BRITAIN AND THE RECONSTRUCTION OF EUROPE
BY C. K. WEBSTER, LITT.D.
PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS IN THE UNIVERSITY OF WALES
FELLOW OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY
G. BELL AND SONS, LTD.
TO MY FATHER, DANIEL WEBSTER, FOR WHOSE AFFECTION AND FRIENDSHIP I CAN NEVER BE SUFFICIENTLY GRATEFUL
Printed in Great Britain by NEILL & Co., LTD., EDINBURGH.
WITH this volume I have completed a project begun over twenty years ago of describing the foreign policy of Britain during the period when Castlereagh directed it. The volume on the later period of the European Alliance, 1815-22, was published first, partly because I had already given some account of the previous period in the Congress of Vienna ( 1919) and in the first volume of the Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy. But in neither of these was it possible for me to aim at completeness or to display all the evidence on which the narrative rested, and I have been able to obtain from the Londonderry Papers, which have since been opened to me, much new information. A period of such supreme importance in British relations to European affairs seemed, in any case, to merit an attempt to describe it in the light of all the available evidence.
The most important evidence was in the Foreign Office Papers in the Record Office. These had been used by many historians, both British and foreign, but large portions of them had never been surveyed, and they had never been considered as a whole. I have tried to convey an impression produced by an intensive study of them all, but my task has, of course, been made much easier by the labours of those who have preceded me.
The archives of the foreign Powers are not so important for British diplomacy in this period as in that of the Alliance. For the first two years there were few foreign representatives in London, and in 1814-15 Castlereagh was for long periods in personal contact with the principal sovereigns and statesmen of Europe. Since these were concentrated in one place there was no need, as Metternich has pointed out in his memoirs, for a record to be made of their conversations. The archives in the foreign capitals do not, therefore, contain documents of the same value as the Record Office. Still, in the reports of the Ambassadors there is often evidence on the attitude of the Foreign Minister and the Cabinet which can be obtained from no other source. I was also able to supplement the imperfect information of the archives of the Great Powers by those of three smaller Courts. These papers had also been used by many historians, but not for my purpose.
A large part of this material was collected before the War, but I have been able more recently to complete my researches in the Record Office and to see once more the archives at Vienna, Paris, and Berlin, as well as to visit Dresden and Munich. Hanover and Petersburg 1 I visited in 1913.
The Londonderry Papers contained many letters which Castlereagh's brother had, either by accident or design, omitted from the collection which he edited. In some cases also letters had been altered. Those of Castlereagh to his wife were not then available. Though these last reveal the man as no others do, they do not deal much with public affairs. The most interesting of this period are those during his mission to the Continent in the first part of the year 1814, and a selection of these are given in Appendix A. The capitalisation and punctuation have been modernised in them, as in all the other documents of the period used by me.
Perhaps the most important of the new letters are those of Liverpool to Castlereagh during the mission to the Continent in 1814. Unlike those of a later date they are not to be found in the Wellington Supplementary Despatches, and for some reason they have been omitted from both the Castlereagh Correspondence and the Life of Lord Liverpool by Yonge. A number of them have, therefore, been printed in Appendix B.
Those of Castlereagh to Sir Charles Stuart in 1815 illustrate an aspect of his policy hitherto not sufficiently appreciated, and a selection has therefore been given in Appendix C. Much other evidence, especially in letters to and from the Earl
1 I have used this name to describe the modern capital of Russia in this book since it was in common use during the period under review, omitting, however, the word Saint which so often accompanied it.
of Clancarty and Lord Stewart, too intimate to be found in the Foreign Office archives, will be found quoted in the narrative.
George IV.'s papers, in the Royal Archives at Windsor, are fragmentary. There are not many on foreign policy, but they supplied some interesting and occasionally important details on the domestic situation which affected it, especially on the formation of the Liverpool Ministry. Amongst the most illuminating documents of the period are the reports to the Prince Regent and other correspondence of Count Münster, the principal Minister of Hanover. Some of these had been printed by his son, others were to be found in the Record Office or in the Hanover Staats-Archiv. There were a few others, however, of an intimate nature at Windsor, and some of these as well as one from Hanover are given in Appendix D, while others are quoted in the text. Münster's French was peculiar to himself, but the meaning is generally clear enough. Throughout the book French is translated, except for a few obvious phrases, but in the Appendix Münster's dispatches have been left in their original French except that the capitalisation and punctuation have been modernised and some accents altered.
The papers of Sir Robert Wilson in the British Museum have been utilised, not so much for their own sake as because he was a principal source of information to Earl Grey and other leaders of the Opposition.
The total quantity of this material is hardly less than that of the longer period of the Alliance, while the amount of printed material is, of course, much larger. The task of displaying the necessary evidence was, therefore, more formidable. It was lightened somewhat by the fact that I had printed a number of the important dispatches in the Record Office in my British Diplomacy, 1813-15, but I have tried to illustrate the narrative by frequent quotation so far as space allowed. References to secondary works in a period which has been studied by so many historians have had to be sparingly made where some special need arose. My obligations to such writers as Sorel, Fournier, Oncken, Fyffe, and Holland Rose, to mention no others, are, of course, immense. Even as it is the notes have had to be made rather fuller than for the period of the Alliance, because the sources are more numerous and because the diplomacy is more complicated.
A bibliography of the period, if it had attempted completeness, would have been very bulky, but I have indicated in the notes those books and articles which have specially dealt with various aspects of British policy.
Of no period in history can it perhaps be said that no new material will be forthcoming sufficiently important to change radically previous conceptions. It seems likely, however, that there will be few important additions to that now made available for this part of Castlereagh's career, and that it is possible to make those provisional judgments which are necessary for the understanding of it.
The process is all the more necessary for the period of Reconstruction, because it is the only one which bears any comparison with that of our time. Indeed, while I was present at the Paris Conference of 1919 the analogues of this period were necessarily always present in my mind. But I have refused in this book to make comparisons or in any way to allow them to affect the character or form of the book. Such deductions should be left to special studies of a different character.
The sub-title of the book has been strictly construed, and I have left out of it altogether British policy towards the United States. It was kept entirely separate from European affairs, and Castlereagh had only a small share in the negotiations which led to the Treaty of Ghent, while to have given the whole story on the same scale as the rest of the book would have added greatly to its length. I may perhaps return to it in a separate study of Anglo-American relations. The Colonial settlement, on the other hand, was so much part of the European settlement that I have had to trace its course to a certain extent.
I have to acknowledge much help and advice in the preparation of the book. I must express my deep obligation to His Majesty, the King, for permission to use the papers of George IV. in the Royal Archives at Windsor. I am very grateful to the Rev. Albert Lee, then the Recorder of the Archives, and to Miss Mackenzie, who gave me most valuable guidance and help of various kinds. I owe a special debt of gratitude to the Marquess of Londonderry, who not only allowed me access to all his papers without restriction of any kind, but has taken a great interest in the book and helped it forward in various ways. The portraits of Castlereagh and his wife are taken by his permission from those at Londonderry House, and it was by his suggestion that there was added to them the view of the Temple of the Winds, which commemorates an early episode in Castlereagh's career.
To the officials of the Record Office my debt extends over a long period of years, especially to Mr. Hubert Hall and Mr. Headlam. I have had similar kindnesses from those in charge of the papers at Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Petersburg, Munich, Dresden, and Hanover. The time that can be devoted to researches in the archives is limited, and much depends on being able to utilise it to full advantage. It is only the invariable courtesy and assistance of these learned officials which makes fruitful work possible.
I also owe much to the advice and encouragement which many historians have given me in the course of the last twenty years. The late Professor Schiemann of Berlin, and my friend, the late Commandant M. H. Weil of Paris, gave me information on many points. I had also many discussions with the late Professor Fournier of Vienna, who was then engaged in the preparation of his work on the Congress, which unfortunately he did not live to write. His knowledge of the actors and events of the great drama was unrivalled, and he put it at my disposal with a generosity for which I shall always be deeply grateful. I owe thanks also to Professor A. F. Pribram of Vienna, while Professor Marczali of Buda-Pesth was kind enough to give me a copy of an unpublished letter of Metternich.
All my work owes much to my friend, Professor H. W. V. Temperley, who has always placed his unrivalled knowledge of British diplomacy unreservedly at my disposal. I owe a great debt also to my colleague, Mr Sydney Herbert, who has not only read all the proofs and saved me from many blunders, but has compiled the index. Miss Morris, Secretary of the
Department of International Politics, has assisted me in technical details. Several of my pupils in my seminars at Harvard University gave me valuable help by their researches.
To my publishers, who have always shewn the greatest interest and sympathy during the long period I have taken to complete our contract, I also owe warm thanks. I am very grateful for the consideration and kindness always shewn by my friends at Morben Issa, where most of this book was written.
Lastly, this volume, as the previous one, could not have been produced without the never-ceasing help of my wife.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
NOTE ON THE SYSTEM OF REFERENCES xiv
I. BRITAIN AT WAR: THE ELEMENTS OF RECONSTRUCTION 1
1. The Training of a Statesman 3
2. The Formation of the Liverpool Ministry 18
3. Court, Cabinet, Parliament, and Public Opinion 28
4. The Foreign Minister and the Diplomatic Machine 44 5. The Legacy of Pitt 53
II. THE TURN OF THE TIDE:
RECONSTRUCTION FORESHADOWED, 1812 65
1. The Mediterranean Area 67
(i) The Peninsula 67
(ii) Sicily 74
(iii) The Near East 86
2. The Rising of the North 92
3. Relations with Prussia and Austria 103
III. THE LAST COALITION:
RECONSTRUCTION MADE POSSIBLE, 1813 117
1. The Subsidy Treaties with Sweden, Russia, and Prussia 119
2. The Armistice and Austria 135
3. First Attempt at an Alliance 154
4. The Frankfort Proposals 166
IV. FROM COALITION TO ALLIANCE: RECONSTRUCTION
PLANNED, JANUARY-APRIL, 1814 191
1. Castlereagh's Mission to the Continent 193
2. The Treaty of Chaumont 211
3. The Restoration of the Bourbons 233
4. Bentinck and Murat 253
V. THE FIRST PEACE OF PARIS:
RECONSTRUCTION BEGUN, APRIL-AUGUST, 1814 261
1. The Treaties with France 263
2. Attempts at Reconstruction 277
(i) At Paris 277
(ii) At London 288
3. Preliminary Settlements and Discussions 297
(i) The Netherlands 297
(ii) Norway 306
(iii) Spain 309
(iv) Italy 313
(v) General 318
VI. THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA I:
THE CRISIS OF RECONSTRUCTION,
SEPTEMBER 1814-JANUARY 1815 325
1. The Personnel and Procedure 327
2. Castlereagh as Mediator 342
3. The Secret Treaty 362
VII. THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA II:
JANUARY-JUNE, 1815 377
1. The Reconstruction of Central Europe 379
2. The Settlement of Italy 397
3. The Abolition of the Slave Trade.
General Questions 413
4. The Guarantee of the New Europe 427
VIII. THE SECOND PEACE OF PARIS:
MARCH-NOVEMBER, 1815 435
1. The Second Restoration 437
2. The Punishment of France 457
3. From Guarantee to Conference 479
4. Castlereagh and Reconstruction 485
A. Letters from Castlereagh to his Wife, 1814 503
B. Letters from Lord Liverpool to Castlereagh, 1814 510
C. Letters from Castlereagh to Sir Charles Stuart, 1815 544
D. Reports from Count Münster to the Prince Regent, 1814-15 551
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
ROBERT STEWART, VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH Frontispiece
From the portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence in the collection
of The Most Hon. the Marquess of Londonderry, K.G.
THE TEMPLE OF THE WINDS Facing page 4
NORTH CRAY COTTAGE, KENT " " 5
EMILY, VISCOUNTESS CASTLEREAGH " " 8
From the portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence in the collection
of The Most Hon. the Marquess of Londonderry, K.G.
NOTE ON THE SYSTEM OF REFERENCES
I. UNPUBLISHED OFFICIAL SOURCES
i. The Foreign Office papers in the Record Office are referred to by the name of the country and the number of the volume (e.g. F.O. Russia, 83). The numbers allotted to each series in the List of Foreign Office Records have been omitted. The number of the dispatch is only given occasionally where it seemed necessary for identification.
ii. The papers in the Archives des affaires étrangères at Paris are identified by the reference Paris A.A.E. They are from the series Angleterre and France. The number of the volume and folio have been given since there is a complete classification of all the papers (e.g. Paris A.A.E. France, 673, ff. 47-48).
iii. In the other archives the papers are generally not bound, and the classification is hardly sufficiently detailed to make it worth while to give specific reference. The documents are therefore only identified by the writer and recipient, date, and a reference to the various archives under the following heads which explain themselves: Vienna St. A., Pet. Arch., Berlin St. A., Hanover St. A., Munich St. A., Dresden St. A.
II. UNPUBLISHED UNOFFICIAL SOURCES
i. Windsor Arch. is used to denote references to the papers of George IV. in the Royal Archives at Windsor.
ii. Lond, MSS. is used to denote the papers in the archives of the Marquess of Londonderry at Londonderry House.
iii. Wilson MSS. is used to denote the papers of Sir Robert Wilson in the Additional Manuscripts at the British Museum. In this case the number of the volume and the folio is given (e.g. Wilson MSS. 30120, ff. 132, 137).
III. PUBLISHED SOURCES
Abbreviations have been used to denote seven collections to which many references have been made. i. C. C. =Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh. Edited by his brother the third Marquess of Londonderry. 12 vols. London 1848-53.
ii. Gurwood. =The dispatches of Field-Marshal the Duke of Wellington, 1799-1815, compiled by Lt.-Col. Gurwood. 12 vols. London 1837-38.
iii. W.S.D. =Supplementary Despatches, Correspondence and Memoranda of the Duke of Wellington. Edited by his son. 12 vols. London 1858-72.
iv. Bathurst. =Report on the Manuscripts of Earl Bathurst preserved at Cirencester Park. Edited for the Historical Manuscripts Commission by Francis Bickley. London 1923.
v. Münster. = Political Sketches of the state of Europe from 1814-67, by George Herbert, Count Münster. Edinburgh 1868. This contains dispatches of Count Ernst Münster to the Prince Regent from both Paris ( 1814) and Vienna ( 1814-15), the former being omitted from the German edition ( Leipzig 1867). The dispatches are translated into English.
vi. B.F.S.P. = British and Foreign State Papers. Edited by the Librarian of the Foreign Office [Sir E. Hertslet]. Vols. 1, 2, 3. London 1838-41.
vii. B.D. = British Diplomacy, 1813-15. Select Documents dealing with the reconstruction of Europe, by C. K. Webster London 1921.
Other works have been referred to by Author's Name and Short Title. Many of them will be found in the Bibliographies of the Cambridge Modern History and the Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy. The title of those not mentioned in these works has, it is hoped, been made sufficiently detailed to facilitate reference, if desired.
BRITAIN AT WAR: THE ELEMENTS OF RECONSTRUCTION
1. THE TRAINING OF A STATESMAN.
2. THE FORMATION OF THE LIVERPOOL MINISTRY.
3. COURT, CABINET, PARLIAMENT, AND PUBLIC OPINION.
4. THE FOREIGN MINISTER AND THE DIPLOMATIC MACHINE.
5. THE LEGACY OF PITT.
" Castlereagh relut-il alors les anciennes notes dePittet quelque chose de l'âme de cet implacable ennemi de la grandeur française s'infiltra-t-il dans l'âme de ses successeurs?"--ALBERT SOREL.
1. THE TRAINING OF A STATESMAN
BETWEEN 1812 and 1815 occurred the most sudden and complete transformation of the map of Europe which had ever been produced in so short a time. In 1812 the power of the French Empire and its vassal states stretched from Madrid to Warsaw. By the end of 1815 France had been reduced to her ancient frontiers, her vassal princes had fled or changed sides, the boundaries of Europe had been entirely reshaped. To this result the example and assistance of Britain contributed greatly. Moreover, for the first time in history, she exercised a commanding influence in the reconstruction of Europe. This new influence in European affairs was due not only to the prominent part she had played in the war, but also to the personality of Viscount Castlereagh, the most European Foreign Minister in her history. It is the purpose of this book to study in some detail the principles, methods, and occasions of British policy during the period of reconstruction.
Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, was born in 1769, an annus mirabilis which also gave to the world Napoleon, his great enemy, and Wellington, his principal co-worker in European reconstruction. Thus in 1812 he was not yet forty-three years of age. But he had spent most of the past fifteen years in responsible office, and the times in which he lived had tested him and given him a range of experience such as few possessed. Only Liverpool, like Canning, his junior by a year, had a greater length and variety of employment behind him.
His family was a Scottish one which had adopted all the characteristics of the Ulster "Anglo-Irish" settlers of James I.'s reign. His father, one of the most vigorous of a vigorous stock, represented County Down in the Irish Parliament from 1771 to 1783, and became an Irish peer, Baron Londonderry, in 1789. He was advanced in the Peerage as Viscount Castlereagh in 1795, and became Earl of Londonderry in 1796, when his son had the courtesy title of Viscount Castlereagh, by which history knows him. Their family estate was on the shores of Strangford Lough, at Mount Stewart, near Newtownards, a place of grand and turbulent beauty.
His father, a man of only moderate means, connected himself by marriage with two noble families which were to be of great importance in his son's career. His first wife, the mother of Castlereagh, was Lady Sarah Conway, second daughter of the first Marquess of Hertford. Castlereagh was her only surviving child, and she died when he was only a year old. Something of his political gifts and the reserve and patience of his character he got from her, just as his energy, strong will, and persistence came from his father, from whom he also inherited his handsome features and manners. The second wife, a daughter of the Earl of Camden, had several children, including Charles, later Lord Stewart and third Marquess. Both the mother and her children Castlereagh always seems to have treated as if he had been her own son. 1 He gave them indeed far more affection than eldest sons usually bestow.
Living in Ulster until he was seventeen years of age, he followed the good example of his father and learnt to know and understand the tenants, both Protestant and Catholic, as only a young heir constantly among his dependants can do. They were not immune from the ferment of the times, but in the critical years of the nineties were kept loyal by the influence, which was more persuasion than coercion, of the father and the son. No doubt Castlereagh's physical and moral courage appealed to men who were used to both violent words and deeds. Of his possession of these qualities his youth gave many proofs. Twice when narrowly in danger of drowning
1 The prefix, step--, was hardly ever applied by him to them, and I propose to follow his example.
THE TEMPLE OF THE WINDS overlooking Strangford Lough, where on August 5, 1786, Robert Stewart and a younger companion were rescued from drowning, after so long a struggle that it seemed miraculous they should be saved.
NORTH CRAY COTTAGE, KENT
he saved a companion's life, while, once, only his own coolness saved him from highway robbery with violence.
Fate was to make him an absentee from Ireland after 1800, but from his Irish home he brought a love of nature, dislike of display, and readiness to endure hardship which he never lost in later life. From it came also his delight in farming. His cottage at North Cray, only sixteen miles from London, had a little farm attached where he bred merino sheep. He had not much time for it in these years, but a Swiss diplomatist, who bred the same sheep in Switzerland, records how Castlereagh's coldness was replaced by an unexpected liveliness when they discovered by chance their unique and common interest. 1
He escaped, like Pitt, the advantages and temptations of Eton, which left so great a mark on many of his contemporaries, and was educated in a private school at Armagh. A letter, 2 written when he was just over eight years old, reveals his pride and determination: "At present I am highest in my class--no boy shall get above me. I am resolved to study very close when at my book and to play very briskly when disengaged." At the end he added a line which shews that he was even then interested in politics and a Whig: "I am still a good American."
He learnt enough at school to become one of the first reading men of his year when he entered St. John's College, Cambridge, at the age of seventeen. This was unusual in one of his position, but Castlereagh, though fond of field sports and outdoor life, cared little for the usual recreations of his class. His friends were mostly of the same kind. Few of them, it may be noted, entered politics or attained much distinction in later life, unlike the brilliant coterie that Canning used to delight at Oxford. If this fact cut Castlereagh off from a kind of companionship that would have been both a stimulus and a relief in the days of power, it saved him from the burden of friends whose abilities were not equal to their demands.
1 L. Cramer, Correspondance Diplomatique de Pictet de Rochemont, ii. 226-28. A long letter of Castlereagh to his father gives his live stock (about 1817) as 270 sheep, 130 lambs, 8 cows, 19 horses, and 3 asses. Lond. MSS.
2 "To his uncle, Alexander Stewart, Oct. 6, 1777": Lond. MSS.
He left Cambridge after little more than a year's residence for the usual Grand Tour. His father had designed him for a public life, and wished to get him ready for it as soon as possible. Thus 1788 and 1789 he spent mainly in France and Italy, without, so far as can be gathered, any very marked effects on his character, except that it enabled him to acquire more easily the usual polish of the times. It is probable that his heart was in Ireland more than in Europe.
He was barely twenty-one when first elected to the Irish Parliament; for his father was determined to wrench the representation of County Down from the hands of the Marquess of Downshire. He was so far successful that young Mr Stewart obtained one of the seats at a cost of something like the £50,000 which it had been intended to devote to a new mansion, and the sale of some old pictures. The family finances never quite recovered from this expenditure, but it was no doubt considered that the influence thus acquired brought greater honour than the house and pictures could ever have done.
When Castlereagh declared for reform of Parliament at this election, he meant of course reform of the Irish Parliament, which he was himself to reform out of existence. The Catholics had not yet the vote, which they obtained in 1793, so that when Castlereagh sat later in the British Parliament for his native county he represented Catholics there as well as Protestants. 1 From 1790 to 1793 Castlereagh tended to oppose the Government, as a young man should in his early years. Though it is not likely that he ever belonged, as was later alleged, to the Society of United Irishmen, he had warm Irish sympathies and established in Dublin a "Gaelic Society" to encourage and preserve the native language.
Being the eldest son, Castlereagh could not join the army as his younger brothers did. But he developed strong military instincts as Irish turmoil and unrest grew and became an officer in the Irish militia, which Pitt had the courage to call out. At the same time, the progress of the revolution in
1 The Downshires defeated him in 1805, and Castlereagh had to take refuge in the pocket boroughs of Boroughbridge and Plympton, but he recovered the seat in 1812 and held it till 1820.
