Wilfrid Richmond.

The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 online

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Europe a breathing spell. But soon Napoleon
again desired war. His victories in Italy, as a
general of the Directory, had first brought him
to the world's notice, and only military glory
could keep France from murmuring at his
rule. Moreover, he aspired frankly to European
empire. On the other hand, the nations felt
that there could be no lasting peace with him
except by complete submission to his will. In
1803, England and France renewed their strife,
and between these powers there was to be no
more truce until Napoleon's fall, eleven years
later. In that time Napoleon fought also three
wars with Austria, two with Prussia, two with
Russia, a long war with Spain, and various mi-
nor conflicts. From 1792 to 1802, the unceas-
ing European wars belong to the Revolutionary
movement. From 1803 to 1815, they are prop-
erly Napoleonic wars, due primarily to the am-
bition of a great military genius. In the first
series, Austria was the chief opponent of the
Revolution; in the second series, England was
the relentless foe of Napoleon.

Napoleon's insight readily divined his true
enemy; but Nelson's great sea fight put an
end to all possibility of directly invading Eng-
land. On the continent, however, victory fol-
lowed victory. After Austerlitz (1805), Aus-
tria gave up. her remaining Italian and Illyrian
territory, and many of her possessions in Ger-
many. After Jena (1807), humiliated Prussia
was reduced half in size, thrust beyond the Elbe,
and bound to France by a shameful treaty.
Less decisive conflict with Russia was followed
by the diplomatic victory of Tilsit (1807). Em-
peror and Tsar entered into friendly alliance.
France was to have a free hand in Western
Europe; Russia was to be permitted to aggran-
dize herself at the expense of Sweden, Turkey,
and Asia; and the two were to join in ruining
England by enforcing Napoleon's ^continental
system.*

The refusal of Portugal to obey Napoleon's
command for the confiscation of English com-
merce led to the seizure of that state. Then
followed a like seizure of Spain, out of which
grew the long Peninsular War, which, as Na-
poleon confessed afterward at St. Helena, was



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HISTORY, MODERN



really the canker that destroyed him. At the
time, however, it seemed trivial, and for five
years after Tilsit Napoleon was master of the
continent. At its greatest extent the huge
bulk of France filled the space from the ocean to
the Rhine, including not only France as we
know it, but also Belgium, half of Switzerland,
and large strips of Germany, while from this
central body two outward-curving arms reached
toward the east, one along the North Sea to
the Danish peninsula, and the other down the
coast of Italy past Rome. The rest of Italy
and half the rest of Germany were under Na-
poleon's protection, ruled as vassal states by his
brothers and generals. Denmark and Switzer-
land were his willing allies, and Prussia and
Austria were unwilling ones. Sweden and
Russia, though nominally his equals, were al-
lowed that dignity only because they upheld his
policy. Only the extremities of the continent, —
the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and England,
and the mountainous Spanish peninsula, — kept
their independence, at the cost of wasting war.

The period was filled with important rear-
rangements for Europe, territorial, political, and
social. Many of these were designed in selfish-
ness; but nearly all were to bear good fruit
In particular, the Germany and Italy of to-day
were made possible by Napoleon's fearless clear-
ing away of old institutions, and by the vigor-
ous impulse he gave to the new forces of polit-
ical unity and social reform.

In Germany, even the territorial rearrange-
ments paved the way for later national unity.
Not only the twelve hundred anarchic terri-
tories of the "knights,* but also the three hun-
dred petty, scattered, despotic principalities, ec-
clesiastical states, and oligarchic city-republics
(with a few exceptions) were absorbed in larger
neighbors ; so that the multitudinous, ill-gov-
erned states of the vanished "Empire* were
consolidated into less than forty. Most of these
reorganized states, outside Austria and Prus-
sia, were further combined in the Confedera-
tion of the Rhine; and in this Confederation,
as well as in the German and Italian territory
annexed to France, and in the various vassal
states over Europe, serfdom and feudalism were
abolished and civil equality and the Code Na-
poleon were introduced. The administration of
justice was made cheap and simple, and the old
clumsy and corrupt methods of government gave
way to order and efficiency.

Most important of all, similar reforms were
adopted in Prussia, not from French pressure,
but by the influence of the Prussian minister,
Stein, who sought to make his country strong
enough to throw off the French yoke and to
regenerate Germany. Napoleon's insolence had
at last forced part of Germany into a new na-
tional patriotism; and that patriotism began
to arm itself by borrowing weapons from the
arsenal of the Revolution.

Napoleon's "continental system,* if embar-
rassing to England, was ruinous to Europe.
Moreover, Tsar Alexander began to suspect
Napoleon of intriguing against him in Finland
and Turkey; and in 1811 he refused longer to
follow Napoleon's commercial policy. Napo-
leon declared war. The destruction of his Grand
Army amid Russian snows was the signal for
the rising of the peoples of Central Europe
in the Wars of Liberation. Napoleon, like a



desperate gamester, refused all terms, and fi-
nally was crushed and deposed. The Bourbon
dynasty was restored to the throne of France,
and the powers met in the Congress of Vienna
(1814-15) to reconstruct the map of Europe.

The Congress of Vienna. — In its desires,
that Congress stood for reaction. Says Fyffe,
"It complacently set to work to turn back the
hands of time to the historic hour at which
they stood when the Bastille fell.* It ignored
peoples, and considered only princes. Its work,
therefore, had to be slowly undone through the
next half-century.

Still, its power for restoration was less than
its wish; and even its most selfish work con-
tained seeds of progress. Nobody thought of
restoring the old ecclesiastical princes, nor of
undoing the consolidation of Germany. That
country was left in thirty-eight states, and Italy
in twelve. Austria, which had lost territory
in Central Europe, received its compensation in
Italy, so that its despotic energies were more
than ever drawn away into Italian and Danu-
bian questions. Renovated Prussia, in return
for Slav lands, which it ceded for the Tsar's
new Kingdom of Poland, received German ter-
ritory, — half of Saxony, the Pomeranian sea
coast, and German provinces on the Rhine
taken from France. Thus, reaching down into
the heart of Germany, and with distant isolated
districts to defend on the Rhine and on the
Niemen, Prussia stood forth the natural cham-
pion of Germany against Slav and Gaul. In
like manner, Sardinia's gain of Genoa was one
more step in the consolidation of Italy. In
return for the vast national debt incurred in
supporting coalitions against Napoleon, England
added still further to her colonial supremacy by
holding South Africa, Cyprus, Malta, and other
important stations. Despite its brief welcome
to Napoleon at his return from Elba, France
was wisely left with the boundaries she had
when the Revolutionary wars began. The most
serious disappointment to the liberals was the
failure to secure a national union in Germany.
Reactionary Austria secured instead the Ger-
manic Confederacy — a loose league under
Austrian presidency, with a Diet which was
merely a meeting of ambassadors, — € a polite
and ceremonious means of doing nothing.*

It was worth much to Europe merely to rec-
ognize that it had common interests which
could be arranged by a peaceful congress. Even
this gathering of despots was an advance from
eighteenth century politics toward a better in-
ternational organization. Some of its work,
moreover, was distinctly progressive, such as the
declaration against the African Slave Trade,
the opening to commerce of the rivers flowing
between or through different countries, and es-
pecially the neutralization of Switzerland wi-
der the protection of the powers.

From 1815 to the Revolutions of i8x>—
For more than thirty years after the Congress
of Vienna, reaction held sway. The restored
princes, who *had learned nothing and for-
gotten nothing,'* strove to ignore the progress
from 1789 to 1815. In Sardinia, serfdom was
restored; in Spain and the Papal States, the
Inquisition and other mediaeval institutions; »j
some places, even street lamps were abolished
along with other hateful French reforms. Five
states, — Russia, Austria, Prussia, England, and



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France, — determined the oolicy of Europe. The
first thr*»e were divine-right despotisms; and
though tfK Tsar and the King of Prussia played
for a time at liberalism, the first disorders
enabled Austria to draw them over to her own
frankly reactionary program. At first, France
and England were not much better than these
Eastern powers. Louis XVIII. had found it nec-
essary t*J give France a charter ; but in that doc-
ument itself the theory of divine right was pre-
served, until the revolutionary changes of 1830.
That theory could have no place in England;
but even there the government was for many
years in the hands of an extreme Tory party.
The evil genius of the whole period was the
subtle Austrian statesman, Metternich, with his
motto, ^Government is no more a matter for
debate than religion is.* The one good thing
to be said for Metternich's long supremacy is
that he permitted no great war; and this was
because he felt it necessary to hold the powers
in friendly alliance, so as better to arrest prog-
ress within the lines drawn at the Congress of
Vienna.

