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THE QUEEN'S SPIRITED ANSWER.
were directly contrary to its meaning. Your majesty's envoy has taken part in this conference and its decision, and when your majesty says, 'Where the vocation of diplomacy ends, there that of the sovereign may with propriety begin,' I cannot concur in any such line of demarcation, for what my ambassador does he does in my name, and consequently I feel myself not only bound in honour, but also constrained by an imperative obligation to accept the consequences, whatever they may be, of the line which he has been directed to adopt.
"The consequences of a war, frightful and incalculable as they are, are as distressing to me to contemplate as they are to your majesty. I am also aware that the Emperor of Russia does not wish for war. But he makes demands upon the Porte which the united European powers, yourself included, have solemnly declared to be incompatible with the independence of the Porte and the equilibrium of Europe. In view of this declaration, and of the presence of the Russian army of invasion in the principalities, the powers must be prepared to support their words by acts. If the Turk now retires into the background, and the impending war appears to you to be a 'war for an idea,' the reason is simply this, that the very motives which urge on the emperor, in spite of the protest of all Europe, and at the risk of a war that may devastate the world, to persist in his demands, disclose a determination to realize a fixed idea, and that the grand ulterior consequences of the war must be regarded as far more important than its original ostensible cause, which in the beginning appeared to be neither more nor less than the key of the back-door of a mosque.
"Your majesty calls upon me 'to probe the question to the bottom in the spirit and love of peace, and to build a bridge for the imperial honour.'
All the devices
and ingenuity of diplomacy and also of goodwill have been squandered during the last nine months in vain attempts to build up such a bridge! Projets de notes, conventions, protocols, &c. &c., by the dozen have emanated
from the chanceries of the different powers,
and the ink that has gone to the penning of them might well be called a second Black Sea. But every one of them has been wrecked upon the self-will of your imperial brother-inlaw.
"When your majesty tells me that you are now determined to assume an attitude of complete neutrality,' and that in this mind you appeal to your people, who exclaim with sound practical sense, 'It is to the Turk that violence has been done; the Turk has plenty of good friends, and the emperor has done us no harm,'-I do not understand you. Had such language fallen from the King of Hanover or of Saxony I could have understood it. But up to the present hour I have regarded Prussia as one of the five Great Powers, which since the peace of 1815 have been the guarantors of treaties, the guardians of civilization, the champions of right, and ultimate arbitrators of the nations; and I have for my part felt the holy duty to which they were thus divinely called, being at the same time perfectly alive to the obligations, serious as these are and fraught with danger, which it imposes. Renounce these obligations, my dear brother, and in doing so you renounce for Prussia the status she has hitherto held. And if the example thus set should find imitators, European civilization is abandoned as a plaything for the winds; right will no longer find a champion, nor the oppressed an umpire to appeal to.
"Let not your majesty think that my object in what I have said is to persuade you to change your determination. . . So little have I it in my purpose to seek to persuade you, that nothing has pained me more than the suspicion expressed through General von der Gröben in your name, that it was the wish of England to lead you into temptation by holding out the prospect of certain advantages. The groundlessness of such an assumption is apparent from the very terms of the treaty which was offered to you, the most important clause of which was that by which the contracting parties pledged themselves under no circumstances to seek to obtain from the war any advantage to themselves. Your majesty could not possibly have given any
with what genuine graphic force he wrote even in ordinary correspondence. It occurs in a letter to Mr. Ashworth:-"I have been for some weeks in one of the most secluded corners of England. Although my letter is dated from the quiet little close borough of Midhurst, the house in which I am living is about one and a half mile distant, in the neighbouring rural parish of Heyshott. The
roof which now shelters me is the one under which I was born, and the room where I now sleep is the one in which I first drew breath. It is an old farm-house, which had for many years been turned into labourers' cottages. With the aid of the whitewasher and carpenter we have made a comfortable, weatherproof retreat for summer; and we are surrounded with pleasant woods and within a couple of miles of the summit of the South Down Hills, where we have the finest air and some of the prettiest views in England. At some future day I shall be delighted to initiate you into rural life. A Sussex hill-side village will be an interesting field for an exploring excursion for you. We have a population under three hundred in our parish. The acreage is about 2000, of which one proprietor, Colonel Wyndham, owns 1200 acres. He is a non-resident, as