Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IV: FOREIGN AFFAIRS - The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville
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CHAPTER IV: FOREIGN AFFAIRS - Alexis de Tocqueville, The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville 
The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville, edited by the Comte de Tocqueville and now first translated into English by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos. With a portrait in Heliogravure (New York: Macmillan, 1896).
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I did not wish to interrupt the story of our home misfortunes to speak of the difficulties which we encountered abroad, and of which I had to bear the brunt more than any other. I shall now retrace my steps and return to that part of my subject.
When I found myself installed at the Foreign Office, and when the state of affairs had been placed before my eyes, I was alarmed at the number and extent of the difficulties which I perceived. But what caused me more anxiety than anything else was myself.
I possess a great natural distrust of self. The nine years which I had spent rather wretchedly in the last Assemblies of the Monarchy had tended greatly to increase this natural infirmity, and although the manner in which I had just undergone the trial of the Revolution of February had helped to raise me a little in my own opinion, I nevertheless accepted this great task, at a time like the present, only after much hesitation, and I did not enter into it without great fear.
Before long, I was able to make a certain number of observations which tranquillized if they did not entirely reassure me. I began by perceiving that affairs did not always increase in difficulty as they increased in size, as would naturally appear at a cursory glance: the contrary is rather the truth. Their complications do not grow with their importance; it even often happens that they assume a simpler aspect in the measure that their consequences become wider and more serious. Besides, a man whose will influences the destiny of a whole people always finds ready to hand more men willing to enlighten him, to assist him, to relieve him of details, more prepared to encourage, to defend him, than would be met with in second-rate affairs or inferior positions. And lastly, the size itself of the object pursued stimulates all the mental forces to such an extent, that though the task may be a little harder, the workman becomes much more expert.
I should have felt perplexed, full of care, discouragement and disordered excitement, in presence of petty responsibilities. I felt a peace of mind and a singular feeling of calm when brought face to face with larger ones. The sentiment of importance attached to the things I then did at once raised me to their level and kept me there. The idea of a rebuff had until then seemed insupportable to me; the prospect of a dazzling fall upon one of the greatest stages in the world, on which I was mounted, did not disconcert me; which showed that my weakness was not timidity but pride. I also was not long before perceiving that in politics, as in so many other matters—perhaps in all—the vivacity of impressions received was not in a ratio with the importance of the fact which produced it, but with the more or less frequent repetition of the latter. One who grows troubled and excited about the handling of a trifling piece of business, the only one which he happens to have taken in hand, ends by recovering his self-possession among greater ones, if they are repeated every day. Their frequency renders their effect, as it were, insensible. I have related how many enemies I used formerly to make by holding aloof from people who did not attract my attention by any merit; and as people had often taken for haughtiness the boredom they caused me, I strongly dreaded this reef in the great journey I was about to undertake. But I soon observed that, although insolence increases with certain persons in the exact proportion of the progress of their fortunes, it was different with me, and that it was much easier for me to display affability and even cordiality when I felt myself above, than when I was one of, the common herd. This comes from the fact that, being a minister, I no longer had the trouble of running after people, nor to fear lest I should be coldly received by them, men making it a necessity themselves to approach those who occupy posts of that sort, and being simple enough to attach great importance to their most trivial words. It comes also from this that, as a minister, I no longer had to do only with the ideas of fools, but also with their interests, which always supply a ready-made and easy subject of conversation.
I saw, therefore, that I was not so ill fitted as I had feared for the part I had undertaken to play. This discovery encouraged me, not only for the present, but for the rest of my life; and should I be asked what I gained in this Ministry, so troubled, so thwarted, and so short that I was only able to commence affairs in it and to finish none, I would answer that I gained one great advantage, perhaps the greatest advantage in the world—confidence in myself.
At home and abroad, our greatest obstacles came less from the difficulty of business than from those who had to conduct it with us. I saw this from the first. Most of our agents were creatures of the Monarchy, who, at the bottom of their hearts, furiously detested the Government they served; and in the name of democratic and republican France, they extolled the restoration of the old aristocracies and secretly worked for the re-establishment of all the absolute monarchies of Europe. Others, on the contrary, whom the Revolution of February had dragged from an obscurity in which they should have always remained, clandestinely supported the demagogic parties which the French Government was combating. But the chief fault of most of them was timidity. The greater number of our ambassadors were afraid to attach themselves to any particular policy in the countries in which they represented us, and even feared to display to their own Government opinions which might sooner or later have been counted as a crime against them. They therefore took care to keep themselves covertly concealed beneath a heap of little facts with which they crammed their correspondence (for in diplomacy you must always write, even when you know nothing and wish to say nothing), and they were very careful not to show what they thought of the events they chronicled, and still less to give us any indication as to what we were to conclude from them.
This condition of nullity to which our agents voluntarily reduced themselves, and which, to tell the truth, was in the case of most of them no more than an artificial perfectioning of nature, induced me, so soon as I had realized it, to employ new men at the great Courts.
I should have liked in the same way to be able to get rid of the leaders of the majority; but not being able to do this, I endeavoured to live on good terms with them, and I did not even despair of pleasing them, while at the same time remaining independent of their influence: a difficult undertaking in which I nevertheless succeeded; for, of all the Cabinet, I was the minister who most strongly opposed their policy and yet the only one who retained their good graces. My secret, if I must confess it, lay in flattering their self-conceit while neglecting their advice.
I had made an observation in small affairs which I deemed very applicable to greater ones: I had found that the most advantageous negociations are those conducted with human vanity; for one often obtains very substantial things from it, while giving very little substance in return. One never does so well when treating with ambition or cupidity. At the same time, it is a fact that in order to deal advantageously with the vanity of others, one must put his own entirely on one side and think of nothing but the success of his plans, an essential which will always prove a difficulty in the way of this sort of commerce. I practised it very happily at this time and to my great advantage. Three men thought themselves specially entitled to direct our foreign policy, owing to the position they had formerly occupied: these were M. de Broglie, M. Molé and M. Thiers. I overwhelmed all three of them with deference; I often sent for them to see me, and sometimes called upon them to consult them and to ask them, with a sort of modesty, for advice which I hardly ever followed. But this did not prevent these great men from displaying every satisfaction. I pleased them more by asking their opinion without following it than if I had followed it without asking it. Especially in the case of M. Thiers, this manœuvre of mine succeeded admirably. Rémusat, who, although without any personal pretentions, sincerely wished the Cabinet to last, and who had become familiarized through an intercourse extending over twenty-five years with all M. Thiers’ weaknesses, said to me one day:
“The world does not know M. Thiers well; he has much more vanity than ambition; and he prefers consideration to obedience, and the appearance of power to power itself. Consult him constantly, and then do just as you please. He will take more notice of your deference to him than of your actions.”
