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Alliance was based, it had been signed by all the sovereigns of Europe except the Prince Regent of Great Britain, the Pope, and the Sultan. It represented, that is to say, a revival by the Emperor Alexander of that idea of a Universal Union " or Confederation of Europe" which he had propounded to Pitt in 1804. It is clear, as we shall see when we come to deal with the debates at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, that this is what Alexander had in his mind, and also that he believed that, in securing their signatures to the act of the Holy Alliance, he had committed the sovereigns to the principle of an allembracing international system.
Pitt, as we have seen, had been willing to assist in establishing at the restoration of peace a convention and guarantee for the mutual protection and security of the different Powers, and a general system of public law in Europe; and Castlereagh had proposed such a system of mutual guarantee at Vienna. But both Pitt and Castlereagh had in their minds a very definite idea of the object and scope of the concert, which was to be directed solely to guaranteeing rights defined by treaty. But as for a union with vague and indefinite ends, Castlereagh from the first realized the danger involved in any interference of such a body, in the supposed general interests of Europe, with the liberties of the nations. He was a firm supporter of the Grand Alliance, with its clearly defined aims; from first to last he set his face against the vague and dangerous underlying principles of the Holy Alliance."
This divergence of view between British statesmen and Alexander made necessary the negotiation of a new alliance, and so on November 20, 1815, a treaty was negotiated which again renewed the treaty of Chaumont. It was with some difficulty that Castlereagh secured the elimination from this new treaty of obligations of guaranty and in lieu thereof there was inserted an Article 6 by which the high contracting parties
agreed to renew at fixed intervals, either under their own auspices or by their representative ministers, meetings consecrated to great common objects and the examination of such measures as at each one of these epochs shall be judged most salutary for the peace and prosperity of the nations and for the maintenance of the peace in Europe.
CONFERENCE AT AIX-LA-CHAPELLE
The earliest fruition of this treaty provision was found in the conference of Aix-la-Chapelle which held its first session on September 30, 1818.
The intervening three years since the alliance of November 20, 1815, had given rise to considerable misgiving. The occupation by the allied troops of France had not worked well. Ferdinand VII of Spain had shown himself to be most reactionary as had also Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia and the Elector of Hesse. The German states had also given cause for anxiety. All this had had its effect upon Alexander "whose Jacobinism, though by no means extinct, was already fading."
45 Ibid., pp. 150-152.
46 Ibid., p. 155.
He now "declared roundly that nine-tenths of the French people were corrupted by bad principles and violent party sentiments and that the rest were incapable of working a Constitution." 47
Having been charged with an intention to bring about a breach with the Alliance, Alexander on September 29, 1818, the day before the first session of the conference, is reported to have said to Metternich:
It will suffice to explain my principles, in order to dispense with the necessity of replying in detail to false reports which have gained only too much currency.. I seek the welfare of the world in peace, and I cannot find peace except in the attitude we have adopted during the last five years, and in the maintenance of this attitude. I should regard as a felon whichever one of us should think fit to establish a tie foreign to that which unites us, and as a crime any change, whatever it may be, in our relations. I will admit that proposals for
an alliance have been addressed to me. I will leave it to you yourself to dictate the reply which I made to such proposals. You know that I am scrupulous in everything. I am equally so in politics. My conscience will always prevent my committing voluntary errors. My army, as well as myself, is at the disposal of Europe.18
It was this last sentence which contained the germ of the motive and purpose which seemed to animate Alexander during the next
Concerning Alexander's views so expressed, Castlereagh said:
It is impossible to doubt the Emperor's sincerity in his views, which he dilates upon with a religious rhapsody. Either he is sincere, or hypocrisy certainly assumes a more abominable garb than she ever yet was clothed in.19
Later, Castlereagh reported that the Emperor and his minister, Capo d'Istria
were, in conversation, disposed to push their ideas very far indeed, in the sense of all the Powers of Europe being bound together in a common league, guaranteeing to each other the existing order of things, in thrones as well as in territories, all being bound to march, if requisite, against the first Power that offended, either by her ambition or by her revolutionary transgressions.50
The position of the British representative, Castlereagh, was one of unalterable opposition to this
international police of which the undiminished armies of Russia would form the most powerful element.
