there are times when men take stock of their proceedings. If noble Lords opposite should object to an illustration taken from commercial life, and should say—as perhaps they will—that we are no longer, under their rule, a nation of shopkeepers, but a nation of warriors, then I will say that even warriors, at the end of a campaign, look to the roll-call of the living and the dead, and that it is worth while to look to the history of those four years and to see what are the political ideas which have perished in the conflict, and what are the political opinions which still survive.

My Lords, the first thing I see in looking back over these four years is the immense Parliamentary success of Her Majesty's Government. I can assure noble Lords opposite that I am not inclined to underrate that success. On the contrary, I place it at its very highest value. Her Majesty's present Government came into Office with a majority not so strong, I think, as that which carried Sir Robert Peel into power in the famous Parliament of 1841—not so large as the late Government had on coming into Office—but still a majority that made them one of the most powerful Governments of recent times; and the striking fact is this—that that majority goes on increasing, and that, too, with especial reference to their conduct of foreign affairs. Every attack upon them has been successfully repulsed. I am, not now speaking, of course, of debates, for we all think we get the best of it in debates. I am speaking of actual Divisions as the test of Parliamentary success. Every attack upon the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government has been repulsed on Divisions. We have not been repulsed, indeed, by what is called a fire of precision; we have been beaten rather by a sort of Zulu rush. We have been mobbed. Our order has been broken, our camp has been taken, and we have been assegaied right and left. I do not know a more signal proof of the success of Her Majesty's Government in their foreign policy, so far as Parliament is concerned, than the fact that they have thrown out two of their most eminent Colleagues without the smallest effect upon their power. One of those Colleagues is a very highly-gifted Member of your Lordships' House, who conducted the Colonial affairs of the country for some time with much distinction (the Earl of Carnarvon); the other is my noble Friend who sits on the cross-Benches (the Earl of Derby), who, as all your Lordships will admit, is a man of great ability and power, and whose power and great ability are acknowledged not only by his own Party, but by all Parties in the country. Those two distinguished men have been thrown out of the Government, and that without any more effect upon the position of the Government as regards the foreign policy from which they dissented than if they had been two Junior Lords of the Treasury. I say, my Lords, that that is a very remarkable proof of the Parliamentary success of Her Majesty's Government; and it is one of the most striking facts connected with a review of the last four years.

But there is another circumstance which strikes me very much, and it is this—that the Members and adherents of the Government, although they have had this immense success, are by no means peaceful and contented in their minds. They ought to be overflowing with the milk of human kindness. They ought to treat us, their opponents, who have been so often beaten, with the utmost tenderness and courtesy. But, my Lords, there is not much proof of any such frame of mind in the language of the Government or of their supporters. On the contrary, their recent utterances appear to mo to have shown not only asperity to us, but a tone of positive mortification and disappointment. If, instead of being a triumphant Party, they were a defeated faction, the language of noble Lords opposite and of their supporters could not have been more full of wrath and anger than it has been. I will give your Lordships two examples of this—one contained in the language of a noble Lord, a Member of this House, whom I have now the honour to address, and who is the inheritor of a distinguished name (Earl Stanhope). There is a Society, it seems, including not a few Members of this House, which is called the Patriotic Society. It assumes that the Party to which it is allied possesses a monopoly of patriotism. Well, my Lords, on this Eastern Question I entertain strong opinions, and have not refrained from maintaining them in this House; but I have never said that patriotism is confined to this side of it. The members of this Patriotic Society, however, appear to think that their opponents are necessarily unpatriotic persons. Well, my Lords, the other day this wonderful Patriotic Society got up an Address to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, Sir Henry Layard. My Lords, I will not speak of the terms of that Address; but I find that, in spite of the tremendous successes to which I have referred, the noble Earl opposite, on behalf of this Society, spoke of the action taken by noble Lords on this side as the cries of faction and of jealous Party spirit; and the noble Earl added, speaking to Sir Henry Layard, that he had to uphold the honour and interests of England in the presence of people who could with some show of reason have insisted that this country had failed to fulfil the contract we had entered into on their behalf—in other words, that we had broken faith with the Turkish Government.

My Lords, I very much rejoice at this most frank confession. I have often said that the real object of many noble Lords opposite was to engage this country in a war in support of Turkey; and I rejoice to see that, on the authority of the Patriotic Society, a noble Earl, the inheritor of a most distinguished and illustrious name, has been frank enough to declare his opinion that England was guilty of a breach of contract in not having assisted the Turkish Government to maintain its oppressive rule over her Christian subjects. Well, but I pass from this Patriotic Society, and come to a noble Lord who is a Member of Her Majesty's Government. I remember two years ago, in the heat and hurry of debate, I was induced—unfortunately, I think—to use rather a rough expression with regard to the course taken by the noble Marquess, then the Secretary of State for India, now the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in going down to Manchester and making a speech to the cotton interest there, on which occasion he gave, I thought, some rather incautious promises. I said on that occasion that the noble Marquess had been "on the stump." I will not repeat that expression in reference to the speech delivered by the noble Marquess the other day, before the members of the Registration Society for the Conservatives of Middlesex; but if the noble Marquess will allow me, I will say that he has made what is sometimes called in the newspapers an "extra-Parliamentary utterance." Now, this extra-Parliamentary utterance does not show at all that serene and lofty spirit which I should have expected from a Member of a Government which has such a triumphant majority, and which has so easily beaten us in all our encounters. It is very true we have committed the great crime of differing from the noble Marquess; but I beg to remind him that it is legitimate in Parliament for the Opposition to differ from the Government; and really, con- sidering his success, I think he might have treated us with some decent courtesy, and observed the amenities of Parliamentary life. After all, in differing from the noble Marquess, we have not committed such a great crime. I have now been upwards of 30 years in public life, and I never knew a Minister more difficult to understand, or to follow. For instance, the other night, when he came down to the House to explain in dulcet tones the entire fulfilment of the Treaty of Berlin, he shone like the peaceful evening star. But sometimes he is like the red planet Mars; and occasionally he flames in the midnight sky, not only perplexing-nations, but perplexing his own nearest friends and followers. We have differed from the noble Marquess; but we have not differed from him more than he has differed from himself. We have differed from him no more than Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary at Constantinople has differed from the Foreign Minister, or than the author of the famous Circular on the Treaty of San Stefano has differed from the author of the secret Agreement with Count Schouvaloff. We have differed from him, it is true, but not more than the noble Marquess differed from himself when he denounced the study of small maps, and when afterwards he sat a humble disciple at the feet of those two great captains of Russophobia, Sir Henry Rawlinson and Sir Bartle Frere. My Lords, what does the noble Marquess—this great Minister with a triumphant majority, who ought to be able to speak of those who differ from him with courtesy and respect—what does he say? He says—"In a critical moment in the nation's life, when aggression on our interests"—that is, the interests of England—"seemed to be imminent, public men were found to come forward and maintain the interests of those by whom their country was threatened." This is very like the language of the Patriotic Society. I do not know whether the noble Marquess is a member of that Society; but his language reminds one of it. He distinctly accuses the Members of this House who venture to differ from him, not more than he has differed from himself, as being unpatriotic enough to assist the enemies of their country. That, I think, is not language which ought to be used by a Secretary of State. The noble Marquess went on to speak of certain public men, of whom I am one, as having described "sharp curves." My Lords, what does this mean? It means that Turkey having been given 20 years to reform, and having become worse instead of better, we have said that the experiment of 1856 has failed. The radius of our curve was 20 years; but the radius of the curves which have been described by the noble Marquess himself has been somewhere about three weeks or a month. I want to know what is the secret of all this angry and disappointed language? Cannot you enjoy your triumphs in peace? Why mangle the bodies of the dead like the Zulus? What is the secret of all this rancour? Do you think we are like the dry bones in the vision of Ezekiel—that we are likely to rise up soon an exceeding great army? Or is there another cause for it? Are you conscious that while your opinions have triumphed in Parliament, our opinions have triumphed in the world? Is this the secret of your dissatisfaction and of your mortified tone? I will try to assist you in searching into your own consciences. I want to know what you have accomplished with your great majorities, your ringing cheers, your Imperial perorations? What have you done for England and for the world—for the freedom of the East and for the limitation of the power of Russia? What has been the net result of your four years of triumph? Have you done what you intended to do, or is your pretext to the people of England in regard to the Treaty of Berlin one great political imposture?

My Lords, my first proposition is this—that looking back to the results—and my Motion has respect to results only—looking back to the results, so far as they have been attained, of these four years of negotiation and war, you have entirely failed in the objects which you had in view. What were these objects? Of course you will say, "the interests and honour of England." But these are our objects too. Still, I do not doubt that the interests and honour of England wore your objects. I have never said one word in this controversy, heated as it has been, nor should I allow myself to say one word, against the patriotism of noble Lords opposite. But we have our own opinions of what the interests and honour of England are; you have yours. It is fair that we should fight them out. But when we come to define what your objects were, you must not use the language and forms of speech which do well enough in perorations. You must come to business. Now, I ask you what were your objects? My definition of them is this—to retain, as far as you could, something substantial of the Turkish Empire, and to resist, as far as you could, any substantial gains to Russia. Well, my proposition is that you have failed in both these objects—entirely and absolutely failed. My Lords, the Treaty of Berlin—and let the people of this country understand it, for they do not understand it at present—the Treaty of Berlin is nothing but the Treaty of San Stefano with a few comparatively unimportant modifications. Under the Treaty of Berlin, of which you are so proud, Russia has recovered the Bess-arabian Provinces on the Danube; she has recovered Kars, which has been called the key of Turkish Armenia; she has gained, for the first time, a large slice of the Asiatic Provinces of Turkey; and, above all, she has gained the harbour of Batoum, which has been the object of Russian ambition for many and many a day. And what is the cumulative effect of these gains to Russia. My Lords, I will describe it in language which may possibly be familiar to the House, language which, though Russophobian in its character, still contains a good deal of truth— The compulsory alienation of Bessarabia from Roumania, the extension of Bulgaria to the shores of the Black Sea, which are principally inhabited by Mussulmans and Greeks, and the acquisition of the important harbour of Batoum, will," says the writer, "make the will of the Russian Government dominant over all the vicinity of the Black Sea. The acquisition of the strongholds of Armenia will place the population of that Province under the immediate influence of the Power that holds them; while the extensive European trade which now passes from Trebizond to Persia will, in consequence of the cessions in Kurdistan, be liable to be arrested at the pleasure of the Russian Government by the prohibitory barriers of their commercial system. These are the words, not of an opponent of the Government, but of the noble Marquess himself, in his celebrated Circular of the 1st of April, 1878. Of all these consequences, which have you averted? Every one of them stands exactly as he described them except this —that the Russian Frontier has been removed from the town of Bayazid, and from a certain valley (with a name not easily pronounced), which leaves the caravan route from Trebizond for the moment free. Does anyone think this makes any substantial alteration in the gain of Russia? It has given Russia a great slice of country and a mountain barrier behind which her Armies are perfectly safe; and, at the first moment of alarm, she can take that route which you professed to have saved. Another change which is presented to the people of England as a modification is that which relates to the port of Batoum. The Russian Representative said—"If you will concede that, we will express our intention to make it a free port;" and the noble Marquess and the noble Earl said, with effusive joy—"We are too delighted to accept the assurance of His Imperial Majesty; we think it makes the greatest possible difference in the case." I say, in the presence of noble Lords learned in International Law, that the assurance of the Emperor of Russia to make Batoum a free port does not prevent Russia from making it a fortified port, and from making it the head-quarters of the Russian Fleet which will command the Southern coasts of the Black Sea. This modification of the Treaty of San Stefano is nothing but a mere blind. By this Treaty of Berlin, of which you say you are the authors, and of which you are so proud, Russia has acquired a position in which you will very soon hear of Todleben being hard at work, and when the next war arises you will find it to be a powerful station of the Russian Fleet.

Well, but I pass from the direct gains of Russia, and I come to those which are indirect. You have always gone upon the principle that whatever is lost to Turkey is gained to Russia, and, under your management, that is perfectly true. I admit the principle, under your management; but I limit it to that. If Provinces had been taken from Turkey by your assistance, you might have done something to resist Russia; but the tendency of what you have done is to place power in the hands of Russia. What are the losses of Turkey? She has lost for ever her Danubian Frontier—the bank of that great historic river, her first line of defence, which has so often been the moans of resisting invasion. That has been abandoned for ever. It was an axiom, indeed, of the great Napoleon, that a great river could never prevent the passage of an invading Army; but the Danube, as a defence of Turkey, was re-inforced by a powerful Quadrilateral of fortresses, which are also gone for ever. Wonderful to say, such is the power of delusion which the Government have had over the people of this country that the clause in the Treaty which provides for the destruction of the Danubian fortresses is looked upon as if it were a clause which redounded to their honour, and which they were anxious to see carried into effect. The noble Marquess, the other night, spoke of the destruction of these fortresses in such a way as to produce an impression in the House and out-of-doors that it was a provision in the interest of Turkey and against the interest of Russia. This clause about the Danubian fortresses is taken directly from the Treaty of San Stefano; and so anxious were the Russians about the razing of these fortifications that it was provided for in two separate Articles of the Treaty of San Stefano, with this condition added—that no new fortresses were to be raised on the banks of the Danube. Can there be a clearer proof that this clause in the Treaty of Berlin was inserted in the interests of Russia, and that your anxiety to see it fulfilled is one that will be heartily seconded by the Russian Emperor? These were two of the great losses of Turkey, and, consequently, under your management, two of the gains of Russia. The Danubian Frontier is gone, and these great fortresses—one of which, Silistria, in the hands of the British during the War of 1856, resisted successfully the Russian invasion—are gone for ever. Another gain to Russia and loss to Turkey is the extension of Servia and the erection of a new Principality, the constitution of which in its very essence is hostile to the Turkish Government. Occupying the Danubian Frontier, the new Bulgaria will now have on the West the enlarged country and population of Servia intimately connected with it in common interest, and certain to make common cause with it in any future contest with the Turks. These two conterminous Provinces give the power of entrance into the very heart of Turkey. Bulgaria, in the pos- session of Sofia, turns the Balkans on that side; Servia, by her increased territory, gives an entrance into the very heart of the Roumelian Province of Turkey; and these are the provisions of the Treaty of Berlin, which, according to you, have saved Turkey and have resisted Russia.

But this is by no means all. When the noble Earl and the noble Marquess were returning in triumph from Berlin, among the pseans of their supporters, they published a wonderful Blue Book—Parliamentary Paper, No. 37, 1878—which consisted of one page—a map showing "the territory restored to Turkey." It was like the advertisement of a second-rate theatre—"Immense success! Triumphant success of the Government in the territory restored to Turkey!" With this interesting map there were only two lines of letterpress, which informed us that all Bulgaria contained only 17,000 square miles taken from Turkey together with the fortresses, while, on the other hand, no less than 30,000 square miles had been restored to Turkey. It sounds very fine; but let us inquire into the facts. Of the 30,000 square miles boasted of as restored to Turkey, a large part consists of Eastern Roumelia; and in what sense is that restored to Turkey? The Governor must not be a Turk; but, by the Law of Europe, by the Treaty of Berlin, he must be a Christian. Let us understand the significance of this distinction in the East of Europe. Christians and Mahomedans, Hindoos and Christians, can, and do, live together in peace and amity under the British Government and under the Russian Government; but you cannot get a Turkish population to live under Christian rule, or a Christian population to live under Turkish rule in the East of Europe. One has been too long accustomed to absolute rule, and the other to the evils of that rule. It was perfectly right to say that the Governor must not be a Turk—but that moans that the authority of that Government is for ever separated from the authority of Turkey. Then, the Sultan is not oven free to choose the Christian who is to be Governor; he cannnot nominate him except with the consent of the Powers; and that is not all, but the internal government is taken from the Sultan and, under the guarantee of Europe, the Province is to enjoy autonomous institutions. The principle of the Treaty is, that the people of Eastern Roumelia should be entitled to their complete autonomy in all internal affairs. It is, then, a mere quibble to say that in the full sense of the words this Province has been restored to Turkey. But even that is not all. The Sultan is not even to be allowed to put any troops within the territory except on the Frontier. The Militia is to be Native; and we know, from the ordinary sources of information, that the Mussulman population to a large extent have left the Province. Therefore, I say that in no proper sense of the words has this part of the 30,000 square miles of territory been restored to Turkey. You call it the direct government of the Sultan; but there never was a form of words more delusive. Now observe, my Lords, I am not now assuming you are going to fail in securing the execution of the Treaty of Berlin; on the contrary, I am supposing you will succeed in executing the whole of that Treaty—that you will succeed in carrying into effect the whole of its intentions; but what is the result? Can you really pretend to the people of this country that, under these circumstances and conditions, the 12,000 or 15,000 square miles of Eastern Roumelia out of the 30,000 square miles you profess to have restored to Turkey can in any sense of the words be said to have been so restored? I say, practically, that Province is withdrawn from Turkey; and I say, further, that, under your management, its influence has been added to that of Russia. One of the most wonderful sayings attributed to the noble Marquess—I do not know whether correctly or not—in his speech the other day to the Registration Society, to which I have already adverted, was when he enlightened the Conservative electors of the City of London by actually using this illustration—he said, setting aside details into which he would not enter, that the relations between Eastern Roumelia and the Sultan will be very much like the relations between the British Colonies and the Queen. I am about to visit the greatest of our Dependencies—the Dominion of Canada—and I shall be curious to learn whether the people there recognize this new doctrine in political philosophy, that the relations between Canada and the Queen are very much the same as the relations which have been established under the Treaty of Berlin, between the people of Eastern Roumelia and the Grand Turk.

But I go further. Setting aside Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia, is it really true that the rest of the territory has been restored to Turkey? Not a bit of it. The Treaty of San Stefano stipulated, in the 15th Article, that Turkey should no longer be independent, even in its most purely internal affairs. It stipulated that Turkey should give political institutions to all her European Provinces similar to those of Crete, which, practically, involve considerable independence. Under the Treaty of San Stefano, therefore, the whole of Turkey was put under promise to Russia, and to the other Powers behind Russia, that certain privileges should be given to every one of the populations. That was a stipulation in the Treaty of San Stefano which made Russia the mistress of Turkey. "What have you done with that? Have you thrown that out? Not a bit of it. You have adopted it in your Treaty of Berlin. You have put Turkey under a promise to all the Powers, for the whole of the rest of her territory, that she shall give Constitutions similar to that of Crete, and you retain in your own hands the power of judging whether she has or has not fulfilled that obligation. I say, under these circumstances, you have restored no part to Turkey. You have followed slavishly the Treaty of San Stefano. You have adopted all its main Articles, and by these Articles you have made Turkey a subject Power.

But, perhaps, it may be said—"It is very true we have adopted the provisions of the Treaty of San Stefano, but we could not help ourselves, and Turkey is now for the first time under Treaty obligations in regard to its most internal affairs; but, at least, we have substituted Europe instead of Russia." That would be a very fail-answer if it were true; but it is not true. Under the Treaty of Paris of 1856, it is true that something like an Europe was constituted separate from the individual Powers; but under the Treaty of Berlin there is no Europe. What you have done is this—you have added your right to coerce Turkey to the right which Russia had already acquired for herself; but you have not constituted any joint authority. The Treaty of Paris provided that recourse was to be had to the United Powers before any one of them went to war with Turkey. You made no such provision. Under the Treaty of Berlin each and all the Powers have their separate rights of direct recourse against Turkey; and they may claim the fulfilment of the promise made not to Europe only, but to each and all the Powers. And, what is more, I believe the noble Marquess was a special opponent of a provision which was suggested by Russia that there should be some machinery for carrying into effect the intentions of the European Powers. The noble Marquess resisted this—on what ground I never could really understand—but, whatever his ground, the effect is this—that each and all the Powers have, severally and separately, their recourse against Turkey in case of quarrel. Now, under these circumstances, I maintain that the Treaty of Berlin in all essential respects—so far as the independence of Turkey is concerned—is nothing but a copy, with slight, comparatively unimportant, and sometimes mischievous, modifications of the Treaty of San Stefano. Well then, perhaps, the noble Marquess may say—"But then we have the Asiatic Convention." I must say, in regard to this Asiatic Convention, that I never did feel the objection to it which I have felt to many other parts of the policy of Her Majesty's Government. It had, at least, this great advantage—that it confessed it to be quite wrong and impolitic to guarantee to Turkey any part of her Dominions without a corresponding promise of reform. It gave up the doctrine of the patriots in this country that it was for the interests and honour of England to maintain the Turkish Government, whether it reformed itself or not. It admitted the principle that if we guaranteed Turkey in her territory she was bound to assure us of good government. The only objection I had to it was that it was impossible to execute it. But look at the bearing of the conduct of the Government as to this Convention. I have already referred to the importance of the harbour of Batoum. If any one thing is certain in regard to this Eastern Question, it is this—that if England had chosen to insist, she might have prevented Russia acquiring Batoum. We had our Fleet—a very powerful one; Turkey also had a Fleet of considerable power, under the command of a dis- tinguished English officer; while Russia has no Fleet in the Black Sea; and it certainly would not have been impossible to prevent Russia acquiring Batoum, if we had employed our Fleet and the Turkish Fleet to prevent it. But the Government came to the conclusion that it was not for the interest or honour of England to go to war with Russia to prevent her getting the harbour of Batoum. The noble Marquess, in a speech the other day, said they gave up many things for the sake of peace. By all means—it was quite right to give up Batoum for the sake of peace. But you, who declined to go to war for the harbour of Batoum, took revenge on future Governments by a Convention which compels future Governments to go to war with Russia if she acquire a single scrap more of territory in Asia Minor. Conceive the rashness of that transaction. You exercised your own freedom, and I think wisely, in determining not to go to war even to prevent the most important acquisitions being made by Russia on the shores of the Black Sea; but you determined as far as you could to impair and hamper the freedom of future Governments of England, and to compel your country, very possibly under most disastrous circumstances, to go to war with Russia if she should make any future acquisition even round the slopes of Ararat. Is this a foreign policy of spirit and dignity?—is this a brave foreign policy? It seems to me a foreign policy founded on, and essentially involving, a conspicuous example of political cowardice. You have no right to revenge yourselves on posterity for the rebuff you have received in submitting to Russia. You ought to have left the hands of the future English Governments as free as they were before; and I cannot conceive any Convention made by an English Government less worthy of them than this Convention, which you know you cannot execute, but which will be a serious embarrassment to those who come after you.

My Lords, I have not yet done with this wonderful Treaty of Berlin. It leaves Russia in full possession of the enormous subsidy which was imposed upon Turkey by the Treaty of San Stefano. That subsidy amounts to something like £50,000,000. "Oh!" you said, "we have taken care that this engagement to Russia shall not be a prior obligation." Prior to what? It may not be prior as regards other creditors—that may be true; but it is prior to many other important purposes on which Turkish Revenues ought to be employed for the improvement of the government and the happiness of the people. Russia may not be before other creditors, but she is before the Native population of Turkey. The noble Marquess came down the other day and told us that the reforms in Turkey depended upon the finances of Turkey; and so they do. But how does this apply as regards the subsidy? Why, Russia is enabled to checkmate the reforms of Turkey. Then look at it from another point of view. Look at the power it gives to Russia over Turkey. Are you sure, since the complete subjection of Turkey to the political domination of each and all of the Powers, that Russia will have no access to the Porte which is closed to you? Russia has nothing to do but, with a wink of the eye in the Palace of the Sultan, to say—"We shall not insist this year upon more than half the interest, provided you do so-and-so," and it will be done. Depend upon it, this subsidy is an instrument in the hands of Russia which she will know how to use. I am not inclined to blame the Government for every departure from the Treaty of Berlin. What I said before I repeat—that there would be no loss of honour or of credit, but the contrary, if the Government should agree to the modification of that part of the Treaty of Berlin which related to the garrisoning of the Balkans. The noble Marquess told us the other day, if I understood him rightly, that this clause was not compulsory, but permissive—that it was in the power of the Sultan to put those garrisons in; but it was not in the power of the Sultan to bar his right to do so if he liked. But what does this come to? The Sultan might do it, or not do it; but he could not bargain his right away. But by a private agreement with Russia he could bargain to abstain from the exercise of his right, and I believe he would be wise to do so. I believe these hostile garrisons in the midst of a hostile population will be no real gain to Turkey; and I hope if the Government comes to that conclusion, in concert with the other Powers of Europe, that it will not insist on that Article of the Treaty.

