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nations. It is doubtless unnecessary to make any reserve with respect to any particular demands of sums of money, moveable goods, or other payments to which fome states may be bound with regard to the French republic. · The present subject only relates to the German Empire, and by no means to particular engage. ments which may have been contracted, and which in their nature have no reference to the Empire. The ministers plenipotentiary of the French republic can perceive no well-founded ob. jections that can be made to these demands, which are equally moderate and proper. They expect a speedy answer. The time for delay is paft. Rastadt, 14th of Floreal (May 3), 6th year of the French republic.
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Conclufum of the Deputation of the Empire at Rastadt on the 14th of
May, being an Answer to the Demands made by the French Plenipotentiaries in their last Note.
THE deputation of the Empire has seen with pleasure, in the last note of the ministers plenipotentiary of the French republic of the 3d of May, that the republic was convinced, as well as the deputation, of the necessity of establishing the mass of losses, before any determination was made respecting the mass of indemnities; which, after the previous declarations of the deputation, were to be limited as much as possible. But, on the other hand, the deputation were much afflicted at finding, against their expectation, in that note, fresh pretensions, and such, that their mass surpasses, even with respect to the Empire, the sacrifices to which they have been forced to consent, and which they have considered as the most grievous and the greatest by which the Empire could purchase peace ; pretensions which, besides, would evidently dettroy the future safety of Germany.
The deputation of the Empire are about to communicate to the ministers plenipotentiary of the French republic all the reasons founded in the nature of things, which oppose their adhering to those demands; they will also reply in a detailed manner to the rest of the contents of the said note, full of confidence as they are in the moderation and justice of the French government. They are convinced that the French ministers themselves will find these reasons and details so evident, that they will on their side approximate to the propositions of the deputation, and thereby operate a speedy conciliation, which has been so long the object of the desires of Germany, and for the facilitating of which the deputation of the Empire have resolved to make such painful sacrifices, Tt 2
To follow in some mcasure the order observed in the last note of the French ministers, it will first be necessary to develope the manner in which those ministers express themselves relative to the left bank of the Rhine. They will recollect that in the note of the uth of March, the deputation acceded to the basis of peace, by which the course of the Rhine Mould form the limit between the two states, only with the reservation that there should be an understanding upon the modifications contained in the eighteen articles of the note of the 3d of March, and that the two other previous conditions of the note of the oth of March should be admitted. Thus, in consenting finally to admit the course of the Rhine for a limit, it was neceflarily understood that (conformably to the principles which have in all times conitituted the basis of treaties between people) the river should belong in common to the two nations which it divided, or that an ideal line thould form the frontier between thein. The deputation of the Empire, faithful to this principle of the right of nations, in the eighteen articles transmitted on the 3d of March, have not only accepted the middle of the course of the Rhine for a liinit, as lias been the custom in the ancient treaties of peace; but they have besides proposed, in a more precise manner, that the 18th article of the peace of Ryswick, and the 6th article of the peace of Baden, ihould be admitted as a basis in the ulterior negotiations. But the ministers plenipotentiary of the French republic, in their notes, speaking of the fixing of the future limits between Germany anil France, have only made a general mention of the Rhine and its course; and in the note of 22d Pluviose (February 10), they have said formally, the ceflion of what is beyond the Rhine, that is the basis.
The ministers plenipotentiary have not altered their language in the sequel, when the deputation, to prevent all inisunderstanding, remarked formally in their ulterior communications, that by the course of the Rhine, they could only understand the middle of the Rhine. Moreover, this acceptation was admitted in the note of the 25th Ventose (March 15). The deputation, therefore, cannot persuade themselves that the ministers plenipoteniary had it not in view, on their fide, to take the middle of the Rhine as a limit between the two nations; and they were consequently the more astonished that, by their last note, they demand for the French republic all the isles of the Rhine. The greater part of those isles belong to the neighbouring coinmunes, who make use of them as common property': fome of them also belong to private persons. Towards the middle of the Rhine, several families possess them by title of fief, and the smaller sæt are in the class of appusienances to the princes. A great number of these isles are inhabited, and consist of woods, meadows, and cultivated grounds; and, taken together, they would form a
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on the Lower Bull on the Upper the Rhine, has is Tha
very considerable object. In several places, particularly on the fide of the right bank, it would be impossible to collect the fascines necessary to construct and keep up epis upon the banks, if the illes of the Rhine, with their woods, were lost to the right side., This object, then, is of great importance to Germany, and the loss of all these illes would, in a commercial, territorial, and military point of view, be a very essential aggrandizement to the French republic. However inclined the deputation may be, by their known principles, to yield to France such of the illes as may be on her'fide, it ought nevertheless to be established, as a reserve, that the illes which are on the right side should remain under the dominion of the Empire, and the sovereigns whose estates are in the neighbourhood ; adding, formally, that private property, and their limits upon the illes on both sides, thall remain inviolable. In the places where the river does not change, or seldom changes its bed, that is, towards the middle of its course, and particularly on the Lower Rhine, that line of demarkation would have no inconvenience. But on the Upper Rhine, the Thalweg, or, properly speaking, the navigable part of the Rhine, has determined that line of sovereignty ; and by the direction of this Thalweg the limits from Huninguen to the Palatine countries have been fixed, in more recent times, between French commissioners and those of the states of the Empire : so that the property of the inhabitants of the right bank, upon the isles which, by the changing of the Thalweg, fall on the left side, would pass under the French doininion ; and, on the other hand, that which would fall on the right side would pass under the dominion of Germany. It would then be necessary to determine respecting the isles situated on the left side of the Rhine, and which have not hitherto belonged to the French republic, whether the middle of the course, or the Thalweg, shall form the line between Germany and France. In the first case, the ideal line of demarkation will intersect several of the isles, and then it would be more just that, in the detailed arrangements adopted upon the subject, these isles should be ceded wholly, alternatively, to one or other party.
