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hopeless. At the same time he looks to their power of carrying into effect a system of internal improvement—particularly in the essential branches of justice, revenue, roads, police, and military defence. I do not believe that any power, at this time, entertains the intention of overthrowing the Turkish Empire, but it is certainly true that any quarrel might lead to this event ; or, as Lord Stratford says, it might take place without such a deliberate intention on the part of any one of these powers. We ought by all means to keep ourselves perfectly independent, and free to act as circumstances may require. Above all, we ought not to trust the disposal of the Mediterranean fleet—which is peace or war—to the discretion of any man.
Before Lord Stratford reached Constantinople, Prince Mentschikoff arrived at the Porte on a special mission from the Czar. His first action, in refusing to call on Fuad Pacha, the Foreign Minister, led to a ministerial crisis in Turkey; and the excitement was such that Colonel Rose—the chargé d'affaires at the Porte—was induced to send for the British fleet. Fortunately the Admiral refused to comply with Colonel Rose's demands without special instructions from home." Fortunately, too, Lord Stratford on his arrival was able to settle the dispute about the Churches. But he soon learned that Prince Mentschikoff was the bearer of a much larger demand for the acknowledgment by the Porte of the right of Russia to protect the Greek Church and its members in Turkey. Lord Stratford thought such a demand inadmissible, and urged the Porte to reject it. The Sultan mustered courage to act on his advice, and Prince Mentschikoff and the whole of his suite left Constantinople. The crisis which had thus occurred brought Russia and Turkey to the brink of war, but it did not apparently necessitate the forcible interference of this country. Except, indeed, for the single consideration that the Porte had acted on the advice of Lord Stratford, and that the Ministry had approved its Ambassador's counsel, it was difficult to see how any British interest could be affected by the claim of Russia to protect * Ministers had already so little confidence in Lord Stratford's discretion, that Lord Clarendon wrote to Lord Aberdeen (March 18, 1853), ‘One good thing of Rose having sent for the fleet will be that Lord Stratford will wish to be withthe members of the Greek Church who were subject to the Sultan. No doubt the warlike measures to which Prince Mentschikoff's departure pointed affected England a little more closely. The first cannon shot seemed not unlikely to shiver the frail fragments of Ottoman rule; and the Ministry was aware, from the famous conversation which Sir George Seymour had had with the Czar, that his Imperial Majesty already contemplated the partition of the Turkish Empire. The Czar's intentions, however, made much less impression on the minds of Lord Aberdeen and his colleagues than they produced—when published at a later date—on the British people. They made little impression on Lord Aberdeen, because eight years before the Czar had addressed him in similar language; and Lord Aberdeen had recorded his remarks without protest in the Foreign Office. They made little impression on Lord John because Sir George Seymour, in reporting them, had privately told him that he believed the Emperor on the whole to be in favour of maintaining the existing order or disorder in Turkey. At that time there were two courses by which peace might in all probability have been preserved. The Ministry might have said to the Porte, “If war ensue, England will be no party to it.' Such language, used plainly and without reservation, would probably have forced the Sultan to make terms with Russia. Or, again, it might have said to the Czar, “If war ensue, England will at once range herself as Turkey's ally.” Such language would, in all probability, have induced the Emperor to pause. If Lord Aberdeen had been supreme in the Cabinet, he would perhaps have taken the first of these courses; if Lord John and Lord Palmerston had been uncontrolled, they would have taken the second of them. But, while the presence of Lord John and Lord Palmerston made it impossible for Lord Aberdeen to take the one course, the presence of Lord Aberdeen made it impracticable for Lord John and Lord Palmerston to take the other. It resulted, therefore, that the Ministry, as a whole, had no firm mind on the matter; and, while the ship of State was drifting without clear direction, the tiller was grasped by Lord Stratford, and the vessel steered into the whirlpool of war.
If the Ministry, as a whole, spoke with an uncertain voice, there was no doubt about Lord John's opinions. Writing to Lord Clarendon on the 20th of March, he said—
The Emperor of Russia is clearly bent on accomplishing the destruction of Turkey, and he must be resisted.
While, in a second letter on the same day, he wrote—
The vast preparations at Sebastopol show a foregone purpose, and that purpose is, I fear, to extinguish the Turkish Empire. . . . In case I am right in this conjecture the crisis is very serious. My own opinion is that, in case of the invasion of Turkey by Russia on any pretence, we ought to send a message to Petersburg, and demand the evacuation of the Turkish territory, and, in case of refusal, to enforce this demand both in the Baltic as well as in the Dardanelles.
We should of course enter into concert with France.
