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He may not feel any qualms at free people.” We could almost the thought that he has been in- fancy we were listening to Elijah stigating President Kruger, as we Pogram or the brown Forester. may judge from his reply to Mr In his speech at Norwich on the Chamberlain, to adopt an attitude 17th of March, and again at the towards this country which may Eighty Club on the 13th of April, end in war, by representations Sir William gave utterance to which have no foundation in fact, those sentiments which met with and can only entail on those who 80 sarcastic a reception from Lord are deceived by them the most Salisbury at the Albert Hall on bitter disappointment. But his the 6th of May. We--that is, the friend Mr Canning thought differ. Liberals will be parties to no ently. He thought nothing could policy of which the integrity of lie more heavily on the conscience the Ottoman empire is the basis. of a public man than such a course That is his dictum.
But they as Sir William Harcourt has pur- are parties to it. They cannot sued. But Sir William loves a help themselves. The treaties of free hand. He is only to quote 1856 and of 1878, the one conMr Canning when it suits his pur- cluded by a Liberal Government, pose. He is to use him as he the other by a Conservative, have would have us use the Continental made them so. When a man has Powers. But why complain of backed a friend's bill, he cannot this ? What is Sir William's whole refuse to pay because he says he career but one long illustration of will be no party to the system this great principle of freedom in of kite - flying. Let the bill be his own person. He has been Con- got rid of : let the treaty be reservative and Radical, Gladstonian pealed : and he may
then talk. and anti - Gladstonian, Parnellite We cannot escape from our conand anti-Parnellite, Unionist and tracts because we are tired of the Home Ruler, all in less than forty responsibility. The introduction years. He certainly stands quite of the contrary doctrine into the at the head of the deciduous school realm of diplomacy would indeed of politicians.
be anarchy, and must end in chaos. We must now turn to his views It would break down all public of treaty obligations; and here we law and every guarantee that we come in touch again with Mr possess for the security and indeCanning, and have once more pendence of nations. It would the benefit of his testimony. Sir destroy civilisation. Yet the William declares, for himself and language used by Sir William for the Liberal party generally, Harcourt, if it is pushed home, that they will hear no more of really comes to this. He will say the integrity of the Ottoman em- of course that it is a gross exaggerpire. It has indeed been solemnly ation. But will he tell us how he guaranteed by treaties to which proposes to get rid of the "integall the great Governments are rity of the Ottoman empire” withpledged. But what of that, says out either repealing or repudiating the honest fellow, to whom the the treaties which confirm it? The honour and dignity of Great Powers are not ready to repeal Britain are so dear. What is a them; and if England chose to treaty? Take away the bauble. make a clean slate, and apply a Let not such musty obligations wet sponge to all her most solemn control the action of "a great and engagements with the rest of Europe, would not that practically 1830 meant a war upon opinion : be an act of moral bankruptcy, the suppression of political prinjust as dishonourable as the re- ciples to which the monarchies pudiation of a national debt ? were opposed. It was not formed
It was at the Eighty Club on to resist breaches of international the 13th of April that Sir William law, to prevent territorial aggresmade his most vehement appeal sion, and to keep other countries to the memory and example of within their assigned limits. It Canning, recommending the rising was directed against domestic generation, almost with tears in revolution, against forms of his voice, to take that great man government, and national instifor their model. Now Sir William tutions, with which no Foreign was quite right in saying that Power has any right to interfere. Canning refused to join the great This was the European Concert Powers in forming a kind of com- from which Canning stood aloof, mittee of supervision for settling and it had little more in common the affairs of Europe generally with that now existing than the This is a totally different thing Inquisitor who burns a heretic has from an agreement between the with the magistrate who quells a same Powers to act together for one riot. particular purpose; to avert one This distinction was unfortunspecial and practical danger which ately overlooked by Sir William concerns them all; and to protect Harcourt. There is nothing in and uphold arrangements in which the career of Mr Canning to lead they have a common interest, and us to suppose that he would have to which they are all pledged. refused to join any European The Concert which Canning re- coalition of which he thoroughly coiled from—not the Holy Alli- approved the object: which was ance, which was a harmless fad, directed to the maintenance of was nothing of this kind. It was, peace, and the settlement of a as we have said, nothing less than quarrel between two minor States, a permanent Vigilance Committee
so as to prevent the risk of its or Mutual Insurance Society; and leading to a general war. this would have been enough to But if Sir William's reference make any English Minister, from to Canning in regard to the EuroChatham to Salisbury, decline the pean Concert is plausible at first honour of belonging to it.
sight, and until the analogy is But there is a still wider differ- pricked, he cannot get even this ence than this between the two superficial and short-lived support alliances, which Sir William had from him on the question of apparently forgotten. No Power treaties. As he is so fond of Mr can be expected to join in a com- Pitt's pupil, let him lay his case pact of which it disapproves the before him, and see what answer objects. This goes without saying: he will get. When Canning was and it was less because he wished to appealed to by the Greeks to do stand aloof from such connections, something to help them against than because he was hostile to the Turkey, he replied to their ambaspurposes for the sake of which he sador as follows:knew them to be established, that Canning acted as he did.
“They forgot that there existed beThe
tween England and Turkey treaties league between the great Con- of very ancient date, and of unintertinental monarchies from 1820 to rupted obligation, which the Turks
faithfully observed, and to the protec- England will follow his advice, tion of which British interests, to a and read for themselves what Mr vast amount, were confided within the domains of the Sultan; and that
Canning said on this very point. all these interests must at once
The words used by Sir William be put in jeopardy, and the obliga
Harcourt on the 12th of April tion of the treaties which protect them would be quite sufficient for our be at once advisedly broken, by the purpose ; but they are not the most first blow which Great Britain should abusive ones that he has thought strike, as the ally of Greece, in hostil- proper to employ :ity to Turkey."
“The cause of humanity and the Mr Canning then suggested the claims of freedom are sacrificed to idea of compromise with the Porte,
the jealousies and selfish interests of but the deputies declared that the
the Powers, who declare that they
will go to war if they are called upon Greeks must be either "entirely to listen to these claims of humanity independent or perish."
for which they appear to care
little, and to these claims of freedom "Mr Canning, then, having thus for which they certainly care a little explained to the deputies all that the
less." Greeks had to expect from the British Government, endeavoured to impress Elsewhere he has accused the upon their minds that the efforts to great Powers, graciously exceptinduce Great Britain to take part in ing England, of supporting Turkey their favour had not only no favourable result, but were always attended better hereafter, when their turn
now, that she may cut up all the by consequences prejudicial to their
comes for dividing the spoil.
Speaking in Monmouthshire a This is the language of Lord fortnight later, he stated that the Salisbury and the language of great Powers looked on the OttoMr Chamberlain. "We observe man empire with the eye of a treaties ourselves, and don't intend gamekeeper :that others shall break them to
“They used the integrity of the our prejudice.” Our difficulties in
Ottoman empire as excuse in South Africa only arise from what
Armenia, they use it as a pretext in is our bounden duty, our demand, Crete. It is not because they really namely, that treaty engagements respect this integrity; they regard it shall be faithfully observed. Sir just as a gamekeeper regards a covey William Harcourt thinks that this
of pheasants. One of these days is unnecessary. But how he can
they mean themselves to have a great
shooting, when they can agree upon reconcile such a theory with the
the terms of the battue." advice which he gave to the youth of England at the Eighty Club- Mr Balfour told the leader of the namely, that all who looked for Opposition what he thought of ward to political life should make him, in words reminding us very Canning their study night and day- much of the rebuke addressed by we are not in a position to explain. Canning to the Opposition of his
We next come to Sir William own day for their abuse of the Harcourt's mode of speaking as to
Continental Governments. the motives and characters of the
“The right hon. gentleman,” said European Governments : and we Mr Balfour, openly said that the hope that on this subject young Powers of Europe for their own selfish
Stapleton's Life of Canning, vol. ii. p. 444.
ends wanted to keep the peace, but we have just described, and which cared nothing at all for freedom and the leader of the Opposition congood government.
I do not know siders it his duty to pursue, than whether it is consistent with the position of the leader of a great
the very statesman of whom he has
the consummate assurance to call party to fling these accusations wholesale against Powers friendly to this himself a disciple. country-Powers with whom he has Mr Canning knew, as every had to deal in a responsible position, man of sense does, that we must and with whom he may again have take things as we find them : that to deal in an equally responsible being compelled at times to have position.”
communication with the absolute These are almost the very words Powers, to consult with them, neof Mr Canning, in commenting on gotiate with them, and sometimes the disgraceful epithets bestowed
to act with them, it was idle to on the great Powers by the Whig expect to have everything our own Opposition.
