When Poland had succumbed, another formidable adversary confronted the Muscovite autocrat. We allude to the cholera, which made everywhere horrible ravages. At St. Petersburg, a belief prevailed among the ignorant populace that the epidemic was generated by poison thrown into the wells by Poles. The rumor attained wide credence, and the peasants, to the number of some eighty thousand, rose, and, wild with rage, paraded the streets, assassinating every foreigner they met. They assembled at length in the Place Siennaia, and, with frightful cries of fury and drunkenness, menaced the capital with rebellion. This was so much the more to be dreaded, as at the moment there were no troops at hand. While the riot was at its highest pitch, and the excitement most dangerous, the emperor was seen approaching, accompanied by a single aide-de-camp, and followed by hardly a hundred Cossacks. He moved on slowly and steadily through the incensed mob, to the very centre of the insurrection, and there looking steadfastly around, with undaunted gaze, he cried, in tones of thunder: " Down upon your knees ! Upon your knees ask pardon from your God—you must expect none from me!"
The immense prestige which surrounded Nicholas at that time, combined with such an exhibition of daring and courage, together with the effect of the herculean stature, the imposing mien, and the mighty and sonorous voice, struck the insurgents with such awe, that they with one accord knelt down, and offered no resistance, while a few of the Cossacks seized and bound many of their number. The rest dispersed in terror, and the rebellion was quelled as if by enchantment.
In 1833, the sultan Mahmoud asked the assistance and protection of Russia against the pacha of Egypt, Mehemet Ali, who had risen in arms against him, had defeated the Turkish forces in several successive battles, had taken possession of Syria, and even threatened Constantinople. The emperor Nicholas readily responded to the call, and an army of five thousand Russians encamped upon the Asiatic coast of the Bosphorus, while a Russian fleet appeared upon its waters. As the price of the assistance and protection thus rendered, and before the return of the Muscovite forces to their own country, Russia exacted from Turkey the offensive and defensive alliance of Unkiar Skelessi, by which both powers were reciprocally bound to furnish succor in case either were attacked; while, by a secret article appended thereto, the Sublime Porte was bound to close the Dardanelles against any power with whom Russia might be at war.
One aim attributed to the Russian emperor, in his connection with Ottoman affairs, was, to produce a rupture between France and England. If so, he was, in a measure, gratified in 1840; as the French government advanced claims in regard to Egypt which displeased the London cabinet. Russia, Austria, Prussia, and Great Britain, were then allied together in favor of the sultan against the pacha Mehemet Ali, and France found herself isolated. This was an anomalous and dangerous position. The sympathies of England and France, their commercial relations, and their advanced civilization, required the union of the former with France rather than with Russia. The coalition was broken in 1841, and a general treaty of peace signed on the 13th of July by all the leading European powers, which re-established the inviolability of the Dardanelles, and thus abrogated the offensive features of the treaty of Unkiar Skelessi.
From that period till 1848, no important act marked the influence of Russia in the world's affairs. At the news of the revolution at Paris, in February of that year, the feelings of the emperor Nicholas were of a mixed character. On the one hand, he rejoiced at Louis Philippe's fall, for whom he always professed little esteem, and whose government had, sympathized with the exiled Poles ; and, on the other, he feared the contagion of revolutionary opinions introduced into Poland. His apprehensions increased when he learned that Prussia and Austria shared in the vast democratic movement—that Berlin had risen, and that the imperial family with the obnoxious minister Metternieh had been compelled to flee from Vienna. The Muscovite czar held himself in a waiting posture. He recognised the republican government established in France, and continued to keep up friendly relations with the German powers; but at the same time he organized formidable armies on his southern and western frontiers, prepared every means of attack, and stood ready, arms in hand, to enter the field in support of the " divine right of kings," and against all revolutionary movements.