This is what I did, and with great success. In the two principal affairs that I had to conduct during my time of office, those of Piedmont and Turkey, I did precisely the opposite to what M. Thiers wished, and, nevertheless, we remained excellent friends till the end.
As to the President, it was especially in the conduct of foreign affairs that he showed how badly prepared he still was for the great part to which blind fortune had called him. I was not slow in perceiving that this man, whose pride aimed at leading everything, had not yet taken the smallest steps to inform himself of anything. I proposed to have an analysis drawn up every day of all the despatches and to submit it to his inspection. Before this, he knew what happened in the world only by hearsay, and only knew what the Minister for Foreign Affairs had thought fit to tell him. The solid basis of facts was always lacking to the operations of his mind, and this was easily seen in all the dreams with which the latter was filled. I was sometimes frightened at perceiving how much there was in his plans that was vast, chimerical, unscrupulous, and confused; although it is true that, when explaining the real state of things to him, I easily made him recognize the difficulties which they presented, for discussion was not his strong point. He was silent, but never yielded.
One of his myths was an alliance with one of the two great powers of Germany, of which he proposed to make use to alter the map of Europe and erase the limits which the treaties of 1815 had traced for France. As he saw that I did not believe it possible to find either of these powers inclined for an alliance of this sort, and with such an object, he undertook himself to sound their ambassadors in Paris. One of them came to me one day in a state of great excitement to tell me that the President of the Republic had asked him if, in consideration of an equivalent, his Court would not consent to allow France to seize Savoy. On another occasion, he conceived the idea of sending a private agent, one of his own men,1 as he called them, to come to a direct understanding with the German Princes. He chose Persigny, and asked me to give him his credentials; and I consented, knowing well that nothing could come of a negociation of this sort. I believe that Persigny had a two-fold mission: it was a question of facilitating the usurpation at home and an extension of territory abroad. He went first to Berlin and then to Vienna; as I expected, he was very well received, handsomely entertained, and politely bowed out.
But I have spoken enough of individuals; let us come to politics.
At the time when I took up office, Europe was, as it were, on fire, although the conflagration was already extinguished in certain countries. Sicily was conquered and subdued; the Neapolitans had returned to their obedience and even to their servitude; the battle of Novara had been fought and lost; the victorious Austrians were negociating with the son of Charles Albert, who had become King of Piedmont by his father’s abdication; their armies, issuing from the confines of Lombardy, occupied Parma, a portion of the Papal States, Placentia, and Tuscany, which they had entered unasked, and in spite of the fact that the Grand Duke had been restored by his subjects, who have been but ill rewarded since for their zeal and fidelity. But Venice still resisted, and Rome, after repelling our first attack, was calling all the demagogues of Italy to its assistance and exciting all Europe with its clamour. Never, perhaps, since February, had Germany seemed more divided or disturbed. Although the dream of German unity had been dispelled, the reality of the old Teutonic organization had not yet resumed its place. Reduced to a small number of members, the National Assembly, which had till then endeavoured to promote this unity, fled from Frankfort and hawked round the spectacle of its impotence and its ridiculous fury. But its fall did not restore order; on the contrary, it left a freer field for anarchy.
The moderate, one may say the innocent, revolutionaries, who had cherished the belief that they would be able, peacefully, and by means of arguments and decrees, to persuade the peoples and princes of Germany to submit to a single government, made way for the violent revolutionaries, who had always maintained that Germany could only be brought to a state of unity by the complete ruin of its old systems of government, and the entire abolition of the existing social order. Riots therefore followed on every hand upon parliamentary discussion. Political rivalries turned into a war of classes; the natural hatred and jealousy entertained by the poor for the rich developed into socialistic theories in many quarters, but especially in the small states of Central Germany and in the great Rhine Valley. Wurtemberg was in a state of agitation; Saxony had just experienced a terrible insurrection, which had only been crushed with the assistance of Prussia; insurrections had also occurred in Westphalia; the Palatinate was in open revolt; and Baden had expelled its Grand Duke, and appointed a Provisional Government. And yet the final victory of the Princes, which I had foreseen when travelling through Germany, a month before, was no longer in doubt; the very violence of the insurrections hastened it. The larger monarchies had recaptured their capitals and their armies. Their heads had still difficulties to conquer, but no more dangers; and themselves masters, or on the point of becoming so, at home, they could not fail soon to triumph in the second-rate States. By thus violently disturbing public order, the insurgents gave them the wish, the opportunity and the right to intervene.
Prussia had already commenced to do so. The Prussians had just suppressed the Saxon insurrection by force of arms; they now entered the Rhine Palatinate, offered their intervention to Wurtemberg, and prepared to invade the Grand-Duchy of Baden, thus occupying almost the whole of Germany with their soldiers or their influence.
Austria had emerged from the terrible crisis which had threatened its existence, but it was still in great travail. Its armies, after conquering in Italy, were being defeated in Hungary. Despairing of mastering its subjects unaided, it had called Russia to its assistance, and the Tsar, in a manifesto dated 13 May, had announced to Europe that he was marching against the Hungarians. The Emperor Nicholas had till then remained at rest amid his uncontested might. He had viewed the agitation of the nations from afar in safety, but not with indifference. Thenceforward, he alone among the great powers of Europe represented the old state of society and the old traditional principle of authority. He was not only its representative: he considered himself its champion. His political theories, his religious belief, his ambition and his conscience, all urged him to adopt this part. He had, therefore, made for himself out of the cause of authority throughout the world a second empire yet vaster than the first. He encouraged with his letters and rewarded with his honours all those who, in whatever corner of Europe, gained victories over anarchy and even over liberty, as though they were his subjects and had contributed to strengthening his own power. He had thus sent, to the extreme South of Europe, one of his orders to Filangieri, the conqueror of the Sicilians, and had written that general an autograph letter to show to him that he was satisfied with his conduct. From the lofty position which he occupied, and whence he peacefully watched the various incidents of the struggle which shook Europe, the Emperor judged freely, and followed with a certain tranquil disdain, not only the follies of the revolutionaries whom he pursued, but also the vices and the faults of the parties and princes whom he assisted. He expressed himself on this subject simply and as the occasion required, without showing any eagerness to disclose his thoughts or taking any pains to conceal them.
Lamoricière wrote to me on the 11th of August 1849, in a secret despatch:
“The Tsar said to me this morning, ‘You believe, general, that your dynastic parties would be capable of uniting with the Radicals to overthrow a dynasty which they disliked, in the hope of setting their own in its place; and I am certain of it. Your Legitimist Party especially would not hesitate to do so. I have long since thought that it is the Legitimists who make the Elder Branch of the Bourbons impossible. This is one of the reasons why I recognized the Republic; and also because I perceive in your nation a certain common sense which is wanting in the Gremans.’
