[ae] and [oe] are used for the diphthongs/ligatures in (mostly) French words. (e.g. c[oe]ur, heart; s[oe]ur, sister; ch[oe]ur; choir).
The original page headings have been retained and moved to appropriate positions at the beginning of letters and text to which they refer, so as not to interrupt the flow of the text. Thus, a long letter may be prefaced by two, or even three page headings. Likewise, footnotes have been moved to the end of the appropriate letter, or the appropriate paragraph in the case of longer pieces of text.
In the text file version, for "See ante/post, p. xyz", the date and note number (where applicable) have been given instead of the page number, for easier reader look-up.
Page numbers have been adjusted to allow for the re-positioning of footnotes. Other (numerous) page numbering errors have been corrected.
A list of corrections will be found at the end of the text.
THE LETTERS OF QUEEN VICTORIA
A Selection from Her Majesty's Correspondence between the Years 1837 and 1861
Published by Authority of His Majesty The King
ARTHUR CHRISTOPHER BENSON, M.A. and VISCOUNT ESHER, G.C.V.O., K.C.B.
In Three Volumes
London John Murray, Albemarle Street, W. 1908
Copyright in Great Britain and Dependencies, 1907, by H.M. THE KING.
In the United States by Messrs LONGMANS, GREEN & CO.
All rights reserved.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1854 PAGES The Eastern Question—Attack on the Prince—The French alliance—The Orleans family—The Reform Bill—The Baltic command—The British ultimatum—Departure of the Guards—War declared—Cabinet dissensions—Austrian interests—The Sultan—Prussian policy—Marshal St Arnaud—Invasion of the Principalities—Separation of Departments—The Russian loan—Debates on the War—Prince Albert and the Emperor Napoleon—The Crimea—Battle of the Alma—Maharajah Dhuleep Singh—Attack on Sebastopol—Battle of Inkerman—Death of Sir G. Cathcart—A hurricane—Lord John Russell and the Premiership—Miss Nightingale's mission 1-62
Peace proposals—The Four Points—Offer of the Garter to the Premier—Sufferings of the troops in the Crimea—Resignation of Lord John—The Queen's disapproval—Lord Palmerston as Leader—The Ministry defeated—Lord Derby sent for—Lord Palmerston and the Leadership—Lord Derby's failure—Lord Lansdowne consulted—Lord John sent for—Disappointment of Lord John—Lord Palmerston to be Premier—Intervention of Lord Aberdeen—The new Cabinet—The Vienna Conference—Resignation of the Peelites—Death of the Czar—Lord Panmure at the War Office—Negotiations at Vienna—Visit of the Emperor—Russia and the Black Sea—Estimate of the Emperor—Retirement of Canrobert—Death of Lord Raglan—General Simpson in command—Lord John resigns—Battle of the Tchernaya—Visit to Paris—At the tomb of Bonaparte—Fall of Sebastopol—Life Peerages—Prince Frederick William of Prussia—Offer to Lord Stanley—France and Austria—Visit of the King of Sardinia 63-157
The Conference—The Queen's determination—Russia accepts the terms—Sardinia and the Conference—Protection of neutrals—The Crimean enquiry—Incorporation of Oudh—Canning succeeds Dalhousie—Unclouded horizon in India—Future of the Principalities—Birth of the Prince Imperial—The Princess Royal—The Treaty of Paris—End of the War—Garter for Lord Palmerston—The Title of Prince Consort—Position of the Queen's husband—Retirement of Lord Hardinge—Appointment of the Duke of Cambridge—Lord Granville's mission—Coronation of the Czar—A Royal proposal—Russian procrastination—Death of Lord Hardinge—The Archduke Maximilian—Affair of Neuchatel—Death of Prince Charles of Leiningen—Dispute with the United States 158-222
The China War—Position of Parties—Defeat of the Government—The General Election—The Divorce Bill—Betrothal of Princess Charlotte of Belgium—The Indian Mutiny—Delhi—Cawnpore—Marriage of Princess Charlotte—Visit of the Emperor Napoleon—Death of Sir Henry Lawrence—Condition of Lucknow—Sir Colin Campbell—Reinforcement of Lucknow—Death of the Duchesse de Nemours—Crisis in the City—Future Government of India—Clemency of Lord Canning—Death of Havelock 223-260
Marriage of Princess Royal—The Orsini attentat—The Conspiracy Bill—Resignation of the Government—Lord Derby summoned—The new Cabinet—Trial of Bernard—The Emperor and the Carbonari—Capture of Lucknow—Confirmation of the Prince of Wales—The second India Bill—The Oudh Proclamation—Lord Ellenborough's despatch—A crisis—Lord Derby's despatch—Lord Aberdeen consulted—Prerogative of Dissolution—Collapse of the attack—Views of Sir James Outram—Offer to Mr Gladstone—Purification of the Thames—Visit to Cherbourg—British Columbia—The Ionian Islands—The Princess Royal in Prussia The India Office—Lord Canning's Proclamation—Napoleon and Italy 261-306
The Emperor Napoleon and M. Huebner—Attitude of the Pope—Northern Italy—The Queen's first grandchild—Advice to the Emperor Napoleon—Meeting of Parliament—The Indian forces—The Prince of Wales at Rome—Advice to Emperor of Austria—Mission of Lord Cowley—Question of a Conference—The summons to Sardinia—Revolution in the Duchies—The compact of Plombieres—The general election—Policy of the Emperor Napoleon—Meeting a new Parliament—Question of neutrality—Debate on the Address—The Ministry defeated—The Garter for Lord Derby—Lord Granville summoned—The rival leaders—Lord Palmerston Premier—Offer to Mr Cobden—India pacified—Victory of the French—The Emperor Napoleon's appeal—End of the War—Ascendancy of France—Views of the Pope—Cavour's disappointment—Meeting of the Emperors—The provisions of Villafranca—Italian policy—Sardinia and Central Italy—The Emperor Napoleon and Lord Palmerston—Invitation from President Buchanan—Pro-Italian Ministers—Objections to Sir J. Hudson—Divorce Court reports 307-378
The Emperor Napoleon's pamphlet, The Pope and the Congress—Annexation of Savoy—Meeting of Parliament—Sardinian designs—Mr Gladstone's Budget—Scene at the Tuileries—The Emperor and Lord Cowley—The Swiss protest—Death of Prince Hohenlohe—The Indian Civil Service—The Paper Duties—The Lords and Money Bills—Mr Gladstone and resignation—The Prince of Wales's tour—The Volunteer Review—Flight of the King of Naples—The King's appeal to Queen Victoria—Tour of Prince Alfred—Sardinia and Naples—The Empress of Austria—Betrothal of Princess Alice—Episcopal appointments—Visit of the Empress Eugenie 379-419
Conservative overtures to Lord Palmerston—Illness of King of Prussia—His death—The absorption of Naples—Garter for new King of Prussia—The Provostship of Eton—Lord John and Garibaldi—Death of Duchess of Kent—Bereavement—The war in America—Recognition of the South—Death of Cavour—Death of Lord Campbell—The new Foreign Office—Earldom for Lord John Russell—Swedish politics—The Emperor Napoleon's aims—At Frogmore—Visit to Ireland—Tranquillity of Ireland—The Orleans Princes—The Prussian Coronation—Fetes at Berlin—The Times and Prussia—Death of King of Portugal—The affair of the Trent—The Compiegne interview—An ultimatum—The Prince's last letter—Illness of the Prince—The Crisis—Sympathy—Bereavement—Death of Lady Canning—A noble resolve—Comfort and hope 420-478
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
H.M. QUEEN VICTORIA, H.R.H. THE PRINCE CONSORT, AND CHILDREN. From the picture by F. Winterhalter at Buckingham Palace Frontispiece
H.M. EUGENIE, EMPRESS OF THE FRENCH. From a miniature by Sir W. K. Ross at Windsor Castle Facing p. 120
VISCOUNT PALMERSTON, K.G. From the drawing by Sir George Richmond, R.A., in the possession of the Earl of Carnwath " 232
H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES. From a drawing by F. Winterhalter, 1859 " 320
H.R.H. THE PRINCE CONSORT, 1861. From the picture by Smith, after Corbould, at Buckingham Palace " 472
TO CHAPTER XXIII
At the meeting of Parliament, on the 31st of January 1854, the Ministry were able triumphantly to refute the charge of illegitimate interference in State affairs which had been made by a section of the Press against Prince Albert; they were, however, severely attacked for not acting with greater vigour in Eastern affairs. In February, the Russian Ambassador left London, the Guards were despatched to the East, and the Russian Government was peremptorily called upon by Great Britain and France to evacuate the Principalities. The Peace Party, Bright, Cobden, and others, were active, but unheeded; the Society of Friends sending a pacific but futile deputation to the Czar. In March, the demand for evacuation being disregarded, war was declared, and a treaty of alliance signed between England and France; Lord Raglan and Marshal St Arnaud were appointed to command the respective armies, Vice-Admiral Sir James Dundas and Sir Charles Napier having command of the Mediterranean and Baltic Fleets respectively. The attitude of Austria was ambiguous, and, after England and France were committed to war, she contracted an offensive and defensive alliance with Prussia, each country engaging to make limited preparations for war. At home, with a view to greater efficiency, the duties of the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, till then united in a single Secretaryship, were divided, the Duke of Newcastle assuming the former office, while Sir George Grey became Colonial Secretary; Lord John Russell also resumed office as President of the Council. The Russians were unsuccessful in their operations against the Turks, notably at Silistria and Giurgevo, while, as the summer advanced, public opinion in support of an invasion of the Crimea rose steadily, the Times indicated the taking of Sebastopol as indispensable, and Lord Aberdeen's hand was forced. On the 28th of June, the Cabinet sanctioned a despatch to Lord Raglan, urging (almost to the point of directing) an immediate attack upon Sebastopol; the French Emperor was in favour of the plan, though both Commanders-in-Chief entertained doubt as to whether it was immediately feasible. On the 7th of September, the allied forces (58,000 strong) sailed from Varna, a landing being effected a few days later at Old Fort, near Eupatoria; at about the same time an important interview took place at Boulogne between Prince Albert and the Emperor Napoleon. The signal victory at the Alma, on the 20th of September, was followed by the death of St Arnaud, and the appointment of Canrobert as his successor. Decisive successes were next obtained at Balaklava on the 25th of October, and at Inkerman on the 5th of November; but on the 14th a fierce gale did immense damage to life and property, both at Balaklava and on the sea. Meanwhile, indignation at home was aroused by the tidings of the breakdown of the commissariat and transport departments, and the deplorable state of the hospitals; Miss Florence Nightingale, who had sailed from England with a number of nurses, arrived at Scutari early in November, and proceeded to remedy deficiencies as far as possible; while Lord John Russell vainly urged on the Premier the substitution of Lord Palmerston for the Duke of Newcastle as Secretary for War. Sir Charles Napier, who, previously to his departure with the Baltic Fleet, had been feted at the Reform Club, and extravagantly lauded by Cabinet Ministers, was by the month of October engaged in a recriminatory correspondence with the First Lord of the Admiralty. At about the same time the Patriotic Fund was established under the presidency of Prince Albert.