An occasion soon presented itself in which he was called upon to employ a portion of his troops in the cause of monarchy. On the appeal of the young emperor of Austria, Francis Joseph, for aid against the armies of Kossuth, Nicholas sent his Cossacks into Hungary, under the command of Field-Marshal Paskiewitch, who, with overwhelming numbers, finally vanquished the valiant Magyars, because, like the Poles in 1831, the Hungarians quarrelled among themselves in presence of the enemy, and of which the Russian commanders were not slow to take advantage. The ukase in which the czar announced that he should intervene for the assistance of Austria in this contest, was dated April 26,1849. The chief reason given for so doing was the danger to which the Russian dominions must themselves be exposed from the triumph of the Magyars, with the large number of Polish refugees said to be engaged in their forces; another motive was, however, also assigned, namely, the mission of Russia to restore religious and political orthodoxy to the bewildered and disorganized nations of Europe. The Russian forces were put in motion simultaneously with this ukase. In all, some two hundred thousand men were employed for the purpose. One corps of from forty to fifty thousand, under General Paniu-tin, passed through Moravia by the northern railway, and entered Hungary northwest of Presburg; two other corps of some twenty thousand men each, under General Grabbe and General Sass, entered the country through the northwestern defiles of the Carpathians; the main body, under Prince Paskiewitch, a hundred thousand strong, came through the central pass of the same range, and marched down on the main road toward Pesth. General Liiders, again, invaded Transylvania on the southeast, at the head of twenty thousand men, accompanied by the remnants of the Austrian army of Puchner, under Clam-Gallas, a new leader; and at the same time, another smaller Russian corps, under General Grotenhelm, came into that province on the northeast. The Austrian armies were also recruited, and again put in motion—in the west under Marshal Haynau, a general whose bloodthirsty ferocity in Italy had already assured him an immortality of infamy; in the southwest under General Nugent; and in the south under Jellachich, the notorious Ban of Croatia. The entire force thus marshalled against this heroic nation scarcely fell short of three hundred thousand men! Against them was the army of Gorgey, in and about the fortress of Comorn, on the Danube, between Pesth and Presburg, in all reckoned at ninety thousand; that of Aulich, about Lake Balaton, twenty thousand; that of Dembinski, in the north, forty thousand; that of Vetter, in the central region on the Danube, forty thousand; the corps under Perczel, Kiss, and Guyon, in the south and southeast, forty thousand; and that of Bern, in Transylvania, forty thousand. These numbers are to be taken as merely approximative: in the nature of the case the Hungarian armies contained a large proportion of irregular volunteers, who came and went according to circumstances. With such means the nation awaited the decisive shock, appealing to God and humanity to attest the justice of their cause. The popular enthusiasm was.roused to an extraordinary extent by the crisis; Governor Kossuth and his friends traversed every part of the country as apostles of the crusade for liberty, and the clergy of all denominations vied with each other in zeal against the invaders. The contest, however, was prolonged for some three months only after the entry of the Russians, and was virtually ended on the 13th of August, at Villagos, by the treacherous surrender of Gorgey, with his entire army, to Paskiewitch. This was followed by the surrender of all the strongholds in the hands of the Hungarians. Kossuth, Guyon (now commander-in-chief of the Turkish army in Asia), Bern, Dembinski, Perczel, and other eminent officers, with some five thousand troops, found an asylum in Turkey.
There can be but little doubt that the Russian emperor's gold played a prominent part in the closing scenes of the ill-fated Hungarian revolution. Nicholas, so far as is known, asked no compensation from the Austrian emperor for this great service; he seemed to have lent his soldiers and his money with perfect disinterestedness. It was, however, a great stroke of policy. Russia's preponderance over Germany was essentially promoted by this intervention. It is also worthy of remark that, during the Hungarian campaign, the officers and even the common soldiers of the Russian army treated the Austrians as inferiors and menials, showing them far less respect than they did the Magyars.
These events bring the history of Russia down to the period immediately preceding the war she is now waging with Turkey, France, and England. The relations between Russia and the Ottoman Porte began to assume a threatening aspect some time before the final outbreak in 1853. The people of the Danubian principalities were not free from the revolutionary contagion of 1848, and a movement in that direction commenced in Moldavia, whence it extended to Wallachia. It was finally suppressed, and an amnesty proclaimed by the youthful sultan, Abdul-Medjid. It furnished a pretext, however, for the Russian emperor, in 1849, to send a division of his army across the Pruth, and occupy the principalities. He assumed the right under a construction of the treaty of Balta Liman, of April of that year. This treaty, however, provided for joint occupation, expressly stipulating that both powers should enter the principalities together, and this under peculiar circumstances, with an equal force. Russia, therefore, had no right whatever to enter them alone. It was only after lengthened negotiations with Great Britain, and the advance of a large Turkish force, that the Russian troops were withdrawn in 1850.
