British History - The abortive revolutions, 1848-9 : British attitude - Palmerston - Napoleon III - The Crimea and Florence Nightingale.
( Originally Published 1922 )
THE year 1848 was the turning-point at which modern history failed to turn. The military despotisms of Central Europe were nearly but not quite transformed by a timely and natural action of domestic forces. It was the appointed hour, but the despotisms just succeeded in surviving it, and modernised their methods without altering their essential character. The misfortunes of European civilisation in our own day sprang in no small degree from those far-off events.
In 1848 nearly all the despotic Governments of the Continent were overthrown, but nearly all recovered power in the course of a year. The failure of the revolution to consolidate its success was due to want of experience and wisdom among its leaders; to the strife of constitutional monarchists with republicans and of middle-class liberals with socialists ; and finally to the antagonism of races. In the wide dominions ruled from Vienna, racial animosity was the principal cause first of the success and then of the defeat of the revolutionary movements. Mazzini could persuade each of the peoples to demand its own freedom and nationality, but could not persuade them to make common cause, or to rise to the height of his idea that the nations were complements one of the other.
Europe after the fall of Napoleon was subject to an iron law, often overlooked, but always in the end proof against the high aspirations of the nineteenth century the fact that Prussia, Russia and Austria were more powerful on the Continent than France and England. It is true that the three Eastern despotisms acted together as seldom as the two Western powers. But they always stood together on the vital question of Poland, and they did not desert one another in the decisive political crisis of the century. In 1849 the King of Prussia refused the request of the Frankfort Parliament that he should take the lead of Liberal Germany, to the exclusion of Austria; while Russia aided the young Emperor Francis Joseph to re-establish military despotism throughout his Austro-Hungarian dominions.
The reduction of Austria's rebellious subjects was rendered possible partly by the aid of Russia, partly by the refusal of the Magyar Parliamentarians under Kossuth to treat the non-Magyar nationalities of Hungary as anything better than, subject peoples. That refusal drove back Slays and Roumanians into the arms of the despots of Vienna. Kossuth, in his subsequent exile, was regarded by his American and English sympathisers as a hero of liberty, which partly he was. But it may be doubted whether any man since Robespierre did so much injury to the Liberal cause. He deflected the Magyar national ideal from liberalism to chauvinism. The Magyar oligarchy, crushed in 1849, came to terms with their Austrian enemies after 1866 in a copartnership of dual race ascendancy, and dragged Austro-Hungary to the final abyss.
In Germany the course of the revolution of i 848 was no more fortunate. The Germans indeed could more easily have been united on a basis of freedom. They had no race-divisions like Austro-Hungary. There was not, as in Italy, an Austrian army occupying the land, to suppress every native movement. But in 1848 Germany was anti-Liberal, if not in heart and mind, at least in energy and will. The Parliament of Frankfort, which was to have united her, lacked the powerful spirit of Pym or Franklin, of Mirabeau or of Cavour. If the King of Prussia would not, Germany could not. Her men of genius and her instincts for action were dedicated to other ideals. She was destined to be united, not in 1848 on a basis of freedom, but in 1866 and 1870 on a basis of military Kaiserdom.
The failure of 1848 permanently to overturn military despotism in the centre of the Continent was fatal to the healthy development of Europe as a whole. Austria and Germany, from their geographic position, radiate influence on all sides, and their bulk lies athwart the mutual intercourse of the States that surround them. Russia, as a result of 1849, was still left isolated from contact with freedom. If Germany had been liberalised, the Czardom would ere long have been reformed.
Italy, on the other hand, was not cut off by physical causes from French and English influence. Italy's tragedy in 1848–9 was only the prelude to her deliverance of 1859-60. The Italians had the wisdom to learn the prudential lessons of their first failure, without abandoning, as the Germans did for awhile, their faith that freedom was essential to true nation-hood.
In France the issues of 1848 were different. The French already enjoyed national unity, Parliamentary institutions and popular self-expression, which were the objects of the revolutionaries in other lands. If King Louis Philippe's bourgeois government headed by Guizot a great historian blind to the lessons of history had had the sense to extend the franchise, there would have been no excuse for revolt in France. As it was, the Government had against it the two rising forces of Catholic reaction on the one side and working-class aspiration on the other. And since Louis Philippe, in spite of some rather gross intrigues in Spain, did not offer a spirited foreign policy to satisfy French pride, he was haunted by the ghost of Napoleon, the emotional rallying-point of all Frenchmen discontented with Government. The monarchy of the Citizen King fell in the uprising of Paris in February 1848, which gave the signal of revolution to the rest of Europe.
