18 DECEMBER 1880, Page 5


IN Sir Charles Dilke, Lord Salisbury has met more than

his match,—his match in oratory, and much more than his match in that precision of statement and scrupulous regard for political accuracy to which Lord Salisbury's recent career has shown him to be flagrantly indifferent. Lord Salisbury's attitude towards the present Government, when he said that Lord Granville and Lord Hartington were all very well, but that "a darker and more dangerous spirit ruled the storm," was happily retaliated on him, when Sir Charles Dilke pointed out that moderate as Lord Beaconsfield and Sir Stafford Northcote had been in relation to foreign politics, unhappily they were not permitted to rule the party, since "a darker and more dangerous spirit governed the storm which he himself had raised." And so, indeed, Sir Charles Dilke showed that it had literally been. In speech after speech, as he carefully pointed out, Lord Salisbury had endeavoured to throw all the obstacles possible in the way of the present foreign policy of the Government. He had begun by declaring its general design impracticable, by denying that harmony existed, or could exist, between purposes so discordant as those of the great European orchestra ; and at every approximation to unity he had renewed his interruptions, his instigations to the jealousy of some Powers, his hints at the interested motives of others, his profound scorn for the influence exerted by his own country. Sir Charles Mice goes calmly through his various random innuendoes and scoffs, shows how much of wild ex- aggeration there is in many of the representations of fact, how much more of discrepancy between what Lord Salisbury and his colleagues said formerly, and what he at least says now ; how much of ungenerous imputation which is baseless ; how much of suppression which leads his hearers and readers positively astray. Take the Dulcigno cession. Who that heard Lord Salisbury would have supposed that Lord Salisbury's own stipulation at Berlin alarmed the Albanians, for whom he has recently appeared to hold a brief, infinitely more than the cession now effected of a territory actually conquered by Montenegro during the war ? or that the " Corti compro- mise," which he agreed to substitute before leaving office for the cession determined on in the Congress, displeased the Albanians still more ? Lord Salisbury spoke as if the cession of Dulcigno were a blow at Albanian independence, to which nothing that he himself had agreed to were for a moment com- parable. The fact is, as Sir Charles Dilke proves, that the Albanians feel far less hostility to the cession actually made, than they felt to either of Lord Salisbury's .proposals ; and for the best possible reason, because it affects much fewer Albanians,—certainly not more than between 3,000 and 5,000 in all, of whom only ten householders have left the ceded district in consequence of the cession, while even they are

fully expected to return, so complete is the confidence in the guarantee given by Montenegro for the freedom of the Mahommedan religion and the civil rights of those who profess it. Who that beard Lord Salisbury speak of the hundreds of Albanians whose blood had flowed to carry out this Turkish engagement, would have believed that the estimate of the number killed by the Turkish troops in carrying out the promise repeatedly renewed to Europe, varies from the minimum of five to the maximum of thirteen V Lord Salisbury has misrepresented every phase of the Dulcigno transaction. He has made it appear that his Government was far more careful of the rights of the Albanians than the Liberal Govern- ment, though the fact is, that he proposed to transfer a much larger Albanian population to Turkish rule than any which has been transferred, and though one of the many objects of the diplomacy of the present Government has been to secure for the Albanians a substantial measure of independence. Further, Lord Salisbury has concealed from his hearers that Europe was absolutely unanimous in cancelling his arrangement, and accept- ing the surrender of Dulcigno in its place ;—and that the pro- posal to put pressure on the recalcitrant Government by seques- trating the Customs duties at one of its chief ports, was one which had been frequently adopted before, and had been in the case of another State—we believe an African State—sanctioned by the late Tory Government. Who, moreover, wculd have supposed, who heard Lord Salisbury's angry attack on Lord Granville for approving the coercion of Turkey, that he him- self had expressly threatened Turkey that if she did not at once reform, " he would give no undertaking Gist England would refrain from active measures." Sir Charles Dilke's reply to Lord Salisbury on the subject of the whole Dulcigno cession is at once a masterly condensation of the whole story, and an exhaustive controversial refutation.

