Slike stranica

the phrases used were almost identical. People wondered whether it was by her. Madame de Staël protested that M. Schlegel wrote it, and it was quickly reprinted with Schlegel's name attached to it. But everyone felt convinced that she was the originator of the little book. Shortly afterwards she found another opportunity for pleading the cause of liberty by guiding the pen of Rocca in Memoirs " of the War in Spain.' With indefatigable enthusiasm did she seize all opportunities for educating public opinion against tyranny. When Bernadotte had been finally pushed into action and had left for Stralsund to command the North German troops, taking both Schlegel and Albert de Staël in his suite, Madame de Staël went to London in order to be a transmitter of news from the centre of all fresh intelligence.

To scheme and plot in public affairs was at the moment the occupation of every important political person in Europe. The Czar was endeavouring to force Metternich's hand, and to secure the friendship of Prussia. The French Emperor was engaged in trying to bribe the allegiance of Austria and Russia. The Austrian Chancellor was watching for an advantage that might give his country a chance of becoming the arbiter of other nations' destinies. In short, the diplomatic inter-relations of the chancelleries of Europe in 1812-13 were immensely complicated. With admirable lucidity M. Albert Sorel, in the last volume of his great history, deals with the intrigues and treaties that led up to the capitulation of Paris before the allies. His skill in disentangling and laying before our eyes the threads of the diplomatic web in which Napoleon was eventually enmeshed is beyond all praise.

Napoleon realised the state of affairs and tried to prevent Prussia from concluding an alliance with Russia by offering to make Frederick William III. King of Poland, and by the tentative bribe of Illyria to hinder Austria from allying herself with either Power. In spite of his efforts, the nations negotiated among themselves and drew up and signed the proclamation of Kalisch, while expressing to Napoleon satisfaction at the existing state of affairs. In March (1813) war was declared with the avowed object of freeing Germany and breaking up the Rheinbund. Many treaties were drawn up proposing different terms to France; but eventually it was decided to march on Paris, and demand the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty. The day of retribution had come.

When it was proved, by the proclamation of Louis XVIII.,

that a great tyranny was at last overthrown, a curious change came over Madame de Staël's spirit. She was at last free to return to Paris, but on landing at Calais she felt a pang of regret that her old enemy was beaten, her patriotic heart bled after ten years of exile to see Prussian uniforms on the landing pier, Cossacks at St. Denis, Austrians and English bivouacking about the Tuileries, and Russian Guards on the steps of the Opera House. She bardly recognised her beloved city, and was in despair at this her horrible return. It was the moment, however, of her greatest triumph: En Europe il faut compter trois puissances: l'Angleterre, la Russie, et Madame de Staël.'* She did the honours of Paris; all worlds met at her house. Throughout her life, faithful to the idea of liberty and only hating Napoleon in so far as he impersonated despotism, she commiserated him now that he was a prisoner. Knowing the weakness of the Restoration, the Hundred Days' afforded her no surprise. Napoleon on his return from Elba said he knew combien elle avait été généreuse pour lui pendant 'ses malheurs.' He tried to ingratiate himself with her: 'J'ai eu tort,' he said to his brother Lucien; 'Madame de 'Staël m'a fait plus d'ennemis dans son exil qu'elle ne m'en 'aurait fait en France.'† He no longer ignored her extraordinary influence throughout Europe, nor the power of the friendships she enjoyed with the great of all countries; he meant her to be his ally in the future, and through Joseph Bonaparte tried to secure her friendship, and even interested himself in Mademoiselle de Staël's marriage prospects, as a means to this end. Joseph wrote to Madame de Staël in April 1815:

'La France est aujourd'hui une avec l'Empereur; il veut donner plus de liberté que vous n'en voudrez . . . . vos sentiments, vos opinions peuvent aujourd'hui se manifester librement, elles sont celles de toute la nation, et je me trompe fort si l'Empereur ne devient pas dans cette nouvelle phase de sa vie plus grand qu'il ne l'a été.'

He went so far as to tell her that he had overheard Napoleon saying that there was no word in 'De l'Allemagne' to which objection could be taken!

All the friends of liberty in France had imagined that Napoleon would return from Elba in the same mind as that in which he went away. His new proclamations astonished them. There was to be no vengeance of any kind. Benjamin

Madame de Chastenay, ' Mémoires,' vol. ii. p. 445.

† P. Gautier, Madame de Staël et Napoléon,' p. 369.

