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and agitation. Grenoble had been the first French town to proclaim the principles of the revolution. The capital of a frontier province, its population had almost all served in the army, and every village now contained an officer sprung from the ranks, and detesting the awards of 1814 and 1815. An enthusiastic adventurer, named Paul Didier, went amongst these veterans, and professed himself the agent of a society formed to overthrow the Government. His idea was to proclaim the Duke of Orleans, but the Dauphinois would only hear of a Bonaparte, and so he proposed Napoleon the Second. With such uncertain aims he still contrived to recruit some 4,000 of the population of the valley, and marched with them to Grenoble, on the night of the 1st of May, 1816.
The authorities were only warned at the last moment. The first troops who met the insurgents wavered and refused to fire. When the officers seized some muskets and discharged them, the advanced part of the insurgents fled.
And when the main body came up, the soldiers did fire, and Didier's band dispersed. Some thirty of the captives were brought before the prevotal court. The minister of police, consulted by telegraph, replied that no mercy was to be shown save to those who made revelations. But there were none for the poor peasants to make, and twenty-one were shot forthwith, amongst whom was a boy of sixteen, named Miard. Didier escaped at first to Savoy, but was subsequently taken and delivered up. He met his fate with fortitude. A conspiracy about the same time was alleged to have been discovered in the capital. Some twenty persons were implicated, and then selected, though with proof of little more than imprudence against them, to suffer the death of parricides, their hands being cut off before their heads. This, with the trials of some Bonapartist generals, Cambronne, Travot, Delisle and others, occupied the summer of 1816, and instead of attaining their
CHAP. intended aim of terrifying those hostile to the Bourbons,
on the contrary sowed the seeds of more extended and more implacable resentment.
Had this severe repression and punishment of Bonapartists taken place merely in the name and for the cause of public order, the greater part of those who objected would have passed it over. But the Govern. ment and the King were eclipsed by the Count d'Artois, and by the priesthood, who took their places. Even the replacement of M. Vaublanc by M. Lainé did not prevent the prince, as General of the National Guard, from exercising immediate authority; whilst the priesthood filled the country with missions, and disturbed every town with processions (forbidden by the law). And as the counter-revolution thus put on the garb of sanctity, the party of the revolution—that is, of the principle of equality, and of the freedom implied by itaffected Voltairianism and infidelity, which had previously slumbered, but which now awoke, to become popular and national.
Every sensible man, within or without France, saw that the Count d'Artois and the Duchess d'Angoulême were driving the country to a revolution. Foreign courts and diplomatists saw it equally. Those of England, Prussia, Russia, even Austria protested, and plainly told them that unless the red-hot Royalist and Church parties were put down, and a moderate system of government established, it would be impossible for the allies to evacuate France, and abandon it to inevitable revolution. Their remonstrances aroused the Duke of Richelieu. Decazes himself had been long aware of the necessity of getting rid of the Chamber, and the King felt his
prerogative infringed upon and his dignity threatened by it. On the 7th of September, in consequence, appeared a decree dissolving what Louis himself called the Chambre Introuvable.
There was an explosion of rage amongst the ultras.
The Count d'Artois was beside himself. Chateaubriand issued his famous pamphlet of “ La Monarchie selon la Charte,” with a Postscript, expressing doubts that the King could have lent his hand to an act so suicidal. The printer, in haste to insure the publication, had neglected the necessary forms, and this laid the publication open to seizure. M. de Chateaubriand came himself to defend his work, and even excited the printers to resistance. Louis the Eighteenth struck his name off the list of state ministers, and thus deprived him of his pension. But the pamphlet appeared, and Chateaubriand assumed the character of a political martyr. The ultras indeed were in nowise prostrated by the blow which the King had dealt them. They moved heaven and earth to direct the elections still in their favour, repeating everywhere that the King, however determined to yield to his minister, was in heart ultra-Royalist. Had M. Decazes full power he would have been able to influence the elections; but this was denied him. The old electoral body of the highest taxpayers was preserved, and all that Decazes could depend upon, were the numbers of regular functionaries which the Government of 1815 had adjoined to the colleges. But the Duc de Richelieu would not permit even this, neither would he permit the colleges to appoint liberals presidents of colleges. The result was that ministers obtained in the elections a certain majority, of moderates indeed, but still leaving the ultras powerful if not preponderant. A few liberal orators were returned to the new Chamber, of whom Lafitte and D'Argenson were the most noted.
With this Chamber commenced a government which M. Guizot styles that of the Centre, and its enemies that of the Bascule, consisting of moderate and practical politicians, who sought to keep an even and constitutional course between the reactionary royalists and the liberals, behind which imperialists and revolutionists
CHAP rallied. Much has been said of the fatuity of the elder
Bourbons, and of their having learned so little by misfortune, and yet it would be difficult to imagine a fairer trial of moderate policy and constitutional government than that which Louis the Eighteenth essayed from 1816 to 1820. Why did it not succeed? Some will say, that the attempt was hopeless from the beginning. To impose a dynasty upon a country, and then impose upon that dynasty the conditions of governing constitutionally, it was necessary to suppose that the majority was either in favour of the new royal family or capable of rallying to it. Far, however, from being in favour of or capable of rallying to it, the majority of the French were strongly attached to the principle of equality and the riddance of sacerdotal and aristocratic influence and action, which the revolution had accomplished and Napoleon confirmed. Louis the Eighteenth was prepared either to respect these principles or make a compromise with them ; but his family, the younger members of which were destined in all appearance to succeed him, entertained ideas and avowed aims in direct contradiction of all that the country cherished. Hence arose hatred to the Bourbons, which the conduct of Government subsequently to 1820 gradually augmented, till it begot the explosion of 1830.
The true way to have overcome this, and to have rallied to him the moderate politicians and the middleclass public, even Louis the Eighteenth either did not take or did not persevere in. A constitution is idle unless its principles be fully followed out, and be supported by the prevalence of the majority of the nation. If that majority of the French were decidedly hostile to royalty or the Bourbons, his constitutional government was impossible from the first. They were not so, however. Had the King nullified the political influence of his family, and accepted the decision of his people, as announced in the elections, he would have
given office and power to thorough and energetic liberals, CHAP. such as Foy and Périer. These men, instead of betraying him, would have rallied probably to his cause, and carried the Bourbons, or all such Bourbons as trusted them, through the popular storm, which would have broken upon them and not upon the dynasty. But the Bourbons never reconciled themselves to any constitution, or never read one otherwise than that their opinion and party should be dominant. Their lot was thus merely to make the most unhappy experience of a false or half constitution, and necessarily perish with it.
M. Guizot has demonstrated with all the truth of experience the disadvantage of a middle party governing, such a party making an admirable audience or support to a government, but by no means ably administering itself. It committed at this time other faults, no doubt, which M. Guizot does not allude to. The chief one was not to have made the people generally feel the advantage of a constitutional over a despotic system. The mere power of voting for a deputy every five years cannot do this. But institutions of local and municipal liberty, a participation of the country in its own management, would have interested the whole country in the system of representative government.
Centralisation killed all this, and left the country ignorant and indifferent towards political questions. M. Guizot indeed admits the difficulty of making centralisation work with representation. No doubt to maintain the one is to nullify the other. Chateaubriand declared, that seven high functionaries were quite sufficient to exercise all authority in each department. When he enumerated these authorities, some one cried out, “You forget the executioner.” The spirit of a functionary government necessarily depends on the head. To amend it requires a revolution, a substitution of Bonaparte for Bourbon. That is what the want of local liberty leads to. Hence, if the great experiment of a moderate constitutional system foundered