Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A History of The Nations and Empires Involved and a Study by Logan Marshall

Part 4 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Rarely in the history of the world has so trivial a cause given
rise to such stupendous military and political events as took
place in France in a brief interval following this blind leap
into hostilities. Instead of a triumphant march to Berlin and the
dictation of peace from its palace, France was to find itself in
two months' time without an emperor or an army, and in a few
months more completely subdued and occupied by foreign troops,
while Paris had been made the scene of a terrible siege and a
frightful communistic riot, and a republic had succeeded the
empire. It was such a series of events as have seldom been
compressed within the short interval of half a year.

In truth Napoleon and his advisers were blinded by their hopes to
the true state of affairs. The army on which they depended, and
which they assumed to be in a high state of efficiency and
discipline, was lacking in almost every requisite of an efficient
force. The first Napoleon had been his own minister of war. The
third Napoleon, when told by his war minister that "not a single
button was wanted on a single gaiter," took the words for the
fact, and hurled an army without supplies and organization
against the most thoroughly organized army the world had ever
known. That the French were as brave as the Germans goes without
saying; they fought desperately, but from the first confusion
reigned in their movements, while military science of the highest
kind dominated those of the Germans.

Napoleon was equally mistaken as to the state of affairs in
Germany. The disunion upon which he counted vanished at the first
threat of war. All Germany felt itself threatened and joined
hands in defense. The declaration of war was received there with
as deep an enthusiasm as in France and excited a fervent
eagerness for the struggle. The new popular song, DIE WACHT AM
RHEIN ("The Watch on the Rhine"), spread rapidly from end to end
of the country, and indicated the resolution of the German people
to defend to the death the frontier stream of their country.


The French looked for a parade march to Berlin, even fixing the
day of their entrance into that city - August 15th, the emperor's
birthday. On the contrary, they failed to set their foot on
German territory, and soon found themselves engaged in a death
struggle with the invaders of their own land. In truth, while the
Prussian diplomacy was conducted by Bismarck, the ablest
statesman Prussia had ever known, the movements of the army were
directed by far the best tactician Europe then possessed, the
famous Von Moltke, to whose strategy the rapid success of the war
against Austria had been due. In the war with France Von Moltke,
though too old to lead the armies in person, was virtually
commander-in-chief, and arranged those masterly combinations
which overthrew all the power of France in so remarkably brief a
period. Under his directions, from the moment war was declared
everything worked with clock-like precision. It was said that Von
Moltke had only to touch a bell and all went forward. As it was,
the Crown Prince Frederick fell upon the French while still
unprepared, won the first battle, and steadily held the advantage
to the end, the French being beaten by the strategy that kept the
Germans in superior strength at all decisive points.

But to return to the events of war. On July 23, 1870, the Emperor
Napoleon, after making his wife, Eugenie regent of France, set
out with his son at the head of the army, full of high hopes of
victory and triumph. By the end of July King William had also set
out from Berlin to join the armies that were then in rapid
motion, towards the frontier.

The emperor made his way to Metz, where was stationed his main
army, about 200,000 strong, under Marshals Bazaine and Canrobert
and General Bourgaki. Further east, under Marshal MacMahon, the
hero of Magenta, was the southern army, of about 100,000 men. A
third army occupied the camp at Chalons, while a well-manned
fleet set sail for the Baltic, to blockade the harbors and assail
the coast of Germany. The German army was likewise in three
divisions, the first, of 61,000 men, under General Steinmetz; the
second, of 206,000 men, under Prince Frederick Charles; and the
third, of 180,000 men, under the crown prince and General
Blumenthal. The king, commander-in-chief of the whole, was in the
center, and with him the general staff under the guidance of the
alert von Moltke. Bismarck and the minister of war Von Roon were
also present, and so rapid was the movement of these great forces
that in two weeks after the order to march was given 300,000
armed Germans stood in rank along the Rhine.


The two armies first came together on August 2d, near Saarbruck,
on the frontier line of the hostile kingdoms. It was the one
success of the French, for the Prussians, after a fight in which
both sides lost equally, retired in good order. This was
proclaimed by the French papers as a brilliant victory, and
filled the people with undue hopes of glory. It was the last
favorable report, for they were quickly overwhelmed with tidings
of defeat and disaster.

Weissenburg, on the borders of Rhenish Bavaria, had been invested
by a division of MacMahon's army. On August 4th the right wing of
the army of the Crown Prince Frederick attacked and repulsed this
investing force after a hot engagement, in which its leader,
General Douay, was killed, and the loss on both sides was heavy.
Two days later occurred a battle which decided the fate of the
whole war, that of Worth-Reideshofen, where the army of the crown
prince met that of MacMahon, and after a desperate struggle,
which continued for fifteen hours, completely defeated him, with
very heavy losses on both sides. MacMahon retreated in haste
towards the army at Chalons, while the crown prince took
possession of Alsace, and prepared for the reduction of the
fortresses on the Rhine, from Strasburg to Belfort. On the same
day as that of the battle of Worth, General Steinmetz stormed the
heights of Spicheren, and, though at great loss of life, drove
Frossard from those heights and back upon Metz.

The occupation of Alsace was followed by that of Lorraine, by the
Prussian army under King William, who took possession of Nancy
and the country surrounding on August 11th. These two provinces
had at one time belonged to Germany, and it was the aim of the
Prussians to retain them as the chief anticipated prize of the
war. Meanwhile the world looked on in amazement at the
extraordinary rapidity of the German success, which, in two weeks
after Napoleon left Paris, had brought his power to the verge of


Towards the Moselle River and the strongly fortified town of
Metz, 180 miles northeast of Paris, around which was concentrated
the main French force, all the divisions of the German army now
advanced, and on the 14th of August they gained a victory at
Colombey-Nouilly which drove their opponents back from the open
field towards the fortified city.

It was Moltke's opinion that the French proposed to make their
stand before this impregnable fortress, and fight there
desperately for victory. But, finding less resistance than he
expected, he concluded, on the 15th, that Bazaine, in fear of
being cooped up within the fortress, meant to march towards
Verdun, there to join his forces with those of MacMahon and give
battle to the Germans in the plain.

The astute tactician at once determined to make every effort to
prevent such a concentration of his opponents, and by the evening
of the 15th a cavalry division had crossed the Moselle and
reached the village of Mars-la-Tour, where it bivouacked for the
night. It had seen troops in motion towards Metz, hut did not
know whether these formed the rear-guard of the French army or
its vanguard in its march towards Verdun.

In fact, Bazaine had not yet got away with his army. All the
roads from Metz were blocked with heavy baggage, and it was
impossible to move so large an army with expedition. The time
thus lost by Bazaine was diligently improved by Frederick
Charles, and on the morning of the 16th the Brandenburg army
corps, one of the best and bravest in the German army, had
followed the cavalry and come within sight of the Verdun road. It
was quickly perceived that a French force was before them, and
some preliminary skirmishing developed the enemy in such strength
as to convince the leader of the corps that he had in his front
the whole or the greater part of Bazaine's army, and that its
escape from Metz had not been achieved.

They were desperate odds with which the brave Brandenburgers had
to contend, but they had been sent to hold the French until
reinforcements could arrive, and they were determined to resist
to the death. For nearly six hours they resisted, with
unsurpassed courage, the fierce onslaughts of the French, though
at a cost of life that perilously depleted the gallant corps.
Then, about four o'clock in the afternoon, Prince Frederick
Charles came up with reinforcements to their support and the
desperate contest became more even.


Gradually fortune decided in favor of the Germans, and by the
time night had come they were practically victorious, the field
of Mars-la-Tour, after the day's struggle, remaining in their
hands. But they were utterly exhausted, their horses were worn
out, and most of their ammunition was spent, and though their
impetuous commander forced them to a new attack, it led to a
useless loss of life, for their powers of fighting were gone.
They had achieved a fearful loss, amounting to about 16,000 men
on each side. "The battle of Vionville (Mars-la-Tour) is without
a parallel in military history," said Emperor William, "seeing
that a single army corps, about 20,000 men strong, hung on to and
repulsed an enemy more than five times as numerous and well
equipped. Such was the glorious deed done by the Brandenburgers,
and the Hohenzollerns will never forget the debt they owe to
their devotion."

Two days afterwards (August 16th) at Gravelotte, a village
somewhat nearer to Metz, the armies, somewhat recovered from the
terrible struggle of the 14th, met again, the whole German army
being now brought up, so that over 100,000 men faced the 140,000
of the French. It was the great battle of the war. For four hours
the two armies stood fighting face to face, without any special
result, neither being able to drive back the other. The French
held their ground and died. The Prussians dashed upon them and
died. Only late in the evening was the right wing of the French
army broken, and the victory, which at five o'clock remained
uncertain, was decided in favor of the Germans. More than 40,000
men lay dead and wounded upon the field, the terrible harvest of
those nine hours of conflict. That night Bazaine withdrew his
army behind the fortifications at Metz. His effort to join
MacMahon had ended in failure.

It was the fixed purpose of the Prussians to detain him in that
stronghold, and thus render practically useless to France its
largest army. A siege was to be prosecuted, and an army of
150,000 men was extended around the town. The fortifications were
far too strong to be taken by assault, and all depended on a
close blockade. On August 31st Bazaine made an effort to break
through the German lines, but was repulsed. It became now a
question of how long the provisions of the French would hold out.


The French emperor, who had been with Bazaine, had left his army
before the battle of Mars-la-Tour, and was now with MacMahon at
Chalons. Here lay an army of 125,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry.
On it the Germans were advancing, in doubt as to what movement it
would make, whether back towards Paris or towards Metz for the
relief of Bazaine. They sought to place themselves in a position
to check either. The latter movement was determined on by the
French, but was carried out in a dubious and uncertain manner,
the time lost giving abundant opportunity to the Germans to learn
what was afoot and to prepare to prevent it. As soon as they were
aware of MacMahon's intention of proceeding to Metz they made
speedy preparations to prevent his relieving Bazaine. By the last
days of August the army of the crown prince had reached the right
bank of the Aisne, and the fourth division gained possession of
the line of the Meuse. On August 30th the French under General de
Failly were attacked by the Germans at Beaumont and put to flight
with heavy loss. It was evident that the hope of reaching Metz
was at an end, and MacMahon, abandoning the attempt, concentrated
his army around the frontier fortress of Sedan.

This old town stands on the right bank of the Meuse, in an angle
of territory between Luxembourg and Belgium, and is surrounded by
meadows, gardens, ravines, ditches and cultivated fields; the
castle rising on a cliff-like eminence to the southwest of the
place. MacMahon had stopped here to give his weary men a rest,
not to fight, but von Moltke decided, on observing the situation,
that Sedan should be the grave-yard of the French army. "The trap
is now closed, and the mouse in it," he said, with a chuckle of

Such proved to be the case. On September 1st the Bavarians won
the village of Bazeille, after hours of bloody and desperate
struggle. During this severe fight Marshal MacMahon was so
seriously wounded that he was obliged to surrender the chief
command, first to Duerot, and then to General Wimpffen, a man of
recognized bravery and cold calculation.

