Supplementary Appendix 310.1

Guy Stanton Ford’s Discussion of
the Prussian Occupation of Hannover In 1801 [*]

|192| Intensive study of certain periods, certain institutions, certain men in the field of European history, leads also to an extension that brings within the student’s purview the whole continent with its complex of national interests, or whole centuries with their genetic relations to one another. Luther, the Church, Louis XIV., representative government, the French Revolution, Napoleon, are great centres toward which all roads of study, no matter how remote their starting point, seem to lead. In no period is it more difficult to delimit one’s field, while yet preserving true proportion, than in the revolutionary and Napoleonic era. The topic to which this chapter is to be confined is the diplomatic preliminaries ending in the occupation of Hannover by the Prussians in April, 1801. Simple and very local in its interest as this seems, we must follow the thread through the web and woof of all Europe’s politics in the months preceding Prussia’s unwilling abandonment of the neutrality system.

The inconstancy of the Czar of all the Russias, Paul the First, and the “masterly inactivity” of Prussian neutrality, the humiliation of Austria at Marengo and Hohenlinden, left France, left Napoleon at the close of 1800 with but one great foe — England and Pitt.

England still stood out against France. Others might be uncertain as to the reality of the danger to them from the new France and be led by this and by exhaustion to |193| peace. But England, true to her commercial and colonial instinct and interests, was conscious earlier in the struggle even than France itself, that the contest was one to the bitter end. With the dominance of Napoleon in the consular government, France began to develop those ideas which one finds occasionally in the policy of the Directory. She saw through Napoleon’s eyes who her real enemy was, and what the means were that would cripple her. It is after the failure of all efforts to subdue England by crushing her continental allies that suggestions are renewed, in which one sees the ideas of the Continental System clearly foreshadowed. With these plans comes a definite revival, in more aggressive form, of the idea of Hanover as a continental possession of England, which may be so handled as to bring England’s monarch to terms.

The not too imposing military strength of Prussia and her North German allies was not sufficient to shut out from the French mind the possibility of violating the neutrality of North Germany. The occasion need only be urgent. In all the years after 1795, or after August, 1796, Prussia could never feel sure that there was not real purpose back of the numerous rumors of French intentions against Hanover and the Hanseatic cities. The region was without doubt of great importance to England for the sake of the grain and naval stores that were shipped from its ports. The Elbe and Weser tapped the great granary of North Germany, and a free highway to the sea along those rivers involved the prosperity of |194| German provinces as distant as Silesia. France knew the importance to herself of the region and its commerce, and considered that it must be far more important to the trade of England.

Here then was the opportunity to live up to the Napoleonic motto of striking the enemy wherever found. The English fleets had shown themselves a wooden wall which the genius of Napoleon could not surmount. Her commerce with the continent and the German states of her reigning house seemed England’s only vulnerable points. The most ready victim of its sovereign’s English wars, the electorate of Hanover, was protected only by a treaty and the army of an exhausted land and a peace-at-any-price sovereign. It might also be argued that the conclusion of a French peace with the Empire ended the neutrality of Hanover; moreover the geographical location of Hanover, as has been indicated, made it possible for the French, through a hostile occupation, to accomplish the double aim of separating Hanover from England and England from the continent. The two ideas were, from the first, closely associated. To close the Elbe and Weser to English commerce was to hamper materially two lines of egress for supplies to Great Britain. The occupation of Hanover would give a vantage point from which not only these rivers and the Hansa cities, but the whole North of Germany might be shut to English trade. A master stroke of French policy it would be to accomplish all this through Prussia, and thus involve Frederick William III in Hanoverian affairs in such a way as to range him on the side of England’s enemies.

|195| Two ways to this end lay open. The offer of Hanover as an indemnity for Prussia’s losses beyond the Rhine seemed a bait at which the “landbegierige” [territory-hungry] Prussian ministry would readily snap, and possibly they could carry the king with them. The co-operation of Russia and the pressure of the Maritime League opened a second unexpected way of forcing the Prussian hand to strike a blow at England’s crown. If these had failed, as they once seemed in a fair way to do, there remained an actual or threatened occupation of Hanover by France itself. And to France either alternative seemed equally advantageous. Action by either Prussia or her own generals would result in closing the rivers of North Germany, and Prussian occupation might be expected not only to estrange England, but to arouse the never dormant suspicion of Austria that Prussia would take Hanover for her indemnity.

The idea that Prussia should possess herself of the German dominions of the English throne was not a Napoleonic idea. As an effective idea in European politics it seems, however, to have been of French origin. As soon as there was the hope of separating Prussia from the coalition in 1794–95, there came to the French the ideas of a Prussian alliance and of a Prussian seizure of Hanover, embroiling Prussia so that it would find itself favored by France alone should it retain Hanover. But strange as it may have seemed to the French government, |196| the idea was not accepted by the king of Prussia or his advisers. They were not blind to its advantages, but they were true to higher obligations. There was not a single public utterance of the responsible ministers of the Prussian kings between 1795 and January 1, 1801, that could seriously disturb the repose of the neighboring Electorate. Neither for himself nor for his landless relative, the Prince of Orange, would Frederick William II., or his successor, entertain the idea of seizing or dividing Hanover. But in successive years the proposition reappears, and Prussia in the period from the time it took Hanover under its protection by virtue of a treaty with the French, until it actually occupied the Electorate in April, 1801, was never free from the pressure of French intentions against the Electorate. Despite the pressure of the French party at Berlin, Haugwitz had maintained himself in power and with him, despite all his shifting and tortuous methods, the neutrality of North Germany seemed in safe hands. When France alone threatened to violate it, he had shown himself ready to take arms in defense of his cherished system. The change of attitude in 1801, when Napoleon made evident his plans against the |197| Electorate, is to be attributed to the fear aroused by the violent and uncertain Czar [Paul I] whose armies lay along Prussia’s most vulnerable side. Thus it was that Napoleon, aroused anew in 1800 and 1801 by the English, found the mad Czar of Russia unexpectedly serviceable in carrying out his ideas.

From hatred of France, bitter and extreme, Paul I. had, in violent reaction, become an enthusiastic admirer of Napoleon and an uncompromising foe of his recent ally, England. Early in 1800, there recurred rumors of the revival of the Maritime League of 1783. Documents published later have shown the course of events which enabled Paul to push his plans so that by December 18, he had brought reluctant Denmark and Sweden and neutral Prussia to sign an agreement at St. Petersburg by which they bound themselves to the maintenance of neutral commerce on the high seas. It was to all appearances a protective measure. England was not mentioned. |198| The whole convention reads as though the cases to be considered were simply foreseen as possible results of some distant war. Yet to any one who knew the position which Englishmen had held on the questions involved, who knew the “Ungestüm” [impetuosity, hotheadedness] and capriciousness of the half insane Czar, who went back of Paul’s views to those of the craftier Napoleon whose tool Paul was, it was clear that Prussia, by so readily joining the Maritime League, had taken a decisive step towards entering the arena of European affairs from which it had withdrawn for six years.

There could be no reason to hope that England would abate one jot or tittle from the position she had held in 1781. To her merchants and statesmen the views she held on the subject of neutral commerce were bound up with her very existence and could only be yielded with it. For any power or powers to make a demand on England to recognize a different definition of contraband, of a blockade, of the rights of enemies’ goods in |199| neutral vessels than those she herself chose to grant, was to the Englishmen of that day equivalent to announcing an alliance with France. The English despatches and instructions to their representatives in foreign courts at this time, produce in the reader a profound impression of the terrible and uncompromising earnestness with which England was fighting at every point the battle for supremacy on the seas and in the world’s markets. But the grandeur of a world power’s struggle interests us for the present only because it is a vortex drawing into itself the fate of lesser and dependent powers. The unfortunate ruler of England, himself the victim of a mental malady that from time to time eclipsed his mind, could be struck through a blow at his ancestral German possessions.

