Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

46

REMINISCENCES OF MEN AND THINGS.

[MAY, nevertheless, found time to attend to the de- ed to the ambition of the greater German tails of each measure. It was he who drew powers. The document in which these views up the admirable instructions to the Statisti- and opinions are given to the Prince de Metcal Commission formed to collect together, ternich is one of the ablest state documents for the information of the congress, all par- ever drawn up by any plenipotentiaries of ticulars relative to the territories conquer- any government. ed by Napoleon and his allies. Without such information, it was clear that the various demands, reclamations, and even positions of those states, could not be understood. That commission did well its work; but to the subject of these Reminiscences were they indebted for their plans and system.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The ever-memorable treaties of the 25th March, 1815, which were signed between Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia, were in a great measure the work of the Prince de Metternich. Never were treaties prepared with greater diplomatic skill, or with a more enlightened and philosophical atOne of the first measures which came under tention to the permanent interests of the the consideration of the high plenipotentiaries whole of Europe. They will bear the closof the eight powers, parties to the treaty of est investigation, and in proportion as they Paris, was one of universal importance and phi- are studied will they be found to contain the lanthropy. It was in January, 1815, that that most enlarged, noble, and powerful views. question of the abolition of negro-slavery and The treaty between Great Britain and Prusthe annihilation of the slave-trade was brought sia now lies before me, and I find appended under the consideration of the congress of to it the honored signatures of "HardenVienna. And how did the Prince de Met- berg," Humboldt," and Wellington." ternich conduet himself during that memora- Those are names which will be immortal in ble debate? Did he oppose the cause of the page of history when their detractors emancipation? Did he sanction the long-ex- shall be unknown. isting traffic in human flesh? No. He proclaimed, in language worthy of the Christian representative of a great Christian state, that his voice was for the cause of humanity, justice, and real civilization. His was no mere adherence to the cause of philanthropy and mercy, but he pleaded with eloquence and authority for the abolition of the horrible traffic in negro life and blood. Yet this is the man whom it has been the habit of democracy during forty years to represent as an enemy, to freedom and to the human race!

and which had not obtained, approval. Indeed, in his a president of the congress, for he

every point under discus ca or general, came before ach he gave his best and most tion. So streng, also, was the

[ocr errors]

as to his love of truth and avien all other attempts are Baded, those who thought they mags which ought to be rethey had rights which were are and were likely to be lost, tew up their notes, protests, rward them to him. A.. ed with attentive interest. tact of the Prince de Metare be too highly extolled. On rsions in his life has he given aat on none more remarkably 4 g tiations with the p'onipoPier German states. Ou 1915, those sittings began, Here interested in the important mener led have since admitFondoting were the interests, ses, and violent the passions. that time, that but for the t franess of the Prince de R Cet a consummate tact, there interminable and even subThe first point he inthe alliances formed by the Timers sauld be adhered to, and Gesion should be given without 67 cnnecessary delay —

When the treaties between the great powers had been signed, the Prince de Metternich felt that the time had arrived to convoke the representatives of the secondary German states, in order that they might givetheir adhesion to the principle of those treaties, and consent to abide by them, at the same time that they should be invited to offer their opinions relative to the future constitution of the proposed Germanic confederation. Accordingly, on the 31st March, the ministers and plenipotentiaries of the German princes and of the free towns and cities assembled. At length, then, the wishes of the princes of Germany were gratified; but the Prince de Metternich required that the five members of the German constitution committee should form part of the general committee of plenipotentiaries then to be named.

In February, 1815, the representatives of the thirty-four lesser German states became most importunate. They had taken no part in the proceedings of the German constitution committee, and they apprehended that the Germanic confederation would be formed without their consent. They accordingly re-addressed the Prince de Metternich, who The ably concerted plan adopted by the assured them that all that had been done by four great powers, first to conclude general the committee was merely preliminary, and treaties between each other, and then to rethat when the whole of their labors should be quire all smaller states and powers to adhere completed, the representatives of the various to their provisions, was, I believe, originally states of Germany would be duly convoked. suggested by the Prince de Metternich. The Prussian government had in the mean- This plan was wholly novel, was calculated time been occupied in preparing two pro- to save a great loss of time, and prevented jects; the one, taking it for granted that the heart-burnings, jealousies, rivalry, and disconfederation would be divided into circles, content. If each of the smaller states of Gerand the others, under the supposition that it many and of Europe had been simply consultwould not so be divided. Prussia was in fa-ed prior to the great and general treaties vor of the division into circles, and yet Prus- being framed and signed, years must have sia protested her desire to see the smaller been consumed simply in the consideration states of Germany maintain their independ- of their objections. ence, and not be exposed to become sacrific

