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The Development of the European Nations, 1870-1914 (5th ed.)
by John Holland Rose
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THE DEVELOPMENT

OF THE

EUROPEAN NATIONS

1870-1914

BY

J. HOLLAND ROSE LITT.D.

FELLOW OF CHRIST'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE AUTHOR OF 'THE LIFE OF NAPOLEON,' 'THE LIFE OF WILLIAM PITT,' 'THE ORIGINS OF THE WAR,' ETC.

'Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.'—VIRGIL.

FIFTH EDITION, WITH A NEW PREFACE AND THREE SUPPLEMENTARY CHAPTERS

1915

First Edition . . October 1905. Second " . . November 1905. Third " . . December 1911. Fourth " . . November 1914. Fifth " . . October 1915.

TO

MY WIFE

WITHOUT WHOSE HELP

THIS WORK

COULD NOT HAVE BEEN COMPLETED



PREFACE TO THE FIFTH EDITION

In this Edition are included three new chapters (Nos. XXI.-XXIII.), in which I seek to describe the most important and best-ascertained facts of the period 1900-14. Necessarily, the narrative is tentative at many points; and it is impossible to attain impartiality; but I have sought to view events from the German as well as the British standpoint, and to sum up the evidence fairly. The addition of these chapters has necessitated the omission of the former Epilogue and Appendices. I regret the sacrifice of the Epilogue, for it emphasised two important considerations, (1) the tendency of British foreign policy towards undue complaisance, which by other Powers is often interpreted as weakness; (2) the danger arising from the keen competition in armaments. No one can review recent events without perceiving the significance of these considerations. Perhaps they may prove to be among the chief causes producing the terrible finale of July-August 1914. I desire to express my acknowledgments and thanks for valuable advice given by Mr. J.W. Headlam, M.A., Mr. A.B. Hinds, M.A., and Dr. R.W. Seton-Watson, D. Litt.

J.H.R.

CAMBRIDGE,

September 5, 1915.



PREFACE TO THE FOURTH EDITION

The outbreak of war in Europe is an event too momentous to be treated fully in this Preface. But I may point out that the catastrophe resulted from the two causes of unrest described in this volume, namely, the Alsace-Lorraine Question and the Eastern Question. Those disputes have dragged on without any attempt at settlement by the Great Powers. The Zabern incident inflamed public opinion in Alsace-Lorraine, and illustrated the overbearing demeanour of the German military caste; while the insidious attempts of Austria in 1913 to incite Bulgaria against Servia marked out the Hapsburg Empire as the chief enemy of the Slav peoples of the Balkan Peninsula after the collapse of Turkish power in 1912. The internal troubles of the United Kingdom, France, and Russia in July 1914 furnished the opportunity so long sought by the forward party at Berlin and Vienna; and the Austro-German Alliance, which, in its origin, was defensive (as I have shown in this volume), became offensive, Italy parting from her allies when she discovered their designs. Drawn into the Triple Alliance solely by pique against France after the Tunis affair, she now inclines towards the Anglo-French connection.

Readers of my chapter on the Eastern Question will not fail to see how the neglect of the Balkan peoples by the Great Powers has left that wound festering in the weak side of Europe; and they will surmise that the Balkan troubles have, by a natural Nemesis, played their part in bringing about the European War. It is for students of modern Europe to seek to form a healthy public opinion so that the errors of the past may not be repeated, and that the new Europe shall be constituted in conformity with the aspirations of the peoples themselves.

CAMBRIDGE,

September 25, 1914.



PREFACE

The line of Virgil quoted on the title-page represents in the present case a sigh of aspiration, not a paean of achievement. No historical student, surely, can ever feel the conviction that he has fathomed the depths of that well where Truth is said to lie hid. What, then, must be the feelings of one who ventures into the mazy domain of recent annals, and essays to pick his way through thickets all but untrodden? More than once I have been tempted to give up the quest and turn aside to paths where pioneers have cleared the way. There, at least, the whereabouts of that fabulous well is known and the plummet is ready to hand. Nevertheless, I resolved to struggle through with my task, in the consciousness that the work of a pioneer may be helpful, provided that he carefully notches the track and thereby enables those who come after him to know what to seek and what to avoid.

After all, there is no lack of guides in the present age. The number of memoir-writers and newspaper correspondents is legion; and I have come to believe that they are fully as trustworthy as similar witnesses have been in any age. The very keenness of their rivalry is some guarantee for truth. Doubtless competition for good "copy" occasionally leads to artful embroidering on humdrum actuality; but, after spending much time in scanning similar embroidery in the literature of the Napoleonic Era, I unhesitatingly place the work of Archibald Forbes, and that of several knights of the pen still living, far above the delusive tinsel of Marbot, Thiebault, and Segur. I will go further and say that, if we could find out what were the sources used by Thucydides, we should notice qualms of misgiving shoot through the circles of scientific historians as they contemplated his majestic work. In any case, I may appeal to the example of the great Athenian in support of the thesis that to undertake to write contemporary history is no vain thing.

Above and beyond the accounts of memoir-writers and newspaper correspondents there are Blue Books. I am well aware that they do not always contain the whole truth. Sometimes the most important items are of necessity omitted. But the information which they contain is enormous; and, seeing that the rules of the public service keep the original records in Great Britain closed for well-nigh a century, only the most fastidious can object to the use of the wealth of materials given to the world in Parliamentary Papers.

Besides these published sources there is the fund of information possessed by public men and the "well-informed" of various grades. Unfortunately this is rarely accessible, or only under conventional restrictions. Here and there I have been able to make use of it without any breach of trust; and to those who have enlightened my darkness I am very grateful. The illumination, I know, is only partial; but I hope that its effect, in respect to the twilight of diplomacy, may be compared to that of the Aurora Borealis lights.

After working at my subject for some time, I found it desirable to limit it to events which had a distinctly formative influence on the development of European States. On questions of motive and policy I have generally refrained from expressing a decided verdict, seeing that these are always the most difficult to probe; and facile dogmatism on them is better fitted to omniscient leaderettes than to the pages of an historical work. At the same time, I have not hesitated to pronounce a judgment on these questions, and to differ from other writers, where the evidence has seemed to me decisive. To quote one instance, I reject the verdict of most authorities on the question of Bismarck's treatment of the Ems telegram, and of its effect in the negotiations with France in July 1870.

For the most part, however, I have dealt only with external events, pointing out now and again the part which they have played in the great drama of human action still going on around us. This limitation of aim has enabled me to take only specific topics, and to treat them far more fully than is done in the brief chronicle of facts presented by MM. Lavisse and Rambaud in the concluding volume of their Histoire Generale. Where a series of events began in the year 1899 or 1900, and did not conclude before the time with which this narrative closes, I have left it on one side. Obviously the Boer War falls under this head. Owing to lack of space my references to the domestic concerns of the United Kingdom have been brief. I have regretfully omitted one imperial event of great importance, the formation of the Australian Commonwealth. After all, that concerned only the British race; and in my survey of the affairs of the Empire I have treated only those which directly affected other nations as well, namely the Afghan and Egyptian questions and the Partition of Africa. Here I have sought to show the connection with "world politics," and I trust that even specialists will find something new and suggestive in this method of treatment.

In attempting to write a history of contemporary affairs, I regard it as essential to refer to the original authority, or authorities, in the case of every important statement. I have sought to carry out this rule (though at the cost of great additional toil) because it enables the reader to check the accuracy of the narrative and to gain hints for further reading. To compile bibliographies, where many new books are coming out every year, is a useless task; but exact references to the sources of information never lose their value.

My thanks are due to many who have helped me in this undertaking. Among them I may name Sir Charles Dilke, M.P., Mr. James Bryce, M.P., and Mr. Chedo Mijatovich, who have given me valuable advice on special topics. My obligations are also due to a subject of the Czar, who has placed his knowledge at my service, but for obvious reasons does not wish his name to be known. Mr. Bernard Pares, M.A., of the University of Liverpool, has very kindly read over the proofs of the early chapters, and has offered most helpful suggestions. Messrs. G. Bell and Sons have granted me permission to make use of the plans of the chief battles of the Franco-German War from Mr. Hooper's work, Sedan and the Downfall of the Second Empire, published by them. To Mr. H.W. Wilson, author of Ironclads in Action, my thanks are also due for permission to make use of the plan illustrating the fighting at Alexandria in 1882.

J.H.R.

July, 1905.



CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER I THE CAUSES OF THE FRANCO-GERMAN WAR.

CHAPTER II FROM WOeRTH TO GRAVELOTTE

CHAPTER III SEDAN

CHAPTER IV THE FOUNDING OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC

CHAPTER V THE FOUNDING OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC—continued

CHAPTER VI THE GERMAN EMPIRE

CHAPTER VII THE EASTERN QUESTION

CHAPTER VIII THE RUSSO-TURKISH WAR

CHAPTER IX THE BALKAN SETTLEMENT

CHAPTER X THE MAKING OF BULGARIA

CHAPTER XI NIHILISM AND ABSOLUTISM IN RUSSIA

CHAPTER XII THE TRIPLE AND DUAL ALLIANCES

CHAPTER XIII THE CENTRAL ASIAN QUESTION

CHAPTER XIV THE AFGHAN AND TURKOMAN CAMPAIGNS

CHAPTER XV BRITAIN IN EGYPT

CHAPTER XVI GORDON AND THE SUDAN

CHAPTER XVII THE CONQUEST OF THE SUDAN

CHAPTER XVIII THE PARTITION OF AFRICA

CHAPTER XIX THE CONGO FREE STATE

CHAPTER XX RUSSIA IN THE FAR EAST

CHAPTER XXI THE NEW GROUPING OF THE GREAT POWERS (1900-1907)

CHAPTER XXII TEUTON versus SLAV (1908-13)

CHAPTER XXIII THE CRISIS OF 1914

INDEX

MAPS AND PLANS

Campaigns of 1859-71

Sketch Map of the District between Metz and the Rhine

Plan of the Battle of Woerth

Plan of the Battles of Rezonville and Gravelotte

Plan of the Battle of Sedan

Map of Bulgaria

Plan of Plevna

Map of the Treaties of Berlin and San Stefano

Map of Thessaly

Map of Afghanistan

Battle of Maiwand

Battle of Alexandria (Bombardment of, 1882)

Map of the Nile

The Battle of Omdurman

Plan of Khartum

Map of Africa (1902)



INTRODUCTION

"The movements in the masses of European peoples are divided and slow, and their progress interrupted and impeded, because they are such great and unequally formed masses; but the preparation for the future is widely diffused, and . . . the promises of the age are so great that even the most faint-hearted rouse themselves to the belief that a time has arrived in which it is a privilege to live."—GERVINUS, 1853.

