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rock-defended shores, we might thunder away to any extent ;
but, in our present helpless state, 2 it seems to me that to
persist in irritating France is a luxury for which we may
pay dearly ; every newspaper, at the same time, overflowing
with proofs of national panic, and the most naif indications

1 See, among many others, the articles in the Times of January 14th, 15th,
16th, and 17th. It has been seen (ante, p. 249) that Eeeve acknowledges them
as his.

2 This helpless state of the country is a subject to which Clarendon
frequently refers. After visiting at the Grove in the following October, Mrs.
Eeeve wrote to her father : ' Nothing can exceed the alarm expressed on the
subject of invasion and the absence of preparations for defending our coasts. A
French general is reported to have said : " The decree for the annexation of
Belgium will be dated from London ; " ' but no one at the Grove seems to have
asked how they were to cross the Channel.

VOL. I. 3


of where we can be best attacked and how most easily

In reply to this, Reeve forwarded to Lord Clarendon a
copy of his correspondence with Lord Granville, and received
the following answer :

Dublin Castle, February 9th. I return your very able
and excellent letter to Granville, with many thanks for
letting me see it.

I never dreamt of denying or questioning the right of the
press to denounce in the strongest terms the acts of the
President ; but I entirely agree with you when you say,
' there is of course a limit to be observed in all this,' and
I think the limit has been overstepped. It was sound policy
to put England on her guard ; it was absolutely necessary
to rouse our countrymen from the apathetic habits and
utilitarian selfishness engendered by a long peace, and to
stimulate public opinion in favour of the principles we hold
dear, and which, at no distant day, we may be called upon to
defend. Now all this has been done, but I think it has been
overdone. The same effect might have been produced with
a much less expenditure of ammunition. We might have
secured all our objects at home and not have given so much
offence abroad. The press either does or does not express
the public opinion of England. If the latter, it should not
assume to speak as if it was so backed ; if the former, then
England voluntarily steps forward to exasperate the man
who had, and still retains, power enough to keep thirty-two
millions of Frenchmen in hand, and who can at any moment
detach from his army of 400,000 men a force sufficient to
avenge the insults offered to him by the English nation.

I am no advocate of truckling, as I need hardly say, and
still less of any exhibition of cowardice, though every news-
paper that thundered against Louis Napoleon swarmed with
proofs of the national panic ; but I simply want to keep the
peace, and to give a neighbour no pretext for war ; and I
think that the press, after performing its proper functions,
has been unnecessarily provocative.

Nor can I altogether admit the grounds upon which this
seems to be justified ; for you say ' It is the business of a


newspaper to say what it thinks, every day, on all the topics
of public interest, both at home and abroad.' If this is
to be, irrespective of the harm it may do, it is irresponsibility
as great as Louis Napoleon's ; and such power as the press
now possesses, if irresponsible, will become an intolerable
despotism. You refer to the cases of Gladstone and Pal-
merston as having more outstepped their duty than any
newspaper ; and I fully admit it as regards Palmerston,
whose circulation of the pamphlet was unprecedented and
unwarrantable ; but I think that Gladstone, an independent
gentleman, after a lengthened residence at Naples, was quite
within the line of duty to make known the result of his
observations. The cause of humanity and justice required
that they should not be kept secret ; but if he had continued
a series of pamphlets, or if he had daily published some
fresh atrocities of the Neapolitan Government, and heaped
fresh odium on the king, I should then have thought he
went beyond his duty, that he had lost sight of what were
supposed to be his original objects, and that he would injure
the victims he meant to save, by making it a point of
honour in the king not to yield to foreign dictation.

The reign of Louis Napoleon may be ephemeral ; but if
it lasts a few months longer, rely upon it there will be deser-
tions enough even from the Salons, whose attitude is now
so dignified to rescue him from his state of present isola-
tion ; and every man who deserts will make common cause
with him against those who denounce his system. You
have some reliance upon the grateful feeling of France, for
the manner in which the cause of liberty and truth has been
upheld by us. I confess I have none ; nor indeed can it
fairly be expected in this case; for while we have placed
Louis Napoleon's acts in their true light, we have necessarily
shown also the position which the French people occupy in
the eyes of the world.

