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Title: The Diplomatists of Europe

Author: M. Capefigue

Editor: William Monteith

Release date: December 17, 2016 [eBook #53748]

Language: English



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The sketches now offered to the reader have most of them been already published in parts, in magazines and reviews. I have been advised to collect them into one work, in order to make their tendency and their spirit better understood.

The end I proposed to myself at the time I wrote them, was to efface the prejudices which the decrepit schools of the Revolution, and of the Empire, had cast over the vast intellects who have had the direction of the government in various countries, or who still continue to guide the state. This end, I think, was partly gained by the four sketches of the career of Prince Metternich, Counts Pozzo di Borgo and Nesselrode, and the Duke of Wellington. I have considered it the more essential to complete this publication at present, because, for some years past, people appear only to take pleasure in extolling those[vi] who have been engaged in the work of destruction. The most illustrious public bodies take pleasure in listening to the praises of those who have ruined the old state of society, and no man is considered clever, learned, or virtuous, unless he has been at least half a regicide. As for me I request a little space for the politicians who create, preserve, or add to a state,—for the men whose works still endure, and survive all those who declaimed against them. I would give all the fame of the Radicals of 1791, of the year III., or the year VIII., for the smallest portion of the abilities of Cardinal Richelieu.

It was not at random that I selected the names of the statesmen of whom an account is here to be met with; they each represent an idea—a system—a policy. Prince Metternich is the creator of the theory of the balance of power and armed neutrality, which has obtained a very exalted rank for Austria among European powers; Prince Talleyrand brought back among us the temperate diplomacy of the Empire, of the first days of the Restoration, and of the Revolution of 1830; Count Pozzo di Borgo personifies the persevering tact of European policy and the Russian system since the year 1814; the chancellor, M. Pasquier, exhibits the administration[vii] of the latter part of the reign of Napoleon, and he was, also, the moderate minister of the Restoration; the Duke of Wellington is England under arms, and the active spirit of the Tories; the Duc de Richelieu is the symbol of probity in affairs, and of great unrequited services—he is the man who delivered his country from the dominion of a stranger, and yet with whose name the present generation is, perhaps, less acquainted than with that of any orator at the hustings; Prince Hardenberg represents Prussia at first holding a neutral course, then advancing with her poetical universities; Count Nesselrode has been Chancellor of Russia for the last thirty years; and, finally, I have raised to its proper exalted position the much-belied character of Lord Castlereagh, the faithful interpreter of the views of the Tory party, the worthy successor of Mr. Pitt, and who preserved England and added to her power. These sketches, therefore, by their account of the different ministers, form a vast history of the cabinets of Europe.

Many new details will be found in these portraits, and my admiration for intellectual and powerful minds has made me strive to perfect them. Being quite unconnected with the agitations of the present times, I have not mentioned[viii] in these pages any name mixed up with the dissensions of the press and the tribune. Some of the politicians of the present day were, however, the noble friends of the Duc de Richelieu, and others afforded him the aid of their talents and sagacity. May they continue their career, without becoming weary and discouraged in the difficult paths of Conservatism and order! May they persevere, in spite of the misery of holding office in changeful times! The heart of Pitt was often deeply pained while arranging his magnificent work, and England now pronounces him the prince of statesmen. Toil and trouble are the condition of man, and nothing strong or durable ever was created, without raising a clamour of opposition from beings of inferior intellects, violent tempers, and disappointed ambition.

June 1843.

Note.—The following pages being merely a translation, the Editor has found it necessary to abstain from any observations on the work of M. Capefigue, and from offering any remarks upon the sentiments of this able writer, even where he may materially differ with him.

June 1845.



The Austrian government, which is composed of old hereditary states and conquests of a later date, a sort of chequer-work of provincial privileges and immunities, may be said to be the creation of a statesman, who must be placed in a superior rank to all others.

It is not only under the aspect of a long and brilliant diplomatic career that we must regard the life of Prince Metternich, we must also look upon him as the head of the executive organisation, which includes so many various interests, and such a diversity of national characters and feelings, under the government of one sceptre.

Cast your eyes over the provinces which extend from the centre of Germany into Poland, from the extremity of Gallicia as far as Venice and Milan, from Zara on the Adriatic to Mantua, the key of Lake Garda and of the Tyrol, an assemblage of richer countries or more opulent cities cannot be met with. To Metternich belongs the honour of having already, for above thirty years, maintained his hold upon these various nations; he has realised the most difficult system of local administration and of a central government, great domestic liberty, with, at the same time, careful surveillance, an active police with very indulgent toleration, the most extensive[2] credit with the least oppressive taxation. One might compare the Austrian government to the father of a family, anxious and rather strict with his children; the elder ones are tractable, the younger sometimes unruly, over whom he keeps a tight rein, in order that it may as seldom as possible be necessary to have recourse to chastisement.[1]

Railways and industrial establishments are becoming numerous in Austria; her navy is increasing on the Adriatic, and is a means of circulating her flourishing manufactures. Metternich has thus caused the age of labour to succeed to that of war and conquest. The ancient constitution of Germany was destroyed at the peace of Presburg, during the time of the contemptible and fragile assembly of the Confederation of the Rhine. The house of Austria then renounced the old imperial crown; but a new existence has opened for it, and, after innumerable reverses under the Republic and Napoleon, it again reared its head with a new state of political life and of military power. Since the year 1813, Austria has been constantly called upon to play a great part in the affairs of Europe, and Metternich has succeeded in giving to her politics a character of perseverance, or, rather, of immutability, the result of an idea nobly conceived, and then worked out like a mission he felt intrusted to accomplish.

The political life of a statesman is bound up in the work he has undertaken. It is not my habit as a historian to adopt the narrow views inspired by party-spirit[3] or worn-out declamation: when a minister has achieved the greatness of an empire, resisted vassalage under Napoleon, and furnished the most extensive field for the page of history, I will not, from a weak patriotism, raise my voice against this master-mind. We may meet with enough men who destroy; we ought to feel respect for those capable of creating, and then maintaining their work.

Clement Wenceslaus, Count of Metternich-Winneburg-Ochsenhausen, was born at Coblentz, on the 13th of May, 1773, of a good German family, whose ancestors have served in former times against the Ottomans. I also find there were several officers of the name of Metternich in the company of Lanzknechts, in the time of the Reformation and of the League. His father, Count Metternich, a man of very moderate abilities, was greatly in the confidence of Prince Kaunitz, and his name is mentioned in all the business transacted concerning the Low Countries. Young Metternich received the names of Clement-Wenceslaus, after the Prince of Poland and Lithuania, Duke of Saxony, who stood godfather to him. At the age of fifteen he went to the university of Strasburg, at that time very celebrated, and the most frequented academy in Europe.

The philosophy of Voltaire, Helvetius, and Rousseau, was then in the ascendant—that empty sensualism which filled young heads with effervescing fancies. The university of Strasburg was under the direction of Koch, the celebrated lecturer upon international law; and, by a singular chance, another youth, whose name has since been well known, was also pursuing his studies at the same university; this was Benjamin Constant de Rebecque. Some degree of friendship sprung up between the students, and it is curious to observe what a different career was opened by the caprices of Fortune to the two[4] pupils of Professor Koch. Count Metternich concluded his philosophical studies in the year 1790; the rest of his education was completed in Germany. When he reached the age of twenty he visited England and Holland, and afterwards went to live at Vienna, where he married Maria Eleonora, of Kaunitz-Rietberg.

Metternich's first entry into the diplomatic corps was merely as a secretary at the Congress of Rahstadt,—a singular negotiation, which had a most tragical termination;[2] he afterwards accompanied Count Stadion in his missions to Prussia and to St. Petersburg, and was at the latter court at the time of the alliance between Russia and Austria, which fell to the ground in consequence of the rapidity of Napoleon's military investment of Ulm, and the revolt of Bavaria,—an admirable campaign, which at once placed the French emperor in the rank of the greatest military commanders.

Even at this early period it was the opinion of Metternich that the triple alliance between Russia, Prussia, and Germany, would not be too much to restrain the power of Napoleon; and a striking evidence of the importance of France and of her leader had just been afforded by the battle of Austerlitz. Count Metternich was called upon to take a part in all the treaties concluded at this time; and, up to this period, his opinions appeared to belong to the same school as those of Count Stadion, who was shortly afterwards appointed minister for foreign affairs. By him Metternich was proposed as ambassador to the court of Russia; but, the treaty of Presburg having completely altered the position of Austria in Europe, Francis II. preferred sending the young diplomatist to Napoleon; and, on the 15th of August,[5] 1806, the day of the solemn national anniversary, the ambassador presented his credentials, and first appeared before the favourite of fortune and glory.

The political system of which Count Metternich was the representative at Paris was very complicated. Since the first coalition against France, Austria had suffered the most severe reverses, having been twice deprived of the Milanese by Buonaparte, general and consul; then driven back on the banks of the Danube by Moreau, and having a second time entered the lists, after the alliance with Russia, this new coalition was dissolved by the battle of Austerlitz, and the Austrian cabinet was obliged to sign the treaty of Presburg,—a covenant submitted to through necessity alone, which broke up the old empire of Germany, and, in some measure, made an end of that of Austria.

It was the politics of this treaty, so fatal to the interests of the emperor, that Metternich was deputed to represent at Paris. The Confederation of the Rhine had overturned all the German system of affairs, which was as ancient as the Golden Bull. Wirtemberg and Bavaria, instead of being mere electorates, became kingdoms; when Bavaria received, at the expense of Austria, a territory of more than 12,000 square miles, a population of above 3,000,000 of souls, and a revenue of above 17,000,000 florins; and the aggrandisement of Wirtemberg, also prejudicial to Austria, though, no doubt, in a less degree, cost her about 150 square miles. Austria also lost the Venetian states, the Tyrol, the five cities of the Danube, Venetian Dalmatia, and the mouths of the Cattaro.

The act of the Confederation of the Rhine, which was the work of Talleyrand, Otto, and Reinhard, tore away the last remains of the old imperial mantle: and Francis II. was obliged to lay aside this ancient dignity, which[6] would have been, in time to come, nothing but an empty title. Napoleon's system was to invade every thing, and a treaty was to him but an opportunity of launching out into fresh conquests. He had planted his family in Germany by instituting the kingdom of Westphalia; and, by means of marriages, he connected himself with Wirtemberg and Bavaria: all the stipulations in the treaty of Presburg had been insisted upon with the most inflexible haughtiness.

After these terrible reverses, Metternich considered the best means of regaining a little influence in Europe was to keep on good terms with Napoleon, or rather to preserve a strict neutrality, which might allow Austria to trace out an advantageous line of conduct for herself, should any decisive circumstance occur, as it could hardly fail to do sooner or later. The diplomatic system of Metternich was consequently one of expectation and inquiry; his special mission was, to become intimately acquainted with the most trifling peculiarities of this new and singularly constructed court, and to discover the thoughts and even the caprices of the powerful Emperor of the French.

Fresh successes had just crowned the arms of Napoleon. After some unfortunate hesitation, Prussia had cast herself headlong into the Russian alliance; and, after her subsequent defeat at Jena, the peace of Tilsit had laid the foundation of a temporary truce, for treaties with Napoleon could only possess that transitory character. Metternich received orders from his court to endeavour, by means of a respectful deference, to conciliate the favour of the great sovereign. The almost magical influence which Napoleon had obtained over the mind of Alexander at Tilsit had excited great apprehensions at Vienna: an interview was about to take place at Erfurt, and the probable consequences that[7] might result from it were a source of serious alarm to Austria. Metternich was constantly seen at the Tuileries. He was the representative of a very ancient European court; himself a man of good birth, and with aristocratic manners, every thing was in his favour, and he was perfectly successful in his mission. At the court of Napoleon there existed much formality, a tone of society combining at once a degree of constraint with the blunt manners of the camp. It was a mere collection of puerile ceremonies; and a man of good family enjoyed an incontestable superiority there from the good taste and ease communicated by education, and the constant habit of society. The ambassador was then thirty-four years of age, his countenance was noble and intelligent; he went to all the court entertainments, and attracted universal attention by the elegance of his equipage and his expensive habits. Young, brilliant, gifted with a ready wit and an easy flow of language, with a slightly emphatic manner of speaking, Count Metternich had the reputation of being a successful gallant, and highly in favour with the Parisian ladies.

The ambassador had recourse to the pleasing species of politics which reaches the secrets of the cabinet—through the heart. His fascinating manners had gained him the good-will of Napoleon, who took pleasure in distinguishing him in the crowd of foreign ministers, and liked to converse with him, though with an occasional observation that he was very young to be the representative of one of the oldest courts of Europe. "At the battle of Austerlitz you were scarcely older than I am now!" was one day the reply of the ambassador. The Emperor was never hasty in his language to Metternich, for he considered him as the means by which an idea of the French system could be conveyed into Austria; and more than once the subject of their debate[8] was the question of the balance of power in Europe, which assumed in the mind of Napoleon such gigantic proportions. Metternich's scheme was to represent the alliance between France and Austria as indispensable; and he spoke of the treaty of 1736, concluded under the influence of the Duc de Choiseul, as the basis of all political grandeur in Europe. The conference of Erfurt was, however, a source of constant uneasiness to him, and Napoleon had just departed for the meeting which was to reconcile the two empires of the North and the South. Promises had been exchanged between the emperors, and in these plans the sacrifice of Austria was determined upon. They were not ignorant of this at Vienna: had, then, all the efforts of Metternich in Paris been in vain? The Spanish war had just broken out, and another sovereign had been hurled from his throne. Was not this a fresh warning to the House of Austria? The alarms it inspired were confessed at the court of London, and England fed their fears in order to induce them to take a vigorous part in the war; for which purpose a report was circulated of a projected change of succession in the Austrian dynasty, favoured by Napoleon.

The peace of Presburg, by placing every where in the Germanic Confederation French principles, and almost French administration, had excited strong dissatisfaction, and the general detestation had been increased by large military contributions, and numerous vexatious oppressions indulged in by the generals and their subordinates. In every direction burst forth the anti-Gallic spirit in favour of the liberty of Germany, especially among the nobility and the secret associations, which had become formidable as early as 1808. The liberal impulse against Napoleon had been awakened in Europe, and it was not one of the least influential causes of his downfall. England[9] encouraged these views; subsidies were promised to a government deeply involved in debt; the resistance of the Peninsula was pointed out to Austria, and the difficulties thereby opposed to the military power of Napoleon, especially after the capitulation of Baylen. Why should they not take advantage of this opportunity to burst through the conditions imposed by the treaty of Presburg? England engaged to subsidise the Austrian army, if, uniting their efforts to the common cause, they would seize that moment for declaring against France; and she also promised a simultaneous diversion in Holland and Spain. These warlike propositions soon found friends among the German nobility, and Count Stadion entered completely into the English views. The levies were immense, for the fate of the empire was at stake.

At this period the business of the young ambassador was to mask by flattering promises the military preparations that were making in Austria. His papers were full of protestations of confidence: and how could he act otherwise? Is it not the duty of a diplomatist to soften the course of events, and to moderate the first bursts of anger and vengeance of one nation against another? Austria did not wish to engage in war until Napoleon should be completely absorbed in his Spanish expedition. But as soon as the Emperor and the Old Guard had left Paris, to raise the puppet throne of Joseph at Madrid, she no longer dissembled her warlike preparations; hostilities were commenced against Bavaria, the close ally of Napoleon, and the Austrian standard was unfurled at Ulm. Napoleon, informed of this unexpected movement, made but one step back to Paris. Metternich was still there.

The ambassador was now placed in a very delicate position, for the Austrian war had really been a surprise. Napoleon thought himself the dupe of Metternich, and[10] he commanded Fouché, the Minister of Police, to cause him to be seized, and marched from one military station to another, until he reached the frontier. The order was harsh, brutal, and contrary to all diplomatic usages. Is not an ambassador bound to obey the instructions of his government, and to serve its interests? and is it not his duty to conceal every thing that may injure his court? Fouché, with his usual regard to his own interest, and who considered what the future might bring forth, executed the orders of Napoleon with delicacy and politeness. He went to the ambassador's house, told him the occasion of his visit, and expressed the most lively regret for it. A degree of dissatisfaction had already begun to arise in the mind of this minister, who looked forward to the time when the insatiable ambition of Napoleon must have a limit, and he and Metternich expressed to each other, in mutual confidence, their feelings on the miseries of war and the rapacious spirit of Napoleon; and Fouché, whose disposition was generally communicative and incautious, went so far as to give utterance to most singular opinions concerning the probable downfall, or even death, of his master. In order as far as possible to soften the rigorous orders he had received, a single captain of gendarmerie, chosen by Marshal Moncey, accompanied the travelling-carriage of the ambassador to the frontier. Prince Metternich takes pleasure in relating the curious occurrences of this journey, which, like that of the aide-de-camp Czernicheff in 1812, was not devoid of peril.

Then the earth was shaken! The Austrian army, under the Archduke Charles, fought valiantly for the defence of their country and their sovereign, and the battle of Essling menaced the fortunes of Napoleon. The disastrous event of this day was never fully published in France; but elsewhere it was perfectly known.[11] Preussisch-Eylau, the capitulation of Baylen, and the battle of Essling on the Danube, appear to me to be the three culminating points, which first taught the world that the armies of Napoleon were no longer invincible: these battles had a great moral influence upon the affairs of Europe, and Wagram was necessary to restore the powerful effect of the Emperor's name; the field of battle on this occasion was doubtful, but nothing could be more decisive than the result; great discouragement was manifested in the councils of Vienna, and the party in favour of peace carried the day.

Victory had then decided between France and Austria, proving the star of Napoleon to be utterly irresistible. The two parties which divided the court of Vienna now became more marked, the opinion in favour of peace, represented by Count Bubna, prevailed in the Emperor's council, and Count Stadion, who had hitherto had the direction of affairs under the influence of the English system, was obliged to retire from the cabinet. The ministry for foreign affairs having thus become vacant, Francis II. thought to conciliate France by the appointment of Metternich, who had displayed great abilities during his embassy to that country. The count, having been reconciled with Napoleon, had since then carefully maintained a middle course between peace and war, and he had also begun to adopt in politics the attitude of armed neutrality, which, ever since 1813, has been the characteristic of Austrian policy. This was a period of deep humiliation for the old imperial crown. The Moniteur had announced that the House of Lorraine had ceased to reign; the Austrian monarchy had been vanquished in the struggle, its armies had experienced terrible reverses; but there still remained to the Emperor Francis the devoted affection of his people,[12] and the indignation they felt at the prospect of French domination.

Count Metternich was sent as minister plenipotentiary to Napoleon, together with Count Bubna, and interviews took place for the purpose of treating of peace. The victor was excessively irritated at the vigorous conduct of Austria, and never were conferences attended with more violence or more fiery disputes; so that Metternich was obliged to apply all the powers of his mind towards inspiring the haughty conqueror with more moderate sentiments. If Napoleon bore in mind his silent and skilful conduct in 1809, he knew, that by favouring his elevation at the court of the Emperor of Austria, he should secure to himself an ally and a representative of his system. These motives, joined to dark hints of assassination, and to the uneasiness caused by the religious brotherhoods among the people, which were already beginning to stir for independence, all contributed to hasten the conclusion of the treaty of Vienna. Is it necessary to remind the reader that the French every where made use of their victories with the inflexible right of the conqueror?

On the occasion of this treaty, Count Metternich received the title of Chancellor of the State, with the direction of foreign affairs,—an office of immense responsibility under existing circumstances. The population was exhausted by the war; the treasury without resources, having been completely drained by the contributions levied by the French; and the monarchy was deprived of all influence in Germany, the treaty of Vienna having robbed it of the last remains of importance towards the south; so that, as I have elsewhere[3][13] remarked, beside her was the Confederation of the Rhine, that is to say, Napoleon; in front the Helvetic Confederation, again Napoleon; to the south the kingdom of Italy, still Napoleon. There remained but a choice of two plans to Austria, either again to try the chance of war, or to appease the Emperor of the French by the most profound submission to all his wishes. Such was the idea of Metternich, when he suggested the marriage of the archduchess, when, as it was said by the implacable Lady Castlereagh, it was necessary to deliver up a daughter of the house of Austria to satisfy the Minotaur.

If the French emperor were to choose a wife among the grand-duchesses of the house of Romanoff, the plan proposed at Erfurt would be quickly accomplished, that is to say, the formation of two great empires, around which there would be a number of small intermediate kingdoms, in some degree dependent upon them; and, to avoid this peril, Metternich hastened the marriage between Napoleon and Maria Louisa: by this means the house of Austria would secure a real protector in the French emperor, and the suit of a brilliant adventurer, at the feet of the daughter of a royal line, might be advantageous to the future prospects of the German crown. It is allowable in politics to calculate to what extent human passions may affect the course of affairs, and therefore the new chancellor of the state, when negotiating the union of the archduchess with Napoleon, looked forward, by means of a family arrangement, to recovering the position of which Austria had been deprived by the fortune of war. The marriage of the archduchess was arranged and concluded entirely by Metternich.

Still, however, he carefully pursued the course towards which there appeared at that time to be a[14] general bent in Europe. In the beginning of the year 1811, certain symptoms appeared to indicate to the court of Vienna that a rupture was about to take place between France and Russia, and these suspicions were changed ere long into certainty: M. Otto, the French ambassador at Vienna, opened his mind completely to Metternich, and, acting on the principle of the late alliance, he proposed they should form a kind of league of offence and defence in the war Napoleon was about to commence against Russia. The French emperor only required a detached corps of 40,000 Austrian auxiliaries as an active force, who were to attack the eastern extremity of Gallicia, at the same time that the French army should proceed to the Vistula. This treaty farther stipulated that the Austrian possessions in Poland should remain untouched, and certain territorial cessions in favour of Austria were agreed upon, in the event of the war against Russia proving successful; thus Metternich began to reap the advantages of the French alliance.

The campaign of 1812 began. The Austrian corps of 30,000 auxiliaries was posted on the Vistula, and, if not required to take an active part in the operations, it still was a check upon the Russian army, which already threatened the flanks of Napoleon's troops. Metternich watched with extreme anxiety the movements of the invading army in Russia; its disastrous retreat was an appalling and unlooked-for catastrophe, and Prince Schwartzenberg went to oppose the Russian troops.

A new train of ideas, a new series of negotiations were now to be entertained. The retreat from Moscow had been so calamitous, that it had not spared to the French enough troops to protect the line of the Oder, far less to retain possession of that of the Vistula. If Prussia and Austria had been faithful to their alliance with Napoleon,[15] they ought immediately to have combined their forces, and opposed all their strength to the Russians, who were already making incursions on every side. The situation of the two courts was very difficult, for the whole German nation was so unanimous in their dislike to the French, that it would have been impossible for the cabinets of Berlin and Vienna to take any steps in their favour, without placing themselves in direct opposition to the people they governed; and, besides, after the deep humiliation they had both endured at the hands of Napoleon, was it not natural they should seek some motive, or, if the expression be preferred, some pretext, for delivering themselves from a state of subjection so fatal to them? Prussia, who was foremost, had no hesitation in abandoning an alliance that was so dishonourable to her. Metternich did not immediately follow her contagious example, but, a cessation of hostilities having taken place between the Russian and Austrian armies, the eyes of France fell upon the cabinet of Vienna, as the mediatorial power which was to prepare a peace, on a foundation in better keeping with the general equilibrium of Europe. In his conferences with M. Otto, the imperial chancellor gave him clearly to understand, that the Austrian government would not depart from the principles of the French alliance, but that the nature of their situation had been altered by the late military events, and, as the frontier of Austria might become the theatre of war, the cabinet of Vienna would naturally assume a more decided attitude, in order to bring to a conclusion a struggle which would for the future so closely affect the empire.

The mission of Prince Schwartzenberg and Count Bubna, at Paris, was conducted in the same spirit. Without giving up the alliance, the Austrian government signified that it could no longer rest upon the same basis, in fact,[16] that they must take a more decided part in the approaching military crisis. Metternich's object in this new negotiation was to lay the foundation for a general peace. Such a resolution was by no means disinterested on his part, for, in the new settlement of the boundaries of the different states of Europe which must ensue, Austria would obtain an accession of territory, as a consequence of the position in which the course of events had placed her. The English party was gaining ground at Vienna, and Lord Walpole had arrived with offers of subsidies and augmentation of territory; in proportion, also, as the French army met with fresh reverses, the popular feeling of Germany assumed a more decided character; still Metternich persisted in his mediatorial system, from the conviction that it would be for the real advantage of his country.

These negotiations continued all through the winter of 1812-13. In the meanwhile, M. Otto had been replaced by Count Louis de Narbonne, the representative of the family alliance. He had been appointed by Napoleon, in the hope that his presence would remind Austria that an archduchess sat upon the throne of France; and, by the decree of the senate and the emperor, this same archduchess had just been officially proclaimed regent during the absence of Napoleon: the government being placed in her hands was a fresh guarantee to Austria of the personal feelings of the emperor's son-in-law. In politics alliances are formed upon positive interests, and Napoleon had too greatly abused his victories; the decree had gone forth, the empire, which extended from Hamburg to Venice—the protectorate, which pressed heavily upon Germany, Prussia, Italy, Switzerland, and Holland—the diplomatic oppression which burdened Sweden and Denmark—all must have an end: after action, a reaction must be expected.


During this time considerable levies took place in every part of the Austrian territory, for it was determined the army should be made up to its full complement of 300,000 men. Metternich justified these warlike preparations by the natural position in which Austria was placed: when the belligerents came so closely in contact with the territory of a neuter party, it appeared quite natural that the neuter should take precautions to preserve its own independence. The position which Metternich had given to Austria had made her a predominant power, with the right of insisting upon real advantages, by way of indemnity; this was an admirable change of circumstances, which left Austria at liberty to come to a definitive decision.

Baron Weissemberg then started for London, under the official pretext of bringing about a general peace, but in reality for the purpose of sounding the English cabinet upon the advantages likely to be offered to Austria, in the way of subsidies and accession of territory, in case she should declare openly in favour of the coalition, and should be willing to furnish so considerable a force as 450,000 men. Now all this occurred in the month of March 1813, and the armaments of Austria received a fresh augmentation, when the thunders of the artillery were heard at Lutzen and Bautzen; 200,000 men were already located in Bohemia: against whom could these immense bodies of troops be intended to act? At this juncture, Metternich again appeared in his mediatorial capacity, to prepare the armistice of Plesswitz, afterwards definitively settled at Nieumarch: Austria constantly declared that, as the conflicting armies occupied four hundred leagues of her frontiers, it was impossible she should any longer refrain from taking an active part in the struggle, if the belligerent powers would not agree to terms of reconciliation.[18] A step was thus taken, from a state of alliance with Napoleon, towards a condition of armed neutrality, and how could so powerful a country as Austria long continue in this situation? In the heated state of the public mind in Germany, how was it possible to calculate the exact point where the mediation would stop for the casus belli?

It was the interest of Russia and Prussia to keep on good terms with a court capable of drawing up a body of excellent troops 200,000 strong. After some bitter and ill-advised observations, Napoleon also accepted the mediation; it was a sort of break in the military operations, an expression of the weariness felt by an army now worn out with battles. We may see how great a part Metternich had created for Austria in these negotiations, for, on former occasions, the plenipotentiaries could treat the Austrian interests as a separate concern, while in her new position Vienna became the indispensable intermediate agent in any treaty that might be contemplated. The question was, Did Austria offer her mediation in good faith, with a sincere wish for peace? or was it merely as a lure, to enable her to render her military establishment more complete? This becomes an important question for history.

It must be remembered that, after the battles of Lutzen and Bautzen, the desire for peace was universal, even in France, and in the tent of Napoleon, in the military night-watch, as well as on the morning of battle; the troops still fought, but it was no longer with the willingness, the enthusiasm of the victories of Austerlitz and Jena. Napoleon submitted to the powerful voice of public opinion, but could his iron disposition bend to circumstances? Until that time as general and consul, and afterwards as emperor, he had been accustomed to say to the vanquished states, "These are my conditions,[19] you have no choice but to accept them; and, if there are any alleviating circumstances, it is to my clemency alone that you will owe them." In 1813, the tables were turned: cabinets now appeared with powers quite equal to that of France, animated, too, with the ardour of battle, and burning with the desire of repairing their former humiliation, and reconquering their independence. The allied powers had signed the armistice of Nieumarch, one great inducement being the opportunity gained for carrying on a secret negotiation with the crown prince of Sweden, and also for the sake of persuading Austria to join the league. I think their anxiety for peace was less than their wish to gain the time necessary to complete their vast military arrangements, by detaching Austria from her part of mediator, and inducing her to join them in the war against the common enemy; pious Germany, having gained her feet, now wanted to make an end of her oppressor. Now, would Metternich continue to preserve this neutral position? would not the Austrian government be inclined for a change of system?

Let us not forget how Austria was at that time situated. Had she not a right to obtain, by diplomatic means, all the advantages offered by her present position? We know the heavy losses she had sustained in Italy; the Milanese, the Tyrol, and the Illyrian provinces, had been successively torn from her: and was it not natural she should take advantage of her armed mediation, a favourable position in which Metternich had contrived to place her? Had she derived the expected advantages from the general peace, she would not have joined the coalition against Napoleon; failing in that, she must endeavour to recover by force of arms all she had been deprived of during the war. It was for the purpose of justifying[20] this delicate situation that Metternich first introduced the elegant system of high and noble diplomatic language, a style of which Baron Gentz has since been the most distinguished organ—Gentz, whose life has been so busy, and so full of disappointments, who, in his old age, came to utter soft love speeches at the feet of Miss Fanny Elssler.

Metternich unfolds in his papers his ideas upon the balance of power in Europe, which tended to diminish the prodigious influence of Napoleon, to the benefit of the allied states. I am not aware of any thing written in a more remarkable style than these despatches; they are, perhaps, rather loose in their details, but all the expressions are so carefully guarded, that they never compromised either the cabinet or the writer.

After signing the armistice of Nieumarch, Napoleon had fixed his head-quarters at Dresden. Successive despatches, from the French cabinet, requested the Emperor Francis II. to affix his signature to the preliminaries of a treaty of peace; at last, Metternich, bearing an autograph letter from his sovereign, in answer to the overtures that had been made to him, repaired to Dresden, commissioned to find out what might be the definitive intentions of Napoleon with regard to peace. The conference lasted nearly half a day; the emperor, in his military dress, strode hastily up and down the room, with flashing eyes, and sharp, hurried gestures: he took up his hat, then laid it down again, and threw himself into a large easy chair, while the perspiration started on his brow; he was evidently disturbed in mind, for he burst forth, in no measured terms, to Metternich: "Your government," said he, "wants to take advantage of my perplexed situation; and the question with you is, whether you can exact so much from me without fighting,[21] or whether you must decide in ranging yourselves among my enemies? Well, let us see! Let us negotiate—I am perfectly willing. What do you want?"

To this abrupt sally, to this demand so little in accordance with the usual diplomatic forms, Metternich merely replied, "That Austria was desirous of establishing an order of things, which, by the wise distribution of power, should place the preservation of peace under the protection of an association of independent states; that the object of the cabinet of Vienna must be to destroy the sole predominancy of the Emperor Napoleon, by substituting to his colossal influence a balance of power, which should establish Austria, Russia, and Prussia, on a footing completely independent of the French empire." As a summary of these conditions, Austria claimed Illyria, and a more extended frontier towards Italy; the Pope was to be reinstated in his dominions; Poland to be subjected to another partition; Spain and Holland were to be evacuated by the French army; and the Confederation of the Rhine and the mediation of Switzerland were to be given up by the Emperor, who was already overwhelmed with ill-fortune.

Thus was to be accomplished the dismemberment of the gigantic work erected by the toils and victories of Napoleon. Shall I venture to describe this scene as it has been depicted to me by the sole eye-witness, Prince Metternich himself? As the Austrian plenipotentiary unfolded the views of his cabinet, the sallow complexion of Napoleon gradually assumed a crimson hue; at last he exclaimed, "Metternich, do you attempt to impose such conditions upon me without drawing a sword? These demands are most insulting! And it is my father-in-law who agrees to such a plan! What kind of position does he wish to place me in with regard to the French[22] people? Ah, Metternich! how much has England given you to play this part against me?"

To this offensive language, Metternich, retaining his calm and dignified demeanour, replied not a word; and Napoleon, in the violence of his gestures, having let fall his hat, the Austrian minister did not stoop to pick it up, as politeness would have induced him to do under any other circumstances. There was a silence of half an hour.[4] Afterwards the conversation was resumed in a cooler and calmer tone; and, in dismissing Metternich, the Emperor, taking his hand, said to him, "After all, Illyria is not my last word, and we may be able to arrange better conditions."

This dialogue is of importance to history, for it decided the fate of Napoleon.

The Emperor's habits of command made his language hasty and his summons for an answer abrupt; and, when he addressed himself thus to a person in an elevated position, it naturally gave great offence. Metternich retained the strongest resentment for his behaviour—he had been deeply insulted; and, besides, so experienced a minister could not fail to discover the secret thoughts of the Emperor, and must have been well convinced that, with such a character as his, there was but little reason to hope for the re-establishment of the balance of power in Europe.

Nevertheless, Austria consented to the conferences at Prague, and, by a fresh agreement, the suspension of hostilities was prolonged till the 10th of August. Metternich, as the representative of the mediatorial power, was by right president of the congress, in the same manner as it had fallen to the Swedish minister at[23] the congresses of Nimeguen and Ryswick. M. Maret first raised difficulties on the score of etiquette, because Baron Humboldt and Baron d'Anstett, the representatives of Russia and Prussia, were only ministers of the second rank, while M. de Caulaincourt and M. Maret belonged to the first. They next discussed the order of precedence and little questions of detail; they considered whether the negotiation should be carried on in writing or viva voce, and the forms of the congresses of Nimeguen and Ryswick were called for. The object of each party was to gain time, in order that hostilities might recommence. At last, Metternich, seeing the indefinite turn affairs were taking, resolved to join the military Congress of Trachenberg, where the Crown Prince of Sweden, Bernadotte, was employed in tracing out the vast plan of the campaign of the allied armies against Napoleon. They decided upon marching straight upon Paris, without a moment's hesitation, and making an appeal to the people, dissatisfied with the Emperor. At Trachenberg, Russia and Prussia received all the propositions of the Austrian minister without the slightest difficulty; they agreed, whatever might be the personal pretensions of the Emperor Alexander, that the general command of the allied troops should be conferred upon Prince Schwartzenberg. The importance of securing the co-operation of the Austrian army was fully appreciated, and no sacrifice was spared to attach an additional force of 200,000 men to the coalition.

With a view to avoid this immense co-operation, Napoleon had addressed himself at once to the Emperor Francis II., recalling to his mind the alliance of their families. Maria Louisa had gone to Mayence, and her husband, taking advantage of one or two days which the armistice still left at his disposal, went to meet her there, to give his last instructions to the daughter of the Cæsars,[24] and to confirm to her all the powers of the regency. France then would be governed by an archduchess, and, according to all dynastic ideas, could Austria fight against a country ruled by the daughter of her emperor? They were mistaken; the cabinets no longer stood in awe of Napoleon, and this was a circumstance which the French plenipotentiaries at Prague had not understood. M. Maret, in particular, had shewn his insufficiency, or, at all events, an inferior capacity, unable to bear a comparison with a statesman of the school and character of Prince Metternich. One of the greatest misfortunes of the Emperor Napoleon was, that he was surrounded by a crowd of people constantly at his feet, and dazzled with his glory: these were clerks, not statesmen.

Thus the negotiations continued to assume the character of indecision and ill-humour, which had marked their origin. The slightest proposal called forth anger, the most trifling insinuation gave offence. Metternich retained the character of mediator, which had been recognised by the other powers; he resisted all idea of overturning the French government, and, when General Moreau arrived on the Continent, the first words the Austrian minister said to M. Maret were, "Austria has nothing to do with this intrigue; she will never approve of the proceedings of General Moreau." At last, the ultimatum of the allied powers, communicated by Metternich, was as follows. The dissolution of the duchy of Warsaw, which was to be divided between Russia, Prussia, and Austria (Dantzic was given to Prussia); the cities of Lubech and Hamburg were to be reinstated in their independence, the kingdom of Prussia was to be remodelled, and one frontier was to extend to the Elbe; all the Illyrian provinces, including Trieste, were to be ceded to Austria, and a reciprocal guarantee was to be given, that the condition of the sovereignties, both small[25] and great, should not be subject to alteration, except by common consent, but should continue such as they might be settled by the peace. The Emperor of the French at first refused to accede to these terms, which were afterwards modified, and at last received a reluctant and tardy assent; for Austria was then entering with all her strength into the coalition.

I have consulted upon the events of this period the two men who played the principal parts in the diplomatic transactions of the war, Count Pozzo di Borgo and Prince Metternich. I asked them, "Was there really a sincere desire for peace at Prague?" They both answered in the affirmative. Pozzo di Borgo, in his hatred for Napoleon, described to me the anxiety he felt at witnessing the hesitation of Austria; and Metternich justified himself to Europe for the indecision of his conduct by his desire to bring his diplomatic mediation to a happy issue, for the interests of Napoleon, Austria, and the general peace.

A notification from the court of Vienna announced to Count Nesselrode and Prince Hardenberg, that, for the future, Austria, as a member of the coalition, would locate 200,000 men, in large bodies, behind the mountains of Bohemia. The joy of the Allies was not to be expressed; one should have heard Count Pozzo di Borgo recount the magical effect produced by this letter of Metternich; it arrived in the middle of the night at a barn, in which were reposing the Emperor Alexander, the King of Prussia, Count Nesselrode, Prince Hardenberg, and all the staff of the allied troops. They arose and embraced each other, as if the salvation of Europe were achieved, and Napoleon tumbled from his throne. The manifesto of Austria, which was the work of Metternich, appeared ten days later. In spite, however, of this rupture, Caulaincourt remained at Prague, and the[26] chancellor of state still assured him he was ready to proceed with the negotiation if France would agree to the independence of the Germanic Confederation and of Switzerland, and to the reconstruction of the dominions of Prussia on a scale of greater importance. Napoleon, still unwilling to give in, applied to Count Bubna, in the persuasion that he would be able to exercise a favourable influence over his father-in-law, the emperor; at last, on the 14th of August, he gave his consent to the proposals of the Austrian cabinet, and his answer was despatched to Prague; but it was too late. Metternich declared the impossibility of entering into a separate treaty, and said it would be necessary to refer simultaneously to the three courts whose political interests were henceforth inseparable.

Still Napoleon did not abandon all hope of drawing Austria over to his interests, and he proposed entering into a negotiation, even after the commencement of hostilities, when the Austrian army was actually in motion. 200,000 Austrians came forth from the mountains of Bohemia, and turned the flank of the French army. Then the general rising in Germany took place; a transitory lustre was conferred by the admirable battle of Dresden, but Leipsic witnessed the last expiring gleam of the French glory. By the end of 1813, the line of the Elbe was lost, and even that of the Rhine was compromised. All Germany was in arms, and the whole of Europe had assumed a threatening posture.

Austria had hardly joined the coalition before difficulties arose in this vast body, agitated by so many different interests. Some jealous feelings had already been entertained concerning the title of generalissimo of the armies, which had been conferred upon Prince Schwartzenberg, and other questions were subsequently started as to the object of the campaign. As long as the French[27] occupied Germany, the most pressing anxiety was to get rid of this heavy yoke. Having once reached the Rhine, there was no confederation, no imminent danger; the soil was covered with the wrecks of Napoleon's empire, and Germany had recovered her ancient independence. The sole remaining possessions of the French in that country were some fortresses, which, after a siege of longer or shorter duration, must revert to their ancient sovereign. The house of Austria had ceased to be afraid of France, but had begun to entertain some apprehensions with regard to Russia. The Russians had been taught the road towards the south of Europe, and they were likely to remember it.

In the opinion of Metternich, France, with a certain degree of power and a definite extent of territory, was necessary to the balance of power in Europe; and he took care this should be mentioned in the manifesto published by the allied armies on the Rhine. This manifesto, of which the idea belonged to Metternich, was executed by Gentz. Austria, being now free from danger in Germany, could, without risk, lend assistance to the threatened empire of France. The family connexion with Napoleon was not yet broken; his moral influence, it is true, was greatly weakened; but his powerful mind was in its pristine vigour, and he was still capable of making some daring attempt. These long-sighted views were clearly displayed in the conversation between Metternich and M. de St. Aignan. Austria, already embarrassed by her position with regard to France and Russia, would gladly have withdrawn from a war which no longer closely affected her own interests; but a principle, fatal to Napoleon, had been admitted,—the allied powers were no longer at liberty to enter into a treaty the one without the other. When Lord Castlereagh arrived on the Continent, he gave[28] additional solidity to this tendency to unite in a common cause; and the implacable enemy of Napoleon, Count Pozzo di Borgo, had been despatched to London to request the presence of the prime minister of England on the Continent. They were desirous of rendering the alliance incapable of future alteration, for the first successes beyond the Rhine had naturally given birth to two separate questions: one relating to territory in the new settlement of the boundaries in Europe; the other, a moral question, as to the form of government which should be established in France in case the allied armies should take possession of Paris. The interests of England and Austria were differently affected from those of Russia and Prussia by the arrangements that might be entered into.

In the first place, what would they do with the most important conquests? Russia was in possession of Poland, Prussia of Saxony, and Austria of a great portion of Italy. Should the Emperor Alexander attempt to set up a sort of kingdom in Poland, the interests of Austria would suffer. Again, could Prussia be permitted to enlarge her dominions by the addition of Saxony? All these questions were already subjects of debate in the diplomatic body, which, to all outward appearance, was still perfectly united; the most unlimited confidence in each other was expressed by all parties, but, in reality, interest and selfishness were the prevailing feelings. Lord Castlereagh shewed great ability at this juncture by constituting himself the general bond of union of the coalition.

With regard to the questions connected with the government of France, it was hardly possible to suppose Austria would agree to a project of a change of dynasty, when an archduchess held the reins of government as regent. The Emperor Alexander had entered into a[29] private contract with Bernadotte, whose feelings against Napoleon were very bitter. Alexander would agree to any form of government that might be proposed, but in the conference at Abo all possibilities had been discussed, even one which might place Bernadotte at the head of affairs in France. England, though well inclined towards the Bourbons, did not make their restoration so indispensable a condition as to render debates upon matters of more personal interest subordinate to it. Lord Castlereagh had explained this to the exiled princes; they had not yet been permitted to land upon the Continent, and the Comte d'Artois did not arrive at Dole until January, 1814.

It is particularly in this point of view that the history of the Congress of Chatillon is deserving of a serious study. At this meeting there was still an evident desire on the part of Austria to conclude a treaty on the basis of the balance of power in Europe; but, from the very commencement, Metternich must have discovered that the position of Austria was no longer the same as at the beginning of the campaign. All moral influence had now passed over to the side of the Emperor Alexander, who had become the arbiter of the destinies of the coalition; Prussia and Austria only appeared in the light of useful auxiliaries, the principal influence and popularity rested with the czar; he alone was talked of, and the negotiations were especially addressed to his cabinet. The military treaty of Chaumont, which fixed the number of troops to be furnished by the coalition, was dictated by Lord Castlereagh, who was afraid of a dissolution of the alliance. It was then declared that the allied powers would never sheathe the sword till they had reduced France within the limits it occupied in 1792; and, for this purpose, each cabinet promised a contingent[30] of 150,000 men under arms, England agreeing to furnish a subsidy.[5]

From this period Metternich found himself in a very delicate position. As the events of the war gradually brought the allies nearer to Paris, the Emperor of Austria could not with any degree of propriety take a part in military operations whose object was the capture of a metropolis governed by the archduchess. Metternich, who was in correspondence with Maria Louisa, could no longer control the course of events, and, perhaps, this princess, weary of seeing herself surrounded by so much littleness of mind, avidity, and folly, as were exhibited by the relations and supporters of Napoleon, when the regency was at Blois, might not have been sorry to get rid of her fictitious dignity. The Emperor Francis II. remained at Dijon, while the bold advance of Schwartzenberg laid Paris at the mercy of the allies.

A reproach has constantly been cast upon Metternich for his conduct upon this occasion; how, it is said, could he sanction a proceeding which rent the imperial crown from the brow of Maria Louisa? I believe, at this time, all idea of the continuance of the empire had been abandoned, its time had passed away: there are seasons when the force of public opinion carries every thing before it, and now there was a sort of weariness of mind, people were tired of Napoleon and his military system, the string drawn too tight had snapped asunder. A retrospect must be taken of that time, and it will explain the resolution of the allies. It would have been difficult to maintain even the regency of the empress, and at[31] the same time carry out the military engagements entered into at Chaumont. In France all were tired of the war, a general rising had taken place in Europe, nor would Napoleon have submitted to the degradation of a kingdom bounded by narrower limits than the Rhine. No doubt the regency would have been the most complete triumph of the Austrian system, but what would have become of Napoleon under the regency? would he have resigned himself to so humiliating a situation? would he not have been stifled in the small kingdom of France? The proceedings in Paris were quite independent of Metternich, who was not even present at them. The Emperor Alexander had acquired so overwhelming an influence in the senate with the patriots of 1789, that no cabinet, even of the first order, would have contended with it. The archduchess had been conducted from Blois to her father, Francis II., without any discussion taking place concerning the regency or the empire. Talleyrand had said, "The restoration of the Bourbons is a principle; every thing else is an intrigue:" and this expression put an end to all negotiations that had not the return of Louis XVIII. for their object. The diplomatic corps were occupied with the Treaty of Paris, which produced the re-establishment of order, the general peace, the restoration of the Bourbons, and the settlement of the boundaries of the French territory, which had been the principal object and most important result of the campaign. But this was not all; the immense empire of Napoleon was in ruins, and how should these important fragments with which the world was overspread be divided? Might Francis II. resume the old imperial crown, which he had resigned at the treaty of Presburg? In spite of the strong predilection then entertained for ancient customs, Metternich felt that the crown of Charlemagne[32] would be merely an empty title unsupported by any real influence, and it would have been a cause of offence to Prussia, whose jealousy would have been roused by the existence of a German empire in close contiguity with her own kingdom, which embraced nearly a third of the population of Germany. With the strong instinct which forms part of his character, Metternich felt that, for the future, Austria, while retaining a great general influence over Germany, had better strive to become a southern sovereignty, having Gallicia at one extremity, and Dalmatia at the other, and including the Lombardo-Venetian territories, under the ancient and magnificent iron crown. He carried this idea into the Congress of Vienna, when the new constitution of the European sovereignties was to be established on a general basis, and he took care to bring it forward again upon every occasion in which the diplomatic system of Austria was displayed. This alone affords an explanation of the extreme and constant solicitude evinced for the possession of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom, and the constant tendency, both by means of conquest and commerce, towards the shores of the Adriatic.

At the Congress of Vienna, Metternich exercised a prodigious influence. The Emperor Francis had made a great family sacrifice, by abandoning the cause of Maria Louisa, and, in honour of this conduct, Europe fixed the assemblage of the sovereigns at Vienna. In the midst of balls, elegant amusements, and entertainments, Europe was to be remodelled on a different basis; the long conferences, which were to decide the fate of nations, were intermingled with flowers and pleasure. Prince Metternich, then in his forty-first year, saw the object of his anxieties and wishes fully accomplished; Vienna afforded the most brilliant spectacle; the sovereigns[33] were assembled there, accompanied by a myriad of persons of princely rank, with their families, their courts, and their numerous suites. Love intrigues contended with the more serious business of this Congress, which had become the rendezvous of all the most distinguished characters in Europe. In the evening people assembled at the Royal Theatre, or in the brilliantly illuminated saloons, where, at the gaming-table, Blucher was employed in completing the ruin of his affairs, which he had begun in Paris.

Prince Metternich had the direction of the diplomatic party, while the empress, wife of Francis II., received the august strangers with the grace and dignity she was so well known to possess. The splendours of the Congress of Vienna left a strong impression upon the minds of the diplomatic characters who were present at it; they are associated in their memory with the fresh and pleasing recollection of the days of their youth, and, when you converse upon the subject with those whom death has spared, they speak in enthusiastic terms of the chivalric entertainments, the fancy balls of the empress, and the galanteries of the sovereigns. What brilliant parties were those of Lady Castlereagh, a female diplomatist, as active as the English prime minister in all negotiations relating to the management of the world!

In walking through the streets of Vienna, it was no uncommon sight to meet the three sovereigns of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, shaking hands, and giving each other marks of mutual confidence, and yet the most serious dissensions already prevailed in the Congress concerning the territorial arrangement of Europe. The quadruple alliance, as it had been settled in the treaty of Chaumont, was nothing but a military convention, intended to overturn the power of Napoleon; more a kind[34] of plan of battle, or strategic stipulation, than a regular and political negotiation. After the fall of Napoleon, the allied powers resumed their natural interests. Thus, on the question of German supremacy, Prussia would naturally be inclined to side with Russia, and draw off from Austria; England, to oppose Russia in every thing relating to the sovereignty of Poland, which the Czar had already appropriated to himself; and France, though so terribly shaken by the late invasion, must endeavour to regain some degree of credit in Europe, by keeping on good terms with England and Austria. I must say, to the honour of the eldest branch of the Bourbons, that it always exhibited the most perfect dignity in its foreign relations, and perhaps the critical situation of our internal affairs was only produced by a fatal reaction of foreign dissatisfaction upon ourselves. From the first assembling of the Congress, private conferences had taken place between Lord Castlereagh, Metternich, and Talleyrand, to take into consideration the conditions of a treaty which might afford a counterpoise to the immense ascendancy Russia had obtained during the invasion of France and the events of 1814. By this treaty, which was signed in the month of March 1815, subsidies were agreed upon in the event of certain occurrences, and an engagement was entered into, that a fixed number of troops should always be in readiness for the casus belli, should Russia and Prussia attempt to disturb the equilibrium established among the European powers, and, according to a despatch of M. de Talleyrand, France was to maintain a half war establishment.

Metternich was the principal author of this secret treaty, because, after things had been replaced in their original state by the restoration of Louis XVIII., he began to be afraid of Russia and her immense weight: the question of Poland was the pretext. France manifested[35] particular anxiety for the re-establishment of the King of Saxony, whose territory Prussia was desirous to absorb; while England, on the other hand, but little inclined to favour Russia, considered it indispensably necessary that Prussia should possess very extensive territorial strength, that she might serve as a constant barrier against northern invasion. It was necessary Metternich should combat this opinion for the sake of Saxony, and he did so in a series of papers opposed to those of Prince Hardenberg and Baron Humboldt. On the Polish question he perfectly agreed with England: at the bottom of Alexander's good-will towards the Poles, there lurked an idea of political aggrandisement; for, by making a kingdom of Poland, he well knew that the portion of that country that had accrued to Austria, as well as what had fallen to the share of Prussia, would sooner or later all unite under one sceptre. On no account would Alexander resign his paramount influence[6] over Warsaw. Things reached such a pitch, that Metternich issued orders that the Austrian armies should be maintained upon a war establishment, while Russia kept her troops in readiness, and appealed to the Poles to stand by their country. Whilst Metternich warmly opposed the establishment of Russian Poland as a kingdom under any circumstances, England was desirous it should be placed on so firm a foundation, as to serve as an obstacle to the encroachments of the Russian cabinet.

Serious events already obliged Metternich to turn his attention towards Italy, and here we must look back upon events of a rather earlier date. As far back as the month of February 1813, England had taken advantage of some dissatisfaction entertained by Murat, and still[36] more by Caroline, Napoleon's own sister, to hasten the downfall of the French empire. All the good people of Buonaparte's family appear to have taken their royalty in good earnest, and to have fancied they possessed some consequence of their own, and might remain kings and queens independent of the great emperor. England, clever at taking advantage of these little absurdities, reminded Murat of the example of Bernadotte, and suggested the possibility of his becoming king of all Italy. While Napoleon was abusing his brother-in-law in his haughty and violent letters, reminding him that "the lion was not dead," the English cabinet soothed with the most flattering hopes the imagination of Murat, who had but a poor head for politics, and every thing was brought into play that could flatter the vanity of the most theatrical soldier of the imperial era.

At the close of the year 1813, Murat was already in the occupation of the Roman States, making an appeal to the patriots, for it was the custom of Europe at that time to march forward invoking the liberty of the people. To detach him from a bad cause, Metternich had particularly recourse to a gentle and tender influence, a pleasing reminiscence of his embassy in Paris, and he guaranteed to Murat the peaceable possession of the kingdom of Naples. After the re-establishment of the Bourbons in France gave rise to the strongest uneasiness in his astonished mind, King Joachim deputed the Duke of Serra Capriola to the Congress of Vienna, pleading his treaties with Austria and England; but his envoy was not admitted to the assembly, for a negotiation was on foot to replace the old dynasty of Sicily upon the throne, a negotiation conducted by Prince Talleyrand. Louis XVIII. had recommended the interests of his family to the Congress of Vienna, and M. de Talleyrand was to receive from the Neapolitan[37] branch of the Bourbons a rich equivalent for his sadly compromised principality of Benevento. Austria was a little unmindful of her promises, and defended her engagements with Murat but very feebly; indeed, the general bent towards the restoration of the former order of things was so strong, that he who had usurped the crown of Naples was actually declared guilty of treason. In the English House of Commons, Lord Castlereagh read a private correspondence, carried on with Napoleon at the very moment when Murat was negotiating with the Alliance, which afforded evidence of a double policy having been pursued. Having become uneasy concerning the resolutions of the Congress of Vienna, he made vast military preparations, in concert with the patriots and the secret societies, with the intention of assuming the great crown of Italy. Metternich caused the Austrian armies to assemble en masse in the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom, where they awaited under arms the coming events.

The storm soon burst.

Napoleon then landed in the Gulf of Juan to attempt his heroic exploit of the Hundred Days. Matters were in a strangely complicated state at the Congress of Vienna, and Napoleon, looking at the affairs of Europe under one point of view only, had formed a fair judgment of the condition of the allied powers with regard to each other, without, however, comprehending that his presence on the Continent would unite them all in a terrible coalition. The very name of Buonaparte filled the old European sovereignties with so much alarm, that they recovered themselves with the utmost haste, in order to take measures for the general safety.

They owed to the activity of Talleyrand and Metternich the official declaration of the Congress of Vienna, which placed Buonaparte at the ban of Europe, simultaneously[38] roused against the common enemy. The mystic spirit of Alexander entered willingly into the idea of a Christian alliance and a European crusade, and Metternich, after the system he had adopted ever since the rupture in 1813, could not depart from the military agreement entered into at Chaumont. Napoleon was declared at the ban of the empire by a revived custom of the ancient assemblies of the German Diet.

The pretended agreement between Napoleon, Austria, and England, at the time of his landing in the Gulf of Juan, was a romance invented afterwards by the imperialist party. Napoleon, who was well informed concerning the diplomatic state of things, might imagine a separation of interests among the cabinets a probable thing, but beyond this there was nothing. One of his first steps was to endeavour to place himself in communication with Metternich, and we again find Fouché in correspondence with the chief of the Austrian cabinet: they had never lost sight of each other since their memorable conference in 1809, and their acquaintance was renewed in 1813, when Fouché was appointed Governor-General of Illyria. I have reason to believe, that they had even then spoken to each other in confidence concerning the decline of power of that man, as the disaffected called Napoleon, and of the possibility of a regency under Maria Louisa; in 1813 the subject they would select for their conversation would probably be the abdication of the Emperor, which was one of the favourite ideas of the senatorial party. At the same time Napoleon wrote to Maria Louisa, he despatched, by means of some secret agents, confidential letters from intimate friends of the minister, and even from a princess of the imperial blood, between whom and Prince Metternich a tender feeling had existed: and finally, in order to sow dissension throughout the[39] whole of Europe, he transmitted to the Emperor Alexander a copy of the treaty of the triple alliance, concluded against Russia in the month of March 1815, and signed by Lord Castlereagh, Talleyrand, and Metternich: his primary object was to break the powerful union among the sovereigns.

At this period, the Austrian armies had marched into Italy against Murat and the Neapolitans, and General Bianchi had obtained the most brilliant victories over the wavering and ill-organised troops of Joachim. Metternich caused all the fortresses of the kingdom of Naples and the Roman States to be garrisoned by Austrian troops; for he had decided, in concert with the French legation, upon the re-establishment of the House of Bourbon at Naples as completing the scheme of the government of Europe.

While Fouché was negotiating with Metternich a plan for substituting the regency under Maria Louisa to the empire, organised as it had been during the hundred days, French agents were contriving means of carrying off the child who had been saluted in his cradle with the title of King of Rome. A great deal of mystification went on in all this; there was even one of these gentlemen, otherwise, too, a man in good society, who received a large sum of money, but who had in reality no other object than that of joining M. de Talleyrand at Vienna. Napoleon had promised that his wife and son would be present at the Champ de Mai, but Metternich's police baffled the intentions of the French agents, and, with the politeness which characterises all his actions, the minister conducted the daughter of the emperor and the Duke de Reichstadt to the palace of Schönbrunn, under an escort of the most trustworthy servants of the house of Austria. It was one of the most delicate circumstances that occurred during the life of Metternich, a man, too, always remarkable[40] for his attention to propriety; for Maria Louisa did not at that time feel the cold indifference for Napoleon which she afterwards exhibited, and she was a party to the project formed for carrying her off, by some attendants who had remained with her, but who now all received an order to quit Schönbrunn.

The Austrian armies proceeded from Italy across the Alps, and took a part in the melancholy invasion of the south of France; they afterwards occupied Provence and Languedoc as far as Auvergne, their head-quarters being at Lyons and Dijon. On the dissolution of the Congress of Vienna, after the second fall of Napoleon, Metternich repaired to Paris, to be present at the conferences which were to precede the treaty of November 1815. Prussia and England had been victorious at Waterloo, and their interest had proportionally increased. In the negotiations of Paris, the two cabinets of Berlin and Vienna acted in concert to represent the interests of Germany, which were very hostile to the French nation. The German population had been greatly irritated during the gigantic efforts that Europe had made against Napoleon; the secondary princes on the banks of the Rhine demanded Alsace and a portion of Lorraine, marked upon a map drawn in 1815 (which now lies before me), under the name of Germania, as the representation of Germany. There was a terrible reaction in that country against France, one of those refluxes of the people and the national feeling by which various periods of our history have been distinguished.

Nevertheless, what organisation, exterior or interior, did they intend to establish, to form a general constitution in Germany? How could they restore to the Emperor Francis the influence in that country which he formerly possessed, but of which he had been deprived by Napoleon? Germany had arisen with the double[41] cry of liberty and unity on her lips. Unity! how was it to be established among principalities of which the power and the population varied so greatly, and who still maintained the feudal principle in the midst of civilised Europe? And liberty! it was an indefinite expression; how could it be applied to so many different systems of government, and to so many various localities whose interests were so distinct from each other? The scheme of the Confederation of the Rhine had been formed by Napoleon solely with a view of increasing the importance of all the petty states, and of inducing them to enter into a coalition hostile to Austria and Prussia. Now circumstances were altered; Austria and Prussia were the great predominant powers, whose business it was to establish their own influence, and govern the whole confederation by means of a protectorate, more or less clearly defined; Prussia assuming the power in the northern provinces, Austria to the south. It was necessary, when the fatherland should be threatened, that its mixed population should be capable of being called forth to serve indifferently in the armies of Prussia and Austria. The unity of the German states was thus opposed as a barrier against Russia and France, and served equally as a protection against both those nations.

Metternich, when he gave up the old imperial mantle in the name of the emperor, obtained for him a more real advantage as president of the diet; a number of votes were awarded to Austria and Prussia, in proportion to the importance of their position; and either by means of their command of the army of the confederation, or by their influence in the diet, these two countries held undisputed sway over the deliberations and the employment of the troops. No doubt, many little acts of injustice were committed, and some caprice was exhibited in the repartition of the states and of the contingents.[42] Sovereignties were sometimes aggrandised because they were protected by the Emperor Alexander, and, sometimes, even by Metternich; but where are the human operations over which perfect justice presides? Since they were desirous of unity, this sacrifice of some to the cause of all was the natural consequence of it; and should it now be asked, what is to be the result of this confederation, I reply, that Austria has reason to fear lest Prussia should assume a constantly increasing importance in Germany. The destiny of Austria henceforth is elsewhere, her future lies in the south; Prussia is too singularly situated not to strive to agglomerate her dominions; she will undoubtedly do so, either in point of fact, by means of conquest, or morally, by the influence she will exercise. It is towards the shores of the Adriatic that Austria will find herself indemnified for the diminution of her influence in central Germany.

The cry of liberty had been raised in Germany when it roused itself against Napoleon; and the secret societies of Schill and Stein still had representatives in old Blucher and General Gniesenau. What did the government propose doing for the liberty they demanded? Constitutions had been promised, and representative states were granted to some principalities, but, the victory being once obtained, there was hesitation about proceeding any farther.

Now that experience has made us perfectly acquainted with the spirit of revolutions, it is easy to understand how, in the rapid alteration of political situations, the promises of to-day are violated to-morrow. It is in vain to imagine that these periods of transition, when the people struggle for crochets of sovereignty, can bear a comparison with seasons when the proceedings of the government are calm and regular; after victory the popular excitement shews itself unreasonable, and wants[43] to insist upon promises the government is no longer able to perform.

In 1813, during the period of battles and revolutions, many things had been promised to Germany; but was it possible to perform them in 1815 and 1816? Suppose that in Germany, that country of excitement and mystical spirit, the utopias of the secret societies had been realised,—a political existence given to the universities, and a turbulent representation to all the states,—that they had granted them the liberty of the press and an organised democracy,—would Germany ever have reached the high degree of prosperity and public tranquillity she now enjoys? We must take customs as they exist, and minds with the habits they have formed; we must not give a people institutions which would be a torment to their existence without increasing their well-being. I do not say that the governments of Austria and Prussia acted rightly in not fulfilling their promises—I merely say, that time alone can shew whether this conduct proceeded from prudence, or from a calculating spirit of selfishness. The events of 1814 and 1815 had considerably increased the possessions of Austria in Italy, and, as this was really a country obtained by conquests, it was natural and necessary that an armed surveillance should be established in the Lombardo-Venetian territory, as well as a police capable of controlling the provinces united to the Austrian empire. The utmost ability will be required to slacken successively the springs of this police, in proportion as the victors may be more firmly established in their foreign possessions. To have granted free constitutions to the people would have been an imprudent generosity, for this conquest, like those of Napoleon, could only be maintained by military occupation, which it was desirable to render as little oppressive as circumstances[44] would permit. The Italians, a hot and enthusiastic people, had driven out the French in the day of their calamity; the Austrians should endeavour to avoid a similar misfortune, and keep carefully upon their guard.

Here begins the melodrama which has been cast around the person of Prince Metternich, with the picture of the cruel prisons and Piombi of Venice. I appeal to the Christian sincerity and good faith of Silvio Pellico, whether there be one word of real truth in his book, Le mie Prigioni. Does he call to mind the terrible Piombi of Venice, which, in his case, consisted of a room on the fourth floor in the ducal palace, commanding a most extensive view over the Great Canal, and for which Lord Byron would have paid some hundreds of sequins? He was deprived of his liberty, it is true; and this is, no doubt, a deplorable misfortune: but had he engaged in a conspiracy?—had he attempted to overturn the established government? He avows that he had done so, and in attempts of this kind a man sets his liberty and

"Life upon a cast,
And he must stand the hazard of the die."

The Austrian cabinet, no doubt, takes ample precautionary measures, but there is no cruelty or oppression in its system; and whoever has had an opportunity of conversing with Prince Metternich ought to ask himself, whether it is possible a man of so calm and reasonable an intellect should be guilty of an act of barbarity without even a motive for his conduct?

The strict repressive measures upon which the system of Prince Metternich in Germany and Italy is founded occasioned a movement of reaction; for liberty, that master passion of the mind, does not allow itself to be crushed without making some despairing efforts. Far[45] from the secret societies having been dissolved in Germany, they were regularly organised in the universities among the students, and the heated state of their minds was encouraged by the influence of poetry and the political writings, which called upon the courage and patriotism of all those who possessed noble hearts to lend their assistance to the German unity. This unity, so loudly appealed to by the young generation, was in reality only a sort of federative republic, in which all the states, while enjoying their individual freedom, were to be united by the practice of virtue, and would thus tend to the general happiness of mankind. The old German sovereignties were obliged to curb these associations, which burst forth in the assassination of Kotzebue.

