« PreviousContinue »
not of opinion that the king can do no wrong; but they firmly believe, that he will not do wrong. But for this, they would hardly have submitted, without grumbling, to promises advanced by one administration, and silently set aside by the next; nor to Cabinet-Orders, for some of which it appears, that “la religion de sa Majesté a été trompée;" nor to other matters, among which stands foremost that same great friendship with Russia. What might the king of Prussia be, if, grown grey with the honest fame of an upright, though sometimes mistaken, policy, he were to conquer for once his inclination, and allow his people to believe that their shield of honour shall shine for ever bright, their royal eagle shall soar undaunted by any mightier presence, and that the dignified, the truly impartial, mediation of their king shall be instrumental in preserving the liberties and the peace of Europe! For, be it recollected, it is peace that we want, not war. Only we want a peace that shall be both honourable and safe.
There are not wanting those, who contrast the present ostensible policy of Prussia with the destination imparted to her by the master-mind of the Great Frederick, and defined by the penetration of Herzberg. This intelligent statesman, in the preface to the last volume of his Memoirs, laid down the following principles: "Cette médiocre Monarchie Prussienne (1795) est plus propre que toute autre puissance en Europe, elle est même principalement appellée par sa position geographique, et par ses intérêts à maintenir l'équilibre de l'Allemagne et par conséquent celui de l'Europe contra quoscunque." Again: "La Prusse est une puissance trop médiocre, pour qu'elle puisse vouloir être ambitieuse et injuste, et s'aggrandir injustement, ce dont elle serait toujours empêchée par des voisins préponderans; mais elle est assez puissante, pour qu'elle puisse empêcher les desseins injustes et dangereux, au bien général de tel ou autre voisin trop ambitieux et préponderant, et dans ces cus pareils, elle peut être sûre de la confiance, du suffrage, et même de l'assistance des autres Etats et Puissances, qui sont avec elle dans les mêmes intérêts." Herzberg was also fully aware of the importance of the Ottoman Empire
being preserved intact; he prided himself in the Convention of Reichenbach and the subsequent treaty; he said of the king, whom he describes as the principal mover of them: "Par ces moyens il a assuré pour long tems l'existence de l'Empire Ottoman en Europe, et de cette manière il à rétabli et garanti vers l'Orient cet équilibre du pouvoir," &c. And Johannes Müller spoke of the two systems placed at the option of the king of Prussia in the following terms (Fürstenbund, 251): Prussia might join the greater powers, or some of them, to make common cause with them against the minor ones; that is, she might so far disregard the honour of the Prussian name and her own interests, as to take the law from the stronger, and give it to those who might be so utterly abandoned by God and by themselves, as not to find salvation either in their own resolution, or in a great man taking the lead. In this last case, Prussia would be sacrificed by the greater powers. In the most fortunate event, Prussia would be among the first powers the last, the most odious of all, and sure to fall a prey to the others, whenever they may take up a humour of conquest, without an arm being stretched out in defence of her." The other system he describes as that adopted by Frederick the Great, and experimentally tried in the course of forty years (he wrote in 1787) "the dedication of the national energies, not to the selfish purposes of dark ambition, but to the cause of German and European liberty.”
Vol. IV. page 2, line 4, for "those islands," read "the Ionian Islands." 83, line 24, for "Russian upon," read "Russian, as upon."
[We are induced to lay the accompanying Despatch before our readers earlier than we had originally intended, on account of recent events in Switzerland, on which it is calculated to throw some light.
It will doubtless afford to the reader as much matter for reflection as to ourselves, to see the degree of importance which Russia attaches to a small spot of territory, so distant from her own dominions, and with which she has no direct natural connexion, whilst we, on the other hand, are in the habit of looking on Switzerland as the lowest in the scale of European States, and as having hardly any weight whatever in the political balance.
But this Despatch is not the first indication we have of Russia being conscious of the advantages to be derived from Switzerland, both on account of her geographical position and her republican institutions.
One of her ablest and most confidential Diplomatists, Capodistrias, was the predecessor of M. de Severin, and he remained in Switzerland until he had succeeded in raising a ferment in favour of Greece, which rapidly spread over the Continent, the results of which were, the Treaty of July the 6th, and the nomination of Capodistrias to be President of Greece.
In this, Capodistrias and the views of Russia were supported by the liberals, who were duped into thinking that Russia had any principles whatever, and who were led to imagine that Capodistrias was liberally inclined.
But, whilst caressing that party, Russia was not unmindful that she had Conservative Allies, whose hostility it was necessary to disarm, and who, if roused against her, might have interposed no ordinary obstacles to the objects she had in view. Hence the conservative tenor of the present Despatch; and, if our readers wish to see this idea further developed, we refer them to a former number, wherein we published the instructions from Count Nesselrode to M. de Tatistcheff, the Russian Ambassador at Vienna.
We conceive it to be a great mistake, although very generally entertained, to suppose that Russian policy is conservative. The
VOL. IV.NO. XXIX.
war of opinion in Europe is necessary to Russia. By this she is enabled to play off one party against the other. The cessation of that struggle would considerably diminish her power, and would afford the Governments of Europe leisure to see the crisis she is preparing for them, and to unite for the purpose of averting it.
It has been aptly said that Russia has ends, not principles; but, if she has principles, we consider that they have been much better designated by the Berlin Gazette, wherein they are called destructive.
The most important reflection to which this Despatch gives rise is the expression that "Switzerland is the key to three important Kingdoms."
We feel that we should do injustice to the sagacity of our readers if we were to offer any comment on the profound views contained in this short sentence.
It may help to explain the subserviency of the Court of Turin to the views of Russia, her influence at the Diet of Frankfort, and why the discontents against the Government of Louis Philippe have been studiously fomented in the south-eastern provinces of France.]
INSTRUCTIONS FROM COUNT NESSELRODE TO M. DE SEVERIN,
ENVOY OF RUSSIA TO THE SWISS CONFEDERATION.
St. Petersburg, Jan. 14, 1827.
The confidence which the Emperor reposes in you calls you to the honour of representing him in Switzerland; and herewith you will receive the letters which accredit you to the authorities of that country. It is unnecessary to add instructions to these letters. Your long labours in the department of Foreign Affairs, the services which you have rendered in that department, the knowledge which you have thus acquired of the principles which govern the policy of the Russian Cabinet, relieve us from the necessity of explaining
Copie de l'instruction pour Mr. de Sévérin, St. Petersburg, le 14 Janvier, 1827.
La confiance de l'Empereur vous appele à l'honneur de le représenter en Suisse, et vous trouverez ci-joint les lettres qui vous accréditent auprès des autorités de ce pays. A ces lettres nous ne pourrions pas ajouter d'instructions. Vos longs travaux au Ministère des affaires étrangères, les services que vous y avez rendus, la connoissance que vous y avez acquise des principes qui président à la politique du Cabinet de Russie, nous dispensent