VIII. Friday, December 5th, 1879.
Speech in st, Andrew's Hall, Glasgow,
On Friday morning Mr. Gladstone delivered to the students at the University his address as Lord Rector, and subsequently took luncheon at the University
with the Senatus Academicus. Mr. Gladstone then returned to the residence of Sir James Watson, where he remained till the hour fixed for the public meeting in St. Andrew's Hall.
This great meeting was composed of nearly 6000 persons, the great majority standing in the area of the hall, from which, in order to accommodate a larger number, all the seats had been removed. At half-past five Mr. Gladstone left the house of Sir James Watson, his host, and, amid loud cheers from crowds collected along the route, drove to the Hall.
There a reception certainly in no degree less enthusiastic than any the right honourable gentleman had received in Scotland awaited him.
Among those who occupied places on the platform were: The Earls of Breadalbane, Airlie, and Rosebery, Lord Napier and Ettrick; Right Hon. W. P. Adam, M.P.; Sir T. E. Colebrooke, Bart., M.P.; Dr. Charles Cameron, M.P.; Mr. George Anderson, M.P,; Mr. Charles Tennant, M.P.; Mr. W. H. Gladstone, M.P.; Colonel Mure, M.P.; Mr. R. W. Duff, M.P.; Mr. William Holms, M.P.,; Mr. James Stewart, M.P.; J. W. Burns of Kilmahew, Donald Currie, H. E. Crum-Ewing, J. B. Balfour, advocate; John M'Larcn, advocate, etc. etc.
Lord Breadalbane introduced Mr. Gladstone, whom the audience greeted with loud and prolonged cheering. He said:—
My Lord Breadalbane, my Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen,—I meet you, I hope, this evening under good auspices. I mean, in the first place, the auspices of the noble Lord who has taken the chair, and who, representing an illustrious family in Scotland, promises to walk in the steps of those distinguished noblemen who have given to aristocracy its true and most permanent strength throughout the land, by associating it at every point with the liberties and privileges of the people. Under good auspices, because the feeling of the people of Scotland, which has been exhibited during the last fortnight in a manner not to be mistaken, has, I think, nowhere arrived at a more forcible expression than in the city of Glasgow, and in the great Hall where we are now assembled.
I wish, gentlemen, that I felt myself worthy and capable of doing justice to an occasion, which I describe as a good and a great occasion. But I find that the work in hand, instead of dwindling as I proceed, always seems to grow, from day to day. The subject is so large, the points to be argued so unusual, I may say, though it is not a very significant portion of the case, that I should have liked, with regard to one or two even insignificant points, even small
The creation of a new Civil Service Commissionership.
points, such, for example, as that which related to the creation of a new Civil Service Commissioner ship and to Lord Hampton, had time permitted, to show to you that I spoke within the bounds of truth in the matter which I stated, and that the character which I attached to that transaction was warranted by its nature. But I cannot detain you on that subject. There is, however, another matter, on which comment has been made, that I cannot pass without notice. It is, gentlemen, the question of dissolutions of Parliament, and of the ordinary life of a Parliament. The reason why I cannot pass this by is because it bears in an important manner on our present position. My argument is that there must be some reason why, in
The ordinary duration of a Parliament.
the face of an established usage, the Government do not advise the Sovereign to dissolve the Parliament; and I can find no reason except one, and that is, that they fear the verdict of the people. I am met, gentlemen, by the assertion that there is no such usage. It might, perhaps, be sufficient for me to fall back upon the declaration—the published declaration—of the two highest authorities on constitutional matters—one of them Mr. Hallam; the other, happily still spared to us, Sir Thomas Erskine May. Both of these have declared that six years, and not seven, are the established modern rule for the duration of Parliaments. But, gentlemen, there has been a cavil, and I must say a quibble, in this matter. The word session has been
taken advantage of. The word session has a technical meaning. Everything that follows a prorogation, and that ends with a prorogation, is a session, although it should only last seven days. I had not time—I had other matter to deal with—I could not enter into the technical account of a session. But what I tell you is this, gentlemen, that there is not a case upon record since the Reform Act—that is to say, that there is no case within fifty years, and I am of opinion that there is no real case for fifty years before that—in which one and the same Parliament has approached the work of seven integral or real sessions. Now, that is the question, and that is the point of usage. Remember, we in the present Parliament have now done the work of six integral sessions. We are told by agents of the Government that we are to sit for another twelve months. The meaning is, we are to go through a seventh integral session. Two cases are quoted against me—one is that of 1841, the other that of 1859.
The duration of Parliaments in 1841 and 1850.
In neither of them did the Parliament perform the work of seven integral sessions. What they did was this: In 1841, and again in 1859, the old Parliament was dissolved in the middle of a session,—near the close of it,—but before the necessary work of the annual session had been accomplished. I will not dwell upon 1859, because the two cases are virtually identical, and we have no time to spare.
In the session of 1841 the Government of the day had been declared by a vote of the House of Commons to have lost its confidence. The consequence was that it was impossible for that Government to ask for the supplies for twelve months. Accordingly, they took the supplies for three months, and they dissolved the Parliament, I think, in the month of June. Why, after that, you will see yourselves it was matter of absolute necessity that the Parliament should meet after the dissolution, should determine who should be the Ministers, and, having come to that determination, should vote the annual supplies for the Government that had its confidence. That is exactly what was done; and that having been done, the Parliament separated. Technically that was a session, but really and in substance it was no session at all. It was simply winding up what remained undone of the essential, necessary, formal business of the year. Why, gentlemen, if I found my way into a shop in Glasgow, and took part along with the young men when they were putting away the goods in the evening for the night, you would not call that serving for the day in the shop—and yet that is just as much serving for the day in the shop as those pretended sessions—that is to say, those technical and formal sessions—are real sessions in the sense that we have now before us.
I return, then, to my point. I do not detain you on the case of 1859, which is substantially just the same; but I return to my point, and I say—no Parliament, at any rate for the last fifty years—I will not detain you with complicated explanations on the earlier case of the Parliament of 1820, long before the Reform Act—no Parliament under the modern system of Government, which dates from the Reform Bill, has ever done more than the regular work of six sessions. There must therefore be a reason why the Government, deviating from rule and usage, are going, as they say, to give us a seventh. There can be but one reason, and that is, that they dread condemnation by the people, and dismissal from their offices.
Now, gentlemen, I frankly own to you one of the motives that has led me, in coming to Glasgow, to undertake addressing you on political subjects, after it might well be supposed that the patience of all Scotland was thoroughly exhausted in listening to me, has been that in this constituency, placed as it is by Act of Parliament in a peculiar position, I might venture humbly to point out to you the enormous importance of your holding together.
The three-cornered representation of Glasgow
The three-cornered representation is eminently adverse to the expression—the clear and effective expression—of the interests of a majority. Where there is, as there is in Glasgow, a very large
majority, it may well happen that that large majority shall fail to command the three seats; and if they do not the effect is this, that though you may be three to one compared with your Conservative opponents, yet in your representation by your three members one neutralizes the other, and Glasgow, this vast community, has virtually but one representative. Gentlemen, I will not go over the commonplaces, though they are very important commonplaces, respecting the tendency of the Liberal party to defeat its own objects by allowing the attachment of an undue importance to aims which are partial and which are sectional;
The necessity for united action.
but this I will say, that if we cannot be brought to act heartily together, and to make great sacrifices of our own personal and sectional views, in a crisis like this, if the picture that the Empire and that the world now present to us does not at this moment drive home upon the breast the consciousness of that great necessity of union, I for my part should despair; I should say the evil was incurable. And in that case, what is the result? The result is this, that the Liberal party, although, as I think, a decided and a considerable majority of the whole people of the country, would be handed over for another six years, or perhaps, gentlemen, for another seven years, to that under which I believe we have been for the last six years, namely, the domination of what is really a minority of the constituencies of the country.
Well now, gentlemen, I must endeavour to-night, with your permission, to present to you one or two more touches of that picture. You have been told that there is no picture at all which need excite the uneasiness of anybody. It is all owing to Liberal prejudice; and when the great voice was raised three years ago from earth to heaven against the horrors that were enacted in the Turkish Empire, you were asked, and you are now asked, to believe that that was no better than a party manoeuvre. We have said that we never compound the sense of party with the duties of humanity; but foolish indeed it would have been if, because we were a party, we were to have renounced our obedience to those duties.
An illustration of the connection between the objects of party and the duties of humanity.
But who are they that appear to make a combination of the kind? Gentlemen, we have lately had the most extraordinary illustration that ever met my eyes—and, in truth, unless it had met my eyes I should have said it had been quite impossible—with respect to the connection between the objects of party and the duties of humanity. Such illustrations are not to be drawn from within the Liberal precincts. This comes, gentlemen, from the opposite camp. I will not quote, I would not venture to quote a statement such as I am going to read from the Daily News
, or the Echo
, or the Scotsman
, but I am going to quote it where I am safe in my source. I am going to quote it from the Standard
and the Times
. Gentlemen, you know well that we have heard much of the efforts that have lately been made to induce the Turkish Government to amend the condition of the Christians in Asia Minor; and you are aware that the menace of sending Admiral Hornby to the East with a British fleet has been averted; and averted how? By authorizing Baker Pasha to make a tour of inspection through that country,
The recent dissatisfaction of the Government with the Turkish delay to carry out promised reforms.
and to write a paper embodying an account of what he may have seen! But how came, gentlemen, this extraordinary zeal. I quote from the Standard
of November 29th, and I think it was in the Times
of November 19th. It appears that there was dissatisfaction on the part of the English Government with the Turkish Government; and two despatches, says the correspondent of the Standard
,—two despatches were written to Musurus Pasha in order to disarm the displeasure of Great Britain. The first despatch did not contain any matter which appears to require our particular attention, but the second despatch was one which, it appears, has been published in a foreign newspaper called the Political Correspondence
, and I am going to read to you the passage as I find it in the Standard
. This is the apology of the Turkish Government, and the promise of the Turkish Government by which it averted the displeasure,
apparently, of the English Government, and made it ready to accept the declarations so transmitted: "The Porte must certainly acknowledge that the position of the English Cabinet would be extremely difficult if the promised reforms are not immediately introduced. On the other hand, the Sultan's Ministers lay great stress on the maintenance of the Beaconsfield Cabinet." As I by, gentlemen, I interpolate a few words; and I recommend every Tory candidate in Glasgow and elsewhere to print at the head of his address, in capital letters at least, perhaps it ought to be done in letters of gold, these words which I have just read, "The Sultan's Ministers lay great stress
The Turks regard the intentions of the prevent Cabinet, as benevolent for their Empire.
on the maintenance of the Beaconsfield Cabinet,"—I resume the perusal—"which has given so many proofs of its benevolent intentions for the Turkish Empire. It also is not unknown to the Porte that a Liberal English Cabinet would make common cause with Russia and the other enemies of Turkey. The Cabinet, presided over by Said Pasha, therefore recognises that its fate, and that of Turkey itself, is connected with the maintenance of the Conservative Cabinet in England; and, therefore, has decided on lightening the task of her Majesty's Ministers by introducing without delay the reforms which are needed." Therefore it appears that the motive of the reforms which Turkey has promised is to improve the position of the Beaconsfield Cabinet at the general election; and the nature of those reforms is summed up to you in this, that Baker Pasha is to travel through Asia Minor, and to write a paper describing what he sees. In the Times the connection with party interests was still more largely assumed by the Turkish Government. And I must say I think that exhibition of facts proceeding from their friends in Turkey, and casting so strange a light on the origin of the recent movement professedly on behalf of the Christian population, ought to meet with some explanation from the Tory party generally, and from the Ministers of the Crown.
But now, gentlemen, it may be said, and it has been said, they have been exerting themselves to procure reform; why do not you give them credit for so exerting themselves? I will give you the answer. I will assume that they have been so exerting themselves; I will assume, if you like, that their exertions have not had reference, as the Turkish Government in the Times was made to say they had, to the coming dissolution. What, then, have they been about? They have been about a single-handed advocacy of the interests of
A single-handed advocacy of the interests of the Christians in Turkey.
the Christians in a portion of the Turkish Empire, and have threatened to support that single-handed advocacy by force. That would be the statement of the case, as they themselves would make it. Now, gentlemen, I want you to remember this. Why did you make the Crimean war? You made the Crimean war purposely to prevent that single-handed advocacy on the part of Russia. Russia said in 1853, by the mouth of Prince Menschikoff, "We demand from the Porte a Convention which shall enable us to enforce the redress of Christian grievances, and, if they are not redressed, to resort to force." For that declaration you made war against Russia. For the same declaration you are now asked to give credit to the Government. And why, gentlemen, was this done in 1853, and done with the general and enthusiastic consent of the country? Because it was felt that all this single-handed advocacy was full of danger, that it excited the jealousy of Europe, that it gave scope for selfish intrigue, that there was no security of its efficacy for its purpose, that it laid down exceptional rules on
behalf of particular Powers, and thereby tended to subvert the public law of Europe. These grounds were the very grounds you thought fit to make war in 1853, and they are exactly the grounds upon which, and modes of action to which, you are now asked to accord confidence and praise.
After, with a perverse obstinacy, difficult to understand, the concert of Europe had once and again been broken up by the action of the Government,
this attempt at single-handed advocacy is that for which they are now claiming praise. Hut, gentlemen, with regard to this single-handed advocacy, there is more in the case than I have stated.
