Изображения страниц


“There was a sound of revelry by night,

And Belgium's capital had gathered then,
Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men.'


6 On the morrow
We will join the battle then-
And God befriend the right.”


EUROPE, for more than twenty years, had been ensanguined by devastating wars; and every kingdom on the Continent, distracted by political dissensions, torn by intestine factions, or had risen into open anarchy and revolutionary revolt. A few years, or even a few months, sufficed to work changes, which previously ages were required to effect. Men's minds had grown frenzied and furious; thrones had crumbled and fallen; feudalities had been rooted out; and institutions, consecrated by the long lapse of ten centuries, had, beneath the hands of democratic violence, or under the grasp of despotic tyranny, been levelled with the dust. France had been the theatre of horrors to which the history of the world could furnish no parallel ; 'had passed through social transitions and political inconsistencies like unto which the annals of mankind present no example. Her contagious influence was felt as far as civilization extended, and to those whose perceptions could look from the present to the future, the progress of knowledge, the common rights of

and the blessing of religious freedom were sapped and endangered. Glory had been her watchword; but even glory in a nation, as in an individual, at length must pall. A mighty spirit had arisen and usurped the sceptre of her ancient princes by the splendour of his genius; had assumed the imperial purple by an iron rule, and vainly sought to supply the veneration for ancient blood and legitimate sovereignty in the dazzle of conquest and the blaze of renown.


There is, however, as philosophic historians have averred, a natural tendency in the human mind, to venerate order, and justice, and peace.

Rebellions and wars are but the paroxysmal outbreaks which the social system for a time undergoes as it progresses towards greater amounts and more perfect conditions of happiness. It is not in the nature of man to continually love discord and renounce repose; no more than is it the law of nature to constantly convulse the earth with eruptions and tempests.

Whirlwinds and hurricanes purify the air and render it subsequently more salubrious and better fitted for animal and vegetable life, and so have the stormy periods of society tranquillized and improved the moral atmosphere of a people. It was dependent on this condition of things, and consequent on their inevitable results, that the Allies interfered to restore peace to mankind. They carried their arms to the



walls of Paris, and determined to unthrone the enslaver of the race. The people, fearing the dismemberment of their kingdom at once hearkened to the proposition of a restoration of their ancient rulers, and even those generals who had been most faithful in their imperial master's career, insisted that abdication alone remained. The treaty of Fontainebleau was signed ; and it was sanguinely hoped that the days of insurrection and trial had passed away—that the dawn of a better future had now ushered in.

The Allies acted at this crisis with a magnanimity worthy of their great names. They had no wish to heap uncalled-for indignations on a fallen foe; they respected his greatness in the hour of adversity; and though public safety compelled his abdication, they did not seek at once to strip him of royalty, nor humble him to the level of that class from which his transcendent genius had raised him.

Alexander of Russia was then youthful and brave, handsome and generous; so great a general had fired his young admiration,

had won.

and he felt for him with all the sympathy of early years, and in the true feelings of a chivalrous spirit. When the correcter opinion of Lord Castlereagh proposed a more distant exile, and the imposition of a more strict surveillance, Alexander opposed such as uncalled for, and harshness. Her in whose veins ran the imperial blood of the House of Hapsburg, with herinfantaking! had removed towards the frontier; and in a few days the founder of a new dynasty had been driven an exile from the empire his bravery

Louis XVIII. was conducted from the calm retreat, which he had so long found in the shades of Hartwell, with the pageant display of a conqueror, to the throne of his sires. The Allies had told the French people that they warred not against France, but against Napoleon; and on the return of their legitimate prince generously forebore having anything to do with the internal policy to be adopted, and so soon as it was supposed the new constitution had taken root, they withdrew beyond the Rhine. Had the King now acted with that wisdom which the re

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »