Croly’s Life of George IV.; Thackeray’s
Four Georges; Annual Register;
Life of the Duke of Wellington; Life of Canning; Life of Lord Liverpool;
Life of Lord Brougham; Miss Martineau’s History of England; Life of
Mackintosh; Life of Sir Robert Peel; Alison’s History of Europe; Life of
Lord Eldon; Life of O’Connell; Molesworth’s History of England.
When Napoleon was sent to St. Helena, the European nations breathed more freely, and it was the general expectation and desire that there would be no more wars. The civilized world was weary of strife and battlefields, and in the reaction which followed the general peace of 1815, the various States settled down into a state of dreamy repose. Not only were they weary of war, but they hated the agitation of those ideas which led to discontent and revolution. The policy of the governments of England, France, Germany, and Russia was pacific and conservative. There was a universal desire to recover wasted energies and develop national resources. Visions of military glory passed away for a time with the enjoyment of peace. Nations reflected on their follies, and resolved to beat their swords into ploughshares.
Then began a period of philanthropy as well as of rest and reaction. Societies were organized, especially in England, to spread the Bible in all lands, to send missionaries to the heathen, and proclaim peace and good-will to all mankind, A new era seemed to dawn upon the world, marked by a desire to cultivate the arts, sciences, and literature; to develop industries, and improve social conditions. War was seen to be barbaric, demoralizing, and exhausting. Peace was hailed with an enthusiasm scarcely less than that which for twenty years had created military heroes. The Holy Alliance was not hypocritical. Although a political compact made under a religious pretext, it was formed by monarchs deeply impressed by the horrors of war, and by the necessity of establishing a new basis for the happiness of mankind on the principles of Christianity, when peace should be the law of nations; at the same time it was formed no less to suppress those ideas which it was supposed led logically to rebellions and revolutions, and to disturb the reign of law, the security of established institutions, and the peaceful pursuit of ordinary avocations. This was the view taken by the Czar Alexander, by Frederick William of Prussia, by Francis I. of Austria, by Louis XVIII. of France, as well as by leading statesmen like Talleyrand, Nesselrode, Hardenberg, Chateaubriand, Metternich, Wellington, and Castlereagh.
But these views were delusive. The world was simply weary of fighting; it was not impressed with a sense of the wickedness, but only of the inexpediency of war, except in case of great national dangers, or to gain what is dearest to enlightened people,—personal liberty and constitutional government.