Metternich had just been travelling in Italy when the universities distinguished themselves by this sanguinary crime. He was loaded with the benefits of his sovereign; he now bore the title of prince, and stars of almost all the orders of knighthood in Europe glittered on his breast. The state of fermentation which existed in Germany had not escaped his statesmanlike penetration, and it was solely at his suggestion that a congress took place at Carlsbad, where severe and distrustful measures were adopted against the organisation of the public schools in Germany. The conduct of the universities, the repression of seditious writings, the establishment of a political police,—nothing was neglected in this regular crusade, undertaken by the government against the revolutionary feelings by which the heated imaginations were then inflamed. After great disturbances have taken place in a state, the sole anxiety of the government is to check any disposition to disorder, and they are excited to do so by public opinion, and by the middle classes, who entertain a dread of fresh revolutions, and with good reason.


In the year of the Congress of Carlsbad, the Propaganda menaced the kingdoms of Europe with a fresh revolution. Let us observe accurately their situation in 1820. Towards the south there was the insurrection of Spain and the Cortes, and the proclamation of a government more liberal than even that of England; at Naples, almost by a magical echo, the constitution was also proclaimed; from Naples the cry of liberty was heard in Piémont, and the king was deprived of his throne. In Paris the disturbances were so great that the government was exposed every evening to a change in its political system. This year of 1820 might be considered as the first edition of the stupendous event of July, which took place ten years later with all the fracas of an insurrection.

Austria was particularly endangered by these revolutions, for the extremities of the kingdom of Naples and Piémont came in close contact with her Italian possessions. The people had declared themselves; the sovereigns then became aware of the danger, and roused themselves for their defence; congresses were held at Troppau and at Laybach, and Metternich, without hesitation, urged the adoption of powerful measures to quell the revolutionary spirit now manifested; he was so deeply convinced of their indispensable necessity, that he opposed every kind of delay, and only required the moral support of Prussia and Russia, declaring at once that an Austrian army was about to march into Italy and occupy Naples and Piémont. The Emperor Alexander, whose mind was full of the dread of secret societies and plots in Europe, lent his support to Metternich. There was but one single instance of opposition with regard to Piémont, and it is known from whence proceeded these objections. To such a degree has history been disfigured! It proceeded from the dignity of[47] Louis XVIII., and the despatches of the Duc de Richelieu and M. Pasquier. The revolutionary spirit was breaking out in the streets of Paris in 1820, and the restored sovereign declared to Metternich, that if the Austrian army entered Piémont their occupation could not be of long continuance, as France could not allow of the Austrians upon the Alps.

In this wrestling, to use the old expression of M. Bignon, the cabinets had the advantage over the people. Naples was overcome in a few marches, and Piémont was occupied by the Austrian troops. The repressive impulse being once given, a combined system was every where manifested with the design of suspending political liberty. War was declared by the cabinets against all forms of government which owed their birth to military excitement or to an exclusively revolutionary spirit. Metternich was present at the Congress of Verona, a meeting which appears to me to have been the final expression of the will of Europe regarding the spirit of insurrection. France was charged with the suppression of the Spanish Cortes, as Metternich had executed by force of arms the will of the allied powers against Naples and Piémont. Here the cabinets were again successful, the revolution was completely suppressed, as far as regarded its power of action, and only kept a place in the disordered imagination.

All these acts of government, and all the proclamations which followed the assembly of the Congress, were the especial work of Prince Metternich. The Chancellor of Austria possesses a remarkable flow of language, a pure taste, and a noble manner of expressing his ideas, even in a diplomatic despatch, where the sense is almost always hidden under technical, and, it may be added, heavy modes of speech. To him is owing the style distinguished[48] by the elevation of ideas, which always appeals to posterity and to the justice of future times, from the opinion formed by contemporary passions. He even allows himself to be carried on too far by his anxiety to express his meaning, and by the literary ornament he is desirous of conferring upon the most trifling despatch that leaves his cabinet; he takes the principal part in their composition, he writes in French with extreme elegance and precision, and he reads all the newspapers regularly, even to the part which contains merely literary and theatrical critiques. Those who saw him in 1825, when the unfortunate illness of his wife obliged him to visit Paris, were surprised to find him possessed of the most exquisite literary taste. He was acquainted with all our good authors, and shewed remarkable sagacity in the judgment he formed of the writers of our own times. One could hardly imagine how a politician, whose life had been spent in affairs of so much importance, could have found time to study the most trifling productions of literature.

Affairs were now settled in Europe. The governments began to emerge a little from the undecided political condition proclaimed by the Holy Alliance. From the beginning of the year 1827, Metternich had felt some uneasiness concerning the proceedings of Russia with regard to the Ottoman Porte, which was likely to be productive of extreme danger to the Austrian influence. If the Russian projects were realised, Austria would see herself deprived of her ascendancy over the Porte, which was nearly as old as that of France. At this time Metternich caused the French ministry to be sounded, but he was hardly listened to, for the most decided negotiations were in progress between the three cabinets of Russia, London, and Paris, on the Greek question; and[49] here it is well to explain the refusal of Metternich to interfere with the transactions which led to the treaty of July 1827.

Since the year 1824, the cause of the Greeks had assumed a degree of consistency and a European character. Every era has its policy of sentiments, and people were now infatuated with a classic fanaticism for the Greeks. No doubt there was something glorious in the heroism which strove to burst the chain of the barbarians; but the enthusiastic declarations of Russia, her strong and pressing despatches in favour of the Greeks, were, in their main object, less the expression of a religious sympathy than the proceedings of a skilful policy, which sought to abase the Ottoman Porte, in order subsequently to reduce it into a state of vassalage. Russia, therefore, applied to Charles X., by speaking of the cross which had brought salvation to the world. In England it roused into action the Greek committee, and it was under the influence of these philanthropic prepossessions that the treaty of July 1827, and the battle of Navarino, which was the consequence of it, led to serious uneasiness on the part of Metternich. This minister instantly divined the full consequences of this shortsighted policy. The battle of Navarino, by crippling the power of the Porte, killed it, in a political sense, for the advantage of Russia: it was the prelude to the campaign of 1828 to the Balkan. Russia had succeeded in getting M. de la Ferronays placed at the head of foreign affairs in France: he was an honest man, but rather Russian in his inclinations and habits; consequently, Metternich could not draw France into a scheme of confederation and armed league against Russia. He was more fortunate in England with the Duke of Wellington, who acknowledged the mistake into which Mr. Canning had fallen, and pronounced the[50] battle of Navarino an untoward event. England had thus returned to a perfect understanding of which were her real interests.

People may ask, why did not Metternich at this time decide upon war? how came it that he did not at once take part with the Ottoman Porte? It was in consequence of the fixed system of the Austrian chancellor; he has gained every thing through peace. The conquests of Austria are owing to her pacific principles—to the species of armed neutrality which is always ready at the proper moment to obtain some advantage. A war would have compromised its general position in Europe. Being on good terms with England, and in concert with that nation, the Austrian cabinet stayed the victory; it was gaining something during the Russian expedition of 1829, but it was not enough.

During this time events were advancing in France towards an unavoidable crisis; the ministry of M. de Polignac had just been formed. Under a merely political point of view, this was an advantage for Austria, for the Russian system had been abandoned, and they had entered into all the English ideas concerning the Eastern question; still a mind possessed of so much penetration could not fail to entertain great anxiety while watching so earnest a struggle between the political powers in a country like France, which had been accustomed to give an impulse to the rest of Europe. It is said that Metternich advised a coup-d'état: does this idea evince an acquaintance with the spirit of moderation and the capacity of the prime minister of Austria? A coup-d'état is too decided and too noisy a step ever to enter into the mind of Prince Metternich: when a difficult situation occurs, he does not attack it in front—he turns it; and, when he shews himself very determined in a strong and firm resolution, it is because people's minds are[51] already made up, and there is no longer any risk in having recourse to it. The Chancellor of the Empire was too well aware of the folly of M. de Polignac, and of the want of firmness of Charles X., to be ignorant that they were incapable of conducting a perilous undertaking to a prosperous termination. In the Foreign Office there is a despatch on this subject from M. de Rayneval, then ambassador at Vienna, who details one of his conversations with Prince Metternich, precisely upon these coups-d'état; it was much the subject of conversation at Vienna, and the uneasiness entertained concerning the system followed by M. de Polignac is revealed in more than one despatch addressed to M. d'Appony, the Austrian ambassador at Paris.

Then broke out the revolution of July, an event of prodigious importance. Europe had never been in so much danger; for what were the ideas that led to the eruption? Was it not the spirit of the secret societies?—republicanism again triumphant in France, the country which, for the last forty years, had been accustomed to give the general impulse to continental Europe? The Propaganda principles had for their leader that old and obstinate spirit, General Lafayette, who again went to make an appeal to the independence of the people, as he had done in 1792. A few Frenchmen, and the tricoloured flag displayed every where, might have caused a general conflagration. What was to be done? A young, ardent, and inexperienced minister would, perhaps, have engaged in a war; what a happiness it was for the friends of peace that Prussia was governed by a wise king, whose mind was rendered moderate by age, and Austria by a minister who had witnessed so many storms without being frightened by them! One of the principal traits of Metternich's character is his perfect freedom from prejudice, either against or in favour of[52] persons or events, so that he forms a judgment of them all with a degree of superiority. He therefore awaited the event of the revolution in a posture of defence; Austria merely held herself in readiness, and military precautions, combined with the renewal of political alliances, enabled her to oppose a barrier to all the invasions of a revolutionary spirit. This moderation was carried so far, that, as soon as a regular government was established in France, Metternich hastened to recognise it, without expressing either dislike or predilection, solely upon the principle that a regular government is always a protection to order and public peace. Since this time, Metternich has appeared to follow three rules of conduct, which govern the whole tenour of his political life. First, to enter into a close alliance with Russia and Austria for the suppression of all disturbances in Europe, and, consequently, to renew all the military contracts entered into at Chaumont in 1814, and Vienna in 1815; secondly, to combat the spirit of Propaganda, under whatever form it may appear; and this was a very laborious task, for the revolution of July had not only dispersed mischievous principles in Europe, but its money, its emissaries, its flag, and its hopes, had been circulated in every direction; and, thirdly, the Propaganda spirit having been every where diffused, Metternich had felt the necessity of augmenting both the military forces of Austria, and also her vigorous police establishment. The executive government has every where become more severe, because it was exposed to more danger. Liberty has sometimes been confounded with a revolutionary spirit in the system of strict repression that has been adopted; and it was unavoidable, perhaps, even necessary, in the complete overthrow of every thing that had been contemplated.

The empire of Austria is composed of so many different[53] nations, that political unity would be as impossible in that empire as in the Russian, which extends over the half of two hemispheres. All that can be looked for is liberty in their local constitutions, and in establishments quite in accordance with the spirit of the States, and more especially with their situation with regard to the Austrian government. The most prejudiced people agree that no country can be more peaceably governed than the hereditary states; the other provinces which have been successively attached to it require more active precautions and a more watchful police; but civil liberty, which is, indeed, the first of all, is even there complete and entire. Let us not exaggerate; I do not propose the Austrian government as a model—I am too great an admirer of liberty and of the institutions of my country not to remain deeply attached to them, but I also give their due to the manners and customs of the people; and we well know that there are some countries that require to be governed, because they are utterly incapable of governing themselves. When travelling in Italy, I have often asked myself whether all these nations, indolently at variance with each other, who possess more genius than national vigour, more liveliness and intelligence than strength and reason, could ever aspire to a laborious liberty under the dominion of the greatly extolled Unity, which must have been obtained sword in hand—in fact, if this rich and lovely Italy, like a charming coquette, was not under the necessity of submitting to the rule of some one, because she has not sufficient energy to master either her love or her hatred.

The administration of Prince Metternich appears to be deeply imbued with this sentiment, which has been severely put to the proof by him, that if civil liberty is necessary to all, political liberty is only desirable for a few, so far as it does not affect the character and the[54] safety of government. Protection should be granted to talent, but it ought to be serious talent, which will not evaporate in pamphlets; improvement, no doubt, is desirable, but it should take place without turbulence. The house of Austria has a great dread of noise, she is afraid of being talked of; never striving after éclat or clamorous liberty, she resembles those German professors who amass a store of erudition and science in some dusty corner of the university, and who only publish a few scarce copies of their works for the use of the learned.

The private life of Prince Metternich has been repeatedly visited with domestic affliction. Mourning has darkened his dwelling, and the distractions of the busy world have not always been able to mitigate his grief. In private society his manners are affable, and he enjoys the repose of home after the fatigues of his vast ministerial duties. A clever writer has observed that he spends great part of his time in conversation; it is a propensity indulged in by men who have seen every thing—they take pleasure in talking history in their fireside conversations, which are carefully preserved by their auditors. And who has not listened with delight to M. Talleyrand, when he used to give vent to his recollections? Prince Metternich has written long and curious memoirs, full of justificatory notes, for he considers himself at the bar of posterity. His work is a great one, and, as I said at the commencement of this sketch, all the glory and all the responsibility of it will rest with him. When we look back upon what Austria was after the peace of Presburg, and that we contemplate her now, greater than she had ever been, with her public credit, her ascendancy among the European states, the peace and the government of her provinces, her civil and military organisation, and then consider that all this is the work of one minister, who has governed[55] the empire for the last thirty years, we may easily form an idea of some of the judgments of posterity. We are ourselves surrounded by ruins, both of men and things; government, administration, ministry, every thing, has fallen to pieces, and when, from the midst of the wreck the revolutions have brought upon us, we turn our eyes upon a countenance which has remained unmoved among all the ravages of time, it appears as if it did not belong to the present period; we look back upon Richelieu, upon those ministers who laid down a system, and then carried it onward to its completion.

Prince Metternich has reached an advanced age, yet he preserves all his faculties perfectly, with a ready wit that is admirable, and a freshness of recollection, which turns with extreme pleasure to the time of the French Empire and his embassy to Paris during the reign of Napoleon. We have all some favourite period of our lives, and we love particularly to dwell upon the days of our youth, before the illusions which charmed us had entirely faded away. He always speaks with great respect of the Emperor Napoleon, whose noble countenance exercised an unspeakable influence over his future life. Wherever that great genius passed, it left an indelible impression; and it was by the desire of Metternich that the remains of the Duke de Reichstadt were placed beside those of Maria Theresa and Francis II. in the vault of the Capuchin Church. It is a fine idea of the emperors of Austria to choose their last abode in the church of the most lowly of religious orders, to humble their greatness before the poorest brethren of the Christian church. The Capuchins have every thing in common, among them there is no property, no distinction between mine and thine. Babœuf was only a plagiary from them without the moral idea of heaven, which purifies and sanctifies every thing.


The house of Austria is accustomed to be governed by old ministers, and its traditionary spirit takes pleasure in it. In politics it is often better to do well than to do a great deal, to act after due deliberation than to act hastily, and then return to deliberate. Prince Metternich is not an enemy to any form of government that has order for its basis; and this offers an explanation of his conduct since the revolution. When the Propaganda was heard every where, he decided strongly in favour of war, and his expression to the French ambassador at Vienna is well known: "If we must perish, it is just as well to die of apoplexy as to be suffocated with a slow fire; we will declare for war."

The wisdom of the French government, its salutary repression of every Propaganda spirit, maintained peace. Since that period the Austrian minister, in all questions of any importance, has preserved the position of an armed mediator, with the invariable desire of preserving peace, and what he terms the European status quo. He does not consider the present time requires agitation, war, or conquest. According to him, it is a season of organisation, and, by the position he gives to his monarchy, he holds the balance even, so as to prevent any conflict between the north and south of Europe. He said to me wittily one day: "I am, to a certain degree, the confessor of all the cabinets; I give absolution to those who have committed the fewest sins, and I thus maintain peace in their souls."

In this situation it is easier for Metternich to employ himself in particular improvements. Austria is in a remarkable state of prosperity; we ought to be proud of our France, and it undoubtedly is a fine country, but, with our national pride, we form singular ideas upon the state of other people; and yet, among them also, we may every where observe signs of very forward civilisation,[57] commerce, industry, railroads, with pleasing and kind hospitality, all are to be met with in the Austrian states; without speaking of the intellectual movement more sober, and as far advanced as in our country of little romances, novels, theatrical, and literary critiques.

Men who like to bring circumstances together have sometimes instituted a comparison between Prince Metternich and Prince Kaunitz, who was so long at the head of the Austrian government. Although these parallels are always rather arbitrary, and that the different shades in the human character are innumerable, we may safely affirm in this instance, that there never existed two minds more completely opposed to each other; the only point of resemblance consists in the duration of their administration. Prince Kaunitz, altogether weakened by the ideas of the eighteenth century, allowed the Austrian empire to degenerate into a state of supineness and indolence. Prince Metternich, on the contrary, has reconstructed and consolidated this monarchy; he has retained nothing of Prince Kaunitz's system, except its extreme moderation, and the traditions of status quo, adopted after the great reign of Maria Theresa. After Metternich, will Austria follow a different system? Will the statesman that appears likely to succeed him adopt a less prudent and more advanced plan? We do not believe it. It is in Austria with the ministers as with the heirs of the throne in England; before their accession they aim at popularity, and, when once at the head of the government, they continue the proceedings of the former reign, because reason and experience are of some value, and that the magnificent part of Austria is to place itself as an idea of pacification between empires which would strike against each other with too much violence.



One of the torments of a statesman who has played a great part in politics is to see his conduct subjected to the judgment of ignoble minds and the discussions of people incapable of forming a just estimate of it. How much has been written concerning M. de Talleyrand! how many bons mots, and how many rude sayings have been attributed to him! His biography has been made a sort of Ana, for the amusement of idle people; he has been represented as a kind of facetious personage, almost a mountebank, abounding in all the little wit of society, and of provincial towns. Few men have pierced through the mysteries of that long existence; still fewer have read in the wrinkles of this old man, and in his eyes, still sparkling under his slightly contracted brows, the secret thoughts, the powerful motives that swayed his life, which was one of unity and system.

If you have ever travelled in the southern part of France, you must have lingered in the Périgord, the[59] province which still comprehends the best and the most numerous nobility of very ancient descent in the whole kingdom. There you will on every side meet with memorials of the Bosons and the Talleyrands, the sovereign princes of the province of Quercy: the keepers of the old records will recount to you the exploits of the Bosons of Périgord, under the Wolf dukes during the Carlovingian dynasty, who received this name from their wild exploits in the forests. The families of Talleyrand and Montesquiou-Fezensac disputed with each other the precedence over all the southern nobility. M. de Talleyrand sprang from the younger branch of the Grignols, who were of the stock of André de Talleyrand, Comte de Grignols, the youngest branch of the Périgord family; the eldest branch became extinct upon the death of Marie Francoise, Princess of Chalais, and Marchioness of Exideuil.[8]

I have been particular in dwelling upon the high nobility of his origin, because it greatly assisted his position in diplomatic affairs. Noble birth, however people may declaim against it, facilitates negotiations with European powers. Be it a weakness, be it a habit, when a man takes his place as a titled nobleman, among so many foreigners of illustrious birth, it is an advantage to his position; he treats on a footing of equality, he obtains more because he is among his peers, misfortune does not upset him, because he preserves his name in spite of every thing; he cannot be degraded, for revolutions no more deprive him of the nobility of his race, than the royal confiscations that formerly took place could destroy the old family coat-of-arms.


Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord was born at Paris in the year 1754; his maternal grandmother was the clever and witty Princess des Ursins, that eminent person who directed the councils of Philip V. of Spain, as her friend Madame de Maintenon governed the mind of Louis XIV. M. de Talleyrand, being the youngest of the family, was intended for holy orders, according to the custom of the nobility, who devoted themselves to the profession of arms, to the church, or the manor; an active life was necessary to men of family. There had always been a high prelate of the house of Talleyrand, and this ecclesiastical dignity was intended for the young Abbé of Périgord, who was accordingly sent at the age of fourteen to the seminary of Saint-Sulpice. One ought to have heard Talleyrand himself, in his hours of gaiety and unreserve, recount the pranks and first love-affair of the young abbé; his scaling the walls, his visits to the roof of the house,—all of them things little suitable to the serious profession for which he was intended by his family. I think that in reading his Memoirs in the year 1827-28, at which time he was out of favour, he made some concessions to the little philosophers of the eighteenth century, who surrounded him under the Restoration.

His ecclesiastical studies were limited; he occupied himself but little with theology, but already very much with business. The situation of general agent for the clergy was given him by the custom of his family, which was a very lucrative appointment, for he might be considered as the chargé d'affaires of that great body, and he exhibited great method and remarkable judgment in the skilful application of the revenues of the church, which amounted to above one hundred and thirty-six millions of livres. The clergy met in a chapter every year, and the Abbé de Talleyrand gave an account of their[61] revenues, of the steps he had taken, and the duties he had performed with regard to the court; his reports are remarkably exact, with a clearness of style that is very uncommon.

At the age of five-and-thirty, after having attained the majority required by the Church, he was raised to the bishopric of Autun,—a fine appointment, which would afterwards lead to the archbishopric of Rheims and a cardinal's hat. The revenue of the see amounted to 60,000 francs, a magnificent situation for a young bishop, but such was the custom of the nobility; nevertheless, the bent of his inclinations led him to belong to the philosophical society, and the followers of the English school, which began to appear upon the horizon in 1789; among these were Mirabeau, Cabanis, Lally-Tollendal, and Mounier, in fact all the men who were dreaming of a reform in France. People said wittily that M. de Talleyrand, bishop of Autun, with his prebend and his bishopric, looked upon himself as an abuse. At this time people were animated with a glorious passion for suppressing themselves; and when one recollects that the proposal to abolish the titles of nobility was made by De Montmorency, De Montesquiou, La Rochefoucauld, De Talleyrand, and Clermont-Tonnerre, those illustrious elders of the French nobility, one must honestly confess that an incomprehensible spirit of vertigo had taken possession of the French society. There was in this something so insane, so eccentric, that I imagine the ancient nobility must have been led by an interested motive towards the suppression of titles: during the last three centuries so many patents of nobility had been conferred, that the really illustrious families were no longer distinguished: there were too many titled plebeians. Now, if all titles were abolished by a decree, all this nobility of a modern date would be entirely suppressed,[62] for it depended solely upon royal grants and letters patent written according to the caprice of the sovereign; whilst those who bore a historical name, as the Rochefoucaulds, the Montmorencys, and the Montesquious, had no need of deeds to prove their genealogy; it was part of the soil.

The Abbé de Talleyrand was in possession of his rich bishopric of Autun when the States-General were convened, and he was appointed deputy of the clergy of his diocese to the Constituent Assembly, so remarkable from its adventurous spirit, the boldness of its conceptions, and its total want of connexion, and absence of all kind of unity or method, either moral or political. The Constituent Assembly was a great chaos, where the opinions of men of talent clashed with each other, where all sorts of extravagances were proposed in the executive government, and all the ideas most fitted to overturn the monarchy and the society of France were encouraged; Rousseau's social contract was applied to a people already old in its customs and civilisation.

The Bishop of Autun shewed himself the most zealous protector of all these innovations; he proposed the abolition of titles, and vehemently advocated the civil constitution of the clergy; he also introduced into the public system of education all the ideas of false and mischievous philosophy which the eighteenth century had diffused in human minds. Along with the Marquis of Condorcet, and Cabanis, he was one of the adepts, and of the friends of Mirabeau, whom that statesman and popular orator used to employ for the furtherance of the interests of his intellectual dictatorship. They were accustomed to meet in the evening at Mirabeau's house, to prepare the projects which would resound the next day from the tribune of the assembly. Without being very well educated, the Bishop of Autun was[63] gifted with an extremely fluent style, and a mode of expression remarkable for its clearness, and its elegant precision: the ancient high nobility certainly always possessed great natural talents; they had but little information, and yet they were eminently gifted with the power of expressing what they wished to say.

The solemn festival of the confederation took place at this period, a singular proceeding of which the spirit has been greatly misrepresented: it was theatrical, for such is always necessary in France. In the Champ de Mars an altar was erected, surmounted by tricoloured flags, upon a scaffolding fifty feet high, ornamented with ribands, also of the national colours. Then came M. de Lafayette, at that time a very handsome man, with his courteous and somewhat hypocritical countenance beaming with smiles, mounted upon his snow-white, slender, prancing steed, and wearing the uniform of the National Guard with long skirts and a three-cornered hat on his head, as it was the fashion at the time of the American War. He was then trying on his royal dignity. Around him crowded the deputations from the Departments with their flags; there were many drunken people, as it was natural there should be, and others tired with having wheeled earth from the Champ de Mars; and there was a plentiful exchange of kisses and embraces, according to the system so approved by Lamourette. At the foot of the altar of which I have spoken appeared M. de Talleyrand, bishop of Autun, dressed in his pontifical habits, his mitre on his head, a crosier in his hand, and with manners as elegant, as much refinement, and as studiously dignified a demeanour, as he afterwards discovered when carrying his crutch stick into the assembly of the corps diplomatique: kneeling beside him was the Abbé Louis (afterwards[64] Minister of Finance) one of the curates, in his alb and surplice.

The mass was celebrated with due solemnity by the Bishop of Autun; but there is a tradition which, for the honour and character of Talleyrand, we will believe to be unfounded, that when Mirabeau passed beside the altar the officiating pontiff addressed to him some expressions of mockery and irreligion, which must have weighed heavily upon his conscience on his death-bed. There are, unfortunately, seasons of youth and evil passions, when people give way to anti-Christian ideas, and at that time a degree of impiety was the fashion. Was it not then considered good taste to ridicule the holy and noble ceremonies of the Catholic religion? Talleyrand took a part in all the anti-religious proceedings of the Constituent Assembly upon the situation of the clergy in France, and he was commissioned to apply the civil constitution to his diocese, but the powerful opposition of his clergy did not permit him to accomplish his purpose, for the greater part of the parish priests refused to take the oath. He was present at the consecration of the first constitutional bishops, and, if this devoted conduct was considered deserving of praise by the assembly, it was regarded in a very different light elsewhere, and drew upon him the excommunication of the holy see. Pope Pius VI. published a bull against the Bishop of Autun, in which he declared him out of the pale of the Church, for having become an adherent of the civil constitution of the clergy. This step needs no explanation, such a constitution being in its very essence subversive of all Catholic faith. It was a work of the ultra-Jansenist party, and so thoroughly overstepped all the established rules, that it allowed the Jews and Protestants belonging to various districts and corporations[65] to participate in the election of the Catholic clergy. A bishop or a schoolmaster was appointed in the same manner that a deputy was elected for the National Assembly, for the whole electoral body discharged their duties in the same manner. An absurd principle of equality had levelled every thing; the people appointed the mayors, the bishops, the parish priests, the deputies, and the municipal officers. It was disorder in equality; the levelling principle had trampled down society.

Talleyrand was the intimate friend of Mirabeau, or, to speak with more precision, the great tribune made a tool of him. They had lived together, and together had prepared their works for the Assembly. The popular orator had just been attacked by the mortal disease which carried him off in so rapid and mysterious a manner, and the Bishop of Autun was present when his friend breathed his last. It was not as a ghostly comforter affording him the consolations of his ministry, it was not as a Catholic bishop pointing to a world beyond the grave when those eloquent lips were about to be sealed in death; M. de Talleyrand sat by the bedside of the dying man as the depository of his last thoughts and of his political labours, which led to the destruction of the monarchy. Mirabeau had committed to writing a work upon the equal division of inheritance among the different members of a family, and on the right of making testamentary dispositions, it being the object of the Revolutionists to overturn civil rights as they had already destroyed political ones, because it was well known they were intimately connected. The Bishop of Autun undertook to read the discourse of Mirabeau in the name of his friend at the National Assembly, and excited the most lively enthusiasm while repeating the last words of the orator whose career was now at an end.[66] The life of Mirabeau had been, in some respects, the reaction of a mind filled with strong passions against the persecutions he had endured as a son from the hand of a severe and inflexible father, and his discourse upon limiting the right of making a will and on the equal division of inheritance affords the most certain proof of it. The gift of eloquence was held in the most enthusiastic estimation by the Constituent Assembly, it resolved the greatest part of its business into brilliant oratorical theories, resting upon the ideas of demolition, which were the offspring of the eighteenth century, and as Talleyrand had some difficulty in ascending the tribune, he played but a secondary part at that time. He excited attention principally by his management of business and by his assiduous attendance on committees; it does not appear that he had attained, even at this period, to the reputation of taciturn ability enjoyed by the Abbé Siéyès, and I seldom meet with his name in important and brilliant discussions.

When the Constituent Assembly had concluded their work, Talleyrand quitted France for England. M. de Chauvelin was ambassador there from the unfortunate Louis XVI., and the Bishop of Autun received a commission, of which the object was to draw the two governments of France and England into a nearer resemblance to each other, by establishing a system of two legislative chambers exactly upon the model of the English houses of parliament. There was already some idea of a revolution like that of 1688, and Talleyrand might serve as an agent for the attempt, for there was a good understanding between him and M. de Chauvelin, and a still better between him and the clubs of England. But opinions travelled too fast to allow proper consideration being given to the due balance of power, and the sovereignty of the people had given rise to the scheme of[67] a single chamber. Diplomatic business now went on in a singular manner; instead of the clever and prudent system, which since the commencement of the reign of Louis XVI. had secured so many advantages to France, so many favourable treaties, so many important annexations of territory, the diplomatic corps now amused themselves in encouraging the propaganda and spreading every where the spirit of Jacobinism. M. de Talleyrand had some interviews with the principal leaders of the Whigs, and his intimacy with Earl Grey began from this date. Shortly after this, being concerned in the intrigues of Danton, he returned to Paris on the 11th of August, and he always took pleasure in saying that his not having perished on the 2d of September was owing to the efforts of that singularly energetic man, as well as his having been able to obtain a passport for England.

As the course of events was progressing towards war, and that the trial of Louis XVI. was considered by the Tories as a total subversion of every thing, Talleyrand received an order to quit Great Britain in virtue of the alien act, and was only allowed twenty-four hours to make his arrangements. In the year 1793 people were in the midst of revolutionary excitements; he, therefore, did not return to France, but embarked for the United States, the country that was then pointed out as a model, a pattern government, which the republican party in the Legislative Assembly always cited as the most perfect that political ideas could conceive, and which M. de la Fayette never ceased to extol. At that time two schools prevailed, the American system and the revolution of 1688, both of which have been since renewed and perpetuated both in men and events.

Talleyrand settled in the United States, and during some years he devoted himself to commerce, and engaged[68] in speculations with a considerable degree of activity. There always was something adventurous and bold in his disposition in money matters; to use a familiar expression, no one ever made his fortune oftener than M. de Talleyrand, without being particularly scrupulous as to the means he employed. His property in France was sequestered, it was, therefore, with very limited funds that he commenced his mercantile operations in the United States; and it was certainly singular enough to see a bishop of 1789, afterwards a popular orator, then a secret diplomatist acting as a spy for a party of the National Assembly, finally transforming himself into a merchant in a counting-house at Boston or New York. The shades of the ancient Bosons of Périgord, those great feudal barons, must have been horrified and have indignantly grasped their lances and their coats of arms when they contemplated their descendant seated amid bales of cotton in a republic of shopkeepers. In this manner do revolutions take hold of a man's destiny, play with it, and raise and abase it by turns; but the nobility had already accustomed France to still more extraordinary courses: had not men of noble birth in Brittany and Gascony become freebooters and buccaneers under Henry IV., Louis XIII., and Louis XIV.?

A commercial profession in a country so distant from important events did not suit Talleyrand's inclination, and when order was a little restored, he lost no time in soliciting permission to return to France, the scene of his earliest days. He had left many friends there, among the partisans of what was called the moderate republic and constitutional system; such were Chenier and Madame de Staël, belonging to the literary and philosophical portion of society under the Directory, who had regained some degree of importance after the[69] Reign of Terror was past, for in calmer times the different shades of a party become more evident.

It was particularly to the earnest solicitations of Madame de Staël that Talleyrand owed his return, and we know that her influence was at that time very great. Chenier undertook the report, and a decree was passed revoking the rigorous measures that had been adopted in 1793 against the late Bishop of Autun; it was also declared that he had not emigrated. Talleyrand had at that time entirely left off the ecclesiastical habit, and appeared every where as a layman. He enjoyed in the world a great reputation for wit and talent; there was something noble in his countenance, without its being exactly striking; he carried his head remarkably well, and his hair fell in curls upon his shoulders. He was no longer a young man, still his reputation for gallantry and for agreeableness in society had procured for him a great ascendancy over some women of that period, in the midst of that most singular society in the time of Barras and the Directory, in which were jumbled together men of high rank, contractors, renowned characters, and courtesans. Talleyrand had brought with him Madame Grand, with whom he had become acquainted at Hamburg, and, by a whimsical contrast, it was said no woman ever was possessed of less sense or less intelligence. We know how many capital stories were told of her in the Fauxbourg St. Germain, of which even the republic was so much afraid. The reason is, that the spirit of good society possesses great influence at the time that a bad state of society prevails. Jests were uttered, and the most charming naïvetés were attributed to Madame Talleyrand, of which that regarding M. Denon and Robinson Crusoe is, perhaps, the most inimitable.

As soon as he arrived in Paris, Talleyrand joined the[70] Constitutional Club, which used to meet at the Hôtel de Salm. Many thinking people saw the republic was gradually coming to an end, it had then but very little root in France. It was no longer possible to maintain a feeble and violent democracy, which gave way to the most fantastic and extraordinary paroxysms in the public assembly; people returned to the system of the balance of power, and to the English ideas that the school of Mounier and Lally-Tollendal had been desirous of rendering prevalent in the Constituent Assembly, and that Talleyrand had been commissioned to represent in London, in his secret mission, in which, as I before observed, there was mingled some idea of a revolution like that of 1688.

The institution of an executive directory had been the first step towards an oligarchic system, where, in default of an unity of power, a centre of action, reduced to five persons, had been established. Talleyrand applied all his credit to the support of the Directory, for, not being strong enough at that time to resist or to try to overturn the government, his only object was to draw some advantage from it. He refused steadily to join the royalist party, which, before the 18th Fructidor, was preparing the downfall of the Directory; still less would he belong to the Jacobin faction, for which he felt a strong antipathy, on account of its construction and its inclinations; accordingly, when the 18th Fructidor burst over France, with the proscription of the councils and the press, he was appointed to the ministry for foreign affairs; and the Moniteur announced that citizen Talleyrand, devoted to the interests of the republic, was about to give a powerful impulse to our relations with foreign powers. To accept office under a republic was a singular employment for the heir of the Bosons of Périgord; but then was not the heir of the Barras, a family as old as[71] the rocks of Provence, the chief of the five directors? A curious history might be written by following the career of the old nobility during the French revolution; they assumed the position that men of gentle blood had done in former times during civil disturbances, every thing adventurous suited the younger branches of a noble family.

We must now consider what was the state of France with regard to foreign affairs. The Directory was at war with Austria, Russia, and England; Belgium was ours, we occupied part of Italy, and the rest was transformed into little republics, after the model of the executive directory; for there was at that time, as during all revolutions, a great propaganda mania. Money was the principal instrument of the Directory, every thing was accomplished by means of bribery, and people made haste to achieve a fortune, that they might afterwards spend it in miserable debauchery. When a negotiation was opened with a foreign power, the first step was to impose contributions, and to demand secret presents; and the minister for foreign affairs was a sort of agent commissioned to receive all this spolia opima, which afterwards went to fatten the friends of Barras and Siéyès, or some women who invaded the saloons of the Luxembourg, and presided over their sensual rites. It was a time when modesty was banished; the state of society resembled the Greek courtesans of the Directory, who, while they almost dispensed with clothing, covered even their feet with precious stones. Talleyrand began afresh to work at his fortune, but, no doubt, he manœuvred with too little discretion, for at the end of some months he was openly denounced by Charles de Lacroix, and was obliged to give in his resignation, after having published a rather curious pamphlet, which I have succeeded in obtaining; it bears the name of "Eclaircissements."[72] A pamphlet written by him is a very rare book, for he has written very little in the course of his life. This little work contains an exposition of the conduct of Citizen Talleyrand, from the time of the Constituent Assembly to his appointment to the ministry for foreign affairs, and is couched in very moderate language. The ex-minister replies to his calumniators with remarkable clearness and simplicity, appealing to the testimony afforded by the past, during the whole course of his life. This pamphlet excited a vast controversy. Citizen Talleyrand was also impeached as an extortioner from the tribune of the Five Hundred, even by Lucien Buonaparte, and he was overwhelmed under the evidence produced against him, with the view of applying the principle of ministerial responsibility to his case. He had great difficulty in escaping from this unpleasant situation, in which he had been placed by rather too much avidity during his ministry for foreign affairs. I must confess, one of the defects of his character was his public indifference to all charges brought against him with regard to money; it often compromised his reputation, and sometimes placed him in a very awkward situation.

Having quarrelled with the Directory, we now find him working with all his might for the establishment of the consular government. Buonaparte had surrounded himself on his return from Egypt with all the men who possessed any political talent or any idea of order in society, and he did not disdain the extensive abilities of M. de Talleyrand. The Abbé Siéyès had no predilection for the Bishop of Autun; there was an angry feeling between them on clerical subjects; but Napoleon required them both, he indulged in no feelings of repugnance when the triumph of his ambition was at stake; he therefore employed them both, each according to his abilities, so as to render them subservient to his[73] designs. The influence of Talleyrand over the constitutional party was not devoid of utility upon the 18th Brumaire, and when the consular government was established, the provisional commission appointed him minister for foreign affairs as a recompense for the service he had rendered, and Buonaparte confirmed him in his situation as soon as he was proclaimed First Consul.

A more extensive field was now open before him; the consular government was founded on a principle of unity, there was no longer in their relations with foreign powers the unrestrained violence exhibited by the National Convention, or the unconnected measures pursued by the Directory. It was possible to negotiate with decency and moderation, the relations of one state to another were assuming a character of regularity they had never possessed under any of the preceding governments, and then commenced the great diplomatic arrangements which were at last to bless Europe with repose.

The glorious commencement of the consulate was distinguished by numerous treaties; at Lunneville peace was concluded with Austria, at Amiens a covenant was made with England; other treaties were succeeded by peace with Russia and the Porte, and in all these negotiations Talleyrand evinced great skill and knowledge of what was proper and advisable. He placed the correspondence between governments upon an excellent footing, keeping aloof from the extravagant system which the agents of the Directory introduced into foreign negotiations during the time of the Carmagnole diplomatists, who levied so many forced contributions upon the pictures, the gold crucifixes, and the little property of the poor in the Mont de Piété.[9]


These treaties were a great assistance to the fortune of Talleyrand, being almost all followed by presents of considerable value, according to the custom observed in negotiations between one state and another.

On these occasions the minister did not exhibit sufficient modesty, I might say, sufficient discretion, for people had a tolerably good idea how much he had gained by each treaty, in money and diamonds. No doubt there was some exaggeration in the charges brought against him by discontented people, but I repeat it, one great defect of M. de Talleyrand was an inclination to play with bribery and corruption, and to establish it as a theoretic principle, even in his conversation: the stain remains upon his name. He held men in too much contempt, and this is a sentiment which society always returns with interest. It was now necessary he should lay the foundation of a new fortune; he entered boldly into various speculations: while avaricious and economical in little things, he gambled in the stocks with a perfect frenzy, and even lost considerable sums of money in them. Immediately after the peace of Amiens he had speculated upon a rise, and his gain appeared almost certain, but it happened by one of those caprices which stock-jobbing can alone explain, that the public funds fell more than ten per cent after the signing of the treaty, and he lost several millions of francs in a single turn of the stocks. These caprices of fortune occurred repeatedly in the course of his long life, and explain the necessity he was constantly under of repairing his fortune.

The late Bishop of Autun had just been entirely restored to secular life by permission of Pope Pius VII. While the negotiation concerning the concordat was in progress, the First Consul insisted M. Portalis should write to Rome, and request a brief from the pope authorising the secularisation of M. de Talleyrand; and[75] the venerable Pius VII., who made so many sacrifices to obtain peace for the Church, consented to the act, though he rather exceeded his powers by so doing, as according to the canon the character of priest is indelible. It is said that this brief was not entirely explicit, the pontiff did not establish a principle permitting the marriage of priests; he merely, in virtue of his discretionary power, granted an act of indulgence and personal pardon to M. de Talleyrand for a deed he had already committed.

The ex-bishop had hardly laid down his crosier before he was compelled to submit to the imperious requisitions of the First Consul. Buonaparte, who piqued himself upon his strict morality, insisted he should enter the state of matrimony—a most grievous yoke to impose upon a man of wit and good taste, for, with his habitual tact, Talleyrand had been well aware of the amusement afforded to the Fauxbourg St. Germain by the silliness and ignorance of Madame Grand, and when she should be legally invested with the title of Citizeness Talleyrand, how she would expose herself to the sarcasms and the ridicule of the aristocracy! But there was no help for it, for the First Consul had decided it should be so. The marriage was accordingly celebrated at the municipality and in the church, and as people expressed it, the Bishop of Autun took to himself a wife.

The ministry of the First Consul now comprehended two men of great importance, Talleyrand and Fouché. The one represented at the court of Buonaparte the ancient aristocracy restored—he was essentially the man of diplomatic forms and traditions; Fouché, on the contrary, was the representative of Jacobinism and the revolutionary principle, which the First Consul considered as an internal malady fatal to his power. A deeply-rooted and continual competition could not fail to[76] arise between two characters who had been led to accept office by such different ideas, and who met in the presence of Napoleon as the expression of such different systems. Both were men of incontestable ability, and were constantly informing against each other, or, at least, keeping a careful watch over the proceedings of their rival colleague; in addition to which, Fouché was very anxious to obtain the direction of Foreign affairs. Buonaparte was perfectly aware of the hatred that existed between them, but he was too wise to sacrifice one of the ministers to the other; each served as a check upon his rival, and he listened to the information they gave him, quite certain that neither would allow the treacherous dealings of the other to escape. It was in this manner Fouché delivered to Buonaparte the minutes of the secret treaty with Paul I., which Talleyrand had communicated to the court of London through the medium of one of his agents. The agent was sacrificed, but Buonaparte did not venture to touch his principal, because there was some danger in making known the treachery. Talleyrand afterwards employed the same agent in several subordinate negotiations; indeed, it is well known that he rather preferred people who were not much incommoded by scruples of conscience, men of whom he could boldly disclaim all knowledge if necessary, and who were content he should do so.

We now come to the lamentable affair of the Duc d'Enghien; and there is not the slightest doubt that Talleyrand was as well acquainted as General Savary with Buonaparte's determination to seize the prince. He denied it in vain, for positive proofs exist of the truth of our assertion; amongst others, his letter to the Baron of Edelsheim, minister of Baden, which has been preserved in an entire state. The following is an extract from it: "The First Consul has considered it necessary[77] to order two detachments to proceed to Offemburg and to Ettenheim, to secure the authors of so odious a crime, which is sufficient to deprive the persons who have been concerned in it of the benefit of the law of nations."

After the arrest of the unfortunate prince, Talleyrand was acquainted with all the proceedings of this horrible affair, and he was present at the privy council where his condemnation was determined upon, or, at least, discussed. I dare not believe the cold and laconic reply attributed to him in the drawing-room of his old friend, the Duchess of ***, the very evening the Duc d'Enghien was tried at Vincennes. This reply was not only an atrocious expression, but it also involved a degree of imprudence which did not make part of his character. It is bad enough to have been concerned even indirectly in so fearful a crime.

In the midst of the active negotiations in which Talleyrand felt obliged to appear and to take a part, was there a political system formed in his mind, or merely a general principle? He still retained a strong bias towards English ideas, and a wish for an alliance with that country. This system, on which his earliest diplomatic plans were based, was constantly in his mind; he had not forgotten his residence in England at the beginning of the French revolution under M. de Chauvelin; he was also intimately connected with the Whig party, and considered Great Britain as the political ally of France against Russia, which last appeared to him, of all the powers in Europe, the most dangerous, as far as the civilisation of the world was concerned. He had not observed that by her situation Russia is our easiest, our most natural, and our most disinterested ally, for France and Russia do not clash either in a political or commercial point of view. But there are some early impressions which never wear out, and Talleyrand had passed[78] some of the best years of his life in England, and on terms of friendship with Lord Grey, Lord Russell, Fox, and Sheridan.

He received the title of Grand Chamberlain at the accession of Napoleon to the throne, for which event his diplomatic correspondence had already prepared Europe, and he had also entered into a solemn justification of it to all the different cabinets. Napoleon liked to be surrounded by people of illustrious birth, and it appeared useful to the brilliancy of his crown to have a Boson de Périgord among the officers of his palace; it was in accordance with his passion for aristocratical honours, and his wish to restore the old state of society. M. de Talleyrand played a great part in the first negotiations with Germany, before and after the peace of Presburg, that peace which effected such a radical change in the political and territorial situation of the German nation. It was he who, with the assistance of M. Reinhard, contrived to bring about the Confederation of the Rhine, which made an end of the predominancy in Germany of the ancient house of Austria. After these negotiations were concluded, he received the title of Prince of Benevento, with a real feudal authority under the protectorate of France, which afforded him a revenue of 150,000 livres per annum, and made with his salary as minister for foreign affairs about 500,000 francs.[10] The peace of Presburg was certainly a most brilliant epoch in his ministry. As the representative of the magnificent military government whose grandeur overshadowed the earth, he assumed a certain degree of majesty in his manners and habits. The Prince of Benevento held a cour plénière for the German electors, who came to request from him a fief, or a portion of his supreme power. At the summit of his greatness, Talleyrand's mind still[79] turned to the English alliance, and when Fox succeeded Pitt at the head of affairs, he again conceived the project of opening negotiations with a view to peace; he was firmly convinced that no general peace could be concluded in Europe without the concurrence of England, and he was desirous a vast system of compensation should be arranged, which might incline her towards pacific measures, for no treaty can be durable that is not based upon equity. But these projects were interrupted by one of the most serious circumstances that occurred in the whole course of his life.

It has been said that Talleyrand retired from office because he did not agree in the opinions of Napoleon regarding the war in Spain. I have deeply studied the question, and I believe this report to be utterly untrue. There is but a slight approximation of dates between his resignation and the treachery of Bayonne; it is this approximation that has been laid hold of to gild the disgrace of the minister. Talleyrand was, in fact, replaced by M. de Champagny a little before the Spanish war, but he took part with the cabinet in all the intrigues which led to the events of Aranjuez. The reunion of the Peninsula in one political system with France agreed well with his historical ideas upon the family compact, and several letters are still in existence from the Prince of Benevento which confirm his participation in all these events, as well as a curious report to the Emperor, demonstrating the advantages that would accrue from reuniting both crowns in his family, in imitation of the grand political scheme of Louis XIV.

The real cause of Talleyrand's disgrace was the active attempts he made to negotiate peace with England independent of Napoleon. The Emperor did not at all like men who acted upon their own opinion; he liked every thing to originate with himself alone. He got rid of[80] Talleyrand as, in succeeding years, he shook off Fouché, minister of police.

There are times when men of consideration are a source of embarrassment, when advisers are no longer required: devoted servants alone are necessary. The Prince of Benevento took advantage of the circumstance, and as the Spanish war was very unpopular, he assumed the attitude of a martyr to his love for peace and moderate measures. He was always clever enough to account for his being out of favour by attributing it to some motive which might secure him a good place in public opinion, and he then profited by his situation to wage an underhand, but murderous war, against the power which had rejected him from its circle of activity. When he was no longer at the head of affairs for the purpose of directing them, he took care to bring up the rear, for the sake of causing hinderance and annoyance. Nevertheless, his dismissal was now covered with a golden mantle; he received the title of vice-grand elector, with the same salary of 500,000 francs, that he enjoyed during his ministry. The activity of his mind led him afresh into commercial pursuits, he gambled in the stocks, became a partner in a banking-house at Hamburg and in Paris, he invested considerable sums of money in the English funds, and awaited patiently the course of events. To know how to wait is a great mark of political knowledge, and it was one of Talleyrand's favourite axioms, that patience often leads to favourable situations: he never would be in a hurry.

A secret opposition was beginning to form against Napoleon, even in the highest ranks, among the heads of the senate, of the government, and of the army. Fearful of yet making itself manifest by any overt act, it only ventured upon apparently trifling remarks and half confidences; but people conspired in their minds, expressions[81] were used, which were repeated as apophthegms and prophecies of society. "It is the beginning of the end," said Talleyrand, at the time of the disastrous expedition to Moscow; and this just appreciation had been warmly applauded. What a terrible opposition is that of the salons and the gay world! It kills with a lingering death, it upsets the strongest ideas, it destroys the best-laid plans; it would be far better to be compelled to engage in a pitched battle face to face. This opposition was gradually increasing, and the police establishment of General Savary, which tended more to the employment of brute force than the adoption of intelligent precautions, was incapable of restraining it; it was gradually appearing on every side, besides which the men who placed themselves at the head of the resisting party were of too much consequence for the Emperor to venture to touch them. Talleyrand and Fouché now did whatever they pleased with perfect impunity—they were acting against the Emperor, and he did not dare to shew his displeasure. It has always been supposed that Napoleon when at the summit of his greatness might have put down any one; yet, great as he was, there were some men too powerful for him. The day that he had touched Talleyrand or Fouché, all the officers of government would have considered themselves at the mercy of a caprice; Cambacérès, Lebrun, Regnault de Saint-Jean d'Angely, feeling themselves henceforth without any security against a master whom they detested, would, perhaps, have shaken off the yoke.

As early as the beginning of the year 1813, Talleyrand had opened a communication with the Bourbons. The venerable Cardinal de Périgord, grand almoner to Louis XVIII., was his uncle, but there was a considerable degree of coolness between them; still it may be easily imagined that it facilitated an exchange of hopes and[82] promises, against the chances of a future restoration to the throne; but all this was done secretly and in strict confidence, as the idea of the restoration was not yet sufficiently matured. Talleyrand had never ceased to maintain a communication through his agents with Louis XVIII., who was himself at that time engaged in a confidential correspondence with all the great officers of the state, even including Cambacérès himself. Paris was filled with these letters, notwithstanding which, Talleyrand was one of the council appointed to assist the regency of Maria Louisa, whom the Emperor had placed at the head of affairs. He always exhibited the greatest interest in all questions relating to the government, he attended assiduously the meetings of the council, and appeared the most zealous of the Emperor's servants: the plan of the regency also was congenial to his mind, and he would have been satisfied with it as a political idea. He still, however, carried on an underhand correspondence with Louis XVIII., who, with his perfect knowledge of mankind, engaged to maintain him in his magnificent position, to which he added a promise that he should be placed at the head of the ministry. As to the regency of Maria Louisa, it involved a project for a closer alliance with Austria, and was suggested by the most able men in the council of Napoleon, who were desirous of exciting dissensions among the allied powers by giving rise to divers interests.

The misfortunes of war had now brought the enemy near the capital; and, as the powers of Napoleon became more feeble, people learned to estimate probabilities with a greater degree of certainty: first the regency, then a provisional government, and, finally, the restoration of the Bourbons. Since the year 1812, all illusion concerning the invincible power of Napoleon was over. The burning of Moscow, the snows which had covered the[83] grand army as with a vast shroud, the conspiracy of Mallet, all had tended to place the imperial power in a tottering condition. The negotiations of Talleyrand began to assume an indescribable boldness; the plenipotentiaries of the allied powers had fixed a congress at Châtillon, more for the sake of appearances than to discuss really diplomatic questions; and M. de Coulaincourt, whose devotion to the Emperor was undoubted, was to propose a treaty determining the limits of France under the government of Napoleon, or the regency of the archduchess. This was the moment selected by Talleyrand to despatch a secret agent to the head-quarters of the Emperor Alexander. This agent, who was, I believe, M. de Vitrolles, was commissioned to describe the condition of the metropolis, the anxiety there was to get rid of Napoleon, and, above all, the imperative necessity there appeared to be for the restoration of the old dynasty, as the only certain step that could be taken under existing circumstances. M. de Vitrolles evinced great zeal and ability in the discharge of this secret mission, which exposed him to extreme danger; he succeeded in conveying to the Emperor Alexander some letters written in cipher, and a very detailed memorial upon the state of the public mind; but—must I confess it?—the allies, who cared but little about the Bourbons, did not perfectly understand the scope of this movement, neither did they know what might be the result. It was then Talleyrand exerted himself to demonstrate that these two ideas, the ancient territory and the ancient dynasty, were correlative; and the same system had been forcibly represented at Châtillon by Lord Castlereagh.

The disaffected party continued to gain strength in Paris. Talleyrand had made friends with several of the senators who still retained some recollections of the Republic,[84] and professed an especial hatred towards Napoleon; such were M. de Lambrechts, Languinais, and Grégoire, and the Prince of Benevento could rely upon their assistance in any rising that might be organised against the empire. At the same time he had collected around himself the Duc de Dalberg, the Abbé de Pradt, and a multitude of Royalist agents, who were in communication with MM. de Noailles, de Fitzjames, and de Montmorency, all engaged in secret machinations for the Bourbons. The time was come when the Empire must terminate—there was so much disaffection among the citizens of Paris and in the provinces. Great precaution was shewn in taking the first steps in favour of the Bourbon restoration, and the greatest secrecy was observed; as soon, therefore, as it was decided, according to the instructions of Napoleon, that the Empress should leave Paris, and establish her regency at Blois, Talleyrand hastened to declare his intention of shewing his zeal by following the regency, it being necessary he should offer a pledge to the imperialist party in order to prevent suspicion, but by a piece of duplicity, perfectly in keeping with his character and position, he apprised the allies of his pretended flight. Accordingly, Prince Schwartzenberg posted a small body of cavalry at the first stage on the road to Blois, which stopped the carriage of Prince Talleyrand, and obliged him to return to Paris, where the wily diplomatist also declared himself compelled by force to remain. By this means he was enabled to place himself as the head and the nucleus of the general rising against the Emperor; his saloon was open to all the disaffected, and he encouraged the idea of Napoleon's downfall in a manner which charmed the hearts of the Republicans; for Buonaparte's violation of the constitution was the only circumstance that appeared to occur to their minds. The ground was well[85] chosen, and Talleyrand worked at his ease and on an extended scale at the ruin of his master; every thing had tended towards it since the year 1812, and the moral strength of the Empire was gone.

Talleyrand's grand intrigue even began in the senate. He well knew the simplicity and the instinctive repugnance felt by Grégoire, Lambrechts, and Languinais, for Napoleon, and he determined they should serve as a pivot for the new order of things. Some of them thought they were making preparations for a regency. Talleyrand promised them constitutional forms and the sovereignty of the people, those old visions of the Republic, and they welcomed all these recollections with ecstasy: there was not much difficulty, certainly, in inducing these second-rate minds to act in concert with him. The patriot party were the first to demand that the Emperor should be deposed; they enumerated all the grievances, upon which they had observed so prudent a silence in the days of his prosperity; they fell upon Napoleon, his forfeiture of the crown was pronounced by the senate in the month of April 1814, and he was thus sacrificed by the party which had obeyed his will with apparent alacrity during the ten years of the Empire. Nothing is so violent or so rancorous in its hatred as an assembly which has long been humbled under a despotic rule: it afterwards takes signal vengeance upon the fallen power.

When the Emperor Alexander entered Paris, Talleyrand's ascendancy over his mind was sufficient to induce him to inhabit the Hôtel de la Rue Saint-Florentin, an unheard-of honour, which gave an undeniable proof of the great estimation in which he was held! The czar occupied the apartments, still to be seen, with the long stone balcony at the extremity of the Rue de Rivoli. It was in the blue drawing-room in this hôtel that the plan of the Restoration was organised, according[86] to the ideas and principles which I have depicted in a work especially devoted to that purpose.[11] Talleyrand's influence over the proceedings of that time was unbounded; he induced the Emperor Alexander to reject all proposals for continuing the regency of Maria Louisa, as well as the loyal endeavours of Marshal Macdonald. He instigated all these refusals, and had adopted a maxim admirable for its clearness and precision, which he took pleasure in repeating as a means of putting a stop to all negotiations. "The restoration of the Bourbons," said he, "is a principle; every thing else is an intrigue." In after years, he forgot none of the services he had rendered to the old dynasty, and, when out of favour under the Restoration, he took pleasure in shewing this blue drawing-room which had been inhabited by the Emperor Alexander, and would repeat in a tone of affected bitterness and ridicule, as if to brand the ingratitude of the Bourbons, "Nevertheless, gentlemen, it was here the Restoration was accomplished." And then he would describe in his admirable manner the proceedings of that time, and point out the spot occupied by each of the party in the month of May 1814. "At the corner of the table," he would say, "sat the Emperor Alexander, there the King of Prussia, and here the Grand Duke Constantine; a little farther off were Pozzo di Borgo, Nesselrode, and Hardenberg—yes, gentlemen, it was here, in this little room, that we restored the throne of the Bourbons, and the monarchy of 1400 years." And this he would repeat with a sardonic smile which marked his dissatisfaction, and perhaps was an index of some future design of overturning what he had so easily raised. When a monarchy has been restored within the narrow limits of a drawing-room, it[87] cannot be supposed to inspire very great confidence. Such was the secret thought of this great contriver of events.

Up to the arrival of Louis XVIII. Talleyrand was at the head of the provisional government; all the responsibility rested with him, and he had cause to reproach himself with many evil actions which were connected with the spirit of that period, for there are seasons when the human mind does not belong to itself; it is hurried on by the rapid course of ideas, it is imbued with a spirit of reaction. Has the mission of M. de Maubreuil ever been perfectly explained? What was its object? Some people will tell you he received no orders, except to prevent the crown diamonds from being carried away; but other accounts tell a very different story, and assert that he was intrusted to perform a deed of blood, similar perhaps to that which had destroyed the last of the Condés. I can positively declare that M. de Maubreuil never had any direct conversation or personal interview with Talleyrand. He took care never to appear in deplorable circumstances of this kind; and all that passed was as follows: One of the confidential secretaries of the minister said to M. de Maubreuil, in perfectly plain language, "This is what the prince requires of you; here is your warrant and a sum of money, and as a proof of what I say, and of his assent, remain in the salon to-day, and he will pass through and bend his head in token of approbation." The sign was made, and M. de Maubreuil considered himself perfectly authorised to undertake the mission. What, I repeat, was its object? The time is hardly yet arrived which makes it allowable to tell and to publish every thing; I judge no man's conduct, I only repeat that there are times when people do not appear to belong to themselves.


On his arrival in Paris, Louis XVIII. appointed Talleyrand prime-minister with the direction of foreign affairs; thus leaving him the supreme charge of all diplomatic negotiations, as a mark of gratitude and a pledge of general peace. A treaty was signed, France returned to her ancient territory and her ancient dynasty, as it had been decided after the events of Paris; all diplomatic questions of general interest were afterwards to be settled in the congress of the allied powers, fixed to take place at Vienna, where Talleyrand was appointed ambassador extraordinary to represent the King of France,—a mission he was certainly fully entitled to expect. In the month of November all the French legation arrived at Vienna, and the ambassador displayed great activity. It was necessary to place France in a favourable position, which was very difficult after all the wars and the disasters she had had to encounter; and we must do justice to the great abilities and exertions of Prince Talleyrand, for, in spite of the state of humiliation to which she was reduced, he succeeded in establishing her in the first rank; it was also owing to his intervention that the younger branch of the Bourbons was restored at Naples. Louis XVIII. was the means of saving Saxony from imminent danger, and finally, towards the close of the congress, Talleyrand entered into an intimate league with Metternich and Lord Castlereagh to prevent the encroachments of Russia in Poland, and concluded in the month of February[12] 1815 a secret treaty with England and Austria, where the possibility of war was looked forward to, and the necessary arrangements made for such a contingency. I have given the curious original elsewhere.[13]


During the whole time of the Congress of Vienna, the desire for an alliance with England and a feeling of antipathy for Russia never ceased to possess the mind of Prince Talleyrand; he followed up this system of regard and hatred with the utmost tenacity; he even went so far as to write, in his secret correspondence with Louis XVIII., "that a Russian princess did not come of a sufficiently good family for the Duc de Berri, and that it ought not to be thought of, as the house of Romanof could not place itself on a level with that of Bourbon." This circumstance was never forgotten by the Emperor Alexander, who from this time forward entertained an extreme dislike for Talleyrand, and his aversion became still more violent after the events of 1815, when the secret treaty concluded in the month of March came to his knowledge.

Napoleon landed in the Gulf of Juan, and his rapid march upon Paris excited the greatest alarm in the Congress of Vienna. The activity of the French ambassador redoubled its vehemence, for Napoleon had outlawed him in his decrees dated from Lyons, and he in his turn revenged himself by causing Buonaparte to be placed at the ban of the empire. He took great pains to obtain this result, the declaration of the Congress of Vienna was his work, and it was he that induced Lord Castlereagh and Metternich to sign it. From this moment the coalition was in motion, and France was again threatened with an irruption of myriads of armed men, when the battle of Waterloo a second time terminated the sway of Napoleon. When a power is at an end, all attempts to restore it are in vain, it is merely the flash that precedes the extinction of an expiring light.

Talleyrand returned to Paris with the Bourbons, but his authority was no longer what it had been. Louis XVIII. had discovered that his plenipotentiary, and the[90] Duc de Dalberg, in his name, had received overtures concerning the possibility of the younger branch of the Bourbons succeeding to the throne of France, and it was not likely he should forget it. The king, with his habitual sagacity and experience, would never have chosen for his minister the man who had been plenipotentiary at Vienna; but the influence of the Duke of Wellington, which placed Fouché at the head of the police, also restored to Talleyrand the direction of foreign affairs. The cabinet of July 1815 was entirely favourable to English ideas and interests.

As long as Talleyrand had only to treat with Lord Castlereagh and the Prussians, he preserved his ascendancy; but how hard were the conditions imposed by those powers! The Duke of Wellington had a regard for him as the old representative of the English alliance, and supported him with all his influence, which was very great; however, in the month of August 1815, the face of every thing was changed; the Russians joined with 350,000 bayonets; the Emperor Alexander took a part in the negotiation, and as Russia alone was kindly disposed towards the house of Bourbon, as she alone defended the integrity of our territory, and did not exact the sacrifices required by England and Prussia, she soon became the predominant power. The first condition imposed by the Emperor Alexander, before he would enter into any negotiation, was the dismissal of Prince Talleyrand. He has since pretended that he voluntarily retired from office to avoid signing the Convention of Paris, that hard necessity to which France was compelled to submit through the heavy calamities which had fallen upon her, but this fact is as untrue as his opposition to the Spanish war in 1808. He has on every occasion striven to invest his dismissal with a degree of interest, but in this instance he had unavailingly[91] had recourse to all his influence with the Duke of Wellington and Prussia to obtain the direction of a treaty, and he only retired because it was impossible for him to carry on a negotiation. He had submitted to every thing, he had made a thousand concessions to the czar, even going so far as to recommend Count Pozzo di Borgo as Minister for the Interior; it was all in vain, Alexander never would consent to see or to treat with him. Had Russia withdrawn her influence we should have lost Lorraine and Alsace, which had been claimed by the Germanic Confederation, but when the czar took the negotiations in hand, he stipulated for better conditions than those proposed by Prussia and England. Louis XVIII. took pleasure in relating the scene, at the close of which he asked for or accepted the resignation of the Bishop of Autun, and he described it with all the malicious wit he possessed in so admirable a degree. The king was quite delighted, for he did not at all enjoy the imperative and arbitrary style of proceeding adopted by his minister, who was more apt to request he would affix his signature to the papers he laid before him than inclined to consult him upon any political business; and besides, though the king was a little of a free-thinker, he could not quite forgive the utter disregard of the laws of the Church evinced by a married priest. This feeling was so strong at court, that the Cardinal de Périgord, grand almoner of France, never would recognise any dignity but that of bishop as belonging to his nephew. The Royalist party, now very powerful, lost no opportunity of turning him into ridicule, and clever caricatures always represented him with the crosier in his hand. They wanted to get rid of him as they had already contrived to do of Fouché, the former regicide orator. One day at a party in the Faubourg Saint-Germain Talleyrand said in a loud voice to some Royalists,[92] "But, gentlemen, you want to bring back the old order of things, and that is not possible." The caustic and clever M. de Sallaberry replied, "Why, monseigneur, who would think of making you Bishop of Autun again? It would be an absurdity." The shaft was well aimed, and it struck home. In spite, however, of personal feelings, the king gave him the appointment of Grand Chamberlain of France, with a salary of 100,000 francs, at the suggestion of the Duc de Richelieu, who had declared in the royal council that, after all the services rendered by M. de Talleyrand, the Bourbons ought to present him with a noble mark of their gratitude. One would think that Louis himself, must have remembered that he owed the defence of his dynasty to him, at a time when the Restoration was regarded with coolness by all the cabinets of Europe.

