A Policy of Shrinkage.
Bemrose & Sons, Printers London: 23, Old Bailey; and Derby.
The Demonstration at Mikes Hall.*
The Conservative demonstration which took place at Raikes Hall on Friday last, was a significant witness to the vitality of Conservatism in the Fylde, and the party leaders are greatly to be congratulated on the results which attended their efforts to promote the success of the undertaking. With a wise insight, steps had been taken to make the gathering representative of this section of the division, and, as a consequence, the meeting itself was of especial value by reason of the presence of large contingents from Fleetwood and the rural districts. The Theatre was crowded to its utmost capacity—the number of people present being between 3,000 and 4,000. Hundreds, however, were unable to gain admission, and the gardens were therefore well filled in other parts. The procession which was formed in Queen's Square, under the control of Mr. J. Turnbull, reached the pavilion by way of Church Street, and with the accompanying bands proved an enlivening prelude to the speechmaking. The arrangements for the meeting were conducted by the local committee, and so far as we could see and hear, the proceedings were satisfactorily consummated. Letters of apology for inability to page 4 be present were received by Mr. H. H. Wainwright from Mr E. Birley, J.P., Mr. W. H. Cocker, J.F., Mr. T. Cain, J.P., Mr H. J. Gilbertson, J.P., Mr. T. Miller (Singleton), Rev. H. A James, D.D., Mr. Sidney Harrison, Mr. J. Bowker. The Right Hon. F. A. Stanley, M.P., had purposed being present, but was hindered by the death of his uncle, which occurred a couple of days before the meeting. The only drawback to the completeness of the meeting was the enforced absence of Sir Henry Drumraond-Wolff, M.P. The bon. gentleman wrote to the Chairman, as under :—
October 16th, 1884.
My dear Mr, Wainwright,—It is with very great regret I am obliged to remove all hope of attending the meeting at Blackpool on Friday.
I have for a long time been very unwell, and my doctor has prohibited my speaking at any length, an injunction I am obliged to respect, especially on the eve of the assembly of Parliament.
I had really hoped to be better by this time, but both here and elsewhere I have been compelled to abstain from exertion.
Hoping that your meeting will prove a great success. I am, yours very truly,
Mr. H. H. Wainright, President of the Blackpool and Fylde Conservative Association, occupied the chair, and supporting him on the platform were Mr. H Chaplin, M.P. for Mid-Lincolnshire, Lieut-General Fielden, M.P. for North Lancashire, Mr. Tomlinson, M.P. for Preston, Mr. de Ricci, Conservative candidate for Bedford, Mr. H. C. Richards, Conservative candidate for Northampton, Mr. H. Byron Reed (Darlington), the Revs. N. S. Jeffrey, S. Y. B. Bradshaw, and J. Wilkinson (Blackpool), C. Pakes (Copp), L. C. Wood (Singleton), W. Richardson (Poulton). T. Meadows (Thornton), page 5 F. J. Dickson (Bispham), T. Terry (St. Anne's), R, S. Stoney (Wrea Green), Mr. H. Hall, J.P., Mr. E. Banks, J.P. (Carlisle), Mr. Alderman W. Bibby, J.P. (Chairman of Preston Conservative Association), Dr. Chapman, J.P. (Garstang), Mr. J. Long (Chairman of Preston Conservative Working Men's Club), Captain Hargreaves (Huddersfield), Aldermen M'Naughtan, Challoner, and Birch, Councillors Coulston, J. Bickerstaft, Broadbent, Buckley, Cardwell, Eaves, Mycock, and J. B. Fisher; and Messrs. it. Collinson (Garstang), G. Singleton (St. Michael's-on-Wyre), Dr. Fisher and R. Hutchinson (Great Eccleston), Dr. Winn, R. Poole, R. Silcock, J. Hodgson. S. Butler, and T. Lawrenson (Poulton), Brierly (Preston), Captain Jameson, T. M. Wearing, Spence, R. Edmondson, J. T. Marginson, W. Gaulter, and H. Smith (Fleetwood), Captain Ormsby (Rossall), J. Fisher and W. Fisher (Layton), and H. P. May, H. Riding, A. M. Viener, J. Grime, R. Gorst, J. Turnbull, J. E. Gibson, J. Harrison. J. Walker, Dr. Richardson, Dr. Anderson, C. P. Fish, J. Whitaker, J. Parkinson, J. Wilkinson, J. Worthington, H. Madcn, J. Finney, J. Gill, J. Pye, J. Braith-waite, G. Pye, &c. (Blackpool).— Extract from The Gazette and News, Blackpool, October 24, 1884.
