No. 138.
Mr. Everett to Mr. Evarts.

No. 38.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose the speech of Prince Bismarck, delivered in the German Reichstag on the 19th instant, in answer to the interpellation mentioned in my last, with the best translation I have been able to make of it, though some passages seem intentionally obscure. The feeling generally in regard to it seems to be one of disappointment, first that it did not correspond with what had been put in his mouth in advance by the press, and, secondly, that it seems to indicate a greater disposition to keep the peace between Austria and Russia than between Russia and England.

I am informed on good authority that England has instructed her ambassador to leave St. Petersburg in the event of Russia taking certain steps unquestionably contemplated by her for securing the Turkish fleet as part indemnity for the war.

Russia is in the mean time pressing Turkey very hard to agree to the terms dictated. Opinion is now generally reserved till the conference, which it is supposed will shortly meet at Baden-Baden.

I have, &c.,

H. SIDNEY EVERETT.
[Inclosure in No. 38.—Translation.]

Speech of Prince Bismarck, February 19, 1878.

Gentlemen: I must first ask the indulgence of the Reichstag, if it is impossible for me to say standing all that I have to say. I am not as strong as I appear to be.

To return to the question, I cannot deny that at the first sight of the interpellation I had some doubts whether I would answer at all. The question, indeed, leaves me the option of answering you with a “No.” But if I must not say this “No,” it is not, as is generally thought, because I had much to conceal, through the exposure of which our policy might be compromised or its liberty restricted, but, on the contrary, because I, though willing to explain myself before the National Assembly, had really not enough to say beyond what was generally known.

The debates in the English Parliament have, indeed, nearly exhausted the answer to one part of the question, namely, “What is the present political situation in the East?” If in spite of the poverty with which I come before you, I have still not said “No,” it is for fear that it might thence be inferred that I had much to keep silent about, and an impression of this kind always produces some uneasiness, especially when there is an additional idea of gaining by this silence. Thus I shall speak with the more freedom and pleasure, as from the manner in which the question was put I derive the impression that the German policy has nothing to do but to continue without change or turn in the line followed up to this time—if it is to express the meaning of the majority of the Reichstag, as we have just now heard it expressed.

As regards the actual situation, I suppose that anything that I could tell you is [Page 196] already known. You know by the public press and by the debates in the English Parliament that now in the East we may say, “Arms repose and the storm of war is lulled” and, please God, for a long time. The armistice which has been concluded gives to the Russian army an unbroken position from the Danube to the Sea of Marmora, with the base, which was previously wanting, of the fortresses of the Danube—a point which appears to me the most important of all in the armistice, and which has not been contested. Beyond the Russian lines, beginning at the north, is a quadrilateral section, which includes Varna and Schumla, and on the coast of the Black Sea begins at Baltschick on the north, finishes near the bay of Burgas on the south, and extends into the interior of the country nearly to Rasgrad—an almost quadrilateral space, as I have said. There are likewise not comprised within Russian occupation, Constantinople and the promontory of Gallipoli, two points to the non-occupation of which great importance is attached by other interested powers.

This armistice has been preceded by certain preliminaries of peace, which, at the risk of repeating what you already know, I recapitulate obiter, in order to connect with them the question as to whether any German interests may be involved in these preliminaries.

The first point is to constitute Bulgaria “dans des limites déterminées par la majorite de la population bulgare, et que ne sauraient être moindres que celles indiquées dans la conférence de Constantinople.

The difference between these two limits is not, to my mind, sufficient to cause the peace of Europe to be disturbed with any reason. The ethnological data which we possess on this subject are not authentic, and contain blanks, but the best idea to my mind is that conveyed by the German Kiepert maps. According to these maps, the national frontier, the limit of Bulgarian nationality, extends, almost without mixture of race, to the west a little beyond Salonica, and to the east, with an increasing mixture of Turkish blood, as far as the Black Sea; while the limits proposed by the conference, as far as the discussions on this subject can be understood, on the eastern side, by the shores of the sea, are placed a little to the north of the national frontiers, while they include two different Bulgarian provinces, and on the west they extend a little further, perhaps, than the Bulgarian nationality in the districts where there is an admixture in the population of Albanian races. The constitution of Bulgaria, according to the preliminaries, would be about the same as that of Servia before the evacuation of Belgrade and other fortified points, for the first paragraph of these preliminaries ends thus:

L’armée Ottomane n’y séjournerait plus (sauf quelques points à déterminer d’un commun accord).”

