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

The Story of Mankind by Hendrik van Loon

Part 6 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 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.

100 per cent. per month on their money if only they will
trust his own infallible system.

He was Charles Alexandre de Calonne, a pushing official,
who had made his career both by his industry and his
complete lack of honesty and scruples. He found the country
heavily indebted, but he was a clever man, willing to oblige
everybody, and he invented a quick remedy. He paid the
old debts by contracting new ones. This method is not new.
The result since time immemorial has been disastrous. In
less than three years more than 800,000,000 francs had been
added to the French debt by this charming Minister of Finance
who never worried and smilingly signed his name to every
demand that was made by His Majesty and by his lovely
Queen, who had learned the habit of spending during the days
of her youth in Vienna.

At last even the Parliament of Paris (a high court of justice
and not a legislative body) although by no means lacking
in loyalty to their sovereign, decided that something must be
done. Calonne wanted to borrow another 80,000,000 francs.
It had been a bad year for the crops and the misery and hunger
in the country districts were terrible. Unless something sensible
were done, France would go bankrupt. The King as always
was unaware of the seriousness of the situation. Would it not
be a good idea to consult the representatives of the people?
Since 1614 no Estates General had been called together. In
view of the threatening panic there was a demand that the
Estates be convened. Louis XVI however, who never could
take a decision, refused to go as far as that.

To pacify the popular clamour he called together a meeting
of the Notables in the year 1787. This merely meant a gathering
of the best families who discussed what could and should
be done, without touching their feudal and clerical privilege
of tax-exemption. It is unreasonable to expect that a certain
class of society shall commit political and economic suicide for
the benefit of another group of fellow-citizens. The 127
Notables obstinately refused to surrender a single one of their
ancient rights. The crowd in the street, being now exceedingly
hungry, demanded that Necker, in whom they had confidence,
be reappointed. The Notables said ``No.'' The crowd
in the street began to smash windows and do other unseemly
things. The Notables fled. Calonne was dismissed.

A new colourless Minister of Finance, the Cardinal
Lomenie de Brienne, was appointed and Louis, driven by the
violent threats of his starving subjects, agreed to call together
the old Estates General as ``soon as practicable.'' This vague
promise of course satisfied no one.

No such severe winter had been experienced for almost a
century. The crops had been either destroyed by floods or had
been frozen to death in the fields. All the olive trees of the
Provence had been killed. Private charity tried to do some-
thing but could accomplish little for eighteen million starving
people. Everywhere bread riots occurred. A generation before
these would have been put down by the army. But the
work of the new philosophical school had begun to bear fruit.
People began to understand that a shotgun is no effective
remedy for a hungry stomach and even the soldiers (who came
from among the people) were no longer to be depended upon.
It was absolutely necessary that the king should do something
definite to regain the popular goodwill, but again he hesitated.

Here and there in the provinces, little independent Republics
were established by followers of the new school. The cry
of ``no taxation without representation'' (the slogan of the
American rebels a quarter of a century before) was heard
among the faithful middle classes. France was threatened with
general anarchy. To appease the people and to increase the
royal popularity, the government unexpectedly suspended the
former very strict form of censorship of books. At once a
flood of ink descended upon France. Everybody, high or
low, criticised and was criticised. More than 2000
pamphlets were published. Lomenie de Brienne was swept away
by a storm of abuse. Necker was hastily called back to placate,
as best he could, the nation-wide unrest. Immediately the stock
market went up thirty per cent. And by common consent, people
suspended judgment for a little while longer. In May of
1789 the Estates General were to assemble and then the wisdom
of the entire nation would speedily solve the difficult problem
of recreating the kingdom of France into a healthy and happy

This prevailing idea, that the combined wisdom of the
people would be able to solve all difficulties, proved disastrous.
It lamed all personal effort during many important months.
Instead of keeping the government in his own hands at this
critical moment, Necker allowed everything to drift. Hence
there was a new outbreak of the acrimonious debate upon the
best ways to reform the old kingdom. Everywhere the power
of the police weakened. The people of the Paris suburbs,
under the leadership of professional agitators, gradually began
to discover their strength, and commenced to play the role
which was to be theirs all through the years of the great unrest,
when they acted as the brute force which was used by the actual
leaders of the Revolution to secure those things which could
not be obtained in a legitimate fashion.

As a sop to the peasants and the middle class, Necker de-
cided that they should be allowed a double representation in
the Estates General. Upon this subject, the Abbe Sieyes then
wrote a famous pamphlet, ``To what does the Third Estate
Amount?'' in which he came to the conclusion that the Third
Estate (a name given to the middle class) ought to amount to
everything, that it had not amounted to anything in the past,
and that it now desired to amount to something. He expressed
the sentiment of the great majority of the people who had the
best interests of the country at heart.

Finally the elections took place under the worst conditions
imaginable. When they were over, 308 clergymen, 285 noblemen
and 621 representatives of the Third Estate packed their
trunks to go to Versailles. The Third Estate was obliged to
carry additional luggage. This consisted of voluminous reports
called ``cahiers'' in which the many complaints and grievances
of their constituents had been written down. The stage
was set for the great final act that was to save France.

The Estates General came together on May 5th, 1789.
The king was in a bad humour. The Clergy and the Nobility
let it be known that they were unwilling to give up a single one
of their privileges. The king ordered the three groups of
representatives to meet in different rooms and discuss their
grievances separately. The Third Estate refused to obey the royal
command. They took a solemn oath to that effect in a squash
court (hastily put in order for the purpose of this illegal meeting)
on the 20th of June, 1789. They insisted that all three
Estates, Nobility, Clergy and Third Estate, should meet together
and so informed His Majesty. The king gave in.

As the ``National Assembly,'' the Estates General began
to discuss the state of the French kingdom. The King got
angry. Then again he hesitated. He said that he would never
surrender his absolute power. Then he went hunting, forgot
all about the cares of the state and when he returned from the
chase he gave in. For it was the royal habit to do the right
thing at the wrong time in the wrong way. When the people
clamoured for A, the king scolded them and gave them nothing.
Then, when the Palace was surrounded by a howling multitude
of poor people, the king surrendered and gave his subjects
what they had asked for. By this time, however, the people
wanted A plus B. The comedy was repeated. When the king
signed his name to the Royal Decree which granted his beloved
subjects A and B they were threatening to kill the entire royal
family unless they received A plus B plus C. And so on,
through the whole alphabet and up to the scaffold.

Unfortunately the king was always just one letter behind.
He never understood this. Even when he laid his head under
the guillotine, he felt that he was a much-abused man who had
received a most unwarrantable treatment at the hands of people
whom he had loved to the best of his limited ability.

Historical ``ifs,'' as I have often warned you, are never of
any value. It is very easy for us to say that the monarchy
might have been saved ``if'' Louis had been a man of greater
energy and less kindness of heart. But the king was not alone.
Even ``if'' he had possessed the ruthless strength of Napoleon,
his career during these difficult days might have been easily
ruined by his wife who was the daughter of Maria Theresa of
Austria and who possessed all the characteristic virtues and
vices of a young girl who had been brought up at the most
autocratic and mediaeval court of that age.

She decided that some action must be taken and planned a
counter-revolution. Necker was suddenly dismissed and loyal
troops were called to Paris. The people, when they heard of
this, stormed the fortress of the Bastille prison, and on the
fourteenth of July of the year 1789, they destroyed this
familiar but much-hated symbol of Autocratic Power
which had long since ceased to be a political prison and
was now used as the city lock-up for pickpockets and second-
story men. Many of the nobles took the hint and left the
country. But the king as usual did nothing. He had been
hunting on the day of the fall of the Bastille and he had shot
several deer and felt very much pleased.

The National Assembly now set to work and on the 4th of
August, with the noise of the Parisian multitude in their ears,
they abolished all privileges. This was followed on the 27th
of August by the ``Declaration of the Rights of Man,'' the
famous preamble to the first French constitution. So far so
good, but the court had apparently not yet learned its lesson.
There was a wide-spread suspicion that the king was again
trying to interfere with these reforms and as a result, on the
5th of October, there was a second riot in Paris. It spread to
Versailles and the people were not pacified until they had
brought the king back to his palace in Paris. They did not
trust him in Versailles. They liked to have him where they
could watch him and control his correspondence with his relatives
in Vienna and Madrid and the other courts of Europe.

In the Assembly meanwhile, Mirabeau, a nobleman who
had become leader of the Third Estate, was beginning to put
order into chaos. But before he could save the position of the
king he died, on the 2nd of April of the year 1791. The king,
who now began to fear for his own life, tried to escape on the
21st of June. He was recognised from his picture on a coin,
was stopped near the village of Varennes by members of the
National Guard, and was brought back to Paris,

In September of 1791, the first constitution of France was
accepted, and the members of the National Assembly went
home. On the first of October of 1791, the legislative assembly
came together to continue the work of the National
Assembly. In this new gathering of popular representatives
there were many extremely revolutionary elements. The
boldest among these were known as the Jacobins, after the old
Jacobin cloister in which they held their political meetings.
These young men (most of them belonging to the professional
classes) made very violent speeches and when the newspapers
carried these orations to Berlin and Vienna, the King of
Prussia and the Emperor decided that they must do something
to save their good brother and sister. They were very busy
just then dividing the kingdom of Poland, where rival political
factions had caused such a state of disorder that the country
was at the mercy of anybody who wanted to take a couple of
provinces. But they managed to send an army to invade
France and deliver the king.

Then a terrible panic of fear swept throughout the land
of France. All the pent-up hatred of years of hunger and
suffering came to a horrible climax. The mob of Paris stormed
the palace of the Tuilleries. The faithful Swiss bodyguards
tried to defend their master, but Louis, unable to make up his
mind, gave order to ``cease firing'' just when the crowd was
retiring. The people, drunk with blood and noise and cheap
wine, murdered the Swiss to the last man, then invaded the
palace, and went after Louis who had escaped into the meeting
hall of the Assembly, where he was immediately suspended of
his office, and from where he was taken as a prisoner to the
old castle of the Temple.

But the armies of Austria and Prussia continued their advance
and the panic changed into hysteria and turned men and
women into wild beasts. In the first week of September of
the year 1792, the crowd broke into the jails and murdered all
the prisoners. The government did not interfere. The Jacobins,
headed by Danton, knew that this crisis meant either the
success or the failure of the revolution, and that only the most
brutal audacity could save them. The Legislative Assembly
was closed and on the 21st of September of the year 1792, a
new National Convention came together. It was a body composed
almost entirely of extreme revolutionists. The king was
formally accused of high treason and was brought before the
Convention. He was found guilty and by a vote of 361 to 360
(the extra vote being that of his cousin the Duke of Orleans)
he was condemned to death. On the 21st of January of the
year 1793, he quietly and with much dignity suffered himself
to be taken to the scaffold. He had never understood what all
the shooting and the fuss had been about. And he had been too
proud to ask questions.

