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of him; and Sir Theodore Martin would, in our judgment, perform a second task, of equal or even greater utility, if he would favour the world with a compendious abridgment of the work he has already produced. As a literary performance it would gain considerably by such an operation, and no one is better qualified than Sir Theodore himself to produce a lifelike and touching biography of the Prince in a moderate compass. We should gladly dispense with the numerous details of Court ceremonies, royal births and marriages, and all those puerilities which devoured so large an amount of the valuable life of the Prince. To English taste the fulsome sentiment which the Germans are wont to lavish on anniversaries, birthdays, and the loss of their relations by death, is inexpressibly wearisome, and we cannot understand the feeling which leads people to throw the glare of publicity on the most secret and sacred emotions of the heart, on the most touching incidents of life, and even on the bed of death. These passages in life are common to humanity. They are as frequent and as intense in the cottage as in the palace; and it seems to us to savour of a vulgar curiosity to wish to know whether royal personages are affected by them in the same manner as they affect ourselves.
More serious exception might be taken to the numerous political allusions and innuendoes contained in these volumes, affecting the conduct and character of statesmen, some of whom are still alive, and all of whom, doubtless, served their sovereign in their turn to the best of their ability. These passages appear sometimes to have been suggested or dictated by considerations arising out of transactions long subsequent to the life of Prince Albert, and to have a reference to contemporary politics. It is obvious that insinuations proceeding from such a source admit of no discussion and no reply, and the indiscriminate introduction of strictures of this nature may garded as invidious, and not in keeping with the true purpose and spirit of this biography.
We should therefore be disposed to make large excisions from the future editions of this book, which deserves to retain a place in literature as the record of a singularly noble life, and also as an important contribution to the history of the present reign. Sir Theodore Martin has told us that in his survey of the character of Prince Albert he came upon no such defects as would have furnished that relief of shadow which is essential to pictorial effect. Sir Theodore Martin has the eye and the pen of a courtier.
of a courtier. To a more dispassionate observer it is obvious from these pages that Prince Albert
somewhat misconceived his position in this country; that he had been misdirected by the adviser who is styled his political • confessor at Coburg;' that his own inexhaustible desire to do good and to strive after the highest excellence led him to attempt many things he had better have left alone; and that he literally overtaxed his physical and intellectual powers to such a degree as to exhaust the very sources of life. These were not defects, but rather errors from an excess of zeal and goodness. Though he undoubtedly possessed extraordinary powers of self-control, and sought to conceal, even to the extent of effacement, the power he aspired to exercise, it seems never to have occurred to him that the Kings of England do, in fact, exercise no such power, and that the husband of the Queen was not a King of England. When the title of · Prince
Consort' was conferred on him by patent in June, 1857, he writes to the Dowager Duchess of Coburg: · Now I have a • legal status in the English hierarchy. Our sons were English • princes, I merely a Coburg prince. It was a source of weak
ness for the Crown that the Queen always appeared before the • people with her foreign husband.' What a singular delusion to suppose that the introduction of an unfamiliar title could in the slightest degree alter the actual status of the Prince or the character inseparably attached to his person! A man can no more alter his nationality by a great marriage than he can change his skin, and no man ever retained his original nationality as a Coburg prince more strongly than Prince Albert.
We have no desire, however, to dwell on the portions of these volumes which are of inferior importance, and which we should gladly see omitted. To us, the chief interest of the book consists rather in the frank, though somewhat indiscreet, language which the Queen has allowed Sir Theodore Martin to use, with her sanction, in speaking of the most illustrious of contemporary sovereigns and statesmen, and in the light thrown on many of the great transactions of Her Majesty's reign. To these we shall now turn.
We showed, in reviewing the third volume of these memoirs, that it was the Crimean War that called forth a truly British energy in the Prince, that he did not hesitate to upbraid in the strongest language his German friends for their halting and equivocal policy, and that he applied himself with excellent success to study the character of the Emperor Napoleon III., and to strengthen the alliance of the Western Powers, which reached its culminating point in the State visit of Queen Victoria to Paris in August, 1855. The conclusion of the story places before the reader, by slow and almost imperceptible steps, the reverse of this picture, and even foreshadows that great catastrophe which, many years after the death of Prince Albert, brought the second French Empire to a calamitous end.
In the winter which followed the capture of Sebastopol, the French Government and the French nation displayed great eagerness for peace. They had had enough of a war which was to lead to no territorial acquisitions, and in the subsequent negotiations which took place at the Congress of Paris the Emperor Napoleon showed a strong disposition to protect and conciliate the enemy who had brought about the rupture. His object was no doubt to secure the neutralité bienveillante of Russia in the event of future complications between France and Austria, or France and Prussia, which he discerned in the far horizon. In this he was not unsuccessful, but his cordial relations with England received at that moment their first shock.
