Slike strani

theinselves reciprocally with these materials, such as stones, fafcines, wooden piles, &c. at a reasonable price. The principle of the two nations enjoying equally the right of navigation upon the Rhine, accords entirely with the ift and 16th articles of the note of the deputation of the 3d of March ; but no explanation is given respecting the will there manifested, that by a common arrangement with the Batavian republic, the free navigation of the Rhine be ensured to the mouth of the river, and that on the other hand the reservation should be proposed, that no other nations fhould participate in it but with the consent of the two parties, and on conditions conjointly agreed upon. There were only, as is known, the Swiss 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 proposition to abolith the right of toll appears in truth to lead to the advantage of trade: but it is also to be feared, that by this fuppression the keeping up of the course 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 should be effected, it would be proper that it should extend also to the Batavian republic, and that, to tavour the freedom of commerce, the staple rigtits and the watermen's duty shouid also be suppressed.

With respect to the subsequent proposition in the French note; that merchandise only fhould be subject to the custom duties establithed in the countries and receivable at the moment of landing, without the duties established on one bank being greater than those which shall be established on the other; it would be evidently advantageous that the two nations should agree upon certain princi. ples respecting the duties to be received upon merchandise : but, according to the proposition of the French ministers, thefe duties could not absolutely be the same upon the two banks. In fact, in order that this equaliły may operate, it would be necessary to establish a common and uniform tarif for all the states, large and fmall, which are situated upon the Rhine. Besides, the principal object of this species of import is not to produce a revenue to the fovereign, and consequently to return money to the treasury, but to defray, in the first instance, the expense to which the states must be pui, under the cominercial relation, for roads, towing-ways, bridges, and the pay of the persons employed, and afterwards to procure the means of directing the trade for the advantage of the inhabitants, the prosperity of their manufactures, and the encousagement of industry. A state attains this object by customs, by diminihing the duties of importation upon certain merchandise, and by angmenting them upon others, from the necessity there may be for them according as they are abundant or scarce, raw or manufactured, &c. But if these custom duties are all at once to


be so exactly the same upon both banks, that they cannot be changed without the consent of the two parties, such an arrangement could not so easily be effected without the most minute examination of the details, confidering the difference of the great and small fates - which are situated upon the right bank of the Rhine, and whose interests, wants, and views are so various. Nothing is more evident than that it is the interest of each state to make alterations in this particular, according as its individual position and wants require; to prohibit frequently the importation of articles upon which bounties are allowed in a neighbouring state. The establishment upon the right bank of the Rhine of an uniform tarif, which should be the same as that upon the left bank, would then experience, in all respects, well-founded difficulties. From all these observations, 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 rela, tions of Germany, one may see how much those objects would sequire important considerations connected with locality, and having a marked connexion with the progress of cominercehow difficult it would be to change those establishments which have existed for ages, and which had the greatest influence upon the trade and prosperity of the two banks of the Rhine in a very great extent; finally, how little pollible it would be, without a previous and deep examination of all these considerations, to make an arrangement equally advantageous for the two nations upon objects so complicated. But as this fcrupulous examination ought not to check the principal work of pacification, the deputation of the Empire think they onght to propose, that all the points which concern the navigation of the Rhine, the towing-ways, the keeping up of the river, the tolls and customs, and the trade in general, mould be deferred till the conclusion of a treaty of comberce and navigation, and that until then every thing should re. main in fatu quo. With respect to the desire manifested by the French 'ministers, that the navigation should 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 ministers of the French republic next make an absolutely new demand, that is, that amongst the pofTeffions of the states on the left bank, which ought to be replaced on the right bank, should be comprised those which belong to the immediate equestrian order. One does not see by what reasons the property and appurtenances of the equestrian order should be considered otherwise than as private property, whose inviolability has been assured in the note of the 19th Germinal (8th April). This overture re. lative to the equestrian 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 possibility of a fimilar arrangement, is an obje&t so much the more important, as its admission would involve in it the greatest difficulties, and as any indemnification whatever upon the right bank of the Rhine would exhaust the mass of indemnities, and consequently in a great measure produce a failure in the object of the indemnities.

Thefe immediate nobles are not states of the Empire ; they en. joy no right of fuffrage in the general diets or the diets of the cir. cle; they have consequently no more share in war and peace than the other subjects of the Empire. They differ from the mediate nobility and the other subjects of the Einpire, inasmuch as they are (without intermediate persons) under the Emperor and Empire, and are not subjected to the sovereignty 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 possessions 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 poffefsions of the equestrian order of those two cantons are isolated and scattered over the territories of the states of the Em. pire ; they consist wholly, either of one house in a town, or in a village, and frequently of fields only, dispersed 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 some possessions, and who have thereby a right to fit in the assembly of counts of the Empire, belong also, with their effects, to those cantons of the equestrian order : they are generally the families which potless the greatest number of places depending upon that order. With the exception of those places, the canton of the Upper Rhine scarcely reckons twenty villages which belong wholly to the no. bles : some belong in common to several nobles. There are also states of the Empire, chapters, convents, &c. which possess these dependencies upon the equestrian order; the latter, as well as all the possessors of the property of the equestrian order, pay their imposts to the canton. The immediate quality of a great nomber of these poffeflions is disputed by the states of the Empire in the countries in which they are situated--that quality then cannot be considered as important. But there, even where the equeftrian order possess whole places, and where their quality of immediate is recognised, the noble levies no tax upon his subjects, and the states of the Empire commonly exercise there the superior rights. The principal revenue of the members of the equestrian order consists for this reason in their private property, tithes, and other rents—the produce of the seignorial and feudal rights is in general very inconsiderable. These immediate


Tobles cannot therefore of consequence be considered but as fimple proprietors of private property; and as by the 12th title, article 335 of the French constitution, foreigners, even without being citizens, or established in the French republic, may possess property, and buy and dispose of their property, of course there ought to be applied to these immediate nobles respecting their property fituated upon the left bank of the Rhine, that which the French note of the 19th Germinal (April 8) ensures to them in these terms, that the preservation of the property of private persons could never have been the object of a serious doubt.

The French government will so inuch the less wish to wrest these private effects and appurtenances from their legitimate possessors, because by the public right of the Empire, such poffeflions can never be united to the domains of the nation to which the ceflion is made; and as by the French note of the 22d Pluviose (10th February) no pretension is advanced but to the domains of princes exerciling the sovereignty.

Respecting the debts which in the last French note are proposed 10 be transferred wholly from the countries on the left bank to' those of the right, it has been generally recognised, in all times, that the debts with which countries are burdened, which by a treaty of peace pass under another domination, ought to be transferred to the power acquiring those countries. This principle has in a late instance been followed in the treaty of Campo Formio. This propofition then does not accord with the rules of the right of nations and of justice, and in the known state of things is absolutely inadmillible. The deputation are consequently induced to expect that, after a sufficient examination of the principles of right, and the insurmountable difficulties that would oppose the execution of such a condition, the French ministers plenipotentiary will not infift upon this point.

There can be no question certainly of the debts which particular communes, bailiwicks, grand bailiwicks, and commonalties have contracted on their own account: those who have contracted thofe debts ought alone to pay them. The French government has it surely not in view to impose upon the inhabitants of other provinces the debts of a country which have been contracted solely for urgent wants, according to the forms, usages, and constitution of the country. It can only be understood here to relate to the cameral and domanial debts mortgaged ; but the strongest reasons may also be urged against the transfer of these debts to any objects of indemnity upon the right bank of the Rhine.

ist. Those debts, with respect to their origin and use, are so different in their nature, that it would be contrary to all justice to throw them indiftin&tly and without exception upon the debtors, or even to burden the countries on the right bank with UU 2


[ocr errors]

them, who are such strangers to them. We will cite for example the cameral debts, which the sovereign has contracted for the good of the country, and which consequently are real national debts, with which the new sovereigns ought to be charged,

2d. Should even the states of the Empire which have experienced losses, and which have debts, be indemnified by the domains of other countries, the latter are without doubt already burdened with debts, and have other expenses and charges to support.

3d. The creditors, who have the best-founded pretenfions to the pledges mortgaged, would thereby lose a great part of their fecurity.

4th. The subjects of the countries on the right bank would be molested by the creation, already not very easy, of new impolitions destined to extinguish foreign debts from which they would have deduced no advantage.

5th. By the transfer of the cameral debts to the domains upon the right bank, the objects of indemnity would be depreciated, which would consequently render their augmentation neceflary. The result would also be, that he who Thould be the most loaded with debts upon the left bank, would have a right to pretend to a proportional and greater mass of indemnities in territory and inhabitants.

6th. It is known that some German countries on the left bank of the Rhine, and precisely the most considerable, are not loaded with any passive debt: that the debts of some others are of small importance; so that the debts of the rest of these countries, though large enough, do not deserve in their total to be considered as an obje&t of great importance by the French republic. On the other hand, the countries situated on the right bank, which the republic restores to Germany, are fo ruined, that a century will scarcely fuffice to free them from their debts. Those countries are therefore so much the less able to support foreign debts.

Finally, the French ministers, in their last note, make mention of the renunciations which they desire to be made respecting that which thall be ceded by the Empire to France. As this obje&t is liable to no difficulty, and as the deputation has already in part accéded to it in their note of the 3d of March, they think they have so much the less reason to doubt that a similar renunciation will take place on the part of the French republic in favour of the Empire ; it is on this account they expect a formal adherence to the proposition contained in the third of the articles annexed to the note of the 3d of March. They must also renew the demand expressed in the article 15th, on the subject of the pretensions formed by the French republic, during the war, at the charge of feveral parricular states of the Empire ; so much the more, becaufe similar renunciations are usual at the conclusion of treaties of peace, and because it would beside be very afflicting, after such

« PrejšnjaNaprej »