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Revelations of London. By the Editor
LITERATURE OF the Monta (for ‘May) :—Self. By the Author of
“Cecil.”— Thiers' History of the Consulate and the Empire.-The
-(for July) :-Memoirs of Lady Hester Lucy
Harris Nicolas, G.C.M.G. The Third Volume.-The Mission ; or,
-A Tour Through the Valley of the Meuse, with the Legend of the
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
PASSAGES IN THE LIVES OF CELEBRATED STATESMEN
THERE are governments which are based upon a single principlesuch is the omnipotence which the autocrats of Russia must assume to secure to their extended and unwieldy empire vitality and rapidity of synchronous action ; or the constitutional government of England, where truth is evolved by party collision, in which, though the obliquity of a Prime Minister may, for the instant, carry the vessel of the state close upon the breakers, it will, at the return tide, right itself, and, with a sudden lurch, overthrow the shifting and unsteady helmsman. On the other hand, there are nations where the genius of one man stands in lieu of principle--as we see Louis Philippe in France, who mounted to the throne on the ruins of all that constitutes government, and there maintains himself, because, of the political game, he knows every trick upon the cards. The nation, however, has no legitimate governing principleall is bought, all is sold, from the senate downwards. Its liberty consists but in occasional outbursts of licence—the constitution is a word without a fact—the laws breathe freedom—the executive exerts tyranny—all is corruption, and in it the roots of Louis Philippe's power find
easy entrance, and a congenial and fructifying nutriment; sucking up the juices to augment its strength ; expanding its overshadowing branches like a tree planted in its natural congenial soil. But, rapid as is the growth, succulent as may be the tree, well we know that such is not the growth that resists best the tempest. It is the fir, with its scant foliage, although placed on the highest mountain top, twining and pushing its spare roots into the fissures of the sterile rock, that defies the hurricane. The dynasty of Louis Philippe and the peace of Europe hang upon his life, and will be disturbed by the first political gale which follows his decease.
May.-- VOL. LXXIV. NO. CCXCIII.
Other great countries there are of more ancient rule, whose political being also seems to depend upon one man.
Of this Austria is a striking instance. The name of Metternich has been hitherto the whole expression of its power; and for special reasons this great statesman attracts and rivets the attention of the whole world at this moment. With the late amiable Emperor Francis, he represented the governing power, and, with the present emperor, for reasons which we will not state from motives of respect, the Chancellor of the Empire has been still more necessarily the power behind the throne,” in whose shadow the throne itself has reposed. To feel the absorbing interest that attaches itself to this great statesman, we must reflect how boundless are the possessions of the Austrian crown—its ancillary states alone, extending from the Alps to the shores of the Adriatic, and thence to the frontiers of Turkey—that, on the one hand, there are the several republics and kingdoms of Italy, whose subjects may not think of their ancestors or open a book of history without an imprecation against the yoke of the stranger-that, on the other side, there is Transylvania, and nearer home Hungary, a mighty kingdom in itself, enjoying unbounded liberty, save in the disposal of the fruits of its soil and the resources of its government.
Add to this that Prussia, the upstart rival of Austria, has enlisted the neighbouring states under the banner of mutual and unfettered commerce, unknown between the different states of Austria, and raised a liberal banner, appealing to the most generous and plausible passions of men ; and that, to increase the difficulties of the crisis, the people of Germany are dividing into hostile camps—the Protestant and the Catholic.
It will thus be felt what profound interest is attached to Prince Metternich, the tutelary genius of Austria, the statesman who has immortalised himself equally in the emergencies of peace and the trials of war. Let us add one melancholy fact-at this moment, when a moral revolution has already begun, and a political one of so momentous a character is likely so soon to ensue, the sun of the great Metternich's intellect is gradually setting in clouds. Delicacy might, under other circumstances, induce us to withhold this fact, but it is the common topic of conversation of all the diplomatists and statesmen of Europe; and the world is too much interested in so important a truth, that M. de Metternich should not pay here, as a public character, the penalty of wielding the gigantic power upon which the eyes of mankind are fixed. It must be remembered that the mode of government of M. de Metternich is not intrinsically excellent, but that it has triumphed through his personal execution because
Whate'er is best administered is best. Whilst no other statesman has such a prestige of power, no one can inherit the confidence with which this great man has inspired Europe ; whilst no other statesman has the same claims upon general respect and forbearance; there is no statesman in Austria even capable of intelligent imitation ;* Metternich has outlived most of his rivals, and has quenched the aspirations of others now sunk in the habits of mediocrity. M. de
* We have stated, in a former article, that men of sufficient talent and dignity could not be found to occupy the office of Austrian Ambassadors. One court of Europe offers a striking instance at this moment, as all political men know.
Wessenberg has disappeared from the visible horizon of politics ; M. de Kollowrat, who once attempted to vie with the great minister, is an ordinary-minded man ; M. de Fiquelmont, a person of solid worth and sterling qualities, is aged, and lacks vigour of wing for the eagle flights of statesmanship. He and many others of the successors spoken of have not that power of foresight approaching to prophetical inspiration, that detachment from all minor considerations and points of detail, that constitute the lofty statesman for so boundless an empire, for the more extended the field of vision, the more elevated must be the point of view. Prince Esterhazy, from his great personal influence and dignity, his elear and expansive views, has been regarded as the fitting successor by all diplomatiste ; but this great magnate of Hungary would, at all times, have been with difficulty wooed from the path of leisurely pleasures to those of ambition; and the maladies which of late years have assailed his constitution, have left behind a nervous sensibility, to which, however slight, the responsibilities of power are most uncongenial. Such is the generally rumoured state of Prince Metternichsuch the position of the empire of which he has so long been, if not the heart, the whole mind.
The change in M. de Metternich is the more remarked, as, of all political men, he has hitherto been the most vivacious. Power, uncontrolled, never bore the appearance of a better conscience, nor a more cheerful and genial aspect. In the morning, the great statesman debates the interests of the world, gives audience to the numberless statesmen and diplomatists who, in the hour of difficulty, fly to consult the oracle, and to the number of great feudatories and mediatized princes who live overshadowed by the wings of the Austrian eagle. At the sound of the dinner-bell, M. de Metternich becomes another man. He is the first to jest and the first to laugh. The favourite guests at his private table are men versed in the elegant arts of society-men of wit and anecdote, and who collect the on dits of European society, and retail them whilst investing them with a charm of their own. Young men are the special favourites of the prince ; he seeks to give them good counsel, and to assume a grave countenance ; but he delights in their frolics, he sympathises with their scrapes, and he is all indulgence for their adventures, for they minister to his mirth and remind him of his own.
T'he prince has an eager taste for every thing that is new in literature, art, or science. The habitual inmates of his house are such men as Baron C. Hugel,* the traveller, the botanist, the votary of literature and art. No sooner is dinner over than the prince takes up the lightest volume of ephemeral literature that can be found. The “Charivari," the
This amiable and accomplished nobleman is the brother of the former Austrian chargé d'affairs at the French court, who is now become the right-hand man of Prince Metternich in the Chancellerie d'Etat. He was the devoted admirer and rejected suitor of the beautiful Princess Metternich, previously to her marriage with the great Austrian statesman, To overcome his regrets, and to dispel the remembrance of his unrequited affection, he left his country and travelled. His voyage extended to the utmost boundaries of our Indian possessions—to spots at that time almost unknown. He brought back from India most valuable collections, and also important data which our Geographical and Asiatic Societies engerly recorded in their published reports. After many years absence, he returned to Vienna, to find in the circle of Prince Metternich's family that esteem and friendship which all who have known him have found that he so justly merits.
“Guêpes," and our own “ Punch,” are his greatest favourites ; he generally reads their most piquant passages to the habitués of his fainily circle. At such moments nothing can be more expansive and communicative than his manners. His cheerful countenance, all animation, strikes the more forcibly from the contrast it presents to the first visiters of the evening. These are in general the aulic councillors, and the leading members of the Chancellerie d'Etat. They are, in general, men of good abilities and great industry, either plebeians or of the inferior order of nobility. They have grown old in the service, and in the dry routine of a sedentary life have become immovable and impassive; habitually buried amidst piles of papers they have grown exsiccated, like a green plant placed between the porous leaves of an herbal. Nothing, generally speaking, can convey a stronger notion of a living mummy, than an aulic councillor, or the first secretary of an Austrian embassy, when he is not a man of the noblest birth.
Could any one for a moment underrate the gifts of the great statesman to whom we devote these rapid lines, it would suffice to think of the rank, of the age, in which he was born of the stupendous events amid which he has lived, and of the wonderful men with whom he has existed in familiar contact. Such circumstances alone suffice to expand the mind of a man of tolerable abilities into something akin to genius. Although M. de Metternich's father* did not possess the vast domains he now enjoys from Kænigswarth, where he extends his elegant and magnificent hospitality to the diplomatists, illustrious and august travellers, or invalids, who flock to the neighbourhood of Carlsbad—to Johannisberg, whose luxurious castle looks down not frowning like its Gothic neighbours, but smiling upon the seats of the most exquisite vintages of the Rhine, like a joyous Sybarite contemplating a voluptuous banquet-still were M. de Metternich's ancestors of no mean lineage.
Clement Wenceslaus, Count of Metternich Winneburg Ochsenhausen, was born at Coblentz, the 15th May, 1773, of a noble German race. His forefathers, valiant knights, figured in the wars of the Christian empire against the Ottomans. The Duke of Saxony, Prince of Poland and Lithuania, held the future statesman at the baptismal font. At fifteen years of age he went, accompanied by his tutor to Strasbourg. At this period the great frontier fortress of France was the abode of the brightest actors in the great political events that afterwards marked indelibly the pages of history. Here the young Metternich lived with the Galitzins, the Prince Max, afterwards King of Bavaria, at that time in the French service, &c., &c. His fellow students were, subsequently, some of the most distinguished men of Europe, such as Mr. now Earl Grey, and
* Francis George Joseph Charles Prince of Metternich Winneburg, was born 9th May, 1746, of ancient and honourable family, and was destined from the first to follow the career of diplomacy, in which some of his ancestors had distinguished themselves. He first acquired a great reputation for ability in the post of minister of the circle of Westphalia—thence he was sent to Liège, and in 1791 replaced M. de Mercey in the Low Countries. He distinguished himself in '97 at the Congress of Rastadt, at which he assisted in the character of Austrian plenipotentiary. He was created Prince of the Empire in 1803. In the two succeeding years he presided at the committee of mediatised princes at Vienna, and afterwards retired, though still preserving the title of minister of state. He had married, when a young man, the Countess Maria Beatrice of Kagenect, mother of the present prince. He died at Vienna in 1818, being 70 years of age.