Talleyrand continued to hold the situation of grand-chamberlain during the reign of the restored family. He was not a favourite at the Tuileries, where he went every day through etiquette to fulfil his office, standing behind the king's chair with admirable punctuality; and he was received with great coolness by Louis XVIII. Charles X. was more kindly disposed towards every body, and occasionally entered politely into conversation with him on some trifling subject. He also performed his duties at the diners d'apparat. The king was seated at table, the grand-chamberlain occupying a small chair at a little distance, and while Louis was discussing a pheasant, or other game, with an excellent appetite, Talleyrand dipped a biscuit in old madeira wine. It was a scene of considerable interest, and used to pass in the most profound silence. Every now and then the king would look fixedly at the grand-chamberlain with a sneering expression of countenance, while the latter, with his impassibility so coarsely defined by Marshal[93] Lannes, would go on soaking his biscuit and slowly sipping his madeira with a look of respectful deference towards the king his master. Not a word was addressed by the sovereign to the chamberlain during the short repast, after which Talleyrand used to resume his place behind the king's chair in a cold, ceremonious manner, that reminded one of the statue in the Festin de Pierre, only with this difference, that the grand-chamberlain's mind was filled with the most inveterate hatred, a feeling which he extended to all the members of the royal family.

In the Chamber of Peers he adopted a system of opposition, which assumed a greater degree of solemnity, from all the statesmen of the various epochs who had been engaged in the management of affairs and vast negotiations being included in it. He very rarely spoke; indeed, I believe only two speeches delivered by him are on record. The first was on the occasion of the war in Spain in 1823, when he entered rather awkwardly into the question and foretold a disastrous event to our arms, whereas they were in reality crowned with success, shewing how great a mistake it is ever to give utterance to predictions in politics. The second time was on the occasion of the law of election and the liberty of the press; he then reminded the assembly of the promises entered into at Saint-Ouen, at which he had himself been present. He appeared at this time to be held in little estimation in the upper house, and there were not above five or six peers whose votes were at his disposal. The case was very different in his drawing-room and at his toilet, where he was in the habit of receiving a great deal of company and listened to confidential communications from men of all parties, flattering in turn the liberal societies and the aristocratic coteries; for the latter, especially, he entertained a strong predilection. His fortune was now very much involved in consequence[94] of an immense bankruptcy, by which his friend the Duc de Dalberg alone lost the sum of 4,000,000[14] francs, and he passed but little part of his time at Paris, but lived at Valençay, or at his great estates in Touraine; these were deeply mortgaged, and without the management of the Duchess of Dino, who was a woman of wonderful ability in business, he would, probably, have been obliged to part with some of them. He occasionally made an excursion to a greater distance, and once passed a whole season in the south of France, in a pleasant habitation selected for him at Hyères, in the country of fragrant flowers, of vanilla, and orange, and citron groves. His wit and noble manners are still recollected with delight in that part of the country; and, indeed, it is impossible to express the charm he infused into the evening conversations at his house.

His social existence was, in fact, passed entirely during the night. He rose late, and it was near eleven o'clock before he rang for his valet de chambre, who brought him his morning gown. He was obliged to lean upon his stick as he walked from one chair to another, until he reached the fireplace; and he breakfasted after the English fashion, making a very trifling repast. Then followed his toilet, which occupied a long time, and was almost public, according to the fashion of former times, when dressing the hair was a perfect operation. His servant put on his cravat, still worn with all the pretension of an exquisite of the Directory, and he then went out for an airing. After dinner, and to conclude the evening, he generally joined some of his old intimate friends, and played a rubber, very late and always very high. He sometimes dozed a little in an easy chair, for he possessed an admirable faculty for closing[95] his eyes, and, perhaps, of indulging in a waking sleep. His conversation was generally brilliant and clever, sometimes very communicative, and he took great pleasure in talking over the events of his life, dwelling with especial delight upon the Congress of Vienna, which had been such a brilliant period for his diplomatic talents. Thus passed his life, full of a feeling of discontent and a constant looking forward to change; nothing was hurried, but he was constantly in a state of expectation, or carrying on one of those vast conspiracies which no one can lay hold of.

At the time of the breaking out of the revolution of July, Talleyrand was deeply irritated against the elder branch of the Bourbons, whom he termed ungrateful and forgetful of his services; and there is no doubt of his having worked industriously towards establishing a new monarchical system. He had a horror of anarchy, power was his element. The time is not yet come when we may venture to tell every thing, but it is an undoubted fact, that Talleyrand was consulted and examined on the 9th of August, and his answer was altogether favourable to the new project. Did not this revolution carry him back in recollection to the period of the Congress of Vienna in 1814, when an arrangement of this kind had been suggested by him as a possible event and a means of solving a difficulty should such occur? Some secret conferences were held on this delicate subject; Talleyrand took upon himself the negotiation with the corps diplomatique, and also the duty of setting clearly before them that the peace of Europe depended upon the establishment of a monarchy in France,—a vast undertaking, to which a prince of very superior abilities was willing to devote himself. Talleyrand succeeded in the object he had in view; the[96] despatches of the ambassadors were all in favour of royalty, it was considered as a guarantee of the principle of order in Europe, as an efficacious means of repressing the revolutionary spirit, and maintaining the treaties already concluded—in short, as the strongest opposition to the Propaganda tendency, and the most serious scheme of general conservatism.

Talleyrand at this time refused the ministry for foreign affairs, as it would merely have added to his responsibility without increasing his power of action; but he accepted the embassy to London, which was a much more important office, as affairs of the greatest consequence would necessarily come under consideration there, it being upon the prompt decision of this cabinet that must mainly depend the consolidation of the new order of things; for, although England had been the first to recognise the events that had taken place, she had shewn some disposition to reserve regarding an alliance with the new government. The affairs of Belgium occasioned so much difficulty in the negotiations, and added so greatly to the danger of the political crisis, that it was necessary a person possessed both of talent and great consideration should be deputed to London, to secure the support of the English cabinet in the negotiations that had been begun, especially as the despatches received from Russia rendered the necessity for a good understanding with England particularly urgent.

When Talleyrand arrived in London, the Duke of Wellington was still in the ministry, and the violent Tories had the direction of the cabinet,—a state of affairs which prevented his carrying on his manœuvres as he wished; he was perfectly aware of the attachment of the Tories to the secret treaties concluded in 1815, and, therefore, used all his efforts to overturn the Duke of[97] Wellington. He also renewed his old intimacy with Lord Grey, he sought the society of Lord John Russell, and lived in a most magnificent style.

The revolution of July had produced an effect in England; the march of opinion became too powerful for the Tories, and Lord Grey was placed at the head of the cabinet, affording a complete triumph to the moderate Whigs. The course being now clear, Talleyrand could assume the position he wished: and hard had he laboured to prepare it! He now was able to work openly for a treaty with France.

It ought to be known that, during the embassy of Prince Polignac, a conference had been arranged in London between the plenipotentiaries of Russia, England, and France, to decide upon all the questions relating to Greece; and the same course had been pursued afterwards, under the Duc de Laval. England attached great importance to it, and Talleyrand proposed its renewal, for the purpose of watching and deciding upon the general affairs of Europe, and also advised that the plenipotentiaries of Austria and Prussia should be admitted. They were to take the Belgic question into consideration, and decide what course should be pursued, in consequence of the dismemberment of the kingdom of the Low Countries, established in 1815; and Talleyrand being personally acquainted with all these plenipotentiaries, his position soon became as brilliant in London as it had been at Vienna in 1815. He was connected with Prince and Princess Lieven by the ties of old and intimate friendship, and the families of Talleyrand and Esterhazy had also long been well acquainted: Baron Bulow, the Prussian minister, was one of the second-rate diplomatists, who all entertained the greatest respect for Talleyrand and his long experience in public affairs.


Conferences were, therefore, undertaken upon very indefinite subjects, for their principal object was to seek the opportunity of meeting and maintaining peace. No doubt there was something very undecided in the numerous protocols signed at that time upon the affairs of Belgium, and the greater part of them were never put in force. In addition to this, though they had been the result of a common agreement, the Russian and Austrian plenipotentiaries never received the formal assent of their governments: the conduct of Prince Lieven and Prince Esterhazy was, in the first instance, disclaimed on the part of their courts, and they were shortly afterwards recalled; but the result of these conferences in London, the happy consequences of their developement, was the maintenance of peace, whose existence had at one time been greatly threatened. In 1831, when the foreign ministers met in such close communication with each other, it was almost impossible explanations should not take place, and that there should be any misapprehension between the governments; the proceedings of Talleyrand were, therefore, successful; for his main object was the preservation of the European status quo, by preventing those conflicts among the cabinets, those clashings among people, which fill history with tales of bloodshed; and the conferences in London were of service, because the close contact into which men were brought with each other was a means of reconciling affairs.

According to his general custom, the French ambassador received a great deal of company; his entertainments were splendid; his evening parties, in particular, were remarkable for the good taste and distinguished company so much prized in England. I should not exceed the truth if I were to say that his wishes influenced certain votes in the House of Commons. No ambassador[99] had ever before enjoyed so much consideration. But Lord Grey was aware of an approaching storm: the difficulty of his political situation had not consisted in overturning the Tory ministry—that was a simple and natural victory, for the agitation of minds and events had been sufficient to displace the Duke of Wellington, but the really dangerous part of Lord Grey's position was, on the contrary, the inevitable and powerful progress of the Whig principles, which sought to proceed to extremities; for when a nation lays its hand upon its ancient institutions, one change often leads to another. After having reformed the state, and given a greater latitude to elections, must they not reform the Church? did not the situation of Ireland require modification? The Dissenters complained, and with justice, of their grievances; it would have been an absurd attempt to set a limit to a reformed parliament, to say to the nation "Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther." The parliament became impatient, while religious scruples arose in the mind of Lord Grey, in the old party of which Canning was formerly the head, now represented by Mr. Stanley, and, above all, in the heart of William the Fourth.

Talleyrand was as well aware of the danger as Lord Grey himself, for he well knew the powerful influence exercised by young and ardent opinions; it soon became impossible to arrest the parliamentary agitation. The venerable Lord Grey was suddenly seized with disgust for the whole proceeding; he would not raise a sacrilegious hand against the Church; he sent in his resignation, and England well remembers the touching explanations he gave upon his own ministerial conduct in the House of Lords. From the time of the appointment of Lord Melbourne, the French ambassador foresaw the invincible tendency of affairs, the triumph of the Ultra-Whigs,[100] and, perhaps, of Lord Durham,[15] and began to think of retiring, for he no longer played the principal part, of which he was always ambitious.

Another circumstance added to this feeling. In the revolution just encountered by the ministry, Lord Palmerston had still retained the Foreign Office, his opinions being of a less moderate cast than those of Lord Grey; and as his disposition was one rather difficult to deal with, serious dissensions had already arisen between him and Talleyrand. From the first formation of their ministry, the Whigs had felt the necessity of augmenting their consideration with foreign powers; they were not ignorant that the English nation, which preferred them for their popular opinions and their patriotic sentiments, did not feel equal confidence in their habits of business and their comprehension of the situation of Europe. Lord Palmerston considered that, after the treaty of the 8th of July, which secured such great advantages to Russia, a certain armed demonstration was inevitable upon the Eastern question, and he, therefore, proposed to Talleyrand that the squadrons of France and England should be united, and sail under the flags of both nations in the Black Sea.

Talleyrand perfectly understood the interest felt by the Whigs in this armed demonstration, but he considered it far too bold a step to be ventured upon in their actual situation. As a continental power, France might well call upon the alliance of England if necessary, or, on the other hand, afford to her all possible assistance; but then the whole of the Holy Alliance was close upon her, and this demonstration might lead to a real war. In the opinion of Talleyrand it was necessary[101] to fortify the moral alliance, and place a barrier to resist the encroachments of Russia; but it would be a hazardous undertaking to make a direct attack on her flag in the Black Sea. He, therefore, held back from the propositions of Lord Palmerston: he explained to him that, instead of an armed demonstration, which would be of doubtful advantage, nay, possibly altogether useless, it would be desirable to prepare an act, expressive of future policy; and made it evident to him that a treaty of quadruple alliance, which would unite the south of Europe against the north, could not fail to lead to great results, even in the midst of the various but transient events of a party war. The treaty concluded between France, England, Spain, and Portugal, owed its existence to this idea, this favourite conception of Prince Talleyrand; he would, however, have been much better pleased could he have also included Austria, according to the desire he had cherished in his mind ever since 1814.

Lord Palmerston entered into Talleyrand's plans. England confined herself to a few nautical parades in the Black Sea, but from this time a coldness sprung up between the two diplomatists. The English minister is a person of very irritable temper, touchy, and of a changeable disposition, and Talleyrand took a great dislike to him; and as, on the other side, the cabinet of which Lord Melbourne was the chief was drawn on from one concession to another, he soon resolved to leave England. It was announced that his health was failing, and he went into the country to seek peace in retirement. Like Pythagoras when the thunder is heard from afar, Talleyrand preferred the desert and the echo. During his last journey to Paris he became friends with Count Pozzo di Borgo, that is to say, with the Russian idea. The two diplomatists did not venture as yet to[102] hold any official communications, but they often met in little mysterious banquets, in a diplomatic retreat at Bellevue.

Talleyrand quitted London, popular clamour was a source of annoyance to him; it was no longer a dispute between one portion of the aristocracy and another, from henceforth it appeared to be the people against the aristocracy itself: and the stake was too great. He therefore left England definitively for Valençay, explaining, in a most dignified letter, the reason of his retirement. There is a period with politicians when they begin to live for posterity; they then all seek an opportunity of explaining themselves, of laying open their conduct, and striving to rectify the judgment of future times—they feel a desire of revealing themselves solemnly to the public; and such was the motive which induced Talleyrand to speak at a meeting of the French Institute. He said but a few words on the occasion of an éloge that had been pronounced, but those few afforded an explanation of the motives that had actuated a long and busy political life, passed in the midst of governments, passions, and parties.

After this time Talleyrand lived either in Paris or on his estates in the country, and was always consulted with the most profound veneration by all the thinking heads of government. He at one time had some idea of going to Vienna to accomplish a plan suggested by the Duchess de Dino, which would unite the two families of Talleyrand and Esterhazy. The latter, it is well known, is the richest family in Austria, and during the last seven years Madame de Dino had paid great attention to her uncle's affairs, and had been so successful in her management that his property was quite free from debt, and one of the most considerable of the present day. The fortune of M. de Talleyrand, after so many reverses, is[103] said almost to resemble one of the fairy tales in the "Arabian Nights."

There are few political characters with whom the press has been more busy than with Prince Talleyrand, during the latter years of his life. Every step he took, every gesture, every action, was made the subject of the most contradictory reports. He had now attained his eighty-fourth year, and it was evident his faculties were beginning to suffer considerably from his advanced age. He was merely the shadow of his former self. Every now and then there would be a gleam of his powerful intellect, but they would soon disappear again in the weakness caused by extreme age, and so busy and exhausted a life. He could no longer walk a single step, but was carried about or wheeled in a chair, and the slightest jolt drew from him tears of suffering—most miserable resemblance that exists between decrepitude and childhood! In fact, his career was come to an end, though they in vain strove to prolong it by endeavouring to rouse him.

That career had indeed been marvellous, and though Prince Talleyrand be reproached with the constant changeableness of his opinions, we may observe the same principle predominant under all circumstances—the alliance with England. I have selected the Duc de Richelieu as the type of the Russian alliance, and in comparing the services of these two political characters, we shall easily discover that the duke did more service to his country during the short time that he held the reins of government than Prince Talleyrand in his lengthened career, because Richelieu had adopted a more national plan, one more favourable to our foreign interests. Talleyrand never was subservient to any particular government or doctrine. He had a sort of personal feeling which degenerated into selfishness. He did not[104] betray Napoleon in the literal sense of the word, he only quitted him in time; neither did he actually betray the Restoration, he abandoned it when it was abandoning itself. No doubt there is a good deal of selfishness in this system, whose first thought is of its own situation and fortune, and afterwards of the government it serves; but, perhaps, it is hardly to be expected we should find in men of very great talent the degree of self-denial which leads to a blind devotion towards a person or a cause. Talleyrand was a little inclined to apply to himself the expressions he was accustomed to address to his employés when he was minister for foreign affairs: "There are two things, gentlemen, which I forbid in the most positive manner,—too much zeal and too absolute devotion, because they compromise both persons and affairs." Such was the mind of Talleyrand; with a cold heart and barren imagination, he was compared to a real tactician, judging men and parties with mathematical precision. He reserved all his activity for the decisive moments which overturned thrones and governments, when he considered prompt action as of importance. In revolutions his experience had been very great; he immediately understood the value of a situation, and decided upon it by an apophthegm, which at once struck home. His was, perhaps, the mind which was most capable of foreseeing, least able to prevent, and most skilled in deriving advantage from the different phases of empires.

But now his life was drawing to a close, and symptoms of approaching death appeared on every side. For a long time he had been afflicted with a painful complaint, which he bore with less resignation than he had exhibited under political events; the attacks were very violent, and the prince became subject to constant fainting fits—warning symptoms of the approach of his last[105] enemy. The total decay of Talleyrand was apparent to every body; the sharpness and delicacy of his wit every now and then shot forth a dying gleam, but the man was at an end. His visits to the Tuileries were a most melancholy spectacle, a sad memorial of the nothingness of human greatness. Alas! that vast intellect was fast sinking into second childhood. His complaint was incurable; it was in the first place old age, and then, also, an old affection of anthrax, or white gangrene, for which he was obliged to undergo a very painful operation, and after it was performed the agonies of death followed in rapid succession. He was perfectly aware of the danger of his situation, and considered it a point of dignity not to appear alarmed, but went through all the proper etiquette with death. For a considerable time he had been in communication with a pious ecclesiastic in Paris; before him was the example of his family, and the recollection of his uncle the Cardinal, of blessed memory; and of late years his benefactions to the chapel of Valençay had been very great, both in magnificent donations and pious endowments. Though he had forgotten his religious obligations, he had never made an open profession of impiety, and had preserved a considerable degree of loftiness of mind, so that when the thought of death was presented to him he did not shrink from a retractation. No person was better aware of the weakness and puerile vanity of professed free-thinkers.

This retractation was not the offspring of a sudden impulse; on the contrary, it had been concerted three months before with infinite care, as if it had been a diplomatic paper sent to the church. Full of submission, yet with a mixture of dignity, the prince addressed it to the sovereign pontiff, repenting all his participation in the scandals by which his life had been stained, particularly his adhesion to the civil constitution of the clergy; and he now acknowledged the jurisdiction[106] of the Archbishop of Paris, and submitted to the Catholic laws of the holy see. This was the manner in which he prepared for death. Accounts of the state of his health were incessantly despatched to Neuilly; he had rendered great services to Louis Philippe, who had often consulted him and derived the benefit of his experience, and who was now resolved to pay a last visit to the last descendant of the Périgords. When the king was announced, the prince said with a feeble voice, but without any appearance of emotion, as if the attention were due to him,—"It is the greatest honour my house has received."

There was a strong aristocratic feeling in the expression, 'My house;' it signified that, though the visit was honourable to his family, there was nothing to cause surprise in it. Neither did he forget, even at that moment, the etiquette which forbids that any body should stand in the presence of a sovereign without being presented, and he immediately added, in a calm tone, "I have a duty to fulfil—it is to present to your majesty the persons who are in the room, and who have not yet had that honour;" and he introduced his physician, his surgeon, and his valet-de-chambre. This behaviour when at the point of death bore the stamp of high aristocratic manners, perfectly in keeping with the visit with which his last moments had been honoured; it was part of the decorum and ancient ceremony observed between noble families; the escutcheons of both bore the same relative rank; the youngest branch of the Bourbons went to visit the youngest branch of the Périgords. In ancient times the houses of Navarre and De Quercy had met together on the common field of battle, and the cry Re que Diou had been uttered at the same time with the war-cry of Henry IV., by the old southern nobility, the language of Oc being common to both.

People expressed surprise at the signal honour conferred[107] upon Talleyrand, but it shewed that the customs of gentle blood were not comprehended by the spirit of inferior society. No one was more attached to his illustrious descent than the old diplomatist, and the younger branch of the Bourbons came itself of too good a stock to forget it; the two cadets of De Quercy and Navarre had met in the recollection of their race, as in their political life.

Surrounded by his family in his last moments, and assisted by the pious offices of the Abbé Dupanloup, vicar-general of the diocese of Paris, Prince Talleyrand received the sacraments of the Church, for he had been again admitted into her bosom, and, before expiring, he again uttered one of those happy expressions which were so often upon his lips. Observing one of his grandnieces dressed entirely in white, according to the custom observed before the first communion, he raised his heavy eyelids, kissed her forehead, gave her his blessing, and then turning to the spectators, he said, "See the way of the world—there is the beginning, here the end!" In a few minutes afterwards he expired, on the 18th of May, 1838, at ten minutes before four o'clock in the afternoon, having just completed his eighty-fourth year. He left a will, by which his immense fortune was well and wisely disposed of. Has he also left memoirs? I think I know; but these memoirs are deposited in the hands of his family, or of other people of whose discretion he was quite secure.

Well, then, must I confess it? I do not believe them to be in any way curious. People talk a great deal about these pretended revelations, but I still repeat that they are few in number. Talleyrand only wrote what he pleased, he only committed public transactions to paper; and it is well known that, in reading these memoirs, he used to dwell with pleasure on the mischievous pranks[108] of the young abbé. Was it the reminiscence of his youth that he enjoyed? I am inclined to think so, for I have always observed that this feeling is very strong among statesmen. Would you wish to awaken in the mind of Pozzo di Borgo all the vigour of his intellectual powers?—speak to him of Corsica and Paoli; would you bring a ray of delight and unreserve to unbend the brow of Metternich?—talk to him of his embassy to Paris in the beginning of the Empire, those days of pleasure and dissipation.

My idea is, that the memoirs of the man who played so conspicuous a part in the political history of the world will consist principally of two parts—emotions and justifications: emotions, because people always remember them, they filter through the whole tenour of their lives, they dwell in the brain of man, and rule over his thoughts; and justifications will undoubtedly be required for the several fatal deeds committed during the life of Prince Talleyrand.

In the course of that long life too much regard was shewn to customs and ceremonies, which are merely the trappings of life, and too little to duty and conscience, which are its foundation and object. He attended too much to the outward matters of existence—to riches, to honour, to decency of behaviour, but he thought nothing of the delicacy of mind, which is the strongest pledge of an honest man employed in public affairs. I am not fonder of simpletons in politics than other people, but, for the honour of mankind, I am willing to believe men may be clever and still retain perfect probity and good faith. It would be too dreadful to suppose that one cannot be a statesman without a complete abdication of the government of one's heart. Surely a strong head and powerful abilities are not the sole requisites for regulating the affairs of a government.



There is no county in Europe whose national character is so ancient, so thoroughly peculiar, as the Island of Corsica. Imagine a vast landscape of Salvator Rosa's, with all the features which he alone was capable of depicting, and whose type he has sought in Calabria and the Abruzzi; add to this a people whose disposition is hardy and obstinate; whose affections, love, hatred, or jealousy, are perpetuated from one generation to another; whose proud and patriotic attachment to their native soil forms part of their earliest existence, and terminates only with their life; also cities cheerful as those of Tuscany, and wild, uncultivated, mountainous districts; you will still have but a feeble representation of Corsica, that picturesque and fertile island of the Mediterranean.

The population is divided into two distinct races; the one comprehending the old aboriginal families, the other composed of foreign colonists, the greater part descended from refugees who were compelled to fly from revolutions in Piémont, Genoa, and Tuscany, and were successively deposited in the island, like the layers of lava around a volcano. To the first of these races belong[110] the Paolis and the Pozzo di Borgos; to the second, the Buonapartes and the Salicettis. According to the usual custom among primitive nations, each family forms a clan, and each village a community; sentiments are inherited like the patrimony of the family—it is like ancient Rome suckled by a wolf in the time of the companions of Romulus.

The family of the Pozzo di Borgos, as I have already stated, belongs to the aboriginal races; its antiquity may be ascertained by consulting the book of the statutes of Corsica, and also the history of the feudal war between the Castellans of Montechi and the city of Ajaccio, of which they even disputed the sovereignty. One of the family is mentioned in the charters as orator of the people, and at the time the island was under the dominion of Genoa, the illustrious Pozzo di Borgo is described as attorney-general for the provinces of Ajaccio and Sartene; his name, like that of the Paolis, was Pascal. His opponents, even at that period, were from the family of the Bacciochi, then merely merchants of Ajaccio; and his notary was Jerome Buonaparte, who certifies the mission of Captain Secondos Pozzo di Borgo, deputy to the republic of Genoa.[16] There is some pleasure in relating these circumstances, because the life of Count Pozzo di Borgo, during its whole[111] course, appeared to be connected with ancient times. Nothing is forgotten on that burning soil, and we shall again meet with the Paolis, the Buonapartes, the Pozzos, the Bacciochis, and the Salicettis, engaged in the most important conflicts on the theatre of the great world, as they had formerly been in the little town of Ajaccio.

In disturbed times European diplomacy employs two powerful engines of political research; in the first place, accredited ambassadors, who examine and decide upon affairs in a regular and almost a classical manner; and secondly, active agents, the greater part of whom are military men employed to travel about in Europe, for the purpose of ascertaining accurately the strength and the resources of each power. During the time of the French Republic and the Empire of Napoleon, England and Russia considerably augmented the number of their military diplomatists, and this may be said to have been the first employment of Charles Andrew Pozzo di Borgo, before the Russian cabinets had decided upon pursuing a regular and comprehensive system. The people of the south of Europe are especially gifted with a quick, subtle, and acute understanding, and the Corsicans add to these qualities an obstinate adherence to their purpose, and a rugged sentiment of their own rights, which formed such prominent features in the character of Buonaparte. Metternich is fond of repeating, "It was not the armies of Napoleon that occasioned us the most uneasiness; it was his inventive spirit, his acute subtleties, in short, his diabolical intellect, by which we Germans were hemmed in and entangled on every side." Count Pozzo di Borgo possessed the same species of sharp and sagacious activity; in that country there was a sort of general type common to all, like the bronzed complexion and the sparkling, searching eyes.

A few leagues from Ajaccio lies a small village, which[112] bears the name of Pozzo di Borgo (well of the city); tradition says, however, that the family of that name inhabited the little fort of Montechi among the mountains: the Pozzis, the Poggis, and the Pazzis, were all families of the middle ages. As it was in Germany with the Castellans of the Seven Mountains, so also in Corsica the nobles reckoned their pedigree from some of the highest peaks in the island, under the shelter of rocks and wild fig-trees, where so many black crosses, symbols of Vendetta, are still to be seen. When Corsica was annexed to France, the noble descent of the Pozzos was substantiated by a supreme council of the island. The subject of this memoir was born the same year as Napoleon, if we rectify a little the date assigned by chronologists to the latter event. He first saw the light on the 8th of March, 1768, and had, therefore, attained his majority at the time of the revolution, when the popular agitation produced a most startling and arousing effect upon Corsica; and as if awaking from slumber two parties started up—a national party, and one devoted to the French interests. Paoli and Pozzo di Borgo indulged in dreams of the independence of their country, but without the intervention of foreign aid. The Buonapartes, who had for a short time ranged themselves under the banner of Paoli, afterwards joined the Arenas and the Salicettis, partisans of the French and Jacobin school. Before these divisions had assumed a very decided complexion, they contented themselves with giving an enthusiastic welcome to the revolution; intoxication prevailed every where, and at the age of twenty-two years Pozzo di Borgo, secretary to the corps of the nobility, was despatched as deputy-extraordinary to the National Assembly.

This primary office afterwards led to his appointment to the definitive deputation; and as the friend of Paoli, a circumstance[113] which at that time conferred the greatest popularity, young Pozzo took his seat in that insane convocation, which, under the name of the Legislative Assembly, and in the midst of tumults and massacres, soon made an end of the French monarchy. He was appointed one of the diplomatic committee, at the time their proceedings were conducted in so singular a manner by Brissot, under whose management despatches to foreign powers consisted of speeches borrowed from the tragedy of "Brutus," and directed against Austria and Prussia. Such language ought to have been backed by victories, but the Legislative Assembly had not as yet the internal strength of which, at a later period, the convocation became possessed, through the energy of its committee of public safety. The Legislative Assembly threw every thing into disorder: at war with the ministers of the king, governed by the idea of a republic, yet without daring openly to proclaim it, they permitted the horrors of the 10th of August, and the 7th of September, to take place before their eyes. This wretched meeting possessed neither the brilliancy of the Constituent Assembly nor the terrible authority of the Convention, but always represented a state of transition, which is invariably one of mediocrity, because men dare not undertake any thing, nor, indeed, are they capable of doing so.

Pozzo very rarely appeared in the tribune, but whenever he had occasion so to do, for the purpose of expressing the opinions of the committee, he had recourse to the favourite phraseology of the period, for which less blame is due to the orators than to the general bent of the public mind: it was the pleasure of society to be governed after that fashion. I have preserved some fragments of a speech made by him on the 16th July, 1792, with the object of inducing the assembly to declare war against Germany.[114] It is well known that two different parties were at that time equally desirous of commencing hostilities in Europe—the court party, who, being desirous of placing Louis at the head of an overpowering public force, considered war as the most probable means of attaining a military dictatorship; while, on the other hand, the republican faction, headed by the Girondists, entertained hopes that the democratic principle would be more easily rendered triumphant in the midst of tumults and excesses. Pozzo di Borgo was the willing representative of the Girondist party at the tribune. "The German confederation," said he, "whose independence is naturally protected by France, the only power capable of preserving it from the insatiable ambition of Austria, has beheld with joy the formation of that formidable league intended to overturn your constitution: their territory is already overrun by the enemy's troops, the northern league seeks to reduce the whole of Europe into a state of servitude, and exhibits every where a menacing appearance, supported by a strong force of mercenaries covered with iron and greedy of gold, to whom all usurpations will become easy. To the French nation belongs the task of preserving the world from this terrible scourge, and of repairing the mischiefs occasioned by the shameful carelessness, or the perfidious malignity of those, who view with indifference the utter destruction of all kinds of liberty. The French nation, by combating all the common enemies of mankind, will have the glory of restoring the political harmony which will preserve Europe from general slavery. We have contracted a vast debt towards the whole world, it is the establishment and the practice of the rights of man upon the earth; and Liberty, fertile in virtues and talents, affords us abundant means of discharging it in full. Our enemies' hopes, no doubt, have been raised by the[115] transient dissensions that disturb our unanimity; they augur from thence the disorganisation of our government, but we will not accomplish their guilty desires. We are well aware that in the present state of affairs a change in our political institutions would necessarily occasion an interregnum in the laws, a suspension of authority, licentiousness, mischief in all parts of the kingdom, and the inevitable loss of our liberty. Our vigilance will preserve without destroying; it will place the traitors in a state in which they will be incapable of injuring us; and by the stability of our government we will deprive the ambitious of all the opportunities they hope for, in the incessant changes and revolutions incident to empires. By thus uniting energy and wisdom, we may attain to perfect and glorious success."

It may be observed that in the midst of these expressions, set forth in the phraseology then in fashion, the stability of the government and the necessity for preserving order were spoken of by M. Pozzo di Borgo, both of which principles were afterwards displayed in the highest degree in his mind.

The mission of the Legislative Assembly being concluded, the deputy returned to Corsica, and was associated with General Paoli for the direction of the administration of the island. The shocks sustained by the people had added fresh energy to their patriotic character, a public spirit was aroused, a proud independence in accordance with the national feelings of the ancient Corsica. Does not every people long for liberty? The Girondists had dreamed of federalism for France; and Paoli, in his turn, took a pride in forming a republic which should be perfectly independent and detached from the surrounding sovereignties. Paoli was a man of powerful understanding, completely the child of nature, and already old in years, though young in energy. He[116] delighted in the idea of a Corsican republic, as being in some measure a return towards primitive habits; and this motive was strengthened by the horror inspired by the revolutionary events that were taking place in France. So ardent an enthusiasm never was known as that with which he inspired the Corsican families dwelling among the most rugged peaks of that mountainous country, and whose sole passion appeared to be a vehement love of liberty, acquired by the most laborious efforts.

The families of the Arenas and Buonapartes, who were inhabitants of the plains and the cities, had sided warmly with the French party; they were connected with the clubs; and Salicetti was their organ at the National Convention, to denounce Paoli and Pozzo di Borgo as propagators of a system tending to separate Corsica from France; and as that island had been declared an integral part of the French Republic, they were both summoned to the bar of the nation to offer a justification of their conduct. In this lay one of the first germs of the deeply rooted hatred entertained by Salicetti, Arena, and Buonaparte, against Paoli and Pozzo di Borgo; from thence arose the enmity which, in their inflamed minds, overstepped the limits of the island of Corsica, and contributed, more than people suspected, to the marvellous events of the Revolution and the Empire.

When Paoli and Pozzo di Borgo received this terrible summons, they were together at Corte, the capital of the mountainous district. It was not unexpected, and they were both well aware of the consequences of a refusal to obey the commands of the Convention, for the conduct of this inexorable tribunal was that of a victor with whom lenity and forgiveness are unknown. What was to be done? To obey would be to submit at once to the yoke of the territorial unity, which sought to[117] reduce all the various nations comprehended within it to one level. Resistance would, perhaps, be a still more dangerous course, for the French Republic had an army which they would be utterly incapable of withstanding, and it was also supported by a considerable party in Corsica. A few regiments occupied the city of Ajaccio, and a battalion formed the garrison of the fort of Corte and several posts on the sea-coast. Signals announced the arrival of a squadron bearing the tricoloured flag. Under these circumstances, the commissioners of the departments declared themselves a permanent assembly in a meeting of the people of Corte, and the tumultuous comitia of the national party unanimously invited their chief, Paoli, and Pozzo di Borgo, to continue their administration. Finally, they declared that it was beneath the dignity of the people of Corsica to trouble themselves with the two families of Arena and Buonaparte, and that they should be abandoned to their remorse and to infamy for having deserted the public cause. I here copy the expressions of the national consulta.[17]

The popular energy, which sways in all instances the first movements in favour of liberty, was here very evident. What steps did they propose taking to maintain themselves in this improvisé independence, as well as to uphold the decrees published by the assembly of Corsica? In the meanwhile fearful intelligence arrived among the mountains: Toulon, hitherto in the occupation of the English, had just fallen into the hands of the French Republic, whose orders Corsica had treated with contempt; and, to crown the whole, a young officer of[118] twenty-six years of age, even the Buonaparte devoted to infamy and remorse by the Corsican council, had taken part in that memorable enterprise, and had been the principal cause of its success. The port of Toulon being now in the hands of the Republic, in thirty-six hours a squadron might arrive, and threaten with entire destruction the companions of Paoli.

Just at this difficult juncture the English Mediterranean fleet appeared off Ajaccio, bringing news from Toulon and tidings of the warlike preparations going on there; the admiral also offered his protection to Corsica, agreeing to recognise her independence, under the sovereignty of the king of Great Britain. Paoli went on board the squadron to treat with the admiral regarding his country, and a general assembly was convoked to meet on the 10th of June, 1794, for the purpose of determining upon the form of constitution to be established. Their plan tallied nearly with the ideas of the English Magna Charta, proposing the establishment of a parliament which should consist of two chambers, a council of state, and a viceroy supported by responsible ministers. Paoli proposed Pozzo di Borgo as president of the council. When the latter was presented to Admiral Elliott he gazed upon his swarthy complexion, his sparkling eyes, and meagre and active figure, and asked Paoli whether that was the person he proposed placing at the head of the government. "I can answer for him," said Paoli; "he is a young man as well fitted for the government of a nation as he is capable of leading his countrymen unflinchingly on the field of battle. You may place implicit confidence in him." Upon this testimony the admiral confirmed his choice.

The state-council being the executive portion of the Corsican government, the duty devolved upon Pozzo di Borgo of remodelling the institutions of his country,[119] which was henceforward to be free. I have seen the complete code of this administration: it is a summary of the public rights of the nation, a collection of primitive laws, one of those codes which regulates the most trifling circumstances affecting the interests of the people; among us it is a great historical curiosity, for we are too far advanced in civilisation to be capable of forming an idea of the first requirements of a people of such primitive habits.

The national government in Corsica lasted, however, barely two years; the protection afforded by England was at too great a distance, and a few regiments despatched from Gibraltar did not possess sufficient influence to restrain the population of the cities devoted to France, which was at that time every where victorious, and, by its proximity, constantly held a sword suspended over the government of Paoli and Pozzo di Borgo. The latter embarked on board the English fleet when it became evident the crisis could no longer be averted, and that the standard of the French Republic was about to be planted at Ajaccio. This squadron quitted the shores of Corsica, bearing with it all the sad remains of the ruined government; it touched at the island of Elba, sailed towards Naples, and from thence again to Elba—rather a curious circumstance, which long held a place in the recollection of Pozzo di Borgo, and which may possibly have in some degree influenced the resolution of the Allies, in 1814, to confer upon Napoleon the sovereignty of Porto Ferrajo. The Corsican president completed his voyage to England in the Minerva, which formed part of the squadron of Nelson, who lost an eye in Corsica, and was afterwards so celebrated; but he was then only in the dawn of his fame, and had not attained to the renown which crowned his name at Aboukir and Trafalgar.


Pozzo di Borgo remained eighteen months in London, where he received great attention from the English ministry, who considered him to have displayed great method and ability during his short administration. Having become intimate with some old French families, he then began his career of diplomacy and secret negotiations; which, at a late period, led him into a more extended sphere of action. He was at Vienna in 1798, at the time of the campaign of Suwarof, when foreign courts were agitated by so many various projects. Tremendous shocks had been experienced in France. On emerging from the reign of terror, and the formidable system of unity proclaimed by the Convention, a strong and deeply rooted reaction towards the restoration of the royal family had taken place; the royalist colours were worn in good society, and the most extreme detestation was felt for the revolution, because it had not as yet given birth to any regular system of government. At this time Buonaparte was in Egypt, with the greater part of the brave legions who had conquered Italy and the Rhine; all our foreign conquests were lost to us; on the Alps we were hardly able to retain a few posts, and they were closely pressed; and, as a climax, Suwarof appeared with victory in his train—Suwarof, the hero and saint of the Russian army—Suwarof, around whom rallied all the hopes of the coalition! Pozzo di Borgo was engaged in all the diplomatic arrangements that accompanied the military proceedings.

The antipathy that existed between the Austrians and Russians, far more than the battle of Zurich, put a stop to the progress of the coalition, and Pozzo di Borgo remained some time at Vienna, receiving a pension there as a French emigrant of noble birth. It was at the time when one of that family of Buonapartes, proscribed by the Assembly of Corsica, was elevated to the Consulate, and being now[121] in the position of a powerful dictator, he had established an efficient government in France, and was engaged in repairing the wrecks of the administration by means of his steady energy. The power of the laws once more became manifest; the executive administration was lodged in the hands of a few, and was active and advantageous to the people; and, by a singular chance, which the caprices of fortune can alone explain, the old friends of the Buonapartes, the Arenas of Ajaccio, were proscribed by the young Corsican, and delivered over to military law, or driven into exile. Other destinies, besides those of a city, or a population of about 100,000 souls, claimed the attention of Napoleon Buonaparte, now completely detached from his native country; but, in spite of all these commotions, his thoughts more than once turned upon his old personal enemy, Pozzo di Borgo, then on his journey from London to Vienna, and who must have shed some tears of vexation when he saw the power of the young consul extend so far as to prescribe to Europe the peace of Amiens. The shade of Paoli arose to protest against this immense advancement of the Buonapartes.[18]

When war again resounded on the earth, Pozzo di Borgo entered the service of Russia, and devoted himself to the diplomatic line. The firmness of character, the quick apprehension of facts, and the knowledge of mankind which he evinced, together with an extreme delicacy of judgment, were certain pledges of his success in the conduct of business between one government and another. He received the title of Conseiller d'Etat at St. Petersburg, and was soon despatched to the court of Vienna, charged with a secret mission. The prince whose service[122] he had entered was that Alexander whose generous and mystical mind was sadly employed in veiling, by the uprightness of his conduct, and the exalted tenor of his life, a mournful recollection which weighed upon his heart and his conscience. The revolution of the palace, that had placed Alexander on the throne, had been directed by England; and consequently must have been inclined to favour the coalition against Buonaparte, who was about to place the imperial crown upon his heroic brow; and Pozzo di Borgo was one of the diplomatic agents charged with special and secret missions to the allied courts, once more united against France.

We now find him at Vienna; but he only remained there a few months, for the Czar was desirous of acting with great vigour, and therefore despatched him, as Russian commissioner, to the Anglo-Russian and Neapolitan army, which was about to commence operations in the south of Europe under the influence of the noble Queen Caroline, so grossly slandered in the pamphlets issued by Napoleon. This army had hardly assembled at Naples, when the artillery of Austerlitz and the shouts of victory filled the air; and, as an immediate consequence, the peace of Presburg was signed. As this treaty separated Austria from the coalition, it occasioned the dissolution of the army of Naples; and Pozzo di Borgo returned to Vienna, and from thence to St. Petersburg, where great military events were in preparation.

During the campaign crowned by the battle of Austerlitz, when Napoleon had advanced so boldly into the interior of Moravia, Prussia had hesitated whether she should join the coalition. It was impossible to deny her public conduct in that respect, and Napoleon had borne it in mind; this indecision, however, ceased after the battle of Austerlitz, and a twelvemonth afterwards the[123] united force of the Russians and Prussians was drawn up together.

Pozzo di Borgo was called upon to accompany the emperor in this campaign, and the Czar offered him rank in the army; such being the custom of Russia, where there is no advancement except by means of military rank: he therefore received the title of Colonel in the suite of the emperor, a post which attached him to the person of the sovereign. Being, for the fourth time, despatched to Vienna, after the battle of Jena, he strove to arouse Austria from the torpor into which the peace of Presburg had plunged her, but in vain; for the Austrian cabinet was then desirous of peace at any price. Colonel Pozzo received a commission to proceed to the Dardanelles, to treat for peace with the Turks, in conjunction with the English envoy; he was received on board the Russian fleet, under the orders of Admiral Siniavim, stationed at the entrance of the Dardanelles, and off the island of Tenedos; he was present in the admiral's ship at the battle of Mount Athos, between the Russian fleet and that of the sultan, and there received his first military decoration.

Napoleon was now approaching the apogée of his glory: the French and Russian armies had bravely measured their strength, and the French emperor had so greatly risen in Alexander's estimation that, at the peace of Tilsit, Napoleon was saluted with the title of Brother, at the very time the old Russian aristocracy were accusing their sovereign of abandoning the cause of his country. In the interchange of projects which took place at Tilsit—in those friendly meetings, when the waters of the Niemen flowed beneath the two emperors, locked in each other's arms, was it possible Colonel Pozzo should not be aware that his services[124] would henceforth be an embarrassment to Russia? Upon his arrival at St. Petersburg he held a conversation with the emperor, full of confidence and unreserve on both sides, when each party took a candid survey of his position. The Emperor Alexander declared to Colonel Pozzo that there was no reason he should leave his service, and that the ties of friendship he had contracted with Napoleon did not oblige him to make such a sacrifice. The colonel replied that he could no longer be useful to his sovereign; on the contrary, he should be a source of embarrassment to him, for Buonaparte had not forgotten the feud of his early days: sooner or later he would demand the banishment of his old enemy, the Czar would be too generous to agree to this, and his refusal would raise difficulties for his government. "Besides," said he, "the alliance between your majesty and Napoleon will not be of long duration; I am well acquainted with the deceitful character and insatiable ambition of Buonaparte. At this moment one of your majesty's hands is held by Persia, the other by Turkey, and Buonaparte presses upon your chest; get your hands free in the first instance, and then you will cast off the weight that now troubles you. Some years hence we shall meet again."

Count Pozzo requested permission to travel; and he was again at Vienna in 1808, when Austria, with her patient resignation, was preparing fresh armaments against Napoleon, and declaring the rupture that had taken place with him. I am not aware if history records a longer or more honourable struggle than that of Austria against the Revolution and the Empire. She submitted to every sacrifice, then prepared for battle; vanquished, she had recourse to negotiation; then again tried the fortune of war, until victory finally decided[125] against her, and she was crushed under the weight of the French eagles. Patient and laborious German nation, never didst thou despair of thy cause!

Pozzo di Borgo remained at Vienna during the whole campaign of 1809, and when peace was again imposed, Buonaparte did not forget him. He had taken an active part in all the diplomatic proceedings of Austria and Russia, and Napoleon was a person who always retained the remembrance of his enemies; accordingly, after the peace of Vienna, his first step was to demand the banishment of Colonel Pozzo di Borgo from the Austrian dominions. Alexander, warmly attached to Napoleon, had the weakness to consent, and this gave occasion to the fine and energetic letter, in which Colonel Pozzo already prophesied the invasion of Russia, and said to the Czar, "Sire, it will not be long before your majesty again summons me to your presence." In order to escape the fate which awaited him if his enemy of Ajaccio should succeed in seizing his person, he took the precaution of retiring to Constantinople, the only spot which still afforded him the power of quitting continental Europe and seeking refuge in England.

He was now a proscribed man, travelling in Syria, visiting Smyrna and Malta, and from Malta proceeding to London, where he arrived in October 1810. He was already an agent of some importance, on account of the missions upon which he had been employed; and the limited intercourse between England and the Continent made her set a value upon the information to be obtained from a man of political talent and experience, who had just arrived from the principal capitals of Europe. In several conferences with Lord Castlereagh, Colonel Pozzo explained to him the hopes he still entertained of a continental rising against the colossal empire of France: in the midst of all his great qualities, Napoleon had still[126] some vulnerable points, and nobody was better aware of them than Pozzo di Borgo, because he had studied them through the medium of his resentment. Who could be so well acquainted as he with that Buonaparte, whom he had had such opportunities of observing in the closest manner, with his infirmities, his fits of anger, his weaknesses, and his ambition?

At last the terrible war of 1812 broke out, and the French armies passed the Niemen. Russia was invaded; the battles of Moscowa and the Mojaisk drove back the armies of Alexander towards the sacred city of Moscow, and the ancient capital was reduced to ashes. During the whole of this campaign Pozzo di Borgo remained in London, and his influence was of service in promoting the union between Alexander and the English cabinet; he did not join the army of the Czar, because a revolution had taken place in the ideas of the cabinet of St. Petersburg. The fact was, that when Alexander found his finest provinces invaded, and the murderous war which was desolating his territory, he summoned to his assistance the old Russian spirit and the ancient traditions of the country; the banner of St. Nicholas was unfurled, the churches resounded with prayers and calls to arms against the invader, and the Czar placed himself at the head of the army: but this popular appeal had precisely the effect of rousing the national spirit against foreigners. Ever since the time of Peter the Great, the ideas of civilisation had favoured in Russia the influence of the Italians, the Germans, and the French, who filled many important military situations, and were raised to the first dignities of the state; and the old Russian families naturally entertained a jealous feeling regarding this influence. This colony of courtiers offended their pride, and interfered with their interests; therefore, when Alexander had occasion to invoke the[127] shades of his country at the foot of the Kremlin, and to rouse the devotion of the Muscovite nobility, who lived among their serfs in the central provinces, he was obliged to sacrifice the strangers to their prejudices. Pozzo di Borgo was not recalled till the close of the campaign, when the impulse had ceased to be entirely Russian, but had become more eccentric and inclined towards Poland and Prussia, and he returned through Sweden just at the time when Bernadotte was becoming more nearly connected with England, and, without however openly committing himself, had begun to lend a favourable ear to the overtures of the court of London. The Russian councillor was commissioned to encourage the inclination of Bernadotte, and to strive to forward a decision which would afford his sovereign a new opportunity of taking vengeance for the invasion of his country by the Emperor of the French. This was the first beginning of his intimacy with the Crown Prince of Sweden.

The Emperor Alexander received Pozzo di Borgo at Kalisch, after a separation of five years. They had parted immediately after the interview of Tilsit, which had so greatly reconciled the Czar to the politics of Napoleon. Now, how different was the situation of affairs! Alexander had seen his empire invaded by his ancient ally, his cities in flames; and, according to the excited ideas of Alexander, it was the sainted spirits of the ancient Russians who had raised the stormy tempests, and engulfed the immense army of Napoleon in the icy floods of the Beresina. The language of Alexander to Pozzo di Borgo reminded him of his sagacious prophecies, and the colonel made great efforts to win him back to simple and positive plans against the power of Napoleon; for having been one of the patriots of 1789, Colonel Pozzo perfectly understood the importance of the conspiracy of Mallet, and of the discontent that was[128] beginning to pervade France. He was opposed to all species of compromise, and his view of the case was to strive to effect a separation between the interests of France and her leader. Whilst Alexander, still prepossessed with the idea of the stupendous power of Napoleon, hesitated to plunge into the perils of a distant campaign, Pozzo di Borgo advised him to induce Prussia to take advantage of the secret societies, which proudly raised their heads at the cry of Germania or Teutonia, and to assemble all Buonaparte's rivals in glory under their banners, so as to occasion confusion and disorder in his preparations for war.

A threefold negotiation was now opened; the first with Moreau, whom they were desirous of drawing into France, to rouse the Republican party by the influence of his name; the second with Eugène and Murat, between whom they wanted to divide the kingdom of Italy; the third and last with Bernadotte, who was to join with the Swedish troops and effect a division in the French army. Pozzo di Borgo was charged with this last mission, furnished with full powers from the Emperor Alexander, while the Russians were advancing into Saxony. Without clearly explaining the views of the alliance with regard to France, or on the distinctive and positive results of the war, he was directed to suggest, in his conversations with the crown prince, all the possible events which might encourage the emulation of the old companions of the Emperor Napoleon; and he engaged, in the name of the Czar, to acknowledge Bernadotte as Crown Prince, and eventually, according to the order of succession, as King of Sweden: in the same manner he had promised to Moreau the presidency of a republic, if it should arise from the order of affairs, or from a popular anti-Buonapartist movement in Paris. One ought to have heard the ambassador himself recount all[129] the trouble and anxiety he experienced during this negociation; the vacillations of the Crown Prince, his ill-humours and discontent. Still he hesitated. At last, when the Swedish army was embarking at Karlscrona and landing at Stralsund, the artillery of Lutzen and Bautzen were heard in thunders through the whole of Germany. These brilliant victories had astonished the Crown Prince, and the Russian army was in full retreat through Upper Silesia. Still, though his troops were already assembled, he did not dare to come to a final decision; he could not forget the star of his former master, the remembrance of his victorious eagles, the irresistible influence of his glory; the Swedes, therefore, halted at Stralsund, and awaited the course of events. Bernadotte was a powerful ally; not only did he bring into the field 20,000 brave Swedes, but also his name, like that of Moreau, might be the means of sowing dissension and uneasiness in the French army, if the invasion were to take place; when, therefore, in the interval afforded by the armistice of Neumark, Colonel Pozzo observed the hesitation he still exhibited, he hastened to Stralsund, by the desire of Alexander, to endeavour to persuade him to march at once. He had, however, the greatest difficulty in inducing him to join the military congress of Trachenburg, where the plans were laid for the campaign against Napoleon, and it was necessary he should exhibit, at the same time, firmness with Bernadotte and forbearance towards Sir Charles Stewart, afterwards Lord Londonderry, a young and rather presumptuous officer, who was commissioner from England, and was always ready to give offence to an old soldier like Bernadotte. His efforts were crowned with success; the Crown Prince had already had an interview with Moreau, and Pozzo di Borgo afterwards held a confidential conversation with both those personal enemies[130] of Napoleon, in which they reciprocally exchanged their hopes, their present hatred, and old resentments, Pozzo against the adversary of Paoli, Moreau against the Consul, and Bernadotte against the Emperor. The plan adopted by the allied powers at the military congress of Trachenburg was very simple. Colonel Pozzo di Borgo maintained that they ought to march at once upon Paris, the central point of Napoleon's strength or weakness, where the question would speedily be settled; and this was the opinion entertained by all those military men who mingled any political ideas of the decline of Buonaparte's power and of his personal character with the question of war. Besides, in the opinion of the Russian envoy, Buonaparte and France were not synonymous terms; and it was to save France and her liberty that he so closely pursued the Emperor.

At this time the congress of Prague was assembled, which was in reality nothing more than an armistice required by all the forces. Metternich had assumed for Austria a position of armed mediation, being the commencement of a new political system, a wary and provident plan, which, in her state of relative weakness and isolation, gave her a predominant influence over cabinets far more powerful than her own. All the negotiations of this congress tended to one point only; the endeavour to detach Austria from this mediatorial system, and to induce her to decide in favour of one side or the other,—either for the coalition, or for France. In the army of Napoleon, as well as among the allies, a strong desire for peace existed, with this difference, that the victorious soldiers of the Emperor were thoroughly weary of war; for them the illusions of conquest had no longer any charms, and their generals, in the midst of the wonderful success that had crowned their arms, regretted the life of luxury and enjoyment they had been accustomed[131] to lead in Paris. The sons of Germany, ardent in their desire for liberty, flocked to the ranks of the allied armies, under the command of old Blucher, whose mind was also full of enthusiasm for the German unity; while the general officers of the French army indulged in dreams of their hotels, in the Chaussée d'Antin, or the Rue de Bourbon, or their delightful retreats at Malmaison and Grosbois, while their brothers-in-arms were falling under the enemy's fire,—that fire which no longer respected the marshals. An unanimous cry of bitter accusation was heard among the staff, "That man will make an end of us all!" Exaggerated accounts of disaffection were brought to the Emperor. At one time some thousands of conscripts were said to have mutilated their fingers, in order that they might be sent back to their homes; at another they reported the desertion of the brave fellows who had cried "Vive l'Empereur!" under the grape-shot of Lutzen and Bautzen. The allies were well aware of this decline of military ardour in the French camp, and they knew a feeling of weakness and a disposition to discord were connected with it. The proposals for peace at Prague never were sincere on the part of Russia and Prussia, and the Emperor was thoroughly deceived in imagining them to be so.

The main object was to prevail upon Austria to declare herself openly; and here Napoleon was guilty of many faults. In the situation assumed by the cabinet of Vienna, a good deal was naturally exacted, and with perfect justice, for upon them depended the strength, and we may almost say the success, of the coalition. In offering herself as a mediator, Austria was desirous of regaining the position she had lost during the struggle with Napoleon, and the law was now in her own hands, for she could throw the weight of 300,000 men into[132] either scale. Napoleon committed the great oversight of not acceding to the offers of the cabinet of Vienna: he went farther still; he deeply offended the minister who directed the fates of that cabinet—Prince Metternich, a man of extraordinary ability and consideration, and whose inclinations had previously tended towards France. I have elsewhere related the stormy and imprudent scene which broke up the conference between Buonaparte and the Austrian minister.[19]

The allied sovereigns awaited the decision of the cabinet of Vienna with indescribable anxiety. It was eleven o'clock at night, and they were all assembled in a barn; the ministers, Count Nesselrode, Pozzo di Borgo, and Hardenburg, in the lower apartment; the Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia on the first floor: the rain descended in torrents, and it was one of those stormy nights which add even to the horrors of war, when all at once a courier arrived, bearing a letter for Count Nesselrode, which contained merely these words,—"Austria has decided, and four armies will be at the disposal of the Alliance." Imagination may picture the shouts of joy, the transports of the coalition, on thus receiving the support of 300,000 men, who were to join the rest of the army by the mountains of Bohemia. The chances of war were now clearly against Napoleon; and General Pozzo di Borgo, for he had lately been raised to the rank of major-general, was again despatched, in the character of commissioner, from the Emperor Alexander to the Crown Prince of Sweden, who at this time covered Berlin at the head of an army, composed of 40,000 Prussians, 30,000 Russians, and 20,000 Swedes.

The most glorious events recorded in the military history of France have nothing that can bear a comparison[133] with the admirable defence of Dresden by Napoleon, when all the armies of the coalition went successively to try their strength under its walls. They were repulsed with considerable loss, and Moreau was mortally wounded on the field of battle; but this admirable manœuvre of concentration was followed by a very great fault—the division of the main body of his army, one portion being intrusted to General Vandamme, the other to some marshals upon whose deeds the star of Napoleon's fortune did not shine. At Gross Beeren, Bernadotte broke the brilliant line of the French, at the same time that the corps of Vandamme was cut to pieces or taken prisoner by the coalesced enemy, and the Emperor was obliged to retreat beyond the Elbe. I cast a veil over the mournful catastrophe of Leipsic, where so many faults were committed, and so much want of foresight exhibited, both on the part of Napoleon, and also of those who were charged with the execution of his orders; the sad disorder, the horrible confusion that prevailed, when the soldiers were decimated at once by sickness in the hospital, the steel of the enemy, and the hordes of peasants raised by Blucher along his path, and which swallowed up the French army, already perishing with hunger, without guns, and barefooted, in the midst of the cold rains of October.

The coalition was now victorious; its advanced guard had reached the banks of the Rhine. Still they could not refrain from a degree of secret terror as they approached the French territory, which was still pervaded by the presiding genius of Napoleon. The army of Bernadotte was separated from the allies to march against Holstein, invade Denmark, and prepare a rising in Holland; and General Pozzo di Borgo quitted him to proceed on a mission to Frankfort, to concert military[134] operations with the allies. They had there a better opportunity of judging of the state of public feeling in France, and were able to study the progress that had been made by the different opinions and parties against the imperial government. The Emperor's administration had surpassed itself; the Senate had voted troops upon troops, the levies proceeded with extraordinary energy, and they sought by every means, pamphlets, songs, operas—in short, nothing was neglected to re-awaken the cry of national independence in the breasts of the French nation. But though from the powerful organisation of the empire every thing appeared clear on the surface, its stability went no deeper; there was an under-current of murmurs, complete dissatisfaction, and weariness of mind; commerce was annihilated, leaving the unemployed workmen no resource but a musket, and no choice but of seeking bread or death with the army. Secret agitations began to be whispered about every where; the legislative body had separated itself from Napoleon by a protest, executed under the influence of discontent, and of MM. Lainé and Reynouard, and it had in consequence been dissolved; the council of the regency of Maria Louisa was composed of timid, hesitating men; some, like Talleyrand, ready to abandon a falling cause; the people called for a termination of this state of affairs, and gloomy, foreboding clouds hung on the brow of Napoleon.

Existing circumstances certainly offered a favourable opportunity for invading the imperial territory; but were the allies well agreed upon the end they proposed to themselves? Were they all actuated by the same interests? Although Austria had made an effort to shake off the enormous power of Napoleon, would she be willing to ruin the son-in-law of her own emperor, Francis II.,[135] especially when the advantages resulting from it would fall principally to the share of Russia and Prussia, whose power had been already excessively augmented by the late events? Having regained the territories of which Napoleon had formerly deprived her, why should she join in the invasion of France, and aim a last blow at a nation so necessary to the balance of power in Europe? Even England, though the determined enemy of Buonaparte, could not fail to entertain some degree of uneasiness in observing the immense increase of the Russian influence, and the ministers were assailed with incessant questions as to the object and probable termination of the war. All these circumstances caused a dread that the coalition was ready to fall to pieces at the very moment its great object had been attained. This state of affairs soon became evident to the diplomatic chiefs assembled at the conference of Frankfort, and Pozzo di Borgo was despatched by the three sovereigns on a mission to the Prince Regent to request the presence of Lord Castlereagh, the English prime minister, at head-quarters, in order to strengthen the bands of the coalition and determine its object. The general lost no time in accomplishing his voyage, and arrived in London in the beginning of January 1814, while parliament was sitting, and just at the time when Lord Castlereagh had been obliged to enter into an explanation in answer to the pressing requisitions of the Whigs. He was the bearer of an autograph letter to the Prince Regent from the allied sovereigns, by which they engaged to follow the most moderate measures, and as far as possible to keep the balance of power in Europe in view, so as to remove any fears on the part of England. It was just six years since Pozzo di Borgo, as a proscribed person, had last visited that country, and under what different auspices he now returned to it! He came as the organ[136] of the triumphant coalition, and his reception was distinguished by all the magnificence and joy inspired by the late victories. With what cordiality Lord Wellesley pressed his hand! "I believe, my dear Pozzo," said the marquess, "you and I are the two men who most earnestly desire the fall of Buonaparte." Lord Castlereagh had already begun to entertain some thoughts of the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty, and he communicated his idea to General Pozzo di Borgo, who replied, "You are well aware, my lord, that we must never present any but a perfectly simple idea to the sovereigns; complicated matters do not take hold of their minds. Let us first overturn Buonaparte,—this is a thing we shall easily make the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia understand,—and then afterwards, when the coast is clear, we can return to examine the second difficulty." "Very well," said Lord Castlereagh, "whom do you wish us to send to the Continent?" "If Mr. Pitt were alive," replied the general, "I would tell him to hold himself in readiness; it is sufficient to make you understand that we are most anxious to see you in person on the Rhine, that the question may not get perplexed and confused."

It was with these opinions that Pozzo di Borgo visited the French princes, especially the Comte d'Artois. His royal highness was anxious to appear at head-quarters, and blend the idea of a restoration with the plan of the campaign of the allies, but General Pozzo strongly opposed his design. "Monseigneur," said he, "you are well aware of my devotion to your person and to your interests, but do not come to spoil our game; we still have great difficulties to overcome effecting the fall of Napoleon, when that point is gained it will be necessary to turn to something else, and your turn and your name will naturally occur."


It was a matter of some delicacy to obtain the departure of Lord Castlereagh and the full and entire adhesion of England to the coalition; they were obliged to work at it a long while with the Prince Regent and some influential members of parliament; at last, at a dinner given by Lady Castlereagh, the English minister, on rising from table, said to the emperor's messenger, "Well, my dear Pozzo, it is decided that I am to accompany you; the Prince Regent has given me an autograph letter for the sovereigns, and we shall act in concert and good fellowship with you." The two diplomatists embraced each other with delight, two days afterwards they embarked for the Continent, and in three weeks rejoined the sovereigns at Baden.

Lord Castlereagh's arrival at head-quarters strengthened the unity of the alliance and enabled them to form some resolutions for the general benefit, and also to decide upon the plan of the political campaign about to be commenced against Buonaparte. England had never recognised the Emperor of the French, and in all the acts of parliament, as well as those of the cabinet, he had no other designation than that of the common enemy, or the head of the government, a circumstance which facilitated Pozzo di Borgo's labours with Lord Castlereagh towards gaining the object he had in view, viz., the complete overthrow of Napoleon. The English minister, who was armed with full powers, laid down as the fundamental principle of all their diplomatic transactions, that France, although necessary to the balance of power in Europe, must be reduced within her ancient territorial limits, a principle which almost inevitably involved the restoration of the ancient dynasty. This, however, was only mentioned in the acts, both public and secret, of the congress, as a possibility reserved for a further consideration of the French question.


One of the most important principles laid down in the political plan of the alliance was the separation of the question concerning Napoleon from those regarding the interests of France. This line of conduct was recommended by Bernadotte, Pozzo di Borgo, and the patriot party, who were the enemies of the emperor, and it was formally announced in the public acts of Frankfort and the proclamations of all the allied troops who crossed the Rhine. Their great object was to weaken the common enemy, at the same time that they promised France that her ancient territory should remain untouched, and hinted at the possibility of establishing a constitution independent of the emperor. By adopting this plan they summoned all disaffected persons to the assistance of the coalition; and, without entering into engagements with any one party, they offered to all the hope of bringing their pretensions and wishes to a favourable issue; they even contrived to conciliate the partisans of a republican form of government as well as the advocates of the regency of Maria Louisa.

