Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 25


page break

In the difficult question of the East, entangled by go many cross-purposes and interests, the people of this country have shown a just, but a very remarkable, disposition to repose confidence in the Government of the day: and the Government of the day has availed itself to the uttermost of that disposition. For months the nation was content, though measures and communications known to be of the highest interest were in progress, to remain without official information, and to subsist upon the fragmentary and uncertain notices which alone would transpire through the press. It had to dispense not only with official information, but with discussion in the House of Commons. Only on the thirty-first of July did the House of Commons receive, from the bounty of the Government, after interminable delays and in the dregs of the Session, a single night in which to review the transactions of the Administration, together with those of other Powers, during a twelvemonth, and to ascertain the prospects and policy of the coming recess. The lateness of the period fixed for the debate went far to insure its inefficiency. But this was not enough; and further precautions were adopted. It was announced that, if the debate overflowed this narrow limit, it could only be finished in fragments; the ordinary business of the Government must proceed in preference to it, but it could doubtless be renewed on some day of yet thinner benches, deeper exhaustion, and greater nearness to the Twelfth of August, the principal and inviolate festival of the sportsman's calendar.

So much for discussion. Next as to information. For not weeks only but months together, appeal after appeal was made to the Government to supply Parliament with full and authentic information, in lieu of the scanty and uncertain notices which alone could be obtained from unofficial sources. Appeal alter appeal was met with dilatory pleas. In these pleas, taken singly, there may often be much reason; but, in the aggregate, they were pushed to excess. Some measure was in progress, and could not be explained till it was completed; or was completed, and therefore a thing of the past, which had disappeared from the range of discussion; or was in contemplation, and the public interest would suffer by disclosure. During this time, instead of preparing the papers and documents, to be ready for instant presentation, when presentation might be allowable, they were left unprepared, so that after page 8 every reason and every pretext for withholding them had been exhausted, precious weeks were lost afresh in the necessary labours for, and of, the press.

And the ending of this extraordinary confidence on the one side, and of these free drafts upon it from the other, what has it been? That we have had by degrees, from private and voluntary exertion, the knowledge which it was the bounden duty of the Administration to supply: and that, by the light which this knowledge casts upon past events we learn with astonishment and horror that, so far as appears, we have been involved, in some amount, at least, of moral complicity with the basest and blackest outrages upon record within the present century, if not within the memory of man.

The effect of the course which was taken by the Government was by no means confined within the walls of Parliament. For securing the escape of a great question from public vigilance there is no expedient comparable to adjourning Parliamentary discussion of it until the dying hours of a Session. For thus it is brought before the public mind at a time when the nation is in holiday, when society as well as Parliament is prorogued, when the natural leaders of every country or municipal community are dispersed. It is the great vacation of the year, when no one expects, and few will consent, to be called to serious business. All, who are acquainted with the inner working of our Parliamentary as well as our social system, know the weight as well as the truth of what I now say.

The state of the case, then, is this. The House of Commons has in the main been ousted from that legitimate share of influence which I may call its jurisdiction in the case. A subject of paramount weight goes before the people at the time when the classes having leisure, and usually contributing most to form and guide public opinion, are scattered, as disjointed units, over the face of this and of other countries. In default of Parliamentary action, and a public concentrated as usual, we must proceed as we can, with impaired means of appeal. But honour, duty, compassion, and I must add shame, are sentiments never in a state of coma. The working men of the country, whose condition is less affected than that of others by the season, have to their honour led the way, and shown that the great heart of Britain has not ceased to beat. And the large towns and cities, now following in troops, are echoing back, each from its own place, the mingled notes of horror, pain, and indignation.

Let them understand that the importance of their meetings, on this occasion at least, cannot be overrated. As Inkerman was the soldiers' battle, so this is the nation's crisis. The question is not only whether unexampled wrongs shall receive effectual and righteous condemnation, but whether the only effective security shall be taken against its repetition. In order to take this security, the nation will have to speak through its Government: but we now see clearly that it must first teach its Government, almost as it would teach a lisping child, what to say. Then will be taken out of the way of an united Europe the sole efficient obstacle to the punishment of a gigantic wrong.

