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Title: Beacon Lights of History, Volume 09 - European Statesmen
Author: Lord, John, 1810-1894
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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First act of the Revolution
Remote causes
Louis XVI
Derangement of finances
Assembly of notables
Mirabeau; his writings and extraordinary eloquence
Assembly of States-General
Usurpation of the Third Estate
Mirabeau's ascendency
Paralysis of government
General disturbances; fall of the Bastille
Extraordinary reforms by the National Assembly
Mirabeau's conservatism
Talleyrand, and confiscation of Church property
Death of Mirabeau; his characteristics
Revolutionary violence; the clubs
The Jacobin orators
The King arrested
The King tried, condemned, and executed
The Reign of Terror
Robespierre, Marat, Danton
The Directory
What the Revolution accomplished
What might have been done without it
True principles of reform
The guide of nations



Early life and education of Burke
Studies law
Essay on "The Sublime and Beautiful"
First political step
Enters Parliament
Debates on American difficulties
Burke opposes the government
His remarkable eloquence and wisdom
Resignation of the ministry
Burke appointed Paymaster of the Forces
Leader of his party in the House of Commons
Debates on India
Impeachment of Warren Hastings
Defence of the Irish Catholics
Speeches in reference to the French Revolution
Denounces the radical reformers of France
His one-sided but extraordinary eloquence
His "Reflections on the French Revolution"
Mistake in opposing the Revolution with bayonets
His lofty character
The legacy of Burke to his nation



Unanimity of mankind respecting the genius of Napoleon
General opinion of his character
The greatness of his services
Napoleon at Toulon
His whiff of grapeshot
His defence of the Directory
Appointed to the army of Italy
His rapid and brilliant victories
Delivers France
Campaign in Egypt
Renewed disasters during his absence
Made First Consul
His beneficent rule as First Consul
Internal improvements
Restoration of law
Vast popularity of Napoleon
His ambitious designs
Made Emperor
Coalition against him
Renewed war
Victories of Napoleon
Peace of Tilsit
Despair of Europe
Napoleon dazzled by his own greatness
Invasion of Spain and Russia
Conflagration of Moscow and retreat of Napoleon
The nations arm and attack him
Humiliation of Napoleon
Elba and St. Helena
William the Silent, Washington, and Napoleon
Lessons of Napoleon's fall
Napoleonic ideas
Imperialism hostile to civilization



Europe in the Napoleonic Era
Birth and family of Metternich
University Life
Metternich in England
Marriage of Metternich
Ambassador at Dresden
Ambassador at Berlin
Austrian aristocracy
Metternich at Paris
Metternich on Napoleon
Metternich, Chancellor and Prime Minister
Designs of Napoleon
Napoleon marries Marie Louise
Hostility of Metternich
Frederick William III
Coalition of Great Powers
Congress of Vienna
Subdivision of Napoleon conquests
Holy Alliance
Burdens of Metternich
His political aims
His hatred of liberty
Assassination of von Kotzebue
Insurrection of Naples
Insurrection of Piedmont
Spanish Revolution
Death of Emperor Francis
Tyranny of Metternich
His character
His services



Restoration of the Bourbons
Peculiarities of his reign
His brilliant career
Génie du Christianisme
Reaction against Republicanism
Difficulties and embarrassments of the king
Chateaubriand at Vienna
His conservatism
Minister of Foreign Affairs
His eloquence
Spanish war
Septennial Bill
Fall of Chateaubriand
His latter days
Death of Louis XVIII
His character
Accession of Charles X
His tyrannical government
Laws against the press
Unpopularity of the king
His political blindness
Popular tumults
Deposition of Charles X
Rise of great men
The _salons_ of great ladies
Kings and queens of society
Their prodigious influence



Condition of England in 1815
The aristocracy
The House of Commons
The clergy
The courts of law
The middle classes
The working classes
Ministry of Lord Liverpool
Lord Castlereagh
George Canning
Mr. Perceval
Regency of the Prince of Wales
His scandalous private life
Caroline of Brunswick
Death of George III
Canning, Prime Minister
His great services
His death
His character
Popular agitations
Catholic association
Great political leaders
Duke of Wellington
Catholic emancipation
Latter days of George IV
His death
Brilliant constellation of great men


Universal weariness of war on the fall of Napoleon
Peace broken by the revolt of the Spanish colonies
Agitation of political ideas
Causes of the Greek Revolution
Apathy of the Great Powers
State of Greece on the outbreak of the revolution
Character of the Greeks
His successes
Atrocities of the Turks
Universal rising of the Greeks
Siege of Tripolitza
Reverses of the Greeks
Prince Mavrokordatos
Ali Pasha
The massacres at Chios
Admiral Miaulis
Marco Bozzaris
Chourchid Pasha
Deliverance of the Mona
Greeks take Napoli di Romania
Great losses of the Greeks
Renewed efforts of the Sultan
Dissensions of the Greek leaders
Arrival of Lord Byron
Interest kindled for the Greek cause in England
London loans
Siege and fall of Missolonghi
Interference of Great Powers
Ibraham Pasha
Battle of Navarino
Greek independence
Capo d'Istrias
Otho, King of Greece
Results of the Greek Revolution


Elevation of Louis Philippe
His character
Casimir Périer
Disordered state of France
Suppression of disorders
Consolidation of royal power
Marshal Soult
Fortification of Paris
Siege of Antwerp
Public improvements
First ministry of Thiers
First ministry of Count Molé
Storming of Constantine
Railway mania
Death of Talleyrand
Russian and Turkish wars
Treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi
Second administration of Thiers
Removal of Napoleon's remains
Guizot, Prime Minister
Guizot as historian
Conquest of Algeria
Death of the Due d'Orléans
The Spanish marriages
Progress of corruption
General discontents
Dethronement of Louis Philippe
His inglorious flight



Napoleon Insists that Pope Pius VII. Shall Crown Him
_After the painting by Jean Paul Laurens_.

Louis XVI.
_After the painting by P. Duménil, Gallery of Versailles_.

Murder of Marat by Charlotte Corday
_After the painting by J. Weerts_.

Edmund Burke
_After the painting by J. Barry, Dublin National Gallery_.

_After the painting by Paul Delaroche_.

"1807," Napoleon at Friedland
_After the painting by E. Meissonier_.

Napoleon Informs Empress Josephine of His Intention to
Divorce Her
_After the painting by Eleuterio Pagliano_.

George IV. of England
_After the painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence, Rome_.

The Congress of Vienna
_After the drawing by Jean Baptiste Isabey_.

Daniel O'Connell
_After the painting by Doyle, National Gallery, Dublin_.

Marco Bozzaris
_After the painting by J.L. Gerome_.



A.D. 1749-1791.


Three events of pre-eminent importance have occurred in our modern
times; these are the Protestant Reformation, the American War of
Independence, and the French Revolution.

The most complicated and varied of these great movements is the French
Revolution, on which thousands of volumes have been written, so that it
is impossible even to classify the leading events and the ever-changing
features of that rapid and exciting movement. The first act of that
great drama was the attempt of reformers and patriots to destroy
feudalism,--with its privileges and distinctions and injustices,--by
unscrupulous and wild legislation, and to give a new constitution to
the State.

The best representative of this movement was Mirabeau, and I accordingly
select him as the subject of this lecture. I cannot describe the
violence and anarchy which succeeded the Reign of Terror, ending in a
Directory, and the usurpation of Napoleon. The subject is so vast that I
must confine myself to a single point, in which, however, I would unfold
the principles of the reformers and the logical results to which their
principles led.

The remote causes of the French Revolution I have already glanced at, in
a previous lecture. The most obvious of these, doubtless, was the
misgovernment which began with Louis XIV. and continued so disgracefully
under Louis XV.; which destroyed all reverence for the throne, even
loyalty itself, the chief support of the monarchy. The next most
powerful influence that created revolution was feudalism, which ground
down the people by unequal laws, and irritated them by the haughtiness,
insolence, and heartlessness of the aristocracy, and thus destroyed all
respect for them, ending in bitter animosities. Closely connected with
these two gigantic evils was the excessive taxation, which oppressed the
nation and made it discontented and rebellious. The fourth most
prominent cause of agitation was the writings of infidel philosophers
and economists, whose unsound and sophistical theories held out
fallacious hopes, and undermined those sentiments by which all
governments and institutions are preserved. These will be incidentally
presented, as thereby we shall be able to trace the career of the
remarkable man who controlled the National Assembly, and who applied
the torch to the edifice whose horrid and fearful fires he would
afterwards have suppressed. It is easy to destroy; it is difficult to
reconstruct. Nor is there any human force which can arrest a national
conflagration when once it is kindled: only on its ashes can a new
structure arise, and this only after long and laborious efforts and
humiliating disappointments.

It might have been possible for the Government to contend successfully
with the various elements of discontent among the people, intoxicated
with those abstract theories of rights which Rousseau had so eloquently
defended, if it had possessed a strong head and the sinews of war. But
Louis XVI., a modest, timid, temperate, moral young man of twenty-three,
by the death of his father and elder brothers had succeeded to the
throne of his dissolute grandfather at just the wrong time. He was a
gentleman, but no ruler. He had no personal power, and the powers of his
kingdom had been dissipated by his reckless predecessors. Not only was
the army demoralized, and inclined to fraternize with the people, but
there was no money to pay the troops or provide for the ordinary
expenses of the Court. There was an alarming annual deficit, and the
finances were utterly disordered. Successive ministers had exhausted all
ordinary resources and the most ingenious forms of taxation. They made
promises, and resorted to every kind of expediency, which had only a
temporary effect. The primal evils remained. The national treasury was
empty. Calonne and Necker pursued each a different policy, and with the
same results. The extravagance of the one and the economy of the other
were alike fatal. Nobody would make sacrifices in a great national
exigency. The nobles and the clergy adhered tenaciously to their
privileges, and the Court would curtail none of its unnecessary
expenses. Things went on from bad to worse, and the financiers were
filled with alarm. National bankruptcy stared everybody in the face.

If the King had been a Richelieu, he would have dealt summarily with the
nobles and rebellious mobs. He would have called to his aid the talents
of the nation, appealed to its patriotism, compelled the Court to make
sacrifices, and prevented the printing and circulation of seditious
pamphlets. The Government should have allied itself with the people,
granted their requests, and marched to victory under the name of
patriotism. But Louis XVI. was weak, irresolute, vacillating, and
uncertain. He was a worthy sort of man, with good intentions, and
without the vices of his predecessors. But he was surrounded with
incompetent ministers and bad advisers, who distrusted the people and
had no sympathy with their wrongs. He would have made concessions, if
his ministers had advised him. He was not ambitious, nor unpatriotic;
he simply did not know what to do.

In his perplexity, he called together the principal heads of the
nobility,--some hundred and twenty great seigneurs, called the Notables;
but this assembly was dissolved without accomplishing anything. It was
full of jealousies, and evinced no patriotism. It would not part with
its privileges or usurpations.

It was at this crisis that Mirabeau first appeared upon the stage, as a
pamphleteer, writing bitter and envenomed attacks on the government, and
exposing with scorching and unsparing sarcasms the evils of the day,
especially in the department of finance. He laid bare to the eyes of the
nation the sores of the body politic,--the accumulated evils of
centuries. He exposed all the shams and lies to which ministers had
resorted. He was terrible in the fierceness and eloquence of his
assaults, and in the lucidity of his statements. Without being learned,
he contrived to make use of the learning of others, and made it burn
with the brilliancy of his powerful and original genius. Everybody read
his various essays and tracts, and was filled with admiration. But his
moral character was bad,--Was even execrable, and notoriously
outrageous. He was kind-hearted and generous, made friends and used
them. No woman, it is said, could resist his marvellous
fascination,--all the more remarkable since his face was as ugly as
that of Wilkes, and was marked by the small-pox. The excesses of his
private life, and his ungovernable passions, made him distrusted by the
Court and the Government. He was both hated and admired.

Mirabeau belonged to a noble family of very high rank in Provence, of
Italian descent. His father, Marquis Mirabeau, was a man of liberal
sentiments,--not unknown to literary fame by his treatises on political
economy,'--but was eccentric and violent. Although his oldest son, Count
Mirabeau, the subject of this lecture, was precocious intellectually,
and very bright, so that the father was proud of him, he was yet so
ungovernable and violent in his temper, and got into so many disgraceful
scrapes, that the Marquis was compelled to discipline him severely,--all
to no purpose, inasmuch as he was injudicious in his treatment, and
ultimately cruel. He procured _lettres de cachet_ from the King, and
shut up his disobedient and debauched son in various state-prisons. But
the Count generally contrived to escape, only to get into fresh
difficulties; so that he became a wanderer and an exile, compelled to
support himself by his pen.

Mirabeau was in Berlin, in a sort of semi-diplomatic position, when the
Assembly of Notables was convened. His keen prescience and profound
sagacity induced him to return to his distracted country, where he knew
his services would soon be required. Though debauched, extravagant, and
unscrupulous, he was not unpatriotic. He had an intense hatred of
feudalism, and saw in its varied inequalities the chief source of the
national calamities. His detestation of feudal injustices was
intensified by his personal sufferings in the various castles where he
had been confined by arbitrary power. At this period, the whole tendency
of his writings was towards the destruction of the _ancien régime_, He
breathed defiance, scorn, and hatred against the very class to which he
belonged. He was a Catiline,--an aristocratic demagogue, revolutionary
in his spirit and aims; so that he was mistrusted, feared, and detested
by the ruling powers, and by the aristocracy generally, while he was
admired and flattered by the people, who were tolerant of his vices and
imperious temper.

On the wretched failure of the Assembly of the Notables, the prime
minister, Necker, advised the King to assemble the States-General,--the
three orders of the State: the nobles, the clergy, and a representation
of the people. It seemed to the Government impossible to proceed longer,
amid universal distress and hopeless financial embarrassment, without
the aid and advice of this body, which had not been summoned for one
hundred and fifty years.

It became, of course, an object of ambition to Count Mirabeau to have a
seat in this illustrious assembly. To secure this, he renounced his
rank, became a plebeian, solicited the votes of the people, and was
elected a deputy both from Marseilles and Aix. He chose Aix, and his
great career began with the meeting of the States-General at Versailles,
the 5th of May, 1789. It was composed of three hundred nobles, three
hundred priests, and six hundred deputies of the third estate,--twelve
hundred in all. It is generally conceded that these representatives of
the three orders were on the whole a very respectable body of men,
patriotic and incorruptible, but utterly deficient in political
experience and in powers of debate. The deputies were largely composed
of country lawyers, honest, but as conceited as they were inexperienced.
The vanity of Frenchmen is so inordinate that nearly every man in the
assembly felt quite competent to govern the nation or frame a
constitution. Enthusiasm and hope animated the whole assembly, and
everybody saw in this States-General the inauguration of a
glorious future.

One of the most brilliant and impressive chapters in Carlyle's "French
Revolution"--that great prose poem--is devoted to the procession of the
three orders from the church of St. Louis to the church of Notre Dame,
to celebrate the Mass, parts of which I quote.

"Shouts rend the air; one shout, at which Grecian birds might drop
dead. It is indeed a stately, solemn sight. The Elected of France and
then the Court of France; they are marshalled, and march there, all in
prescribed place and costume. Our Commons in plain black mantle and
white cravat; Noblesse in gold-worked, bright-dyed cloaks of velvet,
resplendent, rustling with laces, waving with plumes; the Clergy in
rochet, alb, and other clerical insignia; lastly the King himself and
household, in their brightest blaze of pomp,--their brightest and final
one. Which of the six hundred individuals in plain white cravats that
have come up to regenerate France might one guess would become their
king? For a king or a leader they, as all bodies of men, must have. He
with the thick locks, will it be? Through whose shaggy beetle-brows, and
rough-hewn, seamed, carbuncled face, there look natural ugliness,
small-pox, incontinence, bankruptcy,--and burning fire of genius? It is
Gabriel Honoré Riquetti de Mirabeau; man-ruling deputy of Aix! Yes, that
is the Type-Frenchman of this epoch; as Voltaire was of the last. He is
French in his aspirations, acquisitions, in his virtues and vices. Mark
him well. The National Assembly were all different without that one;
nay, he might say with old Despot,--The National Assembly? I am that.

"Now, if Mirabeau is the greatest of these six hundred, who may be the
meanest? Shall we say that anxious, slight, ineffectual-looking man,
under thirty, in spectacles, his eyes troubled, careful; with upturned
face, snuffing dimly the uncertain future time; complexion of a
multiplex atrabilious color, the final shade of which may be pale
sea-green? That greenish-colored individual is an advocate of Arras; his
name is Maximilien Robespierre.

"Between which extremes of grandest and meanest, so many grand and mean,
roll on towards their several destinies in that procession. There is
experienced Mounier, whose presidential parliamentary experience the
stream of things shall soon leave stranded. A Pétion has left his gown
and briefs at Chartres for a stormier sort of pleading. A
Protestant-clerical St. Etienne, a slender young eloquent and vehement
Barnave, will help to regenerate France,

"And then there is worthy Doctor Guillotin, Bailly likewise,
time-honored historian of astronomy, and the Abbé Sieyès, cold, but
elastic, wiry, instinct with the pride of logic, passionless, or with
but one passion, that of self-conceit. This is the Sieyès who shall be
system-builder, constitutional-builder-general, and build constitutions
which shall unfortunately fall before we get the scaffolding away.

"Among the nobles are Liancourt, and La Rochefoucauld, and pious Lally,
and Lafayette, whom Mirabeau calls Grandison Cromwell, and the Viscount
Mirabeau, called Barrel Mirabeau, on account of his rotundity, and the
quantity of strong liquor he contains. Among the clergy is the Abbé
Maury, who does not want for audacity, and the Curé Grégoire who shall
be a bishop, and Talleyrand-Pericord, his reverence of Autun, with
sardonic grimness, a man living in falsehood, and on falsehood, yet not
wholly a false man.

"So, in stately procession, the elected of France pass on, some to
honor, others to dishonor; not a few towards massacre, confusion,
emigration, desperation."

For several weeks this famous States-General remain inactive, unable to
agree whether they shall deliberate in a single hall or in three
separate chambers. The deputies, of course, wish to deliberate in a
single chamber, since they equal in number both the clergy and nobles,
and some few nobles had joined them, and more than a hundred of the
clergy. But a large majority of both the clergy and the noblesse insist
with pertinacity on the three separate chambers, since, united, they
would neutralize the third estate. If the deputies prevailed, they would
inaugurate reforms to which the other orders would never consent.

Long did these different bodies of the States-General deliberate, and
stormy were the debates. The nobles showed themselves haughty and
dogmatical; the deputies showed themselves aggressive and revolutionary.
The King and the ministers looked on with impatience and disgust, but
were irresolute. Had the King been a Cromwell, or a Napoleon, he would
have dissolved the assemblies; but he was timid and hesitating. Necker,
the prime minister, was for compromise; he would accept reforms, but
only in a constitutional way.

The knot was at last cut by the Abbé Sieyès, a political priest, and one
of the deputies for Paris,--the finest intellect in the body, next to
Mirabeau, and at first more influential than he, since the Count was
generally distrusted on account of his vices. Nor had he as yet
exhibited his great powers. Sieyès said, for the Deputies alone, "We
represent ninety-six per cent of the whole nation. The people is
sovereign; we, therefore, as its representatives, constitute ourselves a
national assembly." His motion was passed by acclamation, on June 17,
and the Third Estate assumed the right to act for France.

In a legal and constitutional point of view, this was a usurpation, if
ever there was one. "It was," says Von Sybel, the able German historian
of the French Revolution, "a declaration of open war between arbitrary
principles and existing rights." It was as if the House of
Representatives in the United States, or the House of Commons in
England, should declare themselves the representatives of the nation,
ignoring the Senate or the House of Lords. Its logical sequence was

The prodigious importance of this step cannot be overrated. It
transferred the powers of the monarchy to the Third Estate. It would
logically lead to other usurpations, the subversion of the throne, and
the utter destruction of feudalism,--for this last was the aim of the
reformers. Mirabeau himself at first shrank from this violent measure,
but finally adopted it. He detested feudalism and the privileges of the
clergy. He wanted radical reforms, but would have preferred to gain
them in a constitutional way, like Pym, in the English Revolution. But
if reforms could not be gained constitutionally, then he would accept
revolution, as the lesser evil. Constitutionally, radical reforms were
hopeless. The ministers and the King, doubtless, would have made some
concessions, but not enough to satisfy the deputies. So these same
deputies took the entire work of legislation into their own hands. They
constituted themselves the sole representatives of the nation. The
nobles and the clergy might indeed deliberate with them; they were not
altogether ignored, but their interests and rights were to be
disregarded. In that state of ferment and discontent which existed when
the States-General was convened, the nobles and the clergy probably knew
the spirit of the deputies, and therefore refused to sit with them. They
knew, from the innumerable pamphlets and tracts which were issued from
the press, that radical changes were desired, to which they themselves
were opposed; and they had the moral support of the Government on
their side.

The deputies of the Third Estate were bent on the destruction of
feudalism, as the only way to remedy the national evils, which were so
glaring and overwhelming. They probably knew that their proceedings were
unconstitutional and illegal, but thought that their acts would be
sanctioned by their patriotic intentions. They were resolved to secure
what seemed to them rights, and thought little of duties. If these
inestimable and vital rights should be granted without usurpation, they
would be satisfied; if not, then they would resort to usurpation. To
them their course seemed to be dictated by the "higher law." What to
them were legalities that perpetuated wrongs? The constitution was made
for man, not man for the constitution.

Had the three orders deliberated together in one hall, although against
precedent and legality, the course of revolution might have been
directed into a different channel; or if an able and resolute king had
been on the throne, he might have united with the people against the
nobles, and secured all the reforms that were imperative, without
invoking revolution; or he might have dispersed the deputies at the
point of the bayonet, and raised taxes by arbitrary imposition, as able
despots have ever done. We cannot penetrate the secrets of Providence.
It may have been ordered in divine justice and wisdom that the French
people should work out their own deliverance in their own way, in
mistakes, in suffering, and in violence, and point the eternal moral
that inexperience, vanity, and ignorance are fatal to sound legislation,
and sure to lead to errors which prove disastrous; that national
progress is incompatible with crime; that evils can only gradually be
removed; that wickedness ends in violence.

A majority of the deputies meant well. They were earnest, patriotic, and
enthusiastic. But they knew nothing of the science of government or of
constitution-making, which demand the highest maturity of experience and
wisdom. As I have said, nearly four hundred of them were country
lawyers, as conceited as they were inexperienced. Both Mirabeau and
Sieyès had a supreme contempt for them as a whole. They wanted what they
called rights, and were determined to get them any way they could,
disregarding obstacles, disregarding forms and precedents. And they were
backed up and urged forward by ignorant mobs, and wicked demagogues who
hated the throne, the clergy, and the nobles. Hence the deputies made
mistakes. They could see nothing better than unscrupulous destruction.
And they did not know how to reconstruct. They were bewildered and
embarrassed, and listened to the orators of the Palais Royal.

The first thing of note which occurred when they resolved to call
themselves the National Assembly and not the Third Estate, which they
were only, was done by Mirabeau. He ascended the tribune, when Brézé,
the master of ceremonies, came with a message from the King for them to
join the other orders, and said in his voice of melodious thunder, "We
are here by the command of the people, and will only disperse by the
force of bayonets." From that moment, till his death, he ruled the
Assembly. The disconcerted messenger returned to his sovereign. What did
the King say at this defiance of royal authority? Did he rise in wrath
and indignation, and order his guards to disperse the rebels? No; the
amiable King said meekly, "Well, let them remain there." What a king for
such stormy times! O shade of Richelieu, thy work has perished!
Rousseau, a greater genius than thou wert, hath undermined the
institutions and the despotism of two hundred years.

Only two courses were now open to the King,--this weak and kind-hearted
Louis XVI., heir of a hundred years' misrule,--if he would maintain his
power. One was to join the reformers and co-operate in patriotic work,
assisted by progressive ministers, whatever opposition might be raised
by nobles and priests; and the second was to arm himself and put down
the deputies. But how could this weak-minded sovereign co-operate with
plebeians against the orders which sustained his throne? And if he used
violence, he inaugurated civil war, which would destroy thousands where
revolution destroyed hundreds. Moreover, the example of Charles I. was
before him. He dared not run the risk. In such a torrent of
revolutionary forces, when even regular troops fraternized with
citizens, that experiment was dangerous. And then he was
tender-hearted, and shrank from shedding innocent blood. His queen,
Marie Antoinette, the intrepid daughter of Maria Theresa, with her
Austrian proclivities, would have kept him firm and sustained him by her
courageous counsels; but her influence was neutralized by popular
ministers. Necker, the prosperous banker, the fortunate financier,
advised half measures. Had he conciliated Mirabeau, who led the
Assembly, then even the throne might have been saved. But he detested
and mistrusted the mighty tribune of the people,--the aristocratic
demagogue, who, in spite of his political rancor and incendiary tracts,
was the only great statesman of the day. He refused the aid of the only
man who could have staved off the violence of factions, and brought
reason and talent to the support of reform and law.

At this period, after the triumph of the Third Estate,--now called the
National Assembly,--and the paralysis of the Court, perplexed and
uncertain whether or not to employ violence and disband the assembly by
royal decree, a great agitation began among the people, not merely in
Paris, but over the whole kingdom. There were meetings to promote
insurrection, paid declaimers of human rights, speeches without end in
the gardens of the Palais Royal, where Marat, Camille Desmoulins, and
other popular orators harangued the excited crowds. There were
insurrections at Versailles, which was filled with foreign soldiers.
The French guards fraternized with the people whom they were to subdue.
Necker in despair resigned, or was dismissed. None of the authorities
could command obedience. The people were starving, and the bakers' shops
were pillaged. The crowds broke open the prisons, and released many who
had been summarily confined. Troops were poured into Paris, and the old
Duke of Broglie, one of the heroes of the Seven Years' War, now
war-minister, sought to overawe the city. The gun-shops were plundered,
and the rabble armed themselves with whatever weapons they could lay
their hands upon. The National Assembly decreed the formation of a
national guard to quell disturbances, and placed Lafayette at the head
of it. Besenval, who commanded the royal troops, was forced to withdraw
from the capital. The city was completely in the hands of the
insurgents, who were driven hither and thither by every passion which
can sway the human soul. Patriotic zeal blended with envy, hatred,
malice, revenge, and avarice. The mob at last attacked the Bastille, a
formidable fortress where state-prisoners were arbitrarily confined. In
spite of moats and walls and guns, this gloomy monument of royal tyranny
was easily taken, for it was manned by only about one hundred and forty
men, and had as provisions only two sacks of flour. No aid could
possibly come to the rescue. Resistance was impossible, in its
unprepared state for defence, although its guns, if properly manned,
might have demolished the whole Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

The news of the fall of this fortress came like a thunder-clap over
Europe. It announced the reign of anarchy in France, and the
helplessness of the King. On hearing of the fall of the Bastille, the
King is said to have exclaimed to his courtiers, "It is a revolt, then."
"Nay, sire," said the Duke of Liancourt, "it is a revolution." It was
evident that even then the King did not comprehend the situation. But
how few could comprehend it! Only one man saw the full tendency of
things, and shuddered at the consequences,--and this man was Mirabeau.

The King, at last aroused, appeared in person in the National Assembly,
and announced the withdrawal of the troops from Paris and the recall of
Necker. But general mistrust was alive in every bosom, and disorders
still continued to a frightful extent, even in the provinces. "In
Brittany the towns appointed new municipalities, and armed a civic guard
from the royal magazines. In Caen the people stormed the citadel and
killed the officers of the salt-tax. Nowhere were royal intendants seen.
The custom-houses, at the gates of the provincial cities, were
demolished. In Franche-Comté a noble castle was burned every day. All
kinds of property were exposed to the most shameful robbery."

Then took place the emigration of the nobles, among whom were Condé,
Polignac, Broglie, to organize resistance to the revolution which had
already conquered the King.

Meanwhile, the triumphant Assembly, largely recruited by the liberal
nobles and the clergy, continued its sessions, decreed its sittings
permanent and its members inviolable. The sittings were stormy; for
everybody made speeches, written or oral, yet few had any power of
debate. Even Mirabeau himself, before whom all succumbed, was deficient
in this talent. He could thunder; he could arouse or allay passions; he
seemed able to grasp every subject, for he used other people's brains;
he was an incarnation of eloquence,--but he could not reply to opponents
with much effect, like Pitt, Webster, and Gladstone. He was still the
leading man in the kingdom; all eyes were directed towards him; and no
one could compete with him, not even Sieyès. The Assembly wasted days in
foolish debates. It had begun its proceedings with the famous
declaration of the rights of man,--an abstract question, first mooted by
Rousseau, and re-echoed by Jefferson. Mirabeau was appointed with a
committee of five to draft the declaration,--in one sense, a puerile
fiction, since men are not "born free," but in a state of dependence and
weakness; nor "equal," either in regard to fortune, or talents, or
virtue, or rank: but in another sense a great truth, so far as men are
entitled by nature to equal privileges, and freedom of the person, and
unrestricted liberty to get a living according to their choice.

The Assembly at last set itself in earnest to the work of legislation.
In one night, the ever memorable 4th of August, it decreed the total
abolition of feudalism. In one night it abolished tithes to the church,
provincial privileges, feudal rights, serfdom, the law of primogeniture,
seigniorial dues, and the _gabelle_, or tax on salt. Mirabeau was not
present, being absent on his pleasures. These, however, seldom
interfered with his labors, which were herculean, from seven in the
morning till eleven at night. He had two sides to his character,--one
exciting abhorrence and disgust, for his pleasures were miscellaneous
and coarse; a man truly abandoned to the most violent passions: the
other side pleasing, exciting admiration; a man with an enormous power
of work, affable, dignified, with courtly manners, and enchanting
conversation, making friends with everybody, out of real kindness of
heart, because he really loved the people, and sought their highest
good; a truly patriotic man, and as wise as he was enthusiastic. This
great orator and statesman was outraged and alarmed at the indecent
haste of the Assembly, and stigmatized its proceedings as "nocturnal
orgies." The Assembly on that memorable night swept away the whole
feudal edifice, and in less time than the English Parliament would take
to decide upon the first reading of any bill of importance.

The following day brought reflection and discontent. "That is just the
character of our Frenchmen," exclaimed Mirabeau; "they are three months
disputing about syllables, and in a single night they overturn the whole
venerable edifice of the monarchy." Sieyès was equally disgusted, and
made a speech of great force to show that to abolish tithes without an
indemnity was spoliating the clergy to enrich the land-owners. He
concluded, "You know how to be free; you do not know how to be just."
But he was regarded as an ecclesiastic, unable to forego his personal
interests. He gave vent to his irritated feelings in a conversation with
Mirabeau, when the latter said, "My dear Abbé, you have let loose the
bull, and you now complain that he gores you." It was this political
priest who had made the first assault on the constitution, when he urged
the Third Estate to decree itself the nation.

The National Assembly had destroyed feudal institutions; but it had not
yet made a constitution, or restored order. Violence and anarchy still
reigned. Then the clubs began to make themselves a power. "Come," said
the lawyer Danton to a friend, in the district of the Cordéliers, "come
and howl with us; you will earn much money, and you can still choose
your party afterwards." But it was in the garden of the Palais Royal,
and in the old church of the Jacobins that the most violent attacks were
made on all existing institutions. "A Fourth Estate (of able editors)
also springs up, increases, multiplies; irrepressible, incalculable."
Then from the lowest quarters of Paris surge up an insurrection of
women, who march to Versailles in disorder, penetrate the Assembly, and
invade the palace. On the 5th of October a mob joins them, of the lowest
rabble, and succeed in forcing their way into the precincts of the
palace. "The King to Paris!" was now the general cry, and Louis XVI.
appears upon the balcony and announces by gestures his subjection to
their will. A few hours after, the King is on his way to Paris, under
the protection of the National Guard, really a prisoner in the hands of
the people. In fourteen days the National Assembly also follows, to be
now dictated to by the clubs.

In this state of anarchy and incipient violence, Mirabeau, whose power
in the Assembly was still unimpaired, wished to halt. He foresaw the
future. No man in France had such clear insight and sagacity as he. He
saw the State drifting into dissolution, and put forth his hand and
raised his voice to arrest the catastrophe which he lamented. "The mob
of Paris," said he, "will scourge the corpses of the King and Queen." It
was then that he gave but feeble support to the "Rights of Man," and
contended for the unlimited veto of the King on the proceedings of the
Assembly. He also brought forward a motion to allow the King's ministers
to take part in the debates. "On the 7th of October he exhorted the
Count de Marck to tell the King that his throne and kingdom were lost,
if he did not immediately quit Paris." And he did all he could to induce
him, through the voice of his friends, to identify himself with the
cause of reform, as the only means for the salvation of the throne. He
warned him against fleeing to the frontier to join the emigrants, as the
prelude of civil war. He advocated a new ministry, of more vigor and
breadth. He wanted a government both popular and strong. He wished to
retain the monarchy, but desired a constitutional monarchy like that of
England. His hostility to all feudal institutions was intense, and he
did not seek to have any of them restored. It was the abolition of
feudal privileges which was really the permanent bequest of the French
Revolution. They have never been revived. No succeeding government has
even attempted to revive them.

On the removal of the National Assembly to Paris, Mirabeau took a large
house and lived ostentatiously and at great expense until he died, from
which it is supposed that he received pensions from England, Spain, and
even the French Court. This is intimated by Dumont; and I think it
probable. It will in part account for the conservative course he
adopted to check the excesses of that revolution which he, more than any
other man, invoked. He was doubtless patriotic, and uttered his warning
protests with sincerity. Still it is easy to believe that so corrupt and
extravagant a man in his private life was accessible to bribery. Such a
man must have money, and he was willing to get it from any quarter. It
is certain that he was regarded by the royal family, towards the close
of his career, very differently from what they regarded him when the
States-General was assembled. But if he was paid by different courts, it
is true that he then gave his support to the cause of law and
constitutional liberty, and doubtless loathed the excesses which took
place in the name of liberty. He was the only man who could have saved
the monarchy, if it were possible to save it; but no human force could
probably have arrested the waves of revolutionary frenzy at this time.

On the removal of the Assembly to Paris, the all-absorbing questions
related to finance. The State was bankrupt. It was difficult to raise
money for the most pressing exigencies. Money must be had, or there
would be universal anarchy and despair. How could it be raised? The
credit of the country was gone, and all means of taxation were
exhausted. No man in France had such a horror of bankruptcy as Mirabeau,
and his eloquence was never more convincing and commanding than in his
finance speeches. Nobody could reply to him. The Assembly was completely
subjugated by his commanding talents. Nor was his influence ever greater
than when he supported Necker's proposal for a patriotic loan, a sort of
income-tax, in a masterly speech which excited universal admiration.
"Ah, Monsieur le Comte," said a great actor to him on that occasion,
"what a speech: and with what an accent did you deliver it! You have
surely missed your vocation."

But the finances were in a hopeless state. With credit gone, taxation
exhausted, and a continually increasing floating debt, the situation was
truly appalling to any statesman. It was at this juncture that
Talleyrand, a priest of noble birth, as able as he was unscrupulous,
brought forth his famous measure for the spoliation of the Church, to
which body he belonged, and to which he was a disgrace. Talleyrand, as
Bishop of Autun, had been one of the original representatives of the
clergy on the first convocation of the States-General; he had advocated
combining with the Third Estate when they pronounced themselves the
National Assembly, had himself joined the Assembly, attracted notice by
his speeches, been appointed to draw up a constitution, taken active
part in the declaration of Rights, and made himself generally
conspicuous and efficient. At the present apparently hopeless financial
crisis, Talleyrand uncovered a new source of revenue, claimed that the
property of the Church belonged to the nation, and that as the nation
was on the brink of financial ruin, this confiscation was a supreme
necessity. The Church lands represented a value of two thousand millions
of francs,--an immense sum, which, if sold, would relieve, it was
supposed, the necessities of the State. Mirabeau, although he was no
friend of the clergy, shrank from such a monstrous injustice, and said
that such a wound as this would prove the most poisonous which the
country had received. But such was the urgent need of money, that the
Assembly on the 2d of November, 1789, decreed that the property of the
Church should be put at the disposal of the State. On the 19th of
December it was decreed that these lands should be sold. The clergy
raised the most piteous cries of grief and indignation. Vainly did the
bishops offer four hundred millions as a gift to the nation. It was like
the offer of Darius to Alexander, of one hundred thousand talents. "Your
whole property is mine," said the conqueror; "your kingdom is mine."

So the offer of the bishops was rejected, and their whole property was
taken. And it was taken under the sophistical plea that it belonged to
the nation. It was really the gift of various benefactors in different
ages to the Church, for pious purposes, and had been universally
recognized as sacred. It was as sacred as any other rights of property.
The spoliation was infinitely worse than the suppression of the
monasteries by Henry VIII. He had some excuse, since they had become a
scandal, had misused their wealth, and diverted it from the purposes
originally intended. The only wholesale attack on property by the State
which can be compared with it, was the abolition of slavery by a stroke
of the pen in the American Rebellion. But this was a war measure, when
the country was in most imminent peril; and it was also a moral measure
in behalf of philanthropy. The spoliation of the clergy by the National
Assembly was a great injustice, since it was not urged that the clergy
had misused their wealth, or were neglectful of their duties, as the
English monks were in the time of Henry VIII. This Church property had
been held so sacred, that Louis XIV. in his greatest necessities never
presumed to appropriate any part of it. The sophistry that it belonged
to the nation, and therefore that the representatives of the nation had
a right to take it, probably deceived nobody. It was necessary to give
some excuse or reason for such a wholesale robbery, and this was the
best which could be invented. The simple truth was that money at this
juncture was a supreme necessity to the State, and this spoliation
seemed the easiest way to meet the public wants. Like most of the
legislation of the Assembly, it was defended on the Jesuit plea of
expediency,--that the end justifies the means; the plea of unscrupulous
and wicked politicians in all countries.

And this expediency, doubtless, relieved the government for a time, for
the government was in the hands of the Assembly. Royal authority was a
mere shadow. In reality, the King was a prisoner, guarded by Lafayette,
in the palace of the Tuileries. And the Assembly itself was now in fear
of the people as represented by the clubs. There were two hundred
Jacobin clubs in Paris and other cities at this time, howling their
vituperations not only on royalty but also on everything else which was
not already destroyed.

The Assembly having provided for the wants of the government by the
confiscation of two thousand millions,--which, however, when sold, did
not realize half that sum,--issued their _assignats_, or bonds
representing parcels of land assigned to redeem them. These were mostly
100-franc notes, though there were also issues of ten and even five
francs. The national credit was thus patched up by legislators who took
a constitution in hand,--to quote Burke--"as savages would a
looking-glass." Then they proceeded to other reforms, and abolished the
parliaments, and instituted the election of judges by the people, thus
stripping the King of his few remaining powers.

In the mean time Mirabeau died, worn out with labors and passions, and
some say by poison. Even this Hercules could not resist the
consequences of violated natural law. The Assembly decreed a magnificent
public funeral, and buried him with great pomp. He was the first to be
interred in the Pantheon. For nearly two years he was the leading man in
France, and he retained his influence in the Assembly to the end. Nor
did he lose his popularity with the people. It is not probable that his
intrigues to save the monarchy were known, except to a few confidential
friends. He died at the right time for his fame, in April, 1791. Had he
lived, he could not have arrested the tide of revolutionary excesses and
the reign of demagogues, and probably would have been one of the victims
of the guillotine.

As an author Mirabeau does not rank high. His fame rests on his
speeches. His eloquence was transcendent, so far as it was rendered
vivid by passion. He knew how to move men; he understood human nature.
No orator ever did so much by a single word, by felicitous expressions.
In the tribune he was immovable. His self-possession never left him in
the greatest disorders. He was always master of himself. His voice was
full, manly, and sonorous, and pleased the ear; always powerful, yet
flexible, it could be as distinctly heard when he lowered it as when he
raised it. His knowledge was not remarkable, but he had an almost
miraculous faculty of appropriating whatever he heard. He paid the
greatest attention to his dress, and wore an enormous quantity of hair
dressed in the fashion of the day. "When I shake my terrible locks,"
said he, "no one dares interrupt me." Though he received pensions, he
was too proud to be dishonest, in the ordinary sense. He received large
sums, but died insolvent. He had, like most Frenchmen, an inordinate
vanity, and loved incense from all ranks and conditions. Although he was
the first to support the Assembly against the King, he was essentially
in favor of monarchy, and maintained the necessity of the absolute veto.
He would have given a constitution to his country as nearly resembling
that of England as local circumstances would permit. Had he lived, the
destinies of France might have been different.

But his death gave courage to all the factions, and violence and crime
were consummated by the Reign of Terror. With the death of Mirabeau,
closed the first epoch of the Revolution. Thus far it had been earnest,
but unscrupulous in the violation of rights and in the destruction of
ancient abuses. Yet if inexperienced and rash, it was not marked by
deeds of blood. In this first form it was marked by enthusiasm and hope
and patriotic zeal; not, as afterwards, by fears and cruelty and

Henceforth, the Revolution took another turn. It was directed, not by
men of genius, not by reformers seeking to rule by wisdom, but by
demagogues and Jacobin clubs, and the mobs of the city of Paris. What
was called the "Left," in the meetings of the Assembly,--made up of
fanatics whom Mirabeau despised and detested,--gained a complete
ascendency and adopted the extremest measures. Under their guidance, the
destruction of the monarchy was complete. Feudalism and the Church
property had been swept away, and the royal authority now received its
final blow; nay, the King himself was slain, under the influence of
fear, it is true, but accompanied by acts of cruelty and madness which
shocked the whole civilized world and gave an eternal stain to the
Revolution itself.

It was not now reform, but unscrupulous destruction and violence which
marked the Assembly, controlled as it was by Jacobin orators and infidel
demagogues. A frenzy seized the nation. It feared reactionary movements
and the interference of foreign powers. When the Bastille had fallen, it
was by the hands of half-starved people clamoring for bread; but when
the monarchy was attacked, it was from sentiments of fear among those
who had the direction of affairs. The King, at last, alarmed for his own
safety, contrived to escape from the Tuileries, where he was virtually
under arrest, for his power was gone; but he was recaptured, and brought
back to Paris, a prisoner. Robespierre called upon the Assembly to
bring the King and Queen to trial. Marat proposed a military
dictatorship, to act more summarily, which proposal produced a temporary
reaction in favor of royalty. Lafayette, as commander of the National
Guard, declared, "If you kill the King to-day, I will place the Dauphin
on the throne to-morrow." But the republican party, now in fear of a
reaction, was increasing rapidly. Its leaders were at this time the
Girondists, bent on the suppression of royalty, and headed by Brissot,
who agitated France by his writings in favor of a republic, while Madame
Roland opened her _salons_ for intrigues and cabals,--a bright woman,
"who dreamed of Spartan severity, Roman virtue, and Plutarch heroes."

The National Assembly dissolved itself in September, and appealed to the
country for the election of a National Convention; for, the King having
been formally suspended Aug. 10, there was no government. The first act
of the Convention was to proclaim the Republic. Then occurred the more
complete organization of the Jacobin club, to control the National
Convention; and this was followed by the rapid depreciation of the
_assignats_, bread-riots, and all sorts of disturbances. Added to these
evils, foreign governments were arming to suppress the Revolution, and
war had been declared by the Girondist ministry, of which Dumouriez was
war-minister. At this crisis, Danton, of the club of the Cordéliers,
who found the Jacobins too respectable, became a power,--a coarse,
vulgar man, but of indefatigable energy and activity, who wished to do
away with all order and responsibility. He attacked the Gironde as not
sufficiently violent.

It was now war between the different sections of the revolutionists
themselves. Lafayette resolved to suppress the dangerous radicals by
force, but found it no easy thing, for the Convention was controlled by
men of violence, who filled the country with alarm, not of their
unscrupulous measures, but of the military and of foreign enemies. He
even narrowly escaped impeachment at the hands of the National

The Convention is now overawed and controlled by the Commune and the
clubs. Lafayette flies. The mob rules Paris. The revolutionary tribunal
is decreed. Robespierre, Marat, and Danton form a triumvirate of power.
The September massacres take place. The Girondists become conservative,
and attempt to stay the progress of further excesses,--all to no
purpose, for the King himself is now impeached, and the Jacobins control
everything. The King is led to the bar of the Convention. He is
condemned by a majority only of one, and immured in the Temple. On the
20th of January, 1793, he was condemned, and the next day he mounted the
scaffold. "We have burned our ships," said Marat when the tragedy was

With the death of the King, I bring this lecture to a close. It would
be interesting to speculate on what might have been averted, had
Mirabeau lived. But probably nothing could have saved the monarchy
except civil war, to which Louis XVI. was averse.

Nor can I dwell on the second part of the Revolution, when the
government was in the hands of those fiends and fanatics who turned
France into one vast slaughter-house of butchery and blood. I have only
to say, that the same unseen hand which humiliated the nobles,
impoverished the clergy, and destroyed the King, also visited with
retribution those monsters who had a leading hand in the work of
destruction. Marat, the infidel journalist, was stabbed by Charlotte
Corday. Danton, the minister of justice and orator of the revolutionary
clubs, was executed on the scaffold he had erected for so many innocent
men. Robespierre, the sentimental murderer and arch-conspirator, also
expiated his crimes on the scaffold; as did Saint-Just, Lebas, Couthon,
Henriot, and other legalized assassins. As the Girondists sacrificed the
royal family, so did the Jacobins sacrifice the Girondists; and the
Convention, filled with consternation, again sacrificed the Jacobins.

