West Calder Meeting.
On Thursday, November 27th, Mr. Gladstone drove from Dalmeny Park to address the electors at West Calder. The route lay through the villages of Ratho, East Calder, Midcalder, and Bell's Quarry, in all of which triumphal arches had been erected, and the popular excitement and enthusiasm were intense. A building had been specially prepared for the meeting at West Calder, and it was crowded by a very large assemblage of electors and non-electors. The
streets of West Calder were decorated with arches, and the town was brilliantly illuminated at night.
Amongst those present were the following gentlemen: Viscount Dalrymple, Hon. A. Lyttleton, Messrs. P. M'Lagan of Pumpherston, M.P.; John Ramsay, M.P.; E. Jenkins, M.P.; Colonel Gillon of Wallhouse; James Young of Kelly and Limefield, LL.D.; James Houldsworth of Coltness, Thomas Barr of Harburn, Alex. Smith of Muirhouse, James Thornton of Hermand, J. R. Forman of Craigpark, James Steel of Murieston, John Wilson of Alderstone, Ralph Richardson of Newpark, W.S.; Rev. Professor Blaikie, Rev. Professor Calderwood, Professor Ramsay, Glasgow; Rev. Dr. Nicolson, Linlithgow; D. Nicolson of Parson's Green, Surgeon-General Harper, Deputy Surgeon-General Fleming, Provost Dawson, Linlithgow; Provost Johnston, Bathgate; Provost Forrest, Hamilton; Provost Lawson, Provost of Bo'ness; Bailies Burt and Smith, Glasgow; Bailie Brown, Lanark; Robert Bell, Amondell; T. D. Brodie, W.S.; Thomas Carmichael, S.S.C.; J. R. Findlay, Hatton House; James Melvin, Bonnington; William Dick, Kirknewton; Rev. Messrs. Wardrop, Taylor, and Goldie, West Calder; Rev. Messrs. A. and W. Duncan, Midcalder; Rev. D. Marshall, East Calder; Rev. J. K. Bain, Livingston; Dr. Watson, Midcalder; A. R. Gillespie, Leith; Holmes Ivory, W.S.; R. G. Smith, Midcalder; Adam Robertson, Midcalder; Alex. Smith, Loganlea; W. C. Smith, Advocate; P. W. Campbell, W.S.; James Blaikie, Inspector of Schools; R. A. Brown, S.S.C.; Dr. Fowler, James Law, A. Corstorphine, Currie; W. H. Houldsworth, Coltness; and the following members of the West Calder Liberal Committee, viz.: John Calderwood, P. Cosgrove, Thos. Darling, Jos. Dodds, A. Gray, W. Graham, A. Kidd, Wm. Millar, John Mungle, A. Martin, T. Rae, T. Seggie, J. Stark, and W. R. Scott.
Mr. M'Lagan of Pumpherston, M.P., having been called to the chair, briefly introduced Mr. Gladstone, who said:—
Mr. M'Lagan and Gentlemen,—in addressing you to-day, as in addressing like audiences assembled for a like purpose in other places of the county, I am warmed by the enthusiastic welcome which you have been pleased in every quarter and in every form to accord to me. I am, on the other hand, daunted when I recollect first of all what large demands I have to make on your patience; and, secondly, how inadequate are my powers, and how inadequate almost any amount of time you can grant me, to set forth worthily the whole of the case which ought to be laid before you in connection with the coming election.
To-day, gentlemen, as I know that many among you are interested in the land, and, as I feel that what is termed "agricultural distress" is at
the present moment a topic too serious to be omitted from our consideration, I shall say some words upon the subject of that agricultural distress, and particularly, because in connection with it there have arisen in some quarters of the country proposals, which have received a countenance far beyond their deserts, to reverse or to compromise the work which it took us one whole generation to achieve, and to revert to the mischievous, obstructive, and impoverishing system of Protection. Gentlemen, I speak of agricultural distress as a matter now undoubtedly serious. Let none of us withhold our sympathy from the farmer, the cultivator of the soil, in the struggle he has to
The farmer has to compete with the United States.
undergo. His struggle is a struggle of competition with the United States. But I do not fully explain the case when I say the United States. It is not with the entire United States; it is with the western portion of these States, the portion remote from the seaboard; and I wish, in the first place, gentlemen, to state to you all a fact of very great interest and importance, as it seems to me, relating to and defining the point at which the competition of the Western States of America is most severely felt. I have in my hand a letter received recently from one well known, and
honourably known, in Scotland, Mr. Lyon Playfair, who has recently been a traveller in the United States, and who, as you well know, is as well qualified as any man upon earth for accurate and careful investigation. The point, gentlemen, at which the competition of the Western States of America is most severely felt is in the Eastern States of America. Whatever be agricultural distress in Scotland, whatever it be, where undoubtedly it is more felt, in England it is greater by much in the Eastern States of America. In the States of New England the soil has been to some extent exhausted by careless methods of agriculture, and these, gentlemen, are the greatest of all the enemies with which the farmer has to contend. But the foundation of the statement I make, that the Eastern States of America are those that most feel the competition of the West, is to be found in facts—in this fact, above all, that not only they are not in America, as we are here, talking about the shortness of the annual returns, and in some places having much said on the subject of rents and of temporary remission or of permanent reduction; that is not the state of things; they have actually got to this point, that the capital values of land, as tested by sales in the market, have undergone an enormous diminution. Now, I will tell you something that actually happened, on the
The prices of land in the Eastern States.
authority of my friend Mr. Playfair—I will tell you something that has happened in one of the New England States—not, recollect, in a desert or a remote country—in an old cultivated country, and near one of the towns of these States, a town that has the honourable name of Wellesley. Mr. Playfair tells me this: Three weeks ago—that is to say, about the first of this month, so you will sec that my information is tolerably recent-three weeks ago a friend of Mr. Playfair bought a farm near Wellesley for thirty-three dollars an acre, for £
6, 12s. an acre—agricultural land, remember, in an old settled country. That is the present condition of agricultural property in the old States of New England. I think by the simple recital of that fact I have tolerably well established my case, for you have not come in England, and you have not come in Scotland, to the point at which agricultural land is to be had, not wild land, but improved and old cultivated land, is to be had for the price of £
6, 12s. an acre. He mentions that this is by no means a strange case, an isolated case, that it fairly represented the average transactions that lave been going on, and he says that in that region the ordinary price of agricultural land at the present time is from twenty to fifty dollars an acre, or from £
4. to £
10. In New York the soil is better, and the population is greater; but even in the State of New York land ranges for agricultural purposes from fifty to a hundred dollars; that is to say, from £
10 to £
20 an acre.
