Slike strani

limit, made ufe of the following expreffions: "The fafety of the republic requires the limit of the Rhine: the tranquillity of the Empire folicits in a still stronger manner thofe limits." They allerted, at the fame time, that this demand "rested upon a much more imperious motive, a motive common to the two powers, that of providing, by invariable limits, for their future tranquillity."

In the note of the 15th Pluviofe (13th February), the limit of the Rhine is called a juft bafis, fuitable and ufeful to the two States and in the note of the 2d Ventofe (20th February), a fuitable and neceffary basis, which guarantees the future tran quillity of the two ftates. The note of the French minifters of the 14th Ventofe (March 4) agrees upon this point with the preceding after having spoken of the Rhine as the bafis of peace, it is formally added-Convenience, juftice, neceffity, have demonstrated it in the preceding notes, the common interest of the two nations, &c. And when afterwards the deputation of the Empire, in their note of the 5th April (16th Germinal), had repeatedly demanded, that the French minifters fhould declare that they would make no ulterior demand upon the Empire, it was anfwered, under date of the 19th Germinal (April 8): "Upon the fecond propofal contained in the note of the 21ft Ventofe (March 11), the minifters plenipotentiary declare, that they have already explained themselves in a manner to fatisfy every reasonable mind, when they faid, that in the courfe of the ulterior difcuffions they would refufe nothing that fhould be juft, and fhould accord with the common intereft of the two nations:" which fuppofes alfo, that they would only make fuch demands as would be admillible.

From thefe declarations it could not be imagined that the propofition to establish the Rhine as a limit, could have any other object than that of rendering that limit invariable, of preventing thereby all the inconveniences to which frontiers not marked by nature are expofed (note of the fecond Ventofe, Feb. 20); to infure in a better manner tranquillity for the future, and to operate the common advantage of the two nations. The propofitions which have juft been made to the deputation are wholly oppofite to thefe views, which could alone have determined them to accede to the first basis of peace; the Rhine would thereby ceafe to form the limit; there would be, on the right fide of the river, feveral points of contact which would be eminently injurious to the maintenance of tranquillity. Finally, if they confider in the demands made the ceffion of the ftrong places, the proportion between France and Germany becomes ftill more unequal. The left bank of the Rhine, protected by the most important fortreffes, oppofes an impenetrable barrier to all hoftile attempts which might be made. The repofe and fafety of Germany, on the contrary, would be

continually expofed. Points fortified upon the right fide would make it fear a neighbour continually ready to attack it, would destroy its military integrity, and fetter its independence, upon the maintenance of which the French government thinks that it is conformable to its politics to fet a value: the more fo, as the demolition of fort Ehrenbreitftein is demanded, as well as the re-establishment of the bridge between the two Brifacs, with fifty acres of ground on the right fide, oppofite to the old bridge of Huninguen; yet the first of these bridges has been fuppreffed by two treaties of peace. With refpect to the deftruction of Ehrenbreitftein no equivalent is offered, and consequently this latter object cannot be confidered as a thing in which regard has been had to the common intereft of the two nations.

All the reasons that have been adduced are, without doubt, too evident for the French minifters plenipotentiary not to recognise the validity of them, and to unite with the deputation, in order that the Rhine may form in future the line of feparation between the two ftates, and that neither of the parties may extend their domination to the oppofite fhore. This principle being established, the deputation are entirely difpofed to agree upon the reservations, means, and precautions, by which the two contracting parties may remain tranquil relative to their respective fafety. This is, with out doubt, the most moderate propofition that a nation can make, which, after an unfortunate war, feeks in peace no other happiness than its future tranquillity. The deputation of the Empire, on their fide, are ready to liften to all other propofitions that may be looked upon as the natural effects of the establishment of the limit of the Rhine, and of the dominion in common of that river. The propofition of a towing-way being a difpofition refpectively useful, which can make no change with regard to property, jurifdiction, and fovereignty, will confequently experience no difficulty in the execution, according to the neceffity and poflibility of the cafe. The deputation confider as equally fuitable, and in conformity to the 18th article of the treaty of Ryfwick, and the 6th article of the treaty of Baden, the propofition refpecting the keeping up of the river and the affurance which follows it is fo much the more agreeable, as buildings upon the water on the left bank of the Rhine, would be injurious in different places to the countries on the right bank, whofe foil is lefs elevated. It is understood alfo for this reafon, that the private perfons in poffeffion of land fhall preferve the faculty of being able to form dykes, and make other difpofitions to prevent their property from being inundated, provided these works hurt not the courfe of the river nor the navigation. But as in feveral parts of the right bank ftones are entirely wanting, and other materials neceffary for water buildings, and as the left bank, on the contrary, poffeffes them in abundance, both parties thall be entitled to fupply themfelves

