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RESISTANCE OF THE SULTAN—THE VIENNA NOTE.
but the existence of the Ottoman Empire. was ready to admit the claims in respect to Now the seventh clause of the treaty, on which the holy places, and the protection to be the whole controversy turned, recorded the afforded to Christian churches. But it soon agreement of the Sublime Porte“ to protect became evident that the emperor had deterconstantly the Christian religion and its mined to make an end of “the sick man” churches; and also to allow the minister of and administer his estate; and the refusal the imperial court of Russia to make, on all England to become an accomplice seemed occasions, representations, as well in favour of to increase his obstinacy, or rather to change the new church in Constantinople, of which its character to that of dogged fury. Prince mention will be made in the fourteenth article, Menschikoff either had orders to behave as in favour of those who officiate therein, more like a bully than an envoy, or he promising to take such representations into naturally adopted that tone and manner due consideration as being made by a con- which turned diplomatic proposals into threatfidential functionary of a neighbouring and ening demands, and made of a so-called sincerely friendly power.” The new church convention" an ultimatum, the manner of in Constantinople” evidently refers to some presenting which was an insult to which no specific building; and in the “fourteenth nation would be likely to submit unless it article" this reference is explained to mean were in such extremity that it dare not a permission to the Russian court to build in refuse. The sultan did not think that Turthe Galata quarter of Constantinople a Greek key was in that extremity, and it may be church for public worship, in addition to the noted that Lord Palmerston thought so too, chapel built in the residence of the Russian since he afterwards said he was by no means minister; and it is further declared that this certain that the Turks might not have held new church shall be always under the pro- their own for a long time against the bullytection of the ministers of the Russian Empire, ing of Russia even after actual hostilities and shielded from all obstruction and all in- had commenced. The sultan had already jury. The whole contention as to the logical issued firmans by which the claims for the claim of Russia turned on a distinction or a confirmation and protection of the privileges relation between the first line of the seventh of the Christian church had been met, and clause and the entire clause along with the under the advice of Lord Stratford de Redarticle relating to the new church, to which a cliffe the whole attitude of the Porte was one reference is made by the clause itself.
of a desire for conciliatory measures; but the There is no need, however, to dwell on demanded convention was refused, as perhaps these disputes, and practically they had no Menschikoff expected that it would be, and effect in averting the war, or in justifying the then (on the 3d of July 1853) two Russian action which was taken by Russia to enforce divisions under the command of Prince Gortclairns which it was asserted were monstrous schakoff crossed the Pruth and took possesunder any interpretation of the treaty, or, as sion of the Danubian principalities of Molmany people would have said, in spite of the davia and Wallachia. This the czar announced existence of any treaty whatever. In Eng- was not an act of war, but only the acquisition land the intentions rather than the claims of of material guarantees for the concession of the Emperor Nicholas were estimated, and the demands of Russia; but as these demands his attempts to make our government a party had already been emphatically refused as to his assumptions appeared to be resented intolerable, war could not be very far off. more by the people of this country than they Still, in accordance with the advice of the had been by the ministers to whom the sinis- English representative and the concurrence ter suggestions had been submitted.
