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- The Duel Between France and Germany - 6/13 -


that art of which he was the patron, stands forth conspicuous in the line of kings. As the French Emperor attacked Germany, so did the King enter Italy, and he was equally confident of victory. On the field of Favia he encountered an army of Charles the Fifth, but commanded by his generals, when, after fighting desperately and killing seven men with his own hand, he was compelled to surrender. His mother was at the time Regent of France, and to her he is said to have written the sententious letter, "All is lost except honor." No such letter was written by Francis,[Footnote: Sismondi, Histoire des Francais, Tom. XVI. pp. 241-42. Martin, Histoire de France, (genie edit.,) Tom. VIII. pp. 67, 68.] nor do we know of any such letter by Louis Napoleon; but the situation of the two Regents was identical. Here are the words in which Hume describes the condition of the earlier:---

"The Princess was struck with the greatness of the calamity. She saw the kingdom without a sovereign, without an army, without generals, without money, surrounded on every side by implacable and victorious enemies; and her chief resource, in her present distresses, were the hopes which she entertained of peace, and even of assistance from the King of England." [Footnote: History of England, (Oxford, 1826,) Ch. XXIX., Vol. IV. p. 51.]

Francis became the prisoner of Charles the Fifth, and was conveyed to Madrid, where, after a year of captivity, he was at length released, crying out, as he crossed the French frontier, "Behold me King again!" [Footnote: Sismondi, Tom. XVI. p. 277. Martin, Tom. VIII. p. 90.] Is not the fate of Louis Napoleon prefigured in the exile and death of his royal predecessor John, rather than in the return of Francis with his delighted cry?

LOUIS NAPOLEON.

The fall of Louis Napoleon is natural. It is hard to see how it could be otherwise, so long as we continue to "assert eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to men." [Footnote: Paradise Lost, Book I. 25-26.]

Had he remained successful to the end, and died peacefully on the throne, his name would have been a perpetual encouragement to dishonesty and crime. By treachery without parallel, breaking repeated promises and his oath of office, he was able to trample on the Republic. Taking his place in the National Assembly after long exile, the adventurer made haste to declare exultation in regaining his country and all his rights as citizen, with the ejaculation, "The Republic has given me this happiness: let the Republic receive my oath of gratitude, my oath of devotion!"--and next he proclaimed that there was nobody to surpass him in determined consecration "to the defence of order and to the establishment of the Republic." [Footnote: Seance du 26 Septembre 1848: Moniteur, 27 Septembre.] Good words these. Then again, when candidate for the Presidency, in a manifesto to the electors he gave another pledge, announcing that he "would devote himself altogether, without mental reservation, to the establishment of a Republic, wise in its laws, honest in its intentions, great and strong in its acts"; and he volunteered further words, binding him in special loyalty, saying that he "should make it _a point of honor_ to leave to his successor, at the end of four years, power strengthened, liberty intact, real progress accomplished." [Footnote: A ses Concitoyens: OEuvres, Tom. III. p. 25.] How these plain and unequivocal engagements were openly broken you shall see.

Chosen by the popular voice, his inauguration took place as President of the Republic, when he solemnly renewed the engagements already assumed. Ascending from his seat in the Assembly to the tribune, and holding up his hand, he took the following oath of office: "In presence of God, and before the French people, represented by the National Assembly, I swear to remain faithful to the Democratic Republic One and Indivisible, and to fulfil all the duties which the Constitution imposes upon me." This was an oath. Then, addressing the Assembly, he said:" The suffrages of the nation and the oath which I have just taken prescribe my future conduct. My duty is marked out. I will fulfil it as _a man of honor_." Again he attests his honor. Then, after deserved tribute to his immediate predecessor and rival, General Cavaignac, on his loyalty of character, and that sentiment of duty which he declares to be "the first quality in the chief of a State," he renews his vows to the Republic, saying, "We have, Citizen Representatives, a great mission to fulfil; it is to found a Republic in the interest of all"; and he closed amidst cheers for the Republic.[Footnote: Seance de 20 Decembre 1848: Moniteur, 21 Decembre.] And yet, in the face of this oath of office and this succession of most solemn pledges, where he twice attests his honor, he has hardly become President before he commences plotting to make himself Emperor, until, at last, by violence and blood, with brutal butchery in the streets of Paris, he succeeded in overthrowing the Republic, to which he was bound by obligations of gratitude and duty, as well as by engagements in such various form. The Empire was declared. Then followed his marriage, and a dynastic ambition to assure the crown for his son.

