It is necessary to go back for a little in order to take a glance at the condition in which Europe was left by the Treaty of Vienna. That Treaty was agreed upon by the representatives of the European allies, and was already signed at the Congress of Vienna on the 9th of June, 1815. When the fall of Napoleon took place the Allied Powers had therefore little more to do than to proceed to put in action the general principles which were laid down by the Treaty of Vienna and by some previous agreements, and to settle the affairs of Europe according to their own convenience and good pleasure. There were other treaties and agreements also, which were found necessary to apply in various countries, in order to carry out the general arrangement. But we may, for the sake of clearness of expression, take it that the Treaty of Vienna made the grand settlement of European affairs after the fall of the French Empire. The Continent lay then before the plenipotentiaries of the great Powers like a corpse on the dissecting table, to adopt an expressive phrase, which was used much more lately, and with regard to a different subject. At first it was intended that France should be shut out from consultation or share in the new arrangement; but the ingenuity, the subtlety, the persuasiveness, and the perseverance of Talleyrand, the French statesman, succeeded in prevailing on the representatives of the great victorious Powers to allow France some voice in the settlement wherein her national interests were so profoundly concerned. The name of Talleyrand is one of the three great names which will always belong to the history of the French Revolution, the other two being those of Mirabeau and Napoleon. European statesmanship, up to that time, took no account of the feelings or wishes of nationalities and populations when coming to a settlement after a victorious war. When a party of gamesters have finished their night of play they simply count up the gains and losses and allocate the coins on the table. It naturally does not occur to them to consider whether the gold and silver pieces themselves have any feeling in the matter, and would prefer to remain with this player or to be handed over to that other. The statesmen assembled at the Congress of Vienna concerned themselves just as little about the sentiments and the predilections of the populations with whom they had to deal. Paris was at this time occupied by the soldiers of England and of Prussia. Louis XVIII., as it was agreed that he should be called, was put on his ancestral throne. The understanding was that the Bourbon monarchy was established for ever, and that there was an end for all time of any dream of Republic in France.
Napoleon surrendered himself to the captain of an English ship of war, and it is a curious fact well worth remembering that he was received with much cheering by a crowd of Englishmen on the quays of an English port, who had become aware of the great captive's identity. Napoleon was sent off to the Island of St. Helena, where he languished for a few years more, and meantime the work of European reconstruction went on. The Rhenish provinces were bestowed on Prussia, a rich gift, not, it must be owned, altogether unwisely bestowed. The Rhenish provinces were for the most part Catholic by religion, but the Prussian Government has never gone out of its way to intermeddle with the religious faith of its populations, and the provinces soon amalgamated thoroughly in national spirit with the general population of Prussia. The Prussian Government had even the good sense to leave the Code Napoleon where they found it in territories once occupied by France. Holland and Belgium were made into one Kingdom, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, under the rule of the House of Orange. This arrangement only held together for a very few years, and Holland and Belgium were enabled to effect a separation, mainly by the help of France, and each set up as a kingdom for itself. The difficulty which had stood so much in the way of the great Orange statesman, William the Silent - the difficulty of keeping Hollanders and Belgians together - was not likely to be got over by the decree of a number of statesmen recasting Europe at the Congress of Vienna. Prussia had been stripped of a vast portion of her territories by the Napoleonic conquests, and the statesmen of Vienna restored all the plunder to the Prussian dynasty. It did even more than that - it handed over to Prussia one-half of Saxony, and it gave her also a large portion of the old Duchy of Warsaw, the territory which we now call Prussian Poland. The greater part of Poland was handed over to Russia.
Austria was endowed with the kingdom of Lombardy and Venice, and within less than half a century Austria, after tremendous losses in war, was compelled by the intervention of another Napoleon to disgorge part of her ill-gotten possessions, and thus allow Lombardy to open the way for a new kingdom of Italy. Genoa was annexed to Sardinia; the States of the Church were restored; and Naples and Sicily were handed back to the old Bourbon rulers. Russia and Austria came out of the transaction with the largest spoils, Prussia, for the most part, recovering only what she had held before the great war with France. England, to do her justice, sought for little or nothing, and obtained little or nothing by the arrangements of the Congress of Vienna. She had borne the heaviest and costliest part of the work; her navies on the ocean had defeated Napoleon at the very zenith of his power, and she had only her glory as a reward : let it be owned that the glory of English arms was never made more splendidly manifest than it was on the seas under Nelson and his comrades in battle. Few of the novelties set up by the Congress of Vienna held very long together. Austria had to go through a most troublous career - to surrender Lombardy to French arms and Venetia to the arms of Prussia and of Sardinia. Prussia drove Austria, after seven weeks' war, out of the Germanic federation altogether. The elder branch of the Bourbons was ejected from the throne of France; the younger branch which succeeded only held that throne for eighteen years; then there was another French Republic, followed by another French Empire, which itself fell under the conquering hand of Prussia, and now once more a Republic prevails in France. The whole war against Napoleon was undertaken avowedly with the object of restoring the principle of legitimate monarchy to its old place in France, and rooting out for ever the growth of democracy and republicanism. Little more than half a century had passed before a Republic was again set up by the French people, and there does not now seem the slightest chance, come what else there may, of a Bourbon or an Orleans sovereign being thought of again by France.