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PUBLIC EXCITEMENT-PALMERSTON, COBDEN, AND BRIGHT.
determined that to fortify that place would be to prevent the Russians from crossing the Balkan; but as a basis of operations it was too far from the Turkish armies and from Constantinople. The emperor had, however, instructed General St. Arnaud that though Gallipoli should be the strategical point and the place of depôt for arms, ambulances, and provisions, that need not prevent the troops from marching forward or lodging one or two divisions at the barracks at the west of Constantinople or at Scutari; while, if, after having advanced towards the Balkans, a movement in retreat should become necessary they would regain the coast of Gallipoli instead of that of Constantinople, because the Russians would never venture from Adrianople to Constantinople with an army of 60,000 good troops on their right flank. These instructions and the attitude afterwards assumed by the French general looked a little too much like taking the initiative of command of the entire allied army for the taste of some people here, but matters soon assumed a regular course. Lord Raglan did not arrive at Gallipoli till May, when more active measures than merely protective dispositions had to be adopted. The war may, in fact, be said to have begun much as it continued. The results were attributable more to the soldiers than to the generals. The French and English worked together harmoniously in a cheerful hearty spirit of emulation in making the seven miles of line of entrenchments on the crest of the ridge from the Gulf of Saros to the Sea of Marmora, just as they afterwards fought like brave comrades whenever there was fighting to be done, and they were allowed to support or relieve each other amidst the tempest of shot and fire. When the works were finished the forces moved to the Bosphorus, the French occupying the European side near Constantinople, and our men landing on the eastern side of the narrow Strait of Scutari.
The positions taken by the allied fleets and the allied armies can only be estimated by reference to the map of Europe, and an acquaintance with the conformation of the territory where hostilities were likely to be commenced. The northern shores of the Black
Sea and also a part of the eastern shore belonged to Russia; the southern, the Asia Minor, and the greater part of the western shore was the territory of Turkey. The Black Sea itself was therefore little other than a lake, but it was the only outlet for Russia on the south, its own sole escape being the deep and narrow channel of the Bosphorus, seventeen miles long and repeatedly contracted to not more than half a mile in breadth, but deep enough to carry large ships of war close to the shore throughout its entire course. This channel passes between Constantinople and Scutari, and, flowing into the Sea of Marmora, may be said to reappear as a westward waterway under the name of the Dardanelles, which flow for forty miles till they reach the Mediterranean. It is little to be wondered at that the sultans of Turkey had always claimed the right to exclude foreign ships of war from both these channels,-a right which was confirmed by the five great powers of Europe in the treaty of 1841, which was the latest of several treaties having the same object. By its provisions the sultan had power to close the straits against all foreign vessels of war, and at the same time was bound to exclude any such force in time of peace. In time of war, however, he might admit a foreign fleet; and this proviso enabled him, in such a contingency, to shut up the western outlet of Russia, and actually to confine the Russian fleet to the Black Sea. No other equitable arrangement would have been possible except that of leaving the straits entirely open to the navies of the world, and that would have illsuited Russia, since it would have abolished the exclusive policy which left her influence foremost in Eastern Europe, and enabled her eagerly to watch for an opportunity of absorbing not only the straits, but Constantinople itself, or at all events of holding both in subjection by her influence on the Ottoman government.
We have already tried to show that it is no part of the purpose of these pages to give prominence to deeds of war, or to show to each reader the soldier standing in front and becoming the figure
"That hides the march of men from us."