After the work of destruction was consummated, and there was nothing
more to destroy, and starvation was imminent at Paris, and general
detestation began to prevail, in view of the atrocities committed in
the name of liberty, the crushing fact became apparent that the nations
of Europe were arming to put down the Revolution and restore the
monarchy. In a generous paroxysm of patriotism, the whole nation armed
to resist the invaders and defend the ideas of the Revolution. The
Convention also perceived, too late, that anything was better than
anarchy and license. It put down the clubs, restored religious worship,
destroyed the busts of the monsters who had disgraced their cause and
country, intrusted supreme power to five Directors, able and patriotic,
and dissolved itself.

Under the Directory, the third act of the drama of revolution opened
with the gallant resistance which France made to the invaders of her
soil and the enemies of her liberties. This resistance brought out the
marvellous military genius of Napoleon, who intoxicated the nation by
his victories, and who, in reward of his extraordinary services, was
made First Consul, with dictatorial powers. The abuse of these powers,
his usurpation of imperial dignity, the wars into which he was drawn to
maintain his ascendency, and his final defeat at Waterloo, constitute
the most brilliant chapter in the history of modern times. The
Revolution was succeeded by military despotism. Inexperience led to
fatal mistakes, and these mistakes made the strong government of a
single man a necessity. The Revolution began in noble aspirations, but
for lack of political wisdom and sound principles in religion and
government, it ended in anarchy and crime, and was again followed by the
tyranny of a monarch. This is the sequence of all revolutions which defy
eternal justice and human experience. There are few evils which are
absolutely unendurable, and permanent reforms are only obtained by
patience and wisdom. Violence is ever succeeded by usurpation. The
terrible wars through which France passed, to aggrandize an ambitious
and selfish egotist, were attended with far greater evils than those
which the nation sought to abolish when the States-General first met at

But the experiment of liberty, though it failed, was not altogether
thrown away. Lessons of political wisdom were learned, which no nation
will ever forget. Some great rights of immense value were secured, and
many grievous privileges passed away forever. Neither Louis XVIII., nor
Charles X., nor Louis Philippe, nor Louis Napoleon, ever attempted to
restore feudalism, or unequal privileges, or arbitrary taxation. The
legislative power never again completely succumbed to the decrees of
royal and imperial tyrants. The sovereignty of the people was
established as one of the fixed ideas of the nineteenth century, and the
representatives of the people are now the supreme rulers of the land. A
man can now rise in France above the condition in which he was born,
and can aspire to any office and position which are bestowed on talents
and genius. Bastilles and _lettres de cachet_ have become an
impossibility. Religious toleration is as free there as in England or
the United States. Education is open to the poor, and is encouraged by
the Government. Constitutional government seems to be established, under
whatever name the executive may be called. France is again one of the
most prosperous and contented countries of Europe; and the only great
drawback to her national prosperity is that which also prevents other
Continental powers from developing their resources,--the large standing
army which she feels it imperative to sustain.

In view of the inexperience and fanaticism of the revolutionists, and
the dreadful evils which took place after the fall of the monarchy, we
should say that the Revolution was premature, and that substantial
reforms might have been gained without violence. But this is a mere
speculation. One thing we do know,--that the Revolution was a national
uprising against injustice and oppression. When the torch is applied to
a venerable edifice, we cannot determine the extent of the
conflagration, or the course which it will take. The French Revolution
was plainly one of the developments of a nation's progress. To
conservative and reverential minds it was a horrid form for progress to
take, since it was visionary and infidel. But all nations are in the
hands of God, who is above all second causes. And I know of no modern
movement to which the words of Carlyle, when he was an optimist, when he
wrote the most original and profound of his works, the "Sartor
Resartus," apply with more force: "When the Phoenix is fanning her
funeral pyre, will there not be sparks flying? Alas! some millions of
men have been sucked into that high eddying flame, and like moths
consumed. In the burning of the world-Phoenix, destruction and creation
proceed together; and as the ashes of the old are blown about do new
forces mysteriously spin themselves, and melodious death-songs are
succeeded by more melodious birth-songs."

Yet all progress is slow, especially in government and morals. And how
forcibly are we impressed, in surveying the varied phases of the French
Revolution, that nothing but justice and right should guide men in their
reforms; that robbery and injustice in the name of liberty and progress
are still robbery and injustice, to be visited with righteous
retribution; and that those rulers and legislators who cannot make
passions and interests subservient to reason, are not fit for the work
assigned to them. It is miserable hypocrisy and cant to talk of a
revolutionary necessity for violating the first principles of human
society. Ah! it is Reason, Intelligence, and Duty, calm as the voices of
angels, soothing as the "music of the spheres," which alone should
guide nations, in all crises and difficulties, to the attainment of
those rights and privileges on which all true progress is based.


Dumont's Recollections of Mirabeau; Carlyle's French Revolution;
Carlyle's article on Mirabeau in his Miscellanies; Von Sybel's French
Revolution; Thiers' French Revolution; Mignet's French Revolution;
Croker's Essays on the French Revolution; Life of Lafayette; Loustalot's
Révolution de Paris; Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution;
Carlyle's article on Danton; Mallet du Pau's Considérations sur la
Révolution Française; Biographie Universelle; A. Lameth's Histoire de
l'Assemblée Constituante; Alison's History of the French Revolution;
Lamartine's History of the Girondists; Lacretelle's History of France;
Montigny's Mémoires sur Mirabeau; Peuchet's Mémoires sur Mirabeau;
Madame de Staël's Considérations sur la Révolution Française; Macaulay's
Essay on Dumont's Recollections of Mirabeau.


A. D. 1729-1797.


It would be difficult to select an example of a more lofty and
irreproachable character among the great statesmen of England than
Edmund Burke. He is not a puzzle, like Oliver Cromwell, although there
are inconsistencies in the opinions he advanced from time to time. He
takes very much the same place in the parliamentary history of his
country as Cicero took in the Roman senate. Like that greatest of Roman
orators and statesmen, Burke was upright, conscientious, conservative,
religious, and profound. Like him, he lifted up his earnest voice
against corruption in the government, against great state criminals,
against demagogues, against rash innovations. Whatever diverse opinions
may exist as to his political philosophy, there is only one opinion as
to his character, which commands universal respect. Although he was the
most conservative of statesmen, clinging to the Constitution, and to
consecrated traditions and associations both in Church and State, still
his name is associated with the most important and salutary reforms
which England made for half a century. He seems to have been sent to
instruct and guide legislators in a venal and corrupt age. To my mind
Burke looms up, after the lapse of a century, as a prodigy of thought
and knowledge, devoted to the good of his country; an unselfish and
disinterested patriot, as wise and sagacious as he was honest; a sage
whose moral wisdom shines brighter and brighter, since it was based on
the immutable principles of justice and morality. One can extract more
profound and striking epigrams from his speeches and writings than from
any prose writer that England has produced, if we except Francis Bacon.
And these writings and speeches are still valued as among the most
precious legacies of former generations; they form a thesaurus of
political wisdom which statesmen can never exhaust. Burke has left an
example which all statesmen will do well to follow. He was not a popular
favorite, like Fox and Pitt; he was not born to greatness, like North
and Newcastle; he was not liked by the king or the nobility; he was
generally in the ranks of the opposition; he was a new man, like Cicero,
in an aristocratic age,--yet he conquered by his genius the proudest
prejudices; he fought his way upward, inch by inch; he was the founder
of a new national policy, although it was bitterly opposed; and he died
universally venerated for his integrity, wisdom, and foresight. He was
the most remarkable man, on the whole, who has taken part in public
affairs, from the Revolution to our times. Of course, the life and
principles of so great a man are a study. If history has any interest or
value, it is to show the influence of such a man on his own age and the
ages which have succeeded,--to point out his contribution to

Edmund Burke was born, 1730, of respectable parents in Ireland. He was
educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he made a fair proficiency,
but did not give promise of those rare powers which he afterwards
exhibited. He was no prodigy, like Cicero, Pitt, and Macaulay. He early
saw that his native country presented no adequate field for him, and
turned his steps to London at the age of twenty, where he entered as a
student of law in the Inner Temple,--since the Bar was then, what it was
at Rome, what it still is in modern capitals, the usual resort of
ambitious young men. But Burke did not like the law as a profession, and
early dropped the study of it; not because he failed in industry, for he
was the most plodding of students; not because he was deficient in the
gift of speech, for he was a born orator; not because his mind repelled
severe logical deductions, for he was the most philosophical of the
great orators of his day,--not because the law was not a noble field
for the exercise of the highest faculties of the mind, but probably
because he was won by the superior fascinations of literature and
philosophy. Bacon could unite the study of divine philosophy with
professional labors as a lawyer, also with the duties of a legislator;
but the instances are rare where men have united three distinct spheres,
and gained equal distinction in all. Cicero did, and Bacon, and Lord
Brougham; but not Erskine, nor Pitt, nor Canning. Even two spheres are
as much as most distinguished men have filled,--the law with politics,
like Thurlow and Webster; or politics with literature, like Gladstone
and Disraeli. Dr. Johnson, Garrick, and Reynolds, the early friends of
Burke, filled only one sphere.

The early literary life of Burke was signalized by his essay on "The
Sublime and Beautiful," original in its design and execution, a model of
philosophical criticism, extorting the highest praises from Dugald
Stewart and the Abbé Raynal, and attracting so much attention that it
speedily became a text-book in the universities. Fortunately he was able
to pursue literature, with the aid of a small patrimony (about £300 a
year), without being doomed to the hard privations of Johnson, or the
humiliating shifts of Goldsmith. He lived independently of patronage
from the great,--the bitterest trial of the literati of the eighteenth
century, which drove Cowper mad, and sent Rousseau to attics and
solitudes,--so that, in his humble but pleasant home, with his young
wife, with whom he lived amicably, he could see his friends, the great
men of the age, and bestow an unostentatious charity, and maintain his
literary rank and social respectability.

I have sometimes wondered why Burke did not pursue this quiet and
beautiful life,--free from the turmoils of public contest, with leisure,
and friends, and Nature, and truth,--and prepare treatises which would
have been immortal, for he was equal to anything he attempted. But such
was not to be. He was needed in the House of Commons, then composed
chiefly of fox-hunting squires and younger sons of nobles (a body as
ignorant as it was aristocratic),--the representatives not of the people
but of the landed proprietors, intent on aggrandizing their families at
the expense of the nation,--and of fortunate merchants, manufacturers,
and capitalists, in love with monopolies. Such an assembly needed at
that day a schoolmaster, a teacher in the principles of political
economy and political wisdom; a leader in reforming disgraceful abuses;
a lecturer on public duties and public wrongs; a patriot who had other
views than spoils and place; a man who saw the right, and was determined
to uphold it whatever the number or power of his opponents. So Edmund
Burke was sent among them,--ambitious doubtless, stern, intellectually
proud, incorruptible, independent, not disdainful of honors and
influence, but eager to render public services.

It has been the great ambition of Englishmen since the Revolution to
enter Parliament, not merely for political influence, but also for
social position. Only rich men, or members of great families, have found
it easy to do so. To such men a pecuniary compensation is a small
affair. Hence, members of Parliament have willingly served without pay,
which custom has kept poor men of ability from aspiring to the position.
It was not easy, even for such a man as Burke, to gain admission into
this aristocratic assembly. He did not belong to a great family; he was
only a man of genius, learning, and character. The squirearchy of that
age cared no more for literary fame than the Roman aristocracy did for a
poet or an actor. So Burke, ambitious and able as he was, must bide
his time.

His first step in a political career was as private secretary to Gerard
Hamilton, who was famous for having made but one speech, and who was
chief secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Halifax.
Burke soon resigned his situation in disgust, since he was not willing
to be a mere political tool. But his singular abilities had attracted
the attention of the prime minister, Lord Rockingham, who made him his
private secretary, and secured his entrance into Parliament. Lord
Verney, for a seat in the privy council, was induced to give him a
"rotten borough."

Burke entered the House of Commons in 1765, at thirty-five years of age.
He began his public life when the nation was ruled by the great Whig
families, whose ancestors had fought the battles of reform in the times
of Charles and James. This party had held power for seventy years, had
forgotten the principles of the Revolution, and had become venal and
selfish, dividing among its chiefs the spoils of office. It had become
as absolute and unscrupulous as the old kings whom it had once
dethroned. It was an oligarchy of a few powerful whig noblemen, whose
rule was supreme in England. Burke joined this party, but afterwards
deserted it, or rather broke it up, when he perceived its arbitrary
character, and its disregard of the fundamental principles of the
Constitution. He was able to do this after its unsuccessful attempt to
coerce the American colonies.

American difficulties were the great issue of that day. The majority of
the Parliament, both Lords and Commons,--sustained by King George III.,
one of the most narrow-minded, obstinate, and stupid princes who ever
reigned in England; who believed in an absolute jurisdiction over the
colonies as an integral part of the empire, and was bent not only in
enforcing this jurisdiction, but also resorted to the most offensive
and impolitic measures to accomplish it,--this omnipotent Parliament,
fancying it had a right to tax America without her consent, without a
representation even, was resolved to carry out the abstract rights of a
supreme governing power, both in order to assert its prerogative and to
please certain classes in England who wished relief from the burden of
taxation. And because Parliament had this power, it would use it,
against the dictates of expediency and the instincts of common-sense;
yea, in defiance of the great elemental truth in government that even
thrones rest on the affections of the people. Blinded and infatuated
with notions of prerogative, it would not even learn lessons from that
conquered country which for five hundred years it had vainly attempted
to coerce, and which it could finally govern only by a recognition of
its rights.

Now, the great career of Burke began by opposing the leading opinions of
his day in reference to the coercion of the American colonies. He
discarded all theories and abstract rights. He would not even discuss
the subject whether Parliament had a right to tax the colonies. He took
the side of expediency and common-sense. It was enough for him that it
was foolish and irritating to attempt to exercise abstract powers which
could not be carried out. He foresaw and he predicted the consequences
of attempting to coerce such a people as the Americans with the forces
which England could command. He pointed out the infatuation of the
ministers of the crown, then led by Lord North. His speech against the
Boston Port Bill was one of the most brilliant specimens of oratory ever
displayed in the House of Commons. He did not encourage the colonies in
rebellion, but pointed out the course they would surely pursue if the
irritating measures of the Government were not withdrawn. He advocated
conciliation, the withdrawal of theoretic rights, the repeal of
obnoxious taxes, the removal of restrictions on American industry, the
withdrawal of monopolies and of ungenerous distinctions. He would bind
the two countries together by a cord of love. When some member remarked
that it was horrible for children to rebel against their parents, Burke
replied: "It is true the Americans are our children; but when children
ask for bread, shall we give them a stone?" For ten years he labored
with successive administrations to procure reconciliation. He spoke
nearly every day. He appealed to reason, to justice, to common-sense.
But every speech he made was a battle with ignorance and prejudice. "If
you must employ your strength," said he indignantly, "employ it to
uphold some honorable right. I do not enter upon metaphysical
distinctions,--I hate the very name of them. Nobody can be argued into
slavery. If you cannot reconcile your sovereignty with their freedom,
the colonists will cast your sovereignty in your face. It is not enough
that a statesman means well; duty demands that what is right should not
only be made known, but be made prevalent,--that what is evil should not
only be detected, but be defeated. Do not dream that your registers,
your bonds, your affidavits, your instructions, are the things which
hold together the great texture of the mysterious whole. These dead
instruments do not make a government. It is the spirit that pervades and
vivifies an empire which infuses that obedience without which your army
would be a base rabble and your navy nothing but rotten timber." Such is
a fair specimen of his eloquence,--earnest, practical, to the point, yet
appealing to exalted sentiments, and pervaded with moral wisdom; the
result of learning as well as the dictate of a generous and enlightened
policy. When reason failed, he resorted to sarcasm and mockery.
"Because," said he, "we have a right to tax America we must do it; risk
everything, forfeit everything, take into consideration nothing but our
right. O infatuated ministers! Like a silly man, full of his prerogative
over the beasts of the field, who says, there is wool on the back of a
wolf, and therefore he must be sheared. What! shear a wolf? Yes. But
have you considered the trouble? Oh, I have considered nothing but my
right. A wolf is an animal that has wool; all animals that have wool
are to be sheared; and therefore I will shear the wolf."

But I need not enlarge on his noble efforts to prevent a war with the
colonies. They were all in vain. You cannot reason with
infatuation,--_Quem deus vult perdere, prius dementat_. The logic of
events at last showed the wisdom of Burke and the folly of the king and
his ministers, and of the nation at large. The disasters and the
humiliation which attended the American war compelled the ministry to
resign, and the Marquis of Rockingham became prime minister in 1782, and
Burke, the acknowledged leader of his party, became paymaster of the
forces,--an office at one time worth £25,000 a year, before the reform
which Burke had instigated. But this great statesman was not admitted to
the cabinet; George III. did not like him, and his connections were not
sufficiently powerful to overcome the royal objection. In our times he
would have been rewarded with a seat on the treasury bench; with less
talents than he had, the commoners of our day become prime-ministers.
But Burke did not long enjoy even the office of paymaster. On the death
of Lord Rockingham, a few months after he had formed the ministry, Burke
retired from the only office he ever held. And he retired to
Beaconsfield,--an estate which he had purchased with the assistance of
his friend Rockingham, where he lived when parliamentary duties
permitted, in that state of blended elegance, leisure, and study which
is to be found, in the greatest perfection, in England alone.

The political power of Burke culminated at the close of the war with
America, but not his political influence: and there is a great
difference between power and influence. Nor do we read that Burke, after
this, headed the opposition. That position was shared by Charles James
Fox, who ultimately supplanted his master as the leader of his party;
not because Burke declined in wisdom or energy, but because Fox had more
skill as a debater, more popular sympathies, and more influential
friends. Burke, like Gladstone, was too stern, too irritable, too
imperious, too intellectually proud, perhaps too unyielding, to control
such an ignorant, prejudiced, and aristocratic body as the House of
Commons, jealous of his ascendency and writhing under his rebukes. It
must have been galling to the great philosopher to yield the palm to
lesser men; but such has ever been the destiny of genius, except in
crises of public danger. Of all things that politicians hate is the
domination of a man who will not stoop to flatter, who cannot be bribed,
and who will be certain to expose vices and wrongs. The world will not
bear rebukes. The fate of prophets is to be stoned. A stern moral
greatness is repulsive to the weak and wicked. Parties reward mediocre
men, whom they can use or bend; and the greatest benefactors lose their
popularity when they oppose the enthusiasm of new ideas, or become
austere in their instructions. Thus the greatest statesman that this
country has produced since Alexander Hamilton, lost his prestige when
his conciliating policy became offensive to a rising party whose
watchword was "the higher law," although, by his various conflicts with
Southern leaders and his loyalty to the Constitution, he educated the
people to sustain the very war which he foresaw and dreaded. And had
that accomplished senator from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner, who
succeeded to Webster's seat, and who in his personal appearance and
advocacy for reform strikingly resembled Burke,--had he remained
uninjured to our day, with increasing intellectual powers and profounder
moral wisdom, I doubt whether even he would have had much influence with
our present legislators; for he had all the intellectual defects of both
Burke and Webster, and never was so popular as either of them at one
period of their career, while he certainly was inferior to both in
native force, experience, and attainments.

The chief labors of Burke for the first ten years of his parliamentary
life had been mainly in connection with American affairs, and which the
result proved he comprehended better than any man in England. Those of
the next ten years were directed principally to Indian difficulties, in
which he showed the same minuteness of knowledge, the same grasp of
intellect, the same moral wisdom, the same good sense, and the same
regard for justice, that he had shown concerning the colonies. But in
discussing Indian affairs his eloquence takes a loftier flight; he is
less conciliating, more in earnest, more concerned with the principles
of immutable obligations. He abhors the cruelties and tyranny inflicted
on India by Clive and Hastings. He could see no good from an
aggrandizement purchased by injustice and wrong. If it was criminal for
an individual to cheat and steal, it was equally atrocious for a nation
to plunder and oppress another nation, infidel or pagan, white or black.
A righteous anger burned in the breast of Burke as he reflected on the
wrongs and miseries of the natives of India. Why should that ancient
country be ruled for no other purpose than to enrich the younger sons of
a grasping aristocracy and the servants of an insatiable and
unscrupulous Company whose monopoly of spoils was the scandal of the
age? If ever a reform was imperative in the government of a colony, it
was surely in India, where the government was irresponsible. The English
courts of justice there were more terrible to the natives than the very
wrongs they pretended to redress. The customs and laws and moral ideas
of the conquered country were spurned and ignored by the greedy scions
of gentility who were sent to rule a population ten times larger than
that between the Humber and the Thames.

So Burke, after the most careful study of the condition of India, lifted
up his voice against the iniquities which were winked at by Parliament.
But his fierce protest arrayed against him all the parties that indorsed
these wrongs, or who were benefited by them. I need not dwell on his
protracted labors for ten years in behalf of right, without the
sympathies of those who had formerly supported him. No speeches were
ever made in the English House of Commons which equalled, in eloquence
and power, those he made on the Nabob of Arcot's debts and the
impeachment of Warren Hastings. In these famous philippics, he
fearlessly exposed the peculations, the misrule, the oppression, and the
inhuman heartlessness of the Company's servants,--speeches which
extorted admiration, while they humiliated and chastised. I need not
describe the nine years' prosecution of a great criminal, and the escape
of Hastings, more guilty and more fortunate than Verres, from the
punishment he merited, through legal technicalities, the apathy of men
in power, the private influence of the throne, and the sympathies which
fashion excited in his behalf,--and, more than all, because of the
undoubted service he had rendered to his country, if it _was_ a service
to extend her rule by questionable means to the farthermost limits of
the globe. I need not speak of the obloquy which Burke incurred from the
press, which teemed with pamphlets and books and articles to undermine
his great authority, all in the interests of venal and powerful
monopolists. Nor did he escape the wrath of the electors of Bristol,--a
narrow-minded town of India traders and Negro dealers,--who withdrew
from him their support. He had been solicited, in the midst of his
former éclat, to represent this town, rather than the "rotten borough"
of Wendover; and he proudly accepted the honor, and was the idol of his
constituents until he presumed to disregard their instructions in
matters of which he considered they were incompetent to judge. His
famous letter to the electors, in which he refutes and ridicules their
claim to instruct him, as the shoemakers of Lynn wished to instruct
Daniel Webster, is a model of irony, as well as a dignified rebuke of
all ignorant constituencies, and a lofty exposition of the duties of a
statesman rather than of a politician.

He had also incurred the displeasure of the Bristol electors by his
manly defence of the rights of the Irish Catholics, who since the
conquest of William III. had been subjected to the most unjust and
annoying treatment that ever disgraced a Protestant government. The
injustices under which Ireland groaned were nearly as repulsive as the
cruelties inflicted upon the Protestants of France during the reign of
Louis XIV. "On the suppression of the rebellion under Tyrconnel," says
Morley, "nearly the whole of the land was confiscated, the peasants were
made beggars and outlaws, the Penal Laws against Catholics were
enforced, and the peasants were prostrate in despair." Even in 1765 "the
native Irish were regarded by their Protestant oppressors with exactly
that combination of intense contempt and loathing, rage and terror,
which his American counterpart would have divided between the Indian and
the Negro." Not the least of the labors of Burke was to bring to the
attention of the nation the wrongs inflicted on the Irish, and the
impossibility of ruling a people who had such just grounds for
discontent. "His letter upon the propriety of admitting the Catholics to
the elective franchise is one of the wisest of all his productions,--so
enlightened is its idea of toleration, so sagacious is its comprehension
of political exigencies." He did not live to see his ideas carried out,
but he was among the first to prepare the way for Catholic emancipation
in later times.

But a greater subject than colonial rights, or Indian wrongs, or
persecution of the Irish Catholics agitated the mind of Burke, to which
he devoted the energies of his declining years; and this was, the
agitation growing out of the French Revolution. When that "roaring
conflagration of anarchies" broke out, he was in the full maturity of
his power and his fame,--a wise old statesman, versed in the lessons of
human experience, who detested sophistries and abstract theories and
violent reforms; a man who while he loved liberty more than any
political leader of his day, loathed the crimes committed in its name,
and who was sceptical of any reforms which could not be carried on
without a wanton destruction of the foundations of society itself. He
was also a Christian who planted himself on the certitudes of religious
faith, and was shocked by the flippant and shallow infidelity which
passed current for progress and improvement. Next to the infidel spirit
which would make Christianity and a corrupted church identical, as seen
in the mockeries of Voltaire, and would destroy both under the guise of
hatred of superstition, he despised those sentimentalities with which
Rousseau and his admirers would veil their disgusting immoralities. To
him hypocrisy and infidelity, under whatever name they were baptized by
the new apostles of human rights, were mischievous and revolting. And as
an experienced statesman he held in contempt the inexperience of the
Revolutionary leaders, and the unscrupulous means they pursued to
accomplish even desirable ends.

No man more than Burke admitted the necessity of even radical reforms,
but he would have accomplished them without bloodshed and cruelties. He
would not have removed undeniable evils by introducing still greater
ones. He regarded the remedies proposed by the Revolutionary quacks as
worse than the disease which they professed to cure. No man knew better
than he the corruptions of the Catholic church in France, and the
persecuting intolerance which that church had stimulated there ever
since the revocation of the Edict of Nantes,--an intolerance so cruel
that to be married unless in accordance with Catholic usage was to live
in concubinage, and to be suspected of Calvinism was punishable by
imprisonment or the galleys. But because the established church was
corrupt and intolerant, he did not see the necessity for the entire and
wholesale confiscation of its lands and possessions (which had not been
given originally by the nation, but were the bequests of individuals),
thereby giving a vital wound to all the rights of property which
civilization in all countries has held sacred and inviolable. Burke knew
that the Bourbon absolute monarchy was oppressive and tyrannical,
extravagant and indifferent to the welfare of the people; but he would
not get rid of it by cutting off the head of the king, especially when
Louis was willing to make great concessions: he would have limited his
power, or driven him into exile as the English punished James II. He
knew that the nobles abused their privileges; he would have taken them
away rather than attempt to annul their order, and decimate them by
horrid butcheries. He did not deny the necessity of reforms so searching
that they would be almost tantamount to revolution; but he would not
violate both constitutional forms and usages, and every principle of
justice and humanity, in order to effect them.

To Burke's mind, the measures of the revolutionists were all mixed up
with impieties, sophistries, absurdities, and blasphemies, to say
nothing of cruelties and murders. What good could grow out of such an
evil tree? Could men who ignored all duties be the expounders of rights?
What structure could last, when its foundation was laid on the sands of
hypocrisy, injustice, ignorance, and inexperience? What sympathy could
such a man as Burke have for atheistic theories, or a social progress
which scorned the only conditions by which society can be kept together?
The advanced men who inaugurated the Reign of Terror were to him either
fools, or fanatics, or assassins. He did not object to the meeting of
the States-General to examine into the intolerable grievances, and, if
necessary, to strip the king of tyrannical powers, for such a thing the
English parliament had done; but it was quite another thing for _one
branch_ of the States-General to constitute itself the nation, and usurp
the powers and functions of the other two branches; to sweep away,
almost in a single night, the constitution of the realm; to take away
all the powers of the king, imprison him, mock him, insult him, and
execute him, and then to cut off the heads of the nobles who supported
him, and of all people who defended him, even women themselves, and
convert the whole land into a Pandemonium! What contempt must he have
had for legislators who killed their king, decimated their nobles,
robbed their clergy, swept away all social distinctions, abolished the
rites of religion,--all symbols, honors, and privileges; all that was
ancient, all that was venerable, all that was poetic, even to abbey
churches; yea, dug up the very bones of ancient monarchs from the
consecrated vaults where they had reposed for centuries, and scattered
them to the winds; and then amid the mad saturnalia of sacrilege,
barbarity, and blasphemy to proclaim the reign of "Liberty, Fraternity,
and Equality," with Marat for their leader, and Danton for their orator,
and Robespierre for their high-priest; and, finally, to consummate the
infamous farce of reform by openly setting up a wanton woman as the idol
of their worship, under the name of the Goddess of Reason!

But while Burke saw only one side of these atrocities, he did not close
his eyes to the necessity for reforms. Had he been a Frenchman, he would
strenuously have lifted up his voice to secure them, but in a legal and
constitutional manner,--not by violence, not by disregarding the
principles of justice and morality to secure a desirable end. He was
one of the few statesmen then living who would not do evil that good
might come. He was no Jesuit. There is a class of politicians who would
have acted differently; and this class, in his day, was made up of
extreme and radical people, with infidel sympathies. With this class he
was no favorite, and never can be. Conservative people judge him by a
higher standard; they shared at the time in his sympathies and

Even in America the excesses of the Revolution excited general
abhorrence; much more so in England. And it was these excesses, this
mode of securing reform, not reform itself, which excited Burke's
detestation. Who can wonder at this? Those who accept crimes as a
necessary outbreak of revolutionary passions adopt a philosophy which
would veil the world with a funereal and diabolical gloom. Reformers
must be taught that no reforms achieved by crime are worth the cost. Nor
is it just to brand an illustrious man with indifference to great moral
and social movements because he would wait, sooner than upturn the very
principles on which society is based. And here is the great difficulty
in estimating the character and labors of Burke. Because he denounced
the French Revolution, some think he was inconsistent with his early
principles. Not at all; it was the crimes and excesses of the Revolution
he denounced, not the impulse of the French people to achieve their
liberties. Those crimes and excesses he believed to be inconsistent with
an enlightened desire for freedom; but freedom itself, to its utmost
limit and application, consistent with law and order, he desired. Is it
necessary for mankind to win its greatest boons by going through a sea
of anarchies, madness, assassinations, and massacres? Those who take
this view of revolution, it seems to me, are neither wise nor learned.
If a king makes war on his subjects, they are warranted in taking up
arms in their defence, even if the civil war is followed by enormities.
Thus the American colonies took up arms against George III.; but they
did not begin with crimes. Louis XVI. did not take up arms against his
subjects, nor league against them, until they had crippled and
imprisoned him. He made even great concessions; he was willing to make
still greater to save his crown. But the leaders of the revolution were
not content with these, not even with the abolition of feudal
privileges; they wanted to subvert the monarchy itself, to abolish the
order of nobility, to sweep away even the Church,--not the Catholic
establishment only, but the Christian religion also, with all the
institutions which time and poetry had consecrated. Their new heaven and
new earth was not the reign of the saints, which the millenarians of
Cromwell's time prayed for devoutly, but a sort of communistic
equality, where every man could do precisely as he liked, take even his
neighbor's property, and annihilate all distinctions of society, all
inequalities of condition,--a miserable, fanatical dream, impossible to
realize under any form of government which can be conceived. It was this
spirit of reckless innovation, promulgated by atheists and drawn
logically from some principles of the "Social Contract" of which
Rousseau was the author, which excited the ire of Burke. It was license,
and not liberty.

And while the bloody and irreligious excesses of the Revolution called
out his detestation, the mistakes and incapacity of the new legislators
excited his contempt. He condemned a _compulsory_ paper currency,--not a
paper currency, but a compulsory one,--and predicted bankruptcy. He
ridiculed an army without a head,--not the instrument of the executive,
but of a military democracy receiving orders from the clubs. He made
sport of the legislature ruled by the commune, and made up not of men of
experience, but of adventurers, stock-jobbers, directors of assignats,
trustees for the sale of church-lands, who "took a constitution in hand
as savages would a looking-glass,"--a body made up of those courtiers
who wished to cut off the head of their king, of those priests who voted
religion a nuisance, of those lawyers who called the laws a dead letter,
of those philosophers who admitted no argument but the guillotine, of
those sentimentalists who chanted the necessity of more blood, of
butchers and bakers and brewers who would exterminate the very people
who bought from them.

And the result of all this wickedness and folly on the mind of Burke was
the most eloquent and masterly political treatise probably ever
written,--a treatise in which there may be found much angry rhetoric and
some unsound principles, but which blazes with genius on every page,
which coruscates with wit, irony, and invective; scornful and sad
doubtless, yet full of moral wisdom; a perfect thesaurus of political
truths. I have no words with which to express my admiration for the
wisdom and learning and literary excellence of the "Reflections on the
French Revolution" as a whole,--so luminous in statement, so accurate in
the exposure of sophistries, so full of inspired intuitions, so
Christian in its tone. This celebrated work was enough to make any man
immortal. It was written and rewritten with the most conscientious care.
It appeared in 1790; and so great were its merits, so striking, and yet
so profound, that thirty thousand copies were sold in a few weeks. It
was soon translated into all the languages of Europe, and was in the
hands of all thinking men. It was hailed with especial admiration by
Christian and conservative classes, though bitterly denounced by many
intelligent people as gloomy and hostile to progress. But whether liked
or disliked, it made a great impression, and contributed to settle
public opinion in reference to French affairs. What can be more just and
enlightened than such sentiments as these, which represent the spirit of
the treatise:--

"Because liberty is to be classed among the blessings of mankind, am I
to felicitate a madman who has escaped from the restraints of his cell?
There is no qualification for government but virtue and wisdom. Woe be
to that country that would madly reject the service of talents and
virtues. Nothing is an adequate representation of a State that does not
represent its ability as well as property. Men have a right to justice,
and the fruits of industry, and the acquisitions of their parents, and
the improvement of their offspring,--to instruction in life and
consolation in death; but they have no right to what is unreasonable,
and what is not for their benefit. The new professors are so taken up
with rights that they have totally forgotten duties; and without opening
one new avenue to the understanding, they have succeeded in stopping
those that lead to the heart. Those who attempt by outrage and violence
to deprive men of any advantage which they hold under the laws, proclaim
war against society. When, I ask, will such truths become obsolete among
enlightened people; and when will they become stale?"

But with this fierce protest against the madness and violence of the
French Revolution, the wisdom of Burke and of the English nation ended.
The most experienced and sagacious man of his age, with all his wisdom
and prescience, could see only one side of the awful political hurricane
which he was so eloquent in denouncing. His passions and his prejudices
so warped his magnificent intellect, that he could not see the good
which was mingled with the evil; that the doctrine of equality, if false
when applied to the actual condition of men at their birth, is yet a
state to which the institutions of society tend, under the influence of
education and religion; that the common brotherhood of man, mocked by
the tyrants which feudalism produced, is yet to be drawn from the Sermon
on the Mount; that the blood of a plebeian carpenter is as good as that
of an aristocratic captain of artillery; that public burdens which bear
heavily on the poor should also be shared equally by the rich; that all
laws should be abolished which institute unequal privileges; that taxes
should be paid by nobles as well as by peasants; that every man should
be unfettered in the choice of his calling and profession; that there
should be unbounded toleration of religious opinions; that no one should
be arbitrarily arrested and confined without trial and proof of crime;
that men and women, with due regard to the rights of others, should be
permitted to marry whomsoever they please; that, in fact, a total change
in the spirit of government, so imperatively needed in France, was
necessary. These were among the great ideas which the reformers
advocated, but which they did not know how practically to secure on
those principles of justice which they abstractly invoked,--ideas never
afterwards lost sight of, in all the changes of government. And it is
remarkable that the flagrant evils which the Revolution so ruthlessly
swept away have never since been revived, and never can be revived any
more than the oracles of Dodona or the bulls of Mediaeval Rome; amid the
storms and the whirlwinds and the fearful convulsions and horrid
anarchies and wicked passions of a great catastrophe, the imperishable
ideas of progress forced their way.

Nor could Burke foresee the ultimate results of the Revolution any more
than he would admit the truths which were overshadowed by errors and
crimes. Nor, inflamed with rage and scorn, was he wise in the remedies
he proposed. Only God can overrule the wrath of man, and cause melodious
birth-songs to succeed the agonies of dissolution. Burke saw the
absurdity of sophistical theories and impractical equality,--liberty
running into license, and license running into crime; he saw
pretensions, quackeries, inexperience, folly, and cruelty, and he
prophesied what their legitimate effect would be: but he did not see in
the Revolution the pent-up indignation and despair of centuries, nor did
he hear the voices of hungry and oppressed millions crying to heaven
for vengeance. He did not recognize the chastening hand of God on
tyrants and sensualists; he did not see the arm of retributive justice,
more fearful than the daggers of Roman assassins, more stern than the
overthrow of Persian hosts, more impressive than the handwriting on the
wall of Belshazzar's palace; nor could he see how creation would succeed
destruction amid the burnings of that vast funeral pyre. He foresaw,
perhaps, that anarchy would be followed by military despotism; but he
never anticipated a Napoleon Bonaparte, or the military greatness of a
nation so recently ground down by Jacobin orators and sentimental
executioners. He never dreamed that out of the depths and from the
clouds and amid the conflagration there would come a deliverance, at
least for a time, in the person of a detested conqueror; who would
restore law, develop industry, secure order, and infuse enthusiasm into
a country so nearly ruined, and make that country glorious beyond
precedent, until his mad passion for unlimited dominion should arouse
insulted nations to form a coalition which even he should not be
powerful enough to resist, gradually hemming him round in a king-hunt,
until they should at last confine him on a rock in the ocean, to
meditate and to die.

Where Burke and the nation he aroused by his eloquence failed in wisdom,
was in opposing this revolutionary storm with bayonets. Had he and the
leaders of his day confined themselves to rhetoric and arguments, if
ever so exaggerated and irritating; had they allowed the French people
to develop their revolution in their own way, as they had the right to
do,--then the most dreadful war of modern times, which lasted twenty
years, would have been confined within smaller limits. Napoleon would
have had no excuse for aggressive warfare; Pitt would not have died of a
broken heart; large standing armies, the curse of Europe, would not have
been deemed so necessary; the ancient limits of France might have been
maintained; and a policy of development might have been inaugurated,
rather than a policy which led to future wars and national humiliation.
The gigantic struggles of Napoleon began when France was attacked by
foreign nations, fighting for their royalties and feudalities, and
aiming to suppress a domestic revolution which was none of their
concern, and which they imperfectly understood.

But at this point we must stop, for I tread on ground where only
speculation presumes to stand. The time has not come to solve such a
mighty problem as the French Revolution, or even the career of Napoleon
Bonaparte. We can pronounce on the logical effects of right and
wrong,--that violence leads to anarchy, and anarchy to ruin; but we
cannot tell what would have been the destiny of France if the Revolution
had not produced Napoleon, nor what would have been the destiny of
England if Napoleon had not been circumvented by the powers of Europe.
On such questions we are children; the solution of them is hidden by the
screens of destiny; we can only speculate. And since we short-sighted
mortals cannot tell what will be the ultimate effect of the great
agitations of society, whether begun in noble aspirations or in depraved
passions, it is enough for us to settle down, with firm convictions, on
what we can see,--that crimes, under whatever name they go, are
eternally to be reprobated, whatever may be the course they are made to
take by Him who rules the universe. It would be difficult to single out
any memorable war in this world's history which has not been ultimately
overruled for the good of the world, whatever its cause or
character,--like the Crusades, the most unfortunate in their immediate
effects of all the great wars which nations have madly waged. But this
only proves that God is stronger than devils, and that he overrules the
wrath of man. "It must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man
by whom the offence cometh." There is only one standard by which to
judge the actions of men; there is only one rule whereby to guide
nations or individuals,--and that is, to do right; to act on the
principles of immutable justice.

Now, whatever were the defects in the character or philosophy of Burke,
it cannot be denied that this was the law which he attempted to obey,
the rule which he taught to his generation. In this light, his life and
labors command our admiration, because he _did_ uphold the right and
condemn the wrong, and was sufficiently clear-headed to see the
sophistries which concealed the right and upheld the wrong. That was his
peculiar excellence. How loftily his majestic name towers above the
other statesmen of his troubled age! Certainly no equal to him, in
England, has since appeared, in those things which give permanent fame.
The man who has most nearly approached him is Gladstone. If the
character of our own Webster had been as reproachless as his intellect
was luminous and comprehensive, he might be named in the same category
of illustrious men. Like the odor of sanctity, which was once supposed
to emanate from a Catholic saint, the halo of Burke's imperishable glory
is shed around every consecrated retreat of that land which thus far has
been the bulwark of European liberty. The English nation will not let
him die; he cannot die in the hearts and memories of man any more than
can Socrates or Washington. No nation will be long ungrateful for
eminent public services, even if he who rendered them was stained by
grave defects; for it is services which make men immortal. Much more
will posterity reverence those benefactors whose private lives were in
harmony with their principles,--the Hales, the L'Hôpitals, the Hampdens
of the world. To this class Burke undeniably belonged. All writers agree
as to his purity of morals, his generous charities, his high social
qualities, his genial nature, his love of simple pleasures, his deep
affections, his reverence, his Christian life. He was a man of sorrows,
it is true, like most profound and contemplative natures, whose labors
are not fully appreciated,--like Cicero, Dante, and Michael Angelo. He
was doomed, too, like Galileo, to severe domestic misfortunes. He was
greatly afflicted by the death of his only son, in whom his pride and
hopes were bound up. "I am like one of those old oaks which the late
hurricane has scattered about me," said he. "I am torn up by the roots;
I lie prostrate on the earth." And when care and disease hastened his
departure from a world he adorned, his body was followed to the grave by
the most illustrious of the great men of the land, and the whole nation
mourned as for a brother or a friend.

But it is for his writings and published speeches that he leaves the
most enduring fame; and what is most valuable in his writings is his
elucidation of fundamental principles in morals and philosophy. And here
was his power,--not his originality, for which he was distinguished in
an eminent degree; not learning, which amazed his auditors; not sarcasm,
of which he was a master; not wit, with which he brought down the
house; not passion, which overwhelmed even such a man as Hastings; not
fluency, with every word in the language at his command; not criticism,
so searching that no sophistry could escape him; not philosophy, musical
as Apollo's lyre,--but _insight_ into great principles, the moral force
of truth clearly stated and fearlessly defended. This elevated him to a
sphere which words and gestures, and the rich music and magnetism of
voice and action can never reach, since it touched the heart and the
reason and the conscience alike, and produced convictions that nothing
can stifle. There were more famous and able men than he, in some
respects, in Parliament at the time. Fox surpassed him in debate, Pitt
in ready replies and adaptation to the genius of the house, Sheridan in
wit, Townsend in parliamentary skill, Mansfield in legal acumen; but no
one of these great men was so forcible as Burke in the statement of
truths which future statesmen will value. And as he unfolded and applied
the imperishable principles of right and wrong, he seemed like an
ancient sage bringing down to earth the fire of the divinities he
invoked and in which he believed, not to chastise and humiliate, but to
guide and inspire.

In recapitulating the services by which Edmund Burke will ultimately be
judged, I would say that he had a hand in almost every movement for
which his generation is applauded. He gave an impulse to almost every
political discussion which afterwards resulted in beneficent reform.
Some call him a croaker, without sympathy for the ideas on which modern
progress is based; but he was really one of the great reformers of his
day. He lifted up his voice against the slave-trade; he encouraged and
lauded the labors of Howard; he supported the just claims of the
Catholics; he attempted, though a churchman, to remove the restrictions
to which dissenters were subjected; he opposed the cruel laws against
insolvent debtors; he sought to soften the asperities of the Penal Code;
he labored to abolish the custom of enlisting soldiers for life; he
attempted to subvert the dangerous powers exercised by judges in
criminal prosecutions for libel; he sought financial reform in various
departments of the State; he would have abolished many useless offices
in the government; he fearlessly exposed the wrongs of the East India
Company; he tried to bring to justice the greatest political criminal of
the day; he took the right side of American difficulties, and advocated
a policy which would have secured for half a century longer the
allegiance of the American colonies, and prevented the division of the
British empire; he advocated measures which saved England, possibly,
from French subjugation; he threw the rays of his genius over all
political discussions; and he left treatises which from his day to ours
have proved a mine of political and moral wisdom, for all whose aim or
business it has been to study the principles of law or government.
These, truly, were services for which any country should be grateful,
and which should justly place Edmund Burke on the list of great
benefactors. These constitute a legacy of which all nations should
be proud.


Works and Correspondence of Edmund Burke; Life and Times of Edmund
Burke, by Macknight (the ablest and fullest yet written); An Historical
Study, by Morley (very able); Lives of Burke by Croly, Prior, and
Bisset; Grenville Papers; Parliamentary History; the Encyclopaedia
Britannica has a full article on Burke; Massey's History of England;
Chatham's Correspondence; Moore's Life of Sheridan; also the Lives of
Pitt and Fox; Lord Brougham's Sketch of Burke; C.W. Dilke's Papers of a
Critic; Boswell's Life of Johnson. The most brilliant of Burke's
writings, "Reflections on the French Revolution," should be read by


A.D. 1769-1821.


It is difficult to say anything new about Napoleon Bonaparte, either in
reference to his genius, his character, or his deeds.

His genius is universally admitted, both as a general and an
administrator. No general so great has appeared in our modern times. He
ranks with Alexander and Caesar in ancient times, and he is superior to
Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, Condé, Marlborough, Frederic II.,
Wellington, or any of the warriors who have figured in the great wars of
Europe, from Charlemagne to the battle of Waterloo. His military career
was so brilliant that it dazzled contemporaries. Without the advantages
of birth or early patronage, he rose to the highest pinnacle of human
glory. His victories were prodigious and unexampled; and it took all
Europe to resist him. He aimed at nothing less than universal
sovereignty; and had he not, when intoxicated with his conquests,
attempted impossibilities, his power would have been practically
unlimited in France. He had all the qualities for success in
war,--insight, fertility of resource, rapidity of movement, power of
combination, coolness, intrepidity, audacity, boldness tempered by
calculation, will, energy which was never relaxed, powers of endurance,
and all the qualities which call out enthusiasm and attach soldiers and
followers to personal interests. His victorious career was unchecked
until all the nations of Europe, in fear and wrath, combined against
him. He was a military prodigy, equally great in tactics and
strategy,--a master of all the improvements which had been made in the
art of war, from Epaminondas to Frederic II.

