Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Benefits to Germany from French Invasions
By Alfred Rambaud (1842–1905)
From ‘Germany under Napoleon, 1804–1811’

THE GERMANS complain of the harm we have done them in the wars, almost always defensive, which our kings carried on against the ambition of Austria. Who could calculate the harm done to us by their princes, when in 1791 they turned France from her task of reorganization; when they stirred up hatred between our working classes and our nobility, between the Assembly and Royalty; when they caused the Revolution to end in the Terror? Afterwards, even if the Emperor, the King of Prussia, and the Ecclesiastic Electors did declare war, the people called and welcomed us. After a glorious defensive war, we were able to wage the most humane, the most beneficial of propagating wars…. Even under Napoleon I., French intervention in Germany was essentially different from German invasion of France: the former brought with it the elements of progress. Thus it may be said that in all times, and under every form of government, we have done more good than harm to the Germans; and a Prussian empire, founded on a so-called right of revenge of Germany against us, is based on injustice and falsehood….  1
  It is strange that Germany should accept from Prussia, along with new laws, its opinions ready-made…. What magic spell has its new masters used to make Germany forget history?… Before the Revolution there was no trace of hatred between France and Germany; and that is why the wars of the Revolution were none of them a war of races. All western Germany accepted French influence willingly. Our language was written and spoken there, our literary traditions and our fashions were followed with even too much docility. Frenchmen were enticed to dwell there; but not always chosen with sufficient discernment, so that adventurers by whom the Germans were duped gave a sorry idea of our nation. On the other hand, the feeling of hostility against England dates very far back. It is that nation which, from the first, made us understand what a foreigner was, and by trampling on France revealed her to herself….  2
  Large German States owe their prosperity to French political and religious refugees. Nor was the influx less from Germany into France. Princes came as pilgrims to the shrine of Versailles to admire and worship the kingliest King; to Paris, where they found the greatest number of men of genius and of sharpers, the wittiest ladies, and the lightest women. There came those who wished to serve in the army; like Maurice of Saxe, the victor of Fontenoy, and the Count of Löwendal, the victor of Berg-op-Zoom. The Rhenish provinces were but a continuation of France beyond the frontier; their sons fought under French colors: war and hate were not between the peoples, they were the business of the governments. Men were cosmopolitan, citizens of the world, rather than French, German, or Prussian.  3
  The Revolution of 1803 in Germany was relatively as radical as the French Revolution. The German people looked on it with indifference, neither rejoicing nor grieving at the fall of its past; because there was a great difference between the two revolutions. The sacrifices exacted from the privileged classes of France had served to found the unity of a great people, had brought liberty into the State and equality among the citizens. In Germany no such advantages had been obtained. The French had despoiled themselves for the grandeur of their country; in Germany for some great or petty sovereign, often more a princeling than a prince.  4
  It was not as an enemy but as an Emperor that Napoleon was received. Princes and people crowded to see the small lank-haired man, so unlike the legendary Charlemagne, whose sallow complexion, sinister unfathomable glance, and Roman features, reminded them of the pagan Cæsar who had first crossed the mighty river.  5

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.