The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 25
The British Fleet At Besik A Bay
The British Fleet At Besik A Bay.
* It was on the 20th of April that the insurrection broke out in Bulgaria. In the beginning of May, the horrors of the repression had reached their climax. We had then no other concern in them than this very indirect one, that we were supporting rather too blindly and unwarily in the councils of Europe the supposed interest of the Power, which thus disgraced itself.
On the 9th of May, Sir Henry Elliot seems to have had no consular information about Bulgaria, except a statement (strange enough) from Adrianople, dated the 6th,† that as far as appeared the Turks were not committing any acts of violence against peaceful Christians. But, observing a great Mahomedan excitement, and an extensive purchase of arms in Constantinople, he wisely telegraphed to the British Admiral in the Mediterranean, expressing a desire that he would bring his squadron to Besika Bay. The purpose was, for the protection of British subjects, and of the Christians in general.‡ This judicious act, done by the Ambassador in conjunction with the Ambassadors of other Powers, who seem to have taken similar steps, was communicated by him to Lord Derby on the 9th of May by letter and by telegraph.§
On the 5th had occurred the murder of the French and German Consuls at Salónica. On the 15th, the Admiralty acquainted the Foreign Office that the squadron was ordered to Besika Bay, the 4 Swiftsure sent to Salonica, and (as Sir H. Elliot had also asked) the 'Bittern' to Constantinople.‖ These measures, were substantially wise, and purely pacific. They had, if understood rightly, no political aspect; or if any, one rather anti-Turkish than Turkish.
* P. 22.
† Pari. Papers, Turkey, No. 3, 1876, p. 145.
‡ Ibid. p. 146.
§ Ibid. p. 129.
‖ Ibid. p. 147.
In the year 1853, when the negociations with Russia had assumed a gloomy and almost a hopeless aspect, the English and French fleets were sent Eastwards: not as a measure of war, but as a measure of preparation for war, and proximate to war. The proceeding marked a transition of discussion into that angry stage, which immediately precedes a blow; and the place, to which the fleets were then sent, was Besika Bay. In the absence of information, how could the British nation avoid supposing that the same act, as that done in 1853, bore also the same meaning?
It is evident that the Foreign Minister was sagaciously alive to this danger. On the 10th of May he asked Sir H. Elliot for a particular statement of the reasons which had led him to desire the presence of the squadron "at Besika Bay."* He indicated to the Admiralty Smyrna as a preferable destination.† And this he actually ordered; but he yielded, and I believe he was quite right in yielding, to the renewed and just instances of the Ambassador.
The Government, then, were aware of the purely pacific character of this measure, and also that it was one liable to be dangerously misconstrued.
There was another reason for securing it from misinterpretation. At this very time, the Berlin Memorandum was prepared. It was announced by Lord Odo Russell to Lord Derby on May the 13th; and, on May 15th, he sent to Lord Odo an elaborate pleading, rather than argument against it.‡ It became known to the public that we were in diplomatic discord with Europe, and particularly with Russia. Now the transition from discussion pure and simple to discussion backed by display of force is a transition of vast and vital importance. The dispatch of the fleet to Besika Bay, could not but be interpreted, in the absence of explanation, as marking that perilous transition. And yet explanation was resolutely withheld.
The expectation of a rupture pervaded the public mind. The Russian funds fell very heavily, under a war panic; partisans exulted in a diplomatic victory, and in the increase of what is called our prestige, the bane, in my opinion, of all upright politics. The Turk was encouraged in the humour of resistance. And this, as we now know, while his hands were so reddened with Bulgarian blood. Foreign capitals were amazed at the martial excitement in Loudon. But the Government never spoke a word.
* Pari. Papers, Turkey, No. 3, 1876, p. 130.
† Ibid. p. 131.
‡ Ibid. pp. 137, 147.