The injured and outraged exiles now in England and
Belgium applaud and thank us for what we are doing ; and
if their gratitude on being restored to their country differs
from that of the emigres in 1814, I shall be equally surprised
and pleased. You are a better judge than I can pretend to
be of how truly the press has represented public opinion on

s 2


this subject ; but, as far as my experience goes, I should say
that the onslaught has been considered too violent and too
long continued.

The Journal here has :

Thiers had arrived in England on January 16th. I
dined with him at Edward Ellice's in Arlington Street. On
February 1st I took him and Jules de Lasteyrie to Novar's
pictures ; and on the 9th he dined with us, to meet the
Molesworths, Lord Lovelace, Lord Wodehouse, Baron
Bentinck, F. Cadogan.

Constant dinners in February with the Grotes, Senior,
Thiers, Morier, Molesworths, Duke of Newcastle, Lord
Crewe, Prince Nicholas of Nassau, Van de Weyers, Lord
Normanby. Luncheon at Lady Alice Peel's. R6musat
was in town.

On February 16th, the Government, as has been said,
was defeated ; and on the 20th Lord John Russell announced
their intention of resigning: as to which Lord Clarendon
wrote :

The Liberals who were doing everything to thwart the
Government are now probably blaspheming against Lord
John for his precipitation, but I think he did quite right to
take the first unmistakeable hint and not wait to be kicked
out. ... I am curious to know who will be my successor.

The Journal continues :

April ~Lst. Christine was presented at the Drawing-room
by Lady Clarendon.

Went to Paris at Easter with Christine.

Aprilllth. At Princess Lieven's met M. Guizot, Prince
Nicholas of Nassau, Mole", Lahitte, and Morny.

14th. Morning with music in Ary Scheffer's atelier.
Cavaignac there with his bride. Home on April 20th.
This visit to Paris was very interesting.

Mrs. Reeve thought so too, and wrote to her father on
April 15th:-

'I don't believe any Englishwoman ever came here
under such auspices as I have. Henry knows every inch of


Paris and all the distinguished people. We have engage-
ments till the day we start (Monday), and might have many
more, and he does take the greatest pleasure in showing me
everything. The weather is lovely clear, bright, and
warm. I do not write praises of buildings, galleries, and
museums, or of views, &c., because, as you must have seen
them, you can take for granted my astonishment and

May 15th. Expedition to Gosport with Christine and
John Richardson to see Granville Loch's ship the ' Win-
chester ' [a 50-gun frigate, going out to the East Indies as
the flag-ship of Rear- Admiral Charles Austen].

May Vdtli. Queen's ball. To Bracknell for the Ascot

To M. de Tocqueville

16 Chester Square, May 23rd.

MY DEAR FRIEND, I have just read, with great interest,
a letter you wrote lately to Mrs. Grote, and as I must
renounce the pleasure of conversing with you for the present,
I obey an impulse which leads me to answer you in

I am doubtless less inclined than most of my fellow-
countrymen to admit that we can isolate ourselves from
matters which affect the liberty of other nations and the
general good of humanity, nor am I one of those who take
off their hats to a man because he has succeeded in founding
an inconceivable despotism. Yet neither can I hide from
myself that for fifty years all our efforts in favour of
constitutional liberty on the Continent have had very little
result. In one place, the soil has refused the good seed, as
in the Gospel ; in another, men have uprooted it; every-
where the harvest is bad. Between mixed politics and
mixed breeding there is so much similarity ; when the cross
is too different, it is barren.

Happily for England, this is neither her principal mission
nor her first duty. If she has not succeeded in founding
anything durable on the Continent of Europe, the same
cannot be said of the rest of the globe ; and whilst we see
the fires we have kindled among European nations, dying
out because they do not know how to keep them alight, we


are invincibly attracted to America and Australia, which are
the awakening of a world. Never was England less disposed
to shut herself up in her isle, and devote herself exclusively
to manufacturing cottons, and rearing fine oxen. On the
contrary, the greatest questions rise before her. Our fraternal
relations with the United States, the Government of Canada
so sensitive, the exodus of the Catholic people of Ireland,
who seek a happier destiny elsewhere, leaving at our doors
an island they have never known how to cultivate, the
astonishing developement of the Australian continent, the
rapid march of civilisation in the Eastern islands, and the
government of India, with its marvellous problems these
are the first duties of the English statesman, and if it be
selfishness, the self is a very large one. For note that I do
not say we ought to govern this empire according to English
views, or for the benefit of England. That would be a very
cramped way of considering it. But we ought to found free
states wherever we have the power and right ; and these,
I am persuaded, will one day justify the somewhat fantastic
saying of Canning, who boasted of having raised up a new
world to restore the balance of the old. Whatever may be
the fate of Europe, if these efforts are successful, the general
cause of liberty and civilisation will not suffer.

