Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

CHAP.
XLIV.

out of which the departmental colleges were to be chosen.*

Talleyrand, in fact, made the same mistake that Napoleon had done, in forming a chamber, consisting of, and chosen by, the wealthier classes. The royal dukes were appointed presidents each of an important college. Prefects of ultra-Royalist stamp were allowed to influence others. There was no idea in the head of either functionary or notable of supporting a government. It was the Royalist party that every one looked to join, to flatter, and to please. There was nothing to be gained or attained by choosing Bonapartists. And as to Liberals and Constitutionalists, independent of the two dynastic parties, it could scarcely be said to exist.

Whilst the country or its upper classes were thus blindly conferring representative power upon men who were fanatical from ultra-royalism, tragical events came to give the interest of actual reality to the fiercest passions of vengeance. Colonel Labedoyère, the first officer who had brought his regiment over to Napoleon in Dauphiny, instead of making his escape on seeing his name in the list of those marked out for trial, ventured to Paris, to visit his wife. He was recognised and arrested early in August, and immediately brought before a court-martial. His family were of old noblesse, which rendered his crime more unpardonable to the ruling party. His defection had been manifest; he did not deny it; and the court-martial could not avoid finding him guilty. But the King might pardon. Every effort was made to induce him to do so. The wife and mother of the condemned fell at the monarch's feet, and at those of the Duchess d'Angoulême. The monarch was inexorable; the daughter of Marie

* There were 366 colleges of is not an election. The list for districts ; but 87 of departments. Paris consisted of 60, of which the Four-fifths of the electors were in departmental electors chose but five. a manner cancelled by the form - See Lafayette's Memoirs, t. y. adopted. The presentation of a list

p. 430,

Antoinette plucked her robe from the hands of the CHAP.

XLIV. suppliants. Labedoyère was executed on the plain of Grenelle. At the same time, Count Lavalette, who was Minister of the Post Office during the Hundred Days, was seized. Ney also.

Ney also. He had sought a retreat at the foot of the Cantal Mountains. A magnificent sabre, the gift of Napoleon, betrayed him, and he was brought to Paris to be tried.

One of the first acts of Prince Talleyrand, when he met the King at Mons, after Waterloo, had been to recommend an amnesty. The tide of reaction had soon borne him and his sovereign far from any such act of generosity and wisdom. He and Fouché were powerless against reaction at home, and equally feeble against the vindictiveness of Alexander. That monarch, in 1814, pretended that Louis the Eighteenth could only succeed by governing in a liberal spirit. But the passions awakened in Congress, and the success with which Talleyrand had then thwarted Russian designs, had more weight than his liberal tendencies in Alexander's mind. That prince now wavered between his old political philanthropy and a kind of mystic theory, which proposed to better the world, not by emancipating, but enslaving it. Instead of courting the converse of enlightened men as he had done the year before, Alexander now joined prayer meetings in dark rooms with Madame de Krudener. And as her coterie was linked with ultra-royalism and ultra-sacerdotalism, Alexander underwent their influence for a time without being aware of it. The Czar had already conceived the project of the Holy Alliance, which was to throw Europe back into all the despotism and cagotism of the past. The civilised world was at the beck and the mercy of a prince who knew not his own mind, and could not keep it to one course for even six months.

Unfortunately, the tide of events, nay, of even constitutional events in France, went with him. It is

CHAP.
XLIV.

the misfortune of the French, writes M. Guizot, that “in great crises, the vanquished become merely the dead.” One thought dominated the electors, to set aside the Bonapartists, and drown the cause like the name in oblivion. A chamber of red-hot Royalists was the consequence, representing the monarchic sentiment perhaps, but not the formal or general conviction of the nation. The electors on this occasion were the better classes, and yet they showed as much mobility as ever did the mob, and passions far more base. For the clamour was not merely for seeing royalism victorious, but reactionary and vindictive.

