Abbildungen der Seite

Second-the Constitutional or, as they were called, Dynastic Opposition, because, though they opposed the existing Ministry, they were friends to the new dynasty-at the head of these were Messrs. Thiers and Odillon Barrot.

Third-the Legitimists, led by M. Berryer.

Fourth--the old Republican party, composed chiefly of journalists, young littérateurs, lawyers, students, half-pay officers, clerks, and the grandsons of the Jacobins and the sons of the Buonapartists. They were by no means formidable for their numbers,* but their intelligence, activity, zeal, and discipline, and the watchwords of Republic and Buonaparte-prophetic pledgesassured them great weight and authority in any agitation that might happen to arise. Their most prominent leaders were Dupont, an old lawyer of the first revolution, Arago, and GarnierPagès in the Chamber, and Marrast and his colleagues in the National newspaper.

Fifth—the sect of Communists, composed altogether of the working classes, who were hardly to be called a political party, but rather a social confederacy, whose views, we cannot call them principles, are like those of our own Socialists, a kind of community of property--that labour and its produce should be in partnership—that competition should be abolished, and work and wages so distributed and regulated by the state as to equalize the conditions of each individual in the community. To which was added a theorem-practically attempted since the Revolutionthat the claims of labour are not satisfied by wages, but that the workman is entitled moreover to a proprietary share in the work on which he is employed and in the capital which employs him, The Communists, though they thus had a visionary equalization of property at the end of their vista, were practically busied in combinations relative to hours of labour, rates of wages, prices of task work, and so forth, and were therefore ready banded and disciplined for any political purpose to which their energies might be directed. These doctrines were promulgated in the press by M. Louis Blanc; and the other journalists of the Réforme, and the sect was represented in the Chamber by Ledru-Rollin.

*. Combien ces Républicains étaient-ils ? C'est à peine si on daignait les compter.' -Discours de L. Blanc, 17 Mars, 1848.

+ Particularly in a little work, first published in 1839, called Organisation du Travail, in which he attributes all the vices and misery of the world exclusively to competition for work--making no allowance for the depravity of human nature, nor explaining in any way that we can understand how his system of a universal partnership and community could be carried into practice, or how, if it were, it could resist for a week the internal explosive power of human passions-not to speak of common sense.



The Government had in the Chamber a majority—not large, but steady and sufficient—over all these parties even when united, as they were sure to be on all popular questions, though their ultimate objects were so different. The Dynastics only wished to overthrow the Ministers and take their places. The Legitimists were glad of any occasion to embarrass and affront the usurper, to exhibit the inconsistency and insecurity of the revolutionary monarchy. The Republicans and Communists were ready to join in any attempt to unsettle the existing order of things, and were the only parties that were in any degree associated with the people. Working each by its own secret organization, but communicating with each other by confidential channels, these associations had been for some years preparing another revolution, of which, however, they had resolved to adjourn the attempt to the death of the King; but as advance

years, a recent attack of illness, and the death of Madame Adelaide, seemed to bring the prospects of the demise of the crown nearer, they grew more confident in their strength and more active in their preparations.

Such was the state of parties; but there were, en dehors of these, four other most important elements in the political system which demand our notice-the Army—the National Guard—the Ministry-and the King.

The Army was, we believe, sound and loyal, but with no enthusiasm towards the King. An army, indeed, can have little enthusiasm except for ancient hereditary right, or recent personal glory -but there was no disaffection, and they were ready to obey their officers, as the officers were on their parts ready to obey the Government. There were, perhaps, 40,000 of them in and immediately round Paris.

The National Guard were about 60,000 men, but far from being unanimous. Theirs is a tiresome and yet harassing kind of service when there is no excitement to compensate the trouble that it gives-it disturbs family comfort without apparently sery. ing the state. The attachment of the citizen soldiers to the Government of their own creation was visibly and not unnaturally diminished by its apparent stability and by the consequent loss of somewhat of their own importance, and more especially by a feeling that the fortifications of Paris and the increased power of the army had afforded the Government a new basis, which in some degree superseded them. Certain it is that the wealthier portion of the body, and those on whom the Government had hitherto most confidently relied, had become rather lukewarm, while those of a lower grade, to the amount, it may be, we are informed, safely


estimated at nearly one-third of the whole, or about 20,000 men, were connected—either by actual participation or by unequivocal sympathy-partly with the Republicans, and partly, but in a much larger proportion, with the Communists. Of the other two-thirds a majority were in a state of political indifference. Louis Blanc, in his Histoire de Dix Ans, tells of the measures taken by the Republicans to obtain weight and influence in the National Guard, and of their success—but still the majority was either well affected or neutral. They foresaw no danger-if they had, they would have been very anxious to prevent pillage or social disorder, though they would not have slept a night out of their beds to have decided the rivalry between the centre droit and centre gauche for the ministerial portefeuilles.

The state of the Ministry was, as we have said, apparently solid and prosperous. It comprised, indeed, since the retreat of Marshal Soult, no man of marked eminence but M. Guizot and M. Duchatel—but M. Guizot's talents—the first either in the tribune or in council—the purity of his private and his public life-the sobriety, consistency, and elevation of his views, his zeal for the interests and glory of France, combined with sincere wishes for the peace of the world, would have sufficed to inspire general confidence in his administration. But the Government had lately suffered in public estimation by some extraneous circumstances : amongst these was the detection of two Ex-Cabinet Ministers, M. Teste and General Cubières, and several subordinate public servants, in corrupt practices. This was only an additional proof of what everybody knew, and the celebrated procès Gisquet and M. Thiers' famous man-of-war, built for, and burned in, one of the July festivals (see Q. R., vol. lii., p. 278), had before judicially revealed, that revolutionary patriots are apt to make very corrupt Ministers, and that corrupt influence had grown and extended in France pari passu with the growth and extension of popular representation; and popular indignation affected to talk very loudly against offences which popular corruption itself had generated. But this, though no doubt it tended to render the system of government what they term déconsidéré, had little to do with the crisis that followed; first, because there was not even whisper against the personal integrity of M. Guizot, or, we believe, any of his existing colleagues; secondly, because in France, as we fear elsewhere, such blots are blots only when they are hit, and that in truth the whole administrative system still retained much of the revolutionary infection of fraud, corruption, and deceit. Indeed, we are convinced by the very criticism of his adversaries that, if M. Guizot had been a less honest man -less'severe,' rigid,' 'intractable, as they call him-had he



been less desirous of raising the wheels of Government out of the miry ruts of corruption in which he had found them, he would have been a more popular Minister. We are in short satisfied that these affairs of Gisquet, Cubières, Teste, and the like, had no share in causing or even exasperating the Febru

ary revolt.

But there was another imputation which, though ridiculously false and unjust, did certainly contribute indirectly to that event. We mean M. Guizot's supposed partiality, nay, subserviency, to English interests. A mere English reader would hardly believe the extent to which this absurd calumny has been carried. One example will suffice. There was, it will be remembered, a Mr. Pritchard, Consul at Otaheite, who suffered some personal injustice in the course of the violences done by the French commander to the poor islanders and their Queen. M. Guizot regretted this violence, and was willing to redress it as far as the passions of France, excited by his own political opponents, would allow; and in this spirit of moderation and justice he acceded to the demand by the British Government of a compensation to Pritchard for his personal grievances. This simple and innocent act was seized upon as a weapon against M. Guizot and his majority in the Chamber which had approved it. It became the war-cry against them at the ensuing elections; and we have before us a small biographical volume of the late deputies, in which the Minister is designated as Sir Guizot, and Milord Guizot, a British subject, a tool of England: his ministry is called Anglo-Guizot, and his friends Pritchardistes, or votans pour l'infame Pritchard. These bêtises are specimens of a system of calumny which, widely circulated and reproduced in a thousand forms, has had, no doubt, some effect with the populace, and perhaps other classes, whose hatred to England blinds them to the falsehood and absurdity of such an imputation.*

The affair of the Spanish marriages-however we may think this country entitled to complain of them-certainly did M. Guizot no harm in France; it proved that at least he was not a tool of England, and as far as it looked like a triumph over British policy, would have added to instead of diminishing his popularity. We shall treat separately and more at large of his position on the Reform question-but conclude this preliminary notice by stating that there was one cause which we never have heard mentioned, but which alone - even without the new revolution - would,

* Even as we revise these pages we read in the Riforme of the 25th March au angry expostulation with the Government for not purifying the army by the expulsion of all the Officiers Pritchardistes!


speedily, as we believe, have terminated M. Guizot's ministry, and that is the indisputable and growing crime of having lasted too long-longer than any since the first revolution of 1789 unless we call Buonaparte's reign a ministry. Of seventeen Cabinets (exclusive of the two provisional ones of 1830) that Louis Philippe had tried, comprising forty-eight statesmen, and varie. gated by above one hundred internal changes — one only, M. Mole's, 1836-9, had attained the age of two years and a half —while that of M. Guizot—we may call it his, though for some years

he had the assistance of the name of Marshal Soult as President of the Council-had for near eight years been enabled, chiefly by his own personal talent and character, to keep standing, amidst a storm of parties and passions, the feeble and fragile monarchy built in such haste and haphazard on that volcanic soil out of the heterogeneous débris of the Revolution, the Restoration, and the Barricades. It is only when we examine the ruins of the edifice that we can fully understand its original instability, and duly appreciate the skill and courage by which the King and his Conservative ministers kept it so long togetheradvancing in so remarkable a degree the internal prosperity of France, and maintaining, in circumstances of great difficulty and frequent danger, the peace of Europe.

We next arrive at the position in which this crisis found the King himself; and we shall say all we need say on that point with not less sincerity, and with more respect, than if he were still at the Tuileries. It may seem paradoxical, but it is, we believe, true, that the weakest point of the King's case was, that his personal character was too much in unison with the political circumstances in which he was placed by a strange, and perhaps a not altogether welcome necessity. His position was what is called a false one; and the turn of his own mind—perhaps from natural disposition, or perhaps rather from the vicissitudes of his antecedent life-was to elude and manage rather than resist and overcome what there was ambiguous or deceptive in his original title. We have always—though quite aware of the existence and activity of an Orleans party-acquitted Louis Philippe himself of treachery, or even hostility, to his exiled kinsmen in 1830, but we never could think that he had done justice to himself. It was a perilous experiment to accept a task on conditions which a man of much less experience ought to have known could never be fulfilled. But we must make large allowances for the difficulties of the moment, and endeavour to figure to ourselves the extremities to which the unbridled populace might have proceeded, if he had not consented to accept the crown on the best terms that could be made. Not only he and his own family, but the deposed branch,


« ZurückWeiter »