NAPOLEONIC DIFFICULTIES IN MEXICO.
" FRANCE," said M. Rouher, the other day, "will go all lengths to uphold the throne of the Emperor Maxi- milian," and if one-half that we hear is true the lengths re- quired are likely to be very considerable indeed. The diffi- culties in the way of the French Government in Mexico seem to thicken instead of dispersing. When Napoleon's agents first entered the country they had the support of at least two classes among the population—the wealthy, who hoped for an unaccustomed security ; and the priests, who saw in the pupil of the Jesuits a second Ferdinand, an imperial missionary ready to risk his throne and sacrifice Mexico to the mainten- ance of the secular claims of the Church. The native army once defeated these classes soothed the population of the cities, welcomed a Catholic and civilized Emperor with enthusiasm, and brought over to his side masses of the Indians and many of the indifferent. Juarez was driven into the remote provinces, the " Liberal" army was broken up into bands of brigands, the capital was reduced to order, and it seemed for a moment as if an immense enterprise had been conducted safely to its end. Maximilian, however, once seated was compelled to act, and the moment action com- menced the class differences which are the curse of Mexico began to re-appear. Maximilian has already lost the active support of one class which accepted him cordially, and incurred the bitter hostility of the other which invited him in. The rich—outside the range of the French troops—find them- selves threatened by brigands as much as ever, and though, as M. Rouher triumphantly says, brigands are not dangerous to soldiers, to the possessors of property they are very dangerous indeed. The rich therefore are disposed to sink back into their apprehensive quiescence, and await the fulfilment of promises before they commit themselves to a cause which may yet be a losing one. The clergy, on the other hand, are becoming active against the Emperor. His original promises disappointed them, for they had hoped to avoid toleration, and when he proceeded to confirm the sale of ecclesiastical property and threaten the Church with a law of mortmain their rage and disappointment knew no bounds of loyalty. They procured from the Pope a letter imploring the Emperor to desist from his evil courses, a letter which, like a Recordite prayer, is in intent a commination, and elicited a reply which showed Maximilian's consciousness that -he had broken with the clerical party. This loss is a considerable one, for although the new measures conciliate Liberal ideas, they do not con- ciliate Liberal men, or overcome their distaste to what they consider subjugation. They either resist or hold aloof, and Napoleon therefore, in the second year of his enterprise, finds himself compelled io support an Emperor who has as yet secured no working party within his empire—to exert his resources as if for a prefect, without receiving the obedience a new prefecture would render. He has also still to reckon with the- American danger. There can be little doubt that Napoleon, shrewd as he undoubtedly is, made on this subject the same mistake as the upper classes of Great. Britain,—he fancied the Union had been finally broken up. It is probable that the American Government, in its eagerness to conciliate, promised rather more than it could perform, and- when Maximilian entered Mexico it was with an understand- ing that if the people accepted him, and the French troops• were withdrawn, that Government would throw no difficulties in his path. Mr. Seward in fact promised, conditionally on the assent of the Senate, to recognize the new throne, and even submitted the name of the envoy he intended to. send to the capital. The Senate, however, while accepting the name of the ambassador struck out that of the monarch, inserting in its stead that of Juarez, "Presi- dent of the Mexican Republic," while resolutions were passed by the House of Representatives indirectly condemning• Mr. Seward's precipitation. The Empire therefore is not yet acknowledged, the United States is still in alliance with the Republic, and France must look forward at no distant period to a renewal of war. We do not mean that the Empire. will be at once attacked by the United States. That may be as improbable as M. Rouher contends, or as certain as M. Jules Fevre affects to believe, but the danger exists in either case. If Mr. Lincoln declares war on Maximilian, Napoleon, must either retreat without honour, or engage in a struggle- from which lie never can hope to reap advantage. If, which is much more probable, the American Government, weary with strife, does not declare war, it is none the less certain that Juarez will be suddenly and largely reinforced. Thou- sands of soldiers, Northern and Southern, released by peace and impatient of quiet, will see in Mexico scope for their- energies, and, unless Catholics, feeling as well as interest wilt induce them to join Juarez. There is little but pay to be gained under an Emperor, but under Juarez every soldier- may hope one day to be President. His army once rein- forced must be subdued, even if the first descent is not made on -the district of Sonora, said to have been made over to Frenchmen, and the work can only be accomplished by the French army. Any other would probably be beaten, and one serious defeat would at once let loose the elements of dis- order. France therefore has for its second difficulty a moral certainty of being compelled to put down an insurrection seven thousand miles off against a monarch who is not a-- Frenchman, and for the sake of interests which though Napoleonic are not strictly French. These difficulties are serious enough, but there is another behind. The nexus between the French and the Mexicans, the conductor as it were between the battery and the