1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Verona, Congress of
VERONA, CONGRESS OF, the last of the series of international conferences or congresses based on the principle enunciated in Art. 6 of the treaty of Paris of November 20th, 1805 (see Europe, History). It met at Verona on the 20th
of October 1822. The emperor Alexander I. of Russia was present in person. There were also present Count Nesselrode, the Russian minister of foreign affairs; Prince Metternich, representing Austria; Prince Hardenberg and Count Bernstorff, representing Prussia; MM. de Montmorency and Chateaubriand, representing France; and the duke of Wellington, representing Great Britain in place of Lord Londonderry (Castlereagh), whose tragic death occurred on the eve of his setting out to the congress.
In the instructions drawn up by Londonderry for his own guidance, which had been handed to Wellington by Canning without alteration, was clearly defined the attitude of Great Britain towards the three questions which it was supposed would be discussed, viz. the Turkish Question (Greek insurrection), the question of intervention in favour of the royal power in Spain, together with that of the revolted Spanish colonies, and the Italian Question. As regards the latter it was laid down that Great Britain could not charge herself with any superintendence of a system in which she had merely acquiesced, and the duty of the British minister would be merely to keep himself informed, and to see that nothing was done “inconsistent with the European system and the treaties.” To make this attitude quite clear, Wellington was further instructed not to hand in his credentials until this question had been disposed of, his place being meanwhile taken by Lord Londonderry (Stewart), Castlereagh’s half-brother and successor in the title, who had fulfilled the same function at Troppau and Laibach. In the Spanish Question Wellington was to give voice to the uncompromising opposition of Great Britain to the whole principle of intervention. In the Turkish Question, the probable raising of which "had alone induced the British governmentto send a plenipotentiary to the congress, he was to suggest the eventual necessity for recognizing the belligerent rights of the Greeks, and, in the event of concerted interven- tion, to be careful not to commit Great Britain beyond the limits of good offices.
The immediate problems arising out of the Turkish Question had, however, been settled between the emperor Alexander and Metternich, to their mutual satisfaction, at the preliminary conferences held at Vienna in September, and at Verona the only question raised was that of the proposed French interven- tion in Spain. The discussion was opened by three questions formally propounded by Montmorency: (1) Would the Allies withdraw their ministers from Madrid in the event of France being compelled to do so? (2) In case of war, under what form and by what acts would the powers give France their moral support, so as to give to her action the force of the Alliance, and inspire a salutary fear in the revolutionaries of all countries ? (3) What material aid would the powers give, if asked by France to intervene, under restrictions which she would declare and they would recognize?
The reply of Alexander, who expressed his surprise at the desire of France to keep the question " wholly French, " was to offer to march 150,000 Russians through Germany to Pied- mont, where they could be held ready to act against the Jacobins whether in Spain or France. This solution appealed to Metternich and Montmorency as little as to Wellington; but though united in opposing it, four days of "confidential communications" revealed a fundamental difference of opinion between the representative of Great Britain and those of the continental powers on the main point at issue. Wellington, firmly based on the principle of non-intervention, refused to have anything to do with the suggestion, made by Metternich, that the powers should address a common note to the Spanish government in support of the action of France. Finally, Metternich proposed that the Allies should "hold a common language, but in separate notes, though uniform in their principles and objects." This solution was adopted by the continental powers; and Wellington, in accordance with his instructions not to countenanceany intervention in Spanish affairs, took no part in the conferences that followed. On the 30th of October the powers handed in their formal replies to the French memorandum. Russia, Austria and Prussia would act as France should in respect of their ministers in Spain, and would give to France every countenance and assistance she might require, the details “being reserved to be specified in a treaty.” Wellington, on the other hand, replied on behalf of Great Britain that “having no knowledge of the cause of dispute, and not being able to form a judgment upon a hypothetical case, he could give no answer to any of the questions.”
Thus was proclaimed the open breach of Great Britain with the principles and policy of the Great Alliance, which is what gives to the congress its main historical interest.
See Cambridge Modern Hist., chap. i. "The Congresses," by W. Alison Phillips, and for authorities, ibid. p. 787.
(W. A. P.)