ePub 版

later days, perhaps, when the treasures of love are spent, and the kind hand cold which ministered them, that we remember how tender it was; how soft to soothe; how eager to shield; how ready to support and caress. The ears may no longer hear, which would have received our words of thanks so delightedly. Let us hope those fruits of love, though tardy, are yet not all too late; and though we bring our tribute of reverence and gratitude, it may be to a grave stone, there is an acceptance even there for the stricken heart's oblation of fond remorse, contrite memories, and pious tears. I am thinking of the love of Clive Newcome's father for him (and, perhaps, young reader, that of yours and mine for ourselves); how the old man lay awake, and devised kindnesses, and gave his all for the love of his son; and the young man took, and spent, and slept, and made merry. Did we not say at our tale's commencement that all stories were old? Careless prodigals and anxious elders have been from the beginning; and so may love, and repentance, and forgiveness endure even to the end.

To find room for morceaux of this kind, omission may be made, without much compunction, of comment on the novelist's salient points as satirist and humorist of the first order. Page after page too might (but must not) be filled with notes upon minor particulars for which he is note-worthy; his unique talent for imitating female correspondence; his skill in the home-manufacture of broken English; his truthful portraiture of children "to the life "—so different from the boy and girl idealities typified in Mrs. Stowe's preterperfect Eva, and Miss Yonge's preterpluperfect Johnnie; his almost intuitive interpretation of the real life that underlies the factitious, in good society; his familiarity with the carte of a Russell-square dinner, and the et cætera of a Belgrave belle's full dress; his

But hark! Methought I heard a voice cry, Write no more. Askest thou, curious reader, the whence and why of that abrupt warning? 'Tis the imprecation (deprecation I mean) of the evil ayyedos of the pressthe loud and long-drawn-out suspirium, de profundis (from the bottom of the staircase I mean), of that "sad boy," the Printer's Devil. No other summons, gentlest of gentle readers, could or should avail at this juncture to separate so rudely 'twixt thee and me; but there is demoniac agency in the case.

I hear a voice you cannot hear,
Which says I must not stay-
I see a
hand you cannot see
Which beckons me away-

the voice being that of the husky, dusky imp aforesaid, and the hand his outstretched, unsightly, unwashed, ink-and-dust-and-dirt-begrimed paw. The one hoarsely bawls "Time's up!"-the other is inexorably held out for "copy."

"Welcome, little stranger!" smiles one reader. "Don't keep him waiting," sneers a second. "Better late than never," snores a third.



To the monarch who laid the foundation of the French Revolution, in attempting to realise dreams of false grandeur under grievous popular oppression, are we indebted for the perfecting of what is called "diplomacy." Under the present advanced state of the popular mind this system of strategic action in negotiation, established in the early part of the eighteenth century, remains little altered throughout Europe. The evil genius of the age, with false pleas of its convenience and long usage, has not suffered it wholly to depart with other relics of the time of Louis XIV., however desirable for the sake of common honesty in political affairs. It should have perished with the downfal of the race to which it owed its existence. The deformities of diplomacy, or the wiles and stratagems of the art, in their ripeness under the house of Bourbon, so far from exciting reprobation, were esteemed clever methods to win advantages over opponents of integrity and plain dealing. The art did not affect to tolerate knavery unless the knave was of its own selection. It had recourse to truth most frequently when it would aid a profitable falsehood. Born of chicane and nurtured by deception, it yet exists, almost the only remnant of a period in modern history for which humanity has cause to blush.

We indulge the hope that our own diplomatists, while they find it inconvenient to abandon the past to the letter,-in other words, to say "yea" and "nay" in replication where the matter is clear as the noonday sun, practising evasion for its own sake, and qualified negation for the sake of delay, if with no other object, fully justified by precedent and custom, connived at, although not exactly tolerated by sound moral principle, we indulge the hope that our own diplomatists make use at present only of the fragments of the original system, though we confess we do not know how this is to be achieved where the gift of speech is not alone given to conceal the thoughts, but to falsify them. It may be otherwise; every era has its marvels.