The Roman poet Lucretius in an oft-quoted passage describes the satisfaction that naturally fills the mind when from some safe vantage-ground one looks forth on travellers tossed about on the stormy deep. We may perhaps use the poet's not very altruistic words as symbolising many of the feelings with which, at the dawn of the twentieth century, we look back over the stormy waters of the century that has passed away. Some congratulation on this score is justifiable, especially as those wars and revolutions have served to build up States that are far stronger than their predecessors, in proportion as they correspond more nearly with the desires of the nations that compose them.

As we gaze at the revolutions and wars that form the storm-centres of the past century, we can now see some of the causes that brought about those storms. If we survey them with discerning eye, we soon begin to see that, in the main, the cyclonic disturbances had their origins in two great natural impulses of the civilised races of mankind. The first of these forces is that great impulse towards individual liberty, which we name Democracy; the second is that impulse, scarcely less mighty and elemental, that prompts men to effect a close union with their kith and kin: this we may term Nationality.

Now, it is true that these two forces have not led up to the last and crowning phase of human development, as their enthusiastic champions at one time asserted that they would; far from that, they are accountable, especially so the force of Nationality, for numerous defects in the life of the several peoples; and the national principle is at this very time producing great and needless friction in the dealings of nations. Yet, granting all this, it still remains true that Democracy and Nationality have been the two chief formative influences in the political development of Europe during the Nineteenth Century.

In no age of the world's history have these two impulses worked with so triumphant an activity. They have not always been endowed with living force. Among many peoples they lay dormant for ages and were only called to life by some great event, such as the intolerable oppression of a despot or of a governing caste that crushed the liberties of the individual, or the domination of an alien people over one that obstinately refused to be assimilated. Sometimes the spark that kindled vital consciousness was the flash of a poet's genius, or the heroism of some sturdy son of the soil. The causes of awakening have been infinitely various, and have never wholly died away; but it is the special glory of the Nineteenth Century that races which had hitherto lain helpless and well-nigh dead, rose to manhood as if by magic, and shed their blood like water in the effort to secure a free and unfettered existence both for the individual and the nation. It is a true saying of the German historian, Gervinus, "The history of this age will no longer be only a relation of the lives of great men and of princes, but a biography of nations."

At first sight, this illuminating statement seems to leave out of count the career of the mighty Napoleon. But it does not. The great Emperor unconsciously called into vigorous life the forces of Democracy and Nationality both in Germany and in Italy, where there had been naught but servility and disunion. His career, if viewed from our present standpoint, falls into two portions: first, that in which he figured as the champion of Revolutionary France and the liberator of Italy from foreign and domestic tyrants; and secondly, as imperial autocrat who conquered and held down a great part of Europe in his attempt to ruin British commerce. In the former of these enterprises he had the new forces of the age acting with him and endowing him with seemingly resistless might; in the latter part of his life he mistook his place in the economy of Nature, and by his violation of the principles of individual liberty and racial kinship in Spain and Central Europe, assured his own downfall.

The greatest battle of the century was the tremendous strife that for three days surged to and fro around Leipzig in the month of October 1813, when Russians, Prussians, Austrians, Swedes, together with a few Britons, Hanoverians, and finally his own Saxon allies, combined to shake the imperial yoke from the neck of the Germanic peoples. This Voelkerschlacht (Battle of the Peoples), as the Germans term it, decided that the future of Europe was not to be moulded by the imperial autocrat, but by the will of the princes and nations whom his obstinacy had embattled against him. Far from recognising the verdict, the great man struggled on until the pertinacity of the allies finally drove him from power and assigned to France practically the same boundaries that she had had in 1791, before the time of her mighty expansion. That is to say, the nation which in its purely democratic form had easily overrun and subdued the neighbouring States in the time of their old, inert, semi-feudal existence, was overthrown by them when their national consciousness had been trampled into being by the legions of the great Emperor.

In 1814, and again after Waterloo, France was driven in on herself, and resumed something like her old position in Europe, save that the throne of the Bourbons never acquired any solidity—the older branch of that family being unseated by the Revolution of 1830. In the centre of the Continent, the old dynasties had made common cause with the peoples in the national struggles of 1813-14, and therefore enjoyed more consideration—a fact which enabled them for a time to repress popular aspirations for constitutional rule and national unity.

Nevertheless, by the Treaties of Vienna (1814-15) the centre of Europe was more solidly organised than ever before. In place of the effete institution known as the Holy Roman Empire, which Napoleon swept away in 1806, the Central States were reorganised in the German Confederation—a cumbrous and ineffective league in which Austria held the presidency. Austria also gained Venetia and Lombardy in Italy. The acquisition of the fertile Rhine Province by Prussia brought that vigorous State up to the bounds of Lorraine and made her the natural protectress of Germany against France. Russia acquired complete control over nearly the whole of the former Kingdom of Poland. Thus, the Powers that had been foremost in the struggle against Napoleon now gained most largely in the redistribution of lands in 1814-15, while the States that had been friendly to him now suffered for their devotion. Italy was split up into a mosaic of States; Saxony ceded nearly the half of her lands to Prussia; Denmark yielded up her ancient possession, Norway, to the Swedish Crown.

In some respects the triumph of the national principle, which had brought victory to the old dynasties, strengthened the European fabric. The Treaties of Vienna brought the boundaries of States more nearly into accord with racial interests and sentiments than had been the case before; but in several instances those interests and feelings were chafed or violated by designing or short-sighted statesmen. The Germans, who had longed for an effective national union, saw with indignation that the constitution of the new Germanic Confederation left them under the control of the rulers of the component States and of the very real headship exercised by Austria, which was always used to repress popular movements. The Italians, who had also learned from Napoleon the secret that they were in all essentials a nation, deeply resented the domination of Austria in Lombardy-Venetia and the parcelling out of the rest of the Peninsula between reactionary kings somnolent dukes, and obscurantist clerics. The Belgians likewise protested against the enforced union with Holland in what was now called the Kingdom of the United Netherlands (1815-30). In the east of Europe the Poles struggled in vain against the fate which once more partitioned them between Russia, Austria, and Prussia. The Germans of Holstein, Schleswig, and Lauenburg submitted uneasily to the Danish rule; and only under the stress of demonstrations by the allies did the Norwegians accept the union with Sweden.

It should be carefully noted that these were the very cases which caused most of the political troubles in the following period. In fact, most of the political occurrences on the Continent in the years 1815 to 1870—the revolts, revolutions, and wars, that give a special character to the history of the century—resulted directly from the bad or imperfect arrangements of the Congress of Vienna and of the so-called Holy Alliance of the monarchs who sought to perpetuate them. The effect of this widespread discontent was not felt at once. The peoples were too exhausted by the terrific strain of the Napoleonic wars to do much for a generation or more, save in times of popular excitement. Except in the south-east of Europe, where Greece, with the aid of Russia, Britain, and France, wrested her political independence from the grasp of the Sultan (1827), the forty years that succeeded Waterloo were broken by no important war; but they were marked by oft-recurring unrest and sedition. Thus, when the French Revolution of 1830 overthrew the reactionary dynasty of the elder Bourbons, the universal excitement caused by this event endowed the Belgians with strength sufficient to shake off the heavy yoke of the Dutch; while in Italy, Germany, and Poland the democrats and nationalists (now working generally in accord) made valiant but unsuccessful efforts to achieve their ideals.

The same was the case in 1848. The excitement, which this time originated in Italy, spread to France, overthrew the throne of Louis Philippe (of the younger branch of the French Bourbons), and bade fair to roll half of the crowns of Europe into the gutter. But these spasmodic efforts of the democrats speedily failed. Inexperience, disunion, and jealousy paralysed their actions and yielded the victory to the old Governments. Frenchmen, in dismay at the seeming approach of communism and anarchy, fell back upon the odd expedient of a Napoleonic Republic, which in 1852 was easily changed by Louis Napoleon into an Empire modelled on that of his far greater uncle. The democrats of Germany achieved some startling successes over their repressive Governments in the spring of the year 1848, only to find that they could not devise a working constitution for the Fatherland; and the deputies who met at the federal capital, Frankfurt, to unify Germany "by speechifying and majorities," saw power slip back little by little into the hands of the monarchs and princes. In the Austrian Empire nationalist claims and strivings led to a very Babel of discordant talk and action, amidst which the young Hapsburg ruler, Francis Joseph, thanks to Russian military aid, was able to triumph over the valour of the Hungarians and the devotion of their champion, Kossuth.

In Italy the same sad tale was told. In the spring of that year of revolutions, 1848, the rulers in quick succession granted constitutions to their subjects. The reforming Pope, Pius IX., and the patriotic King of Sardinia, Charles Albert, also made common cause with their peoples in the effort to drive out the Austrians from Lombardy-Venetia; but the Pope and all the potentates except Charles Albert speedily deserted the popular cause; friction between the King and the republican leaders, Mazzini and Garibaldi, further weakened the nationalists, and the Austrians had little difficulty in crushing Charles Albert's forces, whereupon he abdicated in favour of his son, Victor Emmanuel II. (1849). The Republics set up at Rome and Venice struggled valiantly for a time against great odds—Mazzini, Garibaldi, and their volunteers being finally overborne at the Eternal City by the French troops whom Louis Napoleon sent to restore the Pope (June 1849); while, two months later, Venice surrendered to the Austrians whom she had long held at bay. The Queen of the Adriatic under the inspiring dictatorship of Manin had given a remarkable example of orderly constitutional government in time of siege.