dence, her provinces seized as a material guarantee for the fulfilment of a treaty which she had not broken, had claimed a support to which, by the justice of her cause, affirmed by the combined voice of Austria, Prussia, England, and France, she was entitled. The western powers had maintained a passive attitude up to the day when the Turkish fleet, riding quietly at anchor in a Turkish port, had been destroyed in spite of the assurance that there was no wish to commence an aggressive war. After that event it was no longer the policy of the allied powers which received a check, it was their military honour. The sound of the cannonshot at Sinope reverberated painfully in the hearts of all those who in England and in France respected national dignity. All shared in the sentiment that wherever our cannon could reach our allies ought to be respected. Out of this feeling arose the order given to our squadrons to enter the Black Sea, and to prevent by force, if necessary, the recurrence of a similar event." Probably the most distasteful part of the letter was its concluding representation that the allies also could secure "material guarantees" by prohibiting the navigation of the Black Sea by the Russian fleet, since it was "important during the war to preserve a guarantee equivalent in force to the occupation of the Turkish territory, and thus facilitate the conclusion of peace by having the power of making a desirable exchange." "I return with refusal," were the words telegraphed to Paris by the French representative at St. Petersburg. From the moment that the combined fleets of France and England entered the Black Sea with the avowed purpose of shutting up the Russian fleet in Sebastopol the hope of a peaceful adjustment was at an end. Count Nesselrode wrote to Baron Brunnow that it was "an act of flagrant hostility." It can scarcely be doubted that Lord Aberdeen and the ministry, with the exception of Lord Palmerston, were desirous to use every effort to convince the czar that they desired peace. One reason for this was, perhaps, that they knew we were not ready for war, but unfortunately that may have been regarded by the czar as their chief reason,
when he had reluctantly discovered that a desire covertly to support his claims had no influence in their decisions. He applied to Prussia and to Austria to obtain a promise of strict neutrality, but there also he was disappointed. Encouraged, perhaps, by the fact that they could safely assert their independence while France and England were immediately interested in maintaining it, they both objected to be dictated to. In answer to Count Orloff, who was at Vienna on this mission, the young Emperor of Austria asked whether the count could promise that the czar would not cross the Danube, would seek no acquisition of territory, and would evacuate the principalities when the war was over. The haughty reply was that the czar could come under no such engagement, and Count Orloff was then informed that Austria must be equally free to act as her interests and dignity might direct. Baron de Budberg had little more success in Prussia. The king was anxious enough to conciliate his brother-in-law the czar, and there was a strong Russian party at the court, but there was also a firm minister -Manteuffel-who for the moment influenced the king to refuse to commit himself to any course inconsistent with the principles he had maintained at the Vienna conference. Neither Austria nor Prussia would give any pledge of active interference, but Austria supported the ultimatum which was soon afterwards addressed to the czar by France and England. "It is impossible to make these people (Prussia) understand the duties and responsibilities of a great power," wrote our ambassador at Berlin; "their chief thought in this question appears to be the chance of playing a great card hereafter in Germany when the war shall have lasted a few years.”
The Emperor of Russia had issued a ukase for a military levy of nine men in every thousand of the adult male population throughout his dominions, and this order was followed by a proclamation in which the blame for any future hostilities was thrown upon "those who were opposing the moderation and justice of demands in which Turkey, if left to herself, would have acquiesced." The manifesto having commenced with this declaration, which
THE "TIMES" AND PRINCE ALBERT ON PUBLIC FEELING.
was so worded as to appear to have been written more in sorrow than in anger, went on to say that the appearance of the English and French fleets at Constantinople had served as a further incentive to the obstinacy of the Porte, and that the two powers had now sent their fleets to the Black Sea, proclaiming their intention to protect the Turks, and to impede the free navigation of Russian vessels of war employed for the protection of the Russian coast. After a course of proceedings unheard of among civilized nations, the czar declared that he had recalled his embassies for England and France, and had broken off all political intercourse with these powers. The proclamation ended by appealing to the fanaticism of the people against those who had sided with the enemies of Christianity.
