LI Rominten 26/IX/1905
Witte's visit gives me the agreeable opportunity to send you a few words. This allways affords me great pleasure and I only trust that the letter may not bore you too much. I had most interesting conversations with Witte. He has impressed me as a man of uncommon pespicacity and foresight and a rare gift of energy. He has managed to turn -- with Rooseveldt's equally energetic and clever help -- the Portsmouth Conference to a very good end. So much so, that in the rest of the world it is regarded as a signal and effective victory of Russia over Japan. This may be of interest to you, because doubtless enemies of his and invidious people in Russia, may wish to detract from his work, and make believe that he has not safeguarded his country's interests as he ought to. Great men -- and he must be I believe counted among them -- will ever have to face a certain amount of envy and lies which counterbalance the share of praise lavished on them by their admirers. But it is the facts that speak for them, and Portsmowth speaks for itself.
I found to my great satisfaction that his political ideas fully coincide with the base upon which we rested our views exchanged at Björkoe. He is a firm advocate of a Russo-German-France Alliance which as he tells me will be gladly "cotaoygé" by Amerika -- for the maintenance of the Peace and statu quo in the world, the balance of which has been disturbed by the Anglo-Japanese Treaty. He was consequently very agreeable surprised when I told him of our work at Björkoe. It is the grouping of Powers which is the most natural -- they beeing the representants of the "Continent"-- and will have the consequence of drawing all the other lesser Powers in Europe into the orbit of this great block. Amerika will stand on the side of this "Combination." Firstly from the "Racial" point of view, they are decidedly "White" anti "Yellow." Secondly politically, from fear of Japan on account of the Philippines upon which the Japanese have cast longing eyes, their loss would impair the American position in the pactfic. Thirdly from the dangerous competition of the Japanese trade sustained by very cheap labour and without the cost of long transport with its tariffs for freight and for the passage of the Suez Canal. The sums to be paid for its passage beeing a heavy tax on the whole European commerce. The same thing will be with the "Panama Canal."
The "Continental Combine" flanked by America is the sole and only manner to effectively block the way to the whole world becoming John Bull's private property, which he exploits at his hearts contents after having, by lies and intrigues without end, set the rest of the civilized nations by earh others ears for his own personal benefit. We see this pernicious principle at work now in the Marocco question, in which John Bull is equally doing his best to set the French dead against us. Thereby causing endless delay and trouble. But your Allies are so hypnotized by "Cowes" and "Brest" and the "Entente Cordiale" that scarcely do anything in Foreign Politics without consulting London first! I think it would be a good thing if you would have Nelidoff advised to put a stop to this Anglomania and to remind the French that their future lies with you and us; for I hear that he is also somewhat "anglomane" Witte kindly gave the French advice about Marocco to take reason and I have ordered Radolin to be as "conciliant" as possible, so that I hope that we shall come to terms in a few days.
With regard to the Anglo-French "Entente Cordiale" you may perhaps find in my letters to you from two years ago, where I warn you of the beginning "Rapprochement" of the two Governments and countries; when they commonly opposed your policy in Macedonia after the "Müerzsteg Punctations." I then showed that they were resuming their old former Policy of the "Crimean" and called them the "Crimean Combination." The Liberal "Western Powers" have combined as I predicted; and are not only opposing you in foreign Policy, but more hotly and open on the field of internal Russian policy. The French and English Liberal Press quite openly and in conjunction denounce all monarchical and energetic actions in Russia -- the "Zardom" as they call it and openly espouse the cause of the Revolutionaries for the expansion and maintenance of liberalism and "enlightement" against the "Zardom" and "Imperialism" of "certain" backward countries. That is yours and mine. The phrase by which the French are allways recaught by England is "to uphold in common the interests of Liberalism in the world and to propagate it in other countries." That means to foster and help revolutions all over Europe especially in countries which are happily not yet under the absolute dominations of those infernal parliaments.