France had long persisted in viewing Hanover as England’s continental possession. The mad Paul was possessed of the idea, and the weak and unwilling Frederick William III. of Prussia was to be made the instrument of revenge on a related house by oppressing a neighboring province whose capital city had cradled his queen. Never was there in these eight years, from 1795 to 1803, a more striking illustration of Hanover’s unfortunate position as a Zankapfel [bone of contention, apple of discord] between Russia, Prussia, England and France; never a better example of what their allegiance to the sovereign of England was likely to cost George III.’s faithful German subjects.

This is not the place to weigh the importance of the commercial interests whose protection might justify Prussia’s entering the Maritime League. It is probable that the rather high-handed conduct of the English |200| would not have brought Prussia, with her growing carrying trade and lack of a navy, to join a league of maritime powers, if a stronger force had not been pushing her on to this virtual abandonment of her neutral position. The move was made with reluctance.

Throughout the summer of 1800 the Prussian cabinet had been essaying the role of mediator between France, Austria, Russia and England. To do this successfully meant to reap belated honors as the peace-maker of Europe, and to save the neutrality system from the rocks ahead. Above all it was necessary to bring England into the comity of nations. Peace between France and the powers, with England left out, would mean the revival by France of her former plans for seizing Hanover and closing the Elbe and Weser to English commerce. This failure to include England in the pacification would mean increased danger for Prussia; for there was not one iota of conciliation in the actions of the English navy. Neutral vessels, Danish, Swedish and Russian, were |201| seized or searched in a most irritating manner. The cabinet at St. James, unmoved by the moderate councils of such men as Carysfort, who saw things from the standpoint of securing friendly assistance from minor continental powers, rigidly held to the strictest English insular view of neutral rights. Denmark and Sweden were driven into the arms of Russia. Prussia, dominated by the fear of an enemy in the rear, felt itself obliged to yield to the Czar’s plans.

|202| Nothing could be stronger and seemingly more sincere than the numerous assurances Haugwitz had given of Prussia’s real interest in seeing England maintain, undiminished, her naval supremacy. It seems, then, a step as inexplicable as it was sudden, to join a maritime league with the Czar of Russia at its head. It does not appear to have been done in a spirit of hostility towards Great Britain. Prussia hoped to avoid committing any overt acts in the enforcement of the convention, and to make England see the distinction between the now hostile league which had been formed because its members had common views on certain points of international law, and the active enmity of Russia on account of Malta. Prussia hoped, as has been suggested, to get between Russia and France, and as mediator to play a leading role in Paris. Finally, if worst came to worst, and a choice had to be made between two evils, it seemed advisable for Prussia to favor Russia, at least nominally; for there seemed more hope of dealing reasonably with the sane ministers of George the Third, though Prussia was an ally of Russia, than there did of dealing with the unstable ruler of all the Russias, while disapproving his scheme of armed neutrality.

|203| But once embarked on a course laid down by Russia and France, Prussia had before it, if it would at the same time retain a remnant of the position created for it by its neutrality system, the duty of doing unpleasant things because Napoleon or Paul wanted them done, and it would have been much more unpleasant for Prussia to let them be the executioners of their own plans.

|204| The situation was critical, but it was of the kind that the statesmanship of Berlin in this period as represented in Count Haugwitz was peculiarly able to meet. A great crisis, a bold move, war — these were words that might figure in the vocabulary of a Stein, a Blucher, a Scharnhorst, but the sovereign of Prussia and the advisers next the royal person, Haugwitz, Lombard, Beyme, Kockeritz, Zastrow — how they have shrunk into oblivion behind the stalwarts of 1813 — were a combination that shunned a policy of blood and iron, and suited themselves to the tortuous course dictated by circumstances. The best thought of the Haugwitzian diplomacy is embodied in neutrality conceived as a system; the best example of the Haugwitzian method in diplomacy is to be found in the period between December, 1800, and September, 1801. There was a softness in the tread of his diplomacy that enabled him to walk unscathed between the half slumbering war giants of that time. Russia was seemingly placated by Prussia’s approval of Paul’s revival of the principles of 1781. On the other hand, England was being made to feel that though Prussia approved the principles in abstract, no overt act of Prussia’s would make them dangerous to England’s practice. To such a position England had not the slightest objection. With its own isolation before it, the English government was willing to spare Prussia, that, when the storm was over, it might be more easily drawn to the support of England on the continent.

|205| Indications were not long wanting that the Czar was not to be content with abstract approvals of his mother’s views of international law. These would not bring England to terms on the question of Malta. Reprisals of some kind must be made, and as the ocean was England’s, naval impotence directed the Czar’s attention to other ways in which to punish his whilom ally. First came an inquiry as to the possibility of closing the mouths of the Elbe and the Weser to English commerce if it was deemed advisable by the Maritime League.

|206| Now, Russia, seated at Hamburg or Bremen, or with an army in Oldenburg, was a spectre as disquieting to Prussia as a force in the same region wearing the French uniform would have been. The inquiry was a clear warning that Prussia must prepare to act with apparent hostility against Great Britain. Never certain of what the Czar might choose to do, Prussia’s anxiety to keep her own borders intact, was increased by her desire at this juncture to win over Paul to her indemnity project which had just been proposed for the Czar’s approval. It was only with Russia’s cooperation at Paris that they could hope to put through their ambitious plans for territorial increase.

Procrastination in the face of Russia’s urgency became more and more difficult. The embarrassment of the cabinet at Berlin was evident to all observers. The pressure from France, Russia, Sweden and Denmark, was pushing the reluctant Frederick William III. on to measures that even his best assurances could hardly make explicable to England or his fellow states behind |207| the Demarcation Line. The measure which it was understood Paul favored, was the occupation of Hanover, and Berlin was filled with rumors of the Electorate’s partition or exchange.

The Maritime League and Paul’s desire to make it an instrument to punish England for refusing to yield Malta, were working to the advantage of no one more than Napoleon. Aroused anew by the English embargo against the Northern powers, and the English action in Egypt, Napoleon assumed the right of interpreting to Prussia the duties which her relations to Russia and France required of her. Her hostile attitude to England, said Napoleonic logic, involved Prussia, as a member of the Maritime League, in the closing of the ports of the Elbe and Weser, and occupying Hanover or letting the French do it. With Russia pushing Prussia the way France had long pulled, the Neutrality System must either be abandoned or defended with arms. The decision of Prussia could not longer be delayed. The reluctant King Frederick William III., realizing the danger to his position now that Russia had been drawn into the French system, did violence to all his principles and plans by preparing to occupy the Electorate.

|208| The Prussian state has seldom, if ever, made a clearer confession of weakness than Haugwitz’s letter to the Duke of Brunswick February 8, 1801, announcing that fear of Russia and France called for the sacrifice of Hanover. The self-abasement of it all lay in Prussia’s abandonment in the eyes of Europe, of a principle which she had long proclaimed and was even then admitting, and this before the shock of arms had robbed her of the glamour cast about her by the military fame of Frederick the Great. For at the very time that she submits to the claim of Russia and France that England must be punished through Hanover, she was reiterating the view she had long held, that they were separate in interests and policy. The resolution communicated to Lucchesini in Paris and to the Duke of Brunswick was, as the delay in executing it showed, contingent upon the continuation of the pressure which Russia and France |209| were exerting when the decision was made. Procrastination was still the refuge of the hard driven Prussian ministry. England meanwhile was giving them every reasonable excuse she could for delaying action. This, it must be added, was not primarily on account of the Electorate in which her sovereign was interested, but rather that the English fleet under Parker and Nelson might gain the Sound and overpower the Danes before any of their allies in the Maritime League could come to their rescue [Battle of Copenhagen]. A storm so suddenly aroused might scatter as suddenly; Paul was a man of moods, but Prussia in waiting for a shifting of the wind from this quarter was running close to the dangers of the French Scylla. Reasonable excuse for delay could no longer be opposed to the interpretation Napoleon had put on Prussia’s allegiance to maritime principles before she had entered a league for their maintenance. The ratification of peace with the Empire was going to furnish him an excuse for regarding the neutrality of North Germany as non-existent. The French-English struggle still continued, and Napoleon told Lucchesini “that it will be open to the king of Prussia or myself to occupy the electorate of Hanover.” And when Prussia neither moved to support Denmark nor to occupy the Electorate, his utterances became more threatening.

