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The second partition of Poland; a study in diplomatic history online

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provided with a memorandum, in which the various possible
kinds of indemnity were discussed and it was urged that the
Bavarian-Polish plan was the only feasible one. 3 This document,
however, was represented to be only "first thoughts" on the sub-
ject; Goltz was directed not to show it but to advance the ideas
contained in it, in case Ostermann brought up the topic. Thus
within a surprisingly short time the ice had been broken in every
quarter. The Prussian initiative had met with the readiest of
responses from Austria; and although the Empress had not yet
committed herself, her attitude might seem distinctly encourag-
ing. Frederick William and his advisers, however, were not quite
free from fear that she might merely be lulling them with false
hopes until such time as she had ended her enterprise in Poland.
Decided caution towards Russia was still the watchword at
Berlin, and the first article in the Prussian program was to
secure a precise and definite agreement with Austria.

That agreement was to be effected, as was confidently reckoned
on both sides, at the meeting of the two sovereigns to be held
immediately after the Imperial coronation at Frankfort. In the

1 Alopeus' report of June 22/July 3, M. A., Ilpycciji, III, 29. From the
much more reserved tone of Schulenburg's and Alvensleben's report to the King
of July 3, one would judge that the former minister did not see fit to reveal to his
colleague how far he had gone with Alopeus. This conversation was on July 2.
B. A., R. 96, 147 G.

2 Alopeus' report of June 26/July 7, M. A., Hpyccia, III, 29.

3 Rescript to Goltz of July 10, B. A., R. XI, Russland, 133.


first week of July, from Vienna and Berlin there was a gen-
eral exodus towards the Rhine. The Emperor-elect, all the
Austrian Conference ministers save' Kaunitz, the King of
Prussia, BischofTwerder, Schulenburg, Haugwitz, Alopeus, Reuss,
Nassau — the whole diplomatic and military world was off to
attend either the great spectacle at Frankfort or ' the promenade
to Paris.'


Austria and Prussia Disagree about the

On July 14, 1792, at Frankfort, the world saw for the last time
the faded splendors of the coronation of a Holy Roman Emperor.
Five days later the successor of the Caesars and Frederick Wil-
liam, ' the modern Agamemnon,' held their meeting at Mainz.
Amid all the gorgeous festivities, while the public was celebrating
the anticipated triumph over the Jacobins, the ministers of the
allied Courts were already disputing over the prospective spoils.
Even before the departure from Vienna, clouds had begun to
appear on the horizon. When the Bavarian-Polish plan was con-
fided to the Austrian Conference ministers, there were murmurs
that this was no time to revive the Exchange project. 1 Probably
the cry had already been raised that although by the Exchange
Austria would, indeed, round out her territories, she would suffer
an actual loss in revenue, while Prussia was to gain in both ways.
Much as he clung to his original plan, Spielmann had been obliged
to urge upon Haugwitz the necessity of finding some ' supple-
ment,' some additional acquisition that would offset the financial
loss in question and establish a perfect equality between the
respective indemnities. As one means to that end, he had sug-
gested that in case the two Lusatias should revert to Austria,
they might be exchanged for the Franconian Margraviates,
Ansbach and Baireuth, which had recently fallen to Prussia. 2

1 Cf. Rosenberg's volum at the Frankfort conference: " Ueber den 2. Punkt des
Conferenzialgegenstandes, habe ich meine Meinung in Wien und hier dahin geaus-
sert, dass mir der nun gegenwartige Zeitpunkt keineswegs der gemessenste scheine,
die Negociation des Austausches zu entamiren," Vivenot, ii, p. 142.

2 Haugwitz to the King, July 26, referring to his conversations with Spiel-
mann before his departure from Vienna, B. A., R. 96, 155 E. Spielmann had left
the door open to such claims for a ' supplement,' when in his first reply to Schulen-