This, then, will be a subject of negotiation between the powers which made the treaty of Paris in 1865; they would have to decide this clause, which thus remains open and vague, and to agree with Russia on this point, as I trust will be possible.

Next comes the independence of Montenegro, as well as that of Roumania and Servia; likewise, the dispositions relative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, for similar reforms.

All these things, in my opinion, do not touch German interests in such a way that we can on their account endanger our relations with our adjoining neighbors and friends. We can accept either one of these arrangements without any loss to our interests.

There then follows, in paragraph 5, a stipulation as to the costs of the war, which leaves it open whether the indemnity shall be paid in money or territory. That is a thing which in the former case would concern the belligerents, whereas, if in territory, it would concern the powers who signed the treaty of Paris, and should he decided with their sanction.

Next comes the question of the Dardanelles, in regard to which, in my opinion, much more anxiety is manifested in the world than is justified by real possibility and the existing complication warrants. It states in this paragraph, in a very general manner, “Sa Majesté le Sultan conviendrait de s’entendre avec Sa Majesté l’Empereur de Russie pour sauvegarder les droits et les interêts de la Russie dans les détroits du Bosphore et des Dardanelles.

The question of the Dardanelles is of very great importance, if there is any question of the control of the Straits, the key of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, changing hands—if it is to be decided whether Russia is to have the power to open or shut the Straits of the Dardanelles at her pleasure. All the other stipulations would only apply in time of peace; but in case of war, the gravest case, the important point would be, whether the holder of the Straits was an ally of or subject to those who lived on both sides of this Strait—of Russia, or of the enemies of Russia.*

In case of war, this stipulation of the treaty, if it were made, has not, in my opinion—provided that the Dardanelles remain in hands which in time of peace are independent of Russia—the importance which is attached to it. It might have an interest for countries [Page 197] bordering on the Mediterranean if the Russian fleet had the right in time of peace to pass the Dardanelles and show itself in the Mediterranean; but if she did so show herself, I should conclude from it, as the barometer indicates approaching fine weather, I should conclude, I say, that there was peace; whereas if she retired and prudently shut herself up in the Black Sea, then one might suspect that there were clouds in the horizon. I do not, however, think it unimportant to decide if in time of peace vessels of war can pass the Dardanelles; but I do not think it sufficiently grave to set all Europe on fire on account of it.

As regards the possession of the Dardanelles passing into other hands, it is certainly quite another question, but an eventuality and a conjecture which do not concern us in the present situation, and in regard to which, consequently, I do not wish to pronounce an opinion. It is my purpose at present only to determine as near as I can what preponderance of interests would cause a fresh war after the Turco-Russian war is practically over, and I must, therefore, definitely establish the fact that the stipulations of peace in the question of the Dardanelles as regards vessels of war could not have the same importance as those in regard to merchantmen.

In the first place, the principal German interest in the East consists in the certainty that the water-ways of seas and rivers, of the straits, as well as of the mouths of the Danube at the head of the Black Sea, shall remain as free as they have hitherto been. [Applause.] This point we are very sure of obtaining; in fact, it has not been brought into question. In an official communication which came to me from St. Petersburg, on this point, reference is simply made to the existing terms of the treaty of Paris. It, therefore, does not enter into the question; and in this respect we are neither better nor worse off than we always have been.

The interest which we have in the better government of the Christian population, in their protection against violences such as they have at times been subjected to under the Turkish Government, is guaranteed by the paragraphs [of the treaty] I have mentioned, and is the second interest—less direct, doubtless, but inspired by a feeling of humanity—which Germany has in the Eastern question.

The rest of the stipulations in the preliminaries consist of—I will not say phrases, for it is an official document—but have no interest for us in the present discussion.

With these explanations, I have, as well as I can, answered the first part of the interpellation on the state of things in the East, and I fear that I have told you nothing new.

The other part of the question relates to the position that Germany, in the present circumstances, will adopt or has adopted as regards present changes.

As regards the position we have taken, I cannot, for the moment, make you any communication, for it is only a very short time, I may even say only since this very morning, that we are in possession of the official documents to which I alluded. [Hear, hear.]

What we knew before agreed essentially with the text we have now, but was not of such a nature that we could act upon it officially, it being in the form of private communications, for which we were indebted to the politeness of other governments. [Hear, hear.]

