Napoleon III - Encyclopedia

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NAPOLEON III. [[[Charles (Charles Louis De Bourbon)|CHARLES LOUIS]] NAPOLEON BONAPARTE] (1808-1873), emperor of the French, was born on the 20th of April 1808 in Paris at 8 rue Cerutti (now rue Laffitte), and not at the Tuileries, as the official historians state. He was the third son of Louis Bonaparte (see Bonaparte), brother of Napoleon and from 1806 to 1810 king of Holland, and of Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of General (de) Beauharnais and Josephine Tascher de la Pagerie, afterwards the empress Josephine; hence he was at the same time the nephew and the adopted grandson of the great emperor. Of the two other sons of Louis Bonaparte and Hortense, the elder, Napoleon Charles (1802-1807), died of croup at The Hague; the second, Napoleon Louis (1804-1831), died in the insurrection of the Romagna, leaving no children. Doubts have been cast on the legitimacy of Louis Napoleon; for the discord between Louis Bonaparte, who was ill, restless and suspicious, and his pretty and capricious wife was so violent and open as to justify all conjectures. But definite evidence, in the shape of letters and references in memoirs, enables us to deny that the Dutch Admiral Verhuell was the father of Louis Napoleon,and there is strong evidence of resemblance in character between King Louis and his third son. He early gave signs of a grave and dreamy character. Many stories have been told about his childhood, for example the remark which Napoleon I. is said to have made about him: "Who knows whether the future of my race may not lie in this child." It is certain that, after the abdication and exile of Louis, Hortense lived in France with her two children, in close relation with the imperial court. During the Hundred Days, Louis Napoleon, then a child of seven, witnessed the presentation of the eagles to 50,000 soldiers; but a few weeks later, before his departure for Rochefort, the defeated Napoleon embraced him for the last time, and his mother had to receive Frederick William III. of Prussia and his two sons at the château of Saint-Leu; here the victor and the vanquished of Sedan met for the first time, and probably played together.

After Waterloo, Hortense, suspected by the Bourbons of having arranged the return from Elba, had to go into exile. The exking Louis, who now lived at Florence, had compelled her by a scandalous law-suit to give up to him the elder of her two children. With her remaining child she wandered, under the name of duchesse de Saint-Leu, from Geneva to Aix, Carlsruhe and Augsburg. In 1817 she bought the castle of Arenenberg, in the canton of Turgau, on a wooded hill looking over the Lake of Constance. Hortense supervised her son's education in person, and tried to form his character. His tutor was Philippe Le Bas, son of the well-known member of the Convention and follower of Robespierre, an able man, imbued with the ideas of the Revolution, while Vieillard, who instructed him in the rudiments, was a democratic imperialist also inspired with the ideal of nationalism. The young prince also studied at the gymnasium at Augsburg, where his love of work and his mental qualities were gradually revealed; he was less successful in mathematics than in literary subjects, and he became an adept at physical exercises, such as fencing, riding and swimming. It was at this time that he acquired the slight German accent which he never lost. Those who educated him never lost sight of the future; but it was above all his mother, fully. confident of the future destiny of the Bonapartes, who impressed on him the idea that he would be king, or at any rate, that he would accomplish some great works. "With your name," she said, "you will always count for something, whether in the old world of Europe or in the new." If we may believe Mme Cornu, he already at the age of twelve had dreams of empire.

In 1823 he accompanied his mother to Italy, visiting his father at Florence, and his grandmother Letitia at Rome, and dreaming with Le Bas on the banks of the Rubicon. He returned to Arenenburg to complete his military education under Colonel Armandi and Colonel Dufour, who instructed him in artillery and military engineering. At the age of twenty he was a "Liberal," an enemy of the Bourbons and of the treaties of 1815; but he was dominated by the cult of the emperor, and for him the liberal ideal was confused with the Napoleonic.

The July revolution of 1830, of which he heard in Italy, roused all his young hopes. He could not return to France, for the law of 1816 banishing all his family had not been abrogated. But the liberal revolution knew no frontiers. Italy shared in the agitation. He had already met some of the conspirators at Arenenberg, and it is practically established that he now joined the associations of the Carbonari. Following the advice of his friend the Count Arese and of Menotti, he and his brother were among the revolutionaries who in February 1831 attempted a rising in Romagna and the expulsion of the pope from Rome. They distinguished themselves at Civita Castellana, a little town which they took; but the Austrians arrived in force, and during the retreat Napoleon Louis, the elder son, took cold, followed by measles, of which he died. Hortense hurried to the spot and took steps which enabled her to save her second son from the Austrian prisons. He escaped into France, where his mother, on the plea of his illness, obtained permission from Louis Philippe for him to stay in Paris. But he intrigued with the republicans, and Casimir - Perier insisted on the departure of both mother and son. In May 1831 they went to London, and afterwards returned to Arenenberg.

