Government, he said, had no desire or disposition to submit
to aggression from any power." Mr. Stewart, conceiving
• The views of that periodical the following extracts will sliow : —
" The formation of Englisli establishments in those provinces, and
the exportation of raw produce, which are the staples of Russia, by
means of British capital and enterprise, naturally inspire her with
great and not unfounded alarm. She therefore has proceeded quietly
to establish point by point, control over the river. * * * Against
this outrage it was understood that remonstrance had been made by
Great Britain^ and we suppose that according to custom the Ukase
referred to in the St. Petersburg paragraph is the answer of the
Autocrat to this remonstrance ! What can England be supposed tO
•ay, save * Pour on, I will endure?* "
RUSSIAN QUARANTINE. 317
that by tliis declaration he " was as much committed as he
could be by any act," withdrew his motion : it entered into
no man's mind to doubt, that the quarantine and tolls on the
Danube would be removed. In Parliament the matter was
never revived : there is no trace of a communication with the
Russian Cabinet on the subject: bnt the quarantine still
stands on the Island of Forgetfulness (Leti).
Fifteen days after the debate; the following letter was
written to Messrs. Bell : —
**Iorelfjn Office, May 5^/«, 1836.
'* In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of the
27th ultimo, upon the subject of the obstructions offered by
the Russian authorities to the free navigation of the Danube,
I am directed by Viscount Palmerstou, to acquaint you that
his Lordship has called upon the law adviser for the Crown for
Ids opinion as to the regulations promulgated hj the Russian
vkase of the 1th of Fehruarj/, 1836; but in the meantime.
Lord Pahnerston directs me to acquaint you with respect to
the latter part of your letter, that it is the opinion of his
Majesty's government, that no toll is justly demanded by the
Russian authorities at the mouth of the Danube, and that
you have acted properly in directing your agents to refuse to
" I am, Gentlemen, &c., &c.,
(Signed) "J. Backhouse."
The fact so communicated to a merchant is reserved from
Parliament. The reference to the law officers showed that
the Government had not made up its mind ; how, then,
should it concur in the statements of Mr. P. Stewart ? The
merchant is encouraged to resist aggressions of a foreign
state. Why is that Government not required to desist from
them ? The distinction drawn between similar acts, respect-
ing one of which the Government had only asked an opinion,
was not likely to produce collision between the Hottse of
318 THE DANUBE AND EUXINE.
Bell and the Imperial troops. The bold letter of the minis-
ter puts an end to all resistance, no opinion of the law ofiicers
ever appears ; and now a Eussian toll is exacted in Londan
and Liverpool on every English vessel sailing for the Turkish
ports on the Danube.*
Whilst the impression prevailed that vigorous measures
were to be taken, the idea arose of sending a trading vessel
direct to Circassia.
This matter was being discussed'by the chief authorities.f
The king so warmly entered into it, that a letter was written
* Liverpool^ MarcJi, 1848.
In shipping goods to the Danube there are fees to be paid to the
Hussian consul amounting to nearly £100 per cargo. On each bale,
or article, even though of metal, two roubles silver are charged
(6s. Aid. to 6s. 8d.) There are other expenses for seals, tin cases, and
extra coverings, imposed by the Russian regVtlations, vrithout which
vessels would be sent to Odessa, and subjected to forty days' qua-
rantine ; interest of money thereby lost, perhaps a market for their
sale, &c. The agent complained bitterly of the extortion, but his
London correspondent advised him on no accoiuit to agitate tha
matter, as the cliief Iiouse at Bucharest had tried and had failed, and
their vessel had been confiscated without compensation. I have been
told that from the Americans this impost is not exacted.
t The followuig extract from a letter of Lord Ponsonby, quoted
in the House of Commons on the 23 d Feb., 184.'8, will show his
entire concurrence : —
"I had been led to believe that you had changed your mind
respectmg Circassia. No ! I did not beheve it, but I heard it. I am
delighted with the manner m which you have treated this subject.
It is admirable. I hope you have approved ofichat I have done in
my despatches respecting it. I considered it from the begmning to
be next in importance to the possession of Constantinople itself : but
it is only lately, comparatively speaking, that I have known the facts
of the total freedom of that country from every legitimate connec-
tion or tie, and therefore the total illegahty of any title assumed to
It by Nicholas. If we had any man in England worth a straw wo
should soon settle these matters ; but our statesmen, liigh or low,
are pedlars, but without the sagacity that distinguishes the
Israelite who carries about his small wares for sale to housemaids and
•ouilions." ^jjj ^g,^
BUSSIAN QUARANTINE. 319
by his private secretary, stating the great service to his
country which any merchant might so render. This letter
was shown to INIr. Bell, and was the origin of the voyage
of the Vixen. I owe it to Mr. Bell, who is now dead,
to state that in all the misery and subsequent ruin in-
curred thereby, he never once alluded to that letter, on
which alone the step was taken ; and yet he had authority
to do so.
Up to this time a Blockade had alone been heard of. The
Eussian cruisers had frequently detained and warned off
neutral vessels. Several cases had come before the Foreign
Office, and it was urgent in its inquiries respecting the
blockade of the coast of Circassia. If there was blockade
there was war, and there could be neither quarantine nor
custom-house regulations. But it was not judged pradent
by Mr. Bell to send his vessel without a specific declaration
from the Foreign Minister. This letter, however, merely
asked if there were " anij restrictions on trade recognised by
Her Majesty's Government ?" as if not, he intended to send
thither a vessel with a cargo of salt. Lord Palmerston answers,
** You ask me whether it woidd be for your advantage to engage
in a speculation in salt in the province of Wallachia," and tells
him that it is for commercial firms to judge for themselves
in determining " whether they shall enter into or decline
Qpmmercial speculations." Mr. Bell, now advised from the
Foreign Office, specifies : he asks, " whether or not Her
Majesty's Government recogni^ the Russian Blockade on
the Black Sea to the south of trie river Kouban ?" Now he
is referred to the " Gazette, in which all Notifications, such
€LS those alluded to hy you, are made." There having appeared
in the Gazette neither Notification of " Blockade," 7ior of
" Uestrictions," Mr. Bell is satisfied, and the Vixen sails.
Mr. BeU's brother is to go as supercargo, and he is sent to
Constantinople with despatches from the Foreign Office.
There he is informed by the Ambassador of the " Restric-
tions," but is told, *' that Russia had no right whatever to
p'escrihe rerjulations for that trade.'^ The vessel sailed, and
S20 THE DANUBE* AND EUXINE.
was seized for breaking the Blockade,* and confiscated on
the 2oth of Novemloer, 1836. On April 19, 1837, the,
Eussian Government is " requested to state the reasons on
account of which it has thought itself warranted to seize and
confiscate in time of peace, a merchant-vessel belonging to
British subjects." All specification of i\\Q place where this
seizure took place is avoided ; it is on the Black Sea. The
justificatory reasons, according to Lord Palmerston, are:
first, the receiving on board a cargo not allowed to be im-
ported at all ; second, an attempt to trade at a Russian port
where there is no custom-house. In the intemperate note
•demanding satisfaction, it had been forgotten to state where
this seizure, " in time of peace," had been made. In the
dignified despatch which closes the affair (23d May, 1837),
the English Government has discovered the spot where the
incident occurred, together with some curious historical points
"His Majesty's Government, considering, in the first
place, that Soujouk Kale, which ^t•as achiowledged by Russia,
in the Treaty of 1783 as a Turkish possession, now belongs
to Russia, as stated hy Count Nesselrode, by virtue of the
Treaty of Adrianople * * see no sufficient reason to ques-
tion the right of Eussia to seize and confiscate the Vixen"
Was it by an tmhitentlonal oversiglit that the Russian
*ate of 1783 (according to the old style), was substituted
for 1784, which must have appeared in any despatch ori-
ginally drafted in Downing Street ?
I have subjoined, at the end of the chapter, the complete
disproof of these assumptions. The then British Ambas-
sador, — as will be seen from the note at p. 318 — denied the
power of Turkey to dispose of Soujouk Kale to Russia fron?
•* the absence of any legitimate subjection to the Sultan
Besides, there was node facto possession, no less thanthirty-
• " Such documents as will prove that the schooner Vixen was
employed on a hlocTcaded coast" — Admiral Lazareff to Mr. Cliilds
December 24th, 1836.
BUSSIAN QUARANTINE. 321
six British subjects having offered testimony or nicide affi-
davit to the contra IT.
Now tear oif tlio lion's skin. "What, after the smoke has
blown away becomes public opinion — enliglitened age —
miglity engine the Press — great parties — constitutional me-
chanism — balance of powers — lloyal prerogative — res})onsi-
bility of Ministers — and omnipotence of Parliament ?
what, with such frauds standing in the place of truth, avails
physical strength ?
