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ART. X.-1. Diplomates Européens. (European Diplomatists.)

1. Prince Metternich. 2. Pozzo di Borgo. 3. Prince Talleyrand. 4. Baron Pasquier. 5. The Duke of Wellington. 6. The Duc de Richelieu. 7. Prince Hardenberg. 8. Count Nessel

rode. 9. Lord Castlereagh. Par M. CAPEFIGUE. Paris. 1843. 2. Fêtes et Souvenirs du Congrès de Vienne. 1814, 1815.

Par le Comte A. DE LA GARDE. Paris. 1843. MONSIEUR CAPEFIGUE is the Froissart of diplomacy. A battle of protocols is, in his eyes, the finest of battles. An engagement evaded, an antagonist overreached, an adversary tricked, is more worthy of record than a well-contested combat or a victory won. He observes the whirlwind of wordy warfare with passionless impartiality: his sympathies lean only to the most skilful, even though the game should be in the hands of the enemy of his country. Thus while he lauds to the skies the Duc de Richelieu, whose lot it was to bind up the wounds of France occupied by the allies, he reveres Wellington, and almost adores Lord Castlereagh. And as the chronicler of the times of chivalry loved to record the deeds of knighthood, collected from the lips of the actors therein engaged, so has M. Capefigue drawn much of his information from his own heroes personally. Metternich, Pozzo di Borgo, and Talleyrand have 'posed' for him; and we presume it to be gratitude to Baron Pasquier for some familiar whisperings about an intended post obit payment of impartial truth to posterity in the shape of twenty volumes of posthumous memoirs, that has impelled the author to hang up the chancellor's portrait in his gallery of European diplomatists !

M. Capefigue has selected nine, of whom we have already named seven; the two remaining are Count Nesselrode, and a name less present to the memory, but deserving of honour, that of the Prince Hardenberg of Prussia. Why there should have been nine, neither more nor less, we cannot divine. Perhaps the number of the muses inspired some mystical analogy; for, cold and colourless as is the painting of the bard of diplomacy, he is not free from the modern French cant about symbols, and ideas, and systems. “It is not at hazard,” declares he, " that I have chosen the historical names of these statesmen; they all

represent an idea, a system of policy.” For example, " the Duke of Wellington is the armed active England of the times:” and Talleyrand, even the Talleyrand of the republic, the consulate, the empire, the restoration, and of the revolution of 1830, is a fixed idea to M. Capefigue! Of the Duke of Wellington, be it here remarked that he is the last man in the world on whom such an Defence of Talleyrand.

191 historian should have laid his hands. He tells the French that the duke, speaking of his military character, although admirable in defence, never knew when or how to attack. We thought that Napier, in his unequalled history of the Peninsular war, had settled for ever such twaddle as that. What was the battle of Salamanca, of which Capefigue speaks, but an attack made at the right moment? and what the three days' battle of the Pyrenees but a series of attacks? What in fine swept the French from the Peninsula !

But if M. Capefigue be not another Homer of battles, he is the very Ossian of the cloud-capt land of diplomacy. Prince Metternich is his ideal. The author is speaking of the period when Austria hesitated about joining the coalition against Napoleon, hoping that she might command back by an armed neutrality, and without the necessity of again taking the field, those possessions of which she had been stripped.

“ It was then," says Capefigue, “ that to justify this delicate situation M. de Metternich commenced that elegant school of noble diplomatic language,

of which M. de Gentz became the most distinguished organ. In those notes M. de Metternich was seen to develop his principles upon the European equilibrium, which tended to contract the immense power of Napoleon for the benefit of the Allied States. I know nothing more remarkably written than these notes, a little vague in their details, but so well measured in their expressions, that they never either engaged the Cabinet nor the man."

There is indeed throughout this book a strange moral insensibility! Policy covers sin, nay, knows not what sin means. Faults are its only crimes. Let us take for instance the memoir of Talleyrand, and see what excuse is offered for his many tergiversations, of which each was a perjury.

