THE DUEL BETWEEN FRANCE AND GERMANY
REPRINTED FROM "ADDRESSES ON WAR"
BY CHARLES SUMNER
THE DUEL BETWEEN FRANCE AND GERMANY, WITH ITS LESSON TO CIVILIZATION.
LECTURE IN THE MUSIC HALL, BOSTON, OCTOBER 26, 1870.
"When kings make war, No law betwixt two sovereigns can decide, But that of arms, where Fortune is the judge, Soldiers the lawyers, and the Bar the field."
DEYDEN, Love Triumphant, Act I. Sc. 1.
MR. PRESIDENT,—I am to speak of the Duel between France and Germany, with its Lesson to Civilization. In calling the terrible war now waging a Duel, I might content myself with classical authority, Duellum being a well-known Latin word for War. The historian Livy makes a Roman declare that affairs are to be settled "by a pure and pious duel"; [Footnote: "Puro pioqne duello."—Historie, Lib. I. cap. 32.] the dramatist Plautus has a character in one of his plays who obtains great riches "by the duelling art," [Footnote: "Arte duellica."—Epidicus, Act. III. Sc. iv. 14.] meaning the art of war; and Horace, the exquisite master of language, hails the age of Augustus with the Temple of Janus closed and "free from duels," [Footnote: "Vacuum duellis."—Carmina, Lib, IV. xv. 8.] meaning at peace,—for then only was that famous temple shut.
WAR UNDER THE LAW OF NATIONS A DUEL.
But no classical authority is needed for this designation. War, as conducted under International Law, between two organized nations, is in all respects a duel, according to the just signification of this word,—differing from that between two individuals only in the number of combatants. The variance is of proportion merely, each nation being an individual who appeals to the sword as Arbiter; and in each case the combat is subject to rules constituting a code by which the two parties are bound. For long years before civilization prevailed, the code governing the duel between individuals was as fixed and minute as that which governs the larger duel between nations, and the duel itself was simply a mode of deciding questions between individuals. In presenting this comparison I expose myself to criticism only from those who have not considered this interesting subject in the light of history and of reason. The parallel is complete. Modern war is the duel of the Dark Ages, magnified, amplified, extended so as to embrace nations; nor is it any less a duel because the combat is quickened and sustained by the energies of self-defence, or because, when a champion falls and lies on the ground, he is brutally treated. An authentic instance illustrates such a duel; and I bring before you the very pink of chivalry, the Chevalier Bayard, "the knight without fear and without reproach," who, after combat in a chosen field, succeeded by a feint in driving his weapon four fingers deep into the throat of his adversary, and then, rolling with him, gasping and struggling, on the ground, thrust his dagger into the nostrils of the fallen victim, exclaiming, "Surrender, or you are a dead man!"—a speech which seemed superfluous; for the second cried out, "He is dead already; you have conquered." Then did Bayard, brightest among the Sons of War, drag his dead enemy from the field, crying, "Have I done enough?" [Footnote: La tresjoyeuse, plaisante et recreative Hystoire, composee par le Loyal Serviteur, des Faiz, Gestes, Triumphes et Prouesses du Bon Chevalier sans Paour et sans Reprouche, le Gentil Seigneur de Bayart: Petitot, Collection des Memoires relatifs a l'Histoire de France, Tom. XV. pp. 241, 242.] Now, because the brave knight saw fit to do these things, the combat was not changed in original character. It was a duel at the beginning and at the end. Indeed, the brutality with which it closed was the natural incident of a duel. A combat once begun opens the way to violence, and the conqueror too often surrenders to the Evil Spirit, as Bayard in his unworthy barbarism.
In likening war between nations to the duel, I follow not only reason, but authority also. No better lawyer can be named in the long history of the English bar than John Selden, whose learning was equalled only by his large intelligence. In those conversations which under the name of "Table-Talk" continue still to instruct, the wise counsellor, after saying that the Church allowed the duel anciently, and that in the public liturgies there were prayers appointed for duellists to say, keenly inquires, "But whether is this lawful?" And then he answers, "If you grant any war lawful, I make no doubt but to convince it." [Footnote: Table- Talk, ed. Singer, London, 1856, p. 47,—Duel.] Selden regarded the simple duel and the larger war as governed by the same rule. Of course the exercise of force in the suppression of rebellion, or in the maintenance of laws, stands on a different principle, being in its nature a constabulary proceeding, which cannot be confounded with the duel. But my object is not to question the lawfulness of war; I would simply present an image, enabling you to see the existing war in its true character.
The duel in its simplest form is between two individuals. In early ages it was known sometimes as the Judicial Combat, and sometimes as Trial by Battle. Not only points of honor, but titles to land, grave questions of law, and even the subtilties of theology, were referred to this arbitrament, [Footnote: Robertson, History of the Reign of Charles V.: View of the Progress of Society in Europe, Section I. Note XXII.]—just as now kindred issues between nations are referred to Trial by Battle; and the early rules governing the duel are reproduced in the Laws of War established by nations to govern the great Trial by Battle. Ascending from the individual to corporations, guilds, villages, towns, counties, provinces, we find that for a long period each of these bodies exercised what was called "the Right of War." The history of France and Germany shows how reluctantly this mode of trial yielded to the forms of reason and order. France, earlier than Germany, ordained "Trial by Proofs," and eliminated the duel from judicial proceedings, this important step being followed by the gradual amalgamation of discordant provinces in the powerful unity of the Nation,——so that Brittany and Normandy, Franche-Comte and Burgundy, Provence and Dauphiny, Gascony and Languedoc, with the rest, became the United States of France, or, if you please, France. In Germany the change was slower; and here the duel exhibits its most curious instances. Not only feudal chiefs, but associations of tradesmen and of domestics sent defiance to each other, and sometimes to whole cities, on pretences trivial as those which have been the occasion of defiance from nation to nation. There still remain to us Declarations of War by a Lord of Frauenstein against the free city of Frankfort, because a young lady of the city refused to dance with his uncle,—by the baker and domestics of the Margrave of Baden against Esslingen, Reutlingen, and other imperial cities,—by the baker of the Count Palatine Louis against the cities of Augsburg, Ulm, and Rottweil,—by the shoe-blacks of the University of Leipsic against the provost and other members,—and by the cook of Eppstein, with his scullions, dairy-maids, and dish-washers, against Otho, Count of Solms. [Footnote: Coxe, History of the House of Austria. (London, 1820) Ch. XIX., Vol. I. p. 378.] This prevalence of the duel aroused the Emperor Maximilian, who at the Diet of Worms put forth an ordinance abolishing the right or liberty of Private War, and instituting a Supreme Tribunal for the determination of controversies without appeal to the duel, and the whole long list of duellists, whether corporate or individual, including nobles, bakers, shoe-blacks, and cooks, was brought under its pacific rule. Unhappily the beneficent reform stopped half-way, and here Germany was less fortunate than France. The great provinces were left in the enjoyment of a barbarous independence, with the "right" to fight each other. The duel continued their established arbiter, until at last, in 1815, by the Act of Union constituting the Confederation or United States of Germany, each sovereignty gave up the right of war with its confederates, setting an example to the larger nations. The terms of this important stipulation, marking a stage in German unity, were as follows:—
"The members of the Confederation further bind themselves under no pretext to make war upon one another, or to pursue their differences by force of arms, but to submit them to the Diet." [Footnote: Acte pour la Constitution federative de l'Allemagne du 8 Juin 1815, Art. 11: Archives Diplomatiques, (Stuttgart et Tubingen, 1821-36,) Vol. IV. p. 15.]
Better words could not be found for the United States of Europe, in the establishment of that Great Era when the Duel shall cease to be the recognized Arbiter of Nations.
With this exposition, which I hope is not too long, it is easy to see how completely a war between two nations is a duel,—and, yet further, how essential it is to that assured peace which civilization requires, that the duel, which is no longer tolerated as arbiter between individuals, between towns, between counties, between provinces, should cease to be tolerated as such between nations. Take our own country, for instance. In a controversy between towns, the local law provides a judicial tribunal; so also in a controversy between counties. Ascending still higher, suppose a controversy between two States of our Union; the National Constitution establishes a judicial tribunal, being the Supreme Court of the United States. But at the next stage there is a change. Let the controversy arise between two nations, and the Supreme Law, which is the Law of Nations, establishes, not a judicial tribunal, but the duel, as arbiter. What is true of our country is true of other countries where civilization has a foothold, and especially of France and Germany. The duel, though abolished as arbiter at home, is continued as arbiter abroad. And since it is recognized by International Law and subjected to a code, it is in all respects an Institution. War is an institution sanctioned by International Law, as Slavery, wherever it exists, is an institution sanctioned by Municipal Law. But this institution is nothing but the duel of the Dark Ages, prolonged into this generation, and showing itself in portentous barbarism.
WHY THIS PARALLEL NOW?
Therefore am I right, when I call the existing combat between France and Germany a Duel. I beg you to believe that I do this with no idle purpose of illustration or criticism, but because I would prepare the way for a proper comprehension of the remedy to be applied. How can this terrible controversy be adjusted? I see no practical method, which shall reconcile the sensibilities of France with the guaranties due to Germany, short of a radical change in the War System itself. That Security for the Future which Germany may justly exact can be obtained in no way so well as by the disarmament of France, to be followed naturally by the disarmament of other nations, and the substitution of some peaceful tribunal for the existing Trial by Battle. Any dismemberment, or curtailment of territory, will be poor and inadequate; for it will leave behind a perpetual sting. Something better must be done.
SUDDENNESS OF THIS WAR.
Never in history has so great a calamity descended so suddenly upon the Human Family, unless we except the earthquake toppling down cities and submersing a whole coast in a single night. But how small all that has ensued from any such convulsion, compared with the desolation and destruction already produced by this war! From the first murmur to the outbreak was a brief moment of time, as between the flash of lightning and the bursting of the thunder.
