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and I are determined to use every effort to prevent war, which would cost 100,000 lives and desolate the fairest parts of Europe. My whole mind is occupied by that object.' (Vol. ii. p. 148.)
The British Government does not appear to have been aware of the extent of the engagements entered into at Plombières in the preceding autumn, between Louis Napoleon and M. de Cavour, including the cession to France of Savoy and Nice. But they knew enough to perceive that no reliance could be placed on any assurances of the two Powers; that every form of deceit was resorted to; and that it was what Lord Malmesbury calls an abominable 'trame.' The mission of Lord Cowley to Vienna, where he went to counsel moderation to the Austrians, and the subsequent proposal of a Congress, which Louis Napoleon assented to in order to gain time to complete his armaments, were mere fetches. A Congress based on a general disarınament was 'a fool's paradise;' Lord Cowley had proofs enough of the broken promises and falseness of the Emperor.' It was evident that his deliberate intention was war. Subsequent disclosures have proved that he had bound himself hand and foot to Cavour.
But, however strongly the British Government might condemn the dishonest and aggressive policy of France, it was wholly untrue that any attempt was made from London to organise the resistance of the other German Powers against her, although Louis Napoleon had been led by false informa-tion to believe it. Prussia had acted a wise and friendly part. She viewed with alarm the outbreak of war, and an attack on Austria in her Italian dominions. She sounded England as to her intentions in the event of the war becoming general. To this overture, Lord Malmesbury replied by an emphatic declaration of neutrality, and by strenuous advice to abstain from interference on the part of the German Powers. This important despatch was never shown to the Emperor Napoleon by his Minister, to whom it was communicated; and it was not published in England until the moment when the Ministry was tottering to its. fall, as Mr. Disraeli had neglected to lay the Blue-book before the House of Commons. The despatch was as follows:
'Foreign Office: May 2, 1859.
'Sir, I have to acquaint you that her Majesty's Government witness with great anxiety the disposition shown by the States of Germany to enter at once into a contest with France. Her Majesty's Government cannot perceive that at the present moment Germany has
any grounds for declaring war against that Power, and still less would the Confederation, in their opinion, be justified in prematurely adopting any course which would bring on a European war.
It is desirable, however, that the Governments of Germany should entertain no doubt as to the course which in such a case her Majesty's Government would pursue, and therefore you will explicitly state to the Government to which you are accredited that if Germany should at present, and without a casus fœderis, be so ill-advised as to provoke a war with France, and should, without any sufficient cause, make general a war which on every account ought, if possible, to be localised, her Majesty's Government determine to maintain a strict neutrality, can give to Germany no assistance, nor contribute by the interposition of the naval forces of this country to protect her coast from hostile attack.
'The elections now proceeding afford an undeniable test of public feeling on this point, and it may be said to be the only one in which the English people appear to be at the present moment absorbed. That Germany should arm and prepare for eventualities is natural and right, but in the opinion of her Majesty's Government no act has as yet been committed by France against Germany, and no treaty obligation subsists which justifies her to provoke an attack on her own territory or an invasion of France. 'I am, &c. 'MALMESBURY.
'Both I and Count Walewski bad received intelligence that the whole of the Prussian army was to be mobilised in consequence of the strong feeling in Germany against France.'
Whilst these events were going on abroad, Parliament was dissolved; and on the meeting of the new House of Commons a hostile amendment to the Address was moved and carried by a vote of 323 to 310-a majority of 13. Lord Derby immediately resigned. The foreign policy of the Government was not fully debated or understood, for the materials had not been laid before the House of Commons.
Thus fell,' says Lord Malmesbury, 'the second Administration of Lord Derby. With a dead majority against him, it is evident that he could not for long have maintained his ground, but it is equally certain that he would not have been defeated on the Address if Disraeli had previously laid on the table the Blue-book containing the Italian and French correspondence with the Foreign Office. Why he chose not to do so I never knew, nor did he ever explain it to me; but I presented it to the House of Lords at the last moment when I found he would not give it to the House of Commons, and at least twelve or fourteen members of Parliament who voted against us in the fatal division came out of their way at different times and places to assure me that, had they read that correspondence before the debate, they never would have voted for an amendment which, as far as our conduct respecting the war was concerned, was thoroughly undeserved, we having done everything that was possible to maintain peace. Mr.
Cobden was one of these, and expressed himself most strongly to me on the subject. It may be asked why Lord Derby did not himself order this Blue-book to be produced; but the fact was that he wished to resign, worn out by repeated attacks of gout and the toil of his office, and was indifferent to continuing the struggle. When, a few days after, the Blue-book was read, I received as many congratulations upon its contents as during the past year I had suffered attacks from the Opposition and from the "Press," and many members repeated over and over again that, had they read it, they would not have supported the amendment.' (Vol. ii. p. 189.)