Fortune soon showed itself in favor of the Germans. To the
northwest of the town, the North German troops invested the exits
from St. Meuges and Fleigneux, and directed a fearful fire of
artillery against the French forces, which, before noon, were so
hemmed in the valley that only two insufficient outlets to the
south and north remained open. But General Wimpffen hesitated to
seize either of these routes, the open way to Illy was soon
closed by the Prussian guard corps, and a murderous fire was now
directed from all sides upon the French, so that, after a last
energetic struggle, they gave up all attempts to force a passage,
and in the afternoon beat a retreat towards Sedan. In this small
town the whole army of MacMahon was collected by evening, and
there prevailed in the streets and houses an unprecedented
disorder and confusion, which was still further increased when
the German troops from the surrounding heights began to shoot
down upon the fortress, and the town took fire in several places.


That an end might be put to the prevailing misery, Napoleon now
commanded General Wimpffen to capitulate. The flag of truce
already waved on the gates of Sedan when Colonel Bronsart
appeared, and in the name of the king of Prussia demanded the
surrender of the army and fortress. He soon returned to
headquarters, accompanied by the French General Reille, who
presented to the king a written message from Napoleon: "As I may
not die in the midst of my army, I lay my sword in the hands of
your majesty." King William accepted it with an expression of
sympathy for the hard fate of the emperor and of the French army
which had fought so bravely under his own eyes. The conclusion of
the treaty of capitulation was placed in the hands of Wimpffen,
who, accompanied by General Castelnau, set out for Donchery to
negotiate with Moltke and Bismarck. No attempts, however, availed
to move Moltke from his stipulation for the surrender of the
whole army at discretion; he granted a short respite, but if this
expired without surrender, the bombardment of the town was to
begin anew.

At six o'clock in the morning the capitulation was signed and was
ratified by the king at his headquarters at Vendresse (2d
September). Thus the world beheld the incredible spectacle of an
army of 83,000 men surrendering themselves and their weapons to
the victor, and being carried off as prisoners of war to Germany.
Only the officers who gave their written word of honor to take no
further part in the present war with Germany were permitted to
retain their arms and personal property. Probably the assurance
of Napoleon, the he had sought death on the battle-field but had
not found it, was literally true; at any rate, the fate of the
unhappy man, bowed down as he was both by physical and mental
suffering, was so solemn and tragic that there was no room for
hypocrisy, and that he had exposed himself to personal danger was
admitted on all sides. Accompanied by Count Bismarck, he stopped
at a small and mean-looking laborer's inn on the road to
Donchery, where, sitting down on a stone seat before the door,
with Count Bismarck, he declared that he had not desired the war,
but had been driven to it through the force of public opinion;
and afterwards the two proceeded to the little castle of
Bellevue, near Frenois, to join King William and the crown
prince. A telegram to Queen Augusta thus describes the interview:
"What an impressive moment was the meeting with Napoleon! He was
cast down, but dignified in his bearing. I have granted him
Wilhelmshohe, near Cassel, as his residence. Our meeting took
place in a little castle before the western glacis of Sedan.


The locking up of Bazaine in Metz and the capture of MacMahon's
army at Sedan were events fatal to France. The struggle continued
for months, but it was a fight against hope. The subsequent
events of the war consisted of a double siege, that of Metz and
that of Paris, with various minor sieges, and a desperate but
hopeless effort of France in the field. As for the empire of
Napoleon III, it was at an end. The tidings of the terrible
catastrophe at Sedan filled the people with a fury that soon
became revolutionary. While Jules Favre, the republican deputy,
was offering a motion in the Assembly that the emperor had
forfeited the crown, and that a provisional government should be
established, the people were thronging the streets of Paris with
cries of "Deposition! Republic!" On the 4th of September the
Assembly had its final meeting. Two of its prominent members,
Jules Favre and Gambetta, sustained the motion for deposition of
the emperor, and it was carried after a stormy session. They then
made their way to the senate-chamber, where, before a thronging
audience, they proclaimed a republic and named a government for
the national defense. At its head was General Trochu, military
commandant at Paris. Favre was made minister of foreign affairs;
Gambetta, minister of the interior; and other prominent members
of te Assembly filled the remaining cabinet posts. The
legislature was dissolved, the Palais de Bourbon was closed, and
the Empress Eugenie quitted the Tuileries and made her escape
with a few attendants to Belgium, whence she sought a refuge in
England. Prince Louis Napoleon made his way to Italy, and the
swarm of courtiers scattered in all directions; some faithful
followers of the deposed monarch seeking the castle of
Wilhelmshohe, where the unhappy Louis Napoleon occupied as a
prison the same beautiful palace and park in which his uncle
Jerome Bonaparte had once passed six years in a life of pleasure.
The second French Empire was at an end; the third French Republic
had begun - one that had to pass through many changes and escape
many dangers before it would be firmly established.

"Not a foot's breadth of our country nor a stone of our
fortresses shall be surrendered," was Jules Favre's defiant
proclamation to the invaders, and the remainder of the soldiers
in the field were collected in Paris, and strengthened with all
available reinforcements. Every person capable of bearing arms
was enrolled in the national army, which soon numbered 400,000
men. There was need of haste, for the victors at Sedan were
already marching upon the capital, inspired with high hopes from
their previous astonishing success. They knew that Paris was
strongly fortified, being encircled by powerful lines of defense,
but they trusted that hunger would soon bring its garrison to
terms. The same result was looked for at Metz, and at Strasbourg,
which was also besieged.

Thus began at three main points and several minor ones a military
siege the difficulties, dangers, and hardships of which surpassed
even those of the winter campaign in the Crimea. Exposed at the
fore-posts to the enemy's balls, chained to arduous labor in the
trenches and redoubts, and suffering from the effects of bad
weather, and insufficient food and clothing, the German soldiers
were compelled to undergo great privations and sufferings before
the fortifications; while many fell in the frequent skirmishes
and sallies, many succumbed to typhus and epidemic disease.

No less painful and distressing was the condition of the
besieged. While the garrison soldiers on guard were constantly
compelled to face death in nocturnal sallies, or led a pitiable
existence in damp huts, having inevitable surrender constantly
before their eyes, and disarmament and imprisonment as the reward
of all their struggles and exertions, the citizens in the towns,
the women and children, were in constant danger of being shivered
to atoms by the fearful shells, or of being buried under falling
walls and roofs; and the poorer part of the population saw with
dismay the gradual diminution of the necessaries of life, and
were often compelled to pacify their hunger with the flesh of
horses, and disgusting and unwholesome food.


The republican government possessed only a usurped power, and
none but a freely elected national assembly could decide as to
the fate of the French nation. Such an assembly was therefore
summoned for the 16th of October. Three members of the government
- Cremieux, Fourichon, and Glais-Bizoin - were despatched before
the entire blockade of the city had been effected, to Tours, to
maintain communication with the provinces. An attempt was also
made at the same time to induce the great Powers which had not
taken part in the war to organize an intervention, as hitherto
only America, Switzerland and Spain had sent official
recognition. For this important and delicate mission the old
statesman and historian Thiers was selected, and, in spite of his
three-and-seventy years, immediately set out on the journey to
London, St. Petersburg, Vienna and Florence. Count Bismarck,
however, in the name of Prussia, refused any intervention in
internal affairs. In two despatches to the ambassadors of foreign
courts, the chancellor declared that the war, begun by the
Emperor Napoleon, had been approved by the representatives of the
nation, and that thus all France was answerable for the result.
Germany was obliged, therefore, to demand guarantees which should
secure her in future against attack, or, at any rate, render
attack more difficult. Thus a cession of territory on the part of
France was laid down as the basis of a treaty of peace. The
neutral powers were also led to the belief that if they fostered
in the French any hope of intervention, peace would only be
delayed. The mission of Thiers, therefore, yielded no useful
result, while the direct negotiation which Jules Favre conducted
with Bismarck proved equally unavailing.


Soon the beleaguered fortresses began to fall. On the 23d of
September the ancient town of Toul, in Lorraine, was forced to
capitulate, after a fearful bombardment; and on the 27th
Strasbourg, in danger of the terrible results of a storming,
after the havoc of a dreadful artillery fire, hoisted the white
flag, and surrendered on the following day. The supposed
impregnable fortress of Metz held out little longer. Hunger did
what cannon were incapable of doing. The successive sallies made
by Bazaine proved unavailing, though, on October 7th his soldiers
fought with desperate energy, and for hours the air was full of
the roar of cannon and mitrailleuse and the rattle of musketry.
But the Germans withstood the attack unmoved, and the French were
forced to withdraw into the town.

Bazaine then sought to negotiate with the German leaders at
Versailles, offering to take no part in the war for three months
if permitted to withdraw. But Bismarck and Moltke would listen to
no terms other than unconditional surrender, and these terms were
finally accepted, the besieged army having reached the brink of
starvation. It was with horror and despair that France learned on
the 30th of October, that the citadel of Metz, with its
fortifications and arms of defense, had been yielded to the
Germans, and its army of more than 150,000 men had surrendered as
prisoners of war.

This hasty surrender at Metz, a still greater disaster to France
than that of Sedan, was not emulated at Paris, which for four
months held out against all the efforts of the Germans. On the
investment of the great city, King William removed his
headquarters to the historic palace of Versailles, setting up his
homely camp-bed in the same apartments from which Lois XIV had
once issued his despotic edicts and commands. Here Count Bismarck
conducted his diplomatic labors and Moltke issued his directions
for the siege, which, protracted from week to week and month to
month, gradually transformed the beautiful neighborhood, with its
prosperous villages, superb country houses, and enchanting parks
and gardens, into a scene of sadness and desolation.


In spite of the vigorous efforts made by the commander-in-chief
Trochu, both by continuous firing from the forts and by repeated
sallies, to prevent Paris from being surrounded, and to force a
way through the trenches, his enterprises were rendered fruitless
by the watchfulness and strength of the Germans. The blockade was
completely accomplished; Paris was surrounded and cut off from
the outer world; even the underground telegraphs, through which
communication was for a time secretly maintained with the
provinces, were by degrees discovered and destroyed. But to the
great astonishment of Europe, which looked on with keenly pitched
excitement at the mighty struggle, the siege continued for months
without any special progress being observable from without or any
lessening of resistance from within. On account of the extension
of the forts, the Germans were compelled to remain at such a
distance that a bombardment of the town at first appeared
impossible; a storming of the outer works would, moreover, be
attended with such sacrifices that the humane temper of the king
revolted from such a proceeding. The guns of greater force and
carrying power which were needed from Germany, could only be
procured after long delay on account of the broken lines of
railway. Probably also there was some hesitation on the German
side to expose the beautiful city, regarded by so many as the
"metropolis of civilization," to the risk of a bombardment, in
which works of art, science, and a historical past would meet
destruction. Nevertheless, the declamations of the French at the
vandalism of the northern barbarians met with assent and sympathy
from most of the foreign Powers.

