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NAPOLEON III. PROPOSES PEACE NEGOTIATIONS.
accordance with the traditions of ancient policy, and therein is its advantage. France, by its successive revolutions, has separated from the rest of Europe. Every wise government ought to wish it to re-enter the pale of the old monarchies. But this result will be more surely attained by a straightforward and frank policy, by loyalty in conduct, than by royal alliances, which often create a false security, and substitute family interests for those of the nation. Moreover, the example of the past has left in the minds of the people certain superstitious feelings. They have not forgotten that for seventy years foreign princesses have mounted the throne only to behold their race dispossessed or proscribed by war or revolution.
"One woman alone seemed to bring happiness, and to live more than the others in the memory of the people. That woman, the modest and good wife of General Bonaparte, was not the issue of royal blood. It must, however, be admitted that in 1810 the marriage of Napoleon I. with Marie Louise was a great event. It was a pledge for the future, a real satisfaction, as the ancient and illustrious house of Austria, which had been so long at war with us, was seen to intrigue for the alliances of the elected chief of a new empire. Under the late reign, on the contrary, the patriotism of the nation suffered when the heir to the crown solicited fruitlessly, during several years, a princely alliance, to obtain it only in a secondary rank and a different religion.
"When, in the presence of Europe, a man is borne on by the force of a principle to the level of ancient dynasties, it is not by giving an ancient character to his escutcheon, and by seeking to introduce himself, at any cost, into a family, that he is accepted. It is rather, ever remembering his origin, by preserving his own character, and by adopting frankly in presence of Europe the position of parvenu -a glorious title when one obtains it by the voluntary suffrages of a great people. Thus departing from the precedents followed up to this time, my marriage became a private affair, and there remained only the choice of
"She who has been the object of my preference is of princely descent. French in heart, by education, and by the recollection of the blood shed by her father in the cause of the empire, she has, as a Spaniard, the advantage of not having in France a family to whom it might be necessary to give honours and fortune. Without despising any one, I yet yield to my inclinations, after having taken counsel with my reason and my convictions. In fine, by placing independence, the qualities of the heart, domestic happiness, above dynastic prejudices and the calculations of ambition, I shall not be less strong because I shall be more free."
It was on the 29th of January, 1854, and of course after the destruction of the Turkish fleet by the Russians at Sinope, that Napoleon III. wrote to the Emperor of Russia:
"Your majesty has given so many proofs of your solicitude for the tranquillity of Europe, and by your beneficent influence has so powerfully arrested the spirit of disorder, that I cannot doubt as to the course you will take in the alternative which presents itself to your choice. Should your majesty be as desirous as myself of a pacific conclusion, what would be more simple than to declare that an armistice shall now be signed, that all hostilities shall cease, and that the belligerent forces shall retire from the places to which motives of war have led them? Thus the Russian troops would abandon the Principalities, and our squadrons the Black Sea. Your majesty, preferring to treat directly with Turkey, might appoint an ambassador, who could negotiate with a plenipotentiary of the sultan a convention which might be submitted to a conference of the four powers. Let your majesty adopt this plan, upon which the Queen of England and myself are perfectly agreed, and tranquillity will be re-established and the world satisfied. There is nothing in the plan which is unworthy of your majesty, nothing which can wound your honour; but if, from a motive difficult to understand, your majesty should refuse this proposal, then France as well as England will be compelled to leave to the fate of arms and the chances
of war that which might now be decided by | evitable they were ready to engage in it with
reason and justice."
The Emperor of Russia replied on the 9th of February:-"I have made, for the maintenance of peace, all the concessions, both of form and substance, compatible with my honour; and in claiming for my coreligionists in Turkey the confirmation of the rights and privileges which they have long acquired at the price of Russian blood I claimed nothing which was not confirmed by treaties. If the Porte had been left to herself the difference which has so long kept Europe in suspense would have been solved. A fatal influence has thrown everything into confusion. By provoking gratuitous suspicions, by exciting the fanaticism of the Turks, and by deceiving their government as to my intentions and the real scope of my demands, it has so exaggerated the extent of the questions that the probable result seems to be war.
My confidence is in God and in my right, and Russia, as I can guarantee, will prove herself in 1854 what she was in 1812. If, however, your majesty, less indifferent to my honour, should frankly return to our programme, if you should proffer me a cordial hand, as I now offer it to you at this last moment, I will willingly forget whatever has wounded my feelings in the past. Then, sire, but then only, we may discuss, and perhaps we may come to an understanding. Let your fleet limit itself to preventing the Turks from sending additional forces to the theatre of war: I willingly promise that they shall have nothing to fear from my attempts. Let them send a negotiator; I will receive him in a suitable manner. My conditions are known at Vienna. That is the only basis upon which I can allow discussion."
It was thought by Prince Albert and others who were thoroughly acquainted with the situation that the representations made by Napoleon III. to Russia, though they were little likely to find favour with the czar, were genuinely intended to avert if possible a war in which the French people were not at all desirous to engage; but the temper of the French people themselves underwent a change after the reply came, and the war being in
spirit and determination. It is said that the phrase of the czar, "Russia will prove herself in 1854 what she was in 1812," aroused the war fever in France. But we must briefly refer to the events which preceded this correspondence, and then as briefly indicate the progress of the struggle during 1854 and 1855. We have already seen that the demands of Russia were founded on a clause in a treaty which, it was alleged, gave the czar a protectorate over the Greek subjects of the sultan. The treaty was that of Kutchuk-Kainardji, made in 1774 between the Ottoman Porte and Catherine II. of Russia, at a time when Turkey had been repeatedly defeated, and was reduced to such extremities that she was ready to concede almost anything, and did in fact relinquish Azof and Taganrog, at the same time making the Crimea independent, with the result of its being afterwards calmly appropriated as a possession of the Russian Empire. It seems scarcely likely, therefore, that in the same treaty which enforced these enormous concessions a clause should have been knowingly accepted, which, under colour of giving Russia a right to demand from the sultan due protection to members of the Greek Church in Turkey, might be at any time interpreted to mean such a claim of interposition on the part of Russia as would virtually make the Porte entirely subservient to the czar in respect to a large proportion of its subjects. All Europe may be said to have been engaged in disputing about the literal interpretation of the clause in the treaty of Kutchuk-Kainardji, on which Russia founded its arrogant and inordinate claims, and many, among whom was Mr. Gladstone, contended that the wording of the treaty involved the right of Russia to interpose if the sultan failed to extend to the Christian churches the protection which had been promised. Of course, accepting even to the full this interpretation, it was still open to argue what was the kind or degree of protection intended, and to what extent Russian interposition could be permitted in a case affecting not the Ottoman Porte only, but the European powers; or at all events, not only the integrity
RESISTANCE OF THE SULTAN-THE VIENNA NOTE.
but the existence of the Ottoman Empire. Now the seventh clause of the treaty, on which the whole controversy turned, recorded the agreement of the Sublime Porte "to protect constantly the Christian religion and its churches; and also to allow the minister of the imperial court of Russia to make, on all occasions, representations, as well in favour of the new church in Constantinople, of which mention will be made in the fourteenth article, as in favour of those who officiate therein, promising to take such representations into due consideration as being made by a confidential functionary of a neighbouring and sincerely friendly power." The "new church in Constantinople" evidently refers to some specific building; and in the "fourteenth article" this reference is explained to mean a permission to the Russian court to build in the Galata quarter of Constantinople a Greek church for public worship, in addition to the chapel built in the residence of the Russian minister; and it is further declared that this new church shall be always under the protection of the ministers of the Russian Empire, and shielded from all obstruction and all injury. The whole contention as to the logical claim of Russia turned on a distinction or a relation between the first line of the seventh clause and the entire clause along with the article relating to the new church, to which a reference is made by the clause itself.
There is no need, however, to dwell on these disputes, and practically they had no effect in averting the war, or in justifying the action which was taken by Russia to enforce claims which it was asserted were monstrous under any interpretation of the treaty, or, as many people would have said, in spite of the existence of any treaty whatever. In England the intentions rather than the claims of the Emperor Nicholas were estimated, and his attempts to make our government a party to his assumptions appeared to be resented more by the people of this country than they had been by the ministers to whom the sinister suggestions had been submitted.