For a time he thought of responding to the appeal of some of the Polish revolutionaries, but Warsaw succumbed (September 1831) before he could set out. Moreover the plans of this young and visionary enfant du siecle were becoming more definite. The duke of Reichstadt died in 1832. His uncle, Joseph, and his father, Louis, showing no desire to claim the inheritance promised them by the constitution of the year XII., Louis Napoleon henceforth considered himself as the accredited representative of the family. Those who came in contact with him noticed a transformation in his character; he tried to hide his natural sensibility under an impassive exterior, and concealed his political ambitions. He became indeed "doux entete" (gentle but obstinate) as his mother called him, persistent in his ideas and always ready to return to them, though at the same time yielding and drawing back before the force of circumstances. He endeavoured to define his ideas, and in 1833 published his Reveries politiques, suivies d'un projet de constitution, and Considerations politiques et militaires sur la Suisse; in 1836, as a captain, in the Swiss service, he published a Manuel d'artillerie, in order to win popularity with the French army. A phrase of Montesquieu, placed at the head of this work, sums up the views of the young theorist: "The people, possessing the supreme power, should do for itself all that it is able to do; what it cannot do well, it must do through its elected representatives." The supreme authority entrusted to the elect of the people was always his essential idea. But the problem was how to realize it. Louis Napoleon could feel vaguely the state of public opinion in France, the longing for glory from which it suffered, and the deep-rooted discord between the nation and the king, Louis Philippe, who though sprung from the national revolution against the treaties of 1815, was yet a partisan of peace at any price. Both Chateaubriand and Carrel had praised the prince's first writings. Bonapartists and republicans found common ground in the glorious tradition sung by Beranger. A military conspiracy like those of Berton or the sergeants of La Rochelle, seemed feasible to Napoleon. A new friend of his, Fialin, formerly a non-commissioned officer and a journalist, an energetic and astute man and a born conspirator, spurred him on to action.

With the aid of Fialin and Eleonore Gordon, a singer, who is supposed to have been his mistress, and with the co-operation of certain officers, such as Colonel Vaudrey, an old soldier of the Empire, commanding the 4th regiment of artillery, and Lieutenant Laity, he tried to bring about a revolt of the garrison of Strassburg (October 30, 1836). The conspiracy was a failure, and Louis Philippe, fearing lest he might make the pretender popular either by the glory of an acquittal or the aureole of martyrdom, had him taken to Lorient and put on board a ship bound for America, while his accomplices were brought before the court of assizes and acquitted (February 1837). The prince was set free in New York in April; by the aid of a false passport he returned to Switzerland in August, in time to see his mother before her death on the 3rd of October 1837.

At any other time this attempt would have covered its author with ridicule. Such, at least, was the opinion of the whole of the family of Bonaparte. But his confidence was unshaken, and in the woods of Arenenberg the romantic-minded friends who remained faithful to him still honoured him as emperor. And now the government of Louise Philippe, by an evil inspiration, began to act in such a way as to make him popular. In 1838 it caused his partisan Lieutenant Laity to be condemned by the Court of Peers to five years' imprisonment for a pamphlet which he had written to justify the Strassburg affair; then it demanded the expulsion of the prince from Switzerland, and when the Swiss government resisted, threatened war. Having allowed the July monarch to commit himself, Louis Napoleon at the last moment left Switzerland voluntarily. All this served to encourage the mystical adventurer. In London, where he had taken up his abode, together with Arese, Fialin (says Persigny), Doctor Conneau and Vaudrey, he was at first well received in society, being on friendly terms with Count d'Orsay and Disraeli, and frequenting the salon of Lady Blessington. He met with various adventures, being present at the famous tournament given by Lord Eglinton, and yielded to the charm of his passionate admirer Miss Howard. But it was a studious life, as well as the life of a dandy, that he led at Carlton House Terrace. Not for a minute did he forget his mission: "Would you believe it," the duke of Wellington wrote of him, "this young man will not have it said that he is not going to be emperor of the French. The unfortunate affair of Strassburg has in no way shaken this strange conviction, and his chief thoughts are of what he will do when he is on the throne." He was in fact evolving his programme of government, and in 1839 wrote and published his book: Des Idees napoleoniennes, a curious mixture of Bonapartism, socialism and pacificism, which he represented as the tradition of the First Empire. He also followed attentively the fluctuations of French opinion.