I think those of you, gentlemen, who are farmers will perhaps derive some comfort from perceiving that if the pressure here is heavy, the pressure elsewhere
The pressure is felt most severely in America itself.
and the pressure nearer to the seat of this very abundant production is greater and far greater still. It is most interesting to consider, however, what this pressure is. There has been developed, in the astonishing progressive power of the United States—there has been developed a faculty of producing corn for the subsistence of man with a rapidity, and to an extent, unknown in the experience of mankind. There is nothing like it in history. Do not let us conceal, gentlemen, from our selves the fact—I shall not stand the worse with any of you who are farmers It I at once avow, that this greater, and comparatively immense abundance of the prime article of subsistence for mankind is a great blessing vouchsafed by [unclear: Provi]
dence to mankind. In part I believe that the cheapness has been increased by special causes. The lands from which the great abundance of American wheat comes are very thinly peopled as yet. They will become more thickly peopled and as they become more thickly peopled a larger proportion of their product will be wanted for home consumption, and less of it will come to you, and at higher price. Again, if we are rightly informed, the price of American wheat
has been unnaturally reduced by the extraordinary depression in recent times of trade in America, and especially of the mineral trades, upon which many railroads are dependent in America, and with which these railroads are connected in America in a degree and manner that in this country we know but little of. With a revival of trade in America, it is to be expected that the freights of corn will increase, and all other freights, because the employment of the railroads will be a great deal more abundant, and they will not be content to carry corn at nominal rates. In some respects, therefore, you may expect a mitigation of the pressure, but in other respects it is likely to continue. Nay, the Prime Minister is reported as having not long ago said—and he ought to have the best information on this subject, nor am I going to impeach in the main what he stated—he gave it to be understood that there was about to be a development of corn production in Canada, which would entirely throw into the shade this corn production in the United States. Well, that certainly was very cold comfort, as far as the British agriculturist is concerned, because he did not say—he could not say—that the corn production of the United States was to fall off, but there was to be added an enormous corn production from Manitoba, the great province which forms now a part of the Canada Dominion. There is no doubt, I believe, that it is a correct expectation that vast or very large quantities of corn will proceed from that province, and therefore we have to look forward to a state of things in which, for a considerable time to come, large quantities of wheat will be forthcoming from America—probably larger quantities, and perhaps and frequently at lower prices, than those at which the corn-producing and corn exporting districts of Europe have commonly been able to supply us. Now, that believe to be, gentlemen, upon the whole not an unfair representation of the state of
The farmer has two fair claims: (1) To purchase in the cheapest market.
things. How are you to meet that state of things? What are your fair claims? I will tell you. In my opinion your fair claims are in the main two. One is, to be allowed to purchase every article that you require in the cheapest market, and have no needless burden laid upon anything that comes to you and can assist you in the cultivation of your land. But that claim has been conceded and fulfilled. I do not know whether there is an object, an instrument, a tool of any kind—an auxiliary of any kind—that you want for the business of the farmer, which you do not buy at this moment in the cheapest market. But beyond that, you want to be relieved from every unjust and unnecessary
(2) Relief from unnecessary legislative restraint.
legislative restraint. I say every unnecessary legislative restraint, because taxation, gentlemen, is unfortunately a restraint upon us all but we cannot say that it is always unnecessary, and we cannot say that it is always unjust. Yesterday I ventured to state—and I will therefore not now return to the subject—a number of matters connected with the state of legislation in which it appears to me to be of vital importance, both to the agricultural interest and to the entire community, that the occupiers and cultivators of the land of this country should be relieved from restraints under the operation of which they now suffer considerably. Beyond those two great heads, gentlemen what you have to look to, I believe, is your own energy, your own energy of thought and action, and your care not to undertake to pay rents greater than, in reasonable calculation, you think you can afford. I am by no means sure, though I speak subject to the correction of higher authority—I am by no means sure that in Scotland within the last fifteen or twenty years something of a speculative character has not entered into rents, and particularly, perhaps, into the rents of hill farms. I remember hearing of the augmentations which were taking place, I believe, all over Scotland—I verified the fact in a number of counties—about twelve or fourteen years ago in the rents of hill farms, which confess impressed me with the idea that the high prices that were then ruling, and ruling increasingly from year to year, for meat and wool were perhaps for once leading the wary and shrewd Scottish agriculturist a little beyond the mark
in the rents he undertook to pay. But it is not this only which may press. It is, more broadly, in a serious and manful struggle that you are engaged, in which you will have to exert yourselves to the uttermost; in which you have a right to claim everything that the Legislature can do for you, and I hope it may perhaps possibly be my privilege and honour to assist in procuring for you some of those provisions of necessary liberation from restraint; but beyond that, it is your own energies, of thought and action, to which you will have to trust.
Now, gentlemen, having said thus much, my next duty is to warn you against
A warning against quack remedies.
quack remedies, against delusive remedies, against the quack remedies that there are plenty of people found to propose, not so much in Scotland as in England; for, gentlemen, from Midlothian present we are speaking to England as well as to Scotland. Let us give a friendly warning from this northern quarter to the agriculturist of England note to be deluded by those, who call themselves his friends in a degree of special and superior excellence, and who have been too much given to delude him in other times; not to be deluded into hoping relief from sources, from which it can never come. Now, gentlemen, there are three of these remedies. The first of them, gentlemen, I will not call a quack remedy at all, but I will speak of notwithstanding in the tone of rational and dispassionate discussion. I am not now so much upon the controversial portion of the land question, a field which Heaven knows is wide enough, as I am upon matters of deep and universal interest to us in our economic and social condition. There are some gentlemen and there are persons for whom I for one have very great respect, who think that the difficulties of our agriculture may be got over by a fundamental change is the land-holding system of this country. I do not mean, now pray observe, change as to the law of entail and settlement, and all those restraints which, hope, were tolerably well disposed of yesterday at Dalkeith; but I mean those who think that if you can cut up the land, or a large part of it, into a multitudes of small properties, that of itself will solve the difficulty, and start everybody or
a career of prosperity. Now, gentlemen, to a proposal of that [unclear: kin]
I, for one, am not going to object upon the ground that it would be inconsistent with the privileges of landed proprietors. In my opinion, if is known to be for the welfare of the community at large, the Legislature perfectly entitled to buy out the landed proprietors. It is not intended probable to confiscate the property of a landed proprietor more than the property of and other man; but the State is perfectly entitled, if it please, to buy out the lands proprietors as it may think fit for the purpose of dividing the property into small lots. I do not wish to recommend it, because I will show you the doubt that to my mind hang about that proposal; but I admit that in principle objection can be taken. Those persons who possess large portions of the space of the earth are not altogether in the same position as the possessors of men personalty; that personalty does not impose the same limitations upon the action and industry of man, and upon the wellbeing of the community, as does the possession of land; and therefore I freely own that compulsory expropriate is a thing which for an adequate public object is in itself admissible and so [unclear: f]
A comparison with France.
sound in principle. Now, gentlemen, this idea about small proprietors, however, is one which very large bodies and parties in the country treat with the utmost contempt; and they are accustomed to point France and say, Look at France. In France you have got 5,000,000—I am [unclear: n]
quite sure whether it is 5,000,000 or even more; I do not wish to be beyond [unclear: t]
mark in anything—you have 5,000,000 of small proprietors, and you do not prepuce in France as many bushels of wheat per acre as you do in England. We now, I am going to point out to you a very remarkable fact with regard to the condition of France. I will not say that France produces—for I believe it do not produce—as many bushels of wheat per acre as England does, but I should like to know whether the wheat of France is produced mainly upon the sms [unclear: sms]
properties of France. I believe that the wheat of France is produced mainly upon the large properties of France, and I have not any doubt that the large properties of England are, upon the whole, better cultivated, and more capita is put into the land, than in the large properties of France. But it is fair that justice should be done to what is called a peasant proprietary. Peasant proprietary is an excellent thing, if it can be had, in many points of view. It interests an enormous number of the people in the soil of the country, and in the stability of its institutions and its laws. But now look at the effect that it has upon the progressive value of the land—and I am going to give you a very few figures, which I will endeavour to relieve from all complication, lest I should unnecessarily weary you. But what will you think when I tell you that the agricultural values of France—the taxable income derived from the land, and therefore the income of the proprietors of that land—has advanced during our lifetime far more rapidly than that of England? When I say England, I believe the same thing is applicable to Scotland, certainly to Ireland; but I shall take England for my test, because the difference between England and Scotland, though great, does not touch the principle; and because it so happens that we have some means of illustration from former times for England, which are not equally applicable for all the three kingdoms. Here is the state of the case. I will not go back any further than 1851. I might go back much
Progressive value of land in England and France.
