Abbildungen der Seite

have forbore to enter into any detail on their account; but in order to avoid any details prejudicial to the great ob1 ject which the King has in view, and to accelerate the work of a general peace, his Majefty will not refufe to explain himself in the first inftance on the points which concern thofe powers. If, then, the Catholic King fhould defire to be comprehended in this negotiation, or to be allowed to accede to the definitive treaty, this would meet with no obftacle on the part of his Majefty. Nothing having been conquered by either of the two Sovereigns from the other, no other point could, at the prefent moment, come into the queftion but that of the reeftablishment of peace, fimply, and without any restitution or compensation whatever, except fuch as might poffibly refult from the application of the principle declared at the end of the fourth article of the memorial, already delivered to the Minuter for Foreign Affairs.

But if, during the negotiation, any alteration fhall take place in the state of things in this refpect, it will then be proper to agree upon the reftitutions and compenfations to be made on each fide.

With regard to the Republic of the United Provinces, his Britannic Majef ty, and his allies, find themselves too nearly interested in the political fituation of those provinces to be able to confent in their favour to the re-cftablishment of the ftatus ante bellum, as with refpe&t to territorial poffeffions; unless France could, on her part, reinftate them in all respects in the fame political fituation in which they stood before the war.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


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

tribute to the security of the Austrian Netherlands. The means of accomplishing this object will be found in the ceffions which France has exacted in her treaty of peace with Holland, and the poffeffion of which, by that power, would in any cafe be abfolutely incompatible with the fecurity of the Auftrian Netherlands in the hands of his Imperial Majefty.

It is on thefe principles that his Britannic Majetty would be ready to treat for the re-enablishment of peace with the Republic of Holland in its prefent state. The details of fuch a difcuffion muft neceffarily lead to the confideretion of what would be due to the intereft and the rights of the Houfe of Orange.

If at least it were poffible to re-establish in thofe provinces, agreeably to what is believed to be the with of a great majo rity of the inhabitants, their ancient conftitution and form of government, his Majefty might then be difpofed to relax, in their favour, from a very confiderable part of the conditions on which the prefent ftate of things obliges him to infift.

But if, on the contrary, it is with the Republic of Holland, in its present state, that their Britannic and Imperial Majefties will have to treat, they will feel themfelves obliged to seek, in territorial acquifitions, thofe compenfations, and that fecurity, which fuch a state of things will have rendered indifpenfible to them. Reftitutions of any kind, in favour of Holland, could in that cafe be admitted in fo far only as they fhall be compenfated by arrangements calculated to conVOL. LIX.

MY LORD, Paris, Dec. 20. Mr Ellis returned here from London on Thursday laft, the 15th inftant, at five P. M. and delivered to me the dispatches with which he was charged by your Lordship.

Although nothing can be clearer, more ally drawn up, or more fatisfactory than the inftructions they contain, yet as it was of the last importance that I should be completely mafter of the fubject before I faw the French Minifter, I delayed afking for a conference till late on Friday evening, with a view that it fhould not take place till Saturday morning.

He appointed the hour of feven A. M. on that day, and it was near one before we parted. Although what is faid by M. Delacroix before he has communicated with the Directory cannot be confidered as officially binding, and proba. bly may, in the event, be very different from what I may hear when he speaks to me in their name, yet as it is impoffible they should not nearly conjecture the nature of the overtures I fhould make, and of courfe be prepared in some degree for them, it is material that your Lordship fhould be accurately acquainted with the first impreffions they appear to make on M. Delacroix,

I prefaced what I had to communicate with saying, that I now came authorised to enter into deliberation upon one of the most important subjects that perhaps ever was brought into difcuffion; that its magnitude forbade all fineffe, excluded all prevarication, fufpended all prejudices; and that as I had it in command to speak and act with freedom and truth; I expected that he, on his part, would confider these as the only means which

6 F


could or ought to be employed, if he wished to fee a negotiation, in which the happiness of millions were involved, terminate fuccefsfully: That, for greater precision, and with a view to be clearly understood in what he was about to propofe, I would give him a confidential memorial, accompanied by an official note, both which, when he had perufed them, would speak for themselves. The memorial contained the conditions, on the accomplishment of which his Majef ty confidered the restoration of peace to depend. The note was expreffive of his Majefty's readiness to enter into any explanation required by the Directory on the fubject, or to receive any contre-projet, refting on the fame bafis, which the Directory might be difpofed to give it That, moreover, I did not hesitate declaring to him, in conformity to the negotiation, that I was prepared to anfwer any questions, explain and elucidate any points, on which it was possible to forefee that doubts or mifconceptions could arife on the confideration of these papers. And having faid thus much, I had only to remark, that I believed, in no fimilar negotiation which had ever taken place, any Minifter was authorized, in the first inftance, to go fo fully into the difcuffion as I now was: That I was fure neither the truth of this remark, nor the manifeft conclufion to be drawn from it, would efcape M. Delacroix's obfervation.

I then put the two papers into his hands: He began by reading the note, on which of courfe he began to exprefs fatisfaction. After perufing the confidential memorial with all the attention it deserved, he, after a fhort pause, faid, that it appeared to him to be liable to infurmountable objections; that it seemed to him to require much more than it conceded, and, in the event, not to leave France in a fituation of proportional greatness to the Powers of Europe. He faid, the Act of their Conftitution, according to the manner in which it was interpreted by the best Publicifts (and this phrafe is worthy remark) made it impoffible for the Republic to do what we required. The Auftrian Netherlands were annexed to it; they could not be difpofed of without flinging the nation into all the confufion which muft follow a convocation of the Primary Affemblies; and he faid, he was rather furprif ed that Great Britain fhould bring this

forward as the governing condition of
the treaty, fince he thought he had, in
fome of our late converfations, fully ex-
plained the nature of their Conftitution
to me. I replied, that every thing I had
heard from him on this point was perfect-
ly in my recollection, as it probably was
in his, that though I had liftened to him
with that attention I always afforded to
every thing he faid, yet I had never
made him any fort of reply, and had
neither admitted nor controverted his
opinion: That although I believed I
could eafily difprove this opinion from
the fpirit of the French conflitution it-
felf; yet the difcuffion of that con-
ftitution was perfectly foreign to the
object of my miffion; fince, even allow-
ing his two pofitions, viz. that the re-
troceffion of the Auftrian Netherlands
was incompatible with their laws, and
that we ought to have known that before.
hand; yet that there existed`a droit pub-
lic in Europe, paramount to any droit
public they might think proper to efta-
blifh within their own dominions; and
that if their conftitution was publicly
known, the treaties exifting between
his Majefty and the Emperor were at
leaft equally public, and in these it was
clearly and diftinctly announced, that
the two contracting parties reciprocally
promife not to lay down their arms with-
out the reftitution of all the dominions,
territories, &c. which may have belong.
ed to either of them before the war.
That the date of this ftipulation was pre-
vious to their annexing the Austrian Ne- ▸
therlands to France; and the notoriety
of this ought at the very moment when
they had paffed that law, to have con-
vinced them, that, if adhered to, it must
prove an infurmountable obstacle to
peace. I applied his maxim to the
Weft India Islands, and to the settle-
ments in the Eaft Indies; and asked
him, Whether it was expected that we
were to wave our right of poffeffion, and
be required still to confider them as in
tegral parts of the French Republic
which must be restored, and on which
no value was to be fet in the balance of

I alfo ftated the poffible cafe of France having loft part of what the deemed her integral dominions, inftead of having added to them in the courfe of the war, and whether then, under the apprehenfion of still greater loffes, the Government, as it was now compofed, fhould confider


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

itself as not vefted with powers fufficient to fave their country from the impend ing danger, by making peace on the conditions of facrificing a portion of their dominions to fave the remainder? M. Delacroix faid, this was stating a cafe of neceffity, and fuch a mode of reafoning did not attach to the present circumftances. I readily admitted the firft part of this propofition, but contended, that if the power existed in a cafe of neceffity, it equally exifted in all others, and particularly in the cafe before us; fince he himself had repeatedly told me, that peace was what this country and its Government wished for, and even wanted.

M. Delacroix, in reply, fhifted his ground, and by a ftring of arguments, founded on premiffes calculated for this purpose, attempted to prove, that, from the relative fituation of the adjacent countries, the prefent Government of France would be reprehenfible in the extreme, and deserve impeachment, if they ever permitted the Netherlands to be feparated from their dominions; that by the partition of Poland, Ruffia, Austria, and Pruffia had increased their power to a most formidable degree; that England, by its conquefts, and by the activity and judgement with which it governed its colonies, had doubled its ftrength.

Your Indian empire alone, faid M Delacroix with vehemence, has enabled you to fubfidize all the Powers of Europé against us, and your monopoly of trade has put you in poffeffion of a fund of inexhauftible wealth. His words were, "Votre empire dans l'Inde vous a fourni les Moyens de falarir toutes les Puiffances contre nous, et vous avez accapare le commerce de maniere que toutes les richeffes du monde se versent dans vos coffres."

From the neceffity that France fhould keep the Netherlands and the left bank of the Rhine, for the purpose of preserv ing its relative fituation in Europe, he paffed to the advantages which he contended would refult to the other powers by fuch an addition to the French dominions. Belgium (to use his word), by belonging to France, would remove what had been the fource of all wars for two centuries paft; and the Rhine being the natural boundary of France, would enfure the tranquillity of Europe for two centuries to come. I did not feel it neceffary to combate this prepof

terous doctrine; I contented myfelf with reminding him of what he had said to me in one of our last conférences, when he made a comparison of the weakness of France under its Monarchs, and its ftrength and vigour under its Republican form of government. "Nous né fommes plus dane la decrepitude de la France Monarchique, mais dans toute la force d'une Republique adolefcenter," was his expreffion; and I inferred from this, according to his own reasoning, that the force and power, France had acquired by its change of government, was much greater than it could derive from any acquifition of territory; and that it followed, if France when under a regal form of government was a very juft and conftant object of attention, not to say of jealoufy, to the other powers of Europe, France (admitting her axiom) was a much more reasonable object of jealoufy and attention under its prefent conftitution, than it ever had yet been, and that no addition to its dominions could be seen by its neighbours but under impreffions of alarm for their own future safety, and for the general tranquillity of Europe. M. Delacroix's anfwer to this was fo remarkable, that I muft beg leave to infert it in what I believe to be nearly his own words :" Dans le tems revolutionaire tout ce que vous dites, my Lord, etoit vrairien n'egaloit notre puiffance; mais ce tems n'existe plus. Nous ne pouvons plus lever la nation en maffe pour voler au fecours de la patrie en dangert Nous ne pouvons plus engager nos concitoyens d'ouvrir leurs bourfes pour les verfer dans le trefor national, et de fe priver meme du neceffaire pour le bien de la chofe publiquet." And he ended by faying, that the French Republic, when at peace, neceffarily must become the most quiet and pacific power in Europe. I only obferved, that in this cafe the paffage of the Republic from youth to

We are no longer in the dotage of the French Monarchy, but in all the vigour of a young republic.


During the Revolution, my Lord, all that you fay was true; nothing could equal our power. But that time is now over. We can no longer raise the nation in a body to defend their country, though in danger; we can no longer perfuade our fellow citizens to open their purfes to pour them into the national treasury, or deprive themselves of the neceffaries of life for the public good. 6 F 2


decrepitude had been very fudden; but that ftill I never could admit that it could be matter of indifference to its neighbours, much lefs a neceffary fecurity to itself, to acquire fuch a very extenfive addition to its frontiers as that he had hinted at.

This led M. Delacroix to talk of offering an equivalent to the Emperor for the Auftrian Netherlands; and it was to be found, according to his plan, in the fecularization of the three Ecclefiaftical Electorates, and feveral Bithoprics in Germany and in Italy.

He talked upon this fubject as one very familiar to him, and on which his thoughts had been frequently employed.

He fpoke of making new Electors, and named, probably with a view to render his fcheme more palatable, the Stadtholder and the Dukes of Brunswick and Wurtemberg as perfons proper to replace the three Ecclefiaftical Electors which were to be reformed.

ceffarily become fubject matter for ne gociation, and be balanced against each other in the final arrangement of a ge neral peace. "You then perfift," faid M. Delacroix, "in applying this principle to Belgium?" I answered, “Moft certainly; and I fhould not deal fairly with you if I hefitated to declare, in the outfet of our negotiation, that on this point you must entertain no expectation that his Majefty will relax, or ever confent to fee the Netherlands remain a part of France."

It would be making an ill use of your Lordship's time to endeavour to repeat to you all he faid on this subject; it went in fubftance (as he himself confef fed) to the total fubverfion of the present conftitution of the Germanic Body; and as it militated directly against the principle which both his Majefty and the Emperor laid down so distinctly as the bafis of the peace to be made for the Empire, I contented myself with reminding him of this circumftance, particularly as it is impoffible to difcufs this point with any propriety till his Imperial Majefty becomes a party to the negociation. I took this opportunity of hinting, that if, on all the other points, France agreed to the propofals now made, it would not be impoffible that some increase of territory might be ceded to her on the Germanic fide of her frontiers, and that this, in addition to the Duchy of Savoy, Nice, and Avignon, would be a very great acquifition of ftrength and power. M. Delacroix here again reverted to the conftitution, and faid, that thefe countries were already conftitutionally annexed to France. I replied, that it was impoffible, in the negociation which we were beginning, for the other powers to take it up from any period but that which immediately preceded the war, and that any acquifition or diminution of territory, which had taken place among the belligerent powers fince it first broke out, muft ne

M. Delacroix replied, he saw no prof. pect in this cafe of our ideas ever meet ing, and he defpaired of the fuccefs of our negociation. He returned again, however, to his idea of a poffible equivalent to be found for the Emperor; but as all he proposed was the alienation or difmemberment of countries not belonging to France, even by conqueft, I did not confider it as deferving atten tion, and it is certainly not worth repeating to your Lordship.

I need not obferve that all the equivalents propofed, however inadequate to the exchange, were offered as a return for our confent that the Netherlands fhould remain part of France; of course the admitting them in any fhape would have been in direct contradiction to my instructions.

M. Delacroix touched very flightly on Italy, and the courfe of our converfation did not bring this part of the subject more into difcuffion.

I muft add, that whenever I mentioned the restoration of the Netherlands to the Emperor, I always took care it should be understood that these were to be accompanied by fuch further ceffions as fhould form a competent line of defence, and that France could not be permitted to keep poffeffion of all the intermediate country to the Rhine; and I particularly dwelt on this point, when I held out the poffibility of admitting an extenfion of the limits of France on the fide of Germany. But as the French Minifter no lefs ftrenuously opposed the reftitution of the Netherlands to the Emperor, than I tenaciously infifted up on it, the further extenfion of my claim could not of course become a subject of argument.

I believe I have now, with a tolerable degree of accuracy, informed your Lordfhip of all that the French Minifter faid on my opening myself to him on that


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

part of my inftruction's which more im- however, appear quite impoffible that mediately relates to peace between this point might be fettled without much Great Britain, his Imperial Majefly, and difficulty; and that means might be deFrance. It remains with me to inform vifed that his Catholic Majefly thould your Lordship what paffed between us not break his faith, and both England on the fubject of our refpective allies. and France be equally fatisfied. I then held out to him, but in general terms, that either Spain might regain her part of St Domingo, by making fome confiderable ceflion to Great Britain and France, as the price of peace, or that, in return for leaving the whole of St Domingo to France, we fhould retain either Martinico, or St Lucia and Toba go. M. Delacroix liftened with a degree of attention to these proposals, but he was fearful of committing himself by any expreffion of approbation, and he difmiffed the fubject of the Court of Madrid by obferving, that France never would forfake the interefts of its allies.

On the articles referving a right to the Court of St Petersburgh, and to that of Lisbon, to accede to the treaty of peace on the strict status ante bellum, the French Minifter made no other remark than mentioning the allies of the Republic, and by enquiring whether I was prepared to fay any thing relative to their interefts, which certainly the Republic could never abandon. This afforded me the opportunity of giving in the confidential memorial B. relative to Spain and Holland, and I prefaced it by repeating to him the fubftance of the firft part of your Lordship's No 12.

Although I had touched upon the Spanish part of St Domingo, when I had been speaking to M. Delacroix on the peace with France, yet, as it did not become a matter of difcuffion between us till I came to mention the peace with Spain, I thought it better to place all that paffed on the subject in this part of my dispatch; it was the only point on which he entered, but I by no means infer, from his not bringing forward fome claims for Spain, that we are not to hear of any in the course of the nego tiation; on the contrary I have little doubt that many, and most of them inadmiffible, will be made before it can be ended. He, however, was filent on them at this moment, and confined all, that he had to fay to combating the idea that Spain was bound by the treaty of Utrecht, not to alienate her poffeffions in America. I had the article copied in my pocket, and I read it to him. He confeffed it was clear and explicit, but that circumftances had fo materially altered fince the year 1714, that engagements made then ought not to be confidered as in force now. I faid that the fpirit of the article itself went to provide for diftant contingencies, not for what was expected to happen at or near the time when the treaty was made, and that it was because the alteration of circumftances he alluded to as poffible that the claufe was inferted; and that if Spain paid any regard to the faith of treaties, the must confider herself as no lefs ftrictly bound by this clause now, than at the moment it was drawn up.

I went on by faying, that it did not,

Our converfation on thofe of its other ally, Holland, was much longer, as the wording of the memorial inevitably led at once deep into the fubject.

M. Delacroix affected to treat any deviation from the treaty of peace concluded between France and that country, or any restoration of territories acquired, under that treaty, to France, as quite impracticable. He treated as equally impracticable any attempt at reftoring the ancient form of government in the Seven United Provinces. He talked with an air of triumph of the eftăblishment of a National Convention at the Hague, and with an affectation of feeling, that by it the cause of freedom had extended itself over fuch a large number of people. He, however, was ready to confefs, that from the great loffes the Dutch Republic had fuftained in its colonies, and particularly from the weak manner in which they had defended them, it could not be expected that his Majefty would confent to a full and complete reflitution of them, and that it was reafonable that fome fhould be facrificed; and he asked me if I could inform him how far our views extended on this point?—I said I had reafon to believe that what his Majefty would require, would be poffeffions and fettlements which would not add either to the power or wealth of our Indian do. minions, but only tend to fecure to us their fafe and unmolefted poffeffion. You mean by this, faid M. Delacroix, the Cape and Trincomale? I said, they certainly came under that defcription; and I faw little profpect of their being

« ZurückWeiter »