May 14 1815: Crisis of the Affairs of the World

On May 14 1815, the Duke of Wellington writes to the Earl of Clancarty, O.C.B. ‘

DEAR CLANCARTY, I received yesterday your dispatch, No. 4, of the 4th, and your private letter of the 5th, and I enclose you copies of what I have written to Sir Charles Stuart upon the subject. I had already spoken to the King upon it, who, it is probable, as you will see by the enclosed letters, will be constant; but for this I will not answer.

You will see that an erroneous view has been taken at Vienna of our mode of proceeding here.

First; that in fact neither Hanover, Brunswick, or even Prussia, pay one farthing for their troops in this country, notwithstanding that Hanover, for the last year, has been receiving a subsidy at the rate of forty pounds per man per annum, being nearly four times the rate of the present subsidies; and, secondly, that it is not true that the Prussians draw their magazines from Juliers.

‘This is a point, however, not worth disputing. The Allies should be thinking of something else; and, instead of endeavoring to swell our expenses here, they should endeavor to lessen them; and we should assist them as much as possible in drawing every resource from the countries within their reach, in order to enable them to subsist the enormous bodies which they are bringing to bear upon one point.

‘I suppose the Allies do not wish us, or the King of the Netherlands, to take, or, in other words, rob, subsistence for our armies in the country of the King of the Netherlands; if we choose to take money from our own pockets, and not from theirs, to pay for it. So far that point is settled. And as for the Allied German Powers, whose troops will serve with this army, or whose troops are now in the Netherlands, all that they will have to complain of in the arrangement of the Subsistence Committee is, that they should be made to pay their kreutzers for those supplies which they have hitherto received for nothing.

‘Therefore, as far as I am concerned, I beg you to make such an arrangement as you may think proper respecting the rayons.

‘I cannot, however, conclude upon this subject, without expressing my regret that the discussion of it should have occasioned so much warmth, and that such a paper as M. de Stein’s should have been produced by the Prussian Legation. In a crisis of the affairs of the world, the Powers of Europe are about to embark in a great contest; and Great Britain, who is interested only in a secondary degree in the crisis, who can be injured only in the injury which others will suffer, comes forward with all her resources, and not only puts forth all the strength which circumstances and her situation enable her to collect, but assists with money all the Powers of Europe, small as well as great, in proportion to their several exertions, and this at a moment of unparalleled financial difficulty, occasioned by her exertions in a similar manner in the last years of the late war.

‘I should be sorry that public men in England ever became disgusted with the affairs of the Continent, and that the interest felt in its concerns should be diminished; and in this sense it is, and adverting to the impression which M. de Stein’s paper has made upon my mind, that I regret that such a document was ever allowed to be brought forward.

Believe me, &c. Wellington.

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