His genius for civil administration was equally remarkable, and is
universally admitted. Even Metternich, who detested him, admits that "he
was as great as a statesman as he was as a warrior, and as great as an
administrator as he was as a statesman." He brought order out of
confusion, developed the industry of his country, restored the finances,
appropriated and rewarded all eminent talents, made the whole machinery
of government subservient to his aims, and even seemed to animate it by
his individual will. He ruled France as by the power of destiny. The
genius of Richelieu, of Mazarin, and of Colbert pale before his
enlightened mind, which comprehended equally the principles of political
science and the vast details of a complicated government. For executive
ability I know no monarch who has surpassed him.

We do not associate with military genius, as a general rule, marked
intellectual qualities in other spheres. But Napoleon was an exception
to this rule. He was tolerably well educated, and he possessed
considerable critical powers in art, literature, and science. He
penetrated through all shams and impostures. He was rarely deceived as
to men or women. He could be eloquent and interesting in conversation.
Some of his expressions pierced like lightning, and were exceedingly
effective. His despatches were laconic and clear. He knew something
about everybody of note, and if he had always been in a private station
his intellectual force would have attracted attention in almost any
vocation he might have selected. His natural vivacity, wit, and
intensity would have secured friends and admirers in any sphere.

Nor are the judgments of mankind less unanimous in reference to his
character than his intellect and genius. He stands out in history in a
marked manner with two sides,--great and little, good and bad. None can
deny him many good qualities. His industry was marvellous; he was
temperate in eating and drinking; he wasted no precious time; he
rewarded his friends, to whom he was true; he did not persecute his
enemies unless they stood in his way, and unless he had a strong
personal dislike for them, as he had for Madame de Staël; he could be
magnanimous at times; he was indulgent to his family, and allowed his
wife to buy as many India shawls and diamonds as she pleased; he was
never parsimonious in his gifts, although personally inclined to
economy; he generally ruled by the laws he had accepted or enacted; he
despised formalities and etiquette; he sought knowledge from every
quarter; he encouraged merit in all departments; he was not ruled by
women, like most of the kings of France; he was not enslaved by
prejudices, and was lenient when he could afford to be; and in the
earlier part of his career he was doubtless patriotic in his devotion to
the interests of his country.

Moreover, many of his faults were the result of circumstances, and of
the unprecedented prosperity which he enjoyed. Pride, egotism, tyranny,
and ostentation were to be expected of a man whose will was law. Nearly
all men would have exhibited these traits, had they been seated on such
a throne as his; and almost any man's temper would have occasionally
given way under such burdens as he assumed, such hostilities as he
encountered, and such treasons as he detected. Surrounded by spies and
secret enemies, he was obliged to be reserved. With a world at his feet,
it was natural that he should be arbitrary and impatient of
contradiction. There have been successful railway magnates as imperious
as he, and bank presidents as supercilious, and clerical dignitaries as
haughty, in their smaller spheres. Pride, consciousness, and egotism are
the natural result of power and flattery in all conditions of life; and
when a single man controls the destinies of nations, he is an exception
to the infirmities of human nature if he does not seek to bend
everything before his haughty will. There have been many Richelieus,
there has been but one Marcus Aurelius; many Hildebrands, only one
Alfred; many Ahabs, only one David, one St. Louis, one Washington.

But with all due allowance for the force of circumstances in the
development of character, and for those imperial surroundings which
blind the arbiters of nations, there were yet natural traits of
character in Napoleon which call out the severest reprobation, and which
make him an object of indignation and intense dislike among true-minded
students of history. His egotism was almost superhuman, his selfishness
was most unscrupulous, his ambition absolutely boundless. He claimed a
monopoly in perfidy and lying; he had no idea of moral responsibility;
he had no sympathy with misfortune, no conscience, no fear of God. He
was cold, hard, ironical, and scornful. He was insolent in his treatment
of women, brusque in manners, severe on all who thwarted or opposed him.
He committed great crimes in his ascent to supreme dominion, and mocked
the reason, the conscience, and the rights of mankind. He broke the most
solemn treaties; he was faithless to his cause; he centred in himself
the interests he was intrusted to guard; he recklessly insulted all the
governments of Europe; he put himself above Providence; he disgracefully
elevated his brothers; he sought to aggrandize himself at any cost, and
ruthlessly grasped the sceptre of universal dominion as if he were an
irresistible destiny whom it was folly to oppose, In all this he aimed
to be greater than conscience.

Such was the character of a despot who arose upon the ruins of the old
monarchy,--the product of a revolution, whose ideas he proposed to
defend. Most historians, and all moralists, are on the whole unanimous
in this verdict. As for his deeds, they rise up before our minds,
compelling admiration and awe. He was the incarnation of force; he
performed the most brilliant exploits of our modern times.

The question then arises, whether his marvellous gifts and transcendent
opportunities were directed to the good of his country and the cause of
civilization. In other words, did he render great services to France,
which make us forget his faults? How will he be judged by enlightened
posterity? May he be ranked among great benefactors, like Constantine.
Charlemagne, Theodosius, Peter the Great, and Oliver Cromwell? It is the
privilege of great sovereigns to be judged for their services rather
than by their defects.

Let us summon, then, this great Emperor before the bar of universal
reason. Let him make his own defence. Let us first hear what he has to
say for himself, for he is the most distinguished culprit of modern
times, and it may yet take three generations to place him in his true
historical niche; and more, his fame, though immortal, may forever be in
doubt, like that of Julius Caesar, whom we still discuss.

This great man may quietly yet haughtily say to us who seek to take his
measure: "It is for my services to France that I claim to be judged. I
do not claim perfection. I admit I made grand mistakes; I even committed
acts which the world stigmatizes as crimes. I seized powers which did
not belong to me; I overthrew constitutions; I made myself supreme; I
mocked the old powers of earth; I repudiated the ideas in the name of
which I climbed to a throne; I was harsh, insolent, and tyrannical; I
divorced the wife who was the maker of my fortune; I caused the
assassination of the Duc d'Enghien; I invaded Spain and Russia; and I
wafted the names of my conquering generals to the ends of the earth in
imprecations and curses. These were my mistakes,--crimes, if you please
to call them; but it is not for these you must judge me. Did I not come
to the rescue of law and order when France was torn with anarchies? Did
I not deliver the constituted authorities from the mob? Did I not rescue
France from foreign enemies when they sought to repress the Revolution
and restore the Bourbons? Was I not the avenger of twenty-five hungry
millions on those old tyrants who would have destroyed their
nationality? Did I not break up those combinations which would have
perpetuated the enslavement of Europe? Did I not seek to plant liberty
in Italy and destroy the despotisms of German princes? Did I not give
unity to great States and enlarge their civilization? Did I not rebuke
and punish Austria, Prussia, Russia, and England for interfering with
our Revolution and combining against the rights of a republic? Did I not
elevate France, and give scope to its enterprise, and develop its
resources, and inspire its citizens with an unknown enthusiasm, and make
the country glorious, so that even my enemies came to my court to wonder
and applaud? And did I not leave such an immortal prestige, even when I
was disarmed and overthrown by the armies of combined Christendom, that
my illustrious name, indelibly engraved in the hearts of my countrymen,
was enough to seat my nephew on the throne from which I was torn, and
give to his reign a glory scarcely inferior to my own? These were my
services to France,--the return of centralized power amid anarchies and
discontents and laws which successive revolutions have not destroyed,
but which shall blaze in wisdom through successive generations."

Now, how far can these claims be substantiated? Was Napoleon, although a
usurper, like Cromwell and Caesar, also a benefactor like them; and did
his fabric of imperialism prove a blessing to civilization? What, in
reality, were his services? Do they offset his aspirations and crimes?
Is he worthy of the praises of mankind? Great deeds he performed, but
did they ultimately tend to the welfare of France and of Europe?

It was a great service which Napoleon rendered to France, in the
beginning of his career, at the siege of Toulon, when he was a
lieutenant of artillery. He disobeyed, indeed, the orders of his
superiors, but won success by the skill with which he planted his
cannon, showing remarkable genius. This service to the Republic was not
forgotten, although he remained long unemployed, living obscurely at
Paris with straitened resources. By some means he caught the ear of
Barras, the most able of the Directory, and was intrusted with the
defence of the Convention in a great crisis, and saved it by his "whiff
of grapeshot," as Carlyle calls his dispersion of the mob in the streets
of Paris, from the steps of St. Roch. This, doubtless, was a service to
the cause of law and order, since he acted under orders, and discharged
his duty, like an obedient servant of the constituted authorities,
without reluctance, and with great skill,--perhaps the only man of
France, at that time, who could have done that important work so well,
and with so little bloodshed. Had the sections prevailed,--and it was
feared that they would,--the anarchy of the worst days of the Revolution
would have resulted. But this decisive action of the young officer,
intrusted with a great command, put an end for forty years to the
assumption of unlawful weapons by the mob. There was no future
insurrection of the people against government till Louis Philippe was
placed upon the throne in 1830. Napoleon here vindicated not only the
cause of law and order, but the Revolution itself; for in spite of its
excesses and crimes, it had abolished feudalism, unequal privileges, the
reign of priests and nobles, and a worn-out monarchy; it had proclaimed
a constitutional government, in the face of all the European despotisms;
it had asserted that self-government was a possibility, even in France;
it had inspired the whole nation with enthusiasm, and proclaimed the
Republic when hostile armies were ready to march upon the soil of France
and restore the Bourbons. All the impulses of the Revolution were
generous; all its struggles were heroic, although it was sullied with
crimes, and was marked by inexperience and follies. The nation rallied
around a great idea,--an idea which is imperishable, and destined to
unbounded triumph. To this idea of liberty Napoleon was not then
unfaithful, although some writers assert that he was ready to draw his
sword in any cause which promised him promotion.

The National Convention, which he saved by military genius and supreme
devotion to it, had immortalized itself by inspiring France with
heroism; and after a struggle of three years with united Christendom,
jealous of liberty, dissolved itself, and transferred the government to
a Directory.

This Directory, in reward of the services which Napoleon had rendered,
and in admiration of his genius, bestowed upon him the command of the
army of Italy. Probably Josephine, whom he then married, had sufficient
influence with Barras to secure the appointment. It was not popular with
the generals, of course, to have a young man of twenty-six, without
military prestige, put over their heads. But results soon justified the
discernment of Barras.

At the head of only forty thousand men, poorly clad and equipped and
imperfectly fed, Napoleon in four weeks defeated the Sardinians, and in
less than two years, in eighteen pitched battles, he destroyed the
Austrian armies which were about to invade France. That glorious
campaign of 1796 is memorable for the conquest of Piedmont and Lombardy,
and the establishment of French supremacy in Italy. Napoleon's career
on the banks of the Po was so brilliant, unexpected, and startling, that
his nation was filled with equal astonishment and admiration. Instead of
predicted ruin, there was unexampled victory. The enthusiasm of the
French was unbounded. Had Napoleon died at the Bridge of Lodi, he would
have passed down in history as a Judas Maccabaeus. In this campaign he
won the hearts of his soldiers, and secured the admiration of his
generals. There was something new in his system of fighting, not seen at
least in modern times,--a rapid massing of his troops, and a still more
rapid concentration of them upon the weak points of the enemy's lines,
coming down on them like a mountain torrent, and sweeping everything
before him, in defiance of all rules and precedents. A new master in the
art of war, greater than Condé, or Turenne, or Marlborough, or Frederic
II., had suddenly arisen, with amazing audacity and faith in himself.

The deliverance of republican France from four great Austrian armies was
a grand service; and Napoleon merited its gratitude and all the honors
he received. He had violated no trust thus far. He was still Citizen
Bonaparte, professing liberal principles, and fighting under the flag of
liberty, to make the Republic respected, independent, and powerful. He
robbed Italy, it is true, of some of her valuable pictures, and exacted
heavy contributions; but this is war. He was still the faithful servant
of France.

On his return to Paris as a conqueror, the people of course were
enthusiastic in their praises, and the Government was jealous. It had
lost the confidence of the nation. All eyes were turned upon the
fortunate soldier who had shown so much ability, and who had given glory
to the country. He may not yet have meditated usurpation, but he
certainly had dreams of power. He was bent on rising to a greater
height; but he could do nothing at present, nor did he feel safe in
Paris amid so much envy, although he lived simply and shunned popular
idolatry. But his restless nature craved activity; so he sought and
obtained an army for the invasion of Egypt. He was inspired with a
passion of conquest, and the Directory was glad to get rid of so
formidable a rival.

He had plainly rendered to his country two great services, without
tarnishing his own fame, or being false to his cause. But what excuse
had he to give to the bar of enlightened posterity for the invasion of
Egypt? The idea originated with himself. It was not a national
necessity. It was simply an unwarrantable war: it was a crime; it was a
dream of conquest, without anything more to justify it than Alexander's
conquests in India, or any other conquest by ambitious and restless
warriors. He hoped to play the part of Alexander,--to found a new
empire in the East. It was his darling scheme. It would give him power,
and perhaps sovereignty. Some patriotic notions may have blended with
his visions. Perhaps he would make a new route to India; perhaps cut off
the empire of the English in the East; perhaps plant colonies among
worn-out races; perhaps destroy the horrid empire of the Turks; perhaps
make Constantinople the seat of French influence and empire in the East.
But what harm had Turkey or Syria or Egypt done to France? Did they
menace the peace of Europe? Did even suffering Egyptians call upon him
to free them from a Turkish yoke? No: it was a meditated conquest, on
the same principles of ambition and aggrandizement which ever have
animated unlawful conquests, and therefore a political crime; not to be
excused because other nations have committed such crimes, ultimately
overruled to the benefit of civilization, like the conquest of India by
England, and Texas by the United States.

I will not dwell on this expedition, which failed through the
watchfulness of the English, the naval victory of Nelson at the Nile,
and the defence of Acre by Sir Sidney Smith. It was the dream of
Napoleon at that time to found an empire in the East, of which he would
be supreme; but he missed his destiny, and was obliged to return,
foiled, baffled, and chagrined, to Paris;--his first great

But he had lost no prestige, since he performed prodigies of valor, and
covered up his disasters by lying bulletins. Here he first appeared as
the arch-liar, which he was to the close of his career. In this
expedition he rendered no services to his country or to civilization,
except in the employment of scientific men to decipher the history of
Egypt,--which showed that he had an enlightened mind.

During his absence disasters had overtaken France. Italy was torn from
her grasp, her armies had been defeated, and Russia, Austria, and
England were leagued for her overthrow. Insurrection was in the
provinces, and dissensions raged in Paris. The Directory had utterly
lost public confidence, and had shown no capacity to govern. All eyes
were turned to the conqueror of Italy, and, as it was supposed, of
Egypt also.

A _coup d'état_ followed. Napoleon's soldiers drove the legislative body
from the hall, and he assumed the supreme control, under the name of
First Consul. Thus ended the Republic in November, 1799, after a brief
existence of seven years. The usurpation of a soldier began, who trod
the constitution and liberty under his iron feet. He did what Caesar and
Cromwell had done, on the plea of revolutionary necessity. He put back
the march of liberty for nearly half-a-century. His sole excuse was that
his undeniable usurpation was ratified by the votes of the French
people, intoxicated by his victories, and seeing no way to escape from
the perils which surrounded them than under his supreme guidance. They
parted with their liberties for safety. Had Napoleon been compelled to
"wade through slaughter to his throne,"--as Caesar did, as Augustus
did,--there would have been no excuse for his usurpation, except the
plea of Caesar, that liberty was impossible, and the people needed the
strong arm of despotism to sustain law and order. But Napoleon was more
adroit; he appealed to the people themselves, recognizing them as the
source of power, and they confirmed his usurpation by an
overwhelming majority.

Since he was thus the people's choice, I will not dwell on the
usurpation. He cheated them, however; for he invoked the principles of
the Revolution, and they believed him,--as they afterwards did his
nephew. They wanted a better executive government, and were willing to
try him, since he had proved his abilities; but they did not anticipate
the utter suppression of constitutional government,--they still had
faith in the principles of their Revolution. They abhorred absolutism;
they abhor it still; to destroy it they had risked their Revolution. To
the principles of the Revolution the great body of French people have
been true, when permitted to be, from the time when they hurled Louis
XVI. from the throne. Absolutism with the consent of the French nation
has passed away forever, and never can be revived, any more than the
oracles of Dodona or the bulls of Mediaeval popes.

Now let us consider whether, as the executive of the French nation, he
was true to the principles of the Revolution, which he invoked, and
which that people have ever sought to establish.

In some respects, it must be confessed, he was, and in other respects he
was not. He never sought to revive feudalism; all its abominations
perished. He did not bring back the law of entail, nor unequal
privileges, nor the _régime_ of nobles. He ruled by the laws; rewarding
merit, and encouraging what was obviously for the interests of the
nation. The lives and property of the people were protected. The _idea_
of liberty was never ignored. If liberty was suppressed to augment his
power and cement his rule, it was in the name of public necessity, as an
expression of the interests he professed to guard. When he incited his
soldiers to battle, it was always under pretence of delivering enslaved
nations and spreading the principles of the Revolution, whose product he
was. And until he assumed the imperial title most of his acts were
enlightened, and for the benefit of the people he ruled; there was no
obvious oppression on the part of government, except to provide means to
sustain the army, without which France must succumb to enemies. While he
was First Consul, it would seem that the hostility of Europe was more
directed towards France herself for having expelled the Bourbons, than
against him as a dangerous man. Europe could not forgive France for her
Revolution,--not even England; Napoleon was but the necessity which the
political complications arising from the Revolution seemed to create.
Hence, the wars which Napoleon conducted while he was First Consul were
virtually defensive, since all Europe aimed to put down France,--such a
nest of assassins and communists and theorists!--rather than to put down
Napoleon; for, although usurper, he was, strange to say, the nation's
choice as well as idol. He reigned by the will of the nation, and he
could not have reigned without. The nation gave him his power, to be
wielded to protect France, in imminent danger from foreign powers.

And wisely and grandly did he use it at first. He turned his attention
to the internal state of a distracted country, and developed its
resources and promoted tranquillity; he appointed the ablest men,
without distinction of party, for his ministers and prefects; he
restored the credit of the country; he put a stop to forced loans; he
released priests from confinement; he rebuked the fanaticism of the
ultra-revolutionists, he reorganized the public bodies; he created
tribunals of appeal; he ceased to confiscate the property of emigrants,
and opened a way for their return; he restored the right of disposing
property by will; he instituted the Bank of France on sound financial
principles; he checked all disorders; he brought to a close the
desolating war of La Vendée; he retained what was of permanent value in
the legislation of the Revolution; he made the distribution of the
public burdens easy; he paid his army, and rewarded eminent men, whom he
enlisted in his service. So stable was the government, and so wise were
the laws, and so free were all channels of industry, that prosperity
returned to the distracted country. The middle classes were particularly
benefited,--the shopkeepers and mechanics,--and they acquiesced in a
strong rule, since it seemed beneficent. The capital was enriched and
adorned and improved. A treaty with the Pope was made, by which the
clergy were restored to their parishes. A new code of laws was made by
great jurists, on the principles of the Justinian Code. A magnificent
road was constructed over the Alps. Colonial possessions were recovered.
Navies were built, fortifications repaired, canals dug, and the
beet-root and tobacco cultivated.

But these internal improvements, by which France recovered prosperity,
paled before the services which Napoleon rendered as a defender of his
country's nationality. He had proposed a peace-policy to England in an
autograph letter to the King, which was treated as an insult, and
answered by the British government by a declaration of war, to last till
the Bourbons were restored,--perhaps what Napoleon wanted and expected;
and war was renewed with Austria and England. The consulate was now
marked by the brilliant Italian campaign,--the passage over the Alps;
the battle of Marengo, gained by only thirty thousand men; the recovery
of Italy, and renewed military _éclat_. The Peace of Amiens, October,
1801, placed Napoleon in the proudest position which any modern
sovereign ever enjoyed. He was now thirty-three years of age,--supreme
in France, and powerful throughout Europe. The French were proud of a
man who was glorious both in peace and war; and his consulate had been
sullied by only one crime,--the assassination of the heir of the house
of Condé; a blunder, as Talleyrand said, rather than a crime, since it
arrayed against him all the friends of Legitimacy in Europe.

Had Napoleon been contented with the power he then enjoyed as First
Consul for life, and simply stood on the defensive, he could have made
France invincible, and would have left a name comparatively
reproachless. But we now see unmistakable evidence of boundless personal
ambition, and a policy of unscrupulous aggrandizement. He assumes the
imperial title,--greedy for the trappings as well as the reality of
power; he openly founds a new dynasty of kings; he abolishes every
trace of constitutional rule; he treads liberty under his feet, and
mocks the very ideas by which he had inspired enthusiasm in his troops;
his watchword is now not _Liberty_, but _Glory_; he centres in himself
the interests of France; he surrounds himself, at the Tuileries, with
the pomp and ceremonies of the ancient kings; and he even induces the
Pope himself to crown him at Notre Dame. It was a proud day, December 2,
1804, when, surrounded by all that was brilliant and imposing in France,
Napoleon proceeded in solemn procession to the ancient cathedral, where
were assembled the magistrates, the bishops, and the titled dignitaries
of the realm, and received, in his imperial robes, from the hands of the
Pope, the consecrated sceptre and crown of empire, and heard from the
lips of the supreme pontiff of Christendom those words which once
greeted Charlemagne in the basilica of St. Peter when the Roman clergy
proclaimed him Emperor of the West,--_Vivat in oeternum semper
Augustus_. The venerable aisles and pillars and arches of the ancient
cathedral resounded to the music of five hundred performers in a solemn
_Te Deum_. The sixty prelates of France saluted the anointed soldier as
their monarch, while the inspiring cry from the vast audience of _Vive
l'Empereur!_ announced Napoleon's entrance into the circle of European

But this fresh usurpation, although confirmed by a vote of the French
people, was the signal for renewed hostilities. A coalition of all
governments unfriendly to France was formed. Military preparations
assumed a magnitude never seen before in the history of Europe, which
now speedily became one vast camp. Napoleon quit his capital to assume
the conduct of armies. He had threatened England with invasion, which he
knew was impossible, for England then had nearly one thousand ships of
war, manned by one hundred and twenty thousand men. But when Napoleon
heard of the victories of Nelson, he suddenly and rapidly marched to the
Rhine, and precipitated one hundred and eighty thousand troops upon
Austria, who was obliged to open her capital. Then, reinforced by
Russia, Austria met the invader at Austerlitz with equal forces; but
only to suffer crushing defeat. Pitt died of a broken heart when he
heard of this decisive French victory, followed shortly after by the
disastrous overthrow of the Prussians at Jena, and that, again, by the
victory of Eylau over the Russians, which secured the peace of Tilsit,
1807,--making Napoleon supreme on the continent of Europe at the age of
thirty-nine. It was deemed idle to resist further this "man of destiny,"
who in twelve years, from the condition of an unemployed officer of
artillery, without friends or family or influence, had subdued in turn
all the monarchies of Europe, with the exception of England and Russia,
and regulated at his pleasure the affairs of distant courts. To what an
eminence had he climbed! Nothing in history or romance approaches the
facts of his amazing career.

And even down to this time--to the peace of Tilsit--there are no grave
charges against him which history will not extenuate, aside from the
egotism of his character. He claims that he fought for French
nationality, in danger from the united hostilities of Europe. Certainly
his own glory was thus far identified with the glory of his country. He
had rescued France by a series of victories more brilliant than had been
achieved for centuries. He had won a fame second to that of no conqueror
in the world's history.

But these astonishing successes seem to have turned his head. He is
dazzled by his own greatness, and intoxicated by the plaudits of his
idolaters. He proudly and coldly says that "it is a proof of the
weakness of the human understanding for any one to dream of resisting
him." He now aims at a universal military monarchy; he seeks to make the
kings of the earth his vassals; he places the members of his family,
whether worthy or unworthy, on ancient thrones; he would establish on
the banks of the Seine that central authority which once emanated from
Rome; he apes the imperial Caesars in the arrogance of his tone and the
insolence of his demands; he looks upon Europe as belonging to himself;
he becomes a tyrant of the race; he centres in the gratification of his
passions the interests of humanity; he becomes the angry Nemesis of
Europe, indifferent to the sufferings of mankind and the peace of
the world.

After the peace of Tilsit his whole character seems to have changed,
even in little things. No longer is he affable and courteous, but
silent, reserved, and sullen. His temper becomes bad; his brow is
usually clouded; his manners are brusque; his egotism is transcendent.
"Your first duty," said he to his brother Louis, when he made him king
of Holland, "is to _me_; your second, to France." He becomes intolerably
haughty, even to the greatest personages. He insults the ladies of the
court, and pinches their ears, so that they feel relieved when he has
passed them by. He no longer flatters, but expects incense from
everybody. In his bursts of anger he breaks china and throws his coat
into the fire. He turns himself into a master of ceremonies; he cheats
at cards; he persecutes literary men.

Napoleon's career of crime is now consummated. He divorces
Josephine,--the greatest mistake of his life. He invades Spain and
Russia, against the expostulations of his wisest counsellors, showing
that he has lost his head, that reason has toppled on her throne,--for
he fancies himself more powerful than the forces of Nature. All these
crimes are utterly inexcusable, except on the plea of madness. Such
gigantic crimes, such a recklessness of life, such uncontrollable
ambition, such a defiance of justice, such an abrogation of treaties,
such a disregard of the interests of humanity, to say nothing of the
welfare of France, prostituted, enslaved, down-trodden,--and all to
nurse his diabolical egotism,--astonished and shocked the whole
civilized world. These things more than balanced all the services he
ever rendered, since they directly led to the exhaustion of his country.
They were so atrocious that they cried aloud to Heaven for vengeance.

And Heaven heard the agonizing shrieks of misery which ascended from the
smoking ruins of Moscow, from the bloody battlefield of Borodino, from
the river Berezina, from the homes of the murdered soldiers, from the
widows and orphans of more than a million of brave men who had died to
advance his glory, from the dismal abodes of twenty-five millions more
whom he had cheated out of their liberties and mocked with his ironical
proclamations; yea, from the millions in Prussia, Austria, and England
who had been taxed to the uttermost to defeat him, and had died martyrs
to the cause of nationalities, or what we call the Balance of Power,
which European statesmen have ever found it necessary to maintain at any
cost, since on this balance hang the interests of feeble and
defenceless nations. Ay, Heaven heard,--the God whom he ignored,--and
sent a retribution as signal and as prompt and as awful as his victories
had been overwhelming.

I need not describe Napoleon's fall,--as clear a destiny as his rise; a
lesson to all the future tyrants and conquerors of the world; a moral to
be pondered as long as history shall be written. Hear, ye heavens! and
give ear, O earth! to the voice of eternal justice, as it appealed to
universal consciousness, and pronounced the doom of the greatest sinner
of modern times,--to be defeated by the aroused and indignant nations,
to lose his military prestige, to incur unexampled and bitter
humiliation, to be repudiated by the country he had raised to such a
pitch of greatness, to be dethroned, to be imprisoned at Elba, to be
confined on the rock of St. Helena, to be at last forced to meditate,
and to die with vultures at his heart,--a chained Prometheus, rebellious
and defiant to the last, with a world exultant at his fall; a hopeless
and impressive fall, since it broke for fifty years the charm of
military glory, and showed that imperialism cannot be endured among
nations craving for liberties and rights which are the birthright of
our humanity.

Did Napoleon, then, live in vain? No great man lives in vain. He is
ever, whether good or bad, the instrument of Divine Providence, Gustavus
Adolphus was the instrument of God in giving religious liberty to
Germany. William the Silent was His instrument in achieving the
independence of Holland. Washington was His instrument in giving dignity
and freedom to this American nation, this home of the oppressed, this
glorious theatre for the expansion of unknown energies and the adoption
of unknown experiments. Napoleon was His instrument in freeing France
from external enemies, and for vindicating the substantial benefits of
an honest but uncontrolled Revolution. He was His instrument in arousing
Italy from the sleep of centuries, and taking the first step to secure a
united nation and a constitutional government. He was His instrument in
overthrowing despotism among the petty kings of Germany, and thus
showing the necessity of a national unity,--at length realized by the
genius of Bismarck. Even in his crimes Napoleon stands out on the
sublime pages of history as the instrument of Providence, since his
crimes were overruled in the hatred of despotism among his own subjects,
and a still greater hatred of despotism as exercised by those kings who
finally subdued him, and who vainly attempted to turn back the progress
of liberal sentiments by their representatives at the Congress
of Vienna.

The fall of Napoleon taught some awful and impressive lessons to
humanity, which would have been unlearned had he continued to be
successful to the end. It taught the utter vanity of military glory;
that peace with neighbors is the greatest of national blessings, and war
the greatest of evils; that no successes on the battlefield can
compensate for the miseries of an unjust and unnecessary war; and that
avenging justice will sooner or later overtake the wickedness of a
heartless egotism. It taught the folly of worshipping mere outward
strength, disconnected from goodness; and, finally, it taught that God
will protect defenceless nations, and even guilty nations, when they
shall have expiated their crimes and follies, and prove Himself the kind
Father of all His children, even amid chastisements, gradually leading
them, against their will, to that blessed condition when swords shall be
beaten into ploughshares, and nations shall learn war no more.

What remains to-day of those grand Napoleonic ideas which intoxicated
France for twenty years, and which, revived by Louis Napoleon, led to a
brief glory and an infamous fall, and the humiliation and impoverishment
of the most powerful state of Europe? They are synonymous with
imperialism, personal government, the absolute reign of a single man,
without constitutional checks,--a return to Caesarism, to the
unenlightened and selfish despotism of Pagan Rome. And hence they are
now repudiated by France herself,--as well as by England and
America,--as false, as selfish, as fatal to all true national progress,
as opposed to every sentiment which gives dignity to struggling States,
as irreconcilably hostile to the civilization which binds nations
together, and which slowly would establish liberty, and peace, and
industry, and equal privileges, and law, and education, and material
prosperity, upon this fallen world.


So much has been written on Napoleon, that I can only select some of the
standard and accessible works. Bourrienne's Memoirs of Napoleon I.; L.
P. Junot's Memoirs of Napoleon, Court, and Family; Las Casas' Napoleon
at St. Helena; Thiers' History of the Consulate and the Empire; Memoirs
of Prince Metternich; Segur's History of Expedition to Russia; Memoirs
of Madame de Rémusat; Vieusseau's Napoleon, his Sayings and Deeds;
Napoleon's Confidential Correspondence with Josephine and with his
Brother Joseph; Alison's History of Europe; Lockhart's and Sir Walter
Scott's Lives of Napoleon; Court and Camp of Napoleon, in Murray's
Family Library; W. Forsyth's Captivity at St. Helena; Dr. Channing's
Essay on Napoleon; Lord Brougham's Sketch of Napoleon; J. G. Wilson's
Sketch of Napoleon; Life of Napoleon, by A. H. Jomini; Headley's
Napoleon and his Marshals; Napier's Peninsular War; Wellington's
Despatches; Gilford's Life of Pitt; Botta's History of Italy under
Napoleon; Labaume's Russian Campaign; Berthier's Histoire de
l'Expédition d'Egypte.




In the later years of Napoleon's rule, when he had reached the summit of
power, and the various German States lay prostrate at his feet, there
arose in Austria a great man, on whom the eyes of Europe were speedily
fixed, and who gradually became the central figure of Continental
politics. This remarkable man was Count Metternich, who more than any
other man set in motion the secret springs which resulted in a general
confederation to shake off the degrading fetters imposed by the French
conqueror. In this matter he had a powerful ally in Baron von Stein, who
reorganized Prussia, and prepared her for successful resistance, when
the time came, against the common enemy. In another lecture I shall
attempt to show the part taken by Von Stein in the regeneration of
Germany; but it is my present purpose to confine attention to the
Austrian chancellor and diplomatist, his various labors, and the
services he rendered, not to the cause of Freedom and Progress, but to
that of Absolutism, of which he was in his day the most noted champion.

Metternich, in his character as diplomatist, is to be contemplated in
two aspects: first, as aiming to enlist the great powers in armed
combination against Napoleon; and secondly, as attempting to unite them
and all the German States to suppress revolutionary ideas and popular
insurrections, and even constitutional government itself. Before
presenting him in this double light, however, I will briefly sketch the
events of his life until he stood out as the leading figure in European
politics,--as great a figure as Bismarck later became.

Clemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Count von Metternich, was born at
Coblentz, on the Rhine, May 15, 1773. His father was a nobleman of
ancient family. I will not go into his pedigree, reaching far back in
the Middle Ages,--a matter so important in the eyes of German and even
English biographers, but to us in America of no more account than the
genealogy of the Dukes of Edom. The count his father was probably of
more ability than an ordinary nobleman in a country where nobles are so
numerous, since he was then, or soon after, Austrian ambassador to the
Netherlands. Young Metternich was first sent to the University of
Strasburg, at the age of fifteen, about the time when Napoleon was
completing his studies at a military academy. In 1790, a youth of
seventeen, he took part in the ceremonies attending the coronation of
Emperor Leopold at Frankfort, and made the acquaintance of the archduke,
who two years later succeeded to the imperial dignity as Francis II. We
next see him a student of law in the University of Mainz, spending his
vacations at Brussels, in his father's house.

Even at that time Metternich attracted attention for his elegant manners
and lively wit,--a born courtier, a favorite in high society, and so
prominent for his intelligence and accomplishments that he was sent to
London as an attaché to the Netherlands embassy, where it seems that he
became acquainted with the leading statesmen of England. There must have
been something remarkable about him to draw, at the age of twenty, the
attention of such men as Burke, Pitt, Fox, and Sheridan. What interested
him most in England were the sittings of the English Parliament and the
trial of Warren Hastings. At the early age of twenty-one he was
appointed minister to the Hague, but was prevented going to his post by
the war, and retired to Vienna, which he now saw for the first time.
Soon after, he married a daughter of Prince Kaunitz, eldest son of the
great chancellor who under three reigns had controlled the foreign
policy of the empire. He thus entered the circle of the highest
nobility of Austria,--the proudest and most exclusive on the face of the
whole earth.

At first the young count--living with his bride at the house of her
father, and occupying the highest social position, with wealth and ease
and every luxury at command, fond equally of books, of music, and of
art, but still fonder of the distinguished society of Vienna, and above
all, enamored of the charms of his beautiful and brilliant wife--wished
to spend his life in elegant leisure. But his remarkable talents and
accomplishments were already too well known for the emperor to allow him
to remain in his splendid retirement, especially when the empire was
beset with dangers of the most critical kind. His services were required
by the State, and he was sent as ambassador to Dresden, after the peace
of Luneville, 1801, when his diplomatic career in reality began.

Dresden, where were congregated at this time some of the ablest
diplomatists of Europe, was not only an important post of observation
for watching the movements of Napoleon, but it was itself a capital of
great attractions, both for its works of art and for its society. Here
Count Metternich resided for two years, learning much of politics, of
art, and letters,--the most accomplished gentleman among all the
distinguished people that he met; not as yet a man of power, but a man
of influence, sending home to Count Stadion, minister of foreign
affairs, reports and letters of great ability, displaying a sagacity and
tact marvellous for a man of twenty-eight.

Napoleon was then engaged in making great preparations for a war with
Austria, and it was important for Austria to secure the alliance of
Prussia, her great rival, with whom she had never been on truly friendly
terms, since both aimed at ascendency in Germany. Frederick William III.
was then on the throne of Prussia, having two great men among his
ministers,--Von Stein and Hardenberg; the former at the head of
financial affairs, and the latter at the head of the foreign bureau. To
the more important post of Berlin, Metternich was therefore sent. He
found great difficulty in managing the Prussian king, whose jealousy of
Austria balanced his hatred of Napoleon, and who therefore stood aloof
and inactive, indisposed for war, in strict alliance with Russia, who
also wanted peace.

The Czar Alexander I., who had just succeeded his murdered father Paul,
was a great admirer of Napoleon. His empire was too remote to fear
French encroachments or French ideas. Indeed, he started with many
liberal sentiments. By nature he was kind and affectionate; he was
simple in his tastes, truthful in his character, philanthropic in his
views, enthusiastic in his friendships, and refined in his
intercourse,--a broad and generous sovereign. And yet there was
something wanting in Alexander which prevented him from being great. He
was vacillating in his policy, and his judgment was easily warped by
fanciful ideas. "His life was worn out between devotion to certain
systems and disappointment as to their results. He was fitful,
uncertain, and unpractical. Hence he made continual mistakes. He meant
well, but did evil, and the discovery of his errors broke his heart. He
died of weariness of life, deceived in all his calculations," in 1825.

Metternich spent four years in Berlin, ferreting out the schemes of
Napoleon, and striving to make alliances against him; but he found his
only sincere and efficient ally to be England, then governed by Pitt.
The king of Prussia was timid, and leaned on Russia; he feared to offend
his powerful neighbor on the north and east. Nor was Prussia then
prepared for war. As for the South German States, they all had their
various interests to defend, and had not yet grasped the idea of German
unity. There was not a great statesman or a great general among them
all. They had their petty dynastic prejudices and jealousies, and were
absorbed in the routine of court etiquette and pleasures, stagnant and
unenlightened. The only brilliant court life was at Weimar, where Goethe
reigned in the circle of his idolaters. The great men of Germany at
that time were in the universities, interested in politics, like the
Humboldts at Berlin, but not taking a prominent part. Generals and
diplomatists absorbed the active political field. As for orators, there
were none; for there were no popular assemblies,--no scope for their
abilities. The able men were in the service of their sovereigns as
diplomatists in the various courts of Europe, and generally were nobles.
Diplomacy, in fact, was the only field in which great talents were
developed and rewarded outside the realm of literature.

In this field Metternich soon became pre-eminently distinguished. He was
at once the prompting genius and the agent of an absolute sovereign who
ruled over the most powerful State, next to France, on the continent of
Europe, and the most august. The emperor of Austria was supposed to be
the heir of the Caesars and of Charlemagne. His territories were more
extensive than that of France, and his subjects more numerous than those
of all the other German States combined, except Prussia. But the emperor
himself was a feeble man, sickly in body, weak in mind, and governed by
his ministers, the chief of whom was Count Stadion, minister of foreign
affairs. In Austria the aristocracy was more powerful and wealthy than
the nobility of any other European State. It was also the most
exclusive. No one could rise by any talents into their favored circle.
They were great feudal landlords; and their ranks were not recruited, as
in England, by men of genius and wealth. Hence, they were narrow,
bigoted, and arrogant; but they had polished and gracious manners, and
shone in the stiff though elegant society of Vienna,--not brilliant as
in Paris or London, but exceedingly attractive, and devoted to pleasure,
to grand hunting-parties on princely estates, to operas and balls and
theatres. Probably Vienna society was dull, if it was elegant, from the
etiquette and ceremonies which marked German courts; for what was called
society was not that of distinguished men in letters and art, but almost
exclusively that of nobles. A learned professor or wealthy merchant
could no more get access to it than he could climb to the moon. But as
Vienna was a Catholic city, great ecclesiastical dignitaries, not always
of noble birth, were on an equality with counts and barons. It was only
in the Church that a man of plebeian origin could rise. Indeed, there
was no field for genius at all. The musician Haydn was almost the only
genius that Austria at that time possessed outside of diplomatic or
military ranks.

Napoleon had now been crowned emperor, and his course had been from
conquering to conquer. The great battles of Austerlitz and Jena had been
fought, which placed Austria and Prussia at the mercy of the conqueror.
It was necessary that some one should be sent to Paris capable of
fathoming the schemes of the French emperor, and in 1806 Count
Metternich was transferred from Berlin to the French capital. No abler
diplomatist could be found in Europe. He was now thirty-three years of
age, a nobleman of the highest rank, his father being a prince of the
empire. He had a large private fortune, besides his salary as
ambassador. His manners were perfect, and his accomplishments were
great. He could speak French as well as his native tongue. His head was
clear; his knowledge was accurate and varied. Calm, cold, astute,
adroit, with infinite tact, he was now brought face to face with
Talleyrand, Napoleon's minister of foreign affairs, his equal in
astuteness and dissimulation, as well as in the charms of conversation
and the graces of polished life. With this statesman Metternich had the
pleasantest relations, both social and diplomatic. Yet there was a
marked difference between them. Talleyrand had accepted the ideas of the
Revolution, but had no sympathy with its passions and excesses. He was
the friend of law and order, and in his heart favored constitutional
government. On this ground he supported Napoleon as the defender of
civilization, but afterward deserted him when he perceived that the
Emperor was resolved to rule without constitutional checks. His nature
was selfish, and he made no scruple of enriching himself, whatever
master he served; but he was not indifferent to the welfare and glory of
France. Metternich, on the other hand, abhorred the ideas of the
Revolution as much as he did its passions. He saw in absolutism the only
hope of stability, the only reign of law. He distrusted constitutional
government as liable to changes, and as unduly affected by popular ideas
and passions. He served faithfully and devotedly his emperor as a sacred
personage, ruling by divine right, to whom were intrusted the interests
of the nation. He was comparatively unselfish, and was prepared for any
personal sacrifices for his country and his sovereign.

Metternich was treated with distinguished consideration at Paris, not
only because he was the representative of the oldest and proudest
sovereignty in Europe,--still powerful in the midst of disasters,--but
also on account of his acknowledged abilities, independent attitude, and
stainless private character. All the other ambassadors at Paris were
directed to act in accordance with his advice. In 1807 he concluded the
treaty of Fontainebleau, which was most favorable to Austrian interests.
He was the only man at court whom Napoleon could not browbeat or
intimidate in his affected bursts of anger. Personally, Napoleon liked
him as an accomplished and agreeable gentleman; as a diplomatist and
statesman the Emperor was afraid of him, knowing that the Austrian was
at the bottom of all the intrigues and cabals against him. Yet he dared
not give Metternich his passports, nor did he wish to quarrel with so
powerful a man, who might defeat his schemes to marry the daughter of
the Austrian emperor,--the light-headed and frivolous Marie Louise. So
Metternich remained in honor at Paris for three years, studying the
character and aims of Napoleon, watching his military preparations, and
preparing his own imperial master for contingencies which would probably
arise; for Napoleon was then meditating the conquest of Spain, as well
as the invasion of Russia, and Metternich as well as Talleyrand knew
that this would be a great political blunder, diverting his armies from
the preservation of the conquests he had already made, and giving to the
German States the hope of shaking off their fetters at the first
misfortune which should overtake him. No man in Europe so completely
fathomed the designs of Napoleon as Metternich, or so profoundly
measured and accurately estimated his character. And I here cannot
forbear to quote his own language, both to show his sagacity and to
reproduce the portrait he drew of Napoleon.

"He became," says Metternich, "a great legislator and administrator, as
he became a great soldier, by following out his instincts. The turn of
his mind always led him toward the positive. He disliked vague ideas,
and hated equally the dreams of visionaries and the abstractions of
idealists. He treated as nonsense everything that was not clearly and
practically presented to him. He valued only those sciences which can be
verified by the senses, or which rest on experience and observation. He
had the greatest contempt for the false philosophy and false
philanthropy of the eighteenth century. Among its teachers, Voltaire was
the special object of his aversion. As a Catholic, he recognized in
religion alone the right to govern human societies. Personally
indifferent to religious practices, he respected them too much to permit
the slightest ridicule of those who followed them; and yet religion with
him was the result of an enlightened policy rather than an affair of
sentiment. He was persuaded that no man called to public life could be
guided by any other motive than that of interest.

"He was gifted with a particular tact in recognizing those men who could
be useful to him. He had a profound knowledge of the national character
of the French. In history he guessed more than he knew. As he always
made use of the same quotations, he must have drawn from a few books,
especially abridgments. His heroes were Alexander, Caesar, and
Charlemagne. He laid great stress on aristocratic birth and the
antiquity of his own family. He had no other regard for men than a
foreman in a manufactory feels for his work-people. In private, without
being amiable, he was good-natured. His sisters got from him all they
wanted. Simple and easy in private life, he showed himself to little
advantage in the great world. Nothing could be more awkward than he in a
drawing-room. He would have made great sacrifices to have added three
inches to his height. He walked on tiptoe. His costumes were studied to
form a contrast with the circle which surrounded him, by extreme
simplicity or extreme elegance. Talma taught him attitudes.

"Having but one passion,--that of power,--he never lost either his time
or his means in those objects which deviated from his aims. Master of
himself, he soon became master of events. In whatever period he had
appeared, he would have played a prominent part. His prodigious
successes blinded him; but up to 1812 he never lost sight of the
profound calculations by which he so often conquered. He never recoiled
from fear of the wounds he might cause. As a war-chariot crushes
everything it meets on its way, he thought of nothing but to advance. He
could sympathize with family troubles; he was indifferent to political

"Disinterested generosity he had none; he only dispensed his favors in
proportion to the value he put on the utility of those who received
them. He was never influenced by affection or hatred in his public acts.
He crushed his enemies without thinking of anything but the necessity of
getting rid of them.

