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liberal-minded, and broad-minded man, and he was, as we have learned from the testimony of Bismarck and Lord Cowley, very favourable to the Poles and to their aspirations. He intended to give the Poles a full measure of self-government, and he entrusted an eminent Pole, Count Wielopolski, an old revolutionary of 1830, with that difficult task. Wielopolski, though probably well meaning, was tactless, rash, and inclined to violence. Some of his measures had caused dissatisfaction among the Poles and had led to riots. Wielopolski resolved to rid himself of his opponents, who were chiefly young hot-headed enthusiasts, by enrolling them in the army, and sending them for a long number of years to Siberia and the Caucasus. By his orders numerous young men, belonging to good families, were to be arrested in their beds by soldiers during the night of January 1, 1863. In the words of Lord Napier, the British Ambassador in Petrograd, 'the opposition was to be kidnapped.' That foolish and arbitrary step led to a widespread revolt and a prolonged but hopeless struggle between Polish guerillas and Russian soldiers. Bismarck, who had unceasingly recommended a policy of reaction while he was in Petrograd, made the best use of his opportunity, and he did so all the more readily as Prince Gortchakoff was a friend not only of Poland but also of France. Foreseeing a struggle between Prussia and France, Bismarck desired to obtain Russia's goodwill, to create differences between that country and France, and to discredit the Francophile Prince Gortchakoff with the Czar. Sir A. Buchanan, the British Ambassador in Berlin, informed Lord Russell on March 21, 1863 :
Prince Hohenzollern, in speaking to me some days ago with regret of the foreign policy of the Prussian Government, said that one of its principal objects has been the overthrow of Prince Gortchakoff, whose wish to promote an alliance between France and Russia is, they believe, the only obstacle in the way of re-establishing the relations which existed between the three Northern Courts previously to the Crimean War.
Bismarck exaggerated to the Czar the scope, character, and consequences of the Polish revolt to the utmost, and while France and England expressed their sympathy with the Poles, and reproached Wielopolski for his blundering, Bismarck hastened to demonstrate his attachment to Russia and his devotion to the Czar by offering Prussia's assistance in combating the revolutionists. On January 22, 1863, the first sanguinary encounter took place. Ten days later, on February 1, General Gustav von Alvensleben was despatched by Prussia to the Czar with proposals for joint action against the Poles. Sir A. Buchanan, the British Ambassador in Berlin, telegraphed on February 12 to Earl Russell :
Insurrection in Poland extending, and numbers of Russian troops said to be insufficient for its suppression. .. Two corps of observation are forming on the frontier, and assistance, if required, will be afforded by Prussia. Bismarck says Prussia will never permit the establishment of an independent kingdom of Poland. Two days later the British Ambassador telegraphed :
General Alvensleben, who is now in Warsaw, having arrived there two days ago from St. Petersburg, has concluded a military convention with the Russian Government, according to which the two Governments will reciprocally afford facilities to each other for the suppression of the insurrectionary movements which have lately taken place in Poland.
The Prussian railways are also to be placed at the disposal of the Russian military authorities for the transport of troops through Prussian territory from one part of the kingdom of Poland to another. The Government further contemplate, in case of necessity, to give military assistance to the Russian Government for the suppression of the insurrection in the kingdom ; but I am told that no engagement has yet been entered into with respect to the nature or extent of such assistance. In the meanwhile, however, four corps of the Prussian Army are concentrating on the
frontiers under the command of General Waldersee, whose headquarters are at Posen.
To demonstrate Prussia's zeal for Russia, one third of the Prussian Army was placed at Russia's service on the Polish frontier, to help in suppressing the rising of a number of men armed chiefly with scythes and pistols.