And this ostentatious protection to Turkey, this wanton disturbance of Europe, was continued by our Ministry, with what I must call a strange perversity for weeks and weeks. It was so continued, when a word of explanation as to the true cause of the dispatch of the fleet would have stopped all mischief, dissipated all alarm. I admit, that it would have also dissipated at the same time a little valueless popularity, too dearly bought.
All this time, so far as we can learn, the sequels in detail to the wholesale massacres in Bulgaria were proceeding. In the latter part of it, the fencing answers of the Ministry about Turkish misdeeds had begun. And during the latter part of it also, the request of members of Parliament for authentic information about the East, were repeatedly refused; on the ground that the production of it would be injurious to the public service! Kay more, compliments were accepted, with the silence which not only might mean consent, but could mean nothing else, from more than one Peer in the House of Lords, and from two members of Parliament in the House of Commons, on the vigorous policy which our Government was pursuing in the East.
Such is the spectacle which, during the present spring and summer, we have exhibited to Europe.
At last came a day of disclosure. Lord Derby received at the Foreign Office, on the 14th of July, a numerous and weighty deputation. They went there in the interests of peace, to which I cordially wish well, and of non-interference—a word which, in my opinion, must be construed, especially for the East of Europe, with a just regard to our honourable engagements, and to the obligations they entail. These gentlemen did not at all approve of the demonstration in Besika Bay. Lord Derby justified it, by admitting that portion of Parliament and the public, who formed the Deputation, for the first time, to the knowledge of the truth. He stated that it was sent, at the request of Sir H. Elliot, for the defence of the Christians against a possible outbreak of Mahometan fanaticism. The country, or great part of it, felt relieved and grateful. But the mischief that had been done by the moral support, and I say boldly by the material support, afforded to Turkey during all these blood-stained weeks (the Servian war, too, was now raging) was not, and could not be, remedied. To repair, in some degree, the effects of that mischief is now a prime part of the peculiar obligation imposed upon the people of this country. For, in fact, whatever our intentions may have been, it is our doing.
* July 27. Mr. Disraeli stated that the Fleet then in Turkish waters consisted of twenty vessels: eleven ironclads, and nine unarmoured ships of war.
We have been authoritatively warned, that the condition of the Christians in Turkey is now eminently critical. The issue of the war is still hanging in the balances, which have wavered from day to day. The lapse of time, and possibly aid from without, may still do much to retrieve the vast inequality of chance, with which the brave but raw levies of Servia carry on the contest. We are told, with too much appearance of credibility, that if the fortune of war should veer adversely to Turkey, the consequence might be, in various provinces, a new and wide outbreak of fanaticism, and a wholesale massacre. My hope, therefore, is twofold. First, that, through the energetic attitude of the people of England, their Government may be led to declare distinctly, that it is for purposes of humanity alone that we have a fleet in Turkish waters. Secondly, that that fleet will be so distributed as to enable its force to be most promptly and efficiently applied, in case of need, on Turkish soil, in concert with the other Powers, for the defence of innocent lives, and to prevent the repetition of those recent scenes, at which hell itself might almost blush.
For it must not be forgotten that the last utterance on this subject was from the Prime Minister, and was to the effect that our fleet was in the East for the support of British interests. I object to this constant system of appeal to our selfish leanings. It sets up false lights; it hides the true; it disturbs the world. Who has lifted a finger against British interests? Who has spoken a word? If the declaration be anything beyond mere idle brag it means that our fleet is waiting for the dissolution of the Turkish Empire, to have the first and the strongest hand in the seizure of the spoils. If this be the meaning, it is pure mischief: and if we want to form a just judgment upon it, we have only to put a parallel case. What should we say, if Russia had assembled an army on the Pruth, or Austria on the Danube, and Prince Gortschakoff or Count Andrassy were to announce that it was so gathered, and so posted, for the defence of Russian, or of Austrian interests respectively?
* Yet it appears to be considered good enough for the electors of Bucks (I judge from a reported speech of Mr. Fremantle). They seem to be treated as Railway Companies are sometimes said to treat obscure branch lines, with their worn-out rolling-stock, not presentable in more fashionable districts.
The case of the Servian war is, in outer form, quite distinct from that of the misgovernment in Bosnia and the Herzegovina; and these again, from the Bulgarian outrages. But they are distinct simply as the operations in the Baltic, during the Crimean War, were distinct from the operations in the Black Sea. They had one root; they must surely have one remedy, I mean morally one; and administered by the same handling; for, if one part of the question be placed in relief, and one in shadow, the light will not fall on the dark places, and guilt will gain impunity.
The case against Servia is the best part of the Turkish case. Servia, before she moved, had suffered no direct injury; she had no stateable cause of war. It does not follow that she has committed a wanton aggression, or has, in fact, been guilty of any moral offence. A small and recently ordered State, with a weak government, and a peninsular territory, she is surrounded on every side by Sclave populations; along three-fourths of her frontier, by oppressed and misgoverned Sclave populations; along nearly half of it, by a Sclave population in actual revolt, whom the Turks had been unable to put down, and whom Europe had ceased, since we succeeded in overthrowing the Berlin Memorandum, page 25 actively, though pacifically, to befriend. Could her people do otherwise than sympathise with these populations? Could they, ought they to have recognised in Turkey an indefeasible right of oppression? Further, Montenegro, at a very small distance, was throbbing with emotions similar to her own.
Now there are states of affairs, in which human sympathy refuses to be confined by the rules, necessarily limited and conventional, of international law. If any Englishman doubts that such a case may, though rarely, occur, let him remember the public excitement of this country nine months ago respecting the Slave Circulars of the Government; and ask himself whether we model our proceedings towards slave-holding Powers, respecting runaways, on the precise provisions of international law. Now such a case did arise in the position of Servia and Montenegro two months ago. As long as European action gave a hope of redress for their brethren, peace was maintained. I hold that in going to war, when that hope was finally withdrawn, they might plead human sympathies, broad, deep, and legitimate, and that they committed no moral offence. Their case is, therefore, one with that of the oppressed provinces in their neighbourhood. It would have been as reasonable for the thirteen colonies of America in 1782, to negotiate separately for peace with Great Britain, as it would be for Europe in 1876 to allow that, in a settlement with Turkey, the five cases of Servia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Bulgaria, should be dealt with otherwise than as the connected limbs of one and the same transaction.
There is yet one other danger. Do not let us ask for, do not let us accept, Jonahs or scapegoats, either English or Turkish. It is not a change of men that we want, but a change of measures. New Sultans or ministers among Turks, new consuls or new ambassadors in Turkey, would only in my opinion divert us, at this moment, from the great practical aims in view. Besides, if we are to talk of changing men, the first question that will arise will be that of our Ministers at home, to whose policy and bias both Ministers and subordinate officers abroad always feel a loyal desire as far as may be to conform. In my hope and my opinion, when once the old illusions as to British sentiment are dispelled, and Lord Derby is set free, with his clear, impartial mind and unostentatious character, to shape the course of the Administration, he will both faithfully and firmly give effect to the wishes of the country.
We come now to consider the objects we should desire and seek for through our Government.
|1.||To put a stop to the anarchical misrule (let the phrase be excused), the plundering, the murdering, which, as we now seem to learn, upon sufficient evidence, still desolate Bulgaria.|
|2.||To make effectual provision against the recurrence of the outrages recently perpetrated under the sanction of the Ottoman Government, by excluding its administrative action for the future, not only from Bosnia and the Herzegovine, but also, and above all, from Bulgaria; upon which at best there will remain, for years and for generations, the traces of its foul and bloody hand.|
|3.||To redeem by these measures the honour of the British name, which, in the deplorable events of the year, has been more gravely compromised than I have known it to be at any former period.|
I have named, then, three great aims, which ought I think at this crisis to be engraved on the heart, and demanded by the voice, of Britain. I may be asked, either seriously or tauntingly, whether there is not also a fourth to be added, namely, the maintenance of the "territorial integrity of Turkey."
