« AnteriorContinuar »
Danube, with ports on the two seas, would be one of the most compact in Europe. The Roumani, or Romans, as the Moldo-Wallachs love to call themselves, those descendants of the ancient Dacians, nearly of unmixed race, notwithstanding the many irruptions of Goths, Lombards, Huns, and Turks, do not manifest any very ardent spirit of nationality, so as to make them oppose their removal from Russian or Turkish rule to the Austrian, and there is no reason to suppose that they are able to win their absolute independence, or to maintain it if won. There is too much reason to believe that the long misgovernment to which the Moldo-Wallachians have been subjected, has nearly destroyed the energies requisite for the attainment of such an object, and has given them many of the vices of slaves. They possess many good qualities; but they are indolent, timid, and not always to be relied upon, and have become degraded by the conflicting despotism to which they have been so long habituated. The Sultan is acknowledged as the Suzerain, and is paid tribute; from him, too, the Hospodar receives his investiture, but his election must be approved by Russia. We are decidedly of opinion that the MoldoWallachians would gain considerably by their transfer to Austria; they would have but one master instead of three, and Austria herself, and the western nations, would possess an additional guarantee against Russia.
The bond which unites these provinces to Turkey is indeed slight; but, slight as it is, its disruption for the reasons we have assigned, would justify that power in demanding compensation for the loss of her nominal authority over them; and it will not be maintained that her conduct during the war with Russia has disentitled her to regard and respect from Europe. In exchange for the Principalities, Austria might cede to the Porte the strip of territory which fringes the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Turkey would gain by the change, as her western provinces would have outlets to the sea, which would be of the greatest utility to their trade, and would render more frequent her communication with western Europe. Should Russia be forced to succumb,
of which we have little doubt, to the immense force arrayed against her in the present war, her possessions in Georgia and the Caucasus might be allotted to Turkey, the mountains being left to Schamyl and his successors, under the suzeraineté of the Sultan. The new principality might be formed of the territory which is comprised between the Sea of Azoff, the Don, and the Volga; and, finally, the Crimea should also revert to the Porte. That peninsula, whose southern shore enjoys a fine climate and a most fertile soil, was reduced by Mahomet II., (1475), who expelled the Genoese, to the condition of a dependency of the Ottoman empire, but who allowed it to be governed by its own native khan. For three centuries this state of things lasted, when Catherine II. stipulated for the independence of the Crimea. The Khan was forced by Russia to abdicate in 1783, and soon, with her customary violation of treaties, and utter disregard of justice, her armies took possession of the country, which was secured to her at the peace of 1793. The atrocities perpetrated by Russia on that occasion are not yet forgotten. The towns and villages of the Mussulman population were in great part sacked and destroyed, and large numbers of the Tartar population emigrated rather than live under the detested yoke of the Muscovite. Notwithstanding that emigration, the Tartars still constitute the main body of the population. They still cling with tenacity to the Mohammedan faith, and would prefer returning under the rule of their ancient sovereigns, to remaining under that of Russia. In the event of the Russian fleet being destroyed during the war, Turkey would be sufficiently strong to protect her restored possession; and the Black Sea, which has so long been, as it were, a Russian lake, would lie open to the West. The freedom of the Euxine would of course involve the freedom of the streams which flow into it; and Austria is more interested than any other German power in preventing the mouths of the Danube from being closed up at the caprice of a jealous and disloyal Despot. But this or any other partial modification of the present territorial condition of the German States,
is a question for after consideration; it is one which may, at a future period, occupy the attention of a congress of the Powers that have signed the Vienna protocol, and in which France and England, both from their high position in Europe, and from the more prominent part they have taken in the war, must have an influential voice. The modifications we have alluded to may, or may not, be the best that can be realised, but we are of opinion that any arrangement will be incomplete that, in fact, the war and all the sacrifices it entails will have been in vain, unless Russia be forced to surrender no inconsiderable portion of the territory she has absorbed, and which, if she be allowed to retain it in her grasp, will still serve as a vantage ground for future attacks against us. The destruction of Sebastopol and Cronstadt, which, it is to be presumed, forms part of the plan of operations, however important for us, and calamitous to Russia, will not suffice. These fortresses can be re-constructed, at a great sacrifice of money and time, no doubt; but they can be restored, and, with all the appliances of modern art, be made more formidable than
