« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
taken the most unnecessary oaths of fidelity to the constitution and the cause of liberty; and the great Revolution was accomplished, in which the wild but free Republic breathed its last, and the Prætorian bands, as in ancient Rome, became the sole arbiters of the destinies of France. With this important event the first volume of M. Lanfrey's History concludes. The wonder is that the French censorship should have ever allowed it to see the light. But this may possibly have been owing to the influence of some sagacious friends of the present Emperor, who think that when all the facts are placed in the full light of day, the fame of the nephew will suffer no diminution by being measured with that of the uncle, and that it would be politic to allow public opinion to put them on a footing of equality as far as possible. The bitterest enemies of Louis Napoleon speak still with the greatest respect of the founder of his dynasty, and endeavour to disparage him by the comparison. Men like Victor Hugo, who in their indomitable independence would have been the first to hate the living tyrant, are ready enough to consecrate his memory at the expense of his sage and moderate successor. An Englishman may now form a cooler and juster estimate than of yore. If Napoleon I. hated England, it was only a natural return for the implacable animosity of the English nation to him. He would have been willing enough, as he said at St Helena, to have let the English alone in their dominion of the sea, if they had let him alone to work his will on the Continent. We strove in our wars with him to make ourselves the champions of the quarrels of others, as well as of abstract principles, and reaped so little gratitude thereby, and found our glory so expensive, that we seem now inclined to surrender entirely our position as a European power. If we are still interested in European questions, it is mainly
because the present ruler of France, the corner-stone of whose policy has always been the English alliance, keeps us up to the mark. Of course, if we have to choose between the greatness of the two men, we should naturally prefer one who has been for sixteen years our consistent friend, to one who during the same period was our most dangerous enemy. And he has been our friend through evil report and good report, though we have often, in our insular pride, slighted his advances, and on one occasion refused to take measures to prevent a recurrence of a desperate conspiracy against his life, which was unfortunately hatched on our soil. The most valuable legacy which Lord Palmerston left his country was his statesmanlike conviction that a firm alliance with France was her true policy, and this conviction has always coincided with that of the Emperor.
The temporary weakening of that alliance has been attended already with the most momentous consequences. Had it been more strongly cemented, we might have stopped at its beginning the frightful Civil War in America; and instead of allowing a monster Democracy to form itself, which threatens the rights and liberties of the whole world, have secured the division of North America into two great Republics, to the inestimable advantage of each of them, and with an incalculable saving of blood and treasure, we might have insisted on Russia performing her engagements with respect to Poland, instead of absorbing that unhappy country, we might have prevented the spoliation of Denmark, which brought on so deadly a quarrel between the two robbers that one was laid prostrate at the feet of the other, we might have favoured a peaceful consolidation of Germany, instead of looking on while her smaller States were overturned by violence, and her free but patriarchal governments forced to bow
their necks under the iron yoke of Prussia, we might, if we pleased, have shared the gratitude of the Italians, as the joint-founders of their nationality, instead of their owing it half to France and half to Prussia, and lastly, in concert with France, we might have prevented the formation of another great military empire on the French frontier, the equality of whose resources, and the similarity of whose institutions as now altered, is likely to lead ere long to a gigantic fight for the championship of Europe, even if the little affair of Luxemburg be safely settled. Some, however, consider this no affair of ours, and see a safeguard to England in the rivalry of Prussia to France, and this from a distrust of the French character which history undoubtedly justifies. The opportunity for all this has passed by; but the alliance of England and France, which might have secured the supremacy of those two States in the world, and bound over all other nations to keep the peace, is still a matter of the utmost importance, for powers have been allowed to lift their heads, against whose possible aggressions such an alliance is the only pledge of comparative security. England and France, in consequence of their mutual coolnesses, must now be content to abdicate their position as the world's police, happy if only by a close union they can preserve their own persons and properties from pillage, assault, and battery. A few years ago, by keeping up their absolute and relative positions, they might have disarmed themselves, and effected the disarmament of the world, inaugurating by mere preponderance of protecting force a millennium of peace; now nothing is to be seen before us but a vista of chaos and confusion, and a great gulf of military expenditure, both in men and money, which will make life a burden to the citizens of great nations, while those of small ones tremble for the remnant of their liberties
and the shadow of a national existence. It is not our good friend Napoleon III., but the American Federals and Count Bismark and his master, who have acted on the traditions of the First Empire in our generation, which were, after all, but a plagiarism from the times of Frederick the Great of Prussia. That great captain acted on the simple principle of unscrupulous aggrandisement; a principle by no means new, but generally restrained in ancient times by some moral or religious weakness in kings and conquerors, which the disciple of Voltaire despised, and by despising gained a vast accession of power. It was reserved for the grandson of the great Frederick to improve on his atheistic principles by investing brigandage with the odour of sanctity, and enlisting the sympathies of Exeter Hall as the champion of Protestant ascendancy in the North of Europe, while his acts display a heart as rugged as the nether millstone in his dealings with his fellow-men. Taught by historical lessons, the day has perhaps arrived when France is able to contemplate the character of Napoleon I. without prejudice or partiality. Such a contemplation cannot fail to place her present ruler in a much more advantageous light. As far as mere military glory is concerned, the Second Empire may well bear a comparison with the First. . Every victory of Napoleon I. had to be paid for by disastrous defeat, and the final national humiliation surpassed in its bathos the utmost "pride of place" attained by the eagle of his reign; whereas Napoleon III., by slightly modifying his uncle's maxim of "impossible n'est pas Français," and confining himself to the limits of the attainable, has secured for France during his tenure of power an uninterrupted series of victories, uncheckered by a single important reverse-has raised his country to a pre-eminence in the arts of peace which she had never
known before has made her rich and respected in the commercial world, by boldly adopting freetrade principles in spite of the prejudices of his subjects, and the opposition of narrow-minded selfinterest has made Paris the wonder of the world in beauty and convenience for residence-and, although despotic in his rule, has done more to advance real substantial freedom than all the Governments preceding him, even including the Republic. Though the Press may have been more free under Louis Philippe, it must be remembered that the restrictions on trade in his reign were founded on the narrowest principles of exclusion, and that, while the passport system was applied with its utmost rigour to foreigners, no born Frenchman even could pass from one town to another without leave. If the right of meeting existed, it was violated at the pleasure of the Government, since it was such a violation that produced the Revolution of 1848. In asking for more extended liberties, the French forget what they have gained under the present reign. There is no doubt which way the personal sympathies of the Emperor lean; and if the Opposition would clearly show that they only mean friendly criticism of, and not hostile action against, the existing power, there is every probability that he would give the country all it sighs for, or at least all that is good for it, and all that is advisable in a regime behind which is Universal Suffrage. It must not be forgotten that Louis Napoleon was carried into power on the prestige of the First Empire; that the coup-d'état was in a manner forced upon him, with the alternative of abdicating his position altogether; that it was not open to him to remain President of the Republic if he had wished it, because France insisted on having an Emperor, under whom she hoped to revive her former military glories.
He has so steered his course for sixteen years, that he has managed to satisfy the vanity of France, and to do her more good than evil at the same time, which was far from being the case with his famous predecessor, who left her in the most. miserable state in which it was possible for a ruler to leave a nation; he has on the whole behaved well and justly towards other nations, and the two political blunders that he has made are pardonable errors in judgment: one being a wellmeant attempt to restore good government to a distracted country; the other resulting from too close an imitation of the non-intervention policy of England. The present state of Mexico is a justification of the French expedition, which would doubtless have been a success if the American Confederates had been successful in asserting their independence, and if England had properly supported France in recognising the South; and the aggression on Denmark and the war which laid Germany at the feet of Prussia, were allowed to take place, partly because the Emperor had had too much experience of the untrustworthy policy of our Foreign Office, partly because it was generally believed that the war between Austria and Prussia would be long and indecisive. It is easy to say after the event that the Emperor ought never to have allowed it to take place at all. Many patriotic Germans believed, that nothing better could happen than that their two bullies should give each other a thorough pommelling, and allow the spirit of the small States, which excelled as much in liberty and intellectual life as they did in brute force, to assert itself for the regeneration of the country. Certainly, whatever it may be for us, the revolution which has converted Germany into a vast Prussian barrack, is a great calamity both for herself and for France. Instead of disarmament being