Determination and courage falsified the calculations at
Versailles of a quick cessation of the resistance. The republic
offered a far more energetic and determined opposition to the
Prussian arms than the empire had done. The government of the
national defense still declaimed with stern reiteration: "Not a
foot's breadth of our country; not a stone of our fortresses!"
and positively rejected all proposals of treaty based on
territorial concessions. Faith in the invincibility of the
republic was rooted as an indisputable dogma in the hearts of the
French people. The victories and the commanding position of
France from 1792 to 1799 were regarded as so entirely the
necessary result of the Revolution, that a conviction prevailed
that the formation of a republic, with a national army for its
defense, would have an especial effect on the rest of Europe.
Therefore, instead of summoning a constituent Assembly, which, in
the opinion of Prussia and the other foreign Powers, would alone
be capable of offering security for a lasting peace, it was
decided to continue the revolutionary movements, and to follow
the same course which, in the years 1792 and 1793, had saved
France from the coalition of the European Powers. It was held
that a revolutionary dictatorship such as had once been exercised
by the Convention and the members of the Committee of Public
Safety, must again be revived, and a youthful and hot-blooded
leader was alone needed to stir up popular feeling and set it in

To fill such a part no one was better adapted than the advocate
Gambetta, who emulated the career of the leaders of the
Revolution, and whose soul glowed with a passionate ardor of
patriotism. In order to create for himself a free sphere of
action, and to initiate some vigorous measure in place of the
well-rounded phrases and eloquent proclamations of his colleagues
Trochu and Jules Favre, he quitted the capital in an air-balloon
and entered into communication with the government delegation at
Tours, which through him soon obtained a fresh impetus. His next
most important task was the liberation of the capital from the
besieging German army, and the expulsion of the enemy from the
"sacred" soil of France. For this purpose he summoned, with the
authority of a minister of war, all persons capable of bearing
arms up to forty years of age to take active service, and
despatched them into the field; he imposed war-taxes, and
terrified the tardy and refractory with threats of punishment.
Every force was put in motion; all France was transformed into a
great camp.

A popular war was now to take the place of a soldier's war, and
what the soldiers had failed to effect must be accomplished by
the people; France must be saved, and the world freed from
despotism. To promote this object, the whole of France, with the
exception of Paris, was divided into four general governments,
the headquarters of the different governors being Lille, Le Mans,
Bourges, and Besancon. Two armies, from the Loire and from the
Somme, were to march simultaneously towards Paris, and aided by
the sallies of Trochu and his troops, were to drive the enemy
from the country. Energetic attacks were now attempted from time
to time, in the hope that when the armies of relief arrived from
the provinces, it might be possible to effect a coalition; but
all these efforts were constantly repulsed after a hot struggle
by the besieging German troops. At the same time, during the
month of October, the territory between the Oise and the Lower
Seine was scoured by reconnoitering troops, under Prince
Albrecht, the southeast district was protected by a Wurtemberg
detachment through the successful battle near Nogent on the
Seine, while a division of the third army advanced towards the
south accompanied by two cavalry divisions. A more unfortunate
circumstance, however, for the Parisians was the cutting off of
all communication with the outer world, for the Germans had
destroyed the telegraphs. But even this obstacle was overcome by
the inventive genius of the French. By means of pigeon
letter-carriers and air-balloons, they were always able to
maintain a partial though one-sided and imperfect communication
with the provinces, and the aerostatic art was developed and
brought to perfection on this occasion in a manner which had
never before been considered possible.


The whole of France, and especially the capital, was already in a
state of intense excitement when the news of the capitulation of
Metz came to add fresh fuel to the flame. Outside the walls
Gambetta was using heroic efforts to increase his forces,
bringing Bedouin horsemen from Africa and inducing the stern old
revolutionist Garibaldi to come to his aid; and Thiers was
opening fresh negotiations for a truce. Inside the walls the Red
Republic raised the banners of insurrection and attempted to
drive the government of national defense from power.

This effort of the dregs of revolution to inaugurate a reign of
terror failed, and the provisional government felt so elated with
its victory that it determined to continue at the head of affairs
and to oppose the calling of a chamber of national
representatives. The members proclaimed oblivion for what had
passed, broke off the negotiations for a truce begun by Thiers,
and demanded a vote of confidence. The indomitable spirit shown
by the French people did not, on the other hand, inspire the
Germans with a very lenient or conciliatory temper. Bismarck
declared in a despatch the reasons why the negotiations had
failed: "The incredible demand that we should surrender the
fruits of all our efforts during the last two months, and should
go back to the conditions which existed at the beginning of the
blockade of Paris, only affords fresh proof that in Paris
pretexts are sought for refusing the nation the right of
election." Thiers mournfully declared the failure of his
undertaking, but in Paris the popular voting resulted in a
ten-fold majority in favor of the government and the policy of

After the breaking off of the negotiations, the world anticipated
some energetic action towards the besieged city. The efforts of
the enemy were, however, principally directed to drawing the iron
girdle still tighter, enclosing the giant city more and more
closely, and cutting off every means of communication, so that at
last a surrender might be brought about by the stern necessity of
starvation. That this object would not be accomplished as
speedily as at Metz, that the city of pleasure, enjoyment, and
luxury would withstand a siege of four months, had never been
contemplated for a moment. It is true that, as time went on, all
fresh meat disappeared from the market, with the exception of
horse-flesh; that white bread, on which Parisians place such
value, was replaced by a baked compound of meal and bran; that
the stores of dried and salted food began to decline, until at
last rats, dogs, cats, and even animals from the zoological
gardens were prepared for consumption at restaurants.

Yet, to the amazement of the world, all these miseries,
hardships, and sufferings were courageously borne, nocturnal
watch was kept, sallies were undertaken, and cold, hunger, and
wretchedness of all kinds were endured with an indomitable
steadfastness and heroism. The courage of the besieged Parisians
was also animated by the hope that the military forces in the
provinces would hasten to the aid of the hard-pressed capital,
and that therefore an energetic resistance would afford the rest
of France sufficient time for rallying all its forces, and at the
same time exhibit an elevating example. In the carrying out of
this plan, neither Trochu nor Gambetta was wanting in the
requisite energy and circumspection. The former organized sallies
from time to time, in order to reconnoiter and discover whether
the army of relief was on its way from the provinces; the latter
exerted all his powers to bring the Loire army up to the Seine.
But both erred in undervaluing the German war forces; they did
not believe that the hostile army would be able to keep Paris in
a state of blockade, and at the same time engage the armies on
the south and north, east and west. They had no conception of the
hidden, inexhaustible strength of the Prussian army organization
- of a nation in arms which could send forth constant
reinforcements of battalions and recruits, and fresh bodies of
disciplined troops to fill the gaps left in the ranks by the
wounded and fallen. There could be no doubt as to the termination
of this terrible war, or the final victory of German energy and


Throughout the last months of the eventful year 1870, the
northern part of France, from the Jura to the Channel, from the
Belgian frontier to the Loire, presented the aspect of a wide
battlefield. Of the troops that had been set free by the
capitulation of Metz, a part remained behind in garrison, another
division marched northwards in order to invest the provinces of
Picardy and Normandy, to restore communication with the sea, and
to bar the road to Paris, and a third division joined the second
army whose commander-in-chief, Prince Frederick Charles, set up
his headquarters at Troyes. Different detachments were despatched
against the northern fortresses, and by degrees Soissons, Verdun,
Thionville, Ham, where Napoleon had once been a prisoner,
Pfalzburg and Montmedy, all fell into the hands of the Prussians,
thus opening to them a free road for the supplies of provisions.
The garrison troops were all carried off as prisoners to Germany;
the towns - most of them in a miserable condition - fell into the
enemy's hands; many houses were mere heaps of ruins and ashes,
and the larger part of the inhabitants were suffering severely
from poverty, hunger and disease.

The greatest obstacles were encountered in the northern part of
Alsace and the mountainous districts of the Vosges and the Jura,
where irregular warfare, under Garibaldi and other leaders,
developed to a dangerous extent, while the fortress of Langres
afforded a safe retreat to the guerilla bands. Lyons and the
neighboring town of St. Etienne became hotbeds of excitement,
the red flag being raised and a despotism of terror and violence
established. Although many divergent elements made up this army
of the east, all were united in hatred of the Germans.

Thus, during the cold days of November and December, when General
Von Treskow began the siege of the important fortress of Belfort,
there burst forth a war around Gray and Dijon marked by the
greatest hardships, perils and privations to the invaders. Here
the Germans had to contend with an enemy much superior in number,
and to defend themselves against continuous firing from houses,
cellars, woods and thickets, while the impoverished soil yielded
a miserable subsistence, and the broken railroads cut off freedom
of communication and of reinforcement.

The whole of the Jura district, intersected by hilly roads as far
as the plateau of Langres, where, in the days of Caesar, the
Romans and Gauls were wont to measure their strength with each
other, formed during November and December the scene of action of
numerous encounters which, in conjunction with sallies from the
garrison at Belfort, inflicted severe injury on Werder's troops.
Dijon had repeatedly to be evacuated; and the nocturnal attack at
Chattillon, 20th November, by Garibaldians, when one hundred
seventy horses were lost, affording a striking proof of the
dangers to which the German army was exposed in this hostile
country; although the revolutionary excesses of the turbulent
population of the south diverted to a certain extent the
attention of the National Guard, who were compelled to turn their
weapons against an internal enemy.

By means of the revolutionary dictatorship of Gambetta the whole
French nation was drawn into the struggle, the annihilation of
the enemy being represented as a national duty, and the war
assuming a steadily more violent character. The indefatigable
patriot continued his exertions to increase the army and unite
the whole south and west against the enemy, hoping to bring the
army of the Loire to such dimensions that it would be able to
expel the invaders from the soil of France. But these raw
recruits were poorly fitted to cope with the highly disciplined
Germans, and their early successes were soon followed by defeat
and discouragement, while the hopes entertained by the Paris
garrison of succor from the south vanished as news of the steady
progress of the Germans was received.


