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been of sufficient weight to produce an untoward effect on the loyal feelings of his Imperial Highness, my duty is to speak out. The representative of an august prince, who professes so ardent an affection for truth, would throw too great a weight into the opposite balance; and I perceive but too clearly in how deplorable a dilemma the monarch would be placed between that natural confidence which he reposes in his people and the criminations of so august and beloved a personage. But, when once the tendency to error in the Imperial Commissioner's disposition is unveiled, the effects of such conduct are no longer to be feared. They will exercise no greater control over the mind of the sovereign than over the feelings of gratitude and devotion of his people. An unmerited distrust will not open the door to the instigations of a foreign influence.
PRINCE METTERNICH AND "THE PORT
To the Editor of the Portfolio.
Frankfort, 20th July, 1836.
I hasten to transmit to you, as soon as possible, the details of an event which personally interests the Editor of the Portfolio," and which ought, doubtless, to interest, in the same degree, the whole British Public, since it is of a character to throw a great deal of light on many eminent personages in Austria; on the policy of that power; and particularly on the efforts of Russia to increase her influence at Vienna.
Some time ago, Prince Metternich, pressed by the solicitations of the Russian Embassy, formally prohibited the introduction and the perusal of the "Portfolio." Up to that period, your publication had neither been put forward by the booksellers, nor announced in the lists of publications; it was to be found amongst the works which the booksellers are in the habit of reserving for the privileged purchasers, particularly for the nobility, and the higher order of merchants of Vienna; but, in consequence of a pressing note from the Russian Embassy, Prince Metternich ordered the police to declare to the booksellers that the sale of the “Portfolio" would be punished with a fine of a thousand florins (about £100), and that the booksellers would run the risk of seeing their trade suppressed.
This prohibition at first transpired nowhere but at Court; but there it produced a great sensation; and perhaps wounded very sensibly the feelings of many persons of that Court, which, from their having been often represented as the uncompromising allies of the Russians, apparently contains men who have the power of being good Austrians, without yielding to all the caprices of M. de Tatistcheff and his Embassy.
VOL. III.-NO. XXVII.
However this may be, a gentleman of the Court, M. de Clam, aide-de-camp of the Emperor Ferdinand, the same who replaced M. d' Apel, went to the Minister of Police, M. de Sedlenitzki, and begged him to lend him this prohibited publication. On the refusal of this Minister, he declared that he would procure it, notwithstanding his opposition, and he proceeded to a bookseller, who made difficulties; but M. de Clam threatened him with never again setting foot in his house, and assured him that he had nothing to fear; so that the bookseller, finding himself placed between two fires, decided on fulfilling the wishes of M. de Clam in selling him the numbers of the "Portfolio," and, at the same time, another prohibited work, the novel of Wally by Gutzkow, against which the German Diet had launched its thunders.
In his delight at having outwitted the police, the aide-de-camp went in haste to M. de Sedlenitzki, and showed the numbers to the astounded Minister. The prayers, the intreaties, of the latter, that he would give the name of the bookseller entirely failed; but he had recourse to another means; he gave his word of honour that the bookseller should have nothing to fear, upon which the aide-de-camp, with the good faith of an officer, and in order to prove that it was at Vienna that he had procured the Portfolio," conceived himself at liberty to name the bookseller. A quarter of an hour afterwards, the police agents broke into the shop, seized some prohibited books, to the value of four hundred florins, exacted the fine of a thousand florins, and left the unfortunate bookseller under the ban of still graver threats. Indignant at this proceeding, he hastens to M. de Clam and recalls to him his promise; M. de Clam, equally indignant, runs to M. de Sedlenitzki to remind him of his word of honour, on which the Minister coldly replied that, in his position, he conceived himself above the obligation of a word of honour.
The following day M. de Sedlenitzki received an autograph note from the Emperor Ferdinand, in which, after having expressed to him his displeasure, His Majesty commanded him immediately to restore the books and the thousand florins. At the same time, in order to calm entirely the fears of the bookseller, the
Emperor named him publisher of the Court, a great mark of favour in Austria. Prince Metternich, apprized of what had passed, did not hesitate to make representations to the Emperor, but without success; and every thing leads to the belief that the "Portfolio," without being publicly displayed, will continue to be read in Austria.
The Cabinet of Vienna is not fond of the transmission of political correspondence to foreign countries; it would even suppress it at the Post Office. But now, that I find myself beyond the Austrian territory, I think it my duty to transmit to you these facts; and, for still further security, I no longer confide them to the ordinary post.
The English reader will perhaps be surprised that M. de Sedlenitzki, after the autograph letter, drawn up in very energetic language, should have been able or willing to retain his situation. In Austria this surprises no one. The Austrian functionaries are very immoveable. The late Emperor Francis was one day dissatisfied with his Minister of War, because the soldiers at a review passed in a disorderly manner before the Emperor, in consequence of a pool of water, which the rain had formed in the street. For this light cause, he wrote to the Minister a fulminating letter; but the Minister kept his place, and keeps it still.
I shall take another opportunity of speaking to you about the Emperor Ferdinand, and of characterising this Prince, of such simple habits, who is the object, in the European press, of such complicated commentaries. I shall limit myself to stating, on this occasion, that the Emperor has a will of his own, and that Russia would deceive herself, were she to think herself able to dictate to him orders through the channel of an Austrian minister. I dare not pretend, in so hasty a letter, to sketch the portrait of Prince Metternich: but I venture to affirm that he does not sufficiently appreciate the strength of an empire such as Austria, and that he is too forgetful of the true interests of this empire, in listening, oftentimes with a complacency which resembles obedience, to the counsels, the notes, the threats, of the Russian embassy. Perhaps the aversion of the Prince to publicity has contributed as much
as the Russian note to his order to the booksellers; but, in this particular case, does he not see himself at least exposed to having his policy misinterpreted? As regards M. de Sedlenitzki, I leave him to the reflection of the public, to think of him as they like.
It is not the first time, however, that an imperial note in Austria has afforded a remedy for the scandalous proceedings of the Russian embassy. Under the reign of Francis-the story is somewhat old, though unrecited-an aristocratic assembly used regularly to meet at this embassy, and a noble foreign lady, famous for her liaisons with an Hungarian nobleman, was the soul of the party. I do not like to engage in polemics against the fair sex, and I shall not designate this lady by name, but I shall mention that, in the midst of her acts of levity, she allowed herself to propose a raffle for a young negro, brought up with her son, and his intimate companion. The noble society bought the tickets, and the Ambassador committed the crime of making his residence the theatre of these shameful transactions, the profits of which were to enrich the lady. The Emperor heard of it. An autograph letter obliged M. de Sedlenitzki to take his measures, and they got out of the scrape by supplying the place of a negro with a statue of him imitated in chocolate.
Many of my friends were in the Rhenish provinces during the journey of the French Princes. Their highnesses the Dukes of Orleans and Nemours were too much in society and travelled too rapidly to be able to study very deeply the positions of the countries which they traversed. But they must have perceived that the Prussians on the Rhine are animated with liberal ideas; that they long for a Constitution, and that they are opposed to the Russian Alliance. I abstain from citing the proofs, for the functionaries might take advantage of them. The prisons and the fortresses on the Rhine are already too well filled.*
The French Princes conducted themselves admirably, and have distinguished themselves by a delicacy entirely French. At Coblentz, General von Borstell, commanding the 8th corps of the
• See Despatch of General von Borstell, No. 25 of the "Portfolio."