« PreviousContinue »
exceed the original estimate, as would also the new boilers, which had been estimated to represent 20,000 horse-power, and would actually represent 20,967. As to the coming year, while vindicating the necessity for a variety of types of ships to meet changed modes of attack, Mr. Hunt said that he had nevertheless followed the old lines in the case of ironclads, and meant to lay down another "Agamemnon" at Chatham on the old principle, but he must face the charge of innovation as to a ship of a kind as yet unknown in any part of the world, called a "torpedo-ram," which had been much pressed upon him by Sir George Sartorius, to whose youthfulness of mind at his great age, and readiness to receive and inculcate new ideas, he paid a high compliment. All Mr. Hunt would state of the design of this vessel now, as he wished to keep it a secret from the world, was that it should carry armour, but not guns, and he had great reliance on its use for offensive purposes, while it would cost much less than recent ironclads. He promised the beginning of a small flotilla of torpedo-vessels for harbour-defence, said that an independent "torpedo school" had been established for experiments and for the instruction of officers, and that, in other respects, attention must be paid to this matter, in which, said Mr. Hunt, I have become a little alarmed lest we should be behind other nations. He described the steps which had been taken to encourage the training and entries of boys, which had lately even exceeded the required number; and stated that he had appointed a Committee to enquire into the grievances of marine officers, as soon as he had received the report of the Army Commission on promotion and retirement. On his proposals for improving the Engineer Service of the Navy, in the way of increased pay and additional comforts on board ship, by which he proposed to attract a higher class into the service, Mr. Hunt dwelt at length; and then, speaking of the Reserves, stated that the Prince of Wales had accepted an honorary captaincy, and that two of his sons had joined the "Britannia" for their education, and that one would enter the service. Finally, Mr. Hunt touched on the proposals contained in the estimates for increasing the supply of petty officers by stimulating re-engagement, and concluded by referring to the results of the Arctic Expedition. Unfortunately it had broken down by reason of the outbreak of scurvy, but even if this had not occurred the Expedition would not have been able to reach the Pole. Mr. Hunt was, however, confident both of the geographical advantages gained in narrowing the limits of feasible Polar enterprise, the coast line of the northernmost land adjoining the American continent being now accurately charted, and the conjectured open sea, northward of Smith Sound, and the land assumed to be there, proved not to exist-and of the scientific results, as for instance in the question of tides, and recognised the indomitable pluck and energy of all engaged.
A similar compliment might well be paid to Mr. Ward Hunt himself, who soon after introducing the estimates (which were
voted at once) was compelled by illness to intermit his attendance in the House; and after still assiduously devoting himself as long as he could to his official duties, was under medical advice sent to Homburg for his health, which had been fairly broken down under his work. It was hoped that he would return before the session closed; but just when favourable hopes were entertained of his recovery, the news of his death was received in England. Although he never may have attained to the highest parliamentary rank, he was very popular in the House, both with friends and opponents, and his industry and zeal never doubted. Lord Beaconsfield, after some speculations had been rife as to his successor, filled the gap by the appointment of Mr. W. H. Smith, the equally sympathetic member, who had ousted John Stuart Mill from Westminster. Not only was the promotion popular in itself, but it was generally regarded as a wise concession to the interests and claims of the borough members.
Mr. Gladstone's Resolutions-Declaration of Ministerial Policy-The Eastern Question for the rest of the Session-The Budget-Sitting of July 31-The Irish Obstructives-Modifications in the Rules of Debate.-Tactics of the Obstructives-Sir Stafford Northcote's Resolutions - South African Bill in Committee-The Burials Bill-Defeat of the Government-Irish Judicature Bill-Motion for Home Rule-Bill for Household Suffrage in Irish Boroughs— Minor Irish Measures.