A Policy of Shrinkage.
In Politics, what begins in fear,
Usually ends in foily.
"That this meeting desires to express its most emphatic condemnation of the home and foreign policy of the present Administration, which has entailed dishonour and discredit upon the British name abroad, and produced a vast increase of expenditure and discontent at home."
Mr. J. H. De Ricci addressed the meeting to this purpose:—
If there was one Policy more than another to which Mr. Gladstone pledged himself head over ears before coming into office in 1880, it was a Policy of Shrinkage !
In the August number of the Nineteenth Century, 1877, the right honble gentleman put the great weight of his authority into an assertion that "It will still remain an effort beyond, and almost against nature for some thirty or thirty-five millions of men "(i.e., Englishmen)" to bear in chief the burden of defending the countries inhabited by near three hundred millions."
In other words, Mr. Gladstone declared that our Umpire is too big for us.
This was the text which the right honourable gentlemen undertook by the force of his genius to drill into the heads of the proud citizens of the richest and mightiest empire the world has ever seen.
In the following year the eventful acquisition by England of that important strategical position, Cyprus, enabled Mr. Gladstone to discharge an apparently inexhaustible magazine of petulant invective against all who would not conform to the tenets of this parochial doctrine.
The right hon. gentleman's prolonged active service enabled page 7 him to denounce the new possession as "worthless as a, military post"*; and whether by pen or by word of mouth, he mono tonously cavilled at the lofty motives, vigorous statesmanship, and undoubted patriotism that won for England a place of Arms, commanding at the same time the Euphrates Valley and the Suez Canal, and destined, I venture to prophesy, to become one of the most famous of the line of strongholds guarding our highroad to India.
But let us enquire what are Mr. Gladstone's views regarding India!
Indeed, it is with such knowledge only that it would be possible to account for the inept persistency with which the right hon. gentleman inveighed, in each one of his Midlothian speeches delivered in 1879-80, with perhaps three exceptions, against the good fortune which enabled us, under the illustrious guidance ol Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury, to gather Cyprus undei the British flag.
The late determined advances of Russia in Central Asia, recall to our minds these events, inasmuch as the Convention of 1878, whereby wo acquired Cyprus, was entirely due to the annexations which Russia had then recently made in Asiatic Turkey.
It was feared that Ardahan, Kars, and Batoum might "become the base from which emissaries of intrigue "would" issue forth, to be followed in due time by invading armies "; that not only would .Armenia and Persia be translated into Muscovite satrapies, and tiras open up the easiest of all roads from Russia to India, via the Persian Gulf, but that England would be for ever debarred from availing herself of the Euphrates Valley route, and, moreover, the Suez Canal would be seriously menaced.
In these circumstances, Lord Salisbury informed the Sublime Porte, through our Ambassador, that further encroachments by Russia would be resisted, if necessary, by force of arms, on two conditions :
* Vide pp. 567 and 568, Nineteenth Century, September, 1878.
† Vide p. 578, Nineteenth Century, September, 1878.
‡ Vide p. 348, "Gleanings," Nineteenth Century, August, 1877.
Firstly—That the Porte would undertake to introduce reforms in the government of her Cliristian and other subjects in those regions; and
Secondly—That a suitable position should be assured to Great Britain, whence moral and military influence, if necessary, could make itself felt for the furtherance of these ends
Thus it became the paramount duty of whatever Party happened to be in power, not only under this Convention, but also on behalf of this country, as one of the Signatories of the Treaty of Berlin, to effectively press on the Porte the necessity for carrying out such reforms, in accordance with the stipulations set forth in the 23rd and 61st Articles of that Treaty.