France tended to throw him more on the Tory side. No one was more alarmed at their Belgian conquests than he, and, unlike many of his contemporaries, he saw the danger that was latent in the call to a whole people to take up arms. "The tranquillity of Europe is at stake," he wrote to his uncle in September 1793, "and we contend with an opponent whose strength we have no means of measuring. It is the first time that all the population and all the wealth of a great kingdom has been concentrated in the field: what may be the result is beyond my perception." 1
These fears and the increasing dangers in Ireland itself did not prevent him from winning the hand of Lady Emily Hobart, daughter of the Earl of Buckingham. The opportunity seems to have been provided by Lord Camden, who was now taking a great interest in his young relative, but the two young people fell violently in love and continued to be so for the rest of their lives. Only five of his notes to her previous to their marriage survive, but they are sufficient to shew the ardour and tenderness of his wooing. She seems to have kept every scrap that he wrote to her in later life, but the total quantity is not very large because they never separated except when some imperious duty demanded it. Some observers thought her exacting, but there can be no doubt that Castlereagh hated separation from her, counted the days until he was with her again, and wrote to her by almost every possible conveyance. She was the confidant of all his actions, if not of his thoughts, for, in spite of her love and his, the deeper processes of his mind were beyond her understanding. But his devotion equalled hers, and her pride and joy in him did not excel that which he felt for her, though her early beauty was compensated by only passable manners, and she took far more interest in the externals of his situation than he did himself. Lady Bessborough was a Whig, but her skilful and subtle pen has, perhaps, given the best picture that exists of Lady Castlereagh in Society: "No one ever was so invariably good humour'd, yet she sometimes provokes me; there is a
1 To Lord Camden, Sept. 25, 1793 : Alison, Lives of Lord Castlereagh and Sir C. Stewart, 23. Alison is for once ponderously in the right in contrasting this judgment with those of Pitt, Burke, and Fox at the same date.
look of contented disregard of the cares of life in her round grey Eye that makes one wonder if she ever felt any crosses or knows the meaning of the word anxiety. She talks with equal indifference of Bombardments and Assemblies, the Baby and the Furniture, the emptiness of London and the Massacre at Buenos Ayres, Ld. Castlereagh's encreasing debility and the doubtful success of Mr. Greville's new operaall these succeed each other so quick and with so exactly the same expression of voice and countenance that they probably hold a pretty equal value in her estimation. How very ill natur'd--voilà déjà tous les travers de la Veillesse qui me viennent. I do not believe there was a better sort of woman or who shewd more kindness to all around her, and above all ten thousand times better natur'd than me . . ." 1
But Castlereagh found in his wife complete satisfaction. The letters could only have been written to one who was a dear companion and a beloved mistress as well as the head of his household and the dispenser of his hospitality. They reveal how much love and tenderness was hidden behind the cold exterior with which his sensitive character guarded itself from the quizzing world. They had no children, and in such cases a wife must be all or nothing. There is no doubt that for Castlereagh his wife meant everything in that world where politics and war have no existence. 2
The duties of that other world kept him from her side a good part of the year 1796. The dangers of French invasion called Castlereagh's militia to the south, and he marched with them when the French ships sailed into Bantry Bay. They sailed away again without doing any harm, as Castlereagh, en route to his regiment, assured his wife would be the case. There was no fighting on this occasion, and when the real battle came in Ireland Castlereagh was otherwise employed. Nevertheless, this period of active service in the militia was as useful in another way as that of Gibbon, for it must have been of great practical importance when, as Secretary of State for War, he
1 Granville, Corres. of Leveson-Gower, ii. 284.
2 Lord Londonderry has allowed me to see and quote from the typescript of these letters which was made for the use of the family. The quotations in this chapter are from these letters, and a selection from those of 1814 are given in Appendix A. Others will be found in the late Marchioness of Londonderry Life of Viscount Castlereagh ( 1904).
EMILY, VISCOUNTESS CASTLEREAGH
from the portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence in the collection of The Most Hon. the Marquess of Londonderry, K.G.
reorganised the militia, and established its connection with the regular army. Here is a letter of the soldier on the march:
"It is impossible to describe what I felt, Dearest Friend, yesterday at parting with you. I never shall forget the affection and firmness with which you went thro' a scene certainly the most trying to those who love: but the first effort made, your reason will in a great measure tranquillize your mind, and nothing on my part shall be wanting to give you frequent intelligence; but you must not look for regularity in my accounts--our situation and employment may make it impossible. I long to hear of your arrival in Dublin. Remember your promise to have a companion in your room. Fanny, I am sure, will be glad to afford you any comfort she can, and you gave me a positive assurance that you would not read at night, or sit up late--rather get up early and endeavour not to exaggerate the anxiety which I cannot expect you to be without.
"We reached Bruff last night about 6 o'clock. The weather was charming, a little cold, but marching on foot I did not feel it. Mr. Whiskey had done a little mischief in our ranks, but upon the whole for a first day's march (taking leave of Sweet-hearts, and parting with the inhabitants, who brought spirits in quantities to them when they were chilled on the street, waiting for stores which they never received) we did fairly well. I have, however, this day declared war against Whiskey and it will not retard us again. We marched this morning at 8 o'clock, and shall reach Mallow to-morrow. Nothing can be more kind and attentive than the people are to us. Our 500 men are very well taken care of, and we shall eat our Xmas dinner with the Mayor of the Town. . . .
"I rely upon your writing every post; it will be the greatest luxury, and will keep me warm in all weathers. Direct to Mallow till you hear to the contrary, and tell me everything that passes. We march to-morrow at 8. The men are in great spirits, very much afraid that the Navy will run away with their credit from them.
Farewell, Dearest best friend. Ever your most devoted
He was called back to Newtownards to help his father keep their own tenants loyal, a task of some difficulty, for the whole of the north was in a state of semi-rebellion. "I wish, if possible," he told his wife, "to effect something with my Father's people before I leave this country--they are at present wavering--and it is at present uncertain what may be the event." Gradually the waverers were won over. "You see then the necessity of my remaining a few days," Castlereagh explained to the impatient Emily, "for you will allow, if I should succeed in giving a turn to the unfortunate spirit which prevails in this country, that, for our future repose and present credit, it will be worth while. You can estimate my impatience to join you by your own. . . ." At last he was able to announce in triumph: "Between 3 and 4 hundred took the oath of allegiance yesterday. They did it with every mark of sincerity, after the ice had been broken and their panick a little removed. They had been much deceived and much threatened. We had a very jolly dinner. Cleland quite drunk, Sinclair considerably so, my father not a little, others lying heads and points, the whole very happy, and God Save the King and Rule Britannia declared permanent."
Castlereagh, therefore, knew a good deal of the state of Ireland when he was summoned by his uncle, who became Viceroy in 1795, to take up a position in Dublin Castle, virtually acting as Chief Secretary for Pelham from the beginning of 1797 onwards, and succeeding him officially in April 1799. Cornwallis kept him on, when it was necessary for the mild Camden to be superseded by a soldier, and he was thus in the second most responsible position in Ireland during the terrible rebellion of 1798. He was the first Irishman to hold that post. The danger was immense, for the Protestants of the north seemed no less disaffected than the Catholic south. The rebellion, which unexpectedly had its main operations in Wexford, was, however, in Castlereagh's opinion, due to both religion and politics. "It is a Jacobinical conspiracy throughout the Kingdom," he informed London, "pursuing its object chiefly with Popish instruments; the heated bigotry of this sect being better suited to the purpose of the republican leaders than the cold, reasoning disaffection of the Northern Presbyterians." 1 Fortunately for Britain, the French managed their part of the business no better than the British their expeditions against France. Vinegar Hill had been fought, and Lord Edward Fitzgerald had been captured and died of wounds before their fleet appeared and landed troops, which were easily defeated, while Wolfe Tone was taken on a French frigate. Exquisite cruelties were employed by both sides, and at least 30,000 people lost their lives.
The resolve to create a United Parliament had been taken before the rebellion took place, but it seemed to add to the urgency. Castlereagh thus became the principal instrument of Pitt and Portland in abolishing the separate Parliament of his own country, an act for which Irishmen will never forgive him. The hatred that grew around it has, indeed, obscured both the object and the method. It was meant to bring peace to Ireland as well as England. The money which Pitt and Castlereagh spent was mainly in compensation of the borough holders, opponents and supporters alike, though some money bribery was used, and much in honours and place. That Castlereagh thoroughly believed in the necessity of his actions, and used every ounce of his energy and skill, there can be no doubt. He had been disgusted with Irish politics before the rebellion, and he was genuinely convinced that the equal place which Ireland was given in the British Parliament, and her more direct association in the benefits of the British Empire, were ample compensation for the loss of her corrupt and incompetent legislature, which, after all, had but little control over the Government of Ireland. The bargain was, indeed, as time was to shew, a better one for Ireland than for England, though both suffered the greatest harm in those qualities which count most in a nation's life.
Nor did Castlereagh, in spite of his success, escape the penalty. For to it must be partly attributed his distrust of Parliamentary government, his rather cynical attitude towards politics and a certain callousness towards popular demands, his preference for secret rather than open conduct
1 To Wickham (Portland's Under-Secretary), June 12, 1798: C.C. i. 218.
of public affairs, which were real defects in his character and ruined eventually some of the great objects which his diplomatic skill brought into the region of practical politics. These feelings, even more than the obloquy and hatred which have been heaped upon his name, were the heavy price he had to pay for his part in carrying out so successfully the plans of Portland and Pitt.
Pitt had promised that Catholic Emancipation should follow, though the promise was not to be used to carry the Union, and in this obvious act of justice Castlereagh had always believed. In this respect he went further than most Protestants, building his own Catholics a church and being one of the first to protest against the iniquitous tithe. When he joined the man who from now onwards was his leader and friend in the British House of Commons, he expected, therefore, to play a principal part there in conducting the necessary legislation through the House, and when the King's veto stopped the measure, he resigned with Pitt.
He was given, by his leader, such marked encouragement in his early speeches that the suggestion was immediately made that he would rival Canning in the great man's favour, as indeed was soon the case. But even less than Pitt did he make Catholic Emancipation a bar to his return to office when the question had been, at any rate for the moment, removed from the range of practical politics. Unless he was to eschew all opportunities of place and power, he was forced to recognise that other matters must take pre-eminence. Thus in a little more than a year he joined the Addington Ministry in the important office of President of the Board of Control and became one of its most successful members. But Pitt seems to have approved entirely of this act, far more so, indeed, than of the quips and gibes of the intractable Canning, who shewed his devotion to his master by vilifying those who had taken his place.
Castlereagh was admitted to the Cabinet in October 1802, and when Pitt came back he kept him in the same office, and the intimacy between master and pupil grew closer and closer in the last tragic years of Pitt's life until, at the end, transferred to the important office of Secretary of State for War in July 1805, he had more of his confidence than perhaps any other member of his Government.
The Board of Control itself, even though the President was only an intermediary between an almost all-powerful GovernorGeneral and an East India Company tenacious of its rights and eager for dividends, brought to him experience and connections of the most important kind. For the elder Wellesley was a great ruler, and the younger won his first victories in the Mahratta wars. Castlereagh gave them all the support that he could, wrung troops out of the East India Company, and, it may be noted, refused all patronage for himself. Arthur Wellesley had thus come to know and be known by him before he returned with his brother to take up a position in Ireland similar to that which Castlereagh himself had once held. Moreover, Castlereagh was brought into touch with Persia, where a mission was sent to hold the route to the East which now seemed to be threatened.
Even more important, however, was his connection with Pitt in the general conduct of the war, 1 and the plans for Europe which were made in connection with the third coalition. By this time he had become Pitt's principal confidant, and was far more trusted by him than Canning, who had not yet a place in the Cabinet. But Castlereagh had shewn a steadiness which Canning did not then possess, and was, more. over, a source of harmony rather than discord in the weakened team which Pitt had to drive after 1804. It was Castlereagh who planned the great expedition to the north of Germany, which Austria's defeat and Prussia's treachery made of no avail. It was Castlereagh also who discussed with Pitt the great state paper which he wrote at the beginning of 1805, in which he replied to the Tsar's extended plans for a new Europe, with others as large and more suitable to the present difficulties. 2
Castlereagh had, perhaps, made more impression on Pitt himself than on his contemporaries and on the House of
1 Here is his note to his wife with the news of Trafalgar: "You will weep for Lord Nelson whilst you and all around you will rejoice in his glories. After an action of only 4 hours, with only 27 sail of the line against 33, he took 19 and one blew up. We have lost no ship, but alas! the first Admiral in the universe." Lond. MSS.
2 See Section 6. p. 57.
Commons. He was a ready debater, but he had no gift of expression and never shone in a set speech like Canning. He avoided, indeed, display, and wanted, so far as possible, to fight the war in the council chamber rather than in the House, though he never shrank from defending a course of action there. But he had no coterie, either male or female, to circulate his praises, and such leisure as he had was passed in unobtrusive domesticity. His wife did not attract or please others as she did him, and, in spite of her efforts, their house did not become a social centre until Castlereagh's achievements made it so.
When Grenville and the Whigs came into power, and only redeemed one of the most feeble of administrations by their last great act of passing the Abolition of the Slave Trade, Castlereagh without Pitt did not loom large in the public eye. When Portland made his new Cabinet, therefore, though Castlereagh went back to his former office as Secretary of State for War and Colonies for three of the most fruitful years of his life, Canning, who signalised his entry into the Foreign Office by the seizure of the Danish fleet, eclipsed him somewhat in reputation. The young Etonian had a brilliant band of followers to raise his fame and mock at his rivals. Even in the Cabinet, Canning, because of his reputation as a speaker, came to be listened to more than Castlereagh or the strongly Protestant and prolific Perceval, who, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, led the House of Commons. Since the Duke of Portland was old and feeble and a fool, Canning's power and ambition grew. He was rightly conscious of great abilities, and he wished to succeed not only to the policy of Pitt, but also to his commanding position in the council.
Meanwhile Castlereagh placed great achievements to his credit, though only time could shew how great they were. He completely reorganised the system of raising men for the army in such a manner that the historian who has most right to make the judgment holds him to have been "the best War Minister that we have ever had." 1 He also played the principal, and certainly most loyal, part in the Cabinet during the tangled series of events which eventually resulted in his
1 Sir John Fortescue, British Statesmen of the Great War, 228.
friend Arthur Wellesley commanding the British army in Portugal, after having been superseded and almost ruined by the Cintra Convention. No one can read Castlereagh's letters to the generals at this time without being impressed by the manner in which he was ready to bear responsibility himself, and how little he played the politician's trick of trying to ride for safety at the expense of others. Henceforward he was one of the foremost in supporting, through good and evil fortune, the new commander in his defence of Portugal and attacks on the French armies in Spain.
But the Peninsula did not exhaust the military power of Britain or Castlereagh's efforts as a War Minister. Hence the most serious blot on his record--for the Walcheren expedition was more due to him than to any other man. As a strategic proposition it could be defended by those who, like Castlereagh, believed wholeheartedly in the Peninsular campaign, since the number of troops that could be usefully employed by Wellington was limited by finance and supply. Castlereagh wished, therefore, to use the growing strength of Britain in a more direct attack on Napoleon's power, and, since Prussia's weakness for the moment made an attempt further north undesirable, the destruction of his arsenal and the new fleet building in the Scheldt seemed the most desirable method of striking a blow while he was occupied with the new challenge which Austria, unaided, had the courage to make in 1809. Castlereagh prepared the expedition with the greatest care, and it was certainly the best equipped as well as the largest that had ever left the shores of Britain. It was, however, delayed until too late in the year, and ruined by the choice of the commander, for which Castlereagh must bear the main responsibility. The result was a humiliating defeat, instead of, as might and should have occurred, had the Earl of Chatham and Sir John Strahan possessed even a modicum of energy and enterprise, the capture of Antwerp and the destruction of the fleet.
This disaster would in itself have been a hard blow for Castlereagh to bear, but the situation was made impossible by the discovery, after the news of defeat had come, that his colleagues had for some time been arranging behind his back for his removal from the post which he had filled so well. This strange conduct had nothing to do with the failure of Walcheren, but was a result of Canning's ambition to obtain a commanding influence in the management of the war. Relying on the reputation which he had justly made by his conduct of foreign affairs and his ability in the House, he challenged Castlereagh's position early in 1809, and had it not been for Portland's weakness the issue would then have been tried. The Duke, however, persuaded Canning to postpone action until after the expedition, and the King and even Castlereagh's uncle acquiesced. Perceval was horrified when he heard what was arranged, but it was then too late to stop the intrigue, and, when the Government was discredited by the failure at Walcheren, Canning demanded his pound of flesh.
Castlereagh had as much grievance against his own friends as against Canning, but he could hardly challenge Portland or Camden, and he rightly saw in Canning's proposal to get rid of him the origin of the unfair treatment to which he had been subjected. His friend and helper, Cooke, has painted in vivid colours the agony and distress of his mind when the conduct of his colleagues, which at first he could hardly bring himself to believe, became clear to him. His challenge to Canning was such as would allow of no compromise and was readily accepted. The duel, in which Canning was wounded though not seriously, resulted in the resignation of both, as well as of Portland, who was already ill and soon died, and the whole Government of the country was in the melting-pot. 1
The result did not justify Canning's expectations. In Perceval he found a tougher rival than he had expected, while no one was prepared to give him that position of primacy which he thought was his due. His offer to form an administration was contemptuously ignored by the King and his colleagues. He had not perceived that the manœuvres he used to obtain the first position destroyed the confidence that alone made it possible. Even Wellesley, whom he had planned to assist him to power, "cut him to the heart" by accepting
1 Cooke's letter was published by me in the Cambridge Historical Journal, vol. iii., No. 1, 1929, where is also Professor Temperley's skilful defence of Canning, with some new letters.
the Foreign Office without caring very much that Canning was left out altogether, since he would not accept the lead of Perceval, whose honesty had won him the position which Canning had designed for himself.
Thus both Castlereagh and Canning were out of office until 1812. Both refused the offers made to them in 1810 to come back together, but, while Castlereagh's answer to the invitation was courteous to a degree, Canning was needlessly offensive to Perceval by reiterating that he would never serve under him. Meanwhile Castlereagh's own position was filled adequately by Liverpool, but Wellesley proved a gigantic failure in the Foreign Office. He, like Canning, wished to dominate the Cabinet, and his claims to special authority were no greater. Many observers attributed his failure to his private habits, which had led him to attempt to take a mistress with him on his Embassy to Spain and made him notorious for his 'harem.' However that may be, it is certain that he neglected the business of his own office and refused to attend Cabinets, while he filled the air with complaints that his brother was not adequately supported in the Peninsula.
At the end of 1810 the death of his favourite daughter caused the King to lose his reason once more. Again there was a contest over the Regency Bill, and the Tories forced the Prince to accept only limited powers for twelve months. But the King lapsed into hopeless insanity, and as the time drew near for the Regent to exercise full control of the power of the Crown, it was confidently expected that the Whigs would be summoned, or that at least drastic changes would be made in the Government. Wellesley, though a burden to his colleagues, was liked by the Prince Regent, and might easily replace Perceval as Prime Minister, thus opening the way for Canning. Few thought that Castlereagh would become the principal Minister of the Cabinet that was to be responsible for ending the war and reconstructing Europe.
2. THE FORMATION OF THE LIVERPOOL MINISTRY 1
THE new Regency Bill which the King's madness made necessary allowed over twelve months to elapse before the Prince was free to use the power of the Crown without restriction. The Regent could hardly change his Ministers in such a position, and thus had necessarily to work with the Perceval Cabinet and discuss with them the many difficult problems, personal and political, which pressed upon him as he ascended the throne. Since Perceval had defended Caroline in 1806 and was a violent Protestant, while George had always been surrounded by Whigs and was reputed favourable to the Catholics, it was natural that friction should be expected. But during the twelve months of restricted rule the Regent changed his attitude, partly, no doubt, owing to sympathetic handling by the Cabinet, though Perceval and Eldon shewed themselves sufficiently independent in the negotiations for the new civil list.
It is unnecessary, however, to make personal motives the main reason for the Regent wishing to keep Perceval in office. Hardly any other British Sovereign has assumed power under such difficult conditions. The strain of the long war, in which Britain stood now almost alone, the new financial difficulties, the threatening attitude of the United States, the symptoms
1 There is an immense amount of documentary material on these negotiations. Many of the statements were written for effect, and were published in the Press or in pamphlets, and subsequently in the Annual Register for 1812. All the lives and memoirs have many letters, notably the Wellesley Papers, and the Grenville attitude has been revealed in great detail in vol. x. of the Dropmore MSS., which Mr. Francis Bickley has completed. I have also used a number of letters and documents in the Windsor Archives. Even now the exact part played by Prince Regent, courtiers, and statesmen is obscure on some points, and unfortunately especially on Castlereagh's own conduct.
of unrest in various parts of the country, shewed George that his new duties were no sinecure. In Perceval he had a man whom even Canning's friend could describe as "the most popular man in the country." But, above all, George was as determined as his Ministers to fight the war to a finish. He would not bring the Whigs into office, except under such conditions as safeguarded the policy of resistance to Napoleon and the prosecution of the war in Spain. He refused, therefore, to listen to his closest confidant, Lord Moira, who served him with rare fidelity at this time, though he recognised that he must make some approach to his old friends and supporters. Public opinion would be shocked and parliamentary controversy still more embittered if their position were not made quite clear.
The result was that in the famous letter to the Duke of York, by which the Whigs were invited to join the administration, great emphasis was laid on the successes of the last year in the Peninsula as an example to the nations of Europe. Grey and Grenville would not have accepted, in any case, a coalition with Perceval. But the terms of the letter were, in fact, an insult to them. The reference to the war was peculiarly obnoxious to the first, while Grenville was the strongest opponent of the Peninsular expedition. They took care, however, in their reply to avoid this topic and to place the Catholic question in the forefront. George considered that he was then free from the obligations of his youth and gave Perceval his full confidence, in spite of Moira's outspoken and passionate plea that he should try some other combination before confirming the Tories in office. The result was the immediate resignation of Wellesley, a step which he had only postponed since the turn of the year at the Regent's urgent request. To Wellesley's own suggestions that some one else should take Perceval's place, the Regent would not listen, though he asked him once more to discuss with Eldon whether any change could be made to satisfy his complaints. 1
1 Wellesley to the Prince Regent, Feb. 17, half-past 6 p.m., 1812: Windsor Arch. . . ."Nor would Lord Wellesley have presumed to offer any advice on the subject of forming an administration adapted to the present crisis, if he had understood that your Royal Highness had already fixed Mr. Perceval in his seat and had formed your Government on that basis" . . . This adds a new note to the correspondence of Feb. 18,
A further result, therefore, was Castlereagh's appointment as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, for which preparation had been made since January. How much his connection with the Hertfords helped him to office it is impossible to determine, but he certainly was Perceval's choice as well as the Regent's. There was no other obvious person to whom the Government could turn, since Canning's conduct in 1809 ruled him out so long as Perceval led the House. Castlereagh shewed no great anxiety to accept the invitation. He insisted on waiting until the Regent had full powers and had decided his course of action, saying that he "would be no stop-gap for any man." He advised also that other efforts should be made to strengthen the Government, obviously hinting that the Sidmouth party, with whom he had always worked well, should be brought in. Perceval also desired this accession, and both must have been aware that it did not increase Canning's friends in the Cabinet.
Wellington would, indeed, have preferred Castlereagh back at his old job. "I wish your brother," he wrote to Charles Stewart, "had gone to the War instead of the Foreign department. It would have been a better general arrangement. But I suspect the existing one has been made with a view to conciliate a hostile vote or two, in the notion that some parties object particularly to his management of the War department. This is weak! Their votes cannot be conciliated." 1
This was obviously directed at Canning, but, whatever the motive, Liverpool kept the War Office, and when the Whigs had refused the Regent's offer, Castlereagh stepped into Wellesley's place, taking his seat on the Treasury Bench on February 28. His uncle, Camden, soon made way for Sidmouth to come in as President of the Council, and some of Sidmouth's followers were included in the Government. Canning, as a result, went openly into opposition. But the
published in The Wellesley Papers, ii. 71-78. "Moira to the Prince Regent, Feb. 18, 1813": Windsor Arch. Moira refused the Garter lest it should be considered as a bribe for abandoning his old friends.
1 Castlereagh's answer to Perceval, given by the Duke of Buckingham ( Memoirs of the Regency, i. 218-19), is confirmed in substance by Perceval himself ( Spencer Walpole, Life of Perceval, ii. 268), and by Lord Grenville "from other quite authentic information" ( Dropmore Papers, x. 204). "Wellington to Stewart, March 14, 1812": Lond. MSS.
Regent's judgment was confirmed, and the Government went on without much difficulty, though both Canning and Wellesley pressed the Catholic question furiously in order to embarrass it. Canning also lost reputation by his attitude towards the repeal of the Order in Council, which Brougham advocated with great skill and forced the Government to refer to a committee. But this step was already in contemplation, in face of the increasing hostility of the United States, and the Government was growing in strength, until, on May 11, the Prime Minister was assassinated by the mad Bellingham in the very precincts of the House.
