CIVIL

Napoleon’s Letter to the Emperor of Austria -1808

Letter to the Emperor of Austria

October 1808.

Sire, my Brother:

I thank your Royal and Imperial Majesty for the letter you have been so good as to write me, and which Baron Vincent delivered. I never doubted your Majesty, but I nevertheless feared for a moment that hostilities would be renewed between us. There is, at Vienna, a faction which affects alarm in order to drive your Cabinet to violent measures, which would entail misfortunes greater than those which are passed. I had it in my power to dismember your Majesty’s monarchy, or at least to diminish its power. I did not do so. It exists as it is by my consent. This is a plain proof that our accounts are settled; that I have no desire to injure you.

I am always ready to guarantee the integrity of your monarchy. I will never do anything adverse to the important interests of States. But your Majesty ought not to bring again under discussion what has been settled by a fifteen years’ war. You ought to avoid every proclamation or act calculated to excite dissension. The last levy in mass might have provoked war if I had apprehended that the levy and preparations were made in conjunction with Russia.

I have just disbanded the camp of the Confederation. I have sent a hundred thousand men to Boulogne to renew my projects against England. I had reason to believe when I had the happiness of seeing your Majesty, and had concluded the treaty of Presburg, that our disputes were terminated forever, and that I might undertake the maritime war without interruption. I beseech your Majesty to distrust those, who, by speaking of the dangers of the monarchy, disturb your happiness and that of your family and people. Those persons alone are dangerous; they create the dangers they pretend to fear. By a straightforward, plain, and ingenious line of conduct, your Majesty will render your people happy, will secure to yourself that tranquillity of which you must stand in need after so many troubles, and will be sure of finding me determined to do nothing hostile to your important interests.

Let your conduct bespeak confidence, and you will inspire it. The best policy at the present time is simplicity and truth. Confide your troubles to me when you have any, and I will instantly banish them. Allow me to make one observation more—listen to your own judgment—your own feelings—they are much more correct than those of your advisers. I beseech your Majesty to read my letter in the spirit in which it is written, and to see nothing in it inconsistent with the welfare and tranquillity of Europe and your Majesty.

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