During these events the war operations before Paris continued
uninterruptedly. Moltke had succeeded, in spite of the
difficulties of transport, in procuring an immense quantity of
ammunition, and the long-delayed bombardment of Paris was ready
to begin. Having stationed with all secrecy twelve batteries with
seventy-six guns around Mont Avron, on Christmas-day the firing
was directed with such success against the fortified eminences,
that even in the second night the French, after great losses,
evacuated the important position, the "key of Paris," which was
immediately taken possession of by the Saxons. Terror and dismay
spread through the distracted city when the eastern forts, Rosny,
Nogent and Noisy, were stormed amid a tremendous volley of
firing. Vainly did Trochu endeavor to rouse the failing courage
of the National Guard; vainly did he assert that the government
of the national defense would never consent to the humiliation of
a capitulation; his own authority had already waned; the
newspapers already accused him of incapacity and treachery, and
began to cast every aspersion on the men who had presumptuously
seized the government, and yet were not in a position to effect
the defense of the capital and the country. After the new year
the bombardment of the southern forts began, and the terror in
the city daily increased though the violence of the radical
journals kept in check any hint of surrender or negotiation. Yet
in spite of fog and snow storms the bombardment was
systematically continued, and with every day the destructive
effect of the terrible missiles grew more pronounced.

Trochu was blamed for having undertaken only small sallies, which
could have no result. The commander-in-chief ventured no
opposition to the party of action. With the consent of the mayors
of the twenty ARRONDISSEMENTS of Paris a council of war was held.
The threatening famine, the firing of the enemy, and the
excitement prevailing among the adherents of the red republic
rendered a decisive step necessary. Consequently, on the 19th of
January, a great sally was decided on, and the entire armed
forces of the capital were summoned to arms. Early in the morning
a body of 100,000 men marched in the direction of Meudon, Sevres
and St. Cloud for the decisive conflict. The left wing was
commanded by General Vinoy, the right by Ducrot, while Trochu
from the watch-tower directed the entire struggle. With great
courage Vinoy dashed forward with his column of attack towards
the fifth army corps of General Kirchbach, and succeeded in
capturing the Montretout entrenchment, through the superior
number of his troops, and in holding it for a time. But when
Ducrot, delayed by the barricades in the streets, failed to come
to his assistance at the appointed time, the attack was driven
back after seven hours' fierce fighting by the besieging troops.
Having lost 7,000 dead and wounded, the French in the evening
beat a retreat, which almost resembled a flight. On the following
day Trochu demanded a truce, that the fallen National Guards,
whose bodies strewed the battlefield, might be interred. The
victors, too, had to render the last rites to many a brave
soldier. Thirty-nine officers and six hundred and sixteen
soldiers were given in the list of the slain.

Entire confidence had been placed by the Parisians in the great
sally. When the defeat, therefore, became known in its full
significance, when the number of the fallen was found to be far
greater even than had been stated in the first accounts, a dull
despair took possession of the famished city, which next broke
forth into violent abuse against Trochu, "the traitor."
Capitulation now seemed imminent; but as the commander-in-chief
had declared that he would never countenance such a disgrace, he
resigned his post to Vinoy. Threatened by bombardment from
without, terrified within by the pale specter of famine,
paralyzed and distracted by the violent dissensions among the
people, and without prospect of effective aid from the provinces,
what remained to the proud capital but to desist from a conflict
the continuation of which only increased the unspeakable misery,
without the smallest hope of deliverance? Gradually, therefore,
there grew up a resolution to enter into negotiations with the
enemy; and it was the minister, Jules Favre, who had been
foremost with the cry of "no surrender" four months before, who
was now compelled to take the first step to deliver his country
from complete ruin. It was probably the bitterest hour in the
life of the brave man, who loved France and liberty with such a
sincere affection, when he was conducted through the German
outposts to his interview with Bismarck at Versailles. He brought
the proposal for a convention, on the strength of which the
garrison was to be permitted to retire with military honors to a
part of France not hitherto invested, on promising to abstain for
several months from taking part in the struggle. But such
conditions were positively refused at the Prussian headquarters,
and a surrender was demanded as at Sedan and Metz. Completely
defeated, the minister returned to Paris. At a second meeting on
the following day, it was agreed that from the 27th, at twelve
o'clock at night, the firing on both sides should be
discontinued. This was the preliminary to the conclusion of a
three weeks' truce, to await the summons of a National Assembly,
with which peace might be negotiated.


The war was at an end so far as Paris was concerned. But it
continued in the south, where frequent defeat failed to depress
Gambetta's indomitable energy, and where new troops constantly
replaced those put to rout. Garibaldi, at Dijon, succeeded in
doing what the French had not done during the war, in capturing a
Prussian banner. But the progress of the Germans soon rendered
his position untenable, and, finding his exertions unavailing, he
resigned his command and retired to his island of Caprera. Two
disasters completed the overthrow of France. Bourbaki's army,
85,000 strong, became shut in, with scanty food and ammunition,
among the snow-covered valleys of the Jura, and to save the
disgrace of capitulation it took refuge on the neutral soil of
Switzerland; and the strong fortress of Belfort, which had been
defended with the utmost courage against its besiegers, finally
yielded, with the stipulation that the brave garrison should
march out with the honors of war. Nothing now stood in the way of
an extension of the truce. On the suggestion of Jules Favre, the
National Assembly elected a commission of fifteen members, which
was to aid the chief of the executive and his ministers, Picard
and Favre, in the negotiations for peace. That cessions of
territory and indemnity of war expenses would have to be conceded
had long been acknowledged in principle; but protracted and
excited discussions took place as to the extent of the former and
the amount of the latter, while the demanded entry of the German
troops into Paris met with vehement opposition. But Count
Bismarck resolutely insisted on the cession of Alsace and German
Lorraine, including Metz and Diedenhofen. Only with difficulty
were the Germans persuaded to separate Belfort from the rest of
Loraine, and leave it still in the possession of the French. In
respect to the expenses of the war, the sum of five milliards of
francs ($1,000,000,000) was agreed upon, of which the first
milliard was to be paid in the year 1871, and the rest in a
stated period. The stipulated entry into Paris also - so bitter
to the French national pride - was only partially carried out;
the western side only of the city was to be traversed in the
march of the Prussian troops, and again evacuated in two days. On
the basis of these conditions, the preliminaries of the Peace of
Versailles were concluded on the 26th of February between the
Imperial Chancellor and Jules Favre. Intense excitement prevailed
when the terms of the treaty became known; they were dark days in
the annals of French history. But in spite of the opposition of
the extreme Republican party, led by Quinet and Victor Hugo, the
Assembly recognized by an overpowering majority the necessity for
the Peace, and the preliminaries were accepted by 546 to 107
votes. Thus ended the mighty war between France and Germany - a
war which has had few equals in the history of the world.


Had King William received no indemnity in cash or territory from
France, he must still have felt himself amply repaid for the cost
of the brief but sanguinary war, for it brought him a power and
prestige with which the astute diplomatist Bismarck had long been
seeking to invest his name. Political changes move slowly in
times of peace, rapidly in times of war. The whole of Germany,
with the exception of Austria, had sent troops to the conquest of
France, and every state, north and south alike, shared in the
pride and glory of the result. South and North Germany had
marched side by side to the battle-field, every difference of
race or creed forgotten, and the honor of the German fatherland
the sole watchword. The time seemed to have arrived to close the
breach between north and south, and obliterate the line of the
Main, which had divided the two sections. North Germany was
united under the leadership of Prussia, and the honor in which
all alike shared now brought South Germany into line for a
similar union.

The first appeal in this direction came from Baden. Later in the
year plenipotentiaries sought Versailles from the kingdoms of
Bavaria and Wurtemberg and the grand duchies of Baden and Hesse,
their purpose being to arrange for and define the conditions of
union between the South and the North German states. For weeks,
this momentous question filled all Germany with excitement and
public opinion was in a state of high tension. The scheme of
union was by no means universally approved, there being a large
party in opposition, but the majority in its favor in Chambers
proved sufficient to enable Bismarck to carry out his plan.


Building the Bulwarks of the Twentieth Century Nation

Bismarck as a Statesman - Uniting the German States - William I
Crowned at Versailles - A Significant Decade - The Problem of
Church Power - Progress of Socialism - William II and the
Resignation of Bismarck - Old Age Insurance - Political and
Industrial Conditions in Germany

Throughout the various events narrated in the two preceding
chapters the hand of Bismarck was everywhere visible. He had
proved himself a statesman of the highest powers, and these
powers were devoted without stint to the aggrandizement of
Prussia. As for the surrounding nations and their rights and
immunities, these did not count as against his policies.
Conscience did not trouble him. The slaughter of thousands of men
on the battle-field did not disturb his equanimity. He was
unalterably fixed in his purposes, unscrupulous in the means
employed, shrewd, keen and far-sighted in his measures, Europe
being to him but a great chess-board, on which his hand moved
kings, knights, and pawns with mechanical inflexibility. To him
the end justified the means, however lacking in justice or mercy
these means might prove.

Denmark was despoiled to extend the territory of Prussia to the
north. Austria, Bismarck's unwary accomplice in this act of
spoliation, was robbed of its share of the spoils, and drawn into
a war in which it met with disastrous defeat, the prestige of
Prussia being vastly increased on the field of Sadowa.
Subsequently came the great struggle with France, fomented by his
wiles and ending in triumph for his policies So far all had gone
well for him, the final outcome of his schemes resulting in the
unification of the minor German states into one powerful empire.


It was in the formation of the modern German Empire that the
far-sighted plans of Bismarck culminated. King William was a
willing partner for this purpose, moving as he suggested and
doing as he wished. The states of Germany, aside from Austria,
had actively participated in the recent war, the steps towards
unification which had been taken during the few preceding years
having now reached the point in which a complete amalgamation
might be effected.

The Holy Roman Empire, which had lasted throughout the medieval
period in some phase of strength and power, at times predominant,
at times little more than a title, had received its death-blow
from the hands of Napoleon and vanished from the historic stage.
It was Bismarck's design to restore the German Empire - not the
old, moth-eaten fiction of the past, but an entirely new one -
and give Prussia the position it had earned, that of the great
center of German racial unity. In this project Austria, long at
the head of the old empire, was to have no part, the imperial
dignity being conferred upon the venerable King William of
Prussia, a monarch whose birth dated back to the eighteenth
century, and who had lived throughout the Napoleonic wars.


Near the close of 1870 Bismarck concluded treaties with the
ambassadors of the South German States, in which they agreed to
accept the constitution of the North German Union. These treaties
were ratified, after some opposition from members of the lower
house, by the legislatures of the four states involved. The next
step in the proceeding was a suggestion from the king of Bavaria
to the other princes that the imperial crown of Germany should be
offered to King William of Prussia.

When the North German diet at Berlin had given its consent to the
new constitution, a congratulatory address was despatched to the
Prussian monarch at Versailles. It announced to the aged
hero-king the nation's wish that he should accept the new
dignity. He replied to the deputation in solemn audience that he
accepted the imperial dignity which the German nation and its
princes had offered him. On the 1st of January, 1871, the new
constitution was to come into operation.