|210| The young sovereign in Berlin, peace-loving, highminded, neutral by nature and fitted to rule in times of peace over some small state with paternalistic and reactionary tendencies, had, by the cruelty of fate, been thrown into Europe in the midst of a great revolution. A similar caprice of fortune had placed in his hands the sceptre of a state lying in the very heart of the old Europe now in its death throes. Everywhere the call was for action, decision, boldness, breadth of view, firmness of purpose. Between struggling giants there was no place to kneel and supplicate for peace. The power that would watch the struggle at its ease must rest on a drawn sword. Frederick William III. was unequal to the situation created for him by a complication such as that he now faced. Military and financial weakness made resistance to both Russia and France impossible. Geographical reasons forbade Prussia passively allowing either power to march into the heart of her domains in order to occupy the German lands of the king of England. Honor, consistency in policy, and the history of the past six years called on Prussia to deny absolutely, by force of arms if necessary, the claim that the peaceful electorate of Hanover could be made to suffer vicariously for the contentions of Great Britain. Since the treaty of Basel [5 April 1795], Prussia had been attempting to defend |211| the neutrality of North Germany, and the faithful adhesion of Hanover to Prussia’s leadership had alone made possible the success of that policy. Too weak to resist the pressure from east and west, it remained to be seen whether, to save the neutrality of North Germany for the time being, Prussia would consent to disavow the fundamental tenet of neutrality as a system by occupying Hanover in order to punish England.

In the midst of all the difficulties of the position which the extraordinary combination of circumstances created, King Frederick William III. was willing to grasp at any means which, by reconciling Russia and England, would relieve him from danger on his most vulnerable side. Breaking over the boundaries of diplomatic usage, he used first Captain von der Decken, and then regularly Colonel Kockeritz as channels by which to convey to Lord Carysfort and the English government the difficulties of the position in which his attempt to oppose both Russia and France placed him. If only he might effect a reconciliation between England and the disgruntled head of the Order of St. John, he could see light breaking ahead.

|212| Whatever relief the wavering Prussian monarch may have felt when he learned that secret negotiations were already on foot between London and St. Petersburg, his respite was short. On March 10, a hurrying messenger arrived in Berlin, bearing despatches from his Prussian Majesty’s minister in St. Petersburg. For once Haugwitz did not complain that the inefficient Lusi had made his report valueless by omitting matters of importance.

Lusi’s note is dated St. Petersburg, Feb. 12/26(24?), and runs as follows:

J’ai l’honneur d’envoyer cy-joint a Votre Majesté la copie de deux lettres qui m’ont été addresseés par le Comte de Rostopsin dont la dernière roulant sur des ouvertures très importantes étoit écrite de sa propre main! Copie:

Monsieur le Comte,

Au moment de notre Séparation j’ai eu l’honneur de recevoir un billet autographe de l’Empéreur, dont je vous joins ici la copie.

“Proposez en mon nom par le Cte Lusy et [Burckhard Alexius Constantin von] Krüdener au Roi de Prusse l’occupation de l’Electorat d’Hannovre comme une mesure qui pourra faire finir plûtot les vilénies du Cabinet de Londres.”

|213| J’ai l’honneur d’être avec une considération très distingueé, etc.

Comte de Rostopsin.

[I have the honor of sending to Your Majesty, attached, the copy of the two letters addressed to me by Count de Rostopsin, of which the latter coming by way of the extremely important openings, was written by his own hand! Copy:

[first letter] Esteemed Count,

At the moment of our separation, I had the honor of receiving a billet signed by the emperor, of which I am herewith sending you a copy.

“Propose in my name, through Counts Lusy and Krüdener, to the King of Prussia the occupation of the Electorate of Hannover as a measure that will be able sooner to put an end to the vile actions of the cabinet of London!”

I have the honor of being sincerely yours etc.

Count de Rostopsin]

Having reached this point in the narrative of events as they are occurring on the larger stage, we may well turn for a moment to the interested victim of all this discussion.

Thus far this account of the occupation of Hanover seems a case of Hamlet with Hamlet left out. England, Prussia, Russia, Sweden and Denmark — what was Hanover itself doing? Where could it hope to be effective? It had no representative in Paris nor in St. Petersburg. Denmark was its one well-hated, non-German rival. Its small German neighbors were awed into timorous silence by the very greatness of the powers involved and by the fear for their existence that the question of indemnity had raised. Hanover, thrown to the wolves, might let them save their own territorial entities. London and Berlin |214| seemed the only places where Hanover might speak for itself.

All through the summer of 1800, von Reden in Berlin watched anxiously the ebb and flow of the Prussian-Russian negotiations on the matter of neutral commerce. The fear that Prussia would use measures necessitated by such a league to further her territorial aims, was more than counterbalanced by the faith that Prussia, whatever the cause of the complications, would return to its neutrality system when the storm was over. But even before Haugwitz had told the Duke of Brunswick (Feb. 8, 1801) that Prussia was preparing to occupy the Electorate, the ministry at Hanover saw the coming action, and saw in it only danger. Believing from Krüdener’s |215| words and Russia’s previous policy that there was no danger of the Czar confusing King and Kurfürst, and not aware that France had resumed its hostile position with more than usual vigor, they turned on Haugwitz in a note of vigorous protest — a note that was at the same time a strong appeal to the best instincts of the Prussian king and ministry. So seldom in this period did the Hanoverian Regency rise to take the initiative, that the note of February 12, 1801, made all the deeper impression on the Berlin leaders. As the ally of Prussia, Hanover had deserted the policy followed by the kingdom of its reigning house, and had thus made possible the successful maintenance of the Prussian neutrality system to which Hanover had further contributed men and money. The Regency and King George, with such a record to point to, could earnestly appeal against an action that seemed only to result in Hanover’s suffering vicariously for England’s sins. Passing from things more positive, the Electorate of Hanover agreed in full with the king of Prussia as to the value of the neutrality system, and of the uninterrupted commerce of the Elbe and Weser. Its elector had not the slightest objection to entering with Prussia and other interested parties — even Denmark — into any arrangement for maintaining |216| neutrality and keeping open these important rivers. The note and the proposition it contains are by all odds the cleverest diplomatic move the Hanoverian government made in the period we are studying. The situation of the Prussian government was beyond peradventure made much more difficult. Much of the ground upon which it had based its talk about occupying the Electorate was removed by the offers Hanover made in order to show its good faith in observing and defending its neutrality. Officially no notice whatever was taken of the note, Prussia assuming that Hanover was not a party to the negotiations, and that until England replied to the Prussian note of the same date, or yielded the contention of the Maritime League, serious notice could not be taken of the communications from the Regency. Privately, Haugwitz assured von Reden that the French would never consent to Hanover’s joining the League. France would not consider that this was the sort of separation from England which Napoleon demanded. Russia, Haugwitz told von Reden, was not to be feared, but France had already shown itself Hanover’s most dangerous enemy. Recently the French had three times proposed the occupation of Hanover, “puisqu’il falloit chercher son ennemi partout ou on pourroit l’atteindre” [since it is was necessary to seek one’s enemy everywhere one might anticipated it].

|217| If England persisted in its rigid views of its maritime rights, not only Hanover, but Prussia itself, would be drawn helpless into the maelstrom. There was but one voice in Berlin when the subject of Hanover was discussed — if it came to a break with England, the Prussians must occupy the Electorate. There was little comfort in the assurances of the English ambassador that the Prussian seizure of Hanover would only prolong the wars. The history of the last seventy-five years contradicted Carysfort’s opinion that the English people would never consent to their sovereign being deprived in this way of his German states. The Hanoverians were soon to know what they might hope from England. On February 19, the Regency, feeling that it had done all that it could in Berlin, wrote the minister in London, von Lenthe, that all now depended on the help he might obtain from Great Britain.

|218| The English attitude toward Hanover during the last few years gave little reason to hope that any concession would be made for the sake of the Electorate. Always jealous of the Hanoverian connection, the English cabinet and public, even King George himself, had never quite justified the readiness with which Hanover had sought the protection of the Demarcation Line. Von Lenthe was not a man with decision and ability enough to modify this generally hostile view or hold the king from approving the English measures against the allies. Signing the embargo on Swedish and Danish vessels, as von Lenthe told him, was equal to signing a warrant for the invasion of the Electorate. But no English minister would hearken to a consideration of Hanover’s interests in the matter.

