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Lord Aberdeen wrote a letter to Mr. Monsell, which was published, assuring him that the opinions which Lord John had expressed were not shared by many members of the Government; and with this explanation, in which Lord John himself concurred, Mr. Monsell and his friends expressed themselves satisfied. The months through which the session of 1853 was protracted left deep impressions on Lord John's domestic life, In February his step-mother, the Dowager-Duchess of Bedford, died, somewhat suddenly, at Nice; in July his mother-in-law, Lady Minto, died, after a long illness, at Nervi. If, however, older faces were dropping out of the family circle, fresh and younger additions were being made to it. In May his stepson, Lord Ribblesdale, was married to Miss Mure of Caldwell." In June his step-daughter, Isabel, was married to Mr. Warburton. Three out of his four step-children had thus taken their flight from the nest where they had been so long sheltered ; but in March another child (Lady Agatha Russell) was added to its inmates. This child, their parents' first and only daughter, was born during the Easter recess, and its birth ‘made the Easter holiday at Pembroke Lodge even happier than usual.' While the session lasted, Lord John was, of course, compelled to be much in town, but he usually contrived to sleep three nights a week, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, in the fresher air of Richmond ; and, when he was able to leave town early enough, he either rode down to Pembroke Lodge, or drove to Hammersmith, where he was met by his roam horse, Surrey, and his children on their ponies. In the autumn Lord John carried his family down to Scotland, where the Duke of Argyll had placed Roseneath at his disposal. There they remained some weeks, yachting," riding, walking, reading. The urgency of the Eastern question, however, compelled Lord John to return suddenly to London in September. Its growing acuteness made Lady John fear that future journeys would unavoidably be entailed on him ; and, alarmed at the consequences of rapid railway travelling to and from Scotland, she persuaded him to cut short his stay in the North, and to return to London. For the long peace of thirty-eight years was drawing to a close, and the Aberdeen Administration was drifting into the whirlpool of war.
* Lord Ribblesdale had been educated at Eton and Oxford. He caused Lord John some anxiety in 1851 by purchasing Colonel (better known as General Jonathan) Peel's racehorses. To Lord John's remonstrance he wrote, “Every man, say I, his own metier. We are all good for something, as your friend Horace justly remarks to Maecenas in his first ode : “Sunt quos curriculo pulverem Olympicum,” &c. And again, “Hunc si nobilium turba Quiritium,” &c. We of the nineteenth century remain the same as in Horace's time. I should take as much interest in a race in which I had a horse running, as you in the issue of an election for a Government borough.”
THE CAUSES OF THE CRIMEAN WAR.
AT the time when the Aberdeen Administration was formed the English public was agitated by one of those alarms which seem periodically to affect the people of this country. The assumption by Napoleon of the imperial title, and the suspicion that the master of legions would desire to fortify his dynasty by some military achievement, influenced men's minds. There was a general belief that the first object of a new Napoleon must be to avenge the defeat by which the old Napoleon had been crushed. ‘Panic' pamphlets were again issued broadcast from the printing-press; panic letters and speeches succeeded one another in the newspapers; and a people brooding over panic literature, and communicating their fears to one another, persuaded themselves that the dreaded hour had at last come, and that the invasion of England was at hand. There is never smoke without fire : but, in the political as in the material world, the smoke is frequently the greatest when the fire is feeblest. The people were right in supposing that the conversion of a Republic into an Empire did not make for peace; they were only wrong in inferring that, if war broke out, it would necessarily be with England. Even, however, on this point there was some ground for alarm. And there is still among Lord John's papers a singular document which purports to be a translation of a series of confidential questions issued by Napoleon III. on the possibility of a French expedition, secretly collected in different ports, invading, conquering, and holding Australia. How the paper reached the Foreign Office, what credit was attached to it, what measures were suggested by it, there is no evidence to show. This only is certain. Lord John dealt with it as he occasionally dealt with confidential papers which he did not think it right to destroy, but which he did not wish to be known. He enclosed it in an envelope, sealed it with his own seal, and addressed it to himself. It was so found after his death. Whatever reason Lord John may have had for watching the new Emperor with caution, during his short tenure of the Foreign Office he laboured for peace; and he soon had distinct evidence that, if Napoleon were meditating hostile expeditions in December, he was desirous in January of standing on the best of terms with England and the English Court. Before the end of the month a wedding took the place of a war;' and in February Lord John brought upon himself a painful correspondence with Lord MountEdgcumbe by the vehemence with which he denied in the House of Commons the positive statements which that nobleman had made in the ‘Times' of preparations in the French dockyards which could only be for aggression. While, however, the cloud of war with France was slowly lifting, a new question in Eastern Europe was creating a new anxiety. The Sultan, endeavouring to stamp out insurrection on the borders of Montenegro, found himself confronted by Austria; while a struggle for the possession of the Holy Places between the Greek and Latin Churches subjected him to inconsistent demands from Russia and France. Lord John strove to effect a settlement of both questions. He told Lord Westmorland—the British representative at Vienna -to spare no effort to secure a pacific solution of the Montenegrin difficulty; and, in language which was unusual in a despatch, but which was very characteristic of Lord John, he told Lord Cowley, the British Minister at Paris, that—
We should deeply regret any dispute that might lead to conflict between two of the great powers of Europe; but when we reflect that the quarrel is for exclusive privileges in a spot near which the heavenly host proclaimed peace on earth and goodwill towards men—when we See rival Churches contending for mastery in the very place where Christ died for mankind—the thought of such a spectacle is melancholy indeed.”
'Napoleon was married to the Empress Eugénie in January 1853. * In sending Lord Aberdeen a draft of the despatch, Lord John said, ‘I hope you will not think there is too much of the Gospel in it for a Foreign Secretary.’
VOL. II. N
Lord John had the satisfaction of seeing the Montenegrin question easily settled. The dispute respecting the Churches proved more difficult of solution. It was embittered by the foolish conduct of the Russian Czar, who, in recognising Napoleon III., had the folly to style him “Mon cher ami’ instead of ‘Monsieur mon frère.’ The religious quarrel was in this way supplemented by a personal dispute, and the unfortunate Sultan found himself between two antagonists neither of whom seemed likely to abstain from attacking the other because they could only reach one another through his own weak frame. Conscious of the grave nature of the crisis which was imminent, Lord John persuaded Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, who was on leave in England, and who offered to resign his mission on the change of Government, to return to Constantinople. No blame can attach to him for so doing. Ninetynine men out of every hundred of his fellow countrymen would, in fact, have warmly applauded his decision: and the hundredth man would hardly have foreseen its consequences. Yet the appointment was, in one sense, the most unfortunate circumstance in British history during the present century. It set the Ministry on the slope which led it, at a constantly increasing speed, to the Crimean War. Lord Aberdeen, indeed, was almost alone in foreseeing some of the consequences of Lord Stratford's appointment. Argyll House: February 15, 1853. I think that it will be necessary to be very careful in preparing instructions for Lord Stratford, if, as I presume, we must consider his memorandum as giving an outline of what he would desire. ‘The assurances of prompt and effective aid on the approach of danger, given by us to the Porte, would, in all probability, produce war. These barbarians hate us all, and would be delighted to take their chance of some advantage, by embroiling us with the other powers of Christendom. It may be necessary to give them a moral support, and to endeavour to prolong their existence ; but we ought to regard as the greatest misfortune any engagement which compelled us to take up arms for the Turks. Lord Stratford is not very consistent in his descriptions of the Turkish Government. He refers to their present course of rashness, vacillation, and disorder ; and speaks of their maladministration as