Obrázky stránek

by Napoleon. Only the representatives of Wurtemberg, Baden, and Bavaria were to be admitted to a share in the secret construction, but the rumour of it brought a flock of Teutonic envoys to beset the Hotel Galiffet, while Prussian, English, and Austrian spies hovered restlessly about. The Act was completed by the middle of July, and all the south German princelings were admitted to sign it. It is usual to point out here that Talleyrand once more reaped a rich harvest for his work. No one would question that he, as usual, accepted presents from the States that benefitted by admission. But here again charges have been endorsed without the least discrimination. Count von Senfft, who is more or less friendly to Talleyrand, should be the safest witness to rely upon. Senfft, however, tells us that Talleyrand made use of Von Gagern "in his financial relations with the German princes"; whereas Von Gagern, while confessing a belief that Talleyrand did make a lot of money somehow, gives us his solemn and credible assurance that not a farthing passed between them in connection with the Rhine Confederation.* There can be no doubt that Talleyrand's profit has been grossly exaggerated. On the political side it is not questioned that the new creation was a great advantage to France, however selfish her motive may have been ;

* Towards the close of his "Memoirs" (Mein Anthiel an der Politik," vol. vi.) he again emphatically denies that “zwischen mir und ihm, weder direct noch indirect, sowohl was die Nassauischen als die Zahlreichen andern Fürstern betrifft die ich in den Rheinbund aufnehmen liess, zu irgend einem Handel, Bedingung, oder Bieten gekommen sei."

it raised a bulwark against Prussia and Russia, and provided a fresh army to Napoleon of 63,000 men. Nor is it questioned that the unification and the adoption of the Napoleonic Code brought great advantages to the States involved.

The work of the year seems to have increased Napoleon's appreciation of Talleyrand in spite of occasional suspicion and annoyance. In June he bestowed on his foreign minister the papal fief of Benevento, with the title of Prince. He had appropriated Benevento and Ponte Corvo on the ground that they led to incessant friction between Rome and Naples. Talleyrand merely claims that his rule in Benevento sheltered that little principality "from all spoliation and from conscription." His biographers have not done him justice in the matter. Not only did Talleyrand abstain from making profit out of his gift, but he at once dispatched to Italy a humane and enlightened governor, and had a policy carried out in the sleepy and retrograde province that was of immense service to it.* On his side Talleyrand seems to have retained for some time the feeling of disappointment produced by Napoleon's treatment of Austria. There is a distinct coolness in his letters throughout the spring and summer. But Napoleon overcame his repugnance, and they set out together for the Prussian campaign in apparent cordiality. At all events it is recorded that Napoleon wept on leaving Talleyrand at Mayence.

* See Demaria's "Benevento sotto il Principe Talleyrand."

If Prussia had joined with the Austrians and Russians before Austerlitz, Napoleon's position would have been very serious. He contrived to keep

Haugwitz on the move until after that battle, and then persuaded him to sign an alliance. By the time Prussia learned how much she was really despised at Paris— a contempt in which Talleyrand now entirely joined with D'Hauterive-Austria was powerless, Russia had demobilised, and England was so far alienated that her offer of assistance only arrived after Jena. But when the news of the secret creation of the Rhine Confederation came on top of the exasperation over Hanover, the national temper was raised to white heat, and the King flung out a single-handed challenge to Napoleon. It was not without anxiety that Napoleon confronted the Prussian forces for the first time; and Talleyrand expresses real concern in his letters from Mayence, where he is staying with the Empress and the Queen of Holland. "Three days without news of you," he writes, "are three centuries of anxiety and pain." He warns Napoleon that there is a plot to assassinate him amongst the Prussian officers. At last (October 14th) comes the report of Jena. Within one month of their leaving Paris he is in Berlin with Napoleon, and sees the Emperor proudly dictating notes to his army in the cabinet of Frederick the Great.

Talleyrand remained at Berlin until the end of November, but Napoleon, who was bent on crushing Prussia as he had crushed Austria, began to dispense

with the services of his moderate councillor.

Talleyrand had nothing to do with the insulting bulletins issued from the Prussian capital, or the Berlin Decree against England. Indeed, he affirms that in view of Napoleon's attitude towards Prussia and Spain (which had just shown a not obscure sign of revolt) he resolved to resign his position as position as soon as they returned to France. He did this, as a matter of fact, but he had much to see and to do before reaching Paris once more. Napoleon brushed aside the Prussian negotiators at Berlin, and marched on to Posen to deal with Russia. Talleyrand joined him there, found him harangueing a deputation of Poles (got up by Murat) on national greatness, and telling them they will be a nation when they furnish him with an army of 40,000 men. Talleyrand also says that he found Napoleon reading a list of pictures to be taken to Paris from the Dresden galleries, and succeeded in preventing the raid. They moved on to Warsaw, where Napoleon left him to go and "shove these new Europeans [the Russians] back into their former limits." He made a bad beginning at Pultusk, but returned to Warsaw as bombastic as ever, and spent several weeks in infusing military ardour into Poland and extracting an army from it. Talleyrand profited by the Emperor's temporary check to save the lives of a few small places (Anhalt, Lippé, Waldeck, Reuss, and Schwartzburg) by including them in the Rhine Confederation. Napoleon wanted them for Murat, and did not thank his Foreign Minister for again thwarting him.

But the service rendered by Talleyrand to Napoleon during that winter in Poland was considerable. Napoleon did not at first set a stirring example. He fell into a period of sensuality, and, says Talleyrand, "laid his glory publicly enough at the feet of a beautiful Pole." The Countess Anastase Walewska, then only seventeen years old, aspired to influence the Emperor in the interest of her country, and only succeeded in making the winter pass pleasantly for him at the castle of Finkenstein. Von Gagern, who met her and her son afterwards at Paris, was at Warsaw, and says that Talleyrand told him one day he was unwilling any longer to be "an instrument in the hand of the destroying angel of Europe." He was at that time acting, not only as diplomatic minister in the continuous correspondence with Austria and Prussia, but as chief military agent. Napoleon had appointed an incompetent governor at Warsaw, and had enjoined Talleyrand to see to the commissariat and transport of the army. "To-day," the Emperor writes on March 12th, "the fate of Europe and the greatest calculations depend on supplies. It will be child's play to beat the Russians if I have food. Whatever you do will be done well. The charge I entrust to you is more important than all the negotiations in the world." The hundred letters that Talleyrand writes to him during those four months— letters clearly written with his own hand-reflect an amazing activity. He is seeing, amid tremendous difficulties, that the Emperor gets 50,000 rations of

« PředchozíPokračovat »