Eylau: An Abstract of the Chronological Exploits of the Grand Army
Tallyrand’s Response to Fox’s Letter of 26 March 1806: April 1, 1806
No. IV. -Mister, the moment I received your letter of March 26, I went to S.M., and I am happy to inform you he authorized me to prepare for you without delay the following answer.
The Emperor does not have anything but the same wishes that England has. Peace with France is possible and it can be perpetuated, when one does not involve oneself in our interior businesses, and when one does not enforce its legislation on our customs, or on our rights to trade, nor when one supports any insult to our house.
It is not you, Sir, who showed in a great number of public discussions an exact knowledge of the general affairs of Europe and those of France, that needed convincing that France does not have anything but a desire to rest in a situation which enables it to be delivered without any obstacle to work of its industry.
The Emperor does not think that such or such an article of the treaty of Amiens was the cause of the war. He is convinced that the true cause was the refusal to make a commercial treaty and this has been necessarily harmful to manufacturers and the industry of his subjects.
Your predecessors accused us all of wanting to invade. In France, they also accuse England. Eh well! We ask only for equality. We will never ask for an account of what you do on your own premises, provided that you in your turn never ask for an account from us on what we do on our premises. This principle is of reciprocity is right, reasonable, and respectively advantageous.
You express the desire that the negotiation leads to a lasting peace. France is more interested that any other power that the peace is stable. A truce would do nothing but prepare us for new losses. You know very well that the nations, similar in this point to each man considered individually, are accustomed with this state of war, as there were with a situation of peace. All the losses that France could make have been sustained, and they were taken in the first six months of the war. Today our trade and our industry are collapsed, and we have adapted to our state of war. At the same time the truce of two our three years has at the same time been more contrary to the commercial interests and with the policy of the Emperor.
As for the intervention of a foreign power, the Emperor could accept the mediation of a power that has great maritime forces, because then its participation in peace would be regulated by the same interests that we have to discuss with you; but the mediation about which you speak is not of this nature. You do not want to mislead us, and you feel well that there is no equality between you and us in the guarantee of a power which has three hundred and thousand men on foot, and but does not have a Navy.
The rest, Sir, your communication has a character of frankness and precision which we have not see yet in the reports of from your court to us. I am compelled by duty to put the same frankness and same clearness in my answers. We are ready to make peace in turn with the world. We want to impose something on nobody; but we want that no one imposes something on us, and nobody–neither power, has the means of doing it. It is not with the capacity of anybody to make us reconsider treaties that are carried out. The integrity, whole and absolute independence, of the empire ottoman, are not only the truest desire of the Emperor, but the most constant point of his policy.
Two nations enlightened and close one to other, must have in their power and wisdoms, the ability to see the missed opportunity, if they called into the discussions of the great interests that divide them, foreign and distant interventions. Thus, Sir, peace can be treated and concluded immediately, if your court has truly the desire to arrive there.
Our interests are reconcilable by that even as they are distinct. You are the sovereigns of the seas; your maritime forces are equal to those of all the sovereigns of the world joined together. We are a great continental power; but there are several which have, as many forces as us on ground, and your preponderance on the seas will always put our trade at the disposition of your squadrons from of the first declaration of war that you would want to make. Do you think that it is reasonable to wait until the Emperor grants also to you the businesses of the continent your discretion? So master of the sea by your own power, you want to also be it on the ground, combined power, peace is not possible, because then you do not want to arrive at results which you will be able to never reach.
The Emperor, very aware of the prospects that it runs, given its present size and glory, continues with his desire for peace with England. He is human. After so much of toils, he would like also to rest. Father of his subjects, he wishes, as much as that which is perhaps compatible with their honor and the guarantees of the future, to obtain the ease of peace, and bring to them the advantages of a happy and quiet trade.
If thus, Sir, S.M. the king of England really wants peace with France, it will name a plenipotentiary to go to Lille. I have the honor to address passports for this object to you. Once S.M. the Emperor learns of the arrival of the minister of your court, he will name some and will send one of them without delay. The Emperor is ready to make all the concessions that by the extent of your naval forces and your preponderance, you can desire to obtain. I do not believe that you can refuse to also adopt the principle of making him proposals in conformity with the honor of his crown and the rights of the trade of his States. If you are righteous, if you want only what is possible to make peace, peace can be concluded soon.
I finish by you declaring that S.M. entirely adopts the principle relayed in your dispatch and presented as a basis of negotiation, that peace suggested must be honorable for the two countries and their respective allies.
I have the honor to be with the highest consideration, Sir, of your Excellence, the humble one and very-obeying servant, Signed, CH Maur.Talleyrand, Prince of Bénévent.
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