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Family Notices






'NOT TO THE PUBLIC ADVANTAGE; IN the House of Commons on Tuesday, Sir W. Harcourt asked Mr. Balfour whether he was prepared to make any statement with reference to the condition of things in Crete, and Mr. Balfour answered that it was not possible to make any statement at all, on the ground that it would not be to the public advantage. Phrases such as not to the public advantage' are, no doubt, ad- mirable in their way, but it is about time that some specific meaning should be at- tached to them. To be turned off with such phrases is simply absurd, and we fancy not to the public advantage means not to the advantage of the Government,' or perhaps 'not to the benefit of the bond-holders.' While Mr. Balfour and Mr. Curzon refused to give information in the House of Com- mons, Lord Salisbury, in the House of Lords made a statement, the substance of which was a condemnation of the Govern- ment of Greece. If that is the policy of the British Government, why should it not be said in the House of Commons 1 As Sir W. Harcourt pointed out, the House of Com- mons, representing the British public, is to know nothing of it, and yet Mr. Balfour appealed to the Opposition 'to defer the discussion of the policy which the Govern- ment are pursuing in this grave and diffi- cult crisis in our foreign affairs.' This, we suppose, means that the Opposition as well as the public, for their own special 4 advan- tages,' whatever those may be, are to be kept in ignorance of the intentions of the Govern- ment until those intentions are converted into actions. After that has been done, it will be a fit occasion for the House and the public to condemn the Government, if the I Government is to be condemned.7 That seems a very shadowy sort of I advantage' to the public, and forces one to believe it I really means a much more subtantial ad- vantage to somebody else. It is right enough not to condemn before a thing is done, but in the case of a Government res- ponsible to the electors who put them in power, it seems very poor consolation for the public to be able to 'condemn' the Government when it is irretrievably commit- ted to any policy, or when that policy has been actually carried out. It will be remembered that the distur- bances in Crete last year caused the Powers to appoint a Christian Governor and make arrangements for the pacification of the island. That was done, but as Mr. T. P. O'Connor pointed out in moving the ad- journment of the House in order to discuss the question, 'the Christian governor who was appointed had left the island because he found it was impossible to govern, after having several times complained to the re- presentatives of the Powers that he was em- barrassed and disturbed, and practically made powerless to carry out these reforms. These disturbances of which he complained were initiated by Mussulman inhabitants of Crete, who were encouraged, inspired, and commanded from the Yildiz Kiosk.' In view of this state of affairs, and the fresh outbreak in the island the Greek Govern- ment decided to interfere, and sent troops to Crete, and the question at present is whether Britain shall participate in an at- tempt to frustrate the noble intentions of Greece. There have been ten insurrections in Crete since 1831, and each and all go to show that the desire of the island is to be placed under the government of Greece. Now the deliberate attempt of the Powers to better the condition of Crete and to r form the government has utterly failed, and while the Powers talk about their' concert,' Greece has acted, and would in a short time, if permitted, rescue Crete from the unhappy state in which it has remained so long. Mr. Balfour says—' It is absolutely impossible that we should keep the Concrrt of Europe going for some purposes connected with the Ottoman Empire and not for all purposes. It is quite impossible that you should at- tempt at Constantinople, through the con- certed action of your Ambassadors, to in- troduce reforms into the Asiatic and Euro- pean provinces of Turkey, and at the same time tell the Sultan that Crete is outside the sphere of the operation of Euro* pean Powers, and that we are not going to allow him to govern a part of his territory, that we are not going to govern it ourselves, but that we are going to leave it to chance and to Powers irresponsible in the matter.' It would appear to most people that the at- I tempts of the Powers at Constantinople through the concerted action of their Am- bassadors to introduce reforms,' have been a miserable farce, and to talk about the Concert of Europe being able to save Crete any more than it saves Armenia is surely as absurd as to call the Power which would em- ancipate Greece irresponsible.' Talking about the united action of the European Powers' is utter cant, for hitherto that united action' has secured absolutely nothing but immunity for the crimes of the Sultan, Seeing that united action' inva- riably means no action at all because of the inability of the Powers to arrive at any agreement as to action, it would have been thoroughly in keeping with the proceedings of the Concert' for Britain to say that she would do everything in her power to save the Concert, but that she would not consent to any action which would prevent Crete from receiving salvation at the hands of Greece. If not so, it would appear that Britain has no voice in the Concert, that she must invariably obey the dicta of the other Powers, and must, if so they will it, assist in the annihilation of the Greek Forces—an unspeakable humiliation for a country that never grows tired of flaunting before the eyes of the world its devotion to iberty. Does ourigovernment feel that the people would never consent to the employ- ment of British vessels to prevent Greece rom accomplishing the emancipation of Crete, and is not that the reason why they are not willing to make any statements on the question? Crete should naturally be annexed to Greece, and in these days, when the Great Powers are susceptible only to the corrupt influences of militarism and commercialism, the noble action of Greece should stimulate every lover of liberty to protest, and that determinedly, against the employment of force on the part of Britain, at any rate, to prevent the ending of the Sultan's misrule in Crete. To say that certain things are not to the public advantage' is simply to insult the manhood of the country, and it is time that people took an intelligent interest in these matters, and that they, despite ministers and bondholders, should save their own country from the unutterable degrada- tion of having thwarted the just cause of freedom, and of preventing the rescue of their fellow creatures from the tyranny of the most corrupt government that ever disfigured the history of the world.