Page images

Manifesto of Russia, against the


By the grace of God, we, Nicholas I. emperor and autocrat of all the Russias, &c. &c. The treaty of Bucharest, concluded in the year 1812 with the Ottoman Porte, after having been for six teen years the subject of reiterated disputes, now no longer subsists, in spite of all of our exertions to maintain it, and to preserve it from all attacks. The Porte, not satis. fied with having destroyed the basis of that treaty, now defies Russia, and prepares to wage against it a bellum ad internacionem; it summons its people in a mass to arms— accuses Russia of being its irreconcilable enemy, and tramples under foot the convention of Akerman, and with it that of all preceding treaties.

[ocr errors]

Lastly, the Porte does not hesitate to declare that it accepted the conditions of this peace only as a mask to conceal its intentions and its preparations for a new war. Scarcely is this remarkable confession made, when the rights of the Russian flag are violated-the vessels which it covers detainedand the cargoes made the prey of a rapacious and arbitrary government. Our subjects found themselves compelled to break their oath, or to leave without delay a hostile country. The Bosphorus is closed-our trade annihilated-our southern provinces, deprived of the only channel for the exportation of their produce, are threatened with incalculable injury. Nay more :At the moment when the negotia. tions between Russia and Persia are nearly concluded, a sudden change on the part of the Persian government checks the course of them. It soon appears that the Qttoman Porte exerts itself to make

Persia waver, by promising power. ful aid; arming in haste the troops in the adjoining provinces, and pre. paring to support, by a threatening attack, this treacherous hostile language. This is the series of inju ries of which Turkey has been guilty, from the conclusion of the treaty of Akerman up to this day, and this is unhappily the fruit of the sacrifices and the generous ex. ertions by which Russia has incessantly endeavoured to main. tain peace with a neighbouring nation.

But all patience has its limit. The honour of the Russian name— the dignity of the empire-the inviolability of its rights, and that of our national glory, have prescribed to us the bounds of it.

It is not till after having weighed in their fullest extent the duties imposed on us by imperative necessity, and inspired with the greatest confidence in the justice of our cause, that we have ordered our army to advance, under the divine protection, against an enemy who violates the most sacred obligations of the law of nations.

We are convinced that our faithful subjects will join with our prayers, the most ardent wishes for the success of our enterprise, and that they will implore the Almighty to lend his support to our brave soldiers, and to shed his divine blessing on our arms, which are destined to defend our liberty, religion, and our beloved country.

Given at St. Petersburg, the 14th (26th) April, in the year of our Lord, 1828, and the third of our reign. (Signed,) NICHOLAS. (Countersigned by the vice chancellor,)



All the wishes of Russia to remain at peace with a neighbouring nation have proved vain, notwithstanding its great patience and the most costly sacrifices: she has been obliged to confide to arms the defence of her rights in the Levant, and energetically to impress on the Ottoman Porte respect for existing treaties. It will, however, develope the imperative and just motives which impose on it the me. lancholy necessity of such a resolution. Sixteen years have passed since the peace of Bucharest, and for the same period we have seen the Porte act contrary to the stipu lations of the treaty,-evade its promises, or indefinitely delay the fulfilment of them. But too many proofs which the imperial cabinet will adduce, irrefragably prove this infatuated hostile tendency of the policy of the divan. On more than one occasion, particularly in 1821, the Porte assumed with respect to Russia a character of defiance and open hostility. For these three months past it has again assumed this character, by formal acts and measures which are known to all Europe.

On the same day that the ambassadors of the three powers, who by a convention free from all self interestedness, are united in a cause which is no other than that of religion and of suffering humanity, expressed at their departure from Constantinople an ardent wish that peace might be preserved; on the same day when they pointed out the easy means of attaining that object, and when the Porte in the same manner, most positively expressed its pacific disposition, on that same day it summoned all nations professing the Mahometan

faith to arms against Russia, denouncing it as the implacable enemy of Islamism, accusing it of a design to overthrow the Ottoman empire, and while it announces its resolution to negotiate, for the sole purpose of gaining time for arming, but never intending to fulfil the essential articles of the treaty of Akerman, it declares at the same time, that it concluded that treaty with no other design than that of breaking it; the Porte knew well that in this manner it also broke all preceding treaties, the renewal of which was expressly stipulated by that of Akerman; but it had already taken its resolutions beforehand, and regulated all its steps ac cordingly.

