Britain and the Reconstruction of Europe
3. RELATIONS WITH PRUSSIA AND AUSTRIA
THROUGHOUT the year 1812 Napoleon dominated the two monarchies of central Europe. They were, in fact, his vassals, constrained to support his attack on Russia and supply auxiliary corps to protect the flanks of his huge army. The situation of the two countries was, however, vastly different--they were only united by a common subterranean hatred of their master. Prussia was far more completely under control. In 1811 she had by an appeal to the Tsar, which met with but little response, vainly attempted to escape from her humiliating and dangerous position. In her despair, fearing a last partition at Napoleon's hands, she had no alternative but to accept all his conditions, and agreed to facilitate the passage of his troops through her territory and provide the protection of his left wing. Austria, on the contrary, affected independence, and her relations were ostensibly guided by the close harmony between the two Imperial Courts, now so intimately united by marriage. The treaty with Austria was, in theory, between two equal sovereign states, and the tide of the French armies was kept away from her territory, while her auxiliary corps was no larger than that of her weaker neighbour. Moreover, the treaty guaranteed the Ottoman Empire, so dangerously threatened by Russian troops, and thus Austria's interests were taken into consideration and received protection.
Both countries were, however, in secret full of men resolved to break the chains, whether iron or silken, which bound them to Napoleon's chariot. In Prussia, the Chancellor, Hardenberg, was in his innermost soul fully sympathetic to them, but the dangerous position of his country made him for the moment seek safety in a policy of complete acquiescence, while the King was in constant dread lest he should lose the rest of his kingdom. In Austria, the Empress, Stadion, and numbers of other soldiers and statesmen resented the French connection. Metternich, himself the author of the French alliance, always tried to keep a door open for retreat, informing the Tsar secretly that the Austrian corps was only meant for display and would do no harm if left alone. But both he and the Emperor never dreamed at this moment of breaking from the French connection. At the magnificent entertainment which Napoleon gave at Dresden to his vassal kings and princes the Emperor affected a personal intimacy. The King of Prussia came late and hardly ventured more than a timid subserviency. Metternich and Hardenberg exchanged the most secret confidences, a marriage alliance between Prussia and Austria was planned, and Metternich obtained a sort of ascendancy over Prussian policy and encouraged her distrust of Russia. The weakness of Prussia was so obvious that few observers in Europe looked to her to raise the standard of opposition in Germany. Certainly during this year British hopes were not placed high. The Prussian Chancellor appeared terribly disappointed that the French offer of peace in April had been rejected. England, he said, was preparing her own ruin. This may have been merely calculated language, but it was significant that for a long period he hardly saw Ompteda, and British intercourse with the Prussian Government almost ceased. 1
In these circumstances Britain naturally looked elsewhere for leadership of that popular resistance which events in Spain had convinced her leaders was latent in Germany. As Münster pointed out in a Memorandum written about this time: "A more general resistance and a popular war must destroy a system which carries the principle of self-destruction within itself, in having made the whole population of continental Europe poor, whilst at the same time it has trained it to the use of arms and has left no choice but that of fighting for or against the Tyrant. All this authorises me to expect a great popular insurrection on the Continent the moment the people
1 Ompteda to Münster, May 30, June 26, July 4, 1812; Ompteda, Nachlass, ii. 270, 280, 285.
shall find an army to which they may, in the first moment, look for protection and which will render their first union possible."
For this reason Münster from the first strongly supported Bernadotte's plans. He preferred, perhaps, that Prussia should not take too prominent a part, owing to her past treatment of Hanover. Indeed, throughout most of this year many German patriots, as they looked at Prussia apparently reduced to as low a level as any member of the Confederation of the Rhine, planned a new Germany in which she should be reduced to a second- or third-rate position. This is the explanation of the design imputed to Münster and the Prince Regent of creating a new and powerful north German state, with Hanover as its centre, ruled by a member of the Guelph House, to take the place of Prussia. But Münster's allusion to this idea in a letter to Stein was called forth by a specially tactless letter of the latter's, and it was never a very serious part of his policy. He was merely putting Hanover's right to an increase of territory in the north of Germany on an equality with that of Prussia. The utterance was purely defensive, and, as the sequel was to prove, Münster was moderate enough when the time for action came, while neither Castlereagh nor the Cabinet ever gave the slightest encouragement to the creation of a great Hanover at the expense of Prussia. 1
But as Bernadotte's promised attack failed to materialise a substitute was hard to find. Gneisenau, in disgust at the policy of Prussia, had come to England to obtain support for his plan of a German legion which he should throw into Colberg, so magnificently defended in 1807, and, with British help, make the centre of a popular movement. Münster was greatly desirous that some such plan should be carried out, and addressed the Prince Regent a memoir on the subject, accompanied by a grandiloquent letter reminding him that he belonged to the cadet branch of the "oldest house in the
1 Memorandum by Münster"on the intended alliance between the Courts of Russia and Sweden," [ May] 1812: F.O. Hanover, 4. Seeley in his compilation and German historians, especially those who wrote under the influence of the events of 1866, have always exaggerated the "Austrasian" project. Cf. Seeley, Stein, iii. 18; Treitschke, History of Germany (Eng. trans.). i., 522; Pertz, Skein, iii. 238-40.
Universe," which once ruled over the greater part of Germany. Providence, it is true, had compensated the Guelph House by an even fairer domain "the first throne in the world." But even that position was subject to mortal chances, and meanwhile there was no reason why its German dominions should not be increased. The Duke of York, he suggested, might be placed at the head of the expedition.
The Prussian Chancellor had been much alarmed at Gneisenau's plan when he heard of it, and had urged Ompteda that an expedition to Holland was greatly to be preferred. In any case the claims of the Peninsula made British co-operation impracticable unless her efforts were to be entirely diverted from that area, and the plans were still being canvassed when the Prussian people forced their King into the position of leader of the north. British hopes were then immediately transferred to Prussia, and the enthusiasm was all the greater because expectation had been so small. 1
It was natural, however, that throughout 1812 much greater attention should be paid to Austria than to Prussia. She was still a great Power, and if the French policy of Metternich was regrettable, both Minister and policy might be changed when the opportunity came. Indeed, Metternich himself took care never to lose touch, and, while no great confidence could be placed in him, care was taken to keep the connection as close as possible. Metternich never gave his confidence to the vain, rash, and conceited young man, King, whose reports, except in so far as they were an echo of Count Hardenberg's, were untrustworthy. He was used as one who could be disavowed, if necessary, to foment insurrection in the Tyrol--a service which he performed without great discretion. Still, he was a link. He saw Metternich occasionally and reported his conversations, while one of his duties was to pay Gentz, that prolific journalist and publicist, who was not unmindful of his old connection as a British propagandist. Gentz had been very cautious all the year 1811. Nevertheless he yearned, he
1 Memorandum of Münster, Dec. 6, 18l2; "Münster to the Prince Regent, Dec. 7, 1812": F.O. Hanover, 4. "Ompteda to Münster, Nov. 23, 1812":
Ompteda, Nachlass, ii. 313. Lehmann, Gneisenau's Sendung nach Schweden und England im Jahre 1812, in his Historische Aufsatze und Reden, 292-93.
said, for news from England and undoubtedly for English gold. In April 1812 he sent a pathetic mixture of flattery and entreaty, which eventually met with some response, for Cooke wrote to King on November 3: "Say everything flattering to Gentz and give him £600 and draw for it, and you may promise more if he will be useful." But Gentz' contribution was only a pamphlet defending the Orders in Council at the moment when they were withdrawn. He had not yet much influence with Metternich. 1
The principal and responsible channel was Count Hardenberg, who maintained his connection with Metternich with considerable skill throughout the year. It was through him that Metternich conveyed the view which he wished British statesmen to take of his policy even after more direct contact was established at the end of the year through General Nugent and Lord Walpole. For Metternich never left Britain outside the complicated game in which he was secretly engaged. Before the campaign he sought to add to his secret assurances to Russia by her aid, and later on he tried to make her the instrument of peace. This process began even before the war with Russia. " Metternich's overtures on the subject," wrote Münster in a private little note to Cooke on July 5, "seem to aim at a double game: he wishes England to understand and persuade Russia that the alliance is not meant seriously, and that Austria intends no harm tto Russia, if not provoked. The fact is that the Austrian Ministry is silly enough to imagine they may now safely overthrow the constitution of Hungary." No notice seems to have been taken of this communication; but in August Metternich opened himself more fully to Hardenberg, feeling no doubt that Austrian policy at Constantinople needed some explanation. He defended it by Austria's natural fear of a Russo-Turkish alliance and the advance of Russia in the Principalities. Above all, the scheme for the march of Russian troops to the Adriatic had caused great anxiety,
1 King correspondence is in F.O. Austria, 99. "Gentz to the Prince Regent, April 19, 1812": F.O. Austria, 98. . . ." Je ne desire au monde que les moyens de m'acquitter des dettes que j'ai contractées, pendant un nombre d'années oú le Gouvernement Britannique a paru m'avoir completemerit oublié. Ma tranquillité, moll honneur, mon existence future tiennent á une somme d'euviron 1500 £."
because Napoleon would immediately have taken action against it and thus Austrian territory might have become a theatre of war. He complained bitterly of Russia's silence towards him which had forced him into his active French policy. It was obvious that his hatred and distrust of Rumantzov were as strong as ever, and that he constantly dreaded that Russia and France would make a peace at the expense of Prussia, leaving Austria isolated. He hinted also that Napoleon would reply to the last British answer, and that Austria would be prepared to facilitate the negotiation.
There was no hurry to reply to this insidious epistle. As Münster told Cooke soon after its arrival: "I believe, of course, that the best answer would be to say that Great Britain had no reason to press Bonaparte's reply, especially after the recent events in Spain and Russia, and that she was much averse to negotiations whose result would most likely merely tend to discourage her allies." Castlereagh, however, at once informed Cathcart of its contents, not for communication to the Tsar, but in order that he might urge that "an assurance of firmness on the part of Russia and a real demonstration of goodwill towards Austria may induce that Power not only to adhere to its present line of qualified hostility, but under wise and liberal management to adopt a policy which the general interests demand and the present position of affairs invites." 1
The answer to Austria was not dispatched till the beginning of November in the form of a letter from Münster to Hardenberg and a personal letter from the Prince Regent to the Emperor. It emphasised the firmness of Russia, of which there were now unequivocal proofs, and urged Austria to continue her policy of inactivity. If Austria helped Bonaparte to subdue Russia she would only destroy herself; if she remained neutral the issue was certain: "Remote from all his resources, and now for the first time engaged in two wars, in neither of which plunder can, as in former campaigns, be made to replenish his Treasury, Buonaparte cannot long find the means of continuing the exertion. He has failed in Spain. He must fail in Russia, whose powers of resistance are
1 Münster to Cooke, July 5. Sept. 11, 1812; "Hardenberg to Münster, Aug. 6, 1812": F.O. Hanover, 4. "To Cathcart, Sept. 4, 1812": F.O. Russia, 78.
infinitely superior, if Austria is true to herself and to the nations in Europe that desire to be free." In an autograph letter the Prince Regent told the Emperor that the deliverance of Europe from oppression depended on his actions. Before this appeal was dispatched Nugent had arrived in London. He had been long in travelling by the Mediterranean route, and knew nothing of Metternich's recent thoughts. He was, of course, warmly received, and had several interviews with the Prince Regent, who reiterated his desire that Austria should not reinforce her auxiliary corps, but take advantage of Napoleon's defeat when it came, as come it must soon. 1
No hint of the possibility of peace with Napoleon was allowed to appear in these communications. But it was of peace that Metternich was constantly thinking, and in the early days of October he told the Prussian Chancellor that he intended soon to make a secret move in that direction. He became more and more anxious as the French offensive developed. King, who had two interviews with him at the beginning of November, was inaccurate in thinking that "CountMetternich has thrown himself entirely into the arms of France." But it was true that the capture of Moscow had thrown him into something like a panic, which the announcement that a French retreat was contemplated did nothing to remove. He dreaded more than ever that peace would be made between France and Russia in such a manner as to leave Austria exposed to the enmity of both Powers. He did not conceal, according to King, his hatred and distrust of Russia and his most anxious wish for a general peace. This need for peace was the burden of a more formal communication which Hardenberg sent to Münster on November 9. It expatiated on the resources of France and the security of her position in Germany even if not successful in the north, and pleaded earnestly for peace negotiations. Austria had already sounded Napoleon, had made recommendations to Prussia and intended to do so to Russia. Would Britain assist her in the good work?
1 Memorandum of Instructions for Count Münster; Münster to Hardenberg, Oct. 31, 1812; Prince Regent to the Emperor of Austria, Oct. 31, 1812; "Münater to Metternich. Oct. 31, 1812": F.O. Hanover, 4; "Nugent to Metternich, Oct. 15, 29, Nov. 3, 1812": Vienna St. A.
This appeal, which did not reach England until after the first news of Napoleon's disaster, had a profound effect on the British attitude towards Austria not only in the immediate future but throughout the years of reconstruction. Some of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, never quite forgave Metternich for his attitude at this critical period. Castlereagh was, perhaps, the least affected and more ready to make allowances for Austria's position than any of his colleagues, but his comments to Cathcart on the offer were severe enough: "It is impossible, however, not to trace throughout the whole a language and spirit of submission which, it is feared, the late animating events may not have sufficient influence to overcome. If we are to implicitly believe Count Metternich's declarations, there is no extent of disaster which can befall the French armies beyond the Vistula which would in his conception justify in prudence a change of system on the part of Austria. He represents France as capable of creating and bringing forward another army, were that in the north destroyed, which, united to the troops of the Confederation of the Rhine, would enable her still to hold Germany in subjection against Russia, Austria, and Prussia united. If such is really his opinion, there is no extent of submission to the will of France, whether in peace or war, to which that Minister must not be prepared to counsel his master."
This pessimism, which he thought purposely exaggerated, Castlereagh then proceeded to combat with an elaborate calculation of the forces that might be expected to be raised by either side, which gave the Allies a superiority of over 200,000 men, if Austria and Prussia joined the coalition against France. He recommended Russia to do all that was possible to win Austria to her side, hinting that she might even consider giving up Bessarabia. Meanwhile Britain would remain staunch to Russia and Sweden, and notify Austria that no action would be taken without consultation with them. Indeed, it was doubtful if Austria was entitled even to a reply, "bringing forward as she has done a proposition altogether vague to Great Britain, which she has not even ventured to do more than insinuate to the French Minister, Maret, as a rêve politique of Count Metternich's own, on which Maret's opinion is desired as to the expediency of opening it to Bonaparte. Connected as Austria is with France, it would be difficult for her under any circumstances to assume the character of a mediator, but to present herself in that character holding, as her Minister does, the language of submission under every imaginable circumstance to France, renders an overture from her, in the present temper of her councils, little indistinguishable from one from the enemy, with the additional inconvenience that the enemy may, at his option, disavow it." 1
The weakness of Austria was all the more distressing since it was likely to prevent Prussia from taking advantage of Napoleon's disaster. Indeed, the Prussian Chancellor had, at Metternich's request, sent a letter to Gneisenau supporting the Austrian proposition. He confessed to Ompteda that if he could himself make the decision, it would be a very different one. "Such a course," he said, "could only be taken by a sovereign who has enough character, spirit, and energy to take the risks of a fairly hazardous step." Meanwhile Prussia had to shew extreme caution, and, as has been noted, he hoped Gneisenau's expedition would leave her alone.
The effect of Austria's weakness, therefore, appeared to paralyse the movement of resistance just at the moment when deliverance seemed at hand. It dashed the hopes of the Cabinet for the recovery of Germany. "I wish we could see any prospect of a wiser policy being adopted by Austria and Prussia, and particularly by the former," Liverpool wrote to Wellington, "for I have no doubt the latter would act if she could rely upon the support of Austria. If these two Powers would really take advantage of the Russian successes, we might have hopes of effecting the deliverance of the Continent; but nothing can be more abject than the councils of Vienna at this time, and I fear that neutrality is all that can be
1 From King, Nov. 5, 7, 1812: F.O. Austria, 99. "Count Hardenberg to Münster, Nov. 9, 1812": F.O. Hanover, 4. "To Cathcart, Dec. 15, 1812": F.O. Russia, 78. "Memorandum of Cooke [Dec. 15], 1812": C.C. viii. 276. (Placed by the editor in November, but obviously a little later.) See also Metternich's remarkable letter to Baron Hardenberg of Oct. 5, 1812, in which he sketches his peace plans: Oncken, Oesterreich und Preussen im Befreiungskriege, i. 378.
expected from them." Still the situation was such that there was hope of a change. "We are doing our best, however, to rouse them"; he added, "and the wise and magnanimous conduct which the Emperor of Russia has adopted towards them ought not to be wholly without effect." 1
The Tsar had, indeed, shewed resolution and wisdom. It is true that Rumantzov still remained, but he was daily losing influence. Alexander meanwhile had encouraged Cathcart on the question of Austria, though he distrusted Metternich a great deal more than his master. In order to take advantage of this situation, Cathcart, who had failed to get in touch with Hardenberg and King, accepted the "gallant offer" of Lord Walpole to go to Vienna. He sent him off with instructions to win Austria over if possible, if not to ensure her benevolent neutrality towards Russia, and also stir up the Tyrolese and Swiss. For this purpose Walpole was authorised to spend the £500,000 which Cathcart still had untouched. He was also to offer Cathcart as a channel to the Tsar, if Metternich wished to avoid dealings with his enemy, Rumantzov. 2
Lord Walpole was perhaps more 'gallant' than diplomatic, but he carried out his difficult mission with great energy. Metternich was dismayed at his appearance, which threatened to force confidences at a moment when he was most anxious to avoid them. He had recovered some spirit, now that he realised the extent of Napoleon's defeat, and was secretly engaged in pourparlers not only with Prussia but also with Count Stackelberg, the Russian Ambassador, who had remained behind in Austria. But he was still determined to keep out of trouble and, above all, to save Austria from invasion by either side. He consented to talk to Walpole, but his talk was all of peace and he said his master was indignant at the idea that he would break his treaty with France and join the enemies of his son-in-law. Of Russia he was obviously jealous and afraid. Walpole explained this attitude by the Russian diplomacy of 1811-12 which had caused so deep a division between the two Courts. Napoleon's
1 Liverpool to Wellington, Dec. 22, 1812: W.S.D. vii. 503.
2 From Cathcart, Sept. 30, Nov. 20 (enclosing Instructions to Lord Walpole, Oct. 31), 1812: F.O. Russia, 79. Lehmann claims that Stein was responsible for Walpole's mission ( Stein, iii. 194).
message from Dresden that he was raising a new army had also helped to draw Austria back to the French side. Hence Metternich's great desire for a general negotiation: "Count Metternich hopes to escape by that means from his present dilemma. So great is his fear that a continuation of the war will eventually overthrow his system and engage Austria in hostilities, that to avoid it he would willingly abandon all view of aggrandizement, but he will also be induced by the same motives to press forward a peace not of restitution from France or independence for Germany, but on the status quo ante this Russian war, if such can be made."
This was not altogether true, for Metternich did not of course give Walpole his full confidence. He was trying to prepare for different eventualities which he could not accurately gauge. He had sent Bubna to Napoleon to talk peace and professed to be satisfied with the result. He was preparing now to talk to Russia and Britain, where, he had assured Maret, only Austria's great influence on public opinion could produce any effect. But at any rate he was not going to entrust his policy to a subordinate English diplomat who represented neither London nor Petersburg with any real authority. Indeed, Walpole had to leave Vienna for a country town outside it; for the English newspapers had mentioned his arrival and Metternich feared Napoleon's wrath. He, however, still promised to see him, and Walpole by the middle of January thought he detected a change for the better, and held out hopes that Austria would become neutral, though this attitude would only be made possible if a negotiation for peace were opened. Metternich's dislike and jealousy of Russia were still in evidence, but he told Walpole that he would gladly confide in a British envoy accredited from London. A few days later, however, Metternich gave him his congé. Walpole's presence was known to all the diplomatic corps and therefore he must go. When he went to say goodbye to Metternich he found him in no mood for talk. "His temper seemed extremely ruffled by some news he had received; he in general appears incapable of any emotion, but he really seemed to be greatly agitated with something which has happened. . . . The capitulation of the Prussian contingent has caused him the greatest uneasiness; he spoke of it as a kind of revolution." 1
The famous convention of Tauroggen, by which Yorck on January 1 made terms with the Russians and declared against Napoleon, was at any rate a revolution in the diplomatic situation. Metternich was rendered all the more uncertain as to his course of action. He dreaded a German uprising against their rulers as well as against Napoleon. He tried to draw closer to Prussia and Russia, sending Lebzeltern, one of his most skilled subordinates, to meet the Tsar at Vilna. "His conduct," Walpole warned Cathcart, "should be narrowly watched. If it is not his object to conclude a separate peace, there is no doubt but that he is sent with a view to bring about an instantaneous pacification."
This was true enough, as Metternich's correspondence with Lebzeltern shews. The Austrian Chancellor had, indeed, now determined on formal offers of his services to all the belligerents with a view to forcing them to make peace. The situation in Germany, the advance of Russia in Poland, Napoleon's efforts to collect another army, all seemed to him to bring danger to Austria. Britain, the relentless enemy, ready to supply arms and money to all combatants on her side seemed especially to stand in his way. He determined therefore to send Wessenberg, one of the most competent and trusted administrators in Austria, to London to enforce his views there. 2
Thus at the end of the first two months of the year 1813 the situation from Castlereagh's point of view was full of hazard and uncertainty. The war with the United States remained as an irksome and indefinite charge on British energies at this moment of supreme crisis in Europe. Wellington had been forced to retire to Portugal with serious loss of men and prestige, and the Opposition in the autumn debates had taken full advantage of the unexpected disap-
1 Walpole to Cathcart, Dec. 19, 22, 28, 1812; Jan. 3, 12, 13, 18, 1813: F.O. Russia, 84.
"Metternich to Floret, Dec. 9, 1812": Oncken, Oesterreich und Preussen im Befreiungskriege, i. 384.
"Metternich to Stackelberg, Jan. 10, 15, 1813": Lettres et papiers du Nesseirode, iv. 3, 8. From King, Dec. 31, 1812; Jan. 9, 15, 23, 25, 1813: F.O. Austria, 99.
2 "Walpole to Cathcart, Jan. 19, 1813": F.O. Russia, 84.
pointment. Bernadotte could only be won by a large subsidy and an engagement about Norway, which was very distasteful and must meet with much criticism in Parliament. The attitude of Prussia was vacillating and uncertain, while Austria seemed about to play the part in 1813 which Prussia had played in 1805. The elements of a great coalition were there as a result of Napoleon's disaster, the magnitude of which every report tended to increase. But would the jealousies of the three Great Powers prevent it from being formed?
Fortunately every report shewed that the Tsar was standing firm. He had left Rumantzov behind in Petersburg and taken the young and ambitious Nesselrode with him to headquarters. At home public opinion was, on the whole, steadfast and expectant. Above all, Castlereagh had done well as Leader of the House of Commons and won the confidence of the Prime Minister, who told Wellington: "We have gone through our short session in the most satisfactory manner. Lord Castlereagh has done admirably and has raised himself very considerably in the eyes of the House of Commons." 1
1 Liverpool to Wellington, Dec. 22, 1812: W.S.D. vii. 502.
THE LAST COALITION: RECONSTRUCTION MADE POSSIBLE, 1813
1. THE SUBSIDY TREATIES WITH SWEDEN, PRUSSIA, AND RUSSIA.
2. THE ARMISTICE AND AUSTRIA.
3. FIRST ATTEMPT AT AN ALLIANCE.
4. THE FRANKFORT PROPOSALS.
"War had hitherto been the conflict of Government against Government: it had changed its character: it was now for the first time the war of the people."--LORDLIVERPOOL ( October 4, 1813).
I. THE SUBSIDY TREATIES WITH SWEDEN, RUSSIA, AND PRUSSIA
DURING 1812 Britain had made peace with Sweden and Russia and sent out some arms and money to the Baltic, but no contracts had been entered into for the future. Experience had made her cautious of such commitments. But the time had now come when she must adopt an attitude towards the northern Powers, if the movement of resistance were not to be checked.
The first to receive a definite contract was Sweden, and so anxious was Castlereagh to raise the north of Germany, where Prussia still lay apparently supine, that he was ready to grant very generous terms. Münster also was enthusiastic over the prospect of Bernadotte's appearance on the Continent and insisted that the King of Denmark hated England. When, therefore, the Danish Minister at Petersburg sounded Cathcart for an accommodation, Castlereagh's answer was quite definite that he would stand by Russia and Sweden, however much he regretted Bernadotte's insistence on Norway. He wished, however, to get as much value as possible out of Bernadotte for the common cause, and General Hope was sent out to assist in the negotiations and report on the military situation, a task for which Thornton, who had been putting forward some very wild ideas, was not very competent. Bernadotte's Swedes were to be reinforced by the Germans whom Gneisenau, it was hoped, would rally to his standard. The result would be a northern force of considerable dimensions which would strike at Napoleon's flank while Russia attacked his front, and summon all Germany to arms. For this purpose money was freely given and, though with reluctance, the promise of Norway, without, of course, a guarantee of its permanent possession. In return it was stipulated that Bernadotte should abandon immediate attack on Denmark, sail for Pomerania and the Hanse Towns, and advance into Holstein, which would bring him to the frontiers of Hanover.
Thornton was alarmed when he heard of this plan, but Bernadotte was encouraged to accept it by Yorck's rising. It was obvious that Prussia, with whom he had secret negotiations, was undergoing a change of heart, and if she went over she would be a competitor for British gold as well as an ally. The result was that a treaty of subsidy and alliance was signed at Stockholm on March 3, 1813, by which Britain agreed to co-operate with her naval forces in the reduction of Norway, if Denmark refused to give way, and ceded Guadeloupe with due provision for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. A secret clause by which Bernadotte attempted to safeguard his-position, if Russia was unable for any reason to carry out her obligations, was refused by Castlereagh as shewing "distrust of the permanency of the Triple Alliance" and likely to "give umbrage to Russia." At the same time Bernadotte, encouraged by a subsidy of one million pounds and the promise of a German legion under his command, agreed to transport 30,000 troops to the Continent. He was given a free hand, and it was notable that no mention of Hanover's interests was made in the treaty. Since the German levies were expected to cost a million pounds more, the treaty set a scale which could not be maintained throughout the year. But at the time the instructions were sent, the defection of Prussia and all north Germany had not taken place, and was not immediately anticipated unless action was taken. It seemed vital, therefore, to encourage Russia to advance and to attack the tottering structure of the French Empire before Napoleon could recover and support it with new armies. It was hoped also that the opening of the north to British trade would enable the subsidy to be more easily paid, Sweden agreeing to regularise the use of Gothenburg and Stralsund as bases for British commerce in the Baltic. 1
The treaty with Sweden had hardly been signed when news came of a complete change in the German situation. The advance of the Russian troops had produced the agreement with Yorck which had so startled Metternich. His defection shook the counsellors of the King of Prussia and made an immense impression on the German people. As the Russian armies advanced, and Alexander shewed no signs of weakness or hesitancy, Hardenberg and others began to consider seriously going over to his side. The King was induced to go to Breslau to obtain some freedom of action. Even Metternich's advice was not against such a step, for he preferred the Prussian monarchy to lead the revolt rather than that a popular rising should take place uncontrolled. Moreover, as soon as he heard of Yorck's action, the Prussian Chancellor resumed confidential relations with Ompteda and encouraged him to hope the King could be won over, until at last, on February 19, he made a definite overture and begged that Britain would excuse the recent conduct of his master, which had been dictated by imperious necessity. Negotiations with Russia had so far advanced, he said, that the change of sides would soon take place and British help would be asked in munitions and money, especially the latter, for which Prussia's need was desperate.
The negotiations between Russia and Prussia had gone slowly. Each side wished to commit the other as far as possible. Prussia demanded not only a guarantee of her reconstruction to a position equivalent to that she held before her last war with France, but also assurances as to her lost Polish provinces. Russia was ready to agree to the first point
1 "To Cathcart, Dec. 20, 1812": F.O. Russia, 78. "Memorandum of Münster, Dec. 6, 1812": F.O. Hanover, 4. "To Thornton, Jan. 16. March 26, 1813": F.O. Sweden, 80. "From Thornton, Jan. 8, 19, Feb. 14, 1813": F.O. Sweden, 81; "Feb. 3, 18 (to Cooke), 1813": C.C. viii. 316, 325. "From General Hope, Feb. 14, 1813": F.O. Sweden, 79. For the supposed strategic situation see the interesting memorandum of "Colonel Bunbury of Dec. 31, 1812": W.S.D. viii. 457 (where wrongly dated). Thornton agreed to cede Guadeloupe to the Swedish House as a personal possession and also advocated a wild plan of Bernadotte for the abolition of privateering in the Baltic, for both of which actions he was snubbed by Castlereagh. ( "To Thornton, March 3, 1813": F.O. Sweden, 80.)
but adamant on the second. Czartoryski and other Poles had come to headquarters, and the Tsar was already considering their plans of uniting Poland under his own rule. Lebzeltern had arrived meanwhile from Metternich and was urging a general peace negotiation under the intervention of Austria, who, however, withdrew her forces on the Russian flank and shewed herself determined not to engage in hostilities.
The times were too critical to settle the question of Poland, and on February 27, at Kalisch, a treaty of alliance against France was signed between Russia and Prussia, by which the former engaged to keep 150,000 men in the field and the latter 80,000, while in secret articles Russia promised that Prussia should be made as strong as before the war of 1806. No mention was made of Russian claims on Poland, except by implication, for while Prussia was promised that East Prussia should be united to Silesia by a strip of territory, it was also laid down that she was to seek compensation for lost territory in the north of Germany. Presumably, therefore, the duchy of Warsaw was meant for Russia. Meanwhile the British Ambassador had stayed at Petersburg, talking vainly of commerce to Rumantzov, who had been left without instructions or influence, though he now professed a change of heart. Cathcart only reached headquarters at the beginning of March, where he was able, at Castlereagh's orders, to encourage the Tsar to resist Austria's suggestions for peace negotiations by an assurance that Britain, to whom it was known Wessenberg had been sent, would do nothing without the fullest communication with her Allies, whom she was prepared to assist in every way. 1
Meanwhile Metternich's peace messengers, who were all ordered to use the word 'intervention' rather than 'mediation' as the part their master wished to play, were all receiving rather rough handling. The Tsar shewed dislike of Lebzeltern, and Napoleon shewed no signs of wanting peace. Indeed, his first reception of the idea was so discouraging that Metternich drew back, but after Napoleon disavowed Maret's public speech, Wessenberg was sent to London on
1 "Ompteda to Münster, Jan. 7, 10, 31, 1813": F.O. Hanover, 6; Feb. 19, 1813: Ompteda, Nachlass, iii. 16. "From Cathcart, Jan. 29, Feb. 6, March 6, 26, 1813": F.O. Russia, 84.
February 8. Metternich was further agitated by the discovery that the Archduke John and others had been receiving money from King to start a revolution in the Tyrol for reunion with Austria. The British agent, who had quarrelled with both Cathcart and Hardenberg, had no one to defend him when he was ordered to leave Austria. 1
This contretemps was not likely to have much effect on relations with Britain, but Wessenberg found a new situation when he at last reached London. Misfortune had pursued the unhappy envoy from the first. He was stopped at Hamburg as an Englishman and detained in Sweden as a Danish spy. He was further delayed by bad weather in the North Sea for over a fortnight and did not reach his destination until March 29. There he met with the coldest of welcomes. Napoleon, to whom Metternich had also sent an Austrian envoy, had anticipated the 'intervention' by a rousing speech in which he declared that the integrity of the French Empire must be maintained. In any case, the accession of Prussia to the Allied side had made Britain less anxious for peace than ever. All her energies were devoted to supporting the new coalition, which it was hoped would drive Napoleon out of Germany. The English newspapers had got wind of Wessenberg's mission, in spite of his elaborate incognito, and greeted him with a chorus of abuse. Castlereagh, who explained that an Austrian envoy could only be received informally, gave him no encouragement, though, like Münster, he treated him with great politeness. But the Kalisch treaty, he said, had changed the whole situation on the Continent, and Wessenberg's instructions were already out of date. The Prince Regent, who received him privately, was also as polite as could be, but the interview developed into an excellent royal lecture "made with great heat and remarkable eloquence," much of which Wessenberg reported
1 "To Cathcart, April 9, 1813": C.C. viii. 358. "From King, Feb. 19, 27, March 1, 6, 8, 16, 1813": F.O. Austria, 99. King, who had been pluming himself that he was to receive letters of credence from Castlereagh, had annoyed Cathcart by his strictures on Walpole's mission, and Count Hardenberg by his jealousy and concealment of the Tyrol plot. Metternich did not scruple to stop his messenger and prevent his dispatches from reaching Kalisch. Even Gentz, who had received so much money from him, found it difficult to defend him. ( Lettres et Papiers de Nesselrode, i. 52.)
verbatim, on the iniquities of Napoleon and the necessity of Austria assuming once more her old position as a Great Power, one of the most cherished wishes of the Regent's heart. Both the Prince and Castlereagh insisted that Napoleon's words had shewn that no peace was possible, and this was the keynote of the answer, which was sent to Metternich on April 9, formally refusing Austria's good offices. The Emperor, it was hinted, had no right to make them "under his existing relations to the enemy," and an appeal was made to him to answer the present call and come forward as " he ancient and natural Protector of the Germanic Body." 1
Poor Wessenberg, who had not anticipated such treatment, was much dismayed, and the new instructions which reached him on April 14 to ask Britain for subsidies to assist Austria to advance from 'intervention' to 'armed mediation' did not help him much. Count Hardenberg had encouraged the British Government to believe that something more than this would be offered. There was no chance, Castlereagh told Wessenberg politely enough, of money being given for such an object. All they had was needed for arming Germany. Münster nastily added that Parliament still remembered that Austria owed large sums to England for previous campaigns. The envoy found himself, indeed, in a most unenviable position. The Prince Regent and Münster circulated Hardenberg's private gossip. The Press became more and more violent against Austria, especially after Metternich had sent Schwarzenberg to Paris for further discussions. Wessenberg was excluded from Court and Society, and of the Government only Castlereagh treated him with any attention or courtesy. In this painful situation, without sufficient money to live decently in a terribly expensive capital, he pleaded for recall, information, and instruction--in vain, until the issue of peace and war had been settled on the Continent. 2
This mission was, however, only a minor interlude. Castlereagh had now to rivet the Russian-Prussian alliance by
1 Wessenberg to Metternich, April 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 13, 16, 1813; "Castlereagh to Metternich, April 9, 1813": Vienna St. A. Arneth, Wessenberg, i. 158-61.
2 "Wessenberg to Metternich, April 13, 16, 20, 1813": Vienna St. A. "Metternich to Wessenberg, March 10, 1813": Arneth, Wessenberg, i. 162.
assistance in arms and money. He was also well aware that the weapons forging for the overthrow of Napoleon would also reshape the Continent in the process. However he tried to keep his hands free, each Power of the coalition would seek its own special purposes in the treaties which must be made. Castlereagh had already pledged himself to Norway. What other obligations would he have to take before the struggle was over and the victors met to discuss peace terms?
That he did not shrink from the responsibility is shewn in the remarkable letter which he sent to Cathcart with the instructions for the new treaties. Now that Europe was to be reshaped, he turned back to his master, Pitt, for guidance and inspiration.
"The political arrangement of Europe in a larger sense," he wrote on April 8, "is more difficult at this early moment to decide on. So much depends on events, that it is perhaps better not to be too prompt in encountering litigated questions. The main features we are agreed upon--that, to keep France in order, we require great masses--that Prussia, Austria, and Russia ought to be as great and powerful as they have ever been--and that the inferior States must be summoned to assist, or pay the forfeit of resistance. I see many inconveniences in premature conclusions, but we ought not to be unprepared.
"As an outline to reason from, I send you, as a private communication, a despatch on which the confederacy in 1805 was founded; the Emperor of Russia probably has not this interesting document at headquarters: (interesting it is to my recollection, as I well remember having more than one conversation with Mr. Pitt on its details, before he wrote it) some of the suggestions may now be inapplicable, but it is so masterly an outline for the restoration of Europe, that I should be glad your lordship would reduce it into distinct propositions, and learn the bearings of his Imperial Majesty's mind upon its contents. An unofficial communication of this nature between two Powers that have no partialities to indulge may prepare them the better to fulfil their duties at a future moment." 1
1 To Cathcart, April 8, 1813: C.C. viii. 356.
This confidence shews how far his mind was already travelling; for, as has been seen, the dispatch of 1805 was no less than an outline of a new Europe with a special guarantee of its maintenance. But the immediate object was much less in extent, and the new instructions only traverse a very small portion of this ground. They were addressed not only to Cathcart, but also to the new Ambassador to Prussia--Sir Charles Stewart, whose experience and character, it must be confessed, were hardly such as to qualify him for such a position had they not been weighed by a brother's affection. Sir Charles had, it is true, a gallant and distinguished military career behind him, and was anxious to continue it in the Peninsula. But Wellington, despite his liking for him personally, his regard for Castlereagh, and the wishes of the Duke of York, refused to give the cavalry command, which had been Sir Charles' ambition, to a man who was too shortsighted (owing to a wound), too deaf, and, above all, not possessed of those qualities of discretion and foresight which were necessary. Sir Charles had, therefore, reluctantly to choose another avenue for fame, and the post which he was now given was at least partly military, for, like Cathcart in Russia, he was to act as chief intelligence officer to the Prussian and Swedish armies as well as Ambassador to the Prussian Court. Castlereagh, knowing his brother's impetuous character, had intended at one time that he should be subordinate to Cathcart, but Sir Charles claimed and obtained an independent position, though, of course, Cathcart was his senior in appointment, rank, and very considerably in age.
The new envoy at any rate possessed abounding energy and a soldierly bonhomie which were to carry him through some pretty difficult times. He loved display as much as fighting, was as vain as he was brave, as rash and impetuous as he was ready to take responsibility at a critical time. He was to be of real use as a soldier. As a diplomatist it was scarcely fair to expect much. Indeed, even Stewart's confidence in himself was temporarily dashed at the thought of the unaccustomed responsibilities he had now to assume. "I hope, my dear friend," he wrote to Cooke, "you will give me your advice freely on everything relating to my concerns, for I feel devilish nervous about it all." 1
If Stewart rarely shewed such modesty, George Jackson, his Secretary of Embassy, never had any doubts of his own ability, but though this young man had been carefully coached by his more famous elder brother Francis, whom he had accompanied on his mission to Prussia in 1806-1807, he was too young to exercise much influence on events. Sir Robert Wilson was, of course, still there high in favour with the Russians, especially Platov, the famous Cossack, but on even worse terms than ever with Cathcart, who was rightly suspicious that he was too ready to push political questions in direct opposition to his chief's wishes. The fact that he immediately tried to transfer to Stewart's staff did not predispose the latter in his favour. 2
Stewart took with him instructions for both envoys to negotiate subsidy treaties with their respective Courts, though Cathcart was given a kind of supervision over the whole. The demands of Sweden and the new German legion had reduced the amount of money available to two million pounds, of which it was suggested that Russia should have two-thirds, since by the Kalisch treaty she was to supply twice as many troops as Prussia. As Lieven had thought himself moderate in asking for four millions, and Jacobi, the new Prussian Minister, who hoped to negotiate the treaty in London, had been ordered to press for very large sums, this was not likely to satisfy the expectations of their Allies. But, as Castlereagh pointed out, heavy obligations had already been accepted before the situation changed: "It was not possible to calculate upon the career of Russian successes enabling them to march in the depth of winter without a halt from the banks of the Moskva to the shores of the German Ocean; that the barrier of the Oder would be passed; that Prussia
1 Wellington to the Duke of York, June 25, 1811: W.S.D. vii. 165. Bath Archives, ii. 20-28. "Stewart to Cooke, April 20, 1813": Lond. MSS.
2 The two had, however, some things in common and became good friends. They were both brave to a fault and enjoyed the zest of life. Ompteda records with amazement that, after a diplomatic meeting of the two with himself and a colleague, which, it is true, ended in a good dinner, the two Germans were put inside a rather small coach while Sir Charles and Sir Robert, each in the full regimentals of a British general, rode the one on the box and the other on the roof of their vehicle.
would so soon be incorporated in exertion and alliance against France; and that so wide a field for British commerce and enterprise should be thus suddenly opened throughout the north of Europe."
As a means of making up the deficiency he agreed to negotiate what some people called a "deferred subsidy," a treaty of financial assistance through the issue of paper money by Prussia and Russia, of a large part of which Britain should guarantee the repayment when the war was over. This elaborate design, invented by Stein, had been brought to London by Lieven and accepted with some misgivings by the Government. It was discussed throughout the year, but as it was never practicable to put it into operation, it served rather as a psychological than a financial inducement to the Allies. 1
Of territorial objects Castlereagh was ready to give the same guarantee as Russia had done, viz. to restore her to a position equivalent to 1806. No Hanoverian claims were allowed to stand in the way. Münster, it is true, was already alarmed at Stein's influence with the Tsar, which reached its high-water mark in March and resulted in the Convention of Breslau. By this instrument the German states, as they were recovered from the enemy, were to be placed under a council which Stein was to control, and their revenues were to be used for the prosecution of the war. Hanoverian interests were only partially safeguarded, and the measure obviously hinted at a new organisation of Germany such as Stein had adumbrated in 1812. He made, indeed, no secret of his designs, which soon earned him the soubriquet of the "Emperor of Germany." Münster naturally wished that Hanoverian interests should be protected, and in two memoranda at the close of March urged his claims on the British Government. These were, however, modest enough. The only territorial increases which he demanded were the
1 To Cathcart, April 9, 1813; "Instructions to Jacobi, March 26, 1813": Oncken, Oesterreich und Preusse, ii688, 615. Report of Lieven, April 6, 1813: F. Martens, Recueil, xi. 167. Jacobi was much hurt to find the negotiation transferred to the Continent, a course which Wessenberg attributed to Castlereagh's desire that his brother should obtain a diamond snuff-box. But Jacobi did not arrive till May 10.
small Prussian territories of Minden, Ravelsberg, and Hilde. sheim, enclavé in Hanover and already incorporated by Napoleon.
This moderation shews that the so-called Austrasian project of an enlarged Hanover was never seriously intended, and was only made because of the apparent hopelessness of Prussian revival. But Münster was naturally alarmed at Stein's proposals, which seemed to threaten Hanoverian independence altogether. The smaller Princes, he asserted, might perhaps give up the right of separate armies and foreign relations, but the greater German Powers must retain full sovereignty. He hinted that this might keep the Hanseatic towns in Hanover's system rather than Prussia's --thus preserving for Britain easy entrance into Germany. To Stein's new plans, so far as he understood them, the Princes, he claimed, would never submit.
This memoir raised the terribly difficult question of the internal reorganisation of Germany which Castlereagh was anxious to avoid, though he was always desirous of as strong and compact a Germany as possible. He refused to be the agent of Münster's alarms. All that he would do at the moment was to demand representation for both Hanover and Britain on Stein's German council. It was Metternich and neither Münster nor Castlereagh who was to defeat, in the course of the year, Stein's plan of a centralised Germany. 1
While these discussions were completing in London, aid was already overdue. The military situation had changed with startling rapidity. The defection of Prussia had enabled Russian troops to cross not only the Oder but the Elbe, with the result that Hamburg escaped from French clutches-an immense satisfaction to Britain, which thus had at last a convenient port of entry into Germany. Saxony had been overrun, and its King, the most loyal of Napoleon's allies, had sought refuge in Austria, whose neutral position he had supported in a special treaty. Russian and Prussian troops, however, occupied Dresden, and Stein began there his career
1 Memorandum of Müunster, March 30, 1813; "From Münster, March 31, 1813": F.O. Hanover, 6. Münster's observations on the Treaty of Breslau: Ompteda, Nachlass, iii. 75. "To Cathcart, April 9, 1813": B.D. 2. "To Stewart, April 20, 1813": C.C., ix. 6.
as administrator of liberated provinces with a zeal which rather defeated its object.
Napoleon was disconcerted at this rapid advance, for the new army, which he had been organising with magnificent energy, was not yet ready. But the chance which the Moscow campaign had offered had to some extent been lost by Prussia's delay. There was as yet no general rising in Germany. On the contrary, nearly all the Confederation of the Rhine remained loyal, and half Germany fought under Napoleon's banners in the war of liberation which was about to begin. The Emperor, himself startled at the rapid advance, set out for headquarters in April.
When, therefore, Stewart with his horses and aides-decamp landed in Hamburg on April 17, the two armies were converging towards one another in the Saxon plains. He hastened towards the scene of the combat, travelling day and night after he had arranged for a Hanoverian corps to join the Swedes, visited Berlin, and refused to help the Prussian Minister, Golz, who seemed to think that the best way of reducing the French fortresses was through bribery with British gold. He reached Dresden on April 25. It was hardly a convenient moment to negotiate a treaty, especially for Cathcart and Stewart, both burning with military ardour and anxious to take part in the fast approaching battle. Hardenberg and the King gave him a warm welcome and were very anxious to get their money and munitions. Cathcart received his instructions and thought there would be no difficulty about Hanoverian claims. He took advantage of his seniority to go off to the armies, and order Stewart to remain at Dresden and open negotiations. Sir Charles hated handling the pen instead of the sword, but he obeyed like a good soldier and soon discovered that there was great objection to the Hanoverian demands. Hardenberg absolutely refused Minden and Ravelsberg, which "contained, he said, the oldest and most faithful of His Majesty's subjects." Though Nesselrode had promised Cathcart support, Stein was behind Hardenberg and no progress could be made. At last the impatient Stewart could wait no longer, and left for the front only to arrive just too late to join in the battle of
Lützen (May 3), a disappointment for which he never quite forgave Cathcart. 1
This was bad enough; but Napoleon's victory, even though he had lost more men than the Allies, meant a hasty evacuation of Dresden. For a fortnight the retreat continued, headquarters were split up, and diplomacy was almost out of the question, even if the generals could have spared the time from their military duties. Instructions were being awaited from Castlereagh on the Hanoverian question, and the details of Federative Paper Money Sir Charles found so depressing that he threatened to send for a financial expert. Meanwhile Saxony had returned to Napoleon's obedience, and Austria, far less ready to desert him since Lutzen, was skilfully pressing her 'armed mediation' on the defeated allies. On May 18 they were beaten again at Bautzen and driven to retreat to Silesia, this time Sir Charles, as well as Cathcart and Sir Robert, having his full share of battle. He was, indeed, a master of the art of campaigning and fared better than Cathcart, whose freedom from worry, however, even at the suspicious conduct of Austria, he could not imitate. The threatened visit of the Duke of Cumberland was another anxiety. "The plot thickens," he wrote to Cooke from Wurschen two days after the battle, ". . . I do not think C. is in the secret. Military men are envisaged with a jealous eye, and if a good continental peace can be obtained our Allies would leave us to make our own . . . I suppose we shall have him [the Duke] here . . . but as Cathcart sleeps on straw and dines without a tablecloth and is to all intents and purposes the officer on picket and not the Ambassador at Court, I am apprehensive the fare afforded will be bad. I have not thought it necessary to be so warlike as my chief; consequently I am rather more sought. . . . There is a great deal of difficulty in getting on smoothly with C. He is at times so strangely important and so little communicative on perfect trifles." 2
1 "From Stewart, April 19, 23", C.C. viii. 360, 377; April 26, 27, 1813: F.O. Prussia, 87; May 5, 1813: Oncken, Oasterreich und Preusssen, ii. 694. "From Cathcart, April 27, 1813": F.O. Russia, 85. Bath Archives, ii. 77-87.
2 From Stewart and Cathcart, May 24, 1813: F.O. Prussia, 87. "From Stewart, May 18, 20, 31, 1813": C.C. ix. 11, 14, 21. "Stewart to Cooke, May 20, 1813": Lond. MSS.
Under these circumstances it is amazing that so much progress could be made with the negotiations before the allied headquarters had reached Reichenbach, especially as Stewart later complained: "LordC[athcart] takes two days to consider a dispatch, and two to write one, and he never begins to think till other people have done." Fortunately, Sir François d'Ivernois had arrived on his way to Switzerland via Petersburg and was able to take over the Federative Paper discussions. The demand of the Allies that the subsidy should be paid in gold values was peremptorily rejected. Hardenberg fought strenuously about Hanover and at one time withdrew his offer of Hildesheim. Stein, who had studied English history, was even more offensive, threatening to expose the delegates to Parliament and overthrow the Government if they persisted in their demands. Sir Charles answered that he had been sent neither by the nation nor by Parliament, but by the Prince Regent. But the British Government were by no means ready to risk their relations with Prussia for a few miles of territory. "You are not to press the object," Castlereagh ordered, "as a sine qua non. The claim is felt to be a reasonable one, but it must not be the obstacle to larger views." Münster was forced to consent, and asked for East Frisia as a substitute. But this had nothing to do with Prussia, and the British Government evaded an obligation which might, in the future, conflict with the aims of either Holland or Denmark.
