THE OBJECTS OF THE WAR.
1, Adam Street, Adelphi, 10th _December 1855.
Ste—Some of your correspondents, apparently representing the Peace party, declare their incapacity to find out the rationale of the war at present raging between the Allies and Russia openly—the latter being aided by covert allies.
I will endeavour to state this rationale, which I believe to be the view of four-fifths of the English nation.
We war, then, in furtherance of the cause of free institutions in govern- ment, which we believe to be synonymous with the progress of humanity from the mere animal condition towards high mental and spiritual attain- ment.
We believe that in order to attain free institutions, it is essential to allow the freest exercise of individuality in man and woman, short of trenching upon the individuality of other men and women, and that only upon na- tional questions should the wills of the individuals be subjected to those of the majority of individuals. We believe that all governments upon other bases than this are detri- mental to the progress of humanity ; but that, nevertheless, every ruler of a nation, despot or other, must be held prima facie to represent his nation zo long as the people continue to sanction him.
But if that ruler or that nation attempts to coerce other nations, or if it becomes obnoxious to other nations by maintaining on its borders thieves or violent men despoiling their neighbours and disregarding international law, surrounding nations thereby acquire the right to interfere as a police to prevent their violence, to enforce restitution, and to disable them if pos- sible for all future time from resuming their career of violence, and to com- pel them to make such changes in their constitution and laws as will fit them for international interchange ; or in default of this, to outlaw them and put them into a state of exile by shutting them up closely within their own borders, till the inconvenience of their condition shall induce them to submit to such rules as the majority, of the nations agree to call civilized. We do not contend that England, any more than France or the United States, has arrived at the condition of absolute justice to all mankind, either nationally or internationally ; but we contend that England is at the head of constantly advancing civilization, and commits lees international injustice than any other nation ; and when the necessity of conquest is forced on her by barbarous nations, she always betters the condition of those nations, lifts them as far as practicable in the scale of humanity.
If Russia did this, the aggressive annexations of Russia would be borne with, as the annexations of the United States from their uncivilized neigh- bours are borne with,—that the condition of the annexed people is im- proved; a process that apparently must eventually take place with Mexico. But Russia does not do this. She annexes for the purpose of increasing an empire of military serfs. She commits cruelty and injustice for the mere lust of arbitrary power. She converts all the annual revenue she can extort from her poor serfs into military appliances ; she prevents trade, and crushes the individuality of mankind. She regards mankind as a herd of cattle, and slaughters men in masses for the gratification of her whims. She has no humanity, and recognizes no laws but those of military despotism. Even this would be borne did she confine herself to her own territories, but she recognizes no property of others. She is ever ready to lend her serf sol- diery to crush freedom, and to prevent progress. Could she have her way, civilization would be checked and the world would again be plunged into the dark ages.
She chose deliberately to take possession of her neighbour's territory in breach of the laws of nations. She was warned by the international police of France and England to undo this wrong, without any penalty demanded. She refused, and France and England resorted to force, professing very un- advisedly their determination not to appropriate to themselves any conquered Russian territory. Very fortunately, Russian obstinacy has set aside this consideration, which was a premium to her to persevere in injustice. If a robber is to be visited by no penalty save prevention, it is clear that he has every motive to try to avoid the prevention, but none to abstain from the robbery ; and this was the exact condition of Russia before the four points were swept to the four winds.
The motives which gave rise to the war on the part of the Allies still ex- ist. No one can trust Russia. She is a mere Eastern despotism, whose whole policy is simple treachery and falsehood. And unless we are prepared to let the powers of darkness rule paramount, we must continue the war, not merely till Russia proclaims her desire for peace on our terms, but till we have placed her in the position of absolute impossibility to commit further outrage. We must take from her and keep the Crimea as a place of free trade, an everlasting thorn in the side of despotism. We must take from her Bessarabia, and make the Danube free. We must keep the Sea of Azoff, and take the Caspian Sea. We must batter down Cronstadt, and extinguish their Baltic fleet. We must not permit a Russian flag either for war or peace to enter sea or ocean till we finally succeed in beating down under our feet the Satan of Russian despotism, or shutting him up in his own pandemo- nium. It avails not to tell us that the Russian people are suffering for the faults of the Russian Emperor. It is their fault to permit of such a rule, and they must go on suffering till they perceive this. Paradoxical though it may seem, it is the Russians themselves who will be the greatest gainers by their misfortunes in war. Only thus can their despotism be pulled down. Only thus can they be at liberty to develop their faculties in their natural aptitudes, up to this time impeded by as base and brutal a despotism as the world ever beheld. It is not by treaties that this can be brought about, but by the absolute crushing and disabling of the power for mischief, and sur- rounding Russia in the coming time with a ring of enemies, permitting her no occupation of trade, save through their agencies. And thus a new Russia may some day arise, with the possession of individual freedom, and national thoughts and wishes in consonance with the civilized nations around them.
It is quite true that Turkey is a secondary consideration in this question : Turkey constituted the culminating point of the misdeeds of Russia, but if Turkey be too weak to maintain herself, it does not follow that she must therefore become a stronghold of ruffians or Russians. If Turks be in- capable of marching in line with the civilization of other nations, they will have to retreat from Europe. The want of political government in Turkey, rather than the want of valour, has constituted Russia's vantage ; and if she be incapable of politic government it will have to be found for her, not to convert her into a nation of military serf vassals, but into a nation of free- men. Russian government is ruffianly, is false and treacherous, and cannot be suffered to continue if it infringes its neighbours' rights. It cannot be suffered to cause the slaughter of millions of men at the pleasure of a military despot and his adherents. All now betokens downfall, and the Allies would be mad indeed to hold their hands because Austria once more seeks to save Russia by pretences of negotiation.
Two circumstances are pregnant with meaning,—the fortifying of Moscow and Petersburg, and the Austrian Concordat. The first may be a fortifying against an expected jacquerie in Russia; the second simply a resort to a re- ligious domination over men's minds in the cause of despotism, when the last lingering shadow of Russian bayonets is disappearing.
As for the sinister prognostics about France, we heed them not. "We love France so well that we will not part with a single village of it ; we will have it all ours,"—ours by the right of free trade, ours by the rites of inter- national intermarriage, ours by the right hand of fellowship in war, ours by the common objects of advancing civilization, ours by the instinctive valour of past ages—ours by the virtus, the manhood of the present day—ours by the strength of purpose that God has planted in the hearts of men, assuring us that forward and not backwards is our motto, and will be the motto even of Russia in the looming future. If no other purpose were served by this war, it has at least beaten down and trodden out the growing lie that trade had eaten out manhood from amongst us. It has shown that there is strength, and courage, and purpose yet left us, and that trade is but a means to higher thoughts and nobler objects. We are not the mere serfs of commerce, neither are we the sybarites of wealth. But withal, when this war is over, we shall acquire yet greater wealth in the civilization of the East—in the construction of railways, and canals, and harbours, that shall extinguish for ever all chance of Russian or other barbarians plunging the world into a new series of dark ages. I am, Sir, yours faithfully, W. BRIDGES ADAMS.