Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

of men.

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. Without 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

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. 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. 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. 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 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

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

*

all : from the various political events which had distracted France for forty years, so inany 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

“ 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

[ocr errors]

a

that she was condemned to pay the allies. “Froin 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 twenty-three years, fifteen hundred thousand men bad 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 75 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 chemistry, had added during that time in no small degree to the resources of industry and the investments 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 25 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.

Pour cent.

.

.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

De la population humaine

13 Du nombre de chevaux

1 Du noinbre des moutons .

1% Des consommations indiquées par les droits indirects 3 Idem, par les octrois ...

3 34
Des opérations industrielles indiquées par le revenu des
patentcs.

33%
De la circulation indiquée par le revenu de la poste 3
Du commerce indiqué par les droits de douane

4
Des productions industrielles in diquées par l'extraction de
la bouille.

4
Idem, par la fabrication du fer

4 Des publications de la presse périodique et non périodique. 9 %

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

176

REVIEW OF THE RESTORATION.

In three years,

“ By this table it appears," says the valuable little pamphlet I quote from, * "

que l'accroissement numérique de la population est moindre que celui de toutes les forces matérielles, que celui de tous les produits du travail ; et que l'accroissement des publications, qui représente l'activité progressive de l'esprit, est le plus grand de tous. f (from 1817 to 1820) the elementary schools from 856,212, advanced to have 1,063,919 scholars; and the number of

persons receiving instruction at these institutions within the period contained between 1816 and 1826 has been computed at five millions and a half. Schools of arts, agriculture, and the sciences, were formed throughout the kingdom ; and, borne along on this mighty rush of new opinions, came a new and more noble philosophy—a new, a more rich, a’more glowing, a more masculine, a more stirring and energetic literature. The spirit and intellect of the country received a fresh birth, and at the same time a fresh race was born; a race that had neither the ideas, the wants, nor the history of its predecessors.

This was the real revolution. Within the last thirteen years a population of twelve millions and a half had been added to Young France, a population of ten millions belonging to Old France had gone down to the tomb. In 1828 the electors belonging to the new régime were 25,089, to the ancient régime 15,021. Thus the two generations were in presence; the one published the ordonnances, and the other raised the barricades.

a

[ocr errors]

“Les Forces électorales,” by Ch. Dupin. + The effect of which may be seen in the subjoined calculation. Printed sheets on matters of Science :-In 1814–232,314; in 1820—369,862; in 1826 -1,177,780.

.

177

THE ORDONNANCES.

Not violent enough for their purpose; Charles X. would have acted more

wisely in throwing himself entirely upon the army.-The people did not look to the mere aet of the Government, bat its object. They saw that if these means failed to effect that object, another would be tried.

*

-On July 26th* appeared the Ordonnances, accompanied by that famous report, not less remarkable for the eloquence than for the history it contains. As a matter of history, that document stands forth as the most singular and public protest against constitutional liberty that ever appeared in a constitutional country; as a display of eloquence,t that document convinces us that arbitrary power, even in the worst times, and under the least favourable circumstances, will never want able, perhaps conscientious, defenders. The Ordonnances totally put down the liberty of the press, and altered the system of election in a manner favourable to the aristocratical interests of the country.

Their violence has been reproached, and in some degree exaggerated : I have no hesitation in saying they were not sufficiently violent for the object they had in view. Such was the state of feeling, that I deem it more than doubtful whether a Chamber elected according to the new prescription would not have returned a majority against the ministry of Polignac. And this was the folly of the proceeding : for if the Government had met with no immediate resistance, the difficulties of the Government would only have been in their commencement. Charles X. most assuredly would have done a wiser thing had he declared that "finding by experience that his subjects were unfit for the Charta which had been given to them, he withdrew it, and threw himself entirely upon the army for support”-he

• Signed the 25th.
+ Supposed to be written by M. de Chantelauze.

† The press is put down because it points out certain members as unpopular, and advises, contrary to the royal wish, the re-election of the two hundred and twenty-one liberal deputies.

a

« VorigeDoorgaan »