Castlereagh declared that the plan
was opening up to such a Power as Russia
an almost ir
resistible claim to march through the territories of all the Confederate States to the most distant points of Europe to fulfil her guarantee."1
The position of Great Britain was officially set forth in a memorandum submitted by Castlereagh in reply to a memorandum from the Russian cabinet. This memorandum as glossed by Phillips, after commenting upon the Holy Alliance as "constituting the European system in the matter of political conscience" and after pointing out that diplomatic obligations were to be sought in treaties which were divided into two classes, then proceeded:
The problem of a Universal Alliance for the peace and happiness of the world has always been one of speculation and hope, but it has never yet been reduced to practice, and if an opinion may be hazarded from its difficulty, it never can. But you may in practice approach towards it, and perhaps the design has never been so far realized as in the last four years. During that eventful period the Quadruple Alliance, formed upon principles altogether limited, has had, from the presence of the sovereigns and the unparalleled unity of design with which the cabinets have acted, the power of travelling so far out of the sphere of their immediate and primitive obligations, without at the same time transgressing any of the laws of nations or failing in the delicacy which they owe to the rights of other states, as to form more extended allito interpose their good offices for the settlement of differences between other states, to take the initiative in watching over the peace of Europe, and finally in securing the execution of its treaties.
The idea of an Alliance Solidaire, by which each state shall be bound to support the state of succession, government, and possession within all other states from violence and attack, upon condition of receiving for itself a similar guarantee, must be understood as morally implying the previous establishment of such a system of general government as may secure and enforce upon all kings and nations an internal system of peace and justice. Till the mode of constructing such a system shall be devised, the consequence is inadmissible, as nothing would be more immoral or more prejudicial to the character of government generally, than the idea that their force was collectively to be prostituted to the support of established power, without any consideration of the extent to which it was abused. Till a system of administering Europe by a general alliance of all its states can be reduced to some practical form, all notions of a general and unqualified guarantee must be abandoned, and the states must be left to rely for their security upon the justice and wisdom of their respective systems and the aid of other states according to the law of nations.52
The result of the conference was that two instruments were signed on November 15, 1818. One was a secret protocol renewing against France the Quadruple Alliance of Austria, Great Britain, Prussia and Russia, which was communicated in confidence to the French representative, Richelieu. The second was a declaration reading as follows:
The Convention of October 9, 1818, which definitively regulated the execution of the engagements agreed to in the Treaty of Peace of November 20, 1815, is considered by the sovereigns who concurred therein as the accomplishment
52 Ibid., pp. 181–183.
of the work of peace, and as the completion of the political system destined to secure its solidity.
The intimate union established among the monarchs, who are joint-parties to this system, by their own principles, no less than by the interests of their people, offers to Europe the most sacred pledge of its future tranquillity.
The object of the union is as simple as it is great and salutary. It does not tend to any new political combination-to any change in the relations sanctioned by existing treaties; calm and consistent in its proceedings, it has no other object than the maintenance of peace, and the guarantee of those transactions on which the peace was founded and consolidated.
The sovereigns, in forming this august union, have regarded as its fundamental basis their invariable resolution never to depart, either among themselves or in their relations with other states, from the strictest observation of the principles of the right of nations: principles, which, in their application to a state of permanent peace, can alone effectually guarantee the independence of each Government, and the stability of the general association.
Faithful to these principles, the sovereigns will maintain them equally in those meetings at which they may be personally present, or in those which shall take place among their ministers; whether they be for the purpose of discussing in common their own interests, or whether they shall relate to questions in which other Governments shall formally claim their interference. The same spirit which will direct their councils and reign in their diplomatic communications will preside also at these meetings; and the repose of the world will be constantly their motive and their end.
It is with these sentiments that the sovereigns have consummated the work to which they were called. They will not cease to labour for its confirmation and perfection. They solemnly acknowledge that their duties towards God and the people whom they govern make it peremptory on them to give to the world, as far as it is in their power, an example of justice, of concord, and of moderation; happy in the power of consecrating, from henceforth, all their efforts to protect the arts of peace, to increase the internal prosperity of their states, and to awaken those sentiments of religion and morality whose influence has been but too much enfeebled by the misfortunes of the times.
The conference and Spanish American colonies
It had been planned to discuss at the conference (1) the effective suspension of the slave trade; (2) the suppression of the Barbary pirates; (3) the refusal of the King of Sweden to carry out the provisions of the treaty of Kiel; and (4) a proposed mediation between Spain and her revolted American colonies. With reference to the action in the congress on this last point the following summary by Phillips is the best that has been found:
That the subject of the Spanish colonies was brought up at the Aix-laChapelle was largely due to the urgency of France. In July 1817 Richelieu had spoken strongly to Wellington of the condition of South America, which, he said, was "becoming daily more and more an object of attention and of hope to the disaffected in France and to the Jacobins throughout the world." He was not, at this time, in favour of submitting the question to a conference, "with its inevitable conflict of opinions," but thought that the initiative should
53 Phillips, The Confederation of Europe, pp. 187–188.
be taken by Great Britain backed by the Powers. This plan appealed to Castlereagh as likely to counter Russian intrigues and to force Alexander to "urge Liberal principles upon the Spanish Government,” but, as we have seen, it broke down on the stubborn obstinacy of Spain. A year later, on the eve of the Conference, the French Government urged that Ferdinand VII should be invited to Aix-la-Chapelle, not with a view to the restoration of his authority in Latin America by arms or mediation-which was now considered impracticable-but to press upon him the policy of establishing one or more of his family as independent sovereigns in the revolted provinces, Richelieu suggesting that a beginning should be made by setting up a Bourbon king of Buenos Aires. On August 24th the Spanish chargé d'affaires approached Alexander on this subject, on which the Emperor said he would consult his allies. The idea broke down owing to the opposition of Castlereagh, who gave as the ostensible reason of his disagreement his unwillingness to break the existing agreement "by receiving one Power to the exclusion of others," or to turn the meeting into a congress, which the Allies had determined to be inexpedient.
This decided the fate of the proposed mediation, the discussion of which began at Aix-la-Chapelle on October 23rd, and was concluded, so far as formal proceedings were concerned, on November 2nd. The outcome of these debates was that force was not to be used; that the same treatment should be meted out to the revolted as to the loyal colonies; and that mediation should be offered either by a board or by one delegate, the Duke of Wellington being suggested. The whole question of mediation, however, was ultimately shelved, owing to the proud refusal of Spain to accept the results of a Conference from which she was excluded.
Before the Conference broke up, however, the debates took a new turn, which is of very great interest in the light of subsequent events leading up to the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine. This was no less than a proposal advanced by France and Russia to invite the United States to take part in a Conference of Ministers to be held at Madrid on the subject of the relation between Spain and her colonies. It was initiated by Richelieu in a memorandum on "the perils of the New World” which, in view of what has happened since and is occurring still, is certainly a remarkable document. In isolation, he argued, the United States would not constitute a danger; but it would be different were the Latin American states to imitate their institutions. "A complete republican world, young, full of ardour, rich in the products of all climates and with soil of incomparable fertility, establishing itself in the presence of a Europe grown old, everywhere ruled by monarchs, overcrowded with inhabitants, shaken by thirty years of revolutionary shocks, and scarce as yet re-established on its ancient foundations, would certainly present a spectacle worthy of the most serious reflections and a very real danger." The United States should be invited to co-operate with the Allies, partly to gain time, partly "in order to attach the United States to the general system of Europe and to prevent a spirit of rivalry and hatred establishing itself between the Old and the New World."
In a memorandum on the French and Russian notes Wellington pointed out that it was extremely doubtful whether Spain would accept the mediation of the five Powers in this form either, and that without such acceptance it was useless to approach the United States. After all, he argued, the questions at issue between Spain and her colonies were of the nature of domestic politics. The United States were doubtless, like the rest of the world, interested in the settlement of these questions, and their Government had a right to demand that nothing should be done that might be specially obnoxious