In order to comprehend the force and bearing of this expression, it is necessary to go back for a moment to the Crimean War. The watchword of that War, and of the policy which preceded it, was "The integrity and independence of Turkey." Of those two phrases, integrity and independence, the bearing is perfectly distinct. The first is negative, the second positive. The integrity of Turkey will be maintained by a titular sovereignty, verified as it were through a moderate payment of tribute, in order that Ottoman sovereignty may serve the purpose of shutting out from the present limits of the Turkish Empire any other sovereignty, or any exercise, in whole or in part, of sovereign rights by any other Power, whether it be Russia on the Euxine, or Austria on the Danube, or France or England on the Nile and the Red Sea.
The independence of the Ottoman Empire is a very different affair. It meant at the time of the Crimean war, and it means now, that, apart from Roumania and Servia, where Europe is already formally concerned, and apart from any arrangements self-made with a vassal State like Egypt, which can hold its own against Constantinople, the Porte is to be left in the actual, daily, and free administration of all the provinces of its vast dominion.
Now, as regards the territorial integrity of Turkey, I for one am still desirous to see it upheld, though I do not say that desire should be treated as of a thing paramount to still higher objects of policy. For of all the objects of policy, in my conviction, humanity, rationally under-stood, and in due relation to justice, is the first and highest. My belief is that this great aim need not be compromised, and that other important objects would be gained, by maintaining the territorial integrity of Turkey.
There is no reason to suppose that, at the present moment, any of the Continental Powers are governed by selfish or aggressive views in their page 27 Eastern policy. The neighbours of Turkey, namely, Austria and Russia, are the two Powers who might, in many conceivable states of European affairs, most naturally be tempted into plans of self-aggrandisement at her expense. But the peculiar conformation of Austria, in respect to territories and to the races which inhabit them, has operated, and will probably at least for the present operate, so as to neutralise this temptation. In the case of Russia, we have, been playing, through our Government, a game of extreme indiscretion. Pretending to thwart, to threaten, and to bully her, we have most mal-adroitly, and most assiduously, played into her hands, livery circumstance of the most obvious prudence dictates to Russia, for the present epoch, what is called the waiting game. Her policy is, to preserve or to restore tranquillity for the present, and to take the chances of the future. We have acted towards her as if she had a present conspiracy in hand, and as if the future did not exist, or never could arrive. But, regard it or not, arrive it will. It offers Russia many chances. One acquisition, if now made by her, would bring those chances very near to certainties. In European Turkey, it cannot be too often repeated, the Christian element is the growing, and the Turkish the decaying one. If a conviction can be engendered in the Christian, that is for the present purpose mainly the Sclavonic mind of the Turkish provinces, that Russia is their stay, and England their enemy, then indeed the command of Russia over the future of Eastern Europe is assured. And this conviction, through the last six months, we have done everything that was in our power to beget and to confirm.
But we may, I hope, say truly what Louis Napoleon, in 1870, telegraphed in error: tout peut se rétablir. Russia has in late years done much to estrange the Greek Christians of the Levant: and the Sclaves will, we may be sure, be at least as ready to accept help from Powers which are perforce more disinterested, as from Powers that may hereafter hope and claim to be repaid for it in political influence or supremacy. It is surely wise, then, to avail ourselves of that happy approach to unanimity which prevails among the Powers, and to avert, or at the very least postpone, as long as we honourably can, the wholesale scramble, which is too likely to follow upon any premature abandonment of the principle of territorial integrity for Turkey. I for one will avoid even the infinitesimal share of responsibility, which alone could now belong to any of my acts or words, for inviting a crisis, of which at this time the dimensions must be large, and may be almost illimitable.
