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the roads on the Upper Seine would give abundant time for the Crown Prince to intercept him. On the other hand, a march round the northern flank through the hilly Argonne district would at once be checked by the Saxon Prince, who was on his way thither with not less than 80,000 troops flushed with success, and might be safely trusted to encounter the Marshal, though now reinforced by a new corps, the 12th, raising his force to over 120,000 men. On the 25th, therefore, when the King followed up and joined the Prince at Bar-leduc, although Chalons was known to be evacuated, it was not yet thought that MacMahon was about to attempt that desperate effort to join Bazaine by Sedan and Montmédy, to which the Paris telegrams pointed. And as on this very day the French were known to be still near Rheims, while the Saxon Prince had already entered the Argonne, there was no possibility of their passing by him undiscovered. The notion of this flank march to be made by surprise, which was the design of Palikao and his council at Paris, and forced upon the Marshal, was in fact foiled beforehand by Von Moltke's prompt combination.
MacMahon, on whom the dead weight of the Imperial cortége was now inflicted, had not sufficient resolution to refuse to carry out the orders received from Paris, and take the responsibility of leaving his brother-marshal shut up on the Moselle, Pressed by the new Ministers to attempt the junction which they had taught Paris to expect, and assured by them that every facility was given for it by the railroad from Mézières to Thionville, which should carry him stores and more men, he started finally from Rethel on the 24th for his desperate adventure. His march lay in two columns; the left to pass the Meuse at Sedan, the right to march by Beaumont on Mouzon, the next passage higher up the river. But before he entered the Argonne news of his movements had reached General Von Moltke. On the 26th the heads of the Crown Prince's columns turned northward, while the Saxon Prince received orders to stay the enemy on the Meuse passages at all costs—orders which were rendered unnecessary by the extravagant delays of the French army, which only reached Sedan and Beaumont on the 30th, having spent full seven days since leaving Rheims, just fifty miles off in a direct line. That afternoon the heads of the Third and Fourth German armies drew near each other not twenty miles south of Sedan, looking for the French, and fell upon MacMahon's right column. The shameful surprise of one of De Failly's divisions in its camp by the Bavarians began the actions, with the memorable details of which we have lately been amply furnished. It is enough here to say that on the third day the German troops had so completely got the upper hand of their prey, that Von Moltke could afford to dispense with reserves, and throw his whole force, one corps alone excepted, in a vast circle round the French position, a tactical performance fully justified by the event, but which, against any but ill-led and very disheartened troops, should have been the ruin of the assailants. The world saw the most utter destruction of an army ever known, the most complete defeat, viewed in its whole circumstances, ever suffered, placed to the account of the nation which had thought its soldiery invincible.
With an unregenerated army, an undisciplined nation, which will have no leadership but its own fierce will and volatile fancies, which refuses to know the truth and opens its ear only to flattery, what hope is there left, now that Bazaine's forces are shut up and MacMahon's destroyed? We have no desire to prophesy by way of answer, and shall only quote, in conclusion, the sad words of a French critic on this subject. “I had observed,' says Captain Jeannerod, • that the number of stragglers was enormous, and I continually met soldiers who did not know where their regiments were. I had seen men and officers disabled by wounds which French soldiers of other days would have despised. I had remarked how untidy and careless the men
were allowed to be about their dress and equipments. These things, slight, but significant to a military eye, had caused me, no doubt, some misgivings as to the rapidity of the success we had a right to expect. I saw, also, how prone French officers were to avoid the fatigues of long marches and the discomfort of bivouacs. I remember how often I have traversed the French lines at the dead of night and at early dawn, and never heard a challenge, never came across a French vidette, never have fallen in with a party of scouts. On the other hand, I have seen officers spend the time that ought to have been given to their men in cafés or in poor village inns. Often even officers of the staff seemed to neglect their duties for paltry amusements, showing themselves ignorant sometimes even of the name of the department in which they were; so that I have known a French general obliged to ask his way from peasants at the meeting of two roads. I struggled long against all this kind of evidence, but the end is only too clear. Painful it is to me, but I am bound to declare my belief that any further effort France may make can only cause useless bloodshed; and that a means of escape from her peril must now be sought otherwise than by force of arms.'
When an eye-witness, a professional critic, who has also the spirit of a true patriot, speaks thus, what need is there of further explanation of the failure in the field of the great machine which was called the Imperial Army? To attempt to expound fully the causes of its corruption and decay would be to write the whole political history of the Second Empire.
Art. VIII.- History of England, comprising the Reign of
Anne until the Peace of Utrecht. By Earl STANHOPE. London: 1870. 118 volume, in which Lord Stanhope has made an impor
tant and valuable contribution to English history, has unavoidably a somewhat fragmentary character when regarded by itself. It is, in truth, the separate preface of a greater work accomplished many years ago. The author's · History of
• • England from the Peace of Utrecht to the Peace of Versailles' has long taken its place on our shelves, as the received textbook of the events of its period, and a portion of the common 'catena' of English historians whom we are accustomed to consult in the first place when any question suggests itself to our minds. No historical work of the same class has perhaps been so generally read, with the exception of Macaulay's; and Macaulay, in all probability, designed and arranged his great undertaking in the hope of coming down to the point from which his friend and fellow-labourer had started. This peculiar coincidence of circumstances gives of necessity this somewhat truncated character to the present work. It completes, in truth, a missing link between Macaulay's latest fragment and Lord Mahon's former volumes.* The Peace of Utrecht,' however marked an era it were in European annals, was not accompanied by any domestic events which could mark it as a crisis for England. But the death of Queen Anne, which occurred a year afterwards, was such a crisis ; and in reading by itself Lord Stanhope's recent narrative, which terminates with the first event, we feel as if we were witnessing a play which breaks off at the fourth act. These, however, are consequences of the intention with which it was composed, and we only notice them to indicate a natural cause of disappointment to readers who take it up separately from what we must term the context.
