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directed to take his leave upon your receiving Kossuth, and rumours to that effect are circulated, though perhaps not authentic. The question, therefore, is a public one, and as such I have summoned a Cabinet to consider it on Monday at two o'clock. I trust you will be there, and I shall be perfectly willing to hear your reasons for thinking the matter ought to be left to your discretion. Above all, let us endeavour to come to a fair and impartial decision.—I remain, yours faithfully, J. RUSSELL.
When the Cabinet met on the Monday, Lord John thus put the matter before his colleagues:—
I have called the Cabinet together with a view, not to any collective resolution, but in order to gather the expression of their opinions on a subject which appears to me one of considerable importance.
As some members of the Cabinet have lately joined us, I wish to state the circumstances which have led more immediately to our present meeting. When the leaders of the Hungarian insurrection, defeated by the forces of Austria and Russia, fled into Turkey, a demand was made upon the Sultan to deliver them up, no doubt for trial and execution. The Sultan refused, and appealed to us and to France for support. The Cabinet unanimously resolved to give that support. The Emperor of Russia soon perceived that he had made a false step; retreated very skilfully; allowed the Polish refugees to leave Turkey; and the question, as regarded him, was at an end. The Austrian Government behaved very differently. Circumstances of a suspicious nature, reported by Sir S. Canning, indicated an attempt to waylay the Hungarian refugees by Croat soldiers, and their lives did not appear safe.” Palmerston then urged the Sultan to allow them to depart. After various communications, and the most able re
1 Lord Seymour and Lord Granville had been lately admitted to the Cabinet.
* In the summer of 1850, Lord John wrote, on this subject, to the Queen, ‘Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour to transmit some drafts from Lord Palmerston. One of them relates to the supposed plot of the Austrian police to inveigle Hungarian refugees, with respect to which your Majesty has intimated that no further inquiry ought to be made by order from here. Lord John Russell concurs with your Majesty, although he thinks the evidence of a plot of some kind very strong, and hitherto uncontradicted."
monstrances on the part of Sir S. Canning, the Sultan fixed the 1st of September in the present year for their departure. He kept his word. It appears to me that our duty ended here. We had supported the Sultan against a barbarous and unusual demand on the part of two great powers. We had further, after saving their lives, procured the liberty of the refugees, thus rescuing them from death or from perpetual imprisonment. We had done this without war. Our policy had been creditable and successful. We had nothing to do with the Hungarian cause. We had seen in the Hungarians the defeated parties in a civil war. Kossuth determined to come to England. I thought it best that no member of the Government should see him. Palmerston thought otherwise. Although I differed from him, there was something plausible in his opinion. If Kossuth, upon landing in England, had asked to see Palmerston in order to convey to the Queen his thanks for his life and liberty, and to express his acknowledgments to Palmerston as the organ of the Government, the course might have been natural and defensible. Kossuth has not chosen to do so. He has chosen to make speeches at Southampton and Winchester, exciting the people of England to a crusade against the Emperor of Russia and the Emperor of Austria, the Queen's allies. He has done so with very great ability—no one can deny that. But it appears to me that, after this unusual conduct of his, it would not be right that the Foreign Secretary should receive him. I make no distinction between a reception at the Foreign Office or in Carlton Terrace. Palmerston cannot divest himself of the character of the Queen's Secretary of State. Mr. Canning lived at the Foreign Office; it would have been absurd to say that by going from his Office through a door into his dining-room he changed his character. It is said—I know not with what truth—that, if Kossuth is received, the Austrian Minister will be withdrawn. I believe there has been no intimation of this kind. Nor should I mind his being withdrawn if we were in the right. But, if we were in the wrong, and a debate were to arise on the subject, I should feel very differently. I again say I call for no resolution of the Cabinet. I beg pardon for having made so long a speech.
The Cabinet was unanimous in agreeing with Lord John, and Lord Palmerston gave way. But unfortunately, while abandoning his intention of seeing M. Kossuth, he consented to receive some deputations at the Foreign Office who presented him with addresses in which the Emperors of Austria and Russia were spoken of as ‘odious and detestable assassins.”
The Queen at once expressed to Lord John her grave annoyance at Lord Palmerston's conduct, and Lord John, on receiving her letter, wrote to Lord Palmerston, who replied—
CARLTON GARDENs, November 28, 1851.
