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The Life of Napoleon I (Volume 1 of 2) by Rose

Doubtless it relied on the Treaty of Luneville


Before

Whitworth proceeded to Paris, sharp remonstrances had been exchanged between the French and British Governments. To our protests against Napoleon's interventions in neighbouring States, he retorted by demanding "the whole Treaty of Amiens and nothing but that treaty." Whereupon Hawkesbury answered: "The state of the Continent at the period of the Treaty of Amiens, and nothing but that state." In reply Napoleon sent off a counterblast, alleging that French troops had evacuated Taranto, that Switzerland had requested his mediation, that German affairs possessed no novelty, and that England, having six months previously waived her interest in continental affairs, could not resume it at will. The retort, which has called forth the admiration of M. Thiers, is more specious than convincing. Hawkesbury's appeal was, not to the sword, but to law; not to French influence gained by military occupations that contravened the Treaty of Luneville, but to international equity.

Certainly, the Addington Cabinet committed a grievous blunder in not inserting in the Treaty of Amiens a clause stipulating the independence of the Batavian and Helvetic Republics. Doubtless it relied on the Treaty of Luneville, and on a Franco-Dutch convention of August, 1801, which specified that French troops were to remain in the Batavian Republic only up to the time of the general peace. But it is one thing to rely on international law, and quite another thing, in an age of violence

and chicanery, to hazard the gravest material interests on its observance. Yet this was what the Addington Ministry had done: "His Majesty consented to make numerous and most important restitutions to the Batavian Government on the consideration of that Government being independent and not being subject to any foreign control."[231] Truly, the restoration of the Cape of Good Hope and of other colonies to the Dutch, solely in reliance on the observance of international law by Napoleon and Talleyrand, was, as the event proved, an act of singular credulity. But, looking at this matter fairly and squarely, it must be allowed that Napoleon's reply evaded the essence of the British complaint; it was merely an _argumentum ad hominem_; it convicted the Addington Cabinet of weakness and improvidence; but in equity it was null and void, and in practical politics it betokened war.

As Napoleon refused to withdraw his troops from Holland, and continued to dominate that unhappy realm, it was clear that the Cape of Good Hope would speedily be closed to our ships--a prospect which immensely enhanced the value of the overland route to India, and of those portals of the Orient, Malta and Egypt. To the Maltese Question we now turn, as also, later on, to the Eastern Question, with which it was then closely connected.

Many causes excited the uneasiness of the British Government about the fate of Malta. In spite of our effort not to wound the susceptibilities of the Czar, who was protector of the Order of St. John, that sensitive young ruler had taken umbrage at the article relating to that island. He now appeared merely as one of the six Powers guaranteeing its independence, not as the sole patron and guarantor, and he was piqued at his name appearing after that of the Emperor Francis![232] For the present arrangement the First Consul was chiefly to blame; but the Czar vented his displeasure on England. On April 28th, 1802, our envoy at Paris, Mr. Merry, reported as follows:

"Either the Russian Government itself, or Count Markoff alone personally, is so completely out of humour with us for not having acted in strict concert with them, or him, or in conformity to their ideas in negotiating the definitive treaty (of Amiens), that I find he takes pains to turn it into ridicule, and particularly to represent the arrangement we have made for Malta as impracticable and consequently as completely null."


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