themselves reciprocally with thefe materials, fuch as ftones, faf cines, wooden piles, &c. at a reafonable price. The principle of the two nations enjoying equally the right of navigation upon the Rhine, accords entirely with the 1st and 16th articles of the note of the deputation of the 3d of March; but no explanation is given respecting the with there manifefted, that by a common arrangement with the Batavian republic, the free navigation of the Rhine be enfured to the mouth of the river, and that on the other hand the refervation fhould be propofed, that no other nations fhould participate in it but with the confent of the two parties, and on conditions conjointly agreed upon. There were only, as is known, the Swifs on the Upper Rhine, and the inhabitants of the Low Countries on the Lower Rhine, who were accustomed to navigate the Rhine with their boats. The ulterior propofition to abolish the right of toll appears in truth to lead to the advantage of trade: but it is alfo to be feared, that by this fuppreffion the keeping up of the courfe of the river for navigation, which is an expenfive article, might no longer take place as formerly. On the other hand, there exift many debts mortgaged upon the produce of thofe duties; yet if this abolition fhould be effected, it would be proper that it fhould extend alfo to the Batavian republic, and that, to favour the freedom of commerce, the staple rights and the watermen's duty fhould also be fuppreffed.

With respect to the fubfequent propofition in the French note, that merchandife only fhould be fubject to the custom duties eftablithed in the countries and receivable at the moment of landing, without the duties established on one bank being greater than thofe which fhall be established on the other; it would be evidently advantageous that the two nations fhould agree upon certain princi ples refpecting the duties to be received upon merchandise: but, according to the propofition of the French minifters, thefe duties could not abfolutely be the fame upon the two banks. In fact, in order that this equality may operate, it would be neceffary to eftablish a common and uniform tarif for all the states, large and fmall, which are fituated upon the Rhine. Befides, the principal object of this fpecies of import is not to produce a revenue to the fovereign, and confequently to return money to the treafury, but to defray, in the first instance, the expenfe to which the states must be put, under the commercial relation, for roads, towing-ways, bridges, and the pay of the perfons employed, and afterwards to procure the means of directing the trade for the advantage of the inhabitants, the profperity of their manufactures, and the encouragement of industry. A ftate attains this object by cuftoms, by diminishing the duties of importation upon certain merchandise, and by augmenting them upon others, from the neceffity there may be for them according as they are abundant or fcarce, raw or manufactured, &c. But if thefe custom duties are all at once to