There is only one other part of the arrangements made by the Government to which I wish to refer, and that is the Convention with regard to Cyprus. Just before the announcement was made of the acquisition of Cyprus I had been reading a very interesting work, not of a political character, on the Island of Cyprus, by the American Consul, Mr. Cesnola. It contained an account of the antiquities of Cyprus; but, incidentally, and entirely without reference to political affairs, it mentioned circumstances which gave a most horrible idea of the misgovernment of the Island under certain Pashas. The author added to the innumerable proofs we have already had from independent sources of the corrupt character of the Government of Turkey. Therefore, I must confess, when I heard of the acquisition of Cyprus by England, I was very much disposed to say—"Well, at least, here is one more corner of this fair world redeemed from the Government of Turkey." And as I did not see much harm in it, it was one of the arrangements made by the Government in which I was inclined to acquiesce. But, as a means of resisting Russia, it was a bad joke, and worse than a bad joke. It was a mere bait. It is true that great nations like great landowners have sometimes such a desire for territory that they are ever eager to acquire more. The noble Marquess and the noble Earl knew their countrymen, and they took them in their weak point. The rejoicings in the country and the Press at this acquisition of Cyprus reminded me very much of the joy that some Member of your Lordships' House, with 200,000 or 300,000 acres, might experience when he heard that his agent had bought some old woman's cabbage garden.

I turn now to sum up the results of what you have done. The first result I apprehend is that Turkey is gone—gone for ever. The noble Earl at the head of the Government said, I believe, a year and a-half ago, that great Powers might exist with the loss of Provinces—that England had lost Provinces, and why should not Turkey lose them. But Turkey has lost more than Provinces—she has lost that which is essential to Empire, she has lost her independence. Do not deceive yourselves with fine phrases—Turkey as an Empire is dead and gone. The next result from the conduct of the Government is that the future of Turkey is left in complete confusion, with the most dangerous liabilities to this country. I do not know whether many of your Lordships realize this fact—at least I believe it to be a fact—that besides the clauses of the Treaty of Berlin which are taken verbatim or substantially from the Treaty of San Stefano—and these are the most important and most operative clauses—it must be held that all the rest of the Treaty of San Stefano which is not affected by the Treaty of Berlin survives as between Russia and Turkey. [The Marquess of SALISBURY dissented.] The noble Marquess shakes his head; but I have seen a despatch from himself in which he says we have no right to interfere with regard to the subsidy, because it was part of the Treaty of San Stefano, and did not contravene the Treaty of Berlin or the general law of Europe. Therefore, I have a right to infer that those parts of the Treaty which are not against the general law of Europe and the Treaty of Berlin remain intact. Then there is another point, and that is the identification of the interests of the populations of the South-East of Europe with Russian interests. That I regard as a far more formidable result of the policy of Her Majesty's Government. It was an important question whether the new Principalities should or should not be independent of Russia. I maintain that the identification of the feelings of the population of those Principalities with Russia has been due mainly to your conduct. Have your Lordships read the account of the last day's proceedings of the late Bulgarian Assembly? The name of England was never mentioned; all the enthusiasm of the day was for the Czar. The cheers were all for the Russian Army, and the Russian Emperor was treated as the Liberator of the country—which, indeed, he has been. All the gratitude of the country is given to Russia. My Lords, look at the actual results under the operation of this Treaty? Who has been elected Prince? The nephew of the Empress of Russia. Do you think there is no meaning in that act? You may regret it, but you cannot help it. By the large portion of the public which has been supporting you and egging you on, and which has given you your great majority in Parliament, that will be considered a significant fact. And you and your agents are still busy at work teaching the Christian populations that their only safety lies in clinging to Russia. At the beginning of my speech I referred to an address of the Patriotic Society. How does Sir Henry Layard reply to it? Why, he indulges in unmitigated abuse of the Bulgarians. The Government of England are pledged to support this new Principality, in regard to which our Ambassador uses this language— However bad the Turkish Government may have been, it was a controlling body. You have now established a Bulgarian Nationality, which, I fear, will be far worse than the Turks. Now, I do not say whether that is true or untrue; but is that the kind of language which you ought to encourage on the part of the Ambassador of England? Sir Henry Layard is an old personal friend of mine. I have received kindness at his hands, and I admire the ability and the energy of his character; but—and I say this painfully as a public duty—a man who goes back to Constantinople at this time to see to the execution of a Treaty which provides for this new Nationality violates in a grave manner his public duty when, being the Representative of England, he tells us that the Bulgarian Nationality will be worse than the Turks. Well, I sum up the results in Europe by saying this:—That with this Treaty of Berlin, which is a pale copy of the Treaty of San Stefano, we can afford to smile at your Parliamentary victories and to laugh at our own defeats. It was our desire-—at least, it was mine—that Turkey, as an Empire in Europe, should be destroyed. You have done that; or, rather, Russia has done it for you, and you have not ventured to interfere. You have given your sanction, because you could not help it, to all the main provisions of the Treaty of San Stefano, which reduce Turkey to a dependent State. I am not dissatisfied. Like a man who looks at some great savage beast which has received its death-wound, but which is still capable of mischief, I say—"Hold back! Do not sacrifice another life by putting him out of his pain. Internal bleeding will do the rest. Let him alone to die." As regards the flourish of the Government, when they returned from Berlin saying that they brought back "Peace with Honour," it seems to me that it was "Retreat with Boasting."

My Lords, if I had not taken a prominent part in this question, and been responsible for discussions on it out-of-doors, I should have shrunk from the labour which I have undertaken tonight; but I feel I should be guilty of shirking a public duty if, having said a good deal out of this House, I were to flinch from submitting my opinions to the test of discussion, and to the fire of debate. I have still, therefore, to deal with results in Asia. On the subject of the War in Afghanistan the noble Earl at the head of the Government made an appeal to me last night to which I wish most heartily to respond. In looking back at these four years, there is no part of the Eastern Question on which the Government has been more loyally supported, and on which they have had a more triumphant majority in this House. I am not at all surprised at that. It seems to be perfectly natural in the circumstances. This House was not consulted until it was too late, and many noble Lords on both sides said to themselves—"Here is the Government committed to a war. It is too late for us to interfere, and we must, in the circumstances, support the Government." I perfectly understand the motive under which the majority voted; but we must look back a little to what was done before. I am not talking of the results which are still in the future, but of things which have been done, and which cannot now be undone. I wish the House to remember that the history of the Afghanistan Question is distinctly divided into two separate parts. First, there was the diplomatic quarrel which ended in April, 1877; and then there was the subsequent quarrel with respect to the Russian Mission, which was the more immediate occasion of the war. I wish to make a few observations respecting the diplomatic quarrel which ended in April, 1877, and as to which Parliament was never informed. It was kept a profound secret from both Houses of Parliament—studiously kept secret. The first result which I find in the conduct of the Government is this. They have made a most offensive imputation against the Mahomedan subjects of the Queen. It is very singular that in all the public discussions of this question that I have seen the point to which I am now referring has hardly been noticed. The whole quarrel with Afghanistan arose out of the determination of the noble Marquess that we should have Englishmen, and not Mahomedans, as our Agents in Afghanistan. There was no quarrel with the Ameer about Native Agents. He would have had as many Mahomedan Agents as you like. "No," said the noble Marquess, "we cannot trust these Native gentlemen; their accounts are so incomplete, and I doubt whether they are perfectly faithful. We must have Englishmen." And that was the cause of the quarrel. I myself have had the honour of being Secretary of State for India, and I deprecate the mischief likely to arise from the doctrine that we cannot trust the Native Mahomedan gentlemen in India even to give us correct and faithful information. I believe it to be entirely untrue and unjust. I believe that the Native gentleman who was our Agent at Cabul for many years, and who was chosen by my noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Northbrook) as a gentleman of ability and high honour, was as honest and as upright a man as regards information as any English gentleman you could get. Indeed, Lord Lytton himself was obliged to compliment him, at a later stage of the proceedings, on the conduct he pursued. I believe that this diplomatic quarrel—which, be it remembered, led ultimately to the war, on the sole ground that the Ameer would not receive British officers—was a cruel and unjust charge against the Mahomedan gentlemen who are subjects of the Queen.

There is another result which I am very sorry to have to mention, but which I feel bound to mention, and I shall be very glad to have a satisfactory answer from the Government. It is one result of the conduct of the Government in this Afghanistan Question that it can be said, with too much truth, that the Government of India had shuffled with its public engagements. I maintain that by the 7th clause of the Treaty of 1857, entered into with Dost Mahomed, the father of Shere Ali, we were bound not to press British officers upon him. The rest of the Treaty was more or less temporary, but that was a surviving clause. Lord Lytton himself, after some attempts at evasion, was obliged to confess it; and I say that the diplomatic pressure which you placed on the Ameer was a direct violation of the 7th clause of that Treaty. Then, there is another consequence which I think is a very serious one, and that is, the most injurious and invidious distinction which has been made between Treaty obligations and obligations under solemn promises of the Viceroys of India. In India we are dealing with half-civilized peoples, to whom the forms of European diplomacy are not familiar. Many of our obligations rest upon the words of Viceroys and Governors General; and the distinction made by Lord Lytton between Treaty obligations and obligations under the solemn promises of Lord Mayo, Lord Lawrence, and Lord North-brook, was a distinction most injurious to the honour of the British Crown.

There is yet another result of your proceedings in the East. It is that the British Government has been found to be capable, and the Secretary of State for India to be capable, of something very like double-dealing in negotiation. That is a very serious charge. I quite admit that; and unless I am able to give chapter and verse for this accusation, I shall certainly retract it. If the noble Marquess can prove that I am mistaken, I shall publicly withdraw it. But I think it my duty to say here, and in his presence, what I have said elsewhere in regard to his conduct in this negotiation. I can put in a nutshell what I have to say upon it. The late Ameer, Shere Ali, made two demands upon the British Government in 1869 through Lord Mayo—the one was for a dynastic guarantee in favour of the succession of his son, Abdoolah Jan, and the other was for a military guarantee, irrespective of conditions, against invasion from Russia or any other Power. The policy of Lord Mayo at that time, and the policy of Mr. Gladstone's Cabinet, was simply this—to tell the Ameer, Shere Ali, openly—"We cannot give you that dynastic guarantee. We cannot give you that military guarantee." My complaint against the noble Marquess is this—that he said—"We can give you this guarantee;" and then that he set about by ingenious devices to keep that freedom in the hands of the Government which he professed to give away. That is my charge, and I found it on the Instructions sent by the noble Marquess on February 28, 1877. Just let me read to the House the account which the noble Marquess gives of that dynastic guarantee. We know that what the Ameer wanted was that the boy Abdoolah Jan, the son of his favourite wife, should be guaranteed by the British Government as his successor over the head of Yakoob Khan, his older and abler son. Lord Mayo said—"We cannot give you that guarantee." What did the noble Marquess say? He said that former Governors General and former Governments had been guilty of using "ambiguous formulæ" to the Ameer, and no wonder the poor man had been disappointed. We will give a guarantee for the succession of Abdoolah Jan. The noble Marquess then addressed private and secret Instructions to Lord Lytton—Instructions so secret and so private that they were actually, by a most unconstitutional exercise of power, withheld from the Council of India. The noble Marquess gave to the Governor General personally—not in Council, the Constitutional form—these secret Instructions; and here is what he says about this dynastic guarantee— The frank recognition of a de facto order of succession established by a de facto Government to the Throne of a foreign State does not, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, imply or necessitate any intervention in the internal affairs of that State."—[Afghanistan, No. 1 (1878), p. 158.] That is to say, Lord Lytton was to pretend to give a guarantee for the boy Abdoolah Jan; but he was privately instructed that it need not, and did not, involve any intervention in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.


asked where the term "dynastic guarantee" occurred.