Misunderstandings also arose between the two governments at the end of the Hungarian war, in 1849, principally on account of certain Poles, who, after having fought in the ranks of the Hungarians, were among those that sought refuge in Turkey, and were protected by the sultan. His refusal either to expel or deliver them up gave great offence to the czar, as also to the emperor of Austria in the case of the Hungarian refugees.
Next came the question of the "holy places" in Jerusalem, where, by the influence of France, certain privileges had been granted by the Turkish government to Roman catholics, at the cost, as the court of St. Petersburg believed, of the eastern or the orthodox Greek church. Thus the northern cabinet, which for years had been accustomed to have its will obeyed at Constantinople, saw twice in rapid succession another influence prevail there. A conflict between the Montenegrins and the Turks, in the beginning of 1853, increased the difficulty, as the hardy mountaineers of Montenegro had for some time enjoyed the special protection of Russia; and, at the instigation of the latter, Austria now interfered to prevent their complete chastisement at the hands of Omar Pacha. Several other events of inferior importance thickened the cloud; and finally it was decided by Nicholas to make an imposing demonstration at Constantinople, without, however—as it was announced officially to other cabinets— any ulterior idea of war or conquest.
In the first days of February, 1853, Prince Menchikoff, the emperor's minister of marine — one of the most eminent men at the court and in the councils of Russia, as well as a fervent follower of the Greek church and an enemy of the moslems—left St. Petersburg on a mission to Stamboul. After having reviewed the Russian fleets at Sevastapol and Odessa, the prince reached his destination on the 28th of February, and on the 2d of March communicated to the Porte his credentials. The first act of diplomatic hostility began with the refusal by the prince to call on Fuad Effendi, the Turkish minister of foreign affairs, and the most decided adversary of-Russia in the councils of the sultan. The Porte, however, yielded this point of etiquette, and the minister resigned his office.
The other courts of Europe, and especially France, became uneasy at these Russian demonstrations, and a French fleet appeared at about the end of the month in the waters of Greece. England showed herself less sensitive at this period, and refused to move her naval forces in the Mediterranean, keeping them anchored at Malta.
The first point debated between the Russian embassador and the Porte was that of the holy places in Palestine. After some manoeuvring on the part of the prince, who originally wished to discuss the matter exclusively with the Porte, the French minister came in and shared in the deliberations. The whole seemed to take a satisfactory turn. The Porte issued a new firman, conceding what Menchikoff desired, and putting Russia on the same footing as before the recent grant to France.
But Russia was not satisfied. After many circumlocutions, Prince Menchikoff, in a note sent to the divan on the 5th of May, laid down his ultimatum. This contained sundry claims never before preferred by Russia, as that the Porte should bind itself for the future never to lessen or encroach upon any immunities enjoyed ab antiquo by the Greek church in Turkey, nor ever to allow any other Christian creed to predominate over it. A convention to this effect would have been an acknowledgment by the Porte of a religious protectorate to be exercised by the czar over its own subjects. Menchikoff demanded an answer to these propositions in the course of five days. The Porte, in a friendly but firm tone, refused to make such a treaty, as destroying the sultan's rights of sovereignty. To this Menchikoff made an answer, and thus negotiations became protracted to the 14th of May. In this crisis, Eeschid Pacha, one of the most enlightened statesmen of Turkey, was recalled to the divan. But this change did not prove propitious to the interests of Russia; and, on the 18th of May, the Russian envoy broke off all further communications with the Porte, and retired to a steamer waiting for him in the harbor. Thence he exchanged several notes with Reschid Pacha, but, as they could not come to any understanding, Menchikoff left Constantinople on the 21st of May.
Russia, at the same time that she sent her envoy, began to gather bodies of troops about Odessa and in Bessarabia. After the departure of Menchikoff from Constantinople, Turkey also began to arm. Count Nessel-rode, the czar's minister of foreign affairs, sent a courier to Constantinople with a letter to the grand vizier, announcing that the czar fully approved the proceedings of his envoy; and that if the Porte should still refuse to subscribe to the treaty he had proposed, Russian troops would receive orders to enter, the Turkish principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia—not with the object of making war against the sultan, but to obtain material guaranties until moral ones should be conceded to Russia by the Porte. To this the grand vizier answered with calmness and dignity, maintaining the grounds of the first refusal.
