November 5 1814: Russian Mischief


On November 5 1814, the Duke of Wellington, now the ambassador to Paris, writes to Lord Castlereagh, in Vienna.

Paris, November 5, 1814.
My dear Lord—General Fagel has just sent to inform me that he is going to send to Vienna a person in whom confidence can be placed, and I take the opportunity of sending you the enclosed letter from Lord Liverpool and two or three despatches, and of writing you a few lines, which you will receive before the courier will arrive, who will leave this on Monday night.

I have this instant had an interview with Monsieur de Blacas. I found him much displeased at the continued obstinacy of the Emperor of Russia respecting Poland, on which he says that he understands that his Imperial Majesty declared, before he quitted Vienna, to go into Hungary, that he considered all matters settled; that he was to be King of Poland, and the King of Prussia King of Saxony; and that he had given Monsieur de Talleyrand to understand that he would not depart from his plan on either of those countries. Monsieur de Blacas said that the result would be that the King, and most probably the Prince Regent, would withdraw their Ministers from the Congress, declaring they could not acknowledge these arrangements, and that Europe would remain in a feverish state, which, sooner or later, must end in war.

I again urged him in the strongest manner to have instructions sent to Monsieur de Talleyrand to lay aside all considerations upon small points, and to unite cordially with you in a great effort to produce the union of all the Powers in Europe against the projected aggrandizement of Russia. Monsieur de Blacas then said that he considered that these were three great objects for arrangement—Poland, Naples, and Saxony—upon which the King felt an almost equal interest, and that he did not think your lordship was inclined to act so directly to affect the views which the Government of both countries professed to have, as he had expected, and that he wished that you should receive farther instructions on the subject from home. I told him that he was quite mistaken; that I had not the papers to show him, but could assure him that language could not be stronger than that which you had used, both verbally and in writing, to the Emperor of Russia, to dissuade him from his Polish scheme, which was the foundation of all the mischief, and that you were directing all your efforts to connect the Ministers of the other Powers of Europe in the same views and measures with you, on this point; that you considered other points as comparatively unimportant; and that, moreover, the ultimate decision of them depended more or less on the decision as to the Polish question, which went to whether there should or not be in Europe any system whatever of equilibrium.

I reminded him that I had already apprized him that Monsieur de Talleyrand was running after these small objects, instead of looking to that principal one; and he admitted that he was not himself satisfied with his conduct. He then proposed that Great Britain, France, Spain, and Holland, should agree by treaty not to recognise the Polish arrangement ; and he pressed this point strongly and repeatedly, as being the best mode of drawing with us Austria and Prussia. I told him that all combinations of this description created jealousy, and that the first and immediate effect of such an arrangement would be to separate us from our old Allies.

He gave up this idea, and he went away at last, as he said, convinced that the best method to be adopted was all to unite for the object of opposing the Emperor’s views in Poland, laying all minor points aside, and promising to endeavour to remove from the King’s mind the impression that you were not decided in your measures on this point.

In the course of the conversation, he again adverted to the notion of increasing their army; but it is quite obvious that this measure is not determined upon, and that I before did not understand him as he intended I should. Or is it possible that he intended to augment the army, if I had encouraged this notion? Ever yours, my dear lord, most sincerely, WELLINGTON.

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