Upon the announcement of the division, the Marquis d'Azeglio, Italian Minister, threw his hat in the air, screaming with delight, and embraced M. de Jaucourt, the French Chargé d'Affaires, in the lobby of the House. They hoped for the continuance of the war with the support of England. Peace, however, was not far off. In a month from that. time the preliminaries were signed at Villafranca, to the great disappointment of the ultra-Italian party of M. de Cavour, although Sardinia gained Lombardy by the bargain. M. de Persigny gave Lord Malmesbury, soon afterwards, a strange account of the transaction, perhaps not more true than several other statements of that personage, but it deserves to be cited:
'July 21st.-Persigny came to give me the account of how the peace was brought about. M. de Persigny, after the armistice, by the Emperor's order, went to Lord Palmerston and said that the time was come for meditation, and suggested conditions-namely, Venice and its territories to be taken from Austria, not annexed to Sardinia, but made into a separate and independent State. There were other conditions, but this was the principal one. That Lord Palmerston agreed to this, and rode down to Richmond to tell Lord John Russell, who was equally delighted; and that the proposal was adopted by them and sent to the Queen, who was at Aldershot, which occasioned some delay. That her Majesty refused her consent, saying the time was not come yet to make these proposals, as the fortresses were not taken. That, however, in the meantime, Persigny had telegraphed the consent of the English Government to his master, who immediately asked for an interview with the Emperor of Austria, showed him Persigny's despatch, saying, "Here are the conditions proposed by England and "agreed to also by Prussia. Now listen to mine, which, though those "of an enemy, are much more favourable. So let us settle everything together, without reference to the neutral Powers, whose conditions are not nearly so advantageous to you as those I am ready to grant." The Emperor of Austria, not suspecting any reservation, and not knowing that the Queen had refused her consent to these proposals, which, though agreed to by her Government, were suggested by Persigny evidently to give his master the opportunity of outbidding us, and making Francis Joseph think that he was thrown over by
England and Prussia, accepted the offer, and peace was instantly concluded.
'Louis Napoleon in his speech to the Senate and Chamber, who waited upon him at St. Cloud, acknowledged fairly that he could not have taken the fortresses, if at all, without too great a sacrifice of life, and also that it would have entailed a general war and revolution all over Europe.' (Vol. ii. p. 201.)
The Emperor Napoleon had been led to believe that Lord Derby's Government was irreconcileably hostile to the liberation of Italy, and to the French Government which had resolved to effect it, as far as concerned North Italy, for the Emperor's schemes as to the rest of the Peninsula were vague and impracticable. Hence a coolness had sprung up between Louis Napoleon and his old friend Lord Malmesbury. Some years afterwards (in 1861), being in France, Lord Malmesbury requested an audience of his Majesty, at which he explained that the policy of England had been strictly neutral, and that, in point of fact, her remonstrance had prevented Prussia and the German States from joining Austria when the French and their allies crossed the Ticino. The Emperor admitted that he was not aware of it, but he was out of humour with England, and railed at Lord Palmerston's preparations of defence. In fact, the relations of the two countries were not improved by the change of Ministry. The cession of Savoy and Nice was regarded here as a base, underhand transaction; Lord John Russell declared in the House of Commons that he would not sacrifice the alliance of the rest of Europe for the sake of France, and Persigny, who had been the ame damnée of Lord Palmerston the year before, now abused him as loudly as he had abused his predecessors in office. He even behaved ill to Lady Palmerston in Countess Apponyi's house.
Lord Malmesbury's official connexion with the Foreign Office ended with the fall of the second Derby Administration. Upon the return of the Conservatives to office in 1866, he declined so laborious an office, and accepted that of Lord Privy Seal; and on the withdrawal of Lord Derby he became the leader of his party in the House of Lords. The account he gives us of the distracted councils of the Cabinets of 1866, when the Tories turned Reformers, and introduced the most democratic measure ever proposed to Parliament, is extremely curious and amusing, but our limits forbid us to enter upon the tangled web of domestic politics, and we shall confine ourselves to those passages of this interesting work which complete the narrative of his relations with the Emperor
Napoleon. They met again in the spring of 1870, when the plébiscite had just been repeated to confirm the liberalised constitution under the Ollivier Ministry. Lord Malmesbury dined at the Tuileries on May 19.
'After dinner the Emperor invited the men to the smoking-room, where he took me aside, and I had a remarkable conversation with him. I naturally began by congratulating him on his plébiscite, which was just counted up, but I found that he was not satisfied, as some 50,000 of the army had voted "Non." He, however, explained that this had taken place in certain special barracks where the officers were unpopular and the recruits numerous, and that 300,000 soldiers had voted for him. This immediately struck me as strange, for I imagined his army was in numbers 600,000, and I made the remark, to which he gave no reply, but looked suddenly very grave and absent. He observed later that Europe appeared to be tranquil, and it was evident to me that at that moment he had no idea of the coming hurricane, which suddenly broke out the first week of the following July.
'His tone was altogether more sedate and quiet than I found him formerly employing. No speculative and hypothetical cases were discussed by him, and I feel sure that not a thought of the impending idea of a Hohenzollern being a candidate for the Spanish throne had crossed his mind. Count Bismarck had kept it a profound secret, and that very deep secrecy and sudden surprise is the strongest proof of his intention to force a quarrel upon France. The Emperor did not conceal, in his conversation with me, his disappointment in regard to Italy, which had become free, and then was under one sovereign; and he recognised that a great number of his own subjects considered that he had committed a terrible political error in being the cause of creating a strong and growing kingdom on the very frontier of France and in the Mediterranean.' (Vol. ii. p. 414.)
Within two months from this interview war was declared, and the Duc de Gramont, whose mismanagement at the provocations of Prussia under Bismarck must always be cited as the most incapable diplomacy on record, gave the following account of that event to Lord Malmesbury:
"The Hohenzollern candidateship to the throne of Spain was abandoned, and he declared that the Emperor was decidedly disposed to accept this renouncement and to patch up the quarrel, and turn this result into a diplomatic success, but his Ministers had avoided no opportunity of publishing the insult to France, and the Press stirred. the anger and vanity of the public to a pitch of madness, but none had taken advantage of this characteristic temper of the Emperor. Before the final resolve to declare war the Emperor, Empress, and Ministers went to St. Cloud. After some discussion Gramont told me that the Empress, a high-spirited and impressionable woman, made a strong and most excited address, declaring that "war was inevitable if "the honour of France was to be sustained." She was immediately followed by Marshal Le Bœuf, who, in the most violent tone, threw