further, it would only strengthen my case. But for 1851 I have a statement, made by French official authority, of the agricultural income of France, as well as the income of other real property, such as houses. In 1851 the agricultural income of France was £
76,000,000. It was greater in 1851, than the whole income from land and houses together had been in 1821. That is a tolerable evidence of progress, but I will not enter into the detail of it, because I have no means of dividing the two—the house income and the land income—for the earlier year, namely, 1821. In 1851 it was £
76,000,000—the agricultural income; and in 1864 it had risen from £
76,000,000 to £
106,000,000. That is to say, in the space of thirteen years the increase of agricultural values in France—annual values—was no less than 40 per cent., or 3 per cent, per annum. Now I go to England. Wishing to be quite accurate, I shall limit myself to that with respect to which we have positive figures. In England the agricultural income in 1813-1814 was £
37,000,000 in 1842 it was £
42,000,000, and that year is the one I will take as my starting-point. I have given you the years 1851 to 1864 in France. I could only give you those thirteen years with a certainty that I was not misleading you, and I believe I have kept within the mark. I believe I might have put my case more strongly for France.
In 1842, then, the agricultural income of England was £
42,000,000; in 1876 it was £
52,000,000—that is to say, while the agricultural income of France increased 40 per cent, in thirteen years, the agricultural income of England increased 20 per cent, in thirty-four years. The increase in France was 3 per cent, per annum; the increase in England was about one-half or three-fifths per cent, per annum. Now, gentlemen, I wish this justice to be done to a system where peasant proprietary prevails. It is of great importance. And will you allow me, you who are Scotch agriculturists, to assure you that I speak to you not only with the respect which is due from a candidate to a constituency, but with the deference which is due from a man knowing very little of agricultural matters to those who know a great deal. And there is one point at which the considerations that I have been opening up, and this rapid increase of the value of the soil in France bears upon our discussions. Let me try to explain it. I believe myself that the operation of economic laws is what in the main dictates the distribution of landed property in this country. I doubt if those economic laws will allow it to remain cut up into a multitude of small properties like the small properties of France. As to small holdings, I am one of those who attach
the utmost value to them. I say that in the Lothians; I say that in the portion of the country where almost beyond any other large holdings prevail; 111 Some parts of which large holdings exclusively are to be found; I attach the utmost value to them. But it is not on that point I am going to dwell, for we have time for what is unnecessary. What I do wish very respectfully to submit you, gentlemen, is this. When you sec this vast increase of the agricultural value of France, you know at once it is perfectly certain that has not been upon the large properties of France, which, if anything, are inferior in cultivation to the large properties of England. It has been upon those very peasant-property which some people are so ready to decry. What do the peasant-property mean? They mean what in France is called the small cultivation; that is say, cultivation of superior articles, pursued upon a small scale—cultivation flowers, cultivation of trees and shrubs, cultivation of fruits of every kind, and all that, in fact, which rises above the ordinary character of farming produce, and rather approaches the produce of the gardener. Gentlemen, I cannot he having this belief, that, among other means of meeting the difficulties in which
The cultivation of new products.
we may be placed, our destiny is that a great deal more attention will have to be given than heretofore by the agriculturists of England and perhaps even by the agriculturists of Scotland, to the production of fruit of vegetables, of flowers; of all that variety of objects which are sure to find market in a rich and wealthy country like this, but which have hitherto been consigned almost exclusively to garden production. You know that in Scotland n Aberdeenshire—and I am told also in Perthshire—a great example of the kind has been set in the cultivation of strawberries—the cultivation of [unclear: stra]
berries is carried on over hundreds of acres at once. I am ashamed, gentlemen to go further into this matter, as if I was attempting to instruct you. I am sure you will take my hint as a respectful hint, I am sure you will take it as a friend hint. I do not believe that the large properties of this country, generally I universally, can or will be broken up into small ones. I do not believe that land of this country will be owned, as a general rule, by those who cultivate I believe we shall continue to have, as we have had, a class of landlords as a class of cultivators, but I most earnestly desire to see, not only to see the relations of those classes to one another harmonious and sound, their interest never brought into conflict, but I desire to see both flourishing and prospering
A change in distribution of landed property is not a remedy for agricultural distress.
and the soil of my country producing, as far as may be, under the influence of capital and skill, every variety of product which me give an abundant livelihood to those who live upon it. I say, these fore, gentlemen, and I say it with all respect, I hope for a good [unclear: do]
from the small culture, the culture in use among the small proprietors of France; but I do not look to a fundamental change in the distribution of landed property in this country as a remedy for agricultural distress.
But I go on to another remedy which is proposed, and I do it with a great deal less of respect; nay, I now come to the region of what I have presume to call quack remedies. There is a quack remedy which is called Reciprocal
Reciprocity is a quack remedy.
and this quack remedy is under the special protection of [unclear: qual]
doctors, and among the quack doctors I am sorry to say the appear to be some in very high station indeed; and if I am rightly informes no less a person than her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has been moving about the country and indicating a very considerable expectation that possibly by Reciprocity agricultural distress will be relieved. Let me to gentlemen, the efficacy of this quack remedy for your in some places agriculture pressure, and generally distress, the pressure that has been upon you, [unclear: t]
struggle in which you are engaged. Pray watch its operation; pray [unclear: no]
what is said by the advocates of Reciprocity. They always say, We are the soundest and best Free-traders. We recommend Reciprocity because it is the ruly effectual method of bringing about Free-trade. At present America [unclear: impos]
enormous duties upon our cotton goods and upon our iron goods. Put Reciprocity into play, and America will become a Free-trading country. Very well, gentlemen, how would that operate upon you agriculturists in particular? Why, it will operate thus. If your condition is to be regretted, in certain particulars and capable of amendment, I beg you to cast an eye of sympathy upon the condition of the American agriculturist. It has been very well said, and very truly said, though it is a smart antithesis—the American agriculturist has got to buy everything that he wants at prices which are fixed in Washington by the legislation of America, but he has got to sell everything that he produces at prices which are fixed in Liverpool; fixed by the free competition of the world. How would you like that, gentlemen—to have protective prices to pay for everything that you use—for your manures, for your animals, for your implements, for all your farming stock, and at the same time to have to sell what you produce in the free and open market of the world? But bring Reciprocity into play, and then, if the Reciprocity doctors are right, the Americans will remove all their protective duties, and the American farmer, instead of producing, as he does now, under the disadvantage, and the heavy disadvantage, of having to pay protective prices for everything that constitutes his farming stock, will have all his tools and implements, and manures, and everything else purchased in the free, open market of the world, at Free-trade prices. So he will be able to produce his corn to compete with you even cheaper than he docs now. So much for Reciprocity considered as a cure for distress. I am not going to consider it now in any other point of view. But, gentlemen, there are another set of men who are bolder still, and who are not for Reciprocity; who are not content with that milder form of quackery, but who recommend a reversion, pure and simple, to what I may fairly call, I think, the exploded doctrine of Protection. And upon this, gentlemen, I
Protection is an exploded doctrine.
