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Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armée

Letter from Talleyrand to General Knobelsdorff of Prussia, 11 September 1806

Copy of the first note addressed to H. Exec.  Mr. the General Knobelsdorff, by H. A.HS. Prince of Bénévent, Minister of Foreign Relations, on September 11, 1806.

Mainz, October 3, 1806.

The undersigned, Minister of Foreign Relations, is charged, by express order of H. M. the Emperor and King, to make known to H. Exc. Mr. Knobelsdorff that new intelligence, from Berlin under the date of the first days of September, demonstrated that the garrison of this city had left there to go to the borders, that publicly they were presented, even to Berlin, as being directed against France.

The provisions of the court of Berlin surprised H. M., all the more highly by how far from being able to predict them according to the mission of Mr. Knobelsdorff, and the letter of H. M. the King of Prussia, which he was carrying.

H. M. the Emperor and King ordered the sending of new reinforcements to his army:  prudence ordered him to be put in order against a project of aggression as unexpected as it would be unjust.  But it would never have been, not withstanding expensive countermeasures, his wish to see forced to bring together the forces of his Empire, against a power that nature even intended to be the friend of France, since she had bound the two States by a community of interests before they were linked by treaties.  He feels sorry for the lack of consideration of the agents who contributed to make those adopt, as if useful and necessary, these measurements taken by the court of Berlin.  But his sentiments for H. M. the King of Prussia were not changed nor weakened, and will not be as long as H. M. is not forced to conclude that the arming of Prussia is the result of a collaboration of aggression combined with Russia against France; and when the intrigue, which appears to have been agitated in so many manners and under so many forms, to inspire the cabinet of Berlin to preventions against its best and its most faithful ally, will have ceased; when one does not threaten any more by preparations, a nation that until this hour did not appear easy to intimidate, H. M. the Emperor will look at this moment as the happiest for himself and H. M. the King of Prussia.  He should begin first with the countermanding of the movements of troops which he had to order, to stop the arming so ruinous for his treasury, and the relations between the two states will be restored to all their intimacy.

It is undoubtedly a satisfactory thing for the heart of H. M., not to have given, neither directly nor indirectly, a reason for the disagreement which appears ready to burst between the two states, and to never to be able to be responsible for the results for this singular and strange fight, since he did not cease making constantly, through the body of his extraordinary envoy and by the body of the undersigned, all the declarations suitable to thwart the intrigues, which, in spite of his care, prevailed in Berlin:  but it is at the same time for H. M. I., a great subject of reflection and of pain to think that when the alliance of Prussia seemed to have to enable him to decrease the number of his troops and to direct all its forces against the common enemy, who is also that of continent, it is against his ally, that even now he has to take precautions.

The last news from Berlin, decreasing much the hope which the Emperor had based on the mission of Mr. Knobelsdorff, and on the letter of H. M. the King of Prussia, and pretence to confirm the opinion of those which think that the armament of Prussia, without any preliminary explanation, is only the consequence and the first development of a systematic combination with the enemies of France, H. M. sees himself obliged to give to his preparations a general, public and national character.  However she wanted that the undersigned declared that, even after the publicity of extraordinary measurements to which H. M. had to resort, she is predisposed to believe that the arming of the court of Berlin is only the effect of an evil word, produced itself by untrue reports, and to replace itself, when this armament ceases, in same the system of good intelligence, alliance and friendship which linked the two states.

The undersigned, etc.

Signed, CH. MAUR. TALLEYRAND, Prince of Bénévent.

 

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