It is true that the complete fall of constitutional govern-
ment in France has profoundly grieved and astonished all
those who had a sure and rational belief in the system which
France has practised so brilliantly for thirty-three years.
But it is said that, of all countries in the world, France is,
and rightly so, the one least likely to endure the influence of
foreign ideas ; and thus her actual condition places us in
this dilemma either she is tamely submitting to a power
she dislikes, or she does not really dislike it. On this point
I am without any clear or fixed ideas. All the intelligence,
the aristocracy of birth or education, is doubtless very
hostile to the empire. But there was a wish for democracy, a
demand for the sovereignty of the people ; things identical
with absolute power and empire. This is what seems to me to
separate the rule of L. N. from an ordinary despotism, and,
taking the facts as they are, it is the condition of the
country which should be found fault with, rather than the


man who turns it to his profit in a manner which is without

I will only add a word on our fears and warlike prepara-
tions. I agree with you that, so far as one can judge, war is
by no means imminent, and that the wish is to avoid it at
all costs. I will even say that I doubt the warlike disposition
of France, to the extent of thinking that other nations are
readier to fight. But what guided our policy in this matter
was that we found ourselves face to face with an immense
force, whose movements could not be depended upon ; and
nearly all the French statesmen whom we were able to
consult warned us to be on our guard ; many of them believed
that some foreign coup was imminent. As a matter of fact
we fear nothing on that score at present ; but it has taken
some months of vigorous preparation to enable us to say so. . .

The Journal notes here :

July 13th. Dined at M. de Bille's (Danish Minister) to-
meet Lavradio. . . .

14:th. Dined at Senior's with M. de Cavour, Lord
Lansdowne, and the Twisletons.

28th. Evening at the Eoyal Academy. The Duke of
Wellington was there. It was the last time I saw him. I
had the proof of my memoir 1 of him in my pocket. He
died on September 14th.

Fit of gout in August. Started for Aix with Christine
and Hopie on the 8th.

To M. de Tocqueville

Aix-la-Chapelle, August Ilth. See the result of human
plans ! To-day, when I should have been with you, listening
to your conversation and breathing the air of your cliffs,
here I am, by the doctor's orders, on the banks of a stream
which is none the less wearisome because Charlemagne
delighted in it. Still, it is a considerable improvement for
a man who could not walk a few days ago, to be able to
figure among the maimed of the place, and I hope that a
short stay will complete my cure.

1 Times, September 15th, ICth.


I should have liked to see how France looked when
power put on a newer and gentler aspect. When someone
has taken everything from you, a vast deal of gratitude is of
course due for whatever his highness deigns to give back.
The wonder is not that Thiers and M. de Bemusat should
be recalled to their country, but that they should ever have
been sent out of it. But we are made thus ; we allow
ourselves to be thrashed, and when the executioner stops,
are overcome with gratitude. Never was so good a prince
seen ! In spite of all Thiers's vehement language against
his persecutor, I should not be greatly surprised to see him
reconciled with the ^lys^e. It is only vanity which prevents
him. He often said in London, ' It is not possible that I
who have treated great affairs with men like Prince Metter-
nich and Sir B. Peel should consent to put myself at the
head of these adventurers.' But successful adventurers
are sometimes emperors ; and if Thiers thought he could
give full play to his shameless political imagination at the
expense of France, he would be more at his ease as minister
of a despotic than of a constitutional state.

I cannot close this letter without again expressing my
own and my wife's regret at the mishap which has upset
our journey ; but we will try to end it where we had meant
to begin.

