« EdellinenJatka »
is degrading Turkey, not to reject her modifications, but to reject them after submitting them to the Emperor of Russia. The conference at Vienna in Westmorland's hands has been an instrument very injurious to peace. In your hands in London it would have been otherwise. . . . I am vexed about the last move, and you must not be surprised, if it is accepted at Vienna, if I were to decline any responsibility.
Two days afterwards he wrote to Lord Aberdeen—
The only hope I have is that Turkey may instantly reject such a proposal. But even that will not wipe away the shame of having made it. . . . It is unwise and unfair to propose again a note which his [the Sultan's] Ministers have declared they can none of them sign. All this makes me very uneasy; and, if the Austrians agree to Clarendon's terms, and forward them to Constantinople, I do not see how I can remain a member of your Government.
That evening Lord John spoke at a public meeting at Greenock, and he alluded to the crisis in terms which must have been much more intelligible to his colleagues, who read them, than to his audience, who listened to them—
While we endeavour to maintain peace, I certainly should be the last to forget that, if peace cannot be maintained with honour it is no longer peace.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, however, the publication of the Russian reasons for refusing the modified note convinced Lord John's colleagues that the declaration that the powers represented at Vienna understood the original note in the sense of the Turkish modifications could no longer justify its signature by the Porte. Such a declaration could only mean that these powers attached a sense to words different from that which Russia applied to them. Instead of terminating a dispute, it would have emphasised a variance of opinion. The project, in consequence, fell through, and Lord Aberdeen was able to announce to Lord John that it was at an end. He added—
The comical part of this affair is that the proceeding which you thought so unfavourable to the Turks, and which had nearly produced such serious consequences, was not only approved by Palmerston, but in great part written at his dictation.
But, though the new project had fallen, its proposal led Lord John to meditate on the whole proceeding, and on his own position in the Cabinet; and, when Lord Clarendon expressed to him the pain with which he had read his letter of September 17, Lord John replied on the 23rd—
The fatal facility of the electric telegraph led you and Lord Aberdeen and Lord Palmerston to take a step of which the best that can be said is that it has done no harm.
After remarking that he had not meant to write in an unfriendly tone, he added of his own position—
That which I have held this year has been, and is, and must be, a degrading one. I have deserved it, and I have borne it as I best could. Lord Aberdeen, by his kindness and good feeling, has done all in his power to make it tolerable. Still, on more than one occasion, I have had to summon all my patience to my aid. But you have made me feel my degradation more than I ever felt it before. You assumed that I was to be the chief organ for defending in the House of Commons that which I had no share in deciding, and of which I had previously recorded my disapproval. It was impossible that I could so lower myself, or that I should not feel the blow you had inflicted on me more than all the other humiliations I have endured. |
I am sure you did not see the matter in this light, and I make every allowance for the difficulty of your course. . . . Liberavi animam meam, and I hope never to revive the subject with you.— And so I remain, yours very truly, J. RUSSELL.
With the failure of the proposal Lord John felt that the necessity for his resignation had passed away. But, anxious and ill at ease, he determined to bring his stay at Roseneath to an abrupt conclusion, and to return to London. In the meanwhile he drew up an elaborate memorandum on the situation for circulation in the Cabinet:—
RUSSIA AND TURKEY.
The present situation of affairs makes it necessary to look back, around us, and forward. The question between Turkey and Russia is to be looked at, Ist, as one of right; 2nd, as one of power. In respect to right there can be no doubt in any honest mind. VOL. II. N
The Emperor of Russia protects the members of the Greek .
