1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Blowitz, Henri Georges Stephan Adolphe de

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 4
Blowitz, Henri Georges Stephan Adolphe de

BLOWITZ, HENRI GEORGES STEPHAN ADOLPHE DE (1825–1903), Anglo-French journalist, was born, according to the account given in his memoirs, at his father’s château in Bohemia on the 28th of December 1825. At the age of fifteen he left home, and travelled over Europe for some years in company with a young professor of philology, acquiring a thorough knowledge of French, German and Italian and a mixed general education. The finances of his family becoming straitened, young Blowitz was on the point of starting to seek his fortune in America, when he became acquainted in Paris with M. de Falloux, minister of public instruction, who appointed him professor of foreign languages at the Tours Lycée, whence, after some years, he was transferred to the Marseilles Lycée. After marrying in 1859 he resigned his professorship, but remained at Marseilles, devoting himself to literature and politics. In 1869 information which he supplied to a legitimist newspaper at Marseilles with regard to the candidature of M. de Lesseps as deputy for that city led to a demand for his expulsion from France. He was, however, allowed to remain, but had to retire to the country. In 1870 his predictions of the approaching fall of the Empire caused the demand for his expulsion to be renewed. While his case was under discussion the battle of Sedan was fought, and Blowitz effectually ingratiated himself with the authorities by applying for naturalization as a French subject. Once naturalized, he returned to Marseilles, where he was fortunately able to render considerable service to Thiers, who subsequently employed him in collecting information at Versailles, and when this work was finished offered him the French consulship at Riga. Blowitz was on the point of accepting this post when Laurence Oliphant, then Paris correspondent of The Times, for which Blowitz had already done some occasional work, asked him to act as his regular assistant for a time, Frederick Hardman, the other Paris correspondent of The Times, being absent. Blowitz accepted the offer, and when, later on, Oliphant was succeeded by Hardman he remained as assistant correspondent. In 1873 Hardman died, and Blowitz became chief Paris correspondent to The Times. In this capacity he soon became famous in the world of journalism and diplomacy. In 1875 the duc de Decazes, then French foreign minister, showed Blowitz a confidential despatch from the French ambassador in Berlin (in which the latter warned his government that Germany was contemplating an attack on France), and requested the correspondent to expose the German designs in The Times. The publication of the facts effectually aroused European public opinion, and any such intention was immediately thwarted. Blowitz’s most sensational journalistic feat was achieved in 1878, when his enterprise enabled The Times to publish the whole text of the treaty of Berlin at the actual moment that the treaty was being signed in Germany. In 1877 and again in 1888 Blowitz rendered considerable service to the French government by his exposure of internal designs upon the Republic. He died on the 18th of January 1903.

My Memoirs, by H. S. de Blowitz, was published in 1903.