Imágenes de páginas

cousins and throws everything out of the window. People accuse me of wanting to found the Republic. No one can say that now; no one can deny that the founder of the French Republic is the Comte de Chambord."

Thiers was naturally amiable and unaffected, and though excessively vain, by no means touchy, on account of his excessive self-confidence. Neither he, nor his wife, nor Mlle. Dosne changed, when he was the head of the State, any of their habits of life, which were not only simple, but more parsimonious than luxurious. Nevertheless he seems to have had an extreme love of money which he allowed to be seen in a painful manner, with respect to the rebuilding of his house destroyed by the Communists. The Commission appointed for the purpose proposed to spend 1,000,000 francs, but he demanded the absurd sum of 1,600,000, and is even said to have enumerated amongst his losses objects which he well knew were safely hidden away. As he verged more and more towards the Left in politics, he seems to have indulgel, even at council meetings, in profane and obscene jokes, such as he had never been known to make before. M. de Falloux contrasts him with Guizot, much to the advantage of the latter, terminating his comparison * as follows:

‘M. Guizot died at an advanced age with calm serenity, surrounded by relatives and friends of many years' standing, and worthy of the grateful homage of a party he had never deserted. M. Thiers attained about the same age, but he died almost suddenly, in bitterness of heart, and in the midst of intrigues; regretfully abandoned by old friends who despaired of his return to them, and given up either to secret enemies, or to new friends who made a profit even of his bier.'

The Government which succeeded that of Thiers was as modest and unpretending as it was earnest, if mistaken. M. de Falloux being invited to breakfast by M. Ernoul, the Chancellor and Minister of Justice, to meet the Duc de Broglie and other ministers, found him in a little lodging in the Place Hoche, and the cook brought in her dishes from the adjacent kitchen. In a letter to a friend he writes :

• This present Government is quite touching in its simplicity when one is intimately acquainted with it. Each member lives sans façon in the most friendly way, without carriages, without servants, without disputes, in poor lodgings, with breakfasts of 25 sous, and all this accompanied by a very passion to do good.' The Duc d'Audiffret-Pasquier and the Duc Decazes were * Vol. ii. pp. 544-546.


still ardently anticipating a monarchical restoration. General Changarnier also continued to cherish his illusions, saying, ‘if only I had been trusted in 1851, we should have had the Monarchy sixteen years ago, and lost neither Alsace nor Lorraine.' Every one supposed that at last the Comte de Chambord had distinctly accepted the tricolor, when came the well-known fatal letter of Salzburg of the 27th October, 1873.

Its effect was once more decisive and immediate, and it is instructive to learn * from M. de Falloux that there were not two opinions about it amongst the Royalists; indeed the most ardent ones were the most vehement in their expressions. The Duc de la Rochefoucauld-Bisaccia, recognizing that the return of the Count had become for the present impossible, proposed that the Prince de Joinville should become Lieutenant-General of the kingdom. This the Prince declined unless chosen for that position both by the Assembly and the Count, and the Septennate of Marshal Macmahon was decreed.

No one seems to have been more surprised at the result of his letter than the Comte. de Chambord himself. His astonishment was so great, that he at once came to France incognito to struggle against the definite appointment of any provisional chief. He came to Versailles and asked to see Marshal Macmahon confidentially, who replied that, if the Count was in

any danger, he was ready to defend him at the peril of his life, but that his obligations to the Assembly forbad him to acquiesce in any secret interview. The Count saw but a few friends, and seemed full of care, and almost irritable. His anxiety became so poignant, that he waited in the courtyard, at the foot of the statue of Louis XIV., and there heard with the bitterest despair that almost all the members of the extreme Right had voted the Septennate. The next day he returned to Paris, saw, hidden in a carriage, the march-past of some soldiers at the Invalides, and left France at once and for ever.

M. de Falloux passes on him what we deem an equitable judgment.

M. le Comte de Chambord had, as it seems to me, three lines of conduct, any one of which he had the right to choose. If he believed that the white flag was indispensable to the Monarchy and did not fatally excite French prejudices, he might have raised it during one of our revolutions, and boldly taking Henry IV. for his model, have led it to victory or death. If he had not that absolute faith in his country or in himself, how could he refuse the compromise of powdering the tricolor with fleurs de lys, thus making plain by the juxtaposition of these symbols, the fact that the two parties, the divisions between which had so divided and weakened France, had

* See vol, ii. p. 580.


become reconciled ? How could he continue to speak as if he believed in nothing but the magic of the white flag, and yet remain inactive as if he believed in the invincible might of the tricolor ? Finally, if at last convinced of the true situation of our unhappy country, he recognized the necessity of a painful concession which he had no right to impose on himself, he should have abdicated. A disinterested act never dishonoured or lowered any one. Abdication has often been an honour to a king and salvation to a people. A double abdication had prematurely placed the crown upon Henry V.'s head, and all the Monarchists had regarded that act of his grandfather and uncle as a generous submission to cruel but inevitable necessities. But to adopt frankly no one of these three lines of conduct, but to mingle them so as to obtain neither the advantage nor the dignity of any one of the three; to lead men to expect concessions and then suddenly withdraw them on the eve of a decisive action; to come near enough to success to render it a possibility, and then, emboldened by the proximity of victory, to compromise and destroy everything by an incomprehensible want of foresight, or by a rash precipitation in grasping at a prize which a little patience would have brought to his hand—all this is inexplicable conduct which, to our misfortune and the world's amazement, undid the best combined attempts at monarchical restoration and national prosperity!'