I have thus far endeavoured to describe how it has come about that the nation, deprived of its most rightful and most constitutional aids, page 9 has been called upon at the season when the task would, under ordinary circumstances be impossible, to choose between leaving its most sacred duties unperformed, and taking the performance of them primarily into its own hands.

Had the call upon the country been only that of Serna, Bosnia, and the Herzegovina, it would have been a grave one. But it is now graver far. By a slow and difficult process, the details of which I shall presently consider, and through the aid partly of newspaper correspondence, and partly of the authorised agent of a foreign State, but not through our own Parliament, or administration, or establishments abroad, we now know in detail that there have been perpetrated, under the immediate authority of a Government to which all the time we have been giving the strongest moral, and for part of the time even material support, crimes and outrages, so vast in scale as to exceed all modern example, and so unutterably vile as well as fierce in character, that it passes the power of heart to conceive, and of tongue and pen adequately to describe them. These are the Bulgarian horrors; and the question is, What can and should be done, either to punish, or to brand, or to prevent?

The details of these abominations may be read in published Reports, now known to be accurate in the main. They are hardly fit for reproduction. The authors of the crimes are the agents, the trusted, and in some instances, the since-promoted servants,* of the Turkish Government. The moral and material support, which during the year has been afforded to the Turkish Government, has been given by the Government of England on behalf of the people of England. In order to a full comprehension of the practical question at issue, it will be necessary to describe the true character and position of the Turkish Power, and the policy, as I think it the questionable and erroneous policy, of the British Administration.

Let me endeavour very briefly to sketch, in the rudest outline, what the Turkish race was and what it is. It is not a question of Mahometanism simply, but of Mahometanism compounded with the peculiar character of a race. They are not the mild Mahometans of India, nor the chivalrous Saladins of Syria, nor the cultured Moors of Spain. They were, upon the whole, from the black day when they first entered Europe, the one great anti-human specimen of humanity. Wherever they went, a broad line of blood marked the track behind them; and, as far as their dominion reached, civilisation disappeared from view. They represented everywhere government by force, as opposed to government by law. For the guide of this life they had a relentless fatalism: for its reward hereafter, a sensual paradise.

They were indeed a tremendous incarnation of military power. This advancing curse menaced the whole of Europe. It was only stayed, and that not in one generation, but in many, by the heroism of the European population of those very countries, part of which form at this moment the scene of war, and the anxious subject of diplomatic action.

* Of these there are named Ahmed Aga and Tussum Bey (Mr. Schuyler); also Chevket Pacha (Consul Reade).—Papers 5, p. 18.

page 10 In the olden time, all Western Christendom sympathised with the resistance to the common enemy; and even during the hot and fierce struggles of the Reformation, there were prayers, if I mistake not, offered up in the English churches for the success of the Emperor, the head of the Roman Catholic power and influence, in his struggles with the Turk.

But although the Turk represented force as opposed to the law, yet not even a government of force can be maintained without the aid of an intellectual element, such as he did not possess. Hence there grew up, what has been rare in the history of the world, a kind of tolerance in the midst of cruelty, tyranny, and rapine. Much of Christian life was contemptuously let alone; much of the subordinate functions of government was allowed to devolve upon the bishops; and a race of Greeks was attracted to Constantinople, which has all along made up, in some degree, the deficiencies of Turkish Islam in the element of mind, and which at this moment provides the Porte with its long known, and, I must add, highly esteemed Ambassador in London. Then there have been from time to time, but rarely, statesmen whom we have been too ready to mistake for specimens of what Turkey might become, whereas they were in truth more like lusus natures, on the favourable side; monsters, so to speak, of virtue or intelligence; and there were (and are) also, scattered through the community, men who were not indeed real citizens, but yet who have exhibited the true civic virtues, and who would have been citizens had there been a true polity around them. Besides all this, the conduct of the race has gradually been brought more under the eye of an Europe, which it has lost its power to resist or to defy; and its central government, in conforming perforce to many of the forms and traditions of civilisation, has occasionally caught something of their spirit.

