traditional sentiment behind him. His security depends upon personal prestige, and that prestige upon sensational effects which must follow one another in rather rapid succession to remain fresh and satisfactory to the ambition, or the pride, or, if you will, the vanity of the people—especially to such a people as the French.
“Now, Louis Napoleon has lost much of his prestige by two things—the Mexican adventure, which was an astounding blunder, a fantastic folly on his part; and then by permitting Prussia to become so great without obtaining some sort of ‘compensation’ in the way of an acquisition of territory that might have been made to appear to the French people as a brilliant achievement of his diplomacy. It was well known that he wanted such a compensation, and tried for it, and was manœuvered out of it by me without his knowledge of what was happening to him. He is well aware that thus he has lost much of his prestige, more than he can afford, and that such a loss, unless soon repaired, may become dangerous to his tenure as emperor. He will, therefore, as soon as he thinks that his army is in good fighting condition, again make an effort to recover that prestige which is so vital to him, by using some pretext 372 for picking a quarrel with us. I do not think he is personally eager for that war, I think he would rather avoid it, but the precariousness of his situation will drive him to it. My calculation is that the crisis will come in about two years. We have to be ready, of course, and we are. We shall win, and the result will be just the contrary of what Napoleon aims at—the total unification of Germany outside of Austria, and probably Napoleon’s downfall.”