Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

From St . James's Magazine. LADY DIPLOMATISTS.

Cardinal Mazarin, who, as everybody knows, frequently employed women to carry out his political plans, once made the remark, "Let femmes sont dignes de regir un royaume;" and, in truth, women have at times ruled like men, holding the reins of government with a safe, firm hand; and just history will not deny them great thoughts or great deeds. The reigns of Queen Elizabeth, Maria Theresa, and Catharine II., are among the most brilliant in the history of their countries; but they are exceptions to the rule. Woman is not made to govern—she is incompetent to carry out strict justice; and the reigns of women are generally marked by precipitation, a tendenc) for arbitrary undertakings, and more especially a martiali spirit. The heart is woven up in politics, j with all its impulses and susceptibilities, which calculate less than they crave; and hence originates the rule of favorites, who are summoned to their influential posts by a woman's feeble heart, rather than their own talents and merits. On one of these reefs j the reigns of nearly all women—the most j eminent not excepted—have been stranded; j and however brilliant they have been for the i moment, the after pangs have soon been felt. j Such were the reigns of the Spanish Isabella, j Margaret of Denmark, Queens Elizabeth and I Anne, the Empress Maria Theresa, and the I Russian empresses; and however fine their j reigns may have been for a season, we seek I in vain among the majority of them for deeds and institutions which the verdict of later history has declared to be valuable. In an aristocratic republic—as England of to-day j has been not unfairly called—the crown can i be placed without hesitation on a woman's head, because among us the sovereign cannot personally interfere in the government; and the reign of Queen Victoria furnishes a proof that a woman is more easily enabled to recognize the fulfilment of her regent duties in the fulfilment of her family duties, than is a man, whose desire it always is to prove his personal influence in public affairs, to a greater or less extent. The reign of our queen, therefore, though so justly applauded,' must not at all be cited as a proof that women fin' competent to govern, because the sole task of an English sovereign, in the present

development of political relations, is to abstain from governing.

We have no intention, in these remarks, to offend the fairer sex; and we wish them, as compensation for their inability to govern, all the greater influence in their family over their husband, so soon as the latter has put on his dressing-gown. They will still be able to prove to the stronger sex, who are called upon to govern, that they are subject to their beauteous eyes, and frequently compelled to carry out their wishes, even beyond the family circle. If women were granted a place in the political affairs of the State by the side of their husbands, or if too great scope were allowed even to their radiant influence, they would only become estranged from their family, and thus an incurable wound would be dealt to the social, as well as the political order of things. This lesson history has often taught us with her warning voice. We cannot have a more striking proof of our assertion than the case of France. In that country, women have always sought to exert an influence beyond the family circle; and a still current proverb says, that in France they are the real men. In what other European country, however, has the social basis of political and social order been so shaken as in France? and hence pious and sensible women have ever recognized that it is not their business to be active in politics. A striking instance of this will be found in Macaulay's history, when he describes Princess Mary's behavior, on being informed that she was heiress to the British crown. By her directions the Prince of Orange was appointed co-regent, and she always kept her promise, that he should be the actual monarch.

The case is different, however, when w» turn to another official character, which women, according to the almost universal opinion of authorities on the law of nations, are allowed to assume—namely, the ambassadorial. Up to a short time ago, it was an undeniable principle that the appointment of an envoy was entirely independent of sex. Moser, in his work " L'Ambaasadrice el sea Droits," declared that it was an exploded idea that only men were suited for diplomatic missions; and, on the contrary, bi»tory teaches that those political affairs in which women played a part, were most cleverly arranged; and hence this writer stepped for-ward as champion for woman's rights in this respect. Many other writers have advocated the same claim; and the legal ground upon which they base it is practice. It has been from the earliest times the custom among European sovereigns to employ women on diplomatic missions, so that in this way a law of usage has sprung up, and no prince has the right to refuse recognition to an ambassadress, should she be sent to his court. Let us now investigate the real nature of this practice.

