The visit paid by the Emperor Napoleon and the Empress Eugenie to Queen Victoria at Windsor in 1856 was returned in 1857.

It was on the 18th of August that the queen, her husband, the Prince of Wales, then a boy of fourteen, and the Princess Royal landed at Boulogne. The royal yacht had been in sight since daybreak, the emperor anxiously watching it from the shore; but it was two P. M. before it was moored to the quai. There can be no better account of this visit than that given by Queen Victoria. The following extracts are taken from her journal: -

"At last the bridge was adjusted, the emperor stepped across. I met him half-way, and embraced him twice, after which he led me on shore amid acclamations, salutes, and every sound of joy and respect. The weather was perfect, the harbor crowded with war-ships, the town and the heights were decorated with gay colors."

The delay in getting up to the wharf postponed the queen's entrance into Paris, and greatly disappointed the crowds who waited for her coming. They were also disappointed that the greatest lady in the world exhibited no magnificence in costume. But the queen herself was greatly impressed by her first view of Paris: -

"The approaching twilight rather added to the beauty of the scene; and it was still quite light enough when we passed down the Boulevard de Strasbourg (the emperor's own creation) and along the Boulevards by the Porte Saint-Denis, the Madeleine, the Place de la Concorde, and the Arch of Triumph, to see the objects round us."

They drove through the Bois de Boulogne in the dusk to the palace of Saint-Cloud; but all the way was lined with troops, and bands playing "God Save the Queen," at intervals. The queen was particularly impressed by the Zouaves, "The friends," she says (for the Crimean War was then in progress), "of my dear Guards in the Crimea."

The birth of the Prince Imperial being an event in prospect, the empress was not allowed to fatigue herself, and first met the queen on the latter's arrival at Saint-Cloud. "In all the blaze of lamps and torches," says the queen, "amidst the roar of cannon, and bands, and drums, and cheers, we reached the palace. The empress, with Princess Mathilde and the ladies, received us at the door, and took us up a beautiful staircase, lined with magnificent soldiers.... I felt quite bewildered, but enchanted."

At dinner General Canrobert, who was fresh from the Crimea, was placed next to her Majesty, and gave her his war experiences. Next day the royal party went to the Exposition Universelle, then going on in Paris, and afterwards, while the queen was receiving the ambassadors, the emperor drove the Prince of Wales through the streets of Paris; he afterwards took his older guests sight-seeing in his capital. "As we crossed the Pont de Change," writes the queen, "the emperor said, pointing to the Conciergerie, 'That is where I was in prison." He alluded to the time when he was brought from Strasburg to Paris, before being shipped for Rio Janeiro. "Strange," continues the queen, "to be driving with us as emperor through the streets of Paris in triumph!"

They visited Versailles (where the queen sketched), and afterwards went to the Grand Opera. They saw Paris illuminated that night as they drove back to Saint-Cloud, the emperor and Prince Albert recalling old German songs; and the queen says: "The emperor seems very fond of his old recollections of Germany. There is much that is German, and very little - nothing, in fact - markedly French in his character."

One day all the royal party went out in a hack carriage, with what the queen calls "common bonnets and veils," and drove incognito round Paris. Sometimes they talked politics, sometimes they seem to have joked and laughed with childish glee and enjoyment; and one night the emperor took the queen by torchlight to see the tomb of his great uncle at the Invalides. A guard of old warriors who had served under Napoleon, with Santini, his valet at St. Helena, at their head, escorted the queen of England to the chapel where stood Napoleon's coffin, not yet entombed, with the sword of Austerlitz lying upon it. The band in the chapel was playing "God Save the Queen," while without raged a sudden thunder-storm.

The mornings were devoted to quiet pleasures and sight-seeing, the evenings to operas, state dinners, and state balls. The great ball given on this occasion in the galleries of Versailles was talked of in Paris for years after. "The empress," says the queen, "met us at the top of the staircase, looking like a fairy-queen or nymph, in a white dress trimmed with bunches of grass and diamonds, a beautiful tour de corsage of diamonds round the top of her dress, and all en riviere; the same round her waist, and a corresponding headdress, and her Spanish and Portuguese orders. The emperor said when she appeared: 'Comme tu es belle!'"

Next day, as the emperor drove the queen in an open carriage, they talked of the Orleans family, whose feelings had been greatly hurt by a recent sequestration of their property. The emperor tried to make excuses for this act, - excuses that seemed to the queen but tame, - and then he drove to the chapel built over the house where the Duke of Orleans had died on the Avenue de Neuilly. The emperor bought her two of the medals sold on the spot, one of which bore the likeness of the Comte de Paris, with an inscription calling him the hope of France.

