Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

un

wished to have two strings to his bow; and he who sent little messages to Ghent probably sent others of a different colour elsewhere.

• As we advanced into France we found that a powerful coalition was formed in his favour ; when we approached Paris we found it irresistible. Every body was in it. Religion, impiety, virtue, vice, the royalist, the republican, the allies, and the French I never saw so extraordinary a mania: we heard from all sides that without this minister there was neither hope for the King, nor peace for France ; that he alone had prevented a great battle under the walls of Paris, and saved the capital, and that he alone could finish his great work.

• Let me be forgiven if I here say one word of myself. I would not now state what ! then thought if my sentiments were not already public. I maintained then, in the midst of all this mad enthusiasm, that no event, that no argument could justify such an appointnient; that if ever he became minister he would ruin France, or be dismissed in three months. My prediction has been accomplished.

• I shall never forget the pang I suffered at St. Denis. It was about nine o'clock in the evening, --I had remained in the King's antichamber,--the door opened; the Prince of Talleyrand entered, leaning on the arm of-M. Fouché !-Oh, Louis the Desired! Oh, my happy master! You have indeed shown that there is no sacrifice which your

people may not expect from your paternal tenderness ! * The new Cabinet thus installed must do something; and their new ally, of course, proposed the only step consistent with bis interest. His ministerial existence was incompatible, he felt, with the course of a representative monarchy. He understood perfectly, that if the illegitimate, armed force, and the illegitimate political powers, were not alike preserved, his fall was inevitable. He knew that there is no struggling with

the force of facts and things; and as he could not identify himself with : the elements of a legal monarchy, he wished to render the principles of the government consistent with his own.

He well nigh succeeded. He had created a fictitious terror before the Court entered Paris : he endeavoured, by a detail of imaginary dangers, to oblige the King to recognise the two Chambers--the rump of Bonaparte---and to accept a certain declaration of rights, at which certain philosophers, tailors of his sect, were working night and day, in order that it might be ready in time to throw over the King's shoulders at his entry into his capital. Louis XVIII. would then have been King by the constitutions of the empire-the people would have been so good as to elect him for Chief Magistrate his acts would have been dated the first year of his reign-the body and Swiss guards would have been cashiered-the army of the Loire preserved--and the white cockade would have been torn from the faithful soldiers who had followed their King into his exile, and now accompanied him back to the palace of his ancestors to make way for the tricoloured symbol of a rebellion which was even yet in arms against its legitimate sovereign.

• This would have been indeed the consummation of the Revolution : the royal family might then have been tolerated at Paris for a certain period, till, some fine day, the sovereign people, and the still more sovereign Ministers, should think proper to dismiss their monarch and abolish the monarchy: nay, at this epoch, the revolutionary faction was heard to mutter something about the necessity of exiling the Princes of the blood. The King was to be insulated from his family, and the throne was to be solitary confinement in a workhouse.

• In the meanwhile the system of terror and dupery went on.

« The warmest Royalists hurried out, with ridiculous sincerity, to ins form us, that if the King ventured to enter Paris with the household troops, we should all be massacred: that if we did not all mount the tricoloured cockade, we should see a general insurrection. In vain did the National Guards climb over the walls of Paris to assure the King of their devotion ; we were told that the National Guards were exasperated against us. The faction had shut the barriers to prevent the people from flying to meet their Sovereign. The conspiracy was

as much against this good people as against the King. Our blindness was miraculous. The French army, the only source of danger, was in march for the Loire : one hundred and fifty thousand of the allied troops occupied the posts, the avenues, the barriers, of Paris : they were to enter the city by capitulation, within twenty-four hours; and yet they would have us believe that the King, with his guards and allies, was not strong enough to venture into a city, where there did not remain single soldier, and whose loyal inhabitants (and they were, I may say, the whole population) were more than sufficient to have alone kept down a handful of rabble fédérés, if these latter bad wished or dared to stir.