At the beginning of July there was peace without suspicion of interruption. The Legislative Body had just discussed a proposition for the reduction of the annual Army Contingent. At Berlin the Parliament was not in session. Count Bismarck was at his country home in Pomerania, the King enjoying himself at Ems. How sudden and unexpected the change will appear from an illustrative circumstance. M. Prevost-Paradol, of rare talent and unhappy destiny, newly appointed Minister to the United States, embarked at Havre on the 1st of July, and reached Washington on the morning of the 14th of July. He assured me that when he left France there was no talk or thought of war. During his brief summer voyage the whole startling event had begun and culminated. Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen being invited to become candidate for the throne of Spain, France promptly sent her defiance to Prussia, followed a few days later by formal Declaration of War. The Minister was oppressed by the grave tidings coming upon him so unprepared, and sought relief in self- slaughter, being the first victim of the war. Everything moved with a rapidity borrowed from the new forces supplied by human invention, and the Gates of War swung wide open.
CHALLENGE TO PRUSSIA.
A few incidents exhibit this movement. It was on the 30th of June, while discussing the proposed reduction of the Army, that Emile Ollivier, the Prime-Minister, said openly: "The Government has no kind of disquietude; at no epoch has the maintenance of peace been more assured; on whatever side you look, you see no irritating question under discussion." [Footnote: Journal Officiel du Soir, 3 Juillet 1870.] In the same debate, Gamier-Pages, the consistent Republican, and now a member of the Provisional Government, after asking, "Why these armaments?" cried out: "Disarm, without waiting for others: this is practical. Let the people be relieved from the taxes which crush them, and from the heaviest of all, the tax of blood." [Footnote: Journal Official du Soir, 2 Juillet 1870.] The candidature of Prince Leopold seems to have become known at Paris on the 5th of July. On the next day the Duc de Gramont, of a family famous in scandalous history, Minister of Foreign Affairs, hurries to the tribune with defiance on his lips. After declaring for the Cabinet that no foreign power could be suffered, by placing one of its princes on the throne of Charles the Fifth, to derange the balance of power in Europe, and put in peril the interests and the honor of France, he concludes by saying, in ominous words: "Strong in your support, Gentlemen, and in that of the nation, we shall know how to do our duty without hesitation and without weakness." [Footnote: Ibid., 8 Juillet.]
This defiance was followed by what is called in the report, "general and prolonged movement,—repeated applause"; and here was the first stage in the duel. Its character was recognized at once in the Chamber. Gamier-Pages exclaimed, in words worthy of memory: "It is dynastic questions which trouble the peace of Europe. The people have only reason to love and aid each other." [Footnote: Ibid.] Though short, better than many long speeches. Cremieux, an associate in the Provisional Government of 1848, insisted that the utterance of the Minister was "a menace of war"; and Emmanuel Arago, son of the great Republican astronomer and mathematician, said that the Minister "had declared war." [Footnote: Ibid.]
These patriotic representatives were not mistaken. The speech made peace difficult, if not impossible. It was a challenge to Prussia.
Europe watched with dismay as the gauntlet was thus rudely flung down, while on this side of the Atlantic, where France and Germany commingle in the enjoyment of our equal citizenship, the interest was intense. Morning and evening the telegraph made us all partakers of the hopes and fears agitating the world. Too soon it was apparent that the exigence of France would not be satisfied, while already her preparations for war were undisguised. At all the naval stations, from Toulon to Cherbourg, the greatest activity prevailed. Marshal MacMahon was recalled from Algeria, and transports were made ready to bring back the troops from that colony.
Meanwhile the candidature of Prince Leopold was renounced by him. But this was not enough. The King of Prussia was asked to promise that it should in no event ever be renewed,—which he declined to do, reserving to himself the liberty of consulting circumstances. This requirement was the more offensive, inasmuch as it was addressed exclusively to Prussia, while nothing was said to Spain, the principal in the business. Then ensued an incident proper for comedy, if it had not become the declared cause of tragedy. The French Ambassador, Count Benedetti, who, on intelligence of the candidature, had followed the King to Ems, his favorite watering- place, and there in successive interviews pressed him to order its withdrawal, now, on its voluntary renunciation, proceeding to urge the new demand, and after an extended conversation, and notwithstanding its decided refusal, seeking, nevertheless, another audience the same day on this subject, his Majesty, with perfect politeness, sent him word by an adjutant in attendance, that he had no other answer to make than the one already given: and this refusal to receive the Ambassador was promptly communicated by telegraph, for the information especially of the different German governments. [Footnote: Bismarck to Bernstorff, July 19, 1870, with Inclosures: Parliamentary Papers, 1870, Vol. LXX.,—Franco-Prussian War, No. 3, pp. 5-8. Gerolt to Fish, August 11, 1870, with Inclosures: Executive Documents, 41st Cong. 3d Sess., H. of R., Vol. I. No. 1, Part 1,—Foreign Relations, pp. 219-221. The reader will notice that the copy of the Telegram in this latter volume is the paper on p. 221, with the erroneous heading, "Count Bismarck to Baron Gerolt."]
PRETEXT OF THE TELEGRAM.
These simple facts, insufficient for the slightest quarrel, intolerable in the pettiness of the issue disclosed, and monstrous as reason for war between two civilized nations, became the welcome pretext. Swiftly, and with ill-disguised alacrity, the French Cabinet took the next step in the duel. On the 15th of July the Prime-Minister read from the tribune a manifesto setting forth the griefs of France,—being, first, the refusal of the Prussian King to promise for the future, and, secondly, his refusal to receive the French Ambassador, with the communication of this refusal, as was alleged, "officially to the Cabinets of Europe," which was a mistaken allegation: [Footnote: Bismarck to Bernstorff, July 18, and to Gerolt, July 19, 1870: Parliamentary Papers and Executive Documents, Inclosures, ubi supra.] and the paper concludes by announcing that since the preceding day the Government had called in the reserves, and that they would immediately take the measures necessary to secure the interests, the safety, and the honor of France. [Footnote: Journal Officiel du Soir, 17 Juillet 1870.] This was war.
Some there were who saw the fearful calamity, the ghastly crime, then and there initiated. The scene that ensued belongs to this painful record. The paper announcing war was followed by prolonged applause. The Prime-Minister added soon after in debate, that he accepted the responsibility with "a light heart." [Footnote: "De ce jour commence pour les ministres mes collegues, et pour moi, une grande responsibilite. ["Oui!" gauche.] Nous l'acceptons, le coeur leger."] Not all were in this mood. Esquiros, the Republican, cried from his seat, in momentous words, "You have a light heart, and the blood of nations is about to flow!" To the apology of the Prime-Minister, "that in the discharge of a duty the heart is not troubled," Jules Favre, the Republican leader, of acknowledged moderation and ability, flashed forth, "When the discharge of this duty involves the slaughter of two nations, one may well have the heart troubled!" Beyond these declarations, giving utterance to the natural sentiments of humanity, was the positive objection, most forcibly presented by Thiers, so famous in the Chamber and in literature, "that the satisfaction due to France had been accorded her—-that Prussia had expiated by a check the grave fault she had committed,"—that France had prevailed in substance, and all that remained was "a question of form," "a question of susceptibility," "questions of etiquette." The experienced statesman asked for the dispatches. Then came a confession. The Prime-Minister replied, that he had "nothing to communicate,—that, in the true sense of the term, there had been no dispatches,—that there were only verbal communications gathered up in reports, which, according to diplomatic usage, are not communicated." Here Emmanuel Arago interrupted: "It is on these reports that you make war!" The Prime-Minister proceeded to read two brief telegrams from Count Benedetti at Ems, when De Choiseul very justly exclaimed: "We cannot make war on that ground; it is impossible!" Others cried out from their seats,—Garnier Pages saying, "These are phrases"; Emmanuel Arago protesting, "On this the civilized world will pronounce you wrong"; to which Jules Favre added, "Unhappily, true!" Thiers and Jules Favre, with vigorous eloquence, charged the war upon the Cabinet: Thiers declaring, "I regret to be obliged to say that we have war by the fault of the Cabinet"; Jules Favre alleging, "If we have war, it is thanks to the politics of the Cabinet;....from the exposition that has been made, so far as the general interests of the two countries are concerned, there is no avowable motive for war." Girault exclaimed, in similar spirit: "We would be among the first to come forward in a war for the country, but we do not wish to come forward in a dynastic and aggressive war." The Duc de Gramont, who on the 6th of July flung down the gauntlet, spoke once more for the Cabinet, stating solemnly, what was not the fact, that the Prussian Government had communicated to all the Cabinets of Europe the refusal to receive the French Ambassador, and then on this misstatement ejaculating: "It is an outrage on the Emperor and on France; and if, by impossibility, there were found in my country a Chamber to bear and tolerate it, I would not remain five minutes Minister of Foreign Affairs." In our country we have seen how the Southern heart was fired; so also was fired the heart of Franco. The Duke descended from the tribune amidst prolonged applause, with cries of "Bravo!"—and at his seat (so says the report) "received numerous felicitations." Such was the atmosphere of the Chamber at this eventful moment. The orators of the Opposition, pleading for delay in the interest of peace, were stifled; and when Gambetta, the young and fearless Republican, made himself heard in calling for the text of the dispatch communicating the refusal to receive the Ambassador, to the end that the Chamber, France, and all Europe might judge of its character, he was answered by the Prime-Minister with the taunt that "for the first time in a French Assembly there were such difficulties on a certain side in explaining a question of honor." Such was the case as presented by the Prime-Minister, and on this question of honor he accepted war "with a light heart." Better say, with no heart at all;—for who so could find in this condition of things sufficient reason for war was without heart. [Footnote: For the full debate, see the Journal Officid du Soir, 17 Juillet 1870, and Supplement.]