The solemn assumption of the imperial office did not take place,
however, until the 18th of January, the day on which, one hundred
and seventy years before, the new emperor's ancestor, Frederick
I, had placed the Prussian crown on his head at Konigsberg, and
thus laid the basis of the growing greatness of his house. It was
an ever-memorable coincidence that, in the superb-mirrored hall
of the Versailles palace, where since the days of Richelieu so
many plans had been concocted for the humiliation of Germany,
King William should now proclaim himself German emperor. After
the reading of the imperial proclamation to the German people by
Count Bismarck, the Grand Duke led a cheer, in which the whole
assembly joined amid the singing of national hymns. Thus the
important event had taken place which again summoned the German
Empire to life, and made over the imperial crown with renewed
splendor to another royal house. Barbarossa's old legend, that
the dominion of the empire was, after long tribulation, to pass
from the Hohenstaufen to the Hohenzollern, was now fulfilled; the
dream long aspired after by German youth had now become a reality
and a living fact.

The tidings of the conclusion of peace with France, whose
preliminaries were completed at Frankfort on the 10th of May,
1871, filled all Germany with joy, and peace festivals on the
most splendid scale extended from end to end of the new empire,
in all parts of which an earnest spirit of patriotism was shown,
while Germans from all regions of the world sent home expressions
of warm sympathy with the new national organization of their


The decade just completed had been one of remarkable political
changes in Europe, unsurpassed in significance during any other
period of equal length. The temporal dominion of the pope had
vanished and all Italy had been united under the rule of a single
king. The empire of France had been overthrown and a republic
established in its place, while that country had sunk greatly in
prominence among the European states. Austria had been utterly
defeated in war, had lost its last hold on Italy and its position
of influence among the German states. And all the remaining
German lands had united into a great and powerful empire,
promising to gain such extraordinary military strength that the
surrounding nations looked on in doubt, full of vague fears of
trouble from this new and potent power introduced into their

Bismarck, however, showed an earnest desire to maintain
international peace and good relations, seeking to win the
confidence of foreign governments, while at the same time
improving and increasing that military force which had been
proved to be so mighty an engine of war.

In the constitution of the new empire two legislative bodies,
already possessed by the Confederation of North German States
were provided for - the BUNDESRATH or Federal Council, whose
members are annually appointed by the respective state
governments and the REICHSTAG or representative body. whose
members are elected by universal suffrage for a period of three
years, an annual session being required. Germany, therefore, in
its present organization, is practically a federal union of
states, each with its own powers of internal government, and with
a common legislature approximating to our Senate and House of
Representatives. But this did not make the German emperor a
parliamentary monarch. From the fact that the consent of both
assemblies was necessary to change the law, he governed as he
pleased and had no other ministerial representative than the high
chancellor of the empire, depending solely on the sovereign.
After 1870 he was in the empire what he had been previously in
Prussia, the essential representative of the country and the
supreme head of the military forces.

The remaining incidents of Bismarck's remarkable career may be
briefly given. It consisted largely in a struggle with the
Catholic Church organization, which had attained to great power
in Germany, and was aggressive to an extent that roused the
vigorous opposition of the chancellor of the empire, who was not
willing to acknowledge any power in Germany other than that of
the emperor.

King Frederick William IV, the predecessor of the reigning
monarch, had made active efforts to strengthen the Catholic
Church in Prussia, its clergy gaining greater privileges in that
Protestant state than they possessed in any of the Catholic
states. They had established everywhere in North Germany their
congregations and monasteries, and by their control of public
education seemed in a fair way eventually to make Catholicism
supreme in the empire.


This state of affairs Bismark set himself energetically to
reform. The minister of religious affairs was forced to resign,
and his place was taken by Falk, an energetic statesman, who
introduced a new school law, bringing the whole educational
system under state control, and carefully regulating the power of
the clergy over religious and moral education. This law met with
such violent opposition that all the personal influence of
Bismarck and Falk was needed to carry it, and it gave such deep
offense to the pope that he refused to receive the German
ambassador. He declared the Falk law invalid, and the German
bishops united in a declaration against the chancellor. Bismarck
retorted by a law expelling the Jesuits from the empire.

In 1873 the state of affairs became so embittered that the rights
and liberties of the citizens seemed to need protection against
a priesthood armed with extensive powers of discipline and
excommunication. In consequence Bismarck introduced, and by his
eloquence and influence carried, what were known as the May Laws.
These required the scientific education of the Catholic clergy,
the confirmation of clerical appointments by the state, and the
formation of a tribunal to consider and revise the conduct of the

These enactments precipitated a bitter contest between Church and
State, while the pope declared the May Laws null and void and
threatened with excommunication all priests who should submit to
them. The State retorted by withdrawing its financial support
from the Catholic church and abolishing those clauses of the
constitution under which the Church claimed independence of the
State. Pope Pius IX died in 1878, and on the election of Leo XIII
attempts were made to reconcile the existing differences. The
reconciliation was a victory for the Church, since the May Laws
ceased to be operative, the church revenues were restored and the
control of the clergy over education in considerable measure was
regained. New concessions were granted in 1886 and 1887, and
Bismarck felt himself beaten in his long conflict with his
clerical opponents, who had proved too strong and deeply
entrenched for him.


Economic questions became also prominent, the revenues of the
empire requiring some change in the system of free trade and the
adoption of protective duties, while the railroads were acquired
as public property by the various states of the empire. Meanwhile
the rapid growth of socialism excited apprehension, which was
added to when two attempts were made on the life of the emperor.
These were attributed to the socialists, and severe laws for the
suppression of socialism were enacted. Bismark also sought to cut
the ground from under the feet of the socialists by an endeavor
to improve the condition of the working classes. In 1881 laws
were passed compelling employers to insure their workmen in case
of sickness or accident, and in 1888 a system of compulsory
insurance against death and old age was introduced. None of these
measures, however, checked the growth of socialism, which very
actively continued.

In 1882 a meeting was arranged by the chancellor between the
emperors of Germany, Russia, and Austria, which was looked upon
in Europe as a political alliance. In 1878 Russia drifted
somewhat apart from Germany, but in the following year an
alliance of defense and offense was concluded with Austria, and a
similar alliance at a later date with Italy. This, which
continued to 1914, was known as the Triple Alliance. In 1877
Bismarck announced his intention to retire, being worn out with
the great labors of his position. To this the emperor, who felt
that his state rested on the shoulders of the "Iron Chancellor,"
would not listen, though he gave him indefinite leave of absence.

On March 9, 1888, Emperor William died. He was ninety years of
age, having been born in 1797. He was succeeded by his son
Frederick, then incurably ill from a cancerous affection of the
throat, which carried him to the grave after a reign of
ninety-nine days. His oldest son, William, succeeded on June 15,
1888, as William II.


The liberal era which was looked for under Frederick was checked
by his untimely death, his son at once returning to the policy of
William I and Bismarck. He proved to be far more positive and
dictatorial in disposition than his grandfather, with decided and
vigorous views of his own, which soon brought him into conflict
with the equally positive chancellor. The result was a rupture
with Bismarck, and his resignation (a virtual dismissal) from the
premiership in 1890. The young emperor proposed to be his own
minister and subsequently devoted himself in a large measure to
the increase of the army and navy, a policy which brought him
into frequent conflicts with the Reichstag, whose rapidly growing
socialistic membership was in strong opposition to this
development of militarism.

The old statesman, to whom Germany owed so much, was deeply
aggrieved by this lack of gratitude on the part of the
self-opinionated young emperor, in view of his great services to
the state. The wound rankled deeply, though a seeming
reconciliation took place. But the political career of the great
Bismarck was at an end, and he died on July 30, 1898. It is an
interesting coincidence that almost at the same time died the
distinguished but markedly different statesman of England,
William Edward Gladstone. Count Cavour, another great European
statesman of the latter half of the nineteenth century, had
completed his work and passed away nearly forty years before.

The career of William II soon became one of much interest and
some alarm to the other nations of Europe. His eagerness for the
development of the army and navy, and the energy with which he
pushed forward its organization and sought to add to its
strength, seemed significant of warlike intentions, and there was
dread that this energetic young monarch might break the peace of
Europe, if only to prove the irresistible strength of the
military machine he had formed. But as years went on the
apprehensions to which his early career and expressions gave rise
were quieted, and the fear that he would plunge Europe into war
lessened. The army and navy appeared to some as rather a costly
plaything of the active young man than an engine of destruction,
while it tended in considerable measure to the preservation of
peace by rendering Germany a power dangerous to go to war with.

The speeches with which the emperor began his reign showed an
exaggerated sense of the imperial dignity, though his later
career indicated far more judgment and good sense than the early
display of overweening self-importance promised, and the views of
William II eventually came to command far more respect than they
did at first. He showed himself a man of exuberant energy.
Despite a permanent weakness of his left arm and a serious
affection of the ear, he early became a skilful horseman and an
untiring hunter, as well as an enthusiastic yachtsman, and there
were few men in the empire more active and enterprising than the


A principal cause of the break between William and Bismarck was
the imperial interference with the laws for the suppression of
socialism. As already stated, the old chancellor had established
a system of compulsory old age insurance, through which workmen
and their employers - aided by the state - were obliged to
provide for the support of artisans after a certain age. The
system seems to have worked satisfactorily, but socialism of a
more radical kind grew in the empire far more rapidly than the
emperor approved of, and he vigorously, though unsuccessfully
endeavored to prevent its increase. Another of his favorite
measures, a religious education bill, he was obliged to withdraw
on account of the opposition it excited. On more than one
occasion he came into sharp conflict with the Reichstag
concerning increased taxation for the army and navy, and a strong
party against his autocratic methods sprang up, and forced him
more than once to recede from warmly-cherished measures.


It may be of interest here to say something concerning the
organization of the German empire. The constitution of this
empire, as adopted April 16, 1871, proposes to "form an eternal
union for the protection of the realm and the care of the welfare
of the German people," and places the supreme direction of
military and political affairs in the King of Prussia, under the
title of Deutscher Kaiser (German emperor). The war-making powers
of the emperor, however, are restricted, since he is required to
obtain the consent of the Bundesrath (the Federal Council) before
he can declare war otherwise than for the defense of the realm.
His authority as emperor, in fact, is much less than that which
he exercises as King of Prussia, since the imperial legislature
is independent of him, he having no power of veto over the laws
passed by it. His actual military power, however, is practically
supreme, as demonstrated in the opening events of the war of

The legislature, as stated, consists of two bodies, the
Bundesrath, representing the states of the union, whose members,
58 in number, are chosen for each session by the several state
governments; and the Reichstag, representing the people, whose
members, 397 in number, are elected by universal suffrage for
periods of five years. The German union, as constituted in 1914,
comprised four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies, seven
principalities, three sovereign cities, and the Reichsland of
Alsace-Lorraine; twenty-six separate states in all. It included
all the German peoples of Europe with the exception of those in

The progress of Germany within the modern period has been very
great. The population of the states of the empire, 24,831,000 at
the end of the Napoleonic wars, had become, a century later, over
64,000,000, having added 40,000,000 to the roll of inhabitants.
The country, once divided into an unwieldy multitude of states,
often of minute proportions, has become consolidated into the
number above named, each of these possessing some degree of
importance. These, as combined into a federal union, or empire,
have an area of 208,830 square miles, of which Prussia holds the
lion's share, its area being 134,605 square miles.