I told the people of Midlothian, in my letter of acceptance, that one of the charges against her Majesty's Government, which had repeatedly been made, but which had not been, and which could not be answered, was the breach of the public law of Europe. I am here to make good that charge, and to make it good by a brief, and, I hope, intelligible exposition. This interference in Asia Minor,—of which all I can say is this, that, right or wrong, I should be very glad if any good results are produced, whatever I may think of the means,—this interference in Asia Minor purports to be justified by what is called the Anglo-Turkish Convention. I will not inquire whether it is so supported, but I will assume it in favour of the Government, for the sake of the argument. My
The Anglo-Turkish Convention was a gross breach of the public law of Europe.
contention is that the Anglo-Turkish Convention was in itself a gross and open breach, or rather a gross and manifest breach, of the public law of Europe. I corrected myself at the word "open," for open it was not. It was secret and clandestine. But why was it a breach of the public law of Europe? Because, by the Treaty of Paris, the result of the Crimean war, it was solemnly enacted that everything that pertained to the integrity and independence of Turkey, and to the relations between the Sultan and his subjects, was matter, not for the cognizance of one particular Power, but for the joint cognizance of the great Powers of Europe. And what did we do in 1878? When the Russian war with Turkey came to a close, we held Russia rigidly to that principle, and we were right in so holding her. We insisted that the treaty she had made should be subject to the review of Europe, and that Europe should be entitled to give a final judgment on those matters which fell within the scope of the Treaty of Paris. We did that, and we even wasted six millions in warlike preparations for giving effect to that declaration. We then brought together at Berlin, or assisted to bring together at Berlin, the powers of Europe for the purpose of exercising this supreme jurisdiction; and while they were there, while they were at work, and without the knowledge of any one among them except Turkey, we extorted from the Sultan of Turkey,—I am afraid by threatening him with abandoning the advocacy of his cause before the Congress,—we extorted from the Sultan of Turkey the Anglo-Turkish Convention. But the Anglo-Turkish Convention was a Convention which aimed at giving us power, in the teeth of the Treaty of Paris, to interfere between the Sultan and his subjects; and it was a Convention which virtually severed from his empire the possession of the island of Cyprus.
It interfered with the integrity of the Sultan's dominions. It violated the Treaty of Paris.
It interfered with the integrity. It interfered with the independence. It broke the Treaty of Paris, and the Treaty of Paris was the public law of Europe.
Now, gentlemen, I will proceed with as much rapidity as I can; but I have yet a word to say upon the subject of Cyprus. I want you briefly to contrast in your minds the promises that were made to you about Cyprus, and the position in which those promises now stand. What was Cyprus to be, gentlemen? You recollect the exultation that went abroad throughout the land at the time when the virtual acquisition was announced. What was
The Government and Cyprus.
Cyprus to be? Why, in the first place, it was to be a naval harbour, better than the harbour and arsenal of Malta. That was a declaration which, unless I am much mistaken, proceeded on a solemn occasion from the mouth of the Prime Minister. And not only so, but you were to have this wonderful harbour with great rapidity, for, on the 28th July 1878, or 23rd July 1878 the Prime Minister made a promise to the House of Lords in these words:—"By
this time next year"—that is, July 1879—"your Lordships will find that there are ports sufficient to accommodate British ships;" that means, of course, British ships of war. There is no such port.
There is not the slightest prospect of such a port. They are not making such a port. They have no money to make such a port. I have no doubt that if you will give them some millions of your money,—that money, the total store of which they have not much contributed to increase,—if you will give them some millions of your money, in time they will make a port there, or anywhere else. And most probably, gentlemen, it will turn out, when made, to be like the port of Alderney. There we were assured, that if we would spend a few hundred thousand pounds—we were told by the unanimous opinion of all the military, naval, scientific, engineering authorities—we should have an admirable harbour that would seal up the port of Cherbourg. Gentlemen, we spent, not a few hundred thousands, but a few millions; we made a ruinous place useless, I believe, for any purpose of commerce or of war; and the port of Cherbourg is as open as it ever was. So much for the harbour in Cyprus. But it was also to be a place of arms. There was there to be a great military force that was to overawe Russia, and was in case of need to march across the mountains of Asia Minor, I suppose by the aid of the instrument which used to be called seven-league boots; and to intimidate Russia on the Armenian frontier. Is it, gentlemen, a place of arms? Well, it is a place of arms, but it is a
place, I believe, only of the arms of about 200 men. They began, indeed, with sacrificing the health of some thousands of British troops in Cyprus; but they knew very well that could not be continued. That would not serve on the hustings, nor would it serve for any other good purpose. So, instead of being a place of arms, it is a place in which we have not a force sufficient to defend it against the meanest armament that ever undertook the most trivial operation.
But besides this, gentlemen, there was another object to be gained by the possession of Cyprus, and that was—it was to be a safeguard of
Cyprus a safeguard of the road to India.
the road to India. Now I want to say a word, if you will allow me, upon this safe-guarding of the road to India. I want to know what is the meaning of that claim. In the principles of foreign policy, gentlemen, as I have professed them from my youth, it is a fundamental article that we are to set up no claim for ourselves which we do not allow to others, and that he who departs from that principle is committing treason against public law, and the peace and order of the world. What is the meaning of safeguarding the road to India? It seems to mean this; that a little island at one end of the world, having possessed itself of an enormous territory at the other end of the world, is entitled to say with respect to every land and every sea lying between its own shores and any part of that enormous possession, that it has a preferential right to the possession or control of that intermediate territory, in order, as it is called, to safe-guard the road to India. That, gentlemen, is a monstrous claim.
We have no title with regard to any land or any sea, other than that within the allegiance of her Majesty, except titles equal to those of all other Powers. Do not suppose that I am saying that the route to India is a matter of no importance. This doctrine of safe-guarding the road to India
This doctrine bogan with the Suez Canal.
began with the purchase of the shares in the Suez Canal, and I must say that manœuvre was most successful. I do not deny, I confess with sorrow, that though I with some others resisted it from the first, it was admirably devised for hoodwinking the people of the country, for catching them on their weak side; and it did carry with it undoubtedly approval at the time. But, gentlemen, it was a mere delusion. No doubt the Suez Canal is of importance; but if war breaks out, and if the channel of the Suez Canal becomes vital or material to your communications with India, you will not
The Suez Canal can only be secured by naval supremacy.
secure it one bit the better because you have been foolish enough to acquire a certain number of shares in the Canal. You must secure it by the strong hand. You must secure it by the superiority of your naval power. That superiority would secure it
whether you are a proprietor in the Canal or not, and will not secure it a bit the better because you have chosen to complicate your already too complicated transactions with a new financial operation of that ridiculous description.
But, gentlemen, suppose that I am entirely wrong; suppose purchase of the shares in the Suez Canal was the desire of the consummate human wisdom; suppose that you are entitled to lay hands on all the countries that lie between you and India, under the pretext of what is called safe-guarding the road to India. Does the island of Cyprus safe-guard the road to India? Nothing of the sort, gentlemen. It is 300 miles off the road to India. How in the world, if the question of maintaining the road to India depends upon possessing the Suez Canal, how in the world are you the better by choosing to encumber yourselves with the trust and the defence of a foreign island, with people of another race not sympathizing in your purposes, not connected with your nationality, and lying more than 300 miles from the point—not simply from the point, but off the route to the point—where your naval force is to be applied? Well,
Cyprus Is a "valueless encumbrance."
gentlemen, the truth is this, that Cyprus is to us—whatever it may be in itself, it is to us a valueless encumbrance. The getting of it offended Europe. The getting of it, I do not hesitate to say, was even a wrong to Turkey. The governing of it by despotic means has been dishonourable to the British Power; and the fact that it is valueless docs not in the least exempt us from the responsibility of the transaction. No doubt it was a possession gotten by a clandestine treaty, in violation of public law; and whether it be precious, or whether it be worthless, if it was so gotten by clandestine means and in breach of public law, the getting of it is a deed as much tainted with secrecy and corruption as was that which sent forth Gehazi from the presence of Elisha a leper white as snow.
I might, gentlemen, quote to you an important authority upon that subject, the authority of Sir Samuel Baker, a traveller of great courage and enterprise, well and honourably known to us by his researches and his discoveries in Africa; but I will not detain you. It is certainly remarkable that he should give his authority, as he has done in a recent and interesting work, against, entirely against, the possession of Cyprus on the footing on which we now hold it; because he is a gentleman who evidently in the main agrees with the principles of what have been called the Jingo party in this country. Therefore his evidence is the more remarkable; but I will not detain you further on this head.
I have another matter on which I wish to speak. It is one on which 1 have
as yet, hardly opened my mouth in Scotland. It is the question, gentlemen, of India, and of Afghanistan. Now there is, I think, a great propriety in speaking of India before a Glasgow audience. I find a most legitimate ground for the assertion of that propriety in the great interests connected with India that subsist in Glasgow. You will recollect, gentlemen, that on a former occasion a Conservative Government gave a most emphatic acknowledgment of the title of Glasgow to be heard on Indian matters. It was in the year 1858 that a Government bearing that title brought in a bill for the government of India, which was considered at the time to be of a highly comic description. If you remember, there were to be in the Indian Council four members who were to be chosen for that Council by the £
10 householders of Liverpool, of Manchester, if I recollect aright, of Belfast, and of Glasgow. In virtue of many titles, gentlemen, I ask you to consider with me what has been and what is going on in India. Very faintly and imperfectly, indeed, can I on this occasion open up the question; but yet I hope to say something which may serve to draw your attention to it, and to beget in the minds of some the conviction that unless an effectual attention be given to that portion of her Majesty's dominions by others than those who are now in the direction of affairs, the greatest danger overhangs our connection with India, and with that danger the greatest dishonour that this country can undergo, in the failure to fulfil the
most arduous and perhaps the noblest trust, that ever was undertaken by a nation.
Gentlemen, about three or four years ago Parliament was asked, and Parliament consented, to supersede the title under which up to that time her Majesty, whom God preserve, had governed the whole of her dominions, so far as India was concerned, by empowering her to assume the title of Empress
Thè title of Empress of India.
of India. Well, gentlemen, I am not about to reargue the matters, which were largely discussed with respect to the policy of the assumption of that title. We thought it partook in a measure of those theatrical elements, which have since been much more fully and much more ruinously developed. But I will now assume that it was right; and if it was right, gentlemen, I call upon you to agree with me in this, that in order to complete the transaction, that assumption of a higher title ought to have been accompanied, in the face of the vast Indian people, by increase of franchise or of privilege, by augmentation of benefit, by redress of grievances and correction of abuse. Is that the course of government which has since been pursued in India?
I must call your attention, gentlemen, to three, or rather to four topics, on none of which will I dwell with the particularity that their importance deserves. The first of them is what was called "The Arms Act." This was
one of the early accompaniments of the assumption of the title of Empress. Before that time the importation of arms, and the use of gunpowder and other explosives, had been cither wholly or to a great extent free in India. It was most desirable that that freedom should not be restricted or withdrawn. First, because special laws for the restraint of the possession of arms always indicate a mistrust of the people; and the assumption of the Queen's title of Empress had been accompanied with the most high-sounding declarations as to her confidence in the universal loyalty of the people and the chiefs of India. Next to that it is important, because in India the possession of arms is necessary for a cause of which we know nothing in this country—for the defence of the people against dangers to life, which you will understand when I tell you that I believe, according to a moderate estimate, no less than 20,000 persons lose their lives every year in India by wild beasts and serpents. It was, thirdly, desirable that this use should be free, because commercial enterprise, such as public works, railroads, and almost every engineering work depends in a large degree upon the large use of explosive material; and I have had the most striking statements of the impediments, which have been placed in the way of enterprise in India, from gentlemen whose case I cannot know, but who state it in a manner that commands attention, and invites assent. I have had these statements, showing how this mischievous Act, as it appears to me, restricts the application of capital, and the development of industry and of useful works in India.
Gentlemen, the next head is, in my judgment, yet more serious. Half a century, or very nearly half a century, has elapsed since Lord William Bentinck, whom Glasgow did herself the honour of sending to Parliament,
The freedom of the native press in India.
when he was appointed—I believe it may be more than half a century since—Governor-General of India, conferred upon the popular press of that country practical freedom. That freedom never was misused. That freedom was not a freedom to be eyed with jealousy. It was of immense advantage to us. The difficulty of every superior race which has to exercise political domination, and which wishes to exercise it well, is this—that timidity checks the full expression of opinion, and that those who rule cannot get at the true mind and meaning and desires of those who are ruled. This native press was invaluable for the purpose of giving insight into the native mind; but, a very short time after the assumption of the title of Empress, when benefit and franchise ought to have been enlarged in India in every way that
Viceroys of India to obliterate from recollection by good deeds and kindly treatment, and the resolute endeavour to restore their confidence in a people whose historical relations with the Afghan country had been marked with so dark a stain. Much had been done in that sense. Distrust had greatly disappeared. The Afghan rulers were disposed to cling to us. No doubt the last of them, Shere Ali, whom we have sent in sorrow to his grave, endeavoured at times, as civilized Powers too will do, to make the most of his connection with us. But he never committed an offence against us; he never gave us the
It wa our wilful action alone that raised the cause of quarrel.
slightest cause even for distrust of his ultimate intentions. It was our wilful action, and our wilful action alone, that raised the cause of quarrel. And, gentlemen, what is true of Cyprus on a small scale, is true of Afghanistan on a greater scale. The fact that the result of our enterprise is nothing to ourselves but mischief and embarrassment, does not in the slightest degree redeem us from the charge of a guilty cupidity under which that enterprise was undertaken.
Now, gentlemen, what happened? There were two gentlemen, men of distinguished names, who supported the Indian policy of advance into Afghanistan. Who were they? Sir Henry Rawlinson and Sir Bartle Frere. These were the two great authorities. Sir Henry Rawlinson was, I believe, a distinguished officer; he is a scientific man—a man of high character and great ability. Sir Bartle Frere, except that I believe he is entirely a civilian, deserves the ascription to him of all those qualities in the highest degree. But neither the one nor the other has ever been in a position of real responsibility; neither the one nor the other has ever imbibed, from actual acquaintance with British institutions, the spirit by which British government ought to be regulated and controlled. That they are men of benevolence I do not doubt; but I am afraid they are gentlemen who are apt, in giving scope to their benevolent motives, to take into their own hands the choice of means in a manner which those who are conversant with free government and with responsible government never would dream of. Sir Bartle Frere's mode of action at the Cape of Good Hope does not tend to accredit his advice in Afghanistan. Against these two gentlemen there are the judgments of all the Viceroys from Lord Ellenborough to Lord Mayo, of most distinguished generals, of a whole host of Indian authorities, and of responsible British statesmen.
Well, now, gentlemen, what has been our conduct to the late Ameer of
Our conduct to Shere Ali.
Afghanistan? We were bound by treaty to that Ameer—the treaty of 1857, made by Sir John Lawrence. We were bound, and admitted, I think, by every Viceroy down to Lord Northbrook to be bound, not to force upon Shere Ali the reception of British envoys of European birth. Remember this, gentlemen; there never was the least difficulty about having envoys at the Court of Shere Ali. Shere Ali was perfectly willing to receive native envoys, because he could receive native envoys—men of his own religion—without their exciting jealousy; and consequently the lives of those envoys were perfectly safe. He did not receive our native envoy; it was Lord Lytton's wilful act that withdrew him. But after what had happened before, Shere Ali, wiser far than we, remonstrated against the attempt to send British envoys into Afghanistan, for he said it was impossible to answer
The sending of an Envoy to Cabul.
for their safety. But we insisted on sending our British envoys. Nay, even that did not satisfy us; for when in 1857 the subject was discussed between Sir Lewis Pelly on our part, and the Minister of Shere Ali, it was known to the Viceroy, or apprehended by him after the death of his Minister, that the Ameer, in his terror and despair, was sending a new envoy to concede all our demands rather than quarrel with us; and with that fact in his view the conferences were closed, and Shere Ali was not permitted even the opportunity of making this mischievous and forced concession.
And why, gentlemen, did we make war upon Shere Ali? I will now read to
you in the fewest words two declarations—two sentences, one from the speech of one of the confidential advisers of the Crown, and another from the speech of another of those advisers. Lord Cairns, a man of great ability, said in the House of Lords in the Afghan debate—I believe I quote the report correctly—"We are not going to war with Afghanistan for receiving a Russian envoy. We are going to war with him for not receiving our envoy." While Lord Cairns gave that account in the House of Lords, another Minister is said to have given the following account in the House of Commons: "We did not quarrel with the Ameer because he did not receive the British Mission at Cabul;
The contradictory reasons given for the quarrel.
we quarrelled with him for having received the Russian Mission at Cabul with great pomp." This contradiction, gentlemen, may well amuse you. I am not at all surprised at it. It appears to me that gentlemen who undertake to justify policy like the Afghan policy must of necessity, unless their stars be highly favourable to them, fall into many contradictions. But I want to ask you which of those two reasons do you prefer; which do you think is the best? Lord Cairns has said to us, we are going to war with him for not receiving our envoy. But, in the first place, it is an understood principle of public law that nobody has a right to fasten an envoy upon an independent ruler, and the declarations of the Government—the declaration especially of Sir Stafford Northcote as lately as twelve months ago—was that the object of their policy was to make Afghanistan free, strong, friendly, and independent. You see how that policy has been fulfilled. But you had no title to force an envoy upon Shere Ali. Does, then, Lord John Manners relieve us from our embarrassment by giving us a better reason than the lame reason of Lord Cairns? He says we made war because the Ameer received a Russian Mission at Cabul with great pomp. Why did he receive the Russian Mission? Because the Russian Government, as a measure of hostility to us, most unjustifiably as regards the Ameer, when they apprehended a quarrel with England, sent word to the Ameer that he must receive their Embassy. It was impossible for the Ameer to resist. He received that Embassy under compulsion. He did no wrong, therefore, in receiving it if under compulsion. But supposing he had done wrong, which was the greater offender—the feeble Ameer who received the Embassy of Russia because he could not help it, or the great White Czar, the Emperor of all the Russias, who forced him to receive that Embassy? And what was our conduct? You have heard much, gentlemen, about a vigorous foreign policy and a spirited foreign policy. A meaner act, a shabbier act, a more dastardly act is not to be found upon record than that by which this Government, forbearing to punish Russia, forbearing even to remonstrate with Russia—that is to say, accepting from Russia the most feeble and transparent excuses with an ostensible satisfaction—reserved all its force and all its vengeance for the unfortunate Ameer of Afghanistan. And, gentlemen, is not the result worthy of the origin? Some credit has been given by some writers to us, who took part in strong protestation, from the first, against those most iniquitous proceedings, for having prophesied their disastrous result. There was no merit in those prophecies. The deeds done were deeds that could have none other but a disastrous result.
