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Title: Beacon Lights of History, Volume 10 - European Leaders
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Beacon Lights of History, Volume 10 - European Leaders" ***

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Social evils in England on the accession of William IV.
Political agitations.
Premiership of Lord Grey.
Aristocratic character of the reformers.
Lord John Russell.
The Reform Bill.
Its final passage.
Henry Brougham.
Lord Melbourne, Prime Minister.
Troubles in Ireland.
Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister.
His short administration.
Succeeded by Lord Melbourne.
Abolition of West India slavery.
Thomas Babington Macaulay.
Popular reforms.
Trades unions.
Reform of municipal corporations.
Death of William IV.
Penny postage.
Second ministry of Sir Robert Peel.
The Duke of Wellington.
Agitations for repeal of the Corn Laws.



Birth and education of Sir Robert Peel.
His conservative views.
His High Church principle.
Enters the Cabinet of Lord Liverpool.
Catholic Emancipation.
Resigns the representation of Oxford.
Member of Tamworth.
Opposes the Reform Bill.
Prime Minister in 1841.
Financial genius.
His sliding scale.
O'Connell's death.
The Factory Question.
Renewed charter of the Bank of England.
Financial measure.
Maynooth Grant.
Agitation for Free Trade.
Anti-Corn Association.
Cobden and Bright.
Free Trade leagues.
Free Trade Hall in Manchester.
Peel converted to Free Trade.
Disraeli leader of the Protectionists.
His virulent assaults on Peel.
Abolition of the Corn Laws.
Irish Coercion Bill.
Fall of the Peel Ministry.
Peel's great speech.
Chartist movement.
Its collapse.
Death of Sir Robert Peel.
Character of Sir Robert Peel.



The Roman Catholic Church.
The temporal power.
General desire of Italians for liberty.
Popular leaders.
The Carbonari.
Charles Albert.
Joseph Mazzini.
Young Italy.
Varied fortunes of Mazzini.
Marquis d'Azeglio.
His aspirations and labors.
Battle of Novara.
King Victor Emmanuel II.
Count Cavour.
His early days.
Prime Minister.
His prodigious labors.
His policy and aims.
His diplomacy.
Alliance with Louis Napoleon.
His wanderings and adventures.
Daniele Manin.
Takes part in the freedom of Italy.
Garibaldi in Caprera.
Peace of Villa-Franca.
Liberation of Naples and Sicily.
Flight of Francis II. of Naples.
Battle of Volturno.
Annexation of Naples to Sardinia.
Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy.
Venetian provinces annexed to Italy.
Withdrawal of French troops from Italy.
All Italy united under Victor Emmanuel.



Origin of the Russians.
Extension of Russian conquests.
Conquests of Catherine I.
Conquests of Alexander I.
Conquests of Nicholas.
Treaty of Adrianople.
Ambition and aims of Nicholas.
His character.
Prince Mentchikof.
Lord Stratford.
Causes of the Crimean War.
England and France in alliance with Turkey.
Occupation by Russia of the Danubian provinces.
War declared.
Lord Palmerston.
Lord Aberdeen.
Lord Raglan.
Marshal Saint-Arnaud.
English and French at Varna.
Invasion of the Crimea.
Battle of Alma.
Colonel Todleben.
Siege of Sebastopol.
Battle of Balaklava.
"The Light Brigade".
"The Heavy Brigade".
Battle of Inkerman.
Horrors of the siege.
General disasters.
Florence Nightingale.
Sardinia joins the allies.
Assault of Sebastopol.
Death of Lord Raglan.
Treaty of Paris.
Indecisive results of the war.
The Eastern Question.



Fortunes and adventures of Louis Napoleon.
The political agitations of 1848.
Louis Napoleon, President of the French Republic.
His Ministers.
The Coup d'État.
Usurpation of Louis Napoleon.
His tools.
His enemies.
Hostility of the leading statesmen of France.
Character of Louis Napoleon.
The Crimean War.
Alliance of France and England.
Lord Palmerston.
Stability of the Empire.
Prosperity of France.
Public Works.
Splendid successes of Napoleon III.
War with Austria.
Peace of Villa-Franca.
Improvements of Paris.
Mexican War.
Archduke Maxmilian.
Humiliations and shifts of Louis Napoleon.
War with Germany.
Indecision and incapacity of Louis Napoleon.
Battle of Worth.
Marshal Bazaine.
Battle of Sedan.
Fall of Napoleon III.
Calamities of France.



Humiliation of Prussia.
Her great deliverers.
Baron von Stein.
His financial genius.
His intense hatred of Napoleon.
His great reforms.
Disgrace of Stein.
Prince Hardenberg.
Baron von Humboldt.
New military organization.
Frederick William III.
German Confederation,
Diet of Frankfort.
Reaction of liberal sentiments.
Influence of Metternich.
Frederick William IV.
Rise of Bismarck.
Early days.
His unpopularity.
Diplomatist at the Diet of Frankfort.
Ambassador at St. Petersburg.
Death of Frederick William IV.
Bismarck, Prime Minister.
Increase of the army.
The Schleswig-Holstein Question.
Treaty of Vienna, 1864.
War between Austria and Prussia.
Count von Moltke.
Battle of Sadowa.
Great increase of Prussian territory and population.
New German Constitution.
War clouds--France and Luxembourg.
Conference at London.
King William at Paris.
Preparations and pretext for war with France.
Mobilization of German troops.
King William at Mayence.
Battle of Gravelotte.
Fall of Louis Napoleon at Sedan.
Siege and surrender of Paris.
King William crowned Emperor of Germany.
Labors of Bismarck.
His character.
Quarrel with the Catholics.
Socialism in Germany.
Bismarck's domestic policy.
Bismarck's famous speech, 1888.
Death of Emperor William.
Retirement of Bismarck.



Precocity of Gladstone.
Life at Oxford.
Enters Parliament.
Negro Emancipation.
Under-Secretary for the Colonies.
Ultra-Conservative principles.
His eloquence as member of Parliament.
His marriage.
Essay on Church and State.
Parliamentary leader.
Represents Oxford.
Letter on the Government of Naples.
Benjamin Disraeli.
Gladstone Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Opposes the Crimean War.
Great abilities as finance minister.
Conversion to Free Trade.
"Studies on Homer".
His mistake about the American War.
Defeat at Oxford.
Irish Questions.
Rivalry between Gladstone and Disraeli.
Gladstone, Prime Minister.
His great popularity.
Disestablishment of Irish Church.
Irish Land Bill.
Radical army changes.
Settlement of the Alabama claims.
Irish University Bill.
Fall of Gladstone's Ministry.
Influence of Gladstone in retirement.
Disraeli as Prime Minister.
Return of Gladstone to power.
His second administration.
Parliamentary defeat of Gladstone.
The Irish Question.



Bismarck at Versailles
_After the painting by Carl Wagner_.

William IV., King of England
_After the painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence_.

Sir Robert Peel
_From the engraving by Sartain_.

Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield
_From a photograph_.

Camillo Benso di Cavour
_From a photograph_.

Assassination of the Emperor Paul I. of Russia
_After the painting by H. Merté_.

Czar Nicholas I.
_After the painting by Horace Vernet_.

Capture of Napoleon III. at Boulogne
_After the painting by R. Gutschmidt_.

Louis Napoleon III.
_From a photograph_.

_After the painting by Franz von Lenbach_.

Count Von Moltke
_From a photograph from life_.

Proclamation of King William of Prussia as Emperor of
Germany, at Versailles
_After the painting by Anton von Werner_.

William Ewart Gladstone
_After a photograph from life_.





On the death of George IV. in 1830, a new political era dawned on
England. His brother, William IV., who succeeded him, was not his equal
in natural ability, but was more respectable in his character and more
liberal in his views. With William IV. began the undisputed ascendency
of the House of Commons in national affairs. Before his day, no prime
minister could govern against the will of the sovereign. After George
IV., as in France under Louis Philippe, "the king reigned, but did not
govern." The chief of the ascendent political party was the real ruler.

When William IV. ascended the throne the Tories were still in power, and
were hostile to reform. But the agitations and discontents of the latter
days of George IV. had made the ministry unpopular. Great political
reformers had arisen, like Lords Grey, Althorp, and Russell, and great
orators like Henry Brougham and Macaulay, who demanded a change in the
national policy. The social evils which stared everybody in the face
were a national disgrace; they made the boasted liberty of the English a
mockery. There was an unparalleled distress among the laboring classes,
especially in the mining and manufacturing districts. The price of labor
had diminished, while the price of bread had increased. So wretched was
the condition of the poor that there were constant riots and
insurrections, especially in large towns. In war times unskilled
laborers earned from twelve to fifteen shillings a week, and mechanics
twenty-five shillings; but in the stagnation of business which followed
peace, wages suffered a great reduction, and thousands could find no
work at all. The disbanding of the immense armies that had been
necessary to combat Napoleon threw out of employ perhaps half a million
of men, who became vagabonds, beggars, and paupers. The agricultural
classes did not suffer as much as operatives in mills, since they got a
high price for their grain; but the more remunerative agriculture became
to landlords, the more miserable were those laborers who paid all they
could earn to save themselves from absolute starvation. No foreign grain
could be imported until wheat had arisen to eighty shillings a
"quarter," [1]--which unjust law tended to the enrichment of
land-owners, and to a corresponding poverty among the laboring classes.
In addition to the high price which the people paid for bread, they were
taxed heavily upon everything imported, upon everything consumed, upon
the necessities and conveniences of life as well as its luxuries,--on
tea, on coffee, on sugar, on paper, on glass, on horses, on carriages,
on medicines,--since money had to be raised to pay the interest on the
national debt and to provide for the support of the government,
including pensions, sinecures, and general extravagance.

[Footnote 1: A quarter of a gross ton.]

In the poverty which enormous taxes and low wages together produced,
there were not only degradation and squalid misery in England at this
time, but violence and crime. And there was also great injustice in the
laws which punished crime. There were two hundred and twenty-three
offences punishable with death. If a starving peasant killed a hare, he
was summarily hanged. Catholics were persecuted for their opinions; Jews
were disqualified from holding office. Only men of comfortable means
were allowed to vote. The universities were closed against Dissenters.
No man stood any chance of political preferment unless he was rich or
was allied with the aristocracy, who controlled the House of Commons.
The nobles and squires not merely owned most of the landed property of
the realm, but by their "rotten boroughs" could send whom they pleased
to Parliament. In consequence the House of Commons did not represent the
nation, but only the privileged classes. It was as aristocratic as the
House of Lords.

In the period of repose which succeeded the excitements of war the
people began to see their own political insignificance, and to agitate
for reforms. A few noble-minded and able statesmen of the more liberal
party, if any political party could be called liberal, lifted up their
voices in Parliament for a redress of scandalous evils; but the
eloquence which distinguished them was a mere protest. They were in a
hopeless minority; nothing could be done to remove or ameliorate public
evils so long as the majority of the House of Commons were opposed to
reform. It is obvious that the only thing the reformers could do,
whether in or out of Parliament, was to agitate, to discuss, to hold
public meetings, to write political tracts, to change public opinion, to
bring such a pressure to bear on political aspirants as to insure an
election of members to the House of Commons who were favorable to
reform. For seven years this agitation had been going on during the
later years of the reign of George IV. It was seen and felt by everybody
that glaring public evils could not be removed until there should be a
reform in Parliament itself,--which meant an extension of the electoral
suffrage, by which more liberal and popular members might be elected.

On the accession of the new king, there was of course a new election of
members to the House of Commons. In consequence of the agitations of
reformers, public opinion had been changed, and a set of men were
returned to Parliament pledged to reform. The old Tory chieftains no
longer controlled the House of Commons, but Whig leaders like Brougham,
Macaulay, Althorp, and Lord John Russell,--men elected on the issue of
reform, and identified with the agitations in its favor.

The old Tory ministers who had ruled the country for fifty years went
out of office, and the Whigs came into power under the premiership of
Lord Grey. Although he was pledged to parliamentary reform, his cabinet
was composed entirely of noblemen, with only one exception. There was no
greater aristocrat in all England than this leader of reform,--a cold,
reticent, proud man. Lord Russell was also an aristocrat, being a
brother of the Duke of Bedford; so was Althorp, the son and heir of Earl
Spencer. The only man in the new cabinet of fearless liberality of
views, the idol of the people, a man of real genius and power, was
Brougham; but after he was made Lord Chancellor, the presiding officer
of the Chamber of Peers, he could no longer be relied upon as the
mouthpiece of the people, as he had been for years in the House of
Commons. It would almost seem that the new ministry thought more and
cared more for the dominion of the Whigs than they did for a redress of
the evils under which the nation groaned. But the Whigs were pledged to
parliamentary reform, and therefore were returned to Parliament. More at
least was expected of them by the middle classes, who formed the
electoral body, than of the Tories, who were hostile to all
reforms,--men like Wellington and Eldon, both political bigots,
great as were their talents and services. In politics the Tories
resembled the extreme Right in the French Chamber of Deputies,--the
ultra-conservatives, who sustained the throne of Charles X. The Whigs
bore more resemblance to the Centre of the Chamber of Deputies, led by
such men as Guizot, Broglie, and Thiers, favorable to a constitutional
monarchy, but by no means radicals and democrats like Louis Blanc, Ledru
Rollin, and Lamartine. The Whigs, at the best, were as yet inclined only
to such measures as would appease popular tumults, create an intelligent
support to the throne, and favor _necessary_ reform. It was, with them,
a choice between revolution and a fairer representation of the nation in
Parliament. It may be reasonably doubted whether there were a dozen men
in the House of Commons that assembled at the beginning of the reign of
William IV. who were democrats, or even men of popular sympathies. What
the majority conceded was from fear, rather than from a sense of
justice. The great Whig leaders of the reform movement probably did not
fully foresee the logical consequences of the Reform Bill which was
introduced, and the change which on its enactment would take place in
the English Constitution.

Even as it was, the struggle was tremendous. It was an epoch in English
history. The question absorbed all other interests and filled all men's
minds. It was whether the House of Commons should represent the
privileged and well-to-do middle classes or the nation,--at least a
larger part of the nation; not the people generally, but those who ought
to be represented,--those who paid considerable taxes to support the
government; large towns, as well as obscure hamlets owned by the
aristocracy. The popular agitation was so violent that experienced
statesmen feared a revolution which would endanger the throne itself.
Hence Lord Grey and his associates determined to carry the Reform Bill
at any cost, whatever might be the opposition, as the only thing to be
done if the nation would escape the perils of revolution.

Lord John Russell was selected by the government to introduce the bill
into the House of Commons. He was not regarded as the ablest of the Whig
statesmen who had promised reform. His person was not commanding, and
his voice was thin and feeble; but he was influential among the
aristocracy as being a brother of the Duke of Bedford, head of a most
illustrious house, and he had no enemies among the popular elements.
Russell had not the eloquence and power and learning of Brougham; but he
had great weight of character, tact, moderation, and parliamentary
experience. The great hero of reform, Henry Brougham, was, as we have
said, no longer in the House of Commons; but even had he been there he
was too impetuous, uncertain, and eccentric to be trusted with the
management of the bill. Knowing this, his party had elevated him to the
woolsack. He would have preferred the office of the Master of the Rolls,
a permanent judicial dignity, with a seat in the House of Commons; but
to this the king would not consent. Indeed, it was the king himself who
suggested the lord chancellorship for Brougham.

Lord Russell was, then, the most prominent advocate of the bill which
marked the administration of Lord Grey. It was a great occasion, March
1, 1831, when he unfolded his plan of reform to a full and anxious
assembly of aristocratic legislators. There was scarcely an unoccupied
seat in the House. At six o'clock he arose, and in a low and humble
manner invoked reason and justice in behalf of an enlarged
representation. He proposed to give the right of franchise to all
householders who paid £10 a year in rates, and who qualified to serve on
juries. He also proposed to disfranchise the numerous "rotten
boroughs" which were in the gift of noblemen and great landed
proprietors,--boroughs which had an insignificant number of voters; by
which measure one hundred and sixty-eight parliamentary vacancies would
occur. These vacancies were to be partially filled by sending two
members each from seven large towns, and one member each from twenty
smaller towns which were not represented in Parliament. Lord Russell
further proposed to send two members each from four districts of the
metropolis, which had a large population, and two additional members
each from twenty-six counties; these together would add ninety-four
members from towns and counties which had a large population. To obviate
the great expenses to which candidates were exposed in bringing voters
to the polls (amounting to £150,000 in Yorkshire alone), the bill
provided that the poll should be taken in different districts, and
should be closed in two days in the towns, and in three days in the
counties. The general result of the bill would be to increase the number
of electors five hundred thousand,--making nine hundred thousand in all.
We see how far this was from universal suffrage, giving less than a
million of voters in a population of twenty-five millions. Yet even so
moderate and reasonable an enlargement of the franchise created
astonishment, and was regarded by the opponents as subversive of the
British Constitution; and not without reason, since it threw political
power into the hands of the middle classes instead of into those of the

Lord Russell's motion was, of course, bitterly opposed by the Tories.
The first man who arose to speak against it was Sir H. Inglis, member of
the university of Oxford,--a fine classical scholar, an accomplished
gentleman, and an honest man. He maintained that the proposed alteration
in the representation of the country was nothing less than revolution.
He eulogized the system of rotten boroughs, since it favored the return
to Parliament of young men of great abilities, who without the patronage
of nobles would fail in popular elections; and he cited the cases of
Pitt, Fox, Burke, Canning, Perceval, and others who represented Appleby,
Old Sarum, Wendover, and other places almost without inhabitants. Sir
Charles Wetherell, Mr. Croker, and Sir Robert Peel, substantially took
the same view; Lord Althorp, Mr. Hume, O'Connell, and others supported
the government. Amid intense excitement, for everybody saw the momentous
issues at stake, leave was at length granted to Lord John Russell to
bring in his bill. No less than seventy-one persons in the course of
seven nights spoke for or against the measure. The Press, headed by the
"Times," rendered great assistance to the reform cause, while public
meetings were everywhere held and petitions sent to Parliament in favor
of the measure. The voice of the nation spoke in earnest and
decided tones.

On the 21st of March, 1831, Lord John Russell moved the second reading
of the bill; but the majority for it was so small that ministers were
compelled to make modifications. After a stormy debate there was a
majority of seventy-eight against the government. The ministers,
undaunted, at once induced the king to dissolve Parliament, and an
appeal was made to the nation. A general election followed, which sent
up an overwhelming majority of Liberal members, while many of the
leading members of the last Parliament lost their places. On the 21st of
June the new Parliament was opened by the king in person. He was
received with the wildest enthusiasm by the populace, as he proceeded in
state to the House of Lords in his gilded carriage, drawn by eight
cream-colored horses. On the 24th of June Lord John Russell again
introduced his bill, this time in a bold, manly, and decisive manner, in
striking contrast with the almost suppliant tone which he assumed
before. On the 4th of July the question of the second reading was
brought forward. The discussion was carried on for three nights, and on
division the great majority of one hundred and thirty-six was with the
government. The only hope of the opposition was now in delay; and
factious divisions were made on every point possible as the bill went
through the committee. The opposition was most vexatious. Praed made
twenty-two speeches against the bill, Sugden eighteen, Pelham
twenty-eight, Peel forty-eight, Croker fifty-seven, and Wetherell
fifty-eight. Of course the greater part of these speeches were
inexpressibly wearisome, and ministers were condemned to sit and listen
to the stale arguments, which were all that the opposition could make.
Never before in a legislative body was there such an amount of quibbling
and higgling, and "speaking against time;" and it was not till September
19 that the third reading came on, the obstructions in committee having
been so formidable and annoying. On the 22d of September the bill
finally passed in the House of Commons by a majority of one hundred and
six, after three months of stormy debate.

But the parliamentary battles were only partially fought; victory in the
end was certain, but was not yet obtained. It was necessary that the
bill should pass the House of Lords, where the opposition was

On the very evening of September 22 the bill was carried to the Lords,
and Lords Althorp and Russell, with one hundred other members of the
Commons, entered the Upper House with their message. The Lord Chancellor
Brougham advanced to the bar with the usual formalities, and received
the bill from the hands of Lord John Russell. He then resumed his seat
on the woolsack, and communicated to the assembled peers the nature of
the message. Earl Grey moved that the bill be read a first time, and the
time was agreed to. On the 3d of October the premier addressed the House
in support of the bill,--a measure which he had taken up in his youth,
not so much from sympathy with the people as from conviction of its
imperative necessity. There was great majesty in the manner of the
patrician minister as he addressed his peers; his eye sparkled with
intelligence, and his noble brow betokened resolution and firmness,
while his voice quivered with emotion. Less rhetorical than his great
colleague the Lord Chancellor, his speech riveted attention. For
forty-five years the aged peer had advocated parliamentary reform, and
his voice had been heard in unison with that of Fox before the French
Revolution had broken out. Lord Wharncliffe, one of the most moderate
and candid of his opponents, followed. Lord Melbourne, courteous and
inoffensive, supported the bill, because, as he said, he dreaded the
consequences of a refusal of concession to the demands of the people,
rather than because he loved reform, which he had previously opposed.
The Duke of Wellington of course uttered his warning protest, and was
listened to more from his fame as a warrior than from his merits as a
speaker. Lord Brougham delivered one of the most masterly of his great
efforts in favor of reform, and was answered by Lord Lyndhurst in a
speech scarcely inferior in mental force. The latter maintained that if
the bill became a law the Constitution would be swept away, and even a
republic be established on its ruins. Lord Tenterden, another great
lawyer, took the side of Lord Lyndhurst, followed in the same strain by
Dr. Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury. On a division, there was a
majority of forty-one peers against the bill.

The news spread with rapidity to every corner of the land that the Lords
had defeated the reform for which the nation clamored. Never in England
was there greater excitement. The abolition of the House of Lords was
everywhere discussed, and in many places angrily demanded. People could
do nothing but talk about the bill, and politics threw all business into
the shade. An imprudent speech from an influential popular leader might
have precipitated the revolution which the anti-reformers so greatly
dreaded. The disappointed people for the most part, however, restrained
their wrath, and contented themselves with closing their shops and
muffling their church bells. The bishops especially became objects of
popular detestation. The Duke of Newcastle and the Marquis of
Londonderry, being peculiarly obnoxious, were personally assailed by a
mob of incensed agitators. The Duke of Cumberland, brother of the king,
was dragged from his horse, while the mob demolished the windows of the
palace which the nation had given to the Duke of Wellington. Throughout
the country in all the large towns there were mobs and angry meetings
and serious disturbances. At Birmingham a rude and indignant meeting of
one hundred and fifty thousand people vented their wrath against those
who opposed their enfranchisement. The most alarming of the riots took
place in Bristol, of which Sir Charles Wetherell was the recorder, and
he barely escaped being murdered by the mob, who burned most of the
principal public buildings. The example of Bristol was followed in other
towns, and the whole country was in a state of alarm.

In the midst of these commotions Parliament was prorogued. But the
passage of the bill became more than ever an obvious necessity in order
to save the country from violence; and on December 12 Lord John Russell
brought forward his third Reform Bill, which, substantially like the
first, passed its second reading January 17, 1832, by the increased
majority of one hundred and sixty-two. When considered in committee the
old game of obstruction and procrastination was played by the
opposition; but in spite of it, the bill finally passed the House on the
23d of March.

The question which everybody now asked was, What will the Lords do? It
was certain that they would throw out the bill, as they did before,
unless extraordinary measures were taken by the government. The creation
of new peers, enough to carry the bill, was determined upon if
necessary, although regretted by Lord Grey. To this radical measure
there was great opposition on the part of the king, although he had thus
far given the bill his support; but the reformers insisted upon it, if
reform could not be accomplished in any other way. To use a vulgar
expression, Lord Brougham fairly "bulldozed" his sovereign, and the king
never forgave him. His assent was at last most reluctantly given; but
the peers, dreading the great accession to their ranks of sixty or
severity Liberal noblemen, concluded to give way, led by the Duke of
Wellington, and the bill passed the House of Lords on the 4th of June.

The Reform Bill of 1832 was the protest of the middle classes against
evils which had been endured for centuries,--a protest to which the
aristocracy was compelled to listen. Amid terrible animosities and
fearful agitations, reaching to the extremities of the kingdom, the bill
was finally passed by the Liberal members, who set aside all other
matters, and acted with great unanimity and resolution.

As noted above, during this exciting parliamentary contest the great
figure of Henry Brougham had disappeared from the House of Commons; but
more than any other man, he had prepared the way for those reforms which
the nation had so clamorously demanded, and which in part they had now
achieved. From 1820 to 1831 he had incessantly labored in the lower
House, and but little was done without his aid. It would have been
better for his fame had he remained a commoner. He was great not only as
a parliamentary orator, but as a lawyer. His labors were prodigious.
Altogether, at this period he was the most prominent man in England, the
most popular among the friends of reform, and the most hated by his
political enemies,--a fierce, overbearing man, with great talent for
invective and sarcasm, eccentric, versatile, with varied rather than
profound learning. When Lord Melbourne succeeded Lord Grey as premier,
Brougham was left out of the cabinet, being found to be irascible,
mischievous, and unpractical; he retired, an embittered man, to private
life, but not to idleness, He continued to write popular and scientific
essays, articles for reviews, and biographical sketches, taking an
interest in educational movements, and in all questions of the day. He
was always a lion in society, and, next to Sir Walter Scott, was the
object of greatest curiosity to American travellers. Although great as
statesman, orator, lawyer, and judge, his posthumous influence is small
compared with that which he wielded in his lifetime,--which, indeed, may
be said of most statesmen, the most noted exception to the rule being
Lord Bacon.

With Brougham in the upper House, Lord John Russell had become the most
prominent man in the lower; but being comparatively a poor man, he was
contented to be only paymaster of the forces,--the most lucrative office
in the government. His successful conduct of the great Reform Bill gave
him considerable prestige. In the second ministry of Lord Melbourne,
1834-1841, Lord Russell was at first colonial and afterward home
secretary. Whatever the post he filled, he filled it with credit, and
had the confidence of the country; for he was honest, liberal, and
sensible. He was not, however, an orator, although he subsequently
became a great debater. I have often heard him speak, both in and out of
Parliament; but I was never much impressed, or even interested. He had
that hesitating utterance so common with aristocratic speakers, both
clerical and lay, and which I believe is often assumed. In short, he
had no magnetism, without which no public speaker can interest an
ordinary audience; but he had intelligence, understood the temper of the
House, and belonged to a great historical family, which gave him
parliamentary influence. He represented the interests of the wealthy
middle classes,--liberal as a nobleman, but without any striking
sympathy with the people. After the passage of the Reform Bill, he was
unwilling to go to any great lengths in further reforms, and therefore
was unpopular with the radicals, although his spirit was progressive. It
was his persistent advocacy of parliamentary reform which had made him
prominent and famous, and it was his ability as a debater which kept him
at the head of his party. Historians speak of him without enthusiasm,
but with great respect. The notable orators of that day were O'Connell
and Brougham. As a platform speaker, probably no one ever surpassed the
Irish leader.

After the passage of the Reform Bill, the first thing of importance to
which the reform Parliament turned its attention was the condition of
Ireland. The crimes committed in that unfortunate country called loudly
for coercive measures on the part of the government. The murders, the
incendiary fires, the burglaries and felonious assaults, were
unprecedented in number and atrocity. The laws which had been passed for
the protection of life and property had become a dead letter in some of
the most populous districts. Jurors were afraid to attend the assizes,
and the nearest relatives of the victims dared not institute
proceedings; even magistrates were deterred from doing their duty. In
fact, crime went unpunished, and the country was rapidly sinking into
semi-barbarism. In the single year of 1832 there were two hundred and
forty-two homicides, eleven hundred and seventy-nine robberies, four
hundred and one burglaries, five hundred and sixty-eight house-burnings,
one hundred and sixty-one serious assaults, two hundred and three riots,
besides other crimes,--altogether to the number of over nine thousand. A
bill was accordingly brought into the Upper House by Lord Grey to give
to the lord-lieutenant power to substitute courts-martial for the
ordinary courts of justice, to enter houses for the purpose of searching
for arms, and to suspend the act of _habeas corpus_ in certain
districts. The bill passed the Lords without difficulty, but encountered
severe opposition in the House of Commons from the radical members and
from O'Connell and his followers. Nevertheless it passed, with some
alterations, and was at once put in force in the county of Kilkenny,
with satisfactory results. The diminution of crime was most marked; and
as the excuse for disturbances arose chiefly from the compulsory tithes
which the Catholic population were obliged to pay in support of the
Protestant Church, the ministry wisely attempted to alleviate the
grievance. It was doubtless a great injustice for Catholics to be
compelled to support the Established Church of England; but the ministry
were not prepared to go to the length which the radicals and the Irish
members demanded,--the complete suppression of the tithe system; in
other words, "the disestablishment of the Irish Church." They were
willing to sacrifice a portion of the tithes, to reduce the number of
bishops, and to apply some of the ecclesiastical property to secular
purposes. But even this concession called out a fierce outcry from the
conservatives, in and out of Parliament. A most formidable opposition
came from the House of Lords, headed by Lord Eldon; but the ministers
were at last permitted to carry out their measure.

Nothing satisfactory, however, was accomplished in reference to the
collection of tithes, in spite of the concession of the ministers. The
old difficulty remained. Tithes could not be collected except at the
point of the bayonet, which of course was followed by crimes and
disturbances that government could not prevent. In 1833 the arrears of
tithes amounted to over a million of pounds, and the Protestant clergy
were seriously distressed. The cost of collecting tithes was enormous,
from the large coercive force which the government was obliged to
maintain. When the pay of soldiers and policemen is considered, it took
£25,000 to collect £12,000. The collection of tithes became an
impossibility without a war of extermination. Every expedient failed.
Even the cabinet was divided on all the schemes proposed; for every
member of it was determined to uphold the Established Church, in some
form or other.

At last Mr. Ward, member for St. Albans, in 1834 brought forward in the
Commons a measure which had both reason and justice to commend it. After
showing that the collection of tithes was the real cause of Irish
discontents, that only a fourteenth of the population of Ireland were in
communion with the English Church, that nearly half of the clergy were
non-residents, and that there was a glaring inequality in the salaries
of clergymen,--so that some rectors received from £500 to £1,000 in
parishes where there were only ten or twelve Protestants, while some of
the resident clergy did duty for less than £20 per annum,--he moved the
following: "Resolved, that as the Protestant Episcopal Establishment of
Ireland exceeds the spiritual wants of the Protestant population, it is
the opinion of the House that the temporal possessions of the Church of
Ireland ought to be reduced." The motion was seconded by Mr. Grote, the
celebrated historian; but Lord Althorp rose and requested the House to
adjourn, in consequence of circumstances he was not prepared to mention.
All understood that there was trouble in the cabinet itself; and when
the House reassembled, it was found that the Duke of Richmond, Earl
Ripon, Lord Stanley (colonial secretary), and Sir James Graham, being
opposed to the appropriation of the funds of the Irish Church to other
than ecclesiastical purposes, had resigned. The king himself was
strongly opposed to the motion, to say nothing of the peers; and the
conservative part of the nation, from the long-inherited jealousy of the
Catholic Church, stood upon the same ground.

While ministers were tinkering on the affairs of Ireland, without lofty
purpose or sense of justice or enlightened reason even, the gigantic
figure of O'Connell appeared in striking contrast with the statesmen who
opposed him and tried in vain to intimidate him. The great agitator had
made his power felt long before the stormy debates in favor of reform
took place, which called out the energies of Brougham,--the only man in
England to be compared with O'Connell in genius, in eloquence, in
intellect, and in wrath, but inferior to him in the power of moving the
passions of an audience, yet again vastly superior to him in learning.
While Brougham was thundering in the senate in behalf of reform,--the
most influential and the most feared of all its members, without whose
aid nothing could be done,--O'Connell was haranguing the whole Catholic
population of Ireland in favor of a repeal of the Union, looking upon
the evils which ground down his countrymen as beyond a remedy under the
English government. He also made his voice ring with startling vehemence
in the English Parliament, as soon as the Catholic Emancipation bill
enabled him to enter it as the member from Clare, always advocating
justice and humanity, whatever the subject under consideration might be.
So long as O'Connell was "king of Ireland," as William IV declared him
to be, nothing could be done by English ministers on Irish matters. His
agitations were tremendous, and yet he kept within the laws. His mission
was to point out evils rather than to remove them. No man living was
capable of pointing out the remedy. On all Irish questions the wisdom
and experience of English statesmen were in vain. Yet amid the storms
which beat over the unhappy island, the voice of the great pilot was
louder than the tempests, which he seems to control as if by magic. Mr.
Gladstone, in one of his later contributions to literature, has done
justice to the motives and the genius of a man whom he regards as the
greatest that Ireland has ever produced, if Burke may be excepted, yet a
man whom he bitterly opposed in his parliamentary career. Faithful alike
to the interests of his church and his country, O'Connell will ever be
ranked among the most imposing names of history, although he failed in
the cause to which he consecrated his talents, his fortune, his
energies, and his fame. Long and illustrious is the list of reformers
who have been unsuccessful; and Mr. O'Connell must be classed with
these. Yet was he one who did not live in vain.

Incapable of effectively dealing with the problem, the government
temporized and resolved to stave off the difficulty. A commission was
appointed to visit every parish in Ireland and report the state of
affairs to Parliament, when everybody already knew what this state
was,--one of glaring inequality and injustice, exceedingly galling to
the Catholic population. Nor was this the only Irish Church question
that endangered the stability of the ministry. Tithe bill after tithe
bill had been passed, and all alike had failed. Mr. Ward had argued for
the entire abolition of the tithe system, from the expense and
difficulty of collecting tithes, leaving the clergy to be supported by
the crown. A new tithe bill was, however, introduced, by which the
clergy should accept something short of what they were entitled to by
law. Not only was the tithing system an apparently inextricable tangle,
but there was trouble about the renewal of the Coercion Act. Lord Grey,
wearied with political life, resigned the premiership, and Lord
Melbourne succeeded him,--a statesman who cared next to nothing for
reform; not an incapable man, but lazy, genial, and easy, whose
watchword was, "Can't you let it alone?" But he did not long retain
office, the king being dissatisfied with his ministers; and Sir Robert
Peel, being then at Rome, was sent for to head the new administration in
July, 1834. It may be here remarked that Mr. Gladstone first took office
under this government. Parliament, of course, was dissolved, and a new
election took place. The Whigs lost thereby much of their power, but
still were a majority in the House, and the new Tory government found
that the Irish difficulties were a very hard nut to crack.

The new Parliament met Feb. 15, 1835; and as the new government came
into power by defeating the Whigs on the subject of the Irish Church, it
was bound to offer some remedy for the trouble which existed.
Accordingly, Lord Morpeth, the eldest son of the Earl of Carlisle, and
closely allied with the Duke of Sutherland and other great
families,--agreeable, kindly, and winning in his manners, and of very
respectable abilities,--on June 26 introduced his Tithe Bill, by which
he proposed to convert the tithe itself into a rent-charge, reducing it
to a lower amount than the late Whig government had done. His bill,
however, came to nothing, since any appropriation clearly dealing with
surplus revenues failed to satisfy the Lords.

Before anything could be done with Ireland, the Peel ministry was
dissolved, and the Whigs returned to power, April 18, 1835, with Lord
Melbourne again as prime minister. But the Irish difficulties remained
the same, the conservatives refusing to agree to any bill which dealt
with any part of the revenues of the State church; and the question was
not finally settled for Ireland till after it was settled in England.

Thus the reformed Parliament failed in its attempt to remove the
difficulties which attended Irish legislation. It failed from the
obstinacy of the conservatives, among Whigs as well as Tories, to render
justice in the matter of rates and tithes,--the great cause of Irish
discontent and violence at that time. It will be seen that new
complications arose with every successive Parliament from that time to
this, landlords finding it as difficult to collect their rents as the
clergy did their tithes. And these difficulties appear to be as great
to-day as they were fifty years ago. It still remains to be seen how
Ireland can be satisfactorily governed by any English ministry likely to
be formed. On that rock government after government, both liberal and
conservative, has been wrecked, and probably will continue to be wrecked
long after the present generation has passed away, until the English
nation itself learns to take a larger view, and seeks justice rather
than the conservation of vested interests.

But if the reformed Parliament failed to restore order in Ireland, and
to render that justice which should have followed the liberal principles
it invoked, yet in matters strictly English great progress was made in
the removal of crying evils.

Among these was the abolition of slavery in the British West India
Islands, which as early as 1833 occupied the attention of the House,
even before the discussion on Irish affairs. The slave-trade had been
suppressed long before this, through the untiring labors and zeal of
Wilberforce, Zachary Macaulay (father of the historian), and other
philanthropists. But the evils of slavery still existed,--cruelty and
oppression on the part of slave-owners, and hardships and suffering on
the part of slaves. Half-caste women were bought and sold, and flogged
and branded. As early as 1823 Fowell Buxton, then in Parliament,
furnished with facts by Zachary Macaulay, who had been manager of a West
India estate, brought in a motion for the abolition of slavery. Canning
was then the leading member of the House of Commons; although he did not
go so far as Buxton, still he did something to remedy the evils of the
system, and was supported by Brougham, Mackintosh, and Lushington,--so
that the flogging of women was abolished, and married slaves were not
separated from their children. In 1830, Henry Brougham introduced a
motion for the total abolition of slavery in the British colonies, and
thrilled the House by his eloquence and passion; but his motion was
defeated. When the new reform Parliament met in 1831, more pressing
questions occupied its attention; but at length, in 1833, Buxton made a
forcible appeal to ministers to sweep away the greatest scandal of the
age. He was supported by Lord Stanley, then colonial secretary, who
eloquently defended the cause of liberty and humanity; and he moved that
effectual measures be at once taken to abolish slavery altogether, with
some modifications. Thomas Babington Macaulay, who had entered
Parliament in 1830, also brought all his eloquence to bear in behalf of
the cause; and the upshot of the discussion was that Parliament set free
the slaves, and their masters received twenty millions of pounds as a
compensation. Thus the long agitation of fifty years pertaining to negro
emancipation in the British dominions was closed forever. The heart of
England was profoundly moved by this act of blended justice, humanity,
and generosity, which has been quoted with pride by every Englishman
from that time to this. Possibly a similar national assumption of the
vast expense of recompensing English owners of Irish lands may at some
time relieve Ireland of alien landlordism and England of her
greatest reproach.

The condition of Hindostan next received the attention of Parliament;
and on the renewal of the charter of the East India Company, in 1833,
its commercial monopoly was abolished, and trade with the East was
thrown open to the merchants of all the world. The political
jurisdiction of the Company was, however, retained.

The new Parliament then turned its attention to a reduction of taxes.
The duty on tiles was repealed; also the two-shilling stamp duty on
advertisements, together with the vexatious duty on soap. Dramatic
copyrights also received protection, and an improvement in the judicial
administration was effected. Sinecure offices were abolished in the
Court of Chancery, and the laws of dower and inheritance were amended.

The members most active in these reforms were Lord Althorp, Daniel
O'Connell, Joseph Hume, and William Cobbett. Lord Althorp, afterward
Earl Spencer, made not less than one thousand speeches, and O'Connell
six hundred, in support of these reforms,--all tending to a decrease
in taxation, made feasible by the great increase of wealth and the
abolition of useless offices.

The Trade Unions (a combination of operatives to secure improvement in
their condition) marked the year 1834, besides legislative enactments to
reduce taxation. Before 1824 it was illegal for workmen to combine, even
in the most peaceable manner, for the purpose of obtaining an increase
of wages. This injustice was removed the following year, and strikes
became numerous among the different working-classes, but were generally
easily suppressed by the capitalists, who were becoming a great power
with the return to national prosperity. For fifty years the vexed social
problem of "strikes" has been discussed, but is not yet solved, giving
intense solicitude to capitalists and corporations, and equal hope to
operatives. The year 1834, then, showed the commencement of the great
war between capital and labor which is so damaging to all business
operations, and the ultimate issue of which cannot be predicted with
certainty,--but which will probably lead to a great amelioration of the
condition of the working-classes and the curtailment of the incomes of
rich men, especially those engaged in trade and manufactures. There will
always be, without doubt, disproportionate fortunes, and capitalists can
combine as well as laborers; but if the strikes which are multiplying
year by year in all the countries of Europe and the United States should
end in a great increase of wages, so as to make workmen comfortable (for
they will never be contented), the movement will prove beneficent.
Already far more has been accomplished for the relief of the poor by a
combination of laborers against hard-hearted employers than by any
legislative enactments; but when will the contest between capital and
labor cease? Is it pessimism to say that it is likely to become more
and more desperate?

The "Poor Law Amendment" was passed July, 1834, during the
administration of Lord Melbourne,--Lord Grey having resigned, from the
infirmities of age and the difficulties of carrying on the government.
He had held office nearly four years, which exceeded the term of his
predecessor the Duke of Wellington; and only four premiers have held
office for a longer period since 1754. The Poor Law Amendment, supported
by all political parties, was passed in view of the burdensome amount of
poor rates and the superior condition of the pauper to that of many an
independent laborer.

The ill management of the beer-houses led to another act in 1834,
requiring a license to sell beer, which was granted only to persons who
could produce a certificate of good character from six respectable
inhabitants of a parish.

The session of Parliament in 1834 was further marked by a repeal of the
house tax, by grants for building schoolhouses, by the abolition of
sinecure offices in the House of Commons, and by giving new facilities
for the circulation of foreign newspapers through the mails. There was
little or no opposition to reforms which did not interfere with landed
interests and the affairs of Ireland. Even Sir Robert Peel, in his
short administration, was not unfriendly to extending privileges to
Dissenters, nor to judicial, municipal, and economical reform generally.

The most important of the measures brought forward by Whig ministers
under Lord Melbourne was the reform of municipal corporations. For two
hundred years the abuses connected with these corporations had been
subjects of complaint, but could not easily be remedied, in consequence
of the perversion of municipal institutions to political ends. The venal
boroughs, which both Whig and Tory magnates controlled, were the chief
seats of abuses and scandals. When these boroughs were disfranchised by
the Reform Bill, a way was opened for the local government of a town by
its permanent residents, instead of the appointment of magistrates by a
board which perpetuated itself, and which was controlled by the owners
of boroughs in the interests of the aristocracy. In consequence of the
passing of the municipal reform act, through the powerful advocacy of
Lord John Russell, the government of the town passed to its own
citizens, and became more or less democratic, not materially differing
from the government of cities in the United States. Under able popular
leaders, the towns not only became a new political power in Parliament,
but enjoyed the privilege of electing their own magistrates and
regulating their domestic affairs,--such as the police, schools, the
lighting of streets, and public improvements generally.

Besides this important act, some other salutary measures for the general
good were carried by parliamentary leaders,--such as enlarging the
copyrights of authors, lecturers, and dramatists; abolishing
imprisonment for debt for small sums; amending the highway and the
marriage laws; enforcing uniformity in weights and measures, regulating
prison discipline, and commuting death punishment for many crimes. These
reforms, having but little reference to partisan politics, received the
approbation of both Whigs and Tories. Most of the important bills which
passed the Parliament from the accession of William IV., however, were
directly or indirectly the result of the Reform Bill of 1832, which had
enlarged the representation of the people.

William IV. died in January, 1837, after a short but prosperous reign of
seven years, much lamented by the nation. He was a frank, patriotic, and
unconventional king, who accepted the reforms which made his reign an
epoch. At his death there were more distinguished men in all departments
of politics, literature, science, and art in Great Britain than at any
previous period, and the condition of the people was more ameliorated
than had been known since the Reformation. A great series of reforms had
been peaceably effected without revolution; the kingdom was unusually
prosperous; so that Queen Victoria, William's niece, the daughter of his
brother the Duke of Kent (whose previous death had made Victoria
heir-apparent to the throne), entered upon her illustrious reign under
hopeful auspices, June 21, 1837. The reform spirit had passed through no
reactions, and all measures which were beneficent in their tendency were
favorably considered.

In 1837 Mr. Rowland Hill proposed the startling suggestion that all
existing rates of postage should be abolished, and the penny postage
substituted for all parts of the kingdom, irrespective of distance. This
was not at first accepted by the government or post-office officials;
but its desirableness was so apparent that Parliament yielded to the
popular voice and it became a law, with increased gain ultimately to the
national finances, to say nothing of its immense influence in increasing
knowledge. The old postage law had proved oppressive to all classes
except members of Parliament, who had the franking privilege, which the
new law abolished. Under the old system, the average of letters mailed
was annually only four to each person. In 1875 it was thirty-three, and
the net revenue to the nation was nearly two million pounds sterling.

Another great reform was effected in the early part of the reign of
Victoria,--that of the criminal code, effected chiefly through the
persevering eloquence of Sir James Mackintosh; although Sir Samuel
Romilly, an eminent and benevolent barrister, as early as 1808, had
labored for the same end. But thirty years had made a great change of
opinion in reference to the punishment of crime, which was cruelly
severe. Capital offences numbered at the beginning of the century nearly
two hundred and fifty, some of which were almost venial; but in 1837
only seven crimes were punishable with death, and the accused were
allowed benefit of counsel. Before this, the culprit could be condemned
without a hearing,--a gross violation of justice, which did not exist
even under the imperial despotism of the Caesars.

Such were the most important measures passed by the reformed Parliament
during the ten years' administration of the Whigs, most of which were
the logical results of the Reform Bill of 1832, which made the reign of
William IV. the most memorable in the domestic history of England since
the great Revolution which hurled the Stuarts from their throne. But the
country was not satisfied with these beneficent reforms. A great
agitation had already begun, under the leadership of Cobden and Bright,
for a repeal of the Corn Laws. The half measures of the Liberal
government displeased all parties, and the annual deficit had made it
unpopular. After vainly struggling against the tide of discontent, the
Melbourne ministry was compelled to resign, and in 1841 began the second
ministry of Sir Robert Peel, which gave power to the Tories for five or
six years. Lord Lyndhurst returned to his seat on the woolsack, Mr.
Goulburn was appointed chancellor of the exchequer, Sir James Graham
became home secretary, Lord Aberdeen took the foreign department, and
Lord Stanley the colonial office. Into this cabinet Mr. Gladstone
entered as president of the board of trade, on the retirement of
Earl Ripon.