In the result you will, perhaps, not be surprised to hear that next to nothing has been achieved.
The same want of sympathy between the Government of the Sultan and the Prime Minister, which made itself manifest in the decoration of Arabi Pasha at a time when he was supposed to be a rebel, and was in arms against England, we have only too good reason to believe yet exists.
The bag and baggage onslaughts made by Mr. Gladstone on Turkey have not been forgotten, and consequently, notwithstanding the powerful advocacy of the late brilliant representative of British interests at Stamboul, we are informed that bribery and corruption and extortion of every kind is generally practised; that justice is sold; Christians are oppressed, and crime is prevalent throughout the fair Provinces of Asiatic Turkey. Here was an occasion for the adequate discharge of a noble and Christian mission through the intermedium of the "European Concert." And who would not have thought that Mr. Gladstone, of all Statesmen, was the one most calculated to set such a machinery in motion? When his great rival, Lord Beaconsfield, was in power, he was never tired of invoking the great fetish of "Coercion by the united authority of Europe."* How is it, then, let us ask, that the right hon, gentleman has so palpably failed in these urgent conditions to efficaciously intervene on the behalf of oppressed and suffering peoples—an intervention demanded of him, alike by Imperial exigencies, International Treaty, and the obligation of his own repeated public professions?
* Vide First Midlothian Speeoh, page 27.
"The cordial relations which I hold with all the other powers of Europe will, I trust, enable me to promote, in concert with them, the early and complete fulfilment of the Treaty of Berlin with respect to the effectual reforms and equal laws in Turkey, as well as to such territorial questions as have not yet been settled in conformity with the provisions of that Treaty, I regard such a fulfilment as essential for the avoidance of further complications in the East."
But with Ireland in a condition so critical that not long since Mr. Trevelyan declared that the Queen's Government there was only separated from Civil War by the Queen's troops; with India agitated to such an alarming degree as we have not witnessed since the dark days of the Mutiny; with South Africa convulsed—Convention after Convention torn up and flung in our faces by the Boers, who, in cold blood, have foully murdered British subjects and Englishmen; who have even contemptuously threatened to horsewhip the British Forces, and from whom—we confess it to our shame—-it hay been found necessary, under this so-called Liberal Government, to hide the British Flag, to save it from further indignity and contumely; with Egypt in process of being relegated from prosperity to bankruptcy, and bankruptcy to barbarism—with what conscience, indeed, could the Prime Minister have questioned the Sublime Porte as to a state of things, which; after all, is of the growth of centuries, not like these other blots nearer home, the crying reproach, the disastrous outcome, of a brief Liberal Administration?
But Mr. Gladstone clearly had another way out of this grave difficulty, had he been so minded as to genuinely aet up to the virtuously indignant expatiations of Midlothian.
In his Glasgow speech, December 5th, 1879, the civilized world was authentically flabergasted by the confidence conveyed to it by Mr. Gladstone, that the Convention under which we obtained Cyprus was a "gross breach of the public law of Europe."
Fortunately for England, the public law of Europe depends upon and proceeds from the great Powers of Europe, not from Mr. Gladstone, and as none of those Powers had taken active exception to the Anglo-Turkish Convention signed on the 4th June, 1878, page 10 nor was its authority disputed in the Berlin Treaty, signed on the 13th July, 1878, all the force of this awry thrust against successful British diplomacy spent itself flaccidly in the spasmedic effort that gave it birth.
