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rage England or the "Bund." The Conference was a failure simply because France would take no part in its deliberations. France was there to be the dignified spectator of an unruly discussion-the one calm, well-bred individual in a brawling company. While one screamed the "Schlei!" and another yelled the "Dannewerk!" France only smiled blandly on each, gently hinting how honourable were all strong convictions, and how refreshing it was to witness such ardour in an age that had been reproached with its cold infidelity. She saw, in fact, that by simply waiting "the lights would be put out," and she knew who'd get the money.
The power of the unknown number is incommensurable," was a maxim of the First Napoleon, and in the reserve-in the unexpressed determination—of the present Emperor, lies all his weight at this moment. The press of Germany assures him that the hour is coming in which he will destroy for ever the boasted maritime supremacy of England, and humble the Power that has so long been mistress of the seas. The English papers assure him that he may have the Rhine for the asking! and thus this accident of an accident, by our unstatesmanlike courses, by our want of foresight, and our utter forgetfulness of even late history, is now the master of Europe.
We have done for this man all that genius, which he has not, and all that craft, which he has, could possibly have done for him. We have broken up all the coalitions which years of common danger had cemented, and the friendships we had pledged when fighting side by side for the same cause; we have made him great, not from any qualities of greatness in himself, but because we brought ourselves so low that we stand humbled before him.
All that the great Emperor could not do with his genius, the little Emperor has done by our folly. What the grandest conceptions and
VOL. XCVI.-NO. DLXXXVI.
the greatest calculations failed to accomplish, we have brought about by the insensate stupidity of not believing that an insignificant intellect may become dominant in an age of mediocrity, and that there are eras in life in which the craft of a conspirator can take the place of the statesman. I am quite sure we ought never to have gone to war about Denmark. Her cause was not at any time one of that clear, palpable, unmistakable nature that justifies going to war for. It would have been like trying to settle a case in equity by a duel! The Danish question was precisely one for a Chancery suit, and it might have followed the fortunes of one if it had not been that a very small Prussian, M. Bismarck, had got into his head the ambition of being a great Minister. To turn off the attention of the Radicals at home he got up the row abroad; and we, instead of aiding the Liberal party, as we might and ought to have done, by unmasking his roguery, and showing that the attack on Denmark was a mere fraud,actually took him at his word, and affected to believe him to be the advanced-guard of German Liberalism, the herald of that mighty spirit that comes out every fifty years or so, to sing, "Wo ist das Deutsches Vaterland?" Dumas tells us somewhere of a mayor in France that endowed his native town with a lake, but which, as it was only three inches deep at its deepest part, nobody would accept as a real piece of water, till one day, by some accident, a wild duck, a solitary bird of eccentric taste, actually descended and alighted on the pond; taking it, as he quaintly says, "au sérieux.' From that hour the mayor's triumph was assured. Now Lord Russell performed the wild duck to M. Bismarck's lake; and had henever gone paddling there, the water would have dried up long ago, and the stench of the swamp would have kept off all invaders.
Bismarck never believed in Schleswig-Holstein any more than the
mayor believed in the water. was that "Duck" of ours did it all. Why won't he keep to his own puddles, where he can do no mischief?
"I told you it was water," screams Bismarck;" and you see I was right. Look at Russell: he is come down to bathe in it." This was the beginning of the mess. The second stage was a speech-an extra-parliamentary utterance, as the 'Times,' with a superfetation of bad phraseology, styles it. Now, whether it be some old remnant of the public school that survives in our statesmen or not, I cannot say, but certainly vacation always seems too much for them; and when the parliamentary "half" is over, they appear to take leave of their wits. It was at such a moment as this the Foreign Secretary told Russia she had forfeited her claim to Poland, and also informed Germany that on the day she attacked Denmark, she'd find somebody else in the Baltic that she didn't look for.
Now, this was all Bismarck want ed. To make Germany believe that his little war was a great national movement, was his real difficulty. To persuade the forty millions of beer-drinking dreamers that somebody had said something disrespectful of sauer kraut was not an easy task. No one in Europe troubles his head much about Germany in ordinary times, and to imagine that they would get up a fervour about freedom, and lash themselves into an ecstasy on the subject of liberty, seemed as likely as that the hippopotamus in the Zoological Gardens should insist on being permitted to dance on the tight-rope.
The German devotion to liberty -this sudden uprising in favour of freedom-is somewhat droll; but Alphonse Karr says that "the liberty of the press is indescribably dear to that interesting portion of the population who can't read ;" so, possibly, it is the unknown that gives the charm to this German infatuation, as "distance lends enchantment to the view."
At all events, they got up a white-heat patriotism. It glowed, it flared, and it sputtered all the more vigorously, perhaps, that France only smiled and said, "How picturesque !" When one of the minor theatres parodied the Italian drama, it was Paul Bedford performed the part of Medea. It is needless to say what a shock such a
travestie gave to all who really enjoyed the great personation of Ristori. In exactly the same taste and spirit do we see the new piece, the regeneration of Germany, announced the part of Garibaldi by M. Bismarck.
Now to give an illustration. If the late Mr Palmer of Rugely, some days after his conviction, had expressed a strong desire to be elected President of the Humane Society, would not the ambition have excited some question at least as to his motives? And in the name of all common sense, was not Bismarck just as notorious as Palmer? was there anything that the one had not done to extinguish life that the other had not tried to stifle liberty? Palmer laughed at and derided the tests employed to unmask him ; so did Bismarck. Palmer made "his book" to win by putting his antagonist out of the way—so did Bismarck. I only wish I could carry my comparison farther. At all events, would it not have been possible to show the German peopleI don't mean the narrow-minded Berlin folk, the smallest, meanest, most poor-spirited population Í ever encountered, but the great kraut-eating, solid, and, in the main, right-hearted German nation—that this man Bismarck meant no good by them? He was like a man encouraging a mob to attack a smith's shop that he might obtain the handcuffs to put on his followers afterwards. By what freak of imagination could any one convert him who had defied the Parliament, and threatened to impose taxation by a royal edict, into an apostle of Liberty?
What were our Ministers and
envoys doing in Germany not to have shown our Foreign Office the danger that was impending, and the urgent necessity there existed for promptly unmasking this man's designs, and showing the great German people that he could never be taken as the exponent of their wishes the representative of their hopes?
It must be owned that the Whigs have a sort of knack of this kind of bungling. When Daniel O'Connell had stamped himself as a rebel, the Whig Government of the day whitewashed him into a patriot; and now that Bismarck has outraged the Chamber and denounced the Constitution, our Ministers have stepped in with a bill of indemnity, and agreed to regard him as the incarnate soul of an awak ened Germany. And as if this was not enough, they have, by holding out false hopes to Denmark, encouraged a resistance, to overcome which, has converted Bismarck into a hero!
When the history of our time shall be written, it will puzzle posterity to account for the amount of influence wielded in it by men so palpably third-rate in ability, nor will the riddle be explained without adverting to the calibre of those who opposed them. Then will it be seen how small was the stature that ranked as a giant amongst pigmies.
Still, no great cleverness was needed either to detect this fraud or unmask it; and I would ask, What were our envoys doing in Germany? Why did they not neutralise this man's influence? Why not expose the rotten treachery by which he was entrapping the nation into a war whose only issue must be its own subjugation? And why did our own Foreign Office accept him in the character of a liberator?
The simple truth is, we were out-manœuvred and jockeyed. We wanted to bully the Diet, and called in the assistance of Prussia; but "the man in blue" was not a po
liceman, as we believed, but the chief of the gang, and the very first to rob the premises.
Having told the Danes that they should not be left to themselves, it was somewhat difficult to get out of our scrape when the time of trial approached. We did this, however, ingeniously. We made proposals to them, as the price of our friendship, so humiliating that we deemed them impossible of acceptance. They disappointed us; they agreed to everything. The Allies, however, seeing that Denmark was to be disposed of by auction, *outbid us, and we gave up the lot that had been actually knocked down to us.
We then called for a Conference. The word Congress was not palatable; and as modest people put "tea" on their cards when they mean an evening party, we only said Conference, not Congress.
Let any one imagine thirteen men, quibblers by profession, and obstructive through the force of habit, met together to agree on a question where each had a strong interest in differing from all the rest, and where any possible plan could never have the approval of more than the man who proposed it. Let him figure to his mind thirteen nationalities stimulated by all their characteristic prejudices, and goaded on by the language, more or less inflammatory, of their respective newspapers, and say whether these deliberations were likely to lead to peace.
Through the fragments that have reached us we can form some notion of the task of him whose doings most nearly concern us. our Foreign Secretary; and certainly no man ever seemed more inexhaustible in resources of which nobody cared to avail himself. Whatever he proposed was immediately scouted. He recommended a line of demarcation-neither side would hear of it; he suggested another-they got sulky and refused it; he counselled an arbitration, and named the arbiter-and immediately the company got up and walked home.
Now, while all this was going on— and remember, it was not our quarrel at all; we had only lent our front parlour to the gentlemen who were to settle it we were made the mark of all the abuse and vituperation of Europe. For a while, indeed, it startled us to be called braggarts and bullies, faithless allies and treacherous friends; but we got accustomed to even worse, and grew to see ourselves written down cowards in that guttural language whose most endearing word sounds like an imprecation.
If we burned and destroyed every old rotten Prussian town in the Baltic to-morrow · -no very great achievement-it would no more repay us for all the insolence that we have put up with, than does the infliction of a forty-shilling fine on the cabman recompense the gentleman whom he has blackguarded for an hour in a crowded thoroughfare.
The Germans are not bad people, but they are grob, which is something more than rude, something compounded of insolence and stupidity. The fraction of right they had in this quarrel excited their imaginations; their success in arms, like all unaccustomed sensations, turned their heads completely, for though Döppel was on a hill, it was so unlike Jena!
We fared badly in the negotiations, and came ill out of the Conference. We are insulted, outraged, and reviled from one end of the Continent to the other. We are told that our influence is ended in Europe, and that the sooner we recognise our position as a fourthrate Power the happier will it be for us. Our fair - spoken ally, France, too, who has had good words for everybody-pity for the Danes and praise for the Prussians -tells us that in our aquatic capacity we may make some noise, but as a terrestrial people we are nothing, and that in our "little war," if we make one, nobody need be inconvenienced; and yet with all this-not very pleasant to bear
-I agree, provided we do not go to war against Germany, and thus offer our open flank to the assault of an ally far more dangerous than all our enemies. The Germans will one day get over their indigestion. Much ought to be forgiven to the eaters of sauer kraut. They will recover, not their good manners, for they have lost none, but their good-humour, which they once had; they will see that they have been cheated by their own leaders, and will make a sort of amende to us in some stupid way of their own. But the French will hate as they have always hated us; and their Emperor, if the hour comes that he can slip his bloodhounds against us, will attach to his name and his dynasty a loyalty that all the conquests of the Continent would never bring him.
If the fight is to come, let it be a fair one; let us not come into the ring with an arm tied; and for this reason I say, No war with Germany, nor any Continental war in which France has not pronounced the side she takes.
Above all, no little wars; and the best way to avoid them is, no Conferences. I know something of the sort of people who assemble at these councils; and I declare solemnly, I do not think there is a question in religion, ethics, or even art, that thirteen diplomatists could discuss without thirteen separate and divergent opinions.
Their profession, if we may dignify their calling by the name, teaches little beyond hair-splitting; and the highest ambition of any is, to connect his name with some treaty or some convention that may hand him down, in connection with another like himself, to a posterity that in all likelihood will be grateful to neither of them. Imagine thirteen doctors consulting over a patient, of whom a large majority would rather that the sick man should die, and you have some idea of the late Conference at London.
CHRONICLES OF CARLINGFORD: THE PERPETUAL CURATE.
PART XIV.-CHAPTER XLIII.
THESE were eventful days in Grange Lane, when gossip was not nearly rapid enough to follow the march of events. When Mr Wentworth went to lunch with his family, the two sisters kept together in the drawing-room, which seemed again re-consecrated to the purposes of life. Lucy had not much inclination just at that moment to move out of her chair; she was not sociable, to tell the truth, nor disposed to talk even about the new prospects which were brightening over both. She even took out her needlework, to the disgust of her sister. "When there are so many things to talk about, and so much to be considered," Miss Wodehouse said, with a little indignation; and wondered within herself whether Lucy was really insensible to "what had happened," or whether the sense of duty was strong upon her little sister even in the height of her happiness. A woman of greater experience or discrimination might have perceived that Lucy had retired into that sacred silence, sweetest of all youthful privileges, in which she could dream over to herself the wonderful hour which had just come to an end, and the fair future of which it was the gateway. As for Miss Wodehouse herself, she was in a flutter, and could not get over the sense of haste and confusion which this last new incident had brought upon her. Things were going too fast around her, and the timid woman was out of breath. Lucy's composure at such a moment, and, above all, the production of her needlework, was beyond the comprehension of the elder sister.
"My dear," said Miss Wodehouse, with an effort, "I don't doubt that these poor people are badly off, and I am sure it is very good of you to work for them; but if you will only think how many things there
are to do! My darling, I am afraid you will have to-to make your own dresses in future, which is what I never thought to see," she said, putting her handkerchief to her eyes; "and we have not had any talk about anything, Lucy, and there are so many things to think of!" Miss Wodehouse, who was moving about the room as she spoke, began to lift her own books and special property off the centre table. The books were principally ancient Annuals in pretty bindings, which no representation on Lucy's part could induce her to think out of date; and among her other possessions was a little desk in Indian mosaic, of ivory, which had been an institution in the house from Lucy's earliest recollection. "And these are yours, Lucy dear," said Miss Wodehouse, standing up on a chair to take down from the wall two little pictures which hung side by side. They were copies both, and neither of great value; one representing the San Sisto Madonna, and the other a sweet St Agnes, whom Lucy had in her earlier days taken to her heart. Lucy's slumbering attention was roused by this sacrilegious act. She gave a little scream, and dropped her work out of her hands.
"What do I mean?" said Miss Wodehouse; "indeed, Lucy dear, we must look it in the face. It is not our drawing-room any longer, you know." Here she made a pause, and sighed; but somehow a vision of the other drawing-room which was awaiting her in the new rectory, made the prospect less doleful than it might have been. cleared up in a surprising way as she turned to look at her own property on the table. "My cousin Jack gave me this," said the gentle woman, brushing a little dust off her pretty desk. "When it came