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CLARKE Henri Duc de Feltre - Autograph Letter Signed 1807 about intercepted letters

  • £575.00

Henri Jacques Guillaume CLARKE, Duc de Feltre (1765-1818)

Autograph Letter Signed (“Clarke”) as Governor of Berlin to Marshal Soult, saying that he is enclosing the translation of three intercepted letters [not present] and quoting part of the the troubling content of yet another intercepted letter.

1 page folio in French with integral blank leaf, Berlin, 14 August 1807.                   

Writing just one month after Napoleon and Alexander I had met in highly theatrical circumstances in a pavilion hurriedly erected on a raft on the river Nieman, Clarke expresses his alarm at the implications of some intercepted letters.

Trans: “M. Daru having held back the post, I will take advantage of this delay to send Your Excellency the translations of the three intercepted letters which I mentioned in today’s letter. I find that another letter in English, German, and Italian from M. de Scheppeler, which has not yet been translated, includes the following:

“The King and Queen (of Prussia) have shown themselves by their conduct to be Princes in a manner [dissimilar to] that the feeble Emperor of Russia [Alexander I] who, guided by traitors, has, by this scandalous peace [the Treaty of Tilsit] (is it not indeed scandalous, and dishonourable for Russia) lost his crown and – his head, etc.”

I am struck by these words and even more those of the conspirators which M. de Scheppeller uses in one of his letters. I feel that this has something in common with one of the English gazettes which I have just received and of which I enclose an excerpt. The death of Paul I [murdered father of Alexander I] comes to mind. The circumstances and the opinions in the newspapers are the same. You may well feel, M. le Maréchal, that there is not a moment to lose to warn the Emperor of Russia and General Savary, although the latter may already have left Petersburg?

By the Treaty of Tilsit, signed in July 1807, Alexander I abandoned his previous alliance with the British and other enemies of France. Indeed, he embraced Napoleon, and greeted him with the assertion that he hated the English as much as Napoleon himself hated them. His admiration and affection for the French emperor seemed overwhelming, though to what extent this was genuine is very much open to question. Alexander was a master of byzantine politics.

Prussia, on the other hand, was humiliated, stripped of much of its territory. Beautiful, courageous and determined, Queen Louise of Prussia pleaded with Napoleon on behalf of her country, but to no avail.

It would appear from this letter that Clarke feared that Russians opposed to the French alliance would deal with Alexander as they had with his father, Paul I, assassinated in 1801 after pursuing policies unpopular with the nobility.

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