“Later, the Emperor also said, ‘The King of Prussia, my brother-in-law, with whom I was on very close terms of friendship, has not taken the slightest heed of my advice. The result is that our political relations have become remarkably cool, to such an extent that they have affected even our family relations. Look at the things he has done: did he not put himself at the head of those fools who dream of an United Germany, and now that he has broken with the Frankfort Parliament, has he not brought himself to the necessity of fighting the troops of the Schleswig-Holstein Duchies, which were levied under his patronage! Is it possible to imagine anything more disgraceful? And now, who knows how far he will go with his constitutional proposals?’ He added, ‘Do not think that, because I intervene in Hungary, I wish to justify the conduct of Austria in this affair. She has heaped up, one on the other, the most serious faults and the greatest follies; but when all is said and done, it had allowed the country to be invaded by subversive doctrines, and the government had fallen into the hands of disorderly persons. This was not to be endured.’
“Speaking of the affairs of Italy, ‘We others,’ he said, ‘see nothing in those temporal functions fulfilled in Rome by ecclesiastics; but it matters little to us how those priests arrange things among themselves, provided that something is set up which will last and that you constitute the power in such a way that it can stand.”
Hereupon Lamoricière, wounded by this supercilious tone, which smelt somewhat of the autocrat and betrayed a sort of rivalry as between pope and pope, began to defend Catholic institutions.
“ ‘Very well, very well,’ said the Emperor, ending the conversation, ‘let France be as Catholic as she pleases, only let her protect herself against the insane theories and passions of innovators.’ ”
Though hard and austere in the exercise of his power, the Tsar was simple and almost bourgeois in his habits, keeping only the substance of sovereign power and rejecting its pomp and worries. On the 17th of July, the French Ambassador at St Petersburg wrote to me:
“The Emperor is here; he arrived from Warsaw without suite of any kind, in an ordinary post-cart—his carriage had broke down sixty leagues from here—so as to be in time for the Empress’s saint’s-day, which has just taken place. He did the journey with extraordinary rapidity, in two days and a half, and he leaves again to-morrow. Every one here is touched with this contrast of power and simplicity, with the sight of this Sovereign who, after hurling one hundred and twenty thousand men on to the battle-field, races along the roads like a feld-Jäger, so as not to miss his wife’s saint’s-day. Nothing is more in keeping with the spirit of the Slavs, among whom one might say that the principal element of civilization is the spirit of family.”
It would, in fact, be a great mistake to think that the Tsar’s immense power was only based upon force. It was founded, above all, on the wishes and the ardent sympathies of the Russians. For the principle of the sovereignty of the people lies at the root of all government, whatever may be said to the contrary, and lurks beneath the least independent institutions. The Russian nobles had adopted the principles and still more the vices of Europe; but the people were not in touch with our West and with the new spirit which animated it. They saw in the Emperor not only their lawful Prince, but the envoy of God, and almost God Himself.
In the midst of this Europe which I have depicted, the position of France was one of weakness and embarrassment. Nowhere had the Revolution succeeded in establishing a regular and stable system of liberty. On every side, the old powers were rising up again from amid the ruins which it had made—not, it is true, the same as when they fell, but very similar. We could not assist the latter in establishing themselves nor ensure their victory, for the system which they were setting up was antipathetic, I will say not only to the institutions created by the Revolution of February, but, at the root of our ideas, to all that was most permanent and unconquerable in our new habits. They, on their side, distrusted us, and rightly. The great part of restorers of the general order in Europe was therefore forbidden us. This part, moreover, was already played by another: it belonged by right to Russia, and only the second remained for us. As to placing France at the head of the innovators, this was to be still less thought of, for two reasons: first, that it would have been absolutely impossible to advise these latter or to hope to lead them, because of their extravagance and their detestable incapacity; secondly, that it was not possible to support them abroad without falling beneath their blows at home. The contact of their passions and doctrines would have put all France in flame, revolutionary doctrines at that time dominating all others. Thus we were neither able to unite with the nations, who accused us of urging them on and then betraying them, nor with the princes, who reproached us with shaking their thrones. We were reduced to accepting the sterile good-will of the English: it was the same isolation as before February, with the Continent more hostile to us and England more lukewarm. It was therefore necessary, as it had been then, to reduce ourselves to leading a small life, from day to day; but even this was difficult. The French Nation, which had made and, in a certain way, still made so great a figure in the world, kicked against this necessity of the time: it had remained haughty while it ceased to be preponderant; it feared to act and tried to talk loudly; and it also expected its Government to be proud, without, however, permitting it to run the risks which such conduct entailed.
Never had France been looked upon with more anxiety than at the moment when the Cabinet had just been formed. The easy and complete victory which we had won in Paris on the 13th of June had extraordinary rebounds throughout Europe. A new insurrection in France was generally expected. The revolutionaries, half destroyed, relied only upon this occurrence to recover themselves, and they redoubled their efforts in order to be able to take advantage of it. The governments, half victorious, fearing to be surprised by this crisis, stopped before striking their final blow. The day of the 13th of June gave rise to cries of pain and joy from one end of the Continent to the other. It decided fortune suddenly, and precipitated it towards the Rhine.
The Prussian army, already master of the Palatinate, at once burst into the Grand-Duchy of Baden, dispersed the insurgents, and occupied the whole country, with the exception of Rastadt, which held out for a few weeks.1
The Baden revolutionaries took refuge in Switzerland. Refugees were then arriving in that country from Italy, France, and to tell the truth, from every corner of Europe, for all Europe, with the exception of Russia, had undergone or was undergoing a revolution. Their number soon amounted to ten or twelve thousand. It was an army always ready to fall upon the neighbouring States. All the Cabinets were alarmed at it.
Austria and especially Prussia, which had already had reason to complain of the Confederation, and even Russia, which was in no way concerned, spoke of invading Swiss territory with armed forces and acting as a police in the name of all the governments threatened. This we could not allow.
I first endeavoured to make the Swiss listen to reason, and to persuade them not to wait till they were threatened, but themselves to expel from their territory, as the Law of Nations required them to do, all the principal ringleaders who openly threatened neighbouring nations.
“If you in this way anticipate what they have the right to ask of you,” I incessantly repeated to the representative in Paris of the Swiss Confederation, “you can rely upon France to defend you against any unjust or exaggerated pretensions put forward by the Courts. We will rather risk war than permit them to oppress or humiliate you. But if you refuse to bring reason on your side, you must only rely upon yourselves, and you will have to defend yourselves against all Europe.”