And on the subject of Greece, Sir Charles Dilke 's statement is even newer to the public at large. The late Government was, in its inner bias, so hostile to the claims of Greece, and was known to be so hostile, that the country has more or less forgotten the many violent plunges which that Government made to get the reputation of being friendly to Greece. Eng- land had forgotten, till Sir Charles Dilke spoke, that " the shadowy and unsubstantial claims of Greece," as Lord Salis- bury now terms them, were not so very long ago the grounds upon which his colleagues claimed to have entitled themselves to the gratitude of Greece. Not only did the late Govern- ment confess that Greece had received their assurance that she should lose nothing by not attacking Turkey,—of course, an implied promise to gain for her peacefully at least as much as she could in common probability bare hoped to gain by war,—but after the Treaty of Berlin, the cession then recom- mended from Turkey to Greece was treated by the late Government as assured to Greece on the authority of Europe, Lord Beaconsfield himself ostentatiously stating that by the Congress of Berlin, Greece had acquired more than had been gained " by the rebellious Principalities." Lord John Manners and Sir Stafford Northcote both made claims to the gratitude of Greece in language which endorsed Lord Beaconsfield's words, the former having repeated that the Congress had largely ex- tended the frontiers of Greece, and agreed to give her more than was given to " Beryl°, Montenegro, or Roumania," while the latter not only confirmed this language but expressly termed the gain of Greece " a large and substantial concession ;" and Lord Sandon had followed suit with the indignant claim that it should not be thought " a slight matter," that the frontier of Greece was to be rectified in the manner pro- posed unanimously by all the Powers of Europs. The real truth of the Greek question is, no doubt, this ;—Lord Salisbury and his friends were totally opposed to anything that would diminish the Empire of Turkey, but they felt that diminishing the Empire of Turkey to the advantage of Greece, was a very different thing, indeed, in the eyes of the British people, from diminishing the empire of Turkey to the advantage of Russia, and they, therefore, consented to anything which looked like

strengthening Greece, and took great credit for it, so long as it did not involve the public humiliation or coercion of Turkey.

But the moment Turkey resisted, the moment it appeared that Turkey must be coerced in order to enforce the decision of Europe, they washed their hands of Greece, and now treat the Government which regards their own previous decision as bind- ing on Turkey, as a conspirator against the peace of Europe, and unfaithful to the Treaty of Berlin. Fortunately, however, the

language in which they claimed to have secured a " substantial concession " to Greece still witnesses against them when they try to prove that all they ever granted to Greece was a

"shadowy and unsubstantial claim." They cannot be allowed both to run with the hare, and to hunt with the hounds.

Nothing was more successful or more remarkable in Sir Charles Dilke's speech than the force with which he vindi- cated the European Concert, and showed that it meant some- thing very different for the present Government from what it meant with Lord Salisbury, who was no sooner out of office than he began at once to ridicule the notion of attaching any importance to the harmony of an " orchestra " with so many discordant motives in its programme as that of the European Powers. Sir Charles Dilke, on the contrary, not only stated his firm conviction that in such a tribunal as the great Powers of Europe can supply, when it is unanimous, you have at last what Mr. Matthew Arnold has called " a tribunal free from all sus- picion of national or provincial partiality," but showed that such a tribunal, though difficult to bring to unanimity, is capable of taking heartily unanimous decisions on the most important and critical points, and of adhering to those decisions through all the efforts of such statesmen as Lord Salisbury to excite amongst them jealousy and dissension. Lord Salisbury had accused the present Government of deliberately substituting "the exclusive alliance of Russia for friendship and intimacy with the German Powers," and of " alienating " those Powers " who were our natural friends in Europe ;" but the accusation had absolutely no shred of foundation in fact. The assertion that Austria, for instance, is hostile to our present policy with regard to Greece, is purely perverse. Austria and Great Britain are acting in the most complete harmony on this subject, a harmony which even Lord Salisbury has no power to disturb. Baron Haymerle is as anxious to preserve the full concert of Europe as Lord Granville, and is also as loyal to the decisions at which Europe has arrived. And he has used on the Greek question itself, as Sir Charles Dilke showed, words as strong as have ever been used by Mr.

Gladstone We treat the Greek nationality as a nationality whose struggles we regard with sympathy. It represents an ancient civilisation, and we have, indeed, to thank the struggles of the Greeks for whatever civilisation has been preserved in the Balkan peninsula." That puts the finishing-touch to Lord Salisbury's refutation. It is not true that England, in her endeavour to secure the just rights of Montenegro under the Treaty of Berlin, has adhered to a solution unjust to the Albanians. It is not true that hundreds of Albanians were killed to bring that solution,—adopted by all Europe,— into effect. It is not true that the sequestration of the customs' duties of a particular port is at all an unusual or " buccaneering " expedient, when a refractory Power neglects its positive engagements ; on the contrary, it is an expedient sanctioned by the precedents of Conservative policy. It is not true that the Tories treated the Greek claims as " shadowy and unsubstantial," when they claimed credit for having added to Greece a "substantial concession" larger than to any of the " rebellious principalities." It is not true that any closer alliance has been initiated with Russia by the present Government than with any other of the great Powers. It is not true that Germany and Austria have been alienated. It is not true that the Concert of Europe has been a failure. On the contrary, though its pressure is slow in operation, it is as sure and as potent as that of the hydraulic press. The only thing that is true is that Lord Salisbury's ill-omened polich—the policy that really divided Europe, the policy that really aimed at humiliating one Power while professing to unite all, —is dead ; and that with its death the policy of true co-opera- tion in the common interests of all, lives once more. Sir Charles Mike is indeed as much stronger than Lord Salisbury, as is the policy of co-operation stronger than Lord Salisbury's policy of " Boycotting " Russia.