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Chapter XXXVI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 5


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With these stipulations England, Austria, and France were not content. They took a remarkable step. They, on the 15th of April, signed a treaty of guarantee. That is to say, they jointly and severally guaranteed the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire; and declared that " any infraction of the stipulations" of the general treaty, signed on the 30th of March, would be considered by these three powers as a casus belli. This was a very strong measure; and when it became known, as it soon did, Russia, though offended at a want of confidence, saw that she must not attempt to wriggle out of the conditions she had subscribed. Nevertheless, as we shall see, she did, at a later period, attempt to frustrate the intention of that stipulation, which removed her altogether from the Danube, and punished her for her fraudulent dealings with that river, by thrusting back her frontier from its banks and waters.

The Congress of Paris did not restrict its attention to those points which arose directly out of the war. The Congress, indeed, sat for a fortnight after the peace treaty had been concluded, and took some remarkable steps. On the 8th of April, for instance, Count Walewski, as president, submitted to the Congress no fewer than four important subjects, and invited discussion. It was a rather unusual proceeding; but it showed the tendency, since then become more manifest, to draw all great questions for settlement to Paris, and to bring about a sort of government of Europe by congresses. Count Walewski called for the opinions of the plenipotentiaries on the condition of Greece, Italy, and Belgium, and suggested a new declaration of maritime law. Greece had been occupied by the allies for contumacious conduct; before the troops were withdrawn the evils must be remedied. In Italy, France, "the eldest son of the Church," occupied Rome - that was abnormal - and the Emperor was ready to withdraw his troops as soon as he could do so without injuring the interests of the Pope - a safe promise. Count Walewski hoped Count Buol would say the same for Austria, whose troops were in the Romagna and Tuscany. Then there was a violent attack on Belgium. What Count Walewski said on this topic was that there were outspoken enemies of the Emperor in Belgium, that they abused the freedom of the press, that this might be dangerous for Belgium, and that the Powers, perhaps, would be good enough to say that Belgium must pass severe laws and repress these excesses. This was very uncalled for, not to say insolent conduct on the part of the French minister. Lord Clarendon and Count Cavour spoke with some freedom, and seemed to concur with Count Walewski's Italian views, joining in the blows aimed at Austria and Naples. Count Cavour, indeed, was eloquent on the subject of the Austrian occupation of the Romagna, and the very tyrannical conduct of the King of the Two Sicilies. But the other plenipotentiaries seemed to be rather taken by surprise by the French manoeuvre, and said little. Even Lord Clarendon did not repel with sufficient, with any vigour, the unwarranted attack on Belgium. So that Count Walewski, in summing up the results of the conversation, could place on record some sort of hollow agreement in the principles he laid down affecting Greece, Italy, and Belgium. In fact, the object of the French minister was to bring Italy bodily before the Congress, to pave the way for a policy which was to put a violent end to Austrian occupation, and leave French occupation as flourishing as it was when Count Walewski affected to lament its existence before the Congress of 1856. Italy was introduced to satisfy also the urgent demands of Count Cavour, who had already begun to meditate on plans for his country's liberation with the aid of England or France. Italy, therefore, at the congress of 1856, was the shadow of a coming event. But the attack on the freedom of printing in Belgium, where there were laws and trial by jury, drew forth indignant murmurs in the Parliaments of England and Belgium, and the insolence of Count Walewski did not go forth unrebuked. It was surmised that Count Walewski did not express any views but his own, and that the Emperor was rather annoyed by this impolitic violence of his plenipotentiary.

The suggested new declaration on maritime law also took the plenipotentiaries by surprise. They demanded time, 'but a week afterwards - namely, on the 16th of April - they agreed to a declaration, which was annexed to the treaty, and understood to be binding on those who signed it, and on those who might accede to it. The points solemnly set forth as for the future international law were these: - "1. Privateering is, and remains, abolished. 2. The neutral flag covers enemies' goods, with the exception of contraband of war. 3. Neutral goods, with the exception of contraband of war, are not liable to seizure under an enemy's flag. 4. Blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective - that is to say, maintained by a force sufficient really to prevent access to the coast of an enemy." This forms a great landmark in the history of belligerent and neutral rights. It marks the enlargement of neutral, and the restriction of belligerent rights; and by many it is thought that the surrender of the right to take enemies' goods wherever found will prove injurious, unless accompanied by an abolition of the right of capturing private property at sea altogether. Certainly England surrendered a great deal to the neutral and non-maritime powers; and when she had done so, the greatest, the then United States, would not accede to the declaration - would not agree to abolish privateering unless Europe agreed to abolish the right of capturing private property afloat.

Another incident worth notice occurred at this Congress, and chiefly so because it relates to the adoption of a principle which has hitherto failed twice in ten years. Much moved by the peace party, the Government permitted Lord Clarendon to propose a sort of arbitration clause. He observed that the treaty embodied the principle as applied to differences between the contracting Powers and Turkey. He proposed that the happy innovation should receive a more general application without prejudice to the independence of Governments. Count Walewski and Baron Manteuffel concurred, but Count Buol and Count Orloff gave it merely their personal assent. " Whereupon," so runs the protocol, "the plenipotentiaries do not hesitate to express in the name of their Governments the wish that States between which any serious misunderstanding may arise should, before appealing to arms, have recourse, as well as circumstances might allow, to the good offices of a friendly Power. The plenipotentiaries hope that the Governments not represented at the Congress will unite in the sentiment which has inspired the wish recorded in the present protocol." The well-meant wish has accomplished very little. When France fomented a war between Austria and Sardinia, in 1859, the principle went to the wall; and in 1864 it was altogether ignored by Austria and Prussia, who made sudden war upon Denmark. In fact, the world is still a very wicked world, and will remain so, in spite of these delicate diplomatic contrivances to make believe that in our progress towards perfection of the species we have washed out even in part the taint of sin.

On the very day when the peace documents were laid before the British Parliament, April 28, the Opposition determined to censure the Government for the loss of Kars. To this end it was necessary to treat the fate of Kars as a matter entirely under the control of the Government; to forget that England was engaged with allies, and to assume that the British Government had shown a deficiency of "foresight and energy." On that ground Mr. Whiteside, acting for his party, based a motion of censure. Lord Malmesbury, in the House of Peers, had also given notice of a similar motion, but found it expedient to withdraw his notice, and accept battle in the House of Commons. This debate, unhappily, like so many others, was a mere party encounter. The opposition did not believe that Kars could have been saved by the British Government under the circumstances; but they found in the facts of the campaign admirable material for a party attack. The real causes of the loss of Kars were twofold - the indolence and corruption of the Turkish Pashas, whose conduct deprived Kars of the provisions actually collected to victual the place; and the indisposition of the French Emperor to permit the diversion to Asia of any effective troops, who might have operated in time to relieve the garrison. The English, as must happen in all cases where they act in combination with the French, played a secondary, one might almost say a subordinate, part. That is the price we must pay for an active alliance with France. Consequently no effective measures were taken to defend the Turkish frontier in Asia. The House, not being prepared to censure the Government for deference to an ally - a deference which could not be avoided without risk to the alliance - rejected Mr. Whiteside's motion of censure by a majority of 303 to 176.

On the day following the opening of this party contest, peace was proclaimed with the usual solemnities. At twelve o'clock on the 29th of April, a procession of heralds, pursuivants, and Westminster officials, escorted by a troop of Life Guards, and furnished with a requisite supply of trumpeters, emerged from St. James's Palace, and drawing up there in presence of a great crowd, the Garter King of Arms read the Queen's proclamation. Next the procession rode to Charing Cross, and there Norroy, king of arms, looking towards Whitehall, as the custom is, performed the same ceremony. The procession then moved up the Strand, and came to a halt before Temple Bar. The great gates were closed. Three summonses were blown on the trumpet, and three knocks were given on the gate. From within the City Marshal asked, " Who comes there?" and had this for answer - " Officers of arms, who come to publish Her Majesty's proclamation of peace. " City Marshal, opening the gates, admitted a pursuivant, and finding he bore due warrant from the Queen, the great gates swung back on their hinges and the procession rode in. When inside the proclamation was again read, and yet once again at the Exchange. There had been no such scene in London for more than forty years. The 4th of May was set apart as a day of thanksgiving for the peace.

As a matter of course the peace treaty, when communicated to Parliament, became a subject of high debate - a notable proceeding in those days, but of little moment now. The address to Her Majesty, moved in and agreed to by both Houses, thanked the Queen for communicating the treaty to Parliament, and assured her that, while they would have cheerfully supported her had the war gone on, yet that they had learned with "joy and satisfaction" that a peace had been concluded on conditions which so fully accomplished the objects for which the war was undertaken. The address took note of the aid given by powers not belligerents towards the restoration of peace, and expressed a hope that it would be lasting. The debates in both Houses were really without life or novelty, and do not concern posterity. The Opposition only pretended to be dissatisfied. One called it a base peace, yet would not divide against it; and another proposed to omit the word "joy," yet leave in the word "satisfaction" In fact, the division on the Kars resolution took the sting out of the Opposition speeches; and the address, unaltered, was agreed to without a dissentient. On the 8th of May thanks were voted to the army and navy; and the Queen sent down a message to state that she had raised General Williams to the dignity of a baronet, with the style and title of Sir Fen wick Williams of Kars, and had resolved to grant him a pension of a thousand pounds a year. This gave great satisfaction, and met with ready support. On the 29th of May the Queen's birthday was kept, and London illuminated in celebration of the peace. Prince Albert inspected the Guards; the Queen held a drawing-room; and in the evening, Her Majesty and her family witnessing the spectacle from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, there were four grand and continuous outbursts of fireworks - from the Green Park, from Hyde Park, from Primrose Hill, and Victoria Park. So London rejoiced, and the towns in the country rejoiced also, that the war was at an end.

We have seen how the war arose, how it was waged, and how the objects sought were accomplished. It is right that the cost in life and money should also be recorded. According to Lord Panmure, our total loss up to the 31st of March, 1856, of killed, dead of wounds and disease, and discharged, was 22,467 men. The Russian loss was upwards of 500,000. The cost in money, as estimated by Sir George Lewis, was fifty-three millions. We increased the funded and unfunded debt by 33,604,263, and we raised by increased taxation above 17,000,000. But the war left us with very largely increased establishments; and the peace of Europe has since been so often threatened that our Chancellors of the Exchequer have not been able to reduce the expenditure to the comparatively low level of the years immediately preceding the revival of the French empire. The navy was greatly augmented, having been raised from a force of 212 to a force of 590 effective ships of war. The organisation of the army and navy was greatly improved; and in 1856 we stood in a better position as regards offensive and defensive operations than we had done at any previous period since the peace of 1815.

The news of the peace arrived in the camps in the Crimea on the 1st of April. From that day the allied generals and those of Russia resumed friendly relation s3 and were present at reviews of the late hostile armies. The process of evacuating Russian territory began, but it was not completed on the part of the French until the 5th, and on the part of the English until the 12th, of July, when the last English detachment, a company of the 50th Regiment, quitted Balaclava.

The execution of the conditions of the treaty of peace went on for many months after its conclusion; but ultimately the Danubian Principalities received a definite organisation, and succeeded, even in spite of the temporary opposition of England, Austria, and the Porte, in obtaining a united Government. The new frontier also was traced; but not without involving Europe in the danger of war. First of all Russia claimed the Isle of Serpents, off the mouth of the Danube, and occupied it. Admiral Lyons at once placed it under the watch and ward of a man-of-war. The object of tracing a new frontier in Bessarabia was to remove Russia from the Danube. In deciding the line roughly on maps produced by the French at Paris, it was agreed that the Russian frontier should run to the south of a place called Bolgrad, it being understood that this Bolgrad was not on the banks of a lake - Lake Yalpukh - which ran into the Danube. But the frontier commission found that Bolgrad was actually on the lake. The maps exhibited were delusive. The place called Bolgrad on these maps was Bolgrad-Tabak. There had either been a deception practised, or a misunderstanding on all sides. The Russians, however, insisted on the letter of the treaty; and strangely enough, the French Government showed a disposition to support them. But England, Austria, and Turkey stood out. At one moment, in consequence of the lurch of the Imperial mind toward Russia, war was possible. Better counsels prevailed, and it was arranged that a conference should sit to decide this knotty point. The conference sat on the 31st of December, 1856, and the 6th of January, 1857. The result of its secret deliberations was that Russia had to give up the Isle of Serpents and both Bolgrads; but she gained a considerable slice of Moldavia, though not on the Danube, as "compensation." The delta of the Danube reverted to Turkey; the remainder of the ceded territory to Moldavia. The conference was secret; but there is no doubt that the French Emperor supported the Russian demands. To the firmness of Lord Palmerston alone we owe it that Russia, by the aid of the Emperor Napoleon, is not at this day, as of yore, one of the river-bordering powers on the Danube.

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Pictures for Chapter XXXVI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 5

Count Orloff
Count Orloff >>>>
Count Walewski
Count Walewski >>>>
The Empress of the France
The Empress of the France >>>>
The Hall of ambassadors
The Hall of ambassadors >>>>

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