One, himself of no ordinary powers, who had had occasion
of making this discovery, observed : " "\Yliat shocks me, is
to think that whilst of us a very few can by any chance be
let into the knowledge of such thing?, and these few can
•only raise their hands in astonishment, or drop them in
despair — a barbarous race knew it all along, and deals with
■our vices.and illusions as with property."
We have passed through three ])hases, under three Ad-
ministrations, who, whatever their differences in speculative
matters, coincide in the manner of exercising the highest pre-
rogative of the Crown.
In the first period we see the English Minister binding
Russia to abnegation. In the second, placing conditions
to his co-operation, and reserving his judgment on her acts.
In the third, dependent on her forbearance, forced to yield,
and — to disguise. Of the grave events which marked the
iirst period. Parliament took no notice. It allowed the
surrender of the power of the Crown into the hands of a
foreign Conspiracy without one word of approval or dis-
approval. The second period, that of Russia's " separate
war," called forth only an incidental notice, in a debate on
Portugal, on the 1st of .Tuue, 1829, when the Government
was attacked for not being sufiiciently Russian. During
tlirce years. Parliamentary histoiy mns in a wholly separate
channel from the diplomatic and real. In the third period,
Parliament is awakened — why did it not sleep on ?
On the 17th of March, 1S37, Lord Paluierston declared
that Russia's acquisitions on the Danube and in Circassia were
323 THE DANUBE AND EUXINE.
violations of her pledges. Seven years and seven months had
then elapsed from the occupation of the Delta of the Danul e;
fixe years and four months from the notification in respect to
Circassia ; one year and four months from the admission of
the tolls on the Danube ; one year and three months from the
Ukase for the Quarantine. Since this declaration eighteen
years have elapsed without any steps being taken in con-
formity with it.
On the 6th of July, 1840, Lord Palmerston declared that
the Treaty of Vienna did apply to the navigation of the
Danube. I'our years and five months had then elapsed from
the communication of the Ukase ; four years and two months
from the assertion in reference to it, that Her Majesty's
government was not prepared to submit to any aggression ;
four years and one month from his commissioning a private
firm to resist the Russian authorities. Since that declaration
nearly fifteen years have elapsed without any steps having
been taken in accordance with this or any other declaration
of British rights or ministerial intentions.
The debate of the 6th of July, 1840, arose out of an
attempt to give effect to a tripartite Treaty proposed by
Austria, between herself, England, and Turkey, with a view
of overbearing the interference of Paissia in the Danube, and
which had been frustrated, as shall presently be detailed. It
is to meet this attempt that the minister brings in the Treaty
of Vienna. What more do you want ? says he. Have you
not got the Treaty of Vienna ? That Treaty forbids tolls,
forbids quarantines, and renders impossible aU usurpations.
Who could answer that question ? Mr. Patrick Stewart was
dead ; who recollected the Ukase of the 7th of February ?
Messrs. Bell & Co. had gone into the Gazette ! "Who recol-
lected the letter of marque of the 5th of May ?*
The Treaty of Adrianople is one day a bad treaty, and
* On the same occasion the minister assigned as the reason for
submitting to the infraction of the Treaty of Vienna at Cracow, the
inland position of the place, wliieh did not admit of the employment
of England's maritime strength.
RUSSIAN QUARANTINE. 323
another a good treaty.* It is bad when, by merely saying so,
a river may be sluit up ; it is good when a pretext is wanted
to enable a coast to be shut up. This facility of construction
belongs to a state of things in which a Parliament can one
day be disposed of, by telling them that a matter is under
discussion, and the next by telling them that it has been
These acquisitions have been made, notwithstanding the
declaration of Lord Aberdeen (6th of June, 18 28), that he
held his Imperial Majesty to the fullilment of the Treaty of
July. 1827 ;
Notwithstanding the protest of the King, that after the
war he reserved the right to judge of the sacrifices imposed
on Tm-key ;
Notwithstanding the address to the Crown to protect
British merchants in the Euxine against such usurpation,
(20th of April, 1836,) withdrawn because her ^lajesty's
government " concurred in the object, and was determined
to give it effect ;"
Notwithstanding the official sanction transmitted to a
private firm (5th of May, 1836), in resisting the liussian
authorities on that river ;
Notwithstanding the declaration of Lord Palmerston (17th
of Mai'ch, 1837,) that the acquisitions of Eussia were a
violation of EngKsh rights ;
Notwithstanding the declaration of Lord Palmerston, (6th
of July, 1840,), that the Treaty of Vienna applied to the
* " The Hon. and Learned Gentleman said, that the Earl of
Aberdeen protested against the Treaty of Adrianople ; but when ho
says that they did not a<jknowlcdge it as a part of the law of Europe,
he states that which is not borne out by liistorical facts. T/ier/ pro-
test against it. But does that amount to deni/inq that the Treaty is
valid, and that the rights conveyed by it are rights -vvhicli the con-
tracting parties are justified in enlorcmg and maintaining ? " &c. —
Lord Palmerston, Feb. 23cZ, 1848.