When, in the weeks that followed, the barricades were rising in city after city, and the princes of Europe were flying from their palaces, or hastily signing new constitutions, while class was arming against class, and race against race in the wild confusion of universal overturn, the British people looked on at a spectacle that could not fail to interest, but scarcely seemed to concern them. The popular victory over the Corn Laws two years back, and the far-spreading tide of new prosperity and well-being removed all fear of revolutionary contagion. The Chartist flame had been burning low for half a dozen years past, and its last flicker was the famous procession to Parliament in April 1 848. So far from over-awing Lords and Commons, the incident was more memorable for the alacrity with which the middle classes turned out as special constables, than for any formidable display of working-class effervescence.
As between the foreign ' reds ' and ' blacks ' English sympathies were divided and lukewarm. It was difficult to under-stand what was going on across the Channel, but there was satisfaction in the thought that we were not as other nations. Our social and political troubles, it was held, lay behind us. wisely solved in advance by Queen Elizabeth, William of Orange, Pitt, Lord Grey, Mr. Cobden or Sir Robert Peel, according to choice and above all by the calm good sense of the British people. In the middle of the European revolutions the first part of Macaulay's history was published, and attained at once a popularity and influence analogous to that of Scott, Byron or Dickens. There were many grounds for its success, but one was that it presented a reasoned eulogy of Britain and things British, as that age understood them. Nor could the historian resist the temptation of inserting a passage proudly contrasting 1688 at home with 1848 abroad.
This same feeling of self-satisfaction, or pious thanks-giving, underlay the emotions of Englishmen three years later at Prince Albert's Great Exhibition, held under the glass pleasure-dome in Hyde Park. The unfortunate Europeans,. having failed to master our secret of combining liberty with order, were invited, as a consolation prize, to come and admire the peace, progress and prosperity of Britain. The Great Exhibition, the first of many such in all the capitals of Europe, began a new era of international trade advertisement.
Although in 1848 there had been English sympathisers with each of the opposing parties on the Continent, there had been no movement to wage war on behalf either of foreign princes or of foreign peoples. There was no Burke among the Conservatives of that day. And the more advanced Liberals were restrained from the crusading spirit by the peace doctrines of the Manchester school, then at the height of its influence during the years between its Corn Law triumph and its Crimean catastrophe. Mazzini, the noblest of the many exiles then sheltering in our island, altogether failed to persuade England that it was her interest as the leading Liberal power to fight for the victory of freedom in Europe. But on the Continent all men believed that the sympathy and moral weight of Great Britain was, if not friendly to the revolutionaries, at least hostile to the despots, and particularly to all things Austrian. This impression was mainly due to the personal policy of the Foreign Minister, Lord Palmerston.
Palmerston was very seldom out of office between 1808 and 1865, but he never lost his boyish enjoyment of life. The older he grew in the Foreign Office, the less was he restrained by its courtesies and traditions. The awful burden of public care had early marked Pitt and Peel as men set aside from their fellows. But Palmerston was untamed by fifty years of official responsibility and routine. This was part of the secret of his power. Between the abolition of the Corn Laws and the second Reform Bill, when serious political issues were at a discount, people liked to watch ' Old Pam ' performing with such obvious zest, nonchalance and courage. Here plainly was a big man, yet one cast in the common mould, whose thoughts and motives everyone could understand, in contrast with the rival enigmas of Disraeli and Gladstone.
Palmerston became a national institution on his own account. Though in alliance with the Whigs since 1830, he was at heart neither Whig, Tory nor Peelite. In so far as he adhered to the doctrines of any party, he may be said to have remained a follower of Canning. Like his dead leader, he trusted the English people and rested his power on appeals to public opinion, while somewhat inconsistently opposing Parliamentary Reform. Throughout the period of his greatest influence, he kept the Whig-Liberal party bound to a domestic policy almost as negative as that of Walpole. Russell's spasmodic and half-hearted attempts to extend the franchise, fell flat on the indifference of the public and the hostility of his most powerful colleague. Radicals like Bright, who were in real earnest about Parliamentary Reform, regarded Palmerston's commanding position in the counsels of the Liberal party as more fatal to progress than the official opposition of avowed Conservatives. They wished in vain that he would cross the floor of the House. They could only wait until he died, and he was an unconscionably long time about dying.