of the other powers, the sultan refrained from It would have been comparatively easy to a declaration of hostilities. The Vienna note, obtain from Turkey a reasonable recognition which was the result of the conference, was of the terms of the treaty. The sultan / put forward as a charming example of diplo
macy; and Russia was ready to accept it, for further attempts were made to patch up a it left the points in dispute unsettled, and its diplomatic arrangenient, war became inevitlanguage was so vague that it was even more able, except from the point of view of the liable to misinterpretation than the treaty of " Peace Party," who mostly thought that Kutchuk-Kainardji itself. Lord Stratford, even the disappearance of the Turkish Empire however, was not deceived by it. He saw from the map of the world would not be an that it could be distorted into a concession of overwhelming calamity. Russian demands, since it would be inter- The situation was the more critical because preted into an admission of her immediate the subjects of the Porte were already in a protectorate over the Greek Christians in state of great excitement, and were crying Turkey. Prince Albert was among those who loudly against the demands of the Russian were at first caught by its smooth conciliatory government; and indeed, public feeling in Engadmissions, but he afterwards characterized land was being aroused to a pitch which would it as a trap laid by Russia through Austria. soon have made a pacific government unpopAs we have already indicated, the demands of ular. England could not advise the ministry Prince Menschikoff had gone far beyond the of the sultan to accept the Vienna note, the questions in dispute about the holy places, Russian interpretation of which had been and the Porte had closed that dispute by the distinctly declared to be at variance with the issue of firmans at the beginning of May. intention of the powers who drew up its proThe “convention ” afterwards proposed was visions. One of two courses seemed to be really an ultimatum which Turkey could not unavoidable-either to induce the Turkish for a moment admit. The crossing of the government to accept it by giving a guarPruth by Russian troops for the purpose of antee to support them in any future attempt securing material guarantees was little less of Russia to act on its misinterpretation, or than a declaration of war: but Count Nessel
to prepare in conjunction with France to go rode's note declaring it to be only a measure to their aid to repel the Russian aggression. of self-protection enabled the western powers To his great grief Lord Aberdeen saw that again to endeavour to pacify the Porte while he was unable to stem the tide, and his diffifresh negotiations were attempted. The tem- culties were not diminished because he was per of the Turkish government was such that already being “advised” by Palmerston, whose it needed no more than a hint from Lord robust pugnacity would have taken decisive Stratford to lead it to reject the Vienna note and emphatic measures to show Russia that unless considerable modifications were made he was not to be trified with. The state of in its terms. Not only the Moslem, but a Constantinople had become very alarming. large proportion of the Christian populations Lord Aberdeen wrote to the queen on the 230 were averse to the domination of Russia, and of September, 1853, “The war frenzy and the sultan felt that he had the moral support fanaticism of the Turks have passed all bounds, of the western powers against the outrageous and threaten the safety of the sultan and of demands of the czar. In rejecting the note the Christian inhabitants of the capital. Under it was necessary to guard against interpreta- these circumstances authority has been given tions which might revive those demands, even to call up the English and French fleets for if they were for the moment kept in abeyance, their protection. The ambassadors have aland the only direct way to do this was to ready agreed, each of them to summon two alter the reference to the stipulations of the war steamers for this purpose. Unwilling as treaty of Kainardji so as to make it quite Lord Aberdeen has always been to agree to clear that there should be no direct protec- the gratuitous violation of the treaty of 1841, torate by the Emperor of Russia over the he could not hesitate a moment when British Christian subjects of the czar. This alteration life and property were at stake, as well as the was just what the emperor did not want; the personal security of the sovereign."
” amendments were rejected, and though some 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 honesty or the courage to avow the same majesty was prompt and definite enough in opinion with ourselves ought we not to point her reply in a letter from Balmoral dated this out to Russia, with a declaration that such September 25th.
demands are unsupported by existing treaties, “ Lord Aberdeen's explanation of the pre
inadmissible by Turkey if she has any regard sent state of affairs throws an entirely new for her independence, and inadmissible by light upon the position of the question in dis- the powers who have an interest and a duty pute. The queen has also just seen Count to guard this independence, and that the conNesselrode's despatch, stating his reasons for tinuance of the occupation of the principalities the objections to the modifications made in in order to extort these demands constitutes Vienna note. Hitherto Russia has generally an unwarrantable aggression upon Turkey, objected to any modification of what had and infraction of the public law of Europe? been already accepted by the emperor as an “If the views of Russia, for instance, with altimatum.
regard to ‘Modification III. of the Note' were “But since it appears, as Lord Aberdeen to prevail, the extension of the advantages and says, “that the Russian interpretation of the privileges enjoyed by Christian communities, Vienna note was directly at variance with in their capacity as foreigners, to the Greeks that of the four powers, and in a great generally, with the right granted to Russia to measure confirmed the Turkish objections, intercede for them to this effect, would simply Lord Aberdeen is perfectly right in calling it make foreigners of ten millions of the subjects ' an act scarcely honest upon the part of Eng- of the Porte, or depose the sultan as their land and France to ask the Porte to sign a sovereign, putting the Emperor of Russia in note upon the strength of their interpreta- | his place.” tion, while they knew perfectly well that this It is not difficult to trace in this plain interpretation was entirely different from that declaration the hand of Prince Albert, but put upon it by the power to whom the note at the time or soon afterwards he was accused was to be addressed.'
