Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

instead of Expediency, and a Code instead of Custom.

If England be free — if we have been eminently prosperous, and, on the whole, generally happy we may be well content, without presuming to interfere with the established society of other lands. Our Constitution, unrivalled, with all its imperfections, was not scribbled in a morning, on the envelope of a royal letter, or drawn up by the sub-editor of a newspaper. There is but one philosopher, and that is Time; and but one patriot, and that is Nature.

SPIRIT OF THE FRENCH OPPOSITION.

I shall commence this chapter by doing what it is curious no one in France has ever yet had the candour to do: I shall publish that famous article of the Charter, in virtue of which the King conceived he was empowered to issue the Ordonnances.

ART. XIV.

Le Roi est le chef suprême de l'Etat, commande les forces de terre et de mer, déclare la guerre, fait les traités de paix, d'alliance, et de commerce; nomme à tous les emplois d'administration publique, et fait les règlemens et ordonnances nécessaires pour l'exécution des lois et la sureté de l'état.

If there were a time when impartial men, and especially impartial foreigners, were induced, through the influence of the French press, to condemn unconditionally the Ordonnances of July, 1830, issued on the report of the Minister of Justice, M. de Chantelauze, - a faithful copy of which report I shall here, for the first time, in this country, print, - assuredly these individuals, from what they have observed since this revolution, must now be convinced, that long before the appearance of these Ordonnances legitimacy was at stake in France, and that there remained no other resource for Charles the Tenth, to save the crown and the country, but in the interpretation which he gave to this article of the charter. What is at present going on in France, and especially what occurred immediately after the popular success, is the best justification of the motives of the government.

Revolutions and revolts are not occasioned merely by ordonnances, or a philosophic dread of the Jesuits. The Emperor of Russia can best inform us, whether it was any forced interpretation of an article of a charter which occasioned the glorious revolution of Poland; and I doubt whether the King of Holland, the Protestant monarch of a free people, can account for the loss of his Belgian provinces by the mortifying recollection of his despotism, or the consolatory reminiscence of his bigotry. For the infinite insurrections that broke out in 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.*

* As M. de Polignac justly observed, it was une question d'horloge, a mere question of time, which party should strike the first blow.

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

« ZurückWeiter »