However, beneath the tide of reaction, the
principles of the Revolution survived. The two
positive forces in politics for the 19th century
were to be democracy and nationality. The
league of princes compelled them to work un-
derground; but before the middle of the cen-
tury they emerged in three series of revolutions
— in 1820, 1830, and 1848.

The revolutions of 1820 started in Spain, to
re-establish the Constitution of 1812, which had
been adopted first during the war for Inde-
pendence. Completely successful there for the
time, the movement spread swiftly over the
southern peninsulas — to Portugal and to
the states of North and South Italy, while it
stimulated the Greek rising against the Turks.
Metternich found a weapon of repression ready.
After Waterloo the four great allies, Russia,
Prussia, Austria, and England, had agreed to
preserve their union against revolutionary
France by holding occasional congresses. Met-
ternich now summoned these powers to the
Congress of Troppau. Here the despotic mas-
ters of Russia, Austria, and Prussia signed
an agreement to unite in putting down revo-
lution against any established government.
England protested and withdrew from the
alliance; but her place was taken by France,
and the united despots, popularly known as the
a Holy Alliance,® proceeded to carry out the
Troppau programme. With overwhelming
armies they crushed constitutionalism in Naples
and Piedmont, and a little later, in Spain.
England's fleet preserved the little sea-coast
country of Portugal from attack; and the
Tsar's sympathy for his Greek coreligionists
held Metternich from aiding Turkey. Portugal
and Greece were the only European lands to
reap good from the widespread risings of this
period.

American Progress. — Greater gain there
was, however, outside Europe. The *Holy Alli-
ance^ successful in Spain, wished to restore
monarchic control over revolted Spanish Amer-
ica. Here they failed. When Napoleon seized
Spain (1808), the Spanish colonies, nominally
loyal to the old Spanish dynasty, began to taste
the sweets of economic and political freedom.
They were powerfully influenced, too, by the



success of the United States ; and soon they be-
gan, one after another, to avow independence
not only of Napoleon, but also of the mother
country. The United States had recognized
their independence. England had not done
this; but now she interposed her sea-power
to shield them against the proposed attack
by the ^Holy Alliance.* England, indeed,
urged the United States to join in a formal
alliance to protect Spanish America. The
United States chose to act separately, but it did
actalong the same line: in 1823 President Mon-
roe's message announced that this country would
oppose any attempt of the despotic powers to
extend their political system to America. Thus
was born a group of new nations. For more
than fifty years, it is true, the best of the new
states manifested anarchic tendencies; but be-
fore the close of the nineteenth century some of
them began to make steady and promising prog-
ress in government and society. Their con-
stitutions have been modeled generally upon that
of .the United States.

Before returning to Europe, brief attention
should be given to the progress of the United
States itself in the generation following the
French Revolution, The Constitution of 1787
saved the thirteen States of that time from
falling apart into jangling, insignificant units,
and gave the world an advanced type of federal
government. The Louisiana Purchase (1803)
doubled the territory of the country and con-
firmed its destiny as the home of a mighty con-
tinental nation. During the closing Napoleonic
struggles, the contemptuous disregard of Eng-
land for the rights of neutrals, together with the
treacheries of Napoleon, involved America in
war with England; but, beyond this, except for
the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine, the
United States, busied with its marvelous growth
at home, had kept free from foreign complica-
tions. At the moment of the European revolu-
tions of 1820, the great American Republic was
entering on the forty years of anti-slavery debate
which preceded the Civil War.

