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History of Modern Europe 1792-1878 by C. A. Fyffe

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Germans, as neither Prussia nor the Federal Government possessed a fleet of
war. For some weeks hostilities were irresolutely continued in Schleswig,
while negotiations were pursued in foreign capitals and various forms of
compromise urged by foreign Powers. At length, on the 26th of August, an
armistice of seven months was agreed upon at Malm in Sweden by the
representatives of Denmark and Prussia, the Court of Copenhagen refusing to
recognise the German central Government at Frankfort or to admit its envoy
to the conferences. The terms of this armistice, when announced in Germany,
excited the greatest indignation, inasmuch as they declared all the acts of
the Provisional Government of Schleswig-Holstein null and void, removed all
German troops from the Duchies, and handed over their government during the
duration of the armistice to a Commission of which half the members were to
be appointed by the King of Denmark. Scornfully as Denmark had treated the
Assembly of Frankfort, the terms of the armistice nevertheless required its
sanction. The question was referred to a committee, which, under the
influence of the historian Dahlmann, himself formerly an official in
Holstein, pronounced for the rejection of the treaty. The Assembly, in a
scene of great excitement, resolved that the execution of the measures
attendant on the armistice should be suspended. The Ministry in consequence
resigned, and Dahlmann was called upon to replace it by one under his own
leadership. He proved unable to do so. Schmerling resumed office, and
demanded that the Assembly should reverse its vote. Though in severance
from Prussia the Central Government had no real means of carrying on a war
with Denmark, the most passionate opposition was made to this demand. The
armistice was, however, ultimately ratified by a small majority. Defeated
in the Assembly, the leaders of the extreme Democratic faction allied
themselves with the populace of Frankfort, which was ready for acts of
violence. Tumultuous meetings were held; the deputies who had voted for the
armistice were declared traitors to Germany. Barricades were erected, and
although the appearance of Prussian troops prevented an assault from being
made on the Assembly, its members were attacked in the streets, and two of
them murdered by the mob (Sept. 17th). A Republican insurrection was once
more attempted in Baden, but it was quelled without difficulty. [444]

[Berlin, April-Sept., 1848.]

The intervention of foreign Courts on behalf of Denmark had given
ostensible ground to the Prussian Government for not pursuing the war with
greater resolution; but though the fear of Russia undoubtedly checked King
Frederick William, this was not the sole, nor perhaps the most powerful
influence that worked upon him. The cause of Schleswig-Hulstein was, in
spite of its legal basis, in the main a popular and a revolutionary one,
and between the King of Prussia and the revolution there was an intense and
a constantly deepening antagonism. Since the meeting of the National
Assembly at Berlin on the 22nd of May the capital had been the scene of an
almost unbroken course of disorder. The Assembly, which was far inferior in
ability and character to that of Frankfort, soon showed itself unable to
resist the influence of the populace. On the 8th of June a resolution was
moved that the combatants in the insurrection of March deserved well of
their country. Had this motion been carried the King would have dissolved
the Assembly: it was outvoted, but the mob punished this concession to the
feelings of the monarch by outrages upon the members of the majority. A
Civic Guard was enrolled from citizens of the middle class, but it proved
unable to maintain order, and wholly failed to acquire the political
importance which was gained by the National Guard of Paris after the
revolution of 1830. Exasperated by their exclusion from service in the
Guard, the mob on the 14th of June stormed an arsenal and destroyed the
trophies of arms which they found there. Though violence reigned in the
streets the Assembly rejected a proposal for declaring the inviolability of
its members, and placed itself under the protection of the citizens of
Berlin. King Frederick William had withdrawn to Potsdam, where the leaders
of reaction gathered round him. He detested his Constitutional Ministers,
who, between a petulant king and a suspicious Parliament, were unable to
effect any useful work and soon found themselves compelled to relinquish
their office. In Berlin the violence of the working classes, the
interruption of business, the example of civil war in Paris, inclined men
of quiet disposition to a return to settled government at any price.
Measures brought forward by the new Ministry for the abolition of the
patrimonial jurisdictions, the hunting-rights and other feudal privileges
of the greater landowners, occasioned the organisation of a league for the
defence of property, which soon became the focus of powerful conservative
interests. Above all, the claims of the Archduke John, as Administrator of
the Empire, to the homage of the army, and the hostile attitude assumed
towards the army by the Prussian Parliament itself, exasperated the
military class and encouraged the king to venture on open resistance. A
tumult having taken place at Schweidnitz in Silesia, in which several
persons were shot by the soldiery, the Assembly, pending an investigation
into the circumstances, demanded that the Minister of War should publish an
order requiring the officers of the army to work with the citizens for the
realisation of Constitutional Government; and it called upon all officers
not loyally inclined to a Constitutional system to resign their commissions
as a matter of honour. Denying the right of the Chamber to act as a
military executive, the Minister of War refused to publish the order
required. The vote was repeated, and in the midst of threatening
demonstrations in the streets the Ministry resigned (Sept. 7th). [445]

[The Prussian army.]

[Count Brandenburg Minister, Nov. 2.]

[Prorogation of the Prussian Assembly, Nov. 9.]

It had been the distinguishing feature of the Prussian revolution that the
army had never for a moment wavered in its fidelity to the throne. The
success of the insurrection of March 18th had been due to the paucity of
troops and the errors of those in command, not to any military disaffection
such as had paralysed authority in Paris and in the Mediterranean States.
Each affront offered to the army by the democratic majority in the Assembly
supplied the King with new weapons; each slight passed upon the royal
authority deepened the indignation of the officers. The armistice of Malm
brought back to the neighbourhood of the capital a general who was longing
to crush the party of disorder, and regiments on whom he could rely; but
though there was now no military reason for delay, it was not until the
capture of Vienna by Windischgrtz had dealt a fatal blow at democracy in
Germany that Frederick William determined to have done with his own
mutinous Parliament and the mobs by which it was controlled. During
September and October the riots and tumults in the streets of Berlin
continued. The Assembly, which had rejected the draft of a Constitution
submitted to it by the Cabinet, debated the clauses of one drawn up by a
Committee of its own members, abolished nobility, orders and titles, and
struck out from the style of the sovereign the words that described him as
King by the Grace of God. When intelligence arrived in Berlin that the
attack of Windischgrtz upon Vienna had actually begun, popular passion
redoubled. The Assembly was besieged by an angry crowd, and a resolution in
favour of the intervention of Prussia was brought forward within the House.
This was rejected, and it was determined instead to invoke the mediation of
the Central Government at Frankfort between the Emperor and his subjects.
But the decision of the Assembly on this and every other point was now
matter of indifference. Events outstripped its deliberations, and with the
fall of Vienna its own course was run. On the 2nd of November the King
dismissed his Ministers and called to office the Count of Brandenburg, a
natural son of Frederick William II., a soldier in high command, and one of
the most outspoken representatives of the monarchical spirit of the army.
The meaning of the appointment was at once understood. A deputation from
the Assembly conveyed its protest to the King at Potsdam. The King turned
his back upon them without giving an answer, and on the 9th of November an
order was issued proroguing the Assembly, and bidding it to meet on the
27th at Brandenburg, not at Berlin.

[Last days of the Prussian Assembly.]

[Dissolution of the Assembly, Dec. 5.]

[Prussian Constitution granted by edict.]

The order of prorogation, as soon as signed by the King was brought into
the Assembly by the Ministers, who demanded that it should be obeyed
immediately and without discussion. The President allowing a debate to
commence, the Ministers and seventy-eight Conservative deputies left the
Hall. The remaining deputies, two hundred and eighty in number, then passed
a resolution declaring that they would not meet at Brandenburg; that the
King had no power to remove, to prorogue, or to dissolve the Assembly
without its own consent; and that the Ministers were unfit to hold office.
This challenge was answered by a proclamation of the Ministers declaring
the further meeting of the deputies illegal, and calling upon the Civic
Guard not to recognise them as a Parliament. On the following day General
Wrangel and his troops entered Berlin and surrounded the Assembly Hall. In
reply to the protests of the President, Wrangel answered that the
Parliament had been prorogued and must disappear. The members peaceably
left the Hall, but reassembled at another spot that they had selected in
anticipation of expulsion; and for some days they were pursued by the
military from one place of meeting to another. On the 15th of November they
passed a resolution declaring the expenditure of state funds and the
raising of taxes by the Government to be illegal so long as the Assembly
should not be permitted to continue its deliberations. The Ministry on its
part showed that it was determined not to brook resistance. The Civic Guard
was dissolved and ordered to surrender its arms. It did so without striking
a blow, and vanished from the scene, a memorable illustration of the
political nullity of the middle class in Berlin as compared with that of
Paris. The state of siege was proclaimed, the freedom of the Press and the
right of public meeting were suspended. On the 27th of November a portion
of the Assembly appeared, according to the King's order, at Brandenburg,
but the numbers present were not sufficient for the transaction of
business. The presence of the majority, however, was not required, for the
King had determined to give no further legal opportunities to the men who
had defied him. Treating the vote of November 15th as an act of rebellion
on the part of those concerned in it, the King dissolved the Assembly
(December 5th), and conferred upon Prussia a Constitution drawn up by his
own advisers, with the promise that this Constitution should be subject to
revision by the future representative body. Though the dissolution of the
Assembly occasioned tumults in Breslau and Cologne it was not actively
resented by the nation at large. The violence of the fallen body during its
last weeks of existence had exposed it to general discredit; its vote of
the 15th of November had been formally condemned by the Parliament of
Frankfort; and the liberal character of the new Constitution, which agreed
in the main with the draft-Constitution produced by the Committee of the
Assembly, disposed moderate men to the belief that in the conflict between
the King and the popular representatives the fault had not been on the side
of the sovereign.

[The Frankfort Parliament and Austria, Oct.-Dec.]

In the meantime the Parliament of Frankfort, warned against longer delay by
the disturbances of September 17th, had addressed itself in earnest to the
settlement of the Federal Constitution of Germany. Above a host of minor
difficulties two great problems confronted it at the outset. The first was
the relation of the Austrian Empire, with its partly German and partly
foreign territory, to the German national State; the other was the nature
of the headship to be established. As it was clear that the Austrian
Government could not apply the public law of Germany to its Slavic and
Hungarian provinces, it was enacted in the second article of the Frankfort
Constitution that where a German and a non-German territory had the same
sovereign, the relation between these countries must be one of purely
personal union under the sovereign, no part of Germany being incorporated
into a single State with any non-German land. At the time when this article
was drafted the disintegration of Austria seemed more probable than the
re-establishment of its unity; no sooner, however, had Prince Schwarzenberg
been brought into power by the subjugation of Vienna, than he made it plain
that the government of Austria was to be centralised as it had never been
before. In the first public declaration of his policy he announced that
Austria would maintain its unity and permit no exterior influence to modify
its internal organisation; that the settlement of the relations between
Austria and Germany could only be effected after each had gained some new
and abiding political form; and that in the meantime Austria would continue
to fulfil its duties as a confederate. [446] The interpretation put upon
this statement at Frankfort was that Austria, in the interest of its own
unity, preferred not to enter the German body, but looked forward to the
establishment of some intimate alliance with it at a future time. As the
Court of Vienna had evidently determined not to apply to itself the second
article of the Constitution, and an antagonism between German and Austrian
policy came within view, Schmerling, as an Austrian subject, was induced to
resign his office, and was succeeded in it by Gagern, hitherto President of
the Assembly (Dec. 16th). [447]

[The Frankfort Parliament and Austria, Dec., Jan.]

In announcing the policy of the new Ministry, Gagern assumed the exclusion
of Austria from the German Federation. Claiming for the Assembly, as the
representative of the German nation, sovereign power in drawing up the
Constitution, he denied that the Constitution could be made an object of
negotiation with Austria. As Austria refused to fulfil the conditions of
the second article, it must remain outside the Federation; the Ministry
desired, however, to frame some close and special connection between
Austria and Germany, and asked for authority to negotiate with the Court of
Vienna for this purpose. Gagern's declaration of the exclusion of Austria
occasioned a vehement and natural outburst of feeling among the Austrian
deputies, and was met by their almost unanimous protest. Some days later
there arrived a note from Schwarzenberg which struck at the root of all
that had been done and all that was claimed by the Assembly. Repudiating
the interpretation that had been placed upon his words, Schwarzenberg
declared that the affairs of Germany could only be settled by an
understanding between the Assembly and the Courts, and by an arrangement
with Austria, which was the recognised chief of the Governments and
intended to remain so in the new Federation. The question of the inclusion
or exclusion of Austria now threw into the shade all the earlier
differences between parties in the Assembly. A new dividing-line was drawn.
On the one side appeared a group composed of the Austrian representatives,
of Ultramontanes who feared a Protestant ascendency if Austria should be
excluded, and of deputies from some of the smaller States who had begun to
dread Prussian domination. On the other side was the great body of
representatives who set before all the cause of German national union, who
saw that this union would never be effected in any real form if it was made
to depend upon negotiations with the Austrian Court, and who held, with the
Minister, that to create a true German national State without the Austrian
provinces was better than to accept a phantom of complete union in which
the German people should be nothing and the Cabinet of Vienna everything.
Though coalitions and intrigues of parties obscured the political prospect
from day to day, the principles of Gagern were affirmed by a majority of
the Assembly, and authority to negotiate some new form of connection with
Austria, as a power outside the Federation, was granted to the Ministry.