Sir Charles, therefore, did not press matters. He perhaps did well enough to secure Hildesheim for his royal master. The possessions of the ducal house of Brunswick were also specially mentioned. "I hope I have pleased Carlton House on the Hanover points," wrote Stewart to Cooke, when it was all over, "without militating general interests." 1
These discussions prolonged the debate until the middle of June, when the treaties with Russia and Prussia were signed at Reichenbach. Britain agreed to the restoration of Prussia
1 From Cathcart, June 16, 1813: F.O. Russia, 85. "From Stewart, June 16, 1813": Oncken, Oesterreich und Preussen, ii. 698; June 19, 1813. C.C, ix. 28. Münster to Castlereagh, May 25, 1813; To Stewart, May 26, 1813; "Stewart to Cooke, June 19, 1813": Lond. MSS. Ompteda, Nachlass, iv. 121.
to the condition of 1806, being saved by Ompteda from being tricked by Hardenberg into accepting the year 1805, when Prussian territory was rather larger. In return, Prussia only promised Hildesheim to Hanover. Russia, for her part, was too proud or too wary to ask for territorial clauses. The question of Poland was not mentioned. For the rest, the treaties merely consisted of promises by Prussia to place 80,000 and by Russia 150,000 in the field, and by Britain to divide between them the two million pounds as Castlereagh had suggested. The Prussians were quite ready to raise 100,000 men, but as the Tsar could not guarantee more than 150,000 and insisted on two-thirds of the cash, the original numbers were left. The result was, of course, unfair to Prussia, who was bearing at least an equal share of the fighting, while the highly paid Bernadotte had as yet done nothing but complain. 1
The Crown Prince had, indeed, some reason to be dissatisfied. During the great advance of the Allies the Danes had been encouraged to negotiate by Russia, whose envoy Dolgourouki had, so it was afterwards asserted, far exceeded his instructions and suggested that they might retain Norway after all, if they joined the Allies. Bernadotte himself had a little earlier almost agreed to be content with Drontheim, the northern part of Norway, and compensations in Germany. But he had been inspired to action by Prussia's example, and by the end of April 11,000 Swedes had landed at Stralsund. He was loud in protest when the news of Dolgourouki's mission reached him, and demanded the Russian corps to which, by treaty, he had every right, though it was obviously more usefully employed against Napoleon's main army.
The Danes had also approached Britain and sent Count Bernstorff to London. But Castlereagh insisted that treaties made in adversity "must not be forgotten in the day of prosperity," and Bernstorff was sent home without an audience. Cathcart was warned that Russia must manage
1 For the treaties, see B.F.S.P. i. 58, 63. The vexed question of the Federative Paper Money was only settled in a separate convention signed at London on Sept. 30 ( F. Martens, Recueil, xi, 189). On the whole subject, see D. Karmin, "Autour des negociations financières Anglo-Prusso-Russes de 1813 "in Revue Historique de la Revolution et de l'Empire, xi. 177-97; xii. 24-49, 220-52.
the Crown Prince in order to get the best out of him, and General Hope was sent back to help Thornton get the Swedish forces into action.
The Tsar, meanwhile, sent to Stralsund Pozzo di Borgo, who had left his British exile to resume service at a spot where his hatred of Bonaparte could have more scope for action. But even his adroit diplomacy could not manage to conciliate the Crown Prince, who remained inactive organising his army while the great events were in progress in the south, causing, as Cooke explained, an "anxiety and impatience of the public mind" which boded ill for the ratification by Parliament of the onerous Swedish treaty. But it was in vain that he was urged to take part in the general campaign. He made plans for attacking Zealand and meanwhile was deaf to all diplomatic pressure, while the Danes finally went over to Napoleon, and Davoust reoccupied Hamburg, on which terrible punishment was inflicted. For this loss, his kindly attentions to the Duke of Cumberland, to whom the Tsar had refused hospitality, and the issue of a number of warlike bulletins were poor compensation. Nor was the offer, which he later made to Thornton, of handing over Zealand to Britain, taken as an adequate excuse for his conduct. 1
The coalition was, indeed, undergoing a severe strain and at moments seemed as if it would suffer the same fate as its predecessors. By their treaties, it is true, Russia and Prussia had promised not to make peace without Britain. But already, after two defeats, they had accepted an armistice without consulting her. The opportunity of Austria had, at last, arrived.
1 "To Cathcart, April 20, 28, 1813": C.C. viii. 376, 382. To General Hope, April 30, June 6, 17, 1813; "Cooke to Hope, May 26, 1813": F.O. Sweden, 79. "From Thornton, June 21, 1813": C.C. viii. 399.
2. THE ARMISTICE AND AUSTRIA
THE treaties had been long in making, and they were perhaps only just made in time. For before the signatures had been affixed an event had taken place which threw all the ideas of the British plenipotentiaries into confusion. On June 4 Russia and Prussia concluded an armistice of six weeks with Napoleon, and negotiations for a Congress to lay the basis of a peace had begun--a step due to the initiative of Metternich, who throughout the month of May had conducted, with the greatest skill, an energetic diplomatic offensive.
He had been much chagrined, as Count Hardenberg, who shared his own grief and surprise, reported, at the contemptuous refusal by Britain of the offer of mediation. He was even more afraid of Russia's advance since he had heard something of Alexander's Polish plans, and the dread that Russia and France would come to terms at his expense increased. He redoubled his efforts, urged military preparations to strengthen Austria's power of resistance in any event, and now came forward as a more imposing mediator to obtain at least a continental peace, even though Britain refused to accept the good offices of Napoleon's ally.
Two carefully chosen envoys were sent to either side. Bubna, a Francophil, who went to Napoleon, was instructed to confess that there was, in view of the British attitude, no hope of a general and maritime peace, which could only be obtained by her 'compensations' as well as by France's cessions. But England must be led into negotiations by the attitude of other Powers. She could only be forced to yield by the conclusion of a "continental peace," which would "leave her entirely isolated and abandoned to the efforts of France." He proposed, therefore, negotiation under Austrian auspices at Prague. An armistice could be arranged if necessary.
To Stadion, the leader of the war party, who was sent to the Allies, the same point was made, but in rather a different fashion. If France had conquered on land, so had England on the seas: "The domination of England on this element is not less monstrous than that of France on the continent. . . . The last direct news from England proves only too well how much the system of war without end seems to be still the policy of that Government. We have reached the conclusion, if we had not already possessed it, that a peace between France and England, and even a negotiation which might lead to a maritime peace, can only be brought about by a continental arrangement." If the Allies insisted on their obligations to Britain, Stadion was to reply that Austria wished to reduce the French power to its proper limits as well as bring about a peace, but was determined not to be hampered by maritime questions. He was, therefore, to press the Allies to state their views as to the future of the Continent --in a word, to say what they meant by peace. 1
Though Metternich always professed that Austria's policy was founded on principle and did not depend on the military situation, he instructed both envoys to adapt their arguments to the results of the impending battles. Lützen had already been fought, and the Saxons had joined the French army at Dresden while the Allies retired behind the Spree. But both the Prussians and Alexander were still possessed of high hopes, and, moreover, were anxious to conclude the subsidy treaties with Britain. They could not afford to ignore the Austrian pressure, but the terms which they first adumbrated at Wurschen (May 16) included Britain's special obligations in Spain, Sicily, and Hanover, and her interests in Holland, as well as their own intention of freeing Germany from French control. When Bautzen had been lost on May 20 the
1 Metternich to Stadion, May 11, 1813; Metternich to Bubna, May 11, 1813; Oncken, Oesterreich und Preussen, ii. 641-46. Fournier's comment is: "What idle words these must have seemed to Napoleon, who for years back had been striving with all his might to isolate her [ Britain] and yet had failed!" ( Napoleon, ii. 274). But Britain had been isolated before, and she was now at war with the United States. How could she resist peace if the Continent were determined to have it?
necessity of Austrian co-operation became much more urgent, and they were far more inclined to accept Metternich's plans for an armistice and a negotiation without making any previous stipulation as to its basis.
Meanwhile Napoleon had also made a response. He had, before Bautzen, agreed to a Congress, to which he even suggested the Spanish "insurgents" might be summoned, the first sign that he was prepared to consider yielding in Spain, and insinuated that the representatives of the United States, and consequently "maritime rights," should be included in the discussions, though this invitation was not to delay the negotiations. Meanwhile he made an effort to come to an agreement with Russia at the expense of the German Powers. But Alexander refused to receive his envoys and ostentatiously associated Stadion in the offer of a truce made in order that the Austrian mediation should be carried out. After Bautzen, therefore, Napoleon had to choose between delay and negotiation or the prosecution of his victories, since he had failed to divide his opponents. He made the decision almost entirely on military grounds. He thought delay would enable him to add more to his own resources than the Allies could to theirs, and so, after fierce controversy as to details, an armistice for six weeks was agreed upon, Napoleon allowing Silesia to remain neutral ground, but stipulating that if Hamburg had been recaptured he should hold it.
Metternich had thus obtained the opportunity for negotiation which he had sought for so long. If neither side had yielded much, an interval had been obtained during which discussion might proceed in a different atmosphere. It in no wise detracted from his satisfaction that Britain was not included in the truce and that Napoleon was left entirely free to act in Spain, if he thought fit.
From a British point of view the significant fact about these negotiations was that Cathcart and Stewart were told but little about them, and never consulted, until all had been settled. The subsidy treaties had already been initialled when the news came of the conclusion of the armistice, but the Tsar told Cathcart that he could refuse to sign if he wished. Cathcart, however, wisely preferred to conclude the treaty, which at least gave Britain by its terms some right to watch over the negotiations. He was but little disturbed at the manner in which the armistice had been arranged. But Stewart, though he sent a discreet official dispatch for publication, was highly indignant and suspicious. "I fear political treachery," he wrote in a private letter, "and the machinations that are in the wind more than any evils from Bonaparte's myrmidons. We must keep a sharp look out, especially since our refusal of Austrian mediation. We are not considered (from all I see going on) in the Cabinet." He was alarmed at the idea of negotiation for which he felt rightly he had himself little talent, and was indignant at Russia's domination over the Prussians, in whose good faith he had far more confidence than in that of the Tsar. Every day deepened his distrust, which, indeed, Hardenberg himself appeared to share: " Hardenberg dined here," he wrote excitedly on June 10 to Cathcart, "and I have had some information since, and I think it of the utmost importance that your Lordship should have distinctly from the Emperor what is passing. I do not believe Count Nesselrode is to be firmly relied on, but you certainly know best; however, I would give a great deal for your Lordship to see the Emperor under present circumstances before you see Nesselrode, or before he can state your conversation to H.I.M. From Hardenberg's conversation, Count Stadion only awaits a courier to enter into general negotiations, and they (the Allies) are to solicit your Lordship and myself to take a part in the consultations for a general peace; I told Hardenberg Great Britain had refused the Austrian mediation, that I could not answer for your Lordship's sentiments, but I did not see how we could be a party without instructions. He added, because England had refused some time since, there was no reason for her not taking a part under a new state of affairs. Hardenberg admitted Prussia had not a Sous--nothing in the shape of supplies can be obtained from Bohemia without money. Prussia is in the greatest state of uncertainty as to what may arrive and is evidently unsettled. You will not, I am sure, find Nesselrode yet ready to sign our treaty. The crisis requires the most explicit avowals of everything that passes. I will give you authority when we meet; it is from an individual whom you respect and who is not apt to see things en noir."
Cathcart, who accepted the Tsar's claim that the negotiation was necessary to draw Austria to the allied side, tried to soothe his colleague, and insinuated that Hardenberg's alarms were partly due to a desire to get his subsidies as quickly as possible.
"Your intelligence, my dear Sir Charles," he answered, "coincides in every thing with what I told you. Prussia has no separate view unless to obtain a present supply of money, which I also explained. I explained also the game that Austria will play to render perfect the consistency of her proceeding. She is treating and negotiating to obtain the general peace she has sighed for, but if her terms are considered inadmissible in the French Cabinet, then, alas! she finds herself under the necessity of making war with all her forces. She will exact on the part of the Allies that they will give their assistance to this Marche Politique. But you may rely upon it I shall use my best endeavours to know correctly every step in progress. You will assist me if you avoid giving any answers to my friend Hardenberg, otherwise than in a diplomatic way, that is, such as may not commit your opinion, because, depend upon it, Prussia will not act independently, and will be guided by Russia. But to get at opinions, I may think it right to keep back; the Russian Government may desire thro' Hardenberg to get at your opinions which they will guess must be the same with mine." 1
It had been arranged that there was to be no direct communication between Napoleon and the Allies. Everything was to go through Metternich, who thus kept the negotiations in his own hands. This was his stipulation and not the allied choice, but it was represented to the Ambassadors as an evidence that war was still the most probable result and the only method to obtain war with Austria on their side. They reported as such to their Courts, but Stewart was still in a state of great anxiety. He refused to allow Hardenberg any addition to the £100,000 already advanced. He had the greatest distrust of Austria, and her recent proceedings added
1 From "Stewart, June 6, 1813": C.C. ix. 22. From "Cathcart, June 6. 1813": F.O. Russia, 85. Stewart to Cathcart, June 10, 1813; Cathcart to Stewart, June 10, 1813: Lond. MSS.
to his suspicions. Nor had he, and perhaps with reason, much confidence in Cathcart's ability to cope with this delicate situation. He expatiated to Cooke in a very private letter on his colleague's dilatoriness, jealousy, and inability to controvert the returns which the Russians made of their numbers. "C[athcart] will be more of a Russian than an Englishman soon, he is so bigoted to his Emperor . . . you will not much mind what I write. However, this will not arrest my opinions; you cannot pay M[etternich] so high as he is paid elsewhere. His master is worse than him and nothing will come of it." 1
Stewart had some right to his suspicions, which were, however, not sufficient to keep him from going north to inspect Bernadotte's forces. Metternich with his Emperor had moved to Gitschin in order to get into close contact with Imperial headquarters at Reichenbach. Thence he ordered Stadion to extract from the Allies their terms of peace, excluding them, as has been seen, from all direct communication with Napoleon. He made also an explicit and emphatic condition that neither Sweden nor Britain were to be informed of the negotiations. They could join in the military discussions which Austria was also initiating in case of war on the allied side. But from all discussions as to terms both, and especially Britain, were to be rigorously excluded. The excuse was that it was vital that Napoleon should not learn what was going on, and that no account of these transactions should appear in the dispatches of Stewart and Cathcart, which might be laid before the British Parliament. But it cannot be doubted that Metternich wished also to exclude from the terms, which he was to offer Napoleon and upon which the issue of war and peace depended, all special British interests such as Spain. She had refused to allow him to act in maritime and colonial questions. She was to get her reward by being excluded from all influence on the
1 From "Stewart, June 16, 1813": B.D.66-71; June 26, 1813: Alison, Lives, i. 674. From "Cathcart, June 16, 1813": F.O. Russia, 85. "Stewart to Cooke. June 16, 1813": C.C. ix. 28, where it is wrongly addressed to Castlereagh, and the above sentences, presumably because of their bitterness, omitted: Lond. MSS. Sir Robert Wilson, who painted the military situation in the gloomiest colours, wrote to Grey on the 6th, "I have myself no doubt of a continental peace . . . a continental peace seems to be the first wish of Austria": Wilson MSS. 30109, f. 171.
continental basis which was to be offered to Napoleon. She would thus be forced to use her colonial conquests to obtain those points in which she was specially interested. 1
These negotiations went on apace and Metternich himself went to Reichenbach to complete them. There by June 24 he had concluded his bargain. Austria would support the Allies absolutely on four points: the dissolution of the duchy of Warsaw, the enlargement of Prussia, the restitution of Illyria to Austria, and the re-establishment of the Hanseatic towns or at least Hamburg and Lübeck. If Napoleon refused to concede these terms, she promised to make war on him. The dissolution of the Confederation of the Rhine, and the restoration of Prussia to a position equivalent to 1806, Austria also regarded as important, but Metternich would not make them conditions sine qua non. He had thus to offer Napoleon a peace based on four points, two of which had already been practically conceded. Undoubtedly, therefore, when Metternich set out for Dresden at Napoleon's invitation on June 24, leaving Stadion to sign the Treaty of Reichenbach on June 27, so that he might declare that he had no engagements, he had still considerable hopes of laying the basis for a peace between the continental Powers. He had terms of extreme moderation to offer, and he could face Napoleon with the alternative of having all Europe against him if he refused.
But in the celebrated interview at Dresden Metternich made less impression on Napoleon than he had anticipated. Though Napoleon's marshals hoped for peace, the Emperor was determined not to abandon his conquests. He still hoped to divide the Allies and make an arrangement with Russia at the expense of the German Powers. All that
1 There is in the Berlin archives a dispatch, dated June 12, 1813, to Jacobi "concertée avec M. Stadion et Nesselrode." which gives a full account of the reasons for the armistice, quotes Stadion, as asserting that a "continental" peace would necessarily lead also to a "maritime" peace, and suggests that the British Government should send a special plenipotentiary to take part in the negotiations. But this dispatch seems to have been withheld, doubtless at Metternich's wish. Humboldt's careful Projet d'instruction for the Prussian representatives at the Congress (June 15-18) endeavoured to prove that Britain had no right to complain whether the issue was peace or war, as she would gain something in either case, a continental peace at least giving her access to the Continent! B. Gebbardt, Wilhelm von Humboldt Politische Denkschriften, ii. 49.
Metternich could get was an agreement to send a negotiator to Prague to discuss, and as the armistice was drawing to a close it was agreed to extend it to August 10, a date which Schwarzenberg had fixed as one which suited Austria. But though a negotiation was decided, there was no sign of agreement even on the four points to which Metternich had reduced the ultimatum. Henceforward he must have had less hope of a continental peace. In July, therefore, the Austrian Court gradually drew nearer to the Allies, who accepted, after protest, Metternich's unauthorised extension of the armistice. The Emperors met and the staffs began to confer. Though the issue was still in doubt when, on July 11, Metternich formally invited Napoleon to send his representatives to Prague, war seemed more probable, and war in which Austria would be on the allied side.
From all these negotiations the British representatives were entirely excluded as Metternich had wished. Stewart was in the north engaged mainly on the military work that he liked. Cathcart remained at Reichenbach throughout June, but he acquiesced easily in the situation, made no endeavours to find out what was in progress, and recorded no protests. In July he went to Trachenberg, where Bernadotte met the Tsar and the King of Prussia with an Austrian representative to draw up a plan of campaign for the coming struggle. Bernadotte was far from satisfied with his position, for Sweden, like Britain, was excluded from the negotiation. He yielded, however, to the influence of the Tsar, placed his military science at the disposal of the Allies, and promised, though with mental reservations, to join in the general attack. Cathcart was well satisfied at the unity obtained and the plan prepared, the principle of which, he wrote, had already been anticipated by Castlereagh. 1
While he was there news came of the battle of Vittoria (June 21), which had a profound effect on the minds of all the parties to these delicate transactions. The report reached Dresden immediately after Metternich's visit, and it was
1 From "Cathcart, July 12, 1813": F.O. Russia, 86. From "Thornton, July 12, 1813": F.O. Sweden, 82. He described the Trachenberg scheme: "in short, to use the expression of the Prince Royal, that the rendezvous of the three great armies should be at the centre of the enemy's camp."
soon spread throughout the whole Continent. The British representatives were much excited by such news arriving at a time when their own interests seemed to be so neglected by their Allies, and they attached perhaps too much importance to its effects. Even Cathcart was uplifted when Alexander ordered a Te Deum, the first ever sung for a victory in which no Russian troops were engaged. "Wellington will save Europe yet," wrote Stewart exultingly to Hamilton. Jackson, when the final decisions were made, considered that Vittoria had been the main influence in producing them. This is, of course, an exaggeration. It was Napoleon and not Wellington who was the deciding factor. Yet the effect was considerable and played its part from now onwards in increasing British prestige and influence on the Continent. The Emperors even went so far as to invite Wellington to the command of their armies, which was at this time a matter of dispute amongst them, though only perhaps because they knew that distance made the offer no more than a compliment. 1
At the moment, however, the effect could not be relied upon. Jackson, who had been left by Stewart at Reichenbach, found no relief in the pony races which the British staff organised to fill up the tedium of waiting. The first news that came from Prague, where the young Addington had been sent, was very ominous. Binder, Metternich's First Secretary, had indicated that a continental peace was most likely, and complained that "all the world knew that England was determined on an eternal war." Jackson watched even more zealously, and after Hardenberg and Nesselrode had been to Ratisborsitz to see Metternich, plied the Prussian Chancellor with notes and questions which the latter found it difficult to evade without direct lying. Jackson could do no more, however, than report the gradually growing optimism that Austria would come in, which, however, he distrusted himself.
1 From "Cathcart, July 20, 1813": F.O. Russia, 86. From Stewart, Stralsund, July 16, 1813: "The sensation it has exerted is indescribable. Everything may be hoped from it and from it alone. . . . It is only to be regretted that this news could not have reached the Allies before the prolongation of the Armistice. In the papers that have passed it is somewhat singular Great Britain's consent seems not to be noticed or hinted at." Stewart to Hamilton, July 19, 1813: F.O. Prussia, 88. Nugent to Wellington, July 27, 1813; W.S.D. ix. 132. Bath Archives, ii. 204.
Ompteda, who had come to Reichenbach, was left in similar darkness and doubt, and though Count Hardenberg, who had accompanied Metternich to Ratisborsitz, knew more, he was under Metternich's ban to send nothing to Reichenbach but compliments. 1
Meanwhile these anxieties were just as acutely felt in London, where the news of the armistice from French sources came as a great shock. They had no information from their own representatives, since Hamburg's fall, besides shutting out their commerce, kept them from quick communication. No wonder that Fain said its capture was worth two victories against Britain. Wessenberg was completely neglected by Metternich, who, in pursuance of his principle of isolating Britain, did not send him a single dispatch from March onwards, in spite of his reiterated entreaties. Münster's letters from Count Hardenberg, all the direct news available, were not encouraging, and so disturbed the recipient that he drew up a memorandum couched in most desponding terms. Metternich was said to be using the same foolish language as immediately after the French marriage, and pretending that Britain had refused her every kind of assistance. "Fear is evidently the chief motive of the Austrian policy," he wrote, suggesting that, in order to stiffen it, a British expedition should be immediately dispatched to the north of Germany. He offered to let Metternich know in a fortnight if the British Government consented. "At this awful moment," he urged, "when the hopes of the Continent are on the point of being perhaps for ever blasted, when England is likely to have again to contend alone against the power of the French Empire, it would certainly be important to make a great effort in order to bring Austria over to our side."
The British Cabinet necessarily shared this despondency, and Bathurst consulted Wellington whether in the case of a continental peace, which he anticipated, Britain had better not offer France the Ebro as a boundary. Castlereagh's anxiety was also acute. He subjected Wessenberg to sharp and detailed questioning, but could, of course, obtain no
1 From "Jackson, July 8, 9 13, 1813": F.O. Prussia, 92. "Addington to Jackson, July 10, 15, 1813": F.O. Prussia, 88. Ompteda, Nachlass, iii. 163-68.
information from him. Jacobi was also without any news, and could only report the despondency of the Cabinet and their fears lest French hegemony should be re-established in Europe. Castlereagh confessed these fears to Cathcart, but, in the absence of all information, could give no instructions except to urge him to get in direct touch with Metternich and offer him British subsidies. 1
He easily piloted his Swedish treaty through the Commons in spite of the attacks of the Opposition and the general depression. It was to be their last chance before victory came and they "made a sad job" of it, as Dudley confessed. In spite of the clause concerning Norway, which Ponsonby in a violent speech compared to the Partition of Poland, and the fact that Bernadotte had done so little, Castlereagh routed the Opposition in one of the best speeches which he ever made. Madame de Staël thought it "the most eloquent, most rhetorical, and persuasive speech that was ever made in Parliament." He confessed afterwards that he had been doubtful of the result. "Half our own friends came down to the House determined either to vote against us or go away," he told General Hope, "I never recollect impressions so adverse. The transfer of Norway--the supposed loss of Danish concert--the Armistice--the fall of Hamburg--the Swedish army inactive--It was a most formidable combination of untoward circumstances. All, however, is right by decided conduct, and so it will be on the Prince Royal's part if his demands are not pushed too far. It is true the treaties are precise, but we know that parties who are bona fide can never expect to realise extreme rights." 2
This unexpected success gave great encouragement and,
1 Count Hardenberg to Münster. May 24, 31, 1813; Memorandum by Münster, June 25, 1813: F.O. Hanover, 6. Jacobi to Hardenberg, June 15, 18, 22, 1813: Berlin St. A. To Cathcart, June 30, 1813: B.D. 5.
2 Hansard, Commons, June 18, 1813. Canning also joined in the attack, but could not adapt his criticisms to those of the Wings. "Castlereagh perceived his advantage and availed himself of it in the best and most dexterous speech I ever heard him make, and Canning, angry, dispirited, and embarrassed, was as much below as his adversary had been above himself. So the Government gained its greatest victory upon its worst case, and for anything I see may last as long as Liverpool and Castlereagh live." Not a bad prophecy! S. H. Romilly, Letters to Ivy, 206-208. A. F. Steuart , Diary of a Lady in Waiting, 64. To General Hope, June 22, 1813: F.O. Sweden, 79.
even before the news of Vittoria, Castlereagh had regained some confidence in his Allies and was ready to discuss subsidy payments, as Jacobi noted with delight. The news from Spain not only dissipated all clouds and made the Government impregnable, so great was the joy and pride of the whole nation, but it enabled new instructions to be sent abroad. Spain might now be considered as won by force of arms. When, therefore, Castlereagh received from Cathcart the Russian terms of peace (he did not know, of course, to what they had been reduced by Metternich) he sent off new instructions, which might be of vital importance in the negotiations which seemed about to commence. He insisted, first, that Britain had given pledges to Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Sicily and could accept no peace which did not fulfil them. Secondly, Britain would support Austria and Prussia to any extent in their demands for the restoration of their territories. He hoped they would include Holland and he expected the restoration of Hanover. But on these points, even the last mentioned, he admitted that the final word lay with the Allies and, still more so, on the rescue of the rest of Germany and Italy from French domination. If Austria would join the Allies all this might be won, but the decision must be hers. In fact, if the Allies insisted on negotiation, he told Cathcart, Britain could not stand out, however much she regretted it. He could not trust the imperfect ties of the subsidy treaties if they were determined to make peace.
"The risk of treating with France is great," he wrote, "but the risk of losing our continental Allies and the confidence of our own nation is greater. We must preserve our own faith inviolate to Spain, Portugal, Sicily, and Sweden. We must maintain our most important conquests, employing others to improve the general arrangements on points which are not likely to be carried by other means; and with respect to the Continent we must sustain and animate those Powers through whose exertions we can alone hope to improve it, taking care, in aiming at too much, not to destroy our future means of connexion and resistance." 1
1 Wessenberg to Metternich, June 21, 1813: Vienna St. A. Jacobi to Hardenberg, June 25, 1813: Berlin St. A. Bathurst to Wellington,
A week later he made a further advance. The Russian and Prussian Ambassadors at the orders of their Courts, inspired by Metternich, had been urging him to accept the Austrian mediation. To this step he now consented, since the Spanish difficulty had been removed. Moreover, he sent a note promising to use the colonial conquests for the common advantage of Europe, though refusing to make specific proposals, since none had been made on the other side. He refused, however, to pay any subsidies while the armistice existed. At the same time he insisted that maritime rights must be altogether excluded from the negotiation. He had already refused to consider the idea which Napoleon had circulated for his own purposes that the Americans should be invited to the Congress. He reiterated Britain's refusal to allow any discussion on this point: "Great Britain may be driven out of a Congress but not out of her maritime rights, and if the continental Powers know their own interests they will not hazard this." He also peremptorily refused the insistent requests which were put to him by Jacobi to increase Prussia's subsidy. These important instructions were not revealed to the unfortunate Wessenberg, who was merely told that, as he appeared to have lost the confidence of his Court, communication would be established with Metternich through the agency of Cathcart. 1
A further reinforcement to the British representatives abroad at this time was hardly an asset. The Duke of Cumberland set off at the end of April to represent the Guelph House on the Continent, taking with him much good wine. He was anxious to raise a north German force to serve under him, but Castlereagh regretted to have to damp his ardour because there was no money to raise a corps adequate to His Royal Highness's rank and station. All that could be done was to beg that he might be allowed to see something of the fighting. 2
June 23, 1813: W.S.D. viii. 17. Castlereagh to Cathcart, June 30, July 5, July 6, 1813: B.D.5-11.
1 To Cathcart, July 13, 14: B.D.12-13; C.C. ix. 34-36. Wessenberg to Metternich, July 10, 1813: Vienna St. A. Jacobi to Hardenberg, July 10, 14, 1813: Berlin St. A. Jacobi was expressly forbidden by Castlereagh to inform Wessenberg of the acceptance of Austrian mediation by the British Government.
2 Bathurst to Wellington, April 7, 1813: W.S.D. vii. 601. Wessenberg to Metternich, April 27, 1813: Vienna St. A. From Cathcart, April 28,
There was now good prospect that this would be continued, for Napoleon proved to be even more adamant than Metternich had imagined, and the Congress which had been staged with so much care at Prague was no more than a dreary farce. Metternich had intended to keep all the threads of the negotiations in his own hands, but he found that there was little opportunity for his diplomatic skill. Napoleon shewed his intentions by refusing his envoys all instructions. The mediation ended in miserable quibbles as to the form of procedure until the Emperor, who up to the last seems to have hoped for peace and was even prepared to sacrifice Illyria to obtain it, was at last convinced that nothing could be obtained from his son-in-law. Metternich had come to that conclusion somewhat earlier, and Gentz's assurances to his British friends now began to sound the ring of truth. At last, on August 8, Metternich sent an ultimatum, and so certain was he of rejection in any case that, in order to please those to whose side he must now turn, he included in it all the six points of the Reichenbach agreement. When no answer came in time, the armistice was denounced, and a line of bonfires signalled the Allied armies to their march to Austria's assistance in Bohemia. Even now, however, a slender thread of negotiation was still kept across the chasm of war, for Metternich's answer to the rather insulting note which Maret sent him was studiously moderate. But it took Britain into consideration, and said that her reply must be awaited. Now that Austria was at war, British subsidies were necessary, and British interests must be considered to some extent.
During this period the hopes of the British representatives had naturally been rising higher. The attitude of the French at Prague could not be concealed, and Metternich grew more friendly as his hopes of peace dwindled. Jackson, who attributed the change too completely to the Vittoria victory, never lost his suspicions altogether, but even he had to admit that Napoleon's conduct made peace all but impossible. As late as August 2 he was still painting awful pictures of the possibility of a continental peace, but more to ensure his
1813: F.O. Supplement ( Russia), 343. The Duke of Cumberland to the Prince Regent, June 7, 18, 1813: Windsor Arch. Castlereagh to the Duke of Cumberland, July 13, 1813: F.O. Hanover, 5.
position if it took place than because he thought it likely. Cathcart became completely complacent. The Tsar professed himself ready to accept all the points of Castlereagh's instructions of July 5. He was confident concerning Austria, for Stadion, at Metternich's orders, began to negotiate concerning subsidies, while Nugent was allowed to receive money to complete the long-planned Tyrolean insurrection which Metternich had once so frowned on. Metternich, indeed, refused to see Cathcart personally to receive the letter which Castlereagh had sent, but that was due to the negotiations going on at Prague. 1
It was fortunate that when Stewart returned from the north the die had been cast. For his first action was to wrest from Hardenberg by a violent denunciation the secret of the Reichenbach treaty of July 27 between the three Powers, and Hardenberg had a very bad quarter of an hour. Jackson could hardly help insisting that Cathcart had scoffed at his suspicions and that Hardenberg had lied to him about it. Stewart endeavoured to excuse Hardenberg on the ground of age and infirmity; but he was convinced that, if Napoleon had yielded even one point, a continental peace would have been signed without any regard being paid to Britain's interests. That such a treaty by Prussia and Russia should have been signed only a few days after the subsidy treaties with Britain, which bound them not to negotiate separately and to communicate everything regarding policy to each other, was, to say the least, as Stewart pointed out, "a very strange proceeding." Only the obstinacy and recklessness of Napoleon had saved the Allies from another of those breaches of good faith with which the history of coalitions abounds. 2
All could, however, be forgiven now that Austria had been driven to war by Napoleon's intransigeance. Imperial headquarters were transferred to Prague, and although difficulties immediately arose as to the supreme command of the Allied forces over which Schwarzenberg's authority was disputed
1 Jackson to Stewart, July 27, Aug. 2, 7, 1813: B.D. 72-75. From Cathcart, July 20, 24, 26, 29, 1813; Metternich to Cathcart, July 30, 1813: F.O. Russia, 86. From Cathcart, Aug. 5, 1813: B.D.15. Nugent to Cathcart, July 27, 1813: Oncken, Oesterreich und Preussen, ii. 706.
2 From Stewart, Aug. 12, 20, 1813; Jackson to Stewart, Aug. 12, 1813: B.D.76-79. Bath Archives, ii. 211.
by the Tsar, who had now brought Moreau from America to advise him, preparations were made to carry out the plan of campaign drawn up at Trachenberg. Gentz was delighted to see his English friends once more, and no one was more capable of placing all the recent transactions in the best possible light. Metternich had no treaties to explain away, but he was aware that his recent conduct was hardly such as to win back British confidence. He now began to put forward the view, which he subsequently elaborated in his memoirs, that he had all the time intended to join the allied side, and that his tortuous methods were rendered necessary by the painful position of his country. Cathcart and Stewart accepted these explanations, which by now were merely academic, and began to plan how Austria's sore need of money and material could be supplied from British sources. Cathcart immediately promised a subsidy of half a million and gladly accepted all Metternich's assurances. Stewart still kept some suspicions, but was impressed with the Austrian army, whose unexpected size and excellence compensated, in his mind, for much diplomatic chicanery. 1
Metternich could also at last take notice of poor Wessenberg, and on August 28 he sent him an account of these transactions meant for British consumption. "My silence must have astonished you," he added in an intimate note, "but it was completely calculated. We were in so difficult a position, and our relations with England were so vulnerable, that to talk to her without knowing what to say would have only done harm. . . . I wished to make it possible for you to say with all frankness that you knew nothing about anything. Your mission was limited to the offer of the mediation, and there was no reason why you should discuss other objects as yet so little defined. Stadion was able to treat concerning them confidentially with the English agents at headquarters." Hardenberg pointed to the triumphant issue as the best excuse for his concealment, made at the orders of Austria "for fear of publicity." 2
1 From Stewart, Aug. 20, 1813: B.D.79. From Cathcart, Aug. 12, Sept. 1, 1813: F.O. Russia, 86. Londonderry, Narrative, pp. 104-106.
2 Metternich to Wessenberg, Aug. 28, 1813: Vienna St. A., 1813. Hardenberg to Jacobi, Aug. 24, 1813: Berlin St. A.
It was evident, however, that Austria would need more attention, and Castlereagh had already sent out a special Ambassador whose arrival was hourly expected. Nothing could better illustrate the outlook of the age than the choice of the young Earl of Aberdeen for this important post. He was not yet thirty years of age, had practically no diplomatic experience, and could not speak French. He was chosen partly at the Prince Regent's desire, but also because such a position could hardly be filled by a diplomate de carrière, but demanded a man of high rank. Aberdeen, the ward of Pitt and Dundas and son-in-law of a very great magnate, the Duke of Abercorn, had always been regarded as destined for a high career in the Tory ranks, though he had shewn himself diffident and reluctant to accept it. He had already refused in 1812 a difficult job--the negotiation with the United States. Now domestic sorrow caused him to accept as important and responsible a mission as had been sent out from Britain during the war. Though he had not sought it and was sincere in lamenting the trouble which it gave him, he was by no means dismayed at the task, and was quite prepared to negotiate peace for Europe all by himself. He insisted that he should at least be placed on a full equality with Cathcart, and was quite prepared to lecture Castlereagh. As will be seen, so stiff and yet so diffident and so inexperienced a character fell an easy prey to the wiles of Metternich. 1
Nevertheless, this was the envoy Castlereagh chose to send out on August 6, even before he knew that Austria would be an ally. He was given wide instructions. Britain was ready to fight on to confine France to her 'natural' frontiers, if the Allies would fight with her. For the rest, Castlereagh repeated the principles he had already laid down for Cathcart in July, to which were added further encouragement to go on with the Tyrolean insurrection. In one important point, however, Aberdeen was given great latitude. Austria was known to be already in negotiation with Murat. Britain was pledged as regards Sicily, and wished that the Bourbons should get back Naples. Aberdeen was ordered to suggest that Murat should
1 Balfour, Life of the Earl of Aberdeen, i. 72. Jacobi to Hardenberg, Aug. 3, 1813: Berlin St. A.
be offered compensation elsewhere in Italy, if he would change sides. But in a separate and secret dispatch he was allowed to agree to Murat's retention of Naples in the last resort, provided Ferdinand was given an equivalent elsewhere, an idea which had already been suggested by Lord William Bentinck. The negotiation was obviously a delicate one, and in the hands of men like Aberdeen and Bentinck it could hardly fail to bring confusion and uncertainty. 1
The fact that Aberdeen had been given such discretion at all shewed that Castlereagh was seeking every possible means to encourage the Allies to attack Napoleon in every quarter. He was cheered by the accounts of the Trachenberg decisions, which he warmly approved, but he redoubled his exhortations. He could not believe, he wrote, that peace was possible, adding further news of Wellington's progress in Spain. But he revealed his anxieties in the closing words of his letter, which were meant to warn the Allies of their danger:
"Fatal would it be for them, and for the world, if they could for the moment think of seeking their safety in what is called a continental peace. We have done wonders in the Peninsula, but don't let the experiment be tried of single combat again in that quarter. We may sink before the undivided power of France, and, if we do, Germany, and even Russia, will soon resume their fetters. We are protected against this evil by the obligations of good faith; but we are also protected against it by the plainest dictates of common sense. We have now the bull close pinioned between us, and if either of us lets go our hold till we render him harmless, we shall deserve to suffer for it." 2
Shortly afterwards he learnt of the secret Treaty of Reichenbach; for Metternich had at last allowed Count Hardenberg to communicate it to Münster under a strict injunction of secrecy. He must have known, however, that Münster could not conceal it from the British Ministers, and by the time it reached them the crisis would be over. An apology was sent for the concealment from Cathcart and Stewart, on the ground
1 To Aberdeen, Aug. 6, 1813: B.D.94-97. For the Italian negotiation, see below, Chapter IV, Section 4, p. 253.
2 To Thornton, Aug. 7, 1813: F.O. Sweden, 80. To Cathcart, Aug. 7, 813: C.C. ix. 39.
that their dispatches might have to go before Parliament. When the news of the rupture finally came to Britain it was received with immense relief. "We were deeply anxious," Castlereagh now confessed to Cathcart, and he commented with some acerbity on the way the British representatives had been treated. The negotiations with Murat, of which Münster had been informed, had also been concealed from them as well as the Reichenbach treaty. Castlereagh's indignation, though restrained, is apparent: "Engagements of secrecy against us are of bad precedent, and must not be." 1
How could he be confident of the completion of the immense task of overthrowing Napoleon's dominion with Allies of this kind? Was it not possible to make more definite provision by treaty to bind Europe together than had ever been done before? His thoughts naturally went back to the dispatch of 1805, and a few days later he had completed the first project of an Alliance which should bind Europe together against the power of France and give some guarantee against further manuvres of this kind.
1 Münster to Castlereagh, Aug. 24, 1813: F.O. Hanover, 6. To Cathcart, Sept. 1, 1813: C.C. ix. 45.
3. FIRST ATTEMPT AT AN ALLIANCE
FOR the first time since 1795 all the Great Powers of Europe were now combined together against France, with Sweden, Spain, and Portugal in their train. It was, indeed, a very different coalition to that of the Kings against the French Revolution. Nearly twenty years of French domination had made this new coalition one of peoples as well as monarchs. But it was the monarchs who directed the whole, without much reference to the wishes and desires of their subjects, and the same jealousies, ambitions, and tergiversations were present in this coalition as in those that preceded it. Austria's entry had brought 150,000 men into the field against Napoleon, but it had added greatly to the difficulties of combination. The Austrians had secured the entry of Russian and Prussian troops into Bohemia as a result of their negotiations and intended Schwarzenberg to have the supreme command. But the Tsar, who had now got Moreau as well as the Swiss Jomini to advise him, was by no means ready to subordinate his armies to foreign control, while the Prussian soldiers, animated by a much more eager and national spirit than the Austrians, were impatient of the restraints placed upon them. The result was that, though the principle laid down at Trachenberg was accepted by all, the methods by which it was to be carried out were a continual subject of dispute. Since Napoleon's exertions during the armistice had raised his forces to a number only slightly inferior to the allied total, the central position and unified command of the French forces might well be expected to make the combat a doubtful one.
Fortunately for the Allies, the field was so vast that Napoleon found it almost impossible to control the operations with his usual certainty and skill. His marshals had not the same confidence in him or in themselves as before the Russian campaign, while his troops were young and unable to sustain the hardships to which they were condemned by his wretched commissariat. Though Bernadotte was more than sluggish in the north, his raw Prussian troops stood fast, and Blücher and Gneisenau gave the Army of Silesia both fire and prudence. Napoleon's first marches and counter-marches were rendered futile, his marshals were defeated, and though he won his last victory on German soil at Dresden, he failed to take advantage of it, and the disaster of Kulm more than counterbalanced the success. Meanwhile his army was melting away faster than that of the Allies, who had learnt something from the risk they had run of overwhelming defeat, while Moreau's death in action had checked the Tsar's desire to overrule Schwarzenberg.
Cathcart and Stewart were in their element once the fighting had begun. Both were in the thick of it, especially Stewart, who was wounded at Kulm and for a couple of weeks had to stay quiet. Their reports revealed the difficulties of the situation and their own. "No Commander-in-Chief ever had before two Emperors and a King superintending and controlling not only movements in agitation, but also opera. tions decided on," wrote Stewart. "In a residence where there are three Sovereigns, three Courts, three Ministers, and three Headquarters," explained Cathcart, "there are, of course, many parties, many rumours, and great variety in stating the same matters of fact.""It is difficult to ascertain the truth," he confessed, but with his usual optimism vouched for the general zeal in the cause and was confident of ultimate success. Neither he nor Stewart had much time for diplomacy, yet important discussions were going on between the three Powers at this time with regard to new treaties amongst themselves in which the war aims were to be restated. From these discussions, as at Reichenbach, the British plenipotentiaries were excluded, though, of course, they knew what was in progress. 1
Nor did Aberdeen, who arrived at Toeplitz on September 5,
1 "From Stewart, Sept. 4, 1813": B.D.81. "From Cathcart, Sept. 7, 1813": F.O. Supplement (Russia), 343.
supply this deficiency. He made at first a bad impression by his cold demeanour and his lack of French. But within a few days the ice melted under Metternich's genial handling, and in a short time Aberdeen was ready to adopt the Austrian views as his own. With subtle flattery Metternich and his Imperial master treated Aberdeen with even greater distinction than the Tsar gave to Cathcart. Though the young man affected to disdain such worldly trifles, he was in fact much influenced by them, and in a short time was ready to place unbounded trust in Metternich and to share his views about the future of Europe and the best methods of bringing the war to a close. 1
If Aberdeen was communicative to Metternich, he was the reverse with his own colleagues. Cathcart and Stewart were too much men of war for his liking, though he yielded somewhat to Stewart's good nature and bonhomie. The only British colleague who appealed to him was Sir Robert Wilson, who at last saw an opportunity of making a recognised position for himself. At the Russian headquarters, though made much of personally, he was overshadowed by Cathcart, who was military representative. But Aberdeen was a civilian, and Sir Robert soon won his confidence and arranged a transfer to the Austrian headquarters, where his bravery and energy as well as his flattery of Schwarzenberg and Radetzky soon made him a favourite. He too began to expatiate on the advantages of peace and added to the influence on Aberdeen in this direction, which Metternich was already exercising in a hundred different ways. 2
Aberdeen had, indeed, but little opportunity to contribute to the treaties between Austria and her Allies, signed at Toeplitz a few days after he reached headquarters, which, besides providing for the conduct of the war in common, restated its aims in separate and secret articles. These
1 Wittichen, Briefe von und an F. yon Gentz, iii. 134, 149. On Aug. 31 Gentz wrote to Metternich: "Ich finde ihn sehr verlegen, embarrassé et embarrassant, finster, steinern, tot-kalt, und wie es mir vorkam, des Franzoschen nicht recht mächtig," but on Sept. 13 he could say, "Er ist ein andrer Mench geworden. . . . Ihr Glanz strahlte von seinem Gesicht zurück."
2 Balfour, Life, i. 143-44; Randolph, Wilson Diary, ii. 113-14. "From Cathcart, Sept. 25, 1813": F.O. Supplements (Russia), 343.
included the dissolution of the Confederation of the Rhine, the freedom of Germany to the Rhine, and the reconstruction of the Austrian and Prussian monarchies on a scale equal to 1805. The restoration of Hanover was specifically mentioned, but none of the other British aims such as Spain or Norway or Holland. Jackson was much exercised at these omissions when he discovered them, and Humboldt's explanations that Britain was left to make her own proposals and that there would be no peace made without her consent did not completely satisfy him. But none of the Ambassadors supported him.
Meanwhile Aberdeen's negotiation of the Austrian-British treaty went on only slowly. He had told Metternich of the acceptance of Austrian mediation by Britain, the news of which had reached Cathcart on the eve of the rupture and had been kept concealed from Austria at the Tsar's request. This confession only caused surprise, but Aberdeen at times had doubts about Metternich's perfect sincerity, though he did not waver for long. " Metternich continues to be as cordial and as confidential as possible," he wrote on September 23, "I think this man must be honest; yet it may be after all that he is only a most consummate actor. I will be sufficiently cautious, but I will also retain the favourable opinion I have of him until I see some good ground to change it." Cathcart, who had received Castlereagh's severe comments on the armistice negotiations, also promised to be circumspect with regard to Russia: "I do not think this Cabinet is more successful than others in keeping its secrets, but it is the principle to be secret and to make no sort of communication which is not absolutely called for." He had protested against being told of measures only after they were settled, and hoped for better results in the future. 1
The treaty which Aberdeen signed on October 3 was on the model of the British treaties with Russia and Prussia. It contained the clause promising unreserved communication and that peace would only be signed by common accord. Of the subsidy of a million pounds, payable at £100,000 per
1 "From Aberdeen, Sept. 23. 1813": Balfour, Life, i. 105. "From Cathcart, Sept. 25, 1813": F.O. Supplement (Russia), 343.
month, half had already been given by Cathcart on August 18, so that the rest would last till April 1. The treaty had been, however, preceded by long discussions on the terms of peace. Metternich assured Aberdeen that he was ready to accept all the British points on which Castlereagh had insisted in the instructions. Though the Rhine had been mentioned as a geographical frontier in the treaties with Russia and Prussia, he did not mean to adhere to it too strictly and thus Holland would be provided for. He was very reluctant to support Bernadotte's claim to Norway, but at last agreed to try to obtain Denmark's consent by negotiation. At the same time he made Aberdeen his confidant as regards Germany. He claimed but little merit for Austria's refusal to resume the Imperial Crown, but gradually revealed his alarm at Stein's plans, which Aberdeen came to share: "Instead of imitating Bonaparte we ought to pursue a conduct directly opposite and avoid everything of a revolutionary tendency. . . . There is a spirit in the north of Germany which is dangerous. The friends of virtue ought to be attended to. It is impossible to say what may arise from this discontented and restless disposition; but it is clear we ought to put down as much as possible the mischievous effects produced by these speculating philosophers and politicians. . . . The real sum of the matter is, that while we are fighting to destroy the Confederation of the Rhine, we shall raise up another as odious and unjust." 1
Aberdeen was also loud in praise of the subtle diplomacy by which Metternich was detaching Napoleon's vassals. The negotiations with Bavaria were, indeed, a masterpiece; for they struck equally at Napoleon and at Stein, whose plans were fatally ruined by the complete independence of outside control which Bavaria obtained with Hardenberg's assent. With Denmark slower progress was made, and there was much risk of offending Bernadotte, who objected to Bernstorff even being received by Metternich. As to Italy, Aberdeen found it hard to get exact ideas from Metternich. Negotiations were still going on with Murat, who, to the general surprise,
1 From Aberdeen, Oct. 1, 1813: Balfour, Life, i. 110. A. F. Pribram Oeskrreichische Staatsvertrage, England, 543, 546-50, gives the secret articles of the Treaty of Toeplitz.
appeared at Dresden at Napoleon's imperious summons and was put in command of the cavalry. He kept, however, his link with Austria, and it did not take much longer than a week for Metternich to obtain from Aberdeen a written statement that Britain would agree to Murat retaining Naples, though his instructions were that this was only to be yielded as a last resource. 1
Meanwhile in Britain they were endeavouring to take stock of the new situation caused by the accession of Austria to the coalition. They could hardly believe the news. According to Wessenberg, the Prince Regent was still full of distrust of Metternich and maliciously repeated all the gossip assiduously collected by Count Hardenberg. Münster, he added, lamented Austria's views on Germany. It was evident that it would be long before the unpopularity of Austria wore off. Münster sent a different, though perhaps less veracious, view of his master's attitude to Hardenberg, but he added his solicitations to those of Russia and Sweden that Austria would resume the Imperial crown--a measure which would solve the problem of Germany by ensuring just sufficient independence to the Princes who would now be restored. 2
Castlereagh, who alone, according to Wessenberg, had behaved with dignity towards Austria during the trying interval of the armistice, was not slow to send his official congratulations to Metternich "on the dignity and firmness with which he has conducted these delicate and important transactions to a close." He was anxious to give all possible help, and readily agreed that the arms and munitions sent to Austria should not come out of the subsidy. But, as has been seen, he was far from approving of the manner in which the recent negotiations had been carried on, and while Austria's assistance was invaluable, her disposition to treat was suspect, and the risk of a premature peace which would leave the Continent still at Napoleon's mercy at some future date seemed to be much increased. 3
1 "From Aberdeen, Sept. 14, 24, 1813": Balfour, Life, i. 91, 93, 101.
