Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 139.pdf/642

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PRINCE BISMARCK.

633

The unexpected death of Lawrence prevented the commencement of a life-sized portrait of the young actress as Juliet, and Mrs. Kemble candidly owns that such was the charm of his countenance, the distinction of his person, the refined gentleness of his voice and manner, that had the intercourse continued much longer, in spite of the forty years' difference of age and the knowledge of his disastrous relations with her cousins, she must have fallen in love with him herself, and become the third of her family whose life he would have troubled. He had a false, superficial sensibility which not only induced women to fall in love with him, but enabled him to believe he was in love with them. "I think he was a dangerous person, because his experience and genius made him delightfully attractive, and the dexterity of his flattery amounted in itself to a fine art."




From The Saturday Review.

PRINCE BISMARCK.

The English public is indebted to the Times for a summary of a work in which more is told about a great man than a great man usually allows to be told about him in his lifetime. This work is the production of an ardent admirer of Prince Bismarck, and it is safe to guess that the bulk of the composition is not as amusing and interesting as the extracts which have been judiciously selected from it. But at any rate these extracts are amusing and interesting in the highest degree. They place before us the prince in all his calculated audacity, and they contain a number of his judgments on some of the most eminent of his contemporaries. It has apparently been his lot in life to have principally to deal with two classes of men — cowards and fools; and he delights in thinking that he has bullied the former and gauged the capacity of the latter. When he first entered on his task of re-fashioning Germany, he found Austria in possession not only of a political but of a social supremacy. Not only was Austria the head of the confederation, but it was accepted as a maxim that Austria was socially above all other members of the confederation, that the emperor of Austria was the king of all other German kings, and that they were to treat him as nobles treat a sovereign. His representatives were to do as they pleased, and the representatives of other German states were only to follow the Austrian example if expressly invited to do so. The Prussian court was always stringing itself up to dispute the political supremacy of Austria, but until Prince Bismarck arrived on the scene it never ventured to call the social supremacy of Austria in question. Social habits color political thoughts so profoundly that, as the prince saw, a social must precede a political revolution. Unless, when they met, the representatives of Prussia behaved as if conscious of being on an equality with the representatives of Austria, no one would believe that Prussia was really prepared to challenge Austria in the field of politics. A social Sadowa was indispensable, and the prince fought and won his Sadowa on the great question of tobacco. It had become a recognized usage that the Austrian representative should smoke while engaged in business, but that no one else might smoke in his august presence. On the sittings of the military-commission Count Thun alone smoked, and the Prussian Rochovv, although longing to light his cigar, did not dare to presume so far. It was expected, as a matter of course, that the Prussian commissioner would show as much deference to the Austrian commissioner as a commissioner from Würtemberg or Darmstadt. Prince Bismarck had the courage, and real courage was required, to break the spell. He had previously called on Count Thun and been desired to wait while the count smoked and went on with his business. Bismarck quietly took a cigar out of the count's box and smoked too. But this was only in private, and the count might think that it was a mere piece of undesigned gaucherie. It was very different when, in the sitting of a commission with all the delegates of the minor states present as spectators, Bismarck, on seeing Count Thun smoke, pulled a cigar out of his pocket and asked for a light. There was a moment of awe and expectancy, during which the assemply waited to see what the count would do. He capitulated, and did as he was asked. The social supremacy of Austria vanished in the fumes of a cigar.

The prince has been extremely free in giving his confidential friend the means of knowing and publishing the opinions he has formed as to some of those with whom he carried on his diplomatic struggles. This is especially the case with his French friends or enemies. He seems to have had a very poor opinion of the late emperor of the French, and to have formed the conclusion that there was little strength or wisdom beneath the emperor’s silence and reserve. He was, as the prince thinks,