think it necessary, if you will allow me, to say to you a few words, because it is a very serious matter, and it is all the more serious because her Majesty's Government—I do not scruple to say—are coquetting with this subject in a way which is not right. They are tampering with it; they are playing with it. A protective speech was made in the House of Commons in a debate last year by Mr. Chaplin, on the part of what is called the agricultural interest." Mr. Chaplin did not use the word protection, but what he did say was this—he said he demanded that the malt tax should be abolished, and the revenue supplied by a tax upon foreign barley or some other foreign commodity. Well, if he has a measure of that kind in his pocket, I do not ask him to affix the word protection to it. I can do that for myself. Not a word of rebuke, gentlemen, was uttered to the doctrines of Mr. Chaplin. He was complimented upon the ability of his speech and the well-chosen terms of his motion. Some of the members of her Majesty's Government—the minor members of her Majesty's Government—the humbler luminaries of that great Constellation—have been going about the country and telling their farming constituents that they think the time has come when a return to Protection might very wisely be tried. But, gentlemen, what delusions have been practised upon the unfortunate British farmer! When we go back for twenty years, what is now called the Tory party was never heard of as the Tory party. It was always heard of as the party of Protection. As long as the chiefs of the protective party were not in office, as long as they were irresponsible, they recommended themselves to the goodwill of the farmer as Protectionists, and said they would set him up, and put his interests on a firm foundation through Protection. We brought them into office in the year 1852. I gave with pleasure a vote that assisted to bring them into office. I thought bringing them into office was the only way of putting their professions to the test. They came into office, and before they had been six months in office they had thrown Protection to the winds. And that is the way in which the British farmer's
expectations are treated by those who claim for themselves in the special sense the designation of his friends.
It is exactly the same with the malt tax. Gentlemen, what is done with the
malt tax? The malt tax is held by them to be a great grievance upon the British farmer. Whenever a Liberal Government is in office, from time to time they have a great muster from all parts of the country to vote for the abolition of the malt tax. But when a Tory Government comes into office, the abolition of the malt tax is totally forgotten; and we have now had six years of a Tory Government without a word said, as far as I can recoiled—and my friend in the chair could correct me if I were wrong—without a motion made, or a vote taken, on the subject of the malt tax. The malt tax, great and important as it is, is small in reference to Protection. Gentlemen, it is a very serious matter indeed if we ought to go back to Protection, because how did we come out of Protection to Free-trade? We came out of it by a struggle which in its crisis threatened to convulse the country, which occupied Parliaments upon which elections turned, which took up twenty years of our legislative life, which broke up parties. In a word, it effected a change so serious that if, after the manner in which we effected that change, it be right that we should go back upon our steps, then all I can say is that we must lose that which has ever been one of the most honourable distinctions of British [unclear: legis]
lation in the general estimation of the world—that British legislation, if it moves slowly, always moves in one direction—that we never go back upon our steps. But are we such children that after spending twenty years—as may say from 1840 to 1860—in breaking down the huge fabric of Protection, in 1879 we are seriously to set about building it up again? If that be right, gentlemen, let it be done, but it will involve on our part a most humiliating confession. In my opinion it is not right. Protection, however, [unclear: le]
me point out, now is asked for in two forms, and I am next going to quote Lord Beaconsfield for the purpose of expressing my concurrence with him Mostly, I am bound to say, as far as my knowledge goes, Protection has not been asked for by the agricultural interest, certainly not by the farmers of Scotland. It has been asked for by certain injudicious cliques and classes' persons connected with other industries—connected with some manufacturing industries. They want to have duties laid upon manufactures. But here Lord Beaconsfield said—and I cordially agree with him—that he would be no party to the institution of a system in which Protection was to be given to manufactures and to be refused to agriculture. That one-sided Protection I deem be totally intolerable, and I reject it even at the threshold as unworthy of a won of examination or discussion. But let us go on to two-sided Protection, and see whether that is any better—that is to say, Protection in the shape of duties on manufactures, and Protection in the shape of duties upon corn, duties upon meat, duties upon butter, and cheese, and eggs, and everything that can be produced from the land. Now, gentlemen, in order to see whether we can here find a remedy for our difficulties, I prefer to speculation and mere abstract
The argument against Protection is based upon experience.
argument the method of reverting to experience. Experience [unclear: wi]
give us very distinct lessons upon this matter. We have the power gentlemen, of going back to the time when Protection was in [unclear: fu]
and unchecked force, and of examining the effect which it produced upon the wealth of the country. How, will you say, do I mean to [unclear: te]
that wealth? I mean to test that wealth by the exports of the country, and I we tell you why, because your prosperity depends upon the wealth of your customers—that is to say, upon their capacity to buy what you produce. And why are your customers? Your customers are the industrial population of the country, who produce what we export, and send all over the world. Consequently, when exports increase, your customers are doing a large business, as growing wealthy, are putting money in their pockets, and are able to take the
money out of their pockets in order to fill their stomachs with what you produce. When, on the contrary, exports do not increase, your customers are poor, your prices go down, as you have felt within the last few years, in the price of meat for example, and in other things, and your condition is proportionally depressed. Now, gentlemen, down to the year 1842 no profane hand had been laid upon the august fabric of Protection. For recollect that the farmers' friends always I told us it was a very august fabric, and that if you pulled it down it would involve the ruin of the country. That, you remember, was the commonplace of every Tory speech delivered from a county hustings to a farming constituency. But before 1842 another agency had come into force,
The effect of the introduction of railways.
which gave new life in a very considerable degree to the industry of the country, and that was the agency of railways, of improved communication, which shortened distance and cheapened transit, and effected in that way an enormous economical gain and addition to the wealth of the country. Therefore, in order to see what we owe to our friend Protection, I will not allow that friend to take credit for what was done by railways in improving the wealth of the country. I will go to the time when I may say there were virtually no railways—that is, the time before 1830. Now, gentlemen, here are the official facts which I shall lay before you in the simplest form, and, remember, using round numbers. I do that because, although round numbers cannot be absolutely accurate, they are easy for the memory to take in, and they involve no material error, no falsification of the case. In the year 1800, gentlemen, the exports of British produce were 39½ millions sterling in value. The population at that time—no, I will not speak of the exact figure of the population, because I have not got it for the three kingdoms. In the years 1826 to 1830—that is, after a medium period of eight-and-twenty years—the average of our exports for those five years, which had been 39½ millions in 1800, was 37 millions. It is fair to admit that in 1800 the currency was somewhat less sound, and therefore I am quite willing to admit that the 37 millions probably meant as much in value as the 39½ millions; but substantially, gentlemen, the trade of the country was
Trade was stationary under Protection.