The presidency of the empire belongs to the king of Prussia and
is hereditary in his family. Besides the Imperial Parliament,
each state has its own special legislature and laws, but
railroads regarded as necessary for the defense of Germany or the
facilitating of general communications may come under a law of
the empire, even against the opposition of the members of the
confederation whose territory is traversed. The states have their
respective armies, but it is the emperor who disposes of them; he
appoints the heads of the contingents, approves the generals, and
has the right to establish fortresses over the whole territory of
the empire.

The wealth of the German empire has grown in a far greater area
than its population, it having developed into the most active
manufacturing country in Europe. Agriculture has similarly
advanced, and one of its chief products, that of the sugar beet,
has enormously increased, beet-root sugar being among its chief
industrial yields. In addition, Germany has grown to be one of
the most active commercial nations of the earth. Thus it has
taken a place among the most active productive and commercial
countries, its wealth and importance being correspondingly
augmented. These particulars are of interest as showing the
standing of Germany at the outbreak of the war of 1914 and
indicating its degree of ability to bear the fearful strain of so
great a war.


Great Britain Becomes a World Power

Gladstone and Disraeli - Gladstone's Famous Budget - A Suffrage
Reform Bill - Disraeli's Reform Measure - Irish Church
Disestablishment - An Irish Land Bill - Desperate State of
Ireland - The Coercion Bill - War in Africa - Home Rule for

It is a fact of much interest, as showing the growth of the human
mind, that William Ewart Gladstone, the great advocate of English
Liberalism, made his first political speech in vigorous
opposition to the Reform Bill of 1831. He was then a student at
Oxford University, but this boyish address had such an effect
upon his hearers, that Bishop Wordsworth felt sure the speaker
would "one day rise to be Prime Minister of England." This
prophetic utterance may be mated with another one, by Archdeacon
Denison, who said: "I have just heard the best speech I ever
heard in my life, by Gladstone, against the Reform Bill. But,
mark my words, that man will one day be a Liberal, for he argued
against the Bill on liberal grounds."

Both these far-seeing men hit the mark. Gladstone became Prime
Minister and the leader of the Liberal Party in England. Yet he
had been reared as a Conservative, and for many years he marched
under the banner of conservatism. His political career began in
the first Reform Parliament, in January, 1833. Two years
afterward he was made an under-secretary in Sir Robert Peel's
Cabinet. It was under the same premier that he first became a
full member of the cabinet, in 1845, as Secretary of State for
the Colonies. He was still a Tory in home politics, but had
become a Liberal in his commercial ideas, and was Peel's
right-hand man in carrying out his great commercial policy.

The repeal of the Corn-Laws was the work for which his cabinet
had been formed, and Gladstone, as the leading free-trader in the
Tory ranks, was called to it. As for Cobden, the apostle of
free-trade, Gladstone admired him immensely. "I do not know," he
said in later years, "that there is in any period a man whose
public career and life were nobler or more admirable. Of course,
I except Washington. Washington, to my mind, is the purest figure
in history." As an advocate of free trade Gladstone first came
into connection with another noble figure, that of John Bright,
who was to remain associated with him during most of his career.
In 1857 he first took rank as one of the great moral forces of
modern times. In that year he visited Naples, where he saw the
barbarous treatment of political prisoners under the government
of the infamous King Bomba, and described them in letters whose
indignation was breathed in such tremendous tones that England
was stirred to its depths and all Europe awakened. These
thrilling epistles gave the cause of Italian freedom an impetus
that had much to do with its subsequent success, and gained for
Gladstone the warmest veneration of patriotic Italians.


In 1852 he first came into opposition with the man against whom
he was to be pitted during the remainder of his career, Benjamin
Disraeli, who had made himself a power in Parliament, and in that
year became Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Derby's Cabinet
and leader of the House of Commons. The revenue budget introduced
by him showed a sad lack of financial ability, and called forth
sharp criticisms, to which he replied in a speech made up of
scoffs, gibes and biting sarcasms, so daring and audacious in
character as almost to intimidate the House. As he sat down, Mr.
Gladstone rose and launched forth into an oration which became
historic. He gave voice to that indignation which lay suppressed
beneath the cowed feeling which for the moment the Chancellor of
the Exchequer's performance had left among his hearers. In a few
minutes the House was wildly cheering the intrepid champion who
had rushed into the breach, and when Mr. Gladstone concluded,
having torn to shreds the proposals of the budget, a majority
followed him into the division lobby, and Mr. Disraeli found his
government beaten by nineteen votes. Such was the first great
encounter between the two rivals.


In the cabinet that followed, headed by Lord Aberdeen, Gladstone
succeeded Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer, a position in
which he was to make a great mark. In April, 1853, he introduced
his first budget, a marvel of ingenious statesmanship, in its
highly successful effort to equalize taxation. It remitted
various taxes which had pressed hard upon the poor and restricted
business, and replaced them by applying the succession duty to
real estate, increasing the duty on spirits, and extending the
income tax.

Taken altogether, and especially in its expedients to equalize
taxation, this first budget of Mr. Gladstone may be justly called
the greatest of the century. The speech in which it was
introduced and expounded created an extraordinary impression on
the House and the country. For the first time in Parliament
figures were made as interesting as a fairy tale; the dry bones
of statistics were invested with a new and potent life, and it
was shown how the yearly balancing of the national accounts might
be directed by and made to promote the profoundest and most
fruitful principles of statesmanship. With such lucidity and
picturesqueness was this financial oratory rolled forth that the
dullest intellect could follow with pleasure the complicated
scheme; and for five hours the House of commons sat as if it were
under the sway of a magician's wand. When Mr. Gladstone resumed
his seat, it was felt that the career of the coalition ministry
was assured by the genius that was discovered in its Chancellor
of the Exchequer.

It was, indeed, to Gladstone's remarkable oratorical powers that
much of his success as a statesman was due. No man of his period
was his equal in swaying and convincing his hearers. His rich and
musical voice, his varied and animated gestures, his impressive
and vigorous delivery, great fluency, and wonderful precision of
statement, gave him a power over an audience which few men of the
century have enjoyed. His sentences, indeed, were long and
involved, growing more so as his years advanced, but their fine
choice of words, rich rhetoric, and eloquent delivery carried
away all that heard him, as did his deep earnestness and intense
conviction of the truth of his utterances.

Meanwhile his Liberalism had been steadily growing reaching its
culmination in 1865, when the Tory University of Oxford, which he
had long represented, rejected him as its member, unable longer
to swallow his ultra views. The rejection was greeted by him as a
compliment. He at once offered himself as a candidate for South
Lancashire and in the opening of his speech at Manchester said:
"At last, my friends, I am come among you; to use an expression
which has become very famous and is not likely to be forgotten,
'I am come among you unmuzzled.'"

Unmuzzled he indeed was, free at last to give the fullest
expression to his Liberal faith. In 1866 he became, for the first
time in his career, leader of the House of Commons - Lord
Russell, the Prime Minister, being in the House of Lords. Many of
his friends feared for him in this difficult position; but the
event proved that they had no occasion for alarm, he showing
himself one of the most successful leaders the House had ever


His first important duty in this position was to introduce the
new Suffrage Reform Bill, a measure to extend the franchise in
counties and boroughs that would have added about 400,000 voters
to the electorate. In the debate that followed, Gladstone and
Disraeli were again pitted against each other in a grand
oratorical contest. Disraeli taunted him with his youthful speech
at Oxford against the Reform Bill of 1831. Gladstone retorted by
scoring his opponent for clinging to a conservatism which he
gloried in having been strong enough to reject. He ended with
this stirring prediction:

"You cannot fight against the future. Time is on our side. The
great social forces which move onwards in their might and
majesty, and which the tumult of our debates does not for a
moment impede or disturb, those great social forces are against
you; they are marshaled on our side; and the banner which we now
carry into this fight, though perhaps at some moment it may droop
over our sinking heads, yet it soon again will float in the eye
of Heaven, and it will be borne by the firm hands of the united
people of the three kingdoms, perhaps not to an easy, but to a
certain, and to a not far distant, victory."

He was right in saying that it would not be a distant victory.
Disraeli and his party defeated the bill, but the people rose in
a vigorous demand for it, ten thousand of them marching past
Gladstone's house, singing odes in honor of "the People's
William." John Bright, an eloquent orator and strenuous advocate
of oral reform and political progress, joined Gladstone in his
campaign. Through the force of their eloquence the tide of public
opinion rose to such a height that the new Derby-Disraeli
ministry was obliged to bring in a bill similar in purpose to
that which it had overthrown.


This Tory bill proved satisfactory to Gladstone in its general
features. He had won a great victory in forcing its introduction.
But he proposed so many changes in its details - all of them
yielded in committee - that a satirical lord remarked that
nothing of the original bill remained but its opening word
"Whereas." As thus modified, it was more liberal than the measure
that had been defeated, and the people gave full credit for it to
Gladstone, whom they credited with giving them their right to

The two potent political champions, Gladstone and Disraeli, soon
after attained the summit height of British political ambition.
In February, 1868, the failing health of Lord Derby forced him to
resign the ministry, and Disraeli succeeded him as Prime
Minister, thus the "Asian Mystery," as he had been entitled,
gained the highest office in the British government. He did not
hold this office long. His party was defeated on the question of
the disestablishment of the Irish church, and on December 4th of
the same year Gladstone took his place. Thus, after thirty-five
years of public life, Gladstone had attained the post in which he
was to spend most of his later life.

Bishop Wilberforce, who met him in this hour of triumph, wrote
thus of him in his journal: "Gladstone as ever great, earnest and
honest; as unlike the tricky Disraeli as possible. He is so
delightfully true and the same; just as full of interest in every
good thing of every kind."

The period which followed the election of 1868 - the period of
the Gladstone Administration of 1868-74 - has been called "the
Golden age of Liberalism." It was certainly a period of great
reforms. The first, the most heroic, and probably - taking all
the results into account - the most completely successful of
these, was the disestablishment of the Irish Church.


Any interference with the prerogatives or absoluteness of an
established church institution is sure to arouse vigorous
opposition. The disestablishment Bill, introduced on the 1st of
March, 1869, was greeted in Ireland with the wildest protests
from those interested in the Establishment. One synod, with a
large assumption of inspired knowledge, denounced it as "highly
offensive to the Almighty God." A martial clergyman offered to
"kick the queen's crown into the Boyne," if she assented to any
such measure. Another proposed to fight with the Bible in one
hand the and sword in the other.