Alvensleben who is on leave at home is I am sorry to say quite broken down in health and has begged to be allowed to resign and leave the service. With your kind approval I propose to send your court H. v. Schoen Minister at Copenhagen. He was formerly a long time in Paris, is married to an elegant and most charming wife; he accompanied me on my journey to Tangiers and the Mediterranean this year and is a loyal quiet discret man; a personal friend of mine having my fullest confidence since many years. He is well acquainted with all the English intrigues in Denmark, many of which he was able to counteract. He knows Italy well, speaks french, italian, english like his mothertongue; is most active and a good lawn-tennis player, in case you should need one.
The visit of the British Fleet at Swinemunde and Danzig went off without collisions. The Public was civil and "hospitalier" but without enthousiasm. At Esbjerg I had one of my friends who speaks Danish and english well. He went on board the ships disguised as a coal merchant and frequently dined or lunched with the officers. They told him that they were sent to the Baltic to show the Emperors, that they had no power whatever to decide anything as they pleased, for the British Fleet would never allow them to!!! A fine piece of impudence! May your fleet soon lay again on the waters in fine ships of new types commanded by able bodied and clear minded officers and well trained men.
A piece of news that will amuse you come from Vienne a few days ago. The American Ambassador Mr. Bellamy Storer told a friend of mine that he had been with King of England at Marienbad a few days before the conclusion of peace the King told Storer that there was no idea of Peace as Japan would never be allowed to give up the demand for indemnity, which was due to it as Victor. He then went on saying that it was necessary that Russia should be and remain financially helpless and crippled for a long time. Storer said he was in a very awkward position as the King asked his advice on the promenade loudly before a large number of people who were accompanying him and who were listening!! It seems he is afraid Amerika will join the other Nations in giving Russia money, when a great loan is internationally issued; and wanted to influence Storer to report home to that effect; which he of course refused to do.
Now the Peace beeing signed and the rat)fications even to be exchanged would not you think it practically, if we two instruct our ambassadors at foreign courts identically without letting them into the secret of the existence of a treaty that in all matters not specially affecting our countries in their own interest, but in all questions of general policy our ambassadors are to work together and inform each other of their instructions and ideas. This common exposal of a common cause, will not fail to impress the world that our relations have become closer and thus slowly prepare your Allies the French, for the new orientation which their policy must take for the entry into our treaty. The Marocco question will be settled in a few days, -- Witte having talked sense and given good advice to both sides, and I have instructed to be as "coulant" as possible. Witte has charmed all the ladies and Gentlemen here by his amusing stories about America and his experiences which will greatly amuse you too! Now goodbye dearest Nicky, love to Alix a kiss to the boy from Ever your most devoted
friend and cousin
- Count Sergei Witte was chief Russian envoy at tbe Portsmouth peace conference. On his way home from America he stopped at Paris, and while there was requested from Petrograd to go on to Rominten at the Kaiser's suggestion. He arrived there the day this lener was written, and left on the day following.
- "Côtoyé" probably, meaning "followed."
- The treaty between England and Japan, signed January 30th, 1902, and due to expire in 1907, was expanded in its scope and signed on August 12th, 1905.
- The Franco-German agreement, embodying the program for the conference later held at Algeciras, was signed two days after this letter was written.
- Alexander I. Nelidoff was Russian ambassador to France from 1903 until his death in 1910. He played a considerable part in settling the Dogger Bank incident in the Russo-Japanese War.
- Prince Hugo de Radolin was German ambassador in Paris at this time.
- Count Friedrich Johann Alvensleben, German ambassador at Petrograd, 1901-1905.
- Baron W. von Schoen, German Minister at Copenhagen from 1900 to 1905, was appointed German ambassador to Russia in the latter year. In 1910 he became ambassador in Paris.
- Formerly American Minister to Belgium and Spain, American Ambassador to Austria-Hungary, 1902-1906.