Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/190

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THE NEW FRANCE, Being a History from the ACCESSION OF LOUIS PHILIPPE IN 1830 TO THE Revolution of 1848, with Appendices

By Alexandre Dumas. Translated into English, with an introduction and notes by R. S. Garnett.

In two volumes, Demy Svo, cloth gilt, profusely illus trated with a rare portrait of Dumas and other pictures after famous artists. 24/- net.

The map of Europe is about to be altered. Before long we •hall be engaged in the marking out. This we can hard!y follow with success unless we possess an intelligent knowledge of the history of our Allies. It is a curious fact that the present generation is always ignorant of the history of that which preceded it. Everyone or nearly everyone has read a history — Carlyle^s or some other — of the French Revolution of 1789 to 1800 ; very few seem versed in what followed and culminated in the revolution of 1848, which was the continuation of the first.

Both revolutions resulted from an idea — the idea of the people. In 1789 the people destroyed servitude, ignorance, privilege, monarchical despotism ; in 1848 they tlirust aside representation by the few and a Monarchy which served its own interests to the prejudice of the country. It is impossible to understand the French Republic of to-day unless the struggle in 1848 be studied : for every profound revolution is an evolution.

A man of genius, the author of the most essentially French book, both in its subject and treatment, that exists (its name is The Three Musketeers) took part in this second revolution, and having taken part in it, he wrote its history. Only instead of calling his book what it was — a history of France for eighteen years — that is to say from the accession of Louis Philippe in 1880 to his abdication in 1848 — he called it The Last King of the French. An unfortunate title, truly, for while the book was yet a new one the " last King " was succeeded by a man who, having been elected President, made himself Emperor. It will easily be understood that a book with such a title by a republican was not likely to be approved by the severe censorship of the Second Empire. And, in fact, no new edition of the book has appeared for sixty yearf5, although its repubHcan author was Alexandre Dumas.

During the present war the Germans have twice marched over hit grave at Villers Cotterets, near Soissona, where he sleeps with his brave father General Alexandre Dumas. The first march was en route for Paris ; the secorkl was before the pursuit of our own and the French armies, and while these events were taking place the first translation of his long neglected book was being printed in London. Hahent sua fata iihelli.

Written when the fame of its brilliant author was at its height, this book will be found eminently characteristic of liim. Although a history composed with scrupulous fidelity to facts, it is as amusing as a romance. Wittily written, and abounding in life and colour, the long narrative takes the reader into the battlefield, the Court and the Hotel de Ville with equal success. Dumas, who in his e.arly days occupied a desk in the prince's bureaux, but who resigned it when the Duo d'Orleans became King of the French, relates mmh which it is curious to read at the present time. To his text, as originally published, are added as Appendices some papers from his pen relating to the history of the time, wiiich are unknown in England.