duration ; and the cant, and nearly always hollow and perfidious cry of measures and not men,' merely shows, where it is sincere, a double ignorance of human nature and affairs. Many acts of a government it is almost impossible for any person out of the government to know ; an administration with popular appearances may be taking a subterraneous road to arbitrary power; if the general principles which a man has hitherto professed are hostile to your notions of right, and on his becoming a minister he seems to act in a manner favourable to your opinions, you are bound to mistrust him, for it is more likely that he is false to you than that he is false to himself. The statesman who, after a long political course, tells you

suddenly that he means to sail on a new tack, is to be looked upon as a 'Coster** in politics—a swindler the more dangerous for the smiling candour of his address. This is the sober way of viewing things, and this is the way which the public, with its broad and plain common sense, usually views them. Mark the example! M. de Polignac comes into officethe first act of the minister, dreaded for his jesuitism, is the abolition of the unpopular

* To any French reader I have to observe, that this is the celebrated name of our most ingenious swindler.

office of minister of religion,' — the King speaks of prosperous finances, - the minister announces administrative amendments, and economical concession.

But, afar from these favours and promises of amelioration, severe and stern, with folded arms and knit brow, the great body of the nation stood aloof-full in front of the throne and its proud prerogatives : stood -- I say — the people — firm against compromise; embodying all their feelings in one opinion ; expressing them all in one remonstrance; replying to every argument of the Government by one sentence:–6 Remove the Minister !"

They listened to no other concession, they demanded no other compliance; for to an unpopular principle there is a definite and prescribed resistance, but to an unpopular person there is none—there are no bounds to suspicion, no bounds to fear, no bounds to hatred and the name of M. de Polignac gathered round it, and attracted into a focus, as it were, all the hostile, and angry, and dangerous feelings that, differing one from the other, various and dispersed, were burning in the hearts of men, and which, in order to be irresistible, only wanted to be concentred.

* Some in the diplomacy were particularly good.

Not a lip throughout the country that did not murmur in echo to that eloquent and terrible denunciation, “ Malheureuse France ! malheureux Roi !"* and Lafayette, the old banner of republican feeling, was brought out once more amidst popular acclamations; and the press, that had fallen into temporary oblivion during the better days of Martignac, lifted up

its masculine voice, and felt the majesty of a new mission; while the nation's representatives expressed their solemn sorrow,' and the nation itself quietly and publicly organized a resistance to any system of government contrary to the national rights,' and, let me add, to the national will.' Such was the awful aspect of those things in presence of which the King's ministry had to deliberate, when their maintenance in office was the King's decision. Seated on his throne, environed by all the pride and circumstance of royal superstition, Charles X. had (on the 2nd of March, 1830) pronounced, with the studied accentuation of a theatrical display, his last address to the peers and representatives of France; to that address the famous majority of two hundred and twenty-one had made their historical response, * while the Monarch, with a fatal firmness, declared that the choice which alarmed his people was the irrevocable resolution of the crown. There was a long controversy in the cabinet. The Government, however,

* Words of a celebrated article published at the time in the Journal des Débats.

could have but one course to pursue; a dissolution was the first step: on the second chamber being as unfavourable as the one preceding it—and that it was so, soon appearedeither the decision pronounced irrevocable was to be revoked, or an appeal to the people be succeeded by an appeal to the sword.

For some time prior to July there hung upon the public mind a heavy cloud, which, with the fatal inspiration of calamitous times, every one felt to be charged with the dread burthen of great events. The mysterious stillness which brooded over the royal councils rather excited than dulled expectation; and. when the two famous ordonnances appeared, there was nobody out of the diplomacy who had been deceived. They who best know Charles X. know that the greater part of his life had been passed in schemes of similar catastrophes. The first victim to the events of 1789, the long years of his exile had gone by amidst meditations on the manner in which those events might have been averted; and with a royal confidence in his own ability, he always imagined that he was peculiarly fit for essaying those perilous shocks of fortune, by which a crown is lost or made secure. From the moment then that M. de Martignac came into office, Charles X. had looked to the famous XIVth Article* as the basis of a daring plan, which, if the conciliatory plans of his Minister were unsuccessful, would release majesty in a more summary manner from the vulgar opposition of the commons.

* See Appendix.

With more ability than is usually attributed to him, he saw at once, on the retreat of M. de Villèle, the future difficulties of his situation ; he saw that he should be asked for great concessions — that he might be obliged to make a great resistance. Certain concessions he was prepared to make, larger ones he was resolved to refuse. Trying the milder system first, “Let it fail," said Charles X. “and fail I think it will, and I will take a Minister of my

* Art. 14. DE LA CHARTE.-Le roi est le chef suprême de l'état ; il commande les forces de terre et de mer, déclare la guerre, fait les traités de paix, d'alliance et de commerce, nomme à tous les emplois d'administration publique, et fait les réglemens et ordonnances nécessaires pour l'exécution des lois et la sûreté de l'état.



« VorigeDoorgaan »