The cabinets of Paris and London, seeing the gravity of the case, decided to send forward their fleets as a demonstration of their friendly feelings toward Turkey; and the united naval forces anchored, in the first part of June, in Besika bay, at the entrance of the Dardanelles. On the 11th of the same month, the cabinet of St. Petersburg published a circular addressed to its diplomatic agents abroad, explanatory of the views of Russia, and of the measures already taken to carry them out-
On the 25th of June, the emperor of Russia issued a manifesto to his people, announcing his purpose to sustain the religious rights of the eastern-church, which he said were endangered in Turkey. The Russian troops, accordingly, crossed the Pruth, and entered the Danubian principalities. France and England seemed more united at this juncture, and a certain irritation prevailed in the notes now exchanged between Paris and St. Petersburg. Austria and Prussia remained neutral, and the first offered her friendly mediation. Conferences were opened at Constantinople and at Vienna between the ministers, of the four courts, and on the 1st of August a note was sent from Vienna to St. Petersburg and Constantinople offering terms of pacification. The czar accepted them, but the sultan introduced some changes and modifications, which were disapproved at St. Petersburg, and destroyed the first conciliatory attempts at diplomacy. New drafts, notes, and suggestions, were exchanged, but all of them without result. Russia having taken possession of Jassy and Bucharest, the capitals of the principalities, Prince Gorchakoff, the Russian commander-in-chief, suspended all legal relations between the two vassals of the Porte and their sovereign.
Turkey, in the meantime, concentrated her army along the Danube in Europe, and on the frontiers of Georgia in Asia. All efforts of diplomacy proved unsuccessful; and finally, in the beginning of October, the sultan issued a declaration of war against the autocrat. Omar Pacha (a Croatian by birth, and a renegade from the Austrian service), the commander-in-chief of the Turkish forces in Europe, addressed a letter to Prince Gorcha-koff, requiring him to evacuate the principalities within two weeks; otherwise he would proceed to execute the orders of his sovereign, and attack the Russian army. Gorchakoff replied that he was under the imperial commands to maintain his position. Omar kept his word. In. the latter part of October he crossed the Danube at several points. The Ottomans seized the island of Kalavatsh, expelling the Russians from it, as well as the strong point of Oltenitza on the left side of the river, where they repulsed with great loss several attacks of the enemy. At Guirgevo, a point on the Danube between Kalavatsh and Oltenitza, the Turks were less fortunate. But not so in Asia, where they seized Nicolaiev and several other fortified places ; and fought a battle at Batrum, against Prince Baratinski, in which both parties claimed the; victory. On the water, the Ottoman cause suffered a great disaster. On the 30th of November, a Turkish fleet, consisting of seven frigates, three corvettes, and two steamers, conveying warlike stores to the Asiatic coast, entered the harbor of Sinope, where they were attacked by a Russian squadron of six line-of-battle-ships, two frigates, and four steam-frigates, under Admiral Nachimoff. After a gallant contest of about three hours, the Turkish vessels were destroyed, with the exception of one, supposed to have escaped. About three thousand of the marines were killed, and an immense amount of property was destroyed. One of the frigates, that of the commander, Osman Pacha, was captured by the Russians, but sank at sea as they were towing her on the way to the harbor of Sevastapol. After the destruction of the Turkish fleet, the guns of the Russian squadron were turned upon the town of Sinope, the principal portion of which they reduced to ashes. The Turks in this unequal conflict fought with almost unheard-of bravery, not a single vessel having struck its flag during the whole engagement.
The intelligence of this affair created great excitement, not only at Constantinople, but in Paris and London. The allied fleets — consisting of fourteen English, twelve French, and five Turkish vessels-of-war—were immediately ordered to enter the Black sea, for the purpose of affording protection to the Porte. The admirals were instructed to protect all Turkish vessels of convoy, which were to keep along the Ottoman coast. The British fleet in the Euxine is under the command of Admiral Dundas, and the French under Admiral Hamelin.
Omar Pacha continued to occupy Oltenitza, notwithstanding the increased Russian force in his front, until the continual rains so flooded the country as to oblige him to quit the low tract occupied by his troops. He therefore recrossed the Danube, without any kind of molestation, leaving about fifteen thousand men in the tete-de-pont of Kalavatsh, to which strong entrenchments had been recently added, armed with guns of heavy calibre, for the more effectual protection of this passage into Lower Wallachia.
The four powers, England, France, Austria, and Prussia, continued actively engaged in negotiating for peace. A new diplomatic note was agreed upon and forwarded to Constantinople, proposing that the sultan should send a plenipotentiary to some neutral point, to confer with a Russian embassador— the integrity of the Ottoman empire to be guarantied, and other points in dispute to be adjusted, in conformity with previous arrangements. The Turkish divan, on the 18th of December, consented to open negotiations, but reiterated its former declarations that the evacuation of the principalities should be a condition precedent to any discussion of the terms of peace. The sultan also claimed that, by the war, all previously-existing treaties had been abrogated. The emperor of Russia peremptorily rejected the note of the four powers. The Russian ministers left Paris and London, and all negotiations were broken off, without any hope of renewal.
On the Danube, meantime, fresh engagements took place, which resulted favorably for the Turks. On the 6th of January, 1854, they attacked the advanced guard of the Russian army near Citale, and followed up the advantage there gained for three days in succession, finally routing their adversaries entirely, and driving them back upon Krajova, with a loss of several thousand men. The Turks then retired to Kalavatsh. Several severe skirmishes subsequently took place, in which the mussulmans were victorious.
On the 29th of January, the emperor of France addressed an autograph letter to the czar, stating that the differences between Russia and Turkey had reached such a point of gravity, that he thought it his duty to explain the part France had taken on that question, and to suggest the course by which he thought the peace of Europe could still be preserved. It was not, as he averred, the action of the maritime powers, but the occupation of the principalities, which had taken the subject from the field of discussion into that of fact. Still, even that event was not regarded as a cause of war; but a note was prepared by the four powers, destined to give common satisfaction. That note was accepted by Russia, but commentaries were immediately added which destroyed all its conciliatory effect, and prevented its acceptance by the Porte. The sultan, in turn, proposed modifications, to which the four powers acceded, but which the czar rejected. Then the Porte, wounded in its dignity and threatened in its independence, declared war, and claimed the support of her allies. The English and French squadrons were ordered to the Bosphorus, not to make war, but to protect Turkey. Efforts for peace were still continued: other propositions were submitted; and Russia declared her intention to remain on the defensive. Up to that time, France and England had been merely spectators— when the affair of Sinope occurred, and forced them to take a more defined position. It was no longer their policy that was checked; their military honor was wounded. Hence the order was given to their squadrons to enter the Black sea, and to prevent by force, if necessary, the recurrence of such an event. Arrived at this point, it was clear that there must be either a definite understanding or a decided rupture. If the czar desired a pacific solution, it was suggested that an armistice should be signed, that diplomatic negotiations should be resumed, and that all the belligerent forces should retire from the places where the motives of war had called them: the Russian troops would abandon the principalities, and the allied squadron the Black sea ; and the emperor of Russia would name a plenipotentiary to negotiate a treaty with the sultan, to be submitted to the four powers. If a plan should be adopted on which France and England should agree, peace would be restored, and the world satisfied. If the czar should refuse this proposition, they must leave to the fate of arms and the hazards of war that which might be decided by reason and justice.—This letter was regarded rather as a manifest to the French nation than an appeal to the czar. It was extensively placarded, and issued in immense numbers in extra editions of the government journal, the Paris " Moniteur."
A reply to this autograph letter of Louis Napoleon was received, in the latter part of March, from the emperor of Russia. He rehearsed the grounds of difference, claiming that his policy had been marked by the utmost forbearance and the most sincere desire for the preservation of peace. His occupation of the principalities, he says, was preceded and in a great measure caused by the hostile appearance of the combined fleets in the neighborhood of the Dardanelles: and the affair of Sinope was the consequence of the impunity with which the Turks were allowed to convey their troops, arms, and ammunition, to the Russian coast, for the prosecution of hostilities. He had learned from the French emperor's letter, for the first time, that the Russian fleet was to be no longer allowed in the Black sea—that he was thus to be prevented from provisioning his own coasts. After such an announcement, he could not be expected to discuss even for a moment the proposition of an armistice, of the evacuation of the principalities, and of the opening of negotiations with the Porte. Threats would not move him. His confidence was in God, and his right; and Russia, he would guaranty, would show herself in 1854 what she was in 1812.
An imperial manifesto was issued to the people of Russia, announcing that France and Great Britain had sided with Turkey, and that the emperor had in consequence broken off all intercourse with those powers. Thus, it added, England and France have sided with the enemies of Christianity against Russia combating for the orthodox faith.
