Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

pasha the hereditary possession of Syria ; Russia, who wished to preserve her exclusive protectorate over Constantinople, or would sacrifice it only in involving us in a quarrel with England; and even Austria and Prussia, indifferent as to the territorial question between the sultan and the pasha, but determined to side, according to the occasion, now with England and now with Russia, rather than to unite with us in moderating the claims of either of those Powers.

“ The whole policy of the French Cabinet rested upon three convictions, which were not lessened upon the accession to power of M. Thiers and M. de Rémusat (29th of February, 1840): the utmost reliance was felt at Paris upon the persistency of Mohammed Ali in his claims upon Egypt and Syria, and upon his energy in supporting them by arms if he should be attacked; the means of coercion which could be employed against him were regarded either as absolutely inefficient and futile, or as gravely compromising the safety of the Ottoman Empire and the peace of Europe; finally, it was firmly believed that Russia would never abandon her exclusive or at least preponderating protectorate at Constantinople. Firmly intrenched behind these convictions, the French Cabinet yielded willingly to the strong pressure of public opinion in favor of the Pasha of Egypt, and felt nó urgent necessity to oppose it. It was my mission in London to obtain from the English government important concessions for the benefit of the pasha, and my , weapons were to be the three conjectures which I have just mentioned in respect to the probabilities in case of war, and the necessity of a permanent union between France and England to maintain the integrity of the Ottoman Empire and the peace of Europe.”

The confidence of the French Cabinet was unfounded, as M. Guizot very soon perceived. The policy of the English ministry, under the influence of Lord Palmerston, threatened to become more and more exclusively English, and to pay less respect to the wishes of France than was supposed at Paris. “I hope that nothing will be done without us, and I am working to that end,” wrote M. Guizot to General Baudrand, first aid-de-camp to the Duke of Orleans, and one of his most trusted friends; “ but it is only a hope, and the work is difficult. English policy at times involves itself carelessly and very rashly in foreign affairs. In this affair, all the Powers, except ourselves, flatter England, and stand ready to obey her behests. We alone, her special allies, say, no! The others only desire to please ; we are deterinined to be reasonable, at the risk of displeasing. It is not a very agreeable, nor even a very safe position. If the matter is well managed, and we have time enough, we may succeed ; but it will not do, in my judgment, to be sure of this. We must constantly be on our guard against some sudden and secret blow."

Such was precisely the danger about to be encountered. Lord Palmerston had well comprehended the situation of Egypt and had taken care to aggravate the difficulties of the case. The insurrection in Syria, fomented by him, was an excuse for repulsing the French proposals which asked for Mohammed Ali the hereditary possession of Syria as well as of Egypt. Counter proposals, offering to divide Syria between the pasha and the sultan having been in their turn refused by France, the negotiation dragged, and the Pasha of Egypt sought to enter into direct communication with the Porte. Lord Palmerston decided to exclude France from the convention which he considered urgently required by the interests of the Ottoman Empire; he concluded, with Prussia, Austria, and Russia, the agreement of the 15th of July, 1810, in accordance with which, if the sultan's proposals to the pasha were repulsed, the Porte was empowered to call for the aid of the four mediating Powers to compel his vassal to obedience.

This was to isolate France in Europe, and it was the most serious attack made upon that alliance between France and England which had been so strictly maintained since the accession of Louis Philippe to the French throne. M. Guizot had already foreseen this. “ The Eastern question occupies me much,” he wrote; “it was drooping, when Mohammed Ali's proposals to the sultan after the fall of Khousreff Pasha caused it to revive. This is regarded as the exclusive work of France, and has given offence. It is said, “Since France has her separate policy and follows it, let us do the same.' The four Powers at once set at work; Lord Palmerston is preparing a quadruple arrangement with this twofold basis: no Syria for the pasha; coercion if necessary. I do not understand that the matter is settled. If the proposition of Mohammed Ali to the sultan should succeed, and bring about a direct settlement of difficulties, it will be for the best, and everybody must needs be content. But if nothing comes of it, we must not shut our eyes to the fact that our influence with the other European Powers will be enfeebled, and an agreement between them from which we are left out, will have a very good chance of success.”

