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were continued in order to obtain military | glory, we should tempt the justice of Him in whose hands was the fate of armies to launch upon us his wrath.
Mr. Gladstone was accused of inconsistency, and his attitude in relation to the war was denounced in severe terms, but he was not alone in the opinions which he had so unhesitatingly expressed. While the Derbyites had combined with Layard and his friends and with Lord Ellenborough to overturn the ministry without success, and the motion brought forward by Lord Grey had been concerted with Lord Aberdeen, it was suspected that the "peace party" would obtain the adherence not only of Mr. Gladstone but of the Peelites with Gladstone and Graham at their head.1 The debate on Mr. Milner Gibson's motion, resumed after the recess, was to clear up the state of parties. The house and the country were to know whether Lord John Russell had actually approved the proposals of Austria. Lord Palmerston could not explain the situation fully while communications were still proceeding, but Mr. Disraeli, Sir Bulwer Lytton, and others, were determined, if possible, to draw the government into a declaration.
Russell himself replied to Gladstone with considerable force, and in quite a warlike spirit. The naval power of Russia in the Black Sea must be restricted, and to restrict it was no more of an indignity than it was when Mr. Gladstone had joined his colleagues in the measure. The refusal of Russia to submit to it was a sure indication that she continued to cherish designs against Constantinople, and that the peace of Europe would again be disturbed at no distant date if the means of aggression were not taken away
1 Four years afterwards Sir James Graham, speaking to Mr. Bright about the attack he (Mr. Bright) had made upon him and the government after the Napier dinner at the Reform Club, said, "You were entirely right about that war and we were entirely wrong, and we should never have gone into it."
Sir George Cornewall Lewis, after he had succeeded Mr. Gladstone in the Palmerston government, wrote, "This war has been distasteful to me from the beginning, and especially so from the time when it ceased to be defensive and the Russian territory was invaded. My dislike of it, and my conviction of its repugnance to the interests of England and Europe, was only increased with its progress."
from her by the conditions of peace. Security for Turkey for the future as well as for the present was the object of the war. So determined was the speech of the ex-plenipotentiary that it was taken as an assurance that the government would adopt a course rendering Mr. Disraeli's motion unnecessary, and a great many votes against it (including Mr. Roebuck's) were influenced by this vigorous denunciation of Russia.
These arguments were of course entirely contradicted by Mr. Bright and Mr. Cobden. The latter had moved the adjournment of the debate till after the holidays, and the former rose to ask the government what really were the objects of the war, whether these objects had been secured and accomplished, and whether there could be anything in prospect which would justify the government and the house in proceeding further with the war. He showed from their own declarations that there was no kind of sympathy that could lead them into war for the oppressed nationalities of Europe, for Hungary or Poland, and probably they would also repudiate interference on behalf of Italy. It was for Turkey and the general system of Europe that we were struggling, and in fact the whole matter always resolved itself into some general mystification. Without charging Lord John Russell with dishonesty he asked whether the terms which were offered to Russia at the conference were offered in earnest, or whether the statement made by the Times was correct, that the object of the conference was not to bring about a peace but to shame Austria into becoming a faithful and warlike ally.2
"When the Aberdeen government, of which the noble lords were members," said Mr. Bright, "originally agreed upon these terms, their object was that the Black Sea should be
2 It may be noticed with no other emphasis than belongs to a peculiar coincidence, that Lord Palmerston, writing (May 28th) to the Emperor of the French, who was more inclined for hastening a peace and attached more value to the active co-operation of Austria than we did, had said: "Victorieux en Crimée, nous commanderons l'amitié, peut-être même l'épée de l'Autriche; manquant de succès en Crimée, nous n'avons pas même sa plume." ("Victorious in the Crimea, we shall command the friendship, perhaps even the sword of Austria; failing there, we have not even her pen.")
BRIGHT'S WARNINGS-COBDEN AND MOLESWORTH.
these things to be accounted nothing? We have had for twelve years past a gradual reduction of taxation, and there has been an immense improvement in the physical, intellectual, and moral condition of the people of this country; while for the last two years we have commenced a career of reimposing taxes, have had to apply for a loan, and no doubt, if this war goes on, extensive loans are still in prospect.
"Honourable members may think this is nothing. They say it is a 'low' view of the But these things are the foundation of your national greatness, and of your national duration; and you may be following visionary phantoms in all parts of the world, while your own country is becoming rotten within, and calamities may be in store for the monarchy and the nation of which now it appears you take no heed. Every man connected with trade knows how much trade has suffered, how much profits in every branch of tradeexcept in contracts arising out of the warhave diminished, how industry is becoming more precarious, and the reward for industry less, how the price of food is raised, and how much there is of a growing pressure of all classes, especially upon the poorest of the people—a pressure which by-and-by-not just now, when the popular frenzy is lashed into fury morning after morning by the newspapers
thrown open, or at least that the closing of the straits should be relaxed; and I presume that it was not until after it was known that while Russia had no objection to the opening of the straits, Turkey was very much opposed to it, that it was found necessary to change the terms and bring them forward in another form. But surely, if this be so, the house and the government should be chary indeed of carrying on a prolonged war with Russia, Russia having been willing to accept a proposition made originally by us, and which I believe to be the best for Turkey and for the interests of Europe. If this be so, was the government justified in breaking off these negotiations, because that really is the issue which this house is called upon to try? Can they obtain better terms? If the terms are sufficent for Turkey, they ought not to ask for better ones. I do not say they may not get better terms. I agree with my honourable friend the member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) that England and France, if they choose to sacrifice 500,000 men and to throw away £200,000,000 or £300,000,000 of treasure, may dismember the Russian Empire. But I doubt whether this would give better terms to Turkey. I am sure it would not give better terms for England and France. Now what has it cost to obtain all this? . . Is war the only thing a nation enters upon in which the cost is never to be reckoned? Is it nothing that in--but I say by-and-by,this discontent will grow twelve months you have sacrificed 20,000 or 30,000 men, who a year ago were your own fellow-citizens, living in your midst, and interested, as you are, in all the social and political occurrences of the day? Is it nothing that in addition to these lives a sum of-I am almost afraid to say how much, but £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 will not be beyond the mark --has already been expended? And let the house bear in mind this solemn fact-that the four nations engaged in this war have already lost so many men, that if you were to go from Chelsea to Blackwall, and from Highgate and Hampstead to Norwood, and take every man of a fighting age and put him to death, if you did this you would not sacrifice a larger number of lives than have already been sacrificed in these twelve months of war.
rapidly, and you (here he pointed to the ministerial bench), who now fancy you are fulfilling the behests of the national will, will find yourselves pointed to as the men who ought to have taught the nation better."
It will be seen that Mr. Bright had not been daunted either by the abuse or by the more cultured criticism with which he had been assailed. He would not consent to regard the "blood-red blossom of war," as it was then in bloom, as anything but a Dead Sea growth. He naturally regarded the declarations of Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Milner Gibson, and Sir James Graham as an accession to the side of the "peace party." The conduct of these gentlemen on that question had, he said, been the cause of great debate and of language which the state of the case had not
wholly justified. He presumed it would be admitted that they knew the object of the war as well as any other men in the house, and that entertaining as they did a very serious idea of the results of a prolonged war, they were at liberty to come to the conclusion that certain terms, to which they themselves were parties, were sufficient. If this was the conviction at which they had arrived, surely no member of the house would say that, because they had been members of a cabinet some time before, which went into the war, therefore they should be forbidden to endeavour to avert the incalculable calamities which threatened their country, but should be expected to maintain a show of consistency for which they must sacrifice everything that an honest man would hold dear. Had these men, he asked, gained anything in popularity with the country, or even with the members of that house, by the course they had taken? Hopeless as the prospects appeared to be of a change in the view of the government and the people of England, the advocates of a pacific policy were doubtless encouraged by the attitude of the so-called "Peelites," and they spoke with vigour and effect. It was in this debate that Mr. Cobden in reply to Sir W. Molesworth made a humorous allusion which for some years remained famous. Sir William opposed the conclusion, that in that stage of the war, the country was bound to accept the same terms which would have satisfied it before hostilities were proclaimed. In order to maintain peace and avert the calamities of war as long as possible, the allied governments in the first instance lowered their demands upon Russia, as long as they could do so with honour. But, having been once compelled to draw the sword, and having expended in this war a vast amount of treasure and sacrificed so many valuable lives, the chief reason for abating their demands as much as possible no longer existed, and they were now entitled to stand upon their rights, and to demand that these should be fully secured to them; they were even entitled, if they thought proper, to increase their demands in proportion to the continuance of the war and the success of their arms. He denounced
the temptations which had been presented for the conclusion of a recreant peace, contending that the safety, as well as the glory, of the British Empire would be perilled by any signs of cowardice or surrender of the high principles which constituted the real bond of union among the scattered elements of our national grandeur.
