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Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armee

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Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armée

Letter from Henri Clarke, Secretary of the French Cabinet, to Lauderdale, British Pleniportentiary to Paris; Not Dated.

N.o XIV. – The undersigned, ambassador plenipotentiary of S.M. the Emperor, King of Italy, put under the eyes of his Government the note given yesterday by S. Ex. Lord Lauderdale, plenipotentiary of S.M. of the British. 

S.M. Emperor, King of Italy, has been painfully affected to be able to only see that the negotiation which was already the object of so many talks, which gave place to the sending of so many letters on both sides, and which was finally ready to be led to its maturity, suddenly retrogressed to the present obstacles, not in the nature of the stipulations, but on the same bases according to which this negotiation had open. 

The court of France has constantly refused to admit in the same negotiation the courses of England and Russia, and it is only the desire to see soon a restored general peace which has allowed S.M. the Emperor of France, King of Italy, this consideration to violate this principle of his policy.  Moreover, the negotiations which France had started in Petersburg, had convinced S.M. the Emperor, King of Italy, whom the English cabinet formed an illusion on the nature of his relations with Russia. 

After several months of discussion, the cabinet of London yielded on this point, and S. Ex. the Count of Yarmouth arrived publicly at Calais, then to Paris, to make a treaty of peace.  He had, on his arrival in this capital, the conferences with S. Ex. the Minister for the foreign relations, making known beforehand that he was duly authorized by his government. 

Since this time, Russia has concluded its peace with France; the undersigned was appointed minister plenipotentiary to deal with the plenipotentiary of S.M. of the British, and the first step was an exchange of our credentials with those of S. Ex. the Count of Yarmouth, whom we had been led to believe, carried the full-credentials of S. Ex. authorizing deal, conclude and sign a final treaty between France and the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and of Ireland. 

Very frequent conferences, the majority of several hours, took place since between the two plenipotentiaries, which, with good faith on both sides, endeavored to level the difficulties, and reflect aside all that had been able to turn sour the spirits or to embarrass and delay unnecessarily the path of the negotiation. 

Instead of delivery on both sides of the skilful points more or less, but which only moves away more than they bring closer to the goal one wished to reach;  instead of starting their written controversies, not less prejudicial with humanity than the armed hostilities, and which prolong the misfortunes of the people; always instead especially to negotiate peace like one makes the war, the plenipotentiaries had honest conferences, in which S.M. the Emperor and King granted all that he could grant without losing sight of the fact dignity of his crown, his love for his people and the interests of his allies.

One will never reduce S.M. to other sacrifices.

The path that S. Exc. the Count of Lauderdale, the new plenipotentiary of S.M. of Britain, takes seems to announce that a multitude of points will not even be enough to clarify what both governments meant, and does not one obviously run the risk, by adopting such a path, which the suggests the abuses are nowadays manifest, to get along even less than one has done up to now?  If one wants only on the contrary to create points that one can then submit to the Parliament, they do not meet the same need.  It is peace which he desires; also that this honorable peace for France, for Great Britain and for their allies, that the assiduous and mutual work of the respective plenipotentiary be made acceptable to both governments. 

However to make it appear to the eyes of all, his love for the justice and the sincerity of his peaceful feelings, and so that one knows truly with whom one owes all the hindering attributes in the path of negotiation, S.M. the Emperor and King condescended to allow the basis of this already advanced and about to be finished negotiation. 

In the letter written by S. Exc. Mr. Fox, April 1st, by S. Exc. the French Minister for foreign relations, this minister announced that S.M. the Emperor and King entirely adopted the principle exposed in the dispatch of S. Exc. Mr. Fox of the 26 March, and presented as a negotiation bases, “that peace suggested must be honorable for the two courses and for their respective allies.” 

In his letter of June 2 to S. Exc. Mr. Fox, S. Exc. the Minister for foreign relations went further.  He proposed, in the name of S.M. the Emperor and King, to establish for the basis of talks two fundamental principles, the first drawn from the letter of Mr. Fox, of March 26, acknowledges:  “That the two States will have as an aim a peace that is honorable for them and their respective allies, at the same time that this peace would be likely to ensure, as much as they will be able, the future peace of Europe.”  The second principle was “a recognition in favor of the one and other power of direct intervention and guarantee for the continental businesses and the maritime businesses.” 

Such are the bases adopted by the British government and agreed with him.  Never could it enter in the thought of S.M. the Emperor and King, to take for a basis of negotiation uti possidetis.  If such had been his thought, he would have kept Moravia;  part of Hungary, Styria, Carniola, Croatia, and all of Austria up to its capital.  Trieste and Fiume and the surrounding coast area, still coming out in its power, like Genoa and Venice and Hanover, Osnabruck and all the mouths of the large rivers of the North of Germany would be subject with his Empire, and certainly, then, S.M. the Emperor and King could without difficulty let fall the Cape, Surinam, Tobago, Sainte-Luicie, Pondicherry, etc, to the capacity of S.M. of Britain. 