In Parliament, the last vestige of the old Navigation System, limiting the coasting trade to British ships, was repealed, and a Bill also passed for preventing corrupt practices at elections. Owing to the war, the Reform Bill was withdrawn, Lord John Russell, on announcing the fact in Parliament, being overcome, and giving way to tears. In the short session, which took place during the latter half of December, a Foreign Enlistment Act was passed, providing for a force of 10,000 foreigners, to be drilled in this country.
The Exhibition Building, which had been constructed in Hyde Park in 1851, and had been re-erected at Sydenham, was opened with great ceremony by the Queen, and was henceforth known as the Crystal Palace.
The Earl of Aberdeen to Queen Victoria.
LONDON, 6th January 1854.
LORD ABERDEEN presents his humble duty to your Majesty. He cannot wonder at the indignation expressed by your Majesty at the base and infamous attacks made upon the Prince during the last two or three weeks in some of the daily papers. They are chiefly to be found in those papers which represent ultra-Tory or extreme Radical opinions; but they are not sanctioned by the most respectable portion of the Press. Lord Aberdeen has received some information respecting the origin of these attacks; but it is vague and uncertain. At all events he believes that your Majesty may safely make yourself at ease upon the subject, as he is satisfied that these hostile feelings are shared by few. It is much to be desired that some notice of the subject may be taken in Parliament, when, by being treated in a proper manner, it may be effectually stopped. Lord Aberdeen has spoken to Lord John Russell, who will be quite prepared to moot it in the House of Commons.
It cannot be denied that the position of the Prince is somewhat anomalous, and has not been specially provided for by the Constitution; but the ties of Nature, and the dictates of common sense are more powerful than Constitutional fictions; and Lord Aberdeen can only say that he has always considered it an inestimable blessing that your Majesty should possess so able, so zealous, and so disinterested an adviser. It is true that your Ministers are alone responsible for the conduct of public affairs, and although there is no man in England whose opinion Lord Aberdeen would more highly respect and value, still if he had the misfortune of differing from His Royal Highness, he would not hesitate to act according to his own convictions, and a sense of what was due to your Majesty's service.
The Prince has now been so long before the eyes of the whole country, his conduct so invariably devoted to the public good, and his life so perfectly inattackable, that Lord Aberdeen has not the slightest apprehension of any serious consequences arising from these contemptible exhibitions of malevolence and faction.
Your Majesty will graciously pardon Lord Aberdeen for writing thus plainly; but there are occasions on which he almost forgets your Majesty's station, and only remembers those feelings which are common to all ranks of mankind.
[Footnote 1: A section of the Press, favourable to Lord Palmerston, had insinuated that his resignation was due to "an influence behind the throne." Similar attacks were made by other journals, and not abandoned upon Lord Palmerston's re-admission to the Cabinet: the most extravagant charges of improper interference in State affairs were made against the Prince, and it was even rumoured that he had been impeached for high treason and committed to the Tower! The cartoons in Punch usually present a faithful reflection of current popular opinion, and in one of them the Prince was depicted as skating, in defiance of warning, over dangerous ice.]
Queen Victoria to the Earl of Clarendon.
WINDSOR CASTLE, 9th January 1854.
The Queen thanks Lord Clarendon for his letter just received with the enclosures.
As the proposed answer to the Emperor contains perhaps necessarily only a repetition of what the Queen wrote in her former letter, she inclines to the opinion that it will be best to defer any answer for the present—the more so, as a moment might possibly arrive when it would be of advantage to be able to write and to refer to the Emperor's last letter.
With respect to the Persian Expedition the Queen will not object to it—as the Cabinet appears to have fully considered the matter, but she must say that she does not much like it in a moral point of view. We are just putting the Emperor of Russia under the ban for trying "to bring the Sultan to his senses" by the occupation of part of his territory after a diplomatic rupture, and are now going to do exactly the same thing to the Shah of Persia!
[Footnote 2: See ante, vol. ii, 18th October-26th November, 1853, notes 30, 31, 32.]
[Footnote 3: Under the belief that Persia had declared war against Turkey, and that diplomatic relations between England and Persia were suspended, the Cabinet had agreed upon the occupation of the Island of Karak by a British force.]
The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.
LAEKEN, 9th January 1854.
MY DEAREST VICTORIA,—I wrote you a most abominable scrawl on Friday, and think myself justified in boring you with a few words to-day.
The plot is thickening in every direction, and we may expect a great confusion. The dear old Duke used to say "You cannot have a little war." The great politicians of the Press think differently. The Duke told me also once: "At the place where you are you will always have the power to force people to go to war." I have used that power to avoid complications, and I still think, blessed are the peacemakers.
How the Emperor could get himself and everybody else into this infernal scrape is quite incomprehensible; the more so as I remain convinced that he did not aim at conquest. We have very mild weather, and though you liked the cold, still for every purpose we must prefer warmth. Many hundred boats with coal are frozen up, and I am told that near two hundred ships are wanting to arrive at Antwerp....
I am much plagued also by little parliamentary nonsense of our own here, a storm in a bottle; this is the way of human kind, and in such cases it always pleases me to think that I am not bound to be always their working slave, and I cast a sly look at my beautiful villa on the Lake of Como, quite furnished.... My beloved Victoria. Your devoted Uncle.
[Pageheading: THE PRESS]
[Pageheading: THE FRENCH ALLIANCE]
The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.
LAEKEN, 13th January 1854.
MY BELOVED VICTORIA,—I grieve to see how unjustly you are plagued, and how wonderfully untrue and passionate are the attacks of part of the Press. Abuse is somewhat the staff of life in England, everything, everybody is to be abused; it is a pity, as nothing more unproductive as this everlasting abuse can well be imagined. As nothing ever gave the slightest opening to this abuse, it is to be hoped that it will be soon got over—the meeting of Parliament will now do good in this respect. As far as your few continental relations are concerned, I don't think they will be able to fix anything upon your faithful servant. I have done England at all times good services, in the sense of her best interests. I hold a position of great geographical importance for England, just opposite the mouth of the Thames. Successes of vanity I am never fishing for in England, nor anywhere else. The only influence I may exercise is to prevent mischief where I can, which occasionally succeeds; if war can be avoided, and the same ends obtained, it is natural that THAT should be tried first. Many English superficial newspaper politicians imagine that threatening is the thing—I believe it the worst of all systems. The Emperor Nicholas and Menschikoff wanted by threatening the Turks to get certain things, and they have by that means got a very troublesome and expensive affair on their hands. I wish England too well to like to see it, but one of these days they will get into some scrape in the same way. The foolish accusation that we are doing all we can to break up the French Alliance is certainly the most absurd of all; if anything can be for our local advantage, it is to see England and France closely allied, and for a long period—for ever I should say....