Church in the enjoyment of certain privileges at the Holy Places. The French Government claimed in virtue of treaty certain privileges inconsistent with those enjoyed for many years by the Greek Church. The Sultan hesitated, equivocated, and yielded to each alternately, as the pressure came from one or the other power. The Emperor of the French, with great generosity, made allowances for the Sultan's weakness, and acquiesced in his concessions to Russia without admitting their justice. The Emperor of Russia, on the contrary, not only demanded reparation and security, but transferred his grievance in respect of the Holy Places to all the subjects of the Porte of the Greek Church, thus assuming a right to protect not 12,000 pilgrims, but 12,000,000 Turkish subjects. . . . In point of right Russia must be put out of court. . . . Second, the question of power. It is evident that the great military force of Russia, always organised, makes her more than a match for Turkey. The treaties of Kainardji and Adrianople are documents proving this fact; it is admitted by Lord Stratford and every one else. It therefore became the duty of England and France, as good friends of the Sultan, to advise him to make greater concessions than he was in point of right at all called upon to make. . . . He has thought he could not make [these concessions], and Nesselrode has done much to justify his repugnance. On the other hand, he incurs the greatest danger of overthrow by Russian arms, the invasion of his provinces, and the capture of his capital. In his European provinces the Christians, being as five to one to the Mahometans, may join the invaders, or at least take the opportunity to throw off the yoke. What can England and France do to relieve him from this danger? They can scour the Black Sea in the spring and summer, and sweep away every Russian sail that may appear on it. . . . But Lord Stratford raises another question. . . . He says that, if the exclusion of Russia from the Protectorate and the Principalities be the important object it has hitherto been deemed, success can only be obtained if England and France are ready to stop at no sacrifice ready to secure it. This suggestion raises a much wider question. If England and France are to stop at no sacrifice necessary to secure success, they must become principals, not auxiliaries, in the war . . . [and]
employ their mighty resources at every point where Russia can be resisted or attacked. It is one thing to give aid to the Sultan in defence of his territorial and sovereign rights; . . . it is quite another to embark on SO VaSt a COnteSt. Before we do this, it would be necessary to explain to the Sultan very clearly for what objects we engage. Should it be to maintain the present Government of the European provinces of Turkey P Let us hear Lord Stratford's solemn language to Reshid Pacha. ‘I have frequently had occasion of late, and indeed for some years past, to bring to the knowledge of the Porte such atrocious instances of cruelty, rapine, and murder, as I have found with extreme concern in the Consular reports, exhibiting generally the disturbed and misgoverned condition of many parts of Roumelia, and calling loudly for redress from the Imperial Government. The character of these disorderly and brutal outrages may be said with truth to be in general that of Mussulman fanaticism, excited by cupidity and hatred, against the Sultan's Christian subjects. I will not say that my friendly and earnest representations have been entirely disregarded. On the contrary, I have sometimes had the satisfaction of being instrumental towards the suppression of crime, the alleviation of individual suffering, and the recall of incapable magistrates. But the evil, nevertheless, has not been permanently removed, and the effect of every partial check has been of short duration.’ Here is matter for serious reflection, outrages caused by “Mussulman fanaticism excited by cupidity and hatred against the Sultan's Christian subjects:’ existing in spite of the earnest representations of Lord Stratford; continued for many years, and in spite of the obvious interest of the Sultan to conciliate his Christian defenders. It is true we are promised that, if the present danger is averted, milder counsels will prevail, justice will be more fairly administered, and cruelty will be more sharply corrected. But how can we rely on such promises when we know that at the seat of government itself corruption gives a licence to the cruelty which ravages the provinces ! If the urgency of danger does not secure the Christians from oppression, will the ease of security ever do so? It is to be feared that Lord Stratford is building upon sand. His own eminent qualities have but partially succeeded in effecting improvements; can any man with less ability, less knowledge of Turkish character, less influence over the Divan, hope to do more ? I must conclude, therefore— 1. That, if Russia will not make peace on fair terms, we must appear in the field as the auxiliaries of Turkey. 2. That, if we are to act in conjunction with France as principals in the war, we must act not for the Sultan, but for the general interests of the population of European Turkey. How and in what way requires much further consideration, and concert possibly with Austria, certainly with France. J. RUSSELL. October 4, 1854. This remarkable memorandum defined Lord John's views with precision. While he had hitherto, in company with Lord Palmerston, been foremost in the Cabinet in resisting Russian aggression, unlike Lord Palmerston, he was not prepared to support the Porte against its Christian subjects. In the meanwhile, the pacific section of the Cabinet was desirous of making one more effort to avert the war, on which Turkey had already entered. Lord Aberdeen desired to draw up a new note, which the four powers should present to the Porte, accompanying it with a declaration that, while its acceptance by the Porte could not fail to secure for it a more decided support from the allies, they could not permit themselves to be drawn by unfounded objections to it into a policy inconsistent with the peace of Europe. The objections which Lord Palmerston felt to this declaration have been already published." Lord John's objections to it were equally strong: and it was in consequence abandoned. So far it seemed desirable to follow the course of this negotiation. In the meanwhile another subject had been discussed in the Cabinet which had even a more direct reference to Lord John. In August, when it seemed probable that the Russian acceptance cf the Vienna Note had terminated every difficulty, Lord Aberdeen told Lord John that the time had arrived for carrying out his intention of retiring in Lord John's favour. On submitting the matter, however, to his other colleagues, he found that many of them “would not entertain