History of Prussia - John S. C. Abbott

The Germanic Empire

All the plans of Count Bismarck seemed almost miraculously to succeed. The thought of a great German empire in the heart of Europe, which should rival in grandeur and power the glories of Charlemagne, apparently inspired all Germany with such enthusiasm as to silence every republican murmur, and cause all fears of despotism to be forgotten, and all aspirations for popular rights to be obliterated from the public mind. State after State of Southern Germany professed allegiance to Prussia, and its readiness to accept King William as Emperor of United Germany,—emperor by divine right; to be the ruler, and not the servant, of the people.

Bismarck knew full well, and frankly gave expression to the opinion, that France would never consent, except by compulsion, to leave herself at the mercy of Germany; which empire, holding both banks of the Rhine, could at any time pour her armies resistlessly into the empire of France. It was certain, that, were peace made upon those terms, France, so soon as she had recovered from the exhaustion and ravages of the war, would gather her strength anew, to regain those provinces which she deemed essential to her independent existence, now that Germany had become a power before which all Europe trembled. Hence it was that Bismarck deemed it essential to the success of his plans that Prussia should not only hold those Rhenish provinces on the south side of the Rhine upon which she had already reared so many impregnable fortresses, but that she should wrest from France the whole remaining line from her frontier-fortress of Lauterburg,—a hundred miles south, to Basle, in Switzerland.

[Illustration] from History of Prussia by John S. C. Abbott


This acquisition, transferring to Prussia the magnificent provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, with the ancient fortress of Strasburg, would sink France to a second-rate power. Nothing could induce her to make this sacrifice but the deepest conceivable humiliation. The fact that Prussia was abundantly prepared for the war, with her armies all marshaled, with her ammunition-wagons all filled, with her transportation-cars all ready, indicates clearly that the attainment of this end was the prominent object which Prussia had in view at the commencement of the war. And it must be admitted that this was shrewd policy. It was an essential step in the plan of reviving the empire of Charlemagne upon the old feudal foundation of the divine right of kings. To all the pleadings of humiliated France for peace, the invariable reply was, "Surrender Alsace and Lorraine!"

Terrible as was the loss which the Prussians encountered in their series of almost uninterrupted victories, their ranks were kept full by an incessant stream of recruits forwarded from the Germanic States. The loss of life seemed to be a matter not taken into consideration in the prosecution of these plans of territorial aggrandizement.

At no time from the commencement of the invasion was there less than half a million of well-trained German soldiers in France. Within a few weeks, they captured or destroyed three hundred and fifty thousand regular French troops. It is said that there were about four hundred thousand soldiers of all arms, many merely citizen-soldiers, who were shut up in Paris. They manned the forts, kept up an incessant fire on the Prussian lines, and made many desperate sorties. Though at times partially victorious, they were, in the end, always baffled. Not a wagon could enter the city; not an individual could leave but by soaring through the clouds in a balloon.

Various attempts were made, with more or less of success, to create in different parts of France, beyond the reach of the Prussian cannon, new armies. But the well-trained Germans swept the territory in all directions, and almost every day brought its catalogue of their victories and their conquests. Everywhere that any considerable French force made its appearance, either in the north near Amiens, or in the south upon the Loire, they were pretty sure to be promptly assailed by a superior force of Prussians; and however fiercely they fought, and however densely they strewed the ground with the slain of their assailants, they Were eventually put to flight.