But, nevertheless, seeing Mr. Gladstone animated by such a solemn conviction, have not believing electors of the United Kingdom a right to expect that, at least in this contingency—a conlingency exposing this country "to all the military dangers and responsibilities of undertaking the defence of the Turkish frontier in Armenia,"* the successor of Lord Beaconsfield would do something to justify these everlasting outbursts of far-fetched morality? We have waited patiently for any such justification, but in vain; and we have all the more reason, perhaps, to be disappointed, from the fact that Mr. Gladstone having, when out of office, wantonly accused Conservatives of aggrandizing Russia in Armenia.† Once in office, the right hon, gentleman hastened, in the paragraph of the Queen's Speech I have already cited, not only to declare that the fulfilment of the Treaty of Berlin, which gave Batoum, Ardahan, and Kars to Russia, was essential for the avoidance of further complications in the East, but he has since studiously ignored the fact that england is merely entitled to remain in Cyprus so long as Russia holds these Armenian strongholds, lately in the possession of the Sublime Porte.‡ Surely Mr. Gladstone's fine ethical sense of "England's mission" cannot have become so completely warped by the mere possession of power as to make him doubt how much he might have advanced through the European concert towards the repairing a "broken European law," and the final abrogation of "a single-handed Convention with the Porte," containing "provisions most gravely affecting its integrity and independence in Asia." I have taken these last words from a contribution of Mr. Gladstone's in the September number of the Nineteeth Century, 1878.
And yet the stubborn fact remains, that the Prime Minister has practically accomplished nothing in this matter of common justice towards Turkey !
* Vide 2nd Midlothian Speech, Dalkeith, 26th November, 1879.
† Vide 3rd Midlothian Speech, 27th November, 1879.
‡ Vide Turkish Convention, 4th June, 1878, and Lord Salisbury's Dispatch, 30th May, 1878.
It is the state of our commercial relations in that part of the world.
In 1883, in round numbers, the position was this :—
About one-fifth of the British exports to Russia enters by way of her Southern ports, and if we take it that this proportion of exports supplies a corresponding proportion of Russian population, we find that, whereas, twenty-one millions of Turks—that is to say the total population of European and Asiatic Turkey—were purchasers of the produce of the United Kingdom to the extent of seven millions sterling, twenty-one millions of Russians were only purchasers of our goods to the paltry extent of eight hundred and seventy-four thousand pounds' worth in the same year.
Further, in these transactions we find that, while Turkey took, in 1883, not less than five millions sterling worth of English cotton goods, about equally divided between European and Asiatic Turkey, Russia through her Southern ports did not take more than the insignificant amount of one hundred and thirty-three thousand pounds' worth.
Thus you see, as affairs now stand, what an infinitely better market Turkey offers for British goods than Russia.
"No agent has been found more apt for the, progress of civilization than commercial relations."
These words are to be found in one of the last paragraphs of a circular dispatch addressed from St. Petersburgh on the 21st November, 1864 by the great Russian Chancellor, Prince Gortchakow, to Russian Representatives abroad.
This dispatch, moreover, definitely fixed the Southerly limits of Russian Empire in Asia as resting upon a frontier extending from the Syr-Daria to Lake Issyk-Kaul. Since that date Muscovite Southerly limits have unceasingly trended towards our great Indian dependency, until in that direction alone, a territory not page 12 less in extent than the total area of Great Britain and France has become absorbed. The scene, indeed, has changed from the strife of the churches in classic Palestine to strife with the Turkoman on the arid steppes of Central Asia; but, although the pretest is varied, the policy remains the same : we continue to see "beyond and above, towering high in the misty north," "The ambition of the Czars."
Mr. Gladstone, however, is apparently not of this opinion, for so lately even as March, 1880, he was at the pains of writing an elaborate review in unstinted praise of a book entitled "Russia and England," by the accomplished Russian authoress, O.K——, wherein he not only ridiculed the "necessity of guarding by decisive measures against the sleepless plots of Russian aggression," but he derided those who bad no faith in diplomatic neutral zones or such-like fanciful delimitations against encroachments, which experience had proved were as shifting as the very sands in which they were traced.
We now, unfortunately, know that, while Mr. Gladstone was thus perfervidly engaged in puffing the patriotism of Madame de Novikoff in the pages of the Nineteenth Century, at the expense of British diplomacy in the East, Russia was seriously occupied in receiving with open arms Shere Ali, the late Ameer of Afghanistan, who had been effectually alienated from us by Mr. Gladstone's previous Administration in 1878, and who, we have every reason to believe, was then engaged with his new friends in plotting a descent upon India.*
Since that date, and since Mr. Gladstone has been in office, we also, yet more unfortunately, know that the important strategical posts, Merv and Sarakhs, commanding roads respectively along the banks of the Murghab and Herri Rud rivers, and only within a few easy marches of Herat, have been annexed by Russia; and, what is yet more serious, a third alternative route, leading directly from the Caspian Sea, via the Attrek Valley, a new and easy highway to India, has been ceded to the Czar, under the terms of a Russo-Persian Treaty, signed in December, 1881, and which apparently was acquiesced in without a murmur by the Prime Minister.