Since 1838 the Napoleonic propaganda had made enormous progress. Not only did certain newspapers, such as the Capitole and the Journal du Commerce, and clubs, such as the Culottes de peau carry it on zealously; but the diplomatic humiliation of France in the affair of Mehemet Ali in 1840, with the outburst of patriotism which accompanied it, followed by the concessions made by the government to public opinion, such as, for example, the bringing back of the ashes of Napoleon I., all helped to revive revolutionary and Napoleonic memories.

The pretender, again thinking that the moment had come, formed a fresh conspiracy. With a little band of fifty-six followers he attempted to provoke a rising of the 42nd regiment of the line at Boulogne, hoping afterwards to draw General Magnan to Lille and march upon Paris. The attempt was made on the 6th of August 1840, but failed; he saw several of his supporters fall on the shore of Boulogne, and was arrested together with Montholon, Persigny and Conneau. This time he was brought before the Court of Peers with his accomplices; he entrusted his defence to Berryer and Marie, and took advantage of his trial to appeal to the supremacy of the people, which he alleged, had been disregarded, even after 1830. He was condemned to detention for life in a fortress, his friend Aladenize being deported, and Montholon, Parquin, Lombard and Fialin being each condemned to detention for twenty years. On the 15th of December, the very day that Napoleon's ashes were deposited at the Invalides, he was taken to the fortress of Ham. The country seemed to forget him; Lamartine alone foretold that the honours paid to Napoleon I. would shed lustre on his nephew. His prison at Ham was unhealthy, and physical inactivity was painful to the prince, but on the whole the regime imposed upon him was mild, and his captivity was lightened by Alexandrine Vergeot, "la belle sabotiere," or Mdlle Badinguet (he was later nicknamed Badinguet by the republicans). His more intellectual friends, such as Mme Cornu, also came to visit him and assisted him in his studies. He corresponded with Louis Blanc, George Sand and Proudhon, and collaborated with the journalists of the Left, Degeorge, Peauger and Souplet. For six years he worked very hard "at this University of Ham," as he said. He wrote some Fragments historiques, studies on the sugarquestion, on the construction of a canal through Nicaragua, and on the recruiting of the army, and finally, in the Progres du Pas-de-Calais, a series of articles on social questions which were later embodied in his Extinction du pauperisme (1844). But the same persistent idea underlay all his efforts. "The more closely the body is confined," he wrote, "the more the mind is disposed to indulge in flights of imagination, and to consider the possibility of executing projects of which a more active existence would never perhaps have left it the leisure to think." On the 25th of May 1846 he escaped to London, giving as the reason for his decision the dangerous illness of his father. On the 27th of July his father died, before he could accomplish a journey undertaken in spite of the refusal of a passport by the representative of Tuscany.

He was again well received in London, and he "made up for his six years of isolation by a furious pursuit of pleasure." The duke of Brunswick and the banker Ferrere interested themselves in his future, and gave him money, as did also Miss Howard, whom he later made comtesse de Beauregard, after restoring to her several millions. He was still full of plans and new ideas, always with the same end in view; and for this reason, in spite of his various enterprises, which were sometimes ridiculous, sometimes unpleasant in their consequences, and his unscrupulousness as to the men and means he employed, he always had a kind of greatness. He always retained his faith in his star. "They will come to me without any effort of my own," he said to Taglioni the dancer; and again to Lady Douglas, who was counselling resignation, he replied, "Though fortune has twice betrayed me, yet my destiny will none the less surely be fulfilled. I wait." He was not to wait much longer.

As he well perceived, the popularity of his name, the vague "legend" of a Napoleon who was at once a democrat, a soldier and a revolutionary hero, was his only strength. But by his abortive efforts he had not yet been able to win over this immense force of tradition and turn it to his own purposes. The events which occurred from 1848 to 1852 enabled him to do so. He behaved with extraordinary skill, displaying in the heat of the conflict all the abilities of an experienced conspirator, knowing, "like the snail, how to draw in his horns as soon as he met with an obstacle" (Thiers), but supple, resourceful and unscrupulous as to the choice of men and means in his obstinate struggle for power.

