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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 278



272 THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. [X. other hand, it showed how easily force and fraud could remove the ancient landmarks of territorial right. It was, therefore, a two-edged experiment, and no doubt it cut the hands of all the intermeddling powers. As the vindication of American liberties made a precedent for the ideas of the 1 French Revolution, the partition of Poland pointed to the reconstruction of the map of Europe ; the destruction of that kingdom was a precedent for the destruction of any kingdom ; the extinction of that nationality aroused a sympathy, awakened an idea of the importance of nationality as a reconstituting idea in reformed society. Well, the French Revolution set at liberty all the disruptive influences that existed in the weakly governed states of the continent, and roused to a somewhat rash, hurried, and incautious hostility the instincts of the strongly governed but ill-prepared powers like Prussia, Austria, Russia, and England. And the first attempts at a propaganda of liberty, and the first attempts at a propaganda of nationality, were marked by great excesses and great mistakes : excesses and mistakes so potential that the propaganda of the two influences together determined, in the Napoleonic empire, the tyranny and glory of France and the privilege of all nations to acknowledge and toil under the shadow of her supremacy. Liberties were enunciated in fulsome language, nationalities were carved out with amusing caprice ; but glory and victory were the real aim ; force exerted itself as strongly under Napoleon as under Peter the Great and Frederick the Great and Lewis the Great. By and by came the recoil. Napoleon was humbled ; the map of Europe was reformed on a plan which showed a respect for territorial rights, and a just recognition both of the earnings of force and of the growth of ideas. But the end was not yet; liberty, though recognised, was distrusted; nationality, though allowed some weight, was everywhere set beneath territorial right and


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