The Duke of Wellington also had a seat in the cabinet, but held no
office, his age and infirmities preventing him from active duties. He
was "the grand old man" of his generation, and had received unparalleled
honors, chiefly for his military services,--the greatest general whom
England has produced, if we except Marlborough. Although his fame rests
on his victories in a great national crisis, he was also an able
statesman,--sensible, practical, patriotic; a man of prejudices, yet not
without tact; of inflexible will, yet yielding to overpowering
necessities, and accepting political defeat as he did the loss of a
battle, gracefully and magnanimously. If he had not, however, been a
popular idol for his military exploits, he would have been detested by
the people; for no one in England was more aristocratic in his
sympathies than he, no one was fonder of honors and fashionable
distinctions, no one had a more genuine contempt for whatever was
plebeian and democratic.

In coming lectures,--on Sir Robert Peel, Gladstone, etc.,--we shall find
occasion to trace the course of Victoria's beneficent reign over Great
Britain, beginning (as it did) after the abuses and distresses
culminating under George IV. had been largely relieved during the
memorable reform epoch under William IV.


Miss Martineau's History of England; Molesworth's History of England;
Mackenzie's History of the Nineteenth Century, Alison's History of
Europe; Annual Register; Lives of Lord Brougham, Wellington, Lord
Melbourne, Lord John Russell, Lord Liverpool, and Sir Robert Peel. These
are the most accessible authorities, but the list is very large.




Among the great prime ministers of England Sir Robert Peel is to be
classed. He ranks with Pitt, Canning, and Gladstone for his intellectual
force, his services, and his patriotism. He was to England what Guizot
and Thiers were to France,--a pre-eminent statesman, identified with
great movements, learned, eloquent, and wise. He was a man of unsullied
character, commanding the respect and veneration of superior
minds,--reserved and cold, perhaps; not a popular idol like Fox and
O'Connell, but a leader of men.

There was no man in his cabinet more gifted or influential than he. Lord
Liverpool, Lord Melbourne, and Lord Aberdeen were placed in their
exalted posts, not for remarkable abilities, but by the force of
circumstances, for the purpose of uniting greater men than they in a
coalition in order to form a strong government. Thus, Canning really was
the master spirit in the cabinet of Lord Liverpool, as Lord Palmerston
was in that of Lord Aberdeen. Peel, however, was himself the controlling
intellect of the government of which he was the head, and was doubtless
superior in attainments and political genius to Wellington, to Earl
Grey, and Lord John Russell,--premiers like him, and prominent as
statesmen. Lord Goderich, Lord Stanley, Lord Althorp, Sir James Graham,
Mr. Goulburn, Lord Wharncliffe, Lord Howick, Earl Ripon, Mr. C. Wood,
Mr. Macaulay, Mr. Croker, were all very able ministers, but not to be
compared with Sir Robert Peel in shaping the destinies of the country.
His administration was an epoch in English political history, to be long
remembered as singularly successful and important.

Sir Robert Peel came from the people, although his father was a baronet
and a very wealthy man, proud and aristocratic as he was rich. His
riches were acquired by manufacturing cotton goods, like those of his
father before him, whose business he inherited; but the
great-grandfather of Sir Robert was a plain and unimportant cotton
spinner in Lancashire, of no social rank whatever. No noble blood flowed
in the veins of the great premier, nor was he ever ambitious of
aristocratic distinction. He declined an earldom, though rich enough to
maintain its rank. He accepted no higher social rank than what he
inherited, and which came from successful business.

But Peel was educated with great care by an ambitious father. He was
sent to Harrow and Christ Church, and was distinguished as a boy for his
classical attainments, as was Canning before him. At an early age he
reached all the honors that Oxford could bestow; and when he was only
twenty-one was brought into Parliament for the close borough of Cashel,
in Ireland, in the gift of some noble lord. He entered the House of
Commons in 1809, at the same time with Palmerston, and a few years
earlier than Lord John Russell, during that memorable period when
Napoleon was in the midst of his victories, and when a noble
constellation of English statesmen combined their energies for the good
of their country,--Wilberforce, Wyndham, Tierney, Perceval, Grattan,
Castlereagh, Canning, Romilly, Brougham, Mackintosh, Huskisson, and
others,--all trained in the school of Pitt, Fox, or Burke, who had
passed away. Among these great men Peel made his way, not so much by
force of original genius--blazing and kindling like the eloquence of
Canning and Brougham--as by assiduity in business, untiring industry,
and in speech lucidity of statement, close reasoning, and perfect
mastery of his subject in all its details. He was pre-eminently a man of
facts rather than theories. Like Canning and Gladstone, he was
ultra-conservative in his early political life,--probably in a great
measure from his father's example as well as from the force of his
university surroundings,--and, of course, joined the Tory party, then
all-powerful. So precocious were his attainments, and so promising was
he from the force of his character, that at the age of twenty-four he
was made, by Mr. Perceval, under-secretary for the Colonies; the year
after (in 1812) he was promoted, by Lord Liverpool, to the more
important post of secretary for Ireland. In the latter post he had to
combat Canning himself in the matter of Catholic emancipation, but did
his best to promote secular education in that priest-ridden and unhappy
country. For his High Church views and advocacy of Tory principles,
which he had been taught at Oxford, he was a favorite with the
university; and in 1817 he had the distinguished honor of representing
it in Parliament. In 1819 he made his financial reputation by advocating
a return to specie payments,--suspended in consequence of the Napoleonic
wars. In 1820 he was married to a daughter of General Sir John Floyd,
and his beautiful domestic life was enhanced by his love of art, of
science, of agriculture, and the society of eminent men. In 1822 he
entered Lord Liverpool's cabinet as home secretary; and when the
ministry was broken up in 1827, he refused to serve in the new
government under Canning, on account of the liberal views which the
premier entertained in reference to Catholic emancipation.

The necessity of this just measure Sir Robert Peel was made to feel
after Canning's death, during the administration of the Duke of
Wellington. Conservative as he was, and opposed to all agitations for
religious or political change even under the name of "reform," the fiery
eloquence of O'Connell and the menacing power of the Catholic
Association forced upon him the conviction of the necessity of Catholic
emancipation, as the cold reasoning of Richard Cobden afterward turned
him from a protectionist to a free-trader. He was essentially an honest
man, always open to reason and truth, learning wisdom from experience,
and growing more liberal as he advanced in years. He brought the Duke of
Wellington to his views in spite of that minister's inveterate
prejudices, and the Catholics of Ireland were emancipated as an act of
expediency and state necessity. Peel, although only home secretary under
Wellington, was the prominent member of the administration, and was
practically the leader of the House of Commons, in which character he
himself introduced the bill for Catholic relief. This great service was,
however, regarded by the ultra Tories as an act of apostasy, and Peel
incurred so much reproach from his former friends that he resigned his
seat as member for Oxford University, and accepted the constituency of
Westbury. During this administration, too, Sir Robert, as home
secretary, reorganized the police force of London (whence their popular
nicknames of "Peelers" and "Bobbies"), and performed other
important services.

In 1830 the Whigs came into power under Lord Grey, and for ten years,
with the brief interval of his first administration, Sir Robert Peel was
the most able leader of the opposition. In 1833 he accepted the
parliamentary membership for Tamworth, which he retained to the end of
his great career. He persistently opposed the Reform Bill in all its
stages; but when it was finally passed, he accepted it as unmistakably
the will of the nation, and even advocated many of the reforms which
grew out of it. In 1841 he again became prime minister, in an alarming
financial crisis; and it was his ability in extricating the nation from
financial difficulties that won for him general admiration.

Thus for thirty years he served in Parliament before he reached the
summit of political ambition,--half of which period he was a member of
the ministry, learning experience from successive administrations, and
forging the weapons by which he controlled the conservative party, until
his conversion to the doctrines of Cobden again exposed him to the
bitter wrath of the protectionists; but not until he had triumphantly
carried the repeal of the corn laws,--the most important and beneficent
act of legislation since the passage of the Reform Bill itself.

It was this great public service on which the fame of Sir Robert Peel
chiefly rests; but before we can present it according to its Historical
importance, we must briefly glance at the financial measures by which he
extricated his country from great embarrassments, and won public
confidence and esteem. He did for England what Alexander Hamilton did
for the United States in matters of finance, although as inferior to
Hamilton in original genius as he was superior to him in general
knowledge and purity of moral character. No one man can be everything,
even if the object of unbounded admiration. To every great man a
peculiar mission is given,--to one as lawgiver, to another as conqueror,
to a third as teacher, to a fourth as organizer and administrator; and
these missions, in their immense variety, constitute the life and soul
of history. Sir Robert Peel's mission was that of a financier and
political economist, which, next to that of warrior, brings the greatest
influence and fame in a commercial and manufacturing country like
England. Not for lofty sentiments, such as Burke uttered on the eve of
the French Revolution, are the highest rewards given in a material
country like that of our ancestors, but for the skill a man shows in
expounding the way in which a nation may become prosperous and rich. It
was Sir Robert Peel's mission to make England commercially prosperous,
even as it was that of Brougham and Russell to give it liberty and
political privileges, that of Pitt and Castlereagh to save it from
foreign conquest, and that of Wilberforce to rescue it from the disgrace
and infamy of negro slavery.

Sir Robert Peel came into power in 1841, the Russell Whig ministry
having failed to satisfy the country in regard to financial questions.
There had been an annual deficit, and the distress of both the
agricultural and manufacturing classes was alarming. The new premier
proceeded with caution in the adoption of measures to relieve the
burdens of the people and straighten out the finances, which were in
great disorder. His first measure had reference to the corn laws, for
the price of food in England was greater than in other European
countries. He finally proposed to the assembled Parliament, in 1842, to
make an essential alteration in the duties; and instead of a fixed duty
he introduced a sliding scale, by which the duty on corn should be
thirteen shillings a quarter[2] when the price was under sixty
shillings, increasing the duty in proportion as the price should fall,
and decreasing it as the price should rise,--so that when the price of
corn was under fifty shillings the duty should be fixed at twenty
shillings, and when the price was above seventy-three the duty should be
only a shilling a quarter. This plan, after animated discussion, was
approved; for although protection still was continued, the tendency of
the measure was towards free-trade, for which the reformers were
clamoring. Notwithstanding this measure, which was triumphantly carried
through both Houses, the prevailing distress continued, and the revenue
was steadily diminishing. To provide revenue, Peel introduced an income
tax of seven pence in the pound, to stand for three years; and to offset
that again lowered the import duties on domestic animals, dairy
products, other articles of food, and some drugs.

[Footnote 2: "The fourth of a ton in weight, or eight bushels of

When Parliament assembled in 1843 the discussions centred on free-trade.
Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone and Sir James Graham admitted the
general soundness of the principles of free-trade, but felt that the
time had not yet come for their adoption, fearing an increased distress
among the agricultural population. At that time, and for a long period
before, the interests of agriculture were regarded as paramount, and
those of manufacturing secondary; but, as time passed, it was generally
felt that reduced taxes on all the necessities of life were imperative.
Fifty years earlier, England produced corn enough for all the wants of
the country; but with a population increasing at the rate of two hundred
thousand a year, it was obvious that the farmers could not supply the
demand. In consequence of which, at then existing tariffs, bread became
yearly still dearer, which bore hard on the manufacturing operatives.

The year 1844 opened under happier auspices. The financial measures of
the government had answered public expectations, and changed the growing
deficiency into an increasing surplus. Improvements in machinery had
increased the gains of the manufacturers; a war in India had been
terminated successfully, and England was at peace with all the world.
The only formidable troubles were in Ireland,--the standing difficulty
with all administrations, Conservative or Liberal, and which no
administration has ever been able to surmount. Sir Robert Peel had hoped
that the Catholic Emancipation Act would lead to the tranquillity of
Ireland. But that act did not content the Irish reformers. The fiercest
agitation was conducted by O'Connell for the repeal of the Union itself
and the restoration of the Irish parliament. At bottom, the demands of
the great agitator were not unreasonable, since he demanded equal
political privileges for both Ireland and England if the Union should
continue,--that, in short, there should be one law for both countries.
But since the ministry insisted on governing Ireland as a foreign and
conquered country, denying equality of rights, the agitation grew to
fearful proportions, chiefly in the shape of monster meetings. At last
the government determined on the prosecution of O'Connell and some
others for seditious conspiracy, and went so far as to strike off the
name of every Catholic on the jury which was to try him. The trial
lasted twenty-four days, and the prisoners were convicted. The hard and
unjust sentence on O'Connell himself was imprisonment for twelve months
and a fine of two thousand pounds. Against this decision an appeal was
made to the House of Lords, and the judgment of the court was reversed.
But the old man had already been imprisoned several weeks; his
condemnation and imprisonment had told on his rugged constitution. He
was nearly seventy years of age, and was worn out by excitement and
unparalleled labors; and although he tried to continue his patriotic
work, he soon after sickened, and in 1847 died on his way to Rome in
search of rest.

O'Connell's death did not end the agitations, which have continued from
that time to this with more or less asperity, and probably will continue
until justice shall be done to Ireland. It is plain that either Ireland
should be left free to legislate for herself, which would virtually be
the dismemberment of the empire; or should receive equal privileges with
the English; or should be coerced with an iron hand, which would
depopulate the country. It would seem that Ireland, if it is to form
part of the empire,--not as a colony, but an integral part, like the
different States of the American Union,--should be governed by the same
laws that England has, and enjoy the same representation of its
population. Probably there never will be order or tranquillity in the
island until it shall receive that justice which the prejudices of the
English will not permit them at present to grant,--so slow are all
reforms which have to contend with bigotry, ignorance, and selfishness.
The chain which binds nations and communities together must be a chain
of love, without reference to differences in color, religion, or race.

In the session of 1844 the factory question occupied a large share of
public attention. Lord Ashley, whose philanthropic aims commanded great
respect, contended for a limitation of the hours of labor. The ministry
insisted upon twelve hours; but Lord Ashley carried his measure, with
some amendments, the government being brought over to the side of
humanity. The result was that the working-hours of children under
thirteen was limited to six and a half hours, and the amount of fines
imposed for a violation of the laws was lowered; while a provision was
made for the instruction of children employed in the mills of three
hours in summer, and two and a half in the winter.

The confidence in the government showed itself in the rise of public
securities, so that it became practicable to reduce the interest on
consols (the consolidated government debt) from three and a half to
three percent, by which a saving accrued to the country of £1,250,000,
indicating general prosperity. The income increased with the revival of
trade and commerce, and the customs alone increased to nearly
£2,500,000, chiefly from duties on tea and sugar, which increasing
prosperity enabled the poorer classes to use more freely. The surplus of
the revenue amounted to over £4,000,000 sterling, owing largely to the
income tax, which now the ministers proposed to reduce. The charter of
the Bank of England was renewed in a form which modified the whole
banking system in England. The banking business of the Bank was placed
on the same footing with other institutions as to its power of issuing
notes, which beyond a certain amount should depend on the amount of
bullion in the Bank. Substantially, this was the same principle which
Daniel Webster advocated in the United States Senate,--that all
bank-notes should be redeemable in gold and silver; in other words, that
a specie basis is the only sound principle, whether in banking
operations or in government securities, for the amount of notes issued.
This tended to great stability in the financial world, as the Bank of
England, although a private joint-stock association, has from its
foundation in 1694 been practically the fiscal agent of the
government,--having the management of the public debt, paying dividends
upon it, holding the government moneys, making advances when necessary,
helping the collection of the public revenue, and being the central bank
of the other banks.

In addition to the financial measures by which Sir Robert Peel increased
the revenues of the country, and gave to it a greater degree of material
prosperity than it had enjoyed during the century, he attempted to
soothe the Catholics of Ireland by increasing the grant to the Roman
Catholic College of Maynooth, in Ireland; indeed, he changed the annual
grant to a permanent endowment, but only through a fierce opposition. He
trebled the grant for national education, and exhibited increasing
liberality of mind as he gained experience. But his great exploit was
the repeal of the corn laws, in a Parliament where more than three
quarters of the members represented agricultural districts, and were
naturally on the side of a protection of their own interests. In order
to appreciate more clearly the magnitude of this movement, we must trace
it from the beginning.

The centre of agitation for free-trade, especially in breadstuff's, was
Manchester,--the second city of the kingdom for wealth, population, and
influence, taking in the surrounding towns,--a very uninteresting place
to the tourist and traveller; dingy, smoky, and rainy, without imposing
architecture or beautiful streets; but a town of great intellectual
activity in all matters pertaining to industrial enterprise and
economical science,--the head centre of unpoetical materialism, where
most of the well-to-do people dined at one o'clock.

As soon as this town was permitted to send members to Parliament it
selected eminent free-traders,--Poulett Thomson and Mark Phillips,--who
distinguished themselves for the fearlessness of their speeches on an
unpopular subject. The agitation in Parliament had begun in 1836, at a
period of great depression in all kinds of business and consequent
suffering among the poor; but neither London nor the House of Commons
was so favorable to the agitation of the principles of free-trade as
Manchester was, and the subject began to be discussed throughout the
country. An unknown man by the name of Poulton was the first to gain
attention by his popular harangues; and he was soon followed by Richard
Cobden,--a successful calico printer.

An Anti-Corn-Law Association was started by these pioneers, and £1,800
were raised by small subscriptions to enlighten the people on the
principles of free-trade, when protection was the settled policy of the
government. The Association was soon after reinforced by John Bright, an
exceedingly brilliant popular orator, who was rich enough to devote a
large part of his time to the spread of his opinions. Between him and
Cobden a friendship and cordial co-operation sprang up, which lasted to
the death of the latter. They were convinced that the cause which they
had so much at heart could be effectually advanced only by the widest
dissemination of its principles by public meetings, by tracts and by
lectures. It was their aim to change public opinion, for all efforts
would be in vain unless the people--and especially their leaders--were
enlightened on the principles they advocated. They had faith in the
ultimate triumph of these principles because they believed them to be
true. From simple faith in the power of truth they headed the most
tremendous agitation known in England since the passage of the Reform
Bill. It was their mission to show conclusively to all intelligent
people that it was for the interest of the country to abolish the corn
laws, and that the manufacturing classes would be the most signally
benefited. To effect this purpose it was necessary to raise a large sum
of money; and the friends and advocates of the movement most liberally
subscribed to circulate the millions of tracts and newspapers which the
Association scattered into every hamlet and private family in England,
besides the members personally giving their time and effort in public
speeches and lectures in all parts of the country. "It was felt that the
battle of free-trade must be fought first by the conversion of
individuals, then at the hustings, and lastly in the House of Commons."

The principle of protecting the country against the importation of
foreign breadstuffs was upheld as fostering the agricultural interests,
as inciting the larger cultivation of poor lands, as providing against
dangerous dependence on foreign countries, and as helping the large
landowners and their tenants to patronize manufactures and trade; so
that, although the high prices of breadstuffs were keeping vast numbers
of people in misery and the country on the edge of revolution, the
protectionist doctrine was believed in religiously by the laboring
classes, the small shopkeepers, nearly all the educated classes, and a
large majority of the members of Parliament.

To combat this unshaken traditional belief was a gigantic undertaking.
It was the battle of reason and truth against prejudice and
bigotry,--the battle of a new enlightenment of general interests against
the selfishness of unenlightened classes. While Villiers and Thomson
appealed to members in the House of Commons, Cobden and Bright with
still greater eloquence directly addressed the people in the largest
halls that could be found. In 1838 Cobden persuaded the Chamber of
Commerce in Manchester to petition Parliament for a repeal of the duties
on corn. In 1839, the agitation spreading, petitions went up from
various parts of the country bearing two million signatures. The motion
to repeal, however, was lost by a large majority in the Commons. Then
began the organization of Free-Trade Leagues. In 1841 a meeting in
Manchester was held, at which were present seven hundred nonconformist
ministers, so effectually had conversions been made among intelligent
men. Nor did the accession of the conservative Sir Robert Peel to power
discourage the agitators, for in the same year (1841) Cobden was sent to
Parliament. Meetings were still more frequently held in all the towns of
the kingdom, A bazaar held in favor of the cause in the Theatre Royal,
Manchester, in 1842, produced a clear profit of £10,000. In 1843 the
great Free-Trade Hall was opened in Manchester, built expressly for
public meetings for the anti corn-law agitation, and the sum of £150,000
was raised by private subscription to disseminate knowledge. At last,
recognizing with keen instinct the inevitable turn in public opinion,
the "Times" came out with a leading article of great power, showing a
change of views on the subject of protection. Great noblemen, one after
another, joined the League, and the Marquis of Westminster contributed
£500 to the cause.

The free-trade movement was now recognized as a great fact which it was
folly to ignore. Encouraged by the constant accession to the ranks of
reform, the leaders of the League turned their attention to the
registration of voters, by which many spurious claims for seats were
annulled, and new members of Parliament were chosen to advocate
free-trade. At last, in 1846, Sir Robert Peel himself, after having been
for nearly his whole career a protectionist, gave in his adhesion to the
new principles. Cobden, among others, had convinced him that the
prosperity of the country depended on free-trade, and he nobly made his
recantation, to the intense disgust of many of his former
followers,--especially of Disraeli, who now appears in Parliament as a
leader of the protectionists.

This brilliant man, who in 1837, at the age of thirty-two, took his seat
in Parliament, had made no impression in that body for several years;
but having learned from early failures his weak points, and by careful
study of the successes of others trained himself to an effective style
of parliamentary speech, he became, at the critical time of Peel's
change of front, the representative of Shrewsbury, and gradually
organized about himself the dissatisfaction and indignation of the
landed proprietors with Sir Robert Peel's concessions to the free-trade
movement. His strictures on Peel were severe, caustic, and bitter.
"What," said this eloquent speaker, "shall we think of the eminent
statesman, who, having served under four sovereigns, who, having been
called to steer the ship on so many occasions and under such perilous
circumstances, has only during the last three or four years found it
necessary entirely to change his convictions on that most important
topic, which must have presented itself for more than a quarter of a
century to his consideration? I must, sir, say that such a minister may
be conscientious, but he is unfortunate.... It is all very well for the
right honorable gentleman to come forward and say, 'I am thinking of
posterity; my aim is heroic; and, appealing to posterity, I care neither
for your cheers nor for your taunts,' It is very well for the right
honorable gentleman to take this high-flying course, but I can but say
that my conception of a great statesman is one who represents a great
idea,--I do not care whether he is a manufacturer or a manufacturer's
son. I care not what may be the position of a man who never originates
an idea,--a watcher of the atmosphere,--a man who, as he says, 'takes
his observations,' and when he finds the wind in a certain quarter trims
his sails to suit it. Such a man may be a powerful minister, but he is
no more a great statesman than a man who gets up behind a carriage is a
great whip."

All this tirade was very unjust,--though it pleased the
protectionists,--for Sir Robert Peel was great enough to listen to
arguments and reason, and give up his old sentiments when he found them
untenable, even if he broke up his party. His country was greater in
his eyes than any party.

As prime minister, Peel then unfolded his plans. He announced his
intention to abandon the sliding scale entirely, and gradually reduce
the duty on corn and other articles of necessity so that at the end of
three or four years the duty would be taken off altogether. This plan
did not fully satisfy the League, who argued for immediate repeal.
Indeed, there was a necessity. The poor harvests in England and the
potato-rot in Ireland were producing the most fearful and painful
results. A large part of the laboring population was starving. Never
before had there been greater distress. On the 2d of March, 1846, the
ministerial plan had to go through the ordeal of a free-trade attack.
Mr. Villiers proposed an amendment that would result in the immediate
and total repeal of the corn laws. Nevertheless, the original bill
passed the Commons by a majority of ninety-eight.

It was at once carried to the House of Lords, where it encountered, as
was expected, the fiercest opposition, no less than fifty-three lords
taking part in the discussion. The Duke of Wellington, seeing that the
corn laws were doomed, and that further opposition would only aggravate
the public distress, supported the bill, as did Lord Aberdeen and other
strong conservatives, and it was finally carried by a majority of

Before the bill for the virtual repeal of the corn laws was passed by
the House of Lords, the administration of Sir Robert Peel abruptly
closed. An Irish coercion bill had been introduced by the government,
not very wisely, even while the corn bill was under discussion by the
Commons. The bill was of course opposed by the Irish followers of
O'Connell, and by many of the Liberal party. The radical members, led by
Cobden and Bright, were sure to oppose it. The protectionists, full of
wrath, and seeing their opportunity to overthrow the government, joined
the Liberals and the Irish members, and this coalition threw out the
bill by a majority of seventy-three. The government of course resigned.

Nor was the premier loath to throw off his burdens amid calumny and
reproach. He cheerfully retired to private life. He concluded the
address on his resignation, after having paid a magnificent tribute to
Cobden--by whose perseverance, energy, honesty of conviction, and
unadorned eloquence the great corn-law reform had been thus far
advanced--in these words: "In quitting power, I shall leave a name
severely blamed, I fear, by many men, who, without personal interest but
only with a view of the public good, will bitterly deplore the rupture
of party ties, from a belief that fidelity to party engagements and the
maintenance of great parties are powerful and essential means of
government. [I fear also] that I shall be blamed by others who, without
personal interest, adhere to the principles of protection, which they
regard as necessary to the prospects of the country; that I shall leave
a name detested by all monopolists, who, from less honorable motives,
claim a protection by which they largely profit. But I shall perhaps
leave a name which will sometimes be pronounced by expressions of
good-will by those whose lot in this world is to labor, who in the sweat
of their brow eat their daily bread; and who may remember me when they
renew their strength by food at once abundant and untaxed, and which
will be the better relished because no longer embittered by any feeling
of injustice." He then resumed his seat amidst the loudest applause from
all sides of the House; and when he left Westminster Hall, leaning on
the arm of Sir George Clark, a vast multitude filled the street, and
with uncovered heads accompanied him in respectful silence to the door
of his house.

Sir Robert Peel continued to attend the meetings of Parliament as an
independent member, making no factious opposition, and giving his
support to every measure he approved,--more as a sage than a partisan,
having in view mainly the good of the country whose government he no
longer led.

It was soon after Peel's retirement from office that O'Connell, too,
made his last speech in the House of Commons, not as formerly in
trumpet tones, but with enfeebled voice. "I am afraid," said the
fainting athlete, "that the House is not sufficiently aware of the
extent of the misery in Ireland. I do not think that members understand
the accumulated miseries under which the people are at present
suffering. It has been estimated that five thousand adults and ten
thousand children have already perished with famine, and that
twenty-five per cent of the whole population will perish, unless the
House will afford effective relief. I assure the House most solemnly
that I am not exaggerating; I can establish all that I have said by many
and painful proofs. And the necessary result must be typhus fever, which
in fact has already broken out, and is desolating whole districts; it
leaves alive only one in ten of those whom it attacks." This appeal
doubtless had its effect in demonstrating the absolute need of a repeal
of the corn laws. But it is as the "liberator" of the Roman Catholic
population of Ireland in the great emancipation struggle,--triumphantly
concluded as early as 1829,--and the incessant labors after that for the
enlargement of Irish conditions, that O'Connell will be remembered.
"Honor, glory, and eternal gratitude," exclaimed Lacordaire, "to the man
who collected in his powerful hand the scattered elements of justice and
deliverance, and who, pushing them to their logical conclusions with a
vigorous patience which thirty years could not exhaust, at last poured
on his country the unhoped-for delight of liberty of conscience, and
thus deserved not only the title of Liberator of his Country but the
oecumenical title of Liberator of his Church."

O'Connell, Cobden, and Sir Robert Peel,--what great names in the history
of England in the agitating period between the passage of the Reform
Bill and that of the repeal of the corn laws! I could add other
illustrious names,--especially those of Brougham and Lord John Russell;
but the sun of glory around the name of the first was dimmed after his
lord chancellorship, while that of the latter was yet to blaze more
brightly when he assumed the premiership on the retirement of his great
predecessor, with such able assistants as Lord Palmerston, Earl Grey,
Macaulay, and others. These men, as Whigs, carried out more fully the
liberal and economic measures which Sir Robert Peel had inaugurated amid
a storm of wrath from his former supporters, reminding one of the fury
and disappointment of the higher and wealthy classes when Mr.
Gladstone--a still bolder reformer, although nursed and cradled in the
tenets of monopolists--introduced his measures for the relief
of Ireland.

During the administration of Sir Robert Peel there was another agitation
which at one time threatened serious consequences, but as it came to
nothing it has not the historical importance of the Anti-Corn-Law
League. It was a fanatical uprising of the lower classes to obtain still
greater political privileges, led by extreme radicals, of whom Mr.
Feargus O'Connor was the most prominent leader, and Mr. Henry Vincent
was the most popular speaker. The centre of this movement was not
Manchester, but Birmingham. The operatives of Manchester wanted cheaper
bread; those of Birmingham wanted an extension of the franchise: and as
Lord John Russell had opposed the re-opening of the reform question, the
radicals were both disappointed and infuriated. The original leaders of
parliamentary reform had no sympathy with such a rabble as now clamored
for extended reform. They demanded universal suffrage, annual
Parliaments, vote by ballot, abolition of property qualifications,
payment of members of Parliament, and the division of the country into
equal electoral districts. These were the six points of the people's
charter,--not absurd to the eyes of Americans, but utterly out of the
question in such an aristocratic country as England, and advocated only
by the working-classes and their incendiary leaders. Discontent and
misery were the chief causes of the movement, which was managed without
ability. The agitation began in 1836 and continued to 1848. At first the
government allowed it, so far as it was confined to meetings, speeches,
and the circulation of tracts,--knowing full well that, as it made no
appeal to the influential and intelligent classes, it would soon expend
itself. I was lecturing at the time in Birmingham, and the movement
excited contempt rather than alarm among the people I met. I heard
Vincent two or three times in his chapel,--for I believe he was educated
as a dissenting minister of some sort,--but his eloquence made no
impression upon me; it was clever and fluent enough, but shallow and
frothy. At last he was foolishly arrested by the government, who had
really nothing to fear from him, and imprisoned at Newport in Wales.

In England reforms have been effected only by appeals to reason and
intelligence, and not by violence. Infuriated mobs, successful in France
in overturning governments and thrones, have been easily repressed in
England with comparatively little bloodshed; for power has ever been
lodged in the hands of the upper and middle classes, intolerant of
threatened violence. In England, since the time of Cromwell, revolutions
have been bloodless; and reforms have been gradual,--to meet pressing
necessities, or to remove glaring injustice and wrongs, never to
introduce an impractical equality or to realize visionary theories. And
they have ever been effected through Parliament. All popular agitations
have failed unless they have appealed to reason and right.

Thus the People's Charter movement, beginning about 1838, was a signal
failure, because from the practical side it involved no great principles
of political economy, nothing that enriches a nation; and from the side
of popular rights it was premature, crude, and represented no
intelligent desire on the part of the people. It was a movement nursed
in discontent, and carried on with bitterness and illegal violence. It
was wild, visionary, and bitter from the start, and arose at a period
when the English people were in economic distress, and when all Europe
was convulsed with insurrectionary uprisings, and revolutionary
principles were mixed up with socialism and anarchy. The Chartist
agitation continued with meetings and riots and national conventions
until 1848, when the Revolution in France gave a great impulse to it.

At last some danger was apprehended from the monster meetings and
inflammatory speeches of the Chartists, and government resolved to
suppress the whole movement by the strong arm. The police force
throughout the kingdom was strengthened, and one hundred and seventy
thousand special constables were sworn in, while extensive military
preparations were intrusted to the Duke of Wellington. The Chartists,
overrating their strength, held a great meeting on Kensington Common,
and sent a petition of more than five millions of names to the House of
Commons; but instead of half a million who were expected to assemble on
the Common with guns and pikes, only a few thousand dared to meet, and
the petition itself was discovered to be forged, chiefly with fictitious
names. It was a battle on the part of the agitators without ball
cartridges, in which nothing was to be seen but smoke. Ridicule and
contempt overwhelmed the leaders, and the movement collapsed.

Although the charter failed to become law, the enfranchisement of the
people has been gradually enlarged by Parliament in true deliberate
English fashion, as we shall see in future lectures. Perhaps the
Chartist movement may have ripped up the old sod and prepared the soil
for the later peaceful growth; but in itself it accomplished nothing for
which it was undertaken.

The repeal of the corn laws in 1846 was followed, as was the Reform Bill
of 1832, by a series of other reforms of a similar kind,--all in the
direction of free-trade, which from that time has continued to be the
established principle of English legislation on all the great
necessities of life. Scarcely had Lord John Russell in 1846 taken the
helm of state, when the duties on sugar were abolished, no
discrimination being shown between sugar raised in the British colony of
Jamaica and that which was raised in Cuba and other parts of the world.
The navigation laws, which prohibited the importation of goods except
in British ships, or ships which belonged to the country where the goods
were produced, were repealed or greatly modified. The whole colonial
system was also revised, especially in Canada; and sanitary measures
were taken to prevent disease in all the large towns of the country.

In the midst of these various reforms, which the government under Lord
John Russell prosecuted with great zeal and ability, and by which a
marked improvement took place in the condition of the people, Sir Robert
Peel was thrown from his horse in London, June 29, 1850, and survived
but a few days. His accidental death created universal lamentation, for
everybody felt that a great national loss had occurred. In spite of the
bitterness of the monopolists, disappointed in their gains, no death was
ever more seriously and universally lamented in England. Other statesmen
blazed upon their contemporaries with more brilliant original genius
than Peel, but no one ever had more force of character than he, or was
more respected for his candor, truthfulness, and patriotism. If he had
not the divination to originate, he showed transcendent ability in
appropriating and making his own the worthy conceptions of others. He
was among those few statesmen who are willing to renounce the dearest
opinions of youth and the prejudices of manhood when convinced of their

Peel was a great administrator and a great debater. His character was
austere, his temperament was cold, his manners were awkward and shy; he
was chary in the bestowal of pensions and rewards; and by reason of his
rather unsympathetic nature he never was a favorite with artists and
literary men. It was his conviction that literary men were not
sufficiently practical to be intrusted with political office. Hence he
refused to make Monckton Milnes an under-secretary of state. When
Gladstone published his book on Church and State, being then a young
man, it is said that Peel threw it contemptuously on the floor,
exclaiming, "What a pity it is that so able a man should injure his
political prospects by writing such trash!" Nor was Peel sufficiently
passionate to become a great orator like O'Connell or Mirabeau; and yet
he was a great man, and the nation was ultimately grateful for the
services he rendered to his country and to civilization. Had his useful
and practical life been prolonged, he probably would again have taken
the helm of state. He was always equal to the occasion; but no occasion
was sufficiently great to give him the _éclat_ which Pitt enjoyed in the
wars of Napoleon. Under the administration of Peel the country was at
peace, and no such internal dangers threatened it as those which marked
the passage of the Reform Bill.

Sir Robert Peel was one of the most successful ministers that England
ever had. Certainly no minister was ever more venerated than he; and
even the Duke of Wellington did nothing without his advice and
co-operation. In fact, he led the ministry of the duke as Canning did
that of the Earl of Liverpool; and had he been less shy and reserved, he
would not have passed as so proud a man, and would have been more
popular. There is no trait of character in a great man less understood
than what we call pride, which often is not pride at all, but excessive
shyness and reserve, based on sensitiveness and caution rather than
self-exaggeration and egotism.

Few statesmen have done more than Peel to advance the material interests
of the people; yet he never was a popular idol, and his history fails to
kindle the enthusiasm with which we study the political career of Pitt
or Canning or Disraeli or Gladstone. He was regarded as a great
potentate rather than as a great genius; and he loved to make his power
felt irrespective of praise or censure from literary men, to whom he was
civil enough, but whose society he did not court. Politics were the
element in which he lived, and politicians were his chief associates
outside the family circle, which he adorned. And yet when distinguished
merit in the Church or in the field of literature was brought to his
notice, he was ready to reward it.

As a proof of the growing fame of Sir Robert Peel, no less than three
biographies of him have lately been issued from the Press. Such, after a
lapse of forty years, indicates the lasting reputation he has won as a
statesman; but as a statesman only. He filled no other sphere. He was
not a lawyer like Brougham; not a novelist like Beaconsfield; not a
historian like Macaulay; not an essayist and reviewer like Gladstone. He
was contented to be a great parliamentary leader alone.


Molesworth's History of England; Miss Martineau's History of England;
Justin McCarthy's Life of Sir Robert Peel; Alison's History of
Europe,--all of which should be read in connection with the Lives of
contemporary statesmen, especially of Cobden, Bright, and Lord John
Russell. The Lives of foreign statesmen shed but little light, since the
public acts of Sir Robert Peel were chiefly confined to the domestic
history of England.




The most interesting and perhaps important event in the history of
Europe in the interval between the fall of Napoleon I. and that of
Napoleon III., a period of fifty-six years,--from 1815 to 1871,--was
that which united the Italians under the government of Victor Emmanuel
as a constitutional monarchy, free of all interference by
foreign Powers.

The freedom and unity of Italy are to be considered, however, only from
a political point of view. The spiritual power still remains in the
hands of the Pope, who reigns as an ecclesiastical monarch over not only
Italy but all Roman Catholic countries, as the popes have reigned for a
thousand years. That venerable and august despotism was not assailed, or
even modified, in the separation of the temporal from the spiritual
powers. It was rather, probably, increased in influence. At no time
since the Reformation has the spiritual authority of the Roman Pontiff
been greater than it is at the present day. Nor can any one, however
gifted and wise, foretell when that authority will be diminished. "The
Holy Father" still reigns and is likely long to reign as the vicegerent
of the Almighty in all matters of church government in Catholic
countries, and as the recognized interpreter of their religious faith.
So long as people remain Roman Catholics, they must remain in allegiance
to the head of their church. They may cease to be Catholics, and no
temporal harm will happen to them; but the awful power remains over
those who continue to abide within the pale of the Church. Of his
spiritual subjects the Pope exacts, as he has exacted for centuries,
absolute and unconditional obedience through his ministers,--one great
hierarchy of priests; the most complete and powerful mechanism our world
has seen for good or evil, built up on the experience of ten centuries,
and generally directed by consummate sagacity and inflexibility
of purpose.

I have nothing here to say against this majestic sovereignty, which is
an institution rather than a religion. Most of the purely religious
dogmas which it defends and enforces are equally the dogmas of a
majority of the Protestant churches, founded on the teachings of Christ
and his apostles. The doctrines of Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas,
the great authorities of the Catholic Church, were substantially
embraced by Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, and the Westminster divines. The
Protestants rebelled mainly against the usurpations and corruptions of
the Catholic Church as an institution, not against the creed of the
Fathers and schoolmen and theological doctors in all Catholic countries.
The Nicene and Apostles' creeds bind together all orthodox Christians,
whether of the Roman or Greek or Protestant churches.

Thus, in speaking of the liberation and unity of Italy as effected by an
illustrious band of patriots, aided by friendly powers and fortunate
circumstances, I mean freedom in a political sense. The papal yoke, so
far as it was a yoke, was broken only in a temporal point of view. The
Pope lost only his dominions as a temporal sovereign,--nothing of his
dignity as an ecclesiastical monarch; and we are to consider his
opposition to Victor Emmanuel and other liberators chiefly as that of a
temporal prince, like Ferdinand of Naples. The great Italian revolution
which established the sovereignty of the King of Sardinia over the whole
peninsula was purely a political movement. Religious ideas had little or
nothing to do with it. Communists and infidels may have fought under the
standards of Mazzini and Garibaldi, but only to gain political
privileges and rights. Italy remained after the revolution, as before, a
Catholic country.

In considering this revolution, which destroyed the power of petty
tyrants and the authority of foreign despots, which gave a free
constitution and national unity to the whole country,--the rule of one
man by the will of the people, and the checks which a freely elected
legislature imposes,--it will be my aim to present chiefly the labors
and sacrifices of a very remarkable band of patriots, working in
different ways and channels for the common good, and assisted in their
work by the aid of friendly States and potentates. But underneath and
apart from the matchless patriotism and ability of a few great men like
D'Azeglio, Mazzini, Garibaldi, Manin, Cavour, and, not least, the King
of Sardinia himself,--who reigned at Turin as a constitutional monarch
before the revolution,--should be mentioned the almost universal passion
of the Italian people to throw off the yokes which oppressed them,
whether imposed by the King of Naples, or by the Pope as a temporal
prince, or by Austria, or by the various princes who had divided between
them the territories of the peninsula,--diverse, yet banded together to
establish their respective tyrannies, and to suppress liberal ideas of
government and all reforms whatsoever. All who could read and write, and
even many who could not, except those who were dependent on the
government or hopelessly wedded to the ideas and institutions of the
Middle Ages,--that conservative class to be found in every country, who
cling to the past and dread the future,--had caught the contagion
spread by the apostles of liberty in France, in Spain, in Greece, in
England. The professors and students in the universities, professional
men, and the well-to-do of the middle classes were foremost in their
discontent and in their zeal for reform. They did not agree in their
theories of government, nor did they unite on any definite plan
for relief. Many were utterly impractical and visionary; some
were at war with any settled government, and hated all wholesome
restraints,--communists and infidels, who would destroy, without
substituting anything better instead; some were in favor of a pure
democracy, and others of representative governments; some wanted a
republic, and others a constitutional monarchy: but all wanted a change.

There was one cry, one watchword common to all,--_Personal
liberty_!--freedom to act and speak without the fear of inquisitions,
spies, informers, prisons, and exile. In Naples, in Rome, in Bologna, in
Venice, in Florence, in Milan, in Turin, there was this universal desire
for personal liberty, and the resolution to get it at any cost. It was
the soul of Italy going out in sympathy with all liberators and patriots
throughout the world, intensified by the utterances of poets and
martyrs, and kept burning by all the traditions of the past,--by the
glories of classic Rome; and by the aspirations of the _renaissance_,
when art, literature, and commerce revived. The common people united
with their intellectual leaders in seeking something which would break
their chains. They alike responded to the cries of patriotism, in some
form or other. "Emancipate us from our tyrants, and we will follow you
wherever you choose to lead," was the feeling of all classes. "We don't
care who rules us, or what form government may take, provided we are
personally free."

In addition to this passion for personal liberty was also the desire for
a united Italy,--a patriotic sentiment confined however to men of great
intelligence, who scarcely expected such a boon, so great were the
difficulties and obstacles which stared them in the face. It was
impossible for the liberators of Italy to have effected so marvellous a
movement if the material on which they worked had not been so impulsive
and inflammable.

It required an uncommon degree of patriotic ardor on the part of the
mass of the people to follow leaders like Garibaldi and Mazzini,--one of
whom was rash to audacity, and the other visionary; and neither of whom
had the confidence of the government at Turin, which, however, was not
disposed to throw cold water on their enterprises or seriously to
interfere with them. One thing is clear,--that had not the Italians, on
the whole, been ripe for revolution it could not have succeeded; as in
France the _coup d'état_ of 1851, which enabled Louis Napoleon to mount
the throne, could not have succeeded twenty years earlier when he made
his rash attempt at Strasburg. All successful revolutions require the
ready assent--nay, even the enthusiasm--of the people. The Italian
revolution was based on popular discontent in all parts of the country
where the people were oppressed, and on their enthusiastic aspirations
for a change of rulers. What could any man of genius, however great his
abilities, have done without this support of the people? What could the
leaders of the American Revolution have done unless the thirteen
colonies had rallied around them? Certainly no liberated people ever
supported their leaders with greater enthusiasm and more self-sacrifices
than the Italians. Had they been as degraded as has sometimes been
represented, they would not have fought so bravely.

The Italian revolution in its origin dates back as early as 1820, when
the secret societies were formed--especially that of the Carbonari--with
a view to shake the existing despotisms. The Carbonari ("charcoal
burners"), as they called themselves, were organized first at Naples.
This uprising (at first successful) in Naples and Piedmont was put down
by Austrian bayonets, and the old order of things was restored. A
constitutional government had been promised to various Italian States by
the first Napoleon in 1796. when he invited the Italians to rally to
his standard and overthrow the Bourbon and Austrian despotisms; but his
promises had not been kept. "Never," said that great liar to Prince
Metternich, "will I give the Italians a liberal system: I have granted
to them only the semblance of it." Equally false were the promises made
by Austrian generals in 1813, when the Italians were urged to join in
the dethronement of the great conqueror who had drafted them into his
armies without compensation.

Though Italian liberty was suppressed by the strong arm of despotism,
its spirit was kept alive by the secret societies, among whom were
enrolled men of all classes; but these societies had no definite ends to
accomplish. Among them were men of every shade of political belief. In
general, they aimed at the overthrow of existing governments rather than
at any plan as to what would take their place. When, through their
cabals, they had dethroned Ferdinand I. at Naples, he too, like
Napoleon, promised a constitution, and swore to observe it; but he also
broke both his promises and oaths, and when reinstated by irresistible
forces, he reigned more tyrannically than before.

When the revolution in the Sardinian province of Piedmont was suppressed
(1821), King Victor Emmanuel I. refused to grant further liberty to his
subjects, or to make promises which he could not fulfil. In this state
of mind the honest old king abdicated in favor of his brother Charles
Felix, who ruled despotically as Austria dictated, but did not belong to
that class of despicable monarchs who promise everything and
grant nothing.

In 1831, on the death of Charles Felix, the throne of Piedmont--or,
rather, Sardinia, as it was called when in 1720 the large island of that
name was combined with the principality of Piedmont and other
territories to form a kingdom--was ascended by Charles Albert, of the
younger branch of the House of Savoy. Charles Albert was an honest
sovereign, but perpetually vacillating between the liberal and clerical
parties. He hated Austria, but was averse to revolutionary measures. He
ruled wisely, however, effecting many useful reforms, and adding to the
prosperity of the country, which was the best governed of all the
Italian States. It was to him that Mazzini appealed to put himself at
the head of the national movement for liberty.

Joseph Mazzini, one of the earliest of the prominent men who aided in
the deliverance of Italy, was a native of Genoa, belonging to a good but
not illustrious family. He was a boy of twelve years of age when the
revolution of 1821 broke out in Piedmont, which was so summarily crushed
by Austria. At that early age he had indefinite ideas, but thought that
Italians should boldly struggle for the liberty of their country. In
1826, while a student at the university, he published an article on
Dante, whose lofty sentiments and independent spirit made a deep
impression on his soul. His love for his native land became like a "fire
in his bones;" it was a passion which nothing could repress. He was an
enthusiast of immense physical and moral courage, pure-minded, lofty in
his aspirations, imbued with the spirit of sacrifice. As his mind
developed, he became an intense republican. He had no faith in
monarchies, even if liberal. Heart and soul he devoted himself to the
spread of republican ideas. He early joined the Carbonari, who numbered
nearly a million in Italy, and edited a literary paper in Genoa, in
which he dared to rebuke the historian Botta for his aristocratic
tendencies. He became so bold in the advocacy of extreme liberal
opinions that his journal was suppressed by government. When the French
insurrection broke out in 1830, he and other young men betook themselves
to the casting of bullets. He was arrested, and confined in the fortress
of Savona, on the western Riviera. It was while in prison that he
conceived the plan of establishing a society, which he called "Young
Italy," for the propagation of republican ideas. When liberated he
proceeded to Geneva, where he made the acquaintance of Sismondi, the
Swiss historian, who treated him with great kindness and urbanity, and
introduced him to Pellegrino Rossi, the exiled publicist, at that time
professor of law at Geneva. From Geneva Mazzini went to Lyons, and there
collected a band of Italian exiles, mostly military men, who
contemplated the invasion of Savoy. Hunted as a refugee, he secretly
escaped to Marseilles, and thence to Corsica, where the Carbonari had
great influence. Returning to Marseilles, he resumed his design of
founding the Association of Young Italy, and became acquainted with the
best of the exiles who had flocked to that city. It was then he wrote to
Charles Albert, who had lately ascended the Sardinian throne, inviting
him to place himself at the head of the liberal movement; but the king
at once gave orders to arrest the visionary enthusiast if found in his

The Association of Young Italy which Mazzini founded, and which soon
numbered thousands of enthusiastic young men, proclaimed as the basis of
its political belief Liberty, Equality, Humanity, Independence, Unity.
It was republican, as favoring the only form of government which it was
supposed would insure the triumph of these principles. It was unitary,
because without unity there was no true nationality or real strength.
The means to reach these ends, Mazzini maintained, were not
assassination, as represented by the dagger of the Carbonari, but
education and insurrection,--and insurrection by guerrilla bands, as
the only way for the people to emancipate themselves from a foreign
yoke. It was a foreign yoke under which Italy groaned, since all the
different states and governments were equally supported by
foreign armies.

So far as these principles harmonized with those proclaimed by the
French revolutionists, they met very little opposition from the Italian
liberals; but national unity, however desirable, was pronounced
chimerical. How could Naples, Rome, Venice, Florence, Sardinia, and the
numerous other States, be joined together under one government? And
then, under what form of government should this union be effected? To
the patriots of 1831 this seemed an insoluble problem. Mazzini, from
first to last, maintained that the new government should be republican.
Yet what more visionary than a united Italy as a republic? The sword, or
fortunate circumstances, might effect unity, but under the rule only of
one man, whether he were bound by a constitution or not. Such a union
Mazzini would not entertain for a moment, and persistently disseminated
his principles.

In consequence, a decree of banishment from France was proclaimed
against him. He hid himself in Marseilles, and the police could not find
him. From his secret retreat his writings continued to be issued, and
were scattered over France, Switzerland, and Italy, and found readers
and advocates.

At length, in 1833, Mazzini ventured to put his principles into
practice, and meditated the invasion of Savoy, to produce an
insurrection at Genoa and Alessandra. With amazing perseverance under
difficulties, he succeeded in collecting money and men, and, without
military education or genius, made his attempt. Defeated by the royal
troops, the expedition failed, as might have been expected. Such a man
should have fought with the pen and not the sword. The enterprise was a
failure from the start. Mazzini was sentenced to death; but again he
escaped, and fled to Berne, whence he continued to issue his
publications. Thus two or three years were passed, when, through the
efforts of sundry Italian governments, the authorities of Berne resolved
to disperse the Association of Young Italy.

Mazzini again became a fugitive, and in 1837 found his way to England,
without money, without friends, without influence,--a forlorn exile
fraternizing with doubt, sorrow, and privation; struggling for more than
a year in silence; so poor at one time as to be compelled to pawn his
coat and boots to keep himself from absolute starvation, for he was too
proud to beg. Thus did he preserve his dignity, and uncomplainingly
endure his trials. At last he found means to support himself modestly
by literature, and gradually made friends,--among them Thomas Carlyle.
He gained social position as a man of genius, of unsullied moral
character and of elevated patriotism, although his political opinions
found but few admirers. Around his humble quarters the Italian exiles
gathered, and received kind words of encouragement and hope; some of
them he was able to assist in their struggles with bitter poverty.

Finally, in 1848, Mazzini returned to Italy, no longer molested, to take
part in the revolution which was to free his country. He found power in
the hands of the moderate progressive party.

The leader of this party was the Marquis Massimo d'Azeglio, belonging to
an ancient and aristocratic Piedmontese family. He was a man of great
weight of character and intellectual expansion. In 1846 he was ordered
to leave Tuscany, for having printed a book of liberal views, which gave
offence to the government. He was opposed to the republican opinions of
Mazzini, and was a firm advocate of a constitutional monarchy. He
desired reforms to be carried on moderately and wisely. Probably he was
the most enlightened man in Italy at this time, and of incorruptible
integrity. He was well acquainted with the condition of the cities of
Italy, having visited most of them, and had great influence with Charles
Albert, who was doubtless patriotic in his intentions, but disposed to
move cautiously.

It was the aim of D'Azeglio to bring to bear an enlightened public
opinion on the evils which were generally admitted, without provoking
revolutionary risings, in which he had no faith. Like other Italian
patriots, he desired to see his country freed from foreign domination,
and was as much disliked by Metternich as by Mazzini. The Austrian
statesman ridiculed the idea of Italian unity, and called Italy a
"geographical expression." What he considered an impossibility is now
realized as a fact. His judgment of the papacy however was wiser. A
"liberal Pope," he declared, "is not a possible being." To all the
reforms advocated by Italian statesmen the Pope, whatever his name, has
remained consistently inflexible. The words ascribed to the Jesuits
would apply to all the Popes,--"Let us remain as we are, or let us exist
no longer." To every proposition for reform the cry has been, _Non
possumus_. The minutest concession has been obstinately refused,--a fact
so well known that even in Rome itself no other course has been possible
among its discontented people than absolute rebellion. Something was
hoped from Pius IX.; but all hopes of reforms at his hand vanished soon
after his elevation in 1846. He did, indeed, soon after his accession,
publish an amnesty for political offences; but this was a matter of
grace, to show his kindness of heart, not to indicate any essential
change in the papal policy.

Benevolence and charity are two different things from sympathy with
reform and liberality of mind. The first marked Metternich and Alexander
I. of Russia, as well as Pius IX. The most urbane and graceful of
princes may be inflexible tyrants so far as government is concerned,
like Augustus and Louis XIV. You may be charmed with the manners and
genial disposition and unaffected piety of a dignitary of the Church,
but there can be no cordial agreement with him respecting the rights of
the people any more than as to Church dogmas, even if you yield up
ninety-nine points out of a hundred. The intensest bigotry and
narrowness are compatible with the most charming manners and the noblest
acts of personal kindness. This truth is illustrated by the characters
drawn by Sir Walter Scott in his novels, and by Hume in his histories.
It explains the inconsistencies of hospitable English Tories, of
old-fashioned Southern planters, of the haughty nobles of Austria who
gathered around the table of the most accomplished gentleman in
Europe,--equally famous for his graceful urbanities and infamous for his
uncompromising hostility to the leaders of liberal movements. On the
other hand, those who have given the greatest boons to humanity have
often been rough in manners, intolerant of infirmities, bitter in their
social prejudices, hard in their dealings, and acrid in their tempers;
and if they were occasionally jocular, their jokes were too practical to
be in high favor with what is called good society.

Now D'Azeglio was a high-born gentleman, aristocratic in all his ideas,
and, what was unusual with Italian nobles, a man of enlarged and liberal
views, who favored reforms if they could be carried out in a
constitutional way,--like Lord John Russell and the great English Whig
noblemen who passed the Reform Bill, or like the French statesmen of the
type of Thiers and Guizot.

In the general outbreak of revolutionary ideas which convulsed all
Europe in 1848, when even Metternich was driven from power, Charles
Albert was forced to promise a constitution to his North Italian
subjects,--and kept his word, which other Italian potentates did not,
when they were restored by Austrian bayonets. He had always been
vacillating, but at last he saw the necessities of Italy and recognized
the spirit of the times. He was thus naturally drawn into a war with
Austria, whose army in Italy was commanded by the celebrated Marshal
Radetzky. Though an old man of eighty, the Austrian general defeated the
King of Piedmont in several engagements. At Novara, on the 23d of March,
1849, he gained a decisive victory, which led to the abdication of the
king; and amidst gloom, disaster, and difficulty, the deposed monarch
was succeeded by his son, the Duke of Savoy, under the name of Victor
Emmanuel II.

The young king rallied around him the ablest and most patriotic men he
could find, including D'Azeglio, who soon became his prime minister; and
it was from this nobleman's high character, varied abilities, unshaken
loyalty to his sovereign, and ardent devotion to the Italian cause, that
Victor Emmanuel was enabled to preserve order and law on the one hand
and Italian liberties on the other. All Italy, as well as Piedmont, had
confidence in the integrity and patriotism of the king, and in the
wisdom of his prime minister, who upheld the liberties they had sworn to
defend. D'Azeglio succeeded in making peace with Austria, while, at the
same time, he clung to constitutional liberty. Under his administration
the finances were improved and national resources were developed.
Sardinia became the most flourishing of all the States of Italy, in
which both freedom and religious toleration were enjoyed,--for Naples
and Rome had relapsed into despotisms, and the iron hand of Austria was
still felt throughout the peninsula. Among other reforms, ecclesiastics
were placed on the same footing with other citizens in respect to the
laws,--a great movement in a Catholic State. This measure was of course
bitterly opposed by the clerical and conservative party, but was ably
supported in the legislature by the member from Turin,--Count Camillo
Cavour; and this great man now became one of the most prominent figures
in the drama played by Italian patriots, since it was to his sagacious
statesmanship and devoted labors that their efforts were crowned with
final success.

Cavour was a man of business, of practical intellect, and of
inexhaustible energies. His labors, when he had once entered upon public
life, were prodigious. His wisdom and tact were equal to his industry
and administrative abilities. Above all, his patriotism blazed with a
steady light, like a beacon in a storm, as intense as that of Mazzini,
but more wisely directed.

Cavour was a younger son of a noble Piedmontese family, and entered the
army in 1826, serving in the engineers. His liberal sentiments made him
distrusted by the government of Charles Felix as a dangerous man, and he
was doomed to an inactive life in an unimportant post. He soon quitted
the army, and embarked in business operations as manager of one of the
estates of his family. For twelve years he confined himself to
agricultural labors, making himself acquainted with all the details of
business and with the science of agriculture, introducing such
improvements as the use of guano, and promoting agricultural
associations; but he was not indifferent at the same time to public
affairs, being one of the most zealous advocates of constitutional
liberty. A residence in England gave him much valuable knowledge as to
the working of representative institutions. He established in 1847 a
political newspaper, and went into parliament as a member of the Chamber
of Deputies. In 1848 he used all his influence to induce the government
to make war with Austria; and when Charles Albert abdicated, and Victor
Emmanuel became king, Cavour's great talents were rewarded. In 1850 he
became minister of commerce; in 1852, prime minister. After that, his
history is the history of Italy itself.

The Sardinian government took the lead of all the States of Italy for
its vigor and its wisdom. To drive the Austrians out of the country now
became the first principle of Cavour's administration. For this end he
raised the military and naval forces of Sardinia to the utmost
practicable point of efficiency; and the people from patriotic
enthusiasm, cheerfully submitted to the increase of taxation. He built
railways, made commercial treaties with foreign nations, suppressed
monasteries, protected fugitives from Austrian and Papal tyranny, gave
liberty to the Press, and even meditated the construction of a tunnel
under Mont Cenis. His most difficult task was the reform of
ecclesiastical abuses, since this was bitterly opposed by the clergy and
the conservatives; but he succeeded in establishing civil marriages, in
suppressing the Mendicant order of friars, and in making priests
amenable to the civil courts. He also repressed all premature and unwise
movements on the part of patriotic leaders to secure national
deliverance, and hence incurred the hostility of Mazzini.

The master-stroke in the policy of Cavour as a statesman was to make a
firm alliance with France and England, to be used as a lever against
Austria. He saw the improbability of securing liberty to Italy unless
the Austrians were expelled by force of arms. The Sardinian kingdom,
with only five millions of people, was inadequate to cope singly with
one of the most powerful military monarchies of Europe. Cavour looked
for deliverance only by the aid of friendly Powers, and he secured the
friendship of both France and England by offering five thousand troops
for the Crimean war. On the 10th of January, 1855, a treaty was signed
which admitted Sardinia on equal terms as the ally of the Western
Powers; and the Sardinian army, under the command of General La Marmora,
rendered very substantial aid, and fought with great gallantry in the
Crimea. When, in 1856, an armistice took place between the contending
Powers, followed by the Congress of Paris, Cavour took his place with
the envoys of the great Powers. Furthermore, he availed himself of his
opportunities to have private conferences with the Emperor Napoleon
III. in reference to Italian matters; and his influence with the foreign
statesmen he met in Paris was equally beneficial to the great end to
which his life was devoted. His diplomacy was unrivalled for tact, and
the ministers of France and England saw and acknowledged it. By his
diplomatic abilities he enlisted the Emperor of the French in behalf of
Italian independence, and, perhaps more than any other man, induced him
to make war on Austria.

Cavour's lucid exposition of the internal affairs of Italy brought out
the condemnation of the Russian and Prussian envoys as well as that of
the English ministry, and led to their expostulation with the Austrian
government. But all in vain. Austria would listen to no advice, and
blindly pursued her oppressive policy, to the exasperation of the
different leaders whatever may have been their peculiar views of
government. All this prepared the way for the acknowledgment of Sardinia
as the leader in the matter of Italian emancipation, whom the other
Italian States were willing to follow. The hopes of the Italians were
now turned to the House of Savoy, to its patriotic chief, and to its
able minister, whose counsels Victor Emmanuel in most cases followed.
From this time the republican societies which Mazzini had established
lost ground before the ascendency which Cavour had acquired in Italian
politics. Of the Western Powers, he would have preferred an alliance
with Great Britain; but when he found he could expect from the English
government no assistance by arms against Austria, he drew closer to the
French emperor as the one power alone from whom efficient aid was to be
obtained, and set his sharp wits at work to make such a course both easy
and profitable to France.

There is reason to believe that Louis Napoleon was sincere in his desire
to assist the Italians in shaking off the yoke of Austria, to the extent
that circumstances should warrant. Whatever were his political crimes,
his personal sympathies were with Italy. His youthful alliance with the
Carbonari, his early political theories, the antecedents of his family,
and his natural wish for the close union of the Latin races seem to
confirm this view. Moreover, he was now tempted by Cavour with the
cession of Savoy and Nice to France to strengthen his southern
boundaries; and for the possession of these provinces he was willing to
put Victor Emmanuel in the way to obtain as a compensation Venetia and
Lombardy, then held by the iron hand of Austria. This would double the
number of Victor Emmanuel's subjects, and give him the supremacy over
the north of Italy. Cavour easily convinced his master that the
sacrifice of Savoy, the home of his ancestors, though hard to accept,
would make him more powerful than all the other sovereigns of Italy
combined, and would pave the way for the sovereignty of Italy
itself,--the one object which Cavour had most at heart, and to which all
his diplomatic talents were directed.

In the summer of 1858 Napoleon III. invited Cavour to a conference at
Plombières, and thither the Italian statesman repaired; but the results
of the conference were not revealed to the public, or even to the
ministers of Louis Napoleon. Although there were no written engagements,
it was arranged that Sardinia should make war on Austria and that France
should come to her assistance, as the only practicable way for Italy to
shake off the Austrian domination and secure her independence.
Ultimately, not only independence but unity was the supreme aim of
Cavour. For this great end the Italian statesman labored night and day,
under great difficulties, and constant apprehension that something might
happen which would compel the French emperor to break his promises, for
his situation was also critical. But in reality Louis Napoleon desired
war with Austria as much as Cavour, in order to find employment for his
armies, to gain the coveted increase of territory, and to increase his
military prestige.

Cavour, having completed arrangements with Napoleon III., at once sought
the aid of all the Italian patriots. He secretly sent for Garibaldi,
and unfolded to him his designs on Austria; and also he privately
encouraged those societies which had for their end the deliverance of
Italy. All this he did without the knowledge of the French emperor, who
equally disliked Garibaldi and Mazzini.

At this time Garibaldi was one of the foremost figures in the field of
Italian politics, and, to introduce him, we must go back to an earlier
day. Giuseppe Garibaldi was born in 1807, at Nice, of humble parents,
who were seafaring people. Although he was a wild youth, full of deeds
of adventure and daring, he was destined by his priest-ridden father for
the Church; but the boy's desire for a sailor's life could not be
resisted. At the age of twenty-one he was second in command of a brig
bound for the Black Sea, which was plundered three times during the
voyage by Greek pirates. This misfortune left the young Garibaldi
utterly destitute; but his wants being relieved by a generous
Englishman, he was enabled to continue his voyage to Constantinople,
where he was taken sick.

In 1834 he was induced to take part in the revolutionary movement which
was going on under Mazzini, who had instituted his Society of Young
Italy. On the failure of Mazzini in the rash affair of St. Julien,--an
ill-timed insurrection in which Garibaldi took part,--the young sailor
fled in disguise to Nice, and thence to Marseilles. Charles Albert was
then on the throne of Sardinia, and though the most liberal sovereign in
Italy, was tyrannical in his measures. Ferdinand II. ruled at Naples
with a rod of iron; the Pontifical States and the Duchies of Modena and
Parma were equally under despotic governments, while Venice and Lombardy
were ground down by Austria.

In those days of discouragement, when all Italy was enslaved, Garibaldi
left his country with a heavy heart, and sailing for South America,
entered the service of the Republic of Rio Grande, which had set itself
up against the authority of the Emperor of Brazil. In this struggle of a
little State against a larger one, Garibaldi distinguished himself not
only for his bravery but for his military talent of leadership. He took
several prizes as a privateer, but was wounded in some engagement, and
fled to Gualeguay, where he was thrown into prison, from which he made
his escape, and soon after renewed his seafaring adventures, some of
which were marvellous. After six years of faithful service to the
Republic of Rio Grande, he bought a drove of nine hundred cattle, and
set out for Montevideo with his Brazilian wife and child, to try a
mercantile career. This was unsuccessful. He then became a schoolmaster
at Montevideo, but soon tired of so monotonous a calling. Craving war
and adventure, he buckled on his sword once more in the struggle
between Montevideo and Buenos Ayres; and for his gallantry and successes
he was made a general, but refused all compensation for his services,
and remained in poverty, which he seemed to love as much as some love
riches. The reputation which he gained drew a number of Italians to his
standard, resolved to follow his fortunes.

In the meantime great things were doing in Piedmont towards reform by
the Marquis D'Azeglio,--prime minister of Charles Albert,--who was then
irretrievably devoted to the liberal cause. Every mail brought to
Montevideo news which made Garibaldi's blood boil, and he resolved to
return to Italy and take part in the movements of the patriots. This was
in 1848, when not only Italy but all Europe was shaken by revolutionary
ideas. He landed in Nice on the 24th of June, and at once went to the
camp of Charles Albert, sought an interview, and offered his services,
which, however, were not accepted,--the king having not forgotten that
Garibaldi was once a rebel against him, and was still an outlaw.

Nothing remained for the adventurous patriot but to continue an inactive
spectator or throw in his lot with the republican party. He did not wait
long to settle that question, but flew to Milan and organized a force of
thirty thousand volunteers for the defence of that city from the
Austrians. On the conclusion of an armistice, which filled him with
detestation of Charles Albert, he and Mazzini, who had joined the corps,
undertook to harass the Austrians among the mountains above Lake
Maggiore. Finding it impossible to make head against the Austrians in
the midst of their successes, Garibaldi retired to Switzerland, where he
lay ill for some time with a dangerous fever. On his recovery he started
for Venice with two hundred and fifty volunteers, to join Daniele Manin
in his memorable resistance to the Austrians; but hearing at Ravenna
that a rebellion had broken out in Rome, he bent his course to the
"Eternal City," to swell with fifteen hundred men the ranks of the
rebellious subjects of the Pope,--for Pius IX. had repudiated the
liberal principles which he had professed at the beginning of his reign.

When the rebellion broke out in Rome the Pope fled to Gaeta, and put
himself under the protection of the King of Naples. A Constituent
Assembly was called, in which both Mazzini and Garibaldi sat as members.
Garibaldi was intrusted with the defence of the city; a triumvirate was
formed--of which Mazzini was the inspiring leader--to administer
affairs, and the temporal government of the Pope was decreed by the
Assembly to be at an end.

Meanwhile, Louis Napoleon, then President of the French Republic,
against all his antecedents, sided against the Liberals, and sent
General Oudinot with a large army to restore the papal power at Rome.
This general was at first defeated, but, on the arrival of
reinforcements, he gradually gained possession of the city. The
resistance was valiant but useless. In vain Mazzini promised assistance;
in vain Garibaldi, in his red shirt and cap, defended the ramparts. On
the 21st of June the French effected a breach in the city wall and
planted their batteries, and on the 30th of June they made their final
assault. Further resistance became hopeless; and Garibaldi, at the head
of four thousand fugitives, leaving the city as the French entered it,
again became a wanderer.

He first made his way to Tuscany, but at Arezzo found the gates closed
against him. Hotly pursued by Austrian troops he crossed the Apennines,
and sought the shelter of the little republic of San Marino, the
authorities of which, in fear of the Austrians, refused him the refuge
he sought, but in full sympathy with his cause connived at his escape.
As Venice still held out under Manin, Garibaldi made his way to the
Adriatic,--accompanied by his wife, the faithful Anita, about to become
a mother,--where he and some of his followers embarked in some
fishing-boats and reached the mouth of the Po, still hounded by the
Austrians. He and his sick wife and a few followers were obliged to
hide in cornfields, among rocks, and in caverns. On the shores of the
Adriatic Anita expired in the arms of her husband, who, still hunted,
contrived to reach Ravenna, where for a while he was hidden by friends.

It was now useless to proceed to Venice, at this time in the last gasp
of her struggle; so Garibaldi made his way to Spezzia, on the Gulf of
Genoa, with a single companion-in-arms, but learned that Florence was
not prepared for rebellion. The government of Turin, fearing to allow so
troublesome a guest to remain at Genoa, held him for a while in
honorable captivity, but permitted him to visit his aged mother and his
three children at Nice. On his return to Genoa, the government politely
requested him to leave Italy. He passed over to the island of Sardinia,
still hunted and half a bandit, wandering over the mountains, and, when
hard pressed, retiring to the small island-rock of Caprera.

Eventually, finding no hopes of further rising in Italy, Garibaldi found
his way to Liverpool, and embarked for New York. Arriving in that city
he refused to be lionized, and also declined all contributions of money
from admirers, but supported himself for eighteen months by making
tallow candles on Staten Island. At the same time French exiles were
seeking to gain a living in New York,--Ledru Rollin as a store porter,
Louis Blanc as a dancing-master, and Felix Pyat as a scene-shifter. Not
succeeding very well in making candles, Garibaldi went again to South
America, and became captain of a trading-vessel plying between China and
Peru, and then again of a vessel between New York and England. In 1854
he was once more in Genoa, and after cruising about the Mediterranean,
he had amassed money enough to buy a portion of the island of Caprera,
where he found a resting-place.

Sardinia was then under the guidance of Cavour, who was meditating the
gaining of friendship from France by furnishing troops for the Crimean
war. The moderate Liberal party had the ascendency in Italy, convinced
that all hopes for the regeneration of their country rested on
constitutional measures. Venice and Lombardy had settled down once more
in subjection to Austria; the Pope reigned as a temporal prince with the
assistance of French troops; and at Naples a Bourbon despot had
re-established his tyrannical rule.

For ten years Garibaldi led a quiet life at Caprera, the whole island,
fifteen miles in circumference, near the coast of Sardinia, having
fallen into his possession. Here he cultivated a small garden redeemed
from the rocks, and milked a few cows. He had also some fine horses
given to him by friends, and his house was furnished in the most simple
manner. On this island, monarch of all he surveyed, he diffused an
unostentatious but generous hospitality; for many distinguished persons
came to visit him, and he amused himself by writing letters and
attempting some literary work.

In 1859, under the manipulation of Cavour, French and Italian politics
became more and more intertwined,--the war with Austria, the formation
of an Italian kingdom from the Alps to the Adriatic, the cession of Nice
and Savoy and the marriage of Princess Clotilde to Prince Napoleon being
the main objects which occupied the mind of Cavour. Early in the year
Victor Emmanuel made public his intention of aiding Venice and Lombardy
to throw off the Austrian yoke. It was then that the all-powerful
Italian statesman sent for Garibaldi, who at once obeyed the summons,
appearing in his red blouse and with his big stick, and was commissioned
to fight against the Austrians. Volunteers from all parts of Italy
flocked to his standard,--some four thousand disorderly troops, but
devoted to him and to the cause of Italian independence. He held a
regular commission in the allied armies of France and Sardinia, but was
so hampered by jealous generals that Victor Emmanuel--dictator as well
as king--gave him permission to quit the regular army, go where he
liked, and fight as he pleased. With his volunteers Garibaldi performed
many acts of bravery which won for him great _éclat_; but he made many
military mistakes. Once he came near being captured with all his men;
but fortune favored, and he almost miraculously escaped from the hands
of the Austrians. The scene of his exploits was in the mountainous
country around Lake Como.

Meanwhile the allied armies had defeated the Austrians at Magenta and
Solferino, and Louis Napoleon had effected the celebrated treaty with
Austria at Villa-Franca, arranging for a confederation of all the
Italian States under the Papal Protectorate, and the cession of Lombardy
to Sardinia. This inconclusive result greatly disgusted all the Italian
patriots. Cavour resigned at once, but soon after was induced to resume
his post at the head of affairs. Venice and Verona were still in
Austrian hands. As the Prussians showed signs of uneasiness, it is
probable that Louis Napoleon did not feel justified in continuing the
war, in which he had nothing further to gain; at all events, he now
withdrew. Garibaldi was exceedingly indignant at the desertion of
France, and opposed bitterly the cession of Nice and Savoy,--by which he
was brought in conflict with Cavour, who felt that Italy could well
afford to part with a single town and a barren strip of mountain
territory for the substantial advantages it had already gained by the
defeat of the Austrian armies.

The people of the Italian States, however, repudiated the French
emperor's arrangements for them, and one by one Modena, Tuscany, Parma,
and the Romagna,--the upper tier of the Papal States,--formally voted
for annexation to the Kingdom of Sardinia; and the king, nothing loath,
received them into his fold in March, 1860. This result was in great
measure due to the Baron Ricasoli of Tuscany, an independent
country-gentleman and wine-grower, who had taken active interest in
politics, and had been made Dictator of Tuscany when her grand duke fled
at the outbreak of the war. Ricasoli obstinately refused either to
recall the grand duke or to submit to the Napoleonic programme, but
insisted on annexation to Sardinia; and the other duchies followed.

Garibaldi now turned his attention to the liberation of Naples and
Sicily from the yoke of Ferdinand, which had become intolerable. As
early as 1851, Mr. Gladstone, on a visit to Naples, wrote to Lord
Aberdeen that the government of Ferdinand was "an outrage on religion,
civilization, humanity, and decency." He had found the prisons full of
state prisoners in the vilest condition, and other iniquities which were
a disgrace to any government. The people had attempted by revolution
again and again to shake off the accursed yoke, and had failed. Their
only hope was from without.

It was the combined efforts of three men that freed Southern Italy from
the yoke,--Mazzini, who opened the drama by recognizing in Sicily a
fitting field of action; Cavour, by his diplomatic intrigues; and
Garibaldi, by his bold and even rash enterprises. The patriotism of
these three men is universally conceded; but they held one another in
distrust and dislike, although in different ways they worked for the
same end. Mazzini wanted to see a republican form of government
established throughout Italy, which Cavour regarded as chimerical.
Garibaldi did not care what government was established, provided Italy
was free and united. Cavour, though he disapproved the rashness of
Garibaldi, was willing to make use of him provided he was not intrusted
with too high a command. Moreover, there were mutual jealousies, each
party wishing to get the supreme direction of affairs.

The first step was taken in 1860 by Garibaldi, in his usual fashion.
Having gathered about a thousand men, he set sail from Genoa to take
part in the Sicilian revolution. Cavour, when he heard of the
expedition, or rather raid, led by Garibaldi upon Sicily in aid of the
insurrectionists, ostensibly opposed it, and sent an admiral to capture
him and bring him back to Turin; but secretly he favored it. The
government of Turin held aloof from the expedition out of regard to
foreign Powers, who were indignant that the peace of Europe should be
disturbed by a military adventurer,--in their eyes, half-bandit and
half-sailor. Lord John Russell, however, in England, gave his
encouragement and assistance by the directions given to Admiral Mundy,
who interposed his ships between the Neapolitan cruisers and the
soldiers of Garibaldi, then marching on the coast. France remained
neutral; Austria had been crippled; and Prussia and Russia were too
distant to care much about a matter which did not affect them.

So, with his troop of well-selected men, Garibaldi succeeded in landing
on the Sicilian shores. He at once issued his manifesto to the people,
and soon had the satisfaction to see his forces increased. He first came
in contact with the Neapolitan troops among the mountains at Calatafimi,
and defeated them, so that they retired to Palermo. The capital of
Sicily could have been easily defended; but, aided by a popular
uprising, Garibaldi was soon master of the city, and took up his
quarters in the royal palace as Dictator of Sicily, where he lived very
quietly, astonishing the viceroy's servants by his plain dinners of soup
and vegetables without wine. His wardrobe was then composed "of two
pairs of gray trousers, an old felt hat, two red shirts, and a few

On the 17th of July, 1860, Garibaldi left Palermo, and embarked for
Milazzo, on the northwest coast of Sicily, where he gained another
victory, which opened to him the city of Messina. The Neapolitan
government deemed all further resistance on the island of Sicily
useless, and recalled its troops for the defence of Naples. At Messina,
Garibaldi was joined by Father Gavazzi, the finest orator of Italy, who
had seceded from the Romish Church, and who threw his whole soul into
the cause of Italian independence. Garibaldi now had a force of
twenty-five thousand men under his orders, and prepared to invade the

On the 17th of August he landed at Taormina with a part of his army, and
marched on Reggio, a strong castle, which he took by assault. This
success gave him a basis of operations on the main land. The residue of
his troops were brought over from Messina, and his triumphal march to
Naples immediately followed, not a hand being raised against him. The
young king Francis II. fled as the conqueror approached,--or rather I
should say, deliverer; for Garibaldi had no hard battles to fight when
once he had landed on the shores of Italy. His popularity was so great,
and the enthusiasm of the people was so unbounded, that armies melted
away or retired as he approached with his Calabrian sugar-loaf hat; and,
instead of fighting, he was obliged to go through the ordeal of kissing
all the children and being hugged by all the women.

Naples was now without a government, and Garibaldi had no talent for
organization. The consequence was that the city was torn by factions,
and yet Garibaldi refused to adopt vigorous measures. "I am grieved," he
said, "at the waywardness of my children," yet he took no means to
repress disorders. He even reaped nothing but ingratitude from those he
came to deliver. Not a single Garibaldian was received into a private
house, while three thousand of his men were lying sick and wounded on
the stones of the Jesuit College. How was it to be expected that
anything else could happen among a people so degraded as the
Neapolitans, one hundred years behind the people of North Italy in
civilization, in intelligence, in wealth, and in morals,--in everything
that qualifies a people for liberty or self-government?

In the midst of the embarrassments which perplexed and surrounded the
dictator, Mazzini made his appearance at Naples. Garibaldi, however,
would have nothing to do with the zealous republican, and held his lot
with the royalists, as he was now the acknowledged representative of the
Sardinian government. Mazzini was even requested to leave Italy, which
he refused to do. Whether it was from jealousy that Garibaldi held aloof
from Mazzini,--vastly his intellectual superior,--or from the conviction
that his republican ideas were utterly impracticable, cannot be known.
We only know that he sought to unite the north and the south of Italy
under one government, as a preparation for the conquest of central
Italy, which he was impatient to undertake at all hazards.

At last the King of Naples prepared to make one decisive struggle for
his throne. From his retreat at Gaeta he rallied his forces, which were
equal to those of Garibaldi,--about forty thousand men. On the 1st of
October was fought the battle of Volturno, as to which Garibaldi, after
fierce fighting, was enabled to send his exultant dispatch, "Complete
victory along the whole line!" Francis II. retired to his strong
fortress of Gaeta to await events.

Meanwhile, on the news of Garibaldi's successes, King Victor Emmanuel
set out from Turin with a large army to take possession of the throne of
Naples, which Garibaldi was ready to surrender. But the king must needs
pass through the States of the Church,--a hazardous undertaking, since
Rome was under the protection of the French troops. Louis Napoleon had
given an ambiguous assent to this movement, which, however, he declined
to assist; and, defeating the papal troops under General Lamoricière,
Victor Emmanuel pushed on to Naples. As the King of Piedmont advanced
from the north, he had pretty much the same experience that Garibaldi
had in his march from the south. He met with no serious resistance. On
passing the Neapolitan frontier he was met by Garibaldi with his staff,
who laid down his dictatorship at his sovereign's feet,--the most heroic
and magnanimous act of his life. This was also his proudest hour, since
he had accomplished his purpose. He had freed Naples, and had united the
South with the North. On the 10th of October the people of the Two
Sicilies voted to accept the government of Victor Emmanuel; and the king
entered Naples, November 7, in all the pomp of sovereignty.

Garibaldi's task was ended on surrendering his dictatorship; but he had
one request to make of Victor Emmanuel, to whom he had given a throne.
He besought him to dismiss Cavour, and to be himself allowed to march on
Rome,--for he hated the Pope with terrible hatred, and called him
Antichrist, both because he oppressed his subjects and was hostile to
the independence of Italy. But Victor Emmanuel could not grant such an
absurd request,--he was even angry; and the Liberator of Naples retired
to his island-home with only fifteen shillings in his pocket!

This conduct on the part of the king may seem like ingratitude; but what
else could he do? He doubtless desired that Rome should be the capital
of his dominions as much as Garibaldi himself, but the time had not
come. Victor Emmanuel could not advance on Rome and Venice with an "army
of red shirts;" he could not overcome the armed veterans of Austria and
France as Garibaldi had prevailed over the discontented troops of
Francis II.,--he must await his opportunity. Besides, he had his hands
full to manage the affairs of Naples, where every element of anarchy had

To add to the embarrassments of Victor Emmanuel, he was compelled to
witness the failing strength and fatal illness of his prime minister.
The great statesman was dying from overwork. Although no man in Europe
was capable of such gigantic tasks as Cavour assumed, yet even he had to
succumb to the laws of nature. He took no rest and indulged in no
pleasures, but devoted himself body and soul to the details of his
office and the calls of patriotism. He had to solve the most difficult
problems, both political and commercial. He was busy with the finances
of the kingdom, then in great disorder; and especially had he to deal
with the blended ignorance, tyranny, and corruption that the Bourbon
kings of Naples had bequeathed to the miserable country which for more
than a century they had so disgracefully misgoverned. All this was too
much for the overworked statesman, who was always at his post in the
legislative chamber, in his office with his secretaries, and in the
council chamber of the cabinet. He died in June, 1861, and was buried,
not in a magnificent mausoleum, but among his family relations
at Santena.

Cavour did not, however, pass away until he saw the union of all
Italy--except Venice and Rome--under the sceptre of Victor Emmanuel.
Lombardy had united with Piedmont soon after the victory at Solferino,
by the suffrages of its inhabitants. At Turin, deputies from the States
of Italy,--except Venice and Rome,--chosen by the people, assembled, and
formally proclaimed Italy to be free. The population of four millions,
which comprised the subjects of Victor Emmanuel on his accession to the
throne, had in about thirteen years increased to twenty-two millions;
and in February, 1861, Victor Emmanuel was by his Senate and Chamber of
Deputies proclaimed King of Italy, although he wisely forbore any
attempt actually to annex the Venetian and Papal States.

Rome and Venice were still outside. The Pope remained inflexible to any
reforms, any changes, any improvements. _Non possumus_ was all that he
deigned to say to the ambassadors who advised concessions. On the 7th of
September, 1860, Victor Emmanuel sent an envoy to Rome to demand from
his Holiness the dismissal of his foreign troops; which demand was
refused. Upon this, the king ordered an army to enter the papal
provinces of Umbria and the Marches. In less than three weeks the
campaign was over, and General Lamoricière, who commanded the papal
troops, was compelled to surrender. Austria, Prussia, and Russia
protested; but Victor Emmanuel paid little heed to the protest, or to
the excommunications which were hurled against him. The Emperor of the
French found it politic to withdraw his ambassador from Turin, but
adhered to his policy of non-intervention, and remained a quiet
spectator. The English government, on the other hand, justified the
government of Turin in thus freeing Italian territory from
foreign troops.

Garibaldi was not long contented with his retirement at Caprera. In
July, 1862, he rallied around him a number of followers, determined to
force the king's hand, and to complete the work of unity by advancing on
Rome as he had on Naples. His rashness was opposed by the Italian
government,--wisely awaiting riper opportunity,--who sent against him
the greatest general of Italy (La Marmora), and Garibaldi was taken
prisoner at Aspromonte. The king determined to do nothing further
without the support of the representatives of the nation, but found it
necessary to maintain a large army, which involved increased
taxation,--to which, however, the Italians generously submitted.

In 1866, while Austria was embroiled with Prussia, Victor Emmanuel,
having formed an alliance with the Northern Powers, invaded Venetia; and
in the settlement between the two German Powers the Venetian province
fell to the King of Italy.

In 1867 Garibaldi made another attempt on Rome, but was arrested near
Lake Thrasimene and sent back to Caprera. Again he left his island,
landed on the Tuscan coast, and advanced to Rome with his body of
volunteers, and was again defeated and sent back to Caprera. The
government dealt mildly with this prince of filibusters, in view of his
past services and his unquestioned patriotism. His errors were those of
the head and not of the heart. He was too impulsive, too impatient, and
too rash in his schemes for Italian liberty.

It was not until Louis Napoleon was defeated at Sedan that the French
troops were withdrawn from Rome, and the way was finally opened for the
occupation of the city by the troops of Victor Emmanuel in 1870. A Roman
plebiscite had voted for the union of all Italy under the constitutional
rule of the House of Savoy. From 1859 to 1865 the capital of the kingdom
had been Turin, the principal city of Piedmont; with the enlargement of
the realm the latter year saw the court removed to Florence, in Tuscany;
but now that all the States were united under one rule, Rome once again,
after long centuries had passed, became the capital of Italy, and the
temporal power of the Pope passed away forever.

On the fall of Napoleon III. in 1870 Italian nationality was
consummated, and Victor Emmanuel reigned as a constitutional monarch
over united Italy. To his prudence, honesty, and good sense, the
liberation of Italy was in no small degree indebted. He was the main
figure in the drama of Italian independence, if we except Cavour, whose
transcendent abilities were devoted to the same cause for which Mazzini
and Garibaldi less discreetly labored. It is remarkable that such great
political changes were made with so little bloodshed. Italian unity was
effected by constitutional measures, by the voice of the people, and by
fortunate circumstances more than by the sword. The revolutions which
seated the King of Piedmont on the throne of United Italy were
comparatively bloodless. Battles indeed were fought during the whole
career of Victor Emmanuel, and in every part of Italy; but those of much
importance were against the Austrians,--against foreign domination. The
civil wars were slight and unimportant compared with those which ended
in the expulsion of Austrian soldiers from the soil of Italy. The civil
wars were mainly popular insurrections, being marked by neither cruelty
nor fanaticism; indeed, they were the uprising of the people against
oppression and misrule. The iron heel which had for so many years
crushed the aspirations of the citizens of Venice, of Milan, and Rome,
was finally removed only by the successive defeats of Austrian armies
by Prussia and France.

Although the political unity and independence of Italy have been
effected, it is not yet a country to be envied. The weight of taxation
to support the government is an almost intolerable burden. No country in
the world is so heavily taxed in proportion to its resources and
population. Great ignorance is still the misfortune of Italy, especially
in the central and southern provinces. Education is at a low ebb, and
only a small part of the population can even read and write, except in
Piedmont. The spiritual despotism of the Pope still enslaves the bulk of
the people, who are either Roman Catholics with mediaeval superstitions,
or infidels with hostility to all religion based on the Holy Scriptures.
Nothing there as yet flourishes like the civilization of France,
Germany, and England.

And yet it is to be hoped that a better day has dawned on a country
endeared to Christendom for its glorious past and its classic
associations. It is a great thing that a liberal and enlightened
government now unites all sections of the country, and that a
constitutional monarch, with noble impulses, reigns in the "Eternal
City," rather than a bigoted ecclesiastical pontiff averse to all
changes and improvements, having nothing in common with European
sovereigns but patronage of art, which may be Pagan in spirit rather
than Christian. The great drawback to Italian civilization at present is
the foolish race of the nation with great military monarchies in armies
and navies, which occupies the energies of the country, rather than a
development of national resources in commerce, agriculture, and the
useful arts.


Alison's History of Europe; Lives of Cavour, Mazzini, Garibaldi; Fyffe's
Modern Europe; Mackenzie's History of the Nineteenth Century; Biography
of Marshal Radetsky; Annual Register; Biography of Charles Albert;
Ellesmere, as quoted by Alison; Memoirs of Prince Metternich; Carlo
Botta's History of Italy.




For centuries before the Russian empire was consolidated by the wisdom,
the enterprise, and the conquests of Peter the Great, the Russians cast
longing eyes on Constantinople as the prize most precious and most
coveted in their sight.

From Constantinople, the capital of the Greek empire when the Turks were
a wandering and unknown Tartar tribe in the northern part of Asia, had
come the religion that was embraced by the ancient czars and the
Slavonic races which they ruled. To this Greek form of Christianity the
Russians were devotedly attached. They were semi-barbarians, and yet
bigoted Christians. In the course of centuries their priests came to
possess immense power,--social and political, as well as ecclesiastical.
The Patriarch of Moscow was the second personage of the empire, and the
third dignitary in the Greek Church. Religious forms and dogmas bound
the Russians with the Greek population of the Turkish empire in the
strongest ties of sympathy and interest, even when that empire was in
the height of its power. To get possession of those principalities under
Turkish dominion in which the Greek faith was the prevailing religion
had been the ambition of all the czars who reigned either at Moscow or
at St. Petersburg. They aimed at a protectorate over the Christian
subjects of the Porte in Eastern Europe; and the city where reigned the
first Christian emperor of the old Roman world was not only sacred in
their eyes, and had a religious prestige next to that of Jerusalem, but
was looked upon as their future and certain possession,--to be obtained,
however, only by bitter and sanguinary wars.

Turkey, in a religious point of view, was the certain and inflexible
enemy of Russia,--so handed down in all the traditions and teachings of
centuries. To erect again on the lofty dome of St. Sophia the cross,
which had been torn down by Mohammedan infidels, was probably one of the
strongest desires of the Russian nation; and this desire was shared in a
still stronger degree by all the Russian monarchs from the time of Peter
the Great, most of whom were zealous defenders of what they called the
Orthodox faith. They remind us of the kings of the Middle Ages in the
interest they took in ecclesiastical affairs, in their gorgeous
religious ceremonials, and in their magnificent churches, which it was
their pride to build. Alexander I. was, in his way, one of the most
religious monarchs who ever swayed a sceptre,--more like an ancient
Jewish king than a modern political sovereign.

But there was another powerful reason why the Russian czars cast their
wistful glance on the old capital of the Greek emperors, and resolved
sooner or later to add it to their dominions, already stretching far
into the east,--and this was to get possession of the countries which
bordered on the Black Sea, in order to have access to the Mediterranean.
They wanted a port for the southern provinces of their empire,--St.
Petersburg was not sufficient, since the Neva was frozen in the
winter,--but Poland (a powerful kingdom in the seventeenth century)
stood in their way; and beyond Poland were the Ukraine Cossacks and the
Tartars of the Crimea. These nations it was necessary to conquer before
the Muscovite banners could float on the strongholds which controlled
the Euxine. It was not until after a long succession of wars that Peter
the Great succeeded, by the capture of Azof, in gaining a temporary
footing on the Euxine,--lost by the battle of Pruth, when the Russians
were surrounded by the Turks. The reconquest of Azof was left to Peter's
successors; but the Cossacks and Tartars barred the way to the Euxine
and to Constantinople. It was not until the time of Catherine II. that
the Russian armies succeeded in gaining a firm footing on the Euxine by
the conquest of the Crimea, which then belonged to Turkey, and was
called Crim Tartary. The treaties of 1774 and 1792 gave to the Russians
the privilege of navigating the Black Sea, and indirectly placed under
the protectorate of Russia the territories of Moldavia and
Wallachia,--provinces of Turkey, called the Danubian principalities,
whose inhabitants were chiefly of the Greek faith.

Thus was Russia aggrandized during the reign of Catherine II., who not
only added the Crimea to her dominions,--an achievement to which Peter
the Great aspired in vain,--but dismembered Poland, and invaded Persia
with her armies. "Greece, Roumelia, Thessaly, Macedonia, Montenegro, and
the islands of the Archipelago swarmed with her emissaries, who preached
rebellion against the hateful Crescent, and promised Russian support,
Russian money, and Russian arms." These promises however were not
realized, being opposed by Austria,--then virtually ruled by Prince
Kaunitz, who would not consent to the partition of Poland without the
abandonment of the ambitious projects of Catherine, incited by Prince
Potemkin, the most influential of her advisers and favorites. She had to
renounce all idea of driving the Turks out of Turkey and founding a
Greek empire ruled over by a Russian grand duke. She was forced also to
abandon her Greek and Slavonic allies, and pledge herself to maintain
the independence of Wallachia and Moldavia. Eight years later, in 1783,
the Tartars lost their last foothold in the Crimea by means of a
friendly alliance between Catherine and the Austrian emperor Joseph II.,
the effect of which was to make the Russians the masters of the
Black Sea.

Catherine II., of German extraction, is generally regarded as the ablest
female sovereign who has reigned since Semiramis, with the exception
perhaps of Maria Theresa of Germany and Elizabeth of England; but she
was infinitely below these princesses in moral worth,--indeed, she was
stained by the grossest immoralities that can degrade a woman. She died
in 1796, and her son Paul succeeded her,--a prince whom his imperial
mother had excluded from all active participation in the government of
the empire because of his mental imbecility, or partial insanity. A
conspiracy naturally was formed against him in such unsettled times,--it
was at the height of Napoleon's victorious career,--resulting in his
assassination, and his son Alexander I. reigned in his stead.

