17 FEBRUARY 1855, Page 1


Loan JOHN RUSSELL'S appointment on a special mission to Vienna -is the principal act of the Government hitherto. The first remark made by the club statesmen at the announcement was, that it was

• very clever of Lord Palmerston thus to get rid" of a noble friend who might be an embarrassing ally or a troublesome rival in the House of Commons—the more so as he would not be trammelled by being in office. Incidentally, however, the arrangement has advantages : it confirms the appearance of the best possible under- standing between Lord Palmerston and Lord John; and by placing the latter in an office so responsible, though such a long way off, it makes him hostage for the behaviour of the hundred and forty whom he counts upon in the House of Commons. The advantage to Lord John himself is unquestionable. The arrangement restores his dignity, and rescues him from the false position of isola- tion into which he rushed, but in which he could scarcely have remained contented. It removes him out of harm's way. If he had continued in the tantalizing modesty of a back bench, there is no knowing to what fresh sallies he might have been tempted by the irksomeness of his position; which must be at least as uncon- genial to him as a secondary post in another man's Cabinet. If a sensitive conscience prevented him from resisting Mr. Roebuck's motion, some other motive might have enticed him to support Mr. Collier's motion on Russian trade, or any other rmovement in the Commons likely to create a fresh "situation." He is suspended in home politics without being superseded; he is sent upon tra- vels that may enlarge his experience ; and he may return with a 'repaired credit—if he succeed. But if he fail? Why, then, some other person may reap the advantage.

Of course the supporters of Ministers hold out the hope that the conferences at Vienna, that have been delayed for a month, will now be carried on with unexpected efficiency, at least on our side. Lord John Russell's appointment has some advantages for the mission as well as the man. Lord John's political rank will prove the importance which the English Government attaches to the proceedings. It cannot be necessary for a Minister of his standing to bandy messages backwards and forwards with Down- ing Street; and his presence at Vienna, therefore, will not only have the effect of saving time and friction, but by saving time may possibly smooth the way for negotiations. Lord John's pub- lic professions, and even his prejudices, are to a certain extent a gage that we are not to be Holy-Allianced by this new Vienna Congress. We are to presume that his prejudices against Austria will not be suffered to injure his instrumentality, by imparting any offensive tone to his demeanour; and upon that presumption we may anticipate, that whatever may be the result of the nego- tiations with regard to Russia, the conferences will bring the Allies to a closer intercourse and a more complete understanding between themselves.

In regard to the issue of the Congress we cannot speak with strong confidence. The delay which has taken plaae in the meet- ing, and the diplomatic correspondence which has immediately preceded it, have proved the great difficulty that the parties to it have had in coming together at all. Lord Aberdeen remarked, last year, that between the two extremes, of terms dictated by Russia at Constantinople, or by the Allies at St. Petersburg, the conditions of the penes, must depend upon the issues of the war. The war has had as yet no decisive results, and the relative posi- tion of the several parties has not undergone material alteration. Au allusion in the Paris Constitutionnel, this week, is a tolerably clear sign that the French Government does not anticipate good faith at Berlin ; while it might be accepted as a sign that the same .Government is prepared to insist upon a condition which Russia [Liam EDITION.' has shown no inclination to accept. We allude td the Constilu- tionnel because it furnishes the last 9;1mi-official sign by. one of the Western Powers. One condition- which Prince Gortschakoff was told would be involved in the four guarantees was, that the naval establishments of Russia in the Black Sea should be destroyed and her fleet diminished. This semi:oiheial state- ment appears to keep in force the declarations made by the new British envoy to Vienna, that Sebastopol must be razed. But the Allies have as yet made no very satisfactory progress to- wards enforcing that condition upon Russia. At the outset, with their powers untested, they might have expected submission ; but the "blow" upon Sebastopol has displayed weakness instead of strength. We have had our glory, to live in history and in song ; but the events of Alma and of Inkerman will have passed like stage pageant!, leaving as the result of the campaign, so far as it has gone down to this date, the preponderance of resisting force on the side of Russia. While we might anticipate on general grounds that Russia viould persist in refusing that, the most vexed question in the negotiations, her continued and enlarged preparations imply that she is preparing for a protraction and an enlargement of the contest. We -cannot suppose that Lord John Russell is carrying to Vienna the submission of the British Governinent Ordinary faith to- wards our allies, and towards our own interests, must preclude a Palmerston Government from such a course. We have encouraged Austria in taking a position by which she appears to have cast off for ever the friendship and confidence of Russia; while she has not yet gained a position that would enable her to defy the resent- ment of that power. Russia might be willing enough, on the mere prospect that the bulk of Europe would be aroused and com- bined against her, to fall in with a hasty and delusive conclusion of peace, if she could secure such terms as would constitute the peace a mere suspension of arms, and enable her to resume opera- tions from the point where she left off, at a more auspicious op- portunity. But if Lord Palmerston's Government should conclude a peace which would leave Russia free to begin again, how could it justify itself to the country in taking the place of Lord Aber- deen P The future is inscrutable to the most praotMed ealoulator of any of us ; but we have as yet no elements for even a conjectu- ral estimate of the results of the Vienna Conference.