+ On the 17th of March, in one breath the Vixen papers were
refused because the matter was under discussion, and the Adrianople
papers because no longer under negotiation.
334 THE DANUBE AND EUXINE.
Danube, and forbade nny interference with it by any one
If any Government, lawfully in possession of their banks,
were to interfere with the navigation of the Elbe, or the Khine,
Europe M'ould be aroused from one extremity to another.
But what is the commerce of all the rivers of Europe com-
pared to that which might flow through tlie Danube ?
When this insolent robbery from Europe of its most im-
portant river was perpetrated, Kussia was exhausted by tlie
Turkish war, during which Austria had marshalled 200,000
men to oppose her ; Poland had not yet been subjugated ;
cordicdity reigned between England and France. That robbery
was formally adopted by the English minister, after an
interval of seven years, when England and France were
united in the most intimate alliance based on the necessity
of resisting her encroachments, tlie press of Europe was
ringing with denunciations of her perfidy and designs, and
the announcement of the increase of the Britisli Navy, * as
the reply to tlie speech at Warsaw, had been made amidst
the acclamations of Parliament and Nation. Such was the
moment seized for the perpetration of outrage, such as Spain
never dared under Phillip II, or France under Louis XIV.
* It was msmuated, indeed, at the time, iii Parliament, that tlie
augmentation was against France, but an explanation was offered to
the French gorernnient, and with the recommendation, so at least I
have been informed by M. Thiers, to augment its navy — with what
purpose the following passage may suggest. On the 1st of Marcli,
181-8, Lord Palmerston said : —
*' Of course, also, though I do not recollect the cu*cumstance as
baring happened in 1835, or 1836, the immense amount of the naval
preparation in France, must always form an element in taking into
account the means which England must possess," &o.
DOCUMENTS CONNECTED WITH THE CONFISCA-
TION OE THE VIXEN AND THE INDEPEND-
ENCE OF CmCASSIA.
Mil. J. S. BELL TO MR. URQUHAKT.
*'Pera, Nov. 2, 1836.
"Sir, — In consequence of your luiving referred me to
Lord Ponsonby for information respecting any legal impedi-
ment that might exist to prevent my projected trading voyage
to Cii'cassia, I proceeded to Therapia on Thursday last and
obtained an intcn-view with his Lordship.
** I now send you, according to your request, the enclosed
copy of the memorandum I took of the conversation that
passed between his Lordship and myself, a copy of which I
have transmitted to his Lordship also for his approval.
" I remain, Sir, your obedient humble servant,
•• D. Urquhart, Esq. James S. Bell."
"memorandum of interview "WITH lord ponsonby.
"On Thursday, the 27th of October, 1836, I proceeded to
Therapia, and having obtained an interview with Lord
Ponsonby, I begged of his Lordship to inform me if he were
aware of any legal impediment existing to prevent my making
a mercantile voyage to the coast of Circassia.
" His lordship in reply observed, that he had lately received
a renewal of the previous iutimation given by the Russian
Government as to trade M'ith that coast being interdicted,
except upon certain conditions. But that as he considered
that the Russian Government had no right whatever to pre-
scribe rules for that trade, he had not complied with the request
of the Charge d*x\fFaires to hav^ such notice intimated to our
Consul at Constantinople, but had sent a copy of the intima-
tion to the Foreign Office i-j London, from which he had not
received any communication on the subject.
** I then informed his Lordship that it was my intention to
proceed in a vessel I expected daily, to a certain point on the
coast of Circassia, which I had fixed upon as most eligible
for the trade I had in view] and that as I had ascertained
326 THE DANUBE AND EUXINE.
before leaving* London tliat our Government did not then
acknowledge any right on the part of Eussia to impede trade
Tvith the country in question ; and as nothing seemed to have
since occurred to change the position of affairs; I should
epdeavour to attain the object I had in view, and should not
be diverted from it unless force were employed on the part of
the Russian Government, and hoped to obtain his Lordship's
aid in so doing.
" Li reply to this his Lordship stated, that he perfectly
coincided in the propriety of the plan I had adopted, to which,
he had no objection whatever to offer, as he considered it an
indisputable point that Russia had no right to interfere with
or prescribe rules for British trade with Circassia -, and that>
if I adhered to the straightforward course I had detailed to
him, he had no doubt of my being enabled to establish a
claim for support from the British Government, in which he
would be glad to render me all the assistance in his power,
requesting me at the same time to transmit him information
as to what success attended my enterprise.
mr. stiiangw^^ys to mr. urquhart.
(Extract). Foreign Office, Wl Feb.
'* I cannot omit alluding to the capture of the Vixen with-
out telling you that it has had all the effect on the public
that you could have anticipated, and even more than I
expected, knowing the temper of the people here. It is now
under legal and Government discussion, so I need say no
more. Bell's statements and liis brother's documents tell
Tery well for him.
" As the public here are very obtuse on foreign matters,
et ilfautfaireJiecJie de tout hois, I wish w^hen the coast is cleared,
which I hope it will be by this business, you could send some
ai'tist, or better, a gentleman who can draw and write travels,
&c., to make a tour in Circassia ; it would do admirably for
London and be well got up here.
" I should warn you. that in giving any accounts of the
Vixen transaction, yon may be liable to misrepresentation, as
it would not be thought proper, if, being Secretary of Em-
bassy, you had incited Mr. J. Bell to make the voyage as a
diplomatic experiment ; I can answer for its having been the
intention of Mr. G. Bell long before in London. This hint
jBomes from high authority."
VISCOUNT PALME BSTON TO MR. URQUHART,
(Extract). " March 10th, 1837.
" The present communication [Mr. U.'s recall] is founded
upon your letter of the 7th of December last, to Mr. Strang-
■ways, which I have latt'ly had under my consideration. It
appears by that letter, you took steps with respect to Mr.
Bell's voynge in the Fiveii, which, I regret to say, were in my
opinion wholly incompatible with your public duty as a
diplomatic sen'ant of the Crown; and I should not think
myself properly performing ray own duty, if, after a knowledge
of such circumstance, I were to continue you in the situation
which you now hold."
VISCOUNT PALMERSTON TO MR. URQUHART.
(Extract) ''June 30, 1838.
*' You say in your letter that having up to the moment of
your conversation with me considered the voyage of the Vixoi
as a Government measure, and as one which I looked upon
with peculiar interest and with great expectation of national
benefit, you are naturally surprised beyond expression at the
views which I then expressed to you upon that subject. Now,
I think that I may be justified in expressing, in my turn, some
considerable surprise at this passage in your letter ; because
wliile, on the one hand, I am quite sure that nothing which I
ever said or did could justify you or any other man in form-
ing the opinion which in this passage you express of my view
of the voyage of the Viceu ; on the other hand, my private
letter to you, dated 10th of March, 1837, and which you
received before you left Constantinople, and therefore long
before our conversation in Downing Street, was calculated, as
it seems to me, to have efl'ectually dispelled any illusion
which other persons might have created in your mind on
MR. URQUHART TO MR. BACKHOUSE.
(Extract) ''July 20a, 1838.
" Who were the parties who could have misled me ? The
only persons with whom I had communication upon this
subject were, his late Majesty ; Sir Herbert Taylor, his
Majesty's Private Secretary; Mr. M'NeiU, Envoy to Persia;
Mr. Strang ways, Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs ; and
(by letter) Lord Pousonby : added to the positive approval
328 THE DANUBE AND EUXINE.
of Lord Palmerstoii of my own reports and published paper?
on the subject, and of ' every •word ' that had appeared in the
Portfolio. If Lord Pahnerston has considered my conduct in
this respect as reprehensible, I have made no remonstrance
against such decision ; but when his Lordship sanctions in
Lord Poiisonby the active and official approval of an enter-
prise, and punishes rae for encouragement of a pri\'ate kind
given to it — when he punishes me in the month of March
for what he pretends to approve of in the month of January
— when he denounces me as a traitor to my country, while