It seemed to be the lot of the nationalists and democrats to produce leaders who could thrill the imagination of men by lofty teachings and sublime heroism; who could, in a word, achieve everything but success. A poetess, who looked forth from Casa Guidi windows upon the tragi-comedy of Florentine failure in those years, wrote that what was needed was a firmer union, a more practical and intelligent activity, on the part both of the people and of the future leader:

A land's brotherhood Is most puissant: men, upon the whole, Are what they can be,—nations, what they would.

Will therefore to be strong, thou Italy! Will to be noble! Austrian Metternich Can fix no yoke unless the neck agree.

* * * * *

Whatever hand shall grasp this oriflamme, Whatever man (last peasant or first Pope Seeking to free his country) shall appear, Teach, lead, strike fire into the masses, fill These empty bladders with fine air, insphere These wills into a unity of will, And make of Italy a nation—dear And blessed be that man!

When Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned those lines she cannot have surmised that two men were working their way up the rungs of the political ladder in Piedmont and Prussia, whose keen intellects and masterful wills were to weld their Fatherlands into indissoluble union within the space of one momentous decade. These men were Cavour and Bismarck.

It would far exceed the limits of space of this brief Introduction to tell, except in the briefest outline, the story of the plodding preparation and far-seeing diplomacy by which these statesmen raised their respective countries from depths of humiliation to undreamt of heights of triumph. The first thing was to restore the prestige of their States. No people can be strong in action that has lost belief in its own powers and has allowed its neighbours openly to flout it. The history of the world has shown again and again that politicians who allow their country to be regarded as une quantite negligeable bequeath to some abler successor a heritage of struggle and war—struggle for the nation to recover its self-respect, and war to regain consideration and fair treatment from others. However much frothy talkers in their clubs may decry the claims of national prestige, no great statesman has ever underrated their importance. Certainly the first aim both of Cavour and Bismarck was to restore self-respect and confidence to their States after the humiliations and the dreary isolation of those dark years, 1848-51. We will glance, first, at the resurrection (Risorgimento) of the little Kingdom of Sardinia, which was destined to unify Italy.

Charles Albert's abdication immediately after his defeat by the Austrians left no alternative to his son and successor, Victor Emmanuel II., but that of signing a disastrous peace with Austria. In a short time the stout-hearted young King called to his councils Count Cavour, the second son of a noble Piedmontese family, but of firmly Liberal principles, who resolved to make the little kingdom the centre of enlightenment and hope for despairing Italy. He strengthened the constitution (the only one out of many granted in 1848 that survived the time of reaction); he reformed the tariff in the direction of Free Trade; and during the course of the Crimean War he persuaded his sovereign to make an active alliance with France and England, so as to bind them by all the claims of honour to help Sardinia in the future against Austria. The occasion was most opportune; for Austria was then suspected and disliked both by Russia and the Western Powers owing to her policy of armed neutrality. Nevertheless the reward of Cavour's diplomacy came slowly and incompletely. By skilfully vague promises (never reduced to writing) Cavour induced Napoleon III. to take up arms against Austria; but, after the great victory of Solferino (June 24, 1859), the French Emperor enraged the Italians by breaking off the struggle before the allies recovered the great province of Venetia, which he had pledged himself to do. Worse still, he required the cession of Savoy and Nice to France, if the Central Duchies and the northern part of the Papal States joined the Kingdom of Sardinia, as they now did. Thus, the net result of Napoleon's intervention in Italy was his acquisition of Savoy and Nice (at the price of Italian hatred), and the gain of Lombardy and the central districts for the national cause (1859-60).

The agony of mind caused by this comparative failure undermined Cavour's health; but in the last months of his life he helped to impel and guide the revolutionary elements in Italy to an enterprise that ended in a startling and momentous triumph. This was nothing less than the overthrow of Bourbon rule in Sicily and Southern Italy by Garibaldi. Thanks to Cavour's connivance, this dashing republican organised an expedition of about 1000 volunteers near Genoa, set sail for Sicily, and by a few blows shivered the chains of tyranny in that island. It is noteworthy that British war-ships lent him covert but most important help at Palermo and again in his crossing to the mainland; this timely aid and the presence of a band of Britons in his ranks laid the foundation of that friendship which has ever since united the two nations. In Calabria the hero met with the feeblest resistance from the Bourbon troops and the wildest of welcomes from the populace. At Salerno he took tickets for Naples and entered the enemy's capital by railway train (September 7). Then he purposed, after routing the Bourbon force north of the city, to go on and attack the French at Rome and proclaim a united Italy.

Cavour took care that he should do no such thing. The Piedmontese statesman knew when to march onwards and when to halt. As his compatriot, Manzoni, said of him, "Cavour has all the prudence and all the imprudence of the true statesman." He had dared and won in 1855-59, and again in secretly encouraging Garibaldi's venture. Now it was time to stop in order to consolidate the gains to the national cause.

The leader of the red-shirts, having done what no king could do, was thenceforth to be controlled by the monarchy of the north. Victor Emmanuel came in as the deus ex machina; his troops pressed southwards, occupying the eastern part of the Papal States in their march, and joined hands with the Garibaldians to the north of Naples, thus preventing the collision with France which the irregulars would have brought about. Even as it was, Cavour had hard work to persuade Napoleon that this was the only way of curbing Garibaldi and preventing the erection of a South Italian Republic; but finally the French Emperor looked on uneasily while the Pope's eastern territories were violated, and while the cause of Italian Unity was assured at the expense of the Pontiff whom France was officially supporting in Rome. A plebiscite, or mass vote, of the people of Sicily, South Italy, and the eastern and central parts of the Papal States, was resorted to by Cavour in order to throw a cloak of legality over these irregular proceedings. The device pleased Napoleon, and it resulted in an overwhelming vote in favour of annexation to Victor Emmanuel's kingdom. Thus, in March 1861, the soldier-king was able amidst universal acclaim to take the title of King of Italy. Florence was declared to be the capital of the realm (1864), which embraced all parts of Italy except the Province of Venetia, pertaining to Austria, and the "Patrimonium Petri"—that is, Rome and its vicinity,—still held by the Pope and garrisoned by the French. The former of these was to be regained for la patria in 1866, the latter in 1870, in consequence of the mighty triumphs then achieved by the principle of nationality in Prussia and Germany. To these triumphs we must now briefly advert.

No one who looked at the state of European politics in 1861, could have imagined that in less than ten years Prussia would have waged three wars and humbled the might of Austria and France. At that time she showed no signs of exceptional vigour: she had as yet produced no leaders so inspiring as Mazzini and Garibaldi, no statesman so able as Cavour. Her new king, William, far from arousing the feelings of growing enthusiasm that centred in Victor Emmanuel, was more and more distrusted and disliked by Liberals for the policy of militarism on which he had just embarked. In fact, the Hohenzollern dynasty was passing into a "Conflict Time" with its Parliament which threatened to impair the influence of Prussia abroad and to retard her recovery from the period of humiliations through which she had recently passed.

A brief recital of those humiliations is desirable as showing, firstly, the suddenness with which the affairs of a nation may go to ruin in slack and unskilful hands, and, secondly, the immense results that can be achieved in a few years by a small band of able men who throw their whole heart into the work of national regeneration.

The previous ruler, Frederick William IV., was a gifted and learned man, but he lacked soundness of judgment and strength of will—qualities which are of more worth in governing than graces of the intellect. At the time of the revolutionary outbreaks of 1848 he capitulated to the Berlin mob and declared for a constitutional regime in which Prussia should merge herself in Germany; but when the excesses of the democrats had weakened their authority, he put them down by military force, refused the German Crown offered him by the popularly elected German Parliament assembled at Frankfurt-on-Main (April 1849); and thereupon attempted to form a smaller union of States, namely, Prussia, Saxony, and Hanover. This Three Kings' League, as it was called, soon came to an end; for it did not satisfy the nationalists who wished to see Germany united, the constitutionalists who aimed at the supremacy of Parliament, or the friends of the old order of things. The vacillations of Frederick William and the unpractical theorisings of the German Parliament at Frankfurt having aroused general disgust, Austria found little difficulty in restoring the power of the old Germanic Confederation in September, 1850. Strong in her alliance with Russia, she next compelled Frederick William to sign the Convention of Olmuetz (Nov. 1850). By this humiliating compact he agreed to forbear helping the German nationalists in Schleswig-Holstein to shake off the oppressive rule of the Danes; to withdraw Prussian troops from Hesse-Cassel and Baden, where strifes had broken out; and to acknowledge the supremacy of the old Federal Diet under the headship of Austria. Thus, it seemed that the Prussian monarchy was a source of weakness and disunion for North Germany, and that Austria, backed up by the might of Russia, must long continue to lord it over the cumbrous Germanic Confederation.

But a young country squire, named Bismarck, even then resolved that the Prussian monarchy should be the means of strengthening and binding together the Fatherland. The resolve bespoke the patriotism of a sturdy, hopeful nature; and the young Bismarck was nothing if not patriotic, sturdy, and hopeful. The son of an ancient family in the Mark of Brandenburg, he brought to his life-work powers inherited from a line of fighting ancestors; and his mind was no less robust than his body. Quick at mastering a mass of details, he soon saw into the heart of a problem, and his solution of it was marked both by unfailing skill and by sound common sense as to the choice of men and means. In some respects he resembles Napoleon the Great. Granted that he was his inferior in the width of vision and the versatility of gifts that mark a world-genius, yet he was his equal in diplomatic resourcefulness and in the power of dealing lightning strokes; while his possession of the priceless gift of moderation endowed his greatest political achievements with a soundness and solidity never possessed by those of the mighty conqueror who "sought to give the mot d'ordre to the universe." If the figure of the Prussian does not loom so large on the canvas of universal history as that of the Corsican—if he did not tame a Revolution, remodel society, and reorganise a Continent—be it remembered that he made a United Germany, while Napoleon the Great left France smaller and weaker than he found her.