stationary, practically stationary, under Protection. The condition of the people grew, if possible, rather worse than better. The wealth of the country was nearly stationary. But now I show you what Protection produced; that it made no addition, it gave no onward movement to the profits of those who are your customers. But on their profits you depend; because under all circumstances, gentlemen, this, I think, nobody will dispute—a considerable portion of what the Englishman or the Scotsman produces will, some way or other, find its way down his throat. What has been
What has happened since we cast off Protection.
the case, gentlemen, since we cast off the superstition of Protection, since we discarded the imposture of Protection? I will tell you what happened between 1830, when there were no railways, and 1842, when no change, no important change, had been made as to Protection, but when the railway system was in operation, hardly in Scotland, but in England to a very great extent; to a very considerable extent upon the main lines of communication. The exports, which in 1830 had been somewhere about £
37,000,000, between 1840 and 1842 showed an average amount of £
50,000,000. That seems due, gentlemen, to the agency of railways; and I wish you to bear in mind the increasing benefit now derived from that agency, in order that I may not claim any undue credit for freedom of trade. From 1842, gentlemen, onwards, the successive stages of Free-trade began; in 1842, in 1845, 1846, in 1853, and again in 1860, the large measures were carried which have completely reformed your Customs tariff, and reduced it from a taxation of twelve hundred articles to a taxation of, I think, less than twelve. Now under the system of Protection, the export trade of the country, the wealth and the power of the manufacturing and producing classes to purchase your agricultural products, did not increase at all. In the time when railways began to be in operation
but before Free-trade, the exports of the country increased, as I have shown you, by £
13,000,000 in somewhere about thirteen years—that is to say, taking it roughly, at the rate of £
1,000,000 a year. But since 1842, and down to the present time, we have had, along with railways always increasing their benefits we have had the successive adoption of Free-trade measures, and what has been the state of the export business of the country? It has risen in this degree that that which from 1840 to 1842 averaged £
50,000,000, from 1873 to 1878 averaged £
218,000,000. Instead of increasing, as it had done between 1830 and 1842, when railways only were at work, at the rate of £
1,000,000 a year, in
The average increase of exports under Protection and Free-trade compared.
stead of remaining stagnant as it did when the country was under Protection pure and simple, with no augmentation of the export trade to enlarge the means of those who buy your products, the total growth in a period of thirty-five years was no less than £
168,000,000, or, taking it roughly, a growth in the export trade of the country to the extent of between £
4,000,000 and £
5,000,000 a year But, gentlemen, you know the fact, you know very well, that while restriction was in force you did not get the prices that you have been getting for the last twenty years. The price of wheat has been much the same as it had been before. The price of oats is a better price than was to be had on the average of protective times. But the price, with the exception of wheat, of almost every agricultural commodity, the price of wool, the price of meat, the price of cheese the price of everything that the soil produces, has been largely increased in market free and open to the world, because while the artificial advantage which you got through Protection, as it was supposed to be an advantage, was re moved, you were brought into that free and open market, and the energy of Free-trade so enlarged the buying capacity of your customers, that they [unclear: wen]
willing and able to give you, and did give you, a great deal more for you meat, your wool, and your products in general, than you would ever have [unclear: go]
under the system of Protection. Gentlemen, if that be true—and it cannot, believe, be impeached or impugned—if that be true, I do not think I need further discuss the matter, especially when so many other matters have to be discussed.
I will therefore ask you again to cross the seas with me. I see that time is
flying onwards, and, gentlemen, it is very hard upon you to be so much vexed upon the subject of policy abroad. You think generally and I think, that your domestic affairs are quite enough to call for all your attention. There was a saying of an ancient Greek orator, who, unfortunately, very much undervalued what we generally call the better portion of the community—namely, women; he made a very disrespectful observation, which I am going to quote—not for the purpose of concurring with it, but for the purpose of a illustration. Pericles, the great Athenian statesman, said with regard to woman Their greatest merit was to be never heard of. Now, what Pericles untrul said of women, I am very much disposed to say of foreign affairs—their great merit would be to be never heard of. Unfortunately, instead of being never heard of, they are always heard of, and you hear almost of nothing else; and cannot promise you, gentlemen, that you will be relieved from this everlasting din, because the consequences of an unwise meddling with foreign affairs an consequences that will for some time necessarily continue to trouble you, an that will find their way to your pockets in the shape of increased taxation Gentlemen, with that apology I ask you again to go with me beyond the seas.
The right principles of foreign policy.
And as I wish to do full justice I will tell you what I think to be the right principles of foreign policy; and then, as far as your patiend and my strength will permit, 1 will, at any rate for a short time illustrate those right principles by some of the departures from them that have taken place of late years. I first give you, gentlemen, what I think the right principles of foreign policy. The first thing is to foster the strength of the
Empire by just legislation and economy at home, thereby producing two of the great elements of national power—namely, wealth, which is a physical
(1) Just legislation and economy.
element, and union and contentment, which are moral elements—and to reserve the strength of the Empire, to reserve the expenditure of that strength for great and worthy occasions abroad. Here is my first principle of foreign policy: good government at home. My
(2) To maintain the concert of Europe
second principle of foreign policy is this—that its aim ought to be to preserve to the nations of the world—and especially were it but for shame, when we recollect the sacred name we bear as Christians, especially to the Christian nations of the world—the blessings of peace. That is my second principle. My third principle is this—Even, gentlemen, when you do a good thing, you may do it in so bad a way that you may entirely
(3) To maintain the concert of Europe.
spoil the beneficial effect; and if we were to make ourselves the apostles of peace in the sense of conveying to the minds of other nations that we thought ourselves more entitled to an opinion on that subject than they are, or to deny their rights—well, very likely we should destroy the whole value of our doctrines. In my opinion the third sound principle is this—to strive to cultivate and maintain, ay, to the very uttermost, what is called the concert of Europe; to keep the Powers of Europe in union together. And why? Because by keeping all, in union together you neutralize and fetter and bind up the selfish aims of each. I am not here to flatter either England or any of them. They have selfish aims, as, unfortunately, we in late years have too sadly shown that we too have had selfish aims; but their common action is fatal to selfish aims. Common action means common objects; and the only objects for which you can unite together the Powers of Europe are objects connected with the common good of them all. That, gentlemen, is my third principle of foreign policy. My fourth principle is that you should
(4) To avoid needless engagements.
avoid needless and entangling engagements. You may boast about them, you may brag about them. You may say you are procuring consideration for the country. You may say that an Englishman can now hold up his head among the nations. You may say that he is now not in the hands of a Liberal Ministry, who thought of nothing but pounds, shillings, and pence. But what does all this come to, gentlemen? It comes to this, that you are increasing your engagements without increasing your strength; and if you increase engagements without increasing strength, you diminish strength, you abolish strength; you really reduce the Empire and do not increase it.
(5) To acknowledge the equa rights of all nations.
