Front Page Titles (by Subject) 421.: THE TREATY OF 1856  THE TIMES, 19 NOV., 1870, P. 5 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV
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421.: THE TREATY OF 1856  THE TIMES, 19 NOV., 1870, P. 5 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV, ed. Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson, Introduction by Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986).
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THE TREATY OF 1856 
On 31 Oct., 1870, the Russian government issued a declaration repudiating the neutralization of the Black Sea required by the Treaty of Paris of 1856. The declaration, sent by Prince Gortschakoff to Baron Bunnow, was communicated to Earl Granville on 9 Nov. (see “The Treaty of 1856: Prince Gortschakoff’s Note,” The Times, 18 Nov., p. 3). The action caused a war scare in England. Mill sent this letter to The Times through Leonard Courtney (see LL, CW, Vol. XVII, p. 1775), who was a leader writer for The Times, and may have been responsible for leading articles on 16, 17, and 19 November professing the attitudes to which Mill was objecting. In her continuation of Mill’s Autobiography, Helen Taylor says this and the following letter (No. 422) “were called forth by a cry, that arose at that time in a portion of the English press, for plunging England into a war with Russia. They were the first protest that appeared in any well known name against such a war; they called forth others and helped calm down the warlike excitement that was being aroused.” (CW, Vol. I, p. 626.) Mill’s “Treaty Obligations” in December took up the same issues (CW, Vol. XXI, pp. 341-8), as does No. 423. This letter, headed “Mr. Mill on the Treaty of 1856,” with the subhead, “To the Editor of The Times,” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A letter in the Times of Nov. 19, 1870 on the threatened war with Russia”
(MacMinn, p. 99).
Without wishing, at least for the present, to discuss the character of the declaration just made by the Russian Government—a discussion which would raise questions, both moral and political, more intricate and difficult than people seem to be aware of—may I hope from your impartiality that you will allow expression to be given through your columns to the opinion of at least one Englishman, which he believes to be shared by multitudes of his countrymen, that for England to let herself be drawn into war by this provocation or on this account would be nothing less than monstrous.
This is not the doctrine of a partisan of peace at any price. Had we, at the first breaking out of the present hateful war,1 declared that whichever nation first invaded the territory of the other should have England also for its foe, we should, at an extremely small risk to ourselves, in all human probability have prevented the war, and perhaps given commencement to a new era in the settlement of international differences. To effect this great good to humanity and to public morals, we did not choose to incur a mere chance of being involved in a war, and in my opinion we were wrong, and have exposed ourselves to the just recriminations of the suffering people—I do not speak of the governments—of Germany and France. Were we now to plunge into a war infinitely more dangerous to ourselves, and for which we are materially speaking totally unprepared, those among us who are the causes of our so doing will, in my judgment, deserve and receive the execration of the people of England.
The honour of England is not concerned either in the protection of Turkey or in the humiliation of Russia. Treaties are not made to be eternal, and before we go to war for the maintenance of one it behoves the nation at least to consider whether it would enter into it afresh at the present day.2 We should have learnt little, indeed, from the spectacle that has been going on before our eyes during the last four months if we allow our journalists to hurry us into a war under the plea of honour, merely because of the manner or the form in which Russia has thought fit to throw off an obligation the substance of which we all admit we ought to be ready to reconsider.
I am, &c.,
[1 ]The Franco-Prussian War had broken out on 14 July, 1870.
[2 ]The Treaty of Paris, “General Treaty between Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia, and Turkey, for the Re-establishment of Peace,” PP, 1856, LXI, 1-34.