The royal family was much interested in the fate of the Electorate, but the king, who alone was in a position to influence its fate, could only adhere to the principles in |219| which he had been reared, and be true to the interests of his English kingdom, though it cost him his patrimony. The Prince of Wales was emphatic in opinion, but chary in action, in view of the arrangements for a regency then under discussion; the Duke of York had, it was thought, opposed Pitt in the matter; the Duke of Cumberland, the fourth son, spoke out the royal family’s attachment to their ancestral home. It remained for Duke Adolphus of Cambridge, frank and engaging, to do for himself and his father on the Electorate’s behalf a service that English policy could not disapprove.

On February 25, the young Duke who had been with the Demarcation Army, accompanied by his adjutant, the able and active young Captain von der Decken, set out for Berlin to try what might be accomplished there |220| on Hanover’s behalf. It was a personal mission, whose hope of success must lie in the influence his young relative could bring to bear on King Frederick William III., seconded as it would be by Captain Decken’s unofficial conferences and representations to both king and ministry. The story of their mission is an interesting one, and not without importance in some of its bearings on the relations between the two powers whose connection we are following. But in its main aim of moving Prussia to abstain from invading the Electorate, it was foredoomed to failure. The ministry at Hanover must have felt the chances of success were slight. They were very likely thinking not of what was to be done to avoid Prussia’s invasion, but what was to be done to save Hanover’s further existence as a separate power. It would have needed firmer faith and greater courage than theirs to withstand the suspicion as to Haugwitz’s ultimate designs which permeated all von Reden’s reports from Berlin in the crucial months of February and March. But these were mere surmises. As a fact, von Reden let it be seen that Prussia would surely have to |221| invade if England maintained its ground. Nobody could know better than King George’s son how certainly England would face all Europe rather than yield her supremacy on the high seas.

Duke Adolphus was well fitted by nature and by interest to make an appeal for the country in which he had spent so much of his youth. His acquaintance with the king and queen of Prussia, and his winning ways prepared for him a friendly reception. Captain von der Decken, though a young man, is, it seems to me, to be named with Ludwig von Ompteda and von Münster as one of the three ablest Hanoverians whose talents were then at the service of the ministry for diplomatic missions.

They arrived in Berlin, February 28, and remained nearly all of the month of March — until the occupation of the Electorate created a situation that made the position of the Duke as the guest of the Prussian court too embarrassing. Both were active and both have left on record reports of their activity. The Duke’s object was |222| to try by direct appeal to Frederick William III. to prevent if possible the occupation of the Electorate; or, if the occupation was inevitable, to delay it as long as possible, and to arrange it on terms most favorable to the Electorate. They stopped in Brunswick to interview the Duke, and there learned how serious the situation of the Electorate was, that is, that France and Russia were pressing the king to occupy, and that, though he would delay as long as possible, it must be done, and the Duke of Brunswick was expected to take command of the invading army.

Immediately on their arrival in Berlin, the energetic von der Decken sought and obtained an interview with Frederick William III., much to the disgust of the royal advisers who were seeking to bring the king to decisive action. The king only made it plain how helpless he was in the situation created for him by the English steadfastness on the one hand, and the reckless plans of the Czar Paul on the other. Von der Decken who had begun the interview in the conviction that the Prussian plan was to absorb Hanover, left the king convinced that the latter at least was not a party to any such scheme, whatever the ultimate designs of his minister might be.

|223| The most hopeless phase of the whole situation was Prussia’s confession of weakness and lack of independent policy in this critical situation. The interviews of the next few days with the English and Austrian ambassadors did not offer a ray of comfort. The air was full of rumors of how the Russian ambassador was urging again and again the occupation of the Electorate, how Augereau’s army was ready to march when Napoleon gave the word, how Prussia was cherishing the most extensive hopes of having Hanover assigned to her as an indemnity. The young envoys wavered for a moment |224| and thought of leaving Berlin, but the kindly invitation of the king and his gracious queen, Louise, determined |225| Duke Adolphus to remain until Prussia was forced out of its inactivity by a definite English refusal to meet any of the Russian-Prussian demands.

Of King Frederick William’s good intentions there was little doubt, but his Majesty’s hopes and ideas seemed to be in disagreement with views of the situation cherished by such men as Haugwitz, Kockeritz and Hardenberg. The king’s words were reassuring, but he himself seemed to feel that the case was hopeless unless Haugwitz accepted Captain Decken’s views. At the king’s request an interview was arranged by honest |226| Deluc, reader to the queen. On the evening of March 24, Capt. Decken repaired secretly to the study of Haugwitz and there talked over the whole situation. Haugwitz, though friendly, was clearly determined to make the best argument possible for the situation into which he admitted Russia and France had put Prussia. With his usual readiness to make his arguments fit the occasion he laughed at the idea of trying to distinguish the policies of George III. as King and Kurfürst — a distinction which, as has been indicated, was as fundamental to his long cherished neutrality system as any clause in the treaty of August 5, 1796. When v. der Decken conjured up the spirit of Frederick the Great in all the amazement which that great man would feel to see his state in such a humiliating position, doing the behest of its neighbors, Haugwitz frankly avowed the weakness of the state he represented and confessed the opportunism that guided its policies. Captain Decken presented an exhaustive |227| memorial which stated and answered all the possible reasons that might be considered by the Prussian ministry as sufficient grounds for the step they were about to take. Haugwitz went through it with him carefully, but remained unshaken in his determination — all the more so since it was, as we have seen, not his determination, but a step conceived in Paris and decreed in St. Petersburg.

Out of the interview with Haugwitz, as in the conversation of Captain Decken with Frederick William III., stands clearly the one idea of keeping free from difficulties with Russia and France. Prussia’s duty to her allies of the Maritime League, the alleged disappearance |228| of the neutrality of the North of Germany with the signing of the Imperial peace are evidently subordinate to the desire to remain on a friendly footing with Russia, to be free from the danger of attack on Prussia’s vulnerable side, thus manifesting her utter inability to resist pressure from both Czar and First Consul. If one seeks, then, to summarize the effective reasons for Prussia’s action, they seem to range themselves in a certain relation and order. The long-cherished view of France that Hanover was an English possession, and the loss of Egypt, accompanied by a feeling of French helplessness before English maritime predominance, caused Napoleon to take advantage of the Czar’s momentary anger over England’s maritime exactions and refusal to yield Malta. By this sudden Russian-French unity in hostility to England, France might hope to force Prussia as a well-intended member of the Maritime League to the occupation of the electorate of Hanover. They could expect by this means to involve Prussia in the scheme of a continental system, and ultimately to embroil her in a war with England.

