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CHAP the military glory and hardihood of the country. A few XLIV.
weeks before the catastrophe of Ney, Murat met a similar fate on the coast of Calabria, whither he had been lured by Bourbon emissaries. The Turks think that when they have slain the chief men of any party or enterprise, they extinguish it for ever. And they may be right for Turkey. But in Europe principles survive men, and instead of being crushed by the fall of their champions, very often gather strength from these having been sacrificed.
The day after the execution of Ney, which took place on the 7th of December, ministers brought down to the Chamber a law of amnesty, excepting those already doomed to death or exile in the lists of Fouché. An additional clause banished the family and the relatives of the Bonapartes. It was a great mistake of the King and of Talleyrand not to have issued at once the amnesty, which was promised from Cambray, making such exceptions as might reasonably satisfy justice. Fouché's list was no doubt intended for this purpose. But the King's proclamation unfortunately deferred the composition of such list to the Chamber, which Fouché's did not satisfy. M. de la Bourdonnaye had instead at once proposed to exile or execute all who had taken office or exercised command during the Hundred Days, which was to proscribe the whole army and the greater part of the civilians. In lieu of the amnesty proposed by the minister, with the exception of Fouché's list, the commission of the Chamber adopted very nearly La Bourdonnaye’s proscription of Bonapartists, ranged in three categories.* That furious Royalist supported his proposal in a speech which chiefly resembled and recalled the ideas of St. Just. Death, nothing but death, would satisfy M. de la Bourdonnaye, who declared, still in
* For what passed in commis from his father, a member of the sion, see Duvergier d'Hauranne's history, who relates what he heard
accord with St. Just, that Terror alone could prevent CHAP. conspiracy. Whilst the ultra-Royalists were thus, like hounds in chase, foaming at the mouth for the blood of their enemies, the day of Lavalette's execution approached. Ministers were for pardoning and the Chamber for punishing. His flight filled the ultraRoyalists with rage. They prepared their categories. They accused the ministers of having allowed Lavalette to escape, nay threatened to impeach them for it. These in turn threatened to dissolve the Chamber. * It is to be noted, that even those leaders of the Royalist party who afterwards saw the necessity of moderation, nay of semi-liberalism, such as Chateaubriand and Villèle, were zealous supporters of La Bourdonnaye and his categories. A compromise, however, took place between them and the Government. Even this could only be effected by the Duc de Richelieu invoking the aid and announcing the resolution of the King not to sanction the large proscription and confiscation of M. de la Bourdonnaye. He agreed that those marked out for exile should suffer the penalty without trial. When afterwards the categories were put to the vote, they were rejected by a majority of nine. So narrowly did the country escape the proscription of the White Jacobins.
These debates necessarily produced a deep schism in the Chamber. All were Royalist, but Royalist in different degrees. Some, those who grouped round the Count d'Artois, were for re-edifying the past and restoring the old state of things, nay, a far worse than that which existed previous to 1789. Then indeed the King was nominally despot, the Church and aristocracy dominant in society and endowed with many privileges. But the King's power was then easily defied, and the aristocracy had no political influence. Were the
CHAP. squirearchy and clergy to become in 1816 masters of
the legislature, they would wield a power far greater and more galling than they possessed in 1788; the nation being completely opposed to such power and the use made of it, another revolution sooner or later was inevitable.
The King and the moderate Royalists sought to avoid this, and there came naturally to be formed around Louis the Eighteenth a middle party of moderation, holding the fittest opinions for place. Their pretensions exasperated the ultra-Royalists and their leaders, for these were eager not merely to apply their principles, but to grasp office. Louis the Eighteenth wished to avoid both. He doubted the wisdom, and set aside the influence of his brother, and determined, as far as he was able, to uphold moderate ministers and a middle party. This flung the majority of the Assembly to aim at overruling the King, a policy which not only the more vio. lent adopted, but even such men as Chateaubriand and Villèle.