I have heard, and that from the Prussian Quarter, that great efforts are making on the part of Russia, to gain over Louis Napoleon. I understand, however, that though Louis Napoleon is not anxious for war, that his opinion is favourable to the continuation of a good understanding with England. That it should be so is, I must say, highly desirable. The poor Orleans will be grieved and hurt by all these things. The death of the child of the poor Queen of Spain will not be a favourable omen for Spain....
With my best love to Albert. Believe me ever, my beloved Victoria, your truly devoted Uncle,
[Footnote 4: A daughter had been born to the Queen of Spain on the 5th of January, and lived only three days.]
[Pageheading: THE ORLEANS FAMILY]
Queen Victoria to the Earl of Aberdeen.
WINDSOR CASTLE, 16th January 1854.
The Queen sends the answer she has this morning received from the Duc de Nemours, which she hopes is on the whole satisfactory as regards the reported visit of the Count de Chambord. The Duke does not see in so strong a light as we do, the danger of even the report being believed—probably from living so much out of the world as he does. What would Lord Aberdeen wish her to do farther, and what does he think can be done in the way of contradiction? The Queen wishes likewise to have Lord Aberdeen's opinion and advice on the following subjects. He knows that we have invariably received the poor Orleans family (in particular our own near relations, the Nemours) from time to time here and in London, and that the Queen has always from the first year done this openly but unostentatiously. It is by no means her intention to change her conduct in this respect—but since the great noise caused by the "fusion" she thought it better not to invite the Nemours either to Osborne or here, hoping that by this time these tiresome rumours would have ceased. They have not, however, and we think that perhaps it would be wiser not to see them here, at any rate till after the meeting of Parliament, though it is very painful to the Queen to hurt their feelings by apparent neglect. Is Lord Aberdeen of this opinion, and does he think that it will not be misconstrued into an admission of having encouraged intrigues or of submission to the will and pleasure of Louis Napoleon?
For the Queen would never submit to such an accusation, nor would she continue (after the excitement is past) to exclude these poor exiles from occasional visits—which have been paid and received ever since '48, and which would be unworthy and ungenerous conduct.
Likewise does Lord Aberdeen think that a morning visit to the Duchess of Aumale to enquire after her health would be imprudent?
It goes much against the Queen's feelings of generosity and kindness to neglect the poor exiles as she has done this winter, but the present moment is one of unparalleled excitement and of great political importance, which requires great prudence and circumspection. There is an admirable article in the Morning Chronicle of to-day, taking quite the right line upon the infamous and now almost ridiculous attacks on the Queen and Prince. Has Lord Aberdeen any idea who could have written it?
The Queen sends a letter she had received from her Uncle, which may amuse and interest him. To make the statement of the Queen's intercourse with the Orleans family quite clear, she should add, that when the family visit the Queen or she visits them, that it is put into the Court Circular, and this of course gets copied into country papers and foreign papers; but after consideration the Queen thought this the wiser course, for with all the spies who are no doubt about—if this were not done, and the Queen's visits and vice versa were suppressed and yet found out—it would give them an air of mystery which is just what we wish to avoid.
[Footnote 5: Son of the Duc de Berri, and known formerly as the Duc de Bordeaux. (See ante, vol. i., 9th October, 1843, note 72). The Duc de Nemours denied all knowledge of the rumoured visit, and thought its importance had been exaggerated.]
The Earl of Aberdeen to Queen Victoria.
LONDON, 17th January 1854.
... With respect to your Majesty's custom of seeing the French Royal Family, Lord Aberdeen humbly thinks that there is no good reason for making any change. It has always taken place without parade or ostentation; and knowing, as Lord Aberdeen does, that no political object is in view, he would feel ashamed to advise your Majesty to do anything at variance with that sympathy which your Majesty has been careful to keep within the bounds of prudence and moderation....
Lord Aberdeen hopes that he may venture to congratulate your Majesty on the commencement of a change with respect to the newspaper attacks upon the Prince. He observed the article, to which your Majesty refers, in the Morning Chronicle of yesterday; and he believes he may certainly say that it was written by Mr Gladstone, although he would not wish it to be known. There was also a very sensible letter in the Standard of last night, signed D. C. L. This is the signature always assumed by Mr Alexander Hope, in his contributions to the Press, and Lord Aberdeen does not doubt that it is written by him. It is only a wonder to find it in such a quarter; and it shows some disposition on the part of that scurrilous paper to alter its course. There is perhaps no great objection to the papers dealing with the subject as they think proper, before the meeting of Parliament, provided the Times takes no part at present; for as this paper is supposed to be influenced by the Government, this belief would injure the effect of anything that might appear in its columns....
[Footnote 6: Mr. A. J. Hope (afterwards Beresford-Hope), at this time out of Parliament, had written over the signature "D.C.L." a series of letters to the Press on the Papal claims.]
[Footnote 7: On the re-assembling of Parliament, the charges against the Prince were at once refuted by the Prime Minister and Lord John Russell; and his right to assist the Queen completely established by those Ministers, with the concurrence of Lord Derby and Mr Walpole, on behalf of the Opposition, and Lord Campbell, the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench.]
[Pageheading: THE REFORM BILL]
Queen Victoria to Lord John Russell.
WINDSOR CASTLE, 21st January 1854.
The Queen has received Lord John Russell's letter of the 19th, and the Bill as now agreed upon by the Cabinet, which she hopes may meet the wishes of the Country and pass into law. From what she understands the chief argument used in opposition to the measure will be, that corruption and bribery is the evil which the Country really complains of, and not an unequal distribution of the representation, and that a new distribution or even extension of the franchise will not touch the evil, and may be said perhaps in some instances to tend towards increasing it. The success of the measure will therefore, she concludes, in some degree depend upon the Bribery Bills which will accompany it. How far are these advanced? and what expectation has Lord John Russell of succeeding in framing such a measure as would remove that ground of objection to the Reform Bill?
[Footnote 8: Notwithstanding the impending war, the Government considered itself bound in honour to bring in a Reform Bill. Lord Palmerston and his special supporters were opposed to the project, but the measure was brought forward on the 13th of February. After a chequered career it was withdrawn. The Bill for the prevention of corrupt practices at elections was introduced on the 10th of February, and after many vicissitudes and several Ministerial defeats in the Commons as well as in the Lords, it was, in a modified form, carried.]
Queen Victoria to Mr Gladstone.
WINDSOR CASTLE, 7th February 1854.
The Queen must apologise for having kept the enclosed papers so long, and in now sending them back she does so without feeling sure in her mind that she could with safety sanction Mr Gladstone's new and important proposal. The change it implies will be very great in principle and irretrievable, and the Queen must say that Lord John Russell's apprehensions as to the spirit it is likely to engender amongst the future civil servants of the Crown have excited a similar feeling in her mind. Where is moreover the application of the principle of public competition to stop, if once established? and must not those offices which are to be exempted from it necessarily degrade the persons appointed to them in public estimation?
[Footnote 9: Mr Gladstone had written on the 26th of January on the subject of competitive examinations for the Civil Service; in reply to the Queen's letter, he referred to the discontent existing in the Service with the system of appointment by favour, and of promotion by seniority alone.]
[Pageheading: THE BALTIC COMMAND]
[Pageheading: SIR CHARLES NAPIER]
Sir James Graham to Queen Victoria.
ADMIRALTY, 9th February 1854.
Sir James Graham, with humble duty, begs to lay before your Majesty certain important considerations which were discussed at the Cabinet yesterday with respect to the selection of a Commander-in-Chief for the Fleet about to be appointed for Service in the Baltic....
[Footnote 10: War had not yet been declared, but the Russian Ambassador left London on the 7th of February, and Sir Hamilton Seymour was recalled from St Petersburg on the same day.]
Lord Dundonald is seventy-nine years of age; and though his energies and faculties are unbroken, and though, with his accustomed courage, he volunteers for the Service, yet, on the whole, there is reason to apprehend that he might deeply commit the Force under his command in some desperate enterprise, where the chances of success would not countervail the risk of failure and of the fatal consequences, which might ensue. Age has not abated the adventurous spirit of this gallant officer, which no authority could restrain; and being uncontrollable it might lead to most unfortunate results. The Cabinet, on the most careful review of the entire question, decided that the appointment of Lord Dundonald was not expedient....