Then the Jacobins turned against the more moderate element
in the convention, the Girondists, called after their southern
district, the Gironde. A special revolutionary tribunal was
instituted and twenty-one of the leading Girondists were
condemned to death. The others committed suicide. They were
capable and honest men but too philosophical and too moderate
to survive during these frightful years.

In October of the year 1793 the Constitution was
suspended by the Jacobins ``until peace should have been
declared.'' All power was placed in the hands of a small committee
of Public Safety, with Danton and Robespierre as its
leaders. The Christian religion and the old chronology were
abolished. The ``Age of Reason'' (of which Thomas Paine had
written so eloquently during the American Revolution) had
come and with it the ``Terror'' which for more than a year killed
good and bad and indifferent people at the rate of seventy or
eighty a day.

The autocratic rule of the King had been destroyed. It
was succeeded by the tyranny of a few people who had such a
passionate love for democratic virtue that they felt compelled
to kill all those who disagreed with them. France was turned
into a slaughter house. Everybody suspected everybody else.
No one felt safe. Out of sheer fear, a few members of the old
Convention, who knew that they were the next candidates for
the scaffold, finally turned against Robespierre, who had
already decapitated most of his former colleagues. Robespierre,
``the only true and pure Democrat,'' tried to kill himself
but failed His shattered jaw was hastily bandaged and
he was dragged to the guillotine. On the 27th of July, of the
year 1794 (the 9th Thermidor of the year II, according to the
strange chronology of the revolution), the reign of Terror came
to an end, and all Paris danced with joy.

The dangerous position of France, however, made it necessary
that the government remain in the hands of a few strong
men, until the many enemies of the revolution should have been
driven from the soil of the French fatherland. While the
half-clad and half-starved revolutionary armies fought their
desperate battles of the Rhine and Italy and Belgium and
Egypt, and defeated every one of the enemies of the Great
Revolution, five Directors were appointed, and they ruled
France for four years. Then the power was vested in the hands
of a successful general by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte,
who became ``First Consul'' of France in the year 1799. And
during the next fifteen years, the old European continent became
the laboratory of a number of political experiments, the
like of which the world had never seen before.



NAPOLEON was born in the year 1769, the third son
of Carlo Maria Buonaparte, an honest notary public of
the city of Ajaccio in the island of Corsica, and his good
wife, Letizia Ramolino. He therefore was not a Frenchman,
but an Italian whose native island (an old Greek, Carthaginian
and Roman colony in the Mediterranean Sea) had
for years been struggling to regain its independence,
first of all from the Genoese, and after the middle of the
eighteenth century from the French, who had kindly offered
to help the Corsicans in their struggle for freedom and had
then occupied the island for their own benefit.

During the first twenty years of his life, young Napoleon
was a professional Corsican patriot--a Corsican Sinn Feiner,
who hoped to deliver his beloved country from the yoke of the
bitterly hated French enemy. But the French revolution had
unexpectedly recognised the claims of the Corsicans and gradually
Napoleon, who had received a good training at the military
school of Brienne, drifted into the service of his adopted country.
Although he never learned to spell French correctly or
to speak it without a broad Italian accent, he became a Frenchman.
In due time he came to stand as the highest expression
of all French virtues. At present he is regarded as the symbol
of the Gallic genius.

Napoleon was what is called a fast worker. His career
does not cover more than twenty years. In that short span
of time he fought more wars and gained more victories and
marched more miles and conquered more square kilometers and
killed more people and brought about more reforms and generally
upset Europe to a greater extent than anybody (including
Alexander the Great and Jenghis Khan) had ever managed
to do.

He was a little fellow and during the first years of his life
his health was not very good. He never impressed anybody
by his good looks and he remained to the end of his days very
clumsy whenever he was obliged to appear at a social function.
He did not enjoy a single advantage of breeding or birth or
riches. For the greater part of his youth he was desperately
poor and often he had to go without a meal or was obliged
to make a few extra pennies in curious ways.

He gave little promise as a literary genius. When he competed
for a prize offered by the Academy of Lyons, his essay
was found to be next to the last and he was number 15 out of
16 candidates. But he overcame all these difficulties through
his absolute and unshakable belief in his own destiny, and in
his own glorious future. Ambition was the main-spring of his
life. The thought of self, the worship of that capital letter
``N'' with which he signed all his letters, and which recurred
forever in the ornaments of his hastily constructed palaces, the
absolute will to make the name Napoleon the most important
thing in the world next to the name of God, these desires carried
Napoleon to a pinnacle of fame which no other man has
ever reached.

When he was a half-pay lieutenant, young Bonaparte was
very fond of the ``Lives of Famous Men'' which Plutarch, the
Roman historian, had written. But he never tried to live up
to the high standard of character set by these heroes of the
older days. Napoleon seems to have been devoid of all those
considerate and thoughtful sentiments which make men
different from the animals. It will be very difficult to decide
with any degree of accuracy whether he ever loved anyone
besides himself. He kept a civil tongue to his mother, but
Letizia had the air and manners of a great lady and after the
fashion of Italian mothers, she knew how to rule her brood of
children and command their respect. For a few years he was
fond of Josephine, his pretty Creole wife, who was the daughter
of a French officer of Martinique and the widow of the
Vicomte de Beauharnais, who had been executed by Robespierre
when he lost a battle against the Prussians. But
the Emperor divorced her when she failed to give him a son
and heir and married the daughter of the Austrian Emperor,
because it seemed good policy.

During the siege of Toulon, where he gained great fame
as commander of a battery, Napoleon studied Macchiavelli
with industrious care. He followed the advice of the Florentine
statesman and never kept his word when it was to his
advantage to break it. The word ``gratitude'' did not occur in
his personal dictionary. Neither, to be quite fair, did he expect
it from others. He was totally indifferent to human suffering.
He executed prisoners of war (in Egypt in 1798) who had
been promised their lives, and he quietly allowed his wounded
in Syria to be chloroformed when he found it impossible to
transport them to his ships. He ordered the Duke of Enghien
to be condemned to death by a prejudiced court-martial and to
be shot contrary to all law on the sole ground that the
``Bourbons needed a warning.'' He decreed that those German
officers who were made prisoner while fighting for their
country's independence should be shot against the nearest wall,
and when Andreas Hofer, the Tyrolese hero, fell into his hands
after a most heroic resistance, he was executed like a common

In short, when we study the character of the Emperor, we
begin to understand those anxious British mothers who used
to drive their children to bed with the threat that ``Bonaparte,
who ate little boys and girls for breakfast, would come and get
them if they were not very good.'' And yet, having said these
many unpleasant things about this strange tyrant, who looked
after every other department of his army with the utmost care,
but neglected the medical service, and who ruined his uniforms
with Eau de Cologne because he could not stand the smell of
his poor sweating soldiers; having said all these unpleasant
things and being fully prepared to add many more, I must
confess to a certain lurking feeling of doubt.

Here I am sitting at a comfortable table loaded heavily
with books, with one eye on my typewriter and the other on
Licorice the cat, who has a great fondness for carbon paper,
and I am telling you that the Emperor Napoleon was a most
contemptible person. But should I happen to look out of
the window, down upon Seventh Avenue, and should the endless
procession of trucks and carts come to a sudden halt, and
should I hear the sound of the heavy drums and see the little
man on his white horse in his old and much-worn green uniform,
then I don't know, but I am afraid that I would leave
my books and the kitten and my home and everything else to
follow him wherever he cared to lead. My own grandfather
did this and Heaven knows he was not born to be a hero.
Millions of other people's grandfathers did it. They received
no reward, but they expected none. They cheerfully
gave legs and arms and lives to serve this foreigner, who took
them a thousand miles away from their homes and marched
them into a barrage of Russian or English or Spanish or
Italian or Austrian cannon and stared quietly into space while
they were rolling in the agony of death.

If you ask me for an explanation, I must answer that I
have none. I can only guess at one of the reasons. Napoleon
was the greatest of actors and the whole European continent
was his stage. At all times and under all circumstances
he knew the precise attitude that would impress the spectators
most and he understood what words would make the deepest
impression. Whether he spoke in the Egyptian desert, before
the backdrop of the Sphinx and the pyramids, or addressed
his shivering men on the dew-soaked plains of Italy, made no
difference. At all times he was master of the situation. Even
at the end, an exile on a little rock in the middle of the Atlantic,
a sick man at the mercy of a dull and intolerable British governor,
he held the centre of the stage.

After the defeat of Waterloo, no one outside of a few
trusted friends ever saw the great Emperor. The people of
Europe knew that he was living on the island of St. Helena--
they knew that a British garrison guarded him day and night
--they knew that the British fleet guarded the garrison which
guarded the Emperor on his farm at Longwood. But he was
never out of the mind of either friend or enemy. When illness
and despair had at last taken him away, his silent eyes continued
to haunt the world. Even to-day he is as much of a force
in the life of France as a hundred years ago when people
fainted at the mere sight of this sallow-faced man who stabled
his horses in the holiest temples of the Russian Kremlin, and
who treated the Pope and the mighty ones of this earth as if
they were his lackeys.

To give you a mere outline of his life would demand
couple of volumes. To tell you of his great political reform
of the French state, of his new codes of laws which were
adopted in most European countries, of his activities in every
field of public activity, would take thousands of pages. But
I can explain in a few words why he was so successful during
the first part of his career and why he failed during the last
ten years. From the year 1789 until the year 1804, Napoleon
was the great leader of the French revolution. He was not
merely fighting for the glory of his own name. He defeated
Austria and Italy and England and Russia because he, himself,
and his soldiers were the apostles of the new creed of
``Liberty, Fraternity and Equality'' and were the enemies of
the courts while they were the friends of the people.

But in the year 1804, Napoleon made himself Hereditary
Emperor of the French and sent for Pope Pius VII to come
and crown him, even as Leo III, in the year 800 had crowned
that other great King of the Franks, Charlemagne, whose example
was constantly before Napoleon's eyes.