But even that crisis I for one would not agree to avert, or to post-pone, at the cost of leaving room for the recurrence of the Bulgarian horrors. Nothing could exceed the mockery, and nothing could redeem the disgrace, of a pretended settlement, which should place it in the power of Turkey to revive these fell Satanic orgies: a disgrace of which the largest share would accrue to England, but of which the smallest share would be large indeed. The public of this country, now I trust awakened from sloth to nobleness, may begin to fear lest the integrity of Turkey should mean immunity for her unbounded savagery, her unbridled and bestial lust. I think these apprehensions, so reason- page 28 able in principle, or if there were ground for them, may be dismissed upon an observation of the facts. We have, in the neighbouring province of Roumania, a testimony which appears to be nearly conclusive. For twenty years it has, while paying tribute to the Porte, and acknowledging its supremacy, enjoyed an entire autonomy or self-government. It has constituted a real barrier for Turkey against the possibilities of foreign aggression. It has overcome for itself serious internal difficulties in the adjustment of the relations between class and class. It has withstood the temptation to join in the Servian war. Guaranteed by Europe, it has had no grave complaint to make against Turkey for the violation of its stipulated rights, which have indeed been not inconsiderably enlarged. With such an example before us, let us hope at least that the territorial integrity of Turkey need not be impaired, while Europe summons and requires her to adopt the measure which is the very least that the case demands, namely the total withdrawal of the administrative rule of the Turks from Bulgaria, as well as, and even more than, from Herzegovina and from Bosnia.
But even this minimum of satisfaction for the past, and of security for the future, I am sorrowfully convinced will not be obtained, unless the public voice of this country shall sound it clearly and loudly beyond all chances of mistake, in the ears of the Administration. We have fortunately obtained a rather recent disclosure of the purposes of the Government through the mouth of the Prime Minister. On the 31st of July (when we knew so much less than now), after endeavouring to describe the hopeless impotence of the Turkish Government, and to point out that any effectual measures of redress or security must lie in the direction of local self-government for the disturbed provinces, I expressed the hope that this end might be obtained compatibly with the "territorial integrity" of Turkey. The Prime Minister, who followed me in the debate, did me the honour to refer to this portion of my speech, and said I had recommended the re-establishment of the status quo. Across the table I at once threw the interjection, "not status quo, but territorial integrity." The Prime Minister promptly replied, that territorial integrity would be found virtually to mean the status quo. Now the territorial integrity means the retention of a titular supremacy, which serves the purpose of warding off foreign aggression. The status quo means the maintenance of Turkish administrative authority in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Bulgaria. Territorial integrity shuts out the foreign state; the status quo shuts out the inhabitants of the country, and keeps (I fear) everything to the Turk, with his airy promises, his disembodied reforms, his ferocious passions, and his daily gross and incurable misgovernment. This, then, is the latest present indication of British policy, the re-establishment of the status quo. Let us take the phrase out of the dress of the learned language, which somewhat hides its beauty. It means "as you were." It means the re-establishment of the same forms and the same opportunities, which again mean, on the arrival of the first occasion, the same abuses and the same crimes. This purpose of the Government, I feel convinced, is not irrevocable. But it will only be revoked, if we may take experience for our guide, under the distinct and intelligible action of public opinion. No man page 29 will so well understand as the Prime Minister what is the force and weight of that opinion; and at what stage, in the development of a national movement, its expression should no longer be resisted.
Since the ominous declaration of Lord Beaconsfield on the status quo, or "as you were" policy, there has appeared a letter from Mr. Bourke, the Under-Secretary of the Foreign Office; which could not have been written without higher sanction. Of this letter, the positive part is null, the negative part important. It assures us of the indignation of the Government at the crimes committed by the Turks. It might as well assure us of their indignation at the crimes of Panton, or of Robespierre, or of Nana Sahib. Indignation is froth, except as it leads to action. This indignation has led, he says, to remonstrance. I say that mere remonstrance, in this case, is mockery. The only two things that are worth saying, the Under-Secretary does not say. The first of them would have been that, until these horrible outrages are redressed, and their authors punished, the British Government would withdraw from Turkey the moral and even material support we have been lending her against Europe. The other was, that after crimes of so vast a scale and so deep a dye, the British Government would no longer be a party to the maintenance of Turkish administration in Bulgaria. It is, then, the negative part of this letter that signifies. Mr. Bourke's words, viewing their date, are futile. But his silence is trumpet-tongued: it proclaims that even last week, on the 27th of August, the Government were still unconverted; and, warning us what we have to expect, it spurs the people of England onwards in the movement, which is to redeem its compromised and endangered honour.