Pozzo di Borgo continued attached to the person of the Emperor Alexander during the whole of the operations of 1814, that glorious but melancholy campaign where the military genius of Napoleon shone with so brilliant a lustre—a bright ray emanating from that star which appeared but for a fleeting moment, soon to grow dim and set for ever! During the negotiations at Chatillon, General Pozzo urged the rejection of all the propositions of the French emperor, and also that the time and circumstances granted by the coalition to him whose attempts had so often been crowned with victory, should have a limit defined with the utmost accuracy. "Grant no armistice, but march en masse straight to Paris!" Such was the advice of Pozzo di Borgo, to whom some overtures had already been made by Talleybrand[139] and the disaffected party in the capital. Had the preliminaries of peace been accepted, a treaty might possibly have been entered into at Chatillon with Napoleon and Maria Louisa; but how would it have been possible for the emperor to submit to the ancient limits of France, without exposing himself to inevitable ruin in the interior of his kingdom? M. de Caulaincourt, it is true, received orders to accede to the proposed conditions, but it was then too late. It would, however, have been impossible for Napoleon to have continued peaceably on the throne, even had pacific terms been granted him, under existing circumstances; for his government would have been overturned by an internal revolution. How could the victorious emperor, who had given laws to the world, now in his turn submit to receive laws from the whole of Europe combined against him? And, supposing he had returned to Paris with the humiliating treaties which deprived France of all her conquests and reduced her within the narrow limits she formerly occupied, would not the loss of his throne have been, sooner or later, the inevitable consequence of such a change of circumstances? Would not discontent have reared its head at every step he took? Or would his government still have retained sufficient power and influence to secure him the possession of absolute dominion? As soon as peace had been proclaimed, the adverse parties would have burst forth with violence, and Napoleon have been overcome by a republican insurrection. They would have said to the emperor, "What have you done with the conquests of the republic and with the legions it bequeathed to you?" And, to escape from the tumult of public opinion, the emperor would have been forced again to engage in some military enterprise. "The peace you grant to Napoleon," said Pozzo di Borgo, "will merely be giving him an opportunity of[140] recruiting his strength, and in less than a year you will find him again engaged in an attack upon your territories; with the spirit of a gambler, he will stake his last crown upon his last card."

For the sake of giving a powerful unity to the alliance, the sovereigns signed the famous treaty of Chaumont, which was a general coalition of the whole of Europe against the common enemy; they declared, in the first place, that they would not separate until they had attained the objects they proposed to themselves, which were a general peace and the establishment of independence and of the rights of all the nations of Europe. In addition to this, it was agreed that each power was to keep up a standing army of 150,000 men besides those in garrison; England undertook to furnish immense subsidies; and they engaged mutually to support each other with a formidable armed contingent, in case any of the governments should be threatened. The campaign then proceeded with fresh vigour, and the advance upon Paris produced all the effect anticipated by the sovereigns. I will not describe the sad events that succeeded; they are, alas! but too well known. General Pozzo di Borgo was in the suite of the Emperor Alexander when he entered the city, and from that time forth he assumed the part of a mediator between France and the allies.

We must take a retrospect of that melancholy period of our disasters in order to form a reasonable judgment of the events about to be accomplished. The hearts of the whole nation were filled with weariness to a most painful degree. Some few soldiers might, perhaps, have been ready to range themselves around the emperor and defend his eagles which, though now abased, had so often led them to victory; but the great mass of the population was no longer desirous of war; a feeling of hatred towards[141] Napoleon had gradually arisen among the republican party and the Royalists, who were in a state of commotion; while, on the other hand, the proclamations of Schwartzenburg, and the promises he had made at the time of his entry into Paris, had inspired hopes of repose and reasonable liberty. Pozzo di Borgo exerted all his influence over the mind of Alexander to lead him towards the liberal system, upon which his resolutions appear to have been formed. The whole idea of the constitutional charter, and all the plans breathing a spirit of liberty, were suggested at the meetings in Talleyrand's house, where the patriots used to assemble to give vent to their dissatisfaction with the conduct of Napoleon. I must here mention a curious circumstance relating to the famous proclamation of Schwartzenburg which first made open mention of the Bourbons. It was the work of Count Pozzo, and Schwartzenburg had not signed it when Alexander said to him in a meeting at the head-quarters of Bondy, "My dear prince, you have written an admirable proclamation—it is perfect; sign it, you will get great credit for it." And the prince, partly through self-love, and partly through respect for the Emperor Alexander, affixed his signature to the document.[20]

General Pozzo di Borgo had kept up his acquaintance with all the patriots of 1789, whose noble and generous principles of independence met with a sympathetic feeling in the breast of Alexander. Napoleon, the representative of a powerful and united system of government, would only be overcome by the principle of liberty. "Europe," said Talleyrand, "was then[142] on the highroad to emancipation; it was with the name of Fatherland, with the enthusiasm for free institutions, that the people had been excited to rise against him, who was termed by the Germans the oppressor of mankind." These ideas prevailed, and Count Pozzo di Borgo was appointed commissioner from the Emperor Alexander to the provisional government.

That government certainly stood in need of the support of the friend of Paoli, who pursued with relentless perseverance the last glimmering ray of Napoleon's fortune. Some of the marshals had just made an attempt to induce the Emperor Alexander to treat with the regency, and, moved by the recollection of his ancient friendship, and by the influence which the noble countenance of Napoleon exercised over his mind, the Czar would, perhaps, have agreed to the proposal, when Pozzo di Borgo was despatched in haste by the provisional government to Alexander, to put a stop to the treaty, and he worked on the mind of the Czar by means of the same considerations he had formerly presented to his view, and of which he had acknowledged the justice. "The regency was still Napoleon, and France no longer desired his rule; to sign a peace with him was merely to expose themselves to a repetition of hostilities; if Europe was desirous of rest, they must have done with the imperial system altogether." The commissioner spent two hours in this conversation, and, by his perseverance, he obtained the important declaration of the allied sovereigns, that they would enter into no treaty with the emperor or his family. Having gained this point, he returned with speed to the provisional government, and gave vent to the picturesque expression of his triumph in his communication to Talleyrand. "My dear prince," said he, "I certainly cannot[143] be said single-handed to have politically killed Buonaparte, but I have cast the last clod of earth upon his head."

Thus was played the drama of life between these two men: Pozzo, formerly proscribed by Buonaparte, now came in his turn to be present at the obsequies of his rival's power! Born within a few months of each other, the one had quitted Ajaccio merely with the rank of a sub-lieutenant, and had ascended the greatest throne under heaven; the other, as an exile, had traversed Europe, to rouse the spirit of war and vengeance against his compatriot, and, after unheard-of efforts, had at last succeeded in realising the plan which had always kept possession of his mind. He had his foot on his enemy's neck, and had him banished to the island of Elba, which he had himself twice sailed past, pursued by the fortune of his rival. General Pozzo never would admit the hypothesis that France and Buonaparte were the same thing; and in this respect he was as good a patriot as Moreau, Lannes, Bernadotte, Massena, Dessoles, and Gouvion St. Cyr.

As soon as the senate had decided upon the restoration of the ancient dynasty, and laid the foundations of the constitution, Pozzo di Borgo was commissioned by the sovereigns to go to London, to meet Louis XVIII. This was not only an honourable mission of congratulation to the new French sovereign; the general's special duty was to explain to Louis the real state of public opinion in France, and the necessity of adopting the constitutional forms and liberal ideas of a charter, to answer the public expectation. He went with all possible speed to London, for the provisional government were well aware that the ardent royalist party would immediately surround the French king, and it was necessary to prevent his being guilty of any imprudence;[144] and this they hoped to effect by means of the salutary intervention of Pozzo di Borgo, especially as his being the confidential servant of the Emperor Alexander would naturally invest him with a considerable degree of influence over the mind of Louis XVIII. When the general arrived at Calais, he engaged a packet-boat for his sole use, and at the moment of his embarkation, an episode occurred, which he often related as a proof of the instability of human opinions. He was standing on the sea-shore, when a stranger accosted him, and requested a passage in his little vessel to enable him to go and meet the king. "Who are you?" asked Pozzo di Borgo. "I am the Duc de la Rochefoucauld Liancourt," replied the stranger; "and I am going to the king to resume my ancient office." One may imagine the amazement of the ambassador; the Duc de Liancourt had not only deeply insulted the Comte de Provence at the Constituent Assembly, but he had afterwards carried his offence still farther, by sending back to him, from the United States, the ribbon of his orders, as a mark of his contempt for what he called the crotchets of the old school: Louis XVIII. could not forget this contemptuous bearing in a man of noble birth.

The ambassador did not refuse a passage to the noble duke; and it was a most curious circumstance that the first step taken by M. de Liancourt when they reached the royal yacht in which Louis had embarked, was to adorn himself with the blue ribbon he had formerly sent back to the king during his sojourn in the land of equality and liberty. It is impossible to describe the despair of the duke when he found he could not be received by Louis XVIII., while Count Pozzo was welcomed in the warmest manner, and the king expressed himself in the most flattering language, with tears in his eyes. The ambassador from the allies explained the[145] orders he had received. "Though the constitution proclaimed by the senate might have fallen into contempt, it was no reason for abandoning the principles of liberty upon which it was founded." Pozzo di Borgo remained with the king during his voyage, and assisted him in preparing the declaration issued at St. Ouen, containing the plan of such a representative system as the liberal party were desirous of establishing in France. Let us imagine that country passing from the military rule of Napoleon into constitutional principles, finding herself free, on emerging from the firm, but despotic government of the emperor, had she not already gained an immense step in securing the advantages of a public representation? The treaty of Paris was based on the diplomatic scheme determined upon at Chaumont and Chatillon: it restrained France within her ancient limits, and placed her under the government of the ancient dynasty, thus offering a pledge of peace and the maintenance of order, so necessary to the tranquillity of Europe.

General Pozzo di Borgo remained in Paris as Russian ambassador to the new French government, until the meeting of the Congress of Vienna, where all the diplomatic chiefs were summoned to attend. I will not recount the events of that period, having related them in a work especially devoted to the history of those times;[21] I will only observe, that had they listened at Vienna to the warnings, derived from the former experience of the friend of Paoli, France would never have suffered the misfortunes inflicted by the reign of the Hundred Days. The corps diplomatique received intelligence that Napoleon was seeking the opportunity of returning from exile, and reappearing in Europe, and General[146] Pozzo, who well knew the energy of his countryman, proposed removing him to a more secure spot,—as, for example, one of the islands of the African Ocean, from whence escape would be impossible, so as to prevent any risk of his again throwing the whole of Europe into a state of danger and revolution.

At Vienna, a coldness took place for the second time between Alexander and his confidential employé, occasioned by the difference of their opinions on the question of Poland. The Czar had taken it into his head that Poland must be formed into a vast kingdom, separated by its constitution from Russia, and even comprehending its ancient provinces within its boundaries, and Pozzo di Borgo was strongly opposed to the whole scheme: he foretold the consequences of such a proceeding in an exceedingly well-written memorial, full of sound judgment, and evincing a deep and extensive consideration of the subject. "The creation of such a kingdom," said he, "would only be encouraging the spirit of rebellion, and this would eventually involve the nobility and people of Poland in a deeper slavery; for if an insurrection were to take place, it would be necessary to repress it with severity."[22] Alas, he spoke but too truly! What has been the ruin of Poland, and caused the dispersion of her generous nobility? Was it not the insane project of an impossible revolution? The Emperor Alexander withdrew for a short time his confidence from General Pozzo, to place it in Count Capo d'Istria, a man of rather a dreamy and visionary cast of mind, and whose opinion exactly coincided with his own,[147] concerning the emancipation of Greece and Poland, under the suzeraineté of the Czar.

But all these occurrences were suddenly interrupted by the landing of Napoleon in the gulf of Juan. It was like the fall of a thunderbolt. Pozzo di Borgo, however, received the intelligence without any appearance of surprise; and when the corps diplomatique sought to remove the fears that had been excited as to the probability of war, he replied, "I well know Buonaparte; since he has landed, he will proceed to Paris, and if so, there must be no delay, no attempt at pacific measures; Europe should march at once against the common enemy." The Emperor Alexander sent for Pozzo di Borgo, to whom he restored his perfect confidence, and then despatched him to Ghent to Louis XVIII., charged with a military mission to the Anglo-Prussian army of the Low Countries. A general cry for war now arose at Vienna, and the allied powers made preparations for a fresh campaign, in spite of all the endeavours of Napoleon to separate Austria and Russia from the coalition. With this view, it is well known that he transmitted to Alexander a copy of the secret treaty concluded in March 1814, between England, France, and Austria, against Russia, relative to the Polish question; and from this point dates the extreme antipathy of Alexander for Talleyrand—an antipathy which more than once stood in the way of diplomatic transactions after the second invasion of France.

General Pozzo arrived in Belgium, now the inevitable theatre of war, as Russian commissary to the Anglo-Prussian army, which formed the advanced guard of the coalition, at the very moment Napoleon made his appearance on the frontier. The Duke of Wellington was informed of the sudden arrival of his terrible adversary,[148] in the midst of a brilliant ball, under the thousand lustres of the palace of Laeken: the English troops were assembled in all haste, and a courier was despatched to Bulow, to desire him to quicken his march, and join the rest of the army. The Prussians, under Blucher, received a check at Ligny, and the English took up their position at Mont St. Jean. Pozzo di Borgo arrived there in a state of considerable anxiety. "How long do you think you can hold out?" said he. "I do not put much faith in the Belgians," replied the Duke of Wellington; "but I have a dozen British regiments with me, and I will engage to maintain my ground all day; but Bulow must come to my assistance before five o'clock in the evening." In the middle of the battle a note arrived from Bulow, promising his arrival in less than three hours; the news flew along the ranks, and the English army, feebly supported by the Belgians, resisted with an obstinate courage, which gained them the victory. At the funereal battle of Waterloo, Count Pozzo di Borgo received rather a serious wound.

Napoleon's last battle-field was fought and lost! still Count Pozzo felt uneasy, and with reason, for the army of Alexander had taken no part in these events, indeed it had scarcely reached Germany; and was it not probable that the Duke of Wellington and Blucher, profiting by their successes, might take upon themselves to decide alone upon the fate of France? Pozzo di Borgo sent for a young Russian officer serving in the Prussian army, and said to him, "Spare not your horses, but in forty-eight hours let the czar be informed of this victory! Your fortune awaits you at the end of your journey." Though suffering from his wound, the diplomatist followed the Duke of Wellington closely to Paris: he resumed his office of ambassador to Louis XVIII., but[149] without the same favourable circumstances in regard to credit, as he had enjoyed in 1814. As he had foreseen, the occupation of Paris by the English and Prussian generals had rendered them all powerful there, the Fouché-Talleyrand ministry was almost entirely formed by the Duke of Wellington, and both those political characters were known to be devoted to England. Russia thus played but a secondary part, which it was very desirable should be augmented; but the arrival of the Emperor Alexander at the head of 230,000 bayonets soon changed the face of affairs.

Talleyrand had evidence of this from the very first steps taken towards the preliminaries of peace; the Czar had an old grudge against the French plenipotentiary at Vienna, and he would not hear of any negotiation carried on by him; still Alexander's mediation was indispensable to our interests, in the discussions preparatory to a treaty of peace. England, Prussia, and Germany, exacted the most exorbitant conditions, being apparently desirous of making the most of their victory, and vieing with each other in the pillage of our unfortunate country. Lord Castlereagh's first minutes demanded the cession of a chain of fortresses along the Belgic frontier from Calais to Maubeuge; while the Prussians and Germans claimed Alsace and part of Lorraine; who but the Czar could defend us from the greediness of our conquerors? Talleyrand tried to appease Alexander by promising a high political situation to his ambassador; he offered Pozzo di Borgo the ministry of the interior, combined with that of the police, now vacant by the resignation of Fouché, or any other appointment he might prefer; but Count Pozzo declined his offers, declaring he could only be useful to France as an intermediate agent between the two governments; a Frenchman in his affections, and a Russian in[150] his position and duty, he would appear as a type of alliance between the two cabinets and the two nations. Talleyrand's plans fell to the ground, owing to the invincible objections of the Emperor Alexander, who persisted in his desire of seeing the ministry for foreign affairs intrusted to a man of his choice, and in whom he could place confidence; and he recommended the appointment of the Duc de Richelieu, designating him as the best of Frenchmen, and the most upright of men: Talleyrand was, therefore, obliged to give way; he gave in his resignation to Louis XVIII., who intrusted the Duc de Richelieu with the formation of another cabinet.

From this moment the influence of Russia on public affairs became clearly defined. The Czar placed himself as the intermediary in all questions regarding territory, and he had, in point of fact, some object in wishing to uphold the active power of France in the south of Europe, in order that he might hereafter meet with an ally and supporter there. Pozzo di Borgo's influence increased with that of his emperor, and he always exercised it in a kind and favourable manner towards France. Let us take a retrospective glance of that most disastrous period, when the country, invaded by 800,000 foreigners, was completely crushed under the burden of military contributions; but Alexander threw the weight of his opinion and his power into the scale, as opposed to the demands of the English, Prussians, and Germans, and the question of the cession of Alsace, Lorraine, and a great part of the northern provinces, was at an end.

In the secret conferences of the plenipotentiaries, the Russian minister pressed the necessity of not exercising too much severity in the conditions exacted from France and the new dynasty; because, when dishonour, weakness, or degradation, are imposed upon a king or a[151] nation, a natural reaction takes place against a yoke too oppressive to be borne. The treaty of Paris, the result of these conferences, was no doubt a very hard measure; when the Duc de Richelieu signed it, the trembling of his hand shewed the pain and grief he endured, and he wrote a most noble letter, which is still extant, deploring this cruel necessity; still, compared with the conditions imposed by the Anglo-Prussians, a great step had been gained. France underwent no partition; though she lost some posts on the frontier, though she was obliged to submit to a military occupation, though a contribution of seven hundred millions[23] of francs was levied, at least she could look forward to a limit, however distant, to the evils of war, she neither lost Lorraine nor Alsace, she still was a great nation.

When the Emperor Alexander quitted Paris, he invested Pozzo di Borgo with full power to uphold the government of Louis XVIII., to watch his first proceedings and prevent his first faults. A powerful royalist reaction had taken place; the greater part of the Chamber of 1815 had decided in favour of a system of unbounded energy, in which parties, when left to themselves, are always apt to indulge in the first joy of victory. This chamber was strongly opposed to the Richelieu ministry, and made political order of impossible attainment, though it was the only means of realising the loans, and, consequently, of fulfilling the terms imposed by the army of occupation. Under existing circumstances, moderation was not merely a natural impulse of elevated minds, it was an actual law of necessity; besides which, reactions do not create real resources, they only disturb people's minds, and destroy public prosperity. Pozzo di Borgo upheld the Duc de Richelieu in the plan common to both, of endeavouring[152] to arrest the ultra-royalist movement, which threw obstacles in the way of the fulfilment of their engagements towards the allies; and the ordonnance of the 5th of September altered the course of ideas, and political principles of the Restoration. The despatches of Pozzo di Borgo had prepared the Emperor Alexander for this change, being altogether in favour of the moderate royalist system, which the duke was desirous of following; "It was necessary," said he, "to put a stop to the reaction of 1815;" and the emperor perfectly agreed with him in opinion. The Russian minister considered this ordonnance as an act evincing the royal will, likely to be favourably received in Europe, and thus to advance the deliverance of the country from foreign occupation; the event shewed he was not mistaken, for Louis soon received letters from the Czar, congratulating him upon the act of firmness which enabled his government to pursue the path of salutary moderation.

The Russian influence continued to increase. The military occupation was still in force, and France, which had to arrange pecuniary conventions resulting from various treaties, was exposed to very severe trials: war was succeeded by famine, famine by internal disorders, and simultaneous revolts. In his despatches to the emperor, Pozzo di Borgo endeavoured to convince him of the necessity of alleviating the burden of the military contributions, unless they wished to drive to despair a nation which they might find it difficult to bring into entire subjection. I never met with a collection of documents better reasoned, or more thoroughly imbued with the desire of putting an end to the military occupation of the country; perhaps his strong and patriotic anxiety on that head often made him form too severe a judgment of the royalist party.

The influence of the Russian ambassador was favourable[153] to all the negotiations of the French government, and at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle it assumed the character of a most generous intervention. Before starting for the congress he had received full authority from his sovereign to endeavour to prevail upon the Duke of Wellington to declare himself arbiter and mediator in the delicate question regarding the debts claimed by foreigners from the French government. These liabilities exceeded all bounds; and Pozzo di Borgo, appealing to the generosity and military honour of the Duke of Wellington, persuaded him to give over the military occupation which injured and tormented France, and to make an end of these liquidations, which appeared to have neither limit nor probable termination. Though the Duke of Wellington had an interest in keeping up a command which invested him with such vast authority in France, he consented to become the arbiter of the different interests; and affairs were thus arranged beforehand, that no obstacle might arise to interfere with the resolutions already formed, and which were to be finally settled at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle.

The result of that congress was the liberation of France, the credit and trouble attending which are due to the Duc de Richelieu; but the exertions of Pozzo di Borgo also contributed greatly to calm the fears of Alexander, which had been excited by the liberal tendency at that time so vehement in Europe.

The disposition of the Czar always evinced a greater degree of warmth and generosity than of deep reflection; a bias had been given by education, and he was also surrounded by timid people, constantly ready to be alarmed at the posture of affairs, and more especially uneasy at the excited state of the German universities. During his brief stay in Paris, after the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, Alexander had entered into an explanation on[154] this subject with the French king. According to his ideas, the principal danger in Europe at that time arose from Jacobinism, and this was an evil above all others to be avoided; it was a disorder of a new species, against which the Holy Alliance would have some difficulty in acting so as to preserve the world from its contagion. The instructions left with Pozzo di Borgo bore the stamp of the same opinions; and what must have been the disappointment of the emperor, when, upon his arrival at Warsaw, he received intelligence that the Richelieu ministry was dissolved, and that a political system more decidedly liberal had been adopted by France! The Russian ambassador felt no repugnance for General Dessole, and Marshal Gouvion St. Cyr, who formed part of this administration, for they both belonged to the military opposition which had formed the basis of the restoration; but, when the choice fell upon M. Grégoire, and when the Duc de Berri was assassinated, terror and amazement took possession of the corps diplomatique, and Pozzo di Borgo was not unacquainted with the resolutions which again placed the Duc de Richelieu at the head of affairs. The influence of the ambassador was then neither very strong nor important, for a very simple reason; from the year 1815 to 1818 it was impossible the French government should act independent of foreigners; they occupied the country; it was necessary to consult their diplomatic agents, and be in a great measure decided by their opinion; but, when France was delivered from them, the influence changed its nature, there was then no material action, only a moral, and consequently limited, influence exercised by the corps diplomatique.

The revolutionary spirit began to be manifest in Europe: Spain, Naples, Piémont, had all proclaimed the constitution with arms in their hands; the assassination of Kotzebue, the excited state of the universities, the[155] mysterious societies in the Russian army, the riots at Manchester, the commotions of the active population of Paris in the month of June 1820, all were presages of a popular movement against crowned heads. The thrones of Europe were never more shaken than in those two years of 1820 and 21; it was necessary they should defend themselves. Pozzo di Borgo, therefore, received orders to uphold the royalist system of the Duc de Richelieu's second ministry, and he entered into it with a loyal ardour which proceeded not only from the personal friendship he entertained for that minister, but also from his profound conviction that certain limits would not be overstepped. Nevertheless, from the hands of M. de Richelieu the government fell into those of MM. de Montmorency and De Villèle, the representatives of the ultra-monarchical and religious opinions, and who had a bias towards the English system. Count Pozzo felt some annoyance in viewing the triumph of men with whom he was well acquainted, and whom he had even been called upon to oppose in the ordonnance of the 5th of September; but the orders of his sovereign were imperative, and he became their organ at Paris. He approved of the occupation of Piémont by the Austrians; and his advice principally decided the question of the war with Spain, which had been suggested at the congresses of Troppan and Laybach, and finally resolved upon at Verona.

The royalist party returned in triumph from Cadiz, having replaced Ferdinand VII. on his throne. In that country, where moderation either in politics or religion is unknown, the power had fallen into the hands of Don Saez, the king's confessor; and the object of Russia being always to exercise a powerful influence in the south of Europe, in order to counterbalance that of England, Count Pozzo received orders to repair to Madrid and use[156] all his endeavours to push M. Hirujo into the ministry, who was a man of moderate views, and consequently inclined to favour the Russian interests. A perfect understanding on this head existed between the Russian minister and M. de Villèle. M. de Hirujo, forerunner of M. Zéa, gained the ascendant at Madrid, and people could reckon upon the government of Ferdinand being conducted with some degree of order and regularity. Pozzo di Borgo then returned to Paris; he was on intimate terms with MM. Pasquier and Molé, friends of the Duc de Richelieu, and disapproved highly of the folly of the royalist party, who tormented France every year with fresh laws, still more remarkable for their silliness and want of importance than for their unpopular tendency; but the ambassador had now hardly any influence upon the government; it was almost entirely confined to the opposition formed in the diplomatic circles and in good society, which before long extended to the conduct of the sovereign. Although he approved of the law regarding the conversion of the rentes,[24] he had no hesitation[157] in giving utterance to his opinion concerning the extreme unpopularity the measure would naturally be attended with. "The King of France," said he, "wishes to become the richest sovereign in Europe; but I greatly fear this measure will lead to some unfortunate catastrophe. People do not play with impunity with the pot-au-feu of the citizens." And the event shewed his opinion to have been well founded.

At this period the Russian ambassador lost his protector, I may almost say his friend. Alexander died on his journey into the Crimea, a pilgrimage enveloped in mystery,[25] and which was immediately followed by the revolutionary movement in St. Petersburg. Some officers were desirous of throwing the government into the hands of the old Russian nobility, always ready to enter into any measure calculated to restore the predominance of the Muscovite aristocracy, which was a sort of republic formed of the great vassals of the crown. Would the Emperor Nicholas repose the same confidence in Pozzo di Borgo that his predecessor had done? He had not like Alexander a sort of brotherhood in arms and affairs with his ambassador, but as Count Nesselrode remained at the head of affairs, he retained his situation and presented his[158] renewed credentials to Charles X. at the time when the storms of the opposition assumed every where a menacing aspect. Two years afterwards the ministry of M. de Villèle was at an end, and the king formed a fresh administration, at the head of which he intended placing M. de Martignac and M. de la Ferronays. The latter was at that time ambassador at St. Petersburg, and enjoyed the confidence of the Emperor Nicholas, who was therefore likely to be satisfied with his appointment to the ministry, and Pozzo di Borgo considered it necessary to support him with all his power; for the interests of Russia had at that time assumed so complicated a form, that the concurrence of France was a matter of the greatest importance to her.

Russia had deeply offended the Porte by signing the treaty of the month of June 1827, which established the independence of Greece; and the Mussulmans, proud of their ancient glory, had been still further irritated by the battle of Navarino. The occupation of Moldavia and Wallachia had given rise to fresh dissensions, which ended by the Russian ambassador's quitting Constantinople. Every thing was thus progressing towards a war likely to involve Russia in considerable danger, especially if England were to take part with the Sultan: the Emperor Nicholas was determined to pass the Balkan, for he found it necessary to employ the superstitious and turbulent disposition of the old Russian nobility in active military operations, to prevent its bursting out in revolutionary attempts.

Under these circumstances Count Nesselrode commissioned Pozzo di Borgo to sound the French cabinet as to the conditions they would require,—not for an armed alliance, but simply to observe a friendly neutrality during the oriental war. Count Pozzo proposed that France should keep up a force of 100, or 150,000, to act[159] as a check upon Austria, and augment her armaments, so as to restrain England; he also hinted that should any important advantages result to Russia from the events of the campaign, the frontiers of France might possibly be reconsidered and the natural boundary of the Rhine granted to her without expense, by arranging an indemnity for Prussia and Holland; and that indeed it was not impossible the Morea might be given her as a compensatory measure, with the same rights as those enjoyed by England over the republic of the seven islands. What a magnificent portion this would have been for France!

The first operations of the campaign were not attended with success: there were sanguinary sieges and doubtful battles. During this time Count Pozzo exhibited the utmost activity in Paris, where the checks sustained by the Russians were the general subject of conversation, and General Lamarque had even published a series of articles to prove that the destruction of the army was inevitable. General Pozzo entered much into society, and at every fresh disaster or difficulty he strove to remove the fears they excited as to the consequences of the war: "Wait, have patience," repeated he incessantly, "and then you will see." The best understanding existed between him and M. de la Ferronays, who exerted himself to calm the minds which England took equal pains to disturb.

The following year the Russian armies were more fortunate, having advanced upon Constantinople, and the position of the ambassador became less difficult; but to counterbalance this advantage, the ministerial revolution took place in the month of August, which placed Prince Polignac, and consequently the English system of precedents and opinions, at the head of affairs. Pozzo de Borgo was much annoyed at this change; the cabinet of St. Petersburg entered into an explanation on the subject with M. de Mortemart, and in proportion as the[160] French ministry advanced in the adventurous path of coups d'état, Count Pozzo multiplied his despatches to his government to warn them of an impending catastrophe. The information he gave on this subject was so positive, that the Emperor spoke to M. de Mortemart, telling him he was well aware some foolish steps were about to be taken in Paris. "The king of France," added he, "is at liberty to act as he pleases in his kingdom, but if evil comes of it, so much the worse for him. Give him warning that he will not be supported, and that Europe will not engage in a quarrel on his account."

The Russian ambassador only became acquainted with the ordonnances of July the evening before they were promulgated; he had neither been informed confidentially, nor had he received any official intimation; only a few days before the event he said in a conference with Polignac, "Prince, I do not wish to inquire into your secrets, I do not ask you what you are about, only take precautions not to compromise Europe;" and then Prince Polignac replied with his habitual smile, so expressive of perfect security, "All we ask is, that Europe will not compromise us." At these words the ambassador turned his back upon him. When the fatal ordonnances appeared the next day in the Moniteur, Pozzo di Borgo expressed great dissatisfaction and alarm at seeing the utter carelessness of the government in the midst of so much difficulty and danger, and the total absence of any military force or precaution. "How," said he, "are there no troops? The bridges are not occupied! Have no military precautions been taken?" "Every thing is quiet," replied they, "nobody stirs." "Every thing quiet!" repeated the ambassador warmly, "yes, every thing will probably be quiet to-day, but to-morrow we shall have firing in the streets, and the next day who knows what may happen? I shall be obliged to ask for my passports."


Here was the commencement of another series of events. It is necessary to judge the conduct of the ambassador during the latter days of the government which was about to expire, and the commencement of that which succeeded to it.

The events of July were characterised by so much agitation and importance, that the corps diplomatique must have found itself placed in an embarrassing position: Charles X. had quitted St. Cloud and sought refuge at Rambouillet, and a municipal commission had restored order in the midst of the insurrection. If Prince Polignac had possessed the slightest political forethought, he would have notified to the corps diplomatique that the king proposed removing his menaced government to such and such a part of the kingdom; this resolution would have served as an official order to all the ambassadors, to accompany the sovereign who had received their credentials, and by whom they were officially accredited, and their presence at St. Cloud would have been a sort of protest against the events then taking place at Paris; it might also have facilitated the negotiation between the royal party and the Hôtel de Ville, for the provisional government would have been afraid of committing itself with Europe, and being exposed to a general war. But with the utter carelessness he displayed in the whole business, Prince Polignac, minister for foreign affairs, made no official communication to the corps diplomatique, but treated every thing with a degree of levity quite in keeping with his predestinarian character.

The ambassadors naturally hesitated what course they should pursue in the midst of so many difficulties. Should they proceed to St. Cloud? But it was necessary the translation of the government should be officially[162] notified to them by the minister for foreign affairs; ought they to make observations, to mix themselves up with the withdrawal of the ordonnances, or the negotiations of the Hôtel de Ville and the provisional government? That was not their duty, nor had they any right to interfere. The only plan, then, they could adopt was to await the end of the struggle, and not concern themselves with the plan of the government, until it placed itself in communication with their respective courts by requiring to be recognised.

In a meeting at the residence of the Nuncio, they decided upon remaining at Paris until further orders, and taking no part in events until they should receive an official communication from Charles X. Couriers extraordinary were despatched to the different courts to keep them constantly informed of the progress of this important affair, and request further instructions; generally speaking, all the despatches blamed Prince Polignac's carelessness, and described the events that had taken place in Paris in moderate language; mentioning the order that prevailed in the midst of disorder, the appointment of a lieutenant-general of the kingdom, and the abdication of the King and of the Duke of Angoulême: they then awaited patiently the termination of the insurrection, without compromising themselves, and without either giving or receiving an impulsion.

Here we must take a general view of the life of Count Pozzo di Borgo to explain the constantly serious and temperate direction of his despatches. He had never belonged to the ultra royalist party, but being a man of moderation and principle he had restricted himself to measures, corresponding with the events brought to pass by the French revolution: in this consisted the bond of union between him and the Richelieu party, composed[163] of Pasquier, Molé, and de Rayneval, who were all strongly opposed to coups d'état. The despatches of Count Pozzo evince at all times a spirit of forethought and moderation. In 1816 he supported the Duc de Richelieu; in 1828, the ministry of M. de Martignac and the Comte de la Ferronays; when the ministry of Prince Polignac was formed, he, like every one else, foresaw the disasters likely to ensue, and his correspondence made such an impression at St. Petersburg, that the Emperor Nicholas thought it necessary to speak to M. de Mortemart on the subject. The Czar entertained a strong dislike to the ministry of Prince Polignac, because he believed him to be devoted to the English system, and the fall of M. de Martignac appeared to him a sort of check to his eastern policy; he repeated several times to M. de Mortemart, "Are they preparing anything in Paris against the charter? Write to the King to take care what he is about; above all, let him avoid coups d'état." In considering the attitude assumed by the corps diplomatique at this juncture, it is very important to bear in mind, that in the transactions of 1814 and 1815, as well as in the minutes of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, the charter and the dynasty were considered equally under the protection of Europe, and were viewed as inseparable.

They had not long to wait for the recognition of most of the various courts of Europe; England, though governed by the Duke of Wellington and the Tories, approved in many successive despatches of a revolution conducted on the plan of that in 1688; Prussia came next, then Austria, without any symptom of hesitation; and, lastly, Pozzo di Borgo received credentials from his sovereign, which he presented with confidence and dignity, one idea being constantly predominant in his mind,—that order and peace were the first requisites in an European government.


Matters were in this state when the Polish question placed Pozzo di Borgo in a situation of great difficulty; perhaps under no circumstances of his diplomatic life was more discretion required and displayed. The ardent sympathies of the mob had been roused in favour of the Poles; a commotion took place in Paris, and spread in that city scarcely recovered from the agitation occasioned by the revolution of July; the cry of "Success to Poland! Down with the Russians!" was heard under the windows of the ambassador, stones were thrown at the hôtel, and the Russian legation surrounded their chief, endeavouring to persuade him to demand his passports, a step that would have announced a complete rupture. The ambassador appeased the impatience of his legation: "Our sovereign," said he, "is just now in a ticklish situation, and we must take no rash steps with regard to France, so as to involve ourselves in a fresh difficulty; let us wait for the apologies which will soon be made us; the mob is not the government; we are not ambassadors to the street, but to a regular authority. Let us turn the popular fury, not attack it in front." The next morning the minister for foreign affairs paid an official visit to Count Pozzo, to apologise on the part of the government, and a body of troops was ordered for his protection against any violence that might still be attempted by the mob.

From his earliest youth Pozzo di Borgo had been accustomed to dwell in the midst of political crises, and he was therefore not disturbed by the symptoms of insurrection around him, especially as he had full confidence in the wisdom and decision of the cabinet; some secret conferences had also made him aware, that France would not interfere in favour of Poland, but would allow Russia, Austria, and Prussia, the free exercise of their rights over that unfortunate country. The treaties of 1815[165] were still more firmly established than before, a few empty words of sympathy or encouragement were bestowed upon the insurgents, and Europe viewed with satisfaction the conduct of the new government, whose moderate measures had been rendered more difficult, by the threatening attitude assumed by different parties, and the prevalence of excited opinions armed with sufficient power to make them dangerous. Is no credit due to the wisdom which was the means of preserving peace? the forethought and moderation which averted the evil tendency of party spirit? Count Pozzo was loaded with compliments and expressions of gratitude, for he had probably saved Europe from a general war by not quitting Paris. The Polish insurrection was put down, after which all the forces of Russia were available against any foreign interference; and the ambassador who had safely passed through the dangerous crisis, had great cause to congratulate himself upon results, which left the cabinet of St. Petersburg at liberty to decide at once upon the fate of Poland. That country received no assistance from France; the interference of the French Chambers was limited to some barren protests in answer to which Pozzo di Borgo represented that Poland had been the aggressor, having torn asunder the bands of the constitution by her revolt, and that the Propaganda alone would be to blame should Poland now cease entirely to exist: that great efforts had been made since the year 1815 to overcome the natural antipathy entertained by the Russians for the Poles, which was as strong as the dislike existing between the Jews and Christians in Poland. What exertion and anxiety it had cost the generous heart of Alexander to give a national constitution to Poland! it was a subject on which he had consulted rather his feelings than his understanding, and the old Russian nobility had never forgiven his conduct on the occasion.


In the midst of all these serious political occurrences, of the disturbances in Paris, the various plots both foreign and domestic, the Russian campaign against Constantinople, and the imperative,—I might almost say, the capricious orders of his court, Count Pozzo always preserved the character of a man of impartial moderation, and of a skilful statesman who conceives and works out a system, without giving way to any of the crotchets formed by prince or courtier capable of endangering more serious interests. He who had resisted the Emperor Alexander by expressing his opinion with firmness, always continued to refuse obedience to instructions irreconcilable with the rules of general policy, which form the basis and regulate the relations between one state and another. Such was the constant tenor of his despatches after the year 1830. He was convinced that France, to the rest of Europe must serve as a principle either of order or disorder, possessing either way very great influence; and to all requisitions which did not tally with these ideas, he replied by writing to his court, "You have other agents besides me for affairs of this nature; I am only fit for moderate and conciliatory measures."

When the Turkish war was concluded, the ambassador received orders to proceed to London for the purpose of forming a just estimate of the state of affairs, and the position of the Whigs and Tories; having been successful in his endeavours to prevent France from taking part against Russia, it now became equally essential to sound the Tories, and become acquainted with the bent of their views, should parliament and the march of public opinion again place them at the head of affairs. The official ambassador from Russia to London was Prince Lieven, or rather it was said Princess Lieven, a woman of great ability, whose brilliant assemblies were[167] the favourite resort of the Tory nobility, and the centre of political intelligence. Count Pozzo had very little communication with the Whig ministry; his acquaintance was principally with the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Aberdeen, who was minister for foreign affairs, for the Tory interest; for that party, although out of office, still retained some representatives among the ministry. The conversations between the Duke and Pozzo di Borgo, were an interchange of recollections and hopes, together with the means of regulating the probabilities of the return of the Tories into the ministry. It was already in contemplation, although public opinion had strongly opposed a premature attempt made by the Duke of Wellington to resume the direction of affairs. In political life it is a mark of great ability to know how to bide one's time.

Still a kind of slight was about to cloud the life of Count Pozzo. Hitherto whatever missions might have been assigned to him exclusive of his official functions in Paris, he had always retained the title of ambassador to the court of France, and his tastes and inclinations led him to consider that country as his own. When he was despatched to Madrid, and more recently to London, his sovereign had not withdrawn his credentials, his post was still Paris: what was the reason a different course of proceeding took place upon this occasion, and that he received the title of ambassador extraordinary to his Britannic Majesty? It would be in vain to deny that it was a mark of his being out of favour, nor was this the only occasion upon which such had been the case in the course of his life. His disposition was not one that would bend to caprices or submit to demands which did not concern him. I have heard him complain of being watched by a number of special envoys, whose employments did not fall within the range of the regular communications[168] between two governments, two nations naturally formed to esteem each other. This somewhat haughty disposition, led to the ambassador's loss of favour; it was however covered by a purple robe, by the appointment of ambassador to London.

Count Nesselrode entered into an explanation of the duties connected with the ambassador's new appointment. It was intended he should use all his influence to support the menaced Tory interest; his intimacy with the Duke of Wellington was well known, but it was considered that a merely provisional title, would not be sufficient to confer the necessary éclat and importance upon the Russian ambassador, for which reason he was to receive the definitive and official appointment. As soon as the mission should be accomplished, when the Duke of Wellington should have been dissuaded from his inclination to unite with Austria on the Eastern question, and the Tories have been actively supported, Pozzo di Borgo was to be reinstated in his appointment in Paris, and permitted to follow his tastes and habitual pursuits in the country he considered as his home. This despatch afforded some consolation to the ambassador, who was affected by a feeling of sadness in breaking the ties that bound him to a society in which he had so many intimate friends, but in these mournful separations he was now supported by the hope of a speedy return. Every thing around was dear to him, even the palace whose gradual embellishment he had taken pleasure in watching; the verdure of the gardens, the shade of exotic trees, the fragrant flowers, the vast and well-chosen library of Italian authors, whose works he was so fond of reciting from memory, and the views of Corsica suspended in his apartments, the gulf of Ajaccio which recalled the early youth of the friend of Paoli.

When admitted to any degree of intimacy with Count[169] Pozzo, you were particularly struck with the energy of his manners and his vigorous mode of expression; his handsome though swarthy countenance was shaded by greyish hair, always arranged in a picturesque manner, as Gerard has represented him in one of his admirable portraits. His conversation was at first reserved and guarded, but gradually became animated and full of imagery and wit which sparkled through a slightly Corsican accent; his memory resembled a vast bazaar, full of the varied recollections of a long and troubled life. If you were desirous of seeing the mind of Count Pozzo in its full glory, you had only to speak to him of Corsica, ask him questions concerning the history of Paoli, or turn the conversation upon the national republic established in the island, and the Consulta which chose him as secretary to the government, and then you would be struck with the animation of his voice and gestures; his piercing eyes seemed to seek in your mind the emotions that glowed in his own, till you actually felt as if present with him at the assembly where the Corsican people proclaimed their independence. He did not indulge in anecdotes to the degree Talleyrand used to do in his long evening conversations, but he was more serious and truthful in his reminiscences, and did not play with facts, but always took a serious view of them. Without the habitual tact that characterised him, he might have been drawn into further confessions, for he was scarcely master of himself when speaking of his early political life. He was a man whose memory was so full of facts, that they oozed out at every pore; a spirit I took great delight in consulting, because the great struggle of Europe against Napoleon was shadowed forth by him, in a very different point of view from that assumed by the bad pamphlets of the imperial school.

I saw him depart for London in the full enjoyment of[170] his powerful faculties, retaining his eagle glance, the elevated expression of his noble brow, and his bright searching eyes, while his mouth was expressive of mildness and goodness. But he was evidently out of spirits, and he quitted Paris with the idea that some misfortune would occur before he should see it again. In London he transacted the affairs of his government with the same devotion and activity as ever, but he took no pleasure in his employment; the friendship of the Duke of Wellington, his companion in more than one battle-field, was his only enjoyment; they passed whole days together at Apsley House talking over the affairs of Europe, and their recollections; speaking, the one of the caprice of the people who broke his windows, the other of the ingratitude of a court incapable of comprehending that order, and peace with a powerful nation like France, are essential to the tranquillity of Europe.

Weary of so long a diplomatic career, he had at last obtained permission to seek the retirement he so ardently coveted, when a letter from the Emperor apprised him of the intended journey of a Czarewitch to London, and requested him to act as a guide to the young prince during his stay in England. This involved a degree of responsibility and of moral fatigue which shortened the life of Count Pozzo. How would the heir to the Russian throne be received by the English nation, so capricious both in their affections and their hatred? The trial terminated happily, but it may be safely asserted that the last remains of strength possessed by the ambassador sunk under the exertion.

I saw him on his return to Paris: what a sad alteration from his former self! and what mere worms we are in the hand of God, who disposes at His pleasure of the mind and intellects of man! He no longer found any enjoyment or ease except in the society of his nephew, Count[171] Pozzo di Borgo, and his amiable niece, a daughter of the noble house of Crillon. Was the old ambassador desirous of shewing that he had never ceased to be a Frenchman, by quartering his Corsican coat-of-arms with the escutcheon and honourable devices borne by the brother-in-arms of Henry IV.?



The administration of the Empire was, generally speaking, strong, full of energy and unity of purpose; it was composed of two elements, the ruins of the republican party now rallied around the dictatorship of Napoleon, and became submissive under his iron rule, such as Treilhard, Merlin, and Thibaudeau, and the pure and elevated remains of the old monarchical school, like Molé, De Fontanes, and De Narbonne. According to the custom observed in all governments possessed of any portion of strength and intelligence, Buonaparte collected around himself all the persons whose names were honourably connected with past events, or exercised any influence over the present or the past; he indulged neither in fear nor repugnance, because he had perfect confidence in his own power of restraining and managing every thing. Before the revolution of 1789, some parliamentary families existed, who transmitted the highest magisterial offices from one generation to another, forming a sanctuary in which public morals, duties, and learning, were preserved and perpetuated. There were no doubt some little party prejudices among them, together with a[173] tendency towards the feelings of the patricians of Rome; considering themselves to have succeeded to the assemblies of the states-general. But though the parliament sometimes threw difficulties in the way of the executive government, still they maintained the spirit of liberty and probity through the lapse of ages, and people considered them as a political guarantee, upon occasions when a degree of confusion and disorder prevailed in the constitution of the country.

The family of the Pasquiers were descended from Etienne Pasquier, a man of great talent and erudition, author of a celebrated work entitled "Recherches sur la France." His character was very remarkable from the versatility of his talents and occupations; he wrote clever verses, and displayed the greatest ability in the important correspondence in which he was engaged, and during the troubles of the League, he strove to find a middle course from whence he might offer himself as a timid mediator among the opposing parties. In my writings upon the events of the sixteenth century, I have often spoken of that good Etienne Pasquier, with his ingenious talents and the exquisite tact he displayed in the evil times of civil war.

The direct progenitors of the subject of this memoir held an appointment in the parliament, and his father, Etienne Pasquier, councillor in the parliament of Paris, was denounced at the revolutionary tribunal and condemned to death on the 21st of April, 1794. His son was brought up at the College of Juilly, a fine institution, which has produced many distinguished characters. I have always admired the mild and careful system pursued by religious bodies, where the education of the heart and mind is as carefully attended to as that of the head, and which invested each professor with so paternal a character, that even the most ungrateful of his pupils[174] could never entirely shake off the recollection; witness Voltaire and Diderot.

M. Pasquier had scarcely left college before he was appointed to a situation in the Parisian parliament, according to the custom observed in families of the legal profession, where the office of the father was inherited by the son. He did not long continue to wear the parliamentary habit; he was, however, enabled to be present at the solemn debates which took place in that assembly, and were terminated by the convocation of the States-general, and he there received his first lesson in political life. The magistracy were carried away in the general tempest, and the parliaments were destroyed by the revolution; the resistance to the royal prerogative had originated with them, and both were abolished at the same time.

Popular excitement is always ungrateful, and deals its first blow upon those by whom it has been assisted or fostered, thus affording an important lesson to demagogues or flatterers of the populace.

M. Pasquier did not emigrate during the revolutionary troubles; he was proscribed like all persons bearing a historic name, and at the age of twenty-six years he received a summons to appear before the committee of public safety, which was soon after succeeded by his being placed under arrest at St. Lazare, on the evening before the 9th Thermidor. The close of the reign of terror restored him to liberty, and the restoration of the property of condemned persons enabled him to retire to the estates of his family, which like those possessed by all the parliamentary races were covered with thick woods, in whose impenetrable retreats they were accustomed to seek shelter, in the evil days of exile, from their accustomed employments.

When order was restored under Napoleon, M.[175] Pasquier returned to Paris, and appeared in society, especially at the house of M. Cambacérès, who was partial to the old magisterial families, and his remarkable talents soon brought him into notice. At that period the Emperor was desirous of establishing a monarchical system upon elevated principles, and sought every where among men and things the materials for his purpose; every noble or influential name attracted his attention, for he was well aware of the power exercised by hereditary rank, and knew that past recollections have as much influence as present energy in the restoration of States. The Arch-chancellor Cambacérès agreed in the Emperor's sentiments; and he, who was himself one of the enlightened magistrates of the Cour des Aides at Montpelier, suggested the name of M. Pasquier for the situation of Master of Requests. It is rather a remarkable circumstance that the memorial of the Arch-chancellor contained the names of three candidates, MM. de Molé, Pasquier, and Portalis; they all received appointments on the same day, and have never been separated in the course of their political life, their career having been facilitated and its importance augmented by the strong political friendship that subsisted between them, in spite of the difference in their age and capacity.

M. Pasquier, while master of requests at the Conseil d'Etat, was distinguished by his laborious attention and assiduity, at the time when improvement had assumed a serious and reflective form; he had passed his fortieth year when he was appointed attorney-general of the great seal, and afterwards Councillor of state. The State council was a powerful and important school; the Emperor, who entertained a strong antipathy towards all bodies that deliberated under the sanction of publicity, had a perfect horror of the representative system, and[176] public speaking; he liked to collect suffrages, to listen to all opinions, reserving to himself the right of deciding upon them, and weighing them against each other in such a manner, that an imperial decree should never sanction an equivocal project or a bad measure. The council of state, composed of very eminent men, was the real corps politique; and even the title of Master of requests was not a common rank granted to aspirants of an inferior grade. In this anxious and laborious situation, the Masters of requests, attached to a section of the council, devoted their existence to it, and the great end and aim of their executive career was the situation of Councillor of state, a title of which the characters best known to fame were ambitious.

This close and incessant every-day application suited perfectly the studious mind of M. Pasquier; a generation of young men had sprung up, whose souls were entirely given up to assiduous attention to business, and who devoted themselves to the active and deliberative portion of the administration. The Master of requests had already received the title of Baron and officer of the legion of honour in reward of his services, when the dismissal of M. Dubois, after the melancholy burning of Prince Schwartzenburg's palace, left vacant the prefecture of police, an appointment originally instituted during the Consulate. The police was divided into two parts:—the political police, which was charged with the general safety of the kingdom and the surveillance of political parties, constantly in a state of commotion even under the heavy hand of Napoleon; it was always intrusted to the minister of a department, and the situation was at that time filled by General Savary; and the prefecture of police, an appointment of a more simple order, circumscribed within the walls of Paris, whose chief had charge of the édilité, that is to say, of the safety and cleanliness[177] of the city and the inspection of the markets and provisions, all duties of considerable importance. The prefect of police also regulated the bulletins concerning the state of the public mind, so as to act as a check upon the minister of police. During the time of the Empire, each of these situations involved serious duties and considerable responsibility.

When appointed to the prefecture of police, M. Pasquier devoted himself entirely to the discharge of his official duties, and voluminous writings still exist upon the provisioning of the capital, and the method of multiplying magazines in the time of abundance; this had now become a question of great anxiety, occupying the serious attention of the government, for in the year 1811, the first symptoms of an alarming scarcity made their appearance. The price of bread had reached an exorbitant height, and people were constantly on the brink of a disturbance owing to the dearness of grain of all kinds. I have perused and analysed with the greatest attention the important writings of M. Pasquier under the empire, deposited in the archives of the prefecture of police.[26]

It must be recollected that Napoleon was then about to depart upon his Russian expedition, and it may easily be imagined that contending parties would give occasion to extreme anxiety during his adventurous campaign: how great was that entertained by the prefect of police! his nights were devoted to quieting the alarms excited by false bulletins, and strengthening the confidence of the people, for the prestige that surrounded Napoleon was beginning to disappear, a certain spirit of independence and animadversion was gradually gaining ground, and numerous caricatures, bons mots, and epigrams, attacked the moral power of the Emperor.


The romantic enterprise of General Mallet took place at this juncture; it was a prodigious act of boldness, shewing how slight was the tenure of Napoleon's power; one hour more, or one man less, and the most powerful empire of modern times would have been at an end! M. Pasquier has been reproached with having allowed himself to be surprised by the insurrection, but, in the first place, he had nothing to do with watching the formation of plots, that duty devolved upon M. Savary, the minister of police; and besides, to do justice to all parties, what vigilance can possibly foresee or control the plans conceived by one man in the silence of a prison? General Mallet was armed with a military power which it was in vain to resist, and M. Pasquier was surprised at the prefecture, hurried into a voiture de place and conveyed to the prison of La Force, with injunctions that he should be detained there until the provisional government was established. He was not liberated until after the suppression of the conspiracy, having steadily refrained from making any concessions to the conspirators, but merely submitting to the fate prepared for him by a military insurrection. A magistrate who gives way to the commands of unlawful authority, is guilty of betraying his trust; he ought to remain steadfast in his duty, even should violence cast him into a dungeon.

Napoleon formed a favourable judgment of the conduct of M. Pasquier, and continued him in his appointment of prefect of police, while M. Frochot, prefect of the Seine, was dismissed by the council of state, assembled to examine into the degree of culpability and negligence, to be attributed to the different functionaries in the sad affair of Mallet. The Emperor viewing matters from his elevated position, judged the prefect of police to be perfectly undeserving of blame or censure, as he had merely yielded to force, and it was utterly[179] impossible for him either to foresee or to prevent a disturbance conducted in so unusual a manner; the most subtle and watchful mind could not have suspected the meditations indulged in by so adventurous a person as General Mallet; besides which, as I said before, General Savary had charge of the political police. This severe trial soon afforded M. Pasquier an opportunity of rendering an important service to the city of Paris, by the creation and organisation of the gendarmerie, which, under a different name, has on so many occasions greatly contributed to maintain the peace and security of the capital. He had before, in the year 1811, remodelled the corps of firemen,[27] whose devotion to their duty and noble courage deserves the highest praise.

The difficult circumstances of the times were increasing; if the management of the Parisian police was a hard task while the glory and prosperity of Napoleon were at their height, how much more delicate, and consequently more odious and watchful, was its office during the season of reverses and misfortune? Parties were now in commotion, people were no longer silent upon their desire of a change, and the probability such might be the case, and the enemy was rapidly approaching the capital: M. Pasquier fulfilled his duties to the very last moment, by the wise and firm administration of his office; he reduced the duties of his prefecture to the maintenance of public tranquillity, and the careful management of every thing relating to the repose and well-being of the city; thus returning to the original charge he had received from the Emperor,—attention to the safety and cleanliness of Paris, which were formerly almost the only duties required from the lieutenant of police.

When the artillery was heard in thunders upon the[180] capital, the senatorial party and Talleyrand invited him to support the political alterations produced by circumstances, but it was not until the evening before the allies entered Paris, that he, like M. Chabrol,[28] prefect of the Seine, joined the movement which led to the restoration. The enemy were about to enter Paris, and it was necessary the public safety should not be endangered by any popular tumult; the influence of the prefect of police was therefore most essential, but it was merely passively exerted with regard to political events; it received an impulse from them, but did not communicate any. Talleyrand had formed a just estimate of the character of M. Pasquier, and attached great importance to obtaining his concurrence. It was he who prepared the proclamations urging the citizens to the maintenance of order; and he entered into a communication with Count Nesselrode and the allied generals, then taking possession of Paris. His connexion with diplomatic affairs dates from this difficult period, as well as his political career under the restoration; and when afterwards appointed minister for foreign affairs, the reminiscences of Paris in the year 1814 rose to his mind and were of great service to him in assisting the diplomatic arrangements of his cabinet.

A conciliatory character was manifested at the accession of the Bourbons, and the police ceased to possess the importance attached to its active administration during[181] the reign of Napoleon; it was no longer a fit situation for a man of such abilities as M. Pasquier, he therefore resigned the prefecture, and was appointed by the king one of the council of state, and received, a few days afterwards, the situation of inspector-general of the bridges and causeways, an active and important appointment in a country where so much remained to be done for the improvement of the roads, and internal communication of the kingdom. He displayed in his new office the activity and laborious attention which characterised the imperial school, and the principal part of the great enterprises with regard to roads were executed under his direction. In France we think a great deal of public speeches and very little of improvement; and it is a singular fact that we, who are the most intelligent and industrious of nations, are at least twenty years behind our neighbours in every thing relating to roads: even Germany and Switzerland are far in advance of us. The commissioners for bridges and causeways, while they spend large sums of money, are faulty in their mode of administration, and do not make the most of their resources; M. Pasquier exerted himself to improve this vast branch of the public service, but his appointment was of short duration, for the march of Napoleon upon Paris put an end to all executive existence, and he was unemployed during the hundred days.

When the white flag of Louis XVIII. floated above the tower of St. Denis, M. Pasquier offered his services to the king; he was included in the first ministry of Talleyrand as keeper of the seals, and exercised at the same time the functions of minister for the interior, an appointment of extreme delicacy and difficulty in the crisis of that period. France was invaded by 700,000 strangers, the public mind was in a state of constant agitation, and the principles of the restoration had excited[182] a deplorable reaction in several of the provinces; it thus became necessary to organise the system of the prefects, to repress the too ardent zeal occasionally exhibited, prevent the sanguinary vengeance of parties, and prepare and advance the election of upright persons of moderate views, in order to heal the wounds of the country. Nothing is easier than to judge people with severity after a lapse of years, and when events are long over; and thus the services rendered by some statesmen in seasons of peril are soon forgotten, or are but imperfectly appreciated by people, who are in the full enjoyment of peace and security, and therefore inclined to exercise a mathematical rectitude in their judgment of facts. If we look back upon the year 1815, after the double invasion and heavy military contributions, we shall see that it was impossible for a government to display more exemplary moderation, before the face of a victorious party, to whose conditions it had been compelled to submit. M. Pasquier followed the fortunes of Prince Talleyrand; he gave in his resignation and was succeeded by M. de Barbé-Marbois.

He had however, always been strongly inclined towards the moderate system which gained the ascendant under the Richelieu ministry, and shortly after its formation he was appointed one of the commissioners for the liquidation of the foreign debts; it was a post of great confidence, for if the laws of honesty were set aside, enormous fortunes might soon be amassed. M. Pasquier's integrity was unimpeachable, and he was the worthy colleague of M. Mounier, the most honest man belonging to the noble Richelieu school.

He was elected by the department of the Seine as their representative, and on taking his seat in the chamber of deputies, after the ordonnance of the 3d of September, he was nominated president; from this parliamentary[183] position, he again passed into the ministry in the month of January 1817, the Duc de Richelieu having caused him to be appointed keeper of the seals.

A conciliatory system was predominant in the whole of M. Pasquier's ministerial conduct at this period, and he was the first to enlarge at the tribune upon the principles of the liberty of the press and the responsibility of editors. There was still too much irritation in people's minds, and the country still too much overwhelmed, to allow the independence of the newspapers to be safely established as a principle; books and pamphlets only were free, for a gradual approach was making towards liberty, and the opinions laid down by M. Pasquier are still considered as law upon the subject. The degree of responsibility was perfectly well regulated, and the minister's motives are clearly explained, and expressed with an elevation of principle and closeness of reasoning which distinguish the true parliamentary style. In England statesmen are in the habit of publishing their speeches, because they form the record of their lives.

When the Duc de Richelieu's ministry was dissolved in the latter part of the year 1817, M. Pasquier had no hesitation in retiring from office with the noble negotiator of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. M. Dessolle was at the head of the new ministry, and M. Decaze naturally filled a post of the highest importance in it; but the movement which was about to incline them towards the ideas of the parti gauche was too decided to make it possible M. Pasquier should join them; and it soon became apparent to him that the law of elections, although commendable for its simplicity, was still liable to produce evil results. He possessed very remarkable influence over the course of affairs, in spite of his having retired from office; and one of his political habits was[184] always to compose a memorial upon every situation that occurred, for he liked to observe men and circumstances as from an eminence, so as to enlighten those in authority. In the month of October 1819, he presented a memorial to Louis XVIII. upon the proceedings of the ministry, calling attention to the faults they had committed and the bad effects of the law of elections; and he considered the situation of affairs to be such as to render an immediate change necessary in the government of the country.

Accordingly when the ministry of M. Decaze decided upon modifying the law of elections, M. Pasquier was offered an appointment; he did not resume the situation of keeper of the seals, but undertook the direction of foreign affairs; our situation with regard to our foreign relations having assumed a serious aspect, it was necessary they should be under the charge of a minister quite resolved to resist any tendency towards a spirit of revolution. M. Decaze lost office after the assassination of the Duc de Berry; and on the formation of the second Richelieu ministry, M. Pasquier retained the situation of minister for foreign affairs, only with the proviso that he was to consult the noble duke upon points relating to diplomatic matters. The Duc de Richelieu, from his connexion with the various cabinets of Europe, must have inspired great confidence in diplomatic proceedings of importance.

From this period the existence of M. Pasquier was divided into two distinct portions, the one being passed at the tribune, and the other devoted to business. I am not acquainted with any session when the debates were more violent or more contested than that of 1820; the speeches were remarkable for their eloquence, the names of General Foy, of Camille Jordan, and Benjamin Constant, appeared, beside those of Casimir Périer[185] and Lafitte; each question was decided by a small majority, and it was necessary to modify the law of elections, and determine upon measures rendered indispensable by the circumstances succeeding the death of the Duc de Berry. The superiority of M. Pasquier's abilities was evident during this long session, where he was incessantly in the tribune, opposing, in the most decided and authoritative manner, the orators of the liberal party. When an alarming tumult took place in the public square, M. Pasquier appeared at the tribune to denounce the instigators of the disturbances, undismayed by the threats and vociferations of the revolutionary parti gauche. He spoke without disguise or circumlocution, and as to the phrase with which he has been so much reproached, sur l'arbitraire,[29] is it any thing beyond a simple declaration of what the government was desirous of obtaining, and requested from the power authorised to grant it? Every thing that was obtained had demanded incredible efforts, and whatever may have been said of the session of 1820 by those under the influence of party spirit, it was undoubtedly the finest period of the representative system, recalling the times of Pitt, Grenville, and Dundas, opposed to Fox, Erskine, and Sheridan.

M. Pasquier's situation was not less difficult as minister[186] for foreign affairs; for the revolutionary spirit had declared itself almost simultaneously in Spain, Naples, and Piémont. France, it is true, adopted the repressive system, and in this respect agreed with the plan suggested at the congresses of Laybach and Troppau; nevertheless the minister for foreign affairs could not overlook the material interests of France; the Austrians, desirous of marching upon Piémont and Naples, wanted to occupy definitively both these places, and how was it possible France should not feel uneasy at the sight of the German standards unfurled beyond the Alps, and extending even as far as Savoy? A series of notes passed on this occasion between M. Pasquier and Prince Metternich; and it was positively decided between the two ministers, that if the Austrian occupation should be necessary, it should be strictly limited to such a period, as would neither affect the consideration nor the importance of France. Metternich faithfully fulfilled this engagement, and the evacuation of Piémont took place at the stipulated time.

If you consult any of the persons employed in the foreign office, they will speak of M. Pasquier's assiduous attention to his work, and of his perfect capability of bringing a negotiation to the termination he wished; and they will also tell you he shewed extreme judgment, in all the great difficulties incident to a situation so liable to constant change of circumstances.

A complete rupture had taken place with the old liberal system; and to insure success in this enterprise, the Richelieu ministry had been obliged to apply to the ultra-royalist party. At the commencement of the session of 1821, the council decided upon adding MM. de la Corbière, de Villèle, and Lainé, to the cabinet; it was a great mistake, it was either granting too much or too little; for, in fact, what figure could they make in the cabinet as ministers without appointments, and yet chiefs of the[187] majority? And what was the consequence? secret dissensions, as might naturally be expected, arose from the very commencement of the attempted coalition; consultations were held in the king's council, after which, MM. de Villèle and Corbière privately expressed their dissatisfaction, and revealed the designs of the ministry to their colleagues on the côté droit in the Piet society; quarrels naturally suceeded, which eventually led to the rupture that took place after the session of 1821.

The royalists, in general, entertained an extreme dislike to M. Pasquier, and a great part of the côté droit could could not endure him.[30] All the opposition towards the end of the session was directed against him, till, at last, his patience was exhausted, and he assumed a high tone with the Ultras by openly and unhesitatingly declaring his inclinations and his repugnances, expressing himself with so much boldness and freedom that the whole of the parti droit declared war to him. M. Pasquier wanted to have done with the whole business; his situation fatigued him, and, foreseeing the downfall of the ministry, he obtained a seat in the upper chamber, being made a peer of France in the course of the month of November 1821. The ministry of the Duc de Richelieu had resigned office on the occasion of the address, and the Duc de Montmorency assumed the charge of foreign affairs.