This, I think, is not an untrue description of the past, or even of the present. The decay of martial energy, in a Power which was for centuries the terror of the world, is wonderful. Of the two hundred millions sterling which in twenty years it borrowed from the credulity of European Exchanges, a large part has been spent upon its military and naval establishments. The result is before us. It is at war with Servia, which has a population, I think, under a million and a half, and an army which is variously stated at from five to eight thousand; the rest of those bearing arms are a hitherto half-drilled militia. It is also at war with the few scores of thousands of that very martial people who inhabit the mountain tract of Montenegro. Upon these handfuls of our race, an empire of more than thirty millions discharges all its might: for this purpose it applies all its own resources, and the whole of the property of its creditors; and, after two months of desperate activity, it greatly plumes itself upon having incompletely succeeded against Servia, and less doubtfully tailed against Montenegro. Shades of Bajazets, Amuraths, and Mahmouds!

Twenty years ago, France and England determined to try a great experiment in remodelling the administrative system of Turkey, with the hope of curing its intolerable vices, and of making good its not less intolerable deficiencies. For this purpose, having defended her integrity page 11 they made also her independence secure; and they devised at Constantinople the reforms, which were publicly enacted in an Imperial Firman or Hatti-humayoum. The successes of the Crimean War, purchased (with the aid of Sardinia) by a vast expenditure of French and English life and treasure, gave to Turkey, for the first time perhaps in her blood-stained history, twenty years of a repose not disturbed either by herself or by any foreign Power. The Cretan insurrection imparted a shock to confidence; but it was composed, and Turkey again was trusted. The insurrections of 1875, much more thoroughly examined, have disclosed the total failure of the Porte to fulfil the engagements which she had contracted under circumstances peculiarly binding on interest, on honour, and on gratitude. Even these miserable insurrections, she had not the ability to put down. In the midway of the current events, a lurid glare is thrown over the whole case by the Bulgarian horrors. The knowledge of these events is, whether by indifference or bungling, kept back from us, but only for a time. The proofs are now sufficiently before us. And the case is this. Turkey, which stood only upon force, has in the main lost that force. It is a Prussian, we learn, who has planned her campaign. Power is gone, and the virtues, such as they are, of power; nothing but its passions and its pride remain.

It is time, then, to clear an account which we have long, perhaps too long, left unsettled, and almost unexamined.

In the discussion of this great and sad subject, the attitude and the proceedings of the British Government cannot possibly be left out of view. Indeed, the topic is, from the nature of the case, so prominent, and from the acts done, so peculiar, that I could hardly be excused from stating in express and decided terms what appear to me its grave errors; were it only that I may not seem, by an apparent reserve, also to insinuate against them a purposed complicity in crime, which it would be not only rash, but even wicked, to impute. The consequences of their acts have been, in my view, deplorable. But as respects the acts themselves, and the motives they appear to indicate, the faults I find are these. They have not understood the rights and duties, in regard to the subjects, and particularly the Christian subjects, of Turkey, which inseparably attach to this country in consequence of the Crimean War, and of the Treaty of Paris in 1856. They have been remiss when they ought to have been active; namely, in efforts to compose the Eastern revolts, by making provision against the terrible misgovernment which provoked them. They have been active, where they ought to have been circumspect and guarded. It is a grave charge, which cannot be withheld, that they have given to a maritime measure of humane precaution the character of a military demonstration in support of the Turkish Government. They have seemed to be moved too little by an intelligent appreciation of prior obligations, and of the broad and deep interests of humanity, and too much by a disposition to keep out of sight what was disagreeable and might be inconvenient, and to consult and flatter the public opinion of the day in its ordinary, that is to say, its narrow, selfish, epicurean humour. I admit that, until a recent date, an opinion widely prevailed, and perhaps was not confined to any par- page 12 ticular party, that this game had been played with success and even brilliancy, and that, amidst whatever mishaps and miscarriages elsewhere, the Government stood high upon its foreign, that is, its Eastern policy, in the approval of the country.

Since that time, but two or three weeks have elapsed. But a curtain opaque and dense, which at the Prorogation had been lifted but a few inches from the ground, has since then—from day to day—been slowly rising. And what a scene it has disclosed! and where! Nearly four long months have passed, during which there has been maintained in this country, almost until now, an unnatural and deadly calm. We now look backwards over this tract of lethargy as over days of ease purchased by dishonour, the prolonged fascination of an evil dream. A voice, an almost solitary voice, sounded indeed over sea and land, in the month of June, to warn us of what was going on. There was no want of ears disposed to listen, when the tale was told of wholesale massacre perpetrated by the authority of a Government to which we had procured, in our living memory, twenty years of grace; and to which, without inquiring how those years had been employed, we had this year defied Europe in affording the strong support of the British name. Nor was this all; for those wholesale massacres were declared to be complicated and set off with crimes, by the side of which the horror and infamy of massacre itself grew pale. But what then? These allegations came from a nameless, an irresponsible, newspaper correspondent. With the instinct of prudent Englishmen, startled Peers and Members of Parliament put question after question to the Government. The effect, the general sense of the answers was what I may call a moral, though not a verbal, denial. Whatever they were meant to produce, they did produce the result, not of belief qualified by a reserve for occasional error, but of disbelief qualified by a reserve for purely accidental truth. And this was the attitude which, conformably to general and needful rules, we could not do otherwise than assume. For what was the staple of those answers? They consisted of warnings against exaggeration; of general attenuations of the matter, as what must be expected to happen among savage races, with a different idea or code of morals from our own; of cynical remarks, such as that the allegations of lingering inflictions hardly could be true, since the Turkish taste was known to incline towards dispatch; of difficulties in deciding on which side lay the balance of crime and cruelty; of bold assurances that the insurgents were the aggressors, suggesting the reflection that the chief responsibility must rest on him who strikes the first blow; of acquittals of the Turkish armies and authorities in general, by suggesting that we were really dealing with a momentary outbreak of fanaticism among a handful of irregulars, gone by almost as soon as come; and, above all, at first with calm denials of knowledge. It was these denials of knowledge, which we believe to amount to a negative demonstration.

For we know that we had a well-manned Embassy at Constantinople, and a network of Consulates and Vice-Consulates, really discharging diplomatic duties, all over the provinces of European Turkey. That villages could be burnt down by scores, and men, women, and children murdered, or worse than murdered, by thousands, in a Turkish page 13 province lying between the capital and the scene of the recent excitements, and that our Embassy and Consulates could know nothing of it? The thing was impossible. It could not be. So silence was obtained, and relief; and the well-oiled machinery of our luxurious, indifferent life worked smoothly on. There was a pressure of inquiry, but the door was each time quickly closed upon the question, as the stone lid used to be shut down, in the Campo Santo of Naples, upon the mass of human corpses that lay festering beneath.

But inquiry was to be made. And at this point I think the Government are to be charged with a serious offence. For inquiry, in these times, means the employment of the Telegraph. But I must here turn aside for a moment, in the endeavour to do an act of justice.

The first alarm respecting the Bulgarian outrages was, I believe, that sounded in the 'Daily News,' on the 23rd of June. I am sensible of the many services constantly rendered by free journalism to humanity, to freedom, and to justice. I do not undervalue the performances, on this occasion, of the Times,' the Doyen of the press in this country, and perhaps in the world, or of the 'Daily Telegraph and our other great organs. But of all these services, so far as my knowledge goes, that which has been rendered by the' Daily News,' through its foreign correspondence on this occasion, has been the most weighty, I may say, the most splendid.* "We are now informed (Pari. Papers, No. 5, p. 6) that the accounts received by the German Government confirm its report. It is even possible that, but for the courage, determination, and ability of this single organ, we might, even at this moment, have remained in darkness, and Bulgarian wretchedness might have been without its best and brightest hope.

On the 26th of June, the Duke of Argyll, in the House of Lords, and Mr. Forster in the House of Commons, made anxious inquiries respecting the statements contained in a communication from the correspondent of the 'Daily News,' which had been published in the paper of the 23rd, following a more general statement on the 10th. In order not to load these pages too heavily, as well as on other grounds, I shall cite or describe, in referring to these proceedings, chiefly the replies of the Head of the Government.