At the first symptoms of revolutionary disturbance he returned to France; on the 25th of February he offered his services to the Provisional Government, but, on being requested by it to depart at once, resigned himself to this course. But Persigny, Mocquard and all his friends devoted themselves to an energetic propaganda in the press, by pictures and by songs. After the 15th of May had already shaken the strength of the young republic, he was elected in June 1848 by four departments, Seine, Yonne, CharenteInferieure and Corsica. In spite of the opposition of the executive committee, the Assembly ratified his election. But he had learnt to wait. He sent in his resignation from London, merely hazard ing this appeal: "If the people impose duties on me, I shall know how to fulfil them." This time events worked in his favour; the industrial insurrection of June made the middle classes and the mass of the rural population look for a saviour, while it turned the industrial population towards Bonapartism, out of hatred for the republican bourgeois. The Legitimists seemed impossible, and the people turned instinctively towards a Bonaparte.

On the 26th of September he was re-elected by the same departments; on the 11th of October the law decreeing the banishment of the Bonapartes was abrogated; on the 26th he made a speech in the Assembly defending his position as a pretender, and cut such a sorry figure that Antony Thouret contemptuously withdrew the amendment by which he had intended to bar him from rising to the presidency. Thus he was able to be a candidate for this formidable power, which had just been defined by the Constituent Assembly and entrusted to the choice of the people, "to Providence," as Lamartine said. In contrast to Cavaignac he was the candidate of the advanced parties, but also of the monarchists, who reckoned on doing what they liked with him, and of the Catholics, who gave him their votes on condition of his restoring the temporal power to Rome and handing over education to the Church. The former rebel of the Romagna, the Liberal Carbonaro, was henceforth to be the tool of the priests. In his very triumph appeared the ultimate cause of his downfall. On the 10th of December he was elected president of the Republic by 5,434,226 votes against 1,448,107 given to Cavaignac. On the 10th of December he took the oath "to remain faithful to the democratic Republic. .. to regard as enemies of the nation all those who may attempt by illegal means to change the form of the established government." From this time onward his history is inseparable from that of France. But, having attained to power, he still endeavoured to realize his cherished project. All his efforts, from the 10th of December 1848 to the 2nd of December 1852 tended towards the acquisition of absolute authority, which he wished to obtain, in appearance, at any rate, from the people.

It was with this end in view that he co-operated with the party of order in the expedition to Rome for the destruction of the Roman republic and the restoration of the pope (March 31, 1849), and afterwards in all the reactionary measures against the press and the clubs, and for the destruction of the Reds. But in opposition to the party of order, he defined his own personal policy, as in his letter to Edgard Ney (August 16, 1849), which was not deliberated upon at the council of ministers, and asserted his intention "of not stifling Italian liberty," or by the change of ministry on the 31st of October 1849, when, "in order to dominate all parties," he substituted for the men coming from the Assembly, such as Odilon Barrot, creatures of his own, such as Rouher and de Parieu, the Auvergne avocats, and Achille Fould, the banker. "The name of Napoleon," he said on this occasion, "is in itself a programme; it stands for order, authority, religion and the welfare of the people in internal affairs, and in foreign affairs for the national dignity." In spite of this alarming assertion of his personal policy, he still remained in harmony with the Assembly (the Legislative Assembly, elected on the 28th of May 1849) in order to carry out "a Roman expedition at home," i.e. to clear the administration of all republicans, put down the press, suspend the right of holding meetings and, above all, to hand over education to the Church (law of the 15th of March 1850). But the machiavellian pretender, daily growing more skilful at manoeuvring between different classes and parties, knew where to stop and how to keep up a show of democracy. When the Assembly, by the law of the 31st of May 1850, restricted universal suffrage and reduced the number of the electors from 9 to 6 millions, he was able to throw upon it the whole responsibility for this coup d'etat bourgeois. " I cannot understand how you, the offspring of universal suffrage, can defend the restricted suffrage," said his friend Mme Cornu. "You do not understand," he replied, "I am preparing the ruin of the Assembly." "But you will perish with it," she answered. "On the contrary, when the Assembly is hanging over the precipice, I shall cut the rope." In fact, while trying to compass the destruction of the republican movement of the Left, he was taking careful steps to gain over all classes. "Prince, altesse, monsieur, monseigneur, citoyen" (he was called by all these names indifferently at the Elysee), he appeared as the candidate of the most incompatible interests, flattering the clergy by his compliments and formal visits, distributing cigars and sausages to the soldiers, promising the prosperous bourgeoisie "order in the street" and business, while he posed as the "father of the workers," and won the hearts of the peasants. At his side were his accomplices, men ready for anything, whose only hopes were bound up with his fortunes, such as Morny and Rouher; his paid publicists, such as Romieu the originator of the "red spectre"; his cudgel-bearers, the "Ratapoils" immortalized by Daumier, who terrorized the republicans. From the Elysee by means of the mass of officials whom they had at their command, the conspirators extended their activities throughout the whole country.

