Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

because we desired to acquire, as to take them from a power that aimed at predominance in the Mediterranean), entered into a treaty, securing the passage to the merchant vessels of the islands. In 1812, the treaty of Bucharest was signed, by which Bessarabia was given up to Russia, and all former treaties respecting the Dardanelles were confirmed. In 1829, the treaty of Adrianople was signed, and with respect to the Dardanelles contained the following passage:

7th Article. The Sublime Porte declares the passage of the canal of Constantinople completely free and open to Russian merchant vessels under merchant flags, from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea; upon the same principle the passage is declared free and open to all merchant vessels belonging to powers at peace with the Porte. The Porte declares, that under no pretence whatsoever will it throw any obstacle in the way of the exercise of this right, and engages, above all, never hereafter to stop or detain vessels, either with cargo or in ballast, whether Russian or belonging to nations with which the Porte shall not be in a state of declared war.' In the manifesto published by the Emperor Nicholas on the 1st of October, 1829, he says :

“The passage of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus is henceforth free and open to the commerce of all the nations of the world. Thus the stipulation was, that all nations at peace (not, be it observed, with Russia, but with the Porte), should enjoy the right of unimpeded passage ; but how has that been affected by the treaty of the 8th of July? Will it be said that nothing was accomplished by the Autocrat by that treaty ? If so, why was it signed without the knowledge of our ambassador, and in a clan. destine and surreptitious way? What are its provisions ? Do the public journals give a just account of it? Is it true that it provides that no vessels belonging to a power at war with Russia shall enjoy that right? If so, the alteration is palpable; and if there be no express declaration to this effect, let there be an alliance offensive and defensive, and the Porte is bound to

consider every enemy of Russia as its own; the consequence is precisely the same as if the Porte surrendered to Russia the possession of the Dardanelles; and the last of the Sultans is the first satrap of Nicholas the Great.

There does not appear to be any sound reason for withholding this treaty. It has been the subject of remonstrance by France-of debate in the French Chamber-of diversified commentary in the public journals. Why withhold it? There must be a strange inconsistency in publishing all the enormous answers to protocols respecting Belgium, where the transaction is as yet incomplete, and in refusing to furnish anything but materials for surmise on this treaty. Ponderous folios of fruitless negotiations on the affairs of Belgium have been given to the world. Let the Government act upon the principle adopted in that case, and give the English people the means of forming a judgment of the policy which his Majesty's Ministers have adopted in a question where the national honour and interest are so deeply involved. It may be said, “Trust in the Minister, be sure that he will not desert his duty, or acquiesce in any measure incompatible with the honour of England.' I should be disposed to do so, when I take into account that the Secretary for Foreign Affairs was a political follower of Mr. Canning, who considered the interests and the honour of England as so closely blended; and although the noble lord may have abandoned the opinions on domestic policy which were entertained by Mr. Canning where he was in the wrong, it is to be presumed that he adhered with a closer tenacity to those opinions in foreign policy where Mr. Canning was in the right. But this ground of confidence in the noble lord is modified if not countervailed by the recollection, that in many recent transactions he has been baffled by that power which has gathered all the profligate nobility of Europe together, in order to compound a Cabinet of Machiavellian mercenaries to maintain the cause of slavery through the world. Look at Bel. gium-look at the Russian-Dutch loan. The noble lord, although guided by the Prince of Benevento, has lost his way in the laby

rinth which Russia has prepared for him and Poland. We shall,' he exclaimed, 'remonstrate.' We did remonstrate, and despatched Lord Durham to St. Petersburg, (why was not Sir Stratford Canning there ?) and what has been the result ? If confidence is to be entertained in the noble lord, it must be built on some firmer basis than his entertainment of the treaty of Vienna. Instead of calling on the people of England to confide in him, let him build his confidence in the English people. They are attached to peace, but they are not afraid of war. Our fleet could blow the Russian navy from the ocean. England is yet a match for the Northern Autocrat, and there is might enough left in her arm to shatter the Colossus that bestrides the sea by which Europe is divided from Asia, and which has been accounted from time beyond record one of the demarcations of the world.”

The motion was seconded by Mr. (now Sir) Henry Bulwer, and was supported by Colonel Davies and Colonel De Lacy Evans. Lord Palmerston declined to lay upon the table either the treaty or the correspondence to which it led. He admitted that the former, when its terms had become known, had appeared in certain respects to be open to objection ; but explanations having in consequence been sought for, the most satisfactory assurances had been given by the Government of Russia. As the correspondence, however, was not yet closed, it would not be for the public service to produce it, or the convention to which it related. The question was one of confidence in Ministers, and could not be regarded by the House in any other light.

an un

Sir Robert Peel observed that in addition to the well-merited compliments paid to Mr. Sheil for the manner in which he had brought forward the motion, it might with truth be said that his was answered speech.” If it was true that the revolt of Mehemet Ali had been stimulated secretly by France, our intimate relations with the Government of that country might, perhaps, account for Turkey having been left wholly to the protection of Russia ; but in his opinion, the real independence of Turkey was gone from the day that the Sultan had been compelled to summon a Russian army to Constantinople as the only means of defending it against his rebellious subjects. He thought the case made out for the production of papers could only be met by Ministers on the ground of their official responsibility. No other reason had in his opinion been assigned. Mr. Stanley replied; and the motion was negatived without a division.

By the rejection of Mr. O'Connell's motion on the 29th of April, by a majority of 523 to 38, Repeal as a Parliamentary question, was set at rest; that of Tithes remained. Many of the English Liberals believed that from that prolific source of party strife and predial crime, popular agitation had de

rived the character of national animosity. Among the Dissenters in every part of the country no little sympathy was felt for the struggle waged in Ireland by the Catholics to get rid of the tithe system; and the whole of the Radical press in Scotland, as well as in England, with one voice demanded its extinction. Had this been all, the question might nevertheless have continued to figure in the category of those which form the subject of unpractical pledges by candidates desiring to represent populous towns, and to furnish a theme for evaporative patriotism in the House of Commons, without giving much cause of anxiety either to sinecurists, or to enthusiasts on behalf of the Establishment. But the passive resistance, as it was somewhat inappropriately termed, to the collection of tithes throughout the greater part of Ireland, rendered it one which, if pressed by a powerful section of the Liberal party in Parliament, it was impossible for Government to evade. A million sterling had been voted to relieve the actual wants of the Protestant clergy, in the expectation that under a uniform scheme of conversion into land-tax, and with the removal of the minor irritation occasioned by the levy of vestry cess, the combination against tithes would die away.

No symptom of such cessation

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »