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Lhuys. Lord Palmerston, however, thought that further reference should be made to the Emperor for his final views on the proposal before us. What happened in the interval which then ensued I am not able precisely to say." I know that Lord Cowley used his utmost efforts to induce the Emperor not to adopt the advice of his Minister. It is said that Lord Palmerston employed very strong language through Count Walewski to the same purpose. What I know is that on Friday morning I heard from Count Walewski the contents of a telegraphic despatch from M. Drouyn de Lhuys informing the Ambassador that the Emperor refused to accept the Austrian propositions, and recurred to the conditions communicated to Russia at the Conferences of Vienna.
the details of the arrangement, but agreed to its details as modified. Here is M. Drouyn de Lhuy's account :
Particulière et confidentielle] MON CHER Co-PLÉNIPOTENTIAIRE,-Je maudirais l'interruption des conférences, si elle me privait du droit et du plaisir de m'entretenir directement avec VOuS. J'ai euce matin avec l'Empereur une conversation de trois heures. Voici une rédaction modifiée que j'ai faite sousses yeux et qui a son entière approbation. Sous cette forme Sa Majesté est prête à accepter l'arrangement. Cette nouvelle forme conserve toutes les garanties officielles, évite la désagréable mention du statu quo ante bellum, et consacre l'alliance perpetuelle de l'Autriche, pour défendre la Turquie contre les aggressions par terre ou par mer. Je ne prévois pas d'ailleurs d'objection sérieuse de la part de l'Autriche, dont cette rédaction ménage les scrupules. Je suis plus que jamais dans les idées que je vous exprimais à Vienne, et dans lesquelles je vous voyais vous-même me marquer la voie. Je compte avec une ferme confiance sur votre puissante action pour les faire prévaloir. Créer à l'ambition russe un éternel ennemi, n'est-ce doncrien : —Yours very sincerely, DROUYN DE LHUYS.
J'envoie à Walewski cette nouvelle rédaction. Je vous laisse juger de la mesure dans laquelle vous croirez convenable de parler de la communication confidentielle que je vous fais.
Lord John replied—
MY DEAR COLLEAGUE,-I congratulate you on the successful interview you had with the Emperor. This plan has been made much more simple and less objectionable. . . . We shall, however, deliberate and decide to-day upon the propositions of your Government. It is the highest satisfaction to me that we have agreed and, I trust, shall continue to agree upon the great principles upon which the future system of Europe is to be established.
* The curious on this point may satisfy their curiosity by referring to Mr. Kinglake's account, Hist, of Crimean War, vol. viii. p. 346, seq.
M. Drouyn de Lhuys at once tendered his resignation to the Emperor, and thus announced it to Lord John :—
MY DEAR LORD JOHN,-Ce n'est plus comme votre collègue que je reçois la lettre que vous m'avez fait l’honneur de m'écrire hier, but as a private individual, car j'ai donné ce matin ma démission à l'Empereur, J'espère que vous me permettrez, sous ce nouveau titre, de continuer à vous exprimer quelque fois mes sentimens de haute considération et d’attachement sincère.
PARIs: 5 Mai, 1855. DROUYN DE LHUYS.
Lord John thereupon wrote to Lord Clarendon—
PEMBROKE LoDGE: May 6, 1855.
MY DEAR CLARENDON,-I was at Panmure's when your box arrived here, and did not get back till past eight. I am very much concerned at the removal or resignation of Drouyn. I cannot separate myself from him ; and, having taken at Vienna the same view which he did, his resignation entails mine. I am very sorry for this, and wished to avoid it. But I have in some measure got Drouyn into this scrape, for at first he was disposed to advise the Emperor to insist on a limitation of ships, and I induced him not to give any advice at all to the Emperor. Afterwards we agreed very much ; and, if he had stayed in office there, I might have gulped, though with difficulty, the rejection of my advice here. However, I shall wait till Colloredo has made a definite proposal, and then make the opinion I shall give upon it in the Cabinet a vital question with me. It is painful to me to leave a second Cabinet, and will injure my reputation—perhaps irretrievably. But I see no other course. Do as you please about communicating to Palmerston what I have written. I fear I must leave to you and Hammond to judge of the papers to be given. . . . But I hope you will not tie your hands or those of the Government by giving arguments against what the nation may ultimately accept. I hold that a simple provision, by which the Sultan would reserve the power to admit the vessels of powers not having establishments in the Black Sea, through the Straits at his own pleasure at all times, . . . and a general treaty of European alliance to defend Turkey against Russia, would be a good security for peace. If the Emperor of the French were to declare that he could not accept such a peace, of course we must stick by him, but that does not prevent our declaring to him our opinion. Walewski spoke to me very strongly at the Palace in favour of the Austrian plan, but I suppose he has now made up his mind against it.—I remain, yours truly, J. RUSSELL. Lord Clarendon replied— G[RosvENOR] C[RESCENT]: May 7, 1855. MY DEAR LORD JOHN,— . . . I am very sorry you did not come in just now, as I wanted most particularly to see you. I now write this earnestly to entreat that you will say nothing to anybody at present about your intended resignation. The public interests and your own position are so involved in the question, and so much harm of every kind may be done by a hasty decision, however honourable and high-minded the motives may be, that I do beg of you well to weigh all the points of the case; and let me frankly add that you will not act with fairness, and as I am sure you must wish to act, towards your colleagues, if you do not hear what some of them may have to say. As you allowed me to do as I pleased about informing Palmerston, I did not think it right to leave him in the dark upon a matter which seems to me of vital importance. I need not tell you that your intention causes him the deepest regret, and he feels as I do how essential it is that nothing should be known of it at present. We are not even in possession of the facts that led to Drouyn’s resignation.—Yours sincerely, CLARENDON.
Moved by this appeal, and by Lord Palmerston's personal entreaties, thrice repeated, Lord John withdrew his resignation. Its withdrawal, however convenient it may have seemed to the Government at the time, was one of the most unfortunate circumstances in Lord John's political career. It directly led to misunderstandings and to obloquy, such as few public men have ever encountered.
It was obvious, in fact, that Lord John could only continue in the Cabinet by surrendering his own opinions. As he himself wrote—
I was ready to incur the responsibility of advising the acceptance of the terms proposed in conjunction with the French Government. But I was not prepared to advise that we should depart from or even hazard our alliance with France for the chance of a peace on terms which I could not consider entirely satisfactory. . . . Moreover, it was impossible for me to know the full weight of the motives which might have swayed the Emperor. The immediate result of our acceptance of the Austrian terms might have been the instant acquiescence of Russia, and the consequent evacuation of the Crimea. How would the French army have borne a retreat from before Sebastopol, relinquishing a siege which had cost so much blood and so much suffering ? Might not the discontent of the army have disturbed the internal tranquillity of France, and even menaced the throne of the Emperor ? The Emperor of the French had been to us the most faithful ally who had ever wielded the sceptre or ruled the destinies of France. Was it possible for the English Government to leave the Emperor of the French to fight unaided the battle of Europe, or to force him to join us in a peace which would have sunk his reputation with his army and his people * This consideration struck me with such conviction that I ceased at once from urging Lord Palmerston and Lord Clarendon or the Cabinet to accept the Austrian terms. Lord Clarendon's reply rejecting those conditions was agreed to and despatched.
Though Lord John does not say so in this memorandum, it is evident that he must have become acquainted through Lord Cowley with the famous answer which Marshal Vaillant had given to the Emperor in Lord Cowley's presence:—
I am not a politician [said Vaillant], but I know the feelings of the army. I am sure that if, after having spent months in the siege of Sebastopol, we return unsuccessful, the army will not be satisfied."
Thenceforward Lord John ceased to press on his colleagues a policy which—if Marshal Vaillant was right—might have led to the disaffection of the army on which the Emperor's throne was dependent. He felt that, anxious as he had been at Vienna for terms which would have ranged Austria with the allies, he could not purchase the help of Austria by breaking up the alliance with France. In his own words—
From that moment it appeared to me that, unless Austria should
offer terms more acceptable to the Emperor of the French . . . we had no course left but to pursue the war with the utmost vigour.
The decision at which Lord John had thus arrived was perfectly intelligible to those who had all the facts before
* Kinglake's Crimea, viii. 348.
them. But it had the fatal defect that it could not be defended without a complete knowledge of the surrounding circumstances: and that the chief of these circumstances—the reluctance of the Emperor of the French to risk the discontent of his army—could not by any possibility be explained to a popular assembly. And this impossibility, which Lord John ought undoubtedly to have foreseen, when, in an unfortunate hour for himself, he yielded to Lord Clarendon's and Lord Palmerston's counsels and withdrew his resignation, soon involved him in an inextricable dilemma. On May 24, Mr. Disraeli brought forward a resolution condemning both the language and the conduct of the Government, and pledging the House to the prosecution of the war. A large portion of his speech was occupied in commenting, with all the power of sarcasm at his command, on the conduct of Lord John both as Minister and Plenipotentiary; and, at the close of the evening, Lord John himself rose to defend his own action and the policy of the Government. He stated, as he was perfectly entitled to state, the reasons for the securities which the allies had demanded. He omitted—he could not have avoided omitting—all reference to the proposal which he had himself brought home from Austria, and which had not been disclosed; and he argued strongly for curbing the power of Russia, and going on with the war. The speech made a great effect in London, and is said to have swelled the majority by which Mr. Disraeli was defeated on the succeeding evening; and the House adjourned for a short Whitsuntide recess, relying on the warlike policy of the Government, and on the vigorous language of Lord John. The speech, however, made a very different impression at Vienna. Count Buol determined to give his own version of the story, and, of course, in doing so was free from the considerations respecting the French Emperor which had influenced Lord John. He issued a circular to the representatives of Austria at foreign Courts, in which he disclosed for the first time the proposals which he had himself made for the termination of the dispute, and added—