Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

councils rather excited than dulled expectation ; and
when the two famous ordonnances appeared, there
was nobody out of the diplomacy who had been de-
ceived. They who best know Charles X. know that
the greater part of his life had been passed in schemes
of similar catastrophes. The first victim to the events
of 1789, the long years of his exile had gone by
amid meditations on the manner in which those events
might have been averted; and with a royal confidence
in his own ability, he always imagined that he was pe-
culiarly fit for essaying those perilous shocks of for-
tune by which a crown is lost or made secure. From
the moment, then, that M. de Martignac came into
office, Charles X. had looked to the famous XIVth
Article* as the basis of a daring plan, which, if the
conciliatory plans of his minister were unsuccessful,
would release majesty in a more summary manner
from the vulgar opposition of the commons.
With more ability than is usually attributed to him,

at once, on the retreat of M. de. Villèle, the future difficulties of his situation; he saw that he should be asked for great concessions—that he might be obliged to make a great resistance. Certain concessions he was prepared to make, larger ones he was resolved to refuse. Trying the milder system first, “ Let it fail,” said Charles X., “and fail I think it will, and I will take a minister of my own choice, of my own faction, in whom I can entirely rely. I will have at my disposal the whole force of royalty. The country may possibly yield when I display that force; if not, I am determined to use it.” “ La Chambre joue un gros jeu,” said he, after receiving the address of the two hundred and twenty-one, “il pourra bien lui en cuire de blesser ainsi ma couronne !" And thus, amid a series of events which we may call fortuitous, but

he saw

* Art. 14. DE LA CHARTE.-Le roi est le chef suprême de l'état; il commande les forces de terre et de mer, déclare la guerre, fait les traités de paix, d'alliance, et de commerce, nomme à tous les emplois d'administration publique, et fait les réglemens et ordonnances nécessaires pour l'exécution des lois et la sûreté de l'état.

[ocr errors]

which were so intertwined in the great mesh of human affairs as to make one almost believe that each was the necessary consequence of the other; thus, the two principles which had once contended came again into conAict, and a new example was bequeathed to posterity of the wisdom of the philosopher who, many years previous to our first revolution, declared that “all restorations were impossible.” I acknowledge, for my own part, that the more I linger over this period of history, the more I marvel; not that “the Restoration” should have at length perished, but that it should have so long endured. A frank and honest recognition of the great principles of civil liberty, and a practical policy in accordance with those principles, must have led to the declaration and acknowledgment that the monarch held his crown from the people, and not the people their liberties from the crown. This would have been, in point of fact, the revolution,—the revolution of July. It would have separated the monarch altogether from the emigration, from the nobility, from the priesthood; it would have put down the maxim—that wise emanation of kingcraft, “ That the king had never ceased to reign.”

But in this sentence the Restoration was contained; and, let us confess the truth, without it the descendant of St. Louis and Henry IV., brought into France by foreign bayonets, had far less right than “ General Bonaparte” to the French throne.

With this sentence, then, the hereditary Restoration was unjust; with it, a large and open system of liberty was impossible. Between these two difficulties the monarchy was kept in a state of miserable fluctuation.

“ Act up to the constitution you have granted !" said one set of men. But no sooner did the sovereign prepare to do this, than he found himself at war with the principle on which that liberty was given.

“Assert and maintain the prerogative, which, after all, only gave these free concessions as a favour,” said another party : and, lo! the crown found itself in conflict with its own concessions.

Thrice a mean-way system of moderation was tried -by M. de Talleyrand, by M. de Decazes, by M. de Martignac. The first experiment was, perhaps, too early; the second I consider to have been too late ; there were many circumstances in favour of M. de Decazes. Could he have saved the dynasty? The question is difficult, and I have ventured to give my own opinion. But what historians may dispute, history has decided. 6. The Restoration,” with its roots struck deep into the past, with its long hopes extending into the future, is no more; and I repeat, that we may marvel at its long duration when we consider the agitation by which it was accompanied. * In fifteen years it was fairly worn out. Every new system of violence excited new passions ; every new departure from moderation made new and irreconcilable enemies. Not once was the Chamber “liberal,” but that it passed to doctrines which were hostile to the sacred prerogatives of the crown : not once was the Chamber 6 royalist," but that it insisted upon a policy which was inimical to the accorded liberties of the people. Year after year

it was found impossible to place the government in a just position ; to make it an affectionate and

holy link between the king and the nation. A system • of fraud and exclusion separated it from the one ; any

approach to a fair and popular representation severed it from the other. Nor was this all: from the various political events which had distracted France for forty years, so many parties had risen up, that no one party was powerful.