It would not be practicable, even if it were honourable, to disguise the real character of what we want from the Government. It is a change of attitude and policy, nothing less. We want them to undo and efface that too just impression, which, while keeping their own countrymen so much in the dark, they have succeeded in propagating throughout Europe, that we are the determined supporters of the Turk, and that, declaring his "integrity and independence" essential to "British interests," we have winked hard, and shall wink, if such be, harder still, according to the exigencies of the case, alike at his crimes and at his impotence. We want to place ourselves in harmony with the general sentiment of civilised mankind, instead of being any longer, as we seem to be, the Evil Genius which dogs, and mars, and baffles it. We want to make the Turk understand that, in conveying this impression by word and act to his mind, the British Government have misunderstood, and, therefore, have misrepresented, the sense of the British people.
But this change is dependent on an emphatic expression of the national sentiment, which is but beginning to be heard. It has grown from a whisper to a sound; it will grow' from a sound to a peal. But what, until it shall vibrate with such force as to awaken the Administration? It is melancholy, but it is also true, that we, who upon this Eastern ground fought with Russia, and thought Austria slack, and Germany all but servile, have actually for months past been indebted, and are even now indebted, to all or some of these very Powers, possibly page 30 to Russia most among them, for having played the part which we think specially our own, in resistance to tyranny, in befriending the oppressed, in labouring for the happiness of mankind. I say the time has come for us to emulate Russia by sharing in her good deeds, and to reserve our opposition until she shall visibly endeavour to turn them to evil account.
There is no reason to apprehend serious difficulty in the Councils of Europe on this subject. All the powers, except ourselves, have already been working in this direction. Nor is there any ground to suppose that the Ottoman Government will tenaciously resist a scheme based on the intention to do all in its favour that its own misconduct, and the fearful crimes of its trusted agents, have left possible. To do this Government justice, a distinction must be drawn between what depends upon a decision to be taken at Constantinople once for all, and the permanent vitalizing force required for the discharge of the daily duties of administration all over its vast empire. The central agency at the capital, always under the eye of the representatives of the European Powers and in close contact with them, has acquired, and traditionally transmits, a good deal of the modes of European speech and thought. It is when they try to convey these influences to the provinces and the subordinate agents, who share little or none of that beneficial contact and supervision, that they, except here and there by some happy accident of personal virtue, habitually and miserably break down. The promises of a Turkish Ministry given simply to Europe are generally good; those given to its own subjects or concerning its own affairs are, without imputing absolute mendacity, of such tried and demonstrated worthlessness, that any Ambassador or any State, who should trust them, must come under suspicion of nothing less than fraud by wilful connivance. The engagement of a Turkish Ministry, taken in concert with Europe, that Bulgaria, or any other province, shall now settle and hereafter conduct its own local government and affairs, would carry within itself the guarantee of its own execution. The only question is, whether it would be given or withheld. I am disposed to believe it would be given, not withheld; and for this reason. I know of no case in which Turkey has refused to accede to the counsel of United Europe—nay, even of less than United Europe, if Europe was not in actual schism with itself under unwise or factious influences. In the matter of Greece, in the Union of the Principalities after the Crimean War, and in the conduct of its relations (for example) with Persia and with Egypt, there has been abundant proof that the Ottoman Porte is no more disposed than other governments, in the homely phrase, to drive its head against a brick wall. It has known how to yield, not ungracefully, to real necessity, without provoking violence. And those of its self-constituted friends, who warn us against an outburst of wild Mahommedan fanaticism within the Cabinet of Constantinople, and in the year 1876, found themselves on notions drawn from their own fancy, or from what they call having been in the East, much more than on the recorded lessons of political and diplomatic experience.