MY DEAR JOHN RUSSELL,—I am exceedingly sorry that the Queen should have been annoyed at what took place the other day about the presentation of addresses of thanks to me from Finsbury and Islington. . . . But the fact simply was that, having received a letter asking me when those addresses could be presented to me, I told my private secretary to say in reply that I would see the deputation . . . and I do not well see how I could have refused to do so. . . . My interview with them could not have lasted ten minutes; and in the conversation which took place I said nothing which I have not said before in the House of Commons and elsewhere, except an observation upon the doctrine propounded at some of the late meetings by Kossuth and Cobden that there ought to be no secrecy in diplomatic negotiations. Those expressions in these addresses which were offensive to the Austrian Government I of course repudiated at once. If I had been as much in the habit of receiving deputations as you and Charles Wood are, I should probably have stipulated, when they entered my room, that our interview should not be manufactured into a commodity to be sold to the newspapers. But it seems that a trading penny-a-liner came in as a member of the deputation; and, as the price of his commodity would depend upon the number of lines which it would contain, he swelled it out into proportions incommensurate with the reality; and, as he wrote from memory, not content with making me repeat the same things many times over, he put words into my mouth about the nationality of countries which were nonsense. . . .—Yours sincerely, PALMERSTON.
Lord John forwarded this explanation to the Queen, and wrote to Lord Palmerston—
PEMBROKE LoDGE, November 29, 1851. MY DEAR PALMERSTON,—I have sent your letter on the Islington deputation to the Queen, as the best account that could be given of the matter. . . . My own opinion is that, if, as you say, you had been as much used to deputations as C. Wood and I, you would have asked to see the addresses; and, if they were objectionable, not have received the deputation; and secondly, if you had received it, you would have had a shorthand writer in the room—a precaution I am frequently obliged to take, especially in the case of metropolitan parishes. Having said this, I must express my disgust at the false colour which has been put upon the whole affair in newspaper articles. Nothing seems too gross for these unscrupulous writers. Now for the moral. Seeing the persevering enmity which the foreign policy of the Government excites, and the displeasure with which it is viewed in high quarters, I think it behoves you to guard most carefully against misapprehensions as well as misrepresentations. I think you owe this to me and to your other colleagues, who have stood by you in defence of the course which has been pursued in regard to our foreign relations. I think you owe it to the country, which in these difficult times ought not to be exposed, in case of a rupture, to encounter unnecessary odium from the Governments that be. I trust, therefore, without swerving an inch from our policy, you will avoid as much as possible giving cause for irritation and hostility.—I remain, yours very truly, J. RUSSELL.
Five days later, by the Queen's desire, the correspondence was brought before the Cabinet. The Ministers present, so Lord John informed the Queen, regretted that
Lord Palmerston had not taken the precaution of ascertaining the tenour of the addresses to be presented before he consented to receive them, and that he had admitted unfaithful reporters to his room in a case where misrepresentation might be so mischievous. The Cabinet, however, declined to come to any formal resolution. Mr. Labouchere and Lord Grey might probably have been willing to do so; but Lord Lansdowne and all the rest of the Cabinet were decidedly opposed to such a step.
However much the Queen may have regretted the decision at which the Cabinet thus arrived, her knowledge of her duties as a constitutional sovereign was too accurate to suffer her to dispute it. She gave way. But, before she received Lord John's letter announcing the decision of the Cabinet, the circumstance had occurred which was to lead immediately to Lord Palmerston's fall. . - -
On December 3, news reached London of the coup d'état in France. The Queen was at Osborne, and did not receive intelligence of the event till the morning of the 4th. She at once wrote to Lord John—
OSBORNE, December 4, 1851.
The Queen has learned with concern and astonishment the extraordinary proceedings at Paris. She thinks it absolutely necessary that we should remain entirely passive and take no £art, either for or against what is going on. The Queen hopes, therefore, that Lord Normanby will be very cautious, and keep entirely aloof: for a word from him at such a moment would be misconstrued.
Lord John concurred with her Majesty's opinion; and, on the following day, instructions were sent to Lord Normanby by Lord Palmerston in accordance with it. Lord Normanby, however, calling on the French Minister to state his instructions, heard that Lord Palmerston had personally expressed his approval of the coup d'état to the French Ambassador in London. He communicated what he had learned in a despatch; on seeing which the Queen sent to Lord John the letter of December 13, which has already been printed in Sir T. Martin's ‘Life of the Prince Consort. Lord John at once forwarded the Queen's letter to Lord Palmerston, and asked for an explanation. Two days passed and no explanation Calne.
W[oBURN] A[BBEY], December 16, 1851.
MY DEAR PALMERSTON,—I have no answer from you in reply to one I wrote you enclosing a communication from the Queen respecting your declarations to Walewski. I cannot but consider this as a mark of disrespect to the Queen. Neither did you answer my former letter on the same subject.—I remain, yours truly, J. RUSSELL.
Lord Palmerston thereupon sent to Lord John the long letter which has already been published by Mr. Ashley, justifying instead of explaining his conduct; and on the same date in an official despatch to Lord Normanby, which was not submitted to Queen, Prime Minister, or Cabinet,