20 FEBRUARY 1875, Page 6


PRINCPRINCE LOUIS NAPOLEON has " won the Engineers," and E Frenchmen will not at first understand the meaning of that phrase as Englishmen do, the event may yet exercise an important influence on politics. It is an immense thing for the Bonapartists to be able to prove on testimony past all question that their candidate has in him the making of an able man, that he is not a mere " Prince," whose qualities, and manners, and disposition are taken for granted, but a man who, if he were nobody and were thrown into the rough tussle of life, could and would win an excellent place for himself. To Englishmen the result of the examination at Woolwich proves that much conclu- sively, and there are thousands of Bonapartists who are only too anxious that their countrymen should understand why. There is no probability, and indeed, except as regards horsemanship, in which he is reported "first," no possibility that the Prince has been favoured by the Examiners, who do not know the writers of the papers before them ; and if he has not been favoured, he has achieved a most creditable success. The competition for the Engineers is now of very long standing, and the struggle has for years been so honest, so stringent, and so attractive to clever lads without cash, who like the Army, but can- not afford to spend their pay on their uniforms, that for a boy to have " won the Engineers," has become a distinction of which any father in the country is proud. It is proof positive that his son has got something special in him, can beat formidable rivals, can fight his way into a closely guarded scientific profession, with no other help than his head. The Prince has shown this power, and shown it too in the teeth of very considerable obstacles, special to him- self. It is a very difficult thing to any man to acquire a scientific education in a foreign tongue, and the Prince when he entered Woolwich, as General Lintorn Simmons reports, was very imperfectly acquainted with the English language, indeed so imperfectly that he was strongly recommended to postpone his entrance. He persisted, however, studied hard, had, it is said, the self-denial for months to turn all lectures and lessons back into his own tongue, so learning them twice over, mastered the difficulty of English spelling, and finally had the nerve to face the ordinary, unrestricted competition, although offered a special examination,—a bit of real pluck in its way, as failure might have damaged him irretrievably. He came out seventh of thirty-three candidates, entitled to claim, if he liked, a commission in the Royal Engineers,—that is, a student confessedly superior in highly intellectual attain- ments to the average English boys of his year, and probably, from the difficulties he has encountered, superior to all but the very best. His success is no proof, of course, that he can govern, or even that he will make a considerable soldier ; but it is proof that he can work, that he can apply, and that he has strong brains, brains likely to benefit by the teaching of study and experience. He is not stupid, as a majority of Princes are, and that will undoubtedly be a recommendation to most Frenchmen. Not to mention that they expect brains in the Bonapartes, and would be mortified as well as disappointed by their absence, they like individuality in their rulers ; and to men who are expected to be indi- vidual, to stand forward and show personal will, judgment, or esprit, ability of some kind or other, even if it be of the silent, dreamy, and as it were depressing kind possessed by Napoleon III., is almost indispensable. Even Constitutionalists in France want their chief to be a competent man, and proof that Louis Napoleon is competent, proof of so indubitable a kind, will materially assist his chances. If he is constitutional he will do as well as another, and if he is despotic he will be an able despot. That is the rough way in which great masses of half-ignorant men reason about a Pretender with the Prince's claims.