If Fouché and Talleyrand were unable to resist the extravagant demands of the reactionists about court, and in the society of the capital, they could not hope to survive the meeting of the Chamber, of which the names of the members already announced the most rabid royalism. Fouché had in fact foreseen the coming storm, and alarmed at Royalist predominance had striven to conciliate by his large list of proscriptions. This not softening the rage against him, Fouché turned round and sought by reports and counsels to alarm the King of the danger of reaction, which he said truly enough would, instead of crushing Bonapartism, revive and strengthen it. He was not listened to, but received first a hint, and then an order to accept a foreign embassy and retire. He accepted that of Dresden, which he only reached to be thrust into unpensioned exile.

If not so directly attacked as Fouché by the ultraRoyalists, Prince Talleyrand had an antagonist more formidable in Alexander. The Prussian ministers had drawn up a formal demand of Alsace, part of Lorraine, and the first line of French fortresses on the north." The German powers who were to acquire the

* Stein's Leben ; Leben von Hardenburg.

XLIV.

former strenuously seconded the demand. The Archduke Charles was to found a new kingdom of Lorraine. Austria acquiesced of course. The English plenipotentiaries alone protested loudly, insisted that the French would never bear such spoliation, and that a renewal of the war would ensue. All depended upon Alexander, who conveyed to Louis the Eighteenth the hint, that Russia would support him on one condition, the removal of Talleyrand. Louis could not but consent. And when the prime minister waited on him with the demand to support his cabinet against the Count d'Artois, the monarch hesitated. " In that case I must resign,” said the Prince. “If so,” rejoined the King, coolly, “ I must charge some one else to form a Cabinet."* Talleyrand was thunderstruck at a conclusive consequence so natural, yet so new to him. And the King forthwith entrusted the formation of a ministry to the late Russian governor of Odessa, the Duke de Richelieu. Fouché's successor in the police was M. Decazes, who had at first the gift of pleasing everyone.

The names of the other ministers are not worth recording, the court and King being too jealous of the little talent that the royalists could boast. M. de Chateaubriand was for this thrust aside. Though somewhat annoyed at the removal of Prince Talleyrand, the English plenipotentiaries gave their full support to the Duke de Richelieu, as of course did Alexander, who came completely over to their advice, in setting aside the exorbitant demands of the German Powers, and granting to the restored monarch the conditions of the peace of 1814, slightly modified. On the northern frontier the French were deprived of Landau, Sarre Louis, Phillippeville; and Marienburg and Charleroi were also taken from them. The war contribution was fixed at 700,000,000 of livres, and the military occupation to be four years, not so

Memoirs of Vitrolles, Duvergier d'Hauranne, &c.

СНАР.
XLIV.

*

severe as at first proposed. The Duke de Richelieu could scarcely be induced to sign what he considered so disgraceful a treaty, but consoled himself with the reflection, that “no other minister could have obtained so much.” When he poured forth his complaints to his old master Alexander, the latter showed him a map with the Prussian and Austrian demands upon it, reducing France to the line of the Vosges, and mulcting it of Lille and Nancy. The Richelieu family keep the map.

If Russia had associated itself with England in the aim of being wisely generous and conciliatory to France, England had waived its objections to the Czar's appropriation of Poland. The powers renewed the old antiGallican treaty of Chaumont, in view of any future outburst of France. At the same time, the three powers which had divided Poland felt the necessity of a more intimate pact between them for the preservation of their gains. All three saw that they grasped each of them a new and vast empire, without consulting the wishes of populations, or the natural affection and repugnance of race. All in consequence acknowledged their insecurity, and saw the facilities which each might have in fanning popular movements amongst their neighbours. To obviate and preclude this, Alexander imagined the Holy Alliance, which preached that the despots were to show themselves fathers of their people, and brethren of one another-in other words, that they should rule with the strong hand, and instead of opposing each other, lend mutual aid in the great and necessary task of universal subjection. This was the Holy Alliance.

Lamartine characterises the Chamber of Deputies, which met in 1815, as completely representing the sentiments of the country, its weariness and disgust of Bonapartism, and its sanguine hopes of happiness and freedom

* Lamartine.

« AnteriorContinuar »