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New Zealand—and the home squadron, from which reductions can be made. There are several others with which you are acquainted from your knowledge of the department. We must not diminish, however, our force on the coast of Africa without the most mature consideration. The result is that you must take Dundas and Berkeley, and Milne and Ward, into council ; and consider how you are to reduce the actual force. Whether seamen or marines are reduced, is to me a matter of indifference. If I were to say what my judgment would incline to, it would go to the laying-up of the St. Vincent, and two other large ships in the winter, keeping a good frigate and one smaller ship at Lisbon. If affairs on the Continent change their complexion, why asors comme asors, but at present there is no ground for alarm in the Channel. —I remain, &c., J. RUSSELL. On the 7th of December Lord John wrote to the Duke of Wellington—
Prizate] Chesham Place: December 7, 1848.
My dear Lord, –The Cabinet, upon examining the state of the revenue and expenditure, and the present prospects of the revenue for the coming year, have come to the conclusion that it will be necessary to make a considerable reduction of the army. The precise amount is not determined, and I should not wish to arrive at any positive decision till we know a little more of the intentions of France after the Presidential Election. But I wish to prepare your Grace for a decision which the state of our finances will probably render absolutely necessary. —I remain, &c.,
J. RUSSELL. The Duke did not agree to this proposal, and Lord John
wrote again :
Private] Woburn Abbey : December 16, 1848.
My dear Lord, I fully appreciate all the reasons for keeping up our military force, stated in your Grace's letter of the 8th. But there are political considerations which appear to me to be of the utmost weight in the present state of our finances, and of Europe. The estimated revenue for 1849–50 will not allow of the expenditure of 1848–9, without leaving a considerable deficit. Such a financial situation ought not to continue. But the imposition of a new tax, or an increase of the present taxes, would raise an opposition from all parties.
In the present state of the public mind, tranquil amid great storms, it is desirable not to give, without necessity, a topic for agitation, and a ground for discontent with our form of government or the state of the representation. There are always agitations, but they are not to be feared unless there is matter which is agitable. A gradual and prudent course of retrenchment will satisfy the public mind, and enable us to preserve our present safe and enviable position. I state these considerations privately to your Grace, both because they cannot be stated in an official letter of the Secretary of State, and because your Grace's masterly comprehension of the interests of the State will enable you to combine the views of an experienced statesman with those which more properly belong to the Commanderin-Chief. In order to make the reliefs less burdensome, Lord Grey is contemplating every possible reduction in our colonial garrisons. On this subject, however, I will not farther enter, as it would lead me far. I will only say, therefore, that the system which will enable us to make the greatest and most speedy effort on the breaking out of war, without trenching too deeply on our finances in peace, appears to me the best.—I remain, &c., J. RUSSELL.
So ended the first of what Mr. Cobden used to call the ‘three panics.' The pendulum of public opinion had violently vibrated from panic to parsimony, and the dread of additional taxation had quenched the desire for increased armaments. The army and navy estimates were rapidly reduced ; till, when a new panic occurred in 1852, they stood at the lowest point which they had reached since the fall of the Whigs in 1841.
THE consequences of the fall of Louis Philippe on the policy of the British Ministry were not at first visible. An element of uncertainty affected the situation. No one knew what a Revolutionary Government in France might desire, or be forced, to do. But Lord John, on the 28th of February, paved the way for a good understanding, by declaring that—
We have no intention whatever to interfere with the form of government which the French nation may choose to adopt, or in any way to meddle with the internal affairs of that country.
And M. de Lamartine, who became for a few months the guiding spirit of the French Councils, soon showed that he had a greater desire to maintain the English alliance than to disturb the settlement of 1815. M. de Lamartine, indeed, immediately after assuming the reins of government, issued a circular to the representatives of France at foreign Courts, some phrases in which were calculated to excite alarm. But the language embodied in this formal document was intended for the people rather than for statesmen ; and, as the following singular correspondence will show, M. de Lamartine simultaneously took unusual steps to let his true views be known in England :— London: March 3, 1848.
My dear Lord, Mr. Wellesley . . . arrived from Paris yesterday, and read to me last night a note zerbase of a communication made to him for me by M. de Lamartine, which he wrote down in M. de Lamartine's presence, and read to him.
I likewise enclose the answer which I propose to write to M. de Lamartine.
The desire is expressed in the note that I should lay it before her Majesty's servants.
My duty to the Queen, as her loyal subject, would make it impossible for me to receive such a communication, and to omit to lay the same before her Majesty's servants.