Early in December, a sortie  was attempted from Paris with a hundred thousand men. The battle was as fierce as mortal energies could wage.. The slaughter on both sides was dreadful. Both parties made victorious onsets; both parties shared in disastrous defeats. Thousands of hearts in the cottages of France and Germany were rent with anguish as tidings reached them of loved ones who would never return. Still Prussia was steadily winding her chains more tightly around the doomed city, crying out, "Give us Alsace and Lorraine!" and still the despairing French exclaimed, "We will bury ourselves beneath the ruins of Paris ere we will submit to any farther dismemberment of the empire!" The tide of public opinion in England and America was now rapidly turning in favor of the French, who were now fighting so heroically for the integrity of their realms. All that France now hoped for was to obtain such terms of peace as would not compel every Frenchman to hang his head for shame. A writer in the New York Herald  of Dec. 3 undoubtedly gave expression to the rapidly-increasing public sentiment in saying,—

"And here we are led to look at the present object and spirit of the war on the part of Prussia. Both the purpose and character of this dreadful conflict have changed. From a war of defence, and against the Bonapartes, it has become an ambitious and a relentless one. To squelch the French republic, and to dismember France, is now the object of the King of Prussia. He says, or rather Count Bismarck says for him, that it is not continued from hostility to republicanism. Both pretend that they are not making war upon the republic of France; that they are comparatively indifferent as to what form of government the French people may choose; and that they have no wish to interfere with such choice, or to impose any government upon the nation. This declaration does not accord with their action, nor with their sentiments and policy. It is unreasonable to suppose a proud monarch, an absolutist of the old 'divine-right' school, like King William, would be indifferent to the establishment of a republican government in France, or that he would not try to prevent it. It is as unlikely that his aristocratic minister, or the proud aristocracy of Prussia, and the hundreds of petty princes of Germany, are indifferent. No: they fear too much the danger to their own privileges from a great republic in the heart of Europe, embracing such a vast territory and population. They know by experience and from the lessons of history what an extraordinary influence a French republic has in awakening and diffusing republican ideas and aspirations in surrounding nations. They dread this propagandism of liberty and democracy; and, if possible, will extinguish the fire before it is well lighted."

The pressure of defeat and misery was gradually uniting all parties. The Catholic priesthood, which has almost boundless influence over the peasantry, was at first bewildered in view of the usurpation of the government by democratic leaders in Paris, who were as hostile to the church as to the empire; but the priests now began to see that the triumph of the Prussians was the ruin of France.

"The priests," said The London Times  of Dec: 2, "in the rural districts, are preaching against the Prussians. The rustics are, consequently, terribly incensed against the invaders. German patrols in the Valley of the Loire are shot down from every hedge and building. The Prussian bearers of dispatches are killed when nobody but innocent-looking ploughmen are in sight. Many of these priests have been captured by the Prussians, and they will be brought to trial."

The French troops did not rally with any enthusiasm around Garibaldi: he was a foreigner and a heretic. Though he fought heroically, and gained some minor victories with his small band, he could accomplish nothing which would have any serious bearing on the issues of the war. After almost every victory, he found it necessary to order a retreat.

Early in December, Gen. De Paladines, who had gathered an army of two hundred thousand new levies near Tours, commenced a march for the relief of Paris. As he approached the walls, a sortie  was to have been made, and the Prussian line at that point was to have been crushed between the hosts. The sortie  was attempted, and, though partially successful, did not accomplish the end desired. Gen. De Paladines commenced his march. He was soon encountered by a superior force under Prince Frederick Charles, and after a two-days' battle, having inflicted and suffered terrible slaughter, was driven back to Orleans.

The Prussians pursued them, and, having erected their batteries, threatened to open fire upon the city. To save the citizens from the horrors of a bombardment, De Paladines withdrew his army, and, retiring to the left bank of the Loire, permitted Orleans for the second time to fall into the hands of the foe. This was on the 4th of December. The victorious Prussians, moving in various directions, recaptured five important towns in the vicinity. Still the French did not yield to despair. The London Times  of Dec. 5 says,—

"Special dispatches show that the people are more encouraged and better assured than ever before. Although in the midst of almost crushing misfortunes, the republicans are waging a desperate struggle for life and liberty."

The disastrous defeat of De Paladines' army seemed to destroy all hopes in Paris for relief from abroad. Famine is a foe against which no power in the end can contend. There were two millions of people shut up in Paris. Rapidly their provisions were disappearing; and no additional supplies could by any possibility be brought into the city. Haggard cheeks and skeleton frames were already seen in the streets; the animals in the menagerie in the Jardin des Plantes were slain and eaten; cats and dogs and rats were, in the disguise of French cookery, eagerly devoured; horse-flesh became a coveted dainty. To all the world it appeared that the end was at hand, and that Paris must speedily capitulate.