indeed are all the other proprietors. The clergyman is also non-resident. He lives at the village of Sledham, about three miles distant, where he has another living and a parsonage-house. He comes over to our parish to perform service once on Sundays alternately in the morning and afternoon. The church is in a ruinous state, the tower having fallen down many years ago. The parson draws about £300 a year in tithes, besides the produce of a few acres of glebeland. He is a decent man with a large family, spoken well of by everybody, and himself admits the evils of clerical absenteeism. We have no school and no schoolmaster, unless I give that title to a couple of cottages where illiterate old women collect a score or two of infants while their parents are in the fields. Thus 'our village' is without resident proprietors, or clergyman, or schoolmaster. Add to these disadvantages that the farmers are generally deficient of capital and do not
employ so many labourers as they might. The rates have been up to this time about six shillings in the pound. We are not under the new poor-law but in a Gilbert's Union, and almost all our expense is for outdoor relief. Here is a picture which will lead you to expect, when you visit us, a very ignorant and very poor population. There is no postoffice in the village. Every morning an old man aged about seventy goes into Midhurst for the letters. He charges a penny for every despatch he carries, including such miscellaneous articles as horse-collars, legs of mutton, empty sacks, and wheel-barrows. His letterbag for the whole village contains on an average from two to three letters daily, including newspapers. The only newspapers which enter the parish are two copies of Bell's Weekly Messenger, a sound old Tory Protectionist much patronized by drowsy farmers. The wages paid by the farmers are very low, not exceeding eight shillings a week. I am employing an old man nearly seventy, and his son about twenty-two, and his nephew about nineteen, at digging and removing some fences. I pay the two former nine shillings a week and the last eight shillings, and I am giving a shilling a week more than anybody else is paying. What surprises me is to observe how well the poor fellows work and how long they last. The South Down air, in the absence of South Down mutton, has something to do with the healthiness of these people, I dare say. The labourers have generally a garden and an allotment of a quarter of an acre; for the latter they pay 38. 9d. a year rent. We are in the midst of woods and on the border of common land, so that fuel is cheap. All the poor have a right to cut turf on the common for their firing, which costs 28. 3d. per thousand. The labourers who live in my cottages have pigs in their sties, but I believe it is not so universally. I have satisfied myself that however badly off the labourers may be at present, their condition was worse in the time of high-priced corn. In 1847, when bread was double its present price, the wages of the farm labourers were not raised more than two to three shillings a week. At that time a man with a family spent all that he
GLADSTONE'S NEW BUDGET.
at the time what they were, could he dissociate himself from the government on account of it. Of course Mr. Kinglake, in his narrative of the exciting events connected with the invasion of the Crimea, has something to say about Mr. Gladstone's position, and the words are neither altogether true, nor, as they have been often quoted, are they any longer new. “He had once,” says the pungent historian of the war, "imagined it to be his duty to quit a government and to burst through strong ties of friendship and gratitude by reason of a thin shade of difference on the subject of white or brown sugar. It was believed that if he were to commit even a little sin or to imagine an evil thought he would instantly arraign himself before the dread tribunal which awaited him within his own bosom, and that his intellect being subtle and microscopic, and delighting in casuistry and exaggeration, he would be very likely to give his soul a very harsh trial, and treat himself as a great criminal for faults too minute to be visible to the naked eyes of laymen. His friends lived in dread of his virtues as tending to make him whimsical and unstable, and the practical politicians perceiving that he was not to be depended upon for party purposes, and was bent upon none but lofty objects, used to look upon him as dangerous, used to call him behind his back a good man,-a good man in the worst sense of the term."
After all, this criticism, when analysed, amounts to little other than an admission that Mr. Gladstone was constantly influenced by conscientious motives, against which neither ambition, nor the desire for place, nor the supposed claims of party, had any abiding influence. There are readers who will see in the smart estimate of the satirist something which may remind them of the utterances of the prophet, who, going out to curse, used what was really the language of blessing. At all events when the chancellor of the exchequer rose to propose the new budget there was no paltering with the difficulties which were presented to him, though he had to abandon the hopes that he had entertained of a policy of retrenchment and the further
relief of the country from taxation. utterly repudiated the "convenient, cowardly, and perhaps popular" course, as it was afterwards called, of making up for the coming extra expenditure by extensive borrowing.