This being the case, however, it is interesting to mark the slight and not ungraceful changes which, under the influence of long years and mature thought, have passed over the writer's mind, and coloured, not his narrative, but his speculations. He began his historical career as the inheritor of the name and achievements of great Whig leaders of the great Whig days; he reverenced their characters, and held stoutly to their policy,
* For the sake of clearness, we propose to cite the earlier History as Lord Mahon's, and the present volume as Lord Stanhope's.
but he belonged, as regards the politics of his own day, to the Tory or modern Conservative persuasion. Hence, while he entered with something of youthful impetuosity into the ancient quarrel of Queen Anne's days, and took side with his ancestral allies as vehemently as a Stanhope of the period might have done, he felt himself exposed to some imputations of inconsistency between his historical and his contemporary leanings. This he endeavoured to anticipate by a well-known and often-quoted passage, in which he maintained the paradox that in the course of time, Whigs and Tories had, in point of fact, changed swords in the heat of conflict, like Hamlet and Laertes, and that the relative meaning of these terms in 1700 was not different from, but opposite to, that which they bore at the accession of William IV. Macaulay criticised this ingenious parallel, which its author to a certain extent, but with much less of youthful zeal for a crotchet, now once more defends. Substantially, Lord Stanhope stands, in this volume, on the same ground which he held as Lord Mahon thirty years ago; he has not relaxed in his rooted conviction that the Whig policy was substantially the right; but advancing years, while they have made him more tolerant and more comprehensive, have perhaps also a little impaired his confidence in his own convictions. The Peace of Utrecht, when he first wrote in 1836, was the consummation of political wickedness.
* To our enemies,' he says (Lord Mahon, ch, i.), ‘I would willingly leave the task of recording the disgraceful transactions of that period. Let them relate the bedchamber-influence of Mrs. Masham with her sovereign, and the treacherous cabals of Harley against his colleagues -by what unworthy means the great Administration of Godolphin was sapped and overthrown-how his successors surrendered the public interests to serve their own-how subserviency to France became our leading principle of policy-how the Dutch' were forsaken, and the Catalans betrayed—until at length this career of weakness and wickedness received its consummation in the shameful Peace of Utrecht.'
But the Lord Stanhope of 1870 has quietly abandoned the nos certè taceamus line, and has chronicled these matters himself with reasonable equanimity. Lord Godolphin's government is still the 'great Whig administration of Queen • Anne' (p. 441), but its leader is reduced to a very insignificant level. “As Sunderland had written a few weeks before: “If Lord Treasurer could but be persuaded to act like a
“ man.” But that was the very thing Godolphin could not • do.' Queen Anne, in his first portrait of her, was merely a half-witted person in nominal possession of a throne. • Can it • be necessary to waste many words upon the mind of a woman
who could give as a reason for dismissing a cabinet minister, that he had appeared before her in a tie-wig instead of a full• bottom?' Lord Stanhope's Queen Anne, in 1870, is dull,
? no doubt; 'her powers of mind were certainly not consider• able.' But she had many exemplary qualities, and fairly ' merited the popular appellation of “Good Queen Anne.' Her letters to Sunderland show 'great rectitude of purpose;' and, especially, she was throughout an excellent High Church woman; a qualification to which, perhaps, the Lord Mahon of 1836 might not have attached so much importance. Mrs. Masham, the wielder of the odious bedchamber influence,' denounced in the former history, has become a lady of “placid
temper and ingratiating manners,' whose personal control over her Sovereign is chiefly exerted in the way of securing ecclesiastical appointments for sound men of • High Church and • Tory opinions.' Lord Mahon's Harley was one of the most • remarkable examples in history how it is possible to obtain
both popularity and power without genius or virtue.' Even his vaunted taste for literature was only a specious and in
genious sort of idleness.' Lord Stanhope's Harley is merely a very commonplace politician,' but “truly at home with men * of genius, thoroughly enjoying their converse and desirous of • their friendships. These, however, as we have already said, we cite but as indications of the natural change, the smoothing of wrinkles and rubbing down of asperities, which years bring, together with increased hesitation as to one's own infallibility, in the case of minds of the happier temperament, capable of refinement and expansion. But on some points we must own that this amiable tendency appears to us to preponderate over the severer virtues of the historian; and of this the most important instance is his treatment of the great figure of his canvas, Marlborough.
There can be no doubt that the overflowing iconoclastic zeal of Macaulay against the great captain has produced a certain reaction in his favour in the minds of many general readers, and of some competent judges; and it is in this sense that we interpret Lord Stanhope's language in his present Preface:
'In the reign of Anne, the main figure in war and politics—around which, it may be said, that all the others centre—is undoubtedly Marlborough. I have, to the best of my ability, endeavoured to weigh his character in the scales of impartial justice, believing as I do that these scales have not been held even in the hand of preceding writers.'
Lord Stanhope has, in our opinion, fully redeemed the pro