The electoral law became the field of battle for the parties. According to the charter, one-fifth of the Chamber was to be renewed annually. It was necessary to fix by what law. Ministers prepared one in December (1815). It was highly conservative, especially from having two degrees of election. A cantonal assembly was to choose the electors. It was composed, like the Imperial colleges, of the highest taxpayers, but was swelled by the functionaries of the district, civil, military and clerical, thus giving increased electoral influence to the Government employés. Referred to a commission, of course in the interests of the majority, M. de Villèle, its reporter, superseded the ministerial plan of a functionary body of electors by an apparently more liberal one, but really placing the elections in the hands of the squirearchy and the agricultural interests, and refusing all salary or indemnity to the deputies. This was an
approach to the English system; and M. de Villèle CHAP. sought to render the rural proprietors not only masters of the elections, but gifted with administrative power in their locality, another imitation of the English system. But this, however it succeeded in England, would in France have placed the popular masses at the mercy of the hobereaux, as the liberals denominated the squires. The scheme might have been most acceptable to a House of Lords; but the French Senate was composed chiefly of old functionaries, and these, opposed to a mere landed aristocracy, threw out the bill. Subsequently, when ministers took advantage of this to announce that the Chamber should be renewed by one-fifth, according to the old electoral law, the Assembly passed a resolution that it must not be so, and that the Chamber should be re-elected in toto, or else its session continued.
On a subject still more imminent and important the Chamber was at variance with the minister. The Hundred Days had thrown the Treasury into disarray. The arrangements of Baron Louis no longer sufficed. To the ordinary expenditure of 525,000,000 francs, nearly 300,000,000 additional were due to the allies as war contributions and indemnity. The Chamber, chiefly composed of rural proprietors, stood aghast at the plans of Corvetto, the finance minister. He proposed to pay all the arrears, the debts of the Hundred Days included, by bonds at 8 per cent., mortgaged on the state forests. These had been Church property, which the Royalist Chamber looked to restore. It set aside Corvetto's proposal, and even his predecessor's arrangements, and merely offered to pay the whole arrears in 5 per cent. stock. This brought but 60 in the market, which would mulct the creditors of one-half their claims. What creditor, exclaimed M. Bonald, ever gets more than a percentage of what is due to him? The finance minister's plan was to increase the taxes on land. The Chamber begged to transfer this burden to houses and
similar property. The Duc de Richelieu was obliged to submit to these hard conditions. The Duke of Wellington and Count Pozzo, alarmed at seeing the Chamber take the conduct of even financial affairs into their own hands, remonstrated with the King. Louis the Eighteenth made no reply, but he meditated not the less withdrawing his neck from the ultra-Royalist yoke.
What filled the measure of the King's disgust with the Chamber was, the kind of conspiracy into which its leading members entered to restore the Church to its supremacy. Louis retained much of the Voltairian spirit of the preceding century. He bore in mind the Ligue, and the several occasions in which the Church had dominated and depopularised the dynasty. The efforts of the Congregation, as the new ultra-Catholic association was called, now alarmed him. The ministry had vastly increased the yearly allotment to the Church. The Chamber required that this should be made a law, and the Church at the same time rendered capable of accepting and inheriting landed property. The ecclesiastical rule prohibiting divorce was re-established. Attempts were made to restore the civil registers to the clergy, and to hand over the university and the whole direction of public education to ecclesiastics. То stop this flood of reaction, Government prorogued the Chamber in April. This was followed by the substitution of Lainé, a semi-liberal constitutionalist, for M. de Vaublanc, who leaned to the Count d'Artois in conducting the home office, and who had allowed the prince to convert his title of General of the National Guard throughout the kingdom into almost an administration.*
Whilst the marriage of the Duke of Berry with a Neapolitan princess gave some liveliness to the court, a movement at Grenoble occurred to fill it with anxiety
* To get a full idea of the in M. de Vaublanc and those of M. de eptness of the ultra--Royalist party, la Rochefoucault. one has but to read the memoirs of