This language had little effect, for there is nothing to equal the pride and conceit of the Swiss. Not one of those peasants but believes that his country is able to defy all the princes and all the nations of the earth. I then set to work in another way, which was more successful. This was to advise the foreign Governments (who were only too disposed to agree) to refuse for a certain period all amnesty to such of their subjects as had taken refuge in Switzerland, and to deny all of them, whatever their degree of guilt, the right to return to their country. On our side, we closed our frontiers to all those who, after taking refuge in Switzerland, wished to cross France in order to go to England or America, including the inoffensive refugees as well as the ringleaders. Every outlet being thus closed, Switzerland remained encumbered with those ten or twelve thousand adventurers, the most turbulent and disorderly people in all Europe. It was necessary to feed, lodge, and even pay them, lest they should levy contributions on the country. This suddenly enlightened the Swiss as to the drawbacks attendant upon the right of asylum. They could have made arrangements to have kept the illustrious chiefs for an indefinite period, in spite of the danger with which these menaced their neighbours; but the revolutionary army was a great nuisance to them. The more radical cantons were the first to raise a loud clamour and to ask to be rid of these inconvenient and expensive visitors. And as it was impossible to persuade the foreign Governments to open their territory to the crowd of inoffensive refugees who were able and willing to leave Switzerland, without first driving out the leaders who would have liked to stay, they ended by expelling these. After almost bringing all Europe down upon them rather than remove these men from their territory, the Swiss ended by driving them out of their own accord in order to avoid a temporary inconvenience and a trifling expense. No better example was ever given of the nature of democracies, which, as a rule, have only very confused or very erroneous ideas on external affairs, and generally solve outside questions only by internal reasons.
While these things were happening in Switzerland, the general aspect of affairs in Germany underwent a change. The struggles of the nations against the Governments were followed by quarrels of the Princes among themselves. I followed this new phase of the Revolution with a very attentive gaze and a very perplexed mind.
The Revolution in Germany had not proceeded from a simple cause, as in the rest of Europe. It was produced at once by the general spirit of the time and by the unitarian ideas peculiar to the Germans. The democracy was now beaten, but the idea of German unity was not destroyed; the needs, the memories, the passions that had inspired it survived. The King of Prussia had undertaken to appropriate it and make use of it. This Prince, a man of intelligence but of very little sense, had been wavering for a year between his fear of the Revolution and his desire to turn it to account. He struggled as much as he could against the liberal and democratic spirit, of the age; yet he favoured the German unitarian spirit, a blundering game in which, if he had dared to go to the length of his desires, he would have risked his Crown and his life. For, in order to overcome the resistance which existing institutions and the interests of the Princes were bound to oppose to the establishment of a central power, he would have had to summon the revolutionary passions of the peoples to his aid, and of these Frederic William could not have made use without soon being destroyed by them himself.
So long as the Frankfort Parliament retained its prestige and its power, the King of Prussia entreated it kindly and strove to get himself placed by it at the head of the new Empire. When the Parliament fell into discredit and powerlessness, the King changed his behaviour without changing his plans. He endeavoured to obtain the legacy of this assembly and to combat the Revolution by realizing the chimera of German unity, of which the democrats had made use to shake every throne. With this intention, he invited all the German Princes to come to an understanding with him to form a new Confederation, which should be closer than that of 1815, and to give him the government of it. In return he undertook to establish and strengthen them in their States. These Princes, who detested Prussia, but who trembled before the Revolution, for the most part accepted the usurious bargain proposed to them. Austria, which the success of this proposal would have driven out of Germany, protested, being not yet in a position to do more. The two principal monarchies of the South, Bavaria and Wurtemberg, followed its example, but all North and Central Germany entered into this ephemeral Confederation, which was concluded on the 26th of May 1849 and is known in history by the name of the Union of the Three Kings.1
Prussia then suddenly became the dominating power in a vast stretch of country, reaching from Memel to Basle, and at one time saw twenty-six or twenty-seven million Germans marching under its orders. All this was completed shortly after my arrival in office.
I confess that, at the sight of this singular spectacle, my mind was crossed with strange ideas, and I was for a moment tempted to believe that the President was not so mad in his foreign policy as I had at first thought him. That union of the great Courts of the North, which had so long weighed heavily upon us, was broken. Two of the great Continental monarchies, Prussia and Austria, were quarrelling and almost at war. Had not the moment come for us to contract one of those intimate and powerful alliances which we have been compelled to forego for sixty years, and perhaps in a measure to repair our losses of 1815? France, by platonically assisting Frederic William in his enterprises, which England did not oppose, could divide Europe and bring on one of those great crises which entail a redistribution of territory.
The time seemed so well to lend itself to these ideas that they filled the imagination of many of the German Princes themselves. The more powerful among them dreamt of nothing but changes of frontier and accessions of power at the expense of their neighbours. The revolutionary malady of the nations seemed to have attacked the governments.
“There is no Confederation possible with eight and thirty States,” said the Bavarian Foreign Minister, Baron von der Pfordten, to our Envoy. “It will be necessary to mediatize a large number of them. How, for instance, can we ever hope to re-establish order in a country like Baden, unless we divide it among sovereigns strong enough to make themselves obeyed? In that case,” he added, “the Neckar Valley would naturally fall to our share.”1
For my part, I soon dispelled from my mind, as mere visions, all thoughts of this kind. I quickly realized that Prussia was neither able nor willing to give us anything worth having in exchange for our good offices; that its power over the other German States was very precarious, and was likely to be ephemeral; that no reliance was to be placed in its King, who at the first obstacle would have failed us and failed himself; and, above all, that such extensive and ambitious designs were not suited to so ill-established a state of society and to such troubled and dangerous times as ours, nor to transient powers such as that which chance had placed in my hands.
I put a more serious question to myself, and it was this—I recall it here because it is bound constantly to crop up again: Is it to the interest of France that the bonds which hold together the German Confederation should be strengthened or relaxed? In other words, ought we to desire that Germany should in a certain sense become a single nation, or that it should remain an ill-joined conglomeration of disunited peoples and princes? There is an old tradition in our diplomacy that we should strive to keep Germany divided among a large number of independent powers; and this, in fact, was self-evident at the time when there was nothing behind Germany except Poland and a semi-savage Russia; but is the case the same in our days? The reply to this question depends upon the reply to another: What is really the peril with which in our days Russia threatens the independence of Europe? For my part, believing as I do that our West is threatened sooner or later to fall under the yoke, or at least under the direct and irresistible influence of the Tsars, I think that our first object should be to favour the union of all the German races in order to oppose it to that influence. The conditions of the world are new; we must change our old maxims and not fear to strengthen our neighbours, so that they may one day be in a condition with us to repel the common enemy.
The Emperor of Russia, on his side, saw how great an obstacle an United Germany would prove in his way. Lamoricière, in one of his private letters, informed me that the Emperor had said to him with his ordinary candour and arrogance:
“If the unity of Germany, which doubtless you wish for no more than I do, ever becomes a fact, there will be needed, in order to manage it, a man capable of what Napoleon himself was not able to do; and if this man were found, if that armed mass developed into a menace, it would then become your affair and mine.”
But when I put these questions to myself, the time had not come to solve them nor even to discuss them, for Germany was of its own accord irresistibly returning to its old constitution and to the old anarchy of its powers. The Frankfort Parliament’s attempt in favour of unity had fallen through. That made by the King of Prussia was destined to meet with the same fate.
It was the dread of the Revolution which alone had driven the German Princes into Frederic William’s arms. In the measure that, thanks to the efforts of the Prussians, the Revolution was on all sides suppressed and ceased to make itself feared, the allies (one might almost say the new subjects) of Prussia aimed at recovering their independence. The King of Prussia’s enterprise was of that unfortunate kind in which success itself interferes with triumph, and to compare large things with smaller, I would say that his history was not unlike ours, and that, like ourselves, he was doomed to strike upon a rock so soon as, and for the reason that, he had re-established order. The princes who had adhered to what was known as the Prussian hegemony seized the first opportunity to renounce it. Austria supplied this opportunity, when, after defeating the Hungarians, she was able to re-appear upon the scene of German affairs with her material power and that of the memories which attached to her name. This is what happened in the course of September 1849. When the King of Prussia found himself face to face with that powerful rival, behind whom he caught sight of Russia, his courage suddenly failed him, as I expected, and he returned to his old part. The German Constitution of 1815 resumed its empire, the Diet its sittings; and soon, of all that great movement of 1848, there remained but two traces visible in Germany: a greater dependence of the small States upon the great monarchies, and an irreparable blow struck at all that remains of feudal institutions: their ruin, consummated by the nations, was sanctioned by the Princes. From one end of Germany to the other, the perpetuity of ground-rents, baronial tithes, forced labour, rights of mutation, of hunting, of justice, which constituted a great part of the riches of the nobility, remained abolished.1 The Kings were restored, but the aristocracies did not recover from the blow that had been struck them.2
Convinced at an early date that we had no part to play in this internal crisis in Germany, I only applied myself to living on good terms with the several contending parties. I especially kept up friendly relations with Austria, whose concurrence was necessary to us, as I will explain later, in the Roman business. I first strove to bring to a happy conclusion the negociations which had long been pending between Austria and Piedmont; I put the more care into this because I was persuaded that, so long as no lasting peace was established on that side, Europe would remain unsettled and liable at any moment to be thrown into great danger.
Piedmont had been negociating to no purpose since the battle of Novara. Austria at first tried to lay down unacceptable conditions. Piedmont, on her side, kept up pretensions which the state of her fortunes did not authorize. The negociations, several times interrupted, had been resumed before I took office. We had many very strong reasons to desire that this peace should be concluded without delay. At any moment, a general war might break out in this little corner of the Continent. Piedmont, moreover, was too near to us to permit us to allow that she should lose either her independence, which separated her from Austria, or her newly-acquired constitutional institutions, which brought her closer to us: two advantages which would be seriously jeopardized if recourse were had to arms.
I therefore interposed very eagerly, in the name of France, between the two parties, addressing to both of them the language which I thought most likely to convince them. I observed to Austria how urgent it was that the general peace of Europe should be assured by this particular peace, and I exerted myself to point out to her what was excessive in her demands. To Piedmont I indicated the points on which it seemed to me that honour and interest would permit her to give way. I applied myself especially to giving her Government in advance clear and precise ideas as to what it might expect from us, so that it should have no excuse to entertain, or to pretend to have entertained, any dangerous illusions1 . I will not go into details of the conditions under discussion, which are without interest to-day; I will content myself with saying that at the end they seemed prepared to come to an understanding, and that any further delay was due merely to a question of money. This was the condition of affairs, and Austria assured us through her Ambassador in Paris of her conciliatory dispositions; I already looked upon peace as concluded, when I unexpectedly learned that the Austrian Plenipotentiary had suddenly changed his attitude and his language, had delivered on the 19th of July a very serious ultimatum, couched in exceedingly harsh terms, and had only given four days in which to reply to it. At the end of these four days the armistice was to be raised and the war resumed. Already Marshal Radetzky was concentrating his army and preparing to enter upon a fresh campaign. This news, so contrary to the pacific assurances which we had received, was to me a great source of surprise and indignation. Demands so exorbitant, delivered in such arrogant and violent terms, seemed to announce that peace was not Austria’s only object, but that she aimed rather at the independence of Piedmont and perhaps at her representative institutions; for so long as liberty shows itself in the smallest fraction of Italy, Austria feels ill at ease in all the rest.
I at once came to the conclusion that we must at no price allow so near a neighbour to be oppressed, deliver a territory which touched our frontiers to the Austrian armies, or permit political liberty to be abolished in the only country in which, since 1848, it had showed itself moderate. I thought, moreover, that Austria’s mode of procedure towards us showed either an intention to deceive us or else a desire to try how far our toleration would go, or, as is commonly said, to sound us.
I saw that this was one of those extreme circumstances, which I had faced beforehand, where it became my duty to risk not only my portfolio (which, to tell the truth, was not risking much) but the fortunes of France. I proceeded to the Council and explained the state of affairs.
The President and all my colleagues were unanimous in thinking that I ought to act. Orders were immediately telegraphed to concentrate the Army of Lyons at the foot of the Alps, and so soon as I returned home, I myself wrote (for the flaccid style of diplomacy was not suited to the circumstances) the following letter:1
“Should the Austrian Government persist in the unreasonable demands mentioned in your telegram of yesterday, and, abandoning the limits of diplomatic discussion, throw up the armistice and undertake, as it says it will, to go and dictate peace at Turin, Piedmont can be assured that we should not desert her. The situation would no longer be the same as that in which she placed itself before the battle of Novara, when she spontaneously resumed her arms and renewed the war against our advice. This time it would be Austria which would herself take the initiative unprovoked; the nature of her demands and the violence of her proceedings would give us reason to believe that she is not acting solely with a view to peace, but that she is threatening the integrity of Piedmontese territory or, at the very least, the independence of the Sardinian Government.
“We will not allow such designs as these to be accomplished at our gates. If, under these conditions, Piedmont is attacked, we will defend her.”
I moreover thought it my duty to send for the Austrian representative (a little diplomatist very like a fox in appearance as well as in nature), and, convinced that, in the attitude we were taking up, hastiness was identical with prudence, I took advantage of the fact that I could not as yet be expected to have become familiar with habits of diplomatic reserve, to express to him our surprise and our dissatisfaction in terms so rude that he since admitted to me that he had never been so received in his life.
Before the despatch of which I have quoted a few lines had reached Turin, the two Powers had come to an agreement. They had come to terms on the question of money, which was arranged practically on the conditions that had been previously suggested by ourselves. The Austrian Government had only desired to precipitate the negociations by frightening the other side; it made very little difficulty about the conditions.
Prince Schwarzenberg sent me all sorts of explanations and excuses, and peace was definitely signed on the 6th of August, a peace hardly hoped for by Piedmont after so many mistakes and misfortunes, since it assured her more advantages than she had at first ventured to demand.
This affair threw into great relief the habits of English, and particularly of Palmerstonian, diplomacy: the feature is worth quoting. Since the commencement of the negociation, the British Government had never ceased to show great animosity against Austria, and loudly to encourage the Piedmontese not to submit to the conditions which she sought to force upon them. My first care, after taking the resolutions I have described, was to communicate them to England, and to endeavour to persuade her to take up the same line of conduct. I therefore sent a copy of my despatch to Drouyn de Lhuys, who was then Ambassador in London, and instructed him to show it to Lord Palmerston, and to discover that minister’s intentions. Drouyn de Lhuys replied:1
“While I was informing Lord Palmerston of your resolutions and of the instructions you had sent M. de Boislecomte, he listened with every sign of eager assent; but when I said, ‘You see, my lord, how far we wish to go; can you tell me how far you will go yourself?’ Lord Palmerston at once replied, ‘The British Government, whose interest in this business is not equal to yours, will not lend the Piedmontese Government more than a diplomatic assistance and a moral support.”
Is not this characteristic? England, protected against the revolutionary sickness of nations by the wisdom of her laws and the strength of her ancient customs, and against the anger of princes by her power and her isolation in the midst of us, is always pleased to play the part of the advocate of liberty and justice in the internal affairs of the Continent. She likes to censure and even to insult the strong, to justify and encourage the weak; but it seems that she does not care to go further than to assume virtuous airs and discuss honourable theories. Should her protégés come to need her, she offers her moral support.
I add, in order to finish the subject, that these tactics succeeded remarkably well. The Piedmontese remained convinced that England alone had defended them, and that we had very nearly abandoned them. She remained very popular in Turin, and France very much suspected. For nations are like men, they love still more that which flatters their passions than that which serves their interests.
Hardly had we emerged from this bad pass, before we fell into a worse one. We had witnessed with fear and regret what was happening in Hungary. The misfortunes of this unlucky people excited our sympathies. The intervention of the Russians, which for a time subordinated Austria to the Tsar, and caused the hand of the latter to be more and more active in the management of the general affairs of Europe, was not calculated to please us. But all these events happened beyond our reach, and we were helpless.
“I need not tell you,” I wrote in the instructions I sent Lamoricière, “with what keen and melancholy interest we follow events in Hungary. Unfortunately, for the present, we can only take a passive part in this question. The letter and spirit of the treaties open out to us no right of intervention. Besides, our distance from the seat of war must impose upon us, in the present state of our affairs and of those of Europe, a certain reserve. Since we are not able to speak or act to good purpose, it is due to our dignity not to display, in respect to this question, any sterile excitement or impotent good-feeling. Our duty with regard to Hungarian events is to limit ourselves to carefully observing what happens and seeking to discover what is likely to take place.”
Overwhelmed by numbers, the Hungarians were either conquered or surrendering, and their principal leaders, as well as a certain number of Polish generals who had joined their cause, crossed the Danube at the end of August, and threw themselves into the arms of the Turks at Widdin. From there, the two principal ones, Dembinski and Kossuth, wrote to our Ambassador in Constantinople.1 The habits and peculiarities of mind of these two men were betrayed in their letters. The soldier’s was short and simple; the lawyer-orator’s long and ornate. I remember one of his phrases, among others, in which he said, “As a good Christian, I have chosen the unspeakable sorrow of exile rather than the peacefulness of death.” Both ended by asking for the protection of France.
While the outlaws were imploring our aid, the Austrian and Russian Ambassadors appeared before the Divan and asked that they might be given up. Austria based her demand upon the treaty of Belgrade, which in no way established her right; and Russia hers upon the treaty of Kaïnardji (10 July 1774), of which the meaning, to say the least of it, was very obscure. But at bottom they neither of them appealed to an international right, but to a better known and more practical right, that of the strongest. This was made clear by their acts and their language. The two embassies declared from the commencement that it was a question of peace or war. Without consenting to discuss the matter, they insisted upon a reply of yes or no, and declared that if this reply was in the negative, they would at once cease all diplomatic relations with Turkey.
To this exhibition of violence, the Turkish ministers replied, with gentleness, that Turkey was a neutral country; that the law of nations forbade them to hand over outlaws who had taken refuge on their territory; and that the Austrians and Russians had often quoted the same law against them when Mussulman rebels had sought an asylum in Hungary, Transylvania or Bessarabia. They modestly submitted that what was permitted on the left bank of the Danube seemed as though it should also be permitted on the right bank. They ended by protesting that what they were asked to do was opposed to their honour and their religion, that they would gladly undertake to keep the refugees under restraint and place them where they could do no mischief, but that they could never consent to deliver them to the executioner.
“The young Sultan,” our ambassador wrote to me, “replied yesterday to the Austrian Envoy that, while denouncing what the Hungarian rebels had done, he could now only regard them as unhappy men seeking to escape death, and that humanity forbade him to surrender them. Rechid Pasha, on his part, the Grand Vizier,” added our Minister, “said to me, ‘I shall be proud if I am driven from power for this;’ and he added, with an air of deep concern, ‘In our religion, every man who asks for mercy is bound to obtain it.’ ”
This was talking like civilized people and Christians. The Ambassadors were content to reply like real Turks, saying that they must give up the fugitives or undergo the consequences of a rupture which would probably lead to war. The Mussulman population itself took fire; it approved of and supported its Government; and the Mufti came to thank our Ambassador for the support he had given to the cause of humanity and good law.
From the commencement of the discussion, the Divan had addressed itself to the Ambassadors of France and England. It appealed to public opinion in the two great countries which they represented, asked their advice, and besought their help in the event of the Northern Powers executing their threats. The Ambassadors at once replied that in their opinion Austria and Russia were exceeding their rights; and they encouraged the Turkish Government in its resistance.
In the meanwhile, arrived at Constantinople an aide-de-camp of the Tsar. He brought a letter which that Prince had taken the pains to write to the Sultan with his own hand, asking for the extradition of the Poles who had served six months before in the Hungarian war against the Russian army. This step seems a very strange one when one does not see through the particular reasons which influenced the Tsar under the circumstance. The following extract from a letter of Lamoricière’s describes them with great sagacity, and shows to what extent public opinion is dreaded at that end of Europe, where one would think that it was neither an organ nor a power:
“The Hungarian war, as you know,” he wrote,1 “was embarked upon to sustain Austria, who is hated as a people and not respected as a government; and it was very unpopular. It brought in nothing, and cost eighty-four millions of francs. The Russians hoped to bring back Bem, Dembinski, and the other Poles to Poland, as the price of the sacrifices of the campaign. Especially in the army, there reigned a veritable fury against these men. The people and soldiers were mad with longing for this satisfaction of their somewhat barbaric national pride. The Emperor, in spite of his omnipotence, is obliged to attach great value to the spirit of the masses upon whom he leans, and who constitute his real force. It is not simply a question of individual self-love: the national sentiment of the country and the army is at stake.”
These were, no doubt, the considerations which prompted the Tsar to take the dangerous step I have mentioned. Prince Radziwill presented his letter, but obtained nothing. He left forthwith, haughtily refusing a second audience, which was offered him to take his leave; and the Russian and Austrian Ambassadors officially declared that all diplomatic relations had ceased between their masters and the Divan.
The latter acted, in these critical circumstances, with a firmness and propriety of bearing which would have done honour to the most experienced cabinets of Europe. At the same time that the Sultan refused to comply with the demands, or rather the orders, of the two Emperors, he wrote to the Tsar to tell him that he would not discuss with him the question of right raised by the interpretation of the treaties, but that he appealed to his friendship and to his honour, begging him to take it in good part that the Turkish Government refused to take a measure which would ruin it in the eyes of the world. He offered, moreover, once more, himself to place the refugees in a position in which they should be harmless. Abdul Medjid sent one of the wisest and cleverest men in his Empire, Fuad Effendi, to take this letter to St Petersburg. A similar letter was written to Vienna, but this was to be handed to the Emperor of Austria by the Turkish Envoy at that Court, thus very visibly marking the difference in the value attached to the consent of the two Sovereigns. This news reached me at the end of September. My first care was to communicate it to England. At the same time1 I wrote a private letter to our Ambassador, in which I said:
“The conduct of England, who is more interested in this affair than we are, and less exposed in the conflict that may arise from it, must needs have a great influence upon our own. The English Cabinet must be asked clearly and categorically to state how far it is prepared to go. I have not forgotten the Piedmont affair. If they want us to assist them, they must dot their i’s. It is possible that, in that case, we shall be found to be very determined; otherwise, not. It is also very important that you should ascertain the opinions produced by these events upon the Tories of all shades; for with a government conducted on the parliamentary system, and consequently variable, the support of the party in power is not always a sufficient guarantee.”
In spite of the gravity of the circumstances, the English ministers, who were at that moment dispersed on account of the parliamentary holidays, took a long time before meeting; for in that country, the only country in the world where the aristocracy still carries on the government, the majority of the ministers are both great landed proprietors and, as a rule, great noblemen. They were at that time on their estates, recruiting from the fatigue and ennui of business; and they showed no undue hurry to return to Town. During this interval, all the English press, without distinction of party, took fire. It raged against the two Emperors, and inflamed public opinion in favour of Turkey. The British Government, thus stimulated, at once took up its position. This time it did not hesitate, for it was a question, as it said itself, not only of the Sultan, but of England’s influence in the world.1 It therefore decided, first, that representations should be made to Russia and Austrian; secondly, that the British Mediterranean Squadron should proceed to the Dardanelles, to give confidence to the Sultan and, if necessary, defend Constantinople. We were invited to do the same, and to act in common. The same evening, the order was despatched to the British Fleet to sail.
The news of these decisive resolutions threw me into great perplexity. I did not hesitate to think that we should approve the generous conduct of our Ambassador, and come to the aid of the Sultan;2 but as to a warlike attitude, I did not believe that it would as yet be wise to adopt it. The English invited us to do as they did; but our position was very different from theirs. In defending Turkey, sword in hand, England risked her fleet; we, our very existence. The English Ministers could rely that, in that extremity, Parliament and the nation would support them; whereas we were almost certain to be abandoned by the Assembly, and even by the country, if things came so far as war. For our wretchedness and danger at home made people’s minds at that moment insensible to all beside. I was convinced, moreover, that in this case threats, instead of serving to forward our designs, were calculated to frustrate them. If Russia, for it was really with her alone that we had to do, should chance to be disposed to open the question of the partition of the East by invading Turkey—a contingency that I found it difficult to believe in—the sending of our fleets would not prevent the crisis; and if it was really only a question (as was probably the case) of taking revenge upon the Poles, it would aggravate it, by making it difficult for the Tsar to retract, and causing his vanity to join forces with his resentment.
I went to the meeting of the Council with these reflections. I at once saw that the President was already decided and even pledged, as he himself declared to us. This resolve on his part had been inspired by Lord Normanby, the British Ambassador, an eighteenth-century diplomatist, who had worked himself into a strong position in Louis Napoleon’s good graces. . . . The majority of my colleagues thought as he did, that we should without hesitation adopt the line of joint action to which the English invited us, and like them send our fleet to the Dardanelles.
Failing in my endeavour to have a measure which I considered premature postponed, I asked that at least, before it was carried out, they should consult Falloux, whose state of health had compelled him to leave Paris for a time and go to the country. Lanjuinais went down to him for this purpose, reported the affair to him, and came back and reported to us that Falloux had without hesitation given his opinion in favour of the despatch of the fleet. The order was sent off at once. However, Falloux had acted without consulting the leaders of the majority or his friends, and even without due reflection as to the consequences of his action; he had yielded to a movement of impulse, as sometimes happened to him, for nature had made him frivolous and light-headed before education and habit had rendered him calculating to the pitch of duplicity. It is probable that, after his conversation with Lanjuinais, he received advice, or himself made certain reflections, opposed to the opinion he had given. He therefore wrote me a very long and very involved letter,1 in which he pretended to have misunderstood Lanjuinais (this was impossible, for Lanjuinais was the clearest and most lucid of men both in speech and action). He revoked his opinion and sought to evade his responsibility; and I replied at once with this note:
“My dear Colleague,
“The Council has taken its resolution, and at this late hour there is nothing to be done but await events; moreover, in this matter the responsibility of the whole Council is the same. There is no individual responsibility. I was not in favour of the measure; but now that the measure is taken, I am prepared to defend it against all comers.”1
While giving a lesson to Falloux, I was none the less anxious and embarrassed as to the part I was called upon to play. I cared little for what would happen at Vienna; for in this business I credited Austria merely with the position of a satellite. But what would the Tsar do, who had involved himself so rashly and, apparently, so irrevocably in his relations towards the Sultan, and whose pride had been put to so severe a test by our threats? Fortunately I had two able agents at St. Petersburg and Vienna, to whom I could explain myself without reserve.
“Take up the business very gently,” I recommended them,1 “be careful not to set our adversaries’ self-esteem against us, avoid too great and too ostensible an intimacy with the English Ambassadors, whose Government is detested by the Court at which you are, although nevertheless maintaining good relations with those ambassadors. In order to attain success, adopt a friendly tone, and do not try to frighten people. Show our position as it is; we do not want war; we detest it; we dread it; but we cannot act dishonourably. We cannot advise the Porte, when it comes to us for our opinion, to commit an act of cowardice; and should the courage which it has displayed, and which we have approved of, bring it into danger, we cannot, either, refuse it the assistance it asks of us. A way must therefore be found out of the difficulty. Is Kossuth’s skin worth a general war? Is it to the interest of the Powers that the Eastern Question should be opened at this moment and in this fashion? Cannot a way be found by which everybody’s honour will be saved? What do they want, after all? Do they only want to have a few poor devils handed over to them? That is assuredly not worth so great a quarrel; but if it were a pretext, if at the bottom of this business lurked the desire, as a matter of fact, to lay hands upon the Ottoman Empire, then it would certainly be a general war that they wanted; for ultra-pacific though we are, we should never allow Constantinople to fall without striking a blow.”
The affair was happily over by the time these instructions reached St. Petersburg. Lamoricière had conformed to them before he received them. He had acted in this circumstance with an amount of prudence and discretion which surprised those who did not know him, but which did not astonish me in the least. I knew that he was impetuous by temperament, but that his mind, formed in the school of Arabian diplomacy, the wisest of all diplomacies, was circumspect and acute to the pitch of artifice.
Lamoricière, so soon as he had heard rumours of the quarrel direct from Russia, hastened to express, very vividly, though in an amicable tone, that he disapproved of what had happened at Constantinople; but he took care to make no official, and, above all, no threatening, representations. Although acting in concert with the British Minister, he carefully avoided compromising himself with him in any joint steps; and when Fuad Effendi, bearing Abdul Medjid’s letter, arrived, he let him know secretly that he would not go to see him, in order not to imperil the success of the negociation, but that Turkey could rely upon France.
He was admirably assisted by this envoy from the Grand Seignior, who concealed a very quick and cunning intelligence beneath his Turkish skin. Although the Sultan had appealed for the support of France and England, Fuad, on arriving at St. Petersburg, showed no inclination even to call upon the representatives of these two Powers. He refused to see anybody before his audience of the Tsar, to whose free will alone, he said, he looked for the success of his mission.
The Emperor must have experienced a feeling of bitter displeasure on beholding the want of success attending his threats, and the unexpected turn that things had taken; but he had the strength to restrain himself. In his heart he was not desirous to open the Eastern Question, even though, not long before, he had gone so far as to say, “The Ottoman Empire is dead; we have only to arrange for its funeral.”
To go to war in order to force the Sultan to violate the Law of Nations was a very difficult matter. He would have been aided in this by the barbaric passions of his people, but reproved by the opinion of the whole civilized world. He knew what was happening in England and France. He resolved to yield before he was threatened. The great Emperor therefore drew back, to the immeasurable surprise of his subjects and even of foreigners. He received Fuad in audience, and withdrew the demand he had made upon the Sultan. Austria hastened to follow his example. When Lord Palmerston’s note arrived at St Petersburg, all was over. The best would have been to say nothing; but while we, in this business, had only aimed at success, the British Cabinet had also sought for noise. It required it to make a response to the irritation of the country. Lord Bloomfield, the British Minister, presented himself at Count Nesselrode’s the day after the Emperor’s decision became known; and was very coldly received.1 He read him the note in which Lord Palmerston asked, in polite but peremptory phrases, that the Sultan should not be forced to hand over the refugees. The Russian replied that he neither understood the aim nor the object of this demand; that the affair to which he doubtless referred was arranged; and that, in any case, England had nothing to say in the matter. Lord Bloomfield asked how things stood. Count Nesselrode haughtily refused to give him any explanation; it would be equivalent, he said, to recognizing England’s right to interfere in an affair that did not concern it. And when the British Envoy insisted upon at any rate leaving a copy of the note in Count Nesselrode’s hands, the latter, after first refusing, at last accepted the document with an ill grace and dismissed his visitor, saying carelessly that he would reply to the note, that it was a terribly long one, and that it would be very tiresome. “France,” added the Chancellor, “has already made me say the same thing; but she made me say it earlier and better.”
At this moment when we learnt the end of the dangerous quarrel, the Cabinet, after thus witnessing a happy conclusion to the two great pieces of foreign business that still kept the peace of the world in suspense, the Piedmont War and the Hungarian War—at that moment, the Cabinet fell.
I have recently discovered these four notes in the charter-room at Tocqueville, where my grandfather had carefully deposited, by the side of our most precious family archives, all the manuscripts of his brother that came into his possession. They seemed to me to throw some light upon the Revolution of February and the question of the revision of the Constitution in 1851, and to merit publication together with the Recollections.
Comte de Tocqueville.
“Un homme à lui.”—A. T. de M.
Nothing was ever more despicable than the conduct of those revolutionaries. The soldiers who, at the commencement of the insurrection, had put to flight or killed their officers, turned tail before the Prussians. The ringleaders did nothing but dispute among themselves and defame one another instead of defending themselves, and took refuge in Switzerland after pillaging the public treasury and levying contributions upon their own country.
Of Prussia, Saxony and Hanover.—A. T. de M.
Despatch of the 7th of September 1849.
Private letter from Beaumont at Vienna, 10 October 1849.—Despatch from M. Lefèbre at Munich, 23 July 1849.
I had foreseen from the commencement that Austria and Prussia would soon return to their former sphere and fall back in each case within the influence of Russia. I find this provision set forth in the instructions which I gave to one of our ambassadors to Germany on the 24th of July, before the events which I have described had taken place. These instructions are drawn up in my own hand, as were all my more important despatches. I read as follows:
Despatch of the 4th of July 1849 to M. de Boislecomte:
Letter to M. de Boislecomte, 25 July 1849.
Despatches of the 25th and 26th of June 1849.
Letters of the 22nd and 24th of August 1849.
Despatches of the 11th and 25th of October 1849.
Private letter, 1 October 1849.
Private letter from M. Drouyn de Lhuys, 2 October 1849.
Private letters to Lamoricière and Beaumont, 5 and 9 October 1849.
Letter from Falloux, 11 October 1849.
Letter to Falloux, 12 October 1849.
Private letters to Lamoricière and Beaumont, 5 and 9 October 1849.
Letter from Lamoricière, 19 October 1849.