The different sects united in opposition were strong ; but as each stepped out singly, and placed itself at the head of affairs, it betrayed its incapacity for remaining there. Uncertain what stay to look for—what arm to lean upon---the government of necessity pursued a vacillating course. Its wanderings I have traced to their close ; I have announced its end, and I now write its epitaph, while I call posterity to witness

* Under the Restoration, 2192 persons were condemned for political offences, of whom 108 were to death.

" That weakness is never so fatal to its possessor as when accompanied by violence; and that an absolute theory is the worst enemy of a constitutional throne.”

REVIEW OF THE RESTORATION.

The benefits of the Restoration-From 1817 to 1827 the wounds of

France healed-Advance in Agriculture, in Manufactures, in printed Publications—A new Philosophy, a new Literature, a new Race-The new Race and the old Race in presence–The course taken by each.

Say what you will of its ministerial errors, of its factious agitations, “the Restoration” as a period of improvement was a mighty epoch. No country perhaps ever made in the same time the same advances that France made from 1815 to 1830.

The ambitious soldier and the enthusiastic boy may linger with a fond delight over the narrative of those almost miraculous exploits, which place upon so lofty a pedestal the endeavours of human genius ; the more cool-blooded politician will observe that the Tower of Babel, the loftiest edifice on record, was the least useful, the most certain not to be completed; and that the merits of a reign are to be measured, not by the admiration it excites, but by the benefits it produces. The battle of Waterloo left France the victim of two invasions. The losses which had been inflicted upon her territory have been estimated at fifteen hundred millions of francs, the same sum that she was condemned to pay the allies. From 1818 to 1827, in nine years alone, says M. Dupin, “ these wounds, profound and terrible as they were, had been healed ; and even their scars obliterated. In the wars of twentythree years, fifteen hundred thousand men had perished, and in thirteen years their loss had been repaired.” Agriculture, which the presence of a foreign enemy had repressed (one department alone had suffered to the extent of seventy-five millions of francs), revived, and had even advanced during the Restoration, as well by an increase in horses and cattle, as by various improvements in the art of cultivation.

The manufactures of wool, of cotton, of silk, aided by the improvement of machinery and the experiments of chymistry, had added during that time in no small degree to the resources of industry and the invest. ments for wealth. The population of Lyons alone had advanced in eleven years from 100 to 150,000 inhabitants. The product of indirect taxation, that sign not merely of the riches, but of the enjoyments of a people, had been swelled during the interval of 1818 to 1827 by twenty-five per cent. The customs and the post produced more, the lottery less; and—a circumstance not to be forgotten in the details of administration—the expense of collecting the revenue had diminished as the revenue itself had increased. The number of printed sheets were in 1814, 45,675,039; in 1826, 144,564,094 ; thus displaying, in the production of human knowledge, a yet greater increase and a yet greater activity than in the other rapidly and daily increasing productions.

Accroissemens Annuels. De la population humaine

} Du nombre des chevaux Du nombre des moutons

17 Des consommations indiquées par les droits indirects. Idem, par les octrois

38 Des opérations industrielles indiquées par le revenu des patentes

33 De la circulation indiquée par le revenu de la poste

34 Du commerce indiqué par les droits de douane Des productions industrielles indiquées par l'exaction de la

houille Idem, par la fabrication du fer

45 Des publications de la presse périodique et non périodique : 94

By this table it appears,” says the valuable little pamphlet I quote from,* " que l'accroissement numér

"Les forces électorales," by Ch. Dupin.

pour cent.

1

3

4

4

« VorigeDoorgaan »