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PREFACE.

SUFFICIENT TIME has now elapsed since the stirring events of 1870–1 to admit of calm and impartial judgments upon their nature and results. Few events in modern history seem more likely to produce great and lasting effects upon the destinies of mankind than those we have so recently witnessed, and which will be considered in the following pages

It was perhaps inevitable that when Germany had achieved a triumph as unexampled as it was unexpected public opinion should be directed to the anticipated policy of the victor rather than to the baffled designs of the vanquished. Yet the result has been a great injustice to Germany, whose acts have been judged without sufficient reference to the provocation she had received, or to the aggressive policy on the part of France, which may be summed up in the word Napoleonism. The absolute incompatibility with European peace of the whole system expressed by that word would have needed no proof if only the French aggression upon Germany had been successful. The situation of France in the face of Europe would then have spoken for itself, and it would have been impossible to have maintained the policy of any alliance between a pacific England and a domineering France.

Let anyone consider what would have been the political position of Europe had France been successful in the struggle which history will record as the “War for the Rhine.' The Emperor Napoleon III., installed as conqueror at Berlin, would have occupied the position of Napoleon I. after Jena. Each having previously beaten Austria and Russia, would have had no undefeated rival except England, and Europe (for the time at least) would have had to receive the law from France. The situation of England again in 1870 would have been the same as in 1806, minus the reality of naval supremacy and the prestige of recent naval victories. As soon as British Chauvinism had realised the fact that the unexplained designs and the better naval administration of France had given her a navy.practically equal to our own, friendly feelings would have given way to suspicion and alarm. If it be said that though the circumstances of the two Napoleons might have been the same, their characters were very different, the incident of the Belgian Project' suggests that their political morality was nearly on a level.

But the issue of the war having baffled the designs of France, people somewhat unfairly forgot that Germany was entitled to look at French policy as it was planned, and not as it was altered by events.

On the other hand, it was very natural that Englishmen should feel deep sympathy for a country stricken by defeats unexampled in history. No generous mind could have failed to hope, under its first impulse of

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pity, that the clemency of the victors of Sedan would be commensurate with their success, leaving both without any parallel in history. But that clemency would have been more generous than wise, for France had not yet learned to loathe Napoleonism even after Sedan. The Napoleonic legend still survived, and one victory would have fatally restored its pernicious vigour. To the fact that Germany followed up Sedan with its hundred thousand prisoners, by Metz with twice that number, and Paris with four times as many, Europe owes the destruction of Napoleonism, its greatest curse and danger. If, then, deliverance from the distorted and immoral traditions which deluged Europe with blood for the gratification of French vain-glory be a service to humanity, Germany is entitled to the gratitude of mankind. The continental nations owe her the first tribute, England owes her the second, if indeed France herself does not benefit in a greater degree. To Germany France owes her emancipation from that personal rule whose debasing and enervating effects she now acknowledges and deplores. The right of self-government and the dignity of a really free people are cheaply purchased at the price of a military supremacy for which France is morally unfit. That unfitness has been at all times too manifest in French history. It was very recently displayed in the reliance of the late Emperor upon an iniquitous seizure of Belgium, a friendly and allied state, as the means of strengthening his own popularity.

Feelings of friendship to a recent ally may naturally affect Englishmen; but we should remember that in most continental wars we are only spectators of the strife, and it is not our part to indulge in sentimental preferences that may prove fatal to other nations. If French domination be unfavourable to the peace of Europe, as history proves it to have been, that fact should be decisive for us. Such is the opinion of the best continental writers, and one of the best known (M. Laveleye) thus writes in an English periodical published since these sheets went to press :

* The various Governments that have succeeded each other in France have always been too ready to divert the attention of the country from home to foreign affairs. They insist on maintaining their “legitimate influence,” that is, on domineering over their neighbours. The Restoration makes the Spanish war ; the peaceful Louis Philippe occupies Ancona, and suffers himself to be driven to the very brink of a general war, in order to maintain the Viceroy of Egypt ; M. Guizot insists on interfering in Switzerland to assist the Jesuits ; Finally, Napoleon III. undertakes the Crimean War for a monks' squabble, the Italian War for an idea, the expedition to Rome for the defence of the Pope, that of Mexico for the exaltation of the Latin race, and finally, the War with Prussia for no reason at all.' *

Such is the view of a calm and impartial authority favourably known in England by his works; and it gives the present writer some confidence in his own conclusions upon several points, to find that they are shared by M. Laveleye. Especially does that eminent statis

* An article in the February No. of The Fortnightly,' entitled Causes of War in the existing European Situation.'

tician agree in the opinion that a Russo-French alliance is a serious danger of the future, that Germany is by nature pacific, and that the traditional policy of England points to a German rather than a French alliance.

That a German alliance should be the basis of our foreign relations seems, indeed, hardly doubtful; whether it could be so enlarged as to greatly consolidate the power of the pacific States as argued in these

pages,

the reader must decide.

The writer makes no pretension to support his views by new evidence or by authorities little known. After reading much that has been written on both sides of the question, he has generally quoted the writers best known or within everybody's reach, seeking rather to collect known facts and present them as links in one chain of argument than to adduce fresh evidence, which might itself be questioned.

The author owes especial thanks to the proprietors of · The Graphic,' by whose kind permission he is enabled to reproduce the famous Project of Treaty' fac-simile.

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