Great Britain: Foreign Policy and the Span of Empire, 1689-1971: A Documentary History - Vol. 3

By Joel H. Wiener | Go to book overview

NEAR EASTERN CRISIS

Speech by William E. Gladstone Denouncing the Bulgarian Atrocities
Committed by Turkey, 9 September 1876*

Now, my good friends, the first point to make good in our present proceeding is, that we should in our own consciences and understandings be able to give a rational and well-considered answer to this question: Are the horrors which are alleged against the Turks substantially proved to have occurred? It is a very serious matter to make charges such as I have made, and am about to make again, upon my fellow-creatures. The laws of justice, in my opinion, know no distinction of country, of race, or of religion; and we ought to be satisfied with the proof of these atrocities, before we presume to denounce them. Let me, then, briefly remind you how stands this part of the case. The intelligent and careful accounts given by the journals of this country, and above and before all by one among them, the name of which is very well known to you—I mean the ‘Daily News’—have remained before the world now for a part of the month of June and for the whole of the months of July and August. If those accounts are untrue, why have they not been confuted? The Turkish Government is in possession of power enough for the purpose; it is ruling Bulgaria with the sword; it is competent to draw out all true evidence in its own favour, and possibly a little more than what is true; and if strangers have been there, and have ventured to make untrue charges against the ruling powers, why have they not met and confuted those charges? I have read three official reports of the Turkish Government upon the subject; and I wish to Heaven you all could read every one of them, though I do not know that you would thank me for imposing such a task upon you. I wish them read by all, because the Ottoman Government is entitled to be heard in all that it thinks material for its defence. But I will presume to say in those three reports, and I am ready to point out to any one the documents I mean, there is hardly any one of the charges of the ‘Daily News’ which even so much as a serious and substantial attempt has been made to refute. They are, in brief, vague, self-glorifying declarations on the part of the Turks, that they have been humane and merciful, as well as prudent, all through; and that the allegations of atrocity are nonsense and imposture. In my opinion, these Turkish allegations are among the greatest aggravations of the case. Well, then, gentlemen, I must say that we, the English, through our Consular authorities, have moved with but halting steps; but Mr. Baring has, at any rate, sent to us some statements which prove to us, not the details, but which prove to us, in his judgment, that in the main and the bulk the earlier statements must be true. But this is very far from being all. A

* Gladstone, Speech Delivered at Blackheath, 10–32.

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