Lastly, the reader must throw the whole matter on the background formed by the subject of indemnification. Prussia’s “Landbegier” was considered inordinate by its |229| neighbors and the English public, the cabinet was credited with plans so far-reaching that the well-intentioned King Frederick William was kept from knowing their ultimate aim. There could be no doubt in times when every power was filing excessive claims for damages, of the interpretation Austria, Hanover, England and the smaller German states would put on the occupation of the Electorate. Men like Hardenberg dropped remarks about the occupation being permanent, if they had their way, and the responsible minister let it be known that he sought, by watching his opportunity, to turn everything to the advantage of Prussia. King Frederick William III. was good, but weak. Hanover could not defend |230| itself. England was loyal to its sovereign, but indifferent to his German possessions. How dark and hopeless seemed the outlook for Hanover! Apparently the only ground for confidence in the future was the character and good intentions of Prussia’s king.

But the good character of its monarch alone has never been sufficient to make Prussia a force in European politics. Whatever may have been the intentions of a clique in the ministry, the king’s purposes might well have restrained them. It was a different question when, weakened financially and militarily, the Prussian state, its protests in behalf of maritime rights having been passed over by England in disdainful silence, attempted to withstand the threats of France and the united representations of its allies — Denmark, Sweden and Russia. Sharp and decided pressure from either east or west would force the long deferred decision on King Frederick William.

|231| The Russian Czar had already given proof of the lengths to which his hatred of England might carry him against those who did not rise to his degree of anti-English fervor, and all attempts to point out to him that Prussia’s participation in the Maritime League ought not to involve her in the English-Russian difficulties over Malta, fell on deaf ears. The proposal that Prussia receive Hanover as its indemnity left no excuse for misunderstanding the situation as Paul viewed it. He was willing to sacrifice the traditional Russian policy in North Germany by increasing Prussia’s power immoderately if the step in any way injured England. All hopes that half-way measures would content, were removed when in the early morning of March 25, Krüdener aroused Haugwitz and presented Paul’s indemnity plan, assigning Hanover in lieu of the Franconian bishoprics |232| which Prussia had desired. Krüdener was commissioned to do more than proffer, he was to threaten Prussia with an army of 80,000 Russians then moving towards Lithuania. If Prussia did not decide within twenty-four hours to send its troops into Hanover, the representative of Russia was to quit Berlin. Such a serious |233| situation admitted of no delay, and at a conference held in Potsdam on the 26th, and attended by the Duke of Brunswick, it was decided to hurry forward the Prussian troops already under orders to march. General Kleist, |234| and not the Duke of Brunswick as had been expected, was put in command of the occupying army, and Minister of Finance, Schulenburg-Kehnert, was dispatched to act |235| as civil governor of the Electorate. The connection of the Regency with the sovereign was cut off and the ministry relieved of all responsible part in the general government of the land. The local administration was left undisturbed, but as a political power Hanover could regard herself as non-existent. I doubt not that many a Hanoverian expected to see in this, Prussia’s centennial year as a kingdom, the end of Hanover’s course as an independent Electorate. But the day of her political resurrection was nearer than anybody could dream. Its herald was to be a messenger from the capital on the Neva [River, which flows throught Petersburg]!

Prussian Occupation Of Hanover (continued)
The Evacuation

|236| With occupation before it for two months, as something inevitable, the Regency in Hanover had had time to consider what it would do when the Prussian occupation really took place. Yet there was no serious thought of opposition. The mission of Capt. Decken, the friendly attitude of the Duke of Brunswick, who had charge of the military details, and Frederick William’s honorable purposes, had affected a modification of the harsh terms at first proposed. The threatening proclamation drafted by Haugwitz, and issued by von Schulenburg as civil governor of the Electorate, was framed to satisfy the foreign powers whose agent Prussia was.

|237| The Regency and General von Wallmoden-Gimborn accommodated themselves to the new situation and signed a convention with Schulenberg April 3, 1801. By its terms the Hanoverians promised not to resist the movements of General Kleist’s army, whose support they were to assume after the first of May. The Hanoverian troops then with the Demarcation Army were furloughed or distributed as garrisons in rather widely separated towns. All other fortresses and garrison towns, including Hameln, were turned over to the Prussians. Lastly, a solemn promise was given that the Prussian laws and the ordinances of the government of occupation would be strictly obeyed.

The submission was made in bitterness of spirit. The ministry to the very last, and indeed throughout the summer, remained outwardly unconvinced of a danger from France sufficient to justify the occupation. Despite the assurances of the Prussian king and his ministry to the contrary, the secret purposes which von Reden attributed to them in occupying Hanover were accepted by the Regency as proved truth.

|238| Their spirit is partially revealed in the closing paragraph of the convention by which they make their submission. The paragraph is made to embody an allusion to Frederick William III.’s solemn promise to restore their government and keep their territory intact.

The appointment of Schulenburg proved but temporary, and he was soon relieved of the most unpleasant situation in which his duties placed him. On the eleventh of April the ever serviceable Dohm was ordered to go to Hanover to take charge of a subject with which the negotiations of 1796 had made him familiar — the ” Verpflegung” [provisioning with food etc.] of Prussian troops at Hanover’s expense.

It is hardly profitable to surmise what would have been |239| the outcome of the situation as it was on the third of April; for within twenty-four hours after the submission of the Regency, the kaleidoscope of European politics had shifted. April 4, racing Russian and Prussian messengers arrived with the news of the death of the Czar Paul on the night of March 23–24 — a stroke of apoplexy — a stroke of Fate! The despairing cry of Napoleon, the wild rejoicings at Vienna, the relief in London, and the confusion of plans in Berlin, as the news of the death of Paul swept from capital to capital, are striking tributes to the power and place of the realm of Peter the Great, even when ruled by a madman. In a twinkling the card house of the Maritime League had come tumbling down. Napoleon must wait until the day of Tilsit [July 1807] to perfect the plans he had seen so fairly under way. England halted the triumphant fleet of Parker and Nelson, and sought to resume the friendly relations which the personal program of the late Czar had so suddenly interrupted. And Prussia — she might well indulge in vain regrets that the assassins had not acted two months, or even two weeks earlier. The situation in which she was placed by the change at St. Petersburg seemed fully as untenable as the one she had tried to occupy since her entrance into the Maritime League. From the Prussian point of view, the accession of Alexander I. removed the danger from the side of Russia, but only after that long threatening danger had committed the reluctant Frederick William III, to a step often delayed, ever regretted.

|240| It was the irony of fate that the same issue of the London dailies contained the details of Nelson’s victory at Copenhagen, of the assassination of Paul I., and a copy of the proclamation which the king of Prussia sent ahead of the army occupying Hanover. The problem which this combination of circumstances placed before the Prussian king and cabinet was how to get out of Hanover without disgrace, or remain in it with peace and honor.

Let us take up the history of Prussia’s stay in Hanover from April to November, 1801, from that point of view which will at least help us to understand the attitude of the majority of the powers interested in ousting her, while we leave the presentation of the evidence to throw what light it may on the motives controlling the action of Prussia in these months.

The summer of 1801 is a period that any self-respecting German may well wish to blot out of the history of the Fatherland. War had at last ceased for a time on the continent. The treaty of Lunéville [9 February 1801] gave Austria and the weary Empire the long desired and long deferred peace. But to what purpose did the renewal of amicable relations between the European courts serve? The answer is the record of a traffic in lands and peoples such as Europe had never before seen. The first year of the new century saw in its fullest fruition the eighteenth century idea that princes might barter in peoples, and measure and apportion countries by acreage and population. Most shameful of all, the crowded mart in which German sovereigns traded was on foreign soil — in the |241| capital of the French. Secularization and indemnification proved to be two ideas more demoralizing to the Germany of 1801 than any other propaganda of Revolutionary France. They were the rope with which the already moribund Empire might end its career.