• A circumstance occurred wbich might have opened our eyes : the Provisional Government was dissolved ; but it left behind it a posthumous proclamation ; a kind of indictment against the legitimate Monarch and his servants. This proclamation was intended as a foundation stone- laid now, to be built on hereafter ; and the edifice intended was a new revolution. This startled some of us; but the minister having assured us that this was the only means he bad of dissolving the Provisional Government, and that all was right-we believed him! Now, observe, this very Minister was himself the Provisional Govern. ment-its body and soul; and that (but for his précautions) this Directory, which he pretended 150,000 soldiers could not subdue, might have been thrown into the river by fifty of the National Guards, who had a great mind to do it.

“This farce ended I hardly know how. The new Directory, the Peers, and the Representatives of Bonaparte, evaporated; the household troops marched quietly into Paris ; the tricoloured cockade was rejected thanks to the spirit of the heir of Henry IV. who declared, that rather than wear it, he would return to Hartwell. The white flag again floated on the Tuileries, and to the great wonderment of the dupes— never was the King more enthusiastically welcomed, or his guards more cordially received. The pretended resistance was no where to be found, and obstacles, which never existed, had no great difficulty in disappearing. (pp. 97-105.)

Of this ministry M. de Chateaubriand blames with great freedom and force another very important measurem-namely, the system of partial persecution which it carried on against the men of the Revolution by its ordonnances and its amnesties. M. de Chateaubriand very justly remarks, that when they undertook a measure of this nature, their course ought to have been short, simple, and sincere; the great criminals should have been brought to justice; those who were thought deserving of such a punishment should have been exiled at once; and then a full, free, intelligible, and entire amnesty should have been granted to all the rest, which, as Dr. Johnson says of Charles the Second's amnesty, would have stilled the flutter of innumerable bosoms;' instead of which, they permitted punishment and fear to hover over France: wounds were kept open, passions exasperated, and recollections of enmity awakened ;' and even down to the moment at which M. de Chateaubriand wrote, prosecutions and sentences, at once partial and unlimited, were harassing and distracting the minds of the French people.

The third, or present cabinet, inherited the difficulties and faults of its predecessors; and M. de Chateaubriand accuses it of carrying on, with great perseverance and success, the system upon which the two former, and particularly the second, had acted, and which M.. de Chateaubriand explains in one instance to be a system of favour to the interests of the Revolution : and, surprising as it may seem, M. de Chateaubriand appears to us to make out his case, and to prove that the interests of the Royalists and the monarchy have been by the King's ministers most weakly and mischievously sacrificed to the interests of the revolutionary party. This must seem incredible to our readers, but we answer with Sosiem

Vous avez raison ; et la chose à chacun
Hors de créance doit paroître.

Ce'st un fait à n'y rien connoître ;
Un conte extravagant, ridicule, importun,

Cela choque le sens commun ;
Mais cela ne laisse

pas

d'être !* But while he attacks this monstrous and incredible system, M. de Chateaubriand is well aware of the calumny that may be raised on this point : he is well aware that in supporting the interests of royalty and the Royalists against the Revolutionists, he will be accused of wishing to attack the holders of national property and the public rights which the French nation has acquired during the Revolution -he therefore, on all occasions, in his opening, in his reasoning, and in his conclusions, takes care to free himself from this imputation ; and he holds a language and speaks opinions as

[blocks in formation]

bold, as satisfactory, and as conclusive on this point as any reasonable mind can desire; and he evinces himself to be as strenuously the friend on this occasion of the popular parts of the constitution, as before of the royal prerogative and the privileges of the aristocracy.

The mistake, he says, of the honest supporters of the system 'which maintains exclusively the Revolutionary interests is, that they confound the material and the moral interests of the Revolutionists. I say protect the former, but persecute, destroy, annihilate the latter.

• I mean by the material revolutionary interests, the possession of national property, the enjoyment of political rights, sprung from the Revolution, and consecrated by the Charter.

