Lapas attēli

cedence. In both Houses the subjects under discussion were, with few exceptions, such as were not calculated to agitate men's minds in the way that the great changes we have related had done. There was in the legislature, as in the country, a subsidence of political excitement; and in consequence the debates in both Houses were, as a rule, less vehement, less sensational, less rhetorical, more decorous and business-like, but redundant to an extent that seriously delayed the progress of public affairs.

The abatement of party-spirit which we have noticed was not without its effect on the composition of the government; the cabinets having generally a more representative character than had hitherto belonged to them, and containing men whose views avowedly differed very widely, but who were content to merge their differences in order to promote the objects and measures they agreed in desiring to carry. Of course to some extent this had all along been the case; but it was so in a much more marked degree throughout the period whose history we have now to


It was generally supposed that, notwithstanding the strategical error which the emperor had committed in ordering the occupation of the Danubian provinces, his army, led as it was by able generals, well supplied with food, clothing, and warlike material, admirably drilled, and, to all appearance, highly effective, would speedily dissipate any force that the Turkish government might send against it: but, to the great mortification of the Russian emperor, and to the gratification and astonishment of the rest of Europe, the Russians, defeated by the Turkish forces at Kalafat, Oltenitza, Citale, Guiergevo, were repulsed again and again from, and eventually obliged to abandon the siege of, the earthwork of Silistria, garrisoned by a body of Turkish troops, commanded by two or three English lads, and were at length ignominiously expelled from the provinces they had so aggressively entered. At this moment the emperor-humbled by the reverses he had undergone; looking forward with painful apprehension to a war in which, owing to the immense naval preponderance of the allies, he must needs be shut up in his own dominions, scems to have been willing to make peace. Unfortunately the moment that found him disposed to



meet any overture made to him, but not willing to be lowered in the eyes of his subjects, found the allies less disposed than they had been to make fresh advances.

But we must return from the struggle in the Principalities to the events that had occurred elsewhere. Though the occupation of them had been followed by war between Russia and Turkey, the great powers did not cease from their efforts to bring about an amicable settlement of the question at issue between the belligerents. On the 29th of January the French emperor wrote to the czar an autograph letter, proposing terms which would have carried with them no humiliation; but the czar, who at this moment was rather provoked than humbled by the unexpected vigour with which the Turks were encountering his invasion of the Danubian provinces, replied in a somewhat haughty tone, and made an allusion to the retreat of the French from Moscow, which looked like a menace. His reference to that disaster was perhaps intended to serve as a warning to the French nation not to enter into a war which might prove to be more serious than they anticipated. If this was his object, he greatly miscalculated the effect this unfortunate allusion was likely to have on that highspirited nation. They needed not to be reminded of that terrible disaster, and the invasion that followed it: they too well remembered the events to which he referred, were burning to avenge them, and were more likely to be exasperated than deterred by this reference to them. About the same time another and still more earnest attempt was made to quench the warlike conflagration that had commenced. A deputation from the Society of Friends travelled to St. Petersburg to implore the Russian emperor to prevent the farther effusion of blood. They were kindly and courteously received. The czar listened attentively to their address, and gave a reply to it, in which he professed his desire for peace, but added that he could not permit the Turks to violate the stipulations of treaties made for the protection of his co-religionists. But he had already decided on the course he would pursue, and neither imperial nor quaker remonstrances could turn him from it.

And now at length it became necessary that serious preparations should be made for hostilities. Nearly forty years had elapsed since this country had been engaged in

a war on a scale to be at all compared with that into which she was now drifting. When troops began to be sent out, it was found that the transport-service was in a most ineffective condition-indeed, it would be nearer the truth to say that no transport-service existed and yet somehow or other the means must be provided for sending out an army, with all its arms, ammunition, baggage, and other necessary supplies, a distance of some 3000 miles by sea. All the troops that could be spared at the outbreak of this war amounted to about 25,000, and some time must elapse before even that number could be despatched to the seat of war. It was determined that vessels for the transport of this force should be at once hired or purchased, and that they should carry ten thousand men to Malta, to be landed there, and forwarded as soon as possible to Constantinople by such means of conveyance as could be procured. The vessels which transported them were to return at once to England, and carry out another detachment of fifteen thousand men direct to Constantinople. By this means it was hoped that the whole force would arrive about the same time at the places where its presence might be required. Other troops were sent after them as soon as possible.

