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The acceso sion of Alexander.
with disaster and ended with outrage, at once announced his
adherence to the policy of his father. His acceso sion, therefore, did not interrupt the proceedings
of the Conference; and, in the first instance, the diplomatists who assembled at Vienna succeeded in arriving at a welcome agreement. On the first two of the four points all the Powers admitted to the Conference were substantially in accord. On the third point no such agreement was possible. The Western Powers were determined that an effectual limitation should be placed on the naval strength of Russia in the Black Sea; and they defined this limit by a stipulation that she should not add to the six ships of war which they had ascertained she had still afloat.1 Russia, on the contrary, regarded any such condition as injurious to her dignity and her rights, and resused to assent to it. Russia, however, did not venture on absolutely rejecting the proposal of the allies. Instead of doing so, she offered either to consent to the opening of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus to the ships of war of all nations, or to allow the Sultan a discretion in determining whether he would open them to the vessels either of the Western Powers or of Russia.3 The Western Powers, however, were firm in their determination to prevent the fleets of Russia from passing into the Mediterranean, and refused the alternative. With its rejection the Conference practically terminated. After its members separated, Buol,
the Austrian Minister, endeavoured to evolve from The new
the Russian offer a possible compromise. If, he
argued, Russia would not consent to any limitation of her force in the Euxine, and if the Western Powers would not pay for their own admission to that sea by the possible passage of the Dardanelles by a Russian fleet, Russia might consent to a principle of counterpoise; under which, any addition to her own fleet might be followed by the admission of a corresponding number of war vessels of the allies into the Euxine. The integrity of Turkey might be
proposal oi Austria.
1 Hansard, vol. cxxxix. p. 566. Cf. Diplomatic Study, vol. ii. p. 315. 2 Ibid., 306. 3 Ibid. p. 308, and cf, Eastern Papers, Part viii. pp. 79, 89.
guaranteed both by Austria and the Western Powers. These arrangements, Buol thought, would effectually prevent a Russian attack on the possessions of the Porte either by sea or by land, and consequently effect the object of the Western Powers. 1
Drouyn de Lhuys, who personally conducted the negotiation on the part of France, and Russell, who represented England, both declared that Buol's alternative was outside
Favoured their instructions, and that they were consequently de Lhuys unable to accept it; but both of them expressed to and Russell
. Buol their readiness to support it, and both undertook to go home and recommend its adoption to their respective Governments. The Emperor of France and the Cabinet of England concurred, however, in disagreeing with their plenipontentiaries, and the alternative was consequently rejected. Upon its rejection, Drouyn de Lhuys at once resigned the office which he held in the emperor's ministry. On the other hand, Russell remained in the ministry, and, without disclosing the opinion which he had formed at Vienna, made a speech in favour of the prosecution of the war. Such a course naturally provoked the Austrian Minister to disclose the language which Russell had held at Vienna. Charged with it, Russell had nothing to offer except the inconvenience which would have been involved by his own resignation. But the excuse was not suffered to remain in force. The press denounced his conduct; Bulwer Lytton, giving ex
The resig. pression to the public verdict, gave notice of a motion censuring his position as well as his policy; and Russell, bending before the storm, retired from the ministry. 3
1 See, for this proposal, Russell's account, Hansard, vol. xxxix. p. 566. Sir T. Martin, in his Life of the Prince Consort, inserts a memorandum of the prince arguing that the alternative might be extended and accepted. But, oddly enough, he goes on to say that this memorandum was the cause of its rejection, vol. iii. p. 273. I am not writing a Life of the Prince Consort, and so I have abstained from criticising the part which he played throughout the negotiations and the war. His influence was so great that he almost succeeded in re-establishing personal government. 2 Hansard, vol. cxxxviii. p. 1075.
3 Ibid., vol. cxxxix. p. 889. He was succeeded as Colonial Secretary by
nation of Russell.
The rejection of the Austrian alternative necessitated the continuance of the war. But the struggle was resumed under conditions different from those on which it had previously been conducted. Austria, indeed, considered that the rejection of her proposal released her from the necessity of actively joining the Western Powers, and, instead of taking part in the war, reduced her armaments. But the Western Powers obtained other aid. The little State of Sardinia sent a contingent to the Crimea; Sweden joined the alliance. contingents of troops rapidly augmented the strength of the French and English armies, and finer weather as well as better management banished disease from the camp. In these circumstances the bombardment was renewed in April. In May a successful attack on Kertch and Yenikale, at the extreme east of the Crimea, proved the means of intercepting communication between Sebastopol and the Caucasian provinces, and of destroying vast stores intended for the sustenance of the garrison. In June the French, to whose command Pelissier, a Marshal of more robust fibre than Canrobert, had succeeded, made a successful attack on the Mamelon, while the English concurrently seized another vantage-ground. Men at home, cheered by the news of these successes, fancied that they were witnessing the beginning of the end.
