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crucible to be melted down and recast at pleasure. Success in such a war might be even more fatal than defeat; and it became consequently in the highest degree impolitic for this country to move at all.
On the resumption of hostilities, therefore, Denmark found herself alone. Beaten to her knees, she had no alternative but submission; and she had to consent to the disruption on which her formidable antagonists insisted as the price of peace.
Lord Russell himself announced the failure of the con. ference on June 27 in a speech in which he traced at some length the history of the dispute and of the negotiation. He added
I conceive that in honour we are in no way engaged to take part in the present war.
Although it has been stated to the contrary on the part of Denmark more than once, there has been at no time any pledge given on the part of this country or [of] her Majesty's Government promising material assistance to Denmark in this contest. Three times her Majesty's Government during the period I have held the seals of the Foreign Office have endeavoured to induce Denmark to accept propositions which we regarded as favourable to her interests ... My Lords, I do not blame Denmark for the course she has thought fit to pursue. She has a right ... she has an undoubted right, to refuse our propositions ; but we on our side have also a right to take into consideration the duty, honour, and interests of this country, and not to make that duty, that honour, and those interests, subordinate to interests of any foreign power whatever.
This explanation did not perhaps satisfy either the Opposition or the public. Resolutions censuring the conduct of the Ministry were proposed in both Houses. The motion in the Lords, which afforded Lord Russell another opportunity of restating his case, was carried against the Government by a majority of nine. The motion in the Commons was rejected by a majority twice as large, or of eighteen. On the day of this division Lord Russell wrote to Lord Cowley, the British Minister at Paris
FOREIGN OFFICE : July 9, 1864. MY DEAR COWLEY,–We have done better than could be expected in both Houses, and I trust the Foreign Ministers will now see that
they had better keep on good terms with us and not expect the Tories to walk into my room.
I trust the Danes and Germans will now make peace, leaving the Danes free from German interference, and giving the Germans over to German rule. This is the only way to a permanent settlement. If the Germans try to bully the Danes in their own country there will be another revolution hereafter.
I am very glad we have not given in to the temptation of a war between France and Germany. The French, if they get an inch, will certainly take an ell.—Yours truly,
RUSSELL. The transaction which has been briefly related in this chapter is one of the most complicated matters recorded in history. The facts are so involved, the merits of the dispute are so confused, that it is difficult to make them intelligible or to pronounce a confident opinion upon them. During the earlier phases of the dispute, Lord Russell, satisfied that neither party to the quarrel was free from blame, had endeavoured to induce each of them partially to give way. Later in 1863 he had urged Denmark to repeal the Ordinance of March and the Constitution of November; he had desired Germany to separate the question of Holstein from the question of Schleswig; to be satisfied with redressing a German grievance and to cease to intervene in a Scandinavian kingdom. Later still, when armies were moving, and the operations of war were superseding the despatches of diplomacy, he had endeavoured, notwithstanding the reluctance of the Court and the opposition of some of his colleagues, to obtain adequate support. But, while in February 1864 he hesitated to embark single-handed in a contest with the two great powers of Central Europe, in July 1864 he refused the help which he could then have procured at the price at which alone he could have obtained it. Even the partition of Denmark seemed preferable to a war which would have involved the Continent from the Baltic to the Adriatic, and have perhaps shifted every landmark in the map of Europe. The price of success was so high that he preferred to incur the penalty of failure. The absorption of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany was a lesser evil than the incorporation of the Rhenish Provinces in France.
The conduct of this negotiation, however, did not tend to maintain the reputation which Lord Russell had previously secured from the success of his Italian policy. Those who judged by the event, without measuring the difficulties to be overcome, saw that the Minister who had done so much to promote Italian unity had failed to preserve the integrity of Denmark; while, for the second time in his life, Lord Russell was precluded by his duty from stating the real causes of his failure. Just as, after the conference at Vienna, he could not proclaim that he abandoned his own proposal because Napoleon thought that its adoption would cost him his throne, so after the London conference he could not assert that he gave up war for Denmark because he found that it would involve the whole of Europe in a conflagration.
On both occasions men who were imperfectly informed found fault with Lord Russell. A writer, who had no special source of information, but who had watched his struggles for Italy with satisfaction, perhaps more truly appreciated his character. Mr. Hamilton Aidé wrote
TO ONE ASPERSED.
Speak to the nation ;
Each accusation ;
All who accuse thee ;
Lies that abuse thee;
Of a base man can never teach,
Ignoble could ever reach.
'Twas striving to fight with them;
Than stand upright with them.
God of the fickle crowd,
One little day—no more ;
PRIME MINISTER AGAIN.
It is now time to retrace our steps and relate the progress domestic politics during the years in which Lord Russell's attention was so largely occupied with the affairs of Italy, of Denmark, of America, and other countries.
On the conclusion of the session of 1861, Lord Russell took his family down to Abergeldie, where for a second time he became the Prince Consort's tenant. He stayed there for some six weeks, and in October turned southwards, passing a few days at Edinburgh, a few more at Minto and Bishop Wearmouth-where his son-in-law, Mr. Villiers, held a curacy—and at Gibside. During his short visit to Gibside Lord Russell was presented with addresses by the inhabitants of Sunderland and Newcastle, and was entertained at a large banquet in the latter town. In replying to the address he used Conservative language.
The nature of our institutions and the genius of our people, while they sanction and promote the utmost freedom of discussion, are adverse to needless change ; and it therefore behoves every friend of progress to wait with patience and to argue with calmness, till public opinion is fully convinced, and the national mind puts its seal on the measures introduced into the Legislature.
In his after-dinner speech he thus defined the characteristics of the legislation in which he had taken so prominent a part :
i The seat of Mr. (afterwards Sir W.) Hutt.