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and comprehensive terms of his coronation oath* --even then brief as was the period that had elapsed, his opinions were recognised, and his popularity was on the decline.
What else could be expected? The unfortunate Charles X., with the swift descent of a misgiving sinner, had plunged from the pinnacle of gay debauch, where he had signalised his early days, down to the very depths of superstition. Those religious men--the civilized benefactors of a barbarous age, and who then, inverting their endeavours, struggled to quench and to put out the sacred light which humanity honours them for having kindled—the Jesuits-no longer the friends of intelligence, the propagators and professors of the liberal and learned arts--the Jesuits-as far behind the time in which they were living as they had been before the time at which they appeared—the Jesuits-not, as of old, remarkable for their profound knowledge and vast acquirements--but retaining merely their dangerous and selfish policy, their profligate and treacherous morality-were marching with stealthy steps, through byeways and secret avenues, towards the most important offices in the country, and hoping and attempting to substitute for the misfortune of infidelity—the curse of superstition. Already had this crafty and ambitious sect crept near the cabinet of the King, whispered into the ear of the minister, insinuated itself into the seminaries of education-the affairs of religion became the daily business of the state ; laws were brought forward which punished sacrilege as parricide; the Chamber of Deputies resembled a council of Nice; and the government interferingwhere it is most dangerous to interfere— with the pleasures of the Parisians--elongated the gowns of the actresses and
CORONATION OATH.."En présence de Dieu, je promets à mon peuple de maintenir et d'honorer notre sainte religion, comme il appartient au roi trèschretien et au fils atné de l'Eglise; de rendre bonne justice à tous mes sujets ; enfin, de gouverner conformément aux lois du royaume et à la Charte constitutionnelle, que je jure d'observer fidèlement; qu'ainsi Dieu me soit en aide, et ses saints Evangiles." As Chief Sovereign and Grand Master of the Royal and Military Order of Saint Louis, and of the Royal Order of the Legion of Honour, the King said, “ Nous jurons solennellement à Dieu de maintenir à jamais, sans laisser déchoir leurs glorieuses prérogatives, l'Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint-Louis et l'Ordre Royal et Militaire de la Légion d'Honneur; de porter la croix desdits ordres, et d'en faire observer les statuts. Ainsi, le jurons et promettons sur la sainte Croix et sur les saints Evangiles.”—The Order of Saint Louis--the order of the Legion of Honour !-Here were two epochs.
the opera dancers, and peremptorily decided how many inches of their necks and their ancles should be exposed.--Lol through the streets of Paris, so gay, so indolent, so prone to ridicule and irreligion, marches the long procession, chanting the miserere; and the minister of war delights the army with an assurance that—that regiment is excellent at prayers, and this regiment incomparable at Pâques. While the Tartuffe recovers its originality, and is given amidst shouts of applause, as if it were a new piece written for the period.
And now amidst a series of measures, the one more unpopular than the other, the monarchy moves steadily and unhappily on to its destruction.
The indemnity to emigrants weakens the security of property - the law of primogeniture shocks that equality, * at once the darling passion and the ruling principle of France—the law against the press,t which, when refused, is followed by an
The law to establish a system of primogeniture was thrown out in an hereditary Chamber of Peers. “What,"
,” said M. Molé, whose moderation I need not mention--"What,” said M. Molé,“ of the adoption or the rejection of this law? The parties interested are fathers, elder children, younger children, and France. Well! will the fathers receive more authority ? or will they not, by the most immoral of combinations, be condemned, in some degree, to disinherit many of their offspring? And the eldest born! That right which they will hold from the law, in opposition to Nature, will it not render them odious and hostile to their brothers and sisters? And the younger born, against whom this project is directed ? In wishing to make an aristocracy with the elder children, will you not make a formidable democracy with the younger ones? And France -in taking from the circulation one fourth of her property, will you not diminish her landed revenue, and will she not be menaced by new impositions ?"
“ The right of the elder born,” said another Peer, “is intelligible at the time when the possession of fiefs obliged their proprietors to lead their vassals to battle. But everything is changed; the people to-day pay the subsidies, and concur in the formation of the army; nobles and roturiers all have the same duty to perform. No one has the right to claim peculiar laws or peculiar privileges to protect his property, and watch especially over its conservation. The transmission of fortune from a father to his children, without distinction of age or of sex, is the law of God, and man has only the right to interfere so far as to regulate this right and to conciliate it with paternal authority.”
Such were and are the opinions in France.
+ The plan of the Government was, by increasing the duty on the newspapers, to increase their price, thereby reducing their influence and the number of their readers. It is just worth remarking that this idea was taken from the English system, and recommended to M. de Villèle by M. Cottu.