[The Federal Headship.]

[King Frederick William IV. elected Emperor, March 28.]

The second great difficulty of the Assembly was the settlement of the
Federal headship. Some were for a hereditary Emperor, some for a President
or Board, some for a monarchy alternating between the Houses of Prussia and
Austria, some for a sovereign elected for life or for a fixed period. The
first decision arrived at was that the head should be one of the reigning
princes of Germany, and that he should bear the title of Emperor. Against
the hereditary principle there was a strong and, at first, a successful
opposition. Reserving for future discussion other questions relating to the
imperial office, the Assembly passed the Constitution through the first
reading on February 3rd, 1849. It was now communicated to all the German
Governments, with the request that they would offer their opinions upon it.
The four minor kingdoms--Saxony, Hanover, Bavaria, and Wrtemberg--with one
consent declared against any Federation in which Austria should not be
included; the Cabinet of Vienna protested against the subordination of the
Emperor of Austria to a central power vested in any other German prince,
and proposed that the entire Austrian Empire, with its foreign as well as
its German elements, should enter the Federation. This note was enough to
prove that Austria was in direct conflict with the scheme of national union
which the Assembly had accepted; but the full peril of the situation was
not perceived till on the 9th of March Schwarzenberg published the
Constitution of Olmtz, which extinguished all separate rights throughout
the Austrian Empire, and confounded in one mass, as subjects of the Emperor
Francis Joseph, Hungarians, Germans, Slavs and Italians. The import of the
Austrian demand now stood out clear and undisguised. Austria claimed to
range itself with a foreign population of thirty millions within the German
Federation; in other words, to reduce the German national union to a
partnership with all the nationalities of Central Europe, to throw the
weight of an overwhelming influence against any system of free
representative government, and to expose Germany to war where no interests
but those of the Pole or the Magyar might be at stake. So deep was the
impression made at Frankfort by the fall of the Kremsier Parliament and the
publication of Schwarzenberg's unitary edict, that one of the most eminent
of the politicians who had hitherto opposed the exclusion of Austria--the
Baden deputy Welcker--declared that further persistence in this course
would be treason to Germany. Ranging himself with the Ministry, he
proposed that the entire German Constitution, completed by a hereditary
chieftainship, should be passed at a single vote on the second reading, and
that the dignity of Emperor should be at once offered to the King of
Prussia. Though the Assembly declined to pass the Constitution by a single
vote, it agreed to vote upon clause by clause without discussion. The
hereditary principle was affirmed by the narrow majority of four in a House
of above five hundred. The second reading of the Constitution was completed
on the 27th of March, and on the following day the election of the
sovereign took place. Two hundred and ninety votes were given for the King
of Prussia. Two hundred and forty-eight members, hostile to the hereditary
principle or to the prince selected, abstained from voting. [448]

[Frederick William IV.]

Frederick William had from early years cherished the hope of seeing some
closer union of Germany established under Prussian influence. But he dwelt
in a world where there was more of picturesque mirage than of real insight.
He was almost superstitiously loyal to the House of Austria; and he failed
to perceive, what was palpable to men of far inferior endowments to his
own, that by setting Prussia at the head of the constitutional movement of
the epoch he might at any time from the commencement of his reign have
rallied all Germany round it. Thus the revolution of 1848 burst upon him,
and he was not the man to act or to lead in time of revolution. Even in
1848, had he given promptly and with dignity what, after blood had been
shed in his streets, he had to give with humiliation, he would probably
have been acclaimed Emperor on the opening of the Parliament of Frankfort,
and have been accepted by the universal voice of Germany. But the odium
cast upon him by the struggle of March 18th was so great that in the
election of a temporary Administrator of the Empire in June no single
member at Frankfort gave him a vote. Time was needed to repair his credit,
and while time passed Austria rose from its ruins. In the spring of 1849
Frederick William could not have assumed the office of Emperor of Germany
without risk of a war with Austria, even had he been willing to accept this
office on the nomination of the Frankfort Parliament. But to accept the
Imperial Crown from a popular Assembly was repugnant to his deepest
convictions. Clear as the Frankfort Parliament had been, as a whole, from
the taint of Republicanism or of revolutionary violence, it had
nevertheless had its birth in revolution: the crown which it offered would,
in the King's expression, have been picked up from blood and mire. Had the
princes of Germany by any arrangement with the Assembly tendered the crown
to Frederick William the case would have been different; a new Divine right
would have emanated from the old, and conditions fixed by negotiation
between the princes and the popular Assembly might have been endured. That
Frederick William still aspired to German leadership in one form or another
no one doubted; his disposition to seek or to reject an accommodation with
the Frankfort Parliament varied with the influences which surrounded him.
The Ministry led by the Count of Brandenburg, though anti-popular in its
domestic measures, was desirous of arriving at some understanding with
Gagern and the friends of German union. Shortly before the first reading of
the Constitution at Frankfort, a note had been drafted in the Berlin
Cabinet admitting under certain provisions the exclusion of Austria from
the Federation, and proposing, not that the Assembly should admit the right
of each Government to accept or reject the Constitution, but that it should
meet in a fair spirit such recommendations as all the Governments together
should by a joint act submit to it. This note, which would have rendered an
agreement between the Prussian Court and the Assembly possible, Frederick
William at first refused to sign. He was induced to do so (Jan. 23rd) by
his confidant Bunsen, who himself was authorised to proceed to Frankfort.
During Bunsen's absence despatches arrived at Berlin from Schwarzenberg,
who, in his usual resolute way, proposed to dissolve the Frankfort
Assembly, and to divide Germany between Austria, Prussia, and the four
secondary kingdoms. Bunsen on his return found his work undone; the King
recoiled under Austrian pressure from the position which he had taken up,
and sent a note to Frankfort on the 16th of February, which described
Austria as a necessary part of Germany and claimed for each separate
Government the right to accept or reject the Constitution as it might think
fit. Thus the acceptance of the headship by Frederick William under any
conditions compatible with the claims of the Assembly was known to be
doubtful when, on the 28th of March, the majority resolved to offer him the
Imperial Crown. The disposition of the Ministry at Berlin was indeed still
favourable to an accommodation; and when, on the 2nd of April, the members
of the Assembly who were charged to lay its offer before Frederick William
arrived at Berlin, they were received with such cordiality by Brandenburg
that it was believed the King's consent had been won.

[Frederick William IV. refuses the Crown, April 3.]

The reply of the King to the deputation on the following day rudely
dispelled these hopes. He declared that before he could accept the Crown
not only must he be summoned to it by the Princes of Germany, but the
consent of all the Governments must be given to the Constitution. In other
words, he required that the Assembly should surrender its claims to
legislative supremacy, and abandon all those parts of the Federal
Constitution of which any of the existing Governments disapproved. As it
was certain that Austria and the four minor kingdoms would never agree to
any Federal union worthy of the name, and that the Assembly could not now,
without renouncing its past, admit that the right of framing the
Constitution lay outside itself, the answer of the King was understood to
amount to a refusal. The deputation left Berlin in the sorrowful conviction
that their mission had failed; and a note which was soon afterwards
received at Frankfort from the King showed that this belief was
correct. [449]

[The Frankfort Constitution rejected by the Governments.]

The answer of King Frederick William proved indeed much more than that he
had refused the Crown of Germany; it proved that he would not accept the
Constitution which the Assembly had enacted. The full import of this
determination, and the serious nature of the crisis now impending over
Germany, were at once understood. Though twenty-eight Governments
successively accepted the Constitution, these were without exception petty
States, and their united forces would scarcely have been a match for one of
its more powerful enemies. On the 5th of April the Austrian Cabinet
declared the Assembly to have been guilty of illegality in publishing the
Constitution, and called upon all Austrian deputies to quit Frankfort. The
Prussian Lower Chamber, elected under the King's recent edict, having
protested against the state of siege in Berlin, and having passed a
resolution in favour of the Frankfort Constitution, was forthwith
dissolved. Within the Frankfort Parliament the resistance of Governments
excited a patriotic resentment and caused for the moment a union of
parties. Resolutions were passed declaring that the Assembly would adhere
to the Constitution. A Committee was charged with the ascertainment of
measures to be adopted for enforcing its recognition; and a note was
addressed to all the hostile Governments demanding that they should abstain
from proroguing or dissolving the representative bodies within their
dominions with the view of suppressing the free utterance of opinions in
favour of the Constitution.

[End of the German National Assembly, June, 1849.]

On the ground of this last demand the Prussian official Press now began to
denounce the Assembly of Frankfort as a revolutionary body. The situation
of affairs daily became worse. It was in vain that the Assembly appealed to
the Governments, the legislative Chambers, the local bodies, the whole
people, to bring the Constitution into effect. The moral force on which it
had determined to rely proved powerless, and in despair of conquering the
Governments by public opinion the more violent members of the democratic
party determined to appeal to insurrection. On the 4th of May a popular
rising began at Dresden, where the King, under the influence of Prussia,
had dismissed those of his Ministers who urged him to accept the
Constitution, and had dissolved his Parliament. The outbreak drove the King
from his capital; but only five days had passed when a Prussian army-corps
entered the city and crushed the rebellion. In this interval, short as it
was, there had been indications that the real leaders of the insurrection
were fighting not for the Frankfort Constitution but for a Republic, and
that in the event of their victory a revolutionary Government, connected
with French and Polish schemes of subversion, would come into power. In
Baden this was made still clearer. There the Government of the Grand Duke
had actually accepted the Frankfort Constitution, and had ordered elections
to be held for the Federal legislative body by which the Assembly was to be
succeeded. Insurrection nevertheless broke out. The Republic was openly
proclaimed; the troops joined the insurgents; and a Provisional Government
allied itself with a similar body that had sprung into being with the help
of French and Polish refugees in the neighbouring Palatinate. Conscious
that these insurrections must utterly ruin its own cause, the Frankfort
Assembly on the suggestion of Gagern called upon the Archduke John to
suppress them by force of arms, and at the same time to protect the free
expression of opinion on behalf of the Constitution where threatened by
Governments. John, who had long clung to his office only to further the
ends of Austria, refused to do so, and Gagern in consequence resigned. With
his fall ended the real political existence of the Assembly. In reply to a
resolution which it passed on the 10th of May, calling upon John to employ
all the forces of Germany in defence of the Constitution, the Archduke
placed a mock-Ministry in office. The Prussian Government, declaring the
vote of the 10th of May to be a summons to civil war, ordered all Prussian
deputies to withdraw from the Assembly, and a few days later its example
was imitated by Saxony and Hanover. On the 20th of May sixty-five of the
best known of the members, including Arndt and Dahlmann, placed on record
their belief that in the actual situation the relinquishment of the task of
the Assembly was the least of evils, and declared their work at Frankfort
ended. Other groups followed them till there remained only the party of the
extreme Left, which had hitherto been a weak minority, and which in no
sense represented the real opinions of Germany. This Rump-Parliament,
troubling itself little with John and his Ministers, determined to withdraw
from Frankfort, where it dreaded the appearance of Prussian troops, into
Wrtemberg, where it might expect some support from the revolutionary
Governments of Baden and the Palatinate. On the 6th of June a hundred and
five deputies assembled at Stuttgart. There they proceeded to appoint a
governing Committee for all Germany, calling upon the King of Wrtemberg to
supply them with seven thousand soldiers, and sending out emissaries to
stir up the neighbouring population. But the world disregarded them. The
Government at Stuttgart, after an interval of patience, bade them begone;
and on the 18th of June their hall was closed against them and they were
dispersed by troops, no one raising a hand on their behalf. The overthrow
of the insurgents who had taken up arms in Baden and the Palatinate was not
so easy a matter. A campaign of six weeks was necessary, in which the army
of Prussia, led by the Prince of Prussia, sustained some reverses, before
the Republican levies were crushed, and with the fall of Rastadt the
insurrection was brought to a close. [450]

[The Baden insurrection suppressed, July, 1849.]

[Prussia attempts to form a separate union.]