It may be easily understood that this manifesto increased the war feeling in France and England to a pitch which would have made the tenure of any government uncertain unless it was prepared to take immediate action. At the end of 1853 the Times upheld the general demand for hostilities by reminders that the suspicion that our fighting days were over was a mistake, whether it was held in Russia or in England :
"The combined governments of England and France have exhausted their diplomacy, their remonstrances, and their patience, and they now see themselves apparently reduced to the alternative of quitting for ever their high station among the nations of the earth, forfeiting their promises, and abandoning their allies, or having recourse to war,-the sport of barbarous sovereigns, but the dread of free and progressive governments. This is no alternative—it is a decision. With whatever reluctance, the western powers must accept the challenge so insultingly flung to them. It has been greatly to the credit of our people that, under circumstances of no small irritation, they have forborne from embarrassing the course of negotiation by an indiscreet exercise of their right of public meeting, and have thus left diplomacy every opportunity for averting the scourge with which we are threatened. Equally meritorious has been their forbearance from expressing a natural
anxiety for peace, and an impatience of further taxation, at a time when such sentiments could only weaken the effect of our remonstrances and impair the confidence of our allies. The people of England have shown that they are not only temperate, but magnanimous, and capable of adopting in their collective capacity, when required by circumstances, the same prudent reserve and wise forbearance which are continually required from individual statesmen. We trust that in the coming struggle, which all our efforts seem powerless to avert, and which, though begun on the banks of the Danube, may spread from the Baltic to the Caspian, from the Caspian to the Ganges, and from the Ganges to the shores of the North Pacific, they may show a like firmness and constancy. We have not sought war, we have done all in our power to avoid it; but, if it must come, we trust its evils and sacrifices will be cheerfully borne, as we are sure its perils will be manfully confronted. We have enjoyed peace long enough to value it above all things except our honour, but not long enough to enervate our energies, or chill the courage which has carried us through so many unequal conflicts. The dawn of 1854 lowers dark with the presage of impending battle."
Prince Albert afterwards in a letter to King Leopold said: "Another mistake which people abroad make, is to ascribe to England a policy based upon material interests and cold calculation. Her policy is one of pure feeling, and therefore often illogical. The government is a popular government, and the masses upon whom it rests only feel and do not think. In the present instance their feeling is something of this sort. The Emperor of Russia is a tyrant, the enemy of all liberty on the Continent, the oppressor of Poland. He wanted to coerce the poor Turk. The Turk is a fine fellow; he has braved the rascal, let us rush to his assistance. The emperor is no gentleman, as he has spoken a lie to our queen. Down with the Emperor of Russia! Napoleon for ever! He is the nephew of his uncle, whom we defeated at Waterloo. We were afraid of his invading us? Quite the contrary. He has forgotten all that is past,
and is ready to fight with us in the glorious | the two countries, in the event of a declaration
cause against the oppressor of liberty. He may have played the French some tricks, but they are an unruly set, and don't deserve any better. D all the German princes who won't go with us against the Russian, because they think they want him to keep down their own people. The worst of them is the King of Prussia, who ought to know better."
There is a good deal of truth, and the evidence of keen perception in this, but it strikes one as peculiarly quaint, and there is a foreign air about it, though the prince was as English in his sympathies as it was afterwards shown he was faithful to the high position that he held in the country.
The war fever was reaching its height when, on the 27th of February, 1854, Lord Clarendon wrote to Count Nesselrode the ultimatum of England to Russia in the following terms: "The British government having exhausted all the efforts of negotiation, is compelled to declare to the cabinet of St. Petersburg that, if Russia should decline to restrict within purely diplomatic limits the discussion in which she has for some time past been engaged with the Sublime Porte, and does not, by return of the messenger who is the bearer of my present letter, announce her intention of causing the Russian troops under the orders of Prince Gortschak off to commence their march with a view to recross the Pruth, so that the provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia shall be completely evacuated on the 30th of April next, the British government must consider the refusal or the silence of the cabinet of St. Petersburg as equivalent to a declaration of war, and will take its measures accordingly. The messenger who is the bearer of this letter to your excellency is directed not to wait more than six days at St. Petersburg for your reply." On the fifth day from the messenger's arrival Count Nesselrode verbally informed the English consul that "his majesty does not think it becoming in him to give any reply to Lord Clarendon's letter." In the course of the same interview, the British agent asked the count what the intentions of his government were with reference to the consular arrangements between
of war. Count Nesselrode replied: “That will entirely depend upon the course her Britannic majesty's government may adopt. We shall not declare war." The messenger (Captain Blackwood) returned to England on
the 25th March.