During these brief days of solicitude, from the 6th to the 15th of July, England made an unavailing effort for peace. Lord Lyons was indefatigable; and he was sustained at home by Lord Granville, who as a last resort reminded the two parties of the stipulation at the Congress of Paris, which they had accepted, in favor of Arbitration as a substitute for War, and asked them to accept the good offices of some friendly power. [Footnote: Earl Granville to Lords Lyons and Loftus, July 15, 1870,—Correspondence respecting the Negotiations preliminary to the War between France and Prussia, p. 35: Parliamentary Papers, 1870, Vol. LXX.] This most reasonable proposition was rejected by the French Minister, who gave new point to the French case by charging that Prussia "had chosen to declare that France had been affronted in the person of her Ambassador," and then positively insisting that "it was this boast which was the gravamen of the offence." Capping the climax of barbarous absurdity, the French Minister did not hesitate to announce that this "constituted an insult which no nation of any spirit could brook, and rendered it, much to the regret of the French Government, impossible to take into consideration the mode of settling the original matter in dispute which was recommended by her Majesty's Government." [Footnote: Lord Lyons to Earl Granville, July 15, 1870,—Correspondence respecting the Negotiations preliminary to the War between France and Prussia, pp. 39, 40: Parliamentary Papers, 1870, Vol. LXX.] Thus was peaceful Arbitration repelled. All honor to the English Government for proposing it!
The famous telegram put forward by France as the gravamen, or chief offence, was not communicated to the Chamber. The Prime- Minister, though hard-pressed, held it back. Was it from conviction of its too trivial character? But it is not lost to the history of the duel. This telegram, with something of the brevity peculiar to telegraphic dispatches, merely reports the refusal to see the French Ambassador, without one word of affront or boast. It reports the fact, and nothing else; and it is understood that the refusal was only when this functionary presented himself a second time in one day on the same business. Considering the interests involved, it would have been better, had the King seen him as many times as he chose to call; yet the refusal was not unnatural. The perfect courtesy of his Majesty on this occasion furnished no cause of complaint. All that remained for pretext was the telegram. [Footnote: See references, ante, p. 19, Note 1. For this telegram in the original, see Aegidi und Klauhold, Staatsarchiv, (Hamburg, 1870,) 19 Band, S. 44, No. 1033.]
FORMAL DECLARATION OF WAR.
The scene in the Legislative Body was followed by the instant introduction of bills making additional appropriations for the Army and Navy, calling out the National Guard, and authorizing volunteers for the war. This last proposition was commended by the observation that in France there were a great many young people liking powder, but not liking barracks, who would in this way be suited; and this was received with applause. [Footnote: Journal Officiel du Soir, 17 Juillet 1870.] On the 18th of July there was a further appropriation to the extent of 500 million francs,—-440 millions being for the Army, and 60 for the Navy; and an increase from 150 to 500 millions Treasury notes was authorized. [Footnote: Ibid., 20 Juillet.] On the 20th of July the Duc de Gramont appeared once more in the tribune, and made the following speech:—-
"Conformably to customary rules, and by order of the Emperor, I have invited the Charge d'Affaires of France to notify the Berlin Cabinet of our resolution to seek by arms the guaranties which we have not been able to obtain by discussion. This step has been taken, and I have the honor of making known to the Legislative Body that in consequence a state of war exists between France and Prussia, beginning the 19th of July. This declaration applies equally to the allies of Prussia who lend her the cooperation of their arms against us." [Footnote: Ibid., 23 Juillet.]
Here the French Minister played the part of trumpeter in the duel, making proclamation before his champion rode forward. According to the statement of Count Bismarck, made to the Parliament at Berlin, this formal Declaration of War was the solitary official communication from France in this whole transaction, being the first and only note since the candidature of Prince Leopold. [Footnote: Substance of Speech of Bismarck to the Reichstag, [July 20, 1870,] explanatory of Documents relating to the Declaration of War,—Franco-Prussian War, No. 3, p. 29: Parliamentary Papers, 1870, Vol. LXX. Discours du Comte de Bismarck am Reichstag, le 20 Juillet 1870: Angeberg, [Chodzko,] Recueil des Traites, etc., concernant la Guerre Franco-Allemande, Tom. I. p. 215.] How swift this madness will be seen in a few dates. On the 6th of July was uttered the first defiance from the French tribune; on the 15th of July an exposition of the griefs of France, in the nature of a Declaration of War, with a demand for men and money; on the 19th of July a state of war was declared to exist.
Firmly, but in becoming contrast with the "light heart" of France, this was promptly accepted by Germany, whose heart and strength found expression in the speech of the King at the opening of Parliament, hastily assembled on the 19th of July. With articulation disturbed by emotion and with moistened eyes, his Majesty said:—
"Supported by the unanimous will of the German governments of the South as of the North, we turn the more confidently to the love of Fatherland and the cheerful self-devotion of the German people with a call to the defence of their honor and their independence." [Footnote: Aegidi und Klauhold, Staatsarchiv, 19 Band, S. 107, No. 4056. Parliamentary Papers, 1870, Vol. LXX.: Franco-Prussian War, No. 3, pp. 2-3.]
Parliament responded sympathetically to the King, and made the necessary appropriations. And thus the two champions stood front to front.
THE TWO HOSTILE PARTIES.
Throughout France, throughout Germany, the trumpet sounded, and everywhere the people sprang to arms, as if the great horn of Orlando, after a sleep of ages, had sent forth once more its commanding summons. Not a town, not a village, that the voice did not penetrate. Modern invention had supplied an ally beyond anything in fable. From all parts of France, from all parts of Germany, armed men leaped forward, leaving behind the charms of peace and the business of life. On each side the muster was mighty, armies counting by the hundred thousand. And now, before we witness the mutual slaughter, let us pause to consider the two parties, and the issue between them.
France and Germany are most unlike, and yet the peers of each other, while among the nations they are unsurpassed in civilization, each prodigious in resources, splendid in genius, and great in renown. No two nations are so nearly matched. By Germany I now mean not only the States constituting North Germany, but also Wurtemberg, Baden, and Bavaria of South Germany, allies in the present war, all of which together make about fifty-three millions of French hectares, being very nearly the area of France. The population of each is not far from thirty-eight millions, and it would be difficult to say which is the larger. Looking at finances, Germany has the smaller revenue, but also the smaller debt, while her rulers, following the sentiment of the people, cultivate a wise economy, so that here again substantial equality is maintained with France. The armies of the two, embracing regular troops and those subject to call, did not differ much in numbers, unless we set aside the authority of the "Almanach de Gotha," which puts the military force of France somewhat vaguely at 1,350,000, while that of North Germany is only 977,262, to which must be added 49,949 for Bavaria, 34,953 for Wuertemberg, and 43,703 for Baden, making a sum-total of 1,105,867. This, however, is chiefly on paper, where it is evident France is stronger than in reality. Her available force at the outbreak of the war probably did not amount to more than 350,000 bayonets, while that of Germany, owing to her superior system, was as much as double this number. In Prussia every man is obliged to serve, and, still further, every man is educated. Discipline and education are two potent adjuncts. This is favorable to Germany. In the Chassepot and needle-gun the two are equal. But France excels in a well- appointed Navy, having no less than 55 iron-clads, and 384 other vessels of war, while Germany has but 2 iron-clads, and 87 other vessels of war. [Footnote: For the foregoing statistics, see _Almanach de Gotha, 1870, under the names of the several States referred to,—also, for Areas and Population, _Tableaux Comparatifs_, I., II., III., in same volume, pp. 1037-38.] Then again for long generations has existed another disparity, to the great detriment of Germany. France has been a nation, while Germany has been divided, and therefore weak. Strong in union, the latter now claims something more than that _dominion of the air_ once declared to be hers, while France had the land and England the sea. [Footnote: "So wie die Franzosen die Herren des Landes sind, die Englaender die des groessern Meeres, wir die der Beide und Alles umfassenden Luft sind."—RICHTER, (Jean Paul,) _Frieden-Predigt an Deutschland_, V.: Saemtliche Werke, (Berlin, 1828-38,) Theil XXXIV. s. 13.] The dominion of the land is at last contested, and we are saddened inexpressibly, that, from the elevation they have reached, these two peers of civilization can descend to practise the barbarism of war, and especially that the laud of Descartes, Pascal, Voltaire, and Laplace must challenge to bloody duel the laud of Luther, Leibnitz, Kant, and Humboldt.
Plainly between these two neighboring powers there has been unhappy antagonism, constant, if not increasing, partly from the memory of other days, and partly because Prance could not bear to witness that German unity which was a national right and duty. Often it has been said that war was inevitable. But it has come at last by surprise, and on "a question of form." So it was called by Thiers; so it was recognized by Ollivier, when he complained of insensibility to a question of honor; and so also by the Due de Gramont, when he referred it all to a telegram. This is not the first time in history that wars have been waged on trifles; but since the Lord of Frauenstein challenged the free city of Frankfort because a young lady of the city refused to dance with his uncle, nothing has passed more absurd than this challenge sent by France to Germany because the King of Prussia refused to see the French Ambassador a second time on the same matter, and then let the refusal be reported by telegraph. Here is the folly exposed by Shakespeare, when Hamlet touches a madness greater than his own in that spirit which would "find quarrel in a straw when honor's at the stake," and at the same time depicts an army
"Led by a delicate and tender prince, Exposing what is mortal and unsure To all that Fortune, Death, and Danger dare, Even for an egg-shall."
There can be no quarrel in a straw or for an egg-shell, unless men have gone mad. Nor can honor in a civilized age require any sacrifice of reason or humanity.
UNJUST PRETENSION OF FRANCE TO INTERFERE WITH THE CANDIDATURE OF HOHENZOLLERN.
If the utter triviality of the pretext were left doubtful in the debate, if its towering absurdity were not plainly apparent, if its simple wickedness did not already stand before us, we should find all these characteristics glaringly manifest in that unjust pretension which preceded the objection of form, on which France finally acted. A few words will make this plain.