The words "dynastic guarantee" I do not use as a quotation, but as a descriptive phrase; I use it as a description of what was meant. What the Ameer wanted was a guarantee for the succession of this boy. What the noble Marquess directed Lord Lytton to do was to offer a British guarantee, which was to look like what the Ameer wanted, but with a private explanation that it did not involve any interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. That, I think, is not a fair way of dealing. But this is not all. Look at the military guarantee. The noble Marquess instructed Lord Lytton to go as far as he could in giving the guarantee which the Ameer wanted against invasion by Russia or any other Power; but he distinctly said to Lord Lytton—"You must keep in the hands of the British Government the freedom which we must always keep to judge of the times and the circumstances under which we are to help the Ameer." Why, that is exactly what we said, and in consistency with that we said, "We cannot give you either of these guarantees." The noble Marquess, on the contrary, went about devising means by which, consistently with keeping his freedom, he should appear to give the promises required by the Ameer. The result was a systematic endeavour to represent to the Ameer that he was being offered something wholly different from that which we were really proposing to give him. Accordingly, in the interview which took place between Lord Lytton and Atta Mahomed, our Agent at the Court of Cabul, the Viceroy told Atta Mahomed distinctly that he was authorized by the British Government to give the Ameer Shero Ali that which he had asked in 1869; and, at a later period, Atta Mahomed was again told to inform that unfortunate Prince that we were willing now to give him all that Lord Mayo and Lord Northbrook had refused. When Lord Lytton gave that assurance three times, he had in his possession documents which proved that what he was then offering was wholly different from what the Ameer had asked for. And what did Lord Lytton himself say? After all these conferences were over—after the Ameer had seen through all your pretexts, and had refused your pretended boons Lord Lytton wrote home to the Government from India, in a despatch of the 10th of May, 1877, that, after all, he had offered to the Ameer nothing but what Lord Mayo had already given. I say that unless these facts can be refuted by the Government they justify the imputation which I have made against them. My point is shortly this—that while pretending to give what we (the late Government) had refused, you carefully reserved to yourselves the very freedom which was necessarily inconsistent with the giving such a guarantee.

There is one other result of your proceedings in regard to Afghanistan to which I also allude with very great regret. It is not one for which the noble Marquess has any personal responsi- bility, except that the Government to which he belongs has sanctioned the proceedings of Lord Lytton. I know very well the difficulty of throwing overboard, especially in the face of an Opposition, a Governor General whom you yourselves appointed, and to whom you gave secret Instructions such as those to which I have referred. But I am sorry to say that one consequence of these transactions is that in personal conferences with the Princes of India they can no longer trust that a Viceroy will treat them with common fairness, or will quote their arguments with a decent regard to accuracy. I will not weary the House with the details which I might quote in support of this assertion; but I may say that I never go back to those conferences at Peshawur between Sir Lewis Pelly and the late Noor Mahomed without a feeling of shame and humiliation. We have all the fairness, all the dignity, and all the truth on the side of the Mahomedan and the Afghan, and we have everything that is the opposite to these on the side of the Englishman and the Christian. My Lords, depend upon it that, whatever may be the result of your negotiations with Yakoob Khan, it will remain indelibly fixed in the history of India that the Ameer Shere Ali had only too good cause to say that he had now a deep-rooted distrust of the good faith and sincerity of the British Government.

I have one other consequence of this policy to bring before the House, and it has nothing to do with personalities. ["Hear, hear!"] I am glad to have that cheer. I ask noble Lords in candour to say whether they think that the way in which negotiations are conducted by Secretaries of State and by Viceroys with foreign Princes is a matter of a purely personal nature? Do Secretaries of State and Viceroys not represent the Crown; and is it a matter of personal interest only that the Crown should not be perfectly straightforward in its dealings? I deny the inference to be drawn from those cheers that we have no right to enter into these matters. They are matters of grave public interest.

Another consequence, and I think a most dangerous consequence, of the conduct of the Government in respect to Afghanistan is that you are willing to saddle the people of India with the coat of wars which, by your own confession, are not required for their protection. I say "by your own confession," because, when you withdrew your Agent from Cabul secretly and without telling Parliament, knowing that you were not entitled to go to war, you fell back on the doctrine which we have always maintained on this side of the House, that our position in India was so secure that it was quite unnecessary to be alarmed about the state of Afghanistan. Our military Frontier was so strong that we could afford to watch and wait. This was our doctrine. Your doctrine was the opposite—that our Frontier was bad, and our position dangerous. But what did you say when the Ameer defeated you in negotiations, and when you did not dare to go to war for the enforcement of your demands? You said—"We will watch and wait. We will not go to war with the Ameer because he will not receive an Envoy. We are confident in our position." In a conversation on October 10, 1876, Lord Lytton said to our Agent, Atta Mahomed— As matters now stand, the British Government is able to pour an overwhelming Force into Afghanistan, either for the protection of the Ameer, or the vindication of its own interests, long- before a single Russian soldier could reach Cabul. And he illustrated this statement by Detailed reference to the statistics of the Russian Military Force in Central Asia, and the British Military Force in India, showing the available troops of either Power within certain distances of Cabul."—[Afghanistan, No. 1,1878, p. 183.] Observe what a careful statement this is. And what does Lord Lytton say in the despatch of May 10, 1877? He says, the further course of Cabul politics We cannot foresee, and do not attempt to predict. But we await its natural development with increased confidence in the complete freedom and paramount strength of our own position."—[Ibid., 172.] Hero is a confession, on the part of the Government of India, that our position was one of "paramount strength," so that we could afford to be indifferent to the conduct of the Ameer. Well, that was our doctrine. Since the subsequent war arose out of the Russian Mission—which was a mere blister put to your side in consequence of your conduct in Europe—you have no right to saddle the people of India with the expenses of that war. It is a war, by your own confession, not necessary to their defence. I will not go into the somewhat intricate subject of Indian finance; but I will venture to say this—that if there ever was a time when it was most of all unjust to burden the people of India in such a way, it is when the Indian finances are in such a critical state as they are now. We all know the enormous additional burdens which are now imposed by the loss through exchange and by successive Famines. The Government of India has been obliged to impose additional taxation for a Famine Fund. To charge the expense of this war upon the people of India is, therefore, not only inexpedient, but most unjust. It will be a lasting result of your policy that the people of India will be afraid of your casting upon them the cost of all your anti-Russian passions and panics. I do not want to say anything about the future on account of my promise to the noble Earl (the Earl of Beaconsfield); but I believe no possible settlement of the Afghan Question can fail to increase the military cost of our Indian Empire. I should be very glad if I could say anything to support the Government in their immediate object of establishing peace with Yakoob Khan. I have no hesitation in saying that if Yakoob Khan is wise he will agree to almost any reasonable conditions. He is a child in our hands. But the facility with which Afghanistan has been overrun is a proof of the truth of our arguments, and not of yours. It shows that we were able to do it at any moment.

The noble Earl at the head of the Government, in a speech at the beginning of the December Session—which I deeply regret I could not be present to hear—condemned, in a very eloquent passage, what he called the "peace-at-any-price" Party. My Lords, my withers are un-wrung. I am not one of those who are in favour of peace at any price, and I hope I shall not say anything that will be shocking to the House when I say something about my own feeling with regard to war. It seems to me that on all sides there is a certain amount of insincerity in the language too often used on this subject. When we speak of a war which we approve we talk of its glories. When we speak of a war of which we disapprove we talk of its horrors. Can we not be honest with ourselves on this matter? Can we not admit that war is—not seldom, but very often—by far the least of two evils? I see no signs of the Millennium. Europe is ringing with the tramp of armed men. Men of science are devoting all their time to the invention of some new weapon of destruction. I see no dawning of the day when nations shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks. War—dear as are all the lives it sacrifices, many as are the hearts it breaks—war is a necessary evil. I do not blame the Government for having armed the country. What I do blame it for is for having armed it at the wrong time and in a wrong cause. In the earlier stages of this Eastern Question, when I think a firm attitude and a few firm words of England might have saved the world from untold horrors, this Government was no better than a respectable Committee of the Society of Friends, with all its helplessness, but without its principles. I understand the policy of my noble Friend on the cross-Benches (the Earl of Derby). It had its own reasonableness; and, if it had been pursued with consistency, even its own amount of dignity. You might have said, as he said to Turkey—"You have been delinquent and refused to reform, and we leave you to your fate. We will provide for British interests, and nothing else." What I blame the Government for is this—that after they knew British interests would be respected by the Emperor of Russia, they armed the country and very nearly went to war; and the effect was this—that England armed, or appeared to arm, for the sole purpose of resisting the extension of freedom to the Christians in the East of Europe. You have alienated them, and you have failed in supporting Turkey, or in resisting Russia. The consciousness of this is telling on your temper. My Lords, I understand the rancour of the language to which I referred at the beginning of my speech. I understand the mortification with which, in spite of all your Parliamentary triumphs, you look back upon the Treaty of Berlin, which, as I have said, is little more than the Treaty of San Stefano. My Lords, you are beginning to be found out. The people of this country—or at least that portion of the country on which you have relied—are beginning to see that you have not obtained for them what they expected. It is not we, the Members of the Opposition, who are accusing you. Time is your great accuser; the course of events is summing up the case against you. What have you to say—I shall wait to hear—what have you to say why you should not receive an adverse verdict at the hands of your country, as you certainly will be called up for judgment at the bar of history?


My Lords, you are aware, and the noble Duke has just reminded you, that at this moment the Ameer of Afghanistan is a self-invited but honoured guest in the English camp, with the avowed object of negotiating a Treaty of peace and friendship with the Queen of England. I must say that, under those circumstances, when I heard of the intended Motion of the noble Duke, and that he was going to call the attention of the House to the results of our foreign policy in Europe and Asia, I think I had some reason yesterday to remind him of that state of affairs to which I have referred, and to leave it with confidence to his discretion—as I left it then—to observe a statesmanlike silence in the circumstances now existing. My Lords, I have been deeply disappointed in these expectations. At this very moment, when such questions as those to which he has referred—such, for example, as the appointment of a European Resident in the cities of that Sovereign—when such questions are still under consideration, are at this very moment the subject of negotiations, the noble Duke has thought it proper, referring, as he said, only to the past, to treat these subjects in a manner—and in a manner which in the present conditions of communication may in 24 hours be known in those parts—which certainly may gravely affect the carriage of those negotiations. When I consider these circumstances—when I remember the position of the noble Duke—a man so eminent for his ability and exalted in his position, a man who has more than once been the trusted counsellor of his Sovereign—when I see such a man come forward with a criticism which I will not call malevolent, but which certainly was envenomed, attacking the policy of the Government, which at this moment must be being weighed and scanned with the most intense interest abroad—I must say that I am astonished. My Parliamentary experience has not been little; but, certainly, in the course of that experience, I remember no similar instance of a person placed in so high a position adopting, under similar circumstances, the course which the noble Duke has thought it right to take. For the reasons which I gave yesterday, I shall certainly not follow the noble Duke into the subject to which he has referred. My noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury), when he addresses your Lordships, will find that, although for the moment he may have to sacrifice the gratification of vindicating his personal honour, there are still some matters with respect to Afghanistan to which the noble Duke has referred to which it is necessary for him to allude. I, however, shall not touch upon them. Unfortunately for us, and, perhaps, still more unfortunately for the noble Duke himself, he was not present at those debates in reference to Afghanistan which took place in this House. Those of your Lordships who were present at those debates can scarcely accept as accurate the picture which the noble Duke drew of those discussions. Your Lordships have been told by the noble Duke that you wore obliged to consent to a hurried Vote, moved by Her Majesty's Government, who had already committed this country to a certain policy with regard to Afghanistan, without having consulted Parliament. Tour Lordships will recollect that, on the contrary, the subject of the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in reference to Afghanistan was discussed for three nights in this House; and that when, with your indulgence, it fell to my duty to wind up the debate upon that occasion—and that after our policy had been criticized and assailed for three nights—I proved, by the production of a despatch written by the late Viceroy of India, that if the distinguished Leaders of the Opposition had been in Office, they would have pursued exactly the same policy which we conceived and which we had the courage to pursue. The result of that debate was that when the matter came to a Division, one of the largest majorities we have ever had in this House sealed with its confidence and its approbation the conduct of Her Majesty's Government.

My Lords, I will endeavour to follow the noble Duke through the subjects which he dealt with in the order in which he introduced them. The noble Duke, as some compensation for the attack which he made upon our Indian policy, commenced his address by congratulating us. The noble Duke congratulated us upon the great fact that, in part fulfilment of the Treaty of Berlin, the evacuation of Bulgaria and Roumania had been commenced. The noble Duke, in congratulating us on that circumstance, said that it was true, at the same time, that the version which he now gave of the obligatory provision in the Treaty of Berlin respecting the evacuation of those Provinces was not that which we had originally given of it, still that the fact that the evacuation had commenced was so satisfactory that he must congratulate us upon our success in bringing about an agreement under which Russia was to be allowed three more months in which to complete the evacuation. I cannot accept the compliments of the noble Duke. I have always placed upon the 22nd clause of the Treaty of Berlin the same interpretation which I understand the Government of Russia now does. My noble Friend and myself, who have worked together in these transactions, have, I believe, never differed upon any single point in reference to the Treaty except this—I certainly understood that when nine mouths were appointed for the occupation of those Provinces by the Military Forces of Russia, that period should not include the time allowed for the evacuation of them, which was to commence at the termination of that period of nine months. Occupation and evacuation are different things, and if the evacuation were to be commenced within the nine months the period of the occupation would be proportionately shortened. But holding, as I do, that view of the subject, that is no reason why we should agree to an unreasonable length of time being taken in conducting the evacuation of those Provinces, or to anything affecting the fulfilment of the Treaty. The noble Duke treated, as a matter of course, and as a subject upon which there could be no possible difference of opinion, that Her Majesty's Government have agreed to extend the time for the evacuation of those Provinces to the 3rd of August. There is not the slightest authority for any statement of the kind. What we are bound by is the view now taken by the majority of the Signataries of the Berlin Treaty, to the effect that the evacuation is to commence on the 3rd of May; and it is to be completed within a reasonable time—which may be computed in weeks rather than months, but, at all events, in a moderate time, as compared with the statement which the noble Duke has made. Therefore, the noble Duke, who prides himself upon his memory, has actually complimented Her Majesty's Government upon a circumstance which, if correct, would have been a disgrace to them.


I used the words of the noble Marquess himself, when I mentioned the 3rd of August.


I certainly never said that the Russians had a right to protract the evacuation for three months.


The noble Duke then goes on to complain very much of the manner in which he and his Colleagues and Friends have been treated, not in, but out of this House, and, in so doing, he exhibited that sensitiveness which I have already more than once observed is peculiar to the present Opposition. On this point, I did not think that the evidenee of the noble Duke was adequate to the occasion. He quoted an extract from a speech of my noble Friend, and he also quoted from the anonymous correspondent of an unknown Society, the name of which I did not catch. But, my Lords, when a subject of this character is brought before your Lordships on a solemn occasion, are charges such as these of the noble Duke to be alleged as charges against Her Majesty's Government? I do not myself much care what people say about me, and I have not much time to make remarks about others; but, certainly, some distinguished Members of Her Majesty's Opposition have appeared in different parts of the country, and, by the elaborate expositions they have made, seem to have spared no time in the preparation of their attacks upon Her Majesty's Government. Upon that subject I will say nothing further than this—I make no charge against either of the two noble Lords the Leaders of the Opposition in either House of Parliament. Their conduct has at all times, throughout the critical four years to which the noble Duke has drawn attention, been such as was to be expected from gentlemen and distinguished statesmen who felt the responsibilities of their position. That, however, cannot be said of all the Members, nor even of all the distinguished Members, of the Party. Although I shall notice nothing of a merely personal nature, I must say that it is much to be regretted that, after so solemn an act as the Treaty of Berlin, of which we have heard so much already to-night, and of which I must myself say something, had been executed—after so solemn an act, and when united Europe had agreed to look upon that Treaty as some assurance for the maintenance of peace and for the general welfare of the world, that certain Members of the Opposition should—not once, or twice, or thrice, but month after month—habitually declare to the world that the Treaty was utterly impracticable, and have used such external influence as they might possess, to neutralize its action, and throw every obstacle and impediment in the way of carrying it into practical effect. Look at the probable result of such action. If statesmen such as these have pledged then-opinion over and over again that a Treaty is impracticable, and they after become responsible Ministers, they will be called upon by those who do not wish the Treaty to be fulfilled to carry their opinions into effect.

"Then," says the noble Duke, "I come now to business. You have negotiated a Treaty, but what have you done for Turkey?" And the noble Duke for a considerable time—for more than half-an-hour—made an impassioned appeal to the House, with a view of showing us what ought to have been done for Turkey. From a Minister responsible, I believe, for the Crimean War, such a speech might have been expected—and, in fact, the strongest part of the oration of the noble Duke was an impassioned argument in favour of going to war with Russia in order to preserve the settlement made at the end of the Crimean War. "Well," says the noble Duke, "What have you done? See the losses to Turkey which you have brought about. There is Batoum, a most valuable harbour, which, whatever may be the engagement they have made by the Treaty of Berlin, will be fortified by the Russians. Do you mean to say, if you had acted with sufficient vigour with your great Meet in the Black Sea, aided by the powerful Meet of Turkey, that you could not have prevented Russia taking Batoum?" Well, no doubt, we could have prevented Russia taking Batoum, as we prevented Russia taking Constantinople. But the point is this—is the noble Duke prepared, or was he prepared, to go to war to prevent Russia taking Batoum—a port which, with derision, the noble Duke describes as one which Russia has made a free port, and with that we, the English Plenipotentiaries, were satisfied. But the noble Duke quite forgot to say that it was not only made by the Treaty of Berlin a free port, but a port essentially commercial—words which have some meaning, and which the Signataries of the Treaty of Berlin will always remember. The noble Duke says, also—"I can see what will happen in Batoum. It will be a free port, but a fortified one. It will be a strong place, and will control the commerce of Persia." But all this was said long before even the Crimean War-—all this was said of the Treaties of 1828 with regard to the harbour of Poti. The very same expression was used, and England was warned that, by obtaining the harbour of Poti, Russia had obtained such a commanding position that the Black Sea would be entirely at her mercy. The noble Duke quite forgot to tell us this—that under the Treaty of Berlin the finest port in the Black Sea, the port of Burgas, was restored to the Sultan. This the noble Duke, who is so candid, omitted to bring to your Lordships' recollection. "Well," then says the noble Duke, "how can you reconcile yourselves to the fact that you have agreed to the destruction of the Danubian fortresses—that Quadrilateral of the East which would have commanded the Danube?" One would suppose, from the way in which the noble Duke had spoken to-night, that there had never been any war between Russia and Turkey—one would suppose that Turkey had never been utterly vanquished, and that the Armies of Russia had never been at the gates of Constantinople. All must be arranged as the noble Duke would have arranged it upon this Table. Surely the claims of Russia were something. Russia, whether right or wrong, had to be con- sidered. However we might approve or disapprove the casus belli and the policy of the war, whatever differences of opinion there might be upon these and similar points, no one could deny for a moment that Russia had completely vanquished Turkey; and to suppose, in these circumstances, that everything was to be left exactly in the same position as at the beginning of the war is an assumption which I think your Lordships will agree is not a very reasonable one. But look at the merits of the case. These fortresses, under the new disposition of territory, would have become Bulgarian fortresses, our policy being to maintain the Turkish Empire—a policy, allow me in passing to remind your Lordships, which is universal in Europe, because every one of the Great Powers who have signed the Treaty of Berlin agreed in this one point—that there was no substitute for the Turkish Power, and that that Power, though it might be reduced, should still be substantially maintained. Were we, then, to leave in the now Bulgarian State this powerful Quadrilateral to menace the Turks and to weaken their authority? Why, of course not. "But," says the noble Duke, "the proposal to destroy these fortresses was made by the Russians themselves." It matters little, but I believe the noble Duke is inaccurate in that respect. The proposal to destroy the fortresses of the Quadrilateral was not a new one. It had been made on previous occasions, and it was always put forward by Russia herself as a concession, and in order to show that the Russians themselves did not wish to obtain these powerful strongholds. Then, says the noble Duke—"You have by the Treaty of Berlin, which is but a revised edition of the Treaty of San Stefano, established Servia as an independent State, and increased its territory!" But the situation of Servia before the war with reference to its connection with the Porte was one of virtual independence. The Porte certainly was the Suzerain, and possessed a claim to a very small tribute—in reality a nominal one, for it was never paid. To pretend that the public acknowledgment of the independence of Servia was a great blow to the Turkish Power, which it was our policy to maintain, is really trifling with so serious a subject as that which is now before your Lordships. Fourthly, the noble Duke says that of all the mockeries by which we have deluded the people, who are, according to him, so easily deceived, the greatest mockery is the arrangement made concerning Roumelia. The Sultan, according to the noble Duke, has no more to do with Roumelia than he has with Roumania itself, and he compares its position with that of the Turkish Power when she was permitted to occupy the fortress of Belgrade. But the noble Duke forgets the fact that, by the Treaty of Berlin, the political and military authority of the Sultan in Roumelia is not only asserted, but secured. It is not simply that he has the right—a right which, no doubt, he will find an opportunity as early as possible of exercising—of occupying the Balkan chain; nor is it simply that he has the power of occupying Burgas, the most important port in the Black Sea. Although we have secured autonomy for Roumelia, and although she has got the blessing of a scheme of local government, which I trust will soon be tried, and which apparently—so far as I can judge—is admirably adapted to the circumstances of the case, the political and military authority of the Sultan is not only asserted, but secured. The noble Duke says that Roumelia is to have a Militia and Gendarmerie of her own; but he forgot to state the conditions, in accordance with which, all the officers of the Militia and Gendarmerie must be appointed by the Sultan, and hold their commissions from him. Well, these are the different points by which the noble Duke has endeavoured to show that, as regards the settlement of Berlin, the interests of Turkey and of the Sultan have been neglected and injured by Her Majesty's Government. My Lords, when the noble Duke first gave his Notice, his intention was to call the attention of the House to the results of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government in Europe and Asia. Well, yesterday, we heard from the noble Duke that he would confine himself to the past and not trench upon the future. But how you are to judge of a policy, if you are not to treat of the future which is to be the result of that policy, I really find some difficulty in comprehending. If the noble Duke will allow me to say so, when he talks of a "policy," policy depends, of course, upon the circumstances to which the conduct of responsible men is applied. Let us take a larger and more candid view than the noble Duke has taken of those important matters of four years' duration in the East. What led to this Treaty of Berlin? It was four years ago, the noble Duke reminds us, when certain disorders first arose among the border populations of Turkey in Europe. After months of disorder, during which there were communications between the Powers, there came the famous instrument called the Andrassy Note. That was in December, 1875, and was the commencement of these diplomatic campaigns and wars. I am sure your Lordships do not wish to hear much about the Andrassy Note; but I believe the noble Duke has completely misapprehended the whole situation—the conduct of Her Majesty's Government, and the principles on which their policy was established. The Andrassy Note was a very elaborate mode of ameliorating the subject-populations in European Turkey. Well, the first feeling of Her Majesty's Government was not to accept that Note. They remembered their engagements under the Treaty of Paris, and, they know the danger which might occur from again disturbing the settlement then made. But, my Lords, when we investigated that document, we found really that the Porte was not called upon to make any concession or to enter into any engagement which they had not by previous irades themselves undertaken to concede and to act upon. Well, it is possible that our fear of contributing to the disturbances in Europe might have prevented our even then acceding to that Note. It was at the solicitation of the Porte itself, when it heard that there was a possibility of England holding out, that we ultimately acceded. I believe, my Lords, that after the Andrassy Note there was a bonâ fide attempt on the part of the Porte to meet the difficulties of the case. But, consider what was the condition of affairs at that moment. Those disturbances were in the Border Provinces of the Turkish Dominion in Europe; the Central power was wonderfully relaxed; the Provincial administration was incompetent and corrupt; the Chiefs in the mountain districts were always at civil war and plundering all their neighbours who did not resist them; and in this state of affairs it was thought some decided action should be taken; and after a few months a proposition was made in the form of the famous Berlin Memorandum, which if we had agreed to, we should have joined the other Powers in making war upon Turkey. We refused to do that; and Parliament and the country entirely sanctioned our declining to accept the Berlin Memorandum, My Lords, almost simultaneously with the introduction of the Berlin Memorandum there occurred the assassination of the European Consuls at Salonica. Soon afterwards there came a revolution in Constantinople, the deposition of the Sovereign by force, and other circumstances of the most painful nature, which I need not recall to the recollection of your Lordships. Well, after this came the Bulgarian insurrection; and after that the Servian declaration of war against Turkey, which ended in the complete defeat of Servia by Turkey. Then what did Her Majesty's Government do? It was at that time, when Russia, having interfered, in consequence of the prostrate state of Servia, with her Ultimatum, and by her menace forced Turkey to make peace, or grant an armistice equivalent to peace, with Servia—it was then that Her Majesty's Government came forward with a proposition which became celebrated, and that was to establish autonomy in those Provinces which had been so long the scone and theatre of this reckless mis-government. And then the noble Duke says that our conduct has been such that we have necessarily lost the affections and confidence of the then subject-races of Turkey. My Lords, it was my noble Friend on the cross-Benches (the Earl of Derby) who had the honour of making these distinct propositions with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina which were ultimately to be applied to Bulgaria. And let me remind the noble Duke, who speaks of us as on all occasions neglecting the interests and not sympathizing with the fortunes of the Christian races, that we were the first Government that laid down the principle that the chief remedy for this miserable state of affairs was the introduction of a large system of self-government, and, above all, of the principle of civil and religious liberty.

My Lords, I am obliged, on an occasion like the present, to very much curtail remarks which I would wish to place before you; but it is necessary, after the speech of the noble Duke, that I should remove impressions which are absolutely unfounded—that I should recall to your recollection what are the principles on which the policy of Her Majesty's Government is founded, and show your Lordships that the noble Duke has entirely mistaken that policy. He has—unintentionally—placed before you a description of affairs utterly unreal, imputed to us motives which we never acknowledged, and conduct and feelings towards others which we never shared. Now, has there been any inconsistency in our policy? When war between Russia and Turkey was so imminent that it was a question of hours, my noble Friend upon the cross-Benches (the Earl of Derby) proposed that there should be a Conference at Constantinople, at which my noble Friend near me (the Marquess of Salisbury) should be our Plenipotentiary. Has the noble Duke, who studies these matters—who not only makes long speeches, but writes long books about them—has the noble Duke ever heard, or has he forgotten, the Instructions given to my noble Friend near me by my noble Friend on the cross-Benches—Instructions as to the course he was to pursue at the Conference at Constantinople? I cannot, my Lords, venture to refer to those Instructions which lie before me at any length; but I may remind you of some of their salient points. In one paragraph my noble Friend was instructed that it became requisite, in the then crises, to take steps, by an agreement between the Powers, for the establishment of reform in the Turkish Provinces which would combine the elective principle with external guarantees for efficient administration. Then the means are indicated by which that state of things might be brought about. Well, my Lords, that is but a specimen to show the purport of those Instructions, which completely mastered the application of the principle of autonomy; and no Government in Europe at this Conference was so ready, so prepared, or so practical in its propositions by which the welfare of the subject-races and a general reform of the administration of Turkey could be effected as was the Government of England, so represented at the Conference by my noble Friend. And yet the noble Duke comes down here and makes an inflammatory harangue, and speaks of the deplorable consequences which he fears will arise—that we have lost for ever the confidence and affection of the subject-races of Turkey by our utter disregard of their feelings and neglect of their interests. Why, my Lords, if I were to read to you this Minute of my noble Friend near me of the proposition which he himself made as regards Montenegro, Servia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bulgaria, and the reforms that might be established in all the Provinces of Turkey, you would see that at the Conference of Constantinople he endeavoured to have carried into effect, as much as he possibly could, the policy we had laid down, both in the Instructions given to my noble Friend, and in the propositions for establishing autonomy in Bosnia and the Herzegovina which were made by my noble Friend on the cross-Benches some months before. Well, my Lords, you know very well what occurred. We failed—not England only—but Europe failed in preventing war. Our objects were two-fold. We wished to maintain Turkey as an independent political State. That was the common opinion of Europe. It is very easy to talk of the Ottoman Power being at the point of extinction; but when you come practically to examine the question, there is no living statesman who has ever offered, or pretended to offer, any practical solution of the difficulties which would occur if the Ottoman Empire were to fall to pieces. One result would probably be along and general war; and that alone, I think, is a sufficient reason for endeavouring to maintain as a State the Ottoman Empire. But, while holding as a principle that the Ottoman Empire must be maintained, we have always been of opinion, and held it as a principle of English policy, that the only way to strengthen it was to improve the condition of its subjects. My Lords, I do not say this out of vague philanthropy, or any of that wild sentimentalism which is vomited in society which is sometimes called political. No,' my Lords, it was our conviction that that was the only means by which the maintenance of the Ottoman Empire could be secured; and we have acted accordingly. Until the war commenced we consistently endeavoured—first, to prevent war, and, secondly, to ameliorate the condition of the subject-races of the Porte; and when the war took place, we determined that when peace was negotiated it should not be negotiated without the knowledge and sanction of Great Britain. We are told, my Lords, that the Treaty of Berlin did nothing for the Sultan. Looking to the first object of our policy—which was the maintenance of the Sultan—let me show what our signature to the Treaty of Berlin produced as regards the political position. Bulgaria was confined to the North of the Balkans, instead of the arrangement that was made under the Treaty of San Stefano; Thrace, Macedonia, and the littoral of the Ægean were restored to the Sultan; the Slav Principalities of Servia and Montenegro were restricted within reasonable limits; the disturbed districts of Bosnia and Herzegovina were placed under the administration of Austria, which was thus offered as a barrier to Slav aggression; and Eastern Roumelia was created with an organic Statute which, if wisely accepted by the people of that Province, ought to make them one of the most prosperous communities in the world.

The noble Duke tells us that the Treaty of Berlin is a political imposture, and that we are found out. Let me place before your Lordships very briefly what was the state of affairs effected, by the Treaty of San Stefano, and what was the state of affairs effected by the Treaty of Berlin—remembering that the noble Duke dinned into our ears that the Treaty of Berlin was but a copy of the Treaty of San Stefano. At the time the Treaty of San Stefano was signed the Russian Armies were at the gates of Constantinople. They occupied the greater part of the East and North of European Turkey. A vast Slav State was to stretch from the Danube to the Ægean shores, extending inwards from Salonica to the mountains of Albania—a State which, when formed, would have crushed the Greek population, exterminated the Mussulmans, and exercised over the celebrated Straits that have so long been the scene of political interest the baneful and inevitable influence of the Slavs. That was the state of affairs when the Treaty of San Stefano was signed; and the British Government, with great difficulty, but with equal determination, succeeded in having that Treaty submitted to the consideration of a Congress—the Congress of Berlin. And what were the results of that Congress? I have placed before your Lordships the main features of the settlement of San Stefano. Let me now place before your Lordships what were the results of the Treaty of Berlin. In the first place, the Russian Armies quitted their menacing position at the gates of Constantinople. That City, notwithstanding many promises, was not entered. The Russian Armies gradually retired, and at last quitted Adrianople and all that district, and they are now evacuating Bulgaria and Roumelia in consequence of the Treaty of Berlin. Bulgaria itself, by the Treaty of Berlin, becomes a Vassal and tributary Province of the Porte. Eastern Roumelia becomes a Province governed by an organic Statute which secures local representation, provincial administration, civil and religious liberty, and many other conditions and arrangements which it would be wearisome now to enter into, but which some day, and shortly, I am sure your Lordships will read with interest. The condition of Crete was very unsatisfactory and perplexing, but it was met by an organic Statute which has the sympathy of the whole population. Montenegro, by the Treaty of Berlin, got that accession of territory which really was necessary to its existence, and that access to the sea which was necessary to its prosperity. Servia obtained independence by fulfilling the conditions of the Congress of Berlin—that the independence of no new State should be acknowledged which did not secure the principles of religious liberty in its constitution; and Roumania also would have been equally acknowledged, had not difficulties arisen on that subject; which, however, will be overcome, I have reason to believe, and which certainly England, and no doubt the other Signataries of the Treaty of Berlin, will endeavour to overcome. "Well, my Lords, I think, after that, it cannot be said that the Treaty of Berlin is a mere copy of the Treaty of San Stefano. I think, after that, it cannot be denied that it is one of those great public Instruments which, in all probability, will influence the life of Europe, and possibly have an even more extended influence for a considerable time. I look upon it as an Instrument which has in it that principle of evolution which we hear of in other matters equally interesting. I believe it will not only effect the reforms which it has immediately in view, but that it will ultimately tend to the general welfare of mankind. The noble Duke laughs at the idea of our effecting any beneficial change in the administration of Asia Minor. Well, my Lords, there is nothing difficult or great that is not laughed at in the beginning. The noble Duke is not the man whom I should have thought would have discredited the attempt that is making. But nothing has been done in this direction, says the noble Duke. Well, in the first place, if the noble Duke supposes that the regeneration of Asia Minor is to be like the occupation of Bulgaria, an affair of nine months, he entertains views of Oriental life and character which I venture to deny. But are there are no symptoms of change, and change for the better, even in Asia Minor? I think the fact that an eminent statesman like Midhat Pasha has been recalled from exile and appointed Governor of Syria—the first Governor appointed for a term of years which cannot be capriciously reduced—is one on which we may congratulate ourselves; and I have reason to believe that the influence of that statesman on his Government is not slight. We must also remember that, under the Treaty of Berlin, there are a variety of Commissioners of Demarcation settling the boundaries of the different States and Provinces, and so carrying out a work of inestimable value. That, also, is being accomplished in consequence of that Treaty. The noble Duke has, through his attack on the Government, made a warlike speech. He has told Turkey that she has in us an Ally on whom she cannot depend. He has told Russia that she has only to pursue her policy of aggression, and that it will be accepted by the English Government. And, as far as I can understand him, the noble Duke does not treat with any disapprobation the policy of Russia in that respect. Now, I wish to speak in another tone, but a sincere one, in regard to Russia. I think I can, as an English Minister, appeal with pride on behalf of my Colleagues and myself to the fact that those great results in regard to the policy which we recommended were, perhaps, not uninfluenced by the presence of a magnificent British Fleet in Eastern waters, and by the firm I tone in which Her Majesty's Government communicated with St. Petersburg. Notwithstanding, I willingly acknowledge there has been, on the part of Russia, a spirit of wise forbearance, and I believe that she is sincerely anxious to bring about in that part of the world which has been the scene of all these disasters and distressing circumstances a state of affairs which, not only for her own sake, but for the sake of all, we should assist her in bringing about. My Lords, I feel I have trespassed on your attention; but the noble Duke made so serious and so elaborate a charge upon the Government that it was impossible for me to be silent. I have not, perhaps, said many things I ought to have said, and I may have said some things which I ought not to have said; but this I know—the noble Duke says we are a most powerful Government; but, says he, "If you are a most powerful Government, it is only because you are powerful in Parliament." Well, that is a state of affairs which it is not very easy to parallel in the history of this country. I know that in Opposition men indulge in dreams. I have had experience of Opposition, and I hope it has left me, it may be a wiser even if a sadder man. I know that there are mirages that rise up before the political eye which are extremely delightful and equally deceptive; and I say, knowing of what materials the Parliament of England is formed, knowing whom I address now, and knowing who sit in the other House, where I was once their companion, I cannot but believe that the large majorities which the noble Duke has dwelt upon have been accorded to the present Government because it was believed they were a Government resolved to maintain the fame and strength of England.


said, that in whatever way the Conference of Constantinople was looked at, it must be admitted to be a failure, and that the result had been to put a weapon in the hands of Russia. We should have found some common mode of action in regard to the affairs of Eastern Europe and Asia; instead of which, the policy of Her Majesty's Government had placed in the hands of Russia to carry into effect the resolutions of the Conference of Constantinople. He had always maintained that we should never have gone into the Conference unless we were prepared to insist upon the Sultan carrying out what the European Powers desired. But we did nothing of the kind. We left the execution of our resolutions to Russia, and so strengthened the hands of her enemy. The noble Earl the Prime Minister had accused the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) of advocating a warlike policy; but, as he understood the noble Duke, his meaning was this—there was one of two courses open; either they must pursue the policy of the Crimean War, and support the Ottoman Empire against its enemies by force—or they must recognize the fact that, after a long trial, the Crimean War policy had broken down, and some other means must be taken to secure, if possible, their interests in the East. Noble Lords on that side of the House had also been accused of favouring the projects of Russia. On the contrary, they did not take into consideration what were the interests of Russia—the only question they looked to was what was for the interests of this country, and how they could best be maintained; and what they complained of was, that Her Majesty's Government, after laying down certain principles, had allowed Russia to carry them into effect; and in the name of those principles Russia had used force, and had weakened the Ottoman Empire by the course she had adopted. The British Fleet was ostensibly sent to the Bosphorus for the protection of British subjects, and it might possibly have strengthened the Turks in their determination to resist Russia, but he did not think it produced any effect on the situation beyond, perhaps, causing embarrassment to this country. He differed from the noble Earl in regarding the erection of Servia into an independent State as a trifling matter. Servia represented a considerable nationality and great interests in that part of Europe; and although the complete independence of Servia might not diminish the direct resources of the Porte, it dealt a moral blow at the position of the Ottoman Empire, and it enabled the new State to negotiate directly with foreign Powers. No one could deny the importance of the change made by erecting Bulgaria into a semi-independent Principality. No doubt, now that Bulgaria was practically independent, it was an advantage to the Porte that the Bulgarian fortresses should be razed; but it was fallacious to look at the action of one particular period. What his noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll) had done was, by looking at the general results of the war and of our policy, to compare the position of the Ottoman Empire when these great transactions commenced with the position in which it was now. The noble Earl had referred to Roumelia, and stated that it remained under "the direct political and military authority" of the Sultan. This was, no doubt, the phrase used in the Treaty, but it was no more than a mere phrase, and the Plenipotentiaries must have laughed in their sleeves when they wrote it down. What was this direct political and military authority of the Sultan? It consisted in this—that the Governor General was to be a Christian appointed by the Porte, but with the assent of the Powers. That was the "direct political authority" of the Sultan—his direct authority was limited by the assent of the Powers. Then as to the direct military authority of the Sultan, the Porte was not to interfere in the military administration of the Province, except at the invitation of the Christian Governor General. He believed they would be very fortunate if they had not provided in these Articles a new source of anxiety, perplexity, and danger to the Porte. Bosnia and Herzegovina were taken away from the Porte: how could that be considered an advantage to Turkey?


said, he had not represented that as an advantage to Turkey, but that the arrangement made with Austria was satisfactory to Turkey, and that was an advantageous arrangement for which they were indebted to the Treaty of Berlin.


said, he regarded it as a source of satisfaction that Austria had advanced in that direction; but, looking at the whole result to the Ottoman Empire, no one could doubt that the severance of this large Province was a misfortune to Turkey. It was said that in Asia Minor there was a prospect of considerable reforms being effected; but the noble Earl said they could not be effected in the short period of nine months. It was not a question of nine months—there had been a period of 20 years since the Treaty of Paris, and during that 20 years not only had no progress been made, but there was unmistakable evidence of retrogression. They had now given a new guarantee of Turkish territory, stipulating that it should be accompanied by reform of the Turkish administration. He utterly disbelieved in such reforms being effected. They might be talked about or negotiated about, but he did not believe in their execution. Let their Lordships observe our position under the Article which provided for reforms in Armenia. The Porte was periodically to make known the measures taken in the way of reform to the Powers, who were to superintend their execution. Were the measures taken to prevent the aggression of Russia to be jointly superintended by Russia and ourselves? Russia was entitled, jointly with us, to superintend the reforms to be made. That was one of the most extraordinary stipulations he had ever heard of in any Treaty. He had no expectation whatever that the Treaty would be carried into effect—the thing could not be done—but he looked with apprehension to the position which this country would occupy hereafter when the Treaty was a dead letter. That position would not be an honourable one. His noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll) had said that he saw no reason to be dissatisfied, on the whole, with the results of the Treaty of Berlin. But what did his noble Friend mean? He meant that the results of the Treaty, so far from being what the Government had put forward for the admiration of Europe and the gratitude of this country—namely, the preservation of the independence and integrity of Turkey—had, on the contrary, been in the direction indicated by the opponents of their policy. They (the Opposition) did not wish that Russia should put her foot on the neck of Turkey—what they did wish was, that Her Majesty's Government with Russia should so co-operate in promoting the happiness of the populations as to secure the gratitude of the Christian States which would succeed to the Ottoman Empire.


My Lords, I should have preferred not to make any observations in this debate, and I do not know that I need trouble you at any length, for I think that to the least practised Member of your Lord- ships' House it will be obvious that, in the speech which he has made, the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) was only flogging a dead horse. I must say, however, that I look with some alarm on the precedent the noble Duke has set. If every distinguished Member of this House who spends his winter on the shores of the Mediterranean thinks himself entitled to make, when he comes back, all the speeches he would have made had he remained at home, I fear the time left at our disposal will be very limited. My Lords, the noble Duke commenced by saying that his sensitive nerves had been much afflicted by the bad language which noble Lords sitting on these front Benches have used, and dwelt upon the language which he thinks they ought to use—and then he proceeded to give an example of it. After rebuking us for the harsh nature of the remarks that some of us have addressed to him, he said that we had "duped the English people;" that we had been "guilty of political misdemeanours;" that we had been "guilty of political cowardice;" that we have been "shuffling with our public engagements," and "double-dealing with the Native Princes;" and that, compared with us, the Native Princes, Hindoo and Mahomedan, were fair-dealing and truth-telling people. I think, after that catalogue of flowers of oratory, we are still in debt, and that if the balance is to be struck there is still a large amount of bad language due from this side of the House to the other. Indeed, if we take into account all that has been said, not by irresponsible Members of the other House, but by Members of weight and position—Members of the late Government—I think there will be a perfect bankruptcy on our side. I am not going to attempt to make up the deficiency. I acknowledge that we are greatly in debt, and I feel that it would be impossible for me in that respect to compete with the noble Duke; but I would wish to justify in the calmest language I can command my observation that the noble Duke did execute '' a very sharp curve" in the autumn of 1876. More than once the noble Duke has, in this House, represented that the Crimean War was undertaken with a view to give Turkey, more than 20 years ago, an opportunity of reform. I remember the debates at that period—it is rather hard work, but I have refreshed my memory on the subject, and examining the speeches of the noble Duke, who was then a responsible Minister, and those of Lord Palmerston, as well as those of other leading men, I cannot find a trace of the theory that the Crimean War was undertaken for the purpose of giving time for Turkey to reform. It was undertaken for the purpose—for the sole purpose—of repelling the aggressions of Russia on the Ottoman Empire.


I have never stated that it was undertaken for the purpose of giving Turkey time to reform. I said that Turkey had had that time to reform.


When the Tripartite Treaty, so definite and distinct in its provisions, was concluded which bound England, in conjunction with Austria and Prance, to defend the independence and integrity of Turkey, no hint was given that it was to depend upon Turkey progressing in the path of reform. On the contrary, that idea about the reform of Turkey was introduced, apologetically as it were, to calm the apprehensions of Mr. Cobden and to soothe the nerves of Mr. Milner Gibson, but was never held out as the object of the Crimean War. But I will cite a Member of the Government at that time, who was responsible for the Crimean War, and who will, least of all, be suspected of bellicose instincts. Mr. Gladstone said— With respect to the objects for which the war had been undertaken, it appears to me that my right hon. Friend has quite misunderstood them in the construction which he gives to the terms 'independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire,' and to the guarantee of that independence. I apprehend, what we sought to secure by the war was not the settlement of any question regarding the internal government of Turkey.… The juxtaposition of a people professing the Mahomedan religion with a rising Christian population having adverse and conflicting influences presents difficulties which are not to be overcome by certain diplomatists at certain hours and in certain places. It will be the work and care of many generations—if even then they were successful—to bring that state of things to a happy and prosperous conclusion. But there was another danger—the danger of the encroachment upon, and the absorption of, Turkey by Russia, which would bring.…. such a danger to the peace, liberties, and privileges of all Europe—that we were called upon absolutely to resist by all the means in our power."—[3 Hansard, cxlii. 95–6.] That was the language of Mr. Gladstone in 1856. There was no talk then of "bag and baggage." But what I wish to insist upon is this—that those Ministers who were responsible for maintaining the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire by war maintained that policy through the 14 years that elapsed up to the time when the Franco-German War broke out, and they were called upon to examine the results of the Crimean War and the work of 1856. They then confirmed deliberately everything done and stipulated in 1856 without a single word about these reforms of Turkish institutions which, five years later, seemed to them so all-important. The noble Duke said it was the business of the Opposition to oppose. Of opposition in this House I should not complain; but what was the history of the year 1876? In June, 1876, if one of those dictionaries of contemporaries, which are published now-a-days, had occasion to describe the opinions of the noble Duke, it would have said that he was one of the authors of the Crimean War, the object of which was to defend the independence and integrity of Turkey against the designs of Russia: and that so far he had not altered his opinions. That was the case up to June, 1876; there was scarcely a hint given, either by him or by Mr. Gladstone, of any modification of opinion until Parliament separated. But when Parliament separated, and it was no longer possible to summon it, then arose that tremendous "Bulgarian Atrocity "agitation, which was dictated, I fully believe, as regards those who were, in the first instance, responsible for it, by the purest and most unmixed feeling of philanthropy and humanity. But what was done by the Opposition of that day is something unique in our history. At the moment when this country seemed threatened by a foreign Power, and when it was impossible to ascertain by a Constitutional test what the opinion of the country was, they produced a false impression of that opinion by plunging the country into a tremendous agitation by which they tried, without success, to wrest the control of foreign affairs from the hands of Her Majesty's Government, and, unfortunately, with more success, to impress upon foreign Powers the conviction that the policy of the Crimean War was abandoned and that England would witness the destruction of Turkey unmoved. Mr. Fox was deeply blamed because he sympathized with and supported those who were in arms against his country; but, at least, Mr. Fox differed from some of his later disciples, in that in so doing he was supporting opinions which through his whole life he had maintained. We complain, not only of a conversion right round, and of a conversion at a critical moment, but of a conversion which was so timed that it produced a fatally misleading impression upon foreign Powers—an impression which it was materially impossible for the Government at that moment to counteract. I do not for a moment suggest that these things were intended by the noble Duke and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone); but I do suggest that they allowed their Party passions utterly to blind their prudence as statesmen. I feel confident that, but for the unhappy part taken at that time, we had good hopes of persuading Turkey in the first instance, and Russia in the second, to a wiser course than that which they ultimately pursued. The noble Duke has seasoned his discourse with sundry flowers of oratory principally directed against me. I cannot entirely pass by the accusations he has made, although they refer to matters which are res judicatœ, which have been submitted to both Houses of Parliament, and decided over and over again in both Houses of Parliament, by overwhelming majorities. In the first place, the noble Duke, in reference to the Asiatic matter, accused us of deliberately insulting all the Mahomedan subjects of the Queen. I cannot conceive where he gets the foundation for that accusation. We distrusted undoubtedly—and we deeply distrusted—a particular Native Agent who was at that time employed at the Court of Cabul. I am not sure whether he is alive or dead; but he is, at all events, an absent man, and it is not necessary for my argument that I should explain why we distrusted him. It is sufficient for me to state that that was the case; but I never said anything to show that I distrusted the honesty of the other Mahomedan subjects of the Queen. There are two grounds on which Natives were unsuitable for Agents at such stations as Herat and Candahar. In the first place, they were not impartial. I do not mean that they were not impartial as between the Ameer and the British Go- vernment, for I do not think there was much danger in that respect. They were, however, placed on the confines of Afghanistan, and, among other places, at Herat, which is on the confines of Persia and Afghanistan. As everyone knows, the Mahomedans are divided into two sects, who feel so bitterly towards each other, that a member of one sect would not be a very suitable Agent for the purpose of determining differences which might arise between them. I do not wish to dwell very much on that point, although it was a consideration which weighed with us. But there was a very much more important consideration. The principal danger which we wanted to avert by placing British Agents in Afghanistan was—and there is no reason to conceal it—connected entirely with the aggression of a European Power. Well, which was the most likely to act efficiently and intelligently to fulfil our orders as we desired them to be fulfilled and to obtain the information which it was valuable for us to secure—which was most likely—a European or an Asiatic? Obviously, it was only a European who could understand the position as it existed between England and Russia, and who could obtain for us the information and exercise the influence which would be a real security to us. Therefore, I repudiate as entirely unfounded the idea that, in preferring an English to a Native Agent at Candahar and Herat, we expressed any sentiments which were insulting to the vast majority of Her Majesty's Mahomedan and Hindoo subjects. I must further add that, unless such a charge was so absolutely certain as to make it necessary to bring it before Parliament, I cannot conceive any conduct less likely to be advantageous to the Public Service than that of the noble Duke in discussing such a matter in this House. The very considerations which ought to have prevented him from mentioning it prevent me from enlarging, as I should otherwise do, on what I regard as the dangerous tendency of his conduct. Then we are said to have "shuffled with Treaties," as the noble Duke described it in his mild language. The shuffling with Treaties arises from the fact, according to him, that we urged the admission of British Agents to Afghanistan, although we had, by the Treaty of 1855, promised Dost Mahomed that we would not do so. Well, it is said in that Treaty itself, with regard to then pending negotiations with Persia, that— British officers, with suitable establishments and orderlies, shall be deputed, at the pleasure of the British Government, to Cabul, or Kandahar, or Balkh, or all three places, or wherever an Afghan Army may be assembled to act against the Persians."—[Afghanistan, No. 1 (1878), p. 2.] It is then said that a subsidy should be given to the Ameer, and that whenever the subsidy ceased the British officers should be withdrawn.


Withdrawn from what?


From the Ameer's country. That was a provision made for sending British officers to the Afghan Army at one particular crisis when it was engaged in a campaign against Persia; and yet the noble Duke quotes it as a Treaty binding us for all time not to urge the admission of British officers as Agents within the dominions of the Ameer. If there has been any shuffling used in the course of this debate, I submit that it has been used by the wrong party. Then comes the charge of double-dealing with the Ameer. I am totally unable to understand on what that charge rests. The noble Duke cites my secret Instructions to Lord Lytton, and says I desired him to give "a dynastic guarantee "to Shere Ali. There is nothing about a dynastic guarantee in my Instructions. All I said was that we should be glad to make certain propositions for the purpose of assuring the Ameer with respect to the succession of his heir Abdoolah Jan. The proposition which was made was of a limited character. It was a perfectly straightforward and honest proposition, and I cannot conceive how it can be liable to the imputation of double-dealing. Again, I must protest against the treatment which Lord Lytton has received tonight. Of course, I am not here to say that his conduct is not to be canvassed, that his acts are not to be examined, and that Her Majesty's Government are not to be censured if necessary. But to impute to him acts of a dishonourable character—for it is nothing less which the noble Duke did—in reference to a matter which has already been decided by both Houses of Parliament, and which has really passed into the domain of history, can serve no possible purpose, except to wound Lord Lytton in the distant discharge of his difficult and delicate duties, and to injure the respect in which he is held by both Natives and Europeans in India. It seems to me that such a proceeding as that is an abuse of the liberty of speech which the Houses of Parliament practice—an abuse which is damaging to the reputation of this country, and dangerous to its greatest and highest interests abroad. I think there is nothing further for me to say in respect to India except this. The noble Duke deprecated India being asked to pay for any costs of the Afghan War, because we had practically admitted that Afghanistan was perfectly indefensible, and we had shown it by the case with which it had been overrun. It was not the military question of the defence of Afghanistan which was mainly in our minds when we adopted our recent policy. It was not on military grounds that we objected to the reception of the Russian Mission and the exercise of Russian influence in Afghanistan. It was because we were not prepared, if Afghanistan were closed to ourselves, to see it made the base for such diplomatic operations as those which have in recent times been conducted in the Provinces of Turkey. If such operations were conducted from abase upon our own borders, it would have been an addition to our anxieties and our difficulties, and a peril to the tranquillity of India, which we should be justified in asking India to join with us in dissipating. With regard to Turkey, I must say a few words as to the constitution of Eastern Roumelia, to which the noble Earl who spoke last (the Earl of Kimberley) referred. The noble Earl ridicules the possession of political and military authority there by the Sultan. The idea that we had in constituting Eastern Roumelia was that we should separate the internal government of the country, which it was shown, whether the Turks were wise or foolish, could not be conducted by them with that harmony which was desirable—that we should separate that from the functions of government relating to military defence. We were anxious to enable the people, as far as possible, to govern themselves: but as regards all external matters, as regards the defence of the country, as regards the prevention of insurrections or the prevention of invasion, we thought that the direct authority should still be left to the Sultan. What provisions did we make for that purpose? The whole military authority of the country is in the hands of the Sultan. The Militia is to be commanded entirely by officers appointed by the Sultan, the gendarmerie is to be commanded entirely by officers appointed by the Sultan. If there is insurrection, the only troops which can be summoned are Turkish; these are to be summoned only at the instance of the Governor named by the Sultan; and the Sultan has the absolute right of occupying both the littoral parts of the Province and all its frontier. Therefore, for all external purposes, Eastern Roumelia is under the direct rule of the Sultan. I am aware that the Province will, as to internal affairs, be largely self-governed—but that was the distinction we desired to draw—the internal government is to be entirely in the hands of the people, while the foreign, political, and military relations are entirely in the hands of the Sultan. That, as has been said, is a state of things precisely analogous to the position of a British Colony. The same may be said of the other Provinces which we have rescued by the Treaty of Berlin from the great Slav State. The noble Duke appears to think that unless the Sultan is the absolute and despotic master, he can have no dominion worth speaking of either in Macedonia or in Eastern Roumelia. That is not our opinion. We feel that the Turkish Empire may remain as a comparatively limited Monarchy, although as an entirely absolute Monarchy it could not. The noble Earl who spoke last (the Earl of Kimberley) referred to a matter which is very germane to the present purpose, although it belongs to many years ago—I mean the junction of the two Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, and he said that he was opposed to the opinion of Lord Palmerston, who objected to their union. I was surprised that the noble Earl mentioned that instance, and mentioned it especially in reference to the creation of Native States. I remember very well a very brilliant speech made by Mr. Gladstone—I have a lively recollection of it, because it persuaded me to vote with him—in which Mr. Gladstone told us that the breasts of free men were the surest defence of nations, and that if only we would meet the wishes of these people, and would allow them to combine, we should find this free, independent, healthy State the best bulwark against the aggressions of Russia. I am not here to discuss the conduct of Roumania; but I ask whether, on a review of the last three years, you are under the impression that Roumania has been an effective bulwark against the aggressions of Russia? I believe there is a great deal of loose talk about the power of these small States to resist the power of any great military neighbour. Many years must elapse before they can attain either the coherence or the actual material vigour which is necessary to enable them to fulfil any such function. And when I heard the noble Earl conclude his speech by telling us that we ought to have secured the gratitude of these people, and that we should be strong in their gratitude, I felt inclined to ask him to look back upon his own historical lore, and to give me any one instance—I have puzzled my brains to recollect one—in which a people have, moved by their gratitude for past favours, been led to take a political line against their own existing interests. I cannot remember a case of the kind. I do not speak of individuals. You may find Potentates who have it, but you will not find a people. I ask the noble Earl to look over the past century and to think who are the people who have fought with England, and who are those who have received gifts of blood and treasure from England for their defence—and then, glancing at the state of the world, to say whether those whom we have helped the most are now our best friends, or whether those whom we have opposed the most are now our most determined enemies. The whole idea is purely sentimental. It may animate poets and be a pleasant theme for historians; but to put it forward as a fact on which politicians and statesmen can found their calculations and confidently depend is, I believe, a mere chimera. With regard to the Ottoman Porte and the stipulations of the Treaty of Berlin, we were anxious to maintain the interests of the Porte, although it was not able to maintain its ancient boundaries. We felt that the surest hope of preserving its existence lay in placing a more limited strain upon its resources. We tried to preserve it, because it seemed to us to be one of the most important barriers against a dangerous advance. And in desiring to place a bulwark against the increase of the Slavonic principle we thought we did wisely to look, not only to the Porte, but to Austria. I still entertain the opinion that that occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina—although there is much in it that excites regret—is one of the most important results for the tranquillity of Europe which have been achieved. I believe the results that have been attained by the Treaty of Berlin have placed Turkey in a position in which, if she has still the elements of social vitality, as we think she has—if she has statesmen who are fitted to conduct her through this difficult crisis, are the arrangements which are best adapted to assure her a prolonged existence. We cannot revive the dead; and if the gloomy auguries that we hear on the other side are true, of course the efforts of diplomatists and statesmen are worthless. But we can at least give time for ascertaining whether these gloomy anticipations are correct, or whether there is not really that promise of the fulfilment of the brighter hopes that we have entertained, and, at all events, of postponing what will be one of the most terrible visitations that can befall the world whenever it shall occur. This result we believe the Berlin Treaty has achieved; and that it has been achieved without the shedding of a drop of English blood is a matter on which we may congratulate ourselves.


My Lords, considering the thin attendance now in the House, as compared with the numbers who were present when my noble Friend the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) and the noble Earl at the head of the Government were speaking, I feel that it would be improper for me to occupy much of your time. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) thinks we are flogging a dead horse; but the objects we are flogging are Her Majesty's Government; and although I do not believe them to be immortal, I should certainly be sorry if they were already defunct. The noble Earl the First Minister administered a severe rebuke to the noble Duke for having alluded to past transactions in relation to Afghanistan, although the noble Duke had carefully avoided referring to matters bearing on the present negotiations—whereas the noble Marquess has himself been guilty of the very fault he corrected in the noble Duke. The noble Earl said it was impossible for the Government to meet the noble Duke on that ground, because their mouths wore closed; but the noble Marquess, on the contrary, got up and rushed at once into the part of the question connected with the placing of British Agents on the Frontiers of Afghanistan. The noble Marquess held that the Article of the Treaty of 1857 with respect to that point has nothing whatever to do with the question; but an examination of its terms, although I am no lawyer, convinces me that it has everything to do with it, as your Lordships may see for yourselves by reading the Treaty. There has been a good deal of something like banter—and. I do not object to it—as to the violence of the language that has been used. All I can say is this—that when the noble Marquess described his own language in speaking of political matters, of political foes, and even sometimes of political friends, as mild, it takes from me all grounds of defence, either for the past or for the future, because it shows that in his remarkably clear head there is one deficiency—he is not aware of the value of the words in the English language. The noble Marquess said something about carrying out reforms in the Turkish Empire. It appears to me that if your Lordships were present here the other night when the noble Marquess disposed in the most complete manner of the chances of any such reforms by saying that the Turks had no money and no chance of getting any, and that without money reforms in Turkey were impossible, it will not seem so monstrous if we disbelieve in the reality of these reforms. With regard to the Berlin Treaty, I may say that I am not an opponent of it. I do not wish to see it remain unexecuted. I wish to see it carried out as far as possible so as not to embarrass or entangle us, while being of the greatest advantage to the Christian populations of Eastern Europe. I cannot help thinking the sort of vacillation that has gone on with regard to this Berlin Treaty must be, in some degree, owing to the absolute difference of opinion with regard to the Turkish Empire which has been consistently held by the Prime Minister and the noble Marquess. I trust this Treaty will be carried out; but I complain of the enormous extent to which the Government have magnified its advantages, instead of giving it its real and practical value. I think this discussion will be of use in putting before the country the real state of things. I do not wish to speak with any feeling of hostility to the Government to-night, nor to put any practical difficulty in the way of carrying out the Berlin Treaty.

House adjourned at a quarter before Ten o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Five o'clock.

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