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CHAP, upon Constantinople—nay, how in strict prudence -—^-^ could she march upon the Balkan whilst England and France were in full command of the Euxine? But was the Czar then simply powerless against Turkey 1 Had his million of soldiers been torn from their homes in vain \ Had he not busied himself all his days in organising armies and reviewing drilled men, and grinding down his people into the mere fractional components of an army, until the very faces of soldiers in the same battalion were brought to be similar and uniform? Had his life been utter foolishness, and was the labour of his reign so barren that he could not now make a campaign against the simple Turks, who never took pains about anything until the hour of battle \ Had he not spoken in the councils of Europe as though he were a potentate so great that the Empire of the Ottomans existed by force of his magnanimity 1 And now, had it come to this, that at the mere bidding of the "Western Powers, and without their firing a shot, he was to stand arrested in the presence of scoffing Europe like a prisoner who had delivered his sword 1 Paskie- Well, Paskievitch, in a painful, soldierly way, could
counsels, tell him what would be the least imprudent plan for attacking the inner dominions of* the Sultan. The principles of the art of war have a great stability; and although there is an infinite variety in the methods of applying them, it results that the invasion of one nation by another is repeatedly undertaken upon the same accustomed route.
By the route which Paskievitch recommended, the invader crosses the Danube in the neighbour- CHAP,
XXI hood of its great bend towards the north; makes —^-^
himself master of Silistria; encounters and overcomes the assembled strength of the Ottoman Empire in front of the great intrenched camp of Shoumla; then, advancing, forces the difficult passes of the Balkan as best he may; marches upon Adrianople; and thence on—thence on, if he can and dares—to the shore of the Bosphorus. Erivanski * could hardly have believed that his master's military power was equal to so great an undertaking as that; but if it succeeded only in some of its early stages, diplomacy might come to the rescue of the Czar, as it had done in 1829; and the plan had this in its favour, that it placed a broad tract of country between Austria and the right flank of the invading army, and another though less extended territory between its left flank and the fleets of the Western Powers.
But in the counsels of a wise and faithful soldier there is a pitiless candour—a dreadful precision. He comes in his hard way to weights, and to numbers, and to measurements of space and of time. Without mercy to the vanity of his suffering master, Paskievitch defaced the cherished form of the 'material 'guarantee,' by insisting that the Czar should cease from trying to hold the Principalities entire, and that all his forces should be quickly withdrawn from the Lesser Wallachia. This done, he promised the CHAP, Czar an invasion of the Ottoman Empire; but the
* This was Paskievitch's title: it denoted that he was the conqueror of Erivan, a province conquered from the Persians.
XXI —^-^ carrying of the enterprise beyond the valley of the
Danube was to be only upon condition that Silistria
should fall, and should fall before the 1st of May.*
Movement So now the streams of battalions rumoured to be
of troops .
in the setting in upon the Lower Danube from the confines Empire, of All the Russias woke up the mind of Europe, and portended a great invasion.
* My knowledge of the counsels tendered to the Emperor by Paskievitch is derived from papers in the possession of the late Lord Raglan.
It has been seen that •without treaty, and without CHAP.
XXII the advice or knowledge of Parliament—nay even, -—^-L,
perhaps, without a distinct conception of what it was |urgoyne doing—the English Government had been gradually *°f^^t contracting engagements which were almost equiva- ^Xthe lent to a defensive alliance with the Sultan. France, Levant. by virtue of her new understanding with England, had come under the same obligations; and now that an invasion of the Ottoman Empire was threatened, it became necessary that the Western Powers should take measures for its defence. At first, however, their views were limited to the defence of the Sultan's home territories, and especially those which gave the control of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. Two Engineer officers—Colonel Ardent on the part of France, and Sir John Burgoyne on the part of England—were despatched to Turkey, with instructions to report upon the best means of aiding the Sultan to defend his home dominions ; and almost » at the same time it was agreed between the two Western Powers that each of them should prepare to send a small body of troops into the Levant.
CHAP, The English force was collected at Malta. Of the
-—1^—1^ Ministers who joined in adopting this measure, some
S?t°to foresaw that the few battalions which they were de
Maita. spatching to the East were the nucleus of an army
which might have to operate in the field; but others
looked upon them as a force intended to support our
Tendency negotiations. This ambiguity of motive was a root
of this .
measure, of evil; for the collateral arrangements which are requisite for enabling an army to live, to move, and to fight, bear a vast proportion to the mere business of collecting the men; and there is always a danger that a body of troops, sent towards the scene of action with a diplomatic intent, will be unsupported by the measures which are requisite for actual war, and yet, upon the rupture of the negotiations, will be prematurely hurried into the field. On the other hand, the councillors of a great military State are so well accustomed to know the cost and the labour which must precede the advance of an army, that the mere protrusion of a body of well-equipped troops, unsupported by the collateral appliances of war, does not tell upon their minds as a proof of an intention to act. By despatching a few battalions to Malta, without instructing Commissaries to go to the Levant and begin buying up the agricultural wealth of the country, we not only subjected our troops to the danger of their being brought into the field before supplies were ready, ♦ but also convinced the Russians that we could not
Ministers . , ,
determine be sincerely intending to engage in a war. Morehut a small over, the slenderness of the addition which the the army. Government proposed to make to our army tended