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tyrant. Well might Chateaubriand exclaim with bitter irony—“There is, indeed, much courage and danger in braving a Bourbon now a days! A heart of adamant is necessary to confront their lenity! It
is exceedingly glorious to break
the silence which was so steadily maintained under Bonaparte, in order to cast proud truths in the teeth of a monarch, who, seated, after twenty-five years of suffering, on a throne reeking with the blood of his brother, has practised only mercy and forgiveness!” The state of the press in France during the imperial regimé, and of all expression, whether by speech or by writing, exhibited, unquestionably, the most complete and immoral servitude ever known.— Nothing can be conceived more horrible than the organization of the post office establishment, of which the evil principle was hatched before the revolution, and perfected in the application by the police of Bonaparte. We cannot refrain from retracing the outline of this organization, which Louis the 18th attempted to reform. We shall do it in the language of a writer, whose accuracy and veracity are above suspicion. “The administration of the post-office establishment was one of the most powerful auxiliaries of the police. Its least care was that of the mails, or of facilitating correspondence. Its essential business was to break seals, in order to rifle the secrets of families; and, under pretext of the safety of the state, to suspend business, to isolate all affections, to intercept, when it thought proper, all correspondence. It was confided to a director-general, independent of the minister of police, and who conferred directly with the head of the government. Without taking into the account the secret bureaux of Paris, there
was scattered all over France a swarm of clerks, charged with the culling of the letters in every of— fice of any consequence. Letters, which were opened, and which furnished no pretext for detention, were sent to their destination with all the marks of violence. Oftentimes, to save the trouble of a scrutiny, the correspondence of a whole town or country was stopped. Mr. Bourrienne, the directorgeneral, appointed by the provisional government of 1814, in the absence of Lavalette, found in the general fost-office of Paris, on taking charge of that establishment, no less than 550,000 letters from abroad, accumulated during more than seven years.” The following statement of the Abbé de Pradt, in his late work on the Revolution of Spain,t will be . doubted by no one who attended to the affairs of France at the period to which this writer refers. “Napoleon, a great master in the art of tyranny, was also a great master in that of unveiling to his people only so much of what passed in the world, as he wished to be seen by them. Having the theatre at his disposal, he raised or lowered the curtain just in the degree suited to his interests. He handled the machinery, and was the scenepainter. During ten years, France received information only through him, or the channels he regulated. In this period, the lorench, sinut up as it were, in a fold, remained
• of the State of France under the Domination of .\apoleon Bonaparte, by L. A. Pichon, former French charge des affaires near the United States of America. This is one of the ablest and most curious of the works which have been published on the subject of which it treats. The author was well known among us as a gentleman of rare independence of character, and the strictest honour.
f P. 159.
strangers to all that was published in their neighbourhood. He had seized all the avenues; and, while at the distance of seven leagues from France—that is, in England, the movement of the whole universe was, daily, proclaimed and traced, France was fed only with the novels of the Moniteur, and with garbled extracts from documents which were circulating entire and unadulterated throughout the rest of Europe. Things reached such a point, that events of the greatest magnitude, for instance, the battle of Trafalgar, were never mentioned in the French papers. I found, on returning to Paris, the 14th of August, 1808, that scarcely any one was acquainted with the transactions at Bayonne; and, as for what had taken place in Spain between the French and Spanish forces, between Dupont and Castanos, it was hardly suspected. You would have supposed, from what was published, that every thing was going on for the best—that Spain was delighted; the Spanish princes charmed; and the French armies adored in Spain.” In the midst of unprecedented domestic difficulties, with a social and political organization not to reform, but, as it were, to begin, “ with the whole estate of government to be re-acquired,” the progress which the Bourbons made in the course of a few months, or which was made under their administration, in the renovation of the public weal, is well worthy of notice. The mischief of the revolution of the 21st March, 1815, cannot be understood in all its extent, nor the conduct of those who promoted it, be justly appreciated, without a knowledge of the condition of the public affairs of France immediately before that period, and a comparison with what they are at present.
