« AnteriorContinuar »
India prepared or discussed in the time of Napoleon were inspired not by Paul the First and Alexander the First, but by the great Corsican, that Alexander desired to acquire Constantinople chiefly owing to Napoleon's incitement, that the joint Franco-Russian expedition against India was sheer 'and deliberate humbug to frighten the English. In the words of the great historian Vandal, the author of the best book on Napoleon and Alexander the First:
The idea of partitioning Turkey was rather a Napoleonic than a Russian idea. Napoleon rather intended to make a demonstration than an attack. He thought that if the French troops crossed the Bosphorus, Asia would be trembling, and England's position be shaken to its very foundations; that in view of the menace she would be willing to make peace with France. The documents given clearly establish that Napoleon neither intended to give Constantinople to Russia, nor to attack England in India, that on the contrary he wanted Constantinople for France, and that he attached greater value to Egypt than to Constantinople. In his instructions to Caulaincourt, Napoleon confessed that his plans could be carried out only if he ruled the sea, that a premature movement on Constantinople would result in England occupying Egypt, the most valuable part of the Turkish empire. Napoleon might conceivably have given to Russia Constantinople for a time, but he would have done so only with the object of involving Russia in trouble with England. According to Villemain, he said : "J'ai voulu refouler amicalement la Russie en Asie ; je lui ai offert Constantinople.' Commenting on these words, Vandal tells us that, in dangling the bait of Constantinople before Russia, Napoleon merely aimed at involving that country in a life-and-death struggle with England.
Rather by his threats of attacking India in company with Russia overland than by any actual attempt at carrying out that mad adventure, did Napoleon create profound suspicion against Russia among the English, and that suspicion has been the cause of a century of AngloRussian suspicion, friction, and misunderstandings. At the Congress of Vienna, Lord Castlereagh opposed Russia's acquisition of Poland, fearing that that country might become dangerously strong. Replying to the expressions of the British representative's fears, Alexander sent Lord Castlereagh, on November 21, 1814, a most remarkable memorandum—the clumsy translation is that given in the British Blue Book-in which we read :
Justice established, as an immutable rule for all the transactions between the coalesced States, that the advantages which each of them should be summoned to reap from the triumph of the common cause should be in proportion to the perseverance of their efforts and to the magnitude of the sacrifices.
The necessity for a political balance in its turn prescribed that there should be given to each State a degree of consistency and of political Conventions in the means which each of them should possess in itself to cause them to be respected.
By invariably acting in accordance with the two principles which have been just stated the Emperor resolved to enter upon the war, to support it alone at its commencement, and to carry it on by means of a coalition up to the single point at which the general pacification of Europe might be based on the solid and immovable foundations of the independence of States and of the sacred rights of nations. The barrier of the Oder once overstepped, Russia fought only for her Allies : in order to increase the power of Prussia and of Austria, to deliver Germany, to save France from the frenzy of a despotism of which she alone bore the entire weight after her reverses.
If the Emperor had based his policy upon combinations of a private and exclusive interest when the army of Napoleon, collected together, so to speak, at the expense of Europe, had found its grave in Russia, His Majesty could have made peace with France; and without exposing himself to the chances of a war the issue of which was so much the more uncertain as it depended on the determination of other Cabinets, without imposing fresh sacrifices on his people, might have contented himself, on the one hand, with the security acquired for his Empire ; and, on the other hand, have acquiesced in the conditions which Bonaparte, instructed by a sad experience, would have been eager to propose to him. But the Emperor, in the magnanimous enterprise to which he had applied himself, availed himself of the generous enthusiasm of his people to second the desires of all the nations of Europe. He fought with disinterested views for a cause with which the destinies of the human race were connected. Faithful to his principles, His Majesty has constantly laboured to favour the interests of the Powers which had rallied round the common cause, placing his own interests only in the second rank. He has lavished his resources in order to render their united efforts prosperous under the firm conviction that his Allies, far from finding in a conduct so pure grounds for complaint, would be grateful to him for having made all private consideration subordinate to the success of an enterprise which had the general good for its object.