Thus no official steps have yet been taken by us, and in view of the, as I hope, approaching conference, they would have been premature before these communications, as materials for the conference, had been received and opinions exchanged as to their meaning. Whatever change there is in the stipulations of 1856 must no doubt be sanctioned, or, failing that, there would follow, not necessarily a new war, but a condition of things which I think all the European powers would have reason to deprecate—I might almost call it a swamping of the question. Suppose that at the conference no understanding could be arrived at regarding existing facts; suppose that the powers which have the greatest interest in opposing Russian claims said: “It does not suit us at present to go to war about this, but we do not accept what you have done and we withhold our decision”; that certainly is a state of things which is not desirable, even for Russia. Russia says, with reason, “We have no desire to expose ourselves every ten or twenty years to a campaign against Turkey, which would be very deadly, very painful, and very costly”; but, on the other hand, she does not desire any more to substitute for this danger that of an Austrian-English dispute every ten or twenty years. Thus I think that it is as much the interest of Russia as of all the other powers not to postpone the settlement of this matter to another and, perhaps, less favorable time.

That Russia is disposed to force by war from other powers the acceptance of the changes which she considers necessary, I consider an idea totally devoid of probability. Russia would probably, if she could not obtain the consent of the other signers of the Treaty of 1856, console herself now with the thought “Beati possidentes.” But then, gentlemen, arises the other question, of knowing whether those powers may be ill-satisfied with the Russian arrangements, and who are interested especially in the Eastern question, are ready to make war in order to compel Russia to modify her conditions and to abandon a part of them, at the risk of leaving in Russia, after the [Page 198] return of the troops, a feeling similar to that which Prussia felt after the conclusion of peace in 1815; that is to say, a conviction that the business is really not finished, and that there was an intention to attempt again to force Russia into more concessions than were possible for her.

If it was to be done by force of arms, then the object which is to be gained by a war would be to drive the Russians from the positions they occupy now in Bulgaria, though they have as yet shown no intention of occupying Constantinople. But on those who had accomplished this end by war would fall the task and the responsibility of deciding what should be done with these provinces of Turkey in Europe. If they were prepared to simply and fully restore the Turkish authority in its ancient limits, after all that was said and decided at the Constantinople conference, I should not think such a restoration was possible. If, then, any measures were adopted of this kind, they could not very much differ in principle from what is now proposed. Perhaps they might be mitigated as regards the si ze and extension and degree of dependence (of the provinces), but I do not believe, for instance, that the nearest adjoining power, Austria-Hungary, would be ready to accept the inheritance in totality of the Russian conquests and to assume the future responsibility of these Slave countries, whether by their incorporation into Hungary or by vassalage; I do not think that this is an object which the Austrian policy would very much wish to attain, side by side with their own Slave subjects, to be now the responsible editor of the future condition of things in the Balkan peninsula, and that would be the result of victory. I do not state here all the eventualities, in which I do not believe, except to show how, in my mind, there is little probability of a European war; the likelihood that for the sake of a greater or less extension of a tributary province, unless, indeed, circumstances were too strong, a disastrous European war between two great neighboring and friendly powers could be resolved upon in cold blood. [Bravo.]

Their blood will be cooler when we meet at the conference. To prevent such eventualities, the idea of the conference was first proposed by the Austrian-Hungarian Government, and we are about the first, I believe, who have gladly adopted the suggestion. Difficulties have arisen as to the choice of a place for a conference, which I think are out of proportion to the importance of the question. Still we have not raised any objections on this point, and have declared that we accept the localities proposed, whether Vienna, Brussels, Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden, Wildbad [laughter], a city in Switzerland. I must add, however, that Wildbad was only proposed by itself [laughter], and also Stuttgart. All these places would be agreeable to us.

It appears—if I am well informed, and it will be decided in a few days—that the final choice will be Baden-Baden. Our interest, which is shared by all the powers with whom we have corresponded on this subject, is that the meeting of the conference should be settled independently of the choice of a place, and it is comparatively indifferent to us where the conference meets. I have, as regards the German localities, only remarked that on German territory it should have a German president [bravo], an opinion which is not opposed in any quarter. This principle once admitted, it remains to be seen whether, if from motives of convenience, it will be necessary absolutely to adhere to it. This question will be decided according to the personal standing of the members of the conference, which I consider the meeting of as certain to take place during the first half of the month of March. [Applause.]

It would be desirable if this could be sooner, in order to be an end to the uncertainty which is hanging over us; but the powers, before meeting, desire an interchange of opinions, and the communications with the seat of war are really very slow. The delay of the communications which have reached us has been caused by the delay of the news from the seat of war. The report, therefore, which has been circulated for some time by the public press that this delay was intentional is thus disproved, if one clearly understands that the advance of the Russian army since the 20th January was the result of the armistice, and not an attempt to profit by the tempo utile accidentally gained.

