The disastrous manifestations of military incapacity in our War ad-
ministration have created a strong and not a favourable impression in Fiance. The case is presented to the French in various ways,--through the published reports, the complaints of our press and Parliament men, the avowals of Lord John Russell and some of his colleagues, the reports of General Canrobert,to the Emperor Napoleon, and innumerable private letters. Surprise is succeeded by a feeling ekin to contempt ; and this feeling is exploits by those who try to revive the old feeling against Eng- land as a means of disparaging our ally the Emperor. Still graver con- siderations, however, are presented in the following extract of a letter from a French gentleman, who is not only distinguished both in the statesmanship and literature of his own country, but is peculiarly versed in the knowledge of English and Anglo-Saxon constitutional politics.
" Chateau de , Oise. February 6, 1866. • • •
"But to talk of more important topics—or rather of the all-important one, the war. My mind is continually. dwelling with painful interest on the situation of your brave army ; an interest Inspired by admiration for the army itself, as well as by the concern which I feel for the honour and credit of your institutions, now in some danger of falling into disrepute through incapable and inexperienced administration. . . . . If you do not succeed In repairing the mischief, and that quickly, (which indeed seems to me next to impossible,) England and her Government will assuredly come out of this struggle somewhat discredited, whatever may be the ultiwate results of the war and of the heroic achievements of your soldiers. " I have a difficulty in believing that this will not have a considerable in- fluence, though one perhaps little foreseen, upon the future course of your domestic affairs. I suspect that it will accelerate the pace at which you ap- pear to be departing from the character of aristocratic government, according to the old acceptation of that term. At any rate, it is impossible but that the English must discern the immense advantages which in time of war at- tend a centralized government ; or that they can be long in contact with an army where every one can and may become an officer, without its producing upon them a serious impression. Your army can hardly avoid undergoing a sort of revolution : and a revolution in the constitution of the army will surely not be confined to the army alone. You are the only people of the present day (except perhaps the Russians, and they less than you) who are officered exclusively by gentlemen. You will discover that an army com- manded solely by gentlemen is not necessarily the best army to make war with : it is better able to fight than to sustain itself before and after the battle. We have had good reason to know this, under our old monarchy. On the other hand, an army commanded by gentlemen has the advantage of being good against revolutions ; while an army of the opposite character either makes revolutions, or suffers them to be made by others. B . . . . told me the other day, that the aristocracy had never been stronger in Eng- land than they are now ; for that they had never poured out their blood more freely. But I must remark, that it is not altogether by military ser- vices that an aristocracy can maintain itself; otherwise, ours would not be levelled with the dust, as it actually is : for who ever were more prodigal of their lives than the French gentilshommes, of all grades, the lesser as well as the greater ? My grandfather, and my granduncle, both met their death on the field of battle ; their father, and their grandfather, experienced the same fate : and there is hardly a family in the neighbourhood of whom as much cannot be said. Yet there remains not a trace of their power. The last cannon which was mounted on the old baronial chateau of T----- in my neighbourhood, now half-buried in the earth, serves as a post to tie up cattle ; while the chateau itself is degraded to a farm-house. I will conduct B. . . . thither when he comes to see me : it will show him what must be the fate of an aristocracy who, though they know bow to die, do not know how to govern. Yours has, till now, done both ; and this is the reason why it still holds its ground, although the temper of the age is anything but fa- vourable to its continuance."