Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

Straits and admit to the Black Sea a British, French, Austrian, or Italian squadron, if it were judged necessary in order to secure the execution of the Treaty of Paris. Strangely enough, this highly important modification of the Straits Convention was not much noticed at the time, and seems to have been altogether overlooked by many persons who have spoken on the subject.*

It deserves a passing notice that during the whole of this period Russia was carrying on an aggressive war with great activity in Central Asia, and endeavouring at the same time to conceal from England the nature of her operations, even at the expense of a direct violation of the truth. In January 1873, Count Schouvaloff declared to Lord Granville that the expedition against Khiva would consist of four and a half battalions, and that it was so far from the intention of the Emperor of Russia to take possession of Khiva, that positive orders had been sent to prevent it, or even a prolonged occupancy of it. This declaration was made in the most solemn official form to be communicated to Parliament. On August 24 of the same year a treaty was signed between General Kaufman and the Khan of Khiva, by which the Khan acknowledged himself to be the humble servant of the Emperor of all the Russias, and renounced his commercial and military independence; and by the third article the whole of the right bank of the Amou

Darya, and the lands adjoining thereto, which have hitherto * been considered as belonging to Khiva, passed over from the * Khan into the possession of Russia, together with the people

dwelling and camping thereon.'t The Russians contend that they have not violated their pledge because the town of Khiva is not occupied by Russian troops, and the Khan has not been deposed: he is only reduced to entire subjection. Are we not justified in attaching to the more recent declarations of the Russian Government precisely the same value as we have learned to attach to Count Schouvaloff's communications, more

Mr. Bright left his hearers, recently, in the belief that access was denied by these restrictions to the trading vessels and mercantile ports of Russia. They have no reference whatever to trade. Absolute liberty of passage for trading vessels was established in 1829, and has never since been disputed. Mr. Bright himself must be perfectly aware that the 3rd Article of the Treaty of 1871 runs thus, * The * Black Sea remains open, as heretoforc, to the mercantile Marine of all nations.'

† See for a full account of these transactions Captain Burnaby's spirited and instructive volume, ' A Ride to Khiva,' and Mr. Schuyler's highly important work on Turkestan.

especially when we recollect that in every instance where Russia has meditated some great outrage on the faith of treaties and the security of her neighbours, similar declarations of her love of peace and disinterestedness have been made almost in the same words ?

It would be tedious to trace in detail the extraordinary activity shown by the agents of Russia in bringing about the present state of affairs. Every form and every means of encouragement and agitation have been unscrupulously employed. In 1870 it even appears (if the published despatches are authentic), that the Khedive of Egypt was urged by the Sclavonic emissaries to declare his independence, and make war on the Porte, thereby uprooting all the engagements of 1840, and the Russian consul-general at Alexandria was at the bottom of the plot. During the whole of this time General Ignatieff was the Russian ambassador at Constantinople, and had acquired a vast ascendency over the mind of the late Sultan and the Divan. Did he in

any

instance use that influence to promote those reforms in favour of the Christian subjects of the Porte which are now found to be so necessary? Did he not on the contrary aid, abet, and encourage the very worst acts of a bad government, for the obvious purpose of rendering the Sultan's authority odious and intolerable, and inducing that wretched sovereign to throw himself entirely upon Russian protection? It is generally believed, we know not with how much truth, that he instigated the late Grand Vizier to the financial measures which destroyed Turkish credit in Europe, and dissuaded him from sending regular troops to put down the insurrection at its commencement. It is at any rate a remarkable circumstance that the very worst period of Turkish misrule was that during which the authority of General Ignatieff was undoubtedly paramount. To what, in short, did all this tend, but to bring about a catastrophe, for which Russia had carefully prepared herself? Is it possible not to see that by dividing the councils of Europe, by encouraging internal insurrections in Turkey, and by lowering the credit and authority of the Porte at home and abroad, she was preparing to bring about some great change favourable to her own interests? And what could that change be but the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire and the substitution of her own power in place of it-an attempt which she has made systematically four times or more in the last century-in 1771, in 1809, in 1828, and in 1853—without success? But to accomplish this object the destruction of the treaties of 1856 is an indispensable preliminary. Accordingly, Prince Gortschakoff did not hesitate to declare in his despatch of November 19th last, to Count Schouvaloff, which has been published in the Standard' newspaper, that these treaties are out of date, and that the objects we now have in view cannot be reconciled with the letter of stipulations concluded in

other times, in another situation, and other ideas;' and he goes on to argue :

'It is necessary to escape from this vicious circle and to recognise that the independence and integrity of Turkey must be subordinated to the guarantees demanded by humanity, the sentiments of Christian Europe, and the general peace. The Porte has been the first to infringe the engagement which she contracted by the Treaty of 1856 with regard to her Christian subjects. It is the right and duty of Europe to dictate to her the conditions on which alone it can on its part consent to the maintenance of the political status quo created by that treaty; and since the Porte is incapable of fulfilling them it is the right and duty of Europe to substitute itself for her to the extent necessary to ensure their execution.' That is to say, in other words, it is the duty of Europe to put an end to the Treaty of Paris, and to substitute its own will for the sovereignty of the Porte, which that treaty guaranteed.

