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Louis XVIII. died, having long in reality ceased to reign-Never had
prince assumed a crown with more difficulties than Louis assumed his in 1814–What party could he rely on for support ?-Universal di. vision where there was the appearance of universal content-The momentary force of the Restoration, its permanent weakness-The first discontent felt by the military-Causes of discontent-The battle of Waterloo decided against the army-The events of the Hun. dred days favourable to the Bourbons--Moderate policy of Louis XVIII. on his return—The persecutions, however, which follow, and which unite the army and the patriots-How far Louis XVIII. was to blame-M. de Talleyrand resigns-Conflict between the two sects of royalists for power-Louis XVIII. at the head of one, Comte d'Artois at the head of the other—The administration of the Duc de Richelieu a compromise between these two parties, The governments of Messrs. Dessolle and Decazes are the governments of Louis XVIII.-The character of Mons. Decazes—The government of Dessolle and Decazes based on the law of election -King frightened by the election of Gregoire-The state of the ministry and the chamber-A government must have some tendency-Mons. Decazes determines on turning to the less liberal side for support-Left by Mons. Dessolle--Forms a new ministryMeans to alter Law of Election--Assassination of Duc de BerriMons. Decazes goes out-Fatal effects of his late policy--Review of his government–The enemies of the throne take courage ; men in general become more despondent as to the restoration, and the Throne gains foes hitherto not opposed to it.
I Now approach a time at which the impartiality of posterity has not yet arrived. Amid the clamour of contending parties struggling upon the ruins of a fallen throne-where is the voice to render the “restoration” justice? Separated from his friend, enslaved by his family, debauched* by his mistress, surrounded by the last pomps of religion, and thoughtful for a dynasty of which he knew the faults and had predicted the misfortunes, the brother of Louis XVI., the admirer and imitator of Henry IV., the uncle of Henry V., a prince of many royal virtues- saw a life of vicissitudes drawing to a close. The sceptre he was still presumed to wield had already fallen from his hand; as much from indolence as impotence, he had for years renounced the hope of governing an undivided people, and consented to a system which he had the wisdom to comprehend, but not the force to resist. On the 6th of September, 1824, Louis XVIII. terminated an existence which his sufferings rendered wretched, and of which it is too probable that his excesses shortened the duration. He may be said to have reigned for ten years, and the greatness which he had shown in his misfortunes had been at times perceptible during his power. Never was crown so difficult to wear as that which, in the right of hereditary superstition, foreign hands had placed upon this king's head.
* The details that are given of the last days of Louis XVIII., of his mental profligacy, of his physician's advice, of Madame influence and endearments, would form a melancholy chapter in the history of the fallen dynasty.
By what party was he to support himself? From what elements could the government be formed, which would assure him a prosperous and peaceful reign? The armies that escorted him to the Tuileries had marched over the prostrate legions of defeated France ; the sovereigns who gave him a kingdom were the successful enemies of the people whose interests he was come to cherish. He could not rely upon his army then, for he was the friend of the stranger; he could not rely upon his allies, for he was the sovereign of France.
There was a party who had followed his fortunesof gallant lineage; of tried fidelity ; they had a hold upon his prejudices, a right to his affections, and they claimed to be the counsellors of the monarch whom they had obeyed and honoured as the exile. But this party, in following the fortunes of the King of France, had stood for twenty years opposed to the fortunes of the French people ; they were aliens in the country thoy wished to govern : a deluge had swept over all