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pass votes of confidence in Mr. Gladstone and his Irish policy, and will denounce the Unionist Liberals as dissentients and rebels and all the rest of it, and drum them out of the ranks of the associations and federations. But to any one who knows the internal machinery of these conferences and meetings, where violent resolutions are passed, the meetings are but smoke and the resolutions blank cartridge. The Liberal associations in every constituency were shattered to pieces at the late election, and the best and most influential men in them have retired. The so-called Liberal associations are of no account in estimating the forces in the country, and no men know this better than the fragment of the old Liberal officials in the Gladstonian ship who are still clinging to the wreck. They know that these so-called Liberal meetings and these resolutions mean no real revival of the united Liberalism which carried the country at the general election in 1880. They are merely the distant mutterings of the thunderstorm which has passed away, or the dying echoes of the last shot at the late election. It may be, as we have already said, that the country is at this moment going through a phase of political developement which will produce a readjustment of political parties, and a new departure in political life. The Radical wing of the old Liberal party may have broken away from the main body, and it may be allying itself permanently with the irregulars and campfollowers and plunderers, represented by the sentimentalists, the socialists, and the revolutionaries. These men have always been a source of weakness to the masculine and honest practical men of common sense who have formed the substance and the kernel of the Liberal party. If this be so, this Journal, which, since its earliest number, has always advocated plain common-sense principles in political life, has no reason to deplore the present state of affairs. We shall not wring our hands over the altered circumstances. We cannot throw in our lot with revolutionaries and with those who are guilty of treason to the Constitution and to the Empire. We desire, as we have always desired, to move along the broad way of progress which leads to the happiness and prosperity of the people, but we do not desire to rush down the path of revolution. If the Radical wing has left the main body, let it go in peace. The true centre of gravity of the Liberalism of the United Kingdom never has been, and never can be, in Radicalism.

No. CCCXXXVIII. will be published in April.

THE

EDINBURGH REVIEW,

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APRIL, 1887.

No. CCCXXXVIII.

ART. I. St. Petersburg and London in the years 18521864 Reminiscences of the Saxon Minister at the British Court, Count CHARLES FREDERIC VITZTHUM VON ECKSTÄDT. Edited, with a Preface, by HENRY REEVE, C.B., D.C.L. Two volumes, 8vo. London: 1887.

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Nor many years have passed since the discovery was made that diplomatic correspondence supplies the most valuable materials of history. Indeed, until a comparatively recent date, the archives in which these records of competent contemporary witnesses and observers are deposited were so jealously closed in all countries that no use could be made of them. We think the late Professor Ranke, in his 'History of the Popes,' was one of the first writers who penetrated these recesses, and showed what abundant stores of information they contain. But within the last fifty years all this is changed. The State papers of former ages have not only been ransacked by historical students, but published to a great extent by the governments to which they belong. Our own voluminous series of calendars, the magnificent collection of Documents inédits of the history of France published under the auspices of M. Guizot, and more recently the very complete and ingenuous disclosure of the military and political papers of Frederick the Great by the Prussian Government, have thrown a flood of light upon the transactions and the characters of former times, and the consequence is that the history of Europe has been rewritten. Much that was obscure has been explained; much that was false has been refuted; and we may now be said to know of many past events and negotiations as much as was

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known to well-informed persons at the time of their occurrence, and more than is known with certainty of events and negotiations which are taking place under our own eyes. For at a period approaching the domain of present politics these sources of information are closed. Our knowledge of contemporary events is derived from the newspapers and from the communications which it suits the governments of the day to lay before their respective parliaments; and, although these communications have of late years become far more copious than of old, they seldom lay bare the inner causes of political change, and they pass as lightly as possible over the characters and motives of the principal actors in them. To trace these to their source, future generations will have recourse to the diplomatic correspondence of the period.

The publication of the volumes which Count Vitzthum has given to the world, and which are now before us in an English dress, proves that future generations may not have to wait another century before their curiosity is gratified. The same remark applies to the very elaborate Memoirs of the late Count Beust, which have been published within a few months of his death. Everyone who knew that amiable and accomplished minister will peruse with interest the record of his life, although that life was a struggle against adverse currents which bore him far away from the success he aimed at. He has not concealed the foibles which contributed to his failure when he came in contact and collision with stronger and sterner natures than his own; but even his foibles made him a singularly agreeable member of society. It is not our intention to review the autobiography of Count Beust, because, although he was well known in this country, and resided so long amongst us, his book is mainly devoted to the intricacies of German politics, through which he was called upon to steer his way, and he has but little to say that is of immediate interest to ourselves. But the case is widely different with Count Vitzthum. He may be taken as the type of a highly competent witness, with singular opportunities of observing the course of political events about him; and the position he occupied as the representative of one of the minor States of Europe did not impose on him the necessity or the temptation to vindicate the policy of any of the leading statesmen of the age. He is, therefore, not only a competent, but an independent witness, who forms and expresses his opinions with extreme candour and impartiality. At a very early age he entered

upon his diplomatic career, being attached to the Saxon Legation in Berlin in 1846, where he already foresaw, and recorded in letters to his family, the storm which was about to burst over Germany. In 1848 he was removed to Vienna, where he actually witnessed the tremendous convulsion of that and the following year, which swept away in one blast the reign of Metternich and the exclusive society of that aristocratic capital, which had received the young and wellborn diplomatist as a welcome addition to its circle. These portions of his political life are recorded in another work, previously published in Germany, and they are not contained in the volumes now before us.

In June 1852 he was transferred as Saxon chargé d'affaires to St. Petersburg, and, although he only remained in that capital for less than twelve months, his experience of the Court of Russia formed an invaluable introduction to his subsequent mission to London, because it was precisely within those months that the resolutions were taken which led shortly afterwards to such disastrous consequences. The most potent and influential personage at that moment in the politics of Europe was the Emperor Nicholas of Russia. It is scarcely possible to convey to the present generation the importance and extent of the authority exercised by that autocrat over the Continent; and the most considerable result of the Crimean war was the destruction of that Russian prepotency, never likely to be renewed over the German States, and now far less formidable or respected by the other Powers of Europe. The character of the Emperor Nicholas is, therefore, the most instructive study in the history of those times, and we are indebted to Count Vitzthum for a closer inspection of it.

This

On Sunday, July 8 (20), the Czar received me after mass. was contrary to etiquette, since the Emperor as a rule gave private audiences only to ambassadors and envoys. Prince Albert (of Saxony) being there, an exception was made, to which I am indebted for one of the most interesting hours of my life. The master of the ceremonies had conducted me to the room and remained standing at the door, doubtful whether to attend at this unaccustomed audience or not. Without saying a word, the Czar answered the official's mute inquiry by pointing energetically to the door. We remained alone, and I found myself for the first time face to face with the mightiest and most dreaded monarch in the world. In spite of his fifty-six years, the classical Greek features and giant figure of Nicholas I. still showed the strength of youth. Phidias could have chiselled a Zeus or a god of war from this model. He wore the undress uniform of a regiment of the Guard, a blue double-breasted military tunic. I observed the head, now

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