Chap. policy which was in contemplation. "In the midst," lx' said he, "of the general prosperity, and surrounded by

1819- so many circumstances calculated to inspire confidence, King-s' there are just grounds for apprehension which mingle opcn"ingathe with our hopes, and demand our most serious attention. N0T29. 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 cor'jMonitear, dial co-operation with my government, that I look for the 1819; Ann. means of saving the public liberties from license, confirm2,'a'"' ing the monarchy, and giving to all the interests guaranteed 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 Chamber proved that the extreme Left, reduced to itself, Chap. could not disturb its movements, and that, if the centre IX'

[ocr errors]

supported Ministers, they would be able to carry through ( their measures. In the division for the president, M. ComparaLafitte, who had all the extreme Liberal strength, had oVpaS"1 only sixty-five votes, while M. Ravez, who was supported cumber, by the Centre and Right, had a hundred and five, and M. de Villele 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 i Ann H. the factions, which attempt no concealment of their pro- 3'4;

li.i i ..... Moniteur,

jeets and their hopes, endeavour to corrupt public opinion, Jj«»2> and they would plunge us into licentiousness, in order to vi.27o,2?i. 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 were permitted to carry them on in face of day afforded[^Paris!*1* 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

Chap. defend, by all legal means, the liberty of thought, of

_ opinion, and of the press. MM. de Lafayette, d'Ar

1819- genson, Lafitte, Benjamin Constant, Gevaudeau, Mechin, Gassicourt, de Broglie, and others, impressed the course of public action. M. de Lafayette, in his hotel, held meetings of still more secret and determiued committees. Every defensive arm gained by our institutions to public freedom, became, in their hands, an aggressive arm for the purposes of conspiracy. Secret correspondences were established between the persons proscribed at Brussels and the malcontents in Paris. They spoke openly of changing the dynasty. The King of the Netherlands, it was said, secretly favoured their projects, and hoped to elevate his house on the ruins of the Bourbons. Negotiations were attempted between the Prince of Orange, the proscribed persons, and Lafayette. The threads of the conspiracy extended into Germany, Italy, Spain, Piedmont, and Naples. The spirit of freedom which had roused Europe against Napoleon, seeing itself menaced in France, everywhere prepared to defend itself. Carbonarism was organised in Italy, anti-monarch liberty at Cadiz, and a general union in the universities of Germany. One of the young members of that sect, the iL»m vi ^udent Sand, assassinated, in cold blood, Kotzebue, who 219,220.' formerly enjoyed an extensive popularity, but who was supposed to be sold to Russia.1 28 A full account of these important changes in Europe Now E'lee- has already been given; but their influence was great proposed and decided on the measures of Government at Paris, verament! It was no longer a question, whether the Electoral Law should be modified—the only point was, to what extent. The Cabinet, in conjunction with M. de Broglie, M. Guizot, M. Vilmain, and the Doctrinaires, drew up a bill, the heads of which were—1st, That the Chamber should be renewed entire every five or seven years, and not a fifth every year as at present; 2d, That the number of its members should be considerably augmented; 3d, That the Chap. colleges of arrondissemcnt as they now stood should be IX' broken into smaller divisions. The Doctrinaires agreed to 1819support this bill with their whole weight from the centre of the Chamber, and it was hoped it would pass. But great delay took place in adjusting the details, and the Liberals took advantage of the time thus gained to rouse the country against the Government. Petitions against the Ministers were got up in all quarters, and the violence of the press exceeded anything ever witnessed since the days of the Convention. In vain were prosecutions instituted against the delinquents: the juries, in the face of the clearest evidence, constantly acquitted the persons brought before the tribunals. Caulaincourt openly saluted Napoleon as Emperor in his writings, and Beranger lent to his cause the fascination of genius and the charms of poetry. The intelligence daily received of the progress of the revolution in Spain, and the fermentation in Germany and Italy, added to the general excitement; and the Napoleonists, deeming the realisation of their hopes approaching, everywhere struck the chord which still vibrated so powerfully in the hearts of the French ; and the mighty image of the Emperor, long banished from the lips, but treasured in the hearts of ^j;v^h men, again seemed to arise in gloomy magnificence on 347,' 353.' the extreme verge of the distant ocean.1

The project ultimately agreed on for the modification 2g of the Electoral Law was one founded in wisdom, and Electoral which, by providing a remedy against the great danger of a^edon,y the existing system—the uniform representation, and con- veramcntT sequent preponderance of one single class in society— promised to establish it in France on the only basis on which it can ever be beneficial or of long duration in an old and mixed community. It obtained the concurrence both of the Royalists and the Doctrinaires. It was agreed that the Chamber of Deputies was to be composed of

Chap. 430 members, instead of 260, the present number—258 Ix' being returned by the colleges of arrondissements, and 1819. j ^2 by the colleges of departments. The colleges of arrondissements were to appoint the electors of the colleges of departments among those who paid 1000 francs (£40) of annual taxes; the half of all taxes, to make up the quota, was to be of land-tax; the elections were to be made by inscriptions on a bulletin; the 172 departmental deputies were to be elected immediately; the Chamber to go on without renewal in any part for seven years. The material thing in this proposed law was, , Cap T. that a different class of electors was introduced for the 23ov 292; colleges of departmeuts—viz., persons paying 1000 francs '236,237. of annual taxes, instead of 300, which constituted the franchise at present.1 30 The project no sooner got wind than the Liberals violent op- sounded the alarm. The violence of the press became. theLibe-° insupportable. Assassination was openly recommendrilN ed; Brutus and Cassius, Sand and Carlisle, Riego and Quiroga the leaders of the Spanish revolution, were lauded to the skies as the first of patriots. In a pamphlet by Saint Simon it was asserted that the murder of the king, of the Duke d'Angouleme, and the Duke do Berri, would be less to be deplored than that of the humblest mechanic, because persons could more easily be found to act the part of princes than of common workmen. But, dangerous as these publications were, all attempts to check them proved entirely nugatory; for neither weight of evidence nor magnitude of delinquence had the slightest effect in inducing the juries to convict. The contest ere long assumed the most virulent aspect; the Government and Royalists felt that they had no chance of saving the monarchy but by a 290 p*94- cnange m ^e Electoral Law ; and the Liberals and revoi*ra-2vi/ lutionists were resolute to prevent, at all hazards, any uc! ii. 353. change in the present law, which promised so soon to subvert it.2

« ForrigeFortsett »