Why should negotiation between nations be clothed in ambiguity and plain dealing be shunned? Why should the transactions which involve the fortune of empire remain closet affairs, to be resolved only in the memoirs of courtiers or ministers of state at periods when the actors in the farces or tragedies, whichever they may happen to be, can neither hear their own praises nor the anathemas that blacken their dust? In England, it is true, parliament demands the public documents between courts. We are speaking of diplomacy in general; but even here all is mystery till it is too late to administer a remedy to an error. We cannot imagine why the ministers of any country cannot, taking time for consideration, decide definitively in council how far it becomes them to advance or recede upon any negotiable question, and, in place of a wearisome waste of words and reams of correspondence, state their resolve and have done with it. Protocols and perplexing documents, ambiguity and cypher, are the

artillery of diplomacy. Now as to cypher. If we wanted a picture of the mode of debating, corresponding, delaying, concealing, and mystifying in state affairs with foreign courts, that of the cypher would represent in itself the peculiar graces and leading features of the art in the foreign department of every European country. It would be a worthy representative of the whole art, its secrecy, hidden correspondence, duplicity, and violations of public and private confidence. So essential is it to political curiosity to discover secrets, that it is not without precedent to practise revolting crimes for the purpose, by waylaying the envoys of neighbouring states, butchering them, and carrying off their despatches. This was done by Austria at Radstadt, within remembrance. Whether an open policy would not be safer and more useful to nations, we shall not attempt to discuss; that it would be more honourable, moral, and becoming the rulers of enlightened and powerful empires, cannot be doubted. It is from the natural tendency of Englishmen to speak their minds boldly, a habit generated by a free constitution, that they are so often outwitted by their neighbours in their negotiations.

We have just observed that the practice of communicating by cypher is a true picture of diplomacy, not merely with the view of simple concealment, but of mystification. Decent Roman letters could be read, so could German, or Greek, or Arabic characters. Recourse is had, therefore, to cyphers, or to characters. It is not enough that communications are conveyed by special messengers, and delivered hand to hand, the entire verbiage of the instructions and documents must be written in cypher, and the cypher be continually changed. This might be useful to puzzle the post-offices in which there is an establishment for the dishonest purpose of opening letters, reading, copying, and resealing them, when there is any suspicion about their contents-steam being used for wafers, dry heat for wax, the impression of the seal being first taken by a peculiar process. Nothing is thought of the delay of a single post should it occur, which it does not, unless there is pressure upon the employés at the moment. Those to whom letters are addressed little think their epistles are read, and, perhaps, copied for the police. Letters in cypher render the delay greater in private correspondence, but decipherers are kept to read them. The Foreign Office documents are sent by messengers in England, so called; or in France and Germany by couriers, besides being in cypher. Expresses are called estafettes on the Continent when thus despatched. The use of the cypher amid scenes of warfare is obvious-but we must not dilate. Referring, therefore, to the Foreign Office. Upon the departure of an ambassador he takes from the office, for the purpose of mystification and secret correspondence, three documents. One of these is divided into columns, marked with the letters of the alphabet adopted, and the syllables, words, or phrases most likely to be used in the course of the negotiation with which he is entrusted. To these are also affixed the names of the sovereigns, kingdoms, or republics, and principal ministers of each. The last or third column contains the secret writing of the Foreign Office, designating the numbers of the cyphers or characters used, by being attached to each letter, word, or phrase, as their signification. Cyphers sometimes stand for letters, words, or whole phrases; the key being in the hands of the corresponding parties. Tables of nouns,

verbs, and phrases, with their initial letters, are prepared for the correspondent, different numbers being employed to designate the same word, in order, in case of accident, that it may be more difficult to decipher the document. No ordinary letters are used, for fear they should aid in deciphering. The words are distinguished by a point, in order that they may be read by their terminations

