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Hungary, Germany, and Russia, insisting upon wide and substantial reforms in the general administration of the Ottoman Empire. On the 23rd of February the Sultan issued a second decree, ordering the immediate execution of large administrative reforms. The insurrection spread into Bulgaria, however, and Turkish affairs were in a very disorganized condition. In July a joint declaration of war against the Ottoman Government was made by Servia and Montenegro. On the 31st of August, Murad V., who had been proclaimed Sultan after the deposition of Abdul Aziz, was himself deposed, and Abdul Hamid II. was installed as his successor.
In consequence of the terrible events which were occurring in Bulgaria, on the 6th of September Mr. Gladstone published his pamphlet entitled 'Bulgarian Horrors.' It passed through almost countless editions, and created a great sensation. Its author also enunciated his views at a meeting of his constituents on Blackheath, denouncing the Turkish governing body as incapable of reform, and proposing their expulsion, bag and baggage,' from Europe. In a speech made at Aylesbury, Lord Beaconsfield admitted that the Ministerial policy upon the Eastern Question was unpopular. He admired, he said, the enthusiasm and the sympathy which prompted the cry for vengeance, but he strongly condemned 'the designing politicians who take advantage of such sublime sentiments, and apply them for the furtherance of their sinister ends.' Sir Henry Elliot, the British Ambassador at Constantinople, demanded on behalf of our Government the punishment of those who had been guilty of the atrocities in Bulgaria; and he was also instructed to propose as a basis for peace negotiations administrative autonomy' in the Herzegovina and Bosnia, and guarantees against maladministration in Bulgaria.
At this juncture, namely, on the 2nd of October, a crowded meeting of members of the Manchester Reform Club assembled, at the invitation of Mr. B. Armitage, the president, to meet Mr. Bright, who had consented to address them on public affairs. Many members of Parliament and other influential persons were present. The event possessed something of historical interest, for it was now seen that Mr. Bright, who had been rejected at Manchester in consequence of the hostile attitude he assumed upon the Crimean war, was as popular as ever in this great constituency. As Mr. Armitage said, the separation came of a political aberration, for which penance had been done.
The country having lost faith in the regeneration of Turkey, Mr. Bright was in the position of a prophet whose prophecies had come true. In commencing his speech he adverted slightly to domestic matters, and then plunged into the question of the hour. He did not spare the authors of the Crimean war. He dwelt with emphasis on the mistakes—I had almost said the crimes—of twenty years ago. The difference he found between the Liberal leaders and the Tory leaders in regard to the policy of the past was that the former had learned something since that time, and the latter had learned nothing. The Crimean war was a mistake, and the country had made up its mind that such a mistake should not be repeated. The people of England 'have found out, too, that the idea that Russia was likely, if she got possession of Constantinople, to make her way to India and overthrow English power in that country, was a phantom that had really nothing in it; and I think they have found out also that the danger of the possession of a free passage through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles by Russia was one which England need not be afraid of. With regard to some of the recent events, Mr. Bright affirmed that 'the only persons in this country who have been able to close their eyes and their ears are Her Majesty's Ministers.' They had shown themselves virtually pro-Turk, and the time had come when our negotiations on this Eastern question must be framed upon new lines, with fresh principles and with a better policy. Having described the rising of the Christians in some of the Turkish provinces, the speaker declared amid applause that it had been followed by another rising, and an important one—the rising of the people of England. As to our future policy, “Let us lead; I have no objection if we can lead in a policy of mercy and freedom. Let us dissolve partnership with a Power which curses every land that is subject to it. One of our poets has said, and said truly
Byzantines boast that on the clod,
Grows neither grass, nor shrub, nor tree." There is no doubt whatever that desolation and ruin are lasting memorials of the Moslem power on the once fertile shores of the Mediterranean.'
Dealing, in conclusion, with Mr. Disraeli's speech at Aylesbury, and the demand for an autumn session, Mr. Bright observed :
'I say that the speech delivered the other day at Aylesbury was a speech of defiance to the people of England, a speech heartless and cruel as respects Servia and Bulgaria. (Hear, hear.) There is a demand for an autumn session. I believe nobody is more opposed to an autumn session than a member of Parliament is—(laughter); but though it is full of inconvenience, still the demand for it seems to me at this time constitutional and wise. Ministers are at variance, and the Prime Minister in his speech defies the country. If there was a dissolution now, what would happen? I suspect the Ministers would fear it greatly. They would be swept off the boards, and in their place a new policy and a new Ministry would be installed. I think the chief who made that speech-a speech which I deeply regret, and I think by this time he must also have regretted it-would by that public opinion be swept from his pride of place and from his place of power. Let him meet Parliament, or let him meet the constituencies ; I am not afraid of what would be the decision of the country. (Cheers.) We regret, the country regrets, our past policy with regard to the Turkish question. We regret, the country regrets, the sacrifices of the Crimean War. We are not now anxious to go to war to defend the Turk, and we are not called upon and do not intend to go to war to defend the enemies of the Turk. We are at a long distance from that part of the world. It is no business of ours to be sending ships and troops nearly three thousand miles to effect territorial changes in which we have no real and no direct interest. If we left it to the course of nature-nature as explained to us by historic facts-the question would no doubt some way settle itself. But if we had a Parliament, or a dissolution and a general election, the policy of England would in my opinion be declared ; and I freely state to you my judgment that we should have this solemn and irrevocable decision on the part of the people of this country—that the blood and the treasure of England shall never again be wasted on behalf of the Turk—(cheers)—that the vote of our Government,
the vote of England, in the Parliament of Europe, shall be given in favour of justice and freedom to Christian and Moslem alike(cheers)—and that the Ottoman power shall be left hereafter to the fate which Providence has decreed to corruption, tyranny, and wrong.' (Great cheering.)
In a letter to a correspondent, Mr. Bright also advocated an autumn session of Parliament, and it was generally believed that had such a step been taken at this time, it would have resulted in a disastrous defeat of the Government. But Lord Beaconsfield did not dissolve Parliament, and as events wore on they operated favourably rather than otherwise to the continuance and popularity of his Government.
On the 1st of November Turkey agreed to an armistice of six weeks, and on the following day the Emperor Alexander gave our ambassador at St. Petersburg, Lord A. Loftus, the most solemn assurances that he had no designs upon Constantinople. Speaking at Moscow on the 10th, with a knowledge of Lord Beaconsfield's utterances at the Ministerial banquet at the Mansion House on the preceding day, the Czar said that if Russia could not obtain such guarantees as were necessary for carrying out what she had a right to demand from the Porte, she was prepared to act independently. A Conference was now called at Constantinople of special representatives of the six great European Powers, for the purpose of settling the affairs of the Ottoman Empire; and the Marquis of Salisbury was nominated the Queen's Special Ambassador at this Conference.
While the Marquis was upon his travels, Mr.