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CHAP. down. Bonaparte in a courteous despatch, whilst XLIII.
declaring that Switzerland must remain federal and neutral, added, that its government must contain nothing hostile to France; the Swiss, in fact, must support whatever was French policy. * And this despatch was published in the Moniteur of January the 2nd, 1803.
More galling to England and other independent governments than even the annihilation of Swiss independence were the French projects for redistributing and reorganizing Germany. The task imposed by treaty, of indemnifying the German and Italian princes, who had been dispossessed by France, might have been left, one should think, to Germans. But Bonaparte undertook this himself, Prussia earnestly abetting him. A German power might, it was alleged, have shown a way more patriotic. But what Napoleon was executing was greatly advantageous to Prussia. He was destroying those ecclesiastical Electorates, which had been the support of Austrian influence in North and Central Germany. Thus showing himself the foe of the court of Vienna, Napoleon would gladly have conciliated that of Berlin, not only by giving it Hanover, but also the Mecklenburgs, the Dukes of which Duchies he would have transferred, like so many cabbages, into the interior of Germany.† Napoleon thus dreamt in 1802 that which his nephew has allowed to be accomplished in 1866. But Prussia was as fearful of his pretensions, as greedy of his gifts. Bonaparte in consequence turned to Russia, and for a time did receive its sanction. But Russia under its successive rulers was continually alternating from fanatic hatred to fanatic admiration of Napoleon.
Although the completion of these French designs upon Germany was subsequent to the peace of Amiens, still the aim and assumption of domination on the left
* Une Suisse amie de la France, ou point de Suisse du tout.
as well as on the right bank of the Rhine, were evident and present to the alarmed vigilance of English statesmen. The First Consul indeed took care that they should be aware of it. In the Exposé of the State of the Republic laid before the Assemblies and published in the Moniteur of February the 11th, 1802, it was pointed out that England had no longer an ally on the Continent, and that whatever the success of intriguers in London they could not influence any continental power to join them. The consequence was, that England stood alone, and could not now maintain a struggle against France. Such a taunt appearing in a week or two after Sebastiani's Report upon Egypt and the East, full of vulgar abuse of the English, their armies and their government, excited great exasperation in London.
The English anti-Gallican opposition naturally made the most of such grievances, and the French émigré press in London took the opportunity to shed its gall on the First Consul. He had complained of a certain Peltier and of his journal, even before the conclusion of the peace, and was especially mortified by the continuance of his diatribes. Coupling this with the effort of certain French bishops in England, and the presence there of George Cadoudal still in the pay of the British government, he made angry remonstrance against the hostility thus kept up. The English ministry observed, that the French government might prosecute the libellers, but that England could not deny hospitality to the exiled princes and other French émigrés. It could not silence the press, that spared neither the English ministry nor the royal familysuch was the legal license of journalism in England. At the same time Mr. Addington pointed out to the French envoy, M. Otto, how peace could be strengthened. He enumerated all that had been done in Italy, in Switzerland, and in Germany to extend French predominance, and added, “We will pass over all this,
CHAP. but for God's sake leave Holland alone. Do not make XLIII.
its ports altogether your ports. And do not manifest fresh designs upon Egypt or Turkey. If
If you do, public opinion in England will set in once more for war and we shall be unable to resist it. Make a treaty of commerce allowing us to trade with the countries you have placed in your dependence, and above all things settle the affair of Malta by procuring the guarantee of neutral powers.”
This fair and pacific advice of Addington, M. Thiers records from Otto's despatches, and he admits that M. de Talleyrand did not take the pains he ought to have done to have procured the guarantees for Malta. The French historian then proceeds to state that though Addington was anxious for peace, Pitt was for a renewal of the war. Pitt, however, was at first as much for peace as Addington. It was he who caused the order to be sent for the evacuation of the Cape, nor was it till the opening of 1803, and after the publication of Sebastiani's report, that Pitt considered peace to be untenable. * The fears of the English statesman that the French might recover Egypt and thence march to India, was indeed as chimerical as Bonaparte's undoubted aim of accomplishing such results. But Pitt's fears, as well as those of English politicians, were serious. It pleases M. Thiers to describe this as jealousy. But a victim is not jealous of an enemy which threatens to devour it, and daily acquires additional strength for that purpose. M. Thiers also describes the reluctance of the English to part with Malta as ambition. But this term is equally inapplicable to the mingled sentiments of mistrust and self-defence which animated the English. We have quoted Addington's language to Otto, let us complete this by an answer of Lord Whitworth's to General Bonaparte. When this envoy enumerated to the French ruler the great
Stanhope's Life of Pitt.
superiority and numerous additional advantages which he had seized in Germany and elsewhere subsequent to the peace, Bonaparte replied, that it was quite in the power of England to participate in these advantages. Russia and Prussia did so. Prussia acquired territory and why should not Hanover, if England would as cordially unite with France ?-he meant, “ become its satellite.” To this Lord Whitworth observed, “ that the ambition of his British majesty was to preserve what was his own, and not to rob the property of other sovereigns.”
Notwithstanding the indefeasible pride and independent bearing of the English, peace might for a time have been preserved, had George the Third been as absolute as Bonaparte. But the forms and necessities of parliamentary government shocked the First Consul, whilst they held out a dangerous subject of comparison and of envy to the French, who were totally deprived of such liberties. The mistrust of France, showed first by the Grenvilles and by the followers of Pitt more ardent than himself, forced Addington not only to take but to avow certain precautionary measures of armament and defence. Although Bonaparte had done, as was announced, the same in his Exposé to his legislature, he was deeply offended with the display of English distrust, and which, coupled with the retention of Egypt and Malta, he denounced as war. The English, however, withdrew from Egypt; and Malta they had a fair excuse for not evacuating, in the fact that there was no independent power or force to which they could deliver it.
A circumstance worthy of note was, that when England signed the treaty of Amiens, she considered Russia an independent power anxious to preserve the monarchs of Piedmont as well as Naples in their dominions, and prepared to withstand French encroachments either in Germany or in the Mediterranean. In this it was soon perceived she had made a great mistake. Russia not only abandoned Piedmont, but ended, instead of tempering
CHAP. French dictation, by joining in the First Consul's par
tition of Germany. To give Malta to the Russians, or accept its mediation, was consequently felt to be giving up all to France under the name of Russia. This increased the difficulties of peaceful arrangement; and perhaps what most shook the English government from entertaining belief of it, was the discovery that the commercial agents sent by the French government to Dublin and other ports, had instructions and views similar to those of Sebastiani, to espy out English weaknesses, and to report all that might serve future invasion or attack.
The determination of the English government not to evacuate Malta, and at the same time to prepare for the contingency of war, aroused all the irrepressible ire of Bonaparte. Towards the close of February, 1803, the First Consul invited the English ambassador, Lord Whitworth, to a private interview at the Tuileries. In the altercation which was about to ensue, Bonaparte had this great advantage, that he was observing the treaty of Amiens to the letter whilst totally disturbing the balance of the arrangements. Thus after recapitulating his formal acts in execution of the treaty, he asked whether it was the intention of England to evacuate Malta or not? And whether there was to be war or peace ? Without waiting for a reply, he launched forth into a burst of passion, which he terminated by saying that he had rather see the English in possession of Montmartre than Malta. “A fearful word,” exclaims M. Thiers, “but too terribly realised to the misfortune of our country.”
Lord Whitworth explained, that much of what the First Consul complained, such as the virulence of journalism and the vivacity of popular debates, was but the inevitable consequence of English liberty. English generosity at the same time could not allow the French exiled princes to starve, or those French who had served England in war to go without reward. As to Malta,