All accounts agreed in describing the conduct of the French in these engagements as heroic in the extreme. Many of the charges they made excited the admiration of their foes. They disprove the assertion so frequently made, that the Frenchmen of the present generation are wanting in the chivalric courage which characterized their ancestors.

Still the democratic provisional government at Tours distrusted the old generals of the empire. They attributed every defeat to their devotion to the empire, and to their want of zeal in fighting for a republic.

"It is a standing belief of the French," says one of the daily journals, "that every general of theirs who is beaten is a traitor. Napoleon, Bazaine, Leboeuf, Cans Vert, and the rest, are traitors, or they never would have suffered defeat. Cambriel also is a traitor, or he would have permitted the Garibaldians to ride rough-shod over him. The last traitor is De Paladines, even he who was the idol of last week. We place him in the list because the French already talk of having him court-martialed. All idea that the Germans are mainly responsible for the defeat of their armies is scouted by the people; it is impossible; and so the poor generals get the blame."

The news was soon flashed along the wires that the ancient city of Rouen, the world-renowned capital of Normandy, was in the hands of the conqueror. This enriched the Prussians with the spoils of one of the most fertile departments in France,—filling their magazines with grain, and abundantly supplying them with herds of fat cattle. Rouen was within sixty miles of Havre, one of the most important seaports in France, and the seat of many of its most celebrated manufactures. The occupation of Rouen by the German troops cut off all communication between Havre and the interior of France. Havre was trembling with fear, and all her energies were paralyzed. Thus, day after day, the prospects of France became more dark and hopeless: every Frenchman understood that it was a struggle for national life. The surrender to the great German Empire of the south bank of the Rhine, for the entire distance from Belgium and Holland to Switzerland, would prove a blow from which France could never hope to recover. Whether France were to exist as a republic, a monarchy, or an empire, she must forever relinquish the proud supremacy she had so long held in Europe. The Emperor of Germany could at any time say, "Obey me, or I shall punish you."

Gen. Trochu had conducted the defence of Paris with great ability. He had marshaled under his banners four hundred thousand men, whom he had carefully drilled, and supplied amply with arms from the arsenals of Paris. By the incessant fire of his forts, he had kept the enemy at such a distance from Paris, that he manifestly could not open upon the city any effective bombardment. Still it was reported in the journals that the private secretary of the United-States ambassador (Mr. Washburne) had stated on the 4th of December that famine would compel the surrender of Paris within three weeks. Prince George of Saxony also telegraphed to the king at Dresden, that it would not be possible for the French to attempt any more offensive movements. Still many considered it probable that Gen. Trochu would make another desperate effort to cut through the lines of the beleaguering foe.

As we write these lines, near the middle of December, one immense portion of the Prussian army, variously estimated at from four to five hundred thousand men, surrounds Paris with impregnable lines over thirty miles in circuit. Another army, over two hundred thousand strong, is driving the army of Gen. De Paladines, consisting of two hundred thousand men and five hundred pieces of cannon, across the Loire to the southern bank, and is threatening a march upon Tours to disperse that portion of the provincial government which is assembled there. Another large German army is near Amiens, sending out clouds of cavalry to scour the country in all directions.

The only intercourse which the government in Paris can have with the outside world is by means of balloons. Watching the wind, an immense balloon is sent up some two or three miles into the air, and then is left to drift over the Prussian lines, often the target for sharpshooters and artillery, until, beyond the reach of Prussian capture, it descends into the fields of France with its compact mail, and often with several passengers. A few days ago, one of these balloons was seen flying before a fierce wind, far off to sea, where all must have perished.

Carrier-pigeons are taken from Paris in these balloons. Letters are tied around their necks, when they return on swift wing to their accustomed cotes in Paris. Thus only does the government in Tours hold any communication with the committee within the walls of the city.

