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Freiherr von Edelsheim, by Blackmask Online.

The daughter of Cesarion, Adelaide Fredericke married Georg Ludwig Freiherr von Edelsheim. The following text describes Edelsheim's politicing at the time of Bonaparte.

Memoirs of the Court of St. Cloud, v2

A Gentleman at Paris to a Nobleman in London

This page copyright © 2001 Blackmask Online.

http://www.blackmask.com

This text was produced by David Widger  widger@cecomet.net

1805

MY LORD:—The amiable and accomplished Amelia Frederique, Princess Dowager of the late Electoral Prince, Charles Louis of Baden, born a Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, has procured the Electoral House of Baden the singular honour of giving consorts to three reigning and Sovereign Princes,—to an Emperor of Russia, to a King of Sweden, and to the Elector of Bavaria. Such a distinction, and such alliances, called the attention of those at the head of our Revolution; who, after attempting in vain to blow up hereditary thrones by the aid of sans-culotte incendiaries, seated sans-culottes upon thrones, that they might degrade what was not yet ripe for destruction.

Charles Frederick, the reigning Elector of Baden, is now near fourscore years of age. At this period of life if any passions remain, avarice is more common than ambition; because treasures may be hoarded without bustle, while activity is absolutely necessary to push forward to the goal of distinction. Having bestowed a new King on Tuscany, Bonaparte and Talleyrand also resolved to confer new Electors on Germany. A more advantageous fraternity could not be established between the innovators here and their opposers in other countries, than by incorporating the grandfather-in-law of so many Sovereigns with their own revolutionary brotherhood; to humble him by a new rank, and to disgrace him by indemnities obtained from their hands. An intrigue between our Minister, Talleyrand, and the Baden Minister, Edelsheim, transformed the oldest Margrave of Germany into its youngest Elector, and extended his dominions by the spoils obtained at the expense of the rightful owners. The invasion of the Baden territory in time of peace, and the seizure of the Duc d'Enghien, though under the protection of the laws of nations and hospitality, must have soon convinced Baron Edelsheim  what return his friend Talleyrand expected, and that Bonaparte thought he had a natural right to insult by his attacks those he had dishonoured by his connections.

The Minister, Baron Edelsheim, is half an illuminato, half a philosopher, half a politician, and half a revolutionist. He was, long before he was admitted into the council chamber of his Prince, half an atheist, half an intriguer, and half a spy, in the pay of Frederick the Great of Prussia. His entry upon the stage at Berlin, and particularly the first parts he was destined to act, was curious and extraordinary; whether he acquitted himself better in this capacity than he has since in his political one is not known. He was afterwards sent to this capital to execute a commission, of which he acquitted himself very ill; exposing himself rashly, without profit or service to his employer. Frederick II., dreading the tediousness of a proposed congress at Augsburg, wished to send a private emissary to sound the King of France. For this purpose he chose Edelsheim as a person least liable to suspicion. The project of Frederick was to idemnify the King of Poland for his first losses by robbing the ecclesiastical Princes of Germany. This, Louis XV. totally rejected; and Edelsheim returned with his answer to the Prussian Monarch, then at Freyburg. From thence he afterwards departed for London, made his communications, and was once again sent back to Paris, on pretence that he had left some of his travelling trunks there; and the Bailli de Foulay, the Ambassador of the Knights of Malta, being persuaded that the Cabinet of Versailles was effectually desirous of peace, was, as he had been before, the mediator. The Bailli was deceived. The Duc de Choiseul, the then Prime Minister, indecently enough threw Edelsheim into the Bastille, in order to search or seize his papers, which, however, were secured elsewhere. Edelsheim was released on the morrow, but obliged to depart the kingdom by the way of Turin, as related by Frederick II. in his 'History of the Seven Years' War.' On his return he was disgraced, and continued so until 1778; when he again was used as emissary to various Courts of Germany. In 1786 the Elector of Baden sent him to Berlin, on the ascension of Frederick William II., as a complimentary envoy. This Monarch, when he saw him, could not forbear laughing at the high wisdom of the Court that selected such a personage for such an embassy, and of his own sagacity in accepting it. He quitted the capital of Prussia as he came there, with an opinion of himself that the royal smiles of contempt had neither altered nor diminished.

