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[And other works.]
ART. 1.-L'Empire Libéral : Etudes, Récits, Souvenirs. Par
EMILE OLLIVIER. In six volumes. Paris : Garnier
Frères, Libraires-Editeurs. The inner history of the Second Empire is gradually
acquiring distinctness. The men who were associated with its fortunes have given us, one after another, their reminiscences or their criticisms. The Duc de Persigny, M. Thouvenel, the Duc de Gramont, and M. Benedetti are only prominent examples of statesmen who bave been anxious to explain their shares in the fortunes or misfortunes of the Emperor. Writers like M. Maxime du Camp and M. de la Guéronnière have thrown light on portions of the history. Novelists like Victor Hugo, the brothers Margueritte, and M. Zola have told the story of the circumstances in which the Empire had its birth, and of the catastrophe which overwhelmed it at its close. Historians like M. Rothan have illustrated important passages in the diplomacy of the reign. M. de la Gorce is summing up with admirable impartiality and clearness the annals of the Second Empire ; and, finally, M. Ollivier is recording the transition from autocratic to constitutional government and, as we presume, intending to offer some apology for his own share in the events which directly led to the crowning disaster of Sedan. The reader who is acquainted with these and other similar works ought to have no difficulty in understanding the history of France during the reign of the Third Napoleon. It may, indeed, be many years before the history of England from 1850 to 1870 is told with the knowledge, the perspicacity, and the eloquence with which M. de la Gorce has related the history of France during the same period.
VOL. CXCVI. NO. COCCI.
If M. Ollivier's six volumes are the latest contribution to our knowledge of the subject, they are, at present, incomplete. The narrative is brought down only to 1864; and it is much more concerned with the autocratic government of the first half of the reign than with l’Empire Libéral which gives a title to the work. Many of the most interesting chapters in the book have already appeared in the pages of a great Frencb review; and, perhaps in consequence, the book as a whole is deficient in what an artist would call its values.' But we have hardly the right to expect the proportions which are required in a history in a work which professes only to consist of studies, narratives, and reminiscences. The latter word is, perhaps, M. Ollivier's excuse for inserting a much fuller account of his own proceedings in the French legislature than would be justifiable in a mere history of the reign.
Notwithstanding these defects the book is full of interest. M. Ollivier bas been able, from his own experiences, to add to our knowledge of the period, and to throw fresh light on the character of the Emperor. We are far from thinking that Napoleon III. was either a great statesman or a great ruler. He committed many faults which we cannot excusc; he was responsible for many mistakes from the effect of which France was destined to suffer severely. Yet amidst all his faults and all his mistakes we cannot avoid being attracted by his personality. He would probably have been a much more successful monarch if he had been a less generous man. He was no match for the resolute diplomatists with whom, at various stages of his career, he was associated or confronted. He gave himself away at Plombières to Count Cavour: he gave himself away at Biarritz to Count von Bismarck. In the one case the Emperor's weakness was of less importance; for the end at which Count Cavour was aiming was the end which Napoleon himself desired. In the other case it was attended with fatal consequences; for the great Prussian minister played with the Emperor, and, securing for himself all that he desired for Prussia, threw over, one after another, the concessions which the Emperor undoubtedly thought had been secured for France.
In the years of his youth, his captivity, and his exile, the Emperor had carefully considered the policy which he should pursue if he ever attained power. He borrowed from the First Napoleon that doctrine of nationalities which was ultimately destined to lead to the chief success and the crowning
disaster of his reign. The French people had always sympathised with the Italians in their sufferings, and with the Poles in their oppression, and Napoleon had himself taken part in the revolutionary movement in the Romagna in 1830. M. Ollivier categorically asserts that Louis Napoleon had no connexion with the Carbonari, the secret society which, later in his life, be was so often charged with having joined. The reason which he gives for his opinion that the Carbonari had their origin in Naples, and that their organisation did not extend to Tuscany and Rome, those parts of Italy in which Napoleon resided in his youth, does not satisfy us. We readily admit, however, that we have never been able to discover any evidence which has convinced us that Napoleon had joined the Carbonari in his earlier years. There may be grounds for presuming, but, so far as we know, there is no proof, that he joined the society. The allegations of men like Lord Malmesbury and Count Vitzthum to this effect are probably founded on the mere gossip of their contemporaries; and we may perhaps assume that the Emperor would sooner or later have struck a blow for Italy if Orsini's horrible crime had not precipitated his action.
The Emperor, when he went to war in 1859, had a clear idea of what he intended to accomplish. He desired a free, but he had no wish for a united, Italy. He was willing that Piedmont should extend from the Alps to the Adriatic, on the sole condition that the French slopes of the Alps should be ceded to France. But he had no inclination to disturb the existing arrangements either in Central or Southern Italy. France, strengthened by the addition of Savoy and Nice, could view with equanimity an extended Piedinont. But neither France nor her ruler had any relish for a united Italy, with twenty-six millions of inhabitants, on her south-eastern frontier.
The ideas which the Emperor had formed found expression at Villafranca. Alarmed at the rumours of Prussian intervention and the movements of Prussian troops to the Rhine, he thought himself compelled to stop halfway in his march to the Adriatic; but, in other respects, he gave effect to the ideas with which he had commenced the campaign. He arranged that the Italian States should be formed into a confederation under the honorary presidency of the Pope; he surrendered Lombardy, which he received from Austria, to his Piedmontese ally; and with some generosity he forbore from exacting the price of his assistance—the incorpo