On the score of her finances, let us attend to the language employed by her minister of finance in presenting the budget of 1816 to the Chamber of Deputies. “The auspices under which the year 1815 began ought to be considered as furnishing a source of the most affecting recollections. All France respired anew after twenty-five years of agitation; an honourable treaty had reconciled her with Europe. Her population restored, as it were, to itself, and no longer palsied by the apprehension of being decimated by conscriptions, lent itself on all sides, to that industrious activity which is its natural characteristic. Every thing was concurring to efface the traces of past evils. “The finances tasted of the first fruits of the common prosperity; easy collections render payments regular; credit had, in the space of nine months, raised the inscriptions (public stock) from 45 to 80 —the funds of the arrears were equal to cash; there was a reserve in the treasury of fifty millions of francs at the disposal of ministers. —You know the fatal event which so suddenly blighted its prosperous condition. All the armies of Europe march against France; the reserve of fifty millions disappears; the security for the arrears is seized and consumed; the last remains of the sinking fund are annihilated; France is covered with a million of soldiers, and besides the evils of . foreign war, has to suffer the disorders of a retreating army exasperated by defeat and want.” In addition to this representation we may add, that although a heavy debt of three milliards of francs" weighed upon France, yet. that there was no country of Eu
* About six hundred millions of dol. lars.
rope whose debt was not proportionably greater. At the death of Louis XIV. in 1715, her public debt was even nominally greater than it was in 1814. When the difference in the value of money and the amount of the national income is considered, the case becomes much stronger. The floating debt of England on which so little stress is there laid, exceeded the whole debt of France. The capital of the funded and floating debt of France equalled about the product of four years of her revenue: that of England would scarcely be covered by the proceeds of twelve years of her war-income; that of Austria by twelve or fifteen; of Prussia by seven or eight, and the proportion would scarcely be less in the case of Russia, whose real financial situation cannot be ascertained at a distance, but whose paper was notoriously at a prodigious discount. In point of territory France was reduced only relatively to her exorbitant, unnatural growth under Bonaparte. The France of Louis XIV. and Louis XVI. remained intact; with her “iron frontier,” her line of unrivalled fortresses, and her fertile fields. Notwithstanding her vast losses in the field, her military strength still continued in the highest degree formidable. Her military establishment under Napoleon had been out of all proportion to her pecuniary resources, and consumed no less than three fourths of her revenue. The peace-array of the Bourbons could not be carried farther than 200,000 troops of every description, but the unemployed soldiery consisting of returned garrisons and prisoners of war, amounted to at least a hundred thousand more, while there survived throughout the country a still more consider
able number of able bodied men, unregistered, who had borne arms in the course of the revolution. Add to these, thousands of expirienced officers and many of the best generals of the age. There was, in fact, no power in Europe which could put in motion a greater mass of well-trained combatants, than France. Her artillery and her military apparatus in general, forming what the French style the materiel of war, were by no means deficient. The mighty and completely equipped force which Bonaparte collected for his Fleumish campaign, may serve to illustrate this point, although it does not show the whole copiousness of the military means of France. The Bourbons in a war of defence—the only one in which they could have early engaged,— or, in a truly national contest, could have rallied round the national standard, besides the old troops whose principal aim was employment, a host of gallant men who shrunk back from the banners of Napoleon. At the same time they could have more fully commanded the purse of the na110th. France possessed, before the Re. volution, a federative strength of the greatest importance, as the centre of an extensive system of natural alliances, which the violence of the revolutionary governments had totally destroyed. She could only regain this strength through the character and necessary policy of the Bourbons. In this point of view, their accession was, in some sort, an equivalent for the losses she had sustained in the defeat of Bonaparte. Her politicians were not long in discovering and boasting that Europe, while the Bourbons reigned, could not have even the pretext of a common in*
terest against her; that, in every war in which she might be engaged, she must find allies in several powers whose interests would be obviously inseparable from hers. The career of moderation, mediation, and protecting diplomacy, so wisely recommended to her cabinet by the Fleurys, the Vergennes, and the Ségurs, was known to be not less a matter of inclination than of compulsion with Louis XVIII. and its efficacy in attracting conjunctions duly estimated. Hence, nothing was wanting to France, but a belief among the foreign governments, which it depended upon herself to establish, of the stability of her interior organization, to give her a power of opinion which would have fully compensated for her loss of territory. The Bourbons, although they did not hesitate to express in strong terms their gratitude to the monarchs who had co-operated in their restoration, and who were acknowledged on all hands to have
merited this sentiment from them
and from the people, were not insensible to the magnitude of the national resources. Their representatives abroad maintained the tone and port suitable to a firstrate power. They appeared on equal terms with the plenipotentiaries of the coalition at the congress of Vienna. They held a language which was even taxed with arrogance, and might well occasion surprise in those who knew not the light in which France was still to "be viewed. Under a consciousness of her great residuary and freshly acquired vigour, the domestic enemies of the Bourbons have fallen into the inconsistency of accusing them on the one hand, of weakening the nation abroad, and the Allies on the other, of conniving or rejoicing at the return of
Bonaparte from a jealousy of the too rapid reproduction of her resources and spirit under the peaceable policy of the legitimate sovereign. In truth, her already ac. knowledged rank was high enough,
her prospects all sufficient, for ra.
tional pride and enlightened patriotism. Of these the pretensions will be always limited, and would naturally be more moderate, after a catastrophe full of admonition, but not humiliating or degrading, as exorbitant vanity or profligate ambition might assert and, perhaps, believe. The best authority on this head generally, must be that of the writer whom we are about to guote, a man who had filled the highest diplomatic stations under Bona. parte, and whose means of infor. mation, as to details, were the most ample. “Eight months have scarcely elapsed,” says the Baron de Bignon, “since the most mira. “culous of events has restored re“pose to Europe, in restoring the “old race of her kings to France. “A mild calm forms an extraor. “ dinary contrast with the violent “agitation to which it has suc“ceeded, and yields a kind of de“light almost unknown to us. We “may now calculate on the mor“ row, and may indulge ourselves “ the more freely in this new born “satisfaction and confidence, be“cause we know that France still “ possesses what is sufficient to “ maintain her in the first rank of “great powers, and raise her to “the highest point of national opu. “ lence.” “The simple exposition of facts “ is sufficient to prove that our “situation in the political sphere, “is, notwithstanding the reduction “of our territory, highly advan“tageous, and that, if France have “no longer the strength necessary
“ for the subjection of the conti“nent, she has still enough left to “ preserve, instead of the prepo“tency which consults self alone, “ that moderate influence of which “ the utility is the more certain “inasmuch as it is just, and fa“vourable to the interests of all “ parties. Our government will no “ longer be one of fits and starts; “—we shall no longer be constant“ly exposed to the caprices of for“ tune;—be staked as it were on “ the throw of the die. We have “ now a Future, and a settled posi“tion, while the rest of Europe “ is yet to be arranged.” With a general aspect of things so consolatory and encouraging, with a scheme of administration so benign when compared to the withering and chaotic rule of Bonaparte, how did it happen, that the Bourbons were driven before him from their capital and kingdom? The first causes of this catastrophe are to be found in their own policy of universal conciliation and in the undistinguishing forbearance of the allies. To place Bonaparte invested with such means and prerogatives as those which he carried away with him, on the island of Elba —from which, according to the declaration made by Lord Castlereagh on the 19th April 1815, in Parliament, the whole British navy would have been insufficient to prevent his escape—in contact as it were with Italy, of which his brother-in-law filled the most considerable throne,—within reach of the clubs of Paris, while more then a hundred thousand of his veterans remained embodied, and the generals of his creation con
* A Comparative Estimate of the Financial, Military, Political and Moral State of France. By thc Baron de Bignon, &c. &c. Paris, 1814.
tinued at their head and in the administration of the war-office,—to evacuate at once the whole of the French territory, was, on the part of the Allies, to assure his triumphant re-entry into Paris. For Louis XVIII. to delegate nearly the whole power of government through all its gradations and branches to the devoted functionaries of the late despotism, to the great and small demagogues and adventurers of the revolution, regicides and Septembrizers included, to rely upon them for the support and consolidation of his throne, was to draw down, inevitably, speedy ruin upon his own head, and to prepare fresh convulsions for France. A collation of the Royal Almanack of Paris for 1814, with the imperial one of the preceding year, and the Biographical Dictionary of the Revolution, will explain how entirely he was at the mercy of this description of his subjects. Unless the Allies had pursued the French armies to total destruction, or retained in France a force such as they now have in that country, the course of conduct just mentioned was perhaps unavoidable for Louis; the more, as the Fouchés, the Soults, the Carnots, shared with him the highest courtesy and favour of the allied monarchs, instead of being shunned and proscribed. Whether all that was thus done was the result of necessity or false calculation, the consequences were not the less certain. It is well worth while to pause here, and turn to the opinions uttered in 1793 by Mr. Burke, contemplating the possible restoration of the Bourbons at that period, and to compare them with what we have seen in the case under consideration. The following are passages from his Remarks on the