After the coronation, on July 17, the Emperor held a meeting
of the State Conference at Frankfort to decide upon the exact
propositions to be made to the Prussians at the approaching
interviews. Spielmann had presented a memorandum, which set
forth the history of the Exchange plan, summed up the advan-
tages of the project, and attempted to refute the objections that
were already being raised. Amid all the absurdities that were put
on paper by Austrian ministers in those days, it is refreshing to
find one statesman who realized that Prussia was sure to insist
upon an indemnity; that any attempt to oppose, or even the
failure to show real willingness to assist, would not only end all
support from that Power against France, but would ruin the
friendship built up with such exertions; that the Court of Berlin
was in a position to secure its indemnity anyway, through an
understanding with Russia or England; and that the only ques-
tion was whether Austria would seize the opportunity to extract
a counter-concession from Prussia, or would bargain and delay
until too late. Spielmann admitted that the Bavarian Exchange
would involve a temporary loss of from two to three millions in
revenue; but he argued that the Monarchy would gain so much
in territorial compactness and in freedom of movement, such great
improvements might be made in the financial administration of
Bavaria, so much could be saved by getting rid of the costly and
precarious Belgic possessions, that the loss would be more than
made up. The Exchange might possibly be combined with other
acquisitions, but he urged that insistence on additional advan-
tages and the resulting delays might involve the failure of the
whole plan. 1

burg he urged the financial loss involved in the Bavarian Exchange, and represented
the latter project as only ''the chief basis " of the prospective arrangement. Possibly
he had already had to face the opposition of some one of his sovereign's confidential
advisers, Colloredo, for instance.

1 This memorandum is printed in Vivenot, ii, pp. 134-141, as of July 18, 1792,
i. e., the day after the meeting of the Conference. In the original, which is pre-
served among the Vortrdge for 1792 in the Vienna Archives, the date is written in
pencil and is not exactly clear; but it is almost certainly the 16th, rather than the
1 8th. Besides, the whole context of the memorandum corresponds to the supposi-
tion that it was written before the meeting of the Conference. Had it been written
afterwards, the historic resume with which it begins could not have failed to mention


Unfortunately these warnings made little impression on most of
the members of the Conference. Field Marshal Lacy declared
that if the Bavarian Exchange were to be undertaken at all, it
must be supplemented by the acquisition of Ansbach and Baireuth
from Prussia, the latter Power to be compensated, perhaps, with
Juliers and Berg or with additional territory in Poland. He
inclined to the opinion that the Exchange plan should not even
be discussed at the interview at Mainz, out of regard for the
foreign Courts (England) , and in view of the internal conditions in
the Netherlands. Prince Rosenberg, who was in general bitterly
opposed to Spielmann and Cobenzl, joined in the attack. He did
not believe the moment fitted for reviving the Bavarian project;
but since it had been revived, he opined at least that they should
not attempt to execute it without securing the consent of England.
He also found it as clear as day that the realization of the Ex-
change without a ' supplement ' would entail an incalculable loss
to Austria. Colloredo agreed entirely with Lacy and Rosenberg.
The discussion waxed hot. Overwhelmed with criticisms and
accusations, Spielmann was enraged to the point of demanding his
own dismissal. 1 Finally the battle ended with a compromise.

It was decided to go on with the plan for the Bavarian Ex-
change, which the Conference recognized as in itself " the summum
bonum " of the Austrian Monarchy, but also to make every
possible effort to secure such further advantages as would render
the Austrian gains absolutely equal to those of Prussia. A
graded series of propositions to the Court of Berlin was drawn up,
and first on the list stood the demand for the Franconian Mar-
graviates — in return for which Prussia might receive the Duchy of
Berg from Bavaria. If none of these supplementary advantages
could be obtained, the majority of the Conference agreed to adhere
to the Exchange pure and simple. If even that proved impracti-
cable, two contingencies were to be considered : if Prussia secured

the important decisions of the 17th. Beyond a doubt, this is the ' memoire ' which
was read at the beginning of the meeting, according to the Conference protocol,
and not, as is commonly assumed, an act drawn up by Spielmann after the meeting,
as a sort of protest against what had taken place.

1 Schulenburg to Finckenstein and Alvensleben, July 30, B. A., R. XI, Frank-
reich, 89 g.


her acquisition in Poland, Austria must claim an arrondissement
in French Flanders and Hainault; in the contrary case, both
Powers should return to the original plan of demanding a money
indemnity from France. The Emperor approved these resolu-
tions, with the reservation that the consent of the other Courts,
and especially of England, must be obtained before attempting
the realization of the Exchange, and that in case of the slightest
opposition, the project was to be abandoned at once. 1