The general appointed to command the English contingent was Lord Raglan. As Lord Fitzroy Somerset he had accompanied the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular war, during which he had acted as his military secretary. He had therefore reached an age at which prudence generally predominates over enthusiasm. He was not, indeed, a brilliant, but a thoroughly safe man; one who might be fully trusted not to risk the destruction of the force committed to his care by any wild or desperate enterprise. Always accustomed to ask himself when in difficulties what 'the Duke' would do under similar circumstances, he was a little old-fashioned in his military notions, and not well acquainted or disposed to fall-in with the improvements in the military art which had been adopted since the duke's days. The French colleague, with whom he was somewhat unequally yoked, was cast in a very different mould. In Algiers he had bravely and skilfully, but somewhat remorselessly, sustained the glory of the French arms, when he was sent for to aid in carrying out that plot which had


for its object the restoration of the empire in France. Of that restoration he had been the soul; and the part he had taken in effecting it was rewarded by his being put at the head of the army which was to cooperate with our troops in the operations to be undertaken against Russia. Marshal St. Arnaud was well adapted to fill the post to which he was thus appointed. Brave, skilful, experienced, and coolly daring, he was as little likely to compromise his troops as Lord Raglan, but more likely to make those bold and successful strokes by which the fate of a campaign is often decided. The army under his command was far more numerous than that under the orders of the British general; but to balance this difference in the land-forces it had been agreed that the English fleet should be much larger than the French fleet, and as Marseilles and Toulon were much nearer to the seat of war than the places from which the English troops were embarked, the expenses incurred by two allied governments were on the whole not very unequal. The immense naval superiority of the allies enabled them to command at will the Black Sea, the Sea of Azof, the Baltic, and the White Sea-in a word, all the waters by which the Russian coast was washed, and thus to cut off communication by sea between Russia and the rest of the world, and enable the allies to make a descent on any part of that coast which they might deem to be vulnerable, to reembark after having effected what they could there, and then go away to make another unexpected descent on some distant and ill-defended place. By this means the whole coast was kept in a state of constant alarm; the Russian government was obliged to dismantle many of its fortifications lest they should shelter their enemies, and to keep large forces on foot to be ready to meet any attempt that might be made by the allied fleets or the troops they conveyed with them. The limits of this History will not allow us to follow out the events of the desultory warfare thus carried on; we must fix our attention on that which was the object of the main contest between the two contending parties, the defence or the destruction of Sebastopol, to which the Russian Black Sea fleet had retired. In point of fact all the other attacks that were made after this attempt was determined on were little more than diversions intended to prevent forces or supplies from being

sent to that part on which the attention of both parties was chiefly concentered.

It was on the 8th of February that the Russian ambassador, Baron Brunow, quitted London. On the 21st of that month the czar issued a manifesto, in which he denounced England and France as having ranged themselves side by side with the enemies of Christianity against Russia, which was fighting for the orthodox faith. On the 27th the ultimatum of the English government was conveyed to him in a letter written by Lord Clarendon, the British Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Prince Nesselrode, the Russian minister, which contained the following passage:

The British government, having exhausted all the efforts of negotiation, is compelled to declare to the cabinet of St. Petersburg that, if Russia should refuse to restrict within purely diplomatic limits the discussion in which she has for some time past been engaged with the Sublime Porte, and does not by return of the messenger who is the bearer of my present letter announce her intention of causing the Russian troops under the orders of Prince Gortschakoff to commence their march with a view to re-cross the Pruth, so that the provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia shall be completely evacuated on the 30th of April next, the British government must consider the refusal or the silence of the cabinet of St. Petersburg as equivalent to a declaration of war, and will take its measures accordingly.'

The only reply vouchsafed by the Russian government to this communication was a verbal announcement to the English consul, that the emperor did not consider it be coming in him to give any reply to Lord Clarendon's letter; and shortly after, war was formally declared.

We pass over the various stoppages made by the troops sent out at Valetta, Gallipoli, Constantinople, Scutari, and Varna; nor shall we attempt to give any account of the hardships, annoyances, and difficulties, avoidable and unavoidable, to which they were exposed during their stay at these different places. We proceed at once to relate the steps that were taken with a view to the possession of Sebastopol. The design of this attack originated with the Duke of Newcastle, the Secretary at War, who persuaded his colleagues that it might be easily captured, and

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »