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- History of Modern Europe 1792-1878 - 1/202 -







Barrister-at-Law; Fellow of University College, Oxford; Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society


With Maps


In acceding to the Publishers' request for a re-issue of the "History of Modern Europe," in the form of a popular edition, I feel that I am only fulfilling what would have been the wish of the Author himself. A few manuscript corrections and additions found in his own copy of the work have been adopted in the present edition; in general, however, my attention in revising each sheet for the press has been devoted to securing an accurate reproduction of the text and notes as they appeared in the previous editions in three volumes. I trust that in this cheaper and more portable form the work will prove, both to the student and the general reader, even more widely acceptable than heretofore.


London, November, 1895.


The object of this work is to show how the States of Europe have gained the form and character which they possess at the present moment. The outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1792, terminating a period which now appears far removed from us, and setting in motion forces which have in our own day produced a united Germany and a united Italy, forms the natural starting-point of a history of the present century. I have endeavoured to tell a simple story, believing that a narrative in which facts are chosen for their significance, and exhibited in their real connection, may be made to convey as true an impression as a fuller history in which the writer is not forced by the necessity of concentration to exercise the same rigour towards himself and his materials. The second volume of the work will bring the reader down to the year 1848: the third, down to the present time.

London, 1880.


In revising this volume for the second edition I have occupied myself mainly with two sources of information--the unpublished Records of the English Foreign Office, and the published works which have during recent years resulted from the investigation of the Archives of Vienna. The English Records from 1792 to 1814, for access to which I have to express my thanks to Lord Granville, form a body of firsthand authority of extraordinary richness, compass, and interest. They include the whole correspondence between the representatives of Great Britain at Foreign Courts and the English Foreign Office; a certain number of private communications between Ministers and these representatives; a quantity of reports from consuls, agents, and "informants" of every description; and in addition to these the military reports, often admirably vivid and full of matter, sent by the British officers attached to the head-quarters of our Allies in most of the campaigns from 1792 to 1814. It is impossible that any one person should go through the whole of this material, which it took the Diplomatic Service a quarter of a century to write. I have endeavoured to master the correspondence from each quarter of Europe which, for the time being, had a preponderance in political or military interest, leaving it when its importance became obviously subordinate to that of others; and although I have no doubt left untouched much that would repay investigation, I trust that the narrative has gained in accuracy from a labour which was not a light one, and that the few short extracts which space has permitted me to throw into the notes may serve to bring the reader nearer to events. At some future time I hope to publish a selection from the most important documents of this period. It is strange that our learned Societies, so appreciative of every distant and trivial chronicle of the Middle Ages, should ignore the records of a time of such surpassing interest, and one in which England played so great a part. No just conception can be formed of the difference between English statesmanship and that of the Continental Courts in integrity, truthfulness, and public spirit, until the mass of diplomatic correspondence preserved at London has been studied; nor, until this has been done, can anything like an adequate biography of Pitt be written.

The second and less important group of authorities with which I have busied myself during the work of revision comprises the works of Hüffer, Vivenot, Beer, Helfert, and others, based on Austrian documents, along with the Austrian documents and letters that have been published by Vivenot. The last-named writer is himself a partizan, but the material which he has given to the world is most valuable. The mystery in which the Austrian Government until lately enveloped all its actions caused some of these to be described as worse than they really were; and I believe that in the First Edition I under-estimated the bias of Prussian and North-German writers. Where I have seen reasons to alter any statements, I have done so without reserve, as it appears to me childish for any one who attempts to write history to cling to an opinion after the balance of evidence seems to be against it. The publication of the second volume of this work has been delayed by the revision of the first; but I hope that it will appear before many months more. I must express my obligations to Mr. Oscar Browning, a fellow-labourer in the same field, who not only furnished me with various corrections, but placed his own lectures at my disposal; and to Mr. Alfred Kingston, whose unfailing kindness and courtesy make so great a difference to those whose work lies in the department of the Record Office which is under his care.

London, 1883.


In writing this volume I have not had the advantage of consulting the English Foreign Office Records for a later period than the end of 1815. A rule not found necessary at Berlin and some other foreign capitals still closes to historical inquirers the English documents of the last seventy years. Restrictions are no doubt necessary in the case of transactions of recent date, but the period of seventy years is surely unnecessarily long. Public interests could not be prejudiced, nor could individuals be even remotely affected, by the freest examination of the papers of 1820 or 1830.

The London documents of 1814-1815 are of various degrees of interest and importance. Those relating to the Congress of Vienna are somewhat disappointing. Taken all together, they add less to our knowledge on the one or two points still requiring elucidation than the recently-published correspondence of Talleyrand with Louis XVIII. The despatches from Italy are on the other hand of great value, proving, what I believe was not established before, that the Secret Treaty of 1815, whereby Austria gained a legal right to prevent any departure from absolute Government at Naples, was communicated to the British Ministry and received its sanction. This sanction explains the obscure and embarrassed language of Castlereagh in 1820, which in its turn gave rise to the belief in Italy that England was more deeply committed to Austria than it actually was, and probably occasioned the forgery of the pretended Treaty of July 27, 1813, exposed in vol. i. of this work, p. 538, 2nd edit. [3] The papers from France and Spain are also interesting, though not establishing any new conclusions.

While regretting that I have not been able to use the London archives later than 1815, I believe that it is nevertheless possible, without recourse to unpublished papers, to write the history of the succeeding thirty years with substantial correctness. There exist in a published form, apart from documents printed officially, masses of first-hand material of undoubtedly authentic character, such as the great English collection known by the somewhat misleading name of Wellington Despatches, New Series; or again, the collection printed as an appendix to Prokesch von Osten's History of the Greek Rebellion, or the many volumes of Gentz' Correspondence belonging to the period about 1820, when Gentz was really at the centre of affairs. The Metternich papers, interesting as far as they go, are a mere selection. The omissions are glaring, and scarcely accidental. Many minor collections bearing on particular events might be named, such as those in Guizot's Mémoires. Frequent references will show my obligation to the German series of historical works constituting the Leipzig Staatengeschichte, as well as to French authors who, like Viel-Castel, have worked with original sources of information before them. There exist in English literature singularly few works on this period of Continental history.

A greater publicity was introduced into political affairs on the Continent by the establishment of Parliamentary Government in France in 1815, and even by the attempts made to introduce it in other States. In England we have always had freedom of discussion, but the amount of information made public by the executive in recent times has been enormously greater than it was at the end of the last century. The only documents published at the outbreak of the war of 1793 were, so far as I can ascertain, the well-known letters of Chauvelin and Lord Grenville. During the twenty years' struggle with France next to nothing was known of the diplomatic transactions between England and the Continental Powers. But from the time of the Reform Bill onwards the amount of information given to the public has been constantly increasing, and the reader of Parliamentary Papers in our own day is likely to complain of diffusiveness rather than of reticence. Nevertheless the perusal of published papers can never be quite the same thing as an examination of the originals; and the writer who first has access to the English archives after 1815 will have an advantage over those who have gone before him.

The completion of this volume has been delayed by almost every circumstance adverse to historical study and production, including a severe Parliamentary contest. I trust, however, that no trace of partisanship or

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