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

to..

ace be acceded to." said the yer must pledge mself to guarAnta coctingent forces must be. Micerensons & ust be signed cent of the guaran-1 "aint base of those coLLibCent es wil axembe; one of en the orders of the Prince : the second on the Middle i' tes of the Prince of Bluthe Lower Rhine, under

At length was presented the project of a

se Duke of Wellington.”
the most magnificent and

ed in a few words and re-
vietas of writing.

pact of confederation of the sovereign princes and of the free towns and cities of Germany. It was laid before the congress by the plenipotentiaries of Prussia in the month of April, 1815. But although the Prussian plenipotentiaries were the organs of the constitution committee, the Prince de Metternich was by no means foreign to the preparation of that document. Nothing escaped his notice, nothing was submitted which had not been laid before him, and which had not obtained, at least, his general approval. Indeed, in his capacity as president of the congress, for he was nothing less, every point under discussion, either special or general, came before him, and to each he gave his best and most valuable attention. So strong, also, was the general feeling as to his love of truth and justice, that when all other attempts and measures had failed, those who thought they had suffered wrongs which ought to be redressed, or that they had rights which were kept in abeyance and were likely to be lost, were sure to draw up their notes, protests, or memoirs, and forward them to him. All of these he examined with attentive interest. The matchless tact of the Prince de Metternich can never be too highly extolled. On very many occasions in his life has he given proof of this; but on none more remarkably so, than in his negotiations with the plenipotentiaries of the smaller German states. On the 12th April, 1815, those sittings began, and all who were interested in the important debates to which they led have since admitted that so conflicting were the interests, strong the jealousies, and violent the passions, of all parties at that time, that but for the moderation and firmness of the Prince de Metternich, and his consummate tact, there would have been interminable and even subversive discussions. The first point he insisted on was that the alliances formed by the four great powers should be adhered to, and that this adhesion should be given without long debates or unnecessary delay

From day to day the plenipotentiaries met. Prince de Metternich admitted of no delay. In vain did some attempt to defeat his plan by protests, memoirs, and notes. The project of the treaty of alliance and of accession with the princes and free cities and towns of Germany was another of the important labors of this extraordinary man, whose eyes, thoughts, mind, seemed to possess the attribute of ubiquity.

And now the name of Buonaparte once more resounded in the ears of Europe. The war against the man who had forfeited his word, broken all his engagements, and escaped from Elba, called into the field the most ardent spirits of all ranks, ages, and classes, and Europe armed against the despot and the usurper.

In all the arrangements necessary to be made for that purpose, Austria and the Prince de Metternich decidedly took the lead, and Europe owes to that distinguished man, simply for his talent, skill, judgment, foresight, and energy in this matter, a debt of gratitude she will be unable to repay.

The separate articles agreed on between Great Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia, on the 25th April, 1815, upon the exchange and ratification of the treaty of the 25th March of the same year, were also partly the work of the subject of this memoir; as was also the treaty of accession of the 27th April between the four great powers just mentioned on the one part, and the princes of states and free towns and cities of Germany on the other part.

The complaints of some petty princes that their rights were not respected, their privileges conceded, and their independence assured, became, towards the close of these negotiations, very numerous and loud. The Prince de Metternich examined and considered them; but as he was from principle opposed to the multiplication of power, to the establishment of new governments, and to the resuscitation of governments which had long since ceased to exist, he supplied The treaties must be acceded to,” said the no favorable answer to the various claimants. prince; each power must pledge itself to guarantee their execution, contingent forces must be The projected constitution for the Gerfixed on to secure the fulfilment of the guaran-manic confederation was during the whole tee, and special conventions must be signed to of this time the subject of discussion and conprovide for the maintenance of those contingent sideration, and on the 1st May, 1815, the troops. Three armies will assemble; one on the Upper Rhine, under the orders of the Prince de Schwarzenberg; the second on the Middle Rhine, under the orders of the Prince of Blucher; and the third on the Lower Rhine, under the command of the Duke of Wellington."

Here was a plan the most magnificent and yet minute, explained in a few words and reduced to a few lines of writing.

Prussian plenipotentiaries submitted to the Prince de Metternich a new project, revised and corrected. The prince at once undertook the task of examining this document, and in the course of the month presented a proposed basis for a future constitution.