Bismarck's first efforts, like those of Cavour for Sardinia, were directed to the task of restoring the prestige of his State. Early in his official career, the Prussian patriot urged the expediency of befriending Russia during the Crimean War, and he thus helped on that rapprochement between Berlin and St. Petersburg which brought the mighty triumphs of 1866 and 1870 within the range of possibility. In 1857 Frederick William became insane; and his brother William took the reins of Government as Regent, and early in 1861 as King. The new ruler was less gifted than his unfortunate brother; but his homely common sense and tenacious will strengthened Prussian policy where it had been weakest. He soon saw the worth of Bismarck, employed him in high diplomatic positions, and when the royal proposals for strengthening the army were decisively rejected by the Prussian House of Representatives, he speedily sent for Bismarck to act as Minister-President (Prime Minister) and "tame" the refractory Parliament. The constitutional crisis was becoming more and more acute when a great national question came into prominence owing to the action of the Danes in Schleswig-Holstein affairs.

Without entering into the very tangled web of customs, treaties, and dynastic claims that made up the Schleswig-Holstein question, we may here state that those Duchies were by ancient law very closely connected together, that the King of Denmark was only Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, and that the latter duchy, wholly German in population, formed part of the Germanic Confederation. Latterly the fervent nationalists in Denmark, while leaving Holstein to its German connections, had resolved thoroughly to "Danify" Schleswig, the northern half of which was wholly Danish, and they pressed on this policy by harsh and intolerant measures, making it difficult or well-nigh impossible for the Germans to have public worship in their own tongue and to secure German teachers for their children in the schools. Matters were already in a very strained state, when shortly before the death of King Frederick VII. of Denmark (November, 1863) the Rigsraad at Copenhagen sanctioned a constitution for Schleswig, which would practically have made it a part of the Danish monarchy. The King gave his assent to it, an act which his successor, Christian IX., ratified.

Now, this action violated the last treaty—that signed by the Powers at London in 1852, which settled the affairs of the Duchies; and Bismarck therefore had strong ground for appealing to the Powers concerned, as also to the German Confederation, against this breach of treaty obligations. The Powers, especially England and France, sought to set things straight, but the efforts of our Foreign Minister, Lord John Russell, had no effect. The German Confederation also refused to take any steps about Schleswig as being outside its jurisdiction. Bismarck next persuaded Austria to help Prussia in defeating Danish designs on that duchy. The Danes, on the other hand, counted on the unofficial expressions of sympathy which came from the people of Great Britain and France at sight of a small State menaced by two powerful monarchies. In fact, the whole situation was complicated by this explosion of feeling, which seemed to the Danes to portend the armed intervention of the Western States, especially England, on their behalf. As far as is known, no official assurance to that effect ever went forth from London. In fact, it is certain that Queen Victoria absolutely forbade any such step; but the mischief done by sentimental orators, heedless newspaper-editors, and factious busybodies, could not be undone. As Lord John Russell afterwards stated in a short "Essay on the Policy of England": "It pleased some English advisers of great influence to meddle in this affair; they were successful in thwarting the British Government, and in the end, with the professed view, and perhaps the real intention, of helping Denmark, their friendship tended to deprive her of Holstein and Schleswig altogether." This final judgment of a veteran statesman is worth quoting as showing his sense of the mischief done by well-meant but misguided sympathy, which pushed the Danes on to ruin and embittered our relations with Prussia for many years.

Not that the conduct of the German Powers was flawless. On January 16, 1864, they sent to Copenhagen a demand for the withdrawal of the constitution for Schleswig within two days. The Danish Foreign Minister pointed out that, as the Rigsraad was not in session, this could not possibly be done within two days. In this last step, then, the German Powers were undoubtedly the aggressors[1]. The Prussian troops were ready near the River Eider, and at once invaded Schleswig. The Danes were soon beaten on the mainland; then a pause occurred, during which a Conference of the Powers concerned was held at London. It has been proved by the German historian, von Sybel, that the first serious suggestion to Prussia that she should take both the Duchies came secretly from Napoleon III. It was in vain that Lord John Russell suggested a sensible compromise, namely, the partition of Schleswig between Denmark and Germany according to the language-frontier inside the Duchy. To this the belligerents demurred on points of detail, the Prussian representative asserting that he would not leave a single German under Danish rule. The war was therefore resumed, and ended in a complete defeat for the weaker State, which finally surrendered both Duchies to Austria and Prussia (1864)[2].

[1] Lord Wodehouse (afterwards Earl of Kimberley) was at that time sent on a special mission to Copenhagen. When his official correspondence is published, it will probably throw light on many points.

[2] Sybel, Die Begruendung des deutschen Reiches, vol. iii. pp. 299-344; Debidour, Hist. diplomatique de l'Europe, vol. ii. pp. 261-273; Lowe, Life of Bismarck, vol. i. chap. vi.; Headlam, Bismarck, chap. viii.; Lord Malmesbury, Memoirs of an ex-Minister pp. 584-593 (small edition); Spencer Walpole, Life of Lord J. Russell, vol. ii. pp. 396-411.

In several respects the cause of ruin to Denmark in 1863-64 bears a remarkable resemblance to that which produced war in South Africa in 1899, viz. high-handed action of a minority towards men whom they treated as Outlanders, the stiff-necked obstinacy of the smaller State, and reliance on the vehement but (probably) unofficial offers of help or intervention by other nations.

The question of the sharing of the Duchies now formed one of the causes of the far greater war between the victors; but, in truth, it was only part of the much larger question, which had agitated Germany for centuries, whether the balance of power should belong to the North or the South. Bismarck also saw that the time was nearly ripe for settling this matter once for all in favour of Prussia; but he had hard work even to persuade his own sovereign; while the Prussian Parliament, as well as public opinion throughout Germany, was violently hostile to his schemes and favoured the claims of the young Duke of Augustenburg to the Duchies—claims that had much show of right. Matters were patched up for a time between the two German States, by the Convention of Gastein (August 1865), while in reality each prepared for war and sought to gain allies.

Here again Bismarck was successful. After vainly seeking to buy Venetia from the Austrian Court, Italy agreed to side with Prussia against that Power in order to wrest by force a province which she could not hope to gain peaceably. Russia, too, was friendly to the Court of Berlin, owing to the help which the latter had given her in crushing the formidable revolt of the Poles in 1863. It remained to keep France quiet. In this Bismarck thought he had succeeded by means of interviews which he held with Napoleon III. at Biarritz (Nov. 1865). What there occurred is not clearly known. That Bismarck played on the Emperor's foible for oppressed nationalities, in the case of Italy, is fairly certain; that he fed him with hopes of gaining Belgium, or a slice of German land, is highly probable, and none the less so because he later on indignantly denied in the Reichstag that he ever "held out the prospect to anybody of ceding a single German village, or even as much as a clover-field." In any case Napoleon seems to have promised to observe neutrality—not because he loved Prussia, but because he expected the German Powers to wear one another out and thus leave him master of the situation. In common with most of the wiseacres of those days he believed that Prussia and Italy would ultimately fall before the combined weight of Austria and of the German States, which closely followed her in the Confederation; whereupon he could step in and dictate his own terms[3].

[3] Busch, Our Chancellor, vol. ii. p. 17 (Eng. edit.); Debidour, Histoire diplomatique de l'Europe (1814-1878), vol ii. pp. 291-293. Lord Loftus in his Diplomatic Reminiscences (vol. ii. p. 280) says: "So satisfied was Bismarck that he could count on the neutrality of France, that no defensive military measures were taken on the Rhine and western frontier. He had no fears of Russia on the eastern frontier, and was therefore able to concentrate the military might of Prussia against Austria and her South German Allies."

Light has been thrown on the bargainings between Italy and Prussia by the Memoirs of General Govone, who found Bismarck a hard bargainer.

Bismarck and the leaders of the Prussian army had few doubts as to the result. They were determined to force on the war, and early in June 1866 brought forward proposals at the Frankfurt Diet for the "reform" of the German Confederation, the chief of them being the exclusion of Austria, the establishment of a German Parliament elected by manhood suffrage, and the formation of a North German army commanded by the King of Prussia.

A great majority of the Federal Diet rejected these proposals, and war speedily broke out, Austria being supported by nearly all the German States except the two Mecklenburgs.

The weight of numbers was against Prussia, even though she had the help of the Italians operating against Venetia. On that side Austria was completely successful, as also in a sea-fight near Lissa in the Adriatic; but in the north the Hapsburgs and their German allies soon found out that organisation, armament, and genius count for more than numbers. The great organiser, von Roon, had brought Prussia's citizen army to a degree of efficiency that surprised every one; and the quick-firing "needle-gun" dealt havoc and terror among the enemy. Using to the full the advantage of her central position against the German States, Prussia speedily worsted their isolated and badly-handled forces, while her chief armies overthrew those of Austria and Saxony in Bohemia. The Austrian plan of campaign had been to invade Prussia by two armies—a comparatively small force advancing from Cracow as a base into Silesia, while another, acting from Olmuetz, advanced through Bohemia to join the Saxons and march on Berlin, some 50,000 Bavarians joining them in Bohemia for the same enterprise. This design speedily broke down owing to the short-sighted timidity of the Bavarian Government, which refused to let its forces leave their own territory; the lack of railway facilities in the Austrian Empire also hampered the moving of two large armies to the northern frontier. Above all, the swift and decisive movements of the Prussians speedily drove the allies to act on the defensive—itself a grave misfortune in war.

