The London Times on the Orleans Princes in America
|Written||7 November 1861|
London, Oct. 12, 1861
On the occasion of the King of Prussia’s visit at Compiegne, The London Times published some racy articles, giving great offense on the other side of the Channel. The Pays, journal de l'Empire, in its turn, characterized The Times writers as people whose heads were poisoned by gin, and whose pens were dipped into mud. Such occasional exchanges of invective are only intended to mislead public opinion as to the intimate relations connecting Printing-House Square to the Tuileries. There exists beyond the French frontiers no greater sycophant of the Man of December than The London Times, and its services are the more invaluable, the more that paper now and then assumes the tone and the air of a Cato censor toward its Caesar. The Times had for months heaped insult upon Prussia. Improving the miserable Macdonald affair, it had told Prussia that England would feel glad to see a transfer of the Rhenish Provinces from the barbarous sway of the Hohenzollern to the enlightened despotism of a Bonaparte. It had not only exasperated the Prussian dynasty, but the Prussian people. It had written down the idea of an Anglo-Prussian alliance in case of a Prussian conflict with France. It had strained all its powers to convince Prussia that she had nothing to hope from England, and that the, next best thing she could do would be to come to some understanding with France. When at last the weak and trimming monarch of Prussia resolved upon the visit at Compiegne, The Times could proudly exclaim: “quorum magna pars fui;” but now the time had also arrived for obliterating from the memory of the British the fact that The Times had been the pathfinder of the Prussian monarch. Hence the roar of its theatrical thunders. Hence the counter roars of the Pays, journal de l'Empire.
The Times had now recovered its position of the deadly antagonist of Bonapartism, and, therefore, the power of lending its aid to the Man of December. An occasion soon offered. Louis Bonaparte is, of course, most touchy whenever the renown of rival pretenders to the French crown is concerned. He had covered himself with ridicule in the affair of the Duke d'Aumale’s pamphlet against Plon Plon, and, by his proceedings, had done more in furtherance of the Orleanist cause than all the Orleanist partisans combined. Again, in these latter days, the French people were called upon to draw a parallel between Plon Plon and the Orleans princes. When Plon Plon set out, for America, there were caricatures circulated in the Faubourg St. Antoine representing him as a fat man in search of a crown, but professing at the same time to be a most inoffensive traveler, with a peculiar aversion to the smell of powder. While Plon Plon is returning to France with no more laurels than he gathered in the Crimea and in Italy, the Princes of Orleans cross the Atlantic to take service in the ranks of the National army. Hence a great stir in the Bonapartist camp. It would not do to give vent to Bonapartist anger through the venal press of Paris. The Imperialist fears would thus only be betrayed, the pamphlet scandal renewed, and odious comparisons provoked between exiled Princes who fight under the republican banner against the enslavers of working millions, with another exiled Prince, who had himself sworn in as an English special constable to share in the glory of putting down an English workingmen’s movement.
Who should extricate the Man of December out of this dilemma? Who but The London Times? If the same London Times, which, on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th of October, 1861, had roused the furies of the Pays, journal de l'Empire, by its rather cynical strictures on the visit at Compiegne — if that very same paper should come out on the 12th of October, with a merciless onslaught on the Orleans Princes, because of their enlistment in the ranks of the National Army of the United States, would Louis Bonaparte not have proved his case against the Orleans Princes? Would The Times article not be done into French, commented upon by the Paris papers, sent by the Préfet de Police to all the journals of all the departments, and circulated throughout the whole of France, as the impartial sentence passed by The London Times, the personal foe of Louis Bonaparte, upon the last proceedings of the Orleans Princes? Consequently, The Times of to-day has come out with a most scurrilous onslaught on these princes.
Louis Bonaparte is, of course, too much of a business man to share the judicial blindness in regard to the American war of the official public opinion-mongers. He knows that the true people of England, of France, of Germany, of Europe, consider the cause of the United States as their own cause, as the cause of liberty, and that, despite all paid sophistry, they consider the soil of the United States as the free soil of the landless millions of Europe, as their land of promise, now to be defended sword in hand, from the sordid grasp of the slaveholder. Louis Napoleon knows, moreover, that in France the masses connect the fight for the maintenance of the Union with the fight of their forefathers for the foundation of American independence, and that with them every Frenchman drawing his sword for the National Government appears only to execute the bequest of Lafayette. Bonaparte, therefore, knows that if anything be able to win the Orleans Princes good opinions from the French people, it will be their enlistment in the ranks of the national army of the United States. He shudders at this very notion. and consequently The London Times, his censorious sycophant, tells to-day the Orleans princes that “they will derive no increase of popularity with the French nation from stooping to serve on this ignoble field of action.” Louis Napoleon knows that all the wars waged in Europe between hostile nations since his coup d'état, have been mock wars, groundless, wanton, and carried on on false pretenses. The Russian war, and the Italian war, not to, speak of the piratical expeditions against China, Cochin-China, and so forth, never enlisted the sympathies of the French people, instinctively aware that both wars were carried on only with the view to strengthening the chains forged by the coup d'état. The first grand war of contemporaneous history is the American war.
The peoples of Europe know that the Southern slaveocracy commenced that war with the declaration that the continuance of slaveocracy was no longer compatible with the continuance of the Union. Consequently, the people of Europe know that a fight for the continuance of the Union is a fight against the continuance of the slaveocracy — that in this contest the highest form of popular self-government till now realized is giving battle to the meanest and most shameless form of man’s enslaving recorded in the annals of history.
Louis Bonaparte feels, of course, extremely sorry that the Orleans Princes should embark in just such a war, so distinguished, by the vastness of its dimensions and the grandeur of its ends, from the groundless, wanton and diminutive wars Europe has passed through since 1849. Consequently, The London Times must needs declare:
“To overlook the difference between a war waged by hostile nations, and this most groundless and wanton civil conflict of which history gives us any account, is a species of offense against public morals.”
The Times is, of course, bound to wind up its onslaught on the Orleans Princes because of their “stooping to serve on such an ignoble field of action.” With a deep bow before the victor of Sevastopol and Solferino, “it is unwise,” says The London Times, “to challenge a comparison between such actions as Springfield and Manassas, and the exploits of Sevastopol and Solferino.”
The next mail will testify to the premeditated use made of The Times’s article by the Imperialist organs. A friend in times of need is proverbially worth a thousand friends in times of prosperity, and the secret ally of The London Times is just now very badly off.
A dearth of cotton, backed by a dearth of grain; a commercial crisis coupled with an agricultural distress, and both of them combined with a reduction of Custom revenues and a monetary embarrassment compelling the Bank of France to screw its rate of discount to six per cent, to enter into transactions with Rothschilds and Baring for a loan of two millions sterling on the London market, to pawn abroad French Government stock, and with all that to show but a reserve of 12,000,000 against liabilities amounting to more than 40,000,000. Such a state of economical affairs prepares just the situation for rival pretenders to stake double. Already there have been bread-riots in the Faubourg St. Antoine, and this of all times is therefore the most inappropriate time for allowing Orleans Princes to catch popularity. Hence the fierce forward rush of The London Times.