It is the fear that she is to form part of the Prussian indemnification which haunts Hanover during the period of Prussian occupation. It is this interpretation that England, Russia and Austria are all too ready to put on Frederick William’s delay in evacuating the Electorate. It is the desirable indemnity towards which Napoleon and self-interest pushed the group of advisers next to the king in Berlin. Might not the statesmanship of opportunism urge the ruler of Prussia to accept the rich return that occasion had brought within his grasp?

In the secret articles of the treaty of August 5, 1796, Prussia had received the promise of complete indemnity for its lost trans-Rhenane provinces. Since then the question had never ceased to interest the Prussian cabinet. After due consideration the king of Prussia, on the advice of Haugwitz following the plan urged by Hardenberg, had asked Napoleon to assign him his indemnity |242| in Franconia, that is, the bishoprics of Bamberg and Wurzburg. Napoleon delayed on the pretext that he wished to learn the opinion of Russia in the matter. Prussia, fearful that Austria was being favored, increased her claims and renewed her urgency. The French leaders had a different view of their policy in Germany than that maintained up to 1797. Instead of increasing Prussia and creating a balance to Austrian power, they had felt the reasoning of such statesmen as Sieyes, who urged that French interest lay in building up a number of small states which could be formed into confederations under French influence. Russia had made known its views in Berlin on March 25, when Krüdener had presented to Haugwitz the idea that Prussia was to seek its indemnity in Hanover. This was the opportunity the French had long waited. With Russian cooperation they might well hope to force Prussia to seat itself forever in the German lands of the English royal family. Despite the tempting offers of Hanover, Prussia continued to urge the powers to assign its indemnity in Franconia. On the thirteenth of April, Talleyrand told the Prussian ambassador, Lucchesini, that Napoleon did not approve of Prussia’s petition to be allowed to occupy the Franconian bishoprics. Napoleon, hoping for the new Czar’s cooperation in this part of Paul’s indemnity plan, urged that Prussia accept Hanover as a recompense |243| for the loss of its provinces on the left bank of the Rhine.

There was much in the situation that seemingly made it easy for Prussia to yield to the formal offer of Hanover made from St. Petersburg and then from Paris. It hardly needed a Talleyrand to point out to such a group as Haugwitz, Lombard, Hardenberg, and Kockeritz the advantages of acquiring such an increase of power and territory in North Germany. The idea was not new in Berlin, and before the occupation there had been influential advisers who felt Prussia should enter Hanover never to withdraw. Their logic was strengthened by the easy opportunity which Napoleon’s offer gave them of shifting the responsibility. If France offered Hanover, why not accept it, said this group. Besides the manifest increase in territory, Hanover would serve to unite the scattered Prussian possessions in lower Saxony and Westphalia. It needs no direct quotations from the |244| political discussions of that time to make it clear how strong a case such a group might present.

There were features of the case not fully known to Napoleon which gave Prussia reason to pause and consider before accepting Hanover as an indemnity. It is a tribute to the well-meaning character of King Frederick William that one must recall first of all his solemn assurances to Prince Adolphus and Lord Carysfort that he had no ulterior aims in occupying Hanover. The promises which he had then made, the king might be expected to keep, even if his opposition to the aggressive elements in his cabinet had not been fortified by the attitude of England and Russia and the vigorous protests of the Electorate itself against Prussian occupation after the Maritime League was practically dissolved.

Since it was Russia whose precipitancy had put Hanover into Prussia’s hands, it was natural that the Berlin Cabinet should look to Alexander I. to support them in a step which had been taken with a view to treating Hanover as a part of the indemnity fund.

Their fears that the death of Paul had deranged all plans fathered by him did not long lack confirmation. The young Czar [Alexander I.] found in his own realm all the problems |245| he desired to solve, and was in no mood to continue a hopeless crusade for the maritime principles which his father had espoused. Sweden and Denmark had already been humbled by the fleet of Parker and Nelson, then on its way up the Baltic. Alexander hastily opened communication with these commanders and with their government. Negotiations were soon opened by England through Lord St. Helens in St. Petersburg, and Prussia, without a single war vessel, found herself the unsupported defender of maritime neutrality.

The answer which Haugwitz made to the French ambassador would naturally, under the circumstances detailed above, be fully as cautious as the reply given Paul when he made a similar offer two months before. In March, Prussia could have counted on two great powers favoring Hanover as a Prussian acquisition. Now (May) there was only France to look to, or rather the hard cold egoism of Napoleon, who might make them his tool only to abandon them at a critical juncture. Haugwitz let it be seen that nothing would suit the king of Prussia better than Hanover as his indemnity, but his acceptance of the French offer was conditional. Prussia was still occupying Hanover as a pledge for the protection of English commerce, Haugwitz said, and would retain it as her indemnity if England persisted in her opposition to the principles of the Maritime League after France had made |246| it clear to England that such obstinacy would result in the Prussian retention of Hanover. As such action of Prussia’s might lead to difficulty, King Frederick William was not ready to involve himself unless he was sure Napoleon was so in earnest about the plan that he would not be deterred by possible consequences in carrying it through. All the conditions attached to the French offer are swallowed without a grimace. If Hanover falls to Prussia as a result of the French action, her gratitude will be boundless. Such in substance was the answer that Prussia made mutatis mutandis to both Russia and France when they offered her Hanover. The reply to Russia, reaching St. Petersburg several days after Paul’s death, had been passed over in silence by the new Czar and his ministry. There can be no more satisfactory comment on Prussia’s attitude in the whole matter than that made by the disgusted Bonaparte. “The First Consul thinks he sees in the answer of the Berlin Cabinet,” said Talleyrand to Lucchesini, “a desire to have, and a fear to show this desire, a will subordinated to reservations that are rather embarrassing. One would say that you desire what France offers you, but you wish France to take the lead and secure it for you.” One might have replied that Napoleon could not object if the power which had found itself a cat’s-paw for Russia and France showed that it had learned, and wished to practice, this lesson of its experience.

Meanwhile Haugwitz, in reply to the clamoring of the Hanoverian Regency and the inquiries of Carysfort, shifted, with a suspicious readiness, the ground on which he based a continued occupation. He first urged the |247| continuance of the neutrality of North Germany after the Maritime League was inactive and then gave the fumbling excuse that Prussia could do nothing towards removing its troops until it had notification from Russia that friendly relations had been resumed with England. Allusions were made to possible dangers from the French, but that was scarcely urged as a reason. Meanwhile, as has been pointed out, the Berlin cabinet was listening to Napoleon’s offers of Hanover, and hoping that England might be brought to sacrifice Hanover in return for some grant of colonial possessions. Who was to pay this price for Prussia’s indemnity does not appear. In London, Jacobi was following his instructions and dodging all discussion of Hanover. Plainly, the government in Berlin meant to maintain its advantageous position in Hanover until something turned up. They were counting on the weakness of the new Czar’s policy and the necessity in Russia of bringing order out of the chaos created by the late Czar. England, too, had seldom been known to exert itself on behalf of King George’s German states. Austria, by its own confession, was too weak to interfere with Prussia’s ambitious plans. To that |248| increasing group among the king’s advisers who desired to retain Hanover, the outlook must have seemed at first rather hopeful. If England and Russia were really indifferent to the annexation of Hanover, France eager for it, and Austria weak enough to feel that she must make the most of the inevitable by accepting all that was offered her in return, the Electorate would be left to face its fate single-handed. King Frederick William’s sense of honor remained to be dealt with, but that problem had been solved before.

