6 JULY 1867, Page 10

THE FATE OF Ar A XIMILIAN. T HE curtain has fallen

on the Mexican tragedy. There is no longer any reason to doubt that Juarez, overpowered by the clamour of his followers, or sincerely believing in the necessity of extreme measures, has given way, and that Maxi- milian was executed on the 19th June at Queretaro. His own orders condemning all Mexicans who resisted him to im- mediate death, orders which were acted upon by his lieu- tenants with cruel zeal, had maddened his Liberal opponents, who justly held that until they had accepted his rule they were not rebels, but patriots resisting an invader, and in some degree justify an act which would otherwise have been a simple murder of a prisoner of war. Juarez, too, as a pure Indian, had a grievance against his enemy which Europe has chosen to forget. We published, months since, a decree signed by the Emperor himself re-establishing peonage, that is, reintroducing slavery in a country which had been relieved from that curse,—the greatest and most inexcusable crime a ruler can in this century commit. Nevertheless, it is im- possible for men not blinded by mere hatred of thrones not to regret the unhappy fate of a man whose previous history had been so unspotted, who certainly meant well to the Mexicans who have killed him, and who displayed in the last stages of his career a dignity and a courage worthy alike of the position he had quitted and the rank he strove to obtain. A German prince, Maximilian sought to seize a sovereignty over Spanish republicans; a Hapsburg, he descended to be the satrap of Napoleon ; but the refusal to leave Mexico with the French, the effort to enlist a national army, the desperate defence of Queretaro, were all acts worthy of a House which with all its failings has never skulked, and reveal a character which, though vain and ambitious, could never have been base. The faults of the Archduke were those of his family, his training, and his position ; his heroism was his own, and his unexampled misfortunes may well extort commisera- tion, if not sympathy, from men who nevertheless despise the rapidly reviving worship of the royal caste. He played with his head for a throne; but at least when defeated he frankly and loyally paid the stakes. From the departure of the French, Maximilian was the chief of a national party, was alone as a Mexican with Mexicans, and the cruelty of Juarez forms a bad contrast to the clemency of the people whose interposition alone has restored him to supreme power. The Americans have pardoned a far more formidable opponent who fought them in a far less justifiable cause. The event, apart altogether from its personal aspects, may yet prove to be one of high political moment. It reveals to the people of France as no other occurrence could have done that their Emperor is fallible, that when not interpreting French opinion he is liable to blunder on a colossal scale. The French expedition was from first to last Napoleon's own idea. The people disliked it, the army dreaded it, the politicians denounced it, and even the courtiers, with a few noteworthy exceptions, questioned or denied its wisdom. The Emperor planned and executed it alone, and from first to last scarcely a calculation has turned out sound. He believed that the Oivil War would end in a division of the Union, and it has ended by consolidating its dominion and immensely increasing its external power. He supposed that the Mexicans after a short resistance would yield to the organizing genius of the French, that the love of order would counterbalance patriotism, and the Mexicans have fought on with savage determination for nearly four years. He hoped to reinvigorate the Latin races in their great struggle with the Anglo-Saxons on the American continent, and the only powers left alive and real there are the Anglo-Saxon and the Indian. He believed that the expe- dition would at last yield incalculable wealth to France, the virtual control of the alternative road between Europe and the far East, and it has ended in a loss of forty millions sterling, drawn mainly from supporters who subscribed in their faith in his star to Franco-Mexican loans. He judged that it would be easier to rule Mexico through an independent sovereign than through a viceroy, and the Sovereign's pretensions proved his own most serious embarrass- ment. He thought that the grant of a throne to a Haps- burg would permanently conciliate a house on which he relies for influence in Germany, and the appointment has deepened the chasm which separates the Austrians and the French almost beyond hope from the most skilful engineering. And, finally, he deemed it safest, after conquering Mexico and selecting its monarch, to desert his nominee, rather than fight the Union, and it may well be that this was the greatest blunder of all. The French feel wounded in their honour, the army knows well that it has retired without firing a shot before an American menace, and the bourgeoisie are alarmed by an expenditure to which there seems no limit except that of the national resources; Even M. Rouher, the rhapsodist of the Tribune, the Barrere of the Camarist regime, who will defend anything and can answer any one, is compelled to call the expedition the " black spot on a brilliant surface," and to acknowledge that his master has been beaten, if not by Jaurez and Mx. Seward, then by distance and the destinies. Much of this could have been kept from the people had Maximilian escaped, and much more might have been thrown upon his shoulders, but the execution of an Emperor is a fact which cannot be concealed, and which renders recrimination useless and offensive to French taste. A great war—for in expenditure of men and treasure it has been nothing less—has ended in a disastrous or, as many Frenchmen will deem it, a dishonourable retreat, in the concession of all disputed points, and in the formal execution of the chief under whose standard the war was carried on. This clearly will not seem success even in peasants' eyes, and the essential condition of Ozesaiism is that, in their eyes at least, it shall constantly succeed. Impartial men will argue that there was something of grandeur in the original idea, that the Emperor was beaten by events he could not foresee, and that in retreating at last he deli- berately preferred the prosperity of his people to his own vain- glory ; but average Frenchmen are not impartial, they never recognized the idea, they hold that earthly Providences must be prescient, and they always, in private life, accept challenges without stopping to contemplate results. The belief in the Emperor, still almost immovable among the peasantry, will be sadly shaken, and that strange Nemesis which follows the unjustifiable use of power will, we believe, hurry him on to enterprises yet more dangerous than the one which has so conspicuously failed. What Moscow was to the First Empire, Mexico may yet prove to the Second.