30 OCTOBER 1880, Page 4



TIORD SALISBURY'S speech at Taunton, on Tuesday, is in all but force, characteristic of Lord Salisbury. It is an utterly uncandid speech, an utterly unstatesmanlike speech, and an utterly inconsistent speech ; but it is not, what Lord Salisbury's speeches usually are, an effective speech. There is a picture in a very old Peach of Mr. Disraeli dancing the egg- dance with such dexterity, that he avoids all the innumerable eggs strewed about him on the floor. Lord Salisbury's speech is an effort of that kind, and that is not a kind in which Lord Salisbury's efforts are apt to be successful. He has too much e'lait to pick his way in difficult situations, and the vehemence with which he attacks one position is so great that he is unable to avoid the natural sequence of that position, as Mr. Disraeli in the old times would have done. Listen to Lord Salisbury attacking the Montenegrins as a race of caterans and mutilators, a race of savages totally unworthy, as any one would infer from his language, of the territory given to them by the Treaty of Berlin, and you would suppose that he was attacking that Treaty itself, which he helped to negotiate. But very soon you find that he is not exactly attacking the Treaty, that all he is attacking is the idea that the Treaty should be carried out with good-faith by the Powers which imposed it on Turkey. If Turkey is unscrupulous enough, he says in effect, not to do what she has engaged to do,—what has England to do with that? It is no duty of England's to see that any treaty is carried out, unless it be, in the narrower sense of the term, for the self-interest of Englansl that it should be carried out. Nay, he almost inti- mates that it is against the interest of Europe that it should be carried out. "The Albanians will be put under another Power, whom they detest, who will take all their lands from them, and will compel them to submit to a religion they do not believe." So Lord Salisbury not only objects to our good- faith in enforcing the Treaty of Berlin,—he is positively hostile to some of the provisions of the treaty itself, of which he was one of the negotiators. But there he feels that he has gone too far, and harks back again. "I say I think the Sultan is thoroughly bound to give up Dulcigno, and I hope sincerely he will do it. Under the pledges given by him, there is no other course open to him,"—which is absurd, since it is obvious that under the pledges given by the Sultan there is his usual course open to him, the course of breaking those pledges ; and further, that the tendency of Lord Salis- bury's speech is, by its violent assault on those who will not permit that course, and by painting in strong colours what Lord Salisbury thinks the evil results to be anticipated from good-faith, to do as much as he dare, and much more than he decently should, to encourage the Sultan to continue breaking faith. It is quite true that he says in regard to the Sultan,—' I think he is qu:te bound to keep his word, —after he has done all in his power to encourage him in breaking his word, and to discourage those who would insist on his keeping it ; but when the main drift of his counsel is so evident, that counts only for a mere conventional phrase such as Turkey herself gladly repeats. Turkey is always saying she is bound to keep her word, and that under some other con- dition of the universe, which can never arise, she will cer- tainly keep it. And that, too, is the total effect of this part of Lord Salisbury's advice,—' Keep your word, by all means ; but hark-ye, the result will be in many ways extremely inconvenient. I assure you the Powers are making a great mess, and will never be able to agree about applying force. If, then, you should delay keeping your word for a few years longer, why, we can all console ourselves, and some of those who negotiated the Treaty of Berlin will be very glad that these savage Montenegrins are defrauded of their