No doubt there will be difficulties to overcome when these provinces set about their own affairs in adjusting relations with the Mahometan page 31 minorities. These are difficulties insurmountable to those who have not the will to surmount them, but easily surmounted under the real pressure of such a case. They were surmounted in Greece; and at this hour, as we learn by the very recent testimony of Sir Charles Trevelyan, Mahometan landlords in Euboea live contentedly under the Government of that country. Mahometan, it must be remembered, does not mean the same as Turk. And in none of these provinces has it been in the main a case of war between conflicting religions or local races: nearly the whole mischief has lain in the wretched laws, and the agents at once violent and corrupt, of a distant central Power, which (having none others) let these agents loose upon its territory; and which has always physical force at its command to back outrage with the sanction of authority, but has no moral force whatever, no power either of checking evil or of doing good.
But I return to, and I end with, that which is the Omega as well as the Alpha of this great and most mournful case. An old servant of the Crown and State, I entreat my countrymen, upon whom far more than perhaps any other people of Europe it depends, to require and to insist, that our Government, which has been working in one direction, shall work in the other, and shall apply all its vigour to concur with the other States of Europe in obtaining the extinction of the Turkish executive power in Bulgaria. Let the Turks now carry away their abuses in the only possible manner, namely by carrying off themselves. Their Zaptiehs and their Mudirs, their Bimbashis and their Yuzbachis, their Kaimakams and their Pashas, one and all, bag and baggage, shall, I hope, clear out from the province they have desolated and profaned. This thorough riddance, this most blessed deliverance, is the only reparation we can make to the memory of those heaps on heaps of dead; to the violated purity alike of matron, of maiden, and of child; to the civilisation which has been affronted and shamed; to the laws of God or, if you like, of Allah; to the moral sense of mankind at large. There is not a criminal in an European gaol, there is not a cannibal in the South Sea Islands, whose indignation would not arise and overboil at the recital of that which has been done, which has too late been examined, but which remains unavenged; which has left behind all the foul and all the fierce passions that produced it, and which may again spring up, in another murderous harvest, from the soil soaked and reeking with blood, and in the air tainted with every imaginable deed of crime and shame. That such things should be done once, is a damning disgrace to the portion of our race which did them; that a door should be left open for their ever-so-barely possible repetition would spread that shame over the whole. Better, we may justly tell the Sultan, almost any inconvenience, difficulty, or loss associated with Bulgaria,
Than thou reseated in thy place of light,
The mockery of thy people and their bane."*
* Tennyson's 'Guinevere.'
But we have not yet fallen to so low a depth of degradation; and it may cheerfully be hoped that, before many weeks have passed, the wise and energetic counsels of the Powers, again united, may have begun to afford relief to the overcharged emotion of a shuddering world.
Having done with the argumentative portion of the case, I desire to perform yet one other duty, by reminding my countrymen that measures appear to be most urgently required for the relief of want, disease, and every form of suffering in Bulgaria. Lady Strangford, following, I believe, the example of Mr. Freeman, has, with energetic benevolence, proposed to undertake this work. It seems to me to go far beyond the powers of any individual, however active and intelligent. I will presume to urge that, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, there is a call upon Her Majesty's Government to take the matter in hand. I do not mean by means of a grant of public money: but by communicating with the municipal and local authorities, and submitting to them the expediency of opening subscriptions: by placing the whole machinery of the Embassy at Constantinople and of the Consulates and Vice-Consulates at the service of the undertaking; and by supplying men able to organize and superintend the distribution, of relief from the military and possibly also the naval departments.
Sept 05, 1876.