thought of, the French army must now be increased and brought to its highest perfection, to meet any possible aggressions from such a formidable neighbour; peasants must be torn from the fields more pitilessly than ever, and the commercial prosperity of the country checked in its growth, for how long a period it is impossible to say. Many intelligent Frenchmen think that a short and sharp struggle for the mastery would, with any result, be less calamitous than such an armed and threatening peace as is likely to ensue now. Certain it is that the French alliance is more necessary to us than ever, and the closer it is made, and the more of the small States it can be made to include, the better it will be for all the parties interested. The alliance of America, Russia, and Prussia, would be quite a match for that of England and France; and it would be as well to take every possible precaution, for if not quite probable as yet, it is always possible. When Russia makes her next attack on the Ottoman Empire, we shall know whether or not she has really ceded all that large territory in North America to the United States for little more than an old
song. It is sad that the present combination of affairs threatens to dissolve our old family connection with Germany, a country with which we have never yet been in a position of hostile collision, which will infallibly ensue if the Germans try to emulate our naval supremacy, as well as the military supremacy of the French. It has been said with a degree of satire, that Nature, in dividing her empire, gave England the sea, France the land, and Germany the air. Taken seriously, this might mean that while her sisters excelled her in arms and commerce, Germany excelled them in the fields of science and art, and that her standard of general education was higher than that of either. Why could she not be satisfied with this gentle supremacy? In coveting new realms which do not naturally belong to her, she imperils that which is peculiarly her own. In future European complications, however much sympathies of race may draw us towards Germany, our interests will probably be found to coincide with those of our next-door neighbours, and when a choice is forced upon us, we shall, in all likelihood, be found at their side.
THE ROYAL ACADEMY AND OTHER EXHIBITIONS.
THE Academy, by common consent, reaches an excellence not known for many a day. Yet the losses sustained through death have, within the last few years, been so fearful, that to recount them would seem to show that a good Academy, measured at least by our old standards, were henceforth all but impossible. Still, happily, such is the vitality within our English school that the gaps made by the dead are filled by the living, so that while we mourn over our losses, we may be permitted to rejoice in our great possessions. The Academy, indeed, has been singularly fortunate in the recent acquisitions she has made through new elections; and, as usual, she owes much to the recurrent aid of the whole army of outsiders, whom no injury or insult can discourage or drive away. Some dozen works may be enumerated which of themselves would suffice to render the Exhibition illustrious. The post of honour has been assigned to Mr Frith's painful but powerful picture, 'Charles the Second's Last Sunday.' Pictures too of singular beauty and interest by Mr Millais have been the talk of the season: the two charming children, taken it is said from the artist's own nursery, the one. Asleep' in bed, the other Awake' at morning's dawn, have been the delight of all Exhibitiongoers. Mr Elmore, it is evident, has gained something more than health by his recent sojourn in Algiers: seldom has a work more artistic in treatment, more lovely in colour, been brought from climes long the paradise of painters. Mr Goodall, also in colours glowing, and forms noble, recalls scenes from Holy Writ. The Academy, we have said, has gathered strength by recent elections. Mr Pettie is no sooner an Associate than he puts forth powers beyond the expecta
tion even of his friends. 'Treason' is indeed a desperate conspiracy. The composition tells its story unmistakably. Mr Yeames, another young Associate, justifies his election by a sober, serious-minded picture taken from Wycliffe's Reformation. Mr Watts gave promise of an 'Eve,' whereof the tentative studies had gained admiration in the artist's studio. He favours the Academy with portraits rare in excellence. The expectant 'Eve,' who did not present herself, it has been supposed would be shy of companionship with the 'Venus disrobed,' by the delicate hands of Mr Leighton. Certainly Mr Leighton is at his very best: he has been under the inspiration of ancient Greeks. We must not forget, in recounting the services of young Associates, a skilful composition by Mr Calderon, Home after Victory.' And then, lastly, to the preceding enumeration of chef-d'œuvres may be added contributions from clever outsiders who make good their claims to admission within the pale. Sir Noel Paton presents a bewitching reverie in fairyland, which we shall descant upon hereafter. Mr Poynter paints Israel's bondage in Egypt with the circumstantial detail of a contemporary chronicler. Lastly, in landscape, Mr Graham for a second time makes his power felt as he tramps with heavy footfall O'er Moor and Moss.' Such is a rapid sketch of salient points the Academy presents. We shall now proceed to fill in the details.
Of High Art, in the old sense of the term, there is next to none. The change that has come over the English in common with Continental schools is remarkable. Heroic noses, Jupiter brows, Herculean muscles, Roman togas, and other paraphernalia of high historic schools, are out of fashion and obsolete. A