Meanwhile the Prussian strategist, von Moltke, was carrying out a far more incisive plan of operations—that of sending three Prussian armies into the middle of Bohemia, and there forming a great mass which would sweep away all obstacles from the road to Vienna. This design received prompt and skilful execution. Saxony was quickly overrun, and the irruption of three great armies into Bohemia compelled the Austrians and their Saxon allies hurriedly to alter their plans. After suffering several reverses in the north of Bohemia, their chief array under Benedek barred the way of the two northern Prussian armies on the heights north of the town of Koeniggraetz. On the morning of July 3 the defenders long beat off all frontal attacks with heavy loss; but about 2 P.M. the Army of Silesia, under the Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia, after a forced march of twelve miles, threw itself on their right flank, where Benedek expected no very serious onset. After desperate fighting the Army of Silesia carried the village of Chlum in the heart of the Austrian position, and compelled Austrians and Saxons to a hurried retreat over the Elbe. In this the Austrian infantry was saved from destruction by the heroic stand made by the artillery. Even so, the allies lost more than 13,000 killed and wounded, 22,000 prisoners, and 187 guns[4].

[4] Sybel, Die Begruendung des deutschen Reiches, vol. v. pp. 174-205; Journals of Field Marshal Count von Blumenthal for 1866 and 1871 (Eng. edit.), pp. 37-44.

Koeniggraetz (or Sadowa, as it is often called) decided the whole campaign. The invaders now advanced rapidly towards Vienna, and at the town of Nikolsburg concluded the Preliminaries of Peace with Austria (July 26), whereupon a mandate came from Paris, bidding them stop. In fact, the Emperor of the French offered his intervention in a manner most threatening to the victors. He sought to detach Italy from the Prussian alliance by the offer of Venetia as a left-handed present from himself—an offer which the Italian Government subsequently refused.

To understand how Napoleon III. came to change front and belie his earlier promises, one must look behind the scenes. Enough is already known to show that the Emperor's hand was forced by his Ministers and by the Parisian Press, probably also by the Empress Eugenie. Though desirous, apparently, of befriending Prussia, he had already yielded to their persistent pleas urging him to stay the growth of the Protestant Power of North Germany. On June 10, at the outbreak of the war, he secretly concluded a treaty with Austria, holding out to her the prospect of recovering the great province of Silesia (torn from her by Frederick the Great in 1740) in return for a magnanimous cession of Venetia to Italy. The news of Koeniggraetz led to a violent outburst of anti-Prussian feeling; but Napoleon refused to take action at once, when it might have been very effective.

The best plan for the French Government would have been to send to the Rhine all the seasoned troops left available by Napoleon III.'s ill-starred Mexican enterprise, so as to help the hard-pressed South German forces, offering also the armed mediation of France to the combatants. In that case Prussia must have drawn back, and Napoleon III. could have dictated his own terms to Central Europe. But his earlier leanings towards Prussia and Italy, the advice of Prince Napoleon ("Plon-Plon") and Lavalette, and the wheedlings of the Prussian ambassador as to compensations which France might gain as a set-off to Prussia's aggrandisement, told on the French Emperor's nature, always somewhat sluggish and then prostrated by severe internal pain; with the result that he sent his proposals for a settlement of the points in dispute, but took no steps towards enforcing them. A fortnight thus slipped away, during which the Prussians reaped the full fruits of their triumph at Koeniggraetz; and it was not until July 29, three days after the Preliminaries of Peace were signed, that the French Foreign Minister, Drouyn de Lhuys, worried his master, then prostrate with pain at Vichy, into sanctioning the following demands from victorious Prussia: the cession to France of the Rhenish Palatinate (belonging to Bavaria), the south-western part of Hesse Darmstadt, and that part of Prussia's Rhine-Province lying in the valley of the Saar which she had acquired after Waterloo. This would have brought within the French frontier the great fortress of Mainz (Mayence); but the great mass of these gains, it will be observed, would have been at the expense of South German States, whose cause France proclaimed her earnest desire to uphold against the encroaching power of Prussia.

Bismarck took care to have an official copy of these demands in writing, the use of which will shortly appear; and having procured this precious document, he defied the French envoy, telling him that King William, rather than agree to such a surrender of German land, would make peace with Austria and the German States on any terms, and invade France at the head of the forces of a united Germany. This reply caused another change of front at Napoleon's Court. The demands were disavowed and the Foreign Minister, Drouyn de Lhuys, resigned[5].

[5] Sybel, op. cit. vol. v. pp. 365-374. Debidour, op. cit. vol. ii. pp. 315-318. See too volume viii. of Ollivier's work, L'Empire liberal, published in 1904; and M. de la Gorce's work, Histoire du second Empire, vol. vi. (Paris 1903).

The completeness of Prussia's triumph over Austria and her German allies, together with the preparations of the Hungarians for revolt, decided the Court of Vienna to accept the Prussian terms which were embodied in the Treaty of Prague (Aug. 23); they were, the direct cession of Venetia to Italy; the exclusion of Austria from German affairs and her acceptance of the changes there pending; the cession to Prussia of Schleswig-Holstein; and the payment of 20,000,000 thalers (about L3,000,000) as war indemnity. The lenience of these conditions was to have a very noteworthy result, namely, the speedy reconciliation of the two Powers: within twenty years they were firmly united in the Triple Alliance with Italy (see Chapter X.).

Some difficulties stood in the way of peace between Prussia and her late enemies in the German Confederation, especially Bavaria. These last were removed when Bismarck privately disclosed to the Bavarian Foreign Minister the secret demand made by France for the cession of the Bavarian Palatinate. In the month of August, the South German States, Bavaria, Wuertemberg and Baden, accepted Prussia's terms; whereby they paid small war indemnities and recognised the new constitution of Germany. Outwardly they formed a South German Confederation; but this had a very shadowy existence; and the three States by secret treaties with Prussia agreed to place their armies and all military arrangements, in case of war, under the control of the King of Prussia. Thus within a month from the close of "the Seven Weeks' War," the whole of Germany was quietly but firmly bound to common action in military matters; and the actions of France left little doubt as to the need of these timely precautions.

On those German States which stood in the way of Prussia's territorial development and had shown marked hostility, Bismarck bore hard. The Kingdom of Hanover, Electoral Hesse (Hesse-Cassel), the Duchy of Nassau, and the Free City of Frankfurt were annexed outright, Prussia thereby gaining direct contact with her Westphalian and Rhenish Provinces. The absorption of Frankfurt-on-the-Main, and the formation of a new league, the North German Confederation, swept away all the old federal machinery, and marked out Berlin, not Vienna or Frankfurt, as the future governing centre of the Fatherland. It was doubtless a perception of the vast gains to the national cause which prompted the Prussian Parliament to pass a Bill of Indemnity exonerating the King's Ministers for the illegal acts committed by them during the "Conflict Time" (1861-66)—acts which saved Prussia in spite of her Parliament.

Constitutional freedom likewise benefited largely by the results of the war. The new North German Confederation was based avowedly on manhood suffrage, not because either King William or Bismarck loved democracy, but because after lately pledging themselves to it as the groundwork of reform of the old Confederation, they could not draw back in the hour of triumph. As Bismarck afterwards confessed to his Secretary, Dr. Busch, "I accepted universal suffrage, but with reluctance, as a Frankfurt tradition" (i.e. of the democratic Parliament of Frankfurt in 1848)[6]. All the lands, therefore, between the Niemen and the Main were bound together in a Confederation based on constitutional principles, though the governing powers of the King and his Ministers continued to be far larger than is the case in Great Britain. To this matter we shall recur when we treat of the German Empire, formed by the union of the North and South German Confederations of 1866.

[6] Busch, Our Chancellor, vol. ii. p. 196 (English edit.).

Austria also was soon compelled to give way before the persistent demands of the Hungarian patriots for their ancient constitution, which happily blended monarchy and democracy. Accordingly, the centralised Hapsburg monarchy was remodelled by the Ausgleich (compromise) of 1867, and became the Dual-Monarchy of Austria-Hungary, the two parts of the realm being ruled quite separately for most purposes of government, and united only for those of army organisation, foreign policy, and finance. Parliamentary control became dominant in each part of the Empire; and the grievances resulting from autocratic or bureaucratic rule vanished from Hungary. They disappeared also from Hanover and Hesse-Cassel, where the Guelf sovereigns and Electors had generally repressed popular movements.

Greatest of all the results of the war of 1866, however, was the gain to the national cause in Germany and Italy. Peoples that had long been divided were now in the brief space of three months brought within sight of the long-wished-for unity. The rush of these events blinded men to their enduring import and produced an impression that the Prussian triumph was like that of Napoleon I., too sudden and brilliant to last. Those who hazarded this verdict forgot that his political arrangements for Europe violated every instinct of national solidarity; while those of 1866 served to group the hitherto divided peoples of North Germany and Italy around the monarchies that had proved to be the only possible rallying points in their respective countries. It was this harmonising of the claims and aspirations of monarchy, nationality, and democracy that gave to the settlement of 1866 its abiding importance, and fitted the two peoples for the crowning triumph of 1870.



CHAPTER I

THE CAUSES OF THE FRANCO-GERMAN WAR

"After the fatal year 1866, the Empire was in a state of decadence."—L. GREGOIRE, Histoire de France.

The irony of history is nowhere more manifest than in the curious destiny which called a Napoleon III. to the place once occupied by Napoleon I., and at the very time when the national movements, unwittingly called to vigorous life by the great warrior, were attaining to the full strength of manhood. Napoleon III. was in many ways a well-meaning dreamer, who, unluckily for himself, allowed his dreams to encroach on his waking moments. In truth, his sluggish but very persistent mind never saw quite clearly where dreams must give way to realities; or, as M. de Falloux phrased it, "He does not know the difference between dreaming and thinking[7]." Thus his policy showed an odd mixture of generous haziness and belated practicality.

[7] Notes from a Diary, 1851-1872, by Sir M.E. Grant Duff, vol. i. p. 120.