recipient of the message, is the Emperor Maximilian, and it is not quite certain that he may not weary of serving as wire. In the- very remarkable series of papers on Mexico which have appeared in The Saturday Review, and which are evidently written by one who has just visited the country, it is dis- tinctly affirmed that the Emperor has already resisted French dictation by threatening to depart. Napoleon has no means- of coercing a man who never was his subject, and who has 8,000 Austrian soldiers at his disposal, and though a throne seems a grand prize to the ambition of ordinary men, to an Austrian Archduke a throne without a revenue, or a civil list, or a strong army is not an irresistible bait. In any case to- make it irresistible he mast have money, and despite M. Rouber's assurance that a new loan has been contracted for, it is extremely doubtful whether the contractors who recently came forward will not demand guarantees in Europe which Napoleon would be very loth to grant. The Mexican Em- peror it is known sometimes loses heart, and he has, as we are assured by persons who must be cognizant of the facts, recently taken a step suggestive of anything rather than. confidence in the permanence of his position. He has in a formal protest addressed to all the great Powers repudiated the pacts de famille under which he gave up his reversionary rights upon the succession to the Austrian throne. This document, it is reported, has been presented both in London and Vienna,. and though its existence is officially denied in the latter capital it has there given bitter annoyance. The agreement is,. Maximilian contends, invalid, and for aught we know he may be in the right, but what does a man who intends to reign in America want with a problematical claim to a succession in Europe? He is a childless man, and between him and the Austrian throne stands still a Sovereign almost as young as himself, married, and with two children, one of them a boy, who though said to be sickly may, and probably will, survive his uncle. The Mexican Emperor is not deprived by the pacts of any property, or of his rank as Archduke, about which he might naturally be jealous, being simply placed last- in the order of collaterals, a matter, if he intends to remain, in Mexico, of infinitesimal importance. Moreover, no man knows better than the Mexican Emperor that a great party in Austria would in any case consider his renunciation invalid, and that a popular vote would at any time supplement any such technical difficulties of title. The act, if correctly reported, looks as if the new Emperor were contemplating retreat, and we shall be greatly surprised if it is not accepted by his subjects and his allies in that sense, if it does not give strength to every malcontent, and excite the fears of every Mexican willing to have become an adherent.
Napoleon therefore is in the position of a man who has to support against formidable assailants an ally who can lend him little aid, and may at any moment deprive him even of that little by a precipitate flight. Supposing the best, he is bound to maintain at a great distance a French army—now, it is asserted in the Corps Legislatif, raised once more to 45,000 men—in order to keep up a throne which is not French, which is occupied by a man who refuses to be ,a French satrap, and which is menaced at once by the Catholic world and by one of the greatest of military powers. But let us for a moment sup- pose the worst. Imagine the little Emperor to have resigned, and, escorted by his Austrian guard, to have quitted Vera Cruz in any German or British ship, what will be the position of the great Emperor then ? Obviously but one of two courses will be open to him. Either he must acknowledge a defeat, or he must accept the situation he himself has created, and declare Mexico a dependency of France. In the first case he, a Bonaparte whose throne is born of victory and supported by success, will have to acknowledge publicly a humiliating overthrow, to allow that he had miscalculated forces, to admit that French blood and treasure had been wasted on a dream for the immediate benefit of an Austrian, to concede to the Opposition that it was possible for him to fail. Users are not allowed to fail, at least not when failure implies the trailing of the tricolor flag and the intellectual triumph of Labienus. If, on the other hand, he accepts the second and bolder alternative,—and the Emperor is still a crowned Jacobin —then indeed the Monroe doctrine in its true political mean- ing will at last be violated, a North American State will have been been reduced to a colony by European arms. The contest which now may be averted would then be inevitable, and France would have to defend a dependency with which she has no historical associations, and in which she has no interests other than those of the rest of Europe against the whole power of the re-united States. She may win the game even then, for Mexico is a difficult country to invade, and the power of France once excited is both great and real, but she would have to engage in a terrible struggle for an object she does not wish to secure, and in defence of a policy which is purely Napoleonic. These reflections press on the minds of all thinking Frenchmen, and, as report has it, harass the Emperor himself, who, it seems certain, authorized his Minister to declare that France could not at any cost allow her work to be overturned. As yet his Chamber supports him. The amendment of M. Picard demanding the recall of the troops was negatived by 225 votes to 16, but the Emperor may yet find that in declaring " the invasion of Mexico the greatest event of his reign" he uttered just such a sentence as an ancient oracle would have sent back to a questioning King. The event which produces death must be in one sense at least the greatest event in life.