"In his political combinations he did not fail to reckon largely on the
weakness or errors of his adversaries. The alliance of 1813 crushed him
because he was not able to persuade himself that the members of the
coalition could remain united, and persevere in a given course of
action. The vast edifice he constructed was exclusively the work of his
own hands, and he was the keystone of the arch; but the gigantic
construction was essentially wanting in its foundations, the materials
of which were nothing but the ruins of other buildings."

Such is the verdict of one of the acutest and most dispassionate men
that ever lived. Napoleon is not painted as a monster, but as a
supremely selfish man bent entirely on his own exaltation, making the
welfare of France subservient to his own glory, and the interests of
humanity itself secondary to his pride and fame. History can add but
little to this graphic sketch, although indignant and passionate enemies
may dilate on the Corsican's hard-heartedness, his duplicity, his
treachery, his falsehood, his arrogance, and his diabolic egotism. On
the other hand, weak and sentimental idolaters will dwell on his
generosity, his courage, his superhuman intellect, and the love and
devotion with which he inspired his soldiers,--all which in a sense is
true. The philosophical historian will enumerate the services Napoleon
rendered to his country, whatever were his virtues or faults; but of
these services the last person to perceive the value was Metternich
himself, even as he would be the last to acknowledge the greatness of
those revolutionary ideas of which Napoleon was simply the product. It
was the French Revolution which produced Napoleon, and it was the French
Revolution which Metternich abhorred, in all its aspects, beyond any
other event in the whole history of the world. But he was not a
rhetorician, as Burke was, and hence confined himself to acts, and not
to words. He was one of those cool men who could use decent and
temperate language about the Devil himself and the Pandemonium in which
he reigns.

On the breaking up of diplomatic relations between Austria and France in
1809, Metternich was recalled to Vienna to take the helm of state in the
impending crisis. Count von Stadion, though an able man, was not great
enough for the occasion. Only such a consummate statesman as Metternich
was capable of taking the reins intrusted to him with unbounded
confidence by his feeble master, whose general policy and views were
similar to those of his trusted minister, but who had not the energy to
carry them out. Metternich was now made a prince, with large gifts of
land and money, and occupied a superb position,--similar to that which
Bismarck occupied later on in Prussia, as chancellor of the empire. It
was Metternich's policy to avert actual hostilities until Austria could
recover from the crushing defeat at Austerlitz, and until Napoleon
should make some great mistake. He succeeded in arranging another treaty
with France within the year.

The object which Napoleon had in view at this time was his marriage with
Marie Louise, from which he expected an heir to his vast dominions, and
a more completely recognized position among the great monarchs of
Europe. He accordingly divorced Josephine,--some historians say with her
consent. Ten years earlier his offers would, of course, have been
indignantly rejected, or three years later, after the disasters of the
Russian campaign. But Napoleon was now at the summit of his power,--the
arbiter of Europe, the greatest sovereign since Julius Caesar, with a
halo of unprecedented glory, a prodigy of genius as well as a recognized
monarch. Nothing was apparently beyond his aspirations, and he wanted
the daughter of the successor of Charlemagne in marriage. And her
father, the proud Austrian emperor, was willing to give her up to his
conqueror from reasons of state, and from policy and expediency. To all
appearance it was no sacrifice to Marie Louise to be transferred from
the dull court of Vienna to the splendid apartments of the Tuileries, to
be worshipped by the brilliant marshals and generals who had conquered
Europe, and to be crowned as empress of the French by the Pope himself.
Had she been a nobler woman, she might have hesitated and refused; but
she was vain and frivolous, and was overwhelmed by the glory with which
she was soon to be surrounded.

And yet the marriage was a delicate affair, and difficult to be managed.
It required all the tact of an arch-diplomatist. So Prince Metternich
was sent to Paris to bring it about. In fact, it was he more than any
one else who for political reasons favored this marriage. Napoleon was
exceedingly gracious, while Metternich had his eyes and ears open. He
even dared to tell the Emperor many unpleasant truths. The affair,
however, was concluded; and after Napoleon's divorce from Josephine, in
1810, the Austrian princess became empress of the French.

One thing was impressed on the mind of Metternich during the festivities
of this second visit to Paris; and that was that during the year 1811
the peace of Europe would not be disturbed. Napoleon was absorbed with
the preparations for the invasion of Russia,--the only power he had not
subdued, except England, and a power in secret coalition with both
Prussia and Austria. His acquisitions would not be secure unless the
Colossus of the North was hopelessly crippled. Metternich saw that the
campaign could not begin till 1812, and that the Emperor had need of all
the assistance he could get from conquered allies. He saw also the
mistakes of Napoleon, and meant to profit by them. He anticipated for
that daring soldier nothing but disaster in attempting to battle the
powers of Nature at such a distance from his capital. He perceived that
Napoleon was alienating, in his vast schemes of aggrandizement, even his
own ministers, like Talleyrand and Fouché, who would leave him the
moment they dared, although his marshals and generals might remain true
to him because of the enormous rewards which he had lavished upon them
for their military services. He knew the discontent of Italy and Poland
because of unfulfilled promises. He knew the intense hatred of Prussia
because of the humiliations and injuries Napoleon had inflicted on her.
Metternich was equally aware of the hostility of England, although Pitt
had passed away; and he despised the arrogance of a man who looked upon
himself as greater than destiny. "It is an evidence of the weakness of
the human understanding," said the infatuated conqueror, "for any one to
dream of resisting me."

So Metternich, after the marriage ceremony and its attendant
festivities, foreseeing the fall of the conqueror, retired to his post
at Vienna to complete his negotiations, and make his preparations for
the renewal of the conflict, which he now saw was inevitable. His work
was to persuade Prussia, Russia, and the lesser Powers, of the absolute
necessity of a sincere and cordial alliance to make preparations for the
conflict to put down, or at least successfully to resist, the common
enemy,--the ruthless and unscrupulous disturber of the peace of Europe;
not to make war, but to prepare for war in view of contingencies; and
this not merely to preserve the peace of Europe, but to save themselves
from ruin. All his confidential letters to his sovereign indicate his
conviction that the throne of Austria was in extreme danger of being
subverted. All his despatches to ambassadors show that affairs were
extremely critical. His policy, in general terms, was pacific; he longed
for peace on a settled basis. But his policy in the great crisis of 1811
and 1812 was warlike,--not for immediate hostilities, but for war as
soon as it would be safe to declare it. It was his profound conviction
that a lasting peace was utterly impossible so long as Napoleon reigned;
and this was the conviction also of Pitt and Castlereagh of England and
of the Prussian Hardenberg.

The main trouble was with Prussia. Frederick William III. was timid, and
considering the intense humiliation of his subjects and the overpowering
ascendency of Napoleon, saw no hope but in submission. He was afraid to
make a move, even when urged by his ministers. Indeed, he had in 1808
exiled the greatest of them, Stein, at the imperious demand of the
French emperor,--sending him to a Rhenish city, whence he was soon after
compelled to lead a fugitive life as an outlaw. It is true the king did
not like Stein, and saw him go without regret. He could not endure the
overshadowing influence of that great man, and was offended by his
brusque manners and his plain speech. But Stein saw things as
Metternich saw them, and had when prime minister devoted himself to
administrative and political reforms. Prince Hardenberg, the successor
of Stein, was easily convinced of Metternich's wisdom; for he was a
patriot and an honest man, though loose in his private morals in some
respects. Metternich had an ally, too, in Schornhurst, who was
remodelling the whole military system of Prussia.

The king, however, persisted in his timid policy until the Russian
campaign,--a course which, singularly enough, proved the wisest in his
circumstances. When at last the king yielded, all Prussia arose with
unbounded enthusiasm to engage in the war of liberation; Prussia needed
no urging when actually invaded; Austria openly threw off her
conservative appearance of armed neutrality: and the coalition for which
Metternich had long been laboring, and of which he was the life and
brain, became a reality. The battle of Leipsic settled the fate
of Napoleon.

Even before that fatal battle was fought, however, Napoleon, had he been
wise, might have saved himself. If he had been content in 1812 to spend
the winter in Smolensk, instead of hurrying on to Moscow, the enterprise
might not have been disastrous; but after his retreat from Russia, with
the loss of the finest army that Europe ever saw, he was doomed. Yet he
could not brook further humiliation. He resolved still to struggle. "It
may cost me my throne," said he, "but I will bury the world beneath its
ruins." He marched into Germany, in the spring of 1813, with a fresh
army of three hundred and fifty thousand men, replacing the half million
he had squandered in Russia. Metternich shrank from further bloodshed,
but clearly saw the issue. "You may still have peace," said he in an
audience with Napoleon. "Peace or war lie in your own hands; but you
must reduce your power, or you will fail in the contest." "Never!"
replied Napoleon; "I shall know how to die, but I will not yield a
handbreadth of soil." "You are lost, then," said the Austrian
chancellor, and withdrew. "It is all over with the man," said Metternich
to Berthier, Napoleon's chief of staff; and he turned to marshal the
forces of his empire. A short time was given Napoleon to reconsider, but
without effect. At twelve o'clock, Aug. 10, 1813, negotiations ceased;
the beacon fires were lighted, and hostilities recommenced. During the
preparations for the Russian campaign, Austria had been neutral and the
rest of Germany submissive; but now Russia, Prussia, and Austria were
allied, by solemn compact, to fight to the bitter end,--not to ruin
France, but to dethrone Napoleon.

The allied monarchs then met at Toplitz, with their ministers, to
arrange the plan of the campaign,--the Austrian armies being commanded
by Prince Schwartzenberg, and the Prussians by Blücher. Then followed
the battle of Leipsic, on the 16th to the 18th of October, 1813,--"the
battle of the nations," it has been called,--and Napoleon's power was
broken. Again the monarchs, with their ministers, met at Basle to
consult, and were there joined by Lord Castlereagh, who represented
England, the allied forces still pursuing the remnants of the French
army into France. From Basle the conference was removed to the heights
of the Vosges, which overlooked the plains of France. On the 1st of
April, 1814, the allied sovereigns took up their residence in the
Parisian palaces; and on April 4 Napoleon abdicated, and was sent to
Elba. He still had twelve thousand or fifteen thousand troops at
Fontainebleau; but his marshals would have shot him had he made further
resistance. On the 4th of May Louis XVIII. was seated on the throne of
his ancestors, and Europe was supposed to be delivered.

Considering the evils and miseries which Napoleon had inflicted on the
conquered nations, the allies were magnanimous in their terms. No war
indemnity was even asked, and Napoleon in Elba was allowed an income of
six million francs, to be paid by France.

After the leaders of the allies had settled affairs at Paris, they
reassembled at Vienna,--ostensibly to reconstruct the political system
of Europe and secure a lasting peace; in reality, to divide among the
conquerors the spoils taken from the vanquished. The Congress of
Vienna,--in session from November, 1814, to June, 1815,--of which Prince
Metternich was chosen president by common consent, was one of the
grandest gatherings of princes and statesmen seen since the Diet of
Worms. There were present at its deliberations the Czar of Russia, the
Emperor of Austria, the kings of Prussia, Denmark, Bavaria, and
Würtemberg, and nearly every statesman of commanding eminence in Europe.
Lord Castlereagh represented England; Talleyrand represented the
Bourbons of France; and Hardenberg, Prussia. Von Stein was also present,
but without official place. Besides these was a crowd of petty princes,
each with attachés. Metternich entertained the visitors in the most
lavish and magnificent manner. The government, though embarrassed and
straitened by the expense of the late wars, allowed £10,000 a day, equal
perhaps in that country and at that time to £50,000 to-day in London.
Nothing was seen but the most brilliant festivities, incessant balls,
fêtes, and banquets. The greatest actors, the greatest singers, and the
greatest dancers were allured to the giddy capital, never so gay before
or since. Beethoven was also there, at the height of his fame, and the
great assembly rooms were placed at his disposal.

The sittings of the Congress, in view of the complicated questions
which had to be settled, did not regularly begin till November. The
meetings at first were harmonious; but ere long they became acrimonious,
as the views of the representatives of the four great powers--Russia,
Austria, England, and Prussia--were brought to light. They all, except
England, claimed enormous territories as a compensation for the
sacrifices they had made. Talleyrand at first was excluded from the
conferences; but his wonderful skill as a diplomatist soon made his
power felt. He was the soul of intrigue and insincerity. All the
diplomatists were at first wary and prudent, then greedy and
unscrupulous. Violent disputes arose. The Emperor Alexander openly
quarrelled with Metternich, and refused to be present at his parties,
although they had been on the most friendly terms.

In the division of the spoils, the Czar claimed the Grand Duchy of
Warsaw, to be nominally under the rule of a sovereign, but really to be
incorporated with his vast empire. Metternich resisted this claim with
all the ability he had, as bringing Russia too dangerously near the
frontiers of Austria; but Alexander had laid Prussia under such immense
obligations that Frederick William supported his claims,--with the
mutual understanding, however, that Prussia should annex the kingdom of
Saxony, since Saxony had supported Napoleon. The plenipotentiaries were
in such awe of the vast armies of the Czar, that they were obliged to
yield to this wicked annexation; and Poland--once the most powerful of
the mediaeval kingdoms of Europe--was wiped out of the map of
independent nations. This acquisition by far outbalanced all the
expenses which Alexander had incurred during the war of liberation. It
made Russia the most powerful military empire in the world.

Although Prussia and Austria had been, since the times of Frederic the
Great, in perpetual rivalry, the greatness of the common danger from
such a warlike neighbor now induced Metternich to make every overture to
Prussia to prevent a possible calamity to Germany; but Frederick William
was obstinate, and his league with Alexander could not be broken. It
appears, from the memoirs of Metternich, that it had been for a long
time his desire to unite Prussia and Austria in a firm alliance, in
order to protect Germany in case of future wars. That was undoubtedly
his true policy. It was the policy fifty years later of Bismarck,
although he was obliged to fight and humble Austria before he could
consummate it. With Russia on one side and France on the other, the only
hope of Germany is in union. But this aim of the great Austrian
statesman was defeated by the stupidity and greed of the Prussian king,
and by his interested friendship with "the autocrat of all the
Russias." Alexander got Poland, with an addition of about four million
subjects to his empire.

A greater resistance was made to the outrageous claims of Prussia. She
wanted to annex the whole of Saxony and important provinces on the
Rhine, which would have made her more powerful than Austria. Neither
Metternich nor Talleyrand nor Castlereagh would hear of this crime; and
so angry and threatening were the disputes in the Congress that a treaty
was signed by England, France, and Austria for an offensive and
defensive alliance against Prussia and Russia, in case the claims of
Prussia were persisted in. After the combination of Russia, Prussia,
Austria, and England against Napoleon, there was imminent danger of war
breaking out between these great Powers in the matter of a division of
spoils. In rapacity and greed they showed themselves as bad as
Napoleon himself.

Prussia, however, was the most greedy and insatiable of all the
contracting parties. She always has been so since she was erected into a
kingdom. The cruel terms exacted by Bismarck and Moltke in their late
contest with France indicate the real animus of Prussia. The conquerors
would have exacted ten milliards instead of five, as a war indemnity, if
they had thought that France could pay it. They did not dare to carry
away the pictures of the Louvre, nor perhaps did those iron warriors
care much for them; but they did want money and territory, and were
determined to get all they could. Prussia was a poor country, and must
be enriched any way by the unexpected spoils which the fortune of war
threw into her hands.

This same rapacity was seen at the Congress of Vienna; but the
opposition to it was too great to risk another war, and Prussia, at the
entreaty of Alexander, abated some of her demands, as did also Russia
her own. The result was that only half of Saxony was ceded to Prussia,
raising the subjects of Prussia to ten millions. The tact and firmness
of Talleyrand and Castlereagh had prevented the utter absorption of
Saxony in the new military monarchy. Talleyrand, whose designs could
never be fathomed by the most astute of diplomatists, had succeeded also
in isolating Russia and Prussia from the rest of Europe, and raising
France into a great power, although her territories were now confined to
the limits which had existed in 1792. He had succeeded in detaching
Austria and the southern States of Germany from Prussia. He had split
Germany into two rival powers, just what Louis Napoleon afterwards
aspired to do, hoping to derive from their mutual jealousies some great
advantage to France in case of war. Neither of them, however, realized
the intense common love of both Austria and Prussia, and indeed of all
the German States at heart, for "Fatherland," needing only the genius
of a very great man finally to unite them together in one great nation,
impossible to be hereafter vanquished by any single power.

Austria retained for her share Lombardy, Venice, Parma, Placentia,--the
finest part of Italy, that which was known in the time of Julius Caesar
as Cisalpine Gaul. She did not care for the Low Countries, which formed
a part of the old empire of Charles V., since to keep that territory
would cost more than it would pay. She also received from Bavaria the
Tyrol. As further results of the Congress of Vienna, the Netherlands and
Holland were united in one kingdom, under a prince of the house of
Nassau; Naples returned to the rule of the Bourbons; Genoa became a part
of Piedmont. The petty independent States of Germany (some three
hundred) were united into a confederation of thirty-seven, called the
German Confederacy, to afford mutual support in time of war, and to be
directed by a Diet, in which Austria and Prussia were to have two votes
each, while Bavaria, Würtemberg, and Hanover were to have one vote each.
Thus, Prussia and Austria had four votes out of seven; which practically
gave to these two powers, if they chose to unite, the control of all
external relations. As to internal affairs, the legislative power was
vested in representatives from all the States, both small and great. It
will be seen that the higher interests of Germany were not considered
in this Congress at all, attention being directed solely to a division
of spoils.

But while the Congress was dividing between the princes who composed it
its acquisition of territory by conquest, and quarrelling about their
respective shares like the members of a family that had come into a
large fortune, news arrived of the escape of Napoleon from Elba, after a
brief ten months' detention, the adherence to him of the French army,
and the consequent dethronement of Louis XVIII. The Congress at once
dispersed, forgetting all its differences, while the great monarchs
united once more in pouring such an avalanche of troops into France and
Belgium that Napoleon stood no chance of retaining his throne, whatever
military genius he might display. After his defeat at Waterloo the
allies occupied Paris, and this time exacted a large war indemnity of
£40,000,000, and left an army of occupation of one hundred and fifty
thousand men in France until the money should be paid. They also
returned to their owners the pictures of the Louvre which Napoleon had
taken in his various conquests.

It was while the allies were in Paris settling the terms of the second
peace, that what is called the "Holy Alliance" was formed between
Alexander, Frederick William, and Francis (to whom were afterward added
the kings of France, Naples, and Spain), which had for its object the
suppression of liberal ideas throughout the Continent, in the name of
religion. Some of these monarchs were religious men in their
way,--especially the Czar, who had been much interested in the spread of
Christianity, and the king of Prussia; but even these men thought more
of putting down revolutionary ideas than they did of the triumphs
of religion.

We must, however, turn our attention to Metternich as the administrator
of a large empire, rather than as a diplomatist, although for thirty
years after this his hand was felt, if not seen, in all the political
affairs of Europe. He was now forty-four years of age, in the prime of
his strength and the fulness of his fame,--a prince of the empire,
chancellor and prime minister to the Emperor Francis. On his shoulders
were imposed the burdens of the State. He ruled with delegated powers
indeed, but absolutely. The master whom he served was weak, but was
completely in accord with Metternich on all political questions. He of
course submitted all important documents to the emperor, and requested
instructions; but all this was a matter of form. He was allowed to do as
he pleased. He was always exceedingly deferential, and never made
himself disagreeable to his sovereign, who could not do without him.
From first to last they were on the most friendly terms with each
other, and there was no jealousy of his power on the part of the
emperor. The chancellor was a gentleman, and had extraordinary tact. But
his labors were prodigious, and gave him no time for pleasure, or even
social intercourse, which finally became irksome to him. He was too busy
with public affairs to be a great scholar, and was not called upon to
make speeches, as there was no deliberative assembly to address. Nor was
he a national idol. He lived retired in his office, among ministers and
secretaries, and appeared in public as little as possible.

After the final dethronement of Napoleon, the policy of Metternich with
reference to foreign powers was pacific. He had seen enough of war, and
it had no charm for him. War had brought Germany to the verge of
political ruin. All his efforts as chancellor were directed to the
preservation of peace and the balance of power among all nations. At the
close of the great European struggle the finances of all the German
States were alike disordered, and their industries paralyzed. Compared
with France and England Germany was poor, and wages for all kinds of
labor were small. It became Metternich's aim to develop the material
resources of the empire, which could be best done in time of peace.
Austria, accordingly, took part in no international contest for fifty
years, except to preserve her own territories. Metternich did not seem
to be ambitious of further territorial aggrandizement for his country;
it required all his talents to preserve what she had. Indeed, the
preservation of the _status quo_ everywhere was his desire, without
change, and without progress. He was a conservative, like the English
Lord Eldon, who supported established institutions because they _were_
established; and any movement or any ideas which interrupted the order
of things were hateful to him, especially agitations for greater
political liberty. A constitutional government was his abhorrence.

Hence, the policy of Metternich's home rule was fatal to all expansion,
to all emancipating movements, to all progress, to everything which
looked like popular liberty. Men might smoke, drink beer, attend
concerts and theatres, amuse themselves in any way they pleased, but
they should not congregate together to discuss political questions; they
should not form clubs or societies with political intent of any kind;
they should not even read agitating tracts and books. He could not help
their thinking, but they should not criticise his government. They
should be taught in schools directed by Roman Catholic priests, who were
good classical scholars, good mathematicians, but who knew but little
and cared less about theories of political economy, or even history
unless modified to suit religious bigots of the Mediaeval type. He
maintained that men should be contented with the sphere in which they
were born; that discontent was no better than rebellion against
Providence; that any change would be for the worse. He had no liking for
universities, in which were fomented liberal ideas; and those professors
who sought to disturb the order of things, or teach new ideas,--anything
to make young scholars think upon anything but ordinary duties,--were
silenced or discharged or banished. The word "rights" was an abomination
to him; men, he thought, had no rights,--only duties. He disliked the
Press more than he did the universities. It was his impression that it
was antagonistic to all existing governments; hence he fettered the
Press with restrictions, and confined it to details of little
importance. He would allow no comments which unsettled the minds of
readers. In no country was the censorship of the Press more inexorable
than in Austria and its dependent States. All that spies and a secret
police and priests could do to ferret out associations which had in view
a greater liberty, was done; all that soldiers could do to suppress
popular insurrection was effected,--and all in the name of religion,
since he looked upon free inquiry as logically leading to scepticism,
and scepticism to infidelity, and infidelity to revolution.

In the Catholic sense Metternich was a religious man, since he
recognized in the Roman Catholic Church the conservation of all that is
valuable in society, in government, and even in civilization. He brought
Catholics to his aid in cementing political despotism, for "Absolutism
and Catholicism," as Sir James Stephen so well said, "are but
convertible terms." Accordingly, he brought back the Jesuits, and
restored them to their ancient power and wealth. He formed the strictest
union with the Pope. He rewarded ecclesiastics, and honored the great
dignitaries of the established church as his most efficient and trusted
lieutenants in the war he waged on human liberty.

But I must allude to some of the things which gave this great man
trouble. Of course nothing worried him so much as popular insurrections,
since they endangered the throne, and opposed the cherished ends of his
life. As early as 1817, what he called "sects" disturbed central Europe.
These were a class of people who resembled the Methodists of England,
and the followers of Madam von Krüdener in Russia,--generally mystics in
religion, who practised the greatest self-denial in this world to make
sure of the promises of the next. The Kingdom of Würtemberg, the Grand
Duchy of Baden, and Suabia were filled with these people,--perfectly
harmless politically, yet with views which Metternich considered an
innovation, to be stifled in the beginning. So of Bible societies; he
was opposed to these as furnishing a class of subjects for discussion
which brought up to his mind the old dissertations on "the rights of
man." "The Catholic Church," he writes to Count Nesselrode, the Russian
minister, "does not encourage the universal reading of the Bible, which
should be confined to persons who are calm and enlightened." But he goes
on to say that he himself at forty-five reads daily one or two chapters,
and finds new beauties in them, while at the age of twenty he was a
sceptic, and found it difficult not to think that the family of Lot was
unworthy to be saved, Noah unworthy to have lived, Saul a great
criminal, and David a terrible man; that he had tried to understand
everything, but that now he accepts everything without cavil or
criticism. Truly, a Catholic might say, "See the glorious peace and
repose which our faith brings to the most intellectual of men!"

In 1819 an event occurred, of no great importance in itself, but which
was made the excuse for increased stringency in the suppression of
liberal sentiments throughout Germany. This was the assassination of Von
Kotzebue, the dramatic author, at Manheim, at the hands of a fanatic by
the name of Sand. Kotzebue had some employment under the Russian
government, and was supposed to be a propagandist of the views of the
Czar, who had lately become exceedingly hostile to all emancipating
movements. In the early part of his reign Alexander was called a
Jacobin by Metternich, who despised his philanthropical and sentimental
theories, and his energetic labors in behalf of literature, educational
institutions, freer political conditions, etc.; but when Napoleon was
sent to St. Helena, the Russian ruler, wearied with great events and
dreading revolutionary tendencies, changed his opinions, and was now
leagued with the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Austria in
supporting the most stringent measures against all reformers. Sand was a
theological student in the University of Jena, who thought he was doing
God's service by removing from the earth with his assassin's dagger a
vile wretch employed by the Russian tyrant to propagate views which
mocked the loftiest aspirations of mankind. The murder of Kotzebue
created an immense sensation throughout Europe, and was followed by
increased rigor on the part of all despotic governments in muzzling the
press, in the suppression of public meetings of every sort, and
especially in expelling from the universities both students and
professors who were known or even supposed to entertain liberal ideas.
Metternich went so far as to write a letter to the King of Prussia
urging him to disband the gymnasia, as hotbeds of mischief. His
influence on this monarch was still further seen in dissuading him to
withhold the constitution promised his subjects during the war of
liberation. He regarded the meeting of a general representation of the
nation as scarcely less evil than democratic violence, and his hatred of
constitutional checks on a king was as great as of intellectual
independence in a professor at a gymnasium. Universities and constituent
assemblies, to him, were equally fatal to undisturbed peace and
stability in government.

In the midst of these efforts to suppress throughout Germany all
agitating political ideas and movements, the news arrived of the
revolution in Naples, July, 1820, effected by the Carbonari, by which
the king was compelled to restore the constitution of 1813, or abdicate.
Metternich lost no time in assembling the monarchs of Austria, Prussia,
and Russia, with their principal ministers, to a conference or congress
at Troppau, with a view of putting down the insurrection by armed
intervention. The result is well known. The armies of Austria and
Russia--170,000 men--restored the Neapolitan tyrant to his throne; while
he, on his part, revoked the constitution he had sworn to defend, and
affairs at Naples became worse than they were before. In no country in
the world was there a more execrable despotism than that exercised by
the Bourbon Ferdinand. The prisons were filled with political prisoners;
and these prisons were filthy, without ventilation, so noisome and
pestilential that even physicians dared not enter them; while the
wretched prisoners, mostly men of culture, chained to the most
abandoned and desperate murderers and thieves, dragged out their weary
lives without trial and without hope. And this was what the king,
supported and endorsed by Metternich, considered good government to be.

The following year saw an insurrection in Piedmont, when the patriotic
party hoped to throw all Northern Italy upon the rear of the Austrians,
but which resulted, as will be treated elsewhere, in a sad collapse. The
victory of absolutism in Italy was complete, and all people seeking
their liberties became the object of attack from the three great Powers,
who obeyed the suggestions of the Austrian chancellor,--now
unquestionably the most prominent figure in European politics. He had
not only suppressed liberty in the country which he directly governed,
but he had united Austria, Prussia, and Russia in a war against the
liberties of Europe, and this under the guise of religion itself.

Metternich now thought he had earned a vacation, and in the fall of 1821
he made a visit to Hanover. He had previously visited Italy with the
usual experience of cultivated Germans,--unbounded admiration for its
works of art and sunny skies and historical monuments. He was as
enthusiastic as Madame de Staël over St. Peter's and the Pantheon. In
his private letters to his wife and children, so simple, so frank, so
childlike in his enjoyment, no one would suppose he was the arch and
cruel enemy of all progress, with monarchs for his lieutenants, and
governors for his slaves. His journey to Hanover was a triumphant
procession. The King George IV. embraced him with that tenderness which
is usual with monarchs when they meet one another, and in the
fulsomeness of his praises compared him to all the great men of
antiquity and of modern times,--Caesar, Cato, Gustavus Adolphus,
Marlborough, Pitt, Wellington, and the whole catalogue of heroes. On his
return journey to Vienna, Metternich stopped to rest himself a while at
Johannisberg, the magnificent estate on the Rhine which the emperor had
given him, near where he was born, and where he had stored away forty
huge casks of his own vintage, worth six hundred ducats a cask, for the
use of monarchs and great nobles alone. From thence he proceeded to
Frankfort, a beautiful but to him a horrible town, I suppose, because it
was partially free; and while there he took occasion to visit five
universities, at all of which he was received as a sort of deity,--the
students following his carriage with uncovered heads, and with cheers
and shouts, curious to see what sort of a man it was who had so easily
suppressed revolution in Italy, and who ruled Germany with such an
iron hand.

And yet while Metternich so completely extinguished the fires of
liberty in the countries which he governed, he was doomed to see how
hopeless it was to do the same in other lands by mere diplomatic
intrigues. In 1822 the Spanish revolution broke out; and a year after
came the Greek revolution, with all its complications, ending in a war
between Russia and Turkey. From this he stood aloof, since if he helped
the Turks to put down insurrection he would offend the Emperor
Alexander, thus far his best ally, and commit Austria to a war from
which he shrank. It was his policy to preserve his country from
entangling wars. It was as much as he could do to preserve order and law
in the various States of Germany, at the cost of all intellectual
progress. But he watched the developments of liberty in other parts of
Europe with the keenest interest, and his correspondence with the
different potentates--whether monarchs or their ministers--is very
voluminous, and was directed to the support of absolutism, in which
alone he saw hope for Europe. The liberal views of the English Canning
gave Metternich both solicitude and disgust; and he did all he could to
undermine the influence of Capo D'Istrias, the Greek diplomatist, with
his imperial master the Czar. He hated any man who was politically
enlightened, and destroyed him if he could. The event in his long reign
which most perplexed him and gave him the greatest solicitude was the
revolution in France in 1830, which unseated the Bourbons, and
established the constitutional government of Louis Philippe; and this
was followed by the insurrection of the Netherlands, revolts in the
German States, and the Polish revolution. With the year 1830 began a new
era in European politics,--a period of reform, not always successful,
but enough to show that the spirit of innovation could no longer be
suppressed; that the subterranean fires of liberty would burst forth
when least expected, and overthrow the strongest thrones.

But amid all the reforms which took place in England, in France, in
Belgium, in Piedmont, Austria remained stationary, so cemented was the
power of Metternich, so overwhelming was his influence,--the one central
figure in Germany for eighteen years longer. In 1835 the Emperor Francis
died, recommending to his son and successor Ferdinand to lean on the
powerful arm of the chancellor, and continue him in great offices. Nor
was it until the outbreak in Vienna in 1848, when emperor and minister
alike fled from the capital, that the official career of Metternich
closed, and he finally retired to his estates at Johannisberg to spend
his few declining years in leisure and peace.

For forty years Metternich had borne the chief burdens of the State. For
forty years his word was the law of Germany. For forty years all the
cabinets of continental Europe were guided more or less by his advice;
and his advice, from first to last, was uniform,--to put down popular
movements and uphold absolutism at any cost, and severely punish all
people, of whatever rank or character, who tempted the oppressed to
shake off their fetters, or who dared to give expression to emancipating
ideas, even in the halls of universities.

In view of the execrable tyranny, both political and religious, which
Metternich succeeded in establishing for thirty years, it is natural for
an ordinary person to look upon him as a monster,--hard, cruel,
unscrupulous, haughty, gloomy; a sort of Wallenstein or Strafford, to be
held in abhorrence; a man to be assassinated as the enemy of mankind.

But Metternich was nothing of the sort. As a man, in all his private
relations he was amiable, gentle, and kind to everybody, and greatly
revered by domestic servants and public functionaries. By his imperial
master he was treated as a brother or friend, rather than as a minister;
while on his part he never presumed on any liberties, and seemed simply
to obey the orders of his sovereign,--orders which he himself suggested,
with infinite tact and politeness; unlike Stein and Bismarck, who were
overbearing and rude even in the presence of the sovereign and court.
Metternich had better manners and more self-control. Indeed, he was the
model of a gentleman wherever he went. He was the hardest worked man in
the empire; and he worked from the stimulus of what he conceived to be
his duty, and for the welfare of the country, as he understood it.
Though one of the richest men in Austria, and of the highest social
rank, he lived in frugal simplicity, despising pomp and extravagance
alike. His highest enjoyment, outside the society of his family, was
music. The whole realm of art was his delight; but he loved Nature more
even than art. He enjoyed greatly the repose of his own library,--an
apartment eighteen feet high, and containing fifteen thousand volumes.
The only unamiable thing about Metternich was his fear of being bored.
He maintained that it was impossible to find over six interesting men in
any company whatever. With people whom he trusted he was unusually frank
and free-spoken. With diplomatists he wore a mask, and made it a point
to conceal his thoughts. He deceived even Napoleon. No one could
penetrate his intentions. Under a smooth and placid countenance,
unruffled and calm on all occasions, he practised when he pleased the
profoundest dissimulation; and he dissimulated by telling the truth
oftener than by concealing it. He knew what the _ars celare artem_
meant. When he could find leisure he was fond of travelling, especially
in Italy; but he hated and avoided the discomforts of travel. If he
made distant journeys he travelled luxuriously, and wherever he went he
was received with the greatest honors. At Rome the Pope treated him as a
sovereign. The Czar Alexander commanded his magnates to give to him the
same deference that they gave to himself.

While the world regarded Metternich as the most fortunate of men, he yet
had many sorrows and afflictions, which saddened his life. He lost two
wives and three of his children, to all of whom he was devotedly
attached, yet bore the loss with Christian resignation. He found relief
in work, and in his duties. There were no scandals in his private life.
He professed and seemed to feel the greatest reverence for religion, in
the form which had been taught him. He detested vulgarity in every
shape, as he did all ordinary vices, from which he was free. He was
self-conscious, and loved attention and honors, but was not a slave to
them, like most German officials. Nothing could be more tender and
affectionate than his letters to his mother, to his wife, and to his
daughters. His father he treated with supreme reverence. No public man
ever gave more dignity to domestic pleasures. "The truest friends of my
life," said he, "are my family and my master;" and to each he was
equally devoted. On the death of his second wife, in 1829, he writes,--

"I feel this misfortune most deeply. I have lost everything for the
remainder of my days. The other world is daily more and more peopled
with beings to whom I am united by the closest ties of affection. I too
shall take my place there, and I shall disengage myself from this life
with all the less regret. My only relief is in work. I am at my desk by
nine in the morning. I leave it at five, and return to it at half-past
six, and work till half-past ten, when I receive visitors till

Time, however, brought its relief, and in 1831 he married the Princess
Melanie, and his third marriage was as happy as the others appear to
have been. In the diary of this wife, December 31, I read:--

"We supped at midnight, and exchanged good wishes for the new year. May
God long preserve to me my good, kind Clement, and illuminate him with
His divine light. It touches me to see the pleasure it gives him to talk
with me on business, and read to me what he writes."

Such was the great Austrian statesman in his private life,--a dutiful
son, a loving and devoted husband, an affectionate father, a faithful
servant to his emperor, a kind master to his dependants, a courteous
companion, a sincere believer in the doctrines of his church, a man
conscientious in the discharge of duties, and having at heart the
welfare of his country as he understood it, amid innumerable perils from
foreign and domestic foes. As a statesman he was vigilant, sagacious,
experienced, and devoted to the interests of his imperial master.

But what were Metternich's services, by which great men claim to be
judged? He could say that he was the promoter of law and order; that he
kept the nation from entangling alliances with foreign powers; that he
was the friend of peace, and detested war except upon necessity; that he
developed industrial resources and wisely regulated finances; that he
secured national prosperity for forty years after desolating wars; that
he never disturbed the ordinary vocations of the people, or inflicted
unnecessary punishments; and that he secured to Austria a proud
pre-eminence among the nations of Europe.

But this was all. Metternich did nothing for the higher interests of
Germany. He kept it stagnant for forty years. He neither advanced
education, nor philanthropy, nor political economy. He was the
unrelenting foe of all political reforms, and of all liberal ideas. What
we call civilization, beyond amusements and pleasures and the ordinary
routine of business, owes to him nothing,--not even codes of law, or
enlightened principles of government. Judged by his services to
humanity, Metternich was not a great man. His highest claims to
greatness were in a vigorous administration of public affairs and
diplomatic ability in his treatment of foreign powers, but not in
far-reaching views or aims. As a ruler he ranks no higher than Mazarin
or Walpole or Castlereagh, and far below Canning, Peel, Pitt, or Thiers.
Indeed, Metternich takes his place with the tyrants of mankind, yet
showing how benignant, how courteous, how interesting, and even
religious and beloved, a tyrant can be; which is more than can be said
of Richelieu or Bismarck, the only two statesmen with whom he can be
compared,--all three ruling with absolute power delegated by
irresponsible and imperial masters, like Mordecai behind the throne of
Xerxes, or Maecenas at the court of Augustus.


The greatest authority is the Autobiography of Metternich; but Alison's
History, though dull and heavy, and marked by Tory prejudices, is
reliable. Fyffe may be read with profit in his recent history of Modern
Europe; also Müller's Political History of Recent Times. The Annual
Register is often quoted by Alison. Schlosser's History of Europe in the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is a good authority.




In this lecture I wish to treat of the restoration of the Bourbons, and
of the counter-revolution in France.

On the fall of Napoleon, the Prussian king and the Austrian emperor,
under the predominating influence of Metternich, in restoring the
Bourbons were averse to constitutional checks. They wanted nothing less
than absolute monarchy, such as existed before the Revolution. On the
other hand, the Czar Alexander, generous and inclined then to liberal
ideas, was willing to concede something to the Revolution; while the
government of England, mindful of the liberty which had made that
country so glorious and so prosperous, also favored a constitutional
government in the person of the legitimate heir of the French monarchy.
Such was also the wish of the French nation, so far as it could be
expressed; for the French people, under whatever form of government
they may have lived, have never forgotten or repudiated the ideas and
bequests of the greatest movement in modern times.

Prussia and Austria, therefore, were obliged to yield to Russia and
England, supported by the will of the French nation itself. Russia had
no jealousy of French ideas; and England certainly could not,
consistently with her struggles and her traditions, oppose what the
English nation resolutely clung to, and of which it was so proud.
Prussia and Austria, undisturbed by revolutions, wished simply the
restoration of the _status quo_, which with them meant absolute
monarchy; but which in France was not really the _status quo_, since the
Revolution had effected great and permanent changes even under the
régime of Bonaparte. Russia and England, in conceding something to
liberty, were yet as earnest and sincere advocates of legitimacy as
Prussia and Austria; for constitutional rights may exist under a
monarchy as well as under a republic. Moreover, it was felt by
enlightened statesmen of all parties that no government could be stable
and permanent in France which ignored the bequests of the Revolution,
which even Napoleon professed to respect.

Accordingly it was settled that Louis XVIII.,--the younger brother of
Louis XVI., who had fled from France in 1792,--should be recalled from
exile, and restored to the throne of his ancestors, since he agreed to
accept checks to his authority, and swore to defend the new
constitution, although he insisted upon reigning "by the grace of
God,"--not as a monarch who received his crown from the people, or as a
gift from other monarchs, but by divine right. To this all parties
consented. He maintained the dignity of the royal prerogative at the
same time that he recognized the essential liberties of the nation. They
were not so full and complete as those in England; but the king
guaranteed to secure the rights both of public and private property, to
respect the freedom of the Press, to grant liberty of worship, to
maintain the national obligations, to make the judicial power
independent and irremovable, and to admit all Frenchmen to civil and
military employment, without restrictions in matters of religion. These
in substance constituted the charter which he granted on condition of
reigning,--an immense gain to France and the cause of civilization, if
honestly maintained.

Louis XVIII. was neither a great king nor a great man; but his long
exile of twenty years, his travels and residences in various countries
in Europe, his misfortunes and his studies, had liberalized his mind
without embittering his heart. He never lost his dignity or his hopes in
his sad reverses; and when he was thus recalled to France to mount the
throne of his murdered brother, he was a very respectable man, both
from natural intelligence and extensive attainments. He possessed great
social and conversational powers, was moderate in his views of
Catholicism, virtuous in his private character, affectionate with his
friends and the members of his family, prudent in the exercise of power,
and disposed to reign according to the constitution which he honestly
had accepted; but socially he restored the ancient order of things,
surrounded himself with a splendid court, lived in great pomp and
ceremony, and appointed the ancient nobles to the higher offices of
state. According to French writers, he was the equal in conversation of
any of the great men with whom he was brought in contact, without being
great himself, thereby resembling Louis XIV. He had handsome features, a
musical voice, pleasing manners, and singular urbanity, without being
condescending. He was infirm in his legs, which prevented him from
taking exercise, except in his long daily drives, drawn in his
magnificent carriage by eight horses, with outriders and guards.

The king delegated his powers to no single statesman, but held the reins
in his own hand. His ability as a ruler consisted in his tact and
moderation in managing the conflicting parties, and in his honest
abstention from encroaching on the liberties of the people in rare
emergencies; so that his reign was peaceable and tolerably successful.
It required no inconsiderable ability to preserve the throne to his
successor amid such a war of factions, and such a disposition for
encroachments on the part of the royal family. In contrast with the
splendid achievements and immense personality of Napoleon, Louis XVIII.
is not a great figure in history; but had there been no Revolution and
no Napoleon, he would have left the fame of a wise and benevolent
sovereign. His only striking weakness was in submitting to the influence
of either a favorite or a woman, like all the Bourbons from Henry IV.
downward,--except perhaps Louis XVI., who would have been more fortunate
had he yielded implicitly to the overpowering ascendency of such a woman
as Madame de Maintenon, or such a minister as Richelieu.

The reign of Louis XVIII. is not marked by great events or great
passions, except the unrelenting and bitter animosity of the Royalists
to everything which characterized the Revolution or the military
ascendency of Napoleon. By their incessant intrigues and unbounded
hatreds and intolerant bigotry, they kept the kingdom in constant
turmoils, even to the verge of revolution, gradually pushing the king
into impolitic measures, against his will and his better judgment, and
creating a reaction to all liberal movements. These turmoils, which are
uninteresting to us, formed no inconsiderable part of the history of the
times. The only great event of the reign was the war in Spain to
suppress revolutionary ideas in that miserable country, ground down by
priests and royal despotism, and a prey to every conceivable faction.

The ministry which the king appointed on his accession was composed of
able, moderate, and honest men, but without any ascendant genius, except
Talleyrand; who selected his colleagues, and retained for himself the
portfolio of foreign affairs and the presidency of the Council, giving
to Fouché the management of internal affairs. Loth was the king to
accept the services of either,--the one a regicide, and the other a
traitor. The whole royal family set up a howl of indignation at the
appointment of Fouché; but it was deemed necessary to secure his
services in order to maintain law and order, and the king remained firm
against the earnest expostulations of his brother the Comte d'Artois,
his niece the Duchesse d'Angoulême, and all the Royalists who had
influence with him. But he despised and hated in his soul Fouché,--that
minion of Napoleon, that product of blood and treason,--and waited only
for a convenient time to banish him from the councils and the realm. Nor
did he like Talleyrand (at that time the greatest man in France), but
made use of his magnificent talents only until he could do without him.
When the king felt established on his throne, he sent Talleyrand away;
indeed, there was great pressure brought to bear for the dismissal by
those who found the minister too moderate in his views. The king did not
punish him, but kept him in a subordinate office, leaving him to enjoy
his dignities and the immense fortune he had accumulated.

Talleyrand was born in 1754, and belonged to one of the most illustrious
families in France. He was destined to the Church against his will,
being from the start worldly, ambitious, and scandalously immoral; but
he accepted his destiny, and soon distinguished himself at the Sorbonne
for his literary attainments, for his wit and his social qualities. At
twenty, as the young Abbé de Périgord, he was received into the highest
society of Paris; his noble birth, his aristocratic and courtly manners,
his convivial qualities, and his irrepressible wit made him a favorite
in the gay circles which marked the early part of the reign of Louis
XVI., while his extraordinary abilities and consummate tact naturally
secured early promotion. In 1780 he was appointed to the office of
general agent for the clergy of France, which brought him before the
public. Eight years after, at the early age of thirty-four, he was made
Bishop of Autun. In May, 1789, he became a member of the States-General,
and with his fascinating eloquence tried to induce the clergy to
surrender their tithes and church lands to the nation,--a result which
was brought about soon after, _nolens volens_, by the genius of
Mirabeau. Talleyrand hated the Church and despised the people, but, like
Mirabeau, was in favor of a constitution like that of England, In all
his changes he remained an aristocrat from his tastes, his education,
and his rank, but veiled his views, whatever they were, with profound
dissimulation, of which he was a consummate master. The laxity of his
morals, the secret hatred of his order, and his infidel sentiments led
to his excommunication, which troubled him but little. Out of the pale
of the Church, he turned his thoughts to diplomacy, and was sent to
London as an ambassador,--without, however, the official title and
insignia of that high office,--where he fascinated the highest circles
by the splendor of his conversation and the causticity of his wit. On
his return to Paris he was distrusted by the Jacobins, and with
difficulty made his escape to England; but the English government also
distrusted a man of such boundless intrigue, and ordered him to quit the
country within twenty-four hours. He fled to America at the age of
forty, with straitened means, but after the close of the Reign of Terror
returned to Paris, and six months later was made foreign minister under
the Directory. This office he did not long retain, failing to secure the
confidence of the government. The austere Carnot said of him:--

"That man brings with him all the vices of the old régime, without
being able to acquire a single virtue of the new one. He possesses no
fixed principles, but changes them as he does his linen, adopting them
according to the fashion of the day. He was a philosopher when
philosophy was in vogue; a republican now, because it is necessary at
present to be so in order to become anything; to-morrow he would
proclaim and uphold tyranny, if he could thereby serve his own
interests. I will not have him at any price; and so long as I am at the
helm of State he shall be nothing."

