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COPY OF A VERY SECRET DESPATCH
COUNT NESSELRODE TO M. DE RIBEAUPIERRE,
THE RUSSIAN ENVOY EXTRAORDINARY AT CONSTANTIXOPLK.
DATED ST. PETERSBURGH, JAN. 11, 1827.
In addressing to your Excellency the ostensible instructions which you will receive by the courier of to-day, we have fulfilled our engagements with the Cabinet of London, and taken advantage of a favourable occasion for exposing the general system of our policy towards the Ottoman Empire.
The more we have reason to believe that in spite of the noble moderation of the Emperor Alexander, and the principles which direct our august Sovereign, false opinions give rise to secret uneasiness as to our intentions with respect to this empire, the more it was necessary that we should make known with frankness both the grave interests that we can never abandon there, and the real advantages that will be offered to us by the order of things which is there established, as soon as we
shall see, on the one hand, the convention of Akermann executed with fidelity; and on the other, Greece, tranquil and flourishing, contribute as formerly to the prosperity of the Russian Provinces whose productions were taken off by her ships, and by the enterprise of her merchants. Such is the double aim of our preceding Despatch. It develops truths which we cannot too forcibly impress upon other powers, or upon ourselves.
But there are others which also demand your Excellency's particular attention.
You have perused the annexes of the confidential Despatch that we latterly addressed to M. de Minciaky, and you will doubtless have been struck with the difference that exists between the communication that the British Minister made to us concerning the Greek question, at the two periods very close to each other, between the instructions with which it furnished Mr. Stratford Canning the 4th Sept. 1826, and those which it sent to him in the month of December following.
The former, sent during the conference of Akermann, ordered him to push with vigour the negotiations destined to re-establish in Greece a happy tranquillity. The second enjoined him to remain
in inaction, to temporize, to wait till the other allied Courts should pronounce on the march that the English Government had formerly indicated as indispensable. The same contrast is re-produced in the overtures which he makes directly to those Courts. His language of September at least had been positive. In the month of December he is uncertain and timid.
Great Britain articulates the propositions which she had submitted to us, and which we had approved of, but she articulates them in a manner to let us perceive that their rejection will not provoke her displeasure. The Cabinets of Paris and of Vienna have also expressed in their replies (see the annexes A and B) new ideas, whose pure and simple adoption could only still more impede the progress of this affair in which so many difficulties unite themselves to so much importance.
To explain the change, however, it is sufficient to consult the dates. Whilst England feared a rupture between Russia and the Porte, she equally feared to lose the rôle which the act of the 23rd March (4th April) had left to her in the affairs of Greece. As soon as the conclusion of the Treaty of Akermann offered to her the prospect of peace, she
returned to her former errors. She betrayed the desire of only half executing the protocol signed by the Duke of Wellington, of only thenceforward opening sterile negotiations with the Porte. Her secret leaning could not escape the other allied Courts, and their zeal to follow the impulse of English policy has no right to surprise us.
But your Excellency will perceive that it is not in a question to which great Russian interests are attached, that it is not at a moment when the Protocol of the 23rd March (4th April) has already become known to all Europe, that it was possible for the Emperor to encourage attempts, the first result of which would be to expose us to all the prejudicial effects that our engagements may have for us in compromising us towards the Turks and the Greeks, without securing to ourselves the advantages that they ought to guarantee to us, in effecting the pacification of Greece. On this point our explanations with Great Britain have been categorical. To make them known to your Excellency we transmit to you (see annexes C. and E.) the ostensible and confidential instructions that we have been ordered to address to Prince Lieven. They will prove to you that we have neglected no
means of producing a strong impression on the English Government, and that M. de Lieven was authorized, if his first overtures did not obtain a favourable reception, to allow it to be understood that not being able to admit the indefinite prolongation of the troubles of the Levant, we should be obliged to terminate them separately, according to the very letter of the stipulations of the Protocol. Our language, however, is sufficiently positive to inspire us with the hope that this insinuation will be superfluous, and we call to mind that in all the periods of the long negotiations of which Greece is the object, as soon as Great Britain has seen in us the sole arbiter of the destinies of this country, she has never failed to offer us a co-operation which henceforth became zealous and sincere. We have grounds for flattering ourselves that the ambassador of his Imperial Majesty will succeed, either in signing with the Cabinet of London the treaty proposed by France, and accompanied by the clauses to which the Emperor renders the conclusion subordinate, or in arranging the decisive measures which the execution of the Protocol of 23rd March (4th April) requires, and will cause their adoption without further delay. But we will not