“ M. de Talleyrand never held himself tied down to a Government or a doctrine ; he did not betray Napoleon in the absolute sense of the word, he only quitted him at the right time; he did not betray the restauration, he abandoned it when it had abandoned itself. There is much egotism without doubt in this mind, whose first thought turned to its own position and prospects, and then in the second place to the Government it served; but in fine, we ought not always require from a superior mind that self-denial which constitutes a blind devotion to a cause or a man.”

Such is Capefigue's apology for Talleyrand, and the doctrine is carried out in the book to similar exaltation of diplomatists and liars of all countries. We have nowhere met so sickening a portrait. From the moment Talleyrand appears upon the stage as Bishop of Autun, officiating at mass which he profanes by a side grimace to Mirabeau, to his deathbed from which he essays to rise in order that his royal visiter, Louis Philippe, may receive his due of ceremonial from first to last, through his private gamblings and public betrayals ---we think he nowhere stands in so bad a point of view as that in which he is placed by this apologetic laureat of diplomatists. In one place there is an insinuation of so dark a character, that it ought only to have been introduced upon the condition of settling it once and for ever. It is explained in the following passage:

To the period of the arrival of Louis XVIII. M. de Talleyrand was at the head of the Provisional Government. The whole responsibility weighed upon him, and it was then that he had to reproach himself with being hurried into the commission of acts which belonged to the spirit of the time. There are indeed times when the human head is without control ; it is hurried along by the torrent of prevailing ideas ; it is impressed with the spirit of reaction. The mission of M. de Maubreil has never been perfectly cleared up. What was its object ? It is pretended that his sole commission related to the stopping of the crown jewels. Other reports say that he was charged with a more dreadful mission against Napoleon, resembling that which struck the last of the Condés. I can avow that Maubreil never had any direct or personal interview with Talleyrand. In these deplorable circumstances the latter kept always out of view. Here is what passed. One of the secretaries of Talleyrand, then in his confidence, told Maubreil with a careless air, “This is what the prince requires you to do; annexed is your commission and money, and in proof of the truth of what I say, and of the prince's assent, wait in his salon to-day, he will pass and will give you an approving nod of his head.' The sign was given and Maubreil believed himself authorized to fulfil his mission. What was the nature of that mission ? Historical times are not yet come, when all may be told and cleared up. I do not judge any conduct. There are periods, I repeat, when on ne s'appartient pas."

Whatever may have been Talleyrand's crimes, we are not satisfied to adopt this charge of his having nodded a commission to assassinate Napoleon. We cannot believe such a story probable, upon the unsatisfactory assumption that this incarnation of impassability was hurried away by a torrent of fashionable ideas, of some very bad description. This Monsieur Capefigue is, with all his indifference, a credulous man. We find in his memoir of Castlereagh, for example, a charge brought against Canning of the foulest character. We give it in his own words.

“Castlereagh, in his capacity of minister of war, made immense preparations for the Walcheren expedition. Must it be told ? Here begins the treason of Canning in relation to his country; in relation to his colleague, it is incontestable that Canning furnished information to Fouché of Castlereagh's plans."

But Capefigue, philosophic moralist! has always palliation ready, proportioned to the amount of the crime. Listen to the profundity of the following aphorism: When jealousy reaches the heart it listens to nothing; '-and so he proceeds with his history.

Charge against Canning.

193 “ Canning engaged Lord Portland to disembarrass himself of Lord Castlereagh, whose obstinate head, he represented, was as incapable of conducting the war department as of directing or sustaining a debate in parliament. Canning wanted to rule the Tory party, and Castlereagh was an obstacle to his ambitious designs.”

This story is, of course, a piece of stupid absurdity, not worth a moment's consideration: he who would, with a grave face, undertake its refutation seriously, would be laughed at as a simpleton. Capefigue hates Canning for no other reason that we can discover, than that Canning was a brilliant orator. historian has no bowels for such a monster in diplomacy as an eloquent statesman. He bundles such a being off in the same category with poets. Vagueness, as he tells us, is the great beauty of diplomatic writing: admit eloquence and warmth, with conviction and sincerity, and what would become of the noble diplomatic art?

