Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

sidering how difficult it is to procure soldiers by voluntary enlistment, and how easily every nation can obtain them by other means, I do not see how you will be able to hold your high rank, unless your people will consent to something resembling a conscription.

Dangerous as it is to speak of a foreign country, I venture to say that England is mistaken if she thinks that she can continue separated from the rest of the world, and preserve all her peculiar institutions uninfluenced by those which prevail over the whole of the Continent.

In the period in which we live, and, still more, in the period which is approaching, no European nation can long remain absolutely dissimilar to all the others. I believe that a law existing over the whole Continent must in time influence the laws of Great Britain, notwithstanding the sea, and notwithstanding the habits and institutions. which, still more than the sea, have separated you from us, up to the present time.

My prophecies may not be accomplished in our time; but I should not be sorry to deposit this letter with a notary, to be opened, and their truth or falsehood proved, fifty years hence.

Compiègne, February 23, 1855. ... My object in my last letter was not by any means, as you seem to think, to accuse your aristocracy of having mismanaged the Crimean war. It has certainly been mismanaged, but who has been in fault ?

Indeed I know not, and if I did I should think at the

1855.)

Peace Premature.

95

same time that it would not be becoming in a foreigner to set himself up as a judge of the blunders of any other Government than his own.

I thought that I had expressed myself clearly. At any rate what I wanted to say, if I did not say it, is, that the present events created in my opinion a new and great danger for your aristocracy, and that it will suffer severely from the rebound, if it does not make enormous efforts to show itself capable of repairing the past; and that it would be wrong to suppose that by fighting bravely on the field of battle it could retain the direction of the Government.

I did not intend to say more than this.

I will now add that if it persuades itself that it will easily get out of the difficulty by making peace, I think that it will find itself mistaken.

Peace, after what has happened, may be a good thing for England in general, and useful to us, but I doubt whether it will be a gain for your aristocracy. I think that if Chatham could return to life he would agree with me, and would say that under the circumstances the remedy would not be peace but a more successful war.

Kind regards, &c.

A. DE TOCQUEVILLE.

CONVERSATIONS.

Paris, Hôtel Bedford.Friday, March 2, 1855.We slept on the 27th at Calais, on the 28th at Amiens, and reached this place last night.

Tocqueville called on us this morning. We talked of the probability of Louis Napoleon's going to the Crimea.

I said, that the report made by Lord John Russell, who talked the matter over with him, was, that he certainly had once intended to go, and had not given it up.

'I do not value,' said Tocqueville, Lord John's inferences from anything that he heard or saw in his audiences. All Louis Napoleon's words and looks are, whether intentionally or not, misleading Now that his having direct issue seems out of the question, and that the deeper and deeper discredit into which the heir presumptive is falling, seems to put him out of the question too, we are looking to this journey with great alarm. We feel that, for the present, his life is necessary to us, and we feel that it would be exposed to many hazards. He ought to incur some military risks, if he is present at a battle or an assault, and his courage and his fatalism will lead him to many which he ought to avoid. But it is disease rather than bullets that we fear. He will have to travel hard, and to be exposed, under exciting circumstances, to a climate which is not a safe one even to the strong.'

‘But,' I said, 'he will not be exposed to it long. I have heard thirty, or at most forty, days proposed as the length of his absence.'

Who can say that ?' answered Tocqueville. “If he goes there, he must stay there until Sebastopol falls. It will not do for him to leave Paris in order merely to look at the works, pat the generals on the back, compliment

1855.]

Prince Napoleon.

97

the army, and leave it in the trenches. Unless his journey produces some great success-in short, unless it gives us Sebastopol—it will be considered a failure; and a failure he cannot afford. I repeat that he must stay there till Sebastopol falls. But that may be months. And what may months bring forth in such a country as France? In such a city as Paris? In such times as these? Then he cannot safely leave his cousin-Jérôme Plon swears that he will not go, and I do not see how he can be taken by force.'

'I do not understand,' I said, Jérôme's conduct. It seemed as if he had the ball at his feet. The role of an heir is the easiest in the world. He has only to behave decently in order to be popular.'

Jérôme's chances,' answered Tocqueville, of the popularity which is to be obtained by decent behaviour were over long before he became an heir. His talents are considerable, but he has no principles, and no good sense. He is Corsican to the bone. I watched him among his Montagnards in the Constituent.

Nothing could be more perverse than his votes, nor more offensive than his speeches. He is unfit to conciliate the sensible portion of society, and naturally throws himself into the arms of those who are waiting to receive him—the violent, the rapacious, and the anarchical: this gives him at least some adherents.'

'What do you hear,' I asked, of his conduct in the East?'

'I hear,' said Tocqueville, 'that he showed want, not so much of courage, as of.temper and of subordination. VOL. II.

H

He would not obey orders; he would not even transmit them, so that Canrobert was forced to communicate directly with the officers of Napoleon's division, and at last required him to take sick leave, or to submit to a court-martial.'

'I thought,' I said, 'that he was really ill.'

•That is not the general opinion,' said Tocqueville. He showed himself at a ball directly after his return, with no outward symptoms of ill health.'

The conversation turned on English politics.

So many of my friendships,' said Tocqueville, and so many of my sympathies, are English, that what is passing in your country, and respecting your country, gives me great pain, and greater anxiety. To us, whom unhappily experience has rendered sensitive of approaching storms, your last six months have a frightfully revolutionary appearance.

“There is with you, as there was with us in 1847, a general malaise in the midst of general prosperity. Your people seem, as was the case with ours, to have become tired of their public men, and to be losing faith in their institutions. What else do these complaints of what is called "the system ” mean? When you complain that the Government patronage is bartered for political support, that the dunces of a family are selected for the public service, and selected expressly because they could not get on in an open profession; that as their places are a sort of property, they are promoted only by seniority, and never dismissed for any, except for some moral, delinquency; that therefore the seniors in all your depart

« НазадПродовжити »