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eternal conclusion that Italy should be left free to settle its own affairs, and the Emperor hesitated to act alone or against the opinion of the ally whose friendship he still desired to preserve. He contented himself with stationing a French fleet at Gaeta to afford a possible refuge for the King of Naples. And this policy only emphasised the failure of his diplomacy. For France, and indeed Europe, received an object-lesson of the Emperor's incapacity. He showed himself opposed to the union of Southern and Northern Italy, yet powerless to prevent it; the crowning act—the capture of Gaeta—was actually accomplished in the presence of the French fleet.
This discomfiture was preceded by an occurrence still more fatal to the prestige of the Empire. The Piedmontese Cabinet considered that it could only prevent Garibaldi's march on Rome by itself invading the Eoman provinces. Rome, however, was occupied by a French garrison; the Pope had enlisted in his support volunteers from every Catholic nation; and a French officer, General Lamoriciere, had been permitted, against the strong advice of some of Napoleon's own counsellors, to assume the command of the contingent. Thus the invasion of the Romagna involved an attack upon territory whose capital was occupied by a French garrison, and whose frontiers were defended by a force commanded by a French officer. Such a proceeding seemed so dishonourable to France that her Foreign Minister, M. Thouvenel, wished the Emperor to dispatch an ultimatum to Turin; and the Due de Gramont, the French Ambassador at Rome, inferring that M. Thouvenel spoke the mind of the Emperor, told the Papal Government that the Emperor would not tolerate Piedmontese aggression. The Emperor was thus committed by his agents to the defence of the Pope, and the defeat of the Papal troops seemed to emphasise his inability to resist the march of the Piedmontese. The sovereign of Northern Italy, who knew his own mind and who was supported by his minister, seemed able to defy at every turn the powerful Emperor, who was vibrating between resolution and irresolution, and whose ministers were unable either to guide or influence their master. Italy, so the Emperor had decided, should not be united, and the union of Italy was practically complete. Rome, so the Emperor had promised, should be defended against aggression, and the Pope had been stripped of his richest provinces by the Piedmontese soldiery.
Only a little more than a year had passed since Napoleon at Villaf ranca had laid down the conditions on which the question of Italy was to be settled. Every portion of his programme had been torn up. Italian federation had passed out of the possibilities of practical politics, and the union of Italy, notwithstanding the Emperor's opposition, had been almost completely accomplished. Everything that the Emperor had desired had been abandoned; every end which he had resisted had been attained. The victory on the battlefield had been followed by diplomatic disaster, and the Emperor had shown that, if he was still the master of many legions, his will was no longer law.
The discredit into which the Emperor thus fell weakened his authority, and his treatment of the Pope exposed him to severe criticism. Both in the inner circle of the Emperor's Court and in French society there was a difference of opinion on the events which had been thus accomplished. At Court the Empress was passionately devoted to the cause of the Pope, while Prince Napoleon was equally zealous for the union of Italy. The Empress, on the one side, endowed with all the religious fervour of her race, could not even contemplate the desertion of the head of her Church in the hour of his necessity. 'Mort soit, Rome jamais' was her comment on the report that Garibaldi was inviting the Italians to bind themselves under the oath ' Roma o morte.' But, if the Empress was inspired with a passionate desire to save the head of her Church, Prince Napoleon was actuated by at least as strong a determination to extend the rule of his father-in-law. The government of the Pope, so the Prince openly argued in the Senate, was unworthy, effete, and did not deserve a defence. United Italy, moreover, was in need of Rome, and Rome must be surrendered to it. This was the policy which the Emperor ought to pursue, and this was the policy which the Prince believed, notwithstanding all the assurances to the contrary, he would ultimately adopt.
The contrary views which were thus pressed on the Emperor by his wife and his cousin found expression in the country. Catholic and Conservative France—the France to which the Emperor owed his throne, and on whose support he relied for the maintenance of his dynasty—warmly espoused the cause which the Empress was unceasingly pleading. Liberal France, on the contrary—the France which was still suffering from the extinction of liberty and the repression of opinion—as eagerly adopted the views of the Prince. The Emperor found himself in this dilemma. If he listened to the Prince he exposed himself to the tears of his wife and the reproaches of his supporters. If he attended to the Empress he was liable to be charged with abandoning the cause for which 30,000 French soldiers had laid down their lives in 1859.* A stronger man than the Emperor would have resolutely faced the difficulties of the situation, and have definitely decided on the policy to be pursued. But the Emperor, throughout his career, always shrank from arriving at a decision on the day which he could defer till the morrow. He could not bring himself either to abandon the Pope or to impose a distinct veto on the aggression of the Italians. His vacillating and uncertain policy secured the support of neither Turin nor Home, and offended both. The Italians complained that the Emperor's attitude was preventing them from crowning the edifice of a United Italy by giving her Rome as her capital. The Papal Government complained that the presence of a French garrison had prevented it having recourse to other assistance, and had not preserved it from the loss of its territory.!
