Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

with the cool philosophy with which we reason now, would have chosen alter 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 Napoléon, 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 Berry 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 every thing 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

204

REVIEW OF THE REVOLUTION OF 1830.

a new and more terrible revolution, of which they could neither direct the course aor 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 this 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 their theory, was it a wise one ? Do not we know that every man is under the influence—not of the circumstances which placed him in a particular stationbut of the circumstances resulting from the situation in which he is placed. Give a man rank and power, he will endeavour to preserve that rank and power; it matters not how he obtained it. If there be in his origin difficulties to overcome, it is to his origin that he will be perpetually opposed. The veriest schoolboy in politics and in history might see at once-that the life of a prince sprung from a popular convulsion, would be passed in struggling against popular concessions. Here he may do well to yield, there to resist—but to resist he will somewhere be obliged, to yield he will always be required. The nation will be unruly under him, and you must govern an unruly nation as, if you are a skilful rider, you will govern an unruly horse-you will not dare to lay the reins upon his neck, but as you pat his crest you will play with his bridle ; if you give him his head, or if you pull at his mouth, it is neither force nor fear that will restrain him/he will run away with you.

The system of the present King of the French must be a system of repression, for the expectations which he excited are extravagant : but it may be a system of granting much in order to obtain the power of refusing more : if he refuse every thing, if he pull too hard—but-I am about to recur to my simile of the unruly horse.

It now only remains to me to say—that in the two questions which arose respecting the throne, first, whether it should be declared vacant on account of the absence of the family of Charles the Tenth; secondly, whether Louis Philippe should begin the new monarchy or take a title which would connect him with his predecessors--a negative was given to the more

THE STATE OF PARTIES SINCE THE REVOLUTION,

205

moderate party, and so far the commencement of another era was undoubtedly proclaimed. A reference to the charta as it was* and as it is, forms the best conclusion to this part of

my work.

THE STATE OF PARTIES SINCE THE REVOLUTION.

Two parties during the Three Days.-A third party.--Natural consequences

of their union.-In order to understand the policy of the present Government, we must perpetually refer to the policy which presided over its creation.-lo creating the Government, the French should have considered that its course was prescribed for at least ten years. What the present King's Government was likely to do, what it was not likely to do.-Its policy.--The persons who can best maintain it on that policy.--The Doctrinaires.-Ministry of Laffitte, of M. Périer, of the Duc de Broglie.--Or Soult, of Gérard.-M.Thiers.--His character.--He the best person to maintain the present Government.-What are the difficulties in maintaining it?-Its necessary unpopularity.--The dangers of that unpopularity.-Its safety in its gaining time.

Having carried the political events of France down from the first to the second revolution, I would now take a brief view of the condition of the new monarchy, and of the state of the parties which have existed under it; reserving to myself the opportunity of returning to the subject, when, having made more familiar to the reader the manners, the character, the influences, the institutions, and the men of this country, I may take a broader, a bolder, and a more satisfactory view of its future destiny

It is evident from what I have already said, that the revolution from the first of the three days contained two partiesthose who felt strongly, and those who reasoned calmly. The first joined it with the desire to overthrow a tyrannical government, the second with the hope to prevent present confusion. The first, while the conflict was still uncertain, was for declaring the ordonnances illegal, and placing themselves at the head of the people; while the second were for renouncing a

* See Appendix.

resistance by force, and for treating with Charles X, So, after the treaty of Rambouillet, the one was, as I have said, for beginning the new race with a new title : the other, for connecting the monarch whom the people had chosen with the long line that had reigned by the divine grace of God.

The natural bent of these two parties would have led them to diverge even wider than they did. The enthusiasts for liberty would have taken the republic—the advocates of order would wiilingly have declared for Henry V.—But there was a third party—the personal party of the Duc d'Orléans, which appealed to the sympathies of the republicans—to the ideas of the legitimists. To the first it said, I fought with you in the days of July, and I propose to you the soldier of Jemmapes. To the second it said the Duc d'Orléans is a Bourbon, and remember the revolution of 1688. In this manner the revolutión which had been commenced and continued without a plan, was constituted and confirmed with one.

Its natural consequences were—vast concessions to popular opinion in the moment of passion. The triumph of the party in favour of order and tranquillity, when tranquillity and order were restored. And, lastly-since in order to overthrow the former government, the personal friends of the Duc d'Orléans had been obliged to side rather with those who were for destroying than with those who were for conserving—they would, when the principles of the present reign became conservatrice, be obliged to separate either from their party or their patron.

In order to have a proper idea of the present king's policy, it is necessary to be perpetually referring to the policy by which his election was dictated. Very few of the French understand their own revolution. They cry out against the juste milieu. Their revolution, as I have said, was the juste milieu. Louis Philippe was the juste milieu. If they had expected, through peaceable representations, the respect, the attention, the confidence of the despotic governments of Europe, they should not have taken Louis Philippe: if they had expected war with those governments, a reign of glory and action, they should not have taken Louis Philippe. If they had expected from the crown the continued perpetual concession of popular rights, they should not bave taken Louis Philippe; for they should not have taken a man with the passions and the ambition of

a man. If they had expected tranquillity in the Soult of France,-submission in la Vendée on the one hand--or an abhorrence to hereditary rights, and a detestation of the royal name of France, on the other,--they should not have taken Louis Philippe. Directly they chose their sovereign, they ought to have considered that they had traced, for ten years at least, the direction of their revolution. They had chosen the Duc d'Orléans to satisfy those who were against the family of Charles X. They had chosen a Bourbon, in order to reconcile the friends of legitimate succession; they had chosen a monarchy, in order to pacify those who were afraid of a republic; they had made that monarchy the commencement of a new era, in order to satisfy the republicans; and more than all—they had chosen peace in the selection they had made, and evinced a dislike, if not a fear, of war;-and yet there is not one of the parties to whom Louis Pbilippe was a compromise, that has not alternately claimed the triumph of its own opinions.

Was Louis Philippe's government the one likely to allow the family at Holyrood to enter France ? Was Louis Philippe's government the one to pull down from the public edifices the fleurs-de-lis? Was Louis Philippe's government the one likely to march hand in hand with the Americo-republican Lafayette ? And was Louis Philippe's government the one best calculated to remonstrate effectually with the Emperor of Russia, or to march with the tricolour flying, in favour of the Poles ? Was Louis Philippe's government the one which would command the ear of Prince Metternich-or Louis Philippe's the name that would speak to the Austrian veterans of Austerlitz and Marengo! No, Louis Philippe's government was a government of peace-of peace to be obtained by an unpretending posture abroad, by a sober, quiet position at home. It was the government of the juste milieu, as Louis Philippe himself was the juste milieu between a variety of thoughts and things. It was a government of the bourgeoisie, in which we were neither to look for the chivalry of ancient France, nor the turbulent energy of the Republic, nor the military greatness of the Empire, nor the hereditary majesty of the Restoration.

It was the government of the bourgeoisie in action as in ideas, of that order which is least susceptible to imaginative

« VorigeDoorgaan »