Of the nine memoirs before us, there is none—not even the romantic Corsican subtlety and hatred of Pozzo di Borgo, perseveringly pursuing Napoleon like his evil genius, until, as he figuratively declared, “he threw the last clay upon his headthat so interests us as that of Prince Hardenberg, and this not upon his own account, but for the glorious young Prussians of the Universities: those boys who conspired without a word passed, and whose combination, effected under the nose of their French oppressors, was unsuspected until the magnificent explosion awoke at once and overwhelmed them. The Prussian minister did his duty at the right moment; and then, says Capefigue, with warmth not usual,

“ Then were seen the universities rising, and their professors themselves leading their young pupils to these battles of giants. The battles of Lutzen and Bautzen have never yet been examined under the point of view which would give them a melancholy interest. glorious generations meet in presence. The conscripts of the empire from eighteen to twenty-one ; the students of the universities, who bore the funeral flag of the Queen Louisa, and the oldest of whom was not perhaps twenty-two. In the midst of this noble young blood thundered 1500 pieces of cannon, tearing this rosy flesh, and maiming these limbs ; and yet not one of these youths flinched, for they combated for their mother-country.”

Terrible this may be, but after the cold-blooded, tortuous, hollow hypocrisy with which M. Capefigue commonly afflicts us, it at least healthily stirs the blood. Never had a country been so trampled upon, plundered,

and degraded as was Prussia by France, after the battle of Jena. The contributions levied upon


peasantry threatened to convert the fields into a waste. The wantonness of the conqueror was exhibited in outrages the most revolting.


The indignity offered by Napoleon to the beautiful, clever, and heartbroken queen, was imitated in grossness of a worse description. It is a fact known to many living officers that, at the occupation of Paris, Blucher held an order issued by the military governor of Berlin, to provide the French officers with female companions under a menace that may be imagined.

Why do we dwell on this here? Because M. Capefigue endeavours to confound English with Russians, as urged by one common desire to oppress and humiliate France after the victory of Waterloo. He does so for the purpose of exalting the clemency of the Emperor Alexander. The truth of the matter is, that it was the Duke of Wellington who saved the monuments of the French capital from the destruction to which they were doomed by Blucher; the authority of Alexander was interposed with the same object, but at the instigation of the duke. Capefigue is an avowed advocate for an alliance between France and Russia, and it is in accordance with this view, that treating of this bitter period of the occupation of Paris, he endeavours to conciliate his countrymen towards Russia by representing Alexander and his Russians as mediators and saviours against the wrath and cupidity of English and Prussians.

What credit is due to M. Capefigue as an historian may therefore be easily determined. The vagueness which in diplomatic writing is with him the perfection of skill, he himself carries into the appreciation of what is or ought to be positive. He can seldom get beyond a hint or an assertion, unless with some special feeling to gratify: No one is more positive or bold, when he would accuse Canning of an act as unknown as assassination to the British character; or when, depreciating Wellington, he would exalt the clemency of Alexander as the star of a RussoGallic alliance.

We turn to the Comte de la Garde. Pleasant as diplomacy is,

and gay and brilliant as must have been the aspect of Vienna in 1814, and the early part of 1815, we suspect that beneath the endless succession of fêtes prepared for the many crowned heads, wearing at length their crowns with some feeling of security, there lurked a dissatisfied feeling: something like that which affects ourselves in the perusal of the Comte de la Garde's gaudy book. While we are stunned with the music of monster concerts, and confounded with a tumult of military fêtes, varied with grotesque revivals of the customs of the middle age, while troubadours, paladins and their dames, falconers and tableaux vivans, glitter past us,—while all is glare, noise, dancing, feeding, gambling, and enjoyment,—we cannot but bear in mind, that the map of Europe is spread out itself like a banquet, for each royal

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