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rectly, of bringing within their own domi- position, on the part of the Prince Regent, nions a single article which did not of right, to humiliate the French nation. His royal at the period of their conquest, belong either highness's general policy, the demeanour of to their respective family collections, or to his troops in France, his having seized the the countries over which they now actually first moment of Buonaparte's surrender to reign.
restore to France the freedom of her comWhatever value the Prince Regent might merce, and, above all, the desire he has reattach to such exquisite specimens of the fine' cently evinced to preserve ultimately to arts, if otherwise acquired, he has no wish to France her territorial integrity, with certain become possessed of them at the expence of modifications essential to the security of France, or rather of the countries to which neighbouring states, are the best proofs that, they of right belong, more especially by fol- consideration of justice to others, a desire to. lowing up a principle in war which he consi- heal the wounds inflicted by the revolution, ders as a reproach to the nation by which it and not any illiberal sentiment towards has been adopted ; and so far from wishing to France, have alone dictated this decision. take advantage of the occasion to purchase The whole question resolves itself into from the rightful owners any articles they this :-Are the powers of Europe now formmight, from pecuniary considerations, be dis. ing in sincerity a permanent settlement with posed to part with, his royal highness would, the king? And if so, upon what principles on the contrary, be disposed rather to afford shall it be concluded ? Shall it be upon the the means of replacing them in those very conservation or the abandonment of revolutemples and galleries, of which they were so tionary spoliations? long the ornaments.
Can the king feel his own dignity exalted, Were it possible that his royal highness's or his title improved, on being surrounded sentiments towards the person and cause of by monuments of art, which record not less Louis XVIII. could be brought into doubt, the sufferings of his own illustrious house
, or that the position of his most Christian than of other nations of Europe? If the majesty would be injured in the eyes of bis French people be desirous of treading back own people, the Prince Regent would not their steps, can they rationally desirc to precome to this conclusion without the rnost serve this source of animosity between them painful reluctance; but, on the contrary, his and all other nations; and, if they are not, is royal highness really believes that his majesty it politic to flatter their vanity, and to keep will rise in the love and respect of his own alive the hopes which the contemplation of subjects, in proportion as he separates him- these trophies are calculated to excite? Can self from these remembrances of revolution- even the army reasonably desire it? The ary warfare. These spoils, which iinpede a recollection of their cami paigns can never moral reconciliation between France and the perish. They are recorded in the military countries she has invaded, are not necessary annals of Europe. They are emblazoned on to record the exploits of her armies, which, the public monuments of their own country: notwithstanding the cause in which they why is it necessary to associate their glory were achieved, must ever make the arms of in the field with a system of plunder, by the the nation respected abroad. But whilst adoption of which, in contravention of the these objects remain at Paris, constituting, law of modern war, the chief that led them as it were, the title deeds of the countries
to battle, in fact, tarnished the lustre of their which have been given up, the sentiments of arms? re-uniting these countries again to France If we are really to return to peace and to will never be altogether extinct; nor will the ancient maxims, it cannot be wise to preserve genius of the French people ever completely just so much of the abuses of the past, nor associate itself with the more limited exist. can the king desire, out of the wrecks of the ence assigned to the nation under the Bour; revolution, of which ihis family has been one bons.
of the chief victims, ito perpetuate in his Neither is this opinion given with any dis- house this odious monopoly, of the arts. The
splendid collection which France possessed in conference; and the subject was taken previous to the revolution, augmented by into consideration repeatedly, with a view the Borghese collection, which has since been to discover a mode of doing justice to the purchased * (one of the finest in the world), claimants of the specimens of the arts in the will afford to the king ample means of orna- museums, without injuring the feelings of menting, in its fair proportion, the capital of the king of France. In the meantime, the his empire: and his majesty may divest him- Prussians had obtained from his majesty not self of this tainted source of distinction, with only the really Prussian pictures, but those out prejudice to the due elevation of the arts belonging to the Prussian territories on the in France.