In the following year (1857) the whole power and interest of this country were absorbed by the Indian Mutiny, an occasion which certainly tried our strength to the utmost, but which called forth in a striking manner the friendly feeling of foreign States. It does not appear that Prince Albert had preriously directed much of his attention to India. Soon after the outbreak of the Mutiny he writes to the Prince of Prussia a letter full of inaccuracies, in which he even states that · for the country and its civilisation almost nothing has been done up
to this time;' and he appears to suppose that the East India Company still derived part of its revenue from commercial enterprise. Such mistakes are rare in his correspondence; for his information, especially in all that concerns the British Empire, was usually both accurate and various; but in this instance he did great injustice to the government of the East India Company, which he evidently desired to supersede by the authority of the Crown. But the military views which he hastened to convey to the Government in the Queen's name were unquestionably sound. Even Lord Palmerston was for proceeding step by step,' when the whole of Bengal was in conflagration, and failed at first to realise the magnitude of the danger. The Prince, to use his own expression, dug • his spurs' into the Government. The militia was embodied. Larger reinforcements were despatched. Yet the Queen said :
That the late accounts from India show so formidable a state of things, that the military measures hitherto taken by the Home Government, on whom the salvation of India mainly depends, appear to the Queen as by no means adequate to the emergency. We have nearly gone to the full extent of our available means, just as we did in the Crimean War, and may be able to obtain successes, but we have not laid in a store of troops, nor formed reserves which would carry us over a long struggle, or meet unforeseen new calls. Herein we are always most short-sighted, and have finally to suffer either in power and reputation, or to pay enormous sums for small advantages in the end-generally both.
* The Queen hopes that the Cabinet will look the question boldly in the face. Nothing could be better than the resolutions passed in the House of Commons ensuring to the Government every possible support in the adoption of vigorous measures. It is generally the Government, and not the House of Commons, who hang back.' (Vol. iv. p. 90.)
But whilst the Queen and the Prince rightly estimated the magnitude of the danger, and strove by the most energetic measures to face it, they supported with equal firmness those principles of humanity and toleration on which Lord Canning, to his immortal honour, was resolved to act. These principles touched the very heart of the policy and character of the Prince. Whatever was rancorous or vindictive was abhorrent to the Christian purity and nobleness of his nature. There was in him “no hatred to a brown skin-none, to use the gracious words of the Queen, and his first desire after the suppression of the Mutiny was that the shaken edifice of the Indian empire should be reconstructed on broader and more liberal principles.
But his chief interest centred in the politics of Europe. On January 14, 1858, occurred the attempt of Felix Orsini to destroy the Emperor and Empress of the French by hand grenades at the door of the opera-house in Paris—an event not more remarkable for its sanguinary and audacious character than for its subsequent effect on the affairs of the world. It is not too inuch to say that the Orsini conspiracy was the spark which kindled a great conflagration. It produced a strong effect on the friendly relations of the French and English Courts and nations. The confidence that had existed since the outset of the Crimean War was succeeded by distrust and alarm, which aroused even fears of invasion. The Volunteer movement in these islands took its origin from that event. It led to the fall of Lord Palmerston's Government by the rejection of the Bill against foreign conspiracies, and the return of Lord Derby to power. The Emperor of the French, cooling in his attachment to the English alliance, and desirous to give effect to his early sympathies with the cause of Italian freedom, which Orsini on the scaffold had armed with new terrors, now engaged in intrigues with Sardinia and Russia, of which
it was impossible to foresee the extent or the consequences, and the final result was that the territorial fabric of Europe, as established by the treaties of 1815, was shaken, attacked, and at last overthrown.
Whatever else may be said of the labours of the Congress of Vienna and the Treaties of 1815, this much is certain, that they preserved for forty-four years the general peace of Europe. Prince Metternich boasts in his memoirs that they emerged fireproof from the eruption of 1848. The Crimean War, undertaken for a different and a defensive object, did not destroy them. The principal changes Europe had undergone in this interval, especially by the severance of Belgium from Holland, were the work of diplomacy, legally working in the councils of Europe; and although there was much in the state of Germany which Prince Albert and his patriotic German friends desired to see reformed and improved, he and they invariably took their stand upon the existing constitution of Europe, which was still recognised down to 1859 by all the Powers. France herself, though often inveighing against the treaties of 1815, had passed through two or three revolutions without denouncing them ; she still affected to respect their authority, and the alliance of England with France rested on this basis.
The first great event which really struck a fatal blow at the existing rights and engagements of the European Powers was the Italian war of 1859. Then first the Emperor Napoleon showed that he was prepared to use his armies to impose on foreign States his personal policy and the policy of France. It might well be that the objects he proposed to himself, the liberation of Italy from the Austrian yoke and the establishment of the dynasty of Savoy over a united Italy, were beneficial objects, calculated to excite the sympathy of the liberal party in this country and in Europe. But, as was pointed out in this journal at the time, those results were purchased by the overthrow of existing public law. The treaties and engagements of general import to Europe, then first broken through, have since been scattered to the winds by far greater events. The destruction of the European concert dates from that hour, and it has not yet been renewed. The consequence of the extinction of mutual confidence and the abandonment of a system sanctioned by the union of all the Powers is that we are living in a state of armed peace, with enormous military establishments which weigh heavily on the populations of every State.
These things, with the political discernment and prescience he had now acquired, the Prince foresaw. He foresaw that