M. de Falloux died in 1885; having lived long enough to taste the full bitterness of the degradation which the Radicals had brought on his country, without being consoled by any evidence that better days might be at last in store for it, though his very last words are full of pious and patriotic hope. The present prospects of his country may well inspire his surviving friends with fear and anxiety. In concluding our notice of this remarkable book, we wish to call attention both to the encouragement and the warning it holds out to ourselves. The happy continuity of our political evolution renders it probable that we may continue successfully to avoid sudden and radical changes. Nevertheless, the wider our democracy becomes, the more evident is the danger which may arise from the popularity of some gifted speaker, like Mr. Gladstone or Lamartine, capable of suddenly breaking with the most cherished convictions, and carrying the masses to their ruin on a torrent of baneful eloquence. We have but to look across the Channel to recognize the fatal effects of any sudden and complete rupture of the conditions of Church and State. But the near approach to success, which was achieved by the band of true patriots of various political views who acted with M. de Falloux, may well encourage us, more happily situated as we are, to renewed and persevering efforts in order to stem the tide of revolution which menaces our country.


[ocr errors]



Art. III.1. The Makers of VeniceDoges, Conquerors, Painters,

and Men of Letters. By Mrs. Oliphant, Author of The Makers of Florence.' With, illustrations by R. R.

Holmes, F.S.A. London, 1888. 2. Venezia, e le sue Lagune. Venezia, 1847. 3. Monumenti per servire alla storia del Palazzo Ducale di

Venezia : ovvero serie di atti publici dal 1253, al 1797, che variamente lo reguardono, tratti dai Veneti archivii, e coordinati da Giambattista Lorenzi, coadjutore della Biblioteca

Marciana. Venetia, MDCCCLXIII. 4. La Storia di Venezia nella vita privata, dalle origini, alla

caduta della republica. Da P. G. Molmenti. Torino, 1885. 5. Life on the Lagoons. By Horatio F. Brown. London,

1884. 6. Venetian Studies. By Horatio F. Brown. London, 1887. RS. OLIPHANT, in her pleasant and painstaking book,

does not venture far enough out to sea to incur much peril from adverse criticism. We have little criticism to make, except in respect of her title, which the authoress has apparently adopted from no other reason than to follow suit with her previous work, “The Makers of Florence.' In the case of Florence, the title is fairly appropriate, for the Medici were in some sense the makers as they were also the marrers of Florence; but as regards Venice, no greater misnomer than that of The Makers of Venice' could well have been chosen. If human makers must be assigned to the City of the Sea, we should go back, first, to Alaric, and secondly, to Attila, whose ravages on the mainland drove a host of refugees to found their homes in those Lagoons which eventually became Venice. Besides, to designate certain citizens as chief authors of the State is to suggest that to which the whole character of the people was opposed. Their boasted liberty is somewhat overclouded by the jealous checks and counterchecks with which it was environed. So determined were the Venetians that no individual should attain preponderance in the government, that for the first seven centuries—the period of her truest greatness- no one citizen, whatever his merits, could be said in a political sense to hold a place above another. To this the position of the Doge presented no exception; and, in truth, as we shall have occasion to explain, it only confirmed the rule; for most changes, and they were frequent, were in the direction of a diminution of his authority. That Venice had her makers there can be no doubt; and these were neither her soldiers, her sailors, nor even her statesmen, but rather three great overruling causes. Her Freedom, so called, her Com


[ocr errors]

merce, and her Position : her Freedom founding that Commerce to which her Position gave an ever-widening range.

The three Italian works on our list throw fresh light on these agencies, and are calculated to create some revolution in the ideas generally current on Venetian history.

The first—i Venezia, e le sue Lagune '—is a work of great authority compiled by the members of a well-known club, called * I Dotti'; comprising the most eminent men in the departments of history, literature, and science ; each taking the subject in which he is an adept; and all alike anxious, as regards the history of the Republic, to place it on a foundation of unimpugnable accuracy.

The second, by Signor Lorenzi, formerly •Assistant Librarian' of St. Mark's Library, is beyond all modern challenge ; being, as the title sets forth, a collection of public acts taken from the archives, and bearing on the history of the Ducal Palace for five centuries and a half.

The third work, by Signor Molmenti, is in one sense the most important; being a more consecutive history, illustrated by incidents of the private life of the Venetians, drawn from the inexhaustible riches of Venetian documents. The value of this work has received a twofold certificate ; it has been adjudged the prize of 3000 francs bequeathed by Count Giovanni Querini Stampaglia to the Venetian Institute of Science, Letters and Art, and it has gone through several editions.

Viewed under one aspect, the Position of Venice was her most active maker; for, as there were no fields to till and no corn to reap, the new settlers transferred their ploughs to the deep, and reaped the fruits which the winds and waves and their own good oars brought them. How those three overruling causes we have cited further worked together to form the most extraordinary State that the world has known, points, however, to a combination of causes lying deep and in some instances lost in early history. Venice is built, as we all know, upon seventytwo islands; but their aggregate—the great State herself-constitutes a moral island in history. The Venetians used to boast first, that they were born free, i.e. without those early fetters of feudalism which to this day cripple some other European races; and, secondly, that they were born to Christianity, such as it then was. Certainly no State, in the conduct of its own affairs, ever showed greater sagacity, caution, and prudence, more aptitude for what is known in modern terms as business, a higher spirit of adventure, with, at the same time, a greater absence of what can only be called Sentiment. The annals of Venice are human History, with all the softer parts iest out. A


« AnteriorContinuar »