November 21 1814: Dealings with Talleyrand

On November 21 1814,  Lord Castlereagh, in Vienna, writes to the Duke of Wellington, preparing to leave Paris.

Vienna, November 21, 1814.
My dear Lord—I send you, under a flying seal, my diplomatic budget since I last wrote. You will trace some indications of light on the horizon, but we must not too sanguinely calculate upon a change of substance, because our intercourse has assumed a more becoming exterior. However, it is something to find that we are allowed to treat, and not bound to receive the Emperor’s pleasure as law.

I cannot sufliciently express to you my thanks for your most useful and seasonable co-operation. You have succeeded in rendering the French influence here much more accommodating; and, if I have not been able to bring the Prince de Talleyrand to the point of common exertion, his highness has been to me personally most obliging and conciliatory, and has ceased to thwart me as he did, possibly unintentionally, at first.

The day after I received your letter of the 7th, Prince Talleyrand called on me when I was from home. I happened to dine with him that day, and we fixed an interview for the following morning. As my hopes of Prussia had considerably abated, I could not give him much assurance of the progress I was making. I gave him a general outline of the state in which things were, and endeavoured to draw from him his ideas upon the future conduct of the negociation. He spoke, apparently with openness, his mind, always returning to the old notion of urging Austria to finish the Polish question as well as she could, and then to turn the whole combination upon Saxony.

In judging of the correctness of Talleyrand’s reports to his Government of my conduct, it is but fair to observe that I have not deemed it prudent to disclose to him my operations in detail, finding that he was not always discreet, and that I should lose useful influence in other quarters, if I was understood to be in too close confidence with the French Minister. I have endeavoured, however, to ‘treat him with all possible regard, and to keep him generally informed of my endeavours to promote our common objects. He is become infinitely more accommodating in our general conferences than at the outset.

It sounds incredible, if it is not a proof of Talleyrand’s systematic reserve, that he should treat the notion of any agitation at Paris as wholly unfounded. Happening to hear of General Dufourge’s arrest from Prince Hardenberg, I inquired what the fact was, upon the authority of the Prussian report, without quoting yours. He said the Emperor of Russia had been circulating such a story at a ball the night before, but he gave it no credit; at least, he assured me that he had letters from the King, from M. de Blacas, and M. de J aucourt, from the 4th to the 9th, inclusive, none of which mentioned the subject. His highness did not, however, succeed in quieting my apprehensions on this point, however silent I was on the subject of them to him.

I need not express to you how deeply I enter into them, and how anxious I must feel that the decision, with relation to them, may be for the best. Your devotion to the public service does you the greatest honour.
Ever yours, my dear lord, &c.,
CASTLEREAGH.

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