The summer of 1801 was to reveal something seldom paralleled in the history of the one hundred and twenty-five years of Hanoverian-English connection. For once, the English cabinet, with Lord Hawkesbury as Secretary for Foreign Affairs, directed its policy with a view to the preservation of the Electorate, which was now unjustly suffering for England’s opinions on international law. On the eighth of May the English ministry for the first time mentions Hanover in its despatches to the ambassador in Berlin. The able and disinterested Carysfort, who had already raised his voice in Hanover’s behalf, was to convey to Prussia the assurance that there could be no resumption of friendly relations between England and Prussia |249| “as long as his Prussian Majesty’s conduct is in the least degree equivocal respecting Hanover.” Every consideration of honor and policy was put at Carysfort’s disposal, that he might the better accomplish his end. The directions could have been sent to no more earnest friend of Hanover than Lord Carysfort. From this day until the twenty-fifth of October, when his last official despatch conveys the news that the Prussian troops are ordered to leave Hanover, the activity of Lord Carysfort in behalf of the Electorate is incessant. To his mind, “the government of the united kingdom was bound by every principle of Honor and Policy to support and vindicate by the exertion of all its Power and resources, a people invaded in such a manner and upon such pretences as had been alleged in the case of Hanover.” He supported with vigor and persistency the protests of the Hanoverian Regency against the Prussian financial exactions in raising support for their force of about 25,000 men. He saw Haugwitz often in the name of the king of Great Britain, and drove the minister from point to point in his shifting defence of the Prussian retention of the Electorate. Early convinced of Frederick William’s good intentions, he came to fear that the |250| cabinet had only used the Maritime Convention as an excuse for the annexation plans they cherished. Intermittently and weakly supported by the Russian ambassador, Krüdener, all the protests of Carysfort and von Reden were unsuccessful in getting the Prussian government to declare its intentions, or even arrange for a continued occupation under a joint agreement between England and Hanover. The failure is to be attributed less to the zeal of the English ministry and its representative than to two other noteworthy causes. As Russian urgency had been foremost in pushing Frederick William III. into the occupation, equally vigorous Russian action might have hurried Prussia out of the Electorate. It was this withdrawal of Russia from European interests, and particularly from a situation she had created, |251| that nullified Carysfort’s efforts. The second reason for Prussia’s hesitancy in giving England any pledges, or entering into any agreement concerning the integrity of Hanover, was the fear that England was seeking to draw her into entanglements that would excite Napoleon’s wrath. It was a reasonable fear, and the action of England in its various proposals concerning the evacuation or further occupation of Hanover, bore sometimes the stamp of activity in the Electorate’s behalf, with a view to a future English-Prussian rapprochement against France.

With the conclusion of the Russian-English negotiations from which Prussia had been excluded, there was a change in the attitude of both Russia and Prussia. The Prussian government was now left with no excuse for continued occupation except to exclude a possible French invasion, a danger which had been hinted at, but which does not appear in the foreground until all |252| other excuses have failed one by one. Coincident with the disappearance of Prussia’s proclaimed grounds for continuing to hold Hanover came greater efforts on behalf of Hanover by the Russian ambassador, Krüdener. It needed but a hint to this strenuous envoy, who had been waiting a chance to prove himself as serviceable to the new regime in St. Petersburg as he had been to the ministry of Paul I. Soon he was fairly outdoing Carysfort. His readiness to present joint notes with Carysfort, and to confer with and advise von Reden, marked not only the stimulated activity of a single diplomat, but the resumption by Russia of her normal policy in North German affairs. The blindness with which Paul had thrown Hanover into Prussia’s lap — a gift that not only enriched Prussia immoderately, but greatly endangered the Russian influence in East Frisia, Oldenburg, Mecklenburg |253| and the Hanseatic cities — was succeeded by the policy of balancing Austria against Prussia while keeping the latter from becoming too powerful in North Germany. The net result of the constant protests and threats of the Regency in Hanover, backed up by the representations of Carysfort for England and Krüdener for Russia, was to make it as hard for the Prussian cabinet to keep Frederick William’s troops in Hanover as it had been to get the king to order them sent there. The last vestige of a reason based on obligations to its northern ally disappeared, when, early in July, Krüdener |254| was instructed “to express to the King, his Imperial Majesty’s wish that the restoration of Hanover may be effected.”

Whatever hopes of retaining Hanover Haugwitz and his associates had cherished, they must now have perceived difficulties that lay in the way of their realization. The situation was an anxious one, for they had staked their hope on a rich indemnity for the comparatively trivial losses beyond the Rhine. They had chosen wealthy bishoprics in Franconia only to have them put beyond their grasp, while Hanover, an unexpected plum, was placed within their reach. Now that, too, was slipping from them. The king, disgusted with the whole indemnity business, was becoming more unmanageable as England and Russia pressed for at least a declaration of his intentions in continuing the Hanoverian occupation; moreover, Russia was not now likely to forward a plan that called for any indemnity approaching the value of Hanover; the French, long suspicious of a Prussian-English understanding concerning the continued occupation |255| of Hanover, were growing harder to satisfy and manifesting less likelihood of giving their support to an extensive indemnity for Prussia. Lastly, the renewal of friendly relations with Austria in order to effect a division of the promised spoils had not ended favorably for projects on Hanover. It again appears in the accounts given by the Austrian agent, Count Stadion, that Prussia would have been glad of Hanover above every other recompense, and that Austria wanted Bavaria as badly. But neither power played its game with an open hand. Neither would take the odium of proposing what they both wished, for fear the other might only be drawing them out in order to discredit them in the eyes of the rest of Germany. The crisis in the situation came the first week in August. After several months of feinting and dodging, the Prussian cabinet was brought up with a halt and forced to reveal its hand, to make known its intentions as to Hanover and its plans for an indemnity. To this result several influences contributed.

The English ministry had remained unaffected by Haugwitz’s assurances that there was a pressing danger from the French if Prussia should evacuate Hanover. King George had in no way indicated that he desired a continuation of the occupation, and Frederick William had declared, despite Haugwitz’s opposition, that this occupation would cease if the king of England desired it. |256| The English cabinet, though anxious to get a hold on Prussia, rejected the idea of paying her subsidies for continuing an occupation which originated in hostility to Great Britain, and they made the renewal of English intercourse with Prussia depend on the evacuation of the Electorate. Krüdener, on behalf of Russia, though more readily convinced of the French danger, was now conferring daily with Carysfort. The Austrian negotiations had failed to bring the two German rivals to mutual good will. The Regency at Hanover had on July 25, declared that the support of the Prussian troops would cease August 21, and Gen. Kleist had threatened to forage if supplies were not forthcoming. Napoleon, convinced that the Prussian occupation of the mouths of the Elbe, Ems and Weser meant no real hostility to England, was formulating plans which, if executed, would |257| only increase Prussia’s embarrassment. Not even the neutrality system, which had gathered the minor powers of North Germany around her, remained to conceal the weakness of her position. She stood practically alone in Europe.

August 8, 1801, marks the turning point in the history of the complications of this year. First, Prussia, after much wavering, declared its intentions as to Hanover in most unequivocal language, though refusing to enter into any written agreement with Great Britain as to the further occupation necessitated by the French danger. King Frederick William let it be known that “he abhorred the thought of usurping King George’s Electoral Dominions upon any pretext whatever,” and that “his certain knowledge of the French intention to invade the Electorate when the Prussians should be withdrawn was the sole reason of his ordering them to remain.” Second, it removed the chief reason for doubting the sincerity of its good intentions in Hanover by specifying at the Diet in Regensburg the indemnity it desired. Third, it was successful in convincing von Reden, the Hanoverian envoy, that the danger from France was so pressing that he should take advantage of the permission the Regency gave him, proceed to Hanover, and lay the necessity of continued occupation before the King-Elector’s advisers. Lastly, on the day which the despatches of von Reden and Carysfort mark as revealing Prussia’s purposes, Talleyrand, speaking for the First Consul, despatched the draft of a convention with Prussia |258| which called for the remission into French hands of the electorate of Hanover.