He next entered upon that struggle with the Assembly, now discredited, which was to reveal to all the necessity for a change, and a change in his favour. In January 1851 he deprived Changarnier of his command of the garrison of Paris. "The Empire has come," said Thiers. The pretender would have preferred, however, that it should be brought about: legally, the first step being his re-election in 1852. The Constitution forbade his re-election; therefore the Constitution must be revised. On. the 19th of July the Assembly threw out the proposal for revision, thus signing its own death-warrant, and the coup d'etat was resolved upon. He prepared for it systematically. The cabinet of the 26th of October 1851 gave the ministry for war to his creature Saint-Arnaud. All the conspirators were at their posts - Maupas at the prefecture of police, Magnan at the head of the troops in Paris. At the Elysee, Morny, adulterine son of Hortense, a hero of the Bourse and successful gambler, supported his half-brother by his energy and counsels. The ministry proposed to abrogate the electoral law of 1850, and restore universal suffrage; the Assembly by refusing made itself still more unpopular. By proposing to allow the president of the Assembly to call in armed force, the questors revealed the Assembly's plans for defence, and gave the Elysee a weapon against it ("donnent barre contre elle a l'Elysee"). The proposition was rejected (November 17), but Louis-Napoleon saw that it was time to act. On the 2nd of December he carried out his coup d'etat. But affairs developed in a way which disappointed him. By dismissing the Assembly, by offering the people "a strong government," and re-establishing "a France regenerated by the Revolution of '89 and organized by the emperor," he had hoped for universal applause. But both in Paris and the provinces he met with the resistance of the Republicans, who had reorganized in view of the elections of 1852. He struck at them by mixed commissions, deportations and the whole range of police measures. The decrets-lois of the year 1852 enabled him to prepare the way for the new institutions. On the 1st of December 1852 he became in name what he was already in deed, and was proclaimed Emperor of the French. He was then 44 years old. "The impassibility of his face and his lifeless glance" showed observers that he was still the obstinate dreamer that he had been in youth, absorbed in his Idea. His unshaken conviction of his mission made him conscious of the responsibility which rested on him, but hid from him the hopeless defect in the coup d'etat. To carry out his conviction, he had still only a timid will, working through petty expedients; but here again his confidence in the future made him bold. Ina people politically decimated and wearied, he was able to develop freely all the Napoleonic ideals. Rarely has a man been able to carry out his system so completely, though perhaps in these first years he had to take more disciplinary measures than he had intended against the Reds, and granted more favours than was fitting to the Catholics, his allies in December 1848 and December 1858.

The aim which the emperor had in view was, by a concentration of power which should make him "the beneficent motive force of the whole social order" (constitution of the 14th of January 1852; administrative centralization; subordination of the elected assemblies; control of the machinery of universal suffrage) to unite all classes in "one great national party" attached to the dynasty. His success, from 1852 to 1856, was almost complete. The nation was submissive, and a few scattered plots alone showed that republican ideas persisted among the masses. As "restorer of the overthrown altars," he won over the "men in black," among them Veuillot, editor-in-chief of l' Univers, and allowed them to get the University into their hands. By the aid of former Orleanists, such as Billault, Fould and Morny, and Saint-Simonians such as Talabot and the Pereires, he satisfied the industrial classes, extended credit, developed means of communication, and gave a strong impetus to the business of the nation. By various measures, such as subsidies, charitable gifts and foundations, he endeavoured to show that "the idea of improving the lot of those who suffer and struggle against the difficulties of life was constantly present in his mind." His was the government of cheap bread, great public works and holidays. The imperial court was brilliant. The emperor, having failed to obtain the hand of a Vasa or Hohenzollern, married, on the 29th of January 1853, Eugenie de Montijo, comtesse de Teba, aged twenty-six and at the height of her beauty.