2 "Wessenberg to Metternich, Sept. 1, 3, 7. 1813": Vienna St. A. Jacobi to Hardenberg, Sept. 7, 1813: Berlin St. A. Ompteda, Nachlass, iii. 231-36.
3 "To Aberdeen, Sept. 1. 1813: Balfour". Life, i. 82. Wessenberg to Metternich, Sept. 21, 1813: Vienna St. A. Wessenberg asked for half the
It was now, therefore, that he first produced the scheme for an Alliance against France which should continue in peace as well as in war and give some unity to Europe in future danger. He began to draft the project early in September, and the documents were signed on the 18th, but could not be dispatched till nearly the end of the month, the Packets being detained by contrary winds. They were in a sense a reply to all the discussions of Reichenbach and Prague as well as a plan for the establishment of what he considered to be the basis of a permanent peace. They were also an effort to assert Britain's place in the negotiations to prevent such discussions being carried on again without her knowledge. And, finally, they were an attempt to weld the system of treaties between the individual Powers into one comprehensive instrument, which should place the coalition beyond the reach of dissolution by Napoleon's diplomacy. In fact, he wished to turn the coalition into an Alliance to win the war and safeguard the peace.
Cathcart was to be the principal negotiator and the Tsar's consent was first to be secured, though Prussia, Austria, and Sweden were to be approached at the same time, so that the treaty might include all the Great Powers. Spain, Portugal, and Sicily, he thought, might accede at a later date. "The present Confederacy," he wrote, "may be considered as the union of nearly the whole of Europe against the unbounded and faithless ambition of an individual. It comprehends not only all the great monarchies, but a great proportion of the secondary Powers. It is not more distinguished from former Confederacies against France by the number and magnitude of the Powers engaged than by the national character which the war has assumed throughout the respective states. On former occasions it was a contest of sovereigns, in some instances, perhaps, against the prevailing sentiment of their subjects; it is now a struggle dictated by the feelings of the people of all ranks as well as by the necessity of the case. The
muskets in the British arsenals, more than he expected, so that the demand could be cut down "car dans ce pays-ci on marchande en toute chose." Jacobi for his part appealed to the Prince Regent himself on the question of arms, on the ground that at his first audience the Prince had told him that Prussia would find in England all that she needed! ( "Jacobi to the Prince Regent: Aug. 31, 1813", Berlin St. A.).
sovereigns of Europe have at last confederated together for their common safety, having in vain sought that safety in detached and insulated compromises with the enemy. They have successively found that no extent of submission could procure for them either safety or repose, and that they no sooner ceased to be objects of hostility themselves than they were compelled to become instruments in the hands of France for effectuating the conquest of other unoffending states. The present Confederacy may, therefore, be pronounced to originate in higher motives and to rest upon more solid principles than any of those that have preceded it, and the several Powers to be bound together for the first time by one paramount consideration of an imminent and common danger."
The objects were fully avowed. Cathcart was authorised to "urge the importance of such a direct pledge and avowal between all the Powers engaged in the war, from the distrust which the late negotiations for what was termed 'Preliminaries of a continental peace to serve as a basis of a general peace' were calculated to inspire." Castlereagh was convinced, he said, "that the Allies never thought for a moment of signing an engagement in separation from the Prince Regent." But he pointed out the risks run by the British army in Spain if the armistice had been protracted, and ordered Cathcart to "press the necessity not only of mutual engagements but that any preliminaries to be hereafter listened to must be general and not partial. They must explicitly provide for the main interests of all the Powers, and not leave it open to the enemy, first to satisfy certain claims in the hope of sowing jealousy and disunion. . . ."
He hardly alluded to the clauses which committed the Powers to "a perpetual defensive Alliance for the maintenance of such peace and for the mutual protection of their respective states," and "that in case of attack hereafter by France on any one of the said High Contracting Parties, the several Powers will support the party so attacked with all their forces if necessary, and see justice done." The idea as yet had only a secondary place in his mind, since the war had yet to be won, but this proposal in which it was first given expression was the foundation of all the subsequent attempts to construct a European Alliance.
Such a treaty, which implied common negotiation, obviously necessitated a restatement of war aims. These Castlereagh also supplied, in nine articles which, as he explained, were founded on those laid down by Russia and Prussia at Wurschen. He had, however, made considerable extensions. The independence of the whole of Germany and Italy was more rigidly laid down, the separation of Holland from France was added, and for the first time the phrase "with an adequate barrier" appeared, while provision was made for Norway and Naples. 1
Nothing, it should be noted, was said about maritime rights. Lieven, when Castlereagh communicated the draft to him, asked what was to happen if France insisted on discussing them. Castlereagh replied that maritime rights never had been discussed at a Congress, and he was not going to allow them to be so now. Still less was he prepared to bring into discussion the dispute with the United States. He devoted a special dispatch to this subject, because he had reason to suspect that both Lieven and the Tsar held very different views regarding it.
Nor was anything specific said as to the colonial conquests. These were thus held in reserve as a control over the conclusion of peace. It must be admitted that in so doing Castlereagh was asking much from his Allies. Britain was to be consulted on all points of the European settlement, but they had not been informed, except in the most general manner, as to the conquests which were to be returned from France. Yet if there were serious negotiations for a general peace, this subject must infallibly be raised by Napoleon.
Castlereagh seems to have thought that this great project could be obtained by his Ambassadors with comparatively small trouble and energy. Parliament was to meet on November 4, and it was essential that the Cabinet should be assured of the intentions of the continental Powers before they asked for financial support for them in the coming year. The financial weapon was, indeed, what Castlereagh relied
1 "To Cathcart (Nos. 65, 66, Private), Sept. 18, 1813": B.D.19-29.
upon to secure his ends. Lieven immediately asked about subsidies when the treaty was submitted to him. Castlereagh made it abundantly clear that future subsidies were to depend on the Allies agreeing to his terms.
He did not, he explained for the benefit of Metternich, object to all negotiation, but he deprecated negotiation while the Allies were still without a common instrument on which negotiations could be based: "When the Confederacy is placed beyond the reach of Bonaparte's cunning, as I flatter myself it is of his arms, they may receive a proposition for peace or they may make one at a suitable moment, but don't let them countenance proceedings which are calculated to create a doubt whether they are fighting or negotiating. . . . The only invigorating remedy is a common Alliance." 1
This point he made more emphatic to Aberdeen, though he had been inclined to accept his Ambassador's view of Metternich: "I am inclined to think it best to make a hero of him, and, by giving him a reputation, to incite him to sustain it." He sent Aberdeen Münster's views on Germany, but warned him to keep out of German politics as much as possible. But when, a day or two later, he received from Wessenberg the correspondence between Metternich and Maret after the Congress of Prague, he reiterated with great emphasis the point which he had made to Cathcart. In a long dispatch he insisted on the dangers of a Congress before the basis of peace was fixed. Such a proceeding could only enfeeble the Allied efforts without obtaining any corresponding advantages.
"The question is still at issue," he urged, "whether an individual shall hold the rest of Europe in subjection, or whether, after long suffering and hopeless submission, the Great Powers shall now deliver themselves from bondage, and resume their former station in the Commonwealth of Europe. This is, in its nature, an issue of arms and not of diplomacy, and it seems as yet undecided in the temper of either parties.
"When Bonaparte proposes a Congress let him state the principles on which he is ready to negotiate, and it will be then in the power of the Allies, comparing them with the
1 To Cathcart, Sept. 21, 27, 1813: B.D.29, 31.
acknowledged principles which bind them together, to judge whether discussion can be advisable on such a basis. It may also be open to the Allies to propose, at a suitable moment, terms of their own, but in dealing with such an enemy, and meaning to require an arrangement which is to give peace to Europe, they ought not to hazard a premature proposition, which, if unsupported by corresponding successes, would afford advantages in point of impression to their antagonist."
To Wessenberg, too, he spoke in the same manner, though he protested that England did not want war without end. "Do not think," he added of Napoleon, "that we are aiming at his dynasty"--words which Wessenberg thought might be passed on to Napoleon himself. The Ambassador pretended to be convinced that the Government would have refused all negotiation but for fear of the Opposition, "who much approve of the moderation of the Court of Vienna and desire peace," though at the same time he admitted that the mere word of peace had become "almost a signal of alarm" in Britain. The truth was that Castlereagh did not want negotiations until Napoleon was either overthrown or pushed back beyond the Rhine, but his consent to discuss the question arose, not from fear of the Opposition, but from doubts as to the steadfastness of his Allies. 1
It was, perhaps, this deep anxiety that caused his health to break down at this time. For long news was denied to him, since heavy gales kept his own instructions from reaching his envoys, and at the same time delayed their accounts of the allimportant negotiations entrusted to them. The report from France of a vast conscription was disquieting, and he could hear of nothing of the same kind from his Allies. He awaited anxiously word that the Tyrol was up once more. In the middle of the month he heard from Lieven of the Toeplitz treaties. He approved the general outline "so far as it goes," he told Cathcart, but by no means accepted the Ambassadors' complacent acquiescence in the omission of all reference to Spain. They were ordered to protest vigorously forthwith, and it was again hinted that British subsidies depended on
1 "To Aberdeen, Sept. 21, 28, 1813": B.D.97, 98. "Wessenberg to Metternich, Sept. 21, 24, 27, 28, 1813": Vienna St. A.
some notice being taken of her special war aims. Aberdeen's precipitate action with regard to Murat was also approved, but he was warned that only active assistance on the part of the King of Naples could justify it. Some reference was also made to the colonial conquests. The restoration of the Dutch colonies, it was now first insisted, depended upon "the absolute separation of Holland from France," and "the adequacy of the securities to be provided for the future independence of that country."
These instructions were written from Dover Castle, where he and Liverpool had gone to repair their health, which the labour and anxiety of the summer had visibly affected. He added to them urgent appeals not to rely on negotiation for victory, but to organise the national spirit of Europe. "It is become a contest of nations to all intents and purposes," he told Cathcart. "The people are now the only barrier," he warned Aberdeen, and betrayed extreme anxiety less Metternich's cleverness might play into Napoleon's hands. To his brother he even sent advice on the strategy of the campaign, but he ended in the same note: "They must tell their people the truth, namely that they have nothing to trust to but their own exertions." 1
Ill-health, no doubt, is partly responsible for the tone of these appeals. But relief was soon to come. While they were being penned, the armies of the Continent were converging into a veritable battle of the nations, the result of which was to change entirely the whole European situation.
1 To Cathcart, Oct. 14, 1813: B.D.34; Oct. 15, 1813: F.O. Russia. 83. "To Aberdeen, Oct. 15, 1813 (Private)": B.D.102; Oct. 15, 1813 (Nos. 20, 21): F.O. Austria, 101. "To Stewart , Oct. 14, 1813": Lond. MSS. "Jacobi to Hardenberg, Oct. 12, 1813": Berlin St. A.
4. THE FRANKFORT PROPOSALS
IN October, all the three armies of the coalition gradually converged on Leipzig, though it was only with difficulty that Bernadotte's forces were got on to the scene in time to make the victory complete. For this Sir Charles Stewart is entitled to a good deal of credit; since he certainly added volume and power to the reproaches which Bernadotte's Swedish, as well as Prussian subordinates were addressing to the Crown Prince. Written were at last added to verbal entreaties on the critical day, and the result was an explosion of Gascon wrath. But the victory of Leipzig wiped out all the past, at least for the moment, and there was general reconciliation and mutual congratulation when the Sovereigns and their generals met on October 19, after the most sanguinary and decisive battle of the war. Stewart's energy was redoubled by the victory, and his description of the battle, sent off on the morning of October 19, outstripped by many days those of Cathcart and Aberdeen, and appeared in the Gazette. He forwarded at the same time an account of Napoleon's important conversation with Merveldt, which Wilson had obtained and sent to Aberdeen. Both of these were furious at what they considered a shabby trick to obtain all the credit. Napoleon, whose strategy and tactics were alike unworthy of him, drew off enough troops, nearly all Frenchmen, to defeat his latest foe at Hanau, where Wrede only made his Bavarians fight for political reasons. But only a handful of the Grand Army found refuge behind the Rhine, and Napoleon's German vassals hastened to make peace with the victorious coalition. All got favourable terms modelled on, though not equalling, those given to Bavaria. To the King of Saxony alone was mercy denied, though some of his troops had changed sides in the course of the battle. Austria could do nothing for him, and he was sent as prisoner to Berlin, whose monarch intended to make Saxony the compensation of his own efforts. 1
Only where Davoust and the Danes still held fast in the north was there now any resistance in Germany to the conquerors, and Stein's opportunity seemed to have come. Except on the great point of Saxony, however, Metternich had already out-manuvred him, and elsewhere his Council had little real power. But this was hardly yet apparent, and Stewart was much concerned for Hanoverian interests, which he considered threatened by "the influence that Baron Stein has had in all this concern."
Bernadotte was also at last free to attack the Danes, which meant that he would occupy the Electorate. Stewart was urgent to protect it from him and also from the Duke of Cumberland, who seemed likely to take advantage of Bernadotte's favour to exercise royal authority. He went off himself to supervise British interests, writing the Duke a stiff letter warning him not to come. 2
Cathcart and Aberdeen meanwhile accompanied the Emperors across Germany to Frankfort, which was for the next two months to be the scene of negotiation. Castlereagh's important instructions had not been received by his Ambassadors until October 18. The whole situation had now changed, and it was difficult to deal with such a project amidst the tumultuous scenes which accompanied the great victory. Stewart wished to attack the problem at once, but Cathcart refused and he had the final word. He had but little idea as to the magnitude and difficulty of his task. "I think there is nothing proposed," he wrote from Leipzig, "which will occasion much difficulty or delay, and if it had arrived a day sooner it might perhaps have been signed here." When, however, he tackled the Tsar at Ansbatt, he found that
1 "From Stewart, Oct. 17, 1813": Alison, Lives, ii. 107; Oct. 23, 1813: F.O. Prussia, 90. "From Thornton, Oct. 17, 22, 1813": F.O. Sweden, 83. Thornton claimed credit for suggesting the joint letter to Bernadotte, which is dated Halle, Oct. 18, and was signed by Thornton, Vincent, Pozzo di Borgo, Krusemarck, and Sir Charles Stewart. Suchtelen's influence was against action. Blücher's resolution decided the crossing of the Elbe.
2 From Stewart. Oct. 23, 1813; "Stewart to Cathcart, Oct. 30, 1813" (at night): F.O. Prussia, 90. "Stewart to the Duke of Cumberland, Oct. 31, 1813": Lond. MSS.
Lieven's report had arrived and he was immediately confronted with the questions of maritime rights, colonies, and subsidies. He gave such answers as he could, but all that he obtained was permission for Aberdeen and Stewart also to open the question with their Courts. Bernadotte, at the express desire of the Tsar, was to be left out--a step of great significance in the history of the Alliance, but the motive of which was at present no more than a distrust of his immediate conduct. 1
If the Tsar was lukewarm, Metternich was occupied with matters which he hoped would make all such negotiations unnecessary. The objects of the coalition had, in his opinion, now been attained and he was eager for peace. In his new plan he was to have the earnest co-operation of Aberdeen, who had been deeply moved by the terrible scenes which he had witnessed. The ride across the Leipzig battlefield, while the screams of the wounded lying amidst the masses of dead fell unheeded on the ears of the cavalcade, made an indelible impression on the sensitive nature of the young envoy and affected all his future life. He realised the horror of war as no other British Minister has ever done, and was more than ready to listen to Metternich's proposals. 2
Metternich was already almost as much afraid of his allies as of Napoleon. He had not forgotten Poland, but for the moment it was the question of Prussia's attitude towards Saxony, so clearly revealed at Leipzig, on which he expatiated to Aberdeen. "The question of Prussian aggrandisement," reported the Ambassador, "is viewed by the Austrian Government with the utmost solicitude. . . . Nothing would induce
1 "From Cathcart, Oct. 21, 1813": F.O. Supplement (Russia), 343; Oct. 30, 1813: B.D.35. From Stewart, Oct. 21, 1813; "Cathcart to Stewart, Nov. 1, 1813": F.O. Prussia, 90. Bath Archives, ii. 315-16.
2 "Oct. 22. For three or four miles the ground is covered with bodies of men and horses, many not dead. Wretches wounded unable to crawl, crying for water amidst heaps of putrefying bodies. Their screams are heard at an immense distance, and still ring in my ears." Nov. 3. "The most affecting sight I think I ever beheld, I have seen to-day. Houses were burning: the owners of these cottages in the deepest misery and their children were playing around, and were quite delighted with the fire which consumed the whole property of their parents and condemned them to cold and hunger. . . . I do not know when I have felt more severely the wretchedness of mankind. . . . I pray God we may be near to a termination of these horrors." Balfour, Life, i. 125, 129.
Austria to agree to the incorporation of Saxony in Prussia." It was only natural, therefore, that Metternich should convince Aberdeen that Castlereagh's letters of September were sufficient warrant to open negotiations. He enjoined on him the strictest secrecy and persuaded him easily enough to conceal the plan from Cathcart and Stewart, who, he knew, were not likely to be sympathetic. "In consequence of the British answer being received," reported Aberdeen with obvious satisfaction, "it has been determined to open a communication with Bonaparte, but in such a manner as to give rise to as little speculation as possible, and indeed the whole affair is to be kept a profound secret." 1
Accident had furnished the opportunity. Baron St. Aignan, Caulaincourt's brother-in-law, French Minister at Weimar, who had been taken prisoner and threatened with captivity in Russia, appealed to Metternich, who procured his release and invited him to Frankfort, where the sovereigns and their suites assembled in the early days of November. Bernadotte was absent in the north and Stewart was with him, looking after Hanover. The British representatives were reinforced by Lord Burghersh, Lord Westmorland's son, who had been sent out as military representative to the Austrian Army. He received but a cold welcome; for Wilson was furious, and the Austrian soldiers and Metternich, to whom Wessenberg had already described Burghersh as a "disagreeable spy," supported Wilson's complaints at being superseded. Aberdeen took the same point of view, and Burghersh found himself in a very unpleasant position until the result of his energetic protests to Castlereagh and Lord Westmorland could be known at headquarters. He was consoled by the appearance of his charming wife, a niece of the Duke of Wellington, who insisted on joining him at headquarters and was made much of in the brilliant society which gathered round the banker's wife, Madame Bethman, whose charms, though a little faded, brought some relief to the harassed soldiers and statesmen. 2
1 From Aberdeen, Oct. 29, 30, 1813: F.O. Austria, 101.
2 Burghersh's private letters on this subject are in Lond. MSS. "Wessenberg to Metternich. Sept. 17, 1813": Vienna St. A. Balfour, Life, i. 145. Randolph, Wilson Diary, ii. 219-21.
It was in this interval of comparative peace that Metternich again approached St. Aignan on November 8. He wished, he said, to send an answer to the offer which Napoleon had made to Merveldt during the battle of Leipzig. In this conversation Napoleon had shewn himself disposed to give up all control over Germany, perhaps over Italy as well; but he had inveighed against the intransigeance of Britain, who was determined, he said, to limit France's fleet to thirty sail of the line, an indignity to which she would never submit. This, said Metternich, was a false view, the Allies were ready to make peace, and England, above all, was far more reasonable than Napoleon allowed. He now offered France her 'natural frontiers' as a basis of negotiations, which would leave Belgium, though not Holland, in French territory. But by far the best method of approach to his allies was the informal and confidential, and Metternich proposed that St. Aignan should see Nesselrode and Aberdeen, as if by accident, at his rooms on the morrow. With these he then had a long conference, and Aberdeen entered with enthusiasm into his views. He had already written to Gentz: " England is satisfied: for the power of France is now reduced within legitimate bounds, and this is all that England ever desired." But he knew that Stewart and Cathcart would not support this view, and he was even more urgent for secrecy than Metternich, insisting that St. Aignan should not see either of the Emperors before his departure, as had been intended. He also wished the terms of peace to be fixed as low as possible, instead of stating them high for bargaining purposes, in order that they might be made "with the hope of being accepted. . . . If the proposition were made without any such hope, I deprecated the whole proceeding as being most erroneous in principle, and calculated to produce the greatest injury to the common cause."
Next day these plans were carried out to the letter. Metternich again saw St. Aignan and discussed the terms with him. Nesselrode entered claiming to represent Hardenberg also. St. Aignan now proposed that he should reduce the terms to writing. Metternich had suggested the natural frontiers, France giving up all influence in Germany and Italy, while independent states were to be established between the Austrian and French frontiers. The absolute independence of Holland was stipulated, but its precise frontier as well as form of government was to be a matter of discussion. St. Aignan refused to be impressed by this moderation, but added by various subtleties to the content of the offer. Thus when it was stated that France was not to exercise any influence in Germany outside her natural limits of the Alps, Rhine, and Pyrenees, he excepted "the natural and indispensable influence which every powerful state must exercise over its weaker neighbours." He made also a special point of Metternich's statement about maritime rights which he developed into the phrase "que l'Angleterre était prête à faire les plus grands sacrifices pour la paix fondée sur ces bases, et à reconnaître la liberté du commerce et de la navigation, à laquelle la France a droit de prétendre." 1
Then Aberdeen entered, as had been planned, and the note was read over to him. He natural ly demurred at the phrase about maritime rights, which had to be read a second time, complaining that it was too vague. Metternich would have erased the last part of the sentence, but when St. Aignan replied that it was then made even more vague, Aberdeen agreed that the original phrase should be restored. He seems to have had no suspicion that its inclusion might very well make the maritime rights one of the subjects of the future discussions.
"I particularly cautioned him," he explained to Castlereagh, "against supposing that any possible consideration could induce Great Britain to abandon a particle of what she felt to belong to her maritime code, from which in no case could she ever recede, but that, with this understanding, she had no wish to interfere with the reasonable pretensions of France. I took this opportunity to contradict the assertion which Bonaparte had made to General Merveldt of the intention of the British Government to limit him to thirty ships of the line, and declared that, so far as I knew, it was a prejudice without any foundation. Of course the whole transaction and
1 Aberdeen in his account translates the phrase "could with justice pretend," but the French word 'droit' carries, of course, a much wider implication.
interview were understood to be perfectly unofficial, and merely following up the conversation which Bonaparte had recently held with General Merveldt. . . .
"I trust your Lordship will not disapprove of the part which I have taken in this affair. My great object, if any propositions were made, was to frame them so as to afford the greatest probability of success consistent with the fixed policy of the Allies. I hope the communication which has been made will be found to embrace the most essential points, and to demand as much as our actual situation entitles us to expect. My next object was that the whole transaction should be conducted with the utmost secrecy and expedition." 1
It might have been expected that in dealing with a matter of such great importance Aberdeen would at least have consulted Cathcart. On the contrary, he was even more anxious than Metternich to get St. Aignan on his way to France and his own account forwarded to London before his colleague heard a word about the transaction. Cathcart only knew on the 9th that Aberdeen had sent off a courier without informing him, and protested mildly to Castlereagh at such a step. It says much for his equable temperament that, when he was informed by the Tsar of the interview with St. Aignan, he should have taken the whole affair very easily and even approved of it--so far as he was allowed to know what had happened.
The vigilant Jackson was not so easily satisfied. He also had only a vague account from Hardenberg, who suggested that the whole affair was not of great importance, but casually mentioned that of course they must await the issue before going any further with the treaty of Alliance. Hardenberg had no wish to leave the left bank of the Rhine in French hands, but he was powerless against Metternich, and had been misled by a stupid report of Jacobi's that the British Government were anxious for peace. Jackson hastened to inform Stewart, who shared Bernadotte's indignation at their exclusion from these negotiations. He was far from approving of all the conduct of the Prince Royal, whom he thought
1 From Aberdeen, Nov. 8, 9, 1813: B.D.107, 109. "Report of St. Aignan and his note, Nov. 9, 1813": D'Angeberg, Congrès de Vienne, i. 73-76. Cf. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Briefe von Gentz an Pilat, i. 92.
quite mad, but he agreed with him in his criticism of the new plan of campaign, from the making of which the author of the Trachenberg scheme had been entirely excluded. He came to Frankfort, therefore, in no sweet temper and roundly condemned both the manner and the substance of the transaction with St. Aignan, of which, however, he was as yet only imperfectly informed, not having seen the famous minute. 1
Had Napoleon immediately accepted the basis of the Frankfort proposals there can be no doubt but that peace negotiations would have begun immediately. But the answer which Maret sent back on the 18th was entirely noncommittal and simply asked for a Congress. Metternich's reply, which merely insisted on the basis being first accepted, was harmless enough, though it made the transaction an official one, but Aberdeen had again agreed to the answer without consulting or informing his colleagues, and Stewart was denied all information by Hardenberg. It was only a threat to ask for his passports which at length extracted from the harassed Chancellor St. Aignan's minute and the last correspondence. Jackson and Stewart then sent home a long dispatch which protested strongly against the omission of Norway and Sicily, and of course at the introduction of the maritime rights into the discussion. It was only Jackson's persuasion that induced the indignant Stewart not to demand his instant recall. 2
Meanwhile Aberdeen had gone imperturbably on his way. He had begun to discuss the treaty of Alliance, and Metternich encouraged him to believe that he would be able to complete this negotiation also on his own account, offering to be the intermediary with the Tsar. So great was Aberdeen's trust
1 "From Cathcart, Nov. 8, 1813": F.O. Supplement (Russia), 343; Nov. 10, 1813: B.D.36. "Jackson to Stewart, Nov. 11, 1813": B.D. 87; Nov. 8, 1813; "From Stewart, Nov. 15, 1813": F.O. Prussia, 91. Bath Archives, ii. 352-53. The report of Jacobi's caused much trouble and correspondence, as Castlereagh insisted on an explanation. Wessenberg attributed the unfortunate mistake, which had some influence on affairs at this crisis, to old age, lack of memory, an imperfect understanding of English, and an excessive itch for writing ( "Wessenberg to Metternich, Dec. 3, 1815": Vienna St. A.). Jacobi's dispatch had, as a matter of fact, been exaggerated in Berlin and the old gentleman never ceased to protest bitterly against the charge of misrepresentation made against him ( "Jacobi to Hardenberg, Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 3, 1813": Berlin St. A.).
2 "From Stewart, Nov. 28, 1813": B.D.89. Bath Archives, ii. 368, 371, 375.
in Metternich that he presumed to lecture Castlereagh on his insular suspicions. "Do not think Metternich such a formidable personage," he wrote on the 12th; "depend upon it, I have the most substantial reasons for knowing that he is heart and soul with us: but, my dear Castlereagh, with all your wisdom, judgment, and experience, which are as great as possible and which I respect sincerely, I think you have so much of the Englishman as not quite to be aware of the real value of foreign modes of acting. . . . Now do not be afraid of me. There is a sort of half confidence and intimacy which Ambassadors may enjoy which perhaps is likely to mislead. My intercourse with Metternich is of another description. Living with him at all times, and in all situations, is it possible I should not know him? If indeed he were the most subtle of mankind, he might certainly impose on one little used to deceive, but this is not his character. He is, I repeat it to you, not a very clever man. He is vain; but he is a good Austrian. He may, perhaps, like the appearance of negotiation a little too much, but he is to be trusted. . . . He is at this moment the main support of warlike measures."
With this view it was only natural that he should accept Metternich's assurances about the treaty of Alliance: "Prince Metternich considers the affair, so far as Austria is concerned, a work of supererogation: but he is not less anxious to fulfil the wishes of the British Government." It was with the Tsar, explained Metternich, that the difficulty lay. Cathcart had, indeed, been long trying, in vain, to overcome Alexander's objections to signing the treaty immediately; for the Tsar, apparently, viewed the whole proposal with profound suspicion. The demand to exclude Sweden, the Ambassador easily accepted, though both Stewart and Aberdeen protested; but to two other conditions he had not the authority, even if he had the desire, to agree. The Tsar wished the treaty to include the subsidies for the coming year and the details of the colonies which Britain would return for the sake of peace. He carried his suspicions so far that he even wished to insert a clause concerning the continuance of the British army in Spain. Moreover, he refused to accept the outline of the new Europe which Castlereagh had attached to the treaty. Various objections were made, but the motive was clear; and it was Metternich's as much, probably more, than the Tsar's. If Britain would not bind herself to details on the colonial side, why should the Allies do so on the continental? These were fundamental difficulties with which, we shall see, Castlereagh himself found it hard to deal and of which Cathcart had only just begun to perceive the importance. The discussions, therefore, dragged on without result throughout the month of November. The Tsar and Metternich, indeed, were much more interested in the consequences of St. Aignan's overture than in the treaty of Alliance.
Aberdeen had been quite ready to take on Cathcart's job as well as his own, and his senior shewed no jealousy. He relied on his intimacy and influence with Metternich, who left all the opposition to Nesselrode and professed himself ready to agree. When Nesselrode was stubborn, Metternich still assured his friend that he would "answer for makingNesselrode agree to it at last," adding, "And now, my dear A[berdeen], make my compliments to Lord Castlereagh and ask him what is the next proof of our zeal and confidence which he requires." 1
Aberdeen fully believed all these promises, though there is reason to suspect that the three Powers had already agreed that the treaty should not be signed forthwith. He boasted of them to Stewart and Jackson, who had already fulfilled their part by getting Hardenberg's consent to the Alliance in writing. But somehow the treaty hung fire. It was pushed on one side by numerous other matters, the preparations of war and the Declaration to the French people which Metternich was preparing. At last, on November 28, the Ambassador was able to announce triumphantly his complete success: "The treaty of General Alliance will positively be made forthwith. The difficulties have not been few or slight, but M[etternich] has made a point of bringing your unjust suspicions of Austria to shame. Now, pray observe, these are not fine words only but facts, and pretty important too. I await your amende honorable. There is only this difference,
1 From Cathcart, Nov. 11, 1813: B.D.37; F.O. Supplement (Russia), 343.
"From Aberdeen, Nov. 12, 1813": Balfour, Life, i. 154; Nov. 14, 1813: F.O. Austria, 103.
that the Emperor wishes the treaty should be executed in London. To this there can be no objection."
The Ambassador had, however, been completely gulled. He soon found that Metternich had promised more than he could perform, or, as we may suspect, than he ever intended. Russia continued to make the same objections, and in the final stages Metternich shewed himself also stubborn, insisting on the necessity of obtaining a list of the colonial conquests, without which he still lacked the necessary control over the negotiations for peace which he still hoped would soon begin. Russia also remained firm, and refused to compromise at the last minute when Cathcart, now that Hardenberg had promised to sign, still had hopes of success. Metternich professed the greatest concern at this unfortunate situation and offered Aberdeen a written undertaking of his readiness to accept the Alliance--a safe enough concession since Russia had prevented its signature. Aberdeen nobly refused this gift lest it might prejudice Metternich in the eyes of the Tsar, who had already other serious grievances against him. 1
The final dénouement caused an explosion at headquarters. It was decided by the three Powers to refer the whole matter to London. This step had been previously discussed, but its sudden adoption at this moment was due to the receipt of another note from Napoleon on December 5, signed by Caulaincourt (whose appointment to Maret's post was an earnest of peace), which accepted the Frankfort terms and asked that negotiations should be begun. Had it come earlier it might have been at once accepted; but the Tsar had become much less disposed to peace in the course of the last week, owing to Stein's arrival in Frankfort and to growing suspicions of Metternich. Nevertheless, some preparation must be made to discuss terms with Napoleon, and one of the difficulties was the position of the three representatives of Britain, who were not in agreement with one another and had not powers to act with authority. It was determined, therefore, to appeal to London, and special instructions of the greatest importance were sent by Pozzo di Borgo, who set
1 "From Cathcart, Nov. 17, 24, Dec. 4, 1813": B.D.39, 41, 45. "From Aberdeen, Nov. 25, 28, Dec. 4, 1813"; Balfour, Life, i. 162-67; Dec. 5, 1813: F.O. Austria, 103.
out on December 6, not only to get the project of the Alliance altered to include the subsidies and the colonial conquests, but also to ask that one person should be designated to represent Britain at headquarters with authority to make grave decisions. Metternich's letter to Wessenberg was especially insistent on this point. He had by this time apparently had enough of Aberdeen and hoped that either Wellesley or Canning would be sent out. Hardenberg, for his part, tried to impress Jacobi with the necessity of soothing British feelings on the question of maritime rights. 1
Even Aberdeen was not informed of these decisions until Pozzo di Borgo had left, and then only to a degree. Neither he nor Cathcart made much objection, since it was obvious that nothing more could be done at headquarters. But Stewart, who had been kept much more in the dark, was furious at this unexpected decision. When he was not immediately informed of Caulaincourt's note, he obtained it by bribing one of Metternich's clerks and sent Jackson home with instructions to get there before Pozzo di Borgo. Cathcart, whom neither Stewart's outbursts nor Aberdeen's secretiveness could ruffle, mildly deprecated this conduct, which naturally produced something like a sensation at headquarters. He had himself a much better idea of the whole position than either of his brother Ambassadors. It had been Metternich quite as much as the Tsar, in spite of all his protestations to Aberdeen, who had been responsible for the rejection of the treaty. "I have neither on this nor on any former occasion," Cathcart summed up, "found the Emperor so much averse to a general treaty of Alliance offensive and defensive, as proposed by your Lordship, as the Ministers are. The language of Prince Metternich on the subject of specifying in a treaty of this sort the conquests, which Great Britain would keep or bring into negotiation, has been stated. I do not see the object of calling for this declaration unless it be to take out of the hands of Great
1 "Metternich to Wessenberg, Dec. 6, 1813": Vienna St. A. "Nesselrode to Lieven, Dec. 6, 1813": Vienna St. A. "Hardenberg to Jacobi, Dec. 6, 1813": Berlin St. A. "From Cathcart, Dec. 9, 12, 1813": B.D.51, 55. "From Aberdeen, Dec. 9, 1813": B. D.118; do. F. O. Austria, 103. "Metternich to Hudelist, Dec. 16, 1813": Fournier, Congress von Châtillon, 246.
Britain the preponderance in the negotiations which must arise from the important circumstance of being the only Power which has conquests to restore. But His Imperial Majesty will not decide without the Allies to agree to this treaty, and although Prince Metternich attributes the opposition to Russia, he is the only person who is eloquent in supporting that opposition, and it neither occurred to the Emperor nor to Count Nesselrode till after consultation with him."
That Metternich should take this attitude was to be expected. He had as much right to wish to extend his influence over the negotiations as Castlereagh. That he cared but little for Belgium and much for Saxony and Poland was in the nature of things. But the deceit which he practised on Aberdeen was hardly fair towards one so honest and sincere; yet Aberdeen's self-confidence--indeed a harsher term is needed--above all, his desire to obtain the credit for the negotiations and to be put in a different position to Cathcart and Stewart, an ambition for which Lord Abercorn was largely responsible, deserved the punishment which they obtained. It is impossible not to agree with George Canning's view that he was "entirely unequal to his situation--probably from thinking himself imó suprà." Fortunately he never realised how much he had been Metternich's dupe; but the receipt of Full Powers, in which Cathcart's name by a natural routine decision was placed first, put the finishing touches to his discomfiture by reminding him that he was not in sole charge of Britain's interests. He would have carried out his desire to return home, for which he had also urgent private reasons, had not Metternich and Nesselrode previously informed him that they had asked that he should represent Britain at the impending negotiations. 1
Leipzig brought headquarters much nearer Castlereagh, but as Hamburg was still in French hands it was not until December that a short route was open to the Continent, and even then bad weather held up the Packets. He was thus too far off these extraordinary events to exercise control over them, and it was not until the close of the year that their
1 "From Cathcart, Dec. 12, 1813": B.D.55. Balfour. Life, i. 167, 173. Bath Archives, ii. 361. Lane Poole, Life of Stratford Canning, i. 202.
real significance became clear. The Leipzig victory naturally increased the desire and will for complete victory over Napoleon. New plans were made for Germany and, above all, for Holland. Indeed Holland was considered as of little use without its 'barrier,' which it was now hoped would comprise the whole of Belgium. While the Allies were still offering the 'natural frontiers,' public opinion in Britain had gone much further and was already looking forward to driving back France inside the 'ancient frontiers' from which she had emerged twenty years before. The ancient frontiers naturally turned men's minds to the ancient family, and the Bourbons were at length remembered as something more than unfortunate refugees. Whispers began which soon grew into murmurs, and before the year was out swelled into a loud uproar that Napoleon must be dethroned. They were loudest at Carlton House, but soon spread in all directions.
Castlereagh and his Cabinet shared these feelings, but they were more aware of the difficulties of translating them into fact through the armies of other Powers. Wellington was already crossing the Pyrenees. They wished to add to this pressure a British effort in the Netherlands. The Prince of Orange had been in England since the end of April, having travelled via Stockholm, where Bernadotte's good wishes had been added to those which he claimed to have received from the Tsar and the King of Prussia. His equivocal conduct in past years made him rather an unwelcome guest, and Bathurst at any rate would have preferred that his son, who continued to receive Wellington's warm praise, should be made the leader of any expedition. But the young Prince, though he visited England, refused to act in any way as the rival of his father, who, advised by the old Lord Malmesbury and Henry Fagel, behaved with discretion, and Castlereagh intimated that he was prepared to support him when the time was ripe.
Early in November a memorandum had been sent to the Allied Powers which stated that Holland was ripe for revolt and that steps were being taken to collect arms and even Dutch levies to assist it when it broke out. At the same time it was pointed out that, though the allied treaties specified the Rhine as the frontier of France, additions must be made to the Dutch state, at least the whole of the territories of 1792, as well as Antwerp and "an adequate military frontier," unless one of the great military Powers of Germany was interposed as a protection between France and Holland. Amongst other arguments used to induce the Allies to agree to this scheme were the importance of Holland "as the natural centre of the money transactions of Europe," and the fact that unless Britain felt secure from the threat of Antwerp she would have to develop her navy and thus be unable to assist the Continent with men and money in a future war. 1
If Austria wished to resume her old possessions in the Low Countries the British Government would, of course, have been ready to support her. But that was not very probable, and Austria was still considered the least likely of all the Allies to press the victory home. Indeed, when Parliament had assembled on November 4, she was put in the same para. graph with Bavaria in the King's speech, a slight which caused grave offence to both Francis and his Minister. But Castlereagh, however much he might criticise Metternich to Aberdeen, never intended the public to share his suspicions. He sent glowing congratulations to Metternich on the success of his negotiations with Bavaria, and when the Austrian subsidy treaty came before Parliament gave such a fervent defence of Austrian policy that even Wessenberg was moved to admiration. That Minister was, however, the last person to wish the war aims of the Allies to be extended, and reported with dismay that the British Ministry viewed the possibility of peace with anguish.
At any rate events could not wait on Austria. On November 15 a revolt broke out in Holland at the approach of Prussian and Russian troops from Bernadotte's army, and was immediately successful, perhaps as much from the disorganisation of
1 "Bathurst to Wellington, April 28, 1813": W.S.D. vii. 612. Minute of interview between the Prince of Orange and Castlereagh, April 27, 1813; Memorandum respecting Holland ( Nov. 7, 1813): Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vi. 1876, 1950. Professor H. T. Colenbrander great collection, Gedenkstukken der Algemeene Geschiedenis van Nederland van 1795 tot 1840 ( 22 vols., 1905-22), contains documents from many public and private archives, including the Foreign Office Papers in the Record Office. There is also an admirable study by G. J. Renier, Great Britain and the Establishment of the Netherlands, 1813-15 ( 1930), which is based on the larger work.
the French as from any great enthusiasm on the part of the inhabitants. But the cry of ' Oranje Boven' had been raised and William had obviously to act immediately. In great haste a British fleet and an improvised force was put at his disposal, together with £100,000 in hard cash, and he was soon established at the Hague, not as Stadtholder but in a new position as "Sovereign Prince," which implied that the old republic would be transformed into a monarchy. With him Castlereagh sent the most faithful and assiduous of all his assistants during these years--the Earl of Clancarty, who was so far from intending to embrace diplomacy as a profession that he still retained, for some time, the positions which he held in the Ministry. His intimacy and affection for Castlereagh were such that the most delicate matters could be discussed between them with perfect confidence-a fortunate circumstance with regard to Holland, which was to raise some very delicate matters indeed. Thus, though Clancarty had no diplomatic experience, and was in some ways a rather reactionary Tory, he was specially fitted for this post, in which, indeed, he won the affection and praise of the Dutch statesmen by his zealous care for their interests.
Though this great success acted like wine on the spirits of the nation it also brought a new charge on both British strategy and diplomacy, which was to cause much anxiety in the following months. The past history of British expeditions to Holland was not reassuring, and the present one was to win but little military glory. Moreover, it was essential that the Peninsular forces should not be weakened by it, unless, as at one moment Bathurst even hinted, the main British effort should be transferred to the north, and Wellington was not unnaturally alarmed at its possible effects. 1
More was hoped from Bernadotte's assistance. But he, after handing over Hanover to the Duke of Cumberland, preferred to prosecute his Danish plans and began to carry on a campaign in the north which had but little to do with the main operations against Napoleon. He deprecated moving across the Rhine and was at first strongly against the idea of
1 "Wessenberg to Metternich, Nov. 4, 12, 20, 22, 1813": Vienna St. A. "Bathurst to Wellington, Dec. 10, 1813": W.S.D. viii. 413. "Wellington to Bathurst, Dec. 21, 1813": Gurwood, xi. 386.
detaching from France the Belgian provinces, which he had himself helped to conquer. However, when he found himself left entirely out of the discussions by the allied monarchs, he yielded to Thornton's urgent entreaties, changed his tune, and said "that he was prepared to go to the utmost lengths with England in the support" of the Low Countries as an independent state, and admitted that he had previously been influenced "by a sort of repugnance at seeing the destruction of what might be considered as in part his own work." 1
Affairs in Hanover also went through a critical stage. For though it was perhaps better that the Duke of Cumberland, in spite of the official warning from Stewart not to go, had beaten Bernadotte by a short head and received the welcome of the inhabitants, he was not likely, if left in charge, to increase their loyalty to the absent King whom they had never seen. That it still existed in full measure, Stewart proved by reporting a touching anecdote of the preservation of George III.'s bust in the University of Hanover. The Duke only enjoyed his position for a month, when he was superseded by the Duke of Cambridge, who had been hastily dispatched with Münster for that purpose. Though the Prince Regent sent Bloomfield in advance to explain the royal command as tactfully as possible, the poor Duke was reduced to tears at the loss of his new honours. But he obeyed with many protestations of loyalty, and the Duke of Cambridge and Münster soon brought order to the Electorate. Wessenberg, though he did not completely agree with Münster's views, suggested to Metternich that the Hanoverian Minister was the man to complete the defeat of Stein. Castlereagh was by no means anxious that these thorny German questions should be raised before France was defeated, and secured Münster's promise that he would not press his views on the reconstruction of the Empire at this critical moment. Castlereagh saw clearly that some Federal bond was necessary to keep out French influence, but that the time was not ripe to solve so difficult a question. 2
1 From Thornton, Nov. 9, 13, 28, Dec. 10, 1813: F.O. Sweden, 84; Nov. 16, 1813: C.C. ix. 76.
2 The Duke of Cumberland to the Prince Regent, Nov. 9, 13, 26, Dec. 9, 1813; Bloomfield to the Prince Regent, Dec. 9, 1813; "Duke of Cam-bridge to the Prince Regent, Dec. 22, 1813"
When, therefore, the first news of the Frankfort proposals and the delay in the conclusion of the Alliance reached Castlereagh, the situation was already a strained and anxious one. He was naturally somewhat indignant at the Tsar's insistence on points which, he thought, he had already anticipated in his conversations with Lieven: "I cannot suppose that His Imperial Majesty can seriously expect us to propose to Parliament now to vote a scale of subsidy for an indefinite period of war, still less that we should disqualify ourselves from treating at all by stipulating by anticipation the surrender of our conquests--these suggestions would be inadmissible on the part of any Power, and are, to say the least, not very appropriate to a nation that has acted the part we have done. If these species of negotiation is persisted in, better at once decline the measure altogether. And I am yet to learn why Great Britain is more interested in cementing the Confederacy than Russia."
Of the Frankfort proposals Aberdeen's first dispatches only gave him an imperfect account, since St. Aignan's note was not included in them. He agreed to the basis of the 'natural frontiers' which Aberdeen had described, provided that the colonial conquests were employed to obtain what was necessary to the indefinite frontiers of Savoy and Holland, whose cause he particularly recommended. In a private letter he made no disguise of the unpopularity of any peace which did not confine France to her ancient limits or left Bonaparte on the throne. "We are still ready," he concluded, "to encounter with our Allies the hazards of peace, if peace can be made on the basis proposed; and we are not inclined to go out of our way to interfere in the internal government of France. . . ." He deplored the internal difficulties of the Confederacy, but pointed out the necessity of keeping it together. Above all, he pressed the necessity of wresting Antwerp from France in the well-known words: "The destruction of that arsenal is essential to our safety. To leave it in the hands of France is little short of impos-
bridge to the Prince Regent, Dec. 22, 1813: Windsor Arch. "Instructions to Münster from the Prince Regent, Dec. 9, 1813": F.O. Hanover, 6. "From Stewart, Nov. 2, 1813": F.O. Prussia, 90. "To Stewart, Dec. 4, 10, 1813": Lond. MSS.
ing upon Great Britain the charge of a perpetual war establishment."
The same point was made in a private letter to Cathcart: "We shall feel very anxious here whilst discussions are afloat. I trust you will all enter as warmly at headquarters about supporting Holland as we do here. I must beg you never to lose sight of Antwerp and its noxious contents--recommend also the Orange cause to the Emperor's warmest protection. The popular spirit which has shewn itself there I look upon as amongst the most fortunate events of the war. It has operated here as magical--there is nothing beyond the tone of the country at this moment."
He was naturally, therefore, indignant at the conduct in the north of the Prince Royal, who was refusing to co-operate in the attack on France and was trying to buy off Denmark with territory in north Germany which could not be disposed of except as part of the general settlement. "His language of 'Every one for himself' is an unworthy instrument," Castlereagh told Thornton, "till the enemy is effectually subdued . . . the only natural course, then, is to stir no unnecessary controversy, to finish the war with vigour, and to trust to the future for an equitable settlement amongst ourselves: in which settlement it is of the first importance that Sweden should receive her advantages beyond and not on this side of the Baltic. This is of the greatest consequence, both to the future independence and the peace of the north of Europe, which can never be permanently consolidated whilst the territories of Sweden and Denmark are morcelées and intermixed on the opposite coasts." 1
Bernadotte did not, however, send his troops south, and, though the position in Holland was well maintained, the Belgians shewed little disposition to emulate their northern neighbours. Nor were the Dutch people, apparently, as anxious as the Prince of Orange to extend their territory in that direction, and Clancarty much preferred that Austria should resume her ancient sway there, since the mutual
1 To Aberdeen, Nov. 30, 1813: B.D.114; Nov. 30 (Private): C.C. ix. 73 (where given as Nov. 13 in error). "To Cathcart, Nov. 30, 1813": F.O. Supplement (Russia), 343. "To Thornton, Nov. 30, 1813": F.O. Sweden, 80.
jealousy of Amsterdam and Antwerp, he thought, could never be overcome. Castlereagh shared this view to some extent at this time; but the great thing was action and military success somehow in the Netherlands, so that they might be taken from France. 1
The anxiety about Holland was naturally much increased when the details of the Frankfort proposals became known by the subsequent dispatches. Castlereagh did not, indeed, accept his brother's criticisms of the basis, because it left out such matters as Norway. Though Clancarty supported Stewart with much fervour, Castlereagh administered a diplomatic caution against excessive zeal. But he was deeply concerned at the omission of all reference to the 'barrier' which he wanted for Holland; indeed, he now objected entirely to the phrase 'natural frontiers,' and much more to its extension to a 'natural influence' over the smaller German states, which he rightly saw might be used by Napoleon to interfere in the reorganisation of Germany. Above all, he was alarmed at the reference to maritime rights, and Aberdeen was ordered to make at once an official protest against it in a note which was, to avoid error, drafted in London. A few days later he added to this an instruction that no negotiations were to take place until the exclusion of maritime rights was accepted. 2
His indignation had thus already grown considerably before he received the news of the failure of the negotiations for the Alliance by the arrival of Pozzo di Borgo with his instructions to the allied Ministers at London, and Jackson with his brother's warnings and entreaties. Apart from these protests, there could be no doubt of the attitude which Castlereagh would adopt. He would not even discuss officially the conditions which the Tsar and Metternich had laid down. They were peremptorily refused, and in unofficial interviews Castlereagh let the Ambassadors, and especially Lieven and Pozzo di Borgo, realise clearly what his feelings were on the subject. The whole purpose of his proposal, he said, had been mis-
1 "From Clancarty, Dec. 1, 14, 17, 1813": Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vii. 2, 9, 11.
