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curately judged the situation, met it with no lack of wisdom or courage on the lines of an established policy since proved right by events is unassailable, in short, within the duties and obligations of his trust - we have now to see how much he is to blame for not departing from them at the call of alien peoples under barbarous rule.
Although Lord Beaconsfield can, I think, be positively justified against the attacks that are made upon him on this score, he need not lose the benefit of good and reasonable excuse when that minor means of absolution is available. Since none are so unintelligent as not to know that the Turks were guilty of frightful excesses in 1895 and 1896, it is assumed that anybody might have foreseen in 1878 a repetition of the Bulgarian atrocities before long. Therefore Lord Beaconsfield should have foreseen their recurrence, and should have abandoned forthwith a policy of safeguarding British interests by maintaining the existence of an incurably barbarous Government. This was imperatively due to the honour of England, and would have prevented the long series of Armenian horrors. It seems to me, however, that Lord Beaconsfield may be excused if he did not believingly foresee a repetition of misdeeds which were instantly punished with signal and irremediable severity. He could but think their recurrence possible, but surely it was no obvious defect of wit if he thought a keenly deterrent recollection of their punishment far more likely. In the third quarter of the nineteenth century, it was more reasonable to look for better measures as a consequence of the penalty than for a headlong provoking repeti
tion of the crime. This has often been urged in Lord Beaconsfield's excuse, and should be allowed. And there is a particular reason for doing so which has been overlooked. By universal agreement all that is atrocious in these dealings with the Armenians is the work of the Sultan, and his alone. The work of an individual, that is; and of one who began his reign so well that to change a rooted system of policy upon a forecast of his falling away could not have been avowed with safety.
This brings us to another point, and one of substantial importance. The politicians of our day who say that Lord Beaconsfield should have changed England's Eastern policy after the Bulgarian massacres, are of those who would have driven Lord Salisbury to attack Turkey after the Armenian massacres. Other Englishmen of similar temperament-in fact, the rest of the Disraeli-haunted party -have no doubt that both things ought to have been done upon every consideration of honour and humanity, but that Lord Salisbury was absolved by a necessary regard for certain restraints. And so, indeed, he was; but it is hard to see why Lord Beaconsfield should not be equally excused-if he needs excuse-for he also was under control of the practically impossible.
What is it that he ought to have done, and is condemned for not doing? It is obvious that his accusers could not have been satisfied with a change of heart or a revolution of opinion. If they examine themselves they will find that what they demand of him is not only that, and not only a complete change of policy, but also an immediate change of conduct, publicly displayed. A gradual change. of policy is not in question. Clearly,
it could have had no effective application to the case. Lord Beaconsfield was to decide at once, on a forecast of Abdul Hamid's turning out not the reforming Sultan he seemed but a murdering despot, upon a complete and proclaimed reversal of England's Eastern policy. It was to be proclaimed, and it was to be acted upon. If now Disraeli's unfriends will turn from ascertaining their demands upon him, and look to the conditions in which he was placed, they will understand their own unreasonableness. Everything that stood between their hearts' desire and its fulfilment when they would have had Lord Salisbury "sweep aside the Powers" and attack Turkey single-handed-treaty obligations, the concert, the partition-spectre-would have confronted England at once had Disraeli proposed that sudden change. But more remains to be said. The country would have forbidden the transaction. That is positive. Bulgarian agitation was strong at its zenith irresistible; and it was maintained at a pitch other wise untenable by a supposed discovery that the invasion of Turkey by Russia had none but the most divinely humane and self-sacrificing motives. But yet the Czar was quite right when he said, amidst these excitements, that there still existed in England 66 inveterate suspicion of Russian policy, and a continual fear of Russian aggression and conquest." True. These just suspicions and that provident fear existed all the while, rising almost to violence as the war went on. A transaction between the British and Russian Governments like that so much commended last year would have sent the people into the streets.
But surely, it has been said, some agreement might have been
come to at the beginning of the trouble which would have satisfied the benevolent desires of the Russian Foreign Office, and secured some measure of selfgovernment for the populations of Turkey. mains a plausible objection, but it was much more so before Prince Lobanoff removed the mask of Christian sympathy and self-sacrifice from the face of Russian policy. "Some agreement" on behalf of oppressed Christians was attempted lately, in very appealing circumstances. jected because it did not suit the programme of Russian advancement. Any attempt of the same character which obstructed the fulfilment of that scheme - to which the independence of the Turkish Christians has ever been offensive would have certainly failed in 1876. If, then, Lord Beaconsfield is blamed for holding a contrary view, and for taking no pains to act on that contrary view, his case should be re-tried. The only witnesses against him on that score were Imposture, Credulity, and Illusion allies of the Russian Government till the year before last, when they were slaughtered in the sight of all men as no longer needed. It was on a chill November day, and Prince Lobanoff was the memorable executioner.