The visit ended after eight delightful days, and the emperor escorted his guests back to Boulogne.

Prince Albert, the queen confesses, was not so much carried away by the fascinations of their new friend as herself; but the empress secured his entire commendation.

The queen and the emperor continued to correspond, and subsequently met several times, at Osborne House or at Cherbourg.

I have told at some length of this visit, because it seemed to me to mark the culminating point of Napoleon III.'s successful career; not only was he fully admitted into the inner circle of European sovereigns, but his place there was confirmed by the personal friendship and alliance of the greatest among them.

In 1867 there was another Universal Exposition held in Paris; and this was also a time of great outward glory and triumph for the emperor, surrounded as he was by European emperors, crown princes, and kings; but Queen Victoria was then a sorrowing widow, and decay was threatening Napoleon's apparent prosperity.

It was in 1867 that the emperor and empress received the czar, the sultan, the Crown Prince of Prussia, Princess Alice of Hesse Darmstadt, and many other crowned heads and celebrities. It was a year of fetes and international courtesies. But in Paris itself there was a strange feeling of insecurity, - a fearful looking for something, society knew not what. "It seemed," said one who breathed the rarefied air in which lived the upper circles of society, "as if the air were charged with electricity; as if the shadows of coming events were being darkly cast over the joyous city."

One of the most remarkable sights of that gay time of hollowness and brilliancy was the review given in honor of the Emperor of Russia, on June 6. No less than sixty thousand French troops, of all arms of the service, filed past the three grand-stands on the race-course of the Bois de Boulogne. On the central stand sat the Empress Eugenie, with the Prince Imperial, the Crown Princess of Prussia, her sister, Princess Alice, and the Grand Duchess of Leuchtenberg. Before this stand, on horseback on one side, sat the Grand Duke Vladimir, the Czarevitch (the present Czar of Russia), the Crown Prince of Prussia (since the lamented Emperor Frederick), Prince Gortschakoff (the Russian prime minister), Count Bismarck, and an English nobleman; on the other side were the Duc de Leuchtenberg, the Duke of Mecklenburg, and the Prince of Hesse Darmstadt; while in the centre of them all rode the czar, with Napoleon III. on one hand, and on the other the king of prussia.[1]

[Footnote 1: Blackwood's Magazine.]

How little could any of those who looked upon that throng of royal personages imagine what in little more than two years was coming on them all!

The emperor was fond of literature, and when drawn into a literary discussion, his half-closed eyes would gleam with sudden light, and his criticisms would be both witty and valuable. During his later years, harassed by sickness and perplexities of all kinds, his greatest pleasure was to shut himself up in his study, and there work upon his "Life of Caesar." He wrote it entirely himself, though he had many learned men in France and Germany employed in looking up references and making extracts for him. The book was considered a work of genuine merit. To its author it was a labor of love. He threw into it all his experience of life, all his theories, all his Napoleonic convictions; for in Caesar and Napoleon he found many parallels. He hoped to be admitted as a literary man into the French Academy, and he meant to base his claim upon this book.

I have said nothing of the cares that oppressed the emperor in connection with the war in the Crimea, which was prolonged far beyond his expectations; of the campaign in Italy, broken short off by threats of intervention made by the king of Prussia, and followed by feelings of disappointment and revenge on the part of the Italians; of the intervention of the emperor in 1866, after the battle of Sadowa, to check the triumphant march of the Prussian army through Austria; nor of the bombs of Orsini, which led to a rupture of the friendliness between France and England, breaking up the cordial relations which existed between the two courts in 1857, and reviving that panic about French invasion which seems periodically to attack Englishmen ever since the great scare in the days of Bonaparte. These subjects belong rather to historical reminiscences of England, Italy, or Germany; but the emperor had anxieties besides in France, and often found it hard to regulate with discretion even the ways of his own household.

The empress, who after she had governed France as regent in 1859, during her husband's absence in the Italian war, had been admitted to councils of state, by no means approved either her husband's domestic or foreign policy. We have seen that her influence was strongly exerted to bring about the unfortunate attempt to give an emperor and empress to Mexico; but on two other points that she had at heart she failed. She could not persuade her husband to undertake the reconstruction of the kingdom of Poland, nor to assist Queen Isabella of Spain when her subjects, exasperated at last by her excesses, drove her over the French frontier. The empress disliked many of the coterie who enjoyed her husband's intimacy, especially his cousin, Prince Napoleon. She resented the prince's opposition to her marriage; she disliked his manners, his political opinions, his aggressive opposition to all the offices of religion; and she succeeded in detaching him from the emperor's confidence, and in hindering his taking part in public affairs. To his wife - the Princess Clotilde - she was deeply attached; but that did not serve to reconcile her to the prince, her husband. Both ladies were opposed to any diminution of the pope's temporal power in Italy; but the private circle of the friends of the empress was too gay for the chastened nature of the Princess Clotilde, and by degrees her intimacy with the empress became less close and affectionate than it had been in the early days of her unhappy marriage.

