MAXIMILIAN.* WE have seldom read fresher, sunnier, more cheerful descriptions
of travel than are found in these volumes. The greater portion of the work was written when the author was a very young man, and the warm, healthy tone, the keen sense of enjoyment which he has infused into his pictures render the book very pleasant reading. Regarded simply as a contribution to the literature of foreign travel, these volumes do not indeed add much that is new to our previous stock of knowledge. Even in this respect, how- ever, they are far from being valueless ; for their author, whose rank as an Austrian Archduke opened to him scenes and society which are closed to ordinary travellers, was not one who neglected
• Reeolteetioru of Aly Life. By 37,..ImIllan I., Emperor of Mexlco. 3 vols. London: Bentley. 1863.
his rare opportunities. These reminiscences slaw him to have possessed very considerable talent as an observer, and to have taken an intelligent interest in a wide reach of subjects. They exhibit him to us as a well educated and accomplished man, with what he himself, in describing a fellow-countryman, calls " the kindliness and joyous temperament of an honest German." If in intellectual depth and grasp he was not equal to the late Prince Consort, he nevertheless constantly reminds us of that 'prince, particularly in the aesthetic side of his character. He composed music. In recording his impressions of the picture galleries, the statues, the architecture of Italy, Greece, and other countries, he speaks like a connoisseur. He had the keenest perception of the beauties of nature, of which some of his descriptions in these volumes are in no small degree poetical.
It is not, however, as a record of voyages and travels that the work acquires its chief importance. It is rather for the light it re- flects on the character of its ill-fated author that the book princi- pally commands our attention ; and in this respect, the interest of these volumes is truly tragic. The real character of Maximilian has never yet, so far at least as English writers and readers are concerned, been represented in its true colours. It has perhaps suffered less from the attacks of enemies than from the advocacy of those who were his friends in the ill-judged enterprise with which his name will remain in history indelibly associated. From the moment the Archduke was induced to ally himself with the unprincipled violators of Mexican independence, it was but natural that Liberal politicians should conceive prepossessions against his character ; nor is it therefore very much to be wondered at that some writers, in going through the formality of reviewing these three volumes without reading them, should be content to echo popular prejudices, and represent him, if not as an unscrupulous aggressor, at any rate as a weak-minded senti- mentalist, a superstitious pietist of an ambitious and very romantic disposition, without force of character or any of the statesmanlike qualities requisite for success in an undertaking so gigantic as that of introducing order into a degenerate state like Mexico. That such representations are cruelly unjust no impartial critic, who is at all acquainted with the prince's well- earned reputation in Germany, or who only knows so much of him as these volumes reveal, could for a moment deny. In his own country and throughout Germany Maximilian was incon- testibly one of the few princes who bad really won the hearts of the people. In German newspapers and in common conversation the name of the " Erzherzog Max" always carried a cheerful sound. His virtual banishment from the Austrian Court, the dislike with which he was regarded by his Archducal cousins and in the aristocratic circles of the Empire, arose purely from his decided disposition towards a liberal policy. For he did not fail, so long as he was permitted, to exert himself in favour of enlightened measures in the government of the heterogeneous States of the Austrian Empire. After the conclusion of the war in Italy in 1848-49, he projected a constitutional government for Lombardo- Venetia as the basis of its future alliance with Austria ; but the overtures he made with this view to some of the Italian leaders as well as to the Austrian Government remained fruitless, from the fact that the Emperor was induced by the all-powerful influence of the aristocratic and military circles at Court, to cut short the proceedings of his brother Maximilian by recalling him from the Italian provinces. Banished from public life in his own country, he took up his abode on the Istrian shores of the Adriatic, where his exquisite taste was employed in the adornment of that charming marine villa which has been the admiration of all who have seen it, and which he himself calls his " lovely, verdant, wave-encircled Miramar." His residence in this ravishing spot was varied at frequent intervals by voyages in the Mediterranean, and by travels in almost all the countries bordering on that sea, including Spain, Algiers, the various states of Italy, Greece, Turkey, Asia Minor, Palestine, and Egypt. In addition to his visits to the first three in his list, these volumes record his voyage to Madeira, the Canary Isles, and the Empire of Brazil, undertaken in 1861, ten years subsequently to the date of most of his former expeditions. The Archduke was an excellent sailor and took hardly less delight in the sea—of which, with his experiences on it, he gives us some graphic descriptions—than in the wonders of the new coun- tries which he crossed the waves to visit. More than once he expresses his delight at the fact that he is " the first man of his house to enter the Southern hemisphere ;" " the first lineal descendant of Ferdinand and Isabella to whom from childhood it had been a day-dream to visit the American continent,"—all unconscious, alas! of the terrible fate that awaited him on its shores. With the events which induced him to exchange
