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suffer; for it is not probable that Russia,
4th. Political autonomy for the Turkish Christians is only another name for Russian predomi
5th. The conduct of Russia in the present crisis has shown that she is not working for the Turkish Slavs, but for herself.
It appears, therefore, that whether from a political or a philanthropic point of view, the first thing to be considered by England in the present crisis is her own interest, and that the future destiny of the Turkish Slavs, though not to be excluded from consideration altogether, is a matter entirely
subsidiary to that of putting a stop to Russian
their accusers assert, that they have “ bolstered
the Turks, that they have disregarded
by taking up an isolated attitude, they have prevented that “ European concert,” which, we are assured, would have at once solved the Eastern Question ? It will be worth while, by means of a careful review of Lord Derby's despatches, to see how far these accusations are well founded.
That the Government has made mistakes—that it has done things which it would not have done if it could have looked into the future-is only to say that it is not exempt from the ordinary failings of humanity. The question is not whether it has erred in matters of detail, but whether the objects of its policy have been the right ones, and whether it has consistently and firmly pursued those objects. When the insurrection in the Herzegovina first The insurrecbroke out, it met with but little sympathy in zegovina. England, and assuredly any attempt on the part of the Government to give its countenance to the rising would have been universally condemned by public opinion. If the subjects of any State choose to rise against their government, that is a matter of internal politics which need not in any way concern the governments of other States ; but a foreign Power has not the right to assist the insurgents in
tion in Her
violation of treaties to which it was a party unless it openly declares war, especially when the insurrection, as in the present case, is known to have been the result of the ambitious designs of an aggressive neighbour. It was in accordance with this principle that Lord Derby acted throughout the whole course of the insurrection. He informed the Turkish Government* that it “ should rely on its own resources to suppress the insurrection, and should deal with it as a local outbreak of disorder rather than give international importance to it by appealing for support to other Powers ;” and when a consular mission to the insurgents was proposed, he accepted it with reluctance, on the ground that "such an intervention is scarcely compatible with the independent authority of the Porte over its own territory, offers an inducement to insurrection as a means of appealing to foreign sympathy against Turkish rule, and may not improbably open the way to further diplomatic interference in the internal affairs of the Empire ”- an anticipation
. which, as we all know, was afterwards only too completely realized.†
* Despatch to Sir Henry Elliot of the 25th January, 1876. + Ibid.
At the same time, Lord Derby did not fail, when Massacres of massacres of the Christian inhabitants of Turkey were brought to his notice, to interfere, from motives of humanity, on their behalf.
So early as November, 1875,* the British Ambassador at Constantinople made representations to the Turkish Government with regard to a massacre of this kind, and induced the Grand Vizier to take steps to secure the punishment of those concerned in the outrage.
In his remarks on the Andrassy Notet Lord The AndrasDerby adhered to the same policy as he had adopted from the commencement of the insurrection. The proposals in that Note, I he said, “do not conflict with the ninth article of the Treaty of Paris ;” they are in the nature of suggestions or recommendations for adoption by the Porte in its endeavours to put an end to the insurrection, and do not involve any interference in the relations existing between the Sultan and his subjects,
* Despatch to Sir Henry Elliot of the 8th of December,
† Despatch to Sir Henry Elliot of the 25th January, 1876.
nor in the internal administration of the Empire.” “What appears to Her Majesty's Government to be essential,” he continued, “is that the Porte should act promptly and vigorously in the execution of the reforms,” and that the officers appointed to execute” them should be “men of energy and determination, who will not be deterred by local apathy or prejudices, who will be able and willing to repress with severity such atrocities as the murders of the returning refugees at Popopovlie (reported by Consul Holmes, on the 26th October), and who will do their utmost to restore a feeling of security to the Christian population. Unless such a feeling can be produced, no effectual pacification of the insurgent districts can reasonably be expected.” It will be observed here that Lord Derby does not, as is asserted by his opponents, support the Porte against the insurgents, but only strives to maintain the sovereignty of the Sultan as guaranteed by the Treaty of Paris, at the same time endeavouring to obtain such redress for the misgoverned Christian populations as is compatible with that Treaty. Knowing that the insurrection was the consequence, not so much of