The Emperor, moreover, was confronted with another difficulty, an indirect legacy of the Italian campaign. In Italy he was the champion of liberty; in France he was the head of an autocratic government. He was practising one principle at home and advocating another abroad. The dilemma which he was thus preparing for himself was pointed out on the eve of the Italian war. 'You are com'promising,' said M. Plichon in the French Chamber, 'the 'internal tranquillity of France. For you cannot be revo
* lutionary in Italy, and remain conservative at home.' 'If
* you are going to crush the despotic rule of Austria,' said M. Jules Favre on the same occasion, ' my heart, my blood,
* my life are at your service. But when the victory has 'been won, I shall claim from the conqueror that he will 'concede to his own people the liberties which he will have 'restored to another nation.'
* In a remarkable interview which he had with M. de Falloux in 1860, the Emperor explained his difficulties by saying,' I have always been bound to the cause of Italy, and it is impossible for me to turn my guns upon her.' (Memoirs of M. de Falloux, ii. 226.)
t Cardinal Antonelli, on being congratulated on the dismissal of M. Thouvenel, who was in favour of the French troops evacuating Rome at a definite date, replied: 'Non; c'est alors que nous commencons a trembler. Ce sont nos amis qu'on chargera de nous executer.' (Le Secret de l'Empereur, ii. 439, note.)
Perhaps the Emperor was himself conscious of the inconsistency of giving liberal institutions to Italy while denying them to France. Perhaps, as M. Ollivier hints, he was a little weary of the burden of empire and anxious to shift some of the load on to other shoulders. Perhaps he was anxious to devote to the Life of Caesar some of the hours which he had hitherto reserved for affairs. At any rate, he decided to give his legislature a little more power. Verily there seemed little risk in such a step. The election of 1857 had returned only five men (' Les Cinq,' as they were called) who were avowedly in favour of a more liberal system of government. The two men, who rapidly became the chief exponents of the five, were M. Jules Favre, who was already known as a capable orator both in the legislature and at the Bar, and M. Emile Ollivier, the author of the volumes whose title we have placed at the head of this article. In the sessions of 1857, 1858, 1859, and 1860, the five under M. Ollivier's guidance had shown considerable skill in criticising the autocratic measures of the Emperor without transgressing the rules of debate. They had been encouraged in their difficult task by the sympathy of M. de Morny, the President of the Chamber, who was slowly arriving at the conclusion that the legislature might safely be entrusted with a larger measure of responsibility. M. de Morny's parentage—he was the half-brother of the Emperor —gave him ready access to the Emperor's ear. He prevailed on the Emperor to accord to the legislature a little more liberty of discussion, and to formulate the decree of November 24, 1860, the foundation-stone of l'Empire Liberal. Perhaps there is no better proof of the restrictions under which the legislature had previously acted than is afforded by the concessions contained in this decree. It introduced three reforms:—1. It restored the Address to the throne at the opening of each session, and thus afforded the Opposition an opportunity of criticising every salient point in the policy of the Government. 2. It directed the publication in the 'Journal Officiel' of authorised official reports of the proceedings of the Senate and the Legislative Assembly, and thus brought the delegates into touch with the people. 3. It undertook that the Emperor should be represented, and that his measures should be defended, in the Chambers by ministers without portfolios. Perhaps, when we in this country are a little inclined to denounce the abuses which have crept into and are prolonging the debate on the Address, it may do us good to recollect that the restoration of the Address was the first stage which marked the passage from autocratic to liberal government in the Second Empire.
'II n'y a que le premier pas qui coute.' Almost exactly a year after the publication of this decree, the Emperor took another and still more significant step. On November 15, 1861, he announced his intention to reorganise the financial arrangements of the Empire, and to surrender the right which he had hitherto exercised of opening supplementary credits when the legislature was not sitting. This concession was even more striking than that which preceded it. For the men who control the purse will, in the long run, govern the country. Napoleon, indeed, found it necessary to disregard his own promise almost as soon as he had given it. The necessities of the Mexican expedition induced or compelled him to raise a supplementary credit of 35,000,000 francs (l,400,000Z.) without the authority of the legislature. But this illegal action, of course, strengthened the hands of the Opposition. It gave M. Ollivier himself the opportunity of declaring that the true method of preventing irregularity was to make the minister responsible to the legislature. It was a striking sign of the progress which had been made that constitutional government and a responsible ministry should have been openly demanded in the autocratic Chamber which had been elected in 1857.
At the time at which the demand was raised both parties were making elaborate efforts in preparation for a fresh election. The general election of 1863 was fought in very different circumstances from those which had existed during the general election of 1857. In 1857 there was a general disinclination among Liberals to engage in politics; in 1863 there was as general an interest in the progress of affairs. In 1857 the Liberals had experienced difficulty in finding candidates; in 1863 their chief difficulty consisted in deciding among many candidates who were the most competent to stand. In 1857 Paris had with some hesitation returned five Liberals. In 1863 the five and their allies swept every constituency in the French capital. In the provinces, indeed, the machinery at the disposal of the Government enabled it to prevail over the attacks of the Liberals and the discontent of the Church. But the whole aspect of the Chamber was altered by the elections of 1863. An obscure group of five members had developed into a party; and the opposition, which this party was preparing, was facilitated by the concessions which the Emperor had himself made: by the decree of November 1860, and the financial