An episode in the private life of the palace, in 1859, created considerable friction in Paris, and provoked remonstrances from the emperor's ministers.[1] This was the admission to the circle of intimates who surrounded the empress of the mesmerist and medium Home. This man gave himself out to be an American; but many persons suspected that his native land was Germany, and some said he was a secret agent of that court, which had emissaries all over France, in search of useful information. The empress, having heard of Home's strange feats of table-turning and spirit-rapping in fashionable salons of the capital, was eager to witness his performances. The women in the high society of Paris were greatly excited about them. Spiritualism was the fad of the season, and the empress caught the infection. The emperor, who was present at many of the exhibitions at the Tuileries, was also, it is said, much impressed by some of them, especially by a mysterious invisible hand laid firmly on his shoulder, and by an icy breath that passed over his face. But although the emperor, always indulgent to his wife, resisted at first the advice of his counsellors to get rid of Home, he was forced at last to put an end to the seances at the Tuileries, Fontainebleau, and Biarritz. The spirits "summoned" had had the imprudence to obtrude upon him their own views of his policy. When the alliance with Italy and a probable war with Austria were under discussion in the cabinet, the spirit-inspired pencil at the Tuileries scrawled these words: "The emperor should declare war and deliver Italy from the Austrians." Not long afterwards, the vulgar presumption of Home, who had accompanied the court to Biarritz, provoked the emperor, and caused him to give ear to the earnest remonstrances of his Minister for Foreign Affairs. He gave orders that Home should appear at the Tuileries no more.

[Footnote 1: Pierre de Lana.]

Home died not long after in Germany, forgotten by the world of fashion, but leaving behind him a little circle of ardent believers.

The story of the emperor's later life seems to me to be one full of pathos and of pain. It is the record of a man who knew himself to be slowly dying, whose physical strength was ebbing day by day, but who was bearing up under the vain hope of accomplishing the impossible. One admires his extreme patience, his uncomplaining perseverance, as he tried to roll the stone of Sisyphus, yet with unspoken misgivings in his heart that it would escape from him and crush the hopes of his life, as it rolled back out of his hands.

"Poor emperor!" says the eye-witness who beheld him in his hour of triumph, before the grand-stand, in 1867, at the great review. "He was a friend to all, and he fell through his friends. He was very true to England, whatever he may have been to other countries; but England failed him, unfortunately in Denmark, fortunately in Mexico, and fatally in 1870."[1]

[Footnote 1: Blackwood's Magazine.]

It seems, too, as if the world forgets now - what assuredly must be remembered hereafter in history - that it was he who relieved Europe from the treaties of Vienna, and asserted the claims of nationalities; that he brought about the resurrection of Italy; that through his policy we have a solution satisfactory to the world in general of the question of the pope's power as a temporal prince in Italy; that he was the builder of modern Paris, the promoter of agriculture, the railroad king of France, the peasant's and the workman's friend.

In early life he had been an adventurer; but a kind heart gave him gracious manners. He was grateful, faithful, and generous; terribly prodigal of money, and the victim of the needy men by whom he was surrounded. It seems as if, in spite of his coup d'etat (which, subtracting its massacres, may have been a measure of self-preservation), he deserves better of the world and of France than to have his memory spurned and spat upon, as men do now.

He gave France eighteen years of pre-eminent prosperity; he left her, to be sure, in ruins. In his fall he utterly obliterated the prestige of the name of Bonaparte. No Bonaparte, probably, will ever again awaken the enthusiasm of the French people, - an enthusiasm which Napoleon III. relied on, justly at first, and fatally afterwards, when a generation had arisen in France, from whom the feeling had passed away.

The emperor's malady, which was slowly sapping his strength, is said to be the most painful one that flesh is heir to. Every movement was pain to him. Absolute rest was what he needed, but cares pressed hard upon him on every side. He must die, and leave his empire in the hands of a woman and a child. His government had been wholly personal. He could not transmit his power, such is it was, to any other person, - least of all could he place it in feeble hands. There were no props to his throne. No Bismarck or Cavour stood beside him, to whom he might confide his wife and son, and feel that though his hand no longer held the helm, the ship would sail straight on the course he had laid down for her. The men about him were third and fourth rate men, - all of them enormously his own inferiors. They cheated and deceived and plundered him; and he knew it in a measure, though not as he knew it after his downfall.