The treaty of Paris of the 18th May, 1815, and the events which rendered it necessary, for some time occupied the mind of the

48

REMINISCENCES OF MEN AND THINGS.

he Bat was not this tanta

that Prussia might have ber Feast, as Austria was co 2d she would be obstinate it dochtedy it was this t Prassian plenipotentiari

the voice of Eng and w 4 generous and use 1st rested and powerf-t t of Berlin welded, and f

se. Ah' to how m. Ms weariness, and suspe 20% of the bordares of P 1st was with the diss

of the kingdom of Say

Milk czeston gave, however, ad annety to the Pr that to which I hat frst place, the Aust bra long period of t:

[MAY, prince; but he did not lose sight of the divid- | plenipotentiaries for the purpose of avoiding ed condition of the "Fatherland," nor was an act so really felonious; and the Prince de he so engrossed by the mighty facts then Metternich was at once so anxious to pretranspiring as to be indifferent to the ques-serve peace, and yet so resolved not to be tion of the Germanic confederation. The any party to an act of spoliation, that the line preparation of the separate treaties to be of conduct he had to pursue was very difficult. signed by all the lesser powers of Europe Prussia remained for a long time firm in with the four greater, also steadily proceeded; her determination not to yield on this point and on the 23rd May, 1815, the conferences to the court of Austria, and she represented again commenced at Vienna relative to the that the faith of treaties required that she establishment of the Germanic confederation. should have as large a territory as was necesThese conferences were continued from day sary to defend herself against Austrian or to day, and the observations and objections other aggressors. The Prince de Metterof every prince and free town or city were nich met these statements by statistical heard and examined. On the 8th June, tables; had accounts of the population of 1815, the memorable act by which the fede- each province and district collected and arral constitution of Germany was assured was ranged, and demonstrated by figures that her duly signed, and the act of the congress of population was greater in point of numbers Vienna for settling the whole of Europe and than it ever had been, besides being made establishing it on a permanent basis of order, up of flourishing and most productive counjustice, and liberty, as well as of hereditary tries. To this mode of attack Prussia replied. right, bears date the following day. by similar statistical tables with regard to The representatives of the King of Wir- Austria, and showed that the court of Vienna temberg gave much, but fruitless trouble to had, at any rate, nothing to complain of with the Prince de Metternich, during the whole regard to the arrangements which had been progress of the negotiations relative to the made in her favor, and which vastly increased future states of the confederation, the consti- the population of the Austrian dominions. tution of that confederation, and to various The Prince de Metternich then suggested a other questions of importance. The con- scheme by which the King of Saxony might duct of the government and court of Wir-preserve a portion of his dominions, the rest temberg the prince did not approve, and he being given to Prussia. This was one of took occasion several times to make them the least able moves of which the prince was feel that they were evidently not sufficiently ever guilty; and it drew down upon him not aware of the numerous advantages secured only the retort of Prussia "that, as the printo Wirtemberg by the treaties to which they ciple of not depriving the King of Saxony of were the last to adhere. It was not, how- any part of his dominions was now abanever, until the period for adhesion had ex-doned, it was better that he should have a pired that the plenipotentiaries of Wirtem-powerful kingdom assigned to him in Italy, berg yielded; but at last they did so with a than one of inadequate dimensions in Gervery bad grace, and Metternich was victori- many;" whilst Viscount Castlereagh, the

ous.

d, much easies sement of Russ * better grounded t! In the next p mich was of opin.. ndependent k

[ocr errors]

122 de government of Rutland materially to t Europe. T bed by the British ancient prot of Peand. T I am convitice 1c !peitiessvv་

* LI ATA on Cencidunt te t

Prince de Talleyrand, and the Emperor Alex-
ander, alike fell upon this scheme with all
their nerve and talent wholly to destroy it.
The correspondence which took place on
this subject was most admirable.
The
Prince de Talleyrand was never more logical,
powerful, and unanswerable than in this ques-
tion, which he treated at the same time with
the playfulness of a wit, all the attitude and
manoeuvring of an actor, all the skill of a
diplomatist, and yet all the high and lofty
notions of a real statesman.

[ocr errors]

One of the most interesting but difficult questions which for a long time occupied the mind of the prince related to the boundaries which should be assigned to Prussia, especially with regard to the long-proposed overthrow of the kingdom of Saxony. The prince, far from desiring to circumscribe the limits of Prussia, ardently wished for the creation of a powerful and influential kingdom. Not only did he assert the necessity of this for the sake of Prussia and her monarch, but likewise with regard to the bal- The Prince de Metternich rallied all his ance of power in Europe. But to him it ap- energies, and did his very best to destroy or peared, as well as it did to his august master, diminish the impression which his decoythat no act of injustice could be more scandal- duck system had made on Europe. But in ous, after all the spoliations and sacrifices vain. He attempted to show that it was only the King of Saxony had endured and made, in the event of not being able to settle the than to deprive him of his lawful dominions. matter in any other way that then, and then Plan after plan was drawn up at the Austrian only, it was that he would agree to the dochancellerie and submitted to the Prussian minions of the King of Saxony being partly

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

given to Prussia. But was not this tanta- | a compromise between the Great Powers. mount to saying that Prussia might have her The fact was, that the position of France was own way, as far, at least, as Austria was con- equivocal, her voice could not be heard with cerned, provided she would be obstinately distinctness, England was too far removed resolute? And undoubtedly it was this that from the spot to have direct influence, and emboldened the Prussian plenipotentiaries. the smaller states of Germany had been kept It was not until the voice of England was in the back-ground. heard-England, generous and unselfishEngland, disinterested and powerful-that the government of Berlin yielded, and finished by a compromise. Ah! to how much of heart-burnings, weariness, and suspicion, did this question of the boundaries of Prussia, connected as it was with the dissolution or the integrity of the kingdom of Saxony, give rise.

When the Emperor of Russia addressed the Polish army, he congratulated it that in future it would have its own colors, fight under its own officers, enjoy its own drapeau, and be no longer the army of a foreign power. That all this at the time it was written was believed and intended, I have no reason to doubt, and Prince Constantine himself was not the less sincere when he declared that he should govern the Poles according to their rights, laws, and customs. I shall not prosecute the subject further. The readers of REGINA are not ignorant of the true state of Poland now. The Prince de Metternich was influenced in his final decisions by the love of Austria for territorial aggrandisement. The jealousy felt by Austria of Russian power and extension of possessions was no secret at the court or in the camp of the Emperor Alexander, and the arrangements at last concluded satisfied neither England nor France. But Russia pacified England by promises of a national Polish constitution, and France was wholly unable to go to war. So Poland was sacrificed.

The Polish question gave, however, even more trouble and anxiety to the Prince de Metternich than that to which I have just alluded. In the first place, the Austrian government had for a long period of time felt, and even expressed, much uneasiness at the territorial aggrandisement of Russia; and never were fears better grounded than on the present occasion. In the next place, the Prince de Metternich was of opinion that the constitution of an independent kingdom of Poland, under the government of a Prussian prince, would tend materially to preserve the balance of power in Europe. This opinion was likewise held by the British plenipotentiary, and France, when consulted, made a strong and most eloquent protest in favor of The conduct of Lord Castlereagh during the nationality of Poland. The Emperor the whole of these transactions was entitled Alexander was, I am convinced, sincerely to the highest praise. His diplomatic notes desirous for the happiness of the Poles, but he had also fixed his eyes on the duchy of Warsaw, and he could not be tempted or persuaded to relinquish it. On whatever other points he yielded, he would not do so on this, and the "partition of Poland" was the result. It is really a very curious and instructive task to reperuse, as I have done, all the documents and state papers with regard to this question of Poland. The language of Great Britain was protective, magnanimous, grand. With regard to the question of Saxony, The tone of France was enthusiastic. The Lord Castlereagh felt very strongly as to the Prince de Metternich was calm and dignified, conduct of his Majesty. Upon one occasion but most certainly favorable, on all occa- he said that although he should experience sions, to Polish nationality. Yet that very some pain in beholding so ancient a family nationality perished, and Poland now only reduced by the measure of the incorporaexists in name. The reality is destroyed. tion of Saxony with Prussia to a state of proYet the proclamations of the Emperor Alex-found affliction and sorrow, yet, that if ever ander, his address to the army, his letter to a sovereign placed himself in a condition the president of the diet, his despatches and which authorized the sacrifice of his interests those of his ministers, were all positive and for the sake of the future tranquillity of EuI have no doubt sincere, with respect to the Poles preserving their nationality, and being protected by a constitution. The negotiations relative to Poland terminated as did those concerning the kingdom of Saxony, by MAY, 1844. 4

were those which invariably excited the deepest attention, and commanded the highest respect. They were not only manly and eloquent, but argumentative and unanswerable; and it was almost exclusively owing to the support which his lordship gave by his notes to the views of the Prince de Metternich relative to the duchy of Warsaw, that any portions of the duchy were detached from the future territories of Russia.