Long study of his uncle's policy showed him, rightly enough, that it erred in trampling down the feeling of nationality in Germany and elsewhere. The nephew resolved to avoid this mistake and to pose as the champion of the oppressed and divided peoples of Italy, Germany, Poland, and the Balkan Peninsula—a programme that promised to appeal to the ideal aspirations of the French, to embarrass the dynasties that had overthrown the first Napoleon, and to yield substantial gains for his nephew. Certainly it did so in the case of Italy; his championship of the Roumanians also helped on the making of that interesting Principality (1861) and gained the good-will of Russia; but he speedily forfeited this by his wholly ineffective efforts on behalf of the Poles in 1863. His great mistakes, however, were committed in and after the year 1863, when he plunged into Mexican politics with the chimerical aim of founding a Roman Catholic Empire in Central America, and favoured the rise of Prussia in connection with the Schleswig-Holstein question. By the former of these he locked up no small part of his army in Mexico when he greatly needed it on the Rhine; by the latter he helped on the rise of the vigorous North German Power.

As we have seen, he secretly advised Prussia to take both Schleswig and Holstein, thereby announcing his wish for the effective union of Germans with the one great State composed almost solely of Germans. "I shall always be consistent in my conduct," he said. "If I have fought for the independence of Italy, if I have lifted up my voice for Polish nationality, I cannot have other sentiments in Germany, or obey other principles." This declaration bespoke the doctrinaire rather than the statesman. Untaught by the clamour which French Chauvinists and ardent Catholics had raised against his armed support of the Italian national cause in 1859, he now proposed to further the aggrandisement of the Protestant North German Power which had sought to partition France in 1815.

The clamour aroused by his leanings towards Prussia in 1864-66 was naturally far more violent, in proportion as the interests of France were more closely at stake. Prussia held the Rhine Province; and French patriots, who clung to the doctrine of the "natural frontiers"—the Ocean, Pyrenees, Alps, and Rhine—looked on her as the natural enemy. They pointed out that millions of Frenchmen had shed their blood in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars to win and to keep the Rhine boundary; and their most eloquent spokesman, M. Thiers, who had devoted his historical gifts to glorifying those great days, passionately declaimed against the policy of helping on the growth of the hereditary foe.

We have already seen the results of this strife between the pro-Prussian foibles of the Emperor and the eager prejudices of Frenchmen, whose love of oppressed and divided nations grew in proportion to their distance from France, and changed to suspicion or hatred in the case of her neighbours. In 1866, under the breath of ministerial arguments and oratorical onslaughts Napoleon III.'s policy weakly wavered, thereby giving to Bismarck's statecraft a decisive triumph all along the line. In vain did he in the latter part of that year remind the Prussian statesman of his earlier promises (always discreetly vague) of compensation for France, and throw out diplomatic feelers for Belgium, or at any rate Luxemburg[8]. In vain did M. Thiers declare in the Chamber of Deputies that France, while recognising accomplished facts in Germany, ought "firmly to declare that we will not allow them to go further" (March 14, 1867). Bismarck replied to this challenge of the French orator by publishing five days later the hitherto secret military alliances concluded with the South German States in August 1866. Thenceforth France knew that a war with Prussia would be war with a united Germany.

[8] In 1867 Bismarck's promises went so far as the framing of a secret compact with France, one article of which stated that Prussia would not object to the annexation of Belgium by France. The agreement was first published by the Times on July 25, 1870, Bismarck then divulging the secret so as to inflame public opinion against France.

In the following year the Zollverein, or German Customs' Union (which had been gradually growing since 1833), took a definitely national form in a Customs' Parliament which assembled in April 1868, thus unifying Germany for purposes of trade as well as those of war. This sharp rebuff came at a time when Napoleon's throne was tottering from the utter collapse of his Mexican expedition; when, too, he more than ever needed popular support in France for the beginnings of a more constitutional rule. Early in 1867 he sought to buy Luxemburg from Holland. This action aroused a storm of wrath in Prussia, which had the right to garrison Luxemburg; but the question was patched up by a Conference of the Powers at London, the Duchy being declared neutral territory under the guarantee of Europe; the fortifications of its capital were also to be demolished, and the Prussian garrison withdrawn. This success for French diplomacy was repeated in Italy, where the French troops supporting the Pope crushed the efforts of Garibaldi and his irregulars to capture Rome, at the sanguinary fight of Mentana (November 3, 1867). The official despatch, stating that the new French rifle, the chassepot, "had done wonders," spread jubilation through France and a sharp anti-Gallic sentiment throughout Italy.

And while Italy heaved with longings for her natural capital, popular feelings in France and North Germany made steadily for war.

Before entering upon the final stages of the dispute, it may be well to take a bird's-eye view of the condition of the chief Powers in so far as it explains their attitude towards the great struggle.

The condition of French politics was strangely complex. The Emperor had always professed that he was the elect of France, and would ultimately crown his political edifice with the corner-stone of constitutional liberty. Had he done so in the successful years 1855-61, possibly his dynasty might have taken root. He deferred action, however, until the darker years that came after 1866. In 1868 greater freedom was allowed to the Press and in the case of public meetings. The General Election of the spring of 1869 showed large gains to the Opposition, and decided the Emperor to grant to the Corps Legislatif the right of initiating laws concurrently with himself, and he declared that Ministers should be responsible to it (September 1869).

These and a few other changes marked the transition from autocracy to the "Liberal Empire." One of the champions of constitutional principles, M. Emile Ollivier, formed a Cabinet to give effect to the new policy, and the Emperor, deeming the time ripe for consolidating his power on a democratic basis, consulted the country in a plebiscite, or mass vote, primarily as to their judgment on the recent changes, but implicitly as to their confidence in the imperial system as a whole. His skill in joining together two topics that were really distinct, gained him a tactical victory. More than 7,350,000 affirmative votes were given, as against 1,572,000 negatives; while 1,900,000 voters registered no vote. This success at the polls emboldened the supporters of the Empire; and very many of them, especially, it is thought, the Empress Eugenie, believed that only one thing remained in order to place the Napoleonic dynasty on a lasting basis—that was, a successful war.

Champions of autocracy pointed out that the growth of Radicalism coincided with the period of military failures and diplomatic slights. Let Napoleon III., they said in effect, imitate the policy of his uncle, who, as long as he dazzled France by triumphs, could afford to laugh at the efforts of constitution-mongers. The big towns might prate of liberty; but what France wanted was glory and strong government. Such were their pleas: there was much in the past history of France to support them. The responsible advisers of the Emperor determined to take a stronger tone in foreign affairs, while the out-and-out Bonapartists jealously looked for any signs of official weakness so that they might undermine the Ollivier Ministry and hark back to absolutism. When two great parties in a State make national prestige a catchword of the political game, peace cannot be secure: that was the position of France in the early part of 1870[9].

[9] See Ollivier's great work, L'Empire liberal, for full details of this time.

The eve of the Franco-German War was a time of great importance for the United Kingdom. The Reform Bill of 1867 gave a great accession of power to the Liberal Party; and the General Election of November 1868 speedily led to the resignation of the Disraeli Cabinet and the accession of the Gladstone Ministry to power. This portended change in other directions than home affairs. The tradition of a spirited foreign policy died with Lord Palmerston in 1865. With the entry of John Bright to the new Cabinet peace at all costs became the dominant note of British statesmanship. There was much to be said in favour of this. England needed a time of rest in order to cope with the discontent of Ireland and the problems brought about by the growth of democracy and commercialism in the larger island. The disestablishment and partial disendowment of the Protestant Church in Ireland (July 1869), the Irish Land Act (August 1870), and the Education Act of 1870, showed the preoccupation of the Ministry for home affairs; while the readiness with which, a little later, they complied with all the wishes of the United States in the "Alabama" case, equally proclaimed their pacific intentions. England, which in 1860 had exercised so powerful an influence on the Italian national question, was for five years a factor of small account in European affairs. Far from pleasing the combatants, our neutrality annoyed both of them. The French accused England of "deserting" Napoleon III. in his time of need—a charge that has lately been revived by M. Hanotaux. To this it is only needful to reply that the French Emperor entered into alliance with us at the time of the Crimean War merely for his own objects, and allowed all friendly feeling to be ended by French threats of an invasion of England in 1858 and his shabby treatment of Italy in the matter of Savoy and Nice a year later. On his side, Bismarck also complained that our feeling for the German cause went no further than "theoretical sympathy," and that "during the war England never compromised herself so far in our favour as to endanger her friendship with France. On the contrary." These vague and enigmatic charges at bottom only express the annoyance of the combatants at their failure to draw neutrals into the strife[10].

[10] Hanotaux, Contemporary France, vol. i. p. 9 (Eng. ed.); Bismarck: his Reflections and Reminiscences, vol. ii. p. 61. The popular Prussian view about England found expression in the comic paper Kladderdatsch:—

Deutschland beziehe billige Sympathien Und Frankreich theures Kriegsmateriel.

The traditions of the United States, of course, forbade their intervention in the Franco-Prussian dispute. By an article of their political creed termed the Monroe Doctrine, they asserted their resolve not to interfere in European affairs and to prevent the interference of any strictly European State in those of the New World. It was on this rather vague doctrine that they cried "hands off" from Mexico to the French Emperor; and the abandonment of his protege, the so-called Emperor Maximilian, by French troops, brought about the death of that unhappy prince and a sensible decline in the prestige of his patron (June 1867).

Russia likewise remembered Napoleon III.'s championship of the Poles in 1863, which, however Platonic in its nature, caused the Czar some embarrassment. Moreover, King William of Prussia had soothed the Czar's feelings, ruffled by the dethroning of three German dynasties in 1866, by a skilful reply which alluded to his (King William's) desire to be of service to Russian interests elsewhere—a hint which the diplomatists of St. Petersburg remembered in 1870 to some effect.