The decipherer shows in one column all the numbers of which the deciphering cypher is composed in their natural order. The next column contains the word, phrase, or letter designated. When a despatch is to be deciphered, the signification of the first number is sought, and the word it means written over it, the figures being set wide apart. The figures may refer as well to corresponding cyphers. So far everything appears simple and honest enough, but as the words of diplomatists are used to conceal their thoughts, so their cyphers are not only used to conceal their words, but to betray those who pry into their secrets. If an employé be tempted, yet honest, he mentions the reward he has been offered to furnish the key. He is directed to take the bribe for useful intelligence, and to proceed as usual. The corrupter is then made the victim of his attempt to corrupt. The minister writes, suppose to an ambassador, the reverse of his real meaning, and of what he would communicate. He then affixes a sign or character to the despatch, which sign is always privately arranged before the departure of the ambassador. This, called the "annulling," or "negative" sign, not only annuls all in the despatch as it stands, but indicates that it must be understood in an opposite sense. Sometimes a partially false key is sent, which causes the corrupter to run into all kinds of error. The true despatch, in such cases, is always sent by a special messenger, or in some indirect manner. There are upon record, in some cabinets, details of various modes of diplomatic cheating in this way which would half fill a volume. Sometimes ambassadors are despatched from home all with different cyphers. Among themselves, the correspondence is carried on by what is diplomatically denominated a "cypher bannal," arranged on the same plan as the office cyphers, but with totally different characters. This secret correspondence not only serves to aid in overreaching another, but it constitutes a latent mode of conveying at times very mischievous communications to dally with, or delay, or conclude negotiations, as it may happen, when the negotiating parties are not all well informed, or some intervening point gives one party an advantage. The present Bolgrad affair was no doubt managed in St. Petersburg, the inexplicable geographical ignorance of the Allies giving the Russians a fair diplomatic opportunity to avail themselves of a fact to the letter; and one fact in favour of anything in diplomacy is worth a hundred declarations of intention. "You did not specify what Bolgrad you intended, as you should have done," say the Russians; 66 we have a right to give up one place of that name and no more." As to Russian maps, forged for the purpose of deception, no one can believe it. The allied plenipotentiaries or agents were geographically ignorant a thing quite common. Last war we sent fine armies to invade kingdoms, and the staff had not a map of the country invaded among them. It is sheer ignorance in those who are entrusted with similar duties that causes the mischief, as it causes most other mis

chiefs. How comes it that private individuals do not commit such errors in their concerns?

But it is admitted beyond question, that in diplomacy as in love all advantages are to be taken. Honour is a chimera in a political art which, affecting to provide for the safety of the state by means of friendly connexions with independent powers, through the formation of treaties the performance of which can never be ensured, takes advantage of any means to the end. The avowed object is always laudable, such as an attention to the interests of any state with those on friendly terms, to obtain information political or commercial, or gain some concession. To this end a knowledge of the actual relative state of nations is useful to form the basis of negotiations. The agents, too, should be exceedingly well instructed persons, of sound judgment, enlightened minds, discreet, possessing the necessary firmness, and gentlemanly and open in manner. We take it this is not the case with many who bear the title of ambassadors from some countries, and that the Foreign Office minister here has to furnish some of them with aides from his own staff to enable them to carry out their duties to his satisfaction.

But the stratagems of diplomacy which were perfected in the last century do not belong to the art itself in its pristine state, which respected only ambassadors and envoys who were privileged by the mutual consent of nations in order to keep up friendly relations. The intrigues, duplicity, and vices of diplomacy were subsequent introductions, which reached their highest point, as before observed, under the Bourbon family in France. The French have been celebrated for their cleverness in diplomacy, having almost always outwitted us in negotiation, and when chid for the want of directness in the means they adopted, pleading that their fate was too hard for their virtue. Talleyrand was the first French diplomatist of recent times-to be admired, perhaps, rather than imitated, even by those not over-scrupulous in the practice of the art. His skilfulness in protracting, and rapidity in concluding, a negotiation, were remarkable. At present, the Russians seem to repose more trust in the effects of their diplomacy than any other European state; but they are too bold in its display to succeed. Their designs are not well wrapped up. Their confidence in their national strength renders them sometimes careless of disguise. We suspect they have much open courage, which makes them too free with those small, untenable pleas which mar points of greater importance. Their claim to Serpent Island, from its untenable character, weakens that to Bolgrad, in which, we think, they have the best of the business. They were not bound to set France and England right, but to obtain every advantage that a worsted party could do. The general character of diplomacy is to outwit and cheat. Indirectness is a useful ally, and not to be spurned. The evident intention of a treaty concluded with an omission such as that of defining Bolgrad, can have nothing to do with the treaty after the signature of both parties is affixed. There is the fact against the allegation, which is everything.

Serpent Island belongs to Turkey as the Eddystone belongs to Cornwall. Let us imagine Dartmouth, Plymouth, Loo, and Fowey to be to many mouths of a great river; to those entrances, or some of them, the distance is about nineteen or twenty miles. The Eddystone is,

« 上一頁繼續 »