"A-t-on jamais vu un calcul plus erroné," said M. Benj. Constant, "que ce
ordonnance--the disbandment of the national guards—the new creation of peers-carry the administration in every way to the furthest verge of constitutional power. Each spring of the constitution, stretched to the utmost, is strained, and its powerinjured.
M. de Villèle, as a statesman, was guilty of that fault, which, if we regard its consequences, is a crime. The system which he essayed, left, in its failure, no legitimate resource. Moderation after violence becomes weakness; and when violence has been carried to the extremest limit of the law, the next step you make justifies resistance. M. de Villèle was a man of ability; he had a certain administrative talent, a certain parliamentary tact; but he had none of those loftier and more noble qualities which lift a statesman to that height from which he can survey and provide for the wants of an epoch. All his ideas and hopes were within the hemisphere of detail and intrigue-to tickle the ear of the king, to entrap a majority of the chamber, and to attend to the official duties of his department—all this M. de Villèle understood, and understood well: but to see the course necessary to the nation, to urge the king to that course, to lead the chamber to it-such a part was beyond the reach of his capacity, and totally out of the range of his ideas. Simple in his habits and expressions, regular in his office, and
prodigal in places and dinners to his adherents, he exercised a great sway over the minds of those deputies who, fresh from their provinces, sympathized with his manners, enriched themselves by his appointments, and felt themselves raised in consideration by his hospitality. By this provincial body M. de Villele was adored; but all the better men of his time and of his party he alternately offended and disgusted. He
lui qu'on nous présente! En élevant le prix des journaux, on ne diminuera point leur produit annuel ! mais le plus simple bon sens n'indique-t-il pas qu'en doublant le port, on diminuera le nombre des abonnés, et par conséquent le produit de la taxe? Maintenant toute la question est de savoir s'il est juste, sage et politique de diminuer la circulation des journaux de la capitale, et de tuer l'existence de ceux des départemens.
“Dans tout ceci," said M. de Chateaubriand,“ n'y a-t-il pas quelque chose de puéril et de sauvage qui fait véritablement rougir ? La France est-elle donc redevenue barbare ? ".
“Dans la pensée intime de la loi,” said M. Royer-Collard, "il y a eu de l'imprévoyance au grand jour de la création à laisser l'homme échapper libre et intelligent au milieu de l'univers !”
The Academy protested; the law was finally withdrawn,
betrayed M. de Richelieu, neglected MM. de Lalot and Labourdonnaye, dismissed M. Hyde de Neuville, insulted M. de Chateaubriand obtaining a certain reputation as a statesman, there is not a principle that he laid down, or a conviction that he followed the whole course of his administration was foreign to his character, and in opposition to the policy he would more willingly have pursued. An advocate of peace, he engaged in the war with Spain; in nowise given to bigotry and superstition, he became the minister of the “congregation;' essentially of a cautious and moderate nature, the career of his government ran through a series of rash and violent experiments. An able man, he was the very reverse of a great man. In short, he had just sufficient talent to keep his place during six
years, and to render the dynasty impossible for more than three years after his resignation.*
Such was Monsieur de Villèle.
To a ministry which Charles X. said represented himself, succeeded a ministry which represented nothing.
One is startled at almost every page in the modern history of France, to see the little political faith that burns in the hearts of public men. M. de Martignae comes into office because M. de Villèle can no longer command a majority in the Chamber. All that M. de Martignac looks to, then, is to get the majority which M. de Villèle wants. He casts his eyes to this side, he casts his eyes to that side, in search of recruits; and it is a singular fact that the ministry distinguished from M. de Villèle's by its moderation, began by an offer to the party which, during M. de Villèle's administration, had formed the Ultra Royalist opposition. M. de Labourdonnaye, however, was not to be obtained, except on higher terms than M. de Martignac could afford to give him; and the government, which began by a proposition to the extreine right, wheeled round at once to the left centre—and now its march becomes every day
* Mons. de Villèle gave himself one chamber by a creation of peers, and hoped with the usual arts of government to strengthen his majority in the other by a new election; but the feelings against the congregation,' and against the arbitrary succession of measures which had left the nation without defence, from the double power of absolutism and superstition, except in its representatives, excited throughout the country such a feeling in respect to the election of those deputies, that the minister was completely baffled, and in consequence-resigned.
more and more decided towards the left. The members of the former government, Chabrol and Frayssinous, who, at first remaining, formed a kind of link between the old government and the new, are dismissed. The liberty of the press is to a certain degree accorded. A law to regulate and preserve the purity of elections, scandalously violated by M. de Villèle, is brought forward. The deficit left by that minister is acknowledged. But all these recognitions 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 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, bad formerly supported men, who like M. Decazes, had formerly proposed the censựre
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
* 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 dependent 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.