Under a blow so unexpected the Cabinet were saved by their loyalty to one another. On May 13 they offered to serve under any of their number the Regent should choose, admitting, however, that their prospects of survival were doubtful. The Regent authorised Liverpool to negotiate with Wellesley and Canning, and Vansittart was brought in to take charge of the Exchequer ad interim, while inevitably Castlereagh became Leader of the House of Commons in succession to Perceval.
Wellesley and Canning now thought that their opportunity had come. They refused Liverpool's offers, and, in order to oust the shattered Ministry, Wortley moved a resolution in the House urging the Regent to form a stronger Government. It was carried, and there was no alternative for the Ministers but to place their resignations in the Regent's hands, offering to carry on the business of the state meanwhile. 1
In the crisis that followed, the Regent, advised by Moira, with some help from his private secretary, MacMahon, never made a false step, while the two eager aspirants for office were soon discredited and the Opposition leaders allowed to sink back into their Olympian sulks, which it is clear they preferred to the burden of office at such a time.
1 "Minute of the Cabinet to the Prince Regent, May 13, 1812": Windsor Arch.; which formally records the result of the meeting of which rough notes are given by Twiss ( Life of Eldon, ii. 210). From the later discussions as to the entrance of Wellesley and Canning, Castlereagh absented himself so as not to embarrass his colleagues ( Annual Register, 1812, 350).
Wilberforce says: " Canning very clever, and Wortley's motion really made for him and Wellesley, though carried by the numbers of the old Opposition" ( Life of Wilberforce, iv. 31), but there is no proof that Canning actually planned the motion.
Wellesley was first entrusted with the task of forming a Government, and, of course, was pledged to Canning. They approached their old colleagues on the basis of a settlement of the Catholic question and a vigorous prosecution of the war in Spain, but met with a unanimous refusal; the rupture was made complete by the immediate publication of much of the correspondence. The Regent seems to have deeply regretted the failure, for he insisted on each of his Ministers giving him a separate minute of their reasons. The answers of both "Protestants" and "Catholics" could have left him in no doubt that Wellesley would never be accepted by them as their leader, only Melville hinting that he could do so on any terms. 1
This rebuff seemed to bring the Opposition nearer to power, but the Regent was not yet ready to yield. Wellesley was first authorised to approach Grenville and Grey with an offer of a coalition Cabinet, in which they should have four or five members, while Moira and other unofficial Whigs would be included. It was not likely that Grenville and Grey would agree to such a compromise. Their attitude to the Spanish war made co-operation with Wellesley impossible, as the Regent must have known, though the Marquess seems to have been convinced that his own talents would induce them to join him. The exchange of correspondence lasted a week, but no agreement could be reached. Rebuffed once more, Wellesley offered to make a Ministry with Moira, Sheridan, and Erskine, who were, he claimed, all ready to serve under him, with perhaps Lord Holland as well. But the Regent refused his assent, and Wellesley had no option but to give up the game.
The turn of Grenville and Grey had at last necessarily come.
1 Minute of Cabinet [May 27], 1813 ( Windsor Arch.). is signed by all the Ministers except Castlereagh and Camden, who "were absent at their own desire." Liverpool's separate minute is given in his life ( Yonge, Liverpool, i. 393), the other ten are in the Windsor Archives. The Queen was much shocked at the methods pursued; for she wrote to her son: "With infinite concern do I see by to-day's papers that the correspondence as well as the conversation between Lord Liverpool, Marquis of Wellesley, and Mr. Canning (not Cunning) is published. This is the first time I ever remember such a transaction being given out in the public prints, and I can not help reflecting how well the dear King judged the characters of those two individuals by proving themselves such as He always described them to me." Windsor Arch.
All other parties had failed to form a Government, and Moira, who was asked to approach his old friends informally, was apparently hopeful of success. That the Regent only allowed the negotiation with extreme reluctance is shewn by Sheridan's pleading that he should not proscribe Grey. But the negotiation shewed that neither Grenville nor Grey desired office on any terms. This time no conditions were laid down, but they soon found sufficient excuses, and Moira's eyes were at last opened to the real state of affairs. "It is clear," he reported to MacMahon, "that they do not mean to accept any terms whatever. The only point to be determined is whether one should take from them the last shadow of excuse which they might attempt, in saying I had made no overture to them; my letter having to be considered as an explanation of a matter already defunct." After another abortive attempt, therefore, to persuade Wellesley and Canning to join the Tories, Moira finally notified Grenville and Grey that he was authorised by the Prince Regent to discuss their acceptance of office. Their haughty reply, demanding a change in the Household appointments, a veiled attack on the Hertfords, was, of course, peculiarly offensive to the Regent and put an end to the negotiation. 1
Grenville and Grey might well dislike serving such a master, but there can be no doubt that their refusal rested on deeper causes than the Household. Grey, indeed, insisted to Moira that they could only take office when the Prince Regent was ready "to give us his full confidence both as to men and measures." They were, however, conscious that they were not ready to put into practice the policies which they had urged in opposition. They were both defaitistes who had no wish to bear the responsibility of defeat. They shewed their
1 R. B. Sheridan to the Prince Regent, June 1. 1812, congratulating him on summoning Wellesley, but not dissembling "the deep regret I have felt at an apparent alteration in your manner towards me--produced solely, I must believe, by my expressing an opinion that a proscription of Lord Grey in the formation of a new administration would be a proceeding equally injurious to the estimation of your personal dignity and the maintenance of the public interests" ( Windsor Arch.). This may explain why Sheridan never told Grenville and Grey, as he was authorised to do, that Hertford and Yarmouth intended to resign when the Whigs came in. "Moira to MacMahon, June 4, 1813": Windsor Arch. See T. Moore, Life of Sheridan, 674-75.
patriotism best by refusing government on any terms. Perhaps Grey would have acted differently had he known that his action meant twelve more years of opposition for the Whigs.
Grenville and Grey could retire to Dropmore and Howick, making such occasional sallies into the political world as suited their convenience, and waiting for their gloomy prophecies to be fulfilled. They were quite content. But their followers set up a howl of rage. They had no contempt for office, which at one time seemed so near. They considered, with some justice, that their leaders had played into the Regent's hands. Sydney Smith, indeed, charged them with the feat of having "made the Court the object of public love and compassion, made Lord Yarmouth appear like a virtuous man, given character to the Prince, and restored the dilapidation of kingly power." Moira and Sheridan were regarded by many as traitors, and the latter could not be prevented from defending his master in the House, much as the Regent, who dreaded his garrulity, tried to stop him. As for Moira, he was heartsick and bankrupt, but the Prince rewarded him and at the same time escaped his control by conferring on him the position of both Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in India. He barely evaded the bailiffs as he set out to enjoy his new honours. Yarmouth took his place as the foremost courtier and adviser, a fact of importance in Castlereagh's career. 1
Meanwhile Castlereagh had thus become unexpectedly Leader of the House of Commons as well as Foreign Minister, and necessarily the second person in authority in the Cabinet. One more crisis, however, had to be passed before he was confirmed in this position. For Canning had not yet reconciled himself to the situation. He was dreadfully disappointed
1 Mrs. Austin, Letters of Sydney Smith, ii. 93-94. Moira to MacMahon, June 14, 1812; "R. B. Sheridan to MacMahon, June 17, 1812": Windsor Arch. Moira to MacMahon, July 21, 1812: " . . . you see I look forward to a possibility of a change of ministry. The state of the country tranquil but deeply dissatisfied will force that measure; and when the necessity comes it will be very sudden. I am cutting down all establishments here [his home at Donnington] with an unsparing hand and fashioning rigidly the plan of my future life. It promises me more gratification than I have experienced in active scenes." Windsor Arch.
that the Whigs had not ousted his former colleagues, for he felt sure he could outshine Castlereagh in Opposition and thus secure the reversion of his place when the Whigs fell in their turn. 1 But he soon shewed himself very conciliatory to Liverpool, whom he consulted before he moved his new resolutions on the Catholic question in the Commons. Castlereagh naturally voted with him on that subject, and it was clear to all that nothing but personal difficulties prevented Canning from joining the Cabinet. Liverpool was eager to strengthen the front bench in the Lower House, and in July Castlereagh and Canning met to discuss terms. Castlereagh shewed his patriotism by offering to give up the Foreign Office to Canning, taking himself the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer, for which no one but Wilberforce thought Vansittart very suitable.
But Canning, though he admitted that this offer was "perhaps the handsomest that was ever made to an individual," could not bring himself to allow to Castlereagh that lead which he had formerly refused to Perceval. It was in vain that Castlereagh assured him, at Liverpool's request, that he should control absolutely the Foreign Office business. He demanded complete equality either under some other person, though none was available, or by some division of business, which Castlereagh rightly declined as impossible. No one suggested that Castlereagh should give way entirely, for he was already Leader of the House, and to surrender the position to another was obviously to confess incompetence. Moreover, he had offered to resign his office for one less well paid and less preferable to himself. The Regent, though full of praise of Castlereagh's handsome conduct, was most anxious to bring Canning in, and explored every avenue to put pressure on him to reconsider his decision. "He takes as much courting as a woman, and a great deal more than most," he told Lady Bessborough, whom he urged to
1 See his statement to Huskisson a little later, given in Aspinall, Lord Brougham and the Whig Party, 271: "Between Castlereagh in office, and me where I am, the Pittites, with Charles Long for their guide, probably will not hesitate to choose Castlereagh as their leader. Let us be both out; and then let them make their choice and let Lord Castlereagh then state his pretensions."
induce Lord Granville Leveson-Gower to support the bargain. But that friend of Canning was altogether on the other side. Though even Lord Sidmouth seized an opportunity to make it up with Canning, who confessed that he believed his overture to be sincere, the distrust and jealousy of Castlereagh remained. Canning wrote bitterly to Granville: "Had Castlereagh half the Dr.'s [ Sidmouth's] art (if art it be) or his nature (as I take it to be) his point would have been carried in our tête-à-tête; but (luckily perhaps for me) he can neither feel nor feign." He accepted, therefore, the value which his too partial friends placed upon him and refused all concession. Though the new elections brought him a triumph at Liverpool, he had thrown away as great a chance as ever came to any man. Only his rival's death renewed the opportunity, of which at last his genius availed itself. 1
Castlereagh was thus left to bear nearly the whole burden of the Government in the House, while he conducted the Foreign Policy of Britain at the most critical moment of her fortunes. But he had behind him a Cabinet united as no Cabinet had been since the early days of the war. They had passed through a crisis which had drawn them together in a common defence of a vigorous prosecution of the war, and in this they knew they had the Regent's full backing. Liverpool himself regretted his failure, but rejoiced in the unity of his Cabinet and the confidence of the Prince Regent, whom he told Wellington he should protect against "the complete and uncontrolled dominion of the Opposition." As for Wellington, who had just been again promoted in the peerage, he inquired, "What the devil is the use of making me a
1 For these negotiations, see Yonge, Life of Liverpool, i. 401-25. Life of Wilberforce, iv. 37-41. Stapleton, George Canning and his Times, 208-10. Countess Granville, Corres. of Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, ii. 439, 441, 443, 445-46, 469. F. Leveson-Gower, Letters of Harriet Countess Granville, i. 35-37. In a letter to MacMahon, no doubt intended for the Regent's eye, Canning boasted of his success at Liverpool and gave vent to his spleen and rancour against the Government in a manner which shewed how much he exaggerated his own importance: "If therefore the Government intended the dissolution (as I hear they do not scruple to avow they did) against me, they are as great bunglers in their miserable home politics as they have shewn themselves abroad in their vigorous war measures, against America, for instance. . . . But though I have not suffered from their good intentions, you may believe I do not less gratefully acknowledge them." Windsor Arch.
Marquess?" but he accepted the new Ministry with considerable satisfaction and urged his brother Henry not to resign. He was ready to serve any Ministry which would prosecute the war; but Liverpool, Bathurst, and Castlereagh he already knew and was grateful for past support, however much he might grumble at times. All the Cabinet except Liverpool were glad that they had escaped from Canning's brilliance. Whatever Castlereagh's other qualities, he could be trusted to be loyal to those working with him. In a short time both Wellington and the Cabinet were to discover that he had other unsuspected merits.
3. COURT, CABINET, PARLIAMENT, AND PUBLIC OPINION
THERE is little recognition by historians of the Regent's merits as a politician which he had so clearly displayed in the appointment of the Liverpool Government. Still less have they given him any credit for the successful ending of the Napoleonic war. Many at the time, however, were not slow to admit it, and he certainly claimed it for himself, even for events of which the main responsibility was scarcely his. In December 1812 he wrote to the Queen of "the great and glorious news from Russia of which I have, under Providence, the heartfelt consolation, without unbecoming vanity, to ascribe in a great degree to my own original and indefatigable endeavours in drawing that Power to those measures which have since been pursued." To celebrate the battle of Leipzig he sent her a snuff-box bearing his portrait, "one who I hope you will now think is no disgrace to you, to his family or to his country, and who, as far as his mind could go, has contributed that to his utmost in aid of and towards the accomplishment of all the great and splendid events and successes which it has pleased Providence to bless and to crown our joint combined and allied exertions and arms." Of the news of the capture of Paris he could only write with a trembling hand: "I think, my dearest mother, that you will think that I have fulfilled and done my duty at least, and perhaps I may be vain enough to hope that you may feel a little proud of your son." 1
This attitude towards these great events was of a certain
1 The Prince Regent to the Queen, Dec. 6, 1812: The Taylor Papers, 82; Nov. 3, 1813; April 9, 1814: Windsor Arch. It is only fair to add that no one praised Wellington more; and the draft in the Windsor Archives of the letter of July 3, 1813, making him a Field Marshal, shews how carefully George composed his eulogies.
importance. It was, as has been seen, one of the reasons which kept the Whigs from power in 1812. It had also an influence in 1814 and 1815, when the Prince Regent was one of the foremost of those who wished for no peace with Napoleon. Naturally it would not have had much effect without the assistance of determined Ministers and of public opinion. But the support of which the Cabinet were assured from their royal master was one factor in their decisions, and public opinion was much influenced, at any rate in aristocratic circles, by the example of the Court.
George, indeed, took a constant interest in all military matters, and in one at least, uniforms, he was something of an expert. Nor was he without influence in the diplomacy of the period. His dislike of the Tsar after the unfortunate visit of 1814, his admiration of the Emperor of Austria, his kindness to the Bourbons, all played a part in British policy, even though in the last resort he allowed his Ministers to decide it. He always followed closely all the complicated negotiations of the war and the peace, and in the interviews, which foreign representatives reported in great detail, he shewed himself completely conversant with the subject in hand. He was, indeed, apt to talk too much, and sometimes gave away information which his Ministers would have preferred to remain secret. But nearly always he acted in this period as they desired, and no one could exercise a greater charm on even the most suspicious of diplomats.
Moreover, he was ruler of Hanover as well as Britain, though in 1812 the Electorate was swallowed up in Jerome Bonaparte's kingdom. In spite of this, however, he retained as Regent of Hanover diplomatic relations with both Austria and Prussia, which were of vital importance in linking Britain to the Continent, were indeed the main channel through which she still obtained information from and conveyed ideas to those Courts. His principal Hanoverian Minister, Count Münster, who had sacrificed his patrimony in Hanover to serve in London, had the Regent's full confidence. Fortunately he was a man not only of energy but of moderation and common sense. Though he was anxious to advance the interests of his own country, he saw that to do so he must subordinate them to the interests of Britain. Indeed, the argument might perhaps now have been turned the other way; for, while Hanover supplied troops of splendid quality for the British service and a diplomatic network on the Continent, Britain gave no guarantee of Hanoverian territory, and though Hanover became a kingdom in 1814 it was not enlarged on a scale corresponding with the subservient south German states. Münster accompanied the Duke of Cambridge to Hanover at the end of 1813, and then represented his master at headquarters and during the peace negotiations at Paris and Vienna, where his advice and assistance were freely used by Castlereagh. George, however, was not even allowed to visit the new kingdom until 1821, though he made a determined effort to do so during the Hundred Days. 1
George was connected through his wife with the Brunswick family, and the return of their duchy was therefore always part of the British programme. This was not a great matter and hardly compensated for the treatment to which Caroline herself was subjected. The private life of the Regent is beyond the defence of the most casuistical of pens, even if Lord John Russell's considered opinion that "a worse man has not lived in our day" is obviously too harsh. Now that the Regent was in power the position of Caroline became again a burning political question. It was the irony of fate that the Chancellor and Prime Minister of the Regent's first Government should be Eldon and Perceval, who had defended Caroline in 1806 against the insinuations of the Delicate Investigation. But no one could deny the Regent's right to control the upbringing of his daughter Charlotte, now reaching marriageable age, and there was much to be said for the view that her mother was not a suitable person to look after her. This controversy, which began in 1813, unfortunately became mixed up with politics, and the Tory Government were thrown more and more on the side of the Regent by the violence of the Opposition. Brougham for his own purposes, and Whitbread out of decent feeling, led the attack. The
1 "Liverpool to the Prince Regent, June 1, 1815" ( Windsor Arch.), which reports the Cabinet's refusal to apply to Parliament for a Bill to enable the Prince Regent to leave the country.
family quarrel was to be a source of great anxiety and real detriment to British interests in 1814.
If George's relations with his wife bear no defence, he was a dutiful and affectionate son to his stiff and obstinate old mother, exceedingly kind to his sisters, and for the most part on amazingly good terms with his extraordinary brothers. Partly, no doubt, his attentions to Windsor were due to the necessity of keeping them loyal in his marital quarrel. But the letters of his sisters shew a genuine and artless affection for him, which he retained by little acts of kindness. He made a great effort to rescue them from the living tomb of Windsor, where their mother exercised a relentless tyranny over them, partly that they might chaperon Charlotte, and, though he was not very successful, they were full of gratitude. The Windsor Court, however, exercised no influence on politics.
By 1812 the Regent had become tired of the beautiful Lady Jersey, who was reduced to begging for a pension in these years. Caroline's place was now supplied by Castlereagh's aunt, the Marchioness of Hertford, a mistress who was fifty years of age and the mother of a son, Lord Yarmouth, who was later to be the most notorious of the family. Her husband was made Lord Chamberlain of the new Court, while Yarmouth became Warden of the Stannaries. They were good Tories, and his cousin Yarmouth was, as has been seen, Castlereagh's friend, while Lady Castlereagh was an intimate of Lady Hertford.
But little of their influence can be traced in public affairs. Yarmouth's services for the Prince mainly concerned those delicate family matters which needed so much care, though occasionally he was used as an intermediary with some politician. He had a quarrel with the Government late in 1814, which seems only to have been healed by the Regent himself; but though this caused tongues to wag and gave the Whigs a fleeting hope of royal sunshine, it had no effect. In fact, after a short period, no one had a greater influence on George than Castlereagh himself. Charles Arbuthnot was consulted in minor affairs. The King's Private Secretary, little Colonel MacMahon, whose appointment caused a great row in Parliament, a discreet and tactful man, Sir William
Knighton, whom Wellesley recommended, and Adam, the Attorney-General, were no more than useful instruments.
There was still great difficulty about the Regent's debts and expenditure, but a partial reform took place at this time. When peace came, though George never ceased to be extravagant, he was made to feel the economy campaign, Castlereagh writing stern letters and many useless functionaries being dismissed. This George took easily enough. His building craze was waning, though Carlton House was made very magnificent, and his artistic nature sought other outlets. He was devoted to music and was an intelligent patron of the fine arts. Had not Bavaria changed sides he would have added the Ægina to the Elgin Marbles, and he even sought to bring some of Napoleon's ill-gotten treasures to London.
By this time, in theory at least, all George's brothers had reached years of discretion. With only one, the Duke of Sussex, was he now on really bad terms, and one of the consequences was that the Duke was a violent Whig and always suspected, rather unfairly, of a hand in the worst intrigues against the Regent. The doors of Carlton House were closed to him. The Duke of Gloucester, his cousin, was also altogether on the Opposition side and one of the channels through which Sir Robert Wilson circulated his misleading reports from the war area. Of the others the Dukes of York and Cambridge were both of great service. George had soon replaced the former in the position of Commander-in-Chief which he had lost through the scandal of Mrs. Clark. As has been seen, he played some part in the political crisis of 1812, but his influence did not generally extend so far outside his office. In spite of his curious menage at Broadlands he was a decided asset to his family and country.
For the Duke of Cumberland, however, no one had a good word save George himself. This violent, ugly, and vicious man, Court, Cabinet, and public alike detested; and when the Princess threatened exposure of past letters abusing the Regent, with whom he was now on the best of terms, he thought it well to depart for the Continent early in 1813, with the hope that he might obtain a military command, the Governorship of Hanover, and a wife. In only the last object was he successful, and the twice-divorced Princess Solms added to the difficulties of his position when he returned in 1815. The Cabinet, while relieved at his departure from England, refused him all help to the smallest of commands. His relatives at Mecklenburg received him with courtesy and Bernadotte with extravagant flattery. But the Tsar refused to invite him to headquarters, whither, however, he proceeded and there did his best to inflame the jealousies of the Austrians and Prussians of Alexander's primacy in the military councils of the coalition. He entered Hanover as soon as it was free from French troops, and his mortification when superseded by the Duke of Cambridge was intense. His sister, the Queen of Wurtemberg, appealed to the Regent in the highest alarm to save her from a visit. One result of this melancholy expedition was to sow suspicions of the Tsar in the Regent's mind, for while he had no illusions as to his brother's popularity, his own person was to some extent involved in the treatment meted out to him.
The Duke of Cambridge, on the other hand, was a quiet, sensible, competent, and even religious man, who seems to have handled the government of Hanover, to which he was appointed in 1813, if not with the most liberal outlook, at least with skill and tact. The Duke of Clarence, the Lord High Admiral, of whom hardly anyone thought as a future King, was of assistance when the royal visitors came to England after the peace. The Duke of Kent's opportunity had not yet come, though he asked in 1811 to be made either Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean or Master-General of the Ordnance. It must be admitted that the financial affairs and domestic relations of all the brothers were terribly complicated, and, as none of them was popular, due provision for them at this time harassed the Government by affording the more extreme Opposition an excellent opportunity to annoy.
George's eldest sister he had not seen since 1797, for she was the wife of one of Napoleon's most faithful vassals, the King of Wurtemberg, which did not, however, prevent her from receiving an allowance from Britain during the war, or from claiming for loss of exchange on the money when her husband changed sides. Her new position was signalised by a flood of letters, most of which ended in a request for subsidies or other favours for Wurtemberg. This importunity was, however, undoubtedly mainly due to her jealous and selfish husband, who watched closely her relations with her family, which he wished to exploit for his own benefit. George nevertheless treated her personally with great kindness, and sent her an invitation to London by one of his favourite courtiers, little Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt (known in the family circle as the "shortest night"). But her husband would not let her come, and it cannot be said that her begging letters had much effect on the Regent or his Ministers.
