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as you will have learnt by the telegraph. It has this advantage, that any other Secretary of State may perform the functions of the office till I return from Vienna. I feel with you that, however small may be the hope of peace, I should not be justified in abandoning the mission now, and that the benevolent, as well as the malevolent, might say afterwards that a chance of peace was thrown away to satisfy party exigencies. But, while I do this from my own sense of duty, I hope you will not ask me to connive at a waste of time at Vienna, in order to postpone the inevitable discussion on the third point. My view is that the first and second points should be previously discussed, but only in general terms to see if agreement is likely. And the same course may be taken with regard to the
third point. . . . All speculation, however, may be closed by Gortchakoff’s refusal to sign the protocol. . . .—Yours truly, J. R.
Lord Palmerston replied—
DownING STREET : February 24, 1855.
MY DEAR JOHN RUSSELL,—We are all delighted with your answer to our proposal. Your accession will give universal satisfaction to the Liberal party, and beyond measure strengthen the Government. . . .
While Mr. John Abel Smith wrote—
BELGRAVE SQUARE: February 25, 1855.
MY DEAR LORD JOHN,—Lord Palmerston sent for me early this morning, and showed me your telegraphic message of yesterday. I have never seen any one so thoroughly pleased and relieved as he seemed to be. He walked about the room as if he was treading on air. He seemed to appreciate—as he ought— your self-sacrifice, and spoke of your magnanimity in just and well-deserved terms of praise. You have seized a happy moment to prove that your recent conduct had no tinge of personal interest in it. You have saved Lord Palmerston's Government, and secured the tenure of power to the Liberal party. I trust the House of Commons and the country will do you justice. I have been into the City, and, as far as I can judge, there is but one feeling of hearty approval of your acceptance of office, and I see no reason to fear the slightest trouble or opposition in your reelection. . . . Your writ will be moved on Monday. . . .—I am, my dear Lord John, most faithfully yours, J. A. SMITH.
On the day after that on which he accepted the Colonial Office, Lord John left Paris for Brussels. There he had an important interview with the King of the Belgians, who gave him valuable information about the views of the Prussian, Russian, and Austrian Courts. On the following day he set out for Berlin, arriving there on the morning of the last day of February. During the three days he stayed in Prussia he had interviews with Baron Manteuffel, the Prussian Minister, the King, and the Prince of Prussia (the Emperor William). During the same time he received news, which could not but have an important effect on his mission, of the sudden illness and death of the Emperor Nicholas.
It was Lord John's object in going to Berlin to withdraw Prussia from the isolated position in which she has
unfortunately placed herself by the narrow view which she has taken of her position and duties as a great power.
He had not been in Berlin twenty-four hours before he found that this object was impossible.
The King holds in his hands the direction of the whole of the foreign policy of his kingdom. Baron Manteuffel, and various other instruments, official and non-official, are taken up and laid aside, supported or disavowed, exactly as the King pleases. Nor is there any man in Prussia who seems to have sufficient independence of mind to resent the manner in which he is flatly contradicted or quietly dismissed. It seems to be the King’s special object to refrain from taking any part in the present war. He has no partiality for Russia as a power. He has no sympathy with the cause which the allies have undertaken to uphold.
The Prince of Prussia, on the following day, used firmer and clearer language. But Lord John saw that the decision was with the King and not with the Prince; and accordingly, without even troubling himself to present his credentials, he set out for Vienna, where he arrived on March 4, where he was met at the station by the Emperor of Austria's own carriage, and where Lady John and his children joined him
a few days afterwards. The Western powers, in the course of the summer, had 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 instrucencounter. 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.
tions from Lord Clarendon. But, in preparing these instructions, the Ministry was mainly guided by Lord John's own advice.
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 Polte, he had good cause to regret the absence of the information which would in this way have