IN 1849, the year of the “spring of nations,” a peace congress took place in Paris. The main address given by Victor Hugo, the most famous author of the time, announced that
A day will come when you, France—you, Russia—you, Italy—you, England—you, Germany—all of you, nations of the Continent, will, without losing your distinctive qualities and your glorious individuality, be blended into a superior unity, and constitute an European fraternity. . . . A day will come when bullets and bombshells will be replaced by votes, by the universal suffrage of nations, by the venerable arbitration of a great Sovereign Senate, which will be to Europe what the Parliament is to England, what the Diet is to Germany, what the Legislative Assembly is to France.
One hundred sixty years have passed since this noble vision was enounced; a European parliament of sorts has come into being, but not exactly a European brotherhood, and one suspects that Victor Hugo would still not be too happy with the present state of the Continent.