When Bonaparte returned from Egypt, Citizen Talleyrand had been six
months out of office, and he saw that it would be for his interest to
put himself in intimate connection with the most powerful man in France.
Besides, as a diplomatist, he saw that only in a monarchical government
could he have employment. Napoleon, who seldom made a mistake in his
estimate of character, perceived that Talleyrand was just the man for
his purpose,--talented, dexterous, unscrupulous, and sagacious,--and
made him his minister of foreign affairs, utterly indifferent as to his
private character. Nor could he politically have made a wiser choice;
for it was Talleyrand who made the Concordat with the Pope, the Treaty
of Luneville, and the Peace of Amiens. Napoleon wanted a practical man
in the diplomatic post,--neither a pedant nor an idealist; and that was
just what Talleyrand was,--a man to meet emergencies, a man to build up
a throne. But even Napoleon got tired of him at last, and Talleyrand
retired with the dignity of vice-grand elector of the empire, grand
chamberlain, and Prince of Benevento, together with a fortune, it is
said, of thirty million francs.

"How did you acquire your riches?" blandly asked the Emperor one day.
"In the simplest way in the world," replied the ex-minister. "I bought
stock the day before the 18th Brumaire [when Napoleon overthrew the
Directory], and sold it again the day after."

When Napoleon meditated the conquest of Spain, Talleyrand, like
Metternich, saw that it would be a blunder, and frankly told the Emperor
his opinion,--a thing greatly to his credit. But his advice enraged
Napoleon, who could brook no opposition or dissent, and he was turned
out of his office as chamberlain. Talleyrand avenged himself by plotting
against his sovereign, foreseeing his fall, and by betraying him to the
Bourbons. He gave his support to Louis XVIII., because he saw that the
only government then possible for France was one combining legitimacy
with constitutional checks; for Talleyrand, with all his changes and
treasons, liked neither an unfettered despotism nor democratic rule. As
one of those who acted with the revolutionists, he was liberal in his
ideas; but as the servant of royalty he wished to see a firmly
established government, which to his mind was impossible with the reign
of demagogues. When the Congress of Vienna assembled, he was sent to it
as the French plenipotentiary. And he did good work at the Congress for
his sovereign, whose representative he was, and for his country by
contriving with his adroit manipulations to alienate the northern from
the southern States of Germany, making the latter allies of France and
the former allies of Russia,--in other words, practically dividing
Germany, which it was the work of Bismarck afterward to unite. A united
Germany Talleyrand regarded as threatening to the interests of France;
and he contrived to bring France back again into political importance,--
to restore her rank among the great Powers. He did not bargain for
spoils, like the other plenipotentiaries; he only strove to preserve the
nationality of France, and to secure her ancient limits, which Prussia
in her greed and hatred would have destroyed or impaired but for the
magnanimity of the Czar Alexander and the firmness of Lord Castlereagh.

On his return from the Congress of Vienna, the reign of Talleyrand as
prime minister was short; and as his power was comparatively small under
both Louis XVIII. and his successor Charles X., and as he was not the
representative of reactionary ideas or movements, but only of
a firm government, I do not give to him the leadership of the
counter-revolution. He was unquestionably the greatest statesman at that
time in France, though indolent, careless, and without power as
an orator.

Who was then the great exponent of reaction, and of antagonism to
liberal and progressive opinions, during the reigns of the restored
Bourbons? It was not the king himself, Louis XVIII.; for he did all he
could to repress the fanatical zeal of his family and of the royalist
party. He despised the feeble mind of his brother, the Comte d'Artois,
his narrow intolerance, and his court of priests and bigots, and was in
perpetual conflict with him as a politician, while at the same time he
clung to him with the ties of natural affection.

Was it the Duc de Richelieu, grand-nephew of the great cardinal, whom
the king selected for his prime minister on the retirement of
Talleyrand? He hardly represents the return to absolutism, since he was
moderate, conciliatory, and disposed to unite all parties under a
constitutional government. No man in France was more respected than
he,--adored by his family, modest, virtuous, disinterested, and
patriotic. As an administrator in the service of Russia during the
ascendency of Napoleon, he had greatly distinguished himself. He was a
favorite of Alexander, and through his influence with the Czar France
was in no slight degree indebted for the favorable terms which she
received on the restoration of the monarchy, when Prussia exacted a
cruel indemnity. He wished to unite all parties in loyal submission to
the constitution, rather than secure the ascendency of any. While able
and highly respected, Richelieu was not pre-eminently great. Nor was
Villèle, who succeeded him as prime minister, and who retained his power
for six or eight years, nearly to the close of the reign of Charles X.,
a great historical figure.

The man under the restored monarchy who represented with the most
ability reactionary movements of all kinds, and devotion to the cause of
absolute monarchy, I think was Francois Auguste, Vicomte de
Chateaubriand. Certainly he was the most illustrious character of that
period. Poet, orator, diplomatist, minister, he was a man of genius, who
stands out as a great figure in history; not so great as Talleyrand in
the single department of diplomacy, but an infinitely more respectable
and many-sided man. He had an immense _éclat_ in the early part of this
century as writer and poet, although his literary fame has now greatly
declined. Lamartine, in his sentimental and rhetorical exaggeration,
speaks of him as "the Ossian of France,--an aeolian harp, producing
sounds which ravish the ear and agitate the heart, but which the mind
cannot define; the poet of instincts rather than of ideas, who gained an
immortal empire, not over the reason but over the imagination of
the age."

Chateaubriand was born in Brittany, of a noble but not illustrious
family, in 1769, entered the army in 1786, and during the Reign of
Terror emigrated to America. He returned to France in 1799, after the
18th Brumaire, and became a contributor to the "Mercure de France." In
1802 he published the "Génie du Christianisme," which made him
enthusiastically admired as a literary man,--the only man of the time
who could compete with the fame of Madame de Staël. This book astonished
a country that had been led astray by an infidel philosophy, and
converted it back to Christianity, not by force of arguments, but by an
appeal to the heart and the imagination. The clergy, the aristocracy,
women, and youth were alike enchanted. The author was sent to Rome by
Napoleon as secretary of his embassy; but on the murder of the Due
d'Enghien (1804), Chateaubriand left the imperial service, and lived in
retirement, travelling to the Holy Land and throughout the Orient and
Southern Europe, and writing his books of travels. He took no interest
in political affairs until the time of the Restoration, when he again
appeared. A brilliant and effective pamphlet, "De Bonaparte et des
Bourbons," published by him in 1814, was said by Louis XVIII. to be
worth an army of a hundred thousand men to the cause of the Bourbons;
and upon their re-establishment Chateaubriand was immediately in high
favor, and was made a member of the Chamber of Peers.

The Chamber of Peers was substituted for the Senate of Napoleon, and was
elected by the king. It had cognizance of the crime of high treason, and
of all attempts against the safety of the State. It was composed of the
most distinguished nobles, the bishops, and marshals of France, presided
over by the chancellor. To this chamber the ministers were admitted, as
well as to the Chamber of Deputies, the members of which were elected by
about one hundred thousand voters out of thirty millions of people. They
were all men of property, and as aristocratic as the peers themselves.
They began their sessions by granting prodigal compensations,
indemnities, and endowments to the crown and to the princes. They
appropriated thirty-three millions of francs annually for the
maintenance of the king, besides voting thirty millions more for the
payment of his debts; they passed a law restoring to the former
proprietors the lands alienated to the State, and still unsold. They
brought to punishment the generals who had deserted to Napoleon during
the one hundred days of his renewed reign; they manifested the most
intense hostility to the régime which he had established. Indeed, all
classes joined in the chorus against the fallen Emperor, and attributed
to him alone the misfortunes of France. Vengeance, not now directed
against Royalists but against Republicans, was the universal cry; the
people demanded the heads of those who had been their idols. Everything
like admiration for Napoleon seemed to have passed away forever. The
violence of the Royalists for speedy vengeance on their old foes
surpassed the cries of the revolutionists in the Reign of Terror. France
was again convulsed with passions, which especially raged in the bosoms
of the Royalists. They shot Marshal Ney, the bravest of the brave, and
Colonel Labedoyèn; they established courts-martial for political
offences; they passed a law against seditious cries and individual
liberty. There were massacres at Marseilles, and atrocities at Nismes;
the Catholics of the South persecuted the Protestants. The king himself
was almost the only man among his party that was inclined to moderation,
and he found a bitter opposition from the members of his own family.
Added to these discords, the finances were found to be in a most
disordered state, and the annual deficit was fifty or sixty millions.

All this was taking place while one hundred and fifty thousand foreign
soldiers were quartered in the towns and garrisons at the expense of the
government. The return of Napoleon had cost the lives of sixty thousand
Frenchmen and a thousand millions of francs, besides the indemnities,
which amounted to fifteen hundred millions more. No language of
denunciation could be stronger than that which went forth from the mouth
of the whole nation in view of Napoleon's selfishness and ambition. But
one voice was listened to, and that was the cry for vengeance; prudence,
moderation, and justice were alike disregarded. All attempts to stem the
tide of ultra-royalist violence were in vain. The king was obliged to
dismiss Talleyrand because he was not violent enough in his measures; at
the same time he was glad to get rid of his sagacious minister, being
jealous of his ascendency.

So the throne of Louis XVIII. was anything but a bed of roses, amid the
war of parties and the perils which surrounded it. All his tact was
required to steer the ship of state amidst the rocks and breakers. Most
of the troubles were centred in the mutual hostilities, jealousies, and
hatreds of the Royalists themselves, at the head of whom were the king's
brother the Comte d'Artois, and the Vicomte de Chateaubriand. So
vehement were the passions of the deputies, nearly all Royalists, that
the president of the Chamber, the excellent and talented Lainé, was
publicly insulted in his chair by a violent member of the extreme Right;
and even Chateaubriand the king was obliged to deprive of his office on
account of the violence of his opinions in behalf of absolutism,--a
greater royalist than the king himself! The terrible reaction was forced
by the nation upon the sovereign, who was more liberal and humane than
the people.

Of course, in the embittered quarrels between the Royalists themselves,
nothing was done during the reign of Louis XVIII. toward useful and
needed reforms. The orators in the chambers did not discuss great ideas
of any kind, and inaugurated no grand movements, not even internal
improvements. The only subjects which occupied the chambers were
proscriptions, confiscations, grants to the royal family, the
restoration of the clergy to their old possessions, salaries to high
officials, the trials of State prisoners, conspiracies and crimes
against the government,--all of no sort of interest to us, and of no
historical importance.

In the meantime there assembled at Verona a Congress composed of nearly
all the sovereigns of Europe, with their representatives,--as brilliant
an assemblage as that at Vienna a few years before. It met not to put
down a great conqueror, but to suppress revolutionary ideas and
movements, which were beginning to break out in various countries in
Europe, especially in Italy and Spain. To this Congress was sent, as one
of the representatives of France, Chateaubriand, who on its assembling
was ambassador at London. He was, however, weary of English life and
society; he did not like the climate with its interminable fogs; he was
not received by the higher aristocracy with the cordiality he expected,
and seemed to be intimate with no one but Canning, whose conversion to
liberal views had not then taken place.

In France, the ministry of the Duc de Richelieu had been succeeded by
that of Villèle as president of the Council, in which M. Matthieu de
Montmorency was minister of foreign affairs,--member of a most
illustrious house, and one of the finest characters that ever adorned an
exalted station. Between Montmorency and Chateaubriand there existed the
most intimate and affectionate friendship, and it was at the urgent
solicitation of the former that Chateaubriand was recalled from London
and sent with Montmorency to Verona, where he had a wider scope for
his ambition.

Chateaubriand was most graciously received by the Czar Alexander and by
Metternich, the latter at that time in the height of his power and
glory. Alexander flattered Chateaubriand as a hero of humanity and a
religious philosopher; while Metternich received him as the apostle of

The particular subject which occupied the attention of the Congress was,
whether the great Powers should intervene in the internal affairs of
Spain, then agitated by revolution. King Ferdinand, who was restored to
his throne after the forced abdication of Joseph Bonaparte, had broken
the Constitution of 1812, which he had sworn to defend, and outraged his
subjects by cruelties equalled only by those of that other Bourbon who
reigned at Naples. In consequence, his subjects had rebelled, and sought
to secure their liberties. This rebellion disturbed all Europe, and the
great Powers, with the exception of England,--ruled virtually by
Canning, the foreign minister,--resolved on an armed intervention to
suppress the popular revolution. Chateaubriand used all his influence in
favor of intervention; and so did Montmorency. They even exceeded the
instructions of the king and Villèle the prime minister, who wished to
avoid a war with Spain; they acted as the representatives of the Holy
Alliance rather than as ambassadors of France. The Congress committed
Russia, Austria, and Prussia to hostile interference, in case the king
of France should be driven into war,--a course which Wellington
disapproved, and which he urged Louis XVIII. to refrain from. In
consequence, the French king temporized, dreading either to resist or to
submit to the ascendency of Russia, and dissatisfied with the course
his negotiators had taken at the Congress, especially his minister of
foreign affairs, on whom the responsibility lay. Montmorency accordingly
resigned, and Chateaubriand took his place; in consequence of which a
coolness sprung up between the two friends, who at the Congress had
equally advocated the same policy.

The discussions which ensued in the chambers whether or not France
should embark in a war with Spain,--in other words, whether she should
interfere with the domestic affairs of a foreign and independent
nation,--were the occasion of the first serious split among the
statesmen of France at this time. There was a party for war and a party
against it; at the head of the latter were men who afterward became
distinguished. There were bitter denunciations of the ministers; but the
war party headed by Chateaubriand prevailed, and the French ambassador
was recalled from Madrid, although war was not yet formally declared. In
the Chamber of Peers Talleyrand used his influence against the invasion
of Spain, foretelling the evils which would ultimately result, even as
he had cautioned Napoleon against the same thing. He told the chamber
that although the proposed invasion would be probably successful, it
would be a great mistake.

M. Molé, afterward so eminent as an orator, took the side of Talleyrand.
"Where are we going?" said he. "We are going to Madrid. Alas, we have
been there already! Will a revolution cease when the independence of
the people who are suffering from it is threatened? Have we not the
example of the French Revolution, which was invincible when its cause
became identical with that of our independence?" "This man," exclaimed
the king, "confirms me in the system of M. de Villèle,--to temporize,
and avoid the war if it be possible."

Chateaubriand replied in an elaborate speech in favor of the war. From
his standpoint, his speech was masterly and unanswerable. It was a grand
consecutive argument, solid logic without sentimentalism. While he
admitted that, according to the principles laid down by the great
writers on international war, intervention could not generally be
defended, he yet maintained that there were exceptions to the rule, and
this was one of them; that the national safety was jeopardized by the
Spanish revolution; that England herself had intervened in the French
Revolution; that all the interests of France were compromised by the
successes of the Spanish revolutionists; that a moral contagion was
spreading even among the troops themselves; in fact, that there was no
security for the throne, or for the cause of religion and of public
order, unless the armies of France should restore Ferdinand, then a
virtual prisoner in his own palace, to the government he had inherited.

The war was decided upon, and the Duke of Angoulême, nephew of the king,
was sent across the Pyrenees with one hundred thousand troops to put
down the innumerable factions, and reseat Ferdinand. The Duke was
assisted, of course, by all the royalists of Spain, by all the clergy,
and by all conservative parties; and the conquest of the kingdom was
comparatively easy. The republican chiefs were taken and hanged,
including Diego, the ablest of them all. Ferdinand, delivered by foreign
armies, remounted his throne, forgot all his pledges, and reigned on the
most despotic principles, committing the most atrocious cruelties. The
successful general returned to France with great _éclat_, while the
government was pushed every day by the triumphant Royalists into
increased severity,--into measures which logically led, under Charles
X., to his expulsion from the throne, and the final defeat of the
principle of legitimacy itself,--another great step toward republican
institutions, which were finally destined to triumph.

Among the extreme measures was the Septennial Bill, which passed both
houses against the protest of liberal members, some of whom afterward
became famous,--such as General Foy, General Sebastiani, Dupont (de
l'Eure), Casimir Périer, Lafitte, Lanjuinais. This law was a _coup
d'état_ against electoral opinions and representative government. It
gave the king and his government the advantage of fixing for seven
years longer the majority which was secured by the elections of 1822,
and of closing the Chamber against a modification of public opinions.
Villèle and Chateaubriand were the authors of this act.

Another bill was proposed by Villèle, not so objectionable, which was to
reduce the interest on the loans contracted by the State; in other
words, to borrow money at less interest and pay off the old debts,--a
salutary financial measure adopted in England, and later by the United
States after the Civil War. But this measure was bitterly opposed by the
clergy, who looked upon it as a reduction of their incomes. Here
Chateaubriand virtually abandoned the government, in his uniform support
of the temporalities of the Church; and the measure failed; which so
deeply exasperated both the king and the prime minister that
Chateaubriand was dismissed from his office as minister of
foreign affairs.

The fallen minister angrily resented his disgrace, and thenceforward
secretly took part against the government, embarrassing it by his
articles in the journals of the day. He did not renounce his
conservative opinions; but he became the personal enemy of Villèle.
Chateaubriand had no magnanimity. He retired to nurse his resentments in
the society of Madame Récamier, with whom he had formed a friendship
difficult to be distinguished from love. He had been always her devoted
admirer when she reigned a queen of society in the fashionable _salons_
of Paris, and continued his intimacy with her until his death. Daily did
he, when a broken old man, make his accustomed visit to her modest
apartments in the Convent of St. Joseph, and give vent to his melancholy
and morbid feelings. He regarded himself as the most injured man in
France. He became discontented with the Crown, and even with the
aristocracy. On the day of his retirement from the ministry the
intelligence of the Royalist party followed him in opposition to the
government, whose faults he had encouraged and shared. The "Journal des
Débats," the most influential newspaper in France, deserted Villèle; and
from this defection may be dated, says Lamartine, "all those enmities
against the government of the Restoration which collected in one work of
aggression the most contradictory ideas, which alienated public opinion,
which exasperated the government and pushed it on from excesses to
insanity, irritated the tribune, blindfolded the elections, and finished
by changing, five years afterward, the opposition of nineteen votes
hostile to the Bourbons into a heterogeneous but formidable majority, in
presence of which the monarchy had only the choice left between a
humiliating resignation and a mortal _coup d'état_."

Chateaubriand now disappears from the field of history as one of its
great figures. He lived henceforth in retirement, but bitter in his
opposition to the government of which he had been the virtual head,
contributing largely to the "Journal des Débats," of which he was the
life, and by which he was supported. In the next reign he refused the
office of Minister of Public Instruction as derogatory to his dignity,
but accepted the post of ambassador to Rome,--a sort of honorable exile.
But he was an unhappy and disappointed man; he had taken the wrong side
in politics, and probably saw his errors. His genius, if it had been
directed to secure constitutional liberty, would have made him a
national idol, for he lived to see the dethronement of Louis Philippe in
1848; but like Castlereagh in England, he threw his superb talents in
with the sinking cause of absolutism, and was after all a political
failure. He lives only as a literary man,--one of the most eloquent
poets of his day, one of the lights of that splendid constellation of
literary geniuses that arose on the fall of Napoleon.

Soon after the retirement of Chateaubriand, Louis XVIII. himself died,
at an advanced age, having contrived to preserve his throne by
moderation and honesty. In his latter days he was exceedingly infirm in
body, but preserved his intellectual faculties to the last. He was a
lonely old man, even while surrounded by a splendid court. He wanted
somebody to love, at least to cheer him in his isolation; for he had no
peace in his family, deeply as he was attached to its members. He
himself had discovered the virtues and disinterestedness of his minister
Décazes, and when his family and ministers drove away this favorite, the
king was devoted to him even in disgrace, and made him his companion.
Still later he found a substitute in Madame du Caylus,--one of those
interesting and accomplished women peculiar to France. She was not
ambitious of ruling the king, as her aunt, Madame de Maintenon, was of
governing Louis XIV., and her virtue was unimpeachable. She wrote to the
king letters twice a day, but visited him only once a week. She was the
tool of a cabal, rather than the leader of a court; but her influence
was healthy, ennobling, and religious. Louis XVIII. was not what would
be called a religious man; he performed his religious duties regularly,
but in a perfunctory manner. He was not, however, a hypocrite or a
pharisee, but was simply indifferent to religious dogmas, and secretly
averse to the society of priests. When he was dying, it was with great
difficulty that he could be made to receive extreme unction. He died
without pain, recommending to his brother, who was to succeed him, to
observe the charter of French liberties, yet fearing that his blind
bigotry would be the ruin of the family and the throne, as events
proved. The last things to which the dying king clung were pomps and
ceremonies, concealing even from courtiers his failing strength, and
going through the mockery of dress and court etiquette to almost the
very day of his death, in 1824.

The Comte d'Artois, now Charles X., ascended the throne, with the usual
promises to respect the liberties of the nation, which his brother had
conscientiously maintained. Unfortunately Charles's intellect was weak
and his conscience perverted; he was a narrow-minded, bigoted sovereign,
ruled by priests and ultra-royalists, who magnified his prerogatives,
appealed to his prejudices, and flattered his vanity. He was not cruel
and blood-thirsty,--he was even kind and amiable; but he was a fool, who
could not comprehend the conditions by which only he could reign in
safety; who could not understand the spirit of the times, or appreciate
the difficulties with which he had to contend.

What was to be expected of such a monarch but continual blunders,
encroachments, and follies verging upon crimes? The nation cared nothing
for his hunting-parties, his pleasures, and his attachment to mediaeval
ceremonies; but it did care for its own rights and liberties, purchased
so dearly and guarded so zealously; and when these were gradually
attacked by a man who felt himself to be delegated from God with
unlimited powers to rule, not according to laws but according to his
caprices and royal will, then the ferment began,--first in the
legislative assemblies, then extending to journalists, who controlled
public opinion, and finally to the discontented, enraged, and
disappointed people. The throne was undermined, and there was no power
in France to prevent the inevitable catastrophe. In Russia, Prussia, and
Austria an overwhelming army, bound together by the mechanism which
absolutism for centuries had perfected, could repress disorder; but in a
country where the army was comparatively small, enlightened by the ideas
of the Revolution and fraternizing with the people, this was not
possible. A Napoleon, with devoted and disciplined troops, might have
crushed his foes and reigned supreme; but a weak and foolish monarch,
with a disaffected and scattered army, with ministers who provoked all
the hatreds and violent passions of legislators, editors, and people
alike, was powerless to resist or overcome.

The short reign of Charles X. was not marked by a single event of
historical importance, except the conquest of Algiers; and that was
undertaken by the government to gain military _éclat_,--in other words,
popularity,--and this at the very time it was imposing restrictions on
the Press. There were during this reign no reforms, no public
improvements, no measures of relief for the poor, no stimulus to new
industries, no public encouragement of art or literature, no triumphs of
architectural skill; nothing to record but the strife of political
parties, and a systematic encroachment by the government on electoral
rights, on legislative freedom, on the liberty of the Press. There was a
senseless return to mediaeval superstitions and cruelties, all to please
the most narrow and intolerant class of men who ever traded on the
exploded traditions of the past. The Jesuits returned to promulgate
their sophistries and to impose their despotic yoke; the halls of
justice were presided over by the tools of arbitrary power; great
offices were given to the most obsequious slaves of royalty, without
regard to abilities or fitness. There was not indeed the tyranny of
Spain or Naples or Austria; but everything indicated a movement toward
it. Those six years which comprised the reign of Charles X. were a
period of reaction,--a return to the Middle Ages in both State and
Church, a withering blast on all noble aspirations. Even the prime
minister Villèle, a legitimatist and an ultra-royalist, was too liberal
for the king; and he was dismissed to make room for Martignac, and he
again for Polignac, who had neither foresight nor prudence nor ability.
The generals of the republic and of the empire were removed from active
service. An indemnity of a thousand millions was given by an obsequious
legislature to the men who had emigrated during the Revolution,--a
generous thing to do, but a premium on cowardice and want of patriotism.
A base concession was made to the sacerdotal party, by making it a
capital offence to profane the sacred vessels of the churches or the
consecrated wafer; thus putting the power of life and death into the
hands of the clergy, not for crimes against society but for an insult to
the religion of the Middle Ages.

But the laws passed against the Press were the most irritating of all.
The Press had become a power which it was dangerous to trifle with,--the
one thing in modern times which affords the greatest protection to
liberty, which is most hated by despots and valued by enlightened minds.
A universal clamor was raised against this return to barbarism, this
extinction of light in favor of darkness, this discarding of the
national reason. Royalists and liberals alike denounced this culminating
act of high treason against the majesty of the human mind, this
death-blow to civilization. Chateaubriand, Royer-Collard, Dupont (de
l'Eure), even Labourdonnais, predicted its fatal consequences; and their
impassioned eloquence from the tribune became in a few days the public
opinion of the nation, and the king in his infatuation saw no remedy for
his increasing unpopularity but in dissolving the Chamber of Deputies
and ordering a new election,--the blindest thing he could possibly do.
It was now seen that he was determined to rule in utter defiance of the
charter he had sworn to defend, and on the principles of undisguised
absolutism. All parties now coalesced against the king and his
ministers. The king then began to tamper with the military in order to
establish by violence the old régime. It was found difficult to fill
ministerial appointments, as everybody felt that the ship of State was
drifting upon the rocks. The king even determined to dissolve the new
Chamber of Deputies before it met, the elections having pronounced
emphatically against his government.

At last the passions of the people became excited, and daily increased
in violence. Then came resistance to the officers of the law; then
riots, then barricades, then the occupation of the Tuileries, then
ineffectual attempts of the military to preserve order and restrain the
violence of the people. Marshal Marmont, with only twelve thousand
troops, was powerless against a great city in arms. The king thinking it
was only an _émeute,_ to be easily put down, withdrew to St. Cloud; and
there he spent his time in playing whist, as Nero fiddled over burning
Rome, until at last aroused by the vengeance of the whole nation, he
made his escape to England, to rust in the old palace of the kings of
Scotland, and to meditate over his kingly follies, as Napoleon meditated
over his mistakes in the island of St. Helena.

Thus closed the third act in the mighty drama which France played for
one hundred years: the first act revealing the passions of the
Revolution; the second, the abominations of military despotism; the
third, the reaction toward the absolutism of the old régime and its
final downfall. Two more acts are to be presented,--the perfidy and
selfishness of Louis Philippe, and the usurpation of Louis Napoleon; but
these must be deferred until in our course of lectures we have
considered the reaction of liberal sentiments in England during the
ministries of Castlereagh, Canning, and Lord Liverpool, when the Tories
resigned, as Metternich did in Vienna.

Yet the reign of the Bourbons, while undistinguished by great events,
was not fruitless in great men. On the fall of Napoleon, a crowd of
authors, editors, orators, and statesmen issued from their retreats, and
attracted notice by the brilliancy of their writings and speeches.
Crushed or banished by the iron despotism of Napoleon, who hated
literary genius, they now became a new power in France,--not to
propagate infidel sentiments and revolutionary theories, but to awaken
the nation to a sense of intellectual dignity and to maturer views of
government; to give a new impulse to literature, art, and science, and
to show how impossible it is to extinguish the fires of liberty when
once kindled in the breasts of patriots, or to put a stop to the
progress of the human mind among an excitable, intelligent, though
fickle people, craving with passionate earnestness both popular rights
and constitutional government in accordance with those laws of progress
which form the basis of true civilization.

There was Count Joseph de Maistre,--a royalist indeed, but who
propounded great truths mixed with great paradoxes; believing all he
said, seeking to restore the authority of divine revelation in a world
distracted by scepticism, grand and eloquent in style, and astonishing
the infidels as much as he charmed the religious.

Associated with him in friendship and in letters was the Abbé de
Lamennais, a young priest of Brittany, brought up amid its wilds in
silent reverence and awe, yet with the passions of a revolutionary
orator, logical as Bossuet, invoking young men, not to the worship of
mediaeval dogmas, but to the shrine of reason allied with faith.

Of another school was Cousin, the modern Plato, combating the
materialism of the eighteenth century with mystic eloquence, and drawing
around him, in his chair of philosophy at the Sorbonne, a crowd of
enthusiastic young men, which reminded one of Abélard among his pupils
in the infant university of Paris. Cousin elevated the soul while he
intoxicated the mind, and created a spirit of inquiry which was felt
wherever philosophy was recognized as one of the most ennobling studies
that can dignify the human intellect.

In history, both Guizot and Thiers had already become distinguished
before they were engrossed in politics. Augustin Thierry described, with
romantic fascination, the exploits of the Normans; Michaud brought out
his Crusades, Barante his Chronicles, Sismondi his Italian Republics,
Michelet his lively conception of France in the Middle Ages, Capefigue
the Life of Louis XIV., and Lamartine his poetical paintings of the
Girondists. All these masterpieces gave a new interest to historical
studies, infusing into history life and originality,--not as a barren
collection of annals and names, in which pedantry passes for learning,
and uninteresting details for accuracy and scholarship. In that
inglorious period more first-class histories were produced in France
than have appeared in England during the long reign of Queen Victoria,
where only three or four historians have reached the level of any one of
those I have mentioned, in genius or eloquence.

Another set of men created journalism as the expression of public
opinion, and as a lever to overturn an obstinate despotism built up on
the superstitions and dogmas of the Middle Ages. A few young men, almost
unknown to fame, with remorseless logic and fiery eloquence overturned a
throne, and established the Press as a power that proved irresistible,
driving the priests of absolutism back into the shadows of eternal
night, and making reason the guide and glory of mankind. Among these
were the disappointed and embittered Chateaubriand, who almost redeemed
his devotion to the royal cause by those elegant essays which recalled
the eloquence of his early life. Villemain wrote for the "Moniteur,"
Royer--Collard and Guizot for the "Courier," with all the haughtiness
and disdain which marked the Doctrinaire or Constitutional school;
Etienne and Pagès for the "Constitutionel," ridiculing the excesses of
the ultra-royalists, the pretensions of the clergy, and the follies of
the court; De Genoude for the "Gazette de France," and Thiers for the

In the realm of science Arago explored the wonders of the heavens, and
Cuvier penetrated the secrets of the earth. In poetry only two names are
prominent,--Delille and Béranger; but the French are not a poetical
nation. Most of the great writers of France wrote in prose, and for
style they have never been surpassed. If the poets were few after the
Restoration, the novelists were many, with transcendent excellences and
transcendent faults, reaching the heart by their pathos, insulting the
reason by their exaggerations, captivating the imagination while
shocking the moral sense; painting manners and dissecting passions with
powerful, acute, and vivid touch. Such were Victor Hugo, Eugene Sue, and
Alexandre Dumas, whose creations interested all classes alike, not
merely in France, but throughout the world.

The dignity of intellect amid political degradation was never more
strikingly displayed than by those orators who arose during the reign of
the Bourbons. The intrepid Manuel uttering his protests against royal
encroachments, in a chamber of Royalists all heated by passions and
prejudices; Lainé and De Serres, pathetic and patriotic; Guizot, De
Broglie, and De St. Aulaire, learned and profound; Royer-Collard,
religious, disdainful, majestic; General Foy, disinterested and
incorruptible; Lafitte, the banker; Benjamin Constant, the philosopher;
Berryer, the lawyer; Chateaubriand, the poet, most eloquent of
all,--these and a host of others (some liberal, some conservative, all
able) showed that genius was not extinguished amid all the attempts of
absolutism to suppress it. It is true that none of these orators arose
to supreme power, and that they were not equal to Mirabeau and other
great lights in the Revolutionary period. They were comparatively
inexperienced in parliamentary business, and were watched and fettered
by a hostile government, and could not give full scope to their
indignant eloquence without personal peril. Nor did momentous questions
of reform come before them for debate, as was the case in England during
the agitation on the Reform Bill. They did little more than show the
spirit that was in them, which under more favorable circumstances would
arouse the nation.

There was one more power which should be mentioned in connection with
that period of torpor and reaction, and that was the influence of the
_salons_. To these all the bright intellects of Paris resorted, and gave
full vent to their opinions,--artists, scholars, statesmen, journalists,
men of science, and brilliant women, in short, whoever was distinguished
in any particular sphere; and these composed what is called society, a
tremendous lever in fashionable life. In the _salons_ of Madame de
Staël, of the Duchesse de Duras, of the Duchesse de Broglie, of Madame
de St. Aulaire, and of Madame de Montcalm, all parties were represented,
and all subjects were freely discussed. Here Sainte-Beuve discoursed
with those whom he was afterward to criticise; here Talleyrand uttered
his concise and emphatic sentences; here Lafayette won hearts by his
courteous manners and amiable disposition; here Guizot prepared himself
for the tribune and the Press; here Villemain, with proud indifference,
broached his careless scepticism; here Montlosier blended aristocratical
paradoxes with democratic theories. All these great men, and a host of
others,--Béranger, Constant, Etienne, Lamartine, Pasquier, Mounier,
Molé, De Neuville, Lainé, Barante, Cousin, Sismondi,--freely exchanged
opinions, and rested from their labors; a group of geniuses worth more
than armies in the great contests between Liberty and Absolutism.

And here it may be said that these kings and queens of society
represented not material interests,--not commerce, not manufactures, not
stocks, not capital, not railways, not trade, not industrial
exhibitions, not armies and navies, but ideas, those invisible agencies
which shake thrones and make revolutions, and lift the soul above that
which is transient to that which is permanent,--to religion, to
philosophy, to art, to poetry, to the glories of home, to the certitudes
of friendship, to the benedictions of heaven; which may exist in all
their benign beauty and power whatever be the form of government or the
inequality of condition, in cottage or palace, in plenty or in want,
among foes or friends,--creating that sublime rest where men may prepare
themselves for a future and imperishable existence.

Such was the other side of France during the reign of the Bourbons,--the
lights which burst through the gloomy shades of tyranny and
superstition, to alleviate sorrows and disappointed hopes,--the
resurrection of intellect from the grave of despair.


The History of the Restoration by Lamartine is the most interesting work
I have read on the subject; but he is not regarded as a high authority.
Talleyrand's Memoirs, Mémoires de Chateaubriand; Lacretelle, Capefigue,
Alison; Biographie Universelle, Mémoires de Louis XVIII., Fyffe,
Mackenzie's History of the Nineteenth Century,--all are interesting, and
worthy of perusal.




Where an intelligent and cultivated though superficial traveller to
recount his impressions of England in 1815, when the Prince of Wales was
regent of the kingdom and Lord Liverpool was prime minister, he probably
would note his having been struck with the splendid life of the nobility
(all great landed proprietors) in their palaces at London, and in their
still more magnificent residences on their principal estates. He would
have seen a lavish if not an unbounded expenditure, emblazoned and
costly equipages, liveried servants without number, and all that wealth
could purchase in the adornment of their homes. He would have seen a
perpetual round of banquets, balls, concerts, receptions, and garden
parties, to which only the _élite_ of society were invited, all dressed
in the extreme of fashion, blazing with jewels, and radiant with the
smiles of prosperity. Among the lions of this gorgeous society he would
have seen the most distinguished statesmen of the day, chiefly peers of
the realm, with the blue ribbon across their shoulders, the diamond
garter below their knees, and the heraldic star upon their breasts.
Perhaps he might have met some rising orator, like Canning or Perceval,
whose speeches were in every mouth,--men destined to the highest
political honors, pets of highborn ladies for the brilliancy of their
genius, the silvery tones of their voices, and the courtly elegance of
their manners; Tories in their politics, and aristocrats in their

The traveller, if admitted as a stranger to these grand assemblages,
would have seen but few lawyers, except of the very highest distinction,
perhaps here and there a bishop or a dean with the paraphernalia of
clerical rank, but no physician, no artist, no man of science, no
millionaire banker, no poet, no scholar, unless his fame had gone out to
all the world. The brilliancy of the spectacle would have dazzled him,
and he would unhesitatingly have pronounced those titled men and women
to be the most fortunate, the most favored, and perhaps the most happy
of all people on the face of the globe, since, added to the distinctions
of rank and the pride of power, they had the means of purchasing all the
pleasures known to civilization, and--more than all--held a secure
social position, which no slander could reach and no hatred
could affect.

Or if he followed these magnates to their country estates after the
"season" had closed and Parliament was prorogued, he would have seen the
palaces of these lordly proprietors of innumerable acres filled with a
retinue of servants that would have called out the admiration of Cicero
or Crassus,--all in imposing liveries, but with cringing manners,--and a
crowd of aristocratic visitors, filling perhaps a hundred apartments,
spending their time according to their individual inclinations; some in
the magnificent library of the palace, some riding in the park, others
fox-hunting with the hounds or shooting hares and partridges, others
again flirting with ennuied ladies in the walks or boudoirs or gilded
drawing-rooms,--but all meeting at dinner, in full dress, in the carved
and decorated banqueting-hall, the sideboards of which groaned under the
load of gold and silver plate of the rarest patterns and most expensive
workmanship. Everywhere the eye would have rested on priceless pictures,
rare tapestries, bronze and marble ornaments, sumptuous sofas and
lounges, mirrors of Venetian glass, chandeliers, antique vases,
_bric-à-brac_ of every description brought from every corner of the
world. The conversation of these titled aristocrats,--most of them
educated at Oxford and Cambridge, cultivated by foreign travel, and
versed in the literature of the day,--though full of prejudices, was
generally interesting; while their manners, though cold and haughty,
were easy, polished, courteous, and dignified. It is true, most of them
would swear, and get drunk at their banquets; but their profanity was
conventional rather than blasphemous, and they seldom got drunk till
late in the evening, and then on wines older than their children, from
the most famous vineyards of Europe. During the day they were able to
attend to business, if they had any, and seldom drank anything stronger
than ale and beer. Their breakfasts were light and their lunches simple.
Living much in the open air, and fond of the pleasures of the chase,
they were generally healthy and robust. The prevailing disease which
crippled them was gout; but this was owing to champagne and burgundy
rather than to brandy and turtle-soups, for at that time no Englishman
of rank dreamed that he could dine without wine. William Pitt, it is
said, found less than three bottles insufficient for his dinner, when he
had been working hard.

Among them all there was great outward reverence for the Church, and few
missed its services on Sundays, or failed to attend family prayers in
their private chapels as conducted by their chaplains, among whom
probably not a Dissenter could be found in the whole realm. Both
Catholics and Dissenters were alike held in scornful contempt or
indifference, and had inferior social rank. On the whole, these
aristocrats were a decorous class of men, though narrow, bigoted,
reserved, and proud, devoted to pleasure, idle, extravagant, and callous
to the wrongs and miseries of the poor. They did not insult the people
by arrogance or contumely, like the old Roman nobles; but they were not
united to them by any other ties than such as a master would feel for
his slaves; and as slaves are obsequious to their masters, and sometimes
loyal, so the humbler classes (especially in the country) worshipped the
ground on which these magnates walked. "How courteous the nobles are!"
said a wealthy plebeian manufacturer to me once, at Manchester. "I was
to show my mill to Lord Ducie, and as my carriage drove up I was about
to mount the box with the coachman, but my lord most kindly told me
to jump in."

So much for the highest class of all in England, about the year 1815.
Suppose the attention of the traveller were now turned to the
legislative halls, in which public affairs were discussed, particularly
to the House of Commons, supposed to represent the nation. He would have
seen five or six hundred men, in plain attire, with their hats on,
listless and inattentive, except when one of their leaders was making a
telling speech against some measure proposed by the opposite party,--and
nearly all measures were party measures. Who were these favored
representatives? Nearly all of them were the sons or brothers or cousins
or political friends of the class to which I have just alluded, with
here and there a baronet or powerful county squire or eminent lawyer or
wealthy manufacturer or princely banker, but all with aristocratic
sympathies,--nearly all conservative, with a preponderance of Tories;
scarcely a man without independent means, indifferent to all questions
except such as affected party interests, and generally opposed to all
movements which had in view the welfare of the middle classes, to which
they could not be said to belong. They did not represent manufacturing
towns nor the shopkeepers, still less the people in their rugged
toils,--ignorant even when they could read and write. They represented
the great landed interests of the country for the most part, and
legislated for the interests of landlords and the gentry, the
Established Church and the aristocratic universities,--indeed, for the
wealthy and the great, not for the nation as a whole, except when great
public dangers were imminent.

At that time, however, the traveller would have heard the most
magnificent bursts of eloquence ever heard in Parliament,--speeches
which are immortal, classical, beautiful, and electrifying. On the front
benches was Canning, scarcely inferior to Pitt or Fox as an orator;
stately, sarcastic, witty, rhetorical, musical, as full of genius as an
egg is full of meat. There was Castlereagh,--not eloquent, but gifted,
the honored plenipotentiary and negotiator at the Congress of Vienna;
the friend of Metternich and the Czar Alexander; at that time perhaps
the most influential of the ministers of state, the incarnation of
aristocratic manners and ultra conservative principles. There was Peel,
just rising to fame and power; wealthy, proud, and aristocratic, as
conservative as Wellington himself, a Tory of the Tories. There were
Perceval, the future prime minister, great both as lawyer and statesman;
and Lord Palmerston, secretary of state for war. On the opposite benches
sat Lord John Russell, timidly maturing schemes for parliamentary
reform, lucid of thought, and in utterance clear as a bell. There, too,
sat Henry Brougham, not yet famous, but a giant in debate, and
overwhelming in his impetuous invectives. There were Romilly, the law
reformer, and Tierney, Plunkett, and Huskisson (all great orators), and
other eminent men whose names were on every tongue. The traveller,
entranced by the power and eloquence of these leaders, could scarcely
have failed to feel that the House of Commons was the most glorious
assembly on earth, the incarnation of the highest political wisdom, the
theatre and school of the noblest energies, worthy to instruct and guide
the English nation, or any other nation in the world.

From the legislature we follow our traveller to the Church,--the
Established Church of course, for non-conformist ministers, whatever
their learning and oratorical gifts, ranked scarcely above shopkeepers
and farmers, and were viewed by the aristocracy as leaders of sedition
rather than preachers of righteousness. The higher dignitaries of the
only church recognized by fashion and rank were peers of the realm,
presidents of colleges, dons in the universities, bishops with an income
of £10,000 a year or more, deans of cathedrals, prebendaries and
archdeacons, who wore a distinctive dress from the other clergy. I need
not say that they were the most aristocratic, cynical, bigoted, and
intolerant of all the upper ranks in the social scale, though it must be
confessed that they were generally men of learning and respectability,
more versed, however, in the classics of Greece and Rome than in Saint
Paul's epistles, and with greater sympathy for the rich than for the
poor, to whom the gospel was originally preached. The untitled clergy of
the Church in their rural homes,--for the country and not the city was
the paradise of rectors and curates, as of squires and men of
leisure,--were also for the most part classical scholars and gentlemen,
though some thought more of hunting and fishing than of the sermons they
were to preach on Sundays. Nothing to the eye of a cultivated traveller
was more fascinating than the homes of these country clergymen,
rectories and parsonages as they were called,--concealed amid
shrubberies, groves, and gardens, where flowers bloomed by the side of
the ivy and myrtle, ever green and flourishing. They were not large but
comfortable, abodes of plenty if not of luxury, freeholds which could
not be taken away, suggestive of rest and repose; for the favored
occupant of such a holding, supported by tithes, could neither be
ejected nor turned out of his "living," which he held for life, whether
he preached well or poorly, whether he visited his flock or buried
himself amid his books, whether he dined out with the squire or went up
to town for amusement, whether he played lawn tennis in the afternoon
with aristocratic ladies, or cards in the evening with gentlemen none
too sober. He had an average stipend of £200 a year, equal to £400 in
these times,--moderate, but sufficient for his own wants, if not for
those of his wife and daughters, who pined of course for a more exciting
life, and for richer dresses than he could afford to give them. His
sermons, it must be confessed, were not very instructive, suggestive, or
eloquent,--were, in fact, without point, delivered in a drawling
monotone; but then his hearers were not used to oratorical displays or
learned treatises in the pulpit, and were quite satisfied with the
glorious liturgy, if well intoned, and pious chants from surpliced
boys, if it happened to be a church rich and venerable in which they

Not less imposing and impressive than the Church would the traveller
have found the courts of law. The House of Lords was indeed, in a
general sense, a legislative assembly, where the peers deliberated on
the same subjects that occupied the attention of the Commons; but it was
also the supreme judicial tribunal of the realm,--a great court of
appeals of which only the law lords, ex-chancellors and judges, who were
peers, were the real members, presided over by the lord chancellor, who
also held court alone for the final decision of important equity
questions. The other courts of justice were held by twenty-four judges,
in different departments of the law, who presided in their scarlet robes
in Westminster Hall, and who also held assizes in the different counties
for the trial of criminals,--all men of great learning and personal
dignity, who were held in awe, since they were the representatives of
the king himself to decree judgments and punish offenders against the
law. Even those barristers who pleaded at these tribunals quailed before
the searching glance of these judges, who were the picked men of their
great profession, whom no sophistry could deceive and no rhetoric could
win,--men held in supreme honor for their exalted station as well as for
their force of character and acknowledged abilities. In no other
country were judges so well paid, so independent, so much feared, and so
deserving of honors and dignities. And in no other country were judges
armed with more power, nor were they more bland and courteous in their
manners and more just in their decisions. It was something to be a judge
in England.

