The Franco-Russian Alliance, 1890-1894

By William Leonard Langer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
SHADES OF THE PAST

FOR Alexander III the alliance with France was at most a pis aller. The very idea was anathema to him, and it was said that during the spring of 1892 he had literally flown into a rage whenever he read discussions of the subject in the newspapers.1 The French negotiators had had sufficient opportunity to learn for themselves the true disposition of the Tsar, and they recognized how almost futile it was to attempt further pourparlers. And yet it was imperative that they should spare no effort to release France from the anomalous and dangerous position into which the entente of August, 1891 had placed her. Even after the failure of Freycinet and Ribot to win over Giers during the latter's stay at Aix the French foreign minister had written to his Russian colleague urging the desirability of closing the whole matter, in view of the introduction of the new military bill in Germany and the danger of a cabinet crisis in France, which would jeopardize the secrecy of the agreement. The reply he received was no different from the previous ones made by Giers, who argued that he would be unable to resume the direction of the foreign office for some time and pointed out once more that the whole matter could be quickly settled if the need arose.2

At the time when this last desperate effort was made by the French statesmen the situation had already become utterly hopeless. The great Panama scandal, which revealed to the whole world the rottenness and corruption of French politics, had already begun. The republican form of government, which had never met with any sympathy from the Tsar, was now entirely discredited. Alexander was thoroughly shocked and more than ever disgusted with his "ally". The demonstrations attending the funeral of Renan wrung from him the bitter remark

____________________
1
G. P. VII, no. 1524.
2
L. J. nos. 81, 82, and annexe.

-270-

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