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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Commissions of inquiry were now sent to the Crimea


[Sidenote:

Aberdeen's Ministry defeated]

"Never, perhaps, had a government been more decisively defeated. When the numbers were announced, the House seemed to be surprised, and almost stunned by its own act. There was no cheering; but for a few moments a dead silence, followed by a burst of derisive laughter. The Ministers of course resigned."

[Sidenote: Palmerston, Premier]

Lord John Russell and Lord Derby, each in turn, tried to form a Ministry, but both failed. Lord Palmerston was then called in, and succeeded in rallying a Cabinet composed largely of the members of the old Administration. Thus Lord Granville, Earl Grey, the Duke of Argyll, Lord Clarendon and William E. Gladstone were retained. The chief change was the appointment of Lord Panmure to take the place of the Duke of Newcastle as Secretary of War. Lord Panmure, better known as Fox Maule, had already served as Minister of War during the six years of Lord Russell's administration, and had shown himself thoroughly capable in that post. Commissions of inquiry were now sent to the Crimea. At the same time diplomatic conferences were reopened at Vienna.

[Sidenote: Cavour's master-stroke]

The evident insincerity of Count Buol stirred up a hornet's nest of indignation. The people of England and France became incensed as they saw that Austria showed no inclination

to fight. Prussia flatly refused to assist Austria in any warlike undertaking. Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia took advantage of the situation to join the allies. On April 21 he sent 15,000 men to the Crimea.

During the diplomatic parleys of the Powers, the siege of Sebastopol wearily dragged along. The commissariat and land-transport systems broke down. The armies were weakened by cholera, cold, and starvation. Negotiations for peace were set on foot by Austria. A conference was opened at Vienna under promising auspices.

[Sidenote: Death of Emperor Nicholas]

[Sidenote: The Four Points]

Czar Nicholas, with whom the war was a personal grievance, died on March 2--of pulmonary apoplexy, reported the physicians--of bitter disappointment and despair, claimed his people. His son, Alexander II., peace-loving as he was known to be, did not venture to show himself less of a true Russian than his father. The Conference proved a failure. Lord John Russell, England's representative, was instructed to insist upon the admission of Turkey into the Concert of Powers. To secure this end, four principal points were to be considered, now famous under the name of the Four Points--the fate of the Danube principalities, the free navigation of the Danube, the limitation of Russian supremacy in the Black Sea, and the preservation of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. The attempt to limit Russia's supremacy in the Black Sea was the chief point upon which the Powers could not agree.

[Sidenote: Changes at the front]

The operations in the Crimea were vigorously renewed. Lord Raglan died and was succeeded by General Simpson. Long before him, old Marshal St. Arnaud was carried away by disease. His post was taken by Canrobert, who afterward resigned in favor of Pelissier. On August 16, the Russians under Liprandi made a desperate effort to raise the siege by an attack on the allies. The assault was made on the French divisions and on the Sardinian contingent. Liprandi was foiled. Northern Italy was in a delirium of joy when the news came that the banner of Piedmont had been carried to victory over a great Power, side by side with the flag of France. The far-sightedness of Cavour's audacious policy was now fully appreciated.


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