Turning now from peers, legislators, judges, and bishops,--the men who
composed the governing class,--all equally aristocratic and exclusive,
let us with our traveller survey the middle class, who were neither rich
nor poor, living by trade, chiefly shopkeepers, with a sprinkling of
dissenting ministers, solicitors, surgeons, and manufacturers. Among
these, the observer is captivated by the richness and splendor of their
shops, over which were dark and dingy chambers used as residences by
their plebeian occupants, except such as were rented as lodgings to
visitors and men of means. These people of business were rarely
ambitious of social distinction, for that was beyond their reach; but
they lived comfortably, dined on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on
Sunday, with tolerable sherry or port to wash it down, went to church or
chapel regularly in silk or broadcloth, were good citizens, had a horror
of bailiffs, could converse on what was going on in trade and even in
politics to a limited extent, and generally advocated progressive and
liberal sentiments,--unless some of their relatives were employed in
some way or other in noble houses, in which case their loyalty to the
crown and admiration of rank were excessive and amusing. They read good
books when they read at all, educated their children, some of whom
became governesses, travelled a little in the summer, were hospitable to
their limited circle of friends, were kind and obliging, put on no airs,
and were on the whole useful and worthy people, if we can not call them
"respectable members of society." They were, perhaps, the happiest and
most contented of all the various classes, since they were virtuous,
frugal, industrious, and thought more of duties than they did of
pleasures. These were the people who were soon to discuss rights rather
than duties, and whom the reform movement was to turn into political

Such was the bright side of the picture which a favored traveller would
have seen at the close of the Napoleonic wars,--on the whole, one of
external prosperity and grandeur, compared with most Continental
countries; an envied civilization, the boast of liberty, for there was
no regal despotism. The monarch could send no one to jail, or exile him,
or cut off his head, except in accordance with law; and the laws could
deprive no one of personal liberty without sufficient cause, determined
by judicial tribunals.

And yet this splendid exterior was deceptive. The traveller saw only
the rich or favored or well-to-do classes; there were toiling and
suffering millions whom he did not see. Although the laws were made to
favor the agricultural interests, yet there was distress among
agricultural laborers; and the dearer the price of corn,--that is, the
worse the harvests,--the more the landlords were enriched, and the more
wretched were those who raised the crops. In times of scarcity, when
harvests were poor, the quartern loaf sold sometimes for two shillings,
when the laborer could earn on an average only six or seven shillings a
week. Think of a family compelled to live on seven shillings a week,
with what the wife and children could additionally earn! There was rent
to pay, and coals and clothing to buy, to say nothing of a proper and
varied food supply; yet all that the family could possibly earn would
not pay for bread alone. And the condition of the laboring classes in
the mines and the mills was still worse; for not half of them could get
work at all, even at a shilling a day. The disbanding of half a million
of soldiers, without any settled occupation, filled every village and
hamlet with vagrants and vagabonds demoralized by war. During the war
with France there had been a demand for every sort of manufactures; but
the peace cut off this demand, and the factories were either closed or
were running on half-time. Then there was the dreadful burden of
taxation, direct and indirect, to pay the interest of a national debt
swelled to the enormous amount of £800,000,000, and to meet the current
expenses of the government, which were excessive and frequently
unnecessary,--such as sinecures, pensions, and grants to the royal
family. This debt pressed upon all classes alike, and prevented the use
of all those luxuries which we now regard as necessities,--like sugar,
tea, coffee, and even meat. There were import duties, almost
prohibitory, on many articles which few could do without, and worst of
all, on corn and all cereals. Without these it was possible for the
laboring class to live, even when they earned only a shilling a day; but
when these were retained to swell the income of that upper class whose
glories and luxuries I have already mentioned, there was inevitable

To any kind of popular sorrow and misery, however, the government seemed
indifferent; and this was followed of course by discontent and crime,
riots and incendiary conflagrations, murders and highway robberies,--an
incipient pandemonium, disgusting to see and horrible to think of. At
the best, what dens of misery and filth and disease were the quarters of
the poor, in city and country alike, especially in the coal districts
and in manufacturing towns. And when these pallid, half-starved miners
and operatives, begrimed with smoke and dirt, issued from their
infernal hovels and gathered in crowds, threatening all sorts of
violence, and dispersed only at the point of the bayonet, there was
something to call out fear as well as compassion from those who lived
upon their toils.

At last, good men became aroused at the injustice and wretchedness which
filled every corner of the land, and sent up their petitions to
Parliament for reform,--not for the mere alleviation of miseries, but
for a reform in representation, so that men might be sent as legislators
who would take some interest in the condition of the poor and oppressed.
Yet even to these petitions the aristocratic Commons paid but little
heed. The sigh of the mourner was unheard, and the tear of anguish was
unnoticed by those who lived in their lordly palaces. What was desperate
suffering and agitation for relief they called agrarian discontent and
revolutionary excess, to be put down by the most vigorous measures the
government could devise. _O tempora! O mores!_ the Roman orator
exclaimed in view of social evils which would bear no comparison with
those that afflicted a large majority of the human beings who struggled
for a miserable existence in the most lauded country in Europe. In their
despair, well might they exclaim, "Who shall deliver us from the body of
this death?"

I often wonder that the people of England were as patient and orderly
as they were, under such aggravated misfortunes. In France the oppressed
would probably have arisen in a burst of frenzy and wrath, and perhaps
have unseated the monarch on his throne. But the English mobs erected no
barricades, and used no other weapons than groans and expostulations.
They did not demand rights, but bread; they were not agitators, but
sufferers. Promises of relief disarmed them, and they sadly returned to
their wretched homes to see no radical improvement in their condition.
Their only remedy was patience, and patience without much hope. Nothing
could really relieve them but returning prosperity, and that depended
more on events which could not be foreseen than on legislation itself.

Such was the condition, in general terms, of high and low, rich and
poor, in England in the year 1815, and I have now to show what occupied
the attention of the government for the next fifteen years, during the
reign of George IV. as regent and as king. But first let us take a brief
review of the men prominent in the government.

Lord Liverpool was the prime minister of England for fifteen years, from
1812 (succeeding to Perceval upon the latter's assassination) to 1827.
He was a man of moderate abilities, but honest and patriotic; this chief
merit was in the tact by which he kept together a cabinet of
conflicting political sentiments; but he lived in comparatively quiet
times, when everybody wanted rest and repose, and when he had only to
combat domestic evils. The lord chancellor, Lord Eldon, had been seated
on the woolsack from nearly the beginning of the century, and was the
"keeper of the king's conscience" for twenty-five years, enjoying his
great office for a longer period than any other lord chancellor in
English history. He was doubtless a very great lawyer and a man of
remarkable sagacity and insight, but the narrowest and most bigoted of
all the great men who controlled the destinies of the nation. He
absolutely abhorred any change whatever and any kind of reform. He
adhered to what was already established, and _because_ it was
established; therefore he was a good churchman and a most reliable Tory.

The most powerful man in the cabinet at this time, holding the second
office in the government, that of foreign secretary, was Lord
Castlereagh,--no very great scholar or orator or man of business, but an
inveterate Tory, who played into the hands of all the despots of Europe,
and who made captive more powerful minds than his own by the elegance of
his manners, the charm of his conversation, and the intensity of his
convictions. William Pitt never showed greater sagacity than when he
bought the services of this gifted aristocrat (for he was then a Whig),
and introduced him into Parliament. He was the most prominent minister
of the crown until he died, directing foreign affairs with ability, but
in the wrong direction,--the friend and ally of Metternich,
Chateaubriand, Hardenberg, and the monarchs whom they represented.

But foremost in genius among the great statesmen of the day was George
Canning, who, however, did not reach the summit of his ambition until
the latter part of the reign of George IV. But after the death of
Castlereagh in 1822, he was the leading spirit of the cabinet, holding
the great office of foreign secretary, second in rank and power only to
that of the premier. Although a Tory,--the follower and disciple of
Pitt,--it was Canning who gave the first great blow to the narrow and
selfish conservatism which marked the government of his day, and entered
the first wedge which was to split the Tory ranks and inaugurate reform.
For this he acquired the greatest popularity that any statesman in
England ever enjoyed, if we except Fox and Pitt, and at the same time
incurred the bitterest wrath which the Metternichs of the world have
ever cherished toward the benefactors of mankind.

Canning was born in London, in the year 1770, in comparatively humble
life,--his father being a dissipated and broken-down barrister, and his
mother compelled by poverty to go upon the stage. But he had a wealthy
relative who took the care of his education. In 1788 he entered Christ
Church College, where he won the prize for the best Latin poem that
Oxford had ever produced. After he had graduated with distinguished
honors, he entered as a law student at Lincoln's Inn; but before he wore
the gown of a barrister Pitt had sought him out, as he had Castlereagh,
having heard of his talents in debating societies. Pitt secured him a
seat in Parliament, and Canning made his first speech on the 31st of
January, 1794. The aid which he brought to the ministry secured his
rapid advancement. In a year after his maiden speech he was made
under-secretary of state for foreign affairs, at the age of twenty-five.
On the death of Pitt, in 1806, when the Whigs for a short period came
into power, Canning was the recognized leader of the opposition; and in
1807, when the Tories returned to power, he became foreign secretary in
the ministry of the Duke of Portland, of which Mr. Perceval was the
leading member. It was then that Canning seized the Danish fleet at
Copenhagen, giving as his excuse for this bold and high-handed measure
that Napoleon would have taken it if he had not. It was through his
influence and that of Lord Castlereagh that Sir Arthur Wellesley,
afterward the Duke of Wellington, was sent to Spain to conduct the
Peninsular War.

On the retirement of the Duke of Portland as head of the government in
1809, Mr. Perceval became minister,--an event soon followed by the
insanity of George III. and the entrance of Robert Peel into the House
of Commons. In 1812 Mr. Perceval was assassinated, and the long ministry
of Lord Liverpool began, supported by all the eloquence and influence of
Canning, between whom and his chief a close friendship had existed since
their college days. The foreign secretaryship was offered to Canning;
but he, being comparatively poor, preferred the Lisbon embassy, on the
large salary of £14,000. In 1814 he became president of the Board of
Control, and remained in that office until he was appointed
governor-general of India. On the death of Castlereagh (1822) by his own
hand, Canning resumed the post of foreign secretary, and from that time
was the master spirit of the government, leader of the House of Commons,
the most powerful orator of his day, and the most popular man in
England. He had now become more liberal, showing a sympathy with reform,
acknowledging the independence of the South American colonies, and
virtually breaking up the Holy Alliance by his disapprobation of the
policy of the Congress of Vienna, which aimed at the total overthrow of
liberty in Europe, and which (under the guidance of Metternich and with
the support of Castlereagh) had already given Norway to Sweden, the
duchy of Genoa to Sardinia, restored to the Pope his ancient
possessions, and made Italy what it was before the French Revolution.
The most mischievous thing which the Holy Alliance had in view was
interference in the internal affairs of all the Continental States,
under the guise of religion. England, under the leadership of
Castlereagh, would have upheld this foreign interference of Russia,
Prussia, and Austria; but Canning withdrew England from this
intervention,--a great service to his country and to civilization. In
fact, the great principle of his political life was non-intervention in
the internal affairs of other nations. Hence he refused to join the
great Powers in re-seating the king of Spain on his throne, from which
that monarch had been temporarily ejected by a popular insurrection. But
for him, the great Powers might have united with Spain to recover her
lost possessions in South America. To him the peace of the world at that
critical period was mainly owing. In one of his most famous speeches he
closed with the oft-quoted sentence, "I called the New World into
existence to redress the balance of the Old."

Canning, like Peel,--and like Gladstone in our own time,--grew more and
more liberal as he advanced in years, in experience, and in power,
although he never left the Tory ranks. His commercial policy was
identical with that of his friend Huskisson, which was that commerce
flourished best when wholly unfettered by restrictions. He held that
protection, in the abstract, was unsound and unjust; and thus he opened
the way for free-trade,--the great boon which Sir Robert Peel gave to
the nation under the teachings of Cobden. He also was in favor of
Catholic emancipation and the repeal of the Test Act, which the Duke of
Wellington was compelled against his will ultimately to give to
the nation.

At the head of all this array of brilliant statesmen stood the king, or
in this case the regent, who was a man of very different character from
most of the ministers who served him.

It was in January, 1811, that the Prince of Wales became regent in
consequence of the insanity of his father, George III.; it was during
the Peninsular War, when Wellington, then Sir Arthur Wellesley, was
wearing out the French in Spain. But the reign of this prince as regent
is barren of great political movements. There is scarcely anything to
record but riots and discontent among the lower classes, and the
incendiary speeches and writings of demagogues. Measures of relief were
proposed in Parliament, also for parliamentary reform and the removal of
Catholic disabilities; but they were all alike opposed by the Tory
government, and came to nothing. Four years after the beginning of the
regency saw the overthrow of Napoleon, and the nation was so wearied of
war and all great political excitement that it had sunk to inglorious
repose. It was the period of reaction, of ultra conservatism, and hatred
of progressive and revolutionary ideas, when such men as Cobbett and
Hunt (Henry) were persecuted, fined, and imprisoned for their ideas.
Cobbett, the most popular writer of the day, was forced to fly to
America. Government was utterly intolerant of all political agitation,
which was chiefly confined to men without social position.

But of all the magnates who were opposed to reform, the prince regent
was the most obstinate. He was wholly devoted to pleasure. His court at
the Carleton palace was famous for the assemblage of wits and beauties
and dandies, reminding us of the epicureanism which marked Versailles
during the reign of Louis XV. It was the most scandalous period in
England since the times of Charles II. The life of the regent was a
perpetual scandal, especially in his heartless treatment of women, and
the disgraceful revels in which he indulged.

The companions of the prince were mostly dissipated and ennuied
courtiers, as impersonated in that incarnation of dandyism who went by
the name of Beau Brummell,--a contemptible character, who yet, it seems,
was the leader of fashion, especially in dress, of which the prince
himself was inordinately fond. This boon companion of royalty required
two different artists to make his gloves, and he went home after the
opera to change his cravat for succeeding parties. His impertinence and
audacity exceeded anything ever recorded of men of fashion,--as when he
requested his royal master to ring the bell. Nothing is more pitiable
than his miserable end, deserted by all his friends, a helpless idiot in
a lunatic asylum, having exhausted all his means. Lord Yarmouth,
afterward the Marquis of Hertford, infamous for his debaucheries and
extravagance, was another of the prince's companions in folly and
drunkenness. So was Lord Fife, who expended £80,000 on a dancer; and a
host of others, who had, however, that kind of wit which would "set the
table on a roar,"--but all gamblers, drunkards, and sensualists, who
gloried in the ruin of those women whom they had made victims of their

But I pass by the revelries and follies of "the first gentleman" in the
realm, as he was called, to allude to one event which has historical
importance, and which occupied the attention of the whole country,--and
that was the persecution of his wife, who was also his cousin, Caroline
Amelia Elizabeth, daughter of the Duke of Brunswick. He drove her from
the nuptial bed, and from his palace. He sought also to get a divorce,
which failed by reason of the transcendent talents and eloquence of
Brougham and Denman, eminent lawyers whom she employed in her defence,
and which brought them out prominently before the eyes of the
nation,--for the great career of Brougham, especially, began with the
trial of Caroline of Brunswick, the unhappy woman whom the Prince of
Wales married to get relief from his pecuniary necessities, and whom he
insulted as soon as he saw her, although she was a princess of
considerable accomplishments, and as amiable as she was beneficent. The
only palliation of his infamous treatment of this woman was that he
never loved her, and was even disgusted with her. No sooner was the
marriage solemnized, than she was treated on every occasion with studied
contumely, and scarcely had she recovered from illness incident to the
birth of the Princess Charlotte, when the "first gentleman of the age"
was pleased to intimate that it suited his disposition that they should
hereafter live apart. Never allowed to be crowned as queen, driven from
the shelter of her husband's roof, surrounded with spies, accused of
crimes of which there was no proof, even excluded from the public
prayers, and finally forced into exile, she sank under her accumulated
wrongs, and was carried off by a fatal illness at the age of

On the death of the old king in 1820, the Prince of Wales became George
IV., after having been regent for nine years. As he was inflexibly
opposed to all reforms, no great measures had been carried through
Parliament except from urgent necessity and fear of revolution. But the
State was being prepared for reforms in the next reign. In 1820 the
agitation, which finally ended in the Reform Bill, set in with great
earnestness. Henry Brougham had become a great power in the House of
Commons, and poured out the vials of his wrath on the Tory government.
Lord John Russell busily employed himself in forging the weapons by
which he, more than any other man, afterward broke the power of the
Tories. The voice of Wilberforce was also heard in demanding the
abolition of negro slavery. Romilly was advocating a reform in criminal
law. Macaulay was making those brilliant speeches which would have
elevated him to the highest rank among debaters had he not cherished
other ambitions.

The only things which stand out as memorable and of political importance
in this reign were a change in the foreign policy of England, the
discontents and agitations of the people, the removal of Catholic
disabilities, and the repeal of the Test Acts.

On the first I shall not dwell, since I have already alluded to it as
the great work of Canning. As foreign minister he divorced England from
the Holy Alliance, and insisted on maintaining non-intervention in the
internal affairs of other nations, and a peace policy which raised his
country to the highest pinnacle of power she ever attained, and brought
about a development of wealth and industry entirely unprecedented. Had
he lived he would have carried out those reforms that later were the
glory of Lord John Russell and Sir Robert Peel, for he was emancipated
from the ideas which made the Tories obnoxious. His spirit was liberal
and progressive, and hence he incurred bitter hostilities. The
government, however, could not be carried on without him, and the king
was forced unwillingly to accept him as minister. His magnificent
services as foreign secretary had mollified the hostilities of George
IV., who became anxious to retain him in power at the head of the
foreign department, after the retirement of Lord Liverpool. But Canning
felt that the premiership was his due, and would accept nothing short of
it, and the king was forced to give it to him in spite of the howl of
the Tory leaders. He enjoyed that dignity, however, but two months,
being worn out with labors, and embittered by the hostilities of his
political enemies, who hounded him to death with the most cruel and
unrelenting hatred. His sensitive and proud nature could not stand
before such unjust attacks and savage calumnies. He rapidly sank, in the
prime of his life and in the height of his fame. Canning's death in 1827
was a marked event in the reign of George IV.; it filled England with
mourning, and never was grief for a departed statesman more sincere and
profound. He was buried with great pomp in Westminster Abbey. The
sculptor Chantry was intrusted with the execution of his statue,--a
memorial which he did not need, for his fame is imperishable. The day
after the funeral his wife was made a peeress, an annuity was granted to
his sons, and every honor that it was possible for a grateful nation to
bestow was lavished on his memory.

Canning left only £20,000,--a less sum than he had received from his
wife upon his marriage. His domestic life was singularly happy. He was
also happy in the brilliant promises of his sons, one of whom became
governor-general of India, and was created a peer for his services. His
only daughter married the Marquis of Clanricarde. His children thus
entered the ranks of the nobility,--a distinction which he himself did
not covet. It was his chief ambition to rule the nation through the
House of Commons.

Some authorities have regarded Canning as the greatest of English
parliamentary orators; but his speeches to me are disappointing,
although elaborate, argumentative, logical, and full of fancy and wit.
They were too rhetorical to suit the taste of Lord Brougham. Rhetorical
exhibitions, however brilliant, are not those which posterity most
highly value, and lose their charm when the occasions which produced
them have passed away. Canning's presence was commanding and dignified,
his articulation delicate and precise, his voice clear and musical;
while the curl of his lip and the glance of his eye would silence almost
any antagonist. In cabinet meetings he was habitually silent, having
already made up his mind. He could not gracefully bear contradiction,
and made many enemies by his pride and sarcasm. In private life he was
courteous and gentlemanly, fond of society, but fonder of domestic life,
pure in his moral character, devoted to his family,--especially to his
mother, whom he treated with extraordinary deference and affection.

The next subject of historical importance in the reign of George IV. was
the perpetual agitation among the people growing out of their misery and
discontent. There were no great insurrections to overturn the throne, as
in Spain and Italy and France; but there was a fierce demand for the
removal of evils which were intolerable; and this was manifested in
monster petitions to Parliament, in incendiary speeches like those made
by "Orator Hunt" and other agitators, in such political tracts as
Cobbett wrote and circulated in every corner of the land, in occasional
uprisings among agricultural laborers and factory operatives, in angry
mobs destroying private property,--all impelled by hunger and despair.
To these discontents and angry uprisings the government was haughty and
cold, looking upon them as revolutionary and dangerous, and putting them
down by sheriffs and soldiers, by coercion bills and the suspension
of the Act of _habeas corpus_. Some speeches were made in
Parliament in favor of education, and some efforts in behalf of law
reforms,--especially the removal of the death penalty for small
offences, more than two hundred of which were punishable with death.
Numerous were the instances where men and boys were condemned to the
gallows for stealing a coat or shooting a hare; but the sentences of
judges were often not enforced when unusually severe or unjust.
Moreover, large charities were voted for the poor, but without
materially relieving the general distress.

On the whole, however, the country increased in wealth and prosperity in
consequence of the long and uninterrupted peace; and the only great
drawback was the mercantile crisis of 1825, resulting from the mania of
speculation, and followed by the contraction of the currency,--the
effect of which was the failure of banks and the ruin of thousands who
had calculated on being suddenly enriched. Alison estimates the
shrinkage of property in Great Britain alone as at least £100,000,000.
Men worth £100,000 could not at one time raise £100. The banks were
utterly drained of gold and silver. Nothing prevented universal
bankruptcy but the issue of small bills by the Bank of England. There
was a lull of political excitement after the trial of Queen Caroline,
and Parliament confined itself chiefly to legal, economical, and
commercial questions; although occasionally there were grand debates on
the foreign policy, on Catholic emancipation, and on the
disfranchisement of corrupt boroughs. Ireland obtained considerable
parliamentary attention, owing to the failure of the potato crop and its
attendant agricultural distress, which produced a state bordering on
rebellion, and to the formation of the Catholic Association.

But the great event in the political history of England during the reign
of George IV. was unquestionably the removal of Catholic
disabilities,--ranking next in importance and interest with the Reform
Bill and the repeal of the Corn Laws. Catholic disability had existed
ever since the reign of Elizabeth, and was the standing injustice under
which Ireland labored. Catholic peers were not admitted to the House of
Lords, nor Catholics to a seat in the House of Commons,--which was a
condition of extremely unequal representation. In reality, only the
Protestants were represented in Parliament, and they composed only about
one tenth of the whole population.

In addition to this injustice, the Irish, who were mostly Roman
Catholics, were ground down by such oppressive laws that they were
really serfs to those landlords who owned the soil on which they toiled
for a mere pittance,--about fourpence a day,--resulting in a general
poverty such as has never before been seen in any European country, with
its attendant misery and crime. The miserable Irish peasantry lived in
mud huts or cabins, covered partially with thatch, but not enough to
keep out the rain. No furniture and no comforts were to be seen in these
huts. There were no chairs or tables, only a sort of dresser for laying
a plate upon; no cooking utensils but a cast-metal pot to boil
potatoes,--almost the only food. There were no bedsteads, and but few
blankets. The people slept in their clothes, the whole family generally
in one room,--the only room in the cabin. For fuel they burned peat. In
order to pay their rent, they sold their pigs. Beggars infested every
road and filled every village. No one was certain of employment, even at
twopence a day. Everybody was controlled by the priests, whose power
rested on their ability to stimulate religious fears, and who were
supported by such contributions as they were able to extort from the
superstitious and ignorant people,--by nature brave and generous and
joyous, but improvident and reckless. It was the wonder of O'Connell how
they could remain cheerful amid such privations and such wrongs, with
the government seemingly indifferent, with none to pity and few to help.
Nor could they vote for the candidates for any office whatever unless
they had freeholds, or life-rent possessions, for which they paid a rent
of forty shillings. The landlords of this wretched tenantry, unable to
face the misery they saw and which they could not relieve, or fearful of
assassination, left the country to spend their incomes in the great
cities of Europe, not being united with their people by any ties, social
or religious.

What wonder that such a wretched people, urged by the priests, should
form associations for their own relief, especially when famine pressed
and landlords exacted the uttermost farthing,--when the crimes to which
they were impelled by starvation were punished with the most inexorable
severity by Protestant magistrates in whose appointment they had
no hand!

The result was the rise of the Catholic Association, the declared object
of which was to forward petitions to Parliament, to support an
independent Press, to aid emigration to America,--all worthy, and
unobjectionable on the surface, but with the real intent (as affirmed by
the Tories and believed by a large majority of the nation) of securing
the control of elections, of bringing about the repeal of the Union with
England (which, enacted in 1801, had done away with the separate Irish
parliament), the resumption of the Church property by the Catholic
clergy, and the restoration of the Catholic faith as the dominant
religion of the land. Such an Association, embracing most of the Roman
Catholic population, was regarded with great alarm by the government;
and they determined to put it down as seditious and dangerous, against
the expostulation of such men as Brougham, Mackintosh, and Sir Henry
Parnell. Then arose the great figure of O'Connell in the history of
Ireland (whose eloquence, tact, and ability have no parallel in that
country of orators), defending the cause of his countrymen with masterly
power, leading them like a second Moses according to his will,--in fact,
uniting them in a movement which it was hopeless to oppose except with
an army bent on the depopulation of the country; so that George IV. is
reported to have said, with considerable bitterness, "Canning is king of
England, O'Connell is king of Ireland, and I am Dean of Windsor."

Such, however, was the hostility of Parliament to the Irish Catholics
that a bill was carried by a great majority in both Houses to suppress
the Association, supported powerfully by the Duke of York as well as by
the ministers of the crown, even by Canning himself and Sir Robert Peel.

Then followed renewed disturbances, riots, and murders; for the
condition of the Roman Catholics in Ireland was desperate as well as
gloomy. The Association was dissolved, for O'Connell would do nothing
unlawful; but a new one took its place, which preached peace and unity,
but which meant the repeal of the Union,--the grand object that from
first to last O'Connell had at heart. Of course, this scheme was utterly
impracticable without a revolution that would shake England to its
centre; but it was followed by an immense emigration to America,--so
great that the population of Ireland declined from eight and a half to
four and a half millions. The Irish Catholics, however, were
comparatively quiet during the administration of Mr. Canning, whose
liberal tendencies had given them hope; but on his death they became
more restive. The coalition ministry under Lord Goderich was much
embarrassed how to act, or was too feeble to act with vigor,--not for
want of individual abilities, but by reason of dissensions among the
ministers. It lasted only a short time, and was succeeded by that of the
Duke of Wellington, with Sir Robert Peel for his lieutenant; both of
whom had shown an intense prejudice and dislike of the Irish Catholics,
and had voted uniformly for their repression. On the return of the
Tories to power, the Irish disturbances were renewed and increased.
Hitherto the landlords had directed the votes of their tenantry,--the
forty-shilling freeholders; but now the elections were determined by the
direction of the Catholic Association, which was controlled by the
priests, and by O'Connell and his associates. In addition, O'Connell
himself was elected to represent in the English Parliament the County of
Clare, against the whole weight of the government,--which was a bitter
pill for the Tories to swallow, especially as the great agitator
declared his intention to take his seat without submitting to the
customary oath. It was in reality a defiance of the government, backed
by the whole Irish nation. The Catholics became so threatening, they
came together so often and in such enormous masses, that the nation was
thoroughly alarmed. The king and a majority of his ministers urged the
most violent coercive measures, even to the suspension of
_habeas corpus_.

O'Connell was not admitted to Parliament; but his case precipitated an
intense turmoil, which settled the question forever; for then the great
general who had defeated Napoleon, and was the idol of the nation,
seeing the difficulties of coercion as no other statesman did, and
influenced by Sir Robert Peel (for whom he had unbounded respect), made
one of his masterly retreats, by which he averted revolution and
bloodshed. Wellington hated the Catholics, and was a most loyal member
of the Church of England; moreover, he was a Tory and an
ultra-conservative. But at last even his eyes were opened, not to the
injustices and wrongs which ground Ireland to the dust, but to the
necessity of conciliation. Like Peel, he could face facts; and when his
path was clear he would walk therein, whatever kings or ministers or
peers or people might think or say. He resolved to emancipate the
Catholics, as Sir Robert Peel afterward repealed the Corn Laws, against
all his antecedents and affiliations and sympathies, and more than all
against the declared wishes and resolutions of the monarch whom he
nominally served, yet whom he controlled by his iron will. Sir Robert
Peel, as obstinate a Tory as his chief, had been for some time convinced
of the necessity of conciliation, and at once resigned his seat as the
representative of Oxford University, which he felt he could no longer
honorably hold. In March, 1829, he brought forward his bill for the
removal of Catholic disabilities, which was read the third time, and
passed the Commons by a majority of 178. In the House of Peers, it was
carried by a majority of 104,--so great was the influence of Wellington
and Peel, so impressed at last were both Houses of the necessity for
the measure.

The difficulty now was to obtain the signature of the king, although he
had promised it as the probable alternative of revolution,--a great
State necessity, which his ministers had made him at last perceive, but
to which he reluctantly yielded. He was somewhat in the position of Pope
Clement XIV. when obliged, against his will and against the interests of
the Catholic Church, to sign the bull for the revocation of the charter
of the Jesuits. _Compulsus feci! compulsus feci!_ he exclaimed, with
mental agony. George IV. could have said the same. He procrastinated; he
lay all day in bed to avoid seeing his ministers; he talked of his
feelings; he threatened to abdicate, and go to Hanover; he would not
violate his conscience; he would be faithful to the traditions of his
house and the memory of his father,--and so on, until the patience of
Wellington and Peel was exhausted, and they told him he must sign the
bill at once, or they would immediately resign. "The king could no
longer wriggle off the hook," and surrendered. O'Connell was instantly
re-elected, and took his seat in Parliament,--a position which he
occupied for the rest of his life. George IV. was the last of the
monarchs of England who attempted to rule by personal government.
Henceforward the monarch's duty was simply to register the decrees of

But the admission of Catholics to Parliament did not heal the disorders
of Ireland as had been hoped. The Irish clamored for still greater
privileges. The cry for repeal of the Union succeeded that for the
removal of disabilities. Their poverty and miseries remained, while
their monster meetings continued to shake the kingdom to its centre.

The historical importance of Catholic emancipation consists in
this,--that it was the first great victory over the aristocratic powers
of the empire, and was an entrance wedge to the reform of Parliament
effected in the next reign. It threw forty or fifty members of the House
of Commons into the ranks of opposition to the Tory side, which with a
few brief intervals had governed England for a century. "The reform
movement was the child of Catholic agitation; the anti-corn law league
that of the triumph of reform." Brougham was the legitimate successor of
O'Connell. A foresight of such consequences was the real cause of the
movement being so bitterly opposed by the king and Lord Eldon. It was
not jealousy of the Catholics that moved them,--that was only the
pretence; it was really fear of the blow aimed against Toryism. They had
sagacity enough to see the inevitable result,--the advancing power of
the Liberal party, and the impossibility of longer ruling the country
without ceding privileges to the people. The repeal of the Test Act by
the previous administration, which removed the disabilities of
Dissenters from the Established Church to hold public office, was only
another act in the great drama of national development which was to give
ascendency to the middle class in matters of legislation, rather than to
the favored classes who had hitherto ruled. The movement was political
and not religious, whatever might be the hatred of the Tories for both
Catholics and Dissenters.

Nothing further of political importance marked the administration of the
Duke of Wellington except the increasing agitations for parliamentary
reform, which will be hereafter considered. Wellington was elevated to
his exalted post from the influence and popularity which followed his
military achievements. His fame, like that of General Grant, rests on
his military and not on his civil services, although his great
experience as a diplomatist and general made him far from contemptible
as a statesman. It was his misfortune to hold the helm of state in
stormy times, amid riots, agitations, insurrections, and party
dissensions, amid famines and public distresses of every kind; when
England was going through a transition state, when there was every shade
of opinion among political leaders. The duke, like Canning before him,
was isolated, and felt the need of a friend. He was not like a
commander-in-chief surrounded with a band of devoted generals, but with
ministers held together by a rope of sand. He had no real colleagues in
his cabinet, and no party in the House of Commons. The chief troubles in
England were financial rather than political, and he had no head for
finance like Huskisson and Sir Robert Peel.

In the midst of the difficulties with which the great duke had to
contend, George IV. died, June 26, 1830. He was in his latter days a
great sufferer from the gout and other diseases brought about by the
debaucheries of his earlier days; and he was a disenchanted man, living
long enough to see how frail were the supports on which he had
leaned,--friends, pleasures, and exalted rank.

All authorities are agreed as to the character of George IV., though
some in their immeasurable contempt have painted him worse than he
really was, like Brougham and Thackeray. All are agreed that he was
selfish and pleasure-seeking in his ordinary life, though courteous in
his manners and kind to those who shared his revels. As dissipated
habits obtained the mastery over him, and the unbounded flattery of his
boon companions stultified his conscience, he became heartless and even
brutal. He was proud and overbearing; was fond of pomp and ceremony, and
ultra-conservative in all his political views. He was outrageously
extravagant and reckless in his expenditures, and then appealed to
Parliament to pay his debts. He liked to visit his favorites, and
received visits from them in return so long as his physical forces
remained; but when these were hopelessly undermined by self-indulgence,
he buried himself in his palaces, and rarely appeared in public. Indeed,
in his latter days he shunned the sight of the people altogether. His
character appears better in his letters than in the verdicts of
historians. Those written to his Chancellor Eldon, to the Duke of
Wellington, to Lord Liverpool, to Sir William Knighton, keeper of the
privy purse, and others, show great cordiality, frankness, and the utter
absence of the stiffness and pride incident to his high rank. They
abound in expressions of kindness and even affection, whether sincere or
not. They are all well written, and would do credit, from a literary
point of view, to any private person. His talents and conversation, his
wit and repartee, and his felicitous description of character are
undeniable. He is said to have had the talent of telling stories to
perfection. His powers of mimicry were remarkable, and he was fond of
singing songs at his banquets. Had he been simply a private person or an
ordinary nobleman, he would have been far from contemptible.

The latter days of George IV. were sad, and for a king he was left
comparatively alone. He had neither wife nor children to lean upon and
to cheer him,--only mercenary courtiers and physicians. His tastes were
refined, his manners affable, and his conversation interesting. He was
intelligent, sagacious, and well-informed; yet no English monarch was
ever more cordially despised. The governing principle of his life was a
love of ease and pleasure, which made him negligent of his duties; and
there never yet lived a man, however exalted his sphere, who had not
imperative duties to perform, without the performance of which his life
was a failure and a reproach. So it was with this unhappy king, who died
like Louis XV. without any one to mourn his departure; and a new king
reigned in his stead.

And yet the reign of the fourth George as king was marked by returning
national prosperity,--owing not to the efforts of statesmen and
legislators, but to the marvellous spread of commerce and manufactures,
resulting from the establishment of peace, thus opening a market for
British goods in all parts of the world.

This period of the fourth George's rule, as regent and king, was also
remarkable for the appearance of men of genius in all departments of
human thought and action. As the lights of a former generation sank
beneath the horizon, other stars arose of increased brilliancy. In
poetry alone, Byron, Scott, Rogers, Coleridge, Southey, Wordsworth,
Moore, Campbell, Keats, would have made the age illustrious,--a
constellation such as has not since appeared. In fiction, Sir Walter
Scott introduced a new era, soon followed by Bulwer, Dickens, and
Thackeray. In the law there were Brougham, Eldon, Lyndhurst,
Ellenborough, Denman, Plunkett, Erskine, Wetherell,--all men of the
first class. In medicine and surgery were Abernethy, Cooper, Holland. In
the Church were Parr, Clarke, Hampden, Scott, Sumner, Hall, Arnold,
Irving, Chalmers, Heber, Whately, Newman. Sir Humphry Davy was
presiding at the Royal Society, and Sir Thomas Lawrence at the Royal
Academy. Herschel was discovering planets. Bell was lecturing at the new
London University, and Dugald Stewart in the University of Edinburgh.
Captain Ross was exploring the Northern Seas, and Lander the wilds of
Africa. Lancaster was founding a new system of education; Bentham and
Ricardo were unravelling the tangled web of political economy; Hallam,
Lingard, Mitford, Mills, were writing history; Macaulay, Carlyle, Smith,
Lockhart, Jeffrey, Hazlitt, were giving a new stimulus to periodical
literature; while Miss Edgeworth, Jane Porter, Mrs. Hemans, were
entering the field of literature as critics, poets, and novelists,
instead of putting their inspired thoughts into letters, as bright women
did one hundred years before. Into everything there were found some to
cast their searching glances, creating an intellectual activity without
previous precedent, if we except the great theological discussions of
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Even shopkeepers began to read
and think, and in their dingy quarters were stirred to discuss their
rights; while William Cobbett aroused a still lower class to political
activity by his matchless style. All philanthropic, educational, and
religious movements received a wonderful stimulus; while improvements in
the use of steam, mechanical inventions, chemical developments and
scientific discoveries, were rapidly changing the whole material
condition of mankind.

In 1820, when the regent became George IV., a new era opened in English
history, most observable in those popular agitations which ushered in
reforms under his successor William IV. These it will be my object to
present in another volume.


Croly's Life of George IV.; Thackeray's Four Georges; Annual Register;
Life of the Duke of Wellington; Life of Canning; Life of Lord Liverpool;
Life of Lord Brougham; Miss Martineau's History of England; Life of
Mackintosh; Life of Sir Robert Peel; Alison's History of Europe; Life of
Lord Eldon; Life of O'Connell; Molesworth's History of England.



When Napoleon was sent to St. Helena, the European nations breathed more
freely, and it was the general expectation and desire that there would
be no more wars. The civilized world was weary of strife and
battlefields, and in the reaction which followed the general peace of
1815, the various States settled down into a state of dreamy repose. Not
only were they weary of war, but they hated the agitation of those ideas
which led to discontent and revolution. The policy of the governments of
England, France, Germany, and Russia was pacific and conservative. There
was a universal desire to recover wasted energies and develop national
resources. Visions of military glory passed away for a time with the
enjoyment of peace. Nations reflected on their follies, and resolved to
beat their swords into ploughshares.

Then began a period of philanthropy as well as of rest and reaction.
Societies were organized, especially in England, to spread the Bible in
all lands, to send missionaries to the heathen, and proclaim peace and
good-will to all mankind, A new era seemed to dawn upon the world,
marked by a desire to cultivate the arts, sciences, and literature; to
develop industries, and improve social conditions. War was seen to be
barbaric, demoralizing, and exhausting. Peace was hailed with an
enthusiasm scarcely less than that which for twenty years had created
military heroes. The Holy Alliance was not hypocritical. Although a
political compact made under a religious pretext, it was formed by
monarchs deeply impressed by the horrors of war, and by the necessity of
establishing a new basis for the happiness of mankind on the principles
of Christianity, when peace should be the law of nations; at the same
time it was formed no less to suppress those ideas which it was supposed
led logically to rebellions and revolutions, and to disturb the reign of
law, the security of established institutions, and the peaceful pursuit
of ordinary avocations. This was the view taken by the Czar Alexander,
by Frederick William of Prussia, by Francis I. of Austria, by Louis
XVIII. of France, as well as by leading statesmen like Talleyrand,
Nesselrode, Hardenberg, Chateaubriand, Metternich, Wellington, and

But these views were delusive. The world was simply weary of fighting;
it was not impressed with a sense of the wickedness, but only of the
inexpediency of war, except in case of great national dangers, or to
gain what is dearest to enlightened people,--personal liberty and
constitutional government.

Consequently, scarcely five years passed away after the fall of Napoleon
before Europe was again disturbed by revolutionary passions. There were
no international wars. On the whole, England, France, Russia, Prussia,
and Austria put aside ambitious designs of further aggrandizement, and
were disposed to keep peace with one another; and this desire lasted for
a whole generation. But there were other countries in which the flames
of insurrection broke out. The Spanish colonies of South America were
impatient of the yoke of the mother country, and sought national
independence, which they gained after a severe struggle. The
disaffection in view of royal despotism reached Spain itself, and a
revolution in that country dethroned the Bourbon king, and was
suppressed only by the aid of France. All Italy was convulsed by
revolutionary ideas and passions growing out of the cruel despotism
exercised by the various potentates who ruled that fair but unhappy
country. Insurrections were violent in Naples, in Piedmont, and in the
papal territories, and were put down not by Italian princes, but by
Austrian bayonets. As it is my design to present these in another
lecture, I simply allude to them in this connection.

But the most important revolution which occurred at this period, taking
into view its ultimate consequences and its various complications, was
that of Greece. It was different from those of Spain and Italy in this
respect, that it was a struggle not to gain political rights from
oppressive rulers, but to secure national independence. As such, it is
invested with great interest. Moreover, it was glorious, since it was
ultimately successful, after a dreadful contest with Turkey for seven
years, during which half of the population was swept away. Greece
probably would have succumbed to a powerful empire but for the aid
tardily rendered her by foreign Powers,--united in this instance, not to
suppress rebellion, but to rescue a noble and gallant people from a
cruel despotism.

Had the armed intervention of Russia, England, and France taken place at
an earlier period, much suffering and bloodshed might have been averted.
But Russia was fettered by the Holy Alliance to suppress all
insurrection and attempts at constitutional liberty wherever they might
take place, and could not, consistently with the promises given to
Austria and Prussia, join in an armed intervention, even in a matter
dear to the heart of Alexander, whose religion was that of Greece. The
Czar was placed in an awkward position. If he gave assistance to the
Greeks, whose religious faith was the same as his own and whose foe was
also the traditionary enemy of Russia, he would violate his promises,
which he always held sacred, and give umbrage to Austria. The intolerant
hatred of Alexander for all insurrections whatever induced him to stand
aloof from a contest which jeoparded the stability of thrones, and with
which in a political view, as an absolute sovereign, he had no sympathy.
On the other hand, if Alexander remained neutral, his faith would be
trodden under foot, and that by a power which he detested both
politically and religiously,--a power, too, with which Russia had often
been at war. If Turkey triumphed in the contest, rebels against a
long-constituted authority might indeed be put down; but a hostile power
would be strengthened, dangerous to all schemes of Russian
aggrandizement. Consequently Alexander was undecided in his policy; yet
his indecision tore his mind with anguish, and probably shortened his
days. He was, on the whole, a good man; but he was a despot, and did not
really know what to do. England and France, again, were weakened by the
long wars of Napoleon, and wanted repose. Their sympathies were with the
Greeks; but they shielded themselves behind the principles of
non-intervention, which were the public law of Europe.

So the poor Greeks were left for six years to struggle alone and unaided
against the whole force of the Turkish empire before relief came, when
they were on the verge of annihilation. It was the struggle of a little
country about half the size of Scotland against an empire four times as
large as Great Britain and France combined; of a population less than a
million against twenty-five millions. It was more than this: it was, in
many important respects, a war between Asia and Europe, kindred in
spirit with the old Crusades. It was a war of races and religions,
rather than of political principles; and hence it was marked by inhuman
atrocities on both sides, reminding us of the old wars between Jews and
Syrians. It was a tragedy at which the whole civilized world gazed with
blended interest and horror. It was infinitely more fierce than any
contest which has taken place in Europe for three hundred years. To the
Greeks themselves it was, after the first successes, the most
discouraging contest that I know of in human history; and yet it had all
those elements of heroism which marked the insurrection of the
Hollanders under William the Silent against the combined forces of
Austria and Spain. It was grand in its ideas, like our own Revolutionary
War; and the liberty which was finally gained was purchased by greater
sacrifices than any recorded in any war, either ancient or modern. The
war of Italian independence was a mere holiday demonstration in
comparison with it. Even the Polish wars against Russia were nothing to
it, in the sufferings which were endured and the gallant feats which
were performed.

But as Greece was a small and distant country, its memorable contest was
not invested with the interest felt for battles on a larger scale, and
which more directly affected the interests of other nations. It was not
till its complications involved Turkey and Russia in war, and affected
the whole "Eastern Question," that its historical importance was seen.
It was perhaps only the beginning of a series of wars which may drive
the Ottoman Turks out of Europe, and make Constantinople a great prize
for future conquerors.

That is unquestionably what Russia wants and covets to-day, and what the
other great Powers are determined she shall not have. Possibly Greece
may yet be the renewed seat of a Greek empire, under the protection of
the Western nations, as a barrier to Russian encroachments around the
Black Sea. There is sympathy for the Greeks; none for the Turks.
England, France, and Austria can form no lasting alliance with
Mohammedans, who may be driven back into Asia,--not by Russians, but by
a coalition of the Latin and Gothic races.