[Footnote 11: This was the Lord Cochrane who had been unjustly convicted in 1814, under the direction of Lord Ellenborough, Chief Justice, of conspiracy to defraud. His naval honours were restored to him in 1832. He is said to have stipulated, on this occasion, that he should be allowed to destroy Cronstadt by a chemical process invented by himself.]
Sir Charles Napier is an excellent seaman, and combines boldness with discretion. He has served in large squadrons, and he has commanded them. As a Second, he may not have been submissive; as a Chief, he has been successful in command. His appointment will give confidence both to officers and men; and his name is not unknown both to enemies and allies. If he has the faults of his family, he is not without their virtues; courage, genius, love of country are not wanting; and the weighty responsibilities of high command, without oppressing him, would give steadiness to his demeanour.
He behaved ill to Lord John Russell and to Sir Francis Baring; and on shore he has given just cause of complaint; but at sea and in command he is a different person; and Lord John Russell in the Cabinet yesterday, regardless of all former displeasure, pronounced an opinion favourable to the appointment of Sir Charles Napier. Lord Aberdeen, also, together with the entire Cabinet, came to the same conclusion; and Sir James Graham on their behalf, and in concurrence with his own opinion, ventures to ask the permission of your Majesty to appoint Sir Charles Napier to this important Naval command.
The above is humbly submitted by your Majesty's dutiful Subject and Servant,
J. R. G. GRAHAM.
[Footnote 12: He had had a long naval career. In 1833 he commanded the Portuguese Fleet for Donna Maria, and won a small engagement against Dom Miguel. He was "not submissive" at Beyrout, where, having command of the land forces, and being told to retire and hand over the command, he advanced and won a victory, resulting in the evacuation of the city. He also disobeyed orders at Acre.]
[Footnote 13: The inadequate results of an appointment which promised so well are described in Parker's Sir James Graham, vol. ii. pp. 229 et seq.]
Queen Victoria to Mr Gladstone.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 17th February 1854.
The Queen has received Mr Gladstone's letter and memorandum, and had heard from the Prince the further explanation of the grounds upon which he, Mr Gladstone, thinks the new regulations respecting the Civil Service necessary. The Queen, although not without considerable misgivings, sanctions the proposed plan, trusting that Mr Gladstone will do what he can, in the arrangements of the details of it, to guard against the dangers, which she has pointed out in her former letter and through the Prince when he saw Mr Gladstone. A check, for instance, would be necessary upon the admission of candidates to compete for employment, securing that they should be otherwise eligible, besides the display of knowledge which they may exhibit under examination. Without this a young man might be very ineligible, and still after having been proclaimed to the world as first in ability, it would require very strong evidence of misconduct to justify his exclusion by the Government.
[Pageheading: COMPETITIVE EXAMINATIONS]
Mr Gladstone to Queen Victoria.
DOWNING STREET, 17th February 1854.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour to acknowledge your Majesty's gracious letter.
He takes blame to himself for having caused your Majesty trouble by omitting to include in his short memorandum an explanation of the phrase "qualified persons."
Experience at the universities and public schools of this country has shown that in a large majority of cases the test of open examination is also an effectual test of character; as, except in very remarkable cases, the previous industry and self-denial, which proficiency evinces, are rarely separated from general habits of virtue.
But he humbly assures your Majesty that the utmost pains will be taken to provide not only for the majority but for all cases, by the strictest enquiries of which the case will admit; and he has the most confident belief that the securities for character under the system, although they cannot be unerring, will be stronger and more trustworthy than any of which the present method of appointment is susceptible.
Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 21st February 1854.
MY DEAREST UNCLE,—... War is, I fear, quite inevitable. You will have seen that the Emperor Nicholas has not given a favourable answer to our Brother Napoleon (which I hear has disappointed him extremely, as he expected very great results from it); and the last proposals or attempts made by Buol it is to be hoped will not be accepted by Russia, for France and England could not accept them; but if Austria and Prussia go with us—as we hope they will—the War will only be a local one. Our beautiful Guards sail to-morrow. Albert inspected them yesterday. George is quite delighted to have a division....
I must now conclude, with Albert's affectionate love. Believe me always, your devoted Niece,
[Footnote 14: Austrian Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs.]
[Pageheading: THE BRITISH ARMY]
Queen Victoria to the Earl of Aberdeen.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 24th February 1854.
The Queen must write to Lord Aberdeen on a subject which at this moment appears to her of paramount importance—viz., the augmentation of the Army. The ten thousand men by which it has been ordered to be augmented can hardly be considered to have brought it up to more than an improved PEACE establishment, such as we have often had during profound peace in Europe; but even these ten thousand men are not yet obtained. We have nearly pledged ourselves to sending twenty-five thousand men to the East, and this pledge will have to be redeemed. To keep even such a force up in the field will require a strong, available reserve at home, of which we shall be quite denuded. But we are going to make war upon Russia! encouraging Austria and Prussia to do so likewise, whereby we assume a moral obligation not to leave them without assistance. We engage in a War which may assume in its course a totally different character from that of its beginning. Who can say it is impossible that our own shores may be threatened by powers now in alliance with us? We are powerless for offence or defence without a trained Army; to obtain this will require considerable time. The Queen must, therefore, urge Lord Aberdeen to consider with the Cabinet whether it will not be essential to augment the Army at once, and by at least thirty thousand men. Considerations of home policy make this also advisable; the country is eager for War at this moment, and ready to grant men and money. It will be a great facility hereafter to have obtained what is most needed at first. If the force should finally not be wanted, retrenchments may very easily be made. The Crown should at least have the power of raising the men without the necessity for further application to Parliament.
[Pageheading: THE BRITISH ULTIMATUM]
The Earl of Aberdeen to Queen Victoria.
LONDON, 26th February 1854.
Lord Aberdeen, with his humble duty, begs to inform your Majesty that another Cabinet was held to-day, in order to consider the draft of a letter which it is proposed that Lord Clarendon should address to Count Nesselrode, and in which he should summon the Russian Government to evacuate the Principalities. The messenger will be directed to wait six days for an answer, and the British Government will consider the refusal or the silence of Count Nesselrode as equivalent to a declaration of War, and proceed to act accordingly.
An assurance has been received, in general terms, of the intention of Austria to support this demand; and a telegraphic message has been sent to Vienna with a desire to know whether the Austrian Government will join in this summons, or in what manner support will be given. No answer has yet been received, and Lord Aberdeen would think it right not to make the summons until Austria has declared her intention; but the Cabinet appears to desire that the letter should be sent to-morrow evening.
The period fixed for the complete evacuation of the Principalities is the 30th of April.
As it cannot be supposed that the Emperor of Russia will listen to such a demand as this, immediate hostilities must be expected, with all their consequences.
[Footnote 15: This summons to evacuate the Principalities, and an ultimatum to a similar purport from Paris, were delivered to the Czar on the 14th of March; on their receipt the Czar intimated that he did not think it fitting (convenable) that he should make any reply. His decision was known in London on the 24th.]
[Footnote 16: The attitude of Austria caused great perplexity. Count Orloff had gone to Vienna to obtain a pledge of neutrality in the event of war, but refused to give the Emperor Francis Joseph satisfactory assurances as to the Czar's future policy, and, in particular, as to the evacuation of the Principalities at the close of the war. The Austrian Government accordingly announced its intention of acting as circumstances might dictate, but subsequently limited the assistance which it now expressed itself willing to give to England and France in insisting upon the evacuation, to diplomatic support.]
Queen Victoria to the Earl of Aberdeen.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 26th February 1854.
The Queen has received Lord Aberdeen's letter of this day.
To be able to form a judgment on the important question to which it refers, the Queen would require to be furnished with the exact terms of "the general assurance" which Austria has given with respect to it. The Queen, however, does not doubt for a moment that the gain of a day or two in making the summons to Russia could not be compared to the advantage of being able to make the summons conjointly with Austria. She must therefore wish that the answer to the telegraphic message should be awaited before the messenger is sent off.
[Pageheading: DEPARTURE OF THE GUARDS]
Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 28th February 1854.
MY DEAREST UNCLE,—... The news from Austria are quite excellent, and much more than we had any reason to expect. It will make a great difference in the nature and duration of the War. Our summons to Russia went last night via Paris, Berlin, and Vienna, and if they are received either with silence, or the Emperor refuses to evacuate the Principalities—War will be considered as declared. The French send a similar summons. The messenger is to wait six days for an answer, but no longer.