and suspected of being in effect adverse to “From this moment, however, it becomes England and of acting inimically to the naalso obvious that it will be fruitless further to tional honour by his foreign sympathies. The attempt to settle the dispute by the ‘rédaction' “dead-set” made on the prince by a large part (compilation) of notes to be exchanged between of the newspaper press was inexcusable, and Turkey and Russia, or the choice of particular for a time he was again the centre of abuse words and expressions in public documents from all quarters, until a short declaration in having for their object to avoid naming the parliament utterly exploded these scandalous real objects in dispute.
accusations. Of this we shall have a word to “It is evident that Russia has hitherto say in another page. The line of argument attempted to deceive us in pretending that she indicated in the queen's reply to the Earl of did not aim at the acquisition of any new Aberdeen was adopted and made the subright, but required only a satisfaction of stance of a despatch by Lord Clarendon to Sir honour and a reacknowledgment of the rights G. Hamilton Seymour at St. Petersburg, and she already possessed by treaty; and that she then followed another move on the part of the does intend, and for the first time lays bare Emperor Nicholas. that intention, to acquire new rights of inter- The French and British fleets had been sent ference which the Porte does not wish to con- to the Dardanelles for the protection of Turcede, and cannot concede, and which the key as soon as it was known that preparations European powers have repeatedly declared were being made for the Russian occupation she ought not to concede.
of the principalities. Lord Palmerston had Ought not the points of difference to be strongly advised that when the occupation did aow prominently laid before our allies, and in take place the fleets should at once be sent up
to the Bosphorus, and that they should also be home secretary, and it cannot be doubted at liberty to go into the Black Sea if necessary that he was interpreting the feeling of the or useful for the protection of Turkish terri- country; but he must seriously have emtory. This he believed would be an encour- barrassed the patient and, as most people agement to Turkey, a direct check to Russia, thought, the timid and hesitating policy of and a stimulus to Austria and Prussia to make the Earl of Aberdeen, who clung to the increased exertions to bring the Russian gov- opinion that negotiations for peace might be ernment to reason, and that it would also successful after all if we could only go on “ relieve England and France from the disagree acting as though we gave Russia credit for able and not very creditable position of waiting honesty and good faith. But the Russian without venturing to enter the back door as people as well as the Turkish people were friends while the Russians have taken posses- regarding the impending struggle from a sion of the front hall as enemies.” Palmerston fanatical point of view; and though the emwas then convinced that this country expected peror sometimes seemed ready to make another some such decisive course to be taken, and effort to set himself right with England, it that it would meet with support from the was evidently only for the purpose of gaining opposition in parliament; but the Earl of his end, and without regard to the truth of Aberdeen persisted, as Prince Albert wrote in his statements. He had declared at Olmutz a letter to Stockmar, not only in treating our that he sought no new right, privilege, or enemies as if they were honourable men, but advantage, but solely the confirmation of the in maintaining it was right to think that they legal status quo. If he had been sincere in this were so in fact.
there ought to have been no difficulty in It must have been difficult to support this concluding a peace. He was reported to be high opinion after the Emperor of Russia had depressed and out of spirits at the position declared that the occupation of the provinces in which he found himself. The four great was to be explained by the presence of the powers had declared him in the wrong; they fleets in the Dardanelles, and would only cease all felt sore that the rash and unjustifiable when they retired. “It is the robber who invasion of the principalities had brought declares that he will not leave the house until them to the verge of an European war. Prussia the policeman shall have first retired from the and Austria, moreover, had reason to dread a courtyard,” said Palmerston in a memorandum power so arbitrary in its demands and its sent round to the members of the cabinet. manner of enforcing them by seizing what “The position of England and France was territory it pleased. If Moldavia, why not already sufficiently humiliating; but this inso- any other province under the pretext of some lent pretension, published to all Europe even equally unfounded claim? Seeing the attitude before it was communicated to us, seems to adopted by England and France, the emperor me to make that position no longer tenable had tried to engage Austria and Prussia in a consistently with a due regard to the honour league, offensive and defensive, against them. and character of this country.” He still Austria would have yielded had Prussia done advised the despatch of the fleets to the so; but Prussia, under the firm guidance of Bosphorus, with an intimation that Count Baron Manteuffel, refused. Thus the emNesselrode's note, dictating to us where we peror stood alone, with the public opinion of should send our fleet, left us no alternative Europe arrayed against him, and two of its but to station that fleet at the very heart of that greatest powers virtually pledged to support empire whose integrity and independence had the sultan by their whole combined strength. been unwarrantably threatened by a Russian The prospect might well have made him invasion of its territory.