The end of the German Parliament, on which the nation had set such high
hopes and to which it had sent so much of what was noblest in itself,
contrasted lamentably with the splendour of its opening. Whether a better
result would have been attained if, instead of claiming supreme authority
in the construction of Federal union, the Assembly had from the first
sought the co-operation of the Governments, must remain matter of
conjecture. Austria would under all circumstances have been the great
hindrance in the way; and after the failure of the efforts made at
Frankfort to establish the general union of Germany, Austria was able
completely to frustrate the attempts which were now made at Berlin to
establish partial union upon a different basis. In notifying to the
Assembly his refusal of the Imperial Crown, King Frederick William had
stated that he was resolved to place himself at the head of a Federation to
be formed by States voluntarily uniting with him under terms to be
subsequently arranged; and in a circular note addressed to the German
Governments he invited such as were disposed to take counsel with Prussia
to unite in Conference at Berlin. The opening of the Conference was fixed
for the 17th of May. Two days before this the King issued a proclamation to
the Prussian people announcing that in spite of the failure of the Assembly
of Frankfort a German union was still to be formed. When the Conference
opened at Berlin, no envoys appeared but those of Austria, Saxony, Hanover,
and Bavaria. The Austrian representative withdrew at the end of the first
sitting, the Bavarian rather later, leaving Prussia to lay such foundations
as it could for German unity with the temporising support of Saxony and
Hanover. A confederation was formed, known as the League of the Three
Kingdoms. An undertaking was given that a Federal Parliament should be
summoned, and that a Constitution should be made jointly by this Parliament
and the Governments (May 26th). On the 11th of June the draft of a Federal
Constitution was published. As the King of Prussia was apparently acting in
good faith, and the draft-Constitution in spite of some defects seemed to
afford a fair basis for union, the question now arose among the leaders of
the German national movement whether the twenty-eight States which had
accepted the ill-fated Constitution of Frankfort ought or ought not to
enter the new Prussian League. A meeting of a hundred and fifty ex-members
of the Frankfort Parliament was held at Gotha; and although great
indignation was expressed by the more democratic faction, it was determined
that the scheme now put forward by Prussia deserved a fair trial. The whole
of the twenty-eight minor States consequently entered the League, which
thus embraced all Germany with the exception of Austria, Bavaria and
Wrtemberg. But the Courts of Saxony and Hanover had from the first been
acting with duplicity. The military influence of Prussia, and the fear
which they still felt of their own subjects, had prevented them from
offering open resistance to the renewed work of Federation; but they had
throughout been in communication with Austria, and were only waiting for
the moment when the complete restoration of Austria's military strength
should enable them to display their true colours. During the spring of
1849, while the Conferences at Berlin were being held, Austria was still
occupied with Hungary and Venice. The final overthrow of these enemies
enabled it to cast its entire weight upon Germany. The result was seen in
the action of Hanover and Saxony, which now formally seceded from the
Federation. Prussia thus remained at the end of 1849 with no support but
that of the twenty-eight minor States. Against it, in open or in tacit
antagonism to the establishment of German unity in any effective form, the
four secondary Kingdoms stood ranged by the side of Austria.

[Prussia in 1849.]

[The Union Parliament at Erfurt, March 1850.]

It was not until the 20th of March, 1850, that the Federal Parliament,
which had been promised ten months before on the incorporation of the new
League, assembled at Erfurt. In the meantime reaction had gone far in many
a German State. In Prussia, after the dissolution of the Lower Chamber on
April 27th, 1849, the King had abrogated the electoral provisions of the
Constitution so recently granted by himself, and had substituted for them a
system based on the representation of classes. Treating this act as a
breach of faith, the Democratic party had abstained from voting at the
elections, with the result that in the Berlin Parliament of 1850
Conservatives, Reactionists, and officials formed the great majority. The
revision of the Prussian Constitution, promised at first as a concession to
Liberalism, was conducted in the opposite sense. The King demanded the
strengthening of monarchical power; the Feudalists, going far beyond him,
attacked the municipal and social reforms of the last two years, and sought
to lead Prussia back to the system of its medival estates. It was in the
midst of this victory of reaction in Prussia that the Federal Parliament at
Erfurt began its sittings. Though the moderate Liberals, led by Gagern and
other tried politicians of Frankfurt, held the majority in both Houses, a
strong Absolutist party from Prussia confronted them, and it soon became
clear that the Prussian Government was ready to play into the hands of this
party. The draft of the Federal Constitution, which had been made at
Berlin, was presented, according to the undertaking of May 28th, 1849, to
the Erfurt Assembly. Aware of the gathering strength of the reaction and of
the danger of delay, the Liberal majority declared itself ready to pass the
draft into law without a single alteration. The reactionary minority
demanded that a revision should take place; and, to the scandal of all who
understood the methods or the spirit of Parliamentary rule, the Prussian
Ministers united with the party which demanded alterations in the project
which they themselves had brought forward. A compromise was ultimately
effected; but the action of the Court of Prussia and the conduct of its
Ministers throughout the Erfurt debates struck with deep despondency those
who had believed that Frederick William might still effect the work in
which the Assembly of Frankfort had failed. The trust in the King's
sincerity or consistence of purpose sank low. The sympathy of the national
Liberal party throughout Germany was to a great extent alienated from
Prussia; while, if any expectation existed at Berlin that the adoption of a
reactionary policy would disarm the hostility of the Austrian Government to
the new League, this hope was wholly vain and baseless. [451]

[Action of Austria.]

Austria had from the first protested against the attempt of the King of
Prussia to establish any new form of union in Germany, and had declared
that it would recognise none of the conclusions of the Federal Parliament
of Erfurt. According to the theory now advanced by the Cabinet of Vienna
the ancient Federal Constitution of Germany was still in force. All that
had happened since March, 1848, was so much wanton and futile
mischief-making. The disturbance of order had at length come to an end, and
with the exit of the rioters the legitimate powers re-entered into their
rights. Accordingly, there could be no question of the establishment of new
Leagues. The old relation of all the German States to one another under the
ascendency of Austria remained in full strength; the Diet of Frankfort,
which had merely suspended its functions and by no means suffered
extinction, was still the legitimate central authority. That some
modifications might be necessary in the ancient Constitution was the most
that Austria was willing to admit. This, however, was an affair not for the
German people but for its rulers, and Austria accordingly invited all the
Governments to a Congress at Frankfort where the changes necessary might be
discussed. In reply to this summons, Prussia strenuously denied that the
old Federal Constitution was still in existence. The princes of the
numerous petty States which were included in the new Union assembled at
Berlin round Frederick William, and resolved that they would not attend the
Conference at Frankfort except under reservations and conditions which
Austria would not admit. Arguments and counter-arguments were exchanged;
but the controversy between an old and a new Germany was one to be decided
by force of will or force of arms, not by political logic. The struggle was
to be one between Prussia and Austria, and the Austrian Cabinet had well
gauged the temper of its opponent. A direct summons to submission would
have roused all the King's pride, and have been answered by war. Before
demanding from Frederick William the dissolution of the Union which he had
founded, Schwarzenberg determined to fix upon a quarrel in which the King
should be perplexed or alarmed at the results of his own policy. The
dominant conviction in the mind of Frederick William was that of the
sanctity of monarchical rule. If the League of Berlin could be committed to
some enterprise hostile to monarchical power, and could be charged with an
alliance with rebellion, Frederick William would probably falter in his
resolutions, and a resort to arms, for which, however, Austria was well
prepared, would become unnecessary. [452]

[Hesse-Cassel.]

[The Diet of Frankfort restored, Sept., 1850.]

[Prussia and Austria.]

[The Warsaw meeting, Oct. 29, 1850.]

[Manteuffel at Olmtz, Nov. 29.]

Among the States whose Governments had been forced by public opinion to
join the new Federation was the Electorate of Hesse-Cassel. The Elector
was, like his predecessors, a thorough despot at heart, and chafed under
the restrictions which a constitutional system imposed upon his rule.
Acting under Austrian instigation, he dismissed his Ministers in the spring
of 1850, and placed in office one Hassenpflug, a type of the worst and most
violent class of petty tyrants produced by the officialism of the minor
German States. Hassenpflug immediately quarrelled with the Estates at
Cassel, and twice dissolved them, after which he proceeded to levy taxes by
force. The law-courts declared his acts illegal; the officers of the army,
when called on for assistance, began to resign. The conflict between the
Minister and the Hessian population was in full progress when, at the
beginning of September, Austria with its vassal Governments proclaimed the
re-establishment of the Diet of Frankfort. Though Prussia and most of the
twenty-eight States confederate with it treated this announcement as null
and void, the Diet, constituted by the envoys of Austria, the four minor
Kingdoms, and a few seceders from the Prussian Union, commenced its
sittings. To the Diet the Elector of Hesse forthwith appealed for help
against his subjects, and the decision was given that the refusal of the
Hessian Estates to grant the taxes was an offence justifying the
intervention of the central power. Fortified by this judgment, Hassenpflug
now ordered that every person offering resistance to the Government should
be tried by court-martial. He was baffled by the resignation of the entire
body of officers in the Hessian army; and as this completed the
discomfiture of the Elector, the armed intervention of Austria, as
identified with the Diet of Frankfort, now became a certainty. But to the
protection of the people of Hesse in their constitutional rights Prussia,
as chief of the League which Hesse had joined, stood morally pledged. It
remained for the King to decide between armed resistance to Austria or the
humiliation of a total abandonment of Prussia's claim to leadership in any
German union. Conflicting influences swayed the King in one direction and
another. The friends of Austria and of absolutism declared that the
employment of the Prussian army on behalf of the Hessians would make the
King an accomplice of revolution: the bolder and more patriotic spirits
protested against the abdication of Prussia's just claims and the evasion
of its responsibilities towards Germany. For a moment the party of action,
led by the Prince of Prussia, gained the ascendant. General Radowitz, the
projector of the Union, was called to the Foreign Ministry, and Prussian
troops entered Hesse. Austria now ostentatiously prepared for war.
Frederick William, terrified by the danger confronting him, yet unwilling
to yield all, sought the mediation of the Czar of Russia. Nicholas came
to Warsaw, where the Emperor of Austria and Prince Charles, brother of
the King of Prussia, attended by the Ministers of their States, met him.
The closest family ties united the Courts of St. Petersburg and Berlin
but the Russian sovereign was still the patron of Austria as he had been
in the Hungarian campaign. He resented the action of Prussia in
Schleswig-Holstein, and was offended that King Frederick William had not
presented himself at Warsaw in person. He declared in favour of all
Austria's demands, and treated Count Brandenburg with such indignity that
the Count, a high-spirited patriot, never recovered from its effect. He
returned to Berlin only to give in his report and die. Manteuffel,
Minister of the Interior, assured the King that the Prussian army was so
weak in numbers and so defective in organisation that, if it took the
field against Austria and its allies, it would meet with certain ruin.
Bavarian troops, representing the Diet of Frankfort, now entered Hesse at
Austria's bidding, and stood face to face with the Prussians. The moment
had come when the decision must be made between peace and war. At a
Council held at Berlin on November and the peace-party carried the King
with them. Radowitz gave up office; Manteuffel, the Minister of
repression within and of submission without, was set at the head of the
Government. The meaning of his appointment was well understood, and with
each new proof of the weakness of the King the tone of the Court of
Austria became more imperious. On the 9th of November Schwarzenberg
categorically demanded the dissolution of the Prussian Union, the
recognition of the Federal Diet, and the evacuation of Hesse by the
Prussian troops. The first point was at once conceded, and in hollow,
equivocating language Manteuffel made the fact known to the members of
the Confederacy. The other conditions not being so speedily fulfilled,
Schwarzenberg set Austrian regiments in motion, and demanded the
withdrawal of the Prussian troops from Hesse within twenty-four hours.
Manteuffel begged the Austrian Minister for an interview, and, without
waiting for an answer, set out for Olmtz. His instructions bade him to
press for certain concessions; none of these did he obtain, and he made
the necessary submission without them. On the 29th of November a convention
was signed at Olmtz, in which Prussia recognised the German Federal
Constitution of 1815 as still existing, undertook to withdraw all its
troops from Hesse with the exception of a single battalion, and consented
to the settlement of affairs both in Hesse and in Schleswig-Holstein by the
Federal Diet. One point alone in the scheme of the Austrian statesman was
wanting among the fruits of his victory at Olmtz and of the negotiations
at Dresden by which this was followed. Schwarzenberg had intended that the
entire Austrian Empire should enter the German Federation; and if he had
had to reckon with no opponents but the beaten and humbled Prussia, he
would have effected his design. But the prospect of a central European
Power, with a population of seventy millions, controlled as this would
virtually be by the Cabinet of Vienna, alarmed other nations. England
declared that such a combination would undo the balance of power in Europe
and menace the independence of Germany; France protested in more
threatening terms; and the project fell to the ground, to be remembered
only as the boldest imagination of a statesman for whom fortune, veiling
the Nemesis in store, seemed to set no limit to its favours.

[Schleswig-Holstein.]

[The German National Fleet sold by auction, June, 1852.]

