1 APRIL 1848, Page 13



THE European settlement of 1815 is breaking up before our eyes. We await the political reconstruction of the Continent with the firmest hope that, after the crisis, the peace and liberties of the world will be better secured than they were by the dictation from Vienna; but it is not to be concealed that elements of danger are at work, and that the utmost benefit will not be secured for the nations unless a mutual intelligence be established. In several parts, recognized rights are invaded, but in such a manner or by such influences that the invasion is neither to be avoided nor regretted. Lombardy is in the hands of its own people; the Austrians are expelled, but not without aid to the revolt from Piedmont. Our Government is said to have " protested " against this infraction of treaties—formally and technically, we presume, but in no more practically cogent sense than it protested against the absorption of Cracow. Poland reappears on the map of Europe, " cum privilegio et auctoritate," in its Prussian sec- tion; but will the Poles of Gallicia and Warsaw view the eman- cipation of their countrymen in passive contentment ? Hardly. It seems probable that the speculation which we hazarded last week will be realized, and that Poland will be reintegrated, with the connivance of Germany, to be an equal ally and memberof the contemplated Germanic Confederation. In the commotion, Schleswig-Holstein clings to its cognate states, and threatens to shake off the Danish rule. On these important points of Europe a readjustment of territory and political geography has become a practical and urgent question.

A question that will scarcely be solved without attempts at reaction. Austria will not simply acquiesce in her own dismem- berment, North or South ; and the Danish Government is goaded, even by its people in the metropolitan province, to resist the sepa- ration of the Germanic dutchies. The resistance that will be offered on this ground will probably restore courage to those go- vernments which have yielded to the revolutionary movements with reluctance—to Naples and the smaller states of Italy, to Hanover and the smaller states of Germany. And Russia stands ready to lend to any bad animus in Europe a body of strength.

The elements of disorder, therefore, are neither few nor des- picable. Protracted dissension and unsettlement will call into more and more active play the anarchists of all Europe,—the Republicans and Ultra-Revolutionists of Italy ; the not extinct Jacobins, Terrorists, and Propagandists of France ; the Commu- nists of Germany ; with that host of soldiers of fortune who now drive the trade of revolution—the blacklegs of civil war, who in- fest the capitals of Europe in multiplied numbers and excited ac- tivity. The old Absolutists who have refused to learn—the thickheaded scions of antiquated princely houses in Italy and Germany, the race of nobles who ignore the universe beyond a court, the valets and lackies of unconquerable convictions—will foment counter-revolution, and throw in heavy stakes to keep up the game. Poland may be made an element of disorder or of order. Russia, if suffered to enter Western Europe, can only act as an_element of disorder ; for she can only act against the grain of the times. She is alien to the European system of our day. Geographically she lies beyond the ring fence of high civiliza- tion; her races are still rude, and her ruling family favours the rude aboriginal manners : chronologically she belongs to the "old style" of an earlier epoch. She has neither the faculties nor the machinery to interfere amongst us beneficially. Not only is the "balance of power" utterly disordered during the political storm, but it is visibly assuming new directions. The elements of military power are in an extraordinary con- dition. The armies of Europe have grown political. But that is not all ; for to a state in which opinions are free and convictions settled a political sense in the army is a source of safety : some among the armies of Europe, however, are very singularly placed. In the German states, the armies seem to be very well disposed to fall in with the constitutional views of the people. But the forces of Austria are curiously interchanged : she has many Hungarian regiments in Italy—manifesting sympathy with the alien race given into their custody ; and she has forty thousand Italians in Hungary, or her other provinces above the Alps— ready, of course, to repay the debt of the Lombards in kind. The army of France is in a very anomalous condition : the social anarchy has infected the line, discipline is dissolved, and the force appears to be thoroughly demoralized. Such a condition can be brought about in no time, but it cannot be remedied in a hurry : the plague may be caught in an instant, but the cure is tedious Ind precarious. An obvious consequence is, that the army of France is a force not to be relied on, as it once might have been, for antagonizing the Northern hordes who may be poured into the battle-fields of Europe. At least until it is tried, the army of France cannot be trusted. It does not follow that France is crippled for propagandism : the anarchy that is increasing may overcome the self-possession which the Provisional Government has on the whole so laudably maintained, and mere love of mis- chief may send forth her hordes to seek adventures in Europe, and burn other thrones besides that of the Tuileries. But a brawl between the extremes of Absolutism and Revolution is not what Europe wants; and in surveying the available forces of the Con- tinent for a true and tranquil balance of power, it should be re- membered that the French army is not available just now. The elements of order are many and mighty. The conviction that governments in antagonism to their peoples cannot be firm and strong, seems to have newly possessed the most influential rulers of two great and important regions—Italy and Germany. A better understanding than ever is gaining ground between the enlightened statesmen of Europe, crowned or uncrowned. At the critical points where danger is most imminent, the guardian powers are most efficient. Napoleon said of the Piedmontese, that they must, by geographical position, be a military people, and that the battles of Italy must be fought on their ground : they are prepared, and they are enlisted on the side of those liberal but wise and moderate opinions which have just mani- fested so striking an ascendancy throughout Europe. Prussia, one of the most military states, keeps guard of Schleswig-Hol- stein and Poland. The Poles, a most military race, may be re- stored to their country, and will gladly hold it, reconsolidated to their hands, on the tenure of military service to Europe; a noble and appropriate service for those to whom Russia is the hereditary foe. Liberal opinions span the Baltic ; the establishment of a thorough understanding throughout Constitutional Europe would redeem Sweden from an isolated position, and would throw upon Denmark the responsibility of becoming politically isolated from her imme- diate neighbours. The small and once retrograde state of Bruns- wick has signified its adhesion to King Frederick William's movement for restoring German unity ; a useful and promising example. The unmistakeable function of the newly-constituted Germany will be to vindicate Constitutional Monarchy and the peace of Europe. The elements of order, then, will yet prove too many for barbaric Absolutism.