The Treaty of Paris was not merely a treaty of peace between Russia and the Porte, but between France and England and Russia, and the interest we have in it is not the protection of the Ottoman Empire but of our own British interests, and no laches on the part of Turkey can diminish our right to maintain stipulations which we conceive to be important to the British Empire and to the peace of Europe. The proposal of Prince Gortschakoff amounts to this, that the Christian Powers of Europe are to assume the government of the Ottoman Empire. Such a measure, as she well knows, can only be carried into effect by war. No Power, except herself, is in the slightest degree prepared or disposed to make war on Turkey for such a purpose. Therefore the whole conduct and direction of these operations would be in the hands of Russia, and she expects Europe to give its assent to the hostile operations she may contemplate.

Therefore we say, that the object of Prince Gortschakoff is to abrogate and destroy the treaties of 1856, without exciting and evoking the direct hostility of the other parties to them. Sadowa and Sedan placed Austria and France to a great extent out of the field - the Prussian alliance secured the neutrality of Germany - Italy was easily bought off; it only remains to be seen whether Great Britain can be led to undo by her own hands, or to acquiesce in the undoing of engagements which she purchased twenty years ago by great sacrifices, and which were held by the Government of Lord Palmerston and by Parliament to be essential, but not more than essential, to the

peace and security of Europe.

We pointed out in our last Number the striking similarity which exists between the present state of affairs in the East and that which preceded and followed the war of 1828. We had agreed in April 1826 to a Protocol which united us to Russia, for the purpose of obtaining from the Porte the autonomy of Greece. The Protocol having proved ineffective, Mr. Canning signed the Treaty of London in July 1827, which provided that the Powers should secure the immediate effect of an armistice between the combatants, and it was for this object that the battle of Navarino was fought. But, said the Duke of Wellington, the battle of Navarino and «the withdrawal of the Allied Ministers from the Porte had • exhausted all the means put forward by the Treaty. They • had no effect upon the Porte. The Allies are under the “necessity of having recourse to ulterior measures, adverted to • in the third section of the Secret Article.' That expression,

ulterior measures,' exactly corresponds to the 'mesures efficaces in the tail of the Berlin note the other day. In the meantime the Emperor of Russia resolved to declare war on Turkey on his own account, and communicated a plan of operations to England and France, in which he invited them to join. If the Allies should not consent to adopt that plan of operations, his Imperial Majesty would consider himself at liberty to propose at the conclusion of the war such measures for the pacification of Greece as will suit ses convenances et intérêts

-an expression almost identical with that recently employed by the present Emperor of Russia, when he declared that if the other

Powers did not agree to the guarantees ' proposed by him, he should . act independently.' But these words and this conduct roused the indignation of the Duke of Wellington, and, high Tory as he was, banished all confidence in Russia from his mind. He refused to attend the Conference till they were withdrawn. He declared at once that we should express our • resolution not to become parties to the war into which the • Emperor was about to enter, and that we should express our

regret that this decision, which is neither more nor less than

one to break a treaty, should have been thus unnecessarily • adopted by his Imperial Majesty.' And shortly afterwards the Duke wrote the following Memorandum for the Cabinet,

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

which is so striking in its application to current events that we shall quote it here.*

· Memorandum. • The proposition in the Note of Monsieur de Roth and that of Count Nesselrode's despatch are different. They both indicate measures of war as those to be adopted to force the Porte to consent to the proposals of the Treaty of the 6th of July. These measures are very different in extent; but it is quite obvious that the intention of both will be misunderstood, and that in the existing state of the government of the Porte in Europe and of the countries under its dominion, the adoption of either would be followed by the same fatal consequences.

• The Treaty of the 6th of July does not exclude in terms measures of war from the ulterior measures to be discussed and settled by the representatives of the combined Powers in London, of which the adoption might become necessary. But the principle and spirit of the Treaty; the instructions to the negotiators of the Protocol and the Treaty on which those instruments were founded; those to the admirals of the combined fleet; those to the ambassadors of the combined Powers at the Porte ; and the interests of all Europe, and most particularly those of Russia, whose Minister has declared himself upon this point, require that, if within the power of possibility, there should be no war; and that whatever is done should be limited in point of locality, and be applied solely to the attainment of the object in view. The propositions that the Russian army should enter the Principalities on the left of the Danube in the name of the three combined Powers, and that the combined fleet should blockade the Dardanelles, if practicable as thus limited and efficient to produce this purpose, would be understood, and must be understood by all Europe, but most particularly by the subjects of the Porte in the countries extending from the Adriatic to the Black Sea, as neither more nor less than war for the purpose of sustaining an insurrection against the Porte, by three of the most powerful monarchs in Europe: the very three who from their geographical position and the nature of their power were the most capable of overturning the dominion of the Porte in Europe.

But the application of this measure thus limited is, in truth, impracticable. A Russian army, of the magnitude of one to produce any effect upon the Porte, could not remain for any length of time in the Principalities of the Danube unless sustained by an enormous expense of money.

• This, indeed, must be the reason for which this limited measure has not been proposed by the Russian Cabinet. In the same manner the blockade of the Dardanelles would be useless for any purpose of

* These references to the proceedings of the British Government in 1828 are all taken from volumes iv, and v. of the New Series of the Duke of Wellington's Despatches,' published by the present Duke in 1871 and 1873—volumes which are full of the most instructive lessons of politics and of war, and we seem to gather from them the opinious and advice of the Great Duke on the present crisis.

« EdellinenJatka »