When news reached London that Prince Mentschikoff had withdrawn from Constantinople, Lord John declared on the 31st of May, writing to the same correspondent, that it was
absolutely necessary that the fleet at Malta should go at once to Vourla, and that orders for this purpose should go to-night or tomorrow at latest.
And three weeks later, while the Cabinet was still drifting, Lord John made a serious effort to give point and precision to British policy. In a long memorandum, he endeavoured to forecast the future and to prepare for it. Thus he Wrote :
On the whole, supposing peace not to be made during the Russian occupation of the Principalities, three separate stages of suspense and conflict appear to be approaching. 1. While Russia holds the Principalities, and persists in her present demand. 2. While Russia, having invaded Turkey, is marching on Constantinople. 3. When Russia, having taken Constantinople, is setting forth terms of peace, distinguished by ‘moderation.’ Our policy in the first case is already decided on. . . . In the second stage we must, I conceive, aid the Sultan in defending his capital and his throne. In the third stage we must be prepared to make war on Russia herself. In that contest we ought to seek the alliance of France and Austria. France would willingly join ; and England and France together might, if it were worth while, obtain the moral weight, if not the material influence, of Austria in their favour. It is not necessary to point out how this might be done.
J. RUSSELL. June 19, 1853.
Right or wrong, Lord John had evidently a policy, and was prepared to act on it. His memorandum had the effect of eliciting the opinions of the five most important members of the Cabinet. Lord Clarendon simply expressed his concurrence with Lord John both as to the ‘stages' that were approaching and the modes of dealing with them. Lord Lansdowne thought that any further invasion of Turkey by Russia should be regarded as a ground for war by England and France; that this opinion should at once be intimated to Russia, and that Russia should at the same time be informed that, in the event of any catastrophe, England would consider the Greek nation the natural heir of the Mahometan power. Such an intimation, he thought, would make Russia pause a good while before it ventured on move the second. Sir James Graham was inclined very much to agree with Lord Lansdowne, but, at the same time, thought it undesirable to decide beforehand on any policy. Lord Palmerston agreed with Sir James Graham that there was no use in determining on a policy till the contingency contemplated had arisen ; but, in the meanwhile, he was in favour of compelling Russia to evacuate the Principalities by the force of remonstrance and demonstration. Lord Aberdeen was averse from indulging in warlike speculations, and wished to preserve his freedom to act at the proper time as wisdom and our true interests might dictate.
It was the natural consequence of these divergent opinions that no intimation was sent to the Czar of the probable policy of England. In July Lord Palmerston, during Lord John's temporary absence from the Cabinet, made one more effort for securing a stronger policy.
C[arlton] G[ardens] : July 7, 1853.
My dear John Russell,—. . . I tried again to persuade the Cabinet to send the squadrons up to the Bosphorus, but failed ; I was told that Stratford and La Cour have power to call for them. This is no doubt stated in public despatches, but we all know that he has been privately desired not to do so. I think our position, waiting timidly and submissively at the back door while Russia is violently threatening and arrogantly forcing her way into the house, is unwise with a view to a peaceful settlement, and derogatory to the character and standing and dignity of the two powers. . . . We cannot deny that the presence of our squadrons in the Bosphorus would greatly encourage the Porte, greatly discourage insur. rections in any part of Turkey, and greatly tend to make the Emperor pause. . . . Words may properly be answered by words, but acts should be replied to by acts ; and the entrance of the Russians as invaders into the Turkish territory ought to be followed and replied to by the entrance of the squadrons into the Bosphorus. . . . Yours sincerely, PALMERSTON.
Bold advice, which, if it had been taken, would have at once made this country an avowed principal in the quarrel, and might possibly, even at the eleventh hour, have induced the Czar to pause. But advice which there was no chance of the Cabinet adopting. For Lord Aberdeen was labouring for peace: and, though he was not strong enough to enforce his own policy on his colleagues, he was able to withstand the counsels of those who would have made ready for battle.
It so happened that the abstinence from any warlike movement in July was of the less importance because, almost for the first time, a fair prospect existed of terminating the dispute by negotiation. The four neutral powers agreed on what was afterwards known as the Vienna Note, which they determined on presenting for simultaneous acceptance both at Petersburg and at Constantinople. Lord John formed a strong opinion that the Turks should be allowed no discretion in the matter. The Turks, so he thought, should be plainly told that they ‘must' sign the note. Lord Stratford, so he urged, should receive positive instructions to that effect; if Lord Stratford hesitated, these orders must be repeated and enforced ; and Turkey must be distinctly told that if she did not choose to accept the Austrian note, both in words and substance, we could no longer aid her in her contest with Russia. He wrote to Lord Clarendon on the 20th of July–
The Emperor [of Russia] should be allowed to choose the French