Imatges de pÓgina
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dissociated, in the English mind, from the advancement of Russian designs, and is rather, indeed, connected with the desire of baffling them. Neither has any British interest' stalked across the stage to disturb our composure. We have not been taught that the Greeks are likely to block the Suez Canal, or to establish collateral positions which might menace the valley of the Euphrates: and, although it is not obvious why such visions should be more irrational and unreal than certain others that have done good service in an evil cause, we may thankfully accept and record the fact that we have been spared such an infliction, and that the entire nation is free to regard, and does regard, the Hellenic factor in the Eastern Question altogether apart from the idea that it can either derange the balance of power,' or menace the Empire of the Queen. Nay more; we see pretty clearly that this Hellenic element forms in itself a natural counterpoise to the weight of the Slav races in the Balkan Peninsula: and even those who think that, under the influence of some inexplicable Panslavonic fanaticism, Montenegrins and Servians and Bulgarians will surrender their dear-bought liberties into the arms of Russian despotism, have not propounded or cherished the idea that the same thing could be done by the Greeks, in whose mind the desire to keep down Slavonic influences even vies with the craving to be free from the yoke of Islam.

This state of facts has been generally recognised by the people and by the press of the country. When, a few weeks ago, Mr. Cartwright made a motion in the House of Commons, which was intended to promote the settlement of the Greek frontier in the sense intended by the Treaty of Berlin, it was impossible not to be struck by the aspect of that assembly. One current of feeling, and one only, appeared actively to prevail. It was partly acknowledged, partly countervailed by official pleas; but these pleas met with no more than a passive acquiescence on the part of the independent supporters of the Government. The scene was one in marked contrast with every manifestation that has been exhibited in the House when the Slavonic branches of the question have been debated. On those occasions, bursts of ready cheering have supported the official speakers in their replies to the arguments of the Liberal party; and those cheers have commonly been more and more vigorous in proportion as the language held on the Treasury bench was more lively and decided. But on the Greek question the positive impulsion, what is termed the feeling of the House, was all the other way; the dilatory pleas of the Government were allowed, but not stimulated, nor rewarded by applause; and it was felt with resistless force that the credit of the Treaty of Berlin was at stake along with the cause of justice, and that Mr. Cartwright, Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, and Sir Charles Dilke were its intelligent and determined upholders.

This condition of feeling and opinion within the walls of Parlia

ment has been accurately reflected beyond them. Since Easter, an Association has been formed, with the sanction of many men of station, influence, and ability, to find vent, as it were, for the partly expressed and partly unspoken conviction that the Government has lagged, and that the nation must not lag, behind the demands of its duty in this important question. On the 17th of May, a meeting was held at Willis's Rooms, to give a formal notice of the existence of the body, and a commencement to its proceedings, and to press upon the Ministry the necessity of energetic action. Many of the reports in the public journals are such as would convey no adequate idea of the unanimity and zeal of this meeting, of the crowds who filled the room, or of the crowds who were disappointed in the attempt to find admission. It is pretty clear that this was no casual, and no merely passing manifestation. In all likelihood, it will be followed by the other stages of an advancing movement; and, unless it shall happily be found that the Government is acting in accordance with the fixed opinion and the growing desire of the country, the Session may not end without a new and determined attempt to test the sense of Parliament on the subject.

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It is an important, though not a pleasant, portion of my present duty to show that in this matter we have not only to turn the present and the near future to account, but also to improve upon, and so to redeem, the past. For this purpose, let us revert to the eve of the discussions at Berlin. As the opening of the High Assembly' drew near, the forces, which were to act upon its deliberations, began to array and adjust themselves for the conflict. The Powers, which gathered there with so much of mutual suspicion, and with too many selfish or secondary aims, were not the only powers which, through the virtual publicity of the proceedings, were competent to act upon the discussions, and contribute to the results. The Christian subjects of Turkey supplied the chief of these latent forces. They, as we all know, did their best, whenever their condition gave them the hope of a locus standi, to make a formal and bodily appearance; while the population of Bulgaria, who had not the organisation or the title to appoint regular deputies, were effectively represented by the Flenipotentiaries of the Czar. The great aim of the British Plenipotentiaries at the Congress was, as all know, to reduce this Slavonic, and especially this Bulgarian, influence to its minimum; so as to divide Bulgaria; to give back Southern Bulgaria to the Porte; to establish a Turkish force along its frontier, which followed the line of the Balkans; to efface its recollections, wile away its hopes, and commute its identity, by rebaptising it as Eastern Roumelia. In order to insure this great triumph of British policy, the thing most needful was to divide into separate camps the force and influence of the races subject to Turkey. It was now notorious that there was a border-land in Macedonia and Bulgaria, which was likely, in the ultimate division of the Turkish

inheritance, to be sharply contested between the two races. The anticipation of this contest already produced a tendency to marked estrangement. The Slavs had a stock of strength in the protection of Russia, which offered to the demands of the Hellenic races, certainly, no opposition, but gave them only a cool semblance of support. Could the Greeks but have another Power for the special protector of their interests, all idea of their making common cause with the Slavs would be at an end. The weight of the whole Hellenic element would be virtually added to that of Turkey, Austria, and England already in the field; Russia would be completely isolated, and the object effectually gained of reducing the Slavonic force before the Congress to its minimum. Accordingly some skilful strategist seems to have suggested that the British Plenipotentiaries had better constitute themselves, at the outset, the champions of the Hellenic cause. How long this championship was to continue is another matter. Its too early demise is recorded in the history of the Congress; let us hope that this was no part of the original plan. Looking to the facts before us, and waiving altogether the inferences they might suggest, what we find in the first place is that, at a moment when it was of great importance to the English designs that the Greek and the Bulgarian forces should be severed, the British Plenipotentiaries assumed, to the great and general satisfaction of this country, the charge of the Hellenic cause.