* Vide Secret Correspondence between Shere Ali and the Russian General Kaufmann, discovered during the British occupation of Cabul.
Thus, while the public mind has been almost entirely diverted from these most serious events by Liberal meddle and muddle, elsewhere, both at home and abroad, there has been silently preparing for England another phase of the Eastern Question, which, although now is but a small cloud upon the political horizon, may at any moment develop to such alarming proportions, and assume an aspect so dark and threatening, as to imperil the very existence of our Indian Empire.
Fortunately, at this juncture we have this crumb of comfort, this ray of hope—-that these grave problems will soon engage the commanding attention of a statesman who possesses the complete confidence of his fellow-countrymen, whether as a great administrator or distinguished diplomatist—I mean Lord Duffer in, and who will doubtless speedily not only grasp that, if Herat is the gate of India, Persia is the key of that gate, but also that, if the labours of the present Boundary Commission are not like the "Entente cordiale," or "neutral zone," of 1873, to end in smoke, Russia must be prepared to put into practice the dictum I have quoted to you of Prince Gortchakow. In a word, effect must be given to the urgent necessity of establishing satisfactory commercial relations between this country and Russia in Central Asia, As to what the nature of those relations has hitherto been, you will be in a better position to judge when I remind you that the Financial Commissioner of the Punjaub reported in 1882, that when the country came under Russian administration, upon the death of the Emir of Bokhara, the markets of Central Asia were practically closed to Indian traders by the prohibitory character of the duties imposed.
But time is precious, and I will therefore pass to another striking evidence of the Liberal Policy of Shrinkage, touching an interest npon which wo have been lately reminded in a powerful speech by the late First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. W. H. Smith, the very life of this country depends—our Navy.
Briefly, the position of affairs in regard to our navy is this :—In 1862-63, the naval strength of the British Empire, if gauged by our ironclads, was twice as great as all the rest of the five other great Powers.
Since the days of Nelson and Trafalgar, our maritime supremacy has been unquestioned—we swept the seas.
The year 1882-83 found all this reversed. The navies of the other page 14 great Powers not only exceeded by two and a-half times the strength of the British navy, but the 'navy of one of those Powers alone, France, was so nearly equal in its capacity to our own navy, that to experts must be left the task of establishing that superiority iu favour of England which we must all devoutly hope and trust exists.
Meanwhile, let me give you one or two figures which will enable any one of you to estimate for himself how dangerously near the wind we have been sailing in the parsimonious policy which has so alarmingly attenuated the naval predominance of this country.
In 1882-83 the total displacement or tonnage of the ironclads of the British navy was 884,820 tons, while the French navy equalled 884,001 tons; thus the tonnage of the French navy exceeded the tonnage of the British navy by forty-nine thousand and odd tons.
On the other hand, we find that the average thickness of the armour of the French men-of-war was only 7¼-inchcs as against the average of 7½-inches of our British ironclads; and, moreover, we can claim 76,296 greater horse-power than the French can for their ironclads.
In the matter of guns, it is perhaps difficult to form any pronounced opinion upon the armaments of the respective navies, but let us not forget that it has been categorically asserted, apparently on excellent authority, in the columns of that representative Liberal organ, the Pall Mall Gazette, and never denied, that we are behind France in the power of our guns.
Further, iu the year 1882-83, the French out-numbered us in their navy by nearly five thousand men, while the total number of their ironclads was 56 against our 55.
With these undoubted facts before us, we need not, perhaps, he astonished at the denial by the French Minister of Marine in the Chamber of Deputies, in November, 1882, of the assertion that the French navy is inferior to the English navy. Nor can we blink the fact that the French Colonial trade and interests are almost nil., and, consequently, in time of war, France would be in a position to harass us in every quarter of the globe, without it being possible, as we are at present circumstanced, to do more than absolutely hold our own—if that, without chance of making reprisals.page 15
Now, as regards the responsible duties of our British navy, let me give you one or two more figures, and I shall have done.
The Imports and Exports of the United Kingdom in 1862-63, were £898,782,118; in 1882-83, they amounted to £719,080,322. Thus we find, during the past twenty years, our Import and Export Trade, which, in time of war, is entirely dependent for its existence, safety, and protection, upon our navy, has very nearly doubled, while the total tonnage of British shipping, which enters and clears our ports in the United Kingdom, has in this time more than trebled. In 1862-63, they amounted to 13,989,770 tons; in 1882-83, they had increased to 43,670,361 tons.
We also know that the gross revenue of the United Kingdom, which, in the year 1862-63, only amounted to £68,153,355, has since then grown to the enormous sum of £89,004,456 sterling.
In other words, it has been given to a Liberal Administration, led by Mr. Gladstone, to ciijoy the notorious distinction of having succeeded, in the year 1883, in extracting the greatest revenue ever obtained by any Administration at any period in our history, out of the pockets of the people of this Kingdom. And the great and absorbing question now arises, what has Mr. Gladstone to show for it aa regards the consolidation of our Empire? Has even the cornerstone of our greatness—the efficiency of the navy—been kept up? Has the growth and power of our navy been co-extensive with this vast increase of our national wealth and enormously augmenting revenue? The answer must be, I fear, emphatically, "It has not !"
You will scarcely credit it—but I take these data from an incontrovertible source, a Parliamentary Return issued in May, 1883—that, whereas the expenditure for the Naval Service was in the year 1862-3, £11,075,154 sterling, in the year 1882-3, the expenditure amounted to not more than £11,088,989—that is to say, if we take these figures ouly, we find that our naval expenditure has been absolutely stationary during the past twenty years; while still more incredible is the fact that even this circumscribed outlay in 1882-83 was further diminished in the following year by a sum of over one hundred thousand pounds.
I believe it is impossible for Englishmen to approach a graver question than that of the supremacy of the British navy. More than one-half of our food supplies conies from across the seas.page 16
We have been told that is not a party question, and let us hope that such indeed will be the case in the future; but, so far as the past is concerned, it is my duty to point out that for over twenty years the expenditure for the Navy bad never been at so low an ebb as during Mr. Gladstone's last Administration. It did not average yearly more than nine-and-a-half millions sterling from 1869-70 to 1872-73; or, in other words, we find a smaller expenditure by one-and-a-half millions per annum, or a total of six millions sterling, taken away from our Navy, during these four years as compared with the Naval expenditure of 1862-63.
On the other hand, were it not for the heavy increased expenditure for the Naval Service which immediately followed, during Lord Beacousfield's last Administration, and which in the year 1877-78 exceeded twelve and a-quarter millions sterling, it may be confidently expressed that we would be infinitely worse off than we are now.
Let us hope that it was not by this policy of shrinkage and cheeseparing—this starving of the Navy, that at least one Liberal Minister was enabled to build up a reputation as a great financier.
Let us hope that it was not by such means—at the expense of our Navy, that Mr. Gladstone was emboldened in 1871 to offer a bribe of six millions.! to the Constituencies, which Englishmen rejected with scorn.
Let us hope that the day has not yet been reached when we can no longer lay claim to the proud boast that "Britannia rules the waves."
But if, indeed, we be assailed by any such sombre doubts, let us also not forget the Prime Minister's flourish on the 30th of last August, in Edinburgh, that there had been twelve Parliaments since the Reform Act of 1882, in every one of which he had sat, and ten of whieh "have had a Liberal majority."
Consequently, if there be any responsibility attaching to any party in regard to the present anxious condition of the Navy, Mr. Gladstone has, by this confession, irrevocably saddled this responsibility upon the Liberal Party.
It only remains for me to leave to your consideration and decision these vital issues I have raised, and which I venture to assert are inseparably bound up with the common weal, and the continued greatness and prosperity of our glorious Empire.