In a happy moment Spain rose against Queen Isabella, and, amidst cries of "Down with the Bourbons!" drove her from the throne which she dishonored. This was in September, 1868. Instead of constituting a Republic at once, in harmony with those popular rights which had been proclaimed, the half-hearted leaders proceeded to look about for a King; and from that time till now they have been in this quest, as if it were the Holy Grail, or happiness on earth. The royal family of Spain was declared incompetent. Therefore a king must be found outside,——and so the quest was continued in other lands. One day the throne is offered to a prince of Portugal, then to a prince of Italy, but declined by each,——how wisely the future will show. At last, after a protracted pursuit of nearly two years, the venturesome soldier who is Captain-General and Prime-Minister, Marshal Prim, conceives the idea of offering it to a prince of Germany. His luckless victim is Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, a Catholic, thirty-five years of age, and colonel of the first regiment of the Prussian foot-guards, whose father, a mediatized German prince, resides at Duesseldorf. The Prince had not the good sense to decline. How his acceptance excited the French Cabinet, and became the beginning of the French pretext, I have already exposed; and now I come to the pretension itself.
By what title did France undertake to interfere with the choice of Spain? If the latter was so foolish as to seek a foreigner for king, making a German first among Spaniards, by what title did any other power attempt to control its will? To state the question is to answer it. Beginning with an outrage on Spanish independence, which the Spain of an earlier day would have resented, the next outrage was on Germany, in assuming that an insignificant prince of that country could not be permitted to accept the invitation,—— all of which, besides being of insufferable insolence, was in that worst dynastic spirit which looks to princes rather than the people. Plainly France was unjustifiable. When I say it was none of her business, I give it the mildest condemnation. This was the first step in her monstrous blunder-crime.
Its character as a pretext becomes painfully manifest, when we learn more of the famous Prince Leopold, thus invited by Spain and opposed by France. It is true that his family name is in part the same as that of the Prussian king. Each is Hohenzollern; but he adds Sigmaringen to the name. The two are different branches of the same family; but you must ascend to the twelfth century, counting more than twenty degrees, before you come to a common ancestor. [Footnote: Conversations-Lexikon, (Leipzig, 1866,) 8 Band, art. HOHENZOLLERN. Carlyle's History of Friedrich II., (London, 1858,) Book III. Cli. 1, Vol. I. p. 200.] And yet on this most distant and infinitesimal relationship the French pretension is founded. But audacity changes to the ridiculous, when it is known that the Prince is nearer in relationship to the French Emperor than to the Prussian King, and this by three different intermarriages, which do not go hack to the twelfth century. Here is the case. His grandfather had for wife a niece of Joachim Murat,[Footnote: Antoinette, daughter of Etienne Murat, third brother of Joachim.—- Biographic Genemle, (Didot,) Tom. XXXVI. col. 984, art. MURAT, note.] King of Naples, and brother-in-law of the first Napoleon; and his father had for wife a daughter of Stephanie de Beauharnais, an adopted daughter of the first Napoleon; so that Prince Leopold is by his father great-grand- nephew of Murat, and by his mother he is grandson of Stephanie de Beauharnais, who was cousin and by adoption sister of Horteuse de Beauharnais, mother of the present Emperor; and to this may be added still another connection, by the marriage of his father's sister with Joachim Napoleon, Marquis of Pepoli, grandson of Joachim Murat.[Footnote: Almanach de Gotha, 1870, pp. 85-87, art. HOHENZOLLERN-SIGMARINGEN.] It was natural that a person thus connected with the Imperial Family should be a welcome visitor at the Tuileries; and it is easy to believe that Marshal Prim, who offered him the throne, was encouraged to believe that the Emperor's kinsman and guest would be favorably regarded by France. And yet, in the face of these things, and the three several family ties, fresh and modern, binding him to France and the French Emperor, the pretension was set up that his occupation of the Spanish throne would put in peril the interests and the honor of France.
BECAUSE FRANCE WAS READY.
In sending defiance to Prussia on this question, the French Cabinet selected their own ground. Evidently a war had been meditated, and the candidature of Prince Leopold from beginning to end supplied a pretext. In this conclusion, which is too obvious, we are hardly left to inference. The secret was disclosed by Rouher, President of the Senate, lately the eloquent and unscrupulous Minister, when, in an official address to the Emperor, immediately after the War Manifesto read by the Prime- Minister, he declared that France quivered with indignation at the flights of an ambition over-excited by the one day's good-fortune at Sadowa, and then proceeded:—-
"Animated by that calm perseverance which is true force, your Majesty has known how to wait; but in the last four years you have carried to its highest perfection the arming of our soldiers, and raised to its full power the organization of our military forces. Thanks to your care, Sire, France is ready," [Footnote: Address at the Palais de Saint-Cloud, July 50, 1870: Journal Officiel du Soir, 18 Juillet 1870.]
Thus, according to the President of the Senate, France, after waiting, commenced war because she was ready,—- while, according to the Cabinet, it was on the point of honor. Both were right. The war was declared because the Emperor thought himself ready, and a pretext was found in the affair of the telegram.
Considering the age, and the present demands of civilization, such a war stands forth terrific in wrong, making the soul rise indignant against it. One reason avowed is brutal; the other is frivolous; both are criminal. If we look into the text of the Manifesto and the speeches of the Cabinet, it is a war founded on a trifle, on a straw, on an egg-shell. Obviously these were pretexts only. Therefore it is a war of pretexts, the real object being the humiliation and dismemberment of Germany, in the vain hope of exalting the French Empire and perpetuating a bawble crown on the head of a boy. By military success and a peace dictated at Berlin, the Emperor trusted to find himself in such condition, that, on return to Paris, he could overthrow parliamentary government so far as it existed there, and reestablish personal government, where all depended upon himself,—thus making triumph over Germany the means of another triumph over the French people.
In other times there have been wars as criminal in origin, where trifle, straw, or egg-shell played its part; but they contrasted less with the surrounding civilization. To this list belong the frequent Dynastic Wars, prompted by the interest, the passion, or the whim of some one in the Family of Kings. Others have begun in recklessness kindred to that we now witness,—-as when England entered into war with Holland, and for reason did not hesitate to allege "abusive pictures."[Footnote: Humo, History of England, Ch. LXV., March 17, 1672.——The terras of the Declaration on this point were,——"Scarce a town within their territories that is not filled with abusive pictures." (Hansard's Parliamentary History, Vol. IV. col. 514.) Upon which Hume remarks: "The Dutch were long at a loss what to make of this article, till it was discovered that a portrait of Cornelius de Witt, brother to the Pensionary, painted by order of certain magistrates of Dort, and hung up in a chamber of the Town-House, had given occasion to the complaint. In the perspective of this portrait the painter had drawn some ships on fire in a harbor. This was construed to be Chatham, where De Witt had really distinguished himself," during the previous war, in the way here indicated,——"the disgrace" of which, says Lingard, "sunk deep into the heart of the King and the hearts of his subjects." History of England, Vol. IX. Ch. III., June 13, 1667.]. The England of Charles the Second was hardly less sensitive than the France of Louis Napoleon, while in each was similar indifference to consequences. But France has precedents of her own. From the remarkable correspondence of the Princess Palatine, Duchess of Orleans, we learn that the first war with Holland under Louis the Fourteenth was brought on by the Minister, De Lionne, to injure a petty German prince who had made him jealous of his wife.[Footnote: Briefe der Prinzessin Elisabeth Charlotte von Orleans an die Gaugraefin Louise, 1676-1722, herausg. von W. Menzel, (Stuttgart, 1843,)—-Paris, 3) Mertz, 1718, s. 288.] The communicative and exuberant Saint-Simon tells us twice over how Louvois, another Minister of Louis the Fourteenth, being overruled by his master with regard to the dimensions of a window at Versailles, was filled with the idea that "on account of a few inches in a window," as he expressed it, all his services would be forgotten, and therefore, to save his place, excited a foreign war that would make him necessary to the King. The flames in the Palatinate, devouring the works of man, attested his continuing power. The war became general, but, according to the chronicler, it ruined France at home, and did not extend her domain abroad. [Footnote: Memoires, (Paris, 1829,) Tom. VII. pp. 49-51; XIII pp. 9-10.] The French Emperor confidently expected to occupy the same historic region so often burnt and ravaged by French armies, with that castle of Heidelberg which repeats the tale of blood,—and, let me say, expected it for no better reason than that of his royal predecessor, stimulated by an unprincipled Minister anxious for personal position. The parallel is continued in the curse which the Imperial arms have brought on France.
PROGRESS OF THE WAR.
How this war proceeded I need not recount. You have all read the record day by day, sorrowing for Humanity,—how, after briefest interval of preparation or hesitation, the two combatants first crossed swords at Saarbruecken, within the German frontier, and the young Prince Imperial performed his part in picking up a bullet from the field, which the Emperor promptly reported by telegraph to the Empress,—how this little military success is all that was vouchsafed to the man who began the war,—how soon thereafter victory followed, first on the hill-sides of Wissembourg and then of Woerth, shattering the army of MacMahon, to which the Empire was looking so confidently,—how another large army under Bazaine was driven within the strong fortress of Metz,—how all the fortresses, bristling with guns and frowning upon Germany, were invested,—how battle followed battle on various fields, where Death was the great conqueror,—how, with help of modern art, war showed itself to be murder by machinery,—how MacMahon, gathering together his scattered men and strengthening them with reinforcements, attempted to relieve Bazaine,—how at last, after long marches, his large army found itself shut up at Sedan with a tempest of fire beating upon its huddled ranks, so that its only safety was capitulation,—how with the capitulation of the army was the submission of the Emperor himself, who gave his sword to the King of Prussia and became prisoner of war,—and how, on the reception of this news at Paris, Louis Napoleon and his dynasty were divested of their powers and the Empire was lost in the Republic. These things you know. I need not dwell on them. Not to battles and their fearful vicissitudes, where all is incarnadined with blood, must we look, but to the ideas which prevail,—as for the measure of time we look, not to the pendulum in its oscillations, but to the clock in the tower, whose striking tells the hours. A great hour for Humanity sounded when the Republic was proclaimed. And this I say, even should it fail again; for every attempt contributes to the final triumph.
