17 JUNE 1972, Page 14

Rock of order

Norman Stone

Palmer (Weidenfeld and Nicolson Metternich, Counciffor of Eur°r-,A 75) „ The Right has few folk-heroes — t,fre, for than the Left: a curious state of a,.; of what is supposed to be the 1°1.'0. tradition. Metternich is one of those held "I was a rock of order," he said. WO; back revolution between 1815 anc-tiorl, perhaps even ensured' that reV°`(1-fie when it came, would be cmasoulett. and promoted the principles of legitiina'lire0 orthodoxy, receiving much praise tyro American historians — amoil war Kissinger — after the second work' lot Mr Palmer's biography, the °9-• teillg e many years, is a serious and pf work. Mr Palmer writes about, t about without submerging it in the b tilnes,i ook is skilfully constructed all'aric, eresting to read; he has done sonle0nø'4‘ of a rather old-fashioned kind,rig b archives. On the whole, the first ha" ,-10 book — dealing with Metternich'S rm' ore b Napoleonic period — 15 A; fa li satisfactory than the second half, with Vormarz Austria and the cliP,;:bcal‘ problems of " Concert Europe.' Tiwther!tt _seems to have been finished in tel; 105", hurry — perhaps even Mr Falln`fi'. vslY patience with this long and gl°;°tiar'S. insipid life. About the only illeg-eyS it: litt tdheme in the life itself was ,c pre;et'1016 departure theme the principles of dr' ttt in private matters: Metternich wes.,„"ellici° m Monsieur l'Abrassadeur." Met`,;t Or) W : it and Wisdom does not collie 0: goo' It, well. We are told that he was fe.' conversationalist, but none of the --f i 1 -;erab ear repetition. " J'ai souvent g0115 11:1 'Europe, l'Autriche, jamais "; Ole '111 mere geographical expression' rest. Bismarck did much better. Despite Mr Palmer's verymettTebri;; attempts to show otherwise, had a kind of reverse-Midas tote W tr' events: into everything he t,ed his own peculiar colourlessness. "as also, rather surprisingly, not very vh,at his job; his real address was tit'a in passing the buck. In 1809, for 4tikee, he was at least as responsible as qn for pushing Austria into a cais war with Napoleon; but it was who fell, and Metternich who lit-reed him as Foreign Minister. He sioes as a man of outstandingly limited When Charles X lost his throne in Metternich collapsed, sobbing that i 111!:4 Work was in ruins; but did not gly lily Monarchy, with its grafting of Old, offer better prospects for the m'rcative cause than the regime of tith„,-s X, dominated by its dotty "Jesus Christ was not only the ,''' God, he was also of good family on 1, (Idler's side." In a short time, of 4:' Metternich came to regard the July ktrehY men as 'rocks of order.' Palmer might have dealt more fully t Metternich, s period as dominant in Austria from 1815 to 1848. He ittehertainly intelligent enough to see l'hili Rapsburg Monarchy would find it h qw. to survive the century. But e ir)vi14, from the creative effort of bielag a cure; and in any case the 4,41,. of providing one, or even 2,..:Ing the sickness, provoked such ,rathent among the supposed doctors i dg°vernment simply collapsed. After 1114meatb of Emperor Franz, a Regency it etil Was set up, expressly designed so 'ere would be no policy at all. tlei,a generation, the dynasty of Joseph qt 'fled into an assembly of cackling, 11:stabbing bigots. The budget balanced • ist °11" in the Vormarz period. This Itro,hallgust of European monarchies Ilie"ad heavily from the Rothschilds tss rePressing Jews at home; in times of tpi,,', sclUads were sent out to impound , 13esi a family silver. With a young t th :rp‘Widely rumoured to be an idiot, zc.egenCy Council fixed in advance 6 gi,,,'' e for perpetual disagreement, 5 il,eh.a became, in Mr Palmer's words, a Y Without ' i'' 4ic a monarch under a Without a regent. 1 I. secret of Metternich's long domina, . of ,., "le Austrian Empire is not easy to 1 iaqi. r. b p &-almer might have had a shot at I 41Ing i ; the,t. It did not lie in his principles ! e Were anyway a rag-bag. For the )pire'rg Monarchy to treat the Ottoman as a great exponent of legitimacy 1 ' absh 4t -rd in itself. The secret was not in capacity for ideas. Declining ', %11 facies are too disturbed by thought, ' it 4volzable thought, to put up for too , ittik atTtb clever men: their record in I L,411 ang , suPPort is remarkable, from , teerl,-; 1 to Nicholas II. Probably ' neb Was appreciated for one great Nph clf submerging internal problems in ' Vn" adventures. The 'Austrian prob i, kkt`calld not be solved at home. Let it i °I.: be solved abroad: the Hapsburg , essit? Was to become "a European taking over problems in Italy, rOpe-/ and the Balkans that the rest of 4btb.,,,Wo_uld not willingly face. The D6 Monarchy would thus become tre,s, dust-bin. Metternich was one of ‘Lest rats.