You render it less capable of performing its duties; you render it an inheritance less precious to hand on to future generations. My fifth principle is this, gentlemen, to acknowledge the equal rights of all nations. You may sympathize with one nation more than another. Nay, you must sympathize in certain circumstances with one nation more than another. You sympathize most with those nations, as a rule, with which you have the closest connection in language, in blood, and in religion, or whose circumstances at the time seem to give the strongest claim to sympathy. But in point of right all are equal, and you have no right to set up a system under which one of them is to be placed under moral suspicion or espionage, or to be made the constant subject of invective. If you do that, but especially if you claim for yourself a superiority, a pharisaical superiority over the whole of them, then I say you may talk about your patriotism if you please, but you are a misjudging friend of your country, and in undermining the basis of the esteem and respect of other people for your country you are in reality inflicting the severest injury upon it. I have now given you, gentlemen, five principles of foreign policy. Let me give you a sixth, and then I have done.
And that sixth is, that in my opinion foreign policy, subject to all the limitations that I have described, the foreign policy of England should always be inspired by the love of freedom. There should be a sympathy with
reedom, a desire to give it scope, founded not upon visionary ideas, but upon the long experience of many generations within the shores of this happy isle, that in freedom you lay the firmest foundations both of loyalty and order; the firmest foundations for the development of individual character, and the best provision for the happiness of the nation at large. In the foreign policy of this country the name of Canning ever will be honoured. The name of Russell ever will be honoured. The name of Palmerston ever will be honoured by those who recollect the erection of the Kingdom of Belgium, and the union of the disjoined provinces of Italy. It is that sympathy, not a sympathy with disorder, but, on the contrary, founded upon the deepest and most profound love of order—it is that sympathy which, in my opinion, ought to be the very atmosphere, in which a Foreign Secretary of England ought to live and to move.
Gentlemen, it is impossible for me to do more to-day that to attempt very slight illustrations of those principles. But in uttering those principles I have put myself in a position in which no one is entitled to tell me—you will bear me out in what I say—that I simply object to the acts of others, and lay down no rules of action myself. I am not only prepared to show what are the rules of action which in my judgment are the right rules, but I am prepared to apply them, nor will I shrink from their application. I will take, gentlemen, the name which, most of all others, is associated with suspicion, and with alarm, and with hatred in the minds of many Englishmen—I will take the name of Russia.
and at once I will tell you what I think about Russia, and how I am prepared as a member of Parliament to proceed in anything that respects Russia. You have heard me, gentlemen, denounced sometimes, I believe, as a Russian spy, sometimes as a Russian agent, sometimes as perhaps a Russian fool, which is not so bad, but still not very desirable. But, gentlemen, when you come to evidence, the worst thing that I have ever seen quoted out of any speech or writing of mine about Russia is that I did one day say, or, I believe, I wrote, these terrible words: I recommended Englishmen to imitate Russia in her good deeds. Was not that a terrible proposition? I cannot recede from it. I think we ought to imitate Russia in her good deeds, and if the good deeds be few. I am sorry for it, but I am not the less disposed on that account to imitate them when they come. I will now tell you what I think just about Russia. I make it one of my charges against the foreign policy of her Majesty's Government, that while they have completely estranged from this country—let us not conceal the fact—the feelings of a nation of eighty millions, for that is the number of the subjects of the Russian Empire—while they have contrived completely to estrange the feelings of that nation, they have aggrandized the power of Russia. They have aggrandized the power of Russia in two ways, which I will state with perfect distinctness. They have augmented
The Government have alienated and at the same time aggrandized Russia.
her territory. Before the European Powers met at Berlin Lord Salisbury met with Count Schouvaloff, and Lord Salisbury agreed that, unless he could convince Russia by his arguments in the open Congress of Berlin, he would support the restoration to the despotic power of Russia of that country north of the Danube which at the moment constituted a portion of the free State of Roumania. Why gentlemen, what had been done by the Liberal Government, which, forsooth attended to nothing but pounds, shillings, and pence? The Liberal Government had driven Russia back from the Danube. Russia, which was a Danubian Power before the Crimean war, lost this position on the Danube by the Crimean war, and the Tory Government, which has been incensing and inflaming you against Russia, yet nevertheless, by binding itself beforehand to support,
The retrocession of Bessarabia.
when the judgment was taken, the restoration of that country to Russia, has aggrandized the power of Russia. It further aggrandized the power of Russia in Armenia; but I would not dwell upon that matter f it were not for a very strange circumstance. You know that an Armenian
province was given to Russia after the war, but about that I own to you I have very much less feeling of objection. I have objected from the first vehemently and in every form to the granting of territory on the Danube to Russia, and carrying back the population of a certain country from a free State to a despotic State; but with regard to the transfer of a certain portion of the Armenian people from the government of Turkey to the government of
The annexation of Armenia.
Russia, I must own that I contemplate that transfer with much greater equanimity. I have no fear myself of the territorial extensions of Russia in Asia, no fear of them whatever. I think the fears are no better than old women's fears. I do not wish to encourage her aggressive tendencies in Asia, or anywhere else. But I admit it may be, and probably is, the case that there is some benefit attending the transfer of a portion of Armenia from Turkey to Russia. But here is a very strange fact. You know that that
The provisions of the Berlin Treaty as to Batoum.
portion of Armenia includes the port of Batoum. Lord Salisbury has lately stated to the country that by the Treaty of Berlin the port of Batoum is to be only a commercial port. If the Treaty of Berlin stated that it was to be only a commercial port, which of course could not be made an arsenal, that fact would be very important. But happily, gentlemen, although treaties are concealed from us nowadays as long as and as often as is possible, the Treaty of Berlin is an open instrument. We can consult it for ourselves; and when we consult the Treaty of Berlin, we find it states that Batoum shall be essentially a commercial port, but not that it shall be only a commercial port. Why, gentlemen, Leith is essentially a commercial port, but there is nothing to prevent the people of this country, if in their wisdom or their folly they should think fit—from constituting Leith as a great naval arsenal or fortification, and there is nothing to prevent the Emperor of Russia, while leaving to Batoum a character that shall be essentially commercial, from joining with that another character, that is not in the slightest degree excluded by the treaty, and making it as much as he pleases a port of military defence. Therefore I challenge the assertion of Lord Salisbury; and as Lord Salisbury is fond of writing letters to the Times
, to bring the Duke of Argyll to book, he perhaps will be kind enough to write another letter to the Times
and tell in what clause of the Treaty of Berlin he finds it written that the port of Batoum shall be only a commercial port. For the present, I simply leave it on record that he has misrepresented the Treaty of Berlin. With respect to Russia, I take two views of the position of Russia. The
Russian policy in Central Asia.
position of Russia in Central Asia I believe to be one that has in the main been forced upon her against her will. She has been compelled—and this is the impartial opinion of the world—she has been compelled to extend her frontier southward in Central Asia by causes in some degree analogous to, but certainly more stringent and imperative than, the causes which have commonly led us to extend, in a far more important manner, our frontier in India, and I think it, gentlemen, much to the credit of the late Government, much to the honour of Lord Clarendon and Lord Granville, that when we were in office we made a covenant with Russia, in which Russia bound herself to exercise no influence or interference whatever in Afghanistan, we, on the other hand, making known our desire that Afghanistan should continue free and independent. Both the Powers acted with uniform strictness and fidelity upon this engagement until the day when we were removed from office. But Russia, gentlemen, has another position—her position in respect to Turkey; and here it is that I
Russian policy in respect to Turkey.
have complained of the Government for aggrandizing the power of Russia; it is on this point that I most complain. The policy of her Majesty's Government was a policy of repelling and repudiating the Slavonic populations of Turkey in Europe, and of declining to make England the advocate for their interests. Nay, more, she became in their view
British policy in the East.
