« AnteriorContinuar »
tinople by a power so ambitious, so unscrupulous, so utterly regardless of good faith as Russia, would be followed by the subjugation of the Ottoman provinces in Asia, and would close up for ever the Black Sea. Russia would soon command the Archipelago, the Mediterranean, and the Adriatic, and cover with its deadly shadow the whole of Europe. We confess that we have been slow to arrive at these convictions; we have been long unwilling to believe that the man who, on various and important occasions, rendered good service to the cause of order in Europe, would so wantonly and so recklessly disturb it. But whatever the high claims to public admiration which the Emperor Nicholas was once supposed to possess, he has now entered on a career of spoliation which must be at once arrested, and at any cost. The culpable weakness of our ministers-and particularly of one man, on whose head, we conscientiously believe, much of the responsibility of our present situation rests has already produced incalculable evil. Yet it is not too late. The Emperor Nicholas must be placed under the ban of Europe; he must be the excommunicated of nations. Those who have not entirely made up their minds to crouch before the Attila of modern days, must now stand forth, and manfully struggle for independence and existence. The fact should not be concealed ;-the war we are now engaged in is a war of life or death, as between Russia and Western Europe, and our preparations for it must be commensurate with its magnitude. We have already paid for the credulity or connivance of our Government. The Emperor Napoleon never believed that Spain or Russia, when these countries were invaded, would offer serious resistance, and he paid dearly for his incredulity. Neither must we persuade ourselves that the Emperor Nicholas will submit. Submission after so much arrogance would be destruction. He is Czar and Autocrat, and to yield to the enemies he has so insolently provoked, would be to acknowledge himself as an erring mortal-his infallibility would be gone for ever. He has allowed many occasions to slip by when a not dishonourable arrangement was possible. It
was easy at Olmutz, but he, too, was incredulous; he did not believe that the English or French seriously thought of war. Deceived by his ambassadors, and the spies who infested every court in Europe, and intoxicated by adulation, he flung defiance in the face of Europe. Before submission take place, much remains to be done. The fleets of Russia must be burnt or sunk, her fortresses dismantled, her arsenals ruined; and even after this, we doubt whether she will sue for peace. But whatever be the sacrifices we are called on to make, whatever the burdens we are destined to bear, whatever the effusion of blood and the waste of treasure, we must submit to all in order to pull down that Colossus; we must face every difficulty; we must be deterred by no danger, discouraged or dismayed by no reverses, swayed from our purpose by no prayers or seduction, seduced by no treachery at home or abroad, until we shall have attained our object. All this we must make up our mind to do, for we have no choice. We must show the Emperor of Russia and the entire world that we have not degenerated, as he may have been led to believe by his old and respected friends; that we are ready to prove our title as the most powerful nation of the earth; that though England has arrived at full maturity, she is not yet rotten; that England is not as yet quite prepared to descend to the level of the Turkish Empire; and that it would be a grievous error on his part to form his notion of Englishmen from his "old friends" in the Cabinet. We must render our enemy powerless, or we must make up our minds to renew the contest again and again. Had we any other at the head of the Government than the man to whose hands are intrusted the destinies of our Empire, we might cherish the hope of an honourable peace-a peace that would run no risk of being disturbed for a long time to come, and which would be the reward as well as the termination of the sacrifices we are making, and the struggle we have entered upon. At all events, we trust that the spirit of our country will revolt against dishonour, and that no peace will be imposed on us until it
shall be put out of the power of Russia again to convulse Europe.