Once upon the throne, the old revolutionary chieftain became
an unsuccessful imitation of a Habsburg monarch. He
forgot his spiritual Mother, the Political Club of the Jacobins.
He ceased to be the defender of the oppressed. He became the
chief of all the oppressors and kept his shooting squads ready
to execute those who dared to oppose his imperial will. No
one had shed a tear when in the year 1806 the sad remains of
the Holy Roman Empire were carted to the historical dustbin
and when the last relic of ancient Roman glory was destroyed
by the grandson of an Italian peasant. But when the Napoleonic
armies had invaded Spain, had forced the Spaniards to
recognise a king whom they detested, had massacred the poor
Madrilenes who remained faithful to their old rulers, then
public opinion turned against the former hero of Marengo and
Austerlitz and a hundred other revolutionary battles. Then
and only then, when Napoleon was no longer the hero of the
revolution but the personification of all the bad traits of the
Old Regime, was it possible for England to give direction to
the fast-spreading sentiment of hatred which was turning all
honest men into enemies of the French Emperor.

The English people from the very beginning had felt
deeply disgusted when their newspapers told them the gruesome
details of the Terror. They had staged their own great
revolution (during the reign of Charles I) a century before.
It had been a very simple affair compared to the upheaval of
Paris. In the eyes of the average Englishman a Jacobin was
a monster to be shot at sight and Napoleon was the Chief Devil.
The British fleet had blockaded France ever since the year
1798. It had spoiled Napoleon's plan to invade India by way
of Egypt and had forced him to beat an ignominious retreat,
after his victories along the banks of the Nile. And finally,
in the year 1805, England got the chance it had waited for so

Near Cape Trafalgar on the southwestern coast of Spain,
Nelson annihilated the Napoleonic fleet, beyond a possible
chance of recovery. From that moment on, the Emperor was
landlocked. Even so, he would have been able to maintain
himself as the recognised ruler of the continent had he understood
the signs of the times and accepted the honourable peace
which the powers offered him. But Napoleon had been blinded
by the blaze of his own glory. He would recognise no equals.
He could tolerate no rivals. And his hatred turned against
Russia, the mysterious land of the endless plains with its
inexhaustible supply of cannon-fodder.

As long as Russia was ruled by Paul I, the half-witted son
of Catherine the Great, Napoleon had known how to deal with
the situation. But Paul grew more and more irresponsible
until his exasperated subjects were obliged to murder him
(lest they all be sent to the Siberian lead-mines) and the son of
Paul, the Emperor Alexander, did not share his father's affection
for the usurper whom he regarded as the enemy of mankind,
the eternal disturber of the peace. He was a pious man
who believed that he had been chosen by God to deliver the
world from the Corsican curse. He joined Prussia and England
and Austria and he was defeated. He tried five times
and five times he failed. In the year 1812 he once more taunted
Napoleon until the French Emperor, in a blind rage, vowed
that he would dictate peace in Moscow. Then, from far and
wide, from Spain and Germany and Holland and Italy and
Portugal, unwilling regiments were driven northward, that the
wounded pride of the great Emperor might be duly avenged.
The rest of the story is common knowledge. After a march
of two months, Napoleon reached the Russian capital and
established his headquarters in the holy Kremlin. On the night
of September 15 of the year 1812, Moscow caught fire. The
town burned four days. When the evening of the fifth day
came, Napoleon gave the order for the retreat. Two weeks
later it began to snow. The army trudged through mud and
sleet until November the 26th when the river Berezina was
reached. Then the Russian attacks began in all seriousness.
The Cossacks swarmed around the ``Grande Armee'' which
was no longer an army but a mob. In the middle of December
the first of the survivors began to be seen in the German cities
of the East.

Then there were many rumours of an impending revolt.
``The time has come,'' the people of Europe said, ``to free ourselves
from this insufferable yoke.'' And they began to look
for old shotguns which had escaped the eye of the ever-present
French spies. But ere they knew what had happened, Napoleon
was back with a new army. He had left his defeated soldiers
and in his little sleigh had rushed ahead to Paris, making
a final appeal for more troops that he might defend the sacred
soil of France against foreign invasion.

Children of sixteen and seventeen followed him when he
moved eastward to meet the allied powers. On October 16,
18, and 19 of the year 1813, the terrible battle of Leipzig took
place where for three days boys in green and boys in blue
fought each other until the Elbe ran red with blood. On the
afternoon of the 17th of October, the massed reserves of Russian
infantry broke through the French lines and Napoleon

Back to Paris he went. He abdicated in favour of his small
son, but the allied powers insisted that Louis XVIII, the
brother of the late king Louis XVI, should occupy the French
throne, and surrounded by Cossacks and Uhlans, the dull-eyed
Bourbon prince made his triumphal entry into Paris.

As for Napoleon he was made the sovereign ruler of the
little island of Elba in the Mediterranean where he organised
his stable boys into a miniature army and fought battles on a
chess board.

But no sooner had he left France than the people began
to realise what they had lost. The last twenty years, however
costly, had been a period of great glory. Paris had been the
capital of the world. The fat Bourbon king who had learned
nothing and had forgotten nothing during the days of his
exile disgusted everybody by his indolence.

On the first of March of the year 1815, when the representatives
of the allies were ready to begin the work of unscrambling
the map of Europe, Napoleon suddenly landed near
Cannes. In less than a week the French army had deserted
the Bourbons and had rushed southward to offer their swords
and bayonets to the ``little Corporal.'' Napoleon marched
straight to Paris where he arrived on the twentieth of March.
This time he was more cautious. He offered peace, but the
allies insisted upon war. The whole of Europe arose against
the ``perfidious Corsican.'' Rapidly the Emperor marched
northward that he might crush his enemies before they should
be able to unite their forces. But Napoleon was no longer his
old self. He felt sick. He got tired easily. He slept when he
ought to have been up directing the attack of his advance-
guard. Besides, he missed many of his faithful old generals.
They were dead.

Early in June his armies entered Belgium. On the 16th
of that month he defeated the Prussians under Blucher. But
a subordinate commander failed to destroy the retreating army
as he had been ordered to do.

Two days later, Napoleon met Wellington near Waterloo.
It was the 18th of June, a Sunday. At two o'clock of the
afternoon, the battle seemed won for the French. At three a
speck of dust appeared upon the eastern horizon. Napoleon
believed that this meant the approach of his own cavalry who
would now turn the English defeat into a rout. At four o'clock
he knew better. Cursing and swearing, old Blucher drove
his deathly tired troops into the heart of the fray. The shock
broke the ranks of the guards. Napoleon had no further reserves.
He told his men to save themselves as best they could,
and he fled.

For a second time, he abdicated in favor of his son. Just
one hundred days after his escape from Elba, he was making
for the coast. He intended to go to America. In the year
1803, for a mere song, he had sold the French colony of
Louisiana (which was in great danger of being captured by
the English) to the young American Republic. ``The Americans,''
so he said, ``will be grateful and will give me a little bit
of land and a house where I may spend the last days of my life
in peace and quiet.'' But the English fleet was watching all
French harbours. Caught between the armies of the Allies
and the ships of the British, Napoleon had no choice. The
Prussians intended to shoot him. The English might be more
generous. At Rochefort he waited in the hope that something
might turn up. One month after Waterloo, he received orders
from the new French government to leave French soil inside
of twenty-four hours. Always the tragedian, he wrote a letter
to the Prince Regent of England (George IV, the king, was
in an insane asylum) informing His Royal Highness of his
intention to ``throw himself upon the mercy of his enemies and
like Themistocles, to look for a welcome at the fireside of his
foes . . .

On the 15th of July he went on board the ``Bellerophon,''
and surrendered his sword to Admiral Hotham. At Plymouth
he was transferred to the ``Northumberland'' which carried him
to St. Helena. There he spent the last seven years of his
life. He tried to write his memoirs, he quarrelled with his
keepers and he dreamed of past times. Curiously enough he
returned (at least in his imagination) to his original point of
departure. He remembered the days when he had fought the
battles of the Revolution. He tried to convince himself that
he had always been the true friend of those great principles of
``Liberty, Fraternity and Equality'' which the ragged soldiers
of the convention had carried to the ends of the earth. He
liked to dwell upon his career as Commander-in-Chief and
Consul. He rarely spoke of the Empire. Sometimes he
thought of his son, the Duke of Reichstadt, the little eagle,
who lived in Vienna, where he was treated as a ``poor relation''
by his young Habsburg cousins, whose fathers had trembled at
the very mention of the name of Him. When the end came,
he was leading his troops to victory. He ordered Ney to attack
with the guards. Then he died.

But if you want an explanation of this strange career, if
you really wish to know how one man could possibly rule so
many people for so many years by the sheer force of his will,
do not read the books that have been written about him. Their
authors either hated the Emperor or loved him. You will
learn many facts, but it is more important to ``feel history''
than to know it. Don't read, but wait until you have a chance
to hear a good artist sing the song called ``The Two Grenadiers.''
The words were written by Heine, the great German
poet who lived through the Napoleonic era. The music was
composed by Schumann, a German who saw the Emperor,
the enemy of his country, whenever he came to visit his imperial
father-in-law. The song therefore is the work of two
men who had every reason to hate the tyrant.

Go and hear it. Then you will understand what a thousand
volumes could not possibly tell you.



THE Imperial Highnesses, the Royal Highnesses, their
Graces the Dukes, the Ministers Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary,
together with the plain Excellencies and their army
of secretaries, servants and hangers-on, whose labours had
been so rudely interrupted by the sudden return of the terrible
Corsican (now sweltering under the hot sun of St. Helena)
went back to their jobs. The victory was duly celebrated with
dinners, garden parties and balls at which the new and very
shocking ``waltz'' was danced to the great scandal of the ladies
and gentlemen who remembered the minuet of the old Regime.

For almost a generation they had lived in retirement. At
last the danger was over. They were very eloquent upon the
subject of the terrible hardships which they had suffered.
And they expected to be recompensed for every penny they
had lost at the hands of the unspeakable Jacobins who had
dared to kill their anointed king, who had abolished wigs and
who had discarded the short trousers of the court of Versailles
for the ragged pantaloons of the Parisian slums.

You may think it absurd that I should mention such a
detail. But, if you please, the Congress of Vienna was one
long succession of such absurdities and for many months the
question of ``short trousers vs. long trousers'' interested the
delegates more than the future settlement of the Saxon or
Spanish problems. His Majesty the King of Prussia went so
far as to order a pair of short ones, that he might give public
evidence of his contempt for everything revolutionary.

