France under Richelieu-Under Bonaparte-Now-Military spirit of each epoch-The camp has entered into the city-The duel of the Duc de Beaufort and of the Editor of the "National"-The union between the sword and the tribune impossible in England, may be possible in France-The people who mourned Foy, Lamarque, Lafayette, mourned a type of themselves.

On a height which overlooked the plains of Rousillon,* * and which commanded the dark ramparts of the city he was besieging-a cuirass on his breast-his bald head, the scene and centre of so many plans, great and terrible, covered with the red cap of the church-stood the Cardinal—profound minister, astute favourite, great captain. All eyes were fixed on him, and he could be seen everywhere; and near him were the generals and the grand seigneurs of the monarchy, grand seigneurs whom he had made courtiers, and around him the chivalry and nobility of France. Never did a more loyal troop follow their sovereign than that which galloped after King Louis, when, the eye bright, and the hand firm, he forgot the reveries of Chambord on the plains of Perpignan. Many and brave cavaliers were there. When was the oriflamme unfurled in olden times, and that a brilliant army was not ready to follow the white pennon? Yet, the army of France under Richelieu was not France. The priest who humbled the aristocracy had not ventured to open its honours to the nation.

Twenty-one years ago, in that palace which has since known more than one master, you might have seen a man, at once a prey to his ambitious follies and his reasonable fears--with the brow bent and the lip

* See the eloquent romance of Cinq-Mars.

curled--now pacing his chamber for hours-now stretched for a day together, in still and mute concentration of thought, over immense maps, to which his conquests had given a new surface-nervous, restless, agitated, as he said, by a destiny not yet accomplished -you might have seen that mysterious man, whose sword had already decided the fate of empires, meditating, almost in spite of himself, the scheme of a new conquest--of a conquest cast in the gigantic mould of his own genius, and which was to submit the oldest dynasties of Europe to the sway of an empire hardly yet seen rising from its foundations. Lo! he wakes from his stupor. "Vive la France! vive la grande armée !" sounds in his ear. And hark to the tramp of soldiers, and the beating of drums! and already along the road to Germany, behold the triumphal arches--which should have been reserved for his return! And now may you see those stern and martial men, accustomed to the reception of conquerors--the head high, the step firm, the eye determined, the lip compressed. Now may you see those men--men of execution--men who only live in the hazards of adventurous action, brandishing their arms with a ferocious gayety, and waiting in fixed devotion the commands of a chief, whose star has never yet paled on the field of battle.

Such was the army of France under Napoleon; but the army of France under Napoleon was not the nation of France. Bonaparte reigned in an immense camp, which was guarded from the approach of the people.

"La France n'est qu'un soldat," said M. de Chateaubriand, in the first of those eloquent pamphlets which showed that his genius was not on the decline. Yes, the army of France is now the nation of France; but the nation of France is more than an army. France is not only a soldier-France is more than a soldier. But do not expect that you can at once sweep away the effects of centuries! Do not expect that you can make a nation of warriors, by the scratch of a pen, a


nation of legislators-rather expect that you will give to legislation the manners of war; that, instead of transporting the city into the camp, you will transport the camp into the city. The ideas of the one will blend themselves with the institutions of the other. The feelings which Francis carried to Pavia, and which made Bonaparte refuse the peace of Chatillon-the feelings which the grand seigneur carried to Fontenoy, and the republican soldier to Marengo,-these feelings you may expect to find in the cabinet of the poet, the deputy, and the journalist of the present day. The poet will fight for his verses, the grave constitutional senator for his opinions; and the time was when we might have seen B. Constant himself-his long white hair flowing loosely over his benevolent countenance, seated calmly on a chair-a crutch in one hand, a pistol in the other, and—an enemy at twelve paces.

Do not laugh at this, reader, because it would be ridiculous in England. France is not England, and never can be. Besides, the threads and cords of society are so mixed and intermingled, that it is almost impossible to trace the mysterious force which each exercises over the play of the other; and perchance it is this very military spirit which now pervades all

* There is a little book published in France, called "Almanach du Peuple," and intended to make the government popular with the people, and a parallel in two columns is drawn between the government of the Restoration and the government of July. Here I find

Sous la Restauration.