In answer, then, to Mr. Forster, Mr. Disraeli said, "We have no information in our possession which justifies the statements, to which the Right Hon. gentleman refers" The disturbances appeared to have been begun "by strangers, burning the villages without reference to religion or race" A war was carried on between "Bashi-Bazouks and Circassians," on one side, and "the invaders" on the other, and no doubt, "with great atrocity," much to be deplored. Since that time, measures had been adopted to stop these "Bashi-Bazouks and Circassians." "I will merely repeat," he concluded, "that the informa

* I believe it is understood that the gentleman who has fought this battle—for a battle it has been—with such courage, intelligence, and conscientious care, is Mr. Pears, of Constantinople, correspondent of the 'Daily News,' for Bulgaria.

page 14 tion which we have at various times received does not justify the statements made in the journal which he has named."*

I must add Lord Derby's concluding sentence:—

"As the noble Duke has thought the evidence in this matter sufficient to justify him in bringing the subject before the House, I will make further inquiry, and communicate the result to your Lordships."

There were reasons enough why others besides the Duke of Argyll, should have thought the evidence sufficient to require some notice. For, in the statement of the 'Daily News,' there were contained these ominous words:

June 16.—"Even now it is openly asserted by the Turks, that England has determined to help the Government to put down the various insurrections. England, says a Turkish journal, will defend us against Russia, while we look after our rebels."

So much for the first attempt to throw light into these dark places. On the 8th of July, the 'Daily News' inserted a second communication from its correspondent at Constantinople, confirming and extending the purport of the first. On the 10th, Mr. Forster renewed his inquiries. Mr. Disraeli stated, that there had not yet been time to receive any reply to the inquiries made. And this, though the Telegraph passes in a few hours, and the statement in question had appeared on the 23rd of June. Even now the only efficient instrument was not put in action, nor did this happen until July 14th; and within five days after that date, a British agent was on his way to the bloody scene. It is absolutely necessary that Her Majesty's Government should explain why the Telegraph had not at once been employed on the 26th or 27th of June.

But other parts of the First Minister's reply require notice. He hoped, "for the sake of human nature itself," that the statements were scarcely warranted. There had without doubt been atrocities in Bulgaria. This was a war "not carried on by regular troops, in this case not even by irregular troops, but by a sort of posse comitatûs of an armed population." "I doubt whether torture".... "has been practised on a great scale among an historical people, who seldom have, I believe, resorted to torture, but generally terminate their connection with culprits in a more expeditious manner ([unclear: oughter])." Every effort had been made, and would continue to be made, "to soften and mitigate as much as possible the terrible scene that are now inevitably occurring." Atrocities, he believed, were "inevitable, when wars are carried on in certain countries, and between certain races."§

Down to this date what we have to observe is—

First. The deplorable inefficiency of the arrangements of the Government for receiving information.

Secondly. The yet more deplorable tardiness of the means adopted, under Parliamentary pressure, for enlarging their store of knowledge.

* 'Times,' June 27.

Pari. Papers, Turkey, 1876, No. 3, p. 336.

Papers, No. 5, p. 1.

§ 'Times,' July 15. Lord Beaconsfield has, in the 'Times' of this day (Sept. 7), corrected the report as given above, by substituting "oriental" for "historical."

page 15
Thirdly. The effect of the answers of the Prime Minister, from which it could not but be collected, by Parliament and the public,
a.That the responsibility lay in the first instance with certain "invaders of Bulgaria."
b.That the deplorable atrocities, which had occurred, were fairly divided, and were such as were incidental to wars "between certain races" What could and did this mean, but between Circassians on the one side, and Bulgarians on the other? It now appears that the Circassians had but a very small share in the matter.
c.While the Bulgarians were thus loaded with an even share of responsibility for the "atrocities," we were given to understand that the Turkish Government, and its authorized agents, appeared to be no parties to them.
d.That the "scenes," that is, as is now demonstrated, the wholesale murders, rapes, tortures, burnings, and the whole devilish enginery of crime, "were to be mitigated and softened as much as possible."

I am concerned to subjoin the following declarations stated to have been made by Lord Derby to a Deputation on the 14th of July.

"He did not in the least doubt that there had been many acts of cruelty, and of wanton cruelty, committed by the irregular troops of both sides... It was not a case of lambs and wolves, but of some savage races, fighting in a peculiarly savage manner."*

This declaration is a gross wrong inadvertently done to the people of Bulgaria, and it ought to be withdrawn.

Again, on the 17th of July, Mr. Baxter revived the interrogatories. By this time, as we have seen, the Government had used the Telegraph, and they had ordered on the 15th a real and special inquiry from Constantinople. The subject could no longer be entirely trifled with. The Prime Minister made a lengthened statement, which occupies two columns of the 'Times.' The main portion of it was extracted from official reports, which are now before the world, and which did not in the smallest degree sustain either the doctrine of a fair division of the blame of inevitable atrocities, or an acquittal of the Turkish Government. But the Minister added matter of his own. What wonder was it, as to the Circassians, that "when their villages were burned and their farms ravaged," "they should take matters into their own hands, and endeavour to defend themselves?" "Scenes had occurred towards the end of May, and so on," "from which with our feelings "—what fine feelings we have!—" we naturally recoil." "We were constantly communicating," "I will not say remonstrating, with the Turkish Government," for "the Turkish Government was most anxious to be guided by the advice of the British Ambassador." And still the guilt was to stand as a fairly divided guilt.

"There is no doubt that acts on both sides, as necessarily would

* 'Times,' July 1.

page 16 be the case under such circumstances, were equally terrible and atrocious."*

Observe: though information on particulars was still wanting, one thing was placed beyond doubt, the equality of guilt and infamy. And I am still, writing on the 5th of September, dependent mainly on a foreign source for any official vouchor to bring this testimony to the test. Mr. Schuyler, on the 22nd of August, reports to the American Government that the outrages of the Turks were fully established. He proceeds as follows, with more to the same effect: "An attempt, however, has been made—and not by Turks alone—to defend and to palliate them, on the ground of the previous atrocities which, it is alleged, were committed by the Bulgarians. I have carefully investigated this point; and am unable to find that the Bulgarians committed any outrages or atrocities, or any acts which deserve that name. I have vainly tried to obtain from the Turkish officials a list of such outrages.... No Turkish women or children were killed in cold blood. No Mussulmen woman were violated. No Mussulmans were tortured. No purely Turkish village was attacked or burned. No Mussulman house was pillaged. No mosque was desecrated or destroyed."

The declarations, which had proceeded from the highest authority in the highest Parliamentary Assembly of the world, produced, at the time, an immense effect. They did not remove suspicion, but they effectually baffled and checkmated it, so far as the prevailing sentiment in this country was concerned. So that when, on the 7th of August, the question of cruelties in Bulgaria was yet again raised, a member, and not a young member, "deprecated," says Mr. Boss, in his valuable Record, "party speeches against the Turkish Government."

But it was not only within these shores that the language of the Government was heard. It rang through an astonished Europe. It reached, and it was questioned in, Constantinople. The Courrier d' Orient was so bold as to criticise a declaration imputed to the Minister that the alleged burning of the forty girls had been found false upon inquiry instituted. For this offence, in a notice issued by the Director of the Press for Turkey, which I subjoin in the French original, and which referred to the impartiality of the heads of the British Government, and to "the pretended excesses in Bulgaria"—note this was on the 9th of August—the journal was suppressed.

* 'Times,' July 16.

"Sublime Porte.:

"Ministère Des Affaires ÉTrangères.

"Le Bureau de la Presse,

"Vu le numéro du Journal le Courrier d'Orient du 8 août:

"Attendu que cette feuille en mentionnant, dans sa revue politique, les déclarations du premier ministre du gouvernement anglais devant le Parlement britannique, (1) touchant les prétendus excès commis en Bulgarie, se fait une sorte de mérite d'avoir été la première à publier la relation de ces crimes supposés;

"Attendu que la dite feuille se prévaut du silence que la Direction de la presse a gardé à son égard, soit par inadvertence, soit par excès d'indulgence, pour en induire que ses assertions étaient fondées, et que les déclarations du Chef du Cabinet Britannique sont entachees de partialité;

"Après avoir pris les ordres de S. Exc. le ministre,


"Le journal le Courrier d'Orient est et demeure supprimé ´ partir du jour de la notification du présent arr≖té.

"Constantinople, 9 août, 1876.

"Le Directeur de la Presse, "Blacque."

page 17

Five attempts had thus been made to penetrate what was still a mystery in the official mind. A sixth and a seventh still followed, on the 9th and the 11th of August. With true British determination, Mr. Ashley opened the question for discussion on the 11th. He was ably supported; and this time, it is pleasant to say, from both sides of the House there might be heard the language of humanity, of justice, and of wisdom. It was in the dying throes of the Session.; Mr. Ashley's action was especially judicious, because he had a right, which none could contest, to appear as a representative of Lord Palmerston. The powerful speech of Sir W. Harcourt was denounced by the Prime Minister in terms of great vivacity. He was assured that "from the very commencement of the transactions" the Government "were constantly receiving" from the Ambassador information on "what was occurring in Bulgaria." The minister selected particular statements for contradiction of details, on which I am not yet sufficiently informed to pronounce; but what I complain of is that he still, on the 12th of August, effectually disguised the main issue, which lay in the question whether the Turkish Government, which was receiving from us both moral and virtually material support, had or had not by its agents and by its approval and reward of its agents been deeply guilty of excesses, than which none more abominable have disgraced the history of the world. For the Government, it was still merely a question of "civil war," "carried on under conditions of brutality unfortunately not unprecedented in that country,"* namely Bulgaria. A repetition of language, which is either that of ignorance, or of brutal calumny upon a people whom Turkish authorities have themselves just described as industrious, primitive, and docile.

Such then are the steps taken by Her Majesty's Government during the Session with respect to the Bulgarian atrocities, for enlightening the country as some may think, or for keeping it in the dark, as may occur to other and less charitable minds.

It is not the smallest part of the service rendered by the 'Daily News,' that it was probably the means of bringing into the field an American Commission of Inquiry. I have the fullest confidence in the honour and in the intelligence of Mr. Baring, who has been inquiring on behalf of England; because he was chosen for the purpose by Sir H. Elliot, and because I believe he personally well deserves it. But he was not sent to examine the matter until the 19th of July, three months after

* 'Times,' Aug. 12.

In the Report from Philippopolis, to which I shall presently revert.

page 18 the rising, and nearly one month after the first inquiries in Parliament. He had been but two days at Philippopolis, when he sent home, with all the dispatch he could use, some few rudiments of a future report. Among them was his estimate of the murders, necessarily far from final, at the figure of twelve thousand,* The leaf, which contains his paper, is almost the only leaf in (the latest) Parliamentary Papers (Turkey, No. 5), "presented to both Houses of Parliament by Her Majesty's command," which in reference to the main issue is worth more than a straw. I have read that compilation with pain and humiliation, called forth by finding that this was all which, in the month of August, the whole power and promises of the Government could contribute towards the elucidation of horrible transactions, the greatest and worst of which occurred if not in April, yet early in May. Mr. Baring's Report exists no doubt for us: but only in hope. When it comes, we shall receive it with confidence, and with profit, although we may be very sure that the Ottoman Government will have done everything in its power to blind, and baffle, and mislead him. But is it equally sure, that it will be so received all over Europe? Or, after what has passed, can we reasonably expect that it should? Possibly, when it appears, it may dispute, and even correct, some of the statements now before us. It may establish a few deductions from the awful total. It is one of the painful incidents of a case like this, that injustice may be done unwittingly to this or that man, in this or that circumstance, even by the most necessary and best-considered efforts to attain the ends of justice. These questions do not admit of absolute but only of reasonable certainty. What seems now to be certain in this sense (besides the miserable daily misgovernment, which, however, dwindles by the side of the Bulgarian horrors) are the wholesale massacres,

"Murder, most foul as in the best it is,
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural,"

the elaborate and refined cruelty—the only refinement of which Turkey boasts!—the utter disregard of sex and age—the abominable and bestial lust—and the entire and violent lawlessness which still stalks over the land. For my own part I have, in the House of Commons and elsewhere, whatever my inward impressions might be, declined to speak strongly on these atrocities, until there was both clear and responsible evidence before me. For want of this evidence, I did not join in the gallant effort of Mr. Ashley, at the last gasp of the Session. But the report of Mr. Schuyler, together with the report from Berlin, and the Prologue, so to call it, of Mr. Baring, in my opinion, turns the scale, and makes the responsibility of silence, at least for one who was among the authors of the Crimean War, too great to be borne.