the advocate of the interests opposed to theirs. Indeed she was
rather the decided advocate of Turkey; and now Turkey is full of loud complaints—and complaints, I must say, not unjust—that we allured her on to her ruin; that we gave the Turks a right to believe that we should support them; that our Ambassadors, Sir Henry Elliot and Sir Austin Layard, both of them said we had most vital interests in maintaining Turkey as it was, and consequently the Turks thought if we had vital interests, we should certainly defend them; and they were thereby lured on into that ruinous, cruel, and destructive war with Russia. But by our conduct to the Slavonic populations we alienated those populations from us. We made our name odious
Its effect on the Slavonic populations.
among them. They had every disposition to sympathize with us, every disposition to confide in us. They are as a people desirous of freedom, desirous of self-government, with no aggressive views, but hating the idea of being absorbed in a huge despotic empire like Russia. But when they found that we, and the other Powers of Europe under our unfortunate guidance, declined to become in any manner their champions in defence of the rights of life, of property, and of female honour—when they found that there was no call which could find its way to the heart of England through its Government, or to the hearts of the other Powers, and that Russia alone was disposed to fight for them, why, naturally they said, Russia is our friend. We have done everything, gentlemen, in our power to drive these populations into the arms of Russia. If Russia has aggressive dispositions in the direction of Turkey—and I think it probable that she may have them—it is we who have laid the ground upon which Russia may make her march to the south—we who have taught the Bulgarians, the Servians, the Roumanians, the Montenegrins that there is one Power in Europe, and only one, which is ready to support in act and by the sword her professions of sympathy with the oppressed populations of Turkey. That Power is Russia; and how can you blame these people if, in such circumstances, they are disposed to say, Russia is our friend? But why did we make them say it? Simply because of the policy of the Government, not because of the wishes of the people of this country. Gentlemen, this is the most dangerous form of aggrandizing Russia. If Russia is aggressive anywhere, if Russia is formidable anywhere, it is by movements towards the south, it is by schemes for acquiring command of the Straits or of Constantinople, and there is no way by which you can possibly so much assist her in giving reality to these designs as by inducing and disposing the populations of these provinces, who are now in virtual possession of them, to look upon Russia as their champion and their friend, to look upon England as their disguised, perhaps, but yet real and effective enemy. Why now, gentlemen, I have said that I think it not unreasonable either to believe, or at any rate to admit
it to be possible, that Russia has aggressive designs in the east of Europe. I do not mean immediate aggressive designs. I do not believe that the Emperor of Russia is a man of aggressive schemes or policy. It is that, looking to that question in the long run, looking at what has happened and what may happen in ten or twenty years, in one generation, in two generations, it is highly probable that in some circumstances Russia may develop aggressive tendencies towards the south. Perhaps you will say I am here guilty of the same injustice to Russia that I have been deprecating, because I say that we ought not to adopt the method of condemning anybody without cause, and setting up exceptional principles in proscription of a particular nation. Gentlemen, I will explain to you in a moment the principle upon which I act, and the grounds upon which I form my judgment. They are simply these grounds: I look at the position of Russia, the geographical position of Russia relatively to Turkey. I look at the comparative strength of the two Empires; I look at the importance of the Dardanelles and the Bosporos as an exit and a channel for the military and commercial marine of Russia to the Mediterranean, and, what I say to myself is this, If the United Kingdom were in the same position.
relatively to Turkey which Russia holds upon the map of the globe, I feel quite sure that we should be very apt indeed both to entertain and to execute aggressive designs upon Turkey. Gentlemen, I will go further, and will frankly own to you that I believe if we, instead of happily inhabiting this island, had been in the possession of the Russian territory, and in the circumstances of the Russian people, we should most likely have eaten up Turkey long ago. And consequently, in saying that Russia ought to be vigilantly watched in that quarter, I am only applying to her the rule which in parallel circumstances I feel convinced ought to be applied, and would be justly applied, to judgments upon our own country.
Gentlemen, there is only one other point on which I must say a few words to you, although there are a great many points upon which I have a great many words yet to say somewhere or other. Of all the principles, gentlemen, of foreign policy which I have enumerated, that to which I attach the greatest value is the principle of the equality of nations; because, without recognising
The equality of nations is a strict principle of foreign policy.
that principle, there is no such thing as public right, and without public international right there is no instrument available for settling the transactions of mankind except material force. Consequently the principle of equality among nations lies, in my opinion, at the very basis and root of a Christian civilization, and when that principle is compromised or abandoned, with it must depart our hopes of tranquillity and of progress for mankind. I am sorry to say, gentlemen, that I feel it my absolute duty to make this charge against the foreign policy under which we have
The present foreign policy is regardless of public right.
lived for the last two years, since the resignation of Lord Derby. It has been a foreign policy, in my opinion, wholly, or to a perilous extent, unregardful of public right, and it has been founded upon the basis of a false, I think an arrogant, and a dangerous assumption—although I do not question its being made conscientiously and for what was believed the advantage of the country—an untrue, arrogant, and dangerous assumption that we were entitled to assume for ourselves some dignity, which we should also be entitled to withhold from others, and to claim on our own part authority to do things which we would not permit to be done by others. For example, when Russia was going to the Congress at Berlin, we said, "Your Treaty of San Stefano is of no value. It is an act between you and Turkey; but the concerns of Turkey by the Treaty of Paris are the concerns of Europe at large. We insist upon it that the whole of your Treaty of San Stefano shall be submitted to the Congress at Berlin, that they may judge how far to open it in each and every one of its points, because the concerns of Turkey are the common concerns of the Powers of Europe acting in concert." Having asserted that principle to the world, what did we do? These two things, gentlemen: secretly, without the knowledge of Parliament, without even the forms of official procedure, Lord Salisbury met Count Schouvaloff in London, and agreed with him upon the terms on which the two Powers together should be bound
The secret agreement with Russia.
in honour to one another to act upon all the most important points when they came before the Congress at Berlin. Having alleged against Russia that she should not be allowed to settle Turkish affairs with Turkey, because they were but two Powers, and these affairs were the common affairs of Europe, and of European interest; we then got Count Schouvaloff into a private room, and on the part of England and Russia, they being but two Powers, we settled a large number of the most important of these affairs, in utter contempt and derogation of the very principle for which the Government had been contending for months before, for which they had asked Parliament to grant a sum of £
6,000,000, for which they had spent that £
6,000,000 in needless and mischievous armaments. That which we would not allow Russia to do with Turkey, because we pleaded the rights of Europe, we ourselves did with Russia, in contempt of the rights of Europe. Nor was that all, gentlemen.