The cause of Schleswig-Holstein, so intimately bound up with the efforts of
the Germans towards national union, sank with the failure of these efforts;
and in the final humiliation of Prussia it received what might well seem
its death-blow. The armistice of Malm, which was sanctioned by the
Assembly of Frankfort in the autumn of 1848, lasted until March 26th, 1849.
War was then recommenced by Prussia, and the lines of Dppel were stormed
by its troops, while the volunteer forces of Schleswig-Holstein
unsuccessfully laid siege to Fredericia. Hostilities had continued for
three months, when a second armistice, to last for a year, and
Preliminaries of Peace, were agreed upon. At the conclusion of this
armistice, in July, 1850, Prussia, in the name of Germany, made peace with
Denmark. The inhabitants of the Duchies in consequence continued the war
for themselves, and though defeated with great loss at Idstedt on the 24th
of July, they remained unconquered at the end of the year. This was the
situation of affairs when Prussia, by the Treaty of Olmtz, agreed that the
restored Federal Diet should take upon itself the restoration of order in
Schleswig-Holstein, and that the troops of Prussia should unite with those
of Austria to enforce its decrees. To the Cabinet of Vienna, the foe in
equal measure of German national union and of every democratic cause, the
Schleswig-Holsteiners were simply rebels in insurrection against their
Sovereign. They were required by the Diet, under Austrian dictation, to lay
down their arms; and commissioners from Austria and Prussia entered the
Duchies to compel them to do so. Against Denmark, Austria, and Prussia
together, it was impossible for Schleswig-Holstein to prolong its
resistance. The army was dissolved, and the Duchies were handed over to the
King of Denmark, to return to the legal status which was defined in the
Treaties of Peace. This was the nominal condition of the transfer; but the
Danish Government treated Schleswig as part of its national territory, and
in the northern part of the Duchy the process of substituting Danish for
German nationality was actively pursued. The policy of foreign Courts,
little interested in the wish of the inhabitants, had from the beginning of
the struggle of the Duchies against Denmark favoured the maintenance and
consolidation of the Danish Kingdom. The claims of the Duke of
Augustenburg, as next heir to the Duchies in the male line, were not
considered worth the risk of a new war; and by a protocol signed at London
on the 2nd of August, 1850, the Powers, with the exception of Prussia,
declared themselves in favour of a single rule of succession in all parts
of the Danish State. By a Treaty of the 8th of May, 1852, to which Prussia
gave its assent, the pretensions of all other claimants to the disputed
succession were set aside, and Prince Christian, of the House of
Glcksburg, was declared heir to the throne, the rights of the German
Federation as established by the Treaties of 1815 being reserved. In spite
of this reservation of Federal rights, and of the stipulations in favour of
Schleswig and Holstein made in the earlier agreements, the Duchies appeared
to be now practically united with the Danish State. Prussia, for a moment
their champion, had joined with Austria in coercing their army, in
dissolving their Government, in annulling the legislation by which the
Parliament of Frankfort had made them participators in public rights
thenceforward to be the inheritance of all Germans. A page in the national
history was obliterated; Prussia had turned its back on its own
professions; there remained but one relic from the time when the whole
German people seemed so ardent for the emancipation of its brethren beyond
the frontier. The national fleet, created by the Assembly of Frankfort for
the prosecution of the struggle with Denmark, still lay at the mouth of the
Elbe. But the same power which had determined that Germany was not to be a
nation had also determined that it could have no national maritime
interests. After all that had passed, authority had little call to be nice
about appearances; and the national fleet was sold by auction, in
accordance with a decree of the restored Diet of Frankfort, in the summer
of 1852. [453]

[Germany after 1849.]

It was with deep disappointment and humiliation that the Liberals of
Germany, and all in whom the hatred of democratic change had not
overpowered the love of country, witnessed the issue of the movement of
1848. In so far as that movement was one directed towards national union it
had totally failed, and the state of things that had existed before 1848
was restored without change. As a movement of constitutional and social
reform, it had not been so entirely vain; nor in this respect can it be
said that Germany after the year 1848 returned altogether to what it was
before it. Many of the leading figures of the earlier time re-appeared
indeed with more or less of lustre upon the stage. Metternich though
excluded from office by younger men, beamed upon Vienna with the serenity
of a prophet who had lived to see most of his enemies shot and of a martyr
who had returned to one of the most enviable Salons in Europe. No dynasty
lost its throne, no class of the population had been struck down with
proscription as were the clergy and the nobles of France fifty years
before. Yet the traveller familiar with Germany before the revolution found
that much of the old had now vanished, much of a new world come into being.
It was not sought by the re-established Governments to undo at one stroke
the whole of the political, the social, the agrarian legislation of the
preceding time, as in some other periods of reaction. The nearest approach
that was made to this was in a decree of the Diet annulling the Declaration
of Rights drawn up by the Frankfort Assembly, and requiring the Governments
to bring into conformity with the Federal Constitution all laws and
institutions made since the beginning of 1848. Parliamentary government was
thereby enfeebled, but not necessarily extinguished. Governments narrowed
the franchise, curtailed the functions of representative assemblies, filled
these with their creatures, coerced voters at elections; but, except in
Austria, there was no open abandonment of constitutional forms. In some
States, as in Saxony under the reactionary rule of Count Beust, the system
of national representation established in 1848 was abolished and the
earlier Estates were revived; in Prussia the two Houses of Parliament
continued in existence, but in such dependence upon the royal authority,
and under such strong pressure of an aristocratic and official reaction,
that, after struggling for some years in the Lower House, the Liberal
leaders at length withdrew in despair. The character which Government now
assumed in Prussia was indeed far more typical of the condition of Germany
at large than was the bold and uncompromising despotism of Prince
Schwarzenberg in Austria. Manteuffel, in whom the Prussian epoch of
reaction was symbolised, was not a cruel or a violent Minister; but his
rule was stamped with a peculiar and degrading meanness, more irritating to
those who suffered under it than harsher wrong. In his hands government was
a thing of eavesdropping and espionage, a system of petty persecution, a
school of subservience and hypocrisy. He had been the instrument at Olmtz
of such a surrender of national honour and national interests as few
nations have ever endured with the chances of war still untried. This
surrender may, in the actual condition of the Prussian army, have been
necessary, but the abasement of it seemed to cling to Manteuffel and to
lower all his conceptions of government. Even where the conclusions of his
policy were correct they seemed to have been reached by some unworthy
process. Like Germany at large, Prussia breathed uneasily under an
oppression which was everywhere felt and yet was hard to define. Its best
elements were those which suffered the most: its highest intellectual and
political aims were those which most excited the suspicion of the
Government. Its King had lost whatever was stimulating or elevated in his
illusions. From him no second alliance with Liberalism, no further effort
on behalf of German unity, was to be expected: the hope for Germany and for
Prussia, if hope there was, lay in a future reign.

[Austria after 1851.]

[Austrian Concordat, Sept. 18, 1855.]

The powerlessness of Prussia was the measure of Austrian influence and
prestige. The contrast presented by Austria in 1848 and Austria in 1851 was
indeed one that might well arrest political observers. Its recovery had no
doubt been effected partly by foreign aid, and in the struggle with the
Magyars a dangerous obligation had been incurred towards Russia; but
scarred and riven as the fabric was within, it was complete and imposing
without. Not one of the enemies who in 1848 had risen against the Court of
Vienna now remained standing. In Italy, Austria had won back what had
appeared to be hopelessly lost; in Germany it had more than vindicated its
old claims. It had thrown its rival to the ground, and the full measure of
its ambition was perhaps even yet not satisfied. "First to humiliate
Prussia, then to destroy it," was the expression in which Schwarzenberg
summed up his German policy. Whether, with his undoubted firmness and
daring, the Minister possessed the intellectual qualities and the
experience necessary for the successful administration of an Empire built
up, as Austria now was, on violence and on the suppression of every
national force, was doubted even by his admirers. The proof, however, was
not granted to him, for a sudden death carried him off in his fourth year
of power (April 5th, 1852). Weaker men succeeded to his task. The epoch of
military and diplomatic triumph was now ending, the gloomier side of the
reaction stood out unrelieved by any new succession of victories. Financial
disorder grew worse and worse. Clericalism claimed its bond from the
monarchy which it had helped to restore. In the struggle of the
nationalities of Austria against the central authority the Bishops had on
the whole thrown their influence on to the side of the Crown. The restored
despotism owed too much to their help and depended too much on their
continued goodwill to be able to refuse their demands. Thus the new
centralised administration, reproducing in general the uniformity of
government attempted by the Emperor Joseph II., contrasted with this in its
subservience to clerical power. Ecclesiastical laws and jurisdictions were
allowed to encroach on the laws and jurisdiction of the State; education
was made over to the priesthood; within the Church itself the bishops were
allowed to rule uncontrolled. The very Minister who had taken office under
Schwarzenberg as the representative of the modern spirit, to which the
Government still professed to render homage, became the instrument of an
act of submission to the Papacy which marked the lowest point to which
Austrian policy fell. Alexander Bach, a prominent Liberal in Vienna at the
beginning of 1848, had accepted office at the price of his independence,
and surrendered himself to the aristocratic and clerical influences that
dominated the Court. Consistent only in his efforts to simplify the forms
of government, to promote the ascendency of German over all other elements
in the State, to maintain the improvement in the peasant's condition
effected by the Parliament of Kremsier, Bach, as Minister of the Interior,
made war in all other respects on his own earlier principles. In the former
representative of the Liberalism of the professional classes in Vienna
absolutism had now its most efficient instrument; and the Concordat
negotiated by Bach with the Papacy in 1855 marked the definite submission
of Austria to the ecclesiastical pretensions which in these years of
political languor and discouragement gained increasing recognition
throughout Central Europe. Ultramontanism had sought allies in many
political camps since the revolution of 1848. It had dallied in some
countries with Republicanism; but its truer instincts divined in the
victory of absolutist systems its own surest gain. Accommodations between
the Papacy and several of the German Governments were made in the years
succeeding 1849; and from the centralised despotism of the Emperor Francis
Joseph the Church won concessions which since the time of Maria Theresa it
had in vain sought from any ruler of the Austrian State.

[France after 1848.]

[Louis Napoleon.]

The European drama which began in 1848 had more of unity and more of
concentration in its opening than in its close. In Italy it ends with the
fall of Venice; in Germany the interest lingers till the days of Olmtz; in
France there is no decisive break in the action until the Coup d'Etat
which, at the end of the year 1851, made Louis Napoleon in all but name
Emperor of France. The six million votes which had raised Louis Napoleon to
the Presidency of the Republic might well have filled with alarm all who
hoped for a future of constitutional rule; yet the warning conveyed by the
election seems to have been understood by but few. As the representative of
order and authority, as the declared enemy of Socialism, Louis Napoleon was
on the same side as the Parliamentary majority; he had even been supported
in his candidature by Parliamentary leaders such as M. Thiers. His victory
was welcomed as a victory over Socialism and the Red Republic; he had
received some patronage from the official party of order, and it was
expected that, as nominal chief of the State, he would act as the
instrument of this party. He was an adventurer, but an adventurer with so
little that was imposing about him, that it scarcely occurred to men of
influence in Paris to credit him with the capacity for mischief. His mean
look and spiritless address, the absurdities of his past, the
insignificance of his political friends, caused him to be regarded during
his first months of public life with derision rather than with fear. The
French, said M. Thiers long afterwards, made two mistakes about Louis
Napoleon: the first when they took him for a fool, the second when they
took him for a man of genius. It was not until the appearance of the letter
to Colonel Ney, in which the President ostentatiously separated himself
from his Ministers and emphasised his personal will in the direction of the
foreign policy of France, that suspicions of danger to the Republic from
his ambition arose. From this time, in the narrow circle of the Ministers
whom official duty brought into direct contact with the President, a
constant sense of insecurity and dread of some new surprise on his part
prevailed, though the accord which had been broken by the letter to Colonel
Ney was for a while outwardly re-established, and the forms of
Parliamentary government remained unimpaired.

[Message of Oct. 31, 1849.]

The first year of Louis Napoleon's term of office was drawing to a close
when a message from him was delivered to the Assembly which seemed to
announce an immediate attack upon the Constitution. The Ministry in office
was composed of men of high Parliamentary position; it enjoyed the entire
confidence of a great majority in the Assembly, and had enforced with at
least sufficient energy the measures of public security which the President
and the country seemed agreed in demanding. Suddenly, on the 31st of
October, the President announced to the Assembly by a message carried by
one of his aides-de-camp that the Ministry were dismissed. The reason
assigned for their dismissal was the want of unity within the Cabinet
itself; but the language used by the President announced much more than a
ministerial change. "France, in the midst of confusion, seeks for the hand,
the will of him whom it elected on the 10th of December. The victory won on
that day was the victory of a system, for the name of Napoleon is in itself
a programme. It signifies order, authority, religion, national prosperity
within; national dignity without. It is this policy, inaugurated by my
election, that I desire to carry to triumph with the support of the
Assembly and of the people." In order to save the Republic from anarchy, to
maintain the prestige of France among other nations, the President declared
that he needed men of action rather than of words; yet when the list of the
new Ministers appeared, it contained scarcely a single name of weight.
Louis Napoleon had called to office persons whose very obscurity had marked
them as his own instruments, and guaranteed to him the ascendency which he
had not hitherto possessed within the Cabinet. Satisfied with having given
this proof of his power, he resumed the appearance of respect, if not of
cordiality, towards the Assembly. He had learnt to beware of precipitate
action; above two years of office were still before him; and he had now
done enough to make it clear to all who were disposed to seek their
fortunes in a new political cause that their services on his behalf would
be welcomed, and any excess of zeal more than pardoned. From this time
there grew up a party which had for its watchword the exaltation of Louis
Napoleon and the derision of the methods of Parliamentary government.
Journalists, unsuccessful politicians, adventurers of every description,
were enlisted in the ranks of this obscure but active band. For their acts
and their utterances no one was responsible but themselves. They were
disavowed without compunction when their hardihood went too far; but their
ventures brought them no peril, and the generosity of the President was not
wanting to those who insisted on serving him in spite of himself.

[Law limiting the Franchise, May 31, 1850.]

