« PreviousContinue »
On me dit qu'il [Metternich] se montre extrêmement satisfait de la conclusion du Traité du 15 Juillet (the Convention of London) et d'être parvenu par là à détacher l'Angleterre de la France et d'avoir rompu l'alliance qui existait entre ces deux États constitutionnels, laquelle pouvait être regardée comme menaçante pour les anciennes Monarchies.' * But the Entente Cordiale was tenacious of life. It had already passed through some severe trials, during the ten years that followed its birth, when Guizot, on the morrow of the re-entry of France into the Concert of Europe (1841), bethought himself of it and, in agreement with Aberdeen, secured for it some years of tranquil existence, which resulted in certain arrangements of benefit to both countries,
From that time onward the Entente continued to exist without too much difficulty until the day when Louis Philippe's government, crushed under the burden of the grave anxieties arising from the internal situation of France, was compelled to ignore it just at the moment when there was most reason to make it more intimate and to use it in order to avoid the consequences which the question of the Spanish Marriages had raised between its guardians in London and Paris. Then the Entente Cordiale once more vanished, and did not appear again until-but this time in the form of an alliance—the eve of the Crimean war. Subsequently forgotten for nearly half a century, it emerged no more from the shades until -but this time definitely—the day when a great king took steps to revive it, and established it on an impregnable foundation for the well-being and the greatness of two countries and the salvation of humanity and civilisation.
I regret having been unable to procure access to the private letter that Guizot wrote to Count Flahaut, the French ambassador at Vienna, for it would have singularly facilitated my present task; first, because this letter was the determining cause of a manifestation that was a little surprising on the part of a statesman like Metternich, of that kind of confession, or at least profession of faith, which he was seldom accustomed to
* Count de Sambuy to Count Solaro della Margharita (Vienna, Aug. 11, 1840 ; Carteggio Sambuy,' published by Count Mario degli Alberti, • Biblioteca di Storia Italiana Recente,' vi, 323).
make; and further, because it would have thrown light upon several somewhat nebulous points of the reasoning of the Austrian chancellor. But, unfortunately, no minute of this dispatch is to be found in the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris.
The moment chosen by the two statesmen for this exchange of views and considerations was a serious one. As Count Sambuy remarked about a year later, on his arrival at Turin, Metternich décline lentement. And it was in the most sombre colours that the Piedmontese diplomatist depicted to Charles-Albert the situation of Austria, and the crisis through which the monarchy of the Hapsburgs would pass when deprived of both pilot and of guidance at the moment when the Chancellor should disappear from the scene. Infatuated with his work as he was, Metternich nevertheless began to realise how frail was the edifice which he had taken such trouble to raise. He watched with as much attention as anxiety the incessant labour that was being accomplished in Italy, the agitation going on in Switzerland, the progress of ideas in Germany, and especially the struggle that Guizot was carrying on in France against the attacks of the Liberal Opposition. From this moment he realised the necessity for seeking and preparing a basis of support. He came by degrees to this conclusion: that this support France must be fully disposed to give him, because the government of July had, like himself, every interest to forestall, to restrain, to combat, in agreement with himself, the progress of liberal ideas, which was, from his point of view, synonymous with the spirit of anarchy. He knew, or at least believed that he knew, that Guizot was on the whole opposed to all reform, inasmuch as his programme tended solely in the direction of maintaining order at home and peace abroad. He had already recognised that Louis Philippe's minister had contented himself with giving to his government the appearances of a parliamentary régime. Although, probably in order to support his argument, he had affirmed, in his letter of April 19, which Apponyi, the Austrian ambassador in Paris,* was directed to read to Guizot, that l'Entente
* Antoine Rodolphe, Count d'Apponyi (1782-1853), who was one of Metternich's most intimate confidants, had been previously accredited to Florence, Rome, and London, and did not leave Paris until after the Revolution of 1848.
Cordiale ne lui a jamais donné un instant de souci,' the re-entry of France into the European Concert had given him some uneasy moments. Master as he generally was of his words, he did not attempt to conceal, and in any case did not succeed in concealing, the vexation and disappointment he felt on account of what, in his dispatch to Apponyi of Jan, 20, 1844, he termed 'la monstrueuse jonction de la France et de l'Angleterre.'
This combination pre-occupied and irritated him so strongly that in this same dispatch he could not prevent himself de s'étonner et de s'indigner de la stupidité avec laquelle le Cabinet de Londres se laissait jouer par celui de Paris.' He even went so far as to criticise the choice made by Guizot, in describing his relations with England, of the words ·Cordial Understanding '--those two words which express only a sentiment. "Il eût mieux fait,' he writes, de prendre position sur le terrain de l'intérêt réciproque qu'ont ces Etats de vivre en paix et dès lors en bonne harmonie.'
The efforts of the two Courts of London and Paris to revive the Franco-British Entente unfortunately did not result in the re-establishment of an agreement, notwithstanding its desirability from every point of view. The task was beyond their strength, owing to the fact that popular susceptibilities on both sides of the Channel were too tender, too deeply-rooted, to permit of a complete reconciliation, of a real rapprochement. Metternich must have known this better than anybody. Nevertheless, although the honeymoon enjoyed by the two Governments was this time again of very short duration, it seriously alarmed the Chancellor.