and Prussia, after having exhausted all their means of persuasion, and opposed arguments of sound policy and humanity to those of ambition, and to the fatality which seems to urge Russia on to her destruction; if they have at last determined to take up arms to defend all that appears to them just and necessary for the peace of Europe, it is impossible to deny that that resolution, adopted as it has been with the greatest repugnance, is the severest condemnation of the conduct of Russia. That conduct has rendered it impossible for the ancient allies of the Emperor Nicholas to follow him any longer in his mad career. They have entered the ranks of his enemies; and having done so, is it probable, is it possible, that they should in some sort recompense him by stipulating that he may, whenever he thinks fit, convulse Europe merely to satisfy a selfish ambition; and that, whatever he may do, he need be under no apprehension of chastisement, as all Germany will guarantee the complete integrity of his territory? The idea is preposterous. Such Quixotic generosity and abnegation do not belong to our age. It is not in human nature to make such sacrifices. Mere sentiments of personal attachment do not thus influence sovereigns; and no German cabinet would, or could, act upon so suicidal a policy. As well might it be said that Austria and Prussia should guarantee to Russia the expenses of a war provoked by herself, and which has already inflicted so much evil on Europe.
There is now, we presume, but one opinion as to the interest every state in Europe has in resisting the gigantic march of Russia. We have never seriously participated in the fears entertained of the German Powers turning against us. The length of time that elapsed before they assumed a decided attitude, is accounted for by their peculiar situation with reference to Russia, and the necessity of preparation, in order that they should not be left alone exposed to her vengeance; but, however slow their movements, no one who remembers what they have as yet done in common with the maritime powers, can seriously suppose that they will declare for Russia. As for a permanent neutrality, it is impossible. We fully concur in the opinion expressed by General Benin, that it would be an act of suicide. We go further; we do not believe that Austria and Prussia will finally declare against the penalty that must inevitably be inflicted on Russia for her wanton disturbance of the tranquillity of Europe. If Austria
The history of the last century, and a glance at the map of Europe, are sufficient to show the extent of the danger of countenancing or tolerating Russia in her designs. If victory declared in her favour, one of her first acts, faithless as she has proved herself to her friends, as to her foes, would be to demand from Prussia the Duchy of Posen, and the better part of Silesia. Now, whatever may be thought of the original partition of Poland, that portion of its territory which was confirmed to Prussia by the Treaty of Vienna in 1815 has gained considerably since then. When first assigned to Prussia in 1792, the majority of its inhabitants were little better than predial slaves, and conse
quently as ignorant and brutalised as Russian serfs now are. Prussia began by repressing the customary excesses of the nobles. She introduced an improved judicial system, established schools, and by other means improved the habits and condition of the people. These reforms, together with the abolition of servitude, have produced excellent results; though, owing to its original degradation, Posen is still the most backward of the Prussian provinces. Posen and Silesia, with the exception of those parts inhabited by the descendants of the German colonists, are, it must be remembered, of Slavonic origin, and, in the name of Panslavism, of which the Czar is the great apostle, would be demanded from Prussia. Russia would soon find the Baltic admirably suited to her purposes; and as the Prussian territory forms but a strip of land between Poland and the sea, it would soon be in the condition of the Danubian principalities, and even less capable of resistance than Turkey. Unlike Turkey proper, Prussia is not protected by the conformation of her territory; and, from her geographical position, she presents a permanent temptation to the power that would attack her by land and sea at the same time.
