Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

concerning the relations in which we stand with regard to the facts, past or future, that are incompatible with the Treaty of Prague. I explained to him that considerations of convenience may provisionally determine the Government of his Majesty the Emperor to ignore such facts, and that this Government also willingly allows that the German sympathies which it has retained should exercise an influence upon its conduct, so long as it need not consider the interest of its own empire as thereby endangered.

“On the other hand, the desire that the Imperial Cabinet should give its consent to the treaties of alliance which it has hitherto passed over in silence, and even to the other still more extensive violations of the Treaty of Prague, was frankly designated by me as quite incapable of fulfilment; and I pointed out that Austria, in her present position, must rather be cautious not to give up in any way, by word or deed, the right of appealing at the proper time to the articles of the Treaty of Prague.

· Furthermore, I did not conceal from Count Bray that I am unable to understand how they could think of inducing us to alter our attitude in this matter, by making such vague proposals as that of Bavaria, that an alliance with Austria should be concluded or negotiated. If the word “ alliance,” according to the common usage of international law, is to be understood to mean a transitory league for definite objects, then there is the objection that such objects have not been pointed out, and it is not likely that they can be pointed out at present. But if a lasting

. league is thought of, by which the Imperial Government would give up its liberty, not for a definite action, but indetinitely and for ever, and wbich is to form one of the

66

essential parts of the political renovation of Germany, then there would be, in the first instance, the necessity of formally dispensing us from the obligation not to take part in this renovation; and, secondly, it could not be overlooked that a great power can neither be subordinate to another, nor serve foreign objects, nor bind itself beforehand to decrees which have been brought about without its participation. I doubt whether the Cabinet of Munich is able to offer us an equally privileged position to that of Prussia in a new confederacy of the whole of Germany; but if such is not the case, the statesmen of Austria are obliged to return to the full freedom which they have exchanged for their former rights in the Bund.

“The conclusion which I must draw from all these considerations, placing myself in the position of Bavaria, can be no other than that which I have already made the hasis of my manifold utterances on former occasions. Being asked for my opinion, I can only say that I believe Bavaria would do well to remain in a merely observant attitude, and to abstain from all further steps which would lead it beyond the line drawn by the Treaty of Prague. Austria has not come forward with protests against the treaties of August; but we cannot deceive ourselves that these treaties have contributed not a little to the dangerous strife of the last month. The exertions of the London Conference have just dispersed the grave apprehensions which had been raised, and we cannot advise the creation of a new situation, by which the clouds that have scarcely disappeared might only too easily return in more menacing proportions than before. Our efforts for peace have, on the other band, fully proved that it is not our will to use our independence to the disadvantage of Germany; and this

а

also strengthens our claim not to be made to encounter a position which is still more difficult, and deviates still farther from the state of affairs stipulated by the treaty. I cannot comprehend why, under present circumstances, a difficult position should be created for the South German Governments which would leave them no choice. It seems to me that the condition of Europe gives a sufficiently distinct warning to beware of every step by which, instead of the Luxemburg question, we might precipitate conflicts which would be still more serious, and, perhaps, could not be removed by the best-intentioned mediation.

“In the above remarks I have noted down the substance of the reply which I had to give to the Bavarian Ambassador on receiving his communication. It confirms, indeed, only that which is already known to the Royal Cabinet, especially by the reports of Count Tauffkirchen ; yet I deem it my duty to authorise your Excellency to show this despatch confidentially to the Royal Minister, the Prince of Hohenlohe.

“ Accept, etc., etc."

All the European courts

courts were astonished at the contents of this extraordinary secret treaty, and the parliaments of the South German States demanded an explanation of it.

The Foreign Ministers of Würtemberg and Bavaria answered that, in the case of offensive wars, the existence of a cusus fæderis would have to be decided upon by the respective Governments. Prussia's very questionable proceedings in this matter could not fail to exasperate France. She conceived that, after the annexation of Hanover, Electoral Hesse, and the Duchy of Nassau, she also had a right to compensation, and this gave rise to a feeling that France,

and not Austria, had been beaten at Sadowa. Luxemburg The Luxemburg controversy fanned this spark

of rivalry into a flame, which, had it not been opportunely extinguished, might have had the most disastrous results. The Grand Duchy of Luxemburg is one of the disjecta membra of the Germanic Confederation which was dissolved by the Treaty of Prague. It is situated between the two great powers who were arming for war, and actually intercepts their strategical routes. The King of Holland, who is Duke of Luxemburg, feeling, and not without good cause, that the geographical position of the Duchy must some day or other make it a bone of contention, and that it would then suffer the fate of the grain of corn between two millstones, determined to treat with France for its cession. Until the struggle of 1866, the town of Luxemburg had been a fortress

a

of the Confederation, garrisoned by Prussian troops. But after the war, Luxemburg declined to continue a member of the new Germanic Confederation under the supremacy of Prussia ; and here arose the difficulty, for Prussia maintained, under the pretext of guarding Germany, that she still had the right to garrison the town, although the old Germanic Confederation had been dissolved. Of course, in the face of such a state of things, any cession to France was out of the

question. An angry diplomatic correspondence ensued, which bid fair once more to plunge Europe into a sanguinary war.

At this critical moment Baron Beust offered his services to both parties, and was accepted by them as mediator. By a series of very able diplomatic notes he succeeded, without wounding the honour of either of the dissentients, in bringing about the Conference of London, which was composed of the representatives of the signitaries of the Treaty of Vienna of the 9th of June, 1815. The result of the Conference was, that France gave up the idea of enlarging her possessions by the purchase of Luxemburg, and that Prussia waived her imaginary right

« ZurückWeiter »