France was still trembling with the shock of the Four Days of June; and
measures of repression formed the common ground upon which Louis Napoleon
and the Assembly met without fear of conflict. Certain elections which were
held in the spring of 1850, and which gave a striking victory in Paris and
elsewhere to Socialist or Ultra-Democratic candidates, revived the alarms
of the owners of property, and inspired the fear that with universal
suffrage the Legislature itself might ultimately fall into the hands of the
Red Republicans. The principle of universal suffrage had been proclaimed
almost by accident in the midst of the revolution of 1848. It had been
embodied in the Constitution of that year because it was found already in
existence. No party had seriously considered the conditions under which it
was to be exercised, or had weighed the political qualifications of the
mass to whom it was so lightly thrown. When election after election
returned to the Chamber men whose principles were held to menace society
itself, the cry arose that France must be saved from the hands of the vile
multitude; and the President called upon a Committee of the Assembly to
frame the necessary measures of electoral reform. Within a week the work of
the Committee was completed, and the law which it had drafted was brought
before the Assembly. It was proposed that, instead of a residence of six
months, a continuous residence of three years in the same commune should be
required of every voter, and that the fulfilment of this condition should
be proved, not by ordinary evidence, but by one of certain specified acts,
such as the payment of personal taxes. With modifications of little
importance the Bill was passed by the Assembly. Whether its real effect was
foreseen even by those who desired the greatest possible limitation of the
franchise is doubtful; it is certain that many who supported it believed,
in their ignorance of the practical working of electoral laws, that they
were excluding from the franchise only the vagabond and worthless class
which has no real place within the body politic. When the electoral lists
drawn up in pursuance of the measure appeared, they astounded all parties
alike. Three out of the ten millions of voters in France were
disfranchised. Not only the inhabitants of whole quarters in the great
cities but the poorer classes among the peasantry throughout France had
disappeared from the electoral body. The Assembly had at one blow converted
into enemies the entire mass of the population that lived by the wages of
bodily labour. It had committed an act of political suicide, and had given
to a man so little troubled with scruples of honour as Louis Napoleon the
fatal opportunity of appealing to France as the champion of national
sovereignty and the vindicator of universal suffrage against an Assembly
which had mutilated it in the interests of class. [454]

[Prospects of Louis Napoleon.]

The duration of the Presidency was fixed by the Constitution of 1848 at
four years, and it was enacted that the President should not be re-eligible
to his dignity. By the operation of certain laws imperfectly adjusted to
one another, the tenure of office by Louis Napoleon expired on the 8th of
May, 1852, while the date for the dissolution of the Assembly fell within a
few weeks of this day. France was therefore threatened with the dangers
attending the almost simultaneous extinction of all authority. The perils
of 1852 loomed only too visibly before the country, and Louis Napoleon
addressed willing hearers when, in the summer of 1850, he began to hint at
the necessity of a prolongation of his own power. The Parliamentary recess
was employed by the President in two journeys through the Departments; the
first through those of the south-east, where Socialism was most active, and
where his appearance served at once to prove his own confidence and to
invigorate the friends of authority; the second through Normandy, where the
prevailing feeling was strongly in favour of firm government, and
utterances could safely be made by the President which would have brought
him into some risk at Paris. In suggesting that France required his own
continued presence at the head of the State Louis Napoleon was not
necessarily suggesting a violation of the law. It was provided by the
Statutes of 1848 that the Assembly by a vote of three-fourths might order a
revision of the Constitution; and in favour of this revision petitions were
already being drawn up throughout the country. Were the clause forbidding
the re-election of the President removed from the Constitution, Louis
Napoleon might fairly believe that an immense majority of the French people
would re-invest him with power. He would probably have been content with a
legal re-election had this been rendered possible; but the Assembly showed
little sign of a desire to smooth his way, and it therefore became
necessary for him to seek the means of realising his aims in violation of
the law. He had persuaded himself that his mission, his destiny, was to
rule France; in other words, he had made up his mind to run such risks and
to sanction such crimes as might be necessary to win him sovereign power.
With the loftier impulses of ambition, motives of a meaner kind stimulated
him to acts of energy. Never wealthy, the father of a family though
unmarried, he had exhausted his means, and would have returned to private
life a destitute man, if not laden with debt. When his own resolution
flagged, there were those about him too deeply interested in his fortunes
to allow him to draw back.

[Louis Napoleon and the army.]

[Dismissal of Changarnier, Jan., 1851.]

It was by means of the army that Louis Napoleon intended in the last resort
to make himself master of France, and the army had therefore to be won over
to his personal cause. The generals who had gained distinction either in
the Algerian wars or in the suppression of insurrection in France were
without exception Orleanists or Republicans. Not a single officer of
eminence was as yet included in the Bonapartist band. The President himself
had never seen service except in a Swiss camp of exercise; beyond his name
he possessed nothing that could possibly touch the imagination of a
soldier. The heroic element not being discoverable in his person or his
career, it remained to work by more material methods. Louis Napoleon had
learnt many things in England, and had perhaps observed in the English
elections of that period how much may be effected by the simple means of
money-bribes and strong drink. The saviour of society was not ashamed to
order the garrison of Paris double rations of brandy and to distribute
innumerable doles of half a franc or less. Military banquets were given, in
which the sergeant and the corporal sat side by side with the higher
officers. Promotion was skilfully offered or withheld. As the generals of
the highest position were hostile to Bonaparte, it was the easier to tempt
their subordinates with the prospect of their places. In the acclamations
which greeted the President at the reviews held at Paris in the autumn of
1850, in the behaviour both of officers and men in certain regiments, it
was seen how successful had been the emissaries of Bonapartism. The
Committee which represented the absent Chamber in vain called the Minister
of War to account for these irregularities. It was in vain that
Changarnier, who, as commander both of the National Guard of Paris and of
the first military division, seemed to hold the arbitrament between
President and Assembly in his hands, openly declared at the beginning of
1851 in favour of the Constitution. He was dismissed from his post; and
although a vote of censure which followed this dismissal led to the
resignation of the Ministry, the Assembly was unable to reinstate
Changarnier in his command, and helplessly witnessed the authority which he
had held pass into hostile or untrustworthy hands.

[Proposed Revision of the Constitution.]

[Revision of the Constitution rejected, July 19.]

There now remained only one possible means of averting the attack upon the
Constitution which was so clearly threatened, and that was by subjecting
the Constitution itself to revision in order that Louis Napoleon might
legally seek re-election at the end of his Presidency. An overwhelming
current of public opinion pressed indeed in the direction of such a change.
However gross and undisguised the initiative of the local functionaries in
preparing the petitions which showered upon the Assembly, the national
character of the demand could not be doubted. There was no other candidate
whose name carried with it any genuine popularity or prestige, or around
whom even the Parliamentary sections at enmity with the President could
rally. The Assembly was divided not very unevenly between Legitimists,
Orleanists, and Republicans. Had indeed the two monarchical groups been
able to act in accord, they might have had some hope of re-establishing the
throne; and an attempt had already been made to effect a union, on the
understanding that the childless Comt de Chambord should recognise the
grandson of Louis Philippe as his heir, the House of Orleans renouncing its
claims during the lifetime of the chief of the elder line. These plans had
been frustrated by the refusal of the Comt de Chambord to sanction any
appeal to the popular vote, and the restoration of the monarchy was
therefore hopeless for the present. It remained for the Assembly to decide
whether it would facilitate Louis Napoleon's re-election as President by a
revision of the Constitution or brave the risk of his violent usurpation of
power. The position was a sad and even humiliating one for those who, while
they could not disguise their real feeling towards the Prince, yet knew
themselves unable to count on the support of the nation if they should
resist him. The Legitimists, more sanguine in temper, kept in view an
ultimate restoration of the monarchy, and lent themselves gladly to any
policy which might weaken the constitutional safeguards of the Republic.
The Republican minority alone determined to resist any proposal for
revision, and to stake everything upon the maintenance of the constitution
in its existing form. Weak as the Republicans were as compared with the
other groups in the Assembly when united against them, they were yet strong
enough to prevent the Ministry from securing that majority of three-fourths
without which the revision of the Constitution could not be undertaken.
Four hundred and fifty votes were given in favour of revision, two hundred
and seventy against it (July 19th). The proposal therefore fell to the
ground, and Louis Napoleon, who could already charge the Assembly with
having by its majority destroyed universal suffrage, could now charge it
with having by its minority forbidden the nation to choose its own head.
Nothing more was needed by him. He had only to decide upon the time and the
circumstances of the _coup d'tat_ which was to rid him of his adversaries
and to make him master of France.

[Preparations for the _coup d'tat_.]

Louis Napoleon had few intimate confidants; the chief among these were his
half-brother Morny, one of the illegitimate offspring of Queen Hortense, a
man of fashion and speculator in the stocks; Fialin or Persigny, a person
of humble origin who had proved himself a devoted follower of the Prince
through good and evil; and Fleury, an officer at this time on a mission in
Algiers. These were not men out of whom Louis Napoleon could form an
administration, but they were useful to him in discovering and winning over
soldiers and officials of sufficient standing to give to the execution of
the conspiracy something of the appearance of an act of Government. A
general was needed at the War Office who would go all lengths in
illegality. Such a man had already been found in St. Arnaud, commander of a
brigade in Algiers, a brilliant soldier who had redeemed a disreputable
past by years of hard service, and who was known to be ready to treat his
French fellow-citizens exactly as he would treat the Arabs. As St. Arnaud's
name was not yet familiar in Paris, a campaign was arranged in the summer
of 1851 for the purpose of winning him distinction. At the cost of some
hundreds of lives St. Arnaud was pushed into sufficient fame; and after
receiving congratulations proportioned to his exploits from the President's
own hand, he was summoned to Paris, in order at the right moment to be made
Minister of War. A troop of younger officers, many of whom gained a
lamentable celebrity as the generals of 1870, were gradually brought over
from Algiers and placed round the Minister in the capital. The command of
the army of Paris was given to General Magnan, who, though he preferred not
to share in the deliberations on the _coup d'tat_, had promised his
cooperation when the moment should arrive. The support, or at least the
acquiescence, of the army seemed thus to be assured. The National Guard,
which, under Changarnier, would probably have rallied in defence of the
Assembly, had been placed under an officer pledged to keep it in inaction.
For the management of the police Louis Napoleon had fixed upon M. Maupas,
Prfet of the Haute Garonne. This person, to whose shamelessness we owe the
most authentic information that exists on the _coup d'tat_, had,
while in an inferior station, made it his business to ingratiate himself
with the President by sending to him personally police reports which ought
to have been sent to the Ministers. The objects and the character of M.
Maupas were soon enough understood by Louis Napoleon. He promoted him to
high office; sheltered him from the censure of his superiors; and, when the
_coup d'tat_ was drawing nigh, called him to Paris, in the full and
well-grounded confidence that, whatever the most perfidious ingenuity could
contrive in turning the guardians of the law against the law itself, that
M. Maupas, as Prfet of Police, might be relied upon to accomplish.

[The _coup d'tat_ fixed for December.]

Preparations for the _coup d'tat_ had been so far advanced in
September that a majority of the conspirators had then urged Louis Napoleon
to strike the blow without delay, while the members of the Assembly were
still dispersed over France in the vacation. St. Arnaud, however, refused
his assent, declaring that the deputies, if left free, would assemble at a
distance from Paris, summon to them the generals loyal to the Constitution,
and commence a civil war. He urged that, in order to avoid greater
subsequent risks, it would be necessary to seize all the leading
representatives and generals from whom resistance might be expected, and to
hold them under durance until the crisis should be over. This simultaneous
arrest of all the foremost public men in France could only be effected at a
time when the Assembly was sitting. St. Arnaud therefore demanded that the
_coup d'tat_ should be postponed till the winter. Another reason made
for delay. Little as the populace of Paris loved the reactionary Assembly,
Louis Napoleon was not altogether assured that it would quietly witness his
own usurpation of power. In waiting until the Chamber should again be in
session, he saw the opportunity of exhibiting his cause as that of the
masses themselves, and of justifying his action as the sole means of
enforcing popular rights against a legislature obstinately bent on denying
them. Louis Napoleon's own Ministers had overthrown universal suffrage.
This might indeed be matter for comment on the part of the censorious, but
it was not a circumstance to stand in the way of the execution of a great
design. Accordingly Louis Napoleon determined to demand from the Assembly
at the opening of the winter session the repeal of the electoral law of May
31st, and to make its refusal, on which he could confidently reckon, the
occasion of its destruction.

[Louis Napoleon demands repeal of Law of May 31.]

[The Assembly refuses.]

The conspirators were up to this time conspirators and nothing more. A
Ministry still subsisted which was not initiated in the President's designs
nor altogether at his command. On his requiring that the repeal of the law
of May 31st should be proposed to the Assembly, the Cabinet resigned. The
way to the highest functions of State was thus finally opened for the
agents of the _coup d'tat_. St. Arnaud was placed at the War Office,
Maupas at the Prfecture of Police. The colleagues assigned to them were
too insignificant to exercise any control over their actions. At the
reopening of the Assembly on the 4th of November an energetic message from
the President was read. On the one hand he denounced a vast and perilous
combination of all the most dangerous elements of society which threatened
to overwhelm France in the following year; on the other hand he demanded,
with certain undefined safeguards, the re-establishment of universal
suffrage. The middle classes were scared with the prospect of a Socialist
revolution; the Assembly was divided against itself, and the democracy of
Paris flattered by the homage paid to the popular vote. With very little
delay a measure repealing the Law of May 31st was introduced into the
Assembly. It was supported by the Republicans and by many members of the
other groups; but the majority of the Assembly, while anxious to devise
some compromise, refused to condemn its own work in the unqualified form on
which the President insisted. The Bill was thrown out by seven votes.
Forthwith the rumour of an impending _coup d'etat_ spread through
Paris. The Questors, or members charged with the safeguarding of the
Assembly, moved the resolutions necessary to enable them to secure
sufficient military aid. Even now prompt action might perhaps have saved
the Chamber. But the Republican deputies, incensed by their defeat on the
question of universal suffrage, plunged headlong into the snare set for
them by the President, and combined with his open or secret partisans to
reject the proposition of the Questors. Changarnier had blindly vouched for
the fidelity of the army; one Republican deputy, more imaginative than his
colleagues, bade the Assembly confide in their invisible sentinel, the
people. Thus the majority of the Chamber, with the clearest warning of
danger, insisted on giving the aggressor every possible advantage. If the
imbecility of opponents is the best augury of success in a bold enterprise,
the President had indeed little reason to anticipate failure.

