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MR. BRIGHT ON THE "BALANCE OF POWER."
notwithstanding this circular, whatever the note really meant, it would have been just as binding upon Russia as any other note will be that may be drawn up and agreed to at the end of the war. Although, however, this note was considered inadmissible, negotiations were continued; and at the conference at Olmutz, at which the Earl of Westmoreland was present, the Emperor of Russia himself expressed his willingness to accept the Vienna note-not in the sense that Count Nesselrode had placed upon it, but in that which the ambassadors at Vienna declared to be its real meaning, and with such a clause as they should attach to it, defining its real meaning."
It will of course be seen that this explanation is founded on assumptions directly coutrary to the declarations then and subsequently made by ministers who, like Mr. Gladstone, were in a position to know what had actually transpired, but Mr. Bright had come to entirely different conclusions, and having made up his mind that his interpretation of Count Nesselrode's intentions was the right one, went on to argue :-"It is impossible from this fairly to doubt the sincerity of the desire for peace manifested by the Emperor of Russia. He would accept the note prepared by the conference at Vienna, sanctioned by the cabinets in London and Paris and according to the interpretation put upon it by those by whom it had been prepared-such interpretation to be defined in a clause to be by them attached to the original note. But in the precise week in which these negotiations were proceeding apparently to a favourable conclusion, the Turkish council, consisting of a large number of dignitaries of the Turkish Empire-not one of whom, however, represented the Christian majority of the population of Turkey, but inspired by the fanaticism and desperation of the old Mohammedan party-assembled; and, fearful that peace would be established, and that they would lose the great opportunity of dragging England and France into a war with their ancient enemy the Emperor of Russia, they came to a sudden resolution in favour of war; and in the very week in which Russia agreed to the Vienna note in the sense of the Vienna
conference the Turks declared war against Russia, the Turkish forces crossed the Danube and began the war, involving England in an inglorious and costly struggle, from which this government and a succeeding government may fail to extricate us.
"The course taken by Turkey in beginning the war was against the strong advice of her allies; but notwithstanding this, the moment the step was taken they turned round again, as in the case of the Vienna note, and justified and defended her in the course she had adopted in defiance of the remonstrances they had urged against it." Lord John Russell had contended that Turkey was fully justified in declaring war. Mr. Bright declared, "I should say nothing against that view if Turkey were fighting on her own resources; but that if she was in alliance with England and France the opinions of those powers should at least have been heard, and that in case of her refusal to listen to their counsel they would have been justified in saying to her, 'If you persist in taking your own course we cannot be involved in the difficulties to which it may give rise, but must leave you to take the consequences of your own acts.' But this was not said, and the result was that we were dragged into a war by the madness of the Turk, which, but for the fatal blunders we have committed, we might have avoided."
"This balance of power' is in reality the hinge on which the whole question turns. But if that is so important as to be worth a sanguinary war, why did you not go to war with France when she seized upon Algiers? That was a portion of Turkey not quite so distinct, it is true, as are the Danubian principalities; but still Turkey had sovereign rights over Algiers. When, therefore, France seized on a large portion of the northern coast of Africa, might it not have been said that such an act tended to convert the Mediterranean into a French lake—that Algiers lay next to Tunis, and that, having conquered Tunis, there would remain only Tripoli between France and Alexandria, and that the 'balance of power' was being destroyed by the aggrandizement of France? All this might have been said, and the government might easily have
remain there a good while. So far, therefore, for the calculations of our forefathers, and for the results of that enormous expenditure which they have saddled upon us.
