LORD BEACONSFIELD'S SPEECH.
VO one can deny Lord Beaconsfield's heroic courage as a 11 statesman. But if any one were prepared to deny it before the Guildhall speech of Thursday, that speech would have converted him. No political proposal of our day has ever approached even remotely in sublimity and grandeur the ideal which Lord Beaconsfield makes the aim and object of his Eastern policy. He has aimed, he tells us, and aims still, at keeping intact the European treaties which affect Turkey. He has aimed, further, and evidently still aims, at securing both the integrity and the independence of the Turkish Empire. He rejected the Berlin Memorandum entirely because the pro- posals of that Memorandum would have violated the conditions of the Treaty of 184 renewed in 1871 ; and he speaks of that refusal with the pride and satisfaction which imply that it embodied a policy still held sacred by his Government. It was thesatne with the later proposal made forthe joint military occu- pation of Bosnia and Bulgaria. England rejected it as a breach of the treaty. But in order to secure the integrity and independ- ence of the Turkish Empire, as he himself expressly tells us, something more than respect for treaties is necessary. It is neces- sary also that the Government which is set over the people should be, and should be known -to be," studious of their welfare and proud of their prosperity ;-" and accordingly, Lord Salisbury is to go to Constantinople to procure peace,-bo maintain the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire, and finally, to convert the Turkish Government to a new state of mind and heart, one, namely, in which it shall for the future " study the welfare " and (so soon as there is any prosperity to be proud of, but not, we presume, any sooner) be "proud of the prosperity " of the Christian provinces it rules. Now, the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Irish Church was a great enterprise , the Irish Land Bill was -a great enterprise ; the abolition of Purchase in the Army was a great enterprise ; but what are all these enterprises put together to the enterprise in which Lord Beaconsfield is engaged, and which, ap- parently, he hopes to secure, by sending Lord Salisbury Jae Constantinople,—namely, the infusion of a new political soul into the Turkish Government, and such a manifestation of that soul to races at present cowering beneath its destructive and ruinous tyranny, that the Christians of the Herzegovina, Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Greece shall recognise the zeal of the Turkish 43kwernment for their welfare and its pride in their prosperity,--soeoon, at least, as the germs of anything which can be called prosperity in these miserable provinces shall put forth a shoot of promise. Nor is this, remember, any mis- chievous straining of Lord Beaconsfield's meaning. His speech had no meaning at all, if did not insist, and insist most em- phatically all through, that nothing should be done which -would in any way interfere with the absolute independence of the Turkish Government, or would interpose force between its will and the lot of its subjects. The Treaty of 1856, renewed in 1871, forbids such interference, and Lord Beacons- field was eloquent on the soundness of that treaty. The Berlin Memorandum proposed such interference, and Lord Beacons- field was eloquent in condemnation of the Berlin Memorandum. The Russian proposal for a joint occupation involved such inter- ference, and Lord Beacomafield was eloquent in condemnation of the Ruesian proposal. Though he admitted that the condition of the Christian subjects of the Porte °needed amelioration, he ad- mitted even thisanther as a condition sine gul non of the integ- rity and independence of the Porte, than as one which could by
any possibility justify an encroachment on either the integrity or independence of that Government. The only loop-hole, therefore, left to him for obtaining this amelioration was the loop-hole through which he escaped a formal collision with the expressed will of the British nation,—the possibility, namely, of engraft- ing on the Turkish Government a new political nature and aim,—to wit, studiousness for the welfare and pride in the
prosperity of its Christian subjects. And that, if Lord Beaconsfield has made his very lucidly and emphatically ex- pressed purpose intelligible, is what Lord Salisbury is sent to Constantinople to secure. He goes not as a diplomatist., but as a missionary. He is to persuade Turkey to put off the old man, with all his desires and lusts, and put on the new man, whose wisdom is " pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without par- tiality and without hypocrisy." This, and no less than this, is the exalted aim of our new policy at Con- stantinople. Our victory is not to be achieved by pens and paper or the force of armaments. Everything in relation to the external mutual relations of the States of Europe is to remain as it is. No finger is to be raised against the supremacy of the Porte over its own subjects. But the Porte is to grant a new system of government, and the security for working that system honestly is, apparently, to be—the new studiousness for the welfare of its subjects, and the new pride in their prosperity, which Lord Salisbury's mission is to pro- duce. Surely so exalted a hope and so imaginative and spiri- tual an aim was never yet set forth by an English Prime Minister to any assembly as the main-spring of a new peliey. No doubt it will be said, and we are not specially cancer:10dt° deny, that in thus speaking we may be taking Lord Beaconsfield too literally,—that he only wanted to gloss over the great collapse of his policy, and to defer for a while the con- fession to the world that Lord Salisbury is sent to Constanti- nople to reverse the policy of the treaty which Lord Beaconsfield so much admires, and to take guarantees of a very substantial kind,—probably as strong as any suggested in the Berlin Memorandum,—that the Christian provinces of the Porte shall be rendered, virtually at least, independent of their suserain,—enabled to resist its exactions, defeat its craft, and appeal against its force, for the future. That may be so, we are strongly disposed to hope that it will be so. But, if so, what a spectacle is this of an English Minister clinging with perverse tenacity to the last rag of a policy which he believes he shall be almost immediately compelled to abandon, and brazening it out to the last, as if he had, to use Lord Derby's language, not a word to regret, net a deed to retract ! Why, the whole speech is fall of political glosses which will deceive no one, least of all Lord Beaconsfield himself. He says the great fault of the A_ndrassy Note was its " inopportuneness," as if arrangements which he sesames he can persuade Turkey to accept now, could have been "inoppor- tune " before the war, before the Bulgarian massacres, before the hopeless discredit which has fallen on Turkish admin- istration. He knows that if the Andrassy Note were inopportune last spring, the Conference and its suggestions will be still more inopportune this winter, and anything that can make either " opportune " now,—say, the pledge of European intervention to carry out the arrangements agreed on,—wonid have made the recommendations of the Andrassy Note not less, but more opportune at the beginning of the year. Lord Beaconsfield knows perfectly well that the inoppor- tuneness of the Andrassy Note was due not to its being mistimed, but solely to the fact that all recommendations for an improved system which contained in themselves no guarantee that they should be enforced, were, and are, and will be always inopportune for the purpose of reforming a Turkish Administration. Then, again, Lord Beaconsfield pre- tended that Turkey in granting a six months' armistice granted not less, but more, than had been asked of her, though he knows perfectly well that the hinge of the whole matter depended, both politically and from a military point of view, on the limitation of the terma—politically, be- cause it was essential to bring Turkey to enter into final agree- ments with the other Powers before there should be any excuse for saying that she had done voluntarily all they asked,—the very loop-hole at which she was aiming ;—from a military point of view, because while Turkey would have gained a great advantage by escaping the severities of the winter, the Russians would have lost all that the Turks gained. When the English Government accepted what Turkey offered instead of what it had itself demanded, it played either intentionally, or from weakness, into Turkey's hands. From beginning to end of Lord Beaconsfield's speech there are nothing but false trails. If he really means that the Treaty of 1856, and the complete independence of Turkey in the administration of her own provinces, are to be religiously observed, then he is dangling false colours before us when he talks about arrangements which are to secure the pros- perity of the Christian provinces. If he really means that the prosperity of the Christian provinces is to be secured, then he is dangling false colours before us when he talks of the sacredness of the Treaty of 1856, of securing the independence of the Turkish Empire, and of the readiness of England to go to war, and to continue at war, till right be done. Whatever explanation may be put on the speech,—and like all Lord Beaconsfield's speeches, it is open to the remark that it expresses probably not the mind of the Cabinet, but his own mind only, which is a double mind,—it is not a straight- forward speech ; it is not a speech to be trusted ; it is one which is intended to convey a significance entirely opposite to the significance of Lord Salisbury's appointment, and so to leave both ways open to the shifty genius of the Prime Minister. Like every speech he has delivered for the last six months, it should warn England against him ; it should convince every sound-minded person that Lord Beaconsfield would rather put the Christian provinces of Turkey completely under the heel of Turkey than abate one jot from the independence of the Ottoman Government,-and that if he cannot have his own way, he will never help his wiser and better colleagues to have theirs. We do not doubt that he will be forced to yield. We do not doubt that Lord Salisbury, and not Lord Beaconsfield, will determine the policy which England is to pursue on the Turkish Question. But we do doubt whether it is a seemly or a decent spectacle that Lord Beaconsfield should be permitted, by speech after speech, to encourage Turkey to await for her evil cause, help which not only England, but the most influential of Lord Beaconsfield's own Cabinet are evidently determined to refuse. Of all the political spectacles of this generation, the double-faced foreign policy of this Cabinet seems to us the most discreditable and the most strange. Talk of the English people neutralising the influence of the English Government, what can neutralise the influence of the English Government so much as the care with which the Prime Minis- ter himself wipes out the moral effect of every act by which his Foreign Secretary has reluctantly attempted to bring Turkey to a sense of her impotence, and to a conception of her responsi- bilities to Europe ?