IN resigning his position at the head of the Liberal party, Mr. Gladstone desired to reserve for himself the liberty of independent action; but so unwilling were his successor and colleagues to separate themselves from their greatest ally, that he was with difficulty induced to acquiesce in a compromise upon the Eastern Question which prevented a positive schism in the Liberal ranks. declaration of war by Russia upon Turkey was followed by a note addressed to the Powers by the former Government, vindicating her conduct, and calling upon them for an approval of her policy. This note was met by silence from all the powers except England. But Lord Derby answered with a communication which, while disclaiming sympathy with the Turks, seemed to embody a determination to defend British interests, even at the cost of war, and indicated disapproval of the action of Russia. Mr. Howard, the member for Carlisle, prepared the House for the intention of Mr. Gladstone to submit four Resolutions which would raise a distinct issue upon the Eastern Question; and a number of meetings and discussions in the country and the press, under the influence of the excitement caused by the declaration of war, renewed on a smaller scale the agitation of the autumn meetings. These meetings were convened by the aid of an organization which had its centre at Birmingham; and Mr. Gladstone's hold on the extreme section of the party was strikingly shown by their enthusiastic
declarations of support, which formed a prelude to a lively scene which took place in the House on May 7, when before a distinguished audience, which included among others the French Prince Imperial, a five nights' debate upon Mr. Gladstone's Resolutions began. As first submitted, they ran as follows:
First: That this House finds just cause of dissatisfaction and complaint in the conduct of the Ottoman Porte with regard to the despatch written by the Earl of Derby on September 21, 1876,☛ and relating to the massacres in Bulgaria.
Second: That until such conduct shall have been essentially changed and guarantees on behalf of the subject populations other than the promises or ostensible measures of the Porte shall have been provided, that Government will be deemed by this House to have lost all claim to receive either the material or the moral support of the British Crown.
Third: That in the midst of the complications which exist, and the war which has actually begun, this House earnestly desires the influence of the British Crown in the councils of Europe to be employed with a view to the early and effectual development of local liberty and practical self-government in the disturbed provinces of Turkey, by putting an end to the oppression which they now suffer, without the imposition upon them of any other foreign dominion.
Fourth That, bearing in mind the wise and honourable policy of this country in the Protocol of April, 1826, and the Treaty of July, 1827, with respect to Greece, this House furthermore earnestly desires that the influence of the British Crown may be addressed to promoting the concert of the European Powers in exacting from the Ottoman Porte, by their united authority, such changes in the government of Turkey as they may deem to be necessary for the purposes of humanity and justice, for effectual defence against intrigue, and for the peace of the world.
Fifth That a humble address, setting forth the prayer of this House, according to the tenour of the foregoing Resolutions, be prepared and presented to Her Majesty.
The adoption of these Resolutions must have compelled the Government to resign, and pledged the House to a policy which Lord Hartington and his supporters disapproved, amounting as they did to an undertaking to join Russia in coercing the Porte. As it was impossible therefore to decline a challenge addressed to the Front Opposition Bench as well as to the Government, the ex-Cabinet induced Sir John Lubbock to give notice of moving the previous question, or in other words of declaring that Mr. Gladstone's motion was inexpedient. The House assembled in large numbers in the full expectation that Mr. Gladstone would deliver battle on the whole of these Resolutions. Great was the surprise expressed, therefore, when the right honourable member for Greenwich, replying to Mr. Trevelyan, followed up the avowal of his readiness to accept a verbal amendment of the second Reso
lution, which reduced it to a declaration that Turkey had forfeited all claim to British support, moral and material, by the announcement of his willingness to sacrifice the last three Resolutions. Ironical laughter from the Conservatives greeted this declaration, which reconciled the Marquis of Hartington, however, to the motion of Mr. Gladstone. Responding to an appeal from the Leader of the Opposition, Sir J. Lubbock promptly said he would not move the previous question," but would now willingly support the amended Resolutions. This altered state of affairs gave satisfaction neither to the Treasury Bench, nor to a number of members below the gangway on both sides of the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer excited the Conservative members by some rather personal criticism of the course adopted by Mr. Gladstone, and over two hours were wasted in a fruitless and irregular debate, during which the right honourable member for Greenwich (accused of "childish vacillation of purpose" by Mr. Chaplin) thrice explained why he had dropped the last three of his Resolutions. The standing orders having been at length postponed, in spite of a protest on the part of Mr. Bentinck and others, Mr. Gladstone was permitted to introduce the expurgated edition of his Resolutions. This he did in a speech at once calm, judicial, and eloquent, but a speech stoutly maintaining the justice of the Resolutions in their entirety. Briefly put, the speech resolved itself into an elaborate indictment against the inconsistencies of the policy pursued by the Government in the East, and into an earnest recommendation of the adoption of the Resolutions for the keynote of the present and future policy of the Ministry in the East. After referring to the meetings of the past week, he proceeded to show that his Motion was rendered necessary by the conduct of the Government, which for the last eighteen months, he said, had been more deplorable than the conduct of any Government since the Peace of Vienna, and also on account of its ambiguous position. This he illustrated by a review of the conflicting declarations of the members of the Government and of the language of the Ministerially-inspired Press, of which last he said that it was deliberately intended to prepare the public mind for war. Commenting on Lord Derby's answer to the Gortchakoff Circular, he said it was redolent with the old odious doctrine of "moral support." Against the policy of remonstrance and expostulation Mr. Gladstone protested with much force and earnestness, declaring that if we went no further than this the work must pass into the hands of others. In support of his first and second resolutions he reviewed the history of the atrocities, Lord Derby's Despatch, and the present deplorable condition of the country, insisting that the guilt must be fixed, not on the minor instruments, but on the Turkish Government, which had caused and encouraged the massacres. The Government by its policy had led the Christian subjects of the Porte to look upon Russia as their only friend, and had forced upon Russia the task of redeeming them f.om oppression. He
contrasted with their conduct the vigour with which a Liberal Government acted in the case of the Syrian massacres; and, reverting once more to the true interpretation of the Treaty of Kainardji, he contended that the Crimean War deprived the Christians of a safeguard which we were bound to make good to them. Repeating that he did not intend to take a division on the third and fourth resolutions, he declared, amid loud cheers from the benches below the gangway, that he adhered to all the resolutions. Although he could not understand why Lord Hartington would not go the whole length with him, he did not wish to obtain from him a sanction to anything but that for which he voted. He deplored as much as anyone the irregular methods to which the Opposition had been obliged to resort for influencing the foreign policy of the country, but the necessity of the case was their justification. You talk, he said in concluding, of the established tradition in regard to Turkey. I appeal to an established tradition older, wider, and nobler-a tradition which, while it does not disregard British interests, seeks to maintain the promotion of those interests in accordance with the dictates of honour and justice. What is to be the end of all this? There is now before the world a glorious prize. A portion of these people are making an effort to retrieve what they have lost, I mean those in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and another portion, composing a band of heroes such as the world has rarely seen, in Montenegro. They are ready, as they have ever been during the 400 years of their exile from their fertile plains, to meet the Turk, and to re-establish peace and justice. Another portion, some five or six millions of Bulgarians, beaten down to the ground, hardly venturing to look upwards even to their Father in Heaven, have extended their hands to you, and have prayed your aid and protection. They have said they do not want an alliance with Russia or any foreign country, but they want deliverance from intolerable woe and shame-that woe and shame the greatest which deforms God's earth, and one which united Europe was going to reform, and has pledged itself to reform, but for the present you seem to have no efficacious means of contributing to the accomplishment of this. But the removal of that great woe and shame is a prize well worthy of competing for. It is not yet too late to try for it. I believe there are men in the Cabinet who would try. It is not yet too late to become competitors for this prize, and, be assured, an immortal crown of fame will be the reward of those who may successfully win it, because I, for one, believe that the knell of Turkish tyranny has been sounded. It is about to be destroyed, if not in the way and by the means we choose; and, come the boon from what hands it may, it will be gladly accepted by Christendom and the world.
Sir H. Drummond Wolff, in lieu of moving the "previous question" (of which he as well as Sir J. Lubbock had given notice), submitted the amendment prepared by him at the suggestion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer :