« VorigeDoorgaan »
party, it promised something to all, and was least likely to offend any one party. “The multitudes would have been passionately opposed," say many, “ to the legitimate line of the family they had been fighting against.” The army would have despised, and the bourgeoisie dreaded the red cap, which had presided over the confiscations and proscriptions of the Comité de Salut Public. M. Guizot and his friends accepted the Duc d'Orléans as a Bourbon ; M. Lafitte and M. Mauguin, as a member of the Opposition during the time of the Bourbons; General Lafayette, as the soldier of Jemmapes, as the aide-de-camp of Dumourier. Besides, Louis Philippe was the first person proposed, when everybody was uncertain. 66 Take the Duke of Orleans for your King,” said M. Lafitte.
Liberty will be satisfied with the sacrifice of legitimacy ! Order will thank you for saving it from Robespierre! England, in your revolution, will recognize her own !"
All declared against Charles the Tenth. None spoke of young Napoléon; none of Henry V. - and yet, if circumstances had favoured, a government might perhaps have been formed under the sanction of either of these names, more popular and more strong than the one which was adopted. The Legitimate Monarchy and Henry V.; the Republic and young Napoleon ; these (I venture the opinion as an historical speculation) would have been the two great and most reasonable alternatives.
For the legitimate monarchy there was, the past; for a republic, the future. The claims of the one were in the tombs of St. Denys; it was sanctioned by time, and it promised repose. A desire for new things could alone justify the pretensions of the other; and its existence could only have been an existence of action, and glory, invasion, defence, conquest. As for a republic, with Lafayette it would have been the vision of an hour—for the title of a republic would have been a declaration of war; and, if war were to ensue, what name but that of “ Napoleon” had a military prestige ?
Nor had young Bonaparte without a republic any chance of success.
The soldier of France would have rallied round his cause the citizen of France would have shrunk from it. A name possessed by one, a boy in the Austrian capital, was not alone a sufficient basis for a government. If France were desirous of throwing herself at once into a new position of braving Europe, and defying, the propagande in hand, the legions of the Holy Alliance--the young Napoleon, first consul of a military republic, would, I say, have aroused and united all the energies demanded for this daring career. If, on the other hand, the revolution was a combat for what had been obtained by the charta, and not for a new system that was to succeed the Restoration; - if the internal policy of France was to be-conservation, the external policy-peace; if monarchy was to be preserved and royalty respected, it was better to keep a crown that nine centuries had hallowed, and to preserve to majesty its history and its decorations. Tranquillity and the past, with Henry the Fifth-agitation and the future, with young Napoleon—these, I repeat, were the two great and complete ideas between which the people, if they could then have reasoned with the cool philosophy with which we reason now, would have chosen after the combat of July. But in times of trouble and intrigue, it is not one great idea that strikes us with force; we bend beneath a thousand little circumstances and considerations. Besides, though I have conjecturally united the young Bonaparte with a republic ---- as the best combination-we must not forget that at the time of the Revolution those who thought of Napoleon, thought of the Empire; those who thought of a republic, thought of Lafayette. The people, moreover, still saw in Henry V. the shadow of the old “régime.' A long array of peers and pensions, of guards and tabourets, stood between him and them. They had been fighting to the cry of “ à bas les Bourbons," and the blood was yet dripping from their clothes, which had been shed by the soldiers of legitimacy.
But might not a liberal regency have been named ? Was not Louis Philippe himself a Bourbon ? And is it not just possible that the same people who bound up the wounds of the Swiss, would have felt pity for the innocence of a child ? Charles the Tenth at the head of his guards, the Duchesse de Berri with the Duc de Bordeaux in her arms, might at two different moments have changed the destinies of France. But the blood of the grand constable was frozen in the veins of his descendant; the heroine of La Vendée was guarded in her chamber; the religion of legitimacy passed away when he who wore the crown of Henry IV. had neither his heart nor his sword; and an army of omnibuses dispersed the heroes who had gathered round the oriflamme of St. Louis.
But whatever might have been best under possible circumstances, I am by no means surprised at what took place under existing ones. Nay, more; whatever government it might have been advisable to form for France in 1830, as a liberal and rational Frenchman, I should be anxious, in 1834, to maintain the government that is; - liberty cannot exist without stability -it cannot exist under perpetual and violent changes; and there are some cases where it is wise for a people to preserve even many
evils in order to acquire the habit so necessary for all social purposes, of preserving something. They, I say, who when everything was to form four years ago might wisely have been republicans or legitimists —cannot wisely be so now — when a government is constituted and can only be upset by a new and more terrible revolution, of which they could neither direct the course nor predict the consequences. Moreover, the government of Louis Philippe was, if not the strongest, perhaps the easiest and safest that could have been adopted ; and I own that what most surprises me is, not that the French should have chosen the government, but that, now they have chosen it, they should be so hostile to their choice. They seem to have thought that because the present king would owe his situation to the popular voice, he would always concede to popular opinion. If this was