On the 28th the following declaration of the causes of war was published in the London Gazette:"It is with deep regret that her majesty announces the failure of her anxious and protracted endeavours to preserve for her people and for Europe the blessings of peace. The unprovoked aggression of the Emperor of Russia against the Sublime Porte has been persisted in with such disregard of consequences, that, after the rejection by the Emperor of Russia of terms which the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of the French, and the King of Prussia, as well as her majesty, considered just and equitable, her majesty is compelled by a sense of what is due to the honour of her crown, to the interests of her people, and to the independence of the states of Europe, to come forward in defence of an ally whose territory is invaded, and whose dignity and independence are assailed. . . . The Emperor of Russia had some cause of complaint against the sultan with reference to the settlement which his highness had sanctioned, of the conflicting claims of the Greek and Latin churches to a portion of the Holy Places of Jerusalem and its neighbourhood. To the complaint of the Emperor of Russia on this head justice was done; and her majesty's ambassador at Constantinople had the satisfaction of promoting an arrangement to which no exception was taken by the Russian government. But while the Russian government repeatedly assured the queen's government that the mission of Prince Menschikoff to Constantinople was exclusively directed to the settlement of the question of the Holy Place at Jerusalem, Prince Menschikoff himself pressed upon the Porte other demands of a far more serious and important character, the nature of which he in the first instance endeavoured as far as possible to conceal from her majesty's ambassador. And those demands thus studiously concealed affected not the pri
vileges of the Greek Church at Jerusalem, but the position of many millions of Turkish subjects in their relations to their sovereign the sultan. These demands were rejected by the spontaneous decision of the Sublime Porte. Two assurances had been given to her majesty: one, that the mission of Prince Menschikoff only regarded the Holy Places; the other, that his mission would be of a conciliatory character. In both respects her just expectations were disappointed. . . . Her majesty, in conjunction with the sovereigns of Austria, France, and Prussia, has made various attempts to meet any just demands of the Emperor of Russia without affecting the dignity and independence of the sultan; and had it been the sole object of Russia to obtain the security for the enjoyment by the Christian subjects of the Porte of their privileges and immunities she would have found it in the offers that have been made by the sultan, but as that security was not offered in the shape of a special and separate stipulation with Russia it was rejected. Twice has this offer been made by the sultan, and recommended by the four powers; once by a note originally prepared at Vienna and subsequently modified by the Porte; once by the proposal of bases of negotiation agreed upon at Constantinople on the 31st of December and approved at Vienna on the 13th of January, as offering to the two parties the means of arriving at an understanding in a becoming and honourable manner. It is thus manifest that a right for Russia to interfere in the ordinary relations of Turkish subjects to their sovereign, and not the happiness of Christian communities in Turkey, was the object sought for by the Russian government; to such a demand the sultan would not submit, and his highness, in selfdefence, declared war upon Russia; but her majesty, nevertheless, in conjunction with her allies, has not ceased her endeavours to restore peace between the contending parties. The time has, however, now arrived when the advice and remonstrances of the four powers have proved wholly ineffectual, and the military preparations of Russia becoming daily more extended, it is but too obvious that the
of policy which, if unchecked, must lead to the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. In this conjuncture her majesty feels called upon, by regard for an ally, the integrity and independence of whose empire have been recognized as essential to the peace of Europe, by the sympathies of her people with right against wrong, by a desire to avert from her dominions most injurious consequences, and to save Europe from the preponderance of a power which has violated the faith of treaties and defies the opinion of the civilized world, to take up arms in conjunction with the Emperor of the French for the defence of the sultan. Her majesty is persuaded that in so acting she will have the cordial support of her people, and that the pretext of zeal for the Christian religion will be used in vain to cover an aggression undertaken in disregard of its holy precepts, and of its true and beneficent spirit. Her majesty humbly trusts that her efforts may be successful, and that by the blessing of Providence peace may be re-established on safe and solid foundations."
We now find that the ears and eyes of our countrymen have become familiar with names of places afar off that had hitherto been scarcely noticed by schoolboys in their books of geography. Some of these knew what the Bosphorus was, and remembered something about the Chersonese, but to the great majority of Englishmen the very word Crimea was strange, and certainly Kertch, and Sebastopol, and Scutari had a very foreign sound with them. Sidney Herbert, as has been said in these pages, had beautiful estates in the very peninsula-nearly an island-which the British and French were now to invade; but it certainly was not generally known that the southern part of this country was not only rich in natural beauty, but contained some of the finest parks and gardens in the world. Here the Tartar and the Russian, the Mohammedan mosque and the convent of the Greek Church are mingled together among the rocky hills and the forests, while here and there a mouldering fortress suggests to the instructed eye some incident in the long and varied hisEmperor of Russia has entered upon a course tory of the country. Here grow the olive,