« EdellinenJatka »
engagements which Russia made in 1815 had not been fulfilled; it pointed out that, whatever might be the final issue of the present contest, it could only be reached after a calamitous effusion of blood; it declared that the disturbances perpetually breaking out in Poland ‘necessarily produce a serious agitation of opinion in other countries of Europe, and might, under possible circumstances, lead to complications of the most serious nature;’ and it concluded by urging the Russian Government so to arrange these matters that peace may be restored to the Polish people, and established upon lasting foundations. In conversation—on the day on which the despatch was written—with the Russian Minister in London, Lord Russell declared that “her Majesty's Government had no intentions that were otherwise than pacific, still less any concert with other powers for any but pacific purposes. But the state of things might change. . . . The insurrections in Poland might continue and might assume larger proportions. . . . If, in such a state of affairs, the Emperor of Russia were to take no steps of a conciliatory nature, dangers and complications might arise not at present in contemplation.” Lord Russell went on to urge that the Emperor should offer an amnesty to those who would lay down their arms, and grant representative institutions both to Poland and Russia.
The Russian Government received this despatch, and the similar despatches from France and Austria, with some consternation. Face to face with these remonstrances, it endeavoured to gain time; and, as one means of doing so, it asked the mediating powers what they had to propose ? The three mediating powers were thereupon induced to formulate six points which they asked Russia to concede: (1) a complete amnesty; (2) representative institutions; (3) a national administration; (4) liberty of public worship; (5) the use of the Polish language in the public offices and in the law courts; and (6) a regular system of recruiting. In addition to these six points—on which Austria, France, and Great Britain were agreed—the two latter powers proposed the immediate conclusion of an armistice.
Russia declined to take this remonstrance into consideration till the insurrection was put down. She refused to admit that Europe generally had any right to consider the future of Poland; and she emphasised her argument by specially inviting Austria and Prussia—partners with herself in the original partition of the country—to confer with her upon it. The reception of this despatch imposed a grave duty on the British Cabinet. In Lord Russell's own language—‘the question came to be whether the three powers should together urge their demands by force or relinquish the attempt. If France could have drawn the answer, force would probably have been used. Her Emperor and her people were equally disposed to intervene. But
The prospect of a war with Russia for the deliverance of Poland was a very cloudy one. The object to be aimed at must have been, not the fulfilment of the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna, but the establishment of Poland as an independent State. The basis for the erection of such a State was almost entirely wanting. The aristocracy of Poland were distrusted : wide in their projects, narrow in their notions of government. . . . The democracy of Poland were hostile to the aristocracy; wild in their desires, bloody in their means. . . . The policy of England, no less than the policy of Austria, would have shrunk from the creation of such a State. Besides these difficulties as to the object, the means of carrying on war against Russia, with Prussia as her probable ally, would have been hazardous and expensive beyond calculation. Moved by considerations of this kind, every proposition of France which tended to pledge the three powers to war was declined by the British and Austrian Cabinets."
And Lord Russell, in a long despatch of August 11, 1863, in which he dealt with and controverted the Russian arguments, simply concluded—
If Russia does not perform all that depends upon her to further the moderate and conciliatory views of the three powers, if she does not enter upon the path which is open to her by friendly counsels, she makes herself responsible for the serious consequences which the prolongation of the troubles of Poland may produce.”
* Speeches and Despatches, ii. 236. * Ibid., 417.