It is useless, however, to speculate on the future wars of the world. We
only know that offences must needs come so long as nations and rulers
are governed more by interests and passions than by reason or
philanthropy. When will passions and interests cease to be dominant or
disturbing forces? To these most of the wars which history records are
to be traced. And yet, whatever may be the origin or character
of wars, those who stimulate or engage in them find plausible
excuses,--necessity, patriotism, expediency, self-defence, even religion
and liberty. So long then as men are blinded by their passions and
interests, and palliate or justify their wars by either truth or
sophistry, there is but little hope that they will cease, even with the
advance of civilization. When has there been a long period unmarked by
war? When have wars been more destructive and terrible than within the
memory of this generation? It would indeed seem that when nations shall
learn that their real interests are not antagonistic, that they cannot
afford to go to war with one another, peace would then prevail as a
policy not less than as a principle. This is the hopeful view to take;
but unfortunately it is not the lesson taught by history, nor by that
philosophy which has been generally accepted by Christendom for eighteen
hundred years,--which is that men will not be governed by the loftiest
principles until the religion of Jesus shall have conquered and changed
the heart of the world, or at least of those who rule the world.

The chapter I am about to present is one of war,--cruel, merciless,
relentless war; therefore repulsive, and only interesting from the
magnitude of the issues, fought out, indeed, on a narrow strip of
territory. What matter, whether the battlefield is large or small? There
was as much heroism in the struggles of the Dutch republic as in the
wars of Napoleon; as much in our warfare for independence as in the
suppression of the Southern rebellion; as much among Cromwell's soldiers
as in the Crimean war; as much at Thermopylae as at Plataea. It is the
greatness of a cause which gives to war its only justification. A cause
is sacred from the dignity of its principles. Men are nothing;
principles are everything. Men must die. It is of comparatively little
moment whether they fall like autumn leaves or perish in a storm,--they
are alike forgotten; but their ideas and virtues are imperishable,
--eternal lessons for successive generations. History is a record not
merely of human sufferings,--these are inevitable,--but also of the
stepping-stones of progress, which indicate both the permanent welfare
of men and the Divine hand which mysteriously but really guides
and governs.

When the Greek revolution broke out, in 1820, there were about seven
hundred thousand people inhabiting a little over twenty-one thousand
square miles of territory, with a revenue of about fifteen millions of
dollars,--large for such a country of mountains and valleys. But the
soil is fertile and the climate propitious, favorable for grapes,
olives, and maize. It is a country easily defended, with its steep
mountains, its deep ravines, and rugged cliffs, and when as at that time
roads were almost impassable for carriages and artillery. Its people
have always been celebrated for bravery, industry, and frugality (like
the Swiss), but prone to jealousies and party feuds. It had in 1820 no
central government, no great capital, and no regular army. It owed
allegiance to the Sultan at Constantinople, the Turks having conquered
Greece soon after that city was taken by them in 1453.

Amid all the severities of Turkish rule for four centuries the Greeks
maintained their religion, their language, and distinctive manners. In
some places they were highly prosperous from commerce, which they
engrossed along the whole coast of the Levant and among the islands of
the Archipelago. They had six hundred vessels, bearing six thousand
guns, and manned by eighteen thousand seamen. In their beautiful

     "Where burning Sappho loved and sung,"--

abodes of industry and freedom, the Turkish pashas never set their foot,
satisfied with the tribute which was punctually paid to the Sultan.
Moreover, these islands were nurseries of seamen for the Turkish navy;
and as these seamen were indispensable to the Sultan, the country that
produced them was kindly treated. The Turks were indifferent to
commerce, and allowed the Greek merchants to get rich, provided they
paid their tribute. The Turks cared only for war and pleasure, and spent
their time in alternate excitement and lazy repose. They disdained
labor, which they bought with tribute-money or secured from slaves taken
in war. Like the Romans, they were warriors and conquerors, but became
enervated by luxury. They were hard masters, but their conquered
subjects throve by commerce and industry.

The Greeks, as to character, were not religious like the Turks, but
quicker witted. What religion they had was made up of the ceremonies and
pomps of a corrupted Christianity, but kept alive by traditions. Their
patriarch was a great personage,--practically appointed, however, by the
Sultan, and resident in Constantinople. Their clergy were married, and
were more humane and liberal than the Roman Catholic priests of Italy,
and about on a par with them in morals and influence. The Greeks were
always inquisitive and fond of knowledge, but their love of liberty has
been one of their strongest peculiarities, kept alive amid all the
oppressions to which they have been subjected. Nevertheless, unarmed, at
least on the mainland, and without fortresses, few in numbers, with
overwhelming foes, they had not, up to 1820, dared to risk a general
rebellion, for fear that they should be mercilessly slaughtered. So long
as they remained at peace their condition as a conquered people was not
so bad as it might have been, although the oppressions of tax-gatherers
and the brutality of Turkish officials had been growing more and more
intolerable. In 1770 and 1790 there had been local and unsuccessful
attempts at revolt, but nothing of importance.

Amid the political agitations which threw Spain and Italy into
revolution, however, the spirit of liberty revived among the hardy Greek
mountaineers of the mainland. Secret societies were formed, with a view
of shaking off the Turkish yoke. The aspiring and the discontented
naturally cast their eyes to Russia for aid, since there was a religious
bond between the Russians and the Greeks, and since the Russians and
Turks were mortal enemies, and since, moreover, they were encouraged to
hope for such aid by a great Russian nobleman, by birth a Greek, who was
private secretary and minister, as well as an intimate, of the Emperor
Alexander,--Count Capo d'Istrias. They were also exasperated by the
cession of Parga (a town on the mainland opposite the Ionian Islands) to
the Turks, by the treaty of 1815, which the allies carelessly

The flame of insurrection in 1820 did not, however, first break out in
the territory of Greece, but in Wallachia,--a Turkish province on the
north of the Danube, governed by a Greek hospodar, the capital of which
was Bucharest. This was followed by the revolt of another Turkish
province, Moldavia, bordering on Russia, from which it was separated by
the River Pruth. At Jassy, the capital, Prince Ypsilanti, a
distinguished Russian general descended from an illustrious Greek
family, raised the standard of insurrection, to which flocked the whole
Christian population of the province, who fell upon the Turkish soldiers
and massacred them. Ypsilanti had twenty thousand soldiers under his
command, against which the six hundred armed Turks could make but feeble
resistance. This apparently successful revolt produced an immense
enthusiasm throughout Greece, the inhabitants of which now eagerly took
up arms. The Greeks had been assured of the aid of Russia by Ypsilanti,
who counted without his host, however; for the Czar, then at the
Congress of Laibach, convened to put down revolutionary ideas, was
extremely angry at the conduct of Ypsilanti, and, against all
expectation, stood aloof. This was the time for him to attack Turkey,
then weakened and dilapidated; but he was tired of war. Among the Greeks
the wildest enthusiasm prevailed, especially throughout the Morea, the
ancient Peloponnesus. The peasants everywhere gathered around their
chieftains, and drove away the Turkish soldiers, inflicting on them the
grossest barbarities. In a few days the Turks possessed nothing in the
Morea but their fortresses. The Turkish garrison of Athens shut itself
up in the Acropolis. Most of the islands of the Archipelago hoisted the
standard of the Cross; and the strongest of them armed and sent out
cruisers to prey on the commerce of the enemy.

At Constantinople the news of the insurrection excited both
consternation and rage. Instant death to the Christians was the
universal cry. The Mussulmans seized the Greek patriarch, an old man of
eighty, while he was performing a religious service on Easter Sunday,
hanged him, and delivered his body to the Jews. The Sultan Mahmoud was
intensely exasperated, and ordered a levy of troops throughout his
empire to suppress the insurrection and to punish the Christians. The
atrocities which the Turks now inflicted have scarcely ever been
equalled in horror. The Christian churches were entered and sacked. At
Adrianople the Patriarch was beheaded, with eight other ecclesiastical
dignitaries. In ten days thousands of Christians in that city were
butchered, and their wives and daughters sold into slavery; while five
archbishops and three bishops were hanged in the streets, without trial.
There was scarcely a town in the empire where atrocities of the most
repulsive kind were not perpetrated on innocent and helpless people. In
Asia Minor the fanatical spirit raged with more ferocity than in
European Turkey. At Smyrna a general massacre of the Christians took
place under circumstances of peculiar atrocity, and fifteen thousand
were obliged to flee to the islands of the Archipelago to save their
lives. The Island of Cyprus, which once had a population of more than a
million, reduced at the breaking out of the insurrection to seventy
thousand, was nearly depopulated; the archbishop and five other bishops
were ruthlessly murdered. The whole island, one hundred and forty-six
miles long and sixty-three wide, was converted into a theatre of rapine,
violation, and bloodshed.

All now saw that no hope remained for Greece but in the most determined
resistance, which was nobly made. Six thousand men were soon in arms in
Thessaly. The mountaineers of Macedonia gathered into armed bands.
Thirty thousand rose in the peninsula of Cassandra and laid siege to
Salonica, a city of eighty thousand inhabitants, but were repulsed, and
fled to the mountains,--not, however, until thousands of Mussulmans were
slain. It had become "war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt." No
quarter was asked or given.

All Greece was now aroused to what was universally felt to be a death
struggle. The people eagerly responded to all patriotic influences, and
especially to war songs, some of which had been sung for more than two
thousand years. Certain of these were reproduced by the English poet
Byron, who, leaving his native land, entered heart and soul into the
desperate contest, and urged the Greeks to heroic action in memory of
their fathers.

     "Then manfully despising
        The Turkish tyrant's yoke,
      Let your country see you rising,
        And all her chains are broke.
      Brave shades of chiefs and sages,
        Behold the coming strife!
      Hellenes of past ages
        Oh, start again to life!
      At the sound of trumpet, breaking
        Your sleep, oh, join with me!
      And the seven-hilled city seeking,
        Fight, conquer, till we're free!"

Success now seemed to mark the uprising in Southern Greece; but in the
Danubian provinces, without the expected aid of Russia, it was far
otherwise. Prince Ypsilanti, who had taken an active part in the
insurrection, was dismissed from the Russian service and summoned back
to Russia; but he was not discouraged, and advanced to Bucharest with
ten thousand men. In the mean time ten thousand Turks entered the
Principalities and regained Moldavia. Ypsilanti fled before the
conquering enemy, abandoned Bucharest, and was totally defeated at
Dragaschan, with the loss of all his baggage and ammunition. Only
twenty-five of his hastily collected band escaped into Transylvania.

The intelligence of this disaster would have disheartened the Greeks but
for their naval successes among the islands of the Archipelago. Hydra,
Ipsara, and Samos equipped a flotilla which drove the Turkish fleet back
to the Dardanelles with immense losses. The Greeks having now the
command of the sea, made successful incursions, and hoisted their flag
at Missolonghi, which they easily fortified, it being situated in the
midst of lagoons, like Venice, which large ships could not penetrate.
But on the mainland they suffered severe reverses. Fifteen thousand
Greeks perished at Patras; but the patriots were successful at Valtezza,
where five thousand men repulsed fifteen thousand Turks, and drove them
to seek shelter in the strong fortress of Tripolitza. The Greeks
avoiding action in the open field, succeeded in taking Navarino and
Napoli di Malvasia, and rivalled their enemies in the atrocities they
committed. They lost Athens, whose citadel they had besieged, but
defeated the Turks in Thermopylae with great slaughter, which enabled
them to reoccupy Athens and blockade the Acropolis.

Then followed the siege of Tripolitza, in the centre of the Morea, the
seat of the Pasha, where the Turks were strongly intrenched. It was soon
taken by Kolokotronis, who commanded the Greeks. The fall of this
fortress was followed by the usual massacre, in which neither age nor
sex was spared. The Greek chiefs attempted to suppress the fury and
cruelty of their followers; but their efforts were in vain, and their
cause was stained with blood needlessly shed. Yet when one remembers the
centuries during which the Turks had been slaying the men, carrying off
the women to their harems, and making slaves of the children of the
Greeks, there is less to wonder at in such an access of blind fury and
vengeance. Nine thousand Turks were massacred, or slain in the attack.
The capture of this important fortress was of immense advantage to the
Greeks, who obtained great treasures and a large amount of ammunition,
with a valuable train of artillery.

But this great success was balanced by the failure of the Greeks, under
Ypsilanti, to capture Napoli di Romania,--another strong fortress,
defended by eight hundred guns, regarded as nearly impregnable,
situated, like Gibraltar, on a great rock eight hundred feet high, the
base of which was washed by the sea. It was a rash enterprise, but came
near being successful on account of the negligence of the garrison,
which numbered only fifteen hundred men. An escalade was attempted by
Mavrokordatos, one of the heroic chieftains of the Greeks; but it was
successfully repulsed, and the attacking generals with difficulty
escaped to Argos. The Greeks also met with a reverse on the peninsula of
Cassandra, near Salonica, which proved another massacre. Three thousand
perished from Turkish scimitars, and ten thousand women and children
were sold into slavery.

Thus ended the campaign of 1821, with mutual successes and losses,
disgraced on both sides by treachery and massacres; but the Greeks were
sufficiently emboldened to declare their independence, and form a
constitution under Prince Mavrokordatos as president,--a Chian by birth,
who had been physician to the Sultan. The seat of government was fixed
at Corinth, whose fortress had been recovered from the Turks. Seven
hundred thousand people threw down the gauntlet to twenty-five millions,
and defied their power.

The following year the Greek cause indirectly suffered a great blow by
the capture and death of Ali Pasha. This ambitious and daring rebel,
from humble origin, had arisen, by energy, ability, and fraud, to a high
command under the Sultan. He became pasha of Thessaly; and having
accumulated great riches by extortion and oppression, he bought the
pashalic of Jannina, in one of the richest and most beautiful valleys
of Epirus. In the centre of a lake he built an impregnable fortress,
collected a large body of Albanian troops, and soon became master of the
whole province. He preserved an apparent neutrality between the Sultan
and the rebellious Greeks, whom, however, he secretly encouraged. In his
castle at Jannina he meditated extensive conquests and independence of
the Porte. At one time he had eighty thousand half-disciplined Albanians
under his command. The Sultan, at last suspecting his treachery,
summoned him to Constantinople, and on his refusal to appear, denounced
him as a rebel, and sent Chourchid Pasha, one of his ablest generals,
with forty thousand troops, to subdue him. This was no easy task; and
for two years, before the Greek revolution broke out, Ali had maintained
his independence. At last he found himself besieged in his island
castle, impregnable against assault, but short of provisions. From this
retreat he was decoyed by consummate art to the mainland, to meet the
Turkish general, who promised an important command and a high rank in
the Turkish service. In the power now of the Turks, he was at once
beheaded, and his head sent to Constantinople.

Ali's death set free the large army of Chourchid Pasha to be employed
against the Greeks. Aided too by the enthusiasm which the suppression of
a dangerous enemy created, the Sultan made great preparations for a
renewed attack on the Morea. The contest now assumed greater
proportions, and the reconquest of Greece seemed extremely probable.
Sixty thousand Turks, under the command of the ablest general of the
Sultan, prepared to invade the Morea. In addition, a powerful squadron,
with eight thousand troops, sailed from the Dardanelles to reinforce the
Turkish fortresses and furnish provisions. In the meantime the
insurrection extended to Chios, or Scio, an opulent and fertile island
opposite Smyrna. It had eighty thousand inhabitants, who drove the Turks
to their citadel. The Sultan, enraged at the loss of this prosperous
island, sent thirty thousand fanatical Asiatic Mussulmans, and a fleet
consisting of six ships-of-the-line, ten frigates, and twelve brigs, to
reconquer what was regarded as the garden of the Archipelago. Resistance
was impossible against such an overwhelming array of forces, who
massacred nearly the whole of the male population, and sold their wives
and children as slaves. The consuls of France and Austria remonstrated
against this unheard-of cruelty; but nothing could appease the fanatical
fury of the conquerors. The massacre has no parallel in history since
the storming of Syracuse or the sack of Bagdad, Not only were the
inhabitants swept away, but the churches, the fine villas, the scattered
houses, and the villages were burned to the ground. When the slaughter
ceased, it was found that twenty-five thousand men had been slain, and
forty-five thousand women and children had become slaves to glut the
markets of Constantinople and Egypt, while fifteen thousand had fled to
the mainland.

This great calamity, however, was partially avenged by the sailors and
chiefs of Hydra, a neighboring island, under the command of one of the
greatest heroes that the war produced,--the intrepid and fearless
Andreas Miaulis, who with fire-ships destroyed nearly the whole of the
Turkish fleet. He was aided by Constantine Canaris and George Pepinis,
equal to him in courage, who succeeded in grappling the ships of the
enemy and setting them on fire. The Turks, with the remnant of their
magnificent fleet, took refuge in the harbor of Mitylene, while the
victors returned in triumph to Ipsara, and became the masters of the

The Greek operations were not so fortunate at first on the land as they
were on the sea. Mavrokordatos led in person an expedition into Epirus;
but he was no general, and failed disastrously. Even the brave Marco
Bozzaris was unable to cut his way to the relief of his countrymen, shut
up in their fortresses without an adequate supply of provisions; and all
that the Greeks could do in their great discouragement was to supply
Missolonghi with provisions and a few defenders, in anticipation of
a siege.

Epirus was now fallen, and nothing remained but a guerilla warfare.
Indeed, a striking feature of the whole revolution was "the absence of
any one great leader to concentrate the Greek forces and utilize the
splendid heroism of people and chieftains in permanent strategic
successes. The war was a succession of sporadic fights,--successes and
failures,--with small apparent mutual relations and effects." In
Macedonia, which had joined the insurrection, there were six thousand
brave mountaineers in arms; but they had to contend with fifteen
thousand regular troops under the command of the pashas of Salonica and
Thessaly, who forced the passes of the Vale of Tempe, and slew all
before them. Chourchid Pasha, having his rear provided for, with thirty
thousand men now passed through the defile of Thermopylae, appeared
before Corinth, took its citadel, advanced to Argos, dispersed the
government which had established itself there, and then pursued his
victorious career to Napoli di Romania, whose garrison he reinforced.
But the summer sun dried up the surrounding plains; there was nothing
left on which his cavalry could feed, or his men either, and he found
himself in a perilous position in the midst of victory.

The defeated Greeks now rallied under Ypsilanti and Kolokotronis, who
raised the siege of Corinth, and advanced against their foes with twelve
thousand men. The Turkish army, decimated and in fear of starvation,
resolved to cut their way through the guarded defiles, and succeeded
only by the loss of seven thousand men, with all their baggage and
military stores. The Morea was delivered from the oppressor, and the
Turkish army of thirty thousand was destroyed. Chourchid Pasha was soon
after seized with dysentery, brought about by fatigue and anxiety, to
which he succumbed; and the ablest general yet sent against the Greeks
failed disastrously, to the joy of the nation.

This great success was followed by others. The Acropolis of Athens
capitulated to the victorious Greeks, not without the usual atrocities,
and Attica, was recovered. But the mountains of Epirus were still filled
with Turkish troops, who advanced to lay siege to Missolonghi, defended
by a small garrison of four hundred men under Marco Bozzaris.
Mavrokordatos contrived to come to his relief, and the town soon had
three thousand defenders. Six times did the Turks attempt an assault
under Omar Vrione; but each time they were repulsed with great
slaughter, and compelled to retreat. The Turkish general lost three
quarters of his army, and with difficulty escaped himself in an open
boat. Altogether twelve thousand Turks perished in this disastrous
siege, with the loss of their artillery.

As the insurrection had now assumed formidable proportions in Cyprus and
Candia, a general appeal was made to Mussulmans of those islands, whose
numbers greatly exceeded the rebels. Twenty-five thousand men rallied
around the standards of the Moslems; but they were driven into their
fortresses, leaving both plains and mountains in the hands of
the Greeks.

These brave insurgents gained still another great success in this
memorable campaign. They carried the important fortress of Napoli di
Romania by escalade December 12, under Kolokotronis, with ten thousand
men, and the garrison, weakened by famine, capitulated. Four hundred
pieces of cannon, with large stores of ammunition, were the reward of
the victors. This conquest was the more remarkable since a large Turkish
fleet was sent to the relief of the fortress; but fearing the fire-ships
of the Greeks, the Turkish admiral sailed away without doing anything,
and cast anchor in the bay of Tenedos. Here he was attacked by the Greek
fire-ships, commanded by Canaris, and his fleet were obliged to cut
their cables and sail back to the Dardanelles, with the loss of their
largest ships. The conqueror was crowned with laurel at Ipsara by his
grateful countrymen, and the campaign of 1822 closed, leaving the
Greeks masters of the sea and of nearly the whole of their territory.

This campaign, considering the inequality of forces, is regarded by
Alison as one of the most glorious in the annals of war. A population of
seven hundred thousand souls had confronted and beaten the splendid
strength of the Ottoman Empire, with twenty-five millions of Mussulmans.
They had destroyed four-fifths of an army of fifty thousand men, and
made themselves masters of their principal strongholds. Twice had they
driven the Turkish fleets from the Aegean Sea with the loss of their
finest ships. But Greece, during the two years' warfare, had lost two
hundred thousand inhabitants,--not slain in battle, but massacred, and
killed by various inhumanities. It was clear that the country could not
much longer bear such a strain, unless the great Powers of Europe came
to its relief.

But no relief came. Canning, who ruled England, sympathized with the
Greeks, but would not depart from his policy of non-intervention,
fearing to embroil all Europe in war. It was the same with Louis XVIII.,
who feared the stability of his throne and dared not offend Austria, who
looked on the contest with indifference as a rebellious insurrection.
Prussia took the same ground; and even Russia stood aloof, unprepared
for war with the Turks, which would have immediately resulted if the
Czar had rendered assistance to the Greeks. Never was a nation in
greater danger of annihilation, in spite of its glorious resistance,
than was Greece at that time, for what could the remaining five hundred
thousand people do against twenty-five millions inspired with fanatical
hatred, but to sell their lives as dearly as they might? The contest was
like that of the Maccabees against the overwhelming armies of Syria.

As was to be expected, the disgraceful defeat of his fleets and armies
filled the Sultan with rage and renewed resolution. The whole power of
his empire was now called out to suppress the rebellion. He had long
meditated the destruction of that famous military corps in the Turkish
service known as the Janizaries, who were not Turks, but recruited from
the youth of the Greeks and other subject races captured in war. They
had all become Mussulmans, and were superb fighters; but their insults
and insolence, engendered by their traditional pride in the prestige of
the corps and the favor shown them by successive Sultans, filled Mahmoud
with wrath. The Sultan dissembled his resentment, however, in order to
bring all the soldiers he could command to the utter destruction of his
rebellious subjects. He deposed his grand vizier, and sent orders to all
the pashas in his dominions for a general levy of all Mussulmans
between fifteen and fifty, to assemble in Thessaly in May, 1823. He also
made the utmost efforts to repair the disasters of his fleet.

The Greeks, too, made corresponding exertions to maintain their armies.
Though weakened, they were not despondent. Their successes had filled
them with new hopes and energies. Their independence seemed to them to
be established. They even began to despise their foes. But as soon as
success seemed to have crowned their efforts they were subject to a new
danger. There were divisions, strifes, and jealousies between the
chieftains. Unity, so essential in war, was seriously jeoparded. Had
they remained united, and buried their resentments and jealousies in the
cause of patriotism, their independence possibly might have been
acknowledged. But in the absence of a central power the various generals
wished to fight on their own account, like guerilla chiefs. They would
not even submit to the National Assembly. The leaders were so full of
discords and personal ambition that they would not unite on anything.
Mavrokordatos and Ypsilanti were not on speaking terms. One is naturally
astonished at such suicidal courses, but he forgets what a powerful
passion jealousy is in the human soul. It was not absent from our own
war of Independence, in which at one time rival generals would have
supplanted, if possible, even Washington himself; indeed, it is present
everywhere, not in war alone, but among all influential and ambitious
people,--women of society, legislators, artists, physicians, singers,
actors, even clergymen, authors, and professors in colleges. This
unfortunate passion can be kept down only by the overpowering dominancy
of transcendent ability, which everybody must concede, when envy is
turned into admiration,--as in the case of Napoleon. There was no one
chieftain among the Greeks who called out universal homage any more than
there was in the camp of Agamemnon before the walls of Troy. There were
men of ability and patriotism and virtue; but, as already noted, no one
of them was great enough to exact universal and willing obedience. And
this fact was well understood in all the cabinets of Europe, as well as
in the camps of their enemies. The disunions and dissensions of the
rival Greek generals were of more advantage to the Turks than a force of
fifty thousand men.

These jealous chieftains, however, had reason to be startled in the
spring of 1823, when they heard that eighty thousand Mussulmans were to
be sent to attack the Isthmus of Corinth; that forty thousand more were
to undertake the siege of Missolonghi; that fifty thousand in addition
were to co-operate in Thessaly and Attica; while a grand fleet of one
hundred and twenty sail was to sweep the Aegean and reduce the revolted
islands. It was, however, the very magnitude of the hostile forces which
saved the Greeks from impending ruin; for these forces had to be fed in
dried-up and devastated plains, under scorching suns, in the defiles of
mountains, where artillery was of no use, and where hardy mountaineers,
behind rocks and precipices, could fire upon them unseen and without
danger. There was more loss from famine and pestilence than from
foes,--a lesson repeatedly taught for three thousand years, but one
which governments have ever been slow to learn. Alexander the Great had
learned it when he invaded Persia with a small army of veterans, rather
than with a mob of undisciplined allies. Huge armies are not to be
relied on, except when they form a vast mechanism directed by a master
hand, when they are sure of their supplies, and when they operate in a
wholesome country, with nothing to fear from malaria or inclemency of
weather. Then they can crush all before them like some terrible and
irresistible machine; but only then. This the old crusaders learned to
their cost, as well as the invading armies of Napoleon amid the snows of
Russia, and even the disciplined troops of France and England when they
marched to the siege of Sebastopol.

Hence, in spite of the divisions of the Greeks, which paralyzed their
best efforts, the Turkish armies effected but little, great as were
their numbers, in the campaign of 1823. The intrepid Marco Bozzaris,
with only five thousand men, kept the Turks at bay in Epirus, and chased
a large body of Albanians to the sea; while Odysseus defended the pass
of Thermopylae, and prevented the advance of the Turks into Southern
Greece. The grand army destined for the invasion of the Morea gradually
melted away in attacking fortresses, and under the desultory actions of
guerilla bands amidst rocks and thickets. Bozzaris surprised a Turkish
army near Missolonghi by a nocturnal attack, and although he himself
bravely perished, the attack was successful. The Turks in renewed
numbers, however, advanced to the siege of Missolonghi; but they were
again repulsed with great slaughter.

The naval campaign from which so much was expected by the Sultan also
proved a failure. As usual the Greeks resorted to their fire-ships, not
being able openly to contend with superior forces, and drove the fleet
back again to the Dardanelles. When the sea was clear, they were able to
reinforce Missolonghi with three thousand men and a large supply of
provisions; for it was foreseen that the siege would be renewed.

It was at this time, when the Greek cause was imperilled by the
dissensions of the leading chieftains; when Greece indeed was threatened
by civil war, in addition to its contest with the Turks; when the whole
country was impoverished and devastated; when the population was melting
away, and no revenue could be raised to pay the half-starved and
half-naked troops,--that Lord Byron arrived at Missolonghi to share his
fortune with the defenders of an uncertain cause. Like most scholars and
poets, he had a sentimental attachment for the classic land,--the
teacher of the ancient world; and in common with his countrymen he
admired the noble struggles and sacrifices, worthy of ancient heroes,
which the Greeks, though divided and demoralized, had put forth to
recover their liberties. His money contributions were valuable; but it
was his moral support which accomplished the most for Grecian
independence. Though unpopular and maligned at this time in England for
his immoralities and haughty disdain, he was still the greatest poet of
his age, a peer, and a man of transcendent genius of whom any country
would be proud. That such a man, embittered and in broken health, should
throw his whole soul into the contest, with a disinterestedness which
was never questioned, shows not only that he had many noble traits, but
that his example would have great weight with enlightened nations, and
open their eyes to the necessity of rallying to the cause of liberty.
The faults of the Greeks were many; but these faults were such as would
naturally be produced by four hundred years of oppression and scorn, of
craft, treachery, and insensibility to suffering. As for their
jealousies and quarrels, when was there ever a time, even in periods of
their highest glory, when these were not their national characteristics?

Interest in the affairs of Greece now began to be awakened, especially
among the English; and the result was a loan of £800,000 raised in
London for the Greek government, at the rate of £59 for £100. Greece
really obtained only £280,000, while it contracted a debt of £800,000.
Yet this disadvantageous loan was of great service to an utterly
impoverished government, about to contend with the large armies of the
Turks. The Sultan had made immense preparations for the campaign of
1824, and had obtained the assistance of the celebrated Ibrahim Pasha,
adopted son of Mohammed Ali, Pasha of Egypt, who with his Egyptian
troops had nearly subdued Crete. Over one hundred thousand men were now
directed, by sea and land, to western Greece and Missolonghi, of which
twenty thousand were disciplined Egyptian troops. With this great force
the Mussulmans assumed the offensive, and the condition of Greece was
never more critical.

First, the islands of Spezzia and Ipsara were attacked,--the latter
being little more than a barren rock, but the abode of liberty. It was
poorly defended, and was unable to cope with the Turkish armada, having
on board fifteen thousand disciplined troops. Canaris advised a combat
on the sea, but was overruled; and the consequences were fatal. The
island was taken and sacked, and all the inhabitants were put to the
sword. In addition to this great calamity, the spoil made by the victors
was immense, including two hundred pieces of artillery and ninety
vessels. Canaris, however, contrived to escape in a boat, to pursue a
victorious career with his fire-ships. The Turkish and Egyptian fleets
had effected a junction, consisting of one ship-of-the-line, twenty-five
frigates, twenty-five corvettes, fifty brigs and schooners, and two
hundred and forty transports, carrying eighty thousand soldiers and
sailors and twenty-five hundred cannon. To oppose this great armament,
the Greek admiral Miaulis had only seventy sail, manned by five thousand
sailors and carrying eight hundred guns. In spite however of this
disproportion of forces he advanced to meet the enemy, and dispersed it
with a great Turkish loss of fifteen thousand men. All that the Turks
had gained was a barren island.

On the land the Turks had more successes; but these were so indecisive
that they did not attempt to renew the siege of Missolonghi, and the
campaign of 1824 closed with a great loss to the Mussulmans. The little
army and fleet of the Greeks had repelled one hundred and twenty
thousand soldiers confident of success; but the population was now
reduced to less than five hundred thousand, becoming feebler every day,
and the national treasury was empty, while the whole country was a scene
of desolation and misery. And yet, strange to say, the Greeks continued
their dissensions while on the very brink of ruin. Stranger still, their
courage was unabated.

The year 1825 opened with brighter prospects. The rival chieftains, in
view of the desperate state of affairs, at last united, and seemingly
buried their jealousies. A new loan was contracted in London of
£2,000,000, and the naval forces were increased.

But the Turks also made their preparations for a renewed conflict, and
Ibrahim Pasha felt himself strong enough to undertake the siege of
Navarino, which fell into his hands after a brave resistance. Tripolitza
also capitulated to the Egyptian, and the Morea was occupied by his
troops after several engagements. After this the Greeks never ventured
to fight in the open field, but only in guerilla bands, in mountain
passes, and behind fortifications.

Then began the memorable siege of Missolonghi under Reschid Pasha. It
was probably the strongest town in Greece,--by reason not of its
fortifications but of the surrounding marshes and lagoons which made it
inaccessible. Into this town the armed peasantry threw themselves, with
five thousand troops under Niketas, while Miaulis with his fleet raised
the blockade by sea and supplied the town with provisions. Reschid Pasha
determined on an assault, but was driven back. Thrice he advanced with
his troops, only to be repulsed. His forces at the end of October were
reduced to three thousand men. The Sultan, irritated by successive
disasters, brought the whole disposable force of his empire to bear on
the doomed city. Ibrahim, powerfully reinforced with twenty-five
thousand men, by sea and land stormed battery after battery; yet the
Greeks held out, contending with famine and pestilence, as well as with
troops ten times their number.

At last they were unable to offer further resistance, and they resolved
on a general sortie to break through the enemy's line to a place of
safety. The women of the town put on male attire, and armed themselves
with pistols and daggers. The whole population,--men, women, and
children,--on the night of the 22d of April, 1826, issued from their
defences, crossed the moat in silence, passed the ditches and trenches,
and made their way through an opening of the besiegers' lines. For a
while the sortie seemed to be successful; but mistakes were made, a
panic ensued, and most of the flying crowd retreated back to the
deserted town, only to be massacred by Turkish scimitars. Some made
their escape. A column of nearly two thousand, after incredible
hardships, succeeded in reaching Salonica in safety; but Missolonghi
fell, with the loss of nearly ten thousand, killed, wounded, and

It was a great disaster, but proved in the end the foundation of Greek
independence, by creating a general burst of blended enthusiasm and
indignation throughout Europe. The heroic defence of this stronghold
against such overwhelming forces opened the eyes of European statesmen.
Public sentiment in England in favor of the struggling nation could no
longer be disregarded. Mr. Canning took up the cause, both from
enthusiasm and policy. The English ambassador at Constantinople had a
secret interview with Mavrokordatos on an island near Hydra, and
promised him the intervention of England. The death of the Czar
Alexander gave a new aspect to affairs; for his successor, Nicholas,
made up his mind to raise his standard in Turkey. The national voice of
Russia was now for war. The Duke of Wellington was sent to St.
Petersburg, nominally to congratulate the Czar on his accession, but
really to arrange for an armed intervention for the protection of
Greece. The Hellenic government ordered a general conscription; for
Ibrahim Pasha was organizing new forces for the subjection of the Morea
and the reduction of Napoli di Romania and Hydra, while a powerful
fleet put to sea from Alexandria. No sooner did this fleet appear,
however, than Canaris and Miaulis attacked it with their dreaded
fire-ships, and the forty ships of Egypt fled from fourteen small Greek
vessels, and re-entered the Dardanelles. But the Turks, always more
fortunate on land than by sea, pressed now the siege of the Acropolis,
and Athens fell into their hands early in 1827.

For six or seven years the Greeks had struggled heroically; but relief
was now at hand. Russia and England signed a protocol on the 6th of
July, and France soon after joined, to put an end to the sanguinary
contest. The terms proposed to the Sultan by the three great Powers were
moderate,--that he should still retain a nominal sovereignty over the
revolted provinces and receive an annual tribute; but the haughty and
exasperated Sultan indignantly rejected them, and made renewed
preparations to continue the contest. Ibrahim landed his forces on the
Morea and renewed his depredations. Once more the ambassadors of the
allied Powers presented their final note to the Turkish government, and
again it was insultingly disregarded. The allied admirals then entered
the port of Navarino, where the Turkish and Egyptian fleets were at
anchor, with ten ships-of-the-line, ten frigates, with other vessels,
altogether carrying thirteen hundred and twenty-four guns. The Ottoman
force consisted of seventy-nine vessels, armed with twenty-two hundred
and forty guns. Strict orders were given not to fire while negotiations
were going on; but an accidental shot from a Turkish vessel brought on a
general action, and the combined Turkish and Egyptian fleet was
literally annihilated Oct. 20, 1827. This was the greatest disaster
which the Ottoman Turks had yet experienced; indeed, it practically
ended the whole contest. Christendom at last had come to the rescue,
when Greece unaided was incapable of further resistance.

The battle of Navarino excited, of course, the wildest enthusiasm
throughout Greece, and a corresponding joy throughout Europe. Never
since the battle of Lepanto was there such a general exultation among
Christian nations. This single battle decided the fate of Greece. The
admirals of the allied fleet were doubtless "the aggressors in the
battle; but the Turks were the aggressors in the war."

Canning of England did not live to enjoy the triumph of the cause which
he had come to have so much at heart. He was the inspiring genius who
induced both Russia and France (now under Charles X.) to intervene.
Chateaubriand, the minister of Charles X., was in perfect accord with
Canning from poetical and sentimental reasons. Politically his policy
was that of Metternich, who could see no distinction between the
insurrection of Naples and that of Greece. In the great Austrian's eyes,
all people alike who aspired to gain popular liberty or constitutional
government were rebels to be crushed. Canning, however, sympathized in
his latter days with all people striving for independence, whether in
South America or Greece. But his opinion was not shared by English
statesmen of the Tory school, and he had the greatest difficulty in
bringing his colleagues over to his views. When he died, England again
relapsed into neutrality and inaction, under the government of
Wellington. Charles X. in France had no natural liking for the Greek
cause, and wanted only to be undisturbed in his schemes of despotism.
Russia, under Nicholas, determined to fight Turkey, unfettered by
allies. She sought but a pretext for a declaration of war. Turkey
furnished to Russia that pretext, right in the stress of her own
military weakness, when she was exhausted by a war of seven years, and
by the destruction of the Janizaries,--which the Sultan had long
meditated, and concealed in his own bosom with the craft which formed
one of the peculiarities of this cruel yet able sovereign, but which he
finally executed with characteristic savagery. Concerning this Russian
war we shall speak presently.

The battle of Navarino, although it made the restoration of the Turkish
power impossible in Greece, still left Ibrahim master of the fortresses,
and it was two years before the Turkish troops were finally expelled.
But independence was now assured, and the Greeks set about establishing
their government with some permanency. Before the end of that year Capo
d'Istrias was elected president for seven years, and in January, 1828,
he entered upon his office. His ideas of government were arbitrary, for
he had been the minister and favorite of Alexander. He wished to rule
like an absolute sovereign. His short reign was a sort of dictatorship.
His council was composed entirely of his creatures, and he sought at
once to destroy provincial and municipal authority. He limited the
freedom of the Press and violated the secrecy of the mails. "In Plato's
home, Plato's Gorgias could not be read because it spoke too strongly
against tyrants."

Capo d'Istrias found it hard to organize and govern amid the hostilities
of rival chieftains and the general anarchy which prevailed. Local
self-government lay at the root of Greek nationality; but this he
ignored, and set himself to organize an administrative system modelled
after that of France during the reign of Napoleon. Intellectually he
stood at the head of the nation, and was a man of great integrity of
character, as austere and upright as Guizot, having no toleration for
freebooters and peculators. He became unpopular among the sailors and
merchants, who had been so effective in the warfare with the Turks. "A
dark shadow fell over his government" as it became more harsh and
intolerant, and he was assassinated the 9th of October, 1831.

The allied sovereigns who had taken the Greeks under their protection
now felt the need of a stronger and more stable government for them than
a republic, and determined to establish an hereditary but constitutional
monarchy. The crown was offered to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who at
first accepted it; but when that prince began to look into the real
state of the country,--curtailed in its limits by the jealousies of the
English government, rent with anarchy and dissension, containing a
people so long enslaved that they could not make orderly use of
freedom,--he declined the proffered crown. It was then (1832) offered to
and accepted by Prince Otho of Bavaria, a minor; and thirty-five hundred
Bavarian soldiers maintained order during the three years of the
regency, which, though it developed great activity, was divided in
itself, and conspiracies took place to overthrow it. The year 1835 saw
the majority of the king, who then assumed the government. In the same
year the capital was transferred to Athens, which was nothing but a heap
of rubbish; but the city soon after had a university, and also became
an important port. In 1843, after a military revolution against the
German elements of Otho's government, which had increased from year to
year, the Greeks obtained from the king a representative constitution,
to which he took an oath in 1844.

But the limits of the kingdom were small, and neither Crete, Thessaly,
Epirus, nor the Ionian Islands were included in it. In 1846 these
islands were ceded by Great Britain to Greece, which was also
strengthened by the annexation of Thessaly. Since then the progress of
the country in material wealth and in education has been rapid. Otho
reigned till 1862, although amid occasional outbreaks of impatience and
revolt against the reactionary tendencies of his rule. In that year he
fled with his queen from a formidable uprising; and in 1863 Prince
William, son of Christian IX. King of Denmark, was elected monarch,
under the title of George I. King of the Hellenes.

The resurrection of Greece was thus finally effected. It was added to
the European kingdoms, and now bids fair to be prosperous and happy.
"Thus did the Old Hellas rise from the grave of nations. Scorched by
fire, riddled by shot, baptized by blood, she emerged victorious from
the conflict. She achieved her independence because she proved herself
worthy of it; she was trained to manhood in the only school of real
improvement,--the school of suffering."

The Greek revolution has another aspect than battles on the Morea,
massacres on the islands of the Archipelago, naval enterprises under
heroic seamen, guerilla conflicts amid the defiles of mountains, brave
defences of fortresses, dissensions and jealousies between chieftains,
treacheries and cruelties equalling those of the Turks,--another aspect
than the recovery of national independence even. It is memorable for the
complications which grew out of it, especially for the war between
Turkey and Russia, when the Emperor Nicholas, feeling that Turkey was
weakened and exhausted, sought to grasp the prize which he had long
coveted, even the possessions of the "sick man." Nicholas was the
opposite of his brother Alexander, having neither his gentleness, his
impulsiveness, his generosity, nor his indecision. He was a hard despot
of the "blood-and-iron" stamp, ambitious for aggrandizement, indifferent
to the sufferings of others, and withal a religious bigot. The Greek
rebellion, as we have seen, gave him the occasion to pick a quarrel with
the Sultan. The Danubian principalities were dearer to him than remote
possessions on the Mediterranean.

So on the 7th of May, 1828, the Russians crossed the Pruth and invaded
Moldavia and Wallachia,--provinces which had long belonged to Turkey by
right of conquest, though governed by Greek hospodars. The Danube was
crossed on the 7th of June. The Turks were in no condition to contend in
the open field with seventy thousand Russians, and they retreated to
their fortresses,--to Ibraila and Silistria on the Danube, to Varna and
Shumla in the vicinity of the Balkans. The first few weeks of the war
were marked by Russian successes. Ibraila capitulated on the 18th of
June, and the military posts on the Dobrudscha fell rapidly one after
another. But it was at Shumla that the strongest part of the Turkish
army was concentrated, under Omar Brionis, bent on defensive operations;
and thither the Czar directed his main attack. Before this stronghold
his army wasted away by sickness in the malarial month of September. The
Turks were reinforced, and moved to the relief of Varna, also invested
by Russian troops. But the season was now too far advanced for military
operations, and the Russians, after enormous losses, withdrew to the
Danube to resume the offensive the following spring. The winter was
spent in bringing up reserves. The Czar finding that he had no aptitude
as a general withdrew to his capital, intrusting the direction of the
following campaign to Diebitsch, a Prussian general, famous for his
successes and his cruelties.

In the spring of 1829 the first movement was made to seize Silistria,
toward which a great Turkish force was advancing, under Reschid Pasha,
the grand vizier. His forces experienced a great defeat; and two weeks
after, in the latter part of June, Silistria surrendered. Resistance to
the Russians was now difficult. The passes of the Balkans were left
undefended, and the invading force easily penetrated them and advanced
to Adrianople, which surrendered in a great panic. The Russians could
have been defeated had not the Turks lost their senses, for the troops
under Diebitsch were reduced to twenty thousand men. But this fact was
unknown to the Turks, who magnified the Russian forces to one hundred
thousand at least. The result was the treaty of Adrianople, on the 14th
of September,--apparently generous to the Turks, but really of great
advantage to the Russians. Russia restored to Turkey all her conquests
in Europe and Asia, except a few commercial centres on the Black Sea,
while the treaty gave to the Czar the protectorate over the Danubian
principalities, the exclusion of Turks from fortified posts on the left
bank of the Danube, free passage through the Dardanelles to the merchant
vessels of all nations at peace with the Sultan, and the free navigation
of the Black Sea.

But Constantinople still remained the capital of Turkey. The "sick man"
would not die. From jealousy of Russia the western Powers continued to
nurse him. Without their aid he was not long to live; but his existence
was deemed necessary to maintain the "balance of power," and they came
to his assistance in the Crimean War, twenty-six years later, and gave
him a new lease of life.

This is the "Eastern Question,"--How long before the Turks will be
driven out of Europe, and who shall possess Constantinople? That is a
question upon which it would be idle for me to offer speculations.
Another aspect of the question is, How far shall Russia be permitted to
make conquests in the East? This is equally insoluble.


Finlay's Greece under Ottoman Domination; Leake's Travels in Northern
Greece; Gordon's Greek Revolution; Metternich's Memoirs; Howe's Greek
Revolution; Mendelssohn's Graf Capo d'Istrias; Ann. Hist. Valentini;
Alison's Europe; Fyffe's History of Modern Europe; Müller's Political
History of Recent Times.




A new phase in the development of French revolutionary history took
place on the accession of Louis Philippe to the throne. He became King
of the French instead of King of France.

Louis XVIII., upon his coming to the throne at Napoleon's downfall,
would not consent to reign except by divine right, on principles of
legitimacy, as the brother of Louis XVI. He felt that the throne was his
by all the laws of succession. He would not, therefore, accept it as the
gift of the French nation, or of foreign Powers. He consented to be
fettered by a Constitution, as his brother had done; but that any power
could legally give to him what he deemed was already his own, was in his
eyes an absurdity.

This was not the case with Louis Philippe, for he was not the legitimate
heir. He belonged to a younger branch of the Bourbons, and could not be
the legitimate king until all the male heirs of the elder branch were
extinct; and yet both branches of the royal family were the lineal
descendants of Henry IV. This circumstance pointed him out as the proper
person to ascend the throne on the expulsion of the elder branch; but he
was virtually an elective sovereign, chosen by the will of the nation.
So he became king, not "by divine right," but by receiving the throne as
the gift of the people.