left of the Rhine, and the pictures, &c. beIn applying a remedy to the offensive longing to all the allies of his Prussian maevil, it does not appear that any middle line jesty; and the subject pressed for an early can be adopted, which does not go to recog- decision; and your lordship wrote your note nize a variety of spoliations, under the cover of the 11th instant, in which it was fully disof treaties, if possible more flagrant in their cussed. character than the acts of undisguised rapine The minister of the king of the Netherby which these remains were in general lands still having no satisfactory answer from brought together.
the French government, appealed to me, as The principle of property, regulated by the the general in chief of the army of the king claims of the territories from whence these of the Netherlands, to know whether I had works were taken, is the surest and only any objection to employ his majesty's troops guide to justice; and perhaps there is nothing to obtain possession of what was his unwhich would more tend to settle the public doubted property. I referred this applicamind of Europe at this day, than such an tion again to the ministers of the allied homage, on the part of the king of France, courts, and no objection having been statéd, to a principle of virtue, conciliation, and I considered it my duty to take the necessary peace.
measures to obtain what was his right. (Signed) CASTLEREAGH. I accordingly spoke to the prince de Tal
leyrand upon the subject ; explained to him DISPATCH FROM THE DUKE OF WELLING- what had passed in conference, and the
TON TO VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGI, DATED grounds I had for thinking that the king of
the Netherlands had a right to the pictures ; My Dear Lord,
and begged him to state the case to the king, There has been a good deal of dissension and to ask his majesty to do me the favour here lately respecting the measures which I to point out the mode of effecting the object have been under the necessity of adopting, of the king of the Netherlands which should in order to get for the king of the Nether- be least offensive to his majesty. The prince, lands his pictures, &c. from the museums ; de Talleyrand promised me an answer on and, lest these reports should reach the Prince the following evening; which not having Regent, I wish to trouble you, for his royal received, I called upon him at night, and higliness's information, with the following had another discussion with him upon the statement of what has passed:
subject, in which he informed me that the Shortly after the arrival of the sovereigns king could give no order upon it; that I at Paris, the minister of the king of the Ne might act as I thought proper; and that I
, therlands claimed the pictures, &c. belonging might communicate with Monsieur Denon. to his sovereign, equally with those of other I sent my aide-de-camp, lientenant-colonel powers; and, as far as I could learn, never Freemantle, to Monsieur Denon, in the could get any satisfactory reply from the morning, who informed him that he had no French government. After several conver orders to give any pictures out of the gallery, sations with me, he addressed your lordship and that he could give none without the use an official note, which was laid before the of force. ministers of the allied sovereigns assembled I then sent colonel Freemantle to the
prince de Talleyrand, to inform him of this I stated this circumstance to the French answer, and to acquaint him that the troops commissioners, and they then offered to adopt would go the next morning, at twelve o'clock, the article, with an exception of the Prussian to take possession of the king of the Nether- pictures. To this offer, I answered, that I land's pictures; and to point out, that if any stood there as an ally of all the nations in disturbance resulted from this measure, the Europe, and any thing that was granted to king's ministers, and not I, were responsible. Prussia I must claim for other nations. I Colonel Freemantle likewise informed Mon- added, that I had no instructions regarding sieur Denon that the same measures would the museum, nor no grounds on which to be adopted.
form a judgment how the sovereigns would It was not necessary, however, to send the act; that they certainly would insist upon troops, as a Prussian guard had always re- the king's performing his engagements, and mained in possession of the gallery, and the that I recommended that the article should pictures were taken without the necessity of be omitted altogether, and that the question calling for those of the arıny under my com. should be reserved for the decision of the mand, excepting as a working party, to assist sovereigns when they should arrive. in taking them down and packing them, Thus the question regarding the museum
It has been stated, that in being the in- stands under the treaties. The convention strument of removing the pictures belonging of Paris is silent upon it, and there was a to the king of the Netherlands, from the communication upon the subject which regallery of the Thuilleries, I had been guilty served the decision for the sovereigns. of a breach of a treaty which I had myself Supposing the silence of the treaty of made; and as there is no mention of the Paris, of May 1814, regarding the museum, museum in the treaty of the 25th of March, gave the French governinent an undisputed and it now appears that the treaty meant is claim to its contents upon all future occathe military convention of Paris, it is neces- sions, it will not be denied that this claim sary to shew how that convention affects the was shaken by this transaction. museum.
