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possible to shut their eyes to the danger. Every successive CHAP. election, since the coup d'état of September 5, 1816, had proved more unfavourable than the preceding; and the 181 last had turned out so disastrous, both in the general Conversa
setion of Louis results and the character of the individuals returned, that will. and not a doubt could remain that the next would give a decided majority in the Chamber to the declared enemies the election. of the Bourbon family. Immense was the sensation which these untoward results produced at the Tuileries; and the evidence of facts was now too clear and convincing for the king any longer to shut his eyes to the inferences deducible from them. On the evening of the day when intelligence had been received of the return of the Abbé Grégoire, the Count d'Artois thus addressed Louis : “ Well, my brother, you see at last whither they are leading you.” “I know it, my brother,” replied the king, softening his voice, and in an under-tone, “I know it, and will provide against it.” Confidence was by these words immediately re-established between the heir-apparent and the throne. A long and cordial conversation ensued between the two brothers, in the course of which it was agreed that an Electoral Law, which had induced such a succession of defeats to the Government and insults to the throne, evidently required to be altered. The very same evening M. Decazes received orders to prepare a new electoral bill. The minister saw that his master's mind was made up, and at once agreed to do so. M. de Serres, whose early prepossessions and imaginative turn of mind inclined him to the same side, and even to magnify the approaching dangers, readily fell into the same views, and M. Portal, the Minister of Marine, adopted them also. On the other hand, the President, General Dessolles, General Gouvion St Cyr, War Minister, and Baron Louis, the u Finance Minister, were decidedly in favour of the exist- 227;. Cap:
vi. 234, 235; ing system ; so that the Cabinet was divided on the sub- Lac. ii. 339. ject, as well as the country.1
CHAP. When a division had taken place in the Cabinet on so
_ vital a subject as the Electoral Law, it was impossible that
it could be adjusted without a change in the composition Change in of the Ministry. The king and M. Decazes, aware of the the Minis
danger of showing symptoms of division in their own camp, in presence of an enterprising and insatiable enemy, made great efforts to avert the rupture, and laboured hard to convince the Liberal members of the administration that no change involving principle was contemplated, but only such a modification in details as circumstances had rendered necessary. But the ministers adverse to a change stood firm, and resolved to resign rather than enter into the proposed compromise. On the other hand, the king was fortified in his view of the case by the accession of M. Pasquier, who laid before him a very able memoir, in which the dangers of the present law were clearly pointed out, and its further maintenance was shown to be inconsistent with the existence of the monarchy. The Liberal journals, made aware of the danger of their chiefs, sounded the alarm in the loudest possible notes, and praised General Dessolles, General Gouvion St Cyr, and Baron Louis to the skies, as the sole patriotic ministers, and the only ones who had the interest of the people and the support of the national liberties really at heart. But it was all in vain.
The king's mind was made up: the danger was too obvious and pressing to be any longer disregarded ; and as no compromise was found to be practicable, the result was a great and important change in the Ministry. M. Decazes was sent for by the king, and declared President
of the Council. He reserved for himself the situation of 1.Cap; vi. Minister of the Interior, for which his talents and habits Lam. vi.. peculiarly qualified him. M. Pasquier was appointed 228, 229; Lac. ii. 339. Minister of Foreign Affairs; General Latour Maubourg,
Minister-at-War; and M. Roy, Finance Minister. 1
It was comparatively a matter of little difficulty to make
tacks on the
a change in the Ministry, but it was not so easy to see CHAP. how the alteration was to be supported in the Chamber, or rendered palatable to the public press, in both of 1819. which Liberal principles were in the ascendant. Every- Violent atthing depended on the Centre of the Assembly, and to tas
cury, a v new Minissecure its support the new Cabinet Ministers had been try by the
press. taken from its ranks; and to gain time for the parties to arrange themselves, the opening of the Chambers was adjourned to the 29th November. But meanwhile, both the journals and the pamphleteers on the Liberal side, now freed from the restraints of the censorship, commenced a war to the knife with the new Ministry. M. Decazes, so recently the object of general idolatry as long as he headed the movement, was instantly assailed with the most virulent reproaches ; none are so much so as public men who change their line, or are unfaithful to their principles, especially when the change conduces, as in this instance it did, to their own advantage. Nor were publications awanting of a higher stamp, and which had greater weight with persons of thought and reflection. In particular, M. de Stael, son of the illustrious authoress, in a pamphlet of great ability, defended the contemplated change in the Electoral Law, pointed out the evils of the existing system, and proposed, to remedy them, the duplication of the Chamber of Deputies, elections by arrondissements and chief places, and a renewal of the entire Chamber every five years, instead of the annual renewal of a fifth. The Doctrinaires, including M. de Stael, M. Guizot, and M. de Broglie, tendered their powerful support to the new Cabi-, net, demanding only, as a guarantee for its sincerity, two 256, 259; portfolios, one for M. Royer-Collard, and one for M. de 228, 229. Broglie or M. de Barante.1
The king's speech, at the opening of the Chamber on November 29, gave tokens of the apprehensions with which the royal mind was inspired, and of the change of
CHAP. policy which was in contemplation. “ In the midst,"
_ said he,“ of the general prosperity, and surrounded by
19. so many circumstances calculated to inspire confidence, King's there are just grounds for apprehension which mingle speech at opening the with our hopes, and demand our most serious attention. Nov. 29.