2 "To Stewart, Dec. 10, 1813": Lond. MSS.; Dec. 17, 1813: B.D.92. "To Aberdeen, Dec. 7, 1813": B.D.116, 117.
understood and misrepresented. It was in the interests of the Continent that the proposal had been made, not in those of Great Britain, who had shewn that she could look after herself. If he could be sure that Napoleon would no longer rule over France, he would never have advanced it: "But whilst Bonaparte shall continue to rule France, perhaps even while the system itself, which he has matured, shall continue to give impulse to the military resources of that great Empire, the only safety for other Powers of Europe is to impose upon the ambitious propensities of France that constraint in time of peace, to which alone they will owe the concessions, which may by war be extracted from the enemy." 1
The only point which he yielded to the views of his allies was to limit the Alliance, in the first instance, to the Great Powers, a step which he now perceived was logical and necessary. Thornton had already protested against Sweden's exclusion from any knowledge of the negotiation. The Prince Royal, however, knew a good deal of what was going on, and in his indignation insinuated that the three Powers wished "to bring Great Britain alone, without an ally, into the Congress for a general peace, and by that circumstance to find themselves in a condition to dictate the terms of peace to Great Britain, meaning to threaten her, in case of refusal, with the same exclusion from the Continent which she suffered under Bonaparte, and, in fact, to renew against her that man's continental system." Even Thornton could not take this gasconade very seriously, though he supported Bernadotte in his main contention. But Castlereagh had already dismissed Sweden's claims to be included in the negotiations, since the treaty would probably assume the form of contracting to furnish "stipulated succours" which would "far exceed her means.""The repugnance," he added, "to including the Allies generally has naturally increased since their number has been so largely augmented. It is not so much a reluctance to provide for the interests of the Allies generally as the inconvenience of multiplying the councils of the Confederacy which is felt as an objection to the original Projet." He had
1 To Cathcart, Dec. 18, 1813: B.D.56. "Wessenberg to Metternich, Dec. 12, 13, 1813": Vienna St. A.
already expressed to Rehausen, the Swedish Minister in London, his doubts as to the possibility of Sweden being included in the treaty in her own interests, and Thornton was ordered to take the same line and calm "the susceptibility which prevails in the temper of the Swedish Councils and weakens their just influence and counteracts the objects they have in view." 1
But though this difficulty was adjusted, there was no hope of concluding the Alliance at London, for the Ambassadors had no powers to deal with Castlereagh's main criticisms. The only step which they could take was one which Castlereagh insisted should be done at once, viz. to send him formal notes agreeing to the exclusion of maritime rights from the discussions. For the rest, they supplied him with a Projet de Traité de l'Alliance, which they considered embodied the views of their Courts, so that he might draw up his own instructions in the light of it. This precious document restricted the Alliance to the present war and made a large number of demands, besides those connected with the colonies and subsidies, which shewed a marked distrust of Britain, even including the stipulation that Wellington should continue his offensive in France.
It was clear that British policy needed better exposition on the Continent than it had obtained in the last year. The Cabinet, therefore, found no difficulty in agreeing to the demand that the negotiations there should be placed in a single and authoritative hand. The confusion and uncertainty that had arisen was obviously partly due to the quarrels between the British representatives. None of them were adequate to a crisis in which the whole future of the Continent was involved. The delay in receiving views and transmitting instructions made it impossible to control them from London. Someone must be present on the spot who could speak with commanding authority. This could be none other than Castlereagh, whose two years of work had already won the confidence of all his colleagues. He did, indeed, suggest Harrowby, but that shrewd statesman remembered his experiences in 1806,
1 From Thornton, Nov. 29, Dec. 16, 1813; "to Thornton, Dec. 17, 1813": F.O. Sweden, 84, 80.
and with modesty and good sense insisted that Castlereagh himself should go. This decision was made on December 20 after a long Cabinet meeting, and Liverpool informed the allied representatives at a dinner-party the next day that Castlereagh had been chosen because he not only knew all the ideas of the Government but had their full confidence. They hastened to emphasise the importance of the choice to their Governments, dwelling on Castlereagh's delightful manners, but not concealing that he would bring his own views to the Council in a manner that they could scarcely forecast. 1
So it was decided, and every day shewed the need to be more urgent. Metternich's attempts at settling the Danish question by diplomacy had naturally alarmed Bernadotte, who refused all help in Holland and wished to allow Davoust's force to return to France so as to get them away from the Danes. "His conduct," reported Colonel Lake, "makes me really sick." Thornton endeavoured to excuse him at Austrian expense, but it was clear that he had no desire to do more than secure his own objects. News had also begun to arrive of the dispute between the Tsar and Metternich over Switzerland. Metternich got his way by engineering a mild revolution, and the allied armies were thus able to infringe Swiss neutrality without opposition. But the Tsar, who had promised La Harpe to protect his birthplace, was much mortified. Though the negotiations with Murat were going well, German questions were giving anxiety, and Aberdeen wrote that "one of our new friends clearly deserves hanging," meaning the King of Wurtemberg, who had entered into a clandestine correspondence with Napoleon. 2
Ere this letter reached him, Castlereagh had set out for the Continent. He announced his intending arrival to his three Ambassadors in letters which shewed the greatest attention
1 "Lieven to Nesselrode, Dec. 22, 1813": Pet. Arch. "Wessenberg to Metternich, Dec. 22, 25, 1813": Vienna St. A. "Jacobi to Hardenberg, Dec. 19, 24, 26, 1813", enclosing Projet de Traité de l'Alliance. Memorandum des plénipotentiaires de la Russie, de l'Autriche et de la Prusse. Berlin St. A.
2 "From Stewart, Dec. 9, 1813": F.O. Prussia, 91. "From Aberdeen, Dec. 24, 1813": Lond. MSS. The caution of the editor had altered this expression in C.C. ix. 110.
to their feelings. He praised what they had done, glossed over their faults, and attributed their rivalries to the inevitable friction of diplomacy, taking blame to himself that he had not arranged for them to work more closely together. Stewart and Aberdeen were encouraged to go on as if nothing had happened. He wrote as a colleague rather than a superior. "I feel confident," ran the letter to his brother, "that when we all get together at headquarters we shall give to the whole the ensemble it requires." 1
1 To Cathcart, Dec. 22, 1813; "to Aberdeen, Dec. 22, 1813": B.D. 62, 120.
"To Stewart, Dec. 21, 1813": Lond. MSS.
FROM COALITION TO ALLIANCE: RECONSTRUCTION PLANNED, JANUARY-APRIL, 1814
1. CASTLEREAGH'S MISSION TO THE CONTINENT.
2. THE TREATY OF CHAUMONT.
3. THE RESTORATION OF THE BOURBONS.
4. BENTINCK AND MURAT.
"Aucun homme n'était plus propre que Lord Castlereagh à remplir une parcille mission. . . . Avec son caractère, avec ses instructions, on pouvait dire de lui que c'était Angleterre elle-même qui se déplaçait pour se rendre au camp des coalisés."--THIERS.
1. CASTLEREAGH'S MISSION TO THE CONTINENT
PEACE now seemed to be fast approaching. Indeed, in some quarters it was expected that it would be practically concluded before Castlereagh arrived on the scene. The Cabinet only gave him leave of absence to the beginning of March. The situation was by no means clear; but the Frankfort proposals were so moderate an offer that it was expected that Napoleon would soon accept them. At any rate, events seemed likely to move very quickly, and the Government agreed to the view, which their Allies had so definitely ex. pressed, that their representative must have power to make the most vital decisions as to peace or war without reference home. The instructions on which he was to act were therefore of great importance, and deserved and obtained the earnest consideration of the Cabinet. Castlereagh prepared for them by obtaining from Lieven, Jacobi, and Wessenberg a statement of the views of their Courts so far as they knew them, but these were, of course, already out of date, and the reports of his own Ambassadors were conflicting and inadequate. In these circumstances he was, no doubt, anxious to obtain as wide a latitude as possible. Thus while he went over the points with his colleagues in several long Cabinets, the document in which the decisions were finally embodied--a Cabinet memorandum passed at a meeting in which the whole Cabinet except Camden were present, and signed by the Prince Regent--was neither so comprehensive nor so explicit as might have been expected. The sentences appear to have been drafted on different occasions as a result of Cabinet debates, for there is but little order and arrangement, and the same topic is repeated. They were, indeed, an obviously hastily compiled résumé of points which had been discussed in the Cabinet meetings, and there was no attempt to make them into a complete and formal document. 1
Since the exclusion of all discussion of maritime rights had already been admitted by the allied Ambassadors, his attention was mainly directed to two points--the 'barrier' to Holland, especially Antwerp, and the colonial conquests on which the Allies had so long desired to be informed. The first was now the cardinal point of British policy. The Frankfort proposals seemed to leave Antwerp and Belgium in French hands, and but little progress had been made by the British force in Holland to remedy the situation. It was Castlereagh's main task to see that Antwerp, the Netherlands, and as much of the left bank of the Rhine as possible should be taken from France. Italy and the Peninsula must also be free, but these objects had now been specifically agreed to by the Allies if not by Napoleon. But the fate of Belgium was, to say the least, still doubtful. Nor could it be assumed that it would be added to Holland, even if France was compelled to surrender it, since Austria had not yet definitely abandoned all her old rights and might wish to place an Austrian Archduke there. Such a proposal would have been welcomed, but it was not expected. The great point was to wrest as much of Belgium as possible from French control.
It was for this purpose that Castlereagh was instructed to use the colonial conquests. If the Allies agreed about Belgium, then Britain was prepared to use these to procure French assent. Both her French and Dutch colonial conquests were to be used for this purpose. Holland could not be given back her possessions unless her independence was made secure, while France must be induced to consent to the sacrifice of Belgium by getting back what she could not otherwise obtain. It was left to Castlereagh to decide how far the 'barrier' was satisfactory, and the restorations were to be proportionate to the territory secured. The marriage of the Hereditary Prince of Orange to Princess Charlotte, already
1 Memorandum of Cabinet, Dec. 26, 1813: B.D.123; Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vii. 16.
confidentially proposed, was now to be officially suggested to his father and to the Allies, but this was not to influence the negotiations in any other respect.
It was also stated, though less explicitly, that the conclusion of the Alliance guaranteeing the new Europe from attack by France was a condition of the restoration of the conquests. As a result of the criticisms of the Allies it was agreed that the casus fderis should be confined to Europe, and in deference to the Tsar's wish, that Sweden should not be included in the first instance, though it was still suggested that both Spain and Holland might join as original members of the Alliance.
The treaty of Alliance was "not to terminate with the war, but to contain defensive engagements with mutual obligations to support the Powers attacked by France with a certain extent of stipulated succours." It was meant, of course, to protect Europe from Napoleon, who throughout was assumed to be the ruler of France after peace had been made.
For these two great objects, Belgium and the Alliance, the colonial conquests were to be bargained. Not all were to be given back, for some were held to be essential to the strategic security of the Empire. None were claimed on other grounds, though some had now been for a long time in the hands of the British, and British traders and planters had begun to invest capital there. On this matter there was some difference of opinion in the Cabinet, and Castlereagh was subsequently ordered to retain one French colony, Tobago, and the Dutch settlements of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice in Guiana, but the principle on which the Cabinet proceeded is well stated in the instructions and in a document on the maritime peace which was drawn up a little later: "Great Britain has declared her disposition with certain exceptions to sacrifice these conquests for the welfare of the Continent, being desirous of providing for her own security by a common arrangement rather than by an exclusive accumulation of strength and resources. Her object is to see a maritime as well as a military balance of power. . . . [The Government] do not desire to retain any of these colonies for their mere commercial value--too happy if by their restoration they can give other states an additional motive to cultivate the arts of peace." 1 This was, perhaps, putting the matter on rather a high plane, but it was substantially true and reveals how little the Cabinet was moved by commercial sentiments.
The conquests which were to be retained included, of course, Malta, to which Napoleon had already agreed, the Cape, Mauritius, Bourbon, Les Saintes, and Guadeloupe, which was required for Sweden. These exceptions were made as a result of the experience of the war, being claimed by the Admiralty as essential bases for the squadrons. In the case of the Cape it was admitted that the cession was substantial, and an offer of two million pounds was to be made to Holland for it, which she was to use in fortifying her new possessions against France. The Danish colonies in the West Indies were to be restored subject to Denmark's agreeing to Sweden's terms.
It was Holland rather than France which gained by these surrenders, though the West Indian colonies were rich possessions. The return of the Dutch East Indies, where Stamford Raffles had already begun to make his mark, testified to the truth of the principle by which the Cabinet claimed to be actuated. It should be noted that no conditions were laid down as to opening the trade of the restored colonies to Britain, though it might be presumed that it would remain a monopoly of the mother countries. Such a stipulation was doubtless felt to be too dangerous a precedent. Nor was anything said as to the Abolition of the Slave Trade to these colonies, which of course had been brought about by their capture by Britain. This was an omission against which Wilberforce and his friends were soon to make protest. 2
While Britain's special interests were carefully considered, it was perhaps only natural that the instructions dealt with the continental objects very sketchily. In Italy it was hoped to gain as much of Savoy as possible to protect the military
1 Memorandum on the Maritime Peace, B.D.126. An undated document which in my British Diplomacy I placed rather too early. It was written after the news of the Danish peace (Jan. 14), but it sums up the discussions of the Cabinet memorandum of Dec. 26, 1813.
2 An estimate was made at the time of the value of the West Indian conquests, including the slaves, as follows: French, £31,048,000; Dutch, £39,157,540; Danish, £5,014,440: F.O. Great Britain, 25.
line of the Alps, and it was considered "highly expedient" that Piedmont should be restored to its King and perhaps also incorporate Genoa so that it could act as a buffer against France. The Pope also was to be restored, while Tuscany and Elba were suggested as compensation for the Sicilian family if Austria "connected herself" with Murat. Nothing was said as to Germany, except that Britain was to offer her "mediation." Hanoverian claims were not even mentioned. Five million pounds were placed at Castlereagh's disposal as subsidies for the coming year, provided that British interests in Holland and the Peninsula were safeguarded in a treaty with the Allies. For the rest, so long as French power was reduced, the Cabinet did not feel much interest, and Castlereagh was left a free hand, of which, as will be seen, he took full advantage. He was authorised to state that Britain was prepared to make peace with the United States on the principle of the status quo ante bellum, if the continental Powers pressed for information on this point.
The omission of one question of great importance is not easily explained. Nothing was said as to the possibility of dethroning Napoleon. It was, indeed, assumed throughout that the peace was to be made with him. This subject must have been brought up in the Cabinet discussions, for it was already a topic of discussion in the Press and in political circles. But Liverpool and Castlereagh were, as will be seen, convinced that the time was not yet ripe to open it, and it was probably felt by all that so delicate a matter should be left out of a formal document which it was possible might be laid before Parliament. Nor was it yet realised how much the ancient frontiers and the ancient family were connected together.
While these instructions were being drafted anxious news continued to arrive. Bernadotte's conduct in the north was especially viewed with the greatest distrust. The Austrian mediation had apparently delayed the signature of peace with Denmark, and meanwhile Bernadotte refused all help to Sir Thomas Graham's force in Holland, which met with a decided check. Castlereagh sent to Thornton an unusually angry dispatch, inveighing against Bernadotte's actions which "can not longer be tolerated," and even threatening to suspend the subsidy if he did not join in the attack in the Low Countries, or at least detach some of his forces for that purpose. "We are all in arms here against the Prince Royal," he wrote to his brother in a hasty note. "The reinforcement of Antwerp and Bergen-op-Zoom, whilst His Royal Highness breaks faith three times, as I enumerate to Thornton, has exhausted all our temper. . . . There never was such a cruel disappointment. The withdrawal of Blücher from Cologne and the P.R.'s promenades on the Elbe seem to have been most ingeniously combined to ruin our greatest objects." 1
This was his mood when he set out on the 28th. His wife accompanied him to the Hague, where she was to remain until April, despite her repeated entreaties to join him at headquarters. To assist him, Castlereagh had Robinson, later Viscount Goderich and Earl of Ripon, then Treasurer of the Navy and a Privy Councillor, who was thus competent to possess secrets though not likely to dispute the authority of his chief. Planta also went with him and two other Foreign Office clerks, a small enough staff for duties so onerous and under conditions so difficult, as Hamilton soon confessed. Fog and calms held up his ship so that he was able at the last minute to receive important communications from Liverpool and Bathurst of Wellington's views on the Bourbons. This did not affect the decision which Liverpool and Castlereagh had already reached, that nothing could be attempted for the present. 2
At the Hague he discussed with the Prince of Orange the marriage and the problems of succession which it involved. He secured his assent to all the propositions of his instructions, and persuaded him without difficulty to leave his case in British hands at headquarters. The rest of his journey was
1 To Thornton, Dec. 17, 1813: : F.O. Sweden, 80. To Stewart, Dec. 24, 1813: Lond. MSS.
2 Castlereagh's personal expenditure of £10,546 seems little enough when the length and circumstances of the mission are taken into account. The fog which enveloped London in darkness for several days became famous for its intensity and long duration. It was a prelude to one of the most severe winters Britain and Western Europe ever experienced. The Thames was frozen so hard that cards were printed and oxen roasted on it. The Rhine was also frozen. For the question of the Bourbons, see below, Section 3, p. 235.
made at express speed over the wretched roads, and only one night was spent at an inn. 1
Special orders had been given by the impatient Allies to expedite his journey, and he took all the post-horses for the four carriages of his little party. He had, however, time for reflection, and we know something of the designs which were in his mind. They went far beyond his instructions. He regarded himself as something more than a British Minister concerned only in British interests. These were part of the general interests of Europe, and Castlereagh, no less than Pitt, could not separate one from the other. Above all, he regarded himself as a mediator in the continental disputes, of which he had already only too much information, and one of his great desires was to bring harmony between the rival parties.
"In the course of our journey from Frankfort to Bâle," wrote Lord Ripon, "he stated to me that one of the great difficulties which he expected to encounter in the approaching negotiations would arise from the want of an habitual confidential and free intercourse between the Ministers of the Great Powers as a body; and that many pretensions might be modified, asperities removed, and the causes of irritation anticipated and met, by bringing the respective parties into unrestricted communications common to them all, and embracing in confidential and united discussions all the great points in which they were severally interested."
Thus early did he emphasise the importance of the new method of diplomacy that had grown out of the war, the frank and formal, though confidential, discussion of the most delicate problems directly between the principal statesmen. Only by that means, he thought, could he solve the difficult questions of reconstruction, which had already begun to cause doubt and suspicion, and he hoped that the representative of Britain, which had no direct interest in the Continent, might play an important part in reconciling the interests of others. He was as yet unaware how formidable the task was to be, but he was to shew himself peculiarly fitted for the work which he was now called upon to perform. The Earl of
1 To Liverpool, Jan. 8, 1814: C.C. ix. 152. Klinkowström, Oesterreicks Theilnahme, 222. To his wife, Appendix, pp. 503-504.
Ripon gave him no more than his due when he added: "No man was ever better calculated so to transact business himself and to bring others to act with him in such a manner than Lord Londonderry. The suavity and dignity of his manners, his habitual patience and self-command, his considerate tolerance of difference of opinion in others, all fitted him for such a task; whilst his firmness, when he knew he was right, in no degree detracted from the influence of his conciliatory demeanour." 1
The next three months were to test these qualities fully. The task of obtaining peace on terms Britain could accept, while at the same time harmonising the councils of the coalition, could, indeed, be only partly fulfilled. It was carried on in the most difficult circumstances. Headquarters was?in the midst of enemy territory, and sovereigns, generals, and statesmen alike were constantly harassed by the rigour of the climate and the uncertainty of the military situation. They were deprived of almost all personal comfort and their councils were often cut short by the hazard of war.
The mission reached Bâle on January 18 and caused some amusement by its warlike exterior. " Planta does nothing but flourish about with a long sword and a military cloak," wrote a pert observer, "while the noble Viscount himself presses the war in a pair of red breeches and jockey boots amerced of their tops." He was soon in the thick of intimate discussions, for he was impatiently awaited by all concerned. Aberdeen, no less than Stewart and Cathcart, described his arrival as "providential," so thorny had the problems become. Metternich, who awaited him at Bâle, wrote to Hudelist that such a mission was without precedent, and claimed that headquarters had become the world centre. Hardenberg was also there; but the Tsar had moved forward to the armies which were now far advanced into France. He left word with Cathcart entreating Castlereagh to join him and, if possible, to refuse all previous consultation with others. This was ominous of the relations between the Tsar and Metternich, but at least neutralised the insinuation which the latter
1 The Earl of Ripon to the Marquess of Londonderry ( Charles Stewart), July 6, 1839: C.C. i. 128.
inspired Aberdeen to make to Castlereagh that the Tsar had purposely avoided him. Stein also wrote to Stewart to warn Castlereagh against Metternich, to whom the warning was betrayed, thus increasing their mutual dislike. Castlereagh could have no doubt of the atmosphere of suspicion and distrust which pervaded headquarters. 1
However, though these suspicions were soon apparent in the intimate conversations which he had with Metternich, Stadion, and Hardenberg, yet there was much on which he could congratulate himself. Metternich did not wish for territory on the Rhine and had already refused the offer of Alsace made by the Tsar to obtain Galicia. He accepted, however, Castlereagh's views on the Netherlands, and was also prepared to consider the question of depriving France of the left bank of the Rhine to Düsseldorf, though he had been previously opposed to all such claims. Hardenberg was, of course, anxious to go as far as possible, and supplied Castlereagh with many statistics of his plans for the reconstruction of Prussia. In these circumstances Castlereagh was inclined to bring Prussia beyond the Rhine, a course which Stewart advocated in long dispatches which shew the influence of the Prussian General Staff. He also reminded the Cabinet that this idea was a favourite one of Pitt's. All this was satisfactory, and even on the problems of Poland and Saxony he was optimistic, though in this case it was because he had received from Cathcart a dispatch giving him an entirely erroneous impression of the Tsar's intentions. 2
At the same time he could not disguise that in other matters the situation was exceedingly dangerous. Not only were Bernadotte's strange actions causing grave suspicion, but the Tsar was accused of wishing to make him the ruler of France. Metternich's indignation was extreme and he at once raised the subject. Not one Austrian, he insisted, would
1 Lane Poole, Life of Stratford Canning, i. 203. From "Aberdeen, Jan. 6, 1814": C.C. ix. 142; Balfour, Life, i. 177. "Metternich to Hudelist, Jan. 3, 1814": Fournier, Congress von Châtillon, 248. Seeley, Life of Stein, iii. 222. From Cathcart, Jan. 8. 1814: C.C. ix. 149.
2 "Hardenberg to Castlereagh, Jan. 22, 1814": F.O. Cont. Arch., 5. From Stewart, Jan. 10, 1814: W.S.D. viii. 498; Jan. 14, 1814: F.O. Prussia, 96. From "Aberdeen, Jan. 9, 1813": W.S.D. viii. 528. From "Cathcart, Jan. 16. 1814": C.C. ix. 171.
move forward for such an object. Castlereagh took the opportunity of this confidence to discuss the whole question of the future government of France. He was able by condemning the Tsar's project to secure also the repudiation of the idea of a Regency, which it was suspected Austria desired, and to reduce the alternatives to Napoleon or the Bourbons, the latter being preferable if France desired it, but not otherwise. It was decided, however, that it was neither politic nor honourable to take part in an attempt to overthrow Napoleon while they were in negotiation with him.
That an attempt must be made to negotiate a peace with Napoleon both were agreed. Indeed, Metternich had already answered Caulaincourt's impatient inquiries from Lunéville that he was only awaiting Castlereagh's arrival to instruct his plenipotentiaries. Caulaincourt's answers insisted that as Aberdeen had already agreed to the Frankfort proposals, which Napoleon had accepted, he could see no reason for delay. But the Frankfort proposals were now not only opposed by Prussia but by the Tsar. Alexander had, indeed, wished to exclude France from all knowledge of the arrangements beyond her own limits. Castlereagh considered this proposal as too strong a measure, "calculated to give Bonaparte popular grounds on which to refuse the terms to be proposed, and bearing too much the character of a blind and dishonourable capitulation, as the security or insecurity of any given extent of limits must depend on the relative state of possession in which the other Powers, at least those of the first order, are to be left." He wished, therefore, that the outline of the new Europe should be agreed upon and communicated to Caulaincourt, who was not, however, to be allowed to discuss and criticise the whole. The terms were to be given as an ultimatum, which, as at Prague, he was to be called upon to accept or reject within a given time. 1
Metternich had, no doubt, his own views on the expediency of this scheme, but for the moment he allowed Castlereagh
1 "Aberdeen to Bathurst, Jan. 20, 1814": Bathurst, 263. To "Liverpool, Jan. 22": W.S.D. viii. 535; Jan. 22: C.C. ix. 185; Jan. 22, 1814: B.D. 137. Thornton's last account had, however, asserted, though with some hesitation, that Bernadotte was now prepared to accept the Bourbons: "I think I can venture to say that he does not now at least look to the highest place."(From Thornton, Dec. 27, 1813: F.O. Sweden, 84.)
to think it possible, and the Ministers moved forward to headquarters at Langres to obtain the agreement of the Tsar. Each had made a good impression on the other, as their intimate correspondence shews. Castlereagh had obtained Metternich's consent to most of his own programme, while Metternich found great relief in the authority and energy of Castlereagh, and already regarded him as his ally to restrain the impetuous actions of the Tsar. 1
Of these, Castlereagh was soon made aware at Langres, which he reached on January 25. Here took place his first real diplomatic battle, which lasted five days and ended in establishing some sort of political and strategic unity amongst the Allies. It began with two frank conversations with the Tsar--the first of many such in the course of the next two years. Castlereagh at once broached the question of Bernadotte, and though the Tsar denied that he had given occasion for the rumours, he made no secret of the fact that he desired neither peace with Bonaparte nor the return of the Bourbons. Let the allied armies press on to Paris, he said, and France could choose her own ruler. Castlereagh, while anxious that military operations should go on, insisted that negotiations must be begun with Caulaincourt, while at the same time he defended the Bourbons. The Austrians would not consent to march unless negotiations were opened, and, though Castlereagh was not yet sure of Metternich's views, he agreed with him entirely on this point. The political distrust was embittered by military disputes, for the Tsar had no confidence in Schwarzenberg's judgment, and in this attitude he was supported by the Prussian generals. For the solution of this deadlock Castlereagh advocated the method which he had already explained to Robinson on his way to Bâle. "I cannot but feel," he wrote after two days, "extremely anxious for a discussion face to face, perceiving how progressively points of difference are exaggerated in unofficial interviews."
1 Metternich to Hudelist, Jan. 23, 1814: "Ich bien ausserst zufrieden mit ihm, und ich darf mir schmeicheln, auch er mit mir " ( Fournier, Congress, 251). Metternich to Schwarzenberg. Jan. 21, 1813: " Lord Castlereagh est ici et j'en suis fort content. Il a tout; aménité, sagesse, modération. Il me convient de toute manière et j'ai la conviction de lui convenir également" ( Klinkowström, Oesterreichs Theilnahme, 800).
What was needed was a formal council of all the four Powers, so that the whole matter could be thrashed out with all parties represented.
It was some time before the Tsar gave way. But he found almost everyone at headquarters opposed to him. Metternich, indeed, went so far as to threaten a separate peace unless consent was given to negotiation, and his Emperor supported him. Eventually the Tsar agreed that discussions should be begun, and a conference of the Ministers was summoned as Castlereagh had desired. In the interval he had had much conversation with Metternich on the Tsar's Polish plans, and realised how extensive were the Russian claims and how deep their differences with Metternich went. Austrian and British fears on this point were mutual and naturally brought them to look at other matters from a similar point of view. " Castlereagh behaves like an angel," wrote Metternich to Schwarzenberg.
Alexander also shewed himself anxious to get in the closest touch with Britain. He accepted an invitation, which he-erroneously--considered the Prince Regent had sent him, to visit England, and meanwhile asked that his dearly loved sister, Catherine, should precede him. She was to cause much trouble there, but for the moment her visit was accepted as a sign of friendship, and Castlereagh took steps to secure that the necessary attentions should be paid to the distinguished guest. 1
It was good news too that Denmark, on January 14, at last signed a peace with Sweden and Britain. She gave up Norway, and in return received monetary compensation and Swedish Pomerania. Britain gave her back her West Indian colonies but kept Heligoland, which had been so useful a base during the war. Danish troops were taken into British pay to the tune of £400,000 per annum, a bribe which was not relished in London. Still, it was hoped that Bernadotte's army would soon appear in force on the right wing of the
1 To "Liverpool, Jan. 29, 1814": B.D.138; Jan. 30, 1814: C.C. ix. 212. To the "Prince Regent, Jan. 30, 1814": C.C. ix. 210. "Metternich to Schwarzenberg, Jan. 30, 1814":
Klinkowström, Oesterreichs Theilnahme, 805. From Stewart, Jan. 27, 1814: C.C. ix. 536. Fournier, Congress, 56 ff. Oncken, "Lord Castlereagh und die Minister-conferenz zu Langres," Hist. Tasch., Sechste Folge, Jahrgang 4, 34-40.
Allies and make easier the final overthrow of Napoleon which now seemed imminent.
The first formal council of the coalition met on the morning of the 28th. The military situation was first considered, and the Austrians proposed a cessation of hostilities while negotiations were going on. Castlereagh's opposition was naturally supported by the Russians and Prussians, and Metternich was easily overborne. In return, Castlereagh enabled Metternich to carry his point that negotiations should be begun with Caulaincourt, and thus the whole question of the terms to be offered came up for discussion.
It took some time before they could be settled. Castlereagh claimed that the progress of the war since November entitled the Allies to lay down an entirely different basis from that offered at Frankfort, and that France must be reduced substantially to her ancient limits. Metternich demurred at first, but eventually agreed, only stipulating that some concessions in Savoy and the left bank of the Rhine should be offered, if necessary, so as to fulfil the promise made in the allied Declaration of December 1. Castlereagh was satisfied with this great advance. "We may now be considered, "he reported, "as practically delivered from the embarrassments of the Frankfort proposals."
The method had then to be found of carrying out the negotiation on this basis. It was decided to send joint instructions to the negotiators at Châtillon embodying a draft treaty. Castlereagh was alone in insisting that this should give information to the French on the outline of the new Europe. He defended his action on the grounds that any other course would dishonour France; but, as soon appeared, he had another object in view. He wished to force his Allies to an agreement as well as Napoleon, having already learnt how dangerous their controversies about Saxony, Poland, and other points had become. He hoped to get these settled in outline immediately, not yet realising that over a year would have to elapse before so great a task could be accomplished. The others, however, agreed to his demand, though, as we know, with little hope of satisfying it. In return, Castlereagh could do no less than offer to specify, in accordance with his instructions, the colonial conquests which Britain would restore to obtain a continental settlement of this nature. 1
This discussion cleared the air, and Castlereagh was able to report that temper all round had improved "from the natural vent which this species of Cabinet has afforded to the diverging sentiments of the respective Governments." But in the two further conferences which followed (January 30 and 31) it was found impossible to work out the principles which had been adopted, and the instructions drafted by Metternich were exceedingly vague. Castlereagh could, indeed, claim that on several points he had secured what he wanted. Caulaincourt was to be informed that the maritime rights were to be excluded from the discussions, and when Metternich's drafting of this paragraph seemed unsatisfactory, since it implied the existence of a British maritime law as distinct from common maritime law, Castlereagh was allowed to choose his own phrasing. Moreover, the document distinctly laid down the ancient limits as the basis of the discussion with France, though these might be modified by mutual agreement in return for "compensations"--a word which Castlereagh preferred to "restitutions"--made by Britain out of her colonial conquests. He was, at any rate, now practically assured of the Netherlands to the Meuse by all the Allies, and could write to Clancarty to authorise the Prince of Orange to encourage the inhabitants to look to him as their future sovereign. 2
But the information on the disposition of the territories conquered by France was meagre in the extreme. The Allies were far from any agreement on the subject. The importance of this part of the document lay in its indication of the great changes which were almost unconsciously being made in the principles of the European polity. The Allies claimed to represent not only themselves but all Europe, and they intended to settle all the main points by themselves. As
1 From "Thornton, Jan. 14, 15, 1814": F.O. Sweden, 90. To Liverpool, Jan. 29, 1814: B.D.141.
2 To "Liverpool, Feb. 1, 1814": F.O. Continent, 2. First instructions for the Plenipotentiaries at Châtillon, Feb. 2, 1814: Fournier, Congress, 306. To "Metternich, Jan. 29, 1814": C.C. ix. 203. To "Clancarty, Feb. 1, 1814": C.C. ix. 224.
yet, however, they had made hardly any progress. They could therefore give only the vaguest outline of what that Europe was to be, which they yet claimed to represent and control. "The great European Powers actually existing," as they called themselves in a significant phrase, would decide their own limits amongst themselves. Nothing more could be said except that Switzerland and Holland should be free, the latter receiving an increase of territory, while Italy and Germany should be composed of independent states, the former "between the possessions of France and Austria," the latter "united by a federal bond." All the disputed points in the settlement were left out--the disposition of Saxony, Poland, and the left bank of the Rhine was unknown. These questions were to be finally settled at a Congress to be held at Vienna, at which both the Tsar and the King of Prussia promised to be present. Castlereagh was far from satisfied, and he therefore refused to specify in detail the colonial restorations, though he indicated verbally the line he should take.
In the course of this statement he laid down some very important principles. The colonial restorations, he said, were made not only to obtain peace with France but also a peaceful Europe. He made, indeed, three conditions for their surrender: (1) "that France should submit to retire, if not literally, substantially within her ancient limits"; (2) "that Great Britain should have an assurance by an amicable arrangement of limits between the three Great Powers, that, having reduced France by their union, they were not likely to re-establish her authority by differences amongst themselves"; (3) "that we should be satisfied that the arrangements in favour of the Powers of whose interests we were more especially the guardians were likely to be attended to, and especially those of Holland and Sicily--the point of Spain being abandoned by France herself." These last two points, he reminded them, depended on the Allies not on France, and he suggested that they should be discussed at once. These observations were received politely, though Metternich suggested Spain and Holland might be called on to sacrifice some of their colonial possessions to France, a course immedi- ately vetoed by Castlereagh. That Castlereagh should have brought these points forward at this period shews that he already intended to play the rôle which was to be his in the course of the next twelve months. The reconstruction of Europe in such a manner as to produce a peaceful Continent he considered as a primary British interest, and he wished to use the advantage of the colonial possessions to compel his Allies to come to an agreement. If his haste shews his inexperience it reveals also his broad outlook and magnificent courage.
That he hoped to advance this work in the course of the negotiation with France was undoubtedly one of the reasons for his decision to go himself to Châtillon to supervise the proceedings, though not as an official negotiator. None of the other principal Ministers were to accompany him, and that he should leave headquarters at such a time indicated that he was not satisfied that the instructions were such as to lead to peace with Napoleon or to agreement amongst the Allies, unless they were treated in the spirit which he desired to prevail. 1
Another reason was, no doubt, the difficulty he had in deciding how Britain was to be represented. Each of the other Powers appointed one plenipotentiary--Austria, Stadion; Prussia, Humboldt; and Russia, Razumovski. Aberdeen would have been the obvious person to have represented Britain, and he had expected to occupy that position with the powers which Castlereagh himself now exercised. Stewart and Cathcart were with their respective armies and not at all eager to resume the diplomatic profession. But Castlereagh felt that Aberdeen was too much under Austrian influence, and that his appointment would shake the confidence of Russia and Prussia. Accordingly he had appointed all three Ambassadors as plenipotentiaries, and when Cathcart and Stewart protested at being recalled from their military duties he sent a sharp order that they must obey without question.
1 To "Liverpool, Feb. 4, 1814": Instructions to the British Plenipotentiaries at Châtillon, No. 1 and No. 2 (Confidential), Feb. 2, 1814: F.O. Continent, 2. To "Liverpool, Feb. 6, 1814": B.D.146. "Münster to the Prince Regent, Feb. 2, 1814": Hanover St. A. Münster, who had been ill, arrived at Langres on the 20th. His general impressions are given in the dispatches in Fournier, Congress. 295, 296.
Aberdeen's feelings were soothed by being given a kind of special position, and he was told that the jealousy of Stewart and Cathcart must be humoured. 1
Castlereagh could hardly regard such a trio as a satisfactory body to carry out his plans. But he had to make the best of them, and he tried to make them appreciate the view which he held of Britain's own position in the coalition by a special instruction, which was "intended to apply . . . to the conduct of the King's affairs in all matters of general policy so long as the allied sovereigns shall continue together." "It is impossible," he wrote, "to have resided at allied headquarters even for the short period I have myself passed at them without perceiving how much the interests of the Confederacy are exposed to prejudice and disunion from the want of some central council of deliberation, where the authorised Ministers of the respective Powers may discuss face to face the measures in progress, and prepare a result for the consideration of their respective sovereigns. You must all be aware how deep was the distrust and alarm which existed some days ago as to supposed divergencies of opinion, which it was feared were irreconcilable in themselves, and how soon these differences disappeared when the allied Ministers were ordered officially to enter upon their discussion. To such a degree did this happen, that every individual question which they have been called upon to deliberate has been decided, not only unanimously, but with cordial concurrence."
British Ministers, he said, were equally liable to differences of opinion, which tended to divide rather than unite the Courts to which they were accredited, and they must seek a remedy in the same manner: "The power of Great Britain to do good depends not merely on its resources but upon a sense of its impartiality and the reconciling character of its influence. . . . To be authoritative it must be impartial. To be impartial it must not be in exclusive relations with any particular Court." For this purpose, he said, a council of Ministers was, in many respects, more suitable than a single
1 To "Cathcart, Jan. 31, 1814"; to "Stewart, Jan. 31, 1814": C.C. ix. 215, 216. Aberdeen was quite unaware of the real feelings of Stewart and Cathcart on this question ( Balfour, Aberdeen, i. 185). person, if they acted cordially together. "It will be your duty to consider yourselves as a British Cabinet on the Continent, bound to pursue the general interest of the Alliance and not the particular interest of any state. . . . The interests of Great Britain neither require to be asserted with chicane nor with dexterity--a steady and temperate application of honest principles is her best source of authority."
This was both an encouragement and a warning--a stern comment on their past behaviour and at the same time an incentive to work together with Castlereagh for the common. end. Otherwise, he hinted, he would have to place the task in other hands: "I persuade myself that with union amongst themselves and concert with me they are most competent to conduct the great work now in hand to a happy and glorious issue. Having brought it to the present auspicious point, I wish them collectively and individually to have the reputation of bringing it to a close. It depends on themselves to do so."
Before he left, news had been received of the victory over Napoleon at La Rothière (February 1), an event which he hoped would increase the courage as well as the unity of the Allies. His last word from Langres, therefore, to Liverpool was one of assurance, which had been also increased by an intimate conversation with the Emperor of Austria, who had entirely dissipated any fears that he was aiming at establishing a Regency under his daughter. Metternich also accepted with equanimity the news of Monsieur's intended visit to Switzerland, which Liverpool had just announced. Castlereagh set out for Châtillon, therefore, full of confidence. He was to need it all in the course of the negotiations there. 1
1 To the "British Plenipotentiaries (Confidential), Feb. 2, 1814": F.O. Continent, 2.To "Liverpool, Feb. 3, 1814": W.S.D. viii. 566.
2. THE TREATY OF CHAUMONT
ALL the plenipotentiaries were by now kicking their heels at Châtillon awaiting the word to begin. The little town, though in the allied lines, was neutral territory, a fact of which the inhabitants took advantage to organise raids on the allied communications. They were, indeed, far more hostile than most of those in the occupied territory, and the Maire was in terror lest something should happen to one of the plenipotentiaries. These had expected to be there only a few days, and when the sojourn was lengthened to seven weeks they complained bitterly of their fate, which they endeavoured in vain to relieve by the exercise of the arts of hospitality--a matter of some difficulty under the conditions, but sufficiently accomplished to cause two or three to fall ill "from the effects of their intemperance." Most of them soon lost hope of obtaining peace, except perhaps Aberdeen, whose innocence diplomatique caused Stadion much amusement. Stadion himself preferred war, but he was loyal to his chief, to whom he sent many cynical and amusing letters. Humboldt had been chosen by Hardenberg because of his ardour, and Razumovski was merely a cipher awaiting orders from headquarters. Stewart and Cathcart could do little, though the former used his energy in making copious notes. Aberdeen sat in dumb despair at the cynicism of his companions. Caulaincourt alone increased his reputation for sincerity and ability. He had no illusions, and if his master had given him a chance would have obtained the best possible frontier within a few days. Napoleon had, however, still no intention of yielding Antwerp or the left bank of the Rhine, and this determination reduced the discussions to a mauvaise comédie, as Stadion termed it. 1
1 Fournier's account in his Congress von Châtillon ( 1900) is a model of historical skill and insight.
The absurdity of the situation was fully revealed at the first conference on February 7. Caulaincourt was offered the ancient limits with some modifications, and told that Britain would, in return, restore some of her conquests as compensation. He naturally asked for more information, not only as to the conquests but as to the shape of the new Europe which the plenipotentiaries claimed to represent in its entirety. 1 Since Castlereagh had refused to specify the first until the second could also be known, the Allies were bound to be silent on both points, though Caulaincourt pressed them again and again. When the plenipotentiaries retired after this exposure, Castlereagh again insisted to Stadion and Humboldt that they must be able to furnish information as to the intentions of their Governments before he would specify the colonial conquests. All that could be done, therefore, was to invite Caulaincourt to submit his ideas of the treaty of peace in the form of a contre-projet. Meanwhile news came of further victories over Napoleon at Brienne, and it seemed likely that the Allies would soon be at Paris. Caulaincourt, in despair, sent privately to Metternich to offer the ancient frontiers if an armistice could be granted immediately.
While the plenipotentiaries were discussing the effect of the allied victories, peremptory orders came from the Tsar that the negotiations must be suspended. He had taken this step on his own initiative, and Metternich in great distress urged Castlereagh to come to Troyes, which headquarters had now reached. Castlereagh had anticipated this wish. It was clearly at headquarters rather than at Châtillon that the vital decision must now be made. After long conversations, therefore, with Stadion on the whole European settlement, he had already decided to return there in order to bring the Allies to agreement, so that the peace with France could be made. The method was to be the same as that which he had begun at Langres; formal discussions between the four Ministers, so that all the cards would be on the table.
" Lord Castlereagh appeared decided," reported Stadion to his chief, "and I have done my best to support his idea, to
1 "I see by your Protocol," wrote Edward Cooke, "you treat in the name of Europe. What corollaries follow! What questions start! And how difficult to answer!" From Cooke, Feb. 12, 1814: Lond. MSS.
treat of the objects which cause his return only in conferences of the four Ministers. It is only by such conferences that ideas will become clarified, and it is only by this method that the exaggerated claims and scandalous demands of Prussia can be got rid of at the outset, since she will have difficulty in formulating them, and still more in defending them, when they are subjected to a formal and official discussion. I have also tried to confirm the English Minister in his opinion that in this ministerial reunion it is, above all, necessary to force Russia to declare herself on her plans concerning ci-devant Poland, because all our calculations depend on them. He has seemed to be quite convinced that we must not admit a distinct kingdom or a duchy of Poland, either in fact or in name, either openly avowed or concealed under some subterfuge." What Stadion thought wise for Prussia and Russia, Castlereagh doubtless thought applied to Austria also, but when he arrived at Troyes he found conditions hardly suitable to carry out such a plan. 1
The coalition was within an ace of dissolution. The Tsar was convinced he could now reach Paris, where, he announced, he would summon an assembly to decide Napoleon's fate. Metternich had exhausted his protests, and Castlereagh was urged to take his place. In two long and stormy interviews on February 13 and 14 Castlereagh tried in vain to impose his will upon the Tsar, who was determined not only to march on Paris but to refuse all negotiation with Napoleon, even though Caulaincourt had offered to accept the ancient limits. Alexander still considered the Bourbons incapable of rule, especially Louis XVIII., but, in view of the sentiments of his Allies, thought that one of the younger members, possibly the Duke of Orleans, might be chosen. Castlereagh tried to shew the hazards of such a course--the absence of any move-ment against Napoleon and the chaos which might ensue-if they refused to treat with him while he was still the ruler of France and when Caulaincourt was apparently ready to accept their terms. How was a representative assembly to
1 "Minute of Second Conference at Châtillon": C.C. ix. 544-45. "To Liverpool, Feb. 6, 1814": B.D.146. "Stadion to Metternich, Feb. 9, 1814": Fournier, Congress, 317. Caulaincourt's letter of the 9th is given in Fain, Manuscrit do 1814, 265.
be obtained, he asked, and if a new ruler was chosen, how was he to be supported against Napoleon? Was he likely to have an army of his own, and, if not, how long would the Tsar undertake to keep his army in France to fight a Bourbon's battles against Bonaparte?
The Tsar had but few arguments, but he suddenly tried to refute Castlereagh by claiming that the British Government did not support his views, producing a letter from Lieven which asserted that the Prince Regent was decidedly against all peace with Bonaparte and anxious that the Bourbons should be recalled. This, as will be seen, was true enough so far as the Prince Regent was concerned, but Lieven's letter was entirely unauthorised. Castlereagh was naturally indignant at the insinuation that he had not the confidence of his Government, and his letter to Liverpool portrays, as Lord Salisbury noted, "almost the only angry shade that passes over the calm imperturbable style of his correspondence during this exciting period." His protests were as strong as he could make them to a reigning monarch, though we may imagine that his coolness and impassiveness, which had now become celebrated at headquarters, did not desert him even at this moment. But the Tsar refused to give way, and the interview ended without result. It was the first real passage of arms that Castlereagh had experienced, and must in no small degree have affected all his future attitude towards Alexander.
Meanwhile the Ministers held formal conference as Castlereagh desired. Metternich drew up a questionnaire on the situation (his favourite mode of proceeding), and Hardenberg, as well as Castlereagh, supported him in insisting that the negotiations should continue. But this was hardly the time to redraw the map of Europe. Though it was agreed that the answer to Caulaincourt should take the form of a draft treaty of peace, its terms remained as vague as at Langres. Nevertheless, Castlereagh now consented to specify the colonial conquests, which he did on the lines laid down in his instructions, only insisting on adding the Abolition of the Slave Trade to them and a reserve on the question of Tobago. In return, however, he obtained from the Allies a convention agreeing to the essential British interests on the Continent--the Netherlands, the left bank of the Rhine, an indemnity for the King of Sicily, and the confiscation of the fleet in Antwerp harbour, to which the Cabinet attached great importance. With this he had to be content, for it was clearly impossible to do more, and yet he could not go on with the negotiations without making a real offer to France. At the same time he came back to the treaty of Alliance, which the prospect of a peace with Napoleon made more than ever necessary. A draft treaty was submitted to the Ministers on February 12, which contained the same outline of Europe as was submitted to Caulaincourt. They received it with assurances of favourable consideration, to which their need of money doubtless added fervour. Castlereagh now confined the scope of the treaty to an attack on the European dominions of the signatories, which Nesselrode said had removed the Tsar's objections. This was satisfactory; even though Nesselrode, as always, wished to make Russia's consent to Holland's increase depend upon Britain and Holland taking over the Russian debt in Amsterdam. 1
Even now the Tsar's consent had not been obtained to negotiate, though Metternich went so far as to threaten that peace would be made without him. But by the time Castlereagh got back to Châtillon with the new instructions, the enterprise of Napoleon had accomplished what argument had failed to win. Hitherto he had given few signs of his military genius, but now, taking advantage of the fact that Blücher's troops had moved forward unsupported, he dashed amongst them and won a series of combats. His prestige and the ardour of his troops revived, and Schwarzenberg became even more nervous than usual for the safety of his communications. The Tsar's hopes were dashed, he sent the necessary word to Razumovski, and the negotiations were resumed.
But at Châtillon the situation was now reversed. Caulaincourt had hitherto been pressing for decision, going beyond the limit of Napoleon's instructions. But success had now
1 "To Liverpool. Feb. 16, 18, 1814": B.D.147, 157. "Lieven to Nesselrode, Jan. 26, 1814": C.C. ix. 267. "To Metternich, Feb. 12, 1814": Vienna St. A. "Münster to the Prince Regent, Feb. 17, 1814": Hanover St. A. Draft treaty in D'Angeberg. Congrès de Vienna, i. 110.
"Convention of Feb. 17, 1814": Martens (F.), Traités conclus par la Russie, xi. 200. "To Clancarty, Feb. 20, 1814": C.C. ix. 284. Salisbury, Biographical Essays, 58.
revived his master's hopes, and he received peremptory warning not to make peace except on the Frankfort basis. When, therefore, the draft treaty was presented to him on February 17, he naturally played for time by again raising the unanswerable enquiries as to the fate of Italy and Saxony, and meanwhile awaiting Napoleon's counter-proposals which had been promised, but which were hardly to be expected while the tide of his success flowed on.
Castlereagh did everything in his power, as Stadion admitted, to make peace possible. He was perhaps pushed further in that direction by the Tsar's attack on his authority. He had sent Robinson home with an indignant letter to make sure of the Cabinet's support. It was an anxious moment, but Castlereagh shewed little signs of the strain. Lady Burghersh, it must be admitted, was partial to him because he had supported her "dear B" against Wilson, and her charm seems to have made an impression on him, and made him sparkle if not thaw. "I quite delight in Cas," she wrote. "I had no idea he had so much fun in him, though he is impenetrably cold." 1
Another crisis summoned him back to headquarters. Blücher's defeats had put the main army in such a state of nerves, that, when it received a blow itself, Schwarzenberg prevailed on the two sovereigns to agree that he should accept the armistice which Caulaincourt had offered on the 9th, and a parlementaire was sent to the French army. This weakness seemed to threaten the whole fabric of the peace, and the urgent appeal which Castlereagh sent to Metternich on the 18th betrayed his deep emotion at the news. "I feel it more than ever necessary," he wrote, "to conjure you and your colleagues at headquarters not to suffer yourselves to descend from the substance of your peace. You owe it, such as you have announced it, to the enemy, to yourselves, and to Europe, and you will now more than ever make a fatal sacrifice both of moral and political impression, if under the pressure of those slight reverses which are incident to war, and some embarrassments in your Council which I should hope are at an end,
1 Stadion to Metternich, Feb. 17, 1814 : Fournier, Congress, 323. Rose Weigall , Letters of Lady Burghersh, 185.
the great edifice of peace was suffered to be disfigured in its proportions. Recollect what your military position is. . . . If we act with military and political prudence, how can France resist a just peace demanded by 600,000 warriors. Let her, if she dare, and the day you can declare that fact to the French nation, rest assured Bonaparte is subdued. . . . There can be in good sense but one interest among the Powers; namely, to end nobly the great work they have conducted so near to its close." 1
How far the Allies would have descended had Napoleon been anxious to accept their offer it is hard to say; but he was by now uplifted by his wonderful successes against such superior force. He sent a letter to his father-in-law which characterised the new offer as dishonourable, and though the discussions as to an armistice continued for some time he never seemed ready to accept the allied conditions, which included the abandonment of Antwerp, on which, as yet, Carnot's hold had not been shaken. Nevertheless, the allied leaders were very downcast. When Castlereagh joined headquarters at Troyes he found it packing up for retreat, and next day he learnt from Metternich that Schwarzenberg was still pressing for an armistice. The Austrian was nervous about his left wing, having received news that Augereau was advancing from the south, and the whole allied army had orders to retire until they got in touch with their reserves. No doubt, as some critics have averred, there was much military prudence in this retreat, but it gave an impression of weakness which might have disastrous effects on the sovereigns and generals.
Meanwhile Blücher was left in the air with his forces already roughly handled, and though no one questioned his courage or ardour, his ability to cope with Napoleon was a matter of grave doubt. At this critical moment Castlereagh played an important part in rallying the coalition by strengthening not only their confidence but their military position. "I could not but perceive," ran his official report, "the altered tone of my colleagues--their impressions being strongly tinctured with the demoralising influence of a rapid
1 To Metternich. Feb. 18, 1814: B.D.158.
transition from an advance made under very lofty pretensions, to a retreat of some embarrassment and of much disappointment and recrimination. There was no disposition, however, to shrink from the substance of the line laid down at Châtillon. . . . I strongly urged to Prince Metternich the importance of a contemporaneous answer from the Emperor to Bonaparte to dissipate all hope of the Allies conceding in their terms of peace, and also to put an end to this mode of approaching the Emperor so derogatory to his dignity." A more intimate letter written at the same time shews that he had grave fears of both Austria and Russia, who were loud in their accusations against one another: "The criminations and recriminations between the Austrians and Russians are at their height, and my patience is worn out combating both. Austria both in army and government is a timid Power. Her Minister is constitutionally temporising--he is charged with more faults than belong to him, but he has his full share, mixed, however, with considerable means for carrying forward the machine-more than any other person I have met with at headquarters." This was a just estimate of Metternich, who was rarely at his best when direct and rapid action was necessary.
Nor could the Tsar be now used to correct this fault, for he seemed to be as urgent for peace as he had been warlike a few days before. In his haste to get to Paris he had prevented the Allies from listening to Caulaincourt's offer of the ancient frontiers, and now he was, to Castlereagh's disgust, pressing for the armistice. That there were some military reasons for this step is shewn by Burghersh's reports from the Austrian army, which had grown in gloom throughout the month of February. He emphasised the panic which the name of Bonaparte had reawakened in the minds of the officers since he had begun his offensive, and the increasing hostility of the civil population roused to desperation by the brutal methods of the allied armies. The paralysis which had attacked the Austrians and appeared to be spreading to the Russians was also, no doubt, partly due to the political distrust between Austria and Russia, which the defeat had intensified. The Tsar told Castlereagh that Schwarzenberg had secret orders not to fight a battle. This was not true; but the idea bred suspicions that each was now reserving his own forces to win Poland rather than Paris. "I have no doubt," wrote Münster to the Prince Regent, "that the Austrians are inclined to keep their army intact in order to preserve their influence on the affairs of Poland, while the Russians are accused of sparing their beautiful cavalry."
In these circumstances Castlereagh was beset on all sides, but he stood fast: "Nothing keeps either Power firm but the consciousness that without Great Britain the peace cannot be made; but I have explicitly told them that if the Continent can and will make a peace with Bonaparte upon a principle of authority, Great Britain will make the greatest sacrifices; but that if they neither will nor can, we must, for their sake as well as our own, rest in position against France."
Stewart's account was even more gloomy, and he bitterly regretted that the Allies had not signed peace with Napoleon while they had the chance. He was loud also in his praise of Castlereagh, whose firmness alone had saved the situation: "What Castlereagh has achieved is really wonderful. But for him I do believe we should have been off, the Devil take the hindmost. I have told you we were wrong from the commencement, and your d-----d Bourbon blood was doing all you could to urge us on. . . . Anything, my dear friend, more madly inconsistent and childish than our proceeding has been I cannot figure to myself, first accepting or rather giving the Frankfort basis, then changing it to immense sacrifices for France, then finding we could have this we are not pleased, we must have a Bow at Paris. Some Bourbons, some Charles jeans, some for a republic, some for dividing France, the poor French people looking on quietly, awaiting their fate and having no more inclination about Louis XVIII. than about Edward Cooke. Whatever of bad happens to us we rightly deserve it; whatever of good we must thank Providence and Castlereagh." 1
1 To Liverpool, Feb. 26 (No. 19), 1814: F.O. Continent, 3; (No. 20): B.D.160. "Münster to the Prince Regent, Feb. 25, 1814": Fournier, Congress, 303. "Nesselrode to Lieven, March 10, 1814": Pet. Arch. From Burghersh, Feb. 24, 1814: "The allied army is certainly stronger than that of Bonaparte, yet if its retreat is continued I dread its total disorganisation. The licentious proceedings of the soldiers of late, the pillage of the country wherever they have passed, has driven the inhabitants from their
There was also a military problem to be solved--how to succour Blücher while the main army retired. In this also Castlereagh played a decisive part. A conference was held on the 20th at which the sovereigns, Schwarzenberg and other generals, and the Ministers were present. The Commander-in-Chief stated his precarious position. He had 50,000 sick and no magazines, and could not risk a pitched battle. He had tried to obtain an armistice and had failed. He had to detach troops to the south. He was now separated from Blücher, who had adhered to his own line of operations. After such a review no one could oppose his suggestion of a retreat behind the Marne. He was also allowed to accept an armistice, leaving part of the Netherlands in French hands. It was Castlereagh who insisted that the Russian and Prussian corps under the command of Bernadotte, which had as yet hardly been used, should be detached from his force and placed under Blücher's command. "I ventured to make this proposition," he reported, "and the order to preserve the command in Blücher, who is too daring to be trusted with a small force, but a host at the head of one hundred thousand men." This piece of strategical insight was to have important results, but Castlereagh was aware that it would not please Bernadotte, who was already bitterly complaining of the exclusion of Sweden from all the important negotiations, and especially of the refusal to allow a Swedish representative at Châtillon. He tried to soothe him by placing the whole of the Netherlands forces under his command, and urged that the best way to obtain Norway was by a successful attack on Antwerp. 1
houses and has converted them into most bitter enemies. Bonaparte was received yesterday at Troyes with every mark of attachment; the inhabitants fired upon the Austrian troops that were last retiring from it and dragged the sick and emaciated soldiers that had been left in hospital to grace the triumphal entry of their ruler": F.O. Austria, 110. "Stewart to Cooke, Feb. 28, 1814": Lond. MSS. This vivid and unguarded letter, which produced considerable effect at home, was much edited by the writer when he published it in C.C. ix. 553.
1 To Liverpool, Feb. 26 (No. 19), 1814; "Protocol of a Conference at Bar-sur-Aube on Military Procedure": F.O. Continent, 3. "To Clancarty, Feb. 27, 1814"; C.C. ix. 291. "From Thornton, Feb. 17, 1814": F.O. Swede, 90. "To Thornton, Feb. 27, 1814": C.C. ix. 292. The idea was not, of course, Castlereagh's, but had been for some time advocated at Blücher's headquarters, which had long wished to be strong enough to cut loose from Schwarzenberg (see Fournier, Congress, 161 ff., and the authori-
By these means the morale of the armies was steadied. The answers sent to Napoleon by Francis shewed no sign of intimidation; in fact Castlereagh considered that Metternich had carried out his advice "handsomely." Instructions were also sent to Châtillon that the answer from Caulaincourt must be required within a definite period of time, and must conform to the spirit of the basis laid down by the Allies. Metternich's private letter to Stadion for the edification of Caulaincourt was, indeed, more yielding, but of this Castlereagh was not aware. By the end of the month the soldiers were cheered by a check given to Victor, and though armistice discussions still persisted, the tone all round was better. 1
Throughout this dramatic and exciting month Castlereagh had kept his Cabinet as well posted as possible and, when a passage had been opened through Paris, fairly quickly informed. But, of course, they only obtained a partial view of events after a considerable interval of time, and it was impossible for them to control the negotiations. For this they had been prepared, and entrusted Castlereagh with the widest powers for peace and war ever held by a British Minister abroad, but they naturally were more affected than he was by public opinion in Britain, and these influences dictated one or two official instructions which, as will be seen, had no practical influence on the result. Liverpool and Bathurst, however, kept their colleague in touch by a constant stream of private letters, commenting in the frankest possible way on the negotiations, and making their influence felt by suggestion and information as to the situation at home rather than by any obvious attempt to enforce a point of view.
The most delicate of all the questions was, of course, that of the Bourbons, which is dealt with in the next section. On this subject the views of the Cabinet gradually grew somewhat
ties there quoted), but that Castlereagh sponsored it in the council, secured its adoption, and found the means to pacify Bernadotte is shewn not only by his own account but also by Robinson's recollection ( C.C. i. 129). The letter to Thornton was a masterpiece of tact, and secured Bernadotte's acquiescence after some protest. (From Thornton, March 9, 17, 1814: F.O. Sweden, 90.) Bernadotte was subsequently allowed to send a plenipotentiary to Châtillon at the Tsar's request.
1 To Liverpool, Feb. 28, 1814: C.C. ix. 299. Metternich to Stadion, Feb. 26, 1814: Fournier, Congress, 328.
different to those of Castlereagh, but, as will be seen, did not affect his actions to any important extent, though the outcry at Carlton House and in the Press, which were reported at length by the foreign Ambassadors, perhaps did something to make his task more difficult.
The Ministers, though they made no secret of their dislike of peace with Bonaparte, did not attempt until much later to restrain Castlereagh from concluding it. They continually insisted, however, on the necessity of the peace terms, such as would satisfy the expectations of public opinion, and were continually pressing Castlereagh not to allow the negotiations to drag on. They had little idea of all the difficulties in the way of submitting a clear-cut issue to Napoleon. "Surely," wrote Bathurst immediately after Castlereagh's departure, "you can make the Allies feel all the advantages of having a clear and distinct basis first agreed upon by Bonaparte before we enter into a Congress, where the very existence of a Congress will so essentially strengthen him." Bathurst was, indeed, always more bellicose and more distrustful of the Allies than the more phlegmatic Liverpool. Moreover, as responsible for the colonies, he was anxious that the principles on which the conquests were to be returned should be made clear at the outset. They were sacrifices made with the purpose of obtaining what could not otherwise be taken from Napoleon. As peace would be unpopular in any event, it must be shewn to be necessary. "However gallantly our Allies fight the enemy in the field," he went on, "I am at times apprehensive that in the Cabinet they mistake us for the enemy and France for the ally. At the very moment that they at Frankfort declared France should have at the peace a more extended territory than she had ever enjoyed before the Revolution, they required us to be reduced to what we were. What could an enemy do more in negotiations than require us to give up as a price of peace what, by war, they could not take from us. Or could a friend do more for an ally in distress than secure to him the remainder of his conquests and stipulate the restoration of the possessions he had lost?" This was, perhaps, putting it a little unfairly, and Liverpool never went so far. But he also stressed the necessity of a peace that would soothe if not satisfy public opinion. 1
These were general principles--in the details they had little to say, and indeed could hardly appreciate what Castlereagh was doing. They made no comment on his attempts to act as a mediator between the Allies. They were interested exclusively in the peace as it affected British interests. Bathurst had naturally to watch very carefully the commercial interests affected by the surrender of the conquests. Representations were being made, as Liverpool recorded, against any colonies being given back by merchants who were interested in their trade. In most cases property had been acquired which seemed to be in jeopardy. The Cabinet, however, only pressed for one colony which had not been expressly mentioned in the instructions--Tobago, which had only belonged to France since the American war, and where British property interests were especially strong. Liverpool took a rather wider view of these questions, insisting, for example, that Spain and Holland should not be made to compensate France for her cessions to Britain--a bargain which, as has been seen, Metternich actually suggested at one time. 2
Though Bathurst acted nominally as Foreign Minister in Castlereagh's absence and signed the dispatches, it was Liverpool who did such work of importance as was not concentrated at headquarters. He saw the foreign representatives and soothed or reproved them as might be necessary. He also kept a special eye on the Prince Regent in Castlereagh's absence, and instructed him what language to use-not always, however, winning his obedience. Thus Loevenheilm, who was specially sent over by Bernadotte to explain his master's very equivocal conduct, was allowed to have no doubts of the opinion of the British Government about it, and when he complained of the exclusion of Sweden from the peace negotiations he was told that Castlereagh would decide all such points. The Cabinet accepted with reluctance the
1 From Bathurst, Jan. 7. 1814; from Liverpool, Jan. 20, 1814: Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 516.
2 See the letters in the Appendix, pp. 517, 522-23. The archives contain many memorials from the planters and merchants on this subject.
treaty with Denmark, not considering the Danes worth the £400,000 which Thornton had promised. Spain had to be handled with more gentleness than Sweden. The Spanish Government were deeply moved by the news that peace negotiations had opened without their concurrence. They reproved Pizarro, who was at headquarters, for not asserting himself, and ordered Fernan-Nuñez to join him from London to vindicate the rights of Spain. They had many demands to make--a rectification of their French frontier or even larger surrenders, and a revival of their claim to Louisiana. They still considered themselves a Great Power, and this claim, which had a great past but was already out of date, was to cause a good deal of trouble throughout all this period. Liverpool treated it with some respect, though he did not encourage their demands. He was moved by the Treaty of Valençay, by which Napoleon tried to use the captive Ferdinand to make peace--a step which was considered in London to shew how impossible it was to trust Napoleon's professions of peaceful intentions.
Castlereagh was thus left for the most part to himself to work out the details of the Alliance and the peace. How unpalatable any peace with Bonaparte was to the Cabinet will be seen when the question of the Bourbons is considered. But they remained loyal to the policy which Castlereagh was trying to carry out. "Our policy should be to keep the Alliance together," wrote Liverpool, "and not to separate ourselves from it either in peace or war. But we ought not to conceal from ourselves that any peace with Bonaparte will be only a state of preparation for renewed hostilities." 1
Nevertheless, they submitted to the delays produced by Bonaparte's military genius and the strategic faults of the Alliance. Castlereagh's stay was early extended beyond March 1, the period which originally the optimism of the Cabinet had fixed to complete his mission, and when it was clear that the campaign would be prolonged, Liverpool wrote that Parliamentary business was not urgent till the middle
1 From Liverpool, Jan. 20, 26, Feb. 4, 8, 12, 1814: Lond. MSS.. Appendix, pp. 515-22. From Bathurst, Feb. 12, 1814: F.O. Cont. Arch., 1. From Hamilton, Feb. 8, 1814: C.C. ix. 254. Wessenberg to Metternich, Feb. 1, 1814: Vienna St. A.
of April, and that "we all think that it is of the utmost importance you should not leave the headquarters of the Allies before you have brought all your arrangements to a satisfactory conclusion." Castlereagh had no intention of doing otherwise. He had moved with headquarters to Chaumont --"a dirty and dull town which has nothing to reconcile one to it but a sense of public duty.""I have only one small room," he told his wife, "in which I sleep and work and the whole Chancellerie dines, when we can get anything to eat." It was here that he completed what was in some sense the greatest diplomatic act of his career. 1
For Castlereagh did not return to Châtillon. In view of all that had happened it was now clear that his presence was more needed at headquarters, and that the most obvious necessity was the treaty of Alliance. Though this had been pushed on one side by the rapid course of events, it had never been out of Castlereagh's mind, and still less out of the recollection of the Allies who saw in it a necessary step to the subsidies of the next year. It is true that in December Castlereagh had indignantly rejected the proposal that these should be specified in the treaty. But his experience had shewn him that there was no other way to secure what he regarded as an indispensable instrument both for the present war and for the future security of Europe. He had already given up the colonial conquests, but in return he had obtained substantially allied agreement to a peace based on the ancient limits. He had failed, however, to obtain agreement on the reconstruction of Europe. The subsidies were his last great weapon. Could he use them to make the Allies guarantee the new settlement not only against France but against one another?
The difficulties proved to be greater than he could surmount. By this time he had come to realise something of what the disputes over Poland and Saxony portended. The Polish leaders, who had the Tsar's confidence, Czartoryski and Radziwill, had arrived at headquarters on February 26, and made Castlereagh's labours to produce an understanding still
1 From Liverpool, Feb. 12, 17: Lond. MSS., Appendix, pp. 520, 522. To his wife, March 12, 1814: Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 507.
more difficult. The Tsar had receded somewhat from his claim to all Galicia, but his intention to reconstitute almost the whole of Poland into a state under his own sovereignty was as firm as ever. Castlereagh, as has been seen, was determined to prevent this. He succeeded in persuading Czartoryski to leave headquarters, but made little progress on the main point. Nor were German questions in a much healthier condition. It is true that Hardenberg held Metternich's verbal promise of Saxony, but the rest of the territorial distribution and the new constitution of Germany were entirely undecided. Practically nothing, therefore, could be added to the outline which the Allies had already used as the basis of their last offer to Napoleon on February 17. Castlereagh, to Münster's relief, was defeated in an attempt to obtain a specified frontier in the Netherlands for Holland. The German Powers insisted that the territory on the left bank of the Rhine beyond the Meuse should be left open. Hardenberg had, indeed, said he would refuse all territory there for Prussia unless it was large enough to give strength, while Münster urged that if Holland became too strong she might again be a maritime rival to Britain. 1
This was not a very happy situation in which to formulate a treaty to safeguard the world's peace. It was, however, something that the military and political position as regards France had become more solid. It could survive anything but calamity, Castlereagh thought. On March 4 the armistice negotiations were broken off, and Castlereagh pressed the Allies to prepare for a long campaign. No one at Chaumont now imagined that the war would soon be over. The lack of provisions, reported Castlereagh, were a hindrance to immediate operations, but he hoped that at the close of the harvest a great effort would be made "upon a scale which must envelope and overwhelm the enemy." He had practically no hope that the negotiations still in progress at Châtillon would result in peace: "My own impression is, as it has always been, that whilst anything of an army remains
1 From Castlereagh, Feb. 26, March 3, 1814: B.D.160, 163. Münster to the Prince Regent, Feb. 17, 1814: Hanover St. A.; Feb. 23, 25, 1814: Fournier, Congress, 302, 303. From Hardenberg, Feb. 15, 1814: F.O. Cont, Arch. 5.
to him, he [ Napoleon] will not easily submit to sign such a peace as the Allies require; and I am induced to believe he will put his main resistance upon Antwerp, 1st, as the point of most pride as well as power, and, 2ndly, as that interest in support of which he expects the continental Powers will be least disposed to continue the war." Nor was it likely, he added, that peace would come from the people, though he painted a terrible picture of their sufferings: "So far as concerns the part of France through which I have passed, viz. from Bâle to Troyes, I never saw any country in a state of more abject misery and decline." But the pride of the middle class, he said, was yet unbroken and would support Napoleon in fighting for the frontiers of the Rhine and the Alps. 1
In these circumstances it was only natural that his treaty should be mainly concerned with the present war with France and the protection of Europe from France after the war. The allied Powers each promised to keep 150,000 men in active service during the present war, and they pledged themselves not to make peace except with common consent. Britain in return promised subsidies amounting to five million pounds, in equal proportions to each, Prussia being thus raised, as her efforts entitled her, to a level with Russia and Austria. Monthly instalments were to be paid so long as the war lasted, if necessary beyond the year 1814, and for a month after the treaty of peace had been signed.
Ample provision was thus made for the continuation of the war until Napoleon was beaten, but, after all, this was only a consolidation of subsidy treaties such as were already in being. The novel part of the treaty extended its action into the peace. More extended guarantees might have to be postponed, but the four Powers at any rate bound themselves for twenty years to protect Europe against every attempt which France might make "to infringe the order of things resulting from such pacification." For this purpose they promised 60,000 men, Britain reserving her right to employ foreign troops paid by her as her contribution.
The stakes, as Castlereagh confessed, were high, and Britain's
1 To Liverpool, March 3, 1814: B.D. 163; March 4, 1814: F.O. Continent, 3.
immediate contribution was, according to his calculation, double that of any of the Allies. Five million pounds was in itself equivalent to 150,000 men, and Britain contributed another 150,000 men besides. The Allies had each, of course, more than 150,000 men under arms, since the subsidy was paid for active forces only, but Britain also at that moment had on the Continent, Castlereagh claimed, 225,000 men in her direct pay: "What an extraordinary display of power. This I trust will put an end to any doubts as to the claim we have to an opinion on continental matters." It must be remembered that of the 225,000 not more than 70,000 were British. The rest were hired from foreign Powers according to her old methods. Yet it must be admitted that the exploits of Wellington now entitled her to rank as a military Power, though none of her soldiers were to be found in the main army fighting against Napoleon. Castlereagh had gone rather beyond the limits of his instructions in promising so much, as he admitted to Liverpool. But he pleaded that he had thus added powerfully to the impression which the treaty would produce, and he could not refuse, he said, "to assume that station in Europe as one of the great military Powers to which the exploits of her armies and the scale of her resources have so justly entitled her to claim.""I think your Lordship will agree with me," he added, "that if the war must go on, upon no principles could it be consistent with our policy to economise in point of exertion to the degree that would still remain open to us." 1
The Cabinet, indeed, made no objection. They were prepared for any effort against France, and they warmly praised their colleague for securing at last the permanent Alliance which had been so long sought. Castlereagh's subordinates, who knew all the obstacles which he had had to surmount, joined in the chorus of congratulation. It was,
1 To Liverpool, March 10, 1814: B.D. 165; do. (No. 33): F.O. Continent, 3. To Hamilton, March 10, 1814: C.C. ix. 335. He also promised to recommend his Cabinet to relieve Russia of her Dutch debt: E. Wawrzkowicza, Anglia a Sprawa Polska, 1813-1815, 330-32. Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vii. 87. To Liverpool, March 8, 1814: C.C. ix. 327. This obligation, to which the Cabinet were very averse, henceforward acts as a sort of barometer of Russian relations with Britain. The Polish work noted above collects much evidence on this subject as well as on other points.
perhaps, the greatest moment of Castlereagh's career, and the treaty will always be a monument to his patience and diplomatic skill. But, as has been seen, it only accomplished half the objects which Castlereagh had set out to obtain. It had been designed, as its phraseology shews, to guarantee the settlement not only against France but against any disturber of the peace. The four Powers spoke in the name of all Europe, and they reserved "to themselves to concert together on the conclusion of a peace with France, as to the means best adapted to guarantee to Europe, and to themselves reciprocally, the continuance of the peace" (Art. V.). But this task lay in the future, and Castlereagh could now realise how difficult it was to be. As yet he was the only signatory who desired to find practical means to carry out the intention so stated, and it will be seen that he was never fully to accomplish the task.
As has been often pointed out, the treaty marks a stage in the evolution of the distinction between the Great Powers and the other states of Europe. It had been drafted and signed by them alone, and the main obligations of the treaty were such as only Great Powers with large resources could undertake. But the significance of this aspect was hardly realised by the signatories at the time. They wished to associate the most considerable of the smaller Allies in their Alliance after it was signed. By a secret and separate article Sweden, Spain, Portugal, and Holland were invited to accede to the treaty. Nevertheless, accession meant something very different from original signature. The four Powers were "Europe," as they had been in the negotiations with Napoleon, and they remained Europe in the future so long as they were united. Even the term Great Powers had begun to be current in diplomatic phraseology. 1
1 Hanover and Bavaria would have been specifically invited had not the Tsar insisted that Wurtemberg should accompany them, an act which it was considered would have undermined the rights of the German Federation in process of construction. Castlereagh at last terminated this dispute by drafting the clause so that any state might be invited in the future, and he explained to his Cabinet that Germany would accede as a whole when the Federation had been brought into being. Münster to the Prince Regent, March 10, 1814: Fournier, Congress, 304. Pizzaro to the Secretary of State, March 12, 1814: W.S.D. viii. 643. From Castlereagh, March 10: F.O. Continent, 3. To Clancarty, March 14, 1814. "You will
Meanwhile at Châtillon the representatives had been "spitting over the bridge," as Castlereagh phrased it. No answer had come from Napoleon. On February 28, at the orders of headquarters, Caulaincourt had been allowed ten days in which to obtain his master's orders. He was still without them on March 10, but faced the Allies with a long disquisition, drawn up by the skilled public servants who were helping him, Rayneval and La Besnardière, which recalled the promises of Frankfort and the phrase in the King's Speech of October 1813, that France would not be humiliated. When an immediate rupture was about to follow, he made verbally another offer and kept the negotiation alive. As Stadion told Metternich, he could break off or not as he liked. Aberdeen said the same thing, adding that Caulaincourt had pleaded specially for Castlereagh's return: "If he were but here and would listen to my propositions, so that we might understand one another, we should speedily conclude the affair." Castlereagh had, however, concluded his treaty and was anxious to break off negotiations, but the rupture was delayed by the wish of Metternich, which his colleagues could not overcome, for some statement from Caulaincourt on which to found an ultimatum. Stadion was thus able to get the plenipotentiaries to allow more time, though Stewart protested vigorously at the delay, which had the additional disadvantage of keeping him from Blücher's army, which was fighting the critical battles of Craonne and Laon (March 7-10). Aberdeen quarrelled once more with his colleagues, to Stadion's great amusement. 1
Metternich, however, was gradually placed under great pressure at headquarters, where Schwarzenberg's inactivity was strongly criticised by the Tsar and the Prussians, and Castlereagh became anxious to get rid of the negotiation, which he thought, with some truth, hindered operations. He urged on the others, and above all on Metternich, that the whole military situation should be surveyed and comprehensive
perceive the great Powers have been quite explicit in their offer of protection": C.C. ix. 355. B.F.S.P. i. 128 does not give the separate and secret articles of the treaty which are in F. Martens, Recueil, iii. 163.
1 Stadion to Metternich, March 13, 1814: Fournier, Congress, 349. From Stewart, March 13, 1814; from Aberdeen, March 10, 15, 1814: C.C. ix. 334, 358, 567.
plans made for reinforcing the armies for a big campaign. "I cannot but express," he wrote on the 12th, "my individual anxiety to see the negotiations at Châtillon brought to an early issue. They enervate the temper of the army, and until we can make it clear whether it is to be war or peace to which we are to look for future security, the operations will languish and the enemy enjoy a double advantage." The Tsar agreed with him and they got on better terms.
This agreement had been helped by the Russians having at last agreed to the Dutch extension in Belgium. Castlereagh had only secured the assent by the promise to recommend to the British Government favourable consideration of the Russian demand that their loan to the Dutch bankers should be taken over by Britain or Holland. This was something like blackmail, as Castlereagh admitted, but he considered that Russian support was worth the price. It was, indeed, an important moment for his plans, since a deputation had arrived from Belgium to entreat the Emperor of Austria to allow them to be governed by a prince of his house. A refusal of this request had been promised, but Castlereagh was anxious that the "Brabanters," as he called them, should be reassured when their severance from France was announced to them. This was done in a note, drawn up by Castlereagh himself, which promised protection to their religion and commerce, and announced that an Austrian would take charge of their provisional government. This Castlereagh considered highly important, since it proclaimed publicly the Allies' intention of severing Belgium from France.
"I hope you will not disapprove our committal to the Brabanters," he wrote. "My colleagues here desired me to draw the declaration, and I certainly did it meaning to tie you all hard and fast to the people, if they did their duty by themselves. The value of this measure is not local; it is universal. It will give confidence in the vigour of our councils, and it is doubly important to place Austria at the head of them. The effect of this on the enemy must be highly important." 1
1 To Liverpool, March 8, 1814: C.C. ix. 327; March 12, 15, 1814: F.O. Continent, 3. "To Clancarty, March 13, 14, 1814": C.C. ix. 354, 365. "Van Staen to Hogendorp, March 14, 1814": Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vii. 522. Liverpool was writing at the time that all information shewed
It was a relief to Castlereagh, therefore, that on the 17th instructions were sent from Troyes, where headquarters had moved, to Châtillon to break off if Caulaincourt had not accepted the basis. This put an end to the proceedings, though Caulaincourt, impressed by Napoleon's failure against Blücher, made last efforts to prolong them. But he had no word from his master, and on the 19th the end came. Castlereagh considered that the negotiation had shewn beyond "reasonable doubt in the view even of the French nation that Napoleon is the true and only obstacle to an early, honourable, and solid peace." 1
The hands of the Allies were now free to prosecute schemes for his overthrow. The Bourbon princes were already in their rear, and an overture had at last been received from Paris. Though the Tsar was still hostile, Castlereagh was now able to take up their cause with the conviction that Louis would be accepted both by the French nation and the allied Governments as the future monarch of France.
the Belgians to be averse from a connection with Holland, and that they should form a state with Trêves or Mainz under an Austrian Archduke. "From Liverpool, March 11, 1814": Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 525.
1 From Castlereagh, March 22, 1814: B.D.168. Confidential Circular to the Allies, March 10, 1814: Vienna St. A. "From Cathcart, March 18, 1814": C.C. ix. 366.
3. THE RESTORATION OF THE BOURBONS
TALLEYRAND in the early eighteen - twenties, very conscious of the lack of Bourbon gratitude towards himself, questioned the necessity of that expressed by Louis XVIII. in his famous tribute to George IV. "The British Government was convinced," he wrote, "until the last moment that peace could be signed with Napoleon at Châtillon, which reduces somewhat the merit which Louis XVIII. is said to have attributed to the Prince Regent when he asserted that, after God, it was to him that he owed his throne." 1 There is, however, in this, as in many other of Talleyrand's statements, a non sequitur. Were the Bourbons necessarily the successors of Napoleon if Europe could make no peace with him? Why were the other alternatives rejected? What caused the surprising ease with which they returned after twenty-three years to a nation which had almost forgotten their existence? Was it Talleyrand's skilful manuvring in the last crisis of his Emperor's fortunes, or had the course of events been already determined by other means?
If the return of the Bourbons was inevitable, it took a very long time for those who were directing the allied councils to find it out. The discovery was certainly first made by Britain, and its application at the critical moment was more due to her than to any other Power. It was, indeed, an indispensable item of British policy during these fateful months, and, as such, merits a special examination of the intricate and subterranean process by which the final result was achieved.
The origin of the policy, like most else in this period, goes back to Pitt. He had always regarded a Bourbon restoration
1 Broglie, Mémoires du Prince Talleyrand, ii. 146.
as the best guarantee of the peace of Europe, both before and after the Peace of Amiens. "The restoration of the French monarchy," he said in 1800, in response to a challenge by Tierney, "I consider as a most desirable object, because I think it would afford the strongest and best security to this country and to Europe." In the dispatch of 1805 the same principle was, as has been seen, again asserted. This object though highly desirable was, however, always subordinate. "But this object may not be attainable; and if it is not attainable, we must be satisfied with the best security we can find independent of it," he said in 1800; and in the dispatch it is laid down: "It is one with a view to which no active or decided measures can be taken, unless a series of great and signal successes shall previously be obtained by the Allies, and a strong and prevailing disposition for the return of the Monarch shall then manifest itself in the interior of France." 1
This was the policy of Castlereagh, and it was the one accepted, though with great reluctance, by his Cabinet until the end. It did not, however, preclude sympathy with and support of the Bourbon cause within the limit Pitt had laid down. The Bourbons found in Britain their last refuge from a Continent no quarter of which was safe from Napoleon's power and influence, and this circumstance made the connection closer than it would otherwise have been. The Prince Regent and public opinion also went beyond the policy of the Cabinet in the final stages. But these circumstances, though they made the policy more difficult, did not determine it. The policy of Pitt was the guide, and if the final condition of a "strong and prevailing disposition" on the part of France was never secured, yet there was, in fact, no resistance, indeed complete acquiescence with the Restoration when it came.
The first suggestion of Britain, which was made in September 1813 to Austria, was received with a coldness that amounted to rejection. This may have been one reason why Castlereagh's instructions contained no word on the subject. Before his vessel left the country, however, a letter had been
1 R. Coupland, Way Speeches of William Pitt, 286. B.D.394.
received from Wellington which gave more hope than had hitherto existed of a movement in the Bourbons favour. A request had come for a Bourbon prince to join Wellington's army and raise the south. Wellington allowed the Comte de Grammont to carry this request to England, but he sent also a memorandum for the Bourbon princes, pointing out that no movement was yet noticeable, and emphasising the difficulties and dangers of the proposition. This direct communication with the Bourbons forced the Cabinet's hand, and Liverpool at once saw Monsieur, who naturally insisted that if a Bourbon prince were allowed to join Wellington's army all France would rise to his support. Bathurst was disposed to do something--at least to announce that an immediate armistice by sea and land would follow a Bourbon restoration. Liverpool was more cautious, but he suggested that it would be impossible to stop the princes going to the south if they wished to, and that Wellington desired their presence. Castlereagh's answer strongly deprecated anything being done: "My impressions are against any step which should even in appearance mix our system with that of the Bourbons, whilst we are embarked in discussion for peace, and ignorant how our Allies would relish such a step at the present moment." 1
The subject had, however, necessarily to receive the extended consideration of the Cabinet. Liverpool had a second interview with Monsieur, who refused all suggestions of delay and intimated firmly that his sons would try to embark for the south, and if refused a passport would appeal to the nation. The majority of the Cabinet were, however, of Castlereagh's opinion, and it was decided that though the princes must be allowed to go on their own responsibility, yet they could not be received at Wellington's headquarters. Liverpool's letter to Castlereagh, and still more Bathurst's, shew how distasteful the policy was to them. Wellington was, however, instructed accordingly, though doubtless Colonel Bunbury, who was sent over by Bathurst at this time,
1 Wellington to Bathurst, Dec. 22, 1813; Memorandum, Dec. 20, 1813:
Gurwood, xi. 390, 381. From Liverpool, Dec. 29, 1813; "from Bathurst, Dec. 29, 1813": Lond. MSS., Appendix, 510. To Liverpool, Dec. 30, 31, 1813; "to Bathurst, Dec. 30, 1813": C.C. ix. 123, 125, 130.
conveyed his chief's private desire that as much should be done as possible.
The Bourbons therefore made preparations to depart-Angoulême to the south, Berri to the north of France, if he could land, and Monsieur himself to Switzerland. Wellington was now given rather more latitude to take advantage of any movement on their behalf, but the whole enterprise was still kept strictly unofficial and at the princes' own risk. Monsieur had, however, an interview with the Prince Regent, whose warm hopes for his success he published in the Press the next day. The Prince Regent, indeed, made no secret of his opinions, which the Foreign Ambassadors hastened to tell their Courts--one eventual result being, as we have seen, the unfortunate incident between Alexander and Castlereagh at Troyes. 1
Liverpool expressed his disgust at Monsieur's disregard of the proprieties, and had it been possible would no doubt have used similar language about the Prince Regent. Monsieur, however, informed him before his departure that the Bourbons, if restored, would accept the ancient limits. This was bidding high for support, as they had never thus committed themselves before. But the Cabinet were steadfast in their adherence to Castlereagh's policy. 2
Castlereagh meanwhile, as has been seen, had found little support for the Bourbons at headquarters. He had, however, got Metternich's apparent agreement to the alternatives of Bonaparte or the Bourbons in order to check the Tsar's supposed plans for Bernadotte. But the Tsar was obviously hostile, and Castlereagh had merely laid down at Langres that peace should be offered to Bonaparte, leaving entirely undecided what should happen if he refused it, or if he was to lose the support of the French people.
This situation continued throughout February and the
1 Liverpool's memorandum and correspondence with Monsieur: W.S.D. viii. 485-90. "Bathurst to Wellington, Jan. 7": Lond. MSS. From Liverpool, Jan. 6, 1814; "from Bathurst, Jan. 7, 1814": Lond. MSS. Appendix, p. 512. The Cabinet was scattered as usual when Parliament was up. Mulgrave was strongly against action, Harrowby inclined to it: Bathurst, 255, 260.
2 "From Liverpool, Jan. 20, 21, 1814": Lond. MSS., Appendix, pp. 516, 518. "Bathurst to Wellington, Jan. 18, 1814": W.S.D. viii. 519.
first half of March. Angoulême went to Passages, but kept away from Wellington, who found but little demand for him amongst the occupied provinces, though the British troops were received with but little hostility. Monsieur went to Vesoul, whence he wrote to the Tsar, who sent a cold reply. The Cabinet continued to support Castlereagh in his policy of negotiation with Bonaparte, though public opinion in Britain became more and more vehement for his dethronement.
The St. Aignan documents were now published by Napoleon and caused an outburst of indignation in London. "You can scarcely have an idea how insane people are in this country on the subject of any peace with Bonaparte," wrote Liverpool on February 12, "and I should really not be surprised at any public manifestation of indignation upon the first intelligence of a peace with him being received"; and he drew again the moral that though peace might have to be made it must be such as would stand the scrutiny of a hostile public. The reports of the Ambassadors confirm this point of view, and there were about this time hints that the Prince Regent would send for Wellesley. His organ, the Times, was especially violent in its denunciation of Bonaparte. Liverpool never wavered, but he admitted that the Cabinet did not want a peace with Bonaparte, who must be worse for Europe than any other Government whatever in France. 1
This letter cannot have been very pleasing reading to Castlereagh, who received it at Bar-sur-Aube when the Allies were in retreat and threatened with dissolution, but the same mail brought some cheering words from the faithful Cooke: "We have great confidence in what you will settle, and I think it will not be a hard matter to put the public mind right. It is difficult to enter any measures for that purpose, whilst it is of consequence to keep the designs of the Government in obscurity."Liverpool also loyally gave encouragement when Castlereagh's later reports began to arrive and he realised more of the situation. The Courier got hold of the terms which had been offered at Châtillon, as Cooke thought, through some leakage in London. Cooke, however, was stout in defence of
1 "From Liverpool, Feb. 8, 12, 1814": Lond. MSS., Appendix, pp. 520, 521. "From Hamilton, Feb. 8, 1814": C.C. ix. 254. "Wessenberg to Matternich, Feb. 17. 1814" : Vienna St. A.
Castlereagh's policy, and Liverpool did not waver. The only criticism on the draft treaty was that Sardinia had been omitted. "Peace is as unpopular as ever," Liverpool reported on the 17th; but he reassured him that the Cabinet was united and would not fall and that Castlereagh would have their full support. When, therefore, he received the news of the Lieven intrigue and Robinson's account of all that had happened, his private letter was all that Castlereagh could desire. The official instruction expressly allowed him to conclude peace with the de facto ruler of France, while Lieven was made to feel the weight of Liverpool's displeasure and anxiety at what had taken place. This was doubtless all the more genuine since the incident caused friction between the Prince Regent and the Cabinet, and it took all Eldon's influence to make George give way to the opinion of his Ministers. 1
Then came the check to the allied armies which, as has been seen, nearly dissolved the coalition. This made all but the most violent of the supporters of the Bourbons hesitate. Even Bathurst had admitted that if Bonaparte were dethroned there was no agreement as to his successor, while there was the undoubted fact that no overt Bourbon movement had been detected in France in spite of allied occupation in north and south, as Liverpool pointed out to the Marquis of Hertford for the edification of the Prince Regent. Meanwhile Wellington was informing the Duc d'Angoulême that he saw no chance of a movement for the Bourbons unless the Allies took their adherents under their protection. 2
1 "From Liverpool, Feb. 17, 27, 1814": Lond. MSS., Appendix, pp. 522, 523. "From Bathurst, Feb. 17, 1814": B.D.161. "From Cooke, Feb. 12, 1814": Lond. MSS. ; Feb. 19, 1814: C.C. ix. 280. "Wessenberg to Metternich, Feb. 15, 17, 22, 1814": Vienna St. A. "Jacobi to Hardenberg, Feb. 15, 18, 1814" : Berlin St. A. "Lieven to Nesselrode, March 1, 1814": Pet. Arch. Sir Charles Flint to Peel, March 2, 1814: "The Prince, I hear, is in a very bad humour and has been so ever since Robinson's arrival. He cannot bear the idea of peace with Bonaparte. I suspect the Chancellor [ Eldon] has had a very difficult task in making H.R.H. yield to the opinion of the Cabinet. He used to pass three hours at a time with the Prince and almost every day while Robinson was here." Parker, Life of Peel, i. 127. Horner, though himself against the restoration, wrote on the 22nd that "public opinion is an amusing subject of observation at this moment; I never knew it more violent or more nearly unanimous." Horner, Memoirs, ii. 159.
2 See supra, p. 219. Bathurst to Wellington, Feb. 26, 1814, in sending the Châtillon terms of peace: " The Allies cannot agree who to favour.
It was not till the middle of March that the patience of the Cabinet gave way. Then they began to chafe at the long delay at Châtillon. Bathurst, always the most ardent, controverted Castlereagh's assertions that the Bourbons had no adherents and urged on him Wellington's view that a declaration of the Allies was necessary before a rising could be expected. By March 19 the dissatisfaction had gone so far that an official instruction was sent to Castlereagh to bring the Châtillon negotiations to a close or withdraw the British offers of colonial concessions. The majority of the Cabinet were now in favour of no peace with Bonaparte, the Prince Regent openly supported them, and the Press were frantic. Grenville was on the same side, though Grey and a portion of the Whigs did not follow him. Only Liverpool's steadfast adherence to the principle on which Castlereagh was acting, that no steps should be taken to overthrow Napoleon while the negotiation was going on, prevented definite orders being sent that no peace was to be made.
The effect of the news of Bordeaux's declaration for the Bourbons was, however, irresistible and affected all classes. "The Methodists and the women are particularly warlike," noted Stratford Canning, while Merveldt in great alarm pleaded for the return of Castlereagh, who alone could bring his countrymen to reason. "The only man is absent," he lamented, "who, according to general opinion, is the soul of the present ministry . . . Lord Castlereagh. Lord Sidmouth and Mr. Vansittart, who are the strongest after him, are not strong enough to support the fears of their other colleagues, and especially of Lord Harrowby and Lord Liverpool. The last named especially is even more timorous and quite in. capable of maintaining his opinion against his colleagues and the unanimous voice of the City of London without some external aid." Jacobi was less certain of the weakness of the
It is therefore difficult to protest against the existing Government if we cannot agree on a successor." Liverpool to Hertford, March 9, 1814: "I think it is highly probable that there is scarcely a large town in France in which there are not some friends to the Bourbon cause--but that this sentiment is at all general in the eastern and central provinces of that country thro' which the allied armies have been marching is at direct variance with every report, official or unofficial, political or military. received by the Government."Lond. MSS. "Wellington to d'Angoulême. March 3, 1814": Gurwood, xi. 543.
Cabinet, but he had no doubts of their decision, and Lieven, who alone seems to have been told of it, was delighted at the result.
For Liverpool and the Cabinet had immediately decided that no peace must now be signed with Napoleon by Britain, whether the Allies wished it or not, and official instructions to that effect had been sent to Castlereagh on March 22. Even if he had signed, ratification must be considered doubtful until the situation was known. Liverpool's private letter displayed his anxiety and embarrassment: "We never should be forgiven if we made peace with Bonaparte under these circumstances, unless forced to by the Allies." Cooke, who had promised all support for a peace until this moment, sent a similar word of warning. 1
Fortunately for Castlereagh no such problem was presented to him. By the time the dispatches reached him not only had the Châtillon negotiations been broken off, but other events had happened which made action for the Bourbons not only justifiable but also practical.
The exact processes by which France was induced to accept the Bourbons is still a matter of dispute. The evidence is obscured by the self-interest and vanity of the actors who took part in it, many of whom subsequently compiled memoirs in which truth is generally subordinated to the display of the writer's own importance. Nevertheless, even in such a delicate negotiation a good deal of contemporary evidence was accumulated in letters and notes, and from this a fair idea of Castlereagh's share in it can be obtained, however much he was himself inclined to minimise it. He had moved with Metternich, Hardenberg, and the Emperor of Austria to Bar-sur-Aube. The Tsar, on the other hand, had remained with Schwarzenberg when the latter had at last been induced to join in a forward movement, which largely by
1 Lane-Poole, Life of Stratford Canning. i. 204. "From Bathurst, March 11, 1814": Lond. MSS.; March 19, 22, 1814: B.D.166, 171. "From Liverpool, March 19, 21, 22, 1814": Lond. MSS., Appendix, pp. 527-30. From Cooke, March 22, 1814: "If . . . after knowing the proceedings at Bordeaux, you shall authorise the signature, I fear the case must be of extreme urgency to make it any degree supportable here." C.C. ix. 382 (where wrongly copied). "Merveldt to Metternich, March 25, 1814": Vienna St. A. "Jacobi to Hardenberg, March 25, 1814": Berlin St. A. "Lieven to Nesselrode, March 25, 1814": Pet. Arch.
Alexander's influence was continued by the Austrians as well as the Prussians and Russians when Bonaparte threw himself on the rear of the allied armies in a vain effort to stop the advance.
The allied sovereigns were thus about to be separated when at last a communication came from Paris with the object of concerting with the Allies for the overthrow of Bonaparte. This emissary, Vitrolles, a returned émigré, whose station was below his ambition, had set out before the rupture of negotiations to Châtillon. He came with a note to Metternich from d'Alberg, while Talleyrand was cognisant of the mission though not of all the Bourbon plans of the emissary and was anxious to avoid responsibility. Stadion sent him from Châtillon to Troyes to Metternich, who gave him no encouragement, being still in negotiation with Caulaincourt and having not yet abandoned hope of peace with Napoleon or a Regency. After this check, Vitrolles obtained through Nesselrode an interview on the 17th with the Tsar, who was about to join Schwarz. enberg. The Tsar was in complete accord with Vitrolles that no peace should be made with Napoleon, but he shewed no wish to ensure a Bourbon restoration. The choice, he said, even if it were a republic, must be left to France. He agreed, however, that a march on Paris would mean the end of Napoleon, and it is probable that he was by this time far more reconciled to a Bourbon restoration than he had ever previously been, otherwise Castlereagh would hardly have written two days before: "I have seen a great deal of the Emperor, and his tone of thinking is perfectly satisfactory to me." But the Tsar was absorbed with military plans; time enough to settle the question of the dynasty when he had entered Paris and displayed his power and magnanimity to the French people. Vitrolles went on to Bar-sur-Aube, where on the 19th he again saw Metternich and this time Castlereagh. He demanded that the Allies should no longer treat with Napoleon but with France, or, better still, with Monsieur, who should be encouraged to administer the occupied provinces and supplied with funds. According to his own account, they received him with suspicion and reserve-especially Castlereagh. It is easy to believe him when he reports the "impassibility" and "imperturbable silence" with which Castlereagh received these communications, but hardly when he claims that Castlereagh eventually replied that the Bourbon cause was unpopular in England. 1
Nevertheless, Castlereagh and Metternich were impressed with Vitrolles' possibilities, however much they took pains not to commit themselves. Castlereagh told his Cabinet two days later that the communication had been conveyed "through a channel peculiarly competent in point of ability to develop the views of those concerned," "persons of no mean weight in France." They wished to send Vitrolles straight back to Paris, where they rightly concluded that the issue would be decided. But when Vitrolles insisted on going first to Monsieur at Nancy, they sent with him a cautious document drawn up by Metternich, which, however, offered him the revenues of any province he could get to support him, while the plotters in Paris were encouraged to go on and assured that an amnesty would be obtained for them if they were unsuccessful. Castlereagh also offered cash, but he wished it to pass to its destination through allied hands in order to avoid the political difficulty "which must always attend, in a Government like ours, the voting of a sum of money for effectuating a change in the Government of France." He was, indeed, very anxious to avoid direct responsibility, his object being, as he explained, "to bring Great Britain forward in whatever may regard the interior of France rather as the ally and auxiliary of the continental Powers, than as charging herself in chief, and making herself responsible for what cannot be conducted under the superintendence of her own Government." His parting words to Vitrolles were: "Let those act who are stronger than we are and more free to make decisions." 2
At this interesting stage developments were checked by the fact that headquarters were chivied from one town to another by Napoleon's rapid movements, with the result that while the Tsar and the King of Prussia remained with the
1 "To Liverpool, March 15, 1814": F.O. Continent, 3. Vitrolles, Mémoires, i. 119, 139 ff.
2 To Liverpool, March 22, 1814: B.D.168. Vitrolles, Mémoires, i. 140.
armies which were pressing on to Paris, the Emperor of Austria with Metternich, Hardenberg, and Castlereagh found refuge in Dijon, where they arrived on March 24. Castlereagh seems to have thrived on these hardships, for Lady Burghersh, who had herself an exciting escape from the French, was in raptures over his appearance and his reputation: "You never saw such a beauty as Lord Castlereagh has become. He is as brown as a berry with a fine bronzed colour and wears a fur cap with gold and is really quite charming. There never was anybody so looked up to as he is here."
It was in Dijon that in the course of the next few days the fate of the Bourbons was decided. The declaration drawn up on the rupture of the Châtillon negotiations still lacked the Tsar's signature and was not issued until the 28th, but by that time it was out of date. Münster was able to report on the 23rd that it had been decided to support the Bourbons, though the Tsar's absence had delayed matters. The Emperor of Austria was still in some doubt, but Metternich and his master finally yielded to the logic of events and the unceasing pressure of Castlereagh. All hesitation was finally removed by the news which reached Dijon on the 26th that Bordeaux had declared for the Bourbons. On the 27th Metternich sent a cold answer, concerted with Castlereagh, to an urgent appeal from Caulaincourt, and on the 28th, in what seems to have been a very gay party at Castlereagh's house, Metternich, Hardenberg, Razumovski, Münster, the envoys of Holland, Bavaria, and Spain, and their host drank openly to the success of the Bourbon cause. 1
The Emperor of Austria now consented to send an envoy, Bombelles, to Monsieur with the conditions of allied recognition of the Bourbon cause. These were drawn up in a broad
1 Rose Weigall, Letters of Lady Burgkosh, 205. "To Liverpool, March 29, 1814" (enclosing "Metternich to Caulaincourt. March 27, 1814"): F.O. Continent, 3; March 30, 1814:
B.D.173. "Münster to the Prince Regent, March 23, 30, 1814": Hanover St. A. "Verger to King of Bavaria, March 28, 29, 1814": " Le Comte de Stadion porte le premier toast au brave Maire de Bordeaux qui avait arboré la cocarde blanche, Milord à Louis XVIII., puis au peuple français, en suite aux princes alliés. Tout le monde fit chorus. Ce diner memorable qui assure le pavilion blanc prouve que dans ce sens nous avons passé le Rubicon." Munich St. A. Cf. also Bath Archives, ii. 417.
spirit, for they required that Monsieur should undertake to rule constitutionally, to recognise the confiscation of the lands of the nobility, to guarantee the public debt of France, and to maintain the existing civil and military officials in their situations. Castlereagh had no doubt of success, and hastened to tell Wellington for the edification of the Duc d'Angoulême: " The Congress is over. The Allies support the King. . . . The old family must take the Government as they find it, confirm the proprietors without reserve, and use the public men, civil and military, of latter times." These decisions had arisen out of the nature of things and had hardly been affected by the instructions which Castlereagh had received on the 28th, though Metternich used them as a justification for his actions. But as Castlereagh wrote officially to his Cabinet: "I need hardly assure your Lordship that upon a manifestation of national sentiment so striking against the authority of the existing Government, I should have felt it my duty, unsanctioned by an order from home, to have acted upon the reservation of the 29th of January, and should have suspended further negotiation till the Prince Regent's pleasure was declared. As it is I have only to rejoice that the allied councils are now wholly unembarrassed on this subject by the previous rupture of the conferences at Châtillon." This, of course, since it was written possibly for publication, did not tell all, but Castlereagh had all along made clear that rupture with Napoleon was to be followed by active assistance to the Bourbons. 1
When Napoleon himself, therefore, was induced to make one final attempt to save his throne for his son by an appeal to his father-in-law, there was no chance of a hearing. This approach was made through no other than the unfortunate Wessenberg, who, at last released from his painful mission in London, was taken by French soldiers on his way to rejoin his master. Napoleon, in a long interview, offered to resign in favour of a Regency under Marie Louise, but even now it
1 "Instructions to Bombelles": F.O. Continent, 3. "To Wellington, March 31, 1814": F.O. Cont. Arch., 5, and W.S.D. viii. 708 (where it is wrongly presumed to be for Bathurst).
"To Liverpool, March 30, 1814": F.O. Continent, 4. "Metternich to Hudelist, March 30, 1814": Fournier, Congress. 266.
is interesting to note he could not bring himself to sacrifice the place which had been Castlereagh's main object since he came on the Continent. "I must keep Antwerp," he said, "since without this place France will not soon again possess a fleet. I am ready to give up all the colonies if by this sacrifice I can keep the mouth of the Scheldt for France." " England," he added later, "is now the most reasonable of the Allies, and Castlereagh seems to me a most estimable man." But words like these, which we may be sure Wessenberg would not have reported had they not been uttered, were now of no avail. Steps had already been taken on Castlereagh's initiative to ensure that wife and son shared Napoleon's downfall. 1
For, meanwhile, important communications had been taking place with Paris. Since Vitrolles did not return, Castlereagh opened another route through the agency of a friend there, "whom I knew to be with the party likely to conduct the expected movement." This was fortunate, for the Bourbon party were hoping to obtain assistance from Bernadotte, who was intriguing in a mysterious way with both them and Joseph. His emissary, Vielcastel, had already given out in the south that his master was to be made Lieutenant-General and to govern in the name of the Bourbons. Bernadotte himself left his army and made a hurried journey in the direction of Paris, refusing Thornton's advice to visit Monsieur "on the ground of his entire ignorance of the wishes and sentiments of the Allies, and on the bad effect which in this state of ignorance such conduct might produce upon the minds of the Swedish people." But the Count de Montagnac, sent out from Paris to get in touch with him, failed to find him, and learnt from Bülow that the Prince Royal was in no way authorised to act for the Allies as those in Paris had imagined. Montagnac was therefore, when Castlereagh's message arrived, sent back to Dijon, and he was able to return with the promise of allied support under the signatures of Castlereagh, Hardenberg, and Metternich. Favourable answers were received from Paris quite decisive in favour of the Bourbons.
It was even more important that the Tsar was now also
1 Arneth, Life of Wessenberg, i. 188 ff.
prepared to acquiesce. "The Emperor is weaned of his false notions on this point," stated Castlereagh, "and we have a secret intimation from Nesselrode through Schwarzenberg that the Prince Royal's intrigue with Joseph is understood, and that Talleyrand and others in authority will counteract it." At the same time Bombelles returned on April 4 from his mission to Monsieur, bringing back "most satisfactory assurances of His Royal Highness's readiness on the part of the King to adopt every measure that can tranquillise and conciliate the nation."
Bernadotte was thus completely frustrated in the design which Castlereagh believed, in the light of subsequent disclosures, he had harboured to the last. The intercepted letter of an emissary of Napoleon to Berthier appeared to shew that he was ready to abandon the allied cause, and his conduct certainly needed explanation. "It is clear," wrote Castlereagh on May 3, after a review of these events, "he never meant more than to make the Bourbons the instruments of his own elevation, notwithstanding his assurances to me thro' Thornton (who has been his dupe throughout) that there was no middle line between Louis XVIII. and Bonaparte." 1
Castlereagh and Metternich were therefore able to remain in tranquil confidence at Dijon while the momentous events were in progress at Paris. Neither, it may be imagined, was very anxious to be present at the capital. The Emperor of Austria could not fail to be embarrassed at appearing on the scene while matters were still undecided and refusing all support to the claims of his daughter and grandchild, while Castlereagh had continually insisted on his anxiety to keep his share in the restoration as much out of sight as possible. They alleged, therefore, that the roads were unsafe for travel, and Castlereagh's annoyance with Lady Burghersh, who hastened to join her husband in Paris, for proving these
1 To Liverpool, March 30, April 4, 1814: B.D.173, 174; April 4, May 3, 1814: F.O. Continent, 4. The friend in Paris may have been the English agent Darby, or another of his kind, or perhaps the Princess de Vaudemont, of whom Vitrolles informs us there was mention at their first meeting. Castlereagh had met her at Hamburg during his first visit to the Continent ( Vitrolles, Mémoires, i. 135). "From Thornton, April 8, 1814": F.O. Sweden, 91. fears false may well have been real, though not for the motives she had imagined. 1 The allied armies, meanwhile, inspired with energy by the Tsar, were on the 29th outside the capital, which no foreign army had entered since the days of Jeanne d'Arc, and Marmont was beaten in a last battle on the heights of Montmartre. But by this time the adherents of the Bourbons had already made their plans, and Talleyrand had at last decided to place himself at their head. It was he who visited the Tsar and arranged for the capitulation of the capital. On March 30 the Tsar and the King of Prussia, with the allied generals and suites, made a magnificent entry. Stewart and Cathcart and seven other British officers were amongst them--" Lord Cathcart in scarlet regimentals, his low, flat cocked hat forming a striking contrast to all the others. Sir Charles Stewart was covered with orders and conspicuous by his fantastic dress, evidently composed of what he deemed every army's best." The Tsar was Talleyrand's guest, since there were rumours that the Palace Élysée was mined, and between him and Talleyrand was arranged the capitulation of Marmont, the declaration which refused to treat with Napoleon or any of his army, and, finally, the restoration of the Bourbons as constitutional monarchs on terms such as Talleyrand thought best for Franca and for himself. 2
It was the Tsar who made all these decisions on the part of the Allies, for the King of Prussia without his Minister was powerless, while Schwarzenberg was put on one side completely. Lord Stewart, who depicted in vivid and excited language the dramatic scenes of the allied entry, gradually became much perturbed and wrote daily that Castlereagh's presence was urgently needed. But the progress of events was already decided between Talleyrand and the allied Ministers, and Castlereagh made no haste to join his brother.
1 Rose Weigall, Letters of Lady Burghersh, 221-23.
2 [Underwood) A Narrative of Memorable Events its Paris in the Year 1814, 105. The best account of these events is in M. Dupuis' Ministère de Talleyrand en 1814, vol. i. chap. 5 ( 1919). M. Lacour-Gayet Talleyrand, vol. ii., 1799- 1815 ( 1930). adds but little to our knowledge, though the author has had access to the Talleyrand Archives. Like many French writers, he has neglected works in any other language but French.
Though the marshals made an attempt to secure a Regency and the Tsar hesitated for a moment, the issue was never really in doubt. On the 5th Stewart was able to announce that the marshals' attempts had been defeated. On the 6th Napoleon himself had agreed to the Tsar's terms, and all obstacles in the way of a Bourbon restoration were at an end. The principle on which Castlereagh had insisted on his first entry into the allied councils had prevailed, and the Tsar was himself the instrument of the restoration of the family which he had so much despised and detracted. 1
In two respects, however, the absence of allied Ministers influenced events at Paris. The way was made easier for the constitution which the Senate adopted at Talleyrand's instigation. This certainly went further than either Metternich or Castlereagh preferred, and they were not satisfied with the manner in which the Tsar had given it encouragement. "The declaration, which had been signed by the Emperor of Russia," wrote Castlereagh, "is not a very orthodox instrument--in so far as it is a pledge to guarantee a constitution without knowing what it is." This declaration, made by the Tsar in the name of the coalition on March 31, was indeed the work of Talleyrand, who was determined to make constitutional government a fait accompli before the legitimate King's representative appeared on the scene. It made no mention of the Bourbons, but declared that the Allies would not treat with Napoleon nor any member of his family, that France should have at least her ancient limits, and that the Allies would respect and guarantee the constitution which the French nation should choose. We may imagine that if Metternich and Castlereagh had been present they would not have been so complacent. Nor would they have given Talleyrand the support which the Tsar proffered, so that he
1 "To Liverpool, April 4, 1814": B.D.174. "From Stewart, April 1, 4. 5, 6": C.C. ix. 415, 418, 436, 440, 441, 442; April 5, 1814: "[The Regency] has been most peremptorily refused, and if there were no other reasons there is indisputable proof, I am told, that this child is not the son of the Empress Maria Louisa, but that she was delivered of a dead child and this infant was substituted from a girl of one or two that Bonaparte had at the moment at hand in case of accidents. I have heard this from such authority that I can hardly doubt it," F.O. Prussia, 97. This passage, which repeated a current slander, was wisely omitted from the same letter printed in C.C. ix. 44.
was able to get a constitution adopted by the Senate before the abdication of Napoleon was consummated or there was any possibility of interference by Monsieur. But Castlereagh and Metternich had, after all, already committed themselves to some form of constitution in their correspondence with Monsieur, and the final result of Talleyrand's efforts was not harshly judged by Castlereagh. Though Cooke's susceptibilities were shocked ("Such a House of Lordsl without family, property, character!") Castlereagh was not altogether displeased at Talleyrand's work. "The concession of the hereditary principle to the existing Senators is a great fault," he said, after he had had time for consideration, and this view has been supported by most modern critics. For the rest, he was mainly concerned that the new bodies should have the right to modify the Charte without reference to the people, and thus build up something which was more likely to correspond to the needs of France than Talleyrand's hasty improvisation. He had no great confidence that any form of words could replace experience and experiment in constitutional matters. 1
Far more serious in his view was the arrangement that had been made for Napoleon. It was the Tsar's magnanimity that secured for the fallen Emperor his title and the island of Elba in full sovereignty. Talleyrand and the provisional Government had no share in the offer. Stewart was instantly in alarm and made a notable prophecy when he suggested that "it might be well to consider, before the act is irretrievable, whether a far less dangerous retreat might not be found, and whether Napoleon may not bring the powder to the iron mines which the island of Elba is so famed for." Many others, and not least the British Government, shared these fears, while Liverpool pointed out that Elba was considered by many persons as the best naval station in the
1 "To Liverpool, April 4, 1814": B.D.174. From Cooke, April 14, 1814. "To Liverpool, April 20, 1814": C.C. ix. 462, 481. "Münster to the Prince Regent, April 20, 1814": "I venture the belief that, if the Ministers of England, of Austria, and of Prussia had been present at the taking of the capital of France, they would not have agreed to the declaration made in the name of the Allies by the Emperor Alexander on the 31st March. This declaration (made by M. de Talleyrand) is a veritable Pandora's box." Münster, 151.
Mediterranean. But when Castlereagh arrived in Paris on the 10th he found the decision irrevocable. It was considered imperative to get Napoleon off the scene as soon as possible so that the allegiance of the army to the new régime could be secured. Nor was it easy to find any other refuge for him less objectionable to which he was at all likely to consent. His Corsican home was just as dangerous, and in any case his rival Pozzo di Borgo, now in great favour with the Tsar, would never have allowed it. "I did not feel," reported Castlereagh, "that I could encourage the alternative which Caulaincourt assured me Bonaparte repeatedly mentioned, namely, an asylum in England." Thus he had reluctantly to agree, refusing, however, to recognise the title of Emperor on behalf of Britain, to whom Napoleon remained legally General Bonaparte until the day of his death. Nevertheless, Napoleon continued during his journey to Elba to express the wish to reside in Britain, and Castlereagh was inclined to consider it. He had less hesitation in recognising the grant of Parma duchies to the Empress and her son. It was, in a sense, a concession to the Emperor of Austria rather than to Napoleon. It was by Castlereagh's suggestion, however, that the imperial titles of the Napoleonic family were limited to the lives of the holders, so that a dynasty which Britain had never recognised would ultimately cease to exist even in name so far as treaties could accomplish the fact. 1
These reservations shew the passion which inspired British statesmen who had lived under the shadow of Napoleon's ambition almost the whole of their political life. But to France and her restored King, Castlereagh and his colleagues were in a kindlier mood. To this they were helped not only by their especial interest in the Bourbon restoration, but also
1 "Stewart to Bathurst, April 7, 1814": C.C. ix. 450. "From Liverpool, April 9, 1814": Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 532. "To Liverpool, April 13, 1814": B.D.175. It is impossible to believe Napoleon's assertion ( O'Meara, A Voice from St. Helena, 497-98) that Castlereagh actually offered him an asylum in England. But he would have preferred him there to Elba. "To Liverpool, May 5, 1814": "If his taste for an asylum in England should continue, would you allow him to reside in some distant province? It would obviate much alarm on the Continent": C.C. x. 10. Fouché urged Napoleon to go to the United States. Yonge, Liverpool, i. 507. Münster, 166.
by some natural jealousy of the position which the Tsar had obtained by his magnanimous and liberal attitude. His protection of the constitution had aroused much enthusiasm amongst the Opposition in Britain, and at Paris he stood out far above his fellow - sovereigns. Though a separate and magnificent reception was arranged for the Emperor of Austria, Francis was ill at ease and had none of the Tsar's popular gifts. When, therefore, Monsieur arrived in Paris and negotiations were begun, Castlereagh was anxious to be as accommodating as possible. It had, at first, been decided to make a preliminary treaty of peace with France, but as it was urgently necessary to arrange for the withdrawal of the allied armies and the restoration of the allied fortresses still in French hands, some simpler instrument was necessary to effect this quickly. Accordingly, negotiations were at once begun for this purpose with Talleyrand, who was accepted by Monsieur as Foreign Minister, though in domestic matters his opinions were by no means approved. Castlereagh was anxious to allow France to retain the fleet captured in Antwerp, but the Cabinet's consent could not be obtained and this point was left open in the Convention signed on the 23rd. The discussion of the terms of peace had already begun, and Castlereagh hoped that they would not take longer than a month. As the line to which the armies retired was that of the 1792 frontier, it was clear what the territorial basis of the peace would be. 1
Meanwhile, the return of Louis XVIII. to his kingdom had been delayed by a severe and inopportune attack of gout. The British Government treated him with the greatest consideration and loaned him £100,000 to pay off his debts and prepare for his new magnificence. They also agreed to continue their allowances to the distressed émigrés until the restored monarch was in command of a revenue. When at last he was able to move, he was received by the Prince Regent and the enthusiastic applause of the populace. He replied to the Prince Regent's congratulations: "It is to the counsels of your Royal Highness, to this glorious country, and to the
1 To Liverpool, April 19, 20, 1814: C.C. ix. 472, 480, 482. From Liverpool, April 14, 1814: Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 534.
steadfastness of its inhabitants that I attribute, next after the will of Providence, the re-establishment of my house on the throne of its ancestors." The tribute was genuine and truer than most royal speeches, but it was hardly likely to commend him to his faithful subjects. It had, however, a reassuring effect on the British Cabinet, of whom the Prime Minister and several of his colleagues accompanied Louis and the Prince Regent to Dover, whence the King sailed on Sunday, though Wilberforce was much distressed that these duties interfered with the higher ones due to the Sabbath day. Liverpool was not afraid that the Tsar would have too much influence on the restored monarch. On the contrary, he welcomed the efforts which Pozzo di Borgo, whom the Tsar had sent over to accompany and advise the King, made to overcome the prejudices of the émigrés by whom Louis was surrounded. "Strange as it may appear," Liverpool wrote to Castlereagh as the royal yacht was escorted from Dover by the Lord High Admiral, "[the French] are in better humour with the Austrian Government, and more inclined to confide in them, than in any of the Allies, except ourselves." 1
The exception was, however, important. Louis was genuinely grateful, and if gratitude was not an emotion in which Talleyrand indulged, other motives led him in the same direction. They were shared by few other Frenchmen, who saw in Britain the most successful and obvious of her foes, but they were to affect profoundly the reconstruction of Europe. First of all, however, France had to make her own peace with her victorious enemies.
1 From Liverpool, April 26, 1814: Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 538. Liverpool to De Chastre, April 22, 1814: Paris A.A.E. Angleterre Supplement, 22, f. 6.
4. BENTINCK AND MURAT
By June 1813 Bentinck had driven Marie Caroline from Sicily, and, convinced that the future of the constitutional system was thus ensured, he had sailed to join in the grand attack in Spain. It was on the way there that he had his first negotiation with the man who possessed some of the same qualities of mind as himself and the same ambitious view of the future of Italy. Murat, urged perhaps by his wife, was already considering treachery to the Emperor and in secret negotiation with Metternich. Since April he had been seeking a means to get in touch with Bentinck through the British Commander on the isle of Ponza. Bentinck did not refuse the approach, being anxious to sound Murat's mind, and he informed the Prince of the suggestion and asked him whether he, while maintaining fully his own rights, would agree to Murat keeping Naples until the Allies found an equivalent elsewhere. The Prince evaded the question, but Bentinck went himself to Ponza and made the offer in a written communication to Murat's representatives, one of whom, Jones, was a British subject. Though nothing came of this attempt, it had an influence on the instructions which Castlereagh sent out in August. 1
These were drafted for Aberdeen, while Bentinck was conducting his unsuccessful diversion in the east of Spain
1 The Ponza negotiations are fully described by M. H. Weil in his Prince Eughm of Murat 1813-14, i. 60-75. This work ( 5 vols., 1902), the result of prolonged researches in French, Austrian, and Italian archives and in the Record Office, will always be the principal authority for the subject, but its translations of British documents are untrustworthy and some of the most important are not included. R. M. Johnston ( "Bentinck and Murat," English Historical Review, April 1904, xix. 278) exaggerated these defects. Masson's analysis of Murat in Napoleon et sa famille is based on much documentary evidence which, however, he always refused to make clear by annotation. and Murat in sudden repentance was joining the Emperor at Dresden. As has been seen, they contemplated as a last resort that Murat should keep Naples and Ferdinand be compensated, though Castlereagh much preferred the alternative which Bentinck had suggested at Ponza. Aberdeen had hastened, however, to inform Metternich of the extreme limit to which he could go, and after Leipzig, where Murat fought at the Emperor's side, the negotiations were resumed on this basis. Austria preferred to re-establish herself in north Italy by negotiation rather than conquest, thus saving her army, while the pressure on Napoleon would, of course, be greatly increased if Murat came over to the allied cause immediately. By December, therefore, as a result of an agreement between Aberdeen and Metternich at Frankfort, in which the former stressed the necessity of finding an equivalent for Ferdinand, Count Neipperg was sent to Naples to conclude a treaty with Murat on that condition, while Aberdeen wrote to Bentinck to urge him to do likewise, so that the Neapolitan and Anglo-Sicilian forces might combine with the Austrian army under Bellegarde to overthrow the skilful and determined resistance of Eugène Beauharnais in the north and begin a new invasion of France south of the Alps. 1
Meanwhile the new constitution had not been fulfilling expectations, and Lord Montgomerie, whom Bentinck had left in charge, was soon writing despairing letters to his chief. For the moment even Bentinck's courage seems to have failed; for he asked to be relieved of his political duties and even for leave to come home to look after his seat in Parliament, but Castlereagh refused on the plea that no satisfactory substitute could be found. Bentinck accordingly returned to Sicily in October, where his energies were soon absorbed in the constitutional struggle. The newly elected House had, alas! abandoned British principles and turned to Jacobinism. Bentinck administered immediately stern reproof. "The British power," he insisted, "had been interposed to ameliorate the condition of the people and to bring forward the
1 See above, Chapter III., Section 3, p. 159. Aberdeen to Bentinck, Dec. 12, 1813: Weil, Eugène et Murat, iii. 229.
resources of the state; but it was never intended to permit the introduction of a wild democracy or to allow the Crown to be endangered and the island to be reduced to still greater weakness by a misguided Parliament." He expressed his firm determination to stop these errors, got a new Ministry appointed and Parliament dissolved, issued a proclamation and went himself on an election campaign all over the island. The results were apparently of the best so far as Parliament was concerned, but one less happy was that for over two months Bentinck had no time for continental affairs and did nothing to prepare for the new situation in Italy. In particular, he made no mention to the Sicilian Royal Family of the instructions which Castlereagh had sent to him in July and August. 1
At any rate, when Murat approached him with a view to concluding a treaty, he refused to listen. The whole situation had changed, he informed Castlereagh, since he had received his instructions. So far from Murat getting better terms than had been offered at Ponza in June, Bentinck was now doubtful whether he ought to be given any terms at all. It was in vain that Murat's agents told him that British approval had been given to the Austrian offer. Bentinck replied that he knew nothing of it, and refused even to discuss the terms of an armistice much less a treaty.
For these excuses there was much to be said. Until, at any rate, Bentinck heard from Aberdeen he might be pardoned for refusing to take any step which would jeopardise the rights of the Sicilian crown. But it is clear that he was thinking of far other things than the interests of King Ferdinand. For while he made no mention of Castlereagh's instructions to the Prince, it was in early December that he made, on his own responsibility as a private individual, the amazing suggestion that the British crown should become the sovereign of Sicily. The Prince's reception of the proposal made him admit that the idea was only a 'philosopher's dream.' When two months later, as a result of the inquiries in London of Prince Castelcicala, who saw in the incident a chance of getting rid of
1 To Bentinck, Sept. 16, 1813: F.O. Sicily, 56. From Bentinck. Aug. 31, 1812: C.C. ix. 44; Sept. 3, Oct. 19. Nov. 1, Dec. 20, 1812: F.O. Sicily, 59.
Bentinck altogether, he was forced to confess this action to Castlereagh, he seems to have had but little idea of the absurdity and danger of such a request. "I perhaps ought to apologise," he wrote, "for having taken upon myself to originate propositions of such high interest without any knowledge of the wishes of the British Government. But the moment offered and there was no time for reference, and I considered myself as much bound by duty as prompted by inclination to put it in the power of the British Government to have made an arrangement which, in my judgment, would have been beneficial to all parties, but especially to Sicily and Great Britain--to the first by the restoration of its ancient greatness and of its long lost happiness, to the latter by adding to its possessions a source of infinite honour and strength without the ordinary disadvantages of foreign dominions."
Castlereagh's comments on this performance were, as Bentinck gratefully admitted, full of "kindness and consideration." Both he and Liverpool tried to throw as much blame as possible on Castelcicala for founding an official inquiry on a private communication, but the incident shewed, as they were just realising, how dangerous the unbalanced schemes of Bentinck might become unless he was checked by peremptory orders from above. 1
For the moment the only effect of this extraordinary action was to bring the King back to Palermo and unite the Sicilian family, including Orleans, more closely together than they had been for a long time. They were naturally less in love with the philosopher's constitution than ever, and it was only Bentinck's stern reminder of the events of 1799 and the necessity of the constitution to regain the Neapolitan throne that kept them from open attack upon it. For Bentinck continued to oppose with every means at his disposal the treaty with Murat. He sent Graham over to Naples with instructions to sign nothing, but find means of getting to
1 The incident is well known from the letter of Bentinck of Feb. 6, 1814 ( C.C. ix. 238). and Castlereagh's reply, April 3, 1814 ( C.C. ix. 429). The letter quoted above is in F.O. Sicily, 63, and encloses the letters exchanged between Bentinck and the Hereditary Prince, the last of Dec. 20, 1813, saying: "I see with real satisfaction that what you write to me was only a philosophic dream." See also Liverpool to Castlereagh, March 11, 17, 1814: Lond. MSS., Appendix, pp. 526-27.
headquarters with Bentinck's protests. After losing a good deal of time arguing with this powerless but imperturbable envoy, Count Neipperg at last signed the treaty with Murat alone, guaranteeing him his Neapolitan throne, with an extension of frontier to Ancona at the expense of the Pope, on condition of joining with the Allies to expel the French from Italy and, as Aberdeen had insisted, winning compensation for Ferdinand. Bentinck considered the Allies had been overreached, and roundly condemned the treaty. "Upon Murat," he told Castlereagh, "no reliance can ever be placed, and therefore the less power given to him the better. But Austria by the terms of the treaty will have created not only a rival but perhaps a master in Italy. When the Viceroy is driven to the Alps, as seems probable, with whom will his great Italian army take part? The Italians have evidently no disposition towards the Austrians. The fact of Beauharnais having been enabled with an Italian army to maintain himself, is a clear proof of the national feeling towards the Austrian Government. Of the two they will undoubtedly prefer Murat, now become an Italian prince and declaring himself the champion of Italian independence. If the British protection and assistance had happened to be within their reach, that great floating force would certainly have ranged under their standard. The national energy could then have been roused, like Spain and Germany, in honour of national independence, and this great people instead of being the instrument of the ambition of one military tyrant or another, or as formerly the despicable slaves of a set of miserable petty princes, would become a powerful barrier both against Austria and France, and the peace and happiness of the world would receive a great additional security--but I fear the hour is gone by."
It had, indeed, passed, and Bentinck was all unprepared, one of his wild schemes being in direct opposition to the other, so he vented his spleen on Murat, a man "whose whole life had been crime, who has been the intimate and active partner of all Bonaparte's wickedness and whose last act of treachery to his benefactor has been the result of necessity." When, therefore, Aberdeen's letter at last reached him on January 18, he still refused to do more than go to Naples himself, and before he went he took care to obtain the refusal of the suggested compensation by the Hereditary Prince and the King. 1
On his arrival at Naples, therefore, Bentinck refused entirely to make a treaty with Murat on the same terms as Neipperg. All he could be persuaded to do was to sign an armistice (February 3) to which Graham had at last consented after pressure from Neipperg and Sir Robert Wilson, who had now arrived in this part of the arena, excluding from it a clause which promised the conclusion of a treaty at a later date. To joint operations against the enemy he did agree, and returning to Palermo to make his final preparations, he embarked his army for Leghorn, reaching that city himself by land on March 8. Even now, with the Austrians unable to cope with Beauharnais and the Allies at their most critical stage in France, Bentinck's force might have been of great importance if he had co-operated wholeheartedly with Murat, and if Murat had really been willing to attack his countrymen. But if Murat's conduct was equivocal, Bentinck gave him every excuse. He was, perhaps, not responsible for the insulting and hostile proclamation which the Hereditary Prince issued as his troops embarked for Tuscany. But Bentinck treated Murat with the greatest distrust and held up the whole campaign by a stupid claim for the control of Tuscany, through which Murat's line of communication ran. Murat, ill at ease in his new position, undoubtedly wavered and wrote compromising letters to the Viceroy and Fouché. But of this Bentinck was unaware, and his conduct was the despair of the Austrians and so violent and ill - humoured as to make all joint operations impossible, and enable the loyal and capable
1 From Bentinck, Jan. 14, 30, 1814: F.O. Sicily, 63. "Bentinck to Wellington, Jan. 14, 1814": W.S.D. viii. 511. The Prince hesitated, and but for Bentinck's obvious wishes might have consented to bargain. Bentinck told him that the proposition would be "objectionable as far as regarded Great Britain and embarrassing to myself individually, because I should pledge my government to a recognition to which it had hitherto never consented." Words difficult to reconcile with his instructions! The King was violently opposed, and said he was the son of Charles III. and "would never disgrace the family." His discourse was, however, "of the nature of a rhapsody," and his only definite request to Bentinck was to take a "Pheasant Pye to a gentleman at Naples who from extreme cowardice had refused to follow the King to Sicily."
Viceroy to maintain his position until peace was won in France.
Bentinck's proclamation had summoned the Italians to follow the example of Spain, Portugal, Holland, and Sicily, and hinted that they could make a free and united Italy. At any rate, Murat had protested against it and threatened that he might follow the example in his own interest. Yet Bentinck, when he met the Pope at Modena hastening back to Rome, encouraged him in every way to assume his old position, promised him support, if Murat tried to stop him, and even supplied him with four thousand crowns from the secret service funds when he "learnt that His Holiness was in great pecuniary distress, that he never would consent to receive anything from Bonaparte, and that his wardrobe literally consisted of four shirts only." 1
Meanwhile, Castlereagh had only gradually realised what was going on in Italy, and his instructions to Bentinck had been powerless to check his extravagances. It must be admitted also, that while he strongly condemned his conduct, when Metternich brought it to his notice as a result of Belle. garde's indignant reports, he was from the first not sorry that no treaty had been made with Murat. Bentinck was ordered to make an armistice, but his action in refusing to make a treaty was emphatically approved. Only when a suitable indemnity for the Sicilian House was provided could peace be concluded, and it was thought that if Murat realised this fact it would stimulate him to greater exertions against the enemy. But Castlereagh of course never contemplated such conduct as Bentinck pursued. After he had seen Graham and received a special report from him he wrote to Bentinck on February 21: "The British Government never liked the measure; but, being taken, they are perfectly ready to act up to the spirit of the Austrian treaty and to acknowledge Murat upon a peace on two conditions: 1st, that he exerts himself honourably in the war; and 2ndly, that a reasonable indemnity (it cannot be an equivalent) is found for the King of Sicily. I should hope with this basis to work upon you may not only quiet any
1 For Bentinck's actions in Tuscany, see Weil, Eugène et Murat, iv. 388 ff., and Randolph, Diary of Sir Robert Wilson, ii. 338-52. From Bentinck, April 3, 1814: F.O. Sicily, 63.
alarms Murat may have felt as to the nature of our armistice, but furnish him with two very powerful incentives to come forward effectually." 1
How Bentinck carried out this instruction has been seen. Castlereagh was far from attributing all the blame to him, but the rising tide of complaint produced an instruction at the end of March, urging further co-operation and warning him against any action committing his Government to any political view in Italy, whose settlement must await the peace discussions. On April 3, from Dijon, these warnings were reiterated in a tactful but much more peremptory fashion. Castlereagh had now had time to realise the extent of Bentinck's views on Italy, and he was anxious to confine him to the business in hand--the defeat of the French forces. He was critical of Bentinck's proclamations, of which Murat had complained, and he insisted that he must not advocate ideas which ran counter to the "arrangements understood between the Great Powers of Europe." By this, of course, he meant appeals to Italian nationality in order to raise a levy en masse, such as Bentinck had often hinted he could organise: "It is not insurrection we now want in Italy, or elsewhere--we want disciplined force under Sovereigns we can trust." 2
This judgment was pronounced even before the news of the fall of Paris and the final overthrow of Napoleon had come to Dijon. It was obvious that once that end had been achieved, the ideas of Italian nationality, which Bentinck and Murat alike were prepared to use for their own purposes, would receive short shrift from the victors. The outline of the new Italy was, indeed, already foreshadowed in the treaties and agreements which had been necessary to win the victory.
1 To Bentinck, Jan. 22, Feb. 4, 15, 21, 1814: C.C. ix. 184, 235, 262, 286.
2 To Bentinck, March 30, April 3, 1814: C.C. ix. 409, 427, 429, 434, 435.
THE FIRST PEACE OF PARIS: RECONSTRUCTION BEGUN, APRIL-AUGUST, 1814
1. THE TREATIES WITH FRANCE.
2. ATTEMPTS AT RECONSTRUCTION: (i) AT PARIS.
(ii) AT LONDON.
3. PRELIMINARY SETTLEMENTS AND DISCUSSIONS:
(i) THE NETHERLANDS.
" France, reduced to its ancient limits, was still the equal, and far more than the equal, of any of the Continental Powers."--FYFFE.
1. THE TREATIES WITH FRANCE
"IT may be presumptuous in me to say so," wrote Castlereagh, "but my remaining till this new scene takes a shape is beyond all comparison more important than my original mission." The claim was confessedly a bold one, but there was much to justify it. The results of the victories had yet to be obtained. Peace with France had to be made, and with it, perhaps, the whole of the reconstruction of Europe. Though a Convention was made with Monsieur on April 23 regulating the suspension of hostilities, it was important that a more definite basis should be quickly obtained. The four Powers wished to arrange their affairs with France as soon as possible, and though one or two Frenchmen would have preferred to leave their settlement to the Congress which was finally to determine the affairs of Europe, that was not the opinion of Talleyrand or his wisest colleagues. It was early decided, therefore, to negotiate a definite peace between France and her principal enemies. How far the rest of European reconstruction could be dealt with in these treaties depended on how far the four Powers could agree in time; but now that the fighting was over there was some chance that the outstanding problems could be settled with comparative celerity.
It is clear that Castlereagh's mind was quite as much occupied with the wider problems as with the peace with France. He had failed to solve them while the war was in progress, but he had always regarded the reconstruction of Europe as a vital British interest. If he could not settle it at Paris, he meant to continue the discussions in London until the whole was complete. Even now no one realised how intricate and stubborn the problems were.
For six weeks, therefore, Castlereagh remained at Paris, dealing with the joint problem of peace with France and the reconstruction of the rest of Europe. The main responsibility of both, so far as Britain was concerned, rested almost entirely on his own shoulders. He had, it is true, a certain amount of assistance. He kept the three Ambassadors with him to sign the treaty of Peace, but they were very little use in the negotiations. Aberdeen, indeed, wondered why he was still there: "It can be of no use to him and is not very agreeable to us." It was only natural that Castlereagh could not make much use of him nor of Stewart, who, however, enjoyed himself thoroughly in the best house in Paris, in spite of losing, by a valet's robbery, all those stars and decorations which he loved so much. Cathcart was no better, and Castlereagh relied on Münster as his principal agent though Münster had his own Hanoverian problems. Robinson also was of such assistance that Castlereagh resisted Liverpool's urgent appeals to get him home to help in the Commons, and Herries was sent out by the Treasury to afford support in the financial discussions, which were complicated. Wellington arrived on May 4 for a short visit and made a fine impression, but the new Ambassador was still in command of an army, and was urgently needed to settle Spanish troubles which the King's return had occasioned.
Thus Castlereagh had to do the bulk of the work himself, and indeed most of it was of such a delicate character that it was impossible to entrust it to anyone else. He did not complain of its extent, but lamented the time wasted in social duties. Pleasure was the order of the day, and Castlereagh had necessarily to take part in an unending series of balls, dinners, reviews, and gala performances. Paris, too, was filled with English travellers of high rank who expected attention.
After the arrival of his wife on April 18 Castlereagh therefore entertained extensively, giving frequent dinners where "the conquerors and the conquered were seated at the same table," while Lady Castlereagh "received and had des petits soupers every night, to which all she knew, both English and foreign, could come without invitation, and those with whom she was not previously acquainted were introduced." No doubt the result was a little mixed; but Aberdeen's wounded pride was probably responsible for the tone of his description: "LadyCastlereagh's suppers after the play might just as well be in St. James Square, except that they are attended here by Englishmen of a worse description and scarcely by any women at all." There were, however, women enough in Paris, amongst them Madame de Staël, a constant guest at Castlereagh's, whose attentions were almost Talleyrand's heaviest anxiety. The cost of this hospitality in money was repaid by the state, but the expenditure of time and energy could not be made up. "I really work as hard as a man can well do in such a town as Paris," he wrote in apology, when Liverpool complained of delay. 1
The negotiations with France itself were divided into two parts, continental and colonial. The last was, of course, entirely entrusted to Castlereagh, but he had also to keep an eye on the former, for the Netherlands were involved, an interest which he, like Napoleon, thought quite as important as the other. The Dutch had, of course, their own representatives, but it would never have done to have left matters in their hands, and they had merely the fears and anxieties of observers. Their Prince was anxious to make an early appearance on the scene, but Clancarty thought that his zeal for acquisitions in Belgium, which had recently had to be damped somewhat, would do more harm than good, and got Fagel to dissuade him on the ground that he could not be spared from Holland. He only put in an appearance at the end of May when the main question was already settled. 2
The basis for both settlements could be found in the terms which had been offered to Napoleon at Châtillon in the allied
1 Balfour, Life of Aberdeen, i. 187, 188. Londonderry, Narrative. 327. Weigall, Letters of Lady Burghersh, 231. Countess Brownlow, Slight Reminiscences, 92-93. [ Underwood] Narrative, 179. From Castlereagh, May 5, 1814: W.S.D. ix. 64. The accounts of the special missions to the Continent, including the cook's book, are in F.O. 95 (Misc.), 506. The quantity of crayfish consumed at Paris is startling. The total cook's bill, April 21 to May 31, was £1596, 2s.
2 "From Clancarty, April 19, 1814:" Lond. MSS.
project of February 17. But though the "ancient limits" had been expressly mentioned, the Tsar was supposed to have encouraged expectations, and it was claimed that a Bourbon France had claims to better treatment. Liverpool, indeed, had hastened to point out as soon as these ideas reached him that Monsieur did not expect to obtain anything beyond the limits of ancient France when he left England, and Castlereagh made that assumption the basis of a request to the Cabinet to be liberal on other questions: "Points may occur in the discussions upon which I can refer, but I wish to know your wishes as to the spirit in which we should conduct ourselves. I am myself inclined to a liberal line upon subordinate questions, having secured the Continent, the ancient family, and the leading features of our own peace." 1
But, though Castlereagh hoped as late as April 27 to sign the treaty by May 15, delay arose from two causes. Talleyrand had not sufficient authority to overcome the opposition in France until the King arrived on the scene, while the German Powers wished to include "the main principles of the continental arrangements" in the treaty with France before Britain gave back the colonial conquests. This important development is considered later, but it delayed the main negotiation, so that on May 5 Castlereagh had to confess that he had made little progress. By this time Louis had returned and further complicated matters by refusing to accept the constitution without a re-examination of its principles by his own partisans. In domestic matters Talleyrand was no more trusted by Louis than by Monsieur, but the King accepted his guidance in foreign affairs where his position was now regularised. Nor was Louis likely to be stubborn on British interests even if the offer of another loan of £100,000, which Liverpool suggested, did not influence him. 2
The negotiations were now carried on with greater speed. On May 9 a conference of the principal Ministers of the four Powers and France was set up--Spain being excluded by the usual device of terming them "informal conversations." By
1 From Clancarty, April 19, 1814: Lond. MSS. "From Liverpool, April 9, 1814": Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 531. "To Liverpool, April 19, 1814:" C.C. ix. 472.
2 "From Liverpool, April 29, 1814:" Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 540.
this body two commissions were appointed--a territorial and a financial, on both of which Münster represented Britain, an indication of Castlereagh's view of the diplomatic abilities of the negotiators of Châtillon. The final decisions were, however, still left in the hands of the principal Ministers, to whom their representatives had constantly to refer.
To the territorial commission an allied project was presented which gave France about half a million of population more than in 1792, including such territories as Avignon, which had previously been under foreign sovereignty though inside the French frontier. The main addition outside this was in Savoy, the frontier to the Netherlands being kept almost the same as in 1789. In reply, the French representative, the Marquis d'Osmond, claimed "that the King of France, according to the promises of the allied Sovereigns, thought himself entitled to expect an augmentation of a million of subjects, therefore his astonishment was great on seeing that he was offered only acquisitions which he valued at 212,611 inhabitants, leaving out the part of Savoy which was offered to him and which he could not accept as it formed part of the states of a Prince who is nearly related to him." He demanded, therefore, considerable increase of territory, especially in the Netherlands, "a proposal which would have surrendered a great part of Belgium to France and left the rest defenceless."
The higher powers had to intervene. Louis had taken his tone from his marshals and talked to the Emperor of Austria of war. But it was to Talleyrand that Castlereagh, who was already in anger at the French proposals on the maritime peace, spoke without hesitation. None of the other Powers cared much about the Belgian frontier, but to him it was vital. "I have been compelled peremptorily to oppose this," he wrote, "as incompatible with the only defence of Brabant, and as disclosing a desire to encroach in that direction which has been the source of so many wars. I spoke yesterday strongly to Talleyrand on the subject, and shall feel it my duty before I leave Paris, to represent to the King the necessity, if he wishes the peace to last, of extinguishing in the minds of the army this false notion of Flanders being necessary to France." At the same time, to put an end to French delays, he got his Allies to agree that if the peace was not signed by the end of the month the negotiations should be transferred to London. 1
Talleyrand, indeed, had expected no other result. "I am not surprised," he told d'Osmond, "at the difficulties which you have met with concerning Belgium, the English having always appeared to me very positive on this point." An interview with Metternich shewed him that there was no support in that quarter, and the King's council were told that they had to accept what they could get. The King consented, therefore, to receive a part of Savoy in spite of the fact that it belonged to a near relation. The only other point on which France insisted was the Pays de Gex, on the northern shore of the Geneva lake, which united the canton to the rest of Switzerland. The Genevois had hoped much from the literary reputation of their town in London, and their representative, Pictet de Rochemont, had loosed the intrepid Madame de Staël on the "glacial" Castlereagh. Her ardour failed to thaw him, though he was, as a matter of fact, not unfriendly to the Genevan claim. But he refused to force France to give way, and when de Rochemont in a last interview urged every possible strategic and political reason why the Pays de Gex should be given to Geneva, Castlereagh answered: "These arguments about natural defences and strategic boundaries are pushed too far. Real defence and security comes from the guarantee which is given by the fact that they cannot touch you without declaring war on all those interested in maintaining things as they are."