For reasons given in these pages, Bismarck was alarmed by the possibility that the Czar might establish an independent Poland on Prussia's border. Sir A. Buchanan, the British Ambassador in Berlin, informed Earl Russell on February 14, 1863 :
M. de Bismarck, in acquainting me a few days ago with his intention to take measures in concert with the Russian Government to prevent the extension of the insurrectionary movements which have lately taken place in Poland, said the question was of vital importance to Prussia, as her own existence would be seriously compromised by the establishment of an independent kingdom of Poland. I asked whether he meant to say that if Russia found any difficulty in suppressing the insurrection, the Prussian Government intended to afford them military assistance : and he not only replied in the affirmative, but added that if Russia got tired of the contest and were disposed to withdraw from the kingdom—a course which some Russians were supposed to think advantageous to her interests—the Prussian Government would carry on the war on their own account. ...
The Emperor William the First, who at the time was only King of Prussia, frankly said to the British Ambassador, according to his telegram on February 22, 1863 :
It was equally the duty and the interest of Prussia to do everything in her power to prevent the establishment of an independent Polish kingdom, for if the Polish nation could reconstitute themselves as an independent State, the existence of Prussia would be seriously menaced, as the first efforts of the new State would be to
recover Dantzig, and if that attempt succeeded, the fatal consequences to Prussia were too evident to require him to point them out.
While Prussia, for purely selfish reasons, advocated a policy of persecution and repression towards the Poles, which would only increase their resentment to the advantage of Russia's enemies, Great Britain, following her traditional policy of disinterested detachment and wise humanity, recommended once more the adoption of a liberal policy towards the Poles in accordance with the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna. Earl Russell sent to the British Ambassador in Petrograd on March 2, 1863, the following most remarkable despatch:
My LORD,-Her Majesty's Government view with the deepest concern the state of things now existing in the kingdom of Poland. They see there, on the one side, a large mass of the population in open insurrection against the Government, and, on the other, a vast military force employed in putting that insurrection down. The natural and probable result of such a contest must be expected to be the success of the military forces. But that success,
if it is to be achieved by a series of bloody conflicts, must be attended by a lamentable effusion of blood, by a deplorable sacrifice of life, by widespread desolation, and by impoverishment and ruin, which it would take a long course of years to repair.
Moreover, the acts of violence and destruction on both sides, which are sure to accompany such a struggle, must engender mutual hatreds and resentments which will embitter, for generations to come, the relations between the Russian Government and the Polish race. Yet, however much Her Majesty's Government might lament the existence of such a miserable state of things in a foreign country, they would not, perhaps, deem it expedient to give formal expression of their sentiments were it not that there are peculiarities in the present state of things in Poland which take them out of the usual and ordinary condition of such affairs.
The kingdom of Poland was constituted and placed in connection with the Russian Empire by the Treaty of 1815, to which Great Britain was a contracting party. The present disastrous state of things is to be traced to the fact that Poland is not in the condition in which the stipulations of that Treaty require that it should be placed. Neither is Poland in the condition in which it was placed by the Emperor Alexander I, by whom that Treaty was made. During his reign a National Diet sat at Warsaw and the Poles of the kingdom of Poland enjoyed privileges fitted to secure their political welfare. Since 1832, however, a state of uneasiness and discontent has been succeeded from time to time by violent commotion and a useless effusion of blood. Her Majesty's Government are aware that the immediate cause of the present insurrection was the conscription lately enforced upon the Polish population ; but that measure itself is understood to have been levelled at the deeplyrooted discontent prevailing among the Poles in consequence of the political condition of the kingdom of Poland.
The proprietors of land and the middle classes in the towns bore that condition with impatience, and if the peasantry were not equally disaffected they gave little support or strength to the Russian Government. Great Britain, therefore, as a party to the Treaty of 1815, and as a Power deeply interested in the tranquillity of Europe, deems itself entitled to express its opinion upon the events now taking place, and is anxious to do so in the most friendly spirit towards Russia, and with a sincere desire to promote the interest of all the parties concerned. Why should not His Imperial Majesty, whose benevolence is generally and cheerfully acknowledged, put an end at once to this bloody conflict by proclaiming mercifully an immediate and unconditional amnesty to his revolted Polish subjects, and at the same time announce his intention to replace without delay his kingdom of Poland in possession of the political and civil privileges which were granted to it by the Emperor Alexander I in execution of the stipulations of the Treaty of 1815 ? If this were done a National Diet and a National Administration would in all probability content the Poles and satisfy European opinion.