« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
voted to other matters, is at liberty to express an • opinion of passing events abroad ; but the Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs, whose peculiar duty it is • to watch those events, who is unfit for his office if be • has not an opinion on them, is the only man not per• mitted to express an opinion; and when a foreign • Minister comes and tells him that he has news, be is
to remain silent, like a speechless dolt, or the mute of • some Eastern Pasha.''.
It happens that the subject of Foreign Affairs has lately led to still further practical illustrations of the nature of the concert demanded of one another by a Prime Minister and the members of his Cabinet. The account of the resignations, in 1876, of Lord Carnarvon and of Lord Derby, because of their divergency of opinion from the rest of the Cabinet in respect of contemplated acts resolved upon by the Cabinet in the course of the negotiations during the late Russo-Turkish war, which terminated in the Berlin Treaty of 1877, supplies instances both of the limits of practical cooperation now insisted upon in the organisation of a Cabinet, and also of the limits of the secreby imposed on members of the Cabinet. On the 25th of January, 1878, Lord Carnarvon announced in the House of Lords his resignation of the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies in the following terms :
•My Lords, explanations of this sort are painful to “make. It is necessary, on the one hand, for a Minister * to say enough to justify himself in the course which • he feels it his duty to adopt; and, on the other hand,
it is equally incumbent upon him not only to avoid
"Life of Lord Palmerston, vol. i. p. 323.
Resignation of Lord Carnarvon.
• saying anything that can embarrass Her Majesty's • Government at a period of critical negotiations, but 'as far as is possible to say nothing that can give rea
sonable offence, or that seems to impute unnecessary • blame to those who have been his colleagues and • his friends. My Lords, in the peculiar position in • which I am placed I am precluded from entering • into one important branch of that self-justification, • because, looking to the critical nature of present or
possible negotiations, I do not consider it right to say • a single word with regard to those communications of
a confidential character which have passed between • Her Majesty's Government and foreign nations. If,
therefore, the course of my conduct as now explained • by me seems incomplete, I shall be content to accept
the burden and responsibility of that incompleteness.' After noticing the two reasons which induced him finally to dissent from the rest of the Cabinet--namely, the extraordinary grant of money for which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was about to move, and the decision of the Cabinet to send the fleet to Constantinople-Lord Carnarvon said that he had Her Majesty's gracious permission for any statement that he might think it necessary to make on the subject. On the 3rd of January, in the Cabinet, the Prime Minister thought himself at liberty to condemn very severely the language that he had used to a deputation on the 2nd of January about the war and the general attitude of Her Majesty's Government. Lord Carnarvon said that be took time to consider the course that it was his duty to take ; and then, in a memorandum woich he had drawn up, he recapitulated what had passed, and, having vindicated the position
which he bad taken, he reaffirmed, in the hearing of his colleagues, and without any contradiction, the propo sitions that he had then laid down. Between the 12th and the 23rd, the Cabinet twice changed its mind with regard to sending the fleet to the Dardanelles. On the 15th Lord Carnarvon wrote to Lord Beaconsfield that he would resign as soon as the fleet should sail. When, on the 18th, the plan was again changed, Lord Beaconsfield wrote: “I shall not submit your resigpa‘tion to Her Majesty. Such an act would deprive me
of a colleague I value, and at any rate should be • reserved for a period when there is an important dif
ference between us, which at present does not seem to • be the case.' On the 23rd the Cabinet decided to send the fleet to Constantinople, and Lord Carnarvon resigned.''
In announcing his resignation of the office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Derby, addressing the House of Lords on March the 28th,1878, said he had received from Her Majesty and from his noble friend at the head of the Government full permission to use his own discretion in the matter of explaining to Parliament the character and nature of the differences which had arisen between him and his colleagues. • But,' said Lord Derby, your Lordships will easily understand that in the present state of our foreign relations there are many things which require to be considered and decided upon by those who are responsible for the conduct of public affairs, which it is not • in the interest of the State should be made public at
the time when the decision upon them is taken. My
i Hansard, ccxxxvii, 436.
Resignation of Lord Derby.
Lords, the Cabinet have arrived at certain conclusions • which no doubt are of a grave and important charac
ter. In the measures which they propose I have not • been able to concur. We agree as to the end, but, unhappily, we differ as to the means; and I cannot, in the exercise of my deliberate judgment,- however willing and anxious I may be to submit that judgment "to what I know to be in many respects the better * judgment of my colleagues,-I cannot consider the 'measures upon which they have decided as being pru• dent in the interests of European peace, or as being
necessary for the safety of the country, or as being • warranted by the state of mat'ers abroad. My Lords, • when the concurrence of Parliament is asked for those 'measures of which I have spoken, I shall be ready, if ' necessary, to vindicate the opinion which I have en
tertained; but, until then, I consider I am bound by public duty to speak only in the most general terms, leaving to those who are responsible for the manage'ment of public affairs the choice of the time and the manner in which they will think it their duty to bring them before your Lordships.''
On a later day, when these events were again under discussion in the House of Lords, Lord Derby said : * Three months ago, when I quitted the Cabinet, it was • 6 on account of the decision then taken-namely, that . it was necessary to secure a naval station in the Eastern • part of the Mediterranean, and that for that purpose • it was necessary to seize upon and occupy the Island
of Cyprus, together with a point on the Syrian Coast. • This was to have been done by a secret naval expedi
I See Hansard, ccxxxix. 101.
• tion sent out from England, with or without the con6 sent of the Sultan, although a part of the arrangement
was that full compensation should be made to the • Sultan for any loss of revenue he might sustain. ... • My Lords, I endeavoured to induce the Cabinet to
reconsider this determination, and from whatever • cause the change took place, I am heartily glad that
that resolution was modified. My Lords, I need • hardly say that my lips were closed on this subject so • long as negotiations were going on. I have heard the • most extravagant and improbable reasons assigned out • of doors for my retirement; but now that the matter • is settled, and that no harm can be done by stating
what is really an historical fact, I thought it due to • myself and to your Lordships to avail myself of the • discretion given to me—as it is always given to an v outgoing Minister—to state what really happened.'
In the course of the debate Lord Salisbury compared the “instalments of revelations' he described Lord Derby as having made to the successive disclosures of Titus Oates, and said: 'I would venture to
point out that there is a great inconvenience in these revelations from the interior of the Cabinet. Of 6 course my noble friend must treat his own obligations
in the spirit wbich pleases himself; but I do not o know that I should like to announce as broadly and · palpably as my noble friend has to the world, that • any person who hereafter serves with him in the • Cabinet must be prepared to have anything that • passes, or is supposed to pass, there produced ulti• mately, in spite of the rule which Privy Councillors * have hitherto observed.' To this Lord Derby replied: When a Minister unfortunately feels himself obliged