Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

miners got into the houses on each side, broke through the party walls, and killed the men at the windows.'

•Those three days,' he continued, 'impress strongly on my mind the dangers of our present state.

• It is of no use to take up pavements and straighten streets, and pierce Paris by long military roads, and loop-hole the barracks, if the Executive cannot depend on the army. Ditches and bastions are of no use if the garrison will not man them.

•The new law of recruitment, however, may produce a great change. Instead of 80,000 conscripts, 120,000 are to be taken each year. This is about all that are fit for service. They are required to serve for only two years. If the change ended there our army would be still more a militia than it is now. It would be the Prussian Landwehr. But those entitled to their discharge are to be enticed by higher pay, promotions, bounties, and retiring pensions—in short, by all means of seduction, to re-enter for long periods, for ten, or fifteen, or perhaps twenty years. It is hoped that thus a permanent regular army may be formed, with an esprit de corps of its own, unsympathising with the people, and ready to keep it down; and such will, I believe, be the result. But it will take nine or ten years to produce such an army-and the dangers that I fear are immediate.'

What are the motives,' I asked, 'for the changes as to the conscription, the increase of numbers, and the diminution of the time of service?'

•They are parts,' he answered, ‘of the system. The

1857.)

National Characteristics.

183

French peasant, and indeed the ouvrier, dislikes the service. The proportion of conscripts who will re-enlist is small. Therefore the whole number must be large. The country must be bribed to submit to this by the shortness of the term. The conscript army will be sacrificed to what is to be the regular army. It will be young and ill-trained.'

'But your new regular army,' I said, 'will be more formidable to the enemy than your present force.'

'I am not sure of that,' he answered. The merit of the French army was the impetuosity of its attack, the “furia Francese," as the Italians called it. Young troops have more of this quality than veterans. The Maison du Roi, whose charge at Steenkirk Macaulay has so well described, consisted of boys of eighteen.'

'I am re-editing,' I said, 'my old articles. Among them is one written in 1841 on the National Character of France, England, and America,' as displayed towards foreign nations. I have not much to change in what I have said of England or of America. As they have increased in strength they have both become still more arrogant, unjust, and shameless.

England has perhaps become a little more prudent. America a little less so. But France seems to me to be altered. I described her as a soldier with all the faults of that unsocial character. As ambitious, rapacious, eager for nothing but military glory and territorial aggrandisement. She seems now to have become mode

[ocr errors]

· This article is republished in the Historical and Philosophical Essays. Longmans : 1865.-ED.

rate and pacific, and to be devoted rather to the arts of peace than to those of war.'

"France is changed,' answered Tocqueville, and when compared with the France of Louis XIV., or of Napoleon, was already changed when you wrote, though the war-cry raised for political purposes in 1840 deceived you. At the same time, I will not deny that military glory would, more than any other merit, even now strengthen a Government, and that military humiliation would inevitably destroy one. Nor must you overrate the unpopularity of the last war. Only a few even of the higher classes understood its motives. “Que diable veut cette guerre ?" said my country neighbour to me; "si c'était contre les Anglais—mais avec les Anglais, et pour le Grand Turc, qu'est-ce que cela peut signifier?” But when they saw that it cost only men, that they were not invaded or overtaxed, and that prices rose, they got reconciled to it.

• It was only the speculators of Paris that were tired of it. And if, instead of the Crimea, we had fought near our own frontiers, or for some visible purpose, all our military passions, bad and good, would have broken out.'

Wednesday, May 13.-Tocqueville came in after breakfast, and I walked with him in the shade of the green walls or arcades of the Tuileries chestnuts.

We talked of the Montijos, which led our conversation to Mérimée and V.

• Both of them,' said Tocqueville, were the friends of Countess Montijo, the mother.

*V. was among the last persons who knew Eugénie

1857.)

Martin's History of France.

185

.as Countess Théba. He escorted her to the Tuileries the very evening of her marriage. There he took his leave of her. “You are now,” he said, “placed so high that I can only admire you from below.” And I do not believe that they have met since.

Mérimée took a less sentimental view of the change. He acknowledged his Empress in his former plaything, subsided from a sort of stepfather into a courtier, and so rose to honour and wealth, while V. is satisfied to remain an ex-professor and un homme de lettres.'

[ocr errors]

We met Henri Martin, and I asked Tocqueville what he thought of his History.

It has the merit of selling,' he said, which cannot be said of any other History of France. Martin is laborious and conscientious, and does not tell a story ill; but he is a partisan and is always biassed by his own likings and dislikings. He belongs to the class of theorists, unfortunately not a small one, whose political beau idéal is the absence of all control over the will of the people--who are opposed therefore to an hereditary monarchyto a permanent President—to a permanent magistracyto an established Church-in short, to all privileged classes, bodies, or institutions. Equality, not liberty or security, is their object. They are centralisers and absolutists. A despotic Assembly elected by universal suffrage, sitting at most for a year, governing, like the Convention, through its committees, or a single despot, appointed for a week, and not re-eligible, is the sort of ruler that they would prefer. The last five years have perhaps disgusted Martin with his Asiatic democracy, but his earlier volumes are coloured throughout by his prejudices against all systems implying a division of power, and independent authorities controlling and balancing one another.'

We talked of the Secret Police..

It has lately,' said Tocqueville, 'been unusually troublesome, or rather it has been troublesome to a class of persons

whom it seldom ventures to molest. A friend of mine, M. Sauvaire Barthélemy, one of Louis Philippe's peers, was standing at the door of his hotel reading a letter. A gentleman in plain clothes addressed him, announced himself as an agent de police, and asked him if the letter which he was reading was political. “No," said Barthélemy, “you may see it.

It is a billet de mariage." "I am directed,” said the agent, "to request you to get into this carriage.” They got in and drove to Mazas. There Barthélemy was shown into a neat room with iron bars to the windows, and ordered to wait. After some time Louis Pietri, the Préfet de Police, arrived.

""I am grieved,” he said, " at giving you so much trouble, but I have been commanded to see you in this place, and to inform you that the Emperor cannot bear that a man in your high position should systematically misrepresent him.

"L'Empereur fait tout ce qu'il peut pour le bonheur de la France, et il n'entend pas supporter une opposition aussi constante et aussi violente. Effectivement il ne veut pas d'opposition. Voulez-vous le tenir pour dit,

« НазадПродовжити »