In the adjourned debate, Mr. Cobden referred to the slanderous charges against him and his friends, that they were Russian emissaries, and reminded the house that similar charges were thrown out against Burke and Fox. For himself, he had no object in view but the just interests of England. He characterized the speech of the right honourable baronet the member for Southwark as the most inconsistent with his former opinions that had ever been delivered in that house. the right honourable gentleman remember a jeu d'esprit of the poet Moore, when dealing in 1833 with the Whig occupants of those benches, shortly after they had emerged from a long penance in the dreary wilderness of opposition, and when the Whigs showed themselves to be Tories when in office? Does he remember the jeu d'esprit? Why, I think he and I have laughed over it when we have been talking over the sudden conversions of right honourable gentlemen. The poet illustrated the matter by a story of an Irishman who went over to the West Indies, and before landing, heard some of the blacks speaking tolerably bad English, whereupon, mistaking them for his own countrymen, he exclaimed, 'What! black and curly already?' Now, we have all seen metamorphoses upon these benches-how colours have changed and features became deformed when men came under the influence of the treasury atmosphere; but I must say that never to my knowledge have I seen a change in which there has been so deep a black and so stiff a curl." This was received by the house with signs of great amusement, and the speech was regarded as having been peculiarly damaging to the gov
The general transposition which had taken place among the men who had held a part in the first prosecution of the war made the
GRAHAM AND RUSSELL-DEBATE ON THE NEGOTIATIONS.
debate a very remarkable one. It was not forgotten that Mr. Disraeli had offered to serve in a Derby government, which, had it been formed, would have included Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Sidney Herbert, and that the men who were now strongly advocating the adoption of a basis of negotiation, which might, by conceding somewhat to the demand of Russia, put an end to the war, had retired from the existing ministry rather than submit to an inquiry as to the manner in which that war had been conducted. Nor was it forgotten that they had also formed part of the former government which had been accused of a lack of energy in prosecuting hostilities because of a dislike to oppose Russia. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton had referred to the inconsistency of Mr. Gladstone, and had asked, "When Mr. Gladstone was dwelling, in a Christian spirit that moved them all, on the gallant blood that had been shed by England, by her allies, and by her foemen in that quarrel, did it never occur to him, that all the while he was speaking, this one question was forcing itself upon the minds of his English audience, 'And shall all this blood have been shed in vain?""
There were numerous attacks on the men who refused to concur in the abandonment of the negotiations on that disputed "third point" which was to limit the power of Russia in the Black Sea.
Sir J. Graham pleaded for an indulgent hearing, on the ground that he formed one of a small minority. It was painful to him to be taunted as the friend of Russia; his only consolation was that wiser and better men than he, in similar circumstances, had been subjected to the same taunts. He still believed that the war at its commencement was just and necessary; the only question was, whether Russia had not since afforded the means of obtaining an honourable peace. It had been said, in the house, that his conduct in office, with his opinions as now expressed, was a sufficient explanation of our disasters. All he could say in reply was, that he exerted himself to the utmost to equip the fleet; and he believed his successor had not found those means inadequate. He wished to know from
the government what was the nature of the Austrian proposition which the allied powers had rejected; and next, whether the four points were still to be considered the basis of future negotiations, or whether they were now to be altogether discarded. This was the more important, as he had observed the remarkable disposition in the house to raise their terms of negotiation, till he had become altogether at a loss to understand what were the objects of the war. It was a popular thing to commence a war, but it was difficult to maintain it in its popularity. He did not mean to say they ought never to vary the terms of peace according to the fortunes of the war; but he did say that they ought not to extend their object. The question then was, Had not that object been gained? He proceeded, at great length, to state the original demands of Russia, and to contrast them with the terms which she was willing to accept at Vienna, contending that Russia had abated all her original demands, and had been sufficiently humbled both in arms and diplomacy.