Scarcely had the sultan spoken with the vassals of his crown, when the privileges of the Russian flag were already violated, the ships covered by it detained, their cargoes sequestrated, the command. ers of the ships obliged to dispose of them at prices arbitrarily fixed, the amount of an incomplete and tardy payment reduced to one half, and the subjects of his majesty the emperor, compelled either to descend into the class of cayas, or to leave in body the dominions of the Ottoman government. Mean. time the trade of the Bosphorus is closed, the trade of the Black Sea hindered, the Russian towns, whose existence depend upon it, see destruction before their eyes, and the southern provinces of his majesty the emperor, lose the only channel for the exportation of their produce, and the only maritime connexion which can promote the exchange of their commodities, render their industry productive, and favour their manufactures and prosperity. Even the boundaries of Turkey did

not limit the expression of these hostile sentiments. At the same time that they were expressed at Constantinople, General Pascovich, after the conclusion of a glorious campaign, was negotiating a treaty of peace with Persia, the conditions of which were already accepted by the court of Teheran. On a sudden, lukewarmness suc. ceded to the eagerness which had hitherto been shown for the conclusion of a convention which was already approved by both parties in all its particulars. These delays were followed by difficul. ties, and then by an evidently hos. tile tendency; and while on the one hand the conduct of the neigh. bouring pachas, who hastily armed, manifested this tendency, on the other hand authentic information, and positive confessions, revealed the secret of the promise of a diversion which was to oblige us to make new efforts.

Thus the Turkish government, in its proclamations, announced its intention of breaking its treaties with Russia, while it annihilated them by its actions; thus it announced war for a remote future time; when it had already begun it in fact against the subjects and the commerce of Russia. Where war was just extinguished, it tried to rekindle it. Russia will no longer dwell on the motives which entitle it not to bear such evidently hos. tile actions. If a state could renounce its dearest interests, sacrifice its honour, and give up the transactions which are the monu. ments of its glory and the pledges of its prosperity, it would be a trai tor to itself, and by disregarding its rights become guilty of disregard. ing its duties.

Such rights and such duties ap

pear in a stronger light where they follow the most evident moderation, and the most irrefragible proofs of pacific intentions. The sacrifices which Russia, ever since the memorable epoch which overthrew at the same time military despotism, and the spirit of revolution, has imposed on itself, with a view to secure to the world a durable peace; these sacrifices, equally voluntary and numerous, inspired by the most liberal policy, are known to the world; the history of late years testifies them; and even Turkey, though little disposed duly to appreciate them, and in nowise entitled to pretend to them, has felt their favourable effects; yet it has not ceased to overlook the advantages of its stipulations with the cabinet of St. Petersburg, of the fundamental treaties of Kainurdjee, Jassy, and Bucharest, which, while they place the existence of the Porte and the integrity of its frontiers, under the protection of the law of nations, must naturally have an influence on the duration of the empire.

Scarcely was the peace of 1812 signed, when it was thought that the difficult, but eventful, circumstances in which Russia then was, might be said with impunity to redouble the violations of its engage. ments. An amnesty was promised to the Servians; instead of that an invasion took place and a dreadful massacre. The privileges of Moldavia and Wallachia were guarantied; but a system of plunder completed the ruin of those unhappy provinces. Theincursions of the tribes which inhabit the left bank of the Kuban were to be prevented by the care of the Porte; but Turkey, not contented with raising pretensions to several fortresses, ab.

solutely necessary for the security of our Asiatic possessions-pretensions, the weakness of which it had itself recognised by the convention of Akerman, made them still weaker, by favouring on the coasts of the Black Sea, and even in our vicinity, the slave trade, pillage, and disorders of all kinds. Nay, more then, as now, ships bearing the Russian flag were detained in the Bosphorus, their cargoes sequestrated, and the stipulations of the commercial treaty of 1783, openly violated. This took place at the very moment when the purest glory and victory in a sacred cause crowned the arms of his majesty the emperor Alexander, of immortal memory. Nothing hin. dered him from turning his arms against the Ottoman empire. But that monarch, a pacific conqueror, superior to every feeling of enmity, avoided even the justest occasion to punish the insults offered him, and would not again interrupt the peace restored to Europe by generous exertions and with noble intentions, immediately after it had been consolidated. His situation offered him immense advantages; he renounced them, to commence, in 1816, negotiations with the Turkish government, founded on the principle and the wish to obtain, by amicable arrangement, securities for peace, and a faithful adherence to existing treaties, as well as for the maintenance of reciprocal pacific relations; securities which the emperor's hand might have extorted from the Porte, which was not able to resist him. Such great moderation was not, however, duly appreciated. For five years together the divan was unmoved by the conciliatory overtures of the em. peror Alexander, and endea.

voured to tire out his patience, to dispute his rights, to call in question his good intentions, to defy the superiority of Russia, which saw itself bound solely by the wish of preserving the general peace, and to try its patience to the utmost.

And yet war with Turkey would not in any way have embarrassed the relations of Russia with its other allies. No convention, containing a guaranty, no positive obligation, connected the fate of the Ottoman empire with the conciliatory stipulations of 1814 and 1815, under the protection of which civilized and Christain Europe reposed after its long dissentions, and the governments found themselves uni. ted by the recollections of common glory and a happy coincidence in principles and views. After five years of well-meant endeavours, supported by the representations of Russia, and equally long evasions and delays on the part of the Porte-after several points of the negotiation relative to the execution of the treaty of Bucharest seemed to be already settled, a ge. neral insurrection in the Morea, and the hostile invasion of a chief of a party unfaithful to his duty, excited in the Turkish government and nation, all the emotions of blind hatred against the Christians to it, without distinction between the guilty and the innocent. Russia did not hesitate a moment to testify its disapprobation of the enterprise of prince Ypsilanti. As protector of the two principalities, it approved of the legal measures of defence and suppression adopted by the di van, at the same time insisting on the necessity of not confounding the innocent part of the population with the seditious, who were to be disarmed and punished. These coun.

cils were rejected, the representative of his imperial majesty was insulted in his own residence, the chief Greek clergy, with the patriarch at their head, were subjected to an infa. mous capital punishment amidst the solemnities of our holy religion. Many Christians, without distinction, were seized, plundered, and massacred without trial; the remainder fled.

The flame of insurrection, far from abating, spread meantime on every side. In vain did the Russian ambassador endeavour to ren der the Porte a last service. In vain did he show by his note of the 6th July, 1827, a way to safety and reconciliation. After he had protested against the crimes and ebullitions of rage, unparalleled in his tory, he found himself obliged to obey the commands of his sovereign, and to leave Constantinople. About this time it happened that the powers allied with Russia, whose interest equally required the maintenance of general peace, were eager to offer and employ their services for the purpose of dispelling the storm which threatened to burst over the infatuated Turkish government. Russia on its part delayed the remedy of its own just grievances, in the hope that it should be able to conciliate what it owed to itself, with the moderation that the situation of Europe, and its tranquillity, at that time more than ever endangered, seemed to require. Great as these sacrifices were, they were fruitless, All the efforts of the empe. ror's allies were successively baffled by the obstinacy of the Porte, which, perhaps, equally in error with respect to the motives of our conduct, and the extent of its own

resources, persisted in the execu tion of a plan for the destruction of all the Christians subject to its power. The war with the Greeks was prosecuted with increased acrimony, in spite of the mediation, the object of which then was the paci fication of the Greeks.

The situation of the divan, notwithstanding the exemplary fidelity of the Servians, became, from day to day, more hostile towards them, and the occupation of Moldavia and Wallachia was protract. ed, notwithstanding the solemn promises made to the representative of Great Britain, and even notwithstanding the manifest willingness of Russia, as soon as those promises were given, to restore its former relations with the Porte. So many hostile measures could not fail, in the end, to exhaust the patience of the emperor Alexander. In the month of October, 1825, he caused an energetic protest to be presented to the Ottoman ministry, and when a premature death snatched him away, from the love of his people, he had just made a declaration that he would regulate the relations with Turkey according to the rights and interests of his empire. A new reign began, and a further proof was furnished of that love of peace, which the former government had left as a fair inheritance.. Scarcely had the emperor Nicholas ascended the throne, when he commenced negotiations with the Porte, to settle various differences which concerned only Russia, and on the 23d March, and 4th April, 1827, laid down, in common with his majesty the king of Great Britain, the basis of a mediation, which the general good preremp

« PreviousContinue »