This was done, first, by a declaration relating to the territorial claims of Greece; and, secondly, by the advocacy of her claims to representation in or before the Congress. At its very first meeting, on the 13th of June, we have in the First Protocol the following record: The Marquis of Salisbury announces that he proposes on Monday to submit to his colleagues the question as to whether Greece should be admitted to the Congress.'

More important still was the sanction, unequivocal though limited, which was given to the territorial claims of Greece. In the despatch of Lord Salisbury, dated June 8, 1878, which maps out the whole projected outline of the British policy in the 'High Assembly,' we find this weighty passage, which must tell with more and more force in the discussions on the question of the Greek frontier, the longer they are continued, and the more pronounced they may unhappily become. The claims which will undoubtedly be advanced by the Government of Greece in reference to some of these provinces (the provinces of European Turkey) will receive the careful consideration of Her Majesty's Plenipotentiaries, and, I doubt not, of the representatives of the other Powers.' 3

These claims were large. They must have been known to the Government when this despatch was written; for, without that knowledge, the promise, which diplomatic language conveys under an 2 Turkey, No. 39, 1878, p. 14. • Ibid. p. 3.

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engagement to careful consideration,' could not have been given. They are explained in the Memorandum, which was handed in by M. Delyannis, the Foreign Minister of Greece, on the 29th of June. They include, as a demand reduced below the standard of justice by the consideration of existing difficulties, the provinces of Thessaly and Epirus, and the Island of Crete. The despatch of the 8th of June did not bind the British Plenipotentiaries to be parties to the concession of the whole of this demand; but it implied beyond all doubt the intention to concede a part, and moreover to become the advocates in the Congress of such a concession.

The other engagement, namely, to recommend that the Greeks should be heard in Congress, while it presented a promising appearance, meant nothing, or rather the exact equivalent of nothing. This we may see by the result. On the 29th of June M. Delyannis, with his colleague, M. Rangabé, were admitted, or bowed in, to the ninth sitting of the Congress. M. Delyannis read his Memorandum, offered some supplementary considerations,' and then, again with his friend M. Rangabé, was duly bowed out, a promise being added that his communication would be studied; and that he would again be called in, not to assist in the deliberations of the Congress, but to hear the result.5

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On this merely formal matter, the British Plenipotentiaries bestowed a world of ostentatious pains. Lord Salisbury proposed, on the 19th of June, that a Greek representative should attend the Congress, when questions in connection with the interests of the Greek race shall be discussed.' The French Plenipotentiaries proposed that it should run when the future of the provinces bordering on the Kingdom' of Greece should be discussed; and also, whenever the Plenipotentiaries should think fit to summon him. Hereupon arose in the High Assembly' a kind of battle of the gods. The chivalrous defenders of Greek interests were not satisfied with the imponderable abatement, which the French thus threatened to effect in their scheme for Hellenic representation; and-it was as yet but the second meeting, and the great Bulgarian question was still untouched-on this difference,

"Twixt tweedledum and tweedledee,

they divided the Congress; and were beaten. Still, they certainly had done their utmost; and, as they had contended thus gallantly, not to say factiously or even pedantically, for a matter of the smallest possible consequence, it could not be doubted that they would display a fully proportionate resolution, when the great and real question, the question of territory, should come up.

Turkey, No. 39, 1878, p. 133.
VOL. V.-No. 28.

Ibid. p. 135. 4 E

• Ibid. pp. 23, 33.

But this question did not take its place upon the Protocols until the thirteenth sitting, held on the 5th of July. By that time, as it appears from the Papers laid before Parliament, the whole attitude of the British Plenipotentiaries was entirely changed. With the change of attitude came a shift in the cast of parts. Lord Salisbury, the bold defender of Greek rights, and the official promiser of careful consideration, which he had no doubt others would also give, for the territorial claims of Greece, remains mute, and retires behind the scenes. Lord Beaconsfield now takes his turn. France and Italy, having given their careful consideration' to the matter, propose an extension of frontier for Greece. Every other Power except Turkey, and Austria in express and liberal terms, assents to the proposal. Lord Beaconsfield, in the name of England, gives his judgment that, 'unanimity being above all things desirable, his Excellency would withdraw all objection, in presence of an unanimous vote of the other Powers.'"

In contrasting the engagement given on the 8th of June with the manifest contempt of that engagement exhibited on the 5th of July, it is impossible to exclude from view what had taken place in the interim. So long as the cardinal question of Bulgaria remained open, we were the friends of Greece. By sustaining this character, we kept her from going into the bad company of Russia and the Slavs. But this great affair had now been completely disposed of at the intermediate sittings. The burning question of Eastern Roumelia, and the military occupation of the Balkan line, which furnished the great triumph of the British diplomatists, and the basis of the demonstration on peace with honour,' was in the main determined on the 22nd of June. The details were dealt with at successive meetings; and with the expiration of the month the Bulgarian population, and their interests, may be considered to disappear from the face of the proceedings. And it is on the 5th of July, when Hellenic and Slavonian influences no longer have any motive to cooperate, that the British Plenipotentiaries abandon the cause of Greece, and only accept, because of the paramount importance of unanimity, that limited proposal of France and Italy, with which every other State was already agreed.

And why was the proposal of France and Italy so limited? This is a question to which the Parliamentary papers furnish no reply, as they do not give us the records of those private and informal meetings of a Congress, at which the whole raw material, so to call it, of debate is reduced, by a kind of moral and intellectual puddling, to a manufactured article. All agreements are ascertained; and all differences are brought within limits in which they can be stated to the outer world. It is determined whose argument shall be victorious, s Papers, p. 46.

7 Turkey, No. 39, 1878, p. 198.

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