Monsieur de Villèle; while the hearts of many grew dead to the hope of reconciling the existing race with free institutions, and vast numbers went over to swell the ranks of the faction, already hostile to the legitimate throne.

From the ordonnance of September to the death of the Duc de Berri, is the great epoch of the restoration; and to Monsieur Decazes more especially is owing the impulse given at this time to the industry of France, and which since this time has carried on the nation with giant steps in a new career. Then was instituted a board for the amelioration of agriculture; then was formed a council for the inspection and improvement of prisons; then was shown the most earnest solicitude for elementary and popular education ; then were manufactures encouraged by a national exposition, at which the artisan met the monarch, and received the prize, which society owed him, from the royal hand.* This period was a period of improvement--a period of impartiality, a period at which the nation made an immeasurable advance-at which the destinies of the throne were yet undecided. To M. Decazes the people owed

* A table of this exposition is to be found in the vol. of M. Chabrol, to which I have alluded in my Appendix to the first volume. VOL. II.


in some degree the revolution—he developed the people's energies: to M. Decazes the monarchy might have owed its security, he would have united the monarchy with the nation.

The Duc de Berri was assassinated the 13th of February, 1820; and in the September following was born the Duc de Bordeaux, heir to a throne, which was at the same time assailed by an adverse superstition of hatred and devotion. On all sides - violence: here the ill-concerted plans of republicans put down, there the unhappy schemes of royalists successful: in Europe, the same struggle between abstract doctrines and arbitrary rule.

The war against Spain displayed the principles of the French Government abroad ; the Septennial Act asserted them at home — while the press crawled feebly on, under the weight of the censorship, and through the trammels of corruption. . . . Such was the state of things when Louis XVIII. died. *

* The following words are given to Louis XVIII. just previous to his death, and seem, from what I can learn, to have been, with some verbal inaccuracies, really addressed to his brother.

“I have dealt with all parties as did Henry IV., and, more fortunate than Henry IV., I die in my bed. Do you do as I have done, and you will die as I die. I forgive you all the pain you have caused me.” And subse

His brother passed from the chamber of death; the royal doors unfolded to the new King

Le Roi, Messieurs," said M. de Blacas, according to ancient usage, and Charles the Tenth received the homage of the princes and great officers of the crown.

quently, when the Duc de Bordeaux was presented to him, “Let Charles X. have a care for that child's crown!”-Hist. de la Restauration. I believe I may be permitted to say,

that I have seen, in different parts of his private correspondence, very extraordinary proofs of Louis's great sagacity, of the fears he entertained for the projects of the Comte d'Artois, and of his sense of the danger to which those projects would expose the throne of his nephew.



Charles X. popular, though the Comte d'Artois so unpo

pular- The French hailed a King who could ride on horseback-The abolition of the censorship-Reaction against the King-The Jesuits- M. de Villèle carries the powers of the Constitution to the extremest verge - The system which he essayed left in its failure no resource-The character of M. de Villèle-Ministry of Martignac -- Steps towards liberty — why unsuccessful—The march taken by the nation during the Ministry of Villèle-Opinions of M. de Martignac-Ideas of Charles X.-Difficulties of situation, and causesAdvantage of popular names to avert too sudden popular concessions-Reasons why this advantage should exist—Danger of choosing unpopular names-Example in M. de Polignac-Feelings in the country-Course of the King-Ordonnances consistent with Charles X.'s character Considerations — Great difficulty of preserving the institutions of 1814, and the principle on which they were given-The three mean-way systems failed - Not once was the Chamber · liberal,' but that it passed to doctrines hostile to the sacred prerogatives of the Crown; not once was the Chamber 'royalist,' but that it insisted on a policy inimical to the accorded liberties of the people-Weakness never so fatal to its possessor as when accompanied by violence -An absolute theory worst enemy of a constitutional throne.

Strange to say, never was king at the commencement of his reign more popular than the unpopular heir to the throne. * With the happy levity of their character, the French forgot the religious prejudices, the constitutional repugnances, of the Comte d'Artois on the accession of Charles X. Change itself was no inconsiderable blessing to such a people; and wearied with a decrepid monarch, swathed in flannel, they delighted themselves in the possession of a King who enjoyed the preeminent advantage of bearing himself gallantly on horseback. Charles X. courted popularity, and had in his favour all

* Often, and even lately, I have heard people, looking back to this time, speak of the change that took place, the kind of religious enthusiasm that was suddenly kindled in favour of Charles X., as one of the most remarkable political phenomena of their changeful day; and when one considers Charles the Tenth's known opinions, known personal attachments, it does appear far more astonishing that his manners should, even for a moment, have deceived his people, than that their confi. dence should have so fatally and so decidedly deceived himself.

« VorigeDoorgaan »