But I have thought it desirable to avoid to inform M. de Lamartine that I had done so, or should do so, as the omission enables her Majesty's servants to notice this communication or not as they may find most convenient, which I think desirable, as it contains a paragraph which might be considered hostile towards the Courts in the North of Europe with which this country is bound by treaties of alliance, officially communicated to the Government of France at the time they were concluded, the existence of which engagements must be known.
It appears to me that it might be very inconvenient at the present moment either to notice or to avoid the paragraph above referred to.
Since writing the above I have received from Mr. Wellesley a note, dated this day, containing a further explanation of circumstances which appeared in ‘La Presse' on Tuesday, Feb. 29.
I beg your Lordship to let me know whether you think there is any objection to my sending to M. de Lamartine the answer of which the copy is enclosed.-- Ever yours most faithfully,
Les républiques ont besoin d'ordre à l'intérieur, ont besoin surtout qu'il y ait chez chaque citoyen le sentiment du respect de l'ordre, du désir de le maintenir. C'est à établir l'ordre sur des bases larges et solides, reposant sur la confiance de tous, et sur l'opinion publique, que s'attache aujourd'hui M. de Lamartine.
Il ne doute pas que ses efforts ne soient couronnés de succès. Il désire, que les autres, avant de le juger, de juger la république telle qu'il veut la faire ; telle qu'il la fera ; en attendant, il demande trois mois pour mériter l'approbation des gens sages, des hommes de bien ; il espère qu'il ne lui faudra que six semaines. Il croit que le Duc de Wellington, dont il désire avoir l'assentiment, attendra pour se prononcer définitivement, ou ne se prononcera qu'au fur et à mesure.
Mais il doit ici prémunir le Duc de Wellington qu'il recherche, non pas à cause de sa haute position, mais à cause de la grande influence, toute de paix, qu'il exerce depuis longtemps en Angleterre --il doit le prémunir contre les accidents d'une lutte déjà engagée entre le Gouvernement Provisoire et le parti extrême-il doit le pré
munir contre les criailleries des journaux et leurs articles intempestifs, et pour l'assurer de son sens d'action à lui, Monsieur de Lamartine. Monsieur de Lamartine fait dire au Duc que si le Gouvernement Provisoire représente la majorité de la nation, elle en représente la majorité disposée à rechercher et à resserrer l'alliance anglaise. Monsieur de Lamartine considère la constitution de l'Angleterre comme le " ne plus ultra ' des républiques libérales, ayant un magistrat souverain héréditaire pour chef. Le Gouvernement Provisoire veut amener la France au même état de libéralisme. Pour le faire, il a fallu avoir recours au peuple et aux masses ; ils demanderont sans doute des concessions en échange. Le Gouvernement Provisoire compte faire des concessions ; mais dans ses concessions il n'entend aucunement sacrifier l'alliance anglaise. Il veut défendre les peuples libres contre les aggressions des Cours du Nord, et il espère trouver un appui en Angleterre. Il fera une déclaration énergique aux nations de l'Europe, mais le Duc de Wellington en comprendra le vrai sens. La République ne peut pas paraître craindre quand elle ne craint pas et que les masses sont toutes prêtes à la guerre : il y a surabondance de population. Prenez note de mes explications, m'a dit M. de Lamartine ; faites en part au Duc de Wellington. Assurez le du respect, de la haute opinion que j'ai pour son assentiment à notre République-qu'il fasse part de ce que je vous ai dit au Cabinet anglais. Si le Duc nous est favorable, je connais assez en Angleterre le poids de son opinion pour désirer qu'elle soit dans l'intérêt de deux nations bien grandes, bien fortes. Si le Duc vous y autorise, vous me ferez part de ce qu'il vous aura dit pour moi, et je lui écrirai." The second enclosure was as follows :
My Lord Duke,—I trust your Grace will excuse my recalling to your attention a point which is not in my notes, and which, on reflection, has appeared to me most important as specifically illustrating the purport of a principal part of M. de Lamartine's conversation.
He said to me, * Il y a d'ailleurs aujourd'hui [29 Feb.] dans " La Presse " un de ces articles que nous déplorons. ... Vous voyez
" At the end of the memorandum the Duke added in pencil : * Note-parts of the original very illegible.' Those who are acquainted with the Duke's handwriting in his later years will appreciate the difficulty of accurately transcribing the illegible copy of an illegible original.
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