The emperor said once: "There is but one Bonapartist among us, and that is Fleury. The empress is a Legitimist, I am a Socialist, and Prince Napoleon a Republican." As he contemplated the future, it seems to have occurred to him that the only thing that could be done was to teach France to govern herself, - to change his despotic authority into a constitutional government. He might live long enough, he thought, to make the new plan work, and if, by a successful war with Germany, a war impending and perhaps inevitable, he could gain brilliant military glory; if he could restore to France that frontier of the Rhine which had been wrested from her by Europe after the downfall of his uncle, - his dynasty would be covered with glory, and all might go on right for a few years, till his boy should be old enough to replace him.

Both these expedients he tried. In 1869 he announced that he was about to grant France liberal institutions. He put the empress forward whenever it was possible, and he made up his mind that as war with Germany was sure to come, the sooner it came, the better, that he might reap its fruits while some measure of life and strength was left him. Long before, Prince Albert had assured him that his policy, which made his ministers mere heads of bureaux, which never called them together for common action as members of one cabinet, which compelled each to report only to his master, who took on trust the accuracy of the reports made to him, was a very dangerous mode of governing. It was indeed very unlike his uncle's practice, though it might have been theoretically his system. Both uncle and nephew came into power by a coup d'etat, - the one on the 18th Brumaire (Nov. 9, 1799), the other on Dec. 2, 1851. Both were undoubtedly the real choice of the people; both really desired the prosperity of France: but the younger man was more genuine, more kindly, more human than the elder one. The uncle surrounded himself with "mighty men, men of renown," - great marshals, great diplomatists, great statesmen. Louis Napoleon had not one man about him whom he could trust, either for honesty, ability, or personal devotion, unless, indeed, we except Count Walewski. All his life he had cherished his early ideas of the liberation of Italy, which he accomplished; of the resurrection of Poland, which he never found himself in a position to attempt; of the rectification of the frontier of France, which he in part accomplished by the attainment of Nice and Savoy; and, finally, his dream included the restoration to France of self-government, with order reconciled to liberty.

As early as January, 1867, the emperor was consulting, not only his friends, but his political opponents as to his scheme of transforming despotism into a parliamentary government. He wrote thus to M. Emile Ollivier, a leader of the liberal party in France:[1] -

[Footnote 1: Pierre di Lana.]

"Believe me, I am not pausing through indecision, nor through a vain infatuation as to my prerogatives; but my fear is of parting in this country, which is shaken by so many conflicting passions, with the means of re-establishing moral order, which is the essential basis of liberty. My embarrassment on the subject of a law of the Press is not how to find the power of repression, but how to define in a law what deserves repression. The most dangerous articles may escape repression, while the most insignificant may provoke prosecution. This has always been the difficulty. Nevertheless, in order to strike the public mind by decisive measures, I should like to effect at one stroke what has been called the crowning of the edifice. I should like to do this at once and forever; for it is important to me, and it is above all important to the country.... I wish to advance firmly in a straight line, without oscillating to the right or left. You see that I have spoken to you with perfect frankness."

We also see in this letter one of Louis Napoleon's characteristics, - a fondness for taking people by surprise. Nearly everything he did was a surprise to the public, and yet it had long been maturing in his own mind.

The next time M. Ollivier saw the emperor he was told of his intention to grant the right of holding political meetings; the responsibility of cabinet ministers to the Chamber; and the almost entire freedom of the Press. The emperor added, with a smile: "I am making considerable concessions, and if my government immediately succeeded that of the First Empire, this would be acknowledged; but since I came after parliamentary governments, my concessions will be considered small."

The emperor's experiment was a failure. The moment restraint was taken off, and the French had liberty of speech and freedom of the Press, they became like boys released from school and its strict discipline. The brutal excesses of language in the Parisian newspapers, the fierceness of their attacks upon the Government, and the shamelessness of their slander, alarmed the emperor and the best of his personal adherents, who had been by no means supporters of his policy. But though the experiment gave signs of never being likely to succeed, and no one seemed pleased with the new system, the emperor persevered. He refused to withdraw his reforms; he declined to make what children call "an Indian gift" to his people: but the effect of the divided counsels by which he was embarrassed was that these reforms were accepted by the public merely as experiments, to be tried during good behavior, and not as the basis of a new system definitively entered upon.