The last battalion of the Guards (Scots Fusiliers) embarked to-day. They passed through the courtyard here at seven o'clock this morning. We stood on the balcony to see them—the morning fine, the sun rising over the towers of old Westminster Abbey—and an immense crowd collected to see these fine men, and cheering them immensely as they with difficulty marched along. They formed line, presented arms, and then cheered us very heartily, and went off cheering. It was a touching and beautiful sight; many sorrowing friends were there, and one saw the shake of many a hand. My best wishes and prayers will be with them all....
Queen Victoria to the Earl of Aberdeen.
The Queen was rather annoyed at the manner in which Lord Clarendon pressed the Duke of Cambridge's going to the Tuileries last night. She thought it an immense boon upon her part to allow the Duke of Cambridge to go to Paris—and instead of its being considered as such by Lord Clarendon and Count Walewski, the Queen was told it would offend the Emperor if the Duke did not go to the Tuileries also. The Queen observed that it was unnecessary and unusual for the Duke, or any Prince almost, to live at the Palace of the Sovereign, unless he was a very particular friend or near relation. The Duke of Genoa had refused going there, though he had received other civilities here; in the same manner no Prince comes to this Palace unless he is a very near relation or particular friend. To this Lord Clarendon replied that it was "because the Emperor wished it," which rather shocked the Queen, and she spoke strongly to him upon the subject. The result was that the Queen said she would speak to the Duke of Cambridge about it, and see, as the Emperor made so great a point of it, and Lord Clarendon considered that the Alliance depended upon it, what he would do....
The Queen must and will protest, for she cannot mix up personal friendship with a political Alliance. The former is the result of the experience of years of mutual friendship, and cannot be carried by storm....
There would be nothing unusual in apartments being offered to the Duke of Cambridge, and declined by him. This was done by the King of the Belgians only last summer at Berlin and Vienna, without anybody's construing it into an affront. The Queen adds a list of the Royal personages who have been in England and never resided at the Palace. Lord Aberdeen may show this letter to Lord Clarendon.
[Footnote 17: The Duke was going to the Crimea, and it was arranged that he should stop at Paris on the way.]
[Pageheading: STABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT]
Queen Victoria to Lord John Russell.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 1st March 1854.
The Queen has to acknowledge Lord John Russell's letter of this morning. Much as she must regret the postponement of the second reading of the Reform Bill, she must admit its wisdom under the present peculiar circumstances; but she doubts the advantage of naming a precise day after Easter on which it is to come on. Considering the importance to the country of preserving the present Government and of not allowing it to be beat on so vital a question, the opportunity should not be lost of ascertaining the state of feeling both in the House of Commons and in the country after the reassembling of Parliament, before the Government decide on entering upon the struggle which the carrying through of the measure might entail. It is quite impossible now to conjecture with certainty what that state of feeling and the general political circumstances at home and abroad may be at that time. Possibly the country may be more eager then for the measure—or the War may disincline it altogether towards it.
The Queen seizes this opportunity of expressing her sense of the imperative importance of the Cabinet being united and of one mind at this moment, and not to let it appear that there are differences of opinion within it. The knowledge that there are such is a cause of GREAT anxiety to the Queen, at a time when she is to enter upon a European War, of which nobody can confidently predict the extent.
[Footnote 18: See the Queen's letter of the 4th of March, post.]
Queen Victoria to the Earl of Aberdeen.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 2nd February (? March) 1854.
In returning these letters to Lord Aberdeen the Queen must express to him that there are hints in them which give her great uneasiness. The stability of this Government is not only of paramount importance at the commencement of the War, but throughout it; the moment for negotiation may arrive much sooner than we now expect—and then, more than now even, the Government ought to be composed of the ablest and most moderate men which this Country can produce.
Queen Victoria to Lord John Russell.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 4th March 1854.
The Queen thanks Lord John Russell for his letter received this morning. She has read the proceedings in the House of Commons with much interest. She was particularly pleased with Lord John's second speech, in which he affirmed the principle that public men ought not to oppose the regard for personal honour or reputation to the well-understood interests of the Country. Indeed, the Queen cannot conceive the possibility of their collision, as an exclusive regard for the well-understood interests of the Country must always redound to the honour and reputation of a Statesman.
[Footnote 19: Lord John Russell had announced the decision of the Government to postpone till the 27th of April the second reading of the Reform Bill, and, in reply to some sarcastic comments from Mr Disraeli, stated that he would be ashamed of himself if he preferred anything connected with his own personal reputation to the interest of the country. He added that the security of the country depended upon its confidence in the character of public men.]
[Pageheading: THE BALTIC FLEET]
Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.
OSBORNE, 14th March 1854.
MY DEAREST UNCLE,—Your kind letter of the 9th arrived here on Saturday just when we returned from a splendid and never-to-be-forgotten sight— the sailing of our noble Fleet for the Baltic; the Navy and Nation were particularly pleased at my leading them out, as they call it, which in fact was the case, as, in our little Fairy we went on and lay to, to see them all come out, which (the wind being fair) they did, with sails set, each passing us close by, and giving us three hearty cheers, as I think none but British tars can give. Gloriously they bore along, followed by the prayers and good wishes of all. You should read the account in yesterday's Times. Another sailing squadron goes to-morrow. The Captains and Admirals all took leave on board, and seemed much impressed with the solemnity of the moment.... Ever your truly devoted Niece,
[Footnote 20: The Fleet, under Sir Charles Napier, had been assembled at Spithead.]
[Pageheading: THE KING OF PRUSSIA]
[Pageheading: PRUSSIAN NEUTRALITY]
[Pageheading: WAR DECLARED]
Queen Victoria to the King of Prussia.
OSBORNE, 17th March 1854.
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER,—General Count von der Groeben has brought me the official letter of your Majesty, as well as the confidential one, and I send your kind messenger back, with these two answers to you. He will be able to tell you, orally, what I can express only imperfectly in writing, how deep my pain is, after our going so far, faithfully, hand in hand, to see you, at this weighty moment, separating yourself from us. My pain is still further increased by the fact that I cannot even conceive the grounds which move your Majesty to take this step.
[Footnote 21: The Prussian Court considered itself under no obligation to engage in the impending struggle, till its own interests became directly involved; it would not (said Baron Manteuffel, President of the Ministry, on the 18th of March) take part, for the protection of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, "in a conflict, the full scope of which cannot yet be apprehended, and the original subject matter of which does not affect the interests of our fatherland."]
The most recent Russian proposals came as an answer to the last attempt for an understanding which the Powers believed could be arrived at honourably, and they have been rejected by the Vienna Conference, not because they were not in accordance with the literal wording of the programme, but because they were contrary to the intention of it. Your Majesty's Ambassador has taken part in this Conference and its decision, and when your Majesty now says: "The task of Diplomacy ceases at the exact point where that of the Sovereigns emphatically begins"; I am unable to assent to such a definition. For what my Ambassador does, he does in my name, and I feel myself not only bound in honour thereby, but also placed under an obligation to take upon myself the consequences which the step which he is directed to take may lead to.
The dreadful and incalculable consequences of a War weigh upon my heart not less than on your Majesty's. I also know that the Emperor of Russia does not wish for it. He, none the less, demands from the Porte things which all the Powers of Europe—among them, yourself—have solemnly declared to be incompatible with the independence of the Porte, and the European balance of power. In view of this declaration and of the presence of the Russian Army of invasion in the Principalities, the Powers could not but be ready to confirm their word by action. If "the Turk" now goes into the background, and if the approaching War appears to you as a "War of tendency" this is the case only because the very motives which may induce the Emperor to insist on his demands—in defiance of the opposition of the whole of Europe, and with the danger of a War that may devastate the world, do betray a distinct tendency, and because the grave consequences of the War must appear much more momentous than the original ostensible cause of it, which at first appeared only as the request for a key to the back door of a mosque.
Your Majesty asks me "to examine the question in a spirit of love for peace, and even now to build a bridge for the Imperial honour." Ah, my dear Sir and Brother, all the inventive gifts, all the architecture of diplomacy and of goodwill, have been uselessly wasted during these last nine months in this bridge-building! The Projets de Notes, de Conventions, de Protocoles, etc., etc., have proceeded, by the dozen, from the Chancelleries of the different Powers, and one might call the ink wasted on them another Black Sea. But everything has been shipwrecked against the self-will of your honourable brother-in-law.
