« AnteriorContinuar »
anchor outside the Dardanelles in Besika Bay, diplomatists still hoped for a peaceful solution of the question. There was one way by which every one felt that peace might be assured. Though the Porte had declined to sign either the sened or the note on which Menschikoff had insisted, there was no reason why a note should not be drawn up which should be palatable The Vienna
both to Turk and Czar. France, at the close of
June, drew up a draft note which French statesmen thought might effect this purpose. England at the beginning of July drew up a draft treaty with the same object.2 Austria, to whom both note and treaty were referred, expressed her preference for the note; Prussia followed, as usual, the lead of Austria; and the four Powers agreed on transmitting the note (the Vienna note, as it was then called), slightly amended, 3 to Constantinople and St. Petersburg.
Nicholas, at St. Petersburg, at once accepted the note which was thus agreed upon.4 Stratford, at Constantinople, at once accepted by decided that it should be refused.
The messenger Russia,
who brought it from Vienna crossed another from himself to the Austrian capital, with an alternative note, which he had drawn up, and to which the representatives of the four Powers of the Porte had agreed.5 Stratford had the assurance to assume that the definite acceptance of his own arrangement by the Porte would supersede the note agreed upon by the four Powers. Corrected on this point by Clarendon, he endeavoured as ambassador to prevail upon the Porte to accept the Vienna note. He did not attempt to conceal his objections to
it as a man. The Porte, attaching more importrejected by
ance to his own opinions than to the advice which he was instructed to give, declined to accept the note unmodified ;) and the peace which had been virtually made was thus again endangered.
1 Eastern Papers, Part i. p. 307.
2 Ibid., p. 350. 3 For the Vienna note in its amended shape, Eastern Papers, Part ii. P. 25. For the aniendments, ibid., pp. 2 and 4. The copy of the note in the Russian Diplomatic Study, vol. i. p. 205 note, is not accurate, but its inaccuracies are not material.
4 Eastern Pasers, Part ii. p. 43.
As war eventually broke out on these rival projects; as the war which thus occurred probably consumed £200,000,000 of treasure and sacrificed 500,000 lives; and as ordinary historians usually omit to compare Menschikoff's treaty with the Vienna note, or the Vienna note with the amendments introduced into it by the Porte, it may be as well to The points make this comparison here. Menschikoff proposed at issue. that the Czar and Sultan, being “mutually desirous of maintaining the stability of the orthodox Greco-Russian religion professed by the majority of their Christian subjects, and of guaranteeing that religion against all molestation for the future, have agreed," &c. (1.) “No change shall be made as regards the rights, privileges, and immunities which have been enjoyed by, or are possessed ab antiquo by, the Orthodox Churches, pious institutions, and clergy, in the dominions of the Sublime Ottoman Porte, which is pleased to secure the same to them in perpetuity, on the strict basis of the status quo now existing. (2.) The rights and advantages conceded by the Ottoman Government, or which shall hereafter be conceded, to the other Christian rites by treaties, conventions, or special arrangements, shall be considered as belonging also to the Orthodox Church.”
The Vienna note and the note as amended by the Porte may perhaps be conveniently placed side by side.3
"If the Emperors of Russia have at all times evinced their active solicitude for the maintenance of the immuni- Orthodox Greek religion and ties and privileges of the Church,4 the Sultans have
1 Eastern Papers, Part ii. pp. 75-80.
2 Ibid., Part i. p. 169. I have onitted the four other articles, as nothing turned on them.
3 In the text the words occupying the whole page are common to the note both in its original and amended form. The words in the left column are in the original note; the words in the right column are the Porte's amendment.
4 I have ventured to transpose these words in the translation. The official translation, Religion and Orthodox Greek Church" does not accurately render the original, “ Le culte et l'église orthodoxe Grecque.”
Orthodox Greek Church in never ceased to provide for the Ottoman Empire, the Sul- the maintenance of the privitans have never refused again leges and immunities which to confirm them
at different times they have spontaneously granted to that religion and to that Church in the Ottoman Empire, and
to confirm them by solemn acts testifying their ancient and constant benevolence towards their Christian subjects.
“His Majesty the Sultan Abdul Medjid, now reigning, inspired with the same dispositions, and being desirous of giving to his Majesty the Emperor of Russia a personal proof of his most sincere friendship, has been solely influenced in his unbounded confidence in the eminent qualities of his august friend and ally, and has been pleased to take into serious consideration the representations which his Highness Prince Menschikoff conveyed to the Sublime Porte.