That famous despatch of his finished them, quite completely but much too late. As long as they flourished, Lord Beaconsfield's Eastern policy was exposed to a double fire, from both the moral and the intellectual side. As a policy which bolstered up an unspeakable Government for the sake of Britain's material interests, it was a wicked policy, and it was the more wicked because it was foolish. Its justification and sustenance were jeal
ousy of Russia and fear of the hostile designs of that Government upon our empire in the East. But the jealousy was unworthy, the fear insensate. The abominable Turkish Government was bolstered up to keep out a "bogy"; making a perfect combination of the atrocious and the absurd. And morality was doubly outraged at the bidding of the bugbear; for the bolstering up of Turkey was the repulse of a noble pity and a willing self-sacrifice, mistaken for the mere greed of conquest, which was the bogy. It was generosity and enlightenment to hold that view of the matter, stupidity and inhumanity to abide by the other. Disraeli held by the other. He had no faith in the divine unselfishness of the Russian operations in Turkish territory, no belief in the explanation of them as a simple-hearted endeavour to liberate down trodden peoples. This which his opponents did believe passionately he coldly denied. The belief was more beautiful than the denial, but it was an illusion. The denial had a bad look of cynicism, but it was only the cynical look of it that was to disappear. That the belief was moral as well as beautiful I do not take upon myself to contradict, nor even that the morality remains with them who entertained it so handsomely. But if the denial was right it can hardly be immoral, and since statesmanship must be guided by facts, and not by illusions, I do not see what immorality was brought into our Eastern policy by rejecting the Russian imposture. And that it was an imposture, a deceit, crowning evidence is supplied by the Russian Government itself. Its conduct in the case of the Armenians is proof so clear that it need not be dwelt upon for a moment. And it is to be re
marked that while the character of the evidence is peculiarly decisive on this point, it shows in the same most striking way how substantial the bogy is. But just when these justifications of Lord Beaconsfield come out, and because of them, his opinions and policy are said to have been quite unexpectedly erroneous and improper.
Disraeli's unadmirers believe, however, that there is a particular and sufficient warrant for their blame in the Armenian massacres themselves; and they would saydo say that if the Czar would not help them out of their trouble, Lord Beaconsfield got them into it. He got them into it by insisting on replacing them under the Turkish dominion when he revised the Treaty of San Stefano.
All sorts of absurd and ignorant things have been said about that revision, which I would gladly notice, had I space enough at command, on behalf of an English Minister who could at any rate handle his Lobanoffs to considerable effect. The revision of the San Stefano Treaty was, in fact, all he could do in the spirit and to the purpose of his own unpermitted policy. It is often spoken of as if insisted upon for the gratification of one man's perverted mind; but they who talk in this way cannot know, for one thing, what a tremendous burst of anger the publication of the San Stefano Treaty evoked in England.
Such a cry would be called in these days an irresistible mandate to get the treaty mended or ended. More to the purpose is the fact that the treaty was revised not by one Government, but by all the great Powers in congress; and that the object of the Congress in relaxing the hold upon Turkey which that instrument gave to Russia was a common
object, which is agreed upon as necessary to this day. Thus the Duke of Argyll, one of the most copious and vehement abhorrers of "pro-Turkish" practices, holds that to ward off the Russian domination in Turkey is a cardinal policy for England and the rest of Europe. In a little book published last summer, he suspects that Prince Lobanoff has betrayed in a certain despatch "the worst indication of Russia's real intentions: 'She must mean, then, to stand alone in dealing with Turkey as she pleases," which would be unlawful and intolerable. Yes; and the Treaty of San Stefano was not only an indication of the same intention, but a most powerful means of fulfilling it. Therefore something was done at Berlin by the Powers in congress to protect a cardinal policy for England and the rest of Europe.1
Yet it may be truly said that it was at Lord Beaconsfield's instance specially that tens of thousands of Armenian families who were taken under Russian government by the San Stefano Treaty were handed back again to the Turk-which is the head and front of Disraeli's offending. Thus, and by the utter neglect and failure of the Cyprus Convention (an insincere business), he and his policy are responsible for those awful Armenian massacres. The answer to this I am obliged to state with the utmost brevity, asking 'Maga's' readers to spend a minute or two in making the best of them the worst, too, if they please, but the worst also.