Another German potentate, not to be outdone in this noble
hatred for the revolution, decreed that all taxes which his subjects
had paid to the French usurper should be paid a second
time to the legitimate ruler who had loved his people from afar
while they were at the mercy of the Corsican ogre. And so on.
From one blunder to another, until one gasps and exclaims
``but why in the name of High Heaven did not the people
object?'' Why not indeed? Because the people were utterly
exhausted, were desperate, did not care what happened or how
or where or by whom they were ruled, provided there was
peace. They were sick and tired of war and revolution and

In the eighties of the previous century they had all danced
around the tree of liberty. Princes had embraced their cooks
and Duchesses had danced the Carmagnole with their lackeys
in the honest belief that the Millennium of Equality and
Fraternity had at last dawned upon this wicked world. Instead of
the Millennium they had been visited by the Revolutionary
commissary who had lodged a dozen dirty soldiers in their parlor
and had stolen the family plate when he returned to Paris to
report to his government upon the enthusiasm with which the
``liberated country'' had received the Constitution, which the
French people had presented to their good neighbours.

When they had heard how the last outbreak of revolutionary
disorder in Paris had been suppressed by a young officer, called
Bonaparte, or Buonaparte, who had turned his guns upon the
mob, they gave a sigh of relief. A little less liberty, fraternity
and equality seemed a very desirable thing. But ere long, the
young officer called Buonaparte or Bonaparte became one of
the three consuls of the French Republic, then sole consul and
finally Emperor. As he was much more efficient than any
ruler that had ever been seen before, his hand pressed heavily
upon his poor subjects. He showed them no mercy. He impressed
their sons into his armies, he married their daughters
to his generals and he took their pictures and their statues to
enrich his own museums. He turned the whole of Europe
into an armed camp and killed almost an entire generation of

Now he was gone, and the people (except a few professional
military men) had but one wish. They wanted to be let alone.
For awhile they had been allowed to rule themselves, to vote
for mayors and aldermen and judges. The system had been a
terrible failure. The new rulers had been inexperienced and
extravagant. From sheer despair the people turned to the
representative men of the old Regime. ``You rule us,'' they
said, ``as you used to do. Tell us what we owe you for taxes
and leave us alone. We are busy repairing the damage of the
age of liberty.''

The men who stage-managed the famous congress certainly
did their best to satisfy this longing for rest and quiet.
The Holy Alliance, the main result of the Congress, made the
policeman the most important dignitary of the State and held
out the most terrible punishment to those who dared criticise a
single official act.

Europe had peace, but it was the peace of the cemetery.

The three most important men at Vienna were the Emperor
Alexander of Russia, Metternich, who represented the
interests of the Austrian house of Habsburg, and Talleyrand,
the erstwhile bishop of Autun, who had managed to live
through the different changes in the French government by
the sheer force of his cunning and his intelligence and who
now travelled to the Austrian capital to save for his country
whatever could be saved from the Napoleonic ruin. Like the
gay young man of the limerick, who never knew when he was
slighted, this unbidden guest came to the party and ate just as
heartily as if he had been really invited. Indeed, before long,
he was sitting at the head of the table entertaining everybody
with his amusing stories and gaining the company's good will
by the charm of his manner.

Before he had been in Vienna twenty-four hours he knew
that the allies were divided into two hostile camps. On the
one side were Russia, who wanted to take Poland, and Prussia,
who wanted to annex Saxony; and on the other side were
Austria and England, who were trying to prevent this grab
because it was against their own interest that either Prussia or
Russia should be able to dominate Europe. Talleyrand played
the two sides against each other with great skill and it was due
to his efforts that the French people were not made to suffer
for the ten years of oppression which Europe had endured at
the hands of the Imperial officials. He argued that the French
people had been given no choice in the matter. Napoleon had
forced them to act at his bidding. But Napoleon was gone and
Louis XVIII was on the throne. ``Give him a chance,'' Talleyrand
pleaded. And the Allies, glad to see a legitimate king
upon the throne of a revolutionary country, obligingly yielded
and the Bourbons were given their chance, of which they
made such use that they were driven out after fifteen years.

The second man of the triumvirate of Vienna was Metternich,
the Austrian prime minister, the leader of the foreign
policy of the house of Habsburg. Wenzel Lothar, Prince of
Metternich-Winneburg, was exactly what the name suggests.
He was a Grand Seigneur, a very handsome gentleman with
very fine manners, immensely rich, and very able, but the
product of a society which lived a thousand miles away from
the sweating multitudes who worked and slaved in the cities
and on the farms. As a young man, Metternich had been
studying at the University of Strassburg when the French
Revolution broke out. Strassburg, the city which gave birth
to the Marseillaise, had been a centre of Jacobin activities.
Metternich remembered that his pleasant social life had been
sadly interrupted, that a lot of incompetent citizens had suddenly
been called forth to perform tasks for which they were
not fit, that the mob had celebrated the dawn of the new liberty
by the murder of perfectly innocent persons. He had failed to
see the honest enthusiasm of the masses, the ray of hope in the
eyes of women and children who carried bread and water to
the ragged troops of the Convention, marching through the
city on their way to the front and a glorious death for the
French Fatherland.

The whole thing had filled the young Austrian with disgust.
It was uncivilised. If there were any fighting to be done it
must be done by dashing young men in lovely uniforms, charging
across the green fields on well-groomed horses. But to
turn an entire country into an evil-smelling armed camp where
tramps were overnight promoted to be generals, that was both
wicked and senseless. ``See what came of all your fine ideas,''
he would say to the French diplomats whom he met at a quiet
little dinner given by one of the innumerable Austrian grand-
dukes. ``You wanted liberty, equality and fraternity and you
got Napoleon. How much better it would have been if you
had been contented with the existing order of things.'' And
he would explain his system of ``stability.'' He would advocate
a return to the normalcy of the good old days before the
war, when everybody was happy and nobody talked nonsense
about ``everybody being as good as everybody else.'' In this
attitude he was entirely sincere and as he was an able man of
great strength of will and a tremendous power of persuasion,
he was one of the most dangerous enemies of the Revolutionary
ideas. He did not die until the year 1859, and he therefore
lived long enough to see the complete failure of all his policies
when they were swept aside by the revolution of the year 1848.
He then found himself the most hated man of Europe and
more than once ran the risk of being lynched by angry crowds
of outraged citizens. But until the very last, he remained steadfast
in his belief that he had done the right thing.

He had always been convinced that people preferred peace
to liberty and he had tried to give them what was best for them.
And in all fairness, it ought to be said that his efforts to
establish universal peace were fairly successful. The great powers
did not fly at each other's throat for almost forty years, indeed
not until the Crimean war between Russia and England,
France and Italy and Turkey, in the year 1854. That means
a record for the European continent.

The third hero of this waltzing congress was the Emperor
Alexander. He had been brought up at the court of his grand-
mother, the famous Catherine the Great. Between the lessons
of this shrewd old woman, who taught him to regard the glory
of Russia as the most important thing in life, and those of his
private tutor, a Swiss admirer of Voltaire and Rousseau, who
filled his mind with a general love of humanity, the boy grew
up to be a strange mixture of a selfish tyrant and a sentimental
revolutionist. He had suffered great indignities during the
life of his crazy father, Paul I. He had been obliged to wit-
ness the wholesale slaughter of the Napoleonic battle-fields.
Then the tide had turned. His armies had won the day for the
Allies. Russia had become the saviour of Europe and the Tsar
of this mighty people was acclaimed as a half-god who would
cure the world of its many ills.

But Alexander was not very clever. He did not know
men and women as Talleyrand and Metternich knew them.
He did not understand the strange game of diplomacy. He
was vain (who would not be under the circumstances?) and
loved to hear the applause of the multitude and soon he had
become the main ``attraction'' of the Congress while Metternich
and Talleyrand and Castlereagh (the very able British
representative) sat around a table and drank a bottle of Tokay
and decided what was actually going to be done. They needed
Russia and therefore they were very polite to Alexander, but
the less he had personally to do with the actual work of the
Congress, the better they were pleased. They even encouraged
his plans for a Holy Alliance that he might be fully occupied
while they were engaged upon the work at hand.

Alexander was a sociable person who liked to go to parties
and meet people. Upon such occasions he was happy and gay
but there was a very different element in his character. He
tried to forget something which he could not forget. On the
night of the 23rd of March of the year 1801 he had been sitting
in a room of the St. Michael Palace in Petersburg, waiting for
the news of his father's abdication. But Paul had refused to
sign the document which the drunken officers had placed before
him on the table, and in their rage they had put a scarf
around his neck and had strangled him to death. Then they
had gone downstairs to tell Alexander that he was Emperor of
all the Russian lands.

The memory of this terrible night stayed with the Tsar
who was a very sensitive person. He had been educated in
the school of the great French philosophers who did not believe
in God but in Human Reason. But Reason alone could
not satisfy the Emperor in his predicament. He began to
hear voices and see things. He tried to find a way by which
he could square himself with his conscience. He became very
pious and began to take an interest in mysticism, that strange
love of the mysterious and the unknown which is as old as the
temples of Thebes and Babylon.

The tremendous emotion of the great revolutionary era
had influenced the character of the people of that day in a
strange way. Men and women who had lived through twenty
years of anxiety and fear were no longer quite normal. They
jumped whenever the door-bell rang. It might mean the news
of the ``death on the field of honour'' of an only son. The
phrases about ``brotherly love'' and ``liberty'' of the Revolution
were hollow words in the ears of sorely stricken peasants.
They clung to anything that might give them a new hold on
the terrible problems of life. In their grief and misery they
were easily imposed upon by a large number of imposters
who posed as prophets and preached a strange new doctrine
which they dug out of the more obscure passages of the Book
of Revelations.

In the year 1814, Alexander, who had already consulted a
large number of wonder-doctors, heard of a new seeress who
was foretelling the coming doom of the world and was exhorting
people to repent ere it be too late. The Baroness von
Krudener, the lady in question, was a Russian woman of uncertain
age and similar reputation who had been the wife of a
Russian diplomat in the days of the Emperor Paul. She had
squandered her husband's money and had disgraced him by
her strange love affairs. She had lived a very dissolute life
until her nerves had given way and for a while she was not in
her right mind. Then she had been converted by the sight of
the sudden death of a friend. Thereafter she despised all
gaiety. She confessed her former sins to her shoemaker, a
pious Moravian brother, a follower of the old reformer John
Huss, who had been burned for his heresies by the Council of
Constance in the year 1415.

The next ten years the Baroness spent in Germany making
a specialty of the ``conversion'' of kings and princes. To convince
Alexander, the Saviour of Europe, of the error of his
ways was the greatest ambition of her life. And as Alexander,
in his misery, was willing to listen to anybody who brought him
a ray of hope, the interview was easily arranged. On the evening
of the fourth of June of the year 1815, she was admitted
to the tent of the Emperor. She found him reading his Bible.
We do not know what she said to Alexander, but when she
left him three hours later, he was bathed in tears, and vowed
that ``at last his soul had found peace.'' From that day on the
Baroness was his faithful companion and his spiritual adviser.
She followed him to Paris and then to Vienna and the time
which Alexander did not spend dancing he spent at the
Krudener prayer-meetings.

You may ask why I tell you this story in such great detail?
Are not the social changes of the nineteenth century of greater
importance than the career of an ill-balanced woman who had
better be forgotten? Of course they are, but there exist any
number of books which will tell you of these other things with
great accuracy and in great detail. I want you to learn something
more from this history than a mere succession of facts.
I want you to approach all historical events in a frame of mind
that will take nothing for granted. Don't be satisfied with
the mere statement that ``such and such a thing happened then
and there.'' Try to discover the hidden motives behind every
action and then you will understand the world around you
much better and you will have a greater chance to help others,
which (when all is said and done) is the only truly satisfactory
way of living.

I do not want you to think of the Holy Alliance as a piece
of paper which was signed in the year 1815 and lies dead and
forgotten somewhere in the archives of state. It may be forgotten
but it is by no means dead. The Holy Alliance was
directly responsible for the promulgation of the Monroe
Doctrine, and the Monroe Doctrine of America for the Americans
has a very distinct bearing upon your own life. That is
the reason why I want you to know exactly how this document
happened to come into existence and what the real motives were
underlying this outward manifestation of piety and Christian
devotion to duty.

The Holy Alliance was the joint labour of an unfortunate
man who had suffered a terrible mental shock and who was
trying to pacify his much-disturbed soul, and of an ambitious
woman who after a wasted life had lost her beauty and her
attraction and who satisfied her vanity and her desire for
notoriety by assuming the role of self-appointed Messiah of a
new and strange creed. I am not giving away any secrets
when I tell you these details. Such sober minded people as
Castlereagh, Metternich and Talleyrand fully understood
the limited abilities of the sentimental Baroness. It would have
been easy for Metternich to send her back to her German
estates. A few lines to the almighty commander of the imperial
police and the thing was done.

But France and England and Austria depended upon the
good-will of Russia. They could not afford to offend Alexander.
And they tolerated the silly old Baroness because they
had to. And while they regarded the Holy Alliance as utter
rubbish and not worth the paper upon which it was written,
they listened patiently to the Tsar when he read them the first
rough draft of this attempt to create the Brotherhood of Men
upon a basis of the Holy Scriptures. For this is what the
Holy Alliance tried to do, and the signers of the document
solemnly declared that they would ``in the administration of
their respective states and in their political relations with every
other government take for their sole guide the precepts of that
Holy Religion, namely the precepts of Justice, Christian
Charity and Peace, which far from being applicable only to
private concerns must have an immediate influence on the
councils of princes, and must guide all their steps as being the
only means of consolidating human institutions and remedying
their imperfections.'' They then proceeded to promise each
other that they would remain united ``by the bonds of a true
and indissoluble fraternity, and considering each other as
fellow-countrymen, they would on all occasions and in all places
lend each other aid and assistance.'' And more words to the
same effect.

Eventually the Holy Alliance was signed by the Emperor
of Austria, who did not understand a word of it. It was signed
by the Bourbons who needed the friendship of Napoleon's old
enemies. It was signed by the King of Prussia, who hoped to
gain Alexander for his plans for a ``greater Prussia,'' and by
all the little nations of Europe who were at the mercy of Russia.
England never signed, because Castlereagh thought the
whole thing buncombe. The Pope did not sign because he
resented this interference in his business by a Greek-Orthodox
and a Protestant. And the Sultan did not sign because he
never heard of it.

The general mass of the European people, however, soon
were forced to take notice. Behind the hollow phrases of the
Holy Alliance stood the armies of the Quintuple Alliance
which Metternich had created among the great powers. These
armies meant business. They let it be known that the peace
of Europe must not be disturbed by the so-called liberals who
were in reality nothing but disguised Jacobins, and hoped for
a return of the revolutionary days. The enthusiasm for the
great wars of liberation of the years 1812, 1818, 1814 and
1815 had begun to wear off. It had been followed by a sincere
belief in the coming of a happier day. The soldiers who had
borne the brunt of the battle wanted peace and they said so.

But they did not want the sort of peace which the Holy
Alliance and the Council of the European powers had now
bestowed upon them. They cried that they had been betrayed.
But they were careful lest they be heard by a secret-police spy.
The reaction was victorious. It was a reaction caused by men
who sincerely believed that their methods were necessary for
the good of humanity. But it was just as hard to bear as if
their intentions had been less kind. And it caused a great deal
of unnecessary suffering and greatly retarded the orderly
progress of political development.



To undo the damage done by the great Napoleonic flood
was almost impossible. Age-old fences had been washed away.
The palaces of two score dynasties had been damaged to such
an extent that they had to be condemned as uninhabitable.
Other royal residences had been greatly enlarged at the expense
of less fortunate neighbours. Strange odds and ends
of revolutionary doctrine had been left behind by the receding
waters and could not be dislodged without danger to the entire
community. But the political engineers of the Congress did
the best they could and this is what they accomplished.

France had disturbed the peace of the world for so many
years that people had come to fear that country almost
instinctively. The Bourbons, through the mouth of Talleyrand,
had promised to be good, but the Hundred Days had taught
Europe what to expect should Napoleon manage to escape for
a second time. The Dutch Republic, therefore, was changed
into a Kingdom, and Belgium (which had not joined the Dutch
struggle for independence in the sixteenth century and since
then had been part of the Habsburg domains, firs t under Spanish
rule and thereafter under Austrian rule) was made part
of this new kingdom of the Netherlands. Nobody wanted this
union either in the Protestant North or in the Catholic South,
but no questions were asked. It seemed good for the peace
of Europe and that was the main consideration.

Poland had hoped for great things because a Pole, Prince
Adam Czartoryski, was one of the most intimate friends of
Tsar Alexander and had been his constant advisor during the
war and at the Congress of Vienna. But Poland was made a
semi-independent part of Russia with Alexander as her king.
This solution pleased no one and caused much bitter feeling
and three revolutions.

Denmark, which had remained a faithful ally of Napoleon
until the end, was severely punished. Seven years before, an
English fleet had sailed down the Kattegat and without a
declaration of war or any warning had bombarded Copenhagen
and had taken away the Danish fleet, lest it be of value to
Napoleon. The Congress of Vienna went one step further.
It took Norway (which since the union of Calmar of the year
1397 had been united with Denmark) away from Denmark
and gave it to Charles XIV of Sweden as a reward for his betrayal
of Napoleon, who had set him up in the king business.
This Swedish king, curiously enough, was a former French general
by the name of Bernadotte, who had come to Sweden as one
of Napolean's{sic} adjutants, and had been invited to the throne of
that good country when the last of the rulers of the house of
Hollstein-Gottorp had died without leaving either son or
daughter. From 1815 until 1844 he ruled his adopted country
(the language of which he never learned) width great ability. He
was a clever man and enjoyed the respect of both his Swedish
and his Norwegian subjects, but he did not succeed in joining
two countries which nature and history had put asunder. The
dual Scandinavian state was never a success and in 1905,
Norway, in a most peaceful and orderly manner, set up as an
independent kingdom and the Swedes bade her ``good speed''
and very wisely let her go her own way.

The Italians, who since the days of the Renaissance had
been at the mercy of a long series of invaders, also had put
great hopes in General Bonaparte. The Emperor Napoleon,
however, had grievously disappointed them. Instead of the
United Italy which the people wanted, they had been divided
into a number of little principalities, duchies, republics and
the Papal State, which (next to Naples) was the worst governed
and most miserable region of the entire peninsula. The
Congress of Vienna abolished a few of the Napoleonic republics
and in their place resurrected several old principalities
which were given to deserving members, both male and female,
of the Habsburg family.

The poor Spaniards, who had started the great nationalistic
revolt against Napoleon, and who had sacrificed the best blood
of the country for their king, were punished severely when the
Congress allowed His Majesty to return to his domains. This
vicious creature, known as Ferdinand VII, had spent the last
four years of his life as a prisoner of Napoleon. He had improved
his days by knitting garments for the statues of his
favourite patron saints. He celebrated his return by re-introducing
the Inquisition and the torture-chamber, both of which
had been abolished by the Revolution. He was a disgusting
person, despised as much by his subjects as by his four wives,
but the Holy Alliance maintained him upon his legitimate
throne and all efforts of the decent Spaniards to get rid of this
curse and make Spain a constitutional kingdom ended in
bloodshed and executions.

Portugal had been without a king since the year 1807 when
the royal family had fled to the colonies in Brazil. The country
had been used as a base of supply for the armies of
Wellington during the Peninsula war, which lasted from 1808
until 1814. After 1815 Portugal continued to be a sort of
British province until the house of Braganza returned to the
throne, leaving one of its members behind in Rio de Janeiro
as Emperor of Brazil, the only American Empire which lasted
for more than a few years, and which came to an end in 1889
when the country became a republic.

In the east, nothing was done to improve the terrible conditions
of both the Slavs and the Greeks who were still subjects
of the Sultan. In the year 1804 Black George, a Servian
swineherd, (the founder of the Karageorgevich dynasty) had
started a revolt against the Turks, but he had been defeated
by his enemies and had been murdered by one of his supposed
friends, the rival Servian leader, called Milosh Obrenovich,
(who became the founder of the Obrenovich dynasty) and the
Turks had continued to be the undisputed masters of the

The Greeks, who since the loss of their independence, two
thousand years before, had been subjects of the Macedonians,
the Romans, the Venetians and the Turks, had hoped that their
countryman, Capo d'Istria, a native of Corfu and together
with Czartoryski, the most intimate personal friends of
Alexander, would do something for them. But the Congress
of Vienna was not interested in Greeks, but was very much
interested in keeping all ``legitimate'' monarchs, Christian,
Moslem and otherwise, upon their respective thrones. Therefore
nothing was done.

The last, but perhaps the greatest blunder of the Congress
was the treatment of Germany. The Reformation and the
Thirty Years War had not only destroyed the prosperity of the
country, but had turned it into a hopeless political rubbish
heap, consisting of a couple of kingdoms, a few grand-duchies,
a large number of duchies and hundreds of margravates, principalities,
baronies, electorates, free cities and free villages,
ruled by the strangest assortment of potentates that was ever
seen off the comic opera stage. Frederick the Great had
changed this when he created a strong Prussia, but this state
had not survived him by many years.

