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nitions of public opinion are insufficient to satisfy it. Why is this?
When a system of concession is adopted, because a system of repression is found unavailing-when such is the case
-when a government conciliates because it cannot coerce, it should not merely yield to what is demanded, it should go beyond what is expected; the applause which it thus surprises from the people becomes a barrier against future opposition ; it obtains the credit, not of submitting from weakness, but of acting from opinion; it environs itself with the double charm of power and popularity, and by appearing to to do more than concede, it acquires strength to resist.
And now one word as to the folly of an intempestive course of repression. In what direction did the nation march during the reign of M. de Villèle ? Mark ! Men the most moderate-men who, like M. Villemain, had formerly supported--men who, like M. Decazes, had formerly proposed the censure--were now far in advance, not of the administration that had gone by, not of the administration of M. de Villèle, but of the liberal administration that had succeeded, of the administration of M. de Martignac; nor could the king or his administration oppose themselves to the unanimous cry which demanded the ordonnances of June against the Jesuits.*
The new minister, embarrassed by the nation on one side, by the court and a strong party in the two houses on the other; alive to his difficulties, uncertain perhaps in his course, was still not insensible to the feelings that were abroad, nor to the only career which the monarchy had to run. Prevented by the circumstances that surrounded him from being more liberal than he was, he was fully aware of the peril of being less sv; and one of the most remarkable acts of his administration was the “mémoire" presented to the king in 1828, and concluding with these singularly prophetic words :
* The principal part of these ordonnances was that which declared that no person thenceforward could remain charged with any office of instruction in any of the places of education dependant on the university, or in any of the secondary ecclesiastical schools, if he did not affirm in writing that he did not belong to any religious congregation not legally established in France.
“ Insensate must they be who would advise your majesty to a dissolution of the Chamber. The electoral colleges would only return a more powerful and compact majority, who as their first act would declare the sovereignty of parliament. Then there would remain to your majesty but one of these two alternatives ; either that of bowing your august head before the Chamber, or of recurring to the unconstitutional power for ever alienated by the charta-a power which, if evoked, could only be evoked once for the purpose of plunging France into new revolutions, amid which would disappear the crown of St. Louis."
Every thing which occurred in the two administrations that succeeded M. de Villèle's is to be accounted for by the condition in which, as I have stated, that minister left the crown. Legal severity had then been tried to the utmost ; a feebleness beneath the law, or a violence beyond it, were the two alternatives that remained. The ministry of M. Martignac represented the one, as the ministry of M. de Polignac represented the other. The king and the people alike looked upon the Martignac ministry as a transition. They each saw that that ministry could not stand, and that something must follow which would decide the long struggle of sixteen years, either by destroying the charta, or by proclaiming that it was the right of the nation, and not the gift of the king:
It is difficult to say whether the state of the country and of parties was such, that there could at this time have been made any concessions that would have kept the dynasty and the constitution the same. A feeling of hatred to the elder race of the Bourbon family had grown up among all classes and provinces of the kingdom. There was not, perhaps, a wide extended conspiracy against them ; but there was a firm belief and conviction that they could not endure. I remember a conversation that I had, in the year 1828, with one of
the most intelligent
- doctrinaires” of the present Chamber. I remember that conversation forming the subject of a letter to Sir Brook Taylor then at Berlin; and if he recollects, or has ever referred to that letter, he will remember that almost every thing was then predicted that since arrived, with this difference, that ten years were given to the development of events which two years decided. When a revolution has commenced its march, its steps are not to be numbered.
Monsieur de Martignac himself shared the general conviction, and thus expressed himself to a friend, who repeated the remark to me :
“ We do all that we can ; but all that we can do is to conduct the monarchy down stairs, whereas it would otherwise be thrown out of the window."
However this might be, the only chance which the monarchy then had was by conceding to the popular voice in names, and thus to avoid or diminish the necessity of doing so too violently in things. A country, when it knows and approves of the general principles and opinions of a minister, will allow him a certain latitude in following those opinions out. The mere appointment of Lord Chatham appeased, in his time, the popular discontent; the mere appointment of Mr. Canning quieted, in his time, the agitation of the Catholic claims.
