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TREATY OF CHATILLON
part, ni dans le bien, ni dans le mal. On prétend qu'il a dit : J'ai tant de conscrits à dépenser par an. Ce propos est vraisemblable; car Bonaparte a souvent assez méprisé ses auditeurs pour se complaire dans un genre de sincérité qui n'est que de l'impudence. — Jamais il n'a cru aux sentimens exaltés, soit dans les individus, soit dans les nations; il a pris l'expression de ces sentimens pour de l'hypocrisie.”vol. ii. p. 391, 392.
Bonaparte, Madame de Staël thinks, had no alternative but to give the French nation a free constitution; or to occupy them in war, and to dazzle them with military glory. He had not magnanimity to do the one, and he finally overdid the latter. His first great error was the war with Spain ; his last, the campaign in Russia. All that followed was put upon him, and could not be avoided. She rather admires his rejection of the terms offered at Chatillon; and is moved with his farewell to his legions and their eagles at Fontainebleau. She feels like a Frenchwoman on the occupation of Paris by foreign conquerors; but gives the Emperor Alexander full credit, both for the magnanimity of his conduct as a conqueror, and the generosity of his sentiments on the subject of French liberty and independence. She is quite satisfied with the declaration made by the King at St. Ouen, and even with the charter that followed though she allows that many further provisions were necessary to consolidate the constitution. All this part of the book is written with great temperance and reconciling wisdom. She laughs at the doctrine of legitimacy, as it is now maintained; but gives excellent reasons for preferring an ancient line of princes, and a fixed order of succession. Of the Ultras, or unconstitutional royalists, as she calls them, she speaks with a sort of mixedanger and pity; although an unrepressed scorn takes the place of both, when she has occasion to mention those members of the party who were the abject flatterers of Bonaparte during the period of his power, and have but transferred, to the new occupant of the throne, the servility to which they had been trained under its late
“ Mais ceux dont on avoit le plus de peine à contenir l'indignation vertueuse contre le parti de l'usurpateur, c'étoient les nobles ou leurs adhérens, qui avoient demandé des places à ce même usurpateur pen
CONDITIONS OF BOURBON RESTORATION.
dant sa puissance, et qui s'en étoient séparés bien nettement le jour de sa chute. L'enthousiasme pour la légitimité de tel chambellan de Madame mère, ou de telle dame d'atour de Madame seur, ne connoissoit point de bornes ; et certes, nous autres que Bonaparte avoit proscrits pendant tout le cours de son règne, nous nous examinions pour savoir si nous n'avions pas été ses favoris, quand une certaine délicatesse d'âme nous obligeoit à le défendre contre les invectives de ceux qu'il avoit comblés de bienfaits.” — vol. iii. p. 107.
Our Charles II. was recalled to the throne of his ancestors by the voice of his people; and yet that throne was shaken, and, within twenty-five years, overturned by the arbitrary conduct of the restored sovereigns. Louis XVIII. was not recalled by his people, but brought in and set up by foreign conquerors.
It must therefore be still more necessary for him to guard against arbitrary measures, and to take all possible steps to secure the attachment of that people whose hostility has so lately proved fatal. If he like domestic examples better, he has that of his own Henri IV. before him. That great and popular prince at last found it necessary to adopt the religious creed of the great majority of his people. In the present day, it is at least as necessary for a less popular monarch to study and adopt their political one. Some of those about him, we have heard, rather recommend the example of Ferdinand VII.! But even the Ultras, we think, cannot really forget that Ferdinand, instead of having been restored by a foreign force, was dethroned by one; that there had been no popular insurrection, and no struggle for liberty in Spain; and that, besides the army, he had the priesthood on his side, which, in that country, is as omnipotent, as in France it is insignificant and powerless, for any political purposes. We cannot now follow Madame de Staël into the profound and instructive criticism she makes on the management of affairs during Bonaparte's stay at Elba;
though much of it is applicable to a later period and though we do not remember to have met any where with so much truth told in so gentle a manner.