The Czar spoke truly. He had fought in 1813 and 1814 against Napoleon for purely ideal reasons. After Napoleon's disastrous defeat in Russia in 1812 Russia herself was secure against another attack from France. Had she followed a purely selfish policy, she would have left the Western Powers to their fate. While they were weakened in their struggle against Napoleon the powerful Russian army might have secured the most far-reaching advantages to the country, and it might certainly have taken Constantinople. In 1813 Alexander obviously joined in the war against Napoleon actuated by the wish of giving at last a durable peace to Europe. How strongly the Czar was inspired by ideal and religious motives may be seen from the Holy Alliance Treaty which he drew up in his own handwriting, and which established that henceforth all rulers should be guided in their policy solely by th: dictates of the Christian religion. That little-known document was worded as follows:
In the name of the Most Holy and Indivisible Trinity.
Their Majesties the Emperor of Austria, the King of Prussia, and the Emperor of Russia having in consequence of the great events which have marked the course of the three last years in Europe, and especially of the blessings which it has pleased Divine Providence to shower down upon those States which place their confidence and their hope in it alone, acquired the intimate conviction of the necessity of settling the steps to be observed by the Powers in their reciprocal relations upon the sublime truths which the Holy Religion of our Saviour teaches :
They solemnly declare that the present Act has no other object than to publish, in the face of the whole world, their fixed resolution, both in the administration of their respective States and in their political relations with every other Government, to take for their sole guide the precepts of that Holy Religion, namely, the precepts of Justice, Christian Charity, and Peace, which, far from being applicable only to private concerns, must have an immediate influence on the councils of princes, and guide all their steps as being the only means of consolidating human institutions and remedying their imperfections. In consequence their Majesties have agreed to the following Articles :
Article 1. Conformably to the words of the Holy Scriptures, which command all men to consider each other as brethren, the Three Contracting Monarchs will remain united by the bonds of a true and indissoluble fraternity, and considering each other as fellow-countrymen they will, on all occasions and in all places, lend each other aid and assistance and, regarding themselves towards their subjects and armies as fathers of families, they will lead them, in the same spirit of fraternity with which they are animated, to protect Religion, Peace, and Justice.
Article 2. In consequence the sole principle of force, whether between the said Governments or between their Subjects, shall be that of doing each other reciprocal service,
and of testifying by unalterable goodwill the mutual affection with which they ought to be animated, to consider themselves all as members of one and the same Christian nation : the three allied Princes looking on themselves as merely delegated by Providence to govern three branches of the one family, namely, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, thus confessing that the Christian world, of which they and their people form a part, has in reality no other Sovereign than Him to whom alone power really belongs, because in Him alone are found all the treasures of love, science, and infinite wisdom, that is to say, God, our Divine Saviour, the Word of the Most High, the Word of Life. Their Majesties consequently recommend to their people, with the most tender solicitude, as the sole means of enjoying that Peace which arises from a good conscience, and which alone is durable, to strengthen themselves every day more and more in the principles and exercise of the duties which the Divine Saviour has taught to mankind.
Article 3. All the Powers who shall choose solemnly to avow the sacred principles which have dictated the present Act, and shall acknowledge how important it is for the happiness of nations, too long agitated, that these truths should henceforth exercise over the destinies of mankind all the influence which belongs to them, will be received with equal ardour and affection into this Holy Alliance.
After the Peace of Vienna an era of reaction began, and the hostility shown by the Governments to the people was attributed not to Prince Metternich, who was chiefly responsible for it, but to the Czar and to the Holy Alliance, which was considered to be an instrument of oppression. However, the fact that the Holy Alliance was a purely ideal compact is attested by Prince Metternich himself in his Memoirs. After describing its genesis, Metternich wrote:
Voilà l'histoire de la Sainte Alliance, qui même dans l'esprit prévenu de son auteur, ne devait être qu'une manifestation morale, tandis qu'aux yeux des autres signataires de l'acte elle n'avait pas même cette signification ; par conséquent elle ne mérite aucune des interprétations que