« EdellinenJatka »
he was prepared to discuss any proposition that might be made, but was not prepared to make any himself, he was persuaded by Count Buol to apply to his Court for definite instructions. Prince Gortchakoff's consent to make the reference was generally regarded by the Plenipotentiaries as affording a last and solitary chance for the maintenance of peace. But even this slight chance was destroyed by Baron Bourqueney immediately alluding to his unfortunate alternative of neutralising the Black Sea. ‘Prince Gortchakoff at once pointed out that such a plan would leave Russia disarmed in the presence of Turkey armed.” Count Buol, though he took no part in the discussion, subsequently declared that neutralisation was beyond and out of the four points; and Lord John himself thought that the substitution of neutralisation for the terms on which the Plenipotentiaries had hitherto insisted was unfair to Russia, rendered the Western powers liable to a charge of insincerity, and afforded the Austrian Minister an easy way out of his promises to observe his engagements. While, then, during the first three weeks after Lord John's arrival at Vienna, the negotiations had proceeded with comparative smoothness, the neglect of the Government at home to telegraph an immediate reply to the Austrian proposition, the perverse counsels of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, and the new project of neutralisation suddenly flung into the Conference chamber from Paris, and supported—though unexplained—from London, tended, at the commencement of the fourth week, to create embarrassment and difficulty. By an unlucky conjuncture—almost at the very moment at which Lord John was complaining that he could get no answer to his own despatch of the 21st, and that a new proposal, unexplained and inadmissible without explanation, was flung upon him—he received an abrupt telegram from London that his colleagues could not agree to the arrangement which he had made for settling the first point. In some natural concern, he wrote the following note to Lord Panmure, who had just joined the Cabinet as Secretary of State for War, and who had, as Mr. Fox Maule, served under Lord John in the Home Office during Lord Melbourne's administration.
Vienna: March 28, 1855.
My dear Panmure, I cannot quite understand what H.M.'s Government is about. I have been sent here with very general instructions, and left to grope my way as I could ; and now, when I am acting to the best of my judgment, comes one telegraphic message after another disapproving of what I am doing. Lastly, to crown all, at the moment the third article was coming under discussion, a new proposition was launched, which gave the Russians a triumph, and made Bourqueney, Lord Westmorland, and me look small, while Buol was obliged to remain silent.
It is really very incomprehensible, only I hear to-night that Drouyn de Lhuys is coming, which I am heartily glad of.
But explain to me whether I have lost the confidence of my employers.--Yours ever,
J. RUSSELL. Lord Panmure replied—
I grieve to read your letter. The very fact of your instructions being general proves the full confidence reposed in you ; and I can assure you, as a colleague and a friend, that such confidence is as strong as ever. We are not to blame for these electric shocks which have so disheartened you. It arises [sic] from the singular course taken in Paris. The new proposition emanated from thence without our knowledge or consent, and so led to the triumph of Russia and your annoyance. Drouyn de Lhuys has been here, and has gone on with definite instructions, if he is only honest enough to act up to them. I cannot help fearing, however, you may find his views somewhat more Austro-Russian than he acknowledges to have.
If the matter had not been too grave for laughter, Lord John could have hardly read this letter without amusement. For it was a candid confession that the Ministers would only adhere to their own bases so long as their imperial ally at Paris had no new project of his own to press on them.
How much Lord John felt may be inferred from a passage in one of his wife's letters. Writing to her father on the 1st of April, she said—
The change of views of our home Government has annoyed John terribly ; and he feels that he has been sent out on a bootless errand to obtain the consent of Austria and Russia to terms which he is all of a sudden told are no longer held desirable, but are to be exchanged for others to which it is impossible that Russia should accede.
He himself wrote to Lord Clarendon on the same day—
I could not write to you any other than an angry letter, so I will not write at all. Perhaps, for the sake of the public service, you will think it advisable not to lower your special envoy too much in the estimation of foreign Courts.
Lord Clarendon hastened to reassure him, and Lord John wrote eight days later—
The letters and despatches brought by the two last messengers have relieved my mind very much. I confess I was very much hurt when I received the dry, cold, short, sharp despatch respecting the Principalities. To Lord Lansdowne he wrote more fully:Vienna: April 1, 1855. My dear Lansdowne,—Many thanks for the kindness which dictated your letter. It is quite true that those at a distance can sometimes judge better than those who are nearer. But it is true also that those who are at a distance do not make a fair allowance for the difficulties of those who are playing the game. Now this was my position. Against my frequent remonstrances and suggestions it had been determined to have the Conference here, instead of Brussels or Frankfort, which I pointed out as preferable. It was obvious that here not only the Austrian Plenipotentiary would have the advantage of being Minister of Foreign Affairs, but his Court would have that influence which always affects the resident Foreign Minister at any Court. Add to this that, not being myself experienced in diplomacy, I naturally expected to have much aid furnished me. . But, with the exception of the valuable assistance of Mr. Hammond, I have had no such aid. The Turkish Minister, from whom I expected information relating to his own country, was by nature incompetent and by instruction silent. Notwithstanding all this, I contend that the concessions have been made on the Russian side, and not on mine. Buol wished to negotiate on bases already known. I said this was too vague, and pinned him down to the four points very well and accurately defined. If the whole memorandum of December 28 was not accepted, it was because Clarendon refused my proposition to have that question cleared up before I came to Vienna. In fact, the concessions of the three first points, with a limitation of the Russian fleet, would be a retrograde move on the part of Russia which she has not made for a century and a half. It would have been gained by Alma, by Inkerman, and by six months of hardship and privation heroically borne. I am told that our prestige of power must be maintained. I quite agree to this. But we have another prestige: that of keeping our word and being true to our engagements. If the four points were not thought sufficient guarantees for peace they should not have been brought forward. If it was intended, after using them as a bait for Austria, to throw them aside and forfeit our word, I was not the man to employ on so discreditable a task. I hope Drouyn de Lhuys will be able to see the danger of a false
step before he makes it.—I remain, yours truly, J. RUSSELL
In the meanwhile the reference which Prince Gortchakoff had made to St. Petersburg afforded an interval in which Ali Pacha arrived from Constantinople, in which M. Drouyn de Lhuys joined the Plenipotentiaries from Paris, and in which the new neutralisation project was elaborately explained by Lord Clarendon. Two schemes were, therefore, definitely before the representatives of the allies. To quote Lord John's own words :
One, called limitation, proposed that only four ships of the line should be maintained in the Black Sea by Russia, and two each by the allies of Turkey. The other mode, proposed by M. Drouyn de Lhuys, contemplated a much further reduction of force—namely, to eight or ten light vessels, intended solely to protect commerce from pirates and perform the police of the coast. . .
Such being the proposals in contemplation, it was suggested by Austria, and agreed to by France, Great Britain, and Turkey, that Russia should be invited to take the initiative, and propose the measures to which she was willing to assent for putting an end to her preponderance in the Black Sea. This course produced a delay, but no proposals from Russia.' Her Plenipotentiary declared himself ready to listen to any proposals that might be made on behalf of the belligerent powers. The proposals of the allies consisted in the alternative of limitation or neutralisation. Both were rejected.
And, on the 21st of April, Lord John telegraphed to Lord Clarendon that “after the absolute refusal by the Russian Minister * This is literally accurate, though it may mislead ; as, after the rejection of the
allies' terms, Russia made proposals of her own, which were thought inadequate.
VOL. II. S
of the propositions of the English and French Ministers, the Conference had adjourned sine die.’ But, to continue Lord John's own account :—
At this point Count Buol made a strong endeavour to keep alive the negotiation which seemed about to expire. Frequent communications ensued between the Ministers of the belligerent powers and those of Austria. . . . After much discussion and repeated attempts to overcome obstacles, Count Buol proposed the following scheme :1. In case of the increase of the Russian fleet beyond the number actually existing, Turkey to have power to maintain a force equal to that of Russia ; and England and France each to have a naval force in the Black Sea equal to half the force of Russia. Should this plan not be acceptable to Russia, an alternative to be proposed, viz. that Russia should engage not to increase the number of her ships actually afloat in the Black Sea. 2. A triple treaty of alliance to be formed between Austria, France, and Great Britain, engaging the three powers to defend the integrity and independence of Turkey in case of aggression. . . . In considering these propositions, I endeavoured to represent to my own mind what would be the condition of Great Britain and her allies in three different cases: (1) If the terms should be refused by Russia; (2) if the terms, modified in London and Paris, should be accepted by Russia, and form the foundation of a treaty of peace; (3) if the terms should not be approved in London and Paris and the war should continue. 1st. If the proposed terms had been refused by Russia, Austria would have withdrawn her Minister from Petersburg, and would have been ready to conclude a military convention with France and Great Britain. . . . 2nd. In the second case a peace would have been concluded by which all the concessions would have been on the side of Russia, and none on the side of Great Britain and France. . . . I cannot conceive how such a peace could be called humiliating or dishonourable. It might have been called insecure : and, indeed, the real objection to the plan of pacification was not that it would leave to Russia the preponderance in the Black Sea, but that Russia and her rivals would be brought continually in presence—in short,
* The careful memorandum from which these extracts are taken, I have reason to think, was written by Lord John (probably at Florence) in 1856. The official account of the Austrian proposal will be found in Lord John's despatch of April 21, or in Lord Clarendon's despatch of May 8 (Eastern Papers, pt. xv. p. 14).