In the event of the success of Russia, Austria is exposed to as great danger as Prussia. She is not ignorant that appeals have been already made to her subjects in the name of religion, and disaffection excited in the cause of the orthodox faith and of Panslavism. The elements for such a propagandism are to be found in that great empire, composed, as it is, of many states differing in extent and in population, as in creed. Most of them have been united under the imperial crown by inheritance, or by treaty, rather than by conquest; and their boundaries remain as they existed when independent, with the exception of the Italian possessions. Of the thirty-eight millions that form the population of the Austrian empire, about eighteen millions are Slavonians. The Roumani of Transylvania would desire to be united to their brethren; and the Hungarian war has shown that, if so favourable an occasion as the triumph of Hungary offered, the
Hungarians would readily place themselves under the rule of Russia, if it were from no other motive than hatred to the house of Hapsburg. It is true their condition, in that case, would be one of hopeless servitude; but passion does not calculate consequences. As for Italy, it is superfluous to say anything. In that country we have daily evidence that the elements of revolution, the ignes suppositos cineri, the never-extinguished volcano, are still in vigour. The fire is still beneath the surface, heaving incessantly, breaking forth from time to time, and menacing, when least expected, the eruption which would spread destruction and desolation around. The Italians have, it is true, nothing in common with Russia,-neither religion, habits, usages, manners; they are as opposite as civilisation and an innate love of the beautiful can well be to barbarism, hating despotism, and despising the barbarian of the north. Yet with all this, we have little doubt that they would co-operate with Russia to-morrow, if Russia, fresh from its triumph over France and England, called upon them to rise in arms against the detested Tedeschi. The principle of the Lombardo-Venetian patriot is to be the friend, and, if necessary, the active ally, of him who is the enemy of Austria. Where could Austria look for aid except from three or four millions of Germans? We believe that these things have been long and deliberately weighed at Vienna, and we should indeed be astonished if Austria contributed by her neutrality, not to say her direct partisanship, to the triumph of Russia.
It is admitted by persons who cannot be suspected of any great love for England and France, that these countries have a good and legitimate cause of war against Russia. The author of a pamphlet recently published, entitled Neutralité de l'Autriche, states that, even at St Petersburg, few are to be found who contest that right. The immense resources so long and so carefully accumulated by Russia, the odious manner in which she carries on war, the disorders and insurrections she so treacherously excites and pays in other countries, utterly regardless of the ruin which falls on the innocent and helpless populations,
her systematic plan of attacking the integrity, destroying the independence, and finally appropriating to herself the territory of inoffensive neighbours and allies-and all this iniquity practised with the most earnest protestations of moderation, disinterestedness, and even amity-have left no other alternative to those who have not made up their minds to bow to the Muscovite yoke, than to draw the sword in the cause not only of civilisation, but of existence itself. We admit her exceptional situation as an excuse for Austria not having long since assumed a more vigorous action. We, too, were slow in action; and we, too, have statesmen who, if they did not connive at the nefarious proceedings of Russia, have at all events been miserably duped; and we cannot plead the excuse of Austria. That empire had scarcely settled down from the terrible convulsion which had shaken every member of her vast and unwieldy frame, and had not recovered from her cruel condition between the dangerous protectorate of a powerful and ambitious ally on one hand, and the revolution on the other. The ties which once bound Austria to Russia have, however, since been loosened; the injury inflicted on Austrian interests has been very great. At the moment when Russia believed that she could count on the goodwill and the services of her protegée, she had not as yet paralysed her commercial existence by blocking up the mouths of the Danube. Neither had Russia unmasked her intrigues in Greece. She had not as yet supplied funds for piratical ships which menace the trade of the Archipelago, and that of Austria in the Adriatic. She had not as yet roused the brigand insurrection of Montenegro; and her emissaries in Servia, which touches Austria so nearly, were not yet avowed. Time has removed all doubt that even the grateful partiality of the Emperor Francis Joseph entertained as to the real designs of Russia; but unless Austria now carry her forbearance so far as to wait till the Cossacks invade her territory, she can cherish no further hope of the forbearance or loyalty of the Czar. Russia, her protector in 1849, has become her enemy, and menaces the integrity
and independence of Austria quite as much as she does that of Turkey. It is no cause of suspicion or censure that Austria desired, before any more decided action, to reassure herself with respect to Germany. An understanding with her old rival, Prussia, was absolutely necessary, as any antagonism with that power, in such circumstances as the present, would be of immense advantage to Russia. That her first idea was one of conservation, will not appear strange to those who have even a slight knowledge of the constitution of the Austrian empire, with its various and conflicting nationalities, and that that idea found its most effective realisation in the construction of a powerful German league. To it we owe the fact that the resistance to Russia has assumed a twofold character. For the last two years, these states have adopted, in common, certain moral obligations, which are comprised in the treaty, though it would, no doubt, be better to have maintained a unity of action, and constituted, at the last and most critical moment, one vast German camp, ready to act, side by side, with the West, and one army, that of the civilisation and balance of power in Europe, against barbarism and unbounded ambition. It would, no doubt, have been better if the great powers had long since taken their stand on one common ground, for many events have occurred which would have been avoided had a good understanding existed from the commencement of the Eastern questionor the same union in action as in protocols. If, however, there was at any time any hesitation about Austriaif there really existed a disposition to listen to the seductions, or to yield to the menaces of Russia-if the picture of future revolution, more terrible than that which convulsed her in 1848, was laid open before her, and if, conscious of many duties unperformed, many obligations unfulfilled, and many wrongs inflicted by her, she shrank at the thought of a complete and a final rupture with her former friend, that moment, we firmly believe, has passed away. Before the publication of the Seymour correspondence, we could have understood hesitation and doubts, but not since the proclamation to the
world of the scornful language of the Czar. We have shown that the interests of Austria have been the first to suffer; that her trade was arrested by the closing of the Danube, and by the Greek piracy paid by Russia; that the brigands of Montenegro were but obeying orders from St Petersburg; and that the hostility of Russia is even now felt in Servia. The longer Austria delayed before declaring herself, the more enemies she would have to encounter. We believe, then, that her merely expectant attitude is now definitively abandoned. Her salvation is at stake, no less than the integrity of the Ottoman empire; and while reserving to themselves a liberty of action in the conferences presided over by M. Buol, the German powers have not, by that reservation, left themselves a door open for escape; and Austria, above all, has pledged herself to act. If gratitude to Russia for past services be alleged, it may be answered that, by accepting her aid in 1849, the Emperor Francis Joseph did not bind himself to sacrifice the independence of his crown, the integrity of his territory, and the interests of his people; and if any scruples still exist on that score in the imperial mind, England and France may reply, in the words of Corneille
"Vous lui devez beaucoup ; Mais la reconnaissance et l'hospitalité Sur les âmes des rois n'ont qu'un droit limité. Quoi que doive un monarque, et dût-il sa couronne,
Il doit à ses sujets encor plus qu'à personne.
of having, for any length of time, disturbed the peace of Europe.
The conduct of Austria, since the treaty of the 20th April, has been more straightforward and more energetic than what any one expected from her. The note presented to Russia, in accordance with the provisions of that instrument, was so firm and precise, that the Prussian Cabinet, or rather the King, became alarmed, and the first symptom of weakness was taken advantage of by the agents of Russia to promote a rupture between the two states, even at the risk of war between them. The fears of the King were acted upon. Austria was accused of having given an erroneous interpretation to the treaty, and of having exaggerated its importance; and matters were carried so far that, as our readers will probably remember, a ministerial crisis followed at Berlin. The anger of the Russian party was principally directed against the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Baron Manteuffel was at one moment threatened with the loss of office. It was alleged by the Russo-Prussians that, by signing the treaty, Prussia had for ever sacrificed her independence and liberty of action; that no choice was now, or would in future be, left her, whether she desired to advance, or recede, or stop short; and that she had imposed on herself the obligation to follow in the wake of Austria. In the additional article of the treaty, which provides for the case of the Emperor of Russia's refusal to give the "complete security" required of him, it was observed, that the complete subordination of Prussia to Austria was formally stipulated. In such an emergency Austria was authorised to adopt whatever measures she may judge most efficacious for the speedy evacuation of the Principalities, and arresting the progress of the Russian armies; and should her territory be attacked in consequence of those measures, Prussia was bound to employ the whole of her military force to repel that attack. The Russian party at Berlin deduced from that article the probability, nay, the certainty, that war would arise out of the convention, but that the interest of Austria would alone be cared for, without any reciprocity in favour of Prussia. At
It is true that, with England and France united, there can be little apprehension as to their being equal to the task of bringing the Czar to reason; but with the co-operation of Austria and Prussia, the war has what may be called a more sovereign character. If we have so earnestly desired the co-operation of the two great German powers, it was with the object of seeing peace speedily established on a more solid and more lasting basis than before, and that the Emperor of Russia, all-powerful and terrible as he has long appeared to Europe, shall not enjoy the satisfaction