For the rest, the Czar Alexander II. (1855-81) and his Ministers were still absorbed in the internal policy of reform, which in the sixties freed the serfs and gave Russia new judicial and local institutions, doomed to be swept away in the reaction following the murder of that enlightened ruler. The Russian Government therefore pledged itself to neutrality, but in a sense favourable to Prussia. The Czar ascribed the Crimean War to the ambition of Napoleon III., and remembered the friendship of Prussia at that time, as also in the Polish Revolt of 1863[11]. Bismarck's policy now brought its reward.

[11] See Sir H. Rumbold's Recollections of a Diplomatist (First Series), vol. ii. p. 292, for the Czar's hostility to France in 1870.

The neutrality of Russia is always a matter of the utmost moment for the Central Powers in any war on their western frontiers. Their efforts against Revolutionary France in 1792-94 failed chiefly because of the ambiguous attitude of the Czarina Catherine II.; and the collapse of Frederick William IV.'s policy in 1848-51 was due to the hostility of his eastern neighbour. In fact, the removal of anxiety about her open frontier on the east was now worth a quarter of a million of men to Prussia.

But the Czar's neutrality was in one matter distinctly friendly to his uncle, King William of Prussia. It is an open secret that unmistakable hints went from St. Petersburg to Vienna to the effect that, if Austria drew the sword for Napoleon III. she would have to reckon with an irruption of the Russians into her open Galician frontier. Probably this accounts for the conduct of the Hapsburg Power, which otherwise is inexplicable. A war of revenge against Prussia seemed to be the natural step to take. True, the Emperor Francis Joseph had small cause to like Napoleon III. The loss of Lombardy in 1859 still rankled in the breast of every patriotic Austrian; and the suspicions which that enigmatical ruler managed to arouse, prevented any definite agreement resulting from the meeting of the two sovereigns at Salzburg in 1867.

The relations of France and Austria were still in the same uncertain state before the War of 1870. The foreign policy of Austria was in the hands of Count Beust, a bitter foe of Prussia; but after the concession of constitutional rule to Hungary by the compromise (Ausgleich) of 1867, the Dual Monarchy urgently needed rest, especially as its army was undergoing many changes. The Chancellor's action was therefore clogged on all sides. Nevertheless, when the Luxemburg affair of 1867 brought France and Prussia near to war, Napoleon began to make advances to the Court of Vienna. How far they went is not known. Beust has asserted in his correspondence with the French Foreign Minister, the Duc de Gramont (formerly ambassador at Vienna), that they never were more than discussions, and that they ended in 1869 without any written agreement. The sole understanding was to the effect that the policy of both States should be friendly and pacific, Austria reserving the right to remain neutral if France were compelled to make war. The two Empires further promised not to make any engagement with a third Power without informing the other.

This statement is not very convincing. States do not usually bind themselves in the way just described, unless they have some advantageous agreement with the Power which has the first claim on their alliance. It is noteworthy, however, that the Duc de Gramont, in the correspondence alluded to above, admits that, as Ambassador and as Foreign Minister of France, he never had to claim the support of Austria in the war with Prussia[12].

[12] Memoirs of Count Beust, vol. ii. pp. 358-359 (Appendix D, Eng. edit.).

How are we to reconcile these statements with the undoubted fact that the Emperor Napoleon certainly expected help from Austria and also from Italy? The solution of the riddle seems to be that Napoleon, as also Francis Joseph and Victor Emmanuel, kept their Foreign Ministers in the dark on many questions of high policy, which they transacted either by private letters among themselves, or through military men who had their confidence. The French and Italian sovereigns certainly employed these methods, the latter because he was far more French in sympathy than his Ministers.

As far back as the year 1868, Victor Emmanuel made overtures to Napoleon with a view to alliance, the chief aim of which, from his standpoint, was to secure the evacuation of Rome by the French troops, and the gain of the Eternal City for the national cause. Prince Napoleon lent his support to this scheme, and from an article written by him we know that the two sovereigns discussed the matter almost entirely by means of confidential letters[13]. These discussions went on up to the month of June 1869. Francis Joseph, on hearing of them, urged the French Emperor to satisfy Italy, and thus pave the way for an alliance between the three Powers against Prussia. Nothing definite came of the affair, and chiefly, it would seem, owing to the influence of the Empress Eugenie and the French clerics. She is said to have remarked: "Better the Prussians in Paris than the Italian troops in Rome." The diplomatic situation therefore remained vague, though in the second week of July 1870, the Emperor again took up the threads which, with greater firmness and foresight, he might have woven into a firm design.

[13] Revue des deux Mondes for April 1, 1878.

The understanding between the three Powers advanced only in regard to military preparations. The Austrian Archduke Albrecht, the victor of Custoza, burned to avenge the defeat of Koeniggraetz, and with this aim in view visited Paris in February to March 1870. He then proposed to Napoleon an invasion of North Germany by the armies of France, Austria, and Italy. The French Emperor developed the plan by more specific overtures which he made in the month of June; but his Ministers were so far in the dark as to these military proposals that they were then suggesting the reduction of the French army by 10,000 men, while Ollivier, the Prime Minister, on June 30 declared to the French Chamber that peace had never been better assured[14].

[14] Seignobos, A Political History of Contemporary Europe, vol. ii. pp. 806-807 (Eng. edit.). Oncken, Zeitalter des Kaisers Wilhelm (vol. i. pp. 720-740), tries to prove that there was a deep conspiracy against Prussia. I am not convinced by his evidence.

And yet on that same day General Lebrun, aide-de-camp to the Emperor, was drawing up at Paris a confidential report of the mission with which he had lately been entrusted to the Austrian military authorities. From that report we take the following particulars. On arriving at Vienna, he had three private interviews with the Archduke Albrecht, and set before him the desirability of a joint invasion of North Germany in the autumn of that year. To this the Archduke demurred, on the ground that such a campaign ought to begin in the spring if the full fruits of victory were to be gathered in before the short days came. Austria and Italy, he said, could not place adequate forces in the field in less than six weeks owing to lack of railways[15].

[15] Souvenirs militaires, by General B.L.J. Lebrun (Paris 1895), pp. 95-148.

Developing his own views, the Archduke then suggested that it would be desirable for France to undertake the war against North Germany not later than the middle of March 1871, Austria and Italy at the same time beginning their mobilisations, though not declaring war until their armies were ready at the end of six weeks. Two French armies should in the meantime cross the Rhine in order to sever the South Germans from the Confederation of the North, one of them marching towards Nuremberg, where it would be joined by the western army of Austria and the Italian forces sent through Tyrol. The other Austrian army would then invade Saxony or Lusatia in order to strike at Berlin. He estimated the forces of the States hostile to Prussia as follows:—

Men. Horses. Cannon. - + France 309,000 35,000 972 Austria (exclusive of reserve) 360,000 27,000 1128 Italy 68,000 5000 180 Denmark 260,000 (?) 2000 72 + -

He thus reckoned the forces of the two German Confederations:—

- + Men. Horses. Cannon. North 377,000 48,000 1284 South 97,000 10,000 288 + -

but the support of the latter might be hoped for. Lebrun again urged the desirability of a campaign in the autumn, but the Archduke repeated that it must begin in the spring. In that condition, as in his earlier statement that France must declare war first, while her allies prepared for war, we may discern a deep-rooted distrust of Napoleon III.

On June 14 the Archduke introduced Lebrun to the Emperor Francis Joseph, who informed him that he wanted peace; but, he added, "if I make war, I must be forced to it." In case of war Prussia might exploit the national German sentiment existing in South Germany and Austria. He concluded with these words, "But if the Emperor Napoleon, compelled to accept or to declare war, came with his armies into South Germany, not as an enemy but as a liberator, I should be forced on my side to declare that I [would] make common cause with him. In the eyes of my people I could do no other than join my armies to those of France. That is what I pray you to say for me to the Emperor Napoleon; I hope that he will see, as I do, my situation both in home and foreign affairs." Such was the report which Lebrun drew up for Napoleon III. on June 30. It certainly led that sovereign to believe in the probability of Austrian help in the spring of 1871, but not before that time.

The question now arises whether Bismarck was aware of these proposals. If warlike counsels prevailed at Vienna, it is probable that some preparations would be made, and the secret may have leaked out in this way, or possibly through the Hungarian administration. In any case, Bismarck knew that the Austrian chancellor, Count Beust, thirsted for revenge for the events of 1866[16]. If he heard any whispers of an approaching league against Prussia, he would naturally see the advantage of pressing on war at once, before Austria and Italy were ready to enter the lists. Probably in this fact will be found one explanation of the origin of the Franco-German War.

[Footnote 16: Bismarck: his Reflections and Reminiscences, vol. ii. p. 58.]

Before adverting to the proximate cause of the rupture, we may note that Beust's despatch of July 11, 1870, to Prince Metternich, Austrian ambassador at Paris, displayed genuine fear lest France should rush blindly into war with Prussia; and he charged Metternich tactfully to warn the French Government against such a course of action, which would "be contrary to all that we have agreed upon. . . . Even if we wished, we could not suddenly equip a respectably large force. . . . Our services are gained to a certain extent [by France]; but we shall not go further unless events carry us on; and we do not dream of plunging into war because it might suit France to do so."

Again, however, the military men seem to have pushed on the diplomatists. The Archduke Albrecht and Count Vitzthum went to Paris charged with some promises of support to France in case of war. Thereafter, Count Beust gave the assurance at Vienna that the Austrians would be "faithful to our engagements, as they have been recorded in the letters exchanged last year between the two sovereigns. We consider the cause of France as ours, and we will contribute to the success of her arms to the utmost of our power[17]."

[Footnote 17: Memoirs of Count Beust, vol. ii. p. 359. The Present Position of European Politics p. 366 (1887). By the author of Greater Britain.]

In the midst of this maze of cross-purposes this much is clear: that both Emperors had gone to work behind the backs of their Ministers, and that the military chiefs of France and Austria brought their States to the brink of war while their Ministers and diplomatists were unaware of the nearness of danger.