The limits of the present position of the Russian troops are the lines of demarkation stipulated for in the armistice, and I believe there is no intentional delay on either side, but that there is on both sides a sincere wish to have a conference soon. At all events, we shall do all we can toward it.

I come now to the most difficult part—I pray you to excuse me if I sit down again—of my allotted task, that is, of explaining as far as is possible the position which Germany will take at the conference. You will not expect from me here more than a general view of our policy, the programme of which M. de Beumgsén has traced so clearly and fully; more so, indeed, than my strength will now permit me to do.

If from many sides a demand had come to us—but this demand has not come to us from any government, but only from the press and other well-meaning counselors—that we should radically decide on our policy, and in some form or other impose it on others, I should say that I consider this as rather a policy of the press than of the State. [Laughter.]

I wish at once here to further explain the difficulty and impossibility of such a [Page 199] course. Suppose that now we were to announce only a fixed programme, to which we were to adhere; if we were to publish it, here in an official place not only to you but to Europe, we should give to ail those who considered this programme favorable to them a sort of premium to be intractable. [Very free laughter.]

Further, it would render impossible for us at the conference the role of mediator, to which I attach the highest importance, because such one, having in his hand the menu, of the German policy, could say to us: “German mediation can go so far; it can do this and no more.” The freedom of action which Germany has reserved to herself, the uncertainty concerning the decision of Germany cannot but have had some influence on the maintenance of peace till now. Play out the German card, throw it on the table, and every one knows what to plan and what to avoid. To do this would not be practical if one wished to mediate for peace. I do not look upon the mediation for peace as if we were assuming the role of empire between conflicting views and were to say: “So must it be, and behind it stands the power of the German Empire.” [Very good,] But I consider myself more modest—not to make invidious comparisons, to give you an example from common life—in the role of an honest broker, who desires to bring the affair to a favorable end. [Laughter.]

We are thus in a situation to spare any power which has its private views the mortification of receiving from its adversary—I will say—in the congress a refusal or a disagreeable answer. If we are equally friends with both we can first sound one, and then say to the other, “Don’t do this; try to propose this or that.” These are practical business methods, which are very laudable. I have a long experience in these matters, and I have often seen, when there are only two parties, that the thread often falls, and through a false shame it is not recovered. The moment when one could pick up the thread again passes, and the parties separate in silence and out of temper. But if there is a third person, he can without ceremony pick up the thread again, and bring the others together again even if separated. Such is the role of mediator, as I understand it, and as it corresponds with the friendly relations which we have in the first place with our immediate neighbors whose territory joins ours for a long distance, and as it conforms with the union which exists between the three imperial powers for the last lustrum. But this position of friendship is likewise that in which we find ourselves towards another of the interested parties, namely, England.

We are with England in the happy position of not having between us any conflicting interests, except some commercial rivalries and passing disagreements, which, however, are not serious enough to lead two industrious nations at peace to go to war, and I flatter myself that, in case of need, we could be the confidential intermediary between England and Russia, which I am sure we could be between Russia and Austria if they could not agree together. [Bravo.]

The relations between the three Emperors—if one may so call them, instead of the common phrase alliance—do not rest on any written agreement, and no one Emperor is forced to admit the law of the majority of the other two. It rests with the personal sympathy of the three monarchs, on the personal confidence mutually inspired between ‘them, and on the reciprocal relations of the ministers of the three empires, which rest on personal intercourse of long standing. [Bravo.]

We have always avoided, when there was a difference of opinion between Austria and Russia, forming a majority of two against one by positively taking the part of either, even when our own wishes leaned rather more to one side than the other. We have abstained from this, because we feared that the bond was not yet strong enough, and certainly it could not be sufficiently so to permit one of these great powers, out of regard to the other, to overlook its own undisputed interests, political and national. That is a sacrifice that no great power would make for the beaux yeux of the others. It would do it only when force is employed instead of arguments. Then it can, according to circumstances, say, “It is very disagreeable to me to make this concession, but it is still more disagreeable to me to have a quarrel about it with so great a power as Germany; but I shall remember it and take it into account.” It is in this manner that such incidents occur, and I must now strongly repudiate the pressing insinuations which are now thrown out respecting the mediation of Germany, and to declare that so long as I have the honor of advising His Majesty there will be no question of anything of the kind.

