Page:The Sclavonic Provinces of the Ottoman Empire.djvu/7

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On January 16th, the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone gave a reading in the schoolroom at Hawarden, founded on Miss Muir Mackenzie's and Miss Irby's work on "The Slavonic Provinces of the Ottoman Empire." The room was crowded from door to door. Amongst the company were Mrs. W. E. Gladstone, Miss Gladstone, the Rev. S. E. Gladstone, and Mr. W. H. Gladstone, M.P.

Mr. Gladstone said:—My friends and neighbours: My object in addressing you this evening is not to meddle, even for a moment, with any portion of the political questions that at this moment deeply interest the country. I do not mean to say that my subject has no bearing upon those questions, because everything that relates to the interior state of Turkey and the condition of the Government there may be said to have an indirect bearing upon them. But I shall not say a word which can be understood to belong properly to the province of English politics. My object really is to give a little information, and I will tell you why. I think that, as a general rule, the English people feel that it is difficult enough to understand their own affairs, much less those of other people; and that is the principle upon which I have always been very much disposed to act. I have invariably held, and have often contended in Parliament, that this nation and its Government were already overweighted, and that we had undertaken more responsibilities than we could properly discharge. Consequently, I always regret any measure, from whatever quarter it comes, that tends unnecessarily to increase our responsibilities; but that is no reason why we should flinch from responsibilities that have been already incurred, when they amount to honourable engagements; and undoubtedly we have incurred responsibilities in the nature of honourable engagements with respect to Turkey. We have meddled in the affairs of the East—whether from motives of policy, whether from motives of philanthropy, whether for the preservation of the