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formally defined the object of the war, and had subsequently elaborated the protocol drawn up for the purpose into four conditions or points. These famous points as they were originally framed were shortly as follows: (1) The protectorate which Russia had hitherto exercised over the Principalities was to be replaced by a collective guarantee; (2) the navigation of the mouths of the Danube was to be freed from all impediments; (3) the Treaty of 1841 was to be revised in the interests of the European equilibrium ; and (4) Russia was to renounce all official protectorate over the Sultan's subjects of whatever religion. In the latter half of November 1854, the Czar, in consequence of Prussian advice, offered to accept these four points as the basis of peace. The offer induced the allies to define their meaning a little more exactly. In particular, they declared that the revision of the Treaty of 1841, under the third point, involved the termination of Russian preponderance in the Black Sea. This declaration did not induce Russia to recede from the negotiation. On the contrary, though the meaning of the allies was distinctly pointed out in a memorandum prepared by Baron Bourqueney, the French Ambassador at Vienna, and handed to Prince Gortchakoff, the formal offer to treat was renewed.
It was foreseen, when Lord John left England, that the third point was likely to cause the chief difficulty; it was doubted whether Russia was sincere in her offer, and whether she was not striving merely to gain time, and give Austria an excuse for not actively joining the allies. In consequence of this doubt Lord John was instructed, at the outset, to get Baron Bourqueney's memorandum embodied in a protocol and signed by all the Plenipotentiaries. This preliminary object secure, Lord John was instructed to take the four points in their natural order,
Lord John had hardly arrived at Vienna before he was brought face to face with the difficulties which he had to
1 I use the word because Lord John was, of course, furnished with instructions from Lord Clarendon. But, in preparing these instructions, the Ministry was mainly guided by Lord John's own advice.
encounter. In some preliminary conversations which he had with Count Buol, the Austrian Minister, the talk naturally turned on the difficult third point. Lord John declared that the true way of terminating the preponderance of Russia in the Black Sea was to limit the force which she should be entitled to maintain to (say) four ships of the line. Count Buol, on the contrary, contended that the object could be secured by a counterpoise, or in other words by authorising the allies to maintain in the Black Sea a force equal to that kept up by Russia. He added that, though he was willing to adopt Lord John's proposal as the best and most practicable arrangement, “if the Russian Ministers positively declined to accede to such a condition, he should be ready to discuss other means of carrying the third point into effect. Lord John, therefore, before he entered the Conference, was aware that, while the third point was likely to occasion the most difficulty, he could not rely on the support of Austria in the negotiation upon it.
The next few days revealed further difficulties. Lord John had been specially instructed to obtain the incorporation of Baron Bourqueney's memorandum in a protocol; and he believed, on leaving London, that the Austrian Minister would give his willing assent to its insertion in the first protocol.' He had not been at Vienna a week before he found Count Buol would do nothing of the kind.
He thought the proposal to record in a protocol the four bases might naturally be objected to by the Russian Plenipotentiaries ;
. , that, the demur being on a point of form, those who raised the point of form would be accounted responsible by the public opinion of Europe ; that, on the part of Austria, he was not ready to accept such responsibility. He offered, however, in opening the Conference, to state the bases of the negotiation in terms which were consistent with Baron Bourqueney's memorandum; and, as the Count's speech would of course be embodied in a protocol, Lord John telegraphed for leave, and the Cabinet unanimously consented, to accept this alternative.
The attitude which Austria was thus assuming caused some disappointment both to Lord John and to his colleagues in London. Lord John, however, had reason to be satisfied with the general language held by Count Buol; and he was determined not to break from Austria on a matter which was after all only one of form. His colleagues, in assenting to his recommendation, declared that they were influenced in doing so by their reliance on himself, and they acknowledged with gratitude the great advantage which they derived from reading his despatches, which Lord Clarendon declared were "admirable both as narratives and guides.'
The work which had been done at Vienna had hitherto been merely preliminary. But on March 15 the Conference was formally opened. Count Buol, in his introductory remarks, fulfilled his promise of clearly and satisfactorily defining the bases of negotiation; the French and English Plenipotentiaries reserved to themselves the right of requiring other stipulations, should the interests of Europe necessitate them; and the Plenipotentiaries proceeded to the discussion of the first point. No serious difficulty arose upon it; and during three sittings on March 15, 17, and 19, the substance and form of the protocols, determining the affairs of the Principalities, were definitely settled.