Napoleon had blue-penciled the demand for independence
of most of these little countries, and only fifty-two out of a
total of more than three hundred had survived the year 1806.
During the years of the great struggle for independence, many
a young soldier had dreamed of a new Fatherland that should
be strong and united. But there can be no union without a
strong leadership, and who was to be this leader?

There were five kingdoms in the German speaking lands.
The rulers of two of these, Austria and Prussia, were kings by
the Grace of God. The rulers of three others, Bavaria, Saxony
and Wurtemberg, were kings by the Grace of Napoleon, and
as they had been the faithful henchmen of the Emperor, their
patriotic credit with the other Germans was therefore not very

The Congress had established a new German Confederation,
a league of thirty-eight sovereign states, under the chairmanship
of the King of Austria, who was now known as the
Emperor of Austria. It was the sort of make-shift arrangement
which satisfied no one. It is true that a German Diet,
which met in the old coronation city of Frankfort. had been
created to discuss matters of ``common policy and importance.''
But in this Diet, thirty-eight delegates represented thirty-eight
different interests and as no decision could be taken without a
unanimous vote (a parliamentary rule which had in previous
centuries ruined the mighty kingdom of Poland), the famous
German Confederation became very soon the laughing stock
of Europe and the politics of the old Empire began to resemble
those of our Central American neighbours in the forties and
the fifties of the last century.

It was terribly humiliating to the people who had sacrificed
everything for a national ideal. But the Congress was not
interested in the private feelings of ``subjects,'' and the debate
was closed.

Did anybody object? Most assuredly. As soon as the first
feeling of hatred against Napoleon had quieted down--as soon
as the enthusiasm of the great war had subsided--as soon as
the people came to a full realisation of the crime that had been
committed in the name of ``peace and stability'' they began to
murmur. They even made threats of open revolt. But what
could they do? They were powerless. They were at the mercy
of the most pitiless and efficient police system the world had
ever seen.

The members of the Congress of Vienna honestly and sincerely
believed that ``the Revolutionary Principle had led to
the criminal usurpation of the throne by the former emperor
Napoleon.'' They felt that they were called upon to eradicate
the adherents of the so-called ``French ideas'' just as Philip II
had only followed the voice of his conscience when he burned
Protestants or hanged Moors. In the beginning of the sixteenth
century a man who did not believe in the divine right
of the Pope to rule his subjects as he saw fit was a ``heretic''
and it was the duty of all loyal citizens to kill him. In the
beginning of the nineteenth century, on the continent of Europe,
a man who did not believe in the divine right of his king to
rule him as he or his Prime Minister saw fit, was a ``heretic,'' and
it was the duty of all loyal citizens to denounce him to the nearest
policeman and see that he got punished.

But the rulers of the year 1815 had learned efficiency in
the school of Napoleon and they performed their task much
better than it had been done in the year 1517. The period
between the year 1815 and the year 1860 was the great era of
the political spy. Spies were everywhere. They lived in palaces
and they were to be found in the lowest gin-shops. They
peeped through the key-holes of the ministerial cabinet and
they listened to the conversations of the people who were taking
the air on the benches of the Municipal Park. They guarded
the frontier so that no one might leave without a duly viseed
passport and they inspected all packages, that no books with
dangerous ``French ideas'' should enter the realm of their
Royal masters. They sat among the students in the lecture
hall and woe to the Professor who uttered a word against the
existing order of things. They followed the little boys and
girls on their way to church lest they play hookey.

In many of these tasks they were assisted by the clergy.
The church had suffered greatly during the days of the
revolution. The church property had been confiscated. Several
priests had been killed and the generation that had learned its
cathechism from Voltaire and Rousseau and the other French
philosophers had danced around the Altar of Reason when
the Committee of Public Safety had abolished the worship of
God in October of the year 1793. The priests had followed the
``emigres'' into their long exile. Now they returned in the
wake of the allied armies and they set to work with a vengeance.

Even the Jesuits came back in 1814 and resumed their
former labours of educating the young. Their order had been
a little too successful in its fight against the enemies of the
church. It had established ``provinces'' in every part of the
world, to teach the natives the blessings of Christianity, but
soon it had developed into a regular trading company which
was for ever interfering with the civil authorities. During the
reign of the Marquis de Pombal, the great reforming minister
of Portugal, they had been driven out of the Portuguese lands
and in the year 1773 at the request of most of the Catholic
powers of Europe, the order had been suppressed by Pope
Clement XIV. Now they were back on the job, and preached
the principles of ``obedience'' and ``love for the legitimate
dynasty'' to children whose parents had hired shopwindows that
they might laugh at Marie Antoinette driving to the scaffold
which was to end her misery.

But in the Protestant countries like Prussia, things were
not a whit better. The great patriotic leaders of the year 1812,
the poets and the writers who had preached a holy war upon the
usurper, were now branded as dangerous ``demagogues.'' Their
houses were searched. Their letters were read. They were
obliged to report to the police at regular intervals and give an
account of themselves. The Prussian drill master was let loose
in all his fury upon the younger generation. When a party of
students celebrated the tercentenary of the Reformation with
noisy but harmless festivities on the old Wartburg, the Prussian
bureaucrats had visions of an imminent revolution. When
a theological student, more honest than intelligent, killed a
Russian government spy who was operating in Germany, the
universities were placed under police-supervision and professors
were jailed or dismissed without any form of trial.

Russia, of course, was even more absurd in these anti-
revolutionary activities. Alexander had recovered from his attack
of piety. He was gradually drifting toward melancholia. He
well knew his own limited abilities and understood how at
Vienna he had been the victim both of Metternich and the
Krudener woman. More and more he turned his back upon the
west and became a truly Russian ruler whose interests lay in
Constantinople, the old holy city that had been the first teacher
of the Slavs. The older he grew, the harder he worked and the
less he was able to accomplish. And while he sat in his study,
his ministers turned the whole of Russia into a land of military

It is not a pretty picture. Perhaps I might have shortened
this description of the Great Reaction. But it is just as well
that you should have a thorough knowledge of this era. It was
not the first time that an attempt had been made to set the
clock of history back. The result was the usual one.



IT will serve no good purpose to say ``if only the Congress
of Vienna had done such and such a thing instead of taking
such and such a course, the history of Europe in the nineteenth
century would have been different.'' The Congress of Vienna
was a gathering of men who had just passed through a great
revolution and through twenty years of terrible and almost
continuous warfare. They came together for the purpose of
giving Europe that ``peace and stability'' which they thought
that the people needed and wanted. They were what we call
reactionaries. They sincerely believed in the inability of the
mass of the people to rule themselves. They re-arranged the
map of Europe in such a way as seemed to promise the greatest
possibility of a lasting success. They failed, but not through
any premeditated wickedness on their part. They were, for the
greater part, men of the old school who remembered the happier
days of their quiet youth and ardently wished a return of that
blessed period. They failed to recognise the strong hold which
many of the revolutionary principles had gained upon the people
of the European continent. That was a misfortune but
hardly a sin. But one of the things which the French Revolution
had taught not only Europe but America as well, was the
right of people to their own ``nationality.''

Napoleon, who respected nothing and nobody, was utterly
ruthless in his dealing with national and patriotic aspirations.
But the early revolutionary generals had proclaimed the new
doctrine that ``nationality was not a matter of political
frontiers or round skulls and broad noses, but a matter of the
heart and soul.'' While they were teaching the French children
the greatness of the French nation, they encouraged Spaniards
and Hollanders and Italians to do the same thing. Soon
these people, who all shared Rousseau's belief in the superior
virtues of Original Man, began to dig into their past and found,
buried beneath the ruins of the feudal system, the bones of the
mighty races of which they supposed themselves the feeble

The first half of the nineteenth century was the era of the
great historical discoveries. Everywhere historians were busy
publishing mediaeval charters and early mediaeval chronicles
and in every country the result was a new pride in the old
fatherland. A great deal of this sentiment was based upon the
wrong interpretation of historical facts. But in practical politics,
it does not matter what is true, but everything depends
upon what the people believe to be true. And in most countries
both the kings and their subjects firmly believed in the glory
and fame of their ancestors.

The Congress of Vienna was not inclined to be sentimental.
Their Excellencies divided the map of Europe according to the
best interests of half a dozen dynasties and put ``national
aspirations'' upon the Index, or list of forbidden books, together
with all other dangerous ``French doctrines.''

But history is no respecter of Congresses. For some reason
or other (it may be an historical law, which thus far has
escaped the attention of the scholars) ``nations'' seemed to be
necessary for the orderly development of human society and
the attempt to stem this tide was quite as unsuccessful as the
Metternichian effort to prevent people from thinking.

Curiously enough the first trouble began in a very distant
part of the world, in South America. The Spanish colonies
of that continent had been enjoying a period of relative independence
during the many years of the great Napoleonic wars.
They had even remained faithful to their king when he was
taken prisoner by the French Emperor and they had refused
to recognise Joseph Bonaparte, who had in the year 1808 been
made King of Spain by order of his brother.

Indeed, the only part of America to get very much upset
by the Revolution was the island of Haiti, the Espagnola of
Columbus' first trip. Here in the year 1791 the French Convention,
in a sudden outburst of love and human brotherhood,
had bestowed upon their black brethren all the privileges hitherto
enjoyed by their white masters. Just as suddenly they had
repented of this step, but the attempt to undo the original
promise led to many years of terrible warfare between General
Leclerc, the brother-in-law of Napoleon, and Toussaint l'Ouverture,
the negro chieftain. In the year 1801, Toussaint was
asked to visit Leclerc and discuss terms of peace. He received
the solemn promise that he would not be molested. He trusted
his white adversaries, was put on board a ship and shortly
afterwards died in a French prison. But the negroes gained
their independence all the same and founded a Republic.
Incidentally they were of great help to the first great South
American patriot in his efforts to deliver his native country
from the Spanish yoke.

Simon Bolivar, a native of Caracas in Venezuela, born in
the year 1783, had been educated in Spain, had visited Paris
where he had seen the Revolutionary government at work, had
lived for a while in the United States and had returned to his
native land where the widespread discontent against Spain,
the mother country, was beginning to take a definite form.
In the year 1811, Venezuela declared its independence and
Bolivar became one of the revolutionary generals. Within
two months, the rebels were defeated and Bolivar fled.