It has been the general opinion of historians that the confer-
ence at Frankfort marked a disastrous turn in Austrian policy.
It is true that Lacy and Rosenberg were not far wrong in holding
it an unfavorable moment for bringing up the Bavarian Exchange
plan, and in declaring the consent of England necessary; there
was also some justification for their view that it was not exactly
a, propos to divide the skin of the bear before he was caught; but
they failed utterly to reckon with the main factor in the situation,
Prussia. Since that Power insisted on obtaining securities for its
indemnity in advance, and since its aid was at that moment
indispensable, there was no other sound policy than to accede to
its demands and to avoid wounding its susceptibilities. The
decisions of Frankfort were so disastrous, not because they put
the Exchange plan in danger — for in view of the later turn of the
war, it is hardly probable that that project could ever have been
carried out — but because they produced the first rift in the
coalition and began the alienation of the ally, without whose
cordial cooperation a successful prosecution of the war and the
acquisition of an indemnity of any kind were wellnigh hopeless.

It was under no favorable auspices that the conferences be-
tween the Austrian and Prussian ministers were opened at Mainz.
On the one side, Spielmann and Cobenzl found themselves obliged
to champion demands of which both at bottom disapproved. 2 On
the other side, Schulenburg, who was to conduct the negotiation

1 Conference protocol and the separate vota of Lacy and of Rosenberg and
Colloredo, Vivenot, ii, pp. 132 ff., 141 f.

2 Of Spielmann's point of view, it is unnecessary to speak further. For Cobenzl's,
see his memorial printed in Vivenot, ii, pp. 142-145 (here erroneously entitled
" Beilage zum Protokoll der Frankfurter Conferenz, Juli, 1792." It was in reality
presented with a Vortrag of August 3, V. A.).


for Prussia, could hardly be in the mood for concessions. His
two colleagues, who remained in Berlin, had already fallen to
bemoaning the disadvantages of permitting the Bavarian Ex-
change: the sacrifice of the traditions of the great Frederick, the
loss of Prussia's proud position as the protector of the small states
of Germany, the immense increase of Austrian power and in-
fluence, the violation of the Peace of Teschen, etc., etc. If the
hated project must absolutely be allowed, they insisted that their
Court must receive a huge aggrandizement, which would enable
it henceforth to dispense with the support of the German princes,
and would justify its abandonment of a policy that had hitherto
formed the glory and the security of Prussia. 1 Furthermore,
Haugwitz, who enjoyed great credit with Frederick William, had
come to attend the King from Hochheim to Mainz, and had
seized the opportunity to combat the system recently adopted,
and Schulenburg's policies in particular. If we may believe
Haugwitz's later assertion, the King was already discontented
with his leading minister, and especially with the too modest
indemnity which the latter was disposed to claim. 2 On both sides,
then, the personal position of the negotiators rendered concessions
to the other party difficult, if not impossible.

The subject of the indemnities was brought up for discussion
at the conference of July 21. Schulenburg readily agreed to the
principle that the respective acquisitions were to be exactly equal,
both with regard to their utility as arrondissements, and in ' intrin-
sic value.' The Austrians then brought forward their claim for a
' supplement ' to offset the losses involved in the Bavarian Ex-
change. Schulenburg seems to have admitted — after not a
little argument — that the claim was in itself just; but when
informed of the concrete demand based upon it — the cession
of the Margraviates, the sacrifice of Prussian territory to satisfy
the appetites of this ravenous Court of Vienna — there he

1 These considerations from a letter of Alvensleben and Finckenstein of July 27,
i. e., written after they had learned of the propositions made by Austria at Mainz.
That they had, however, advanced these same ideas even earlier, appears from then-
letters to Schulenburg of August 12, B. A., R. XI, Frankreich, 89 g.

2 Ranke, Hardenberg, ii, p. 277; " Fragment des mgmoires inSdits du Comte de
Haugwitz," in Minerva, clxxxiv (1837), p. 4.


balked. His sovereign, he protested, placed a quite peculiar
value on these territories, which were the ancient home of his
dynasty. Repeatedly he begged the Austrians to devise some
other combination. Spielmann insisted that no other plan was
possible: if the King's aversion to the proposed cession was
insuperable, both Courts would have to renounce their intended
acquisitions. From the meagre words of the protocol it is im-
possible to reconstruct the course of what was undoubtedly a
very warm debate ; but it appears that at last Schulenburg
consented to take the demand for the Margraviates ad referen-
dum, and even to indicate the territories that his master would
claim in case he agreed to that proposition. They included
the palatinates of Posen, Gnesen, Cujavia, and Kalisz, with a
part of Sieradz, an allotment considerably smaller than that
which fell to Prussia some months later. These claims the
Austrians in their turn accepted only ad referendum. Finally,
Schulenburg agreed without difficulty that his Court should
undertake to secure the consent of England and of the Duke of
Zweibriicken to the Exchange. The conference ended amicably,
but with nothing definite accomplished. 1 The great opportunity
for a solid agreement on the original basis had been lost. The full
extent of the harm done in the way of disappointing, exasperat-
ing, and embittering the Prussians, appeared only a little later.