The tremendous cannon planted upon the forts surrounding Paris keep up an incessant cannonade upon the Prussian lines. The thunders of the bombardment shake the hills by day and by night. There are daily battles as the French emerge from some portion of their works, and fall fiercely upon the bristling circuit of bayonets and batteries which surround them. An eye-witness, who stood upon an eminence in the Prussian lines on the 4th of December, thus describes the scene in a dispatch dated the next day:—

"A grand effort was made yesterday and the day before. There was a heavy cannonade; but no infantry appeared on the north side. Very early yesterday, it was apparent there was hot work in the west. Mont Valdrien was thundering away in every direction. From the eminence overhanging Argenteuil everything was visible: a battle was progressing south of Valerien. Closer to me, the work was very warm. In the morning, shells from the batteries at Nanterre and Courbevoie had been crashing into Bezons and Argenteuil. A sheltered road behind the latter town is scored in many places with deep ruts made by the shells.

"On the other side of the eminence where I stood, the batteries kept up an unremitting fire of shells, which ploughed its summit in all directions; and the buildings which crown the eminence were knocked about remorselessly. As the day broke, my position became too dangerous, notwithstanding its great advantages as a point of outlook. I was compelled to evacuate, and retreat into the low ground beyond it, which was only 'out of the frying-pan into the fire.' If I went east, shells from Labriche were tumbling into Epernay. St. Gratian and Deuil and Montmigny and Stains were having rough times at the hands of Fort du Nord. Farther round, Digny and Le Bourget were attacked by Fort de l'Est. From Margency. I accompanied a staff-officer through Montmigny, round by Garagi and Arnonville. For the first time during the siege, the Fort du Nord was throwing shells into Montmorency.

"In the forenoon, there had been a sortie  toward Stains. Three battalions came over the fiat against it, supported by a close-sustained fire from the Fort du Nord and Lunette de Stains. The village was garrisoned by the second regiment of the Guard, and battalions of Queen Elizabeth's Regiment. The French had two battalions of Gardes Mobiles, and one of Garde Imperiale. They came on with great resolution and in excellent order. The German Guards, who were waiting for them, received them with a steady fire within short range. The Frenchmen tried a rush; but the bullets stopped them. After holding their ground for a little while, and exchanging shots with the Germans, the inevitable result, a retrograde movement, set in. The French, however, deserve credit for the regular manner of the retreat.

"Another demonstration, in the direction of Bourget, was made at a later hour. Dense columns of French troops appeared on the plain in front of Fort Aubersvillier, and advanced steadily towards Bourget; but they lost heart before they got nearer than the railway-station, and never came within range. Bourget, already pounded with shells, was again bombarded all day. In fact, the fire of shells from the forts all round the circuit was heavy and continuous, but so wild and purposeless, withal, that it did little damage everything on the northern side has been in the nature of a feint."

Such are the scenes, which, while we write these lines, are transpiring around unhappy Paris. To human view, there is no hope for France. The cup of humiliation is placed to her lips; and, unless there should be some almost supernatural interposition, she must drain it to its dregs.

The conduct of the Committee of National Defence in Tours, under these trying circumstances, did not secure the confidence of the people in France, or of intelligent observers in any part of the world. A writer in The New York Tribune  of Dec. 8 says,—

"The behavior of the Tours Government, on learning of the defeat of the Army of the Loire at Orleans, is more discouraging to the true friends of France than reverses in the field; for it shows that the men who are now suffered to direct the destinies of the nation have neither the intelligence nor the temper of statesmen, and that, in the days of humiliation and internal discord which must follow the close of the war, they will probably be found wanting in the real qualities of leadership which the country will then need.

"The policy of the Committee of Defence thus far has been to utter magnificent boasts, and, when their recklessness had been exposed, to throw the blame of failure upon people who don't deserve it. Very soon there will be a collapse of the whole fabric of deception, just as there was of Napoleon's military organization. M. Gambetta had better ask himself what he thinks will become of the government of the national defence when the day of enlightenment arrives."

Thomas Carlyle, who is the avowed advocate of absolute governments, and the opponent of government by the people, and who is probably more familiar with Prussian and German politics than almost any other man, expresses the following views in reference to the great German empire now rising into being. We give his words as reported in a letter from Mr. Moncure D. Conway, dated London, Oct. 25, and published in The Cincinnati Commercial:—

"I have just passed an evening," writes Mr. Conway, "with Thomas Carlyle. Long ago, he recognized 'magnanimous Herr Bismarck,' as he called him, as a man after his own heart, and as the 'coming man' of the fatherland. As you may judge, recent events have only increased his enthusiasm for Germany, and his esteem for Bismarck.

"With regard to Count Bismarck, he said, 'All the politicians in the world seem to me as mere windbags beside him. He has shown himself capable of throwing himself utterly into his cause; and all other causes are simply insignificant in comparison with his,—the building-up of a great genuine power and government in Europe out of the only solid materials left in it; for, really, it seems to me that the true principles of order and government have almost disappeared from Europe, were it not for Germany.'

"Speaking of the destiny of Germany, Carlyle expressed the opinion that it was inevitable that it would become speedily consolidated, and that the chief, more particularly the German portions of Austria would, a little later perhaps, be united with the rest of Germany. He anticipated that the influence of such a Germany would be infallibly peaceful. "The very name of the German indicates how strong he has already been in war. German means only guerre-man, or war-man.'"

Every day since the commencement of the war, the conflict has been marked with increasing ferocity on both sides. This, of course, was to have been expected. A small party of Prussian cavalry came clattering into a defenceless village near Rouen, and commenced levying some petty exactions from the people. While thus engaged, a body of French cavalry rode suddenly in, fired upon them, and killed several. The rest sprang to their horses, and escaped. The next day, the Prussians re-appeared with re-enforcements numbering six hundred men, and with two cannon. Ascending a neighboring eminence, they bombarded the town until it was laid in ashes, and then turned their guns upon the two neighboring villages of Hericourt and Le Fresnoy, which they also demolished. While engaged in this work, a party of French sharpshooters rapidly gathered, and placed themselves in ambush, to assail them as they retired; and this they did with a fire so deadly, that twenty-six wagons were required to carry off the slain.

"Everything," writes a correspondent from Havre to The Boston Journal, "leads me to believe that the Prussians are now becoming unduly ferocious. They meet a more decided resistance than heretofore, and revenge themselves on any one they catch. Their mode of procedure is to tie any unfortunate fellow they catch on the road by the wrists with a rope, which they attach to the pommels of their saddles. If one dragoon succeeds in arresting half a dozen, he ties them all in this way, and brings them in, dragging them at the animal's heels with the same exultation that an Indian would parade so many scalps. A hasty trial, in which there are only two or three formulas, is hurried through; and the nearest thicket answers for a place of execution. This is to strike terror into the hearts of all the civilians who desire to arm themselves. At the town of Armentieres, a perfectly trustworthy eye-witness, recently returned from Rouen, declares that he saw this sad spectacle. Men, pale with rage, were trying in vain to extinguish the fires that were burning down their houses; women, in despair, had thrown themselves on the ground, trying to cover their screaming children with their bodies, and huddling around them, the fragments of their wretched furniture, which they had dragged from the flames; one old woman, eighty-four years old, was screaming to be taken out of a burning house, and her son tore his hair as he tried in vain to drag the smouldering beams from her aged limbs; and one villager, a tremendous athlete, was so overcome with anger and sorrow, that he expired from apoplexy in the midst of his four widowed children. Meantime the hideous projectiles continued to fall, as by and by they will fall on dear old Paris and all the familial haunts, to baptize in blood the new republic. One of the incident's of this avenging bombardment had sinister consequences. Four men stood up together amid the ruins of their burned and blackened houses, and swore each to kill a Prussian before the next sunset. Four lancers were found dead near each other on the high road from Armentieres to Hericourt the next day. Extravagant as this may seem, it is strictly true To amuse themselves as they were returning home, the Prussians took a dozen stout peasants whom they found repairing a bridge over a road whereon French troops were expected to pass, and gave them each twenty-five lashes on their bare backs,—so mangling them, that none could stand alone after it."