On the other hand, in foreign politics he was at once a Radical and a Jingo. Whenever there was a despot to be insulted, he joyfully insulted him, but always in the name of Britain's power and renown. He held it a disgrace that we should not speak our mind on Austrian atrocities, for of whom or of what should we be afraid ? If a British subject was ill-treated, were it only a Gibraltar Jew of doubtful honesty like Don Pacifico in Greece, he risked a breach with France to support the man's most extravagant claims, and appealed to the British public on the theme of protecting the ' Civis Romanus ' all the world over. Such levity was quite as shocking to Peel and Aberdeen as to Cobden and Bright, and even Disraeli thought it misplaced. But Palmerston triumphed over them all.
He inherited from Canning the tendency of his policy, but not the practical wisdom of his measures. As Foreign Minister he achieved nothing tangible for the cause of liberty.1 In 1848 his chief object was to prevent a European war. Although the year before he had sent Lord Minto on tour through Italy to encourage the Liberals there, when the crisis came he asked France and Charles Albert of Piedmont not to march to the help of the Milanese against the Austrians. If Charles Albert had taken that piece of advice, Italy would never have been united under his son. Again, in 1849 Palmerston approved the invasion of Hungary by Russia, much to the disgust of the Manchester men, who thought that he was violent when he should be moderate, and acquiescent when he should protest. But with all his faults, it was owing to him, to his generosity and to his open speech, that Britain's name was associated with the cause of freedom at a time when our public opinion was wavering, and when our Court and official influences were mainly on the side of reaction abroad.
In his conduct at the Foreign Office, Palmerston was under the fire not only of the regular Conservative Opposition and of the small Manchester group, but of his Whig and Peelite colleagues. Those of them who, like Russell, shared his liberal sympathies, dreaded his headlong methods, and all of them resented his attempt to withdraw the Foreign Office from Cabinet control, and to make himself alone answerable to the public for its policy. On one occasion the Cabinet held a special meeting to forbid him to receive the exile Kossuth in his house, but could not prevent him from openly demonstrating his sympathies, or from declaring that a less popular visitor to our land, the Austrian Field-Marshal Haynau, flogger of women, ought to have been ' tossed in a blanket.'
The statesman who was most of all opposed to him in temper and opinion was Lord Aberdeen. Trained in the school first of Wellington, and then of Peel, Aberdeen was now chiefly anxious to maintain the peace of Europe, which he believed could only be prolonged if existing boundaries were respected. An affection for the treaties of Vienna, however laudable from a Pacificist point of view, necessarily involved a friendly neutrality towards Austria and the despotic cause.1
Last but not least, Palmerston had to deal with the Court. The Queen had in 1840 married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Her personal sympathies, which she could seldom distinguish from her political inclinations, were instinctively on the side of all German-speaking princes. In her mind, Milan, Venice and Hungary were the possessions of the Austrian Emperor, and there was an end of the matter. Coached by Prince Albert, who had mastered European politics among so many other subjects, she tried to control Palmerston. She established the point that his' dispatches must be submitted to her before they were sent off, and in this way she and her husband, who were not afraid of detail and hard work, were able to contest the foreign policy of the country inch by inch and day by day. But she had learned Melbourne's constitutional doctrine thoroughly, and never attempted to override her Ministers' policy if it proved to be the settled determination of the Cabinet as a whole.
Nevertheless, when the public began to find out that Albert was opposing Palmerston, there was a loud outcry against the interference of a German princeling in British policy, and questions were asked as to the constitutional position of the Queen's husband. It was a subject at once delicate and obscure. If Queen Elizabeth had ever married, or if Queen Anne's husband had not been a fool, there might have been a happier and more informing precedent than that afforded by Philip of Spain. In this case the problem was shelved rather than solved, first by the good sense of Prince Albert, and finally by his death in 1861. In home affairs his influence over the Queen was on the whole liberal ; he greatly admired Peel, was a strong free-trader, and took more interest in scientific and commercial progress, and less in sport and fashion than was at all popular in the best society.