It was impossible to say that the estimate for the war would suffice for the wants of the whole year. That was the reason for proposing to vote for extraordinary military expenditure a sum of £1,250,000. There was a deficiency of nearly three millions to provide for, and even this did not exhaust the whole cost of the war. But while he hoped that this sum might be raised without returning to the higher duties, which had recently been diminished on various articles, he urged strongly that it should not be raised by resorting to a loan, and so throwing the burden on posterity. Such a course was not required by the necessities of the country, and was therefore not worthy of its adoption. No country had played so much as England at this dangerous game of mortgaging the industry of future generations. It was right that those who make war should be prepared to make the sacrifices needed to carry it on; the necessity for so doing was a most useful check on mere lust of conquest, and would lead men to make war with the wish of realizing the earliest prospects of an honourable peace.
We had entered upon a great struggle, but we had entered upon it under favourable circumstances. "We have proposed to you to make great efforts, and you have nobly and cheerfully backed our proposals. You have already by your votes added nearly 40,000 men to the establishments of the country; and taking into account changes that have actually been carried into effect with regard to the return of soldiers from the colonies, and the arrangements which, in the present state of Ireland, might be made-but which are not made— with respect to the constabulary force, in order to render the military force disposable to the utmost possible extent, it is not too much to say that we have virtually an addition to the disposable forces of the country, by land and by sea, at the present moment, as compared with our position twelve months ago, to the extent of nearly 50,000 men. This looks like
It is not to be supposed that Cobden had any strong expectations that his proposals to open negotiations with other countries for the reduction of armaments would be accepted. He firmly believed that the principles on which he had always opposed war were true, and he doubtless hoped that they would one day receive full recognition. He had persisted in advocating free-trade, and the corn-laws had been repealed, while there was a continued tendency to abolish or to diminish taxes on articles of necessary consumption. The same result might ultimately be achieved with regard to the mitigation of one of the chief causes of the burdens on the people of England and of other countries, and it was his duty not to let the subject rest whenever he had an opportunity of reviving it. When everybody was talking about the "Palace of Peace," and the results that might be expected from the Great International Exhibition, he estimated such probabilities at a lower value than many of those who two years afterwards were among the foremost advocates of war. What he did was to propose that the foreign minister should take advantage of the favourable opportunity to open negotiations with France for reducing the armed forces, and so setting an example to Europe. It was admitted that it would be a glorious consummation of the great peace congress, and one devoutly to be wished. Lord Palmerston and the majority of the government and the houses of parliament were ready to endorse the sentiment warmly enough, but to carry it into practice was quite another matter. The maxim that the best security for peace was to be always prepared for war had been too long accepted to be easily relinquished, although as a matter of fact England was not prepared for the war with Russia, and had to adopt a foreign enlistment bill in order to meet the sudden call for men to go to the Crimea. Cobden's complete doctrine condemned the recent subscription to foreign loans for military purposes. He had in 1848 declared that if Lord Palmerston❘ had firmly protested against the Russian in-tification which the old pagans had, after they vasion of Hungary the czar would never had paid for a seat in the amphitheatre, of have given his aid to Austria, and he de- witnessing the bloody combats of gladiators in nounced with all his energy the Austrian and the circus.
Russian loans, amounting respectively to seven and five and a half millions of exported capital to be lost in foreign wars. Such a course he contended was contrary not only to the principles of political economy but to the claims of morality. What paradox could be more flagrant than for a citizen to lend money to be the means of military preparations on the part of a foreign power when he knew, or ought to have known, that these very preparations for which he was providing would in their turn impose upon himself and the other taxpayers of his own country the burden of counter-preparations to meet them? What man with the most rudimentary sense of public duty could pretend that was no affair of his to what use his money was put, so long as his interest was high and his security adequate? Austria with Russia had been engaged in a cruel and remorseless war, and then came stretching forth her blood-stained hand to honest Dutchmen and Englishmen, asking them to furnish the price of that hateful devastation. Not only was such a system a waste of national wealth, an anticipation of income, a destruction of capital, the imposition of a heavy and profitless burden on future generations; but it was a direct connivance at acts and a policy which the very men who were thus asked to lend their money to support it, professed to dislike and condemn, and had good reason for disliking and condemning. The system of foreign loans for warlike purposes by which England, Holland, Germany, and France were invited to pay for the arms, clothing, and food of the belligerents was a system calculated to perpetuate the horrors of war. Those who lent money for such purposes were destitute of any of those excuses by which men justify a resort to the sword. They could not plead patriotism, self-defence, or even anger, or the lust of military glory. They sat down coolly to calculate the chances to themselves of profit or loss in a game in which the lives of human beings were at stake. They had not even the savage and brutal gra
"PATRICIAN BULLYING FROM THE TREASURY BENCH."
in 1855, "to the vote which changed Lord Derby's government. I regret the result of that motion, for it has cost the country a hundred millions of treasure, and between thirty and forty thousand good lives." This was a strong declaration, but it has since been endorsed by a large number of thoughtful men who never acknowledged that the results of the Crimean campaign were other than extravagantly purchased. Cobden, however, was not of course opposed to a protective force, or as he said in a letter to Colonel Fitzmayer, "to the maintenance of a disciplined force to serve as a nucleus in case of war, around which the people might rally to defend their country. But there is," he continued, "hardly a case to be imagined or assumed in which I would consent to send out a body of land forces to fight the battles of the Continent; and last of all would I agree to send such an expedition to the shores of Russia."
Such emphatic declarations were not likely to be palatable to city capitalists, nor to those who could not or would not go deeply enough into the question to prevent their asking why, if money was a commodity, they might not trade with it without asking the purpose for which it was to be used, looking only to the mercantile value to be placed upon it. This question, it will be seen, did not really touch Cobden's position, since he could have replied by denying the moral right so to deal with. any commodity whatever; but there was a far different question which men who agreed with many of his political and most of his moral principles had to ask, What were the circumstances which justified interposition in foreign affairs, and what were the grounds for refusing material aid in money or in arms for the support of a just cause? Both Cobden and Bright would have answered this question by referring to those wars in which we had interposed for the alleged purpose of preventing the tyranny of a stronger over a weaker power, and by showing that in such cases prompt and decided expression of opinion would have prevented hostilities which mostly arose from the neglect of such an arrangement of just interests as could be effected by wise and truly moral arbitration. It may perhaps be said that supposing the grounds of interference had been the same, the difference between Cobden's and Palmerston's policy was that one would have been a serious and emphatic appeal to moral obligations, and the other a strong representation of the demands of international law with a threat of punishment for the breach of it. One represented the serious remonstrances of the onlooker ready to arbitrate; the other the sharp protest of the policeman with his hand on a truncheon.
Of course the inevitable inquiry was how would a ruler like the czar receive a moral remonstrance unaccompanied by the implied threat, that in case of refusal it might be followed by a resort to compulsion? Cobden himself gave some colour to this question by representing that had the proper steps been taken at first Russia would have receded, because she would not have dared to provoke hostilities. "I look back with regret," he said
Cobden, although he advocated peace, had a very shrewd notion of the way in which we might have commenced war. He was quite opposed to Palmerston's opinion that 60,000 French and English troops would, with the co-operation of the navy, take Sebastopol in six weeks, and he also stated, even if the fortress were to be taken and destroyed, it would neither give a disastrous blow to Russia nor prevent future attacks upon Turkey. He said truly enough that we knew nothing about the real strength or strategical importance of Sebastopol, and added that he thought he could have obtained full information on the subject at an earlier period of the war for the cost of a few thousand pounds. If we were to defend Turkey against Russia it should be by the use of the navy and not by sending a land force to the Crimea. It will be seen, therefore, that he was not only opposed to Lord Palmerston and those who supported his policy in believing that these hostilities might have been prevented, but in the opinion that they had been misconducted. This kind of opposition was irritating enough no doubt, and probably Palmerston felt it to be so. At any rate it seems to have given occasion for an exhibition of that "patrician bullying from the treasury bench" to which Disraeli