Yet the end was not to come immediately. assault, delivered on the 18th of June, by the French on the
Malakhoff, by the English on the Redan, failed; of Raglan. and its failure, among other consequences, broke the heart of the old soldier - who for nine months had contmanded the English army. The Crimean war did not make any great military reputation. In his conduct of the cam
Sir W. Molesworth. I have, in my Life of Lord J. Russell, explained the reasons which made it impossible for that statesman to produce at the time an adequate defence of his conduct.
1 It was the fashion in this country to describe Austria's conduct at that time by very hard epithets. But it is interesting to observe that Russia was equally angry with her. Diplomatic Study, vol. ii. p. 294 seq. No one, perhaps, is so unpopular as the neutral.
paign, Raglan displayed none of those qualities which make men fit to command their fellow-men. As a general he did many things which he should not have done; he left undone other things which he should have done. Yet he displayed qualifications which were of essential service. He did much by his courtesy and conduct to perpetuate the French alliance; he displayed in the field a gallantry which was, perhaps, in his position excessive; he endured the privations and faced the dangers of the winter with a courage which merits high praise ; he bore an unjust attack of public and private critics with a patient dignity which disarms criticism ; and he sank at last, enfeebled by the difficulties and anxieties of a trust which he had no longer strength to fulfil. Those who criticise his career should remember all these circumstances. They should also recollect that even his capacity as a general does not suffer from any comparison with that of his successor, General Simpson. That officer had Simpson been sent out to the Crimea in the preceding winter; he had served under Raglan as chief of the staff; and he was now selected for the command. He had, at least, the credit which attaches to any military man who holds a responsible post in the crisis of an operation. For the crisis of the campaign had now come. On both sides supreme efforts were made to terminate the struggle. On the 16th of August the Russian army in force crossed the Tchernaya, attacked the French lines, but experienced a sharp repulse. On the 8th of September the assault of June was repeated; and, though the British were again driven back from the Redan, the French succeeded in carrying the Malakhoff. The Russians, recognising the significance of the defeat, set Sebastopol and their remaining ships on fire, and retreated to the northern bank of the harbour. After operations which had lasted for nearly a year, the allies were masters of the south side of the city.
It is, perhaps, unnecessary to prolong any further the narrative of operations which had little influence on history. The story of the defence of Kars and of the bombardment
larity of the
of Sweaborg have an interest of their own. But they had no effect on the events which followed or on the peace which ensued. Soon after the Vienna Conference was dissolved, indeed, it became evident that the war was approaching its
close. The cost and the sacrifices which it involved Unpopu.
were making the French people weary of the struggle, France. and the accidental circumstances which gave them in August and September the chief share in the glory disposed them to make peace. The reasons which made the French, however, eager for peace did not apply to the British. They, on the contrary, were mortified at their failures. Their expectations had been raised by the valour of their army at Alma, at Balaklava, and at Inkerman. But, since the day of Inkerman, their own share in the contest had added no new page of splendour to their country's story. The British troops had taken no part in the battle of the Tchernaya; their assaulting columns had been driven back on the 18th of June; they had been repulsed in the final attack on the Redan; and the heroic conduct of their own countrymen at Kars had not prevented the fall of that fortress. Men at home, anxious to account for the failure of their expectations, were beginning to say that Britain is like the runner, never really ripe for the struggle till he has gained his second wind.
They were reluctant that she should retire from the contest at the moment when, having repaired her defective administration and reinforced her shattered army, she was in a position to command a victory.
Whatever wishes, however, individual Englishmen might entertain, responsible statesmen, as the autumn wore on, could not conceal from themselves the necessity of finding some honourable means for terminating the war. In October the British Cabinet learned with dismay that the French Emperor had decided on withdrawing 100,000 men from the Crimea.1 About the same time the members of the Government learned with equal alarm that, if war were to be continued at all, the French public were demanding that France should secure
i Martin's Prince Consort, vol. iii. p. 383.