A WAR OF SURPRISES.
The war, from the pretext at its beginning to the capitulation at Sedan, has been a succession of surprises, where the author of the pretext was a constant sufferer. Nor is this strange. Falstaff says, with humorous point, "See now how wit may be made a Jack-a- lent, when't is upon ill employment!"[Footnote: Merry Wives of Windsor, Act V. Sc. 5.]—and another character, in a play of Beaumont and Fletcher, reveals the same evil destiny in stronger terms, when he says,—
"Hell gives us art to reach the depth of sin, But leaves us wretched fools, when we are in." [Footnote: Queen of Corinth, Act IV. Sc. 3.]
And this was precisely the condition of the French Empire. Germany perhaps had one surprise, at the sudden adoption of the pretext for war. But the Empire has known nothing but surprise. A fatal surprise was the promptitude with which all the German States, outside of Austrian rule, accepted the leadership of Prussia, and joined their forces to hers. Differences were forgotten,—whether the hate of Hanover, the dread of Wuertemberg, the coolness of Bavaria, the opposition of Saxony, or the impatience of the Hanse Towns at lost importance. Hanover would not rise; the other States and cities would not be detached. On the day after the reading of the War Manifesto at the French tribune, even before the King's speech to the Northern Parliament, the Southern States began to move. German unity stood firm, and this was the supreme surprise for France with which the war began. On one day the Emperor in his Official Journal declares his object to be the deliverance of Bavaria from Prussian oppression, and on the very next day the Crown Prince of Prussia, at the head of Bavarian troops, crushes an Imperial army.
Then came the manifest inferiority of the Imperial army, everywhere outnumbered, which was another surprise,—the manifest inferiority of the Imperial artillery, also a surprise,—the manifest inferiority of the Imperial generals, still a surprise. Above these was a prevailing inefficiency and improvidence, which very soon became conspicuous, and this was a surprise. The strength of Germany, as now exhibited, was a surprise. And when the German armies entered France, every step was a surprise. Wissembourg was a surprise; so was Woerth; so was Beaumont; so was Sedan. Every encounter was a surprise. Abel Douay, the French general, who fell bravely fighting at Wissembourg, the first sacrifice on the battle-field, was surprised; so was MacMahon, not only at the beginning, but at the end. He thought that the King and Crown Prince were marching on Paris. So they were,—but they turned aside for a few days to surprise a whole army of more than, a hundred thousand men, terrible with cannon and newly invented implements of war, under a Marshal of France, and with an Emperor besides. As this succession of surprises was crowned with what seemed the greatest surprise of all, there remained a greater still in the surprise of the French Empire. No Greek Nemesis with unrelenting hand ever dealt more incessantly the unavoidable blow, until the Empire fell as a dead body falls, while the Emperor became a captive and the Empress a fugitive, with their only child a fugitive also. The poet says:—
"Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy In sceptred pall come sweeping by."[Footnote: Milton, II Penseroso, 97-98.]
It has swept before the eyes of all. Beneath that sceptred pall is the dust of a great Empire, founded and ruled by Louis Napoleon; if not the dust of the Emperor also, it is because he was willing to sacrifice others rather than himself.
OTHER FRENCH SOVEREIGNS CAPTURED ON THE BATTLE-FIELD.
Twice before have French sovereigns yielded on the battle-field, and become prisoners of war; but never before was capitulation so vast. Do their fates furnish any lesson? At the Battle of Poitiers, memorable in English history, John, King of France, became the prisoner of Edward the Black Prince. His nobles, one after another, fell by his side, but he contended valiantly to the last, until, spent with fatigue and over-come by numbers, he surrendered. His son, of the same age as the son of the French Emperor, was wounded while battling for his father. The courtesy of the English Prince conquered more than his arms. I quote the language of Hume:-
"More touched by Edward's generosity than by his own calamities, he confessed, that, notwithstanding his defeat and captivity, his honor was still unimpaired, and that, if he yielded the victory, it was at least gained by a prince of such consummate valor and humanity. "[Footnote: History of England, (Oxford, 1826,) Cli. XVI., Vol. II. p. 407.]
The King was taken to England, where, after swelling the triumphal pageant of his conqueror, he made a disgraceful treaty for the dismemberment of France, which the indignant nation would not ratify. A captivity of more than four years was terminated by a ransom of three million crowns in gold,—an enormous sum, more than ten million dollars in our day. Evidently the King was unfortunate, for he did not continue in France, but, under the influence of motives differently stated, returned to England, where he died. Surely here is a lesson.
More famous than John was Francis, with salamander crest, also King of France, and rich in gayety, whose countenance, depicted by that art of which he was the patron, stands forth conspicuous in the line of kings. As the French Emperor attacked Germany, so did the King enter Italy, and he was equally confident of victory. On the field of Favia he encountered an army of Charles the Fifth, but commanded by his generals, when, after fighting desperately and killing seven men with his own hand, he was compelled to surrender. His mother was at the time Regent of France, and to her he is said to have written the sententious letter, "All is lost except honor." No such letter was written by Francis,[Footnote: Sismondi, Histoire des Francais, Tom. XVI. pp. 241-42. Martin, Histoire de France, (genie edit.,) Tom. VIII. pp. 67, 68.] nor do we know of any such letter by Louis Napoleon; but the situation of the two Regents was identical. Here are the words in which Hume describes the condition of the earlier:—-
"The Princess was struck with the greatness of the calamity. She saw the kingdom without a sovereign, without an army, without generals, without money, surrounded on every side by implacable and victorious enemies; and her chief resource, in her present distresses, were the hopes which she entertained of peace, and even of assistance from the King of England." [Footnote: History of England, (Oxford, 1826,) Ch. XXIX., Vol. IV. p. 51.]
Francis became the prisoner of Charles the Fifth, and was conveyed to Madrid, where, after a year of captivity, he was at length released, crying out, as he crossed the French frontier, "Behold me King again!" [Footnote: Sismondi, Tom. XVI. p. 277. Martin, Tom. VIII. p. 90.] Is not the fate of Louis Napoleon prefigured in the exile and death of his royal predecessor John, rather than in the return of Francis with his delighted cry?
The fall of Louis Napoleon is natural. It is hard to see how it could be otherwise, so long as we continue to "assert eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to men." [Footnote: Paradise Lost, Book I. 25-26.]
Had he remained successful to the end, and died peacefully on the throne, his name would have been a perpetual encouragement to dishonesty and crime. By treachery without parallel, breaking repeated promises and his oath of office, he was able to trample on the Republic. Taking his place in the National Assembly after long exile, the adventurer made haste to declare exultation in regaining his country and all his rights as citizen, with the ejaculation, "The Republic has given me this happiness: let the Republic receive my oath of gratitude, my oath of devotion!"—and next he proclaimed that there was nobody to surpass him in determined consecration "to the defence of order and to the establishment of the Republic." [Footnote: Seance du 26 Septembre 1848: Moniteur, 27 Septembre.] Good words these. Then again, when candidate for the Presidency, in a manifesto to the electors he gave another pledge, announcing that he "would devote himself altogether, without mental reservation, to the establishment of a Republic, wise in its laws, honest in its intentions, great and strong in its acts"; and he volunteered further words, binding him in special loyalty, saying that he "should make it a point of honor to leave to his successor, at the end of four years, power strengthened, liberty intact, real progress accomplished." [Footnote: A ses Concitoyens: OEuvres, Tom. III. p. 25.] How these plain and unequivocal engagements were openly broken you shall see.
Chosen by the popular voice, his inauguration took place as President of the Republic, when he solemnly renewed the engagements already assumed. Ascending from his seat in the Assembly to the tribune, and holding up his hand, he took the following oath of office: "In presence of God, and before the French people, represented by the National Assembly, I swear to remain faithful to the Democratic Republic One and Indivisible, and to fulfil all the duties which the Constitution imposes upon me." This was an oath. Then, addressing the Assembly, he said:" The suffrages of the nation and the oath which I have just taken prescribe my future conduct. My duty is marked out. I will fulfil it as a man of honor." Again he attests his honor. Then, after deserved tribute to his immediate predecessor and rival, General Cavaignac, on his loyalty of character, and that sentiment of duty which he declares to be "the first quality in the chief of a State," he renews his vows to the Republic, saying, "We have, Citizen Representatives, a great mission to fulfil; it is to found a Republic in the interest of all"; and he closed amidst cheers for the Republic.[Footnote: Seance de 20 Decembre 1848: Moniteur, 21 Decembre.] And yet, in the face of this oath of office and this succession of most solemn pledges, where he twice attests his honor, he has hardly become President before he commences plotting to make himself Emperor, until, at last, by violence and blood, with brutal butchery in the streets of Paris, he succeeded in overthrowing the Republic, to which he was bound by obligations of gratitude and duty, as well as by engagements in such various form. The Empire was declared. Then followed his marriage, and a dynastic ambition to assure the crown for his son.
Early in life a "Charcoal" conspirator against kings, [Footnote: A member of the secret society of the Ciram in Italy.] he now became a crowned conspirator against republics. The name of Republic was to him a reproof, while its glory was a menace. Against the Roman Republic he conspired early; and when the rebellion waged by Slavery seemed to afford opportunity, he conspired against our Republic, promoting as far as he dared the independence of the Slave States, and at the same time on the ruins of the Mexican Republic setting up a mock Empire. In similar spirit has he conspired against German Unity, whose just strength promised to be a wall against his unprincipled self-seeking.
