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Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armée

Letter from Talleyrand to Lauderdale on Napoleon’s Wish to Continue the Negotiations: 18 September 1806

No XXXII.  – Copy of a note addressed to Lord Lauderdale by H. Exc. the Minister of Foreign Relations, September 18, 1806. 

The undersigned Minister of Foreign Relations put under the eyes of H. M. the Emperor, King of Italy, the note that H. Exc. milord Count Lauderdale, ambassador plenipotentiary of H. M. of the British made the honor of addressing the 13th of this month to him.

H. M. the Emperor and king sees with sorrow that the negotiation seems to take a retrograde direction each day, and it can be explained only with difficulty which goal the English government desires to reach.

Initially one proposed, such as agreed rules, and one wanted to recognize out-of-date forms, of which the text and the funds never allowed nor had been even discussed by the French Government, and when this difficulty appeared divert, and that the French plenipotentiary made a presentiment of sacrifices which displayed moreover provisions of their Government for peace, one returns at points former to the negotiation, and one reproduces a question which three times had been decided; initially by the authority given to Mr. d’ Oubril, and whose MISTERS the plenipotentiaries of H. M. of the British were informed since;  by the authority which England had given to milord Count of Yarmouth, and finally for the third time by those of milord Count of Lauderdale.  It was this, it seems, that made it possible to think that a discussion finished before the first conferences of MM the negotiators and decided even by the fact alone of their negotiation, was not represented any more.  However H. M. the Emperor, wanting to give a new proof of the constant provisions for the re-establishment of peace, adhered to the following proposal:  “That the negotiations between France and England will continue, and that the ambassador plenipotentiary of H. M. King of Great Britain will be able to introduce into the treaty, either such as a secret article, or in any other form which would fulfill the same goal, all that he will believe useful to reconcile the differences which exist between France and Russia, and it to take part in a beneficial peace, of course that it will not be admitted that respectively honorable proposals, and not attacking any the real power, with the dignity of the two Empires, and that one will not see any more reproducing the strange proposals that Mr. de Novoziltzoff had  the share of Russia and which having announced the origin of a coalition overcome and confused as of its birth, must be forgotten with it.  It is proposals, which only result from a man blind with confidence, and a species of intoxication, and not being founded neither on the real force of the States, nor on their geographical situation, are deprived of any peaceful nature, nor carry with them their reprobation.”

France should give up neither the interests of the Ottoman Empire, nor a position which puts it out of range to support this Empire against the aggressions of which Russia threatens it overtly; but all these objects intended to be entered in the provisions of the treaty, having to be reserved for the discussion, the undersigned will not seek to pre-empt the results which it must have.

If, since the changes that have occurred in the cabinet of H. M. of the British, one continues in England to want peace, peace can be made and be made promptly.  The Emperor will not stop with some sacrifices to accelerate it and make it lasting; but if the provisions for the peace had changed in London, if the wise and liberal sights, developed in the first communications which took place with the famous minister that is missed by the two nations, did not prevail more, one vague discussion, of the immoderate claims and of the ambiguous proposals deviating from the ton of the frankness and nobility necessary to lead to a true bringing together, would do nothing but more than turn sour, and would be unworthy of the two people.

France does not pretend to make the law for neither to Russia nor in England; but she does not want to receive it from England nor of Russia either.  That the conditions are equal, right, moderated, peace is made; but if one is pressing, exaggerated, if supremacy is affected, so finally one wants to dictate peace, the Emperor and the French people do not even recognize these proposals.  Confident in themselves, they will say what former people answered his enemies:  “You ask for our weapons, come and take them.”

The undersigned has the honor of renewing, etc.

Signed, CH Mr. TALLEYRAND, Prince de Bénévent.




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