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OF

OUR OWN TIME S.

BY

THE AUTHOR OF

“ THE COURT AND TIMES OF FREDERICK THE GREAT."

[

VOL. I.

LONDON:

HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER,

GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.

1843.
15.1.1

LONDON : F. SHOBERL, JUN., 51, RUPERT STREET, HAYMARRET,

PRINTER TO H. R. H. PRINCE ALBERT.

PREFACE.

It may be affirmed, without fear of contradiction, that, if we were to search through the whole range of History, we should not find in any period of equal duration so many extraordinary, nay, astounding events as have crowded together in the compass of the last half century, to which the designation of “Our Own Times” is here applied.

It opens with the spectacle of a nation rousing from the lethargy of ages, and reclaiming the rights of which it had been despoiled ; of a people reputed the most polished and the most elegant in Europe imbued all at once with a fierce, sanguinary, and inhuman spirit ; trampling upon institutions which antiquity had hallowed, and education taught them to revere ; of a revolution which, after sacrificing the reigning family in France, and covering the face of that fine country with blood and ruins, enabled a fortunate military adventurer not only to usurp the sovereignty there, but to establish his sway over nearly the whole of the Continent, by a sacrifice of human life which almost defies calculation; and ended in the return of the proscribed Bourbons to the throne of their ancestors.

It exhibits that same nation, though rent by internal factions and feuds, successfully vindicating its newlyacquired liberties against foreign invaders, whom its rulers, it is true, had most wantonly provoked, and the long train of triumphs won by it over all its continental enemies, till the overweening ambition of the conqueror who had yoked it to his car and dazzled it with the glare of false glory produced his own downfall and its humiliation.

It presents, in the cases of Russia and Spain, an animating picture of what national energies, excited by unjust aggression, are capable of accomplishing; and it shows us, in another hemisphere, vast regions breaking the shackles of the mother-state, and, after desperate struggles, successively achieving their independence.

The emancipation of Greece from Turkish thraldom, through the interference of the great Christian powers; the daring but less fortunate insurrection of the Poles; the transfer of the crown of France to a new branch of the house of Bourbon ; the erection of a throne in Belgium ; and the civil wars in the two divisions of the Spanish Peninsula, kindled by pretenders to their respective crowns, and stained with barbarian cruelty, form more recent features in this great moving drama.

And what shall we say of the commanding attitude assumed and maintained by our own country during this wonderful period! What shall we say of Britain, standing proud and pre-eminent among the nations, as the only one whose hearths and homes were not profaned by the foot of the invader; whose blood and

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