Those who acted for the French goverIt is not now necessary to discuss the ment at the time, considered that the sucquestion, whether the allies were or not at cessful army had a right to, and would touch war with France; there is no doubt what- the contents of the museum; and they made ever that their armies entered Paris under a
an attempt to save them by an article in the military convention concluded with an officer military convention. This article was reof the government, the prefect of the depart- jected, and the claim of the allies to their ment of the Seine, and an officer of the arıny, pictures was broadly advanced by the negobeing a representation of each of the authori- ciators on their part; and this was stated as ties existing at Paris at the moment, and au- the ground for rejecting the article. Not thorised by those authorities to treat and only then the military convention did not in conclude for them,
itself guarantee the possession, but the transThe article of the convention which it is action above recited tended to weaken the supposed has been broken, is the 11th, which claim to the possession by the French gorelates to public property. I positively deny vernment, which is founded upon the silence that this article referred at all to the museums of the treaty of Paris, of May 1814. The or galleries of pictures.
allies then having the contents of the muT'he French commissioners, in the original seum justly in their power, could not do projet, proposed an article to provide for the otherwise than restore them to the countries security of this description of property.— from which, contrary to the practice of civiPrince Blucher would not consent to it, as lised warfare, they had been torn, during the he said there were pictures in the gallery disastrous period of the French revolution, which had been taken from Prussia, which and the tyranny of Buonaparte. his majesty Louis XVIII. had promised to The conduct of the allies, regarding the restore; but which have never been restored.
museum, at the period of the treaty of Paris, might be fairly attributed to their desire to Not only then, would it, in my opinion, conciliate the French army, and to consoli- be unjust in the sovereigns to gratify the date the reconciliation with Europe, which people of France on this subject, at the exthe
army at that period manifested a disposi- pence of their own people, but the sacrifice tion to effect. But the circumstances are they would make would be impolitic, as it now entirely different. The army disap- would deprive them of the opportunity of pointed the reasonable expectations of the giving the people of France a great moral world, and seized the earliest opportunity of lesson. rebelling against their sovereign, and of giv
I have the honour to be, ing their services to the common enemy of My dear Lord, your's, most faitlifully, mankind, with a view to the revival of the
WELLINGTON. disastrous period which had passed, and of the scenes of plunder which the world had Those to whom the statements of the made such gigantic efforts to get rid of. English ministry were known considered
: This army having been defeated by the them as made in compliance with a feeling armies of Europe, they have been disbanded of national jealousy, rather than of justice; by the united council of the sovereigns, and and the order of the English cabinet was atno reason can exist why the powers of Eu- tributed to the under secretary, Mr. Hamilrope should do injustice to their own sub- ton, a gentleman known in the literary world, jects, with a view to conciliate them again. and highly interested in the restoration or Neither has it ever appeared to me to be the works of art. In answer to the note of necessary, that the allied sovereigns should lord Castlereagh, another note was given in omit this opportunity to do justice, and to by M. de Nesselrode, on the part of the emgratify their own subjects, in order to gratify peror Alexander. It represented the painful the people of France. The feelings of the situation in which it placed Louis XVIII. people of France, upon this subject, must be with regard to the public, and that, if the one of national vanity only. It must be a allies, in the last year, forbore retaking their desire to retain these specimens of the arts, property in the museum, from their respect not because Paris is the fittest depository for for the king, this motive ought to operate them (as, upon that subject, artists, connois- with double force at the present period. It seurs, and all who have written upon it, agree was for a short time believed that this Rus that the whole ought to be removed to their sian note had produced some effect, but ancient seat), but because they were obtained whether the emperor Alexander relaxed in by military successes, of which they are the the
energy of his representations, or because trophies.
the Russian troops had withdrawn from the The same feelings which induce the people capital, this hope was delusive. Further of France to wish to retain the pictures and observations were made to the French gostatues of other nations, would naturally in- verninent by lord Castlereagh, and some irri. duce other nations to wish, now that success tation excited by the silence with which they is on their side, that the property should be were received, but still inore by a severe returned to their rightful owners, and the note from M. Talleyrand. The war of di. allied sovereigns must feel a desire to gratify plomacy then ceased-sentence was passed thein.
on the gallery and the attack on the mu. It is, besides, on many accounts, desirable, seum began. It had been shut
but as well for their happiness, as for that of the opened on the requisition of an English world, that the people of France, if they do colonel, who demanded, with authority, the not already feel that Europe is too strong for surrender of the objects which liad belonged them, should be made sensible of it, and that to the Belgic provinces. English troops whatever
may be the extent, at any time, of were placed on guard at the Louvre. The their momentary and partial success against king ordered the gates' to be opened: but any one, or any number of individual powers that, on no pretence, any assistance should in Europe, the day of retribution must come. be given to the invaders.
