Archibald Alison.

History of Europe from the fall of Napoleon in MDCCCXV to the accession of Louis Napoleon in MDCCCLI (Volume 1) online

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Aathor of the " History of Europe from the Commencement of the French
KoToIution, in 1789, to the Battle of Waterloo," &c. &c.




329 & 3 31 PEARL STREET,

1 8 7 5.


During a period of peace the eras of
history can not be so clearly perceived on
a first and superficial glance as when they
are marked by the decisive events of war ;
but they are not on that account the less
obvious when their respective limits have
been once ascertained. The triumphs of
parties in the Senate-House or the Forum
are not, in general, followed by the same
immediate and decisive results as those of
armies in the field ; and their consequen-
ces are often not fully developed for several
years after they have taken place. But
they are equally real and decisive. The
results do not follow with less certainty
from the movements which have pi'eceded
them. It is in tracing these results, and
connecting them with the changes in leg-
islation or opinion in which they origina-
ted, that the great interest and utility of
the history of pacific periods consist.

The periods which have passed over dur-
ing the thirty-seven years of European na-
tional peace — from the Fall of Napoleon,
in 1815, to the Accession of Louis Napol-
eon, in 1852 — are not so vividly marked as
those which occurred during the wars of
the French Revolution, but they have a
distinctness of their own, and the changes
in which they terminated were not less
important. The resumption of cash pay-
ments in England in 1819 was not, to
outward appearance, so striking an event
as the battle of Austerlitz, but it was fol-
lowed by results of equal permanent im-
portance. The Reform Bill was not the
cause of so visible a change in human af-
fairs as the battle of Wagram, but it was
attended with consequences equally grave
and lasting. Without pretending to have
discerned with perfect accuracy, as yet,
the most important of the many important
events which have signalized this memo-
rable era, it may be stated that it natu-
rally divides itself into five periods.

The First, commencing with the entry
of the Allies into Paris after the fall of
Napoleon, terminates with the passing of
the Currency Act of 1819 in England, and
the great creation of peers in the demo-

cratic interest during the same year iii
France. The effects of the measures pur-
sued during this period were not perceived
at the time, but they are very apparent
now. The seeds which produced such de-
cisive results in after times were all sown
during its continuance. It forms the sub-
ject of the first volume, now submitted to
the public.

The Second Period is still more clearly
marked ; for it begins with the entire es-
tablishment of a Liberal government and
system of administration in France in
1819, and ends with the Revolution M'hicli
overthrew Charles X. in 1830. Foreign
transactions begin, during this era, to be-
come of importance ; for it embraces the
revolutions of Spain, Portugal, Naples, and
Piedmont in 1820 ; the rise of Greece as
an independent state in the same year,
and the important wars of Russia with
Turkey and Persia in 1828 and 1829 ;
and the vast conquests of England in In-
dia over the Goorkhas and Burmese em-
pire. This period will be embraced in
the second volume of this history. The
topics it embraces are more various and
exciting than those in the first, but they
are not more important : they are the
growth which followed the seeds previ-
ously sown. England and France were
still the leaders in the movement ; the
convulsions of the world were but the
consequence of the throes in them.

The Third Period commences with the
great debate on the Reform Bill — of two
years' continuance — in England in 1831,
and ends with the overthrow of the Whig
Ministry, by the election of October, 1841.
The great and lasting efiects of the change
in the Constitution of Great Britain, by the
passing of the Reform Act, partially devel-
oped themselves during this period ; and
the return of Sir Robert Peel to ])ower
Avas the first great reaction against thorn
During the same time, the natural efii^cls
of the Revolution in France ajjpeared in
the government, unavoidable in the cir-
cumstances, of mingled force and corrup-
tion of Louis Philippe, and the growth of

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tlis-coutoul iu llio infVrior classes of sooiely,
liiMU the ilisajijioiutinont olthoir oxpecta-
iions as to tho rosults oflho previous con-
vulsion. Foreign ei)isoiles of surpassing
interest signalize this period ; for it con-
;ains the heroic ellort of the Poles to re-
store their national imlojienilence in 1831 ;
llie revolt of Ibrahim Pacha, the bombard-
ment of Acre, and the narrow escape of
Turkey from ruin ; our invasion of Af-
jihanistan. and subsequent disaster there.
This period, so rich in important changes
ami interesting events, Mill form the sub-
ject of the third volume.

The Tourth Period, commencing with
tiie noble constancy in adversity displayed
by Sir Robert Peel and the Enghsh Gov-
ernment in 18-12, terminates with the over-
ilirow of Louis Philippe, and consequent
European Eevolutions in February, 1848.
It" these years were fraught with internal
and social changes of the very highest
moment to the future fortunes of Great
Britain, and of the whole civilized Avorld,
lliey were not less distinguished by the
brilliancy of her external triumphs. They
v.itnessed the second expedition into Af-
ghanistan and capture of Cabul; the con-
clusion of a glorious peace with China
under the "walls of Nankin ; the conquest
of Scinde, and desperate passage of arms
on the Sutlej. Never did appear in such
striking colors the immense superiority
\\ hich the arms of civilization had ac-
quired over those of barbarism, as in this
brief and animating period.

The Fifth Period commences Avith the
overthrow of Louis Philippe in Februa-
ry, 1848, and terminates with the seizure

Online LibraryArchibald AlisonHistory of Europe from the fall of Napoleon in MDCCCXV to the accession of Louis Napoleon in MDCCCLI (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 127)