Such was the world of the Court which Castlereagh soon learnt to understand and use for his own purposes. If it gave him some trouble, it also provided opportunities not otherwise available. Above all, in the Prince Regent he had at least one man in London who was vitally interested in the shape of the new Europe and took pains to inform himself about it. Undoubtedly this mutual and exceptional interest did much to give Castlereagh that commanding position in the Regent's councils to which he gradually attained. But he kept it as a member of the Cabinet and Foreign Minister. He had hardly any private correspondence with George except on family matters. 1
Thus, though there are hints that the Prime Minister was occasionally a little jealous of Castlereagh's high favour with the Prince, which he certainly never quite obtained for himself, on the whole the two were on the most excellent terms. Liverpool was not a man who wished to impose his ideas on others, and so long as Castlereagh avoided commitments which threatened Parliamentary difficulties, he was quite content to give him a free hand. But though his confidence in Castlereagh grew in these years he never quite appreciated the difficulties of his task. During the war he was always as persistent and courageous as he was cool and circumspect. But when peace came his eyes were too much fixed on Parliament and not enough on reconstruction. He only yielded
1 So I conclude from an examination of the Londonderry Papers and Windsor Archives, though the contrary was often stated. The Prince Regent in 1814 ordered Castlereagh to write direct "if anything occurred that was not of an official nature." C.C. ix. 210.
reluctantly to the risk and effort involved in Castlereagh's determination to make a new Europe which would stand the test of time. His mind was too much occupied with domestic and party politics to realise all that was involved in the issues of the Congress of Vienna, and he regarded Castlereagh too much as Leader of the House of Commons and not sufficiently as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. But his long experience of the Foreign and the War Offices, his unfailing calm and common sense, and his profound knowledge of Parliamentary tactics were of great importance in enabling Castlereagh to carry out policies for which few of his countrymen cared. No one could make a better debating speech than Liverpool on a thorny question. He was, as a Whig critic confessed, "one of the most prudent ministers and debaters in Parliament he ever knew, and that he is besides a man in the House of Lords who is ready to turn out in all weathers--a form of speech formerly much in use in Ireland to describe ready and daring speakers." 1 However much Liverpool had hung back before the decisions were made, he was a tower of strength when they had to be defended at home.
With the other member of the Government who was most concerned with foreign affairs, the Earl of Bathurst, Secretary of State for War and Colonies, Castlereagh worked most harmoniously. Bathurst, who also had held the Foreign Office for a short time and acted as locum-tenens in Castlereagh's absence abroad, was one of the most assiduous, modest, and equable of Ministers. His correspondence shews a breadth of view to which none of his colleagues except Castlereagh attained. He supported Castlereagh as loyally as he did Wellington. Their minds often ran on similar lines, and Bathurst was more in sympathy with Castlereagh during the crisis at Vienna 2 than any other member of the Cabinet. Bathurst was in any case an ideal colleague; for while he did his own job well enough, he was always ready to help and give credit to others. No other member of the Cabinet did so much to preserve its unity.
1 W. Sichel, The Glenbervie Journals, 203-204. The remark was Tierney's, one of the mildest of Whigs at this time.
2 Castlereagh took his son, the young Lord Apsley, to the Congress as a member of the British delegation.
Of the old brigade neither Eldon, the Chancellor, nor Sidmouth, the Home Secretary, took much interest in foreign affairs. They were absorbed in domestic politics. Harrowby, who was really experienced, seems to have been foremost in his confidence in Castlereagh and was generally content with a hint or two from the side lines. Another ex-Foreign Secretary, Mulgrave, nearly always shewed the same confidence. Camden, who was made a Marquess in September for giving up his office to Sidmouth, was, of course, delighted with his relative's return to power. Melville at the Admiralty was too mediocre a man to have much influence, while the Earl of Buckingham at the Board of Control was something less than that. Of the two Cabinet Ministers in the Lower House, Vansittart, a pis aller, who had the terribly difficult job of Chancellor of the Exchequer, occasionally protested at Castlereagh's distinctly aristocratic attitude towards finance, but he was always induced to give way in the end. Bragge Bathurst, who had been given the Duchy of Lancaster because of his loyalty to Sidmouth, was even duller than his patron.
That the Cabinet was obviously not one of All the Talents was one of the main reasons why Castlereagh was able to carry out his bold and adventurous policy in foreign affairs. But he could not have done so unless he had won the confidence of his colleagues by his superior knowledge, powers of work, and loyal and consistent conduct. The Duke of Buckingham had at the time characterised Castlereagh's appointment as an "intrigue," but he later testified to the rapidity with which the new Foreign Minister established his ascendancy over men who had until then never appreciated fully his merits: ". . . so opposed was his nature to display, that his previous colleagues had never given him credit for the resources he possessed. In a very little time he proved that a more accomplished statesman had rarely entered a Cabinet, and the stability Lord Liverpool's administration enjoyed was due as much to the interest and affection with which Lord Castlereagh inspired his coadjutors as to the conscientious discharge of duty, of which he continued to set them an admirable example." 1
1 Buckingham, Memoirs of the Regency, ii. 11.
Of the younger members of the Ministry, Robinson, Treasurer of the Navy, was a good subordinate to Castlereagh in 1814, while his devoted friend Clancarty, President of the Board of Trade, was brought into the Diplomatic service. Huskisson succeeded him in 1814. The young Croker was already Secretary of the Admiralty and, through the Quarterly and his connection with the Times, exercising an influence on Tory tactics, which he shared with Charles Arbuthnot, the Treasury Secretary, who was a confidant of the Prince Regent and, through his wife, of Wellington. The modest Secretary at War, Viscount Palmerston, who had already refused Cabinet office, does not seem to have taken exceptional interest in foreign affairs.
None of these young men, however, had yet much influence with the House of Commons, and it was there that the Government was weakest, neither Vansittart nor Bathurst commanding much respect. This sufficiently explains Liverpool's anxiety to bring in Canning. The Catholic question was raised repeatedly in 1812 and 1813, and as the Government was more than ever divided, it was no light burden on Castlereagh's tact to continue his support of liberal measures without offending his colleagues. Moreover, though the Government could always rely on a majority for the war, there were crosscurrents of opinion which needed careful watching. The revolt against the Orders in Council was rightly regarded as a sign of the growing influence of the commercial classes. Their spokesman, Alexander Baring, was anxious to settle all differences with the United States as soon as possible, and though no one advocated the abandonment of 'maritime rights,' the new war, in which but little glory was won, continued to embarrass the Government. The unrest in the provinces gradually died down in 1812, but throughout the period the London mob were always a source of anxiety. Most important of all was the necessity of raising huge sums not only for Britain's own efforts but also for her Allies. The strain on the power of Britain to send money to a Continent from which her trade was shut out by the Continental System was tremendous. Cash payments had been suspended and the paper pound depreciated by 30 per cent. in 1811. In spite of Ricardo's pamphlet and Horner's Committee neither the Government nor the community properly appreciated the causes of this fact--perhaps fortunately so. At any rate, in spite of all obstacles, the cash was found, largely through the financial genius of two men--J. C. Herries, the Commissary General, and Nathan Rothschild, whose services in 1813 in collecting gold, even from Paris itself, made a deep impression on British statesmen. These were, however, quite unable to learn the rudiments of international finance. Herries bitterly complained that, in spite of his instruction, the mistakes of 1813 and 1814 were repeated in 1815. But somehow or other obligations were always met. 1
The House accepted these burdens comparatively easily, for the heaviest did not come until victories also could be reported. Only on one question did it shew itself to have a mind of its own. The Abolition of the Slave Trade had now been made a permanent feature of British politics, and the Government had constantly to take it into consideration in the arrangements which it made with its Allies over colonial matters. This preoccupation added immensely to Castlereagh's burden in the period of reconstruction. But he coped with all these difficulties far more successfully than had been expected, and easily held his own until the turn of the tide in 1813. In spite of his reputation as a bad speaker, he learnt how to manage the House remarkably quickly. In 1814 the great successes kept the House quiet until he returned in the summer, but while he was at Vienna his colleagues proved quite incapable of maintaining the Government's advantage, and only the short length of the autumn session and Castlereagh's return saved the situation. The lead was a terrific strain on the Foreign Minister at such a time, yet was perhaps necessary to give him the position of vantage and authority in carrying his own policies through the House.
1 An account of the methods of financing the Allies is much needed. Some glimpses into the fascinating story can be obtained from E. Herries' Memoirs of John C. Herries and various accounts of the Rothschilds, including Count Corti The Rise of the House of Rothschild. But I hope that Prof. J. H. Clapham is wrong in claiming that his interesting article on "Loans and Subsidies in Time of War, 1793-1914," in the Economic Journal, Dec. 1917, is "probably all that economists will care to know about British subsidies in time of war" during that period.
For now less than ever had the war brought a party truce. On the contrary, it seemed to increase and embitter the rivalries of parties and persons. Fortunately for Castlereagh, the Opposition were split into factions, which even their dislike of the Government could not weld into a formidable body. Though Grenville and Grey seemed firmly united in 1812, they were divided by fundamental differences of principle and outlook. Lord Holland did not agree with them about Spain, which he had seen with his own eyes, though he had an unreasoning admiration for its attacker. In the Lower House the Whigs were perpetually harassed by the irresponsible conduct of the little band of men who were now called the "Mountain" and were soon to be known as "Radicals." These, so far as they admitted of being controlled at all, looked for guidance to Whitbread rather than to George Ponsonby, the official Whig leader, Tierney his principal colleague, or their chiefs in the Lords. Whitbread, though warm-hearted and honest, had no sense of reality, and his conduct, which Grey, his brother-in-law, scarcely ventured to defend, gradually drove Grenville almost frantic. Creevey's attacks on the sinecures were also repulsive to the Grenvillites, who enjoyed a huge revenue from them. Neither the economist Horner nor Romilly, the Reformer and best of all the Whigs, knew much about foreign affairs. Brougham was ready to choose any route to advancement, and after his great triumph over the Orders in Council offered to serve under Castlereagh to negotiate a peace with the United States. He was out of Parliament after the elections of 1812 until 1816, but as legal adviser to the Princess he was able to harass the Government as much as anybody. Sir James Mackintosh, just returned from India, was ardent in his researches in the Archives, but his historical knowledge, as is sometimes the case, made his excursions into practical politics terribly doctrinaire.
Above all, the Whigs lacked both deep conviction and reliable information. They dreaded the might of Napoleon as much as those they opposed, and their cowardly opportunism did not do justice to themselves or to their country. Had they come into power they might have abandoned Spain, but they could not have made peace with France. No wonder Grey preferred domestic to Parliamentary duties at such a time. It is, however, almost incredible that he should have relied so much on the inaccurate and unfair reports of Sir Robert Wilson, who served in the Russian campaign as a volunteer and then in a military capacity as part of the British mission. Brave and energetic as Wilson undoubtedly was, his stupid vanity and itch for fame led him into the most ridiculous criticisms of the Government he was serving. Yet Grey seems to have accepted him as a reliable authority even after his information and his confident prophecies had repeatedly been proved false.
Until Vittoria the Opposition were in a strong position. After that overwhelming triumph their morale was shattered. Even Grey recanted in private, and, if a Grenville could never be wrong, henceforward there was a new spirit at Dropmore, where Napoleon had always been hated. As for Canning, Vittoria and Leipzig completed his discomfiture. The refusal of the Foreign Office at such a period of his country's history had, as he himself confessed, begun to look not merely unpatriotic but ridiculous. But if he suffered intensely, his character was strengthened and ennobled by the time of trial. He celebrated the victories in speeches which put into words what Castlereagh felt but could not express. Such criticisms as he made were generally well founded and moderately phrased. He set his too-devoted followers free to follow their own fortunes, and after peace was made, accepted the Lisbon Embassy to his own detriment, partly at any rate for their sake. 1 He was thus removed from all influence during the period of reconstruction.
But even after the tide of war had turned, the Whigs were led into untenable positions by their foolish appreciations of the situation. During the peace settlement they had greater opportunities for obtaining information, and their conduct is all the more reprehensible. Wilson established
1 Professor Temperley makes this point clear in his article "Joan Canning on her Husband's Policy and Ideas" ( English Historical Review, July 1930, p. 425). Huskisson and Sturges Bourne were given office; and the peerage granted to Leveson-Gower, whose bad advice in 1812 Canning bitterly recalled in 1813, was also probably part of the bargain.
connections with all those who opposed British policy, and he was, of course, supplied by them with the most biased and inaccurate account of events. Thus, while it was sometimes possible to embarrass the Government by the production of confidential papers, the manner in which the information was used destroyed the effect it might have produced.
This incompetence made the task of Castlereagh much lighter than it might have been, but it exercised a bad effect on the process of reconstruction. For on many points the Opposition might have exerted a beneficent influence on events had they applied their principles with more knowledge and understanding. As it was, they were led by faction and ignorance into the grossest of blunders. Only the great contribution which Grey later made to history can palliate the weakness and selfishness of his conduct during this period. 1
If the Opposition was factious and unreasonable, the Press was sometimes even worse behaved. Wellington, who never ceased to denounce it, was of course unusually petulant and unfair when he told Croker that, "owing to the ignorance and presumption and licentiousness of the Press, the most ignorant people in the world of military and political affairs are the people of England." The British Press was, in fact, the best in the world; and Gentz, a prince of publicists, confessed that in 1812 it was his greatest enjoyment. It was, indeed, the only uncensored and free expression of opinion in Europe.
It must be admitted, however, that Wellington was so far right that its pages were continually disfigured by bias and sensation. It had no sense of fairness either to domestic or foreign enemies, yet one of Wellington's most serious complaints was that it gave away information to the enemy, even when it was misleading the British public. It was with one or two exceptions highly patriotic, and in these years the crescendo of abuse of Napoleon and France swelled into a loud and vindictive clamour. Only the Morning Chronicle, under the brave and skilful Perry, continued to advocate the unpopular view of a negotiated peace. The Times, owing to the energy and foresight of Mr. Walter, was by far the best
1 Professor G. M. Trevelyan, in Lord Grey of the Reform Bill, naturally passes somewhat lightly over this period of Grey's life, of which the late H. W. C. Davis has indicated the weakness in his Age of Grey and Peel.
informed, but its editorial columns were packed with abuse. Wellesley had a great influence on its policy until 1814.
For the most part, the Government left the Press alone as impossible to control. It seems to have been the Prince Regent who first thought of influencing it, or at any rate possessing advocates amongst it to circulate or contradict opinions as policy might suggest--a course to which he was driven by the delicacy of his family affairs. Charles Arbuthnot, the Secretary of the Treasury, was his agent, assisted by MacMahon. Even the "diabolical Morning Chronicle was tackled, and Perry was induced at one moment to profess his belief in the Prince's case against his wife, and to promise silence on his family affairs, though he reserved his right to deal with anything affecting public policy. The Regent wanted, however, active support, and Arbuthnot considered many schemes for getting it. From his efforts came the unpaid but influenced semi-official support of the Courier, and later the hired subservience of the New Times and the Anti-Gallican, which developed into something like a Government Press. But the effect was small, and the Press continued its irresponsible and, it must be admitted, often inaccurate dissemination of news without control. 1
That the bulk of the Press was violently chauvinistic was an index of public opinion. Of the steadfastness of the mass of the nation under the ordeal of battle there is, indeed, abundant proof. Only in 1811 and 1812, when an economic crisis added greatly to the burden, were there riots and burnings, but these had little to do with the war. It is true that the fleet could only be recruited by a press gang, but that was partly due to adventure and freedom of private trading. The merchant classes, too, were growing richer in spite of the
1 The general attitude of the Press towards Napoleon has been analysed in F. J. MacCunn The Contemporary English View of Napoleons. Wellington's stricture is given in Croker Papers, 41. For typical comments to and by him, see W.S.D. vii. 62, 303, 353, 427, 457; and Gurwood, xi. 431. Wellesley's influence on the Times is in a letter of Goldsmith ( F.O. Great Britain, 23). He employed 'Vetus,' Edward Sterling, to write in it. The Regent's attitude is revealed by letters from Arbuthnot in the Windsor Archives. A scheme for an organised propaganda bureau to influence both domestic and foreign opinion, submitted to Carlton House by the notorious Lewis Goldsmith through the Duke of Cumberland, seems to have been wisely refused. Large sums were spent later by the Regent in buying up malevolent caricatures and pamphlets.
blockade, and though they overthrew the Orders in Council their support of the war never failed.
The country gentlemen and the governing aristocracy supplied the leaders on the field of battle. Their patriotism was, however, peculiar to the class and the time, and often seems strangely diluted. The highest generals were always apt to refuse to serve for some personal motive, and suffered little thereby. It was impossible for this reason to arrange for a second-in-command to Wellington. Sinecures were seized by all who could obtain them, and the Marquess of Buckingham thought he was generous in offering to give back one-third of his swollen receipts from that source. But little stigma rested on those who made no effort to serve their country at such a time, and English literature shews how much national energy remained unabsorbed and even unaffected by the war. Britain had, indeed, so long been cut off from the Continent that only a few could follow the shifting kaleidoscope with any intelligence. 1
The habits of the upper classes had, of course, been much changed, for only the most adventurous civilians were able to obtain foreign travel, and the Grand Tour ceased to be a normal part of the education of the young aristocrat. No wonder that as soon as peace came the British flocked to Paris and Italy in shoals. This exodus caused some resentment in those classes at home which had received the money now spent abroad, while it hardly added to the popularity of Britain on the Continent. There was much vulgar curiosity displayed as well as a genuine interest in the new Europe. The panic of the travellers caught in 1815 by the return of Napoleon and the adventure of Murat also hardly added to British prestige. There was something to be said for the dictum of a British consul: "I think the English are never so respectable as when they are shut up in their own island and at war with the whole world." 2
1 "How can you ask who is Prince Metternich? I thought everybody knew the fame of so great a person," Lady Burghersh had to write to a friend as late as January 1814. Rose Weigall, Letters of Lady Burghersh, 160.
2 Rachel Weigall, Corres. of Lord Burghersh, 181.
4. THE FOREIGN MINISTER AND THE DIPLOMATIC MACHINE
IT was fortunate that Castlereagh brought to his new position great powers of work, for Wellesley's slackness had caused considerable arrears to accumulate. A new energy, however, soon penetrated every part of the official machine. In a sense, the war had reduced the work of the Foreign Office considerably by 1812, for Britain was cut off from formal diplomatic relations with almost all Europe. But the problems were there and all the more difficult because the information about them was often sparse and unreliable. As Napoleon's power waned, state after state came back into the circle of British friendship, and it thus fell to Castlereagh to appoint almost the whole of the diplomatic service by the end of 1815.
In 1814 and 1815, however, Castlereagh was in himself almost the whole diplomatic machine, since for sixteen months of the two years he was on the Continent in close proximity to the sovereigns and statesmen of the Great Powers and many of those of second rank. The usual methods of diplomacy were in abeyance, and affairs were discussed round the council table rather than by dispatch from Court to Court. The Foreign Minister learnt to know the personalities as well as the problems of Europe to a degree none of his predecessors had ever attained. But the number of problems was so great during the period that he needed all the assistance which could be given by capable subordinates, of whom, however, he had but few.
To the Foreign Office he took with him, in accordance with custom, a new Under-Secretary of State. This could be none other than Edward Cooke, of Eton and Kings, his friend and follower ever since he had first taken office in Ireland. He was placed in control of the Northern Department, but he kept an eye on all important subjects. There was complete harmony of outlook and method between the two men, and Cooke knew the affairs of the family as well as Castlereagh himself, though he was always a subordinate, and his attitude to Castlereagh was one of respect and admiration. He was, like his chief, an indefatigable worker, but unfortunately his health had already become impaired. His illness in 1813 threw much extra work on Castlereagh, and he collapsed completely under the strain of the Congress of Vienna, one reason, no doubt, why Philip Morier, one of a famous family of diplomats, acted temporarily as an Under-Secretary of State in 1815.
The other Under-Secretary, William Hamilton, who had the Southern Department, had been brought into that position by Harrowby. He has to his credit a share in bringing both the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles to Britain. Without ever possessing the same intimacy with Castlereagh as Cooke, he was on sufficiently friendly terms with his chief to write a jesting letter at times. The more technical part of the office was in his hands. Castlereagh also inherited Joseph Planta, his private secretary, who accompanied him on all his expeditions to the Continent, an efficient civil servant of good manners, very popular with both foreigners and his own countrymen, but with no desire to initiate or influence policy. He had other Etonians in the office, of which the discipline and hours of work were rather lax, according to some observers.
The diplomatic service had almost ceased to exist in 1812. Only six missions were in existence, five of them to Courts whose monarch was either in exile, imprisonment, or had lost the greater part of his dominions. With the rest of Europe British connections were maintained by other channels which had gradually come into operation during the course of the war. Most important of these was that through the Hanoverian residents at the Courts of Vienna and Berlin, whose correspondence with Münster was used to keep Austria and Prussia in touch with Britain, even at the height of Napoleon's power. Count Hardenberg, who had won
Metternich's confidence, was by far the more important of the two and, as will be seen, had considerable influence on events in the critical period after Napoleon's return from Russia. Ompteda, whose brother was fighting in the Peninsula, was less trusted by the Prussian Chancellor and Münster, but supplied a large amount of useful information. That they should have been allowed to continue their functions in so open a fashion is one of the curiosities of the extraordinary situation in which Europe found itself. Hanover had no Minister at Petersburg, but there the Duke of Serra Capriola, who continued to represent unofficially the King of the Two Sicilies, provided the necessary link. He helped Stratford Canning in his delicate negotiations in 1812, and was later rewarded by Castlereagh for his services to Britain with a diamond snuff-box. The Spaniard Zea Bermudez played a similar rôle.
There were also a number of British agents employed in obtaining information. These men generally travelled with false passports as merchants, and were, of course, always liable to be disowned by the Government. Most of them had foreign wives and often they were of foreign origin. That they ran serious danger was shewn by the mysterious murder of Bathurst, an accredited envoy, in 1809. Of the four who were employed in South Germany and Austria in 1812-13, King at Vienna was the most prominent. Johnson, the most efficient, was also in Austria for a time and established communications through the Adriatic with Bentinck. George Mills, less reputable and fortunate, was expelled from Vienna in 1812. The most extraordinary amongst them was Horn, who returned to the Continent in 1813 and much annoyed the poor Queen of Wurtemberg by pretending that he had been sent by the British Government to establish relations. The information supplied by such men was, of course, unreliable in the extreme. They were all anxious to magnify the importance of their position and full of schemes which would enable them to handle money. There were also secret agents at Paris, of whom Darby was the best known, who sent over quantities of not very illuminating information.
Not only was this information suspect, but it was exceedingly difficult to obtain it in anything like reasonable time. From 1810 to 1812 the supervision of the north coast grew ever stricter, and when Napoleon at last invaded Swedish Pomerania the last easy place of entrance had gone. Ompteda sometimes had to wait long periods before an opportunity presented itself of forwarding his own and Hardenberg's dispatches. Attempts were made to organise a route to Vienna from Scutari, and Count Hardenberg had to receive his remittances via Constantinople. Not until Hamburg was finally secured in the end of 1813 was there a quick route to central Germany and Austria.
By that time a regular diplomatic service was in process of formation. The principal posts went by favour in accordance with the custom of the times. Moreover, since Europe was at war, the two principal Ambassadors, the Earl of Cathcart and Sir Charles Stewart, were both soldiers. While it is not fair to call them, as Gentz did, "real caricatures of Ambassadors" whose "whole behaviour is an epigram on England," 1 yet they hardly added to our diplomatic reputation. The Earl of Aberdeen was too young for his job, and the only one of these important appointments which gave real satisfaction was that of the Earl of Clancarty to the Hague. For the Paris Embassy Wellington himself was selected, and one of the results of his short stay was the purchase of Pauline Borghese's hotel as the British Embassy. Wellington, though not without some grave defects as a diplomatist, was of great assistance to Castlereagh by reason of his great prestige, energy, and knowledge. No one else gave so much help in the reconstruction of Europe. Fortunately, the two men were already close friends, and there does not seem ever to have been a shadow between them during the complicated and delicate negotiations of 1814 and 1815. In Wellington's brother Henry, who continued to represent Britain in Spain, Castlereagh had also an efficient and reliable subordinate. Sir Charles Stuart was not quite so happy in Portugal but he was promoted in 1814, first temporarily to Paris and then to Brussels, where he had the unexpected and difficult task, which he performed very creditably, of being
1 Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Briefe von Gentz an Pilat, i. 21.
attached to the twice-exiled Louis XVIII. Viscount Strangford shewed courage and resource in Brazil. In Sicily Lord William Bentinck's extraordinary conduct was eventually to cause great inconvenience. Thornton in Sweden did not entirely satisfy Castlereagh, who refused him the K.C.B. which was granted to Wellesley and Stuart.
Castlereagh was not responsible for the appointment of old Robert Liston, who eventually relieved young Stratford Canning from his temporary position of such great importance at Constantinople, but he had the discernment to send the young man at the age of twenty-seven to the difficult position of Minister to the Swiss Confederation, not only for his cousin's sake, but also because he saw in him "precision of understanding and a stock of principle in his mind."
There was no lack of applicants for junior office, since many peers and others rich enough to bear the expense were anxious to give their sons the insight into the European world thus acquired. Until the end of 1815 such appointments were in the hands of the Office, and Clancarty warned Castlereagh not to let the patronage slip, as it later did, into the hands of the Ambassadors and Ministers themselves. These young men had no special training, and if we are to believe George Rose, a steady worker, who was first at Bavaria and then raised to Berlin, most of the Secretaries of Legation knew neither German nor French, "the one the key to the North, the other to the South of Europe." Thornton, when in need of a secretary, was also contemptuous of the training of the Foreign Office. "I do not think your discipline strict enough," he told Cooke, "or your employment regular and methodical enough to suit my purpose." It was only natural that the service should need overhauling after the suspension of employment during the war, and this it received, though in a mild way, when peace finally came. The consular service was in even greater need of drastic treatment, and in 1812 every consul in the Mediterranean was on his way home on account of either misbehaviour or ill-health. It was never satisfactorily staffed in Castlereagh's time. 1
1 "To Liverpool, April 27, 1814": C.C. ix. 509. "From Rose, Nov. 23, 1815": Lond. MSS. " Thornton to Cooke, April 24, 1813": F. O. Sweden, 82. "From Clancarty, Dec. 13, 1815": C.C. xi. 99.
Indeed, it must be confessed that Castlereagh made no great contribution to the machinery of the Diplomatic Service. While he treated his subordinates with the greatest consideration, he never set himself to overhaul the whole machine of which he was head. Like many industrious men, he relied too much on himself and did not seek the relief which better organisation and less care for the interests of family and friends would have given him. 1
Castlereagh preferred to keep the threads of a negotiation in his own hands, and he wrote most of his dispatches, on policy, with his own pen. Parliament kept him in town a great deal, and his position forced those entertainments after the play in which Lady Castlereagh delighted and her husband acquiesced. He was always happiest, however, in the country. He escaped whenever he could to his cottage at North Cray, celebrated for its flowers, and there he was able to work serenely at the most important dispatches amidst the clamour of a family party, which he preferred to the isolation of his study. "He liked the society of young people," his favourite niece, Emma, tells us, "and far from checking their mirth and their nonsense, he enjoyed and encouraged it, with his own fun and cheerfulness. His tastes were simple: he loved the country and a country life, and it was delightful to see his look of quiet happiness while taking a saunter after an early dinner, in his pretty grounds at Cray, and finishing with an evening ride or drive, often prolonged until after dark. On his return home he would sit down and write at the same table, round which we all sat. If an air were played that pleased him, he would go to the pianoforte and sing it; if a waltz, he would say, 'Emma, let us take a turn,' and after waltzing for a few minutes, he would resume his writing. His power of abstraction was indeed remarkable; our talking and laughter did not disturb him; once only do I recollect that he rose from his chair laughing, and saying, 'You are too much
1 He did, however, improve the financial position of the service and thus made it easier for those without private means to make it a profession. Salaries were raised in 1815 and special allowances regulated. These included "loss by exchange," which in some cases Castlereagh had paid out of his own pocket, and another item which the previous three years had shewn very necessary: "Fêtes and illuminations on occasions of public rejoicing." F.O. Great Britain, 10.
for me to-night,' carried off his papers, to what was called his own room, but in which he rarely, if ever, sat, always preferring the general drawing-room. The next morning at breakfast, he good-humouredly observed, 'You fairly beat me last night. I was writing what I may call the metaphysics of politics.'" 1
Later the representatives of foreign Powers were often invited to Cray, and some of Castlereagh's most important conversations took place there. But in this period they played but a small part, since Castlereagh, during most of 1814 and 1815, was in personal contact with their masters. His French, which was not good when he entered office, improved considerably through the practice of these years. Only four were resident in London in February 1812, and as they gradually appeared in 1813 and 1814 it took them some time to settle down. Austria, it is true, was never without some kind of representation, for an old deaf and blind secretary, Reigersfeld, had been left behind when war was declared. General Nugent had been used by Metternich as his special agent in 1811, and he returned in 1812 after a very long journey. Wessenberg, sent on a special mission in 1813, remained, of course, unofficial until Austria joined the Allies. Though a man of great ability, he was quite unsuitable for this difficult and thankless task, and was relieved by General Merveldt in 1814, who, too, shewed little tact until his sudden death in July 1815 made the office vacant once more.
Count and Countess Lieven began at the end of 1812 their long residence as representatives of Russia. The Countess is, however, of but small importance in this period. She was at the outset unhappy and unpopular, and the visit of the Grand Duchess Catharine made her more so. Her peculiar position in London Society and the hearts of British statesmen took some time to establish. Baron Jacobi, who represented Prussia, returned to an old post with plenty of experience-too much in fact, for age and infirmity had made him of little account. Louis XVIII.'s representative, Count de la Châtre, was an émigré of no great sense or weight. The Spanish Duc
1 Countess Brownlow, Slight Reminiscences of a Septuagenarian ( 1867). 191-92.
de Fernan Nuñez created much embarrassment by his struggle for precedence, which absorbed much of his energy at this crisis in his country's fortunes. The Sicilian Castelcicala tried without much success to defend the strange conduct of his master, while the Portuguese Court transacted little business through Count Funchal. The truth was that the state of Europe, and the fact that Castlereagh in 1814 and 1815 spent most of his time in conference with the sovereigns and First Ministers of Europe, deprived of much importance their representatives, most of whom did not reach London until the end of 1813. Those who tried to influence affairs behind Castlereagh's back, like Lieven or Merveldt, soon found out their mistake. Their position, indeed, was not an enviable one. Most of their countries found it difficult to send them funds, while the cost of living they thought ruinous. 1
If foreign Ambassadors were few in the earlier years of the period, there was no lack of other foreigners of every kind who had been driven from the Continent by Napoleon's hostility. They supplied some information and advice, but for the most part were too much out of touch with affairs to be very helpful. On the whole, Britain's conduct towards these unfortunates does credit to her sensibility. Most important of all was Louis XVIII., whose little Court at Hartwell was almost forgotten in 1812. The Regent, however, always treated him and his family with the greatest kindness, even when there seemed not the slightest chance of his restoration. His conduct had been perfect, the Duchess of Angoulême told Fanny Burney. 2
Many French émigrés received pensions from British funds. Perhaps the most notable amongst them was Doumouriez, the conqueror of Belgium, whose memoirs on every conceivable strategical and diplomatic project cumber the public
1 The debts which the Austrian Stahremberg left behind him in 1810 were attributed to parsimony rather than penury, but his successors were put to hard shifts. Wessenberg estimated his expenses at 8000 guineas per annum, but Merveldt put it at the lowest at £12,834 without any luxuries such as theatres. Indeed, he thought £17,000 the least sum on which an Ambassador could live decently. He reported that Lieven's allowance had been increased to more than double that amount. During 1811 Reigersfeld had sold the Embassy plate to keep himself alive, and Merveldt replaced it out of subsidy payments much to Metternich's anger.
2 C. Barrett, Diary and Letters of Madams D'Arblay, 139-40.
and private archives of the period. Wellington received large quantities, but only corresponded with him, he said, to keep him from caballing with the Princes. The young Corsican, Pozzo di Borgo, Napoleon's fiercest enemy, was gradually establishing confidence, while other refugees, such as the Swiss Sir François d'Ivernois, brought useful talents to the service of the state. Amongst those who had quarrelled with Napoleon and sought refuge in Britain was his brother Lucien, whose literary labours at Dinham and Thorngrove have been the subject of Masson's bitterest irony. His sojourn, which seems hardly to have aroused as much interest as might have been expected, was allowed without great suspicion on the part of the authorities. When, however, Mlle. George, the notorious French actress, applied through Bernadotte for permission to come to Britain to perform, Thornton thought a line ought to be drawn. The most famous of all the visitors was, of course, Madame de Staël. The persecution of Napoleon assured her a warm welcome even amongst those who did not appreciate her literary labours, but the memoirs abound with anecdotes of the sensation caused by the manners and table talk of this ardent blue stocking. 1
1 Stanhope, Conversations, 70. F. Masson, Napoleon et sa famille, vii. 169-82, 409-422; viii. 321-27. There are five volumes on Lucien in the Foreign Office Archives (F.O. France, 84, 85, 89, 93, 110). On Dec. 21, 1811, Wellesley commented to the Regent on a proposal to entertain Lucien at Cheltenham: "It is unnecessary to state to your Royal Highness the impropriety of this request and the impossibility of granting it without great public inconvenience" ( Windsor Arch.). From Thornton, April 4, 1813, on Mlle. George: " . . . though the lady herself may not come under the character of an intrigante, yet I think the mistress of Bonaparte is not exactly the most proper person to be admitted into England" (F.O. Sweden, 82).
5. THE LEGACY OF PITT 1
"IN his public life he has never had and never will have an equal, as a private individual he honoured and adorned human nature." If history has not quite endorsed this eulogy of Pitt by Count Vorontzov, the Russian Ambassador, at the time of his death, his figure will always remain as a monument of genius and virtue. Though he died with his task unfulfilled, he left behind him a legacy of courage and perseverance to his pupils, of whom Castlereagh was the most trusted and the most imbued with the ideas of his master. But Pitt left more than that behind him; for before he died he had worked out a complete scheme of European reconstruction, which was to be Castlereagh's guide when in happier circumstances he enjoyed something of Pitt's power in the councils of Britain and Europe.
The plan was due not only to the necessities of the time, but also to the dreams of the young monarch with whom Castlereagh was to share so much of the responsibility for the reconstruction of Europe. For Pitt, as a true Englishman, avoided generalisations and aspirations, and would probably never have constructed so comprehensive a scheme or touched on such debateable topics if he had not been challenged by the impulsive fantasies of the Tsar Alexander. He tried to turn a vague and emotional proposition into a practical and comprehensive plan for uniting Europe against Napoleon, and reconstructing it in such a manner that, if peace were won, it could be maintained. Castlereagh himself had later more than once to apply the same process to Alexander's lucubrations.
1 For the background of this section I have, of course, relied on Professor Holland Rose Pitt and Napoleon, and also the essay "Pitt's Plans for the Settlement of Europe" in his Napoleonic Studies ( 3rd edn., 1914) and his Dispatches relating to the Third Coalition ( 1904).
In 1804 Alexander was still in the first flush of his liberalism. He wished to apply the ideas he had learnt from his Swiss tutor, La Harpe, to a new crusade on behalf of Europe, to whose assistance his father, the mad Paul, had already sent Russian troops as far as Italy and Switzerland, a new phenomenon in the balance of European power. The young Pole, Czartoryski, full of ambition and love of his country, and anxious to use his new position to serve both, was now in charge of foreign affairs, and he and a group of young Russians encouraged the Tsar in these schemes. An understanding for common defence had already been made with Austria. But British gold was needed to bring a coalition into being, and at the end of October 1804 the young Novosiltzov was sent by the Tsar and Czartoryski to London on a special mission, since Count Vorontzov was considered too old-fashioned for the purpose. The Russian was vain and presumptuous, but he had the complete confidence of Czartoryski and of himself, and certainly brought new ideas and methods to London.
His instructions, written by Czartoryski, breathed a spirit of lofty idealism in which, however, the objects of the Tsar and his Minister found an appropriate place. The old Europe was gone for ever. The new Europe must take into account the spirit of the times. The old feudalism must be replaced by liberal governments, founded on "the sacred rights of humanity." All monarchs must endow their subjects with modern constitutions. Even the Ottoman Empire must be encouraged to reform itself, if by joining France it did not lay itself open to more drastic treatment. France herself must not be made an exception, for it was not the French people but Napoleon who was responsible for the difficulties of Europe.
Once the new Europe had been constituted, it was to be endowed with a new system of international law. Why should not states accept an obligation not to go to war without first invoking the mediation of a third party for an inquiry into the causes of the dispute? Any state that defied the new Europe might be expected to bring upon itself immediately a coalition of all the others, but the privileges of "neutrality" should also be assured, and this point led naturally to the hope that British 'maritime rights' might be reconsidered--another of Paul's favourite objects.
Finally, Britain and Russia must take the new Europe under their special protection as the only Powers "who by their position are invariably interested in the reign there of order and justice, the only ones who by their position can maintain it, and being free from conflicting desires and interests will never trouble this happy tranquillity."
Some concrete suggestions were included. The King of Sardinia should be restored to Piedmont, if he would grant a constitution to his subjects. The Italian republics should be rescued from French control. Switzerland's independence should be re-established, and she should be enlarged and endowed with a democratic constitution. Holland should also be rescued from French influence and placed under a Stadtholder, who, of course, must be a constitutional ruler. As for the German states, they should be united in a Federation from which Prussia and Austria were excluded, thus making a balancing power between the two. One of the features of the dispatch was, indeed, the neglect of the interests of these two Powers. 1
It is impossible to tell how completely or in what form these far-reaching and grandiloquent ideas were brought to Pitt's notice. He seems to have judged Novosiltzov's character pretty accurately, and tried, so far as he could, to transfer the negotiation to Count Vorontzov, with whom he was on good terms. But the Ambassador was by the Tsar's orders not at first informed of Novosiltzov's instructions, and it was necessary to discuss them with the young envoy and to humour his vanity and presumption. Gradually the various propositions appeared and much discussion took place, but it was not until two months had passed that Pitt was prepared with his reply.
There was much in the Russian proposition that must have been either incomprehensible or obnoxious to Pitt's mind.
1 The mission of Novosiltzov can be followed in Czartoryski, Mémoiros ( 2 vols., 1887), vol. i. chap. xi., vol. ii., pp. 27-66. The 'secret' instructions probably never reached Pitt or Novosiltzov. The account of the negotiations by the envoy ( F. Martens, Recueil des Instructions, xi. 95-105) shews that most of the ideas were brought at one time or another to Pitt's notice. Sir William Scott was consulted as to 'maritime rights'!
The last thing which he desired was a crusade either for constitutional liberty or republican freedom. Nor could the references to British maritime rights, nor the hint as to the partition of the Ottoman Empire, have been very palatable to him. But Russia was the key to the new coalition, which he hoped would overthrow Napoleon. The great thing was to get her to move, and draw Austria and Prussia in the same direction. For this reason the objects of the war must be defined and the outline of the new Europe sketched in such a manner that each of the Great Powers would see its main interest in joining it. The Tsar had hardly alluded to the objects which the other two Great Powers might be expected to desire. He must be encouraged to envisage plans which would attract them to his side. Moreover, while the immediate object was to overthrow Napoleon, Pitt also wished Austria and Prussia to be guardians of European peace quite as much as Russia--indeed, in a sense, more so, for he wished them to be so against Russia as well as against France, though this object naturally could not be avowed.
Fortunately most of the Tsar's territorial proposals were aims which Pitt could support and had already formulated on more than one occasion. The independence of Holland, Switzerland, and Sardinia was essential to the liberties of Europe. Indeed, in spite of the Peace of Amiens, no English statesman could be content with that line which left the mouth of the Rhine and Scheldt, including Antwerp, in French possession. Pitt had already therefore, in 1795 and 1799, put forward plans, first for restoring Austria to her old possessions in Belgium, and later, after Austria had signed them away, for adding Belgium to Holland in order to establish the northern 'barrier' against France. In the same way he had always wished to strengthen Sardinia, to enable her to check French expansion in the Mediterranean, and had already suggested that she should incorporate Genoa, so as to keep that important harbour out of French control.
The Tsar's challenge and the hope of combining the three Great Powers in a common effort against Napoleon now led him to a more extended review of the reconstruction of Europe than he had ever before attempted. Since it was written at a moment when one Foreign Minister, Harrowby, owing to illness, was yielding place to another, Mulgrave, who was admittedly of no great capacity, it seems improbable that either had much to do with it. Canning saw it and admired it, but his confidential relations with Pitt had been destroyed by his opposition to the inclusion of Addington in the Cabinet, and he confessed that he had nothing to do with it and regarded it as Pitt's work. "I have read . . .," he told his friend Leveson-Gower, at this time Ambassador at Petersburg, "the Instructions sent to you (the long Instructions, I mean, in the shape of a draft to Vorontzov) as his. He is very proud of them, I think--and I think, very justly." 1 It was in the "draft to Vorontzov" that Pitt made his extended survey of European reconstruction, perhaps so that it might reach Petersburg uncontaminated by Novosiltzov.
One Minister had, however, enjoyed his confidence and discussed his plans during the period of incubation--Castlereagh. 2 It was thus in a sense the joint production of master and pupil, though doubtless Pitt's commanding genius was responsible for the greater part of it. The pupil, however, never forgot it; it was the text of all his efforts when, in a happier position than his master, the coalition which Pitt had dreamed at last came into being and made its application possible. By then time had made, as Castlereagh confessed, some of its suggestions perhaps inapplicable, and one fundamental principle Castlereagh was eventually to discard. But the main points of the document were sufficiently reproduced by Castlereagh in the reconstruction of Europe to enable him in May 1815 to lay large portions of it before Parliament to justify the actions of the last three years. It is necessary therefore to consider it in some detail. 3
1 Countess Granville, Corres. of Granville Leveson-Gower, ii. 30.
2 "To Cathcart, April 8, 1813": C.C. viii. 356. See below, Chapter III., section 1, p. 125.
3 Historians have used Garden's translation of the truncated form of this document which was laid before Parliament in May 15, 1815. Alison retranslated this ( History of Europe, chap. xxxix.). The original, bound in a separate volume ( F.O. Russia, 60), was first printed in part by Professor Colenbrander in his Gedenkstukken der Algemeene Geschiedenis van Nederland, vol. iv., and will be found as Appendix I. in B.D.389-94, with the exception of the military discussions. Professor Alison Phillips first shewed the relation between these ideas and those of the later European Alliance in his Confederation of Europe, 38-42.
Pitt began by reducing the Russian suggestions to three principal objects with which he said he entirely concurred: "(1) To rescue from the dominion of France those countries which it has subjugated since the beginning of the Revolution, and to reduce France within its former limits as they stood before that time. (2) To make such an arrangement with respect to the territories recovered from France as may provide for their security and happiness and may at the same time constitute a more effectual barrier in future against encroachments on the part of France. (3) To form at the restoration of peace, a general agreement and guarantee for the mutual protection and security of different Powers, and for the re-establishing a general system of public law in Europe."
Such a programme, he pointed out, however, implied the complete overthrow of Napoleon, which could only be expected if Prussia, as was unfortunately doubtful, as well as Austria joined the coalition. If she did not, he considered it unlikely that the whole of the Netherlands and the left bank of the Rhine could be recovered from France. Even in that case, however, he thought it essential that Antwerp and a 'barrier' should be added to Holland.
As for the rest of Europe, he pointed out that some of the countries which had lost their independence had been so completely changed and subjugated that it was impossible to restore it to them. Amongst these he placed Genoa, the three Legations of the Papal States, Parma and Placentia in Italy, and on the other side of Europe the Austrian Netherlands and the German territory on the left bank of the Rhine. They were too weak to protect themselves, Spain by her conduct had forfeited her rights in Italy, and neither Genoa nor the other states had been renowned for just or liberal rule. Austria had abandoned the Netherlands, and the Ecclesiastical states had obviously disappeared for ever.
These territories, then, could be used to induce the other Great Powers to join the Coalition and at the same time strengthen them for their future task of protecting Europe against France. It was, above all, necessary to remove the cause of rivalry between the two great German Powers, which had been one of the many reasons of French predominance. Austria, therefore, should be encouraged to seek expansion in the south and Prussia in the north of Europe. In each quarter there was, however, a small Power which must act as the first barrier against France. In Italy this was Piedmont, which Pitt wished to see enlarged not only by the acquisition of Genoa, but by part of the Milanese and perhaps by Parma and Placentia as well. The rest of the Milanese and the three Legations would then go to Austria, while the restoration of the Grand Duke would make Tuscany virtually Austrian also. Austria would thus dominate the north of Italy, supporting the greatly enlarged state of Piedmont and a firm bloc be constructed against France.
It was in the north, however, that Pitt made the most revolutionary suggestions. Here Holland was to have a similar and even more important responsibility than Piedmont in the south, and she should be given Antwerp and a 'barrier' of a portion of the southern Netherlands. The rest might go to Prussia, as well as a considerable portion of the left bank of the Rhine. This suggestion was made, as Pitt confessed, partly to persuade her not to accept Hanover, which Napoleon was sure to offer and thus embroil her with Britain. This threat hung over him, then, like a nightmare. He had to take it always into account, for George III. would of course not sanction any arrangement which deprived him of his electoral possessions. But Pitt wished the extension of territory also to make Prussia strong enough to undertake the defence of northern Europe against France, and pleaded earnestly that this might be done even if it were thought wiser to give more of the southern Netherlands to Holland. If Prussia refused to come in, he reluctantly confessed that only Antwerp and a small 'barrier' could be regained from France. At this point his military instincts, stronger at this time than ever before, overcame him, and he used a great deal of paper discussing the means and method of the plan of campaign, insisting on the urgent need of Prussia's assistance and pressing the Tsar to use his influence to persuade her to give up ideas of Hanover and join the Allies.
Only after this excursion into strategy, which, it must be admitted, he had better have left to another hand and occasion, did he discuss the third point, the preservation of the new Europe when it had been reconstituted. Here again he transformed the rather vague phraseology of Czartoryski into something more concrete and definite--a general territorial guarantee by all the Powers of Europe of their possessions as established by the final treaty. Russia and Britain, who he had already agreed were in a special position and had no separate territorial designs to prosecute, he suggested, should take the new treaty under their protection by a special guarantee in a separate treaty of their own. He also suggested that it might be possible to unite the Italian states together in a special alliance for their own mutual protection, while he considered a similar union very desirable for the German states, whose jealousy, however, he thought, would make it impossible. He added, therefore, a last safeguard--a line of barrier fortresses between Germany and France similar to the barrier in the Netherlands, which both Britain and Hanover would aid with money and men. These two Powers also, as well as Russia, might enter into special engagements for the defence of Holland and its barrier.
Such a Europe would be able to resist even a France with Napoleon on the throne. However desirable, therefore, his fall might be, Pitt did not think it ought to be one of the avowed objects of the coalition. Only if France herself demanded it would it be possible, and such a sentiment could only arise if every appearance of foreign dictation were scrupulously avoided.
This remarkable paper might well inspire Pitt with pride and Canning with admiration. It turned the vague suggestions of the Tsar into a practical scheme for the reconstruction of Europe. It was so phrased that it appeared to accept the basic principles of Alexander, but it utilised them in a manner more consonant with the interests of the other Great Powers and Britain than the Tsar and his advisers had attempted or perhaps desired. It was founded on the idea of the balance of power in Europe, to which, indeed, every statesman outside France paid tribute, now that the balance had been so completely overthrown. The ideas of a strong Germany and a united Italy were there, though they were adapted to the more pressing need of a strong Prussia and Austria, from which alone the salvation of Europe could come. It even accepted, if necessary, the 'natural frontiers' of France, with the exception of Antwerp and perhaps Savoy, though it insisted that the Germans on the left bank of the Rhine should not be sacrificed to that idea unless it was impossible to prevent it. Its practical value was proved by the fact that so much of it was put into operation ten years after it was written. It was more than a plan; it was a prophecy.
Two points in Czartoryski's dispatch, it will be noted, Pitt omitted altogether--the Ottoman Empire and 'maritime rights.' A discussion of such thorny subjects would obviously cause dissension between Britain and Russia. He was, however, not allowed to leave them in obscurity. For the Tsar and his Ministers were by no means satisfied with the paper, and endeavoured to modify Pitt's position on several questions and to raise others on which he had been silent. Chief of all these were the 'maritime rights' of Britain--which the Tsar's father had challenged and which Alexander equally refused to admit--and Malta, on which Paul had also set his heart. But it was, of course, out of the question that Britain should abandon the right of visit and search, and the discussion terminated in an uncompromising refusal of that demand, though Pitt, after much resistance, went so far as to offer to exchange Malta for Minorca. 1
Another subject brought up by the Tsar was the question of the colonial conquests, and on this the collector of 'sugar islands' shewed himself strangely moderate. Early in 1805, as the special contribution of Britain towards peace, he offered to return all the "conquests made in this war from France or from any of her European allies in any quarter of the globe" if France would accept the British basis. Doubtless Pitt knew that there was not much chance of his offer being accepted, and merely wished to impress the Tsar with his moderation. But he had laid down the important principle that Britain was prepared to use her monopoly of the colonial
1 The main points of these discussions are admirably summarised in Rose Pitt and Napoleon, 525-28, and the details given in the other two works mentioned in the note on p. 53.
world to obtain as good a European peace as possible. Of its application, however, she must be the judge. It will be seen that Castlereagh followed this principle of his master, and that it was a powerful weapon in his hands when the time of reconstruction came.
That time, however, was still far off. Russia and Britain came to a complete deadlock, and the European coalition suggested in January seemed quite impossible. Only the arrogant policy in Italy of Napoleon, who annexed Genoa while Britain and Russia were talking about it, at last made the Tsar accept the lesser evil of British arrogance on the sea, and a treaty was signed which embodied some, but by no means all, of Pitt's ideas, and for which he promised heavy subsidies to Russia and Austria, who also was driven into action by the threat to Italy. Prussia, on the other hand, could not resist the bribe of Hanover and her own fears, while she was by no means ready to accept the forward position on the Rhine which Pitt had designed for her. The result was the Ulm disaster. Still Pitt persevered, and after Austria's defeat delivered his more famous and shorter prophecy in the magnificent phrase which inspired his followers even in the darkest days which followed. Prussia seemed almost won by the conduct of Napoleon, though Pitt could not give her Hanover except at the cost of his King's reason, while Castlereagh, at Pitt's commands, prepared for the north a greater expedition than had ever sailed before from British ports. But Napoleon was too swift and subtle both in diplomacy and strategy. Prussia had already decided to accept his bribe before Austerlitz put an end to Austria's efforts, and the double blow brought Pitt to his grave. All the scheme of reconstruction seemed now but idle strokes of the pen. The map of Europe might be rolled up so far as Britain was concerned.
Pitt died at a dark hour, but darker ones were to follow. Castlereagh had been on duty in London while Pitt was dying, encouraging his master to the last. Even when Prussia's desertion had rendered it necessary to withdraw the great expedition which he had prepared with so much care, he urged Pitt to find consolation in the thought that it would bring back with it the Hanoverian forces, which had been raised to assist it for future service against the conqueror --no vain hope. But after Jena, Friedland and the Peace of Tilsit had put all the north of Europe at Napoleon's feet and made the Tsar his ally, Pitt's plans seemed relegated to oblivion. When Castlereagh entered office he could hardly have dreamed that in a little over twelve months he would be asking Cathcart to remind a new Alexander, whose armies were on the Oder and the Elbe, of Pitt's scheme for the reconstruction of Europe.
THE TURN OF THE TIDE: RECONSTRUCTION FORESHADOWED, 1812
THE MEDITERRANEAN AREA. i. THE PENINSULA.
iii. THE NEAR EAST.
THE RISING OF THE NORTH.
RELATIONS WITH PRUSSIA AND AUSTRIA.
"Les Anglais enrichissent tous les peuples chez lesquels ils vont et payent leurs vassaux au lieu d'exiger d'eux des tributs, comme nous l'avons toujours vu dans l'histoire, et comme le font les Français."-- THE KING OF THE TWO SICILIES ( March 17, 1813).
1. THE MEDITERRANEAN AREA
(i) THE PENINSULA 1
THE strange shape of Europe had by 1812 brought France and Britain into contact in many diverse places. The two inland seas of the north and south vastly extend its coasts and give access to its interior regions far away from France. Hence Napoleon's amazing annexations; hence the extension of British influence along the coasts in inland seas, where in the previous century she had shrunk from hazarding her forces. Wherever resistance occurred and it was geographically possible, British ships carried British arms, money, and goods.
Throughout the years 1812-13, however, the struggle in the Peninsula continued to absorb the greater part of the military and financial resources of the British Government, and in spite of the disappointment of the retreat from Madrid in 1812, after the victory of Salamanca, they were rewarded in 1813 by the great campaign which ended in Vittoria and the expulsion of the French armies from the soil of Spain. Wellington, as his military prestige grew, gradually obtained more and more influence over the civil administration of Spain and Portugal as well as over the policy of the Home Government. Through his brother, Henry Wellesley, Ambassador at Cadiz, and Charles Stuart, Minister and a member of the Regency at Lisbon, he was constantly advising the Peninsular
1 Sir Charles Oman has described with great skill the war problems, which are only touched on here, in vol. v. 136-56 and vol. vi. 194-238 of his great work. He has not used the F.O. Records, which, as well as the dispatches of Fernan-Nuñez, are the basis of the Marqués de Villa Urrutia Relaciones entre España é Inglaterra, iii. 1812-14, an interesting commentary on much intimate British as well as Spanish history.
Governments on a great variety of subjects, nearly always with wisdom and patience, though occasionally failing to see any point of view but his own. He kept also the attention of his own Government fixed on Spain, and discouraged them from adventures elsewhere when Europe again was in movement. His own success was the justification of his policy.
The rôle of the Foreign Minister was, therefore, a circumscribed one in the Peninsula. Castlereagh had always been Wellington's friend and defender, and he was his most earnest supporter in the Cabinet. One of his first actions as Foreign Minister was to reject with indignation Napoleon's offer of peace on the basis of leaving in Spain the 'dynastie actuelle,' a term which inquiry shewed was meant to describe Joseph. His own share in the game was most concerned with harmonising the interests of his Peninsular Allies with the rest of Europe, and supporting all steps in Spain and Portugal which the Commander-in-Chief recommended. 1
The Spanish Regency, so far as the Cortes left it any power, under the new constitution of 1812, which was based on the least practical of the French revolutionary models, was a poor enough ally; but it was at least loyal to the fight against the common enemy. On the main question, in spite of some subterranean temptations, the Spaniards never wavered throughout these years. There was, however, some anxiety at the proposal which Palmella, the Portuguese Minister at Cadiz, was pressing, that the Princess of Brazil should be nominated Regent for her captive brother Ferdinand. The Princess may perhaps be considered as the most noxious of all the Bourbon brood with whose fortunes British interests were now intertwined. Moreover, she was constantly sending letters to Cadiz accusing the British of every crime. Her chief adviser, one Presas, was "a man of a most vile and unprincipled disposition, the known enemy of England and the person who first had inspired the Princess with the
1 There are two projects of Maret's final letter in the Paris archives ( Paris A.A.E. Angleterre, 606, f. 217), one more conciliatory than the other, but each insist that the re-establishment of the Bourbons in France is incompatible with French security: "It would be as easy to propose as a basis of negotiation the establishment of the Comte de Lille [Louis XVIII.] on the throne of France." The two branches of the House of Bourbon were indeed restored within three months of each other.
strange notions concerning the designs of the British Government with which Her Royal Highness is now entirely possessed." Thus, while Castlereagh did not approve of Wellesley interfering directly in the appointment of Regents, he was entirely in sympathy with his efforts to keep the Princess of Brazil away from Spain. In January a decree was passed that no royal personage should be made head of the Government, but when the Princess was placed next in the succession to Don Carlos, excluding the Queen of Etruria and Ferdinand's youngest brother (who was Godoy's son), her partisans revived, and the question still kept cropping up. Fortunately, Strangford's influence on her husband at Rio, and Wellesley's on the Cortes at Cadiz, prevented it from becoming really dangerous. 1
After Salamanca the Cortes at last agreed to appoint Wellington Commander-in-Chief of the Spanish armies, an act which Henry Wellesley had always desired, though both Wellington and his Government had been more doubtful about it. After securing the consent of the British Government, Wellington visited Cadiz, and though he did not get as much power as he wanted or as much as Wellesley's enthusiasm had promised, the step did make a great difference to the Spanish armies in the ensuing campaign. Indeed, in fundamentals the objects of the two Governments were so much identical that, in spite of the irritating and ridiculous conduct of the Cortes over the details of policy, which sometimes almost drove Henry Wellesley frantic, the appearance and even reality of cordial relations was on the whole maintained.
This was all the more creditable because on one vital question the two Governments were in entire disagreement throughout these years. The important, tedious, and indeed insoluble problem of the Spanish Colonies Henry Wellesley
1 From Strangford, March 11, 1812: F.O. Portugal, 123. To Wellesley, Jan. 17. Oct. 19, 1812; July 3, 1813: F.O. Spain, 127, 128, 142. From Wellesley, Jan. 13, March 10 (with enclosure from Strangford, Nov. 22, 1811). Sept. 10, 1812: F.O. Spain, 129, 132. Later Wellesley even suggested agreeing to the Regency of the Princess in return for a settlement of the Colonies, but it seems to have been only a passing thought ( W.S.D. viii. 87). The King of Sicily at an early period protested against his own claims being passed over ( From Wellesley, April 24, 1812: F.O. Spain, 130). See also, on the whole subject, Villa-Urrutia, Relaciones, iii. 127 ff.
rightly described as the "principal cause of all the trouble and vexation" with the Spanish Government. Castlereagh had inherited from his predecessor a proposal for mediation on terms for which he was to press in vain throughout these two years and indeed to the end of his life. In 1812, however, there did seem some hope that Spain in her desperate condition would listen to the good advice which Castlereagh poured out unstintingly throughout the year. He approached the problem from the broad point of view, using British experience to reinforce his arguments. The Spanish Government were still demanding that Britain should promise to use force if the mediation failed, refused altogether to include Mexico, where they considered their chances were good, and, above all, would not give up their monopoly of trade. In sending his instructions to the recently appointed Commissioners of Mediation on April 1, 1812, Castlereagh endeavoured to overcome this opposition. "The conviction of the British Government is," he wrote in a remarkable dispatch, "whatever may be the commercial prejudices of the Spanish Government and whatever may be their jealousy of us, that, if they cannot bring themselves to place the inhabitants of America upon a commercial footing of corresponding advantage with the inhabitants of European Spain, and that without loss of time, their separation from the parent state is inevitable and at hand. . . . In pressing this view of the situation upon the Spanish Government it may be desirable to suggest for their consideration the commercial system which we find it not only necessary but advantageous to apply to our East India possessions . . . where we have an Empire to govern, as in India we govern it as far as relates to commerce upon a national and not a colonial principle. Whether the trade to Great Britain be carried on as heretofore by an exclusive company, or as it is now proposed, it be thrown open . . . the commerce of India is open to all neutral nations, and as sovereigns we claim nothing but a commercial preference. If this system be, as it has been found to be, no less advantageous than just, even as applied to a country where our political power is exercised without control, how much more necessary is its application to provinces whose rights have been acknowledged to be equal to European Spain and which have been admitted to a share in the natural representation." . . . He even used a bolder example: "You may point out to the Spanish Government . . .," he concluded, "that Great Britain has derived more real commercial advantage from North America since the separation than she did when that country was subjected to her dominion and part of her colonial system."
These general principles he reinforced throughout the year with every possible argument in a long series of dispatches. Mexico, he insisted, was the most important and most promising place for the mediation to begin, and if she were rescued from anarchy, Spain's resources would be immensely increased. He agreed, at Wellesley's request, to guarantee a settlement, if one were arrived at under British mediation, however much such guarantees were normally distasteful to British policy. He took the Spanish side in the dispute with Portugal over Buenos Ayres, and was able to shew that Strangford, as a result of his instructions, had induced the Brazil Government to moderate its action there. He pointed out that the resources of South America were necessary to carry on the struggle against Napoleon, and that Spain might draw a vast revenue out of duties levied on British trade. 1
It was all necessarily in vain. The city of Cadiz controlled the policy of Spain, and both parties in the Cortes were united in refusing all concession. Only the South American deputies and a handful of enlightened Spaniards gave Wellesley any encouragement. He was, indeed, able to prevent troops being withdrawn from Galicia for South America (though some were sent in 1813), and Pizarro agreed after great pressure that Britain should not be expected to use force. But the Cortes were obdurate both on that point and on throwing the trade open. They refused also to include Mexico. On the contrary, the national policy was that "no concessions should be made to the insurgent provinces." They believed "that all offers of this kind would rather tend to increase the spirit of insurrection and that the insurgents must be reduced to
1 Wellesley to Wellington, July 18, 1811: W.S.D. vii. 183. To Wellesley April 1, May 19, June 15, 1812: F.O. Spain, 127. To Strangford, May 29, April 10, July 13, 1812: F.O. Portugal, 122.
unconditional submission by force of arms." In the final vote on July 18, 1812, only nine European deputies were in the minority. Castlereagh, however, refused to accept this defeat as final. The American War had made him more anxious than ever that some attempt should be made. He agreed to exclude Mexico on condition that, if a settlement were arrived at elsewhere, Spain would apply it to all South America. He hinted that Britain might be compelled to take action herself if Spain remained obdurate. Miranda was still writing from Venezuela, and Castlereagh told Wellesley that, though the Venezuelan agents in London were not recognised, he had had to see them and explain the situation. 1
But all this made very little impression at Cadiz, where the Cortes had been encouraged by recent victories in Mexico and Venezuela. There was no hope of mediation, Wellesley reported. Indeed, in February 1813 he considered that it would be dangerous to reopen the question, so irritated were the Cortes at the British intercourse with the insurgents and the assistance they were receiving from British volunteers. It could hardly be denied that the British Government were "encouraging trade from which the insurgents were indebted for the resources which have enabled them to persevere in their resistance." In 1813, therefore, Castlereagh had to suspend his pressure, except to defend Britain against the unjust suspicions of the merchants of Cadiz to which the offer of mediation was in itself, he said, sufficient answer. The use of force by Britain to aid Spain would merely have united the colonies in their resistance and eventually thrown them into the arms of the enemy. But these arguments were of no avail at Cadiz. Castlereagh could only hope that, when the Cortes were transferred to Madrid and became more representative of the nation, British conduct would be better appreciated. 2
With Portuguese problems Castlereagh had less difficulty. The Prince Regent at Rio, though callous as to the fate of his
1 From Wellesley, March 10, April 24, May 24, June 20, July 5, 18, 1812: F.O. Spain, 129, 130,131. To Wellesley, Aug. 29, Oct. 27, Dec. 31, 1812: F.O. Spain, 128.
2 From Wellesley, Oct. 1, Nov. 19, 1812; Feb. 16, 1813: F.O. Spain, 132, 143; Wellesley to Wellington, Feb. 4, 1813: W.S.D. vii. 546. To Wellesley, July 3, 1813: F.O. Spain, 142.
people and actually drawing money from Portugal during this difficult time, was fairly amenable to Strangford's influence. He only pressed the claims of his wife, perhaps, in order to get rid of her. The difficulty over Buenos Ayres continued, but the Regent always gave way when British pressure was put on him. At Lisbon, Stuart and Beresford were both members of the Regency, and though the financial and economic difficulties were great and the records are full of disputes as to trade under the treaty of 1810, yet on the whole the Government was moderately competent. Though two of the Regents were dreadful, Wellington later confessed that the principal Minister, Forjas, was "the ablest man I had to do with on the Peninsula." Stuart lost patience on occasion, and Hamilton had to write to him at Castlereagh's request to moderate his protests to the Portuguese Government: "He thinks you have expressed your feelings too warmly, not perhaps more so than the subject merited or than the conduct of that body called for, but more than prudence and sound policy would recommend." Portuguese merchants might reasonably be expected to be jealous of the new privileges conferred on British trade. "As to national gratitude," it was pointed out, "we must not expect much on that score, and what little we may expect must come voluntarily and not as a right."
The spirit of jealousy, indeed, grew as the danger of invasion diminished, and Castlereagh became anxious as to the connection between Portugal and the Royal Family in Brazil, which seemed so indifferent to its fate. "Considerable advantages . . . might be expected to result," Strangford was told, "from the return of the Royal Family to Europe at the present auspicious moment. It is not, however, a point which they feel themselves entitled to press. If the Prince Regent should from any motive desire to protract his stay in Brazil it is very desirable that H.R.H. should send his son to Europe without delay. His evincing some military ardour at the present juncture could not fail to elevate the family in the eyes of their own subjects and of Europe. It is not less material should the Prince Regent determine to return himself to Europe that some branch of the Royal Family should continue to be resident with efficient power at Brazil. Any attempt to lower the South American Dominions again to the colonial standard would, I am satisfied, prove at once fatal to the interests of the monarchy in that quarter of the globe." 1
With the Peninsula was intimately connected British policy towards the Barbary Powers, whence supplies of food were obtained for the Spanish and British troops. The ViceConsuls, a poor lot, were under Wellesley, but he had little control over them, and the special officers sent over were thwarted by his own subordinates. The Barbary pirates preyed on Britain's allies as much as they dared, and were a continual source of friction between Britain and the Mediterranean Powers. Sicily was especially concerned, and a number of her nationals were released at a low cost in 1812. But the evil grew to such an extent that A'Court was sent on a special mission at the beginning of 1813. This was, however, only a palliative, and not until the struggle on the Continent was over could Britain take the action which duty and interest demanded. 2
While the main land attack of Britain upon Napoleon's power was proceeding in the Peninsula, it was never the intention of the British Government that Sicily should be more than a point of defence fulfilling its essential purpose of guarding the central Mediterranean. Nor did it become in any real sense a base of attack during these years. But owing to the extraordinary character of the man sent out by Wellesley in 1811, and the curious situation which he found and tried to use for his own schemes, Sicily during these years became the centre of an amazing drama which has attracted the attention of many historians. 3
1 Stanhope, Conversations, 91. [ Hamilton] to Stewart, Nov. 2, 1813: F.O. Portugal, 150. To Strangford, Nov. 22, 1813: F.O. Portugal, 144.
2 From Wellesley, May 1, 24, June 20, Sept. 10, Nov. 10, 1812: F.O. Spain, 130, 131, 132. To Wellesley, Jan. 6, 1813: F.O. Spain, 142. To Stuart, May 19, 1812: F.O. Portugal, 126. From Pro-Consul MacDonald, May 15, Sept. 16, 1812: F.O. Algiers, 14. R. M. Johnston, Mémoire de Marie Caroline, 120.
3 The story was first told from the documents in the Record Office by Oscar Browning ( "Queen Caroline of Naples," English Historical Review, ii.
Lord William Bentinck was only thirty-six years old when he was sent by Wellesley to Sicily with greater powers than any of his predecessors, being made Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean (except Malta), as well as Minister to the Sicilian Court. His Presidency of Madras had ended in an embarrassing failure, partly owing to his own rash actions, and the military posts that he had subsequently filled had hardly disclosed qualities specially suitable to the very delicate position he was now to occupy. But the son of the Duke of Portland could not be denied a high military or diplomatic post. He had shewn, at least, that he possessed great energy and a masterful mind, and both were needed in Sicily. The intensity of his Whig faith, still less his immense vanity and rashness, were not appreciated by Bathurst and Wellesley. They did 'not suspect that they were sending to cope with Marie Caroline and her weak and treacherous husband, a brilliant and unbalanced egoist, all the more dangerous because he was also imbued with a species of idealism. As it was, Bentinck attempted to make Sicily serve his ambition to rival Wellington as the saviour of Europe, and gradually evolved grandiose plans for the future of Italy, which were in direct contradiction to the wishes of his Government and produced a situation of such complexity that Castlereagh was led by it into the most equivocal conduct of the whole of his career.
Bentinck, on his arrival in 1811, found Sicily still governed by the sensual, pleasure-loving, and false King, who was still at moments of crisis liable to be influenced by his wife, Marie Caroline, the fierce, drug-ridden, almost mad daughter of Maria Theresa. In 1811 an attempt to override the constitutional
482, reprinted in The Flight to Varennes ( 1892)) with skill and judgment, but with few references. The most important Italian account is that of Bianco ( La Sicilia durante l'occupazione inglese, 1806-1815 ( 1902)), who used the archives at Palermo. Helfert's defence of the Queen in his Maria Carolina von Neapel ( 1878) was based mainly on Austrian archives. R. M. Johnston Mémoire de Marie Caroline Reine de Naples ( 1912), whatever may be thought of the origin of the manuscript, contains a large number of pièces justificatifs and valuable extracts from the Bentinck MSS. and the correspondence in the Record Office. Two articles by Miss Lanckland in the English Historical Review ( "The Failure of the Constitutional Experiment in Sicily, 1813-1814," April 1926, and "Lord William Bentinck in Sicily, 1811-1812," July 1927). which are based on the Bentinck MSS., and researches at Palermo, bring out some new points. It may be hoped that her full study will soon appear.
rights of the Sicilian Estates (nobles, clergy, towns) by the imposition of special taxes had resulted in a protest of the Sicilian nobility who saw their privileges threatened and the imprisonment of five of their leaders, including the liberal Prince Belmonte and his father-in-law, Villa Ermosa. Bentinck's instructions, which ordered him not to meddle with internal affairs, were not sufficient to cope with this situation, and he returned to England to obtain wider powers. Wellesley, who probably paid no greater attention to Sicily than elsewhere, gave Bentinck new instructions which emphasised the necessity of Sicilians sharing in the govern. ment of Naples, and empowered him to suspend the subsidy at will, and, if necessary, break off the alliance and remove the British troops from Sicily. He returned to Palermo on December 7, 1811, and began his struggle for the overthrow of Caroline, the regeneration of Sicily, and the creation of an Italian state under British influence. In only the first of these objects was he successful; the second produced the new Sicilian constitution modelled on that of Britain, not altogether by Bentinck's wishes; and the third led to Bentinck's struggle with Murat, which eventually resulted in the Austrian control of the Italian Peninsula.