All through the year 1869 the difficulties of the course which the emperor adopted grew greater and greater. The emancipated Press was rampant. It knew no pity and no decency. Its articles on the emperor's failing health (which he insisted upon reading) were cruel in the extreme. Terrible anxieties for the future must have haunted him. If his project for self-government in France must prove a failure, when he was dead, what then? Could a child and a woman govern as he had done by a despotic will? He had done so in his days of health and strength; but events now seemed to intimate that his government had been a failure rather than a success.

Lord Palmerston, writing from Paris in Charles X.'s time, said: "Bonaparte in the last years of his reign crushed every one else, both in politics and war. He allowed no one to think and act but himself."

Somewhat the same remark could be applied to the Third Napoleon. But Napoleon I. was a great administrator as well as a great general; his activity was inexhaustible, he corresponded with everybody, he looked after everything, he knew whether he was well or ill served; and his mode of obtaining power did not hinder his availing himself of the best talent in France. The case of his nephew was the reverse of this. His highest quality was his tenacity of purpose, and his disposition was inclined to kindly tolerance, even of pecuniary greed and slipshod service. He could rouse himself to great exertion; but in the later days of Imperialism, pain and his decaying physical powers had rendered him inert; moreover, in his general habits he had always been indolent and pleasure-loving. In carrying out the coup d'etat nine tenths of the public men in France had been subjected to humiliations and indignities, by which they were permanently outraged, and a host of co-conspirators and adventurers had acquired claims upon the emperor that it was not safe to disregard. Places and money were distributed among them with reckless profusion, and many a shady money transaction, throwing discredit on some men high in favor with the emperor, was passed over, to avoid exposure.

On the other hand, the emperor improved Paris till he made it the most beautiful city in the world. It was his aim to open wide streets through the old crowded quarters where revolution hid itself, hatching plots and crimes. He provided fresh air and drainage. He turned the Bois de Boulogne from a mere wild wood into the magnificent pleasure-ground of a great city. He completed the Louvre, and demolished the straggling, hideous buildings which disfigured the Carrousel in Louis Philippe's time. The working population, which his improvements drove out of the Faubourg Saint Antoine emigrated to high and healthy quarters in Montmartre and Belleville, where a beautiful park was laid out for them. No part of Paris escaped these improvements, though it took immense sums to complete them. But while their good results will be permanent, their immediate effect was to raise rents and make the increased cost of living burdensome to people of small incomes. The work brought also into Paris an enormous population of masons, carpenters, and day-laborers, - a population which was a good deal like the monster in the fairy tale, which had to be fed each day with the best; for if once it became hungry or dissatisfied, it might devour the man of science who had brought it into being.

Still, the French are ungrateful to Napoleon III. when they forget how much they are indebted to him for the extension of their commerce, the growth of their railroads, the improvement of their cities, and above all for his attention to sanitary science and to agriculture.

When he came to the throne, every traveller through France was struck by the poor breeds of swine, sheep, and cattle; the slovenly system of cultivation, the wide waste lands, the poor implements for farming, and the want of drainage. In his exile the emperor had lived much with English landowners, and he endeavored more than anything else to improve agriculture. He spent great sums of money himself in model farms for the purpose of showing how things could be done. But while commercial, agricultural, and manufacturing prosperity increased in France, so also did the cost of living; and the cry, "Put money in thy purse!" found its echo in the hearts of all men in all classes of society. Speculation of every kind ran rampant, and by the year 1869 the cost of the improvements in Paris alone became greater than France could patiently bear.

Personally, Louis Napoleon had strong sympathy with the working-classes, and was always seeking to benefit them. He favored co-operative societies; he was planning, when he fell, a system of state annuities to disabled or to aged workmen. He abolished passports between France and England, and also the French workman's character-book, or livret, which by law he had been compelled to have always at hand.

In the midst of the emperor's other perplexities, there came, during the first days of 1870, a most damaging occurrence connected with his own family, - an occurrence with which the emperor had no more to do than Louis Philippe had had with the Praslin murder; but it helped to impair the remaining prestige which clung to the name of Bonaparte.