France was "satisfied" in the midst of order, prosperity and peace. But a glorious peace was required; it must not be said that "France is bored," as Lamartine had said when the Napoleonic legend began to spread. The foreign policy of the Catholic party, by the question of the Holy Places and the Crimean War (1853-1856), gave him the opportunity of winning the glory which he desired, and the British alliance enabled him to take advantage of it. In the spring of 1855, as a definite success was still slow to come, he contemplated for a time taking the lead of the expedition in person, but his advisers dissuaded him from doing so, for fear of a revolution. In January 1856 he had the good fortune to win a diplomatic triumph over the new tsar, Alexander II. It was at Paris (February 25 - March 30) that the conditions of peace were settled.

The emperor was now at the height of his power. He appeared to the people as the avenger of 1840 and 1815, and the birth to him of a son, Eugene Louis Jean Joseph, on the 16th of March 1856, assured the future of the dynasty. It was then that, strong in "the esteem and admiration with which he was surrounded," and "foreseeing a future full of hope for France," he dreamed of realizing the Napoleonic ideal in its entirety. This disciple of the German philologists, this crowned Carbonaro, the friend of the archaeologists and historians who were to help him to write the Histoire de Cesar, dreamed of developing the policy of nationalism, and of assisting the peoples of all countries to enfranchise themselves.

From 1856 to 1858 he devoted his attention to the Rumanian nationality, and supported Alexander Cuza. But it was above all the deliverance of Italy which haunted his imagination. By this enterprise, which his whole tradition imposed upon him, he reckoned to flatter the amour-propre of his subjects, and rally to him the liberals and even the republicans, with their passion for propagandism. But the Catholics feared that the Italian national movement, when once started, would entail the downfall of the papacy; and in opposition to the emperor's Italian advisers, Arese and Prince Jerome Napoleon, they pitted the empress, who was frivolous and capricious, but an ardent Catholic. Napoleon III. was under his wife's influence, and could not openly combat her resistance. It was the Italian Orsini who, by attempting to assassinate him as a traitor to the Italian nation on the 14th of January 1858, gave him an opportunity to impose his will indirectly by convincing his wife that in the interests of his own security he must "do something for Italy." Events followed each other in quick succession, and now began the difficulties in which the Empire was to be irrevocably involved. Not only did the Italian enterprise lead to strained relations with Great Britain, the alliance with whom had been the emperor's chief support in Europe, and compromised its credit; but the claims of parties and classes again began to be heard at home.

The Italian war aroused the opposition of the Catholics. After Magenta (June 4, 1859), it was the fears of the Catholics and the messages of the empress which, even more than the threats of Prussia, checked him in his triumph and forced him into the armistice of Villafranca (July 11, 1859). But the spread of the Italian revolution and the movement for annexation forced him again to intervene. He appealed to the Left against the Catholics, by the amnesty of the 17th of April 1859. His consent to the annexation of the Central Italian states, in exchange for Savoy and Nice (Treaty of Turin, March 24, 1860) exposed him to violent attacks on the part of the ultramontanes, whose slave he had practically been since 1848. At the same time, the free-trade treaty with Great Britain (January 5, 1860) aroused a movement against him among the industrial bourgeoisie. Thus at the end of 1860, the very time when he had hoped that his personal policy was to rally round him once for all the whole of France, and assure the future of his dynasty, he saw, on the contrary, that it was turning against him his strongest supporters. He became alarmed at the responsibilities which he saw would fall upon him, and imagined that by an appearance of reform he would be able to shift on to others the responsibility for any errors he might commit. Hence the decrees of the 24th of November 1860 (right of address, ministers without portfolio) and the letter of the 14th of November 1861 (financial reform). From this time onward, in face of a growing opposition, anxiety for the future of his regime occupied the first place in the emperor's thoughts, and paralysed his initiative. Placed between his Italian counsellors and the empress, he was ever of two minds. His plans for remodelling Europe had a certain generosity and grandeur; but internal difficulties forced him into endless manoeuvre and temporization, which led to his ruin. Thus in October 1862, after Garibaldi's attack on Rome, the clerical coterie of the Tuileries triumphed. But the replacing of M. Thouvenel by M. Drouin de Lhuys did not satisfy the more violent Catholics, who in May 1863 joined the united opposition. Thirty-five opposers of the government were appointed, Republicans, Orleanists, Legitimists or Catholics. The emperor dismissed Persigny, and summoned moderate reformers such as Duruy and Behic. But he was still possessed with the idea of settling his throne on a firm basis, and uniting all France in some glorious enterprise which should appeal to all parties equally, and "group them under the mantle of imperial glory." From January to June 1863 he sought this appearance of glory in Poland, but only succeeded in embroiling himself with Russia. Then, after Syria and China, it was the "great inspiration of his reign," the establishment of a Catholic and Latin empire in Mexico, enthusiasm for which he tried in vain from 1863 to 1867 to communicate to the French.