I express then my gratitude to Mr. Schuyler, and to the Government which sent him into the field. It is too late, as I have said, to hope to convince Europe by any report of ours. We may ourselves be sceptical as to Russian reports. Every European State is more or less open to

* Mr. Schuyler's estimate is 15,000 at "the lowest."

Paper No. 5, p. 5.

Hamlet, i. 5.

page 19 the imputation of bias. But America has neither alliances with Turkey, nor grudges against her, nor purposes to gain by her destruction. She enters into this matter simply on the ground of its broad human character and moment; she has no "American interests" to tempt her from her integrity, and to vitiate her aims.

The ground, then, seemed to be sufficiently laid in point of evidence to call for action, when, as I am writing, a new piece of testimony reaches me* through the courtesy of M. Musurus. It is a French translation of a Report on the Bulgarian events, dated July 22, presented to the Ottoman Government by a commission of Mussulman and Christian notables, and approved by the Administrative Council of Philippopolis. Since it is put forward as an official statement of the Turkish case (following the Report of Edib Effendi on the 'Vilayet' of Adrianople), I hope it will, for the sake of justice, be extensively read. Others may think differently of it from myself. I cannot but at once denounce it as a disgraceful document; confirmatory, in its moral effect, even of the worst parts of the charges. After all that has happened, it would have been too much to expect a word of penitence or shame; but it does not contain a word of sorrow or compassion. The reporting Commission, which was armed with the powers of the State, wonders that the Bulgarians should have risen against their "paternal" government; describes them as a peaceable, primitive, and docile people; and then charges them largely with murdering, burning, impaling, roasting, men, women, and children indiscriminately, with the extremest refinements of cruelty.§ One of the most definite statements it contains is this; it cites, as a proof of the "barbarous devastations" committed by the insurgents, the destruction of—a great bridge over the Railway. It is full of laudations of the humanity and consideration of the troops, the commanders, and the Mussulman population. It denounces those who have opened the eyes of Europe to this Turkish Inferno, as the "fantastic story-makers of dismal episodes."** It takes no notice of the attested fact, that the bodies of slain women and children lie in multititudes, unburied and exposed; except indeed by alleging that at Prestenitza some of the insurgents slew their own women and children. Dated three months after the first outbreak, and full of horrible accusation, it contains hardly in a single instance such verifying particulars as would allow of the detection of falsehood by inquiry into the statement. And it winds up with a particular account of a Pansclavic pamphlet, printed at Moscow in 1867!

Then, by way of Appendix, comes one original document in proof, which contains, in the form of a sort of Catechism, the plans and instructions of the great Bulgarian conspiracy. They are signed by twelve names of individuals, without profession or employment specified; who may, for all we know, have been the most insignificant men in the country. The Report, however, states that the Insurgents had instructions to massacre the Mussulman population.†† The sole document

* September 2nd.

P. 17.

Pp. 8, 17.

§ Pp. 9, 10.

P. 9.

E.g. p. 15.

** P. 15.

†† P. 5.

page 20 appended in proof of its charges contains, together with very severe provisions against such as should resist, the following passage:

"Question 13. What course is to be pursued with regard to those Turks who submit?

"Answer. They should be put in charge of our agents, who will convey them to the headquarters of the insurrection. From thence, they will be sent, with their families and with the aged, to the places occupied for refuge by our own familes. They are to live there as our brethren. It is part of our duty to take care for their happiness, their life, and their religion: on the same ground as for the life and the honour of our own people."

The perusal of this statement of the Turkish case removes from my mind any remaining scruple. The facts are, in the gross, sufficiently established. The next, and for us the gravest part of the inquiry is, what have we to do with them?