Mr. Motley to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have had the honor to receive your despatches Nos. 193, 194, of July 2d, and No. 195 of 6th July.
Since my last of July 24th, the peace, which at that date seemed extremely probable, may be considered as assured.
The telegraph will have probably informed you, long before this despatch comes to hand, of the conclusion of a treaty and of all its details.
It is idle for me to attempt to convey news. It is indeed absolutely necessary for me to assume as facts much that, strictly speaking, belongs to the future, and is, therefore, comparatively uncertain, in order that what I write may not seem utterly antiquated before it is read. By so doing, however, I run the risk of inaccuracy in many details.
At this present moment an armistice exists between Austria and Prussia, to expire at the end of August. There is a “suspension of arms” between Austria and Italy on the 2d of August. An armistice for three weeks has just been signed between Prussia and Bavaria.
General Manteuffel has plenary powers to negotiate separately on the part of Prussia with Wurtemberg and with Baden; moreover a convention of peace preliminaries has already been signed and ratified between Austria and Prussia.
Such are the facts as they exist at this day; yet it is safe to consider the whole war in Europe as ended. Although the provisions of the preliminary convention have not been officially published, there is probably no mystery about them.[Page 680]
Prussia is actually sovereign of all Germany, save the kingdoms of Wurtemberg and Bavaria, the grand duchies of Baden and Hesse, and the hereditary dominions of Austria. Austria consents to her exclusion from Germany, but loses no territory save the kingdom of Lombardo-Venetia.
Italy gains what Austria loses, and no more. It does not seem probable that she will obtain the southern Tyrol.
The southwestern states will remain each in nominal and temporary independence. A southern confederacy (word of ominous sound) is improbable, and is certainly not desirable for those powers, or for Austria. Such an imitation of the Rhenish confederation of 1809 would seem to-day a very stale anachronism.
The details as to the various money payments will probably have been made public before this reaches you, and are of but temporary importance. If there be danger to the future peace of Europe growing out of these transactions, which it is to be sincerely hoped is not the case, that danger might be expected from France.
It is possible that the manner in which French policy has been somewhat baffled, and the influence of the Emperor on the continent to a certain extent superseded, may cause dissatisfaction and even resentment. The sudden cession of Venetia to France, immediately after the disaster of Koniggratz, did not entirely answer the purpose contemplated. The Austrian army of the south was but liberated in part for service against Prussia in the north, and France did not effectually interpose herself between Austria and either of her enemies.
The injury which Italy considered herself to have received in the cession, abortive as it proved, has probably excited animosity on her part against the French sovereign.
On the other hand, Austria may, perhaps, feel that the pledge of armed and therefore effective mediation, which she is stated to have received, was but a phrase signifying nothing.
There would seem to have been no very effective mediation; Prussia and Russia alone commanded the situation.
Prussia, victorious in the field, has essentially dictated her terms. Those terms embody the great political objects which for years she has steadily pursued. With the line of the river Main in her hand at last, she holds the great prize of her ambition. She has not swerved from her purpose, nor risked the loss of the immense advantages gained in her three weeks” campaign, in order to gratify an ignoble vanity, by dictating peace in Vienna, and an insolent hope to humiliate wantonly a brave but unfortunate rival.
It is entirely possible that the attempt to force the Danube might have ended in a Prussian disaster. The imperial army would certainly have done its best to make it one.
It would seem probable that this June campaign will have ultimately effected what it has been the steady object of the Napoleonic policy to prevent, the union of Italy and the union of Germany.
There will probably be no schemes in future for an Italian confederacy, with the Pope for president, while the Germanic confederation of monarchs is at last buried. It has long been dead.
We in America, who have learned by bitter experience, the difference between the words union and confederation, can well appreciate the strength to be gained by both Italy and Germany in the union which they seem on the verge of achieving.
I say strength. The future must decide whether out of that strength is to go forth the sweetness of political liberty. The most thoughtful patriots of Germany have usually felt, I believe, that a strong and united Germany would at last become a free Germany. If the result of all this boodshed was to be mere Cæsarism, and the appearance of one powerful military despotism the more, [Page 681] humanity would have gained but little by this brief but mighty conflict. I cannot believe in such a result.
What is called the balance of power in Europe has been suddenly changed. But powers must balance themselves at last by their intrinsic weight, and it is hardly possible for sovereigns or politicians to prevent material and intellectual growth, in various directions, however it may disturb an artificial equilibrium; nor can the laws of political accretion, gravitation, and sympathy be permanently resisted by diplomatic combinations.
The constitution of the North German Union is hardly yet a recognized political fact, but already there are indications of the attraction which that new and powerful body may exercise on the other members of the German system. It would not be a very wild prophecy to say that, ere many years are gone, the people of Baden, Wurtemberg, and even Bavaria, may be represented in the great German parliament, and the sovereigns of those states be in much the same position as that in which those of Hanover, Saxony, and the rest, already are. This will mainly depend on the future direction of Prussian policy. If it proves to be one of repressive and aggressive absolutism, a mere military despotism, its triumph will perhaps be short-lived, and popular revolutions, whether successful or not, may reveal that a national, and therefore democratic principle, however disguised or denied, lay at the bottom of the prodigious success just achieved by Prussia.
Austria, it is to be hoped, has gained in reality by what seemed her disaster. Never, in public or private, in the journals or in the debates of the Reichsrath was, so far as I know, the possibility of ceding Venetia admitted. To allude to the step was almost like treason, and the most conclusive reasons against it, political, historical, and topographical, were always ready.
Yet the step was taken in a moment, and time will show, I hope, that it was not a step off a precipice, but a safe movement in a progressive direction.
A fifty years’ captive, artificially chained, has been released and permitted to follow the law of more natural attachment.
An end has come, it may be hoped, to the struggles of centuries between the house of Austria and the government of France, whether under Valois, Bourbon, or Bonaparte, for the control of Italy; and Austria, having unlimited resources, a population of thirty-three millions, bound to her reigning house by historical traditions, feudal attachments, and legal sanctions, may enter, if she shapes her course in harmony with the spirit of the age, on a new career of prosperity and advancement.
It is feared by those inclined to despond that the German provinces of the empire will irresistibly gravitate to the northern union; that their populations, refusing to be excluded from Germany, will forget their loyalty to the empire.
There is danger, no doubt, from this source, and the heterogeneousness of the population of the empire, and the apparent mutual reluctance of the various races to amalgamation, have always constituted an embarrassment for the government.
Hitherto, with the exception of the four years from 1861 to 1865, during which the experiment of the Reichsrath was tried, the sole union has been found in absolutism.
The problem now to be solved, and pressing for solution, is how to satisfy the claims of Hungary, which has not abated a jot of her demands for absolute independence; and Hungarian parliament governments and those of the Germanic provinces, which certainly will not be more content with their present deprivation of representative government should Hungary achieve her objects, and North Germany realize the popular hope in the national parliament.
Meantime we have martial law in Vienna, (proclaimed on July 26,) and the journals are, therefore, doubtly cautions in expressing opinions on all political subjects.[Page 682]
The corporation of the city, in the person of the burgomaster, has ventured to remonstrate with the Emperor on the political condition of affairs, and has received a somewhat curt reply.
I have the honor to remain, sir, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State Washington, D. C.