1 he oldest instance of a woman being inrested with an ambassadorial character, is the mission, in 1525, of Princess Marguerite of France, widow of the Due d'Aleneon, to Madrid, in order to obtain the liberation of her brother, Francis I., from the Emperor Charles V. The king's mother, who held the regency during his absence, certainly sent her daughter with express commissions, intended to produce the desired result, but she did not invest her with the slightest official character. -Of an even earlier date is the diplomatic mission of Margaret, daughter of Emperor Maximilian I., who, in the year 1508, when she was widow of Duke Philibert of Savoy, concluded the well-known lesj^ue of Cambray. She carried on the negotiations, not only in the name of her imperial father, but also in that of King Ferdinand of Spain; while Cardinal Amboise negotiated for the King of France and the Pope. Margaret, by her cleverness, succeeded in arranging this treaty, which was so injurious to Venice. A few years later, in 1529, a peace was made at Cambray, which is known in history by the name of the "Ladies' Peace," because two ladies were the negotiators—the mother of Francis I., and the aunt and governess of Charles V. The following details about this peace, which was so injurious to Francis L, are interesting. The two ladies, Louise of Savoy, and Margaret of Burgundy, lived in two adjoining houses, between which they had a door of communication made, so as to enjoy each other's society uninterruptedly. Louise possessed her son's confidence as fully as Margaret did her nephew's; and both had managed the business of the State during a lengthened period for their pupils. It would be difficult to understand the treaty upon which the two ladies ajrreed at Cambray, if we were not aware that Francis I. was disposed to make any for the sake of liberating his two

sons, who were kept prisoners at Madrid by the emperor. Several other instances of diplomatic action on the part of princesses at that period may be cited; thus Wicquofort, in his well-known work, " L'Ambassadeur et ses Fonctions," alludes to the diplomatic missions of Eleanor, Queen of France, and Maria, Queen of Hungary, who, in 1537, eoncluded at Bonnecy a three months' armistice in the names of Charles V. and Francis L Still, Moser draws attention to the fact that princesses must not be regarded as envoys, because they never received ambassadorial letters of credit, but merely ordinary full powers for the purpose of their negotiation. Later writers have therefore, based their claim for the right of ladies being appointed envoys, upon two other instances: they ar« the notorious Aurora, Countess von Konigsmark, whom Augustus the Strong sent to Charles XII. of Sweden; and an ambassadress of Louis XIV., la Marechale de Guebriant.

Marie Aurora von Konigsmark was born in 1666, at the Agathenburg, near Stade. This lady, who was renowned for her beauty and her wit, lived for several years on the most intimate terms with King Augustus, and was afterwards nominated Abbess of the princely imperial foundatoni of Quedlinburg. While living at her abbey, Augustus was hard pressed by the King of Sweden, and was without means to oppose him, and unable to pay the small body of troops that he still possessed. On hearing of the sore straits of the man whom she still loved, the Countess Konigsmark hastened to Dresden, in order to arouse the king, and remind him of the duties of his lofty position, which he forgot in rioting and dissipation of every description. She spoke about the old glory and renown of his name enthusiastically, as a woman can speak to her lover; but tha king had lost all his energy, and could not be induced to take any bold or decided step. The lovely lady, therefore, resolved to go herself to Charles XII., whose pride and arrogance were so painful to her Augustus. She received a secret mission to the Swedish king, who, however, refused to receive her | he hated women, and was ratker pleased at venting this hatred on the loveliest and most amiable of his contemporaries. After great difficulty, the countess contrived to catch tha king in camp. She got out of her carriage, and delivered an address; but the king did not reply to it, and merely bowed and rode on. At length the minister, Count Piper, obtained permission to invite the countess to a court banquet; but the lady, as an imperial princess, demanded a special seat at table. Charles ordered that she should be placed below all the other ladies; and when Count Piper, in his surprise, asked the reason, the king replied that, as an ex-mistress, she had no claim to a better seat. All the minister's representations were fruitless; and Aurora did not appear at the banquet. Her mission had failed, and she returned to her convent. She revenged herself on the king by a biting pasquinade, which in all probability he never saw. The question now arises whether this beautiful and really gifted woman is to be regarded as an ambassadress in the strict sense. The most important thing to establish the ambassadorial character is the letter which accredits the envoy to the foreign sovereign. But Aurora had no such letter. Real, in his " Science du Gouvernement," and Voltaire, in his "History of Charles XII.," draws special attention to this fact; and Wicquefort indirectly allows it, by stating that there was never more than one real ambassadress, la Marechale de Guebriant.

When King Ladislaus IV., of Poland, lost his first wife, Cecilia Renata, of Austria, in March, 1644, he selected a new consort soon after, in the daughter of the deceased Duke of Mantua, Marie de Onnzaga, Duchesse de Nevers. The marriage contract was signed by Louis XIV., at Fontainebleau, on September 26th, 1645; and on November 6th in the same year the marriage took place in the palace of the Palais Royal, at which the King of Poland was represented by his enYOy. On her journey to Poland, Louis gave her as companion la Marechale de Guebriant, whom he also expressly appointed his ambassadress to King Ladislaus. In the letters of credit she received (so Flassan tells us, in his "Histoire Diplomatique de France "), she was called by the king "Ambassadrice extraordinaire et Surintendante de la conduite de la Seine de Pologne." She was by birth Renata von Beck, and widow of Marshal Guebriant, who was killed at Rotweil, in 1643. All writers arc agreed in speaking highly of her skill and great cleverness in diplomatic negotiations ; and on this mission

she had ample opportunities for empln)ing both these qualities. The p'incess whom she accompanied was considered one of tho loveliest ladies of her age, and had not always held aloof from gallant adventures. These had been represented to the king with great exaggerations ; and calumnies of every description had brought him to such a state> that, when the princess entered the Polish territory, he most decidedly refused to consummate the marriage with her. He put forward, as his excuse, his constantly increasing debility, and insisted upon her r&turning to France. On this occasion Madame de Guebriant displayed her undoubted diplomatic abilities; she managed to overcome all the difficulties prepared for her at the Polish court; and at length imbued tha king with so stanch a conviction of the virtue of his future consort, that he no longer objected to marry her, whatever attempts might be made in influential quarters to induce him to adhere to his first intention. On this occasion, the ambassadress gained the Polish king's favor to such a degree, that he gave orders for her to be treated at his court with the same honors which had been paid to the Austrian archduchess, the sister of the King of Tuscany, when she brought her daughter, the king's first consort, to th» Polish court. Madame de Guebriant insisted on these honors being fully paid to her; and even claimed precedence of Princa Charles, the king's brother. From this arose a squabble, which, however, was decided by Ladislaus in favor of Madame d& Guebriant. On her journey through Poland, she had also claimed and received, in the provinces which she passed through, all the honorary distinctions to which an envoy can lay claim.

Louis XIV. very frequently employed ladies in matters connected with his foreign policy, and in this way he succeeded in exercising a marked influence upon the conduct of our Charles II. In order to get this king into the net which French intrigues had laid for him, he sent over the crafty, dissolute Louise de Querouailles, or Madam Canwell, as she was called in the popular lar>guagc of the day. Louis, however, did not give the lady the official character of an ervvoy; but her mission was purely confiderktial, and so confidential indeed, that Madame de Querouailles speedily became the king's mistress, and in this quality exercised such influence over him, that she drove away oil her rivals, whose number was not trifling. In this way, however, she succeeded in obtaining an authority which perfectly answered the expectations which the King of France formed from her charms and cleverness.

The following is an interesting example at the diplomatic ability of an Oriental princess. In 1460, Sultan Mahomed marched with a powerful army against David, the last Comnenus of the kingdom of Trebizonde, who was allied with Ursun, Prince of the Turcomans. He first intended to attack Ursun, but Sarah Chatun, mother of this prince, managed to form a treaty with the Sultan, by which she secured her son's kingdom, but betrayed his ally. She then conducted Mahomed by secret roads, where no resistance Was offered him, by her management, into the heart of David's territory. Unprepared as he was, the latter could offer no resistance, and Mahomed at once took possession of the capital. Out of the treasures which he found here, Sarah Chatun received a noble reward in gold and jewels for the services which she had rendered him; and thus the old and venerable kingdom of Trebizonde was overthrown by the faithless Intrigues and crafty diplomatic arts of this princess.

We are bound to mention here the Chevalier d'Eon, that mysterious being, who attracted universal attention in the second half of the last century. Everybody supposed him to be a woman; and yet he had served as soldier and diplomatist with great distinction. When very young, he entered the army, and displayed much bravery in several engagements; but he soon turned to a diplomatic career, and was first attached to the French embassy at St. Petersburg. At a later date, he was sent as private agent of the king to London, and so gained his good-will by the talent with which he carried out the difficult task entrusted to him, that he received the cross of St. Louis, and was appointed secretary of the legation in London. At that time he was generally supposed to be a woman ; the nobility made heavy wagers about his sex, but the chevalier maintained a discreet silence on the subject. He published his Memoirs about this time; and the French Government accused

him of distorting facts, and of acting indiscreetly in making other facts known, and hence he was dismissed from his post. In consideration of his former services, Louis XVI. gave him a pension of twelve thousand francs, under the condition, however, that he must appear in public in female clothing. The chevalier returned to Paris, where he went about in that costume, with the cross of St. Louis on his breast; and when he afterwards returned to London, he retained the same attire. He died in London, in the year 1810, and his death seems to have solved the doubts about his sex ; at any rate, he is called a man on his tombstone, the inscription on which is, or was, "Charles Genevieve Louis Auguste Timothce d'Eon de Beaumont, ne ' le 16 Octobre, 1727, mort le 21 Mai, 1810."

From all these facts, we may fairly arrive at the conclusion that the Marcchale de Guebriant is the only real ambassadress about whom we can feel certain; the other diplomatic ladies whom we have mentioned (of course we leave out of the question those who had but an indirect influence in political affairs) only performed the business of an envoy, but did not possess his official character. Real certainly mentions a Persian ambassadress, but from his general remarks we cannot discover whether the lady has really a claim to this character; and when we take into account the status which Islamism grants to woman, it is doubtful . The doctrine, therefore, put forward by writers on the law of nations, that the choice of an envoy in entirely independent of the sex, stands, as we see, on a very weak foundation. According to the principle that one swallow does not make a summer, the mission of Madame de Guebriant mn-t be regarded as what it really is—an historical curiosity, but not as a rule. Hence, to our great regret, we are bound to deny our lady readers any right to be ambassadresses—at least, in the sense in which we have hitherto employed the term. On the other hand, we most heartily wish that some of them may become ambassadresses in the other sense, namely, as wife of an ambassador. In order to leave them in no doubt as to the privileges and advantages accruing to them in that quality, we will now proceed to discuss the claims of an envoy's wife.

These privileges were the subject of Um

liveliest discussion among the publicists of the fashion with the old envoys extraordithe eighteenth century. Moser, the real nary. In the ancient times, as Tacitus infounder of the science of the law of nations 'forms us in his "Annals," it was considered —(Hugo Grotius, who is usually considered prejudicial for envoys to be accompanied by

so, derived his materials from the habits of the old Greeks and Romans, rather than those of his contemporaries), produced a valuable work under the title of " L'Ambastadrice et ses Droits;" and other writers

their wives. Even in the year 1638, this custom does not appear to have become general; for we read that the French envoy at the Hague said, laughingly, when the Spanish envoy arrived there with his wife,

have paid similar attention to the ladies. j " Que c'etait une ambassade hermaphrodite." Authors of the following century were less Still, this custom had been introduced at a gallant. We find in their works scarce any i much earlier period, and the basis laid for

notice of the privileges of an envoy's wife. This neglect is partly due to the alterations

that official character of an envoy's wife, which has become for her the source of such

that have taken place in diplomatic relations. i valuable privileges. This occurred at Roma

Up to the Congress of Aix-Ia-G'hapelle, the i during the reign of Pope Sixtus V.

great powers, with the exception of Prussia, j Count Olivarez was at that period the

sent only envoys of the first class, and the wives of such functionaries are those who have pre-eminent claims to dignities and privileges. Since this congress, however, all the great powers, up to a few years back, only employed envoys of the second class, whose wives possess far inferior privileges.

Spanish envoy at Rome. His wife, who accompanied him, lived, at first, in great retirement; but after her confinement, the envoy asked the Pope to do her the favor of giving her his blessing, and permitting her to kiss his foot, — a distinction generally granted to ladies of princely birth alone,

The present Emperor of the French was the on their first leaving the house. Sixtus V.,

first to restore first-class envoys, and the other great powers, excepting Prussia, as well as Spain and the Porte, have followed

however, gave his assent, because he was desirous to gain the Spanish envoy over; and in the solemn audience granted to the

his example. Since this change, the rights i Countess Olivarez for the purpose, the pope of ambassadors' wives have been again dis- ! addressed her as "Signora Ambasciatrice." cussed i and only a few months ago the I This was an unheard-of thing in Rome, and Russian newspapers produced a decree of I threw all the noble society into a state of the Austrian Minister of War, according to i excitement; but the immediate result was which all guards, inside and outside the i that the countess was everywhere addressed capital, must turn out and present arms to , by the new title. This fashion soon became the wives of foreign envoys, when they were ! general, and hence comes the official title of going to court. It is said that this was or- "Ambassadrice," granted to the wives of dered at the request of the Due de Gram- envoys at all European courts. This official mont, the French envoy, who stated that this title, however, was the basis of the official

was always done in Paris.

Prior to the introduction of permanent embassies, envoys' wives were unknown.

character which people began to invert these ladies with. The envoys of the first class, namely, immediately represent tha

This institution was first developed in the , person of their sovereign, and publicists desixteenth century; because it was not till clare that the ambassadress shares in her that period that the system of political bal- husband's " caracttre r'sprtseniani," From ance of power sprang up, which brought the , this fact we may explain the comprehensive princes and states of Europe into closer con- , ceremonial privileges conceded to an envoy's tact. The magnificent discoveries of that' wife; while the claims of the wives of er>age, the impulse given to commerce, and I voys of the second, third, and fourth classea various other circumstances, led to the en- (of whom it is customary to say that they do couragement of this system, which could be not represent their sovereign in person, but only maintained by the introduction of per- merely in business), are explained by the fact manent embassies. Since then it has become that they are regarded as belonging to ths the custom for envoys to take their wives i ambassador's suite. The law of nations with them to foreign courts, which was noti grants them all the privileges conceded to

« ZurückWeiter »