If you failed in Afghanistan, I mean in a military sense, which was most improbable—your permanent military failure almost impossible—if you failed in Afghanistan, even for a time, you disgraced yourselves in the eyes of the world, and lost that military repute and credit which undoubtedly is of the highest importance to an Asiatic Power. But if you succeeded in Afghanistan, you broke Afghanistan to pieces. The barrier—the firm barrier,
The Government has destroyed the barrier between Russia and us.
well defended by its mountain ranges—which we and which former Governments had striven to place between Russian and English possessions, now exists no more. Afghanistan is no longer a kingdom. Province after province has broken away. You are in possession of
its most important strongholds to the south and to the east. Other persons are in possession of its severed fractions in other quarters; and your possession—useless, fruitless, hopeless—brings upon you a large military charge which you do not dare to ask the people of England and of Scotland and of Ireland to pay, and which you are imposing, with an injustice never surpassed in the history of the world, on the impoverished population of India.
Well, gentlemen, what then is the general upshot of this review in which I have been engaged since I came to Scotland; which I have had, I feel it more than any can, no power adequately to conduct, but yet which I hope I have not gone through without bringing out into the light, and bringing home to the mind and the heart, some truths at least which it is material for this nation to
A summary of our position now under a Tory Government.
know? What is the general upshot? Let us look at it together. I will use the fewest words. We have finance in confusion; we have legislation in intolerable arrear; we have honour compromised by the breach of public law; we have public distress aggravated by the destruction of confidence; we have Russia aggrandized and yet estranged; we have Turkey befriended as we say, but mutilated, and sinking every day; we have Europe restless and disturbed; Europe, which, after the Treaty of Paris, at all events so far as the Eastern Question was concerned,
had something like rest for a period approaching twenty years, has, almost ere the ink of the Treaty of Berlin is dry, been agitated from end to end with rumours and alarms, so that on the last 10th of November we were told that the Prime Minister thought that peace might be preserved, but on the previous 9th of November—namely, four months after the Treaty—
it had been much more doubtful. In Africa you have before you the memory of bloodshed, of military disaster, the record of 10,000 Zulus—such is the computation of Bishop Colenso—slain for no other offence than their attempt to defend against your artillery with their naked bodies their hearths and homes, their wives and families. You have the invasion
The annexation of the Transvaal.
of a free people in the Transvaal; and you have, I fear, in one quarter or another,—I will not enter into details, which might be injurious to the public interest,—prospects of further disturbance and shedding
of blood. You have Afghanistan ruined; you have India not advanced, but thrown back in government, subjected to heavy and unjust charges, subjected to what may well be termed, in comparison with the mild government of former years, a system of oppression; and with all this you have had at home, in matters which I will not now detail, the law broken, and the rights of Parliament invaded. Gentlemen, amidst the whole of this pestilent activity—for so I must call it—this distress and bloodshed which we have either produced or largely shared in producing, not in one instance down to the Treaty of Berlin, and down to the war in Afghanistan,—not in one instance did we either do a deed or speak an effectual word on behalf of liberty. Such is the upshot, gentlemen, of the sad enumeration. To call this policy Conservative is, in my opinion, a pure mockery, and an abuse of terms. Whatever it may be in its motive, it is in its result disloyal, it is in its essence thoroughly subversive. There is no democrat, there in no agitator, there is no propounder of anti-rent doctrines, whatever mischief he may do, who can compare in mischief with possessors of authority who thus invert and who thus degrade the principles of free government in the British Empire. Gentlemen, I wish to end as I began. Is this the way, or is this not the way, in which a free nation, inhabiting these islands, wishes to be governed? Will the people, be it now or be it months hence, ratify the deeds that have been done, and assume upon themselves that tremendous responsibility? The whole humble aim, gentlemen, of my proceedings has been to bring home, as far as was in my power, this great question to the mind and to the conscience of the community at large. If I cannot decide the issue—and of course I have no power to decide it—I wish at least to
endeavour to make it understood by those who can. And I cherish the hope that
"When the hurly-burly's done,
When the battle's lost and won,"
I may be able to bear home with me at least this consolation, that I have spared no effort to mark the point at which the roads divide,—the one path which plunges into suffering, discredit, and dishonour; the other which slowly, perhaps, but surely, leads a free and a high-minded people towards the blessed ends of prosperity and justice, of liberty and peace.