But while the strength of France was wasting away at Puebla or Mexico, Bismarck was founding German unity. In August 1864 the emperor, held back by French public opinion, which was favourable to Prussia, and by his idea of nationality, allowed Prussia and Austria to seize the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. After his failure in Poland and Mexico and in face of the alarming presence of Germany, only one alliance remained possible for Napoleon III., namely with Italy. He obtained this by the convention of the 15th of September 1864 (involving the withdrawal of the French troops from Rome). But the Catholic party redoubled its violence, and the pope sent out the encyclical Quanta Cura and the Syllabus, especially directed against France. In vain the emperor sought in German affairs a definitive solution of the Italian question. At Biarritz he prepared with Bismarck the Franco-Prussian alliance of April 1866; and hoped to become, to his greater glory, arbiter in the tremendous conflict which was about to begin. But suddenly, while he was trying to rouse public opinion against the treaties of 1815, the news of the battle of K6niggratz came as a bolt from the blue to ruin his hopes. French interests called for an immediate intervention. But the emperor was ill, weary and aged by the life of pleasure which he led side by side with his life of work (as is proved by the letters to Mdlle Bellanger); he was suffering from a first attack of his bladder complaint. He knew, moreover, the insufficiency of his troops. After days of terrible suffering, he resigned himself to the annexation by Prussia of northern Germany. "Now," said M Drouin de Lhuys, "we have nothing left but to weep." Henceforth the brilliant dream, a moment realized, the realization of which he had thought durable, was at an end. The Empire had still an uncertain and troubled brilliancy at the Exhibition of 1867. But Berezowski's pistol shot, which accentuated the estrangement from the tsar, and the news of the death of Maximilian at Queretaro, cast a gloom over the later fetes. In the interior the industrial and socialist movement, born of the new industrial development, added fresh strength to the Republican and Liberal opposition. The moderate Imperialists felt that some concessions must be made to public opinion. In opposition to the absolutist "vice-emperor" Rouher, whose influence over Napoleon had become stronger and stronger since the death of Morny, Emile 0111vier grouped the Third Party. Anxious, changeable and distraught, the emperor made the Liberal concessions of the 19th of January 1867 (right of interpellation), and then, when 0111vier thought that his triumph was near, he exalted Rouher (July) and did not grant the promised laws concerning the press and public meetings till 1868. The opposition gave him no credit for these tardy concessions. There was an epidemic of violent attacks on the emperor; the publication of the Lanterne and the Baudin trial, conducted by Gambetta, were so many death-blows to the regime. The Internationale developed its propaganda. The election cf May 1869 resulted in 4,438,000 votes given for the government, and 3,355, 000 for the opposition, who also gained 90 representatives. The emperor, disappointed and hesitating, was slow to return to a parliamentary regime. It was not till December that he instructed 0111vier to "form a homogeneous cabinet representing the majority of the Corps Legislatif" (ministry of the 2nd of January 1870). But, embarrassed between the Arcadiens, the partisans of the absolute regime, and the republicans, 0111vier was unable to guide the Empire in a constitutional course. At the Tuileries Rouher's counsel still triumphed. It was he who inspired the ill and wearied emperor, now without confidence or energy, with the idea of resorting to the plebiscite. " To do away with the risk of a Revolution," "to place order and liberty upon a firm footing," "to ensure the transmission of the crown to his son," Napoleon III. again sought the approbation of the nation. He obtained it with brilliant success, for the last time, by 7,358,786 votes against 1,571,939, and his work now seemed to be consolidated.

A few weeks later it crumbled irrevocably. Since 1866 he had been pursuing an elusive appearance of glory. Since 1866 France was calling for "revenge." He felt that he could only rally the people to him by procuring them the satisfaction of their national pride. Hence the mishaps and imprudences of which Bismarck made such an insulting use. Hence the negotiations of Nikolsburg, the "note d'aubergiste" (innkeeper's bill) claiming the left bank of the Rhine, which was so scornfully rejected; hence the plan for the invasion of Belgium (August 1866), the Luxemburg affair (March 1867), from which M. de Moustier's diplomacy effected such a skilful retreat; hence the final folly which led this government into the war with Prussia (July 1870).

The war was from the first doomed to disaster. It might perhaps have been averted if France had had any allies. But Austria, a possible ally, could only join France if satisfied as regards Italy; and since Garibaldi had threatened Rome (Mentana, 1867), Napoleon III., yielding to the anger of the Catholics, had again sent troops to Rome. Negotiations had taken place in 1869. The emperor, bound by the Catholics, had refused to withdraw his troops. It was as a distant but inevitable consequence of his agreement of December 1848 with the Catholic party that in 1870 the emperor found himself without an ally.

His energy was now completely exhausted. Successive attacks of stone in the bladder had ruined his physique; while his hesitation and timidity increased with age. The influence of the empress over him became supreme. On leaving the council in which the war was decided upon the emperor threw himself, weeping, into the arms of Princess Mathilde. The empress was delighted at this war, which she thought would secure her son's inheritance.

On the 28th of July father and son set out for the army. They found it in a state of utter disorder, and added to the difficulties by their presence. The emperor was suffering from stone and could hardly sit his horse. After the defeat of Reichshoffen, when Bazaine was thrown back upon Metz, he wished to retreat upon Paris. But the empress represented to him that if he retreated it would mean a revolution. An advance was decided upon which ended in Sedan. On the 2nd of September, Napoleon III. surrendered with 80,000 men, and on the 4th of September the Empire fell. He was taken as a prisoner to the castle of Wilhelmshohe, near Cassel, where he stayed till the end of the war. After the intrigues of Bazaine, of Bismarck, and of the empress, the Germans having held negotiations with the Republic, he was de facto deposed. On the 1st of March the assembly of Bordeaux confirmed this deposition, and declared him "responsible for the ruin, invasion and dismemberment of France." Restored to liberty, he retired with his wife and son to Chislehurst in England. Unwilling even now to despair of the future, he still sought to rally his friends for a fresh propaganda. He had at his service publicists such as Cassagnac, J. Amigues and Hugelmann. He himself also wrote unsigned pamphlets justifying the campaign of 1870. It may be noted that, true to his ideas, he did not attempt to throw upon others the responsibility which he had always claimed for himself. He dreamed of his son's future. But he no longer occupied himself with any definite plans. He interested himself in pensions for workmen and economical stoves. At the end of 1872 his disease became more acute, and a surgical operation became necessary. He died on the 9th of January 1873, leaving his son in the charge of the empress and of Rouher. The young prince was educated at Woolwich from 1872 to 1875, and in 1879 took part in the English expedition against the Zulus in South Africa, in which he was killed. By his death vanished all hope of renewing the extraordinary fortune which for twenty years placed the descendant of the great emperor, the Carbonaro and dreamer, at once obstinate and hesitating, on the throne of France.


The Ouvres of Napoleon II I.have been published in four volumes (1854-1857) and his Histoire de Jules Cesar in two volumes (1865-1869); this latter work has been translated into English by T. Wright. See also Ebeling, Napoleon III. and sein Hof (1891-1894); H. Thirria, Napoleon III. avant l'Empire (1895) Sylvain-Blot, Napoleon III. (1899); Giraudeau, Napoleon III. intime (1895); Sir W. A. Fraser, Napoleon III. (London, 1895); A. Forbes, Life of Napoleon III. (1898); A. Lebey, Les Trois coups d'etat de Louts Napoleon Bonaparte (1906); Louis Napoleon Bonaparte et la revolution de 1848 (1908); and F. A. Simpson, The Rise of Louis Napoleon (1909). General works which may be consulted are Taxile-Delord, Histoire du second Empire (1868-1875); P. de La Gorce, Histoire du second Empire (1894-1905); A. Thomas, Le Second Empire (1907); and E. 0111vier, L'Empire liberal (14 vols., 1895-1909). (A. Ts.)

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