18 AUGUST 1866, Page 16


[To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR."] SIR,—There is so general a misunderstanding on the subject of the claims said to be urged by the Emperor, and this misunder- standing is so greatly due to want of strict correctness in certain articles on the subject in our journals, that I would beg the favour of a little space in your columns to state the true facts of the case.

Landau, Sarrelouis, Marienburg, and Phillippeville were not first given to France by the Allies in 1814. These fortresses all had belonged to her at least from the early days of Louis XIV., more than a century before. They stood, however, beyond the line of the frontier, forming each an enclave in the neighbouring territory. When Napoleon's power was overthrown in 1814 the Allies decided not to strip the Bourbons of any of the dominions restored to their family, and to avoid the inconvenience and anomaly of these strong places standing on foreign soil, and only to be approached by roads lying out of France, the frontiers of the latter were advanced so as to include the country lying about each, and some hundreds of thousands thus added to their population.

To punish the French for their acceptance of Napoleon in 1815 these newly acquired slices of territory were taken back by the Allies, and the four fortresses confiscated with them, partly to avoid the pretext for extending the French line round them, partly (as the French now say) to use them as a menace to parts of her frontiers thus laid bare. Be this as it may, and the feeling of Europe at that time was one which justifies the common French belief, the Emperor is not claiming any new thing, unheard of before Napoleonic days, in trying to get back these lost bits of the chain which Vauban raised to guard the north and east of France.—Your obedient servant,