But the Vienna conferences were already at an end. Lord John Russell replied that they would never have been entered into but for the obligations imposed upon us by our treaty with Austria. He defended the limitations imposed upon the Danubian principalities, by the arrangement on the first proposition, as the best which could have been adopted under the very delicate circumstances of the case. The principalities could not be independent. If they were to have selfgovernment under the protection of the Porte, it was necessary to stipulate that they should not intrigue against the tranquillity of their neighbours. With regard to the third proposition, he thought the opposite party took advantage of the moderation of the Western powers, and argued, because we had conceded so much, therefore we ought to have conceded more and still more, till the negotiations became perfectly nugatory. It was impossible to see, in the Russian proposition, any difference between Russian preponderance before and after its acceptance. He believed that Russia refused the Western terms, not on the question of honour, but because she had not
yet sustained reverses enough to induce her to abandon her aggressive intentions. The question then came to be, For what object was the war to be continued? His answer must be general, that it still continued to be the maintenance of the independence of Turkey, and consequently the security of Europe. He believed that was the general feeling of this country; and the only blame he apprehended was that the government had not insisted on stronger terms. But the negotiations were now over; and the events of war must determine what new terms they must insist on to attain the one object. In conclusion, he commented on the anomalous position of this debate, discussing the propriety of continuing negotiations which were now finally closed; and suggested that it would be much more regular now to wait till the closing papers of the Vienna conferences were produced, when the minister would propose an address to her majesty, which would then properly and regularly open up the whole question.
The Nemesis for that speech was approaching. It was inevitable in such a division of parties that the minister who could make such a statement, and yet was believed to have gone very near pledging himself to the clause which would have given to Russia what he now denied, should be subjected to a sharp and searching attack, but that was deferred for the present.
As to Mr. Gladstone, he was no more likely than Mr. Bright or Mr. Cobden to recede from a position which he had taken under a sense of duty, and the probable loss of popularity or the sarcasms of those who charged him with inconsistency failed to elicit any token of uncertainty in his determination. Prince Albert, like most of those who advocated the vigorous prosecution of the war as the best means of obtaining permanent and satisfactory terms of peace, was much concerned at the political situation. He wrote to the Earl of Aberdeen:-"The line which your former friends and colleagues, with the exception of the Duke of Newcastle, have taken about the war question has caused the queen and myself great anxiety, both on account of the position of public affairs and on their own account.
"As to the first, any such declaration as Mr. Gladstone has made upon Mr. Disraeli's motion, must not only weaken us abroad in public estimation, and give a wrong opinion as to the determination of the nation to support the queen in the war in which she has been involved, but render all chance of obtaining an honourable peace without great fresh sacrifices of blood and treasure impossible, by giving new hopes and spirit to the enemy.
"As to the second, a proceeding which must appear to many as unpatriotic in any Englishman, but difficult to explain even by the most consummate oratory on the part of statesmen who have, up to a very recent period, shared the responsibility of all the measures of the war, and that have led to the war, must seriously damage them in public estimation. The more so, as having been publicly suspected and falsely accused by their opponents of having, by their secret hostility to the war, led to all the omissions, mistakes, and disasters, which have attended the last campaign, they now seem to exert themselves to prove the truth of these accusations, and (as Americans would say) to 'realize the whole capital' of the unpopularity attaching to the authors of our misfortunes, whom the public has for so long a time been vainly endeavouring to dis
"However much on private and personal grounds I grieve for this, I must do so still more on the queen's behalf, who cannot afford in these times of trial and difficulty to see the best men in the country damaging themselves in its opinion, to an extent that seriously impairs their usefulness for the service of the state."
This was a pretty accurate representation of the general view of the course taken by the Peelites; but Mr. Gladstone held to his resolve, and in the course of the ensuing debates, argued with his usual power against the further strenuous prosecution of the war for the purpose of exacting unnecessarily stringent conditions. He did not occupy much time in defending his personal reputation, and he has, much more recently, been able dispassionately to explain the situation of affairs and the circumstances that con