Revolutions of 1830. — The year 1830 is one
of the notable dates in the 19th century. In
America the victory of Jackson had j ust marked
a fresh advance in popular government. In
England the First Reform Bill began its two-
year struggle in Parliament On the continent
of Europe, revolution struck a new blow at the
system of Metternich. This time the movement
started in France, where the July Revolution re-
placed the divine-right Bourbon monarchy with
the constitutional, bourgeois monarchy of the
Orleanists. Explosions followed over Europe.
The Belgians rose against their Dutch masters;
the Poles against Russia ; Italian risings seemed
for a moment to have some chance in the papal
states and the duchies; and, while Russia and
Austria were busied in Poland and Italy, liberal
gains were secured in several German states.
But soon Metternich, his hands free once more,
set himself patiently to restore the old order
in Germany. France, it is true, was lost to the
a Holy Alliance,* and joined England in defend-
ing liberal Belgium against despotic interven-
tion. But in the final result, France and Bel-
gium were the only gainers from this period.
It was to take the third great tf year of revolu-
tions,* to sweep away Metternich's shattered
system.



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To appreciate in any measure the wonderful
progress of the remaining two thirds of the
19th century, it is needful to grasp the condi-
tions of the world of 1830, or, we may say, of
1837, when the Victorian era began. It was
still a small, despotic world, far more remote
from the great, progressive world of 1900 than
from the world of 1600. Civilization held only
two patches on the globe, — western Europe and
eastern North America. In the latter, the real
frontier of the United States reached less than
one third the way across the continent, and poli-
tics and society were dominated by the slave
power. Europe knew ^Germany" only as a pious
aspiration of revolutionaries, and a Italy 1> as a
•geographical expression.* Metternich stood
guard over central Europe. On the east hung
Russia, an inert mass, in the chains of her
millions of serfs. Under the contemptible Or-
leans monarchy, France was taking breath be-
tween spasmodic revolutions. England herself
had only begun to stir under the long oligarchic
rule of her landlord class. The rest of the
globe hardly counted; a fringe of Australia
held a convict camp; eastern Canada was a
group of jealous, petty provinces, learning to
agitate in disorderly fashion for self-govern-
ment; Spanish America, prostrate in anarchy,
gave as yet little hope of the coming renaissance ;
Japan was to sleep a generation longer; while
the two largest continents were undisturbed in
their native barbarism, except for England's
grasp upon the hem of India and South Africa.

England in the 19th Century. — In Europe,
England was to lead the van of progress; and
in England, almost alone in Europe, reform was
to come without revolution. But the England
of 1830 was still mediaeval. During the great
French wars from 1690 to 1815, except for the
one development of ministerial government,
England had retrograded politically and socially.
Her society was marked by extreme inequalities
between rich and poor, intensified by cruel class
legislation ; her government, superficially rep-
resentative, had really fallen into the hands
of a selfish landlord class; her boasted local
self-government was intensely aristocratic; her
established church was aristocratic and unspirit-
ual. In the last half-century had come an in-
dustrial revolution — the growth of the factory
system — with marvelous increase of population
and growth of city life, calling imperatively for
new adjustments; but the great Tory party met
all calls for reform with sullen denunciation
and repressive legislation which made free
speech a crime.

Under the system of rotten and pocket bor-
oughs, more than half the House of Commons
were the appointees of less than 200 landlords,
while most of the rest represented small fan-
tastic constituencies. Thus, reform necessarily
began with Parliament itself. This parlia-
mentary reform was accomplished by three
great measures : that of 1832 placed power in the
hands of an intelligent middle class, the landed
and mercantile interests; 35 years later, the
Second Reform Bill (1867) gave power to the
artisan class of the towns ; and the bill of 1884
once more doubled the electorate and left Eng-
land a democracy.

The Reform Bill of 1832 was followed at
once by social reform, in response to the swell-
ing tide of humanitarianism in literature and



society. Legislation swept away negro slavery
in the colonies, and the hideous white slavery
of women and children in English factories an£
mines; reformed the barbarous and fantastic
criminal code; abolished the worst abuses of
the pauperizing poor-law ; began the protection
of workmen in factories against carelessness o?
wilful neglect of capitalists; gave women legal
rights; adjusted taxation more equibly; swept
away the corn laws and introduced the free-
trade era; removed the press gang, and brought
in the penny post ; enlarged the self-government
of the colonies; and established a wonderfully
efficient system of democratic self-government
in cities at home. Subsequent political reform,
despite the Irish difficulties after 1870, added
to the rate of social reform. In particular should
be noticed the complex industrial legislation,
and, for dependencies where the nature of the
population forbids self-government, the adop-
tion of efficient unselfish colonial administra-
tion, in which England has set an example for
all world powers. Even India and Egypt, with
their tremendous difficulties, have been touched
with new life; while the great provinces of the
English-speaking colonies, Canada and Aus-
tralia, have organized themselves into two
mighty federal states (1867 and 1901). In the
rural units of England, too, the local govern-
ment bills of 1888 and 1894 established true de-
mocracy.

Revolutions of '48.— Meantime, on the Con-
tinent, the next great progress after 1830 came
with the revolutions of '48. A general explo-
sion had been preparing ; but again the signal
was given by France. The Orleans monarchy
had become reactionary; and the socialistic Feb-
ruary revolution set up the Second Republic.
March saw Metternich himself a fugitive, escap-
ing from Vienna in a laundry cart, while
thrones were tottering everywhere between Rus-
sia and Turkey on one side and England on the
other. Even England trembled with a Chartist
movement and the threat of an Irish rebellion.
The kings of Holland, Spain, Denmark, and
Sweden made constitutional concessions. In
Germany and Italy there were complex move-
ments, working (1) for constitutional libertv
and social reform within the several states; (2)
for the union of the fragments of the German
race into a nation; and (3) for the independence
of Italians, Slavs, and Hungarians, held in sub-
jection by Austria.

The third movement resulted in wars, out
of which Austria finally emerged triumphant;
and her victorious army was a ready tool to
restore absolutism at home. In Germany the
undisciplined Liberals had wasted opportunity,
Austria dispersed the Frankfort National As-
sembly, and, after humiliating unready Prussia
at Olmiitz, restored the old confederation (1850).
A year later (1851) the coup d'itat of Louis
Napoleon closed the revolution in France and
prepared the way for the Second Empire of
the next year.

But there had been great gains. Feudalism
and serfdom were gone forever, even from
Austria. Sardinia, Prussia, and the minor Ger-
man states kept their new constitutions. Switz-
erland had become a true federal republic upon
the American type. Sardinia, by her sacrifices,
and Prussia, in spite of the past mistakes of her
timid government, were clearly marked out as



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the champions of Italy and Germany against
Austria. Victor Emanuel of Sardinia recog-
nized his mission to unite and free Italy; and
Prussia, so recently shamed, had statesmen who
would see that next time she should be ready.

Europe from 1830 to 1880.— The next 25
years (1850-75) saw not only the advance
toward democracy in England, the victory of
nationality and the abolition of slavery in the
United States, the formation of the federal
Canadian Dominion, on the American model,
and the awakening of Japan under American
constraint, but also a new federal German Em-
pire, a united, constitutional Italy, a stable
French republic, a constitutional Spain, and a
constitutional, federal Austria-Hungary. The

feriod was one of ^blood and iron,® Napoleon
II., who had drawn England into the Crimean
war (1854) to humiliate Russia, was himself
drawn by the statesmanship of Cavour into the
Austrian war of 1859 to help free Italy. Within
a year after the resulting campaigns in Italy had
closed, the American Civil War began; and
before it ended, Bismarck had entered upon his
trilogy of wars. In 1864 he robbed Denmark
of the Schleswig-Holstein duchies, with the
great harbor of Kiel for Prussia's projected
navy, and so made trial of the new army he
was at once to use (1866) in driving Austria out
of Germany by the Six Weeks' War. The North
German Confederation, then formed, was ex-
panded into the German Empire by the Franco-
Prussian war (1870-1), into which Bismarck
next tricked French vanity and the despairing
ambition of the decaying French government.
These struggles completed also the unity of
Italy. In 1866 Italy recovered Venetia from
Austria, and in 1870, when France could no
longer interfere, it at last marched its troops
into its ancient capital, Rome. Even for con-
quered countries, during this period, did reform
grow out of war. The Crimean catastrophe
struck the chains from Russia's serfs; the
shock of defeat in '59 and '66 woke Austria to
constitutional progress; only when Germany
shivered the sham of the Stcond Empire did
France enter upon true republican life; and it
was in the ashes of her old social system that
our own South found regeneration.

Out of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-8
a new group of Balkan nations was born, mainly
Slav in blood, with at least the forms of consti-
tutional government. But since 187 1 political



Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 162 of 185)