Alexander was twenty-four when, in 1801, he became the autocrat of all
the Russias. His reign is familiar to all the readers of the wars of
Napoleon, during which Russia settled down as one of the great Powers.
At the Congress of Vienna in 1814 the duchy of Warsaw, comprising
four-fifths of the ancient kingdom of Poland, was assigned to Russia.
During fifty years Russia had been gaining possession of new
territory,--of the Crimea in 1783, of Georgia in 1785, of Bessarabia and
a part of Moldavia in 1812. Alexander added to the empire several of the
tribes of the Caucasus, Finland, and large territories ceded by Persia.
After the fall of Napoleon, Alexander did little to increase the
boundaries of his empire, confining himself, with Austria and Prussia,
to the suppression of revolutionary principles in Europe, the weakening
of Turkey, and the extension of Russian influence in Persia. In the
internal government of his empire he introduced many salutary changes,
especially in the early part of his reign; but after Napoleon's final
defeat, his views gradually changed. The burdens of absolute government,
disappointments, the alienation of friends, and the bitter experiences
which all sovereigns must learn soured his temper, which was naturally
amiable, and made him a prey to terror and despondency. No longer was he
the frank, generous, chivalrous, and magnanimous prince who had called
out general admiration, but a disappointed, suspicious, terrified, and
prematurely old man, flying from one part of his dominions to another,
as if to avoid the assassin's dagger. He died in 1825, and was
succeeded by his brother,--the Grand Duke Nicholas.

The throne, on the principles of legitimacy, properly belonged to his
elder brother,--the Grand Duke Constantine. Whether this prince shrank
from the burdens of governing a vast empire, or felt an incapacity for
its duties, or preferred the post he occupied as Viceroy of Poland or
the pleasures of domestic life with a wife to whom he was devoted, it is
not clear; it is only certain that he had in the lifetime of the late
emperor voluntarily renounced his claim to the throne, and Alexander had
left a will appointing Nicholas as his successor.

Nicholas had scarcely been crowned (1826) when war broke out between
Russia and Persia; and this was followed by war with Turkey, consequent
upon the Greek revolution. Silistria, a great fortress in Bulgaria, fell
into the hands of the Russians, who pushed their way across the Balkan
mountains and occupied Adrianople. In the meantime General Paskievitch
followed up his brilliant successes in the Asiatic provinces of the
Sultan's dominions by the capture of Erzeroum, and advanced to
Trebizond. The peace of Adrianople, in September, 1829, checked his
farther advances. This famous treaty secured to the Russians extensive
territories on the Black Sea, together with its navigation by Russian
vessels, and the free passage of Russian ships through the Dardanelles
and Bosphorus to the Mediterranean. In addition, a large war indemnity
was granted by Turkey, and the occupancy of Moldavia, Wallachia, and
Silistria until the indemnity should be paid. Moreover, it was agreed
that the hospodars of the principalities should be elected for life, to
rule without molestation from the Porte upon paying a trilling tribute.
A still greater advantage was gained by Russia in the surrender by
Turkey of everything on the left bank of the Danube,--cities,
fortresses, and lands, all with the view to their future annexation
to Russia.

The territory ceded to Russia by the peace of Adrianople included the
Caucasus,--a mountainous region inhabited by several independent races,
among which were the Circassians, who acknowledged allegiance neither to
Turkey nor Russia. Nicholas at first attempted to gain over the
chieftains of these different nations or tribes by bribes, pensions,
decorations, and military appointments. He finally was obliged to resort
to arms, but without complete success.

Such, in brief, were the acquisitions of Russia during the reign of
Nicholas down to the time of the Crimean war, which made him perhaps the
most powerful sovereign in the world. As Czar of all the Russias there
were no restraints on his will in his own dominions, and it was only as
he was held in check by the different governments of Europe, jealous of
his encroachments, that he was reminded that he was not omnipotent.

For fifteen years after his accession to the throne Nicholas had the
respect of Europe. He was moral in his domestic relations, fond of his
family, religious in his turn of mind, bordering on superstition, a
zealot in his defence of the Greek Church, scrupulous in the performance
of his duties, and a man of his word. The Duke of Wellington was his
admiration,--a model for a sovereign to imitate. Nicholas was not so
generous and impulsive as his brother Alexander, but more reliable. In
his personal appearance he made a fine impression,--over six feet in
height, with a frank and open countenance, but not expressive of
intellectual acumen. His will, however, was inflexible, and his anger
was terrible. His passionate temper, which gave way to bursts of wrath,
was not improved by his experiences. As time advanced he withdrew more
and more within himself, and grew fitful and jealous, disinclined to
seek advice, and distrustful of his counsellors; and we can scarcely
wonder at this result when we consider his absolute power and
unfettered will.

Few have been the kings and emperors who resembled Marcus Aurelius, who
was not only master of the world, but master of himself. Few indeed have
been the despots who have refrained from acts of cruelty, or who have
uniformly been governed by reason. Even in private life, very successful
men have an imperious air, as if they were accustomed to submission and
deference; but a monarch of Russia, how can he be otherwise than
despotic and self-conscious? Everybody he sees, every influence to which
he is subjected, tends to swell his egotism. What changes of character
marked Saul, David, and Solomon! So of Nicholas, as of the ancient
Caesars. With the advance of years and experience, his impatience grew
under opposition and his rage under defeat. No man yet has lived,
however favored, that could always have his way. He has to yield to
circumstances,--not only to those great ones which he may own to have
been determined by Divine Providence, but also to those unforeseen
impediments which come from his humblest instruments. He cannot prevent
deceit, hypocrisy, and treachery on the part of officials, any easier
than one can keep servants from lying and cheating. Who is not in the
power, more or less, of those who are compelled to serve; and when an
absolute monarch discovers that he has been led into mistakes by
treacherous or weak advisers, how natural that his temper should
be spoiled!

Thus was Nicholas in the latter years of his reign. He was thwarted by
foreign Powers, and deceived by his own instruments of despotic rule.
He found himself only a man, and like other men. He became suspicious,
bitter, and cruel. His pride was wounded by defeat and opposition from
least expected quarters. He found his burdens intolerable to bear. His
cares interfered with what were once his pleasures. The dreadful load of
public affairs, which he could not shake off, weighed down his soul with
anxiety and sorrow. He realized, more than most monarchs, the truth of
one of Shakespeare's incomparable utterances,--

     "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."

The mistakes and disappointments of the Crimean war finally broke his
heart; and he, armed with more power than any one man in the world, died
with the consciousness of a great defeat.

It would be interesting to show how seldom the great rulers of this
world have had an unchecked career to the close of their lives. Most of
them have had to ruminate on unexpected falls,--like Napoleon, Louis
Philippe, Metternich, Gladstone, Bismarck,--or on unattained objects of
ambition, like the great statesmen who have aspired to be presidents of
the United States. Nicholas thought that the capital of the "sick man"
was, like ripe fruit, ready to fall into his hands. After one hundred
years of war, Russia discovered that this prize was no nearer her
grasp. Nicholas, at the head of a million of disciplined troops, was
defeated; while his antagonist, the "sick man," could scarcely muster a
fifth part of the number, and yet survived to plague his thwarted will.

The obstacles to the conquest of Constantinople by Russia are, after
all, very great. There are only three ways by which a Russian general
can gain this coveted object of desire. The one which seems the easiest
is to advance by sea from Sebastopol, through the Black Sea, to the
Bosphorus, with a powerful fleet. But Turkey has or had a fleet of equal
size, while her allies, England and France, can sweep with ease from the
Black Sea any fleet which Russia can possibly collect.

The ordinary course of Russian troops has been to cross the Pruth, which
separates Russia from Moldavia, and advance through the Danubian
provinces to the Balkans, dividing Bulgaria from Turkey in Europe. Once
the Russian armies succeeded, amid innumerable difficulties, in
conquering all the fortresses in the way, like Silistria, Varna, and
Shumla; in penetrating the mountain passes of the Balkans, and making
their way to Adrianople. But they were so demoralized, or weakened and
broken, by disasters and privations, that they could get no farther than
Adrianople with safety, and their retreat was a necessity. And had the
Balkan passes been properly defended, as they easily could have been,
even a Napoleon could not have penetrated them with two hundred thousand
men, or any army which the Russians could possibly have brought there.

The third way open to the Russians in their advance to Constantinople is
to march the whole extent of the northern shores of the Black Sea, and
then cross the Caucasian range to the south, and advance around through
Turkey in Asia, its entire width from east to west, amidst a hostile and
fanatical population ready to die for their faith and country,--a way so
beset with difficulties and attended with such vast expense that success
would be almost impossible, even with no other foes than Turks.

The Emperor Nicholas was by nature stern and unrelenting. He had been
merciless in his treatment of the Poles. When he was friendly, his
frankness had an irresistible charm. During his twenty-seven years on
the throne he had both "reigned and governed." However, he was military,
without being warlike. With no talents for generalship, he bestowed
almost incredible attention upon the discipline of his armies. He
oppressively drilled his soldiers, without knowledge of tactics and
still less of strategy. Half his time was spent in inspecting his
armies. When, in 1828, he invaded Turkey, his organizations broke down
under an extended line of operations. For a long time thereafter he
suffered the Porte to live in repose, not being ready to destroy it,
waiting for his opportunity.

When the Pasha of Egypt revolted from the Sultan, and his son Ibrahim
seriously threatened the dismemberment of Turkey, England and France
interfered in behalf of Turkey; and in 1840 a convention in London
placed Turkey under the common safeguard of the five great
Powers,--England, France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia,--instead of the
protectorate exercised by Russia alone. After the fall of Hungary, a
number of civil and military leaders took refuge in Turkey, and Russia
and Austria demanded the expulsion of the refugees, which was
peremptorily refused by the Sultan. In consequence, Russia suspended all
diplomatic intercourse with Turkey, and sought a pretext for war. In
1844 the Czar visited England, doubtless with the purpose of winning
over Lord Aberdeen, then foreign secretary, and the Duke of Wellington,
on the ground that Turkey was in a state of hopeless decrepitude, and
must ultimately fall into his hands. In this event he was willing that
England, as a reward for her neutrality, should take possession
of Egypt.

It is thus probable that the Emperor Nicholas, after the failure of his
armies to reach Constantinople through the Danubian provinces and across
the Balkans, meditated, after twenty years of rest and recuperation,
the invasion of Constantinople by his fleet, which then controlled the
Black Sea.

But he reckoned without his host. He was deceived by the pacific
attitude of England, then ruled by the cabinet of Lord Aberdeen, who
absolutely detested war. The premier was almost a fanatic in his peace
principles, and was on the most friendly terms with Nicholas and his
ministers. The Czar could not be made to believe that England, under the
administration of Lord Aberdeen, would interfere with his favorite and
deeply meditated schemes of conquest. He saw no obstacles except from
the Turks themselves, timid and stricken with fears; so he strongly
fortified Sebastopol and made it impregnable by the sea, and quietly
gathered in its harbor an immense fleet, with which the Turkish
armaments could not compare. The Turkish naval power had never recovered
from the disaster which followed the battle of Navarino, when their
fleet was annihilated. With a crippled naval power and decline in
military strength, with defeated armies and an empty purse, it seemed to
the Czar that Turkey was crushed in spirit and Constantinople
defenceless; and that impression was strengthened by the representation
of his ambassador at the Porte,--Prince Mentchikof, who almost openly
insulted the Sultan by his arrogance, assumptions, and threats.

But a very remarkable man happened at that time to reside at
Constantinople as the ambassador of England, one in whom the Turkish
government had great confidence, and who exercised great influence over
it. This man was Sir Stratford Canning (a cousin of the great Canning),
who in 1852 was made viscount, with the title Lord Stratford de
Redcliffe. He was one of the ablest diplomatists then living, or that
England had ever produced, and all his sympathies were on the side of
Turkey. Mentchikof was no match for the astute Englishman, who for some
time controlled the Turkish government, and who baffled all the schemes
of Nicholas.

England--much as she desired the peace of Europe, and much as Lord
Aberdeen detested war--had no intention of allowing the "sick man" to
fall into the hands of Russia, and through her ambassador at
Constantinople gave encouragement to Turkey to resist the all-powerful
Russia with the secret promise of English protection; and as Lord
Stratford distrusted and disliked Russia, having since 1824 been
personally engaged in Eastern diplomacy and familiar with Russian
designs, he very zealously and with great ability fought the diplomatic
battles of Turkey, and inspired the Porte with confidence in the event
of war. It was by his dexterous negotiations that England was gradually
drawn into a warlike attitude against Russia, in spite of the
resolutions of the English premier to maintain peace at any cost.

In the meantime the English people, after their long peace of nearly
forty years, were becoming restless in view of the encroachments of
Russia, and were in favor of vigorous measures, even if they should lead
to war. The generation had passed away that remembered Waterloo, so that
public opinion was decidedly warlike, and goaded on the ministry to
measures which materially conflicted with Lord Aberdeen's peace
principles. The idea of war with Russia became popular,--partly from
jealousy of a warlike empire that aspired to the possession of
Constantinople, and partly from the English love of war itself, with its
excitements, after the dulness and inaction of a long period of peace
and prosperity. In 1853 England found herself drifting into war, to the
alarm and disgust of Aberdeen and Gladstone, to the joy of the people
and the satisfaction of Palmerston and a majority of the cabinet.

The third party to this Crimean contest was France, then ruled by Louis
Napoleon, who had lately become head of the State by a series of
political usurpations and crimes that must ever be a stain on his fame.
Yet he did not feel secure on his throne; the ancient nobles, the
intellect of the country, and the parliamentary leaders were against
him. They stood aloof from his government, regarding him as a traitor
and a robber, who by cunning and slaughter had stolen the crown. He was
supposed to be a man of inferior intellect, whose chief merit was the
ability to conceal his thoughts and hold his tongue, and whose power
rested on the army, the allegiance of which he had seduced by bribes and
promises. Feeling the precariousness of his situation, and the
instability of the people he had deceived with the usual Napoleonic
lies, which he called "ideas," he looked about for something to divert
their minds,--some scheme by which he could gain _éclat_; and the
difficulties between Russia and Turkey furnished him the occasion he
desired. He determined to employ his army in aid of Turkey. It would be
difficult to show what gain would result to France, for France did not
want additional territory in the East. But a war would be popular, and
Napoleon wanted popularity. Moreover, an alliance with England,
offensive and defensive, to check Russian encroachments, would
strengthen his own position, social as well as political. He needed
friends. It was his aim to enter the family of European monarchs, to be
on a good footing with them, to be one of them, as a legitimate
sovereign. The English alliance might bring Victoria herself to Paris as
his guest. The former prisoner of Ham, whom everybody laughed at as a
visionary or despised as an adventurer, would, by an alliance with
England, become the equal of Queen Victoria, and with infinitely greater
power. She was a mere figure-head in her government, to act as her
ministers directed; he, on the other hand, had France at his feet, and
dictated to his ministers what they should do.

The parties, then, in the Crimean war were Russia, seeking to crush
Turkey, with France and England coming to the rescue,--ostensibly to
preserve the "balance of power" in Europe.

But before considering the war itself, we must glance at the
preliminaries,--the movements which took place making war inevitable,
and which furnished the pretext for disturbing the peace of Europe.

First must be mentioned the contest for the possession of the sacred
shrines in the Holy Land. Pilgrimages to these shrines took place long
before Palestine fell into the hands of the Mohammedans. It was one of
the passions of the Middle Ages, and it was respected even by the Turks,
who willingly entered into the feelings of the Christians coming to
kneel at Jerusalem. Many sacred objects of reverence, if not idolatry,
were guarded by Christian monks, who were permitted by the government to
cherish them in their convents. But the Greek and the Latin convents,
allowed at Jerusalem by the Turkish government, equally aspired to the
guardianship of the Holy Sepulchre and other sacred shrines in
Jerusalem. It rested with the Turkish government to determine which of
the rival churches, Greek or Latin, should have the control of the
shrines, and it was a subject of perpetual controversy,--Russia, of
course, defending the claims of the Greek convents, who at this time had
long been the appointed guardians, and France now taking up those of the
Latin; although Russia was the more earnest in the matter, as holding a
right already allowed.

The new President of the French republic, in 1851, on the lookout for
subjects of controversy with Russia, had directed his ambassador at
Constantinople to demand from the Porte some almost forgotten grants
made to the Latin Church two or three hundred years before. This demand,
which the Sultan dared not refuse, was followed by the Turks' annulling
certain privileges which had long been enjoyed by the Greek convents;
and thus the ancient dispute was reopened. The Greek Church throughout
Russia was driven almost to frenzy by this act of the Turkish
government. The Czar Nicholas, himself a zealot in religion, was
indignant and furious; but the situation gave him a pretext for insults
and threats that would necessarily lead to war, which he desired as
eagerly as Louis Napoleon. The Porte, embarrassed and wishing for peace,
leaned for advice on the English ambassador, who, as has been said,
promised the mediation of England.

Then followed a series of angry negotiations and pressure made by Russia
and France alternately on the Sultan in reference to the guardianship of
the shrines,--as to who should possess the key of the chief door of the
Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem and of the church at Bethlehem, Greek or
Latin monks.

As the pressure made by France was the most potent, the Czar in his rage
ordered one of his _corps d'armée_ to advance to the frontiers of the
Danubian provinces, and another corps to hold itself in
readiness,--altogether a force of one hundred and forty-four thousand
men. The world saw two great nations quarrelling about a key to the door
of a church in Palestine; statesmen saw, on the one hand, the haughty
ambition of Nicholas seeking pretence for a war which might open to him
the gates of Constantinople, and, on the other hand, the schemes of the
French emperor--for the ten-year president elected in 1851 had in just
one year got himself "elected" emperor--to disturb the peace of Europe,
which might end in establishing more securely his own usurpation.

The warlike attitude of Russia in 1853 alarmed England, who was not
prepared to go to war. As has been said, Mentchikof was no match in the
arts of diplomacy for Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, and an angry and
lively war of diplomatic notes passed between them. The Czar discovered
that the English ambassador had more influence with the Porte than
Mentchikof, and became intensely angry. Lord Stratford ferreted out the
schemes of the Czar in regard to the Russian protectorate of the Greek
Church, which was one of his most cherished plans, and bent every energy
to defeat it. He did not care about the quarrels of the Greek and Latin
monks for the guardianship of the sacred shrines; but he did object to
the meditated protectorate of the Czar over the Greek subjects of
Turkey, which, if successful, would endanger the independence of the
Sultan, so necessary for the peace of Europe. All the despatches from.
St. Petersburg breathed impatience and wrath, and Mentchikof found
himself in great difficulties. The Russian ambassador even found means
to have the advantage of a private audience with the Sultan, without the
knowledge of the grand vizier; but the Sultan, though courteous,
remained firm. This ended the mission of the Russian ambassador, foiled
and baffled at every turn; while his imperial master, towering into
passion, lost all the reputation he had gained during his reign for
justice and moderation.

Within three days of the departure of Prince Mentchikof from
Constantinople, England and France began to concert measures together
for armed resistance to Russia, should war actually break out, which
seemed inevitable, for the Czar was filled with rage; and this in spite
of the fact that within two weeks the Sultan yielded the point as to the
privileges of Greek subjects in his empire,--but beyond that he stood
firm, and appealed to England and France.

The Czar now meditated the occupation of the Danubian principalities, in
order to enable his armies to march to Constantinople. But Austria and
Prussia would not consent to this, and the Czar found himself opposed
virtually by all Europe. He still labored under the delusion that
England would hold aloof, knowing the peace policy of the English
government under the leadership of Lord Aberdeen. Under this delusion,
and boiling over with anger, he suddenly, without taking counsel of his
ministers or of any living soul, touched a bell in his palace. The
officer in attendance received an order for the army to cross the Pruth.
On the 2d of July, 1853, Russia invaded the principalities. On the
following day a manifesto was read in her churches that the Czar made
war on Turkey in defence of the Greek religion; and all the fanatical
zeal of the Russians was at once excited to go where the Czar might send
them in behalf of their faith. Nothing could be more popular than such
a war.

But the hostile attitude taken by all Europe on the invasion of the
principalities, and by Austria in particular, was too great an obstacle
for even the Czar of all the Russias to disregard, especially when he
learned that the fleets of France and England were ordered to the
Dardanelles, and that his fleet would be pent up in an inland basin of
the Black Sea. It became necessary for Russia to renew negotiations. At
Vienna a note had been framed between four of the great Powers, by which
it was clear that they would all unite in resisting the Czar, if he did
not withdraw his armies from the principalities. The Porte promptly
determined on war, supported by the advice of a great Council, attended
by one hundred and seventy-two of the foremost men of the empire, and
fifteen days were given to Russia to withdraw her troops from the
principalities. At the expiration of that term, the troops not being
withdrawn, on October 5 war was declared by Turkey.

The war on the part of Turkey was defensive, necessary, and popular. The
religious sentiment of the whole nation was appealed to, and not in
vain. It is difficult for any nation to carry on a great war unless it
is supported by the people. In Turkey and throughout the scattered
dominions of the Sultan, religion and patriotism and warlike ardor
combined to make men arise by their own free-will, and endure fatigue,
danger, hunger, and privation for their country and their faith. The
public dangers were great; for Russia was at the height of her power and
prestige, and the Czar was known to have a determined will, not to be
bent by difficulties which were not insurmountable.

Meanwhile the preachers of the Orthodox Greek faith were not behind the
Mohammedans in rousing the martial and religious spirit of nearly one
hundred millions of the subjects of the Russian autocrat. In his
proclamation the Czar urged inviolable guaranties in favor of the sacred
rights of the Orthodox Church, and pretended (as is usual with all
parties in going to war) that he was challenged to the fight, and that
his cause was just. He then invoked the aid of Almighty Power. It was
rather a queer thing for a warlike sovereign, entering upon an
aggressive war to gratify ambition, to quote the words of David: "In
thee, O Lord, have I trusted: let me not be confounded forever."

Urged on and goaded by the French emperor, impatient of delay, and
obtuse to all further negotiations for peace, which Lord Aberdeen still
hoped to secure, the British government at last gave orders for its
fleet to proceed to Constantinople. The Czar, so long the ally of
England, was grieved and indignant at what appeared to him to be a
breach of treaties and an affront to him personally, and determined on
vengeance. He ordered his fleet at Sebastopol to attack a Turkish fleet
anchored near Sinope, which was done Nov. 30, 1853. Except a single
steamer, every one of the Turkish vessels was destroyed, and four
thousand Turks were killed.

The anger of both the French and English people was now fairly roused by
this disaster, and Lord Aberdeen found himself powerless to resist the
public clamor for war. Lord Palmerston, the most popular and powerful
minister that England had, resigned his seat in the cabinet, and openly
sided with the favorite cause. Lord Aberdeen was compelled now to let
matters take their course, and the English fleet was ordered to the
Black Sea; but war was not yet declared by the Western Powers, since
there still remained some hopes of a peaceful settlement.

Meanwhile Prussia and Austria united in a league, offensive and
defensive, to expel the Russians from the Danubian provinces, which
filled the mind of Nicholas with more grief than anger; for he had
counted on the neutrality of Austria and Prussia, as he had on the
neutrality of England. It was his misfortune to believe what he wished,
rather than face facts.

On the 27th of March, 1854, however, after a winter of diplomacy and
military threatenings and movements, which effected nothing like a
settlement, France and England declared war against Russia; on the 11th
of April the Czar issued his warlike manifesto, and Europe blazed with
preparations for one of the most needless and wicked contests in modern
times. All parties were to blame; but on Russia the greatest odium rests
for disturbing the peace of Europe, although the Czar at the outset had
no idea of fighting the Western Powers. In a technical point of view the
blame of beginning the dispute which led to the Crimean war rests with
France, for she opened and renewed the question of the guardianship of
the sacred shrines, which had long been under the protection of the
Greek Church; and it was the intrigues of Louis Napoleon which entangled
England. The latter country was also to blame for her jealousy of
Russian encroachments, fearing that they would gradually extend to
English possessions in the East. Had Nicholas known the true state of
English public opinion he might have refrained from actual hostilities;
but he was misled by the fact that Lord Aberdeen had given assurances of
a peace policy.

Although France and England entered upon the war only with the intention
at first of protecting Turkey, and were mere allies for that purpose,
yet these two Powers soon bore the brunt of the contest, which really
became a strife between Russia on the one side and England and France on
the other. Moreover, instead of merely defending Turkey against Russia,
the allied Powers assumed the offensive, and thus took the
responsibility for all the disastrous consequences of the war.

The command of the English army had been intrusted to Lord Raglan, once
known as Lord Fitzroy Somerset, who lost an arm at the battle of
Waterloo while on the staff of Wellington; a wise and experienced
commander, but too old for such service as was now expected of him in an
untried field of warfare. Besides, it was a long time since he had seen
active service. When appointed to the command he was sixty-six years
old. From 1827 to 1852 he was military secretary at the Horse
Guards,--the English War Office,--where he was made master-general of
the Ordnance, and soon after became a full general. He was taciturn but
accessible, and had the power of attracting everybody to him; averse to
all show and parade; with an uncommon power for writing both good
English and French,--an accomplished man, from whom much was expected.

The command of the French forces was given to Marshal Saint-Arnaud, a
bold, gay, reckless, enterprising man, who had distinguished himself in
Algeria as much for his indifference to human life as for his
administrative talents,--ruthless, but not bloodthirsty. He was only
colonel when Fleury, the arch-conspirator and friend of Louis Napoleon,
was sent to Algeria to find some officer of ability who could be bribed
to join in the meditated _coup d'état_. Saint-Arnaud listened to his
proposals, and was promised the post of minister of war, which would
place the army under his control, for all commanders would receive
orders from him. He was brought to Paris and made minister of war, with
a view to the great plot of the 2d of December, and later was created a
Marshal of France. His poor health (the result of his excesses) made him
unfit to be intrusted with the forces for the invasion of the Crimea;
but his military reputation was better than his moral, and in spite of
his unfitness the emperor--desirous still further to reward his partisan
services--put him in command of the French Crimean forces.

The first military operations took place on the Danube. The Russians
then occupied the Danubian principalities, and had undertaken the siege
of Silistria, which was gallantly defended by the Turks, before the
allied French and English armies could advance to its relief; but it was
not till the middle of May that the allied armies were in full force,
and took up their position at Varna.

Nicholas was now obliged to yield. He could not afford to go to war with
Prussia, Austria, France, England, and Turkey together. It had become
impossible for him to invade European Turkey by the accustomed route.
So, under pressure of their assembling forces, he withdrew his troops
from the Danubian provinces, which removed all cause of hostilities from
Prussia and Austria. These two great Powers now left France and England
to support all the burdens of the war. If Prussia and Austria had not
withdrawn from the alliance, the Crimean war would not have taken place,
for Russia would have made peace with Turkey. It was on the 2d of
August, 1854, that the Russians recrossed the Pruth, and the Austrians
took possession of the principalities.

England might now have withdrawn from the contest but for her alliance
with France,--an entangling alliance, indeed; but Lord Palmerston,
seeing that war was inevitable, withdrew his resignation, and the
British cabinet became a unit, supported by the nation. Lord Aberdeen
still continued to be premier; but Palmerston was now the leading
spirit, and all eyes turned to him. The English people, who had
forgotten what war was, upheld the government, and indeed goaded it on
to war. The one man who did not drift was the secretary for foreign
affairs, Lord Palmerston, who went steadily ahead, and gained his
object,--a check upon Russia's power in the East.

This statesman was a man of great abilities, with a strong desire for
power under the guise of levity and good-nature. He was far-reaching,
bold, and of concentrated energy; but his real character was not fully
comprehended until the Crimean war, although he was conspicuous in
politics for forty years. His frank utterances, his off-hand manner, his
ready banter, and his joyous eyes captivated everybody, and veiled his
stern purposes. He was distrusted at St. Petersburg because of his
alliance with Louis Napoleon, his hatred of the Bourbons, and his
masking the warlike tendency of the government which he was soon to
lead, for Lord Aberdeen was not the man to conduct a war with Russia.

At this point, as stated above, the war might have terminated, for the
Russians had abandoned the principalities; but at home the English had
been roused by Louis Napoleon's friends and by the course of events to a
fighting temper, and the French emperor's interests would not let him
withdraw; while in the field neither the Turkish nor French nor English
troops were to be contented with less than the invasion of the Russian
territories. Turkey was now in no danger of invasion by the Russians,
for they had been recalled from the principalities, and the fleets of
England and France controlled the Black Sea. From defensive measures
they turned to offensive.

The months of July and August were calamitous to the allied armies at
Varna; not from battles, but from pestilence, which was fearful. On the
26th of August it was determined to re-embark the decimated troops,
sail for the Crimea, and land at some place near Sebastopol. The capture
of this fortress was now the objective point of the war. On the 13th of
September the fleets anchored in Eupatoria Bay, on the west coast of the
Crimean peninsula, and the disembarkation of the troops took place
without hindrance from the Russians, who had taken up a strong position
on the banks of the Alma, which was apparently impregnable. There the
Russians, on their own soil and in their intrenched camp, wisely awaited
the advance of their foes on the way to Sebastopol, the splendid
seaport, fortress, and arsenal at the extreme southwestern point of
the Crimea.

There were now upon the coasts of the Crimea some thirty-seven thousand
French and Turks with sixty-eight pieces of artillery (all under the
orders of Marshal Saint-Arnaud), and some twenty-seven thousand English
with sixty guns,--altogether about sixty-four thousand men and one
hundred and twenty-eight guns. It was intended that the fleets should
follow the march of the armies, in order to furnish the necessary
supplies. The march was perilous, without a base of supplies on the
coast itself, and without a definite knowledge of the number or
resources of the enemy. It required a high order of military genius to
surmount the difficulties and keep up the spirits of the troops. The
French advanced in a line on the coast nearest the sea; the English
took up their line of march towards the south, on the left, farther in
the interior. The French were protected by the fleets on the one hand
and by the English on the other. The English therefore were exposed to
the greater danger, having their entire left flank open to the enemy's
fire. The ground over which the Western armies marched was an undulating
steppe. They marched in closely massed columns, and they marched in
weariness and silence, for they had not recovered from the fatal
pestilence at Varna. The men were weak, and suffered greatly from
thirst. At length they came to the Alma River, where the Russians were
intrenched on the left bank. The allies were of course compelled to
cross the river under the fire of the enemies' batteries, and then
attack their fortified positions, and drive the Russians from
their post.

All this was done successfully. The battle of the Alma was gained by the
invaders, but only with great losses. Prince Mentchikof, who commanded
the Russians, beheld with astonishment the defeat of the troops he had
posted in positions believed to be secure from capture by assault. The
genius of Lord Raglan, of Saint-Arnaud, of General Bosquet, of Sir Colin
Campbell, of Canrobert, of Sir de Lacy Evans, of Sir George Brown, had
carried the day. Both sides fought with equal bravery, but science was
on the side of the allies. In the battle, Sir Colin Campbell greatly
distinguished himself leading a Highland brigade; also General
Codrington, who stormed the great redoubt, which was supposed to be
impregnable. This probably decided the battle, the details of which it
is not my object to present. Its great peculiarity was that the Russians
fought in solid column, and the allies in extended lines.

After the day was won, Lord Raglan pressed Saint-Arnaud to the pursuit
of the enemy; but the French general was weakened by illness, and his
energies failed. Had Lord Raglan's counsels been followed, the future
disasters of the allied armies might have been averted. The battle was
fought on the 20th of September; but the allied armies halted on the
Alma until the 23d, instead of pushing on directly to Sebastopol,
twenty-five miles to the south. This long halt was owing to
Saint-Arnaud, who felt it was necessary to embark the wounded on the
ships before encountering new dangers. This refusal of the French
commander to advance directly to the attack of the forts on the north of
Sebastopol was unfortunate, for there would have been but slight
resistance, the main body of the Russians having withdrawn to the south
of the city. All this necessitated a flank movement of the allies, which
was long and tedious, eastward, across the north side of Sebastopol to
the south of it, where the Russians were intrenched. They crossed the
Belbec (a small river) without serious obstruction, and arrived in sight
of Sebastopol, which they were not to enter that autumn as they had
confidently expected. The Russian to whom the stubborn defence of
Sebastopol was indebted more than to any other man,--Lieut.-Colonel
Todleben,--had thoroughly and rapidly fortified the city on the north
after the battle of the Alma.

It was the opinion of Todleben himself, afterward expressed,--which was
that of Lord Raglan, and also of Sir Edmund Lyons, commanding the
fleet,--that the Star Fort which defended Sebastopol on the north,
however strong, was indefensible before the forces that the allies could
have brought to bear against it. Had the Star Fort been taken, the whole
harbor of Sebastopol would have been open to the fire of the allies, and
the city--needed for refuge as well as for glory--would have fallen into
their hands.

The condition of the allied armies was now critical, since they had no
accurate knowledge of the country over which they were to march on the
east of Sebastopol, nor of the strength of the enemy, who controlled the
sea-shore. On the morning of the 25th of September the flank march
began, through tangled forests, by the aid of the compass. It was a
laborious task for the troops, especially since they had not regained
their health from the ravages of the cholera in Bulgaria. Two days'
march, however, brought the English army to the little port of
Balaklava, on the south of Sebastopol, where the land and sea
forces met.

Soon after the allied armies had arrived at Balaklava, Saint-Arnaud was
obliged by his fatal illness to yield up his command to Marshal
Canrobert, and a few days later he died,--an unprincipled, but a brave
and able man.

The Russian forces meanwhile, after the battle of the Alma, had
retreated to Sebastopol in order to defend the city, which the allies
were preparing to attack. Prince Mentchikof then resolved upon a bold
measure for the defence of the city, and this was to sink his ships at
the mouth of the harbor, by which he prevented the English and French
fleets from entering it, and gained an additional force of eighteen
thousand seamen to his army. Loath was the Russian admiral to make this
sacrifice, and he expostulated with the general-in-chief, but was
obliged to obey. This sinking of their fleet by the Russians reminds one
of the conflagration of Moscow,--both desperate and sacrificial acts.

The French and English forces were now on the south side of Sebastopol,
in communication with their fleet at Balaklava, and were flushed with
victory, while the forces opposed to them were probably inferior in
number. Why did not the allies at once begin the assault of the city?
It was thought to be prudent to wait for the arrival of their siege
guns. While these heavy guns were being brought from the ships,
Todleben--the ablest engineer then living--was strengthening the
defences on the south side. Every day's delay added to the difficulties
of attack. Three weeks of precious time were thus lost, and when on the
17th of October the allies began the bombardment of Sebastopol, which
was to precede the attack, their artillery was overpowered by that of
the defenders. The fleets in vain thundered against the solid sea-front
of the fortress. After a terrible bombardment of eight days the defences
of the city were unbroken.

Mentchikof, meanwhile, had received large reinforcements, and prepared
to attack the allies from the east. His point of attack was Balaklava,
the defence of which had been intrusted to Sir Colin Campbell. The
battle was undecisive, but made memorable by the sacrifice of the "Light
Brigade,"--about six hundred cavalry troops under the command of the
Earl of Cardigan. This arose from a misunderstanding on the part of the
Earl of Lucan, commander of the cavalry division, of an order from Lord
Raglan to attack the enemy. Lord Cardigan was then directed by Lucan to
rescue certain guns which the enemy had captured. He obeyed, in the face
of batteries in front and on both flanks. The slaughter was
terrible,--in fact, the brigade was nearly annihilated. The news of this
disaster made a deep impression on the English nation, and caused grave
apprehensions as to the capacity of the cavalry commanders, neither of
whom had seen much military service, although both were over fifty years
of age and men of ability and bravery. The "Heavy Brigade" of cavalry,
commanded by General Scarlett, who also was more than fifty years old
and had never seen service in the field, almost redeemed the error by
which that commanded by Lord Cardigan was so nearly destroyed. With six
hundred men he charged up a long slope, and plunged fearlessly into a
body of three thousand Russian cavalry, separated it into segments,
disorganized it, and drove it back,--one of the most brilliant cavalry
operations in modern times.

The battle of Balaklava, on the 25th of October, was followed, November
5, by the battle of Inkerman, when the English were unexpectedly
assaulted, under cover of a deep mist, by an overwhelming body of
Russians. The Britons bravely stood their ground against the massive
columns which Mentchikof had sent to crush them, and repelled the enemy
with immense slaughter; but this battle made the capture of Sebastopol,
as planned by the allies, impossible. The forces of the Russians were
double in number to those of the allies, and held possession of a
fortress against which a tremendous cannonade had been in vain. The
prompt sagacity and tremendous energy of Todleben repaired every breach
as fast as it was made; and by his concentration of great numbers of
laborers at the needed points, huge earthworks arose like magic before
the astonished allies. They made no headway; their efforts were in vain;
the enterprise had failed. It became necessary to evacuate the Crimea,
or undertake a slow winter siege in the presence of superior forces,
amid difficulties which had not been anticipated, and for which no
adequate provision had been made.

The allies chose the latter alternative; and then began a series of
calamities and sufferings unparalleled in the history of war since the
retreat of Napoleon from Moscow. First came a terrible storm on the 14th
of November, which swept away the tents of the soldiers encamped on a
plateau near Balaklava, and destroyed twenty-one vessels bringing
ammunition and stores to the hungry and discouraged army. There was a
want of everything to meet the hardships of a winter campaign on the
stormy shores of the Black Sea,--suitable clothing, fuel, provisions,
medicines, and camp equipage. It never occurred to the minds of those
who ordered and directed this disastrous expedition that Sebastopol
would make so stubborn a defence; but the whole force of the Russian
empire which could be spared was put forth by the Emperor Nicholas, thus
rendering necessary continual reinforcements from France and England to
meet armies superior in numbers, and to supply the losses occasioned by
disease and hardship greater than those on the battlefield. The horrors
of that dreadful winter on the Crimean peninsula, which stared in the
face not only the French and English armies but also the Russians
themselves, a thousand miles from their homes, have never been fully
told. They form one of the most sickening chapters in the annals of war.

Not the least of the misfortunes which the allies suffered was the loss
of the causeway, or main road, from Balaklava to the high grounds where
they were encamped. It had been taken by the Russians three weeks
before, and never regained. The only communication from the camp to
Balaklava, from which the stores and ammunition had to be brought, was a
hillside track, soon rendered almost impassable by the rains. The wagons
could not be dragged through the mud, which reached to their axles, and
the supplies had to be carried on the backs of mules and horses, of
which there was an insufficient number. Even the horses rapidly perished
from fatigue and hunger.

Thus were the French and English troops pent up on a bleak promontory,
sick and disheartened, with uncooked provisions, in the middle of
winter. Of course they melted away even in the hospitals to which they
were sent on the Levant. In those hospitals there was a terrible
mortality. At Scutari alone nine thousand perished before the end of
February, 1855.

The reports of these disasters, so unexpected and humiliating, soon
reached England through the war correspondents and private letters, and
produced great exasperation. The Press was unsparing in its
denunciations of the generals, and of the ministry itself, in not
providing against the contingencies of the war, which had pent up two
large armies on a narrow peninsula, from which retreat was almost
impossible in view of the superior forces of the enemy and the dreadful
state of the roads. The armies of the allies had nothing to do but fight
the elements of Nature, endure their unparalleled hardships the best way
they could, and patiently await results.

The troops of both the allied nations fought bravely and behaved
gallantly; but they fought against Nature, against disease, against
forces vastly superior to themselves in number. One is reminded, in
reading the history of the Crimean war, of the ancient crusaders rather
than of modern armies with their vast scientific machinery, so numerous
were the mistakes, and so unexpected were the difficulties of the
attacking armies. One is amazed that such powerful and enlightened
nations as the English and French could have made so many blunders. The
warning voices of Aberdeen, of Gladstone, of Cobden, of Bright, against
the war had been in vain amid the tumult of military preparations; but
it was seen at last that they had been thy true prophets of their day.

Nothing excited more commiseration than the dreadful state of the
hospitals in the Levant, to which the sick and wounded were sent; and
this terrible exigency brought women to the rescue. Their volunteered
services were accepted by Mr. Sidney Herbert, the secretary-at-war, and
through him by the State. On the 4th of November Florence Nightingale,
called the "Lady-in-Chief," disembarked at Scutari and began her useful
and benevolent mission,--organizing the nurses, and doing work for which
men were incapable,--in those hospitals infected with deadly poisons.

The calamities of a questionable war, made known by the Press, at last
roused public indignation, and so great was the popular clamor that Lord
Aberdeen was compelled to resign a post for which he was plainly
incapable,--at least in war times. He was succeeded by Lord
Palmerston,--the only man who had the confidence of the nation. In the
new ministry Lord Panmure (Fox Maule) succeeded the Duke of Newcastle
as minister of war.

After midwinter the allied armies began to recover their health and
strength, through careful nursing, better sanitary measures, and
constant reinforcements, especially from France. At last a railway was
made between Balaklava and the camps, and a land-transport corps was
organized. By March, 1855, cattle in large quantities were brought from
Spain on the west and Armenia on the east, from Wallachia on the north
and the Persian Gulf on the south. Seventeen thousand men now provided
the allied armies with provisions and other supplies, with the aid of
thirty thousand beasts of burden.

It was then that Sardinia joined the Western Alliance with fifteen
thousand men,--an act of supreme wisdom on the part of Cavour, since it
secured the friendship of France in his scheme for the unity of Italy. A
new plan of operations was now adopted by the allies, which was for the
French to attack Sebastopol at the Malakoff, protecting the city on the
east, while the English concentrated their efforts on the Redan, another
salient point of the fortifications. In the meantime Canrobert was
succeeded in the command of the French army by Pélissier,--a resolute
soldier who did not owe his promotion to complicity in the
_coup d'état_.

On the 18th of June a general assault was made by the combined
armies--now largely reinforced--on the Redan and the Malakoff, but they
were driven back by the Russians with great loss; and three months more
were added to the siege. Fatigue, anxiety, and chagrin now carried off
Lord Raglan, who died on the 28th of June, leaving the command to
General Simpson. By incessant labors the lines of the besiegers were
gradually brought nearer the Russian fortifications. On the 16th of
August the French and Sardinians gained a decisive victory over the
Russians, which prevented Sebastopol from receiving further assistance
from without. On September 9 the French succeeded in storming the
Malakoff, which remained in their hands, although the English were
unsuccessful in their attack upon the Redan. On the fall of the Malakoff
the Russian commander blew up his magazines, while the French and
English demolished the great docks of solid masonry, the forts, and
defences of the place. Thus Sebastopol, after a siege of three hundred
and fifty days, became the prize of the invaders, at a loss, on their
part, of a hundred thousand men, and a still greater loss on the part of
the defenders, since provisions, stores, and guns had to be transported
at immense expense from the interior of Russia. In Russia there was no
free Press to tell the people of the fearful sacrifices to which they
had been doomed; but the Czar knew the greatness of his losses, both in
men and military stores; and these calamities broke his heart, for he
died before the fall of the fortress which he had resolved to defend
with all the forces of his empire. Probably three hundred thousand
Russians had perished in the conflict, and the resources of Russia were

France had now become weary of a war which brought so little glory and
entailed such vast expense. England, however, would have continued the
war at any expense and sacrifice if Louis Napoleon had not secretly
negotiated with the new Czar, Alexander II.; for England was bent on
such a crippling of Russia as would henceforth prevent that colossal
power from interfering with the English possessions in the East, which
the fall of Kars seemed to threaten. The Czar, too, would have held out
longer but for the expostulation of Austria and the advice of his
ministers, who pointed out his inability to continue the contest with
the hostility of all Europe.

On the 25th of February, 1856, the plenipotentiaries of the great Powers
assembled in Paris, and on the 30th of March the Treaty of Paris was
signed, by which the Black Sea was thrown open to the mercantile marine
of all nations, but interdicted to ships of war. Russia ceded a portion
of Bessarabia, which excluded her from the Danube; and all the Powers
guaranteed the independence of the Ottoman Empire. At the end of
fourteen years, the downfall of Louis Napoleon enabled Russia to declare
that it would no longer recognize the provisions of a treaty which
excluded its war-ships from the Black Sea. England alone was not able to
resist the demands of Russia, and in consequence Sebastopol arose from
its ruins as powerful as ever.

The object, therefore, for which England and France went to war--the
destruction of Russian power on the Black Sea--was only temporarily
gained. From three to four hundred thousand men had been sacrificed
among the different combatants, and probably not less than a thousand
million dollars in treasure had been wasted,--perhaps double that sum.
France gained nothing of value, while England lost military prestige.
Russia undoubtedly was weakened, and her encroachments toward the East
were delayed; but to-day that warlike empire is in the same relative
position that it was when the Czar sent forth his mandate for the
invasion of the Danubian principalities. In fact, all parties were the
losers, and none were the gainers, by this needless and wicked
war,--except perhaps the wily Napoleon III., who was now firmly seated
on his throne.

The Eastern question still remains unsettled, and will remain unsettled
until new complications, which no genius can predict, shall re-enkindle
the martial passions of Europe. These are not and never will be
extinguished until Christian civilization shall beat swords into
ploughshares. When shall be this consummation of the victories of peace?


A. W. Kinglake's Invasion of the Crimea; C. de Bazancourt's Crimean
Expedition; G. B. McClellan's Reports on the Art of War in Europe in
1855-1856; R. C. McCormick's Visit to the Camp before Sebastopol; J. D.
Morell's Neighbors of Russia, and History of the War to the Siege of
Sebastopol; Pictorial History of the Russian War; Russell's British
Expedition to the Crimea; General Todleben's History of the Defence of
Sebastopol; H. Tyrrell's History of the War with Russia; Fyffe's History
of Modern Europe; Life of Lord Palmerston; Life of Louis Napoleon.




Prince Louis Napoleon, or, as he afterward became, Emperor Napoleon
III., is too important a personage to be omitted in the sketch of
European history during the nineteenth century. It is not yet time to
form a true estimate of his character and deeds, since no impartial
biographies of him have yet appeared, and since he died less than thirty
years ago. The discrepancy of opinion respecting him is even greater
than that concerning his illustrious uncle.

No one doubts that the first Napoleon was the greatest figure of his
age, and the greatest general that the world has produced, with the
exception alone of Alexander and Caesar. No one questions his
transcendent abilities, his unrivalled fame, and his potent influence on
the affairs of Europe for a quarter of a century, leaving a name so
august that its mighty prestige enabled his nephew to steal his sceptre;
and his character has been so searchingly and critically sifted that
there is unanimity among most historians as to his leading traits,--a
boundless ambition and unscruplous adaptation of means to an end: that
end his self-exaltation at any cost. His enlarged and enlightened
intellect was sullied by hypocrisy, dissimulation, and treachery,
accompanied by minor faults with which every one is familiar, but which
are often overlooked in the immense services he rendered to his country
and to civilization.

Napoleon III., aspiring to imitate his uncle, also contributed important
services, but was not equal to the task he assumed, and made so many
mistakes that he can hardly be called a great man, although he performed
a great _rôle_ in the drama of European politics, and at one time
occupied a superb position. With him are associated the three great
international wars which took place in the interval between the
banishment of Napoleon I. to St. Helena and the establishment of the
French Republic on its present basis,--a period of more than fifty
years,--namely, the Crimean war; the war between Austria, France, and
Italy; and the Franco-Prussian war, which resulted in the humiliation of
France and the exaltation of Prussia.

When Louis Napoleon came into power in 1848, on the fall of Louis
Philippe, it was generally supposed that European nations had sheathed
the sword against one another, and that all future contests would be
confined to enslaved peoples seeking independence, with which contests
other nations would have nothing to do; but Louis Napoleon, as soon as
he had established his throne on the ruins of French liberties, knew no
other way to perpetuate his dominion than by embroiling the nations of
Europe in contests with one another, in order to divert the minds of the
French people from the humiliation which the loss of their liberties had
caused, and to direct their energies in new channels,--in other words,
to inflate them with visions of military glory as his uncle had done, by
taking advantage of the besetting and hereditary weakness of the
national character. In the meantime the usurper bestowed so many
benefits on the middle and lower classes, gave such a stimulus to trade,
adorned his capital with such magnificent works of art, and increased so
manifestly the material prosperity of France, that his reign was
regarded as benignant and fortunate by most people, until the whole
edifice which he had built to dazzle the world tumbled down in a single
day after his disastrous defeat at Sedan,--the most humiliating fall
which any French dynasty ever experienced.

Louis Napoleon offers in his own person an example of those extremes of
fortune which constitute the essence of romantic conditions and appeal
to the imagination. The third son of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland
(brother of Napoleon), and Hortense Beauharnais, daughter of the Empress
Josephine by her first marriage, he was born in Paris, in the palace of
the Tuileries, April 20, 1808. Living in Switzerland, with his mother
and brother (Napoleon Louis), he was well-educated, expert in all
athletic sports,--especially in riding and fencing,--and trained to the
study and practice of artillery and military engineering. The two
brothers engaged in an Italian revolt in 1830; both fell ill, and while
one died the other was saved by the mother's devotion. In 1831 the Poles
made an insurrection, and offered Louis Napoleon their chief command and
the crown of Poland; but the death, in 1832, of the only son of his
uncle aroused Louis's ambition for a larger place, and the sovereignty
of France became his "fixed idea." He studied hard, wrote and published
several political and military works, and in 1836 made a foolish attempt
at a Napoleonic revolt against Louis Philippe. It ended in humiliating
failure, and he was exiled to America, where he lived in obscurity for
about a year; but he returned to Switzerland to see his dying mother,
and then was obliged to flee to England. In 1838 he published his
"Napoleonic Ideas;" in 1840 he made, at Boulogne, another weak
demonstration upon the French throne, and was imprisoned in the
fortress of Ham. Here he did much literary work, but escaped in 1848 to
Belgium, whence he hurried back to Paris when the revolution broke out.
Getting himself elected a deputy in the National Assembly, he took
his seat.

The year 1848, when Louis Napoleon appeared on the stage of history, was
marked by extraordinary political and social agitations, not merely in
France but throughout Europe. It saw the unexpected fall of the
constitutional monarchy in France, which had been during eighteen years
firmly upheld by Louis Philippe, with the assistance of the ablest and
wisest ministers the country had known for a century,--the policy of
which was pacific, and the leading political idea of which was an
alliance with Great Britain. The king fled before the storm of
revolutionary ideas,--as Metternich was obliged to do in Vienna, and
Ferdinand in Naples,--and a provisional government succeeded, of which
Lamartine was the central figure. A new legislative assembly was chosen
to support a republic, in which the most distinguished men of France, of
all opinions, were represented. Among the deputies was Louis Napoleon,
who had hastened from England to take part in the revolution. He sat on
the back benches of the Chamber neglected, silent, and despised by the
leading men in France, but not yet hated nor feared.

When a President of the Republic had to be chosen by the suffrages of
the people, Louis Napoleon unexpectedly received a great majority of the
votes. He had been quietly carrying on his "presidential campaign"
through his agents, who appealed to the popular love for the name
of Napoleon.

The old political leaders, amazed and confounded, submitted to the
national choice, yet stood aloof from a man without political
experience, who had always been an exile when he had not been a
prisoner. Most of them had supposed that Bonapartism was dead; but the
peasantry in the provinces still were enthralled by the majesty and
mighty prestige of that conqueror who had been too exalted for envy and
too powerful to be resisted. To the provincial votes chiefly Louis
Napoleon owed his election as President,--and the election was fair. He
came into power by the will of the nation if any man ever did,--by the
spontaneous enthusiasm of the people for the name he bore, not for his
own abilities and services; and as he proclaimed, on his accession, a
policy of peace (which the people believed) and loyalty to the
Constitution,--Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality, the watchwords of the
Revolution,--even more, as he seemed to represent the party of order, he
was regarded by such statesmen as Thiers and Montalembert as the least
dangerous of the candidates; and they gave their moral support to his
government, while they declined to take office under him.

The new President appointed the famous De Tocqueville as his first prime
minister, who after serving a few months resigned, because he would not
be the pliant tool of his master. Louis Napoleon then had to select
inferior men for his ministers, who also soon discovered that they were
expected to be his clerks, not his advisers. At first he was regarded by
the leading classes with derision rather than fear,--so mean was his
personal appearance, so spiritless his address, so cold and dull was his
eye, and so ridiculous were his antecedents. "The French," said Thiers,
long afterward, "made two mistakes about Louis Napoleon,--the first,
when they took him for a fool; the second, when they took him for a man
of genius." It was not until he began to show a will of his own, a
determination to be his own prime minister, that those around him saw
his dangerous ambition, his concealed abilities, and his unscrupulous

Nothing of importance marked the administration of the President, except
hostility to the Assembly, and their endless debates on the
constitution. Both the President and the Assembly feared the influence
of the ultra-democrats and Red Republicans,--socialists and anarchists,
who fomented their wild schemes among the common people of the large
cities. By curtailing the right of suffrage the Assembly became
unpopular, and Louis Napoleon gained credit as the friend of order
and law.

As the time approached when, by the Constitution, he would be obliged to
lay down his office and return to private life, the President became
restless, and began to plot for the continuance of his power. He had
tasted its sweets, and had no intention to surrender it. If he could
have been constitutionally re-elected, he probably would not have
meditated a _coup d'état_, for it was in accordance with his indolent
character to procrastinate. With all his ambition, he was patient,
waiting for opportunities to arise; and yet he never relinquished an
idea or an intention,--it was ever in his mind: he would simply wait,
and quietly pursue the means of success. He had been trained to
meditation in his prison at Ham; and he had learned to disguise his
thoughts and his wishes. The power which had been developed in him in
the days of his obscurity and adversity was cunning. As a master of
cunning he saw the necessity of reserve, mistrust, and silence.

The first move of the President to gain his end was to secure a revision
of the Constitution. The Assembly, by a vote of three-fourths, could by
the statutes of 1848 order a revision; a revision could remove the
clause which prohibited his re-election, and a re-election was all he
then pretended to want. But the Assembly, jealous of its liberties,
already suspicious and even hostile, showed no disposition to smooth his
way. He clearly saw that some other means must be adopted. He naturally
turned to the army; but the leading generals distrusted him, and were in
the ranks of his enemies. They were all Orléanists or Republicans.

The ablest general in France was probably Changarnier, who had greatly
distinguished himself in Algeria. He had been called, on the change of
government, to the high post of commander of the National Guards and
general of the first military division, which was stationed at Paris. He
had been heard to say that if Louis Napoleon should undertake a _coup
d'état_, he would conduct him as a prisoner to Vincennes. This was
reported to the President, who at once resolved to remove him, both from
hostility and fear. On Changarnier's removal the ministry resigned.
Their places were taken by tools still more subservient.

Nothing now remained but to prepare for the meditated usurpation. The
first thing to be done was to secure an able and unscrupulous minister
of war, who could be depended upon. As all the generals received their
orders from the minister of war, he was the most powerful man in France,
next to the President. Such was military discipline that no subordinate
dared to disobey him.

There were then no generals of ability in France whom Louis Napoleon
could trust, and he turned his eyes to Algeria, where some one might be
found. He accordingly sent his most intimate friend and confidant, Major
Fleury, able but unscrupulous, to Algeria to discover the right kind of
man, who could be bribed. He found a commander of a brigade, by name
Saint-Arnaud, extravagant, greatly in debt, who had done some brave and
wicked things. It was not difficult to seduce a reckless man who wanted
money and preferment. Fleury promised him the high office of minister of
war, when he should have done something to distinguish himself in the
eyes of the Parisians. Saint-Arnaud, who proved that he could keep a
secret, was at once promoted, and a campaign was arranged for him in the
summer of 1851, in which he won some distinction by wanton waste of
life. His exploits were exaggerated, the venal Press sounded his
praises, and he was recalled to Paris and made minister of war; for the
President by the Constitution could nominate his ministers and appoint
the high officers of State. Other officers were brought from Algeria and
made his subordinates. The command of the army of Paris was given to
General Magnan, who was in the secret. The command of the National
Guards was given to a general who promised not to act, for this body was
devoted to the Assembly. M. Maupas, another conspirator, of great
administrative ability, was made prefect of police.

Thus in September, 1851, everything was arranged; but Saint-Arnaud
persuaded the President to defer the _coup d'état_ until winter, when
all the deputies would be in Paris, and therefore could be easily
seized. If scattered over France, they might rally and create a civil
war; for, as we have already said, the Assembly contained the leading
men of the country,--statesmen, generals, editors, and great lawyers,
all hostile to the ruler of the Republic.

So the President waited patiently till winter. Suddenly, without
warning, in the night of the 2d of December, all the most distinguished
members of the Assembly were arrested by the police controlled by
Maupas, and sent to the various prisons,--including Changarnier,
Cavaignac, Thiers, Bedeau, Lamoricière, Barrot, Berryer, De Tocqueville,
De Broglie, and Saint-Hilaire. On the following morning strong bodies of
the military were posted at the Palais Bourbon (where the Assembly held
its sessions), around all the printing-presses, around the public
buildings, and in the principal streets. In the meantime, Morny was made
minister of the interior. Manifestoes were issued which announced the
dissolution of the Assembly and the Council of State, the restoration of
universal suffrage, and a convocation of the electoral college to elect
the Executive. A proclamation was also made to the army, containing
those high-sounding watchwords which no one was more capable of using
than the literary President,--eloquent, since they appealed to
everything dear to the soldiers' hearts, and therefore effective. Louis
Napoleon's short speeches convinced those for whom they were intended.
He was not so fortunate with his books.

The military and the police had now the supreme control of Paris, while
the minister of the interior controlled the municipalities of the
various departments. All resistance was absurd; and yet so tremendous an
outrage on the liberties of the nation provoked an indignation,
especially among the Republicans, which it was hard to suppress. The
people rallied and erected barricades, which of course were swept away
by the cannon of General Magnan, accompanied by needless cruelties and
waste of blood, probably with the view to inspire fear and show that
resistance was hopeless.

Paris and its vicinity were now in the hands of the usurper, supported
by the army and police, and his enemies were in prison. The Assembly was
closed, as well as the higher Courts of Justice, and the Press was
muzzled. Constitutional liberty was at an end; a despot reigned
unopposed. Yet Louis Napoleon did not feel entirely at his ease. Would
the nation at the elections sustain the usurpation? It was necessary to
control the elections; and it is maintained by some historians that
every effort to that end was made through the officials and the police.
Whether the elections were free or not, one thing astonished the
civilized world,--seven millions of votes were cast in favor of Louis
Napoleon; and the cunning and patient usurper took possession of the
Tuileries, re-elected President to serve for ten years. Before the year
closed, in December, 1852, he was proclaimed Emperor of the French by
the vote and the will of the people. The silent, dull, and heavy man had
outwitted everybody; and he showed that he understood the French people
better than all the collected statesmen and generals who had served
under Louis Philippe with so much ability and distinction.

What shall we say of a nation that so ignominiously surrendered its
liberties? All we can say in extenuation is that it was powerless. Such
men as Guizot, Thiers, Cousin, Changarnier, Cavaignac, Molé, Broglie,
Hugo, Villemain, Lamartine, Montalembert, would have prevented the fall
of constitutional government if their hands had not been tied. They were
in prison or exiled. Some twenty-five thousand people had been killed or
transported within a few weeks after the _coup d'état_, and fear seized
the minds of those who were active in opposition, or suspected even of
being hostile to the new government. France, surprised, perplexed,
affrighted, must needs carry on a war of despair, or succumb to the
usurpation. The army and the people alike were governed by terror.

But although France had lost her freedom, it was only for a time; and
although Louis Napoleon ruled as an absolute monarch, his despotism,
sadly humiliating to people of intelligence and patriotism, was not like
that of Russia, or even like that of Prussia and Austria. The great men
of all parties were too numerous and powerful to be degraded or exiled.
They did not resist his government, and they held their tongues in the
cafés and other assemblies where they were watched by spies; but they
talked freely with one another in their homes, and simply kept aloof
from him, refusing to hold office under him or to attend his court,
waiting for their time. They knew that his government was not permanent,
and that the principles of the Revolution had not been disseminated and
planted in vain, but would burst out in some place or other like a
volcano, and blaze to heaven. Men pass away, but principles are

Louis Napoleon was too thoughtful and observant a man not to know all
this. His residence in England and intercourse with so many
distinguished politicians and philosophers had taught him something. He
feared that with all his successes his throne would be overturned
unless he could amuse the people and find work for turbulent spirits.
Consequently he concluded on the one hand to make a change in the
foreign policy of France, and on the other to embellish his capital and
undertake great public works, at any expense, both to find work for
artisans and to develop the resources of the country.

When Louis Napoleon made his first attack on the strong government of
Louis Philippe, at Strasburg, he was regarded as a madman; when he
escaped from Ham, after his failure at Boulogne, he was looked upon by
all Europe as a mere adventurer; and when he finally left England, which
had sheltered him, to claim his seat in the National Assembly of
republican France, and even when made President of the republic by the
suffrages of the nation, he was regarded as an enigma. Some thought him
dull though bold, and others looked upon him as astute and long-headed.
His heavy look, his leaden eye, his reserved and taciturn ways, with no
marked power but that of silence and secrecy, disarmed fear. Neither
from his conversations nor his writings had anybody drawn the inference
that he was anything remarkable in genius or character. His executive
abilities were entirely unknown. He was generally regarded as simply
fortunate from the name he bore and the power he usurped, but with no
striking intellectual gifts,--nothing that would warrant his supreme
audacity. He had never distinguished himself in anything; but was
admitted to be a thoughtful man, who had written treatises of
respectable literary merit. His social position as the heir and nephew
of the great Napoleon of course secured him many friends and followers,
who were attracted to him by the prestige of his name, and who saw in
him the means of making their own fortune; but he was always, except in
a select and chosen circle, silent, non-committal, heavy, reserved, and

But the President--the Emperor--had been a profound student of the
history of the first Napoleon and his government. He understood the
French people, too, and had learned to make short speeches with great
effect, in which adroitness in selecting watchwords--especially such as
captivated the common people--was quite remarkable. He professed liberal
sentiments, sympathy with the people in their privations and labors, and
affected beyond everything a love of peace. In his manifestoes of a
policy of universal peace, few saw that love of war by which he intended
to rivet the chains of despotism. He was courteous and urbane in his
manners, probably kind in disposition, not bloodthirsty nor cruel,
supremely politic and conciliating in his intercourse with statesmen and
diplomatists, and generally simple and unstilted in his manners. He was
also capable of friendship, and never forgot those who had rendered him
services or kindness in his wanderings. Nor was he greedy of money like
Louis Philippe, but freely lavished it on his generals. Like his uncle,
he had an antipathy to literary men when they would not condescend to
flatter him, which was repaid by uncompromising hostility on their part.
How savage and unrelenting was the hatred of Victor Hugo! How unsparing
his ridicule and abuse! He called the usurper "Napoleon the Little,"
notwithstanding he had outwitted the leading men of the nation and
succeeded in establishing himself on an absolute throne. A small man
could not have shown so much patience, wisdom, and prudence as Louis
Napoleon showed when President, or fought so successfully the
legislative body when it was arrayed against him. If the poet had called
him "Napoleon the Wicked" it would have been more to the point, for only
a supremely unscrupulous and dishonest man could have meditated and
executed the _coup d'état_. His usurpation and treachery were gigantic
crimes, accompanied with violence and murder. Even his crimes, however,
were condoned in view of the good government which he enforced and the
services he rendered; showing that, if he was dishonest and treacherous,
he was also able and enlightened.

But it is not his usurpation of supreme power for which Louis Napoleon
will be most severely judged by his country and by posterity. Cromwell
was a usurper, and yet he is regarded as a great benefactor. It was the
policy which Napoleon III. pursued as a supreme ruler for which he will
be condemned, and which was totally unlike that of Cromwell or Augustus.
It was his policy to embroil nations in war and play the _rôle_ of a
conqueror. The policy of the restored Bourbons and of Louis Philippe was
undeniably that of peace with other nations, and the relinquishment
of that aggrandizement which is gained by successful war. It
was this policy,--upheld by such great statesmen as Guizot and
Thiers,--conflicting with the warlike instincts of the French people,
which made those monarchs unpopular more than their attempts to suppress
the liberty of the Press and the license of popular leaders; and it was
the appeal to the military vanity of the people which made Napoleon III.
popular, and secured his political ascendency.

The quarrel which was then going on between the Greek and Latin monks
for the possession of the sacred shrines at Jerusalem furnished both the
occasion and the pretence for interrupting the peace of Europe, as has
been already stated in the Lecture on the Crimean war. The French
usurper determined to take the side of the Latin monks, which would
necessarily embroil him with the great protector of the Greek faith,
even the Emperor Nicholas, who was a bigot in all matters pertaining to
his religion. He would rally the French nation in a crusade, not merely
to get possession of a sacred key and a silver star, but to come to the
assistance of a power no longer dangerous,--the "sick man," whom
Nicholas had resolved to crush. Louis Napoleon cared but little for
Turkey; but he did not want Constantinople to fall into the hands of the
Russians, and thus make them the masters of the Black Sea. France, it is
true, had but little to gain whoever possessed Constantinople; she had
no possessions or colonies in the East to protect. But in the eye of her
emperor it was necessary to amuse her by a war; and what war would be
more popular than this,--to head off Russia and avenge the march
to Moscow?

Russia, moreover, was the one power which all western Europe had cause
to dread. Ever since the Empress Catherine II., the encroachments and
territorial aggrandizement of this great military empire had been going
on. The Emperor Nicholas was the most powerful sovereign of the world,
having a million of men under arms, ready to obey his nod, with no check
whatever on his imperial will. He had many fine qualities, which
commanded esteem; but he was fitful, uncertain, ambitious, and warlike.
If an aggressive war to secure the "balance of power" could ever be
justified, it would seem to have been necessary in this case. It was an
aggressive war on the part of France, since the four great
Powers--Austria, Prussia, France, and England--were already united to
keep the Czar in check, and demanded his evacuation of the Danubian
provinces which he had invaded. Nicholas, seeing this powerful
combination against him, was ready to yield, and peace might have been
easily secured, and thus the Crimean war been avoided; but Louis
Napoleon did not want peace, and intrigued against it.

Resolved then on war, the real disturber of the peace of Europe, and
goaded on by his councillors,--the conspirators of the 2d of December,
Morny, Fleury, Maupas, etc.,--Louis Napoleon turned around to seek an
ally; for France alone was not strong enough to cope with Russia.
Austria having so much to lose, did not want war, and was afraid of
Nicholas. So was Prussia. It was the policy of both these Powers to keep
on good terms with Nicholas. It always will be the policy of Germany to
avoid a war with Russia, unless supported by England and France. The
great military organization which Bismarck and Moltke effected, the
immense standing army which Germany groans under, arises not from
anticipated dangers on the part of France so much as from fear of
Russia, although it is not the policy of German statesmen to confess it
openly. If France should unite with Russia in a relentless war, Germany
would probably be crushed, unless England came to the rescue. Germany,
placed between two powerful military monarchies, is obliged to keep up
its immense standing army, against its will, as a dire necessity. It is
Russia she is most anxious to conciliate. All the speeches of Bismarck
show this.

In view of this policy, Louis Napoleon turned his eyes to England as his
ally in the meditated war with Russia, notwithstanding the secret
hostilities and jealousies between these nations for five hundred years.
Moreover, the countries were entirely dissimilar: England was governed
by Parliament, based on free institutions; France was a military
despotism, and all who sought to establish parliamentary liberties and
government were banished when their efforts became dangerous or
revolutionary. Louis Napoleon showed great ability for intrigue in
forcing the English cabinet to adopt his warlike policy, when its own
policy was pacific. It was a great triumph to the usurper to see England
drifting into war against the combined influence of the premier, of
Gladstone, of the Quakers, and of the whole Manchester school of
political economists; and, as stated in the Lecture on the Crimean war,
it was an astounding surprise to Nicholas.

But this misfortune would not have happened had it not been for the
genius and intrigues of a statesman who exercised a commanding influence
over English politics; and this was Lord Palmerston, who had spent his
life in the foreign office, although at that time home secretary. But he
was the ruling spirit of the cabinet,--a man versatile, practical,
amiable, witty, and intensely English in all his prejudices. Whatever
office he held, he was always in harmony with public opinion. He was not
a man of great ideas or original genius, but was a ready debater,
understood the temper of the English people, and led them by adopting
their cause, whatever it was. Hence he was the most popular statesman of
the day, but according to Cobden the worst prime minister that England
ever had, since he was always keeping England in hot water and stirring
up strife on the Continent. His supreme policy, with an eye to English
interests on the Mediterranean and in Asia, was to cripple Russia.

Such a man, warlike, restless, and interfering in his foreign policy,
having in view the military aggrandizement of his country, eagerly
adopted the schemes of the French emperor; and little by little these
two men brought the English cabinet into a warlike attitude with Russia,
in spite of all that Lord Aberdeen could do. Slight concessions would
have led to peace; but neither Louis Napoleon nor Palmerston would allow
concessions, since both were resolved on war. Never was a war more
popular in England than that which Louis Napoleon and Palmerston
resolved to have. This explains the leniency of public opinion in
England toward a man who had stolen a sceptre. He was united with Great
Britain in a popular war.

The French emperor, however, had other reasons for seeking the alliance
of England in his war with Russia. It would give him a social prestige;
he would enter more easily into the family of European sovereigns; he
would be called _mon frère_ by the Queen of England, which royal name
Nicholas in his disdain refused to give him. If the Queen of England was
his friend and ally, all other sovereigns must welcome him into their
royal fraternity in spite of his political crimes, which were
universally detested. It is singular that England, after exhausting her
resources by a war of twenty years to dethrone Napoleon I., should
become the firmest ally and friend of Napoleon III., who trampled on all
constitutional liberty. But mutual interests brought them together; for
when has England turned her back on her interests, or what she supposed
to be her interests?

So war became inevitable. Napoleon III. triumphed. His co-operation with
England was sincere and hearty. Yea, so gratified and elated was he at
this stroke of good fortune, that he was ready to promise anything to
his ally, even to the taking a subordinate part in the war. He would
follow the dictation of the English ministers and the English generals.

It was the general opinion that the war would be short and glorious. At
first it was contemplated only to fight the Russians in Bulgaria, and
prevent their march across the Balkans, and thence to Constantinople.
The war was undertaken to assist the Turks in the defence of their
capital and territories. For this a large army was not indispensable;
hence the forces which were sent to Bulgaria were comparatively small.

When Nicholas discovered that he could not force his way to
Constantinople over the Balkans, and had withdrawn his forces from the
Danubian principalities, peace then might have been honorably declared
by all parties. France perhaps might have withdrawn from the contest,
which had effected the end at first proposed. But England not only had
been entangled in the war by the French alliance, but now was resolved
on taking Sebastopol, to destroy the power of Russia on the Euxine; and
France was compelled to complete what she had undertaken, although she
had nothing to gain beyond what she had already secured. To the credit
of Louis Napoleon, he proved a chivalrous and faithful ally, in
continuing a disastrous and expensive war for the glory of France and
the interests of England alone, although he made a separate peace as
soon as he could do so with honor.

It is not my purpose to repeat what I have already written on the
Crimean war, although the more I read and think about it the stronger is
my disapproval, on both moral and political grounds, of that needless
and unfortunate conflict,--unfortunate alike to all parties concerned.
It is a marvel that it did not in the end weaken the power and prestige
of both Palmerston and Napoleon III. It strengthened the hands of both,
as was foreseen by these astute statesmen. Napoleon III. after the war
was regarded as a far-seeing statesman, as well as an able
administrator. People no longer regarded him as a fool, or even a knave.
Success had shut the mouths of his enemies, except of a few obdurate
ones like Thiers and Victor Hugo,--the latter of whom in his voluntary
exile in Guernsey and Jersey still persisted in calling him "Napoleon
the Little." Thiers generally called him _Celui-ci,_--"That fellow."
This illustrious statesman, in his restless ambition and desire of
power, probably would have taken office under the man whom he both
despised and hated; but he dared not go against his antecedents, and was
unwilling to be a mere clerk, as all Louis Napoleon's ministers were,
whatever their abilities. He was supported by the army and the people,
and therefore was master of the situation. This was a fact which
everybody was compelled to acknowledge. It was easy to call him usurper,
tyrant, and fool,--anything; but he both "reigned and governed."

"When peace was finally restored, the empire presented the aspect of a
stable government, resting solidly upon the approval of a contented and
thriving people." This was the general opinion of those who were well
acquainted with French affairs, and of those who visited Paris, which
was then exceedingly prosperous. The city was filled with travellers,
who came to see the glory of success. Great architectural improvements
were then in progress, which gave employment to a vast number of men
theretofore leading a precarious life. The chief of these were the new
boulevards, constructed with immense expense,--those magnificent but
gloomy streets, which, lined with palaces and hotels, excited universal
admiration,--a wise expenditure on the whole, which promoted both beauty
and convenience, although to construct them a quarter of the city was
demolished. The Grand Opera-House arose over the _débris_ of the
demolished houses,--the most magnificent theatre erected in modern
times. Paris presented a spectacle of perpetual fêtes, reviews of
troops, and illuminations, which both amused and distracted the people.
The Louvre was joined to the Tuileries by a grand gallery devoted
chiefly to works of art. The Champs Elysées and the Bois de Boulogne
were ornamented with new avenues, fountains, gardens, flowers, and
trees, where the people could pursue their pleasure unobstructed. The
number of beautiful equipages was vastly increased, and everything
indicated wealth and prosperity. The military was wisely kept out of
sight, except on great occasions, so that the people should not be
reminded of their loss of liberties; the police were courteous and
obliging, and interfered with no pleasures and no ordinary pursuits; the
shops blazed with every conceivable attraction; the fashionable churches
were crowded with worshippers and strangers to hear music which rivalled
that of the opera; the priests, in their ecclesiastical uniform, were
seen in every street with cheerful and beaming faces, for the government
sought their support and influence; the papers were filled with the
movements of the imperial court at races, in hunting-parties, and visits
to the _châteaux_ of the great. The whole city seemed to be absorbed in
pleasure or gain, and crowds swarmed at all places of amusement with
contented faces: there was no outward sign of despotism or unhappiness,
since everybody found employment. Even the idlers who frequented the
crowded cafés of the boulevards seemed to take unusual pleasure at their
games of dominoes and at their tables of beer and wine. Visitors
wondered at the apparent absence of all restraint from government and at
the personal liberty which everybody seemed practically to enjoy. For
ten years after the _coup d'état_ it was the general impression that the
government of Louis Napoleon was a success. In spite of the predictions
and hostile criticisms of famous statesmen, it was, to all appearance at
least, stable, and the nation was prosperous.

The enemies that the emperor had the most cause to dread were these
famous statesmen themselves. Thiers, Guizot, Broglie, Odillon Barrot,
had all been prime ministers, and most of the rest had won their laurels
under Louis Philippe. They either declined to serve under Napoleon III.
or had been neglected by him; their political power had passed away.
They gave vent, whenever they could with personal safety, to their
spleen, to their disappointment, to their secret hostility; they all
alike prophesied evil; they all professed to believe that the emperor
could not maintain his position two years,--that he would be carried off
by assassination or revolution. And joined with them in bitter hatred
was the whole literary class,--like Victor Hugo, Lamartine, and
Cousin,--who hurled curses and defiance from their retreats, or from the
fashionable _salons_ and clubs which they frequented. The old noblesse
stood aloof. St. Germain was like a foreign city rather than a part of
Paris. All the traders among the Legitimists and Orléanists continued in
a state of secret hostility, and threw all the impediments they could
against the government.

The situation of Louis Napoleon was indeed extremely difficult and
critical. He had to fight against the combined influences of rank,
fashion, and intellect,--against an enlightened public opinion; for it
could not be forgotten that his power was usurped, and sustained by
brute force and the ignorant masses. He would have been nothing without
the army. In some important respects he showed marvellous astuteness and
political sagacity,--such, for instance, as in converting England from
an enemy to a friend. But he won England by playing the card of common
interests against Russia.

The emperor was afraid to banish the most eminent men in his empire; so
he tolerated them and hated them,--suspending over their heads the sword
of Damocles. This they understood, and kept quiet except among
themselves. But France was a hotbed of sedition and discontent during
the whole reign of Louis Napoleon, at least among the old government
leaders,--Orléanists, Legitimists, and Republicans alike.

Considering the difficulties and hatreds with which Napoleon III. had to
contend, I am surprised that his reign lasted as long as it did,--longer
than those of Louis XVIII. and Charles X. combined; longer than that of
Louis Philippe, with the aid of the middle classes and the ablest
statesmen of France,--an impressive fact, which indicates great ability
of some kind on the part of the despot. But he paid dearly for his
passion for power in the enormous debts entailed by his first war of
prestige, and in the death of more than a hundred thousand men in the
camps, on the field of battle, and in the hospitals. If he had had any
conscience he would have been appalled; but he had no conscience, any
more than his uncle, when anything stood in his way. The gratification
of his selfish ambition overmastered patriotism and real fame, and
prepared the way for his fall and the ignominy which accompanied it.

Had either of the monarchs who ruled France since the Revolution of 1791
been animated with a sincere desire for the public good, and been
contented to rule as a constitutional sovereign, as they all alike swore
to rule, I do not see why they might not have transmitted their thrones
to their heirs. Napoleon I. certainly could have perpetuated his empire
in his family had he not made such awful blunders as the invasion of
Spain and Russia, which made him unable to contend with external
enemies. Charles X. might have continued to reign had he not destroyed
all constitutional liberty. Louis Philippe might have transmitted his
power to the House of Orléans had he not sacrificed public interests to
his greediness for money and to his dynastic ambition. And Napoleon III.
might have reigned until he died had he fulfilled his promises to the
parties who elevated him; but he could have continued to reign in the
violation of his oaths only so long as his army was faithful and
successful. When at last hopelessly defeated and captured, his throne
instantly crumbled away; he utterly collapsed, and was nothing but a
fugitive. What a lesson this is to all ambitious monarchs who sacrifice
the interest of their country to personal aggrandizement! So long as a
nation sees the monarch laboring for the aggrandizement and welfare of
the country rather than of himself, it will rally around him and
venerate him, even if he leads his subjects to war and enrolls them in
his gigantic armies,--as in the case of the monarchs of Prussia since
Frederic II., and even those of Austria.

Napoleon III. was unlike all these, for with transcendent cunning and
duplicity he stole his throne, and then sacrificed the interests of
France to support his usurpation. That he was an adventurer--as his
enemies called him--is scarcely true; for he was born in the Tuileries,
was the son of a king, and nephew of the greatest sovereign of modern
times. So far as his usurpation can be palliated,--for it never can be
excused,--it must be by his deep-seated conviction that he was the heir
of his uncle, that the government of the empire belonged to him as a
right, and that he would ultimately acquire it by the will of the
people. Had Thiers or Guizot or Changarnier seized the reins, they would
have been adventurers. All men are apt to be called adventurers by their
detractors when they reach a transcendent position. Even such men as
Napoleon I., Cromwell, and Canning were stigmatized as adventurers by
their enemies. A poor artist who succeeds in winning a rich heiress is
often regarded as an adventurer, even though his ancestors have been
respectable and influential for four generations. Most successful men
owe their elevation to genius or patience or persistent industry rather
than to accidents or tricks. Louis Napoleon plodded and studied and
wrote for years with the ultimate aim of ruling France, even though he
"waded through slaughter to a throne;" and he would have deserved his
throne had he continued true to the principles he professed. What a name
he might have left had he been contented only to be President of a great
republic; for his elevation to the Presidency was legitimate, and even
after he became a despot he continued to be a high-bred gentleman in the
English sense, which is more than can be said of his uncle. No one has
ever denied that from first to last Louis Napoleon was courteous,
affable, gentle, patient, and kind, with a control over his feelings and
thoughts absolutely marvellous and unprecedented in a public man,--if we
except Disraeli. Nothing disturbed his serenity; very rarely was he seen
in a rage; he stooped and coaxed and flattered, even when he sent his
enemies to Cayenne.

The share taken by Napoleon III. in the affairs of Italy has already
been treated of, yet a look from that point of view may find place here.
The interference of Austria with the Italian States--not only her own
subjects there, but the independent States as well--has been called "a
standing menace to Europe." It was finally brought to a crisis of
conflict by the King of Sardinia, who had already provided himself with
a friend and ally in the French emperor; and when, on the 29th of April,
1859, Austria crossed the river Ticino in hostile array, the combined
French and Sardinian troops were ready to do battle. The campaign was
short, and everywhere disastrous to the Austrians; so that on July 6 an
armistice was concluded, and on July 12 the peace of Villa Franca ended
the war, with Lombardy ceded to Sardinia, while Nice and Savoy were the
reward of the French,--justifying by this addition to the territory and
glory of France the emperor's second war of prestige.

Louis Napoleon reached the culmination of his fame and of real or
supposed greatness--I mean his external power and grandeur, for I see no
evidence of real greatness except such as may be won by astuteness,
tact, cunning, and dissimulation--when he returned to Paris as the
conqueror of the Austrian armies. He was then generally supposed to be
great both as a general and as an administrator, when he was neither a
general nor an administrator, as subsequent events proved. But his court
was splendid; distinguished foreigners came to do him homage; even
monarchs sought his friendship, and a nod of his head was ominous. He
had delivered Italy as he had humiliated Russia; he had made France a
great political power; he had made Paris the most magnificent city of
the world (though at boundless expense), and everybody extolled the
genius of Hausmann, his engineer, who had created such material glories;
his fêtes were beyond all precedent; his wife gave the law to fashions
and dresses, and was universally extolled for her beauty and graces; the
great industrial exhibition in 1855, which surpassed in attractiveness
that of London in 1851, drew strangers to his capital, and gave a
stimulus to art and industry. Certainly he seemed to be a most fortunate
man,--for the murmurs and intrigues of that constellation of statesmen
which grew up with the restoration of the Bourbons, and the antipathies
of editors and literary men, were not generally known. The army
especially gloried in the deeds of a man whose successes reminded them
of his immortal uncle; while the lavish expenditures of government in
every direction concealed from the eyes of the people the boundless
corruption by which the services of his officials were secured.

But this splendid exterior was deceptive, and a turn came to the
fortunes of Napoleon III.,--long predicted, yet unexpected. Constantly
on the watch for opportunities to aggrandize his name and influence, the
emperor allowed the disorders of civil war in Mexico--resulting in many
acts of injustice to foreigners there--to lead him into a combination
with England and Spain to interfere. This was in 1861, when the United
States were entering upon the terrific struggles of their own civil war,
and were not able to prevent this European interference, although
regarding it as most unfriendly to republican institutions. Within a
year England and Spain withdrew. France remained; sent more troops;
declared war on the government of President Juarez; fought some battles;
entered the City of Mexico; convened the "Assembly of Notables;" and, on
their declaring for a limited hereditary monarchy, the French emperor
proposed for their monarch the Archduke Maximilian,--younger brother of
Francis Joseph the Austrian emperor. Maximilian accepted, and in June,
1864, arrived,--upheld, however, most feebly by the "Notables," and
relying chiefly on French bayonets, which had driven Juarez to the
northern part of the country.

But against the expectation of Napoleon III, the great rebellion in the
United States collapsed, and this country became a military power which
Europe was compelled to respect: a nation that could keep in the field
over a million of soldiers was not to be despised. While the civil war
was in progress the United States government was compelled to ignore the
attempt to establish a French monarchy on its southern borders; but no
sooner was the war ended than it refused to acknowledge any government
in Mexico except that of President Juarez, which Louis Napoleon had
overthrown; so that although the French emperor had bound himself with
solemn treaties to maintain twenty-five thousand French troops in
Mexico, he was compelled to withdraw these forces and leave Maximilian
to his fate. He advised the young Austrian to save himself by
abdication, and to leave Mexico with the troops; but Maximilian felt
constrained by his sense of honor to remain, and refused. In March,
1867, this unfortunate prince was made prisoner by the republicans, and
was unscrupulously shot. His calamities and death excited the compassion
of Europe; and with it was added a profound indignation for the man who
had unwittingly lured him on to his ruin. Louis Napoleon's military
prestige received a serious blow, and his reputation as a statesman
likewise; and although the splendor of his government and throne was as
great as ever, his fall, in the eyes of the discerning, was near
at hand.

By this time Louis Napoleon had become prematurely old; he suffered
from acute diseases; his constitution was undermined; he was no longer
capable of carrying the burdens he had assumed; his spirits began to
fail; he lost interest in the pleasures which had at first amused him;
he found delight in nothing, not even in his reviews and fêtes; he was
completely ennuied; his failing health seemed to affect his mind; he
became vacillating and irresolute; he lost his former energies. He saw
the gulf opening which was to swallow him up; he knew that his situation
was desperate, and that something must be done to retrieve his fortunes.
His temporary popularity with his own people was breaking, too;--the
Mexican _fiasco_ humiliated them. The internal affairs of the empire
were more and more interfered with and controlled by the Catholic
Church, through the intrigues and influence of the empress, a bigoted
Spanish Catholic,--and this was another source of unpopularity, for
France was not a priest-ridden country, and the emperor was blamed for
the growing ecclesiastical power in civil affairs. He had invoked war to
interest the people, and war had saved him for a time; but the
consequences of war pursued him. As he was still an overrated man, and
known to be restless and unscrupulous, Germany feared him, and quietly
armed, making preparations for an attack which seemed only too probable.
His negotiation with the King of Holland for the cession of the Duchy of
Luxemburg, by which acquisition he hoped to offset the disgrace which
his Mexican enterprise had caused, excited the jealousy of Prussia; for
by the treaties of 1815 Prussia obtained the right to garrison the
fortress,--the strongest in Europe next to Gibraltar,--and had no idea
of permitting it to fall into the hands of France.

The irresistible current which was then setting in for the union of the
German States under the rule of Prussia, and for which Bismarck had long
been laboring, as had Cavour for the unity of Italy, caused a great
outcry among the noisy but shallow politicians of Paris, who deluded
themselves with the idea that France was again invincible; and not only
they, but the French people generally, fancied that France was strong
enough to conquer half of Europe, The politicians saw in a war with
Prussia the aggrandizement of French interests, and did all they could
to hasten it on. It was popular with the nation at large, who saw only
one side; and especially so with the generals of the army, who aspired
to new laurels. Napoleon III. blustered and bullied and threatened,
which pleased his people; but in his heart he had his doubts, and had no
desire to attack Prussia so long as the independence of the southern
States of Germany was maintained. But when the designs of Bismarck
became more and more apparent to cement a united Germany, and thus to
raise up a most formidable military power, Louis Napoleon sought
alliances in anticipation of a conflict which could not be much
longer delayed.

First, the French emperor turned to Austria, whom he had humiliated at
Solferino and incensed by the aid which he had given to Victor Emmanuel
to break the Austrian domination in Italy, as well as outraged its
sympathies by his desertion of Maximilian in Mexico. No cordial alliance
could be expected from this Power, unless he calculated on its hostility
to Prussia for the victories she had lately won. Count Beust, the
Austrian chancellor, was a bitter enemy to Prussia, and hoped to regain
the ascendency which Austria had once enjoyed under Metternich. So
promises were made to the French emperor; but they were never kept, and
Austria really remained neutral in the approaching contest, to the great
disappointment of Napoleon III. He also sought the aid of Italy, which
he had reason to expect from the service he had rendered to Piedmont;
but the Garibaldians had embroiled France with the Italian people in
their attempt to overthrow the Papal government, which was protected by
French troops; and Louis Napoleon by the reoccupation of Rome seemed to
bar the union of the Italian people, passionately striving for national
unity. Thus the Italians also stood aloof from France, although Victor
Emmanuel personally was disposed to aid her.

In 1870 France found herself isolated, and compelled, in case of war
with Prussia, to fight single-handed. If Napoleon III. had exercised the
abilities he had shown at the beginning of his career, he would have
found means to delay a conflict for which he was not prepared, or avoid
it altogether; but in 1870 his intellect was shattered, and he felt
himself powerless to resist the current which was bearing him away to
his destruction. He showed the most singular incapacity as an
administrator. He did not really know the condition of his army; he
supposed he had four hundred and fifty thousand effective troops, but
really possessed a little over three hundred thousand, while Prussia had
over one-third more than this, completely equipped and disciplined, and
with improved weapons. He was deceived by the reports of his own
generals, to whom he had delegated everything, instead of looking into
the actual state of affairs himself, as his uncle would have done, and
as Thiers did under Louis Philippe. More than a third of his regiments
were on paper alone, or dwindled in size; the monstrous corruptions of
his reign had permeated every part of the country; the necessary arms,
ammunition, and material of war in general were deplorably deficient; no
official reports could be relied upon, and few of his generals could be
implicitly trusted. If ever infatuation blinded a nation to its fate, it
most signally marked France in 1870.

Nothing was now wanting but the spark to kindle the conflagration; and
this was supplied by the interference of the French government with the
nomination of a German prince to the vacant throne of Spain. The
Prussian king gave way in the matter of Prince Leopold, but refused
further concessions. Leopold was sufficiently magnanimous to withdraw
his claims, and here French interference should have ended. But France
demanded guarantees that no future candidate should be proposed without
her consent. Of course the Prussian king,--seeing with the keen eyes of
Bismarck, and armed to the teeth under the supervision of Moltke, the
greatest general of the age, who could direct, with the precision of a
steam-engine on a track, the movements of the Prussian army, itself a
mechanism,--treated with disdain this imperious demand from a power
which he knew to be inferior to his own. Count Bismarck craftily lured
on his prey, who was already goaded forward by his home war-party, with
the empress at their head; negotiations ceased, and Napoleon III. made
his fatal declaration of hostilities, to the grief of the few statesmen
who foresaw the end.

Even then the condition of France was not desperate if the government
had shown capacity; but conceit, vanity, and ignorance blinded the
nation. Louis Napoleon should have known, and probably did know, that
the contending forces were uneven; that he had no generals equal to
Moltke; that his enemies could crush him in the open field; that his
only hope was in a well-organized defence. But his generals rushed madly
on to destruction against irresistible forces, incapable of forming a
combination, while the armies they led were smaller than anybody
supposed. Napoleon III. hoped that by rapidity of movement he could
enter southern Germany before the Prussian armies could be massed
against him; but here he dreamed, for his forces were not ready at the
time appointed, and the Prussians crossed the Rhine without obstruction.
Then followed the battle of Worth, on the 6th of August, when Marshal
McMahon, with only forty-five thousand men, ventured to resist the
Prussian crown-prince with a hundred thousand, and lost consequently a
large part of his army, and opened a passage through the northern Vosges
to the German troops. On the same day Frossard's corps was defeated by
Prince Frederic Charles near Saarbrücken, while the French emperor
remained at Metz irresolute, infatuated, and helpless. On the 12th of
August he threw up the direction of his armies altogether, and appointed
Marshal Bazaine commander-in-chief,--thus proclaiming his own incapacity
as a general. Bazaine still had more than two hundred thousand men under
his command, and might have taken up a strong position on the Moselle,
or retreated in safety to Chalons; but he fell back on Gravelotte, when,
being defeated on the 18th, he withdrew within the defences of Metz. He
was now surrounded by two hundred and fifty thousand men, and he made no
effort to escape. McMahon attempted to relieve him, but was ordered by
the government at Paris to march to the defence of that city. On this
line, however, he got no farther than Sedan, where all was lost on
September 1,--the entire army and the emperor himself surrendering as
prisoners of war. The French had fought gallantly, but were outnumbered
at every point.

Nothing now remained to the conquerors but to advance to the siege of
Paris. The throne of Napoleon III. was overturned, and few felt sympathy
for his misfortunes, since he was responsible for the overwhelming
calamities which overtook his country, and which his country never
forgave. In less than a month he fell from what seemed to be the
proudest position in Europe, and stood out to the eye of the world in
all the hateful deformity of a defeated despot who deserved to fall. The
suddenness and completeness of his destruction has been paralleled only
by the defeat of the armies of Darius by Alexander the Great. All
delusions as to Louis Napoleon's abilities vanished forever. All his
former grandeur, even his services, were at once forgotten. He paid even
a sadder penalty than his uncle, who never lost the affections of his
subjects, while the nephew destroyed all rational hopes of the future
restoration of his family, and became accursed.