On the receipt of this manifesto, M. Drouyn d'Lhuys, the French minister of foreign affairs, issued a circular to the French diplomatic agents, throwing the responsibility of results upon the Russian government, which had closed the door to the last hope of peace, and rebuking the emperor's attempt to enlist religious fanaticism on his behalf. France and England, he asserts, do not support Islamism against the orthodox Greek faith: they go to protect the integrity of the Ottoman empire against the ambitious covetousness of Russia.
The withdrawal of the Russian embassadors from London and Paris has been already noted. That event was followed by a formal declaration of war. On February 27, the earl of Clarendon despatched a messenger to St. Petersburg with a letter declaring that, if the Russian government did not immediately announce its intention of ordering its troops to recross the Pruth, so that the principalities of "Wallachia and Moldavia should be completely evacuated by the 30th of April, her refusal or silence would be considered equivalent to a declaration of war, and the British government would take its measures accordingly. The messenger was directed to wait but six days for a reply. The note was presented to Count Nesselrode on the 17th of March; said the answer returned was, that " the emperor did not think it becoming to make any reply to it." The receipt of this response led to the immediate issue, on the 28th of March, of the English declaration of war.
This important document rehearsed rapidly the successive steps in the progress of the difficulty, conceding at the outset that the emperor of Russia had some cause of complaint against the sultan with regard to the " holy places " at Jerusalem, but declaring- that these had been amicably adjusted by the advice of the British minister; and that the Russian envoy, Prince Menchikoff, was meantime urging still more important demands, concerning the position of the Christian subjects of the sultan, which he carefully concealed from the British embassador. These demands were rejected, and the emperor of Russia immediately sent large bodies of troops to the frontier, and took possession of the Danubian principalities, for the purpose of enforcing compliance with them. The object sought by the czar was virtual control over nine millions of the Christian subjects of the sultan, which the Sublime Porte could not grant without yielding to Russia the substantial sovereignty over its territories. It was therefore refused, and the French and British governments had felt called upon—by regard for an ally, the integrity and independence of whose empire have been recognised as essential to the peace of Europe; by the sympathies of their people with the right against wrong; by a desire to avert from their dominions the most injurious consequences, and to save Europe from the preponderance of a power which had violated the faith of treaties and defied the opinion of the civilized world—to take up arms for the defence of the sultan. — The declaration of war was debated in parliament at great length on the 31st of March. In the house of lords, the earl of Clarendon, minister of foreign affairs, contended that the object of the emperor of Russia had been to obtain such an ascendency and right of interference in Turkey as would have enabled him at any time to possess himself of Constantinople, and that this design had been steadily pursued in the face of the most distinct and solemn assurances to the British government that he had no such purpose in view. If he had been allowed to carry this design into execution, Lord Clarendon thought it would not be too much to say that more than one western power would have been made to undergo the fate of Poland. It was not to protect her trade, nor to defend her India possessions, that Great Britain had resolved to go to war. For neither of these objects would she make the sacrifices she was about to make; but it was to maintain her honor, and to sustain the cause of civilization against barbarism. Russia had already reduced several of the German powers to a state of virtual dependence upon her, and it became absolutely necessary to place a check upon her future aggressions on the independence of Europe. Austria and Prussia had both resolved to maintain a position of complete neutrality. This would be found, in the end, impossible; but, thus far, England had reason to be perfectly satisfied with the course they had adopted, although she received no guaranty as to their ultimate action.
In France, proceedings in regard to the formal declaration of war took place, analogous in all .respects to those of Great Britain. An imperial message was read to the chambers on the 27th of March, announcing that the last resolution of the cabinet of St. Petersburg had placed Russia in a state of war in respect to France—a war, it added, the responsibility of which belonged wholly and entirely to the Russian government. The chambers unanimously pledged the support of France to the coming contest.
Both the English and French governments, in order to render the war as little onerous as possible to the powers with whom they remained at peace, issued a declaration, waiving the right of seizing an enemy's property laden on board a neutral vessel, unless it be contraband of war; nor would they claim the confiscation of neutral property, not being contraband of war, found on board an enemy's ships ; nor would they (for the present) issue letters of marque, for the commission of privateers.