The Journal continues :

From Aix-la-Chapelle we went by the Bhine to Geneva.
Visit to Binet. To Chamonix, with the Binets, on August
30th. "Went with Christine round Mont Blanc by the Col
du Bonhomme, and so to Aosta and the St. Bernhard. Went
to see the Due de Broglie at Coppet. Home by Pans.

October 127i. To Newmarket with Mrs. Grote, to see the
Cesarewitch. Visits to Stondon and Atherstone, and to the
Grove, October 30th.

November 5th. Farnborough ; hunting. Bun with
Assheton Smith on the llth ; got the head of the fox.

18^. The Duke of Wellington's funeral at St. Paul's.
On the 28th, dined at Bath House with Thiers.

December 2nd. The French Empire was proclaimed. I
dined that day at Lansdowne House with Thiers, Lord


Aberdeen, Macready, Senior, Ed. Ellice, Vernon Smith, Lord
Mahon, Lord de Mauley, and West.

The Cosmopolitan Club was founded, meeting first at
Morier's. Morier, Layard, and myself were the first

From M. Guizot

Paris, December 2nd. I have laughed at the reports you
mention of my supposed approval of what is happening here.
Similar rumours reach me from Germany ; they have
evidently been carefully circulated. I do not worry myself
about it, for experience has strengthened my instinctive
confidence that, in respect of those who have the honour of
being known to the public, the truth is always recognised
in the end. It is well known here that, of all men in France,
I am the furthest from approving of what has passed in
France since 1848. . . For thirty-eight years I have been
devoted to the cause of constitutional monarchy, which I
have always regarded as the wisest and noblest form of
government. But it is to true and truly constitutional
monarchy that I belong ; falsehood decked out as royalty
or liberty I cannot endure. Please say this from me to all
those you may hear speak of my adhesion to the ridiculous
and shameful comedy in whose honour I hear the cannon
at this moment. After what happened in 1848 it was
inevitable and deserved, which is all I can say in its favour.

He goes on speak at great length of the general coldness,
the want of enthusiasm with which the Emperor had been
received. The masses of the people have voted for the
Empire to get rid of the republic which they mistrusted, to
guard against the anarchy which they feared ; but they have
no confidence in the future, and are full of apprehensions of
financial confusion and war. The attitude of the upper
classes remains much the same as it was. They did not like
the President ; they like the Emperor still less. They would
not support the President ; they certainly will not support
the Emperor, but they will not make any active opposition
to his government ; the masses cannot or dare not ; any
attempt would certainly be severely repressed ; and the army
is pledged to the Empire which can now only be over-
thrown by its own act and fault. And he continues in
language which reads like the outpourings of a prophet :


Will these faults be soon committed ? I very much
doubt it. This man is a strange mixture of rashness and
patience, of fatalism and prudent calculation ; he believes in
his star ; he follows it, and in his inmost soul is resolved to
follow it to the end ; but at the same time he fights against
it, and does not blindly rush to that end. Of late he has
advanced rapidly ; more rapidly, in my opinion, than was
to his advantage, but he is able to check himself and to wait.
He has not, like his uncle, an inexhaustible fertility of
genius, and an insatiable ardour of character ; on the contrary,
he is slow and indolent ; he loves pleasure and leisure. He
will get what enjoyment he can out of his position ; he will
do and say whatever is necessary to prevent Europe from
disquieting herself about him, and will postpone as long as
possible the taking of any compromising step towards
realising his ambitious dreams.

But the moment will come ; I am convinced of it. A
fatalist may struggle for a time against the destiny to which
he believes himself called ; but sooner or later he will yield
and throw himself into it. Besides, something must be done
to amuse and occupy France. Our country is a prey to two
contradictory cravings ; a craving for repose, and a craving
for new and violent emotions. She wishes to have her
interests assured, but also to have her imagination satisfied
at the same time. It was for this that Napoleon I. gave her
war, and that we instituted the tribune. I think the new
Emperor would like to follow the policy of Louis Philippe,
without the tribune, under the name of Napoleon, without
the war ; but he will not succeed ; and when he finds this
out, he will return, either as conqueror or conspirator, to
the traditions of the Empire whose flag he is now raising.
Whether he wishes it or not, this is his future ; I am con-
vinced that he does wish it, but he will endeavour rather
to retard than to hasten it. Those in his confidence
already show themselves eager to find some means of filling
the stage and amusing the spectators without seeking
great adventures. M. Fould said the other day : ' We
shall have the marriage in the spring, the coronation in
the summer, the heir in March 1854, and then we shall


The Journal notes :

December Yltli. Lord Derby resigned, and negotiations
began for a coalition of Peelites and Whigs : Lord Aberdeen

And the year 1852 ended with the accustomed visit to
Mr. Longman at Farnborough, and afterwards to Ventnor,
where Mrs. Austin was then living.

The year 1853, so notable from the diplomatic point of
view as the date of the growing quarrel with Russia, which
in the following year culminated in war, is, from the bio-
grapher's point of view, notable as the date of Reeve's begin-
ning a journal of current events in addition to the curt
entries in his diary. Sometimes written continuously and in
considerable detail, sometimes very briefly and with long gaps
intervening, it reaches down to 1877, and for these years
forms the staple material to elucidate and connect the volu
minous correspondence,

January 1st. It was at the close of the year 1852 that
Lord Derby's administration was suddenly terminated by a
vote of the House of Commons on Mr. Disraeli's budget.
This cabinet had existed about ten months upon false pre-
tences and without a policy. The bubble broke on the first
shock of serious debate ; and on the first disputed vote, the
Government was beaten by 19 in the fullest House ever known.
I think all the members except twenty-five took part in the
vote. Upon this occurrence the Queen at once sent for Lord
Aberdeen and Lord Lansdowne together (December 18th).
But Her Majesty's real intention had long been to place Lord
Aberdeen at the head of the administration, for I think no
mail at this time possesses to an equal degree her confidence
and her regard. I had myself observed, for at least six
months, that Lord Aberdeen was preparing to take office.
The Whigs cherished the notion that Lord Lansdowne
would be sent for, and would accept the task of reconsti-
tuting the Liberal party. I thought otherwise. He was
summoned, however, to lend his sanction to the combina-
tion ; but having taken colchicum the night before, he could
not undertake the journey to the Isle of Wight, and Lord
Aberdeen ultimately went alone.

Lord Lansdowne distinctly declined to undertake the


formation of the Cabinet ; but though Lord Aberdeen con-
tested the point with him, I know he (Lord Aberdeen) had
long made up his mind that no one could unite the elements
of a strong government but himself.

Two important obstacles were to be overcome in this
negotiation. The one, the pretensions of Lord John Russell ;
the other, the ambiguous position of Lord Palmerston, who
had staked all his hopes on the prospect of a Lansdowne
Ministry. In the preceding week a party had met at Woburn,
consisting of Lord Aberdeen, Lord Clarendon, the Duke of
Newcastle, Lord John, and Graham Lord Lansdowne being
too ill to attend it and here no doubt the preliminaries were
laid. But after Lord Derby was out and the formation of
the new Cabinet begun, the truth is that at least three days
elapsed before Lord John definitively consented to join it,
though that was a condition sine qua non. Lord Clarendon
exerted himself with great activity and effect to counteract
his objections ; but everything was kept in suspense by this
hesitation ; and even on Christmas Day Clarendon left
his family and guests at the Grove, to endeavour to
smooth matters in London. Lord John would have pre-
ferred, I think, for his own dignity's sake, to have had no
office, but only a seat in the Cabinet with the lead of
the House. But that might have been regarded as an in-
sincere arrangement, and, as far as he was concerned, an
arrogant one. He ended by taking the Foreign Office, upon
Clarendon's promise that he would relieve him of it when-
ever the business of the Session began. The Whig party
were already sufficiently disposed to grumble at an arrange-
ment which placed so large a portion of the highest offices
and the premiership in the hands of their new allies, and if
Lord John had not done what he was at last persuaded and
compelled to do, the combination must have failed, and we
must have surrendered at discretion to Lord Derby.

The case of Lord Palmerston was an unexpected good
fortune. Lord Aberdeen had gone to him in person to pro-
pose office. Palmerston received him not only with polite-
ness, but with cordiality ; reminded him that they had been

Online LibraryHenry ReeveMemoirs of the life and correspondence of Henry Reeve (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 43)