share of its advantages.' Such is the moral effect of this most unworthy part of Lord Salisbury's speech,—uncandid, because it conveys repeatedly a meaning which in form Lord Salisbury disclaims ; unstatesmanlike, as tending to undermine the provisions of his own treaty and the binding power of treaties altogether ; inconsistent with itself, because Lord Salisbury, being half-conscious of the unworthy effect of what he says, is constantly compelled to interpose dis- claimers against really meaning' it. Well, if he did not mean to encourage Turkey not to give up Dukigno, why did he say that some of the consequences would be very bad, and that the means used are utterly inefficient? Is that the way to make a treacherous Power like Turkey keep her word ? When the English people read Lord Salisbury's speech, they will feel a deep sense of shame to think that they have a statesman who could have spoken it. But they will recognise it as the speech of the same man who persuaded the House of Lords that the policy in Afghanistan was wholly unaltered, and after- wards explained away his words as having reference solely to the policy at Quettah, as to which there had been no interest ex- pressed. When Lord Salisbury assails the present Government for giving Parliament no information as to their foreign policy, and being far more secret than his own Government ever was, he reminds the country rather needlessly of the most painful Parliamentary incident in modern times. Lord Salisbury misled Parliament for nearly two years on a question of the first magnitude. Everybody in the country knows what this Government is aiming at, none better than Lord Salis- bury, though we may not, and do not, know the details of the means taken to secure that aim.

On the subject of Greece, Lord Salisbury is less Jesuitic. He admits, and even proclaims, that the article of the Treaty of Berlin to which Turkey was not a party, was never meant to be anything more than a counsel of perfection to Turkey, and that Lord Beaconsfield carefully guarded against the idea that force could or should be used to control the decision of Turkey. Greece has just as little and just as much right, he says, to a compensation for not going to war against Turkey, as those tenant-farmers in Ireland who do not shoot their landlords have for the virtuous self- restraint displayed in not shooting them. This is an interesting glimpse into Lord Salisbury's mind. He who was once so deeply convinced of the violence, corruption, and iniquity of the Turkish Government that he proposed to take a great part of the administration of her possessions out of her hands, and reminded us all continually that it was only the threatening attitude of the Russian Army which gave any plausibility and hopefulness to his scheme of reform, now tells us that Greece had as little right to go to war with Turkey as an Irish peasant has to shoothis landlord, and that the strong dissuasions which we applied to prevent Greece from going to war with Turkey, gave her and could give her absolutely no claim on Europe for a re- vision of her boundary at the cost of Turkey, because that from which we had dissuaded her was a mere crime. The statesman who uses such an illustration as that to prove the insignificance of the Greek claims is a statesman without states- manship. Greece knew, as all the , world knew, that the Turkish Empire was in collapse. Russia threatened it, and Greece would have allied herself with Russia. We held her back. We told her it would be much better for her to rely on us. If she did not add to the difficulties of the hour, then, when the great peace came, she would see what we would do for her. She acted on our advice, the great peace came, and we paid her,—or rather intended to pay her, if Lord Beaconsfield had remained in power,—in mere paper, carefully guarding ourselves against the notion that it would ever be payable on demand. Fortunately for Greece, Lord Beaconsfield did not remain in power. The other States of Europe, including England, met, and determined that the advice given to Turkey was not mere advice. It was put in' the form of advice to render its voluntary acceptance easier. But it was really a rectification of frontier needful for the security of Europe against new wars ; and after all the confusion Turkish iniqui- ties and anarchy had inflicted on Europe, Europe was not dis- posed to take a simple "Sic volo, si jubeo," as the reason why Turkey would not follow the command of Europe. If Lord Salis- bury's bitter insinuation as to the wickedness of partitioning Turkey to please Greece had any force at all, you might with equal justice say that a man whose powder-maga- zine had, by explosion after explosion, carried destruc- tion into the heart of London, was at liberty to refuse all the limitations imposed by public authority on his dangerous trade, on the ground that the buildings in which the explosions occurred, and the gunpowder which exploded, were absolutely his own. No doubt, if there is such a thing as property in States, Turkey's gunpowder-magazine is her own, and the gunpowder is certainly hers exclusively. Not the less, we take it, has Europe an absolute right to do anything in the way of rectification of frontier which will limit the danger of these fatal explosions,—Lord Salisbury himself advocated the cession of Bosnia and the Herzegovina to Austria on precisely the same grounds,—and of course Europe will do it, in spite of the empty protests of the equally rash and crafty politician who involved England in so much secret mischief and so ranch open disgrace.