If now your Majesty informs me "that now you mean to persist in complete neutrality," and if, on this occasion, you refer us to your Nation, who are said to exclaim with sound common sense: "Acts of violence have been done by the Turks, the Turk has good friends in large numbers, and the Emperor has done us no harm"—I do not understand you. Certainly I should understand this language if I heard it from the Kings of Hanover or of Saxony. But I have, hitherto, looked upon Prussia as one of the Great Powers which, since the peace of 1815, have been guarantors of treaties, guardians of civilisation, defenders of the right, the real arbiters of the Nations; and for my part I have felt the divine responsibility of this sacred office, without undervaluing at the same time the heavy obligation, not unconnected with danger, which it imposes on me. If you, dear Sir and Brother, abdicate these obligations, you have also abdicated that position for Prussia. And should such an example find imitators, then the civilisation of Europe would be delivered up to the play of winds; right will then no longer find a champion, the oppressed will find no longer an umpire.
Let not your Majesty believe that what has been said in this letter is aimed at persuading you to change your resolves; it flows from the affectionate heart of a sister, who could not pardon herself, were she not, at so weighty a moment, to let you see into her inmost soul. So little is it my intention to desire to win you over to our view, that nothing has grieved me more than the suspicion, expressed in your name by General von der Groeben, that England had desired to seduce you from your purpose by opening a prospect of advantages to be gained. The baselessness of such a supposition is evident from the Treaty itself which had been offered to you, and whose most important clause consisted in the promise of the contracting parties, not to desire in any case to derive from the War any advantage for themselves.
Your Majesty could not have given a more powerful proof of your unselfishness than by the very fact of attaching your signature to this Treaty.
To come to a close. You suppose that War may already have been declared; you express, however, at the same time, the hope that it may not already have actually broken out. I cannot unfortunately hold out any hope that the sentence will be followed by any stay of execution. Shakespeare's words:
"Beware Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in, Bear it that the opposer may beware of thee,"
are deeply engraved on the hearts of all Englishmen. Sad that they are to find an application at this crisis, in a nation with whom previously nothing prevailed but friendship and affection! And how much more melancholy must be the present emotions of your Majesty's heart and mind to see such words applied to a beloved brother-in-law, whom yet—however much you love him—your conscience cannot absolve from the crime of having brought upon the world wilfully and frivolously such awful misery!
May the Almighty take you under His protection!
With Albert's most cordial compliments, and our united greetings to the dear Queen, I remain, my much honoured Sir and Brother, your Majesty's faithful Sister and Friend,
[Footnote 22: The King afterwards agreed to the proposed protocol for the preservation of the integrity of Turkey, which was signed at Vienna on the 7th of April.]
Queen Victoria to the Earl of Aberdeen.
1st April 1854.
The Queen rejoices to see the Debate was favourable in the House of Lords, and that it was concluded in the House of Commons.
She is rather startled at seeing Lord Aberdeen's answer to Lord Roden upon the subject of a day of humiliation, as he has never mentioned the subject to her, and it is one upon which she feels strongly. The only thing the Queen ever heard about it was from the Duke of Newcastle, who suggested the possibility of an appropriate prayer being introduced into the Liturgy, in which the Queen quite agreed; but he was strongly against a day of humiliation, in which the Queen also entirely agreed, as she thinks we have recourse to them far too often, and they thereby lose their effect. The Queen therefore hopes that this will be reconsidered carefully, and a prayer substituted for the day of humiliation. Were the services selected for these days of a different kind to what they are—the Queen would feel less strongly about it; but they always select chapters from the Old Testament and Psalms which are so totally inapplicable that it does away with all the effect it ought to have. Moreover, really to say (as we probably should) that the great sinfulness of the nation has brought about this War, when it is the selfishness and ambition of one man and his servants who have brought this about, while our conduct has been throughout actuated by unselfishness and honesty, would be too manifestly repulsive to the feelings of every one, and would be a mere act of hypocrisy. Let there be a prayer expressive of our great thankfulness for the benefits we have enjoyed, and for the immense prosperity of this country, and entreating God's help and protection in the coming struggle. In this the Queen would join heart and soul. If there is to be a day set apart, let it be for prayer in this sense.
[Footnote 23: On the 27th of March the Queen announced to Parliament that the negotiations with the Czar had terminated, and that she felt bound "to afford active assistance to her ally, the Sultan." Next day the Declaration of War was issued, containing a narrative of the events which finally led to the rupture. The debates on the Address in answer to the message took place on the 31st of March, Mr Bright, in the Commons, censuring the declaration, and being replied to by Lord Palmerston. The addresses were presented to the Queen on the 3rd of April.]
[Pageheading: THE REFORM QUESTION]
Queen Victoria to Lord John Russell.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 9th April 1854.
The Queen is anxious to express to Lord John Russell the extreme satisfaction she experiences at the communication Lord Aberdeen yesterday evening made her of the settlement of the Reform Question, viz., of its postponement for the present Session, with the understanding that it is to be brought forward again whenever the state of affairs will admit of its being fairly and calmly considered by Parliament. The sacrifice of personal feeling which no doubt this may cost Lord John will, she is certain, be amply compensated by the conviction that he has done so for the interest and tranquillity of his Sovereign and Country, to whom a dissolution of the present Government would have been a source of immense danger and evil.
[Footnote 24: From a memorandum, made by Prince Albert, of interviews with Lord Aberdeen, it appears that before the Cabinet of the 8th of April Lord Palmerston declared that under neither present nor any future conditions could he vote for the second reading of the Reform Bill. Lord John thereupon tendered his resignation; this Lord Aberdeen asked him to suspend until after the meeting of the Cabinet.]
[Pageheading: DISSENSION IN THE CABINET]
[Pageheading: LORD JOHN RUSSELL]
Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.
PEMBROKE LODGE, 9th April 1854.
Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty; he cannot think it consistent with fairness to conceal from your Majesty the deep feelings of mortification which affect him on reviewing the proceedings of the Cabinet yesterday.
Lord Aberdeen was the only person who behaved with due regard to the honour of the Administration. The rest appeared ready to sacrifice everything in order to keep the Ministry together; and Lord John Russell feels bound to warn your Majesty that, although he was quite willing to waive the consideration of the Reform Bill for the present Session, he is not ready to consent that it shall be entirely set aside in order to keep together a Ministry whose continuance would be dearly bought at the price of the welfare of the Country, and the consistency of public men. Lord John Russell must reflect further on this subject before he comes to a final determination.
[Footnote 25: Lord John Russell's actions at this period of his career seem often incomprehensible; but his private domestic anxieties seem to have weighed him down. Having made the great sacrifice, for an ex-Premier, of taking office under an old opponent, he was now engaged in trying to regain the first place for himself. Lord Aberdeen had always contemplated retiring in his favour, but would not give up the Premiership in the face of the dangers threatening the country. Moreover, he had believed his continuance in office to be a guarantee for peace. Lord John Russell, after accepting the Foreign Office, had then insisted on being a Minister without office; later still, by displacing Mr Strutt and transferring Lord Granville to the Duchy, he himself became Lord President of the Council, an office which no commoner had held since the reign of Henry VIII. By such action, coupled with perpetual threats of resignation, he marred his prospects of succeeding Lord Aberdeen, and, as will be seen, failed in his attempt to construct an Administration when the opportunity was offered him.]
Queen Victoria to Lord John Russell.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 10th April 1854.
The Queen received Lord John Russell's letter last night. She is much grieved that he should be "affected by deep feelings of mortification on reviewing the proceedings of the Cabinet." From all the Queen had heard of the views of the different members of the Cabinet, she believes them to have been fully convinced that the present moment would be inopportune to press the Reform Bill, but quite prepared to take it up again on the first fitting opportunity; she, of course, does not speak of Lord Palmerston.
The Queen would, no more than Lord John, wish to see "the Reform Bill set aside in order to keep together a Ministry," but does not consider the decision of the Cabinet at all to imply this, whatever Lord Palmerston's personal wishes may be, and trusts that the Country will fully understand and appreciate the motives which have guided the Government. Lord Aberdeen and Lord John will always receive every support from the Queen when they shall think it right to propose the re-introduction of the measure.
[Pageheading: LORD JOHN RUSSELL]
Memorandum by the Prince Albert.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 10th April 1854.
Lord Aberdeen has just left the Queen, after an interview which he had had with Sir James Graham and Lord John Russell at Lord John's request. He reported that at that interview Lord John renewed his complaint of the Cabinet, declared that he could not state to the House what was untrue, and must therefore resign. Lord Aberdeen called this "really too monstrous" after the pledge given by the Sovereign, himself as Prime Minister, and the whole Cabinet, with the exception of one man, and he would repeat his promise that whenever Lord John said, "The Reform Bill is to come on," and Lord Palmerston opposed it, he should go.
Lord John could not be appeased, but spoke with the greatest bitterness. He had written to Lord Palmerston in the same sense; and Lord Palmerston's answer arrived during the interview. It was to the effect that if one of them was to resign, it was not Lord John, who agreed with the rest of the Cabinet upon the Bill, but himself, who was the dissentient. Lord Aberdeen asked Lord John whether Lord Palmerston's resignation would satisfy him; to which he answered, he believed it would not mend matters. Lord Aberdeen's opinion, however, is that it is what Lord John, and still more what Lady John, wants. He thinks the Country will never understand how the Government could break up, and that Lord John is cutting his own throat, and told him so. If Lord John went, he could not go on with Lord Palmerston as Leader of the House of Commons, which he called "perfectly ludicrous." Lord Palmerston would probably insist upon this, however; Lord Palmerston's retirement would be a great blow to the Government, as the Country persisted in thinking him the only able War Minister, and would cry out at "the imbecile old Head of the Government having it now all his own way." He thought, should he not be able to go on, new combinations could be formed, perhaps under the Duke of Newcastle and Mr Gladstone, as the Country liked younger men. Lord John must give his answer in the House of Commons to-morrow at half-past four. Lord Aberdeen would wish to see the Duke of Newcastle, Sir James Graham, and Mr Gladstone, as his more particular friends, this evening, to discuss the whole question with them, and would see Lord Palmerston and Lord John to-morrow, before he could make any report to the Queen.
This is all really very bad!
Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.
CHESHAM PLACE, 11th April 1854.
Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty; he has the honour to acknowledge, with gratitude, your Majesty's communication of yesterday. Lord John Russell waited to see Lord Aberdeen before he answered, and having now had a long conversation with him, Lord John Russell being assured of your Majesty's support, of Lord Aberdeen's concurrence, and of the assent of the majority of his colleagues, is willing to continue his humble services in the Cabinet, and in the House of Commons.
Lord John Russell must ask your Majesty to excuse what may have seemed intemperate in his letter of Sunday last. He is still of opinion that without public confidence in his integrity and uprightness he can be of no use to your Majesty, or to the Country.
And on that confidence must depend the continuance of his services.
[Footnote 26: On the same day Lord John announced in the Commons the withdrawal of the Reform Bill. He admitted that this course would expose him to the taunts and sarcasms of his opponents, and to the suspicions of his supporters. Here "his feelings overcame him, and, as he used the word 'suspicion' in reference to his motive, his utterance was choked, and the sentence he struggled to pronounce was evidently given through tears." (Ann. Reg., 1854, p. 120.) Loud and sympathetic cheers followed from all parts of the House.]
Memorandum by the Prince Albert.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 11th April 1854.
We saw Lord Aberdeen at three o'clock to-day, who reported to the Queen that the change of mind of Lord John had been the result of an hour and a half's discussion with him this morning. He must admit, however, that he found Lord John in a mood willing to let himself be convinced. The Queen's letter might have contributed to this as well as the entreaties of the Duke of Bedford and Lord Lansdowne. Lord Aberdeen could tell Lord John in truth that there was not a shadow of difference of opinion amongst any of his friends, that he would lose himself for ever, and meet with universal reprobation, if he persisted in resigning after every cause for it had been removed, and he had agreed to the course Lord Palmerston had insisted upon. Lord Palmerston had written a very clever letter to Lord John, begging him not to desert the Queen and the Country, which, if he read it to the House of Commons, would floor Lord John completely.
We asked what had been agreed upon at yesterday evening's meeting. Lord Aberdeen told us the decision, under the impression that Lord John would resign, had been for Lord Aberdeen to call upon Lord Palmerston, and to explain to him that although he had acted cordially with him as a Colleague in this Government, yet they had been political antagonists during their whole lives—the Government also was still a Reform Government; from personal, therefore, as well as public, reasons it was impossible that he should be entrusted with the lead of the House of Commons, being the only anti-Reformer. And it was hoped that he would have no difficulty in letting Mr Gladstone lead the House, as Sir James Graham was the same age and political standing with Lord Palmerston, but at once cheerfully contented to waive all his claims in favour of Mr Gladstone.
[Pageheading: THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE]
[Pageheading: THE EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA]
The Duke of Cambridge to Queen Victoria.
VIENNA, 28th April 1854.
MY DEAR COUSIN,—Before leaving this place I think it right that I should once more trouble you with a letter, to inform you that the messenger has arrived who brought your autograph letter for the Emperor, which I presented to him to-day at an audience I had for this purpose.... I had a very long and most interesting conversation with the Emperor, who opened frankly and fairly upon the great questions of the day. The impression he made upon me was an excellent one, his confidence and frankness are complete, and I have the firm conviction that he is a man of his word, and that he never would say a thing that he did not in his heart mean. The result of what he said was the following: that he naturally was most distressed at all that had occurred; that he was placed by the Emperor of Russia in a most difficult position; that he quite disapproved his acts; but that he could not but have a great disinclination to break with a very old ally; and that even still he hoped this painful step might be spared to him by the Emperor of Russia making some proposal so honourable to all parties, that it would not be rejected by the Western Powers, who would naturally not be disinclined to a peace, honourable to themselves and tranquillising for the future; that the basis of such treaty would be the position of the Christian population of the East; that this might be discussed in Conference, the Russians having first evacuated the Principalities, upon which the Turks would hold the right bank of the Danube, our Fleets to await events in the Bosphorus, and our armies at Constantinople, such position being highly honourable and advantageous to us in the eyes of Europe, and certainly not nearly so favourable to Russia; that he was certainly sensible that the English Government had not pressed him, feeling as they had done the extreme delicacy of his position, and the great extent of his frontier so easily attacked; that he did not wish to say now, till the moment of decision came, thinking it more honourable and straightforward not to raise false expectations, but that his interests being so completely with us, should the Emperor of Russia do nothing in the honourable direction he hoped to see him adopt, he should then consider himself called upon to express frankly to us what he proposed to do, in order that our action might become united and of advantage to one another. He further thought that the treaty with Prussia would greatly facilitate all this, as Prussia had acceded to the wishes of Austria in the event of certain eventualities, which, however, for the moment are not named, but which, as far as I understand, go to the length of leaving Austria unfettered to act as she likes at the moment when she considers her so doing essential to her position as a young Empire. It is quite evident to me that this is the general feeling here, amongst all those who have any weight in the councils of the Empire. These are Austrian views, and I must say I can understand them and appreciate them as such. I am confident, I am certain, they are honest on the part of the Emperor, and I doubt not he will carry them through to the letter, for I am confident the Emperor never would say what he did not mean. Rely upon it, this Country will never go with Russia; she knows her interests too well for that; she would like to avoid a War altogether if she could, and with that view she would be delighted to see some honourable and acceptable proposal made, but should this fail she will then take a very decided line, and that line will be in accordance with Austrian interests—which means with us. I find that most of the more prudent people, and many of those in high office, are fully alive to the advantages of the English alliance, and would wish to see this alliance confirmed de novo; and I think it would be very well for us to meet them half-way with this. But then it would be better to avoid all after-dinner speeches such as those at the Reform Club, all Polish legions such as are talked of, and in short any of these little matters, which are painfully felt here, and which always produce an uncomfortable and distrustful effect. The Emperor expressed himself in the most grateful manner towards yourself, and I think is pleased at your having permitted me to be present on this occasion.... Hoping that you will approve of my humble endeavours here, and with sincere regards to Albert, I beg to remain, my dear Cousin, your most dutiful Cousin,
[Footnote 27: The English forces destined for the East were under the command of Lord Raglan (formerly Lord Fitzroy Somerset). The Duke of Cambridge commanded one infantry division, the other three being respectively under Sir George Brown, Sir De Lacy Evans, and Sir Richard England; the cavalry division was commanded by the Earl of Lucan, General Scarlett commanding the heavy cavalry, and Lord Cardigan the Light Brigade.]
[Footnote 28: At a dinner given on the 7th of March by the Reform Club to Sir Charles Napier, Lord Palmerston, who was in the chair, and Sir James Graham, had made provocative and unbecoming speeches; on attention being called in Parliament to the proceedings, Mr Bright complained of the reckless levity displayed; Lord Palmerston made a flippant and undignified defence, the tone of which was much resented.]
[Pageheading: BOMBARDMENT OF ODESSA]
Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 9th May 1854.
MY DEAREST UNCLE,—Accept my best thanks for your kind letter of the 5th. I return you the Emperor's kind letter. Nothing could be more satisfactory than the reception George met with by everybody at Vienna—beginning with the Emperor. They showed him much confidence, and he obtained from them intelligence which I think no one else would. The Fleets have done their duty admirably at Odessa; the town has not been touched, and all the fortifications and many ships have been destroyed....