Le Gouvernement de la Restauration et les armées étrangères avaient fait abattre partout les statues de Napoléon-on faisait un crime aux vieux soldats de se souvenir de leur Empereur et des victoires de Marengo, d'Austerlitz, et de Wagram.





[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Depuis la Revolution. Louis Philippe a fait replacer la statue du grand homme sur la colonne de la Place Vendôme.

Notre armée était réduite à L'armée est aujourd'hui portée 250,000 hommes.

400,000 hommes !!!

I should like to see the government in England, that by way of making itself popular, boasted that it had doubled the army.

classes and professions of French society, and which keeps men perpetually mindful of the regard that they owe to one another—it is perchance this very military spirit which maintains order in the movement of the civil machine, shocked and deranged as it is, and as it has been; and allows a universal equality to exist, without engendering universal confusion. Be this as it may, in the various forms of society that France has yet known, that part of society governing for the moment, has always been agitated by the same spirit. Even in the times of the church, we have the old distich

"Un archevêque est amiral,
Un gros evéque est corporal;
Un prélat preside aux frontières,
Un autre a des troupes guerrières;
Un capucin pense aux combats,
Un cardinal a des soldats."

The precepts of the church did not alter the charver of the people; the character of the people carried war into the peaceful bosom of the church.*

But let us draw a parallel; it will show the genius of the French, the influences, and the manners of two times.

In 1652 the Duc de Beaufort and Duc de Nemours met behind the Hôtel de Vendôme; the Duc de Beaufort accompanied by the Comte de Barry, the Duc de Nemours by the Duc de Villars. In addition to these noblemen the princes brought each three gentlemen of their suite. They fought five to five, and the Duc de Nemours was killed.

This happened in 1652-now let us turn back to the literary quarrels of last year, and the manner in which they were settled. The Corsaire laughs at the Duchesse de Berri, and the editor of a legitimist paper calls out the editor of the Corsaire. The editor of the

* One day the Abbé Maury was followed and insulted by the mob on coming out of the Assembly. One man came up to him and said Maury, veux-tu que j'aille te servir la messe?"—"Oui,” replied Maury, showing two pocket-pistols-" Viens, voila mes burettes."

[ocr errors]

Corsaire is wounded; but, though his hand is disabled, the colour of his ink is not altered, and he very fairly says that he will have his joke for his wound. The duchesse is still laughed at as much as before.

"That will not do," says the legitimist, and he calls out the satirist again; but the latter shakes his head this time, and shows his arm in a sling. "He can't always be fighting."-" Ho! ho!" says M. Carrel, the warlike editor of the National, whose semicolons almost look like inverted swords; "does anybody want to fight?""We! we!" the National, and the editors of the National, "we will fight as much as you please." A challenge is immediately sent by a gentleman, and a journalist, whose name I forget; but in the mean time, the editors of the liberal papers had had a consultation together, and agreed that if one fought all should fight, and that there should be a pitched battle of five on a side.*

Well, what is the difference between the two combats-the journalists five on a side, and the great noblemen five on a side-except that the one were journalists and the others great noblemen? But the journal of to-day answers to the great nobleman of ancient time. We'll take the "National" for the Duc de Beaufort, for instance. The "National" has its three gentlemen attached to it now, as the Duc de Beaufort had his three gentlemen formerly attached to him.

The gentlemen who write for these papers answer -do not they?-to the gentlemen who were attached to the houses of these grand seigneurs!—the great families of France-its great fortunes--are gone. The whole power of government and of society is

* When the gentleman commissioned to carry a hostile message to M. Carrel made his appearance, he was informed of this resolution, "but," said M. C. "there is no rule without its exception. I will be the exception, and fight your friend, sir, as a particular favour to-morrow morning." They fought and wounded one another severely. But the great battle was still to have taken place, and it was by an accident that we lost the spectacle of ten gentlemen of the press stripped to their shirts, and sword in hand, thrusting quart and tierce up to their knees in snow, in a quarrel respecting the virtue of the Duchesse de Berri.

« VorigeDoorgaan »