(The Irish Citizen, July 23, 1870.)
Everybody is taking part in the grand struggle. We take part instantly, frankly and zealously – for France.
France has here the just cause. Everyone who has read the history of the false House of Hohenzollern, whether in the pages of their partisan Carlyle or anywhere else, must have got an idea of the insatiable ambition and utterly desperate treachery of that royal house. No family of professional burglars- the burglar father training up the burglar son – has ever been so unrelentingly bent upon living on the plunder of others, and coming by that plunder through all possible and conceivable lies, frauds, and violence, as this brood of the Hohenzollern.
The creator of Prussia as a great military power was, of course, the “Great” Frederick; and the “Great” Frederick was one of the smallest and meanest of human creatures. He formed, however, and settled the characteristic national policy of that kingdom; and the kingdom has retained his impress ever since. The Prussian policy is to prepare very actively, in secret, for some unjustifiable aggression, to affect friendship till the last moment, to employ military and engineering spies on an immense scale, to affect innocence and unconsciousness if taxed with these tricks; and at last, when the moment has arrived, to burst in with overwhelming force. So the “Great” Frederick won Silesia; so the present William broke into Bohemia and won Sadowa; and just so the present King intended to surprise Napoleon, and probably to be at the gates of Paris before the Emperor should be quite wide awake.
Nothing could exceed the innocent surprise of this fine old Prussian gentleman, King William, at the wild idea that he had anything to do with putting forward his interesting young relative, Prince Leopold, for the Crown of Spain. He was especially surprised, this worthy old man, at the charge of preparing in secret an army and navy, and garrisoning points that he had no right to – thereby preparing for the customary felon spring of Prussia. But, in fact, the fine old King and his astute Minister were both in the hands of their master this time. The Emperor of the French understood them from the first and fully appreciated the astounding insolence of these Berlin Hohenzollerns in assuming that they could establish a hegemony not only over Germany but over all Europe.
That battle of Sadowa was certainly a lucky hit; it intimidated Baden and overwhelmed Saxony and Hanover; but France was another kind of customer; and when bluff old King William, counselled by his evil genius, Bismarck, at length allowed his young cousin and subject and commissioned officer, Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern, to be proposed as a candidate for the Crown of Spain, the King and his Minister knew it was a casus belli, they intended it for a casus belli, puffed up as they both were by their Sadowa victory. It is utterly impossible to believe that they flattered themselves France would suffer a Prussian King on the Pyrenees as well as another on the Rhine. Therefore, Bismarck and King William must have meant war. And they have got it.