way: or to think ourselves justi
fied in breaking off any connection “I doubt,” he said, “whether it is with them formed for a specific wise even in this House to indulge purpose, because on some particular in such a strain of rhetoric : to call points they did not see through by a hundred hard names Powers English spectacles. The business with whom, after all, if the map of of the world could not be conEurope cannot be altogether cancelled, ducted on such a principle as this. we must, according to the admission of the most anti-Continental politi
And if we not only thought ourcians, maintain some international selves entitled to insist on their intercourse.
ways being our ways, but also fell
foul of them at once, and set to It is pretty clear what Sir reviling them like pickpockets, beWilliam Harcourt would have
cause they refused to, abandon had to expect had Mr Canning their own traditionary methods, been sitting opposite to him in we could only expect of course the House of Commons. To be a that they would cast us adrift, and friend to freedom is a totally that the whole influence we had a different thing from deriding right to exercise in the affairs of treaty obligations, from insulting Europe would at once be lost. in the coarsest terms the allies Canning knew this, and pursued a with whom we are engaged, and very different line of policy. He from endeavouring to thwart all was particularly cautious of doing the efforts of Government anything to wound the susceptidirected to the attainment of bilities of friendly Powers, and was confessedly desirable objects, by firmly resolved to maintain the declaring that it does not possess comity of diplomacy. the confidence of the country, and How does any one suppose that that the national sympathies are the Emperors like being called by all with those who refuse to listen such names as Liberal statesmen to our advice. Mr Canning is Sir now apply to them, especially William Harcourt's ideal of a when they hear that these are the Foreign Secretary. He was an who represent the public enemy of absolutism, and a friend sentiment of England ? Is that to popular institutions, yet no one the way to smooth matters and has protested more strongly against render it easier to transact business that very course of conduct which with them; or is it the way to
make them view with suspicion only these things are done in the and distrust whatever proposals interest, or supposed interest, of emanate from this country, and Greece ! Such is the grotesque turn a deaf ear to suggestions and truncated form of syllogism which otherwise they might have to which Sir William's argument been willing to entertain? Sir is reducible. Those who have the William's Gamaliel answers this same end in view may differ widely question in one way, and Sir as to means; and we hope we have William himself in another. The shown that every one of these pupil throws over the master, think- methods of testifying our friending it will not be found out. We ship for a nation in the predicaleave the public to choose between ment of Greece would have been them. Sir William may be quite as severely condemned by Mr right, but let him cease in future Canning as they are by Lord Salisto defend himself by the example bury. The same charges were of Mr Canning.
brought against the former as are We have omitted all reference brought against the latter. He to the parliamentary proceedings was accused of want of sympathy of last month, in order to draw with the Spanish Liberals, of want attention to the use which has of sympathy with the Greek insurbeen made of Mr Canning's name gents—an indictment quite as false by one who evidently presumed as those which are levelled at the on the public ignorance of the present Prime Minister; and it is subject. Even Sir Charles Dilke quite possible that some future made a blunder about the Holy Sir William Harcourt, fifty years Alliance which we should not have hence, may be found appealing to expected from him. But Sir the Foreign Secretary of 1897 as William invokes the
our own Sir William appeals to Canning as a shield that will the Foreign Secretary of 1823, cover the whole extent of his and exclaiming with a deep sigh, attack from end to end. Starting “Ah! if we had but a Lord Salisfrom the postulate that Canning bury among us now !” would have sympathised with We had thought of recalling Greece in the present war, and some earlier instances of the ill slily slipping in the entirely false effects which are produced by an suggestion that the present Govern- Opposition anxious only to make ment does not, he thus contrives party capital out of foreign to place Canning and Lord Salis- politics. We might refer to the bury in apparent opposition to conduct of the Coalition during each other. This done, he makes the last years of Walpole's AdminiCanning's presumed agreement stration; to the conduct of the with the Radicals as to the main Whigs in 1797 on the subject of end of the present war serve to the currency, when the nation was justify their conduct in every par- only saved from imminent bankticular relating to it. The cause ruptcy by the wisdom and courage of Greece is the cause of liberty. of Mr Pitt; and again to their The cause of liberty was the cause attitude during the Peninsular of Canning. Therefore we are at But we feel that we have liberty, with the sanction of that said enough, and with one parting illustrious statesman, to sneer at observation we may dismiss the treaties, to hamper our own Gov- subject. Bad as was the party ernment, and insult our allies, if spirit displayed by the Whig. Tory