As for Sicily, on this assumption even, S.M. the Emperor and King would not have left it to his enemies:  but S.M. will have thought only that the conquest of this island would have been proper to precede the opening the negotiations, and when Prussia and Russia or guaranteed or recognized the changes created in the kingdom of Both Sicilies, does one have to suppose that England would have been able to prevent the conquest of Sicily which is separated from the Continent by only one channel from less than two thousand standard measures? 

And by supposing even that the Cape and Surinam and other Dutch possessions could have been definitively detached from the kingdom of Holland, isn’t it certain that its incorporation with the French Empire, would have been the necessary continuation of the refusal of him that England restore its colonies?  Which would be indeed the means of maintaining a nation which would have only debts, and to which the absolute absence of any trade would remove any means of paying them?  It strongly seems LL. EE., plenipotentiaries of S.M. of the British, find impossible they are not convinced that it is extremely different for Great Britain to see Texel and the mouth of the Rhine and the Meuse subjected to the French customs, therefore, without the restitution of its colonies, Holland would become inevitably a province of the French Empire;  because by accepting the crown of Holland, prince Louis declared formally his intention to renounce it, if the Dutch colonies were not restored with general peace. 

That Hanover becomes moreover a province of France; that Trieste, Fiume and their territories become also provinces of the kingdom of Italy, and that Great Britain keeps in compensation the Cape, Surinam, Malta, Pondicherry, etc, France will agree to it, and large the principle uti possidetis will be applied in any of his areas for the present and in the future.  What does the new ambassador plenipotentiary of S.M. of Britain finds in the history of the World a negotiation finished according to the uti possidetis, between two great people?  What he examines whether the uti possidetis does not belong rather to an armistice only with one peace?  It is impossible not to say that by proposing in France the uti possidetis, especially in the current circumstances, one had to be to form a strange idea of the character of the Napoleon Emperor, and that it is necessary that one believed him reduced to a singular lowering and state of distress. 

But by requiring the uti possidetis, S.E. the Count of Lauderdale, plenipotentiary of S.M. of the British without having regard with the principle which he advances, wants however to change the destiny of an entire continental state, which provided twenty-five thousand men to England, and provided him part of the means which it paraded in the Seven Years War, and even in the war of the French Revolution to the armies of North.  Thus one wants the uti possidetis, to remove in France all his trade, all his establishments and to ruin his allies; but one wants to violate the principle of the uti possidetis, to oblige France to give up his commitments, to break his treaties, to dissolve his continental system finally.  Isn’t this to propose a peace a thousand times disastrous than the longest war, and its conditions able to excite the indignation of all the French?  What!  France would have overcome all the powers balanced by England, throughout three coalitions, to see it imposing conditions as unjust as dishonoring, in spite of moderation and the generosity that we showed. 

S.E. Mr. Fox proposed itself “that peace was honorable for the two countries and their respective allies.”

S.M. the Emperor and King could not look at a peace as honorable, if by one of these conditions it were to lose just one of his subjects;  and somewhat significant that can be the colony of Tobago, it is enough that it belonged to the French Empire at the time when S.M. took the reins of the Government, so that S.M. will never sign a treaty where the alienation of this colony or every other which belongs to him in the same way would be included/understood.  No reasonable English could flatter the opposite, and in his position, S.M. would lose, if he agreed to it, the regard of all that there is brave and generous in men, even his enemies. 

The undersigned is charged to declare that S.M. the Emperor and King estimates it dishonor only the idea of a negotiation based on the uti possidetis.  It is all the more contrary with his principles, that S.M. restored his conquests, and that he would reign over a population that doubles that which is subjected to him, if at the time of peace which he made, with the expiry various coalitions, it had taken for his single principle the uti possidetis.[1] 

The undersigned is also charged to declare that the only bases of negotiation that S.M. the Emperor and king wants to adopt, are those proposed partly by S.E. Mr. Fox, and partly contained in the letter which to him was addressed on June 2 by the Minister for foreign relations, and recalled in the 12th paragraph of this note. 

S.M. the Emperor and King does not require of Great Britain anything which is against the interests of its allies; it must expect that one will require itself nothing opposite to the interests of his own allies. 

The undersigned is charged to add that it refers to all that had been prepared by the mutual works of S.E. the Count of Yarmouth and the undersigned. 

If peace is not restored, it is not France which could be shown to have changed, but England; though peace between France and Russia, and others unfavorable events in the United Kingdom took place since the negotiation was started and almost brought to its conclusion in liaison with S.E. the Count of Yarmouth.

The undersigned seizes this occasion to ensure LL. EE. the Counts de Lauderdale and of Yarmouth of his high consideration. 

Signed, CLARKE.


[1] uti possidetis: As you now possess. (A diplomatic phrase meaning that at the termination of hostilities the contending parties are to retain whatever territory they may have gained during the war.)




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