Eylau: An Abstract of the Chronological Exploits of the Grand Army
Fox’s Response to Tallyrand’s Letter of 1 April 1806: April 8, 1806
Downing-Street, this 8 April 1806.
No V. – Sir, I received only yesterday evening your dispatch of the first of this month. Before answering it, allow me to ensure V Exc. that the frankness and the kind tone that one notices there, gave here the greatest pleasure. A conciliatory spirit, expressed on both sides, is already a great step towards peace.
If what V Exc. speaks of a connection between the interior businesses and the political businesses, an answer is hardly necessary: we do not involve ourselves in times of war in this, and with stronger reason we will not do it in times of peace; and nothing is further away from our thoughts here, than a want to or mix us with interior laws, that you will consider proper with your regulating customs and to support the rights of your trade, or to insult with your house.
When in a commercial treaty, England does not believe itself to have interest or the to desire any more than other nations. There are many people who think that a similar treaty between France and Great Britain would also be most useful for the two contracting parties, but it is a question about which each government must judge according to their proper appearance (aperçus), and those that refuse it should not offend, nor do they have any account with those that propose it.
It is not, Sir, me only, but any reasonable man that must recognize that the true interest of France, is peace, and that, consequently it is on its conservation that must be founded the true glory of its government.
It is true that we mutually accused ourselves; but there is nothing to be gained, at this moment, to discuss the arguments upon which these charges were founded. We wish, like you, for equality. Undoubtedly, let us not be accountants of one another of what we do on our own premises, and the principle of reciprocity in this respect, that V Exc. proposed, appears right and reasonable.
One cannot deny that your arguments, on the disadvantage for France a short-lived peace would have, are not valid; but on other side, that we would also suffer considerably. It is perhaps natural that, in similar cases, each nation exaggerates its own dangers, or that at least it looks at them more closely and with an eye more clear-sighted than those of others.
As for the intervention of a foreign power, it should initially be noticed that, when one looks at peace and the war between France and England, Russia cannot be supposed a foreign power, considering which it is currently in alliance with England and at war with France. This is why in my letter I proposed to utilize Emperor Alexander as an equal partner, not like mediator.
V Exc., in the last clause of his dispatch, recognizes that peace must be honorable, both for France and England, for their respective allies. Considering the close alliance that remains between the two governments, it appears to us to be impossible, that England can begin preliminary negotiations, without at least concurrence through the preliminary assent of its ally.
As regards the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire, no argument can be offered, these objects being also important with all the parties interested in the discussion in question.
It is perhaps true that the power of France on ground, compared with that of the rest of Europe, is not equal to the superiority which we have on sea, when considering the same point of view; but one should not conclude that there is a plan to combine all Europe against France, this is fanciful on the last point. As for the remainder, it is pushing the truth a little too far to have apprehensions for the future, to consider an alliance between Russia and England (the two powers of Europe least able to attack France by ground) as producing a similar result.
You shouldnt look at the intervention of Russia into the negotiation like the formation of a congress, neither for the form nor for the thing, especially as there will be only two parties, Russia and England on a side, and France of the other. A congress could be good with many regards after the signature of the preliminaries, in case that all the contracting parts are of this opinion, but it is a project to be discussed freely and in a friendly way after the principal business will have been arranged.
Here is, Sir that which, I show you with all clearness that I could, the feelings of the British ministry on the concepts that V Exc. suggested. I am happy to believe that there is not one point essential on which we do not agree.
As soon as you authorize that we parlay temporarily until Russia can intervene, and as of-at the time, jointly with it, we are ready to start, without differing from only one day, the negotiation in such place and such form that the two parties will judge right to assist the most prompt possible object of our work.
I have the honor to be for your distinguished consideration, Sir, De V.Exc. the humble one and very obedient servant, C.J. Fox.
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