Madame de Staël confirms what we believe all wellinformed persons now admit, that for months before the return of Bonaparte, the attempt was expected, and in
RETURN FROM ELBA. — WATERLOO.
some measure prepared for — by all but the court, and the royalists by whom it was surrounded. When the news of his landing was received, they were still too foolish to be alarmed; and, when the friends of liberty said to each other, with bitter regret, “ There is an end of our liberty if he should succeed--and of our national independence if he should fail,” — the worthy Ultras went about, saying, it was the luckiest thing in the world, for they should now get properly rid of him; and the King would no longer be vexed with the fear of a pretender! Madame de Staël treats with derision the idea of Bonaparte being sincere in his professions of regard to liberty, or his resolution to adhere to the constitution proposed to him after his return. She even maintains, that it was absurd to propose a free constitution at such a crisis. If the nation and the army abandoned the Bourbons, nothing remained for the nation but to invest the master of that army with the dictatorship; and to rise en masse, till their borders were freed from the invaders. That they did not do so, only proves that they had become indifferent about the country, or that they were in their hearts hostile to Bonaparte. Nothing, she assures us, but the consciousness of this, could have made him submit to concessions so alien to his whole character and habits — and the world, says Madaine de Staël, so understood him. Quand il a prononcé les mots de Loi et Liberté, l'Europe s'est rassurée: Elle a senti que ce n'étoit plus son ancien et terrible adversaire.” She
passes a magnificent encomium on the military genius and exalted character of our Wellington; but says he could not have conquered as he did, if the French had been led by one who could rally round him the affections of the people as well as he could direct their soldiers. She maintains, that after the battle, when Bonaparte returned to Paris, he had not the least idea of being called upon again to abdicate; but expected to obtain from the two chambers the means of renewing or continuing the contest. When he found that this was impossible, he sunk at once into despair, and resigned himself without a struggle. The selfishness
MADAME DE STAËL--HER NOTIONS OF ENGLAND. 101
which had guided his whole career, disclosed itself in naked deformity in the last acts of his public life. He abandoned his army the moment he found that he could not lead it immediately against the enemy — and no sooner saw his own fate determined, than he gave up all concern for that of the unhappy country which his ambition had involved in such disasters. He quietly passed by the camp of his warriors on his way to the port by which he was to make his own escape—and, by throwing himself into the hands of the English, endeavoured to obtain for himself the benefit of those liberal principles which it had been the business of his life to extirpate and discredit all over the world.
At this point Madame de Staël terminates somewhat abruptly her historical review of the events of the Revolution ; and here, our readers will be happy to learn, we must stop too. There is half a volume more of her work, indeed, - and one that cannot be supposed the least interesting to us, as it treats chiefly of the history, constitution, and society of England. But it is for this very reason that we cannot trust ourselves with the examination of it. We have every reason certainly to be satisfied with the account she gives of us; nor can any thing be more eloquent and animating than the view she has presented of the admirable mechanism and steady working of our constitution, and of its ennobling effects on the character of all who live under it. We are willing to believe all this too to be just; though we are certainly painted en beau. In some parts, however, we are more shocked at the notions she gives us of the French character, than flattered at the contrast exhibited by our own. In mentioning the good reception that gentlemen in opposition to government sometimes meet with in society, among us, and the upright posture they contrive to maintain, she says, that nobody here would think of condoling with a man for being out of power, or of receiving him with less cordiality. She notices also, with a very alarming sort of admiration, that she understood, when in England, that a gentleman of the law had actually refused a situation worth 60001. or 70001. a
102 MADAME DE STAËL— OUR MANNERS IN SOCIETY.
year, merely because he did not approve of the ministry by whom it was offered; and adds, that in France any man who would refuse a respectable office, with a salary of 8000 louis, would certainly be considered as fit for Bedlam: And in another place she observes, that it seems to be a fundamental maxim in that country, that every man must have a place. We confess that we have some difficulty in reconciling these incidental intimations with her leading position, that the great majority of the French nation is desirous of a free constitution, and perfectly fit for and deserving of it. If these be the principles, not only upon which they act, but which they and their advocates avow, we know no constitution under which they can be free; and have no faith in the power of any new institutions to counteract that spirit of corruption by which, even where they have existed the longest, their whole virtue is consumed.
With our manners in society she is not quite so well pleased; — though she is kind enough to ascribe our deficiencies to the most honourable causes. In commiserating the comparative dulness of our social talk, however, has not this philosophic observer a little overlooked the effects of national tastes and habits — and is it not conceivable, at least, that we who are used to it may really have as much satisfaction in our own hum-drum way of seeing each other, as our more sprightly neighbours in their exquisite assemblies? In all this part of the work, too, we think we can perceive the traces rather of ingenious theory, than of correct observation ; and suspect that a good part of the tableau of English society is rather a sort of conjectural sketch, than a copy from real life; or at least that it is a generalization from a very few, and not very common examples. May we be pardoned too for hinting, that a person of Madame de Staël's great talents and celebrity, is by no means well qualified for discovering the true tone and character of English society from her own observation ; both because she was not likely to see it in those smaller and more familiar assemblages in which it is seen to the most advantage, and because her presence must have had the