A vague but real disquietude has seized every mind; pleased with the present, every one asks pledges for its duration : the nation enjoys, in a very imperfect way, the fruits of legal government and peace ; it fears to see them reft from it by the violence of faction ; it is terrified by the too undisguised expression of its designs. These fears and wishes point to the necessity of some additional guarantee for repose and tranquillity. Impressed with these ideas, I have reverted to the subject which has so much occupied my thoughts, which I wished to realise, but which requires to be matured by experience, and enforced by necessity before it is carried into execution. Founder of the charter, to which are attached the whole interests of my people and my family, I feel that if there is any amelioration which these great interests require, and which should modify some regulating forms connected with the charter, in order the better to secure its power and action, it rests with me to propose it. The moment has come when it is necessary to fortify the Chamber of Deputies, and withdraw it from the annual action of party, by securing it a longer endurance, and one more in conformity with the interests of public order and the exterior consideration of the state. It is to the
devotion and energy of the two Chambers, and their corMoniteur, dial co-operation with my government, that I look for the Nov. 30, 1819; Ann. means of saving the public liberties from license, confirmHist. iii. 2, 3. ing the monarchy, and giving to all the interests guaran
teed by the charter the entire security which we owe to it.”1
It was impossible that words could announce more explicitly a change of policy adopted by the king and the Government; but the result of the first division in the
n the Chamber.
Chamber proved that the extreme Left, reduced to itself, CHAP. could not disturb its movements, and that, if the centre supported Ministers, they would be able to carry through 18 their measures. In the division for the president, M. ComparaLafitte, who had all the extreme Liberal strength, had of parties
ative strength only sixty-five votes, while M. Ravez, who was supported Ch by the Centre and Right, had a hundred and five, and M. de Villèle by the Right alone, seventy-five. This sufficiently proved where the majority was to be found ; but that it could not be relied on to support any change in the Electoral Law was proved by the division on the address, on which Ministers were defeated by a majority of one, the numbers being a hundred and eight to a hundred and seven. The new address, drawn up by the commission which the majority had nominated, bore, “ Why weaken our hopes, and the calmness of our felicity, by unnecessary fears ? The laws are every day meeting with an easy execution ; nowhere is the public tranquillity disturbed ; but it is no doubt true that a vague disquietude has taken possession of the public mind, and a the factions, which attempt no concealment of their pro- iii. 3, 4;
10 Moniteur, jects and their hopes, endeavour to corrupt public opinion, Dec. 2,
1819; Cap. and they would plunge us into licentiousness, in order to vi. 270, 27i. destroy our liberties.” 1
It was too true that the factions made no attempt to conceal their projects, and the impunity with which they Designs of
the Liberals were permitted to carry them on in face of day afforded in Paris. the clearest proof of the weakness of the Government. The following account of the secret associations at this time in Paris, and of their designs, is given by a distinguished writer, who himself has since been, for a brief season, their principal leader : “ At this period,” says Lamartine,“ the opposition, obliged to avoid the light of day, took refuge in secret societies. The spirit of conspiracy insinuated itself into them, under the colour of liberal opinions. Public associations were formed, to