• By the moral-or rather immoral-interests of the Revolution, I mean anti-Christian and anti-social doctrines—the principle of passive or active obedience to any and every government de facto--and in short whatever tends to render indifferent or praise-worthy, treachery, robbery, and injustice.

• Be steady, then, in your maintenance of national property to its present proprietors, and of constitutional rights to all classes of the people punish those who would assail either.

But it is deplorable and odious error to extend this protection to all the impious and sacrilegious doctrines which have sprung, like Egyptian toads, from the slime of the revolutionary inundation. It is to con found real and tangible interests with pernicious and destructive theories.? -(pp. 121, 122.)

This, then, is the whole object of M. de Chateaubriand-to maintain all the things of the Revolution, the property, the rights, the liberty which it has produced; but not to keep in places of power and confidence the men of the Revolution, who in fact had no hand in bringing about its beneficial results; who never can be reconciled with the legitimate government, and who, as he shows, were tyrants under the republic and slaves under Bonaparte, and on both these accounts unfit, unwilling, and, indeed, unable to contribute to the maintenance of a limited and constituțional monarchy,

License they mean when they cry liberty !

For who loves that, must first be wise and good. The partisans of the system of favouring the Revolutionists defend their practice by two assertions--the first is, that there are no Royalists in France; the second, that the few there may be, are incapable of business and unfit for trust; and that all the ta lents of the nation are on the revolutionary side.

To the first objection, M. de Chateaubriand says, (we think justly ;) if it were true, and that there were really no Royalists in France, you ought to make some; they are așsolutely necessary to the permanence of the monarchy; and to prefer on all occasions, to advance into all places, to raise to all confidence, and to load with all favours, the men of the revolution, is certainly not the way to make Royalists;—to reward indifference or treachery, is not a very stimulating example to fidelity! But M. de Chateaubriand feels it to be unnecessary to urge this point to any great length; for he is prepared to assert that the great majority of France are Royalists, they have been oppressed and silenced by an active minority ; but when, he asks, and in what countries, have not the armed minority had, in times of confusion, the up

per hand ?

• How long have majorities influenced revolutions? Has not experience shown, that more frequently the minority carry all before them? Did, for instance, France desire the murder of Louis XVI. ?- was she for the Convention and its crimes--for the Directory and its baseness-for Bonaparte and his conscription? She wished for none of this--ber heart revolted at it all; but she was restrained by an active and armed minority.'-(p. 130.)

But he appeals boldly to every man who knows France, to state whether the wishes of the provincial cities, the towns, villages, and hamlets are not royalists; he appeals to the choice of the Chamber of Deputies, which, though elected under Fouché's ministry by electoral colleges chosen by Bonaparte, was almost unanimously royalist; he appeals also to the Councils General of the Departments, which, after the ministry had quarrelled with and prorogued the Deputies, voted to the Royalist majority of the Chamber their thanks and confidence, and presented to the King, in spite of all the efforts of his ministers, addresses framed in the same principles.

And since M. de Chateaubriand wrote, another and most decisive proof of the truth of his assertion is, that on the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, every kind of effort is made by the ministry, the whole legal and the whole illegal influence of the state is exerted to prevent the choice of Royalist deputies; the official gazette does not conceal, but rather boasts of the efficiency of these violent and anxious measures, and this effectually proves how absolutely necessary the ministry conceives them to be. If the Royalists were, in deed, a small, poor, ignorant, and contemptible faction, would it be necessary to have recourse to such strong and extensive exercises of power to ensure their exclusion--what have they to recommend them to the choice of a people really disposed against them ?-disgraces with the King ; persecution from his ministers; paucity of numbers; poverty; incapacity, and the imputation of being bigots and · Ultras,' aiming at the re-establishment of feudal tyranny, the seizure of national property, and the abrogation of national rightsą

« AnteriorContinuar »