Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

1856.]

Emperor encourages Expenditure.

137

• Louis Napoleon,' he continued, professed to wish that you should allow the Sultan to give his consent; but I doubt whether he is sincere. I am not sure that he is not pleased at seeing the Parisians occupied by something besides his own doings, especially as it promotes the national dislike of England. Now that the war is over we want an object. He tries to give us one by launching us into enormous speculations. He is trying to make us English; to give us a taste for great and hazardous undertakings, leading to great gains, great losses, profuse expenditure, and sudden fortunes and failures. Such things suit you; they do not suit us. Our habits are economical and prudent, perhaps timid. We like the petty commerce of commission and detail, we prefer domestic manufactures to factories, we like to grow moderately rich by small profits, small expenditure, and constant accumulation. We hate the nouveaux riches, and scarcely wish to be among them. The progress for which we wish is political progress—not within, for there we are satisfied to oscillate, and shall be most happy if in 1860 we find ourselves where we were in 1820—but without. I believe that our master's sortie against Belgium was a pilot balloon. He wished to see what amount of opposition he had to fear from you, and from Belgium, and how far we should support him. He has found the two former greater than he expected. I am not sure that he is dissatisfied with the last.'

I spent the morning at H.'s. He too attacked me about the Canal.

'Do entreat,' he said, 'your public men to overrule their ill-conditioned colleague. I told you a year ago, the mischief that you were doing, but I do not think that you believed me.

You may find too late that I was

right.'

to you.

I repeated to him Ellice's opinion that the commerce of England would not use the canal.

I have heard that,' he said, 'from Ellice himself, but I differ from him. I agree with him, indeed, that your sailing vessels will not use the canal, but I believe that a few years hence you will have no purely sailing vessels, except for the small coasting trade. Every large ship will have a propeller ; and with propellers, to be employed occasionally, and sails for ordinary use, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea are very manageable. I believe that the canal will be useful, and particularly

But whatever be the real merits of the scheme, for God's sake let it be tried. Do not treat us like children, and say, “We know better what

' is good for you than you do yourselves. You shall not make your canal because you would lose money by it.",

• What did you hear,' I said, 'about the Congress ?'

*I heard,' he answered, that Clarendon was very good, and was the best, and that Walewski was very bad, and was the worst.'

"Can you tell me, I said, the real history of the Tripartite Treaty ?

'I can,' he answered. • There was an old engagement between the three Powers, entered into last spring, that if they succeeded in the war, they would unite to force

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

6

6

1856.]

Tripartite Treaty.

139

Russia to perform any conditions to which she might submit.

*This engagement had been allowed to sleep ; I will not say that it was forgotten, but no one seemed disposed to revert to it. But after the twenty-second Protocol, when Piedmont was allowed to threaten Austria, and neither England nor France defended her, Buol got alarmed. He feared that Austria might be left exposed to the vengeance of Russia on the north and east, and to that of the Italian Liberals on the South. An alliance with France and England, though only for a specified purpose, at least would relieve Austria from the appearance of insulation. She would be able to talk of the two greatest Powers in Europe as her allies, and would thus acquire a moral force which might save her from attack. He recalled, therefore, the old engagement to the recollection of Clarendon and Louis Napoleon, and summoned them to fulfil it. I do not believe that either of them was pleased. But the engagement was formal, and its performance, though open to misconstruction, and intended by Austria to be misconstrued, was attended by some advantages, though different ones, to France and to England. So both your Government and ours complied.'

Tuesday, May 20.-The Tocquevilles and Rivet drank tea with us.

I mentioned to Tocqueville the subject of my conversations with Cousin and H.

'I agree with Cousin,' he said. •The attempt to turn our national activity into speculation and commerce has

success.

often been made, but has never had any permanent

The men who make these sudden fortunes are not happy, for they are always suspected of friponnerie, and the Government to which they belong is suspected of friponnerie. Still less happy are those who have attempted to make them, and have failed. And those who have not been able even to make the attempt are envious and sulky. So that the whole world becomes suspicious and dissatisfied.

* And even if it were universal, mere material prosperity is not enough for us. Our Government must give us something more: must gratify our ambition, or, at least, our vanity.'

* The Government,' said Rivet, 'has been making a desperate plunge in order to escape from the accusation of friponnerie. It has denounced in the “Moniteur” the faiseurs; it has dismissed a poor aide-de-camp of Jérôme's for doing what everybody has been doing ever since the coup d'état, When Ponsard's comedy, which was known to be a furious satire on the agioteurs, was first played, Louis Napoleon took the whole orchestra and pit stalls, and filled them with people instructed to applaud every allusion to the faiseurs. And he himself stood in his box, his body almost out of it, clapping most energetically every attack on them.'

"At the same time,' I said, 'has he not forced the Orleans Company and the Lyons Company to buy the Grand Central at much more than its worth? And was not that done in order to enable certain faiseurs to realise their gains ?'

a

1856.]

Suez Canal.

141

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

*He has forced the Orleans Company,' said Rivet, 'to buy up, or rather to amalgamate the Grand Central; but I will not say at more than its value. The amount to be paid is to depend on the comparative earnings of the different lines, for two years before and two years after the purchase.'

* But,' I said, “is it not true, first, that the Orleans Company was unwilling to make the purchase ? and, secondly, that thereupon the Grand Central shares rose much in the market?'

Both these facts,' answered Rivet, "are true.'

Do you believe,' I said to Tocqueville, H.'s history of the Tripartite Treaty?'

'I do,' he answered. • I do not think that at the time when it was made we liked it. It suited you, who wish to preserve the statu quo in Europe, which keeps us your inferiors, or, at least, not your superiors. You have nothing to gain by a change. We have. The statu quo does not suit us. The Tripartite Treaty is a sort of chain—not a heavy one, or a strong one—but one which we should not have put on if we could have avoided it.'

'Do you agree,' I asked Tocqueville, with Lafosse, Cousin, and H. as to the effect in Paris of our opposition to the Suez Canal ?'

'I agree,' he answered, “in every word that they have said. There is nothing that has done you so much mischief in France, and indeed in Europe.

*I am no engineer ; I should be sorry to pronounce a decided opinion as to the feasibility or the utility of the

« НазадПродовжити »