Prince Pierre Bonaparte, grandson of Lucien, was a dissolute and irregular character. His cousin, the emperor, had repeatedly paid his debts and given him, as he did to every one connected with the name of Bonaparte, large sums of money. At last Prince Pierre's conduct grew so bad that this help ceased. Then he threatened his cousin; but the emperor would not even buy an estate he owned in Corsica. Prince Pierre went back, therefore, to the cradle of his family, and there got into a fierce quarrel with an opposition member of the Chamber of Deputies. The deputy, like a true Corsican, nourished revenge. He waited till he went up to Paris, and there laid his grievances against the emperor's cousin before his fellow deputies of the opposition. They at once made it a party affair. On Jan. 2, 1870, - the day the reformed Chamber of Deputies was opened, - two journalists of Paris, M. de Tourvielle and M. Victor Noir, went armed to Pierre Bonaparte's house at Auteuil to carry him a challenge. They found the prince in a room where he kept a curious collection of weapons. He was a coarse man, with an ungovernable temper. High words were exchanged. Victor Noir slapped the prince in the face, and the prince, seizing a pistol, shot him dead. He then turned on M. de Tourvielle; but the latter had time to draw a sword from his sword-cane, and stood armed. Victor Noir's funeral was made the occasion of an immense republican demonstration, and M. Rochefort reviled the emperor and all his family in the newspaper he edited, "La Lanterne," calling upon Frenchmen to make an end of the Bonapartes.

Prince Pierre was tried for murder, and acquitted; Rochefort was tried for seditious libel, and condemned. It was an ominous opening for the new Chamber. The emperor had been most anxious that it should contain no deputies violently opposed to his new policy, and the elections had been scandalously manipulated in the interest of his dynasty.

Thiers complained bitterly to an Englishman, who visited him, of the undisguised tampering with voters in this election. He said, -

"The Government pretends to believe in a Chamber elected by universal suffrage, and yet dares not trust the votes of the electors; but mark my words, this tampering with an election is for the last time. What will succeed the Empire, I know not. God grant it may not be our country's ruin! But the state of things under which we live cannot last long. It is incumbent on honest men to lay before the emperor the state of the country, which his ministers do their best to keep from him. For a long time I kept silent, - it was no use to knock one's head against a wall; but now we have revolution staring us in the face, as the alternative with the Empire."

As the little man said this, we are told that the fire in his eyes gleamed through his spectacles; and as he walked about the room, he seemed to grow taller and taller.[1]

[Footnote 1: Blackwood's Magazine.]

The new constitutional ministry, into whose hands the emperor proposed to resign despotic power and to rule thenceforward as constitutional sovereign, had for its chief M. Emile Ollivier; Marshal Le Boeuf (made marshal on the field of Magenta) was the Minister of War.

The debates in the Chamber were all stormy. The opposition might not be numerous, but it was fierce and determined. It scoffed at the idea of France being free when elections were tampered with to sustain the Government; and finally things came to such a pass that the emperor resolved to play again his tromp-card, and to call a plebiscite to say whether the French people approved of him and wished to continue his dynasty. They were to vote simply Yes or No.

There was not such open tampering this time with the vote as there had been in the election of the deputies, but all kinds of Government influences were brought to bear on prefects, maires, and other official personages, especially in the villages. The result was that 7,250,000 Frenchmen voted Yes, and one and a half million, No. But to the emperor's intense surprise and mortification, and in spite of all precautions, there were 42,000 Noes from the army. It was a terrible discovery to the emperor that there was disaffection among his soldiers. Promotion, many men believed, had for some years been distributed through favoritism. The men had little confidence in their officers, the officers complained loudly of their men. A dashing exploit in Algeria made up for irregularities of discipline. Even the staff officers were deficient in geography, and the stories that afterwards came to light of the way in which the War Department collected worthless stores, while serviceable ones existed only on paper, seem almost incredible. Yet when war was declared, Emile Ollivier said that he went into it with a light heart, and Marshal Le Boeuf was reported to have told the emperor that he would not find so much as one button missing on his soldiers' gaiters.

The discovery that the army was not to be depended on, and needed a war of glory to put it in good humor with itself and with its emperor, decided Napoleon III. to enter precipitately into the Franco-Prussian war while he still had health enough to share in it. Besides this, a struggle with Germany was inevitable, and he dared not leave it to his successor. Then, too, if successful, - and he never doubted of success, - all opposition at home would be crushed, and the prestige of his dynasty would be doubled, especially if he could, by a brilliant campaign, give France the frontier of the Rhine, at least to the borders of Belgium. This would indeed be a glorious crowning of his reign.

He believed in himself, he believed in his star, he believed in his own generalship, he believed that his army was ready (though his army and navy never had been ready for any previous campaign), and he believed, truly enough, that the prospect of glory, aggrandizement, and success would be popular in France.

Spain was at that time in want of a king. Several princes were proposed, and the most acceptable one would have been the Duc de Montpensier; but Napoleon III., who dreaded the rivalry of the Orleans family, gave the Spaniards to understand that he would never consent to see a prince of that family upon the Spanish throne. Then the Spaniards took the matter into their own hands, and possibly stimulated by a wish to make a choice disagreeable to the French emperor, selected a prince of the Prussian royal family, Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern. The Emperor Napoleon objected at once. To have Prussia on the eastern frontier of France, and Prussian influence beyond the Pyrenees, was worse in his eyes than the selection of Montpensier; and it was certainly a matter for diplomatic consideration. M. Benedetti, the French minister at Berlin, was instructed to take a very haughty tone with the king of Prussia, and to say that if he permitted Prince Leopold to accept the Spanish crown, it would be a cause of war between France and Prussia. The king of Prussia replied substantially that he would not be threatened, and would leave Prince Leopold to do as he pleased. Prompted, however, no doubt, by his sovereign, Prince Leopold declined the Spanish throne. This was intimated to M. Benedetti, and here the matter might have come to an end. But the Emperor Napoleon, anxious for a casus belli, chose to think that the king of Prussia, in making his announcement to his ambassador, had not been sufficiently civil.

A cabinet council was held at the Tuileries. The empress was now admitted to cabinet councils, that she might be prepared for a regency that before long might arrive. She and Marshal Le Boeuf were vehement for war. The populace, proud of their fine army, shouted with one voice, "A Berlin!" and on July 15, 1870, war was declared.

Let us relieve the sad closing of this chapter, which began so auspiciously with the emperor and empress in the height of their prosperity, by telling of an expedition in which the glory of the empress as a royal lady culminated.

The Suez Canal being completed, its opening was to be made an international affair of great importance. The work was the work of French engineers, led by M. Ferdinand de Lesseps, in every way a most remarkable man.

England looked coldly on the enterprise. To use the vulgar phrase both literally and metaphorically, she "took no stock" in the Suez Canal, and she sent no royal personage, nor other representative to the opening ceremonies; the only Englishman of official rank who was present was an admiral, whose flag-ship was in the harbor of Port Said.

The Emperor Napoleon was wholly unable to leave France at a time so critical; but he sent his fair young empress in his stead. He stayed at Saint-Cloud, and took advantage of her absence to submit to a severe surgical operation. The empress went first to Constantinople, where Sultan Abdul Aziz gave a beautiful fete in her honor, at which she appeared, lovely and all glorious, in amber satin and diamonds. She afterwards proceeded to Egypt as the guest of the khedive, entering Port Said Nov. 16, 1869, and returning to Paris on the 5th of December.

The opening of the canal across the isthmus of Suez, which was in a manner to unite the Eastern with the Western world, caused the eyes of all Christendom to be fixed on Egypt, - the venerable great-grandmother of civilization. The great work had been completed, in spite of Lord Palmerston's sincere conviction, which he lost no opportunity of proclaiming to the world, that it was impossible to connect the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. The sea-level, he said, was not the same in the two seas so that the embankments could not be sustained, and drift-sands from the desert would fill the work up rapidly from day to day. Ismail Pasha, the khedive of Egypt, had made the tour of Europe, inviting everybody to the opening, from kings and kaisers, empresses and queens, down to members of chambers of commerce and marine insurance companies. Great numbers were to be present, and the Empress Eugenie was to be the Cleopatra of the occasion. But suddenly the khedive was threatened with a serious disappointment: the sultan, his suzerain, wanted to join in the festivities; and if he were present, he must be the chief personage, the khedive would be thrust into a vassal's place, and all his glory, all his pleasure in his fete, would be gone.

The ancient Egyptians, whose attention was much absorbed in waterworks and means of irrigation, had, as far back as the days of Sesostris, conceived the idea of communication between the Nile and the Red Sea. Traces of the canal that they attempted still remain. Pharaoh Necho, in the days of the Prophet Jeremiah, revived the project. Darius and one of the Ptolemies completed the work, but when Egypt sank back into semi-barbarism, the canal was neglected and forgotten. It does not appear, however, that the Pharaohs ever thought of connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. The canal of Sesostris and of Pharaoh Necho was a purely local affair, affecting Egyptian commerce alone.

Some modern Egyptian engineers seem first to have conceived the project of a Suez canal; but the man who accomplished it was the engineer and statesman, M. de Lesseps. In spite of all manner of discouragements, he brought the canal to completion, supported throughout by the influence and authority of the khedive. The first thing to be done was to supply the laborers and the new town of Ismailia with drinking water, by means of a narrow freshwater canal from the Nile. Till then all fresh water had been brought in tanks from Cairo. Next, a town - called Port Said, after the khedive who had first favored the plan of the canal - was built on the Mediterranean. The canal was to run a straight southerly course to Suez. At Ismailia, the new city, it would connect with the railroad to Cairo; between Port Said and Ismailia it would pass through two swampy lakes.

In seven years Port Said became a town of ten thousand inhabitants. The total length of the canal is about ninety miles, but more than half of it passes through the lakes, which had to be dredged. The width of the canal is a little over one hundred yards, its depth twenty-six feet. About sixty millions of dollars were expended on its construction and the preliminary works that it entailed, - these last all tending to the benefit and prosperity of Egypt.

The grand opening took place Nov. 16, 1869. The sultan was not present; he had been persuaded out of his fancy to see the sight, and the khedive was left in peace as master of ceremonies. The Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria was there in his yacht, and the Empress Eugenie, the "bright particular star" of the occasion, was on board the French war-steamer "L'Aigle." As "L'Aigle" steamed slowly into the crowded port, all the bands played, -

  "Partant pour la Syrie, 
   Le brave et jeune Dunois,"

the air of which had been composed by Queen Hortense, the mother of the emperor, so that it was dignified during his reign into a national air.

That afternoon there was a religious ceremony, which all the crowned heads and other great personages were expected to attend. Two of the sovereigns or heirs-apparent present were Roman Catholics, one was a Protestant, and one a Mohammedan. The Crescent and the Cross for the first time overshadowed worshippers joining in one common prayer. The empress appeared, leaning on the arm of the Emperor of Austria. She wore a short pale gray silk, with deep white Brussels lace arranged in paniers and flounces. Her hat and veil were black, and round her throat was a black velvet ribbon. The Mohammedan pontiff who officiated on the occasion was understood to be a man of extraordinary sanctity, brought from a great distance to lend solemnity to the occasion. He was followed by the chaplain of the empress, a stout, handsome Hungarian prelate named M. Bauer.[1]

[Footnote 1: Blackwood's Magazine.]

Even up to the morning of November 17, when the passage of the fleet was to be made through the canal, there were persons at Port Said who doubted if it would get through. The ships-of-war had been directed to enter the canal first, and there was to be between each ship an interval of a quarter of an hour. They were ordered to steam at the rate of five miles an hour. "L'Aigle" entered first. "La Pelouse," another French ship, had the greatest draught of water; namely, eighteen or nineteen feet.

The scenery from the Suez Canal was not interesting. Lakes, then undrained, stretched upon either side; the banks of the canal being the only land visible. But as evening fell, and the sun sank, a rich purple light, with its warm tones, overspread everything, until the moon rose, touching the waters with her silvery sheen. Before this, however, the foremost ships in the procession had safely reached Ismailia. There the khedive had erected a new palace in which to review his guests. They numbered about six thousand, and the behavior of many of them did little credit to civilization.

The khedive had arranged an exhibition of Arab horsemanship and of throwing the Jereed; but the sand was so deep that the horses could not show themselves to advantage. The empress, wearing a large leghorn hat and yellow veil, rode on a camel; and when an Italian in the crowd shouted to her roughly, "Lean back, or you will fall off, heels over head," the graceful dignity with which she smiled, and accepted the advice, won the hearts of all beholders.

That night a great ball was given by the khedive in his new palace. "It was impossible," says an English gentleman, "to overrate the gracious influence of the empress's presence. The occasion, great as it was, would have lost its romance if she had not been there. She it was who raised the spirit of chivalry, subdued the spirit of strife, enmity, and intrigue among rival men, and over commerce, science, and avarice spread the gauzy hues of poetry."

Alas! poor empress. Ten months later, she was hurrying as a fugitive on board an English yacht on her way into exile, having passed through anxieties and griefs that had streaked her hair with gray. Even in the midst of her personal triumphs in the East, there were clouds on the horizon of her life which she could see darkening and increasing. A few days before the fetes of the opening of the canal, she writes to her husband, who, though unfit for exertion, had gone into Paris on some state occasion, -

"I was very anxious about you yesterday, thinking of you in Paris without me; but I see by your telegram that everything passed off well. When we observe other nations, we can better perceive the injustice of our own. I think, however, in spite of all, that you must not be discouraged, but continue in the course you have inaugurated. It is right to keep faith touching concessions that have been granted. I hope that your speech to the Chamber will be in this spirit. The more strength may be wanted in the future, the more important it is to prove to the country that we act upon ideas, and not only on expedients. I speak thus while far away, and ignorant of what has passed since my departure, but I am thoroughly convinced that strength lies in the orderly sequence of ideas. I do not like surprises, and I am persuaded that acoup d'etat cannot be made twice in one reign. I am talking in the dark, and to one already of my opinion, and who knows more than I can know; but I must say something, if only to prove, what you know, that my heart is with you both, and that if in calm days my spirit loves to roam in space, it is with you both I love to be in times of care or trouble."