This is but an outline of that incomparable perfidy, which, after a career of seeming success, is brought to a close. Of a fallen man I would say nothing; but, for the sake of Humanity, Louis Napoleon should be exposed. He was of evil example, extending with his influence. To measure the vastness of this detriment is impossible. In sacrificing the Republic to his own aggrandizement, in ruling for a dynasty rather than the people, in subordinating the peace of the world to his own wicked ambition for his boy, he set an example of selfishness, and in proportion to his triumph was mankind corrupted in its judgment of human conduct. Teaching men to seek ascendency at the expense of duty, he demoralized not only France, but the world. Unquestionably part of this evil example was his falsehood to the Republic. Promise, pledge, honor, oath, were all violated in this monstrous treason. Never in history was greater turpitude. Unquestionably he could have saved the Republic, but he preferred his own exaltation. As I am a Republican, and believe republican institutions for the good of mankind, I cannot pardon the traitor. The people of France are ignorant; he did not care to have them educated, for their ignorance was his strength. With education bestowed, the Republic would have been assured. And even after the Empire, had he thought more of education and less of his dynasty, there would have been a civilization throughout France making war impossible. Unquestionably the present war is his work, instituted for his imagined advantage. Bacon, in one of his remarkable Essays, tells us that "Extreme self-lovers will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs." [Footnote: Of Wisdom for a Man's Self: Essay XXIII.] Louis Napoleon has set Europe on fire to roast his.
Beyond the continuing offence of his public life, I charge upon him three special and unpardonable crimes: first, that violation of public duty and public faith, contrary to all solemnities of promise, by which the whole order of society was weakened and human character was degraded; secondly, disloyalty to republican institutions, so that through him the Republic has been arrested in Europe; and, thirdly, this cruel and causeless war, of which he is the guilty author.
Of familiar texts in Scripture, there is one which, since the murderous outbreak, has been of constant applicability and force. You know it: "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword"; [Footnote: Matthew, xxvi. 52.] and these words are addressed to nations as to individuals. France took the sword against Germany, and now lies bleeding at every pore. Louis Napoleon took the sword, and is nought. Already in that coup d'etat by which he overthrew the Republic he took the sword, and now the Empire, which was the work of his hands, expires. In Mexico again he took the sword, and again paid the fearful penalty,—while the Austrian Archduke, who, yielding to his pressure, made himself Emperor there, was shot by order of the Mexican President, an Indian of unmixed blood. And here there was retribution, not only for the French Emperor, but far beyond. I know not if there be invisible threads by which the Present is attached to the distant Past, making the descendant suffer even for a distant ancestor, but I cannot forget that Maximilian was derived from that very family of Charles the Fifth, whose conquering general, Cortes, stretched the Indian Guatemozin upon a bed of fire, and afterwards executed him on a tree. The death of Maximilian was tardy retribution for the death of Guatemozin. And thus in this world is wrong avenged, sometimes after many generations. The fall of the French Emperor is an illustration of that same retribution which is so constant. While he yet lives, judgment has begun.
If I accumulate instances, it is because the certainty of retribution for wrong, and especially for the great wrong of War, is a lesson of the present duel to be impressed. Take notice, all who would appeal to war, that the way of the transgressor is hard, and sooner or later he is overtaken. The ban may fall tardily, but it is sure to fall.
Retribution in another form has already visited France; nor is its terrible vengeance yet spent. Not only are populous cities, all throbbing with life and filled with innocent households, subjected to siege, but to bombardment also,—being that most ruthless trial of war, where non-combatants, including women and children, sick and aged, share with the soldier his peculiar perils, and suffer alike with him. All are equal before the hideous shell, crashing, bursting, destroying, killing, and changing the fairest scene into blood-spattered wreck. Against its vengeful, slaughterous descent there is no protection for the people,—nothing but an uncertain shelter in cellars, or, it may be, in the common sewers. Already Strasbourg, Toul, and Metz have been called to endure this indiscriminate massacre, where there is no distinction of persons; and now the same fate is threatened to Paris the Beautiful, with its thronging population counted by the million. Thus is the ancient chalice which France handed to others now commended to her own lips. It was France that first in history adopted this method of war. Long ago, under Louis the Fourteenth, it became a favorite; but it has not escaped the judgment of history. Voltaire, with elegant pen, records that "this art, carried soon among other nations, served only to multiply human calamities, and more than once was dreadful to France, where it was invented." [Footnote: Siecle de Louis XIV., Ch. XIV.: (Euvres, (edit. 1784- 89,) Tom. XX. p. 406.)
The bombardment of Luxembourg in 1683 drew from Sismondi, always humane and refined, words applicable to recent events. "Louis the Fourteenth," he says, "had been the first to put in practice this atrocious and newly invented method of bombarding towns,....of attacking, not fortifications, but private houses, not soldiers, but peaceable inhabitants, women and children, and of confounding thousands of private crimes, each one of which would cause horror, in one great public crime, one great disaster, which he regarded as nothing more than one of the catastrophes of war." [Footnote: Histoire des Francis, Tom. XXV. pp. 452-53.] Again is the saying fulfilled, "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." No lapse of time can avert the inexorable law. Macbeth saw it in his terrible imaginings, when he said,—
"But in those cases We still have judgment here,—that we but teach Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return To plague the inventor."
And what instruction more bloody than the bombardment of a city, which now returns to plague the French people?
Thus is history something more even than philosophy teaching by example; it is sermon with argument and exhortation. The simple record of nations preaches; and whether you regard reason or the affections, it is the same. If nations were wise or humane, they would not fight.
PEACE AFTER CAPITULATION AT SEDAN.
Vain are lessons of the past or texts of prudence against that spirit of War which finds sanction and regulation in International Law. So long as the war system continues, men will fight. While I speak, the two champions still stand front to front, Germany exulting in victory, but France in no respect submissive. The duel still rages, although one of the champions is pressed to earth, as in that early combat where the Chevalier Bayard, so eminent in chivalry, thrust his dagger into the nostrils of his fallen foe, and then dragged his dead body off the field. History now repeats itself, and we witness in Germany the very conduct condemned in the famous French knight.
The French Emperor was the aggressor. He began this fatal duel. Let him fall,—but not the people of France. Cruelly already have they expiated their offence in accepting such a ruler. Not always should they suffer. Enough of waste, enough of sacrifice, enough of slaughter have they undergone. Enough have they felt the accursed hoof of War.
It is easy to see now, that, after the capitulation at Sedan, there was a double mistake: first, on the part of Germany, which, as magnanimous conqueror, should have proposed peace, thus conquering in character as in arms; and, secondly, on the part of the Republic, which should have declined to wage a war of Imperialism, against which the Republican leaders had so earnestly protested. With the capitulation of the Emperor the dynastic question was closed. There was no longer pretension or pretext, nor was there occasion for war. The two parties should have come to an understanding. Why continue this terrible homicidal, fratricidal, suicidal combat, fraught with mutual death and sacrifice? Why march on Paris? Why beleaguer Paris? Why bombard Paris? To what end? If for the humiliation of France, then must it be condemned.
THREE ESSENTIAL CONDITIONS OF PEACE.
In arriving at terms of peace, there are at least three conditions which cannot be overlooked in the interest of civilization, and that the peace may be such in reality as in name, and not an armistice only,—three postulates which stand above all question, and dominate this debate, so that any essential departure from them must end in wretched failure.
The first is the natural requirement of Germany, that there shall be completest guaranty against future aggression, constituting what is so well known among us as "Security for the Future." Count Bismarck, with an exaggeration hardly pardonable, alleges more than twenty invasions of Germany by France, and declares that these must be stopped forever. [Footnote: Circular of September 16, 1870: Foreign Relations of the United States,—Executive Documents, 41st Cong. 3d Sess., H. of R., Vol. I. No. 1, Part 1, pp. 212-13.] Many or few, they must be stopped forever. The second condition to be regarded is the natural requirement of France, that the guaranty, while sufficient, shall be such as not to wound needlessly the sentiments of the French people, or to offend any principle of public law. It is difficult to question these two postulates, at least in the abstract. Only when we come to the application is there opportunity for difference. The third postulate, demanded alike by justice and humanity, is the establishment of some rule or precedent by which the recurrence of such a barbarous duel shall be prevented. It will not be enough to obtain a guaranty for Germany; there must be a guaranty for Civilization itself.
On careful inquiry, it will be seen that all these can be accomplished in one way only, which I will describe, when I have first shown what is now put forward and discussed as the claim of Germany, under two different heads, Indemnity and Guaranty.
INDEMNITY OF GERMANY.
I have already spoken of Guaranty as an essential condition. Indemnity is not essential. At the close of our war with Slavery we said nothing of indemnity. For the life of the citizen there could be no indemnity; nor was it practicable even for the treasure sacrificed. Security for the Future was all that our nation required, and this was found in provisions of Law and Constitution establishing Equal Eights. From various intimations it is evident that Germany will not be content without indemnity in money on a large scale; and it is also evident that France, the aggressor, cannot, when conquered, deny liability to a certain extent. The question will be on the amount. Already German calculators begin to array their unrelenting figures. One of these insists that the indemnity shall not only cover outlay for the German Army,—pensions of widows and invalids,—maintenance and support of French wounded and prisoners,—compensation to Germans expelled from France,—also damage suffered by the territory to be annexed, especially Strasbourg; but it is also to cover indirect damages, large in amount,—as, loss to the nation from change of productive laborers into soldiers,—loss from killing and disabling so many laborers,—and, generally, loss from suspension of trade arid manufactures, depreciation of national property, and diminution of the public revenues:—all of which, according to a recent estimate, reach the fearful sum-total of 4,935,000,000 francs, or nearly one thousand million dollars. Of this sum, 1,255,000,000 francs are on account of the Army, 1,230,000,000 for direct damage, 2,250,000,000 for indirect damage, and 200,000,000 for damage to the reconquered provinces. Still further, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce insists on indemnity not only for actual loss of ships and cargoes from the blockade, but also for damages on account of detention. Much of this many-headed account, which I introduce in order to open the case in its extent, will be opposed by France, as fabulous, consequential, and remote. The practical question will be, Can one nation do wrong to another without paying for the damage, whatever it may be, direct or indirect,— always provided it be susceptible of estimate? Here I content myself with the remark, that, while in the settlement of international differences there is no place for technicality, there is always room for moderation.
GUARANTY OF DISMEMBERMENT.
Vast as may be the claim of indemnity, it opens no question so calculated to touch the sensibilities of France as the claim of guaranty already announced by Germany. On this head we are not left to conjecture. From her first victory we have been assured that Germany would claim Alsace and German Lorraine, with their famous strongholds; and now we have the statement of Count Bismarck, in a diplomatic circular, that he expects to remove the German frontier further west,—meaning to the Vosges Mountains, if not to the Moselle also,—and to convert the fortresses into what he calls "defensive strongholds of Germany."[Footnote: Circular of September 16,1870,—ubi supra, p. 49, Note 1.] Then, with larger view, he declares, that, "in rendering it more difficult for France, from whom all European troubles have so long proceeded, to assume the offensive, we likewise promote the common interest of Europe, which demands the preservation of peace." Here is just recognition of peace as the common interest of Europe, to be assured by disabling France. How shall this be done? The German Minister sees nothing but dismemberment, consecrated by a Treaty of Peace. With diplomatic shears he would cut off a portion of French territory, and, taking from it the name of France, stamp upon it the trade-mark of Germany. Two of its richest and most precious provinces, for some two hundred years constituent parts of the great nation, with that ancient cathedral city, the pride of the Rhine, long years ago fortified by Vauban as "the strongest barrier of France," [Footnote: Voltaire, Siecle de Louis XIV., Ch. XIV: OEuvres, (edit. 1784-89,) Tom. XX. p. 403.] are to be severed, and with them a large and industrious population, which, while preserving the German language, have so far blended with France as to become Frenchmen. This is the German proposition, which I call the Guaranty of Dismemberment.
One argument for this proposition is brushed aside easily. Had the fortune of war been adverse to Germany, it is said, peace would have been dictated at Berlin, perhaps at Koenigsberg, and France would have carried her frontier eastward to the Rhine, dismembering Germany. Such, I doubt not, would have been the attempt. The conception is entirely worthy of that Imperial levity with which the war began. But the madcap menace of the French Empire cannot be the measure of German justice. It is for Germany to show, that, notwithstanding this wildness, she knows how to be just. Dismemberment on this account would be only another form of retaliation; but retaliation is barbarous.
To the argument, that these provinces, with their strongholds, are needed for the defence of Germany, there is the obvious reply, that, if cut off from France contrary to the wishes of the local population, and with the French people in chronic irritation on this account, they will be places of weakness rather than strength, strongholds of disaffection rather than defence, to be held always at the cannon's mouth. Does Germany seek lasting peace? Not in this way can it be had. A painful exaction, enforced by triumphant arms, must create a sentiment of hostility in France, suppressed for a season, but ready at a propitious moment to break forth in violence; so that between the two conterminous nations there will be nothing better than a peace where each sleeps on its arms,—which is but an Armed Peace. Such for weary years has been the condition of nations. Is Germany determined to prolong the awful curse? Will her most enlightened people, with poetry, music, literature, philosophy, science, and religion as constant ministers, to whom has been opened in rarest degree the whole book of knowledge, persevere in a brutal policy belonging to another age, and utterly alien to that superior civilization which is so truly theirs?
There is another consideration, not only of justice, but of public law, which cannot be overcome. The people of these provinces are unwilling to be separated from France. This is enough. France cannot sell or transfer them against their consent. Consult the great masters, and you will find their concurring authority. Grotius, from whom on such a question there can be no appeal, adjudges: "In the alienation of a part of the sovereignty it is required that the part which is to be alienated consent to the act." According to him, it must not be supposed "that the body should have the right of cutting off parts from itself and giving them into the authority of another."[Footnote: De Jure Belli et Pads, tr. Whewell, Lib. II. Cap. 6, S: 4] Of the same opinion is Pufendorf, declaring: "The sovereign who attempts to transfer his kingdom to another by his sole authority does an act in itself null and void, and not binding on his subjects. To make such a conveyance valid, the consent of the people is required, as well as of the prince." [Footnote: De Jure Naturae et Gentium, Lib. VIII. Cap. 5, Section 9.] Vattel crowns this testimony, when he adds, that a province or city, "abandoned and dismembered from the State, is not obliged to receive the new master proposed to be given it." [Footnote: Le Droit des Gens, Liv. I. Ch. 21, Section 264.] Before such texts, stronger than a fortress, the soldiers of Germany must halt.
Nor can it be forgotten how inconsistent is the guaranty of Dismemberment with that heroic passion for national unity which is the glory of Germany. National unity is not less the right of France than of Germany; and these provinces, though in former centuries German, and still preserving the German speech, belong to the existing unity of France,—unless, according to the popular song, the German's Fatherland extends
"Far as the German accent rings";
and then the conqueror must insist on Switzerland; and why not cross the Atlantic, to dictate laws in Pennsylvania and Chicago? But this same song has a better verse, calling that the German's Fatherland
"Where in the heart love warmly lies."
But in these coveted provinces it is the love for France, and not for Germany, which prevails.
GUARANTY OF DISARMAMENT.
The Guaranty of Dismemberment, when brought to the touchstone of the three essential conditions, is found wanting. Dismissing it as unsatisfactory, I come to that other guaranty where these conditions are all fulfilled, and we find security for Germany without offence to the just sentiments of France, and also a new safe-guard to civilization. Against the Guaranty of Dismemberment I oppose the Guaranty of Disarmament. By Disarmament I mean the razing of the French fortifications and the abolition of the standing army, except that minimum of force required for purposes of police. How completely this satisfies the conditions already named is obvious. For Germany there would be on the side of France absolute repose, so that Count Bismarck need not fear another invasion,—while France, saved from intolerable humiliation, would herself be free to profit by the new civilization.
Nor is this guaranty otherwise than practical in every respect, and the more it is examined the more will its inestimable advantage be apparent.
1. There is, first, its most obvious economy, which is so glaring, that, according to a familiar French expression, "it leaps into the eyes." Undertaking even briefly to set it forth, I seem to follow the proverb and "show the sun with a lantern." According to the "Almanach de Gotha," the appropriations for the army of France, during the year of peace before the war, were 588,852, 970 francs, [Footnote: Almanach de Gotha, 1870, p. 599.] or about one hundred and seventeen millions of dollars. Give up the Standing Army and this considerable sum disappears from the annual budget. But this retrenchment represents only partially the prodigious economy. Beyond the annual outlay is the loss to the nation by the change of producers into non-producers. Admitting that in France the average production of a soldier usefully employed would be only fifty dollars, and multiplying this small allowance by the numbers of the Standing Army, you have another amount to be piled upon the military appropriations. Is it too much to expect that this surpassing waste shall be stopped? Must the extravagance born of war, and nursed by long tradition, continue to drain the resources of the land? Where is reason? Where humanity? A decree abolishing the Standing Army would be better for the French people, and more productive, than the richest gold-mine discovered in every department of France. Nor can imagination picture the fruitful result. I speak now only in the light of economy. Relieved from intolerable burden, industry would lift itself to unimagined labors, and society be quickened anew.
2. Beyond this economy, winch need not be argued, is the positive advantage, if not necessity, of such change for France. I do not speak on general grounds applicable to all nations, but on grounds peculiar to France at the present moment. Emerging from a most destructive war, she will be subjected to enormous and unprecedented contributions of every kind. After satisfying Germany, she will find other obligations at home,—some pressing directly upon the nation, and others upon individuals. Beyond the outstanding pay of soldiers, requisitions for supplies, pensions for the wounded and the families of the dead, and other extraordinary liabilities accumulating as never before in the same time, there will be the duty of renewing that internal prosperity which has received such a shock; and here the work of restoration will be costly, whether to the nation or the individual. Revenue must be regained, roads and bridges repaired, markets supplied; nor can we omit the large and multitudinous losses from ravage of fields, seizure of stock, suspension of business, stoppage of manufactures, interference with agriculture, and the whole terrible drain of war by which the people are impoverished and disabled. If to the necessary appropriation and expenditure for all these things is superadded the annual tax of a Standing Army, and that other draft from the change of producers into non-producers, plainly here is a supplementary burden of crushing weight. Talk of the last feather breaking the back of the camel,— but never was camel loaded down as France.
3. Beyond even these considerations of economy and advantage I put the transcendent, priceless benefit of Disarmament in the assurance of peace. Disarmament substitutes the constable for the soldier, and reduces the Standing Army to a police. The argument assumes, first, the needlessness of a Standing Army, and, secondly, its evil influence. Both of these points were touched at an early day by the wise Chancellor of England, Sir Thomas More, when, in his practical and personal Introduction to "Utopia," he alludes to what he calls the "bad custom" of keeping many servants, and then says: "In France there is yet a more pestiferous sort of people; for the whole country is full of soldiers, that are still kept up in time of peace,—if such a state of a nation can be called a peace." Then, proceeding with his judgment, the Chancellor holds up what he calls those "pretended statesmen" whose maxim is that "it is necessary for the public safety to have a good body of veteran soldiers ever in readiness." And after saying that these pretended statesmen "sometimes seek occasion for making war, that they may train up their soldiers in the art of cutting throats," he adds, in words soon to be tested, "But France has learned, to its cost, how dangerous it is to feed such beasts." [Footnote: Utopia, tr. Burnet, (London, 1845,) Book I. pp. 29, 30.] It will be well, if France has learned this important lesson. The time has come to practise it.
All history is a vain word, and all experience is at fault, if large War Preparations, of which the Standing Army is the type, have not been constant provocatives of war. Pretended protectors against war, they have been real instigators to war. They have excited the evil against which they were to guard. The habit of wearing arms in private life exercised a kindred influence. So long as this habit continued, society was darkened by personal combat, street-fight, duel, and assassination. The Standing Army is to the nation what the sword was to the modern gentleman, the stiletto to the Italian, the knife to the Spaniard, the pistol to our slave-master,—furnishing, like these, the means of death; and its possessor is not slow to use it. In stating the operation of this system we are not left to inference. As France, according to Sir Thomas More, shows "how dangerous it is to feed such beasts," so does Prussia, in ever-memorable instance, which speaks now with more than ordinary authority, show precisely how the Standing Army may become the incentive to war. Frederick, the warrior king, is our witness. With honesty or impudence beyond parallel, he did not hesitate to record in his Memoirs, among the reasons for his war upon Maria Theresa, that, on coming to the throne, he found himself with "troops always ready to act." Voltaire, when called to revise the royal memoirs, erased this confession, but preserved a copy;[Footnote: Brougham, Lives of Men of Letters, (London and Glasgow, 1856,) p. 59,—_Voltaire_. See also Voltaire, _Memoires pour servir a la Vie de, ecrits par lui-meme, (edit/ 1784-89,) Tom. LXX. p. 279; also Frederic II., _Histoire de mini Temps_, OEuvres Posthumes, (Berlin, 1789,) Tom. I. Part. I. p. 78.] so that by his literary activity we have this kingly authority for the mischief from a Standing Army. How complete a weapon was that army may be learned from Lafayette, who, in a letter to Washington, in 1786, after a visit to the King, described it thus:—-
"Nothing can be compared to the beauty of the troops, to the discipline which reigns in all their ranks, to the simplicity of their movements, to the uniformity of their regiments..... All the situations which can be supposed in war, all the movements which these must necessitate, have been by constant habit so inculcated in their heads, that all these operations are done almost mechanically." [Footnote: Memoires, Tom. II. p. 133.]
Nothing better has been devised since the Macedonian phalanx or the Roman legion. With such a weapon ready to his hands, the King struck Maria Theresa. And think you that the present duel between France and Germany could have been waged, had not both nations found themselves, like Frederick of Prussia, with "troops always ready to act"? It was the possession of these troops which made the two parties rush so swiftly to the combat. Is not the lesson perfect? Already individuals have disarmed. Civilization requires that nations shall do likewise.
Thus is Disarmament enforced on three several grounds: first, economy; secondly, positive advantage, if not necessity, for France; and, thirdly, assurance of peace. No other guaranty promises so much. Does any other guaranty promise anything beyond the accident of force? Nor would France be alone. Dismissing to the arts of peace the large army victorious over Slavery, our Republic has shown how disarmament can be accomplished. The example of France, so entirely reasonable, so profitable, so pacific, and so harmonious with ours, would spread. Conquering Germany could not resist its influence. Nations are taught by example more than by precept, and either is better than force. Other nations would follow; nor would Russia, elevated by her great act of Enfranchisement, fail to seize her sublime opportunity. Popular rights, which are strongest always in assured peace, would have new triumphs. Instead of Trial by Battle for the decision of differences between nations, there would be peaceful substitutes, as Arbitration, or, it may be, a Congress of Nations, and the United States of Europe would appear above the subsiding waters. The old juggle of Balance of Power, which has rested like a nightmare on Europe, would disappear, like that other less bloody fiction of Balance of Trade, and nations, like individuals, would all be equal before the law. Here our own country furnishes an illustration. So long as slavery prevailed among us, there was an attempt to preserve what was designated balance of power between the North and South, pivoting on Slavery,—just as in Europe there has been an attempt to preserve balance of power among nations pivoting on War. Too tardily is it seen that this famous balance, which has played such a part at home and abroad, is but an artificial contrivance instituted by power, which must give place to a simple accord derived from the natural condition of things. Why should not the harmony which has begun at home be extended abroad? Practicable and beneficent here, it must be the same there. Then would nations exist without perpetual and reciprocal watchfulness. But the first step is to discard the wasteful, oppressive, and pernicious provocative to war, which is yet maintained at such terrible cost. To-day this glorious advance is presented to France and Germany.
KING WILLIAM AND COUNT BISMARCK.
Two personages at this moment hold in their hands the great question teeming with a new civilization. Honest and determined, both are patriotic rather than cosmopolitan or Christian, believing in Prussia rather than Humanity. And the patriotism so strong in each keeps still the early tinge of iron. I refer to King William and his Prime-Minister, Count Bismarck.
More than any other European sovereign, William of Prussia possesses the infatuation of "divine right." He believes that he was appointed by God to be King—differing here from Louis Napoleon, who in a spirit of compromise entitled himself Emperor "by the grace of God and the national will." This infatuation was illustrated at his coronation in ancient Konigsberg,—first home of Prussian royalty, and better famous as birthplace and lifelong home of Immanuel Kant,—when the King enacted a scene of melodrama which might be transferred from the church to the theatre. No other person was allowed to place the crown on his royal head. Lifting it from the altar, where it rested, he placed it on his head himself, in sign that he held it from Heaven and not from man, and next placed another on the head of the Queen, in sign that her dignity was derived from him. Then, turning round, he grasped the sword of state, in testimony of readiness to defend the nation. Since the Battle of Sadowa, when the Austrian Empire was so suddenly shattered, he has believed himself providential sword-bearer of Germany, destined, perhaps, to revive the old glories of Barbarossa. His habits are soldierly, and, notwithstanding his seventy-three winters, he continues to find pleasure in wearing the spiked helmet of the Prussian camp. Republicans smile when he speaks of "my army," "my allies," and "my people"; but this egotism is the natural expression of the monarchical character, especially where the monarch believes that he holds by "divine right." His public conduct is in harmony with these conditions. He is a Protestant, and rules the land of Luther, but he is no friend to modern Reform. The venerable system of war and prerogative is part of his inheritance handed down from fighting despots, and he evidently believes in it.
His Minister, Count Bismarck, is the partisan of "divine right," and, like the King, regards with satisfaction that hierarchical feudalism from which they are both derived. He is noble, and believes in nobility. He believes also in force, as if he had the blood of the god Thor. He believes in war, and does not hesitate to throw its "iron dice," insisting upon the rigors of the game. As the German question began to lower, his policy was most persistent. "Not by speeches and votes of the majority," he said in 1862, "are the great questions of the time decided,—that was the error of 1848 and 1849,—but by iron and blood." [Footnote: "Nicht durch Reden und Majoritaetsbeschluesse werden die grossen Fragen der Zeit entschieden,—das ist der Fehler von 1848 und 1849 gewesen,—sondern durch Eisen und Blut."—Aeusserungen in der Budgetkommission, September, 1862.]
Thus explicit was he. Having a policy, he became its representative, and very soon thereafter controlled the counsels of his sovereign, coming swiftly before the world; and yet his elevation was tardy. Born in 1815, he did not enter upon diplomacy until 1851, when thirty-six years of age, and only in 1862 became Prussian Minister at Paris, whence he was soon transferred to the Cabinet at Berlin as Prime-Minister. Down to that time he was little known. His name is not found in any edition of the bulky French Dictionary of Contemporaries, [Footnote: Vapereau, Dictionnaire Universel des Contemporains.] not even its "Additions and Rectifications," until the Supplement of 1863. But from this time he drew so large a share of public attention that the contemporary press of the world became the dictionary where his name was always found. Nobody doubts his intellectual resources, his courage, or strength of will; but it is felt that he is naturally hard, and little affected by human sympathy. Therefore is he an excellent war minister. It remains to be seen if he will do as much for peace. His one idea has been the unity of Germany under the primacy of Prussia; and here he encountered Austria, as he now encounters France. But in that larger unity where nations will be conjoined in harmony he can do less, so long at least as he continues a fanatic for kings and a cynic towards popular institutions.
Such is the King, and such his Minister. I have described them that you may see how little help the great ideas already germinating from bloody fields will receive from them. In this respect they are as one.
TWO INFLUENCES VERSUS WAR SYSTEM.
Beyond the most persuasive influence of civilization, pleading, as never before, with voice of reason and affection, that the universal tyrant and master-evil of Christendom, the War System, may cease, and the means now absorbed in its support be employed for the benefit of the Human Family, there are two special influences which cannot be without weight at this time. The first is German authority in the writings of philosophers, by whom Germany rules in thought; and the second is the uprising of the working-men: both against war as acknowledged arbiter between nations, and insisting upon peaceful substitutes.
AUTHORITY OF THE GERMAN MIND.
More than any other nation Germany has suffered from war. Without that fatal gift of beauty, "a dowry fraught with never-ending pain," which tempted the foreigner to Italy, her lot has been hardly less wretched; but Germany has differed from Italy in the successful bravery with which she repelled the invader. Tacitus says of her people, that, "surrounded by numerous and very powerful nations, they are safe, not by obsequiousness, but by battles and braving danger"; [Footnote: "Plurimis ac valentissimis nationibus cincti, non per obsequium, sed prutiis et periclitando tuti sunt."—Germania, Cap. XL.] and this same character, thus epigrammatically presented, has continued ever since. Yet this was not without that painful experience which teaches what Art has so often attempted to picture and Eloquence to describe, "The Miseries of War." Again in that same fearless spirit has Germany driven back the invader, while War is seen anew in its atrocious works. But it was not merely the Miseries of War which Germans regarded. The German mind is philosophical and scientific, and it early saw the irrational character of the War System. It is well known that Henry the Fourth of France conceived the idea of Harmony among Nations without War; and his plan was taken up and elaborated in numerous writings by the good Abbe de Saint-Pierre, so that he made it his own. Rousseau, in his treatise on the subject, [Footnote: J. J. Rousseau, Extrait du Projet de Paix Perpetuelle de M. l'Abbe de Saint-Pierre; avec Lettre a M. de Bastide, et Jugement sur la Paix Perpetuelle: Oeuvres, (edit. 1788-93,) Tom. VII. pp. 339-418.] popularized Saint-Pierre. But it is to Germany that we must look for the most complete and practical development of this beautiful idea. If French in origin, it is German now in authority.