To convince ourselves of this it will be sufficient to compare the terms which he thought fit to employ in his dispatch to Apponyi on April 19 with those which he made use of in the one that he addressed to him on Aug. 29. At that moment he had just received his reports of Aug. 9-12: Le sujet dont ils traitent m'a grandement préoccupé dans le cours des derniers temps, he writes. J'entends parler par là des relations entre la France et l'Angleterre. But, as if he regretted this admission, as if he feared to leave Apponyi under such an impression, he could think of nothing better than to conclude by advising his ambassador not to lose
sight of a maxim that one hardly would expect to find coming from his pen, and which, at all events, very rarely inspired his policy: ‘Rien de ce qui pêche par le fond ne se soutient, et, pour les affaires, il ne peut y avoir qu'une base solide, celle de la vérité.'
It appears, then, that the Entente Cordiale, fragile and ephemeral as it was, had so deeply impressed Metternich that he had decided, from this moment, to leave no stone unturned to prevent it from being re-established. And it was for this reason that, seeing the edifice which he had spent all his life in erecting beginning to show signs of collapse, he came to the decision to retrace his steps and throw himself again on the side of France. He multiplied his advances to Guizot, overwhelmed him with attentions, praises, and flatteries, to which he had good reason to believe the French statesman was not insensible. Wishing at any cost to win Guizot's confidence, Metternich foreshadowed the course that he wished to follow when, in the last lines of his dispatch of April 19, he reached what appeared to him to be a very reassuring conclusion for himself : C'est qu'au fond, entre la marche de l'esprit de M. Guizot et celle du mien, il n'existe aucune différence essentielle.'
Although Metternich continued, and always continued, to be on his guard against France, his resolve was firmly taken, his plan of campaign well thought out. He had laid down a programme whose realisation he prosecuted in spite of all obstacles ; and the unpublished dispatch which follows is, if I am not mistaken, one of the first manifestations, and not the least curious, of that political evolution which Debidour has so justly called Le dernier effort de Metternich.'
Prince Metternich to Count Apponyi.
• Vienne, 19 avril 1844.* M. le comte de Flahaut m'a lu, en extrait, la lettre particulière de M. Guizot du contenu de laquelle Votre Excellence a eu connaissance par M. le Ministre des Affaires Étrangères lui-même. Cette lettre a vivement excité mon intérêt, et l'impression qui m'en est restée est que, dans tous
Arch. des Aff. Étrang. Austria,' vol. 431, pp. 221-7. Copy of a dispatch from Prince Metternich to Count Apponyi, transmitted to Guizot by Count Flahaut.
les points essentiels, je suis de l'avis de son auteur, et je pourrais me borner à ce peu de mots si une manifestation aussi franche de la part d'un homme d'Êtat de la valeur de M. Guizot ne méritait une réponse conçue en des termes moins laconiques.
‘M. Guizot établit, en thèse, qu'entre les grands États il n'y a aujourd'hui point de rivalité réelle, point de sérieux conflits d'intérêts, point de vraie lutte d'influence. Il ne reconnaît en Europe qu'une affaire qui est la même pour tout le monde : “Réprimer l'esprit anarchique et, pour cela, maintenir la paix." Telle est aussi ma conviction. Je puis dire avec vérité que depuis un grand nombre d'années, elle a été la base de la marche politique de notre Cour; et l'impartiale histoire devra nous rendre le témoignage que, sans la constance de nos efforts, bien des malheurs, dont le Corps social durant cette longue période a été menacé, se fussent accomplis.
'Ma vie politique, M. l'Ambassadeur, embrasse deux époques distinctes. Elle commence avec le siècle, dont la première moitié sera bientôt écoulée. Pendant la première époque, c'est-à-dire entre les années 1801 et 1814, mes regards sont restés immuablement fixés sur la grande figure de l'Homme qui avait résumé en lui les produits de la Révolution sociale en France. Lorsque cet immense pouvoir a croulé, j'ai pris congé de la politique proprement dite, et j'ai reporté mes soins personnels sur le terrain que cette chute a dû préparer et que M. Guizot caractérise avec autant de raison que de vérité. Toutefois, dans les absolu, il en est de même à l'égard des thèses, et je n'ai certes pas besoin de faire remarquer à M. Guizot que tous les hommes chargés de la direction des Affaires publiques ne saisissent pas également bien des vérités dont, lui et moi, nous sommes convaincus.
L'esprit qui préside à la marche de notre Cour, M. le comte, est d'une parfaite évidence. Nous ne cherchons dans les choses que ce qui s'y trouve. Or, ce qui prédomine aujourd'hui dans le Corps social, c'est, dans les masses, le sentiment du besoin de repos, et, dans les partis, celui du mouvement. Cette lutte amène tout naturellement une absence de questions strictement politiques, mais en même temps elle pousse les chefs de partis à faire naître des questions qui, au fond, n'existent pas, uniquement dans le but de les faire servir à leurs vues particulières. Nous vouons tous nos soins à ne pas être dupes de cette tactique, et c'est pour cela que nous faisons, aussi souvent que l'occasion s'en présente, des appels aux Cabinets dont nous avons le sentiment d'être compris.
edumaines rien n'étant