“The undersigned has in consequence received orders to declare by the present note that the Government of his Majesty the Sultan will remain faithful to the letter and to the spirit the stipulations of the treaty of the treaties of Kainardji of Kainardji, confirmed by and Adrianople relative to the that of Adrianople, relative to protection of the Christian the protection by the Sublime religion, and
Porte of the Christian religion, and he is moreover charged
to make known that his Majesty considers himself bound in honour to cause to be observed for ever, and to preserve from all prejudice either now or hereafter, the enjoyment of the spiritual privileges which have been granted by his Majesty's august ancestors to the Orthodox Eastern Church, which are maintained and confirmed by him ; and moreover, in a spirit of exalted equity, to cause the Greek rite to share in the advantages granted to the other Christian rites by or which might be granted to
convention or special arrange- the other Christian communiment."
ties, Ottoman subjects.” A microscopic examination can hardly detect any essential difference between the terms which were demanded by Menschikoff and those which were embodied in the Vienna note. More distinction may undoubtedly be drawn between the conditions of the Vienna note and the amendments which Stratford and the Porte desired to introduce in it. The first amendment proposed by the Porte related, indeed, to questions of fact, and on these questions persons who have any knowledge of Oriental history will think that the language of the note was more accurate than the language of the amendment. The other two suggested alterations were of much more importance. The first actually limited the stipulations of Kainardji and Adrianople which the note proposed to extend.
There was no question that these treaties gave Russia a limited right of interference in respect to one particular Church and its ministers, and to members of the Greek Church in certain specified provinces.2 Menschikoff's demand and the Vienna note would equally have extended this right to the whole Ottoman Empire; the Porte's amendments, by defining the protection thus accorded to the Greek Church as protection of the Sublime Porte, would have by implication destroyed the limited right already existing. The same thing could be said of the last amendment. The treaties of Carlowitz, Belgrade, and Sistova gave Austria the right of protecting all persons of the Roman Catholic persuasion in Turkey, whether they were Ottoman subjects or not. It was the object of Menschikoff —which would have been obtained by the Vienna note-to confer on Russia a similar right of protection for members of the Greek Church. It was the determination of Stratford, enforced by the Porte's amendments, to limit this right to any privileges specially conceded to the Christian subjects of the Sultan.
1 Eastern Papers, Part ii. p. 81. 2 See Stratford's own account in ibid., Part i. p. 128. 3 See, again, Stratford's explanation, ibid., Part ii. p. 69.
If at that moment the British Ministry had calmly reviewed the position, it would probably have directed Stratford to tell the Porte that, should it persevere in declining to adopt the Vienna note, it would be left to deal with Russia alone. Unhappily, instead of taking this course, it followed the example of Austria and France 1 in asking Russia to accept the Porte's amendments. The Czar naturally declined to make any further concessions to the Sultan; his minister drew up, for the private information of his master, a statement of the reasons which made it impossible for him to do so. This statement, communicated in confidence to the Russian Minister at Vienna, found its way—it is not known how-into a Prussian paper.2 Europe was suddenly startled at finding that the Czar placed an interpretation on the Vienna note different from that which the Power which had drawn it up, and the Powers which had adopted it, intended it to bear. The nations, indeed, which had been parties to the conference attached a different significance to the circumstance. Austria redoubled her efforts England
to induce the Porte to accept the note; England
formally declined to recommend it any further.3 By support the Vienna note. this course the solid cohesion of the four Powers was dissolved. Prussia followed Austria in leaning towards the Russian side, while France readily supported the British Ministry in its novel determination to uphold the Porte.
Years afterwards,4 a member of the British Cabinet declared in his “Recollections” that, if he had been Prime Minister in 1853, he would have insisted on the acceptance of the Vienna note. It is, unfortunately, certain that the man who penned this sentence in his old age gave very different advice to his
1 For the action of Austria, see Lord Westmorland's despatch of 28th of August; for that of France, Lord Cowley's despatch of 30th of August; for that of England, Lord Clarendon's despatch of the ist of September, in Eastern Papers, Part ii. pp. 85, 86. The Government wished the four Powers to declare that the modifications proposed by the Porte did not make any change in the true sense of the note, and are adopted by them as their own interpretation of it, by which they are prepared to abide.
2 Diplomatic Study, vol. i. p. 217.