The details of the four important considerations thus conjoined can only be sketched. The declaration of King Frederick William’s good intentions towards Hanover was produced by the combined Hanoverian-English pressure. The situation late in July had become so critical that Haugwitz indicated through Baron Krüdener, the Russian ambassador, that, in order to satisfy the Regency which had refused further supplies, he would be willing to enter into special engagements to defend the Electorate and to withdraw when King George should request it. Hopeful of having at last attained his double object of securing Hanover’s safety and establishing an English-Prussian understanding, Carysfort drafted a series of four articles in accordance with what Baron Krüdener said Haugwitz would be willing to accept. But Haugwitz had gone farther than his royal master would follow. Frederick William stood on his dignity and refused any written guarantee, holding that his word freely pledged to Prince Adolphus and confirmed by his ministry’s assurances of good intentions must suffice. Though convinced that there was a real danger from the French, Carysfort felt that the failure of his treaty proposals gave him no excuse for ceasing to obey the instructions laid down by the English ministry. Instead of helping Haugwitz placate von Reden and the Hanoverian Regency, Carysfort insisted with them that the Electorate |259| should be evacuated. Most uncomfortable of all, he had at his command the services of the Russian minister. The longer Prussia delayed revealing her intentions, the greater was the distrust of these three powers, and the more insistent their demands. August 8, the dispatches of von Reden and Carysfort show Prussia’s concerted effort to get into shape to face the danger from France. Baron Jacobi, then in Berlin on leave of absence, went to both Carysfort and von Reden, and assured them in the king’s name that the king had but one purpose, and that was to hold Hanover for its own good and restore it when the danger was past. These assurances the king repeated in person to Carysfort. At the same time Baron Krüdener, probably at Haugwitz’s suggestion, showed the English ambassador all the correspondence between St. Petersburg and Berlin on the matter of Hanover. This confidence furnished to Carysfort further proof of the steadiness with which |260| King Frederick William had asserted fair purposes as the basis of his conduct. Von Reden was attacked as skillfully. Lützow, the minister of Oldenburg, who had served as a go-between for England and Russia in March, wrote in behalf of the Czar and Lord St. Helens an assurance of Prussia’s good intentions and France’s evil designs. Other good friends of Hanover, such as the Bishop of Lübeck, and the Dukes of Holstein and Mecklenburg-Schwerin, represented the fear of Augereau’s army as well-grounded. Hanover would be inevitably lost if the support of the Prussian troops ceased. Haugwitz, Krüdener and Carysfort all urged that von Reden should go to Hanover and lay before the Regency the many considerations that necessitated a continuance of the supplies for the army. As a final stroke, the man whose uncertain diplomacy had engendered the distrust that was now hampering every move he might hope to make, put himself on record as agreeing with all that his royal master had promised. The faithful old Deluc, whom Haugwitz had used for the last four years as a confidant and messenger in matters between England and Prussia, was summoned to Charlottenburg. There Haugwitz talked over with him the whole subject of Prussian policy towards France and England, and allowed Deluc to make a minute of the conversation, which, |261| after Haugwitz had corrected it, Deluc transmitted to Carysfort. The concerted effort was successful. Von Reden was able now to satisfy the Regency that they should support the occupation yet a while longer. The English and Russian ministers might at least be expected to grant the Prussian monarch a respite while he faced the difficulty Napoleon’s plans were preparing for him.

The French had applauded the occupation of the Electorate, only to be disappointed in all the results |262| flowing from it. English commerce went on undisturbed by the Prussian troops at the mouths of the Elbe, Weser and Ems. The flimsiness of the Maritime League and the pseudo-hostility against a power whose representative never left Berlin, could not but have been plain to Napoleon. Suspicion that Prussia was playing a double game in its attitude toward England was confirmed |263| by the conditions under which Prussia had said she would accept Hanover as her indemnity. August 17, the demand already referred to, that Hanover should be turned over to France, was presented in Berlin by Beurnonville. Weak as was Prussia from the military point of view, Haugwitz preferred to risk the results of Napoleon’s anger rather than embroil himself with England, Russia and Austria by such a disloyal act. Haugwitz, of whom an arch-enemy said that as a school-boy he had acquired the habit of lying so that he had never been cured, blandly pointed out to Beurnonville that Prussia, which still firmly adhered to the principles of the Maritime League, must have some pledge by which to guarantee its commerce against English excesses. Other plausible excuses were added, but they did not conceal the fact that the last of the Northern powers which six months before were in seeming co-operation with Napoleon’s plan had decidedly withdrawn itself from French domination.

|264| The successful issue of the French-English negotiations in London brought to an end this complication of Hanoverian-Prussian interests. October 1, 1801, M. Otto signed in behalf of France the preliminaries of a truce, whose terms were fixed at Amiens the following year. After waiting a short time, in order that the |265| French might not be strengthened in their suspicion that the occupation was due to an English-Prussian agreement, the Prussian troops were withdrawn from the Electorate (Nov. 6), and amid indescribable public rejoicing the Hanoverian troops returned to occupy their posts. After seven months of nominal suspension the Regency took up its normal functions and the connection with the minister and king in London was officially resumed.

As an international episode the Prussian occupation of Hanover was ended with the parting exchange of civilities between General Kleist and the Regency, but its effects survived in the relations between the states they represented. If the treaty of Lunéville had not ended all reason for continuing the Neutrality System, the Prussian occupation at least, had made it impossible. The confidence of the smaller states was weakened, Hanover was embittered, suspicious and burdened with |266| debt. The Hanoverian contingent had been furloughed, so that with the withdrawal of the Prussian troops the Observation Army was practically dissolved. The Electorate had again been the victim of its connection with England, and the provincial estates were not slow in showing their discontent and the particularistic spirit which was too often substituted by them for patriotism. Most serious of all, Prussia had discovered her weakness to the world. The fact that a Prussian occupation of Hanover had maintained the neutrality of the Electorate |267| by saving it from a French invasion, was not the impression that had been made on the Europe of 1801. Diplomats talked openly of other motives not so honorable; they saw Prussia as the tool of Russia and France laying hands on the supporting column of its own policy since the treaty of Basel. After having advertised to the world for six years that Hanover ought not to be treated as an English continental possession, Prussia had been compelled to occupy the Electorate because Paul I. and Napoleon wished to punish England. She had continued that occupation long after the circumstances producing it had ceased to exist. Prussia had meanwhile solicited a large indemnity at the hands of the powers whose mandates it had obeyed. These are the facts as the Europe of that day saw them, and Prussia, her king and his ministers were judged accordingly. No wonder that the whole matter had left in the mind of the Prussian king a pronounced aversion to further interference in Hanoverian affairs. Conscious of his own good intentions, and ever holding in mind the pledges he had made to Prince Adolphus, he experienced the deepest chagrin at seeing his motives aspersed. It was with tears in his eyes that he consented to the occupation, but the deepest humiliation had come when he found that Austria, England and Hanover itself regarded his self-sacrificing act as the result of an insatiable greed for territory.

|268| But here we are suggesting a line of thought that leads to the serious events of 1803, when all the powers whom we have seen so active in Hanover’s behalf stood by in irresolution or indifference, while Napoleon drew the timid and wavering Electorate into his net. We may, then, properly view the Prussian occupation of 1801, as the prelude to the French occupation of June, 1803, which itself brought such disaster upon Europe. It is in the story of this final catastrophe that the account of Hanoverian-Prussian relations between 1795 and 1803 will find its fitting conclusion.


[*] Guy Stanton Ford, “Hanover and Prussia: 1795–1803; A Study in Neutrality,” Studies in History, Economics and Public Law 18, no. 3 (New York 1903): 4–316; here chap. 7, “The Prussian Occupation of Hanover in 1801,” and chap. 8, “Prussian Occupation of Hanover (continued) — The Evacuation,” 192–268; Ford’s footnotes are omitted here. Pagination as in original. Back.

Translation © 2015 Doug Stott