On the homeward journey from Mainz the Emperor stopped
several days at Munich, to visit the Elector. It had not been
intended, apparently, to broach the great plan of the day on this
occasion, but the Elector seems to have outrun the wishes of his
guests. In a moment of effusiveness, he assured the Emperor
that he entertained for him the same sentiments that he had
cherished for Joseph II, and that he did not exclude even his
willingness to consent to the Exchange. Encouraging as this was,

1 Protocol of the conference, Vivenot, ii. pp. 146-149; Ph. Cobenzl to Kaunitz,
July 31, and to the Emperor, August 3, ibid., pp. 155-158; Schulenburg to Finck-
enstein and Alvensleben, July 21, printed in Ranke, Ursprung und Beginn, pp. 364 f.


the Austrians do not appear to have taken advantage of it. They
were not yet ready to begin a formal negotiation at Munich. 1

At the end of July the court arrived at Prague for the Bohemian
coronation. It was only then that the Austrian statesmen began
to cast up the situation produced by the conference at Mainz.
In the report presented by the Vice-Chancellor to the Emperor on
August 3, the tone was sufficiently hopeful. The main thing at
present, he declared, was to await the replies of the Courts of
Berlin and Petersburg. If the latter answered unfavorably, then
the Prussian acquisition in Poland would fall through, as well as
the Bavarian Exchange; and in such a case the Emperor could
easily console himself. One sees again that the Austrians, unlike
their allies, had by no means set their hearts upon aggrandize-
ment; 2 they had virtually been driven into the indemnity project
in order to preserve the balance of power. As for the counter-
proposals to be expected from Prussia, Cobenzl anticipated that
the King would offer not only the Exchange, to which he had
irrevocably committed himself, but also some additional advan-
tages — either the Margraviates or acquisitions elsewhere.
Evidently the Vice-Chancellor had been encouraged by Schulen-
berg's acceptance of the abstract principle of ' the supplement,'
and did not suspect the indignation and repugnance which the
demands made at Mainz had aroused in the Prussian ministry.
Still he obviously did not feel the ground quite secure under his
feet, for he thought it necessary to add a long memorial rehearsing
all the advantages of the Exchange project. The reason may have
been that he feared that the Emperor's inclination to the plan had
been shaken by the opposition at Frankfort; or possibly that he

1 For the incident at Munich, Razumovski to Bezborodko, September 2/13,
on the basis of what Spielmann had told him, M. A., ABCTpia, III, 54. Cf. Ph.
Cobenzl to Mercy, March 26, 1793: " Wie sehnlich der Herr Kurfiirst diesen
Tausch allezeit gewunscht hat (und die Fortdauer dieses Wunsches haben noch im
Juli v. J. positive Aeusserungen bestatigt) ist Jedermann bekannt " (Vivenot, ii, p.
532 — the italics are mine). Lehrbach, the Austrian envoy at Munich, was not
informed until the spring of 1793 that his Court had revived the Exchange project;
and no formal negotiation was ever undertaken on the subject with the Bavarian
government in these years.

2 Spielmann was probably an exception, but the statement applies, I believe,
to the other ministers.


was trying to prepare the way for a return to Spielmann's original
project, in case the demand for a supplement occasioned too great
difficulties or delays. At any rate, the memorial labored to show
that the deficit caused by the Exchange would be only temporary,
and that the security and freedom of action to be gained by the
realization of the plan were far more precious than any acquisi-
tions or any mere increase of revenue. 1

A few days later a report arrived from Louis Cobenzl that
must have afforded considerable satisfaction. Immediately upon
receiving the orders of July 2nd, the ambassador had taken up
the new project (the Exchange) with his usual zeal, although he
had grave doubts about the success of the plan, and was not a
little pained at being obliged to champion those ambitions of
Prussia which for years he had made it his business to combat. 2
The Russian ministers received his propositions with all gracious-
ness. They could express only their private opinions, since all
must be referred to the Empress' decision, but each of them in
turn assured Cobenzl that she would surely do everything possible
to assist ' her most intimate ally,' just as she had done in 1784.
The ambassador was given to understand that the Exchange
project would meet with no difficulties whatsoever from Russia,
but as to the Prussian acquisition the situation was different.
Bezborodko, indeed, thought that in view of the present circum-
stances the claims of the Court of Berlin would have to be
admitted; but the other ministers raised profuse objections and
unanimously declared that this was a subject that required the
maturest deliberation. Markov asserted that the King of Prussia
had no right whatever to demand an indemnity for " the half-
campaign" he was making, and ought to be told so plainly. The
last-named minister was also the only one who broached the
topic of an acquisition for his own Court. If it were a question of
gains for Austria alone, he declared, the Empress would act as
disinterestedly as Joseph II had done at the time of the Crimean
affair; but if Prussia absolutely must get something too, that was
quite a different matter: then the balance of power must be pre-

1 Vortrag of August 3, V. A. The memorial, in Vivenot, ii, pp. 142-145.

2 L. Cobenzl to Ph. Cobenzl, July 21 (private letter), V. A., Russland, Fasc. 139.


served. Cobenzl's instructions did not allow him to discuss this
latter point, but he did not think fit to offer the petty concessions
suggested in the orders of July 2 to take the place of a Russian
acquisition. It is probable that his failure to propose that the
Empress should take her share along with the rest, had something
to do with the fact that on this occasion he secured nothing but
general assurances of good will. His sovereign would be unable
to reply definitely, Ostermann declared, until she learned of the
results of the interview between the Emperor and the King of
Prussia. 1

Unsubstantial as was his success, Cobenzl had still progressed
much further than his Prussian colleague. The excessively pru-
dent Goltz, bound by extremely cautious instructions, had failed
utterly to bring the Russians to speech. Not daring to make his
proposals openly, and not being on sufficiently intimate terms
with the Russian ministers to draw them out in familiar conversa-
tion, the envoy was no nearer to learning the intentions of the
Empress now than he had been five months earlier. He and
Cobenzl received their orders about the indemnity project at
almost the same time; yet so great was their mutual distrust
that instead of joining forces in a common effort, each assured
the other that he had no definite instructions on this subject. 2

The news from St. Petersburg — the advance gained by
Cobenzl over Goltz, the favorable reception accorded by the
Russians to the Exchange project, and their apparent repugnance
to the Prussian claims — all this furnished the Austrian ministry
with an excellent opportunity to return to the attack on the
subject of the Margraviates. Accordingly, on August 8 a dis-
patch was sent to Reuss ostensibly for the purpose of communi-
cating the results of Cobenzl's overtures. The Prussians were to
be given to understand that the obstacles that stood in the way of
their demands at St. Petersburg, could probably be removed only

1 L. Cobenzl to Ph. Cobenzl, July 21 (official report), V. A., Russland, Berichte,

2 Goltz's report of July 20, B. A., R. XI, Russland, 133; Cobenzl's of August 24,
V. A., lot. cit. Cobenzl's ' duplicity ' towards Goltz furnished the Prussian ministry
with a theme for frequent jeremiads; but the duplicity was about equal on both


through the earnest intervention of the Emperor; and that this
intervention could easily be had — at the price of Ansbach and
Baireuth. If the two Courts were once agreed on this latter
point, it was said, they could immediately begin a joint negotia-
tion with Russia with good hopes of success. 1

At the same time Spielmann took up a high tone in his discus-
sions with Haugwitz. Without the cession of the Margraviates,
he constantly declared, the whole Bavarian-Polish plan would
have to be given up; but, on the other hand, if the King consented
to. part with those possessions, Prussia might have whatever she
might desire in Poland. Haugwitz, however, knew a clever
counter-thrust. If the Bavarian-Polish plan were abandoned, he
said, the two Courts would have to return to the old idea of
seeking their indemnities from France; and in that case his
sovereign would claim Juliers and Berg. Spielmann protested

Online LibraryRobert Howard LordThe second partition of Poland; a study in diplomatic history → online text (page 34 of 59)