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down his portfolio and swore that if war was not declared he would give it up and renounce his military rank. The Emperor gave way, and Gramont went straight to the Chamber to announce the fatal
'Such was his account to me of the most mcmentous transaction which has occurred in Europe since 1815. In it I do not see in the Emperor the same man who, with so much caution and preparation, bided his time before he attacked Austria in Italy in 1859, and who with such rare perseverance after years of failure and prison raised himself to what appeared to the world an impossible throne. I attribute this change in the Emperor, first, to his broken health and acute sufferings, and the loss of the character of mind, which had been weakened and diluted since he renounced his personal rule for the advice of responsible Ministers.'
On May 20, 1872, the ex-Emperor landed at Dover, where he was touched by the kindly and respectful reception he met with from the English people, and on the following day Lord Malmesbury visited him at Chislehurst.
'After a few minutes he came into the room alone, and with that remarkable smile which could light up his dark countenance he shook me heartily by the hand. I confess that I was never more moved. His quiet and calm dignity and absence of all nervousness and irritability were the grandest examples of human moral courage that the severest Stoic could have imagined. I felt overpowered by the position. All the past rushed to my memory: our youth together at Rome in 1829, his dreams of power at that time, his subsequent desperate attempts to obtain it; his prisons, where I found him still sanguine and unchanged; his wonderful escape from Ham, and his residence in London, where, in the riots of 1848, he acted the special constable like any Englishman. His election as President by millions in France in 1850; his farther one by millions to the Imperial Crown; the part I had myself acted as an English Minister in that event, which had realised all his early dreams; the glory of his reign of twenty years over France, which he had enriched beyond belief, and adorned beyond all other countries and capitals; his liberation of Italy-all these memories. crowded upon me as the man stood before me whose race had been so successful and romantic, now without a crown, without an army, without a country or an inch of ground which he could call his own, except the house he hired in an English village. I must have shown, for I could not conceal, what I felt, as, again shaking my hand, he said: "A la guerre comme à la guerre. C'est bien bon de venir me voir." In a quiet natural way he then praised the kindness of the Germans at Wilhelmshöhe; nor did a single complaint escape hinı during our conversation. He said he had been trompé as to the force and preparation of his army, but without mentioning names; nor did he abuse any one, until I mentioned General Trochu, who deserted the Empress, whom he had sworn to defend, and gave Paris up to the mob, when the Emperor remarked, “Ah! voilà un drôle." During half an hour he conversed with me as calmly as in the best days of his life, with a
dignity and resignation which might be that of a fatalist, but could hardly be obtained from any other creed; and when I left him that was, not for the first time, my impression.
When I saw him again in 1871 I found him much more depressed at the destruction of Paris, and at the anarchy prevailing over France, than he was at his own misfortunes; and that the Communists should have committed such horrors in the presence of their enemies, the Prussian armies, appeared to him the very acme of humiliation and of national infamy.
'On January 9, 1873, he died in the presence of the Empress, who never left him, released from the storms of a fitful existence, from intense physical suffering, and saved from knowing the loss of his only son, whose fate she was soon destined to deplore alone.'
No doubt there was enough in the magnitude of the catastrophe, and in the dignity with which the Emperor bore his lost fortunes, to awaken these touching sentiments in the heart of an old-a lifelong-friend. But history pronounces a sterner judgement. The Second Empire was brought about by deceit and violence; it was an epoch of despotic administration and profligate expenditure, which extinguished in France the very sense and capacity for constitutional freedom; and it ended by calamities far greater to the nation that bore them than to the man who caused them. On this, and on many other political topics, it is natural that we should differ from Lord Malmesbury, who has played for so many years a distinguished rôle in the party whose views are generally opposed to our own. But we wish to part on the best possible terms from a writer to whom we are indebted for so agreeable and instructive a publication. Lord Malmesbury writes entirely without affectation, without prejudice, and without passion. He remains what he has always been a staunch member of the Tory party. He has taken the course in politics which he conceives to be most consistent with the principles of his friends and the welfare of the nation; but the social relations he has maintained through life with men of various opinions, and the tone in which he generally speaks of his political antagonists, show that on the great questions that affect the dignity and welfare of England men are less widely divided than they are apt to imagine, when they are governed by the sentiments of a gentleman and a patriot.
VOL. CLX. NO. CCCXXVIII.
ART. V.-1. Vingt Années de République Parlementaire au Dix-septième Siècle: Jean de Witt, Grand Pensionnaire de Hollande. Par M. ANTONIN LEFEVRE-PONTALIS. 2 vols. Svo. Paris: 1884.
2. History of the Administration of John de Witt, Grand Pensionary of Holland. By JAMES GEDDES. Vol. I. 16231654. 8vo. London: 1879.
