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be both. Bentham revolutionised English jurisprudence from his study. Peel revolutionised English finance in the House of Commons. The Radicals who were patronised and admonished by Father Place' produced no consequences, and have left no mark. They have been succeeded by what Mr. Chamberlain would call a more judicious
blend.' Since their day there have been two distinguished examples of philosophy in Radical politics. Mr. Mill and Mr. Morley have both combined the theory with the practice of government. For Mr. Mill, though he never sat in the Cabinet, was during many years engaged in the administration of British India. Mr. Morley's conspicuous success in Ireland is a proof that the failure of the philosophical Radicals was not due to their speculative tastes, but to their political deficiencies.
WHEN EUROPE WAS ON THE BRINK OF
THE SEVEN YEARS' WAR (1754-56)
This book is the outcome of a very careful examination by M. Richard Waddington of all the correspondence, official and private, between kings, ministers, and diplomatists in the archives of the Foreign Offices at Paris, London, and Vienna, and of the Newcastle Papers in the British Museum, regarding the intricate negotiations that preceded the Seven Years' War. The author's object, as signified by the book's title, is to explain clearly how it came to in the years 1755–56 the old political system of European alliances was abruptly reversed or upset; that the Great Powers changed sides, cancelled existing treaties with their former friends, made new treaties with their former enemies, and entered into a long and bloody war, which left France on the road to ruin, without any substantial gain to any of the other combatants except England. For England the result of the Seven Years' War was the expulsion of the French from North America and from India, the demolition of the French navy, an immense increase of her own sea-power, and a great expansion of her trade and her dominion. M. Waddington believes that the accepted version of the causes and circumstances which brought this signal catastrophe upon France has placed Frederic of Prussia too high and Madame de Pompadour too low-justifying everything that he did, and exaggerating her share, great as it was, in the blunders of the French monarchy.
By 1755 it had become plain to England that hostilities with France over the American colonies were inevitable; and indeed they had already begun. Although the two nations were officially at peace, Admiral Boscawen had attacked, in June, a French squadron that was conveying reinforcements to Canada, and Sir Edward Hawke was seizing every French merchant-ship that he could sight between Ushant and Cape Finisterre. In America Braddock's force had been routed by the French and their friendly Indians. The English had been so eager to begin that they dispensed with a declaration of war; but
I Louis XV le Renversement des Alliances (Pré inaires de la guerre de Sept Ans, 1754-56). Par Richard Waddington, Sénateur de la Seine-Inférieure, 1896.
while the people wanted a maritime and colonial war for the sake of their trade and their lands beyond sea, the king (George the Second) was chiefly anxious about the protection of Hanover, a much more complicated problem. The king's object, upon which he and his ministers exercised all their diplomacy, was to keep Germany quiet, if possible, while England and France should be fighting out their duel on and beyond the blue water; or at any rate to save Hanover from invasion. But how was this to be accomplished ? The traditional enemy of France was Austria, by whose side we had fought the French kings in the first two great wars of the eighteenth century; and between Austria and Prussia there was a latent but deadly feud over the recent annexation of Silesia by Frederic of Prussia. On the other hand, Prussia was at the time allied with France, and nothing could be easier than for these two Powers to invade Hanover, which lay in a manner between them. Such a project had been actually discussed between Frederic and the French ministers. The King, whose turn of mind was prompt and practical, advised the French to lose no time in occupying Hanover, to be held until the English should let go Canada, which, he said, they were obviously intending to seize. Whereupon the French Government suggested that Frederic might himself take Hanover; but he was not th man to pull chestnuts out of the fire for other folk, or to give Austria her opportunity by breaking the peace in Germany. Meanwhile the English applied first for aid to Austria, their ancient ally; but Maria Theresa was bent upon attacking Frederic, and the sure result, to England, of quarrelling with him would be to place Hanover in great peril ; so no bargain could be made with the Empress-Queen. They next turned to Elizabeth of Russia, who detested Frederic almost as heartily as Maria Theresa did, and with her they negotiated a treaty to the effect that any Power attacking Hanover should be treated as the common enemy' of both. The news of this treaty seriously startled Frederic, who saw at once that it was aimed at Prussia, and found himself in an awkward situation. The French king, his only ally, was incapable and indolent; the French ministry vacillated ; their fleet was evidently no match for the English at sea; he foresaw the danger of being left isolated in Europe, with two powerful and vindictive empresses, the mistresses of great armies, threatening bis frontier on either side. So when the English made conciliatory overtures to him he replied with official expressions of consideration and esteem for his uncle, George the Second, whom he heartily despised ; and the billet confidentiel to his envoy in London, which accompanied his public despatch, is worth quoting.
Il faut voir à quoi cela mènera, et si messieurs les Anglais n'ont pas envie de se moquer de moi. N'est-ce pas bien singulier que ces gens demandent que j'épouse leurs intérêts, lorsque actuellement j'ai deux gros démêlés avec eux qui ne sont pas vides ? On dirait que toute la terre, aux dépens de l'intérêt propre dun chacun, est obligée d'entreprendre la défense de ce fichu pays.