These wild outbreaks of theological partisanship had no effect on
Gladstone, whose speech was one of the greatest marvels amongst
his oratorical achievements. His chief opponent declared that
though it lasted three hours, it did not contain a redundant
word. The scheme which it unfolded -- a scheme which withdrew the
temporal establishment of a Church in such a manner that the
church was benefited, not injured, and which lifted from the
backs of an oppressed people an intolerable burden - was a
triumph of creative genius.

Disraeli's speech in opposition to this measure was referred bo
by the LONDON TIMES as flimsiness relieved by spangles." After a
debate in which Mr. Bright made one of his most famous speeches,
the bill was carried by a majority of 118. Before this strong
manifestation of the popular will the House of Lords, which
deeply disliked the bill, felt obliged to give way, and passed it
by a majority of seven.


In 1870 Mr. Gladstone introduced his Irish Land Bill, a measure
of reform which Parliament had for years refused to grant. By it
the tenant was given the right to hold his farm as long as he
paid his rent, and received a claim upon the improvement made by
himself and his predecessors - a tenant-right which he could
sell. This bill was triumphantly carried; and another important
Liberal measure, Mr. Forster's Education bill, became law.

Other liberal measures were passed, but the tide which had set so
long in this direction turned at last, the government was
defeated in 1873 on a bill for University Education, and in a
subsequent election the Liberal party met with defeat. Gladstone
at once resigned and was succeeded by Disraeli. Two years later
the latter was raised to the peerage by the Queen under the title
of the Earl of Beaconsfield. Gladstone was not in the field for
honors of this type. He much preferred to inherit the title of a
distinguished predecessor, that of "The Great Commoner." During
his recess from office he occupied himself in literary labors and
as a critical commentator upon the foreign policy of Disraeli,
which plunged the country into a Zulu war which Gladstone
denounced as "one of the most monstrous and indefensible in our
history," and an Afghan war which he described as a national

These and other acts of Tory policy in time brought liberalism
again into the forefront, an election held in 1880 resulted in a
great Liberal victory, Disraeli (then Lord Beaconsfield) resigned
and Gladstone was once again called to the head of the ministry.
In the new administration the foreign policy, the meddling in the
concerns of the East, which had held precedence over domestic
affairs under the preceding administration, vanished from sight,
and the Irish question again became prominent. Ireland had now
gained an able leader, Charles Stewart Parnell, founder of the
Irish Land League, a trade union of Irish farmers, and its
affairs could no longer be consigned to the background.

Gladstone, in assuming control of the new government, was quite
unaware of the task before him. When he had completed his work
with the Church and the Land bills ten years before, he fondly
fancied that the Irish question was definitely settled. The Home
Rule movement, which was started in 1870, seemed to him a wild
delusion which would die away of itself. In 1884 he said: "I
frankly admit that I had had much upon my hands connected with
the doings of the Beaconsfield Government in every quarter of the
world, and I did not know - no one knew - the severity of the
crisis that was already swelling upon the horizon, and that
shortly after rushed upon us like a flood."


He was not long is discovering the gravity of the situation, of
which the House had been warned by Mr. Parnell. The famine had
brought its crop of misery, and, while the charitable were
seeking to relieve the distress, many of the landlords were
turning adrift their tenants for non-payment of rents. The Irish
party brought in a Bill for the Suspension of Evictions, which
the government replaced by a similar one for Compensation for
Disturbance. This was passed with a large majority by the
Commons, but was rejected by the Lords, and Ireland was left to
face its misery without relief.

The state of Ireland at that moment was too critical to be dealt
with in this manner. The rejection of the Compensation for
Disturbance Bill was, to the peasantry whom it had been intended
to protect, a message of despair, and it was followed by the
usual symptom of despair in Ireland, an outbreak of agrarian
crime. On the one hand over 17,000 persons were evicted; on the
other there was a dreadful crop of murders and outrages. The Land
League sought to do what Parliament did not; but in doing so it
came in contact with the law. Moreover, the revolution - for
revolution it seemed to be - grew too formidable for its control;
the utmost it succeeded in doing was in some sense to ride
without directing the storm. The first decisive step of Mr.
Forster, the chief secretary for Ireland, was to strike a blow at
the Land League. In November he ordered the prosecution of Mr.
Parnell, Mr. Biggar, and several of the officials of the
organization, and before the year was out he announced his
intention of introducing a Coercion Bill. This step threw the
Irish members under Mr. Parnell and the Liberal Government into
relations of definitive antagonism.


Mr. Forster introduced his Coercion Bill on January 24, 1881. It
was a formidable measure, which enabled the chief secretary, by
signing a warrant, to arrest any man on suspicion of having
committed a given offense, and to imprison him without trial at
the pleasure of the government. It practically suspended the
liberties of Ireland. The Irish members exhausted every resource
of parliamentary action in resisting it, and their tactics
resulted in several scenes unprecedented in parliamentary
history. In order to pass the bill it was necessary to suspend
them in a body several times. Mr. Gladstone, with manifest pain,
found himself, as leader of the House, the agent by whom this
extreme resolve had to be executed.

The Coercion Bill passed, Mr. Gladstone introduced his Land Bill
of 1881, which was the measure of conciliation intended to
balance the measure of repression. This was really a great and
sweeping reform, whose dominant feature was the introduction of
the novel and far-reaching principle of the state stepping in
between landlord and tenant and fixing the rents. The bill had
some defects, as a series of amending acts, which were
subsequently passed by both Liberal and Tory governments, proved;
but, apart from these, it was on the whole the greatest measure
of land reform ever passed for Ireland by the Imperial

But Ireland was not yet satisfied. Parnell had no confidence in
the good intentions of the government, and took steps to test its
honesty, which so angered Mr. Forster that he arrested Mr.
Parnell and several other leaders and pronounced the Land League
an illegal body. Forster was well-meaning but mistaken. He
fancied that by locking up the ring-leaders he could bring quiet
to the country. On the contrary, affairs were soon far worse than
ever, crime and outrage spreading widely. In despair, Mr. Forster
released Parnell and resigned. All now seemed hopeful; coercion
had proved a failure; peace and quiet were looked for; when, four
days afterward, the whole country was horrified by a terrible
crime. The new Secretary for Ireland, Lord Cavendish, and the
under-secretary, Mr. Burke, were attacked and hacked to death
with knives in Phoenix Park. Everywhere panic and indignation
arose. A new Coercion Act was passed without delay. It was
vigorously put into effect, and a state of virtual war between
England and Ireland again came into existence.


Meanwhile Great Britain had been brought back into the tide of
foreign affairs. Events were taking place abroad which must here
be dealt with briefly. The ambitious Briton, who loves to
carry the world on his shoulders, had made the control of the
Suez Canal an excuse for meddling with the government of Egypt.
The immediate results were a revolution that drove Ismail Pasha
from this throne, and a revolt of the people under an ambitious
leader named Arabi Pasha, who seized Alexandria and drove out the
British, many of whom were killed.

Gladstone, who deprecated war, now found himself with a conflict
thrust upon his hands. The British fleet bombarded Alexandria,
and the British army occupied it after it had been half reduced
to ashes. Soon after General Wolseley defeated Arabi and his army
and the insurrection ended. A sequel to this affair was a
formidable outbreak in the Soudan, under El Mahdi, a Mohammedan
fanatic, who captured the city of Khartoum and killed the famous
General Gordon. Years passed before Upper Egypt was reconquered,
it being recovered only at the close of the century. Since then
Egypt has remained under British control.

There were serious troubles also in South Africa. The British of
Cape Colony had pushed their way into the Boer settlement of the
Transvaal, claiming jurisdiction over it. The valiant Dutch
settlers broke into war, and dealt the invaders a signal defeat
at Majuba Hill. This was the opening step in a series of
occurrences which led to the later Boer war, in which the
British, with great loss, conquered the Boers, followed in later
years by a practical reconquest of the country by its Boer
inhabitants in peaceful ways.

Such were the wars of the Gladstone administration, events of
which he did not approve, but into which he was irresistibly
drawn. At home the Irish question continued in the forefront. The
African wars having weakened the administration, a vigorous
assault was made on it by the Irish party in 1885, and it fell.
But its demise was a very brief one. After a short experience of
a Tory ministry under Lord Salisbury, Parnell's party rallied to
Gladstone's side, the new government was defeated, and on
February 1, 1886, Gladstone became Prime Minister for the third


During the brief interval his opinions had suffered a great
revolution. He no longer thought that Ireland had all it could
justly demand. He returned to power as an advocate of a most
radical measure, that of Home Rule for Ireland, a restoration of
that separate Parliament which it had lost in 1800. He also had a
scheme to buy out the Irish landlords and establish a peasant
proprietary by state aid. His new views were revolutionary in
character, but he did not hesitate - he never hesitated to do
what his conscience told him was right. On April 8, 1886, he
introduced to Parliament his Home Rule Bill.

The scene that afternoon was one of the most remarkable in
Parliamentary history. Never before was such interest manifested
in a debate by either the public or the members of the House. In
order to secure their places, members arrived at St. Stephen's at
six o'clock in the morning, and spent the day on the premises;
and, a thing quite unprecedented, members who could not find
places on the benches filled up the floor of the House with rows
of chairs. The strangers', diplomats', peers', and ladies'
galleries were filled to overflowing. Men begged even to be
admitted to the ventilating passages beneath the floor of the
chamber that they might in some sense be witnesses of the
greatest feat in the lifetime of an illustrious old man of
eighty. Around Palace Yard an enormous crowd surged, waiting to
give the veteran a welcome as he drove up from Downing Street.

Mr. Gladstone arrived in the House, pale and still panting from
the excitement of his reception in the streets. As he sat there
the entire Liberal party - with the exception of Lord Hartington,
Sir Henry James, Mr. Chamberlain and Sir George Trevelyan - and
the Nationalist members, by a spontaneous impulse, sprang to
their feet and cheered him again and again. The speech which he
delivered was in every way worthy of the occasion. It expounded,
with marvelous lucidity and a noble eloquence, a tremendous
scheme of constructive legislation - the re-establishment of a
legislature in Ireland, but one subordinate to the Imperial
Parliament, and hedged round with every safeguard which could
protect the unity of the Empire. It took three hours in delivery,
and was listened to throughout with the utmost attention on every
side of the House. At its close all parties united in a tribute
of admiration for the genius which had astonished them with such
an exhibition of its powers.