It is possible that the popular verdict in reference to Louis Napoleon,
on his fall, may be too severe. This world sees only success or failure
as the test of greatness. With the support of the army and the
police--the heads of which were simply his creatures, whom he had
bought, or who from selfish purposes had pushed him on in his hours of
irresolution and guided him--the _coup d'état_ was not a difficult
thing, any more than any bold robbery; and with the control of the vast
machinery of government,--that machinery which is one of the triumphs of
civilization,--an irresistible power, it is not marvellous that he
retained his position in spite of the sneers or hostilities of statesmen
out of place, or of editors whose journals were muzzled or suppressed;
especially when the people saw great public improvements going on, had
both bread and occupation, read false accounts of military successes,
and were bewildered by fêtes and outward grandeur. But when the army was
a sham, and corruption had pervaded every office under government; when
the expenses of living had nearly doubled from taxation, extravagance,
bad example, and wrong ideas of life; when trusted servants were turned
into secret enemies, incapable and false; when such absurd mistakes were
made as the expedition to Mexico, and the crowning folly of the war
with Prussia, proving the incapacity and folly of the master-hand,--the
machinery which directed the armies and the bureaus and all affairs of
State itself, broke down, and the catastrophe was inevitable.

Louis Napoleon certainly was not the same man in 1870 that he was in
1850. His burdens had proved too great for his intellect. He fell, and
disappeared from history in a storm of wrath and shame, which also hid
from the eyes of the people the undoubted services he had rendered to
the cause of order and law, and to that of a material prosperity which
was at one time the pride of his country and the admiration of the
whole world.

But a nation is greater than any individual, even if he be a miracle of
genius. When the imperial cause was lost, and the armies of France were
dispersed or shut up in citadels, and the hosts of Germany were
converging upon the capital, Paris resolved on sustaining a
siege--apparently hopeless--rather than yield to a conqueror before the
last necessity should open its gates. The self-sacrifices which its
whole population, supposed to be frivolous and enervated, made to
preserve their homes and their works of art; their unparalleled
sufferings; their patience and self-reliance under the most humiliating
circumstances; their fertility of resources; their cheerfulness under
hunger and privation; and, above everything else, their submission to
law with every temptation to break it,--proved that the spirit of the
nation was unbroken; that their passive virtues rivalled their most
glorious deeds of heroism; that, if light-headed in prosperity, they
knew how to meet adversity; and that they had not lost faith in the
greatness of their future.

Perhaps they would not have made so stubborn a resistance to destiny if
they had realized their true situation, but would have opened their
gates at once to overwhelming foes, as they did on the fall of the first
Napoleon. They probably calculated that Bazaine would make his escape
from Metz with his two hundred thousand men, find his way to the banks
of the Loire, rally all the military forces of the south of France, and
then march with his additional soldiers to relieve Paris, and drive back
the Germans to the Rhine.

But this was not to be, and it is idle to speculate on what might have
been done either to raise the siege of Paris--one of the most memorable
in the whole history of the world--or to prevent the advance of the
Germans upon the capital itself. It is remarkable that the Parisians
were able to hold out so long,--thanks to the genius and precaution of
Thiers, who had erected the formidable forts outside the walls of Paris
in the reign of Louis Philippe; and still more remarkable was the rapid
recovery of the French nation after such immense losses of men and
treasure, after one of the most signal and humiliating overthrows which
history records. Probably France was never stronger than she is to-day
in her national resources, in her readiness for war, and in the apparent
stability of her republican government,--which ensued after the collapse
of the Second Empire. She has been steady, persevering, and even patient
for a hundred years in her struggles for political freedom, whatever
mistakes she has made and crimes she has committed to secure this
highest boon which modern civilization confers. A great hero may fall, a
great nation may be enslaved; but the cause of human freedom will in
time triumph over all despots, over all national inertness, and all
national mistakes.


Abbott, M. Baxter, S.P. Day, Victor Hugo, Macrae, S.M. Smucker, F.M.
Whitehurst, have written more or less on Louis Napoleon. See Justin
McCarthy's Modern Leaders; Kinglake's Crimean War; History of the
Franco-German War; Lives of Bismarck, Moltke, Cavour; Life of Lord
Palmerston; Life of Nicholas; Life of Thiers; Harriet Martineau's
Biographical Sketches; W.R. Greg's Life of Todleben.




Before presenting Bismarck, it will be necessary to glance at the work
of those great men who prepared the way not only for him, but also for
the soldier Moltke,--men who raised Prussia from the humiliation
resulting from her conquest by Napoleon.

That humiliation was as complete as it was unexpected. It was even
greater than that of France after the later Franco-Prussian war. Prussia
was dismembered; its provinces were seized by the conqueror; its
population was reduced to less than four millions; its territory was
occupied by one hundred and fifty thousand French soldiers; the king
himself was an exile and a fugitive from his own capital; every sort of
indignity was heaped on his prostrate subjects, who were compelled to
pay a war indemnity beyond their power; trade and commerce were cut off
by Napoleon's Continental system; and universal poverty overspread the
country, always poor, and now poorer than ever. Prussia had no allies
to rally to her sinking fortunes; she was completely isolated. Most of
her fortresses were in the hands of her enemies, and the magnificent
army of which she had been so proud since the days of Frederic the Great
was dispersed. At the peace of Tilsit, in 1807, it looked as if the
whole kingdom was about to be absorbed in the empire of Napoleon, like
Bavaria and the Rhine provinces, and wiped out of the map of Europe like
unfortunate Poland.

But even this did not complete the humiliation. Napoleon compelled the
King of Prussia--Frederic William III.--to furnish him soldiers to fight
against Russia, as if Prussia were already incorporated with his own
empire and had lost her nationality. At that time France and Russia were
in alliance, and Prussia had no course to adopt but submission or
complete destruction; and yet Prussia refused in these evil days to join
the Confederation of the Rhine, which embraced all the German States at
the south and west of Austria and Prussia. Napoleon, however, was too
much engrossed in his scheme of conquering Spain, to swallow up Prussia
entirely, as he intended, after he should have subdued Spain. So, after
all, Prussia had before her only the fortune of Ulysses in the cave of
Polyphemus,--to be devoured the last.

The escape of Prussia was owing, on the one hand, to the necessity for
Napoleon to withdraw his main army from Prussia in order to fight in
Spain; and secondly, to the transcendent talents of a few patriots to
whom the king in his distress was forced to listen. The chief of these
were Stein, Hardenberg, and Scharnhorst. It was the work of Stein to
reorganize the internal administration of Prussia, including the
financial department; that of Hardenberg to conduct the ministry of
foreign affairs; and that of Scharnhorst to reorganize the military
power. The two former were nobles; the latter sprung from the people,--a
peasant's son; but they worked together in tolerable harmony,
considering the rival jealousies that at one time existed among all the
high officials, with their innumerable prejudices.

Baron von Stein, born in 1757, of an old imperial knightly family from
the country near Nassau, was as a youth well-educated, and at the age of
twenty-three entered the Prussian service under Frederic the Great, in
the mining department, where he gained rapid promotion. In 1786 he
visited England and made a careful study of her institutions, which he
profoundly admired. In 1787 he became a sort of provincial governor,
being director of the war and Domaine Chambers at Cleves and Hamm.

In 1804 Stein became Minister of Trade, having charge of excise,
customs, manufactures, and trade. The whole financial administration at
this time under King Frederick William III was in a state of great
confusion, from an unnecessary number of officials who did not work
harmoniously. There was too much "red tape." Stein brought order out of
confusion, simplified the administration, punished corruption, increased
the national credit, then at a very low ebb, and re-established the bank
of Prussia on a basis that enabled it to assist the government.

But a larger field than that of finance was opened to Stein in the war
of 1806. The king intrusted to him the portfolio of foreign
affairs,--not willingly, but because he regarded him as the ablest man
in the kingdom. Stein declined to be foreign minister unless he was
entirely unshackled, and the king was obliged to yield, for the
misfortunes of the country had now culminated in the disastrous defeat
at Friedland. The king, however, soon quarrelled with his minister,
being jealous of his commanding abilities, and unused to dictation from
any source. After a brief exile at Nassau, the peace of Tilsit having
proved the sagacity of his views, Stein returned to power as virtual
dictator of the kingdom, with the approbation of Napoleon; but his
dictatorship lasted only about a year, when he was again discharged.

During that year, 1807, Stein made his mark in Prussian history. Without
dwelling on details, he effected the abolition of serfdom in Prussia,
the trade in land, and municipal reforms, giving citizens
self-government in place of the despotism of military bureaus. He made
it his business to pay off the French war indemnity,--one hundred and
fifty million francs, a great sum for Prussia to raise when dismembered
and trodden in the dust under one hundred and fifty thousand French
soldiers,--and to establish a new and improved administrative system.
But, more than all, he attempted to rouse a moral, religious, and
patriotic spirit in the nation, and to inspire it anew with courage,
self-confidence, and self-sacrifice. In 1808 the ministry became warlike
in spite of its despair, the first glimpse of hope being the popular
rising in Spain. It was during the ministry of Stein, and through his
efforts, that the anti-Napoleonic revolution began.

The intense hostility of Stein to Napoleon, and his commanding
abilities, led Napoleon in 1808 imperatively to demand from the King of
Prussia the dismissal of his minister; and Frederick William dared not
resist. Stein did not retire, however, until after the royal edict had
emancipated the serfs of Prussia, and until that other great reform was
made by which the nobles lost the monopoly of office and exemption from
taxation, while the citizen class gained admission to all posts, trades,
and occupations. These great reforms were chiefly to be traced to Stein,
although Hardenberg and others, like Schön and Niebuhr, had a hand
in them.

Stein also opened the military profession to the citizen class, which
before was closed, only nobles being intrusted with command in the army.
It is true that nobles still continued to form a large majority of
officers, even as peasants formed the bulk of the army. But the removal
of restrictions and the abolition of serfdom tended to create patriotic
sentiments among all classes, on which the strength of armies in no
small degree rests. In the time of Frederic the Great the army was a
mere machine. It was something more when the nation in 1811 rallied to
achieve its independence. Then was born the idea of nationality,--that,
whatever obligations a Prussian owed to the state, Germany was greater
than Prussia itself. This idea was the central principle of Stein's
political system, leading ultimately to the unity of Germany as finally
effected by Bismarck and Moltke. It became almost synonymous with that
patriotism which sustains governments and thrones, the absence of which
was the great defect of the German States before the times of Napoleon,
when both princes and people lost sight of the unity of the nation in
the interests of petty sovereignties.

Stein was a man of prodigious energy, practical good sense, and lofty
character, but irascible, haughty, and contemptuous, and was far from
being a favorite with the king and court. His great idea was the unity
and independence of Germany. He thought more of German nationality than
of Prussian aggrandizement. It was his aim to make his countrymen feel
that they were Germans rather than Prussians, and that it was only by a
union of the various German States that they could hope to shake off the
French yoke, galling and humiliating beyond description.

When Stein was driven into exile at the dictation of Napoleon, with the
loss of his private fortune, he was invited by the Emperor of Russia to
aid him with his counsels,--and it can be scarcely doubted that in the
employ of Russia he rendered immense services to Germany, and had no
little influence in shaping the movements of the allies in effecting the
ruin of the common despot. On this point, however, I cannot dwell.

Count, afterward Prince, Hardenberg, held to substantially the same
views, and was more acceptable to the king as minister than was the
austere and haughty Stein, although his morals were loose, and his
abilities far inferior to those of the former. But his diplomatic
talents were considerable, and his manners were agreeable, like those of
Metternich, while Stein treated kings and princes as ordinary men, and
dictated to them the course which was necessary to pursue. It was the
work of Hardenberg to create the peasant-proprietorship of modern
Prussia; but it was the previous work of Stein to establish free trade
in land,--which means the removal of hindrances to the sale and purchase
of land, which still remains one of the abuses of England,--the ultimate
effect of which was to remove caste in land as well as caste in persons.

The great educational movement, in the deepest depression of Prussian
affairs, was headed by William, Baron von Humboldt. When Prussia lay
disarmed, dismembered, and impoverished, the University of Berlin was
founded, the government contributing one hundred and fifty thousand
thalers a year; and Humboldt--the first minister of public
instruction--succeeded in inducing the most eminent and learned men in
Germany to become professors in this new university. I look upon this
educational movement in the most gloomy period of German history as one
of the noblest achievements which any nation ever made in the cause of
science and literature. It took away the sting of military ascendency,
and raised men of genius to an equality with nobles; and as the
universities were the centres of liberal sentiments and all liberalizing
ideas, they must have exerted no small influence on the war of
liberation itself, as well as on the cause of patriotism, which was the
foundation of the future greatness of Prussia. Students flocked from all
parts of Germany to hear lectures from accomplished and patriotic
professors, who inculcated the love of fatherland. Germany, though
fallen into the hands of a military hero from defects in the
administration of governments and armies, was not disgraced when her
professors in the university were the greatest scholars of the world.
They created a new empire, not of the air, as some one sneeringly
remarked, but of mind, which has gone on from conquering to conquer. For
more than fifty years German universities have been the centre of
European thought and scholastic culture,--pedantic, perhaps, but
original and profound.

Before proceeding to the main subject, I have to speak of one more great
reform, which was the work of Scharnhorst. This was that series of
measures which determined the result of the greatest military struggles
of the nineteenth century, and raised Prussia to the front rank of
military monarchies. It was the _levee en masse_, composed of the youth
of the nation, without distinction of rank, instead of an army made up
of peasants and serfs and commanded by their feudal masters. Scharnhorst
introduced a compulsory system, indeed, but it was not unequal. Every
man was made to feel that he had a personal interest in defending his
country, and there were no exemptions made. True, the old system of
Frederic the Great was that of conscription; but from this conscription
large classes and whole districts were exempted, while the soldiers who
fought in the war of liberation were drawn from all classes alike:
hence, there was no unjust compulsion, which weakens patriotism, and
entails innumerable miseries. It was impossible in the utter exhaustion
of the national finances to raise a sufficient number of volunteers to
meet the emergencies of the times; therefore, if Napoleon was to be
overthrown, it was absolutely necessary to compel everybody to serve in
the army for a limited period, The nation saw the necessity, and made no
resistance. Thus patriotism lent her aid, and became an overwhelming
power. The citizen soldier was no great burden on the government, since
it was bound to his support only for a limited period,--long or short as
the exigency of the country demanded. Hence, large armies were
maintained at comparatively trifling expense.

I need not go into the details of a system which made Prussia a nation
of patriots as well as of soldiers, and which made Scharnhorst a great
national benefactor, sharing with Stein the glory of a great
deliverance. He did not live to see the complete triumph of his system,
matured by genius and patient study; but his work remained to future
generations, and made Prussia invincible except to a coalition of
powerful enemies. All this was done under the eye of Napoleon, and a
dreamy middle class became an effective soldiery. So, too, did the
peasants, no longer subjected to corporal punishment and other
humiliations. What a great thing it was to restore dignity to a whole
nation, and kindle the fires of patriotic ardor among poor and rich
alike! To the credit of the king, he saw the excellence of the new
system, at once adopted it, and generously rewarded its authors.
Scharnhorst, the peasant's son, was made a noble, and was retained in
office until he died. Stein, however, whose overshadowing greatness
created jealousy, remained simply a baron, and spent his last days in
retirement,--though not unhonored, or without influence, even when not
occupying the great offices of state, to which no man ever had a higher
claim. The king did not like him, and the king was still an
absolute monarch.

Frederick William III. was by no means a great man, being jealous,
timid, and vacillating; but it was in his reign that Prussia laid the
foundation of her greatness as a military monarchy. It was not the king
who laid this foundation, but the great men whom Providence raised up in
the darkest hours of Prussia's humiliation. He did one prudent thing,
however, out of timidity, when his ministers waged vigorous and
offensive measures. He refused to arm against Napoleon when Prussia lay
at his mercy. This turned out to be the salvation of Prussia, A weak
man's instincts proved to be wiser than the wisdom of the wise. When
Napoleon's doom was sealed by his disasters in Russia, then, and not
till then, did the Prussian king unite with Russia and Austria to crush
the unscrupulous despot.

The condition of Prussia, then, briefly stated, when Napoleon was sent
to St. Helena to meditate and die, was this: a conquering army, of which
Blücher was one of its greatest generals, had been raised by the _levee
en masse_,--a conscription, indeed, not of peasants alone, obliged to
serve for twenty years, but of the whole nation, for three years of
active service; and a series of administrative reforms had been
introduced and extended to every department of the State, by which
greater economy and a more complete system were inaugurated, favoritism
abolished, and the finances improved so as to support the government and
furnish the sinews of war; while alliances were made with great Powers
who hitherto had been enemies or doubtful friends.

These alliances resulted in what is called the German Confederation, or
Bund,--a strict union of all the various States for defensive purposes,
and also to maintain a general system to suppress revolutionary and
internal dissensions. Most of the German States entered into this
Confederacy, at the head of which was Austria. It was determined in
June, 1815, at Vienna, that the Confederacy should be managed by a
general assembly, called a Diet, the seat of which was located at
Frankfort. In this Diet the various independent States, thirty-nine in
number, had votes in proportion to their population, and were bound to
contribute troops of one soldier to every hundred inhabitants, amounting
to three hundred thousand in all, of which Austria and Prussia and
Bavaria furnished more than half. This arrangement virtually gave to
Austria and Prussia a preponderance in the Diet; and as the States were
impoverished by the late war, and the people generally detested war, a
long peace of forty years (with a short interval of a year) was secured
to Germany, during which prosperity returned and the population nearly
doubled. The Germans turned their swords into pruning-hooks, and all
kinds of industry were developed, especially manufactures. The cities
were adorned with magnificent works of art, and libraries, schools, and
universities covered the land. No nation ever made a more signal
progress in material prosperity than did the German States during this
period of forty years,--especially Prussia, which became in addition
intellectually the most cultivated country in Europe, with twenty-one
thousand primary schools, and one thousand academies, or gymnasia, in
which mathematics and the learned languages were taught by accomplished
scholars; to say nothing of the universities, which drew students from
all Christian and civilized countries in both hemispheres.

The rapid advance in learning, however, especially in the universities
and the gymnasia, led to the discussion of innumerable subjects,
including endless theories of government and the rights of man, by which
discontent was engendered and virtue was not advanced. Strange to say,
even crime increased. The universities became hot-beds of political
excitement, duels, beer-drinking, private quarrels, and infidel
discussion, causing great alarm to conservative governments and to
peaceful citizens generally. At last the Diet began to interfere, for it
claimed the general oversight of all internal affairs in the various
States. An army of three hundred thousand men which obeyed the dictation
of the Diet was not to be resisted; and as this Diet was controlled by
Austria and Prussia, it became every year more despotic and
anti-democratic. In consequence, the Press was gradually fettered, the
universities were closely watched, and all revolutionary movements in
cities were suppressed. Discontent and popular agitations, as usual,
went hand in hand.

As early as 1818 the great reaction against all liberal sentiments in
political matters had fairly set in. The king of Prussia neglected, and
finally refused, to grant the constitutional government which he had
promised in the day of his adversity before the battle of Waterloo;
while Austria, guided by Metternich, stamped her iron heel on everything
which looked like intellectual or national independence.

This memorable reaction against all progress in government, not confined
to the German States but extending to Europe generally, has already been
considered in previous chapters. It was the great political feature in
the history of Europe for ten years after the fall of Napoleon,
particularly in Austria, where hatred of all popular movements raged
with exceeding bitterness, intensified by the revolutions in Spain,
Italy, and Greece. The assassination of Kotzebue, the dramatic author,
by a political fanatic, for his supposed complicity with the despotic
schemes of the Czar, kindled popular excitement into a blazing flame,
but still more fiercely incited the sovereigns of Germany to make every
effort to suppress even liberty of thought.

During the period, then, when ultra-conservative principles animated the
united despots of the various German States, and the Diet controlled by
Metternich repressed all liberal movements, little advance was made in
Prussia in the way of reforms. But a great advance was made in all
questions of political economy and industrial matters. Free-trade was
established in the most unlimited sense between all the states and
provinces of the Confederation. All restraints were removed from the
navigation of rivers; new markets were opened in every direction for the
productions of industry. In 1839 the Zollverein, or Customs-Union, was
established, by which a uniform scale of duties was imposed in Northern
Germany on all imports and exports. But no political reforms which the
king had promised were effected during the life of Frederick William
III. Hardenberg, who with Stein had inaugurated liberal movements, had
lost his influence, although he was retained in power until he died.

For the twenty years succeeding the confederation of the German States
in 1820, constitutional freedom made little or no progress in Germany.
The only advance made in Prussia was in 1823, when the Provincial
Estates, or Diets, were established. These, however, were the mere
shadow of representative government, since the Estates were convoked at
irregular intervals, and had neither the power to initiate laws nor
grant supplies. They could only express their opinions concerning
changes in the laws pertaining to persons and property.

On the 7th of June, 1840, Frederick William III. of Prussia died, and
was succeeded by his son Frederick William IV., a religious and
patriotic king, who was compelled to make promises for some sort of
constitutional liberty, and to grant certain concessions, which although
they did not mean much gave general satisfaction. Among other things the
freedom of the Press was partially guaranteed, with certain
restrictions, and the Zollverein was extended to Brunswick and
Hesse-Homburg. Meantime the government entered with zeal upon the
construction of railways and the completion of the Cathedral of Cologne,
which tended to a more permanent union of the North German States. "We
are not engaged here," said the new monarch, on the inauguration of the
completion of that proudest work of mediaeval art, "with the
construction of an ordinary edifice; it is a work bespeaking the spirit
of union and concord which animates the whole of Germany and all its
persuasions, that we are now constructing." This inauguration, amid
immense popular enthusiasm, was soon followed by the meeting of the
Estates of the whole kingdom at Berlin, which for the first time united
the various Provincial Estates in a general Diet; but its functions were
limited to questions involving a diminution of taxation. No member was
allowed to speak more than once on any question, and the representatives
of the commons were only a third part of the whole assembly. This
naturally did not satisfy the nation, and petitions flowed in for the
abolition of the censorship of the Press and for the publicity of
debate. The king was not prepared to make these concessions in full,
but he abolished the censorship of the Press as to works extending to
above twenty pages, and enjoined the censors of lesser pamphlets and
journals to exercise gentleness and discretion, and not erase anything
which did not strike at the monarchy. At length, in 1847, the desire was
so universal for some form of representative government that a royal
edict convoked a General Assembly of the Estates of Prussia, arranged in
four classes,--the nobles, the equestrian order, the towns, and the
rural districts. The Diet consisted of six hundred and seventy members,
of which only eighty were nobles, and was empowered to discuss all
questions pertaining to legislation; but the initiative of all measures
was reserved to the crown. This National Diet assembled on the 24th of
July, and was opened by the king in person, with a noble speech,
remarkable for its elevation of tone. He convoked the Diet, the king
said, to make himself acquainted with the wishes and wants of his
people, but not to change the constitution, which guaranteed an absolute
monarchy. The province of the Diet was consultative rather than
legislative. Political and military power, as before, remained with the
king. Still, an important step had been taken toward representative

It was about this time, as a member of the National Diet, that Otto
Edward Leopold von Bismarck appeared upon the political stage. It was a
period of great political excitement, not only in Prussia, but
throughout Europe, and also of great material prosperity. Railways had
been built, the Zollverein had extended through North Germany, the
universities were in their glory, and into everything fearless thinkers
were casting their thoughtful eyes. Thirty-four years of peace had
enriched and united the German States. The great idea of the day was
political franchise. Everybody aspired to solve political problems, and
wished to have a voice in deliberative assemblies. There was also an
unusual agitation of religious ideas. Rouge had attempted the complete
emancipation of Germany from Papal influences, and university professors
threw their influence on the side of rationalism and popular liberty. On
the whole, there was a general tendency towards democratic ideas, which
was opposed with great bitterness by the conservative parties, made up
of nobles and government officials.

Bismarck arose, slowly but steadily, with the whole force of his genius,
among the defenders of the conservative interests of his order and of
the throne. He was then simply Herr von Bismarck, belonging to an
ancient and noble but not wealthy family, whose seat was Schönhausen,
where the future prince was born, April 1, 1815. The youth was sent to a
gymnasium in Berlin in 1830, and in 1832 to the university of Göttingen
in Hanover, where he was more distinguished for duels, drinking-parties,
and general lawlessness than for scholarship. Here he formed a memorable
friendship with a brother student, a young American,--John Lothrop
Motley, later the historian of the Dutch Republic. Much has been written
of Bismarck's reckless and dissipated life at the university, which
differed not essentially from that of other nobles. He had a grand
figure, superb health, extraordinary animal spirits, and could ride like
a centaur. He spent but three semestres at Göttingen, and then repaired
to Berlin in order to study jurisprudence under the celebrated Savigny;
but he was rarely seen in the lecture-room. He gave no promise of the
great abilities which afterward distinguished him. Yet he honorably
passed his State examination; and as he had chosen the law for his
profession, he first served on leaving the university as a sort of clerk
in the city police, and in 1834 was transferred to Aix-la-Chapelle, in
the administrative department of the district. In 1837 he served in the
crown office at Potsdam. He then entered for a year as a sharpshooter of
the Guards, to absolve his obligation to military service.

The next eight years, from the age of twenty-four, he devoted to
farming, hunting, carousing, and reading, on one of his father's estates
in Pomerania. He was a sort of country squire, attending fairs, selling
wool, inspecting timber, handling grain, gathering rents, and sitting as
a deputy in the local Diet,--the talk and scandal of the neighborhood
for his demon-like rides and drinking-bouts, yet now studying all the
while, especially history and even philosophy, managing the impoverished
paternal estates with prudence and success, and making short visits to
France and England, the languages of which countries he could speak with
fluency and accuracy. In 1847 he married Johanna von Putkammer, nine
years younger than himself, who proved a model wife, domestic and wise,
of whom he was both proud and fond. The same year, his father having
died and left him Schönhausen, he was elected a member of the Landtag, a
quasi-parliament of the eight united Diets of the monarchy; and his
great career began.

Up to this period Bismarck was not a publicly marked man, except in an
avidity for country sports and skill in horsemanship. He ever retained
his love of the country and of country life. If proud and overbearing,
he was not ostentatious. He had but few friends, but to these he was
faithful. He never was popular until he had made Prussia the most
powerful military State in Europe. He never sought to be loved so much
as to be feared; he never allowed himself to be approached without
politeness and deference. He seemed to care more for dogs than men. Nor
was he endowed with those graces of manner which marked Metternich. He
remained harsh, severe, grave, proud through his whole career, from
first to last, except in congenial company. What is called society he
despised, with all his aristocratic tendencies and high social rank. He
was born for untrammelled freedom, and was always impatient under
contradiction or opposition. When he reached the summit of his power he
resembled Wallenstein, the hero of the Thirty Years War,--superstitious,
self-sustained, unapproachable, inspiring awe, rarely kindling love,
overshadowing by his vast abilities the monarch whom he served
and ruled.

No account of the man, however, would be complete which did not
recognize the corner-stone of his character,--an immovable belief in the
feudalistic right of royalty to rule its subjects. Descended from an
ancient family of knights and statesmen, of the most intensely
aristocratic and reactionary class even in Germany, his inherited
instincts and his own tremendous will, backed by a physique of colossal
size and power, made effective his loyalty to the king and the monarchy,
which from the first dominated and inspired him. In the National Diet of
1847, Herr von Bismarck sat for more than a month before he opened his
lips; but when he did speak it became evident that he was determined to
support to the utmost the power of the crown. He was _plus royaliste
que le roi._ In the ordinary sense he was no orator. He hesitated, he
coughed, he sought for words; his voice, in spite of his herculean
frame, was feeble. But sturdy in his loyalty, although inexperienced in
parliamentary usage, he offered a bold front to the liberalism which he
saw to be dangerous to his sovereign's throne. Like Oliver Cromwell in
Parliament, he gained daily in power, while, unlike the English
statesman, he was opposed to the popular side, and held up the monarchy
after the fashion of Strafford. From that time, and in fact until 1866,
when he conquered Austria, Bismarck was very unpopular; and as he rose
in power he became the most bitterly hated man in Prussia,--which hatred
he returned with arrogant contempt. He consistently opposed all reforms,
even the emancipation of the Jews, which won him the favor of
the monarch.

When the revolution of 1848 broke out, which hurled Louis Philippe from
the French throne its flames reached every continental State except
Russia. Metternich, who had been all powerful in Austria for forty
years, was obliged to flee, as well as the imperial family itself. All
the Germanic States were now promised liberal constitutions by the
fallen or dismayed princes. In Prussia, affairs were critical, and the
reformers were sanguine of triumph. Berlin was agitated by mobs to the
verge of anarchy. The king, seriously alarmed, now promised the boon
which he had thus far withheld, and summoned the Second United Diet to
pave the way for a constituent assembly. In this constituent assembly
Bismarck scorned to sit. For six months it sat squabbling and fighting,
but accomplishing nothing. At last, Bismarck found it expedient to enter
the new parliament as a deputy, and again vigorously upheld the absolute
power of the crown. He did, indeed, accept the principle of
constitutional government, but, as he frankly said, against his will,
and only as a new power in the hands of the monarch to restrain popular
agitation and maintain order. Through his influence the king refused the
imperial crown offered by the Frankfort parliament, because he conceived
that the parliament had no right to give it, that its acceptance would
be a recognition of national instead of royal sovereignty, and that it
would be followed probably by civil war. As time went on he became more
and more the leader of the conservatives. I need not enumerate the
subjects which came up for discussion in the new Prussian parliament, in
which Bismarck exhibited with more force than eloquence his loyalty to
the crown, and a conservatism which was branded by the liberals as
mediaeval. But his originality, his boldness, his fearlessness, his
rugged earnestness, his wit and humor, his biting sarcasm, his
fertility of resources, his knowledge of men and affairs, and his
devoted patriotism, marked him out for promotion.

In 1851 Bismarck was sent as first secretary of the Prussian embassy to
the Diet of the various German States, convened at Frankfort, in which
Austria held a predominating influence. It was not a parliament, but an
administrative council of the Germanic Confederation founded by the
Congress of Vienna in 1815. It made no laws, and its sittings were
secret. It was a body which represented the League of Sovereigns, and
was composed of only seventeen delegates,--its main function being to
suppress all liberal movements in the various German States; like the
Congress of Vienna itself. The Diet of Frankfort was pretentious, but
practically impotent, and was the laughingstock of Europe. It was full
of jealousies and intrigues. It was a mere diplomatic conference. As
Austria and Prussia controlled it, things went well enough when these
two Powers were agreed; but they did not often agree. There was a
perpetual rivalry between them, and an unextinguishable jealousy.

There were many sneers at the appointment of a man to this diplomatic
post whose manners were brusque and overbearing, and who had spent the
most of his time, after leaving the university, among horses, cattle,
and dogs; who was only a lieutenant of militia, with a single
decoration, and who was unacquainted with what is called diplomacy. But
the king knew his man, and the man was conscious of his powers.

Bismarck found life at Frankfort intolerably dull. He had a contempt for
his diplomatic associates generally, and made fun of them to his few
intimate friends. He took them in almost at a glance, for he had an
intuitive knowledge of character; he weighed them in his balance, and
found them wanting. In a letter to his wife, he writes: "Nothing but
miserable trifles do these people trouble themselves about. They strike
me as infinitely more ridiculous with their important ponderosity
concerning the gathered rags of gossip, than even a member of the Second
Chamber of Berlin in the full consciousness of his dignity.... The men
of the minor States are mostly mere caricatures of periwig diplomatists,
who at once put on their official visage if I merely beg of them a light
to my cigar."

His extraordinary merits were however soon apparent to the king, and
even to his chief, old General Rochow, who was soon transferred to St.
Petersburg to make way for the secretary. The king's brother William,
Prince of Prussia, when at Frankfort, was much impressed by the young
Prussian envoy to the Bund, and there was laid the foundation of the
friendship between the future soldier-king and the future chancellor,
between whom there always existed a warm confidence and esteem. Soon
after, Bismarck made the acquaintance of Metternich, who had ruled for
so long a time both the Diet and the Empire. The old statesman, now
retired, invited the young diplomatist to his castle at Johannisberg.
They had different aims, but similar sympathies. The Austrian statesman
sought to preserve the existing state of things; the Prussian, to make
his country dominant over Germany. Both were aristocrats, and both were
conservative; but Metternich was as bland and polished as Bismarck was
rough and brusque.

Nothing escaped the watchful eye of Bismarck at Frankfort as the
ambassador of Prussia. He took note of everything, both great and small,
and communicated it to Berlin as if he were a newspaper correspondent.
In everything he showed his sympathy with absolutism, and hence
recommended renewed shackles on the Press and on the universities,--at
that time the hotbed of revolutionary ideas. His central aim and
constant thought was the ascendency of Prussia,--first in royal strength
at home, then throughout Germany as the rival of Austria. Bismarck was
not only a keen observer, but he soon learned to disguise his thoughts.
Nobody could read him. He was frank when his opponents were full of
lies, knowing that he would not be believed. He became a perfect master
of the art of deception. No one was a match for him in statecraft. Even
Prince Gortschakoff became his dupe. By his tact he kept Prussia from
being entangled by the usurpation of Napoleon III., and by the Crimean
war. He saw into the character of the French emperor, and discovered
that he was shallow, and not to be feared. At Frankfort, Bismarck had
many opportunities of seeing distinguished men of all nations; he took
their gauge, and penetrated the designs of cabinets. He counselled his
master to conciliate Napoleon, though regarding him as an upstart; and
he sought the friendship of France in order to eclipse the star of
Austria, whom it was necessary to humble before Prussia could rise. In
his whole diplomatic career at Frankfort it was Bismarck's aim to
contravene the designs of Austria, having in view the aggrandizement of
Prussia as the true head and centre of German nationality. He therefore
did all he could to prevent Austria from being assisted in her war with
Italy, and rejoiced in her misfortunes. In the meantime he made frequent
short visits to Holland, Denmark, Italy, and Hungary, acquired the
languages of these countries, and made himself familiar with their
people and institutions, besides shrewdly studying the characters,
manners, and diplomatic modes of the governing classes of European
nations at large. Cool, untiring, self-possessed, he was storing up
information and experience.

At the end of eight years, in 1859, Bismarck was transferred to St.
Petersburg as the Prussian ambassador to Alexander II. He was then
forty-three years of age, and was known as the sworn foe of Austria. His
free-and-easy but haughty manners were a great contrast to those of his
stiff, buttoned-up, and pretentious predecessors; and he became a great
favorite in Russian court circles. The comparatively small salary he
received,--less than twenty thousand dollars, with a house,--would not
allow him to give expensive entertainments, or to run races in
prodigality with the representatives of England, France, or even
Austria, who received nearly fifty thousand dollars. But no parties were
more sought or more highly appreciated than those which his sensible and
unpretending wife gave in the high society in which they moved. With the
empress-dowager he was an especial favorite, and was just the sort of
man whom the autocrat of all the Russias would naturally like,
especially for his love of hunting, and his success in shooting deer and
bears. He did not go to grand parties any more than he could help,
despising their ostentation and frivolity, and always feeling the
worse for them.

On the 2d of January, 1861, Frederick William IV., who had for some time
been insane, died, and was succeeded by the Prince Regent, William I.,
already in his sixty-fifth year, every inch a soldier and nothing else.
Bismarck was soon summoned to the councils of his sovereign at Berlin,
who was perplexed and annoyed by the Liberal party, which had the
ascendency in the lower Chamber of the general Diet. Office was pressed
upon Bismarck, but before he accepted it he wished to study Napoleon and
French affairs more closely, and was therefore sent as ambassador to
Paris in 1862. He made that year a brief visit to London, Disraeli being
then the premier, who smiled at his schemes for the regeneration of
Germany. It was while journeying amid the Pyrenees that Bismarck was
again summoned to Berlin, the lower Chamber having ridden rough-shod
over his Majesty's plans for army reform. The king invested him with the
great office of President of the Ministry, his abilities being
universally recognized.

It was now Bismarck's mission to break the will of the Prussian
parliament, and to thrust Austria out of the Germanic body. He
considered only the end in view, caring nothing for the means: he had no
scruples. It was his religion to raise Prussia to the same ascendency
that Austria had held under Metternich. He had a master whose will and
ambition were equal to his own, yet whose support he was sure of in
carrying out his grand designs. He was now a second Richelieu, to whom
the aggrandizement of the monarchy which he served and the welfare of
Fatherland were but convertible terms. He soon came into bitter
conflict, not with nobles, but with progressive liberals in the Chamber,
who detested him and feared him, but to whom he did not condescend to
reveal his plans,--bearing obloquy with placidity in the greatness of
the end he had in view. He was a self-sustained, haughty, unapproachable
man of power, except among the few friends whom he honored as boon
companions, without ever losing his discretion,--wearing a mask with
apparent frankness, and showing real frankness in matters which did not
concern secrets of state, especially on the subjects of education and
religion. Like his master, he was more a Calvinist than a Lutheran. He
openly avowed his dependence on Almighty God, and on him alone, as the
hope of nations. In this respect we trace a resemblance to Oliver
Cromwell rather than to Frederic the Great. Bismarck was a compound of
both, in his patriotism and his unscrupulousness.

The first thing that King William and his minister did was to double the
army. But this vast increase of military strength seemed unnecessary to
the Liberal party, and the requisite increase of taxes to support it was
unpopular. Hence, Bismarck was brought in conflict with the lower
Chamber, which represented the middle classes. He dared not tell his
secret schemes without imperilling their success, which led to grave
misunderstandings. For four years the conflict raged between the crown
and the parliament, both the king and Bismarck being inflexible; and the
lower House was equally obstinate in refusing to grant the large
military supplies demanded. At last, Bismarck dissolved the Chambers,
and the king declared that as the Three Estates could not agree, he
should continue to do his duty by Prussia without regard to "these
pieces of paper called constitutions." The next four sessions of the
Chamber were closed in the same manner. Bismarck admitted that he was
acting unconstitutionally, but claimed the urgency of public necessity.
In the public debates he was cool, sarcastic, and contemptuous. The
Press took up the fight, and the Press was promptly muzzled. Bismarck
was denounced as a Catiline, a Strafford, a Polignac; but he retained a
provoking serenity, and quietly prepared for war,--since war, he
foresaw, was sooner or later inevitable. "Nothing can solve the
question," said he, "but blood and iron."

At last an event occurred which showed his hand. In November, 1863,
Frederick VII., the king of Denmark, died. By his death the
Schleswig-Holstein question again burst upon distracted Europe,--Who was
to reign over the two Danish provinces? The king of Denmark, as Duke of
Schleswig and Holstein, had been represented in the Germanic Diet. By
the treaty of London, in 1852, he had undertaken not to incorporate the
duchies with the rest of his monarchy, allowing them to retain their
traditional autonomy. In 1863, shortly before his death, Frederick VII.
by a decree dissolved this autonomy, and virtually incorporated
Schleswig, which was only partly German, with the Danish monarchy,
leaving the wholly German Holstein as before. Bismarck protested against
this violation of treaty obligations. The Danish parliament nevertheless
passed a law which incorporated the province with Denmark; and Christian
IX., the new monarch, confirmed the law.

But a new claimant to the duchies now appeared in the person of
Frederick of Augustenburg, a German prince; and the Prussian Chamber
advocated his claims, as did the Diet itself; but the throne held its
opinion in reserve. Bismarck contrived (by what diplomatic tricks and
promises it is difficult to say) to induce Austria to join with Prussia
in seizing the provinces in question and in dividing the spoil between
them. As these two Powers controlled the Diet at Frankfort, it was easy
to carry out the programme. An Austro-Prussian army accordingly invaded
Schleswig-Holstein, and to the scandal of all Europe drove the Danish
defenders to the wall. It was regarded in the same light as the seizure
of Silesia by Frederic the Great,--a high-handed and unscrupulous
violation of justice and right. England was particularly indignant, and
uttered loud protests. So did the lesser States of Germany, jealous of
the aggrandizement of Prussia. Even the Prussian Chamber refused to
grant the money for such an enterprise.

But Bismarck laughed in his sleeve. This arch-diplomatist had his
reasons, which he did not care to explain. He had in view the weakening
of the power of the Diet, and a quarrel with Austria. True, he had
embraced Austria, but after the fashion of a bear. He knew that Austria
and Prussia would wrangle about the division of the spoil, which would
lead to misunderstandings, and thus furnish the pretext for a war, which
he felt to be necessary before Prussia could be aggrandized and German
unity be effected, with Prussia at its head,--the two great objects of
his life. His policy was marvellously astute; but he kept his own
counsels, and continued to hug his secret enemy.

On the 30th of October, 1864, the Treaty of Vienna was signed, by which
it was settled that the king of Denmark should surrender
Schleswig-Holstein and Lauenburg to Austria and Prussia, and he bound
himself to submit to what their majesties might think fit as to the
disposition of these three duchies. Probably both parties sought an
occasion to quarrel, since their commissioners had received opposite
instructions,--the Austrians defending the claims of Frederick of
Augustenburg, as generally desired in Germany, and the Prussians now
opposing them. Prussia demanded the expulsion of the pretender; to which
Austria said no. Prussia further sounded Austria as to the annexation of
the duchies to herself, to which Austria consented, on condition of
receiving an equivalent of some province in Silesia. "What!" thought
Bismarck, angrily, "give you back part of what was won for Prussia by
Frederic the Great? Never!" Affairs had a gloomy look; but war was
averted for a while by the Convention of Gastein, by which the
possession of Schleswig was assigned to Prussia, and Holstein to
Austria; and further, in consideration of two and a half millions of
dollars, the Emperor Francis Joseph ceded to King William all his rights
of co-proprietorship in the Duchy of Lauenburg.

But the Chamber of Berlin boldly declared this transaction to be null
and void, since the country had not been asked to ratify the treaty. It
must be borne in mind that the conflict was still going on between
Bismarck, as the defender of the absolute sovereignty of the king, and
the liberal and progressive members of the Chamber, who wanted a freer
and more democratic constitution. Opposed, then, by the Chamber,
Bismarck dissolved it, and coolly reminded his enemies that the Chamber
had nothing to do with politics,--only with commercial affairs and
matters connected with taxation. This was the period of his greatest
unpopularity, since his policy and ultimate designs were not
comprehended. So great was the popular detestation in which he was held
that a fanatic tried to kill him in the street, but only succeeded in
wounding him slightly.

In the meantime Austria fomented disaffection in the provinces which
Prussia had acquired, and Bismarck resolved to cut the knot by the
sword. Prussian troops marched to the frontier, and Austria on her part
also prepared for war. It is difficult to see that a real _casus belli_
existed. We only know that both parties wanted to fight, whatever were
their excuses and pretensions; and both parties sought the friendship of
Russia and France, especially by holding out delusive hopes to Napoleon
of accession of territory. They succeeded in inducing both Russia and
France to remain neutral,--mere spectators of the approaching contest,
which was purely a German affair. It was the first care of Prussia to
prevent the military union of her foes in North Germany with her foes in
the south,--which was effected in part by the diplomatic genius of
Bismarck, and in part by occupying the capitals of Hanover, Saxony, and
Hesse-Cassel with Prussian troops, in a very summary way.

The encounter now began in earnest between Prussia and Austria for the
prize of ascendency. Both parties were confident of success,--Austria as
the larger State, with proud traditions, triumphant over rebellious
Italy; and Prussia, with its enlarged military organization and the new
breech-loading needle-gun.

Count von Moltke at this time came prominently on the European stage as
the greatest strategist since Napoleon. He was chief of staff to the
king, who was commander-in-chief. He set his wonderful machinery in
harmonious action, and from his office in Berlin moved his military
pawns by touch of electric wire. Three great armies were soon
centralized in Bohemia,--one of three corps, comprising one hundred
thousand men, led by Prince Charles, the king's nephew; the second, of
four corps, of one hundred and sixteen thousand men, commanded by the
crown prince, the king's son; and the third, of forty thousand, led by
General von Bittenfield. "March separately; strike together," were the
orders of Moltke. Vainly did the Austrians attempt to crush these armies
in detail before they should combine at the appointed place. On they
came, with mathematical accuracy, until two of the armies reached
Gitschin, the objective point, where they were joined by the king, by
Moltke, by Bismarck, and by General von Roon, the war minister. On the
2d of June, 1866, they were opposite Königgrätz (or Sadowa, as the
Austrians called it), where the Austrians were marshalled. On the 3d of
July the battle began; and the scales hung pretty evenly until, at the
expected hour, the crown prince--"our Fritz," as the people
affectionately called him after this, later the Emperor Frederick
William--made his appearance on the field with his army. Assailed on
both flanks and pressed in the centre, the Austrians first began to
slacken fire, then to waver, then to give way under the terrific
concentrated fire of the needle-guns, then to retreat into ignominious
flight. The contending forces were about equal; but science and the
needle-gun won the day, and changed the whole aspect of modern warfare.
The battle of Königgrätz settled this point,--that success in war
depends more on good powder and improved weapons than on personal
bravery or even masterly evolutions. Other things being equal, victory
is almost certain to be on the side of the combatants who have the best
weapons. The Prussians won the day of Königgrätz by their breech-loading
guns, although much was due to their superior organization and
superior strategy.

That famous battle virtually ended the Austro-Prussian campaign, which
lasted only about seven weeks. It was one of those "decisive battles"
that made Prussia the ascendent power in Germany, and destroyed the
prestige of Austria. It added territory to Prussia equal to one quarter
of the whole kingdom, and increased her population by four and a half
millions of people. At a single bound, Prussia became a first-class
military State.

The Prussian people were almost frantic with joy; and Bismarck, from
being the most unpopular man in the nation, became instantly a national
idol. His marvellous diplomacy, by which Austria was driven to the
battlefield, was now seen and universally acknowledged. He obtained
fame, decorations, and increased power. A grateful nation granted to him
four hundred thousand thalers, with which he bought the estate of
Varzin. General von Moltke received three hundred thousand thalers and
immense military prestige. The war minister, Von Roon, also received
three hundred thousand thalers. These three stood out as the three most
prominent men of the nation, next to the royal family.

Never was so short a war so pregnant with important consequences. It
consolidated the German Confederation under Prussian dominance. By
weakening Austria it led to the national unity of Italy, and secured
free government to the whole Austrian empire, since that government
could no longer refuse the demands of Hungary. Above all, "it shattered
the fabric of Ultramontanism which had been built up by the concordat
of 1853."