I know that in this respect I disappoint many of the expectations which were formed of to-day’s communications, but I am not of the opinion that we must follow the Napoleonic system [very good] and be, I will not say the arbiter, but the schoolmaster of Europe. [Applause.]

I read, for instance, in one of to-day’s papers, “The policy of Germany in the decisive hour.” It is the title of a remarkable article in the Augsberg Gazette, which demands as a necessity the mixture of the third power in the league between Russia and Austria. Thus we should have to take a position between England and Austria, to deprive Russia of the merit of making spontaneous concessions to which she may agree in the interests of a European peace. I do not doubt that Russia will sacrifice to the [Page 200] peace of Europe what, according to her national sentiments and in her own proper interests, the interests of eighty millions of Russians, it is possible for her to sacrifice.

It is superfluous for me to say, but if we do as these gentlemen tell us, who have such a way of looking at things—and I have here yet another article of the same kind headed “The role of Germany as arbiter,” taken from a Berlin paper—if we follow their counsels and in a public and friendly manner declare to Russia, “It is true that nor a hundred years we have been friends; Russia has been faithful to us; has preserved a constant friendship for us when we were in critical situations, but now it so happens that in the interests of Europe, as a policeman of Europe, as a sort of magistrate, we cannot any longer resist the wishes and the demands of Europe.”

There are in Russia influential parties who do hot love Germany and who happily are not in power, but who would not be unhappy if they were. [Laughter.] How would they, and others also, and even other statesmen who at this moment are not our declared enemies, address their countrymen ? They would say, “With what sacrifice of blood and lives and treasure have we gained this situation which for centuries has been the goal of Russian ambition. We might have held it against all those enemies who had a genuine interest in disputing it with us. It is not Austria, with whom we have long lived in moderately intimate relations; it is not England, who has opposite and very openly declared interests to ours; no, it is our intimate friend, the friend from whom we had a right to expect a return for past favors; it is Germany, who has absolutely no Eastern interests, that has just wounded us in the back, not with the sword, but with the dagger.”

Such would be the expressions we should hear, such the theme addressed to us, and this picture which I have drawn in exaggerated colors—but Russian oratory does exaggerate—corresponds to the reality, and we will never assume this responsibility of sacrificing a firm friendship, proved for generations, the friendship of a great neighboring power, for the sake of playing the part of a judge in Europe. [Applause.]

The friendship which happily unites us to most of the European states—I may even say to all at this moment, for the parties to whom this friendship is a thorn in the side are not now in power—to imperil this friendship, I say, with one friend in order to be agreeable to another in questions where we as Germans have no direct interest; to purchase at the price of our own peace the peace of others; to interfere for a friend as a sort of second in a duel (auf der Mensur)—this I might do when I was risking only my own person, but I could not do it when, under responsibility to His Majesty the Emperor, I had to consult the interests of forty millions of people situated in the middle of Europe; and it is on that account that I reply from this tribune to all such voices and all such demands with a positive and formal refusal, and declare that under no circumstances will I lend myself to such an act, and that moreover, no government, not even those the most interested, has addressed such a request to us.

Germany, as the gentleman who preceded me remarked, with her growth of power has incurred new duties. But if we are able to throw into the scale of European politics a great number of bayonets, I do not think that any one has on this account the more right to advise the nation, the Emperor, and the princes who have a voice in the council in case of war, to appeal to the proved devotion of the nation, and to demand of it the sacrifice of its blood and its property in a war which has any other object than the defense of our independence abroad, and our unity at home, and for the protection of those interests which are so plain that when we take up arms to defend them we are sustained, not only by the necessary unanimity of the federal council, but by the full conviction and the eager enthusiasm of the German nation, and such a war only am I ready to recommend to the Emperor.

Again, in reply to a speech by Deputy Windshorst, after again denying that the interpellation was brought forward with his knowledge and approval, Prince Bismarck said:

According to the speaker, Germany had the authority—let us say power—to prevent the present war. But that would have been a great folly—not to use a stronger and more popular expression—if we had really done so. Doubtless in modern history there are examples of several attempts of this kind. But other powers who have been prevented in this manner from fighting have never been grateful to the one who had thus ordered them to keep the peace. I will mention here a fact drawn from our own history at the time of the negotiations at Olmutz. At this juncture the Emperor Nicholas played the part that the speaker desires Germany to assume now; the Emperor of Russia stepped in and said, “I fire on the one who fires first,” and peace was preserved. To whose advantage, to whose injury, rather, politically speaking, it is for history to say, and I do not wish to discuss it here. I only ask, if this act of the Emperor Nicholas gained for him the thanks of either adversary? Of Prussia, certainly not. The noble ideas of this ruler were unappreciated by the national sentiment of a great nation, which is told by another power what it must not do in matters of its own interest, which it believes it understands. But perhaps Austria was grateful to the [Page 201] Emperor Nicholas? Three years later occurred the Crimean war, and I need not further expatiate upon that.