For the next five years he was the leader of an apparently
lost cause. He sacrificed all his wealth and he would not have
been able to begin his final and successful expedition without
the support of the President of Haiti. Thereafter the revolt
spread all over South America and soon it appeared that Spain
was not able to suppress the rebellion unaided. She asked for
the support of the Holy Alliance.

This step greatly worried England. The British shippers
had succeeded the Dutch as the Common Carriers of the world
and they expected to reap heavy profits from a declaration of
independence on the part of all South America. They had
hopes that the United States oś America would interfere but
the Senate had no such plans and in the House, too, there were
many voices which declared that Spain ought to be given a
free hand.

Just then, there was a change of ministers in England.
The Whigs went out and the Tories came in. George Canning
became secretary of State. He dropped a hint that England
would gladly back up the American government with all the
might of her fleet, if said government would declare its
disapproval of the plans of the Holy Alliance in regard to the
rebellious colonies of the southern continent. President Monroe
thereupon, on the 2nd of December of the year 1823, addressed
Congress and stated that: ``America would consider
any attempt on the part of the allied powers to extend their
system to any portion of this western hemisphere as dangerous
to our peace and safety,'' and gave warning that ``the American
government would consider such action on the part of the
Holy Alliance as a manifestation of an unfriendly disposition
toward the United States.'' Four weeks later, the text of the
``Monroe Doctrine'' was printed in the English newspapers and
the members of the Holy Alliance were forced to make their

Metternich hesitated. Personally he would have been willing
to risk the displeasure of the United States (which had
allowed both its army and navy to fall into neglect since the end
of the Anglo-American war of the year 1812.) But Canning's
threatening attitude and trouble on the continent forced him
to be careful. The expedition never took place and South
America and Mexico gained their independence.

As for the troubles on the continent of Europe, they were
coming fast and furious. The Holy Alliance had sent French
troops to Spain to act as guardians of the peace in the year
1820. Austrian troops had been used for a similar purpose in
Italy when the ``Carbonari'' (the secret society of the Charcoal
Burners) were making propaganda for a united Italy and had
caused a rebellion against the unspeakable Ferdinand of

Bad news also came from Russia where the death of Alexander
had been the sign for a revolutionary outbreak in St.
Petersburg, a short but bloody upheaval, the so-called Dekaberist
revolt (because it took place in December,) which ended
with the hanging of a large number of good patriots who had
been disgusted by the reaction of Alexander's last years and
had tried to give Russia a constitutional form of government.

But worse was to follow. Metternich had tried to assure
himself of the continued support of the European courts by a
series of conferences at Aix-la-Chapelle at Troppau at
Laibach and finally at Verona. The delegates from the
different powers duly travelled to these agreeable watering
places where the Austrian prime minister used to spend
his summers. They always promised to do their best
to suppress revolt but they were none too certain of their
success. The spirit of the people was beginning to be ugly and
especially in France the position of the king was by no means

The real trouble however began in the Balkans, the gateway
to western Europe through which the invaders of that
continent had passed since the beginning of time. The first
outbreak was in Moldavia, the ancient Roman province of
Dacia which had been cut off from the Empire in the third
century. Since then, it had been a lost land, a sort of Atlantis,
where the people had continued to speak the old Roman tongue
and still called themselves Romans and their country Roumania.
Here in the year 1821, a young Greek, Prince Alexander
Ypsilanti, began a revolt against the Turks. He told his followers
that they could count upon the support of Russia. But
Metternich's fast couriers were soon on their way to St Petersburg
and the Tsar, entirely persuaded by the Austrian arguments
in favor of ``peace and stability,'' refused to help. Ypsilanti
was forced to flee to Austria where he spent the next seven
years in prison.

In the same year, 1821, trouble began in Greece. Since
1815 a secret society of Greek patriots had been preparing
the way for a revolt. Suddenly they hoisted the flag of
independence in the Morea (the ancient Peloponnesus) and drove
the Turkish garrisons away. The Turks answered in the usual
fashion. They took the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople,
who was regarded as their Pope both by the Greeks and by
many Russians, and they hanged him on Easter Sunday of the
year 1821, together with a number of his bishops. The Greeks
came back with a massacre of all the Mohammedans in
Tripolitsa, the capital of the Morea and the Turks retaliated
by an attack upon the island of Chios, where they murdered
25,000 Christians and sold 45,000 others as slaves into Asia and

Then the Greeks appealed to the European courts, but
Metternich told them in so many words that they could ``stew
in their own grease,'' (I am not trying to make a pun, but I
am quoting His Serene Highness who informed the Tsar that
this ``fire of revolt ought to burn itself out beyond the pale
of civilisation) and the frontiers were closed to those volunteers
who wished to go to the rescue of the patriotic Hellenes.
Their cause seemed lost. At the request of Turkey, an Egyptian
army was landed in the Morea and soon the Turkish flag
was again flying from the Acropolis, the ancient stronghold of
Athens. The Egyptian army then pacified the country ``a la
Turque,'' and Metternich followed the proceedings with quiet
interest, awaiting the day when this ``attempt against the peace
of Europe'' should be a thing of the past.

Once more it was England which upset his plans. The
greatest glory of England does not lie in her vast colonial
possessions, in her wealth or her navy, but in the quiet heroism
and independence of her average citizen. The Englishman
obeys the law because he knows that respect for the rights of
others marks the difference between a dog-kennel and civilised
society. But he does not recognize the right of others to interfere
with his freedom of thought. If his country does something
which he believes to be wrong, he gets up and says so
and the government which he attacks will respect him and will
give him full protection against the mob which to-day, as in
the time of Socrates, often loves to destroy those who surpass
it in courage or intelligence. There never has been a good
cause, however unpopular or however distant, which has not
counted a number of Englishmen among its staunchest adherents.
The mass of the English people are not different from
those in other lands. They stick to the business at hand and
have no time for unpractical ``sporting ventures.'' But they
rather admire their eccentric neighbour who drops everything
to go and fight for some obscure people in Asia or Africa and
when he has been killed they give him a fine public funeral and
hold him up to their children as an example of valor and chivalry.

Even the police spies of the Holy Alliance were powerless
against this national characteristic. In the year 1824, Lord
Byron, a rich young Englishman who wrote the poetry over
which all Europe wept, hoisted the sails of his yacht and started
south to help the Greeks. Three months later the news spread
through Europe that their hero lay dead in Missolonghi,
the last of the Greek strongholds. His lonely death
caught the imagination of the people. In all countries, societies
were formed to help the Greeks. Lafayette, the grand old
man of the American revolution, pleaded their cause in France.
The king of Bavaria sent hundreds of his officers. Money and
supplies poured in upon the starving men of Missolonghi.

In England, George Canning, who had defeated the plans
of the Holy Alliance in South America, was now prime minis-
ter. He saw his chance to checkmate Metternich for a second
time. The English and Russian fleets were already in the
Mediterranean. They were sent by governments which dared
no longer suppress the popular enthusiasm for the cause of the
Greek patriots. The French navy appeared because France,
since the end of the Crusades, had assumed the role of the
defender of the Christian faith in Mohammedan lands. On October
20 of the year 1827, the ships of the three nations attacked
the Turkish fleet in the bay of Navarino and destroyed it.
Rarely has the news of a battle been received with such general
rejoicing. The people of western Europe and Russia who
enjoyed no freedom at home consoled themselves by fighting
an imaginary war of liberty on behalf of the oppressed Greeks.
In the year 1829 they had their reward. Greece became an
independent nation and the policy of reaction and stability
suffered its second great defeat.

It would be absurd were I to try, in this short volume, to
give you a detailed account of the struggle for national
independence in all other countries. There are a large number of
excellent books devoted to such subjects. I have described the
struggle for the independence of Greece because it was the first
successful attack upon the bulwark of reaction which the Congress
of Vienna had erected to ``maintain the stability of Europe.''
That mighty fortress of suppression still held out and
Metternich continued to be in command. But the end was

In France the Bourbons had established an almost unbearable
rule of police officials who were trying to undo the work
of the French revolution, with an absolute disregard of the
regulations and laws of civilised warfare. When Louis
XVIII died in the year 1824, the people had enjoyed nine
years of ``peace'' which had proved even more unhappy than
the ten years of war of the Empire. Louis was succeeded by
his brother, Charles X.

Louis had belonged to that famous Bourbon family which,
although it never learned anything, never forgot anything.
The recollection of that morning in the town of Hamm, when
news had reached him of the decapitation of his brother,
remained a constant warning of what might happen to those
kings who did not read the signs of the times aright. Charles,
on the other hand, who had managed to run up private debts of
fifty million francs before he was twenty years of age, knew
nothing, remembered nothing and firmly intended to learn
nothing. As soon as he had succeeded his brother, he established
a government ``by priests, through priests and for
priests,'' and while the Duke of Wellington, who made this remark,
cannot be called a violent liberal, Charles ruled in such
a way that he disgusted even that trusted friend of law and
order. When he tried to suppress the newspapers which dared
to criticise his government, and dismissed the Parliament because
it supported the Press, his days were numbered.

On the night of the 27th of July of the year 1830, a revolution
took place in Paris. On the 30th of the same month, the
king fled to the coast and set sail for England. In this way
the ``famous farce of fifteen years'' came to an end and the
Bourbons were at last removed from the throne of France.
They were too hopelessly incompetent. France then might
have returned to a Republican form of government, but such
a step would not have been tolerated by Metternich.

The situation was dangerous enough. The spark of rebellion
had leaped beyond the French frontier and had set fire to
another powder house filled with national grievances. The new
kingdom of the Netherlands had not been a success. The Belgian
and the Dutch people had nothing in common and their
king, William of Orange (the descendant of an uncle of William
the Silent), while a hard worker and a good business man,
was too much lacking in tact and pliability to keep the peace
among his uncongenial subjects. Besides, the horde of priests
which had descended upon France, had at once found its way
into Belgium and whatever Protestant William tried to do was
howled down by large crowds of excited citizens as a fresh attempt
upon the ``freedom of the Catholic church.'' On the 25th
of August there was a popular outbreak against the Dutch
authorities in Brussels. Two months later, the Belgians
declared themselves independent and elected Leopold of Coburg,
the uncle of Queen Victoria of England, to the throne.
That was an excellent solution of the difficulty. The two
countries, which never ought to have been united, parted their
ways and thereafter lived in peace and harmony and behaved
like decent neighbours.