Early in life a "Charcoal" conspirator against kings, [Footnote: A member of the secret society of the Ciram in Italy.] he now became a crowned conspirator against republics. The name of Republic was to him a reproof, while its glory was a menace. Against the Roman Republic he conspired early; and when the rebellion waged by Slavery seemed to afford opportunity, he conspired against our Republic, promoting as far as he dared the independence of the Slave States, and at the same time on the ruins of the Mexican Republic setting up a mock Empire. In similar spirit has he conspired against German Unity, whose just strength promised to be a wall against his unprincipled self-seeking.

This is but an outline of that incomparable perfidy, which, after a career of seeming success, is brought to a close. Of a fallen man I would say nothing; but, for the sake of Humanity, Louis Napoleon should be exposed. He was of evil example, extending with his influence. To measure the vastness of this detriment is impossible. In sacrificing the Republic to his own aggrandizement, in ruling for a dynasty rather than the people, in subordinating the peace of the world to his own wicked ambition for his boy, he set an example of selfishness, and in proportion to his triumph was mankind corrupted in its judgment of human conduct. Teaching men to seek ascendency at the expense of duty, he demoralized not only France, but the world. Unquestionably part of this evil example was his falsehood to the Republic. Promise, pledge, honor, oath, were all violated in this monstrous treason. Never in history was greater turpitude. Unquestionably he could have saved the Republic, but he preferred his own exaltation. As I am a Republican, and believe republican institutions for the good of mankind, I cannot pardon the traitor. The people of France are ignorant; he did not care to have them educated, for their ignorance was his strength. With education bestowed, the Republic would have been assured. And even after the Empire, had he thought more of education and less of his dynasty, there would have been a civilization throughout France making war impossible. Unquestionably the present war is his work, instituted for his imagined advantage. Bacon, in one of his remarkable Essays, tells us that "Extreme self-lovers will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs." [Footnote: Of Wisdom for a Man's Self: Essay XXIII.] Louis Napoleon has set Europe on fire to roast his.

Beyond the continuing offence of his public life, I charge upon him three special and unpardonable crimes: first, that violation of public duty and public faith, contrary to all solemnities of promise, by which the whole order of society was weakened and human character was degraded; secondly, disloyalty to republican institutions, so that through him the Republic has been arrested in Europe; and, thirdly, this cruel and causeless war, of which he is the guilty author.

RETRIBUTION.

Of familiar texts in Scripture, there is one which, since the murderous outbreak, has been of constant applicability and force. You know it: "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword"; [Footnote: Matthew, xxvi. 52.] and these words are addressed to nations as to individuals. France took the sword against Germany, and now lies bleeding at every pore. Louis Napoleon took the sword, and is nought. Already in that _coup d'etat_ by which he overthrew the Republic he took the sword, and now the Empire, which was the work of his hands, expires. In Mexico again he took the sword, and again paid the fearful penalty,--while the Austrian Archduke, who, yielding to his pressure, made himself Emperor there, was shot by order of the Mexican President, an Indian of unmixed blood. And here there was retribution, not only for the French Emperor, but far beyond. I know not if there be invisible threads by which the Present is attached to the distant Past, making the descendant suffer even for a distant ancestor, but I cannot forget that Maximilian was derived from that very family of Charles the Fifth, whose conquering general, Cortes, stretched the Indian Guatemozin upon a bed of fire, and afterwards executed him on a tree. The death of Maximilian was tardy retribution for the death of Guatemozin. And thus in this world is wrong avenged, sometimes after many generations. The fall of the French Emperor is an illustration of that same retribution which is so constant. While he yet lives, judgment has begun.

If I accumulate instances, it is because the certainty of retribution for wrong, and especially for the great wrong of War, is a lesson of the present duel to be impressed. Take notice, all who would appeal to war, that the way of the transgressor is hard, and sooner or later he is overtaken. The ban may fall tardily, but it is sure to fall.

Retribution in another form has already visited France; nor is its terrible vengeance yet spent. Not only are populous cities, all throbbing with life and filled with innocent households, subjected to siege, but to bombardment also,--being that most ruthless trial of war, where non-combatants, including women and children, sick and aged, share with the soldier his peculiar perils, and suffer alike with him. All are equal before the hideous shell, crashing, bursting, destroying, killing, and changing the fairest scene into blood-spattered wreck. Against its vengeful, slaughterous descent there is no protection for the people,--nothing but an uncertain shelter in cellars, or, it may be, in the common sewers. Already Strasbourg, Toul, and Metz have been called to endure this indiscriminate massacre, where there is no distinction of persons; and now the same fate is threatened to Paris the Beautiful, with


The Duel Between France and Germany - 6/13

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