Duke Of Argyll,.
We have already spoken in these pages of Lord Derby as a man of cool, clear intellect, of statesmanlike understanding, not in the least likely to be led out of his straight course, either by a momentary panic or by any desire to play an imposing part in Imperial politics. Lord Derby, too, was a man who thoroughly understood the condition of the Christian populations in the south-east of Europe, and knew that all they wanted to make them contented and prosperous was to be independent of the withering rule of the Turkish Sultans. Lord Derby at once resigned the office of Foreign Secretary, and Lord Beaconsfield lost his strongest colleague in the Government. Then Prince Bismarck, the German Prime Minister, intervened and, making a stroke off his own bat, to adopt a happy expression once used by Lord Palmerston, he invited a Congress of the representatives of the Great Powers to assemble in Berlin, in order to come to some decisive agreement as to the whole Eastern Question. The interests of the Greek Kingdom were naturally much mixed up with those of Turkey's Christian population; indeed, the Island of Crete, a Greek island if ever there was one, was then actually, as it still even is nominally, under Turkish rule. Greece, after some delay and some opposition, was allowed to be represented at the Congress of Berlin. Lord Beaconsfield had now another surprise in store for the world. No English Prime Minister had ever before left the country while Parliament was sitting, to act as the Representative of his Sovereign in any foreign city. Lord Beaconsfield announced that he proposed to go to Berlin himself, with Lord Salisbury as his colleague, to represent the interests of England at the Congress of Berlin. The Congress ended in a Treaty to be known in history as the Treaty of Berlin, which recognised the complete independence of Roumania, of Servia and of Montenegro; created a new state of Bulgaria, north of the Balkan Mountains, and a state to be called Eastern Roumelia, south of the Balkans, which was to be self-governing as regarded its internal administration, but was still to remain directly under the control of the Ottoman Government. Greece was promised by the Treaty some alterations of the frontier line, dividing her from the Ottoman Dominion, which promised to relieve her from some inconveniences and disadvantages. As regarded Asia, Turkey was compelled to cede three of her strong places to Russia. Lord Beaconsfield came back to England like a conquering hero, and announced in a speech, which he delivered from the windows of the Foreign Office in London, that he had brought "peace with honour."
Some of the arrangements made by the Treaty of Berlin proved to be, on the whole, successful in their policy as regarded the south-east of Europe. Some of them, on the other hand, were too highly artificial in their nature to endure the strain that was put upon them. Servia and Bulgaria did not settle down into anything like stability until after a war had taken place between the two new states. The arrangement which endeavoured to set up a semi-dependent state under the name of Eastern Roumelia fell to pieces altogether, and the greater portion of what had been called Eastern Roumelia became united with Bulgaria. Two opposing principles of policy prevailed amongst Englishmen during the arrangement for this new construction of the south-east of Europe. Lord Beaconsfield and his followers had for their first object the erection of a barrier against the supposed aggressions of Russia. Mr. Gladstone, and those who thought with him, were mainly desirous to make way for the progress as independent states of the Christian nationalities and races who, up to that time, had been under the yoke of Turkey. One of the difficulties with which European statesmanship had to deal, when endeavouring to divide the new states from the old Turkish provinces, was well described by the late Lord Derby. "The one group of nationalities," he said, " was half dead, the other was only yet half alive." The claims of Greece in especial received but little satisfaction under the new arrangement; and, indeed, all that could be said was that the settlement of the Greek question was put off once again to some more favourable opportunity, which opportunity does not seem to have come even yet. Still, on the whole, it may be assumed that the Treaty of Berlin created a number of new states independent of Turkish misrule which, thus far, have vindicated their right to independence, and have given a new life and a future to all that region of Europe. The old-fashioned devotees of Turkish rule, and the old-fashioned politicians, who were governed in everything by their dread of Russia's advance, found fault with most of the new arrangements; and, indeed, it would be impossible to deny that Russia regained many of the advantages she had lost, for the time, by the Crimean War. It did not, however, need the Treaty of Berlin to prove to most persons that the Crimean War had been fought to no purpose, so far as any enduring settlement of the Eastern Question could be concerned.
Henry Fawcett. 1833-1884.
The Congress of Berlin may be considered the zenith of Lord Beaconsfield's political career. No matter what might come of the Congress, it is quite certain that it made him for a time the central figure in European politics. Up to that hour his career had been a subject of interest to the people of these countries only - the Berlin Congress made him for the first time a personage on whom all the eyes of Europe were fixed. The remainder of his course as a statesman was but an anti-climax. England became engaged in some unlucky foreign adventures, especially in Afghanistan and in South Africa. One of the South African conflicts with a native chief brought a serious check for the moment to the British arms, and has become memorable in history, because it involved the fate of the young Prince Louis Napoleon, son of the dethroned Emperor of the French, who had died in January, 1873. The dethroned Emperor and his family had lived as exiles in England, and the young Prince, impatient of an idle career in exile, volunteered to serve with our forces in the Zulu Campaign of 1879, and was surprised and killed by a party of the native warriors. At home the ever-troublous Irish Question had come up again in a new and more embarrassing form than before. Instead of any futile rising in the field there was an organised Irish campaign in the House of Commons led by a man of extraordinary ability and energy, the late Mr. Charles Stewart Parnell. Under Mr. Parnell's leadership the new agitation took the form of organised Parliamentary obstruction.