[The _coup d'etat_, Dec. 2.]

The execution of the _coup d'etat_ was fixed for the early morning of
December 2nd. On the previous evening Louis Napoleon held a public
reception at the Elyse, his quiet self-possessed manner indicating nothing
of the struggle at hand. Before the guests dispersed the President withdrew
to his study. There the last council of the conspirators was held, and they
parted, each to the execution of the work assigned to him. The central
element in the plan was the arrest of Cavaignac, of Changarnier and three
other generals who were members of the Assembly, of eleven civilian
deputies including M. Thiers, and of sixty-two other politicians of
influence. Maupas summoned to the Prefecture of Police in the dead of night
a sufficient number of his trusted agents, received each of them on his
arrival in a separate room, and charged each with the arrest of one of the
victims. The arrests were accomplished before dawn, and the leading
soldiers and citizens of France met one another in the prison of Mazas. The
Palais Bourbon, the meeting-place of the Assembly, was occupied by troops.
The national printing establishment was seized by gendarmes, and the
proclamations of Louis Napoleon, distributed sentence by sentence to
different compositors, were set in type before the workmen knew upon what
they were engaged. When day broke the Parisians found the soldiers in the
streets, and the walls placarded with manifestoes of Louis Napoleon. The
first of these was a decree which announced in the name of the French
people that the National Assembly and the Council of State were dissolved,
that universal suffrage was restored, and that the nation was convoked in
its electoral colleges from the 14th to the 21st of December. The second
was a proclamation to the people, in which Louis Napoleon denounced at once
the monarchical conspirators within the Assembly and the anarchists who
sought to overthrow all government. His duty called upon him to save the
Republic by an appeal to the nation. He proposed the establishment of a
decennial executive authority, with a Senate, a Council of State, a
Legislative Body, and other institutions borrowed from the Consulate of
1799. If the nation refused him a majority of its votes he would summon a
new Assembly and resign his powers; if the nation believed in the cause of
which his name was the symbol, in France regenerated by the Revolution and
organised by the Emperor, it would prove this by ratifying his authority. A
third proclamation was addressed to the army. In 1830 and in 1848 the army
had been treated as the conquered, but its voice was now to be heard.
Common glories and sorrows united the soldiers of France with Napoleon's
heir, and the future would unite them in common devotion to the repose and
greatness of their country.

[Paris on Dec. 2.]

The full meaning of these manifestoes was not at first understood by the
groups who read them. The Assembly was so unpopular that the announcement
of its dissolution, with the restoration of universal suffrage, pleased
rather than alarmed the democratic quarters of Paris. It was not until some
hours had passed that the arrests became generally known, and that the
first symptoms of resistance appeared. Groups of deputies assembled at the
houses of the Parliamentary leaders; a body of fifty even succeeded in
entering the Palais Bourbon and in commencing a debate: they were, however,
soon dispersed by soldiers. Later in the day above two hundred members
assembled at the Mairie of the Tenth Arrondissement. There they passed
resolutions declaring the President removed from his office, and appointing
a commander of the troops at Paris. The first officers who were sent to
clear the Mairie flinched in the execution of their work, and withdrew for
further orders. The Magistrates of the High Court, whose duty it was to
order the impeachment of the President in case of the violation of his oath
to the Constitution, assembled, and commenced the necessary proceedings;
but before they could sign a warrant, soldiers forced their way into the
hall and drove the judges from the Bench. In due course General Forey
appeared with a strong body of troops at the Mairie, where the two hundred
deputies were assembled. Refusing to disperse, they were one and all
arrested, and conducted as prisoners between files of troops to the
Barracks of the Quai d'Orsay. The National Guard, whose drums had been
removed by their commander in view of any spontaneous movement to arms,
remained invisible. Louis Napoleon rode out amidst the acclamations of the
soldiery; and when the day closed it seemed as if Paris had resolved to
accept the change of Government and the overthrow of the Constitution
without a struggle.

[December 3.]

[December 4.]

There were, however, a few resolute men at work in the workmen's quarters;
and in the wealthier part of the city the outrage upon the National
Representation gradually roused a spirit of resistance. On the morning of
December 3rd the Deputy Baudin met with his death in attempting to defend a
barricade which had been erected in the Faubourg St. Antoine. The artisans
of eastern Paris showed, however, little inclination to take up arms on
behalf of those who had crushed them in the Four Days of June; the
agitation was strongest within the Boulevards, and spread westwards towards
the stateliest district of Paris. The barricades erected on the south of
the Boulevards were so numerous, the crowds so formidable, that towards the
close of the day the troops were withdrawn, and it was determined that
after a night of quiet they should make a general attack and end the
struggle at one blow. At midday on December 4th divisions of the army
converged from all directions upon the insurgent quarter. The barricades
were captured or levelled by artillery, and with a loss on the part of the
troops of twenty-eight killed, and a hundred and eighty wounded resistance
was overcome. But the soldiers had been taught to regard the inhabitants of
Paris as their enemies, and they bettered the instructions given them.
Maddened by drink or panic, they commenced indiscriminate firing in the
Boulevards after the conflict was over, and slaughtered all who either in
the street or at the windows of the houses came within range of their
bullets. According to official admissions, the lives of sixteen civilians
paid for every soldier slain; independent estimates place far higher the
number of the victims of this massacre. Two thousand arrests followed, and
every Frenchman who appeared dangerous to Louis Napoleon's myrmidons, from
Thiers and Victor Hugo down to the anarchist orators of the wineshops, was
either transported, exiled, or lodged in prison. Thus was the Republic
preserved and society saved.

[The Plbiscite, Dec. 20.]

[Napoleon III. Emperor, Dec. 2, 1852.]

France in general received the news of the _coup d'etat_ with indifference:
where it excited popular movements these movements were of such a character
that Louis Napoleon drew from them the utmost profit. A certain fierce,
blind Socialism had spread among the poorest of the rural classes in the
centre and south of France. In these departments there were isolated
risings, accompanied by acts of such murderous outrage and folly that a
general terror seized the surrounding districts. In the course of a few
days the predatory bands were dispersed, and an unsparing chastisement
inflicted on all who were concerned in their misdeeds; but the reports sent
to Paris were too serviceable to Louis Napoleon to be left in obscurity;
and these brutish village-outbreaks, which collapsed at the first
appearance of a handful of soldiers, were represented as the prelude to a
vast Socialist revolution from which the _coup d'etat_, and that alone, had
saved France. Terrified by the re-appearance of the Red Spectre, the French
nation proceeded on the 20th of December to pass its judgment on the
accomplished usurpation. The question submitted for the _plebiscite_ was,
whether the people desired the maintenance of Louis Napoleon's authority
and committed to him the necessary powers for establishing a Constitution
on the basis laid down in his proclamation of December 2nd. Seven million
votes answered this question in the affirmative, less than one-tenth of
that number in the negative. The result was made known on the last day of
the year 1851. On the first day of the new year Louis Napoleon attended a
service of thanksgiving at Notre Dame, took possession of the Tuileries,
and restored the eagle as the military emblem of France. He was now in all
but name an absolute sovereign. The Church, the army, the ever-servile body
of the civil administration, waited impatiently for the revival of the
Imperial title. Nor was the saviour of society the man to shrink from
further responsibilities. Before the year closed the people was once more
called upon to express its will. Seven millions of votes pronounced for
hereditary power; and on the anniversary of the _coup d'etat_ Napoleon III.
was proclaimed Emperor of the French.

CHAPTER XXI.

England and France in 1851--Russia under Nicholas--The Hungarian
Refugees--Dispute between France and Russia on the Holy Places--Nicholas
and the British Ambassador--Lord Stratford de Redcliffe--Menschikoff's
Mission--Russian Troops enter the Danubian Principalities--Lord Aberdeen's
Cabinet--Movements of the Fleets--The Vienna Note--The Fleets pass the
Dardanelles--Turkish Squadron destroyed at Sinope--Declaration of
War--Policy of Austria--Policy of Prussia--The Western Powers and the
European Concert--Siege of Silistria--The Principalities evacuated--Further
objects of the Western Powers--Invasion of the Crimea--Battle of the
Alma--The Flank March--Balaclava--Inkermann--Winter in the Crimea--Death of
Nicholas--Conference of Vienna--Austria--Progress of the Siege--Plans of
Napoleon III.--Canrobert and Plissier--Unsuccessful Assault--Battle of the
Tchernaya--Capture of the Malakoff--Fall of Sebastopol--Fall of
Kars--Negotiations for Peace--The Conference of Paris--Treaty of Paris
--The Danubian Principalities--Continued discord in the Ottoman
Empire--Revision of the Treaty of Paris in 1871.

[England in 1851.]

The year 1851 was memorable in England as that of the Great Exhibition.
Thirty-six years of peace, marked by an enormous development of
manufacturing industry, by the introduction of railroads, and by the
victory of the principle of Free Trade, had culminated in a spectacle so
impressive and so novel that to many it seemed the emblem and harbinger of
a new epoch in the history of mankind, in which war should cease, and the
rivalry of nations should at length find its true scope in the advancement
of the arts of peace. The apostles of Free Trade had idealised the cause
for which they contended. The unhappiness and the crimes of nations had, as
they held, been due principally to the action of governments, which plunged
harmless millions into war for dynastic ends, and paralysed human energy by
their own blind and senseless interference with the natural course of
exchange. Compassion for the poor and the suffering, a just resentment
against laws which in the supposed interest of a minority condemned the
mass of the nation to a life of want, gave moral fervour and elevation to
the teaching of Cobden and those who shared his spirit. Like others who
have been constrained by a noble enthusiasm, they had their visions; and in
their sense of the greatness of that new force which was ready to operate
upon human life, they both forgot the incompleteness of their own doctrine,
and under-estimated the influences which worked, and long must work, upon
mankind in an opposite direction. In perfect sincerity the leader of
English economical reform at the middle of this century looked forward to a
reign of peace as the result of unfettered intercourse between the members
of the European family. What the man of genius and conviction had
proclaimed the charlatan repeated in his turn. Louis Napoleon appreciated
the charm which schemes of commercial development exercised upon the
trading classes in France. He was ready to salute the Imperial eagles as
objects of worship and to invoke the memories of Napoleon's glory when
addressing soldiers; when it concerned him to satisfy the commercial world,
he was the very embodiment of peace and of peaceful industry. "Certain
persons," he said, in an address at Bordeaux, shortly before assuming the
title of Emperor, "say that the Empire is war. I say that the Empire is
peace; for France desires peace, and when France is satisfied the world is
tranquil. We have waste territories to cultivate, roads to open, harbours
to dig, a system of railroads to complete; we have to bring all our great
western ports into connection with the American continent by a rapidity of
communication which we still want. We have ruins to restore, false gods to
overthrow, truths to make triumphant. This is the sense that I attach to
the Empire; these are the conquests which I contemplate." Never had the
ideal of industrious peace been more impressively set before mankind than
in the years which succeeded the convulsion of 1848. Yet the epoch on which
Europe was then about to enter proved to be pre-eminently an epoch of war.
In the next quarter of a century there was not one of the Great Powers
which was not engaged in an armed struggle with its rivals. Nor were the
wars of this period in any sense the result of accident, or disconnected
with the stream of political tendencies which makes the history of the age.
With one exception they left in their train great changes for which the
time was ripe, changes which for more than a generation had been the
recognised objects of national desire, but which persuasion and revolution
had equally failed to bring into effect. The Crimean War alone was barren
in positive results of a lasting nature, and may seem only to have
postponed, at enormous cost of life, the fall of a doomed and outworn
Power. But the time has not yet arrived when the real bearing of the
overthrow of Russia in 1854 on the destiny of the Christian races of Turkey
can be confidently expressed. The victory of the Sultan's protectors
delayed the emancipation of these races for twenty years; the victory, or
the unchecked aggression, of Russia in 1854 might possibly have closed to
them for ever the ways to national independence.

[Russian policy under Nicholas.]

The plans formed by the Empress Catherine in the last century for the
restoration of the Greek Empire under a prince of the Russian House had
long been abandoned at St. Petersburg. The later aim of Russian policy
found its clearest expression in the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, extorted
from Sultan Mahmud in 1833 in the course of the first war against Mehemet
Ali. This Treaty, if it had not been set aside by the Western Powers, would
have made the Ottoman Empire a vassal State under the Czar's protection. In
the concert of Europe which was called into being by the second war of
Mehemet Ali against the Sultan in 1840, Nicholas had considered it his
interest to act with England and the German Powers in defence of the Porte
against its Egyptian rival and his French ally. A policy of moderation had
been imposed upon Russia by the increased watchfulness and activity now
displayed by the other European States in all that related to the Ottoman
Empire. Isolated aggression had become impracticable; it was necessary for
Russia to seek the countenance or support of some ally before venturing on
the next step in the extension of its power southwards.

[Nicholas in England, 1844.]