Nevertheless in January 1856 Prussia and England made a convention affirming their joint resolution to maintain peace in Germany, to oppose the entry or passage of foreign armies, and to guarantee each other's possession. The English had now got one treaty with Russia that held Frederic in check, and had used it to make another with Frederic that held the French in check; whereby it might appear that Hanover was tolerably safe. But England's double dealing enraged the Russian Empress, who saw that the common enemy' was escaping her; and Frederic's double dealing angered the French, who protested against the absurdity of his becoming simultaneously the ally of France and England at a moment when these two nations were on the brink of war. Naturally the Russian Empress threw over England and joined Austria in a plan to attack and dismember Prussia ; while Louis the Fifteenth and his ministers, finding themselves in danger of being left alone in Europe, crossed over also to the Austrian camp, and made a treaty whereby France and Austria mutually agreed to repel aggression upon each other's territories.
This was a fatal blunder on the part of France, for defensive compacts are useless when one of the two contracting parties intends war, because war can be always provoked. Austria and Russia at once began to muster their armies on the Prussian frontier, and Frederic determined to anticipate them. When Mitchell, the English envoy at his court, tried to deter him from plunging into hostilities by his sudden invasion of Saxony, the king glared at him wrathfully, and said : Qu'est-ce que vous voyez, Monsieur, dans ma figure? Croyez-vous que mon nez est fait pour recevoir des claques ? Pardieu, je ne le souffrirai pas.' The invasion of Saxony was a clear case of aggression. The two empresses set upon Frederic, forcing France to take the field with them; and thus the Seven Years' War opened with a formidable coalition of Russia, Austria, and France against Prussia ; England, although Prussia's ally, being at first formally at war with France only.
M. Waddington's book follows all the twisting intricate underplay of these entangled transactions, and so gives a dramatic representation of the political world at that time. Diplomacy was a game of intrigue and finesse carried on without scruple as to methods; the stakes were too high for moral hesitations; it was the art of weaving nets to catch the unwary; it was the veil which screened the movement of armies behind scenes, the prelude to their sudden appearance. The correspondence of foreign embassies was opened and read as a matter of course in every State's post office; the clerks of the Chancelleries were often in the pay of the government to which the embassy was attached; the ambassadors could not even trust their own secretaries; the governments did not always trust their own ambassadors; the French king kept a secret agency of his own who thwarted and undermined the regular French embassies. Frederic of Prussia was the most skilful and successful purloiner of information ; but copies of all his own letters to his envoy in London were obtained by the English government, and are still to be seen at our Record Office; and in the ‘Archives des Affaires étrangères’ at Paris are preserved his most secret instructions to his minister there, which were duly laid before Louis the Fifteenth and Madame de Pompadour, who sometimes read more than she liked about herself. The secretary to the Austrian legation at Berlin had been enlisted into the secret service of the Prussian king. One morning he disappeared altogether; the Prussian police searched everywhere for him with the most obliging activity ; yet no trace of him could be discovered, until finally it transpired that he was in hiding not far off, under their particular protection. And every one has read how it was upon reading the confidential reports from the Saxon minister at Vienna to his government, which were obtained by bribing a clerk in the Dresden Foreign Office, that Frederic determined to strike the first blow in the Seven Years' War by making a rush upon the capital of Saxony. One may perhaps suggest, parenthetically, some doubt whether the modern system of including all this stolen correspondence among the historical documents open to public inspection at the various record offices is altogether prudent or wholesome. Diplomatic letters are still carefully sorted in continental post-offices; and the Dreyfus case shows that other means are still used for access to bureaux; but when such papers are no longer wanted, it might be more decent to destroy them, or the various States might agree to a general restitution of them, by exchange, to their lawful owners. Upon the existing system we may look for the publication of the evidence against Dreyfus about the middle of the twentieth century.
Taking M. Waddington's work as a whole, we have to thank him for a vivid and edifying picture of the manners and methods of statesmen in the last century, and for the able handling of a mass of records which, while they confirm our previous knowledge of leading events and their causes, bring out also some points not generally known or observed. Much of the secret diplomatic history of this period may be extracted from Carlyle’s Life of Frederic; but his grotesque though vigorous style is fatiguing when one is merely trying to get at the facts; and he stops so often to make humorous grimaces at his fools or knaves that the quiet reader may be excused a little impatience. His narrative, moreover, is not so complete and exhaustive as M. Waddington's; and it is now fairly certain that Maria Theresa did not write to Madame de Pompadour the letter beginning “Ma Cousine,' to which Carlyle, in his grim jocular way, attaches much political importance. The Austrian Court, however, did take special pains about showing deferential civility to the king's mistress, who only got a snub from Frederic in return for the message of flattering cajolery that she sent him through Voltaire.