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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83


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Such is the title of the latest contribution by General Lebrun, who was engaged at Sedan, to the history of that disaster. Generals De Wimpffen and Ducrot wrote their several versions. The German view is embodied in the history by the general staff edited, if not written, by Von Moltke. When M'Mahon was wounded at Sedan, the command devolved upon Ducrot, as next in seniority, and he held it for an hour and a half, when De Wimpffen, who had just arrived from Algeria, produced a memorandum from the Minister of War, Palikao, appointing him to the command in case of anything happening to M'Mahon. Thus, at this awfully critical juncture, the French army had three Generals-in-Chief within two hours, which may afford a commentary on Lincoln's saying—"Never swap horses while crossing a stream."

It is curious that the war maps, published at the outset of the contest, gave Germany as the arena. The French were to march towards Berlin, however they might be arrested. The Prussian Army, after mobilisation, hung awaiting the onslaught, and then plunged forward in its three divisions. The Crown Prince drove in the French at Wissembourg, and M'Mahon was routed at Worth. Almost concurrently Frossard and De Failly suffered at Forbach and Spicheren. Moltke thenceforward proceeded with the regularity of a problem in Euclid.

M'Mahon retired upon Chalons, where he was reinforced by Canrobert. The whole French army might then be roughly described as divided into two—one part under Bazaine, and the other under M'Mahon. Affairs were so serious that the Minister of War was urged to retire M'Mahon's force, of 100,000 men, upon Paris, and of course it would have spoilt the siege which followed. The Administration judged that this would be too great a confession of weakness, and possibly cause the downfall of the Empire so they directed M'Mahon to go to the relief of Bazaine, then getting beleagured at Metz.

The position of the game did not allow of M'Mahon driving straight from Chalons to Metz. His army had to travel in an acute angle north to Montmedy, and down again to Metz. About the apex of the angle he fell into the clutches of the Prussians; and Sedan, the birthplace of Turenne, became the worst blot on the map of France.

Books like General Lebrun's are powerful aids to the Republic. It is another cairn to the memory of Gambetta, and this reminds us that the Government has just determined on the erection of a splendid monument to that statesman. It will probably be situated near the Louvre. The prize design, which has been page 41 accepted, is a striking triumph of the combined genius of the sculptor and the architect.

A Frenchman has said, "Every foreigner has two countries—his own and France." Indeed Paris is the huge Coliseum around which the nations have sat in wonder. We approach the centenary of the Great Revolution, the most remarkable and encouraging event in history. Its crimes were a revenge on the aristocrats who had made Europe an area of murder plots of throne, with scent of war and scaffolds everywhere. Three or four hundred were punished for the murder of millions.

The Republic is the only government possible in France. The Revolution laid a basis of rock, upon which the two Empires and the three Kingships were fragile tenements. They came down with a run when the winds blew, and the floods rushed. The Count of Paris knows this.