TH HE recent death of the Prince of Orange and the imminent extinction, in the direct male line, of a family which through so many centuries has been the crown and keystone of the arch of Dutch independence, give a peculiar interest to the opportune publication of a Life of John de Witt, the central figure in the struggles of the seventeenth century, who rose to power on the crest of the great republican wave, and whose tragical death marked an important epoch in the constitutional history of his country. It is some five years since Mr. Geddes issued the first volume of a work on this subject; a work of great labour and research, but utterly wanting in proportion, and written in such a strained and contorted language, that it is not surprising that the author has not been encouraged to continue his task. We must, however, regret this; for, notwithstanding its clumsiness of manner, it has a real historical value, and, so far as it goes, forms a useful commentary on the later work of M. LefèvrePontalis. This is drawn almost entirely from original sources, letters or other documents, private or public, to which the author has had access in Holland or in France, and which he has examined with an industry and completeness worthy of our warm acknowledgements. One important point, indeed, he has unfortunately neglected. He would almost seem to have forgotten that in affairs, whether civil or naval, in which English diplomatists or English admirals bore a large part, there was a possibility that English books and English records might contain some important matter tending to confirm, to modify, or to confute views derived solely from the study of Dutch or French writers. His references to English published works are but few, and references to English MSS. are altogether wanting. He has thus been led into occasional mistakes as to fact, and more often, perhaps, as to inference.
Another point to which we are compelled to call attention as seriously detracting from the value of the work, is the extreme inaccuracy with which statements involving figures have been printed. No reliance can be placed on any of
them. If they are references, the pages are wrongly numbered, as in vol. i. p. 151 n., where a reference to 'Thurloe's State Papers,' vol. i. pp. 569, 570, is printed 269, 270; if sums of money, the amount is wrongly given, as in vol. i. p. 339, where 24,000 tonnes d'or' is printed instead of 24. Dates are the worst, and give rise to a chronological confusion which is at once grotesque and embarrassing. Some of these may be mere typographical errors, such as 1633 (i. 227 n.), or 1653 (i. 229 n.), both for 1655; but it can scarcely be the printer's fault that Tromp's death in August is announced in a letter dated 15th April, 1653 (i. 147 n.); that the reply to a letter dated 29th February is dated 25th February, 1672 (ii. 254 n.); or that a date is given 8-19 July (ii. 465 n.). Mistakes of this kind are much too frequent, and tend to make the study of the work both difficult and unsatisfactory, for it is not always possible for the reader to correct them. It is a point to which we would earnestly beg the author's attention before the book runs to a second edition.
According to the date adopted by M. Lefèvre-Pontalis, John de Witt was born at Dordrecht on September 24, 1625,* though Mr. Geddes prefers the statement inscribed in the records of the University of Leyden, that in October, 1641, he was eighteen years old, and dates his birth in 1623. For several generations his family had ranked as distinguished. citizens of Dordrecht; his father, Jacob de Witt, was six. several times re-elected burgomaster of that town, was its deputy in the States of Holland, which he represented in the States General; in 1644 was ambassador of the United Provinces in Sweden, and was still there when, early in 1645, he received news of the death of his wife, the mother of John, of another son Cornelis, two years older, and of two daughters. The two brothers had by that time finished their studies at Leyden, and in the following October left home for a tour through France and England. This extended over a period of nearly two years, the greatest part of which was spent in France-not all, indeed, in mere pleasure; for at Angers, where they arrived just six weeks after leaving Dordrecht, they remained three months, and graduated as Doctors in Law. After travelling through the south of France, they returned to Paris in October 1646, and in May 1647 crossed over to England, where they stayed little more than six
* We give the dates throughout in continental, or New Style, unless otherwise noted.
weeks; during which, in London, they saw both the Houses of Parliament, the tombs at Westminster, the Tower with the animals, and the beautiful tapestry;' on June 14 they began a small tour through the country,' visiting Hampton Court and Windsor; Basingstoke, and saw in passing the ruins of Basing House;' Salisbury, and saw on the way Stonehenge, a place where a great many large stones, very old, are standing in the ground, with some others laid across above them.' They went on to Bristol, returning by Bath, where John had a bath three times;' through Marlborough 'to Sir John St. John's, a gentleman dwelling at the mansion at Lidiard, who showed us much courtesy, ' and we shot a stag in his park ;' to Oxford, where we saw 'almost all the colleges and the library, which is very beautiful;' and so back to London. On July 23 they were at Gravesend, whence they took ship for Holland. The journal of the tour, kept by John, is extremely meagre, and is in fact little more than a note of places visited and expenses; but is not without interest, as indicating a stage in the education of the two young men whose future career is an important chapter in the history of the two countries.
Very shortly after their return the brothers were sworn in as advocates in Holland, and Cornelis was appointed to a minor magistracy in Dordrecht. John appears to have devoted the next two years to the practice of law at the Hague, and to have occupied much of his leisure with the study of mathematics, and more especially of the then novel co-ordinate geometry, on which he contributed a paper to a collection published in 1659 by Francis Schooten, professor of mathematics at Leyden.* As well as mathematical treatises, John de Witt is said to have written verse; and a translation into Dutch of Corneille's 'Horace' has been attributed to him. Mr. Geddes inclines to the opinion that the translator was a different man of the same name. M. Lefèvre-Pontalis will not agree to this, though he admits that the translation does not do much honour to John de Witt's poetical genius, adding, as an excuse
'He never had leisure to perfect himself in writing poetry, nor even to
The title of this essay is Johannis de Witt Elementa curvarum 'linearum, edita operâ Francisci à Schooten;' and the preface-in which he speaks of it as the work of former days when he had leisure for such studies, and says he should like to make it more perfect, if only more important business would permit-is dated at the Hague, October 8, 1658.