Change in the form of a government ceases very frequently to be demanded when we feeb sure that the spirit animating the government is good. The nomination of the popular man lulls suspicion, as the nomination of the unpopular one awakens it. A change of men, from unpopular to popular ones, is in fact the only, the ordinary, and the reasonable resource which a representative government affords for its duration ; and the cant, and nearly always hollow and perfidious cry of“ measures and not men,” merely shows, where it is sincere, a double ignorance of human nature and affairs. Many acts of a government it is almost impossible for any person out of the government to know ; an administration with popular appearances may be taking a subterraneous road to arbitrary power: if the general principles which a man has hitherto professed are hostile to your notions of right, and on his becoming a minister he seems to act in a manner favourable to your opinions, you are bound to mistrust him, for it is more likely that he is false to you than that he is false to himself. The statesman who, after a long political course, tells you suddenly that he means to sail on a new tack, is to be looked upon as a “Coster” in politics--a swindler the more dangerous, for the smiling candour of his address. This is the sober way of viewing things; and this is the way which the public, with its broad and plain common sense, usually views them. Mark the example! M. de Polignac comes into office; the first act of the minister, dreaded for his Jesuitism, is the abolition of the unpopular office of " minister of religion,”- the king speaks of prosperous finances—the minister announces administrative amendments* and economical concessions.
But, afar from these favours and promises of amelioration, severe and stern, with folded arms and knit brow, the great body of the nation stood aloof, full in front of the throne and its proud prerogatives : stood, I say, the people, firm against compromise ; imbodying all their feelings in one opinion; expressing them all in one remonstrance; replying to every argument of the government by one sentence:-“ Remove the minister!”
They listened to no other concession; they demanded no other compliance; for to an unpopular principle there is a definite and prescribed resistance, but to an unpopular person there is none—there are no bounds to suspicion, no bounds to fear, no bounds to hatred : and the name of M. de Polignac gathered round it, and attracted into a focus, as it were, all the hostile, and angry, and dangerous feelings, that, differing one from the other, various and dispersed, were burning in the hearts of men, and which, in order to be irresistible, only wanted to be concentred.
* Some in the Diplomacy were particularly good.
Not a lip throughout the country that did not murmur in echo to that eloquent and terrible denunciation, “ Malheureuse France ! Malheureux Roi !"* and Lafayette, the old banner of republican feeling, was brought out once more amid popular acclamations ; and the press that had fallen into temporary oblivion during the better days of Martignac, lifted up its masculine voice, and felt the majesty of a new mission ; while the nation's representatives expressed their “ solemn sorrow," and the nation itself quietly and publicly organized a resistance to any system of government contrary to “the national rights,” and, let me add, to “ the national will.” Such was the awful aspect of those things in presence of which the king's ministry had to deliberate, when their maintenance in office was the king's decision. Seated on his throne, environed by all the pride and circumstance of royal superstition, Charles X. had (on the 2d of March, 1830) pronounced, with the studied accentuation of a theatrical display, his last address to the peers and representatives of France ; to that address the famous majority of two hundred and twenty-one had made their historical response,t while the monarch, with a fatal firmness, declared that the choice which alarmed his people was the revocable resolution of the crown. There was a long controversy in the cabinet. The government, however, could have but one course to pursue : a dissolution was the first step: on the second Chamber being as unfavourable as the one preceding it, and that it was so soon appeared, either the decision pronounced irrevocable was to be revoked, or an appeal to the people be succeeded by an appeal to the sword.
For some time prior to July there hung upon the public mind a heavy cloud, which, with the fatal inspiration of calamitous times, every one felt to be charged with the dread burden of great events. The mysterious stillness which brooded over the royal
* Words of a celebrated article published at the time in the Journal des Débats. + See Appendix.