If these reasons evidently prove how important it is for Germany, that the exact middle of the Rhine should form the limit between the two nations, the French legation will judge to what point the deputation of the Empire must have been disagreeably struck by the new pretensions contained in their last note, that the forts of Kehl and Cassel (the latter has never been considered as a dependence of the fortress of Mentz), as well as fifty acres of ground opposite the old bridge of Hupinguen, with the roads necessary to reach it, should be ceded to the French republic; that the bridge between the two Brisacs should be re-established, and the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein razed.
In their note of the 8th Pluviose (28th January), the French ministers, to explain the reason of demanding the Rhine for a
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limit, made use of the following expressions : “ The safety of the republic requires the limit of the Rhine : the tranquillity of the Empire rolicies in a still stronger manner those limits." They allerted, at the same time, that this demand « rested upon a much more imperious motive, a motive common to the two powers, that of providing, by invariable limits, for their future tranquillity.”
In the note of the 15th Pluviose (13th February), the limit of the Rhine is called a just bafis, suitable and useful to the two States : and in the note of the 2d Ventose (20th February), a fuitable and necessary basis, which guarantees the future tran. quillity of the two states. The note of the French ministers of the 14th Ventose (March 4) agrees upon this point with the preceding : after having spoken of the Rhine as the basis of peace, it is formally added-Convenience, justice, neceflity, have demonstrated it in the preceding notes, the common interest of the two nations, &c. And when afterwards the deputation of the Empire, in their note of the 5th April (16th Germinal), had repeatedly demanded, that the French ministers should declare that they would make no ulterior demand upon the Empire, it was answered, under date of the 19th Germinal (April 8): “Upon the second proposal contained in the note of the 21st Ventofe (March il), the ministers plenipotentiary declare, that they have already explained themselves in a manner to satisfy every reasonable mind, when they said, that in the course of the ulterior discussions they would refuse nothing that should be just, and fhould accord with the common interest of the two nations :" which supposes also, that they would only make such demands as would be admillible.
From these declarations it could not be imagined that the proposition to establish the Rhine as a limit, could have any other object than that of rendering that limit invariable, of preventing thereby all the inconveniences to which frontiers not marked by nature are exposed (note of the second Ventore, Feb. 20); to infure in a belier manner tranquillity for the future, and to operate the common advantage of the two nations. The propofitions which have just been made to the deputation are wholly opposite 10 these views, which could alone have deterinined them to accede to the first basis of peace; the Rhine would thereby ceafe to form the limit ; there would be, on the right side of the river, feveral points of contact which would be eminently injurious to the maintenance of tranquillity. Finally, if they consider in the demands maile the cession of the strong places, the proportion between France and Germany becomes still more unequal. The left bank ot the Rhine, protected by the most important fortrelles, opposes an jin penetrable barrier to all hostile attempts which might be made. The repose and safety of Germany, on the contrary, would be continually exposed. Points fortified upon the right side would make it fear a neighbour continually ready to attack it, would destroy its military integrity, and fetter its independence, upon the maintenance of which the French government thinks that it is conformable to its politics to set a value : the more so, as the demolition of fort Ehrenbreitstein is demanded, as well as the se-establishment of the bridge between the two Brisacs, with fifty acres of ground on the right side, opposite to the old bridge of Huninguen ; yet the first of these bridges has been suppressed by two treaties of peace. With respect to the destruction of Ehrenbreitstein no equivalent is offered, and consequently this latter object cannot be considered as a thing in which regard has been had to the common interest of the two nations.
All the reasons that have been adduced are, without doubt, too evident for the French ministers plenipotentiary not to recognise the validity of them, and to unite with the deputation, in order that the Rhine may form in future the line of separation between the two states, and that neither of the parties may extend their domination to the opposite shore. This principle being established, the deputation are entirely disposed to agree upon the reservations, means, and precautions, by which the two contracting parties may remain tranquil relative to their respective safety. This is, with. out doubt, the most moderate proposition that a nation can make, which, after an unfortunate war, seeks in peace no other happiness than its future tranquillity. The deputation of the Empire, on their side, are ready to listen to all other propositions that may be looked upon as the natural effects of the establishment of the limit of the Rhine, and of the dominion in common of that river. The proposition of a towing-way being a difpofition respectively useful, which can make no change with regard to property, jurifdiction, and sovereignty, will consequently expe. rience no difficulty in the execution, according to che neceflity and poflibility of the case. The deputation consider as equally suitable, and in conformity to the i8th article of the treaty of Ryswick, and the 6th article of the treaty of Baden, the propoforcun respecting the keeping up of the river : and the assurance which follows it is so much the more agreeable, as buildings upon the water on the left bank of the Rhine, would be injurious in different places to the countries on the right bank, whose soil is less elevated. It is understood also for this reason, that the prin vate persons in poffeffion of land shall preserve the faculty of being able io form dykes, and make other dispositions to prevent their property from being inundated, provided these works hurt not the course of the river nor the navigation. But as in several parts of the right bank stones are entirely wanting, and other materials ne. cessary for water buildings, and as the left bank, on the contrary, pollefies thein in abundance, both parties thall be entitled to supply