It was the expectation of Napoleon III that Austria would win in this
war; but the loss of the Austrians was four to one, besides her
humiliation, condemned as she was to pay a war indemnity, with the loss
also of the provinces of Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Hesse-Cassel,
Nassau, and Frankfort. But Bismarck did not push Austria to the wall,
since he did not wish to make her an irreconcilable enemy. He left open
a door for future and permanent peace. He did not desire to ruin his
foe, but simply to acquire the lead in German politics and exclude
Austria from the Germanic Confederation. Napoleon, disappointed and
furious, blustered, and threatened war, unless he too could come in for
a share of the plunder, to which he had no real claim. Bismarck calmly
replied, "Well, then, let there be war," knowing full well that France
was not prepared, Napoleon consulted his marshals, "Are we prepared,"
asked he, "to fight all Germany?" "Certainly not," replied the marshals,
"until our whole army, like that of Prussia, is supplied with a
breech-loader; until our drill is modified to suit the new weapon; until
our fortresses are in a perfect state of preparedness, and until we
create a mobile and efficient national reserve."

When Carlyle heard the news of the great victories of Prussia, he wrote
to a friend, "Germany is to stand on her feet henceforth, and face all
manner of Napoleons and hungry, sponging dogs, with clear steel in her
hand and an honest purpose in her heart. This seems to me the best news
we or Europe have heard for the last forty years or more."

The triumphal return of the Prussian troops to Berlin was followed on
the 24th of February, 1867, by the opening of the first North German
parliament,--three hundred deputies chosen from the various allied
States by universal suffrage. Twenty-two States north of the Main formed
themselves into a perpetual league for the protection of the Union and
its institutions. Legislative power was to be invested in two
bodies,--the Reichstag, representing the people; and the Bundesrath,
composed of delegates from the allied governments, the perpetual
presidency of which was invested in the king of Prussia. He was also
acknowledged as the commander-in-chief of the united armies; and the
standing army, on a peace footing, was fixed at one per cent of all the
inhabitants. This constitution was drawn by Bismarck himself, not
unwilling, under the unquestioned supremacy of his monarch, to utilize
the spirit of the times, and admit the people to a recognized support of
the crown.

Thus Germany at last acquired a liberal constitution, though not so free
and broad as that of England. The absolute control of the army and navy,
the power to make treaties and declare peace and war, the appointment
of all the great officers of state, and the control of education and
other great interests still remained with the king. The functions of the
lower House seemed to be mostly confined to furnishing the sinews of war
and government,--the granting of money and the regulation of taxes.
Meanwhile, secret treaties of alliance were concluded with the southern
States of Germany, offensive and defensive, in case of war,--another
stroke of diplomatic ability on the part of Bismarck; for the intrigues
of Napoleon had been incessant to separate the southern from the
northern States,--in other words, to divide Germany, which the French
emperor was sanguine he could do. With a divided Germany, he believed
that he was more than a match for the king of Prussia, as soon as his
military preparations should be made. Could he convert these States into
allies, he was ready for war. He was intent upon securing for France
territorial enlargements equal to those of Prussia. He could no longer
expect any thing on the Rhine, and he turned his eyes to Belgium.

The war-cloud arose on the political horizon in 1867, when Napoleon
sought to purchase from the king of Holland the Duchy of Luxemburg,
which was a personal fief of his kingdom, though it was inhabited by
Germans, and which made him a member of the Germanic Confederation if he
chose to join it. In the time of Napoleon I. Luxemburg was defended by
one of the strongest fortresses in Europe, garrisoned by Prussian
troops; it was therefore a menace to France on her northeastern
frontier. As Napoleon III, promised a very big sum of money for this
duchy, with a general protectorate of Holland in case of Prussian
aggressions, the king of Holland was disposed to listen to the proposal
of the French emperor; but when it was discovered that an alliance of
the southern States had been made with the northern States of Germany,
which made Prussia the mistress of Germany, the king of Holland became
alarmed, and declined the French proposals. The chagrin of the emperor
and the wrath of the French nation became unbounded. Again they had been
foiled by the arch-diplomatist of Prussia.

All this was precisely what Bismarck wanted. Confident of the power of
Prussia, he did all he could to drive the French nation to frenzy. He
worked on a vainglorious, excitable, and proud people, at the height of
their imperial power. Napoleon was irresolute, although it appeared to
him that war with Prussia was the only way to recover his prestige after
the mistakes of the Mexican expedition. But Mexico had absorbed the
marrow of the French army, and the emperor was not quite ready for war.
He must find some pretence for abandoning his designs on Luxemburg, any
attempt to seize which would be a plain _casus belli_. Both parties were
anxious to avoid the initiative of a war which might shake Europe to its
centre. Both parties pretended peace; but both desired war.

Napoleon, a man fertile in resources, in order to avoid immediate
hostilities looked about for some way to avoid what he knew was
premature; so he proposed submitting the case to arbitration, and the
Powers applied themselves to extinguish the gathering flames. The
conference--composed of representatives of England, France, Russia,
Austria, Prussia, Holland, and Belgium--met in London; and the result of
it was that Prussia agreed to withdraw her garrison from Luxemburg and
to dismantle the fortress, while the duchy was to continue to be a
member of the German Zollverein, or Customs Union. King William was
willing to make this concession to the cause of humanity; and his
minister, rather than go against the common sentiment of Europe,
reluctantly conceded this point, which, after all, was not of paramount
importance. Thus was war prevented for a time, although everybody knew
that it was inevitable, sooner or later.

The next three years Bismarck devoted himself to diplomatic intrigues in
order to cement the union of the German States,--for the Luxemburg
treaty was well known to be a mere truce,--and Napoleon did the same to
weaken the union. In the meantime King William accepted an invitation of
Napoleon to visit Paris at the time of the Great Exposition; and thither
he went, accompanied by Counts Bismarck and Moltke. The party was soon
after joined by the Czar, accompanied by Prince Gortschakoff, who had
the reputation of being the ablest diplomatist in Europe, next to
Bismarck. The meeting was a sort of carnival of peace, hollow and
pretentious, with fêtes and banquets and military displays innumerable.
The Prussian minister amused himself by feeling the national pulse,
while Moltke took long walks to observe the fortifications of Paris.
When his royal guests had left, Napoleon travelled to Salzburg to meet
the Austrian emperor, ostensibly to condole with him for the unfortunate
fate of Maximilian in Mexico, but really to interchange political ideas.
Bismarck was not deceived, and openly maintained that the military and
commercial interests of north and south Germany were identical.

In April, 1868, the Customs Parliament assembled in Berlin, as the first
representative body of the entire nation that had as yet met. Though
convoked to discuss tobacco and cotton, the real object was to pave the
way for "the consummation of the national destinies."

Bismarck meanwhile conciliated Hanover, whose sovereign, King George,
had been dethroned, by giving him a large personal indemnity, and by
granting home rule to what was now a mere province of Prussia. In
Berlin, he resisted in the Reichstag the constitutional encroachments
which the Liberal party aimed at,--ever an autocrat rather than
minister, having no faith in governmental responsibility to parliament.
Only one master he served, and that was the king, as Richelieu served
Louis XIII. Nor would he hear of a divided ministry; affairs were too
complicated to permit him to be encumbered by colleagues. He maintained
that public affairs demanded quickness, energy, and unity of action; and
it was certainly fortunate for Germany in the present crisis that the
foreign policy was in the hands of a single man, and that man so able,
decided, and astute as Bismarck.

All the while secret preparations for war went on in both Prussia and
France. French spies overran the Rhineland, and German draughtsmen were
busy in the cities and plains of Alsace-Lorraine. France had at last
armed her soldiers with the breech-loading chassepot gun, by many
thought to be superior to the needle-gun; and she had in addition
secretly constructed a terrible and mysterious engine of war called
_mitrailleuse_,--a combination of gun-barrels fired by mechanism. These
were to effect great results. On paper, four hundred and fifty thousand
men were ready to rush as an irresistible avalanche on the Rhine
provinces. To the distant observer it seemed that France would gain an
easy victory, and once again occupy Berlin. Besides her supposed
military forces, she still had a great military prestige. Prussia had
done nothing of signal importance for forty years except to fight the
duel with Austria; but France had done the same, and had signally
conquered at Solferino. Yet during forty years Prussia had been
organizing her armies on the plan which Scharnhorst had furnished, and
had four hundred and fifty thousand men under arms,--not on paper, but
really ready for the field, including a superb cavalry force. The combat
was to be one of material forces, guided by science.

I have said that only a pretext was needed to begin hostilities. This
pretext on the part of the French was that their ambassador to Berlin,
Benedetti, was reported to have been insulted by the king. He was not
insulted. The king simply refused to have further parley with an
arrogant ambassador, and referred him to his government,--which was the
proper thing to do. On this bit of scandal the French politicians--the
people who led the masses--lashed themselves into fury, and demanded
immediate war. Napoleon could not resist the popular pressure, and war
was proclaimed. The arrogant demand of Napoleon, through his ambassador
Benedetti, that the king of Prussia should agree never to permit his
relative, Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern, to accept the vacant throne of
Spain, to which he had been elected by the provisional government of
that country, was the occasion of King William's curt reception of the
French envoy; for this was an insulting demand, not to be endured. It
was no affair of Napoleon, especially since the prince had already
declined the throne at the request of the king of Prussia, as the head
of the Hohenzollern family. But the French nation generally, the
Catholic Church party working through the Empress Eugenie, and, above
all, the excitable Parisians, goaded by the orators and the Press, saw
the possibility of an extension of the Roman empire of Charles V., under
the control of Prussia; and Napoleon was driven to the fatal course,
first, of making the absurd demand, and then--in spite of a wholesome
irresolution, born of his ignorance concerning his own military
forces--of resenting its declinature with war.

In two weeks the German forces were mobilized, and the colossal
organization, in three great armies, all directed by Moltke as chief of
staff to the commander-in-chief, the still vigorous old man who ruled
and governed at Berlin, were on their way to the seat of war. At
Mayence, the king in person, on the 2d of August, 1870, assumed command
of the united German armies; and in one month from that date Prance was
prostrate at his feet.

It would be interesting to detail the familiar story; but my limits will
not permit. I can only say that the three armies of the German forces,
each embracing several corps, were, one under the command of General
Steinmetz, another under Prince Frederic Charles, and the third under
the crown prince,--and all under the orders of Moltke, who represented
the king. The crown prince, on the extreme left, struck the first blow
at Weissenburg, on the 4th of August; and on the 6th he assaulted
McMahon at Worth, and drove back his scattered forces,--partly on
Chalons, and partly on Strasburg; while Steinmetz, commanding the right
wing, nearly annihilated Frossard's corps at Spicheren. It was now the
aim of the French under Bazaine, who commanded two hundred and fifty
thousand men near Metz, to join McMahon's defeated forces. This was
frustrated by Moltke in the bloody battle of Gravelotte, compelling
Bazaine to retire within the lines of Metz, the strongest fortress in
France, which was at once surrounded by Prince Charles. Meanwhile, the
crown prince continued the pursuit of McMahon, who had found it
impossible to effect a junction with Bazaine. At Sedan the armies met;
but as the Germans were more than twice the number of the French, and
had completely surrounded them, the struggle was useless,--and the
French, with the emperor himself, were compelled to surrender as
prisoners of war. Thus fell Napoleon's empire.

After the battle of Sedan, one of the decisive battles of history, the
Germans advanced rapidly to Paris, and King William took up his quarters
at Versailles, with his staff and his councillor Bismarck, who had
attended him day by day through the whole campaign, and conducted the
negotiations of the surrender. Paris, defended by strong fortifications,
resolved to sustain a siege rather than yield, hoping that something
might yet turn up by which the besieged garrison should be relieved,--a
forlorn hope, as Paris was surrounded, especially on the fall of Metz,
by nearly half a million of the best soldiers in the world. Yet that
memorable siege lasted five months, and Paris did not yield until
reduced by extreme, famine; and perhaps it might have held out much
longer if it could have been provisioned. But this was not to be. The
Germans took the city as Alaric had taken Rome, without much waste
of blood.

The conquerors were now inexorable, and demanded a war indemnity of five
milliards of francs, and the cession of Metz and the two province of
Alsace-Lorraine (which Louis XIV had formerly wrested away), including
Strasburg. Eloquently but vainly did old Thiers plead for better terms;
but he pleaded with men as hard as iron, who exacted, however, no more
than Napoleon III would have done had the fortune of war enabled him to
reach Berlin as the conqueror. War is hard under any circumstances, but
never was national humiliation more complete than when the Prussian flag
floated over the Arc de Triomphe, and Prussian soldiers defiled
beneath it.

Nothing was now left for the aged Prussian king but to put upon his head
the imperial crown of Germany, for all the German States were finally
united under him. The scene took place at Versailles in the Hall of
Mirrors, in probably the proudest palace ever erected since the days of
Nebuchadnezzar. Surrounded by princes and generals, Chancellor Bismarck
read aloud the Proclamation of the Empire, and the new German emperor
gave thanks to God. It was a fitting sequence to the greatest military
success since Napoleon crushed the German armies at Jena and Austerlitz.
The tables at last were turned, and the heavy, phlegmatic, intelligent
Teutons triumphed over the warlike and passionate Celts. So much for the
genius of the greatest general and the greatest diplomatist that Europe
had known for half-a-century.

Bismarck's rewards for his great services were magnificent, quite equal
to those of Wellington or Marlborough. He received another valuable
estate, this time from his sovereign, which gift made him one of the
greatest landed proprietors of Prussia; he was created a Prince; he was
decorated with the principal orders of Europe; he had augmented power as
chancellor of confederated Germany; he was virtual dictator of his
country, which he absolutely ruled in the name of a wearied old man
passed seventy years of age. But the minister's labors and vexations do
not end with the Franco-German war During the years that immediately
follow, he is still one of the hardest-worked men in Europe. He receives
one thousand letters and telegrams a day. He has to manage an
unpractical legislative assembly, clamorous for new privileges, and
attend to the complicated affairs of a great empire, and direct his
diplomatic agents in every country of Europe. He finds that the sanctum
of a one-man power is not a bed of roses. Sometimes he seeks rest and
recreation on one of his estates, but labors and public duties follow
him wherever he goes. He is too busy and preoccupied even for pleasure,
unless he is hunting boars and stags. He seems to care but little for
art of any kind, except music; but once in his life has he ever visited
the Museum of Berlin; he never goes to the theatre. He appears as little
as possible in the streets, but when recognized he is stared at as a
wonder. He lives hospitably but plainly, and in a palace with few
ornaments or luxuries. He enshrouds himself in mystery, but not in
gloom. Few dare approach him, for his manners are brusque and rough, and
he is feared more even than he is honored. His aspect is stern and
haughty, except when he occasionally unbends. In his family he is
simple, frank, and domestic; but in public he is the cold and imperative
dictator. Even the royal family are uncomfortable in his commanding and
majestic presence; everybody stands in awe of him but his wife and
children. He caresses only his dogs. He eats but once a day, but his
meal is enough for five men; he drinks a quart of beer or wine without
taking the cup from his mouth; he smokes incessantly, generally a long
Turkish pipe. He sleeps irregularly, disturbed by thoughts which fill
his troubled brain. Honored is the man who is invited to his table, even
if he be the ambassador of a king; for at table the host is frank and
courteous, and not overbearing like a literary dictator. He is well read
in history, but not in art or science or poetry. His stories are
admirable when he is in convivial mood; all sit around him in silent
admiration, for no one dares more than suggest the topic,--he does all
the talking himself. Bayard Taylor, when United States minister at
Berlin, was amazed and confounded by his freedom of speech and apparent
candor. He is frank in matters he does not care to conceal, and simple
as a child when not disputed or withstood; but when opposed fierce as a
lion,--a spoiled man of success, yet not intoxicated with power. Haughty
and irritable, perhaps, but never vain like a French statesman in
office,--a Webster rather than a Thiers.

Such was the man who ruled the German empire with an iron hand for
twenty years or more,--the most remarkable man of power known to history
for seventy-five years; immortal like Cavour, and for his services even
more than his abilities. He had raised Prussia to the front rank among
nations, and created German unity. He had quietly effected more than
Richelieu ever aspired to perform; for Richelieu sought only to build up
a great throne, while Bismarck had united a great nation in patriotic
devotion to Fatherland, which, so far as we can see, is as invincible as
it is enlightened,--enlightened in everything except in
democratic ideas.

I will not dwell on the career and character of Prince Bismarck since
the Franco-Prussian war. After that he was not identified with any great
national movements which command universal interest. His labors were
principally confined to German affairs,--quarrels with the Reichstag,
settlement of difficulties with the various States of the Germanic
Confederation, the consolidation of the internal affairs of the empire
while he carried on diplomatic relations with other great Powers,
efforts to gain the good-will of Russia and secure the general peace of
Europe. These, and a multitude of other questions too recent to be
called historical, he dealt with, in all of which his autocratic
sympathies called out the censures of the advocates of greater liberty,
and diminished his popularity. For twenty years his will was the law of
the German Confederation; though bitterly opposed at times by the
Liberals, he was always sustained by his imperial master, who threw the
burdens of State on his herculean shoulders, sometimes too great to bear
with placidity. His foreign policy was then less severely criticised
than his domestic, which was alternate success and failure.

The war which he waged with the spiritual power was perhaps the most
important event of his administration, and in which he had not
altogether his own way, underrating, as is natural to such a man,
spiritual forces as compared with material. In his memorable quarrel
with Rome he appeared to the least advantage,--at first rigid, severe,
and arbitrary with the Catholic clergy, even to persecution, driving
away the Jesuits (1872), shutting up schools and churches, imprisoning
and fining ecclesiastical dignitaries, intolerant in some cases as the
Inquisition itself. One-fourth of the people of the empire are
Catholics, yet he sternly sought to suppress their religious rights and
liberties as they regarded them, thinking he could control them by
material penalties,--such as taking away their support, and shutting
them up in prison,--forgetting that conscientious Christians, whether
Catholics or Protestants, will in matters of religion defy the mightiest
rulers. No doubt the policy of the Catholics of Germany was extremely
irritating to a despotic ruler who would exalt the temporal over the
spiritual power; and equally true was it that the Pope himself was
unyielding in regard to the liberties of his church, demanding
everything and giving back nothing, in accordance with the uniform
traditions of Papal domination. The Catholics, the world over, look upon
the education of their children as a thing to be superintended by their
own religious teachers,--as their inalienable right and imperative duty;
and any State interference with this right and this duty they regard as
religious persecution, to which they will never submit without hostility
and relentless defiance. Bismarck felt that to concede to the demands
which the Catholic clergy ever have made in respect to religious
privileges was to "go to Canossa,"--where Henry IV. Emperor of Germany,
in 1077, humiliated himself before Pope Gregory VII. in order to gain
absolution. The long-sighted and experienced Thiers remarked that here
Bismarck was on the wrong track, and would be compelled to retreat,
with all his power. Bismarck was too wise a man to persist in attempting
impossibilities, and after a bitter fight he became conciliatory. He did
not "go to Canossa," but he yielded to the dictates of patriotism and
enlightened policy, and the quarrel was patched up.

His long struggles with the Catholics told upon his health and spirits,
and he was obliged to seek long periods of rest and recreation on his
estates,--sometimes, under great embarrassments and irritations,
threatening to resign, to which his imperial master, grateful and
dependent, would never under any circumstances consent. But the
prince-president of the ministers and chancellor of the empire was
loaded down with duties--in his cabinet, in his office, and in the
parliament--most onerous to bear, and which no other man in Germany was
equal to. His burdens at times were intolerable: his labors were
prodigious, and the opposition he met with was extremely irritating to a
man accustomed to have his own way in everything.

Another thing gave him great solicitude, taxed to the utmost his fertile
brain; and that was the rising and wide-spreading doctrines of
Socialism,--which was to Germany what Nihilism is to Russia and
Fenianism was to Ireland; based on discontent, unbelief, and desperate
schemes of unpractical reform, leading to the assassination even of
emperors themselves. How to deal with this terrible foe to all
governments, all laws, and all institutions was a most perplexing
question. At first he was inclined to the most rigorous measures, to a
war of utter extermination; but how could he deal with enemies he could
neither see nor find, omnipresent and invisible, and unscrupulous as
satanic furies,--fanatics whom no reasoning could touch and no laws
control, whether human or divine? As experience and thought enlarged his
mental vision, he came to the conclusion that the real source and spring
of that secret and organized hostility which he deplored, but was unable
to reach and to punish, were evils in government and evils in the
structure of society,--aggravating inequality, grinding poverty,
ignorance, and the hard struggle for life. Accordingly, he devoted his
energies to improve the general condition of the people, and make the
struggle for life easier. In his desire to equalize burdens he resorted
to indirect rather than direct taxation,--to high tariffs and protective
duties to develop German industry; throwing to the winds his earlier
beliefs in the theories of the Manchester school of political economy,
and all speculative ideas as to the blessings of free-trade for the
universe in general. He bought for the government the various Prussian
railroads, in order to have uniformity of rates and remove vexatious
discriminations, which only a central power could effect. In short, he
aimed to develop the material resources of the country, both to insure
financial prosperity and to remove those burdens which press heavily
on the poor.

On one point, however, his policy was inexorable; and that was to suffer
no reduction of the army, but rather to increase it to the utmost extent
that the nation could bear,--not with the view of future conquests or
military aggrandizement, as some thought, but as an imperative necessity
to guard the empire from all hostile attacks, whether from France or
Russia, or both combined. A country surrounded with enemies as Germany
is, in the centre of Europe, without the natural defences of the sea
which England enjoys, or great chains of mountains on her borders
difficult to penetrate and easy to defend, as is the case with
Switzerland, must have a superior military force to defend her, in case
of future contingencies which no human wisdom can foresee. Nor is it
such a dreadful burden to support a peace establishment of four hundred
and fifty thousand men as some think,--one soldier for every one hundred
inhabitants, trained and disciplined to be intelligent and industrious
when his short term of three years of active service shall have expired:
much easier to bear, I fancy, than the burden of supporting five paupers
or more to every hundred inhabitants, as in England and Scotland.

In 1888, Bismarck made a famous speech in the Reichstag to show the
necessity of Prussia's being armed. He had no immediate fears of Russia,
he said; he professed to believe that she would keep peace with Germany.
But he spoke of numerous distinct crises within forty years, when
Prussia was on the verge of being drawn into a general European war,
which diplomacy fortunately averted, and such as now must be warded off
by being too strong for attack. He mentioned the Crimean war in 1853,
the Italian war in 1858, the Polish rebellion in 1863, the
Schleswig-Holstein embroilment, which so nearly set all Europe by the
ears, the Austro-Prussian war of 1866, the Luxemburg dispute in 1867,
the Franco-German war of 1870, the Balkan war of 1877, the various
aspects of the Eastern Question, changes of government in France,
etc.,--each of which in its time threatened the great "coalition war,"
which Germany had thus far been kept out of, but which Bismarck wished
to provide against for the future.

"The long and the short of it is," said he, "that we must be as strong
as we possibly can be in these days. We have the capability of being
stronger than any other nation of equal population in the world, and it
would be a crime if we did not use this capability. We must make still
greater exertions than other Powers for the same ends, on account of our
geographical position. We lie in the midst of Europe. We have at least
three sides open to attack. God has placed on one side of us the
French,--a most warlike and restless nation,--and he has allowed the
fighting tendencies of Russia to become great; so we are forced into
measures which perhaps we would not otherwise make. And the very
strength for which we strive shows that we are inclined to peace; for
with such a powerful machine as we wish to make the German army, no one
would undertake to attack us. We Germans fear God, but nothing else in
the world; and it is the fear of God which causes us to love and
cherish peace."

Such was the avowed policy of Bismarck,--and I believe in his
sincerity,--to foster friendly relations with other nations, and to
maintain peace for the interests of humanity as well as for Germany,
which can be secured only by preparing for war, and with such an array
of forces as to secure victory. It was not with foreign Powers that he
had the greatest difficulty, but to manage the turbulent elements of
internal hostilities and jealousies, and oppose the anarchic forces of
doctrinaires, visionary dreamers, clerical aggressors, and socialistic
incendiaries,--foes alike of a stable government and of
ultimate progress.

In the management of the internal affairs of the empire he cannot be
said to have been as successful as was Cavour in Italy. He was not in
harmony with the spirit of the age, nor was he wise. His persistent
opposition to the freedom of the Press was as great an error as his
persecution of the Catholics; and his insatiable love of power, grasping
all the great offices of State, was a serious offence in the eyes of a
jealous master, the present emperor, whom he did not take sufficient
pains to conciliate. The greatness of Bismarck was not as administrator
of an empire, but rather as the creator of an empire, and which he
raised to greatness by diplomatic skill. His distinguishable excellence
was in the management of foreign affairs; and in this power he has never
been surpassed by any foreign minister.

Contrary to all calculations, this great proud man who has ruled Germany
with so firm a hand for thirty years, and whose services have been
unparalleled in the history of statesmen, was not too high to fall. But
he fell because a young, inexperienced, and ambitious sovereign,--apt
pupil of his own in the divine right of monarchs to govern, and yet
seemingly inspired by a keen sensitiveness to his people's wants and the
spirit of the age,--could not endure his commanding ascendency and
haughty dictation, and accepted his resignation offered in a moment of
pique. He fell even as Wolsey fell before Henry VIII.,--too great a man
for a subject, yet always loyal to the principles of legitimacy and the
will of his sovereign. But he retired at the age of seventy-five, with
princely estates, unexampled honors, and the admiration and gratitude
of his countrymen; with the consciousness of having elevated them to the
proudest position in continental Europe. The aged Emperor William I.
died in 1888, full of years and of honors. His son the Emperor Frederick
died a few months later, leaving a deep respect and a genuine sorrow.
The grandson, the present Emperor William II., has been called "a modern
man, notwithstanding certain proclivities which still adhere to him,
like pieces of the shell of an egg from which the bird has issued." He
is yet an unsolved problem, but may be regarded not without hope for a
wise, strong, and useful reign.

The builder of his country's greatness, however, was too deeply
enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen to remain in shadow. After
more than three years of retirement, Bismarck received from the young
emperor on January 26,1894, an invitation to visit the imperial palace
in Berlin. His journey and reception in the capital were the occasion of
tumultuous public rejoicings, and when the emperor met him, the
reconciliation was complete. The time-worn veteran did not again assume
office, but he was the frequent recipient of appreciative mention by the
kaiser in public rescripts and speeches, and on his seventy-ninth
birthday, April 1,1894, he received from the emperor a greeting by
letter and a steel cuirass, "as a symbol of the German gratitude." On
the same day the castle at Friederichsruh was filled with rare and
costly presents from all over Germany, and "Bismarck banquets" were held
in all the principal cities. It was well that before this grand figure
passed away forever "the German gratitude" to him should have found
expression again, especially from the sovereign who owed to the great
chancellor his own peculiar eminence in the earth.

As for Prince Bismarck, with all his faults,--and no man is perfect,--I
love and honor this courageous giant, who has, under such vexatious
opposition, secured the glory of the Prussian monarchy and the unity of
Germany; who has been conscientious in the discharge of his duties as he
has understood them, in the fear of God,--a modern Cromwell in another
cause, whose fame will increase with the advancing ages.[3]

[Footnote 3: Bismarck died July 30, 1898, mourned by his nation, his
obsequies honored by the Emperor.]


Professor Seeley's Life of Stein, Hezekiel's Biography of Bismarck, and
the Life of Prince Bismarck by Charles Lowe, are the books to which I am
most indebted for the compilation of this chapter. But one may
profitably read the various histories of the Franco-Prussian war, the
Life of Prince Hardenberg, the Life of Moltke, the Life of Scharnhorst,
and the Life of William von Humboldt. An excellent abridgment of German
History, during this century, is furnished by Professor Müller. The
Speech of Prince Bismarck in the German Reichstag, February, 1888, I
have found very instructive and interesting,--a sort of resume of his
own political life.




It may seem presumptuous for me at the present time to write on
Gladstone, whose public life presents so many sides, concerning which
there is anything but unanimity of opinion,--a man still in full life,
and likely to remain so for years to come;[4] a giant, so strong
intellectually and physically as to exercise, without office, a
prodigious influence in national affairs by the sole force of genius and
character combined. But how can I present the statesmen of the
nineteenth century without including him,--the Nestor among political
personages, who for forty years has taken an important part in the
government of England?

[Footnote 4: This was written by Dr. Lord in 1891. Gladstone died in

This remarkable man, like Canning, Peel, and Macaulay, was precocious in
his attainments at school and college,--especially at Oxford, which has
produced more than her share of the great men who have controlled
thought and action in England during the period since 1820. But
precocity is not always the presage of future greatness. There are more
remarkable boys than remarkable men. In England, college honors may have
more influence in advancing the fortunes of a young man than in this
country; but I seldom have known valedictorians who have come up to
popular expectations; and most of them, though always respectable, have
remained in comparative obscurity.

Like the statesmen to whom I have alluded, Gladstone sprang from the
middle ranks, although his father, a princely Liverpool merchant, of
Scotch descent, became a baronet by force of his wealth, character, and
influence. Seeing the extraordinary talents of his third son,--William
Ewart,--Sir John Gladstone spared neither pains nor money on his
education, sending him to Eton in 1821, at the age of twelve, where he
remained till 1827, learning chiefly Latin and Greek. Here he was the
companion and friend of many men who afterward became powerful forces in
English life,--political, literary, and ecclesiastical. At the age of
seventeen we find him writing letters to Arthur Hallam on politics and
literature: and his old schoolfellows testify to his great influence
among them for purity, humanity, and nobility of character, while he was
noted for his aptness in letters and skill in debate. In 1827 the boy
was intrusted to the care of Dr. Turner,--afterward bishop of
Calcutta,--under whom he learned something besides Latin and Greek,
perhaps indirectly, in the way of ethics and theology, and other things
which go to the formation of character. At the age of twenty he entered
Christ Church at Oxford--the most aristocratic of colleges--with more
attainments than most scholars reach at thirty, and was graduated in
1831 "double-first class," distinguished not only for his scholarship
but for his power of debate in the Union Society; throwing in his lot
with Tories and High Churchmen, who, as he afterward confesses, "did not
set a due value on the imperishable and inestimable principles of human
liberty." With strong religious tendencies and convictions, he
contemplated taking orders in the Church; but his father saw things
differently,--and thus, with academic prejudices which most graduates
have to unlearn, he went abroad in 1832 to complete the education of an
English gentleman, spending most of his time in Italy and Sicily, those
eternally interesting countries to the scholar and the artist, whose
wonders can scarcely be exaggerated,--affording a perpetual charm and
study if one can ignore popular degradation, superstition, unthrift, and
indifference to material and moral progress. He who enjoys Italy must
live in the past, or in the realm of art, or in the sanctuaries where
priests hide themselves from the light of what is most valuable in
civilization and most ennobling in human consciousness.

Mr. Gladstone returned to England in the most interesting and exciting
period of her political history since the days of Cromwell,--soon after
the great Reform Bill had been passed, which changed the principle of
representation in Parliament, and opened the way for other necessary
reforms. His personal _éclat_ and his powerful friends gave him an
almost immediate entrance into the House of Commons as member for
Newark. The electors knew but little about him; they only knew that he
was supported by the Duke of Newcastle and preponderating Tory
interests, and were carried away by his youthful eloquence--those
silvery tones which nature gave--and that strange fascination which
comes from magnetic powers. The ancients said that the poet is born and
the orator is made. It appears to me that a man stands but little chance
of oratorical triumphs who is not gifted by nature with a musical voice
and a sympathetic electrical force which no effort can acquire.

On the 29th of January, 1833, at the age of twenty-four, Gladstone
entered upon his memorable parliamentary career, during the ministry of
Lord Grey; and his maiden speech--fluent, modest, and earnest--was in
the course of the debate on the proposed abolition of slavery in the
British colonies. It was in reply to an attack made upon the management
of his father's estates in the treatment of slaves in Demerara. He
deprecated cruelty and slavery alike, but maintained that emancipation
should be gradual and after due preparation; and, insisting also that
slaves were private property, he demanded that the interests of planters
should be duly regarded if emancipation should take place. This was in
accordance with justice as viewed by enlightened Englishmen generally.
Negro emancipation was soon after decreed. All negroes born after August
1,1834, as well as those then six years of age were to be free; and the
remainder were, after a kind of apprenticeship of six years, to be set
at liberty. The sum of £20,000,000 was provided by law as a compensation
to the slave-owners,--one of the noblest acts which Parliament ever
passed, and one of which the English nation has never ceased to boast.

Among other measures to which the reform Parliament gave its attention
in 1833 was that relating to the temporalities of the Irish Church, by
which the number of bishops was reduced from twenty-two to twelve, with
a corresponding reduction of their salaries. An annual tax was also
imposed on all livings above £300, to be appropriated to the
augmentation of small benefices. Mr. Gladstone was too conservative to
approve of this measure, and he made a speech against it.

In 1834 the reform ministry went out of power, having failed to carry
everything before them as they had anticipated, and not having produced
that general prosperity which they had promised. The people were still
discontented, trade still languished, and pauperism increased rather
than diminished.

Under the new Tory ministry, headed by Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Gladstone
became a junior lord of the Treasury. His great abilities were already
recognized, and the premier wanted his services, as Pitt wanted those of
Canning before he was known to fame. Shortly after Parliament assembled,
in February, 1835, Mr. Gladstone was made under-secretary for the
Colonies,--a very young man for such an office. But the Tory ministry
was short-lived, and the Whigs soon returned to power under Lord
Melbourne. During this administration, until the death of William IV. in
1837, there was no display of power or eloquence in Parliament by the
member for Newark of sufficient importance to be here noted, except
perhaps his opposition to a bill for the re-arrangement of church-rates.
As a Conservative and a High Churchman, Gladstone stood aloof from those
who would lay unhallowed hands on the sacred ark of ecclesiasticism. And
here, at least, he has always been consistent with himself. From first
to last he has been the zealous defender and admirer of the English
Church and one of its devoutest members, taking the deepest interest in
everything which concerns its doctrines, its ritual, and its connection
with the State,--at times apparently forgetting politics to come to its
support, in essays which show a marvellous knowledge of both theology
and ecclesiastical history. We cannot help thinking that he would have
reached the highest dignities as a clergyman, and perhaps have been even
more famous as a bishop than as a statesman.

In the Parliament which assembled after Queen Victoria's accession to
the throne, in 1837, the voice of Gladstone was heard in nearly every
important discussion; but the speech which most prominently brought him
into public notice and gave him high rank as a parliamentary orator was
that in 1838, in reference to West India emancipation. The evils of the
negro apprenticeship system, which was to expire in 1840, had been laid
before the House of Lords by the ex-chancellor, Brougham, with his usual
fierceness and probable exaggeration; and when the subject came up for
discussion in the House of Commons Gladstone opposed immediate
abolition, which Lord Brougham had advocated, showing by a great array
of facts that the relation between masters and negroes was generally
much better than it had been represented. But he was on the unpopular
side of the question, and his speech excited admiration without
producing conviction,--successful only as a vigorous argument and a
brilliant oratorical display. The apprenticeship was cut short, and
immediate abolition of slavery decreed.

At that time, Gladstone's "appearance and manners were much in his
favor. His countenance was mild and pleasant; his eyes were clear and
quick; his eyebrows were dark and prominent; his gestures varied but not
violent; his jet black hair was parted from his crown to his brow;" his
voice was peculiarly musical, and his diction was elegant and easy,
without giving the appearance of previous elaboration. How far his
language and thoughts were premeditated I will not undertake to say.
Daniel Webster once declared that there was no such thing as _ex
tempore_ speaking,--a saying not altogether correct, but in the main
confirmed by many great orators who confess to laborious preparation for
their speech-making, and by the fact that many of our famous
after-dinner speakers have been known to send their speeches to the
Press before they were delivered. The case of Demosthenes would seem to
indicate the necessity of the most careful study and preparation in
order to make a truly great speech, however gifted an orator may be; and
those who, like the late Henry Ward Beecher, have astonished their
hearers by their ready utterances have generally mastered certain lines
of fact and principles of knowledge which they have at command, and
which, with native power and art of expression, they present in fresh
forms and new combinations. They do not so much add new stores of fact
to the kaleidoscope of oratory,--they place the familiar ones in new
positions, and produce new pictures _ad infinitum_. Sometimes a genius,
urged by a great impulse, may dash out in an untried course of thought;
but this is not always a safe venture,--the next effort of the kind may
prove a failure. No man can be sure of himself or his ground without
previous and patient labor, except in reply to an antagonist and when
familiar with his subject. That was the power of Fox and Pitt. What gave
charm to the speeches of Peel and Gladstone in their prime was the new
matter they introduced before debate began; and this was the result of
laborious study. To attack such matter with wit and sarcasm is one
thing; to originate it is quite another. Anybody can criticise the most
beautiful picture or the grandest structure, but to paint the one or
erect the other,--_hic labor, hoc opus est_. One of the grandest
speeches ever made, for freshness and force, was Daniel Webster's reply
to Hayne; but the peroration was written and committed to memory, while
the substance of it had been in his thoughts for half a winter, and his
mind was familiar with the general subject. The great orator is
necessarily an artist as much as Pascal was in his _Pensées_; and his
fame will rest perhaps more on his art than on his matter,--since the
art is inimitable and peculiar, while the matter is subject to the
conditions of future, unknown, progressive knowledge. Probably the most
effective speech of modern times was the short address of Abraham
Lincoln at Gettysburg; but this was simply the expression of the
gathered forces of his whole political life.

In the month of July, 1837, Mr. Gladstone was married to Miss Catherine
Glyn, daughter of Sir Stephen Richard Glyn, of Hawarden Castle, in
Flintshire, Wales,--a marriage which proved eminently happy. Eight
children have been the result of this union, of whom but one has died;
all the others have "turned out well," as the saying is, though no one
has reached distinguished eminence. It would seem that Mr. Gladstone,
occupying for forty years so superb a social and public station, has not
been ambitious for the worldly advancement of his children, nor has he
been stained by nepotism in pushing on their fortunes. The eldest son
was a member of Parliament; the second became a clergyman; and the
eldest daughter married a clergyman in a prominent position as
headmaster of Wellington College.

It would be difficult to say when the welfare of the Church and the
triumph of theological truth have not received a great share of Mr.
Gladstone's thoughts and labors. At an early period of his parliamentary
career he wrote an elaborate treatise on the "State in its relation to
the Church." It is said that Sir Robert. Peel threw the book down on the
floor, exclaiming that it was a pity so able a man should jeopardize his
political future by writing such trash; but it was of sufficient
importance to furnish Macaulay a subject for one of his most careful
essays, in which however, though respectful in tone,--patronizing rather
than eulogistic,--he showed but little sympathy with the author. He
pointed out many defects which the critical and religious world has
sustained. In the admirable article which Mr. Gladstone wrote on Lord
Macaulay himself for one of the principal Reviews not many years ago, he
paid back in courteous language, and even under the conventional form of
panegyric, in which one great man naturally speaks of another, a still
more searching and trenchant criticism on the writings of the eminent
historian. Gladstone shows, and shows clearly and conclusively, the
utter inability of Macaulay to grasp subjects of a spiritual and
subjective character, especially exhibited in his notice of the
philosophy of Bacon. He shows that this historian excels only in
painting external events and the outward acts and peculiarities of the
great characters of history,--and even then only with strong prejudices
and considerable exaggerations, however careful he is in sustaining his
position by recorded facts, in which he never makes an error. To the
subjective mind of Gladstone, with his interest in theological subjects,
Macaulay was neither profound nor accurate in his treatment of
philosophical and psychological questions, for which indeed he had but
little taste. Such men as Pascal, Leibnitz, Calvin, Locke, he lets alone
to discuss the great actors in political history, like Warren Hastings,
Pitt, Harley; but in his painting of such characters he stands
pre-eminent over all modern writers. Gladstone does justice to
Macaulay's vast learning, his transcendent memory, and his matchless
rhetoric,--making the heaviest subjects glow with life and power,
effecting compositions which will live for style alone, for which in
some respects he is unapproachable.

Indeed, I cannot conceive of two great contemporary statesmen more
unlike in their mental structure and more antagonistic in their general
views than Gladstone and Macaulay, and unlike also in their style. The
treatise on State and Church, on which Gladstone exhibits so much
learning, to me is heavy, vague, hazy, and hard to read. The subject,
however, has but little interest to an American, and is doubtless much
more highly appreciated by English students, especially those of the
great universities, whom it more directly concerns. It is the argument
of a young Oxford scholar for the maintenance of a Church establishment;
is full of ecclesiastical lore, assuming that one of the chief ends of
government is the propagation of religious truth,--a ground utterly
untenable according to the universal opinion of people in this country,
whether churchmen or laymen, Catholic or Protestant, Conservative
or liberal.

On the fall of the Whig government in 1841, succeeded by that of Sir
Robert Peel, Mr. Gladstone was appointed vice-president of the Board of
Trade and master of the Mint, and naturally became more prominent as a
parliamentary debater,--not yet a parliamentary leader. But he was one
of the most efficient of the premier's lieutenants, a tried and faithful
follower, a disciple, indeed,--as was Peel himself of Canning, and
Canning of Pitt. He addressed the House in all the important
debates,--on railways, on agricultural interests, on the abolition of
the corn laws, on the Dissenters' Chapel Bills, on sugar duties,--a
conservative of conservatives, yet showing his devotion to the cause of
justice in everything except justice to the Catholics in Ireland. He was
opposed to the grant to Maynooth College, and in consequence resigned
his office when the decision of the government was made known,--a rare
act of that conscientiousness for which from first to last he has been
pre-eminently distinguished in all political as well as religious
matters. His resignation of office left him free to express his views;
and he disclaimed, in the name of law, the constitution, and the
history of the country, the voting of money to restore and strengthen
the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland. In deference to Sir Robert Peel
and the general cause of education his opposition was not bitter or
persistent; and the progressive views which have always marked his
career led him to support the premier in his repeal of the corn laws, he
having been, like his chief, converted to the free-trade doctrines of
Cobden. But the retirement of such prominent men as the Duke of
Buccleuch and Lord Stanley (of Alderley) from his ministry, as
protectionists, led to its breaking up in 1846 and an attempt to form a
new one under Lord John Russell, which failed; and Sir Robert Peel
resumed direction of a government pledged to repeal the corn laws of
1815. As the Duke of Newcastle was a zealous protectionist, under whose
influence Mr. Gladstone had been elected member of Parliament, the
latter now resigned his seat as member for Newark, and consequently
remained without a seat in that memorable session of 1846 which repealed
the corn laws.

The ministry of Sir Robert Peel, though successful in passing the most
important bill since that of Parliamentary reform in 1832, was doomed;
as we have already noted in the Lecture on that great leader, it fell on
the Irish question, and Lord John Russell became the head of the
government. In the meantime, Mr. Gladstone was chosen to represent the
University of Oxford in Parliament,--one of the most distinguished
honors which he ever received, and which he duly prized. As the champion
of the English Church represented by the University, and as one of its
greatest scholars, he richly deserved the coveted prize.

On the accidental death of Sir Robert Peel in 1850 the conservative
party became disintegrated, and Mr. Gladstone held himself aloof both
from Whigs and Tories, learning wisdom from Sir James Graham (one of the
best educated and most accomplished statesman of the day), and devoting
himself to the study of parliamentary tactics, and of all great
political questions. It was then that in the interval of public business
he again visited Italy, in the winter of 1850-51; this time not for mere
amusement and recreation, but for the health of a beloved daughter.
While in Naples he was led to examine its prisons (with philanthropic
aim), and to study the general policy and condition of the Neapolitan
government. The result was his famous letters to Lord Aberdeen on the
awful despotism under which the kingdom of the Two Sicilies groaned,
where over twenty thousand political prisoners were incarcerated, and
one-half of the Deputies were driven into exile in defiance of all law;
where the prisons were dens of filth and horror, and all sorts of unjust
charges were fabricated in order to get rid of inconvenient persons. I
have read nothing from the pen of Mr. Gladstone superior in the way of
style to these letters,--earnest and straightforward, almost fierce in
their invective, reminding one in many respects of Brougham's defence of
Queen Caroline, but with a greater array of facts, so clearly and
forcibly put as not only to produce conviction but to kindle wrath. The
government of Naples had sworn to maintain a free constitution, but had
disgracefully and without compunction violated every one of its
conditions, and perpetrated cruelties and injustices which would have
appalled the judges of imperial Rome, and defended them by a casuistry
which surpassed in its insult to the human understanding that of the
priests of the Spanish Inquisition.

The indignation created by Gladstone's letters extended beyond England
to France and Germany, and probably had no slight influence in the final
overthrow of the King of Naples, whose government was the most unjust,
tyrannical, and cruel in Europe, and perhaps on the face of the globe.
Its chief evil was not in chaining suspected politicians of character
and rank to the vilest felons, and immuring them in underground cells
too filthy and horrible to be approached even by physicians, for months
and years before their mock-trials began, but in the utter perversion of
justice in the courts by judges who dared not go counter to the
dictation or even wishes of the executive government with its deadly and
unconquerable hatred of everything which looked like political liberty.
All these things and others Mr. Gladstone exposed with an eloquence
glowing and burning with righteous and fearless indignation.

The Neapolitan government attempted to make a denial of the terrible
charges; but the defence was feeble and inconclusive, and the statesman
who made the accusation was not convicted even of exaggeration, although
the heartless tyrant may have felt that he was no more guilty than other
monarchs bent on sustaining absolutism at any cost and under any plea in
the midst of atheists, assassins, and anarchists. It is said that Warren
Hastings, under the terrible invectives of Burke, felt himself to be the
greatest criminal in the world, even when he was conscious of having
rendered invaluable services to Great Britain, which the country in the
main acknowledged. In one sense, therefore, a statement may be
rhetorically exaggerated, even when the facts which support it are
incontrovertible, as the remorseless logic of Calvin leads to deductions
which no one fully believes,--the _decretum quidem horribile_, as Calvin
himself confessed. But is it easy to convict Mr. Gladstone of other
exaggeration than that naturally produced by uncommon ability to array
facts so as to produce conviction, which indeed is the talent of the
advocate rather than that of the judge?

The year 1848 was a period of agitation and revolution in every country
in Europe; and most governments, being unpopular, were compelled to
suppress riots and insurrections, and to maintain order under exceeding
difficulties. England was no exception; and public discontents had some
justification in the great deficiency in the national treasury, the
distress of Ireland, and the friction which new laws, however
beneficent, have to pass through.