Yet it is one thing to cheer an orator, another thing to vote for
a revolution. The bill was defeated - as it was almost sure to
be. Mr. Gladstone at once dissolved Parliament and appealed to
the country in a new election, with the result that he was
decisively defeated. His bold declaration that the contest was
one between the classes and the masses turned the aristocracy
against him, while he had again roused the bitter hatred of his

Gladstone, the "Grand Old Man," a title which he had nobly won,
returned to power in 1892, after a period of wholesale coercion
in Ireland. He was not to remain there long. He brought in a new
Home Rule Bill, supported it with much of his old vigor, and had
the intense satisfaction of having it passed, with a majority of
thirty-four. It was defeated in the House of Lords, and Home
Rule, still remains the prominent issue in Ireland, which it has
divided into two camps, Protestant Ulster being in revolt against
the Catholic provinces.

With this great event the public career of the Grand Old Man came
to an end. The burden had grown too heavy for his reduced
strength. In March, 1894, to the consternation of his party, he
announced his intention of retiring from public life. The Queen
offered, as she had done once before, to raise him to the peerage
as an earl, but he declined the proffer. His own plain name was a
title higher than that of any earldom in the kingdom.

On May 19, 1898, William Ewart Gladstone laid down the burden of
his life as he had already done that of labor. The noblest figure
in legislative life of the nineteenth century had passed away
from earth.


Struggles of a New Nation

The Republic Organized - The Commune of Paris - Instability of
the Government - Thiers Proclaimed President - Punishment of the
Unsuccessful Generals - MacMahon a Royalist President - Bazaine's
Sentence and Escape - Grevy, Gambetta and Boulanger - The Panama
Canal Scandal - Despotism of the Army Leaders - The Dreyfus Case
- Church and State - The Moroccan Controversy

It has been already told how the capitulation of the French army
at Sedan and the captivity of Louis Napoleon were followed in
Paris by the overthrow of the empire and the formation of a
republic, the third in the history of French political changes. A
provisional government was formed, the legislative assembly was
dissolved, and all the court paraphernalia of the imperial
establishment disappeared. The new government was called in Paris
the "Government of Lawyers," most of its members and officials
belonging to that profession. At its head was General Trochu, in
command of the army in Paris; among its chief members were Jules
Favre and Gambetta. While upright in its membership and honorable
in its purposes, it was an arbitrary body, formed by a coup
d'etat like that by which Napoleon had seized the reins of power,
and not destined for a long existence.


The news of the fall of Metz and the surrender of Bazaine and his
army served as a fresh spark to the inflammable public feeling of
France. In Paris the Red Republic raised the banner of
insurrection against the government of the national defense and
endeavored to revive the spirit of the Commmune of 1793. The
insurgents marched to the senate-house, demanded the election of
a municipal council which should share power with the government,
and proceeded to imprison Trochu, Jules Favre, and their
associates. This, however, was but a temporary success of the
Commune, and the provisional government continued in existence
until the end of the war, when a national assembly was elected by
the people and the temporary government was set aside. Gambetta,
the dictator, "the organizer of defeats," as he was sarcastically
entitled, lost his power, and the aged statesman and historian,
Louis Thiers, was chosen as chief of the executive department of
the new government.

The treaty of peace with Germany, including, as it did, the loss
of Alsace and Lorraine and the payment of an indemnity of
$1,000,000,000, roused once more the fierce passions of the
radicals and the masses of the great cities, who passionately
denounced the treaty as due to cowardice and treason. The
dethroned emperor added to the excitement by a manifesto, in
which he protested against his deposition by the assembly and
called for a fresh election. The final incitement to insurrection
came when the Assembly decided to hold its sessions at Versailles
instead of in Paris, whose unruly populace it feared.


In a moment all the revolutionary elements of the great city were
in a blaze. The social democratic "Commune," elected from the
central committee of the National Guard, renounced obedience to
the government and the National Assembly, and broke into open
revolt. An attempt to repress the movement merely added to its
violence, and all the riotous populace of Paris sprang to arms. A
new war was about to be inaugurated in that city which had just
suffered so severely from the guns of the Germans, and around
which German troops were still encamped.

The government had neglected to take possession of the cannon
Montmartre; and now, when the troops of the line, instead of
firing on the insurrectionists, went over in crowds to their
side, the supremacy over Paris fell into the hands of the wildest
demagogues. A fearful civil war commenced, and in the same forts
which the Germans had shortly before evacuated firing once more
resounded; the houses, gardens, and villages around Paris were
again surrendered to destruction; the creations of art, industry,
and civilization were endangered, and the abodes of wealth and
pleasure were transformed into dreary wildernesses.

The wild outbreaks of fanaticism on the part of the Commune
recalled the scenes of the revolution of 1789, and in these
spring days of 1871 Paris added another leaf to its long history
of crime and violence. The insurgents, roused to fury by the
efforts of the government to suppress them, murdered two
generals, Lecomte and Thomas, and fired on the unarmed citizens
who, as the "friends of order," desired a reconciliation with the
authorities at Versailles. They formed a government of their own,
extorted loans from wealthy citizens, confiscated the property of
religious societies, and seized and held as hostages Archbishop
Darboy and many other distinguished clergymen and citizens.

Meanwhile the investing French troops, led by Marshal MacMahon,
gradually fought their way through the defenses and into the
suburbs of the city, and the speedy surrender of the anarchists
in the capital became inevitable. This necessity excited their
passions to the most violent extent, and, with the wild fury of
savages, they set themselves to do all the damage they could to
the historical monuments of Paris. The noble Vendome column, the
symbol of the warlike renown of France, was torn down from its
pedestal and hurled prostrate into the street. The most historic
buildings in the city were set on fire, and either partially or
entirely destroyed. Among these were the Tuileries, a portion of
the Louvre, the Luxembourg, the Palais Royal, the Elysee, etc.;
while several of the imprisoned hostages, foremost among them
Darboy, Archbishop of Paris, and the universally respected
minister Daguerry, were shot by the infuriated mob. Such crimes
excited the Versailles troops to terrible vengeance, when they at
last succeeded in repressing the rebellion. They made their way
along a bloody course; human life was counted as nothing; the
streets were stained with blood and strewn with corpses, and the
Seine once more ran red between its banks. When at last the
Commune surrendered, the judicial courts at Versailles began
their work of retribution. The leaders and participators in the
rebellion who could not save themselves by flight were shot by
hundreds, confined in fortresses, or transported to the colonies.
For more than a year the imprisonments, trials, and executions
continued, military courts being established which excited the
world for months by their wholesale condemnations to exile and to
death. The carnival of anarchy was followed by one of pitiless


The Republican government of France, which had been accepted in
an emergency, was far from carrying with it the support of the
whole of the Assembly or of the people, and the aged, but active
and keen-witted Thiers had to steer through a medley of opposing
interests and sentiments. His government was considered, alike by
the Monarchists and the Jacobins, as only provisional, and the
Bourbons and Napoleonists on the one hand and the advocates of
"liberty, equality and fraternity" on the other, intrigued for
its overthrow. But the German armies still remained on French
soil, pending the payment of the costs of the war; and the astute
chief of the executive power possessed moderation enough to
pacify the passions of the people, to restrain their hatred of
the Germans, which was so boldly exhibited in the streets and in
the courts of justice, and to quiet the clamor for a war of

The position of parties at home was confused and distracted, and
a disturbance of the existing order could only lead to anarchy
and civil war. Thiers was thus the indispensable man of the
moment, and so much was he himself impressed by the consciousness
of this fact, that many times, by the threat of resignation, he
brought the opposing elements in the Assembly to harmony and

This occurred even during the siege of Paris, when the forces of
the government were in conflict with the Commune. In the Assembly
there was shown an inclination to moderate or break through the
sharp centralization of the government, and to procure some
autonomy for the provinces and towns. When, therefore, a new
scheme was discussed, a large part of the Assembly demanded that
the mayors should not, as formerly, be appointed by the
government, but be elected by the town councils. Only with
difficulty was Thiers able to effect a compromise, on the
strength of which the government was permitted the right of
appointment for all towns numbering over twenty thousand.

In the elections for the councils the moderate Republicans proved
triumphant. With a supple dexterity, Thiers knew how to steer
between the Democratic-Republican party and the Monarchists. When
Gambetta endeavored to establish a "league of Republican towns,"
the attempt was forbidden as illegal; and when the decree of
banishment against the Bourbon and Orleans princes was set aside,
and the latter returned to France, Thiers knew how to postpone
the entrance of the Duc d'Aumale and Prince de Joinville, who had
been elected deputies, into the Assembly at least until the end
of the year.


The brilliant success of the national loan went far to strengthen
the position of Thiers. The high offers for a share in this loan,
which indicated the inexhaustible wealth of the nation and the
solid credit of France abroad, promised a rapid payment of the
war indemnity, the consequent evacuation of the country by the
German army of occupation, and a restoration of the disturbed
finances of the state. The foolish manifesto of the Count de
Chambord, who declared that he had only to return with the white
banner to be made sovereign of France, brought all practical men
to the side of Thiers, and he had, during the last days of
August, 1871, the triumph of being proclaimed "President of the
French Republic."

The new president aimed, next to the liberation of the garrisoned
provinces from the German troops of occupation, at the
reorganization of the French army. Yet he could not bring himself
to the decision of enforcing in its entirety the principle of
general armed service, such as had raised Prussia from a state of
depression to one of military regeneration. Universal military
service in France was, it is true, adopted in name, and the army
was increased to an immense extent, but under such conditions and
limitations that the richer and more educated classes could
exempt themselves from service in the army; and thus the active
forces, as before, consisted of professional soldiers. And when
the minister for education, Jules Simon, introduced an
educational law based on liberal principles, he experienced on
the part of the clergy such violent opposition that the
government dropped the measure.

In order to place the army in the condition which Thiers desired,
an increase in the military budget was necessary, and
consequently an enhancement of the general revenues of the state.
For this purpose a return to the tariff system, which had been
abolished under the empire, was proposed, but excited so great an
opposition in the Assembly that six months passed before it could
be carried. The new organization of the army, undertaken with a
view of placing France on a level in military strength with her
late conqueror, was now eagerly undertaken by the president. An
active army, with five year's service, was to be added to a
"territorial army," a kind of militia. And so great was the
demand on the portion of the nation capable of bearing arms that
the new French army exceeded in numbers that of any other nation.

But all the statesmanship of Thiers could not overcome the
anarchy in the Assembly, where the forces for monarchy and
republicanism were bitterly opposed to each other. Gambetta, in
order to rouse public opinion in favor of democracy, made several
tours through the country, his extravagance of language giving
deep offense to the Monarchists, while the opposed sections of
the Assembly grew wider and more violent in their breach.


Indisputable as were the valuable services which Thiers had
rendered to France, by the foundation of public order and
authority, the creation of a regular army, and the restoration of
a solid financial system, yet all these services met with no
recognition in the face of the party jealousy and political
passions prevailing among the people's representatives at
Versailles. More and more did the Royalist reaction gain ground,

Book of the day: