Billeder på siden

we simply desire to give Mr. Greville's opinion on the subject. Mr. Greville wrote on September 3:

'Clarendon thinks that Stratford has encouraged the resistance of the Divan to the proposals of the Conference, and that he might have persuaded the Turks to accept the terms if he had chosen to do so and set about it in a proper manner; but Clarendon says that he has lived there so long, and is animated with such a personal hatred of the Emperor, that he is full of the Turkish spirit; and this and his temper together have made him take a part directly contrary to the wishes and instructions of his Government. He thinks he wishes to be recalled, that he may make a grievance of it, and come home to do all the mischief he can. Westmorland wrote word the other day that Stratford's language was very hostile to his Government; and the Ministers of all the other Powers at Constantinople thought he had actually resigned, and reported the fact to Vienna.'

It will occur to most persons that, if this was Lord Clarendon's opinion, the remedy was in his own hands; he might have recalled Lord Stratford. But Mr. Greville, on December 31, 1854, gave the Minister's reasons for not taking this step:

'With regard to the Vienna Note, Clarendon said Stratford never would have let the Turks sign it, and if they had recalled him the Cabinet here would have been broken up, Palmerston would have gone out, Stratford would have come home frantic and have proclaimed to the whole country that the Turks had been sacrificed and betrayed, and the uproar would have been so great that it would have been impossible to carry out the intention.' (Ibid. p. 216.)

And, in another passage, he not merely repeats his unfavourable opinion of Lord Stratford's conduct, but he ascribes a personal motive to his policy:

"They all think that, if he had been sincere in his desire for peace, and for an accommodation with Russia, he might have accomplished it; but on the contrary he was bent on bringing on war. He said as much to Lord Bath, who was at Constantinople. Lord Bath told him he had witnessed the fleets sailing into the Black Sea, when he replied, "You have brought some good news, for that is war. The Emperor "of Russia chose to make it a personal quarrel with me, and now I "am revenged." This Lord Bath wrote to Lady Ashburton, who told Clarendon.' (Ibid. pp. 139, 140.)

Whatever truth there may be in this story, there can be no doubt that Mr. Greville correctly reported Lord Bath, for Lord Malmesbury has already made exactly the same statement.Lord Bath,' he wrote in his diary of February 25, 1854, has come back from Constantinople, and says that Lord Stratford openly boasts having got his personal 'revenge against the Czar by fomenting the war.' It is

[merged small][ocr errors]

only fair to add that, if these things were said by cooljudging Englishmen, some Russian statesmen were equally indignant at Prince Menschikoff's conduct. We find Mr. Greville writing on March 1, 1856:—

'Orloff spoke very frankly about the war, and the conduct of the late Emperor, which he had always regarded as insane in sending Menschikoff to Constantinople. If he had sent him, Orloff, instead, he would answer for it, there would have been no war.' (Vol. ii. p. 24.)

In October 1853, Turkey demanded the evacuation of the Principalities, and war between her and Russia ensued. Some members of the British Cabinet, however, still hoped that their own country might not be led into hostilities. On October 6, Mr. Greville tells us :

'Delane was sent for by Lord Aberdeen the night before last, when they had a long conversation on the state of affairs, and Aberdeen told him that he was resolved to be no party to a war with Russia on such grounds as the present, and he was prepared to resign rather than incur such responsibility.' (Vol. i. pp. 94, 95.)

But, in the following month, an event occurred which shook Lord Aberdeen's resolution, and stimulated Lord Clarendon to stronger action. The Russian fleet in the Black Sea attacked and destroyed the Turkish squadron at Sinope:

'The news of the Turkish disaster in the Black Sea is believed, but Government will do nothing about it till they receive authentic intelligence and detailed accounts of the occurrence. So Clarendon told Reeve on Monday, but he is disposed to take a decisive part if it all turns out to be true; and yesterday Delane had a long conversation with Aberdeen, who owned that if the Russians (as they suppose) attacked a convoy of transports at anchor, it is a very strong case, and he thought war much more probable than it was a few days ago, and he did not speak as if he was determined in no case to declare it. This does not surprise me, in spite of his previous tone; for he has gone so far that he may be compelled in common consistency to go farther.' (Ibid. p. 111.)

It is evident that the chances of war had been largely increased by the incident and the sensation which it provoked; and that Lord Aberdeen was slowly, and Lord Clarendon more rapidly, modifying their previous opinions:

'Clarendon is now very hot on this war, which he fancies is to produce great and uncontemplated effects. He says for very many years past Russia has been the great incubus on European improvement, and the real cause of half the calamities that have afflicted the world, and he thinks a great opportunity now presents itself of extinguishing her pernicious influence, and by liberating other countries from it, the march of improvement and better government will of necessity be

developed and accelerated, and in this way civilisation itself may be the gainer by this contest.' (Ibid. p. 142.)

Thenceforward Lord Clarendon was not merely the mouthpiece of the Cabinet, but the consistent supporter of its warlike policy.



The Ministry, however, hardly foresaw the difficulties to which the war would lead. In the following September, so certain are they of taking Sebastopol that they have 'already begun to discuss what they shall do with it when they have got it.' (Ibid. p. 185.) And a week afterwards, though men were already clamouring against the commanders of the British fleets both in the Baltic and the Euxine, the certainty of success in the Crimea seemed to provide a remedy for every difficulty:-

'The clamour against Dundas in the fleet is prodigious, and the desire for his recall universal, but he will stay out his time now, which will be up in December. It is the same thing against Napier in the Baltic; he will come away as soon as the ice sets in, and next year Lyons will be sent in his place, as the war will then be principally carried on in the north.' (Ibid. p. 189.)

Mr. Greville, indeed, did not share either the opinions or the confidence of his friends ::

'The more I reflect on the nature of the contest, its object, and the degree to which we are committed in it, the more uneasy I feel about it, and the more lively my apprehensions are of our finding ourselves in a very serious dilemma, and being involved in great embarrassments of various sorts.' (Ibid. p. 150.)


There is no news,' he wrote at the end of August, while the troops were still at Varna, 'but dreadful accounts of the health of both armies and of the prevalence of cholera both abroad and at home. The French particularly, who have lost the most, are said to be completely demoralised and disheartened, and to abhor the war, which they always disliked from the beginning. My present impression is that we shall come to grief in this contest; not that we shall be beaten in the field by the Russians, but that between the unhealthy climate, the inaccessibility of the country, and the distance of our resources, Russia will be able to keep us at bay, and baffle our attempts to reduce her to submission.' (Ibid. p. 182.)

The terrible sufferings which the army experienced in the following winter seemed to confirm Mr. Greville's opinions; and he was disposed to join both Ministry and public in throwing the responsibility of failure on the gallant officer who commanded our army in the field :—

'I sat next to Charles Wood at dinner yesterday. He talked much about Raglan, and said that the Government had been placed in the

most unfair position possible, it being impossible to throw the blame of anything that had occurred on him, or even to tell the truth, which was that, so far from his making any exertions to repair the evils so loudly complained of, and sending away inefficient men, he never admitted there were any evils at all, or that any of his people were inefficient, or anything but perfect; and he said that Raglan had never asked for anything the want of which had not been anticipated by the Government here, and in no instance was anything required by him which had not been supplied a month or more before the requisition came. Palmerston, too, said to me that nothing could exceed the helplessness of the military authorities there; that they seemed unable to devise anything for their own assistance, and they exhibited the most striking contrast to the navy, who, on all emergencies, set to work and managed to find resources of all sorts to supply their necessities or extricate themselves from danger.' (Ibid. pp. 244, 245.)

[ocr errors]

Mr. Greville never altered the opinion which he had formed of the war, which remained with him this odious 'war' (vol. ii. p. 226) to the last. But he reconsidered the hasty judgement which he had passed on Lord Raglan. After relating, on Sir Edmund Lyons' authority, several anecdotes respecting him, which we have no space to quote, he added :

'Everything that Lyons said, and it may be added all one hears in every way, tends to the honour and the credit of Raglan, and I am glad to record this because I have always had an impression that much of the difficulty and distress of the army in 1854 was owing to his want of energy and management. He was not a Wellington certainly, and probably he might have done more and better than he did, but he was unquestionably, on the whole, the first man in the army.' (Vol. ii. p. 38.)

In the meanwhile, the losses and the sufferings of the army in the Crimea had the indirect effect of breaking up the Aberdeen Administration. That Ministry, which perhaps contained a larger share of ability than any Cabinet of the century, never possessed the harmony of opinion which can alone give force to a Government. Lord John Russell had been reluctantly persuaded to take office, and had been ultimately induced to do so on an implied understanding that Lord Aberdeen would, in the course of time, make way for him. The leader of the Whig party in the Cabinet was, therefore, from the first discontented with his position; and the Whigs themselves were excessively 'dissatisfied with the share of places allotted to them, and 'complain that every Peelite without exception has been provided for, while half the Whigs are excluded.' (Vol. i. p. 23.) Before the Ministry had lasted many weeks, Lord

[ocr errors]


John retired from the Foreign Office, which had been allotted to him, retaining, however, the lead of the House of ComThe Queen, it seems, had been all along considerably annoyed at the arrangement made about his taking the Foreign Office only to quit it, and his leading the 'House of Commons without any office, which she fancies is "unconstitutional, and the arrangement was announced in the newspapers without any proper communication to her. The consequence has been some little soreness on both 'sides, but this has now been all removed by explanations and amicable communication.' (Ibid. p. 43.)

At the very outset, therefore, difficulties of a personal nature embarrassed the Ministry. Towards the close of the Session of 1853 Lord John Russell considered that the time was ripe for the fulfilment of the original compact-that Lord Aberdeen should make way in his favour. But this transaction is so much more clearly narrated by Mr. Greville than it has ever been told before that we shall transcribe the account of it in his own words.


According to Clarendon, Lord John went to Lord Aberdeen before Parliament was up, and told him he could not consent to go on in his present position, to which Aberdeen replied, "Very well, you only "meet my own wishes, and you know I always told you that I should "be at any time ready to resign my place to you."

'Nothing more seems to have taken place at that time, nor till lately, when Lord John went again to Aberdeen, and repeated his determination not to go on; but this time the communication does not seem to have been received by Aberdeen with the same ready acquiescence in the proposed change, and some plain speaking took place between them. I infer, but as Clarendon did not expressly say so I put it dubiously, that Aberdeen had spoken to Gladstone and ascertained that he would by no means agree to the substitution of John Russell, and should go with Aberdeen if he retired. At all events, while Aberdeen told him that he was prepared, if he wished it, to broach the matter to his colleagues, he intimated to him that it was evident he wanted to turn him out, and put himself in his place, but that he (Aberdeen) could not agree to retire at this moment, and before Parliament met, and that Lord John had better well consider the step he was about to take, as it would in all probability break up the Government. . . . He asked him if he was secure of Palmerston's concurrence in the change he proposed, and he replied that he did not expect to find any difficulty in that quarter. This was the substance of what passed between them, Aberdeen being evidently a good deal nettled, and thinking Lord John is behaving very ill. This is Clarendon's opinion also, and he thinks, if Lord John persists, the Government will be inevitably broken up, for a considerable part of the Cabinet will certainly not consent to have Lord John again placed at

« ForrigeFortsæt »