About this time Mr. Disraeli was making himself prominent as an orator,
and as a foe to the administration. He was clever in nicknames and witty
expressions,--as when he dubbed the Blue Book of the Import Duties
Committee "the greatest work of imagination that the nineteenth century
had produced." Mr. Gladstone was no match for this great parliamentary
fencer in irony, in wit, in sarcasm, and in bold attacks; but even in a
House so fond of jokes as that of the Commons he commanded equal if not
greater attention by his luminous statements of fact and the earnest
solemnity of his manner. Benjamin Disraeli entered Parliament in 1837,
as a sort of democratic Tory, when the death of King William IV.
necessitated a general election. His maiden speech as member for
Maidstone was a failure; not because he could not speak well, but
because a certain set determined to crush him, and made such a noise
that he was obliged to sit down, declaring in a loud voice that the time
would come when they should hear him. He was already famous for his
novels, and for a remarkable command of language; the pet of
aristocratic women, and admired generally for his wit and brilliant
conversation, although he provoked criticism for the vulgar finery of
his dress and the affectation of his manners. Already he was intimate
with Lord Lyndhurst, a lion in the highest aristocratic circles, and
universally conceded to be a man of genius. Why should not such a man,
at the age of thirty-three, aspire to a seat in Parliament? His future
rival, Gladstone, though five years his junior, had already been in
Parliament three years, and was distinguished as an orator before
Disraeli had a chance to enter the House of Commons as a supporter of
Sir Robert Peel; but his extraordinary power was not felt until he
attacked his master on the repeal of the corn laws, nor was he the rival
of Mr. Gladstone until the Tory party was disintegrated and broken into
sections. In 1847, however, he became the acknowledged leader of the
most conservative section,--the party of protection,--while Gladstone
headed the followers of Peel.

On the disruption of the Whig administration in 1851 under Lord John
Russell, who was not strong enough for such unsettled times, Lord Derby
became premier, and Disraeli took office under him as chancellor of the
exchequer,--a post which he held for only a short time, the "coalition
cabinet" under Lord Aberdeen having succeeded that of Lord Derby,
keeping office during the Crimean war, and leaving the Tories out in the
cold until 1858.

Of this famous coalition ministry Mr. Gladstone naturally became
chancellor of the exchequer, having exhibited remarkable financial
ability in demolishing the arguments of Disraeli when he introduced his
budget as chancellor in 1851; but although the rivalry between the two
great men began about this time, neither of them had reached the lofty
position which they were destined to attain. They both held subordinate
posts. The prime minister was the Earl of Aberdeen; but Lord Palmerston
was the commanding genius of the cabinet, controlling as foreign
minister the diplomacy of the country in stormy times. He was
experienced, versatile, liberal, popular, and ready in debate. His
foreign policy was vigorous and aggressive, raising England in the
estimation of foreigners, and making her the most formidable Power in
Europe. His diplomatic and administrative talents were equally
remarkable, so that he held office of some kind in every successive
administration but one for fifty years. He was secretary-at-war as far
back as the contest with Napoleon, and foreign secretary in 1830 during
the administration of Lord Grey. His official life may almost be said to
have been passed in the Foreign Office; he was acquainted with all its
details, and as indefatigable in business as he was witty in society, to
the pleasures of which he was unusually devoted. He checked the ambition
of France in 1840 on the Eastern question, and brought about the cordial
alliance between France and England in the Crimean war.

Mr. Gladstone did not agree with Lord Palmerston in reference to the
Crimean war. Like Lord Aberdeen, his policy was pacific, avoiding war
except in cases of urgent necessity; but in this matter he was not only
in the minority in the cabinet but not on the popular side,--the Press
and the people and the Commons being clamorous for war. As already
shown, it was one of the most unsatisfactory wars in English
history,--conducted to a successful close, indeed, but with an immense
expenditure of blood and money, and with such an amount of blundering in
management as to bring disgrace rather than glory on the government and
the country. But it was not for Mr. Gladstone to take a conspicuous part
in the management of that unfortunate war. His business was with the
finances,--to raise money for the public exigencies; and in this
business he never had a superior. He not only selected with admirable
wisdom the articles to be taxed, but in his budgets he made the
minutest details interesting. He infused eloquence into figures; his
audiences would listen to his financial statements for five continuous
hours without wearying. But his greatest triumph as finance minister was
in making the country accept without grumbling an enormous income tax
because he made plain its necessity.

The mistakes of the coalition ministry in the management of the war led
to its dissolution, and Lord Palmerston became prime minister, Lord
Clarendon foreign minister, while Mr. Gladstone retained his post as
chancellor of the exchequer, yet only for a short time. On the
appointment of a committee to examine into the conduct of the war he
resigned his post, and was succeeded by Sir G.C. Lewis. At this crisis
the Emperor Nicholas of Russia died, and the cabinet, with a large
preponderance of Whigs, having everything their own way, determined to
prosecute the war to the bitter end.

Yet the great services and abilities of Gladstone as finance minister
were everywhere conceded, not only for his skill in figures but for his
wisdom in selecting and imposing duties that were acceptable to the
country and did not press heavily upon the poor, thus following out the
policy which Sir Robert Peel bequeathed. Ever since, this has been the
aim as well as the duty of a chancellor of the exchequer whatever party
has been in the ascendent.

From this time onward Mr. Gladstone was a pronounced free-trader of the
Manchester school. His conscientious studies into the mutual relations
of taxation, production, and commerce had convinced him that national
prosperity lay along the line of freedom of endeavor. He had taken a
great departure from the principles he had originally advocated, which
of course provoked a bitter opposition from his former friends and
allies. He was no longer the standard-bearer of the conservative party,
but swung more and more by degrees from his old policy as light dawned
upon his mind and experience taught him wisdom. Perhaps the most
remarkable characteristics of this man,--opinionated and strong-headed
as he undoubtedly is,--are to be found in the receptive quality of his
mind, by which he is open to new ideas, and in the steady courage with
which he affirms and stands by his convictions when once he has by
reasoning arrived at them. It took thirteen years of parliamentary
strife before the Peelites, whom he led, were finally incorporated with
the Liberal party.

Mr. Gladstone, now without office, became what is called an independent
member of the House, yet active in watching public interests, giving his
vote and influence to measures which he considered would be most
beneficial to the country irrespective of party. Meantime, the continued
mistakes of the war and the financial burdens incident to a conflict of
such magnitude had gradually produced disaffection with the government
of which Lord Palmerston was the head. The ministry, defeated on an
unimportant matter, but one which showed the animus of the country, was
compelled to resign, and the Conservatives--no longer known by the
opprobrious nickname of Tories--came into power (1858) under the
premiership of Lord Derby, Disraeli becoming chancellor of the exchequer
and leader of his own party in the House of Commons. But this
administration also was short-lived, lasting only about a year; and in
June, 1859, a new coalition ministry was again formed under Lord
Palmerston, which continued seven years, Mr. Gladstone returning to his
old post as chancellor of the exchequer.

Mr. Gladstone was at this time fifty years of age. His political career
thus far, however useful and honorable, had not been extraordinary. Mr.
Pitt was prime minister at the age of twenty-eight. Fox, Canning, and
Castlereagh at forty were more famous than Gladstone. His political
promotion had not been as rapid as that of Lord John Russell or Lord
Palmerston or Sir Robert Peel. He was chiefly distinguished for the
eloquence of his speeches, the lucidity of his financial statements, and
the moral purity of his character; but he was not then pre-eminently
great, either for initiative genius or commanding influence. Aside from
politics, he was conceded to be an accomplished scholar and a learned
theologian,--distinguished for ecclesiastical lore rather than as an
original thinker. He had written no great book likely to be a standard
authority. As a writer he was inferior to Macaulay and Newman, nor had
he the judicial powers of Hallam. He could not be said to have occupied
more than one sphere, that of politics,--here unlike Thiers, Guizot, and
even Lyndhurst and Brougham.

In 1858, however, Gladstone appeared in a new light, and commanded
immediate attention by the publication of his "Studies on Homer and the
Homeric Age,"--a remarkable work in three large octavo volumes, which
called into the controversial field of Greek history a host of critics,
like Mr. Freeman, who yet conceded to Mr. Gladstone wonderful classical
learning, and the more wonderful as he was preoccupied with affairs of
State, and without the supposed leisure for erudite studies. This
learned work entitled him to a high position in another sphere than that
of politics. Guizot wrote learned histories of modern political
movements, but he could not have written so able a treatise as
Gladstone's on the Homeric age. Some advanced German critics took
exceptions to the author's statements about early Greek history; yet it
cannot be questioned that he has thrown a bright if not a new light on
the actors of the siege of Troy and the age when they were supposed to
live. The illustrious author is no agnostic. It is not for want of
knowledge that in some things he is not up to the times, but for a
conservative bent of mind which leads him to distrust destructive
criticism. Gladstone has been content to present the ancient world as
revealed in the Homeric poems, whether Homer lived less than a hundred
years from the heroic deeds described with such inimitable charm, or
whether he did not live at all. He wrote the book not merely to amuse
his leisure hours, but to incite students to a closer study of the works
attributed to him who alone is enrolled with the two other men now
regarded as the greatest of immortal poets. Gladstone's admiration for
Homer is as unbounded as that of German scholars for Dante and
Shakspeare. It is hardly to be supposed that this work on the heroic age
was written during the author's retirement from office; it was probably
the result of his life-studies on Grecian literature, which he pursued
with unusual and genuine enthusiasm. Who among American statesmen or
even scholars are competent to such an undertaking?

Two years after this, in 1860, Mr. Gladstone was elected Lord Rector of
the University of Edinburgh in recognition of his scholarly
attainments, and delivered a notable inaugural address on the work of

The chief duty of Mr. Gladstone during his seven years connection with
the new coalition party, headed by Lord Palmerston, was to prepare his
annual budget, or financial statement, with a proposed scheme of
taxation, as chancellor of the exchequer. During these years his fame as
a finance minister was confirmed. As such no minister ever equalled him,
except perhaps Sir Robert Peel. My limits will not permit me to go into
a minute detail of the taxes he increased and those he reduced. The end
he proposed in general was to remove such as were oppressive on the
middle and lower classes, and to develop the industrial resources of the
nation,--to make it richer and more prosperous, while it felt the burden
of supplying needful moneys for the government less onerous. Nor would
it be interesting to Americans to go into those statistics. I wonder
even why they were so interesting to the English people. One would
naturally think that it was of little consequence whether duties on some
one commodity were reduced, or those on another were increased, so long
as the deficit in the national income had to be raised somehow, whether
by direct or indirect taxation; but the interest generally felt in these
matters was intense, both inside and outside Parliament. I can
understand why the paper-makers should object when it was proposed to
remove the last protective duty, and why the publicans should wax
indignant if an additional tax were imposed on hops; but I cannot
understand why every member of the House of Commons should be present
when the opening speech on the budget was to be made by the chancellor,
why the intensest excitement should prevail, why members should sit for
five hours enraptured to hear financial details presented, why every
seat in the galleries should be taken by distinguished visitors, and all
the journals the next day should be filled with panegyrics or
detractions as to the minister's ability or wisdom.

It would seem that no questions concerning war or peace, or the
extension of the suffrage, or the removal of great moral evils, or
promised boons in education, or Church disestablishment, or threatened
dangers to the State,--questions touching the very life of the
nation,--received so much attention or excited so great interest as
those which affected the small burdens which the people had to bear; not
the burden of taxation itself, but how that should be distributed. I
will not say that the English are "a nation of shopkeepers;" but I do
say that comparatively small matters occupy the thoughts of men in every
country outside the routine of ordinary duties, and form the staple of
ordinary conversation,--among pedants, the difference between _ac_ and
_et_; among aristocrats, the investigation of pedigrees; in society,
the comparative merits of horses, the movements of well-known persons,
the speed of ocean steamers, boat-races, the dresses of ladies of
fashion, football contests, the last novel, weddings, receptions, the
trials of housekeepers, the claims of rival singers, the gestures and
declamation of favorite play-actors, the platitudes of popular
preachers, the rise and fall of stocks, murders in bar-rooms, robberies
in stores, accidental fires in distant localities,--these and other
innumerable forms of gossip, collected by newspapers and retailed in
drawing-rooms, which have no important bearing on human life or national
welfare or immortal destiny. It is not that the elaborate presentations
of financial details for which Mr. Gladstone was so justly famous were
without importance. I only wonder why they should have had such
overwhelming interest to English legislators and the English public; and
why his statistics should have given him claims to transcendent oratory
and the profoundest statesmanship,--for it is undeniable that his
financial speeches brought him more fame and importance in the House of
Commons than all the others he made during those seven years of
parliamentary gladiatorship. One of these triumphantly carried through
Parliament a commercial reciprocity treaty with France, arranged by Mr.
Cobden; and another, scarcely less notable, repealed the duty on
paper,--a measure of great importance for the facilitation of making
books and cheapening newspapers, but both of which were desperately
opposed by the monopolists and manufacturers.

Some of Mr. Gladstone's other speeches stand on higher ground and are of
permanent value; they will live for the lofty sentiments and the
comprehensive knowledge which marked them,--appealing to the highest
intellect as well as to the hearts of those common people of whom all
nations are chiefly composed. Among these might be mentioned those which
related to Italian affairs, sympathizing with the struggle which the
Italians were making to secure constitutional liberty and the unity of
their nation,--severe on the despotism of that miserable king of Naples,
Francis II., whom Garibaldi had overthrown with a handful of men. Mr.
Gladstone, ever since his last visit to Naples, had abominated the
outrages which its government had perpetrated on a gallant and aspiring
people, and warmly supported them by his eloquence. In the same friendly
spirit, in 1858, he advocated in Parliament a free constitution for the
Ionian islands, then under British rule; and when sent thither as
British commissioner he addressed the Senate of those islands, at Corfu,
in the Italian language. The islands were by their own desire finally
ceded to Greece, whose prosperity as an independent and united nation
Mr. Gladstone ever had at heart. The land of Homer to him was
hallowed ground.

On one subject Mr. Gladstone made a great mistake, which he afterward
squarely acknowledged,--and this was in reference to the American civil
war. In 1862, while chancellor of the exchequer, he made a speech at
Newcastle in which he expressed his conviction that Jefferson Davis had
"already succeeded in making the Southern States of America [which were
in revolt] an independent nation." This opinion caused a great sensation
in both England and the United States, and alienated many
friends,--especially as Earl Russell, the minister of foreign affairs,
had refused to recognize the Confederate States. It was the indiscretion
of the chancellor of the exchequer which disturbed some of his warmest
supporters in England; but in America the pain arose from the fact that
so great a man had expressed such an opinion,--a man, moreover, for whom
America had then and still has the greatest admiration and reverence. It
was feared that his sympathies, like those of a great majority of the
upper classes in England at the time, were with the South rather than
the North, and chiefly because the English manufacturers had to pay
twenty shillings instead of eight-pence a pound for cotton. It was
natural for a manufacturing country to feel this injury to its
interests; but it was not magnanimous in view of the tremendous issues
which were at stake, and it was inconsistent with the sacrifices which
England had nobly made in the emancipation of her own slaves in the West
Indies. For England to give her moral support to the revolted Southern
States, founding their Confederacy upon the baneful principle of human
slavery, was a matter of grave lamentation with patriots at the North,
to say nothing of the apparent English indifference to the superior
civilization of the free States and the great cause to which they were
devoted in a struggle of life and death. It even seemed to some that the
English aristocracy were hypocritical in their professions, and at heart
were hostile to the progress of liberty; that the nation as a whole
cared more for money than justice,--as seemingly illustrated by the war
with China to enforce the opium trade against the protest of the Chinese
government, pagan as it was.

Mr. Gladstone had now swung away from the Conservative party. In 1864 he
had vigorously supported a bill for enlarging the parliamentary
franchise by reducing the limit of required rental from £10 to £6,
declaring that the burden of proof rested on those who would exclude
forty-nine-fiftieths of the working-classes from the franchise. He also,
as chancellor of the exchequer, caused great excitement by admitting
the unsatisfactory condition of the Irish Church,--that is, the Church
of England among the Irish people; sustained by their taxes, but
ministering to only one-eighth or one-ninth of the population. These and
other similar evidences of his liberal tendencies alienated his Oxford
constituency, the last people in the realm to adopt liberal measures;
and on the proroguement of Parliament in 1865, and the new election
which followed, he was defeated as member for the University, although
he was a High Churchman and the pride of the University, devoted to its
interests heart and soul. It is a proof of the exceeding bitterness of
political parties that such ingratitude should have been shown to one of
the greatest scholars that Oxford has produced for a century. It was in
this year also that on completing his term as Rector of the University
of Edinburgh he retired with a notable address on the "Place of Ancient
Greece in the Providential Order;" thus anew emphasizing his scholarly
equipment as a son of Oxford.

The Liberal party, however, were generally glad of Gladstone's defeat,
since it would detach him from the University. He now belonged more
emphatically to the country, and was more free and unshackled to pursue
his great career, as Sir Robert Peel had been before him in similar
circumstances. Instead of representing a narrow-minded and bigoted set
of clergymen and scholars, he was chosen at once to represent quite a
different body,--even the liberal voters of South Lancashire, a
manufacturing district.

The death of Lord Palmerston at the age of eighty, October 17, 1865,
made Earl Russell prime minister, while Gladstone resumed under the new
government his post as chancellor of the exchequer, and now became
formally the leader of the Liberals in the House of Commons.

Irish questions in 1866 came prominently to the front, for the condition
of Ireland at that time was as alarming as it was deplorable, with
combined Fenianism and poverty and disaffection in every quarter. So
grave was the state of this unhappy country that the government felt
obliged to bring in a bill suspending the habeas corpus act, which the
chancellor of the exchequer eloquently supported. His conversion to
Liberal views was during this session seen in bringing in a measure for
the abolition of compulsory church-rates, in aid of Dissenters; but
before it could be carried through its various stages a change of
ministry had taken place on another issue, and the Conservatives again
came into power, with Lord Derby for prime minister and Disraeli for
chancellor of the exchequer and leader of his party in the House
of Commons.

This fall of the Liberal ministry was brought about by the Reform Bill,
which Lord Russell had prepared, and which was introduced by the
chancellor of the exchequer amid unparalleled excitement. Finance
measures lost their interest in the fierceness of the political combat.
It was not so important a measure as that of the reform of 1832 in its
political consequences, but it was of importance enough to enlist
absorbing interest throughout the kingdom; it would have added four
hundred thousand new voters. While it satisfied the Liberals, it was
regarded by the Conservatives as a dangerous concession, opening the
doors too widely to the people. Its most brilliant and effective
opponent was Mr. Lowe, whose oratory raised him at once to fame and
influence. Seldom has such eloquence been heard in the House of Commons,
and from all the leading debaters on both sides. Mr. Gladstone outdid
himself, but perhaps was a little too profuse with his Latin quotations.
The debate was continued for eight successive nights. The final division
was the largest ever known: the government found itself in a minority of
eleven, and consequently resigned. Lord Derby, as has been said, was
again prime minister.

The memorable rivalry between Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli was now
continued in deeper earnest, and never ceased so long as the latter
statesman was a member of the House of Commons, They were recognized to
be the heads of their respective parties,--two giants in debate; two
great parliamentary gladiators, on whom the eyes of the nation rested.
Mr. Gladstone was the more earnest, the more learned, and the more solid
in his blows. Mr. Disraeli was the more adroit, the more witty, and the
more brilliant in his thrusts. Both were equally experienced. The one
appealed to justice and truth; the other to the prejudices of the House
and the pride of a nation of classes. One was armed with a heavy dragoon
sword; the other with a light rapier, which he used with extraordinary
skill. Mr. G.W.E. Russell, in his recent "Life of Gladstone," quotes the
following passage from a letter of Lord Houghton, May, 1867:--

"I met Gladstone at breakfast. He seems quite awed with the diabolical
cleverness of Dizzy, 'who,' he says, 'is gradually driving all ideas of
political honor out of the House, and accustoming it to the most
revolting cynicism,' There is no doubt that a sense of humor has always
been conspicuously absent from Mr. Gladstone's character."

Sometimes one of these rival leaders was on the verge of victory and
sometimes the other, and both equally gained the applause of the
spectators. Two such combatants had not been seen since the days of Pitt
and Fox,--one, the champion of the people; the other, of the
aristocracy. What each said was read the next day by every family in the
land. Both were probably greatest in opposition, since more
unconstrained. Of the two, Disraeli was superior in the control of his
temper and in geniality of disposition, making members roar with
laughter by his off-hand vituperation and ingenuity in inventing
nicknames. Gladstone was superior in sustained reasoning, in lofty
sentiments, and in the music of his voice, accompanied by that solemnity
of manner which usually passes for profundity and the index of deep
convictions. As for rhetorical power, it would be difficult to say which
was the superior,--though the sentences of both were too long. It would
also be difficult to tell which of the two was the more ambitious and
more tenacious of office. Both, it is said, bade for popularity in the
measures they proposed. Both were politicians. There is, indeed, a great
difference between politicians and statesmen; but a man may be politic
without ceasing to be a lover of his country, like Lord Palmerston
himself; and a man may advocate large and comprehensive views of
statesmanship which are neither popular nor appreciated.

The new Conservative ministry was a short one. Coming into power on the
defeat of the Liberal reform bill introduced by Mr. Gladstone, the Tory
government recognized the popular demand on which that bill had been
based; and though Mr. Disraeli coolly introduced a reform bill of their
own which was really more radical than the Liberal bill had been, and
although at the hands of the opposition it was so modified that the Duke
of Buccleuch declared that the only word unaltered was the initial
"whereas," its passage was claimed as a great Conservative victory.
Shortly after this, the Earl of Derby retired on account of ill-health,
and was succeeded by Mr. Disraeli as premier; but the current of
Liberalism set in so strongly in the ensuing elections that he was
forced to resign in 1868, and Mr. Gladstone now for the first time
became prime minister.

This was the golden period of Gladstone's public services. During
Disraeli's short lease of power, Gladstone had carried the abolition of
compulsory church-rates, and had moved, with great eloquence, the
disestablishment of the English Church in Ireland. On the latter
question Parliament was dissolved, and an appeal made to the country;
and the triumphant success of the Liberals brought Mr. Gladstone into
power with the brightest prospects for the cause to which he was now
committed. He was fifty-nine years old before he reached the supreme
object of his ambition,--to rule England; but in accordance with law,
and in the interest of truth and justice. In England the strongest man
can usually, by persevering energy, reach the highest position to which
a subject may aspire. In the United States, political ambition is
defeated by rivalries and animosities. Practically the President reigns,
like absolute kings, "by the grace of God,"--as it would seem when so
many ordinary men, and even obscure, are elevated to the highest place,
and when these comparatively unknown men often develop when elected the
virtues and abilities of a Saul or a David, as in the cases of Lincoln
and Garfield.

So great was the popularity of Mr. Gladstone at this time, so profound
was the respect he inspired for his lofty character, his abilities, his
vast and varied learning, his unimpeachable integrity and conscientious
discharge of his duties, that for five years he was virtually dictator,
wielding more power than any premier since Pitt, if we except Sir Robert
Peel in his glory. He was not a dictator in the sense that Metternich or
Bismarck was,--not a grand vizier, the vicegerent of an absolute
monarch, controlling the foreign policy, the army, the police, and the
national expenditures. He could not send men to prison without a trial,
or interfere with the peaceful pursuits of obnoxious citizens; but he
could carry out any public measure he proposed affecting the general
interests, for Parliament was supreme, and his influence ruled the
Parliament. He was liable to disagreeable attacks from members of the
opposition, and could not silence them; he might fall before their
attacks; but while he had a great majority of members to back him,
ready to do his bidding, he stood on a proud pedestal and undoubtedly
enjoyed the sweets of power. He would not have been human if he had not.

Yet Mr. Gladstone carried his honors with dignity and discretion. He was
accessible to all who had claims upon his time; he was never rude or
insolent; he was gracious and polite to delegations; he was too
kind-hearted to snub anybody. No cares of office could keep him from
attending public worship; no popular amusements diverted him from his
duties; he was feared only as a father is feared. I can conceive that he
was sometimes intolerant of human infirmities; that no one dared to
obtrude familiarities or make unseemly jokes in his presence; that few
felt quite at ease in his company,--oppressed by his bearing, and awed
by his prodigious respectability and grave solemnity. Not that he was
arrogant and haughty, like a Roman cardinal or an Oxford Don; he was
simply dignified and undemonstrative, like a man absorbed with weighty
responsibilities. I doubt if he could unbend at the dinner-table like
Disraeli and Palmerston, or tell stories like Sydney Smith, or drink too
much wine with jolly companions, or forget for a moment the proper and
the conventional. I can see him sporting with children, or taking long
walks, or cutting down trees for exercise, or given to deep draughts of
old October when thirsty; but to see him with a long pipe, or dallying
with ladies, or giving vent to unseemly expletives, or retailing
scandals,--these and other disreputable follies are utterly
inconceivable of Mr. Gladstone. A very serious man may be an object of
veneration; but he is a constant rebuke to the weaknesses of our common
humanity,--a wet blanket upon frivolous festivities.

Let us now briefly glance at the work done by Gladstone during the five
years when in his first premiership he directed the public affairs of
England,--impatient of opposition, and sensitive to unjust aspersions,
yet too powerful to be resisted in the supreme confidence of his party.

The first thing of note he did was to complete the disestablishment of
the Irish Church,--an arduous task to any one lacking Mr. Gladstone's
extraordinary influence. Here he was at war with his former friends, and
with a large section of the Conservative party,--especially with
ecclesiastical dignitaries, who saw in this measure hostility to the
Church as well as a national sin. It was a dissolution of the union
between the Churches of England and Ireland; a divestment of the
temporalities which the Irish clergy had enjoyed; the abolition of all
ecclesiastical corporations and laws and courts in Ireland,--in short,
the sweeping away of the annuities which the beneficed clergy had
hitherto received out of the property of the Established Church, which
annuities were of the nature of freeholds. It was not proposed to
deprive the clergy of their income, so long as they discharged their
clerical duties; but that the title to their tithes should be vested in
commissioners, so that these church freeholds could not be bought and
sold by non-residents, and churches in decadence should be taken from
incumbents. The peerage rights of Irish bishops were also taken away. It
was not proposed to touch private endowments; and glebe-houses which had
become generally dilapidated were handed over to incumbents by their
paying a fair valuation. Not only did the measure sweep away the abuses
of the Establishment which had existed for centuries,--such as
endowments held by those who performed no duties, which they could
dispose of like other property,--but the _regium donum_ given to
Presbyterian ministers and the Maynooth Catholic College grant, which
together amounted to £70,000, were also withdrawn, although compensated
on the same principles as those which granted a settled stipend to the
actual incumbents of the disestablished churches.

By this measure, the withdrawal of tithes and land rents and other
properties amounted to sixteen millions; and after paying ministers and
actual incumbents their stipends of between seven or eight millions,
there would remain a surplus of seven or eight millions, with which Mr.
Gladstone proposed to endow lunatic and idiot asylums, schools for the
deaf, dumb, and blind, institutions for the training of nurses, for
infirmaries, and hospitals for the needy people of Ireland.

There can be no rational doubt that this reform was beneficent, and it
met the approval of the Liberal party, being supported with a grand
eloquence by John Bright, who had under this ministry for the first time
taken office,--as President of the Board of Trade; but it gave umbrage
to the Irish clergy as a matter of course, to the Presbyterians of
Ulster, to the Catholics as affecting Maynooth, and to the conservatives
of Oxford and Cambridge on general principles. It was a reform not
unlike that of Thomas Cromwell in the time of Henry VIII., when he
dissolved the monasteries, though not quite so violent as the
secularization of church property in France in the time of the
Revolution. It was a spoliation, in one sense, as well as a needed
reform,--a daring and bold measure, which such statesmen as Lords
Liverpool, Aberdeen, and Palmerston would have been slow to make, and
the weak points of which Disraeli was not slow to assail. To the radical
Dissenters, as led by Mr. Miall, it was a grateful measure, which would
open the door for future discussions on the disestablishment of the
English Church itself,--a logical contingency which the premier did not
seem to appreciate; for if the State had a right to take away the
temporalities of the Irish Church when they were abused, the State would
have an equal right to take away those of the English Church should they
hereafter turn out to be unnecessary, or become a scandal in the eyes of
the nation.

One would think that this disestablishment of the Irish Church would
have been the last reform which a strict churchman like Gladstone would
have made; certainly it was the last for a politic statesman to make,
for it brought forth fruit in the next general election. It is true that
the Irish Establishment had failed in every way, as Mr. Bright showed in
one of his eloquent speeches, and to remove it was patriotic. If Mr.
Gladstone had his eyes open, however, to its natural results as
affecting his own popularity, he deserves the credit of being the most
unselfish and lofty statesman that ever adorned British annals.

Having thus in 1869 removed one important grievance in the affairs of
Ireland, Mr. Gladstone soon proceeded to another, and in February, 1870,
brought forward, in a crowded House, his Irish Land Bill. The evil which
he had in view to cure was the insecurity of tenure, which resulted in
discouraging and paralyzing the industry of tenants, especially in the
matter of evictions for non-payment of rent, and the raising of rents on
land which had been improved by them. As they were liable at any time
to be turned out of their miserable huts, the rents had only doubled in
value in ninety years; whereas in England and Scotland, where there was
more security of tenure, rents had quadrupled. This insecurity and
uncertainty had resulted in a great increase of pauperism in Ireland,
and prevented any rise in wages, although there was increased expense of
living. The remedy proposed to alleviate in some respect the condition
of the Irish tenants was the extension of their leases to thirty-three
years, and the granting national assistance to such as desired to
purchase the lands they had previously cultivated, according to a scale
of prices to be determined by commissioners,--thus making improvements
the property of the tenants who had made them rather than of the
landlord, and encouraging the tenants by longer leases to make such
improvements. Mr. Gladstone's bill also extended to twelve months the
time for notices to quit, bearing a stamp duty of half-a-crown. This
measure on the part of the government was certainly a relief, as far as
it went, to the poor people of Ireland. It became law on August 1, 1870.

The next important measure of Mr. Gladstone was to abolish the custom of
buying and selling commissions in the army, which provoked bitter
opposition from the aristocracy. It was maintained by the government
that the whole system of purchase was unjust, and tended to destroy the
efficiency of the army by preventing the advancement of officers
according to merit. In no other country was such a mistake committed. It
is true that the Prussian and Austrian armies were commanded by officers
from the nobility; but these officers had not the unfair privilege of
jumping over one another's heads by buying promotion. The bill, though
it passed the Commons, was thrown out by the Lords, who wished to keep
up the aristocratic quality of army officers, among whom their younger
sons were enrolled. Mr. Gladstone cut the knot by advising her Majesty
to take the decisive step of cancelling the royal warrant under
which--and not by law--purchase had existed. This calling on the Queen
to do by virtue of her royal prerogative what could not be done by
ordinary legislation, though not unconstitutional, was unusual. True, a
privilege which royalty had granted, royalty could revoke; but in
removing this evil Mr. Gladstone still further alienated the army and
the aristocracy.

Among other measures which the premier carried for the public good, but
against bitter opposition, were the secret ballot, and the removal of
University Tests, by which all lay students of whatever religious creed
were admitted to the universities on equal terms. The establishment of
national and compulsory elementary education, although not emanating
from Mr. Gladstone, was also accomplished during his government.

It now began to be apparent that the policy of the prime minister was
reform wherever reform was needed. There was no telling what he would do
next. Had he been the prime minister of an absolute monarch he would
have been unfettered, and could have carried out any reform which his
royal master approved. But the English are conservative and slow to
change, no matter what party they belong to. It seemed to many that the
premier was iconoclastic, and was bent on demolishing anything and
everything which he disliked. Consequently a reaction set in, and Mr.
Gladstone's popularity, by which he had ruled almost as dictator,
began to wane.

The settlement of the Alabama Claims did not add to his popularity.
Everybody knows what these were, and I shall merely allude to them.
During our Civil War, injuries had been inflicted on the commerce of the
United States by cruisers built, armed, and manned in Great Britain, not
only destroying seventy of our vessels, but by reason of the fear of
shippers, resulting in a transfer of trade from American to British
ships. It having been admitted by commissioners sent by Mr. Gladstone to
Washington, that Great Britain was to blame for these and other injuries
of like character, the amount of damages for which she was justly
liable was submitted to arbitration; and the International Court at
Geneva decided that England was bound to pay to the United States more
than fifteen million dollars in gold. The English government promptly
paid the money, although regarding the award as excessive; but while the
judicious rejoiced to see an arbitrament of reason instead of a resort
to war, the pugnacious British populace was discontented, and again
Gladstone lost popularity.

And here it may be said that the foreign policy of Mr. Gladstone was
pacific from first to last. He opposed the Crimean war; he kept clear of
entangling alliances; he maintained a strict neutrality in Eastern
complications, and in the Franco-German embroilment; he never stimulated
the passion of military glory; he ever maintained that--

     "There is a higher than the warrior's excellence."

He was devoted to the development of national resources and the removal
of evils which militated against justice as well as domestic prosperity.
His administration, fortunately, was marked by no foreign war. Under his
guidance the nation had steadily advanced in wealth, and was not
oppressed by taxation; he had promoted education as wall as material
thrift; he had attempted to heal disorders in Ireland by benefiting the
tenant class. But he at last proposed a comprehensive scheme for
enlarging higher education in Ireland, which ended his administration.

The Irish University Bill, which as an attempted compromise between
Catholic and Protestant demands satisfied neither party, met with such
unexpected opposition that a majority of three was obtained against the
government. Mr. Gladstone was, in accordance with custom, compelled to
resign or summon a new Parliament. He accepted the latter alternative;
but he did not seem aware of the great change in public sentiment which
had taken place in regard to his reforms. Not one of them had touched
the heart of the great mass, or was of such transcendent importance to
the English people as the repeal of the corn laws had been. They were
measures of great utility,--indeed, based on justice,--but were of a
kind to alienate powerful classes without affecting universal interests.
They were patriotic rather than politic. Moreover, he was not supported
by lieutenants of first-class ability or reputation. His immediate
coadjutors were most respectable men, great scholars, and men of more
experience than genius or eloquence. Of his cabinet, eight of them it is
said were "double-firsts" at Oxford. There was not one of them
sufficiently trained or eminent to take his place. They were his
subordinates rather than his colleagues; and some of them became
impatient under his dictation, and witnessed his decline in popularity
with secret satisfaction. No government was ever started on an ambitious
course with louder pretensions or brighter promises than Mr. Gladstone's
cabinet in 1868. In less than three years their glory was gone. It was
claimed that the bubble of oratory had burst when in contact with fact,
and the poor English people had awoke to the dreary conviction that it
was but vapor after all; that Mr. Disraeli had pricked that bubble when
he said, "Under his influence [Gladstone's] we have legalized
confiscation, we have consecrated sacrilege, we have condoned treason,
we have destroyed churches, we have shaken property to its foundation,
and we have emptied jails."

Everything went against the government. Russia had torn up the Black Sea
treaty, the fruit of the Crimean war; the settlement of the "Alabama"
claims was humiliating; "the generous policy which was to have won the
Irish heart had exasperated one party without satisfying another. He had
irritated powerful interests on all sides, from the army to the licensed

On the appeal to the nation, contrary to Mr. Gladstone's calculations,
there was a great majority against him. He had lost friends and made
enemies. The people seemingly forgot his services,--his efforts to give
dignity to honest labor, to stimulate self-denial, to reduce unwise
expenditures, to remove crying evils. They forgot that he had reduced
taxation to the extent of twelve millions sterling annually; and all the
while the nation had been growing richer, so that the burdens which had
once been oppressive were now easy to bear. It would almost appear that
even Gladstone's transcendent eloquence had lost in a measure its charm
when Disraeli, in one of his popular addresses, was applauded for saying
that he was "a sophistical rhetorician inebriated with the exuberance of
his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can
at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of
arguments to malign his opponents and to glorify himself,"--one of the
most exaggerated and ridiculous charges that was ever made against a
public man of eminence, yet witty and plausible.

On the retirement of the great statesman from office in 1875, in sadness
and chagrin, he declined to continue to be the leader of his party in
opposition. His disappointment and disgust must have been immense to
prompt a course which seemed to be anything but magnanimous, since he
well knew that there was no one capable of taking his place; but he
probably had his reasons. For some time he rarely went to the House of
Commons. He left the leaders of his party to combat an opponent whom he
himself had been unable to disarm. Fortunately no questions came up of
sufficient importance to arouse a nation or divert it from its gains or
its pleasures. It was thinking of other things than budgets and the
small extension of the suffrage, or even of the Eastern question. It was
thinking more of steamships and stock speculations and great financial
operations, of theatres, of operas, of new novels, even of ritualistic
observances in the churches, than of the details of government in
peaceful times, or the fireworks of the great magician who had by arts
and management dethroned a greater and wiser man than himself.

Although Mr. Gladstone was only occasionally seen, after his retirement,
in the House of Commons, it must not be supposed that his political
influence was dead. When anything of special interest was to be
discussed, he was ready as before with his voice and vote. Such a
measure as the bill to regulate public worship--aimed at suppressing
ritualism--aroused his ecclesiastical interest, and he was voluminous
upon it, both in and out of Parliament. Even when he was absent from his
seat, his influence remained, and in all probability the new leader of
the Liberals, Lord Hartington, took counsel from him. He was simply
taking a rest before he should gird on anew his armor, and resume the
government of the country.

Meantime, his great rival Disraeli led his party with consummate skill.
He was a perfect master of tactics, wary, vigilant, courteous,
good-natured, seizing every opportunity to gain a party triumph. He was
also judicious in his selection of ministers, nor did he attempt to lord
it over them. He showed extraordinary tact in everything, and in nothing
more than in giving a new title to the Queen as Empress of India. But no
measures of engrossing interest were adopted during his administration.
He was content to be a ruler rather than a reformer. He was careful to
nurse his popularity, and make no parliamentary mistakes. At the end of
two years, however, his labors and cares told seriously on his health.
He had been in Parliament since 1837; he was seventy-one years of age,
and he found it expedient to accept the gracious favor of his sovereign,
and to retire to the House of Lords, with the title of Earl of
Beaconsfield, yet retaining the office of prime minister.

During the five years that Mr. Gladstone remained in retirement, he was
by no means idle, or a silent spectator of political events. He was
indefatigable with his pen, and ever ready with speeches for the
platform and with addresses to public bodies. During this period three
new Reviews were successfuly started,--the "Fortnightly," the
"Contemporary," and the "Nineteenth Century,"--to all of which he was a
frequent contributor, on a great variety of subjects. His articles were
marked by characteristic learning and ability, and vastly increased his
literary reputation. I doubt, however, if they will be much noticed by
posterity. Nothing is more ephemeral than periodical essays, unless
marked by extraordinary power both in style and matter, like the essays
of Macaulay and Carlyle. Gladstone's articles would make the fortune of
ordinary writers, but they do not stand out, as we should naturally
expect, as brilliant masterpieces, which everybody reads and glows while
reading them. Indeed, most persons find them rather dry, whether from
the subject or the style I will not undertake to say. But a great man
cannot be uniformly great or even always interesting. How few men at
seventy will give themselves the trouble to write at all, when there is
no necessity, just to relieve their own minds, or to instruct without
adequate reward! Michael Angelo labored till eighty-seven, and Titian
till over ninety; but they were artists who worked from the love of art,
restless without new creations. Perhaps it might also be said of
Gladstone that he wrote because he could not help writing, since he knew
almost everything worth knowing, and was fond of telling what he knew.

At length Mr. Gladstone emerged again from retirement, to assume the
helm of State. When he left office in 1875, he had bequeathed a surplus
to the treasury of nearly six millions; but this, besides the
accumulation of over five millions more, had been spent in profitless
and unnecessary wars. In 1876 a revolt against Turkish rule broke out in
Bulgaria, and was suppressed with truly Turkish bloodthirstiness and
outrage. "The Bulgarian atrocities" became a theme of discussion
throughout Europe; and in England, while Disraeli and his government
made light of them, Gladstone was aroused to all his old-time vigor by
his humanitarian indignation. Says Russell: "He made the most
impassioned speeches, often in the open air; he published pamphlets,
which rushed into incredible circulations; he poured letter after letter
into the newspapers; he darkened the sky with controversial post-cards;
and, as soon as Parliament met, he was ready with all his unequalled
resources of eloquence, argumentation, and inconvenient inquiry, to
drive home his great indictment against the Turkish government and its
friends and champions in the House of Commons."

Four years of this vigorous bombardment, which included in its objects
the whole range of Disraeli's "brilliant foreign policy" of threat and
bluster, produced its effect, A popular song of the day gave a nickname
to this policy:--

     "We don't want to fight, but, by Jingo, if we do,
     We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money, too."

And _Jingoism_ became in the mouths of the Liberals a keen weapon of
satire. The government gained the applause of aristocrats and populace,
but lost that of the plain people.

The ninth Victorian Parliament was dying out, and a new election was at
hand. Mr. Gladstone, now at the age of seventy, went to Edinburgh, the
centre of Scottish conservatism, and in several masterly and memorable
speeches, showing that his natural vigor of mind and body had not
abated, he exposed the mistakes and shortcomings of the existing
government and presented the boons which a new Liberal ministry were
prepared to give. And when in 1880 the dissolution of Parliament took
place, he again went to Scotland and offered himself for the county of
Edinburgh, or Midlothian, making a series of astonishing speeches, and
was returned as its representative. The general elections throughout the
kingdom showed that the tide had again turned. There was an immense
Liberal gain. The Earl of Beaconsfield placed his resignation in the
hands of the Queen, and Gladstone was sent for,--once more to be prime
minister of England.

And here I bring to a close this imperfect notice of one of the greatest
men of modern times,--hardly for lack of sufficient material, but
because it is hard to find a proper perspective in viewing matters which
are still the subject of heated contest and turmoil. Once again
Gladstone was seated on the summit of power, and with every prospect of
a long-continued reign. Although an old man, his vigor of mind and body
had not abated. He was never stronger, apparently, than when he was past
seventy years of age. At no previous period of his life was his fame so
extended or his moral influence so great. Certainly no man in England
was more revered than he or more richly deserved his honors. He entered
upon his second premiership with the veneration of the intelligent and
liberal-minded patriots of the realm, and great things were expected
from so progressive and lofty a minister. The welfare of the country it
was undoubtedly his desire and ambition to promote.

But his second administration was not successful. Had the aged premier
been content to steer his ship of State in placid waters, nothing would
have been wanting to gratify moderate desires. It was not, however,
inglorious repose he sought, but to confer a boon for which all future
ages would honor his memory.

That boon was seemingly beyond his power. The nation was not prepared to
follow him in his plans for Irish betterment. Indeed, he aroused English
opposition by his proposed changes of land-tenure in Ireland, and Irish
anger by attempted coercion in suppressing crime and disorder. This, and
the unfortunate policy of his government in Egypt, brought him to
parliamentary defeat; and he retired in June, 1885, declining at the
same time the honor of an earldom proffered by the Queen. The ministry
was wrecked on the rock which has proved so dangerous to all British
political navigators for a hundred years. No human genius seems capable
of solving the Irish question. It is apparently no nearer solution than
it was in the days of William Pitt. In attempts to solve the problem,
Mr. Gladstone found himself opposed by the aristocracy, by the Church,
by the army, by men of letters, by men of wealth throughout the country.
Lord Salisbury succeeded him; but only for a few months, and in January,
1886, Mr. Gladstone was for the third time called to the premiership. He
now advanced a step, and proposed the startling policy of Home Rule for
Ireland in matters distinctly Irish; but his following would not hold
together on the issue, and in June he retired again.

From then until 1891 he was not in office, but he was indefatigably
working with voice and pen for the Irish cause. He made in his
retirement many converts to his opinions, and was again elevated to
power on the Irish question as an issue in 1891. Yet the English on the
whole seem to be against him in his Irish policy, which is denounced as
unpractical, and which his opponents even declare to be on his part an
insincere policy, entered upon and pursued solely as a bid for power.
It is generally felt among the upper classes that no concession and no
boons would satisfy the Irish short of virtual independence of British
rule. If political rights could be separated from political power there
might be more hope of settling the difficulty, which looks like a
conflict between justice and wisdom. The sympathy of Americans is mostly
on the side of the "grand old man" in his Herculean task, even while
they admit that self-government in our own large cities is a dismal
failure from the balance of power which is held by foreigners,--by the
Irish in the East, and by the Germans in the West. And those who see the
rapid growth of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States,
especially in those sections of the country where Puritanism once had
complete sway, and the immense political power wielded by Roman Catholic
priests, can understand why the conservative classes of England are
opposed to the recognition of the political rights of a people who might
unite with socialists and radicals in overturning the institutions on
which the glory and prospects of a great nation are believed to be
based. The Catholics in Ireland constitute about seven-eighths of the
population, and English Protestants fear to deliver the thrifty
Protestant minority into the hands of the great majority armed with the
tyrannical possibilities of Home Rule. It is indeed a many-sided and
difficult problem. There are instincts in nations, as among individuals,
which reason fails to overcome, even as there are some subjects in
reference to which experience is a safer guide than genius or logic.

Little by little, however, at each succeeding election the Liberal party
gained strength, not only in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but even in
England also, and their power in Parliament increased; until, in 1893,
after a long and memorable contest, the Commons passed Mr. Gladstone's
Home Rule bill by a pronounced majority. Then it was thrown out by the
Lords, with very brief consideration. This, and other overrulings of the
Lower House by the Peers, aroused deep feeling throughout the nation. In
March, 1894, the venerable Gladstone, whose impaired hearing and sight
warned him that a man of eighty-five--even though a giant--should no
longer bear the burdens of empire, retired from the premiership, his
last speech being a solemn intimation of the issues that must soon arise
if the House of Lords persisted in obstructing the will of the people,
as expressed in the acts of their immediate representatives in the House
of Commons.

But, whatever the outcome of the Irish question, the claim of William
Ewart Gladstone to a high rank among the ruling statesmen of Modern
Europe cannot be gainsaid. Moreover, as his influence has been so
forceful a part of the great onward-moving modern current of democratic
enlargement,--and in Great Britain one of its most discreet and potent
directors,--his fame is secure; it is unalterably a part of the noblest
history of the English people.[5]

[Footnote 5: Mr. Gladstone died May 19, 1898. Perhaps at once the most
intimate and comprehensive account of him is "The Story of Gladstone's
Life," by Justin McCarthy.]


There is no exhaustive or satisfactory work on Gladstone which has yet
been written. The reader must confine himself at present to the popular
sketches, which are called biographies, of Gladstone, of Disraeli, of
Palmerston, of Peel, and other English statesmen. He may consult with
profit the Reviews of the last twenty-five years in reference to English
political affairs. For technical facts one must consult the Annual
Register. The time has not yet come for an impartial review of the great
actors in this generation on the political stage of either Europe
or America.

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