Palmerston was the last man in the world to be brow-beaten or cajoled by royalty. There was in him much of the aristocrat but nothing of the snob. Whiggish in his sympathies with continental Liberalism, he had developed a knack of appealing directly to British popular opinion that was too modern, too ' jingo,' and too democratic to be pure Whig. After his fashion he stimulated a new popular interest in foreign questions, and put the Foreign Office more directly in touch with opinion outside the circles of the privileged. Strong in the people's support, he played on the whole a winning game for a dozen years against Court and colleagues. But he had several bad falls in the course of it ; and these accidents occurred always when he had put himself for the moment out of touch with popular opinion by too great deference to Napoleon III.
His first great mistake was when, in December 1851, he was too hasty in expressing approval of Napoleon's coup d'état. He had not waited to observe that ,it was strongly condemned not only by Crown and Cabinet, whom he was accustomed to defy, but by the people of England who alone kept him in power. He had against him, for the moment, both the pro-Austrian and the Radical party. Russell seized the opportunity to dismiss from the Foreign Office a colleague who was attempting to become a dictator. But only two months afterwards Palmerston was boasting that he had ' had his tit for tat with John Russell ' by turning out the Whigs. After a brief interlude of Conservative government in 1852, Aberdeen's Whig-Peelite coalition received Palmerston back into the ministerial fold, in time for him to help to make the Crimean War.
By the coup d'état, Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon I and President of the French Republic, usurped despotic authority, and shortly afterwards became Emperor with the title of Napoleon III. It is at least arguable that something analogous to the coup d'état was unavoidable. The reactionary Chamber which it overthrew was a danger to the State: it was clinging to power after it had lost popularity, like the Rump when dismissed by Oliver. And Napoleon in the early part of his reign as Emperor was a good deal more popular than Cromwell ever was as Protector. He had thrust himself in between the Reactionary and Republican parties, neither of whom really stood on a broad basis of public opinion, and both of whom acquiesced sulkily in his usurpation because they hated each other worse than either hated him. On the one side the new Emperor represented the Catholic and anti-socialist reaction that followed on the events of 1848, while on the other he gave security against the more extreme forms of reaction after which the Royalist parties hankered. He stood for the equality of all Frenchmen under government, which they valued more than freedom.
Nevertheless the coup d'état, accompanied as it was by a wholly unnecessary slaughter in the streets of Paris resulting from military mismanagement, destroyed Napoleon's pretensions to a moral position before the world. Now in some respects he aspired to a moral position, and he certainly needed one more than his uncle, who had had so many other resources. In his lifetime few gave credit to this ' cut-purse of the Empire' for the idealism and philanthropy that were blended with his inordinate personal ambition.
Like his uncle, Napoleon III appealed to the average Frenchman against the extreme parties in the State. And like his uncle he appealed to the professional feeling of the soldiers, and to the national desire for glory. A spirited foreign policy was essential to any Napoleonic regime. But was it to be conducted in the Liberal or the Catholic interest ? He himself, a partisan by conviction of nationality and progress, preferred to fight in Liberal causes ; but his wife and chief supporters wanted Catholic crusades. His twofold interference in Italy, against Austria but on behalf of the Pope, was a self-contradiction ultimately fatal to France. Those who feel equally bound to fight on both sides of a quarrel would find it safer, from a selfish point of view, to stay at home.
But on one point he was determined. He would never quarrel with England. A great student of history, he had underlined for his own avoidance those of his uncle's mistakes which he was wise enough to detect. He read that hostility to England had lost France her colonies, and had in the end destroyed the Napoleonic power. Since he aspired to reconstruct a colonial empire in Africa and America, as well as to make France the leading country in Europe, he regarded it as a first condition that he should be friends with England. The weakness of the scheme, which became apparent in the last half of his reign, was that in so far as he succeeded in his Colonial and European projects, England was sure to become jealous. Her hearty alliance could not be given to a Power that aspired to primacy.
Though there was often talk of war, England never came to blows with Napoleon. But the English would never believe that he honestly meant them well, though history has proved it in the retrospect. The very name of Napoleonic Empire frightened us. Even if we could have trusted him personally and it was not easy to trust the author of the coup d'état we could not see the Colonial and European power of France increasing year by year without grave misgivings about the future. Who could guarantee the attitude of the next emperor ? Even those Englishmen who knew enough of Napoleon to trust him, believed that France loved us little. The traditional feud with England had not yet been overlaid by a fiercer hatred of the Germans. Napoleon's life seemed our only security. So when Cobden and Bright preached confidence in French intentions, they only occasionally carried conviction.
But in the early 'fifties there was another Power whom we feared and distrusted even more than France. Since the interference of the Czar Nicholas in Hungary in 1849, the shadow of Russia seemed to lie over Europe as well as over Asia. Napoleon, who was looking out for an adventure, was anxious to draw England along with him, for if not herself involved in any enterprise he might undertake she would certainly suspect and oppose it. He saw his opportunity in an anti-Russian alliance, which was the more attractive to him as he had a personal score to pay off against Nicholas.
So in 1853 we had to choose between our two bugbears the Emperor Napoleon and the Czar both of whom sought our friendship. The Balance of Power, according to the British view of that decade, was threatened by France and by Russia severally. When Bright said that the Balance of Power was a fetish, he was wrong in theory if he held it to be a thing indifferent, but right in practice because the balance then actually existed if we had been content to leave well alone. Our difficulty in deciding whether France or Russia was the danger, showed how nicely adjusted the balance really was.
It is impossible to seek the real causes of the Crimean War in its ostensible object, for the terms of settlement between Russia and Turkey, which we ourselves proposed in the ` Vienna note ' of July 1853, were accepted by the Czar and refused by the Sultan ! The Turk rejected our terms at the unofficial prompting of our own Ambassador at Constantinople, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. So far as England was concerned, Stratford engineered the war with Russia, contrary to the policy of the peace-loving Premier, Lord Aberdeen, but ultimately with the support of his colleagues, Palmerston and Russell.
Although one result of the war was to prolong Turkish rule over the Christian races of the Balkans, the motive of the war was not love of the Turks, to whom we were indifferent. The motives were, first a desire for warlike adventure that seized the English people after forty years of peace, a mood that involved a very dangerous doctrine of war for war's sake, clearly stated at the time in Tennyson's ' Maud ' ; the pacific ideals of the Great Exhibition of three years before were thrown to the winds, and it was said that what England wanted was not ' a good peace ' but ` a good war.' The second motive was the theory of the Balance of Power, and a belief that Europe and Asia were in danger of Russian aggression ; Russell told the House of Commons that we were fighting ' to maintain the independence of Germany, and of all Euro-pean nations.' The third motive, not entirely distinguishable from the second, was the Liberal hatred. of the ` Cossack Czar,' his tyranny over the Poles and his reactionary influence in Europe, especially his suppression of Hungarian liberties. It is true that Palmerston had at the time condoned his interference in Hungary, and that our statesmen refused to hold out any hopes to Poland in connection with the war. But the belief that we were fighting for liberty was genuine among the British people.
Nor can it be denied that the war helped in the long run to liberate Italy, for it drove Russia out of Central European politics, and enhanced the influence of France. In this sense the blood shed in the Crimea was not shed in vain, though Balkan Christians might have had a different point of view. But the results so advantageous for Italy came about as much by chance as by design. For at the beginning of the war we made every endeavour to induce Austria to fight on our side, and if Austria had consented, it would have been more difficult for France and England a few years later to take a leading part in depriving her of her Italian possessions. As it was, Austria's neutrality left her isolated during the next critical decade, for it alienated not only France and England, but Russia, who had also claimed the help of Francis Joseph in return for the Hungarian campaign of 1849.
When Austria refused to join us, Count Cavour, the ablest of European statesmen, already Prime Minister of young King Victor Emmanuel of Piedmont, stepped into Austria's place, and sent the Bersaglieri to fight by the side of the French and British Guards before Sebastopol. The one man besides Napoleon III who really knew what he was doing in the whole affair,' the Minister of this little State with a population of five millions, secured to the Crimean War a Liberal character and Liberal consequences, which it would certainly not have had if our statesmen had succeeded in their efforts to persuade Austria to take part.
The capture of Sebastopol, the great Crimean arsenal from which the Russian fleets dominated the Black Sea, was chosen as the allied objective. It was attained after a year's campaign and siege. This constituted practically all the war, except a futile naval expedition to the Baltic, and the gallant but finally unsuccessful defence of Kars in Armenia, by the Turks under the Englishman Fenwick Williams.
Sebastopol would have been taken within a few days of the landing of the French and English in the Crimea, if they had chosen to march into it at once from the north. But the French general, St. Arnaud, who surpassed Lord Raglan in incompetence, insisted, even after the initial victory of the Alma, that the allies should march round the fortress to the south side and begin a siege in form. The enemy were given time to throw in reinforcements, and to prepare the defence works under the great engineer Todleben.
The besiegers were soon put on the defensive. They were unable to invest the town from more than one side, and were outnumbered by the arrival of fresh Russian field armies. The British, on the right, were most exposed to the attacks of these forces, and bore the brunt of the defensive battles of Balaclava and Inkerman. The first of these, celebrated for two gallant cavalry charges commemorated by Tennyson, and the second consisting of a desperate infantry action at close quarters in the mists of a November dawn, demonstrated that the British soldier could fight as well as ever. But he was without tents, huts, knapsacks, healthy food or-the most elementary medical provision. The little British army nearly disappeared in the ' Crimean winter,' as a result of the breakdown of organised supply and transport. The French, and the Italians when they subsequently arrived, were better off in these respects. The Russians, with whom official incompetence was a matter of course, were perishing by myriads on the long route marches to the Crimea.
That a nation leading the world in new methods of indus-trial organisation should be unable to provide for twenty thousand soldiers half a dozen miles distant from her fleet in the port of Balaclava, would be incredible without some know-ledge of the army and the army chiefs of that time. The breath of reform, which was transmuting commerce, Parliament, Municipalities, Church and education, had left the army untouched. The services which the army had rendered against Napoleon seemed to imply that it needed no reform. And the pacific atmosphere of the intervening age drew away public attention from things military. The Duke of Wellington, who died in i 8 52, had been Commander-in-Chief for many years, and had used his matchless authority to preserve the army in all things as like as possible to the great instrument with which he had conquered Napoleon. While the arts of peace were being revolutionised by ever new devices in machinery and organisation, the Duke saw to it that the cannon, the muskets, the drill, the discipline, and the strategy of war remained unchanged. Even abuses, like the purchase of commissions and the overlapping of authorities were as dear to him as to the smaller men around him. The efficient staff and the good generals who had served him in the Peninsula had disappeared, and no effort had been made to train their successors. Fortunately the splendid regimental traditions which were the great bequest of Wellington's campaigns, remained over to save us in the Crimea and to be transmitted with fresh honours the names of Alma and Inkerman added on the flags to those of Vitoria and Waterloo to keep alive in the records of the regiments the soul of an army not accustomed to yield.
The deficiencies in military preparation were due both to the obscurantist spirit of the Horse Guards and the War Office, and to the economic spirit of the Treasury and the public. One thing the Duke had been asking for during the last years of his life a larger army. And Ministry after Ministry, in full accord with the general sentiment, had refused it. Nor did the Duke, who did not believe in democracy or in journalism, ever willingly head an agitation to educate public opinion.
That age enjoyed a blessing of which ours has known too little-freedom from competitive armaments. It could scarcely then expect military efficiency when war came at last. After all it did not very much matter if many of the regiments still used smooth-bore muskets, even though the use of rifles in war had been demonstrated over and over again for nearly a hundred years past. There was security in the fact that other powers were equally improvident. The philosopher may well regret that the nations did not agree to go on fighting with smooth-bores for yet another century !
It was not, however, necessary that our whole army should perish in the trenches before Sebastopol for want of shelter, clothes, food and medicine. The remnants of the force were saved, reinforced and supplied owing to two developments characteristic of the new age. One was the newspaper correspondent, a person unknown in Walcheren or the Peninsula. The other was a modern army hospital under Florence Nightingale.