You see, by this account, that Edelsheim has long been a partisan of the pillage of Germany called indemnities; and long habituated to affronts, as well as to plots. To all his other half qualities, half modesty can hardly be added, when he calls himself, or suffers himself to be called, 'the Talleyrand of Carlsrhue.' He accompanied his Prince last year to Mentz; where this old Sovereign was not treated by Bonaparte in the most decorous or decent manner, being obliged to wait for hours in his antechamber, and afterwards stand during the levees, or in the drawing- rooms of Napoleon or of his wife, without the offer of a chair, or an invitation to sit down. It was here where, by a secret treaty, Bonaparte became the Sovereign of Baden, if sovereignty consists in the disposal of the financial and military resources of a State; and they were agreed to be assigned over to him whenever he should deem it proper or necessary to invade the German Empire, in return for his protection against the Emperor of Germany, who can have no more interest than intent to attack a country so distant from his hereditary dominions, and whose Sovereign is, besides, the grandfather of the consort of his nearest and best ally.

Talleyrand often amused himself at Mentz with playing on the vanity and affected consequence of Edelsheim, who was delighted if at any time our Minister took him aside, or whispered to him as in confidence. One morning, at the assembly of the Elector Arch-Chancellor, where Edelsheim was creeping and cringing about him as usual, he laid hold of his arm and walked with him to the upper part of the room. In a quarter of an hour they both joined the company, Edelsheim unusually puffed up with vanity.

'I will lay and bet, gentlemen,' said Talleyrand, 'that you cannot, with all your united wits, guess the grand subject of my conversation with the good Baron Edelsheim.' Without waiting for an answer, he continued:'As the Baron is a much older and more experienced traveller than myself, I asked him which, of all the countries he had visited, could boast the prettiest and kindest women. His reply was really very instructive, and it would be a great pity if justice were not done to his merit by its publicity.'

Here the Baron, red as a turkey-cock and trembling with anger, interrupted. 'His Excellency,' said he, 'is to-night in a humour to joke; what we spoke of had nothing to do with women.'

'Nor with men, either,' retorted Talleyrand, going away.

This anecdote, Baron Dahlberg, the Minister of the Elector of Baden to our Court, had the ingenuity to relate at Madame Chapui's as an evidence of Edelsheim's intimacy with Talleyrand; only he left out the latter part, and forgot to mention the bad grace with which this impertinence of Talleyrand was received; but this defect of memory Count von Beust, the envoy of the Elector Arch-Chancellor, kindly supplied.

Baron Edelsheim is a great amateur of knighthoods. On days of great festivities his face is, as it were, illuminated with the lustre of his stars; and the crosses on his coat conceal almost its original colour. Every petty Prince of Germany has dubbed him a chevalier; but Emperors and Kings have not been so unanimous in distinguishing his desert, or in satisfying his desires.

At Mentz no Prince or Minister fawned more assiduously upon Bonaparte than this hero of chivalry. It could not escape notice, but need not have alarmed our great man, as was the case. The prefect of the palace was ordered to give authentic information concerning Edelsheim's moral and political character. He applied to the police commissary, who, within twenty hours, signed a declaration affirming that Edelsheim was the most inoffensive and least dangerous of all imbecile creatures that ever entered the Cabinet of a Prince; that he had never drawn a sword, worn a dagger, or fired a pistol in his life; that the inquiries about his real character were sneered at in every part of the Electorate, as nowhere they allowed him common sense, much less a character; all blamed his presumption, but none defended his capacity.

After the perusal of this report, Bonaparte asked Talleyrand:'What can Edelsheim mean by his troublesome assiduities? Does he want any indemnities, or does he wish me to make him a German Prince? Can he have the impudence to hope that I shall appoint him a tribune, a legislator, or a Senator in France, or that I shall give him a place in my Council of State?'

'No such thing,' answered the Minister; 'did not Your Majesty condescend to notice at the last fete that this eclipsed moon was encompassed in a firmanent of stars. You would, Sire, make him the happiest of mortals were you to nominate him a member of your Legion of Honour.'

'Does he want nothing else?' said Napoleon, as if relieved at once of an oppressive burden. 'Write to my chancellor of the Legion of Honour, Lacepede, to send him a patent, and do you inform him of this favour.'

It is reported at Carlsruhe, the capital of Baden, that Baron Edelsheim has composed his own epitaph, in which he claims immortality, because under his Ministry the Margravate of Baden was elevated into an Electorate!!!

 

 

 

 

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