As we have seen, King Victor Emmanuel II. longed to draw the sword for Napoleon III., whose help to Italy in 1859-60 he so curiously overrated. Fortunately for Italy, his Ministers took a more practical view of the situation; but probably they too would have made common cause with France had they received a definite promise of the withdrawal of French troops from Rome and the satisfaction of Italian desires for the Eternal City as the national capital. This promise, even after the outbreak of war, the French Emperor declined to give, though his cousin, Prince Napoleon, urged him vehemently to give way on that point[18].

[Footnote 18: See the Rev. des deux Mondes for April 1, 1878, and "Chronique" of the Revue d'Histoire diplomatique for 1905, p. 298; also W.H. Stillman, The Union of Italy, 1815-1895, p. 348.]

In truth, the Emperor could not well give way. An Oecumenical Council sat at Rome from December 1869 to July 1870; its Ultramontane tendencies were throughout strongly marked, as against the "Old Catholic" views; and it was a foregone conclusion that the Council would vote the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope in matters of religion—as it did on the day before France declared war against Prussia. How, then, could the Emperor, the "eldest son of the Church," as French monarchs have proudly styled themselves, bargain away Rome to the Italian Government, already stained by sacrilege, when this crowning aureole of grace was about to encircle the visible Head of the Church? There was no escape from the dilemma. Either Napoleon must go into war with shouts of "Judas" hurled at him by all pious Roman Catholics; or he must try his fortunes without the much-coveted help of Austria and Italy. He chose the latter alternative, largely, it would seem, owing to the influence of his vehemently Catholic Empress[19]. After the first defeats he sought to open negotiations, but then it was too late. Prince Napoleon went to Florence and arrived there on August 20; but his utmost efforts failed to move the Italian Cabinet from neutrality.

[Footnote 19: For the relations of France to the Vatican, see Histoire du second Empire, by M. De la Gorce, vol. vi. (Paris, 1903); also Histoire Contemporaine (i.e. of France in 1869-1875), by M. Samuel Denis, 4 vols. The Empress Eugenie once said that she was "deux fois Catholique," as a Spaniard and as French Empress. (Sir M.K. Grant Duff, Notes from a Diary, 1851-1872, vol. i. p. 125.)]

Even this brief survey of international relations shows that Napoleon III. was a source of weakness to France. Having seized on power by perfidious means, he throughout his whole reign strove to dazzle the French by a series of adventures, which indeed pleased the Parisians for the time, but at the cost of lasting distrust among the Powers. Generous in his aims, he at first befriended the German and Italian national movements, but forfeited all the fruits of those actions by his pettifogging conduct about Savoy and Nice, the Rhineland and Belgium; while his final efforts to please French clericals and Chauvinists[20] by supporting the Pope at Rome, lost him the support of States that might have retrieved the earlier blunders. In brief, by helping on the nationalists of North Germany and Italy he offended French public opinion; and his belated and spasmodic efforts to regain popularity at home aroused against him the distrust of all the Powers. Their feelings about him may be summarised in the mot of a diplomatist, "Scratch the Emperor and you will find the political refugee."

[Footnote 20: Chauvinist is a term corresponding to our "Jingo." It is derived from a man named Chauvin, who lauded Napoleon I. and French glory to the skies.]

How different were the careers of Napoleon III. and of Bismarck! By resolutely keeping before him the national aim, and that only, the Prussian statesman had reduced the tangle of German affairs to simplicity and now made ready for the crowning work of all. In his Reminiscences he avows his belief, as early as 1866, "that a war with France would succeed the war with Austria lay in the logic of history"; and again, "I did not doubt that a Franco-German War must take place before the construction of a United Germany could take place[21]." War would doubtless have broken out in 1867 over the Luxemburg question, had he not seen the need of delay for strengthening the bonds of union with South Germany and assuring the increase of the armies of the Fatherland by the adoption of Prussian methods; or, as he phrased it, "each year's postponement of the war would add 100,000 trained soldiers to our army[22]." In 1870 little was to be gained by delay. In fact, the unionist movement in Germany then showed ominous signs of slackening. In the South the Parliaments opposed any further approach to union with the North; and the voting of the military budget in the North for that year was likely to lead to strong opposition in the interests of the overtaxed people. A war might solve the unionist problem which was insoluble in time of peace; and a casus belli was at hand.

[Footnote 21: Bismarck, Reminiscences, vol. ii. pp. 41, 57 (Eng. edit.).]

[Footnote 22: Ib. p. 58.]

Early in July 1870, the news leaked out that Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern was the officially accepted candidate for the throne of Spain, left vacant since the revolution which drove Queen Isabella into exile in 1868[23]. At once a thrill of rage shot through France; and the Duc de Gramont, Foreign Minister of the new Ollivier Ministry, gave expression to the prevailing feeling in his answer to a question on the subject in the Chamber of Deputies (July 6):—

[Footnote 23: The ex-queen Isabella died in Paris in April 1904.]

We do not think that respect for the rights of a neighbouring people [Spain] obliges us to allow an alien Power [Prussia], by placing one of its princes on the throne of Charles V., to succeed in upsetting to our disadvantage the present equilibrium of forces in Europe, and imperil the interests and honour of France. We have the firm hope that this eventuality will not be realised. To hinder it, we count both on the wisdom of the German people and on the friendship of the Spanish people. If that should not be so, strong in your support and in that of the nation, we shall know how to fulfil our duty without hesitation and without weakness[24].

[Footnote 24: Sorel, Hist. diplomatique de la Guerre Franco-Allemande, vol. i. p. 77.]

The opening phrases were inaccurate. The prince in question was Prince Leopold of the Swabian and Roman Catholic branch of the Hohenzollern family, who, as the Duc de Gramont knew, could by no possibility recall the days when Charles V. reigned as Emperor in Germany and monarch in Spain. This misstatement showed the intention of the French Ministry to throw down the glove to Prussia—as is also clear from this statement in Gramont's despatch of July 10 to Benedetti: "If the King will not advise the Prince of Hohenzollern to withdraw, well, it is war forthwith, and in a few days we are at the Rhine[25]."

[Footnote 25: Benedetti, Ma Mission en Prusse, p.34. This work contains the French despatches on the whole affair.]

Nevertheless, those who were behind the scenes had just cause for anger against Bismarck. The revelations of Benedetti, French ambassador at Berlin, as well as the Memoirs of the King of Roumania (brother to Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern) leave no doubt that the candidature of the latter was privately and unofficially mooted in 1868, and again in the spring of 1869 through a Prussian diplomatist, Werthern, and that it met with no encouragement whatever from the Prussian monarch or the prince himself. But early in 1870 it was renewed in an official manner by the provisional Government of Spain, and (as seems certain) at the instigation of Bismarck, who, in May-June, succeeded in overcoming the reluctance of the prince and of King William. Bismarck even sought to hurry the matter through the Spanish Cortes so as to commit Spain to the plan; but this failed owing to the misinterpretation of a ciphered telegram from Berlin at Madrid[26].

[Footnote 26: In a recent work, Kaiser Wilhelm und die Begruendung des Reichs, 1866-1871, Dr. Lorenz tries to absolve Bismarck from complicity in these intrigues, but without success. See Reminiscences of the King of Roumania (edited by S. Whitman), pp. 70, 86-87, 92-95; also Headlam's Bismarck, p. 327.]

Such was the state of the case when the affair became known to the Ollivier Ministry. Though not aware, seemingly, of all these details, Napoleon's advisers were justified in treating the matter, not as a private affair between the Hohenzollerns and Spain (as Germans then maintained it was) but as an attempt of the Prussian Government to place on the Spanish throne a prince who could not but be friendly to the North German Power. In fact, the French saw in it a challenge to war; and putting together all the facts as now known, we must pronounce that they were almost certainly right. Bismarck undoubtedly wanted war; and it is impossible to think that he did not intend to use this candidature as a means of exasperating the French. The man who afterwards declared that, at the beginning of the Danish disputes in 1863, he made up his mind to have Schleswig-Holstein for Prussia[27], certainly saw in the Hohenzollern candidature a step towards a Prusso-Spanish alliance or a war with France that might cement German unity.

[Footnote 27: Busch, Our Chancellor, vol. i. p. 367.]

In any case, that was the outcome of events. The French papers at once declaimed against the candidature in a way that aroused no less passion on the other side of the Rhine. For a brief space, however, matters seemed to be smoothed over by the calm good sense of the Prussian monarch and his nephew. The King was then at Ems, taking the waters, when Benedetti, the French ambassador, waited on him and pressed him most urgently to request Prince Leopold to withdraw from the candidature to the Spanish Crown. This the King declined to do in the way that was pointed out to him, rightly considering that such a course would play into the hands of the French by lowering his own dignity and the prestige of Prussia. Moreover, he, rather illogically, held the whole matter to be primarily one that affected the Hohenzollern family and Spain. The young prince, however, on hearing of the drift of events, solved the problem by declaring his intention not to accept the Crown of Spain (July 12). The action was spontaneous, emanating from Prince Leopold and his father Prince Antony, not from the Prussian monarch, though, on hearing of their decision, he informed Benedetti that he entirely approved it.

If the French Government had really wished for peace, it would have let the matter end there. But it did not do so. The extreme Bonapartists—plus royalistes que le roi—all along wished to gain prestige for their sovereign by inflicting an open humiliation on King William and through him on Prussia. They were angry that he had evaded the snare, and now brought pressure to bear on the Ministry, especially the Duc de Gramont, so that at 7 P.M. of that same day (July 12) he sent a telegram to Benedetti at Ems directing him to see King William and press him to declare that he "would not again authorise this candidature." The Minister added: "The effervescence of spirits [at Paris] is such that we do not know whether we shall succeed in mastering it." This was true. Paris was almost beside herself. As M. Sorel says: "The warm July evening drove into the streets a populace greedy of shows and excitements, whose imagination was spoiled by the custom of political quackery, for whom war was but a drama and history a romance[28]." Such was the impulse which led to Gramont's new demand, and it was made in spite of the remonstrances of the British ambassador, Lord Lyons.

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