Though Bentinck already suspected the Queen of treasonable correspondence with the enemy, he did not at first insist on her complete removal from the centre of affairs. Only gradually did he see that it was necessary and possible to exclude her from Palermo and eventually from Sicily altogether. Now with the threat of suspending the subsidy he only demanded the return of the exiles, the removal of the illegal taxes, and the creation of a Ministry of Sicilians instead of Neapolitans. The King, whose main object in life was pleasure, evaded this onslaught by pleading ill-health and appointing his son Vicar-General. The task, according to the Duke of Orleans, Ferdinand's son-in-law, who was now always on the British side, was not an uncongenial one, but the Prince was too much in dread of his parents ever to act a very decisive or manly part. His father appeared only to intervene occasionally and at moments of crisis, but was perhaps more potent behind the scenes than has been generally recognised. His son was, after all, only a temporary Regent, and the King could assume power at any moment. His mother fought continually and hopelessly the relentless attack by which Bentinck gradually ousted her from influence and at last residence in Sicily. While, therefore, the Hereditary Prince responded to Bentinck's stern admonitions and appeared to accept the conditions which he laid down, he was continually breaking away from a policy in which he did not believe and was always liable to yield to the entreaties of his mother or the commands of his father.
Bentinck began with an open threat of force if he did not have his way. In this he appears to have exceeded his instructions, but he reported his conduct to his Government with the same openness and detail as he narrated all the subsequent series of events. "I told him frankly," he wrote, "that not only the British army but the country generally believed in the existence of an understanding between the Court and the enemy. . . . I concluded a very long conversation by saying that I should use force if my representations were not attended to. This force was not against but for the benefit of the King and his family." 1
In this uncompromising fashion Bentinck began a campaign for the reform of the Sicilian state, which lasted till July and resulted in the unexpected adoption of the British constitution. The affair originated in a contest about persons and policies. Bentinck insisted on the employment of the liberal Sicilian nobles, and he wished the whole system of government to be overhauled. The state was indeed practically bankrupt: the Hereditary Prince was as extravagant as his open-handed mother, and the people were subjected to arbitrary rule, to which, however, they were accustomed by long practice. The victory was delayed by the opposition of the Queen and a visit to Malta. Perhaps it would never have come, certainly not in the form which it assumed, had not the question of the Sicilian constitution become associated with what was naturally the main anxiety
1 From "Bentinck, Jan. 1, 11, 1812": F.O. Sicily, 51. I agree with Miss Lackland that the King was a more active agent than had been supposed by those writers who concentrated on the dramatic struggle between Bentinck and the Queen.
of the Court, the recovery of their ancient possessions on the mainland.
At last, after a fierce fight with the Queen, of whose treachery Bentinck offered to shew the King and him alone convincing proofs, the Sicilian Estates were summoned to a special session so that the reform might be carried out in the approved constitutional manner. When the Prince doubted whether such a course was "safe," Bentinck declared it was "indispensable" and offered to guarantee him against the "revolution," which both he and his father dreaded would be the outcome. In May, therefore, the Estates were "elected" under the influence of the new liberal Ministry, which naturally secured as many supporters as possible in all three houses. When they met in June the question arose as to where the programme of reform was to begin. It was then the King and not Bentinck who suggested that the model of the British constitution should be adopted. This might be deemed a piece of delightful irony from such a monarch, but it had behind it solid motives. It completely counterchecked Bentinck and the liberals, and turned their energies into establishing a British constitution instead of the more dangerous course of concentrating on judicial and financial reform. Moreover, it would designate Sicily as a model state, the only continental one which possessed that mysterious constitution which had enabled the British people to defy the conqueror of all the rest of Europe. The King would therefore be able to appear to his old subjects as a reformed character and carry the torch of liberty to Italy, perhaps even increase his old realm. Doubtless the King had little belief in the desire of Italians for liberty, but Bentinck had already indicated to the Prince that it was the determining factor and combated the schemes of Moliturno, a Neapolitan adventurer, who was assuring the Court that they could conquer an Italian Empire without granting a constitution. British aid was necessary to effect anything on the Continent, British principles must therefore be adopted, in theory if not in practice. 1
1 From "Bentinck, March 19, 30, May 5, 6, June 27, 1812": F.O. Sicily, 51, cf. R. M. Johnston, Mémoire, 126-27. The Queen was playing for time,
When, therefore, the Parliament at last assembled, the idea of a British constitution immediately appeared. The Prince was, indeed, at first little inclined to accept his father's suggestion, and, as Bentinck confessed, was only won over by the fact that without a constitution in Sicily, Naples could not be recovered. This was, indeed, Bentinck's own condition for an expedition, though he had not for one moment expected that the Sicilians would adopt the British model--a thing so sacred and intangible that it was difficult to imagine any other people copying it successfully. "I must confess," he reported in one of the most remarkable of his dispatches, "that at first I was very much against the adoption of the English constitution. I doubted very much whether the people have sufficient steadiness or wisdom to execute it. I was, however, very much better disposed to it when I saw that no other plan presented so few difficulties, and my fears were very much lessened when I read the outline of a constitution formed upon that of England, but with great moderation and wisdom adapted to the depraved state of this society by certain salutary restraints upon the Liberty of the Press and by suspending for the present the Trial by Jury." Its authors, Belmonte and Villa Ermosa, as Bentinck reported, inspired by a Sicilian, Professor Balsamo, as modern researches have indicated, were indeed no more democrats than the aristocratic Whig whose actions had made the constitution possible.
But even this magnificent adaptation of the British model did not, in Bentinck's opinion, make Sicily the natural in. heritor of Napoleonic Italy. The Neapolitan Royal Family, he solemnly told the Hereditary Prince, was so disliked in Naples, owing to its past conduct, that it could hardly be the standard-bearer of liberty. Indeed Italy--all Italy and not merely Naples--must be allowed to choose for itself: "I told him that the only chance of success was to declare at once to the people that the deliverance of Italy from the French yoke was our sole object. The choice of a constitution and
thinking that Bentinck would be disowned. In this she was encouraged by Sir Robert Wilson, who, with his usual disloyalty and vanity, meddled in affairs during his visit to the island in May. Randolph, Private Diary of Sir R. Wilson, i. 52-63. He, of course, wrote to Grey about the situation. Wilson MSS. 30119, f. 47.
a chief must be left to the free will of the people." The poor Prince was much dismayed: "He asked, if in the first proclamation I would make no mention of the Royal Family. My answer was that such a measure would inevitably produce resistance. He suggested that in the event of such an expedition it would appear extraordinary to the Neapolitans that while there were two Princes of the family in Sicily, neither of them should come forward to aid in the deliverance of their country. I told H.R.H. the sentiment did him much honour, but that private feeling in a case of such high moment must give way to the public advantage. He added also that it was far from his wishes to appear as a conqueror. He meant merely to offer himself as the choice of the people. I told H.R.H. that in an invasion there would be no time to convince the people of his real character, that it would have been fortunate had H.R.H. many months ago done that in Sicily, which would have been the best explanation and security to the Neapolitans of his intentions towards them. Now, upon seeing a Prince of the old family arrive, the general alarm would be that they were about to have imposed upon them the ancient system." The only concession, indeed, that the poor Prince could wring from Bentinck, with regard to the crusade which the Captain-General of his own army was planning, was that he would not take any other Prince with him.
This conversation seems, not unnaturally, to have left the Prince somewhat bewildered as to the advantages to the Royal Family of the new British constitution. The King also cooled off, a fact which Bentinck attributed to the Queen's influence and caused him to lament the moderation with which he had treated her, but to which the above conversation may have contributed. But the die was now cast; an anonymous paper threatening the Spanish constitution made the Prince see some advantages in the British; Bentinck was, indeed, induced to give a kind of guarantee that it would be maintained, and so the Speech from the Throne announced to the new Parliament that the Crown and the Government were prepared to take the momentous step. 1
1 From "Bentinck, June 30, 1812": F.O. Sicily, 51.
The final stage in this curious negotiation is contained in the paper which Bentinck sent to the Prince of his conditions for an expedition to the mainland, which, amongst other technical clauses, contained the following: "3rdly, That the independence of the whole of Italy and not the partial conquest of any particular province or state shall be the acknowledged object. 4thly, That such portions of the territory of the Continent as are relieved from the yoke of France shall be left to the free choice of their own constitution and their own chiefs. 5thly, That the British Commander shall guarantee to them this liberty."
The Hereditary Prince was to promise not to interfere with this programme, and all who opposed it were to be treated as enemies whatever their rank or condition. It was a poor consolation that the last three clauses ran: "LordWilliam Bentinck engages to do all in his power to persuade the Nea. politans to accept the Hereditary Prince for their Sovereign. He engages to resist with all the means at his command any pretender who, either by force or intrigue, shall endeavour to establish himself on the throne of Naples in opposition to the will of the people. He engages not to take any Prince or person of royal extraction on the expedition." 1
No wonder that the Prince's response was considered by Bentinck "highly unsatisfactory," "passing over in silence almost every part of my paper," and "shewing in the clearest manner the continuance of the same weak policy with regard to Naples and of the same confidence in Prince Moliturno, who had been the constant adviser of the Queen and whose character is, in general, discredited." Even the adoption of the British Constitution had placed the Sicilian Royal Family merely in the position of a favoured candidate rather than that of a sovereign who could claim restoration to his old dominions as a right.
The final touch to the comedy was given when Bentinck announced that there would be no expedition to Italy at all, but only the dispatch of a Sicilian force to the east coast of Spain. The discussion therefore, he reported, was of no
1 Secret Memorandum given to the Hereditary Prince, June 20, 1812. enclosed in the dispatch of June 30, 1812: F.O. Sicily, 51.
immediate consequence. This was, of course, quite in accordance with the wishes of his own Government, but it left the King and the Crown Prince with but little confidence in the power or wish of Bentinck to bring them back to their lost kingdom. 1
It was only natural, therefore, that the Hereditary Prince now shewed little zeal for the new constitution, while Bentinck regretted the weakness with which he had treated him, and explained that the excellent Speech from the Throne accepting the British constitution had only been made in view of the expedition to Italy, which the Prince then thought at hand. The opposition to the new ideas was secretly encouraged, while their supporters were depressed. For the moment even Bentinck was discouraged; but Belmonte and his party were still strong, and Bentinck's control over the cash was a powerful factor on their side. In spite of the manœuvres of the Court, therefore, Parliament accepted fourteen articles, which for the first time laid down in writing the glorious principles of the unwritten constitution of Britain. 2
This was, of course, only a barren victory until the formal sanction of the Crown could be obtained, and a long and bitter struggle ensued. Bentinck made the Queen the centre of it all, though it is probable that the King in his intervals of energy exercised a more malign influence, while the Prince himself was more hostile to the constitution than his father, who saw its futility but usefulness as a means of absorbing Bentinck's reforming zeal. It was the Queen whom Bentinck singled out as his real enemy, and his dispatches are full of her appeals to the King and the Prince, and his own denunciations and threats to the same pair, who were really as wishful to get rid of her as he was, if the boon could be obtained without too much scandal. The struggle was won step by step. The Queen was first forced to leave Palermo in spite of an unwelcome return to the bedside of her son, whose sudden illness was thought, most unjustly, to be caused by his mother's poison. Then came a final struggle for her
1 From "Bentinck, June 30, 1812": F.O. Sicily. 51. Nugent subsequently claimed to have helped Bentinck to this decision. Nugent to Metternich, Oct. 15, 1812: Vienna St. A.
2 From "Bentinck, July 9, 25, 1812": F.O. Sicily, 52.
removal from Sicily altogether, when her husband did shew a flash of real spirit and announced his intention to resume the royal power. But Bentinck threatened to break off the alliance and the King collapsed. The Prince returned to his station with even wider powers than before. The Queen's debts, which her extravagance and generosity had made overwhelming, were paid for her through an arrangement made by Bentinck. Even then her final decision was only obtained by a threat of force and the disposition of the British troops to keep her away from her husband. However, she sailed at last on a British warship for Vienna via Constantinople--the only route available in April 1813. 1
From the point of view of British policy the most important part of all this tortuous struggle was that it kept the Commander-in-Chief from discharging any other part of his functions. He was unable to accompany the force of new men, which was all that he could send to Spain in 1812, though Murat and the flower of his army had accompanied the Emperor to Moscow. Meanwhile he had concluded a new treaty to which the Prince at last forced his father to agree, which gave the British much greater control over the Sicilian forces than before. In return, Bentinck gave a guarantee of the possession of Sicily to the King in any treaty of peace which Britain should sign, though he refused the Prince's request to add a promise to endeavour to recover the kingdom of Naples. The guarantee he defended on the ground that the new constitution in Sicily had made the compact one "not only between the two sovereigns but between the two nations, sealed by the unanimous gratitude of the Sicilians and indissolubly fixed in the feelings of political interest of liberty and of independence common to both." 2
During these exciting events the attitude of the British Government towards its Commander-in-Chief was one of resigned acquiescence in his actions. Whatever charges may be made against Bentinck, that of concealment from his Government is not one that can be substantiated, at any rate
1 For the details of the struggle, see the works noted on p. 75. Bentinck's long dispatches and enclosures give every stage of the negotiation.
2 From "Bentinck, Sept. 13, 1812": F.O. Sicily, 52. The new treaty is given in B.F.S.P. i. 683-90.
until the end of 1813. His dispatches naturally gave his own view of events, but they narrated all his actions in great detail and enclosed the voluminous series of notes and letters with which he bombarded the King and the Prince. The Government therefore shared fully his responsibility. Castlereagh, it is true, always placed the objects of British policy in a rather different perspective, but he accepted in general Bentinck's methods. In March 1812 he approved all his conduct "in the delicate and arduous circumstances" in which he was placed, only asking for further details of the Queen's treachery on which he might be questioned in Parliament. In May Bentinck was told that he could not be given instructions in detail, he was to follow those which Wellesley had drawn up. He was to try to secure a loyal army and "to recommend such necessary reforms of the Sicilian constitution as may ensure the affections of the people and make the Neapolitans anxious to receive equal advantages together with the return of their lawful sovereigns." 1
Castlereagh was, however, rather perturbed at Bentinck's dispatch about the terms of the expedition to Italy, which he criticised in a private letter. There was no question of Ferdinand submitting to "election" by the people of Naples. In the eyes of the British Government he was their lawful sovereign, who should be "restored" not "elected." But he approved the reform of the Sicilian constitution as likely to secure this object, as well as all Bentick's actions towards the Queen. He seems to have been as convinced as Bentinck of her treachery, and this, doubtless, made him view the Ambassador's conduct favourably. Castelcicala's protests therefore made no impression. On February 9, 1813, a special instruction was sent to Bentinck authorising him to pay the Queen's debts to get rid of her, and to go to the limit of his powers to produce that desirable result. Force was, indeed, only to be used in case of treason and as a last resource: "It is of infinite importance in point of impression that the object should be accomplished by arrangement and not by force, . . . as it would be difficult to make the world at large understand, whilst the whole military power of
1 To "Bentinck, March 6, 12. May 19, 1812": F.O. Sicily, 50.
the island is in your Lordship's hands, that there existed an adequate necessity for forcibly removing the wife of the sovereign, more especially if no tumult existed, from her family and dominions." But Castlereagh refused Castelcicala's suggestion that Catania or Sardinia would be a distant enough exile for the Queen; only at Vienna would she be at a safe enough distance, and the dispatch ended by assuring Bentinck, who learnt at the same time that he had been given the K.C.B., of the Government's "fullest confidence" in his discretion and "very cordial support." 1
When the news came therefore of the final struggle even Bentinck's use of force was approved, especially as he had explained that Castlereagh's dispatches of February 9 had come too late to convince the Court that he had his Government behind him. There was, however, a note of regret in Castlereagh's approval, and he urged that in the future the use of force should be unnecessary, and control by means of the subsidy should be sufficient to effect all British purposes. It is clear that Castlereagh did not yet understand all that Bentinck's dispatches implied with regard to Italian policy. His attention was concentrated on the new situation which was arising in the north, and so far as the Mediterranean was concerned, on Spain. Several of his colleagues, however, were very critical of Bentinck, whose wild schemes of combinations with Russia and expeditions in the Adriatic had alarmed both Mulgrave and Bathurst. Liverpool was disappointed at the paucity of his support in Spain. But, after all, great latitude had to be allowed to a man so far away and admittedly in such a difficult position. His schemes for Italy were not taken very seriously, especially as all depended on the attitude of Austria, which was yet in doubt. 2
Bentinck was therefore left undisturbed, and it must be admitted without much guidance. His victory over the Queen had at last, he believed, set him free from military duties, and in June he sailed for Spain, leaving Lord Montgomerie to watch over the new constitution. On
1 To Bentinck, Dec. 5, 1812: F.O. Sicily, 50; "Feb. 9. 1813": C.C. viii. 298 (where wrongly dated); "Feb. 9 (No. 4), 1813": F.O. Sicily. 56.
2 "To Bentinck, May 19, 23, 1813": F.O. Sicily, 56; Bathurst, 223; W.S.D. vii. 374, 401.
the way he had his first important negotiation with Murat.
(iii) THE NEAR EAST 1
While Bentinck had been imagining great deeds in Sicily, an important crisis had been faced at Constantinople with wonderful skill and courage by a man not less resolute and much more practical than he. Stratford Canning had received the onerous charge which Adair handed over to him in 1810, without for one moment imagining that he would have to bear it for two years. But Wellesley during all this time not only did not send him a single dispatch but, on the pretext that he was awaiting Russia's action, allowed the old and dilatory Liston, who was eventually appointed to succeed Adair, to delay month after month in England. It was only Castlereagh's accession to office which at last sent Liston off with a large bundle of instructions, to arrive too late to affect the main issue. 2
No man better served the state by incompetence than Wellesley in this case, since Stratford Canning played a part in which Liston would almost certainly have failed. Circumstances indeed made peace between Russia and the Porte practicable; for Alexander was about to fight Napoleon, while the Turkish army had been severely defeated and was rapidly deteriorating. But the Sultan might very well consider that the French attack on Russia would be his opportunity, as the energetic and skilful French Chargé laboured to prove with the constant assistance of the Austrian and Prussian Ambassadors, while the Russian generals were convinced that they could easily overcome the remnants of the Grand Vizir's armies. Moreover, the Porte's usual weapon in diplomacy was always delay, which seemed especially suitable at this juncture. Without Stratford Canning's mediation, therefore, it is doubtful if peace could have been made until the news of Napoleon's invasion had reached Constantinople, and then it
1 The story is well told by Lane Poole in his Life of Stratford Canning, but the dispatches, of some of which a very short précis is given in the Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy, i. 599-602, add many details.
2 For Liston's dilatoriness, see Bath Archives, i. 216, 278, 287; and Buckingham, Memoirs of the Regency, i. 128.
might never have been made, with incalculable consequences on the whole campaign.
The diplomatic situation at the beginning of 1812 indeed appeared hopeless. The Tsar had rejected the Porte's offer of the Pruth, and demanded the Sereth as a boundary and the Phasis in Asia, insisting also that Turkey should make an alliance. The French were triumphant at this news, but in spite of a terrible row over Turkish un-neutral action, which was proceeding at the time, Canning's offer to write once more to Italinski, the Russian diplomatic agent, was accepted by the Reis Effendi, and the Turks restrained from breaking off negotiations. In the interval the French, as a result of frequent couriers from Paris, made a determined effort to prevent peace, while Canning had to confess he had no instructions. "I must not omit to inform your Lordship," ran his dignified protest, "that having had occasion to see the Reis Effendi this morning he questioned me respecting the long silence of His Majesty's Government towards the Porte, in a manner which betrayed much anxiety and disappointment on that account, feelings which I have but too much reason to believe he only partakes in common with his colleagues. I think it my duty to mention this circumstance and to entreat your Lordship's attention to what I have repeatedly urged upon the same subject in my former dispatches." 1
In spite of this handicap he held his own, and when Baron Stürmer, the Austrian Ambassador, announced to the Porte, with a great flourish of trumpets, the new FrancoAustrian treaty directed against Russia and guaranteeing the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, Canning countered by revealing to the Porte the plan of invasion of Turkey, drawn up in 1810, which Adair had procured from his friends in Vienna. When the Ambassador returned to the attack with the offer of active co-operation against Russia and the dispatch of officers to the front, indignation with Austria added to Canning's resolution. "I assure your Lordship," he wrote, "that if other motives were wanting, the sole desire of helping
1 Stratford Canning to Wellesley, Jan. 11, Feb. 6, 21. March 11, 1812: F.O. Turkey, 77.
in some degree to make the degraded Government of Austria feel that the only points to be gathered from the sacrifice of her honour are mistrust and contempt would urge me to redouble my exertions." He even contemplated the offer of £300,000 to the Porte under the terms of a secret article of the treaty of 1809. Fortunately, the Reis Effendi shewed sufficient resolution to spare the young Minister this grave responsibility. 1
The issue, however, was still in doubt, and the announcement of the dispatch of General Andreossi, as French Ambassador, increased Canning's anxiety. It was difficult to make the Russians realise the situation by letters, which the Turks conveyed and saw, and in this emergency Canning made use of a Scotch traveller, Gordon, to convey to Bucharest his urgent warnings. By this time his letters to Petersburg had begun to take effect, and the result was that on May 28 a treaty was signed at Bucharest. Even now, however, though Russia had conceded the Pruth frontier--thus giving up the Principalities and keeping only Bessarabia--and agreed to return her conquests in Asia, there were difficulties in the fact that she still demanded a treaty of alliance, and the Asiatic article was doubtfully worded. Ratification was still uncertain, and Canning had again to intervene with letters to Italinski, urging the Turkish point of view on these points. Gordon, who seems to have been an excellent diplomatist, had frightened the Russians by lurid accounts of Austria's hostile intentions, and by the time Liston appeared on the scene the ratifications had been sent off, though the Porte still meant to alter the Asiatic article of the treaty if it could. Though the real author of the treaty was Napoleon, whose threatened attack forced the necessary concessions from the Tsar, yet the courage, energy, persistence, and resource of Canning under the most difficult circumstances will always remain on record as a fitting prelude to the career of the greatest British Ambassador of the nineteenth century. 2
1 "Stratford Canning to Wellesley, March 17, 26, April 12, 25, 26, 1812": F.O. Turkey, 77.
2 "From Stratford Canning, May 11, June 10, 12, 29, 1812": F.O. Turkey, 77. Bernadotte's influence on the Tsar also contributed to the result, though his envoy, Tavast, arrived too late on the scene at Constantinople
In the midst of his anxieties Canning did not neglect to ensure that Liston should have a magnificent reception by the Turkish authorities. The old gentleman had still an important part to play in keeping the Turks quiet through the vicissitudes of the next eighteen months, but his qualities were sufficient to soothe and placate the nervous Sultan and his Ministers. Castlereagh endeavoured to help him by information from Paris that "there is every reason to believe that the ultimate object of Bonaparte is the taking of Constantinople and placing himself on the throne of Constantine. He has packed up with his equipage his coronation robes and imperial crown." This news possibly did not much disturb the Sultan, but it was important that Liston put his foot down on Admiral Tchitagov's absurd scheme of marching across the Balkan Peninsula to the Adriatic, much to that gentleman's annoyance, but to the great relief of the Turks, who had threatened war to prevent it. He deprecated any attempt to force into active alliance against the French, the Turks, who were now discontented that they had not taken greater advantage of Russia's difficulties. The Sultan, whose personal interference had alone made the Peace of Bucharest possible, at one time seemed to contemplate a renewal of hostilities, and he relieved his anger by cruel and capricious conduct towards the Ministers who had signed it.
It was long, indeed, before the Porte realised the defeat of Napoleon. Throughout 1813 the Sultan wavered from side to side, growing steadily more uneasy at Russia's triumphs. The armistice of June was hailed as a decided check to her arms, and the Reis Effendi insisted on Liston supporting the Turkish demand to be represented at the proposed Conference at Prague. But the rapidity of events made Turkish actions of small importance, and the Sultan could only await the final stage of the drama with great anxiety, relying almost entirely on British support to save him from his enemies in the north when they were freed from French pressure. 1
to help Stratford Canning. The French view, which exaggerated the effect of English 'bribes,' is given from Latour Maubourg's dispatches by Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre I. iii. 443-48.
