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FRANCE AND EUROPE. * THE HE succession of storm and sunshine on a mountain land
scape is scarcely more rapid or more startling than the changes which during the last quarter of a year have played over the shifting sky of European politics. Three months ago there was no sign on the horizon of anything but war--the hopeless, interminable war that has no aim or cause but personal ambition. Men were recalling the memory of the convulsions amid which this century opened, and mournfully forecasting their return. There was a talk again of Tilsit agreements and European reconstructions—of another dynasty of Bonapartes upon the thrones of Italy-of another death-struggle between France and Germany on the Rhine. Every state, great and small, betook itself, in self-defence, to the costly armaments and the burdensome loans, the penalty, which, in spite of our civilization, the caprices of one freebooting power can still inflict on the family of nations. Prussia had even taken the last fatal measure of preparation which is held to be only warranted by the imminent certainty of war. Now the bloodshed is stayed, the ambitious aims are for the time renounced ; Murat and Plon-Plon must forget, for a few months at least, their dreams of Florentine or Neapolitan grandeur. Prussia has sullenly resumed her wonted attitude of inert suspicion, and all wears the outward guise of peace.
And yet every one feels that the interval is more in the nature of an armistice than a peace. No one can point with certainty to the quarter from which the storm will break, or conjecture the pretext which will be used to colour the next aggression. But yet there is a vague, all-pervading feeling of distrust in every market and every exchange from London to Trieste, which cramps commerce and paralyzes enterprise, and which is far too deeply seated for all the Moniteur's' assurances to remove. Men are too intently occupied in watching for every clue, however slender, to the dark thoughts of the Emperor of the French, to have much heart for far-reaching
VOL. II. No. III.
projects. Nor is the apprehension peculiar to the timidity of commerce. The conferences of Zurich have not done much to appease the alarms of statesmen, and the governments that had begun to arm are arming still. Prussia, mindful of Lord Malmesbury's threat, is beginning to look to the Baltic coast. The Belgian Chambers have at last convinced themselves that even with such friendly neighbours as Holland and France, it is as well to have one fortress on which they can rely. Germany is bethinking herself of strengthening Mainz and Germersheim, and of renewing the fortifications which have been so often fatal to the unhappy citizens of Mannheim. Russia, with a forecast which is not very reassuring, is urging forward levies that can hardly be interpreted as precautions against another Borodino. And even thrifty England has gone so far as to appoint a commission upon the subject of fortification, whose report she will no doubt in due time receive, pay for, and forget. Every one feels that this last pacification has been an unreal settlement, and that there is not on any side a genuine acquiescence in its terms. It has neither removed the professed nor the actual cause of the war. It has neither assuaged the griefs of Italy nor slaked the French thirst for fame. Every question is unsolved that was unsolved before, and there is superadded to all the other elements of disquietude the feeling that it is now as unsafe to rely upon the Emperor's incapacity for war, as upon his professed attachment to peace. The hasty engagements of the Villafranca breakfast-room, which the Zurich plenipotentiaries are painfully and vainly trying to translate into a practical measure, have no doubt conferred a splendid boon on the inhabitants of the Lombard plains. The dwellers in Brescia and Milan will be the most ungrateful of men if they do not insist on the Pope's canonizing the Emperor. But with the Lombard plains his good deeds end. All the peninsula south of the Po is, so far as the Emperor's stipulations are concerned, abandoned to its former tormentors. And if the Duchies, which have been vindicating their own claims with such a marvellous combination of self-devotion and selfcommand, should succeed in bettering their condition, it will be in spite of and not by the help of the terms obtained for them by the Emperor of the French. At present, by all accounts, their most probable destiny seems to be, to be transferred nominally from one imbecile offshoot of a reigning house to another-practically, from the dull but well-meaning despotism of Austria to the clever and selfish despotism of France.
In commenting on the present attitude of the Duchies, the sycophants of the Emperor have complained bitterly of Italian