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Answer of the French Minifier to the Note of the Pruffian Minifier, of the Date of the 8th of October, relative to the Boundary on the Lower Rhine, and the Ifle of Buderich.
THE underfigned minifters of the French republic have received the notes of the Pruffian plenipotentiary of the date of the 18th Vendemiaire (Oct. 9). They had tranfmitted with the utmoft difpatch to their government the note received from the Pruffian legation, on the ift Meffidor, relative to the fame object. They communicated the verbal anfwer they received, ftating, that the French government found it impoffible to accede to the with of his Pruffian Majefty: the underfigned cannot, therefore, undertake to tranfmit to the Directory demands, relative to which it has expreffed itfelf fo explicitly in the negative; wherefore they muft confider this object as determined. His Pruflian Majefty and the minifters plenipotentiary are too juft to find any thing in the application of an acknowledged principle, to which the republic has made fo great facrifices, that can weaken the good understanding or friendly relations, the maintenance of which between the two ftates the Directory has fo much at heart. The minifters plenipotentiary of the French republic exprefs with pleafure their high confideration for the minifter plenipotentiary of his Pruffian Majefty.
Rafladt, the 22d Vendemiaire (Oct. 13).
Reply of the Pruffian Legation to the Note of the French Ministers of the 13th October.
THE underfigned minifters plenipotentiary of his Pruffian Majefty have received, the 13th of this month (22d Vendemiaire), the note which the citizens minifters plenipotentiary of the French republic addreffed to them in reply to that of the 8th of this month.
The contents of that reply have obliged the underfigned to the following explanations. The citizens minifters there affure them, that they have not failed to make known to the members of the King's legation, the verbal reply they had received upon the object of the note of the Pruffian miffion of the 1ft Meffidor (19th June), and the impoflibility in which the French government were placed to accede to the with of Pruffia.
The underfigned know nothing of a verbal reply which might have been given them by the citizens minifters plenipotentiary of the French republic, upon the above-mentioned note of the Pruf
fian legation. They could not fuppofe that the infinuations, made to fome of their members occafionally, and by way of converfation from individual to individual, could be wifhed to be confidered as fuch. This mode of explanation has been formally declared by the French legation as not being to be regarded as official, the French legation being indivifible.
But in cafe even that a verbal reply fhould have been given to the undersigned, refpecting their note of the 19th of June, they could not regard as peremptory the conclufions drawn by the citi zens minifters plenipotentiary of the republic.
They make known in their note of the 13th of October (22d Vendemiaire), that they cannot take upon them to reproduce to the Directory demands upon which they have declared themselves in a negative manner, and in a way to make them confider the object in question as terminated.
The franknefs with which the undersigned have made it a rule to open themselves upon every occafion to the minifters plenipotentiary of a power friendly to the King their master, shall still in this note be the guide of their conduct. Faithful to this principle, they will not diffemble to the minifters plenipotentiary of the republic, that they could not but be much furprised to find, in the paffage before cited, expreffions which appear to them to contain a formal refusal to convey to the Directory their note of the 8th of this month, a note, whofe object is not only the article stated in an anterior note of the 19th of June, but which, befides, includes other important objects, to which the King and the Empire attach a sufficiently confiderable intereft; a note, in short, which contains reiterated moft amicable affurances of his Majefty towards the French republic.
The undersigned are inclined to believe, that in any cafe the citizens ministers of the republic to the congrefs will not refuse to convey to the knowledge of their conftituents the demands. which fhall be addreffed to them on the part of the undersigned, who negotiate in the name of the King their master.
They obferve befides, that fhould even their demands appear to the legation of the republic to be objects terminated, that judgment cannot be looked upon by the underfigned as without appeal. In the courfe of all negotiations, cafes prefent themselves, in which, on one fide or the other, ulterior difcuffions are judged inadmiffible. It happens, however, that, after reiterated reprefentations, important modifications, and fometimes abfolute renunciations, are admitted.
. The undersigned will not renounce the hope that the Executive Directory of the republic will find in their juftice ulterior expla nations upon the object of the note of the 19th of June, worthy of all their attention.
They add to this a topographical draught upon the object of the true course of the Rhine, with an explanatory note, which will clearly make known the fole principles to be followed upon this occafion.
The ifle of Buderich forms another object of the note of the 8th inftant. It has not been treated of in writing by the underfigned, except in that fame note. In recognifing the justice of the application of the acknowledged principle, they cannot refolve nevertheless to abandon the hope of a complete deference on the part of the Directory to the wifh of the King and the whole German Empire, refpecting the object of this ifle. The deputation of the Empire have decided in a fimilar cafe to confent (as an exception to an acknowledged principle) to the ceffion of the fortified ifle of St. Pierre, notwithstanding the immenfe facrifices they had already made to the love of peace. Every thing thus concurs to induce a hope beforehand, that by a just return, and confidering above all that the isle of St. Pierre is infinitely of lefs importance to the existence of Mentz than the ifle of Buderich, with its canal, to the maintenance of the fortrefs, and to the prefervation of the inhabitants of the town of Wefel, the Directory will not hesitate to leave this latter ifle in the hands of the King and the Empire, to which befides there remains no fortress on the right bank for its defence, whilft the poffeffions of the republic on the left are defended by a triple chain of impregnable fortreffes. Under all these confiderations, the undersigned, with the greatest earnestnefs, renew their requests, that the minifters plenipotentiary of the republic will no longer hefitate once more to lay before the Directory all their demands, and to that end, that they will, without delay, prefent to the Directory their note of the 8th of this month, as well as the prefent one. They flatter themfelves, that the Directory, agreeing in that refpect with the principles adopted by his Pruffian Majefty on every negotiation, will never confent that the communications between the plenipotentiaries of Pruffia and thofe of the republic fhould be obftructed upon any point of refpective conferences, before they are definitively acknowledged by the two governments as terminated. The underfigned repeat their affurances of their high confideration for the citizens minifters plenipotentiary of the republic. (Signed)
Rafladt, Oct. 16, 1798.
Verbal Note of his Imperial Majefty to the Minifters Plenipotentiary of the French Republic.
THE negotiation for peace between the Empire and France is fo far advanced, its bafis is fo perfectly fatisfactory, the defire on
the part of the Empire is fo completely demonstrated by the inva luable facrifices it has made, that the obftacles which still oppofe its accomplishment are neither to be attributed to its difpofitions nor to its conduct.
In this ftate of affairs one cannot but be furprised to fee the Commandant General of the French troops on the Rhine continue the blockade of the fortrefs of Ehrenbreitstein, and the minifters plenipotentiary of the republic refuse an answer to the reiterated remonstrances which have been made to them relative to the fufpenfion of thofe menaces, which are not only contrary to the armistice, and the conventions which have followed it, but which are besides abfolutely useless, and without any object, except that indeed which cannot be fuppofed, that the French government has determined to alter the ftate of poffeffion in the midft of the negotiations, and that too after having received on the part of the Empire every proof imaginable of the good faith with which it has invariably directed them towards their conclufion.
If the republic refufes to evacuate the right bank of the Rhine, upon the principle of preferving its advantages until the figning of peace; if, even after having confented to them, it continues to keep poffeffion of the forts of Kehl and Caffel, the fame principle ought to preferve the fort of Ehrenbreitftein to the Empire until the fame period, and ought alfo to guarantee the execution of those conventions, made folely to preferve the poffeffion of it without interruption during the whole courfe of the negotiations.
The minifter plenipotentiary of his Majefty the Emperor would willingly perfuade himself that any other mode of proceeding cannot enter into the views of the French republic; and that it would be equally repugnant to the character of its minifters, charged on every occafion to give affurances of its loyalty and uprightness. In fact, nothing can more effectually tend to deftroy that confidence, without which the negotiations can never attain their object, peace be concluded, or, if attained, become perma
He therefore requires the minifters plenipotentiary of the French republic to explain themselves upon this fubject, and in fuch a manner as to answer to thofe proofs, as multiplied as evident, which the Empire has not ceafed to give of its franknefs and inconteftable defire to infpire confidence, and to obtain peace, even at the price of the greatest facrifices.
FRANÇOIS GEORGE CHARLES, Count de Metternich Winnebourg Beilstein.
Raftadt, Oct. 14, 1798.
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Abstract of a Converfation which took place between the Minifter Plenipotentiary of the Emperor and thofe of the French Republie, refpecting the Object of the Verbal Note.
AFTER having explained to the minifters plenipotentiary of the French republic the points contained in the verbal note which the Count de Metternich had just read, the minifter Bonnier addreffed himself, and obferved, that they, the minifters plenipotentiary of the French republic, expected, in the first place, the official anfwer of the deputation, according to the established cuftom. The Count de Metternich eafily perceived, that the minister Bonnier wifhed by this means to avoid a detailed difcuffion upon the principal object of the conference. He further thought that this anfwer of the minifter Bonnier tended to destroy the principle which gave the minifter plenipotentiary of the Emperor the power of concluding the negotiations with respect to thofe objects, the bafis of which had been confidered by the deputation, and fanctioned by him. It was important to establish this incontestable right in the minifter plenipotentiary, and not to have it fuppofed by the minifter of the republic that fuch a proceeding could be dictated by fecondary views. The Count de Metternich then obferved to the minifter Bonnier, that all he had had the honour of prefenting on this fubject was the refult of those principles and bafes which had been adopted, though they had not been fo detailed in the preceding notes; that furthermore, the minifter plenipotentiary of the Empire did not wish to dif guife the real ftate of affairs; and that he would not fail to inform the deputation of the refult of the conference, referving also to himself to tranfmit to the minifters plenipotentiary of the republic an official note in the courfe of the week. The minifter Bonnier replied, by obferving, that the demand of the Count de Metternich could only proceed from a conviction that the deputation had only to accelerate the conclufion of peace, and that then the object relative to Ehrenbreitftein would be accomplished. The Count de Metternich replied, that this obfervation was unanfwerable; but that his object for the moment was to establish the principle which declared that the ftatus quo, and the actual poffeffion, fhould not be altered; that France had cautiously ftipulated for the poffeffion of the forts of Kehl and Caffel, until the conclufion of peace; and therefore that the Germanic Empire could not renounce the fortrefs of Ehrenbreitftein as a fortress upon the principle of perfect reciprocity; that, befides, he did not argue for new ftipulations, but only proposed to carry into complete execution the convention concluded between the refpective generals at the armistice; and that the effect of fuch convention was, that there fhould be no obstacle to the restoration of Ehrenbreitstein; that the French government would act contrary to