A kind of custom-house was established Europe, after having been shaken to its. at the gate, to ascertain what should be foundation, had scarcely enjoyed one moment taken. Sentinels were posted along the gal- of repose, one hope of stability, when a cry lery of the museum, at every twenty paces, of terror spread itself abroad" The reign but this circumstance did not entirely pre- of religious persecution is begun." The vent fraud. The Belgic amateurs, aided by astonishment produced by this new calamity the English soldiery, performed their duties surpassed, if possible, even the horror it inin conjunction. The turn of the Austrians spired. Amidst all the various phases of came next, who, though always tardy in the French revolution, the star of religious their operations, never swerve from their liberty had moved calmly in its majestic purpose. Paris was in an uproar. Curses orbit, and cheered despairing humanity with louder and longer than those heaped on the a ray of celestial radiance. Amidst the viohead of Obadiah, in Tristram Shandy, were lation of every other principle, the domain poured on the allies by the enraged Parisians. of conscience appeared to be consecrated They forgot all other miseries. The project ground, where tyranny feared to tread.--of blowing up bridges, pillage, spoliations, Heaven had pleased to rain on France all massacres, war-taxes, the dismemberment of other afflictions ; but religious persecution the empire, were obliterated from their minds seemed an obsolete evil, which the continent by the loss of the monuments of art. They had no more reason to fear than the return thought no more of the cession of fortresses, of trials by ordeal, or the burning of sorand the fate of the constitutional charter. cerers. During the phrenzy of the time of All principles, feelings, hopes, and fears, were Robespierre, the catholic priests had indeed absorbed in this one great and hateful humi- been persecuted; but that paroxysm of madLiation.
ness, when churches were profaned by impi. The violence of their resentment, their ous rites, and abandoned females personified despair at the removal of the master-pieces the goddesses of heaven, had long elapsed; of art, denote the feelings of a people arrived an unprecedented but fleeting horror
, that, at a very high degree of civilization. The like the shock of an earthquake, was no Parisians, while they had supported with sooner felt than gone. The Frencly proequanimity the most signal calamities, and
testants hud, during a long succession of endured with cheerfulness the most cruel years, been admitted to the court
, the army, privations, deplored with sensibility the loss the legislature, and the senate; holding, in of objects which, far from being necessary to every ceremonial of state, their equal rank the wants of ordinary life, are only fitted to with their catholic brethren. charm and embellish its highest state of re- In a single moment the scene was changed. finement. They asserted that, amidst the The catholics profiting by the return of the rapid revolutions of our times, a possession Bourbons, and stimulated by enthusiasm of some years gives as great a right to pro- dispersed themselves in various provinces of perty as would have been acquired formerly the country, and proposed the alternative by the lapse of ages. They remarked, with repent or perish ; become catholics or we a kind of spiteful sarcasm, that the doctrine kill you. They proceeded at once to execuof justice, so ostentatiously preached by the tion. Their victims were marked, and they allies, and so severely practised in behalf of plundered and murdered, as their fury statues and pictures, had been less rigidly rected, wherever they found protestant pro. observed towards human beings; and that, perty, or persons professing the protestant while they established with such grave aus- faith. The citizens of opulent towns
, and terity the rights of inanimate objects, it their populous, vicinities, became the mar. would have been well if, in the treaties re- tyrs. Nismes was the centre of this desola. specting Genoa and Venice, at the late con- tion; it spread to the country round, and gress, the rulers of the globe had never lost even menaced the citadel of protestantism in sight of the rights of men, and the principles France, the mountains of the Cevennes. of liberty.
From whatever cause this violence pro