In the meanwhile, the other question which was agitating Central and Northern Europe—the connection of the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein with one another, with Denmark, and with Germany—was becoming acute. The two Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein lie to the south of modern Denmark. Holstein, the more southern of the two, is exclusively German in its population. Schleswig, the more northern, contains a mixed population of Danes and Germans. In the course of the fourteenth century Schleswig was conquered by Denmark, but ceded to Count Gerard of Holstein—the Constitution of Waldemar providing that the two Duchies should be under one Lord, but that they should never be united to Denmark. This is the first fact to realise in the complex history of the Schleswig-Holstein question. The line of Gerard of Holstein expired in 1375. It was succeeded by a branch of the house of Oldenberg. In 1448 a member of this house, the nephew of the reigning Duke, was elected to the throne of Denmark. The reigning Duke procured in that year a confirmation of the compact that Schleswig should never be united with Denmark. Dying without issue in 1459, the Duke was succeeded, by the election of the Estates, by his nephew Christian I. of Denmark. In electing Christian, however, the Estates compelled him in 1460 to renew the compact confirmed in 1448. And, though Duchies and Crown were thenceforward united, the only link between them was the sovereign. Even this link could possibly be severed. For the succession in the Duchy was secured to the male heir in direct contradiction of the law of Denmark." Thus while the fourteenth century declared that Schleswig
1 In the whole of this account I have followed, and occasionally copied, the remarkable article on the constitutional question in Schleswig-Holstein which was published in the Home and Foreign Review of January 1862. The student, however, will do well to compare this account, written from a German point of view, with Denmark and Germany since 1815, by Charles A. Gosch (London, 1862). This book contains the Danish side of the question in a convenient form.
and Holstein should be joined together and separate from Denmark, the fifteenth century placed Duchies and Kingdom, still organically distinct, under one head, uniting them in fact by the link of the Crown. It would complicate this narrative if stress were laid on the various changes in the relations between Kingdom and Duchies which were consequent on the unsettled state of Europe during the three succeeding centuries. It is sufficient to say that, by a treaty made in 1773, the arrangements concluded more than 300 years before were confirmed. Schleswig-Holstein reverted once more to the King of Denmark under exactly the same conditions as in the time of Christian I., who had expressly recognised that he governed them as Duke, that is, by virtue of their own law of succession. Such an arrangement was not likely to be respected amidst the convulsions which affected Europe in the commencement of the present century. In 1806 Christian VII. took advantage of the disruption of the German Empire formally to incorporate the Duchies into his Kingdom. No one was in a position to dispute the act of the monarch. In 1815, however, the King of Denmark, by virtue of his rights in Holstein and Lauenburg, joined a Confederation of the Rhine; and the nobility of Holstein, brought in this way into fresh connection with Germany, appealed to the German Diet. But the Diet, in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, was subject to influences opposed to the rights of nationalities. It declined to interfere, and the union of Duchies and Kingdom was maintained. Christian VII. was succeeded in 1808 by his son Fredefick VI., who was followed in 1839 by his cousin Christian VIII. The latter monarch had only one son, afterwards Frederick VII., who, though twice married, had no children. On his death, if no alteration had been made, the crown of Denmark would have passed to the female line—the present reigning dynasty—while the Duchies, by the old undisputed law, would have reverted to a younger branch, which descended through
males to the house of Augustenburg,
With this prospect before them it became very desirable for the Danes to amalgamate the Duchies; and in the year 1844 the Danish Estates almost unanimously adopted a motion that the King should proclaim Denmark, Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg one indivisible State. In 1846 the King put forth a declaration that there was no doubt that the Danish law of succession prevailed in Schleswig. He admitted that there was more doubt respecting Holstein. But he promised to use his endeavours to obtain the recognition of the integrity of Denmark as a collective State. Powerless alone against the Danes and their sovereign, Holstein appealed to the Diet; and the Diet took up the quarrel, and reserved the right of enforcing its legitimate authority in case of need.
Christian VIII, died in January 1848. His son, Frederick VII, the last of his line, grasped the tiller of the State at a critical moment. Crowns, before a month was over, were tumbling off the heads of half the sovereigns of Europe; and Denmark, shaken by these events, felt the full force of the revolutionary movement. Face to face with revolution at home and Germany across the frontier, the new King tried to cut instead of untying the Gordian knot. He separated Holstein from Schleswig, incorporating the latter in Denmark, but allowing the former under its own constitution to form part of the German Confederation. Frederick VII. probably hoped that the German Diet would be content with the halfloaf which he offered it. The Diet, however, replied to the challenge by formally incorporating Schleswig in Germany, and by committing to Prussia the office of mediation. War broke out, but the arms of Prussia were crippled by the revolution which shook her throne. The sword of Denmark, in these circumstances, proved victorious; and the Duchies were ultimately compelled to submit to the decision which force had pronounced.
These events gave rise to the famous protocol which was signed in London, in August 1850, by England, France, Austria, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark. This document settled the question, so far as diplomacy could determine