in possession of the great Armenian fortresses of which Kars is the most renowned, the command of Russia in and beyond what is called Armenia would have been complete but for some check; especially, it would have given that Power an easy mastery of the Euphrates Valley. That was a grave consideration with the then trustees of the British empire, and their main reason for insisting that the Russian Armenian frontier, as defined in the San Stefano Treaty, should be pushed back a little. At the same time it was acknowledged that England's duty to herself here was accompanied by a duty to the Christian people restored to Turkish rule. The Cyprus Convention was entered into for the better performance of the one duty and the redemption of the other. England was to defend Turkey from Russian dispossession in her Asiatic provinces; Turkey engaged "to introduce necessary reforms into the Government, and for the protection of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte in their territories," and the English obligation depended on the fulfilment of the Turkish obligation. "Yes; but, in short, the good government and safety of those Christian peoples were risked upon the worthless security of a Turkish promise." No; but on consideration of the valuable security, to the Turks, of
the quid pro quo. "Upon that?
Upon something hardly more substantial, then, than Turkish vows. The whole business was hollow and fantastic. It was a show; the
1 The Duke of Argyll, one of the two last surviving members of the Cabinet which waged the Crimean war, defends that war on the same ground-by arguments that go to justify the revision of the San Stefano Treaty, which he ridicules and condemns. It is pretty to notice, by the way, that in defending the Crimean war the Duke can write-“ Antagonism to Russia on account of her exclusive claims was the inspiring motive of the war. The contest took of necessity the form of supporting Turkey." Why, certainly. But as to other contests of the same character which the Duke of Argyll did not wage-!
parade of a grandiose scheme doomed to disappear almost as soon as seen-which it did, with the massacres to follow."
As to them, we have already considered whether it was unreasonable not to look for a recurrence of Bulgarian atrocities. For the rest, protection of the Christian Armenians under the Cyprus Convention was sincerely meant.
Lord Beaconsfield was weak enough to take promises of reform from Turkey, all Europe has not proved strong enough, up to the middle of this month of February 1897, in obtaining anything else. But he was not content with the
promises. We have heard that he immediately appointed special consuls to watch over the treatment of the Christian population, and had he time to do much more? How many months after the Convention was signed did he remain in office? Not very many; and soon after he went out of office, as we have also heard, his consuls were withdrawn by his successors, and the plan failed because it was dropped just as his whole policy failed because it was first crippled and then cast off. The collapse of the Cyprus Convention must not be laid to Disraeli. Pertaining to a policy which it was meant to re-establish and confirm, it went with the abandonment of that policy, and the substitution of nothing in its place-I call particular attention to this-which might either have protected Armenians from the Turks or the British Government from Russian domination.
Let that be well considered in all its bearings. Disraeli's critics should ask themselves this question: If the old policy had been re-established and confirmed, to the restoration of England's predominant influence at the Porte,
must that influence have been used badly? Does not the Cyprus Convention imply an intention of using it for good, or is there any reason why it should not have been a humane influence in the hands of Disraeli's successors? Suppose England as powerful at the Porte as she used to be, in what way would Lord Salisbury and Lord Rosebery have used her authority? Would the Armenians have been any worse off than they are now, and would not England's position be a prouder one, if not a stronger one, than it is today? I believe I have already given the answer to these questions. By the continuance and honest use of her lost influence and power, England would have forestalled the Russian dictatorship under which the Armenians perished and the Sultan was shielded.
And now how is it, while the ill turn which Lord Beaconsfield is supposed to have brought upon the Armenians is used against him so violently here and so ingeniously there-how is it that there is no recollection of his services to the Christians of the Balkans ? Nobody marks the good that Dizzy did at Berlin toward ensuring the independence of the liberated Balkan States; and yet it should be remembered. Those States (one may say it now without fear of being stoned) were not liberated at San Stefano, but detached from the Turkish empire and arranged in the most convenient manner first for Russian use and then for Russian assimilation. There are people who still believe that a happier fate could not befall them. But assimilation is not liberation; and when the freedom, the independence, the self-confidence and prosperity of these States are celebrated, it should be remembered that they were really liberated at Berlin, and that Lord Beaconsfield