the refined enjoyments of his Istrian retreat for the toil and turmoil of Mexican battle fields, it is here beyond our province to concern ourselves; but we may be permitted to express our conviction that when the secret history of the Mexican adventure is fully investi- gated, it will be found that Maximilian, whatever his errors of judgment, remained true to the reputation he always enjoyed up to the moment he left Miramar, and continued the same chivalrous, liberal, high-minded man whose acquaintance we make in these volumes. Assuredly self-aggrandizement was not the motive which induced him to accept the offered crown. The terms he dictated, the long interval of delay he allowed to elapse, the repeated solicitations which had to be made before he yielded his consent,—these are circumstances very unlikely to have occurred with a vulgar self-seeker. They are, oa the other hand, precau- tions quite reconcilable with the honourable ambition by which we believe the Archduke to have been animated,— the ambition to find a sphere in which he might, as a ruler, carry out his desire to contribute effectively to the general sum of human progress and happiness. If Maximilian was unable to prove himself the benefactor of Mexico, it was because he was inveigled by deception and misrepresentation into a false position. The difficulties with which, after his desertion by the French, he had to contend, it would have taxed the powers of a warrior-statesman of the highest genius, of a Charlemagne or a William of Orange to overcome. Maximilian wanted at once the genius and the unscrupulosity requisite for this task,—a task, it is to be observed, for which he had never stipu- lated. His scrupulous honour, humanity, and courage are so com- pletely proved by the whole course of his life in Europe, by his refusing to abandon his adherents in Mexico when the French withdrew their support and pressed him to retire, as well as by the heroic manner in which lie met his death, that it is impossible to deny these qualities of him simply on the strength of his attaching his signature to the proclamation of October 3, 1865, and without knowing the exact circumstances under which the French Generals prevailed upon him to commit that blunder. The following passage, which it is impossible to believe could ever have been written by one eltine I himself to become an unscrupulous military adventurer, serves, we think, to throw some light on the principles which really guided Maximilian's con- duct in the crisis of his affairs in Mexico. It is an extract from the account of his visit to Algiers. He is invited to mess with some French officers stationed at the foot of the Atlas Mountains :— " The company was as motley as Wallenstein's camp ; among other striking figures we discovered a Colonel von L—, who was talking German, a relation of our Master of the Ordnance; as commander of the Spahis of this division he wore the black-laced blue spencer and the red plaited trousers, which became his dyed beard and rouged cheeks ad- mirably. He was a hoary, would-be youth, full of military pretension- s sort of graceful adventurer, making his livelihood by fighting. I do not like these soldiers of fortune, who sell their frivolous lives and merely exist from day to day. For honour, a man should give his pro- perty and his blood at the required moment; but to wander about the world with arms, without any noble aim in view, is contrary to all my feelings. In such society, which speaks scorn of straightforward, simple life, I always feel very uncomfortable, and this oppressive state of mind took possession of me to-day."
In this we cannot fail to see the frank, generous, truth-loving soul of the man. We append one or two passages illustrating other aspects of his character. In the following there is the ring of honest indignation, which runs through all his denunciations of Brazilian slavery, of whose pernicious influence on the moral and material condition of the Empire he is constantly meeting with fresh evidence. Iu a suburb of Bahia he meets a number of German immigrants going home from their work :-
" A solitary palanquin passes swiftly through the crowd of Germans : it contains some Brazilian of importance who is being carried to his siesta. Ero long ho will rest peacefully on his gains, and sink into slumber in his network hammock in his cool verandah, the balmy sea air playing around him ; and be encircled by faithful slaves. Do you ask how ho has obtained his riches ? how ho has amassed the millions that have purchased the downy conch on which ho reposes? The answer meets you in the public streets—by trading in human flesh, by measures heaped up and overflowing of black men, by coining false money. Notwithstanding this, the man passes for a very respectable person, bears some grand title of nobility, goes to Court, attends the Emperor on state occasions, and sleeps as tranquilly as the saints in Paradise. Why should he not ? Conscience is altogether wanting in these warm climates."
Again, writing of Brazil, in a passage on which much might be said, and of which some sentences give us perhaps a glimpse of "the ideal with which he went to Mexico, he says:— "I begin now to understand why slaveholders retain in their demo- cratic constitution the article that the Emperor and the heir to the throne shall never leave Brazil : outside the empire some different light might
dawn upon them If Brazil would thrive among the empires of the world, it must have an iron-handed regenerator, a white despot basing his principles on justice, who will treat with no party, and who will interfere with iron austerity in case of need. His would be the melancholy lot not to be understood by the men of his time, to be hated by his Brazilian contemporaries; but history would accord him a high rank among those who work for the future ; his name would be inter- woven with the advanced opinions of Brazil, and would be blessed by future generations. Article I. in his constitution should run thus :- `All men in a free empire are born free ; ' Article II., The heir to the throne must travel for several years in the civilized world, in order by his own observation and by comparison with foreign countries to learn statesmanship."
That the Archduke was himself " an enthusiastic traveller" we not only have his own assurance, but solid evidences in these volumes. Among his reflections on the subject of travelling we may quote the following :— " Let every one travel who can. By travelling one gets true views of life ; in this way only one becomes acquainted with the world ; and really it is pitiable to see so many waste their money and their time stupidly sitting by their own firesides ; but still more to be despised are those who thoughtlessly let themselves be dragged like trunks through foreign countries, without recognizing the beautiful and sublime, and who, at best, only make impertinent jokes over the immortal monuments' of art and history. Unfortunately the number of these travellers is very great in our time. The hopeful youths of the nineteenth century, eda- cated in modern materialism, believe themselves in duty bound to travel; they think it bad style in the highest degree to find interest in anything interesting, or to got attracted, still less excited, by anything beautiful."
We refrain, though we had marked several additional passages, from making further quotations. Standing one day before a por- trait trait by his " dear Vandyke," the youthful Maximilian is led into some reflections on the fate of Charles I., and Louis XVI. and his beautiful queen. He concludes with a passage which was destined ere long to apply, with melancholy fitness, to his own case. " Both [kings]," he says, "had the opportunity, if not to live well, at least to die well. How was it that the wives of both were so handsome and so lovely ? Why must the sweet and gentle be ever the victims ?"