It is impossible that the termination of the war, if indeed the present generation is destined to behold its termination, can leave the Czar in the possession of the same territorial advantages by means of which he has defied and menaced Europe. The status quo which some eight or ten months since might have been conceded, would now be defeat, if peace were unfortunately made on such conditions. The mere maintenance of the integrity of the Turkish empire, and the evacuation of the Principalities, would then have been accepted, less as an acknowledgment of complete satisfaction, than out of regard for the general peace. More will now be demanded. Austria and Prussia may contend for these objects only, and profess themselves satisfied with their attainment; but the maritime powers contemplate, we hope, more general measures for the re-establishment of peace on a solid basis, and the prevention for the future of acts suggested by ambition as grasping and unscrupulous as the world has ever had the misfortune to suffer from. Russia not only must be driven from the Principalities, but she must disgorge a no small portion of the spoil of which she has hitherto been left in quiet possession. The Black Sea must not again be a mare clausum like the Lake of Azoff. Austria and the rest of the German states are interested that the mouths of the Danube, the great outlets of their eastern trade, shall not be blocked up at the caprice of an overreaching power. Some one, besides, must pay the expenses of the war. It is not Turkey, the party originally aggrieved, that will be called on to do so. It cannot be England and France, for the party that pays is the conquered, and not the conqueror; and we will not insult either of these great nations by supposing that they will retire from the field until the common foe lies powerless for evil before them. When we say that Russia must be deprived of the means of again convulsing Europe, we do not mean to recommend an advance into her territory, nor that our armies shall dictate terms of peace at Moscow. Were there no other reasons to deter us from such an un
dertaking, we have the example of Charles XII. of Sweden, and the more recent one of Napoleon I. But if we will not traverse the desolate steppes of Russia, we may do what is still better; we may restore the balance of power in Europe, which has existed only in name for nearly the last forty years. If the preponderance of Russia, during that period, has not thrown every other Continental power into the shade, it has at all events done its best to exhaust their strength by compelling them to keep up ruinous armaments. She must, therefore, be reduced to proportions of a more modest kind, and give up a portion of the vast provinces which she has absorbed. Georgia and the Caucasus do not suffice for the object we ought to have in view, because they have in reality added nothing to her power, but have rather been a drain on her resources. The Crimea derives its principal, if not its only importance, from Sebastopol, and the vicinity of Odessa. The loss of these ports would inflict a fatal blow on her as a maritime power; but the advantages she would thus lose she would soon recover by land. Deprived of her ports in the Black Sea, her undivided efforts would be directed to the augmentation of her armies, and she would still be formidable to the west of Europe, and above all, to Germany. Bessarabia is not of much importance; Finland counts only a million of population; and if that territory reverted to Sweden, it is doubtful whether she could retain it long in presence of so powerful a neighbour. The aggregate population of these territories scarcely amounts to five millions, and Russia would have still sixty millions at her command. To reduce her within a fair proportion, she must be forced to quit her hold of Poland, which, with the addition of Courland, Livonia, and Esthonia, might be formed into an independent state, and Russia, though still a first-rate power, would cease to be a permanent menace to Europe. The reconstitution of Poland is, in fact, a necessity of war, and the principle of those who resist a war of aggression, is to deprive the aggressor of the power to repeat his attacks. This, so far as we understand, is the chief point of difference between the
maritime and the German powers. The object of Austria and Prussia appears to be the evacuation of the Ottoman territory; and that evacuation they conceive to be sufficient. The aim of England and France is higher. We not only require that the Principalities shall be evacuated, and that the integrity of the Ottoman empire shall be respected, but we demand security that the aggression which we resist shall not be repeated; that the public peace shall not be wantonly disturbed; and, consequently, that the means by which Russia may be enabled to do so shall be curtailed. The contest between Russia and Turkey is unequal and perilousdangerous to other states, and ruinous to the latter; and this state of things must end. We are no friends, in general, to those acts which transfer cities, districts, and states from one sovereign to another, whatever be the boundaries, natural or imaginary, that may be marked out for them. But such transfers have been made on other occasions where the cause was not so just, where the danger was not so great, and where the object proposed by them has not been attained. They have been made by conquerors in despite of all law, or right, public or private. They have been made to satisfy ambition or vengeance, and often by means of the foulest treachery, and the most flagrant disregard of every moral obligation. We do not see why that which has been effected for evil, should not now be done in the cause of justice, peace, and humanity. When the word restitution is mentioned, the name of Poland is one of the first that occurs. The desperate design has been attributed to Russia of restoring Polish independence by way of intimidation against Austria and Prussia, who participated in the successive spoliations of that once independent, but illgoverned kingdom, and from whom Russia would now tear Gallicia and Posen. As both these powers are equally interested in guarding against the loss of those possessions, it is no doubt for that object that they have mutually bound themselves to the defence of each other's territory, and to that we may also trace their desire to maintain the status quo ante bellum. open to doubt, however, whether
the re-establishment of the kingdom of Poland, as a protective measure against Russia, angmented by the territory which Russia appropriated at the first partition, and the Baltic provinces, would necessitate the cession by those powers of Gallicia and Posen. For eighty years they have been in possession of those territories, which, during that space of time, have very probably become reconciled to the change. They retained them at the re-establishment of the Duchy of Warsaw and the Kingdom of Poland. But supposing that danger would result from the contiguity of Polish provinces to a separate and independent kingdom of Poland, it would be more than compensated by the relative weakness of Russia, against which the new kingdom would serve as a barrier, and the increased distance from their frontier of a power which, for the last forty years, has been dangerous both in its friendship and its hostility, and which lowers their dignity as first-rate powers, as it menaces their independence. It does not necessarily follow that a great nation loses its influence by a partial loss of territory. Compensation is always to be found. Compare England of the present day with England when it lost its American colonies. France also had made great conquests, and she also had counted on preserving for ever the Rhine and Savoy. The loss of these frontiers did not eventually weaken her influence among the states of Europe. She did not cease to be a first-rate power, and what she lost in mere territory she has gained in unity and compactness.
We have said that we do not generally approve of a system of indiscriminate transfer of territory from one state to another by a mere dash of the pen, by the establishment of "natural boundaries," or any other line of limitation, without regard to those moral boundaries, which, though effected in the beginning under the influence of accident, have been rendered indelible by time and the habits which time brings forth and strengthens. The removal of old land-marks is, on principle, deserving of condemnation, and to such iniquitous partitions of territory as have been often witnessed, we may trace
many of the great convulsions of Europe. Yet many may not disapprove of the idea, said to be contemplated in certain quarters, of indemnifying Austria and Prussia in the event of a long war, where the condition of a lasting peace may require the constitution of the kingdom of Poland, of which Gallicia and Posen should form integral parts. It is admitted that the scattered and disjointed state of the dominions of Prussia materially diminishes her strength, and weakens the influence to which she is justly entitled in Europe. It must be remembered also that the possession of Warsaw places Russia in such a position that the Prussian monarchy may be attacked in its very centre. Should Austria, for instance, make war on Prussia, she would, by gaining over Saxony, which is by no means difficult, be within a short march from Berlin; and the danger to the Rhenish provinces of that kingdom, in the event of a rupture with France, is so obvious as to require no argument beyond the merest knowledge of their geographical position. France, in fact, can at any time scarcely move a brigade towards her northern frontier, that alarm is not excited, and explanations demanded. The frontier of that part of the Prussian monarchy which lies on the southern shore of the Baltic, is, in the south and east, sufficiently continuous; but towards the west the territory is much broken up, and several small independent states are almost entirely enclosed in the Prussian dominions-they are known in France by the expressive term enclaves. The extensive Prussian territory on both banks of the mighty river which France is so often accused of coveting for her frontier, is divided into the provinces of Westphalia and the Rhine; and this portion is separated from the rest of the kingdom, or from its Eastern states, by Hesse-Cassel, Brunswick, part of Hanover, &c. In Saxony there are some detached portions of territory belonging to Prussia, and the Canton of Neufchâtel in Switzerland is under her sovereignty. The Prussian government is painfully conscious of so vicious a system, and for many years attempts have been made to give a
more regular, united, and compact form to those dominions. The obstacles, however, appear, in the actual territorial division of the west of Europe, insurmountable, and therefore Prussia is forced to maintain, on that account alone, an immense military establishment. It would not perhaps be difficult to induce the petty states, inserted here and there in the Prussian dominions, to consent to an annexation which would effectually protect them, and indemnify Prussia, and give her the compactness of which she stands so much in need. Changes of a more important nature have, within a short period, taken place in the constitution of the Germanic body; and there is no reason why, for so useful and so general an object, a new organisation should not be effected. Several small states have already given up an independence, which was only productive of evil to them, and have become integral parts of her territory; and they do not appear to repent of what they have done. We believe that at no distant period the force of circumstances will produce some such modification as that we refer to, whatever be the future condition of the Germanic Confederation-whether it be wholly dissolved, or divided into two great branches, the northern and the southern unions; but we think that the conduct of Russia renders it more necessary and more practicable now. The first mediatisation was effected to the general satisfaction; it should have been carried farther; for thirty-eight separate states are too many for Germany. The actual condition of the Confederation, with those petty independent sovereigns, with the people puzzled as to whom they really owe allegiance, whether to the Princes separately, or to the Diet, can be satisfactory or profitable to no one except to Russia. It is by means of those petty states that this Power has been able to keep up a constant antagonism between Austria and Prussia, and intervene in the squabbles of the German sovereigns among each other, as often, and, we fear, as successfully, as she fostered the anarchy of Poland when Poland was independent. These states, moreover, are
utterly unable to protect themselves against revolution. We have seen, not many years since, Electoral Hesse forced to annul its constitution, and otherwise submit to degradation under the menaces of Austria, and in spite of the sympathy of Prussia, who silently put up with the affront. But the condition of the people of the petty states of Germany is not more anomalous and more perplexing than that of the sovereigns. Many of these princes hold commissions, and serve, not nominally, but really, in the armies of the great powers; receive pay, act under the orders of a minister or a general; are liable to be placed under arrest for any real or imaginary breach of discipline or neglect of duty, and to be tried by court-martial and degraded from their rank, or to be ignominiously dismissed from the service. It is absurd to talk of independence under such circumstances; and it is impossible that princes, placed in such a condition, can command respect, or enforce obedience from their own subjects. The complete mediatisation of those states could scarcely be unacceptable to the people, and could not be dishonourable to the princes; and there is more than one that would be desirous of annexation to Prussia. These might be left in possession of their domains, and, as a compensation for the loss of rank, and of an imaginary independence, might be officially admitted into the royal family of Prussia, with priority regulated by the importance of their respective states. The consorts of sovereigns of great nations are often selected from among these families; indeed, it seems to be generally admitted that their principal vocation is to furnish husbands and wives to the great families of Europe. It may hereafter be a proper subject for consideration, whether Prussia, being allowed the option of keeping the duchy of Posen, or of receiving in compensation the petty states which so inconveniently interrupt the continuity of her dominions, would have any insurmountable objections to the re-establishment of the kingdom of Poland, where such re-establishment was indispensable to the balance of power in Europe, and to her own safety.
We may say a few words respecting Austria, and the compensation that
might be offered to her in the event of such a modification of the map of Germany, and of her voluntary cession of Gallicia for the new kingdom of Poland. Several persons who consider such a creation as feasible and necessary, have suggested the annexation to that empire of the Danubian principalities, and a portion of Bessarabia, the rest being reserved in order to give to the southern provinces of Poland an outlet to the Black Sea. The natural advantages of Gallicia are unquestionably great; its rivers are abundant, and well suited to the purposes of commerce and irrigation; its climate is tolerably equal; the hilly country which forms its centre is fertile, and that fertility is susceptible of much improvement by draining the swamps of the numerous valleys which intersect the hills; and the soil of that part of the valley of the Dniester, which once formed part of Podolia, and the tracts lying along the banks of the San, are equally rich. We admit that these are advantages which would make a state loth to part with a territory possessing them. But we believe that Moldo-Wallachia is not inferior in this respect to Gallicia. The soil of these provinces is well watered by the Aluta, the Jalomnitza, the Argish, the Sereth, and other affluents of the Danube. These streams are navigable for a considerable distance. Neither is the climate unhealthy, except in the marshes of the Danube, where endemic fever prevails at certain seasons, but which drainage and agricultural improvement would remedy. The richest alluvial soil is found in almost all the country which stretches towards that great stream; and in the primary formations of the Carpathian mountains, gold, silver, copper, mercury, iron, and other metals, are found in abundance. The population of Gallicia amounts to about four millions; that of Moldo-Wallachia, if not more, is at least equal to it. The Principalities only require peace, and a paternal government, to reach a high degree of prosperity, and would in every respect amply compensate Austria for the transfer of Gallicia. They would give her a valuable outlet to the Black Sea, and her territory, rounded off by the rich valley of the