TALLEYRAND Charles Maurice - Letter Signed 1801 requesting help with a parcel held at Customs
Charles Maurice TALLEYRAND (1754-1838)Letter Signed (“ch mau Talleyrand”) to Citizen Gaudin, Minister of Finance, asking him to intercede so that a shipment from the Netherlands for his personal use may be released by Customs holding it on the basis that it might be from England.
1 page 4to in French with integral blank leaf, Paris, 18 Vendemiaire an 10 [10 October 1801].
Trans: “Some time ago, I asked one of my friends living in Amsterdam to send me, for my own use, a few ells [a measure slightly more than a metre] of holland canvas. He sent me two parcels, one no. 32249 containing 54½ ells; the other no. 32250 containing 56 ells. My friend, who is not a merchant, neglected a few formalities, which has resulted in these two parcels being held by border Customs at Aaterbrug. [possibly Aardenburg]. I am far from blaming this vigilance; but as its purpose is to prevent the introduction of English merchandise or English commerce into France, I hope, my dear colleague, that you will be willing, under the circumstances, to be satisfied with the assurance that I give you that these two parcels of canvas are genuinely from Holland and that they have been sent to me by a Dutchman. I beg you, therefore, to be kind enough to give the orders so that they may reach me.”
Heavy tariffs on British goods were used extensively by France during the Napoleonic wars, and even the 1802 Treaty of Amiens, which brought a brief respite in the fighting was to give Britain few, if any, trading advantages. By 1806, the Continental System, effectively blocking English trade with most of continental Europe, resulted in a painful drop in English trade with the continent.
As Napoleon’s Foreign Minister, Talleyrand could expect to be treated with special courtesy, and indeed an annotation at the top left of the letter indicates that the packages were indeed ordered to be released by customs.
A collector has pencilled in the date of the letter, incorrectly, below the original date given in the revolutionary calendar.
Evenly, slightly browned, but perfectly legible.
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