Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armée
Tallyrand’s Response to Fox’s Letter of 21 April 1806: June 2, 1806
Paris, June 2, 1806.
No. VIII. – Sir, I put under the eyes of the Emperor, the last letter that Y. Exc. made me the honor of writing me. I only then repeat to you, according to his orders, that to require France that makes a treaty with you, to do so based on the principle of your alliance with Russia is to want to reduce us to a form of forced discussion, and we to suppose in a state of lowering us to where we never were. One should never flatter oneself to impose on France, neither the conditions of peace, nor a mode of negotiations contrary to the custom. The requirement on one or the other case of these points, also affects the French temperament, and I do not fear to say that to triumph in this respect all our loathing, it is exactly as if an English army had invaded Belgium and was a day before entering into Picardy by emerging from the Somme.
I must still repeat to you, Mr., that in the truth, S.M. desires peace, and why wouldnt I be able that it could be said that we were the ones where the negotiations broke down, through all the epochs? that the prolongation of the war, was never determined by the size of France, and that in times of peace, a great State can make use of its forces only to be maintained and preserve such as they are, and its relations with its neighbors.
France does not dispute the right of you to choose and preserve your friends; in the war, one does not have the choice of its enemies, and it is well necessary that one fights them alone or separately, according to whether it is advisable to them to act in concert to achieve their sights of aggression and resistance, and to form alliances if not entirely in conformity with the true politics of their countries, and that the first clause of these alliances always was to hold them secret.
Because we want to follow in this circumstance, the form of negotiation that was in use at all times and all countries, you conclude from it that we do not want that you to have relations on the Continent. I do not think that we ever gave place to such an induction. It does not depend on us to prevent any government to bind itself with you, and we can want neither what is unjust, nor what is absurd; but another thing is that you form connections with your choice, and another thing that we would contribute to it and that we help you to contract them. However, in agreeing to make a treaty with you on the principles of your alliances and to admit them in the discussion of the direct and immediate interests which divide us, is more than to suffer them and recognize them, it is to some extent to bless them, cement them and guarantee them. I already noted to you, Mr., we cannot yield on this point, because of what the principle is for us.
However to leave no place from now on for misunderstanding, I believe if my duty to propose 1o. to negotiate with you in the same preliminary forms which were adopted under the ministry of Mr. the marquis of Rockingham in 1782, forms which were not so fortunately renewed renewed (sic) for the negotiations of Lille, but which had every success in the negotiation which preceded his treaty of Amiens; 2o. to establish for a basis two fundamental principles; the first that I draw from your letter of March 25, knowledge “that the two States will have as an aim peace which is honorable for them and their respective allies, and at the same time that this peace will likely be able to ensure, as much as they will be able it, the future rest of Europe.” The second principle will be recognition in favor of one and the others power of straight intervention and guarantee for continental businesses and maritime businesses. S.M. is not alone in feeling repugnance not to make such consent, he likes to set it up as a tenet, thereby exposing to you his true intentions; I believe to have given you a decisive proof of his peaceful provisions. S.M. is convinced at the same time as while preventing for always in this respect any subjects of complaints, concerns and declamations, he made on a point which interests primarily the good of humanity, his duty as a man and sovereign.
It would be, Sir, with regret that I would see finishing a discussion that began sounding so promisingly good. I would have however, by losing a hope which is quite dear to me, the consolation to think that the wrong in having made it disappear could not be charged to France, since it does not ask and only wants what is reasonable and just.
Yours truly, Sir, with the insurance of my higher consideration. Signed, CH. M. TALLEYRAND, prince de Bénévent.
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