It would be difficult to number the French cities which were exposed to the horrors of bombardment; and no one who has not witnessed the spectacle can form any conception of the terror and horror of the scene. An immense projectile, weighing from one to two hundred pounds, rises majestically into the air, and then, with a terrific noise, rushes headlong towards the ground, bursting as it strikes with a loud explosion, scattering ruin in all directions. Ponderous walls crumble before these thunderbolts of war. Massive buildings are demolished by them. There is no safety anywhere.

There is much more of sincere piety among many of the peasantry and the humble orders in France than is generally supposed in Protestant countries. When Strasburg was enduring the agony of bombardment, one who was present, sharing the peril and the terror, describes the scene as follows:—

"At a quarter before nine last night, the bombardment began. From that time until eight o'clock this morning (eleven hours), the firing did not cease. It was one continuous roaring,—a rushing and whistling of missiles in the air, followed by the crashing of chimneys, and, from time to time, cries of misery and terror, The night was very dark. It rained; and it was impossible, standing on the ramparts, to distinguish the position of the hostile batteries, which were placed behind some building, or protected by the scarp of the railroad; and they were thus enabled to carry on their work of destruction unpunished. Our people ask what this treatment signifies. . . Our enemies know that there are eighty thousand inhabitants in the city, a harmless population, children, trembling mothers; that the city is full of the sick and wounded, who are thus robbed of invigorating sleep, or whose death they accelerate. It is not possible to give an estimate of the damage done to innumerable buildings during the night. We should have to record nearly every street in the city; and, in some streets, nearly all the houses. The shells came from all sides, and into all quarters of the city.

"The shells fell by tens and hundreds in one and the same street. As soon as one house was set on fire, shell after shell was poured in upon the flames, preventing the work of the firemen. The whole city is covered with ruins: the roofs, chimneys, and facades are destroyed on all sides."

Such are the scenes which are now, as we write these lines, continually transpiring in France. It is, indeed, incomprehensible that a loving God can look calmly down in the permission of such enormities. While the city was shaken, and blazing beneath this terrific tempest of war, the pastor of the Church of St. Thomas issued the following notice to his flock:—

"If the dear God spare our life, a prayer-service will be held Sunday morning at half-past nine: if not, dear fathers and mothers, perform the religious duties yourselves, amid your own families. Read a hymn from the hymnbook, a chapter from the Bible. The God of old still lives: call on him in your need. And, though body and soul languish, we will still remain true to him, and thank him; for he is our Helper and our God."

The general course pursued by the Prussians upon the capture of a town is described by all correspondents as follows: A certain number of soldiers are immediately marched into the place. These generally arrive towards evening, after a day's march, hungry and cross. The mayor is sent for, and informed that so many cattle, so many bushels of grain, and so much wine, must be immediately furnished. The requisition usually amounts to very much more than it would be possible for the place to furnish. The trembling mayor collects everything he can. The soldiers are billeted in the different houses: the horses are often stabled in the church and town-hall. The Prussian flag is hoisted; and the slightest opposition to the will of the conqueror draws down upon the inhabitants the severest punishment. The soldiers must be fed, though women and children starve.

There were, occasionally, amusing events in the midst of these scenes of woe. The Prussians, emboldened by victory, often resorted to measures of astonishing audacity. It is said that the Mayor of Fontainebleau had gathered the city council around him, and was vigorously passing war-measures, when the clatter of a squadron of horsemen was heard in the courtyard. The leader of this cavalcade of forty men leaped from his horse, and, armed to the teeth, entered the council-chamber, and demanded the keys of the city.

"We have no keys," the mayor calmly replied. "Fontainebleau is an open town."

"Well, then," said the dragoon, "let us know where we can lodge; and prepare at once the necessary rations for thirty thousand men, who are only a few hours behind."

"All right," said the mayor; and then, turning to the council, added, "Let us conduct these gentlemen to the chateau, since we must; and there we can provide them with stabling and lodging."

The party immediately left for the magnificent chateau, a world-renowned edifice associated with many of the most extraordinary events in French history. The dragoons were conducted into the court-yard; and, while feeding their horses, the gates were suddenly closed. The mayor on the outside, looking through the iron railing, said, "Gentlemen, you are my prisoners: try and make yourselves at home." The dragoons were in a terrible rage, uttered fearful threats of vengeance to be inflicted so soon as their troops should come up, and refused to surrender.

"Very well," the mayor replied, "your poor beasts shall not suffer; but you shall not have one morsel of bread until you lay down your arms, and yield yourselves as prisoners. When the thirty thousand troops come, we will surrender to them, but not to forty dragoons."

In two hours the dragoons surrendered, and were sent to a safe place within the French lines. The thirty thousand troops did not come.

In conclusion, let us reflect upon the following historic facts, which probably no intelligent reader will controvert:

1. Prussia, or rather Count Bismarck, who represented Prussia, some years ago formed the project of re-organizing Germany into a vast empire founded upon the divine right of kings to rule, and of the duty of the people to be ruled.

2. In the accomplishment of this plan, the treaties of 1815, which Prussia had sworn to respect, were entirely disregarded and overthrown.

3. By diplomacy and war, Prussia suddenly rose from a nation of about fifteen millions to a nation numbering forty millions, with every able-bodied man a trained soldier, constituting a military power unsurpassed by that of any other nation.

4. France could easily have prevented this expansion by uniting with Austria, as M. Thiers urged the imperial government to do. This union would inevitably have crushed Prussia at Sadowa, and would have saved France from the ruin in which she is now involved.

5. The imperial government refused thus to oppose the unification of Germany, declaring that the Germans had a right to manage their own affairs, and that it was desirable for the prosperity of Germany that its fragmentary States should be consolidated into one nation.

6. This consolidation being thus effected, the imperial government in France asked, that, in consideration of its assent to the unification of Germany, Prussia should surrender to France those Rhenish provinces on the French side of the Rhine which had been wrested from her by the treaties of 1815, and placed in the hands of Prussia,—provinces which France deemed, in the altered state of affairs, essential to her independence; qualifying, however, the request with the provision, that the people of those provinces should decide by vote whether they would return to France, or would remain with Prussia.

7. Prussia peremptorily refused this proposition, but, recognizing in a measure the reasonableness of the demand, proposed, according to the testimony of the French and English ambassadors, that France should extend her frontier to the Rhine by seizing upon Belgium. This proposition France instantly rejected.

8. France then proposed to all the crowned heads of Europe that a congress should be called to reconstruct the boundaries of the nations, so that the agitating questions then arising, menacing Europe with war, should be settled by an appeal to reason, and not by the sword. This pacific plan was rejected.

9. Prussia, while France was thus trembling in view of her peril in having the immense fortresses on the left bank of the Rhine in the hands of so formidable a power, and leaving the gateway of France wide open to German invasion, endeavored by secret intrigue to place a German prince upon the throne of Spain. This would convert Spain into a German province, re-creating the old German empire of Charles V. Thus France would find herself powerless, exposed to be crushed by Germany at her leisure,

10. All France was alarmed. Imperialists, monarchists, and republicans alike shared in the general agitation. Prussia was informed that France could not consent to the conversion of Spain into a province of Germany by placing the Spanish crown upon the brow of a German prince.

11. Prussia consented to withdraw. Prince Leopold, to whom, as a man, France had no objection, but peremptorily (France says insultingly) refused to give any assurance that she would not place some other German prince upon the Spanish throne.

12. Thus menaced, the people of France exclaimed with one voice, that it had become essential to the independence of France that she should reclaim her ancient boundary of the Rhine. The uprising of the whole nation, of men of the most antagonistic parties, in this demand, is not to be regarded as an act of frivolity, but as a deep conviction, pervading the entire of France, that the independence of the nation was imperilled.

13. It is manifest that Count Bismarck, who represents Prussia, was aware that the measures he was adopting would lead to war; that he desired war; that he had made the most ample preparations for war; and that the results have, thus far, been just what he hoped to accomplish. Prussia retains the provinces on the left bank of the Rhine, crushes the military power of France, and seizes upon Alsace and Lorraine, thus in creasing her territory, multiplying her fortresses, and commanding both banks of the Rhine from Belgium to Switzerland.

14. One of the last telegrams which has crossed the Atlantic, as we write these lines, is as follows:—

"Intelligence from Brussels gives the assurances that Prussia is fully resolved to annex Luxemburg, upon the ground that Luxemburg is essential to render Lorraine strategically useful."

No intelligent man doubts that similar considerations will lead speedily to the positive or the virtual annexation of both Belgium and Holland. The grandeur of the Germanic Empire seems to leave them both at her mercy.

15. The action of the democratic leaders in the great cities, in taking advantage of the Prussian invasion, and of the captivity of the emperor, to seize upon the reins of power, operates in many respects very disastrously. The empire was the choice of the French people. The democratic party in Paris, Lyons, and Marseilles, composed of an incongruous mass of moderate republicans, red republicans, and socialists, in deadly hostility to each other, has not the confidence of the people of France. They cannot with enthusiasm rally around usurpers, who in the hour of disaster have grasped power, unsustained by either the old feudal doctrine of divine right, or by the modern doctrine of popular suffrage.

16. France is effectually cut off by this action of the democratic leaders from any alliance with any other power. Prussia refuses to recognize these committees even enough to treat with them. England, Italy, Austria, all tremble in view of the enormous encroachments of Prussia; but not one of these powers can interfere in behalf of anarchic France. The British Government will not enter into an affiance with a self-constituted democratic committee in Paris. Victor Emanuel cannot lend his armies to build up a democracy in France, which has overthrown the empire, to which he is indebted for the crown of Italy,—a democracy whose first attempt, in case of success, would be to demolish his throne, and erect upon the ruins an Italian republic. Spain, which has rejected a republic and voted for a monarchy, and which has placed a son of Victor Emanuel upon her throne, refusing to recognize the committee for national defence as the government of France, cannot be expected to cross the Pyrenees with her armies to aid in consolidating a government which Spain has refused to acknowledge. And Austria is the last nation on the continent of Europe to be fighting for the establishment of democracy in France.

17. Thus the disastrous overthrow of the republican empire in these hours of misfortune and dismay—a government which was acknowledged and respected by all the nations of Europe, and which was established and sustained by the overwhelming majority of the French people—seems to doom France to irretrievable destruction. There is no cordial union at home, there is nothing to be hoped for from abroad.

18. France, under the empire, has for twenty years been one of the most prosperous, influential, and happy nations on the continent of Europe. All the arts of industry have flourished; the most magnificent works of internal improvement have been constructed; and the nation has been advancing with rapidity never before experienced in education, wealth, and power. Paris has been one of the most orderly, well-regulated, and attractive cities on the globe. The most refined and wealthy families from all nations have there found a happy home. Could France but hope that the next twenty years would be like the last, she would be happy indeed.

Suddenly a moral earthquake has come; and all France presents the aspect of consternation, ruin, and woe. More than half a million of invaders are sweeping over her territory, leaving behind them famine, smouldering ruins, and fields crimsoned with blood. There is no recognized government in France which Europe will acknowledge, or around which the French people are willing to rally. A darker hour than that which, at the close of the year 1870, spreads its gloom over France, few nations upon this globe have ever experienced. The world looks on with wonder to see what results God designs to evolve from these scenes of ruin and of wretchedness. When may we hope that the prayer which our Saviour has taught us will be answered?—

"Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, in earth as in heaven."