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growing strength of the Liberals. The authorisation of CHAP. Government being necessary for the establishment of a
XLIV. new journal, and the censorship still weighing on the old, the daily press was severely restricted. This had driven writers to more serious and lasting publications, to books and pamphlets, and to periodicals in which bold and well-digested reasoning came forth at stated intervals. The Minerve and Conservateur were the Liberal and Royalist organs, both of them able, and both of them attacking and vilipending the Government, that took up its position between them. If the conscription was little to the taste of the Royalists, St.-Cyr's proposal, to organise the old Imperial veterans as a reserve, was still less so. But they wanted such a France as did not exist, and could not be made to exist. And St.-Cyr's law passed. The Government, whilst abolishing the censorship, prepared to subject them to certain measures of precaution. Liberal and Royalist both exclaimed Villèle demanded the adjunction of a jury composed of the highest tax-payers, as the only tribunal of the press. The Doctrinaires, as the more philosophic of the Liberals were called, strenuously opposed. Camille Jordan and Royer-Collard objected to the seizure of works in the hands of the printer. Ministers felt ashamed of their Royalist allies when these introduced a clause extending penalty and prohibition to old authors, and thus proscribing the works of Voltaire and Rousseau. In disgust at the extravagance, the chamber of peers rejected the law altogether.
What chiefly gave the Cabinet power to resist such defection of the Liberals, joined to the increasing acrimony of the Royalists, was the knowledge that the Duke of Richelieu possessed the confidence and approbation of the allied powers. Both the Emperor of Russia and the English Tory leaders dreaded the Count d'Artois, who was animated with all the spirit of the last Stuarts, and who was taking the evident path to a
catastrophe similar to theirs. The Emperor Alexander, in a visit to Louis the Eighteenth, fully expressed his sanction of the King's policy and of the attitude of the Duke of Richelieu and Decazes. His conversation was indeed like his character, mystic and wavering, but for the moment it was warmly expressed. They therefore besought his powerful protection to lighten the sore burdens of military occupation. He persuaded the plenipotentiaries of the allied powers to meet at Aix-la-Chapelle to take this French demand into consideration. When the occupation of France had been settled in. 1815, it was admitted that this occupation should endure for five years, if necessary, but might under favourable circumstances be limited to three. Notwithstanding the large amount paid, the demands of the allies exceeded a milliard and a half of francs. This was reduced to 320 millions of francs, and covered by a loan, adding seventeen millions annual interest to the French debt. The 5 per cent. was then at 78 francs. Thus provided, the Duke of Richelieu went to Aix, when great was his astonishment and indignation to find that the ultra-Royalists had forwarded a secret note, deprecating the withdrawal of the allied forces, and representing the country as relapsing into the hands of the chiefs of the revolution from the liberalism of the Duke of Richelieu and M. Decazes.
Despite of such intermeddling, the Duke of Richelieu obtained at Aix the speedy evacuation of the French territory. The continental sovereigns were all in want of money. And the Duke of Wellington, though in the enjoyment of high position and emolument as commander-in-chief of the occupying armies, still did his utmost to put an end to a state of things so galling and onerous to France. The historian Capefigue, the confidant of M. Decazes, does full justice to the disinterestedness and liberal conduct of the English Duke, who had throughout been most conservative of French
interests and French pride, notwithstanding the arm of CHAP. the assassin having been raised against him.
Although the note and remonstrance of the ultraRoyalists, deprecating the sudden and fatal withdrawal of the allied troops, did not prevent the sovereigns from fulfilling their promise to the Duke of Richelieu, and acquiescing in the arrangements for the evacuation of the French territory, still it rendered them more alive to the resuscitation of the Liberal or, as some considered, the Imperialist and Revolutionary party. French elections took place at this period of 1817, during which Alexander and the King of Prussia paid a short visit to Paris. But when the result of the elections, and especially the return of Benjamin Constant for Paris, was made known at Aix, the foreign monarchs and diplomatists showed misgivings. The unfortunate nervousness of French statesmen and parties at the least rise or augmentation of power in one or other party has been mentioned. But the allied sovereigns, and even English ministers, were quite as nervous, showing alarm one day at ultra-Royalism, the next at ultra-Liberalism, and driving the French king and his counsellors to and fro, as if the State were a ship whose helm was to be put about at every swelling of the wind. The Duke of Richelieu was as little experienced in constitutional government as the Czar, and when the latter evinced some misgivings, the Duke felt himself bound to do the same. So because one or two Liberals had been elected in the capital, the Duke promised his great patron and diplomatic friends to set about changing the law of election.