It would have been comparatively easy to obtain from Turkey a reasonable recognition of the terms of the treaty. The sultan
was ready to admit the claims in respect to the holy places, and the protection to be afforded to Christian churches. But it soon became evident that the emperor had determined to make an end of "the sick man" and administer his estate; and the refusal of England to become an accomplice seemed to increase his obstinacy, or rather to change its character to that of dogged fury. Prince Menschikoff either had orders to behave more like a bully than an envoy, or he naturally adopted that tone and manner which turned diplomatic proposals into threatening demands, and made of a so-called "convention" an ultimatum, the manner of presenting which was an insult to which no nation would be likely to submit unless it were in such extremity that it dare not refuse. The sultan did not think that Turkey was in that extremity, and it may be noted that Lord Palmerston thought so too, since he afterwards said he was by no means certain that the Turks might not have held their own for a long time against the bullying of Russia even after actual hostilities had commenced. The sultan had already issued firmans by which the claims for the confirmation and protection of the privileges of the Christian church had been met, and under the advice of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe the whole attitude of the Porte was one of a desire for conciliatory measures; but the demanded convention was refused, as perhaps Menschikoff expected that it would be, and then (on the 3d of July 1853) two Russian divisions under the command of Prince Gortschakoff crossed the Pruth and took possession of the Danubian principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. This the czar announced was not an act of war, but only the acquisition of material guarantees for the concession of the demands of Russia; but as these demands had already been emphatically refused as intolerable, war could not be very far off. Still, in accordance with the advice of the English representative and the concurrence of the other powers, the sultan refrained from a declaration of hostilities. The Vienna note, which was the result of the conference, was put forward as a charming example of diplo
macy; and Russia was ready to accept it, for it left the points in dispute unsettled, and its language was so vague that it was even more liable to misinterpretation than the treaty of Kutchuk-Kainardji itself. Lord Stratford, however, was not deceived by it. He saw that it could be distorted into a concession of Russian demands, since it would be interpreted into an admission of her immediate protectorate over the Greek Christians in Turkey. Prince Albert was among those who were at first caught by its smooth conciliatory admissions, but he afterwards characterized it as a trap laid by Russia through Austria. As we have already indicated, the demands of Prince Menschikoff had gone far beyond the questions in dispute about the holy places, and the Porte had closed that dispute by the issue of firmans at the beginning of May. The "convention" afterwards proposed was really an ultimatum which Turkey could not for a moment admit. The crossing of the Pruth by Russian troops for the purpose of securing material guarantees was little less than a declaration of war: but Count Nesselrode's note declaring it to be only a measure of self-protection enabled the western powers again to endeavour to pacify the Porte while fresh negotiations were attempted. The temper of the Turkish government was such that it needed no more than a hint from Lord Stratford to lead it to reject the Vienna note unless considerable modifications were made in its terms. Not only the Moslem, but a large proportion of the Christian populations were averse to the domination of Russia, and the sultan felt that he had the moral support of the western powers against the outrageous demands of the czar. In rejecting the note it was necessary to guard against interpretations which might revive those demands, even if they were for the moment kept in abeyance, and the only direct way to do this was to alter the reference to the stipulations of the treaty of Kainardji so as to make it quite clear that there should be no direct protectorate by the Emperor of Russia over the Christian subjects of the czar. This alteration was just what the emperor did not want; the amendments were rejected, and though some
further attempts were made to patch up a diplomatic arrangement, war became inevitable, except from the point of view of the "Peace Party," who mostly thought that even the disappearance of the Turkish Empire from the map of the world would not be an overwhelming calamity.
The situation was the more critical because the subjects of the Porte were already in a state of great excitement, and were crying loudly against the demands of the Russian government; and indeed, public feeling in England was being aroused to a pitch which would soon have made a pacific government unpopular. England could not advise the ministry of the sultan to accept the Vienna note, the Russian interpretation of which had been distinctly declared to be at variance with the intention of the powers who drew up its provisions. One of two courses seemed to be unavoidable-either to induce the Turkish government to accept it by giving a guarantee to support them in any future attempt of Russia to act on its misinterpretation, or to prepare in conjunction with France to go to their aid to repel the Russian aggression.
To his great grief Lord Aberdeen saw that he was unable to stem the tide, and his difficulties were not diminished because he was already being "advised" by Palmerston, whose robust pugnacity would have taken decisive and emphatic measures to show Russia that he was not to be trifled with. The state of Constantinople had become very alarming. Lord Aberdeen wrote to the queen on the 23d of September, 1853, "The war frenzy and fanaticism of the Turks have passed all bounds, and threaten the safety of the sultan and of the Christian inhabitants of the capital. Under these circumstances authority has been given to call up the English and French fleets for their protection. The ambassadors have already agreed, each of them to summon two war steamers for this purpose. Unwilling as Lord Aberdeen has always been to agree to the gratuitous violation of the treaty of 1841, he could not hesitate a moment when British life and property were at stake, as well as the personal security of the sovereign."
The Queen and Prince Albert had by that
THE FIRST MOVE OF THE ALLIES.
time, however, begun pretty well to under- | conjunction with such as have either the
stand the true position of affairs, and her majesty was prompt and definite enough in her reply in a letter from Balmoral dated September 25th.
"Lord Aberdeen's explanation of the present state of affairs throws an entirely new light upon the position of the question in dispute. The queen has also just seen Count Nesselrode's despatch, stating his reasons for the objections to the modifications made in Vienna note. Hitherto Russia has generally objected to any modification of what had been already accepted by the emperor as an ultimatum.
"But since it appears, as Lord Aberdeen says, that the Russian interpretation of the Vienna note was directly at variance with that of the four powers, and in a great measure confirmed the Turkish objections,' Lord Aberdeen is perfectly right in calling it 'an act scarcely honest upon the part of England and France to ask the Porte to sign a note upon the strength of their interpretation, while they knew perfectly well that this interpretation was entirely different from that put upon it by the power to whom the note was to be addressed.'
"From this moment, however, it becomes also obvious that it will be fruitless further to attempt to settle the dispute by the 'rédaction' (compilation) of notes to be exchanged between Turkey and Russia, or the choice of particular words and expressions in public documents having for their object to avoid naming the real objects in dispute.
"It is evident that Russia has hitherto attempted to deceive us in pretending that she did not aim at the acquisition of any new right, but required only a satisfaction of honour and a reacknowledgment of the rights she already possessed by treaty; and that she does intend, and for the first time lays bare that intention, to acquire new rights of interference which the Porte does not wish to concede, and cannot concede, and which the European powers have repeatedly declared she ought not to concede.
"Ought not the points of difference to be now prominently laid before our allies, and in
honesty or the courage to avow the same opinion with ourselves ought we not to point this out to Russia, with a declaration that such demands are unsupported by existing treaties, inadmissible by Turkey if she has any regard for her independence, and inadmissible by the powers who have an interest and a duty to guard this independence, and that the continuance of the occupation of the principalities in order to extort these demands constitutes an unwarrantable aggression upon Turkey, and infraction of the public law of Europe?
"If the views of Russia, for instance, with regard to 'Modification III. of the Note' were to prevail, the extension of the advantages and privileges enjoyed by Christian communities, in their capacity as foreigners, to the Greeks generally, with the right granted to Russia to intercede for them to this effect, would simply make foreigners of ten millions of the subjects of the Porte, or depose the sultan as their sovereign, putting the Emperor of Russia in his place."
It is not difficult to trace in this plain declaration the hand of Prince Albert, but at the time or soon afterwards he was accused and suspected of being in effect adverse to England and of acting inimically to the national honour by his foreign sympathies. The "dead-set" made on the prince by a large part of the newspaper press was inexcusable, and for a time he was again the centre of abuse from all quarters, until a short declaration in parliament utterly exploded these scandalous accusations. Of this we shall have a word to say in another page. The line of argument indicated in the queen's reply to the Earl of Aberdeen was adopted and made the substance of a despatch by Lord Clarendon to Sir G. Hamilton Seymour at St. Petersburg, and then followed another move on the part of the Emperor Nicholas.
The French and British fleets had been sent to the Dardanelles for the protection of Turkey as soon as it was known that preparations were being made for the Russian occupation of the principalities. Lord Palmerston had strongly advised that when the occupation did take place the fleets should at once be sent up