rope, that king was the King of Saxony, who, by his perpetual tergiversations, and by being not only one of the most devoted, but also one of the most favored of the vassals of Buonaparte, contributed with all his power, and

also with much zeal, in his double quality of mountable obstacle to the arrangement of the chief of the German and chief of the Polish federation act, that we condemn the entire incorstates, to urge on the usurper in his course poration of Saxony with Prussia, and not at all of invasion, even his expedition into the very sia would be augmented. The incorporation of on the ground that by it the dominions of Prusheart of Russia. This declaration of Lord the whole of Saxony with Prussia is an obstacle Castlereagh produced a profound impression to our union, because the principles of the emon the mind of the Prince de Metternich, but peror, the closest family ties, and all our relathe latter still continued to struggle, and tionships of neighborhood and of frontiers are eventually with success, for the restoration opposed to the measure. It also presents anoof the kingdom of Saxony. To no man at ther obstacle not less difficult to surmount with the congress of Vienna did Prince de Metter-regard to the arrangement of the affairs of Germany, because the principal powers have denich ever defer with so much real respect clared that they would not join the federal act and profound admiration as he did to Lord it so menacing a basis to their own personal Castlereagh. For that eminent statesman security as states should be adopted, as would he invariably professed to the end of his days be the incorporation of the powerful German his sincerest homage; and when his lord-states, effected by one of the powers called on ship's tragic end was communicated to the to protect the common country." prince, he shed many and bitter tears. The conduct of Lord Castlereagh during the The court of Vienna was occupied with whole of the most important negotiations at two great points: the first was, to prevent, the congress, left an impression upon all by all means, and at all risks, the incorporaminds which was never obliterated. tion of the whole of the duchy of Warsaw The Prince de Metternich could not, how-into Russia; and the second was to prevent ever, agree with Lord Castlereagh with regard to the question of Saxony. Whilst his lordship thought it a matter of comparative indifference whether the kingdom of Saxony should be reconstructed, when compared to the vast importance of rendering Prussia a large, powerful, and independent kingdom, the Prince de Metternich thus wrote on the same subject:

"The reconstruction of the Prussian monarchy has appeared so necessary to the Emperor of Austria, that he adopted it as one of the bases of the triple alliance. Austria does not indulge any feeling of jealousy against Prussia. She regards this power, on the contrary, as one of the most useful weights in the balance of the forces of Europe. Of all the powers of Europe it is the one which has most in conformity with Austria. Placed like herself between the grand empires of the East and the West, Prussia and Austria complete their systems of respective defence. United, these two monarchies form an insurmountable barrier against the enterprises of any conqueror who may again, perhaps, some day occupy the throne of France or that of Russia. Both being German powers, they will find in their national connection a reciprocal influence in the German federation, which influence will be favorable to the cause of peace.

the incorporation of the whole of Saxony into Prussia. The plan of Austria was successful-but thanks to whom? most assuredly to none other than the Prince de Metternich.

The admission of the Prince de Talleyrand as a member of the Polish and Saxon Committee of the Congress, was due to the reiterated declarations of Lord Castlereagh and the Prince de Metternich, that such a measure was only just and wise. It was then that the Emperor of Russia proposed, 1st. To deliver to Austria half of the property of the celebrated salt springs and works of Wieliska, as well as the district of Tarnapol, &c. 2d. To deliver up a portion of the duchy of Warsaw to the court of Berlin. 3d. To render the cities of Cracow and of Thorn free. And, 4th. That the rest of the duchy of Warsaw should devolve to the crown of Russia as an united state, to which the sovereign of the empire reserved himself the right of giving a national constitution, such as he should judge suitable.

The Emperor of Russia interceded with the Emperor of Austria and with the King of Prussia, in the 8th article of this memorable project, in behalf of their Polish subjects, "Every thing ought then to tend to unite for the purpose of obtaining for them provinthese courts; and most afflicting would it be to cial institutions, which should be of a nature see those powers which are most directly called to respect their nationality, and which would on to cement the peace of Europe, engaged in give them some part in the administration of vain and injurious discussions. Germany should the country. How singular are these facts! constitute herself a political corps, the frontier The Emperor of Russia promised a constitubetween the great powers ought not to remain tion to Poland, pleaded with Prussia and with undecided; in one word, the union of Austria and of Prussia ought to be perfect in order that Austria for large and liberal provincial instithe great work may be consummated. It is a tutions for the Poles who were subjects of measure calculated to prevent this union or to those powers; and did not even propose to delay its accomplishment, as well as an insur-hold Poland other than as an independent

« AnteriorContinuar »