24 MARCH 1967, Page 10

A hundred years ago

From the 'Spectator.' 23 March 1867—A very singular rumour of a new design entertained by the Emperor of the French has obtained currency this week. It is stated that Napoleon has addressed proposals, formal or informal, to Belgium, Switzer- land, and Holland to enter into a federal union with France, upon terms, we may presume, resembling those suggested by Prussia to Bavaria—France obtaining, of course, full military command of the resources of all three countries. The report comes from two apparently unconnected sources, but we find it impossible to give it a moment's credence. Federation with France is only another word for absorption in France, and Napoleon is in no position to break with England and Germany at the same time. We cannot abandon Belgium, and if Count von Bismarck allows France to hold an acre upon the Zuyder Zee he has lost his senses. We might as well give Napoleon Milford Haven.