1 Cooke to Liston, May 15, 1812; from Liston, July 11, 18, Aug. 12. Sept. 14, Sept. 18; "(to Cooke) Nov. 12, Dec. 12, 1812": F.O. Turkey, 79. "Jan. 15March 27, Aug. 10, 13, 1813",
Meanwhile on the extreme wing of the battle front-- Persia --an attempt was also being made to promote peace. It must be admitted that this effort was as much due to obtain relief from a subsidy of 200,000 tomans per annum as to assist the Russian cause. British officers were aiding the Persian army in Georgia to win considerable successes and a flotilla on the Caspian sea was planned. Still Sir Gore Ouseley, the British Ambassador, continued to press for peace though he was of the opinion that a weak Persia was far less dangerous to India than a strong one. The first successes of Bonaparte, however, had an even greater effect at Teheran than the treaty of Bucharest, which the Shah considered a base betrayal by the Turks. News came very slowly, and in the middle of 1813 the Persians still hoped Petersburg would share the fate of Moscow. At last, by promising to use his personal aid to get further concessions from Russia, Sir Gore negotiated a peace at the end of September 1813. He did it, he said, at the risk of his health, because his Government seemed to consider "that strengthening Persia is better policy than leaving her in her former state of weakness," obviously still believing the contrary himself. He made the journey to Petersburg in order to carry out his promise without much effect, though he was convinced that, if only Russia would leave the Georgians alone, they would act as a splendid buffer state. Young James Morier meanwhile had to negotiate a new treaty with Persia, which was not concluded until November 25, 1814. It made due provision for British assistance to Persia in time of war, beginning, after praising God, the All-perfect and All-sufficient: "These happy leaves are a nosegay plucked from the thornless garden of concord and tied by the hands of the Plenipotentiaries of the 2 great states in the form of a definite
March 27, Aug. 10, 13, 1813: F.O. Turkey, 81. It is quite likely that Napoleon did take the emblems of Charlemagne with him to Russia, but, if so, the coronation was meant to take place at Moscow, not at Constantinople ( Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre I, iii. 587). "Liston to Wilson, Sept. 20, 1812": Wilson MSS. 30106, f. 324; Dec. 25, 1812; "Jan. 5, 7, 1813". Randolph, Wilson's Journal, 395, 400, 402. Wilson was employed by Liston to stop the Russians' march on Dalmatia. Ali Pasha of Janina, a valuable ally of the British because of the strategic position and ship timber of his territory, had also protested, and Castlereagh constantly urged attention to his interests both to Liston and Bentinck (e.g. "To Liston, March 27, 1812": F.O. Turkey, 77. "To Bentinck, June 10, 1812": F.O. Sicily, 50).
treaty, in which the articles of Friendship and Amity are blended." 1
1 To Cathcart, July 24, 1812: F.O. Russia, 78. "From Sir Gore Ouseley, March 15, July 6, 1812": F.O. Persia, 6; "Aug. 10, Oct. 12. Dec. 24, 1812": F.O. Persia, 7; "Jan. 16, July 10, Sept. 28, 1813": F.O. Persia, 8. Sir Gore Ouseley to the Earl of Buckingham, Feb. 11, 1814; To Morier, April 28, 1814; "from Morier, June 25, Nov. 30, 1814": F.O. Persia, 9. See also C.C. ix. 162, x. 107. "Sir Gore Ouseley to the Prince Regent, March 20, 1812"; Oct. 31, 1813: Windsor Arch, The last letter betrays some bitterness and an obvious hint: "Although the affairs relating to Persia (unfortunately for me) create little interest in England yet, the reverse being the case in Russia, I have already received the most grateful acknowledgments from General Rtischev, Governor General of Russia and the Lion of the Caucasus." Yet Sir Gore Ouseley suffered the humiliation of being offered passage home from Petersburg in a horse transport, which he refused as "disparaging my representative character so much at the close of my mission." F.O. Persia, 10.
2. THE RISING OF THE NORTH
THE Spanish rising, important as its ultimate influence was on British policy and Napoleon's power, was immediately only local in its effects. The first breaking up of the European Empire of Napoleon came in the north. In 1812 the invasion of Russia dominated the political scene, and all eyes in Europe were fastened on one of the most dramatic and unexpected tragedies of history. Castlereagh could do but little to influence such a titanic struggle so far away, though Napoleon's success might be disastrous to British imperial and economic interests. On either flank, however, Britain had a footing, and, as has been seen, at Constantinople Stratford Canning had contributed a good deal to ease the pressure on the Russian armies. Castlereagh himself had played little or no part in this development; but the Baltic was much nearer, and it was to the Baltic that Castlereagh's main attention was directea in the year 1812. No attempt was made to influence Russia during the long period of suspense while the Russian and French armies were gathering against one another. Both the Tsar and his Francophil Chancellor, Rumantzov, who still nominally directed foreign affairs, knew through Spanish and Sicilian agents that Russia's actions were being watched sympathetically in London, and that aid would come to her if she threw down the gauntlet. But Russia must take all the responsibility of her actions upon herself. "It has never been the policy of this country," wrote Castlereagh in his first dispatch on the subject, "to incite Russia to war. It has been, on the contrary, the uniform wish of the British Government to leave the decision of that question entirely to Russia upon a view of her own situation and resources." 1
1 To Thornton, March 13, 1812: F.O. Sweden, 71. Extracts and Précis from a number of Thornton's dispatches for 1812 are given in the Cambridge
For the moment, therefore, it was Sweden from whom something might be expected immediately, small in itself, perhaps, but of great importance because of its ultimate effect on Russian policy. There the Gascon, Bernadotte, who against Napoleon's wishes had become Prince Royal and heir to the old King, who had succeeded in 1809 to the mad Gustavus, was planning with rash words but subtle brain a new orientation of Swedish policy. Wellesley's negotiations in 1811 had completely failed, partly because he had wanted to obtain results too quickly. The French invasion of Pomerania and the clouds threatening over Russia had, however, produced a new situation, and Bernadotte, in February, had approached the Tsar and secured his assent to the conquest of Norway. He still looked to Britain to aid him in the same object. Castlereagh disliked the idea of associating Britain in the attack on Norway on which Bernadotte had set his heart, but he appreciated his wish to isolate Sweden from Germany and consolidate her power in the peninsula. Thornton was authorised, therefore, at once to promise naval protection, some military equipment, the cession of a West Indian island--one of Bernadotte's strange desires--and even on the question of Norway to hint that British countenance would be given, though peace must be made before further discussion could take place. "In the present situation of Europe," ran the dispatch, "when all the minor states on the southern shores of the Baltic have sunk into the vassalage of France, should Sweden, instead of engaging in distant operations, consider it necessary for her own safety to consolidate her internal system, and with this view deem it wise to look for her security to the protection of Russia on one flank, and the naval power of England on the other, excluding from the
History of British Foreign Policy, i. 590-99, but they are often inadequate and sometimes misleading. A Swedish translation of British Records, 1809-13, is given in Scaevola (Pseud.), Utlandska diplomaters minnen fråu Svenska Hofvet (three parts, 1885), while some of them are printed in English in S. Wollebaek Om Kielertraktaten ( 1928). Vandal's dramatic and scientific account of the negotiations of 1812 (in his Napoleon et Alexandre, vol. iii. 1911) is too prejudiced against. Bernadotte, as is the slighter and less reliable book of Pingaud ( Bernadotte Napoléon et les Bourbons, 1901). There are many Swedish narratives which do not, however, take British policy into full account, especially that part revealed in Cathcart's dispatches.
northern coast of that sea the influence of a Government so subservient to France as Denmark must be--to such a view of her policy it would be difficult for Great Britain to oppose any objection."
Sweden was, therefore, to be encouraged to hope. It was something at any rate to keep her from helping France, but, of course, an attack on Norway would have but little effect in the main theatre of war when the great clash of arms came-if come it did. For long, therefore, Castlereagh coquetted with the idea that Denmark might be induced by compensations in Germany (which must not affect Hanover) to come to some arrangement with Bernadotte, "as the only chance . . . of the Allies being able to command a disposable force for continental operations within the period which may probably decide the fate of the campaign." 1
Meanwhile Thornton, who arrived at Stockholm on April 6, had found that the Swedish Ministers had just made a treaty with Russia by which Norway had been guaranteed to her and assistance offered for an attack on the heart of Denmark--the island of Zealand, on which Copenhagen itself is situated. It was only natural that the Swedish Minister should press hard for similar terms from Britain, hinting that this was the way to get in touch with Russia, whose Chargé, Nicolai, was apologetic to Thornton as to the silence of his Government towards Britain. Bernadotte himself, however, took excessive pains to check his Gascon exuberance, and in an informal interview admitted that Britain's caution was only natural, though unjust. He was anxious to prove "that he had made himself what he was by his own sword and by no favour from Napoleon," but he quite charmed Thornton by his "natural, open, and unaffected manner with nothing of the fanfaronade usual with Frenchmen of which the Prince seems to have as little as almost any Frenchman I have ever seen." Later Bernadotte urged the attack on Zealand as his best contribution to the campaign. Swedes of all classes, indeed, insisted that Norway must come first for fear of Russia as well as of France. They could not risk another Tilsit in their
1 To Thornton, March 13, April 14, 1812: F.O. Sweden, 71; "March 13, 25, 27, April 14": Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy, i. 591-92.
present position: "But the union of the whole northern peninsula under one monarchy gave to it at once a sort of insular security against any invasion with military force alone . . . it would impose upon them the eternal and (they added) the agreeable obligation of cultivating a constant union with Great Britain, whose maritime superiority was the sole guarantee of their safety by sea." 1
There was much truth in these arguments, so skilfully adjusted to British pride, but Castlereagh refused to admit their force in the immediate situation. Sweden must first make peace with Britain, he wrote on May 7, before the question of Britain joining the Swedish-Russian alliance could be considered, nor could Sweden's demands for large subsidies be granted. The situation was made very difficult by the fact that Russia, in spite of her critical position, had as yet made no direct approach to Britain. True, Thorntonhad sounded Suchtelen, the new Russian Minister at Stockholm, and Nicolai, after a visit to Petersburg, had brought a message from Rumantzov that he wanted peace, a subsidy, and Lord Wellesley as Ambassador. But, as Castlereagh pointed out, it was admitted that Russia was still in discussion with the enemy and the moment for action had not yet come.
The month of May was thus one of great suspense. The French consul and the Austrian Minister, Neipperg, used every form of blandishment and threat to win Bernadotte to the French side, while news came of new Russian offers at Paris of which Rumantzov had told Sweden nothing--still less, of course, Thornton, when he sent his message by Nicolai. Nevertheless Castlereagh, convinced that war was inevitable, sent Thornton full powers to make a treaty of peace with Russia, and promised an Ambassador of high rank. But nothing could be done with either Sweden or Russia while the issue still remained doubtful on the Continent. Bernadotte, pleading illness, sent word that he could not make peace with Britain and refuse France's tempting offers, though he knew they were illusory, until the Russian situation was clear. Rumantzov's conduct still appeared treacherous. Suchtelen had to confess to Thornton that the Chancellor had acted
1 From Thornton, April 9, 16, 27, 1812: F.O. Sweden, 72.
dishonourably; and when, on June 24, Rumantzov offered to make peace only on condition that Britain assumed her large debt in Holland and subsidised Sweden, it seemed as if he were purposely playing for time. But Bernadotte had at last realised that it was no time to bargain with Britain, and he pressed this view on the Tsar; and when on July 4 news came that the French had crossed the Niemen, British help, naval and financial, became urgent. On July 18, therefore, at Orebro, Thornton was able to sign treaties of peace with Sweden and Russia. They did no more than put an end to the technical state of war. The real negotiation had yet to begin. 1
Thornton had fully carried out his instructions, but the result was terribly disappointing; for Bernadotte soon announced that he could take no part in the campaign without large sums of British money, and this aid Thornton had no authority to give. The Prince Royal had no intention of making an irretrievable step until it was seen on which side victory lay. He was still at peace with France. Thornton, therefore, after using every argument in vain to move Bernadotte, accepted his suggestion to return home for instructions, and was about to do so when, to his great surprise, Cathcart arrived on his way to Petersburg.
The Ambassador had been sent off as soon as the news of the outbreak of war had been received. The choice was in a sense a curious one, for Cathcart was the commander at the attack on Copenhagen in 1807. Nor had the old gentleman much diplomatic experience or those qualities which seemed to be needed in the delicate state of Baltic politics. But he was an Earl and of high military rank--an indispensable condition if he was to accompany the Tsar in the field, and not be a mere cipher at Petersburg. He had complete confidence in himself and was never ruffled by adverse circumstances, qualities which enabled him to pass unscathed
1 From Thornton, April 29 (with extracts from Rumantzov to Nicolai, April 6), May 6, 21, 30, June 6, 17, 23, Aug. 2, 8, 1812: F.O. Sweden, 72, 73, 74. May 3, 6, 15, 20, 30, June 24, July 4, 18: Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy, i. 597-99. To Thornton, May 7, 8, 1812: F.O. Sweden, 71. May 7, 22, 1812: Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy, i. 592-93. F. Martens, Recueil des Trailés, xi. 156-62. It was apparently the Tsar himself who asked for Wellesley.
through situations which might have daunted a more imaginative and subtle envoy. In all the vicissitudes of the next two years only once is it recorded that he shewed signs of uneasiness, and that was produced by the presence of both John Quincy Adams and Madame de Staël--it must be admitted a formidable combination.
The Ambassador had been waiting for two months to set out. Castlereagh had been anxiously watching the tortuous diplomacy of May and June, afraid to commit himself while the issue was in doubt. It was obvious that Sweden's action depended on the larger Power, whose conduct, Thornton was ordered to tell Suchtelen, seemed quite inexplicable: "You will acquaint him that H.R.H. the Prince Regent has been long expecting some satisfactory communication from the Russian Government which will enable Lord Cathcart to proceed to his destination which nothing but the hesitating counsels of the Court of St. Petersburg has prevented. It is to be remarked as extraordinary that Russia should avail herself of the mediation of Great Britain to procure peace with the Porte and hesitate as to concluding peace with the Power she has chosen to negotiate for her." Nevertheless, the situation was obviously so urgent that Cathcart was dispatched on the news of war even before the Russian peace treaty reached London.
His instructions in the extraordinary state of affairs on the Continent were very general and threw on him immense responsibility. He was not authorised to offer subsidies to either Russia or Sweden, but a sum of £500,000 was placed at his disposal "to be applied to the service of Russia or Sweden as circumstances may point out." His gaze was directed, however, far afield. Naturally he was to promote peace with Turkey and Persia, but he was also to watch the policies of Prussia and Austria, especially the latter, and even to take under his care national uprisings in Dalmatia, the Tyrol, or Switzerland, should such occur--a sufficiently difficult job from Petersburg. But of course the instructions were framed to meet any emergency. No one could tell which way the tide of battle would flow. How undecided Castlereagh's own mind had been is shewn by the fact that nine days afterwards he sent a supplementary instruction authorising Cathcart to use the whole of the £500,000 to get Sweden into the war at once, even offering to agree as to Norway if Sweden would postpone her operations against Denmark and attack France immediately. 1
This last dispatch reached Cathcart in time for him to make the offer at the important conferences held between the Tsar and Bernadotte at Abo in September. He had found Bernadotte full of schemes as usual, including a temporary occupation of Finland to save it from the French. But the Crown Prince refused to postpone the acquisition of Norway, and the Tsar agreed to help him in his attack on Zealand with 20,000 men. This was not a great contribution towards defeating Napoleon; but the Tsar told Cathcart that, "from the situation and feelings of the Government and people of Sweden, he did not think it possible to obtain it, and that, as he was fully satisfied of the zeal and of the generous and loyal principles of the Prince Royal, he did not think it fair to press him on that subject." Perhaps a clause in the Abo Convention by which Sweden agreed to Russia's advance to the Vistula helped him to this decision. Cathcart seemed to think that these objections were a little premature, while Napoleon's armies were marching into the heart of Russia, but took care to point out Britain was never likely to agree to Zealand remaining in Swedish hands, while "the proposition of extension of territory to the Vistula had, I believed, never occurred to the imagination of the Court of London."
The main result of the Conference therefore was merely to renew the friendship between the Tsar and the Prince Royal. It brought no Swedish help across the Baltic, and Cathcart's money remained idle in his pocket. It was soon seen, indeed, that Bernadotte had no intention of leaving Sweden at all so late in the season, and the auxiliary Russian corps was needed in Russia itself. Cathcart could, however, report a warm welcome to himself from the Tsar, while the Chancellor attempted to justify his past conduct and agreed cordially with all Cathcart's criticisms. He had, however, obviously
1 To Thornton, July 3, 1812: F.O. Sweden, 71. To Cathcart, July 24, Aug. 5, 1812: F.O. Russia, 78.
lost his master's confidence--one of the most cheering factors in the situation. 1
For the next three months the great conflict in Russia with its dramatic reversal of fortune almost hushed the mouths and stopped the pens of the diplomatists. Cathcart remained at Petersburg, while Sir Robert Wilson, fresh from Turkey, sent him vivid reports of the fighting, which were unfortunately mixed up with too much politics, and Lord Tyrconnell, one of the attachés, lost his life following the French retreat. The Tsar in an agony of mind, though sustained by the national steadfastness and the letters of his favourite sister, could make no plans for the future until the will of Providence was known. But Cathcart was always able to report his resolution to persevere to the end. When news came of the fall of Moscow, Alexander declared that, "the more reliance was placed by the enemy on that event, the more his determination to persevere would prove to all Europe the sincerity of his declarations and the zeal with which he was supported by his people." A little later, though Petersburg was not yet directly menaced, he said he should continue the conflict if necessary in Siberia, and sent his fleet to join the captured ships of Copenhagen under the protection of the Power whose tyranny he had once so vigorously denounced. During this critical time Cathcart could do little except maintain an imperturbable mien in the Petersburg salons. He even had a pleasant conversation with John Quincy Adams. He plied Rumantzov with entreaties to admit British commerce, which had little or no effect, and seized every opportunity to encourage the Tsar to get rid of his Chancellor at the earliest opportunity. He also directed his attention to the importance of conciliating Austria in every way possible. 2
As for Sweden, she remained armed but quiescent during all this period. Bernadotte had not the slightest intention of risking himself in the general mêlée. His main anxiety was
1 From Cathcart, Aug. 14, 17, 30, 1812: F.O. Russia, 79. Thornton also thought that the article about Zealand shewed" a pretty unequivocal proof of a desire to add the possession of that island to that of Norway." From Thornton, Sept. 12, 1812: F.O. Sweden, 74.
2 From Cathcart, Sept. 13, 15, 17, 22, 30, Oct. 18, 1812: F.O. Russia, 79. Cathcart hired a house for three years at the most critical period of 1812 in order to reassure the inhabitants of Petersburg.
to get Britain's accession to the Abo Convention so that he should possess another guarantee of Norway and, as Thornton believed, of Zealand also. Cathcart was also pressed to take the same step at Petersburg, but replied that Britain wished to get the voluntary consent of Denmark, which he seems to have thought could be obtained by colonial restitutions. Meanwhile Bernadotte tried to use the British desire that he should make peace with Spain to bargain on this subject, evincing also "a great repugnance to do anything which might shock the feelings of his brother-in-law Joseph." Not until the tide had turned in Russia did he take this step, on which Thornton had refused to be cajoled. Bad harvests and the late season now made action against Norway impossible, and it was not until the end of December that the French Chargé was dismissed from Stockholm. 1
Nor could Castlereagh give much help during these critical months, though he sent a constant stream of dispatches to the Baltic. The problem of Norway exercised his pen, and gradually and reluctantly Bernadotte's obstinacy produced its intended effect. The island of Guadeloupe was offered to encourage Sweden to resist France. The declared intention of treating the Norwegians in a conciliatory fashion was warmly welcomed, though Castlereagh insisted that Sweden must shew herself completely identified with Britain and Russia before he could make any engagement, and he was careful to claim a voice in the future of Zealand. The inactivity of Sweden induced him at the end of November to go further than he had ever done before. He was ready, he told Thornton on November 29, to sign a treaty concerning Norway, but not on the lines laid down at Abo which included a guarantee of possession to Sweden. This problem in one form or another was to occupy his mind a good deal during the rest of his life, and his attitude at this moment is an interesting one. "The point that I am most desirous of having fully represented, especially to the Prince Royal," he wrote in a long and carefully prepared dispatch, "is the insuperable difficulty, I may say impracticability, of being a formal party
1 From Thornton, Sept. 18, 28, Oct. 13, 24, Nov. 3, 10, 26, Dec. 18, 29, 1812; F.O. Sweden, 74. From Cathcart, Oct. 26, 1812: F.O. Russia, 79.
to the guarantees these treaties contain, more especially when Sweden is not prepared to carry her arms to the Continent. It is almost impossible to make foreigners understand the delicacies and difficulties of our Parliamentary system. We can do much in support of foreign states (I believe no Power so much), but we must do it our own way. The continental Governments that have no account to render to a Parliament can commit themselves to guarantee possessions and never to lay down arms till others are acquired, well knowing that they are amenable to no authority for the prudence of such engagements, and that when they become impracticable the engagements are dissolved either by circumstances or by mutual consent. They can also keep such engagements secret as long as it suits their convenience. In our system concealment is not practicable for any length of time, and when the stipulations are canvassed they are impeached upon every extreme case that ingenuity can suggest as falling within their possible operation. . . .
"It is not, then, to be inferred that the British Government do not mean to maintain a point for a friendly Power because they refuse to guarantee it. Guarantees have been given, it is true, of Portugal and Sicily, but these were established features in the policy of the country to the maintenance of which our military exertions have long been expressly directed, but, close as the connection is, such an engagement has never been taken with respect to Hanover, nor with regard to Spain, nor with relation to various other objects of which, either from the point of honour or a sense of common interest, we have been most tenacious." 1
Meanwhile, the far greater question of what help should be given to Russia had not yet been solved. Munitions had been already dispatched, and the Government were preparing to send out 150,000 muskets for the victorious levies. Parliament, in spite of Whitbread's opposition, cheerfully voted £200,000 for the relief of the inhabitants of Moscow, and public subscriptions were made for the same end. In November Nicolai resumed his old position as Secretary of
1 To Thornton, Oct. 10, 20, 1812: Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy, i. 593 (where last wrongly dated): Oct. 10, NOV. 29, 1812: F.O. Sweden. 71.
Embassy at London, and he was soon followed by Count Lieven. Both made demands for large subsidies, which they considered were no more than Russia's due after her successful resistance. The Tsar himself, however, never asked for money, telling Cathcart that he preferred arms to guineas, and the question hung fire until it was seen what policy Alexander would pursue now that the French were expelled from his own territories. 1
Obviously much depended on how be would be received if he carried the war into Germany. For long this question had been occupying Castlereagh's thoughts, and in particular he had constantly directed Cathcart's attention towards Austria. Bernadotte might help to raise the north of Germany. Could Austria also be brought over, and a greater coalition than ever Pitt had seen be brought into being?
1 From Cathcart, Dec. 6, 1812: F.O. Russia, 80. F. Martens, Recueil, ix. 166-68. Hansard, Commons, Dec. 18, 1812. Canning, who claimed that the war in the north was "child of that great effort on the Peninsula which has enabled Europe to reflect on its condition and has raised it to a struggle for emancipation," thought that the way to help Russia was by action in Spain. Hansard, Commons, Nov. 30, 1812.
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