On the 10th of April, a convention was signed at London, by the representatives of France and England, in which they agreed—1. To do what depends on them to bring about the re-establishment of peace between Russia and the Ottoman Porte on a solid and durable basis, and to guaranty Europe against the return of those lamentable complications which have so disturbed the general peace. 2. To receive into their alliance, for the sake of co-operating in the proposed object, any of the other powers of Europe who may wish to join it. 3. Not to accept, in any event, any overtures for peace, nor to enter into any arrangement with Russia, without having previously deliberated upon it in common. 4. They renounce in advance any particular advantage to themselves from the events that may result. 5. They agree to supply, according to the necessities of the war, determined by a common agreement, land and sea forces sufficient to meet them.
Lord Raglan (Henry Fitzroy Somerset, aide to Wellington at Waterloo) was appointed commander-in-chief of the British land forces, and Marshal St. Arnaud those of the French; and the two governments took immediate measures for despatching a hundred thousand troops to the theatre of war in the East, in the proportion of seventy thousand French to thirty thousand British. English and French fleets (the former under the command of Admiral Sir Charles Napier and the latter under that of Admiral Deschines), numbering about fifty vessels, and mounting twenty-two hundred guns, were also despatched to operate in the Baltic; to which was subsequently added a considerable land force composed of French troops alone. On the 12th of April, the Russian government published its counterstatement in reply to the English declaration of war. In the presence of such declarations and demands as those made to him by Great Britain and France, the emperor has only to accept the situation assigned to him, reserving to himself to employ all the means which Providence has put in his hands, to defend with energy and constancy the honor, the independence, and the safety, of his empire. All the imputations which they have made against Russia are declared to rest on no foundation whatever. If their honor has been placed in jeopardy, it has been by their own act; for, from the beginning, they have adopted a system of intimidation, which would naturally fail. They made it a point of honor that Russia should bend to them; and because she would not consent to her own humiliation, they say they are hurt in their moral dignity. The policy of aggrandizement, which they attribute to Russia, is refuted by all her acts since 1815. None of her neighbors have had to complain of an attack. The desire of possessing Constantinople has been too solemnly disavowed for any doubts to be entertained on that point which do not originate in a distrust which nothing can cure. Events will soon decide whether Russia or the western powers have struck the most fatal blow at the independence of Turkey. The sultan has already renounced, by treaty, the distinguished privilege of every sovereign power, that of making peace or war at its own free will; and changes in the internal policy of Turkey have already been exacted far greater and far more fatal to her independence than any Russia ever desired to secure. It is for Europe, and not for the western powers alone, to decide whether the general equilibrium is menaced, by the supposed preponderance of Russia; and to consider which weighs heaviest on the freedom of action of states—Russia left to herself, or a formidable alliance, the pressure of which alarms every neutrality, and uses by turns caresses or threats to compel them to follow in its wake. The true motive of the war has been avowed by the British ministry to be the abatement of the influence of Russia; and it is to defend that influence—not less necessary to the Russian nation than it is essential to the maintenance of the order and security of the other states—that the emperor, obliged to embark in war in spite of himself, is about to devote all the means of resistance which are furnished by the devotion and patriotism of his people. He closes by denying that the responsibility of the war rests upon him; and invokes the aid of God, who has so often protected Russia in the day of trial, to assist him once more in this formidable struggle.
The period to which we have now arrived in our historic summary presents an appropriate place at which to close it. We have given the history and the leading incidents in field and cabinet of the contest in which Russia is unfortunately involved with Turkey, France, and England, down to the period (April, 1854) when, all hope of reconciliation past, the several parties have formally signified their determination to leave its decision to the God of battles. Of the occurrences since that period—of the movements of the Euxine and Baltic fleets—the crossing the Danube and occupation of the Dobruschka by the Russians—their repeated and desperate attacks on Silistria—their repulse and retreat across the Danube—their final evacuation of the principalities and the reoccupation of them by the troops of Austria—the vacillating if not treacherous course of the Austrian and Prussian governments—the events in the Caucasus,—while none of them have been of sufficient importance to materially change the aspect of the war, their details, obtained, as they necessarily must be, only through interested mediums, are as yet too conflicting and unreliable to be suitable for permanent record. They are of so recent a date, however, that (reliable as they may be) they are undoubtedly familiar to all who feel an interest in the progress of the great struggle, through the medium of the newspaper press.
Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855