be fo exactly the fame upon both banks, that they cannot be changed without the confent of the two parties, fuch an arrangement could not fo easily be effected without the moft minute examination of the details, confidering the difference of the great and small flates which are fituated upon the right bank of the Rhine, and whose interests, wants, and views are fo various. Nothing is more evident than that it is the interest of each state to make alterations in this particular, according as its individual pofition and wants require; to prohibit frequently the importation of ar ticles upon which bounties are allowed in a neighbouring state. The establishment upon the right bank of the Rhine of an uniform tarif, which fhould be the fame as that upon the left bank, would then experience, in all refpects, well-founded difficulties. From all thefe obfervations, as well as from those upon the navigation of the Rhine, the towing-roads, the keeping up of the river, and the tolls, which are all founded in the different relations of Germany, one may fee how much thofe objects would require important confiderations connected with locality, and having a marked connexion with the progrefs of commerce→→ how difficult it would be to change those establishments which have existed for ages, and which had the greatest influence upon the trade and profperity of the two banks of the Rhine in a very great extent; finally, how little poffible it would be, without á previous and deep examination of all these confiderations, to make an arrangement equally advantageous for the two nations upon objects fo complicated. But as this fcrupulous examination ought not to check the principal work of pacification, the deputation of the Empire think they ought to propofe, that all the points which concern the navigation of the Rhine, the towing-ways, the keeping up of the river, the tolls and cuftoms, and the trade in general, fhould be deferred till the conclufion of a treaty of commerce and navigation, and that until then every thing thould remain in ftatu quo. With refpect to the defire manifefted by the French minifters, that the navigation fhould be free upon all the rivers which flow into the Rhine, as well as upon the great rivers of Germany, that object is not within the competence of the deputation.

The minifters of the French republic next make an abfolutely new demand, that is, that amongst the poffeffions of the states on the left bank, which ought to be replaced on the right bank, fhould be comprised thofe which belong to the immediate equef trian order. One does not fee by what reafons the property and appurtenances of the equeftrian order fhould be confidered otherwife than as private property, whofe inviolability has been affured in the note of the 19th Germinal (8th April). This overture relative to the equeftrian order can only be founded upon an error in the manner of judging of the relations of that order with the VOL. VII. U u Empire.

Empire. The opinion formed in it of the poffibility of a fimilar arrangement, is an object fo much the more important, as its admiffion would involve in it the greateft difficulties, and as any indemnification whatever upon the right bank of the Rhine would exhaust the mafs of indemnities, and confequently in a great meafure produce a failure in the object of the indemnities.

Thefe immediate nobles are not ftates of the Empire; they enjoy no right of fuffrage in the general diets or the diets of the circle; they have confequently no more share in war and peace than the other fubjects of the Empire. They differ from the mediate nobility and the other fubjects of the Empire, inafmuch as they are (without intermediate perfons) under the Emperor and Empire, and are not fubjected to the fovereignty of any state of the Empire. Their rights of property accord entirely with the French laws. The immediate nobility form two cantons-that of the Upper Rhine and that of the Lower: they have all their poffeffions upon the left bank. The canton of the Upper Rhine is bounded by the Rhein, the Queich, and the Nahe; that of the Lower Rhine extends from the Nahe to the Lower Rhine.

The poffeffions of the equeftrian order of thofe two cantons are isolated and scattered over the territories of the ftates of the Empire; they confift wholly, either of one house in a town, or in a village, and frequently of fields only, difperfed amidst other land; of tithes and other dues of that kind: very few places are wholly the property of that order. Several families of counts who pay dues to the Empire and to the Circle for fome poffeffions, and who have thereby a right to fit in the affembly of counts of the Empire, belong alfo, with their effects, to thofe cantons of the equeftrian order: they are generally the families which poffefs the greatest number of places depending upon that order. With the exception of thofe places, the canton of the Upper Rhine fcarcely reckons twenty villages which belong wholly to the nobles: fome belong in common to several nobles. There are also ftates of the Empire, chapters, convents, &c. which poffefs thefe dependencies upon the equeftrian order; the latter, as well as all the poffeffors of the property of the equeftrian order, pay their impofts to the canton. The immediate quality of a great number of thefe poffeffions is difputed by the ftates of the Empire in the countries in which they are fituated-that quality then can. not be confidered as important. But there, even where the equeftrian order poffefs whole places, and where their quality of immediate is recognised, the noble levies no tax upon his fubjects, and the ftates of the Empire commonly exercife there the fuperior rights. The principal revenue of the members of the equeftrian order confifts for this reafon in their private property, tithes, and other rents-the produce of the feignorial and feudal rights is in general very inconfiderable. Thefe immediate


« PrejšnjaNaprej »