With this victory and one or two other minor concessions France had to be content. Her new frontier was substantially that of 1792, and thus the whole of Belgium and the left bank of the Rhine up to that boundary was surrendered, though to whom had not yet been determined. Castlereagh had, however, expressly inserted in the treaty that Belgium to the Meuse should belong to Holland. "You will see," he wrote, "that I have secured the assent of France to the in-
1 Münster to the Prince Regent, May 15, 1814: Münster, 173. "To Liverpool, May 19, 1814:" B.D.185.
corporation of the Low Countries with Holland." "I felt it of the last importance," he added, "not to go to a Congress without having this most essential point acquiesced in by that Power." Britain was thus the only one of the four Powers which had secured her vital interest in the continental settlement before peace with France was signed--an important fact, for it made much easier her future rôle as mediator. She had nothing now of cardinal importance to ask for. "The noxious contents of Antwerp," the fleet which Napoleon had had built and whose menace had been so feared, turned out not to be so noxious after all, since many of the ships were built of unseasoned wood, and Castlereagh secured the reluctant consent of the Cabinet to allow two-thirds of those completed to be retained by France. Antwerp itself was to be kept a commercial port without fortifications. The navigation of the Scheldt was to be free to all nations, and the same principle was to be applied to the whole of the Rhine. Liverpool was critical of this clause, which abandoned an old British principle of an indefensible kind, but his protest was ignored by Castlereagh, and indeed the Austrians had already issued instructions for the river to be opened. On the whole, Castlereagh could claim that the foundations of the new state of the Netherlands had been solidly laid at Paris, though its final shape was still to be seen, and the marriage on which he placed much importance was already in jeopardy. That the "Brabanters" had shewn so much reluctance to accept the new king had no effect on his mind. A Belgian nationality was, indeed, far to seek, and the strategic necessity of a "barrier" in any case outweighed all other considerations. 1
Meanwhile, Castlereagh had been conducting the negotiations as to the colonies directly with Talleyrand. He had tried to reduce his demands to a minimum. Sweden had been
1 "Talleyrand to d'Osmond, May 16, 1814:" Dupuis, Ministère de Talleyrand, i. 354. "From Castlereagh, April 19, May 23, 1814:" C.C. ix. 473; x. 10. "From Liverpool, April 26, 1814:" Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 536; May 27, 1814: W.S.D. ix. 114. "From Clancarty, May 13, 1814:" Colenbrander , Gedenkstukken, vii. 123. Münster, 174. L. Cramer, Correspondance diplomatique de Pictet de Rochemont et de François d'Ivernois, i. 27, 43-44, 76, 79-81. E. Pictet, Biographie de C. Pictet de Rochemont, 127. 132.
persuaded to give up Guadeloupe, and Castlereagh pressed his Cabinet to give up Les Saintes also: "With respect to our own peace, I consider Malta, the Cape, Mauritius, and Tobago as sine qua non; also the regulations limiting the French to a commercial occupation of their factories in the East Indies. I should wish, as at present circumstanced, not to press the Saintes. It is not worth swelling the catalogue with a demand of this nature. It is easily reduced at the outset of a war and will not be strengthened by the Bourbons." The Cabinet were not convinced by this argument: "We have no harbour in that part of the West Indies. The French have two excellent ones at Martinique and Ste. Lucie. The Saintes are of no value whatever except for their harbour, and are the least invidious possession we could propose to retain." However, it consented to substitute St. Lucia for Les Saintes and also abandoned Bourbon. This reduced the direct cessions from France to three small islands, and Liverpool had some right to claim that "after the six or seven hundred millions we have spent in the course of a war which has led to the restoration of the Bourbon Family, the demand can scarcely be considered as unreasonable." 1
Castlereagh was therefore indignant when Talleyrand proposed to send him an answer which failed entirely to meet British demands. It was silent on St. Lucia and Tobago, asked for extensive fishing rights in Newfoundland, and did not discuss the Slave Trade. The same influence which had affected the continental peace was at work. "I thought it therefore wise," he reported, "to be quite explicit and recall the French Government to a sense of our claims, to the forbearance shewn, and to the true relations of the parties."
Liverpool sent a strong reply reinforcing this attitude. He was prepared to sweeten the pill by giving up financial claims, but the colonial cessions he considered as a minimum which France ought to grant with ease. "We demand," he claimed, "nothing which is of any value to them except the Mauritius; for there is not a Frenchman on the island of Tobago, and the only value of Ste. Lucie is its port, which they do not
1 To Liverpool, April 19, 1814: C.C. ix. 474. "From Liverpool, April 26, 1814:" Loud. MSS., Appendix, p. 537.
want, having a much better in Martinique. Our moderation, indeed, is great compared with that of any of our Allies." Whether Talleyrand agreed or not he made no further opposition. St. Lucia and Tobago were given up, the French settlements in India confined to commerce, and the Newfoundland rights limited to those existing before 1792. 1
It was on the Slave Trade that Talleyrand found the greatest difficulty in meeting British demands, which he, however, recognised as just. In this matter he had the King on his side, for Louis had been witness of the extraordinary interest in this subject of his late hosts and perhaps shared their convictions; but the King stood almost alone. The commercial, classes thought the demand was made merely to prevent the restoration of the trade of their colonies. Hardly a person of substance in France supported Abolition therefore, and Talleyrand, who entreated Castlereagh to impress this view on his colleagues, could only agree to offer Abolition after a number of years so that French colonies might be stocked with slaves as required, and thus put on an equality with the British. Castlereagh himself was inclined to accept this offer as the best expedient, for he was aware that to make Abolition effective he must secure something more than treaties, however stringent. He hoped that the French would not add much to the traffic in five years, and rightly disbelieved that they would ever be able to recover their position in St. Domingo. "My feeling is," he concluded, "that on grounds of general policy we ought not to attempt to tie France too tight on this question. If we do, it will make Abolition odious in France, and we shall be considered as influenced by a secret wish to prevent the revival of her colonial interests. The friends of Abolition ought also to weigh the immense value of having France pledged to this question, and the subject brought before the Congress with the aid of France and Russia, both of which I can in that case answer for." The Cabinet were by no means ready to accept this point of view, which Liverpool urged as inconsistent. They were
1 To Liverpool, May 19, 1814: B.D.183. British Projet and French Counter-Projet: F.O. Continents, 4. From Liverpool, May 19, 1814: W.S.D. ix. 89. Cf. Yonge, Liverpool, i. 510. Dupuis, Ministère Talleyrand, i. 378 ff.
more acutely aware of British feeling than Castlereagh. The House of Commons had passed a resolution on May 3 against surrender of the colonies without Abolition, and Wilberforce and his friends became frantic when they heard that this policy could not be carried out. They had received assurances from the Ministry that general Abolition would be obtained, and it was a cruel blow to find that France, to whom they were about to return colonies, in which the Slave Trade had been abolished for a considerable period, was to be allowed to continue it. Wilberforce had just prepared an address to the Tsar when the news reached him. He thought at first of going himself to Paris, but rightly concluded that his strength lay in the House of Commons. Zachary Macaulay was therefore dispatched in his stead, but could make no impression on French public opinion. Malouet, the French Colonial Minister, asked him if the English meant to bind all the world. No support could be obtained even for the abolition of the Trade on that part of the African coast north of the Line, from which it had been fairly effectively stamped out, but Talleyrand promised in a secret note that he would see to this point. In these circumstances the Cabinet had no alternative but to accept Talleyrand's proposals unless they were prepared to refuse to return the colonies altogether. Talleyrand's final notes were meant for public consumption in Britain and were profuse in humanitarian sentiment, but the feelings of Wilberforce and his friends were outraged. 1
This was a grievous blot on the treaty, but otherwise the Cabinet and the nation were satisfied. They were too happy at the general result to haggle after a colony or so. Even the Admiralty did not grumble much. In Malta, the Cape, Mauritius, Tobago, and St. Lucia they considered that they had obtained the necessary strategic control over the Mediterranean, the long route to India, and the West Indian seas. The demands of the planters and merchants to retain conquests in which their capital was already invested went
1 To Liverpool, May 19, 1814: B.D.183. From Liverpool, May 19, 1814: : W.S.D. ix. 88. From Talleyrand, May 26, 27, 1814; to Talleyrand, May 24, 26, 27, 1814: W.S.D. ix. 110-11. Cf. C. Schefer, La France moderne et le problème coloniale ( 1815-30), 71-72.
almost entirely unheeded. The same spirit was applied to the Dutch colonies, a far richer prize than the French West Indian islands. "I still feel doubts," Castlereagh had early written, "about the acquisition in sovereignty of so many Dutch colonies. I am sure our reputation on the Continent as a feature of strength, power, and confidence is of more real moment to us than an acquisition thus made." This principle prevailed, and if the final settlement left Britain supreme on every sea and in final possession of India, France and Holland were left with the bulk of their overseas possessions. It may be doubted, perhaps, if as much credit was won at the time by this restraint and wide outlook as Castlereagh had prophesied, while history was slow to recognise that such enlightened selfinterest is rarely forthcoming at the critical moments of international relations. 1
This moderation Britain shared with Russia and Austria in the financial settlement. These two Powers were compelled indeed to make in some ways greater sacrifices, for, if they had received subsidies and Britain had paid them, Napoleon had inflicted far greater loss on them than on Britain. The fact that their own armies had lived in France for nearly six months and wreaked a savage vengeance on her inhabitants, their belief that France's finances were exhausted, and the desire to win the Bourbons to their side explains in part, no doubt, this moderation. Prussia did not share it, but she could not prevail in the face of the opposition of her allies. Some voices were raised in Britain also for another view. "I hope the Allies will not forget," urged Edward Cooke in the first flush of victory, "that we deserve something for the £700,000,000 we have spent in the contest, and that we cannot pay a soldier, a clerk, or a magistrate before we have spent £40,000,000 for interest and redemption of our debt. It will be hard if France is to pay nothing for the destruction of Europe, and we are to pay all for saving it." 2
This attitude was, however, not adopted by the Government. They asked for no indemnity and were content to
1 To Liverpool, April 19, 1814: C.C. ix. 474.
2 From Cooke, April 9, 1814: C.C. ix, 454.
renounce the payment for prisoners of war, which it was customary at that time to claim. Since few British were in Napoleon's hands and 70,000 were held in Britain the sum was a considerable one. All that they required was compensation for the injuries inflicted on the private property of British citizens, including, it may be noted, their losses in French state funds owing to the depreciation of the currency. Napoleon had granted these claims in the Treaty of Amiens, but his promises had remained unfulfilled when the war was resumed.
Thus Castlereagh's instructions to Münster, who was his not very suitable representative on the financial commission, were to give up the claims for the prisoners of war, provided the principle was recognised and full justice done to the private claims. " CountMünster may represent," he wrote, "that the claims of individuals against the Government of France, although of vital importance to them, cannot, if liquidated by an inscription amongst the mass of the national debt, be a very inconvenient, certainly not an impracticable, measure of justice to adopt. The dilapidations committed by the late Government on Foreign Powers it is impossible for the King to repair; but the individual property of British subjects seized in France to the profit of the state must lie within moderate limits, and the public credit of the new Government would derive a benefit from an early act of moral justice performed in favour of private persons. . . . The present Government of France must consider itself as the more bound in good faith to see justice done to British subjects in this case, as the claim is principally founded upon the treaty of 1786, the provisions of which have been strictly fulfilled in favour of French subjects by the British Government." 1
Münster had no difficulty in getting France to accept this principle, but Prussia was not so easily convinced. In the opening Conferences of May 11 and 13 she tried to obtain compensation for the sums which Napoleon had sucked out of her for the campaign of 1812. All shrank, however, from the prospect which this precedent opened up, for similar exactions had at one time or another been inflicted on almost
1 To Talleyrand (undated, but May), Paris A.A.E., France, 673 ff., 47, 48.
every country of Europe. The French representative, Count de la Forêt, therefore, was secure in support when he said-according to Münster--"that the King of France would rather deprive himself of necessaries than not satisfy a just demand, that his Majesty regarded what was here in question as unjust, and that sooner than satisfy it he would submit to be arrested and kept shut up in his palace, and that he would resign himself to his fate, as the Holy Father had done." M. de la Forêt added "that the King, his master, had consulted the Emperor of Russia on this subject, and that it was after this conversation that he gave him the order which he now executed." Louis XVIII. had, however, no need to follow his long exile by imprisonment. Prussia obtained no support. There were long wrangles about the complicated domain rights with which Napoleon had saddled many countries in favour of his marshals, while the claims of the Bank of Hamburg, which Davoust had so outrageously plundered, received a good deal of sympathy. But France managed to do remarkably well, and eventually the whole financial matter was settled on the basis which Castlereagh had first suggested. "You will see," he said as he sent home the draft of the treaty, "by the extent of the matter comprised that the pecuniary reclamations have been a most troublesome and difficult concern. After endless controversy they have all, with a good grace, come into the principle I recommended from the first, viz. clear scores in respect to state claims, France engaging to do justice to individuals whose claims rest upon contract, in contradistinction to military spoliation and warfare." Though Liverpool confessed that he did not understand the article and was afraid the British Government might be held responsible if the French Government did not keep its promises--as he seemed to anticipate--the only alteration made was to emphasise the surrender which had been made of the maintenance of prisoners of war. 1
Napoleon had, however, not only drawn the wealth of Europe to Paris, but had filled the Louvre with its fairest art
1 Münster, 177 ff. To Liverpool, May 23, 1814: C.C. x. 10. From Liverpool, May 27, 1814: W.S.D. ix. 113. From Hamilton, May 27, 1814: Lond. MSS.
treasures. It occurred to many that these ought to be restored to their original owners--not least to the French, who hid the best as deep as possible in the cellars of the Louvre and substituted bad copies in their place. But Louis's weakness supported his refusal to give them up, and "the effect which it was feared the removal of the greater part of the Museum of Napoleon--amassed by spoliation committed over all Europe--would produce on the Parisians, served as a specious argument for withholding what was incontestably due." So for a time France kept her ill-gotten gains. 1
Thus France obtained treatment such as she had never granted to others during her twenty years of domination. The peace might, indeed, be described as a generous one, though it is true that other Powers were to receive territorial gains while France was reduced to nearly the position which she had held at the beginning of the war. But when the experience of Europe in the last twenty years is taken into account, and the huge debt which Britain had accumulated, of which France, having lived on Europe, was comparatively free, the conquerors must be allowed to have shewn both moderation and wisdom far above the average.
1 Münster, 178, 182. Aberdeen had also another reason: "I have been strenuous in recommending the preservation here of the pictures and statues, principally as a lover of art, for they would infallibly be destroyed by a journey into Italy. They have, many of them, suffered much in being transported here, although done with the greatest care which a great Empire could bestow. . . . I am sure the surrender would do more to discredit the French Government than anything in the world. The cession of the Netherlands and Antwerp is not felt as such a national disgrace as the surrender of these trophies would be." Balfour, Life of Aberdeen, i. 189.
2. ATTEMPTS AT RECONSTRUCTION
(i) AT PARIS
ONE cause of the moderation of the Allies was undoubtedly their own disagreement over the reconstruction of Europe. It was much simpler to draw France's boundary than to determine the fate of the French Empire, which in one form or another had stretched from beyond Warsaw to the southern shore of Italy. The frontiers of every European state outside the Balkans had to be determined, and the interests of the three Great Powers were at stake. These impending decisions had, as has been seen, hung like a cloud over the Coalition ever since the Rhine had been reached, and it was only the appearance of Castlereagh at headquarters which had prevented them from paralysing the armies and causing the failure of the campaign in France. But the task which he had set himself of mediating between these conflicting interests had as yet made little progress, and now that the victory was won the problems had become acute.
In these circumstances it was no wonder that many hoped that the decisions on these questions might be taken at Paris before the peace with France was made. Castlereagh does not, however, seem at the outset to have been one of them. At the beginning he certainly wished to delay the settlement until the allied sovereigns came to London, where he hoped to resume his rôle of mediator with all the prestige of a brilliant host. He had designed this visit as soon as Napoleon's fate was settled as the culminating point of all his efforts. The failures at Langres, Châtillon, Troyes, and Chaumont to determine the basis of the new Europe were to be made good under his guidance in England itself. Thus would she put the final touches to the twenty years' struggle and establish such a peace as Pitt had dreamt of before he rolled up the map of Europe.
For this purpose it was necessary to turn the visit which Alexander had so long planned into a reunion of all the four Powers of the Alliance. As soon as he reached Paris, therefore, Castlereagh urged Liverpool that the Tsar's brother sovereigns should be invited to accompany him. It was essential, he insisted, not to single out Russia for special compliments. The Tsar had attracted quite enough notice already by his acts at Paris, and Castlereagh particularly wished attentions to be paid to Austria, knowing how unpopular she was in comparison with Russia. Her influence in France and the Netherlands was of great importance to Britain. Lest he should be misunderstood he added in a postscript: "When I recommend you to dilute the libation to Russia, I am the last to wish it should be less palatable. The Emperor has the greatest merit, and must be held high, but he ought to be grouped and not made the sole feature for admiration. The interview in England will have a sensible influence on the politics of the Continent." 1
Three days later he returned to the subject, anticipating possible objections on the score of practicability, and adding that "Hardenberg spoke to me to-night with much earnestness about his King and the Emperor of Austria going to England. The anxious wish of himself and others is to keep the intermediate Powers together to guard against an inordinate influence in the Great Powers at the extremities." The design was clearly to use the visit to keep Austria and Prussia united against Russia, to whom France seemed likely to gravitate. Münster sent similar advice to the Prince Regent, whom there was apparently no great difficulty in persuading to write letters of invitation which Liverpool considered "very proper." The King of Prussia promptly accepted, but the Emperor of Austria refused. The reason alleged was that his presence in Austria was urgently needed, but it seems more likely that he was afraid of the reception that awaited him. In spite of Castlereagh's renewed efforts and the evident pressure of Metternich and
1 To Liverpool, April 20, 1814: C.C. ix. 478.
Stadion, he persisted in his refusal, which was only mitigated by sending Metternich in his place. 1
Though this refusal spoilt somewhat the scheme of "grouping" the Tsar, yet the rest of the plan was maintained. But to many at Paris such a long delay in settling the outstanding questions seemed intolerable, and it was not long before an attempt was made to solve them before peace was made by France. Of these momentous discussions we know hardly anything definite. The Prussian statesmen alone put their thoughts on paper. The other three Powers did no more than discuss, and no accurate records of these discussions exist, while since the three sovereigns and Ministers were assembled together, there was no need to write any full account. Castlereagh did not supply the deficiency as he did later at Vienna, doubtless because he did not think the time ripe to take his Cabinet into his confidence in these questions, which were still so indefinite. He only sent home, therefore, one dispatch on the subject, and Liverpool had but little to say to him except on the one point of Murat. Talleyrand was left completely outside the discussions.
Such information as we possess comes, therefore, mainly from minor actors on the edge of the conflict, deeply interested in some part of it but outside the inner circle on which the decisions depended. The Ministers told their subordinates something, for they had need of advice and assistance, and these were not always as discreet as their masters. There were also in Paris representatives of the smaller Powers, who were naturally desirous of finding out as much as possible. But the four Great Powers were at least agreed on one point. They would settle these matters themselves. Neither France nor the secondary Powers were to be placed in a position of equality with those whose armies had decided the conflict. Only when these latter had agreed were the other to be allowed to intervene. But of course they could not be kept altogether without information, and their representatives
1 To Liverpool, April 20, 23, 23 (at night): C.C. ix. 478, 492, 493. Münster, 161, 168. From Liverpool, April 26, 1814: Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 537. Aberdeen to Harrowby, May 15, 1814: "Knowing as he does the feelings which prevail in England, I am not surprised that he should decline the risk of mortification incompatible with the dignity of his situation." Balfour, Aberdeen, i. 187.
were able to send home to their Courts reports which contain some facts, though they are largely guesses and half-truths. The most complete account of these transactions comes, indeed, from Münster, who combined two capacities. He was Castlereagh's principal assistant and at the same time he was the representative of Hanover, deeply interested in the discussions and bound to send home to his master some report of them. Stewart also must have learnt a good deal from his brother, but he was discretion itself at the time, and the narrative which he wrote sixteen years after the event is so vague and apparently so confused with what happened later at Vienna that it adds but little to our information.
At first it seems to have been Prussia which insisted on an attempt at settlement, but Metternich, who, as has been seen, had already made a promise to sacrifice Saxony to save Poland, also desired it. The conferences took place at his house in profound secrecy. The two Ministers were afraid of the popularity which the Tsar had obtained in Paris by his magnanimity and assurance during the change of dynasty. He had won the first position in Europe. "When the settlement of France, and the treaty of Paris came under discussion," wrote Stewart, looking back on these days of glory, "it may be affirmed, without exaggeration, that the Emperor of Russia stood upon the most elevated pinnacle of human grandeur that was ever attained by monarch." Stewart's idea of exaggeration was perhaps personal to himself, but all felt Alexander's ascendancy, and to it was added the fear that France would repay his services with support as soon as she was free. Therefore, as Castlereagh explained, there was "a strong desire felt by Prussia and Austria to bring both Russia and France to some understanding upon the main principles of the continental arrangements, in a secret article or otherwise, previous to our stipulating away our conquests." 1
Hardenberg was fully primed for the fray, and after some preliminary discussions with Stadion he laid before his colleagues a long memorandum, dated April 29, which with true Prussian thoroughness attempted to settle the whole
1 Dupuis, Ministère de Talleyrand en 1814, ii. 54: Londonderry, Narrative ( 1830), 324. To Liverpool, May 5, 1814: B.D.180.
complicated question in all its details, though he was modest enough to describe it as only a draft for discussion. These details need not detain us, though to Münster they gave much food for thought over the future of Hanover. The key questions were three--Poland, Saxony, and Mainz. The Tsar, far from giving way in the claims which he had been making, was pressing them with renewed vigour. Prince Czartoryski stood higher in his confidence than ever, and the Poles in France, who had served Napoleon so well, were rallying to the Tsar, who was now asking for Cracow and Thorn to round off his new kingdom, which he meant to endow with a constitution. "My predictions about Poland are fully confirmed," reported Münster, apparently with exact knowledge, on May 9. "The Emperor Alexander will yield nothing to Austria of the claims. He wishes to keep Cracow, Zamosk, and the 400,000 souls ceded to him at the Peace of Vienna [ 1809]. What is more astonishing, he does not keep his promise to Prussia, and instead of increasing the communications between East Prussia and Silesia he wishes to encroach further on the line of the Thorn on the Warta, promised at Bâle. Now Russia demands not only Thorn, but also a radius of 300,000 souls further on. The position is very dangerous for the neighbours of Russia, and Austria is seriously vexed by this new claim."
Since both Prussia and Austria were threatened, interest drove them to unite. But Saxony and Mainz kept them apart. Metternich had, it is true, made a promise about Saxony to Hardenberg in January, but he was under pressure from all sides and wavered. Moreover, it was vital to his plans that Bavaria should receive the key-fortress of Mainz, which the Prussian soldiers had occupied and insisted on retaining. Not only would it bring Prussian influence dangerously near southern Germany, but without it Bavaria refused to make to Austria indispensable cessions in the Tyrol. These difficulties, as well as those concerning the German constitution, proved so difficult that about the middle of May it was decided to adjourn them to London. 1
1 "Münster to the Prince Regent, May 5, 9, 1814": Münster, 162-69.
Hardenberg "Plan pour l'arrangement futur de l'Europe," April 29,
Of Castlereagh's part in these discussions there are only one or two indications. Stewart states his brother's policy as follows: "He must have felt the danger which threatened the adjustment of any equilibrium in Europe, if the Russian designs, aided by Prussia, were to be carried into effect, contrary to the consent of Austria. It was evident, or at least feared, that the two Powers who could dictate such arrangements must command in all others. He felt also equal danger, I should suppose, in case Austria, by similar management, should be induced to join in the plan, and lest it should lead to the complete subjection of Europe to a triple alliance. He felt equally the inexpediency of a new war, upon grounds which could be stated to be of very limited import, and which might not be generally felt or understood; and he was sensible of the danger of bringing France forward in the scene. The last objection also made him naturally averse to any public appeal, because such a measure would give open grounds to France for interference and action. His object, therefore, was naturally to effect the abandonment of her designs by Russia through a similar kind of management; to dissuade the Emperor of Russia from perseverance in his projects by statement and argument; and by shewing the dangers which threatened the two Courts, to endeavour to separate Prussia from Russia and to induce the former to join Austria in a close alliance; under which, aided by Great Britain and the German Powers, they would be enabled to form a complete barrier against Russia on one side and France on the other." 1
That this was an accurate description of the trend of Castlereagh's mind later events at Vienna were to reveal. But how definite this plan was at this time it is difficult to decide. The obduracy of the Tsar had yet to be proved. But Castlereagh, at any rate, kept a vigilant watch upon events, tried so far as he could to bring Austria and Prussia together, and used every means to defeat the Tsar's Polish plans. "I know that His Majesty is piqued at the interposition of England in this matter," wrote Münster on
1814, enclosed in Castlereagh's dispatch of May 5, 1814: F.O. Continent, 4, is printed by Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vii. 113. Cf. Treitschke, History of Germany ( Eng. ed.), i. 661.
1 Londonderry, Narrative, 315-16.
May 5, "and certainly it is a matter of too much general interest to Europe for a Power like Britain to leave it alone." The question was certainly already grave enough. "I am anxious in the meantime," Münster added, "to represent as strongly as possible the necessity of avoiding at present, almost at any price, a new war, which would embarrass everything, and which will be kindled less easily when all the military have returned to their homes, and all the states feel the effects of the extreme exhaustion produced by their late struggle." No wonder that Castlereagh was anxious to bring Prussia and Austria to agreement. " England is behaving perfectly in all this," wrote Wrede, who was negotiating the Bavarian exchanges with Metternich, " LordCastlereagh is always the mediator and he has much helped to get Prussia to desist from her claims to Dresden and its neighbourhood."
It may be doubted, however, if Wrede knew Castlereagh's whole mind on the Saxon question. He kept an impenetrable reserve upon it. Baron de Just, the representative of the captive King, had hopes that Britain would see in the main. tenance of his country the preservation of the balance of power. He urged his King to write to the Prince Regent, and himself plied Castlereagh with letters and attempted to obtain an interview. But both he and General von Watzdorf were denied all access, and had to content themselves with some kind words from Stewart when he gave the general his pass. ports to follow the sovereigns and Ministers to London. 1
All efforts at Paris, however, proved vain. Perhaps Castlereagh did not even anticipate success there. The unending succession of social duties made it almost impossible to get business done. "This capital is as bad as any other big city for business," complained Wrede. "We eat, drink, dance, see the sights and the women, but business does not move forward as one would desire." Metternich, as later at Vienna, succumbed to these temptations and would not work sufficiently diligently or carefully to please Wrede. Castlereagh, as has been seen, made the same complaint, though
1 "Münster to the Prince Regent, May 5, 1814": Münstes, 163. "Wrede to the King of Bavaria, May 6, 1814"; Dupuis, Ministère do Talleyrand, ii. 72. "Baron Just to the King of Saxony, May 20, 1814"; General von Watzdorf to Einsiedel, June 9, 1814: Dresden St. A.
he was really diligent enough. But he seems fairly soon to have come to the conclusion that but little of the main problems could be settled at Paris. At any rate, by the middle of the month he had definitely agreed with Metternich to postpone their solution to London. "His Imperial Majesty will send Metternich on a special mission," he wrote on May 15, "to make his excuses to the Prince Regent. I have very much encouraged this plan, as his presence in London would enable us ( Hardenberg and Nesselrode being also there) to decide finally on several important points previous to the Congress at Vienna." That Metternich shared Castlereagh's hopes is clear from a letter to Hudelist: "I follow the Emperor of Russia to England. There we will chiefly go into and settle the Polish question under the mediation of England. This present place is not suitable to this affair, since it is too much under the influence of wretched Polish Frenchmen and French Poles. We are at one with England, and I guarantee that most intimate relations will continue; the Russian farce (schwindel) has sunk very low. 1
But the Tsar was also doubtless aware that Paris was more favourable to his plans than London was likely to be. Stein and Pozzo di Borgo as well as his Polish friends pressed him to settle Poland and Germany before he left, and Münster and others were inclined to support them because of the dangers of leaving Germany in such an unsettled state. Metternich consented that one last attempt should be made to settle the German questions, and the Tsar tried to establish his claims on Poland. But their efforts all ended in failure. There was nothing left for it but to hope that in London a new situation would arise. To many it seemed that Britain would then be able to perform her rôle of mediator with success. "The discussions on the grand duchy of Warsaw ought to be ended there through the mediation of the British Cabinet," wrote Wrede to his King; and a little later: "The affair of Poland ought to be definitely settled in London. Castlereagh continues to behave very well in this question as in all which pertains to your Majesty's interests." Though
1 "Wrede to the King of Bavaria, May 12, 1814": Munich St. A. To Liverpool, May 15, 1814: W.S.D. ix. 72. "Metternich to Hudelist, May 24, 1814": Arneth, Wessenberg, i. 212.
General Watzdorf and Baron de Just could obtain no answer from Castlereagh to their demands, the latter still insisted that " England holds in her hands the balance to decide the fate of our country"; and he pursued him with letters and entreaties. 1
If the fate of Poland and Saxony was left undecided, only small progress was made as regards Italy, but that was of an important character and practically decided its future. The ideas of liberty and nationality, which Murat had reluctantly laid on one side and Bentinck had encouraged as far as he dared, were given no chance at Paris. Bentinck himself during April still caused a good deal of trouble. When at last he attacked Genoa he secured the surrender of the town by promising the Genoese their ancient freedom, a piece of vanity which was to lead the Opposition into one of their most foolish crusades. Murat sent him a sword for this achievement, which Bentinck only managed to acknowledge with courtesy by "doing severe violence to his feelings." Meanwhile he gave as much sympathy as possible to all antiAustrian elements, and General MacFarlane, who foretold it, and other English officers were supposed to have encouraged the resistance which eventually broke at Milan. At the same time Bentinck was not without zeal for the interest of his own country, and an expedition to Corsica, whose port, he said, was probably the best in the Mediterranean, was only stopped by orders from Paris. 2
All these actions Castlereagh viewed with growing distrust, and it must have been with relief that he granted Bentinck a leave of absence, which, however, he shewed no anxiety to use. The Italy which Castlereagh envisaged was one under the guidance of Austria, with the old families restored so far as possible and French influence excluded. He had no sympathy whatever with the liberal and national movement in which Bentinck and Sir Robert Wilson saw such hopes. It is true it was confined to a handful of men, and the ex-
1 "Münster to the Prince Regent, May 30, 1814": Münster, 183-84. "Wrede to the King of Bavaria, May 22, 29, 1814": Dupuis, Ministère de Talleyrand, ii. 81. "Just to Einsiedel, June 6, 1814": Dresden St. A.
2 "From Bentinck, April 17, 1814 (about Corsica)": F.O. Sicily, 63; April 27, 1814: B.F.S.P. ii. 317. "From Lt.-Genl. MacFarlane, May 4, 1814": F.O. Italian States, 6. Weil, Eugène et Murat, iv. 568-70.
travagant reports of these two vain egoists was not likely to increase his faith on it. Bentinck"seems bent on throwing all Italy loose," he wrote to Liverpool in a phrase often quoted against him, "this might be well as against France, but against Austria and the King of Sardinia, with all the new constitutions which now menace the world with fresh convulsions, it is most absurd." National movements were excellent things to encourage as a weapon against Napoleon, but now that the battle had been won they were to be damped down as far as possible. Time enough to stimulate such movements when some experience had been gained as to the best method of dealing with them. "I am desirous that your Lordship should not take steps," he instructed Bentinck, "to encourage the fermentation which at present seems to prevail in Italy on questions of Government." "It is impossible not to believe," he warned him in a private letter, "a great moral change coming on in Europe, and that the principles of freedom are in full operation. The danger is that the transition may be too sudden to ripen into anything likely to make the world better or happier. We have new constitutions launched in France, Spain, Holland, and Sicily. Let us see the result before we encourage further attempts. The attempts may be made and we must abide the consequences; but I am sure it is better to retard than accelerate the operation of this most hazardous principle which is abroad." He used similar arguments to the Milanese deputation which came to Paris to plead their case against Austria. 1
Castlereagh had, in fact, already agreed that Austria should obtain Venice and Milan, and, as no other member of the Alliance had any objection, her Italian frontiers were settled
1 "To Liverpool, May 5, 1814"; to Bentinck, May 6, 7, 1814: C.C. x. 10, 15, 18. The protocol of the conversation with the Milanese is given by G. Gallavresi, Carteggio del Conle Federico Confalionieri, Part I., 131-38 ( 1910). It is doubtless this attitude of Castlereagh which produced the forged letter of May 26, 1814, from Metternich, asserting that a secret treaty had been made at Prague between Britain and Austria giving the latter control over Italy. This was printed by Bianci ( Storia Documentata, i. 333-34), and many historians believed it. But, as Rinieri ( Il Congresso di Vienna e la Santa Sede, 35-43) and Fournier ( Napoleon, ii. 307-308) have demonstrated, there is no truth in it. The document itself shews by internal evidence its falsity, and the British and Austrian archives and all the rest of the correspondence of these years prove conclusively that no such treaty was made.
by a secret clause of the treaty. It was laid down in the public treaty that Italy should consist of sovereign states, though who the sovereigns were to be was not specified. At the same time, in the secret clauses it was agreed that Genoa should be transferred to Sardinia to compensate her for the loss of Savoy to France, Genoa being created a free port. This of course nullified Bentinck's promises, which he had no right to make.
The fate of the rest of Italy, however, remained open, except that the Treaty of Fontainebleau had assigned Parma to the Empress. Austria was not ready to recognise the Pope's claims until the question of her own occupation of the Lega. tions and Murat's of the Marches had been settled. As for Murat's future, it was quite uncertain. Bentinck had at least saved Britain from recognising him as legitimate sovereign of Naples. He had no friend amongst the Powers now that his army was no longer needed, and Castlereagh had no difficulty in acceding to Liverpool's urgent request that he should receive no recognition in the treaty of peace. 1
Meanwhile, in the treaty with France the four Powers had shewn that, however much they might disagree amongst themselves, they had no intention of allowing the rest of Europe to interfere in their concerns. By a clause in the public treaty, it is true, all Powers who had taken part in the war were invited to a Congress at Vienna to complete the settlement. It had also been ostentatiously given out that France was to take part in it, now that Bourbons had replaced Napoleon. But the four Powers still intended that the main points should be decided before the Congress met. By a secret clause they bound France to submit to the decisions which they should make amongst themselves, though they seem to have given Talleyrand some assurance that he would be consulted before the final decisions were made. As for the secondary Powers, Spain, Sweden, and Portugal had not even been consulted about the treaty with France, which they were now invited to sign without alteration, the secret clauses, however, being reserved for the four Powers alone. Spain was especially indignant at this treatment, which she
1 "From Liverpool, May 16,1814": Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 543. considered as a humiliation, and it was some time before her plenipotentiary could be induced to sign a treaty constructed without his participation. The four Powers had still less intention of allowing the three Powers to interfere in the major problems of the reconstruction, and still less the smaller Powers. The Congress, which was not expected to last longer than six weeks, was only intended to be a convenient reunion of the states of Europe to ratify decisions already made, to adjust minor details, and to give some semblance of legality to the claim which the four Powers made to represent "Europe." Castlereagh was in agreement with this point of view. It was not Vienna but London which he designed as the place where the reconstruction of Europe should be determined.
(ii) AT LONDON
While these discussions were going on at Paris the Grand Duchess Catharine had been awaiting the Tsar at London. She had been invited at her own request, but was paid every honour and attention that her brother could have desired. The Duke of Clarence, who was on a visit to Holland, immediately fell a victim to her charms, and himself arranged her journey to England. 1 It was by her own wish that she stayed in the comparative privacy of Pulteney Hotel, "hired at the enormous cost of 210 guineas a week," rather than in a royal palace, and she was received by the people as well as the Court with enthusiasm. Catharine, the young widow of the Duke of Oldenburg, now only twenty-four years of age, was the Tsar's favourite sister. His correspondence with her, indeed, breathes more than a brother's tenderness. She had always had great influence upon his emotional nature, which had been increased by her constancy during the trial of 1812. Unfortunately, though possessing many feminine attractions,
1 He was much perturbed to find that the Admiralty had only sent a Cutter and made haste to secure a Frigate. "I hope yet to see this elegant and fascinating lady landed on our shore in a manner suitable to the sister of the Emperor Alexander. . . . George the First sent an Admiral and a whole British fleet to fetch Peter the Great, and now a Cutter is sent for the Grand Duchess!" Duke of Clarence to the Prince Regent, March 23, 1814: Windsor Arch.
she was wayward and impulsive, and apt to put her personal predilections before the political interests of her country. The account which Countess Lieven gives of her extraordinary conduct, though perhaps too bitter to be quite accurate, is confirmed in the main by her letters to her brother and from other sources. The Prince Regent produced in her from the first a feeling of repulsion which she hardly attempted to conceal. Her out-of-hand rejection of his two royal brothers, the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of Sussex, 1 who hastened to seek her hand, was only to be expected, and offended no one. But shocked, as she said, by the grossness of the Prince Regent, she was soon in almost open hostility to him. Her distaste for music, the usual relief of a royal entertainment, irritated her host. This was perhaps an inevitable cause of friction, but in her desire to shew her contempt of his character Catharine associated markedly with the Opposition leaders, encouraged the Princess Charlotte to assert herself, and even talked of calling on the Princess of Wales.
The visit of the sovereigns naturally brought to a head the quarrel between the Prince Regent and his wife. The Queen had to receive once more, and the Prince Regent insisted that the Princess should be excluded from her court. His wife's dignified protest was communicated to Parliament, and gave to the Opposition what was now almost their only chance of harassing the Government. The controversy had reached its height when the royal visitors arrived.
Moreover, the Princess Charlotte was involved. Since a marriage was already arranged for her, it was held to be all the more necessary that she should be sheltered from the influence of her mother. It may be doubted whether that of her father was any more salutary for a young girl, but the Prince Regent appears to have been genuinely anxious to place his self-willed and excitable daughter under suitable guardianship. It can be imagined, therefore, how keenly he resented Catharine's sarcastic comments on his marital and
1 According to Merveldt, the Prince Regent formally asked Lieven for the hand of the Grand Duchess for the Duke of Clarence. To the Austrian Ambassador, with whom she had many conversations, she seemed not averse from the Duke of Cambridge as a husband ( "Merveldt to Metternich, May 5, 1814": Vienna St. A.).
paternal duties, and her open sympathy with the Princess of Wales and her daughter. Such conduct must have recalled to the Regent's mind the bitter criticisms of the Tsar, which the Duke of Cumberland had sent from the Continent in 1813.
Thus there was much to make George suspicious of his guest before the monarchs crossed the channel, escorted by the Duke of Clarence as Lord High Admiral. They received an uproarious welcome; for to the British people the visit appeared not only an occasion for celebrating the end of twenty years of war and isolation, but also a tribute by Europe to Britain's constancy in the conflict and generosity to her Allies. The Tsar had a glorious opportunity. He had become a hero to the whole people, and had he also attached to himself the Prince Regent and the Court it would have been more difficult for Castlereagh to have stood out against his plans. Indeed, the Government by no means took Castlereagh's view of the respective importance of Russia and Austria. The Tsar came first in the estimation of all, then Prussia for her heroism in 1813, with Austria a very long way behind. The most distinguished attentions, therefore, which Britain had ever paid to a royal guest awaited Alexander. He had indeed to share them with the King of Prussia and a large number of soldiers and statesmen who accompanied them, but he stood forth primus inter pares. The Prince Regent invested him with the Garter with his own hand, an honour not shared by the King of Prussia, to whom the order was now at last given, and the same preeminence was everywhere designed for him.
But the Tsar made blunder after blunder. That he might enjoy his sister's society he insisted on staying at her hotel instead of St. James's Palace, which the Regent placed at his disposal. It was an added injury that this was in the heart of London where the Tsar could and did receive the neverceasing plaudits of the mob, who had nothing but abuse, and even worse, for his royal host. He and the Prince Regent vied in inflicting petty but noticeable slights upon one another. The Tsar followed his sister's example in especially favouring those members of the Opposition whom the Regent most disliked, notably Grey and Holland. He paid great attention to the discarded mistress, the beautiful Lady Jersey, while he had not a gracious word for the reigning one, Lady Hertford, whose charms did not attract him. He even threatened to call on the Princess of Wales, and was only prevented by the determined opposition of Lieven. Even his impression on the public diminished as time went on. It is true that he could always get applause from the mob, but he shocked the more solid portion of the London public by deliberately avoiding their recognition on his first entry into London and by humouring the whims of his sister, who not only insisted at being seated at the Guildhall banquet given by the City of London, but actually on occasions tried to prevent music being played to the royal toasts. The Tsar, therefore, never was really popular. It was Blücher, always ready to drink a bumper and make uncouth speeches, which were translated with tact and bonhomie by Sir Charles Stewart, soon made a Baron, a Lord of the Bedchamber, and Ambassador to Austria, who stood first in popular estimation, with Platov, the Cossack, a good second.
The Prince Regent, the Court, and the Government were astounded at the attitude of their royal guest. That Alexander made liberal friends and got into touch with Bentham and other reformers as well as the Whig Lords was no doubt a testimony to his breadth of view. Even on the Opposition, however, he made no great impression of sincerity and ability, while it was a fatal diplomatic blunder for a monarch, to whom the goodwill of the British Government was a priceless asset, to shew so marked a preference for their opponents. How far there was calculation in his conduct--a plan to enlist the Opposition on behalf of the liberties of Poland or even the expectation that they would be called to office--and how much was mere personal pique, it is hard to decide. But the men whom Alexander courted never had much influence in Britain during his lifetime, the Prince Regent remained his determined foe until his death, while Castlereagh's difficulties with his Government were made much less in the momentous year which followed the visit. 1
1 . . ."The Emperor of Russia sent for Lord Grey, Lord Grenville, Lord Holland, Lord Lansdowne, and Lord Erskine. and had long con-
Meanwhile Metternich represented his royal master with far more tact and skill than Francis himself could have mustered. The Prince Regent was given the magnificent Order of the Golden Fleece, which no other Protestant had ever obtained, as well as the rich uniform of an Austrian regiment. He was treated with the most flattering deference, and encouraged to magnify the part which he had played in the war and to regard himself as the arbiter of Europe. Metternich scrupulously avoided all intercourse with the Opposition. No wonder that henceforth George regarded Metternich as the wisest of Ministers and affected a special deference towards the Emperor of Austria.
This diplomatic rivalry would in any case have made it difficult for Castlereagh to carry through the schemes which he had made at Paris, but the excessive hospitality which was offered by the British made anything like systematic consideration of the important problems impossible. Within a week the visitors were tired out by the balls, receptions, and dinners--above all, by the dinners with which they were surfeited. The feast at the Guildhall surpassed everything that had hitherto been seen in Britain, and cost twenty thousand pounds. For three nights the Metropolis was illuminated, Lord Eldon's house in Bedford Square displaying in large letters formed of lamps the words: "THANKS TO GOD." Transparencies, fireworks, and bonfires surrounded by ill-regulated and often drunken mobs met the visitors at every turn. Only when they escaped from London and remarked with surprise that all England was a garden did they have time or inclination to admire. 1
Castlereagh himself, who with Liverpool was given the Garter by his sovereign, had to devote much of his attention to
versations with all of them. Lord Grey represents him as having very good opinions upon all subjects, but quite royal in having all the talk to himself, and of vulgar manners. . . . In truth he thinks him a vain silly fellow." Creevey to his wife, June 14, 1814: The Creevey Papers, i. 195.
On the whole visit, see "Extrait des mémoires de Princess Lieven" in Grand Duke Mikhailovitch, Correspondance de l'Empereur Alexandre I. avec sa sur Catharine, 225-46, a highly coloured account.
1 Gentz might well record his opinion that Metternich's conduct at London was a "chef d'uvre de perfection." Dêpêches inédites, i. 90. The Guildhall banquet is described in all its magnificence by the committee which arranged it, in Annual Register, 1814.
formal hospitality 1 and thus to undergo a terrible strain, while at the same time he had to resume his place in the Commons and take up the innumerable administrative duties of his office, which had been postponed while he was on the Continent. It soon became evident that but little could be done on the main problems. The Tsar, as at Paris, refused to allow the question of Poland to be officially discussed by his Ministers, though it was canvassed on all sides. No doubt he felt that he had too much against him and wished for time to prepare public opinion in Britain. Metternich and Castlereagh seem to have acquiesced easily enough in this decision.
What informal discussions took place amongst the Ministers of the Four we do not know. Some there were; but of Metternich's five reports to his master only one remains of no great interest. The British archives are naturally silent, nor was there any need for the Russian and Prussian Ministers to make written reports. All that is known are a few Protocols of the decisions, mainly on procedure, that were made, and a few rumours reported by the diplomatists of the minor Courts in which but little credence can be placed. 2
The only subject on which substantial progress was made was that of the Netherlands, which is narrated in the following section. There were also discussions on the German questions, in which Castlereagh acted as mediator. After consulting with him, Münster and Hardenberg were able to sign a Convention that both Luxemburg and Mainz should be fortresses of the future Confederation. This was, of course, not to the liking of Metternich, who still intended Bavaria to have Mainz, not only to keep Prussia in check but in order to get back the Tyrol. But Castlereagh tried to help Austria also by
1 Pfeffel to the King of Bavaria, June 10, 1814: "It is hardly possible to give any idea of all the duties which fall to him ( Castlereagh) ; besides his functions in the Cabinet and Parliament he has almost sole control over all questions of ceremony, no department for it having been organised in this country in such a manner as corresponds to the multitude and importance of the duties that belong to it at this moment." Munich St. A.
2 Klinkowström, Oesterreicks Theilnahme, 393. "Nesselrode to Pozzo di Borgo, June 22, 1814": Transactions Imperial Russian Historical Society, cxii. 25. To Liverpool, Nov. 25, 1814: "Having in successive interviews during the campaign, at Paris, in London, . . . employed in vain every conciliatory representation to place the question upon a footing to which a mediation could be applicable". . . W.S.D. ix. 451.
urging Bavaria to come to an agreement with her. Mainz would need at least thirty thousand men as a garrison, he pointed out, and would thus prove an onerous charge. It was in any case Bavaria's interest to support Austria as a mainstay of the balance of power. "As enemies," he said to Pfeffel, "you can do one another much evil; as friends you will make each other stronger. The provinces which you cede to Austria were acquired with hostile intent, while those you will get in exchange will suit you much better in every way." This is a good example of the manner in which he was exerting his influence in these questions, though for the moment but little effect was produced. Both Metternich and Pfeffel were disappointed that Mainz had not been obtained and that a long delay must ensue before the settlement could be arranged. Metternich pointed out that Bavaria must keep up her army, but dissuaded Pfeffel from asking Britain for a subsidy for that purpose. 1
No other decision as to territory could be made. No doubt the Saxon question was discussed as well as that of Mainz, but nothing was allowed to leak out about it. It was in vain that General von Watzdorf, with Metternich's secret approval, tried to enlist Castlereagh's aid on behalf of his sovereign. He could not even secure an interview with him and was refused all access to the Prince Regent. The question of Saxony, he was curtly informed, was reserved for the future Congress. Castlereagh was indeed little likely to commit himself on a question on which he had already decided that the union of Austria and Prussia in common opposition to the Tsar chiefly depended. The only person to whom the Saxon Minister was able to appeal was Lord Aberdeen, who, though he shewed sympathy, obviously knew little more about it than Watzdorf himself. All that the envoy could do, therefore, was to find consolation in the fact that decision was at least delayed and to enumerate those on the side of his King, an imposing catalogue that included Providence, Austria, France, all the states of Germany, and "the English nation which is
1 "Memorandum of Miinster and Hardenberg, June 15, 1814": F.O. Continent, 5. "Pfeffel to King of Bavaria, June 26, 1814": Munich St. A.
too moral in its principles to applaud the overthrow of an ancient and virtuous dynasty." 1
Important changes of plan were, however, made as to the Congress. Though it was clear that agreement was not likely to be reached in London on the outstanding points, the intention to keep the decision in the hands of the "Four" remained as strong as ever. They were also anxious to complete the work as quickly as possible. But Castlereagh could not leave until Parliament rose. By June 16, therefore, the Ministers agreed that the Congress should be summoned for August 15, that the seven Powers who had signed the Treaties of Paris should be a preliminary committee, but that the "Four" should first determine the plan of reconstruction. The Tsar, however, refused to accept the date fixed. The negotiations had already lasted longer than had been foreseen at Paris, and he was now asked to remain idle several weeks before the Congress met. He insisted, therefore, on returning to Russia before the meeting took place, with the consequent postponement of the opening to the end of September. The three Powers were somewhat taken aback by this decision, which raised fears and doubts as to the intentions of the Tsar. They suspected some design for action in Poland. But it could not very well be refused. In a joint note, therefore, while stressing the necessity of the Tsar's presence, they lamented the anxiety which further delay would cause to the sovereigns of the second and third order whose fate was undecided, and especially to the inhabitants of those countries in provisional occupation by foreign armies. They asked for an assurance of his return by September 1 and also a formal engagement that nothing should be done in the meantime to prejudice the decisions which had to be made especially in those countries under provisional occupation. But the Tsar would not accept the date suggested. He proposed that the Congress should be deferred until October 1, the four Powers meeting together previously to decide their affairs. He offered, however, no objection to making a declaration that nothing should be decided in the interval.
1 Watzdorf to Einsiedel, June 26, 1814: Dresden St. A. The correspondence with Castlereagh is given in Dupuis, Ministère de Talleyrand ex 1814, ii. 133-38.
Two months would thus pass before the Congress met, and there was general anxiety at such an interval while the fate of Europe remained uncertain. The only remedy that the four Ministers could devise was to renew amongst themselves the promises made at Chaumont. A Convention was signed between them, agreeing to keep 75,000 men on foot until the future repose of Europe and the maintenance of the balance of power was assured. It was not so much France as one another that they distrusted. That they also promised that the armies should only be employed by common agreement was an attempt to reassure one another of their intentions. The Convention, indeed, seems to have been designed by Castlereagh to secure from the Tsar another pledge that he would not attempt to settle his difficulties by the sword. Alexander had left behind him in Cabinet and Court distrust and resentment. The future encounter at Vienna was obviously to be a stern one, and in the interval that remained Castlereagh, like all others in Europe, got ready as best he could for the conflict.
