Page images

put your lordship in possession of all that took place at the conference of the 10th ; and, as Lord Aberdeen and Sir Charles both wrote private letters after we had conferred together, I did not think there was anything worth troubling you to read a third letter.

The long paper was, I have reason to believe, drawn up here, with much labour, and at the expense of many brouillons. Its length was calculated to create delay in copying, and in considering, and still more in discussing, had it produced this latter end. It has occasioned some delay in the present stage ; for this morning, at a meeting of the Plenipotentiaries of the Allied Courts, upon receiving Prince Metternich's letter, and the copy of the instructions drawn up by the Cabinet at Chaumont, it was agreed to send a message to the Plenipotentiary of France, to propose a conference at eight o'clock this evening, which was accepted. But it was found impossible to engross the Protocol of the last conference, including that paper, within the intermediate time ; and therefore it was proposed by the Plenipotentiaries of Prussia, and agreed to by Count Rasoumoffsky, to put off the conference till to-morrow. We urged the expediency of employing more hands, and of meeting an hour or two later this evening. But punctuality even under this appeared so doubtful that it was abandoned, and the meeting stands for to-morrow at one, p.m.

I take it for granted the French Plenipotentiary will endeavour to avail himself of the twenty-four hours, and that it will therefore be Monday, the 14th, before the conferences will be declared at an end. I have no expectation of acceptance, or even of a counter-projet upon or near the basis offered.

I have a few lines of the 3rd, from Sir T. Graham's headquarters at Groot Zundert. That army is now not in force to block Antwerp; for the Prussians and Saxons have allowed 3,000 French to come back into Flanders, by Courtray, to Ghent, who may get to Antwerp by the Tête de Flandre, which would make that garrison 13,000. Sir T. Graham was taking precautions to prevent anything being thrown into Bergen-op-Zoom. Ever, my dear lord, most sincerely yours,


Lord Aberdeen to Lord Castlereagh.

Chatillon sur Seine, March 12, 1814. My dear Castlereagh-I enclose a private letter which I have received from Johnson. You will probably have the means of forming a just estimate of the state of the publie mind in the Netherlands to which he alludes. This strong desire of States which have formerly been under the Austrian dominion to return to their ancient condition, is at least a proof of the practical mildness of the Government.

I hope all this party-spirit may subside, and with a little management it ought to do so, there being nothing in reality to keep it up.

Believe me ever sincerely,

ABERDEEN. The new instructions you have sent us are sufficiently precise. A delay has taken place in their execution. I will write to-morrow evening, when we shall see the result.

Mr. Johnson to Lord Aberdeen.

Brussels, February 20, 1814. My Lord—The bearer of this letter, whom I have the honour to introduce to your lordship's acquaintance, is the Marquis de Chasteler, one of the members of the deputation appointed by the City of Brussels to convey to his Majesty the Emperor of Austria the prayer of the inhabitants that the Belgian provinces may be governed by a prince of the Imperial Family. The choice of the members who compose this deputation is very judicious, as they are all distinguished by the purity of their political principles; and, whatever may be the ultimate fate of this country, it appears to me that the

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

determination of its inhabitants to express in a suitable manner their attachment to their former Sovereign will be gratifying to his Majesty the Emperor of Austria and to the Allies in general.

I am sorry that it is not in my power to give your lordship any very gratifying account of the state of this country. The people are discontented at not seeing any Austrian troops amongst their deliverers; and some injudicious measures which have been adopted to procure partisans for the Prince of Orange have created a violence of party-spirit, which is very prejudicial to the general interest.

Should it appear necessary, during the progress of the war, to call forth the military resources of the Netherlands, this can only be done effectually by the immediate intervention of Austria. Baron M. has not been so successful as we had reason to expect ; but I believe that whatever has been done by the inhabitants in aid of the common cause may be attributed to his efforts.

I direct all my attention to the object which principally interests us. Mr. Gordon will have informed your lordship of the failure of the first attempt made in this business. I am now repeating the experiment, and, if I succeed, I shall lose no time in communicating the intelligence to your lordship. I have the honour to be, &c.,


Lord Aberdeen to Lord Castlereagh.

Chatillon sur Seine, March 13, 12 o'clock. My dear Castlereagh—Many thanks for your good news, which I have just received in time to enable me to send it to

couple of hours, in order to accompany one of his own. The effect of these successes just at this moment is incalculable.

I have sent to Liverpool a duplicate of the report of our former conference, as well as that held to day, which I now

send you. It is full, and, I think, accurate, taken from notes made at the time. By comparing it with Stewart's, and the report of Stadion, you may judge. You will see at last that we have obtained the promise of a contre-projet; yet I doubt if his present instructions will enable him to go far enough to fulfil our conditions. Since the conference to-night, two couriers have arrived, who may have brought further orders.

It has been quite impossible for me to get a copy made of Caulaincourt's long paper. I have but one assistant, who has been necessarily employed; besides which there is but one copy here, and it is in the hands of Rasoumoffsky at present, and must circulate. I have described it to Liverpool, and quoted the principal features, which may do for the present, as nothing depends on it.

I could wish you to take a look at us here, if we are to remain. Most likely we shall not, but it is possible. The most Caulaincourt can do to-morrow will be to present such a contre-projet as may deserve to be sent to you; but it is very doubtful if we shall not be obliged at once to declare the negociation at an end; at least, this seems to be the present intention, unless he deviates very widely indeed from the Frankfort basis.

Yours most sincerely, ABERDEEN. PS. I send you some despatches just arrived from Wilson. If it enters into your views, the sum of £45,000 is not a great deal for Venice. I think there are three or four line-ofbattle ships. If you have any instructions to give, be so good as to let me know, or write yourself. W. says it is understood that no part of the arrangement shall take place, unless the Allies are first actually in possession of the town and arsenal : so you have plenty of time.

Lord Cathcart to Lord Castlereagh.

Chatillon sur Seine, March 13, 1814. My dear Lord—I have seen Lord Aberdeen's account of the conferences of this day, and I am not aware that it is necessary to trouble you with further details than what you will find in his report, and in that which I have no doubt but that Sir Charles will send.

Your lordship will, I think, see that the French Plenipotentiary wished to amuse us by entering into vague discussion of the points stated in his observations and verbal declaration ; and that even the declaration would not have been given on the same day, if the observations had not been declared to be no more than general animadversion. In like manner, this day he was prepared to contend that the declaration was not only an answer, but a concession of six important points out of seven, and that he would discuss these or any of them at any length we pleased ; and that, as to the other points, he would go into them in discussion when we had done with the former; and that, either to put us upon reference to our Courts, or to discourage us from pressing a counter-projet, he named the Frankfort communications as what he would take for his counter-projet. Driven from that by our adherence to the demand of acceptance, rejection, or counter-projet, within twenty-four hours, he solicited leave to send to his Court for fresh instructions; and it was not till it was explained that, if he persisted, we must declare the conferences at an end, by the refusal of France, that he consented to give a counter-projet within the twenty-four hours, if, considering the state of La Bernardiere's health, it could be got ready by nine o'clock tomorrow night: if that was impossible, next day.

This confirms me in my opinion that it is considered by the French Cabinet to be of the utmost consequence to keep the conferences alive, but to avoid making real progress ; on the other hand, that a little firmness will oblige them to come to the point rather than break off the negociation, and will very soon compel them to declare the decision for peace or war-a most difficult question at this moment.

I hope, on these grounds, that it will be the policy of the Allies to continue to press the decision upon the projet, and

« PreviousContinue »