In 1844 Nicholas visited England. The object of his journey was to sound
the Court and Government, and to lay the foundation for concerted action
between Russia and England, to the exclusion of France, when circumstances
should bring about the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, an event which
the Czar believed to be not far off. Peel was then Prime Minister; Lord
Aberdeen was Foreign Secretary. Aberdeen had begun his political career in
a diplomatic mission to the Allied Armies in 1814. His feelings towards
Russia were those of a loyal friend towards an old ally; and the
remembrance of the epoch of 1814, when the young Nicholas had made
acquaintance with Lord Aberdeen in France, appears to have given to the
Czar a peculiar sense of confidence in the goodwill of the English Minister
towards himself. Nicholas spoke freely with Aberdeen, as well as with Peel
and Wellington, on the impending fall of the Ottoman Empire. "We have," he
said, "a sick, a dying man on our hands. We must keep him alive so long as
it is possible to do so, but we must frankly take into view all
contingencies. I wish for no inch of Turkish soil myself, but neither will
I permit any other Power to seize an inch of it. France, which has designs
upon Africa, upon the Mediterranean, and upon the East, is the only Power
to be feared. An understanding between England and Russia will preserve the
peace of Europe." If the Czar pursued his speculations further into detail,
of which there is no evidence, he elicited no response. He was heard with
caution, and his visit appears to have produced nothing more than the
formal expression of a desire on the part of the British Government that
the existing treaty-rights of Russia should be respected by the Porte,
together with an unmeaning promise that, if unexpected events should occur
in Turkey, Russia and England should enter into counsel as to the best
course of action to be pursued in common. [455]

[Nicholas in 1848.]

[The Hungarian refugees, 1849.]

Nicholas, whether from policy or from a sense of kingly honour which at
most times powerfully influenced him, did not avail himself of the
prostration of the Continental Powers in 1848 to attack Turkey. He detested
revolution, as a crime against the divinely ordered subjection of nations
to their rulers, and would probably have felt himself degraded had he, in
the spirit of his predecessor Catherine, turned the calamities of his
brother-monarchs to his own separate advantage. It accorded better with his
proud nature, possibly also with the schemes of a far-reaching policy, for
Russia to enter the field as the protector of the Hapsburgs against the
rebel Hungarians than for its armies to snatch from the Porte what the
lapse of time and the goodwill of European allies would probably give to
Russia at no distant date without a struggle. Disturbances at Bucharest and
at Jassy led indeed to a Russian intervention in the Danubian
Principalities in the interests of a despotic system of government; but
Russia possessed by treaty protectorial rights over these Provinces. The
military occupation which followed the revolt against the Hospodars was the
subject of a convention between Turkey and Russia; it was effected by the
armies of the two Powers jointly; and at the expiration of two years the
Russian forces were peacefully withdrawn. More serious were the
difficulties which arose from the flight of Kossuth and other Hungarian
leaders into Turkey after the subjugation of Hungary by the allied Austrian
and Russian armies. The Courts of Vienna and St. Petersburg united in
demanding from the Porte the surrender of these refugees; the Sultan
refused to deliver them up, and he was energetically supported by Great
Britain, Kossuth's children on their arrival at Constantinople being
received and cared for at the British Embassy. The tyrannous demand of the
two Emperors, the courageous resistance of the Sultan, excited the utmost
interest in Western Europe. By a strange turn of fortune, the Power which
at the end of the last century had demanded from the Court of Vienna the
Greek leader Rhegas, and had put him to death as soon as he was handed over
by the Austrian police, was now gaining the admiration of all free nations
as the last barrier that sheltered the champions of European liberty from
the vengeance of despotic might. The Czar and the Emperor of Austria had
not reckoned with the forces of public indignation aroused against them in
the West by their attempt to wrest their enemies from the Sultan's hand.
They withdrew their ambassadors from Constantinople and threatened to
resort to force. But the appearance of the British and French fleets at the
Dardanelles gave a new aspect to the dispute. The Emperors learnt that if
they made war upon Turkey for the question at issue they would have to
fight also against the Western Powers. The demand for the surrender of the
refugees was withdrawn; and in undertaking to keep the principal of them
under surveillance for a reasonable period, the Sultan gave to the two
Imperial Courts such satisfaction as they could, without loss of dignity,
accept. [456]

[Dispute between France and Russia on the Holy Places, 1850-2.]

The _coup d'tat_ of Louis Napoleon at the end of the year 1851 was
witnessed by the Czar with sympathy and admiration as a service to the
cause of order; but the assumption of the Imperial title by the Prince
displeased him exceedingly. While not refusing to recognise Napoleon III.,
he declined to address him by the term (_mon frre_) usually employed
by monarchs in writing to one another. In addition to the question relating
to the Hungarian refugees, a dispute concerning the Holy Places in
Palestine threatened to cause strife between France and Russia. The same
wave of religious and theological interest which in England produced the
Tractarian movement brought into the arena of political life in France an
enthusiasm for the Church long strange to the Legislature and the governing
circles of Paris. In the Assembly of 1849 Montalembert, the spokesman of
this militant Catholicism, was one of the foremost figures. Louis Napoleon,
as President, sought the favour of those whom Montalembert led; and the
same Government which restored the Pope to Rome demanded from the Porte a
stricter enforcement of the rights of the Latin Church in the East. The
earliest Christian legends had been localised in various spots around
Jerusalem. These had been in the ages of faith the goal of countless
pilgrimages, and in more recent centuries they had formed the object of
treaties between the Porte and France. Greek monks, however, disputed
with Latin monks for the guardianship of the Holy Places; and as the
power of Russia grew, the privileges of the Greek monks had increased.
The claims of the rival brotherhoods, which related to doors, keys, stars
and lamps, might probably have been settled to the satisfaction of all
parties within a few hours by an experienced stage-manager; in the hands
of diplomatists bent on obtaining triumphs over one another they assumed
dimensions that overshadowed the peace of Europe. The French and the
Russian Ministers at Constantinople alternately tormented the Sultan in
the character of aggrieved sacristans, until, at the beginning of 1852,
the Porte compromised itself with both parties by adjudging to each
rights which it professed also to secure to the other. A year more, spent
in prevarications, in excuses, and in menaces, ended with the triumph of
the French, with the evasion of the promises made by the Sultan to
Russia, and with the discomfiture of the Greek Church in the person of
the monks who officiated at the Holy Sepulchre and the Shrine of the
Nativity. [457]

[Nicholas and Sir H. Seymour, Jan., Feb., 1853.]

Nicholas treated the conduct of the Porte as an outrage upon himself. A
conflict which had broken out between the Sultan and the Montenegrins, and
which now threatened to take a deadly form, confirmed the Czar in his
belief that the time for resolute action had arrived. At the beginning of
the year 1853 he addressed himself to Hamilton Seymour, British ambassador
at St. Petersburg, in terms much stronger and clearer than those which he
had used towards Lord Aberdeen nine years before. "The Sick Man," he said,
"was in extremities; the time had come for a clear understanding between
England and Russia. The occupation of Constantinople by Russian troops
might be necessary, but the Czar would not hold it permanently. He would
not permit any other Power to establish itself at the Bosphorus, neither
would he permit the Ottoman Empire to be broken up into Republics to afford
a refuge to the Mazzinis and the Kossuths of Europe. The Danubian
Principalities were already independent States under Russian protection.
The other possessions of the Sultan north of the Balkans might be placed on
the same footing. England might annex Egypt and Crete." After making this
communication to the British ambassador, and receiving the reply that
England declined to enter into any schemes based on the fall of the Turkish
Empire and disclaimed all desire for the annexation of any part of the
Sultan's dominions, Nicholas despatched Prince Menschikoff to
Constantinople, to demand from the Porte not only an immediate settlement
of the questions relating to the Holy Places, but a Treaty guaranteeing to
the Greek Church the undisturbed enjoyment of all its ancient rights and
the benefit of all privileges that might be accorded by the Porte to any
other Christian communities. [458]

[The Claims of Russia.]

The Treaty which Menschikoff was instructed to demand would have placed the
Sultan and the Czar in the position of contracting parties with regard to
the entire body of rights and privileges enjoyed by the Sultan's subjects
of the Greek confession, and would so have made the violation of these
rights in the case of any individual Christian a matter entitling Russia to
interfere, or to claim satisfaction as for the breach of a Treaty
engagement. By the Treaty of Kainardjie (1774) the Sultan had indeed bound
himself "to protect the Christian religion and its Churches"; but this
phrase was too indistinct to create specific matter of Treaty-obligation;
and if it had given to Russia any general right of interference on behalf
of members of the Greek Church, it would have given it the same right in
behalf of all the Roman Catholics and all the Protestants in the Sultan's
dominions, a right which the Czars had never professed to enjoy. Moreover,
the Treaty of Kainardjie itself forbade by implication any such
construction, for it mentioned by name one ecclesiastical building for
whose priests the Porte did concede to Russia the right of addressing
representations to the Sultan. Over the Danubian Principalities Russia
possessed by the Treaty of Adrianople undoubted protectorial rights; but
these Provinces stood on a footing quite different from that of the
remainder of the Empire. That the Greek Church possessed by custom and by
enactment privileges which it was the duty of the Sultan to respect, no one
contested: the novelty of Menschikoff's claim was that the observation of
these rights should be made matter of Treaty with Russia. The importance of
the demand was proved by the fact that Menschikoff strictly forbade the
Turkish Ministers to reveal it to the other Powers, and that Nicholas
caused the English Government to be informed that the mission of his envoy
had no other object than the final adjustment of the difficulties
respecting the Holy Places. [459]

[Lord Stratford de Redcliffe.]

[Menschikoff leaves Constantinople, May 21.]

[Russian troops enter the Principalities.]

When Menschikoff reached Constantinople the British Embassy was in the
hands of a subordinate officer. The Ambassador, Sir Stratford Canning, had
recently returned to England. Stratford Canning, a cousin of the Premier,
had been employed in the East at intervals since 1810. There had been a
period in his career when he had desired to see the Turk expelled from
Europe as an incurable barbarian; but the reforms of Sultan Mahmud had at a
later time excited his warm interest and sympathy, and as Ambassador at
Constantinople from 1842 to 1852 he had laboured strenuously for the
regeneration of the Turkish Empire, and for the improvement of the
condition of the Christian races under the Sultan's rule. His dauntless,
sustained energy, his noble presence, the sincerity of his friendship
towards the Porte, gave him an influence at Constantinople seldom, if ever,
exercised by a foreign statesman. There were moments when he seemed to be
achieving results of some value; but the task which he had attempted was
one that surpassed human power; and after ten years so spent as to win for
him the fame of the greatest ambassador by whom England has been
represented in modern times, he declared that the prospects of Turkish
reform were hopeless, and left Constantinople, not intending to return.
[460] Before his successor had been appointed, the mission of Prince
Menschikoff, the violence of his behaviour at Constantinople, and a rumour
that he sought far more than his ostensible object, alarmed the British
Government. Canning was asked to resume his post. Returning to
Constantinople as Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, he communicated on his
journey with the Courts of Paris and Vienna, and carried with him authority
to order the Admiral of the fleet at Malta to hold his ships in readiness
to sail for the East. He arrived at the Bosphorus on April 5th, learnt at
once the real situation of affairs, and entered into negotiation with
Menschikoff. The Russian, a mere child in diplomacy in comparison with his
rival, suffered himself to be persuaded to separate the question of the
Holy Places from that of the guarantee of the rights of the Greek Church.
In the first matter Russia had a good cause; in the second it was advancing
a new claim. The two being dissociated, Stratford had no difficulty in
negotiating a compromise on the Holy Places satisfactory to the Czar's
representative; and the demand for the Protectorate over the Greek
Christians now stood out unobscured by those grievances of detail with
which it had been at first interwoven. Stratford encouraged the Turkish
Government to reject the Russian proposal. Knowing, nevertheless, that
Menschikoff would in the last resort endeavour to intimidate the Sultan
personally, he withheld from the Ministers, in view of this last peril, the
strongest of all his arguments; and seeking a private audience with the
Sultan on the 9th of May, he made known to him with great solemnity the
authority which he had received to order the fleet at Malta to be in
readiness to sail. The Sultan placed the natural interpretation on this
statement, and ordered final rejection of Menschikoff's demand, though the
Russian had consented to a modification of its form, and would now have
accepted a note declaratory of the intentions of the Sultan towards the
Greek Church instead of a regular Treaty. On the 21st of May Menschikoff
quitted Constantinople; and the Czar, declaring that some guarantee must be
held by Russia for the maintenance of the rights of the Greek Christians,
announced that he should order his army to occupy the Danubian Provinces.
After an interval of some weeks the Russian troops crossed the Pruth, and
spread themselves over Moldavia and Wallachia. (June 22nd.) [461]

[English Policy.]