News in those days when there were only a few short railroads,
travelled slowly, but when the success of the French
and the Belgian revolutionists became known in Poland there
was an immediate clash between the Poles and their Russian
rulers which led to a year of terrible warfare and ended with a
complete victory for the Russians who ``established order along
the banks of the Vistula'' in the well-known Russian fashion
Nicholas the first, who had succeeded his brother Alexander in
1825, firmly believed in the Divine Right of his own family,
and the thousands of Polish refugees who had found shelter
in western Europe bore witness to the fact that the principles
of the Holy Alliance were still more than a hollow phrase in
Holy Russia.

In Italy too there was a moment of unrest. Marie Louise
Duchess of Parma and wife of the former Emperor Napoleon,
whom she had deserted after the defeat of Waterloo, was
driven away from her country, and in the Papal state the
exasperated people tried to establish an independent Republic.
But the armies of Austria marched to Rome and soon every
thing was as of old. Metternich continued to reside at the Ball
Platz, the home of the foreign minister of the Habsburg
dynasty, the police spies returned to their job, and peace
reigned supreme. Eighteen more years were to pass before a
second and more successful attempt could be made to deliver
Europe from the terrible inheritance of the Vienna Congress.

Again it was France, the revolutionary weather-cock of
Europe, which gave the signal of revolt. Charles X had been
succeeded by Louis Philippe, the son of that famous Duke of
Orleans who had turned Jacobin, had voted for the death of his
cousin the king, and had played a role during the early days
of the revolution under the name of ``Philippe Egalite'' or
``Equality Philip.'' Eventually he had been killed when
Robespierre tried to purge the nation of all ``traitors,'' (by
which name he indicated those people who did not share his own
views) and his son had been forced to run away from the
revolutionary army. Young Louis Philippe thereupon had
wandered far and wide. He had taught school in Switzerland
and had spent a couple of years exploring the unknown ``far
west'' of America. After the fall of Napoleon he had returned
to Paris. He was much more intelligent than his Bourbon
cousins. He was a simple man who went about in the public
parks with a red cotton umbrella under his arm, followed by a
brood of children like any good housefather. But France had
outgrown the king business and Louis did not know this until
the morning of the 24th of February, of the year 1848, when
a crowd stormed the Tuilleries and drove his Majesty away and
proclaimed the Republic.

When the news of this event reached Vienna, Metternich
expressed the casual opinion that this was only a repetition
of the year 1793 and that the Allies would once more be obliged
to march upon Paris and make an end to this very unseemly
democratic row. But two weeks later his own Austrian capital
was in open revolt. Metternich escaped from the mob through
the back door of his palace, and the Emperor Ferdinand was
forced to give his subjects a constitution which embodied most
of the revolutionary principles which his Prime Minister had
tried to suppress for the last thirty-three years.

This time all Europe felt the shock. Hungary declared itself
independent, and commenced a war against the Habsburgs
under the leadership of Louis Kossuth. The unequal
struggle lasted more than a year. It was finally suppressed by
the armies of Tsar Nicholas who marched across the Carpathian
mountains and made Hungary once more safe for autocracy.
The Habsburgs thereupon established extraordinary
court-martials and hanged the greater part of the Hungarian
patriots whom they had not been able to defeat in open battle.

As for Italy, the island of Sicily declared itself independent
from Naples and drove its Bourbon king away. In the Papal
states the prime minister, Rossi, was murdered and the Pope
was forced to flee. He returned the next year at the head of a
French army which remained in Rome to protect His Holiness
against his subjects until the year 1870. Then it was
called back to defend France against the Prussians, and
Rome became the capital of Italy. In the north, Milan and
Venice rose against their Austrian masters. They were supported
by king Albert of Sardinia, but a strong Austrian army
under old Radetzky marched into the valley of the Po, defeated
the Sardinians near Custozza and Novara and forced
Albert to abdicate in favour of his son, Victor Emanuel, who
a few years later was to be the first king of a united Italy.

In Germany the unrest of the year 1848 took the form of a
great national demonstration in favour of political unity and a
representative form of government. In Bavaria, the king who
had wasted his time and money upon an Irish lady who posed as
a Spanish dancer--(she was called Lola Montez and lies buried
in New York's Potter's Field)--was driven away by the enraged
students of the university. In Prussia, the king was
forced to stand with uncovered head before the coffins of those
who had been killed during the street fighting and to promise a
constitutional form of government. And in March of the year
1849, a German parliament, consisting of 550 delegates from
all parts of the country came together in Frankfort and proposed
that king Frederick William of Prussia should be the
Emperor of a United Germany.

Then, however, the tide began to turn. Incompetent Ferdinand
had abdicated in favour of his nephew Francis Joseph.
The well-drilled Austrian army had remained faithful to their
war-lord. The hangman was given plenty of work and the
Habsburgs, after the nature of that strangely cat-like family,
once more landed upon their feet and rapidly strengthened
their position as the masters of eastern and western Europe.
They played the game of politics very adroitly and used the
jealousies of the other German states to prevent the elevation
of the Prussian king to the Imperial dignity. Their long train-
ing in the art of suffering defeat had taught them the value of
patience. They knew how to wait. They bided their time
and while the liberals, utterly untrained in practical politics,
talked and talked and talked and got intoxicated by their own
fine speeches, the Austrians quietly gathered their forces, dismissed
the Parliament of Frankfort and re-established the old
and impossible German confederation which the Congress of
Vienna had wished upon an unsuspecting world.

But among the men who had attended this strange Parliament
of unpractical enthusiasts, there was a Prussian country
squire by the name of Bismarck, who had made good use of his
eyes and ears. He had a deep contempt for oratory. He knew
(what every man of action has always known) that nothing
is ever accomplished by talk. In his own way he was a sincere
patriot. He had been trained in the old school of diplomacy
and he could outlie his opponents just as he could outwalk
them and outdrink them and outride them.

Bismarck felt convinced that the loose confederation
of little states must be changed into a strong united country
if it would hold its own against the other European powers.
Brought up amidst feudal ideas of loyalty, he decided that
the house of Hohenzollern, of which he was the most faithful
servant, should rule the new state, rather than the incompetent
Habsburgs. For this purpose he must first get rid of the
Austrian influence, and he began to make the necessary
preparations for this painful operation.

Italy in the meantime had solved her own problem, and had
rid herself of her hated Austrian master. The unity of Italy
was the work of three men, Cavour, Mazzini and Garibaldi.
Of these three, Cavour, the civil-engineer with the short-sighted
eyes and the steel-rimmed glasses, played the part of the careful
political pilot. Mazzini, who had spent most of his days
in different European garrets, hiding from the Austrian police,
was the public agitator, while Garibaldi, with his band of red-
shirted rough-riders, appealed to the popular imagination.

Mazzini and Garibaldi were both believers in the Republican
form of government. Cavour, however, was a monarch-
ist, and the others who recognised his superior ability in such
matters of practical statecraft, accepted his decision and sacrificed
their own ambitions for the greater good of their beloved

Cavour felt towards the House of Sardinia as Bismarck
did towards the Hohenzollern family. With infinite care and
great shrewdness he set to work to jockey the Sardinian King
into a position from which His Majesty would be able to assume
the leadership of the entire Italian people. The unsettled
political conditions in the rest of Europe greatly helped him in
his plans and no country contributed more to the independence
of Italy than her old and trusted (and often distrusted)
neighbour, France.

In that turbulent country, in November of the year 1852,
the Republic had come to a sudden but not unexpected end.
Napoleon III the son of Louis Bonaparte the former King of
Holland, and the small nephew of a great uncle, had re-
established an Empire and had made himself Emperor ``by the
Grace of God and the Will of the People.''

This young man, who had been educated in Germany and
who mixed his French with harsh Teutonic gutturals (just
as the first Napoleon had always spoken the language of his
adopted country with a strong Italian accent) was trying very
hard to use the Napoleonic tradition for his own benefit. But
he had many enemies and did not feel very certain of his hold
upon his ready-made throne. He had gained the friendship
of Queen Victoria but this had not been a difficult task, as the
good Queen was not particularly brilliant and was very susceptible
to flattery. As for the other European sovereigns,
they treated the French Emperor with insulting haughtiness
and sat up nights devising new ways in which they could show
their upstart ``Good Brother'' how sincerely they despised him.

Napoleon was obliged to find a way in which he could break
this opposition, either through love or through fear. He well
knew the fascination which the word ``glory'' still held for his
subjects. Since he was forced to gamble for his throne he
decided to play the game of Empire for high stakes. He used
an attack of Russia upon Turkey as an excuse for bringing
about the Crimean war in which England and France combined
against the Tsar on behalf of the Sultan. It was a very
costly and exceedingly unprofitable enterprise. Neither
France nor England nor Russia reaped much glory.

But the Crimean war did one good thing. It gave Sardinia
a chance to volunteer on the winning side and when peace was
declared it gave Cavour the opportunity to lay claim to the
gratitude of both England and France.

Having made use of the international situation to get Sardinia
recognised as one of the more important powers of Europe,
the clever Italian then provoked a war between Sardinia
and Austria in June of the year 1859. He assured himself of
the support of Napoleon in exchange for the provinces of
Savoy and the city of Nice, which was really an Italian town.
The Franco-Italian armies defeated the Austrians at Magenta
and Solferino, and the former Austrian provinces and duchies
were united into a single Italian kingdom. Florence became
the capital of this new Italy until the year 1870 when the
French recalled their troops from Home to defend France
against the Germans. As soon as they were gone, the Italian
troops entered the eternal city and the House of Sardinia took
up its residence in the old Palace of the Quirinal which an
ancient Pope had built on the ruins of the baths of the Emperor

The Pope, however, moved across the river Tiber and hid
behind the walls of the Vatican, which had been the home of
many of his predecessors since their return from the exile of
Avignon in the year 1377. He protested loudly against this
high-handed theft of his domains and addressed letters of appeal
to those faithful Catholics who were inclined to sympathise
with him in his loss. Their number, however, was small,
and it has been steadily decreasing. For, once delivered from
the cares of state, the Pope was able to devote all his time to
questions of a spiritual nature. Standing high above the petty
quarrels of the European politicians, the Papacy assumed a new
dignity which proved of great benefit to the church and made
it an international power for social and religious progress
which has shown a much more intelligent appreciation of modern
economic problems than most Protestant sects.

In this way, the attempt of the Congress of Vienna to
settle the Italian question by making the peninsula an
Austrian province was at last undone.

The German problem however remained as yet unsolved.
It proved the most difficult of all. The failure of the revolution
of the year 1848 had led to the wholesale migration of the more

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest