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take we now that of Lord Palmerston, who, having during some twenty odd years filled the office of Secretary at War, without a seat in the Cabinet, and without having throughout the period distinguished himself by any marked participation in state affairs, was, in 1830, in obedience to the exigencies of party, appointed Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The late Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer (afterwards Lord Dalling) in his recently published me. moir of Lord Palmerston, prints a short letter written on that occasion by the latter, to an intimate friend and relative, which, as the noble biographer says, “characteristically manifests the situation of a man entering for the first time that laborious department.” This remarkable communication, which no discreet friend would have thought of publishing, runs as follows :
My dear Sullivan,-I send you the note you wish for. I have been, ever since my appointment, like a man who has plunged into a mill-race, scarcely able by all his kicking and plunging to keep his head above water.
“Yours, etc., PALMERSTON." When it is considered that upon the “ kicking and plunging” of this untried and inexperienced Minister depended the foreign relations of a great nation, and, to a certain extent, the future of all the nations of the world, the mind trembles to think what might have happened, and thanks Heaven that things are no worse, so far as they have gone. The "statesman” thus improvised, commenced his career by inaugurating a policy which has throughout its course been the subject of great and warm contention, and which, up to the present date, has not, in any essential particular, arrived at a recognized solution; the only unmistakeable result being that England, without effecting any definite object, or establishing any claims to consideration, has only brought down upon herself the suspicion, jealousy, and ill-will of surrounding nations.
And what shall be said of the other Foreign Ministers of our own day? Lord Stanley (now the Earl of Derby) naturally claimed the seals of the Foreign Office, as eldest son of the leader of a powerful party; and to him we owe the first admission of the principle of arbitration in reference to the Alabama Claims. Earl Granville's diplomatic qualifications are clearly deducible from the fact of his being the son of a nobleman who for many years was Ambassador to Paris on the part of this country; his statesmanlike qualities having been subsequently developed by a two years' occupancy of the important post of Master of the Buckhounds. Lord Clarendon became recommended to, and influential at the Foreign Office, from the circumstance that he was supposed personally to enjoy particular recommendations to the esteem of the Napoleonic régime.
Are these the men, we would ask, to cope in hard, and subtle, and not over scrupulous diplomacy, with a Nesselrode or a Gortschakoff, a Manteuffel, or a Bismarck, a Talleyrand, a Metternich, or even with a Daniel Webster or a Fish ?
But whilst a want of purpose, stability, perspicacity, and all the higher qualities of statesmanship, too generally characterize the head of the
Department of Foreign Affairs, we are led to suspect that the working staff under them is by no means so efficient as it ought to be. Upon any other supposition it would involve an unjustifiable slur upon the aspirants for distinction and advancement at Downing-street, that upon occasions of important missions or negociations, instead of employing some of the regular diplomatic servants of the crown, amateur diplomatists, sought out from amongst the ornamental or influential classes of society, are specially appointed for the purpose. For instance, Lord Durham was sent to Petersburg on a special mission in 1832, and again in 1836; Lord Ashburton went to Washington in 1842, to settle the Maine boundary dispute; when he pusillanimously surrendered every point in contention, for the sake of peace,-signing a treaty which was at the time but too justly stigmatized as a “capitulation.” Then the late Lord Lyons, after nearly' forty years service in the Navy, was appointed to diplomatic posts in Greece, Switzerland, and Sweden, but afterwards returned to his original profession, leaving his son to take up his honours in diplomacy. Then we find Mr. Cobden taken from amongst the lay element to negociate a commercial treaty with France ;* and lastly, we
* In mentioning the name of this eminent and patriotic man, we by no means would imply any opinion upon the soundness of his principles, or the value of his public services; we only suggest that his employment in the public service at all, implies a sad want of ability in the staff of the Foreign Office to deal with great international commercial questions; a want which, to an especially commercial nation, must be peculiarly disadvantageous.
have Lord de Grey and Sir Stafford Northcote, and Professor Bernard, of Oxford, three distinguished amateurs, who never broke lance in diplomatic encounter, deputed to Washington last year to settle in an "amicable” manner a whole string of disputes which had exhausted the best energies of the sharpest men on both sides of the water for many years past; the result being a treaty of which every article involves an ignominious surrender of rights, or principles (to say nothing of rights abandoned by omission),—and all for what ?-for the sake of peace, in the interests of trade. So true is it that our present international policy-if we can be said to have any -too generally takes its key-note from what is called the “ tone of the market.”
WEAKNESS OF OUR RECENT FOREIGN POLICY.
It is not to be disguised that concurrently with, and probably as a natural consequence of, that want of astuteness and trained ability in our diplomatic agents, of which we have complained, there has of late occurred a marked and habitual failure in conduct, as regards consistency and vigour of action, and that conservative principle which should jealously guard the national rights and interests by the stern principles of national law. In obedience to vague notions of philanthropy and generosity which have recently got into vogue with us, it has come to be considered noble to abandon constitutional rights and safe-guards, in a vain
belief of promoting a reciprocally friendly spirit amongst our neighbours when we happen to have dealings with them. The idea, however, is a sad mistake. Never was a greater error than to talk of “friendship” in diplomacy ;-wherein Monarchs and their Ministers have invariably shown themselves more bitter in hostility, more selfish in purpose, more unscrupulous as to means to be adopted, more ruthless as to results, than in the field of war itself! With such customers to deal with, nothing should be left to honour, much less to generosity. A few instances will suffice to illustrate the way in which England, in obedience to a mistaken chivalrous or confiding policy, has lost ground amongst her neighbours, sacrificing her interests, receding from her position of dignity, or waiving distinct rights; and how this policy has often been more or less influenced by party motives at home.
To begin, was there anything so glorious or satisfactory in the Treaty of Paris, of 1856, which closed the disastrous Crimean War, that we should have been called upon to make a heavy sacrifice of belligerent rights in honour of it, and that in deference to the wish, and in furtherance of the traditional policy, of the haughty foe whom we had vanquished, but not subdued ? Yet so it was, that the ink was scarcely dry in the pen which signed that unworthy treaty, when Count Walewski, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, in a jaunty, offhand manner, induced the assembled plenipotentiaries, in the interests of “humanity and civiliza. tion,” to put their hands to a “Declaration,"