We had a concert last night, and I saw good Sir H. Seymour, who is full of your kindness and goodness; and a most worthy, honourable and courageous little man he is. If the poor Emperor Nicholas had had a few such—nous ne serions pas ou nous en sommes. But unfortunately the Emperor does not like being told what is unpleasant and contrary to his wishes, and gets very violent when he hears the real truth—which consequently is not told him! There is the misery of being violent and passionate; if Princes and still more Kings and Emperors are so, no one will ever tell them the truth, and how dreadful that is! I think one never can be too careful in bringing up Princes to inculcate the principle of self-control.
We have a good deal of rain and thunder since yesterday, which I hope will revive poor parched Nature. I must now wish you good-bye, as I expect dear Victoire shortly. Nemours intends going to fetch the Queen. With Albert's love, ever your devoted Niece,
[Footnote 29: In consequence of the Russians firing upon a flag of truce, Odessa was bombarded on the 22nd of April, and most of its batteries silenced or destroyed.]
[Footnote 30: The conversations of Sir Hamilton Seymour and the Emperor Nicholas in the year 1853 had now been given to the world. The Czar, believing the time ripe for the dismemberment of Turkey, had expressed himself openly to the British Ambassador, and the conversations were all reported to the British Ministry. On the 2nd of March 1854, an obviously inspired article in the Journal de St. Petersbourg professed to contradict the statements of Lord John Russell in the House of Commons reflecting on the bad faith of the Russian Government, and accordingly, in their own vindication, the English Cabinet now published the conversations above referred to.]
[Pageheading: THE SULTAN]
[Pageheading: THE BRITISH FORCES]
The Duke of Cambridge to Queen Victoria.
CONSTANTINOPLE, 13th May 1854.
MY DEAR COUSIN,—I have not as yet announced to you my safe arrival here, as I was anxious first to see the Sultan and the general state of things before giving you a report of what was really going on....
I found a great proportion of the Infantry arrived, a portion of the Artillery, but as yet no Cavalry. Lord Raglan is well and in good spirits, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe ill in bed with a bad fit of the gout—most miserable to see in every respect. The Sultan received me at once on the day of arrival, and made his return visit to me yesterday. I confess I was not much impressed with either his appearance or general ability. He is, to say the truth, a wretched creature, prematurely aged, and having nothing whatever to say for himself. A few commonplace civilities was all the conversation which passed between us. I said everything I could think of to make a conversation, among other things messages of civility from yourself; but though he appeared pleased and expressed his satisfaction at our being here, I could not get him to enter into anything, and I was not sorry on both occasions when our interview was at an end. As to his Ministers, and in fact the whole population and country, with the exception of Redschid Pasha, they are all a most wretched and miserable set of people, and far, far worse than anything I could possibly have imagined or supposed. In fact, the "sick man" is excessively sick indeed, dying as fast as possible; and the sooner diplomacy disposes of him the better, for no earthly power can save him, that is very evident. This is the opinion of every person out here of both armies, French and English, and you may rest assured it is the truth. The great thing is that we are here and no other Power can now step in, but diplomacy must settle what is to happen, for as to the Turks remaining in Europe that is out of the question, and the very fact of our being here now has given them their death-blow. I hope, my dear cousin, you will forgive me for being very candid on this point, but I really do not think that anybody in England had any idea of the real state of affairs here. The sooner therefore that they are put in possession of the truth unvarnished the better. The great and imperative necessity is that the four Powers of Europe should strike together, otherwise things will become much worse than they are even at present. Everybody is very civil and obliging to me, the Sultan has put me into one of his best Palaces, very nicely fitted up, and is anxious to do everything I wish. I find it inconvenient, as the troops are on the other side of the Bosphorus, and I therefore intend going over there to reside if possible. Marshal St Arnaud is here and Prince Napoleon, but no French troops. I have seen the latter once; he was very civil indeed to me, but I do not think he has made at all a good impression here, his manner being offensive and harsh. I do not think the Army like him at all. I am afraid the French Ambassador is giving much trouble. Neither St Arnaud nor the Prince like him at all, and I believe they have written to demand his recall, which would be a very good thing, as he cannot hit it off with anybody. As to our movements, I know nothing of them as yet, nor do I think that much has as yet been settled, but I fear we shall not be fit to move for some time; the difficulty of transport is very great, our Artillery only partly arrived, and no Cavalry. We require more troops, more particularly of the latter arm, in which the Russians are very strong. We ought to have at least 10,000 men more, and the sooner they are sent out the better. Even that number is not enough, for the French talk of 100,000 men, and we should be in a most dreadful minority unless we had 40,000 to 50,000. I am afraid all this will alarm people in England, but it is the truth.... I remain, my dear Cousin, your most dutiful Cousin,
We never hear any news here. All that does come to us generally comes by way of Europe; another proof of what a miserable country this is.
[Footnote 31: Abdul Medjid, born 1823, who had succeeded to the throne at the time of the Syrian War; see ante, vol. i., 19th August, 1839, note 54.]
[Footnote 32: Minister of Foreign Affairs, born 1802, died 1858.]
[Pageheading: THE KING OF PRUSSIA]
The King of Prussia to Queen Victoria.
SANS SOUCI, 24th May 1854.
MOST GRACIOUS QUEEN,—... My policy, which has been so terribly criticised and derided as "vacillating," has been, since the beginning of this most inauspicious conflict, one and the same, and without a hairsbreadth of deviation either to the right or to the left. As it rests on the unshakable foundation which my conscience as a King and a Christian has laid down, and which does not admit que je fasse la besogne ni de l'un ni de l'autre parti, I am abused and insulted at the Winter Palace, and regarded, by way of contrast in London and Paris, as a kind of simpleton—neither of which is pleasant.
May your Majesty believe my Royal Word: I was, I am, I remain the truest and most faithful friend of Great Britain, as well in principle as from religious feeling and from true affection. I desire and practise a good and honest understanding with France; but when it comes to helping the French—to whom Prussia's geographical position between Paris and Warsaw is very inconvenient—to pull the chestnuts from the fire for them, for such a task I am frankly too good. If the Emperor wishes to force me to assist—as evidently he is inclined to do—it will end by becoming too difficult for him. He ought to thank God that my view of Russian policy and my fidelity to your Majesty have prevented me from making him begin this Turkish War on the other side of his own frontier. The great advantage of this result is totally forgotten in France, and, unfortunately, in England too. Those who every day fill the papers of home and foreign countries with accounts of my vacillations, nay, who represent me as leaping from my own horse on to a Russian one, are inventing lies, in a great measure, deliberately. I tell your Majesty, on my honour and conscience, that my policy is to-day the same as it was nine months ago. I have recognised it as my duty before God to preserve, for my people and my provinces, peace, because I recognise Peace as a blessing and War as a curse. I cannot and will not side with Russia, because Russia's arrogance and wickedness have caused this horrible trouble, and because duty and conscience and tradition forbid me to draw the sword against Old England. In the same degree duty and conscience forbid me to make unprovoked war against Russia, because Russia, so far, has done me no harm. So I thought, so I willed when I thought myself isolated. How then could I now suddenly abandon a steady policy, preserved in the face of many dangers, and incline to Russia at the moment when I have concluded with Austria an Alliance defensive and offensive, in which (if God grant His blessing) the whole of Germany will join in a few days, thus welding, for the entire duration of the War, the whole of Central Europe into a Unity, comprising 72,000,000 people, and easily able to put 1,000,000 men into the field? And yet, most gracious Queen, I do not take up a defiant position on the strength of this enormous power, but I trust in the Lord's help and my own sacred Right; I also believe, honestly and firmly, that the character of a so-called Great Power must justify itself, not by swimming with the current, but by standing firm like a rock in the sea.
I close this letter which, in consequence of various interruptions, is almost a week old, on the 24th of May. This is your birthday, ever dearest, most gracious Queen. On this day I lay at your Majesty's feet the expression of my wishes for every blessing. May God grant your Majesty a joyful day, and a richly blessed year of rule. May He strengthen, preserve, and invigorate your precious health, and may He give you, within the three hundred and sixty-five days of the year of your life which begins to-day, that one day of overabundant blessing, of unspeakable joy, for which I long, for which I pray to God—that blissful day on which you can utter the word PEACE.
Now I beg your Majesty from the bottom of my heart not to be angry with me for my unconscionably long letter, nor to worry yourself about sending an answer, but, on the other hand, graciously to keep it secret, communicating it only to the dear Prince. It is a matter of course that the facts which it contains, and the resulting explanations, which may be of importance for your Majesty's Government, must, from their nature, no longer be kept secret, so soon as you think it right to announce them. I embrace the dear Prince tenderly, and commend myself to the grace, goodwill, and friendship of my august Royal Sister, I being your Majesty's most faithfully devoted, most attached Servant and Good Brother,