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The Berlin Congress. 377
On the 17th of the same month of April, it was announced that the British Government had given orders 'foT the despatch of 7,000 native Indian soldiers to 'Malta, the troops selected comprising the 9th Bengal 'Cavalry, the 1st Bombay Light Cavalry, the 2nd and '13th G-hoorkhas, the 31st Bengal Regiment, and the '25th Madras Regiment.' This topic will have to be specially considered under a later head.
On the 3rd of June, the German Ambassador in London presented a note to the Marquis of Salisbury, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, containing an invitation to the Powers, Signatories of the Treaties of 1856 and 1871, from the German Emperor, to meet 'in Con'gress at Berlin, to discuss there the stipulations of the 'preliminary treaty of San Stefano concluded between 'Russia and Turkey.' The 13th of the same month was proposed as the day of meeting. Lord Salisbury immediately replied 'that Her Majesty's Government 'will be ready to take part in the Congress' at the date mentioned. On the next day, June the 4th, a 'Convention of defensive alliance between Great Britain 'and Turkey' was concluded at Constantinople. The first and principal article of the Convention stipulated that' if Batoum, Ardahan, Kars, or any of these places, 'shall be retained by Russia, and if any attempt shall 'be made at any future time by Russia to take posses'sion of any further territories of His Imperial Majesty 'the Sultan in Asia, as fixed by the Definitive Treaty 'of Peace, England engages to join His Imperial 'Majesty the Sultan in defending them by force of 'arms.' The article further stipulated that'in return 'the Sultan promises to England to introduce necessary 'reforms, to be agreed upon later between the two 'Powers, into the government, and for the protection, 'of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte in 'these territories; and in order to enable England to 'make necessary provision for executing her engage'ment, His Imperial Majesty the Sultan further consents 'to assign the Island of Cyprus to be occupied and 'administered by England.'
The Congress was opened at Berlin on the 13th of June; and on the 13th of July the Berlin Treaty of Peace was signed, the general result of it being to confirm Russia in the possession of some of the towns and territory acquired by the war, to liberate some of the provinces of Turkey from their dependence on that Power, and to increase the amount of independence of other provinces already nearly emancipated. Arrangements were also contained in the Treaty for a provisional occupation of such ill-governed provinces as were not yet adapted for independence; and, in outward form at least, the limits of the Turkish dominions were traced more favourably for Turkey than by the Treaty of San Stefano, and her dignity as one of the Powers of Europe was re-established. On the next day, the 14th, the Island of Cyprus was occupied by Great Britain, and the British flag hoisted in its principal towns.
The scene is now shifted from Europe to Asia; but it is the same drama, and there are the same actors, both in the front and behind the stage. The dates are significant. On the 22nd of July,—that is, within a fortnight of the signature of the Treaty of Berlin,—a Russian mission arrived at Cabul, Afghanistan. The mission was a small one, consisting of three superior European officers, with an escort; and the chief of the mission delivered to the Ameer a letter from the Emperor of The Mission to Afghanistan. 379
Russia. On the 21st of September, a British mission, under Sir Neville Chamberlain, started from Peshawur for Afghanistan. There were in the mission eleven British officers, four native gentlemen, two hundred and thirty-four armed soldiers, and, with the campfollowers, the whole amounted to nearly a thousand men. There were three hundred and fifteen camels, two hundred and fifty mules, and forty horses. It was reported that the cortege extended over a mile in length. This mission had its progress interrupted on the frontier of Afghanistan; and on the 1st of Novemberan ultimatum from the Viceroy of India was addressed to the Ameer, demanding the privilege of sending a British mission to his capital, and requesting a reply before November the 20th. The reply not being received by midnight on November the 20th, at three o'clock on the morning of the 21st, the British army crossed the frontier, and war was commenced. On the 22nd, the Viceroy issued a proclamation at Lahore, announcing the commencement of hostilities in Afghanistan, saying that 'the 'Government of India cannot tolerate that any other 'Power should interfere in the internal affairs of 'Afghanistan,' and concluding with the words,' Upon 'the Ameer Shere Ali alone rests the responsibility of 'having exchanged the friendship for the hostility of 'the Empress of India.' Parliament was summoned to meet on the 5th of December, and the Queen used the following language in opening Parliament:—' The 'hostility towards my Indian Government manifested 'by the Ameer of Afghanistan, and the manner in 'which he repulsed my friendly mission, left me no 'alternative but to make a peremptory demand for 'redress. This demand having been disregarded, I 'have directed an expedition to be sent into his terri'tory, and I have taken the earliest opportunity of * calling you together, and making to you the com'munication required by law.' (This allusion to ' law' refers to the 54th section of the 'Act for the better 'Government of India' of 1858:—* When any order is 'sent to India directing the actual commencement of 'hostilities by Her Majesty's forces in India, the fact of 'such order having been sent shall be communicated to 'both Houses of Parliament within three months after 'the sending of such order, if Parliament be sitting, 'unless such order shall have been in the meantime 'revoked or suspended, and if Parliament be not sitting 'at the end of such three months, then within one 'month after the next meeting of Parliament.')
In the meantime events had been marching on in India from another point. On the 1st of January,
1877, the Queen was publicly proclaimed Empress of India at Delhi, with almost unprecedented pomp and ostentation, in the presence of a vast assembly, to which all the princes and high dignitaries of India were either invited or summoned. On March the 14th,
1878, Lord Lytton, the Viceroy, succeeded in passing, in spite of the earnest remonstrance of some of the most experienced members of his Council, an Act for subjecting the Indian Vernacular Press to a system of arbitrary espionage and official denunciation, which recalls the memory and the ignominy of the worst days of modern France, and tbe lamentable biota on the liberty aspired to by England in the days of the Commonwealth.
In reviewing the history of these events, as thus summarised in chronological order, it is impossible
not to see that a distinct and continuous skein of policy runs through them all from first to last. It is not the purpose here either to expound the policy, or to estimate its value, absolute or comparative. It is sufficient to say, that at every stage of direct English action, the exhibition of hostility to Russia and of friendship for Turkey, an ostentatious defiance of presumed aggressive tendencies of Russia in the direction of India, and the consolidation and unification of English authority in India,—not to say the obtrusive display of English power and magnificence in that country,—are a set of objects all closely connected together, and to the furtherance of one or other of which every part of the recent transactions, so far as they emanated from the British Government, has directly tended. Even what were probably rather theatrical than practical elements in the scheme—that is, the adoption of the Imperial title, the transfer of Indian troops to Malta, and perhaps the sudden resolution of the Government to purchase the bulk of the shares in the Suez Canal—serve to point the connection between the European and the Asiatic policy. If any key were wanted to unlock some of the darker recesses of the policy, such a key may be found in the public assertion said to be made in some influential quarters at the time, that England was rather an Asiatic than a European Power; and in the corollary from this proposition, that the European policy of England ought to be mainly dictated by a regard for the influence and strength of England in Asia. Whether this be the true key or not, the policy itself is to the utmost extent distinct, coherent, consistent, continuous, and, it must be admitted, as viewed in reference to its own ends, sue