M. Pasquier took his seat in the upper chamber, at that time a powerful institution possessed of hereditary[188] rank, property, and the majorats. The prospects of the young peerage were very great, and evidence was soon afforded of what they were capable of doing, by their constant opposition to the faults and ill-judged proceedings of the restoration. M. Pasquier, placing himself on the same benches as the statesmen of the Richelieu party, made a point of speaking upon every subject that came before the house, and the judgment and deep thought which characterised his discourses, caused them to exercise great influence over the chamber. He spoke against the rights of primogeniture, the creation of the three per cents, and the law of sacrilege; and his speeches were often the means of deciding the question by their influence on the majority obtained. He placed himself in constant and direct opposition to the Villèle cabinet, which occasioned a strange advance in revolutionary ideas, by the constant injury it inflicted upon the interests and affections of modern France.

There was not quite the same vehemence of debate in the chamber of peers as in that of the deputies, but it attained to more certain results. There was a degree of quiet, and at the same time great political judgment, in the discussions, not allowing themselves to be carried away by the spirit of party, but continuing so steadily to advance towards the downfall of M. de Villèle's ministry, that we may safely assert, the retirement of the royalist cabinet of the restoration was owing to their efforts. It must be confessed, this opposition was rather against the order of things; an aristocratic power which opposed the elements of an aristocratic constitution, was not in good keeping; but the fault lay with the party of the restoration, which interfered too hastily with the new ideas and prejudices prevalent in France.

The chamber of peers obtained a complete triumph;[189] although weakened by successive promotions,[31] its influence over the elections of 1827 was very great. The Martignac ministry was formed upon the principles of the Richelieu administration, that is to say, with the upright intentions that characterised the statesmen of that noble school. M. Pasquier naturally assumed his proper degree of ascendancy over that administration; the bond of recollections and of similarity of principles united him with M. Portalis, the keeper of the seals; and it was repeatedly proposed that he should resume the charge of the foreign office, his name having even been suggested by the council of the ministers after the retirement of M. de la Ferronays. Charles X. however negatived the appointment when the list of the candidates was presented to him, for he did not wish to have any man of importance in a ministry which could only be of transitory duration; and certain prejudices, dating from the year 1815, which had never been effaced from the king's mind, first made him prefer M. de Rayneval, and afterwards, finding the influence of that able diplomatist upon the two chambers not sufficiently powerful, M. de Portalis was appointed minister for foreign affairs.

The formation of the Polignac ministry occasioned great uneasiness to the political party, which was always composed of men of eminent talents, and desirous of the establishment and preservation of order; they observed with great anxiety the impending crisis, and they dreaded the fatal struggle likely to be attempted by the party of the restoration. All these experienced minds were well acquainted with Charles X.; they knew that with all the[190] advantages of his chivalrous disposition, his undoubted uprightness of mind, his thoroughly French character, he still had an unfortunate inclination for coups d'état, and extravagant actions that might compromise the safety of his government. The corps diplomatique were equally uneasy, and confidential communications took place between them and the political party, expressing their sense of the danger and agitation likely to be caused by a coup d'état; they were consequently less surprised than alarmed by the promulgation of the ordonnances of July. The political party held itself in reserve during the popular crisis, and when order was a little restored, it confined itself to giving a monarchical bias to society, as the only means of preserving France from a foreign or domestic war. As soon as the charter had restored the balance of power, and the monarchical form of government, M. Pasquier was appointed president of the chamber of peers.

He had hardly taken his seat before he had to encounter the trial of the ministers of Charles X., the chamber of peers having been converted into a court of justice. We must look back upon the feelings of that time, and remember the storm of passion that roared around,—the tumult that was excited! Those parties who seek their own advantage in every thing wanted to profit by the solemnity of these trials to occasion disorder; this sovereign people, these heroes of the barricades, thirsted after the blood of the imprudent ministers of Charles X.; shouts and yells were heard recalling the days of horror of the first revolution, the national guard was devoid of energy, and the troops of the line discouraged by the check they had received at the barricades. Matters were in this state, when the chamber of peers was called upon to deliberate in the midst of tumult and disorder, and history will confess that it proved itself[191] worthy of better times, by refusing to sanction the sanguinary vengeance so loudly demanded by the populace. Some degree of strength of mind and courage was required, when crowds of people, agitated like a troubled sea, threatened to invade the Luxembourg and assassinate all the members of the chamber; nevertheless the peers resisted, and a sentence of imprisonment alone was pronounced, which could hardly be considered as a punishment, because in seasons of political troubles, if people escape with their lives, there is no doubt that in due time the popular fury will subside, and permit their restoration to liberty and civil existence. The prudence and talents of M. Pasquier did admirable service to the cause of justice and order at this juncture.

It was no doubt to reward the spirit of moderation evinced by the peers on this occasion, that the parties made haste to deprive them of their right to hereditary succession. The first blow aimed at the importance of this assembly was evidently the clause in the charter, which annulled the peerages created by Charles X. The peerage was thus deprived of its indelible character, it was now no more than an office capable of being revoked, and of which one might be deprived almost like a prefecture; what sort of aristocracy could be formed of such elements? The next step was to take away the hereditary transmission of the peerage, majorats were abolished, it was reduced to a mere office for life, without power or influence upon the government. From the time the peers consented to vote away their hereditary rights, they became a mere council of elders, a kind of chapel of ease to the chamber of deputies; the chamber of peers was converted into a sort of noble hospital, where the wounded among the old political or military ranks might seek repose. The chamber of[192] peers no longer possessed inviolability, hereditary rank, or property; from henceforth it could no longer be an aristocratic body capable of resisting a democratic impulse, but its sole greatness must consist in the superiority of intelligence, the extensive experience, and great political ability it possessed, and which no other body could dispute with it.

Parties were not yet overcome, and a despairing effort had been made by the republican party in the streets of Paris: the sword of justice still hung suspended over many of the accused, and in virtue of the charter all these offences were referred for trial to the chamber of peers. It was said at that time in the newspapers, and even at the tribune, that these trials would not take place; "It was impossible," repeated they, "that the accused should be summoned before an old worn-out body, like the chamber of peers." I must mention that M. Pasquier's personal opinion had in the first instance been in favour of an amnesty, and he wrote a memorial in which his motives were clearly explained, but when the government decided that course to be impossible, he comprehended the full extent of his duty as a magistrate. People may recollect the firmness, the gravity, the patience, even the haughtiness exhibited by the president of the court, during these debates; he retained his superiority over these excited and straightforward minds, and over the hearts of the young men who were animated by patriotism and elevation of feeling. Not a single sentence of death was pronounced, all the punishments were mild, and the prisoners were able to profit by the amnesty shortly afterwards granted to the solicitations of M. Pasquier.

The trial of Fieschi was going on almost at the same time, after the atrocious crime which had filled Paris with horror and bloodshed. History will, perhaps,[193] deprecate the too great consideration exhibited towards Fieschi, and blame the undue attention shewn to that sanguinary mountebank, who declaimed at the bar of justice like a street orator. One of the prisoners alone had something remarkable in his appearance and character; this was the aged Morey, a faithful specimen of the old Jacobins, whose erroneous opinions are deserving of pity, because he sealed them with his blood. This abuse was remedied in the affair of Alibeau, by assigning a subordinate rank to that miserable trial, with which the chamber of peers was burdened. On this occasion the scene was restrained within due proportions, the reward of celebrity was no longer conferred upon all those who dreamed of murder and assassination, and the alteration produced so good an effect, that during the last trial, that of Meunier, public curiosity was scarcely excited, and the crime was abandoned to its proper obscurity.

The great exertions M. Pasquier was compelled to make injured his health, but had no effect upon the great qualities of his mind, or upon the activity and skill in the management of affairs, which always particularly distinguished men of the political party. I believe no circumstance of importance has occurred during the last seven years, upon which he has not been consulted. It is said he exercised great influence on the formation of Casimir Perier's ministry; at all events, his habit of preparing memorials, and of examining closely into all the circumstances likely to produce any striking effect upon public life, has often decided the resolutions of government, and his connexion with the cabinet, and with the principal diplomatic characters, has always facilitated the direction of affairs. He rarely takes them in hand himself, but, like Talleyrand, he makes people act without personally appearing; occupying thus, perhaps, a more[194] elevated position than if he were openly at the head of the government.

He is a man of great experience and of extreme readiness of mind; add to which, I never knew a man more assiduously devoted to his work; and it is worthy of remark, that at the very time he was engaged in taking part in all the most active and violent questions of government, he found leisure to write more than twenty volumes upon the history of his own times. His positive determination not to allow any of his manuscripts to see the light during his lifetime, and even to forbid too early a publication of them after his death, is a sure pledge of the perfect independence of men and circumstances, with which he has devoted himself to so great a work. This constant habit of occupation, and study of facts, enlarges the ideas, and nothing gives a more exalted tone to the minds of statesmen. In the present day we are apt to throw ourselves into political life without any preliminary study; and because we know how to write a few sentences, or that we have uttered a few words at the tribune, we consider ourselves equal to the task of governing a country. Far different is the English method! Political life among our neighbours is a great duty, an entire and constant devotion to the subject; history, diplomacy, administration, in fact every thing must be learned by a public man who aspires to the honour of the ministry, or to a confidential situation for the service of his country.

M. Pasquier had attained his sixty-eighth year at the time he was invested with the dignity of chancellor of France, he had been president of the chamber of peers ever since the revolution of July.

This elevated situation was well suited to a Pasquier, the descendant of a family which had held magisterial[195] office for the last two centuries, and the present chancellor answers perfectly to the idea his ancestors had formed of the office he holds.

There are few men in modern times who, like the magistrates of old, devote a certain portion of their leisure hours to study and to writing; all their country residences and their thick forests are redolent of their recollections and their learning; such are Malesherbes, Baville, and Champlâtreux.

M. Pasquier's private life is very simple; he inhabits the apartments of the petit château at the Luxembourg, leaving the great palace to M. Decaze. No person is easier of access; he speaks rapidly, and apprehends and resolves questions with admirable perspicuity; his habits are very industrious, and reading is his favourite occupation; there is no time thrown away with him, for he contrives to make even his visits a matter of business.

Perhaps he has been appreciated as president of the judicial court and of the chamber. He exhibits the most perfect impartiality in his regulation of the debates in the court of justice. His dislike to useless words and lawyers' speeches, which are of no use either to direct or enlighten, is very great, and he always exercises a degree of firmness without severity, which abridges the proceedings without in any way interfering with the defence of the accused. As president of the chamber, he never separates himself from an idea or opinion in politics: it has been written that the president of a chamber ought not to have an opinion, but I think differently, for he is the expression of a majority, and essentially the man of a system, and therefore I think he ought to form his own opinion; he cannot allow every thing to be said or to be done, and it would be very fortunate if the president possessed authority to put a stop to all idle debates;[196] we sink under the press of words in France, when shall we come to business?

The political school of the restoration, of which M. Pasquier was one of the most eminent chiefs, is gradually disappearing; it was the heir of the moral and intellectual portion of the empire, and must have afforded great strength of support to the Bourbons. Every time that adverse parties have seized the reins of government by means of its expulsion, the most serious catastrophes have ensued; it is fortunate for the existence of kingdoms, and to preserve them from dangers occasioned by the prevalence of excitement, that some men of sense and reflection still exist, of a calm and prophetic turn of mind, who render the transition between one system and another almost imperceptible, and contrive that, in our capricious country, the only definitive system should have been linked with moderation and a constitutional government, which assumes its proper superiority after a long struggle of adverse parties.



The life of the Duke of Wellington forms, for England, a sort of epitome of the glorious career of the Tory party. The venerable chief of the British armies is not only endowed with extraordinary abilities in military operations, he also possesses a cool head in politics, and a wise and pre-eminently moderate mind. Few publications have produced so deep and lively an impression as the "Despatches of the Duke of Wellington, during the various Periods of his Military Command, from India to Waterloo." It changed and modified all party opinions concerning his character; Whigs and Tories were equally struck with the forethought of his measures and the temperate current of his ideas, both in the most difficult and the most varied situations, while in power as well as during the time of war.

In France, opinions do not progress so fast, and people are still full of prejudices concerning the talents and character of this great man. The remains of the Buonaparte faction still affect us, and disfigure history. His power of organisation and his restoration of the elements of society, are not the qualities for which Napoleon's genius is considered especially worthy of admiration, but[198] people want to prove impossibilities, even to the detriment of his fame; and the Duke of Wellington is sacrificed to the resentments inspired by the battle of Waterloo. We have been distinguished enough on the field of battle, and our country has produced names sufficiently known to fame not to make it necessary for us to sacrifice upon the tomb of Napoleon all the rival reputations which opposed obstacles to his career. The careful perusal of the Duke of Wellington's Despatches first caused me to rectify my ideas concerning the man who has both filled the first military place in his native land, and has also been, in the present times, at the head of a powerful and organising party in the affairs of government.

When you study with attention the splendid English engravings that represent the misfortunes and downfall of Tippoo Saib, surrounded by his mourning family; when you gaze upon the magnificent Indian scenery, steaming with heat and moisture, the feathery palm-trees, the elephants with their gilded howdahs, the black Sepoys in European costume, intermingled with the English troops, whose cool determined spirit and military resignation are stamped upon their countenance; while in the back-ground appear the high walls of Seringapatam, and their heavy cannon breathing forth slaughter and defiance; in these scenes, amidst the wreaths of smoke and the gleaming of scimetars, the figure of a young officer may be discerned, with a calm countenance, quiet and reserved manners, and the meditative look which presages a great destiny:—that officer is Sir Arthur Wellesley, since then so celebrated as the Duke of Wellington.

Sir Arthur, the fourth son of Gerard Colley Wellesley earl of Mornington, and of Anne Hill, daughter of Viscount Duncannon, was born at Dungan Castle, on the[199] 1st of May, 1769, one year after that which gave birth to Napoleon; it was a period fertile in great geniuses of all kinds, who came to humanise and to add greatness to the times of the Revolution. Sir Arthur was brought up at Eton, and afterwards went to the military college of Angers in France: our country at that time possessed the best military establishments and the most frequented universities; and I have already observed that Prince Metternich and Benjamin Constant were educated at Strasbourg.

Arthur Wellesley entered the army at an early age, and obtained a commission in the 41st Foot; in 1793 he purchased the lieutenant-colonelcy of the 33d regiment, and made part of the expedition to Ostend against the French republic, where he commanded, at the age of twenty-four years, a brigade in the retreat from Holland under the Duke of York. The English dominions are so vast, that it is by no means uncommon to see men even of the noblest families sent from one extremity of the earth to the other in the service of their country, and young Arthur Wellesley embarked for Jamaica; but the fleet was driven back by a tempest, and after recruiting his regiment in Ireland, the young officer found his destination had been altered; and he was now directed to proceed with it to the banks of the Ganges, with his brother, the Marquis Wellesley, who had been appointed governor-general of India. He distinguished himself greatly in the war with Tippoo, that noble ally of France and of Louis XVI; and was present at the taking of Seringapatam, at the head of the auxiliary troops furnished by the Nizam; he was afterwards acting as governor of the conquered city in 1800, when Dhoondiah Waugh, an Indian adventurer, made an incursion into the Company's territory at the head of 5000 horse.

Imagination carries us back to the times of the[200] "Arabian Nights," when we turn our attention upon the power of the English in India, with their immense establishments among the Hindoos and Mahrattas, and the vast capitals of Calcutta and Madras, almost as highly civilised as Paris or London; where habits of extreme softness and indolence prevail in the midst of active military life.

Shall we long continue to be dazzled by that fairy land, sparkling with diamonds and rubies? I think so; for no government possesses all the qualities necessary to insure the colonisation of distant countries in so eminent a degree as the noble and elevated system pursued by England. People constantly talk of the projects of Russia: what need has she of extending her conquests? These are dreams only fit for the period of the empire under Napoleon. Russia and England are united by the most powerful of all bonds, that of commerce.

Sir Arthur Wellesley distinguished himself in the war against the Mahrattas, and was appointed to the command of 12,000 men destined to attack the enemy's country. Owing to the sagacity of the measures he pursued, in order to secure the movements and subsistence of the troops during his long march, he accomplished this difficult campaign, though undertaken at a very unfavourable season, with hardly any loss.

Buonaparte at this time occupied Egypt; and it is rather a curious circumstance that Sir Arthur's name was suggested for the command of the expedition which was to embark from Calcutta, cross the Isthmus of Suez, and attack the French in the Desert. Had the appointment taken place, young Wellesley would have been called upon, at the very commencement of his career, to encounter the General Buonaparte whose power as Emperor was finally annihilated by him on the plains of Waterloo. The Indian campaign of this year[201] is remarkable, because the Company had to encounter the combined forces of Scindiah and the Rajah of Becar. They were attacked by Sir Arthur near the fortified village of Assaye, which has given its name to the battle. He destroyed Scindiah's cavalry, defeated the infantry of the Rajah of Becar on the plains of Argaum, and seized the fortress of Gawoneilgar,[32] which was quickly followed by the submission of the two chiefs. A monument, in memory of the battle of Assaye, was erected at Calcutta. The inhabitants of that city presented the victorious general with a sword of the value of 1000l., and the officers of his army subscribed for a golden vase, still preserved by the Duke at Apsley House. The English parliament also passed a vote of thanks, and the king conferred upon him the order of the Bath. A person should read the first part of the Duke of Wellington's Despatches to be able to form a correct idea of the perils of this campaign and the precautions necessary to be taken, as well as of the moderation and judgment displayed in his orders.

The Duke of Wellington thus commenced his military career in India. He returned to England in 1805, to take the command of a brigade in the army about to proceed to the Continent, under Lord Cathcart; Germany being now the destination of the general who had lately gathered laurels on the burning plains of Hindostan. The expedition, however, was recalled, in consequence of the glorious victory obtained by Napoleon at Austerlitz, which caused the death of Mr. Pitt; for in England, that country of noble and elevated feelings, the destruction of a great enterprise breaks the heart of a statesman. The political life of Wellington dates its commencement from this period. The English aristocracy[202] are filled with devotion to their country, and the Tories enter into her interests with their whole hearts; indeed, it is by no means a rare occurrence in England to see a man at the same time a member of parliament and employed on active service, for the life of Toryism is essentially patriotic. This intermingling of political situations and duties with military customs leads to the habits of order and method observable in the majorities and minorities that occur upon parliamentary questions; people obey their party or their opinions as they would their commanding officer. In 1806 the town of Newport, in the Isle of Wight, elected Sir Arthur as their representative in the House of Commons, and in the same year he married Miss Pakenham, sister to the Earl of Longford; shortly after which he was appointed secretary to Ireland under the Duke of Richmond. He commanded the reserve of the army under Lord Cathcart during the expedition to Copenhagen, which occasioned such stormy debates in parliament; and the capitulation of the city, an affair discussed, settled, and signed in the course of one night, was entrusted to him. By the terms of this capitulation the whole of the Danish fleet fell into the hands of the English. Upon this occasion an unanimous vote of thanks to the army was passed in both houses of parliament, and the Speaker of the House of Commons addressed the general individually when he again took his seat after his return to England.

The theatre of war was gradually increasing, and, in 1808, Sir Arthur received orders to embark for Corunna and oppose the victorious armies of France, now assembled under chiefs whose fame resounded through the whole of Europe; for Spain had been invaded, and England sought to measure her strength in the field with that of Napoleon. The fleet was directed towards Oporto, and Sir Arthur effected his landing in Portugal[203] in the face of the brave regiments of the great army, at the time when Junot was assuming a regal position at Lisbon: the monarchy of the house of Braganza appeared at this period like a brilliant ring, which was successively fitted on the finger of all the adventurous chiefs, despatched as a sort of disgrace to Portugal by Napoleon. General Junot compromised the army by his want of capacity and his vain pretensions, and the 21st of August was marked by the battle of Vimiera, where the attack was commenced by the French. The complete destitution of the army rendered a treaty necessary, and by the miserable capitulation, called the Convention of Cintra, it was agreed that the French should evacuate Portugal and return into France with their arms and baggage. Sir Arthur did not sign this convention, and the real author of it, Sir Hew Dalrymple, being violently attacked by the opposition, Sir Arthur quitted the army to be present at the debates, and at the trial of Sir Hew by a court-martial. The Convention of Cintra has been greatly blamed by Lord Byron in his poem of "Childe Harold." Dalrymple was deprived of his command, and he was succeeded by Sir Arthur Wellesley, who landed at Lisbon on the 22d of August, 1809. By the direction of Napoleon, the most bitter ridicule was cast upon him in the Moniteur; those wretched declamations against his adversaries were a weak and contemptible trait in the emperor's character, shewing a spirit of littleness in the midst of all his great qualities. The following is the article he dictated in Paris, with a mixture of folly and presumption:—

"We are very well pleased Lord Wellington should command the armies, for, with the disposition he evinces, he will meet with great catastrophes.... Sir John Moore and Lord Wellington shew no symptoms of the[204] provident forethought which is so essential a quality in warlike operations, which leads people to do nothing but what they can maintain, and to undertake nothing but what offers a probability of success: Lord Wellington has not shewn more talent than the cabinet of St. James's. To attempt to support Spain against France, and to enter into a struggle with France upon the Continent, is to form an enterprise which will cost dear to those who have attempted it, and occasion them nothing but disasters."

It must certainly be admitted, that Sir Arthur had no longer to contend with an inexperienced general like Junot, the command of the army of Portugal having been conferred upon Marshal Soult, an old soldier, who would not fail to display the perfect knowledge of military tactics which had raised him to the highest rank in his profession. The uncertain battle of Talavera de la Reyna was celebrated in England as a most decisive victory; great enthusiasm was excited, and, in spite of the speeches of the opposition, a vote of thanks to the English general was passed by both houses of parliament, and a pension of 2000l. per annum was settled upon him; he was also raised to the peerage by the title of Viscount Wellington of Talavera. The junta of Cadiz, which had hitherto opposed him from motives of pride and national feeling, now offered him the rank and allowances of captain-general of the Spanish army; but Lord Wellington declined accepting any thing but a present of a few horses of the Andalusian breed, which the Spaniards, in the name of Ferdinand VII., offered him for his stud. The conduct of the commander of the British armies on this occasion was quite in keeping with the English character; he considered a few fine horses, of a noble breed, as his most distinguished trophy. The rapid march of Marshals Soult and Ney from Salamanca into Estramadura[205] compelled him to retreat as quickly as he had advanced; he therefore crossed the Tagus, and took up a strong position to defend the passage at Almarez and the lower part of the river. He was now destined to encounter the two most remarkable lieutenants of Napoleon; for Massena, in his turn, had entered Portugal, and commenced operations by the sieges of Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo.

The Duke of Wellington, in his old age, takes pleasure in talking over the campaign of Portugal at Apsley House, because he there offered a powerful resistance to the French army, displayed the most consummate strategic skill, and was opposed to the most renowned marshals of the empire; first Soult and Massena, and afterwards Marmont, who, though skilful in his arrangements, was always unfortunate, and Ney, the boldest and most adventurous of them all. The Duke of Wellington has caused drawings to be made of the celebrated lines of Torres Vedras, whose plan he traced himself, and had executed with a rapidity and perseverance that appear almost to belong to fabulous times. They were intended to protect Lisbon, and extended from the sea to the Tagus, at the point where the river, being about six miles broad, defended them as completely as the sea itself. They were constructed with so much secrecy, that Marmont was struck with amazement at the sight of them; and the English system of tactics, which consists in taking up a fortified position, was displayed on this occasion in all its glory. The brave Massena passed nearly six months before these lines,—this magnificent military work, roaming like a chafed lion desirous of engaging with his enemy around these masses of granite, and the waters of the great river, almost as vast as the sea. The old general of the Italian campaign expected reinforcements from France, but he received no assistance either[206] in men or provisions—a circumstance which must have rendered his retreat to the frontiers of Spain very difficult to accomplish. The Duke of Wellington always does justice to the skill of Marshals Soult and Massena; and, in speaking of them in present times, he acknowledges them both to have been men of great military capacity. The English general again received the thanks of both houses of parliament on this occasion; an additional subsidy was voted him, and the title of Marquis of Torres Vedras was conferred upon him, to perpetuate the memory of the military resistance that had saved Portugal.

At this period the English government lavished marks of gratitude upon its generals, in order to excite them to fresh acts of self-devotion; and England already discerned in the Duke of Wellington a man capable of coping with the power of Napoleon. An attempt had been at first made to institute a comparison between Admiral Nelson and the Emperor, and after his death at Trafalgar the Duke of Wellington succeeded him in public estimation; such, at least, was the opinion expressed and acted upon by the British parliament.

The English army were guilty of many faults, from the time of the blockade of Almeida up to the siege of Badajos; and the battle of Fuentes d'Onoro was a severe lesson for their commander. The juntas were not favourably disposed towards England, in spite of which Lord Wellington had organised the Portuguese army, and placed it on a firm military footing; and every thing at Lisbon was already under the influence of England, which furnished provisions, artillery, clothing, and arms. The Tagus was now occupied by a formidable English fleet, and from this time forth the cabinet of London gradually extended its influence in the Peninsula; in fact, Lisbon was actually in a state of vassalage, and commercial relations contributed their share towards[207] strengthening the military bonds which war had imposed with such mighty power.

Lord Wellington passed the Tagus to prevent supplies of provisions and ammunition being thrown into Ciudad Rodrigo, which was now the central point of the military operations; and the city was carried by storm after a siege of ten days.[33] Fortune had ceased to smile on Napoleon; Massena had been recalled, and Marshal Soult shortly after him, leaving Marmont, who was always unfortunate; while the Duke of Wellington, on the contrary, had just succeeded in overcoming the repugnance of the regency of Cadiz, by whom, after the taking of Badajos,[34] he was created a grandee of Spain of the first class, Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo, and commander-in-chief of the Spanish army. The English parliament also voted him an additional pension of 2000l. per annum.

Badajos was taken by storm some months after the fall of Ciudad Rodrigo, and our eagles veiled their heads before the British armies. His flanks being secured, Lord Wellington crossed the Tagus and entered Castile; his means were very superior to those of his antagonists; besides which the generals did not agree in opinion, and the court was totally devoid of energy: Napoleon was not there to interpose his will, which bore down all opposition. The battle of Salamanca,[35] which decided the fate of Spain, took place shortly after. Lord Wellington hastened on, with forced marches, towards Valladolid, and turning suddenly to the right he made a bold movement towards Madrid, while Joseph Buonaparte retreated to Burgos. I cannot imagine what induced Napoleon to send Marshal Jourdan as a military guide to his brother,[208] for he was the most inferior of all his captains, and the Emperor had greatly ridiculed his first revolutionary successes. Lord Wellington again received the thanks of parliament on this occasion, the Prince Regent conferred upon him the title of marquis, and the House of Commons voted him the sum of 100,000l.

It is necessary to enter into these details to understand the source of the political fortune of the Duke of Wellington. We here see that all his rank, his honours, even his income, are derived from the field of battle. The rewards granted by parliament were profuse, because it was of the highest importance to create a military existence capable of opposing the wonderful fortunes of Napoleon. At this time, Marshal Soult, who had raised the siege of Cadiz and abandoned Andalusia, made so well-arranged a movement in concert with the main body of General Souham's army, that Lord Wellington's line of communication was compromised; he was compelled to make a precipitate retreat, and Marshal Soult resumed a glorious offensive position.

The English general having here forgotten the prudent system he usually observed, for two days his whole army was exposed to the enemy, and it is evident, from this circumstance, that the Duke of Wellington's talent for defensive measures was greater than for an active military campaign.[36] He never appeared to understand how to observe an exact medium between the well-considered temerity, which seizes upon a fault for the chance it affords of success, and the prudence which foresees all the chances that may occur, even in a bad position.

In order to complete the deliverance of the Peninsula,[209] Lord Wellington in January 1813, repaired to Cadiz, to communicate in person with the regency; by this step all doubts were dispelled, and the Spanish army, after being better organised, was placed under his immediate command. He was tenaciously regardful of his title of generalissimo, and explained his plan for the campaign at the head of the combined army of England, Spain, and Portugal, as far as Vittoria, where the battle took place which was so fatal to our arms in the Peninsula, and where every thing was taken by the English, even to the treasure of Joseph Buonaparte. The utter incapacity of Marshal Jourdain, and the avidity of some of the French generals, were among the principal causes of this misfortune; and the efforts made to save the treasure occasioned the destruction of the army. All the family of Napoleon, by whom he was surrounded, being incapable of comprehending his glory, only served to endanger his fortune; and when the day of misfortune has arrived, what power can arrest the torrent? The battle of Vittoria procured for Lord Wellington the elevated rank of field-marshal, so rarely conferred in England; and it opened the road of the Pyrenees to the Coalition. It was when approaching Pampeluna and St. Sebastian, that the English general unfolded his plan of carrying the war into France. Soult had again taken the command of the French troops on the Bidassoa; for Napoleon had found it necessary to despatch from the field of Bautzen, a marshal of skill and ability to the point most threatened with danger, and the army in Spain was in a state of utter confusion. Lord Wellington extended his line to Bayonne, after having carried the position of Nivelle: it was certainly a wonderful war, full of strategy! Marshal Soult displayed great skill in the manner in which he manœuvred before a superior force, which only advanced when prudence permitted; and[210] thus the two armies remained for nearly two months, watching each other's motions, but prevented by the severity of the season, and the dreadful state of the roads, from proceeding any farther. Soult made an attempt to imitate the lines of Torres Vedras on the frontiers of France, and erected formidable intrenchments near Bayonne; but Lord Wellington, without attacking them in front, turned them by the right, and thus compelled his antagonist to abandon them.

The name of France inspired even the Allies with so much respect, that they could not avoid a feeling of hesitation as to entering her territories. When, however, we look back upon the early ages of the French monarchy, we find that English troops had more than once distinguished themselves on the plains of Gascony; and the exploits of the Black Prince are interwoven with the feudal history of Guienne. The Emperor's orders to Marshal Soult were to retreat very slowly, and to endeavour as far as possible to avert the progress of the English, Spanish, and Portuguese troops, by constant skirmishes. He had himself entered into a treaty with Ferdinand VII., in the hope of separating by this means the Spanish army from the Anglo-Portuguese force under Lord Wellington.

Matters were, however, too far advanced to admit of the realisation of these political plans, for the Pyrenees were already passed. After the battle of Orthes the French army was unable to maintain the road to Bourdeaux, and Lord Wellington, in concert with Marshal Beresford, was obliged to give a decided opinion concerning the inclination in favour of the Bourbons, which began to manifest itself in the southern provinces. On this occasion he assumed a political position for the first time; until now he had been merely a general officer, exhibiting some degree of dexterity in his negotiations[211] with the junta of Cadiz, but the events of 1814 were evidently assuming a decisive character fraught with great importance. Would he be justified in giving a political impulse in favour of the restoration of Louis XVIII., and what were the orders of his government on this subject when the Allies were engaged in negotiation at Chaumont? Lord Wellington permitted the full and energetic manifestation of the public feeling; and Marshal Beresford made no objections to the white flag being hoisted. The empire was gradually declining from the northern to the southern extremity of the kingdom; and letters were received from Lord Castlereagh, informing the chief of the English armies of the events that had taken place in Paris. The battle of Toulouse was fought a few days afterwards, a melancholy and useless sacrifice of human life,—for it was incapable of arresting the progress of the coalesced armies; in fact, all was now over, the restoration was completed, and Louis XVIII. in the act of re-entering his capital. The English remained in possession of Toulouse, and the peace of 1814 was concluded by all the allied powers.

Lord Wellington took no part in this treaty, for he was then possessed of no political influence, his life being entirely military; and Lord Castlereagh, then at the head of the cabinet, was not inclined to yield his ministerial influence to any one. When, however, the congress was assembled at Vienna, the Duke of Wellington, who had been received with the utmost enthusiasm in England, attended this meeting of crowned heads, to exhibit the grandeur of his country, and recall to mind the services he had rendered to the common cause. The talent he had displayed in the Peninsular war, and the perseverance he had exhibited during that long struggle, had cast a halo round his person, and greatly excited[212] the public curiosity concerning him. He was at that time forty-five years of age, cold and reserved in his manners, but attaching some value to the attention shewn him by some of the ladies at Vienna; an immense number of entertainments were given to him, and it is well known that no city in Europe offers so many resources for those inclined to pleasure and dissipation.

In the midst of all these amusements the congress was startled by the fall of the thunderbolt,—news was received of the landing of Napoleon in the gulf of Juan! It was necessary immediate recourse should be had to military measures, and without a moment's hesitation the direction of the operations was entrusted to the Duke of Wellington, as the person most capable of opposing Napoleon; besides which, as Great Britain gave the impulse to the European league, it was necessary to give her a pledge of their sincerity, and the title of generalissimo, conferred upon the Duke, was undoubtedly due to him, in consideration of the subsidies which the English parliament were about to vote for the advantage of Europe. After a hurried journey to England, Wellington returned with all speed to the Low Countries, to decide in concert with Field-marshal Blucher upon the plan of his campaign; and when opposed to the powerful army of Napoleon, he followed the same system he had been accustomed to pursue in Spain; that is to say, he assumed a defensive attitude, in a well-chosen position. His military reputation had commenced with the lines of Torres Vedras, and was destined to reach its zenith at Waterloo;—thus shewing that the whole of a man's destiny is sometimes comprehended between two ideas.

I shall not enter here into military details, but content myself with observing that the battle of Waterloo was a perfect type of the system pursued by two men whose[213] military capacities were entirely dissimilar—the Emperor and the Duke of Wellington. Napoleon was impetuous, actually sublime, when advancing to attack his enemy; but disordered and devoid of reflection in a retreat. The Duke, on the contrary, was timid, watchful, and undecided during an active campaign, to such a degree that he endangered the safety of his troops whenever he attempted a bold movement; but he was at the same time cool and collected, and accustomed to avail himself of every advantage when acting on the defensive. The attack made by Buonaparte at Waterloo recalled the battles of Wagram and Austerlitz, while the Duke of Wellington again saw the lines of Torres Vedras in the intrenched position of Mont St. Jean.

The influence of the Duke of Wellington naturally increased after this great battle; he was advancing at the head of a victorious army, and though Blucher did not actually fill a subordinate situation, yet the Duke, from his being covered with the glory of Waterloo, could not fail to exercise a considerable influence over the mind of the Prussian generalissimo. At last, when they approached Paris, all the revolutionary party, with Fouché at their head, came to meet the Duke, considering him as the supreme arbiter, whose word was to decide upon the fate of France. Fouché opened an active negotiation with him for the occupation of France; and the noble Duke, in a conversation with Louis XVIII., recommended the ministry of Talleyrand and Fouché, as the only one capable of bringing about an union between royalty and the liberty obtained by the revolution. Was the Duke mistaken? or was he duped? Whichever may have been the case, the coalition fell to pieces almost immediately, and the powerful and long-continued ascendency of Lord Castlereagh and the English government was replaced by the personal influence[214] of the Emperor Alexander. Talleyrand was succeeded by the Duke de Richelieu.

By the treaty concluded in the month of November 1815, it had been stipulated that an army of occupation should remain in France; and it was placed under the command of the Duke of Wellington, without making any distinction among the contingents furnished by the different powers. He was also appointed inspector of the fortresses in the Low Countries, which were erected as advanced posts against France, and with the money levied upon her. The generalissimo resided in Paris, where he saw a good deal of Louis XVIII.; and his English principles were in perfect agreement with a system of moderation and freedom. He possessed an honest and upright heart, and a habit of judging with ease and simplicity of the state of events; and we must do him the justice to say, that when on various occasions he was constituted arbiter of the claims of the Allies, he almost invariably gave his opinion in favour of our unfortunate country. Even when he was consulted, more than once, upon the possibility of diminishing the army of occupation, he declared that the state of the public mind in France would permit this relief to be granted, which the suffering condition of the country rendered imperatively necessary. At this period, when the Duke of Wellington was engaged in rendering us most essential service, the Buonapartist spirit armed a fanatic against his life, and a pistol was fired actually into his carriage. The Duke escaped unhurt; and I deeply regret that Napoleon, in his will written at St. Helena, should have degraded himself to such a degree as to award a recompense to the miscreant who had thus attacked his former military adversary. Conduct like this communicates a stain which cannot be effaced even from the most renowned characters in history.


After the departure of the army of occupation, and the signing of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, the Duke of Wellington quitted Paris; his military career was at an end, and his political life may be said to have just begun: having been raised to a seat in the House of Peers,[37] with the rank of duke, in the enjoyment of an immense fortune, and decorated with the stars of every order of knighthood in Europe, he could hardly fail of possessing a considerable degree of influence. But the order of things was now changed in England: during the long wars against the French Revolution and Empire, the English had shewn extreme energy, and had made great and very judicious use of their powerful means, thus enabling the Tories to overcome all the difficulties presented by their situation; they were successful because they were strongly opposed to all revolutionary principles, and firmly resolved to carry out the war. The people had then no time to think of internal dissensions, they were breathlessly engaged in incessantly recurring struggles, and always hoping for victory; but now that the war was at an end, passions were reawakened, and Lord Castlereagh saw his power gradually declining, while that of the Whigs and Radicals was progressively increasing.

The Duke of Wellington was a Tory upon principle and family precedent; he took his seat in the House of Peers among the Conservatives; and he and Lord Aberdeen formed the centre of the Tory benches that supported Lord Castlereagh's ministry. He was not an eloquent speaker, but he expressed himself with great clearness and precision; and, without being a man of a very enlarged mind, he was gifted with an instinctive[216] good sense, that enabled him to form an accurate judgment of the generality of questions; while, at the same time, he was perfectly au fait of the political occurrences and situations of Europe, for he had taken a part in too many affairs of importance not to have retained a deep impression of them. In short, the Duke of Wellington, as a statesman, was less distinguished for the great than for the good things he had done. His popularity was now on the decline; the time had passed away when his carriage was surrounded by crowds of people on his return to England after his campaigns, for the Hero of Waterloo was too staunch a Tory to be a favourite with the populace. The queen's trial had excited public opinion in the highest degree, and every thing was progressing rapidly towards reform.

Under circumstances like these, the Duke had little political influence except in the diplomatic circle; but he found himself mixed up with all the serious continental affairs, in consequence of the important part he had formerly played; and he was present at the congress of Verona. He preserved a certain degree of influence in foreign affairs during Mr. Canning's ministry, although the Whig party was in the ascendant. Russia appeared at this time likely to become the rival of England; the Greek question caused considerable public excitement, and difficulties existed as to fixing the new boundaries of the Hellenic territory. Mr. Canning, therefore, considered it necessary a person of great consideration should be sent to St. Petersburg, and the Duke of Wellington, being held in high estimation by the Emperor Nicholas, and having also been actively engaged in most of the questions of general interest, it was decided that his mission should be attached to the treaty of the sixth of July, which established the independence of Greece, and settled her territorial boundaries. It had become[217] necessary the business should be finally decided; and as, in England, strong prejudices against individuals are never indulged in when business is at stake, the Duke of Wellington was selected as being the person most capable of being useful.

When he returned to England Mr. Canning was dead; Lord Goderich's ministry was struggling feebly with the difficulties it had to encounter, and as diplomatic matters were assuming a singularly complicated appearance, the king thought it advisable to form a Tory ministry of men of capacity and experience. It was composed of Mr. Peel, Lord Aberdeen, and the Duke of Wellington; and peculiarly adapted for resisting any encroachments on the part of Russia. When the Duke came seriously to examine into the state of the country, he was convinced that one of the first steps necessary to secure the efficiency and consistency of his ministry was the emancipation of the Catholics. This had long been a favourite idea in his family; and Marquis Wellesley[38] had formerly detached himself from George III. on this very question. The Duke had no hesitation as to the course he was to pursue, and a bill presented to parliament was passed by a majority; the Tories were desirous of the glory of originating so just and equitable a measure.[39]

The revolution of July, some months afterwards, struck a fatal blow to the heart of the Tories; for Radical opinions were already obtaining great influence in England. The Duke hastened to recognise the events that had taken place, but in his own mind he qualified the proceedings with the epithet untoward—the same expression he had used concerning the battle of Navarino.[218] Had not every thing been overturned and altered by this revolution? How, then, was it possible for the Duke to contend with a political system which threatened to destroy the treaties concluded in 1815? He comprehended the full consequences of this change,—nor did he attempt to avert them; but, on the first occasion of an equivocal majority, he sent in his resignation, and gave up his situation to Lord Grey and the Whigs. As in England all political characters are independent of their position, they resign it without regret, even for some incidental circumstance. The Duke then placed himself at the head of the Conservative party, and of the enlightened Tories in the House of Lords; assuming there about the same situation as Mr. Peel in the House of Commons. Conservative and Tory signify in England men of worth and consistency, who venerate the ancient institutions of their country, and do not wish them to be interfered with; and it is certainly a magnificent ground for a statesman to take up, for he places himself as a barrier to oppose all the storms raised by parties. The Duke's Conservative principles made him averse to the plan of reform that attacked the ancient constitution of England: he continued to observe this steadfastness of opinion in the House of Lords; and when, in 1833, the continental question again became perplexed, the king proposed forming another ministry, in which he was to be included; but on this occasion, with an admirable appreciation of existing circumstances, Mr. Peel was placed at the head of the cabinet, and the noble Duke only filled a secondary place. He considered that a name belonging to the commonalty, like that of Mr. Peel, was better suited to the juncture than that of the Duke of Wellington or the Earl of Aberdeen. In consequence of this arrangement the Duke found himself completely eclipsed by Mr. Peel, and he[219] appeared only to have been included in the ministry that he might act as its representative in the House of Lords: as it has been remarked by an English political writer, he certainly did not form its basis, whatever strength and consideration he might have brought to its assistance.

Peel's ministry was not of long duration; and the Tories were certainly guilty of an oversight in forming this ephemeral cabinet, for nothing more deeply injures a party than abortive efforts, or attempts which are not crowned with success. The Duke of Wellington resumed his place in the House of Lords, and spoke with seriousness and moderation upon all the questions of importance that came before them. As I have before observed, strong good sense, and clear reasoning, are the qualities for which he is especially distinguished, and which carry every thing before them. His manner of expressing himself is quiet and serious; and he is always listened to with respect and attention. His private life is essentially military; and at Apsley House he is surrounded by pictures of all his battles, from India to Waterloo. His favourite campaign is that of the Peninsula; and one might say that the recollections of his youth, under the exhilarating sky of the south of Europe, are intermingled with it. The Duke likes the old friends, and the society that reminds him of his military adventures; he is also very intimate with the corps diplomatique, and entertains magnificently,—displaying all the splendour of an immense fortune and the grandeur of the English aristocracy. Sometimes he speaks with bitterness of his past popularity contrasted with the feelings evinced towards him in later times; and he has more than once called attention to the windows of his palace, now defended by iron gratings against the violence of the mob, who threw stones against his windows and[220] into his splendidly decorated apartments. "What a contrast!" said he to Pozzo di Borgo, in 1834. "Recollect, my dear friend, my popularity after the battle of Waterloo, and my entry into London in the year 1815; and now see how completely I am out of favour with these people!"

The Duke of Wellington likes to be compared to Marlborough and Nelson—the two most illustrious of English heroes; but he avoids all comparison with Napoleon, for their two careers are neither on the same scale nor can be measured by the same proportion.

The Duke of Wellington, a general essentially attached to the defensive system, always knew how to select a favourable position; received battle, but very rarely gave it. Every time that he ventured on bold measures he was guilty of imprudence; and he only shewed himself eminently superior when acting on the defensive.[40] Napoleon, on the contrary, was bold and magnificent in the attack; his plans were cleverly laid, and were the result of a sudden inspiration,—his wonderful genius enabled him to modify them according to circumstances; but at the slightest reverse Napoleon was cast down, and his retreat was almost always a flight: though his attack was made in the most brilliant manner, he knew not how to resist; and in this he personified the military genius of the French nation, from the times of Cressy and Agincourt. I think it necessary to repeat this parallel, as it is the only one that it is possible to draw between Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington. Nelson was the only Englishman who carried into naval warfare the spirit exhibited by Napoleon in the continental war. Had the Emperor lived to the age of the Duke, it would have been curious to compare[221] these two great characters at the extreme point of existence.

Since the revolution of 1830, the history of parties and statesmen has been greatly developed; Whigs and Tories have in turn been at the helm—Lord Grey, Lord Palmerston; Mr. Peel, and Lord Aberdeen; affording opportunities of forming a more correct judgment of the character and personal value of each. The Tories have now returned into power with Mr. Peel and Lord Aberdeen; but the Duke would not accept any office beyond a sort of patronage over the House of Lords.

A parallel may now be drawn between the Whigs and Tories, embracing the most distinguished characters among both. Lord Grey left all his celebrity as a leader of the opposition, to become a minister of mediocrity at the head of the government. Lord Palmerston exhibited so much emptiness and folly in his adventurous attempt at liberalism, as to lose all his consistency in England. The Tories on the contrary, have retained two men of high consideration, whose reputation is unblemished, viz. Mr. Peel and Lord Aberdeen. No man can equal the chief of the Tory party in his clear and perspicuous manner of speaking of business; and the Earl of Aberdeen possesses in an eminent degree a knowledge of foreign affairs and a most extensive acquaintance with facts: and this, in truth, constitutes the superiority and the seal of the Tory party.

People generally mistake the Duke of Wellington's character, by supposing him to feel a dislike to France; on the contrary, he has many feelings quite in agreement with our national character and history. The Tories, to a greater degree than the Whigs, are persuaded that the predominance of France is necessary for the balance of power in Europe; they seek all occasions to give a proof of this opinion, and are often grieved at the prejudices[222] which exist at the bottom of our character against the politics of their cabinet.

The Duke of Wellington has now reached the advanced age of seventy-four years, and he seldom speaks in the House of Lords; but when he does so his speeches are always worthy of attention, for his words carry with them the importance due to the opinion of a consummate statesman. His career, which began at so early an age in the burning climate of India, has been already several times endangered by sudden attacks of illness, from which he has recovered,—thanks to the strength of his constitution. Constantly accustomed to be employed, he himself corrected the proof sheets of his Despatches, which not only place him in the front rank as a strategic writer, but also award him an elevated position in the scale of minds imbued with the principles of order, government, and administration. Let us repeat it, three men form a summary of the career of the Tories; Mr. Peel for the administration, Lord Aberdeen for foreign affairs, and the Duke of Wellington for military glory and renown. All these three are men of powerful minds.



Among the admirable works that have emanated from the pencil of Lawrence, the reader must have observed a countenance with a melancholy expression, and a high forehead shaded by locks prematurely blanched; the mild intelligent eyes, delicate nose, and firmly compressed mouth, are indicative of a mind of a superior order, but at the age of scarcely fifty years this countenance, whose nobleness and simplicity of expression are remarkable, conveys the idea of a man worn out with the troubles and anxieties of life; and I may almost add, by whom its vanities and illusions are viewed in their true colours. It is a mixture of the Frenchman of noble descent, and of the highest Russian nobility, who live so fast. This portrait was painted by Lawrence at Aix-le-Chapelle, and the original was distinguished during his childhood by the title of Comte de Chinon; in youth he was called Duc de Fronsac, and he finally inherited the title of Duc de Richelieu.

The political systems of all ages are personified by certain statesmen, who were their representatives. Since the commencement of the eighteenth century, France has been constantly placed between two preponderating[224] interests; these are, 1st, an alliance with England, effected during the regency, and overturned by Louis XV. at Fontenoy; then resumed by the treaties of 1783 and 1785; again broken by the convention, with expressions of contempt and violence, in 1793; renewed for a moment under Talleyrand in 1814, when it was destroyed by the personal influence of the Emperor Alexander; and finally restored for a short time in 1833, by the feeble treaty between France, England, Spain and Portugal. 2dly, the Russian alliance, of more modern date, though naturally very suitable to the interests of France. It was first attempted by means of the embassy of M. de Ségur, under Louis XVI.; was restored by Napoleon at Erfurt, until the disastrous campaign of Moscow; resumed in 1815, and supported by the ministries of the Duc de Richelieu in 1816, and M. de la Ferronays in 1828, until Prince Polignac brought back the English system. After the revolution of July the diplomatic projects of Prince Polignac were resumed, with this sole difference, that Talleyrand attempted with the Whigs what the ministers of Charles X. had endeavoured to effect with the Tories.

I am about to write the life of the Duc de Richelieu as the personification of the Russian alliance, which I shall consider in all its various stages, from the period of the Restoration; and this is an era of very great importance in diplomatic history, for we are living under the treaties of 1814 and 1815. Those concluded at Vienna, at Aix-la-Chapelle, at Troppau, and Laybach, form the basis of our present relations with the rest of Europe.

Armand Emanuel du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu, well known in his early youth under the name of Comte de Chinon, was born at Paris on the 25th of September, 1766; his father was the Duc de Fronsac, son of the old[225] Marshal Richelieu, and his mother was a daughter of the house of Hautefort. Paris was full of the endowments of his ancestor the great cardinal, whose purple robe was the glory of his family; and it was at the college of Plessis, founded by him, that the Comte de Chinon first commenced his education, and was tolerably successful in his studies, especially in acquiring the various languages of Europe; for he learned to speak Italian, German, and English with facility, and at a later period Russian became as familiar to him as French. At the age of fourteen he was married to a daughter of the noble house of Rochechouart, and the young count and his little wife, who was just thirteen years of age, went to travel for some years, according to the custom that prevailed at that time among families of rank: he visited Italy, the country of the fine arts, to admire the works of the old masters, and the ancient cities, whose renown had once overspread the world. On the first breaking out of our domestic troubles the young nobleman hastened to offer his services to his menaced sovereign, and on the 5th and 6th of October, 1789, he proceeded on foot and alone to Versailles, and making his way through the assembled mob of ragged men and women, he went to warn the court of the danger with which it was threatened. As if in anticipation of his future diplomatic career, Louis XVI. employed him a few days afterwards on a mission to Joseph II., a sovereign who patronised reform; and he discharged it with the silent discretion so necessary to be observed in the relations of the king with foreigners, at a time when he was so closely watched and surrounded by the spies of the people. The Comte de Chinon, under the title of Duc de Fronsac, was already distinguished for the uprightness of his character; political intrigues[226] did not suit his frank and open disposition, and he therefore quitted Vienna and hastened to the siege of Ismael, celebrated by Lord Byron in his poem of "Don Juan." Many of the French nobility were serving in the armies of Catherine II., and the Duc de Fronsac fought by the side of Count Roger de Damas at the taking of the redoubt, where, according to the sarcastic rhymes of the poet, the cannon that thundered upon the besiegers were as numerous as the lovers of the licentious empress. The Duc de Fronsac was slightly wounded, and Catherine sent him a gold-hilted sword and the order of St. George. He also accepted the rank of Colonel in the Russian army, when he inherited the illustrious title of Richelieu upon the death of his father.

When Monsieur, afterwards Louis XVIII., made an appeal to the old and noble families among his countrymen, calling upon them to serve under the white banner, the Duc de Richelieu joined the army assembled to fight for the ancient crown of France; and after the unfortunate termination of the campaign of 1792, when the Prince of Condé requested an asylum in Russia for the French exiles, he was despatched by the Empress Catherine to arrange with the Prince the plan of a colony, to be established on the shores of the sea of Azof: it was to consist entirely of men of birth, and this idea was of some service when the noble foundation of Odessa took place; but in a military crisis like this, how was it possible to conceive and follow out a project involving a regular system of administration?

At the siege of Valenciennes by the coalesced armies, the Duc de Richelieu commanded a company of men of noble birth. There was something glorious and honourable in this emigration, which followed the fortunes of the royal banner as their ancestors had done that of[227] Henry IV; and we must not judge their proceedings according to our little party prejudices. After the victorious republic had reconquered her frontiers he returned to Russia, and became colonel of a cuirassier regiment; but the Emperor Paul was then on the throne, and with his usual harshness and brutality of disposition he punished the Duke for his personal attachment to the Czarewitch Alexander, by depriving him of his regiment; he even went so far as to forbid him to appear at St. Petersburg: for with a degree of imperial egotism the Czar expected devotion should be exhibited to himself alone. Such being the cause of his exile, it is hardly necessary to say, that on the accession of Alexander he was restored to his former rank, with every mark of the sovereign's favour; and the esteem and confidence entertained for him by Alexander, at this early period, was of the greatest service to France during the events that took place in the year 1815. Even then the Duke was fully sensible of the importance of an alliance between France and Russia, two countries whose interests are constantly meeting without its being possible they should clash; but at this time people could not even dream of the restoration of the royal dynasty—no event could appear less likely to occur.

After peace was concluded with Russia in 1801, the Duke took the opportunity of returning to France and collecting the remains of the enormous fortune of his ancestors, for the sake of paying the debts of his father and grandfather, both of whom had greatly involved their patrimony by their insane prodigality: this was his sole object; and he abandoned the whole of his rights to the creditors, retaining for himself nothing of that immense inheritance. It was certainly giving evidence of a most noble disposition! The Duc de Richelieu, prime minister of Louis XVIII., and great-nephew[228] of the celebrated cardinal, did not himself possess an income of more than 20,000 francs![41]

Buonaparte was at the summit of his consular glory when the illustrious name of Richelieu was presented to him; and he who attached a great value to names of historic celebrity, and who was also a great admirer of the iron-handed minister, offered the Duke employment in his army: but he refused it, and is it possible to blame him for so doing? He was a man of high and ancient descent, warmly attached to the House of Bourbon, and resolved not to serve in a French army except under the royal banner: his refusal, however, rendered it necessary he should immediately quit Paris; and on his return to the Emperor Alexander he was entrusted with the execution of rather a difficult task, being appointed to the government of the southern portion of that immense empire. All the provinces on the borders of the Black Sea had been converted into uncultivated deserts by the ravages of war, and the barbarous ignorance of the Mussulman inhabitants rendered them incapable of repairing the mischief—in fact, the old Roman colonies of the Palus Meotides no longer existed except in name; and in repeopling this desert, the closest and most careful surveillance was necessary for the purpose of introducing European customs and civilisation. In the beginning of 1803, the Duke was appointed Governor of Odessa, and he was afterwards employed in the general administration of New Russia—a country where the climate is mild and genial, and which is like Italy, only devoid of the arts and of cultivation: institutions had been commenced, but nothing was completed, and in a city of considerable extent there were hardly 5000 inhabitants.[42] M. de Richelieu, without[229] the slightest hesitation, had recourse to the measures necessary for improving this state of things, even though he sometimes offended ancient customs and selfish interests; but it is only by means of absolute power that great reforms can be accomplished. Every thing appeared to have received new life; commerce, set free from the bonds by which she was before shackled, made a rapid advance, and the population of Odessa was in a short time doubled. The administration of the governor extended from the vast countries of the Dniester to the Kouban and the Caucasus; and the colonies of German Anabaptists, by whom more than one hundred villages were peopled, first set the example of agriculture upon the most enlightened system, so that, in a short time, immense fields of corn displayed their waving verdure on plains which, formerly, scarcely afforded to the Tartars pasturage for their cattle.

It became necessary to establish a sort of feudal system to defend the country against the invasions of the Circassians, armed, as in the time of the Crusades, with golden helms and knightly mail; and the Duke, brave, devoted to his undertaking, and desirous of glory, became the military chieftain of the colony. It was impossible the establishments on the Black Sea should attain their full greatness until Circassia should have submitted to the Russian government; this conquest the Russian cabinet is at present accomplishing.[43]


To set a limit to the depredations of the Circassians, the governor was repeatedly compelled to penetrate into their mountains at the head of some Russian regiments; he neglected nothing that could lead to the diffusion of the benefits of European society in that barbarous country, and several young Circassians, whom the fortune of war or other events had placed in his hands, were carefully educated under his superintendence, instructed in our arts, accustomed to our manners, and then restored to their homes to dwell among their countrymen, whose customs and habits might be softened and improved by their example: such was the custom of the ancient Romans with regard to their vanquished nations. This active administration continued during the plague which devastated Odessa in the year 1813;[231] and the Duke then displayed the utmost firmness and energy, though he was obliged more than once to have recourse to the military power, which in Russia is always confounded with the civil administration. But it would be necessary to visit Odessa to form a just estimate of all he has effected there; he appeared to have inherited the creative genius of the great cardinal.

A new field soon opened before him. The events of 1814 had brought about the restoration of the Bourbons, and the influence of the Emperor Alexander reigned paramount over the proceedings of the senate which prepared the fall of Napoleon. Louis XVIII., who was a prince of a touchy disposition, and very ceremonious habits, had but very little inclination for the Duc de Richelieu, for he could not forgive his having preferred filling a high and important situation in Russia to the dignity of an attendant upon his exiled person; nevertheless, he restored the peerage to his family, as well as the situation of first gentilhomme du roi. The Duke was not in office during the first restoration, and he employed himself in studying the new spirit that had arisen in his country, after so many domestic troubles; for he was sufficiently aware of the state of affairs to comprehend that events exercise an irresistible power in the modification of the character, and that when a person is desirous of bringing a revolution to a close, it is necessary to make incessant concessions to men and circumstances, and submit to unavoidable acts of necessity: these, no doubt, are painful duties, but are we not all called to wear the crown of thorns?

Totally unconnected with the negotiations of 1814, which were entirely in the hands of Prince Talleyrand, the Duc de Richelieu may be said to have spent the first restoration in renewing his acquaintance with his[232] country. He had quitted it a young man, and since then what marvellous events, what a new existence, had taken place! Property had been invaded, the homes of his forefathers pillaged! The domestic hearth no longer existed—even the tombs were violated and the bones of the dead were cast out; and this in the midst of a revolutionary society, which attached guilt even to the tears of the victims! The events of the 20th of March were caused by a fatal reaction in the minds of the soldiery, and a democratic hatred against the unfortunate nobility of France; and the Duc de Richelieu accompanied the ancient banner of his country into voluntary exile.

On his return for the second time, Louis XVIII. intrusted Talleyrand with the formation of a ministry based upon the English system; nevertheless, the chief of the cabinet was well aware that Russia must necessarily exercise very considerable influence over the negotiations relating to France, and he proposed M. de Richelieu as minister of the king's household, with the idea this choice would be agreeable to the Emperor Alexander: the appointment, however, was not accepted, for the Duke had an extreme repugnance to be seated beside the regicide Fouché; besides which, he was well aware that Alexander was displeased at the aspect of a ministry so entirely devoted to England, and which had been formed under the ascendancy of the Duke of Wellington. I have already mentioned the causes that broke up Talleyrand's ministry; after its dissolution, Louis XVIII. considered that the Russian influence would alone be capable of procuring for us some alleviation of the heavy burdens imposed by the invasion, for the Czar was the only party whose interest was not concerned in the affair; and it is necessary to read the diplomatic correspondence of Lord[233] Castlereagh and the German diplomatists to judge how overwhelming were the conditions imposed by the Allies. Their crushing demands, their deplorable ultimatum, had been published; the negotiations did not advance, while, at the same time, the disastrous condition of the country was aggravated by the presence of a million of foreigners. It was in order to obtain the powerful support of the Emperor of Russia that the king appointed the Duc de Richelieu minister for foreign affairs, and president of the council; thus assigning him a double and most difficult office.

Still nobody was better fitted than the Duke to hasten the conclusion of the treaty; nobody had so much reason to hope he might succeed in abating its severity. The Czar felt the utmost confidence in the noble governor of Odessa, and he was not ignorant that France had but little to hope for in point of support from her neighbours, who had been too long irritated by the weight of her power. Russia alone had nothing to claim from her, and she was furthermore inclined to lend her assistance, as to a faithful ally in the south of Europe. The Duke was well convinced of all these circumstances, and he took care to represent to the Czar, that all the importance lost by France would be so much added to the strength and power of her rivals, and would increase the superiority of Austria and Prussia. Alexander's inclinations were favourable to our country, and by drawing out these kindly feelings the Duke was enabled to fulfil the immense task that had been imposed upon him. Let us take a retrospect of the afflicting state of our invaded land in the year 1815. 700,000 soldiers occupied the country, the people of Germany were in a state of extreme irritation, and the remains of the seditious and disorganised army on the other side of the Loire had been disbanded with great difficulty; add to which, the treasury was exhausted,[234] and the course of the contributions interrupted by a long abuse of power. Surely it required a mind of no common energy to grapple with a situation so fraught with difficulty and disaster! In quiet times diplomacy is a work of skill and address, a polished interchange of political generalities, and some plans proposed for future accomplishment; but at this time, when we must recollect that Paris was in the hands of an imperious and vindictive enemy, what could we expect from the magnanimity of conquerors so long humbled and trampled upon by French domination? Under these fearful auspices the course of the negotiation was intrusted to the Duc de Richelieu, just at the decisive moment when, after a most stormy debate, the plenipotentiaries had come to an agreement concerning the sacrifices they were determined to exact from France. The most ruinous projects were maintained by England, Austria, and Prussia, their demands being comprehended between four points, viz. the cession of a territory, including the posts of Condé, Philippeville, Givet, Marienburg, Charlemont, Sarrelouis, and Landau, and the forts of Joux and Ecluse; the demolition of the fortifications of Hunningen; the payment of an indemnity of 800 millions; and the occupation of the frontiers by an army of 150,000 men, kept up at the expense of France for seven years. England insisted particularly that the chain of fortresses on the northern frontier should be so closely curbed, that Dunkirk should be the last in the possession of the French. The country was to be restored to the limits it occupied in the days of Henry IV., and a party, dating its birth from the national excitement which roused Germany against Napoleon, considered it undoubted that Alsace and Lorraine were to be reunited to the Germanic confederation. The map which represented France deprived of these fine provinces had already been designed by[235] the German geographers, and it has since been preserved as a glorious trophy in the Richelieu family.

Deeply affected by these resolutions, the minister drew up a memorial addressed to the Emperor Alexander, and expressed with the conscientious energy of an honest man. "France," said he, "in regaining her sovereigns, ought also to recover the territory they governed, otherwise the restoration would be incomplete." The minister depicted, with the fervour inspired by deep conviction, the despair of a great people, and the prospective consequences to be feared from it; for, at the first opportunity, France would again fly to arms. This remonstrance made a great impression upon Alexander, and though it was not possible to induce the allied powers to agree to the general idea contained in it, at least the Duke succeeded in obtaining that the important posts of Condé, Givet, and Charlemont, and the forts of Joux and Ecluse, should not be included in the territorial cessions. The pecuniary indemnity also was diminished by 100 millions of francs, and it was determined the military occupation should not exceed five years, and might possibly terminate at the end of three. The French minister signed the memorable treaty on the 20th of November, 1815, and it bears honourable witness to the sadness that oppressed his heart.[44] He had succeeded in obtaining great and noble advantages for his country, but he bore the name of Richelieu, and was the great-nephew of the celebrated cardinal who had so greatly augmented the monarchy, and he could not, without pain and grief, see the smallest particle of its grandeur torn away. The speech he made five days afterwards bears the stamp of patriotic sorrow and dignified resignation, and it was impossible, while listening[236] to it, not to feel that the minister had yielded solely because the conquerors were inexorable, rendering the measure of imperious necessity.

The cares incident to so important a negotiation had not led the Duke to neglect the internal administration of the country; and while the chambers sanctioned the extraordinary powers required by the government to repress the old and turbulent spirit of Liberalism, the ministry was occupied in taking just and solemn measures against those who, by favouring the return of Buonaparte, had led to the misfortunes of their country, and authorised these terrible reprisals. The fatal trial of Marshal Ney was the first that took place; and now that political ideas are clearer, and we are no longer carried away by declamation, the motives of the great debate that ensued are easily explained. The marshal was summoned before a council of war, by an ordonnance signed under the ministry of Fouché and Talleyrand; and this council having declared itself incompetent, the marshal ought to have been tried by the House of Peers, this being the natural order of jurisdiction. The Duc de Richelieu, on the 11th of November, 1815, carried to the chamber the royal ordonnance, which constituted it a court of justice, and, with his heart still full of the sad sacrifices that had been exacted from his country, he expressed himself with warmth and firmness against the authors of the revolution of the Hundred Days; for was it not the actions of those people that had brought a million of foreigners into our land? After the condemnation of the marshal, the Duke, desirous of calming the unruly passions that raged in the country, presented a bill for a general amnesty to the two chambers, in which there were no exceptions, except the names contained in a list drawn up by Fouché. During seasons of agitation, parties always go beyond[237] the plans proposed by governments, and upon this project the chamber of 1815 established its system of categories; and the regicides were banished the kingdom, contrary to the personal opinion of Louis XVIII. In the course of the discussion it was proposed to confiscate the property of condemned and banished persons, but Richelieu rejected the measure, saying that "confiscations rendered the evils of war irreparable." And how much generosity was exhibited in this conduct, when we consider that the Duke had himself been deprived, by the most implacable confiscations, of all the property of his family!

The finest portion of his life begins from this period. The great object he had proposed to himself was the deliverance of invaded France, overwhelmed by foreign powers; and, at the same time, the situation of the country gave cause for the most serious uneasiness. It was now necessary to levy an army to act as a weight in the European balance of power, and also to fulfil the hard conditions imposed by the treaty of 1815; while, to remove the fears entertained by the different cabinets, the Duke gave them to understand that the divisions arising in the chambers were merely the natural result of the representative system. One ought to remember the miserable years of 1816 and 1817; the dearness of grain, the scarcity, and the revolts in various provinces, the occupations of the strong posts in France by 150,000 bayonets, and a military contribution of 15 millions a month. In the midst of all these disasters the Duke suggested the diminution of the foreign army, thus commencing a negotiation which led to much greater results; and, on the 11th of February, 1817, he came to announce to the chambers that 30,000 men were about to repass the frontier, and that the expense of the army of occupation would be[238] diminished by 30 millions of francs. This relief was owing to the reparative system he had pursued, and to the efforts of France, so fruitful in resources.

We, perhaps, hardly meet, in the whole course of history, with two years more difficult to get over than from 1815 to 1817. An armed invasion, famine, vehemence of parties, factions up in arms; and withal, extreme constraint in the administration, both as a whole and in detail, and a country whose ancient frontiers must be by all means preserved.

The army of occupation having been diminished, it became indispensable to have recourse to forced levies, to secure the safety and the dignity of the country; and a law for that purpose was proposed and accepted at the opening of the session of 1817, as a complete military system: the essentials of this law are still in force.

At this period commenced the intimacy between the Duc de Richelieu and MM. Mounier and De Rayneval, two men of great ability, and who remained faithful to his memory. And let me be permitted to offer a last tribute to both these distinguished persons, then in the flower of their age, and now consigned to the tomb; for men of strong feelings are soon worn out by public life. M. Gérard de Rayneval belonged to an ancient diplomatic family, whose employment in the foreign office dated from the ministry of M. de Vergennes, and the treaty with the Low Countries. M. Mounier was endowed with a lively and penetrating mind, and possessed immense erudition; he, like M. de Barante, had, in early youth, been thrown into the administration of the Empire, and had filled the situation of secretary to the cabinet; and the Duke conceived a friendship for both these men equal to the confidence he deservedly reposed in them. He had a great regard for honour and probity, and where could it be more fully met with[239] than in people, whose characters remained pure and free from blemish, nay, who retained an honourable poverty, in the midst of the liquidation of foreign debts, amounting to 1700 millions of francs?

When the peace of 1814 was signed, the governments had declared their reciprocal debts at an end; but while they renounced their own claims upon the treasury, they made a reservation in favour of those of private individuals, which had been so violently attacked by the wars of the Revolution and of the Empire. When Europe dictated the implacable treaty of November, 1815, claims poured in on every side; it was stipulated that payment should be effected by inscriptions in the great book of the public debt of France, and 9 millions a-year were at first set aside for that purpose; the time, however, for presenting claims was not to expire until the 28th of February, 1817; and—will it be believed?—the sum total amounted to 1600 millions![45] a sum of almost fabulous magnitude, which surpassed the value of the two budgets of France. It was enough to drive one to despair, especially as each person demanded payment in full. What was to be done under circumstances of so much difficulty? Russia was so situated as naturally to assume the character of a mediator, for she had but few claims; and the Emperor Alexander, convinced that, unless the negotiation were carried on by an arbiter common to all parties, it would fall to the ground before the diversity of views and opinions, proposed, as I have before stated, to intrust it to the Duke of Wellington, making, at the same time, a sort of appeal to his generosity.

The mediator, under the guidance of M. Mounier, and after unheard-of retrenchments, fixed the sum destined[240] for the payment of the debts of France to individuals at 16 millions and 40,000 francs. People are too apt to forget in the present times the extreme difficulties encountered by the public credit of the restoration, during the period of our misfortunes. The Duc de Richelieu very soon came to the conclusion, that a system of well-conducted loans offered the only possible means of fulfilling the obligations imposed by the treaty. During the sway of Napoleon, the credit of the government had been utterly null; confidence had been destroyed by too many violations of the public faith, and too many arbitrary actions, for the Revolution and the Empire were merely the abuse of power; and the events of 1814 and 1815 having compelled the government to increase the public debt to 126 millions, would it be possible to obtain an additional loan? No French house had presented itself possessed of sufficient capital to act upon so vast a scale; their fear of the risk was too great. But the Duke considered there would be an advantage in foreign loans, in raising a competition among all the capitals of Europe, and effecting our deliverance by a mere change of location. The necessary pecuniary resources were found in the opulent firm of Hope and Baring; and, to prepare the departure of the foreign troops, the minister succeeded in obtaining that the sovereigns who signed the treaty of 1815 should assemble at Aix-la-Chapelle, to determine whether the occupation should terminate at the end of three years, or whether it should be prolonged to five, according to the alternative left by the treaty.

This proposal having been accepted, the congress assembled on the 20th of September 1818. All the obstacles had been already overcome by the pacific views of Russia, which had acted favourably upon the scruples entertained by Prussia and England; and on the 2d of[241] October the evacuation of the French provinces was decided upon, and the last traces of the invasion disappeared; besides which the Duc de Richelieu obtained a reduction of part of the indemnity still unpaid. Who does not recollect the proud and natural delight of the French minister on his return? France was no longer a country in the occupation of Europe, but a government admitted into the first rank among nations, with its greatness, its liberty, and its independence. Sufficient justice is seldom rendered to statesmen who restore to a country its dignity and consideration: vulgar history only extols those that destroy.

Another crisis, however, was in preparation. The value of the public securities, owing to excessive speculations, had risen to an immoderate height, which was followed, in 1818, by an equally rapid fall, and the Allies might have destroyed the public credit by rejecting the rentes that had been assigned in payment of the subsidies; but the word of the Duc de Richelieu was sufficient to obtain a considerable extension of the time fixed for the payments to be made to the allied powers: and as great embarrassments still prevailed on the Exchange, he still farther obtained, that 100 millions which were to have been discharged by inscriptions of rentes, and which were included in the payments stipulated by the Allies, should be withdrawn, and in their stead bons on the treasury should be substituted, to become due in eighteen months.

Such was the end attained by the negotiations of the Duc de Richelieu with foreign powers; the great object of his life was fulfilled, for in what a state of misery was France when he assumed the reins of government! 700,000 foreigners, contributions of all kinds, the country placed at the ban of Europe! Now to that country he had restored liberty, he had reorganised her army, had[242] established her public credit, and reconciled France with the world. Before this great result was achieved, the Duke had repeatedly declared to his friends that, as soon as the personal credit he enjoyed with foreign powers was no longer necessary, he should quit the situation he had been compelled to accept, and retire into private life, and accordingly he sent in his resignation; but it was not accepted, for the old liberal spirit had arisen to struggle for victory. Many men possessed of no ability, except for public speaking, had striven to secure the elections, and the result of the proceedings of several of the electoral colleges had caused great anxiety to the friends of government. M. de Richelieu was therefore compelled to remain at the head of affairs; and he returned to Paris for the purpose of concerting the measures rendered necessary by the actual circumstances.

The cabinet were agreed upon the necessity of opposing a barrier to democratic opinions and principles; nevertheless, serious dissensions arose when the electoral system came to be debated; and the Duke, much annoyed by the difference of opinion that existed in the council between himself, M. Decaze, and Marshal Gouvion St. Cyr, returned to his former wish of retiring from office. His example was followed by the rest of the ministers, who gave in their resignation in a simultaneous manner that was very remarkable. It is a melancholy truth, that the statesman who had so powerfully contributed to deliver the territory from foreign occupation, was compelled to retire before the petty intrigues suggested by narrow policy and the Chamber of Deputies. The Duke's opinion of the electoral system was different from that entertained by the partizans of the old liberal school, and he resigned his portfolio to General Dessole.


In spite of all the great affairs in which M. de Richelieu had been engaged, he was in a condition of honourable poverty, and the king conferred upon the retired minister the appointment of Grand Huntsman, in the same manner as he had conferred the title of Grand Chamberlain upon M. de Talleyrand, after his services in 1815. The chambers, however, were conscious that a recompense was due from the country to the able negotiator of Aix-la-Chapelle, and M. de Lally made a proposal that the king should be requested to confer a national reward upon the Duc de Richelieu. The same suggestion was made in the upper chamber, at the very moment when a letter from the Duke declared to the president of the deputies, that he should be proud of receiving a mark of the king's favour, given with the concurrence of the chambers; but that as it was proposed to award him a national recompense at the expense of the nation, he could not consent to see any thing added for his sake to the burdens under which the country was already groaning. Every body was well aware that the Duke possessed no fortune, and that his sole income was derived from his office of grand huntsman; a good deal of littleness, however, was exhibited in the Chamber of Deputies when it was proposed to assign a majorat of 50,000 francs to the heir of the name of Richelieu, as a recompense to the minister who had obtained the liberation of the territory. Are public bodies only capable of great actions when a profit arises from them to the passions by which they are actuated? The proposed majorat was afterwards changed into an annuity; and, out of respect to the king's wishes, the Duke did not refuse this acknowledgement of his services, but he devoted the entire income derived from it to the foundation of a religious charity in the city of Bourdeaux. Such was the personal generosity of this[244] great man, who was desirous of retiring entirely to private life.

Alas! his political career was not yet concluded! The Decaze ministry, on every side inundated by old liberal opinions, was at its last gasp. Advantage was taken of the law of elections against the government, one concession led to another, and the Duke was summoned to the council extraordinary, presided over by the king in person, to advise upon the measures to be pursued in this emergency. The crime of Louvel had filled Paris with grief and horror, and M. Decaze, abandoned by the côté gauche of the chamber, who defended the law of February 5th, 1817, rejected by the royalists, who reproached him with not having agreed to the propositions of the Marquis Barthélemy, at last sent in his resignation; and at this difficult juncture, the king again placed the Duc de Richelieu at the head of affairs. The most urgent entreaties were required to induce him to accept the appointment, for the situation was melancholy, and the country full of anxiety, while the irritation of parties had reached its highest pitch. The preceding administration had proposed an electoral system, which was distasteful to all parties in the chamber; it had demanded laws arming the government with extraordinary powers; no majority was yet formed, and the ministry were doubtful whether these laws would be capable of overcoming the formidable opposition they would have to encounter; the fears of Europe also had been aroused, and it was necessary to appease them. At length, every thing, however, was provided for, and, at the end of a long and painful discussion, exceptional laws were voted.

But then, who was able to calm the public mind? and what hand was sufficiently powerful to arrest the evil tendency of society? A bias had been given to[245] education in France ever since the revolution of 1789; people were closely surrounded by mischievous opinions and frightful systems; parties considered themselves sufficiently powerful to conspire openly, and intimidate the government by tumultuous meetings. Seditious assemblies took place with a view to political catastrophes, and the slightest hesitation might have given rise to the most dreadful calamities. The command of Paris was now committed to Marshal Macdonald, by the ministers' council, formidable military preparations were made, and proofs were obtained of a conspiracy, involving some names since exalted by another revolution. During the ten days that this state of anxiety and trouble prevailed, they had only to regret the lives of two of the disturbers of the public peace; and now that the ideas concerning government are become more advanced, people will be surprised at the declamations of those who held liberal opinions, against measures which were indispensable for the safety of the country. Has not every government a right to defend itself, and is it not bound to do so?

Europe now began to assume an alarming aspect. The revolt of the Spanish army at the island of Léon found an echo in a similar movement among the Neapolitan troops. Portugal quickly followed their example; and the seditious, imagining the French army well inclined to imitate the conduct of their neighbours, directed all their efforts towards this end. After having broken all the bonds of civil order, the revolution endeavoured to overturn the principle of duty and obedience among the soldiery. In most of the corps, however, the officers continued faithful to their engagements; a few only were unable to resist the torrent, and a conspiracy was formed in several of the regiments at[246] Paris, extending in its ramifications to various military stations, and it was determined that the rising should take place in the barracks on the 20th of August, 1820. On the proposal of M. Mounier, then director-general of the police, the ministers' council determined upon arresting the conspirators before they had unfurled a standard and actually proclaimed the insurrection. The heads of this military conspiracy are well known at present, and some of them have even been rewarded; but, as is always the case, the plot was denied by the parties engaged in it. The Chamber of Peers behaved with much indulgence, as able and experienced authorities usually do when severity is not indispensably necessary; and the government preferred pardoning many offences, and consigning much to oblivion, to being compelled to authorise the shedding of blood.

The elections of 1820, which had taken place when a favourable impression had been raised by the birth of the Duc de Bourdeaux, gave a powerful and compact côté droit to the chamber, and MM. de Villèle and Corbière, who had assumed the position of its chiefs, ought naturally to have supported the Duc de Richelieu; but, at the very commencement of the session, clouds appeared on the horizon. The côté droit of the chambers had hitherto fought by the side of the ministers, and triumphed with them, and consequently they claimed a direct participation in the administration. Negotiations were entered into with them; the Duke would not consent that any of the men who had hitherto governed with him, and preserved the kingdom in its hour of peril, should be excluded from the council; however, two only of the principal deputies on the côté droit, MM. de Villèle and Corbière, were appointed members of the cabinet, with the title of ministerial secretaries of[247] state.[46] M. Lainé, a man with whose honest and upright character the Duke had been particularly struck, was also a member of this administration.

The political principle of this revised ministry was the agreement of the centre of the côté droit, and the droite itself, in one common vote; but the session under this management was long and troublesome, and a tedious and stormy debate took place before the Duke was able to decide upon the execution of his idea of an extended system of canal navigation, like that at present in force. He drew up a plan, inviting men possessed of large capital to take a part in these great works; for at that time the principal part of the capital in the kingdom, was invested in the funds, and enterprises tending to the benefit of industry and the improvement of the country were not popular: many difficulties were encountered, but they were all overcome by means of firmness and determination.

Order was now established in all the departments of government; the restraints formerly imposed upon the action of the municipal authorities, by a system of excessive centralisation, were removed; and in the financial department the most unlimited competition was invited, for the first time, in the sale of stock, and the value of public securities reached its highest pitch. In his foreign policy, the Duke never ceased for a moment to support the idea of the Russian alliance, less from former recollections, and his affection for the Emperor Alexander, than upon the principle constantly expressed in all his correspondence, that the Russian alliance was advantageous to France because it was perfectly disinterested. In fact, what can Russia demand of us? On what point can we clash? Commerce with[248] her can never be otherwise than an equal exchange; the productions of industry in her country are not of equal value with ours; she requires our wines, our fashions, our manufactures, and we, in exchange, require her timber, her copper, and her iron. Her fleets cannot assume any dominion over us, her frontiers do not reach us in any direction, and we are benefited by her influence; whilst, on the other hand, the designs and interests of France are opposed by the English alliance in all questions of importance. M. de Richelieu's system was resumed by M. de la Ferronays in 1828.

During the Duke's second ministry the great European powers met at Laybach, to agree upon a vast repressive system to be pursued against the insurrection rising in arms around. The Richelieu cabinet was resolved upon a firm resistance against all the tumults and disorders that were disturbing the peace of Europe. Agitation had also arisen in the East, and the Greeks had raised the standard of the cross. But Russia, which under Catherine had supported the Hellenic emancipation, was now too fully occupied with her own affairs to be able to follow up the system she had then commenced. France, therefore, determined upon sending a naval force into the Grecian seas for the protection of commerce, and, while observing a generous neutrality, assistance was still afforded to all who implored it from the French flag. But now the Richelieu cabinet, entirely occupied with its foreign relations, was threatened with danger to itself. Its very feeble parliamentary combination rested upon a false basis in the chamber. The ministry only existed by the will of the côté droit; and that party with its chiefs, MM. de Villèle and Corbière, would not fail, sooner or later, to assume the direction of affairs, because they possessed the majority.[249] The droite and the gauche were both distinct from the cabinet, and the former was evidently impatient to seize the reins of government.

These two fractions of the chamber were desirous of concluding with a coup d'éclat; and the reply to the speech from the throne in 1821 became the arena for the great political struggle. The commission under the direction of the côté droit insisted that in the plan of the address presented to the chamber these words should be inserted: "We congratulate you, sire, upon your friendly relations with foreign powers, feeling a just confidence that so valuable a peace has not been purchased by sacrifices incompatible with the honour of the nation and the dignity of the crown." So offensive an expression was an open rupture with the cabinet. M. de Richelieu declared such an insinuation was an insult to the crown, and the ministers tendered their resignation. The chamber persisted, and voted the address, which was, in fact, a declaration that they did not wish the ministry to stand: the cabinet, therefore, retired in a mass, and were succeeded by MM. de Montmorency and de Villèle.

And here let us pause, and observe to what trials men are exposed who devote themselves entirely to the defence of the interests of their country, without intrigue or passion, simply from the feeling for all that is right and noble! No character can bear a comparison with that of the Duc de Richelieu; no services equal those he rendered to his country; and, behold! he was overturned both by the côté droit, and the gauche of the Chamber of Deputies. The conduct of the gauche was this: the Duke took charge of France at the time of the foreign invasion; the Buonapartists and the remains of the Jacobin faction, having a second time endangered[250] the country by their madness of the hundred days; the enemy was in Paris—it occupied France; the influence of the Duke succeeded in preserving the country, and diminishing the sacrifices exacted from it; the foreign troops were withdrawn, and, as a recompense, the spirit of liberalism overturned the Duke.

Would you also know the conduct of the ungrateful monarchical party? A great crisis had occurred for the crown; the royalists were giving way, and the power was about to be wrested from their hands by the côté gauche. The restoration was completely compromised, when the Duke again sacrificed himself: holding his popularity cheap, he augmented and strengthened the royalist party, and this was the summary of the instructions concerning the elections, directed by M. Mounier: "Before every thing, the friends of royalty;" and then the ultras, masters by this means of the majority, had nothing so much at heart as the dismissal of the Duc de Richelieu, in order to give themselves up to their mad projects.

This moment was the conclusion of the Duke's political life; his feelings had been severely tried by the injustice of parties. It soon became apparent that his health was rapidly declining, and in a journey to the Château of Courteille, where the Duchess was living, he was taken ill, suddenly became insensible, and died at Paris, on the night of the 16th of May, 1822. He was only fifty-five years of age; his carriage was erect, and his features simple and regular, as they appear in the fine portrait of Lawrence of which I have spoken. All parties concur in awarding the highest praise to the noble qualities of the Duc de Richelieu. He was not a man of extraordinary genius, but of a thoroughly honest and upright character; and there are times, when no talent possessed[251] by a statesman is of so much avail as honesty. I admire the infinite superiority of a man capable of allowing virtue and honour their full weight in the political balance, and I take especial pleasure in rendering this tribute to the Duc de Richelieu, because I have never known so fine a character combined with so noble a name.



It is natural that States which feel an incessant desire of increasing, should not retain the inflexible principles of upright and generous policy in their diplomatic system. Every time they feel stifled, they strive for more space and the means of more extended respiration; and such has constantly been the condition of the Prussian monarchy, from the time of its foundation, which may be said to have taken place unexpectedly, at the beginning of the eighteenth century. At this period the Duchy became a Kingdom, and no sooner was the kingdom established than it wanted to become great; for more room is required to unfold the sweeping train of a King, than to wear the robes merely of a Duke or a Margrave.

This necessity for augmentation created a national law peculiar to Prussia; and looking at nothing but the necessities of her position, she seized every thing she could lay her hands upon. Frederic II. carried on this system of conquest, for his wars were regulated by no principle of the law of nations, and he appeared to have but one object in view, which was, to attack at one time Poland, and at another Silesia, for the purpose of conquering[253] cities and provinces. On this account he availed himself of all means of distinction, striving for the celebrity of a writer and the pretension of a poet; even making the most of the puerile vanity of the philosophical party of the eighteenth century. When we examine into the actual constitution of Prussia, as well as into that she formerly possessed, we shall observe that her organisation has always been such as to render conquest imperatively necessary; even at present is not the kingdom like a lean giant, armed at all points, whose head is at Königsberg and his feet dipped in the Rhine, but whose middle is wanting? and the country that is required to complete the picture, is it not Saxony?

It is, then, as the personification of the Prussian political system, that I am about to write the life of Baron, afterwards Prince Hardenberg, the most remarkable statesman that has been at the head of affairs in the monarchy of Frederic. Charles-Augustus, baron Hardenberg, was born in October 1750, at Hanover, that principality wedged into the midst of Germany, which recalls to the recollection the origin of the kings of England. Hanover preserves its German character under a separate administration, although it belongs to the patrimonial inheritance of the princes called to wear the English crown; and this separation was imperatively demanded by the English, a people so tenacious of their liberty, in order to avoid the chance of fatal continental wars, to defend the patrimony of their sovereign—a contingency their constitution will not permit.

Baron Hardenberg was descended from an ancient family, carried back by the old heraldic traditions as far as the eleventh century, at the time of the Emperors of the house of Suabia; he was himself the son of a marshal of the empire, and went to the military university of Brunswick with the intention of following his father's[254] profession. The bent of his inclinations, however, appeared to be different, and while he applied his mind to the severest studies, he felt a strong vocation for a diplomatic life, and his curiosity led him always to endeavour to discover by what springs the cabinets recorded in history were actuated. He afterwards went to travel, gaining knowledge while visiting the different parts of Europe, and arrived in London at the time when Mr. Pitt was at the head of affairs, and a most violent and active opposition surrounded the ministry. As Hanover, as I have before mentioned, forms part of the patrimonial inheritance of the reigning family, Baron Hardenberg, though not an English subject, was naturally desirous of acquiring an extensive knowledge of the laws and customs which form a national law peculiar to England, and with which every British subject ought to be acquainted. But England was the scene of his greatest domestic infelicity; for having in early youth married the most beautiful woman in Germany, Mademoiselle de Randlaw, he introduced her into the brilliant society and dissipation of London, and she was received with an almost chivalric enthusiasm in the highest circles.

A Prince, from whom Richardson would have drawn his character of Lovelace, the Prince of Wales, heir to the throne of England, remarkable for his personal beauty, magnificent in his equipages, and accomplished in all manly exercises, fell desperately in love with Baroness Hardenberg; and so much publicity attached to his admiration, that a separation became inevitable; the Baron therefore quitted England and returned to Germany. He already gave evidence of three qualities denoting great ability; the subtlety of intellect necessary in all negotiations of any importance; a habit of conversation, alternately discreet and unguarded, cold or[255] vehement, according to circumstances; and a most profound knowledge of European national law—talents which naturally fitted him for a high diplomatic situation: nevertheless, young Hardenberg gave himself up entirely to the details of the administration of the country—a circumstance in which he resembled William Pitt, who was at the same time a first-rate politician and attentive to the smallest minutiæ regarding war and finance. His perfect acquaintance with the laws of Germany was a great assistance to him, when he was summoned to the supreme direction of the affairs of Prussia.

Another quality possessed by Hardenberg, was his strong and decided taste for literature; and his intimate friendship with Goëthe, who exercised such absolute dominion over the intellects of his time, arose from this source. This was not one of the relations of protector and protégé; for in Germany, where matters of genius and study are viewed in a serious light, a man of literary celebrity is placed almost in a superior rank, and he is not only on a footing of equality with statesmen, but sometimes even in a position of master and scholar. What a brilliant sceptre was that extended by Goëthe over Germany! The poet who had shewn such incomparable skill in his delineation of the feudal ages, appeared to blend in his escutcheon of glory all the ancient colours of the German nobility. This threefold aptitude of Baron Hardenberg for literature, politics, and administration, produced great and uncommon results: first, an expansion of mind arising from the habit of treating important affairs; then, a close application to detail, arising from his employment in the executive administration; and, finally, a clear, exact, and benevolent mind, the consequence of the literary intercourse he had pursued with enthusiasm during his youth.


We must recollect what was at that time the spirit that prevailed in Prussia, and also the bent of its government. In addition to her never-failing desire of conquest, there is always in that country a certain inclination for serious study, and a wish for the advancement of ideas; and though no free debate be permitted on matters connected with the government, the discussion of philosophical and rational questions is entirely unshackled; religious opinions also are independent of any controlling theory, the Protestant spirit having introduced a sort of egotism into the schools, from which it results that every opinion, even though it be mischievous, is admitted and examined without regard to the chivalrous feelings that attach a people to a dynasty, or a generation to the articles of their faith.

It was in this school the statesmen of Germany were formed, more especially Baron Hardenberg. His devotion to the study of German law had given him a precise and accurate manner of examining facts, without being carried away by prejudice or enthusiasm; and when the French revolution burst forth, Prussia, which was foremost to join the coalition, saw a new class of statesmen arise to oppose the chivalrous spirit of the nobility, and place the check of cool reason upon the ardour of the old families. Baron Hardenberg did not completely concur in the opinions of M. Haugwitz, of the secretary M. Lombard, and the Countess Lichtenau, who were even well inclined towards the revolutionary powers that then reigned in France; he had less inclination than Count Goltz towards French ideas, but being completely a Prussian in his interests and opinions, he considered that the object of his cabinet could not possibly be to act as a knight-errant in defence of certain political opinions, but rather to endeavour to acquire a great influence in Germany, at the expense of Austria,[257] and also a territorial addition in Poland; and as Prussia was not immediately threatened by the principles and ideas of the French revolution, he considered it very important to reap all possible advantage from the new situation of events.

This rendered him the most active partisan of the treaty of Basle, though he was not at first engaged in it by name; for that very difficult negotiation was originally undertaken by Count Goltz with M. Barthélemy; but after the death of the plenipotentiary it was concluded by Baron Hardenberg; and this was the first commencement of his being really actively employed in public affairs. His manners were singularly pleasing to the men of the revolution, especially to Merlin de Douai, who thought them like those of a marquis of the old school, with intelligence, ease, and a method of action free from prepossession or prejudice, even with regard to democratic opinions. The committee of public safety treated him almost in royal style, by sending him a fine service of Sèvres china, as at the conclusion of treaties under the old monarchy, when an interchange of diplomatic presents used to take place among plenipotentiaries.

In this treaty, as in the negotiation of Rahstadt, Baron Hardenberg was less actuated by French principles than by the firm conviction that the treaty of Basle tended to realizing the two most constant and deeply-rooted feelings of his mind: viz. the Prussian influence over Germany, and the aggrandisement of his cabinet. He promoted the system of German neutrality, which influenced the interests of the country, and to a certain degree excited Germany against Austria; and for this purpose he made use of France, considering it of little consequence whether it was a monarchy or a republic: he had a particular object in view; but he was guilty of a mistake on[258] that point. There were two questions to be particularly considered in the French revolution: if it had confined itself to measures that merely regarded its own internal condition, and had disseminated nothing, neither ideas nor interests, the selfish policy of Prussia might have been successful; but neither the committee of the convention nor the directory had any respect for fixed principles. Baron Hardenberg had established neutrality in part of Germany; how was it observed when the republican army required again to pass the Rhine? Did it trouble itself concerning the principles laid down by the Prussian minister, and the territorial line of the neutrality? When entering into a treaty with a government, the first necessary inquiry is, whether it will respect the general principles of the law of nations. Prussia, however, had assumed too egotistical a position; indeed she carried her system to such a pitch, that the minister interfered with the levy of contingents, lest they should augment the Austrian influence. Many years elapsed before the ideas of this school were effaced; but Hardenberg's mind afterwards expanded, and he saw there were other circumstances to be attended to, besides the antiquated system of politics, which would keep up a rivalry between Prussia and Austria, at the time when a general social revolution had taken place.

After a long stay at Basle, during which time he was in habits of the greatest intimacy with the ministers of the French republic, Baron Hardenberg returned to Berlin, where the king conferred upon him the order of the Black Eagle of the first class, as a mark of his perfect concurrence in the politics of the treaty just concluded. The direction of foreign affairs was still, however, in the hands of Count Haugwitz, a friend of Countess Lichtenau, and the secretary Lombard, and Baron Hardenberg being a person of too much importance to occupy a situation[259] subordinate to Count Haugwitz, the administration of the principalities of Bayreuth and Anspach was again conferred upon him. This was a recreation to the diplomatist, who was glad to seek repose from political theories in the executive government of a principality, which he may be said to have added to Prussia. In Germany statesmen like to be men of business, and even in retirement their life is one of labour and study.

Baron Hardenberg took no part in active business during the life of Frederic William II.; his private opinions had been a little modified, and he was not quite so decided in his approval of the convention of Basle, since he had had occasion to see the mischievous and arbitrary application made by the republicans of its principles in Germany. Nothing had been awarded to Prussia by the treaty of Rahstadt, in spite of the promises of real indemnities, as well as of absolute liberty, which had been made to her at Basle; he, therefore, had no connexion with the negotiations carried on by M. Caillard, when an endeavour was made to place Prussia in a new attitude, and produce a great degree of intimacy between the republic and Frederic William II. Baron Hardenberg does not appear to have exercised any influence until the accession of the young prince Frederic William, when, being attached to the young queen, Louisa of Prussia, by the most respectful and chivalrous devotion, he adopted her ideas and opinions, as indeed did all those who were within the circle of her almost magical influence. What a grand though melancholy existence was that of Louisa Wilhelmina, queen of Prussia, daughter of the Duke of Mecklenburg Strelitz and of Caroline of Hesse Darmstadt! Filled with the enthusiastic and visionary feelings natural to her country, she exercised, at the age of scarcely twenty years, the most holy, as well as the most absolute influence over[260] her husband, while the hopes of Germany appeared to centre upon her. She introduced a more noble and elevated feeling into the selfish system of politics hitherto adopted by Prussia; and being as it were queen of the students and of the universities, she was the origin and the hope of the secret societies, which gave so poetical a tinge to Germany during the latter years of Napoleon. Under her influence, Baron Hardenberg took charge of the ministry for foreign affairs, shortly after the commencement of the consulate. In the midst of the various coalitions of the period, Prussia had hitherto preserved a strict neutrality; after the 18th Brumaire, however, she shewed herself perfectly willing to agree to all required by the First Consul, and the insinuations made by Buonaparte to Louis XVIII., proposing to him to abdicate, were despatched from Berlin; nor was even the proper degree of dignity exhibited on this occasion, though it ought to increase, rather than diminish, where illustrious sufferers are concerned.

The Consul became Emperor; and with a view of still farther strengthening the bonds of union with Prussia, Napoleon appointed Marshal Duroc, his confidential friend, to represent him at Berlin. It was rather a difficult moment, as war was about again to resound in Europe, and the combined armies of Russia and Austria to take the field, rendering it a matter of very great importance to create a suitable post for Prussia; Baron Hardenberg was, therefore, summoned to the head of affairs, as the representative of a middle system then beginning to arise and develope itself under the influence of the Queen of Prussia. He was attached at the same time to English principles, and to the politics of France and Germany, and was under the necessity of instituting a close comparison among the various interests and influences presented to his view; he, however, detached[261] himself from the debased political system pursued by Count Haugwitz. His great fault on this occasion was his not perceiving that Buonaparte's deceit was equal to his genius, and that he only kept terms with Prussia now, to ensure him a greater facility in punishing her at a future period.

The first dissatisfaction entertained by the cabinet of Berlin against Buonaparte appeared in a despatch of Hardenberg's, on the violation of the Prussian territory, an extraordinary dereliction of the law of nations, which had given extreme offence to the court and to the people. "His majesty," said the Prussian minister, "does not know with which he has most cause to be astonished, the violence the French armies have chosen to commit in his territories, or the incomprehensible arguments by which it is pretended to justify them. His majesty, properly tenacious of the consideration due as much to his power as to his character, has read, with feelings he would in vain endeavour to conceal, the justificatory despatches that have been sent by the French legation to his cabinet. They rest upon the example of the former war and the parity of circumstances, as if the proceedings then permitted had not been founded upon exactly defined treaties, which ceased with the peace! as if the Emperor Napoleon had borne these treaties in mind when he took possession of Hanover, of a country which by these same treaties had been for many long years under the protection of Prussia! Ignorance of our intentions is made a pretext, as if our intentions were not, in this instance, proved by the actual fact; and as if the nature of the affair could be altered without any previous stipulation! His majesty had not given sufficient publicity with the Elector of Bavaria to circumstances it was unnecessary he should mention! And as if I had not myself, with the map in my hand, declared long[262] before, in my conferences with M. le Maréchal Duroc, and M. de Laforest, the impossibility of permitting any troops to march through the margraviate! The king considers himself, from this time forth, set free from all the engagements he has formed, and feels under the necessity of commanding his armies to assume the position necessary for the defence of the state." The Emperor Napoleon was greatly offended by this despatch, and the firm language in which it was couched; but he was then desirous of keeping on good terms with the cabinet of Berlin to prevent their joining the coalition.

By assuming a system of perfect neutrality, Prussia was likely to derive the advantage of being on friendly terms, even with the parties opposed to Napoleon; and there were English, Austrian, and Russian ministers at Berlin, with whom Baron Hardenberg was naturally in communication.

According to the principles and the precedents of the court of Berlin, Hanover, though a hereditary fief of the British crown, was, nevertheless, under the protection of the German neutrality; such, however, was not the theory of Napoleon, who was deeply irritated against England; and more than one violation of territory had already shewn that the powerful Emperor would not consider the respect due to the rights of neutral powers, if it were likely to prove any obstacle to his success.

Prussia was greatly displeased, and a decisive moment was at hand, for the Russian and Austrian armies were advancing against Napoleon. According to his usual custom, the impetuous military chieftain of France had ventured all risks, for he had boldness and fortune in addition to his genius; he entered Moravia, and, if Prussia had then declared herself, it would have been[263] all over with him, as with 150,000 men on his flank, his position would have been utterly lost; and to obtain this object the most pressing negotiations were going on at Berlin, England offering subsidies, Russia support, and Austria a larger share of territory, even in Poland. Hardenberg's opinion was to decide at once, but was his influence always predominant in the midst of so much corruption? Among those who sided with him was the noble-minded Queen, and the brave and generous Prince Louis of Prussia; but he had to contend with the personal opinion of Count Haugwitz and the Marquis Lucchesini, both strongly in favour of the French cabinet. The system of a supine neutrality, therefore, carried the day, and the utmost Hardenberg could obtain was permission to assure England that they would protect the independence of Hanover, so far as to allow a passage to the English troops, should they be attacked or pursued by Napoleon.

On this subject the Prussian minister wrote a letter to Lord Harrowby, in which rather a remarkable view was taken of the neutrality; a certain inclination towards the opinions and sentiments of the coalition appeared to filter through it, with a considerable degree of irritation with regard to the French cabinet, which had already failed to respect the Prussian neutrality.

Baron Hardenberg had been in hopes of obtaining a positive decision, which would have placed Prussia in the first rank among nations, for 150,000 men directed against the flank of Napoleon would have secured the victory to Europe, when intelligence was received of the wonders achieved at Austerlitz. Napoleon was a gambler on an immense scale! His eagle threw the dice of human destiny from his immense claws, and the chances had hitherto always been in his favour; but, besides this, did he not always quarrel with characters[264] inclined to temporise, and who delayed declaring themselves until victory had decided in favour of one of the parties? After the battle of Austerlitz was it a time to assume a threatening attitude, when Austria and Russia were going to treat with the Emperor of the French on a common footing?

Under these circumstances, then, the position of Baron Hardenberg became difficult, nay, intolerable, for was he not considered as the representative of the warlike party and the opponent of Napoleon? How could the minister of the heroic Queen and Prince Louis of Prussia remain at the head of the cabinet, when Prussia, prostrate before Napoleon, seemed almost to solicit pardon for having assumed, however slightly, an attitude of independence? At that time, Napoleon, who was incapable of forgiveness, knew well how to ruin a man by dictating articles for the Moniteur, pronouncing thus a sentence against statesmen whom he wished to get rid of. Buonaparte was an excellent pamphleteer, and, when he got into a passion, he gave vent in this manner to his ill-humour, against a king, a minister, or a general. M. Maret used to write from his dictation in short-hand, and send it afterwards to the official newspaper, according to his original profession of a journalist; he, also, possessed a certain knack for composition.

Upon this occasion Hardenberg was honoured by the capricious abuse of the Emperor, in consequence of a despatch full of impartiality which he had addressed to Lord Harrowby, concerning the neutrality of Hanover. A word from Buonaparte to the court of Berlin was sufficient to procure the dismissal of the minister, and, having retired from the cabinet, he the very same day repelled the attacks of the French emperor, who had accused him of not even being a Prussian. "I am proud," said he, "of the esteem and confidence of the[265] sovereign and people of Prussia; I am proud of the opinion of estimable foreigners, and it is with great satisfaction that I number some Frenchmen among them. I am not a Prussian by birth, it is true, but I will yield in patriotism to no native of that country; and I have obtained a right to assert this fact, both by my services, and by having transferred my patrimony, and become a proprietor in this country. Though I am not a soldier, I feel that I should not have proved unworthy, had fate summoned me to bear arms in defence of my sovereign and his rights, or the dignity, safety, and honour of the state."

There was a degree of asperity in these expressions as uttered by a man who had given up the direction of affairs, without the hope of resuming it. He resigned his portfolio to Count Haugwitz, under the influence of the Marquis Lucchesini and the secretary, M. Lombard, and then, encompassed by the attachment of the Prussian army, and the enthusiasm of the universities, he retired into the country, like a man to whom the present time is devoid of interest. Some very significant proceedings, however, were going on in Prussia; the government had adopted extremely moderate measures, and both the king and the cabinet were desirous of maintaining the conditions of the French alliance: but there was a movement among the people, an energetic expression of national feeling, which would not allow this condition of quiet and peace to be maintained in the state.

This double situation affords an explanation of the events, and many of the faults, of this period; the tergiversations of the cabinet, which appeared constantly to have an inclination towards public opinion, and then again, especially after the battle of Austerlitz, returned to their former dread of the Emperor. At length the king, pressed by the people, roused himself, and manifested[266] a chivalrous disposition in accordance with the spirit of the nation, and more especially of the universities; and it reached such a pitch, that, after the retirement of Hardenberg, the people flew to arms in a hasty and adventurous manner, and without sufficiently calculating the course they were to pursue. And who was to conduct this war? Count Haugwitz, already devoted to France, and the secretary Lombard, both creatures of Napoleon! One would have said treachery was already determined upon.

Nothing could surpass the campaign of Jena, no praise be too great for that admirable military movement directed by the Eagle of Austerlitz. But were these splendid victories due entirely to the brilliant and energetic courage of the imperial army? had not a series of faults been committed by their opponents? and were those who directed the cabinet of Berlin perfectly faithful and devoted to the interests of Prussia? After the disasters of Jena so many acts of secret treason came to light, that Hardenberg, under the influence of Queen Louisa and the Emperor Alexander, was again placed at the head of foreign affairs, for an inclination to resist the power of France had now sprung up. This new situation of the cabinets of Russia and Prussia requires some explanation, because it formed the basis of the intimate union, which at a later period led to the ruin of the French empire. The dissatisfaction before entertained by the cabinet of St. Petersburg against Prussia proceeded entirely from the position of indifferent neutrality assumed by the latter ever since the treaty of Basle; and all the endeavours made by England, Austria, and Russia to induce the cabinet of Berlin to break through this mischievous situation had met with a refusal, for neutrality appeared to be the fundamental principle of the Prussian political system. It was, therefore, satisfactory[267] to see Prussia willing to engage in hostilities, though at the eleventh hour, for her position by that means became clear and decided; and it was of little consequence if they had been unsuccessful in the campaign of Jena, provided the spirit of their government was in favour of war; if, in short, there was a degree of unity and vigour capable of supporting the coalesced cabinets.

Baron Hardenberg thus became the representative of the alliance between Russia and Prussia. Frederic William having been obliged to evacuate Berlin, had fallen back with the ruins of his army upon the Russian troops, and then commenced the campaign in the midst of wintry snows, the fiercely-contested and sanguinary battle of Prussisch-Eylau, where first paled the star of Napoleon! Friedland, however, saved the audacious eagle, as Austerlitz had preserved it two years before, and treaties were again had recourse to. Who can express the humiliating conditions dictated by the victor to Prussia? Who describe the cold sarcastic conduct of the fortunate soldier towards the heroic queen, the idol of the universities?

Baron Hardenberg, being again compelled to retire, resigned his portfolio to the new cabinet formed by Napoleon, from which every mind possessed of any degree of independence or elevation was excluded. Prussia became almost a department of France, traversed in every direction by military roads; the whole population of some districts was carried away by the generals of Buonaparte, with blows and violence; the universities were closed, and the provinces reduced to the last extremity; while such heavy military contributions were imposed, that they wrung from the peasant his last hard-earned crown, and even his plough and his oxen. People must not treat a country thus, when they are desirous of governing it; they should recollect that the superiority[268] of a power does not result from violence, but from the moral ascendancy produced by protection and support.

But at the side of the public government of Prussia, bowed down before the wrath and violence of Napoleon, a number of secret associations had been brought into existence, by the oppression of the conquerors; and taking the Fatherland for their watchword, they only awaited a crisis for vengeance. After the death of their noble-hearted queen these associations greatly increased, and the most eminent among the patriots, as well as the statesmen out of favour, participated in them, for the salvation of the country was at stake. It is incontestable that Hardenberg was the mind of this national conspiracy, as Blucher and Gneisenau were its sword; this secret and magnificent undertaking, this moral resistance, advanced with indescribable and undeviating energy, during the period which elapsed between 1808 and 1811, and then, by a capricious will of the Emperor Napoleon, Hardenberg was again destined to receive a mark of confidence from his sovereign, and the government of Prussia was once more placed in his hands. I consider this to have been the most critical period for Northern Germany; the provinces, constantly traversed by French troops, were completely in the power of their generals, and that fine country was now nothing but a magazine of forage, provisions, and money for the French troops. In the midst of these disastrous circumstances, the minister applied himself particularly to reinstating some little degree of order in the complicated administration of Prussia; he relieved the people as far as it was possible, and above all, he endeavoured to reorganise the army, firmly, but not openly, for this Napoleon would not have permitted, but by a military system which constantly summoned the young soldiers to their duties, and then shortly afterwards restored them to their families[269] and their homes; a plan which permitted him to have a fine army in preparation for future events, at a very moderate expense. The system of military reserves is essentially Prussian, because it realizes the double idea of a considerable army in time of war, and a limited contingent during peace; by this means every Prussian is a soldier.

If at this time the Emperor treated Prussia with some little degree of respect, if he even called for the concurrence of Baron Hardenberg, it was because, being then almost on the eve of undertaking a campaign against Russia, he was desirous of engaging Prussia in it as an auxiliary; and as the cabinet was already devoted to him, Buonaparte sought to enlist popular opinion in his favour, by means of their favourite minister. And here a question may be asked, of great importance to history. How came Hardenberg to affix his signature to the secret treaty which placed the Prussian army under the orders of Napoleon? Had he really and in good faith entered into the alliance? or had he only signed it with the determination of breaking through its conditions at the first check experienced by the French arms? It is necessary we should recollect, that with Napoleon there were no discussions, no considering the various clauses of a treaty; and the correspondence of M. de Saint-Marsan with M. Maret, with the notes and explanations of the Prussian minister with the French ambassador, are sufficient to carry conviction that nothing was free or spontaneous on this occasion: every thing was submitted to from the most imperious necessity; there was no choice given of acceptance or refusal, but Prussia placed her army and her treasury at the disposal of the conqueror, because he had said, It is my will.

Now in these necessities, imposed by misfortune, did no gleam of hope remain? In politics, no alliances are[270] durable but those resting upon a perfect agreement of views and interests. When two people unite because they are free and happy, because they feel a mutual esteem and regard for each other, because they reciprocally afford and receive important services, then, depend upon it, these alliances are durable, these treaties will be carefully carried out. But suppose, on the contrary, a people vanquished and humbled—a king of Prussia, the descendant of Frederic the Great, to whom M. Maret insolently writes, "that he must sign a military and diplomatic convention, under pain of captivity;" does such a treaty as that form an alliance? is the convention which delivers up Berlin to the French army, a treaty between friends and allies? or could the plan which parcelled out the Prussian army, into divisions under French marshals or generals, be a free, upright, or durable proceeding? Surely not: this reconciliation could only be momentary; it was imposed by main force, and with the decline of power it must come to an end.

In addition to this, the Prussian government could no longer control the people of Germany, indignant at the humiliations they were called upon to submit to. That Hardenberg was acquainted with the proceedings of the secret societies, does not admit of a doubt, neither is it less certain that he permitted their developement, in order afterwards to avail himself of them, as a powerful instrument against the oppression of France; but a circumstance one cannot comprehend is, that it should not have occurred even to the inferior mind of M. de Saint-Marsan, and the very moderate capacity of M. Maret, that at the first reverse experienced by the grand army, all these alliances would be got rid of, as something troublesome and offensive—in fact, as a yoke to be cast off. To what a degree of humiliation was the House of Frederic now reduced! Prussia, in a suppliant attitude, had solicited[271] an alliance with the Buonaparte family, and Hardenberg, the principal negotiator, had received a cold refusal! Was it possible all this should be forgotten? On one side was the recollection of their young and heroic queen, who had died broken-hearted, insulted in the public papers, and calumniated in pamphlets; and on the other, was a people ground down by oppression, but undertaking its own preparations for the day of independence; while to the insolence of the chief we must add all the harshness of his generals, and of the people employed in levying contributions. I do not wish here to mention proper names, but if any men are still living who were then employed in the local administration of Prussia, let them speak, and say, whether the system to which Prussia was subjected, was one possible for her to maintain, in spite of all the hopes of liberty inspired by the general rising in Europe? and whether it was not natural the conflagration of Moscow should be succeeded by other flames?

The most important events in Prussia commenced from this period. The fatal campaign of Moscow being concluded, the French army, a miserable swarm of fugitives, fell back upon the frontiers of Prussia, so lately traversed under different auspices! The corps of Marshal Macdonald was compelled to retreat from the siege of Riga, and the brave and faithful chief brought back with him the Prussians, especially the division of York, long under the influence of the principles inculcated by Schill. News suddenly arrived that the Prussians refused to fight, and General York addressed a respectful letter to the Marshal, declaring his intention of maintaining a perfect neutrality with the Russian armies. This defection extended to all the Prussian troops, and excited surprise, though it had long been in preparation; in fact, both officers and soldiers were all strongly imbued with[272] the doctrines of Schill, Stein, and the secret societies; and Prussia, ripe for independence, obtained it at last: a bright dawn had begun to appear, and wherefore should she not avail herself of it?

Such being the state of popular opinion in Prussia, let us now inquire what was the spirit of the cabinet conducted by Baron Hardenberg. He had evidently been well acquainted with the existence of the secret societies, and the edicts of Breslau, issued on the 3d and 9th of February, which gave a military organisation to the Tugendbund, were drawn up and signed by him; and admirable indeed were these patriotic papers, calling upon all the sons of Germany to take up arms in defence of the Fatherland! It is necessary to read them, fully to understand the pitch excitement had now reached in Germany; all the young men between the ages of seventeen and twenty-four, were to take up arms, and form volunteer corps, clothed in the dress that had been worn by Schill and Stein, that is, the short frock girded with a leathern belt, and the little cap usually worn by students. No youth could be married unless he had performed this service, nor could he fill any public situation unless he had discharged his duty to his country; without this there was no hope for him, either in the path of ambition or of love. The patriotic edicts were signed by Hardenberg, who was desirous of placing himself at the head of popular feeling in Prussia. They were thus worded:—"The dangers with which the state is threatened demand an immediate augmentation of our military force, at the same time that the state of our finances forbids any increase of our expenditure. The subjects of Prussia have always been distinguished for their attachment to their king and country, and they require nothing to direct them to a determined object but a favourable occasion, which may enable our brave[273] youth to display the courage which leads them to join the ranks of the ancient defenders of their native land, and acquit themselves at their side, of their first and noblest duties. It is with this object, that his majesty has been pleased to command the formation of detachments of yagers, intended to be annexed to the battalions of infantry and the regiments of cavalry of which the army is composed, so as to summon to military service those classes of the inhabitants of the country who are not compelled to it by the laws, and yet whose means permit them, to clothe and equip themselves at their own expense, and to serve the state in a manner compatible with their situation regarding the civil government. It will also afford an opportunity to young men of education to distinguish themselves, and become some day clever officers, or non-commissioned officers."

The spirit of Prussia was now thoroughly roused and up in arms. At the same time Baron Hardenberg was engaged in a negotiation with M. Maret, who did not perceive that the Prussian cabinet was merely following the stream—that it was, in fact, no longer the king who governed, but the people, and that the people were boiling with indignation. Generally speaking, the functionaries of the empire did not attach sufficient importance to public opinion; the greater part of them, forsooth, were too great people, men of too illustrious birth, as every one is aware, and they looked down upon the mass of the nation! These men, born of the people, raised by them—some being old newspaper-writers, others scriveners, or retired attorneys—considered themselves, by the grace of God, such great lords and princes, that they paid no attention to the vast power which gives laws to kings and states. When Hardenberg wrote that he was desirous of forming the plan of an alliance,[274] even after the campaign of Moscow, M. Maret's mind was quite at ease on the subject of Prussia; and the diplomatic despatches give sufficient evidence of the perfect ignorance that existed at Paris as to the approaching movement at Berlin: they did not observe that fresh ideas were becoming developed, and that the cabinet was no longer master of the country. "What is going to happen?" wrote M. de Saint-Marsan to the Prussian minister; and, as his sole answer, the latter despatched General Krusemarck and Prince Hatzfeld to Paris, bearing soothing words. "Prussia is desirous of maintaining peace, and the French alliance is pleasing to her, but she requires fresh conditions." Read this note from Hardenberg to M. de Saint-Marsan, which describes perfectly the situation of Prussia, a situation M. Maret had not understood:—"It has occurred to the king, that nothing would more advance the great work than a truce, according to which the French and Russian armies would retire to a certain distance, and establish lines of demarcation, leaving an intervening country. Would his imperial majesty be willing to enter into such an arrangement? Would he consent to resign the charge of the fortresses of the Oder, of Pilau, and of Dantzic (with regard to the latter, conjointly with the Saxon troops, as agreed by the treaty of Tilsit), to the troops of the king, and withdraw his army beyond the Elbe, provided the Emperor Alexander should withdraw his beyond the Vistula? The king has commanded General Krusemarck and Prince Hatzfeld to inquire into the intentions of his imperial majesty on this head; and he has made similar proposals to the Emperor Alexander, as concerning an idea emanating entirely from himself, and which can in no way compromise the resolution which your sovereign, his imperial[275] majesty, may come to on this point. According to what is decided upon at present, the king will regulate his ulterior proceedings."

Although Hardenberg's language was somewhat timid, matters were, nevertheless, in a state of progression. In her first position, the situation of Prussia was that of an ally; in the second, that of a neutral power: would she stop there? The arrival of the Emperor Alexander at Breslau decided the king upon following the popular movement, and the court of Berlin pronounced in favour of the coalition; information being conveyed to M. Maret, in a paper drawn up by Hardenberg, that Prussia had declared war. This remarkable exposition of their causes of complaint against Napoleon contains, more especially, a summary of pecuniary grievances, unheard-of violations of the various clauses of the treaty, and recollections of the harsh rule of the French generals. One circumstance, however, is omitted, although it occupied the first place in the mind of the Prussian minister, viz. that the country was weary of foreign dominion. The Tugendbund had arisen, like an ancient German warrior, armed at all points.

Hardenberg quickly followed up this first despatch by a second, addressed to General Krusemarck at Paris, who transmitted it to M. Maret. "The Emperor of Russia offers a noble and faithful friendship to Prussia, while Napoleon has thrust away his ally, not even having condescended to enter into any explanation with her. Prussia has endured all the insolence unsparingly heaped upon her by the conqueror; all her fortified places have been seized by the French troops; Berlin has been occupied, and 94 millions levied upon the country. These circumstances render further hesitation impossible; honour commands us to draw the[276] sword, and never will we sheath it until an honourable and advantageous peace has been obtained."

Baron Hardenberg was now completely in his element; his original inclinations bound him to Russia and the Emperor Alexander, and he rejoiced in seeing the idea of Queen Louisa accomplished, and the two monarchs pressing each other's hands. From this time forward, all the efforts of the minister were directed to the developement, and organisation of the secret societies. His object was to give a heroic impulse to Germany, and, laying aside for the moment all the divisions between the Catholic and Protestant parties, he resolved to see nothing but the Fatherland thirsting for deliverance from the tyranny of Napoleon; he encouraged the young men to carol patriotic songs, and excited them to march boldly to battle, without any distinction being made between the civilian and the soldier.

Then were seen universities rising en masse, and the professors themselves leading their pupils to the battle of the giants. The engagements of Lutzen and Bautzen have never been considered in a point of view which would invest them with a melancholy interest. The flower of both countries was there opposed to each other; the conscripts of the empire, from the age of eighteen to twenty-one years, and the students of the universities bearing the funereal banner of Queen Louisa, the oldest of whom did not exceed the age of twenty-two years. In the midst of these noble squadrons were heard the thunders of 1500 pieces of artillery, tearing their youthful and tender bodies, carrying off heads, mutilating limbs; yet none of these youths faltered, for they were fighting for their country, their common mother.

During this tremendous conflict, the minister did not[277] neglect liberal concessions, capable of increasing the enthusiasm of the people. Germany, so heavily oppressed, thirsted after liberty, and when the people were giving such pledges to the government, it was but just the government, in return, should do something for the people. In Prussia there is a spirit essentially of organisation, a constant want of improvement and progress. All the acts of Hardenberg at this period were impressed with a character of liberty; he augmented the municipal administrations, all the pecuniary privileges of the nobility and clergy were annulled, and, following the ideas of the economic school, wardenships and the freedom of cities were abolished. By some acts of the cabinet a political constitution was promised to Prussia, although it is hardly possible to believe they could ever have thought seriously of such a thing for a country whose interests and opinions were so disjointed as those of Germany. But at that time Napoleon was regarded by the whole world as a great despot; the power raised to oppose him must of necessity be the spirit of liberty; and every national feeling rose in arms, because the season of oppression must be brought to a close. Under these peculiar circumstances, engagements naturally were entered into and promises made. To a people capable of such noble daring, great concessions might be promised, and in this, Hardenberg only followed the impulse that had been given; he pressed the hand of Stein, Blucher, and Gneisenau, because their names, like that of Suwarow in Russia, were the symbol of the country in arms.

See what name is given in Germany to our disastrous defeat at Leipsic—the Victory of the Nations! Yes! it was indeed there, the nations overcame the terrible oppressor who had crushed them to the dust! It was from the battle of Leipsic, that dated the sudden,[278] but prolonged reaction, which finally delivered the people and the governments from that giant hand. Accustomed as we are to place the character of Napoleon in the highest rank, we will not understand that he was the tyrant of Europe, and that even now we are undergoing the reaction of two fatal ideas—the recollection of our conquests and of our disorganising principles.

After Leipsic, the Rhine was crossed, and Hardenberg did not for a moment quit the head-quarters of the Allies: he also represented Prussia at the congress of Châtillon. From this moment, in all the diplomatic proceedings, as well as in the military operations, Prussia always manifested the strongest animosity against the French Emperor; she hoped for great reprisals, and would undoubtedly have obtained them, had not the general inclination in Europe for peace, and the exclusive and generous influence of the Emperor Alexander, swayed the negotiations concerning the treaty of Paris, and the restoration of the Bourbons. All the political transactions were signed by Hardenberg, from his having been the powerful hand which for two years had steadily directed public affairs; the King of Prussia conferred upon him the title of Prince; and he was invested with that high dignity when he accompanied the sovereigns to England.

The sight of the palace of St. James's must have awakened melancholy feelings in his mind; in his youth he had there experienced domestic sorrow, and been agitated by contending passions; for he had been the lover and husband of the Countess Randlaw, the most beautiful woman in Germany: she had been lost to him through the means of the Prince of Wales, and her seducer was now the Regent of the British islands. But they had both grown much older; and when twenty-five years have been passed in political agitations and[279] tempests, the heart has been worn out by emotion, and but little room is left for recollections of enmity and vengeance. Prince Hardenberg was therefore presented to the Prince Regent, who received him with marked attention; and the past only recurred to their minds, like one of those views which scarcely leave a trace in the memory.

From London, Prince Hardenberg repaired to Vienna, to be present at the meeting of the great congress, and he had the honour of seeing the immense aggrandisement of Prussia sanctioned by successive treaties. She now became the kingdom most immediately in an offensive position, and was placed in the situation of an advanced post in the coalition against France. Those who have investigated the spirit of Europe in the remodelling which took place in 1815, can easily perceive that the whole system of politics was directed against our country, whose influence had caused the most dreadful agitations in all the world during the last thirty years. Prussia, which during the revolutionary war had almost invariably maintained a neutral position, now received such a territorial organisation, as to render it necessary she should henceforth be the first to engage in war. This long strip of land, which has one extremity on the Niemen, and the other on the Meuse, must necessarily strive to extend itself by means of conquest, and in this manner the neutrality was avoided, which had occasioned a degree of torpor in Europe during the revolution.

An implacable hatred again burst forth, when news arrived at the congress of the landing of Napoleon: the young students had but just returned to the universities, the landwehr and landsturm, disbanded but yesterday, were called to resume their arms on the morrow; and the closest alliance was renewed in Europe, so as to[280] march at once against Napoleon, who, like an adventurous soldier, threw himself almost immediately into Belgium and the Rhenish provinces. In this military movement, which threatened Prussia, Prince Hardenberg was compelled again to appeal to the national troops, who had shed their blood on the fields of Lutzen and Bautzen. The same spirit was still found in full strength and vigour; Blucher was at the head of the Prussian contingent at Waterloo; they fought with the utmost fury, and victory having decided in their favour on that plain, fatal to the last hopes of Napoleon, the northern provinces of France were soon inundated with enemies. In all the proclamations of Hardenberg, and all his acts calling Germany to arms, a deadly hatred, a rancorous degree of vengeance against France was manifested, in order to rouse the courage and the powerful energy of the old Prussian monarchy. This irritation was conspicuous at every step taken by the German troops on the French territory; they appeared desirous of at once taking vengeance for all the humiliations they had undergone during the last ten years. Waterloo was not sufficient to appease the anger excited by Jena; the recollection of the oppressive dominion of the French was fresh in every heart; and it must be confessed, the most rancorous and vindictive during the war were not the regular troops, the soldiers devoid of mind or imagination, but the young men from the universities, the landwehr and the landsturm: it was the fair-haired Germans, with the short frock and leathern belt, the admirers of Schiller and Goëthe, and, more than all, the noble worshippers of the Queen of Prussia, who came to claim the spoils of France; for the revered image of the heroic Louisa, oppressed and calumniated by Napoleon, was mingled in all their dreams.

The despatches of Hardenberg, while the negotiations[281] of Paris were in progress, bore the impress of this bent in Germany, and in fact of the whole of his German existence. From the time he first took part in public affairs, he particularly interested himself in every thing concerning the confederation; his influence alone had induced Prussia to enter into the system of neutrality and centralisation, which became the national law of Germany from the time of the French revolution; and now these same interests were placed under his supreme direction. Germany, which had so long been endangered by French principles, was desirous of reacting against that power; and everywhere declared and averred, that Alsace and Lorraine had been taken from her, and that they ought to be restored to their elder sister; conquest alone had given them to France, and a reverse of fortune might deprive her of them. Prince Hardenberg set forth these ideas, and supported them at the conference in Paris; he asserted that the Rhine was not natural to France, but was, on the contrary, offensive to Germany; Strasburg is a threatening position, and so would be Mayence; the Vosges and the Moselle were the limits he was desirous of assigning as a disgrace to us, and this desire proceeded less from his own mind than from the detestation Germany had vowed against us: it was the reaction of liberalism against Napoleon, extending almost to the partition of France. I have already described how M. de Richelieu preserved us from this great misfortune, by appealing to the Emperor Alexander, more disinterested in the question of partition, and who interposed in favour of our vanquished country.

Notwithstanding this, the sacrifices imposed upon us by the treaty of Paris were sufficiently heavy. Hardenberg was one of those who signed it, and the influence he had exerted gave him very great claims upon the[282] confidence of his sovereign. He became, in the Prussian cabinet, the representative of the Anglo-German alliance; renewing the union between the Tory party and the German aristocracy, whose fundamental principle was a hatred and hostility towards France, dating as far back as the battle of Fontenoy, where the troops of the Duke of Cumberland were humbled before the fortune of Louis XV.

Although peace was now established, the task of the minister was not completed, and a most difficult mission remained to be accomplished. The strong national impulse given to Germany by the necessity of getting rid of Napoleon, had roused an energetic feeling in favour of liberty in every breast; charters and constitutions had been promised, and a sort of mystic unity in Germany had been spoken of; and how were these promises to be redeemed? This political question, which I have already mentioned as so delicate, I may almost say so terrible, for Prince Metternich, was still more so for the head of the Prussian government. In Austria the popular mind was neither so advanced, nor so philosophically organised, as in Prussia; the enthusiasm of the people was at bottom only an extreme devotion to the Emperor and the august house of Hapsburg; and all they requested in return, was the repeal of a few of their taxes, some local liberties, and a little public happiness. But in Prussia the desires were not so moderate; all the secret societies had visions of a state of things so strangely liberal, that Germany would have been nothing more than a republic under a king, if a free course had been allowed to their expectations. In order to arrive at a regular plan of government, Hardenberg was obliged, even in the face of his former promises, to break with the patriot party, whose efforts he had so strenuously seconded during the crisis. Blucher and[283] Gneisenau, the chiefs of these young men, were anxious for a national representative system, and for that purpose they wished the secret societies to remain in full force; but Hardenberg demonstrated to them that the object of these associations no longer existed, and that as to the constitution of the States, the part designated as the administration must be separated from the political legislation. Under this point of view Hardenberg's theory is particularly worthy of remark. According to him legislation belongs to the king alone; and it was certainly a right no one would have disputed with Frederic, the founder of the kingdom; the administration only belongs to the provincial states, as also the power of voting taxes. He established this theory by many successive acts, drawn up under his influence; and it reached such a pitch, that a royal edict even put a stop to the secret societies, as dangerous and fatal. The king's language is paternal, and explanatory of his motives; such being the usual course pursued in Prussia, where reason and explanation are had recourse to with a thinking people.

This second portion of the life of Hardenberg presents exactly the reverse of the medal; and such, we may observe, is generally the case. The existence of political characters is almost invariably divided into two parts: the one, all action and advance; the other, devoted to the repression of the ideas they may have favoured in the days of their youth and strength. The secret societies occasioned alarm, and, perhaps, with some reason, at a time when the strangest theories had begun to appear in Germany, and the press was doing mischief. There had been a time when it was desirable to rouse Germany, and then every thing might be said in favour of Liberty, as it was by her means that every thing was to be done; but, after the crisis was over, the government would be[284] exposed to sudden and unexpected accusations. In the Prussian universities it is permitted to discuss all questions, to examine into the most important points of theology and morals; but when they come to the application, when the principles of the government are actually attacked, there is liberty no longer. All discussion is formally forbidden which leads to the examination of the rights of the crown or the obedience of the subject, because the head of the state is essentially military, and his power is the work of the soldier.

Hardenberg, as minister of the king, took a part in all the acts which prepared the Germanic constitution; for Frederic William abandoned himself to his long experience, and he was prime minister in the fullest sense of the word. To mark how perfectly he was satisfied with his services, the king not only wrote to him with his own hand on his birthday, but he also, as an agreeable surprise, caused his portrait to be placed in the principal apartment of his hôtel.

By the act of the Germanic Confederation a close alliance took place between Prussia and Austria, in order that they might share the power equally between them; the one in the north, the other in the south; Prussia as the representative of the Protestant, and Austria of the Catholic system. The German unity was remodelled on that plan, and there was no longer any thing but a moral struggle between the two nations. Prussia was more advanced in her philosophical ideas, and Austria more paternal and provident in her domestic regulations.

The well-established distinction between the administration and the political system is particularly owing to the exertions of Hardenberg. The administration is careful, economical, and often dishonest; the political branch watchful and military, carefully restricting the[285] developement of liberty within the most exact limits. After the termination of the great transactions of 1816, Hardenberg occupied himself only in applying his system of repression to the press, to the convocation and to the limited constitution of the States. At Troppau and Laybach he supported Prince Metternich's designs, and all the measures against the schools were taken in concert with Austria. The system of the German universities embraced two main points,—studious and intellectual ideas, and political influence. Hardenberg, a highly educated man, the friend of Humboldt, Gentz, and Kotzebue, and himself distinguished for his literary tastes, was willing to leave to philosophy the vast domain where intellect displays, and often loses itself; therefore the studies were not restricted in their developement, the universities were still left mistress of their doctrine, but they were obliged to resign their mysterious influence on secret societies, and they no longer formed acting and deliberating corps. Science, thought, and philosophy, remained as a grand and noble trinity in the domain of the learned, like the school divinity of the middle ages.

Political action being restrained, it was easier to bring the administration to perfection. The system of Prussian presidencies was only a collection of vast prefectures or local administrations, and every thing was regulated with so much economy, that the taxes are collected with a third less expense than in France.

In this long struggle of every-day labour, the life of Prince Hardenberg was worn out; and at Aix-la-Chapelle and Troppau it was evident that his strength was beginning to give way. Old age had come upon him, and one is astonished a war with parties should have been carried on so vigorously by a man who had reached the advanced age of threescore and ten. One[286] can imagine the peaceful government of an aged man over a peaceful state; but the last four years of Hardenberg's life had been the most laborious, because he not only had to contend with external powers, but with his own opinions and ideas, hardly five years old. He had organised the secret societies, and he was now compelled to destroy them. It was not his feelings that had changed, but the necessities of Europe, with whom deliverance had passed into repression.

At the congress of Verona, Hardenberg was seen, for the last time, exerting all his strength to support the opinions of the Emperor Alexander and Metternich, upon the necessity of a war with Spain. His last public act was a journey to Rome, to sign a concordat between Prussia and the Holy See; and the reconciliation between a Protestant state and the head of the Catholic Church was certainly a most singular and novel proceeding. Whence did it proceed? and what was the cause of it? The excitement occasioned in Europe by the Holy Alliance had reunited the various and scattered sovereignties. Their ideas were confounded by the necessity of mutual defence, and the various shades of opinion were effaced by the urgent anxiety for the repression of the democratic principle; so that the Pope was restored by the English, Prussians, and Russians, who all belong to different communions. These political reconciliations had strengthened the religious feeling, and, at this time, the Czar was dreaming of an universal church, by the union of all the sects, which offers some explanation how Hardenberg might go to Rome to sign the concordat. We must not, however, forget that, owing to her new position, and her great acquisition of territory, nearly half her population were now Papists, all the Rhenish provinces surrounding the great cathedral of Cologne being of that profession, and it was necessary to secure[287] the exercise of their religion to these people, but half-subject to their new master. Hardenberg had still sufficient strength to preside over this treaty; he then proceeded to Genoa in search of a milder climate, and had taken one of those delightful villas where Lord Byron was accustomed to enjoy the charms of a lovely country, when he was surprised by illness and death, at the age of seventy-two years.

It was a diplomatic career as long as that of Prince Talleyrand; but Prince Hardenberg had not, like him, preserved the polished manners and mode of expression which, in his youth, won the hearts of the republicans. His speech had become thick and heavy; he spoke French well, but with the German accent, that is slightly observable with Baron Humboldt. His language was very cold, and appeared the mirror of his feelings, which seldom permitted themselves to be excited by the imagination; he appeared to be even more a man of business than a statesman; and, in fact he has organised, not created, an administration which still exists, and gradually advances on the path marked out for it by him.

At present, Prussia has done nothing beyond enlarging this system, and at the same time stamping it more powerfully with a poetical and philosophical tendency; for the ideas and impressions of stormy and difficult times are not required in calmer seasons. Prussia appears likely to realise the problem of an intelligent people, highly advanced in philosophical knowledge, and yet capable of doing without what are called constitutional institutions. The idea that proposes to centralise and confound every thing, the visionary desire that would group Germany around the cathedral of Cologne, is grand and vast; but, in order this unity should triumph, would not the first necessary condition be, that there should be but[288] one faith, one object of love, one system of belief? And how can Protestantism, which is so constantly subject to internal dissensions, create unity? To make Berlin the capital of science, to cause all the universities to converge towards that point, as to an Athens dreamed of by the philosophers, is a noble idea of the government; but, on the other hand, what means this license against Christianity? Though Frederic the Great received Atheists privately at his table, he would never have permitted atheism to be publicly taught; and an empire desirous of seeking for unity in science and philosophy must lay the first foundations in religion and Christian instruction. My opinion, then, is, that the Romish system can alone form a powerful bond among the people; otherwise, Cologne restored will only present a barren proof of the utter incapacity of Protestantism to renew the Catholic union of the arts and religion, as it existed during the middle ages.



In the march of generations two distinct periods are observable: the one of ardent and vigorous activity, when quiet and lukewarmness are vexatious and annoying; the other of fatigue and exhaustion; and, when this reaction has taken place, it is necessary there should be at the head of affairs, wise and moderate ministers, perhaps even men who are themselves weary of too active and busy a life. The great European monarchies enjoy an incontestable advantage over freer but more stormy governments, in the perpetuity of their system and the lengthened career of their statesmen. Look at Austria and Russia during the last thirty-three years; they have been under the unvarying direction of two ministers, who have alone had the direction of affairs,—Prince Metternich and Count Nesselrode; and only the death of Prince Hardenberg has deprived Prussia of his services. This perpetuity of statesmen is attended with many advantages: it creates a constant succession of precedents in the cabinet; it permits the conception of a long series of measures, and allows one idea to be followed and worked out with perseverance. A young man is selected immediately he has finished his studies, and placed in the second or third rank among the[290] attachés of an embassy; he next becomes a minister plenipotentiary; and, if he rises and distinguishes himself, he obtains a post in the chancellerie; and when, owing to the confidence of his sovereign, or the force of circumstances, he has once been placed in a superior rank, he remains there to the end of his life. And what is the result?—a most serious attention to all transactions, and a most profound knowledge of business: the political situation, which was originally the great object of his ambition, now becomes the subject of his careful study, and, indeed, his whole existence is bound up in it.

England, always intelligent and clear-sighted, has striven to apply a remedy to the instability of men, by the stability of parties. In that country there are two schools opposed to each other, the Whigs and the Tories; and men from their earliest childhood are destined to belong to one, or other of these vast divisions. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge receive into their bosom this twofold generation of students, who apply themselves to the study of the peculiar ideas which divide these shades of parliamentary opinion, and proceed without hesitation on the path they have chosen for themselves; and, on quitting the university, they support in parliament the opinions in which they have been educated, or which they have adopted. Suppose a young man to be a Tory, if the Tories are in power he obtains an appointment as one of the under-secretaries of state, and only resigns it when his party go out of office; should he be a Whig, and the Whigs are at the head of affairs, the same thing takes place: every thing is fixed, and proceeds according to rule in the government; by that means alone it is known whence people come, and they are equally well acquainted with the course they are likely to take.


In bringing together the names of Metternich, Nesselrode, and Hardenberg, I do not pretend to draw an absolute parallel between them; on the contrary, there exists a strong and well-defined difference. Metternich and Hardenberg always expressed their own ideas, and were the representatives of a system, which they followed with the utmost perseverance, and applied through all the changeful course of events that occurred in the two great kingdoms committed to their care. They were statesmen who had taken office with fixed principles, and their whole life was employed in their developement. For instance, the self-imposed object of Prince Hardenberg's foreign policy, was the increase of the national influence of Prussia against Napoleon; and of his internal government, the reconstruction of the States and of the Prussian citizen classes. Prince Metternich, in the foreign relations of the cabinet of Vienna, especially strove to establish his system of armed mediation, and moral influence produced by means of vast military establishments; while, to speak the truth, Count Nesselrode has been nothing more than the upright and intelligent executor of the will of his sovereign: he was the reflected image of Alexander, the faithful hand which undertook the execution of his wishes, even of those where his personal feelings were most concerned. The position of Nesselrode with regard to the Emperors Alexander and Nicholas, might be compared to that of the ministres secrétaires d'état under Napoleon; the influence he exercises results from his long experience, and from the circumstance of his every-day life being passed in the midst of politics, which are thus interwoven with all his habits; and this in itself confers a great degree of power.

Charles Albert, count Nesselrode, was born at Lisbon in 1770, of a noble family of German extraction. His[292] father was minister plenipotentiary in Portugal under Catherine II., and some traditions exist concerning the cause of this species of exile; there are, however, always some of these rather sneering, and random legends, current in the corps diplomatique, as if for the purpose of unbending the brow of official gravity.

Count Nesselrode was still very young at the termination of the reign of Catherine,—that extraordinary woman, whose character forms so curious a study, because it perfectly represents the state of civilisation in Russia; whose political ideas were so masculine, and by whom the system of Peter the Great had been constantly followed up and advanced. She appeared to effect an alteration in the influence of the cabinet of St. Petersburg, which had hitherto been purely oriental, and to render it more German and central; being the first step towards the predominance in Southern Europe, which was afterwards the ambition of her grandson Alexander. Peter the Great had pointed to Constantinople; but Catherine considered Warsaw the most favourable point, as a position which might enable the Russian power, at a later period, to assume in the south the importance which her literary correspondence, and political despatches were already preparing. It was solely with this view that she encouraged the spirit of the eighteenth century, and caressed D'Alembert and Diderot, journalists who were devoted to her interests. When Voltaire, with his expression of flattering vanity, wrote to Catherine that light came from the north, he foretold the consummate ability of the Czarina, which prompted her to make herself talked of at any price; "because," as she cleverly observed, "by dint of exalting the Russian name, it will at last be made some account of in France and in England; we shall no longer be reckoned among the barbarians; we shall be talked of at Versailles,[293] in London, and at Madrid; and this, in politics, is indispensable, if we are desirous of obtaining any ascendancy."

The leading principle of the cabinet of St. Petersburg for the last hundred years, has been the agglomeration of Poland, and the expulsion of the Turks, whom they are desirous of driving back as far as the Black Sea. Poland has fallen; nor was it in the power of any government to prevent the ruin of that fated country. A strong antipathy, a deep, unmeasured hatred, exists between the Poles and Russians; they are two races ready to fall upon each other; two giants, armed at all points, constantly contending during six centuries. The most unpopular of all proceedings at Moscow, at Kalouga, at Novogorod, and in the old castles of the ancient nobility, was the erection of Poland into an independent kingdom, organised by Alexander,[47] which occasioned murmurs of dissatisfaction on every side. The other object of Russia, the fall of Turkey, will also take place sooner or later; it cannot be prevented, and, if the government will not undertake it, the people will do it themselves. Saint Sophia is required to crown the patriarchate of the Greek Church. Of this Europe is well aware; she delays the explosion until the proper time has arrived, and determines the various shares beforehand: but to prevent it altogether is beyond her power. And some day we shall hear that the Russians, with the cross as their banner, have marched to the succour of their brethren, and that another empire of Constantine has arisen on the Bosphorus. It is so written in the book of fate!

I am not aware that the Russian cabinet has ever been made the subject of consideration in France, in the[294] point of view of its great diplomatic ability. The principal source of its predominance has been sought in the strength communicated by its armies, and in its absolute organisation; but they have been mistaken: the truth is, that there is nothing more persevering, or more deeply reflecting, than the Russian cabinet; it goes on slowly, without attracting attention by noise or tumult. During the last century, the Russian population has increased by eleven millions of souls, who occupy more than five hundred leagues square of territory, if we include Georgia and the part of Tartary united to the government of the Crimea; and, independent of these actual conquests, Russia has acquired an undoubted protectorate over Moldavia and Wallachia, and such a degree of influence in Persia, that no other country would now think of disputing it with her: finally, every one is aware of the position she has obtained at Constantinople, and also of the efforts made by the whole of Europe to prevent her from actually accomplishing the vast projects formed by Peter the Great. In order to arrive at this result, nothing has been neglected by Russia; neither political protestations, nor appeals to religious feeling, have been spared. Knowing exactly where to stop, she never ventures too far in an idea; she waits patiently till the opportunity is ripe; and, should her system have too much awakened attention, she does not overstep certain limits, but makes a momentary concession, and then resumes her projects with admirable consistency. As soon as the proper season has arrived, and that the obstacles she at first encountered are overcome, then Russia progresses straight to the accomplishment of her wishes.

Catherine, struck with a fatal apoplexy, had descended to the tomb, and the sceptre passed to the Grand Duke Paul, who had been condemned to the most profound[295] obscurity, until the moment when he was summoned from his solitude to the government of forty millions of people. The gloomy singularity of his character has been exaggerated; he has been represented as a capricious prince, who would pass suddenly from acts of savage tyranny to kindness and tender intimacy; but we must remember that Paul came of the blood of Peter the Great, and being incessantly surrounded by conspiracies, which threatened both his crown and his life, he often formed resolutions which flew at once from unreserve to anger, from confidence to sudden fury. Characters generally spring from situations, and are what events have made us. Paul had to defend his life, which had been endangered by many attempts against it; we must not, therefore, be too hasty in our judgment of this prince, but, in order to form a fair opinion, we must descend to the depths of the national character, and view the general situation of her politics.

Europe had received a vehement impulse from the French revolution. The Grand Duke, who was himself threatened by the spirit of revolt, must have viewed with but little satisfaction this popular explosion at the other extremity of Europe; but the distance of Russia, her financial embarrassments, and the accomplishment of the partition of Poland, did not permit her to take part in the first coalition against the French revolution: the Russians did not join the hostile party until the second Italian war, during the campaign of Suwarof. I will not repeat the well-known military story; the divisions in the cabinets of Vienna and St. Petersburg put a stop to the second coalition: but the Russian regiments had seen Italy; they had touched the soil of Switzerland; for the first time their breasts had been warmed by the mild rays of the southern sun; and, like the invaders of the third and fourth centuries, they recollected during the[296] long wintry nights of their icy clime, that there were large towns and fair cities in the south of Europe, that those fertile lands produced delicious fruits, while the smiling plains were crowned with abundant harvests: these recollections lay deep in the mind of many a Russian veteran in the years 1813 and 1814, and from this time forth the cabinet of St. Petersburg took a part in the interests of southern Europe.

The diplomatic career of Count Nesselrode began at the time of the embassy of Count Marcoff at Paris, under the Consulate—that wonderful period when every thing, government, institutions, and political and social ideas, appeared to have been renewed with the vigour of youth. The forcible administration of the First Consul easily opened the way to negotiations with Russia, for whenever a regular power has been established in France, Europe has never attempted to overturn it. Count Nesselrode being attached to the embassy in Paris, had the opportunity of witnessing the magnificent developement of the power and genius of Buonaparte, then First Consul. Who would have foretold that fifteen years later, he, as the Chancellor of Alexander, would preside over the acts relative to the downfall of the Emperor, and sanction the decrees of the senate of 1814 for the restoration of the House of Bourbon?

Paris, at this early period of the Consulate, was an abode full of pleasure and enjoyment. The treaty of Amiens had just been concluded, peace had been obtained through victory, and people were desirous of amusement and repose; they were emerging from the system of the Directory, the spirit of good society again raised its head, and its rules and customs were eagerly sought for, in order to restore it from its ruins. There was a little court at the Tuileries around Joséphine; all the ceremonies and etiquette of former times were collected with[297] avidity; ambassadors alone had liveries, and their splendid equipages shone with double lustre among the half-republican assemblage, where there was a long string of hackney-coaches with their numbers concealed. Napoleon still reserved all his magnificence for his military festivals; his grand reviews on the Place du Carrousel, where in the midst of clouds of dust the squadrons of guides, and the grenadiers of the consular guard defiled, as we see them depicted in the pictures of Isabey.

The luxurious splendour of the embassies cast over every thing belonging to the legation, an aristocratic gloss which turned the heads of this generation; and this may explain the success in female society enjoyed by various members of the corps diplomatique at this period, and the close and tender intimacies which were afterwards so useful to Prince Metternich in his diplomatic surveillances. Young Nesselrode, like all Russians, spoke French with the greatest fluency, and without the decided accent, which all Prince Metternich's talents are unable to correct. He had his share of the dissipation of the new court, where some young women, as if astonished at their own position, forgot themselves, and forgot also that they had the gravest and most serious head in the world as their chief. I can hardly say wherefore, but nothing has given me a more contemptible idea of society in the time of the Consulate, than the perusal of some memoirs that have been written in apology for it; beside the wonders achieved by one man, how mean and wretched appear the tricks and narrow intrigues of those around him!

The Russian legation was at that time obliged to concern itself, with one of the most important questions of maritime rights, and of the law of nations. The treaty of Amiens, which never could have been any thing more than a truce between France and England, was broken by both parties at once; and it is an invidious question[298] to inquire which of these two governments, was guilty of the first infringement of the treaty: the peace fell to the ground because it was only a momentary repose for two cabinets unable to live in peace with each other, on account of their gigantic ambition. As soon as war was declared between France and England, Napoleon was naturally desirous of carrying on hostilities in a vigorous manner, and for that purpose he endeavoured to secure the co-operation of some of the continental powers. Paul, who was as ardent in his admiration as in his hatred, had conceived a high esteem for the First Consul, and Buonaparte, taking advantage of this feeling, requested him again to put in force, for the benefit of the neutral powers, the principle of the liberty of the sea; a principle completely opposed to the ideas and interests of England, for the British government never would admit that the flag should protect the merchandise. A squadron appeared in the Sound, to act simultaneously against Denmark, Sweden, and Russia, who had adhered to the principle of armed neutrality. The legation at Paris, under the direction of Count Marcoff, based the treaty on the rights of the neutral nations, being the developement of a grand maritime idea renewed by Louis XVI.

A change, however, soon took place, for, as if stricken by a thunderbolt, Paul fell a victim to a conspiracy. The mysterious horrors of that awful night have been recorded in history. The mild and romantic Alexander was placed on the throne of his father, who appeared almost immediately inclined to proceed to warlike measures against France and Napoleon; and accordingly the influence exercised by England over the cabinet of St. Petersburg was very considerable. The Russian legation quitted Paris, and as it had lately exhibited great activity in obtaining information that was not favourable to the ideas of Napoleon, Count Marcoff was on the point of[299] being arrested, and there was a good deal of hesitation whether he should receive his passports. These acts of violence were a habit of Napoleon, for even the barrier opposed by the law of nations to his will was displeasing to him, and he was always on the eve of breaking through it.

The part played since this period by Count Nesselrode, and the importance of the negotiations between Russia and France, render it necessary to explain the organisation of the highest class of the corps diplomatique, as it exists in the Russian empire. The Emperor being the supreme head of the army, of the government, and of the church, all the authorities depend upon him, and consequently he reserves to himself the entire direction of what is called the Chancellerie. This chancellerie appoints agents, who, under the title of ministers or ambassadors, represent officially their sovereign at foreign courts; it also exercises much activity and vigilance, and keeps a watch upon the ambassadors, who are often compelled to collect the most minute information—a proceeding not at all in keeping with their elevated rank, for the shades are almost imperceptible between what is allowable, and what is forbidden in diplomatic affairs; and, as I have before stated, this ambiguous situation often induced the Emperor Napoleon to be almost violent in his measures against the Russian ambassadors, when he found they obtained statements of the military establishments, and secret conventions, so as to become masters of the most carefully guarded secrets of the cabinet.

Independent of these people, who are officially accredited, the Czar despatches aides-de-camp, without any positive commission except that of travelling, or perhaps being the bearers of some complimentary message; and these officers examine into every thing and send reports, not only regarding the government and the population[300] they are deputed to inspect, but even concerning the Russian agents. To recall an example: under the Emperor Napoleon, in 1811, the aide-de-camp Czernitcheff made two or three journeys to Paris, ostensibly to compliment the Emperor, and to carry him autograph letters from the Czar; and then he returned to Russia with a statement of all the military strength of the country, which had been given him by an employé in the war-office—information that was of the greatest possible service to Russia in the defence of 1812. In addition to all this, when the Czar takes the field a great number of general officers unite diplomatic missions and services, to their military titles; as, for instance, Count Pozzo di Borgo, as we have before observed, attended at the same time to the strategic operations, and to the arrangements in the cabinets, which might secure their developement. When England, who was the first to follow this plan, granted subsidies to a power, she always sent a commissioner with each army to follow the campaign.

Count Nesselrode was early attached as a councillor to the private chancellerie of the Czar, who soon discovered him to possess a faithful disposition, great and solid erudition, a serious understanding, and a spirit of ready obedience that would willingly support his sovereign will. Count Nesselrode took especial pains to please Alexander, whose mind was too full of his own ideas to bear any impulse that was not given by himself. At the time of his departure for the interview at Erfurt, it was evident that three ideas in particular possessed the minds of the members of the cabinet of St. Petersburg. The one, entirely Russian, observed with feelings of grief and humiliation, the alliance between Alexander and the head of the French government; a strong dislike was felt by the old Muscovites to the greatness of the new empire; the noble Sclavonian detested the proud and arrogant[301] parvenus. They did not wish for an open rupture with France, but the engagements entered into by the treaty of Erfurt, the intimacy between the two crowns, which had been formed by the fascinations of Napoleon—all this, I say, was a source of great displeasure to the old aristocracy, to the successors of those Boyards who claimed the feudal government of the Russian provinces.

The second school of this diplomacy was in some degree Greek and Oriental. Napoleon had been desirous of satisfying some of the projects of Russia by the treaty of Erfurt; and as he was then dividing the world with Alexander, he conceded to him the full and entire realisation of the plans of Catherine, agreeing that Constantinople should be his in a few years, Ispahan and Persia in the course of time; they even spoke of the independence of Greece, and consequently of the possibility of an insurrection among the Hellenic and Syrian population. Napoleon had long revolved these projects in his mind; in fact, had not the general of the army of Egypt already had an idea of appealing to the Christian profession, as a means of rousing the Copts and Syrians against their Ottoman masters? Some maxims of liberty were to be attached to the Greek school of diplomacy, and they were brought forward some years afterwards at the congress of Vienna by Count Capo d'Istria.

The third diplomatic school, which was to a certain degree founded by Count Nesselrode, consisted in taking a middle course between the two former systems. The young Count had never been devoted to the plans proposed at Erfurt, and he did not for a moment allow himself to be carried away by the gigantic projects then determined upon in a moment of enthusiasm; he did not identify himself either with the Greek or the German school, nor even entirely with the Muscovite, in its repugnance for Napoleon. What Alexander particularly[302] remarked was, the perfect obedience of his minister to all his wishes, though he sometimes strove to infuse a little moderation into his decisions, when their tendency was too abrupt or positive to be advisable in political affairs. Nesselrode always executed the orders of his sovereign, but in so doing he tempered the expressions of enthusiastic mysticism which often characterised the politics of the Czar; he did not attempt to give an impulse, but he endeavoured to prevent the will of his master from going too far.

The commencement of Count Nesselrode's favour dates especially from the French expedition to Russia. The movement, still more national than military, which repulsed this gigantic undertaking, naturally took its source from the old Muscovite families, and in the savage energy against which the Czars, ever since the days of Peter the Great, have struggled in vain; and Alexander, whose education and principles rendered him particularly averse to this return of barbarism, felt the need of a confidential friend, in whose bosom he might confide his fears of the results to be apprehended from this Muscovite tendency, which went beyond his own ideas and wishes. Count Nesselrode became one of these confidential servants, and as early as 1812, although he did not fill the official situation of conseiller d'état, he took the principal part in the prodigious diplomatic movement then in progress; he concluded and signed the treaty of the subsidies with England, and the secret alliance of the two great powers against Napoleon, which completed his political fortune.

The intimacy between Count Nesselrode and Prince Metternich began in the course of the negotiations at the congress of Prague. As I have before observed, it is impossible to institute a comparison between these diplomatists; Prince Metternich being the creator of a[303] system, while Nesselrode was merely employed in executing, or perhaps in moderating an idea, which was not always his own. Count Nesselrode was not the official plenipotentiary at the congress of Prague, the full powers being entrusted to M. d'Anstett, a man of considerable ability, but hardly likely to be very favourably inclined to a peaceable system, for he was a French émigré; however, the impulse and the direction of the whole business emanated entirely from Alexander, and consequently from Count Nesselrode, the most faithful and devoted of his representatives. It was then, as we cannot but feel, of the greatest importance, to induce Austria to join the coalition of the Allies against Napoleon, for upon it depended the success of the campaign of Germany; but Metternich was far from being decided in favour of this step, and he wished to oblige them to purchase the co-operation of Austria at a very high price: the negotiations, however, were conducted with great ability by Count Nesselrode, and at the conclusion of the congress of Prague the alliance of Austria was well secured to the coalition. The Russian minister arranged in the name of his sovereign all the articles of this treaty, which calmed the fears of Austria, by assigning to her an advantageous frontier in Germany and Italy.

A new element had just manifested itself in the Russian diplomacy, General Pozzo di Borgo having arrived at head-quarters, after accomplishing his mission to Bernadotte, crown-prince of Sweden. Count Pozzo was the friend of the disaffected generals of the Empire; and his constant thought, and the master-passion of his soul, was his desire to bring about the ruin of his ancient rival, whom he considered as the oppressor of Europe. It was necessary for Count Nesselrode, if not exactly to contend with this influence over the mind of Alexander,[304] at least not entirety to concur in it; for he, like Metternich, for a short time considered it might be possible to treat with Napoleon, and to impose such a degree of restraint upon his military power, as to prevent him from injuring the German independence, or the security of the interests and relations of the States. On this head Nesselrode perfectly agreed in the opinions of Alexander, who, during the campaign of 1813, was as far from desiring the downfall of Napoleon, as from wishing to interfere with the form of government in France; there was then quite enough to do in Germany, the Rhine had not yet been passed, and the question concerning the deposition of the French Emperor did not occur until 1814. Count Nesselrode having been present at the interview at Abo, between the Czar and Bernadotte, it was impossible he should be ignorant that questions had been raised concerning certain possible events, among which the chance of another form of government being established in France was spoken of. Those who have some knowledge of the state of the case, are well aware that nothing could be more vague and undecided than all that was settled in this interview, if we except the close alliance between Russia and Sweden, and certain decisions concerning their territorial claims. The Emperor Alexander conversed with Bernadotte about the plan of the campaign, and the state of the public mind in France, as well as concerning all the possibilities and chances that might be the consequence of the war; and Bernadotte in his turn naturally spoke of his grievances, and of the injuries which, as a Republican general, he had been exposed to from Napoleon, and for which he retained a strong dislike to him: but there was no talk of any change, and they entered into no positive agreement to overturn the sovereign who then reigned in France.


During the campaign of 1814, there was as much activity in the negotiations as even in the military operations; and when the Allies had once passed the Rhine it was considered necessary diplomacy should follow all the phases of the war, so as to be ready to reply to the proposals that might be made by the Emperor of the French, and also to resolve all the difficulties they might encounter. The arrival of Lord Castlereagh on the Continent greatly facilitated the transactions regarding the subsidies and the equipment of the troops; and the treaty of Chaumont was signed by Count Nesselrode, as well as by the plenipotentiaries of the other allied powers. The ascendancy acquired by England just then was so great, that she may almost be said to have alone given the impulse and direction to all the acts of the cabinet; it must, however, be acknowledged, that as she furnished the sinews of war, it was very natural she should fix positively the use to which they were to be applied. Count Nesselrode arranged with Lord Castlereagh the method of issuing the pay of the troops, and the diplomatic result of the campaign.

The sad events of the war brought the Allies to Paris; and the moment was decisive for that portion of the senate which, under the direction of Talleyrand, D'Alberg, and Jaucourt, wished for the fall of Napoleon. A provisional government was established, after the occupation of the capital. There could be no hesitation in the choice of alliances, for the support of Alexander was indispensably necessary to accomplish the ruin of the imperial system, whose hour was come! For this purpose, however, it was essential to obtain the concurrence of Nesselrode, the minister who had signed all the diplomatic acts concluded in the last three years; and even had they considered him as a mere secretary (Alexander being accustomed to act[306] very much for himself), they would naturally have been desirous of engaging him in the interests of the provisional government.

As soon as Alexander entered the French territory, the disaffected placed themselves in communication with his cabinet. I have already mentioned the mission of M. de Vitrolles, who, with a view to the restoration, had informed the Czar of the state of the public mind; and Count Nesselrode had hardly arrived in Paris before he was surrounded and assailed by a thousand conflicting intrigues and negotiations of all sorts, for the purpose of inducing his cabinet to decide in favour of the Bourbons. It was the general bent of the period, as the revolutionary principle had been that of a former era. The first steps taken by the Russian minister were full of caution; he wanted to feel his way and judge of the public feeling, and it was also necessary to induce Prince Schwartzenberg, who commanded the active army, to make an open demonstration in favour of the Bourbons; yet, at the same time, they were not quite certain what was the ultimate decision of Austria, and, more especially, of Prince Metternich. All the papers written about this time by Count Nesselrode bear evidence of this complicated situation; he, however, spoke in plain terms in an official letter addressed to M. Pasquier, that he might set at liberty some people arrested on account of the good cause, and this good cause was the restoration of Louis XVIII.

It was evident from this expression of opinions favourable to legitimate sovereignty, that the decision had been made before it was officially announced. Never, perhaps, at any time had more activity been displayed than at this period; Nesselrode must remember it as the most brilliant and busy part of his life. His salon never was empty; at one time Caulaincourt, with full powers[307] from the Emperor, solicited peace; at another, the marshals of the empire stipulated for the rights of the army, and a special treaty for Napoleon; then, again, Talleyrand, D'Alberg, and De Jaucourt, came to press the Russian minister to put an end to all uncertainty by pronouncing the downfall of Buonaparte; and, finally, the royalists devoted to the Bourbons, such as Sosthènes de la Rochefoucauld, and De Vitrolles, endeavoured to obtain the triumph of the ancient dynasty.

After these various negotiations, the declaration of the Emperor Alexander, announcing to France that they would not treat with Napoleon, was agreed to in the cabinet. This remarkable declaration was drawn up by Pozzo di Borgo; it was printed by means of a hand-press at the hôtel of Prince Talleyrand, in the Rue St. Florentin, and thousands of copies were thrown from the balconies. It was a great party stroke for the house of Bourbon, for from that time its cause was secure. It has been reported that the resolution of Count Nesselrode was decided by immense diplomatic presents; but one should generally regard with distrust the various stories that are current after political events have been accomplished: there is less corruption than people imagine in public business. At the same time it is very probable that some gratitude would be manifested after so important an act; secret presents almost invariably accompany the signature of stipulations in all diplomatic transactions—it is an old custom, and, no doubt, the value of these presents was increased in consequence of the immense importance of the service rendered; but this is all that historical impartiality can say on the subject.

This season of 1814 was very brilliant for Count Nesselrode; there was nothing at Paris but fêtes and flowers. The moderation of Russia had swayed all the resolutions[308] and softened the conditions of victory, and the Emperor Alexander enjoyed a great reputation as the symbol of peace and the expression of magnanimity in the midst of triumph. England and Austria were quite cast into the shade, nobody was spoken of but Alexander, and this celebrity was reflected upon Count Nesselrode in so great a degree as to occasion a feeling of jealousy in Metternich, who had hardly any thing to do with the transactions at Paris in 1814. The Austrian minister awaited his turn at the congress of Vienna. The first occupation of our capital was the apogée of the moral omnipotence of Russia in the affairs of southern Europe.

Here it is necessary I should mention all the difficulties of Nesselrode's situation. Nothing could be more changeable and more prone to sudden impressions than the mind of Alexander, who passed from one enthusiastic fancy to another with inconceivable rapidity; when he had taken up one idea it was difficult to put it out of his head; and if you followed in the same track, some time afterwards he would meet with some other fancy, which he adopted with equal warmth. We may, therefore, imagine how difficult was the part of a secretary of state desirous of giving some consistency to these projects, of classing them in a certain order, and of producing any result from them all. From the close of 1813, Alexander had been deeply imbued with the mysticism of Madame Krüdner, and he mingled with his manifestoes on the principles of Europe, and his theories of peace and war, a species of ascetic worship and enthusiastic superstition very difficult to translate or apply to the real business of life, and of which the ultimate object was not always understood by powers like England and Austria.

At the congress of Vienna they had to treat of serious affairs, and it was necessary to give a positive meaning[309] to the vague conceptions of Alexander, and translate theories into treaties. Poland was occupied by a Russian army, and the diplomatists of the old Muscovite school, in hopes this occupation would become permanent, pressed the annexation of Poland to Russia, without a constitution or any free state privileges. Alexander, who was desirous of wearing the crown of Poland, was entirely opposed to these demands, and wanted to collect the ruins of that kingdom into one system of political organisation; and Count Nesselrode faithfully executed this idea of his sovereign at the congress of Vienna. The question of Poland was his sole anxiety, as the integrality of Saxony and the restoration of the House of Bourbon at Naples was the exclusive thought of Prince Talleyrand.

At the congress of Vienna Nesselrode formed an intimacy with Prince Hardenberg. Russia had supported the pretensions of Prussia, the States had been bound to each other by means of political and family arrangements, and, for the future, Prussia was destined to act as the advanced guard of Russia, in her projects of influence over the south of Europe. Russia was too busy with her own affairs to observe the sort of underhand alliance forming between England, France, and Austria, against Alexander's design of instituting a kingdom in Poland, dependent on a viceroyalty of the czars. Nesselrode had to contend at once with Metternich and Hardenberg, who were both afraid of seeing the portion of Poland that had accrued to them at the time of the first partition escape from their grasp; Austria fearing for Gallicia, and Prussia for the districts beyond the Vistula. The other opposition the Russian minister had to overcome was, as I have before observed, that of the old Muscovite families, who murmured at seeing the organisation of Poland with an independent constitution[310] and a degree of national liberty. Great difficulty existed in this quarter, although Nesselrode had not entered as warmly into this project as his sovereign had done, but had taken a middle course, in order to avoid a misfortune with which he had at one time appeared threatened.

But all these divers interests were confounded by the astounding news of Napoleon's landing in the Gulf of Juan. The Emperor Alexander, whose mind was more than ever impressed with the mystic and liberal ideas of the German school, did not hesitate a moment in lending his powerful aid to the coalition. Madame Krüdner had persuaded him that the white angel, Peace, was to overcome the black angel, which presided over battles, and that the part of mediator and preserver of the human race was intended for him. The immense armies of Russia, therefore, marched against the black angel (Buonaparte). I will not enter into the military details of the Waterloo campaign; suffice it to remind the reader that the Russians, who had afforded such decisive support during the invasion of 1813 and 1814, upon this occasion only arrived with the third division after the struggle was over, which explains the reason why the influence of England and Prussia was paramount in France during the transactions of 1815.

I have elsewhere given an account of these negotiations;[48] the Emperor Alexander constituted himself the protector of the French interests, being led to do so as much by the natural generosity of his disposition as by a certain degree of national rivalry, which already began to appear between Russia and England. Nesselrode's influence over the mind of the Emperor was quite as powerful as that of Pozzo di Borgo, and we must[311] acknowledge that they rendered us the most essential service, by preserving us from a partition of our territory, and a pecuniary indemnity beyond the power of France to discharge. Still the treaty of Paris stands in evidence, that we were obliged to submit to very painful sacrifices and heavy humiliations.

Just at this time the influence of Nesselrode was endangered by a rival in Alexander's favour; I allude to Count Capo d'Istria.

Capo d'Istria was born in the Ionian islands, in the midst of the Greek population, which have so often been encouraged by Russia to strive for their liberty, ever since the time of Catherine II. He was the friend of Ipsilanti and of all the ardent generation who fought for the independence of their country. At a very early age he had been employed in secret and mysterious negotiations. However the cabinet of St. Petersburg might be situated with regard to the Porte—let the relations of the two countries be what they might, Russia, for the last century, had never ceased to favour secretly the efforts of Greece to shake off the Ottoman yoke. Alas! had she not had frequent cause for self-reproach on this subject? More than once she had instigated the Greeks to revolt, and then, when all their efforts had proved ineffectual, she had not dared to defend them openly in the face of Europe; for she was closely watched by England and Austria, who denounced to the Divan the slightest action of the unfortunate Hellenists—even the groans of an oppressed people were not allowed to pass in silence. When, therefore, Capo d'Istria was admitted to the confidence of the Emperor, the cause of the Greeks enjoyed the advantage of a constant advocate, and a warm, faithful representative. His credit dated from the negotiations in Switzerland in 1815, whose result was a new act of mediation under[312] the threefold influence of Austria, Russia, and Prussia. Capo d'Istria was afterwards appointed to divide with Nesselrode the ministry for foreign affairs.

It was, as I have before observed, a complete rivalry, for Count Nesselrode had entirely adopted the ideas of the European school. Since the year 1812, he had followed the political system opposed to the military principle of the French revolution, now pursued in concert by all the cabinets of Europe, whose ruling desire, from the year 1816, had been the repression of the liberal movement engendered by the resistance of the people to the conquests of Napoleon. Nesselrode perfectly agreed with Metternich on this point, and the Emperor Alexander's partiality for the liberal and Hellenic school of Capo d'Istria was a source of sorrow and vexation to them both. The difficulties they had to encounter were of a complicated nature, for religious feelings were mingled with political ideas—there was strong sympathy between the two churches of Moscow and Athens, and the patriarchs were in constant communion with each other. It was impossible openly to attack Alexander on this point; all that Nesselrode could do in opposition to Capo d'Istria, was to spread the alarm in every direction concerning the fearful progress made by the spirit of insurrection.

As early as the close of 1815, the Emperor Alexander had conceived the project of the Holy Alliance—an idea resulting from the mystic and religious fancies of Madame Krüdner, but involving at bottom very positive resistance to the spirit of revolt; for the Holy Alliance was nothing more than a contract of mutual support, a sort of bond entered into by all the crowned heads against the revolutionary movement in Europe. Metternich and Nesselrode were certainly not the men for ideal transactions—there had been too much reality and[313] matter of fact in their lives; still they saw the cabinets adopt these measures with satisfaction, as they both entertained hopes of bringing over the Emperor to their way of thinking; and, indeed, the general course of events at that time appeared to favour the common idea of Metternich and Nesselrode, for the secret societies in Germany had been greatly developed, and kept Prussia and Austria in a state of perpetual anxiety. They sent repeated despatches to St. Petersburg, and Nesselrode secretly supported the ideas of the alarmed cabinets. Thus the liberal plans advocated by Capo d'Istria met with secret opposition, and more than once the Emperor Alexander remained undecided among the various tendencies which disputed among themselves his mind, his power, and his affections.

Events, however, were progressing in a manner likely to weaken the credit of Capo d'Istria, and augment that of Nesselrode. The Polish senate had been the especial creation of Alexander, it was the work of his own hands; and this senate, by an ill-advised resistance, had just deeply offended the will of the sovereign—a circumstance which might have been considered as a legal act, in a long-established government, was construed into an armed and criminal revolt; and the Czar suddenly issued harsh and firm resolutions regarding Poland. The strong repressive measures advocated by Nesselrode and Metternich thus regained their place among the ideas of the European system; from the same cause the influence of Capo d'Istria visibly lost ground with the Emperor, and with his influence declined the idea of a Christian insurrection in Greece.

Capo d'Istria, as I before observed, was favourably disposed towards his countrymen the Greeks, who, by a spontaneous movement, had shaken off the yoke of the Porte; and he urged Alexander immediately to interfere,[314] by causing a Russian army to appear on the Pruth and an imperial fleet in the Mediterranean. The revolt of the Greeks was observed with great anxiety by Metternich; the house of Austria, being considered as the protectress of the Divan, made every possible effort to avoid a conflict calculated to injure the Ottoman influence, which was necessary to the balance of power in Europe: consequently, it was the object of Austria to persuade Alexander that the real spirit evinced by Greece was that of revolution, where Capo d'Istria saw nothing but a religious question; and in this opinion Nesselrode perfectly concurred. He considered that the actual state of Europe would not admit of the emancipation of a people, for rebellion was every where forming against the crowned heads, and Greece was merely employed as a pretext.

The moment was well chosen to infuse these alarms into the mind of the Emperor, the bent of the German universities having just manifested itself by the assassination of Kotzebue; Piémont had taken up arms, Naples was in a state of insurrection, and Spain had proclaimed the Cortes. Metternich, in concert with Nesselrode, then returned to the idea of congresses, those great fusions of the sovereignties, according to the course that had been settled by the Holy Alliance.

The diplomatic school had rather a predilection for this assembling of Europe—those meetings in which all the statesmen of the various countries met on friendly terms to discuss the affairs of the Continent. The same passion for congresses was to be observed in Talleyrand, Metternich, Hardenberg, and Nesselrode; it was a habit they had formed, a desire of appearing and playing an important part on the diplomatic stage. The Emperor Alexander was also fond of these great réunions because he was consulted as an arbiter, the[315] princes of Europe trusting both to his experience and to his magnanimity.

Nesselrode accompanied the Emperor to Troppau and Laybach; those who studied the character and deportment of both observed that their minds appeared to be undecided: there was a kind of uncertain hesitation between the liberal ideas they had lately entertained and the strongly repressive tendency advocated by Austria. Metternich made use of all his talents and influence to convince the Emperor of the dangers by which all the European sovereignties were threatened, if they did not decide upon one of those great military demonstrations which, by their overwhelming force, at once made an end of rebellion; when, just at the most critical moment, intelligence was brought to the Russian minister of a mutiny that had taken place in one of the regiments of guards at St. Petersburg. This news quickly determined the Emperor's opinion; Nesselrode received orders to enter with the utmost vigour into the plans proposed by Austria, and the downfall of Capo d'Istria appeared impending.

One thing must be particularly observed in this struggle between liberal principles and those of absolute dominion; and that is, that Capo d'Istria had always been the faithful interpreter of an idea of independence for Greece, consequently, when liberal opinions were in the ascendant, he was not likely to continue in favour. The great misfortune of the Greeks at this moment, and what retarded their emancipation, was the circumstance of their insurrection taking place at the same time as the revolt in Piémont and the proclamation of the constitution of the Cortes; rendering it difficult always to discriminate exactly between an unruly military movement which terrified the regular governments, and the noble spectacle of Greece, with a spirit worthy of her forefathers,[316] raising the holy symbol of her religion on her banners, stained and torn in many a former heroic struggle. Capo d'Istria's affection for Greece led to the loss of the Emperor's favour; and he, the protector of the Hellenists, was stabbed to the heart by a Greek,[49] affording a melancholy proof of the ingratitude of revolutions.

Then took place the intimate fusion of the Russian and Austrian system of politics, occasioning the absolute triumph of Metternich; and this situation was continued at the congress of Verona under Nesselrode, from that time forth sole minister of Russia, and chief of the chancellerie under Alexander. At the congress of Verona he held the pen, and all the resolutions regarding Spain were taken in concert; the diplomatic notes were drawn up by the two ministers together; Metternich wrote to the Austrian minister at Madrid, while Nesselrode, recalling the Russian ambassador, fulminated a sentence of proscription against the Cortes. It was no longer the liberal and generous Alexander they had to deal with, but an imperious prince, who, through his ministers, laid down the law in a sovereign and dogmatic manner. When M. de Villèle craftily objected for a short time to engage in an expensive and hazardous campaign, Nesselrode, without the slightest hesitation, wrote to him, in the name of the Emperor, that Russia was determined to venture every thing in order to repress the spirit of revolt in the Peninsula. The impulse was so powerful it was no longer possible to resist it.

The close of Alexander's life was greatly harassed by these feelings; the sacred cause of the Greeks weighed upon his mind as a subject of remorse, and the sorrow[317] it occasioned him was imprinted on his countenance, which now bore the appearance of ill health. Yet what was to be done? The panic of impending revolutions had seized upon his mind, and delivered him over to a thousand terrors, for his dread of the spirit of the secret societies was extreme. Liberalism filled him with alarm, he viewed it as a spectre threatening him with the seditions that might arise in his empire, and he did not comprehend that the most effectual means of employing the national effervescence of the Russians would have been to march them against Turkey for the deliverance of Greece. The causes of the unexpected death of Alexander have formed the subject of much inquiry; perhaps this acute sorrow was not entirely unconnected with it: he was a man of a deeply religious mind, with a mild disposition and a tender and impressionable heart; thus he felt deeply for the sufferings of Greece. Every stroke of a yataghan which caused the head of a woman or child to roll in the dust, among the ruins of Athens or Lacedæmon, made his heart bleed.

Soon after Alexander had been gathered to his fathers, a commotion, at once political and military, took place in Russia. In southern Europe people are not sufficiently acquainted with the character of the noble family of the Czar: there was a degree of enthusiasm in the filial affection entertained by the Emperor Alexander for his aged mother, and the deepest respect existed in the hearts of Constantine and Nicholas for their elder brother Alexander. His death took them all by surprise, and upon his tomb burst forth the military movement prepared by the secret societies, and by a generation of young officers, dreaming of the old Sclavonian independence.

Was the accession of the Emperor Nicholas likely to make any alteration in Nesselrode's position? One[318] powerful reason which operated against any diminution of the minister's influence was the respectful admiration of Nicholas for the policy and the opinions of his deceased brother, and being also inexperienced in business, he considered it indispensable to surround himself with the men who had been acquainted with the politics of Russia ever since the great epoch of 1814. These men of traditions are essential to governments; they preserve the history of all the precedents in the cabinets; they know what has been the conduct of Europe during a long series of years, what are the springs by which she has been actuated, and the acts she has been called upon to concert; comprising information of the most essential utility for the comprehension of treaties and the conduct of negotiations: besides this, it was impossible to deny that Nesselrode was possessed of very great ability in unravelling events, and had always shewn an enlightened, though passive obedience, to the wishes of his sovereign. The Emperor Nicholas, then, being desirous of continuing the policy of his brother, to whom could he better address himself than to the man who had had the direction of affairs during the last fifteen years? Nesselrode also enjoyed the esteem of the Empress-Mother; and what power that remarkable woman had exercised over political affairs! She alone always manifested a sovereign contempt for Napoleon—she alone swayed the mind of her son Alexander, even after Erfurt; and, according to the patriarchal fashion, all her children appeared, to a certain degree, to do homage to her for the crown, as if they owed the supreme power to her from whom they had derived their existence.

Nevertheless, Nesselrode soon found it necessary to modify his opinions. Ideas had advanced since the death of Alexander, and it was impossible to restrain the Russian spirit, which had decided in the most energetic[319] manner in favour of Greece; it therefore required military food, and a war was indispensable. The influence of Metternich over the cabinet of St. Petersburg daily lost ground from this moment, and Nesselrode began to draw off from Germany, and become more essentially Russian in his principles and ideas; he also began to take a decided turn in favour of the Greeks. Nor in this conduct ought he to be reproached with inconstancy, for the times and circumstances were no longer the same, the monarchical principle having triumphed every where, in Piémont as well as at Madrid and at Naples, while Poland appeared entirely subject to her viceroy Constantine. Under these circumstances it was less difficult to discern the holy and heroic principle of the Greek revolution, and to rekindle the ardent hope of an independence, acquired by means of so many pious sacrifices. From this new tendency of affairs, Nesselrode found himself the antagonist of Metternich, with whom he had hitherto been agreed; but the Russian interest now prevailed over the Austrian spirit.

The friendship between France and Russia dates from the year 1815, and was increased at the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, under the influence of the Duc de Richelieu; but at that period, as we learn from the despatches of Count Nesselrode, France was too much overwhelmed by the fatal consequences of the two invasions to take an active part in affairs, or afford a support that would make her alliance worth seeking by the various cabinets of Europe: but from the year 1819 France exhibited such a developement of vital powers and military energy, that Russia hastened to include her in her diplomatic means. The inclinations of the French cabinet turned in this direction, under the Duc de Richelieu and M. Dessolles; and they continued thus until the more[320] English administrations of Polignac, of Montmorency, and of Villèle. The ministry of M. de la Ferronays again was favourable to the Russian alliance; and the ties that now bound France to Russia were not merely those of gratitude for the services rendered at the restoration, but the well-grounded conviction that the Russian alliance could on no occasion injure our interests, but might, on the contrary, on many occasions augment our diplomatic influence and our territorial boundaries. The collection of the despatches of Nesselrode and Pozzo di Borgo during this interval, and all the diplomatic papers that exist in the Foreign Office, attest the good-will of the cabinet of St. Petersburg, and the offers made secretly by it to obtain the alliance and concurrence of France on the Eastern question.

Another cause which made this friendship so greatly desired, was the rivalry that had already become apparent between Russia and England. The system of the alliances in 1815 had overturned all the ancient diplomatic ideas, and all private jealousies had given way before the common object of Europe,—the destruction of Napoleon's power. But one great fault then committed by England was her inordinate augmentation of the power of Russia, thus, to a certain degree, creating her future omnipotence; for it was with the money and subsidies of England that the cabinet of St. Petersburg acquired the means of influencing for ever the southern interests. Nesselrode, who had been engaged in the greater part of the transactions of 1815, was obliged to detach himself from the traditions of the alliance of 1812, and great ability is required in order to make these transitions without abruptness; supple minds possess their influence as well as those of a more decided character, and ruin follows close upon the attempt to resist too much. Nesselrode is essentially the man of[321] transitions; he has never assumed an inflexible attitude in a system or an idea, but has constituted himself the translator of times and interests: from which cause, as I have before observed, it sometimes occurred that his opinions as chancelier d'état to the Emperor Nicholas were opposed to those he professed when he held the same situation under Alexander. The ideas of these two princes were not alike, neither were they placed in the same situations; yet Nesselrode served them both with the same fidelity and the same intelligence. It is a talent in public affairs to know how to make one's self the interpreter of another person; there are but a few of those very superior minds who, being deeply impressed with their own conceptions, obtain a dominion over times and characters, and even they frequently fall. But many very distinguished ministers never are able to attain that point of elevation, and, not daring to make themselves types, they are content with being impressions. They agree with all periods, all situations, and all difficulties.

From the accession of the Emperor Nicholas to the revolution of 1830, the Russian policy was in some measure absorbed by the war with the Porte. All the ancient theory of the Holy Alliance was abandoned for less undecided interests, and less fear was entertained concerning revolutions at the time the most complete revolution took place. Whatever judgment may be formed of the event of 1830, it must suddenly have awakened a new train of emotions in the Russian chancellerie; for the popular principle which had caused this violent irruption had demonstrated as much energy, as did formerly the military power of Napoleon, against whom all Europe had risen in arms. The old education of Nesselrode was here destined again to be of service to him; for the first consequence of the revolt was, though[322] not exactly to revive the treaties of the Holy Alliance, an old parchment which had fallen to pieces, at least to pave the way for a treaty of mutual guarantee. All private dissensions were naturally compelled to give way, that people might hasten to provide against the most pressing danger; Metternich appeared entirely to resume his former ideas, as if he were returning to the projects of 1815, and the diplomatic school abandoned many serious plans for the chances of a crusade against democratic principles. We are inclined to think Nesselrode did not dislike this reminiscence of the principles of political repression, being those which he most perfectly understood, and which he had particularly dwelt upon during his early years of study and labour: but age had now supervened; in 1830 Nesselrode was no longer young, and it is not at the second period of existence people are able to encounter the great perturbations which shake the world to its centre. In recapitulating the causes of the maintenance of peace, people have not sufficiently considered the dread of change that possessed those wearied existences. Truly, it was not without reason that the Greeks placed in the hands of the aged the decision concerning peace or war. Let us suppose Metternich with the impetuosity of youth, and Nesselrode fifteen years younger, who can tell what might have occurred? Perhaps a violent war might have broken out, and with it all the chances of disorder.

The insurrection in Poland, however, gave plenty of occupation to Russia, and the ideas of the Emperor Nicholas on the subject of repression harmonised perfectly with those of his minister. What the Russian people desired was the union of Poland to Russia; and the amalgamation, which had so long been the constant subject of Nesselrode's thoughts, was, at last, on the[323] point of being finally accomplished. He never fully entered into the prejudices of the old Muscovites on this point, but he, nevertheless, was of opinion that this divided nation, this double and simultaneous government, injured the political and administrative unity of Russia.

The divers administrations which constitute the vast Russian empire, and which all tend to one common centre, under the hand of the Emperor, are, as a whole, very remarkable. Ever since the constituent assembly established an unity of administration in France, our system of government has no longer cause to dread that, in a homogeneous whole, one province or one district will be opposed to another; their strength has been blended in a manner very convenient to those in power. But it is far otherwise in Russia: the cabinet of St. Petersburg has to command thousands of different races—Tartars, Mahometans, Poles, and Cossacks; each of these people has its laws, its customs, its power, and its recollections, and it is necessary to maintain this individuality without detracting from the unity of the system. There is neither one general rule observed in the mode of levying the taxes, nor even, in a great measure, is there any undeviating rule for the military conscription. Some pay tribute, others are subject to contributions of arms and horses; in some places the recruits are furnished by the nobles, in others they are obtained by means of levées en masse; some people are still subject to feudal government under the Czar, and others, again, depend on the regular and immediate authority of the princes. In France the administrative clockwork is so simple that nothing but a will and a hand for business are required to set it in motion; nothing can be easier than the situation of a prefect, or even of a minister for the home[324] department; interests, rights, and customs, are all sacrificed to the strength of the government.

All these circumstances lead to the necessity in Russia of a more careful and more finished education for a statesman; for a young man who is preparing for a diplomatic situation at St. Petersburg, must not only be acquainted with French and German, but must also understand modern Greek and some of the Oriental languages. Nesselrode, in spite of his long experience, has been obliged to submit to the general rule; and a considerable portion of his life has been devoted to the study of living languages. His mind has become a repertory of treaties, he is a living catalogue of all the transactions of his time. The offices over which he presides are the most extensive, the most multiplied, and the most minute that can be imagined; there is a division for the relations with Persia, another for those with China, and with the little Mahometan princes, independent of those for the secret correspondence with the chiefs of the various tribes lately conquered by Russia. Nesselrode presides over all these affairs of the chancellerie with an activity nothing can slacken: his extreme facility in the despatch of business, and his laborious existence in the midst of the European relations, have naturally confirmed his credit with the Czar; who is also accustomed to act very much for himself, and only requires a minister as a sort of memorandum-book he can consult when he pleases, and as a faithful arm to execute his will. During the last five years the system of diplomatic aides-de-camp has been revived in full force, for the Emperor likes those semi-military appointments, which give a constantly armed attitude to Russia; in fact, it is one of the active sources of his moral influence.


Nesselrode, it is true, is only the enlightened hand which writes the will of the Emperor; he is valued as a man of good counsel, which means, that he listens a great deal, and that he can discover the secret thoughts of the person that consults him, without himself having any of those determined plans which clash with the will of the sovereign.

The junior diplomatic school of Russia regard Nesselrode as a living archive, something in the way M. d'Hauterive was considered in France; and it is of great importance that a person who is called to direct the affairs of his country in the present times should be well acquainted with its former history—it also adds greatly to the elevation of his position. The temperate system, adopted by men weary of agitation, is a great benefit when opposed to the fiery spirits who wish to proceed with impetuosity in public affairs. The proud and generous disposition of the Emperor renders it necessary he should have at his side a man who will not execute his orders till the following day, because time is thus afforded for reflection, and an order issued to-day might very possibly be revoked after the lapse of a night; on these occasions there is a great advantage in a man of a temperate mind.

Nesselrode has, in every respect, the most agreeable salon in St. Petersburg, and the one where the most conversation goes on. He takes pleasure in collecting people who hold the most various opinions, in such a manner as to form a neutral ground, on which every body may meet; and when a man has reached a venerable age, full of years and of honours, what more can be desired? our tent must be pitched somewhere. When for forty years, people have been engaged in the most gigantic events, like the aged men in Homer, they offer hospitality to the young, when they recount to them all[326] they have seen, and the judgment they have formed; they contemplate the present generation with the feelings experienced by a traveller who, from an elevated tower, looks down on the cities far below him, and the people incessantly busy, and thronging to perform the part assigned to them in the weary task of humanity.



I am about to write the life of a statesman whose character has been more violently attacked in the annals of England—I might almost say of Europe—than any other with whom I am acquainted. No one ever had to endure more outrages and insults, and no one ever displayed more inflexible firmness, in the course of a most chequered and agitated life. I shall offend many little prejudices, and hurt many vulgar opinions; but things of this sort have never prevented me from proceeding straight to the truths of history, respecting men who have accomplished a great political career.

On the picturesque Lake Foyle[50] in Ireland, whose shores are studded with ancient mansions, and whose waters are diversified with fertile islands, inhabited by little colonies of aged fishermen, a young man of eccentric manners, but whose appearance denoted a being of a superior class to those around him, had for two years fixed his residence. His only habitation was his boat: fishing, hunting, and violent exercises, filled up his time; and in the evening, surrounded by the fishermen, he made them relate to him all the old legendary tales of the country, and, in his turn, instructing the inhabitants of the district, he drew up laws respecting fishing, and hunting,[328] as if he were the sovereign of this watery republic. No one could exhibit more intrepidity than did this singular being. Upon one occasion he set sail in his frail bark, in the strait that separates Ireland from England; and his shipwreck on the Isle of Man, where he had alone managed his yacht in a stormy sea, like one of the Ossianic heroes, was long recorded by the peasantry. His dreams were of the legends of the lake; and being deeply enamoured of the daughter of one of the fishermen named Nelly, he sacrificed every thing to this ardent and romantic passion, wearing simply the dress of the children of the lake, for he loved and was desirous of being beloved again. Enthusiastic and passionate in his feelings, he would endure no contradiction; and an attempt having one day been made to deprive him of his mistress, he defied his rival to a duel after the Scandinavian fashion—that is to say with battle-axes—and conducted himself with a degree of intrepidity that was celebrated all over Great Britain.

This young man, whose eccentricity took so poetical a form, for his youth was like a ballad, was Robert Stewart, afterwards Viscount Castlereagh and Marquess of Londonderry. His family was not originally Irish, but came from Scotland. James I., as every one is aware, created some great fiefs in Ireland, and bestowed them upon some of his most faithful subjects, in the hope of more closely uniting Ireland to the British empire. Eight of these fiefs, with a kind of suzeraineté, fell to the share of the Duke of Lennox; and the Stewarts, that noble name in Scotland, no doubt allied to the royal line, held some of the lands subject to the Lennox family. It has always been the fate of Ireland to be under the dominion of strangers to her soil; the yoke of conquest becomes more heavy after each impatient tumult. Her oppression arises from her disturbed condition; each[329] unsuccessful revolt produces additional servitude, and much of her suffering is owing to the crime of the popular agitators, who are instigated by nothing but their own insatiable vanity to endeavour to destroy all old and respectable national feeling.

The Stewarts, however, decided in favour of William III., and of what is termed in England the glorious Revolution. As possessors of military fiefs they were naturally inclined to second the accession of a new dynasty, by whom their usurpation of the conquered country was likely to be sanctioned. When great alterations have taken place in the rights and tenure of property, a change of power is required, and, indeed, is almost indispensable to restore peace and quiet to the country. The Orangemen, therefore, formed a closely-united party in Ireland, and exercised military dominion over the people. In vain did the unfortunate James, in his rapid passage through Ireland, cause the parliament of Dublin to pronounce a sentence of confiscation, on account of felony, against the estates of Colonel Stewart, serving under William of Orange. This confiscation continued in force but a short time; and William, having gained the victory, lavished his rewards upon the officer who had so powerfully supported his cause. William Stewart, thus loaded with wealth by the king of 1688, was one of the most determined oppressors of Ireland—one of those who ruled with a rod of iron the country reconquered after the battle of the Boyne.

The young man dwelling among the fishermen on the shores of the lake, therefore, came of a noble lineage; and his mother was a Seymour, named Sarah-Frances, like the Puritan dames who have been re-animated by the genius of Walter Scott. Robert Stewart, like the rest of the youth of Great Britain, had pursued his studies at the University of Cambridge; and, on leaving[330] college, he had precipitated himself into this romantic sort of life, some said from his love for the fisherman's daughter, while others, on the contrary, declared such a passage was merely incidental to his eccentric life, like a wreath of wild flowers on the brow of a Scandinavian warrior. He, however, led a generous life, for money appeared to be of no value to him; and he spent largely in constructing little ports for the fishermen, and distributing among them boats of a superior construction, like a beneficent deity. Such is the great source of the power enjoyed by the English aristocracy. While their public life is passed in the midst of cities, their private life is in the country. All that was benevolent in the old feudal system is still to be found in their castles: from their turrets flow the alms still, as in ancient times, conferred upon the people; the donjon is converted into a dispensary, where medicines and assistance are afforded to the sick. And thus the aristocracy reign over the peasantry, in virtue of the powerful aid they are ready to afford to all who require it in their neighbourhood.

Nevertheless, the wish to distinguish himself in public life began to animate the heart of young Stewart. Parliament appears necessary to the youth of Great Britain, and it is there they prepare themselves for political life, taking their place among the Whigs or Tories according to a certain order of political principles. It was necessary the Stewarts should have seats in the Irish parliament, for they had a great stake in the country; but, owing to the family being Protestants, the election was violently contested, and cost the successful candidate thirty thousand pounds. These corruptions are a general rule in England, and they even add to the strength of the country; for there is no danger a bad choice should result from them, every thing being fixed according to settled rules; every thing is so well foreseen and organised by[331] the mechanical arrangements made, that the elections that take place are always of men of safe principles. Pecuniary corruption in the existence of states often acts as a corrective of another, and far more injurious, corruption for a people—I mean ideas tending to revolutionary principles.

The Irish parliament, then still existing, was a great cause of disorder in the unity of the British government, until the illustrious Pitt placed every thing under the common law of the triple crown. There is something strange and perfectly inconsistent in the pretensions of Ireland. The people profess to respect the Union without ever wishing to depart from it; and then they claim a parliament for themselves, and desire something resembling a republic independent of England. Let them exult in their Catholic emancipation; they have a right to do so, and cannot value it too highly. But do they wish still to make part of the British empire?—do they wish the harp of Erin still to hold her place on the escutcheon of England? Alone, Ireland cannot subsist. Her commerce is supported by the vast trade of England: she only exists by means of the colonies, and the day she ceases to be English she will be ruined. What, then, is the meaning of all those revolts, those protests on all occasions, which serve no purpose except that of conferring a certain sort of renown upon street orators and demagogues?

The election of Robert Stewart, however, though anti-Catholic, was not ministerial; for he promised on the hustings to support parliamentary reform, and on taking his seat in the House of Commons he placed himself on the opposition benches. This was a sort of sacrifice to popularity necessary from all statesmen at the beginning of their career, and the most powerful have not been exempt from paying this tribute to rhetoric. However,[332] even at that time, young Stewart appeared to keep within certain limits of order and principles; and, avoiding declamation, he spoke seriously, and restrained himself while speaking. He was not an orator with a sonorous, reverberating voice, who, by means of biting epigrams, drew peals of laughter from his auditors. His speeches bore the impress of the Toryism of his family, and all his inclinations were those of an eminently Conservative mind.

England and Ireland were at this time agitated more especially by two questions; the first was parliamentary reform, and the other the free commerce of Ireland with the colonies. On the first of these points, the Castlereagh family, like the Wellesleys, considered it absurd to impose upon the Catholics a conscientious oath, which would exclude them from participating in the benefit of the elections; but, at the same time, was it not very unwise to prepare an indefinite reform, which would overturn the whole of the social condition of Great Britain? It was with a view to the admission of the Catholics into parliament that the Irish Tories became friends with the opposition; they shewed themselves favourably inclined to the emancipation of those who differed with them in belief, and at the same time opposed to radical reform: and this last subject was the cause of Castlereagh's withdrawal from the Irish agitators, who now began to aim murderous blows at the Union.

