Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Europe, the progeny of the Three Days, I hear of many pretexts, but I recognise only one cause, — the selfish intrigues of France, who has invented Continental Liberalism as an equipoise for English Freedom. But the candour of our new allies saves me, on this point, the ungracious necessity of reasoning. The leaders of the new revolution glory in the constant assertion that their reiterated devotion and solemn oaths for fifteen years were only the veils of a systematic conspiracy: and that all this time while a dynasty of fourteen ages confidingly reposed upon their loyalty and upon the laws, they were, in fact, only the actors in a long drama of duplicity and mystification.*

In offering some reflections on the causes that provoked the ordonnances, we must ascend higher than the ministry of the Prince de Polignac.

Louis the Eighteenth might have succeeded, in 1814, in establishing a strong government; and without a strong government, — whether it spring, , as in England, from the confidence and intelligence of the people, or, as in other countries, from military force, — without a strong government, national happiness is impossible, because there can

* As M. Odillon Barrot delights in observing, “ Nous avons joué la comédie.'

be no national order. Unfortunately, the disposition of Louis the Eighteenth himself at the time when the charter was in discussion, fell in with the fatal councils of those very men who affect, at the present day, to regulate the social machinery of France. His first ministers were deplorable, either from treachery or imbecility, but at last he found a man of honour, firmness, and talent. Villèle was a great statesman, who in time would have obviated the blunder of the charter, which, affecting to settle all, settled nothing, and after exhausting all the common-places of the constitution-mongers, left the real basis of social and political power more vague and questiontionable than it found it. Villèle was capable of consolidating the legitimate monarchy, and of rendering the government powerful by that great fabric of national prosperity, of which he laid the foundations, and which he had in part constructed. The greatest enemies of his Administration cannot deny this fact, and it was precisely because the revolutionary place-hunters of the present day perceived in the success of his system, their perpetual exclusion from office, that they prepared that famous and systematic opposition, whose egotistical and selfish spirit France, as well as all Europe, now recognises and abhors. It appears

to me that the system of “the Liberal party” in all countries, is to persuade the people that they are miserable when they are happy, and to convince them they are contented when they are in despair. Never was France more free, never more flourishing, than under the administration of Villèle; and yet, amid all that freedom, and all that national prosperity, did the “ Liberal Party” of France organise that vast conspiracy, whose results will be fatal to the peace and civilisation of Europe. The youth of France, in whom this party sought that physical courage in which the Doctrinaires are ever deficient, became their dupes; and, stimulated by a series of infamous fictions, unparalleled in the annals of political mendacity, young France, full of lofty aspirations and exalted patriotism, rushed forward to die in the cause of philosophy and freedom, and achieved by the immolation of themselves and their constitution, - what? the fortunes of a few journalists and lawyers -- the Thiers and Dupins !

It is curious to observe the various character of the dupes — the diversified party colours of the tools who have all been blindly working for the It is curious

no, no, it is heartrending — to find M. de Chateaubriand helping to convert such a person as M. Thiers into a

same end.

statesman. Yet to the insane alliance of M. de Chateaubriand and his comrades with the “ Liberal Party” - yet to the impossible combination of the Journal de Debats and the revolutionary press, are we indebted for the overthrow of M. de Villèle. The party of the disappointed royalists bore the sobriquet of the party of the defection. It was composed of a very few men of sense and genius; and even these, like Chateaubriand, had more genius than sense; but they were in general men extremely incapable of business, and some were mere courtiers, the most useless of all beings, creatures disgusting from their servility, their selfishness, and their extreme ignorance; but creatures of whom France has ever been particularly prolific. What political speculator, however, could anticipate that such a party would deliver themselves up, bound hand and foot, to their bitterest enemies, and all for the mere object of overwhelming a minister, who felt that the genuine prosperity of France was to be promoted, not by fanfaronnades, but by the developement of national industry and local resources.

The overthrow of M. de Villèle was by every wise man regarded as a catastrophe, and the commencement of the revolutionary movement. M de Villèle was succeeded by M. de Martignac,

the minister of Concession, and who prepared, although doubtless unconsciously, the revolt of July. Let us for a moment recal the time, when the actors in the “comedy of fifteen years” extolled to the skies the monarch and the measures which were directed by the perilous counsels of the accomplished advocate of Polignac.*

When Charles the Tenth ascended the throne of France, it was generally supposed that his minister would have been M. de Chateaubriand that unhappy man who, by a strange fatality, busies himself with poetry when he is a minister, and with politics when he had better stick to his poetry; but the king, after some interviews with M. de Villèle, was so impressed with the talents of that minister, and so convinced that his system was conducive to the happiness of the kingdom, and the security of the crown, that he determined to retain him. From that moment, M. de Villele exercised over the royal mind an

* This worthy and amiable man, and conscientious though unsuccessful minister, has died, as these sheets are passing through the press. The generosity with which M. Martignac undertook the defence of Polignac, before the peers of France, proves that the errors of his Administration did not spring from the want of personal resolution, or the influence of personal interest. He was a gentle physician, who, by erroneously administering palliatives, left no hopes for the patient but in more violent experiments.

« ZurückWeiter »