I will give another example: The situation in which we find ourselves to-day is almost identical with that which occurred a little more than twenty years ago. I was not then minister, but on account of the confidence with which the late King, Frederick William IV, honored me, I found myself in a situation to take part in important and decisive affairs, and I know exactly how events happened. I know what artifices of persuasion and menace were employed toward Germany to draw us into a foreign war (the Crimean war). It was only the personal resistance of the late King, to whom we cannot be too grateful, that prevented us from committing this fault of going into a war, which from the moment that we had fired the first shot would have been ours, and all those behind us and beside us would have felt happy and would have told us when we had fought enough. The late King called upon me then in those critical days, at Frankfort, to draw up dispatches in that sense, and it is not at all astonishing after what occurred at that time in our foreign affairs that there were here in their hotels a half-dozen ambassadors (Prussians), and that they had a policy in opposition to their own ministers. Well, then, ought we not to be grateful that at that time we resisted the temptation to prevent Russia from going to war, or to render it more difficult for her? At this time, also, it was the “interest of Germany,” they said, that the war in the Crimea should take place; it was in behalf of that interest that they demanded our assistance; only, a surprising fact, the united Germanic Confederation did not share in this idea that German interests were involved. I think that this was the only time when at Frankfort in the federal Diet I found myself at the head of a majority, while Austria was in the minority.

* * * * * * *

I can also cite an example from more recent history, to add to the number of instances where powers have burnt their fingers, so to speak, by intervening. Among others I remember the intervention only proposed by us before Villafranca. It was a pacific act for which no one has since thanked us. I will mention also the pacification undertaken by Napoleon III, immediately after the battle of Sadowa—matters were not then made public—but what I thought then I well know I have never forgotten as regards the Emperor Napoleon, I have carefully made note of his intervention, and perhaps it would have been better for French interest if France had not taken upon herself the part of a pacificator.

The speaker then remarks that the one who has possession of the Dardanelles has the dominion of the world. Does he mean that the Sultan has thus far ruled the world? It is now over four centuries that the Sultan possesses this key without opposition, and I have never felt in the slightest degree that we in Prussia had found ourselves under his dominion. Besides, I never said that this key was without importance. I only said that Russia, at this moment, did not desire to possess it, that she had not entered Constantinople out of regard to those powers who have an opposite interest, and the word of the Emperor Alexander is a guarantee that he will not keep Constantinople. Whether after that there will remain a Turkey over which Russia will exercise the greatest influence we do not yet know; we do not know whether the two nations will remember with satisfaction the blows they have exchanged; the recollection may last for some time, but some day a different feeling may grow up between the two countries.

The refutation which I consider the most necessary is that which the speaker has made in giving it to be understood that Germany eventually would be the accomplice of the pretended dupery of Austria by Russia, as he says.

* * * * * * *

I do not know where the gentleman has discovered his motive of suspicion, but I can assure him that there is no necessity for him to defend the interests of Austria to us. Our relations with Austria are those of reciprocity, entire frankness, and mutual confidence, which is very curious, no doubt, especially after what passed in the times when other parties in Austria were more powerful than they are now. It is not only between monarch and monarch, between government and government—no; I am on personal terms with Count Andrassy—to my delight and my honor—such that he is at liberty of openly putting any question to me that he thinks necessary in the interests of Austria, and he knows that I will answer him truthfully, just as I am convinced that he will tell me the truth as to the intentions of Austria. [Applause.]

Such relations are very useful when one has to deal with a minister whom it is possible to believe on his statement. We thus find ourselves in an agreeable position with Austria. In certain former times, if the gentleman pleases, it was otherwise. I had then in front of me at the Diet of Frankfort Austrian colleagues to whom I said, “It is a matter of indifference to me what you say, as much as the wind blowing down the chimney, as I do not believe a word you say.” [Laughter.] Count Andrassy believes me, and I believe him, and we have no need whatever of the assistance of the gentleman who has spoken. He can only make mischief. [Laughter.]

  1. This last sentence is translated by the London Times, “whether the holder of the key of the Dardanelles is an opponent of England or of Russia.”