Beacon Lights of History, Volume 09 eBook

John Lord
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 265 pages of information about Beacon Lights of History, Volume 09.

“I feel this misfortune most deeply.  I have lost everything for the remainder of my days.  The other world is daily more and more peopled with beings to whom I am united by the closest ties of affection.  I too shall take my place there, and I shall disengage myself from this life with all the less regret.  My only relief is in work.  I am at my desk by nine in the morning.  I leave it at five, and return to it at half-past six, and work till half-past ten, when I receive visitors till midnight.”

Time, however, brought its relief, and in 1831 he married the Princess Melanie, and his third marriage was as happy as the others appear to have been.  In the diary of this wife, December 31, I read:—­

“We supped at midnight, and exchanged good wishes for the new year.  May God long preserve to me my good, kind Clement, and illuminate him with His divine light.  It touches me to see the pleasure it gives him to talk with me on business, and read to me what he writes.”

Such was the great Austrian statesman in his private life,—­a dutiful son, a loving and devoted husband, an affectionate father, a faithful servant to his emperor, a kind master to his dependants, a courteous companion, a sincere believer in the doctrines of his church, a man conscientious in the discharge of duties, and having at heart the welfare of his country as he understood it, amid innumerable perils from foreign and domestic foes.  As a statesman he was vigilant, sagacious, experienced, and devoted to the interests of his imperial master.

But what were Metternich’s services, by which great men claim to be judged?  He could say that he was the promoter of law and order; that he kept the nation from entangling alliances with foreign powers; that he was the friend of peace, and detested war except upon necessity; that he developed industrial resources and wisely regulated finances; that he secured national prosperity for forty years after desolating wars; that he never disturbed the ordinary vocations of the people, or inflicted unnecessary punishments; and that he secured to Austria a proud pre-eminence among the nations of Europe.

But this was all.  Metternich did nothing for the higher interests of Germany.  He kept it stagnant for forty years.  He neither advanced education, nor philanthropy, nor political economy.  He was the unrelenting foe of all political reforms, and of all liberal ideas.  What we call civilization, beyond amusements and pleasures and the ordinary routine of business, owes to him nothing,—­not even codes of law, or enlightened principles of government.  Judged by his services to humanity, Metternich was not a great man.  His highest claims to greatness were in a vigorous administration of public affairs and diplomatic ability in his treatment of foreign powers, but not in far-reaching views or aims.  As a ruler he ranks no higher than Mazarin or Walpole or Castlereagh, and far below Canning, Peel, Pitt,

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Beacon Lights of History, Volume 09 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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