In the ordinary course of affairs the invasion of the territory of one
Empire by the troops of another is, and can be nothing else than, an act of
war, necessitating hostilities as a measure of defence on the part of the
Power invaded. But the Czar protested that in taking the Danubian
Principalities in pledge he had no intention of violating the peace; and as
yet the common sense of the Turks, as well as the counsels that they
received from without, bade them hesitate before issuing a declaration of
war. Since December, 1852, Lord Aberdeen had been Prime Minister of
England, at the head of a Cabinet formed by a coalition between followers
of Sir Robert Peel and the Whig leaders Palmerston and Russell. [462] There
was no man in England more pacific in disposition, or more anxious to
remain on terms of honourable friendship with Russia, than Lord Aberdeen.
The Czar had justly reckoned on the Premier's own forbearance; but he had
failed to recognise the strength of those forces which, both within and
without the Cabinet, set in the direction of armed resistance to Russia.
Palmerston was keen for action. Lord Stratford appears to have taken it for
granted from the first that, if a war should arise between the Sultan and
the Czar in consequence of the rejection of Menschikoff's demand, Great
Britain would fight in defence of the Ottoman Empire. He had not stated
this in express terms, but the communication which he made to the Sultan
regarding his own instructions could only have been intended to convey this
impression. If the fleet was not to defend the Sultan, it was a mere piece
of deceit to inform him that the Ambassador had powers to place it in
readiness to sail; and such deceit was as alien to the character of Lord
Stratford as the assumption of a virtual engagement towards the Sultan was
in keeping with his imperious will and his passionate conviction of the
duty of England. From the date of Lord Stratford's visit to the Palace,
although no Treaty or agreement was in existence, England stood bound in
honour, so long as the Turks should pursue the policy laid down by her
envoy, to fulfil the expectations which this envoy had held out.

[British and French fleets moved to Besika Bay, July, 1853.]

[The Vienna Note, July 28.]

[Constantinople in September.]

[British and French fleets pass the Dardanelles, Oct. 22.]

Had Lord Stratford been at the head of the Government, the policy and
intentions of Great Britain would no doubt have been announced with such
distinctness that the Czar could have fostered no misapprehension as to the
results of his own acts. Palmerston, as Premier, would probably have
adopted the same clear course, and war would either have been avoided by
this nation or have been made with a distinct purpose and on a definite
issue. But the Cabinet of Lord Aberdeen was at variance with itself.
Aberdeen was ready to go to all lengths in negotiation, but he was not
sufficiently master of his colleagues and of the representatives of England
abroad to prevent acts and declarations which in themselves brought war
near; above all, he failed to require from Turkey that abstention from
hostilities on which, so long as negotiations lasted, England and the other
Powers which proposed to make the cause of the Porte their own ought
unquestionably to have insisted. On the announcement by the Czar that his
army was about to enter the Principalities, the British Government
despatched the fleet to Besika Bay near the entrance to the Dardanelles,
and authorised Stratford to call it to the Bosphorus, in case
Constantinople should be attacked. [463] The French fleet, which had come
into Greek waters on Menschikoff's appearance at Constantinople, took up
the same position. Meanwhile European diplomacy was busily engaged in
framing schemes of compromise between the Porte and Russia. The
representatives of the four Powers met at Vienna, and agreed upon a note
which, as they considered, would satisfy any legitimate claims of Russia on
behalf of the Greek Church, and at the same time impose upon the Sultan no
further obligations towards Russia than those which already existed. [464]
This note, however, was ill drawn, and would have opened the door to new
claims on the part of Russia to a general Protectorate not sanctioned by
its authors. The draft was sent to St. Petersburg, and was accepted by the
Czar. At Constantinople its ambiguities were at once recognised; and though
Lord Stratford in his official capacity urged its acceptance under a
European guarantee against misconstruction, the Divan, now under the
pressure of strong patriotic forces, refused to accept the note unless
certain changes were made in its expressions. France, England, and Austria
united in recommending to the Court of St. Petersburg the adoption of these
amendments. The Czar, however, declined to admit them, and a Russian
document, which obtained a publicity for which it was not intended, proved
that the construction of the note which the amendments were expressly
designed to exclude was precisely that which Russia meant to place upon it.
The British Ministry now refused to recommend the note any longer to the
Porte. [465] Austria, while it approved of the amendments, did not consider
that their rejection by the Czar justified England in abandoning the note
as the common award of the European Powers; and thus the concert of Europe
was interrupted, England and France combining in a policy which Austria and
Prussia were not willing to follow. In proportion as the chances of joint
European action diminished, the ardour of the Turks themselves, and of
those who were to be their allies, rose higher. Tumults, organised by the
heads of the war-party, broke out at Constantinople; and although Stratford
scorned the alarms of his French colleagues, who reported that a massacre
of the Europeans in the capital was imminent, he thought it necessary to
call up two vessels of war in order to provide for the security of the
English residents and of the Sultan himself. In England Palmerston and the
men of action in the Cabinet dragged Lord Aberdeen with them. The French
Government pressed for vigorous measures, and in conformity with its desire
instructions were sent from London to Lord Stratford to call the fleet to
the Bosphorus, and to employ it in defending the territory of the Sultan
against aggression. On the 22nd of October the British and French fleets
passed the Dardanelles.

[The ultimatum of Omar Pasha rejected, Oct. 10.]

[Turkish squadron destroyed at Sinope, Nov. 30.]

The Turk, sure of the protection of the Western Powers, had for some weeks
resolved upon war; and yet the possibilities of a diplomatic settlement
were not yet exhausted. Stratford himself had forwarded to Vienna the draft
of an independent note which the Sultan was prepared to accept. This had
not yet been seen at St. Petersburg. Other projects of conciliation filled
the desks of all the leading politicians of Europe. Yet, though the belief
generally existed that some scheme could be framed by which the Sultan,
without sacrifice of his dignity and interest, might induce the Czar to
evacuate the Principalities, no serious attempt was made to prevent the
Turks from coming into collision with their enemies both by land and sea.
The commander of the Russian troops in the Principalities having, on the
10th of October, rejected an ultimatum requiring him to withdraw within
fifteen days, this answer was taken as the signal for the commencement of
hostilities. The Czar met the declaration of war with a statement that he
would abstain from taking the offensive, and would continue merely to hold
the Principalities as a material guarantee. Omar Pasha, the Ottoman
commander in Bulgaria, was not permitted to observe the same passive
attitude. Crossing the Danube, he attacked and defeated the Russians at
Oltenitza. Thus assailed, the Czar considered that his engagement not to
act on the offensive was at an end, and the Russian fleet, issuing from
Sebastopol, attacked and destroyed a Turkish squadron in the harbour of
Sinope on the southern coast of the Black Sea (November 30). The action was
a piece of gross folly on the part of the Russian authorities if they still
cherished the hopes of pacification which the Czar professed; but others
also were at fault. Lord Stratford and the British Admiral, if they could
not prevent the Turkish ships from remaining in the Euxine, where they were
useless against the superior force of Russia, might at least in exercise of
the powers given to them have sent a sufficient escort to prevent an
encounter. But the same ill-fortune and incompleteness that had marked all
the diplomacy of the previous months attended the counsels of the Admirals
at the Bosphorus; and the disaster of Sinope rendered war between the
Western Powers and Russia almost inevitable. [466]

[Effect of the action at Sinope.]

[Russian ships required to enter port, December.]

[England and France declare war, March 27, 1854.]

The Turks themselves had certainly not understood the declaration of the
Emperor Nicholas as assuring their squadron at Sinope against attack; and
so far was the Ottoman Admiral from being the victim of a surprise that he
had warned his Government some days before of the probability of his own
destruction. But to the English people, indignant with Russia since its
destruction of Hungarian liberty and its tyrannous demand for the surrender
of the Hungarian refugees, all that now passed heaped up the intolerable
sum of autocratic violence and deceit. The cannonade which was continued
against the Turkish crews at Sinope long after they had become defenceless
gave to the battle the aspect of a massacre; the supposed promise of the
Czar to act only on the defensive caused it to be denounced as an act of
flagrant treachery; the circumstance that the Turkish fleet was lying
within one of the Sultan's harbours, touching as it were the territory
which the navy of England had undertaken to protect, imparted to the attack
the character of a direct challenge and defiance to England. The cry rose
loud for war. Napoleon, eager for the alliance with England, eager in
conjunction with England to play a great part before Europe, even at the
cost of a war from which France had nothing to gain, proposed that the
combined fleets should pass the Bosphorus and require every Russian vessel
sailing on the Black Sea to re-enter port. His proposal was adopted by the
British Government. Nicholas learnt that the Russian flag was swept from
the Euxine. It was in vain that a note upon which the representatives of
the Powers at Vienna had once more agreed was accepted by the Porte and
forwarded to St. Petersburg (December 31). The pride of the Czar was
wounded beyond endurance, and at the beginning of February he recalled his
ambassadors from London and Paris. A letter written to him by Napoleon
III., demanding in the name of himself and the Queen of England the
evacuation of the Principalities, was answered by a reference to the
campaign of Moscow, Austria now informed the Western Powers that if they
would fix a delay for the evacuation of the Principalities, the expiration
of which should be the signal for hostilities, it would support the
summons; and without waiting to learn whether Austria would also unite with
them in hostilities in the event of the summons being rejected, the British
and French Governments despatched their ultimatum to St. Petersburg.
Austria and Prussia sought, but in vain, to reconcile the Court of St.
Petersburg to the only measure by which peace could now be preserved. The
ultimatum remained without an answer, and on the 27th of March England and
France declared war.

[Policy of Austria.]

The Czar had at one time believed that in his Eastern schemes he was sure
of the support of Austria; and he had strong reasons for supposing himself
entitled to its aid. But his mode of thought was simpler than that of the
Court of Vienna. Schwarzenberg, when it was remarked that the intervention
of Russia in Hungary would bind the House of Hapsburg too closely to its
protector, had made the memorable answer, "We will astonish the world by
our ingratitude." It is possible that an instance of Austrian gratitude
would have astonished the world most of all; but Schwarzenberg's successors
were not the men to sacrifice a sound principle to romance. Two courses of
Eastern policy have, under various modifications, had their advocates in
rival schools of statesmen at Vienna. The one is that of expansion
southward in concert with Russia; the other is that of resistance to the
extension of Russian power, and the consequent maintenance of the integrity
of the Ottoman Empire. During Metternich's long rule, inspired as this was
by a faith in the Treaties and the institutions of 1815, and by the dread
of every living, disturbing force, the second of these systems had been
consistently followed. In 1854 the determining motive of the Court of
Vienna was not a decided political conviction, but the certainty that if it
united with Russia it would be brought into war with the Western Powers.
Had Russia and Turkey been likely to remain alone in the arena, an
arrangement for territorial compensation would possibly, as on some other
occasions, have won for the Czar an Austrian alliance. Combination against
Turkey was, however, at the present time, too perilous an enterprise for
the Austrian monarchy; and, as nothing was to be gained through the war, it
remained for the Viennese diplomatists to see that nothing was lost and as
little as possible wasted. The presence of Russian troops in the
Principalities, where they controlled the Danube in its course between the
Hungarian frontier and the Black Sea, was, in default of some definite
understanding, a danger to Austria; and Count Buol, the Minister at Vienna,
had therefore every reason to thank the Western Powers for insisting on the
evacuation of this district. When France and England were burning to take
up arms, it would have been a piece of superfluous brutality towards the
Czar for Austria to attach to its own demand for the evacuation of the
Principalities the threat of war. But this evacuation Austria was
determined to enforce. It refused, as did Prussia, to give to the Czar the
assurance of its neutrality; and, inasmuch as the free navigation of the
Danube as far as the Black Sea had now become recognised as one of the
commercial interests of Germany at large, Prussia and the German Federation
undertook to protect the territory of Austria, if, in taking the measures
necessary to free the Principalities, it should itself be attacked by
Russia. [467]

[Prussia.]

The King of Prussia, clouded as his mind was by political and religious
phantasms, had nevertheless at times a larger range of view than his
neighbours; and his opinion as to the true solution of the difficulties
between Nicholas and the Porte, at the time of Menschikoff's mission,
deserved more attention than it received. Frederick William proposed that
the rights of the Christian subjects of the Sultan should be placed by
Treaty under the guarantee of all the Great Powers. This project was
opposed by Lord Stratford and the Turkish Ministers as an encroachment on
the Sultan's sovereignty, and its rejection led the King to write with some
asperity to his ambassador in London that he should seek the welfare of
Prussia in absolute neutrality. [468] At a later period the King demanded
from England, as the condition of any assistance from himself, a guarantee
for the maintenance of the frontiers of Germany and Prussia. He regarded
Napoleon III. as the representative of a revolutionary system, and believed
that under him French armies would soon endeavour to overthrow the order of
Europe established in 1815. That England should enter into a close alliance
with this man excited the King's astonishment and disgust; and unless the
Cabinet of London were prepared to give a guarantee against any future
attack on Germany by the French Emperor, who was believed to be ready for
every political adventure, it was vain for England to seek Prussia's aid.
Lord Aberdeen could give no such guarantee; still less could he gratify the
King's strangely passionate demand for the restoration of his authority in
the Swiss canton of Neuchtel, which before 1848 had belonged in name to
the Hohenzollerns. Many influences were brought to bear upon the King from
the side both of England and of Russia. The English Court and Ministers,
strenuously supported by Bunsen, the Prussian ambassador, strove to enlist
the King in an active concert of Europe against Russia by dwelling on the
duties of Prussia as a Great Power and the dangers arising to it from
isolation. On the other hand, the admiration felt by Frederick William for
the Emperor Nicholas, and the old habitual friendship between Prussia and
Russia, gave strength to the Czar's advocates at Berlin. Schemes for a
reconstruction of Europe, which were devised by Napoleon, and supposed to
receive some countenance from Palmerston, reached the King's ear. [469] He

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