William Russell of The Times exposed the state of things he saw before Sebastopol, with a freedom which would not have been permitted either in earlier or later wars, and which in fact revealed much to the enemy. But the value of his work, in the circumstances, far outweighed any attendant disadvantage. Nothing but public exposure could have shaken the military authorities of that day out of their lethargy. The Times informed and roused the British people only just in time to save the army. One result of the agitation was the fall of Aberdeen, long unpopular as a pacificist, and the substitution of the more energetic Palmerston as Prime Minister.
But ere that, a still more important measure had been taken by Sidney Herbert, Aberdeen's Secretary at War. He had sent out Florence Nightingale in an official capacity. The fury of the British public over Russell's revelations caused all successive War Ministers to give her such a measure of support that she was able to put her foot on the dragon of official obscurantism at the front. The triumph of a woman at the seat of war over highly placed officers and hoary military traditions would be astounding in any age, and then seemed miraculous. But Miss Nightingale was a woman of administrative genius, and of more than masculine force of character, the stronger for the calm dignity of its outward manifestation. She saved the sick and wounded of the British army in spite of its medical chiefs, by creating at Scutari a modern base hospital, the first of its kind, with trained women nurses and necessary material. She brought down the death rate at Scutari from 42 per cent. to 22 per thousand.
She emerged from the war with the only great reputation on our side. For the rest it was a ` soldiers' war,' deadly to the good name of generals and of statesmen. Miss Nightingale used the position she had acquired in the hearts of her fellow-countrymen to make permanent changes in our national life. She saw to it that her work should not be a mere picturesque incident in the history of a single war, but that her methods should become an institutional part of normal civilised activities. Though she was now an invalid confined to her sofa, she ruled and legislated unseen. With the help of her friend, Sidney Herbert, again War Minister in the early 'sixties, she re-modelled the Army Medical Service, and reformed barrack accommodation.
It was not only all future generations of British soldiers who were to bless her name. The Red Cross movement all over the world, starting from the Geneva Convention of 1864, was the outcome of her work and influence. So, too, were the great reforms in civilian hospital construction and management, and the establishment for the general public of nursing by trained women in place of the horrors of Mrs. Gamp. Florence Nightingale's life gave a personal impulse, at once emotional and administrative, to the contemporary advance of science on its humanitarian side.
Whatever Italy or anyone else may have got out of the Crimean war, England's gain from it was the life work of this woman an immense acquisition of moral territory, if all its secondary consequences and ramifications be followed out. Modern hospital work in peace and war owes to this Crimean episode the saving of many more lives than the 25,000 that Britain lost on the shores of the Euxine, of which Miss Nightingale ascribed 16,000 to bad administration. To her work was due a new conception of the potentiality and place of the trained and educated woman.1 And this in turn led, in the 'sixties and 'seventies, to John Stuart Mill's movement for woman's suffrage, which Miss Nightingale supported, and to the founding of women's colleges, when at length some provision was made for the desperately neglected higher education of one-half of the Queen's subjects.
In September 1855 Sebastopol fell, after the Malakoff earthwork had been stormed by the French, and the British had failed before the Redan. The honours of the battles lay with England, of the siege with France. The French had been in the greater numbers, and their organisation had never collapsed so miserably as ours. France emerged from the war as the leading power in Europe, as Napoleon had planned. He had got what he wanted from the Crimea, but his very success made it doubtful if he could retain the friendship of England.
It was the ruler of France who, thus satisfied, forced the unwilling Palmerston to make peace. In March 18 56 the Treaty of Paris ended the war. Turkey was set on her legs again, both in the Balkans and Armenia, with the formal recommendation to be kind to her Christian subjects. Russia was prohibited from keeping warships or arsenals in the Black Sea; in 1870 she treated this restriction on her sovereignty as a scrap of paper, England vainly protesting.
At the general Congress of Powers that followed the signature of peace, Cavour, with France and England as patrons, succeeded in having the sufferings of Italy discussed, to the rage of the Austrian representative, who saw the future that a discussion on such terms portended.
At the same congress an important step was taken in international law. The Declaration of Paris, to which England together with the other powers adhered, laid it down that privateering should be abolished, that a neutral flag should cover enemy goods if not contraband of war, and that blockades to be valid in theory must be effective in practice.
If British prestige had on the whole lost by the Crimea, the loss was speedily made good by the events of the Indian Mutiny, where all that is most competent in statesmanship and soldiering was represented by the men on whom fell the sudden burden of the crisis.