17 MARCH 1855, Page 1


THE first step has been taken at Vienna—Congress has been formally constituted, and the Russian Plenipotentiary has agreed to negotiate on the basis of "the four points." Alexander the Second therefore agrees to discuss the subject of abating the pre- ponderance of Russia in the Black Sea. Nicholas, however, had signified the same willingness, and the twofold question remains— what is to be the nature of the limitation ? by what mode is it to be arrived at ? This is the whole question at issue. The present position is such that, to arrive at a settlement, one side must make large and substantial concessions. The Allies of course must stand firm on the effective embodiment of their principle ; but will Russia be prepared to make the really vast concession demanded, and in the view of Europe to abate her arrogant pretensions even on the Black Sea, her wash-pot, and before Turkey, her footstool?

The resolve of Russia may be modified by the latest news from the Crimea,—comprising such facts as that the railway had already advanced half the distance from Balaklava to the front ; and that a part of Sebastopol was in flames. But the other report, that Prussia has definitively declined to enter into the alliance even with the Western Powers, says little for the reality of peaceful intentions in the councils of Berlin or St. Petersburg. We see that great events are at hand, East and North : we cannot yet dis- tern whether they are the events of peace or war.