pause; but by this time the religious fervour It will be seen that Palmerston was already of the Russians was roused in favour of what playing a very prominent part as adviser in they deemed a crusade in support of the true foreign affairs in addition to his duties as faith, and this element, with others, more than PRINCE ALBERT ON “THE SITUATION."
outweighed the suggestions of policy and soon as the Russian troops entered the principrudence.
palities Turkey issued a manifesto, and on the The Emperor of Russia felt himself impelled 5th of October declared war. The four westto a difficult war in which he would have to
ern powers, desiring still to avert decided stand alone, and at the last moment he was hostilities if possible, sent to the Turkish genstill plotting and contriving how he might eral desiring him not to cross the Danube or to secure some kind of support. There are even commence an appeal to arms; but Omar Pacha evidences that he would have receded if he was already in action :-his army had crossed could have done so with substantial ad- the river and taken a firm position in spite of vantage in the direction of a protectorate the resistance of the Russians. which would make it appear that he was, as At this time Prince Albert had sent a cirhe professed to be, acting only in the interests cular, or what may be called a series of notes of national honour. But the time had passed. on the situation, to the Earl of Aberdeen, in He had gained nothing by his efforts to hood- which he represented as his opinion that wink Europe, and though he made overtures though we were most anxious for the preserfor a triple alliance with Austria and Prussia, vation of the peace of Europe, which could not the governments of these countries could fail to be endangered by open hostilities beneither of them venture to go to that extent tween Turkey and Russia, by the order to our of perfidy after they had ever so faintly pro- fleet to protect the Turkish territory, and by tested against the assumptions of the czar. the declaration of war issued by the Turks, Either they had promoted a treaty by the this the perhaps most important object of our clauses of which they had been deceived, or policy had been decidedly placed in jeopardy. they were playing into the hands of Russia. In acting as auxiliaries to the Turks we ought
The old Asiatic party in Turkey, led by to be quite sure that they had no object in view Redschid Pacha, who held by a prophecy that foreign to our duty and interests; that they the Turks were to be driven out of Constan- | did not drive at war whilst we aimed at peace; tinople and would be confined to a territory in that they did not, instead of merely resisting Asia, were anxious to secure peace by almost the attempt of Russia to obtain a protectorate any concessions; but they were no longer over the Greek population incompatible with tolerated when Russia commenced hostilities their own independence, seek to obtain themby crossing the Pruth, and the war party were selves the power of imposing a more opprescalled to power with Omar Pacha as com- sive rule of two millions of fanatic Mussulmans mander-in-chief of the Turkish armies for the over twelve millions of Christians; that they Danubian Principalities. Omar Pacha was did not try to turn the tables upon the weaker an Austrian subject, a Croatian, who had power, now that, backed by England and entered the Turkish service in 1830 when he France, they had themselves become the was twenty-nine years old, and whose reputa- stronger. tion had been sustained by his great military If our forces were to be employed for any ability and some brilliant exploits in Syria, purpose, however defensive, as an auxiliary to Albania, Koordistan, and Bosnia. He had Turkey, we must insist upon keeping not only professedly embraced the Mohammedan tenets, the conduct of the negotiation, but also the but it needed all his great talents and repeated power of peace and war, in our own hands, successes to enable him to hold his own against and that, Turkey refusing this, we could no the jealousy of the Turkish officers, who longer take part for her. looked upon him for some years with dislike It would be said that England and Europe and suspicion. The war on which he was had a strong interest, setting all Turkish conabout to enter gave him another opportunity siderations aside, that Constantinople and the of asserting his superiority as a general. As Turkish territory should not fall into the hands
of Russia, and that they should in the last exSir Theodore Martin, Life of the Prince Consort. tremity even go to war to prevent such an over