There were other reasons why Louis Philippe was raised to the throne. He
was Duke of Orléans,--the richest man in France, son of that Égalité
who took part in the revolution, avowing all its principles; therefore
he was supposed to be liberal in his sentiments. The popular leaders who
expelled Charles X., among the rest Lafayette,--that idol of the United
States, that "Grandison Cromwell," as Carlyle called him,--viewed the
Duke of Orléans as the most available person to preserve order and law,
to gain the confidence of the country, and to preserve the
Constitution,--which guaranteed personal liberty, the freedom of the
Press, the inviolability of the judiciary, and the rights of electors to
the Chamber of Deputies, in which was vested the power of granting
supplies to the executive government. Times were not ripe for a
republic, and only a few radicals wanted it. The nation desired a
settled government, yet one ruling by the laws which the nation had
decreed through its representatives. Louis Philippe swore to everything
that was demanded of him, and was in all respects a constitutional
monarch, under whom the French expected all the rights and liberties
that England enjoyed. All this was a step in advance of the monarchy of
Louis XVIII. Louis Philippe was rightly named "the citizen king."

This monarch was also a wise, popular, and talented man. He had passed
through great vicissitudes of fortune. At one time he taught a school in
Switzerland. He was an exile and a wanderer from country to country. He
had learned much from his misfortunes; he had had great experiences, and
was well read in the history of thrones and empires. He was affable in
his manners, and interesting in conversation; a polished gentleman, with
considerable native ability,--the intellectual equal of the statesmen
who surrounded him. His morals were unstained, and his tastes were
domestic. His happiest hours were spent in the bosom of his family; and
his family was harmonious and respectable. He was the idol of the middle
class; bankers, merchants, lawyers, and wealthy shopkeepers were his
strongest supporters. All classes acquiesced in the rule of a worthy
man, as he seemed to all,--moderate, peace-loving, benignant,
good-natured. They did not see that he was selfish, crafty,
money-loving, bound up in family interests. This plain-looking,
respectable, middle-aged man, as he walked under the colonnade of the
Rue de Rivoli, with an umbrella under his arm, looked more like a plain
citizen than a king. The leading journals were all won over to his side.
The Chamber of Deputies by a large majority voted for him, and the
eighty-three Departments, representing thirty-five millions of people,
by a still larger majority elected him king. The two Chambers prepared a
Constitution, which he unhesitatingly accepted and swore to maintain. He
was not chosen by universal suffrage, but by one hundred and fifty
thousand voters. The Republicans were not satisfied, but submitted; so
also did the ultra-Royalists. It was at first feared that the allied
Powers, under the influence of Metternich, would be unfriendly; yet one
after another recognized the new government, feeling that it was the
best, under the circumstances, that could be established.

The man who had the most to do with the elevation of Louis Philippe was
the Marquis de Lafayette, who as far back as the first revolution was
the commander of the National Guards; and they, as the representatives
of the middle classes, sustained the throne during this reign. Lafayette
had won a great reputation for his magnanimous and chivalrous assistance
to the United States, when, at twenty years of age, he escaped from
official hindrances at home and tendered his unpaid voluntary services
to Washington. This was in the darkest period of the American
Revolution, when Washington had a pitifully small army, and when the
American treasury was empty. Lafayette was the friend and admirer of
Washington, whose whole confidence he possessed; and he not only
performed distinguished military duty, but within a year returned to
France and secured a French fleet, land forces, clothing and ammunition
for the struggling patriots, as the result of French recognition of
American independence, and of a treaty of alliance with the new American
nation,--both largely due to his efforts and influence.

When Lafayette departed, on his return to France, he was laden with
honors and with the lasting gratitude of the American people. He
returned burning with enthusiasm for liberty, and for American
institutions; and this passion for liberty was never quenched, under
whatever form of government existed in France. He was from first to last
the consistent friend of struggling patriots,--sincere, honest,
incorruptible, with horror of revolutionary excesses, as sentimental as
Lamartine, yet as firm as Carnot.

Lafayette took an active part in the popular movements in 1787, and in
1789 formed the National Guard and gave it the tricolor badge. But he
was too consistent and steady-minded for the times. He was not liked by
extreme Royalists or by extreme Republicans. He was denounced by both
parties, and had to flee the country to save his life. Driven from Paris
by the excesses of the Reign of Terror, which he abhorred, he fell into
the hands of the Prussians, who delivered him to the Austrians, and by
them he was immured in a dungeon at Olmutz for three and a half years,
being finally released only by the influence of Napoleon. So rigorous
was his captivity that none of his family or friends knew for two years
where he was confined. On his return from Austria, he lived in
comparative retirement at La Grange, his country-seat, and took no part
in the government of Napoleon, whom he regarded as a traitor to the
cause of liberty. Nor did he enter the service of the Bourbons, knowing
their settled hostility to free institutions. History says but little
about him during this time, except that from 1818 to 1824 he was a
member of the Chamber of Deputies, and in 1825 to 1830 was again
prominent in the legislative opposition to the royal government. In 1830
again, as an old man, he reappeared as commander-in-chief of the
National Guards, when Charles X. was forced to abdicate. Lafayette now
became the most popular man in France, and from him largely emanated the
influences which replaced Charles X. with Louis Philippe. He was not a
man of great abilities, but was generally respected as an honest man.
He was most marked for practical sagacity and love of constitutional
liberty. The phrase, "a monarchical government surrounded with
republican institutions," is ascribed to him,--an illogical expression,
which called out the sneers of Carlyle, whose sympathies were with
strong governments and with the men who can rule, and who therefore, as
he thought, ought to rule.

Lafayette was doubtless played with and used by Louis Philippe, the most
astute and crafty of monarchs. Professing the greatest love and esteem
for the general who had elevated him, the king was glad to get rid of
him; so, too, were the Chambers,--the former from jealousy of his
popularity, and the latter from dislike of his independence and
integrity. Under Louis Philippe he held no higher position than as a
member of the Chamber of Deputies. As deputy he had always been and
continued to be fearless, patriotic, and sometimes eloquent. His
speeches were clear, unimpassioned, sensible, and he was always listened
to with respect. He took great interest in the wrongs of all oppressed
people; and exiles from Poland, from Spain, and from Italy found in him
a generous protector. His house was famous for its unpretending
hospitalities, especially to American travellers. He lived long enough
to see the complete triumph of American institutions. In 1824, upon a
formal invitation by Congress, he revisited the United States as the
guest of the nation, and received unprecedented ovations wherever he
went,--a tribute of the heart, such as only great benefactors enjoy,
when envy gives place to gratitude and admiration. A great man he was
not, in the ordinary sense of greatness; yet few men will live as long
as he in the national hearts of two nations, for character if not for
genius, for services if not for brilliant achievements.

The first business of the new monarch in 1830 was to choose his
ministers, and he selected as premier Lafitte the banker, a prominent
member of the Chamber of Deputies, who had had great influence in
calling him to the throne. Lafitte belonged to the liberal party, and
was next to Lafayette the most popular man in France, but superior to
that statesman in intellect and executive ability. He lived in grand
style, and his palace, with its courts and gardens, was the resort of
the most distinguished men in France,--the Duke of Choiseul, Dupin,
Béranger, Casimir Périer, Montalivet, the two Aragos, Guizot, Odillon
Barrot, Villemain,--politicians, artists, and men of letters. His
ministry, however, lasted less than a year. The vast increase in the
public expenditure aroused a storm of popular indignation. The increase
of taxation is always resented by the middle classes, and by this
measure Lafitte lost his popularity. Moreover, the public disorders
lessened the authority of the government. In March, 1831, the king found
it expedient to dismiss Lafitte, and to appoint Casimir Périer, an abler
man, to succeed him. Lafitte was not great enough for the exigencies of
the times. His business was to make money, and it was his pleasure to
spend it; but he was unable to repress the discontents of Paris, or to
control the French revolutionary ideas, which were spreading over the
whole Continent, especially in Belgium, in which a revolution took
place, accompanied by a separation from Holland. Belgium was erected
into an independent kingdom, under a constitutional government. Prince
Leopold, of Saxe Coburg, having refused the crown of Greece, was elected
king, and shortly after married a daughter of Louis Philippe; which
marriage, of course, led to a close union between France and Belgium. In
this marriage the dynastic ambition of Louis Philippe, which was one of
the main causes of his subsequent downfall in 1848, became obvious. But
he had craft enough to hide his ambition under the guise of zeal for
constitutional liberty.

Casimir Périer was a man of great energy, and liberal in his political
antecedents, a banker of immense wealth and great force of character,
reproachless in his integrity. He had scarcely assumed office when he
was called upon to enforce a very rigorous policy. France was in a
distracted state, not so much from political agitation as from the
discontent engendered by poverty, and by the difficulty of finding work
for operatives,--a state not unlike that of England before the passage
of the Reform Bill. According to Louis Blanc the public distress was
appalling, united with disgusting immorality among the laboring classes
in country districts and in great manufacturing centres. In consequence
there were alarming riots at Lyons and other cities. The people were
literally starving, and it required great resolution and firmness on the
part of government to quiet the disorders. Lyons was in the hands of a
mob, and Marshal Soult was promptly sent with forty thousand regular
troops to restore order. And this public distress,--when laborers earned
less than a shilling a day, and when the unemployed exceeded in number
those who found work on a wretched pittance,--was at its height when the
Chamber of Deputies decreed a civil list for the king to the amount of
nearly nineteen millions of francs, thirty-seven times greater than that
given to Napoleon as First Consul; and this, too, when the king's
private income was six millions of francs a year.

Such was the disordered state of the country that the prime minister,
whose general policy was that of peace, sent a military expedition to
Ancona, in the Papal territories, merely to divert the public mind from
the disorders which reigned throughout the land. Indeed, the earlier
years of the reign of Louis Philippe were so beset with difficulties
that it required extraordinary tact, prudence, and energy to govern at
all. But the king was equal to the emergency. He showed courage and good
sense, and preserved his throne. At the same time, while he suppressed
disorders by vigorous measures, he took care to strengthen his power. He
was in harmony with the Chamber of Deputies, composed almost entirely of
rich men. The liberal party demanded an extension of the suffrage, to
which he gracefully yielded; and the number of electors was raised to
one hundred and eighty thousand, but extended only to those who paid a
direct tax of two hundred francs. A bill was also passed in the Chamber
of Deputies abolishing hereditary peerage, though opposed by Guizot,
Thiers, and Berryer. Of course the opposition in the upper house was
great, and thirty-six new peers were created to carry the measure.

The year 1832 was marked by the ravages of the cholera, which swept away
twenty thousand people in Paris alone, and among them Casimir Périer,
and Cuvier the pride of the scientific world.

But Louis Philippe was not yet firmly established on his throne. His
ministers had suppressed disorders, seized two hundred journals,
abolished hereditary peerage, extended the electoral suffrage, while he
had married his daughter to the King of Belgium. He now began to
consolidate his power by increasing the army, seeking alliances with the
different powers of Europe, bribing the Press, and enriching his
subordinates. Taxation was necessarily increased; yet renewed prosperity
from the increase of industries removed discontents, which arise not
from the excess of burdens, but from a sense of injustice. Now began the
millennium of shopkeepers and bankers, all of whom supported the throne.
The Chamber of Deputies granted the government all the money it wanted,
which was lavishly spent in every form of corruption, and luxury again
set in. Never were the shops more brilliant, or equipages more gorgeous.
The king on his accession had removed from the palace which Cardinal
Mazarin had bequeathed to Louis XIV., and took up his residence at the
Tuileries; and though his own manners were plain, he surrounded himself
with all the pomp of royalty, but not with the old courtiers of Charles
X. Marshal Soult greatly distinguished himself in suppressing disorders,
especially a second riot in Lyons. To add to the public disorders, the
Duchess of Berri made a hostile descent on France with the vain hope of
restoring the elder branch of the Bourbons. This unsuccessful movement
was easily put down, and the discredited princess was arrested and
imprisoned. Meanwhile the popular discontents continued, and a fresh
insurrection broke out in Paris, headed by Republican chieftains. The
Republicans were disappointed, and disliked the vigor of the government,
which gave indications of a sterner rule than that of Charles X.
Moreover, the laboring classes found themselves unemployed. The
government of Louis Philippe was not for them, but for the bourgeois
party, shop-keepers, bankers, and merchants. The funeral of General
Lamarque, a popular favorite, was made the occasion of fresh
disturbances, which at one time were quite serious. The old cry of _Vive
la Republique_ began to be heard from thousands of voices in the scenes
of former insurrections. Revolt assumed form. A mysterious meeting was
held at Lafitte's, when the dethronement of the king was discussed. The
mob was already in possession of one of the principal quarters of the
city. The authorities were greatly alarmed, but they had taken vigorous
measures. There were eighteen thousand regular troops under arms with
eighty pieces of cannon, and thirty thousand more in the environs,
besides the National Guards. What could the students of the Polytechnic
School and an undisciplined mob do against these armed troops? In vain
their cries of _Vive la Liberté; à bas Louis Philippe!_ The military
school was closed, and the leading journals of the Republican party were
seized. Marshal Soult found himself on the 7th of June, 1832, at the
head of sixty thousand regular troops and twenty thousand National
Guards. The insurgents, who had erected barricades, were driven back
after a fierce fight at the Cloister of St. Méri. This bloody triumph
closed the insurrection. The throne of the citizen king was saved by the
courage and discipline of the regular troops under a consummate general.
The throne of Charles X. could not have stood a day in face of such an

The next day after the defeat of the insurgents Paris was proclaimed in
a state of siege, in spite of the remonstrances of all parties against
it as an unnecessary act; but the king was firm and indignant, and
ordered the arrest of both Democrats and Legitimists, including
Garnier-Pagès and Chateaubriand himself. He made war on the Press.
During his reign of two years two hundred and eighty-one journals were
seized, and fines imposed to nearly the amount of four hundred
thousand francs.

The suppression of revolts in both Paris and Lyons did much to
strengthen the government, and the result was an increase of public
prosperity. Capital reappeared from its hiding-places, and industry
renewed its labors. The public funds rose six per cent. The first dawn
of the welfare of the laboring classes rose on their defeat.

For his great services in establishing a firm government Marshal Soult
was made prime minister, with De Broglie, Guizot, and Thiers among his
associates. The chief event which marked his administration was a war
with Holland, followed by the celebrated siege of Antwerp, which the
Hollanders occupied with a large body of troops. England joined with
France in this contest, which threatened to bring on a general European
war; but the successful capture of the citadel of Antwerp, after a
gallant defence, prevented that catastrophe. This successful siege
vastly increased the military prestige of France, and brought Belgium
completely under French influence.

The remaining events which marked the ministry of Marshal Soult were the
project of fortifying Paris by a series of detached forts of great
strength, entirely surrounding the city, the liberal expenditure of
money for public improvements, and the maintenance of the colony of
Algeria. The first measure was postponed on account of the violent
opposition of the Republicans, and the second was carried out with
popular favor through the influence of Thiers. The Arc de l'Étoile was
finished at an expense of two million francs; the Church of the
Madeleine, at a cost of nearly three millions; the Panthéon, of
1,400,000; the Museum of Natural History, for which 2,400,000 francs
were appropriated; the Church of St. Denis, 1,350,000; the École des
Beaux Arts, 1,900,000; the Hotel du Quay d'Orsay, 3,450,000; besides
other improvements, the chief of which was in canals, for which
forty-four millions of francs were appropriated,--altogether nearly one
hundred millions of francs, which of course furnished employment for
discontented laborers. The retention of the Colony of Algeria resulted
in improving the military strength of France, especially by the
institution of the corps of Zouaves, which afterward furnished effective
soldiers. It was in Africa that the ablest generals of Louis Napoleon
were trained for the Crimean War.

In 1834 Marshal Soult retired from the ministry, and a series of prime
ministers rapidly succeeded one another, some of whom were able and of
high character, but no one of whom made any great historical mark, until
Thiers took the helm of government in 1836,--not like a modern English
prime minister, who is supreme so long as he is supported by Parliament,
but rather as the servant of the king, like the ministers of George III.

Thiers was forty years of age when he became prime minister, although
for years he had been a conspicuous and influential member of the
Chamber of Deputies. Like Guizot he sprang from the people, his father
being an obscure locksmith in Marseilles. Like Guizot, he first became
distinguished as a writer for the "Constitutional," and afterward as
its editor. He was a brilliant and fluent speaker, at home on all
questions of the day, always equal to the occasion, yet without striking
originality or profundity of views. Like most men who have been the
architects of their own fortunes, he was vain and consequential. He was
liberal in his views, a friend of order and law, with aristocratic
tendencies. He was more warlike in his policy than suited either the
king or his rival Guizot, who had entered the cabinet with him on the
death of Casimir Périer. Nor was he a favorite with Louis Philippe, who
was always afraid that he would embroil the kingdom in war. Thiers'
political opinions were very much like those of Canning in later days.
His genius was versatile,--he wrote history in the midst of his
oratorical triumphs. His History of the French Revolution was by far the
ablest and most trustworthy that had yet appeared. The same may be said
of his History of the Consulate and of the Empire. He was a great
admirer of Napoleon, and did more than any other to perpetuate the
Emperor's fame. His labors were prodigious; he rose at four in the
morning, and wrote thirty or forty letters before breakfast. He was
equally remarkable as an administrator and as a statesman, examining all
the details of government, and leaving nothing to chance. No man in
France knew the condition of the country so well as Thiers, from both a
civil and a military point of view. He was overbearing in the Chamber of
Deputies, and hence was not popular with the members. He was prime
minister several times, but rarely for more than a few months at a time.
The king always got rid of him as soon as he could, and much preferred
Guizot, the high-priest of the Doctrinaires, whose policy was like that
of Lord Aberdeen in England,--peace at any price.

Nothing memorable happened during this short administration of Thiers
except the agitation produced by secret societies in Switzerland,
composed of refugees from all nations, who kept Europe in constant
alarm. There were the "Young Italy" Society, and the societies of "Young
Poland," "Young Germany," "Young France," and "Young Switzerland." The
cabinets of Europe took alarm, and Thiers brought matters to a crisis by
causing the French minister at Berne to intimate to the Swiss government
that unless these societies were suppressed all diplomatic intercourse
would cease between France and Switzerland,--which meant an armed
intervention. This question of the expulsion of political refugees drew
Metternich and Thiers into close connection. But a still more important
question, as to intervention in Spanish matters, brought about a
difference between the king and his minister, in consequence of which
the latter resigned.

Count Molé now took the premiership, retaining it for two years. He was
a grave, laborious, and thoughtful man, but without the genius,
eloquence, and versatility of Thiers. Molé belonged to an ancient and
noble family, and his splendid chateau was filled with historical
monuments. He had all the affability of manners which marked the man of
high birth, without their frivolity. One of the first acts of his
administration was the liberation of political prisoners, among whom was
the famous Prince Polignac, the prime minister of Charles X. The old
king himself died, about the same time, an exile in a foreign land. The
year 1836 was also signalized by the foolish and unsuccessful attempt of
Louis Napoleon, at Strasburg, to overthrow the government; but he was
humanely and leniently dealt with, suffering no greater punishment than
banishment to the United States for ten years. In the following year
occurred the marriage of the Duke of Orléans, heir to the throne, with a
German princess of the Lutheran faith, followed by magnificent
festivities. Soon after took place the inauguration of the palace of
Versailles as a museum of fine arts, which, as such, has remained to
this day; nor did Louis Napoleon in the height of his power venture to
use this ancient and magnificent residence of the kings of France for
any other purpose.

But the most important event in the administration of Count Molé was
the extension of the Algerian colony to the limits of the ancient
Libya,--so long the granary of imperial Rome, and which once could boast
of twenty millions of people. This occupation of African territory led
to the war in which the celebrated Arab chieftain, Abd-el-Kader, was the
hero. He was both priest and warrior, enjoying the unlimited confidence
of his countrymen; and by his cunning and knowledge of the country he
succeeded in maintaining himself for several years against the French
generals. His stronghold was Constantine, which was taken by storm in
October, 1837, by General Vallée. Still, the Arab chieftain found means
to defy his enemies; and it was not till 1841 that he was forced to flee
and seek protection from the Emperor of Morocco. The storming of
Constantine was a notable military exploit, and gave great prestige to
the government.

Louis Philippe was now firmly established on his throne, yet he had
narrowly escaped assassination four or five times. This taught him to be
cautious, and to realize the fact that no monarch can be safe amid the
plots of fanatics. He no longer walked the streets of Paris with an
umbrella under his arm, but enshrouded himself in the Tuileries with the
usual guards of Continental kings. His favorite residence was at St.
Cloud, at that time one of the most beautiful of the royal palaces
of Europe.

At this time the railway mania raged in France, as it did in England.
Foremost among those who undertook to manage the great corporations
which had established district railways, was Arago the astronomer, who,
although a zealous Republican, was ever listened to with respect in the
Chamber of Deputies. These railways indicated great material prosperity
in the nation at large, and the golden age of speculators and
capitalists set in,--all averse to war, all worshippers of money, all
for peace at any price. Morning, noon, and night the offices of bankers
and stock-jobbers were besieged by files of carriages and clamorous
crowds, even by ladies of rank, to purchase shares in companies which
were to make everybody's fortune, and which at one time had risen
fifteen hundred per cent, giving opportunities for boundless frauds.
Military glory for a time ceased to be a passion among the most
excitable and warlike people of Europe, and gave way to the more
absorbing passion for gain, and for the pleasures which money purchases.
Nor was it difficult, in this universal pursuit of sudden wealth, to
govern a nation whose rulers had the appointment of one hundred and
forty thousand civil officers and an army of four hundred thousand men.
Bribery and corruption kept pace with material prosperity. Never before
had officials been so generally and easily bribed. Indeed, the
government was built up on this miserable foundation. With bribery,
corruption, and sudden wealth, the most shameful immorality existed
everywhere. Out of every one thousand births, one third were
illegitimate. The theatres were disgraced by the most indecent plays.
Money and pleasure had become the gods of France, and Paris more than
ever before was the centre of luxury and social vice.

It was at this period of peace and tranquillity that Talleyrand died, on
the 17th of May, 1838, at eighty-two, after serving in his advanced age
Louis Philippe as ambassador at London. The Abbé Dupanloup, afterward
bishop of Orléans, administered the last services of his church to the
dying statesman. Talleyrand had, however, outlived his reputation, which
was at its height when he went to the Congress of Vienna in 1814. Though
he rendered great services to the different sovereigns whom he served,
he was too selfish and immoral to obtain a place in the hearts of the
nation. A man who had sworn fidelity to thirteen constitutions and
betrayed them all, could not be much mourned or regretted at his death.
His fame was built on witty sayings, elegant manners, and adroit
adaptation to changing circumstances, rather than on those solid merits
winch alone extort the respect of posterity.

The ministry of Count Molé was not eventful. It was marked chiefly for
the dissensions of political parties, troubles in Belgium, and
threatened insurrections, which alarmed the bourgeoisie. The king,
feeling the necessity for a still stronger government, recalled old
Marshal Soult to the head of affairs. Neither Thiers nor Guizot formed
part of Soult's cabinet, on account of their mutual jealousies and
undisguised ambition,--both aspiring to lead, and unwilling to accept
any office short of the premiership.

Another great man now came into public notice. This was Villemain, who
was made Minister of Public Instruction, a post which Guizot had
previously filled. Villemain was a peer of France, an aristocrat from
his connections with high society, but a liberal from his love of
popularity. He was one of the greatest writers of this period, both in
history and philosophy, and an advocate of Polish independence. Thiers
at this time was the recognized leader of the Left and Left Centre in
the Deputies, while his rival, Guizot, was the leader of the
Conservatives. Eastern affairs now assumed great prominence in the
Chamber of Deputies. Turkey was reduced to the last straits in
consequence of the victories of Ibrahim Pasha in Asia Minor; France and
England adhered to the policy of non-intervention, and the Sultan in his
despair was obliged to invoke the aid of his most dangerous ally,
Russia, who extorted as the price of his assistance the famous treaty of
Unkiar-Skelessi, which excluded all ships-of-war, except those of
Russia and Turkey, from the Black Sea, the effect of which was to make
it a Muscovite lake. England and France did not fully perceive their
mistake in thus throwing Turkey into the arms of Russia, by their
eagerness to maintain the _status quo_,--the policy of Austria. There
were, however, a few statesmen in the French Chamber of Deputies who
deplored the inaction of government. Among these was Lamartine, who made
a brilliant and powerful speech against an inglorious peace. This orator
was now in the height of his fame, and but for his excessive vanity and
sentimentalism might have reached the foremost rank in the national
councils. He was distinguished not only for eloquence, but for his
historical compositions, which are brilliant and suggestive, but rather
prolix and discursive.

Sir Archibald Alison seems to think that Lamartine cannot be numbered
among the great historians, since, like the classic historians of Greece
and Rome, he has not given authorities for his statements, and, unlike
German writers, disdains foot-notes as pedantic. But I observe that in
his "History of Europe" Alison quotes Lamartine oftener than any other
French writer, and evidently admires his genius, and throws no doubt on
the general fidelity of his works. A partisan historian full of
prejudices, like Macaulay, with all his prodigality of references, is
apt to be in reality more untruthful than a dispassionate writer without
any show of learning at all. The learning of an advocate may hide and
obscure truth as well as illustrate it. It is doubtless the custom of
historical writers generally to enrich, or burden, their works with all
the references they can find, to the delight of critics who glory in
dulness; but this, after all, may be a mere scholastic fashion.
Lamartine probably preferred to embody his learning in the text than
display it in foot-notes. Moreover, he did not write for critics, but
for the people; not for the few, but for the many. As a popular writer
his histories, like those of Voltaire, had an enormous sale. If he were
less rhetorical and discursive, his books, perhaps, would have more
merit. He fatigues by the redundancy of his richness and the length of
his sentences; and yet he is as candid and judicial as Hallam, and would
have had the credit of being so, had he only taken more pains to prove
his points by stating his authorities.

Next to the insolvable difficulties which attended the discussion of the
Eastern question,--whether Turkey should be suffered to crumble away
without the assistance of the Western Powers; whether Russia should be
driven back from the Black Sea or not,--the affairs of Africa excited
great interest in the Chambers. Algiers had been taken by French armies
under the Bourbons, and a colony had been founded in countries of great
natural fertility. It was now a question how far the French armies
should pursue their conquests in Africa, involving an immense
expenditure of men and money, in order to found a great colonial empire,
and gain military _éclat_, so necessary in France to give strength to
any government. But a new insurrection and confederation of the defeated
Arab tribes, marked by all the fanaticism of Moslem warriors, made it
necessary for the French to follow up their successes with all the vigor
possible. In consequence, an army of forty thousand infantry and twelve
thousand cavalry and artillery drove the Arabs, in 1840, to their
remotest fastnesses. The ablest advocate for war measures was Thiers;
and so formidable were his eloquence and influence in the Chambers, that
he was again called to the head of affairs, and his second
administration took place.

The rivalry and jealousy between this great statesman and Guizot would
not permit the latter to take a subordinate position, but he was
mollified by the appointment of ambassador to London. The prime minister
had a great majority to back him, and such was his ascendency that he
had all things his own way for a time, in spite of the king, whose
position was wittily set forth in a famous expression of Thiers, _Le Roi
règne, et ne gouverne pas_. Still, in spite of the liberal and
progressive views of Thiers, very little was done toward the
amelioration of the sufferings of the people, for whom, personally, he
cared but little. True, a bill was introduced into the Chambers which
reduced the hours of labor in the manufactories from twelve to eight
hours, and from sixteen hours to twelve, while it forbade the employment
of children under eight years of age in the mills; but this beneficent
measure, though carried in the Chamber of Peers, was defeated in the
lower house, made up of capitalists and parsimonious money-worshippers.

What excited the most interest in the short administration of Thiers,
was the removal of the bones of Napoleon from St. Helena to the banks of
the Seine, which he loved so well, and their deposition under the dome
of the Invalides,--the proudest monument of Louis Quatorze. Louis
Philippe sent his son the Prince de Joinville to superintend this
removal,--an act of magnanimity hard to be reconciled with his usual
astuteness and selfishness. He probably thought that his throne was so
firmly established that he could afford to please the enemies of his
house, and perhaps would gain popularity. But such a measure doubtless
kept alive the memory of the deeds of the great conqueror, and renewed
sentiments in the nation which in less than ten years afterward
facilitated the usurpation of his nephew. In fact, the bones of
Napoleon were scarcely removed to their present resting-place before
Louis Napoleon embarked upon his rash expedition at Boulogne, was taken
prisoner, and immured in the fortress of Ham, where he spent six years
in strict seclusion, conversing only with books, until he contrived to
escape to England.

The Eastern question again, under Thiers' administration, became the
great topic of conversation and public interest, and his military policy
came near embroiling France in war. So great was the public alarm that
the army was raised to four hundred thousand men, and measures were
taken to adopt a great system of fortifications around Paris. It was
far, however, from the wishes and policy of the king to be dragged into
war by an ambitious and restless minister. He accordingly summoned
Guizot from London to meet him privately at the Château d'Eu, in
Normandy, where the statesman fully expounded his conservative and
pacific policy. The result of this interview was the withdrawal of the
French forces in the Levant and the dismissal of Thiers, who had brought
the nation to the edge of war. His place was taken by Guizot, who
henceforth, with brief intervals, was the ruling spirit in the councils
of the king.

Guizot, on the whole, was the greatest name connected with the reign of
Louis Philippe, although his elevation to the premiership was long
delayed. In solid learning, political ability, and parliamentary
eloquence he had no equal, unless it were Thiers. He was a native of
Switzerland, and a Protestant; but all his tendencies were conservative.
He was cold and austere in manners and character. He had acquired
distinction in the two preceding reigns, both as a political writer for
the journals and as a historian. The extreme Left and the extreme Right
called him a "Doctrinaire," and he was never popular with either of
these parties. He greatly admired the English constitution and attempted
to steer a middle course, being the advocate of constitutional monarchy
surrounded with liberal institutions. Amid the fierce conflict of
parties which marked the reign of Louis Philippe, Guizot gradually
became more and more conservative, verging on absolutism. Hence he broke
with Lafayette, who was always ready to upset the throne when it
encroached on the liberties of the people. His policy was pacific, while
Thiers was always involving the nation in military schemes. In the
latter part of the reign of Louis Philippe, Guizot's views were not
dissimilar to those of the English Tories. His studies led him to detest
war as much as did Lord Aberdeen, and he was the invariable advocate of
peace. He was, like Thiers, an aristocrat at heart, although sprung from
the middle classes. He was simple in his habits and style of life, and
was greater as a philosopher than as a practical statesman amid popular

Guizot was the father of what is called philosophical history, and all
his historical writings show great research, accuracy, and breadth of
views. His temperament made him calm and unimpassioned, and his
knowledge made him profound. He was a great historical authority, like
Ranke, but was more admired fifty years ago than he is at the present
day, when dramatic writings like those of Motley and Froude have spoiled
ordinary readers for profundity allied with dulness. He resembles Hallam
more than Macaulay. But it is life rather than learning which gives
immortality to historians. It is the life and the individuality of
Gibbon which preserve his fame and popularity rather than his marvellous
learning. Voltaire lives for his style alone, the greatest of modern
historical artists. Better it is for the fame of a writer to have a
thousand faults with the single excellence of living power, than to have
no faults and no remarkable excellences. Guizot is deficient in life,
but is wonderful for research and philosophical deductions, and hence is
to be read by students rather than by the people. As a popular historian
he is inferior to Thiers, but superior to him in general learning.

Guizot became the favorite minister of Louis Philippe for his
conservative policy and his love of peace rather than for his personal
attractions. He was less independent than Thiers, and equally ambitious
of ruling, and was also more subservient to the king, supporting him in
measures which finally undermined his throne; but the purity of Guizot's
private life, in an age of corruption, secured for him more respect than
popularity, Mr. Fyffe in his late scholarly history sneers at him as a
sanctimonious old Puritan,--almost a hypocrite.

Guizot died before Thiers had won his greatest fame as the restorer of
law and order after the communistic riots which followed the siege of
Paris in 1871, when, as President of the Republic, he rendered
inestimable services to France. The great personal defect of Thiers was
vanity; that of Guizot was austerity: but both were men of transcendent
ability and unimpeached patriotism. With these two men began the mighty
power of the French Press in the formation of public opinion. With them
the reign of Louis Philippe was identified as much as that of Queen
Victoria for twenty years has been with Gladstone and Disraeli. Between
them the king "reigned" rather than "governed." This was the period when
statesmen began to monopolize the power of kings in Prussia and Austria
as well as in France and England. Russia alone of the great Powers was
ruled by the will of a royal autocrat. In constitutional monarchies
ministers enjoy the powers which were once given to the favorites of
royalty; they rise and fall with majorities in legislative assemblies.
In such a country as America the President is king, but only for a
limited period. He descends from a position of transcendent dignity to
the obscurity of private life. His ministers are his secretaries,
without influence, comparatively, in the halls of Congress,--neither
made nor unmade by the legislature, although dependent on the Senate for
confirmation, but once appointed, independent of both houses, and
responsible only to the irremovable Executive, who can defy even public
opinion, unless he aims at re-election, a unique government in the
political history of the world.

The year 1841 opened auspiciously for Louis Philippe. He was at the
summit of his power, and his throne seemed to be solidly cemented. All
the insurrections which had given him so much trouble were suppressed,
and the country was unusually prosperous. The enormous sum of
£85,000,000 had been expended in six years on railways, one quarter more
than England had spent. Population had increased over a million in ten
years, and the exports were £7,000,000 more than they were in 1830.
Paris was a city of shops and attractive boulevards.

The fortification of the capital continued to be an engrossing matter
with the ministry and legislature, and it was a question whether there
should be built a wall around the city, or a series of strong detached
forts. The latter found the most favor with military men, but the Press
denounced it as nothing less than a series of Bastiles to overawe the
city. The result was the adoption of both systems,--detached forts, each
capable of sustaining a siege and preventing an enemy from effectually
bombarding the city; and the _enceinte continuée_, which proved an
expensive _muraille d'octroi_. Had it not been for the detached forts,
with their two thousand pieces of cannon, Paris would have been unable
to sustain a siege in the Franco-Prussian war. The city must have
surrendered immediately when once invested, or have been destroyed; but
the distant forts prevented the Prussians from advancing near enough to
bombard the centre of the city.

The war in Algeria was also continued with great vigor by the government
of Guizot. It required sixty thousand troops to carry on the war, bring
the Arabs to terms, and capture their cunning and heroic chieftain
Abd-el-Kader, which was done at last, after a vast expenditure of money
and men. Among the commanders who conducted this African war were
Marshals Valée, Changarnier, Cavaignac, Canrobert, Bugeaud, St. Arnaud,
and Generals Lamoricière, Bosquet, Pelissier. Of these Changarnier was
the most distinguished, although, from political reasons, he took no
part in the Crimean War. The result of the long contest, in which were
developed the talents of the generals who afterward gained under
Napoleon III. so much distinction, was the possession of a country
twelve hundred miles in length and three hundred in breadth, many parts
of which are exceedingly fertile, and capable of sustaining a large
population. As a colony, however, Algeria has not been a profitable
investment. It took eighteen years to subdue it, at a cost of one
billion francs, and the annual expense of maintaining it exceeds one
hundred million francs. The condition of colonists there has generally
been miserable; and while the imports in 1845 were one hundred million
francs, the exports were only about ten millions. The great importance
of the colony is as a school for war; it has no great material or
political value. The English never had over fifty thousand European
troops, aside from the native auxiliary army, to hold India in
subjection, with a population of nearly three hundred millions, whereas
it takes nearly one hundred thousand men to hold possession of a country
of less than two million natives. This fact, however, suggests the
immeasurable superiority of the Arabs over the inhabitants of India from
a military point of view.

The accidental death, in 1842, of the Due d'Orléans, heir to the
throne, was attended with important political consequences. He was a
favorite of the nation, and was both gifted and virtuous. His death left
a frail infant, the Comte de Paris, as heir to the throne, and led to
great disputes in the Chambers as to whom the regency should be
intrusted in case of the death of the king. Indeed, this sad calamity,
as it was felt by the nation, did much to shake the throne of
Louis Philippe.

The most important event during the ministry of Guizot, in view of its
consequences on the fortunes of Louis Philippe, was the Spanish
marriages. The Salic law prohibited the succession of females to the
throne of France, but the old laws of Spain permitted females as well as
males to reign. In consequence, it was always a matter of dynastic
ambition for the monarchs of Europe to marry their sons to those Spanish
princesses who possibly might become sovereign of Spain. But as such
marriages might result in the consolidation of powerful States, and thus
disturb the balance of power, they were generally opposed by other
countries, especially England. Indeed, the long and bloody war called
the War of Spanish Succession, in which Marlborough and Eugene were the
heroes, was waged with Louis XIV. to prevent the union of France and
Spain, as seemed probable when the bequest of the Spanish throne was
made to the Duc d'Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV., who had married a
Spanish princess. The victories of Marlborough and Eugene prevented this
union of the two most powerful monarchies of Europe at that time, and
the treaty of Utrecht permanently guarded against it. The title of the
Duc d'Anjou to the Spanish throne was recognized, but only on the
condition that he renounced for himself and his descendants all claim to
the French crown,--while the French monarch renounced on his part for
his descendants all claim to the Spanish throne, which was to descend,
against ancient usages, to the male heirs alone. The Spanish Cortes and
the Parliament of Paris ratified this treaty, and it became incorporated
with the public law of Europe.

Up to this time the relations between England and France had been most
friendly. Louis Philippe had visited Queen Victoria at Windsor, and the
Queen of England had returned the visit to the French king with great
pomp at his chateau d'Eu, in Normandy, where magnificent fêtes followed.
Guizot and Lord Aberdeen, the English foreign minister, were also in
accord, both statesmen adopting a peace policy. This _entente cordiale_
between England and France had greatly strengthened the throne of Louis
Philippe, who thus had the moral support of England.

But this moral support was withdrawn when the king, in 1846, yielding to
ambition and dynastic interests, violated in substance the treaty of
Utrecht by marrying his son, the Duc de Montpensier, to the Infanta,
daughter of Christina the Queen of Spain, and second wife of Ferdinand
VII., the last of the Bourbon kings of Spain. Ferdinand left two
daughters by Queen Christina, but no son. By the Salic law his younger
brother Don Carlos was the legitimate heir to the throne; but his
ambitious wife, who controlled him, influenced him to alter the law of
succession, by which his eldest daughter became the heir. This bred a
civil war; but as Don Carlos was a bigot and tyrant, like all his
family, the liberal party in France and England brought all their
influence to secure the acknowledgment of the claims of Isabella, now
queen, under the regency of her mother Christina. But her younger
sister, the Infanta, was also a great matrimonial prize, since on the
failure of issue in case the young queen married, the Infanta would be
the heir to the crown. By the intrigues of Louis Philippe, aided by his
astute, able, but subservient minister Guizot, it was contrived to marry
the young queen to the Duke of Cadiz, one of the degenerate descendants
of Philip V., since no issue from the marriage was expected, in which
case the heir of the Infanta Donna Fernanda, married to the Duc de
Montpensier, would some day ascend the throne of Spain. The English
government, especially Lord Palmerston, who had succeeded Lord Aberdeen
as foreign secretary, was exceedingly indignant at this royal trick; for
Louis Philippe had distinctly promised Queen Victoria, when he
entertained her at his royal chateau in Normandy, that this marriage of
the Duc de Montpensier should not take place until Queen Isabella was
married and had children. Guizot also came in for a share of the
obloquy, and made a miserable defence. The result of the whole matter
was that the _entente cordiale_ between the governments of France and
England was broken,--a great misfortune to Louis Philippe; and the
English government was not only indignant in view of this insincerity,
treachery, and ambition on the part of the French king, but was
disappointed in not securing the hand of Queen Isabella for Prince
Leopold of Saxe-Coburg.

Meanwhile corruption became year by year more disgracefully flagrant. It
entered into every department of the government, and only by evident
corruption did the king retain his power. The eyes of the whole nation
were opened to his selfishness and grasping ambition to increase the
power and wealth of his family. In seven years a thousand million francs
had been added to the national debt. The government works being
completed, there was great distress among the laboring classes, and
government made no effort to relieve it. Consequently, there was an
increasing disaffection among the people, restrained from open violence
by a government becoming every day more despotic. Even the army was
alienated, having reaped nothing but barren laurels in Algeria.
Socialistic theories were openly discussed, and so able an historian as
Louis Blanc fanned the discontent. The Press grew more and more hostile,
seeing that the nation had been duped and mocked. But the most marked
feature of the times was excessive venality. "Talents, energy, and
eloquence," says Louis Blanc, "were alike devoted to making money. Even
literature and science were venal. All elevated sentiments were
forgotten in the brutal materialism which followed the thirst for gold."
The foundations of society were rapidly being undermined by dangerous
theories, and by general selfishness and luxury among the middle
classes. No reforms of importance took place. Even Guizot was as much
opposed to electoral extension as the Duke of Wellington. The king in
his old age became obstinate and callous, and would not listen to
advisers. The Prince de Joinville himself complained to his brother of
the inflexibility of his father. "His own will," said he, "must prevail
over everything. There are no longer any ministers. Everything rests
with the king."

Added to these evils, there was a failure of the potato crop and a
monetary crisis. The annual deficit was alarming. Loans were raised
with difficulty. No one came to the support of a throne which was felt
to be tottering. The liberal Press made the most of the difficulties to
fan the general discontent. It saw no remedy for increasing evils but in
parliamentary reform, and this, of course, was opposed by government.
The Chamber of Deputies, composed of rich men, had lost the confidence
of the nation. The clergy were irrevocably hostile to the government.
"Yes," said Lamartine, "a revolution is approaching; and it is a
revolution of contempt." The most alarming evil was the financial state
of the country. The expenses for the year 1847 were over fourteen
hundred millions, nearly four hundred millions above the receipts. Such
a state of things made loans necessary, which impaired the
national credit.

The universal discontent sought a vent in reform banquets, where
inflammatory speeches were made and reported. These banquets extended
over France, attended by a coalition of hostile parties, the chiefs of
which were Thiers, Odillon Barrot, De Tocqueville, Garnier-Pagès,
Lamartine, and Ledru-Rollin, who pointed out the evils of the times. At
last, in 1848, the opposition resolved on a great banquet in Paris, to
defy the government. The radicals sounded the alarm in the newspapers.
Terror seized all classes, and public business was suspended, for
revolution was in the air Men said to one another, "They will be
fighting in the streets soon."

The place selected for the banquet was in one of the retired streets
leading out of the Champs Elysées,--a large open space enclosed by
walls capable of seating six thousand people at table. The proposed
banquet, however, was changed to a procession, extending from the Place
of the Bastille to the Madeleine. The National Guard were invited to
attend without their arms, but in uniform. The government was justly
alarmed, for no one could tell what would come of it, although the
liberal chiefs declared that nothing hostile was meant. Louis Blanc,
however,--socialist, historian, journalist, agitator, leader among the
working classes,--meant blood. The more moderate now began to fear that
a collision would take place between the people and the military, and
that they would all be put down or massacred. They were not prepared for
an issue which would be the logical effect of the procession, and at the
eleventh hour concluded to abandon it. The government, thinking that the
crisis was passed, settled into an unaccountable repose. There were only
twenty thousand regular troops in the city. There ought to have been
eighty thousand; but Guizot was not the man for the occasion.

Meanwhile the National Guard began to fraternize with the people. The
popular agitation increased every hour. Soon matters again became
serious. Barricades were erected. There was consternation at the
Tuileries. A cabinet council was hastily called, with the view of a
change of ministers, and Guizot retired from the helm. The crowd
thickened in the streets, with hostile intent, and an accidental shot
precipitated the battle between the military and the mob. Thiers was
hastily sent for at the palace, and arrived at midnight. He refused
office unless joined by the man the king most detested, Odillon Barrot.
Loath was Louis Philippe to accept this great opposition chief as
minister of the interior, but there was no alternative between him and
war. The command of the army was taken from Generals Sébastiani and
Jacqueminot, and given to Marshal Bugeaud, while General Lamoricière
took the command of the National Guard.

The insurgents were not intimidated. They seized the churches, rang the
bells, sacked the gunsmith shops, and erected barricades. The old
marshal was now hampered by the Executive. He should have been made
dictator; but subordinate to the civil power, which was timid and
vacillating, he could not act with proper energy. Indeed, he had orders
not to fire, and his troops were too few and scattered to oppose the
surging mass. The Palais Royal was the first important place to be
abandoned, and its pictures and statues were scattered by the triumphant
mob. Then followed the attack on the Louvre and the Tuileries; then the
abdication of the king; and then his inglorious flight. The monarchy
had fallen.

Had Louis Philippe shown the courage and decision of his earlier years,
he might have preserved his throne. But he was now a timid old man, and
perhaps did not care to prolong his reign by massacre of his people. He
preferred dethronement and exile rather than see his capital deluged in
blood. Nor did he know whom to trust. Treachery and treason finished
what selfishness and hypocrisy had begun. Still, it is wonderful that he
preserved his power for eighteen years. He must have had great tact and
ability to have reigned so long amid the factions which divided France,
and which made a throne surrounded with republican institutions at that
time absurd and impossible.


Louis Blanc's Six Ans de Louis Philippe; Lamartine; Capefigue's
L'Histoire de Louis Philippe; Lives of Thiers and Guizot; Fyffe's Modern
Europe; Life of Lafayette; Annual Register; Mackenzie's Nineteenth
Century; Conversations with Thiers and Guizot.

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