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their men were badly trained, badly clothed, badly fed, badly armed, and, in many cases, forcibly taken from their homes against their will; but they were brave, temperate, tired by no exertion, and, mounted on lean but wiry ponies, they had a mobility which the French did not possess. The very women aided their cause. They followed their husbands to the field, watched over the transport and commissariat, and, when a halt was ordered, prepared the food.
Thus, if General Forey in the summer of 1863 had returned to France with the conviction that he had, in the language of his successor, conquered and pacified the country, that successor, General Bazaine, soon found that he was in the presence of a guerilla war which was much more trying than the regular warfare with which General Forey had dealt. It is only fair to add that he carried out the work with energy and skill. Towards the end of 1863, or nearly two years after the commencement of the war, three-fourths of the territory and four-fifths of the population were acquired for the Empire. In the beginning of 1864, two years after the first expedition had sailed, only some detached commandos—as we should call them to-day —kept up the semblance of organised resistance. 'Every 'day it was announced that they were scattered to the 'winds, and every morrow saw them re-appear as numerous 'as ever.'
The more cheering reports, which continued to arrive in Europe, encouraged the Archduke Maximilian to embark on his fatal expedition. And in June 1864 the unhappy Prince, and his still more unhappy wife, landed at Vera Cruz. He may, perhaps, be forgiven for inferring from what he saw that General Bazaine's boast that the country was ' conquis, • pacifie' was justified. The resistance which the French were still meeting seemed gradually weakening, and measures were in progress to ensure its more rapid collapse. General Bazaine was organising a great movement—it would be called to-day a great • drive'—by which he hoped to clear the whole of Northern Mexico from the Juaristes, and to drive Juarez himself across the frontier. His complete success induced him to repeat the same operation in Southern Mexico, where he gained a similar advantage. The beginning of 1865 was the most prosperous period in the French occupation, and the culminating point in Marshal Bazaine's career. Fortune had apparently smiled on the Commanderin-Chief. He might almost have been compared to Alexander in Dryden's famous poem. He had even • the lovely Thais' at his side in the person of a Mexican lady, whom he had married in Mexico.
At this point, however, we part company with M. Ollivier, whose narrative has not yet been brought down to the final issue, and we must turn to other sources for a brief summary of the difficulties in which Marshal Bazaine was about to be involved, and which were ultimately to lead to the withdrawal of the French, and to the defeat, the capture, and the execution of Maximilian.
These difficulties arose from two causes. In the first place, even the Emperor Napoleon—dreamer as he was— would have never embarked on the Mexican campaign if the existence of civil war in the United States had not made it certain that he had no reason for fearing American intervention. During the three years of warfare the Americans had stood sullenly aloof, powerless to take any steps in opposition to a policy diametrically opposed to the Monroe Doctrine. In the spring of 1865, however, when the Mexican war was entering on its fourth year, the resistance of the Southern States collapsed. Large bodies of armed men, disbanded in the States, were only too ready to embark on some fresh enterprise, and Juarez's partisans had no more difficulty in securing recruits in Texas than the Fenians at the same time encountered in raising recruits for an attempt on Ireland. The Juaristes enjoyed, however, an advantage which the Fenians did not share. Texas 'marched' upon Mexico; bands of guerillas could easily cross the frontier; and the Government of the United States declared that it would require all the cavalry of Europe and America to prevent their doing so. But the action of the United States was not confined to a passive toleration of armed incursions from their own country. Freed from the pressure of civil war, they rejected with disdain a proposal of the French Government that they should recognise Maximilian; they emphasised their refusal by accrediting a diplomatic agent to Juarez himself.
Those persons who are fond of speculating on the 'what 'might have been' may perhaps interest themselves in discussing whether, if General Lee had not surrendered in 1865, Maximilian might have established his dynasty. Practical men will be satisfied with observing that the surrender at Eichmond necessitated surrender in Mexico. But the Emperor's own policy had made retreat as difficult as advance. By destroying Juarez's government and substituting Maximilian he had deprived himself of any responsible persons with whom he could treat. So far as French policy could effect it, Juarez and his partisans had been converted into rebels against the government of their country. But governments do not make treaties with rebels; they crush them. From the very nature of their position, therefore, the French could not demand less than unconditional surrender. Unfortunately, however, Juarez and the brave men who were fighting for him could not accept this view of the situation. From their point of view they were not rebels, but patriots. If the French could accept nothing less than unconditional surrender, they could accept nothing less than independence. There was absolutely no mean between the two demands. Large as it was, Mexico was not large enough for both Maximilian and Juarez.
In France, moreover, the expedition was becoming more and more unpopular. The Government commanded a great majority in the French Chamber; the small minority did not dare to display its hostility. But it found ample opportunity for criticism in the constant applications which were made to it for supplies: How comes it—so men began to ask—that in this country which we are told is at peace we continue to fight battles? It is pleasant enough to learn that the forces of our enemy are scattered; it would be much more pleasant to know that they would not reform. The Juaristes, said another, are like the brigands of Naples, who, we are assured once a week, have been entirely destroyed. M. Forcade, in the • Revue des Deux Mondes,' spoke out even more strongly. 'How long,' he asked, ' are we to persevere in this gigantic folly?'
But, in truth, it did not require the arguments of the Opposition to influence the Emperor. In 1865 he had only one object—to withdraw, if possible with honour, from an expedition which he should never have undertaken; and, in the beginning of 1866, he announced to his legislature that he was accordingly arranging for the withdrawal of the French troops. This decision destroyed the sole hope which Maximilian still retained of preserving his already tottering throne; yet, hard as it was on Maximilian, it was inevitable. Many months, in fact, were not to pass before the Emperor was to find himself face to face with fresh proof that it had already been too long delayed.
For if, in the six years which had passed since the Emperor had risen to the zenith of his power at Villafranca, the star of his destiny had been steadily declining, its lustre was to be almost extinguished by the events of the critical year which was just beginning. For Count von Bismarck was preparing his spring upon Austria, and the struggle between the Man of Iron at Berlin and the weary and irresolute sovereign at Paris was commencing, which was only to terminate, more than four years afterwards, at Sedan.
Before venturing to attack Austria, Count von Bismarck thought it wise to address himself to the French Emperor; and thus it happened that Sadowa was preceded by an interview at Biarritz, just as Solferino had its origin in the meeting at Plombieres. The secrets of the Biarritz interview have not been completely revealed,* but the course of subsequent negotiations makes it comparatively easy to infer what passed at it. There is little doubt that the Emperor opened the interview by an expression of his strong desire to complete his programme of 1859 by giving Venice to Italy; and that Count von Bismarck saw that he could practically obtain a free hand in Germany if he gave a promise that this transfer should be effected. 'Si l'ltalie 'n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer,' was the famous phrase in which he expressed his sense of the advantage which the Emperor's predilections for Italy were giving him. But he did not rely on the Emperor's wishes respecting Italy alone. He dexterously held out the hope that Prussia would consent to a rectification of the French frontier on the Rhine. It is certain, however, that the Emperor took no steps to embody this arrangement or this promise in writing, or even to obtain Count von Bismarck's assent to it in a form which could not be subsequently repudiated. He gave the Count all he asked, and exacted nothing but the vaguest of assurances in return for his concession.
This loose method of transacting business was no new thing with the French Emperor. At Plombieres, six years before, he had left it uncertain whether France was to receive from Piedmont, as the price of French assistance, Savoy and Nice, or Savoy alone. His success on the first
* Since this article was in type, M. Ollivier has published in the 'Revue des Deux Mondes' (1" Juin 1902) an article on L'Entrevue de Biarritz, which we presume will become a chapter in one of his forthcoming volumes. There does not appear to be much in M. Ollivier's conclusion which is inconsistent with our own. But it may be convenient to some of our readers to refer to his account of this famous interview.
occasion may have satisfied him that he could safely follow the same precedent. But' he also made the great mistake of miscalculating the strength of the two combatants in the approaching duel. He was deceived, not only by the reports of his own officers, but by his own experience of the Austrian army, into believing that, even with the aid of Italy, the task of Prussia would tax her utmost resources; and that the war which she was provoking would inevitably be long. The Emperor, in other words, thought that he was sanctioning a war which would last certainly for months, and possibly for years; and in which, after both combatants were exhausted, he might intervene with decisive effect, and obtain all that he required. The victory of Sadowa rudely dispelled the illusion, and in a council, which was held at Paris immediately afterwards, M. Drouyn de Lhuys urged the Emperor to summon the Chambers, .to demand supplies, to 'impose' the intervention of France, and to move an army on the Shine. M. de la Valette, who a few months afterwards succeeded M. Drouyn de Lhuys as Foreign Minister, resisted this counsel, and, in resisting it, he showed that France was not in a position to adopt the energetic policy which M. Drouyn de Lhuys was recommending. Mexico had consumed everything, and France, though nominally disposing of many legions, could not place a fully equipped army of 60,000 men on the Rhine. Verily, if M. de la Gorce is right in saying that 'the 'fate of the Second Empire was sealed in Italy,' its grave was dug in Mexico.*
An English reader has difficulty in believing that even the Mexican war could have reduced the military power of France to so low a level that she was unable to place in 1866 a fully equipped army of 50,000 men on the Rhine. Englishmen had been taught to believe, English statesmen had publicly declared, that Napoleon was the master of 500,000 regular troops; and how is it possible to reconcile this belief and these declarations with the fact which M. de la Valette urged, and which Marshal Randon practically admitted, that the Emperor had not 50,000 fully equipped
* M. Ollivier denies that the Empire was exhausted by the Mexican campaign. He contends that the consumption of men, guns, and money in Mexico was too small to make any difference. But he apparently forgets that the effect of the Mexican campaign was to divert the supplies intended for the army at home, and to prevent the Emperor from applying for further supplies for its reorganisation.