3. PRELIMINARY SETTLEMENTS AND DISCUSSIONS
(i) THE NETHERLANDS 1
IF in the breathless interval between the peace with France and the Congress but little could be decided on the great problems which divided the Allies, there was still much for Castlereagh to do on other matters. The affairs of the centre of Europe must wait, but attention had to be given to the circumference where British power had gained special influence by its exertions during the war. During the three months he was in Britain Castlereagh was therefore constantly preoccupied with the settlement of a number of problems which were part of reconstruction. The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Italy all demanded some kind of action. As Parliament was sitting, the Opposition and especially the "Mountain" were on the look out for means by which to harass the Ministry, in spite of the fact that it now seemed so secure after the final triumph. Holland House and the official Whigs were indeed in a very despondent mood at the apparently impregnable position of their rivals both in the Prince Regent's and the country's favour. But Brougham --all the more a free lance since he had no seat and seemed unlikely to be given one by the Whig magnates--saw that peace would eventually bring almost as many problems as it solved, and would provide many opportunities for attacking the Government.
Most important of all was the question of the Netherlands, which involved not only the key position in Europe and colonial possessions of great importance, but also the future of the dynasty. For the new state, as has been seen, was to be connected to Britain by the closest possible ties of marriage,
1 See note on p. 180.
the heiress of Britain being united to the heir to the new kingdom. This important step, foreseen since 1812 by the Prince of Orange, had matured at the end of December 1813, in spite of his son's reluctance, comprised part of Castlereagh's instructions, and been announced to Europe and regularised by formal letters between the Prince of Orange, the Hereditary Prince, and the Prince Regent in February and March 1814. If neither of the young people had shewn great eagerness at the outset for the match, that was after all not expected in a royal marriage, and their relations had grown at any rate cordial and even tender before the Hereditary Prince left for his new dominions, it being hoped that his charm and reputation would encourage the Belgians to accept the new sovereignty to which they were destined. 1
Had Princess Charlotte been left to normal influences, no more than the usual difficulties of a marriage of this nature would have had to be overcome. She had lately shewn herself more submissive to her father, and her Confirmation in January 1814 had appeared to indicate her readiness to undertake new responsibilities. But the situation was highly abnormal. The impending visit of the sovereigns brought to an acute stage the friction between her father and mother. The Princess of Wales' consent had not been asked to the marriage, nor was it required. But she obviously could not view it with complete indifference, and was instinctively against it as her husband favoured it. Her own abnormal position was one of the few things which unscrupulous members of the Opposition could now use to make the Prince Regent and his Ministers uncomfortable, and the marriage therefore soon came to be viewed by them with a jealous eye. Opportunity was thus given to foreign intrigue, for despite official assurances some Russians at any rate saw in opposing the match a chance to extend the influence of their own country
1 The Regent had been much alarmed at Charlotte's attachment to his cousin, the Duke of Gloucester, of which the Duke of Cumberland wrote: "I own to you when I left England [in April 1813], and from all I knew, I was very much afraid she would prefer the cheese to the orange" ( Windsor Arch.), while Munster, as late as October 22, 1813, told Ompteda that the Prince Regent believed the young Prince of Orange did not want to marry Charlotte, and asked for a list of eligible Protestant princes in Germany. Ompteda, Nachlass, iii. 249.
in a most important quarter of Europe. It was natural that the Grand Duchess Catharine, who had, as has been seen, made special efforts to obtain the friendship of the young Princess, and who disliked her father intensely, should be suspected of influencing her protégée against the marriage. There is no direct evidence against her, but other Russians had been residing in London whose later history shewed them to be masters of intrigue, Tatischev, Minister designate to Spain, and his wife, whose intimacy with the Princess had been so openly boasted of that Lord Walpole had written from Petersburg to warn the Government against it. 1
At any rate, before Castlereagh got back from Paris Charlotte had already begun to rebel. Moreover, the Mountain leaders were assisting if not inspiring her. There were obviously difficult questions as to the future residence of one who was likely to be Queen of England. These were stated at length in the Morning Chronicle, and at the same time the Princess informed Lord Liverpool that she could not go on with the marriage unless she had power to choose which country she would live in. Neither the Prince Regent nor the Government felt that they could accede to a request which seemed to shew great distrust for her future husband. Liverpool's belief that the Tatischevs were responsible for this sudden and unexpected demand in order to make a marriage with either Nicholas or Constantine possible was so strong that he asked Castlereagh, at the Prince Regent's orders, to prevent the expected arrival of the Grand Dukes in England. The indignant Tsar immediately sent Tatischev to his post at Madrid, and as a result neither Nicholas nor Constantine accompanied him to London. 2
The only remedy seemed to be to send for the young lover, and in the greatest haste and secrecy Lord Clancarty managed
1 From "Lord Walpole, March 23, 1814": Windsor Arch.
2 For the correspondence of Charlotte, see Rose Weigall, Princess Charlotte, and Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vii. 541, 549, 551-53. From "Liverpool, April 30, 1814": Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 541. Lieven (to Nesselrode, May 21. 1814: Pet. Arch.) reported that the Prince Regent had told him that he knew that the Tatischevs had first suggested to the Princess the idea of detaching herself from the Prince of Orange in order that she might marry a Grand Duke. He also alluded to the influence of the Grand Duchess on the Princess. Cf. F. Martens, Recueil des Traités, xi. 206.
to smuggle him out of Holland incognito. The Prince's position was painful enough, for though Charlotte said she loved him, she did not love him enough to entrust her future to his hands. His own great desire for the marriage was sufficiently proved by the fact that he entreated his father to suggest such alterations in the marriage contract as would satisfy the Princess. The Sovereign Prince agreed, with some reluctance, and for a few days it seemed as if the matter was settled. Only in the first week of June, just as the royal visitors were at hand, did Charlotte again announce that she refused the terms. Since she had obtained all that she demanded, this second refusal is even harder to explain than the first. According to Creevey, it was due to the machinations of Brougham, who suggested that the marriage would result in the departure of the Princess of Wales to the Continent, a subsequent divorce of the Prince Regent, and a new marriage which might deprive Charlotte of the throne. Neither Creevey nor Brougham can be believed on any matter without confirmation, and it may be that Charlotte's act was due to a strong revulsion of feeling against her lover owing to an incident which might have influenced any one of her age and character. 1
At any rate, by the middle of June it was recognised that the marriage could not take place, though a formal pronouncement was delayed as long as possible. In July occurred the dramatic flight of Charlotte to her mother, an act of desperation which was, however, followed immediately by
1 From Clancarty, April 30, 1814: "Tho' it is no easy matter to smuggle an heir apparent out of the dominions I think we have accomplished this. . . . Had Lady Castlereagh been here I should have consulted her on the best means of smuggling him into England." Lond. MSS. Cf. Bathurst, 273, 275, and Creevey Papers, i. 197-98. The desire of the Prince and his influence on his father can be followed in Colenbrander, Gedenksiukken, vii. 561-86. The incident referred to in the text was the bad behaviour of the young Prince in the Princess's presence owing to drunkenness. He was led astray by Prince Paul of Wurtemberg ( "Queen of Wurtemberg to the Prince Regent, June 30, 1814": Windsor Arch.). Mrs. Warrenne Blake, An Irish Beauty, 226. There is other evidence of his drunken habits at this time, and it may well be that the Princess's disgust is the real explanation of her conduct. Whig observers, of course, placed the whole responsibility on the Prince Regent, who was accused of desiring to get his more popular successor out of his sight. Cf. Horner, Memoirs, ii. 169. Dr. F. G. Renier puts well the evidence for the Russian influence in his Great Britain and the Establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, 181-90.
complete submission to her father, who placed her under closer supervision than before.
This signal failure of the Government's favourite plan caused great rejoicing to the Mountain, but their joy was short lived. For it was on the Princess of Wales herself that they mainly relied to harass the Prince Regent and his Government, and her sudden decision to accept a Parliamentary grant and go abroad deprived them of their most dangerous weapon for a period of five years.
Castlereagh had, however, to carry out his negotiations concerning the Netherlands with every obvious disadvantage. But he made it immediately quite clear that the failure of the marriage plan made no difference to the main problem. He attributed the failure to the influence of the Duke of Sussex, a conjecture which the Sovereign Prince thought impossible, and which shews what difficulty the Government found to account for Charlotte's action.
Castlereagh was anxious that the Prince of Orange should not enter into a Russian alliance, for the Tsar's visit to the Hague was considered by the Dutch Royal Family to be intended to lead to a suggestion that the Grand Duchess Catharine should marry the Prince. Van Nagell declared that this would make him the most miserable of men and disrupt the whole Orange family, and it was partly to guard against this danger that no steps were taken formally to withdraw Charlotte's hand, and that an offer which Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg immediately made was peremptorily refused by the Prince Regent. Castlereagh could not, how. ever, help being impressed by the lavish attentions which the Tsar and his sister heaped on the Hereditary Prince during their visit to the Hague and the cordial invitation to visit Petersburg, which the rejected lover appeared to catch at somewhat eagerly. That he still had hopes of Charlotte is shewn by the fact that he did not encourage the suggestion of an Austrian match for the Prince, which had been already communicated to him privately, for Austria was as alarmed as Britain at the idea of the Russian marriage. The Regent also did not quite give up hope, for the Queen reported to him a satisfactory change in the conduct of Charlotte, who had declared to the Duchess of York that "being convinced that you have the power over her person she was determined to submit entirely to your will." But the young Prince, though both he and his father considered resuming negotiations, did not eventually take the chance of another rebuff, and next year confirmed the worst fears by marrying Catherine's younger sister, Anne. 1
The important thing now, however, was to shew that the caprice of a young girl had made no difference to the British attitude towards the Netherlands and the House of Orange. The Hereditary Prince therefore was not only invested with the Order of the Bath, but put in command of the army of Hanoverian and Dutch troops, which, by agreement with the Allies, Britain had to maintain in Flanders. This was a signal mark of confidence and a sign, moreover, of British desire to ensure the authority of the House of Orange over Belgium. The final disposition of the Low Countries had, indeed, to be postponed to the Congress of Vienna. But by an agreement of June 14 the four Powers had decided that the provisional administration should be handed over to the Prince of Orange.
The principles on which the two countries should be united had already been warmly canvassed in London, and Liverpool had even suggested the Irish Union as a model 2 --at any rate on the financial side. In order, however, that the interests of his new subjects should be fully protected, it was laid down that their rights should be established along the lines already
1 From Clancarty, June 28, 1814: C.C. x. 65; June 29, 1814: "Lond. MSS. To Clancarty, June 26, 1814": C.C. x. 60; July 14, 1814: Lond. MSS. Merveldt to Metternich, July 9, 1814: "Vienna St. A." Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vii. 630. The Queen to the Prince Regent, Sept. 11, 1814: Windsor Arch. Of the Grand Duchess, Charlotte said "that she felt no partiality towards her and that the last visits of which passed between them were most disagreeable and that she was a very intriguing woman. The Prince of Orange was, of course, not named. . ." This lends itself to various interpretations.
2 Protocol, June 14, 1814: D'Angeberg, Congrès de Vienne, i. 182. Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vii. 588, 596. Liverpool's principles were, however, soundly based: "Depend upon it, it will require the utmost management and indulgence to reconcile the people of Brabant to this connection. A new connection cannot be governed with as tight a rein as an old one. Recollect how Ireland is governed now, and what lost America to the crown of Great Britain." Liverpool to Clancarty, May 30, 1814: Yonge, Liverpool, i. 514.
discussed between Clancarty and the Prince at Paris, by special guarantees of religious toleration and commercial equality. The Dutch sovereign, whose reported grant of a constitution "as liberal as the English" had already won the applause of the British Press and allowed Mackintosh to withdraw the illinformed criticisms that he had made in the House of Commons on the destruction of an ancient republic, was ready without pressure to agree to all that was required. But he was not sorry to be subjected to outside authority in order to avoid the criticism of his Dutch subjects, and its exertion, repeated in the Vienna Treaty, is the first instance of the protection of the rights of minorities by the Great Powers. On August I he formally took over the administration of the Provinces to the Meuse.
Meanwhile, Castlereagh was anxious to arrange as speedily and with as little friction as possible the important question of the Dutch colonies. To a large extent the main lines of the settlement had already been determined. The British Government had committed itself to the restoration of the majority of the Dutch colonies, provided that an independent and enlarged Netherlands was secured. This had now been agreed to in the Peace of Paris, though its eastern frontier had still to be settled, and it was obvious that the promise must be met. There was thus no dispute about the surrender of the rich prize of the Dutch East Indies, which, though "a point of strength and Empire," as Liverpool had termed it, incontrast to the West Indian Isles, the Dutch might now be considered strong enough to guard from attack. Nor was there any claim or even desire on the part of the Dutch to receive back the Cape, which had been in British hands since 1806, and was considered essential to the protection of the long route to India. The West Indian islands and Guiana, on the other hand, which had been a long time in British possession, had begun to be exploited by British capital, especially the settlements on the Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice rivers, where Liverpool merchants had made serious commitments. At one time these had been suggested as compensation to Sweden for the renunciation of Guadeloupe, which France insisted on retaining, but fortunately
Sweden was induced to accept £1,000,000 in compensation, a charge which it was at first intended to throw on Holland as a contribution to the general cause in return for restoration and the acquisition of Belgium. The Dutch had also agreed to take over the Russian debt in Holland in agreement with Britain, in order to obtain Russia's consent to the union of the Belgian provinces to Holland. Moreover, the Dutch Government was quite ready to abolish the Slave Trade, and this was actually done by a decree of June 15. 1
This was the situation which Castlereagh had to deal with on his return. As has been seen, he had always wished to treat Holland as generously as possible, and perhaps all the more as the discussions at Paris had shewn that her land territory would not be extended as far as he had at one time imagined. In Hendrik Fagel he found a negotiator who fully appreciated the English point of view and realised that a good financial settlement was the best bargain that the Dutch could make. An agreement would therefore soon have been reached had not Van Nagell, the vain and self-opinionated Dutch Foreign Minister, sent instructions which attempted to assert in a most unfriendly manner the extreme Dutch view on every point, both on the colonies and the Russian debt, without paying any regard to British interests. Fagel himself realised that this was a false step and wrote to his sovereign direct to protest against it. He was bound, however, to submit the proposition to Castlereagh, who said it was "a bit hard" to be treated thus by a state which owed so much to Great Britain. If such conduct continued, he threatened to refer the whole question of the colonies to the Congress of Vienna, when their disposition would have to depend on the rest of the settlement there. This threat was hardly meant seriously and was probably concerted with Fagel to bring the Foreign Minister to his senses. The Sovereign Prince had, at any rate, no illusions on the subject, and immediately repudiated Nagell without even informing him and accepted all Castlereagh's demands. 2
1 From Liverpool, March 15, May 3, 1814: Lond. MSS., Appendix, p. 540. In March Liverpool had suggested ceding Trinidad to Sweden instead of Guadeloupe. Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vii. 142.
2 Colenbrander, Gedenkstukken, vii. 142, 167, 614, 622, 640-41, 648.
The result was a settlement with which both sides could profess themselves contented. Britain kept the Guiana settlements but allowed the Dutch to trade with them. In return she took on herself the charge to Sweden for Guadeloupe (£1,000,000), half the Russian debt (£3,000,000), and paid £2,000,000 besides for the Cape, which, however, was to be spent on fortifications against France. By this means the whole charge of £6,000,000 could be represented to Parliament as expended for British colonial interests, but the fact was that the Dutch only got £2,000,000, and that they had to expend on an object which was an European interest as well as their own--the barrier against France. Then and later they protested against the view that they sold part of their colonies to Britain, as the transaction has often been represented by British historians. They had really no alternative but to accept such portions of their Empire as Britain was willing to return, and the money they received was meant for a special purpose for which the British Government would have found it difficult otherwise to get Parliamentary sanction.
Nevertheless, Castlereagh's claim that Britain was acting generously was justified by the facts, if the principles of the age be taken into account. The colonies she took were not considered at the time of much commercial value, and their cession was justified by the fact that the Dutch were incapable of defending them from the enemies of Britain in a world war. The Empire she surrendered was a rich and noble possession, though it is true that its great value was not fully realised at that time, and Stamford Raffles was considered a nuisance. There can be no doubt, however, but that Britain could have kept it with the acquiescence of the Great Powers if she had desired. The European settlement provided her with plenty of opportunities to make such a bargain. Napoleon indeed thought her foolish not to have done so. But Castlereagh and his Government in attaching more importance to the welfare of the new kingdom they had created and to the public opinion of Europe, than to the demands of their own merchants or an attempt to create a monopoly of colonial trade, were building for the future better perhaps than they realised.
Another embarrassing problem, though one bearing less directly on British interests, was that of Norway, over which, by the Treaty of Kiel, Denmark had surrendered her sovereignty and in return received considerable concessions from the allied Powers. Britain, as has been seen, had agreed to return to her the whole of her colonial possessions except Heligoland, and to endeavour to procure her compensation in Europe. The Norwegians, however, refused to be transferred to Sweden by treaty, proclaimed their independence, and elected Prince Christian of Denmark, the heir to the Danish throne, as their King. One of their first steps was to send Carsten Anker to London to announce their unshakable determination never to be united to Sweden and to ask for the approval and help of Britain. He was received by Liverpool (March 26), who made it absolutely clear that the Norwegian movement for independence would be condemned by the British Government. He pointed out that Norway had been for years in hostility to Britain, and only declared her independence after Denmark was conquered, and that Britain was bound by treaty to Sweden. He assured him, however, that Norway would not be incorporated in Sweden, and offered, if the Norwegians submitted, to mediate on this point with the Crown Prince. Anker refused all such proposals and left Liverpool's presence reiterating that the people of Norway would never submit. He refused also to leave England, where an illness and an unfortunate prosecution for a supposed commercial offence helped him to remain, thus encouraging his countrymen to imagine that the British Government was inclined to negotiate about their independence. 1
The reluctance of the British Government to use force against the Norwegians was increased by the equivocal con-
1 Memorandum of Liverpool, March 26, 1814; "Liverpool to Thornton, March 28, 1814": F.O. Sweden, 89. The memorandum was to be read to Bernadotte, but Liverpool trusted to his honour "that, if the Norwegians should within a reasonable time submit to the annexation of Norway to Sweden, he will not be disposed on this account to take any vindictive measures either against Mr. Anker or any persons who may have been connected with him."
duct of the Crown Prince in the closing days of the struggle with Napoleon, and, above all, by his suspicious attitude towards the Bourbon restoration, in which, as has been seen, Castlereagh at last regarded his actions as definitely treacherous. Bathurst, who had even suspected him of selfish designs on Antwerp, lamented the necessity of a blockade, for which the Swedes were pressing, but, though Castlereagh admitted that "Charles Jean has certainly forfeited all claim to personal favour," he thought that, as Russia was prepared to carry out the treaty, Britain could not use what were after all only suspicions to justify refusal. The blockade was therefore continued against Norway after the peace with Denmark had been ratified. 1
By now, however, the Opposition began to be alive to the situation, and questions in both Houses led to a long debate on May 12. Liverpool confessed his apprehension at taking part in it, and his surprise at finding that Vattel and Grotius defended self-determination. Grey quoted these and other masters in one of his most eloquent speeches, but Harrowby and Liverpool were, of course, able to shew that the good faith of the country was involved, and the Opposition was easily defeated in both Houses. Nevertheless, the Government was anxious to escape as soon as possible from an odious necessity, and gladly joined in a plan which Liverpool had first suggested in March of sending allied representatives to try to bring the Norwegians to accept the sovereignty of Sweden.
Indeed, before a joint attempt could be made, the Government sent J. P. Morier on a special mission to Norway, to explain the British position and urge Prince Christian to give way. He did his best, but was so much impressed by the Norwegian dislike of Sweden that he gave passports for deputies from the newly elected Diet to go to England, a step which at any rate tended to delay acceptance of the situation, and for which he was mildly censured by Castlereagh when he got home. Meanwhile, Augustus Foster had been sent to Copenhagen, where he found Austrian, Prussian, and Russian colleagues, of whom the last, General Orloff, was taking a
1 From Bathurst, April 14, 1814: "Lond. MSS. To Bathurst, April 27, 1814": Bathurst, 274.
very high line, which alarmed the Danes, all the more since there was a strong Russian force in Holstein. Foster acted with skill and tact, and by the time the mission set out for Gothenburg and Christiania he had got on good terms with his colleagues. After an interview with Bernadotte, who indulged in some characteristic gasconades, the mission tackled Prince Christian and used every possible argument to overcome his natural reluctance to abandon the Norwegians to their fate. But even after a second visit to Bernadotte and a return to Norway it seemed as if no terms could be arranged. A sort of war indeed ensued. But fortunately Prince Christian's honour could be saved by the douce violence of an invasion, while Bernadotte, whose actions were always wiser than his words, was, in spite of his threats, prepared to grant what under the circumstances must be considered as very favourable terms. Thus in August the fighting, which had never been very serious, ceased, and by November the Prince Royal, in the name of the King of Sweden, had accepted all the essentials of the Norwegian constitution, which made the union between the two countries little more than a personal one. Liverpool heaved a sigh of relief when his responsibility ceased. "Though our policy respecting the union of Norway to Sweden has always appeared to me right," he told Castlereagh, "I confess I felt for some time that the question was the most awkward and embarrassing of any in our European politics." 1
Bernadotte, however, continued to hold the Danish Government responsible for the trouble which had been caused, and insisted that Prince Christian should be disinherited. Foster on his return to Copenhagen refused to accept this point of view, though he admitted, as did other observers, that public opinion was violent in favour of Prince Christian, with the result that he used his conditional powers of presenting his letters of credence immediately on his return to Copenhagen, so that Great Britain "would thereby have the gracious appearance of being the first Power to pardon the past errors
1 The dispatches of Morier and Foster are given in full in vol. i. of Yngvar Nielsen Aktstykker vedkommende Stormagternes Mission ( 2 vols., Christiania, 1896-97). From Liverpool, May 3. 1814: Lond. MSS.; Sept. 2, 1814: W.S.D. ix. 213.
of the Danish Cabinet and to afford protection to the most distressed country at present in Europe."
This action was quite approved by his Government, who were thoroughly suspicious of the Russian troops in Holstein and the threats of Bernadotte. Thornton was ordered to make vigorous protest. But though Norway was settled, the Swedish-Danish situation, which Bernadotte exploited for his own ends, continued, as will be seen, to give Britain much trouble throughout the Congress of Vienna. 1
On the shores of the Baltic Britain had only a secondary rôle to play. In the Spanish Peninsula she was by far the most important outside influence in settling the affairs of a country which her armies had assisted to regain its independence, and throughout these months the responsibility was as irksome to her as to the proud and entirely unreason. able Spaniards. As has been seen, the relation between the British and the Regency was a continual struggle against incompetence and arrogance, which made Sir Henry Wellesley's life a prolonged torment and even impaired at times the apparently inexhaustible patience of Wellington. The victory of Vittoria, which almost freed Spain completely from the invader, did little or nothing to improve matters. The Cortes at Cadiz still maintained their jealousy of Britain's South American plans. Castlereagh urged the Government to remove to Madrid, but fear of the Cadiz mob delayed an obvious measure indefinitely. In a long review of the situation towards the close of the year 1813, Wellesley described the absurdities of the constitution of 1812, and the resentment against the British at Cadiz, which, however, he believed existed nowhere else in Spain. Wellington's supreme command was constantly disputed by the Regency and the Council of State. 2
In the all-important matter, however, of refusal of all compromise with France, both Governments were at one. Some
1 "From Sir C. Gordon, Aug. 1, 1814": F.O. 38 (Holland Frontiers), 16. "To Wellington, Aug. 7, 1814": C.C. x. 77. Foster's dispatches, as in previous note.
2 To Wellesley, July 7, 1813; from "Wellesley, July 25, Aug. 19, Sept. 7, Nov. 30, 1813": F.O. Spain, 142, 145, 146.
of the Regents were, indeed, of the French party, but the feeling of the country was too strong for them to allow their secret wishes to influence their actions. Even before Vittoria they refused all participation in the negotiations during the armistice, to which, as has been seen, Napoleon tried to entice them. Nor when in desperation he forced on the captive Ferdinand the Treaty of Valençay and sent him back to Spain was there the slightest danger of the offer being accepted. A new Regency was at last allowed by the Cortes to transfer the seat of Government to Madrid ( January 11, 1814), for yellow fever had broken out at Cadiz, and in the breathless months of the final struggle the Government shewed every disposition to seek British aid to secure its objects in the approaching world settlement, for which it had an ambitious programme, including the return of Louisiana by the United States. The Foreign Minister, Luvando, indeed went so far as to suggest a treaty of alliance, which would bind Spain not to renew the Family Compact, and Wellesley, "knowing from experience the disposition of Spaniards in moments of anger or of enthusiasm to pledge themselves to acts of the greatest importance without any reflection as to the consequences which are to follow," was of opinion that it would be good policy to accept the offer.
There was, however, no time to deal with such high questions before Ferdinand returned to Spain. The King was from the first determined to overthrow the constitution, and at once asked Wellesley for the aid of Wellington's army for that purpose. This was naturally refused, with some good advice for the future, and for a time Wellesley hoped that Ferdinand's promises to grant a constitution were sincere, but the extravagant demonstrations of his subjects both in the provinces and at Madrid gave the King and his Camarilla of reactionary clericals the necessary courage, so that by the middle of May it was swept away, and the King began a reign of undiluted autocracy, which re-established the Inquisition and proscribed many of those who had done most to drive the French out of Spain.
Both Wellesley and Wellington, who made a hasty return from his Paris honours to lend his authority to his brother's protests, endeavoured in vain to curb the extravagances of the new régime and persuade Ferdinand to grant a new constitution. In this they, of course, had the support of their Government, though Castlereagh, sickened by the experience of the last two years, wrote that "it is impossible to conceive that any change tranquilly effected can well be for the worse. We are entitled to pronounce now upon a certain extent of experience that in practice, as in theory, it is amongst the worst of the modern productions of that nature.""I hope," he continued, in language that reveals a good deal of his mind on this subject, "if we are to encounter the hazards of a new constitutional experiment in Spain, in addition to the many others now in progress in Europe, that the persons charged with the work will not again fall into the inconceivable absurdity of banishing from the legislature the Ministers of the Crown: to which error, more perhaps than to any other, may be attributed the incapacity which has distinguished the march of every one of these systems, which has placed the main authorities of the constitution in hostility, instead of alliance, with each other." 1
It was with Ferdinand's new Government, therefore, that the peace negotiations had to be transacted. Its predecessor, protesting against exclusion from the Châtillon and Chaumont negotiations, had sent full powers to Fernan-Nuéez to take part in the Peace Conference. It was, however, only Castlereagh's urgent summons and promise to accept responsibility which brought him, in doubt and trepidation, to Paris at the end of April. Ferdinand, indeed, shewed himself sufficiently hostile to France. He accepted the Treaty of Chaumont with alacrity. But the Duke of San Carlos, his Foreign Minister, was immediately up in arms at the manner in which Spain was treated at Paris. He refused to recognise Fernan-Nuñez, and sent to Paris Labrador, whom Wellington described as "la plus mauvaise téte that I have ever met with." Wellington left behind him a masterly memorandum urging Spain to give up her claims on Italy and rely on her almost insular position.
1 From Wellesley, Jan. 6, 11, Feb. 26, March 22, April 19, 23, 24, May 15, 1814: F.O. Spain, 158; W.S.D. ix. 17. "Wellington to Stuart, May 25, 1814": Gurwood, xii. 27. "To Wellesley, May 10, 1814": C.C. x. 25.
Meanwhile, Castlereagh had been trying to induce FernanNuñez to accept the treaty with France, but the Spaniard, much piqued at being left out with all the other secondary Powers from the inner councils of the peace negotiations, was trying to negotiate separate articles with Talleyrand, which would have reopened every territorial change since 1792. Castlereagh got for him the retrocession from France of the Spanish part of St. Domingo--a barren enough gift--but he had to refuse to take up the question of Louisiana, explaining that France had no money to buy it back from the United States. Fernan-Nuñez, profoundly disheartened, would have left Paris but for Castlereagh's urgent request, and welcomed the news that Labrador would replace him. Labrador had but little more success than his predecessor, and the treaty with France, when finally signed on July 20, added nothing of importance to the main treaty drawn up by the Four, except that Talleyrand promised the good offices of France at the coming Congress in support of Spanish claims in Italy. 1
There was thus hardly a favourable atmosphere in which to arrange special British interests with Spain. Two questions especially, besides that of the colonies, on which there was not much hope for a settlement, were uppermost in the mind of the British Government--the Slave Trade and the restoration of Olivenza to Portugal. Wellesley soon saw that but little could be done as regards the first, though he continued his unavailing efforts until the autumn. The second also, Wellington thought, could only be settled by strong support of Spain in the colonial question, while San Carlos, who received the demand with great surprise, suggested that Louisiana would be fair exchange. He also asked for a loan of ten millions and the continuation of the British subsidies to the end of the year. Wellesley had to subdue these demands but the treaty of Alliance was nevertheless concluded on July 5. It contained no clause of importance except one which ensured most favoured nation treatment to Britain, if Spain opened her South American trade, and a separate article, which San Carlos insisted on keeping secret,
1 "From Wellesley, June 5, 1814": F.O. Spain, 160. "Wellesley to Wellington, June 17, 1814": W.S.D. ix. 139.
by which His Catholic Majesty agreed not to enter into any treaty with France of the nature of the Family Compact or affecting its independence or alliance with Britain. No commercial treaty could yet be obtained, much as it was needed.
Castlereagh was nevertheless glad to obtain the treaty, which at least removed a fear necessarily present at the simultaneous restoration of the Bourbons in France and Spain. He regretted the necessity of keeping the clause secret from France, and when in August his relations with Talleyrand grew closer, he succeeded in getting San Carlos to allow it to be divulged. For the rest, except for the in. terminable Slave Trade negotiations, British influence was confined to protests against the conduct of Ferdinand, who was now completely in the hands of his secret advisers. His arbitrary actions had already begun to make him most unpopular in England, and Wellington on his return was warned by the Lord Mayor that he must not propose the King of Spain's health at a Guildhall banquet. 1
If in Spain some progress had at least been made with British interests, however unsatisfactory Ferdinand's conduct towards his own subjects, in Italy during this period nothing could be accomplished. The new constitution in Sicily was, indeed, put in the greatest danger by the King assuming the royal power once more, now that the war was over. Bentinck, who had insisted on returning to Palermo, was still in charge when this event happened, and though he was quite aware of what Ferdinand's return to power meant, he tried to make the best of it. He assured the Sicilian constitutionalists that Britain would continue to protect them, while he affected to believe that the King, who had received much good advice from both the Tsar and the Emperor of Austria, was now
1 "To Wellesley, May 11, 1814": C.C. x. 27; "July 30, Aug. 3, Sept. 9, 1814": F.O. Spain, 158. "From Wellesley, June 17, July 5, 6, 22, 23, Aug. 31, 1814": F.O. Spain, 160, 161. "Wellesley to Wellington, June 17, 1814": W.S.D. ix. 139. "Wellington to Wellesley, July 20, 1814"; "from Wellington, May 25, Sept. 12, 1814": Gurwood, xii. 77, 28, 109: F.O. France, 100 (from which the blanks in Gurwood can be filled up).
ready to adopt liberal principles in order to obtain the return of Naples. He released him from the promise he had made in October 1813 not to resume the throne, and the reconciliation was celebrated by the King visiting Bentinck's house for the feast of Santa Rosalia--an unprecedented honour. Bentinck could therefore, in the last dispatch he wrote as British envoy, congratulate Castlereagh "upon this happy termination of the long and embarrassing relation which has existed for so many years between the two Governments. The King returns to an independent throne, saved by the valour and forbearance of Great Britain. He returns with expressions of gratitude to his ally, with a desire apparently most sincere to support the improved institutions of his country, with feelings of universal conciliation and goodwill." 1
How far Bentinck had been able to persuade himself that the King had changed his spots it is difficult to say. He could believe almost anything. But A'Court, his cool, capable, and cynical successor, had no illusions and was thankful that he had no responsibility for the King's recall. His most secret instructions, drawn up by Liverpool in Castlereagh's absence, ordered him to secure a modification of the constitution to strengthen the power of the Crown. A'Court's opinion of the Sicilian people was that they were "totally and radically unfit to be trusted with political power." He deplored "their natural depravity at bottom, which will always rise, when the hand of power be removed, to ruin and destroy the fairest projects of philanthrophy." Yet he had to try to defend the constitutional party from the persecution which the King and his new advisers immediately began. "I am forced to become its advocate and its chief," he lamented, "because neither the honour of the British name nor humanity itself will permit me to think of deserting it." The partisans of the constitution, he reported, fearing the King's vengeance, were already fleeing the country.
His battle was from the first a losing one. The King was determined to destroy the constitution as soon as it was safe to do so. A'Court, much as he hated democracy, dreaded the despotism of a King like Ferdinand even more. His own
1 From Bentinck, July 4, 5, 1814: F.O. Sicily, 64.
position, he said, was an impossible one. Bentinck had done sufficient to fill the King with rancour against the British, while he had failed to secure his abdication. The result was that he had called back to power a set of Ministers who hated both the constitution and the British. A'Court thus found himself powerless to protect the constitutional party. He asked for authority to suspend the subsidy in order to obtain some control, while the only chance for the Sicilians, he thought, was for the Vienna Congress to restore Ferdinand to Naples on condition that the Hereditary Prince was left in independent control of Sicily. This proposal somewhat embarrassed both Castlereagh, now on his way to Vienna, and the Cabinet. The former was ready to protect the constitutional party, "even to the extent of breaking off relations" with the Court, but he pointed out that Britain could not use force for that end and could not assume "a control which cannot belong to us and which could not, if attempted, be persevered in." The Cabinet went as far as possible in a draft instruction which they sent to Vienna for Castlereagh's approval. Both Liverpool and Bathurst disliked the Sicilian constitution, but they thought Britain in honour bound to protect their "friends." A'Court was therefore to concentrate on that point and leave the constitution to take care of itself as much as possible. He was given full control of the subsidy and ordered "to insist on the most positive terms with the Sicilian Government that no person whatever shall suffer in his person or property for the part he may have taken in the establishment and support of the constitution." But, on the second point, it was impossible to say what could be done. Nevertheless, the bait of Naples was to be used to restrain the King: "You will give the Court of Naples most distinctly to understand that if they make so ill a return for all we have done for His Sicilian Majesty as to persecute those with whom we have acted, it will be impossible for us to take any effective part in the measures which may be proposed for the restoration of His Sicilian Majesty to the crown of Naples."
These instructions were sent to Castlereagh, who before forwarding them to A'Court had an interview with Ferdinand's representative at Vienna, Ruffo. After explaining that the British troops could not stay for ever in Sicily, which was now in no danger, he urged the King to make his peace with those of his subjects who had been on the constitutional side, thus avoiding the necessity of an "interference which must more or less lower his authority and embarrass our relations." "With respect to the constitution,"Castlereagh continued, "we considered it too servile an imitation of a system inapplicable to the state of society in Sicily, and especially defective in not giving adequate power and influence to the Crown. That the King might rely upon our support in any temperate and prudent modification of the Government, but that nothing ought to be done abruptly; any party measure, which gave the impression of reaction before a plan was well considered and opinions prepared, would injure the King's interests generally and especially counteract any hopes of returning to Naples." 1
These instructions implied that the British Government were perhaps prepared to join in an attack on Murat, and throughout this period their policy had obviously tended in that direction. As has been seen, Liverpool as early as April had hoped to get rid of him, and such continued to be the desire of the Government, though of course it could not be avowed. In June the Duke of Orleans visited France to plead his father-in-law's cause, and Louis, while full of sympathy, sent him to London where, he said, the matter would be decided. The Prince Regent received him warmly, and openly avowed his desire to get rid of Murat. His Ministers were, however, more circumspect. Liverpool, though he made no secret of his opinion, refused to admit that Britain could do anything, and tried to throw the responsibility for the removal of Murat on the Bourbon courts. Castlereagh was much less positive, and dwelt on the difficulties of the situation without in any way committing himself, while Metternich was embarrassed and hesitating.
1 Memorandum for Mr. A'Court, March 9, 1814; "Bathurst to A'Court (sent to Vienna by Mr. A'Court's request to be considered by Lord Castlereagh), Sept. 17, 1814": F.O. Sicily, 65. "From Bathurst, Sept. 16, 1814": Lond. MSS. "To Liverpool, Sept. 9, 1814": C.C. x. 112. "To A'Court, Sept. 29, 1814": F.O. Continent, 7. "A'Court to Hamilton, July 3, 1814"; "from A'Court, July 23, 24, Aug. 6, 17, 1814": F.O. Sicily, 65.
Nevertheless, the British Government shewed pretty clearly its dislike of Murat. It refused to receive his representative as an accredited envoy, and Castlereagh's reply to a question of Canning on June 29 indicated that the Government felt free to follow any line of action, being only bound by the armistice. Though Murat continued to receive many British visitors, and through them endeavoured to work on public opinion at home, his envoys were not very well chosen. 1
Meanwhile another distinguished visitor had arrived who also shewed no favour to Murat--CardinalConsalvi. For the first time since the days of Mary Tudor a Cardinal was received in London. The Pope's defiance of Napoleon had enabled Castlereagh to tell Consalvi at Paris that "all England was Catholic in wishing to restore the Pope to his patrimony," and to allude pleasantly to the British scheme to rescue His Holiness by a daring raid in 1812. Consalvi began his campaign with a note to the Ministers of each of the Four Powers, asking for the return of the whole of the patrimony of St. Peter, including the Legations and the Marches. But having once formally established his claims, he was careful not to press the British Ministers too hard. He knew that the affair depended mainly on Metternich, who gave him evasive replies. During his visit, therefore, he behaved with the greatest tact, avoiding public occasions so as not to raise the dangerous question of precedence, being satisfied with the fact that the Prince Regent had received him wearing a Cardinal's costume. The Prince showered compliments on him, and the Ministers treated him with great courtesy. They were eager to get the assistance of the Pope in dealing with the Catholic Powers, who now alone supported the Slave Trade. They promised him their support at the coming Congress, but when he tried to obtain something more definite on the question of the Legations and the Marches they evaded any definite promise.
In this situation Consalvi shewed the greatest discretion. There were big issues at stake. The question of permanent
1 Weil, Murat, i. 127 ff., gives the long letter of the Duke of Orleans which is in F.O. Sicily, 65, having been communicated to "A'Court. La Châtre to Talleyrand, June 23, 1814": Paris A.A.E. Angleterre Supplement, 21, f. 268. diplomatic relations between the Papacy and Britain was bruited, and of course that of Catholic Emancipation, in which the consent of the Pope to such safeguards as its supporters thought necessary to secure the assent of Parliament and the Regent was of the utmost importance. In February the Vice-Prefect of Propaganda had sent a letter which seemed to shew that the Pope would agree to the restrictions necessary to carry the measure, especially the Lay veto on the appointment of bishops, and the Irish Catholics were already in open protest against it. But the Cardinal did not grant or press for decisions on any question. He was content to have established amicable relations with Castlereagh and cultivated the goodwill of the principal Protestant Power. 1
In the midst of all these transactions affecting the British position in the Mediterranean and the North Sea the main preoccupation of the Foreign Minister, as of the sovereigns and statesmen of the other great Powers, continued to be the struggle at the coming Congress for the future of Germany and Poland. Neither Metternich nor the Tsar had left England satisfied with the results of the visit. The former, indeed, professed himself delighted with his reception, which Montgelas said had made him an "Anglomaniac." But though he might be satisfied with the impression which he had produced on the Government and the Prince Regent, who, he claimed, had offered him an alliance against Russia, he had secured nothing definite for the large concessions which he had made on Saxony, however much he might minimise them to the Saxon representatives or their friends. The question of Mainz had not gone well, and he was doubtful, to say the least, how far Castlereagh's plan of declaring, in the first instance, for an independent Poland would work out. At Vienna these misgivings must have been increased by find-
1 There is a full account of the visit in Consalvi's letters to Pacca in P. I. Rinieri Il Congresso di Vienna e la Santa Sede, 143-82. Cf. also Mémoires du Cardinal Consalvi, ed. J. Cretinau-Joly ( 1866). 82-84, and Bernard Ward, The Eve of Catholic Emancipation, II. chaps. xx. and xxi. and pp. 91-94.
ing a strong party organised against him, even though he was secure in the Emperor's favour.
As for the Tsar, he made no secret of his irritation at all that had occurred in London. He wrapped himself in inscrutable mystery as to his Polish plans, but he was aware of the combination forming against him. It was perhaps some consolation that emissaries came to Petersburg from the sovereigns of the smaller Courts, and even from the Italians, asking for his protection at the Congress. Nesselrode was at this time appointed Foreign Secretary, but it was recognised that he was only a secretary and that the Tsar kept affairs in his own hands.
Only Prussia had obtained anything of substance. The agreement with Münster over Mainz and the countenance of his Saxon plans by Castlereagh seemed of great importance to Hardenberg and Humboldt. The conduct of their soldiers in the Netherlands, which General Sack refused to evacuate and where he levied large contributions, shewed the spirit in which the army approached the coming settlement. 1
Castlereagh was kept hard at work in the House of Commons throughout July, for besides the irritating question concerning the Princess of Wales, he had to obtain a vote of credit for his reconstruction arrangements in Holland and his army of 75,000 men on the Continent. The overwhelming superiority of the Government was, however, much in evidence. The Opposition had lost caste by the manner in which the Princess of Wales had thrown over Whitbread, and Castlereagh covered them with ridicule. The Whigs were losing all their possible allies. Canning's acceptance of the Embassy to Portugal was considered a great triumph. The Wellesley party also seemed destroyed, and Wellesley Pole soon joined the Cabinet as Master of the Mint. Castlereagh might prepare then to go to the Congress with the Government apparently in a secure position at home, though it was to be proved that without his aid it could scarcely survive a short session of Parliament.
1 "From Rose, July 20, 1814": F.O. Bavaria, 40. Metternich passed through Munich on his way home and was very nice to him but told him nothing: Fournier, Die Geheimpolizei, 96. Wilson saw Alexander at Bruchsal on his way back: Wilson MSS. 30120, f. 29. "From Lord Walpole, Aug. 9, 1814": C.C. x.83. "To Clancarty, Aug. 14, 1814": C.C. x.85.
In August he began to prepare seriously for the task. It was Prussia whom he was most anxious to keep in the right faith, for the subservience of her King to the Tsar had been most noticeable in London. On August 8 he wrote Hardenberg a long letter, calling his attention to the organisation of a Polish army in Poland and the concentration of Russian troops in the north of Germany. Hardenberg's reply shewed almost as much jealousy of Austria as of Russia, though he and Metternich were in constant communication over the German constitution. At the same time Castlereagh put in a good word for Talleyrand, who was impressed with the same danger and whose general conduct was most satisfactory. Hardenberg sent a long answer which revealed a very different outlook. He admitted Russia needed watching, but shewed far more jealousy of Bavaria for her claim to Mainz, and even of Austria, who, he said, was aiming at frontier rectifications at the expense of Saxony. The remedy he urged was to give all Saxony to Prussia, to confine the left bank of the Rhine to Prussia and Austria, and to induce the Netherlands to enter a strong German Confederation as the "Burgundian Circle"--this last idea being one to which Castlereagh was strongly opposed.
With Metternich himself Castlereagh seems to have had no direct contact during this time, and Merveldt was totally inadequate to act as a link. After a long conversation with Czartoryski on Poland, he went to Castlereagh to recount it, and talked of war with Russia in the most nonchalant fashion. Castlereagh snubbed him unmercifully, and hinted that Austria was the least ready for war of all the Great Powers. He continued to insist that the right way to treat the Polish question was to propose the re-establishment of Poland as an independent state, which would rally the Poles and, above all, public opinion in England to their side, and thus prepare the way for driving back Russia to the Vistula. Merveldt was, however, quite incapable of appreciating this point, and merited the censure which Metternich sent him later. He could, however, plume himself that the Prince Regent distinguished him above all the other Ambassadors. 1
1 "To Hardenberg, Aug. 8, 1814"; "from Hardenberg, Aug. 27, 1814": F.O. Continent Archives, 20. "Merveldt to Metternich, Aug. 2, 12, 15";
There was still Talleyrand, who had remained completely isolated during the discussions at London. He was much disturbed at the news of the postponement of the Congress and the preliminary meeting of the Four Powers at Vienna. According to Sir Charles Stuart, who was temporarily at Paris until Wellington arrived, the visit of Metternich on his way back to Vienna only increased these fears, for Metternich had shewn an open jealousy of the supposed desire of France to support Alexander. Castlereagh immediately sent his excuses for not having informed Talleyrand officially of the London decisions, and explained the motives which had led to them.
It was natural, therefore, that Talleyrand, who was already preparing his famous instructions for the Congress, which he hoped would bring back France to a position of equality and influence in Europe, should see in Britain his best chance to break his way into the circle of the Four and obtain some insight into their plans. At the end of July he approached Sir Charles Stuart with proposals of co-operation in the coming Congress, urging France's views on Italy but especially stressing Louis' desire to support any wishes the Prince Regent might have for Hanover. At the same time the Duc de Berri was sent to London by the King to ascertain how the land lay. These overtures, which Stuart encouraged, continued at frequent intervals, based on the theme that Britain and France had a common interest and duty in the approaching discussions, in which both might be considered impartial arbitrators.
Castlereagh, for his part, was anxious to know Talleyrand's views on Poland and Naples, and to make sure that he was not being drawn into a Russian combination. He had, of course, to take the greatest care that neither the other Ministers of the Four nor Talleyrand himself should get the impression that he was breaking away from his old connections. The secret clause of the Treaty of Paris still governed the situation. Nevertheless, Wellington, who was consulted, warmly advocated a meeting, though he shewed his usual prescience and breadth of view when he pointed out: "The situation of
Metternich to Merveldt, Nov. 4, 1814. Merveldt had continued to talk in a similar strain to Liverpool after Castlereagh's departure: Vienna St. A.
affairs will naturally constitute England and France as arbitrators at the Congress, if those Powers understand each other, and such an understanding may preserve the general peace. But I think your object would be defeated and England would lose her high character and station if the line of [ Prince Talleyrand] is adopted, which appears to me tantamount to the declaration by the two Powers that they will be arbitrators of all the differences which may arise. We must not forget that only a few months ago it was wished to exclude the interference and influence of France from the Congress entirely."
With this caution Castlereagh thoroughly agreed, but an interview was an obvious necessity if he was not to run the risk of driving Talleyrand to take his confidences elsewhere. Accordingly, he was quite ready to accept the invitation which Talleyrand sent him to visit Paris on his way to Vienna. 1
He left for the Continent on August 16 with the expectation of a two months' stay (so he told the Bavarian Minister), visited Brussels, was much impressed by Antwerp, and made more determined than ever that France must never possess it, and went to Ghent to confer with the British Commissioners on the negotiation for peace with America. Then, leaving his wife and the rest of his party to proceed direct to Dijon, he made a hasty visit to Paris. There in interviews with the King and Talleyrand he discussed all the points of European policy. It was merely an exchange of views, but one so satisfactory that Talleyrand now professed no jealousy of the preliminary meeting of the Ministers of the Four at Vienna, and even gave Castlereagh authority to support his own arguments by quoting Talleyrand's views if he thought it desirable. Indeed, so great was the desire on the part of the King and his Minister to establish a close connection with Britain that Castlereagh found it necessary "rather to repress the exuberance of this sentiment and to prevent its assuming a shape which by exciting jealousy in other states might impair our respective means of being really useful." Münster, who also passed
1 "To Stuart, July 16, 1814": F.O. France, 96; Aug. 13, 1814: W.S.D. ix. 185-86. From "Stuart, July 4, 28, Aug. 18, 22, 1814": F.O. France, 97, 98; Aug. 1, 8, 9, 1814: W.S.D. ix. 180 ff. "From Wellington, Aug. 18, 1814": Gurwood, xii. 81.
through Paris shortly afterwards, was able to testify to the deep impression which the visit had made. It is a tribute to the tact and foresight of both Talleyrand and Castlereagh that each at once saw how far they could go together without hindering their common interests. 1
1 "Pfeffel to the King of Bavaria, Aug. 16, 1814": Munich St. A. Münster to the Prince Regent, Sept. 2, 1814: Dupuis, Ministère de Talleyrand on 1814, ii. 285. To Liverpool, Sept. 3, 1814: B.D.191. Castlereagh told Pfeffel that he would have preferred the Congress "in a spot where business would be less liable to be interrupted by pleasure," but he counted on being home by Christmas. To Metternich, Aug. 22, 1814: (from Brussels) ". . . I propose separating from Lady C. here and making an excursion for 48 hours to Paris to see how the land lays there . . . everything here goes well. The Prince gains ground daily and is highly sensible of the loyalty with which General Vincent prepared the way for his reception. I conclude Aberdeen has apprised you of his change of plans. I don't know whether there is any truth in the newspaper report of his being its love. . . ." Vienna St. A.
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