The Duke's intention was soon known to the Royalists, who promised him every support. This kind of accord took place without the Duke informing either the King or M. Decazes. In England we should call this treachery, in the Duke it was political ignorance. M. Decazes, however, got wind of it, and hastened to offer his resignation as minister of police.
A financial crisis came for the moment to suspend the ministerial one. When the loan for paying the allies was about to be contracted for by the house of Baring, the Paris bankers murmured and insisted on having it themselves. They were gratified, and the demand for the new stock caused it to rise greatly. This was the greater temptation for those who had taken the stock to sell. There ensued a sudden fall of 20 per cent., and a subsequent panic. The finance minister Corvetto was superseded by Count Roy.
Louis the Eighteenth has himself left an account of the intrigue of the Duke of Richelieu, in concert with the Royalists, to change the electoral law, and consequently to get rid of M. Decazes. Them a neuvre was difficult, for the strength of parties in the chamber was nearly equal, the Right and Right Centre prevailing, however, over the left, which comprised the decided Liberals, and the Left Centre, including the Doctrinaires. A portion of the regular supporters of the ministry going over to the former would at once change the majority. This was arranged in a coterie, over which the Cardinal de Beaufort presided, and which his friend, the Duke of Richelieu, joined. In consequence, the sident, vice-president, and secretaries, of the chamber were all chosen from the Right or ultra-Royalist side. Ravez was preferred as president to De Serres. The Duke of Richelieu resigned, as did Lainé, Molé, and Decazes. The King, smothering his resentment, then asked the Duke to form another ministry, who was ready with his reply, that he was willing to do so, on condition that M. Decazes should not only quit the ministry but the country. This the monarch thought hard, for he had himself procured the recent marriage of his
young minister with the daughter of Count St.Aulaire, and to condemn the newly-married couple to exile was ungenerous. The King, however, deemed the Duke of Richelieu a necessary minister up to the time
of the evacuation of France by the allies. He therefore subscribed to all his conditions, and M. Decazes was appointed ambassador to St. Petersburg. The Duke of Richelieu then set about forming a ministry, but soon found it impossible. His semi-Liberal colleagues, such as Lainé and Roy, could not agree with Royalists such as Villèle, whom the Duke wished to bring into office. He was compelled to announce to the King his failure in forming a ministry.
The ball thus came back into the hands of M. Decazes. He did not, however, assume the post of prime minister, but left it nominally to General Dessolles, a comrade of Moreau, who enjoyed the countenance of Alexander. De Serres became minister of justice. Baron Louis resumed the finance department. Decazes assumed the home office. Freed from timid and reactionary colleagues, the latter embarked at once on a policy which ought and did indeed for a time satisfy even the extreme Liberals. The army, once more entrusted to St.-Cyr, saw its old Imperialist officers reinstated. In the home department, Decazes appointed Liberal prefects, and got rid of the ultra-Royalist functionaries, who had neutralised every conciliatory effort of the Government.
Strange to say, it was the chamber of peers that took most offence at this, and now led the way
opposition to Decazes. That minister's programme was to stand by his electoral law. The upper chamber passed a vote condemnatory of it. The minister, supported by the King, replied by the promotion of sixty-three peers, many of them Imperialists; Davoust, Jourdan, Mortier, Moncey, Soult, and Lefebvre were of the number. By this bold measure, the upper chamber was rendered what the lower had become, national. The King was in the same way of thinking. And could the Liberals have observed moderation, and supported Decazes, instead of weakening him by ex