When the convention of the 15th of July was known, the anger in France was great, -greater and more general than Lord Palmerston and the English Cabinet had foreseen. * Everything that I heard from Paris showed me how strong and general was the feeling, the displeasure, I may say, on this subject," writes M. Guizot in his Mémoires ; “it arose as much from the unfriendly act of the English Cabinet as from the public good-will towards Mohammed Ali, and the French anger helped along the Egyptian cause. • The public temper is incredibly warlike, some one wrote to me, on the 30th of July; the coolest heads, the most timid natures are carried away by the general impulse; all the deputies whom I see, pronounce in favor of a great display of strength; the most peaceable among us are wearied with this question of war, always put off, but always recurring again; we must put an end to this, they say. This disposition has reacted upon our anniversaries this month; on the 28th there were between sixty and eighty thousand men under arms, and everybody was delighted to see so many bayonets at one time. Yesterday when the king appeared on the balcony of the Tuileries he was received with acclamations that were really very cordial, and when the orchestra performed the Marseillaise, there was a genuine outburst of enthusiasm.'"

In England war was not desired. Lord Melbourne said to M. Guizot: " Lord Palmerston asserts that we shall succeed promptly and easily. In this expectation the experiment is made ; if we are mistaken, we shall not go on. The pasha is not a madman, and France is always there. France has indicated the terms of an agreement: Egypt and Syria made hereditary for the pasha ; Candia, Carelia, and Adana restored to the sultan. The pasha can always fall back upon this proposition. Why should he not at once, if he declines the propositions of the Porte? And if it is refused now, why should he not bring it up again in the course of events when he has proved his strength, and has begun to prove Lord Palmerston in the wrong? England wishes neither to quarrel with France nor" to set Europe in a blaze. Austria is of the same mind with England. It is a pity, and it would be very serious; but it can be avoided, and we desire to stop it, and France, who would not assist the four Powers in moving, will at least help them to stop."

Lord John Russell was as anxious as Lord Melbourne; the Tories were more uneasy than the Whigs, although they had not the responsibility of the decision. “We shall remain silent,' said Sir Robert Peel ; "we shall leave all the responsibility to the Cabinet. We shall be like France in the East, motionless and watchful, waiting for events.” The Duke of Wellington wrote to one of his friends : “God send that we may preserve peace between these two great countries, and for the world! I am certain that there is no desire in this country, on the part of any party, — I may almost say of any influential individual, – to quarrel with, much less to do anything offensive towards, France. But if we should be under the necessity of going to war, you will witness the most extraordinary exertions ever made by this or any country in order to carry the same on with vigor, however undesirable we may think it to enter into it.”

M. Thiers was disposed to commence at once the warlike preparations whose possibility the Duke of Wellington had regretfully foreseen. “Stand firm,” he wrote to M. Guizot, in a letter desiring him to return to Paris to decide, in a personal interview, upon the course to be pursued; "be cold and severe, except with those who are our friends. I have no wish to change anything in your conduct, except to render it more decided, if that be possible without exciting against yourself the ill-will of those who can influence the conduct of England.” The sultan had already accepted the convention of the 15th of July, and had, in accordance, addressed to the pasha a summons to return to his allegiance. Mohammed Ali replied with the most explicit refusal. “ That which I have gained by the sword I shall abandon only to the sword,” he said to the consul-general of England. France intervened, and had obtained important concessions from the pasha, but the English fleet was already off Beyroot before the treaty of the 15th of July had been ratified. On the 14th of September, without replying to the propositions of Mohammed Ali, the sultan pronounced sentence of removal upon his viceroy, and appointed a new Pasha of Egypt. Three days later, September

« AnteriorContinuar »