The sort of pleasure with which most Englishmen—Liberals included—have heard of the Prince's success at Woolwich will, we dare say, strike many French Republicans with amazement and annoyance. Here, they will say, is a lad who represents before all things the cause of personal government, and here are English Liberals, who detest personal government before all things, quite pleased because he displays capacity which the masses may take for capacity to govern. There must be a lurking kindness for the Bonapartes among the English Liberals. That is a very natural, but it is also a very short-sighted view. The majority of English Liberals, at least outside one easily-defined circle, that of the statesmen who profited by the entente cordiale, are in French politics more or less decidedly on the Republican side. They are tired of Revolutions produced by the difficulty of getting rid of individual pretensions. They would gladly welcome a moderate Republic as the definitive form of government in France, and under the impulse of M. Thiers's opinion are inclined, for the first time in their history, to believe that it might endure as long as any Monarchy. They dread the return of the Empire, with its agents habituated to despotism, its Sovereign com- pelled to repress, its soldiers panting for war, its policy of dramatic surprises, and its involuntary hostility at once to freedom of thought and to the unity of Italy. They dislike its social influence, its tendency to the worship of material in- terests, and its dependence upon the lives of single men. Above all, they dread its success as the success of an enticing but inferior form of democratic government,—a form under which democracy makes progress no doubt towards its ends, but makes it by a sacrifice of all the powers which could enable it to use its own success with any sustained nobleness either of method or of purpose. France grew rich under Napoleon, and was orderly, and commenced the enfranchisement of Italy; but her political strength had under him so died out, that when he fell, the only statesmen left competent to anything loftier than the role of political attorneys had to be sought among the debris of the Parliamentary Monarchy. Among forty millions of people, and with unrestrained power of selection, neither of the Napoleons ever found a Minister at once competent to govern and faithful to his oaths. Napoleonism might ensure order, but only the Republic would allow a new crop of statesmen to grow up. But the English Liberals, though they feel this, and feel it some of them, as we confess ourselves to do, very strongly, cannot blind themselves to the fact that failing the Republic, the restoration of the Empire is a certainty ; that there are only two parties in the country which are alive ; that France intends, consciously intends, to commit herself either to an elective Magistracy or to this young Prince, and that his capacity therefore is a question of the highest moment for all Europe. There is one form of government, at all events, worse than Cmsarism, and that is a government in which, under a nominal but faineant or incompetent Caesar, Sejanus and the Com- mandants of the Legions divide the power and the spoils and the favour of the Empire among themselves. A Csarism wl:cthout a Caesar who can govern, who can choose men, who eau put down plunder, who can see to the rights of the dim Plebs below, who can keep the Empire safe from panic, is a Cassarism with all its few merits taken out of it, is a despotism unredeemed by permanence, or order- liness, or capacity of evoking loyalty to itself. The head of an Empire of the French pattern must be competent or a nuisance. The dream of a Constitutional Empire—Con- stitutional, that is, as Englishmen understand the word—is a dream merely. Frenchmen are not going to condone Sedan, and recall the Bonapartes, and revive the Napoleonic legend, and expose their country to infinite risks from Germany, and disturb half Europe, in order that they may have a Govern- ment indistinguishable, except in name, from the Republic which they must smash up in order to substitute for it the rule to which it is most opposed. If they re-establish the Empire, it will be in order to be governed by a man instead of an Assembly, and on the qualities of that man the apparent success of their rashness must almost entirely, in the long- run, depend. The only safeguard against Ceesarism is the wisdom of the Caesar, and if the Caesar must come, any proof that he will be wise and able to initiate, or good and able to set a tone, or intelligent and able to receive advice, must be acceptable to all well-wishers either of France or Europe. No doubt it is especially acceptable to such well-wishers as happen to be English, for somewhat selfish reasons. Ger- many may dread an able French Caesar, as Italy might dread a foolish one, but it is the conviction of Englishmen, well or ill founded, but in either case irremovable by anything except experience, that the abler the man at the head of France, the wider his knowledge, the more far-reach- ing his policy, the more cordial will be his estimate of the English alliance. Indeed, the foreign policy of this country is so exceptional, its interests so widely spread, its people so slow to comprehend anything outside their own immediate concerns, that it takes an able man to perceive what that alliance is worth. That is a selfish reason, perhaps, but nations are selfish, and in this instance the selfishness of Eng- lishmen and Frenchmen necessarily coincide. It is not the desire of either people that France should be ruined in order that the danger of Cresarism should be manifested to the world, or that the descendants of Charles Bonaparte should be finally expelled from the lists of the Almanach de Gotha.

While, however, we consider the pleasure felt by Englishmen in the success of their guest both natural and excusable, we have some doubt as to the course adopted both by the dom- mander-in-Chief and the authorities at Woolwich. They have made more fuss with the Prince than if he had been the un- doubted heir to a throne, and much more than has ever laden made with our own Prince Arthur, and the object of the fuss is clearly to tell the French people how very considerable a person the Emperor Napoleon's son now is. That is surely a mistake in policy. There was no warrant whatever. for the re- peated and official use of a title which Prince Louis Napoleon does not take, and which therefore is not demanded by courtesy, and which implies, on the part of those who use it, a kind of recognition of the Prince's claims. There was no reason. why the Commander-in-Chief should go out of his way to pay com- pliments to the seventh officer on the list, and no excuse for Sir Lintorn Simmons's special and public report upon his career, his invariable punctuality and respect for authority and submission to discipline. Apart altogether from political ques- tions it would have been better taste to treat the Prince as an ordinary competitor, and not to excite a gratuitous suspicion that the Director-General of Military Education had prede- termined that the examination should result in favour of a Prince already admitted to the competition by a special act of authority. Sir Lintorn Simmons is not likely to have Apursued such a course without knowing that it would be ,./acceptable at Head-quarters, and the result of his action will be that the Republican journals will call the examination a prearranged comedy ; that the French people will deem the British Army not only favourable to France, which it is, but favourable to Napbleonic pretensions ; and that the British Government will be held to be at heart hostile to a Republican programme. The alliance of the French Republic is as valu- able as that of the French Empire, or more valuable, for the Republic will survive all rivals ; and it is bad statecraft to create suspicion in men who are now in power, and who, for aught the Duke of Cambridge can tell, may remain there for a generation. Or if, as is very probable, there was no statecraft in the affair, there was a great deal of very inartistic blundering. France and England alike may recognise with a certain pleasure the success of a possible ruler of France, without the Horse Guards going out of its way to emit so very noisy a hurrah.