That act was done, I think, on one of the last days of May in the year 1878, and the document was published, made known to the world, made known to the Congress at Berlin, to its infinite astonishment, unless I am very greatly misinformed, to its infinite astonishment. But that was not all. Nearly at the same
The secret agreement with Turkey.
time we performed the same operation in another quarter. We objected to a treaty between Russia and Turkey as having no authority, though that treaty was made in the light of day—namely, to the Treaty of San Stefano; and what did we do? We went not in the light of day, but in the darkness of the night—not in the knowledge and cognizance of other Powers, all of whom would have had the faculty and means of watching all along, and of preparing and taking their own objections and shaping their own policy—not in the light of day, but in the darkness of the night, we sent the Ambassador of England in Constantinople to the Minister of Turkey, and there he framed, even while the Congress of Berlin was sitting to determine these matters of common interest, he framed that which is too famous shall I say, or rather too notorious as the Anglo-Turkish Convention. Gentlemen, it is said, and said truly, that truth beats fiction; that what happens in fact from time to time is of a character so daring, so strange, that if the novelist were to imagine it and to put it upon his pages the whole world would reject it from its improbability. And that is the case of the Anglo-Turkish Convention. For who would have believed it possible that we should assert before the world the principle that Europe only could deal with the affairs of the Turkish Empire, and should ask Parliament for six millions to support us in asserting that principle, should send Ministers to Berlin, who declared that unless that principle was acted upon they would go to war with the material that Parliament had placed in their hands, and should at the same time be concluding a separate agreement with Turkey, under which those matters of European jurisdiction were coolly transferred to English jurisdiction; and the whole matter was
sealed with the worthless bribe of the possession and administration of the island of Cyprus? I said, gentlemen, the worthless bribe of the island of Cyprus, and that is the truth. It is worthless for our purposes, worse than worthless for our purposes—not worthless in itself; an island of resources, an island of natural capabilities, provided they are allowed to develop themselves in the course of circumstances, without violent and unprincipled methods of action. But Cyprus was not thought to be worthless by those who accepted it as a bribe. On the contrary, you were told that it was to secure the road to India; you were told that it was to be the site of an arsenal very cheaply made, and more valuable than Malta; you were told that it was to revive trade. And a multitude of companies were formed, and sent agents and capital to Cyprus, and some of them, I fear, grievously burned their fingers there. I am not going to dwell upon that now. What I have in view is not the particular merits of Cyprus; but the illustration that I have given you in the case of the agreement of Lord Salisbury with Count Schouvaloff, and in the case of the Anglo-Turkish Convention, of the manner in which we have asserted for ourselves a principle that we had denied to others—namely, the principle of overriding the European authority of the Treaty of Paris, and taking the matters which that treaty gave to Europe into our own separate jurisdiction.
Now, gentlemen, I am sorry to find that that which I call the pharisaical
The speech of Lord Beacons field at the Guildhall.
assertion of our own superiority has found its way alike into the practice and seemingly into the theories of the Government. I am not going to assert anything which is not known, but the Prime Minister has said that there is one day in the year—namely, the 9th of November, Lord Mayor's Day—on which the language of sense and truth is to be heard amidst the surrounding din of idle rumours generated and fledged in the brains of irresponsible scribes. I do not agree, gentlemen, in that panegyric upon the 9th of November. I am much more apt to compare the 9th of
November—certainly a well-known day in the year—but as to some of the speeches that have lately been made upon it, I am very much disposed to compare it with another day in the year, well known to British tradition; and that other day in the year is the 1st of April. But, gentlemen, on that day the Prime Minister, speaking out—I do not question for a moment his own sincere opinion—made what I think one of the most unhappy and ominous allusions ever made by a Minister of this country. He quoted certain words, easily rendered as "Empire and Liberty"—words (he said) of a
Roman statesman, words descriptive of the state of Rome—and he quoted them as words which were capable of legitimate application to the position and circumstances of England. I join issue with the Prime Minister upon that subject; and I affirm that nothing can be more fundamentally unsound, more practically ruinous, than the establishment of Roman analogies for the guidance of British policy. What, gentlemen, was Rome? Rome was, indeed, an Imperial State, you may tell me—I know not, I cannot read the counsels of Providence—a State having a mission to subdue the world; but a State whose very basis it was to deny the equal rights, to proscribe the independent existence of other nations. That, gentlemen, was the Roman idea. It has been partially and not ill described in three lines of a translation from Virgil by our great poet Dryden, which run as follows:—
O Rome! 'tis thine alone with awful sway
To rule mankind, and make the world obey,
Disposing peace and war thine own majestic way."
We are told to fall back upon this example. No doubt the word "Empire" was qualified with the word "Liberty." But what did the two words, "Liberty" and "Empire," mean in a Roman mouth? They meant simply this—"Liberty for ourselves, Empire over the rest of mankind."
I do not think, gentlemen, that this Ministry, or any other Ministry, is going to place us in the position of Rome. What I object to is the revival of
The policy of denying to others what we claim ourselves.
the idea—I care not how feebly, I care not even how, from a philosophic or historic point of view, how ridiculous the attempt at this revival may be. I say it indicates an intention—I say it indicates a frame of mind, and that frame of mind, unfortunately, I find, has been consistent with the policy of which I have given you some illustrations—the policy of denying to others the rights that we claim ourselves. No doubt, gentlemen, Rome may have had its work to do, and Rome did its work. But modern times have brought a different state of things. Modern times have established a sisterhood of nations, equal, independent; each of them built up under that legitimate defence which public law affords to every nation, living within its own borders, and seeking to perform its own affairs; but if one thing more than another has been detestable to Europe, it has been the appearance upon the stage from time to time of men who, even in the times of the Christian civilization, have been thought to aim at universal dominion. It was this aggressive disposition on the part of Louis XIV., King of France, that led your forefathers, gentlemen, freely to spend their blood and treasure in a
We have fought to resist such pretensions.
cause not immediately their own, and to struggle against the method of policy which, having Paris for its centre, seemed to aim at an universal monarchy. It was the very same thing, a century and a half later, which was the charge launched, and justly launched, against Napoleon, that under his dominion France was not content even with her extended limits, but Germany, and Italy, and Spain, apparently without any limit to this pestilent and pernicious process, were to be brought under the dominion or influence of France, and national equality was to be trampled under foot, and national rights denied. For that reason, England in the struggle almost exhausted herself, greatly impoverished her people, brought upon herself, and Scotland too, the consequences of a debt that nearly crushed their energies, and poured
forth their best blood without limit, in order to resist and put down these intolerable pretensions. Gentlemen, it is but in a pale and weak and almost despicable miniature that such ideas are now set up, but you will observe that
Nations are united in common bonds of right and of absolute equality.
the poison lies—that the poison and the mischief lie—in the principle and not the scale. It is the opposite principle, which, I say, has been compromised by the action of the Ministry, and which I call upon you, and upon any who choose to hear my views, to vindicate when the day of our elections comes; I mean the sound and the sacred principle that Christendom is formed of a band of nations who are united to one another in the bonds of right; that they are without distinction, of great and small: there is an absolute equality between them, the same sacredness defends the narrow limits of Belgium, as attaches to the extended frontiers of Russia, or Germany, or France. I hold that he who by act or word brings that principle into peril or disparagement, however honest his intentions may be, places himself in the position of one inflicting—I will not say intending to inflict—I ascribe nothing of the sort—but inflicting injury upon his own country, and endangering the peace and all the most fundamental interests of Christian society.
A vote of thanks to Mr. Gladstone was moved by Mr. Young of Kelly and Limefield, and carried amid loud cheers.
On Friday, November 28th, an address was presented to Mr. Gladstone at Dalmeny Park by the Corporation of Leith, and in the afternoon the members of the Executive Committee of the Midlothian Liberal Association were received by the Countess of Rosebery.