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bishop of Blois,* the mitred regicide, threw even Louis XVIII. into consternation. Already he had supported his ministers by a creation of peers, and in a letter, the copy of which I have been shown, denounced the fatal effects of an unforgiving policy ;t but the republican elections startled him : the constitution of the chamber had been changed in order to restrain the violence of the ultra-royalist faction; he trembled lest he should be thrown into the violence of a faction still more to be dreaded. The system he sought was, as I have said, a system of moderation ; but, placed under the necessity of a choice, he would have preferred the coterie' of the Comte d'Artois, to the coterie' of M. Lafitte.
The chamber at this time was split into different divisions. There was the right, at the head of which were Messrs. Corbières, Villèle, and Labourdonnaye ; the left, at the head of which were Manuel, Dupont de l'Eure, Lafayette, Lafitte, and Ternaux. Each of these sections had two parties, the more moderate of which adhered to M. de Villèle on the one side
+ To any person at all acquainted with the correspondence of Louis XVIII. it would be useless to speak of the peculiar pains which he took with all the letters and billets, the writing of which was one of his principal amusements and occupations; penned in a very small neat hand, in very pure and studied phraseology, these little documents contained a great deal of good sense and dignity when their subject was serious, a great deal of grace and gallantry when it was not.
to Monsieur Ternaux on the other. The government was supported by the left centre, the Doctrinaires,' a title then coming into notice, and a portion of the right centrewhich it gradually lost as it tended towards more liberal measures, and might hope to regain if it remeasured its steps.
No ministry can long stand completely balanced between two parties ; it must have some tendency. The tendency of the French ministry had hitherto been liberal, and it had gradually been verging towards the left : but there was a party towards the left with whom it could not venture to make terms, and there was a party towards the right which still clung to it, and which had considerable influence in the other chamber.
I have said that there was a party hostile to the Bourbons in the chamber, but that party was still small. Benjamin Constant -- Foy the wisest, the ablest, the most popular, and the most eloquent of the côté gauche, were all
attached to a constitutional monarchy and an hereditary succession. That party (and with that party the press) offered their undivided their zealous and active support to M. Decazes, if he would maintain untouched the existing law of election. On the other hand, the droite of the chamber, the court, and finally the king, were for its modification. In an evil hour for legitimacy, M. Decazes abandoned the opportunity by which he might for ever have crushed the two parties — here struggling against the dynasty, there against the nation. With Benjamin Constant, Foy, Ternaux, and he would at that time have had Lafitte, added to the whole force of the Doctrinaires, and his own personal party on the centre gauche, M. Decazes, strong in his own nobility, strengthened by the popular voice, would have been able to wield the whole force of the country and of the monarchy, and to have smitten down his enemies on either side. Attached to the king, exposed to the remonstrances of the Carlsbad confederacy-irritated, perchance, by some injudicious liberal attacks-he resolved, I repeat, in an evil hour, to retrace his steps. It is fair to acknowledge, however, that he did not do this in the ungenerous spirit of a renegade : moderate in his advance, he was moderate in his
retreat. Left by M. Dessolle, he had to form a new government, and he composed it of men of high character, of superior abilities, and of principles as temperate as he could adopt for the course he had determined to pursue : - by this he hoped to reconquer the favour of the court, and to preserve the support of the Constitutionalists. This he hoped - and what in reality took place ? He offended the one party as much as if he had pleased the other.
The waves of opinion ran too high for such a system of peace, and dashed on either side over a ministry which, at once assailed by two oppositions, had to repel the double attack of Labourdonnaye and Lafayette — stigmatized as the timid deserter of their cause by the Liberals, still regarded as their disguised and humbled enemy by the Royalists—both parties threw in the face of his present policy his past professions. * An event was only wanting to overturn the Government, which no person ardently supported. A terrible event came: the only popular prince of the Bourbon family was stabbed by the knife of Louvel. The blow fell like a thunderbolt upon the ministry: it annihilated – it beat it to atoms. Nobly defended by the party he had left, infamously aspersed by the party he had approached, M. Decazes resigned
* It is impossible, in recurring to this part of French history, not to apply it to what is taking place in England and in our own times—ay, even at the moment at which I am writing, when a cabinet is yet to be formed. Whatever result from the late resignations, let me express an earnest hope that the policy so fatal to the dynasty of France may find no imitators here.
July 11, 1834.
- nor could he have stood an hour. He had no longer the nation at his back; the Comte d'Artois and the Duchesse d'Angoulême insisted on his dismissal; the court even clamoured for his impeachment; and M. de Châteaubriand, with one of his great charlatanisms of expression, declared, “ That the foot of M. Decazes had slipped in the blood of the Duc de Berri.”
I have dwelt at some length on the events of this time, not only because it is the critical time of the restoration, but because it is a time which all statesmen, now living, acting, and thinking, would do well to study !
With the fall of Monsieur Decazes fell the courage of Louis XVIII., who, first glad to interpose Monsieur de Richelieu between the two systems, finally resigned himself to the dictation of his brother, and the government of