Page images
PDF

STATE PAPERS OMITTED.

NOTE

Delivered in by Viscount Castlereagh to the Allied Ministers, and placed upon their protocol.—Paris, September 11, 1815.

REPRESENTATIONS having being laid before the Ministers of the Allied Powers from the Pope, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the King of the Netherlands, and other Sovereigns, claiming, through the intervention of the high Allied Powers, the restoration of the statues, pictures, and other works of art, of which their respective states have been successively and systematically stripped by the late revolutionary government of France, contrary to every principle of justice, and to the usages of modern warfare, and the same having been referred for the consideration of his court, the undersigned has received the commands of the Prince Regent to submit, for the consideration of his Allies, the following remarks upon this interesting subject:

It is now the second time that the powers of Europe have been compelled, in vindication of their own liberties, and for the settle

ment of the world, to invade France, and twice their armies have possessed themselves of the capital of the state, in which these, the spoil of the greater part of Europe, are accumulated.

The legitimate Sovereign of France has, as often, under the protection of those armies, been enabled to resume his throne, and to mediate for his people a peace with the Allies, to the marked indulgencies of which neither their conduct to their own monarch, nor towards other states, had given them just pretensions to aspire.

That the purest sentiments of regard for Louis XVIII. deference for his ancient and illustrious House, and respect for his misfortunes, have guided invariably the Allied Councils, has been proved beyond a question, by their having, last year, framed the Treaty of Paris expressly on the basis of preserving to France its complete integrity, and still more, after their late disappointment, by the endeavours they are again making, ultimately to combine the substantial integrity of France, with such an adequate system of temporary precaution as they may satisfy satisfy what they owe to the security of their own subjects.

But it would be the height of weakness, as well as of injustice, and in its effects much more likely to mislead than to bring back the people of France to moral and peaceful habits, if the Allied Sovereigns, to whom the world is anxiously looking up for protection and repose, were to deny that principle of integrity in its just and liberal application to othernations, their Allies (more especially to the feeble and to the helpless), whicli they are about, for the second time, to concede to a nation against whom they have had occasion so long to contend in war.

Upon what principle can France, at the close of such a war, expect to sit down with the same extent of possessions which she held before the Revolution, and desire, at the same time, to retain the ornamented spoils of all other countries } Is it, that there can exist a doubt of the issue of the contest or of the power of the Allies, to effectuate what justice and policy require? If not, upon what principle deprive France of her late territorial acquisitions, and preserve to her the spoliations appertaining to those territories, which all modern conquerors have invariably respected, as inseparable from the country to which they belonged?

The Allied Sovereigns have perhaps something to atone for to Europe, in consequence of the course pursued by them, when at Paris, during the last year. It is true, they never did so far make themselves parties in the criminality of this mass of plunder.

as to sanction it by any stipulation in their Treaties; such a recognition has been on their part uniformly refused; but they certainly did use their influence to repress at that moment, any agitation of their claims, in the hope that France, not less subdued by their generosity than by thenarms, might be disposed to preserve inviolate a peace which had been studiously framed to serve as a bond of reconciliation, between the nation and the King. They had also reason to expect, that his Majesty would be advised voluntarily to restore a considerable proportion at least of these spoils, to their lawful owners.

But the question is a very different one now, and to pursue the same course under circumstances so essentially altered, would be, in the judgment of the Prince Regent, equally unwise towards France, and unjust towards our Allies, who hare a direct interest in this question.

His Royal Highness, in stating this opinion, feels it necessary to guard against the possibility of misrepresentation.

Whilst he deems it to be the duty of the Allied Sovereigns, not only not to obstruct, but to facilitate, upon the present occasion, the return of these objects to the places from whence they were torn, it seems not less consistent with their delicacy, not to suffer the position of their armies in France, or the removal of these works from the Louvre, to become the means, either directly or indirectly, of bringing within their own dominions a single article which did not of right, at

the

%\xe period of their conquest, belong either to their respective £axnily collections, or to the countries over which they now actually reign.

Whatever value the Prince Regent might attach to such exquisite specimens of the fine arts, if otherwise acquired, he has no ■wish to become possessed of them at the expense of France, or rather of the countries to which they of right belong, more especially by following up a principle in war which he considers as a reproach to the nation by which it has been adopted; and so far from wishing to take advantage of the occasion to purchase from the rightful owners any articles they might, from pecuniaiy considerations, be disposed to part ■with, his Royal Highness would on the contrary be disposed rather to afford the means of replacing them in those very temples and galleries, of which they were so long the ornaments.

Were it possible that his Royal Highness's sentiments towards the person and cause of Louis XVIII. could be brought into doubt, or that the position of his Most Christian Majesty would be injured in the eyes of his own people, the Prince Regent would not come to this conclusion without the most painful reluctance; but, on the contrary, his Royal Highness really believes that his Majesty will rise in the love and respect of his own subjects, in proportion as he separates himself from these remembrances of revolutionary warfare. These spoils, which impede a moral reconciliation between France and the countries she has invaded, are

not necessary to record the exploits of her armies, which, notwithstanding the cause in which they were achieved, must ever make the arms of the nation respected abroad. But whilst these objects remain at Paris, constituting, as it were, the title deeds of the countries which have been given up, the sentiments of reuniting these countries again to France, will never be altogether extinct: nor will the genius of the French people ever completely associate itself with the more limited existence assigned to the nation under the Bourbons.

Neither is this opinion given with any disposition on the part of the Prince Regent to humiliate the French nation. His Royal Highness's general policy, the demeanour of his troops in France, his having seized the first moment of Buonaparte's surrender to restore to France the freedom of her commerce, and, above all, the desire he has recently evinced to preserve ultimately to France her territorial integrity, with certain modifications essential to the security of neighbouring States, are the best proofs that, consideration of justice to others, a desire to heal the wounds inflicted by the revolution, and not any illiberal sentiment towards France, have alone dictated this decision.

The whole question resolves itself into this:—Are the Powers of Europe now forming in sincerity a permanent settlement with the King? And if so, upon what principles shall it be concluded? Shall it be upon the conservation or the abandonment of revolutionary spoliations?

Can the King feci his own dig

[ocr errors]

nity exalted, or his title improved, in being surrounded by monuments of art, which record not less the sufferings of his own Illustrious House, than of the other nations of Europe? If the French people be desirous of treading back their steps, can they rationally desire to preserve this source of animosity between them and all other nations; and, if they arc not, is it politic to natter their vanity, and to keep alive the hopes which the contemplation of these trophies are calc\dated to excite? Can even the army reasonably desire it? The recollection of their campaigns can never perish. They are recorded in the military annals of Europe. They are emblazoned on the public monuments of their own country; why is it necessary to associate their glory in the field with a system of plunder, by the adoption of which, in contravention of the laws of modern war, the Chief-that led them to battle, in fact, tarnished the lustre of their arms?

If we are really to return to peace and to ancient maxims, it cannot be wise to preserve .iust so much of the causes of the past; nor can the King desire, out of the wrecks of the revolution, of which his family has been one of the chief victims, to perpetuate in his house this odious monopoly of the arts. The splendid collection which France possessed previous to the revolution, augmented by the Borghese collection, which lias since been purchased (one of the finest in the world), •will afford to the King ample means of ornamenting, in its fair proportion, the capital of his em

pire; and his Majesty may divest himself of this tainted source of distinction, without prejudice to the due cultivation of the arts is France. *

In applying a remedy to "ds offensive evil, it does not apf«r that any middle line can be adopted, which does not go to recognise a variety of spoliations, under the cover of treaties, if possible more flagrant in tht> character than the acts of umlaguised rapine, by which these re mains were in general bro«^it together.

The principle of property regulated by the claims of the territories from whence these works were taken, is the surest and only guide to justice; and perhaps there is nothing which wooM more tend to settle the pubEe mind of Eucope at this day, thin such an homage, on the part of the King of France, to a pri*ciple of virtue, conciliation, and peace.

(Signed) CA6Tl.EHE.iGB.

Answer of the Plenipotenturna 'J France, to the Proposition of the 20th September.

The undersigned Plenipotentiaries of his Most Christian Majesty forthwith laid before him the communications which were made to them in the conference of yesterday, by their Excellencies the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the four united Courts, respecting the definitive arrangement, as bases of winch their Excellencies have proposed:

1. The cession by his Most Christian Majesty of a territorr

eqnl

I vial to two thirds of what was lded to old France by the treaty f the oOth May, and in which .\imld be comprehended the forresses of Conde, Philippcville, larienbourg, Givet and Charlenont, Sarre-Louis, Landau, and 'orts Jovix and L'Ecluse.

'i. The demolition of the fortress of Huninguen.

3. The payment of two sums; the one of 600 millions, under the denomination of indemnity; the other of 200 millions, to serve for the construction of fortresses in the countries conterminous with France.

4. The military occupation, during seven years, of the fortresses of Valenciennes, Bouchain, Cambray, Maubeuge, Landrecy, Lequesnoy, Avesne, Kocroy, Longwi, Thionville, Bitche, and the tete-du-pont of Fort Louis, as well as of a line along the northern and eastern frontiers, by an army of 150,000 men, under the orders of a General nominated by the Allies, and to be subsisted by France.

His Majesty, ardently desirous of hastening as far as lies in his power, the conclusion of an arrangement, the delay of which has caused to his people so many evils which he daily deplores, and has prolonged in France, and still prolongs, that internal .agitation which has excited the solicitude of the Powers, but still more animated by a desire to make known his good dispositions to Sovereigns hi9 Allies, has wished that the undersigned should communicate without delay to their Excellencies the Plenipotentiaries of the four Courts, the principles on which lie thinks the iiegociution

ought to be prosecuted, relatively to each of the bases proposed, by ordering the undersigned to present the following considerations on the first of these bases,—that respecting territorial cessions,— in which that important object is examined, in the twofold relations of justice und utility, which it would be so dangerous to separate.

The want of a common Judge, having authority and power to terminate the disputes of Sovereigns, leaves no other course, when they cannot come to an amicable agreement, but that of referring the decision of such disputes to the fate of arms, which constitutes between them the state of war. If in this state, possessions of the one are occupied by the forces of the other, these possessions are under conquest, by right of which the occupier acquires the full enjoyment of them during all the time that he occupies them, or until the reestablishment of peace. He is entitled to demand as a condition of that re-establishment, that the territory which he occupies should be ceded to h:m in whole or in port; and the cession, when it has taken place, transforming the enjoyment into property, from a mere occupier of it he becomes tlie Sovereign. This is a mode of acquisition which the law of nations authorises.

But the state of war, conquest, and the right of exacting cessions, are things which proceed front and depend u|>on each other, in such way that the first is an absolute condition of the second, and tlie latter of the tliiid , for out of the state of war, there can

be

« PreviousContinue »