Robert Stewart, also, considered that Ireland could not with justice be deprived of an extensive commerce with the colonies. What was the use of a system which made all the advantages fall to the share of England and Scotland, without allowing the essentially agricultural population of Ireland, to participate in them? Young Stewart defended the interests of Ireland with energy and great ability, and he immediately attracted the attention[333] of those in power, more especially the Marquis of Buckingham and Lord Westmoreland.

The rebellion in Ireland took place at this juncture; the people were determined to separate themselves from the English crown; the time was past when the questions raised by the opposition were those of religious liberty or political independence; they now wanted to establish a sort of Irish republic, under the protection of the democracy that was then setting Europe in a blaze. Treasonable correspondence with the French republic could not fail to place the society of United Irishmen without the pale of the constitution and of all patriotic feelings. Ireland called for the assistance of foreigners, and a strong party was naturally formed to oppose these evil designs. The Orangemen, who sided with the government, organised the yeomanry—a sort of feudal system against the insurgents, and a civil war broke out in Ireland at the time of the expeditions to their coasts, commanded by Generals Hoche and Humbert. The members of parliament could not venture on further hesitation; for it was necessary either to take part with the United Irishmen supported by foreigners, or to declare for the government of Mr. Pitt. Robert Stewart, who had just acquired the title of Castlereagh, upon his father being created Earl of Londonderry, exhibited no indecision as to the course he was to pursue, and from this time forth he was always firmly convinced that the only real statesmen are those who know how to repress the tumultuous movements of popular excitement.

He now devoted himself to repressive measures, with the energy that formed the basis of his character. He had been appointed secretary for Ireland under Lord Camden, and by this means became identified with the Orange party. It was principally owing to his vigorous measures that the insurrection was brought to a termination,[334] for he never was arrested by any of the trifling obstacles which often form the ruin of causes; he considered it necessary the government should display perfect inflexibility, for the salvation of the country was at stake: amnesties were granted, it is true, but not until the tumult was over and the rebels had laid down their arms. During this struggle Lord Castlereagh was particularly distinguished for the strength and importance he conferred upon the Orange party, consisting of men of property who were formed into a body for the defence of their land. Lord Cornwallis was able, after a time, to succeed Lord Camden in the government of Ireland, and the repressive system had then produced such a state of security, that the government considered the season of pardon and oblivion to have arrived.

The most violent hatred was now aroused against Lord Castlereagh: it is, alas! the fate of all who by violent means restore order in a country, for they occasion discontent, and all the spirits whose turbulence had troubled the country are, of course, opposed to them; because their proceedings have been severe, people insist that they have been sanguinary. These invectives of the Irish did not permit Lord Cornwallis to retain Lord Castlereagh as secretary, he therefore gave in his resignation; for, in peaceful times, the men who commanded during the storm are no longer required, and when the tempest is over the services of the hardy pilot are scarcely remembered: thus Marquis Cornwallis, whose government was distinguished for its indulgence, no longer required the inflexible hand of the former secretary. No part of his conduct, however, had escaped the vast intellect of the statesman then at the head of the English government. Mr. Pitt had discovered the secretary for Ireland to possess an inflexible mind, which, when once convinced of the expediency of[335] any measure, was capable of making every exertion, and encountering every risk, in order to carry out an idea he had formed; and this kind of disposition must have been particularly satisfactory to Mr. Pitt at a time when England was threatened with so many dangers. In unsettled times, the presence of men of firm and determined characters, who will prevent society from falling to pieces, is of the greatest importance to a government. From this moment, a communication took place between Pitt and Lord Castlereagh. The great minister required a powerful supporter in the definitive question of the parliamentary union of Ireland and England; for the late disturbances, and more especially the unfortunate appeal to a foreign power, and to the leaders of the French revolution, had inspired Mr. Pitt with a firm conviction, that neither strength nor order were to be hoped for, except through the means of the Union, and that the existence of the Irish parliament was in direct opposition to the spirit of centralisation, which can alone secure the prosperity and glory of a country. After every insurrection Ireland was losing some portion of her freedom,—a fate always prepared by agitators for those who trust too much to their words! A nation obtains concessions only when it remains in a quiescent position, and when its well-founded complaints are uttered with calm sobriety of manner; silent suffering produces a great effect on the minds of the beholders, and the feeling of justice exercises an unspeakable influence. Lord Castlereagh in the Irish parliament made himself the zealous champion of Mr. Pitt, in his plan for uniting the two parliaments; the country comprehended the advantages to be derived from this measure, and it was decided that the three crowns of England, Scotland, and Ireland, ought to form one great whole, which would hereafter be the support of the Continent[336] when threatened with danger. Pitt was highly satisfied with Lord Castlereagh's speech for the Union; he was summoned by the ministerial party to the united House of Commons, and appointed president of the Board of Control for the affairs of India. This is one of the appointments conferred in England by the ministers upon the talented men with whom they surround themselves, for the sake of their support in parliament.

No man could be better acquainted with the situation of Ireland than Lord Castlereagh, or more perfectly aware of all the resources of the Orange party which could be employed for the purpose of repression. This knowledge rendered him a person of great importance, for the prime minister was then anxious to put into execution the union between England and Ireland, which had been decided upon in parliament, and Lord Castlereagh, who by his profound acquaintance with the moral topography of Ireland was the man most calculated to realise this design, was consulted upon all the measures to be pursued. Mr. Pitt especially possessed the practical genius which enabled him to discover men of particular capacity, and around him were a multitude of young and clever men, each with his appointed station and employment. The system of under-secretaries of state in England produces wonderful results; it gives to affairs their full developement, enabling the statesman to confine himself to generalities, both of ideas and systems, while the young under-secretaries devote all their energies to the statistics of detail and the internal administration. Thus was Lord Castlereagh situated; a man of an inflexible and laborious disposition, who never arrived at a general idea except by means of the most careful and minute study of all the circumstances.

This special knowledge of affairs caused Lord Castlereagh to be retained even during Mr. Addington's ministry,[337] which lasted but a very short time, and was succeeded by Mr. Pitt's still more decided plans against the French revolution. Addington signed the peace of Amiens, and Castlereagh, as president of the Board of Trade, had to deliberate upon all the measures which augmented the commercial relations of England with India and the colonies. He assumed no position as a political character, for he did not agree with the ideas entertained by Addington, and he, therefore, completely gave himself up to his duties at the Board of Control and to the affairs of Ireland. His heart was full of detestation for France, and, in imitation of his master, he allowed this administration to pass without taking any part in it. As a reward for his conduct on this occasion, Pitt, on resuming his situation at the head of affairs, gave him the portfolio of the War department.

It is necessary to observe that Pitt's great ambition was that all the various departments should be entirely dependent upon him; he did not like to have any men about him except those of his school, or immediately attached to his system,—his fides Achates, as they were classically termed by Dundas; and among these young men the names of Castlereagh and Canning are especially resplendent: both were subject to his power, but of essentially opposite characters, and jealous of each other. Castlereagh was so firm and decided, that he never gave up an idea he had once formed; his manner of speaking was slow, and rather heavy, but serious, and never thoughtless. Canning, on the contrary, was sarcastic, and rather inclined to classic declamation; an orator, rather spoiled from a constant striving after effect. Castlereagh was often listened to with impatience, nevertheless, he generally attained his object; while Canning, by the generality of people, was only viewed in the light of an eloquent speaker. Castlereagh was a statesman; Canning,[338] a man of words, rather theatrical, not to be relied on, and with an indescribable levity of language and purpose. Castlereagh would have laid down his life for his party, or for an idea; Canning was a renegade to his party, he supported every thing with ability, and gloried in his oratorical triumphs, at the very time he was compromising his cabinet.

When Pitt, their illustrious chief, died broken-hearted by the victory of Austerlitz, the king considered it indispensable, in order to conclude a peace with France, that Fox and Grenville, the leaders of the Whigs, should assume the ministry; it was an unfortunate attempt, often repeated in England. Fox, and all his friends, shewed themselves perfectly devoid of political knowledge, and they also evinced extreme incapacity, which gave occasion to the remark that a Whig ministry was a misfortune both for the country and for the party itself; for the country, because it compromises it, and for the party, because the Whigs always forfeit their reputation, throwing away, in a ministry which lasted fifteen months, the fruit of fifteen years of popularity. As might be expected, Canning and Castlereagh were the most violent opponents of Fox's cabinet. The debates in parliament during this ministry form a curious study; Canning and Castlereagh did not like each other, though they were on the same side of the question, and this was mainly owing to the difference in their talents, as well as in the character of their minds and intellects. Castlereagh attacked the administration by means of reasoning, an appeal to figures, and a sort of traditional influence, which produced a great effect upon the Tories; while Canning, on the contrary, trusted to poetical sallies, or ridicule. Above all, Fox was out of place at the head of affairs.

Men whose whole life is passed in attacking others,[339] are essentially in a bad position when they assume the direction of affairs; they are unable to breathe, they are neither free nor happy in this sphere, for it is not congenial to them. The men of business, on the contrary, who are for a short time in the opposition, become very dangerous opponents, especially if they possess a flow of language and a quick and earnest manner; as they have seen a great deal, they preserve an incontestable degree of authority while reproaching the opposition with succeeding no better than they did when in power, and with imitating awkwardly the very conduct they had formerly attacked with great violence. The men who declaim are not to be feared; the only really formidable adversaries are those who have had much experience in the course of events.

The wretched administration of Lord Grey, after the death of Fox, was a continuation of the Whig politics. His lordship had at all times been rather the bulwark than leader of his party, and the tool of the able men who availed themselves of his high reputation: there are generally in politics some characters who serve as a stalking-horse for certain opinions; they have a great name, which is taken hold of, to be employed or absorbed according to circumstances.

The ministry of Lord Grey, and Grenville, only lasted for a few months after the death of Fox, for the continental questions began to assume so serious an aspect that it was not possible for the Whigs to direct them. Fox had been desirous of a peace with France—one of those bastard truces attempted by Addington at the peace of Amiens; but how was it possible there should be peace between two such proud and powerful authorities as Napoleon and the English aristocracy? the irrevocable fall of one or other of the parties was inevitable. Austerlitz had given birth to Fox's ministry,[340] and the awaking of Prussia from the torpor in which she had been plunged brought about the fall of the Whigs. The Duke of Portland, belonging to the moderate Tory party, undertook the difficult and painful task of directing the affairs of Great Britain, and the two most determined and unvarying opponents of the former administration were naturally included in the present ministry: as I have before observed, they were men of perfectly different characters. Castlereagh returned to the War Office, with the detail of which he was perfectly well acquainted; and Canning was appointed minister for foreign affairs, as being the favourite pupil of Pitt and the inheritor of his doctrines.

From this time a peace with France was no longer thought of; that idea gave place to the determination to engage in a fierce and implacable war against Napoleon, who had now reached the apogée of his glory, and on this point the opinion of Lord Castlereagh was firm and unvarying. His great object was to find the leaven of war, on that continent now humbled under the sword of the Emperor; and, by means of secret springs, to arouse the governments and people, crushed beneath his gigantic power. The influence of France extended from Cadiz to Hamburg, from Antwerp to Trieste; Austria had made peace with her after the sad defeat at Austerlitz; and Prussia, after appearing for a moment as if roused to resistance, had again bowed beneath the yoke. Germany was subject to the Confederation of the Rhine; Switzerland to the predominant mediation of the French empire; Italy was in a state of vassalage under the Iron crown; at Tilsit a friendship had been formed between Russia and France, and the two emperors were about to meet again at Erfurt, to cement the alliance projected at Tilsit, and divide the world between them.

England, therefore, stood alone in the struggle now[341] fiercely undertaken against Napoleon. Castlereagh, who held the same opinions that Mr. Pitt had done, resolutely rejected every attempt at peace with a power whose principle had hitherto been to grasp at every thing, and which appeared resolved it should continue so to be. The Duke of Portland had a degree of rashness, and something chivalrous, in his disposition, which led him to engage boldly in the struggle; and the new connexion between Lord Castlereagh and the Duke of Wellington gave him a sort of pre-eminence in the cabinet, which offended the vanity of Canning. Like all political speakers, the minister for foreign affairs aimed at power, and, because he possessed a happy facility in quoting some classical verses acquired at the University, he considered himself fitted to occupy a higher situation than Castlereagh, whose speech was slow and embarrassed. This jealousy increased after the brilliant expedition to Copenhagen, in which the minister of war had displayed very great ability, and the arrangements of which were so perfectly successful that the Danish fleet remained in the power of the English. The opposition in vain declared it was an iniquitous action, contrary to all the principles of the law of nations: but necessity has no law; and was it not absolutely necessary that Great Britain should prevent the coalition of the Danish squadron and the fleet of Antwerp? The lukewarm neutrality of Denmark was not a sufficient guarantee to England, and it was indispensable either to force that government to declare itself, or to destroy a fleet which lay too near the formidable arsenal of Napoleon. Mr. Canning was very jealous of his ministerial colleague; he had always considered himself to hold the first place since the death of Mr. Pitt, and he could not bear that another should share in this renown: this enmity soon burst forth in a striking manner.


The active diplomatic proceedings of England on the Continent had excited the fears of Austria, as to the probable results of a war; the interview at Erfurt determined the cabinet of Vienna to take arms against Napoleon, and England immediately contracted a league of offence and defence with Austria, based upon subsidies which she agreed to furnish.

It was well known that, ever since the commencement of the war in Spain, great dissatisfaction had existed in the French empire against the insatiable ambition of Buonaparte; and several ministers, as for instance Talleyrand and Fouché, had begun to look forward to the possibility of the death or downfall of the Emperor. When generals like Bernadotte were out of favour, one might easily imagine that, in case of the death of Napoleon, or of a military insurrection, the vast empire raised by one man would fall into complete decay and dissolution. This was, from henceforward, the groundwork of the plans of England. It was intended an English army should land in Holland, at the same time that Austria should open the war by an immense military demonstration, and thus effect a rapid popular insurrection. The thing Lord Castlereagh considered of the most importance was the destruction of the fleet and arsenal of Antwerp, in the same manner as the capture of the Danish fleet had formerly been effected; he therefore, as minister of war, made immense preparations for the Walcheren expedition; but,—must it be said?—here commenced the treachery of Mr. Canning towards his country and his colleague. It is incontestable that Mr. Canning furnished information to Fouché, to let him know the intentions of Lord Castlereagh;[51] for when[343] jealousy has taken possession of the heart it listens to nothing. As to his conduct towards his colleague, Canning persuaded the Duke of Portland to get rid of Lord Castlereagh, as a man of a harsh and inflexible disposition, incapable of conducting the war department, or of directing or supporting a debate. In parliament, Mr. Canning wanted to rule over the Tory party, and Lord Castlereagh was an obstacle to his ambitious designs.

The Walcheren expedition failed, and explanations naturally took place between the colleagues. Unfortunate catastrophes are always followed by harsh and bitter words, because no one is willing to stand by the consequences. A feeling was raised against Lord Castlereagh, who was denounced by the Whigs as unfit for his situation. "How had it happened," said they, "that a fine English army had been thus plunged into sickness and misery?" Lord Castlereagh was obliged to defend himself, and the storm which was growling around him rendered it impossible for him to retain his situation; but he wrote a sharp and angry letter, openly accusing Canning, if not of actual treason, at least of underhand practices, which had occasioned all these disasters. Canning replied in a confused manner, by details on the delays that had taken place in the departure of troops, and the wrong address of the despatches; he was only ardent and cutting when he came to personal recriminations against Castlereagh, who, deeply offended, sent a challenge to his adversary. He was thus returning to the early and poetic part of his existence, to the reminiscences of the eccentric youth on the shores of Lough Foyle, where he had fought a duel in the Scandinavian fashion; and now, when he was a serious and reflecting statesman, he considered that in personal questions the only means of terminating a[344] quarrel was by a personal encounter. Canning and Castlereagh fought with pistols: in England people are ready to lay down their lives for an idea or a system; both were brave men, and would not draw back, but Castlereagh was the most fortunate, for Canning was severely wounded. The resignation of the minister of war was nevertheless accepted, while Canning continued in office, and the Duke of Portland pursued the middle course which had occasioned the rupture between his two colleagues.

The situation of parties and of affairs is sometimes such, that a man is possessed of more influence when out of the cabinet than when he actually forms one of the ministry; and the firm and inflexible attitude of Lord Castlereagh, and his implacable hatred towards France, secured him a degree of ascendancy among the Tories, which Canning had striven for in vain. The Wellesleys, then rendered so powerful by the successes of the Duke of Wellington, shared their credit with the ex-minister; and he followed in parliament the energetic political system which infallibly leads to the downfall of all feeble or temporising measures. The ministry of the Duke of Portland and Mr. Canning had already taken some steps towards peace with Buonaparte, but Castlereagh was constantly opposed to it; he agreed with the ministers whenever repressive measures, or any plan favourable to Conservative ideas was in debate, but opposed them when they were inclined to make any concessions to Whiggism, or the idea of peace. By this skilful conduct he gradually rose in public estimation, and when the unfortunate death of Mr. Perceval occasioned the dissolution of the ministry, the Tories proposed Lord Castlereagh as minister for foreign affairs in the room of Mr. Canning.

The situation of Europe at this time rendered it imperatively necessary that the conduct of England should[345] be decided and full of energy. Though it can hardly be said that war was actually on the point of breaking out on the Continent, there were every where the elements of an universal conflagration: Spain had hoisted the signal of independence, and the English armies extended in the Peninsula, from Lisbon to Cadiz. Immediately after he had taken charge of the Foreign Office, Lord Castlereagh was called upon to explain himself concerning the question of peace or war with France. Buonaparte was then on the eve of undertaking the Russian campaign, and in order to give an undeniable proof of his pacific inclinations, and also as a lure to public opinion, he caused M. Maret to write to Lord Castlereagh, proposing peace upon what he termed easy and simple conditions, which reduced themselves to the following points. At Naples and at Madrid, the actual dynasty, and in Portugal and Sicily also the reigning dynasty (without any further explanation). The English minister, being closely connected with Russia, had little inclination to treat with Napoleon; and it was no doubt sarcastically that he proposed the following question to M. Maret,—"First of all, it is necessary to understand what dynasty you are speaking of; in Spain, is it Ferdinand VII. or Joseph Buonaparte? At Naples, is it the House of Bourbon or Murat, that is considered as the actual dynasty?" And when M. Maret replied that his majesty Don Joseph and his majesty Joachim were meant, Lord Castlereagh, with proper spirit, declared any further proceedings were out of the question, because he had nothing to do with these usurpers,—it was only with the legitimate sovereigns of Spain and Naples that England had any connexion. The accession of the leader of the active Tory party, therefore, caused the politics of England to assume a firmer attitude respecting all the affairs of Europe. When Buonaparte undertook his[346] adventurous expedition against Russia, the English minister turned his closest and most careful attention upon Turkey and Sweden, both of which possessed powerful means of action. The negotiation feebly entered into by the agents of M. Maret, had been rendered abortive by the abrupt and imperative character of Buonaparte; and Lord Castlereagh, more fortunate and more adroit, went direct to his object with regard to Bernadotte and the Porte. He knew the Crown Prince was displeased with the haughtiness of Napoleon, and offered him subsidies if he would maintain a strict neutrality, reserving to himself the chance of future events. In his relations with Europe he was still more fortunate in bringing about the peace of Bucharest, which left the Czar master of all his forces. This plan of increasing the strength of the enemies of Buonaparte, and thus depriving him of the necessary alliances, was an admirable mode of attack. The peace of Bucharest enabled the Czar to advance with the army, which attacked Napoleon on the flank and encircled him in its vast coils; and the neutrality observed by Sweden permitted to Russia the disposition of her forces near Riga—a circumstance that did more towards causing the defection of Prussia than people are aware.

The active mind of Lord Castlereagh, and the determined energy which distinguished his character, were more especially manifested in the European movement which led to the fall of Napoleon. In 1813, the whole continent was full of English agents; they were everywhere—at Vienna, at Berlin, and at Stockholm, and even among the secret societies of Germany: for the Tories perceived that the time was come for them to act with vigour, and put an end to the power by which they had so long been threatened. Parliament never presented a more animated or truly national spectacle,[347] or evinced a more unanimous devotion to the cause supported by the old English aristocracy; no sacrifice appeared too great, and subsidies were granted almost without limitation. The disasters of Moscow had inflamed all hearts, and with the assistance of one magic word, Liberation, the plans most hostile to Napoleon were realised. Treaties of alliance and subsidy were concluded by Lord Castlereagh with almost all the powers of Europe; and in order more completely to identify himself with his system, the minister appointed his brother, Sir Charles Stewart, to a special mission to the courts of Prussia and Sweden. This officer, now Marquis of Londonderry, was sent as commissioner with the English armies, and has himself published his despatches addressed to him whom he mentions as his illustrious brother. The English commissioners, who all received appointments both military and political, were at the same time soldiers, negotiating agents, and commandants of troops. We see in these despatches the painful efforts made by Sir Charles Stewart to produce some degree of unity in the coalesced camp. As England was paying armies to the right and left, with unheard-of liberality, she was desirous of retaining the political direction of events in her own hands, and as this supremacy encountered obstacles raised by the spirit of calculation and of self-love, it was necessary to be perpetually engaged in discussions with the generals-in-chief and the government. Sir Charles was at that time a young man, with a warm temper and some pride of birth; and Bernadotte, in spite of his doubtful position, preserved a certain degree of personal dignity: this led to perpetual differences of opinion, and even to quarrels, which required the skilful and moderate interference of the Russian commissioner, Count Pozzo di Borgo. Sir Charles having conceived a feeling of mistrust regarding[348] Bernadotte, no doubt with reason, watched him closely, and his elevated position as brother to the Prime Minister of England invested him with an undoubted superiority in all negotiations. The attitude of England at that time was so proud! I am not acquainted with any period in the history of empires more magnificent, from the energy displayed, than that of England from the year 1792 to 1814; and this energy led to the general rising of Europe against Napoleon. Castlereagh was the soul of it, for the elements of which the English ministry were then composed were subject to his power; indeed when a character of great strength is anywhere met with, every thing gives way to his influence, for a superior mind never fails to be acknowledged. Lord Liverpool was no doubt a man of great consideration, and he held the first place officially in the cabinet; but when Europe began to rouse herself from her sleep, Castlereagh gave so powerful an impulse to the English diplomacy that it very soon ruled the world: let us now see what an immense task she had to perform.

Europe, with all her desire of acting vigorously against Buonaparte, possessed neither money nor credit, and this to such a degree, that Prussia, for instance, had not a million of florins at her disposal; England not only provided subsidies, but also the means of negotiating loans: she became security for Prussia, Austria, and Russia; thus taking upon herself the credit of the world. The whole of the subsidies were not paid in money—arms, clothing, and provisions were also sent; and this extraordinary effort gave employment to her machinery, work to the labouring classes, and immense occupation to her mercantile navy. Her inexhaustible liberality demanded in return the abatement of the tariffs and free entry for her manufactures; by which means she regained a great portion of the advantages she afforded.[349] In order to be convinced of this, it is only necessary to consult the rate of exchange for that period, which was almost always in favour of London; that is to say, that while she appeared to be furnishing money, it was merely changing the location of her funds. Hamburg, Frankfort, Vienna, and Berlin, were in debt to London, and the loans thus compensated themselves; shewing the prodigious strength of the commercial principle, and the magnificent power of an aristocratic state, directed by a superior mind.

The principal object Lord Castlereagh had in view was to bring about a degree of persevering unity in the European coalition; it was the ruling idea of Mr. Pitt and the labour of his life: but the statesman had so often failed in his object. The weakness of Europe against Buonaparte resulted from its divisions, from its conflicting interests, and the separation of one cabinet from another; it was therefore necessary to unite them all in one common cause, and this was not the least difficult task he had to perform. If they might reckon upon the willingness of Russia to proceed to extremities against Napoleon, if the national spirit had been roused in Prussia to strive earnestly for the fall of the Emperor, were they likely to meet with the same concurrence, the same absolute devotion on the part of Austria, and of Sweden under Bernadotte? What obstacles and opposition Lord Castlereagh had to encounter in the course of the year 1813, at the time of the armistice of Plesswitz and the congress of Prague! Fresh discussions were incessantly started, and the coalition was repeatedly ready to fall to pieces, from the selfish tendencies of private interests. As for him he had but one object, one desire—the fall of Napoleon and the dissolution of the French Empire, and no words can express the power possessed by a man who has one idea constantly present to his[350] mind, and follows it up with undeviating energy. The dissolution of the congress of Prague was occasioned by this absorbing passion in the mind of Lord Castlereagh, who induced Metternich to engage more decidedly in the coalition; he was like the intrepid hunter who sounds the halloo in pursuit of the stag at bay.

The vast plan he had conceived rested upon two points—exertion on the part of the various governments to promote the march of troops, and a general rising among the people to second the efforts of the cabinets. The material impulse was given by Russia, and he allowed it to proceed and develope itself, well knowing the example of that great power would be followed by Prussia and Austria, and that their efforts would be sufficient for the liberation of Germany. It then became necessary in the north to urge Sweden to take the field, and with her Denmark and Holland; all his efforts were therefore directed to this point, and gave rise to the mission of Sir Charles Stewart and General Graham. He considered there would be no difficulty in inducing a revolt among the oppressed Dutch and Belgian population, and a popular movement would bring about the restoration of the House of Orange; while in the south the armies of England overspread Spain and Portugal, and France was thus attacked at both extremities at the same time. This has always been the favourite political system of England; by acquiring influence in Spain and Portugal, and also in Belgium, she prevents France from affecting her either commercially or diplomatically; and as English statesmen, in what situation soever they may be placed, never lose sight of the hereditary diplomatic traditions, one plan is transmitted through many generations, in the same manner that it formerly descended in our monarchy, when under the dominion of kings, and of able and distinguished ministers. Nothing is done in[351] that country from a sudden impulse; every plan is maturely weighed, and England in the nineteenth century is swayed by the same principles as in the sixteenth.

Lord Castlereagh's task, however, increased in difficulty as the allied armies drew near France, and their interests became more personal and more divided. It then became a question whether Austria would be willing to overturn France, and whether the Emperor Francis would sacrifice his son-in-law; there was also a doubt whether Russia would consent to the proposed augmentation of Austria and Prussia, which would add so considerably to their importance; and in addition to all the other questions, what compensation was likely to be awarded to England? Such were the difficulties that arose at every step after the Allies had reached the Rhine, until at last Pozzo di Borgo was despatched to England, with the firm determination to induce Lord Castlereagh, if possible, to visit the Continent; his presence now seemed really indispensable amidst the clashing of ideas and interests, which threatened to lead to the dissolution of the coalition. England alone was capable of reconciling all their wishes, and restoring to the various forces the unity which, like the bundle of sticks in the fable, rendered them invincible when united, though each separately would be easily overcome.

Lord Castlereagh arrived on the Continent to confer with Lord Aberdeen, Lord Cathcart, and his own brother Sir Charles Stewart; and from this time the influence of the British legation was complete and paramount. The intervention of the English minister was indispensable, as I have before observed, to fortify the bonds of cohesion between the various cabinets, and more especially for the purpose of enforcing the principle, that no treaty was possible with Napoleon. In the conferences that took place between Metternich and M. de St.[352] Aignan at Frankfort, the English legation observed that the Allies appeared rather inclined to a pacific arrangement, which would leave the Rhine as the boundary of the French empire, and would consequently include Belgium; but never would England have consented to a proceeding which would abandon Antwerp to France: she had too long coveted her fleet and great arsenal, and many had been the expeditions she had undertaken with that object!

The opinion of Castlereagh was therefore inflexible; France, he declared, must be reduced within her ancient limits, and this resolution led to the conviction that with the ancient frontiers the ancient dynasty would be necessary. It was not that the English minister had entered into any engagements with the house of Bourbon; the Tories might consider the restoration of Louis XVIII. as a desirable circumstance after the general disorder that had existed in Europe, but it did not make one of the necessary conditions of a general peace, for the selfishly English interest was paramount over every other consideration. This state of affairs is evident in the correspondence between Lord Castlereagh and the French princes who had taken refuge in England; and though he might insinuate to the Comte d'Artois and the Duc d'Angoulême that they might appear on the Continent, he would not officially approve of their conduct, so as not to make the restoration a necessary condition for the re-establishment of peace. This caution affords an explanation of the Duke of Wellington's conduct after the battle of the Pyrenees; he made no objections to the Duke of Angoulême's presence in the south of France, but the white flag was not hoisted, because Lord Castlereagh was completely engaged in the negotiations at Châtillon.

In these conferences, so fatal to our interests, the predominance[353] of the English minister was manifested in the highest degree. As England furnished the subsidies, she exercised very great influence over the movements of the Allies, and Lord Castlereagh's language often assumed an imperious tone. Upon the first hesitation manifested by Austria, he declared that England would no longer be security for the money borrowed by the cabinet of Vienna, if they should attempt to enter into a separate treaty; and he was supported in his design of a general unity against Napoleon by Pozzo di Borgo, who had not left his side since they had travelled together from London. In fact, he was convinced it was not possible to make a treaty with Buonaparte. What peace would there be for Europe as long as he continued to wear the French crown? Had they not for many years been engaged in a protracted and constantly recurring struggle? For this reason, upon firm conviction, he supported as a statesman the maxim adopted by the Tory party,—The ancient territory and the ancient dynasty.

Although Lord Castlereagh held no acknowledged diplomatic office at the congress of Châtillon, he nevertheless swayed all the resolutions formed there; he was the principal author of the treaty of Chaumont, which placed the military direction of the campaign under the influence of England. It was a singular example of the power that may be exercised by a commercial and monied government over military powers, for England had hardly any soldiers engaged in this war, but by means of her subsidies alone she set in motion a million of men, and made them subservient to her national and exclusive interests. Thus it was admitted as a general principle, that France was to be reduced within her ancient limits, and the object of England was gained by our being deprived of Antwerp; her vast arsenal was no longer dangerous, and her fleet was to be divided. It may be said that the[354] treaty of Paris in 1814, which was the consequence of the treaty of Châtillon, formed in some measure a realisation of the leading ideas of Toryism; that is to say, the re-establishment of the House of Orange, with a territory extending to our frontier; Prussia increased in strength and importance, Austria assumed a predominant position in the south of Germany, while they both served as barriers to Russia; and above all, the maritime and commercial supremacy of Great Britain, to such a degree that, in the secret treaty of 1814, Lord Castlereagh imperatively insisted on the rupture of the family compact among the various branches of the House of Bourbon, for the purpose of rendering her influence as secure over Spain as over Holland.

One might have supposed that, after this long and painful struggle against Buonaparte, the English minister would have enjoyed some rest from his anxieties; but such was far from being the case, for the Colossus had scarcely been hurled from its base before intestine dissensions arose in the coalition which had so lately set the world in motion. Various interests were the subject of secret discussion at Vienna; and the questions concerning Saxony, Poland, and Italy occasioned him extreme uneasiness. Throughout the whole period of the French revolution, England had undoubtedly played the principal part, and her perseverance alone had saved the Continent from a general and overwhelming oppression; but in diplomatic matters, as in politics, ancient services are less considered than the new situation in which countries are placed: England had been too much engaged in continental affairs not to continue to feel great anxiety concerning them, and on the question of Poland, Lord Castlereagh was opposed to the plans of the Russian cabinet, and he did not restrain the expression of his dissatisfaction respecting the Polish suzeraineté,[355] which the Emperor Alexander was desirous of reserving to himself. No one ever surpassed his lordship in the union of firmness of character with the most polished manners, the distinguishing mark of a true gentleman; there was a degree of steadiness, I may almost say of nobleness, in his private conferences with Alexander, in the midst of the splendid salons of Vienna, that was quite admirable.

No aristocracy in Europe is more magnificent than that of England. Lady Castlereagh's parties at Vienna exceeded in splendour those even of the Emperor of Austria, and were replete with every pleasure and amusement; while her ladyship, who was a woman of extraordinary abilities, afforded considerable assistance to the diplomatic proceedings of her husband. The bold and rather presumptuous manner of Sir Charles Stewart, Lord Castlereagh's brother, were tempered by the studied mildness of Lord Aberdeen and the military profusion of Lord Cathcart; and the soirées of the English legation were cited as the most brilliant of the season, not excepting those of the sovereigns. The English minister, however, was not satisfied with the decidedly Russian tendency of the congress. He had carefully studied the character of Alexander, and was well aware that vast ideas and infinite ambition lay concealed under the religious mysticism he had adopted under the influence of Madame Krüdner; and looking at it under this point of view, he naturally came to the conclusion that, if the English policy had been the means of saving the Continent from the absorbing power of Napoleon, it would be necessary to guard against a new danger, and prevent the power of Russia from becoming too great and exercising too absolute a dominion over the destinies of the world. This feeling, common to them all, formed a tie between Castlereagh, Metternich, and[356] Talleyrand, all of whom were equally convinced that the combination of the three sovereignties would not be too much to oppose the projects of Russia; and their dissatisfaction increased so much towards the termination of the congress, that the three plenipotentiaries signed the treaty of alliance concluded in February, 1815, to guard against any possibilities that might arise regarding Saxony and Poland. Thus the man who had been the keystone of the coalition, whose powerful hand had cemented and directed it, contributed at this moment to introduce divisions into its bosom, because the common danger had passed away.

This danger, however, appeared again when intelligence was received of the landing of Buonaparte and his march to Paris; and the English minister had no hesitation in placing himself at the head of the coalition, for Napoleon was considered as the general enemy of Europe. In 1814, Lord Castlereagh had opposed the sovereignty of the island of Elba being awarded to the ex-Emperor, and now, laying aside all other considerations, he looked at nothing but at the necessity of restoring unity to the confederation, and marching at once against the man who had been placed at the ban of Europe. Reports were in circulation that England had favoured the return from Elba, in order again to humble France and to impose heavier conditions upon her; and Lord Castlereagh, when asking for subsidies, was obliged in the House of Commons to enter into an explanation upon the subject. He had only to answer, that it was against his opinion a sovereignty had been granted to Buonaparte; but that, after he had once been acknowledged as an independent sovereign, no one had any right to watch his actions and proceedings. He and the Duke of Wellington now shared the arrangements between them, the one directing the debates in parliament[357] while the other was employed in organising the army. Immense subsidies were again required to assist the coalition, and set a million of men in motion against the glorious adventurer who had made but one step from the Gulf of Juan to Paris.

Lord Castlereagh had vowed an implacable hatred to all the ridiculous dynasties who sheltered themselves under the mantle of Napoleon, and he revealed to the House of Commons the correspondence between Murat and the Emperor; thus paving the way for the downfall of that melodramatic king who was playing his part among the lazzaroni at the palace of Portici, or at the Villa Reale. In the stormy debates in the House of Commons he always exhibited the same tenacity of principles and resolution which had supported him in the imperial crisis, and even the present situation awakened in his mind the pride of a statesman who has realised some great thing for his country; for the supreme power henceforth belonged to England, and no one could dispute with her the empire of the sea: for a short time she had been at war with America, but peace had just been concluded, and all these circumstances had greatly augmented her power.

In the struggle now taking place, his lordship was possessed with one great object: in 1814 he had made some concessions to France, and he considered the affair terminated when her ancient limits, augmented by Savoy and the Comté Venaissin, were assigned to her, under the government of her ancient dynasty; but he now found all his work had fallen to the ground, and he concluded from thence that the power of France was still too great, and predominated too much on the Continent: for the sake, therefore, of obtaining the applause of Germany and the support of Prussia, he entered unhesitatingly into all the hatred vowed to us by them. Waterloo had placed France under the especial direction of[358] England and Prussia, and deprived her of the Russian influence; therefore his lordship was at liberty to explain his ideas, and there was every facility for the execution of his system. His principles being in perfect agreement with those of the Duke of Wellington, he communicated to him his opinion about the future condition of France. In the first place, the ministerial system must be entirely English; and as a good understanding had existed between him and Talleyrand at Vienna, he chose him to fill the situation of prime minister. Then again, the Tories do not like revolutionists; but as these last assumed a suppliant attitude before the English, and that the patriots, under the shield of Fouché and of the representative chamber, were at the feet of the Duke of Wellington, even to obtain a foreign prince, they decided Fouché should be appointed to the ministry with Talleyrand.

But this was only the commencement of the system. Lord Castlereagh had observed that the material power of France was too considerable for the balance of power in Europe, and also that Belgium was not sufficiently protected; he therefore considered it necessary another frontier should be adopted, to prevent any irruption on that side; and as England wanted to secure the good will of Germany, he agreed to support, if necessary, the proposal for the cession of Alsace and Lorraine to the Germanic confederation. These ideas gave birth to the hard conditions insisted upon by England, and rendered it necessary that France should have recourse to the Emperor Alexander to obtain better terms after her heavy afflictions.

With regard to Buonaparte, the minister's conduct was perfectly consistent. In 1814 he had strenuously opposed the idea of an independent sovereignty in the island of Elba, and the enemy of England was now[359] again in his power. It has been written and currently reported, that Napoleon's resolution to throw himself for protection upon the generosity of England was a free and spontaneous action; but such was far from being the case: too well did he know the unpitying and irritated feelings entertained against him by that nation, but he went on board the English man-of-war because he could no longer escape the cruisers, and perhaps the sailors in those vessels might have done him some injury, in vengeance of the sufferings of Captain Wright, who died in so mysterious a manner in the Temple. His letter to the Prince Regent was only an attempt to escape his fate by assuming the position of a free agent, when a few hours later he would have been a prisoner of war. As soon as Buonaparte was on board the Bellerophon, Lord Castlereagh hastened to acquaint the plenipotentiaries of the allied powers, assembled at Paris, with the fact; and then he naturally returned to his original and favourite idea of placing him under the charge of the Allies, in some spot sufficiently remote from the Continent to secure Europe against the risk of any further bold attempt on his part. This proposal did not arise from any personal hatred or feeling of animosity, but was the result of a profound and well-considered conviction. As for the rest, every thing was done with proper attention and consideration; but no one ever shewed more sulkiness, ill-humour, and I may say more littleness, than did Napoleon in adversity. How had he treated the Duc d'Enghien? Had he not pursued and striven to ensnare Louis XVIII. in every part of Europe? Was it too much, immediately after his adventure of the hundred days, which had cost us so dear, to send him to a place of security, from whence he would no longer be able to torment Europe? Buonaparte took offence because the title of majesty was refused[360] him, and because he was not permitted to live quietly like one of the citizen classes in England or the United States (a proposition he made with just the same degree of sincerity as his request to be appointed juge de paix of his district before the 18 Brumaire). Imagine Buonaparte a citizen of Westminster or Charleston! After so long a drama on the theatre of the world, if a man has not been able to die he ought to know how to submit to obscurity; but he, at St. Helena, did not exhibit the greatness that ought to have arisen from his recollections and his glory, and I would willingly believe his flatterers garbled his conversations in the narratives published of his exile.

By the treaty concluded in the month of November, which was the completion of the transactions at Vienna, a magnificent position was allotted to England. In the south of Europe her influence over Portugal was secured, and the family compact was broken; in the north, a kingdom was constructed of Holland and Belgium, under her patronage, for the Prince of Orange, one of her generals; Prussia was closely attached to her system, and the Elbe opened to her the road to Germany; Hanover belonged to the British crown; she absorbed the factories and establishments of France in India, and acquired the Cape of Good Hope, the Isle of France, and Ceylon, besides Malta and the Seven Islands in the Mediterranean. She had reached the highest degree of power permitted to a state, and it was the firm and resolute conduct of Lord Castlereagh that had led to these great results; for had the weak and unconnected opinion of the Whigs carried the day, had peace been signed with Buonaparte, based on the terms approved by Fox and Grenville, never would England have attained to such a pitch of power and splendour. In mortal struggles like these one party must perish; and as it was, Napoleon sunk[361] under the efforts of Britain. The captive of St. Helena was well aware of this, for he never accused any one of his fall but Lord Castlereagh and the English aristocracy, whom he devoted to the execration of future ages; no doubt for thus having succeeded in exalting the grandeur of England, as he had dreamed of doing with the magnificence of his nation and his race.

In the history of states, two periods usually occur. When there is a strong inclination to foreign wars, it very seldom occurs that there is much agitation among parties at home, because when society is hurried with violence into affairs of great importance, she has no time for considering her own troubles or inquiring closely into her domestic afflictions; but when the war is over she turns her attention upon herself, and internal dissensions take place. This was the case in England after the treaty of Paris in 1815, extreme irritation was displayed in her troubles; and this requires some explanation: that there was much suffering among the various classes of British subjects is an undoubted fact, and it proceeded from many different causes. The successive debts she had been obliged to contract had inordinately increased the taxes; a war, lasting for twenty years, had been suddenly succeeded by a peace which had injured the interests of many people, because war, by occasioning an unnatural excitement to industry of every kind, had given employment to thousands, for the commerce of the world was in the hands of England. Peace opened an immense competition; Great Britain, formerly alone in the market, now met with the French and Americans, and the ports were no longer exclusively open to her manufactures. Besides this, pauperism, that species of leprosy in a nation, had greatly increased, and it had now become an actual sore in the British government, a vermin on the velvet robes of her rulers.


A radical and deep-seated movement had also taken place in the public mind. Great excitement always leaves a degree of fermentation behind; the revolutionary doctrines had sheltered themselves behind the shield of parliamentary reform, and this very reform became a pretext gladly seized upon by agitators; thus England found herself covered, not with secret societies, for on her soil people breathe freely, but with clubs and inflammatory meetings, so that the country resounded with petitions. On this occasion it again became necessary to display a degree of firmness; the inflexible character of Lord Castlereagh was alone capable of opposing to doctrines which manifested themselves by riotous assemblies of 100,000 men in various cities.

Independent of these domestic troubles, there were also difficulties connected with foreign affairs that exhibited a no less serious aspect. Ever since the year 1792 but one great danger had occupied the mind of Europe, the absorbing and inordinate power of the republic and empire of Napoleon. England having always been at the head of the implacable movement which attacked the revolutionary power in France, had also naturally taken the lead in the political transactions; and Europe did not stop to examine whether the cabinet of London assumed too great an influence while protecting the general interest; for Buonaparte excited alarm, and the assistance of Great Britain was required to oppose him: but as soon as this powerful Colossus was overthrown, a continental system was formed under the influence of the Emperor of Russia, and led to all those congresses, annually repeated, in which England could not take an active or predominant part. The statesmen of Great Britain, both Whigs and Tories, rejected all the theories of absolute power; they had been educated in the principles of 1688, and neither would, nor could, adopt the[363] maxim of the divine right of kings. Thus Lord Castlereagh could not unite in all the manifestoes and declarations of principles which the Emperor Alexander issued in his mystical ideas of the Holy Alliance. We must not lose sight of this circumstance in the last four years of the minister's life. The treaty of 1815 had hardly been signed before a formidable conspiracy of Radicalism in arms arose in England, not merely easily suppressed riots, but bodies of 100,000, who broke the power-looms and pillaged the houses, and the ancient aristocracy appeared threatened with the most imminent danger; yet such is the spirit of order in that country, and the reliance to be placed on the English population, that these tumults were not attended with danger. On this occasion the firm repressive spirit of Lord Castlereagh was fully manifested; without hesitation, he demanded from parliament the suspension of all liberty, even of the habeas corpus, that powerful security of the English citizen. The troops ordered to act vigorously against the rioters, shewed no compassion, because there appeared no limit to the disturbances. How many accusations were brought against Lord Castlereagh after the riots at Manchester and Birmingham! The pamphlets published on the occasion represented him as a butcher of human victims, and Lord Byron wrote some lines on the cold impassiveness of his countenance. Was England to be allowed to perish to please the poets? or were the designs of housebreakers and destroyers of machinery to be seconded? The minister only did his duty as a statesman—he saved society, and what do people want more? He did it even at the peril of his fame—a great sacrifice for those who devote themselves to the idea of order in the midst of disorder. Very vigorous bills were passed, on the demand of the minister, against foreigners, and against the instigators of the disturbances,[364] and he undertook in parliament the painful task of obtaining repressive measures. In England there are resources, even in times of the greatest danger, because there exists a race of statesmen, the Tories, who never give way to public clamour; in the midst of the most formidable riot a degree of respect for the laws is still felt, and people submit to the summons of a constable.

This agitated situation lasted nearly five years; the counties were in a blaze; and at last the Queen's trial became the pretext for fresh disorders. No one could take any interest in a queen who, in the decline of life, had carried on her intrigues in Syria, in Greece, and in Italy, with true English disregard of public opinion, which is in itself an eccentricity. Every one was aware of the irregularities of the Princess of Wales, now queen by the death of George III., and retaining in her service the witness and partaker of her excesses, her chamberlain, Bergami. But the Radical party did not look so closely at the affair; all they wanted was a pretext to excite the public mind, and they had recourse to the queen's trial as a means of occasioning riot and disorder. The Tories, deeply sensible of the embarrassed state of the country, and desirous, if possible, of avoiding a scandalous trial, proposed a middle course to the princess. Her name was not to be mentioned in the Liturgy, but she would still be queen, only she would be required to remain abroad, constantly travelling about, and a large pecuniary allowance would be made to her; but upon the Radical party being consulted, the old queen refused all the offers, and a long and disgraceful trial was obliged to take place. Lord Castlereagh determined upon the measure with firm and respectful energy; the more unwilling he had been to resort to this mode of proceeding, the more vigorously he was resolved to carry it through. When we contemplate the angelic[365] figure of Anne Boleyn, beside the gross and sensual Henry VIII., every one feels a strong and lively interest in the unfortunate victim; but who could have the slightest feeling for a queen grown old with the most degrading passions?

The minister here again was opposed by his old adversary Canning, who was then aiming at extreme popularity. He had constituted himself the Queen's champion, not because he esteemed her, but because this course furnished him with the means of the most violent opposition to the ministry over which Castlereagh presided. The trial began, and was followed by debates, and the disgraceful and disgusting revelations are too well known. The oratorical fame of Brougham and Canning was greatly augmented by these proceedings; their popularity became immense, and their opponents were visited with a degree of reprobation to which men of distinguished capacity must accustom themselves in the course of their painful and wearisome task.

All these domestic events occurred at a period when Europe, still full of agitation, was constantly holding congresses, in order to declare her principles, or to decide upon general arrangements. Since the declaration of Alexander, bearing the title of the Holy Alliance, England had taken up a separate position; her statesmen, more especially Lord Castlereagh, had declared the principles of that convention to be too vague to allow the English ministers to admit them, under their legal responsibility. From this first separation of interests from the rest of Europe, two political systems resulted: the one Russian, whose ascendency over the congress was almost absolute; the other English, which opposed any general deliberation upon interests now divided.


Lord Castlereagh assumed this position when he attended the congresses of Troppau and Laybach; he signed the protocols without adopting the ideas of the Holy Alliance, but simply as the consequence of the treaties of 1815 and the articles of the congress of Vienna. In his conversations with Metternich he advanced this principle, that, although Europe might enter into an agreement to repress disturbances affecting the security of crowned heads, she neither could, nor ought to interfere with any modifications which a people might freely and spontaneously choose to make in their respective governments. This declaration referred to several very important questions that had lately arisen: first, the separation of the Spanish colonies from the mother-country; secondly, the disturbances in Greece; and, thirdly, the revolution in Spain. The emancipation of the Spanish colonies of an ancient date originated in the commercial interests of England, which constantly require to be satisfied; the markets opened by peace must replace those of war, and a new world was requisite for the overflow of her manufactures; under this point of view, therefore, the emancipation of the Spanish colonies secured a market to England, she henceforth became favourable to their independence, and her consuls resided with their exequatur in these colonies. Lord Castlereagh's position at this juncture was rather delicate; for with one hand he favoured the sedition of the colonies, and with the other he severely repressed the riots in the English counties.

Being a partisan of the emancipation of the colonies, he naturally felt no repugnance towards the government of the Cortes at Madrid. What is considered of importance in England, is not the form of government adopted by a power, but its tendency with regard to herself and her interests. She seldom breaks a lance for a mere chivalrous[367] idea. Both Whigs and Tories are equally actuated by the same spirit of national selfishness, which is, in fact, patriotism; and, while holding this doctrine, that England is not to meddle with the internal form of government, the path remains open, so that they can decide according as interest advises. With regard to the emancipation of the Greeks, Lord Castlereagh viewed it in its true light, without weakness, and without sentimental feelings, allowing the question to rest on the ground of Russia and Turkey: thus, to emancipate the Greeks would be to aggrandise Russia, open to her the gates of the Bosphorus, and drive the Turks into Asia, and this policy would be unfaithful and puerile as far as the interests of England were concerned; it was, on the contrary, most advantageous to her to protect the Ottoman empire by the British flag, to develope her strength, and create in that country a commercial alliance for herself. Thus at the same time to give a new world to industry, by the emancipation of the Spanish colonies, to take no heed of the revolutions at Naples and in Spain, but watch Russia and restrain any ambitious projects she might have formed, by supporting the Porte: such were the politics of Lord Castlereagh in the first five years that succeeded his vigorous contest with Napoleon.

The disturbances in England had begun to subside, when the ancient civil war was again renewed in Ireland between the Orangemen and the Catholics; it was a constantly recurring quarrel, as between two races who entertained the greatest detestation for each other. All the people who thought seriously on the subject felt that something must be done for the Catholics; the reason for the former oppression having ceased to exist, Ireland could not always remain in a state of slavery. Lord Castlereagh was well acquainted with this country,[368] where his youth had been passed, and, whenever business left him leisure, was accustomed to visit the ancient towers of Londonderry, the beautiful lakes, and the old fishermen, whom his munificence assisted in rebuilding their villages and their boats, portioning their daughters, or increasing their own comforts. The bill for the admission of the Catholic lords into parliament was then in debate; it was opposed by the Orange party in Ireland, and, after passing the House of Commons, was thrown out by the Lords; and this was the cause of the sanguinary troubles which again threw Ireland into the most fearful state of disorder. The ministry shewed no indulgence, for the country was deluged with blood; and Lord Wellesley, then lord-lieutenant, declared at last that, if they were desirous of saving that country, more agitated than the ocean, it must be placed under a most vigorous system of legislative exception.[52] The old laws of the conquest were put in force against the parties of Whiteboys who ravaged the country, but by degrees these demonstrations gave way before the severe measures used to repress them.

As soon as order was restored, it was necessary the ministry should take measures to relieve the sufferings of the three kingdoms, and they devoted themselves with the greatest attention to their difficult task. It is a historical truth worthy of the remembrance of agitators, that they occasion the slavery of all for the sake of the vain pleasure they derive from some ovations to themselves. Despotism is the successor of disorder, and there is more influence in reason and resignation than in the noisy acclamations of the public streets. O'Connell appears to[369] me, to be just the man destined to bring about the complete subjection of Ireland; he will be the destroyer of his country for the sake of a little personal vanity, for the applause of 100,000 men, collected round the hustings. The Tories did every thing that was possible for Ireland when it was quiet: the emancipation of the Catholics was promoted by the Wellesleys, nor did they stop there.

Lord Castlereagh, deeply sensible that there was real suffering among all classes of the people, now unfolded his vast plan of economy, with all the logic of Pitt in his admirable budget of 1798. Taking his ground on the existence of much distress in the agricultural districts, and in the principles of credit, he proceeded at once to retrenchments. The expenses of the army and navy were reduced by two millions sterling a-year; the interest of the public debt was reduced from 5 to 4 per cent; and the sinking fund was considerably increased.[53] These measures permitted the decrease of imposts, the suppression of all additional taxes, and a system of loans to agriculture by means of the bank, the grand instrument he always had recourse to, in order to make advances to parishes, and more especially to the producers of corn, so as always to keep down the price. It was an earnest undertaking, and the last he had to carry on during this session. In the meanwhile he could not fail to observe that the renown of his old adversary, Canning, was marvellously increasing; he was becoming a popular character, he was the favourite of the mob, while the firm and persevering minister who had aroused the world, and saved England, was branded with reprobation by the populace, who broke the panels of his carriage. Ought he to allow himself—he, so proud and haughty,[370] to be drawn into the wake of Canning, on the boundless waste of revolutionary ideas? Partially reconciled to his adversary on the Catholic question, his lordship took only a secondary part in the debate; and he was stung by the conviction, that, while in foreign relations his influence was overpowered by the Holy Alliance, at home Canning was the person considered most necessary to the administration, because he was better suited to the new liberal situation in which they were becoming entangled; and he repeatedly expressed his grief and vexation at this circumstance. In England, where public questions are adopted like a mission, and the feelings of statesmen on the subject are deep and interwoven in their whole being, the destruction of a system involves that of the man. Mr. Pitt was killed by the battle of Austerlitz, and Lord Castlereagh belonged to that noble school. He whose life had commenced in so poetical a manner, who had feared neither single combat, nor the dangers of the raging waves in his shipwreck on the Isle of Man, could not be afraid of death; but as his hour drew near, his disposition became extremely irritable, and he expressed himself in parliament with a degree of bitterness and sullen haughtiness: I should almost say he looked with pity and contempt upon the opposition of the Whigs, who were advancing towards fresh storms and disturbances. There are times when people wish to have done with a situation which oppresses them, and with adversaries of whom they are weary; they utter their last words to their face, and after that they die without regret.

Lord Castlereagh announced his intention of visiting the Continent, with the intention, if not of being present at the congress of Verona, at least of meeting the assembled sovereigns there; and Canning was in hopes that, when his colleague had once left England, he[371] would send in his resignation, and consequently leave him at the head of affairs. But matters were more rapidly drawing to a close: Lord Castlereagh had been unwell for several days, and there was every appearance of extreme nervous irritability about him; some expressions that fell from his lips shewed that he had some sinister ideas in his head, and when he went to take leave of the king, the state of his mind did not escape the monarch, who had a great esteem for him. From that time he constantly complained of a feeling of oppression in his head, and his physician, Dr. Bankhead, reported that when he visited him he was calm, though there were symptoms of impatience and caprice in his manner, and a few short and hurried words were all that he could draw from him; he let fall some observations on the troubles of life which raised apprehensions of suicide, and he was watched: but on Monday, the 12th of August, 1822, just as his physician entered his dressing-room, Lord Castlereagh uttered these few words: "Doctor, let me fall on your arm; it is all over!" and fell with the heaviness of a corpse. The blood was flowing in torrents, from a deep wound which he had inflicted in the carotid artery, with a small penknife he had concealed in a letter-case. Such was the end of the man, who had conducted the affairs of England with so much firmness and consistency for the last ten years!

Since then people have endeavoured to prove that he was raving mad, and the opposite party have even asserted, that the energy of his government shewed a tendency to mental alienation: would they not have considered any man mad, who wanted to contend vigorously against them? No, Lord Castlereagh was not mad; he only felt the deep sorrow of a statesman who, after having fulfilled a great duty, finds himself forgotten and abandoned at the end of his career. Mr. Pitt[372] had died at his post while his work was progressing towards its accomplishment, and Lord Castlereagh saw it completed by the fall of Buonaparte. But he, in his turn, had to contend with the revolutionary opinions that were again invading the world; Canning was like his evil genius, and as in a long political career they were both constantly before the public, we may inquire what services they rendered to England. Castlereagh gave his country the pre-eminence she every where exercises; he signed the treaties of 1815, he secured to her vast stations, colonies, and new worlds, and he was forced to escape, by suicide from the reprobation of the people; while Canning the declaimer, the renegade from the opinions of Pitt, and who, though threatening all the cabinets, did not dare to oppose the expedition to Spain in 1823, died peaceably in his bed, and was crowned with universal applause. Alas! it is because men who devote themselves to the serious affairs of their country, are in general persecuted and misunderstood; for with the populace, noise and clamour are thought more of, than good measures. Let it, however, be said to the credit of England, that she is returning to the men she formerly blamed. The noble hierarchy of statesmen which begins with Pitt and Castlereagh, and extends to Peel, Lord Aberdeen, and the Duke of Wellington, is now hailed as the school most fitted to afford protection to Great Britain; and Fox, Sheridan, and Canning, are only mentioned as eloquent speakers, who passed away long nights in the House of Commons.

There is not the slightest doubt that the unfortunate termination of Lord Castlereagh's existence was owing to delirium.—Editor.

Printed by George Barclay, Castle Street, Leicester Square.


[1] Nothing can exceed the paternal government of Austria to her hereditary states, or the severity of the police in her Italian dominions. In Hungary the Austrian power has never been sufficient to enable her to ameliorate the prominent defects of their still feudal system. The Italians, Sclavonians, and Hungarians, are still far from being amalgamated with the Austrians.

[2] The French commissioners were attacked on leaving the city and many killed.—Editor.

[3] See "Europe during the Consulate and the Empire of Napoleon."

[4] Prince Metternich told me the Emperor had locked the door.

[5] The sum of 5,000,000l. sterling was to be furnished for the year 1814, to be increased if necessary.—Editor.

[6] Suzeraineté.

[7] M. de Talleyrand, who had naturally an inclination in favour of ancient honours, preferred his title of duke of the old monarchy to his principality; for the title of prince, unless in connexion with the Blood Royal, was considered as of foreign extraction, and not to possess any aristocratic importance.

[8] The arms of M. de Talleyrand were, Gules, three lions, or, langued, armed, and crowned azure, prince's coronet on the shield, ducal crown on the mantle. Device, Re que Diou (Nothing but God above us).

[9] A pawnbroking establishment in Paris under the protection of the government.

[10] About 20,000l.

[11] Histoire de la Restauration.

[12] Signed in the month of March, vide Metternich.—Tr.

[13] Histoire de la Restauration.

[14] About 160,000l.

[15] I speak of the time before Lord Durham had taken the side of Russia and of Conservatism.

[16] "Il nobile Pasquale Pozzo di Borgo, oratore dei popoli di là da' monti in Corsica...." 1584.

"... Per egregium virum Pasqualem Pozzo di Borgo, civem Adjacii, oratorem et procuratorem populorum provinciæ Adjacii et Sartenæ, et aliorum hominum ultra montes Corsicæ."

"Tutta la provincia di là da' monti nell' isola di Corsica in generale, ha eletto per oratore il Capitano Secondo Pozzo di Borgo sì per assistere presso le VV. SS...." 1597.

All these charters are extracted from the work published by the wise and judicious magistrate, C. Gregori, Statuti Civili e Criminali di Corsica.

[17] I saw all these papers, which were printed in 1793, in the hands of Count Pozzo di Borgo; he took pleasure in shewing the curious decree against Napoleon, afterwards the pride and glory of Corsica. The consulta was composed of 1200 deputies.

[18] This observation appears to indicate some inaccuracy regarding the date of Paoli's demise. It took place in Feb. 1807.—Editor.

[19] Vide the article "Metternich."

[20] I have seen the rough copy of this proclamation written in pencil by Count Pozzo and corrected by Alexander himself.

[21] "Histoire de la Restauration."

[22] This memorial was found again some years afterwards at Warsaw. The Emperor Nicholas wrote to Pozzo di Borgo in 1830, "How rightly you foresaw what would happen! You would have saved us much difficulty and embarrassment."

[23] About twenty-eight millions sterling.

[24] On the 5th of April, 1824, the minister of finance brought forward a plan to substitute rentes at three per cent for those already existing at five per cent, reserving to the holders of the five per cent rentes the option between the repayment of their nominal capital and its conversion into three per cents at the rate of seventy-five. Some modifications were suggested, but the plan failed at the time. In the following year it was renewed, and then it was decreed that the proprietors of five per cent rentes should be allowed till the 22d of June (afterwards extended to the 5th of August) the faculty of demanding from the minister of finance their conversion into three per cents at the price of seventy-five, and till the 22d of September the faculty of requiring their conversion into four and a half per cent stock at par, with a guarantee in both cases against being paid off till September 1835. The rentes so converted were to continue to bear interest at five per cent until the 22d December, 1825.—Editor.

[25] Alexander had gone on a tour of inspection to the southern parts of his empire, and on arriving at a village in the Crimea, he insisted upon attending the service in a church which had long been shut up, in spite of the remonstrances of his attendants, who represented the danger arising from malaria. He was shortly afterwards seized with the fever common in the Crimea, and refused to submit to the strong measures recommended by his medical attendants, resolving to trust to abstinence and the mild remedies he had usually found successful when attacked by illness, but which were insufficient in this instance; and when he at last resigned himself into the hands of his physicians, it was too late. Reports were raised of his having been poisoned, but they were totally devoid of foundation.—Editor.

[26] See "L'Europe pendant le Consulat et l'Empire de Napoleon."

[27] Sapeurs-pompiers.

[28] The Comte de Chabrol had been appointed prefect of the Seine upon the dismissal of Frochot after Mallet's conspiracy, and had distinguished himself by the most inflated expressions of devotion to the Emperor. "What is life," said he, "compared to the immense interests which rest upon the sacred head of the heir of the Empire? For me, whom an unexpected glance of your imperial eye has called from a distance to a post so eminent, what I most value in the distinction is the honour and right of setting the foremost example of loyal devotion!"—Editor.

[29] The law to authorise arbitrary arrests was equivalent to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus act in England: and it was originally brought forward by M. Decaze and strenuously supported by Baron Pasquier. It was proposed that it should continue in force for one year, and after a debate which lasted for several sittings, it was passed by a majority of nineteen votes, modified however by the introduction of a clause forbidding arrests to be made under it during the night. A law restraining the liberty of the press was also passed after being most obstinately contested. The majority in the chamber of peers was only two on this occasion.—Editor.

[30] He was accused of great political tergiversation, and M. Vaublanc, a keen royalist, designated him as "a man who never left one administration till he had prepared to enter another, who never deserted one set of friends till he had looked out for another more in favour at court, and who had skipped into successive cabinets with that ease which marked all his movements."—Editor.

[31] At the same moment that he dissolved the chamber of deputies, the king created seventy-six new peers, all of them people devoted to the government.

[32] Gawilghur.—Ed.

[33] 20th January, 1812.

[34] 7th April, 1812.

[35] 24th July, 1812.

[36] Witness Assaye, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajos, Vittoria, &c.—Editor.

[37] He had long had a seat in the House of Peers, but the mistake is very natural for a foreigner.—Editor.

[38] Upon this occasion the Duke of Wellington voted against his brother's measure.—Editor.

[39] The editor begs to remind the reader that he is not answerable for M. Capefigue's opinions.

[40] See Note, page 208.—Editor.

[41] About 800l.

[42] Now about 80,000.—Ed.

[43] The government of Odessa includes the island of Taman, and part of the Caucasian line, inhabited by the Cossacks of the Black Sea, who were settled on the Lower Kouban by Potemkin, as a defence against the incursions of the Circassians; forming a chain of intrenched villages, sufficiently near to communicate by signals, and supported by some regiments of infantry and artillery. The Circassians have never been able to make any serious impression on this line; and the Russians, whose object was purely defensive, never even crossed the Kouban with an intention of permanently establishing themselves beyond the river till the conclusion of the last Turkish war, during which Anapa, and all other forts possessed by the Turks on the Black Sea, were ceded to Russia. The Circassians had only tolerated these nominal dependencies of Turkey, as affording convenient points of trade and export for the slaves captured from Russia and Georgia, as well as those taken during their own domestic wars. The natural strength of the country and its deadly climate have hitherto checked the Russian conquests, but, sooner or later, it must yield to a power capable of sending unlimited reinforcements, while every action permanently diminishes the strength of the mountain tribes. The war, which has now lasted sixty years, can have no effect on the prosperity of the southern provinces of Russia, nor is it felt twenty miles from the frontier. The few Circassians that have been educated in Russia are not permitted to return to the tribes. The Caucasian guard formed by Prince Paskewitch in 1830, and who return periodically to their own country, may have a much greater effect; they are taken indiscriminately from all the tribes, Circassians, Lesghis, Chechens, and Ossatinians, forming a body of about two hundred men, in some measure resembling the Mamelukes of Napoleon.—Editor.

[44] Vide art. Pozzo di Borgo.

[45] 64 millions sterling.

[46] Ministres secrétaires d'état.

[47] Vide art. Pozzo di Borgo.

[48] Vide articles "Pozzo di Borgo" and "Richelieu."

[49] Count Capo d'Istria was murdered in September, 1831, by the brother and son of a Mainote he had imprisoned.—Ed.

[50] Quære, Coyne?—Editor.

[51] This assertion is untrue, and not borne out by any evidence.—Editor.

[52] Parliament decided upon the re-enactment of the Insurrection Act, and the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, in Ireland.—Editor.

[53] This is a mistake.—Editor.




Obvious printer errors have been corrected. Otherwise, the author's original spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been left intact.