Constant was summoned by the returned Emperor to discuss liberal ideas with him. It was possible to doubt sentiments, but not acts. The promise of public discussion,of responsible ministers, of the liberty of the press, and of free elections secured even Lafayette's allegiance. Waterloo followed too soon upon this profession for any man to tell what Napoleon would have accomplished with his new policy. The contest that had lasted for fifteen years was over. Napoleon went to his island grave, and Madame de Staël survived his disappearance but two years.

It must be confessed that Madame de Staël and the party to which she belonged judged the condition and situation of France in 1799 less well than Bonaparte. They believed in democracy as the panacea for all ills, and in the immediate possibilities of the people. If cynicism consists in seeing things as they actually are and not as they might be, Napoleon was a cynic who, to reduce a turbulent and uneducated canaille to order, allowed his policy to justify the worst fears of reasonable as well as sentimental liberalism. Mr. Fisher's words on his failure in dealing with peoples, though they are written in regard to his treatment of the German peasantry, apply equally well to his treatment of all people:

'With no patience, with no sense of human dignity, with no feeling for the pathos of the common lot, Napoleon lacked the sound and noble gifts which sweeten and inspire public life. The woman of genius whom he had exiled from France had a truer and more generous and therefore a more statesmanlike vision of the people, whose destiny had been so harshly deflected by the legions of the Empire.'*

Napoleon, as it were, summed up in himself the old inflexible ideals of military government. He might well be called the last of the Romans. His calm imperial brow bears the evergreen wreath of fame, but it is the fame of an older day, and though it is but a hundred years since he dominated Europe, he ranks with the classic conquerors of antiquity, and not among the passionate experimenters of the modern world. Madame de Staël belongs to another category and may be counted among the prophets. She believed in the future of the people; she believed that acts might one day be co-extensive with ideals; and in accord with these beliefs she spoke and lived. In the long duel she was the victor, for the principles she upheld triumphed. She clung to her

H. A. L. Fisher, 'Napoleonic Statesmanship in Germany,' p. 384.

beliefs in liberty, and held that personal dignity springing out of individual freedom is necessary to man if he is to be neither a savage nor a slave, and that the independence of the soul founds the independence of States. These convictions she confessed for many dangerous years in all ardour and sincerity, and every day justifies her protest, for morality and humanity have become, so far as the public conscience is concerned, since then a more integral part of politics. Madame de Staël's lonely cry has been echoed by millions. Napoleon was dethroned by the revolt against the old conceptions of government which he embodied, no less than by the cannon of Leipzig and Waterloo.



1. John Inglesant: a Romance. By J. HENRY SHORTHOUSE. London: Macmillan & Co., 1881.

2. The Little Schoolmaster Mark. By J. HENRY SHORTHOUSE. London: Macmillan & Co., 1884.

3. Sir Percival. By J. HENRY SHORTHOUSE.

Macmillan & Co., 1886.


4. The Teacher of the Violin, and Other Tales. By J. HENRY SHORTHOUSE. London: Macmillan & Co., 1888.

5. The Countess Eve. By J. HENRY SHORTHOUSE. London: Macmillan & Co., 1888.

6. Blanche, Lady Falaise. By J. HENRY SHORTHOUSE. London: Macmillan & Co., 1891.

7. Life, Letters, and Literary Remains of J. Henry Shorthouse. Edited by his Wife. London: Macmillan & Co., 1905. 2 vols.

MICHELET maintains, what at first hearing and to most English ears will sound the greatest of paradoxes, that our national literature is profoundly irreligious, and more so (he says this by implication) than the literature of France. Michelet will not allow that Milton even is an exception, for the true hero of Paradise Lost' is, he says, not God but Satan. Here, no doubt, the answer is easy; the questions of mythos and ethos intervene. It is impossible to have a story woven round perfection, nor easy to give what we call character in such a case. But, putting Milton aside, putting aside our poets of reflection, and looking chiefly at our drama and our fiction, we find a good deal there to support Michelet's contention. Compared with the Greek tragedy, religion counts for very little with Shakespeare and with the whole army of Elizabethan dramatists. The good folk and the evil in Shakespeare's tragedies-Cordelia or Macbeth, Othello or Romeo-seem mostly to think that evil and good alike end on this side of the tomb- upon this bank and shoal of time.' Were it not that when religion comes into Shakespeare it and its phrases are of a conveniently conventional type, the playwright would have been puzzled to know what framework to give them; for his personages are in fact neither Protestant nor Catholic, neither Christian nor Pagan. Whoever witnessed the performance

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