But in order to endow them with a complete existence, to bring them into active and harmonious operation, it is necessary, we say, to establish a clear understanding between the orderly states of Europe. The reader will have anticipated the sug- gestion, that no time should be lost in preparing for an European Congress : not one of crowned heads or their agents, but of national governments ; not one for dictation, but for mutual in- telligence. Its principal functions would be—first, to collect the wishes and views of the several states; secondly, to re- cord those wishes and views, and the judgment of Europe there- upon ; thirdly, to smooth away difficulties and expedite the com- pletion of tranquil order. One way in which this last function would be performed would be in mediating in the amicable transfer of territory and the readjustment of political boundaries ; needful operations that might be impeded by false shame, stiffnecked etiquette, or weakness affecting the airs of strength, but which would be rendered less mortifying by the solemn sanction of a Congress in which the parties immediately interested might share. Many disorders which may be committed by the ex- travagant on either aide would be prevented by the knowledge of tin 'opinion of Europe, to say nothing of the explicit information which it would furnish on the important subjects of practica- bility and alliance. Even England would derive direct ad- vantage from a Congress that should quiet those disorders in Europe on which the seditious in Ireland are speculating as a collateral aid for prolonging their agitations.

At this moment, perhaps, affairs are scarcely ripe for the posi- tive action of a Congress; but they soon will be so. As soon as France,.Italy, and Germany have settled their own constitutional arrangements—which must be speedily—or have decidedly failed in the attempt at settlement, the elements of disorder would be- come more active for mischief ; and Congress might step in with its moral intervention just at that nick of time. To hit that opportunity, the Congress should at least be prepared. Per- haps its sitting and watching the course of events, even before the final crisis, might not be disadvantageous. At any rate, a new settlement of Europe will be desirable in a very few months, to replace that of 1815and it can in no way be turned to so much account for the benefit of Europe, for the advancement of civilization and the good of mankind, as by a thorough and timely understanding between those powers that actually rule the world.