« VorigeDoorgaan »
own choice, of my own faction, in whom I can entirely rely. I will have at my disposal the whole force of royalty. The country may possibly yield when I display that force; if not, I am determined to use it." “ La Chambre joue un gros jeu,” said he, after receiving the address of the two hundred and twenty-one, “il pourra bien lui en cuire de blesser ainsi ma couronne !" And thus, amidst a series of events which we may call fortuitous, but which were so intertwined in the great mesh of human affairs as to make one almost believe that each was the necessary consequence of the other; thus, the two principles which had once contended came again into conflict, and a new example was bequeathed to posterity of the wisdom of the philosopher who, many years previous to our first Revolution, declared that “all restorations were impossible.” I acknowledge, for my own part, that the more I linger over this period of history, the more I marvel-not that the Restoration should have at length perished - but that it should have so long endured. A frank and honest recognition of the great principles of civil liberty, and a practical policy in accordance with those principles, must have led to the declaration and acknowledgement, that the monarch held his crown from
the people, and not the people their liberties from the crown. This would have been, in point of fact, the Revolution, — the Revolution of July. It would have separated the monarch altogether from the emigration, from the nobility, from the priesthood ; it would have put down the maxim-that wise emanation of kingcraft, " That the king had never ceased to reign.”
But in this sentence the Restoration was contained; and, 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 Aluctuation. “ Act up to the constitution you
have granted !” said one set of men. 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 sions.
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
was the Chamber liberal,' but that it passed to doctrines which were hostile to the sacred prerogatives of the crown : was the Chamber royalist, but that it insisted upon a policy which was inimical to
* Under the Restoration 2192 persons were demned for political offences, of whom 108 were put to death.
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 all: from the various political events which had distracted France for forty years, so many 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 uponthe 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 66 That weakness is never so fatal to its
posa sessor 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 measurednot by the admiration it excites, but by the