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sible 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' (ler 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 Rhine. 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 50,000 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, gun?, 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.
men whom he could place on the Rhine in 1866? It is certain, however, that the Emperor himself had long been aware of the deficiencies of his own army. The Crimea had taught, and Italy had enforced, the lesson that reorganisation and decentralisation were necessary; and the Emperor in 1860, with the assistance of Marshal Randon, had prepared a scheme of military reform which in some respects anticipated the system on which Mr. Brodrick proposed to reorganise our own army. The reforms, however, required money; the Emperor's ministers advocated economy; and the Emperor himself—on the eve of conceding fuller control to the legislature—was not over-eager to ask for large supplies. He received, too, but little support from the military men, who should presumably have been the first to encourage military reforms. It was clear, for example, to ordinary persons that the substitution of a rifle for the old smooth bore should be followed by the addition of a movable sight, enabling the soldier to adjust the elevation of the piece to the distance of the object to be fired at. The wise committee of military experts, to whom the new rifle was referred, invented, on the contrary, an elaborate system under which the thumb of the soldier's left hand could be used as a sight:—
'Pour la distance de 400 metres, il passait le ponce de la main gauche a cheval sur le canon et visait par le sommet de l'articulation; pour 600 metres il levait le pouce et visait par le sommet de l'ongle.'
—advice which, a few years afterwards, had its parallel in the opinion which high military officers in France pronounced on the incontestable superiority of the Prussian artillery. 'Our officers,' so they argued, 'would easily 'defeat this advantage by an alteration in tactics. All that 'would be necessary would be a livelier attack than had been 'usual in previous wars. They must push on boldly till 'they reached a point where the superior range of the 'Prussian artillery would no longer give the enemy an 'advantage over the inferior guns of France.' Every profession is, in fact, conservative of its own traditions; and the last persons from whom large military reforms are to be expected are the distinguished military men who have passed their lives in the surroundings which they are called on to improve.
In carrying our narrative to this point we have travelled beyond the period over which M. Ollivier's present volumes extend. The subject of them seems to us one of the most interesting and most instructive in history. The central figure—the Emperor himself—is pathetic in his fortunes and misfortunes. He perhaps never merited the position to which he attained at one period of his career, but he certainly did not deserve the fate which overwhelmed him at its close. As a ruler, we believe that he was honestly anxious to promote the prosperity of France and the happiness of the world. But, as a ruler, he had the fatal defect that he was full of ideas, eager to give effect to them, yet over-timid in carrying out the views which he was overbold in initiating. Thus he drifted, from first to last, on the tide which alternately carried him to victory and defeat. In the first eleven years of his rule fate declared itself in his favour, and the flood of fortune carried him to Villafranca; in the last eleven years of his reign destiny deserted him, and he drifted on a sea of sorrow to ruin and Sedan.