"We object to these great armaments as provoking a war spirit. I should like to ask what was the object of the Chobham Exhibition? There were special trains at the disposal of members of parliament, to go down to Chobham the one day, and to Spithead the other. What was the use of our pointing to the President of the French Republic two years ago, who is the emperor now, and saying that he was spending his time at playing at soldiers in his great camp at Satory, and in making great circuses for the amusement of his soldiers? We, too, are getting into the way of playing at soldiers, and camps, and fleets, and the object of this is to raise up in the spirit of the people a feeling antagonistic to peace, and to render the people the deluded, hard-working, toiling people satisfied with the extortion of £17,000,000 annually, when, upon the very principles of the men who take it, it might be demonstrated that one-half of the money would be amply sufficient for the purposes to which it is devoted. What observation has been more common during the discussion upon Turkey than this 'Why are we to keep up these great fleets if we are not to use them? Why have we our Mediterranean fleet lying at Besika Bay, when it might be earning glory and adding to the warlike renown of the country?' This is just what comes from the maintenance of great fleets and armies. There grows up an esprit de corps-there grows a passion for these things, a powerful opinion in their favour, that smothers the immorality of the whole thing, and leads the people to tolerate, under those excited feelings, that which, under feelings of greater temperance and moderation, they would know was hostile to their country, as it is opposed to everything which we recognize as the spirit of the Christian religion.
"Then we are against intervention. Now this question of intervention is a most important one, for this reason, that it comes before us sometimes in a form so attractive that it
invites us to embrace it, and asks us by all our love of freedom, by all our respect for men struggling for their rights, to interfere in the affairs of some other country. And we find now in this country that a great number of those who are calling out loudest for interference are those who, being very liberal in their politics, are bitterly hostile to the despotism and exclusiveness of the Russian government. But I should like to ask this meeting what sort of intervention we are to have? There are three kinds-one for despotism, one for liberty; and you may have an intervention like that now proposed, from a vague sense of danger which cannot be accurately described.
"What have our interventions been up to this time? It is not long since we intervened in the case of Spain. The foreign enlistment laws were suspended; and English soldiers went to join the Spanish legion, and the government of Spain was fixed in the present queen of that country, and yet Spain has the most exclusive tariff against this country in the world, and a dead Englishman is there reckoned little better than a dead dog. Then take the case of Portugal. We interfered, and Admiral Napier was one of those employed in that interference to place the Queen of Portugal on the throne; and yet she has violated every clause of the charter which she had sworn to the people; and in 1849, under the government of Lord John Russell, and with Lord Palmerston in the foreign office, our fleet entered the Tagus and destroyed the Liberal party by allowing the queen to escape from their hands, when they would have driven her to give additional guarantees for liberty; and from that time to this she has still continued to violate every clause of the charter of the country. Now let us come to Syria; what, as Admiral Napier said, about the Syrian war? He told us that the English fleet was scattered all about the Mediterranean, and that if the French fleet had come to Cherbourg and had taken on board 50,000 men and landed them on our coasts, all sorts of things would have befallen us. But how happened it that Admiral Napier and his friends got up the quarrel with the French? Because we
MR. BRIGHT'S MANIFESTO.
interfered in the Syrian question when we had no business to interfere whatever. The Egyptian pasha, the vassal of the sultan, became more powerful than the sultan, and threatened to depose him and place himself as monarch upon the throne of Constantinople; and but for England he would assuredly have done it. Why did we interfere? What advantage was it to us to have a feeble monarch in Constantinople, when you might have an energetic and powerful one in Mehemet Ali? We interfered, however, and quarrelled with France, although she neither declared war nor landed men upon our coast. France is not a country of savages and banditti. The admiral's whole theory goes upon this, that there is a total want of public morality in France, and that something which no nation in Europe would dare to do or think of doing, which even Russia would scorn to do, would be done without any warning by the polished, civilized and intelligent nation across the Channel."
In reading this speech delivered six months before the Napier banquet, who can avoid the suspicion that Lord Palmerston had it in his memory when he eulogized the admiral, and that his resentment of Mr. Bright's remonstrances was sharpened by the recollection.
“But,” Mr. Bright asked in continuation, "if they are the friends of freedom who think we ought to go to war with Russia because Russia is a despotic country, what do you say to the interference with the Roman Republic three or four years ago? What do you say to Lord John Russell's government, Lord Palmerston with his own hand writing the despatch, declaring that the government of her majesty the Queen of England entirely concurred with the government of the French Republic in believing that it was desirable and necessary to re-establish the pope upon his throne? The French army, with the full concurrence of the English government, crossed over to Italy, invaded Rome, destroyed the republic, banished its leading men, and restored the pope; and on that throne he sits still, maintained only by the army of France.
"My honourable friend has referred to the time when Russia crossed through the very principalities we hear so much about, and
entered Hungary. I myself heard Lord Palmerston in the House of Commons go out of his way needlessly, but intentionally, to express a sort of approbation of the intervention of Russia in the case of Hungary. I heard him say in a most unnecessary parenthesis, that it was not contrary to international law or to the law of Europe for Russia to send an army into Hungary to assist Austria in putting down the Hungarian insurrection. I should like to know whether Hungary had not constitutional rights as sacred as ever any country had-as sacred, surely, as the sovereign of Turkey can have upon his throne. If it were not contrary to international law and to the law of Europe for a Russian army to invade Hungary, to suppress there a struggle which called for, and obtained too, the sympathy of every man in favour of freedom in every part of the world,I say, how can it be contrary to international law and the law of Europe for Russia to threaten the Sultan of Turkey, and to endeavour to annex Turkey to the Russian Empire?
"I want our policy to be consistent. Do not let us interfere now, or concur in or encourage the interference of anybody else, and then get up a hypocritical pretence on some other occasion that we are against interference. If you want war, let it be for something that has at least the features of grandeur and of nobility about it, but not for the miserable, decrepit, moribund government which is now enthroned, but which cannot last long, in the city of Constantinople.
"They tell us that if Russia gets to Constantinople Englishmen will not be able to get to India by the overland journey. Mehemet Ali, even when Admiral Napier was battering down his towns, did not interfere with the carriage of our mails through his territory. We bring our overland mails at present partly through Austria and partly through France, and the mails from Canada pass through the United States; and though I do not think there is the remotest possibility or probability of anything of the kind happening, yet I do not think that in the event of war with these countries we should have our mails stopped or our persons arrested in passing through these countries. At any rate it would be a much
sympathy with any other state. I have sympathy with Turkey; I have sympathy with the serfs of Russia; I have sympathy with the people of Hungary, whose envoy the noble lord the member for Tiverton refused to see, and the overthrow of whose struggle for freedom by the armies of Russia he needlessly justified in this house; I have sympathy with the Italians, subjects of Austria, Naples, and the pope; I have sympathy with the three millions of slaves in the United States; but it is not on a question of sympathy that I dare involve this country, or any country, in a war which must cost an incalculable amount of treasure and of blood. It is not my duty to make this country the knight-errant of the human race, and to take upon herself the protection of the thousand millions of human beings who have been permitted by the Creator of all things to people this planet.
"I hope no one will assume that I would invite that is the phrase which has been used the aggressions of Russia. If I were a Russian, speaking in a Russian parliament, I should denounce any aggression upon Turkey, as I now blame the policy of our own government; and I greatly fear I should find myself in a minority, as I now find myself in a minority on this question. But it has never yet been explained how the interests of this country are involved in the present dispute. We are not going to fight for tariffs, or for markets for our exports. In 1791 Mr. Grey argued that, as our imports from Russia exceeded £1,000,000 sterling, it was not desirable that we should go to war with a country trading with us to that amount. In 1853 Russia exported to this country at least £14,000,000 sterling, and that fact affords no proof of the increasing barbarism of Russia, or of any disregard of her own interests as respects the development of her resources. What has passed in this house since the opening of the present session? We had a large surplus revenue, and our chancellor of the exchequer is an ambitious chancellor. I have no hope in any statesman who has no ambition; he can have no great object before him, and his career will be unmarked by any distinguished services to his country.
"When the chancellor of the exchequer en
tered office, doubtless he hoped, by great services to his country, to build up a reputation such as a man may labour for and live for. Every man in this house, even those most opposed to him, acknowledged the remarkable capacity which he displayed during the last session, and the country has set its seal to this
that his financial measures in the remission and readjustment of taxation were worthy of the approbation of the great body of the people. The right honourable gentleman has been blamed for his speech at Manchester, not for making the speech, but because it differed from the tone of the speech made by the noble lord, his colleague in office, at Greenock. I observed that difference. There can be no doubt that there has been, and that there is now, a great difference of opinion in the cabinet on this eastern question. It could not be otherwise; and government has gone on from one step to another; they have drifted-to use the happy expression of Lord Clarendon to describe what is so truly unhappy--they have drifted from a state of peace to a state of war; and to no member of the government could this state of things be more distressing than to the chancellor of the exchequer, for it dashed from him the hopes he entertained that session after session, as trade extended and the public revenue increased, he would find himself the beneficent dispenser of blessings to the poor, and indeed to all classes of the people of this kingdom. Where is the surplus now? No man dare even ask for it, or for any portion of it.
"With regard to trade I can speak with some authority as to the state of things in Lancashire. The Russian trade is not only at an end, but it is made an offence against the law to deal with any of our customers in Russia. The German trade is most injuriously affected by the uncertainty which prevails on the Continent of Europe. The Levant trade, a very important branch, is almost extinguished in the present state of affairs in Greece, Turkey in Europe, and Syria. All property in trade is diminishing in value, whilst its burdens are increasing. The funds have fallen in value to the amount of about £120,000,000 sterling, and railway property is quoted at about
GLADSTONE ON THE RUSSIAN WAR.
£80,000,000 less than was the case a year | plored the war, and that all his calculations
were upset, and his hopes of achieving a great financial measure were frustrated by it. But Mr. Gladstone could give no practical support to Mr. Bright's arguments against interposition, and it was too late for such moral support as he could show to be of any immediate avail. In fact there has been no more emphatic, and perhaps unanswerable reply to Mr. Bright's contention than that given by Mr. Gladstone, part of which has been already noted.
"The design of the Crimean war," he wrote in 1878, 66 was in its groundwork the vindication of European law against an unprovoked aggression. It sought, therefore, to maintain intact the condition of the menaced party against the aggressor, or, in other words, to defend against Russia the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire. The condition of the Christian subjects of the Porte in general was a subject that had never before that epoch come under the official consideration of Europe. The internal government of a country, it may safely be laid down, cannot well become the subject of effective consideration by other states except in cases where it leads to consequences in which they have a true locus standi, a legitimate concern on their own particular account, or on account of the general peace. In the case of Greece an insurrection growing into a civil war, and disturbing the Levant, had created this locus standi; and the interference of the three powers, led by Great Britain, had redressed the mischief. No like door had been opened in the other Christian provinces of Turkey. The dispute upon the holy places in 1853 had very partially opened it when Russia demanded for herself exclusively an enlarged right of intervention on behalf of the Oriental Christians. It thus became necessary, in determining the policy of the future, to take notice of the condition of the subject races. The greatest authorities, and pre-eminently Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, believed in the capacity of the Porte by internal reforms to govern its subjects on the principle of civil equality. The resolution, therefore, was taken to pursue this end, but without that infringement of the Porte's sovereign rights which Russia had
"But we are sending out 30,000 troops to Turkey, and in that number are not included the men serving on board the fleets. Here are 30,000 lives! There is a thrill of horror sometimes when a single life is lost, and we sigh at the loss of a friend—or of a casual acquaintance! But here we are in danger of losingand I give the opinions of military men, and not my own merely-10,000, or it may be 20,000 lives, that may be sacrificed in this struggle. I have never pretended to any sympathy for the military profession; but I have sympathy for my fellow-men and fellowcountrymen, wherever they may be. I have heard very melancholy accounts of the scenes which have been witnessed in the separation from families occasioned by this expedition to the East. But it will be said, and probably the noble lord the member for Tiverton will say, that it is a just war, a glorious war, and that I am full of morbid sentimentality, and have introduced topics not worthy to be mentioned in parliament. But these are matters affecting the happiness of the homes of England, and we who are the representatives and guardians of those homes, when the grand question of war is before us, should know at least that we have a case-that success is probable, and that an object is attainable which may be commensurate with the cost of war."
No wonder, we might almost say, if Lord Palmerston felt restless and took the first opportunity of letting so hard-hitting an antagonist have it back; but it was to be deplored that on the occasion already referred to "the Tipton Slasher," as his lordship was sometimes nicknamed by the lower satirists, after a once famous pugilist, did not hit fair. Probably Palmerston would have said that he took so entirely different a point of view that he would not attempt to controvert the statements of his opponent, who had misapprehended, if not misrepresented, the circumstances which alone would explain the situation.
It may be noted that Mr. Bright spoke differently with regard to Mr. Gladstone. He knew, as we have said, that he at least de