Even this progress was not obtained without difficulty. On the eve of the Conference, the Turkish Ambassador at Vienna told Lord John that 'he felt embarrassed by the absence of detailed instructions from his Court.' Lord John, in reporting the conversation to Lord Clarendon, said that the Porte might safely leave to its allies to watch over its interests, and that, at any rate, it could not be too soon undeceived, if it entertains, and is prepared to act upon, the opinion that it is at liberty to protract the negotiations as may best suit its habitual indolence, or any ulterior objects which it may have in view.' But, though Lord John was personally prepared to proceed without the presence of a duly instructed Plenipotentiary from the Porte, he had good cause to regret the absence of the information which would in this way have
been available. And he had soon reason to suspect that the absence of a properly credited Turk was not due to the dilatory character of the Porte alone, but to the perverse action of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. Lord Stratford was specially instructed by Lord Clarendon to keep Lord John constantly informed of everything; he did nothing of the kind. Lord Clarendon wrote, on March 28–
It is too bad of Stratford not to have written to you, and not to have sent you a proper Turk, for I begged him to do both. ... But it's just like him. He never will help anybody else, and will always thwart any business which is not carried on at Constantinople, where he can have the principal finger in the pie. 1 While on the same day Lord John wrote to Lord Clarendon
Ali Pacha does not set out for ten days from the day Stratford wrote ; at least he will not be surprised.' Not a word more from him to me, though I wrote to him from London. If you will recall him you will do the public great service. 2 And Lord Clarendon replied on April 3
I am sure that Stratford is the cause of your not having the assistance of a Turkish Plenipotentiary; but, if you will look at the enclosed extracts from my letters to him and their dates, you will find that he had sufficient notice as well as indication of our wishes. Nevertheless, I yesterday got a letter from him dated 19th ult., in which he says that Ali Pacha will probably go in four or five days; that he had not thought it right to prevent his departure, but that he heartily wished he was not going.
1 Writing officially on March 26, Lord John said: 'A conference upon the third point is to be held to-day. I cannot but lament that, while subjects vitally affecting the Turkish Empire are under consideration, her Majesty's Plenipotentiaries and the Conference have not the assistance of a Turkish ambassador fully informed of the views of his Court. The Sublime Porte, as I am informed, has never been taught to look on these negotiations as serious. I am sorry that her Majesty's Ambassador in Turkey should not have been aware of this misconception of our character and our intentions.'
2 Lord Stratford's words were: "The Porte has been invited to send an additional Plenipotentiary to Vienna, and I should not be surprised if Ali Pacha or some other Minister of distinction were selected for the duty, though I know not whether the suggestion is seriously entertained at present.'
There is no pleasure, in writing the life of a great man, in commenting on the shortcomings of the persons with whom he was directly or indirectly associated. But, to form a correct judgment on the Vienna Conference, it is at least necessary to understand the difficulties with which the British representative had to deal. And these difficulties cannot be thoroughly appreciated without some reference to the conduct of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe.
But, in the meanwhile, other embarrassments were arising. The Plenipotentiaries, having arrived at an agreement on the first point, were proceeding to the consideration of the other bases, and forwarding the protocols on which they had already agreed to their respective Governments. The second point was easily settled. The 23rd of March was fixed for the discussion of the third and crucial point. But the difficulties connected with it, which had been partially dwarfed by distance, looked larger as the discussion came nearer. The representatives of the allies were instructed not to agree to the Austrian project of counterpoise; Prince Gortchakoff frankly admitted that he would not consent to the AngloFrench proposal of limitation ; and Count Buol, anxious to compromise the dispute, suggested to Lord John that Russia should be asked to maintain no greater force in the Black Sea than she had at that time. Lord John, writing on March 21, and again on the 23rd, strongly recommended the British Government to accept this compromise. The object of Russia, he argued, was to separate the allies from Austria. The object of the allies, therefore, should be to continue acting with Austria; and if Austria proposed the compromise, and undertook to stand by it, it should in his judgment be adopted.
Lord John's first despatch to this effect was received in London on the 24th; and he could easily have received a telegraphic reply on March 25. No such reply came. But on the 26th a message was sent by telegraph to say that the Ministry approved a project for neutralising the Black Sea which had been forwarded from Paris to Baron Bourqueney;